'Will you relax mother?' Ingun sighed, 'The streets are full of people, I'm sure he is merely being delayed by the crowds.'
'When the so called "Hero of Skyrim" writes to you asking for a loan, relax is hardly the kind of think that I would advise.' Maven Black-Briar replied as she continued to relentlessly pace in front of the house. She had been told that the Dragonborn would meet her at his residence within the city, a filthy little cottage that the locals called Breezehome. The two of them stood out quite easily from the aesthetics of the cottage, with both wearing clothing that was probably worth more than the house itself. Maven wore her typical brown finery, whilst Ingun had opted for a more outgoing approach and wore a long loose fitting purple dress with various items of golden jewellery adorning her neck, fingers and wrists. Though the instructions Maven had received were to wait by the door she had been forced to wait away from the dwellings entrance as many visitors attending the festival left flowers, gifts and many other kinds of items outside the cottage. A select few individuals prayed before the house, most of them to Akatosh, giving thanks for blessing sending the Dragonborn to them in wake of the Dragon Crisis, whilst a few brave Nords delivered quick prayers to Talos, most of who believed that the Dragonborn of their time was a reincarnated Tiber Septim.
The two women of the Black-Briar family were not alone however, and it was only thanks to the two dozen mercenaries and an escort of guards from Riften that they were allowed to have any space at all to themselves. Since the journey from Riften, even up until she began waiting outside Breezehome, Maven had been wondering about what the Dragonborn could possibly want with loaned money. She imagined that he would be looking for help to finance some adventure or a mass dragon hunt or something along those lines. Though she would never show it on the outside, on the inside she was as excited as a group of fishwives exchanging gossip. She had had a long and interesting career to say the least, she could barely count how many times people had come to her looking for financing, she certainly lost count of how many disappointed her, and ended up "disappearing". Though she would never take a risk like that with the Dragonborn. The idea of a hero of Skyrim being indebted to her was something that occupied her thoughts the moment she had finished reading his letter to her.
It was not before long that the crowds began to part, and cheers erupted amongst the people. Maven fought back the temptation to jump slightly to catch a glimpse, though her daughter had no such restraint and leap as high as she could, her smile widening. Maven merely shot a glance at her and the action ceased, the young Black-Briar frowning slightly as she averted her gaze from her mother. Soon the crowds made way, and two figures walked towards the cottage, one clad in strange red and black spiked armour a black cloak hanging from his shoulders, no doubt the Dragonborn that Maven had heard so much about. The other wore a blue dress and from the way she walked alongside the Dragonborn with such familiarity, she could only be Lydia Dragonhide, the Dragonborn's former Housecarl, now a Thane of Whiterun herself. As the two approached the young man stopped, smiling at Maven before bowing his head in respect, an act that was mirrored by his companion.
'Jarl Black-Briar,' he said, 'An honour it is to make your acquaintance, this auspicious festival is made all the more delightful by your presence.'
'And you must be Thane Darion Octavius,' Maven responded, bowing her head though only slightly.
His attention quickly however deferred to Ingun, an act that Maven had to hide her disapproval of. Thane or not, he was still a commoner.
'The rumours of your beauty hardly do you justice, lady Ingun. I am honoured to see that such tales were not exaggerated.' He said with a smile that only grew as he watched the Jarl of Riften's daughter blush, though no one saw brief scowl that crossed Lydia's face.
'You flatter me sir,' Ingun replied shyly before turning to Lydia. 'Lady Dragonhide, it is an honour to make your acquaintance.'
'The same,' Lydia replied quickly, doing her very best to offer a smile.
'Now,' Darion said, 'How's about we go inside and get to business,' he asked, receiving a nod from Maven. 'Lady Ingun, will you be joining us?'
'I would rather leave you and my mother to your business Thane Darion. If my presence is not required mother I'd like to explore the festivities.'
Maven's beady eyes scanned her daughter for but a moment before she gave a small hmph accompanied by a nod. With one final bow of her head to Darion and Lydia the young Black-Briar made her way through the crowd, a retinue of mercenaries following her. As she disappeared from sight Darion turned to Maven and smiled.
'To business then?' he asked, motioning for the door.
