The sun is beginning to disappear behind the snow-capped mountains to the right of you. There isn't one single cloud in the sky, and the first lot of stars are beginning to appear.
You inhale the crisp evening air, feel the breeze comb through your hair. Skyrim is a harsh, cold land. In parts its completely barren, with no love for a careless wanderer. Yet, you can't help but admire its untamed beauty.
The black warhorse that Vilkas rides, snorts, tosses its head from side to side and crunches on its bit. Vilkas slaps its neck, mutters to the horse. The soothing words are exhaled with white vapour clouds. They're the first words he has spoken in hours.
It's been a long day. You feel your muscles sag, and your bones and rear are numb from sitting in a saddle all day. You think about suggesting stopping for the evening and then it happens.
It hits you before you even hear its roar, the sensation of a million icy fingers running up your spine. You shudder. The evening air brings something other than cold.
You can hear the beat of its mighty wings. The sky above you darkens. You don't look up, not even when Vilkas' leaps from his horse and shouts the beast's name.
You just know.
From the moment when you uttered your first dragon word,, when you defeated the dragon outside Whiterun and its soul dissolved into yours. Since then you have been aware of them. Known when they were close.
Now you know one has found you. Know even before it lands on the road before you.
The ground shakes beneath its feet.
Vilkas' calls your name. 'By Ysgramor's beard! A dragon.' He rubs the back of his neck, and you notice the tone of uncertainty in his voice, as if even he doubts what he is saying.
The black warhorse rears. Its eyes roll back in its sockets. Grabbing hold of the reigns, Vilkas tries to steady it but then loosens his grip and slaps the horse on its rump. It neighs and thunders off in the opposite direction.
The dragon slams its forearms into the ground. The burnt orange of the dying sunset adds shine to its grey scales.
Vilkas knocks an arrow onto the string of his bow. 'Are you coming down, or are you going to stay up there and fight?' He pulls back the string.
The arrow whistles through the air, heads straight for the dragon's head. But before it can reach its target the dragon rears, beats its wing causing a cloud of dust and earth, and knocks the arrow away from its destination.
Landing on all of its four limbs, the dragon begins to scrabble towards you.
Your horse dances beneath you, twists and turns on the spot. Stamps its feet on the ground, and tries to break free of your grip. There's no point staying on a creature who wishes to head away from danger as opposed to towards it, so you slip your feet out of the stirrups and slide down as Vilkas grabs the reigns.
Vilkas sends your horse after his with another slap.
'Didn't think you were going to join me there,' he says, loads another arrow and lets it fly. 'Thought you might want to join the horses.' He looks at you directly in the eyes, tilts his head back and you catch one of his rare smiles.
Another arrow from Vilkas' bow is fired. It hits the dragon in a soft spot just near its knee joint. It doesn't hinder the dragon. You imagine the arrows are what flies are to a horse.
In a few groping strides it stands before you and Vilkas, a behemoth in armour made of raven scales.
As the dragon rears, your muscles tense, rooting you to the spot.
There's a voice at the back of your mind. You hate to acknowledge it for fear of feeling like a coward, but that doesn't stop it from being there. It's always there. Every warrior hears it when they are presented with situations like this. It is the death knell. The keening screech of the banshee. It is a voice telling you that you are going to die.
The dragon snaps its head back and then drives it at you. With only the thought of preserving your life for a little longer, you bring your shield up.
Its snout crashes against the wood of the shield. Your feet begin to slide beneath you, churning up mud. Automatically you screw your feet up in your boots, as if your toes could break through your footwear and into the ground for extra grip.
You wonder what Vilkas is doing, and what you did to warrant the full attention of the dragon - considering he was the one firing the arrows. Then, as if he has read your mind, he appears at your side.
The Nord swings his sword just as the dragon opens his mouth.
The dragon's teeth are like mini pikes. About the size of your arm with deadly points, you know that with teeth like that, it could snap you in half with one bite.
For a second the dragon's attention is diverted to Vilkas' broad sword. It's teeth clash against the sword's metal. A sudden burst of flame comes from the back of its throat. The acrid smell of burnt wood and overcooked flesh fills your nostrils.
Vilkas dodges away.
The dragon swings its head back towards you. It hits you in the chest and sends you backwards. You feel the air forced out of your lungs, and feel the sudden thump of the earth hitting your back. You see the night sky and the first trail of the aurora borealis as it begins to dance.
That voice was right. You are going to die.