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A High Priestess of Skyrim - Chapter 17

Discussion in 'Skyrim Fan Fiction' started by Bren, Mar 3, 2021.

  1. Bren

    Bren New Member

    Feb 14, 2021
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    Chapter 17

    27th of First Seed

    “It was not an entirely wasted journey.” Lucia said

    “In what respect was this not a wasted journey?” Runa asked.

    Lucia was quiet for moment. “Vilkas gave me a flower.” Lucia said.

    I anticipated the quip, and before Runa could strike, I executed my own flanking maneuver “And you had the opportunity to show Farkas Calcelmo’ s book of poems.” I said to Runa

    Lucia wasted no time initiating her attack. “What? Do my ears deceive me? You showed Farkas a book of love poems?” She asked with uncontained glee in her voice.

    Runa gave me a stare that would make a basilisk envious. “I see your grace is a master of the orthogonal attack as well as the direct assault.” She said.

    “I apologize. I presume too much.” I said

    “No, you presume the proper amount. My armor is not so fragile to be pierced by a friendly quip.” She said with a smile.

    “Do you believe this to be a wasted journey? Lucia asked.

    “Quite the opposite. I find that this journey has healed my spirit more than any spell or potion could have ever healed my body.” I said. “Even a potion of your father’s making.”

    Aric smiled. “Then I count this journey a success.” He said as we looked at each other.

    Lucia and Runa looked at each other but said nothing.


    “He was the most condescending egotistical Jarl I have met.” Jordis said. “And I have met several. I could not believe the things he said to you.”

    “Worse than what he said to me was his refusal of guards.” Aric said. “We will arrange for them at Whiterun.”

    “Honor to you my Thane, but this is not necessary. I am well able to look after myself.” Rigel said.

    “I will not risk you on this road in these unsettled times.” He said. “You know enough of events to know the wisdom of my decision.”

    “Yes, my Thane.” She said.

    “This is no time for ‘Yes, my Thane.’” He said. “Speak your mind in plain terms.”

    “Very well. The times have been unsettled since before I was born. They will continue to be so after I am dead. I am no babe that cannot be trusted to travel a road I have traveled many times. But I do wish to be cloistered behind the walls of Markath.” She said.

    “I understand, and I appreciate your honesty. But we have stirred a hornet’s nest of immense size, and we do not know yet how many there are, or how angry. They can easily send ten times the number we killed if they are more interested in vengeance than secrecy.” Aric said.

    “They cannot field so many in so short a time.” Rigel replied.

    “May I ask a question?” I asked.

    “You do not require permission to do so.” He said, an edge to his words. “Forgive me. I have not yet recovered my composure after speaking with Jarl Siddgeir. And my mind races with thoughts of what I have unleashed upon Skyrim by disturbing this hornet’s nest. My frustration is entirely with myself. I beg your pardon.”

    “This is not your fault.” I reminded him. “You did not establish clandestine Thalmor outposts in Skyrim or usurp a privately owned gold mine and kill all its occupants.”

    “The longer this continues the more I fear the reward will not justify the risk.” He said. “Please, ask your question.”

    “My question as a whole is two parts for Rigel, and one part for you.” I said to him.

    “Your grace may ask me anything.” Rigel said.

    “Rigel, do you wish to return to Markath as soon as possible?”

    “No, your grace. I wish to continue to serve and protect my Thane.” She said.

    “Are there pressing matters in Markath that require your immediate attention?” I asked

    “My sworn duty is to protect my Thane. Nothing else matters.”

    “You are also sworn to protect my property.” Aric reminded her.

    “Your property was built by the Dwarves out of the living rock and will survive until the sun rises no more. And Morryn is still there. She will deal with any robbers. Their remains will be in the dustbin by the door awaiting your return.”

    “Honored Thane, do you wish to send Rigel away?” I asked Aric.

    “I wish her to be safe, as I wish for all of you.” He said.

    “We do not know what is safe and what is not.” Lucia said. “With very few exceptions we do not know who we can trust. We here, we six, we are a strong group. Very strong. We have demonstrated that. Anyone who opposes us does so at their peril. We are what I trust. But if it becomes necessary, we are still a small enough group that we can disappear into the wilderness. We are well equipped. We know how to survive on only what the Divines provide skilled hunters and foragers. We should remain together. Your grace, what makes you smile so?”

    “Forgive me.” I said. “You remind me of your father. You have the wisdom of an Oracle. You have the skill of the warriors from the Epics. You have the bearing of a Monarch. And you are so beautiful. I believe I am beginning to worship a new deity.” I said

    There was an awkward silence, until: “If someone does not speak, my sister’s head will explode. Her face is an unhealthy hue.” Runa said.

