The Kitten and the Wolf
Chapter One-The Wrong Way to Say Hello
Di'kana remembered the day she came to Whiterun as if it were yesterday, though it was indeed many months ago.
It had been gloomy the day she had marched up the road from Riverwood, moving as fast as she could with her bow drawn just in case she ran afoul of wolves or otherwise. She'd survived Helgen, and been asked to tell the Jarl of Whiterun that there was a dragon to worry about... perhaps more than one. It had just began to rain on her as the road pitched downwards along the slope, the falls thundering down next to her and Whiterun appearing in the distance upon it's rocky perch. She was thankful to see it; it was too cold for her Khajiit blood to find any joy in being outside, and her exposed tail was sure to get sodden and freeze in the wind if she stayed out in the rain. With the city in sight as well as guards wearing Whiterun's brand on their shields, she saw fit to put her weapon away and begin a brisk pace for the last leg of this journey.
The walk seemed longer for the rain and the gusting wind. Despite her heavy armor she began alternating between sprinting and walking, only slowing down long enough to get her breath back before digging in again. Thinking over the noise of her armor, she had to wonder what she would do after she'd met with the Jarl. There was no getting out of Skyrim right now, and sadly that's where her family was. She'd ended up in Helgen because she'd gotten separated from them and taken the wrong road in her haste to catch up with them and the rest of the caravan she'd grown up with. The road she'd rushed down, clutching the mountain flowers she'd stopped to gather in the first place, had led her into an ambush on the border that had been waiting for Ulfric Stormcloak. It was unbelievable luck that she, and many others, had escaped execution that day. Perchance not so lucky that it was thanks to a dragon, but she could still boast that her head was attached to her shoulders. She wasn't going to argue. After a week of doing odd jobs in Riverwood, including tracking down some thieves and solving a dispute of lovers, she had decided to move on to Whiterun and do as she'd promised.
She only wished she'd picked a less wet day to travel. She should have smelt the rain on the air and waited one more day. She would have avoided the rain, and the unfortunate accident that happened that day.
Sadly, neither had been avoided, and the accident still haunted her.
Walking and panting for breath, she had come up to the stretch of road that was bordered by farms on either side. It must have been the final stretch; up ahead the road branched and a path to the right led up the mount that the city was built upon. Her nose, though dampened by the rain, could pick up the smell of a stable on the wind. Horses were generally kept close at hand; she was almost there. Getting her breath back and ready to push again, she was about to cut through someone's land to shorten the path when she saw something out of the corner of her eye.
At the other farm, on the left side of the road, there was a fight taking place. Three people, and one giant. The shock of seeing such a creature almost made her jump, but her reaction was instant. Three on one against a giant still wasn't fair odds. She started running, but not towards the city. No, she dashed to join this fight, drawing an ancient Nord battle ax from her back and announcing her presence with a yell. Leaping into the fray, her first swing was an excellent one. Her weapon sank into the giant's leg from behind, those who were already fighting it keeping it's attention faced forward and inflicting plenty of damage on their own.
In her enthusiasm for battle, she yanked her blade free and kept the momentum going by swinging in the opposite direction, turning in a small circle to chop mightily at nearly the same place, just from a different angle.
This had been her accident; her mistake. The fight had been done at the moment of her first swing; she'd actually delivered the killing blow to the already bleeding and tired giant. At her first strike it had begun to collapse without her notice.
By the time she completed her second swing, the giant's face was in the muddy ground. Her ax, on the other hand, had found another target that Di'kana had not intended.
She'd struck one of the people who had originally been fighting the giant. The force of her blow was enough to cut into his armor, knocking him down for a moment. She felt her own knees go weak with the shock of hitting someone she hadn't meant to, an apology coming to mind as her hands automatically yanked the weapon back and to her chest.
Another one of the warriors, a woman with a bow, shouted as the hit connected. "Farkas!" Was her cry of shock; likely the name of the man Di'kana had just hit. Then, without a heartbeat's worth of hesitation, she turned her attention upon Di'kana. "You never shoulda come here..." She said with venom, knocking an arrow and drawing back.
