Farkas and I returned a couple hours after sunset to find Jorrvaskr still quite festive. I was reminded that the place was a meadhall, besides being the headquarters of the Companions. We quickly learned that Vilkas and Ria, who had left on a mission a couple days before Farkas and I, had returned as well. Almost upon entering I was given a flagon of mead and some kind of roast meat on a bone. There was apparently to be some sort of ceremony to formally induct me into the Companions after the trek to Dustman's Cairn, but I was told that could wait until the next day. For the time being there were celebrations to be had.

After about an hour and four flagons I was challenged to an arm wrestle by an inebriated Njada Stonearm. "You don't look so tough, newcomer," she hiccuped. "Fifty septims says I could put your hand through the table."

"That's quite the claim," I laughed easily with the food and alcohol sitting warmly in my stomach.

"Njada, he's twice your size. Don't make stupid challenges just so you can lose them," a Dunmer I hadn't gotten to learn the name of advised her.

"Shut up, Athis!" she growled in response and cleared a section of the table off somewhat clumsily. "Come on, Argonian," she challenged and sat down with her elbow on the table.

I shrugged and set my latest mug down out of the way. "If you insist," I said as I sat down. A few other Companions, Farkas and Aela among them, came over to observe. Amused murmurs spread among them while Njada and I joined hands over the table.

A reluctant Athis was asked to start us off with a quick countdown. "Strong, for a female," I chuckled at the strain of keeping her from pushing my arm over. I was thankful I hadn't underestimated her or she might have beaten me with surprise. Instead a satisfying "thud" accompanied Njada's hand hitting the table. "I told you so," the Dunmer chimed in helpfully, earning him a verbal lashing from the intoxicated Nord.

I was about to stand up and leave when Vilkas dropped into the seat across from me. His elbow landing on the table a moment later declared his intentions. "Is this just going to turn into a bunch of drunk Nords arm wrestling me?" I said and I gave his hand a sceptical look.

"That tends to be how our celebrations turn out," the other man chuckled. "Mead and tests of strength are an integral part of Nord culture, after all."

"I guess I should be grateful I'm so accepted," I laughed and emptied the rest of my mead down my gullet. I rolled my shoulders and dropped my arm back onto the table. "In that case, I guess it would behoove me to show off the exalted strength of the Dragonborn. I hope I can live up to all the hype."

Vilkas was stronger than Njada but I was still able to overpower him. "You're almost as strong as Farkas," he chuckled and beckoned to his brother. "Farkas! Why don't you show the Dragonborn the strength of Ysgramor?"

Farkas replaced his twin across from me. When his massive arm landed on the table I had the thought that I wasn't as likely to win this match as easily as the others. Nonetheless, alcohol and pride demanded I not back down and our hands clamped together over the table.

From the outset I knew I had lost, as evidenced by my grunted "Holy shit!"

My reaction got a good laugh out of Farkas. "Don't make me laugh. I'm going to lose my strength," he remarked with a grin.

"Yeah, I don't think there's much danger of that happening," I grit through clenched teeth. Despite my best efforts my hand continued to descend towards the table, though I at least got the satisfaction that I knew I was making Farkas work for it. Even still my hand landed on the unforgiving wood of the table a moment later amid the noise of the other Companions' cheers. I rolled my shoulder and rubbed at the strained muscles in my arm. "Damn, I'm pretty sure you could out-wrestle a troll with that arm."

My comment brought a raucous laugh from the large man. "And I trust you'd know from experience, newcomer?"

"Of course I am. I had to fight a frost troll when I went up to High Hrothgar," I grinned. Another half-tankard of mead made me forget about the strain in my arm.

"You've been to High Hrothgar?" Aela asked as she sat down next to me. My drunken gaze fell to her leg pressed against mine despite the room still available on the seat. I was shamefully slow in returning it to her face and there was no doubt she noticed.

I shrugged simply. "Yeah, once, when the Greybeards yelled loud enough that I heard it. With extremely good timing, I might add. I have no idea how they knew I had just killed a dragon but I guess some news can travel really quickly."

"I had heard that the guards had killed a dragon outside the city walls recently, but I didn't know you were involved," Vilkas said.

My attention snapped to the man. "What? Didn't...Those assholes. I was the one who killed the damn thing," I frowned. "Ungrateful bastards. I'm tempted to blame it on my race, but this isn't Windhelm."

