A/N: I've decided to re-write this as I really rushed the ending last time. It ended where I wanted it but I'm not happy with it, so I'm doing a revist and trying again. So if you think you've read this before, you basically have. If you want to read the old version in it's entirity it's on the skyrimkinkmeme, somewhere on page 6 I believe. This time around it will be told solely through Ariella's point of view. I really think this is her story and felt like I spent most of the time in Vilkas' head in the first version. I wasn't going to do this, but honestly these two have stuck around in my head for a long time so need to get it down on paper.
Ariella wanted to go home. She had jumped at the chance to head to the Imperial City for a short while but now it seemed the simple task would have her travelling across most of Tamriel. Sometimes being the youngest of the scholars had serious pitfalls.
Ariella was the youngest scholar at the Library of Daggerfall and has been since she was 15. She was possibly the youngest scholar ever, but it was unclear. Most of her coworkers were at least in their 40s or 50s, some in their 30s, so Ariella was often sent out on jobs on behalf of the older ones.
Field work usually didn't bother her so much. She was yet to find a specialisation so her work was not as important as the others. Besides, she believed the more time she spent in the world the better the chance she would find something spectacular to make her focus. Most of the topics that interested her were already well researched with experts of their own. She loved the Akaviri and most dead cultures but they had their own scholars in the library already.
She had been sent to the Imperial City to copy out of books for Jhared, an older man, pushing 60, who was looking into the Void Nights. Three books needed copying so they could be added to Daggerfall's own library. When she arrived she spoke to the librarian, whom she recognised from previous visits. Three days the scholar and the librarian spent searching for the books only to find none of them. It was very strange, and Ariella knew it was unlike the Imperial City library to be so lax with the records. The librarian followed up with some of her coworkers and found out the books had been transferred to the Mage's Guild in Bruma. So off Ariella went. She made her way to the frigid city only to find that yet again the books were not there.
Some Thalmor agent had said they needed the books to be sent to the College of Winterhold in Skyrim. Ariella wanted to scream. How was it the three books she needed to copy had all found their way out of the Imperial Library at once? And to Skyrim of all places?
Yet the scholar could not end her journey with the task incomplete. She sent word to Daggerfall that her journey would take a while longer still and took a carriage from Bruma into Skyrim.
It was in that journey that she had gotten mixed up with some horse thief, and then the Stormcloaks. Ariella didn't know much about foreign politics, but even she knew who the Stormcloaks were.
She shuddered thinking of Helgen. She had almost been sent to the chopping block for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Then there was the dragon.
"I need to go tell the Jarl about a dragon. A real life dragon." Ariella said mostly to herself as she left Riverwood. She waved goodbye to Ralof and Gerdur. She was thankful she had met a man like Ralof. He had a kind heart and had helped her escape Helgen.
His sister, Gerdur, let Ariella stay a few days while she recovered and gathered supplies to journey onwards. Ariella wasn't much of a fighter, she knew little magic, and only had basic sword and bow training - which Hugh had forced her to learn at a young age. Being where she was right now, she wished she had listened to him more.
She adjusted the bow slung across her back as she headed in the direction of Whiterun. Gerdur had asked that she tell the Jarl about the Dragon. It was the least she could do honestly, Gerdur and Lod had given her everything she now possessed. Robes, a bow, a small dagger, a pack and even food from their own table.
She wondered if everybody in Skyrim would be as hospitable.
Ralof told her she would be able to catch a carriage from Whiterun to Winterhold. She had done some jobs around Riverwood for the townsfolk and earned almost enough to cover her carriage ride. Yet Whiterun seemed to be a major city, so she imagined the work would be readily available.
As she neared the city she came to a small farm on the open plains. She could hear the sounds of shouting, swords slashing and some creature roaring. Never a dull moment in Skyrim.
Ariella saw the giant, with two warriors weaving between its legs trying to bring it down. Thinking this would be a good chance to potentially make a little more coin she readied her bow and shot a single arrow. She had been aiming for the giant's back, but at the last second the beast turned and swung low, spinning its body and her arrow hit the giant square in the eye.
It swayed on its feet for a moment before falling to the ground. She put her bow away and began looking around for the owner of the farm, but saw the two warriors moving over to her.
