By the time Lydia and I reached Riverwood it was well after sunset. Half the waxing moon hung in the sky, peeking through the thin clouds. Keesara had been left despite her insistence that she join us, mostly because I knew she only wanted a chance to either keep me from having sex with Lydia or, failing that, to watch like the twisted deviant she was.
"Have you ever been to Riverwood? I can't recall if I've ever asked," I questioned my housecarl as we entered the village. The air was chilly but the river flowed as swiftly as I remembered.
She shook her head. "No, my Thane. I hadn't travelled much before meeting you, outside of patrols. For better or worse, you've done a great job of making my life more exciting."
"I do try to keep it on the 'better' side. Honest," I chuckled as we crossed the bridge into town. "If I had a choice I wouldn't have dragons accosting us every other week, or at least not doing nasty things like throwing you off bridges."
"So long as we can avoid it happening again I am content, my Thane," Lydia said.
"I'll do my best," I replied and looked down the small village's main road. I first thought of staying at Alvor and Sigrid's, but considered that the late hour likely meant that they were already asleep and I didn't much want to disturb them. I thought the same of Lucan and Camilla's, though staying at their home was also complicated by a presumed lack of accommodations. I hadn't seen any beds besides their own the last time I had been there.
I eventually decided that whatever the inn cost wasn't going to ruin me and walked inside. It was warm and smelled of humans and wood smoke. The stringy sound of a lute drew my attention to the blonde Nord bard by the fire. When his eyes landed on me I saw them narrow and I realized that it was Sven, one of the pair of morons whose unimaginative ploy I had outed to Camilla Valerius.
"Kailev-Tel! You're back!" a feminine call tore my attention away from the man. I turned to see Camilla herself approaching me. Her wide grin made her eyes sparkle happily and I found myself smiling back. I guessed she had somehow missed my housecarl when she wrapped her arms around me in a hug. "I certainly didn't expect to see you here. How have you been? It's been too long." Lydia regarded me with an expression that belied her impure thoughts. I mildly regretted admitting having had sex with someone in Riverwood to her.
Knowing I still had Sven's eyes on me I wrapped my arms around Camilla in a warm embrace. "It certainly has been a while," I agreed and directed her attention to Lydia. "Camilla, this is Lydia, my housecarl. Lydia, this is Camilla Valerius, a...friend of mine." The woman's lifted eyebrow told me all I needed. It also struck me that I had never bothered asking Lydia about her surname.
Lydia extended her hand in greeting to the other woman. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Valerius."
"Please, call me Camilla," the latter shook her hand, though I noticed a strange femininity to the action. Strange for a handshake, anyway. "So, you're the new Thane of Whiterun?" she asked. "I had heard that there had been one appointed recently but I didn't know it was you."
"I keep hearing that. Seems like it should be more noteworthy that an Argonian mercenary was given an official position," I said with a frown. "Especially when he's killing dragons and...doing all that other nifty stuff that I do."
Camilla stared at me with a look of mixed surprise and awe that made the scales under my armour feel hot and chafed. It reminded me of some of the looks she had given me the first time she had seen me naked. "Killing dragons? You'll have to tell me all about it," she said and led me to a table at the far end of the inn. It was only large enough for one person to sit at each side of it, but that made answering the young woman's questions fairly easy.
Lydia and I got ourselves some drinks – she some wine and I a tankard of mead – and we related some abridged version of our travels to the enraptured woman. We drank and ate as we talked, though there was certainly more done of the latter than the former.
"So why were you asked to go to High Hrothgar?" she asked as I told her about the climb up the mountain. I had successfully managed to avoid explaining my being the Dragonborn to her and my housecarl had done an admirable job of not outing me.
"Because I killed a dragon," I answered simply. "Apparently that's a big deal."
"It likely also had something to do with being the Dragonborn, my Thane," Lydia wiped away my thought as quickly as it had come to me.
I shot her an irritated glance and did my best to ignore the way Camilla's jaw dropped open. "I can expose my own secrets, thank you," I sighed.
She hid an amused smile behind her cup of wine. "I am sorry, my Thane," her tone said she was anything but, "but Camilla is a friend of yours, yes? Surely you can trust her with the knowledge."
"You're the Dragonborn?" Camilla asked without the slightest trace of disbelief to her voice. There was too much awe for any to fit, I supposed.
I hushed her and took a glance around the inn to see if anyone had heard us. Despite the fact that Sven had been glaring at my back since I sat down with the pretty woman it didn't seem like he was doing a very good job of actually eavesdropping. "Unfortunately," I answered at length. "It gets me into a lot more trouble than such a meaningless title is worth, I assure you. Every time a dragon comes along it seems overcome with the desire to eat me. I'm flattered that they think I'd be tasty but all the same they could stand to bother some other Argonian just minding his business."
