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Well, I went for the 'certain geographical location' clause in the prompt, but I'm not sure if I managed to do it right. Wanted to write it in essay form but failed, changed it into the usual.



"Zigmundil Freudhar"

Peik, you sumbitch
The Lioness and the Bear

* * *


Solveig ran her fingers through her hair, pushing past the tent flap and inhaling the salt of the ocean. The bath had made her feel anew, not only would she keep herself from smelling like shit from the bottle she'd almost finished by herself and just the general stench of being on the road, but there was something therapeutic in baths. To sit and think, but as with anyone who'd lead a similar life as hers, too much time to sit and think wasn't always good. "Where are you off to, my little Thane?"

She turned to see her mother returning from the vendors' stalls with fresh food, she was probably making soup tonight. As for the woman herself, in a matter of hours, the news of her husband had made whatever years time's hands were holding back to come crashing down on her. Her voice was but a reedy whisper, and her shoulders slouched forward rather than proudly back as they usually were. Even on her father's longest times away, they'd never done this to her. She returned her own smile at her mother's sad one, one she could tell she was putting tremendous effort into keeping. Part of Solveig wanted to tell her that she didn't have to try so hard at keeping her happy, then the rest of her made her realize the smile her mother had wasn't for keeping her daughter together, it was for herself.

"Just... going out for a stroll." She smiled. "I'll be back-"

And with a quickness she'd never seen from her mother, she stepped forward and clamped bother hands around one of her wrists, "Please."

"Pleas-"

"No more, Solveig. No more going around being a mercenary, please." She reached up and her mother's fingers traced along her bent jaw and the notch cut out from her bottom lip, "I noticed. Your father never told me, but I knew."

Solveig took her mother's hand in her own and returned it to her side, embracing her. She didn't have the strength to tell her mother that this was her living. She wasn't a good potter. The spear came to her better than the arts ever did. Standing in the Circle or in the middle of a battle was what she was used to now. And above all, she couldn't tell her mother what a stupid, stupid quest she was about to undertake with Leif come the morrow. She let her mother go, smiled, and planted a gentle kiss on her forehead. With that, she left for town, embarking on that stroll she'd said she would take.

She caught glimpses of the others from the Company milling about, but she kept her distance, the idea of company just not quite feeling right. All up until she caught sight of Sadri and Cilo, the former probably chastising the latter over something and she managed to crack a smile. It was too late before she realized she hadn't stopped walking while she was gawping at that old mer when she collided with something sturdy. She stepped back, realizing she'd gotten stew all over her cloak, she raised a brow, "I apologize, I should've watched where I was going..."

She trailed off as she took in the sight before her. A Khajiit with a blade almost as tall as her and bulked down with Nord-plate. The two remained like that for a moment, before Solveig opened her mouth to speak again, "I...I'd be more than happy to buy you another stew, I was heading to the inn myself."

"Are you normally this oblivious or is it just when you're traipsng around like a perfumed whore?" Khazki snarled, the slits of her eyes narrowing at the red-haired Nord. The stew that she'd been almost literally dreaming about for two weeks of foraging and trapping laid splashed across the dirt, the wooden bowl lay bottom up like a dome. Her stomach growled in protest. "I bet you are heading to the inn, all right. So clean and tidy, using up precious clean water and soaps and Gods knows what else. You a comfort woman? You're a bit rough around the edges, but what do I know? People get desperate in war times. I'll just take the coin and get it myself." she said with an air of finality. She wasn't in the mood to parlay with an inconsiderate broad who had the situational awareness of a toddler and the spine of a slug. She was meek for a Nord, that much seemed obvious. Nords never apologized.

"Now, you listen, you fu-" She clenched her jaw shut and took a breath, trying to stop wondering if she could free her knife from her sheath faster than this razor-tongued bitch could draw her big fuck-off blade off her back, "I'm not taking any cold septims out of my purse unless they're going into a tavernkeep's hands." She folded her arms, "I wouldn't try to get any out of me. I'm going to the inn to get stew, feel free to come with, I'll even let you sling insults at me like an old hag if it'll make you happy." With that, she gave a frown and stepped past her.

Khazki snorted. "So you have the coin on you? I thought you'd have to give sad felatio to one of the mercenaries before you could afford a meal." She retorted, turning and following Solveig back the way she'd come. "Not much of a fighter, are you? I was expecting a thrown punch, or the very least a slap. Did you forget where you were for a moment, or is it just my lucky day I've found the one Nord in Dawnstar who doesn't want to gut me?"

"It may be like that down in the shit-filled spat of sand you folk come from where you eat skooma when you're not gutting your own, but we tend to wait for actual reasons to draw Circles in the dirt. Bumping into a scowling fucking cunt of a rug isn't a good enough reason to me." She near kicked the door off its hinges, settling for pushing it open so hard it smacked and rattled off the inside wall, waving a patronizing hand inside, "Cunts first."