"You fight well." The redheaded woman said with a smile. She was strong with a fierce face and icy eyes that Ariella felt stared right through her. Her armour left little to the imagination, but honestly, Ariella couldn't blame her for that. "And with a bow, a fine weapon. I'm Aela, this is my shield brother, Farkas"
"Uh… I'm Ariella." Ariella muttered. Unsure what was really happening with this situation. She half stuck out her hand to shake it and the redhead grabbed it fiercely.
"You new around here? Haven't seen you before" the tall Nord man spoke in a gravelly voice, direct and to the point. He had black hair, an unkempt beard and a very handsome face. He had dark paint around his eyes which made his blue eyes pop. With his heavy armour and steely gaze, Ariella wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of him.
"Yes, I'm a scholar from Daggerfall." Ariella replied quietly. The two warriors glanced towards each other and both had a look on their face. A reward was seemingly out of the question, so she began slowly walking away asking "Is this Whiterun?"
"Yes, home to the companions!" Aela beamed with pride, jogging to atch up so she could walk beside her.
"I don't know what that is," Ariella said looking at the ground as she walked. The two nords kept pace with her easily.
"The companions are a group of honourable warriors." Farkas spoke.
"Oh okay." she said, unsure what else to say as they approached the city gates. She asked a guard for directions to the Dragonsreach and the two companions still trailed behind her. She felt like she was being followed and she didn't like it.
"You have business with the Jarl?" Farkas asked, he walked just behind Ariella.
"Yes." She answered quietly, not wanting to tell the whole world what she was there for. Thankfully the layout of this city was simple enough. She found the markets, and saw the tree, the Gildergreen?, and knew Dragonsreach was close.
"We can escort you to the Jarl if you like, not just anybody is allowed in there you know." Aela commented.
"No thank you, that's quite alright." Ariella said, "It's just right up these steps isn't it?"
The two nords nodded and Ariella awkwardly smiled at them. "It was nice to meet you both." She said departing up the steps. They glanced at each other and didn't say anything to her.
Getting into the palace, if it was even called that, was easy enough. She mentioned she had word of the dragon attack and was ushered straight to the Jarl.
She liked Jarl Balgruuf, he seemed kind. He treated her with respect, even though she was sure she must have looked like some kind of vagrant. With her presumably messy hair, ill fitting robes and the days travel probably showing on her. Yet still he took her seriously and believed everything she said, which honestly was a step above how she was treated by most nobles in High Rock.
He offered her any assistance she might require, and while Ariella thought to ask for passage to Winterhold, she thought his offer was probably more a rhetoric thing than anything. He dismissed her, but not before giving her a small reward. It was almost enough to buy her passage to Winterhold, so it would have to do.
She left Dragonsreach and started heading down the steps. It was still around but she would probably need to get a room at an inn for the night. She made it halfway down the steps and then saw Aela and Farkas sitting by the Gildergreen.
"Talos take me," she muttered to herself as she saw them get up and begin to approach her.
"Ariella, we've been thinking, and think you should join us!" Aela said, linking arms with Ariella. She led Ariella as they walked, Farkas walking on the otherside of Ariella.
"I'm sorry, what?" Ariella was stunned
"As a companion." Farkas said, a small smile on his face. Ariella glanced between the two warriors.
"You fight well, and you would be more than welcome in the Jorrvaskr." The red headed woman smiled widely.
"Um, I'm a scholar though. Did I, uh, tell you this?" She looked between them waiting for their expressions to change.
"Aye you did, but you have a good eye as an archer and we could use more archers around here." Ariella felt like she was being misled, but she honestly wasn't sure why.
"I'm sorry, but I have to get to the College of Winterhold, that's the only reason I'm in Skyrim." She tried to pull her arm from Aela's but the redhead held on tight.
"You ever been to Skyrim before?" Farkas asked, his face a wash of concern.
"No..." She said softly, stopping her walk. The two companions exchanged a glance then their expressions became grave.
"Then you don't know how dangerous the road can be." Aela said, "Frost trolls, ice wolves, ice wraiths, snow bears. That's just what you'll encounter when you are near the College itself."
"I was going to take a carriage." Ariella said, trying to sound confident.
"Then unfortunately you'll have bandits, thieves and potential military raids. Skyrim is at war you know?" Farkas said, shaking his head slightly.
"I know that..." she looked down at her feet. Why did she have to come here of all places?
