My choice of title reflects a certain bug-bear that I have about this game. I often wonder what might be going on in the minds of our heroes; where they came from, how they feel, who they like… This little fic expresses all of this (I hope) and is my first venture into the world of Skyrim on paper. I hope you like it. Note that I decided to invent a small village of my own, deciding not to care about using accurate names. It shall be called Skagen (A town in Denmark apparently.)
Sigur Ros – Von
Hammock – Like a valley with no Echo
The Faceless Nord
It was a normal day in the small village of Skagen. The sun's rays were just peeking over the mountains, setting the snow that adorned the peaks alight in oranges and gold's. The air is crisp, though not as cold as it could be during Frostfall. The Blacksmith crosses the threshold of his humble home to head out into the morning, making a short detour on his way to the forge to thrust his face into the icy water of the stream. He emerges gasping, sweeping back dun hair from his eyes and taking a moment to catch his breath again, watching the salmon jumping upstream.
Groaning as he gets back up off his knees, he begins his morning tasks of gathering firewood and charcoal to feed the forge. The other inhabitants of the town are perhaps just breaking their fasts- the fire should be hot and roaring by the time they step out to start the day's work.
It is not long before sundown when a traveller stumbles into town, bearing the marks of a hard journey; armour nicked and blood-stained, skin muddied and scratched, and a heavy two-handed iron axe strapped to her back. He only glances up from his work to register her presence with a gruff 'aye'.
As dirty as she is, it is difficult to distinguish her race. The blacksmith shook his head and continued in his blessed monotony, hammering out a sheet of iron, still warm from the forge. He didn't need to bother himself with the trouble of outsiders. He had been an adventurer once himself, and had seen enough to last a few lifetimes, let alone just one.
He did wonder though, what a traveller these days might run into on the road; there had been news of Dragons at Helgen, Kynesgrove, and other places, too. Could Skagen be next?
He snorts to himself.
Dragons? What with the civil war tearing the country apart, these reports of 'sightings' could be rumours spread by the Imperials, to sow seeds of doubt and to plant fear into the hearts of men who would otherwise take up arms for the Stormcloaks and for Skyrim. The blacksmith spat into the forge in disgust. The forge spits and pops in response.
Damn arrogant boot-lickers. All that mattered at the end of the day was the year's harvest, enough food on the table, and enough mead to make everyone merry.
Dragons and the Dragonborn, the Greybeards, the damn Imperials… It didn't matter to him.
She took a room at the inn, supping on grilled leeks and fresh bread washed down with a little mead. She kept to a table by herself.
The blacksmith could now tell, courtesy of a bath and her helmet's removal that she was a fair-haired Nord Woman. She couldn't have seen more than twenty-five winters. So young, travelling this far afield- and alone? He wondered what circumstance had led her here.
Then he shook himself.
Getting involved in the affairs of outsiders again, Idolf, He scolded himself.
His dear late-wife Ingrid would have teased that he was craving the return of his old adventuring days, a desire he had always vehemently denied. An arrow to the knee had seen to the end of those days. Indeed, that turn of events had led him here and to Ingrid. Then he had fallen in love, said his words to the goddess Mara and the rest was history. He had his forge to tend to pass the days following Ingrid's departure from his world; it kept the gold coming in, and thus his belly was always warm and full of mead.
There were others who were not as lucky. He always tried to remind himself of that.
The young stranger was seen wandering the town the day following her arrival. She spent a few hours chopping wood for Helgir at the Mill to earn some coin before making a trip to the apothecary. Martha and Gil were gossiping at the tavern that night that she was probably a mage, and that no good would come of having that sort in town.
He only snorted into his mug of mead, earning him a glance of distaste from the two women. Both women were either too old or jaded to see that she was just an exhausted traveller, seeking rest and respite from the toils of the roads of Skyrim. He had been there himself, after all.
"You think you know it all, Idolf," Gil sneered at him from her bench. "Best watch yourself. She might try and recruit you."
He rolled his eyes, raising his mead mug in salute. "It would be a welcome escape from this rabble."