"Have many attacked you?" the woman asked with no small amount of worry. Her voice was just full of emotion. I assumed the alcohol may have had something to do with it.
"Only three, and it isn't as though I didn't have help. Still, I'd be quite content if they were to leave me alone," I shrugged and heard Lydia snort with contained laughter.
"I can't imagine you actually avoiding a fight, my Thane," she snickered and it occurred to me that she had just finished her fourth cup of wine. If seeing her drunk hadn't proven entertaining in the past I would have considered cutting her off. Instead I simply finished my fifth flagon and asked for another round for the three of us. It never crossed my mind that I had spent far more on food and drink than I had intended to on just the room.
Camilla joined in my housecarl's laughter at my expense. "He did seem like a troublemaker the few days he was here," she agreed. "But he's a good man, isn't he? Always ready to jump to a woman's defence when he thinks someone's out to get her."
"I think he just uses it as an excuse to pick fights, but I suppose his heart's in the right place," Lydia remarked with an amused smile.
I did my best not to let my embarrassment at the women's praise show. "Same place it's always been," I said and tapped a fist against my left breast. "And I should hope I'm a decent man. I don't think I make a very good dragon. I'm lacking the superiority complex."
"I'll assume the Dragonborn to be an expert on such things," Camilla giggled. "What are you doing back in Riverwood, anyway?"
"Oh yeah. I guess I am kind of here on business aren't I," I laughed aloud. "You wouldn't happen to know where Orphan Rock is, would you? I was given vague directions in Windhelm but was told to ask around here."
Her lips turned downward at the mention of the place. "What would you possibly want there? It's just a mess of hags."
"They have some trinket that's unkind to plants that I need for someone. Nettle-something," I explained.
"Nettlebane," Lydia helpfully provided.
"Yeah, that thing," I nodded.
Camilla looked unsure for a moment. I thought that she should have more faith in me, considering how well I had handled retrieving her claw. "There's a path into the mountains that will lead you there from Helgen," she answered eventually. "I believe there's a way that cuts straight through the mountains south of town, as well, but I've never actually explored that myself."
I mimicked her frown. "I don't really like mountains. They lost their novelty halfway up the Throat of the World. I'm kinda curious about what Helgen looks like these days, anyway, so I guess that'll do it. Thanks."
"You're certainly welcome, Kai, though I still think it's a deplorable place to go."
"Can't be any worse than Windhelm," I shrugged.
Camilla didn't ask me to elaborate and I assumed it meant she must know enough of the town already. "Do you have any plans for where to stay tonight?" she asked somewhat suddenly.
Caught off guard, I stared blinking at her for a moment. "Uh...I was thinking of here," I gestured to the inn.
She gave me a sly smile. "Don't be silly. I'd be happy to offer my home to the Dragonborn for the night. Lucan is on a business trip to Rorikstead for the next few days."
I opened my mouth to comment that I didn't remember her having more than two beds but quickly thought better of it. "Well, I can't say no to a chance to save some coin. Thank you again, Camilla," I returned her smile.
"If you cared about your coin you wouldn't have spent it all on drink, my Thane," Lydia apparently felt compelled to point out.
"All the more reason to save what I can on accommodations," I chuckled and stood from the table. The full force of the alcohol I had consumed throughout the night hit me and I nearly tripped on my first step. I likely would have looked quite foolish had I not possessed a tail to wildly flail around to regain my balance. "Oh, shit. I'm a bit more drunk than I thought."
I could tell by her uncharacteristic grin that Lydia wasn't much better, but she was at least more coordinated about it than I was. Camilla seemed the most sober of us as she led us to her home. She even managed to unlock the door without so much as a slip. After a moment of fumbling about in the dark I lit a couple candles with a small fire spell. Camilla told us she was going to get the beds ready and slipped upstairs.
Lydia and I set to removing the bulk of our respective arms and armour while our hostess was gone. I caught sight of the golden claw I had retrieved from Bleak Falls Barrow in the flickering candlelight and wondered why it was left out in the open when that had previously led to its theft. "A question, my Thane..." Lydia's voice drew my from my thoughts.
I shot her a glance and a nod before returning my attention to the inventory of the store. "Yes, Camilla is the one I mentioned having had sex with in this town," I flippantly answered the question before she could ask it. "Although I'll admit I didn't expect to run into her tonight."