    “Your grace is much too kind.” Was all Lucia said.

    “Your grace is not alone in your opinion, and your worship.” Aric said.

    “I hope I have not said too much.” I said.

    “I may tell Vilkas that he has competition.” Runa said

    “I may tell Farkas that you did not survive this journey.” Lucia said to her sister.

    “The Divines blessed me with wise women to advise me.” Aric said.

    “Speaking of wise women” Lucia said “Is it still your intention to stop at Helgen?

    “Yes. Our guest in Whiterun owes us answers, and I wish to be confident that he answers truthfully.” He said.

    This was news I had not heard.

    “I do not understand.” I said

    “Father knows a Truthsayer in Helgen. He will ask her to accompany us to Whiterun to interview our guest.” Lucia said.

    “I thought Truthsayers were myth. I have never heard of magic that can compel the truth from someone.” I said.

    “It is not magic, at least not in the sense that men know it. Not spells, or scrolls. It is an innate ability. She prefers the term ‘Wise Woman’.” Aric said

    This sounds too much like Aric to be a coincidence.

    “An innate ability like being Dragonborn?” I asked

    “I suppose.” He said. “I had never thought of it that way.”

    To us she has always been simply Ninoshenh Tayen.” Lucia said.

    “That is an unusual name.” I said

    “Her name is Tayen Tiva.” Runa said “It means New Moon Dance. Her mother named her when she was three when saw her dancing during the festival of the new moon. Until then she was just called ‘little girl’. Ninoshenh means ‘Aunt’.”

    “She has given all of us spirit names.” Lucia said. “They are the only names she ever uses with us.”

    “Really?” I asked. “What name did she give you?” I asked her.

    “Tayen named her ‘Orenda’.” Aric said. “It means ‘Magic Power’.”

    “She named papa ‘Ahanu’. Runa said. “It means ‘He laughs.’”

    “She named Runa ‘Catori’, which means ‘spirit’.” Lucia said.

    “She has a gift for names.” I said. “They are all unerringly on target.”

    “She has many gifts. We saw her briefly when we last stopped at Helgen.” Aric said.

    “Your family friend.” I said.

    “The gift of choosing real estate seems to have eluded her, however. Helgen would not be my first choice of homes.” Runa said.

    “I thought it an odd location for a Wise Woman as well.” I said

    “It is her home for the moment.” Aric said “She does not like cities, preferring a closer attachment to nature. But towns and villages occasionally employ her to perform rituals so that the village may prosper. That is why she is in Helgen.”


    We stopped by a small stand of trees that afforded shade and privacy for an accommodation. The weather had grown warmer and the shade was welcome.

    “How much confidence do you have in Tayen’s ability?” I asked Aric.

    “I have complete confidence in her.” He answered

    So, you will ask a question, he will answer, and she will say whether what he speaks is truth or no?” I asked

    “It will not be only his words she judges.” He said.

    “What then?” I asked

    “’Truth and purity are a perfect melody’ she said once.” Lucia said. “’As truth becomes falsehood and purity is corrupted false notes become evident. An innocent soul is like a morning mist. The sun rises and its rays penetrate without effort. There is no obstruction. Not so with a guilty soul. A hardness develops, blocking the light.’”

    “Many guilty cannot withstand her gaze and break down, cascading through memories of past wrongdoing, admitting their guilt.” Aric said. “But she does not need their admission. She will know.”

    I did not know how to respond to that.

    “I cannot decide whether that is a gift or a curse.” I said.

    “It is partly why she avoids cities and large groups of people. She is very private and would never pry; but sometimes it becomes too much.” Aric said.

    “And she truly loves nature and being within it.” Runa said.

    “The tongues of men are filled with deceits.” I said. “If you continue to look so astonished, I will take offense. I have been known to read a poem or two.” I said to more than one set of raised eyebrows.

    “I have never doubted that you are acquainted with poetry, madam. And certainly, music; because your words are poetry, and your voice music.” Aric replied.

    My face must have been bright red as I said, “Now who quotes poetry sir?”

    “Blessed Divines, are there no men left who do not recite poetry and look greenly at the sight of a beautiful face?” Runa asked.

    “Like Farkas, you mean?” Lucia asked

    “Yes, since you mention his name; like Farkas.” She replied. “He speaks plainly. It takes no time to translate his words to determine whether it was a compliment. There are not enough such men in Whiterun.”