As Maven entered his home, Arren suddenly realised, that despite all his planning, despite his plots schemes he had neglected to purchase a nicer house to live in. Breezehome had always been his home in Skyrim, gifted to him by the Jarl when he became a Thane. Yet it was only when Maven Black-Briar, one of the wealthiest, most powerful women in Skyrim, stepped into his home, he realised that he was still living in a peasants house. Besides various trophies he had taken from his adventures hanging up on the wall, there was nothing that distinguished his home from that of his neighbours. Though he wanted to keep up the visage of common birth, he knew that it would quickly become unfitting for him to live and operate out of what felt like two cottages stacked on top of each other like children's wooden building blocks. Needless to say he could certainly notice that the house was not what the matron of the Black-Briar family had been anticipating. Her cold calculative eyes scanned around the room, a slight but noticeable upturn of her lip easily giving away her disgust.
A shame, Darion thought, I had been hoping for a challenge. I'll read her like a book that I've read a dozen times.
'Would you care to make your way into my study?' he asked, motioning to the back room. 'We can begin in there.'
The Jarl nodded before turning away and making her way further through the house. As she disappeared out of the room, followed by one of her mercenaries, the polite smile that had once adorned Darion's face quickly changed into a smirk.
'Find the girl, Ingun, ensure that she remains safe and secure,' he commanded Lydia without turning back to her. 'There is a lot riding on her.'
'And if I can't find her?' Lydia asked. 'There's a lot of people out there.'
'Yet there are only a handful in the city who will be accompanied by armed men who would make even you think twice about confronting them.'
'It's still a big city. Even you couldn't cover that much ground by the time a meeting with Maven finished, and you can slow down time by shouting.'
'I'm sure the crowds will be no trouble for you. The locals know you and will give you space, those who do not will surely have to part ways for such a rare beauty.'
Lydia was glad Darion did not turn to her, for he would see that she was blushing uncontrollably. 'Do you... really think so?'
'Of course, men will move mountains for women that look as you do.' He began making his way towards the study before stopping and looking over his shoulder at her. 'But yes... you do look beautiful in that dress.' He continued on towards his study, and did not turn back to her as he shut the door behind him.
Lydia said nothing, she only stood there and did her best to stop herself from grinning.
If it had not been for her guards Ingun would have been left drowning in a sea of bodies and faces. Though she would have preferred to have had the full shoulder to shoulder experience of the festival, she was glad to have some breathing space, especially as she noticed the looks that some men gave her, the look of men with a hunger for something they knew they could never have. It took an occasional grunt and shove to force the crowds out of their way but mostly just the sight of the men guarding Ingun was enough to create a path. She wasn't the only one who had her own personal escort, but her mother, as ever concerned with security as she was, ensured that Ingun had more than enough guards to hold a small keep. Many times she became the only one to stand at the stalls, other potential customers pushed aside as Ingun perused the various wares and souvenirs for sale whilst her guards formed a circle around her, their own eyes scanning the crowd for potential danger. Whilst the stall owners didn't mind this, as Ingun was clearly a woman who could afford what they had on offer, many of the people were not as happy about being shoved out of the way by the mercenaries or by being forced to wait as Ingun tried on, tasted or smelled everything in sight.
Soon, like most spirited youth like Ingun, she was looking for just a little more freedom than what her mother was giving her. It had been a substantial act of charity for Maven to bring Ingun with her to Whiterun and it was a rare act of trust that allowed Ingun to venture around the city on her own, or at the very least without her family. It did not take long, nor did it take much effort for her to lose her escort. A gasp and a mad rush for one piece of jewellery and a purposeful journey into the thick of the crowds later and she found herself finally walking free of her guards, wandering from stall to shop, street vender to troubadour. She allowed herself a wide grin at the thought of how terrified the mercenaries were feeling as they thought how best to tell Maven Black-Briar that they had had let her daughter get out of sight. She soon found herself taking a small break from the flow of the crowds and the sights of the festival, leaning against the wall of an alley, apple in hand, her eyes casually watching over the crowds, happy to finally be away from the chains of her mother's sheltering. It however did not take long for her presence to attract the wrong kind of attention.