"Very serendipitous," my housecarl noted with shocking eloquence. Her ability to speak without slurring while clearly intoxicated was admirable. "Perhaps if you are lucky..."
"The beds are ready," Camilla's announcement from upstairs cut her off.
I turned again to ask Lydia to finish but found her already ascending the stairs. I frowned after her but quickly followed suit. Whatever she was about to say, I could hardly consider myself lucky considering that a day didn't go by without me being attacked by something.
I found Lydia removing her leggings – the last of her armour – and Camilla in the same nightgown I remembered her wearing the first night we had shared a bed. It took only a moment for me to notice that the two beds had been pushed together and the sight nearly made my jaw drop open.
"Where am I to sleep?" Lydia asked curiously upon noticing what I had.
Camilla's lip caught between her teeth for a moment and a blush not entirely the fault of alcohol rose to her cheeks. "Well, maybe I presume too much, but you two are...together, yes?" she asked.
I was about to deliver my typical line of her being my housecarl when Lydia answered in my stead. "In a way," she said with a sly glance my way. "We have a more intimate relationship than is typical for a Thane and housecarl, but I'd never deign to make any claims on his independence."
I shouldn't have been, but I was a little surprised at her open honesty. "...Yeah, what she said," I agreed after a moment.
"Then perhaps you wouldn't be too opposed to the idea of me sharing my bed with both of you."
Some small part of me had been expecting it and still I was certain my eyes couldn't have grown much wider. Lydia looked to me expectantly. "Hey, I'm not going to be the one who says no," I shrugged. As shocked as I may have been I wasn't about to turn down that kind of offer.
"If it is your wish, my Thane," my housecarl said, though her tone and faint smile told me that she wasn't at all against the proposition.
A moment later Camilla's lips were pressed to mine. It crossed my mind that I may not actually be able to serviceably tend to both women when I felt Lydia's hands sliding under my cloth shirt. Camilla pulled away so the garment could be removed before guiding me towards the beds. My insecurity stopped me just short and I nearly spoke up until my housecarl's arms wrapped around my stomach from behind me. She planted a series up kisses up my shoulder, though my greater height kept her from reaching as far as my neck. Still, the desire I felt in her touch coupled with Camilla's insistent tug on my hand instilled a sense of confidence and determination.
Before I had a chance to act on it my hostess's hands made their way to the buckles of my pants. "These are still impossible," she muttered as she struggled with the straps.
"They are a useless hindrance," Lydia intoned from behind me. Her hands joined Camilla's at my buckles to join in helping loosen them. A moment later the armoured trousers were sliding down my legs and tail to be thrown to some corner of the room.
I chuckled while I descended on Camilla. "As much fun as it might be, Skyrim's a bit cold to go around without pants."
I had barely gotten her nightgown off when Lydia pushed me to my back. I found myself staring at two gorgeous and naked women and felt a lopsided grin pulling at my face. There were times being the Dragonborn was almost worth the injuries and excitement it caused.
Seeing the two women next to each other gave me a chance to compare. Both were beautiful; Camilla's body was slim and lithe, whereas Lydia was buxom and strong. Though my housecarl's breasts were fairly larger I couldn't consider her counterpart's any less enticing. I found myself incredibly conflicted about which female to start with, to the point that it seemed they felt like deciding themselves.
Camilla dove down to kiss me, her tongue forcing its way past my lips and teeth to find mine. The faint taste of wine lingered in her mouth and it made me wonder if mine tasted like mead. I could feel Lydia's lips on my throat and chest, though she didn't stay for long before trailing them down my body.
My muscles fluttered under her touch and just once I had to keep a snicker in when she brushed over a sensitive spot at my hip. I pressed my lips more fervently against Camilla's as she tossed a leg over my stomach to straddle me. I couldn't hold in a pleased hiss when I felt my housecarl's lips engulf my hardening member. It very quickly swelled in her mouth in response to her ministrations. As soon as it felt as though I couldn't get any harder, Lydia's warm embrace left me and Camilla pulled away from my lips. I stifled my disappointed groan when I saw the former's hands slip around Camilla's waist and pull her back until I could feel the heat of her moist sex on my groin.
Lydia's head peaked over our hostess's shoulder to press hot, wet kisses against her neck. Camilla's head fell back with a breathy moan. My housecarl's hands slid up Camilla's sides to grip her breasts, kneading the creamy flesh. Lydia's eyes fell to me and I felt my stiff dick twitch at the lust in them. I guided it to Camilla's entrance with one hand and pushed her hips down with my other. Her slick pussy enveloped me and I felt briefly smothered. I had forgotten how tight she was. She shifted in my lap for a moment, adjusting to the feel of the thick cock buried inside her.
