A week after the tragedy the whole town was still quite mournful. Iriella did not come down from her hut for three days but had eventually appeared at the inn. She was quiet, and withdrawn, though polite enough to anyone who spoke to her. Alvor had suggested some sort of commemoration for Rune, to which Iriella had agreed. Her despair had given her a new understanding of feeling and she realised that other people needed to grieve too. They gave him a proper burial, the whole town attended. Rune had been well liked by all who lived there and would be sadly missed. Hod stood at the side of the grave
“May you hunt with Hircine” he said, and the townsfolk bowed their heads. Iriella looked up first, something in the trees caught her eye. It looked like a dog of some sort, but with dark fur. She shook her head; she must have imagined it. The others were filing down the hill back towards town in a silent, sombre line, a few sniffles could be heard from Sigrid, and Gerdur walked with her arm around her comfortingly. Iriella watched them go and stood next to the place her boy was buried.
“Iriella?” She gave a start but relaxed when she saw Faendal had lingered behind with her.
“What is it, Elf?” She asked, her eyes returning to the freshly turned soil.
“You’re thinking of leaving. Aren’t you?” She looked up at him sharply, and her gaze softened after a beat.
“You know me better than I would like to admit” she murmured and Faendal bowed his head.
“I’m right then?”
“Do you need me to come with you?”
“No” He nodded, comprehending at once. They started down the hill for the town.
“Your place is here, Faendal. It’s where you belong.” He looked half crestfallen and half relieved, Faendal was no fighter, even if he was one of the best archers in the hold. “Don’t you worry” Iriella said, patting the gleaming wolf head sword hilt at her side. “I’ll not forget you in a hurry” She gave him a rare smile.
“I do hope you find peace, Iriella. I feel he will watch over you, always.” She bowed graciously to him and set off for home, a plan forming in her head. Trotting up the hill behind her, Invisible to anyone’s eyes, was a ghostly snow wolf. While Iriella packed some things it sat outside, watching, waiting.
The next morning, she bade farewell to the townsfolk, she thanked them all for their kindnesses, for accepting her, and for showing her that there are good people in the world. Even Alvor had a few tears in his eyes as he embraced her.
“You take care of yourself; you hear?” he whispered to her.
“I’ll do my best, Alvor” she mumbled back. He had come to see her almost like a daughter of sorts and would miss their little trips to Whiterun.
Sigrid and Gerdur hugged her warmly, telling her she would always be welcome to return, and they would keep her cabin clean for her. Even Delphine shook her hand.
“I may not have liked you at first…but I always respected you.” She said in a low voice.
“Thank you, Delphine, I’m sorry for causing you trouble.”
“There will always be a bed for you at the Sleeping Giant” Delphine said, bowing her head. Iriella returned the bow graciously. Hod Clapped her on the back and wished her well, as did Embrey, who was sober for once.
After various other farewells she turned to Faendal, she held him by his shoulders and regarded him fondly.
“You know, Elf, with my hound gone, I think that makes you my greatest companion.” Her eyes threatened to fill with tears, and they embraced warmly.
“Thanks for always having my back” he murmured. They stepped back and Iriella nodded to Alvor, who retreated into his house. He returned with a long, curved item, wrapped in cloth. He handed it to her, and she presented it to Faendal.
“Here, this is for you.” He took it from her looking confused. She gave him a grin and without another word she made her way out of Riverwood. The townsfolk waved her off and returned to their various business. Faendal stood watching her leave feeling a little sad. He had grown very fond of the unruly Nord. He felt a hand slipping into his, and he looked over to see Camilla stood at his side. She smiled at him warmly.
“She will be back” she said reassuringly, and she took his arm and led him back to the inn. Once inside he placed the covered item on the table,undid the ties at either end and threw back the cloth. Camilla gasped’
“That’s beautiful, do you think she carved it herself?” Faendal held the item up, an ornate bow, unlike any he had seen before. The wood had been carefully whittled by a skilled hand. It was carved to look as though the bow were made from leaves; at each end there was a wolf’s head, exactly like the sword he had gifted Iriella.
“She told me once that her father enjoyed wood carvings.” Faendal mused as he admired the bow once more before setting it back on the table. Camilla slipped her arm around his waist.
“It seems I have gained two beautiful things” he said quietly and grinned down at her beside him.
The wind howled around Jorrvaskr, Ria threw another log on the fire and sat back down to discuss the pros and cons of heavy weapons and lighter weapons with Farkas. The morning had started out bright with a light breeze but by the afternoon the wind had picked up greatly. A few other companions sat about the great hall, some talking, some reading and two sparring with each other. Skjor sat smoking a pipe listening to Farkas and Ria debating weaponry, though all chatter came to a halt as the sound of someone’s fist pounding the door could be heard. The companions looked from one to the other questioningly, and Skjor rose slowly and went to the door as the pounding sounded again.
He heaved back the great door and chuckled.
“Well well well” he looked the visitor up and down. “To what do we owe this pleasure?” Without waiting for an answer, he took a step back and motioned inside. A hooded figure walked into the hall and Skjor slammed the door shut behind them. All eyes were on the new arrival, as they reached up a gleam of a sword hilt could be seen. The hood was pulled down and a Nord stood before them. A Nord with Fiery red hair and bright blue eyes. Skjor took a puff from his pipe before speaking and gestured toward their guest.
“This, is Iriella.”