"I-I..." Di'kana stuttered the first words she'd said to anyone for days, putting away her weapon to show that she didn't want to fight. She hadn't meant to hit him; it had been an accident! "This one apologizes..."
"I'll kill you, cat!" The man who'd been struck, Farkas, was on his feet again with a two handed sword flying out for a strike.
Di'kana, before she'd been separated from her family and caravan, had been training as a Khajiit warrior. The first day she'd taken up a sword, she'd been taught two things by her master. One was that any opportunity in battle was a fair one; there was no such thing as a dirty trick when survival was concerned. The other was one she remembered in that moment; there is no shame in escape, particularly if it is a clean one.
She turned and ran, discarding armor as she went to lighten the load in her panic. She'd no plan to fight them, but she knew her greatest advantage would be impossible to use in all of the heavy and noisy things she wore to protect herself. Her helm had gone first, bracers following and quick fingers and talons slicing through straps to get her chest piece off. She didn't care that she had nothing but a rough tunic under it, and that all of her fur was going to get wet now. She cared about avoiding a fight. Many pounds lighter she sprinted for the path that would lead her up to the front gates of Whiterun, somehow managing out of her boots along the way.
Sure that she had left the sight of her pursuers, for they had run after her, she searched for a shadow. A hiding place. Walls rose up around her, leading up to the grand wooden doors that would lead into the city... though two guards had stood before it, looking unwelcoming. Making a sharp turn to the right she found wooden steps that led up to the top of the outer wall. She had taken them up, couched down, and done her best to pretend she wasn't there. From her position she was able to peek down to the path she'd just been on and found those who were chasing her. They were heading right for the doors into the city. Considering the line of sight, her hiding place was pretty poor.
Making a quick decision, she decided to jump down as they passed, pressing to the wall as they went beyond her and she was now behind them. Breathing slowly and silently, her ears were perked to hear anything she could.
"What the...?" The woman asked. "Where did she go? Hey, guard, you see anything?"
"Eh?" Another voice, one of the guards, Di'kana had to assume.
"A Khajiit just ran past here, right?"
"How am I suppose to see anything in this gloom?" The guard asked. "What's wrong, Companions? Was it a thief?"
"Hardly." The woman sounded a little sarcastic, though it also sounded like she was calming down. "Farkas, how bad is it?"
"Pretty good blow, for a cat..." A much rougher voice, though with less anger than last she'd heard it. "I'm alright, Aela... ain't worth runnin' around over."
"Good." A different voice, the other man in the group. "Let's get back then, before you bleed out, pup."
Di'kana still remembered that day, collecting her armor in the rain and putting the muddy pieces of metal back on. She remembered waiting several hours, until the guard shift changed, before attempting to enter the city.
By the time she'd gotten an audience with the Jarl, she'd caught a cold.
Di'kana came back to herself, and her breakfast, and her housecarl, when Lydia gently addressed her by her title. Di'kana sat before the fire in the living room while Lydia had stood up to serve her from the pot of stew hanging over it. Blinking and accepting the bowl, she wondered just how long Lydia had been holding it out before seeing fit to call her mind back to the present. "Sorry." She muttered, leaning her nose over the bowl and finding a smile spreading across her face. Lydia was quite the cook, despite the fact that she likely had a Nord's upbringing. This would have been just the thing back when she had that cold, though the bread at the Bannered Mare had done her well enough that night.
"Is something troubling you?" Lydia asked as she served herself as well, taking another one of the chairs by the fire. It was early, before dawn. Di'kana had hoped that by being up early she'd have more time to muster her courage for what she planned to do, but she only grew more and more conflicted. "You know I'm here for you. I can support you in more ways than keeping your house clean and waving a sword in your name."
"This one is troubled." Di'kana admitted, feeling her ears droop with the thought. She remembered that day so clearly. She hoped the man she'd struck, Farkas, did not. "Today, this one asks to join the Companions."
To seek out some other path besides being the Dragonborn.
"The Companions!" Lydia repeated with respect and surprise. "No doubt you'd be welcome among them; any warrior is. Why are you worried?"
