After talking freely in my study for a few hours, Tala and I made our way up to the porch of Jorrvaskr. I was enjoying the warm breeze that was blowing from the south and bringing the smell of rain with it.
I sat across the table from the small Nord girl. She was beautiful and I could see why Vilkas liked her. She had a certain innocence in her large blue eyes and her unbelievably long, almost white hair added to her childish nature. Her features were delicate and her skin pale, giving her the appearance of a painted porcelain doll. I found myself jealous of her petite frame and general over-arching adorableness.
It started to rain. I loved the sound of the water as it hit the roof above the porch. It made all the colors we saw every day more vibrant and alive. Tala stood and took my hand in hers.
"Come on!" She grinned at me. She gracefully pulled me along as I lumbered after her, feeling like a clumsy mammoth calf. It didn't take long for our clothes to be completely soaked through, but the abnormal turn in the weather had warmed it up enough that I wasn't uncomfortable. She grabbed both my hands and began to spin us in a circle. She was laughing, her mouth was stretched open in a huge grin. I quickly found myself laughing with her.
As we slowed down I began to shiver, it was still winter in Skyrim, no matter how warm it seemed. We needed to get inside and warm up.
"Come on." I smiled and took her hand. "I'll help you find something to change into."
I hated Riften. I hated everything about it, especially the Jarl. I was sitting across from her, watching her drink her expensive Blackbriar mead and laugh as the man sitting next to her whispered something in her ear. I forced a broken smile when she looked my way. I hadn't gotten to talk to her yet, but I was determined to wait here until I got my chance.
"Um, Milady?" I felt something soft touch my shoulder. I looked up to see the one of the Jarl's servants.
I turned in my chair so I could better look him in the face. "Yes?"
"There is a young woman in the streets calling your name. She seems quite distressed." There was worry on his face.
I scowled, I had no idea who would be calling for me. I had told Farkas that I would be with the Jarl and I had thought they were all going on a run.
"She is young and blonde." The man offered, hoping that would help me. It did.
My eyes widened and I stood up so quickly the chair I was sitting in tipped backwards. "Tala!" Without a word to the Jarl I left the keep. Looking around it didn't take long for me to find her. She had collapsed in the streets and a crowd was gathered around her. I elbowed my way through the onlookers and found her in the middle with a guard kneeling beside her.
"Tala!" I fell to my knees and brushed her hair from her face. She was cold, but her cheeks were flushed. "Thank you for staying with her." I looked at the guard. "I will take her from here."
"Yes Ma'am." He nodded and stood. "Do you need assistance?"
"No, thank you." I gently lifted her into my arms and began to carry her away. I tried to make it look like I was taking her to the temple and made a beeline for the entrance to the secret guild under the city streets.
"I heard the commotion from below." Kimya met us at the entrance. "What is wrong?"
"I don't know." I stopped next to her. "She is cold."
Kimya placed her hand on Tala's forehead. "Her wolf is dying. Tala's body is fighting the separation. She is refusing to let go."
We hurried her down below into the sewers. I felt helpless as Kimya fussed over the small nord's unconscious form. After an hour of just watching I couldn't stand it and made my way up to the city, waiting for the pack's return.
I could tell something was wrong even as they approached from a distance. Vilkas' shoulders were hunched and Farkas was limping.
"Here to meet us, Dov?" Farkas reached for me when he was close enough, but stopped when he saw my face. "What is it?"
"Tala." Vilkas' head snapped up at the sound of her name.
"What is it?" His eyes were filled with fear. "Is she alright?" His voice was beginning to sound panicked.
"She is stable." I placed my hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him. "Kimya thinks her wolf is finally dying and Tala is refusing to let go. She was unconscious when I found her."
The look I saw on Vilkas' face was one of pure shame and disgust. He pulled his shoulder away from me and dropped his gaze so I couldn't see his eyes any more. "I want to see her." He whispered.
"Of course, but she's…" I began.
"I don't care, I need to see her." He hissed, his jaw tight.
I led them through the quiet, sleeping city and through the secret entrance. Aela and Farkas stayed near the entrance while I led Vilkas to Tala's bed.
I could hear his breathing catch in his throat when he saw her. He fell to his knees next to her bed. I could hear quiet sobs as he tucked some of her hair behind her ear and held her hand in his.
"I am so sorry Lass." He rested his head on the edge of the straw mattress. "I am a monster."
I couldn't watch the pain anymore. All the time I had known Vilkas he had been strong, even in his anger, hatred and rage there was strength, always strength. There were none of those things in the broken man that was crouched before this sick girl. I knew I needed to leave him to his agony in peace.
"What happened?" I asked Farkas, who was chewing on a piece of bread when I found him.
"He attacked her." He said between mouthfuls. "While we were in the forest, she was in her nord form and he was in his wolf."
I sighed. "He is really beating himself up for it." I glance back at the hunched nord.
"I did too." Farkas grinned at me, showing the split in his bottom lip.
I rolled my eyes. "You two need to learn to use words."
"Words are for the weak." He jokingly replied.
"Really?" I put my hands on my hips. "I could kill you with three words." I poked him in the side.
He laughed and grabbed for me, pulling my by my hips towards him. "You could end me with two."
"How is your leg?" I looked down, remembering his limp.
"It's sore." He wrapped his arms around me. "But it will be okay." His eyes left mine and his hands released me. I followed his eyes to what he was looking at and found Vilkas standing behind me.
