A/N: SURPRISE! I'm back! LONG LIVE THE REQUEST YEARS!
And HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I had to write something fresh and funny to make up for all the sadness and death in the world lately. I also happened upon Rorikstead in my travels-geez, always finding new stuff in this game!-and BOY OH BOY did I meet a certain Npc that I couldn't stand. How dare he do such things to his daughters!
I think this chapter illustrates my response quite nicely.
Grins and laughter incoming!
Enjoy the interlude!
Its all kinds of silly with a bit of seriousness, and I hope it makes you smile!
"Tried and true, there."
...but then again, I like that about you."
Heart for the Helpless (Interlude)
"All of my hate, Naruto. You have it."
"Aw, I love you too, Izzy!"
Isabelle grit her teeth and hissed out another angry breath as she turned the map end over end in her hands, all the while trying not to strangle a certain blond and desperately seeking a solution to their problem. A solution that, until a few days ago, had seemed within throwing distance. A solution she'd been forced to buy off some shady dealer after walking into the ass end of nowhere and subsequently getting lost. Lost! She hadn't thought it possible to get so turned around in the first place and had let her guard down-more fool she for that!
Naruto for his part, simply laughed at her ire and slapped her on the back.
"Hey, its just a detour! I take them all the time!"
"Well, I don't!"
"I liked you better when I couldn't understand you." she sulked.
"Aw. That hurts my feelings. All one of them. Back to work!"
Gathering herself up, the Dragonborn shot him her most lethal, withering glare, only to watch him shrug and return to his task. Her all-consuming fury was, alas, lessened somewhat thanks to his height. That and the fact that the time-flung shinobi seemed far more intent on working the field than paying any real attention to her. He seemed to be making relatively quick work of the task at that, tilling the soil with a patience and skill she hadn't known him to possess. It would've been comical if she were not so furious with him. By rights, she should've given up and left him to it, been done with him long ago. After all, he was absolutely infuriating and she couldn't stand him.
Alas, in Skyrim, things were seldom simple.
After breaking and-somewhat-repairing the Staff of Magnus, Isabelle had almost dared to believe that her adventures in Winterhold were finally over. They'd return to the College, finish things with Ancano and leave for good, putting the ill-discovered matter of her mother far, far behind them. Not so. Instead, she'd made the fool mistake of trusting Naruto's "gut" and gotten hopelessly lost. After being chased by a pack of wolves. And blood mages. And another dragon. In that order. She'd nearly lost her life to the fell beast and well would have if not for her armor. Of course, said armor lay in ruins and now she had to wear this blasted dress until the smith made repairs. She felt naked without her armor. Exposed.
Thanks to him!
Because, Divines be damned, their misadventures had landed them in Rorikstead.
And of course, Naruto being Naruto, he'd taken an interest in the humble homestead. Not just in fortifying it against dragons and bandits, but the plight of two little girls who dwelt here. They'd spent nearly three days here now, and for what? Mending armor, repairing staves, building walls. All because of-
As if summoned by that very thought, a small hand tugged on the hem of Isabelle's dress, questing for attention.
Isabelle's head nearly slammed into the table.
Stubbornly stifling the sudden rush of heat to her cheeks, the Dragonborn brushed a hand of dark hair from her eyes and turned to face the interloper. She wasn't surprised to find herself gazing down at a young girl at the tender age of ten, her wide dark eyes peering up at her imploringly. Her heart gave an awful lurch. Oh, this one was good. Very, very good. She was going to be awfully clever in the future if she ever mastered that look. Men would lay blades at her feet and kingdoms low, should she ever figure it out.
But for now, she was still very much a lass, and Isabelle refused to be swayed by her. Or so she told herself.
"I already told you, Britte, I am not your moth-oh, forget it." She'd tried this argument three times already today, and the little girl didn't seem inclined to listen. "What is it?"
By way of answerment, Britte offered her a bushel of lavender.
"Here." she replied timidly. "I...I picked these for you."
Isabelle felt her resistance begin to crumble.
"And why, pray tell, did you pick them?" she put on a disaffected air.
...you said purple was your favorite. And...
"And?" Isabelle blinked, confused. "Why aren't your off galavanting off with Naruto?"
"'Cuz they smell like you." Britte confessed. "And besides, I like you better. You can do magic."
That did it.
Her heart melted.
You'd have to have a heart of stone not to feel anything after that display.
"Oh," the Dragonborn cooed, sweeping the young girl into her arms with a squeal. "Come here, you sweet, precious thing! If you wanted lessons, you just had to ask!"