My housecarl whispered something I couldn't catch in her ear that made her shudder and seemed to incite her to action. When Camilla started lifting and impaling herself on my penis Lydia abandoned her place at the woman's back. She fell to the bed beside us, captured my gaze and slipped a hand between her legs. I glanced down to see her rubbing small circles around her moistening clitoris. My attention was called back to her face by a moan, then to Camilla's by a harsh cry of pleasure. I couldn't decide where to focus my sight and eventually settled for simply closing my eyes and basking in the feel, sound and smell of the two females.
Camilla's pace quickly became frustrating to my desperate arousal. My fingers dug into the soft skin of her hips while I drove her onto my cock. I felt a tongue slide up my neck, then lips against my ear. "You look stunning fucking her like that, my Prince," Lydia muttered between gasps and mewls.
I bit back a pleasured hiss and looking over at my sometimes-capricious housecarl "Jealous?" I chuckled back breathlessly.
"Not if you promise to do just as well for me," she smiled back before kissing me roughly. Her fingers continued their busy work at her relatively neglected sex.
Camilla's nails dragged lightly across my chest. I tore away from Lydia to look up quizzically at her and was rewarded with a fierce kiss. One of my hands snapped up to slip into her hair to hold her steady while I returned the kiss with equal fervour.
After what felt like a blissful eternity Camilla pulled away from me with a sharp gasp. "I found a good spot?" I growled in her ear. A couple more hard strokes were returned with increasingly loud cries. She mumbled something positive-sounding and I took it as a request to continue. It took an almost disappointingly short time for her to begin clenching my cock in her orgasm.
She moaned my name in my ear for a few seconds until it was lost in her screams of lust. I continued pounding into her, chasing my far off end until she stayed me with a firm hand on my hip. "Hold...hold on," she gasped without breath. "I haven't...been with anyone since you. I need a chance to get used to it again." She glanced beside me and a sly smile graced her lips. "Besides, I think there's someone else who's tired of waiting."
Camilla slipped off me and settled to the bed at my other side. I rolled over to find myself quite comfortably caught between Lydia's legs. My hand once more guided my throbbing erection to wedge into a warm, wet pussy. I pushed in and out of her tight embrace easily; she had become positively drenched while watching me fuck our hostess. I slipped my hands beneath her thighs and spread her legs open. The look of ecstasy on her face brought a fierce grin to my lips. I drove into her until her bountiful tits jumped up and down with every thrust.
Her nails biting into my scales made me aware of her hands gripping my forearms. I could feel her trying to match my thrusts but the speed and force of them made it difficult. She looked up at me with rapt eyes above reddened cheeks. Her mouth hung open, gasping for the breaths I was driving out of her.
While I found my eyes focused on her open lips, Camilla descended upon them. Their kiss was frantic and sloppy with their lust. "Ilsaa," I cursed and felt my cock throb inside Lydia's tightening sex. Camilla's wet mouth left a trail of saliva down Lydia's throat when she moved to attack her breasts.
She only lingered there for a moment before continuing down my housecarl's body. She planted damp kisses along her stomach until she reached our joined sexes. A quick lashing of her tongue was given to Lydia's clitoris and the hard dick pounding into it. She locked eyes with me the whole trip up my own body until our lips were meshed together.
I saw Camilla's hand move to Lydia's bouncing breast before my eyes slid shut. "Your housecarl," she muttered between kisses. "She's a very beautiful woman. Especially when she's getting fucked like that."
A moment later I felt my hostess's hand drop to Lydia's clitoris. "My...my Thane," my hoursecarl gasped. "I'm about to..."
I very briefly broke away from Camilla to mutter, "Yeah, me too."
She beat me, though only by a brief moment. The walls of her pussy tightened their hold until they felt fit to strangle me. Just before my own orgasm started in full swing Camilla pushed my hip just far enough back for me to slip out. Her fist instantly clasped around my shaft and pumped me for all I was worth. I hissed wordlessly against her lips, too much of my control gone to properly kiss her.
I turned to Lydia to see her splattered in my cum. Most was spread in thick strands across her heaving breasts and stomach but one errant shot had flown clear and was plastered across her jaw and cheek. Without thinking much of it I wiped it away with my thumb only to have the digit caught between my housecarl's lips. She sucked and licked my hand until any traces of my seed had long vanished.
"It hardly seems fair that she get it all," Camilla intoned before dropping to lap away all that she could from Lydia's body. I didn't see that she hadn't swallowed most of it until her lips were mashed clumsily with Lydia's. They shared the semen between their passionate kiss and I saw a thin line of fluid dribble down Camilla's chin. Lydia dipped down immediately to catch it. My spent member twitched in renewing desire as I watched the two women press together.