"An accident when this one came to Whiterun may cause disagreement with some of their members..." Di'kana sighed. "There was an apology sent, but this one does not know how it was received."
Di'kana had apologized in a way that only a merchant's daughter would know. She'd paid a child to deliver a package to the man named Farkas, the child had known who he was, that contained not coin but several precious gems. Coin was noisy, and often taken by delivering hands. Gems, however, felt like rocks when wrapped and could be exchanged for coin. She'd also sent a note of formal apology with it, though she realized after she'd sent the package that it was possible that her intended recipient didn't know how to read.
"What did you do?" Lydia asked, somewhat blunt.
"A swing of an ax went a bit too wild, you could say." Di'kana sighed, shaking her head and testing her stew with her tongue before beginning to drink it down, pausing only now and then to chew up the chunks of meat contained in the broth. As always she was done quickly, getting up before Lydia could offer her a chunk of bread to go with it. There was only so long she could put this off; she would just have to go to Jorrvaskr and see for herself how well she would be received. If Farkas or any of his friends were still upset she would gladly take them in a brawl; the people of Skyrim didn't seem to realize that Khajiit were just as dangerous without their weapons, if not more so. "This one will not stall any longer." She announced, leaving her bowl on the table in the corner of the room and going back upstairs to put on her gear for the day.
Lydia, true to her nature, finished eating just as fast to follow on her Thane's heels. "Do you wish me to come with you, Thane?"
"The Companions are warriors." Di'kana answered as she passed into her room, opening the chest against the wall and pulling out several fine pieces of steel and arranging them on her bed before swapping the gown she slept in for a short tunic over her underclothes. "You come and stand with me, it shows my station... such things do not matter to them. If this one is allowed to join them, it shall be as a kitten at the bottom of the heap. This one goes alone, to show acceptance to that fact."
"You mean so I don't get in the way if and when you have to smash someone's face in." Lydia pointed out, taking the nightgown from Di'kana and proceeding to fold it before the Khajiit girl could just shove it into the chest in a clump. "Clawing your way to the top of the pile, as it is."
Di'kana gave pause, just long enough that Lydia finished with the gown and came to yank the tunic down over her head and help her dress in her armor. "Ah... hehe... Yes, that does sound right..." She didn't deny Lydia as the woman moved quickly to strap on and tighten her armor for her. She used to argue with her housecarl, but learned only days after getting her that it was a futile effort. There were just some things Lydia was going to do, regardless of how her Thane felt about someone else dressing her in the morning.
"Do you require any further grooming this morning, Thane?" Lydia asked as she finished, having done everything from breastplate to boots. The only piece that remained the the furs of Di'kana's bed was her helm and her Orcish warhammer.
"No." Di'kana answered quickly. If she let Lydia pull out the hairbrush she'd be here for another hour. The woman wanted to treat her like a pampered house cat for some reason, and whenever the brush came out the hair on her head was just not enough. No; every exposed bit of fur was up for grooming, and her tail always got special attention. Something about how the gray rings looked when she was properly groomed, or something like that. "That will be all, Lydia. Thank you."
Lydia nodded as Di'kana went to strap on her own weapon; the only piece that Lydia wouldn't touch or even ask to touch. With that secure she took her helm, about to put it on when she heard a soft exclamation from her housecarl.
"Hm?" Di'kana turned to find Lydia kneeling in front of the chest where she kept her clothes. She had left the gown on top after she had folded it, and now opened the chest to put the flimsy garment away. Something she'd seen inside had caught her interest though, causing her to reach in and lift the object in question out.
"An amulet of Mara?" Lydia asked, looking up at her Thane. "Why do you have this? Thinking about looking for a partner?"
"This one did some errands for the temple." Di'kana said simply with a shrug. "They gave me that in return. I am... young to be seeking courtship, but saw fit to save it until I am ready."
"You shouldn't let age hold you back." Lydia cautioned. "I don't know how things were for you before, what you were taught with your own kind... but you're living the life of a Nord warrior now. Fighting glorious battle and gaining titles, slaying dragons, traveling... such a life tends to get cut short without warning." Lydia held the amulet out. "Maybe you should just keep it with you. Wear it when you feel ready, but keep it with you to remind yourself... life is short."
