A week passed and another Midyear storm hit the hold. They were quite common this time of year, some believed that it was due to the expelled mages from the Winterhold College experimenting. There had been whispers about strange comings and goings at Fellglow Keep since last Rains Hand, and there had been many inexplicable weather changes following this. Snow fall in the middle of Midyear, but just for a day; then bright sun in Frosts fall, again for just a day. There were mysterious noises and sightings of women figures covered in fire. Locals had stayed away from the place for the last year owing to the oddities. This storm was worse than usual, wind howled around Riverwood, rattling doors and windows. The rain hammered down onto the roof of every building, the noise was deafening. The residents were holed up in the Inn, it had the highest and thickest roof and the noise was ever so slightly lessened in there. Everyone was glum, the weather would halt all work, damage their crops and possibly the smaller buildings. Hod, Alvor, Faendal and Lucan sat discussing the implications of dragons with the guardsmen who were assigned to the town on watch; most of the women bustled about assisting Orgnar with cleaning and making food. Delphine was notably absent having left a day before without so much as a word to anyone. She’d told Orgnar she was travelling for a few days, and she’d left with Fenrig, the new local celebrity. It had come about that he was the Dragonborn that the Greybeards had summoned, he’d been all the way up to High Hrothgar atop the Throat of the World, the very mountain at which Riverwood lay at the base of. He’d turned up asking to rent the ‘Attic Room’ the day before, and had disappeared with Delphine into her room, then they had geared up and left the Inn a few hours later. Of course, it was suspected that all this was meant to be kept secret but with a town as small as Riverwood well, it was hard to keep anything quiet there! Sven sat in the corner scowling at Faendal when Camilla brought him over a drink and then sat beside him, had he played his cards right some time ago then he would have been sat with a tell-tale blush on his cheeks, not the Bosmer.
Iriella paced up and down, she hated being shut in so; Rune was not as agitated as his mistress, but he was on the alert. The children played in one of the bedrooms while the mothers popped their heads in every now and then to check on them. Even old Stump, Frodnar’s dog was snuggled up by the fire pit, though he was quite content to sleep through the storm.
“I don’t like it” Iriella stopped pacing, she waved away a mug of ale offered to her by Faendal. “I feel like we’ve forgotten something” She resumed her pacing then came to a sudden halt. “Rusty!” She exclaimed, and everyone turned to look at her. “Alvor, where is he?”
“Outside the gates grazing” Alvor groaned realising that in their haste at getting everyone into safety he had forgotten his faithful steed who was tied on his long rope so he could graze in peace. The heavens had opened with no warning, he had been left outside the town walls!
“Alvor, he’s worth everything, he’s our way of transport – we cannot afford another horse!” Sigrid was wringing her hands, it was seldom she got upset, but as Rusty was a big part of the way they kept the townsfolk going it distressed her to think they would be letting people down. Alvor stood reluctantly, he was aging, and not fit or healthy enough to be running out in dire storms to rescue abandoned geldings.
“I’ll go.” Iriella was already pulling on her cloak and fastening her scabbard. She put a hand on Alvor’s shoulder to sit him back down in his seat. “Rune let’s go” Rune was already on his feet raring to go at his mistress’s command as usual. Before anyone could stop them, they were out the door, the wind slamming it shut with such force that everyone in the building jumped, even old Embrey who was dozing in the corner full of ale.
The rain beat down on Iriella’s hood so hard she couldn’t hear a thing apart from its deafening roar. Lightning flashed across the sky casting a brief interlude of vision before she was plunged once again into the darkness. She felt down at her side for Rune, he was soaked but he was there next to her. He felt reassured by her touch and he started working to sniff out the right direction, Iriella could barely lift her head to see with the rain as it was so she relied on Rune to guide them with his senses. They made their way toward the town wall, Iriella had her hands out in front of her, she stopped when she could feel the stone beneath her fingertips, and worked her way along to the left to find the break in the wall marking the entrance to the Whiterun side of town. Making their way through the opening at last the pair of them stood in the shelter of the wooden walkway over the wall. Another crash of thunder sounded ominously and though it seemed impossible the rain got heavier,
“Wait for the lightning!” Iriella shouted as loud as she could over the noise to Rune, the wolf bowed his head and after a few seconds the skies were alight once more. Iriella could make out Rusty’s form in the few seconds of light that she had; the horse was frightened but unable to free himself. She and Rune made their way to him, he was jumping about like one of the wild horses but somehow Iriella managed to catch hold of the leather halter and strap, she took out her small knife, there was no time to try and find the end of the strap to untie him, she cut the stiff leather with great difficulty, firstly on account of Rusty’s stamping and braying, and secondly because the leather was very thick.
“By Sithis Alvor, you don’t mess about with your tanning” she muttered under her breath as the strap finally came free. It was all she could do to keep hold of the terrified gelding, somehow, she managed it and eventually they were back under the walkway. The rain was driving in from the east, so they weren’t overly sheltered but it was enough for Rusty to recognise Iriella as someone he knew and trusted, and the big animal began to calm down. She led him to the stable area and pulled him inside, there was no light, but it was dry, and she could close the doors to keep him inside out of the weather. After seeing that he was safe she battled with the top against the wind, eventually slamming it shut she slid the latch in place, cutting her finger as she did so but she could hardly feel the pain.
She pulled her hood back up over her head and turned to make her way back to the Inn, reaching out for Rune to guide her, but he wasn’t there.
“Rune?” She called out to him, but her voice was lost in the din of the rain and thunder, which was closer now, it must have been right above them. “RUNE!” she called, as loud as her voice would go but still nothing. Had he gone back inside? Why would he leave her? She started to panic, she could hardly see and now Rune wasn’t responding, perhaps he just couldn’t hear her. Dash it all had she shut him in with Rusty by mistake? She fumbled for the latch on the door, cursing herself for being so stupid not to check. As her fingers desperately sought the metal bolt she was hit on the back of the head, hard. She fell forward, banging her forehead, ironically on the bolt she had been looking for before stumbling to the ground.
Iriella felt a dull thud to her ribs, and another to her back, was someone kicking her? Rusty? Everything hurt, and the pain kept coming, she could not see or hear the source but whatever it was rained down the blows for what felt like an eternity, though in reality was only probably about another minute or two before whatever it was had decided she was beaten enough and stopped. She clutched her face, she felt blood oozing from her nose, mixing with the rain which now drummed on her uncloaked head, and it hurt, it really hurt; everything was painful, and she felt like her left leg was on fire. She tried to reach out for anything but all she found was mud and gravel, her fingers clutched at the soaking floor before she gave into the pain and closed her eyes, Runes name a whisper on her lips, everything went silent and dark around her as she lost consciousness.