I took advantage of the chance to slide down their bodies. They broke apart to cast a glance my way an instant before my tongue fell to Camilla's wet slit. I dragged it through her folds, drawn in by the salty taste of her essence. I didn't want to leave Lydia unattended and slid my hand up her leg to bury two fingers in her still-dripping quim. Their moans and pants melded together in their joined lips to create an erotic song.
Lydia's mouth made its way to Camilla's throat while their hands roamed across each other's bodies. The latter's head fell back in a breathless cry. I kissed a path across their legs until my tongue was buried in my housecarl's sex. I happily replaced my mouth with my fingers at Camilla's clitoris to make sure she wasn't left out.
It took only a couple minutes for both women to start writhing against each other in shared bliss. Each one's orgasm set off in succession and their entwined bodies made it easier for me to service both with my lashing tongue. When they stopped screaming and shaking I felt each pulling at my wrists and didn't argue with rejoining them.
I was quickly pulled to the bed and set upon by the pair of beautiful women. They seemed eager to kiss and lick my lips, jaw and throat. It wasn't long before their mixed fluids were gone and all three of us shared in a rough, haphazard kiss. They eventually dropped to the bed, clearly as exhausted and satisfied as I.
"I'll have to visit more often," I chuckled before a yawn caught in my throat. Lydia made a small noise of agreement and settled against my side, her head tucked under my shoulder and an arm thrown across my chest.
"Perhaps I could come to Whiterun sometime," Camilla offered while wrapping around my arm and leg.
"That sounds like a good idea," I agreed. It took a brief struggle but I was able to use my tail and free hand to cover us with a blanket. Without our vigorous physical activity to heat up the room the chilled air was quickly closing in. I was immensely thankful for the warmth of the two bodies pressed against my sides.
The next morning was spent putting off the rest of the journey to Helgen. I knew the trip was only about three hours and I didn't imagine Orphan Rock being much further than that. I was very comfortably buried into the fabric blankets, surrounded by the body heat of our three bodies. Without a fire going it was the only thing keeping the cold air hanging around the rest of the room.
"I'm regretting that none of us lit a fire last night. My clothes are out of reach," I frowned.
Camilla's head peered over her shoulder to look at me. Her back was pressed against my chest since halfway through the night my body decided sleeping on my side was more comfortable. She had happily acquiesced. "Perhaps you should brave the cold and light one now?" she suggested.
I planted my chin on her shoulder to save her the trouble of twisting her neck so far. "You're the host. You light it," I remarked with a smirk.
"You're the man."
"Are you actually trying to use your race to get out of lighting a fire, my Thane?" Lydia asked from behind me. She had my tail across her stomach and was idly rubbing at its underside. It was actually quite enjoyable to have someone take such a friendly interest in the useful appendage.
"I could just order you to do it, you know," I did what I could to regard her with a raised eyebrow over my shoulder.
She nodded simply. "Yes, you could. It wouldn't be as fast as using your magic, though," she pointed out.
I sighed, relented, and reluctantly extricated myself from the warm bed. The house was cold and had left my scattered clothes equally so. I hurried to get the fire lit, though even so the flames had barely crept up the wood by the time Lydia and Camilla joined me downstairs. Our hostess prepared some heated wine to get some warmth into our bodies before we left.
On my way out the door Camilla stopped me and demanded a hug. "Safe travels," Camilla said as she gave me a hug. It was a little awkward with my armour on but we managed well enough.
"Safe? That wouldn't be any fun," I chuckled. I earned a predicted eye roll and head shake for my quip and couldn't help but smile wider.
When Lydia and I stepped outside it was to find small white flakes falling from the sky. I frowned as one landed on the tip of my snout. "Oh, joy," I said without any.
"You don't like the snow, my Thane?" I heard Lydia chuckle at my flank.
"Not as much as I like the rain, no," I replied as I dug my cloak out of my pack. I noticed then that, to the best of my knowledge, Lydia had no such thing. Without thinking I extended the one clutched in my hand.
My housecarl gave me a strange look. "You are going to need that more than I am," she pointed out. "I've lived my whole life in Skyrim. The first snowfall of the year isn't going to bother me much."
I shrugged it off. "Hey, your call, but I better not hear you complaining later that you're too cold."
"If it comes to that I would hope that my Thane is willing to share," she said in a shockingly even tone that left me unable to find a quick retort.