Di'kana didn't take it right away, feeling the urge to refuse. She knew life was short. She'd nearly lost hers on the headsman's block. The fact that she was still alive, every second she still had, was a gift from the gods. That life was hers. She didn't have to share it with anyone, and she didn't really want anyone asking her to.
Still... the way Lydia was looking at her... She got the feeling saying no wouldn't have done her much good.
"Very short." She agreed while taking the amulet, putting it on and tucking it under armor. It was impossible to see it that way; no one would even notice it. "Are you... interested?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" Lydia asked while finally putting away the gown and standing up, wearing a small smile. "I already respect and serve you. Marriage would only be a guarantee that you'd keep me around for years to come to continue taking care of you and basking in your glory. In those years, love would just come naturally, wouldn't it?" That smile grew a little. "Plus... oh, you're gonna hate me for saying this, but you really are adorable, like a little kitten."
"This kitten will crack your skull open if you keep talking that nonsense." Di'kana responded dryly, sliding her helm over her face and suppressing the shudder she always got as her ears were folded down against her head. "Warrior first, Khajiit second."
"O-of course..." Lydia looked taken aback by Di'kana's sudden threat, pink spreading over her cheeks as she looked down. "Will you be going now, Thane?"
"Yes." Di'kana turned, her tail raising slightly to make sure it was fitted properly into the groove at the base of her back plate. As always, Lydia had placed it high enough that it would move freely. "This one will return as soon as possible."
"My Thane?" Lydia asked, a sad tremble in her voice. Di'kana stopped, looking back again as she felt a flush go through her; had she done something wrong?
"Need something?" She asked, since Lydia didn't go on right away.
"I know you're... not ready yet, but if you were... would you be interested in me?"
Ah, Lydia had feared she'd been flatly rejected for her comment. Di'kana considered the idea carefully before answering. "You care for me and mind my home. You cook, clean, and raise a blade whenever I ask you to... you are a wonderful woman, Lydia... and though as a kit I may have dreamed of more passionate things, I can say I could see you as a beloved wife. Perhaps even mine, but now is not that time."
"Passionate...?" Lydia sounded both relieved and confused.
"Khajiit are renowned lovers." Di'kana chuckled as she moved again, descending the stairs. "Life is short; why wait for marriage when you can seduce many playthings and choose one later after you've tasted all the fruits? … Or so my swordsmaster used to say."
Di'kana left Lydia standing at the top the the stairs, speechless and crimson at the thought.
The Author's Corner
Hello fanfiction! Loor here, and branching into yet another fandom that's outside my norm. Anyway, this little venture is actually going along with a set of rules. See, over on DeviantArt I'm holding a Fanfiction Contest to wit the rules are you play the game for so many quests writing down EVERYTHING you do and EVERYTHING that happens to you on your journey. No fast travel, and remember to eat and sleep every now and then like a normal human being would. Then, after taking all these notes, you write a story using them at your guideline. The focus of this little contest was character building, world building, and travel writing.
Obviously since I'm holding and judging the contest I cannot enter it myself, but I wanted to try and play by my own rules to see what I could learn from it. So far, I've learned that accidents made early in the game can turn into funny little coincidences. Yeah, the encounter with the giant? I did actually hit Farkas. Total accident. I don't actually remember if there was another Companion there besides Farkas and Aela, but my brain told me three people were chasing me when that happened so three it is.
ANYWAY, following the rules of my own contest, my notes will be posted at the bottom of the last chapter for all to see what I had to work with and how much I improved.
And BTW, if you happen to also be a DeviantArt user the deadline for the contest is March 15th. I am LoorTheDarkElf over on DA and the journal where I talk about this is entitled the Skyrim Fanfiction Contest Masterpost. If you've got the time to give it a go, please do join in!
Legal Stuff: I do not own Skyrim, I am not making a profit off of this work of fiction. It is for entertainment value only. Di'kana, though created within the construct of Skyrim, is of my creation and thus belongs to me. Do not steal. Do not use without permission.