His response was in jest, of course, though that urge to see things beyond the boundaries of this small holdfast was burning again.
The next morning, as he worked the fires into a glaring frenzy, he saw her cross town again. She was wearing a belted dress that the inn keep had seen fit to lend her. There was little need to wear full armour here, though he noted with approval that she kept an iron short sword belted at her side.
Always good to be prepared.
Noon was soon approaching; the smells coming from the Inn told him that he might be lucky enough to have freshly baked bread for his midday meal. That and a little mead couldn't hurt to wash it down. He had no Stormcloak quotas to fill here, which was both a blessing and a curse; it was getting harder to come by steel and iron, unless you had the coin of course.
He pondered this as he set aside his work to make his way to the Inn, before divulging his worries to Greta the Innkeep as she poured out his mug of mead.
"These things always happen in cycles," She consoled him, sliding his tankard over to him. "I'm sure something will come up." Greta was a good wench, dark-haired for a Nord, fantastic in the kitchen and well able to break up the rare brawl in her mead hall.
"Aye, I hope you're right."
Swigging down the last of his mead and feeling full and content, he ambled back through the square towards his forge, the business of politics and raw materials well out of mind. He resumed his work, fashioning a steel shield for one of the hold's guards, wondering if he would have enough steel left over to make a dagger for Greta.
He turned to find the Nord woman standing quietly under the awning that sheltered his work area, wondering what she could want from him, and indeed how long she had been standing there.
"What can I do for you, Nord?" He noted that she was wearing her armour once more, and that at least she had cleaned it of blood and dirt. The iron bore many nicks and dents in its surface and looked older that her years, a testament to its quality and craftsmanship. Perhaps she had taken it from a defeated enemy, or uncovered it within some unexplored ruin.
"I hear you are low on materials." She stated, voice softly accented, telling of North Skyrim.
Damn Greta and her wagging tongue. Perhaps he should save his steel and make her a gag instead. He conceded with a sigh. "Aye, that I am."
"I scouted an old iron mine not too far North from here. I need some supplies for myself, but I will happily give you what I have left in exchange for the use of your forge."
He considered her for a moment. "That Mine is riddled with bandits. I wouldn't advise you go there." He eyed her battle-axe, wondering if he should be worried for them, not her.
"I am not scared of bandits." She challenged his stare with a level icy gaze from beneath arched brows. "So how about it?"
"Alright, Nord. You bring me Steel and you may use the forge. Be wary though; those bandits have been terrorising that area for a few seasons."
"Keep the forge warm, won't you?"
He had to smirk, watching her march onwards purposefully beneath the timber ramparts and heading north out of town. He loved Skyrim; its mead, its land, and its people; especially its women. They were a breed of their own.
When he rose the next morning he found her already tending to the forge, her arms blackened and her face streaked with charcoal. Atop the work bench sat a stack of steel ingots, enough to make a fine set of armour, as well as some chunks of iron ore. She'd managed to procure a blacksmith's apron from somewhere—perhaps Marta at the Trader—and she was already heating some bars of steel in the forge.
Thanking her gruffly for he didn't quite know what else to say, he resumed his task from the previous day, sitting at the whetstone and sharpening the dull edges of a guard's blade. He glanced over his shoulder periodically to see what she was doing. The Nord female waited until the metal was orange and glowing before laying it out on the anvil and setting to hammering it out. Her blows rang loud and clear.
They worked side by side and in silence for three days—on the second day she had repaired her armour to pristine condition and had fashioned a new sword for herself out of iron. The third day was spent refining her weapons at the whetstone; first her new, but dull-edged sword, her battle-axe, and a dagger that she drew from her boot.
She often worked through meal times, returning to the Inn after sundown and taking a simple supper before leaving again to run errands; hunting, delivering items; chopping more wood. She must be preparing to leave the Blacksmith thought to himself, gathering what coin she could while she had the work.
He asked her once, over a tankard of ale, where she had come from. She only smiled serenely, replying rather cryptically with I come from Skyrim. That is all I know. Again, he felt that itch to know more; why did she journey so far from anywhere, here in the middle of Falkreath Hold? And where was she going?