"It sounds like you've travelled a lot," Aela remarked as the people around us dispersed. It seemed that people were less interested in hearing me talk than seeing me arm wrestle, which was fine with me. The idea began to work its way through my drunken haze that I probably shouldn't have been so forthcoming with someone I usually tried to keep a secret.

"A bit, yeah," I chuckled and returned to facing Aela. The flickering firelight did her pretty visage no harm, and it was nice to see her without her painted slashes. "I've been around most of Tamriel, actually. I've only recently had business in Skyrim."

"You seem to have a lot of it," she laughed. "Was every country like this for you?"

I shook my head. "No, not really. I think that most of the others are adventured-out. It seems like someone's already picked through all the old hidden places in Morrowind and Cyrodiil. I mostly just worked as a hired sword for caravans and security to pay my bills, though I never had anything like a house to pay for before."

"Do you enjoy living in Skyrim?"

"Enough to stick around for a little bit longer," I smirked. "Things get more exciting all the time here, and that's saying something considering that when I showed up I was put to death."

My comment seemed to shock the woman sitting next to me. "What were you put to death for?"

"Border crossing. For some reason the old 'I'm an Argonian' excuse didn't work for getting the Empire to believe I wasn't a Stormcloak. Incidentally, it's also where I met Ulfric. He's a prick, by the way."

We continued chatting for almost an hour until we were joined by Farkas and his brother. Both had enjoyed their fair share of mead and Farkas was looking to challenge me in some other test of strength. He seemed incredibly pleased that there was someone new who could nearly match him. I accepted without hesitation and we spent the next few hours drinking and intermittently chatting and doing some foolish thing with the drunken Nord. I ended up passing out in one of the beds in the barracks downstairs at the end of the night with the others.

I was woken up unfortunately early in the morning by a combination of instinct and my fellow Companions. Apparently it was time to be formally inducted into the group. I thanked the Hist that my general resistance to poison quickly sobered me or the fluffy affair that followed might have been too much for my stomach. I hadn't heard the word "honour" so many times in a sitting since my appointment as Thane of Whiterun. I wasn't terribly shocked, considering I was the only one present that wasn't a Nord. I joined Kodlak in his study afterwards for another game of chess.

"So are all of the Companions werewolves, or is that just for the top dogs around here?" I asked casually while we played.

It didn't look like he found my comment as entertaining as I did, though I did see a bit of amusement flick across his features. "It seems you learned of our secret before your appointed time," he didn't seem particularly surprised. "Yes, it's true, but only the Circle carries the beast blood." He looked thoughtful as he removed my rook. "Some of us take to it more than others."

"You don't seem to be too taken," I raised an eyebrow and slipped a knight behind his line to catch his bishop. "Check."

He sighed and I knew it had nothing to do with the shift in board position. "I'm not getting any younger, Kailev-Tel, and Sovngarde beckons on the horizon. I worry that Shor may not call the soul of an animal as he would a true Nord."

"Hircine would probably be only too happy to grab you, if you're worried about not having anywhere to go," I shrugged and chased his king around the board with my knights. After clearing most of the board with my other pieces it was fairly easy to keep his king pinned. He hadn't seem prepared for me to play so aggressively after a night of heavy drinking.

"An eternity in his Hunting Grounds is less appealing than the camaraderie of Sovngarde. But you don't need to listen to the worries of an old man. It isn't anything a whelp like you needs to be bothered with."

"If you say so. Checkmate, by the way."

"I see that. It was a quick game," he chuckled. "I'll admit, you caught me off guard with the early rush. You usually play more conservatively than that."

We were in the middle of setting the pieces back up when Skjor entered the room. "Kodlak, I was hoping to speak with you," he stated and then gave me a look. He was likely about to tell me he wished it to be private but I beat him to it and started towards the door.

"Kailev-Tel! Speak to Eorlund about a sword," the older man called after me.

"What's wrong with the one I have now?" I asked and hefted my greatsword from its resting place next to the door.

"It can't hurt to have a good sidearm as well," he pointed out and then turned to Skjor. "Now, what was it you wished to speak about?"

It was disinterest more than respect for their privacy that I didn't catch anything else. I had enough things to worry about without eavesdropping on other people's business. It would probably lead to me doing something stupid like trying to help.

I arrived at my house just before midday after retrieving my new blade from Eorlund. It had been made before I had returned the day before. I found the place vacant and took the opportunity to have a nap. My armour ended up in a heap beside the bed, along with everything save my trousers. I couldn't have been asleep for more than an hour before I heard the thud of another door in the house. When footsteps entered my room I sat up groggily and turned to see Lydia in the doorway, dressed in her civilian clothes. "My Thane! You're home," she smiled.