They had come from out of the crowd, at first Ingun had not noticed them, but as they approached she was able to tell that their gaze was set upon her, their path leading straight towards her. A hooded figure, their face obscured in shadow, the rest of their body hidden under a simple brown cloak. The rest of the crowd, even the few guards that patrolled the grounds could not see this, and Ingun knew it. She turned away from her follower, retreating down into an alley, away from the crowds. Her first thought as she quickened her pace was how foolish she had been for not staying with her guards, even if she had ordered them to keep back a distance to give her some breathing room and she would still be protected.
As she peered over her shoulder to find the stranger still in pursuit, her heart began to race in her chest, and as her pace quickened she could hear that of her pursuers behind her quicken as well. Soon she found herself running, and her fear grew to new heights as she heard the flapping of a cloak, indicating that the stranger was no longer trying to hide who they were after. Yet it was as she ran it began to dawn on her. The alley did not branch off into multiple adjoining paths that snaked through the city streets. The alley was a dead end, the end of her path leading only to a blank wooden wall
But she was a Black-Briar, and no member of her family was ever prepared to meekly succumb to their fate. With her back still turned to the approaching stranger, she reached into the folds of her dress, drawing out a long slender knife. It was not meant for cleaving or slashing, but one quick jab to the right place, to the right artery, and no man could live long. Alchemy may have taught her about the effects that different ingredients had on different parts of the body, but her learning had also lead her to learn the vital points in humans, elves and beast races. One jab to the arm pit would cause almost unstoppable bleeding. A solid strike to where the ribs met would temporarily stun any human or elf. At that moment she was no longer the young woman who had lived a life of wealth and plenty with a thirst for knowledge in the field of alchemy, she was a woman ready to defend herself by any means necessary.
'Come any closer,' she said calmly before rapidly turning on her heel, knife in the air, 'and I'll cut your bloody balls of-!'
She was silenced by a hand clasping itself over her mouth, the strangers other hand grabbing her wrist, keeping the knife well away from them. She was not prepared for the strength of the stranger's grip, or for the shove that forced her against the wall. She was unable to scream, both in part to the fact that she was too afraid alongside the fact that she was too proud. All she could do was stare at what she could see of the stranger's face, which was a pair of soft lips forming a familiar smirk. The stranger slowly removed their gloved hand from her mouth, before reaching back and pulling down their hood. Long locks of brown hair fell down to the stranger's shoulders, a pair of green eyes staring into Ingun's own, which widened in surprise then into confusion, and then finally into happiness.
'That'll be a bit hard,' Artemis said with a smile. 'There's nothing down there, you know that more than anyone.'
The dagger fell from Ingun's hand, and Artemis' grip around her wrist disappeared as the young Imperial pulled Ingun towards her before planting her lips on hers. They stood there for a while like this, their arms slowly wrapping around each other as they continued to share in the kiss. They soon parted for air, smiling at each other, Ingun even going as far as giggling.
'Is this some kind of new foreplay?' she asked. 'If so I'd ask if we do it with a bed in sight next time just so I know that I'm not in danger.'
Artemis laughed before planting a soft kiss on Ingun's neck. 'It could be if you wanted it to be,' she whispered, as she continued to kiss down her neck and towards her collarbone, causing Ingun to sigh happily.
'As much as I'd love to have this continue,' she said as she softly pushed Artemis away, 'I think you should wait till we can find ourselves a room.'
The young thief shrugged. 'Wouldn't be the first time we've played around in an alley.'
'True,' Ingun said biting her lip at the memory, 'But that was back in Riften, where you can wave your hand and the whole market place will empty for you.' The stood in silence for a moment before Ingun leaned in, softly kissing Artemis once more before withdrawing, the two of them smiling. 'So, what brings you to Whiterun, besides the view?'
'Work, I'm afraid,' Artemis said with a roll of her eyes. 'I've got a meeting a in a few hours. There's all the fat purses laying around too, but then I saw something more worth my time than any jewel.'
It was Ingun's turn to roll her eyes. 'You flatterer. Well at least you were smart enough to cover up that guild armour of yours. The guards will be out in force looking for its like during the festival.'
'It was hard enough to get into the city wearing this damned cloak, had to pay off at least three guards before they'd let me in. I have no idea how my brother does it.'
