After the trip to Ansilvund, Vilkas started assigning Rowan more jobs, and before long, she was just as productive as the rest of the Companions. She still had trouble with the sword, but she didn’t let that stop her if she needed to use it. She did everything she could to avoid using it and improvised when she had to, but she did it, and Dagur could no longer say she wasn’t pulling her weight. That still didn’t mean they got along. He was always berating her for something or another, and she finally got tired of it and started defending herself.
Vilkas tried to forget that he had told Rowan he would take her on a mission, but she wouldn’t let him. Anything would do; she just had to get out there and prove herself. Besides, it wasn’t like she was helpless with a sword. She could fight with one if she had to; she just wasn’t the best at it. But let her fight from a distance, and she would be every bit as good as the older Companions.
In the meantime, she continued to train and tried to learn all she could. She found Dagur/Dolff a distraction, though, because he clearly didn’t like her, and she hated to be disliked. He would glare at her, especially when she smiled at him first, snap at her when she spoke, and ridicule her swordsmanship. It didn’t go quite so far that he seemed to be picking on her—after all, everybody ridiculed her swordsmanship—but he let her know without saying a word that he had no use for her whatsoever. She thought at first it was because she knew his secret, but she was starting to think it was something else. Whatever it was, Rowan found him very intimidating, and when he was in the practice yard, she found it difficult to concentrate.
* * *
5E 11, 20 Second Seed
Ten-year-old Rowan Stormblade crept through the Cistern slowly, silently, hugging the wall as best she could. She would do it this time; she just knew it. Her daddy was distracted, talking to Rune about a job he had done. He didn’t even know she was in the Cistern. Just a few more feet. She slipped across the doorway leading to the vault, and she thought she saw Rune’s eyes flash in her direction—they were hard to miss these days, their golden glow unmistakable even in the dark—but he didn’t show any sign that he had seen her. Then she was right behind her daddy. Slowly, carefully, she eased forward and reached for the coin purse that hung from his belt. She took hold of the string with one hand and started to cut with her dagger. She had done it!
Brynjolf raised his hand and placed it over hers before she could cut the string.
“Oh, horker poop!” she spat.
Selene and Brynjolf were attacked by a tribe of Foresworn at sunset near a ruined castle only a few miles from the Karthspire. After eliminating their assailants, they camped in the shadow of the castle, and they made it to Sky Haven Temple early the next morning. Delphine and her new recruits were already training in the courtyard. Blades clanged and fighters grunted as they sparred, and Delphine stood off to the side and spouted orders and instructions. She raised an eyebrow when Selene walked up to her.
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