"Kailev-Tel! What are you doing in town?" I was saved from any embarrassment by Alvor's call. I looked up the street to see him standing at the railing around his forge. I somewhat envied his job's warmth.
"Just passing through on my way to Orphan Rock," I called back.
Even at the distance we stood I could see his grimace. "I don't know what you could want with that cursed place, but good luck."
I waved goodbye and started down the road to Helgen. I had barely gotten past the threshold of town when a familiar chill crept up the back of my neck. "Oh, shit," I grumbled and dashed down the road. I was sure Lydia was confused but I didn't have a chance to explain.
I didn't need to when the dragon came soaring down from the mountain overlooking the town. Its thunderous roar ripped through the countryside and echoed off the mountains surrounding us. The dragon swooped over Riverwood and looked ready to descend on the town. "Dovah!" I yelled at the top of my lungs.
It was a successful ploy to get its attention, even if I didn't know what I planned to do after getting it. The dragon circled around and fixed me with a baleful stare. "Dovahkiin!" its Voice reverberated off the mountains. The wind from its wing beats scattered the leaves and snow littering the ground around my feet as it alighted just before me. "Fo!" the next word from its mouth carried with it an icy wind.
"Yol!" the quickest response I could muster was my own Shout of fire. The Thu'um colliding sent a torrent of smoke and steam blasting between the dragon and I. The cloud was blown away by the dragon lifting back into the air.
I was forced to cover my face with an arm against the gust of wind. I cursed under my breath and drew my sword as the dragon flew out of reach. It lifted high in the air before turning around and diving towards me. It swooped just overhead, snapping its great jaws at me on the way past. I narrowly avoided the daggers lining its mouth. I wondered for a moment why it didn't use its Voice again before it occurred to me that it likely couldn't Shout any more often than I could.
The snap of bowstrings drew my attention to the village guards firing arrows at the flying beast. Their uniforms marked them as Whiterun troops that had been stationed for this very occurrence and I was thankful for their help. Further back, in the village proper, I could see a few people looking on at the spectacle, including the woman at whose house I had stayed the night.
The dragon crashed on the archers a moment later. Dust and debris were blown into the air. It was tinged red with the flying blood of a soldier that had been crushed by the impact. An arm landed by my dashing foot halfway through my sprint towards the dragon. Lydia stood between it and the townspeople, her shield raised and eyes set in a defiant glare towards her opponent.
"Fo!" the dragon's Voice rang out again with another deluge of frost.
"Wuld!" my own Voice echoed with it. My dash brought me within range of the creature and the added speed made the swing of my blade powerful enough to knock the dragon off balance. Its neck snapped sideways from the force of the sword slamming into its ribs. Crimson streaks of blood splattered across its snow white scales. Its roar of pain cut its Thu'um short, though it was quick to lash at me with its tail.
I was barely fast enough to catch the brunt of its attack against the flat of my blade. I was shocked that my sword didn't break from the hit, albeit decidedly less so that it was wrenched from my grip and sent hurtling into the village wall. I considered it something of a testament to the blade's craftmanship when it managed to pierce the stone far enough to stick.
The dragon's tail also managed to knock my off my feet and daze me. I reacted without thinking and rolled away in time to dodge the clawed wing slamming into the ground. I heard Lydia shout something but the sound of smashing cobblestone and the ringing in my ears made it impossible to tell what.
My housecarl charged in at the somewhat distracted dragon and caught the bottom of its throat with her sword. Blood gushed out and splashed on the lightly snow-covered ground. She plunged her weapon into its shoulder until the blade jammed at the hilt. The dragon gave a desperate lash of its neck that knocked Lydia away at the cost of tearing the sword only partway free. A moment later it finally succumbed to its wounds, growling out some final words in its language that I couldn't understand before collapsing. The only one I caught was the last rumbling "Dovahkiin".
I let out a relieved sigh at the sight of the defeated dragon. "That went surprisingly well," I chuckled. Her shield and armour were coated in a layer of frost and edged with ice but she looked unharmed.
Lydia nodded. "It would seem we're getting better at dealing with them, my Thane," she agreed.
The townspeople had just started leaving the relative safety of the wall when the dragon's corpse burst into familiar flames. Its soul forced its way into my body and mind and filled me with formless knowledge. It took a moment to figure out but I managed to piece together its last words as something similar to "Well fought," and felt an unexpected sense of respect and solemnity for the dragon. It was a being that pursued destruction, but I could tell that it hadn't felt any malice towards me. Derision at my mortality, perhaps, but not malice.
"Kailev-Tel! Are you okay?" Camilla's voice drew me from my introspection.