'When he walks around he has the air of a man who no one should bother, guard or otherwise,' Ingun said, picturing Arren in her head. 'You've just got the air of someone looking to start trouble,' she ran a finger lightly over Artemis' lower lip. 'I speak from experience.'
'I should think so,' Artemis said, trying to kiss the tip of Ingun's finger. 'I learned from the best.'
The two of them shared a small giggle before kissing once more. Once more they remained there for some while, time becoming meaningless as they stood in each other's arms. They soon parted once more, again on Ingun's insistence.
'I best be getting back, mother will be finishing her meeting with Thane Octavius soon.'
Artemis' brow raised at hearing the Dragonborn's name. 'Darion?' she asked.
'You know him?' Ingun replied. The thief was slow to answer, too slow, and Ingun knew straight away that she was being kept in the dark about something, an occurrence she was well accustomed to since the two of them became lovers. 'Artemis, how do you know-'
'Lady Black Briar?' a woman's voice called, and the two of them quickly parted, turning back up the alley to see a woman in a blue dress coming towards them.
'Thane Lydia,' Ingun greeted. 'What a coincidence running into y-'
'I believe your guards are looking for you,' Lydia cut her off, not taking her eyes off of Artemis, who glared at her. 'Your mother would be most concerned if she found out that you left your escort to wander the festival with... less favourable company.'
Ingun looked between Lydia and Artemis, and her suspicions about her lover and the Dragonborn were confirmed. She knew now but their paths had crossed at some point, though for better or for worse she did not know.
'Forgive me, I must be off,' she said, straitening up her dress before moving away back out of the alley. Without intending to, Artemis broke her gaze with the Thane to watch Ingun go. She quickly realised however what she had been doing and she quickly turned back to the Dragonborn's Companion.
'You're the Assassins' sister, aren't you?' Lydia asked.
'Is that any of your business?' Artemis shot back.
'No,' the Thane replied calmly. 'But that girl and her family is. I would remind you that you signed a pact with Darion, one not easily broken.'
'I am the last person in Skyrim you need to give a lecture to when it comes to contracts and the like,' the thief spat. 'And need I remind you, my pact of non-aggression is with the Dragonborn, not with his lover.'
'We're not-!' Lydia stopped herself, though she could not stop the anger burning behind her eyes, or the blush that quickly took hold of her cheek.
Artemis smiled at this. 'You're not are you?' she asked, giggling lightly to herself. 'I think we both know that's not how you would wish it to be, isn't that right?' Her smile turned into a smirk as she watched the Thane restrain herself from striking the Nightingale. The young Nord had passion that was certain, but her duty to the Dragonborn was unquestionable. She would not do anything to endanger his pact with the Thieves Guild, and Artemis knew it.
'Cheer up though Dragonhide,' Artemis said, moving past her, Lydia refusing to watch her leave. 'It might happen someday. After all, he said you look beautiful in that dress didn't he?'
Lydia's eyes widened and as she turned to face the Imperial girl she raised her fists, ready to strike her. Yet when she turned to teach the young thief a lesson, there was no one in the alley but her. There was no way she could have run back into the crowd that fast, nor climbed onto the rooftops without making so much as a sound. It seemed as if the Guildmaster had quite literally disappeared. Slowly she lowered her fists, though she did not relax for a second.
'The Assassins' sister for certain,' she said, before making her own way back into the crowd and back towards Breezehome.
ShoutFinder: Damn straight, dem rope darts are so cool! I've done a bit of martial arts, but nothing I've done could ever compare to the amount of skill needed for some of the moves I've seen people pull off with those things.
I assume by down south we mean Ulfric, in which case, you will have to wait and see. Darion has plans in mind, and I have plans in mind that Darion could never even think of happening!
Yeeeaahh I know, I always get quite embarrassed re-reading over stuff and finding mistakes like that. I know it's not really professional, and like you said it draws away from the story, but sometimes I just can't wait to post another chapter, or I'm up late (kinda like I am now writing this response to you at 2am on a Sunday night :P) and I just think to myself "...Should be alright! Now let's post it and go to sleep!" I tried a little harder with this chapter, even fought through an unexplained headache to notice I almost wrote clock instead of cloak.