"Apparently so. You've made it a habit of strolling into my room while I've been gone, I take it?" I yawned and dropped back down onto my bed.

"The door was open."

"...Oh, yeah. It probably was," I laughed and noticed that she had made her way over to the bed. "Sorry, that was rude of me. How have the last few days been? My sister clearly hasn't worn you to your last nerve, yet."

Lydia seemed surprised by the change in manner but continued to smile nonetheless. "I've been on patrol since you left, actually. I had just gotten back and changed my clothes when I saw your door was open."

She lowered and I felt the bed shift under her weight when she sat down. "And like the stalwart housecarl you are, you made sure that no one was stealing your Thane's shit. I knew there was a reason I kept you around."

Her hand on my cheek turned my face to greet hers. "I have to hope that you keep me around for a little more than my diligence, my Thane," she said, her breath hot against my lips.

The pent-up desire I had held for her won out over any witty remark. I lifted myself just enough to catch her with a kiss. She seemed to be expecting it and willingly returned the gesture. My arms slipped up to pull her completely down to the bed. I thought of asking for my sister but decided I didn't really care that much about being caught. It wouldn't be the first time she had walked in on me in bed with someone else.

I didn't hesitate for a moment before I began pulling at Lydia's loose clothing. Considering that most of her time was spent in armour I wasn't surprised that her ordinary clothes would be kept so baggy and open. I wasn't going to argue with how easily it came off. She let me remove her shirt before we each set to work on the other's pants. Our lips went uninterrupted while we stripped each other bare.

The moment we were nude we were entwined as close as our bodies would allow. It hit me that my scales must be quite rough, considering how smooth her skin felt in comparison. It also occurred that it must not feel too horrible, or Lydia likely wouldn't be so tightly pressed to me.

Her lips broke from mine to trail down my cheek and jaw to my throat. I let out a noise halfway between a hiss and a groan. She pulled away from me just long enough to lower her hand to my swelling member. It thickened in her hand almost as soon as her fingers curled around it.

"Someone's eager," my dry chuckle was cut off by another groan when her hand began sliding up and down my cock.

I pushed a finger into her hot entrance and felt her shake slightly. "I don't think I've shared a bed as recently as you, my Prince," she quipped as she pressed a hot kiss surprisingly close to the opening for a gill.

I didn't have a witty response ready. "In my defence, my father has three wives," I chuckled again. "I'm just following the example. It seems to have worked well enough for him so far."

I pushed her just far enough back for me to get my mouth to her breasts when the sudden urge struck me. It never occurred to me to take note of whose breasts were bigger, between Ysolda and Lydia. I was just thankful that I was allowed to enjoy both of them and was determined to show my gratitude. Her hand slipped a few times while my tongue lashed across her puffy nipple. My free hand made sure that neither of her lovely tits were left unattended.

It couldn't have been more than a minute or two before she pushed my hand away from her slick pussy and directed my swollen member to replace it. The embrace of her vagina was as welcoming as ever.

I basked in the feeling of being pushed inside her but she didn't let it last long before she was sitting straight up and driving herself down on me. I reached for her breasts but her hands quickly pinned by wrists to the bed above my head. Her lips were on mine in the next moment and her tongue was forcibly invading my mouth. I had to admire her fervour and returned it as much as I was allowed.

The pace she set was rapid at first but it wasn't long before she calmed. It also wasn't long before she was moaning with every stroke. Her hands left my wrists to brace against my chest and I eagerly brought them to her hips. My fingers dug into her flesh but I was quite content to let her set the pace. It only seemed fair after neglecting her for so long, unwanted as it may have been.

My eyes followed the path of her hand as it lifted from my chest and travelled up her body to hers. I unconsciously slid my tongue across my teeth and lips when she brought her heavy breast up to her mouth. Her tongue dragged across her stiffened nipple and I couldn't help the rough hiss that left my throat.

"You can be a very cruel Thane," she muttered before clasping her lips around her rosy teat. "Leaving me to my own touch for so long..."

"I'll try to make it up to you," I rasped and began pushing her pace a bit harder with my hands.

Her breast fell from her mouth when she let out a soft cry. She eagerly joined in the quickened action. Every so often some fractured plea would tumble out in Lydia's moans and cries. I did all I could to respond to them until I was lifting myself with my tail.

I could feel her starting to quiver as her climax approached. It was no trouble to encourage my own end to join hers. It wasn't like trying to rush it to avoid being caught.