    “Enough for the whole city, sister, or enough for you?” Lucia asked with a look of unbridled happiness.

    “I shall owe you and answer for that.” Runa said before picking up a branch of suitable length. “Have at you!”

    Lucia found a branch to her liking and the wooden battle was engaged. It quickly became obvious, however, that this was an old dance for the sisters. Each was well acquainted with the other, and no advantage was to be had.

    “I would that all battles had this amount of laughter.” Aric said as he observed his daughters in their dance, well-rehearsed steps that he no doubt taught them himself. “And this amount of injury.”

    Just then a new level in the mayhem was announced by a call to arms as the two housecarls entered the fray. What started as individual combat became a battle royal, housecarls against sisters. I could barely breath from laughing, and Aric was no better off as he would attempt to speak “Runa, a flanking maneuver from the northeast!” It was not possible that anyone could hear his words, all four women laughing and shouting their own tactics.

    I did not think I could laugh harder until I glanced behind us to see all our horses giving the mock battle their undivided attention. Aric turned to see the reason for my now total collapse and then simply fell to one side as he gasped to recover his own breath.

    We all lay on the grass later, each of us catching our breath. There was not a part of my face or my abdomen that did not hurt from laughing.

    “I think I may have pulled a muscle in stomach.” I said, looking up at the sky through the trees, when I was finally able to speak again.

    “We have not jousted in some time.” Lucia said. “I miss it.”

    “As do I.” Runa said, as she looked at her sister.

    “You are such skilled warriors.” I said, “have you never considered joining the Companions?” I asked.

    It was clear by the looks on the faces of Aric and his daughters that I had stumbled into something. “I apologize. I meant no disrespect.” I said.

    “No disrespect is taken.” Runa said. “You remind us of an incident with the Companions when Lucia and I were younger.”

    “An incident? With the Companions?” I asked.

    “In a manner of speaking.” Aric replied.

    “I have only just recovered from my last bout of laughter. Another such bout will surely be my end.” I said

    “Your life is safe.” Lucia said. “It is not a humorous event.”

    “It has humorous elements.” Runa said.

    “True.” Lucia said.

    “It was several years ago, I had cause to visit the Companions and Lucia and Runa were with me. Some of the Companions have known them all their lives, but not all.” Aric said. “The more recent members come from elsewhere, and the most recent member, not counting me, did not know them at all. They were all in the courtyard while I talked to Kodlack. Ria, the newest but one, saw Runa, still a teenager, in her expensive armor, with her expensive sword and thought she would have some fun.” I will let the eyewitnesses describe the events.

    “Ria had been training with another Companion.” Lucia said. “She stopped and approached Runa and said ‘That sword is too heavy for a child your size. I doubt you can hold it properly.”

    “She did not say it in a nice manner.” Runa said. “So, I responded ‘I hold it in whatever manner I wish. It responds to my arm, and my intent. The combination has never failed me.”

    “It took Ria a moment to decipher that answer.” Lucia said.

    “We had been talking with Vilkas and Farkas when she approached me. Other companions were in the courtyard closer to Ria. We were now in two groups of four.” Runa said.

    “’Please demonstrate this masterful combination. We are all warriors here.’ She said” Lucia recounted.

    “She did not say ‘warriors’ in a nice manner either.” Runa said.

    “Ria drew her sword as the other Companions cleared a space.” Lucia said. “Vilkas and Farkas huddled close to us.”

    Remember, she is young, and this is practice ’Vilkas said.”

    Don’t kill her Farkas said.”

    “I drew my sword and stepped forward. She took a two handed angled guarded stance. I was about to take my own stance when she smiled at me, almost a sneer.” Runa said

    “After that it escalated quickly.” Lucia said. “Runa cast a spell with her left hand and a flock of birds flew at Ria’s face, followed immediately by Runa’s attack. Ria was on the defensive for the remainder of the bout. It ended with Ria on the ground defenseless.”

    “She gave me a look that said all. I turned and started walking back to Lucia when I heard her get up and charge me from behind.” Runa said.

    “It was a cowardly thing to do.” Lucia said, “My father says Companions have been dismissed for less.”

    “There was no thought in what I did next.” Runa said “It was right after a series of Dwemer ruins. My body and mind were still primed for battle. I cast a flame cloak as I leapt half the distance between us. I would have killed her but for another Companion intervening.”

    “That was when it almost became serious.” Lucia said. “The other companions drew to protect Ria. Farkas and Vilkas drew to protect us. I had a spell in each hand and would have brought the sky down upon anyone who threatened Runa.”