"As good as I can hope to be after killing a dragon," I shrugged with an amused smirk. "Next time you hear a dragon outside, though, resist the urge to investigate until after the world stops shaking, okay? I'll feel better."
"I knew you wouldn't let anything happen to the village," she said and sounded completely confident of it.
I frowned nonetheless. "I can't guarantee your safety, Camilla. Dragons are powerful, dangerous creatures and I've gotten lucky so far that there haven't been more deaths. Take care of yourself."
Her smile remained and she gave me a nod. "I will. Make sure you do, too."
"Yeah, yeah," I rolled my eyes but smiled all the same. I supposed it was nice to know there were people in the world who worried a little.
The rest of the road to Helgen was as quiet as I remembered it, though it was somewhat odd to be willingly walking to the town in which my execution had been ordered. Lydia and I were enjoying the peaceful silence of each other's company when a thought reoccurred to me. "Hey, do you have a surname?" I asked with a look to my housecarl.
She looked surprised for a moment before answering. "Ironhand. Why do you ask, my Thane?"
"I was just curious," I shrugged.
"Do you have a surname?" she asked curiously in turn, to which I shook my head.
"No. Argonians traditionally don't. After all, we know who our family is. We can tell by the smell," I said with a tap to the side of my snout.
"Sure, why not?" I chuckled. My flippant shrug earned me an eye roll.
We lapsed back into quietness until the charred ruins of the fallen town finally came into view. The outer buildings were little more than blackened rubble. The gates were shattered and burned and only a few pieces of each held onto their hinges. "You escaped from this?" Lydia asked when we approached.
"I snuck out through an underground passage in the fort while the dragon was tearing the place apart," I explained. "You know, it's strange to see a destroyed town like this hasn't been taken over by the wildlife here."
"Perhaps the dragon that destroyed it has something to do with that," my housecarl suggested.
I nodded with a laugh. "Yeah, I guess. I'd still think some bandits would move in or something."
"And when they do I'm sure I'll be whisked back here so we can collect the bounty," Lydia remarked with surprising dryness.
"If you're so opposed to being whisked I'm sure I can find someone else to help me kill lowlifes for money," I shrugged.
"I never said I was opposed to it. I'm rather fond of our romantic getaways, when I'm not being attacked by dragons or giants."
I shook my head as I made my away towards the rear entrance of the town. It led into the forests to the east and I knew that to be the direction of Orphan Rock. "Think it's far?" I asked after we had left the town. I had resisted the morbid curiosity that demanded I inspect the square wherein my execution was to take place.
"I have no idea, my Thane. I've never even been as far south as Helgen."
"You don't make a very good tour guide, you know that?" I asked as I shot Lydia a wry smirk.
"I wasn't trained to be one," she pointed out.
I nodded. "True, but you could have wandered around as a child or something. I did. I used to know my way around most of Black Marsh, before I left."
"I suppose I was never taken with that sort of wanderlust," said my housecarl. "I think I've actually lost a few pounds since being appointed to you, though that may have as much to do with the occasional sex as the constant walking."
I was getting better at not being taken aback by Lydia's bluntness as we had gotten to know each other better. "I can't have invigorated that part of your life that much. We've only had sex a few times."
"Actually, it had been about three years since the last time I shared my bed, before I met you," she stated simply.
"Really?" I was honestly surprised. "You know you could have pretty much whomever you wanted, right?"
"What makes you say that?" Lydia asked. Her look of honest curiosity and the desire to prove my own point goaded me into stepping close enough to press a quick kiss to her lips. It was hasty and a little off-mark but it worked all the same.
"Because you're gorgeous, of course," I smirked. Her cheeks actually darkened a little and I wanted to laugh.
"Thank you, my Thane," she stated after taking a second to compose herself. "I think you're the only person who's ever said that to me," she added after a moment.
There was no denying she was a beautiful woman. It seemed strange to think that she'd be unused to compliments. "I thought men were supposed to do that whole 'conquering women' thing around here. Isn't that a great human sign of masculinity?"
"From your performance, I'd expect it to be an Argonian sign, my Thane."
I frowned at the slowly vanishing trail. "I don't conquer women. I just...am often beset by them. What else am I supposed to do, if not take them up on their generosity?"
"I never said I was upset by your actions," Lydia pointed out with a flirtatious smile.
I couldn't hold in my laugh. "I suppose that's true," I agreed. "There are still times I feel kinda bad about being such a whore. You know that if you want you can see other people, too, right?"
"I don't see much reason to seek pleasant company elsewhere," she shrugged and didn't say any more on the subject.