I knew I was caught, nonetheless, when I heard the bedroom door slam into the wall. "Brother, y-What is this?" Keesara sounded excited until she shrieked.

Lydia made to turn away but my grip on her waist was insistent. I raised a hand to her neck to hold her in place for good measure. "I don't care," I growled and continued driving into her delicious heat.

It took little convincing for my apparently starved housecarl to agree. I could feel my sister's eyes on us but paid it no heed; it wasn't the first time she had caught me in bed with someone else. "Kiss me," Lydia's gasping tone made it far easier to put the thought of my sibling out of my head. "Kiss me while you fuck me."

Our lips sealed as well as they could and I felt her orgasm clench her pussy around my shaft. Within seconds I was emptying my seed into her waiting body in hot spurts. Her cries and my groans were mingled in the rough meshing of our mouths.

When our bodies calmed down we lay panting together on our sides. I could feel her sweat-slicked skin slide against my scales as I pulled my spent member from her saturated sex. I chanced a glance downward to see our mixed fluids spilling down the insides of her thighs.

"You'll have sex with a human and not me?" Keesara reminded me of her presence and her screwed up priorities.

"...What did she just say?" Lydia asked as we sat up. "You wish to have sex with your brother?" she turned to face the younger woman blatantly staring at my exposed penis. I rolled my eyes and pulled the blanket up to cover myself, just to get her to actually pay attention.


"Half-dammit, I'm sick of this habit. It was easier when we only spoke hist."

She shot me a quick glare before affecting a very familiar self-righteous tone with Lydia. "It isn't like when you humans do it. Argonians can't have offspring with family members. It's normal for them to...learn from each other."

"Is that true?" my housecarl looked at me with clear shock.

"Kind of," I nodded with a sigh. "Most aren't as adamant about it as she is, but Argonians can't interbreed. Don't ask me why not; I don't know. I do know, however, that explaining Argonian sociology isn't my preferred post-coital activity, so get lost, Kees. I'll meet and greet with you after I'm done here. And no, you can't watch anymore."

My sister made a scene of leaving before calling me a jerk and stomping off. I couldn't help but notice that she had left the door wide open. "...I don't know if she's going to go sulk or masturbate and I'm not sure I want to know," I frowned at the open doorway.

Lydia seemed amused by my pain and decided to distract me back down to the bed with her captivating lips. "Why haven't you ever had sex with her?" she asked suddenly when my kisses began to move down her cheek and jaw.

I pulled away to give her a curious look. "She's my little sister. She used to crawl into my bed after a bad dream and made me fight other men when they hit on her."

"I have a hard time believing you needed much convincing."

"I didn't have a choice. She made it a rule that no male was allowed to court her unless they beat me in a fight." I thought of being clearer but decided it wouldn't matter enough to mention. "It was irritating but at least it kept me in shape through my teens."

She laughed in quiet amusement. "If it irritated you so much, why didn't you just refuse?"

"She's my little sister," I repeated. "I wasn't about to let any of them touch her."

A few hours later I walked downstairs to the smell of cooking food. Lydia was apparently content to stay in the very warm bed, but I was getting hungry. I hadn't eaten since the night before and it was starting to catch up with me. The smell of cooking food was too much to resist. I found Keesara sitting by the fire, watching a couple fillets of fish cook in a pan. The scent of burning butter underlay the herbs she had scattered across the meat and I felt my mouth start to water. "What've you got there?" I asked cheerily as I strode up beside her.

She snapped her tongs across the back of my hand as it reached towards the pan. "Nothing for you!"

"Ow! Dammit, that hurt!" I barked and retracted the wounded limb. She hadn't been particularly gentle. "What's eating you?" The instant she opened her mouth I thought better of the question. "Don't say 'not you' or I'm kicking you in the ribs."

Her mouth snapped shut and she stifled a laugh. I smiled at the knowledge she wouldn't hold too much of a grudge over catching me with Lydia, even if I had to momentarily put up with catching metal tongs across my knuckles. "...So humans, huh?" she said after a moment and looked back at the cooking fish.

"It isn't like I have some weird fetish, Kees. I just can't resist their feminine wiles every time one of them catches me in a corner," I shrugged and crouched down beside her.

"...What in Oblivion is that supposed to mean?"

"It means I can't say no to a pretty female," I said and immediately regretted my words. I regretted them more a moment later when the pretty female beside me gave me a solid punch in the arm.