Britte's face lit.
In terms of appearance, Brittle looked much like her twin, Sissel, but for the fact that she liked to wear greens, while her sister favored red. Britte was curious about magic and seemed to have some manner of aptitude for it, while her sibling wanted nothing more than to be an adventurer when she grew older. There were other ways to tell them apart of course, you just had to look...
...just as Isabelle had.
They were both a pretty pair to be certain; fair, blue-eyed lasses with wild dark hair, a sweet demeanor, and not a mean bone in their wee bodies. Mischievous, too, as Isabelle had learned the hard way-for verily they seemed to delight in playing all sorts of pranks on anyone in arms reach. Anyone could see they were just trying to get attention-no matter how negative this might prove. They were clearly lonely without their mother and perhaps that was why they seemed to eager to cling to her and Naruto. The blond was all too happy to give them the attention they craved and for all her protests, Isabelle wasn't much better.
For the girl's father, Lemkil, well...he was another matter entirely.
He was the reason they hadn't put Rorikstead behind them.
He was the reason they were still stuck in this blasted little town.
He was the reason Isabelle was honestly contemplating coldblooded murder.
Now, to be fair, she considered herself a tolerant person.
After all, here she was, teaching a little girl how to shoot fire from her fingertips.
She liked to think she'd matured a bit since the outset of all this.
Ever since that ill-fated misadventure on the border and the disaster that followed in Helgen the Nord had suffered through much. She liked to think she'd come out of a more patient sort, bearing her own share of scars with dignity and pride. She was not prone to fits of anger or dismay She'd run all sorts of errands, bartered with good people, and traded with and stupid people. She had learned patience, but more than that, she'd had to learn charisma. Her silver tongue could convince all but the most hardened individuals, good or ill, that she was in the right. Lemkil was neither of those. He was worse. Utterly. Rotten.
In his heart of hearts he was simply a bitter, wretched, cruel and mean-spirited individual; rotten to the core.
She wanted to disembowel him and rip his bloody guts out.
Because the man was abusing his daughters.
Beating them, hurting them every day.
She knew the signs.
She'd seen them.
She saw it in their haunted looks whenever their father drew near, those slight flinch when he started drinking, which proved far more often than the Dragonborn would have liked. The way they cringed when he hurled vitriolic abuse at them, never arguing with him, never meeting his eyes, seeming to shrink behind cover until the storm passed. Perhaps that was why they'd taken a liking to Naruto-of course, that lovable bastard just HAD to be good with children now didn't he?-and he them. Perhaps that was why the Dragonbane never quite let them out of his sight or strayed too far when the old drunkard flew into a fit. Presently he'd given them each a septim and from there, they'd been inseparable.
It was...well, cute, if she was entirely honest with herself.
Isabelle didn't mind them; her own twin having perished in childbirth, she found she rather envied them the sibling rivalry they possessed. That wasn't the problem. It was Naruto's blatant interest that she took issue with. He seemed to take it upon himself to right every wrong he encountered, and, while she couldn't fault him for it, she knew disaster when she saw one. The whole situation felt like a bad spell, one that could blow up in her face at any moment. Time and time again Naruto had offered to simply pay the girls' way and take them off their father's hands, only for the nasty little skeever to refuse him endlessly.
Naruto wasn't taking no for an answer.
Well, he did claim to some kind of ninja, after all.
She had seen that gleam in his eye once before already.
They were caged little birds, and Naruto had his heart set on freeing them.
By the nine, at this rate she was probably going to end up helping before the day was done.
Cursing softly to herself, she viciously reaffirmed that this was the absolute last time she allowed the Dragonbane to lead the way. Never again! Not now, not then, not ever again! She didn't know where he'd gotten this daedra-cursed lack of direction, but this was ridiculous! How did one go west when they were meant to go east? South instead of North? Up, rather than down? T'was an absolute madness! Maybe he really had offended a daedra of some sort and gotten himself cursed. Chaos seemed to follow him wherever he went, either in his steps, the trouble he attracted, or merely the mischief he made.
Spirits, was he up to mischief now!
A booming roar jerked her away from her lessons with Britte, just in time to witness the power of Naruto's shout rend the air. For a fleeting moment she glimpsed Sissel perched on his shoulder, holding on for dear life and loving every minute of it as the wind picked up. Then the world decided it'd had enough and began to shake. Clouds gathered overhead, swirling, summoned by the blond's powerful voice. Naruto barked again and streaks of lightning arced between them, bringing on rains, dancing wildly with passion and power as his hands waved, weaving currents of wind chakra into the mix.