    “It was four against four.” Runa said. “I was shrouded in flames in the center. Everyone else was keeping their distance, but I could see the look on their faces. ‘What have we let into our courtyard?’ they were thinking.”

    “Not all of them.” Lucia said. “Farkas was behind you. You did not see his face, but I did. His face shone like the sun. He was so proud of you I thought he would burst.”

    “He almost lost his home because of me.” Runa said.

    “We two stopped being girls to them that day, even the ones who had known us all our lives.” Lucia said.

    “That is the sight that greeted Kodlack and me as we walked out into the courtyard.” Aric said.

    “They are all warriors of renown, and they are all certainly brave; but they had no idea in how deadly a school we had been trained. Even Farkas and Vilkas, with whom we had played and later practiced, most of our lives did not know the extent of our training, or our level of ability.” Lucia said.

    “We all agreed that it was a misunderstanding. Otherwise Ria, Vilkas and Farkas would have been dismissed.” Aric said.

    “It is another thing that binds the four of us.” Runa said. “For most of our lives it was like we were brothers and sisters. These past several years have been different.”

    “But the rest of the Companions have never warmed to us.” Lucia said. “Not even to my father, who is one of them.”

    “Well, I have not warmed to any of the other Companions, so we are even.” Runa said.

    “That they never invited me to join is understandable. They have no mages in their ranks. But that they never invited Runa to join I take as a personal slight.” Lucia said. “Few of them could have stood against her even then. She would be Harbinger eventually if she had joined.”

    “It was right that they did not invite me.” Runa said. “I would never have fit in. I am too much like Uthgerd, I reacted out or all proportion that day.”

    “You were still quite young, and you regained your composure quickly.” Aric said, “It was many years ago. And they are not the only warriors of renown in Whiterun now. You have earned their respect. Kodlack will tell you that himself.”

    “Where are the humorous elements in this story?” I asked.

    Runa and Lucia immediately began to laugh again. “You should have seen the look on his face!” Runa said as she pointed to her father, and as Lucia did her best to reproduce her father’s look.

    I have definitely pulled a muscle in my stomach.


    “What are you thinking?” I asked him. “You are more quiet than usual.”

    We were all surprised to find that the Inn in Helgen was not only rebuilt but open for business. Business that they were very happy to have. Helgen was much farther along in its repair that I had expected. The horses were happy for the comfort of the Stable. We were happy for the comfort of the Inn. A newly rebuilt Inn with new furniture and new rooms and new larger beds.

    “I was thinking that it is the people who love us that we remember forever, the people who hurt us fade in our minds to shadows.”

    We arrived in Helgen late, and it was later still before we all settled in our beds. Aric had that fragile look that I had come to recognize. I did not know the cause or the cure, but I began to discern a pattern to these episodes. So, his answer was not a complete surprise.

    “When Lucia and Runa would remember that incident in the year after it occurred it was always with anger at Ria. Now they remember Vilkas and Farkas drawing against their sworn brothers and sisters, risking the only home they had known since Jergen rescued them, their positions as Companions, out of love for them, with no promise of anything in return. Their relationship had already begun to change by then I suspect, but I believe this was when the four of them realized that their brother-sister relationship had changed into something else.”

    “Relationships have a tendency to do that, given time and proximity.” I said. But I could not leave the question unasked any longer. “Please tell me what troubles you.”

    “Nothing.” He said as he looked at me, “Really. A slight melancholy.”

    “This is not the first that I have observed.” I said. “And your daughters seem to be at their center.”

    “All my children are at its center.” He said. He looked at me again and brushed my face with his hand. His eyes sparkled, and I thought for a moment that he would kiss me, and that our relationship would also undergo a significant change. But his hand left my face.

    “I was not a very good Father to my children in the early days.” He said. “I was away from them for periods of time that were much too long. It is impossible to be a good parent at such a distance as I was from them. Proximity is critical to those relationships like any other. All my children who came to live in Whiterun after they were adopted are more Lydia’s children than they are mine. And Danica’s. There were months that I was away and it was Lydia who raised them, and Danica who visited them each day, each of them taking turns on her knee, talking about what Lydia taught them, or where she took them, or their plans for the next day. Lydia will say she was happy to do it, but really, I imposed on her terribly. Her oath was not to be a surrogate mother to my children. She said once ‘My oath is to protect you and keep you safe. I do that by easing your burden. I know you think of them when you are away. This way, you know they are safe, and looked after, and loved. And that knowledge eases your mind so you can focus on the task at hand.’ We were in Whiterun for so short a time that you did not have the opportunity to know her.”