The silence lasted until we found Orphan Rock in the mid afternoon. It was more a rocky mound than anything else. Fallen trees dotted the landscape around it and I could see the branches of one sticking from the edge. Also scattering the area were a number of females in ragged black robes. The fact that the group was exclusively comprised of women struck me as odd but then I had encountered stranger things in my life.
The first one to see me didn't look excited at my presence. "You! What are you doing here?" she called out, drawing the attention of her surrounding fellows.
"Just out for a hike. The brisk mountain air is great for my lungs," I grinned. "What about you lovely ladies? This seems a weird place to stumble on a group of enchanting women like yourselves."
"None of your business, Argonian. You'd do well to go back the way you came."
"I'll turn right around just as soon as I find a special little knife I've been told is called Nettlebane. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"
I had expected a simple denial and warning not to ask about it. Instead a shot of fire came screaming towards my head a moment after I asked. As I ducked under the flame I realized that I probably should have seen it coming. Talking my way through the procuring of a cursed blade suddenly seemed an unrealistic prospect.
My sword's scabbard clattered to the ground somewhere behind me when I whipped the weapon free. "Wuld!" came the rather standard initial Shout from my throat. The air left the woman's body in a single heave as my blade came crashing into her shoulder. The gilded metal removed her arm without so much as a hitch in her collarbone. My hands shifted on the hilt and brought the sword back up into her ribs. Blood, flesh and bits of bone glittered in the air among the light snow.
The next moment all was chaos. A barrage of spells came hurtling at me from four separate places. Bolts of flame and shards of ice skipped off my armour. My own magic flew back at whomever I couldn't reach with my sword. Lydia's shield was as faithful at my back as always. She cleaned away whatever foes my rampage happened to miss or leave injured.
At the top of the place's namesake was the hagraven the witches were apparently following. She shrieked with an unearthly howl before unleashing a massive fireball at me across the fallen tree that separated us. "Fus!" I Shouted in desperation. The force of my Thu'um was unfortunately not enough to stop or even slow the destructive spell.
I was left with little recourse aside from taking the brunt of the explosion against my blade. The heat scorched my hands and cheeks. I managed to stand my ground, however, and by some miracle the sword survived the explosion unharmed. I tried to rush the hagraven with my usual Shout but found my Voice unwilling to come to my lips so soon after the last.
My boots kicked up dirt and bark from the fallen tree as I ran headlong at the creature. I swung my sword in a wide overhead arch. I hadn't expected the attack to actually hit and wasn't surprised that it missed. What did surprise me was the speed with which the hagraven dodged to the side and slashed at me with her claws. I ducked out of the way of the worst of it but still caught the edge of one claw with my cheek. A short one-handed swing of my sword left her with a bleeding forearm and forced her out of arm's reach.
Another fireball grew between her outstretched arms and I knew I wouldn't be able to cut her down before it was released. I was tensing my muscles to dodge to the side when my housecarl slammed into the hagraven's side like a thunderbolt. Lydia drove her to the edge and sent her sailing off with a bash of her shield. The hagraven caught the metal disk in her claws and dragged my companion over the edge with her.
"Lydia!" I yelled reflexively before deciding in a more appropriate "Wuld!" My Voice carried me to the side of the rock where I could see the hagraven and my housecarl. The former was just climbing to its feet while the latter looked to be avoiding the use of her left leg. I fired a pair of ice spikes into the hag's back before it had a chance to attack Lydia. It collapsed to the ground in an unceremonious heap.
"Hey, are you hurt?" I called down to Lydia.
"I think I sprained my leg," she called back.
I didn't think about it much before slipping off the edge of the rock. I landed with a clattering of armour but didn't injure myself as she had. "Come on. Let's get our packs so you can get a healing potion in you," I said as I lifted her to her feet. "Then we can track down this stupid knife and figure something out for the trip back. I don't think you're going to want to walk as far as Riverwood on your leg."
She nodded her assent. "You are right, my Thane." She seemed to hesitate before continuing. "I apologize for acting so rashly. It got me injured and delayed our trip."
"I'm not upset," I shrugged. "It saved me from getting injured and it's hardly like this is our first time spending a night in the wilderness. They even have a few tents and bed rolls already set up, and I think I saw a fire pit up the hill."
"I'm glad you can remain such an optimist, my Thane. Or at least an opportunist."
"I try to make the best of what I have," I said and shot her a grin. I was glad I had someone like her with whom I could share such adventures. "Now then, I think I saw some sacks of food up near that tent. I vote we go see what they were planning to have for dinner before we look around for this stupid knife."
A/N: Remember when I updated at least once a month? That was neat.