Giving a theatrical bow, with her hand on her chest and her other arm extend out behind her holding the grip of her sword which ran down the length of her arm, Khazki walked into the now-familiar tavern, immensely disliking the redundancy. "Pale skin like you wouldn't last a week in Senchal before someone took a fancy to that big mouth of yours, doesn't matter if the head was attached to the body." The Khajiit remarked when Solveig stepped in behind her. Her nose wrinkled. "Do Nord taverns usually smell like a hyena's gas bloated corpse that burst in the heat? At least you figured out basic hygene."

Not waiting for an invitation to head back to the innkeep where she placed the order with to begin with, Khazki remarked, "You strike me as someone who has a reason for trying to avoid trouble. You kick like a horse and you stared me down without hesitating, but this whole charity thing doesn't fit. So lady Huscarl or whatever, what's the occassion?"

"Ah, the raping of corpses, so what kind of sick and disgusting acts of depravity aren't allowed in Khajiiti culture?" She rolled her eyes and her jaw, wanting to land a hammer-blow on the back of that Khajiit's damned neck. When the conversation turned from insulting each other to small-talk, the transition was almost jarring. "A good Nord makes amends where they've done wrong. And my reason for not wanting to punch you in the teeth is that Ashav frowns upon his mercenaries assaulting civilians." She gave the woman another once-over, "Fucking Gods, I swear, when it comes to you cats, it's either monk's robes and a fucking twig or fifty pounds of metal strapped to your shoulders and a sword big enough to signal to everyone that you're insecure about something. What brings you to the northern end of Tamriel?"

Khazki glanced over at Solveig, blinking slowly. "You... ah, damn it all." she tilted her head back until it jerked to a stop against the steel collar of her armour. "Two for two and I'm starting to see why old Ashav was so eager to sign on any and all comers. Looks like we're collegues now; try not to look excited." she said, pulling up a chair at a table, not paying attention to the two men already seated there. She leaned the blade against the table and folded her intertwined fingers on her lap, keeping eye contact with Solveig.

"I've met your 'monk'. He isn't that; he's just dressed like every other sad sack of shit who doesn't have a coin to his name back home. Explains why he can't afford steel to fight with. And lady? Call me insecure again and I'll show you how little I regard that no punching rule you have." she said, reaching forward and stealing a tankard from one of the men, who glared at her. She responded with a wink, her claws extended around the mug. He decided against retaliation and instead turned more away from Khazki, who sniffed at the mug, grimmacing. "You sure this shit isn't fermented meat?" she asked before throwing caution into the wind and downing a portion of it.

"I guess since you're so kindly replacing what I'm owed, I'll tell you what I'm doing here. Looking for work, like anyone else. There's a story to be told about me one day, I just have to find where it is. Figured Morrowind was screwy enough with living gods and giant mushroom houses that I'd stick out, but I didn't fancy getting caught up with the whole 'Grey or Get Out' sentiment that swept the nation, kind of like your Stormcloak assholes and their irrational hatred of anyone who doesn't grow a beard that looks like an overgrown patch of pubic hair." She replied, setting the mug down and sliding it back to the man with her fingers. "Main reason I'm here here is because those Snow Demons are always a day or two away no matter where I go, so the only way I was getting on a ship was to sign up for your merry band of mix-matched cunts. You guys get someone who knows how to use a sword better than most, and I get a way off this frozen rock when the ugly brutes come knocking."

"Not all of those Stormcloaks were assholes. I wear the Blue for a reason, Khajiit, and it isn't because it's my favorite color. My father was as good a man as any and he fought for Ulfric. Or at least his Chief did." She shrugged, "And I can call that beggar with a twig my friend. My name is Solveig, by the way, but I can tell you're the type who'll just call me everything but that." When the tavern-maid stepped up, she held up two fingers, "Two stews."

She opened the same hand and inside were five septims, taken readily by the maid. "I don't suppose 'This One', as you folk say, has a name."

"Well, you are replacing my food, and I might have been slighty less than agreeable, so I'll call you whatever you want... Solveig." Khazki replied, trying the name out for the first, pleasantly surprised to find she pronounced it correctly. "I'm Khazki. No 'this one', or 'Khajiit'. Just Khazki. And you're friends with that guy? Gods, you really are charitable."

"He saved my life after a Kamal almost broke my head open during the Siege of Windhelm. It's an understatement to say I owe him a favor. Hasn't left my damned side ever since, and I'm pretty sure he was requested by my father to dote on me like a child. Ironic, seeing as I've had to stand between him and whatever better-armored fuck trying to kill the two of us." She frowned, looking up and away in a moment's thought, "Not to say he's a bad fighter. Just wouldn't stick him in the frontlines, s'all. And nice to meet you, Khazki. At least I know you'll fit in with a bunch of foul-mouthed mercenaries from our first words with each other." She pursed her lips, nodding now that she noticed the lack of similarity between the way Khazki and Karth talked, "So, how long have you been away from the sands down south?"

Khazki let out a rueful laugh. "Oh, the day I fit in anywhere is the day I'm buried in an unmarked grave with all the others who've fallen before me. You probably noticed I'm not cute and cuddly like your friend, that's partially by design, partially because it's just simpler that way. You aren't so bad, you let shit roll off you and not let it compromise your principles. I respect that." the Khajiit said with a nod. She exhaled as her gaze went to the ceiling, her face contorting in thought as she searched her memory. "I think about a decade, give or take a year. It's not really been a huge incentive for me to keep track of time, and the seasons are so different depending where you are. I just wasn't finding what I wanted out of life in Pelletine, and I sure as shit was not wasting my time with those desert nomads in the North."