    “I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to know her better.” I said.

    “She is as much a part of my family as any of my daughters.” He said. “Part mother, part sister to my first six children. I realized after returning from one adventure that it was Lydia they turned to when they needed comfort, or to share their happiness. They did not know me, and I did not know them. I did not leave again for eight months. Anyone who saw us then could be forgiven for thinking us a family, like any other: A Father and Mother, carrying their children or holding their hands as they navigated the rocks in a stream. My trips after that were much shorter. The interludes at home grew longer until, at some point I cannot identify clearly, it was the trips away that were the interludes, and the time at home that became my life. That was when I truly understood what it means to love my children, and how that love can seep into every crack and nook of my life. I had never understood how much of my thoughts could be consumed by my children. I look at them now, and I think ‘I love you. I may have made a terrible mistake. What is it I am leading you into?’ That is what bothers me. I have a sinking feeling that I am leading my children into great danger.”

    He was one of the most powerful individuals I had ever met, or even heard of. The things I saw him accomplish with my own eyes would give me nightmares if I did not know the heart that beats within him. How then could I look at him and think he is as fragile as an egg. I did not think my heart could ache so much for another person. It will shatter into pieces if I do not break this spell. I thought. Both our hearts will.

    “The world is dangerous. Ignorance of that danger is no protection. There is certainly a danger here. We do not know how great. Until we know more, everyone’s children are in danger.” I said. “You know this already.”

    “I do.” He said. “But it is my family at the fore in this battle. This was never the life I sought. Not for myself and not for them. I only wanted a land at peace and the means to raise my family. A land free of dragon attacks and vampire attacks. Why then is this life thrust upon me?”

    “Because you care for others, and because you are alive, and brave, and powerful all at the same time.” I answered. “The Gods choose whom they guide and whom they lead astray, and I do not believe you have strayed from the true path. We are all on a journey. Life is a journey. Dare we quibble about how the journey begins, or the path we take if we reach our desired destination?”

    “My journey began badly and may yet end so. I do not have the sight to see that far.” He said.

    “You said yourself you cannot yet see the end.” I reminded him. “And if we are on the subject of beginnings, I will tell you that I spent the beginning of this journey planning your death. That I would fall in love with you was still too far distant for me to see. Yet here I am. I do not wish to be elsewhere. It would insult the Gods, therefore, if I quibbled about how the journey began.” I said.

    “Given your description of it, I believe it would be my place to quibble about it.” He said, his smile finally appearing.

    “You lighten my heart with your smile.” I said softly.

    “I am afraid I will be the death of thee.” He said in barely a whisper.

    “I have it on good authority that I am tougher than I look.” I whispered back.

    “You look as delicate as a rose, yet I have seen your metal firsthand.” He said. “You are a beautiful flower, which conceals a deadly thorn.”

    “You will forgive me, sir, if I take a moment to decipher that statement before saying ‘thank you’” I replied.

    “I will lead you to the quicker path and say, “You are beautiful constantly, and deadly only occasionally.” He said

    “Now I shall require a moment to decide which of those declarations I prefer more.” I laughed.

    “It is late, and there is no rush for you to decide.” He said as he laced my hand into his. “You may sleep on it and let me know your decision in the morning.” It was then, finally, that I felt the softness of his lips upon mine.


    “So, that happened.” Railius said.

    “Do not make more of it than it was.” I said. “It was a kiss.”

    “It was more than one.” He said. “I never needed two hands to count to one before.”

    “It was one kiss, with intervals to allow for breathing.” I said, my attempt at logic spoiled by my rising voice.

    “That was smart, given how much breathing you required.” He said.

    “I would have required twenty times that amount if the choice had been mine. If I had been sure. If he had given me a sign.” I said.

    “The sign was there, lass, if you failed to notice.” He said.

    “You are a wicked man!” I laughed “To speak to your daughter in such a fashion!”

    “You’re a grown woman.” He said. “You have seen a sign or two in your lifetime already.”

    “I see death has not improved your sense of decorum.” I replied.

    “And how do you feel now, lass?” he asked me

    “I feel like singing.” I said.

    “If you start singing now you will wake him.” He said

    “Then I will sing in my dream. The only one it will disturb will be you.” I said.

    “Your singing never disturbed me. Your voice is music.” He said

    “You are very sweet. You sound just like him.” I said.

    “That is the nicest thing you could have said about him.” He said dryly.

    “Must you talk while I am singing?” I laughed.
    #1 Bren, Mar 3, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
: #skyrim, #tes, #4e213

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