The next morning she stood waiting at the forge, though this time, she was outfitted in her newly hammered armour. The steel glinted in the dawn light.
"I am leaving for Riverwood." She told him, her voice soft and quiet, softly accented—a fact which made it difficult to pin her to a particular hold.
"Aye? I have a friend there; a Smith named Alvor. You know him?"
She gave a curt nod. "I do. Should I take a message?"
"Only that his friend is well, and hopes one day to share a mug of ale by the fire."
A ghost of a smile softens her mouth. "I will tell him. Thank you for allowing me to use the forge."
"Anythin' to help a fellow Smith- And I thank you for the steel- Keeps a simple village Smith in business a little longer, while the war hasn't reached us yet."
"You had best hope it doesn't." She adjusts her helmet and takes but three steps away from him and towards the main gate before she halts, stopping dead in her tracks. He is about to question her when he hears it for himself.
A thunderous, booming cry shatters the calm of the morning, carried and twisted for miles by the wind and echoed in whispers by the mountains, the silence following afterward suddenly too heavy. Idolf's heart thudded in his chest, as he waited with bated-breath. What in the name of Talos was that?
Then it came again, this time sharper; closer. A shadow passed overhead, moving impossibly fast. All around guards were shouting to one another, villagers rushing out into the square or hurrying away to find refuge, all crying out the same word.
He could only open his mouth in wonder as it reeled around once more, long serpentine neck stretching this way and that as if it were searching the ground, picking out a likely target. Scales glinted in the sunlight, sapphire and jet, chest plumes iridescent like pearl.
The Young Nord woman set an arrow into her bow, raising it to the skies and waiting. The dragon's flight spiral was tightening, getting lower and lower….
The beast shrieked, altering its trajectory in a split second, swooping downward and opening its terrible jaws to emit a blast of icy breath. Folk nearby had sense enough to dive out of the way, though it drifted low enough for her to let loose a few arrows before it began its ascent once more.
"Idolf! Get these people out of here—tell them to hide in their cellars!" She was shouting orders to him, and he found he was compelled to obey, herding Greta and anyone he could convince to get back inside their homes. At least this dragon did not breathe fire; their humble timber houses with their thatched rooftops would take only minutes to burn down to the ground.
As more oak doors were slammed closed, the square now empty save for the few brave guards and of course the faceless Nord, the dragon came thundering down to earth, gleaming ebony claws leaving deep tracks in the dirt. The ground shook at the impact. Few seemed brave enough to move forward to face it, yet the fair Nord seemed to have no qualms. The dragon's breath did not seem to harm her—rather it seemed to roll off her armour as water would— and gleaming jagged teeth set in jaws powerful enough to crush bone only dented the newly hammered steel plating of her armour. Not once did she tarry in her onslaught, favouring her battle-axe rather than her bow.
Empowered, he too leapt forward, heavy steel mace in hand. He managed to land a few blows to the beast's flanks, only to get knocked back by a vicious whip from its scaly black tail. The barbs cut deep into the flesh of his thigh and groin, deep enough to leave him where he fell.
The beast took flight again, wings beating and thrashing at the air to gain altitude. The force kicked up dust, leaving the guards coughing and spluttering as they tried to maintain their offence. The Nord reverted to her bow once more, notching and releasing arrows with impressive accuracy.
One arrow tore through the membranous structure of its wings at such an angle to offset its trajectory; It was falling, able to slow itself down only a little before it thundered to earth once more.
She could sense the Dragon was weakening; its scaly hide was peppered with arrows, and its wings had torn in several places. Even if it were to survive, it may never fly again. She was aware of the guards in her peripheral vision; they were hesitating. Many of them would not have trusted in the rumours of dragons before now, let alone know how to fight one. They raised their bows once more, though she lifted her arm to halt them. This dragon was done, no mistake. But it would be she who would send it back to Oblivion.
She unsheathed her sword and held it aloft with the point facing toward the ground, fingers interlocked around the hilt. The creature seemed to know its time was done and as if grateful for the chance to be granted a swift death, it lowered its great serpentine head to the dirt, slitted nostrils flaring and closing in rapid succession.