"You don't think I'm pretty?" she levelled a harsh glare at me while I rubbed the sore spot in my bicep.

"I think we're related and that matters more," I rolled my eyes but smiled all the same. "Just to placate you, though, I think you're a beautiful young female. Even if you're twisted and perverted."

Another solid blow to my arm made half of it numb. "I'm not perverted. All of our sisters have asked you at least once. And your mother..."

"I don't need to be reminded about the horrors my mother has put me through," I shuddered. "She's too damned...encouraging sometimes. I think she caused me as much trouble as you did, though you've definitely gotten me into more fights."

Keesara sniggered quietly. "Well, maybe I like to see you fight," she shrugged and set to plating the fish. I smiled when I saw her split it between two plates.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that you take great pleasure in watching me get hurt. You're definitely sadistic enough," I chuckled and took the offered food.

My sister gave me a horrified look on the way to the table. "Sadistic? How do you figure I'm sadistic?" she actually sounded genuinely offended by the accusation.

"Jeetah-Ya?" I offered.

"That kreenik had it coming," she scoffed as we sat down.

I gave her a quick rap across her fingers with my fork when she reached for her food to admonish her for swearing. "You beat her up, tore off her clothes and burned them. In public. For asking me to take her to some gathering," I said with complete disregard for her glare. "I consider that to be at least borderline sadistic."

"You'd already agreed to take me. She had no right to get flirtatious with you."

I sighed and started into my food. It wasn't going to do any good to argue with her. I wasn't in the mood to butt heads with her over it. "...So what have you been up to over the last few days? Keeping yourself busy?" I asked.

She seemed momentarily surprised by the change in subject but simply shrugged all the same. "I started working at the Temple of Kynareth here in town, like Lydia suggested," she spoke around her food.

"Back to pruning bushes already?" I snickered and earned myself a kick in the shin under the table.

"Don't speak of the Hist that way. It's..."

"Blasphemy. Yeah, you keep telling me," I cut her off while I rubbed my shin under the table. "What does that matter? It isn't like you're tending to the Hist right now."

Keesara paused a moment in chewing her food. "...I think it might be, actually. Or an old transplant or graft of one. The priestesses said it came from a tree called the Eldergleam," she explained before shaking her head. "Whatever the Gildergreen is, it isn't an ordinary tree. Or wasn't, I guess; it's dead, now."

"So what are you doing taking care of a dead tree? Seems like an act of futility to me."

"The priestesses at the temple don't know it's dead. I heard one of them talking about finding someone to get some sap from the tree it was grafted from," she remarked.

"Well, if it is from a Hist tree, that would probably work. At least for a few years, until it just died again," I replied before I caught an important part of her statement. "Wait, you mean they have paying work? I'll go sap a tree or whatever if there's money in it."

Her lips pulled back in a disapproving frown. "Even if it did work, the tree would only get another decade of life. If it's dead it should be allowed to rot. Besides, they were thinking of asking but as far as I know it isn't paying; I don't think the Temple of Kynareth is a business." She stopped suddenly as an idea apparently overtook her. "Then again, if the Gildergreen is actually from a Hist tree, then that would mean the Eldergleam is one."

"Genius observation."

"I've never seen a Hist tree outside of Black Marsh," she blatantly ignored my interruption.

"Me neither," I shrugged. "You want to go see it? I can always extort something out of the priestesses for the work." She rolled her eyes but didn't disagree.

"That's the one who was talking about hiring someone. Her name's Danica Pure-Spring," Keesara informed me as we arrived at the Gildergreen in the centre of Whiterun.

I nodded and strode up to the woman seated at a bench at the foot of the large tree. "Hey, I heard you were looking for some help with your dead tree," I remarked casually. Neither female seemed terribly impressed by my comment.

Despite her frown, Danica nodded. "Yes, this old tree has become something of an eyesore of late. It isn't really a problem for me, but the pilgrims have been getting upset about its condition. There haven't been many around as a result."

"Pilgrims? I thought crazy people only walked cross-country to see trees in Black Marsh," my surprise was cut off by my sister's sharp elbow jabbing into my side.

Danica's eyebrow rose at her antics but she didn't comment on them. "To the east of the city is a grove around an ancient tree called the Eldergleam. It's the oldest living thing in Skyrim; maybe even all of Tamriel." At that I snorted lightly and had to remind myself that she had never seen or likely even heard of the elder Hist in Black Marsh that had sprouted with the birth of Nirn. "The Gildergreen was a cutting from that tree, and has been here since the town was founded. You can still feel the glory of the Eldergleam in it."

