Chapter One: Meeting at Dragonreach
Lydia was excited, for the first time since she first took on her duties as protector of Dragonreach. She had polished and shined her armour three times that morning alone, something unheard of for Lydia, who wore her tempered plate armour with pride. But she wanted to look the part today, for today she took on the duties of Housecarl for the first time. Finally she would have a Thane. But not just any thane, Irileth had let slip that the man she is to protect could be Dragonborn, a legend amongst the Nords. Although she did tell her not to get her hopes as well, whatever that meant.
But the Dragonborn! Lydia had heard that not two days ago, just outside the city, the Dragonborn and Irileth had slain a dragon. How lucky she felt, to be granted a Thane such as this. In her head she pictured a muscle-bound Nord, with a ferocious war cry and huge battle-axe, or a Redguard, skilful and elegant with a blade. Or perhaps something more exotic like a magic wielding Elf or a sneaky Khajit. The possibilities were endless, even though she knew she was being unrealistic she couldn't help but let her imagination run wild.
Lydia stood by the entrance to Dragonreach, allowing her mind to conjure up these images before noticing the Jarl approach. Balgruuf approached casually as Lydia stood up straight, showing off her gleaming armour and holding back her glee behind a stern face.
"Stand down Lydia, You're not on show here."
"Yes Jarl Balgruuf."
Lydia tried to relax but formality demanded a straight back and a stern face, whether the Jarl was comfortable with it or not.
"He's late." The Jarl commented "Hope he hasn't left for High Hrothgar without informing us."
Lydia felt a pang of dread behind her emotionless face, this was the Dragonborn after all. He probably didn't want some local warrior following him around, hell he probably didn't need it. He might think that a Housecarl would be more than a burden than a blessing. But no, she was not a burden. Lydia trained hard and knew she could do her job well, if he was willing to let her prove it. Just as the thought entered her mind the doors to Dragonreach opened ever so slightly and a skinny looking Imperial man entered the main hall. He didn't look like he had an ounce of muscle on his body and to exaggerate this he wore quite tight fitting leather armour, showing of his skinny physique. And an Imperial? This surely couldn't be the Dragonborn, Imperials are so...bland. Despite this he approached quickly, and awkwardly, towards the Jarl and shook his hand.
He just doesn't seem like Skyrim material Lydia thought to herself.
The only hint that this Imperial was a warrior was the quiver and bow on his back, and the small scar below his eye. Although there was a million ways to get a scar like that in Skyrim, such as working on a farm.
"Jarl-" The Imperial man said warmly
"Ahhh the Dragonborn graces us with his presence" The Jarl slapped the Imperial on the shoulder, it almost made him topple over.
"Sorry I'm a bit late." The Imperial turned towards Lydia "Was haggling down in the market for a few things."
Haggling? Lydia thought to herself The Dragonborn...Haggles? And is he addressing me? A subordinate?
"I think you have earned the right to be a few minutes late. But come, this is not why I have invited you here." The Jarl grabbed the skinny Imperial by the shoulders and turned him to face Lydia directly. "As Thane of Whiterun you have your own Housecarl to protect you and all things you own. She's going to look after your sorry hide."
"Honour to you my Thane." Lydia belted in the Dragonborns direction.
"Meet your new Housecarl. Lydia Battle-born. She could kill a man three times her size with a fork. She's my best and I hope she will serve you well."
"Oh-um...Hello." The Imperial responded rather shyly. "My name is Lucas, Lucas Stryke."
Lucas? This man must be good with a bow because he hardly inspires me with a sense of awe.
The Jarl simply chuckled at Lucas's shy and sheepish demeanour. This Lucas was obviously born to a common family, the whole idea of having authority seemed alien to him and having a Housecarl seemed to both scare and confuse him.
"So when will the mighty Dragonborn be leaving for High Hrothgar?" The Jarl continued
"After Breakfast" Lucas replied "Before noon. Rorikstead is a bit of a walk so I really should have left earlier but...I was up late."
"So I heard. Buying my guards drinks no less."
"Ah yeah sorry about that."
The two men laughed whilst Lydia stood there silently. Before long the Jarl remembered the point of the meeting and turned the conversation back towards Lydia.
"Will you be taking your new Housecarl with you? A bit of company never hurts does it? Neither does an extra sword between you and the Dragons."
Lydia didn't say anything, but she noticed Lucas hesitate right away. He seemed very uncomfortable with the idea. Lydia had been worried that the Dragonborn might think her to weak to bring along, but now she was worried he was intimidated by her. How could this happen?
"I don't know" Lucas replied "I'm sure she is capable but I'm used to working alone."
"You think she will slow you down?" The Jarl questioned
Lydia kept her stern face but behind it she couldn't help but think she was probably faster, fitter and healthier than the Dragonborn, and it would be in fact he who slowed her down.
"No not at all." Lucas protested addressing Lydia awkwardly once more "It's just-"
"It's just you're uncomfortable with having a servant?" The Jarl interjected
"Okay you caught me, poor boy here. She'd..." Lucas stopped himself looked down and turned to Lydia, he didn't seem to like to talk about her as if she wasn't there. He really hadn't had a servant before. "You'd be my first eh...servant, Housecarl...thing. To be honest, I wouldn't know what to do with you."
"I will follow your orders my Thane." Lydia commented.
The Jarl smiled to himself before placing a hand on Lucas's shoulder.
"Don't think of her as a servant. Think of her as a companion, a combat efficient companion who can help you on your journeys. Now you may not need help killing things, I heard that much from Irileth. But she can carry extra supplies, help build campsites twice as fast, a man and a woman always looks better when entering a village..."
"You're right! And she is a Nord!" Lucas said with glee.
"Uh yes she is...so?"
"Sorry, it's just where ever I go I get bloody awful you're not from around here stares. If she comes with me people won't automatically think I'm out to steal their babies and ravish their women."
"Well yes I suppose." The Jarl said scratching his chin "You really get that?"
"hmm? Of course, I'm an Imperial. Everybody hates Imperials." Lucas said with a smile "Until you get to know us."
The Jarl laughed "Then its settled."
"Yes. Lydia could you meet me by the main gates in hour? I'll need to get you supplies and-"
"I can bring my own supplies my Thane."
"Oh...right I see." Lucas said sheepishly "Well okay then half an hour?"
"Of course my Thane. Right away."
With that Lydia turned away from the conversation. She was travelling with the Dragonborn, the Dragonborn! But now she wished she had listened to Irileth, her hopes had just been washed away.