The downward thrust of the blade punctured the skull, the point exiting through the base of its mouth. Black fluid stained the steel and spattered up onto her boots.
She felt the world shift.
In that moment, she was the dragon; she could feel the buffeting air currents beneath wings stretched taught, wheeling across the crisp Skyrim skies and over powdery white mountains and tiny specks on the ground that were cities, towns and villages; the sprawling black mass of forests; the meandering dark curves of Skyrim's many rivers…
In a time frame so small she could not measure it, she knew all that the dragon knew; she had seen all that it had seen.
… Nithonax. That was her name… Her words echoed in the Nord's mind, each syllable surging with a power untamed… Fus… Rho…Dah… Such meaningless syllables, yet her understanding surpassed that of the many who had devoted their lives to study the tongue of Dragons.
There was a sudden rushing sound— the Nordic winds of winter whistling through the valleys; winter storms battering houses made of timer— then scales as black as night began to glow brighter than a freshly fed forge. Ethereal light swirled about them, giving substance to the otherwise unseen force. The glowing wisps of light coalesced around the young woman, and for a moment her skin was made of gold, her hair spun silk, and her armour was not hammered steel, but quicksilver.
Idolf watched her with wide eyes, no longer feeling the pain in his wounds.
She was Dragonborn.
The essence seemed to fill her, burden her, and finally overwhelm her, bringing her to her knees, barely able to hold on to the hilt of her sword.
Where once had been a terrible beast of black, sapphire and moonlight scales, now only bleached white bones remained. He had watched the flesh burn from them, reduced to ash borne away by a stiff Frostfall wind. The dragon was no more of this world, though the sword that had killed it still lay embedded in its skull. The wielder did not seem to possess the strength to remove it, or indeed move at all.
Wincing with each step, he made his way over to her side.
"Can you stand, Nord?" He laid a hand on her shoulder; the steel of her armour was like a block of ice, her skin no warmer.
"Yol." Her voice barely reached a whisper, yet the word she uttered surged with power; he felt warmth burgeoning beneath her skin, before the very ground they stood on became alight with fire. He almost cried out, but then realised the fire would not harm them. "I'm not ready… for this…"
Glacial blue eyes remained hollow, rosy lips parted slightly.
"Idolf… I'm… sorry."
She slipped to one side, landing with a metallic thud as the heavy metal of her armour met stone. The fire and warmth was suddenly gone, leading him to suddenly wonder if Frostfall had always felt so cold. The young Nord had fainted at his feet, though all the guards could do was gawk at her motionless form, whispering to one another.
… She took its power… she shouted, I heard her shout!.. She must be a mage, I saw her use magic!
"Quit your lollygaggin' and shut your flapping mouths!" He barked, and for once he realised just how much weight he must carry in this small town for all the onlookers to stop and listen to him. "We can't have the imperials, or anyone else for that matter come lookin' for the— for this mage, and causing trouble for us. We keep this to ourselves, understand?"
"But what do we do with her?" One of the guards was peering down his nose at her motionless figure, as if she were just some trash to be disposed of.
"I will get her back on her feet. She said she was headed toward Riverwood. I imagine she'll be keen to get goin'."
Crouching to the ground was uncomfortable to say the least, and she weighed more than she should on account of the damn steel armour. Fumbling fingers still shaking from the ordeal managed to loosen the leather bindings at the shoulders and up the sides, releasing the metal plating and making his load more bearable.
He could hear the guards snickering; something about undressing her before she was even inside his house. No matter. He would let them gossip all they wanted. But if they started flapping their lips about what had happened and someone—someone powerful, The Imperials, or worse, the Thalmor— realised the truth... Talos knows whose hands she could end up in.
He didn't want that for her.