As for NZ yeah I was there for the whole flag debacle. Me personally I'm fine with the same old same old. I've got family in NZ so I'm over there enough and a part of the country to tell the difference between their flag and the Aussie one, but hey if they voted to change it to the black with the fern I would have had no problem with it... GO ALL BLACKS!
Was actually too busy seeing the world as only a dovah can, got to make my first skydive over Wanaka! I highly recommend it!
Trap3r: Ave Imperator! Roma Invicta!
Who needs thrones when you have dragons :D
Sir Vahlok: Perhaps haha. Mostly I just put that in because I thought, what else do they sell at festivals or stalls. I live near the beach so we occasionally get people selling seafood. And I love Game of Thrones so I thought, hey, you know what'd be cool? An Arya quote! You keeping track of the new season?! I know I have! New Episode tomorrow at 11am! And I don't have to go to classes tomorrow so I can watch it live!
Guest: Yeah, well, that's just like, ah, your opinion, man. Nah but seriously though, clearly something isn't right about this story to you, so do you reckon you'd like to give some actual criticism and tell my why it's bad instead of just saying its bad. I appreciate that you think its well written, cheers for that. I'm thinking I kinda get where you're coming from about Darion. I haven't gone into a lot of detail about him, or haven't really given him as a strong presence in the story as he probably needs. I feel that's my error in the fact that as the writer I'm already familiar with him, and there is so much about him I do not want to reveal that I end up revealing not enough about his character. Not sure what you meant by "Your Planning! God! (Can't stop myself from thinking you look like Napoleon Dynamite because of that though, sorry but I just can't help it :D) Seriously though mate, send me a message or something, let me know what ails you. All the best mate.
The One Who Reads Too Much: I know what you mean mate, I try to set myself out rules for how to use all the different symbols and fonts and whatnots. After seeing apostrophes used used in a lot of the books I've read recently I can't help but feel do it now.
I would get it, I'm just not sure if my computer can handle it. I've only got the laptop, and whilst that can run games pretty well (I.E I can run Ark Survival Evolved pretty well,) I'm not sure whether or not it could handle Skyrim and all the mods I'd get for that, which would be mostly texture mods and lighting mods and a Dragon Armour Mod for Odahviing which has (SPOILERS) inspired a lot when it comes to this story :D
Hey there everyone! It's been a while I suppose and the only excuse I can give you is: University. Turns out when you're studying film you actually have to put your head down! Who'dve thought! But yes things have been quite busy for me, and honestly it's quickly becoming difficult to find time to write this or any of my own original work (Which I've been wanting to put more time into considering I'm wanting to get it published some day). Either way, I wanted to get this chapter up as quick as I could, it's been sitting on my computer for a while just begging me to finish it. Honestly I had thought the scene with Ingun and Artemis was gonna go waaaay different. I had this whole part written up how it was actually some guys who follow Ingun into the alley and Artemis ends up saving Ingun. But then I thought, I'm already hinting at other blossoming romances (At least I try to) so I figured, hey, you guys know so little about Artemis besides the fact that her brother is an Assassin, lets have it that this relationship has been a thing for quite some time. Wasn't just a spur of the moment thing though, I planned from the start that I wanted Artemis to have "interactions" with Ingun. At first I thought I'd make it a one time thing, but then I thought to myself, hey, you know what's awesome? Love! I've been there before, I've felt it, and it awesome, so why not let some of my characters have it for a change instead of only teasing at it.
Either way I'll try to get the next part up as quick as a I can, and finally...FINALLY I can get this whole loan thing with Maven sorted. Mindful though, there may be a bit of a wait with this next one. I realise that I'm not really getting anywhere very quickly with these smaller chapters, so the next one is going to be massive! And I mean MASSIVE! We are gonna get shit done in this next chapter! The wheels are gonna start turning, and I'm gonna reveal to you guys just what kind of man Darion really is. Because I know I've shown that he is willing to bring assassins and thieves to his side to accomplish his goals, but now I'm gonna show you all just how far he is willing to go to get what he wants.
Until then, I've been xcaliber234, you have been my awesome and most fantastic readers.
Hope you all have a good one!