Tara woke with a start. She reached out next to her…no Freta.
Sitting up in the tent, she rubbed her eyes and got her bearings. They were camping near Fort Farragut outside of Cheydinhal. They’d been camping a week. Cheydinhal was getting expensive and jobs hadn’t been as easy to come by. Three months into the new year, and they needed to decide where they were heading next. Tara had been angling for Bruma. She still had the sealed parchment Freta didn’t know about.
The weather was turning warmer, so heading north wouldn’t be a problem, she’d argued. Chorrol was also an option, and where Freta was leaning. Though, Bruma was closer to Skyrim. Tara wondered if Freta was leading up to that topic…wanting to go home to Skyrim.
If she did, then what? Tara wasn’t ready for Skyrim. Nords didn’t trust magic. She didn’t even know if there was a mage guild or college there. Here, in Cyrodiil, there was the College of Whispers. Tara was going to get into it. That was her priority.
She stumbled out of the tent to see Freta tending a fresh fire and skinning a rabbit. The sky was the gray of pre-dawn.
“You’re up early,” Tara said.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Freta answered. She looked at Tara for a long moment. “You tossed and turned a lot.”
“Cut up some potatoes. Help me with breakfast,” Freta said.
Tara started on the potatoes and they worked quietly for a short time. Once the rabbit was roasting on the spit and the potatoes were boiling in the small pot, Freta spoke again.
“You said her name again last night.”
“What? Who?” Tara asked.
“When you tossed and turned. You were dreaming. You said her name again.”
“Oh,” Tara said. She thought for a minute. She usually didn’t remember her dreams. Well, except the ones of fire, but, normally, she didn’t remember them.
Except, now she did remember last night’s dream. Freta was right. The girl, woman, had been in the dream, as she’d been in one a month ago.
“It’s a premonition,” Freta said, flatly. She was watching Tara with a mix of tenderness and worry.
“Come on,” Tara said. “I’m not a soothsayer. Or witch. I know magic runs in my family, but…”
“Describe her to me,” Freta interrupted. “How did she look in last night’s dream?”
Tara thought for a moment. She almost started speaking in poetic words, caught herself, and kept it simple.
“She has brown hair, long, past her shoulders. Eyes are brown, I think. And scars on her face. And body. Somehow, I know she has scars on her body. She was wearing armor in the dream.”
What she really wanted to say was the woman in her dream had long, luscious brown hair. The kind you couldn’t help but run your fingers through. And her eyes. The eyes are what drew you in. Her eyes were a golden brown, hazel, with the depth of someone who’d overcome a great loss. There was a soul in them; a soul that called out with pain and strength. To Tara, the woman was beautiful, though she imagined many would be turned off by the scars. In her dream, a long thin scar ran along the woman’s left jaw line, stopping shy of her chin. A shorter one was high on her left cheek. They were old, as if from a battle years before. And, without ever seeing it, Tara knew the woman’s body carried many more scars. Scars that told a story.
“What were you doing in this dream with her?” Freta asked.
Tara closed her eyes to remember. “I’m guarding her? Protecting her, somehow. Not alone, though. There’s someone else guarding her. And, there’s a child? Maybe she’s the child? It’s…hard to tell. Maybe we’re in a valley. I’m not sure.”
“It’s a premonition,” Freta said, firmly. “Exactly how you described her and the dream last time.”
“You really believe in premonitions?” Tara asked. She’d always been skeptical of them. The idea that some people could see the future seemed strange. There was no magic spell for peering into the future. Wouldn’t there be one, if people really had premonitions? Then again, she knew Khajiits believed them and many sought guidance from soothsayers.
But, her, Tara, have a premonition? Why would the Divines bless her with that gift, yet leave her struggling with magic?
That’s not why you struggle with magic.
“There is much the Divines do we cannot comprehend,” Freta interrupted her thoughts. “I’ll never understand why they show these futures to some. Doesn’t change anything. Whoever this Rigmor is, she’s in your future.”
Tara thought on the dream more. All she could remember was the sense of fighting, and protecting. And the sound of a young child, a girl. She couldn’t get a sense of where they were, when they were, or of the other person she knew was there, offering protection. Whoever that person was, there was something powerful about them. She did have a sense of that from them. Otherwise, they were faceless.
“Well,” she said to Freta. “Without more details, I have no idea when or what the future holds with this Rigmor. But, I know my immediate future is this breakfast. Let’s eat.”
After much back and forth over breakfast, Tara gave up the argument, and agreed they’d travel to Chorrol next. Spend a month or two there, then travel to Bruma.
“We don’t want to go to Bruma until the weather’s warmer,” Freta said. “Closer to summer.”
She is going to want to go to Skyrim, Tara thought. That’s why she wants it to be summer. The mountain pass that leads into Skyrim would be easier to traverse by then.
When to tell her about the College of Whispers? Tara wanted to go to Bruma and setup a place for them to stay awhile. Then, go to the college, start training, and spend time with Freta in Bruma when not training. She hadn’t run any of it by Freta yet. Freta wasn’t going to like the college idea. But, if she could find steady work in Bruma, maybe they could work it out. Maybe, after Tara finished training at the college, they could go to Skyrim. That’d be the angle she’d work.
Are we doomed to split up? Tara wondered. She loved Freta’s practicality, her steadfastness. Her strength. What she’d learned from her about fighting, hunting, and, well, other things, had given Tara a confidence she’d been missing after so many years at home, being judged for what she wasn’t. Who she wasn’t. Freta had opened the world up to Tara.
She hadn’t lost her temper with Freta once. She had patience for the first time in her life, at least for one person. That was its own miracle.
I don’t want to lose her, or us, Tara thought. We’ll figure the magic issue out.
They broke camp, studied their map, and decided on a path towards Chorrol, using The Red Ring Road to pass the Imperial City and catch The Black Road to Chorrol from there. They could help a farm or two along the way, hopefully replenish their diminished savings with small jobs over the next week of travel. Part of the savings was so they could buy a horse. Traveling would be so much better when they had a horse. There was still so much in Cyrodiil to see. They hadn’t visited the Imperial City yet. Or, Leyawiin. A horse would make travel faster and they could really take their time in some cities, Tara thought. Getting to Skyrim would be far easier, too, if that’s where they ended up heading.
As they made their way down The Blue Road to connect with Red Ring, the sun finally burst over the horizon, lighting up the lands in a rich, yellow light. The sky shown a clear blue with only faint clouds. The weather would be glorious for the long walk.
They never made it to Chorrol.