I nodded and gazed up at the brown and grey hulk. It really had been quite the tree, before its obvious death. "And you're hoping you can revive it."

"Things like this never really die; they just slumber. I believe that some sap from the parent could help the child to wake up. You wouldn't be able to tap a tree like that with any ordinary metal, though. I don't think there is a metal that could do it, to be honest. However, I've heard about a blade called Nettlebane that some hagravens forged for sacrificing spriggans. Last I heard, it was at a place called Orphan Rock," Danica explained at length.

"And where's that?" I asked.

"Just to the northeast of Helgen, tucked away in the mountains at the border. The people of Riverwood might be able to give you better directions."

"Then I know where I'm headed first. Thanks," I smiled and turned to find my sister had deserted me without my noticing. "That explains why she was so quiet," I muttered to myself. I decided not to ponder on it and figured she must have headed home after I agreed to run her little errand.

I caught sight of her in the market, speaking with a red-faced Ysolda. I cursed under my breath while I debated taking a longer route back to the house. Before I took the opportunity to head back through the town the distressed human caught sight of me. I saw a pleading look in her eyes and cursed again.

"You had sex with her, too?" Keesara demanded as I approached.

I frowned at her loud question. It may not have bothered me overmuch but Ysolda didn't seem too comfortable with my sister's boisterous attitude at the moment. "Who I have sex with is none of your business," I answered coolly. "Sorry about my obnoxious sibling, Ysolda. I promise to make it up to you," I gave her an apologetic smile while I hooked a firm arm around my sister's neck to drag her away. She looked rather confused and embarrassed by the abrupt interruption to her business and I couldn't blame her.

Keesara struggled and clawed at my arm but I wasn't in the mood to have her get me into any more awkward predicaments. I was glad that her horns were small and curved and so didn't jab into my ribs or armpit the way her thrashing elbows kept catching my stomach.

I released her once we were inside the house and simply ignored the inevitable spew of angry gibberish of mixed Cyrodiilic and hist that spilled from her lips. "Lydia! We're going on another adventure!" I called out. "And I promised this one doesn't involve dragons. At least probably not."

"Right now?" she asked from the top of the stairs as I ascended. "It's nearly nightfall."

"We'll only be heading to Riverwood tonight. Apparently I need to find some fancy knife to stab a tree or something, I dunno. In any case, the place is vaguely near Riverwood and I have some friends there so we should be able to stay the night without much trouble," I explained. She gave a simple nod and retreated to her room to gather her equipment while I did the same.

"When you say 'friends', my Thane, you wouldn't happen to mean some woman with whom you've had the pleasure of sharing a bed, would you?" she asked from her room. My fingers slipped in buckling my newest sword to my belt at the question. Her laugh told me that she heard the resultant clatter of metal. "I'll take that as a 'yes'."

"When I say 'friends' I mean a very nice family that let me sleep in their basement for a couple days after I escaped Helgen," I corrected her. "The fact that there's a woman there with whom I've shared pleasant company is entirely beside the point."

"Are you serious?" my sister shrieked from my doorway. To my utter shame I actually jumped and spun in alarm. I hadn't heard her approach at all. "Do you have a woman in every town in this country? Are they all human?"

"I already told you it's none of your business," I tried to frown but couldn't resist an entertained smirk at the way she glowered at me. Her punches may have hurt more than a grown Nord's but it was still fun to get her riled up. Lydia caught my eye as she came up behind Keesara. The steel plate I had crafted for her with Adrianne's help fit her wonderfully. The blacksmith had joked that I knew my housecarl's measurements intimately without realizing how accurate her statement was. "Good to go?" I asked over my shorter sibling.

She nodded and I could see some measure of excitement lighting her eyes. "Of course, my Thane. Lead the way."

A/N: So this totally isn't worth the wait, but I'm sick of doing and it hasn't quite been three months yet that so here it is. It has, however, been almost two years since I started this thing. I never imagined it would actually last so long. The other reason it's ending here is because I'm still undecided about what should actually happen in Riverwood. On a completely unrelated note, I have a curiosity for the two females that have actually read this: should there be more female-oriented fanservice? It hadn't previously occurred to me that there hadn't been an abundance of it (mostly due to first-person perspective and being male) but when the thought hit me I decided it would do to pose the question. I can't imagine an immense number of women actually read something I've written but if there's demand for it I'd like to do what I can to make up for the absolutely horrid update schedule.