"I need your help, Harbinger." His face was blank, but I recognized his voice. It was the same one that had rattled me in the Underforge the night Kodlak had been killed.
"Of course." I smiled, trying to cheer him up.
"I want to rid myself of my wolf." He stated, his voice was filled with malice. "He has no place in my life now."
I was shocked. "Are you sure?"
I looked at Farkas who only shrugged.
"Alright." I sighed. "But we need to leave before morning. You are supposed to be getting married in three days."
"Aye." He sighed, looking back at Tala.
"She will be alright brother." Farkas clapped him on the back. "Remember when she killed that orc in the Silver Hand's lair?"
Vilkas smiled a little "Aye. She is strong."
"I can't see you liking a girl who isn't." I smiled.
"I love that lass." He breathed. "I don't know what I would do if I lost her."
"You won't." Now I patted his back. "I will help you purify yourself of your beast blood."
"Thank you." He smiled at me.
"Why do I get stuck with wedding planning!?" Farkas whined. "You told me that you didn't want to be apart, and you just got back from your travels…" He was practically begging me not to go without him on his hands and knees.
"Farkas." I rested my hands on his shoulders. "Tala needs someone like you to be here when she wakes back up."
"She needs her to be husband to be here." He said more loudly than needed, glaring at his brother.
I sighed. I loved this man, but sometimes his over protectiveness and since of loyalty drove me mad. "Vilkas needs to do this, he asked for my help and I cannot deny my brother." He looked at me, still pouting. "Besides, you hardly made it past all the spiders last time we went."
He shuddered. His face turned from pouting to total disgust.
"Tala will need her big brother, someone as kind and gentle as you are." I smiled.
He only glared harder at his brother. "Be on your toes, please." His hard eyes turned to mine. "He's not stable and I am afraid of what will happen with the two of you traveling alone."
"I know." I glanced at our half-mad brother and sighed. These twins were becoming more than I could handle. "I will be okay." I returned to smiling at Farkas. "He is faster than you, but not by much and I can always out maneuver you."
His regular grin returned. "That you can." He pulled me into an embrace. "You had better get him back here in time. I don't know what I will do if the wedding gets here and you two aren't back."
"Just don't go standing in for the groom." I chuckled. "I would have to kill Tala, and I don't want to do that."
He laughed and squeezed me tighter. "I love you, Dov."
"I love you too." I tightened my grip around him. I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay with him, to sleep beside him, to feel his warmth ever present in my life. But my brother had asked for my help and with everything this new family had done for me, I couldn't say no.
It was bitterly cold. The warmth that had graced us only days ago was completely gone now, leaving only the maddening cold of Skyrim. We were over halfway to our destination, but I was tired and the look on Vilkas' face told me he would have walked until he dropped dead. It was up to me to make us stop and rest. My teeth were chattering and I was balled up under my blanket, but it was no good. With the frozen earth below me, I wasn't going to be getting any sleep and I would count myself lucky if the morning didn't find me with sore muscles.
"You are cold." I heard Vilkas mutter from across the fire. "It's my fault we are out here." He was huddled under a blanket as well, trying to warm himself.
"If I didn't want to come I wouldn't be here." I grumbled.
I could hear him shuffling around and move closer to where I was. "Here." He mumbled. I felt him drape his blanket over me and lay down behind me. It was an awkward position, I avoided being close to Vilkas he had always intimidated me. His arm was laying over my side and hip, his hand hanging out, trying to avoid touching me. I soon found myself forgetting how uncomfortable I was feeling him press into my back and was grateful for the warmth.
"I know that you get lonely,
And I know that you get cold."
He had begun to sing a song that Torvar often sang in the main hall of Jorrvaskr, it was one we all knew the words to. I had discovered that the inhabitance of Skyrim loved to sing, no matter the occasion. If it was for revelry, battle, sadness, even worship, they always had a song to be offered. Now Vilkas was doing it for comfort. We were both unhappy where we were, nethier of us able to hold the person we loved, but for the moment we had one another to stay warm. We had a family member to comfort us.
"You need some loving arms to draw you near,
You need a hand to hold."
I had begun to join him. I didn't like to sing. I had always thought I didn't have the voice for it. Farkas never asked me to, and I had never found a need to, but right now I was supporting my brother and I would do that in whatever way I could.
"When I come back home, into your arms,
We're going to sing all our favorite songs.
We're going to dance away our lonliness,
And all our troubles will be gone."
We were both singing softly, but the sound was comforting.
"I know you often worry,
About what the future holds.
Don't you worry about tomorrow girl,
You have got to let it all unfold."
Our voices were getting louder, it was nice to feel tied to someone, even if it was only for the moment.
"If I don't come back home, into your arms.
Please know that I love you so.
You're the last thing that I'll think about,
Before I finally had to go.
If I don't come back home, into your arms.
I thank the gods I could call you my own.
You're the last thing that I'll think about,
Before I finally had to go."
It was silent after we finished the song. I could feel myself slipping into sleep.
"Thank you, lass." I heard Vilkas mutter before falling into my dreams.
I finally got around to finishing this chapter! I hope you all are enjoying the last part of Eat You Alive from a different perspective. :) The lyrics are from Aaron Lee Martin "Dance Away Your Loneliness". With a few edits to fit the place and time.