In an instant, the field he'd been tilling found itself drenched, dozens of plants showered with a healthy downpour.
It was powerful display, reined in with the most masterful of control, yet something in it made her blood sing.
She'd felt the power in his voice and it had...spoken to her in a way she couldn't understand.
Of course, that only compounded what came next.
"Ha!" the blond crowed aloud, observing his handiwork. "And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make a storm! See? Instant watering. No need for chores. Beats using a watering can, eh? I'm still trying to figure out how to make it rain ramen, but hey, its a start!
Sissel giggled, but her reply was caught up in the resultant thunder that followed. Not from the heavens, but the earth.
More aptly, her now very wet and very angry father who'd made the mistake of being caught in the fields during Naruto's summoned storm. Judging by the bottle of argonian ale in his hand and the conspicuous lack of farming tools, Isabelle could only surmise that he'd been drinking again. Sissel's reaction and the words that followed proved her theory beyond a doubt.
"Wha...Whaddya think yer doing?!" Lemkil slurred, branding his bottle as he came staggering out of the fields, sopping wet. "Lookadis!" he howled! "I'm all wet! Because you weren't working! And you!" A gnarled finger thrust itself at the bemused blond, "Whiskers! How did you do it?! Where do ya get off teaching my daughters...ma...magi...magicks!"
"I wasn't teaching. And as to the how, because fuck you that's how."
Lemkil either didn't hear the blond's reply or was simply too sloshed to care; for he marched right up to the blond and struck him across the face, veritably spitting with vehemence. Isabelle flinched and reached for her dagger. In the time it took her to do so, the blond could have taken Lemkil's hand and the arm behind it in ten different ways. Instead he simply took the hit, his head snapping to the right with a loud crack. Sissel gave a small gasp, but her father thrust her aside, shoving bleary eyes at the target of his ire.
"Lis...Listen here, boy!" he hiccuped, "You dragon-whatsit! You've got some nerve talking to me like that!"
"No, I have more than nerve. But you don't know that, do you?"
His hand cracked out again and Isabelle covered Britte's eyes just in time. Not a heartbeat later, they heard an agonizing pop.
"My arm?! What did you do?!"
"Hmm?" Naruto pretended not to hear the man." I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you over the sound of your own bullshit. What part about "Dragonbane" did you not understand? I've got fucking scales when I want them, for crying out loud!"
Lemki's good hand strayed to his knife.
"You...I'll fucking kill you for...!"
And Naruto's head tilted aside, just so.
Blue eyes burned red.
"Girls? Inside. Now. Uncle Naruto needs to have a word with your father.
Isabelle knew what was coming.
She'd seen it building for days now and knew if she didn't interfere, there would be a massacre. She was already moving forward even as the twins retreated indoors, noting that none of the guards had dared to make a move against them. Hmm. It seemed they had no love for Lemkil, either. That only made what she was about to do all the more bittersweet.
Taking of Naruto by the back of his scarf, she ruthlessly dragged him back and behind a tree.
"Will you excuse us for just a second?"
Remarkably, he didn't struggle until they were out of sight.
"What are you doing?!" She hissed. "You were going to kill him!"
"To be fair, I am going to kill him." Naruto informed her, a pleasant ring to his voice. "I just haven't decided how...yet. Still torn between throwing him across the horizon or just cutting his throat. Oh, or maybe I could just blast his face with a rasenshuriken. That way there wouldn't be any blood...
"What! Its quicker that way!"
"Must you take interest in every plight you happen upon?" she muttered aside. "You know we can't take these girls with us when we leave. I understand you're not happy about this, and neither am I, but we cannot go trekking across the wilderness with those twins!" her voice rose, sharpening at his dark look. "They won't stand a chance!"
"It is my solemn duty to aid the children of Skyrim." The Dragonbane replied with faux reverence. "Only adopting two at a time? Fuck that. Besides, given the royal fuck-up of your family, you should be more understanding."
At the mention of her mother, the Dragonborn bristled in sheer disbelief.
How...how dare he use that card!
"She's deas to me." she muttered. "There's nothing to talk about."
"You don't get to hate her." Naruto's deep, cutting retort rumbled with the power of the Thu'um, taking the flickering embers of Isabelle's rage and dousing them in icy water. "You don't know why she left. You didn't even hear her out. I think that she deserves a chance to tell her side of the story, no?
"If you leave it like this you'll regret it for the rest of your life...
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!"
"So we should just leave, then."