She slept for the rest of the day and well into the night. He passed some of the time outside, re-hammering out the newly acquired dents in her armour. Greta had stopped by, to drop off a hot meal and some medicine from the town's only alchemist but, other than that he remained relatively undisturbed. Perhaps the sight of the fire had made them think her a mage rather than what he knew her to be…
He had read about them in the great library of Winterhold; He had seen stone epitaphs on the walls of tombs and had once made the journey to the Greybeard's sanctuary, at the peak of the Mouth of the World. She was Dragonborn, the first in over a century, able to absorb a dragon's power and master the Voice, to speak in the tongue of dragons…
Ulfric Stormcloak was proclaimed to have Shouted High King Torryg apart, but he certainly hadn't slain any dragons…
She stirred in her sleep, tossing and turning beneath the furs. He had placed her in his own bed, dragging it close by to the fire. A cold Northern wind was now blowing through Skagen, unhindered across the Falkreath planes. Pressing a rough palm to her forehead found it clammy, and at his touch she whimpered a little.
"May the Nine watch over you, Dragonborn…"
He rolled out a sleeping sac before the fire and lay down, all the while listening for her fevered cries over the whistling of the Northern winds through the cracks in the timber.
He dreamed of black wings silhouetted against a full amber moon, and bare heated skin that set him afire when he reached out to touch it.
His slumber was fitful at its best. He woke on the morrow with sweat on his brow, blankets tangled around his limbs. He extracted himself with difficultly; his wounds hadn't hurt this much in the immediate aftermath of his encounter with the dragon. No doubt there would be bruising. He should probably get a poultice to prevent it from festering.
The air was very still outside, and a biting draught was coming in from the vents. Sure enough, when he opened the door to the dawn, the town was sprinkled with snow; not enough to last the day most likely, though it seemed Frostfall had well and truly settled on Skagen. It served as a reminder to him of how much time had passed since he arrived here, what with yet another winter setting in.
He turned to appraise the interior of his small home, grey dawn light leaking into the gloom. The Dragonborn slept on, pale face cast with a dull glow from the dying embers of last night's fire. She was colourless against the snow-white furs and bleached wood of his bed frame.
He'd read a poem once, some typical Nord lore about a fair maiden he imagined to look exactly as she did. How did it go?
So fair, so cold; like morning of pale spring still clinging to winter's chill.
Fair in colour but not in temper, he recalled with a soft laugh. Not two nights ago she had had to deliver a rather forceful rebuttal to Mikhael, a rather head-strong and presumptuous young bard. To his credit, he didn't try his luck with her again. He had heard men speak of women as though they were wild beasts to be tamed, lands to be conquered or delicacies to be savoured. He had seen men crumble at a fair maid's feet, promising her the world, revering her above all in Tamriel and the Nine themselves.
Idolf was not one of these men. He may have been accused of being distant at times, but those were in the early days following Ingrid's death. Several winters had passed since then, all without event.
Until this one.
She woke eventually in the evening, glacial blue eyes bright in the firelight. "Where am I?" She called out immediately, perhaps not noticing him right away, sat in the corner outside the flame's influence.
"You're in my house. You passed out after taking the dragon's power." He approaches her slowly, standing a respectful distance away with broad arms crossed over his chest. No need to startle a woman who could burn down his house with one carefully chosen word.
"Idolf?" She relaxes a little upon recognising his face, though she doesn't quite let her guard down, pupils dancing as she appraised the room. Exits, weapons…
"I know what you are, Nord. But If I wanted to hurt you I would have done it by now. You are safe here."
"What am I, Idolf. Say it." She challenged him, glaring openly into his face.
"You're… Dragonborn." It felt dangerous to utter it, even in the relatively safe confines of his own home.
"So it would seem. Though I'm not really sure what it means." She sighs heavily, slipping her legs out from within the furs and placing her bare feet to the stone floor. She noticed then that she wore an oversized brown shirt—Idolf's –so large it slipped from one shoulder and almost reached her knees.
"You knew already?"
"That's why I was going to Riverwood. Someone there said… they could help me."
"Help you? You don't have a disease Nord, you—"
"Mara have mercy-I have a name!" She cried suddenly, clenching her fists and standing to square up to him. The top of her head only barely surpassed his shoulders, though he suddenly saw why she had no fear of bandits, or even dragons for that matter. A fire burned within her; one that could not be quenched.