"Someone, now take no offence," Ariella had the feeling she was about to be offended. Aela looked very seriously at her, "Someone as unprepared as yourself might not be able to make the journey unfortunately."
Ariella was surprisingly not offended, the woman was just being realistic. It was true that she had run into more trouble in Skyrim than anywhere else in Tamriel. Between the war, and now dragons, would she really survive the journey to Winterhold? She could defend herself in a very basic way, but that might not be enough. Maybe if she did train with them for a while…
No. She was going to make it to the College of Winterhold and begin her work. Then she could get home. She had already been gone for two month which was honestly the longest she'd ever been away from home.
"Perhaps I can hire the Companions then? I have business to attend to." Ariella said.
"Would you be able to cover the cost of the companions?" Farkas said, raising an eyebrow at her. Ariella's pockets suddenly felt very light.
"An escort to Winterhold, you'd need at least two of us, so you'd been looking at a few hundred gold, at least." Aela said, hand on her chin as if she was doing some mental arithmetic.
"Oh… perhaps not then." Ariella said.
"I know!" Aela exclaimed. "You can speak to Kodlak!"
The Nords started moving again and Ariella was swept up in their movement. She tried to stop walking but Farkas linked with her other arm and the two much taller Nords practically carried her up the steps towards a building. The building appeared to have a boat for a roof. They walked her into the mead hall and took her down the steps inside. Ariella was seriously wondering if she was about to die. This interaction had been so strange from the get go, let alone now.
Farkas knocked on a door at the end of the underground hallway and the voices behind it stopped speaking.
"Enter" a man from within called out. The voice sounded old and weathered. Farkas pushed open the doors and the two warriors practically dragged Ariella into the room.
"Kodlak, do you have a moment?" Aela said, sitting Ariella down in a chair before he had a chance to respond.
Ariella glanced around the room. The older man, perhaps Kodlak, was looking shocked and the man next to him looked annoyed. The two men in the room wore the same armour. Heavy like Farkas but theirs was decorated with wolves. Ariella shot a glance between the second man and Farkas, they looked identical. The brother had a slightly different build from Farkas, slimer, but their faces were the same. Must be twins, she thought when he spoke.
"Did she steal something?"
She was stunned, is that what he thought she looked like? Some common thief? "No brother, she wishes to join the companions!" Farkas said.
"Wait-" Ariella said protesting.
"Tell us if she has the fire in her heart to be a companion." Aela interrupted, her hand placed firmly on Ariella's shoulder holding her in the seat.
"Well let's have a look at you then." Kodlak said, turning to face her, bone cracking as he did so. Farkas' brother was glancing between Farkas and Aela as if something was definitely strange. Ariella knew it was strange, what had she gotten swept up into? "You have a certain fire in you."
"What?" Both Ariella and Farkas' twin said in unison.
"Kodlak, you can't be serious." Farkas' twin protested
"I-I'm sorry, but I'm not-" Ariella said at the same time
"See!" Aela exclaimed, shutting up the twin and Ariella. The twin eyed Aela suspiciously, Ariella couldn't blame him honestly.
"Any experience in battle, girl?"
"Nonsense!" Farkas said, "Shot an arrow right into a giant's eye! Right outside the city."
Kodlak chuckled, as if he was cluing into some joke. What it was, Ariella wasn't sure. From the look on Farkas' brother's face he was also slow to get the joke.
"What's your name, girl?" Kodlak asked, his eyes full of merriment.
"Ariella..." she replied slowly.
"Well Ariella, welcome to the Companions."
"What?" Ariella and the twin said again in unison.
"I'm sure Farkas and Aela can help train that arm of yours." Kodlak continued onwards, ignoring the scholar's protests.
"But-" Ariella began.
"Aela and Farkas, show Ariella around before starting to train." Kodlak said with a final nod.
"We'll find you a bed in the whelp room." Aela said, pulling Ariella out of her seat.
"Then we can give you a tour of all Whiterun." Farkas said, "Care to join us, brother?"
Ariella made a face, what was going on? She certainly didn't want the grumpy other man to be there.
"No. I don't know what game you're playing." Farkas' brother replied with suspicion in his voice.
"Oh lighten up, there's no game." Aela said, closing the door as they left. Ariella could just hear Kodlak chuckling behind the door. Ariella was certain there was some game, but she didn't know what. She just wasn't sure if she was a pawn or if the game was at her expense.