An image of those little girls, their eyes wet with tears, flashed through Isabelle's mind and she blanched. Thinking of the lashes their father would undoubtedly give them for "slacking" made her cringe tenfold. No, she knew in good conscience that she couldn't just turn her back on them. Neither could she simply had them coin as she'd done for so many other beggars and be done with it. This matter required a more direct approach, and loathe as she might be to take it, she couldn't find fault in it.
"Urk." she managed eloquently
Naruto hummed softly.
"Aaaaand we're done here. Sit back and enjoy the show."
Faster than she could think to object he spun away from her, spinning on a heel. Seven swift strides carried him across the field and back to his destination. Lemkil must've seen him coming, because he croaked and the commotion started up again. But this time Naruto wasn't having it. His fist shot out, burying itself in the older man's stomach, sending his knife skittering aside even as he reached for his own weapon.
"Alright, you." Naruto warned, cracking his knuckles. "Last chance. Your daughters or your life."
"I've got enough problems, so don't go adding to-UGACH!"
That was all he managed as Naruto drove the point of his fingers into Lemkil's throat.
Unprepared for the sudden assault on his personage the man gurgled and staggered back, clutching at his fractured windpipe even as his eyes bulged. But Naruto wasn't finished with him. Not by any means. His hands lashed out like snakes, fingers coiling around Lemkil's throat to haul him into darkness.
Then, with them carefully out of sight, he began systematically crushing the air out of his lungs.
"I find your lack of good parenting...disturbing, sir." he hummed almost pleasantly, uncaring as his prey's blotchy face began to purple under his grasp. "These girls were your responsibility. It was your solemn duty as a father to watch over them with their mother gone. You were supposed to protect the two of them. Instead," and here his eyes did burn an angry and molten red, "You whip them, beat them, abuse them! You have failed in your duty.
"You...how dare you judge me...
It wasn't a human sound, that; it seemed to shake the very ground itself.
"I'm a fucking shinobi." he intoned, his voice unusually solemn. "I am judge, jury, and when need calls for it, executioner. I name you guilty of everything from not believing in ramen, to abusing your daughters. How do you plead?"
"GUILTY IT IS!"
In the end, Isabelle contented herself to watch as the blond put paid to Lemkil's remarks and did, quite literally, choke the life out of him and steal his valuables. When it was done he gave the body over to the guards, none of whom dared to question him, much less speak out against him.
Fixing a smile on his face, he made for the door to Lemkil's house, turned the key, and flung it open.
A baffled Britte and Sissel awaited him within, Isabelle noted with some small pleasure.
"Now then," Naruto began goodnaturedly, "What say we forget all about this horrible accident and discuss other things. Like adoption."
The twins positively beamed.
"Oh, yes, please!"
Isabelle gave them a measured look.
Hearts for the Hopeless indeed.
Clever little devils!
A/N: I AM ALIVE! Nearly had to claw my way back from the grave after a nasty bout of pneumonia and bronchitis but I'm alive and here, wishing you all a Happy July! And to those of you who don't celebrate this holiday, well...HAPPY UPDATE DAY INSTEAD!
In other news, I'm working on an official update schedule. Yes, its long overdue.
So...in the immortal words Atlas...
...Review, Would You Kindly? And naturally, enjoy the previews! There be two this time! I'm sure you'll love both of them! Once again, to those who would misinterpret, I ask you to remember that the second one is written for comedic effect; Naruto is nobody's bitch and if he at all acts like one, 'tis only to humor his poor victims/wives. And if this first preview doesn't make you go "AWWW!" then you have no soul! No SOUL, I say! Needless to say, a TON of stuff happens next chapter!
And for your viewing pleasure, a little omake as well!
Aela was silent for a very long time.
"What is this?" she asked at last, staring at the ring in her hand. It was a small, silvery thing bearing all manner of shiny stones. She still didn't understand WHY he was giving it to her. A trinket of some sort? What kind of purpose did it serve? Surely he knew of her disdain for jewelry. Was this his way of apologizing for putting a brat in her belly?
"Well, I don't know what your customs are here, but, well, where I'm from, a ring tends to mean..." Naruto paused, looking very flustered. "And you told me you wanted me to take responsibility, so...
A proverbial lightbulb snapped into existence overhead.
She grabbed him in a fierce embrace before he could finish.
Naruto made a small sound that might've amounted to a squeak.
"Lungs, Aela-chan! LUNGS! Can't! Breathe!"
"For my first order as High King, I hereby declare Ramen the national food! Bahahahaha!"
Karliah's brow shot up.
"Is...Is he being serious?"
Isabelle merely groaned.
"At this point? I don't even know...