"Then what is it?" He asked softly, unfolding his arms and letting them rest at his sides. "I can't call you what I don't know."
"Frida. My name is Frida."
He showed Frida where she could bathe in privacy, a short walk out of town. Falkreath Hold had its fair share of hot springs that the townsfolk put to good use. Before leaving her there, he presented her with some clothes; an old shirt and lace-up riding leggings that had belonged to Ingrid. She took them without question, though she glanced back once at detecting the scent of lavender on the fabric. The Blacksmith's home smelled of dry wood and of iron filings.
Idolf returned to town at a slow pace, peering up at the star-dusted heavens. The skies were clear and silent—thank Talos—and although the snow had melted during the day, the cold spell had not lifted.
She returned from the hot springs over an hour later pink and gleaming, carrying the clothes he had given her, still wearing Idolf's oversized tunic and her own riding leggings. He had seated himself at his scrubbed oak table, squinting into a polished silver plate and holding a dagger to his face.
"What are you doing?" She asked, clearly amused as he struggled to even make out his visage in the uneven metal surface.
"What does it look like, woman, I'm tryin' to remember what my own face looks like, and get rid of this damned beard." He turned his face this way and that, assessing his jaw line before raising the blade.
"Here, let me help. You're going to end up slitting your own throat without using some form of soap."
"I made some down at the hot springs—Don't turn your nose up—its water mixed with crushed elves' ear and mountain flower. It forms a kind of foam."
Reluctantly he surrendered his dagger to her, tilting back his head slightly to allow her better access. Soft fingers smoothed a still-warm paste onto his skin. His beard was definitely getting too much to handle but he wondered if this was such a good idea, letting her come so close with a dagger in her hand.
She crouched so their faces were level, intent on her task. He had to agree that the paste lessened the irritation, for the blade seemed to glide over his skin easily. She wiped the blade clean on a rag after each stroke, before continuing. Periodically she would reach out to manoeuvre him into a better position, turning his shoulders or his jaw with firm fingers. It felt good to feel the air on his face once again, though perhaps he would regret shaving it off once the winter had fully settled in.
It was difficult to concentrate on not staring right into her face, with her being so close. He could smell her skin; had she used nightshade in her hair, or perhaps Dragon's tongue? Such scents he could smell on her skin!
Crouched so near, her eyes seemed to give off a light their own, stark and pale against her fire-lit skin. He could feel the heat radiating from her body as she leaned in close, thigh pressing into his.
He released a breath he didn't know he had been holding. "Frida..." She paused in wiping the blade clean, one perfect shoulder half-revealed by a slipped hem; the shirt was far too large, dwarfing her frame. Why had she chosen to wear it instead of what he had given her?
"You were married once, weren't you?" She recalled the scent of lavender, as well as the rough writing on the note still in the pocket of the shirt; it had fallen out when she had shook out the garment, fluttering to the grass at her feet. It said simply, Ingrid, my sun and stars, good hunting. Perhaps she had last worn these on a hunting trip; her last hunting trip.
"Yes," Some clarity returned at the mention of his wife. "Ingrid was a good woman."
"Where is she?" Frida didn't wince as others might have, pale eyes penetrating his exterior with icy precision. She knew…
"She… Ingrid was… stubborn. She thought she could do everything herself, that she was stronger than most… one winter, she went out hunting and… and she never returned. Her horse came back to town without her. That was five winter's past, now."
"Idolf." Cool, strong fingers touched his jaw gently. He'd forgotten what it felt like, to have a woman touch him like that… "I'm sorry."
"Frida…" The fire popped and crackled in the hearth, yet the cool of her stare chilled him from within.
She recoiled from him. "I can tell you are an honourable man, Idolf. I… I shouldn't stay here. I should stay at the inn- Greta will have a room for me- then in the morrow I can be off to Riverwood."
He glanced down at the bare wooden floor, suddenly ashamed. "Aye, that would probably be best."
She rose early, a few hours before the dawn. The fire pit in the inn had burned right down to glowering embers, and none save her stirred at such an early hour.
She stretched out her aching muscles, using the aid of the burned down candle stubs to locate her few gathered belongings before dressing and stepping out of the inn, leaving a few gold pieces on the bar top as recompense for the extra-hospitality she had received. In spite of the early hour Idolf's forge was lit; he stood by it, newly-bared face illuminated by the fanned embers. She noted that a horse stamped its hooves impatiently, tethered to the post nearby.
She couldn't slip out of town without saying goodbye, at least.
"You are up earlier than usual," She remarks softly, conscious of the silence of the birds, not yet awakened by the dawn.
"I wanted to give you something," He jerked his head toward the horse, stepping around her and untying the reins from the post. "This is Safi, Ingrid's horse. She's a tough girl, but she's been cooped up in that stable too long. She needs to feel the earth of Skyrim beneath her hooves."
"May she bear you to better fortune that her last rider."
"Idolf." Frida tore off her steel-plated glove, grasping the blacksmith firmly behind his neck and stepping into his warmth. There was a faint trace of charcoal on his cheeks. His steely gaze swept over her face, before softening. Her lips met his as the first rays of the sun leaked over the mountain tops to the east. "This isn't goodbye," she whispered against his mouth, their breath mingling, becoming a mist in the cold.
They stumble back towards his house, closing the door after them by falling against it. His hands fumble to remove armour and plating, lips following the trail of bared flesh. Her rear meets the solid wood of his table, and he hoists her up and onto its surface, taking her hard and without consideration for the integrity of the object afterwards. Plates and various implements are knocked to the ground; the table complained at the burden and strain of its load through a series of creaks and groans. She explores the broad muscles of his back with her fingertips, massaging and scraping with tooth and nail, marking the white skin with red welts. His face still feels smooth, buried in her neck, tongue and teeth caressing and nipping at her flesh.
Her body is touched, tasted and trapped beneath him, his solid weight, and she feels just as any other woman must feel when lying with a man. Human, normal.
She cries his name on her climax, clamping her mouth around his earlobe, knees squeezing his torso. His movements reach a final desperate peak before he shudders between her thighs, groaning into her neck, rough hands gripping her hips in a vice.
They are momentarily still. The horse whickered outside, obviously still waiting patiently for its promised rider.
He lets her down, her feet meeting the cool floor on trembling limbs. Silently he collects her clothing, carefully re-dressing her and refitting her armour. His final touch to complete her ensemble is to press his lips to her forehead, his deep exhale ruffling her hair and temporarily warming her face. He pulls away, expression considerably less bereft than it had been the previous night.
"Do you think me less honourable now?" He asks, bringing her palm to his face, kissing each digit tenderly. She watches him, barely containing her fascination. The nine worked in mysterious ways.
"How could I?" She laughs, eyes scanning his face and committing each blemish, wrinkle and feature to memory.
"Still, you should know this; next we meet, I will march you to the nearest priest. So come back at your peril."
She laughs again, surprised at hearing the sound from her lips. "So I have a choice, at least. Unless it's a trap—I will need to return the horse eventually."
It is his turn to chuckle. "You always have a choice." His gaze is loaded and she understands, feels the same indecision within her. Yet she had to go. She needed answers. His shoulders sag, because he knows this; He couldn't stop he just as he couldn't stop Ingrid.
"Safi is waiting." He nods, adjusting his belt before stepping out into the morning. The dawn has taken over Skagen during their brief interlude indoors, and in the light she can tell that the horse is a silver.
Hauling herself into the saddle felt like the hardest thing in the world. Yet as she dug in her heels she realised that in fact, the hardest part of her journey had not yet begun.
Golden dawn light rolled over the open Falkreath plains, stretched out before her in all its misty morning glory. She only looked back once, the Blacksmith still stood motionless at the town gates, watching her ride away on his dead wife's horse.
The sense of foreboding within her at what was to come, the trials that she may have to face grew exponentially as she put leagues between herself and Skagen, bearing East towards Riverwood.
Not the happiest bunny with the ending, but it's been sat here for weeks waiting for me to finish it. Maybe one day it will get a rewrite. Let me know what you thought.