"Good enough reason as any." She nodded. She gestured to the general area around the two of them, "Welcome to Skyrim, can't go five years without someone finding a reason to start a war. O'course, this one isn't our fault, I guess. Doesn't change its place on the scale from Oblivion Crisis to Civil War, seeing as it took my father." She shook her head, drumming her fingers on the table, "You have any family back in, uh, Anequina?"

"Your father?" Khazki asked, immediately regretting not thinking of the implication before opening her mouth. "I'm sorry. It can't be easy, I hope you two weren't close. My family really... wasn't that." she said, streching her fingers with her thumb in a balled fist. "Horrible as it is to say, but I don't think I'd care if any of them were alive or not. All I can say about them is they did the bare minimum to keep me alive into adolecence instead of throwing me into the Bay or drowning me in the sugar fields, but I'm not going to thank them for struggling past the basic line of decency." she glanced over. "Pelletine. Different kingdom entirely from Anequina, it would be like if I called Skyrim Cyrodiil because Bruma happens to take after Nordic culture."

"Ah, I don't find myself reading much about other places or straying any farther south than Whiterun, so..." She shrugged, "And I'm sorry your family sounds like a bunch of cunts. My father... tried his best, at least when he was around. After the tax-man took the tailor shop away, the sword came off the mantel. I got tired of his graying old arse running off to put himself in danger, so I chased after him across the breadth of Skyrim. And then the Kamal came. If two wars couldn't kill him, I'm holding out on the hope that the third one isn't the charm and he's at least alive if not well." She chuckled at herself for even saying it now that she wasn't drunker than shit, "I'm fixing to strike out and find him. Saying 'fuck this war' and going somewhere new if I do. If I don't..." She let that hang in the air, not wanting to weigh in on that possibility.

"Ah, so I was right. That's why you're keeping a low profile and didn't get physical from my provocations." Khazki said, noticing the waiter coming back with two bowls. "Don't worry, I'm not going to say anything to anyone about you wandering off. I'm not going to pretend it's a smart idea, because honestly I don't think you'll make it that far East with what's going on, but I'm not going to run off and tell people what you're up to. I don't know what it's like to care about someone enough that you'd risk everything to save them, but I guess it shows a certain character to you that you put another life above your own." She looked back at Solveig, expression quite serious. "But I don't think you can walk away from this war so easily if you do succeed. It's forced me to join the fray, and I'm a fighter. Sooner or later, those snow demon fucks are going to force everyone to either take up arms against them or be treated like cattle and submit. I'll kill any of them that try to take me, but I'm not doing it alone. Even I'm not that stubborn."

"Well, I've got another coming with me, if that counts as me not doing it alone." She said with a half-smile, "And caring about someone that much really only feels great when the sentiment isn't being put to work. Quite honest, I feel like shit. I'm torn between telling my lover and just disappearing, but I couldn't do that." She glanced down at the stew being placed down, steaming hot still. "And I give you my thanks. You are right, I can't run away and expect someone else to fight the war for me. I've got ten duels under my belt that say the contrary to that."

She sighed, grabbing her spoon and taking in a mouthful of the stew before chewing and swallowing, "About that fifty pounds of metal on your shoulders and the big fuck-off blade of yours... well, why fifty pounds of metal and a big fuck-off blade?"

"Your lover?" Khazki asked, blinking. "Look, I'm not an expert on the mushy sentimental crap, but at the very least you should ask him... or her... what they think of you doing something like that." she said as the stew arrived and was set down before them. Her stomach started to growl once more. Picking up the spoon, she greedily gulped some of it down and felt one of the few true moments of bliss she'd had in quite a while. Regaining her composure, she continued. "I don't know if you've considered this, but this lover of yours is probably going to be pretty broken up if you go away and die, and in the end, doesn't your father want you to be happy? Would he even want you to go after him? It's just a lot of risk for a maybe. That's just my take, do with it what you will." she said, shrugging the 'fifty pounds of metal'. "You said it yourself, what says 'fuck-off' better than a greatsword? I don't fight unless I have to, dying for stupid shit isn't how I plan on going about my life. The blade is a deterent, and when that fails, most assholes aren't going to get close enough before I tear into them. This," she said, rapping her knuckles on the armoured plating, "Is in case they get by the sword. If you can outlast your opponent and not tire out before them, they die, you live another day. Besides, the sword's an obvious threat. It's the subtle shit that gets them in the end that isn't as apparent as a few kilos of Skyforge steel." she concluded with a grin.

Solveig gave a grin of her own, "I like you." She let the grin go and nodded, "You're right, though. Fucking gods damn it," She leaned back and let her arms dangle at her sides, shaking her head, "He's just my fucking father, s'all, right when I get close to the Gods damned gray-head, this shit happens." She concluded with a sigh and a clench-toothed, "Fuck."

"You'll figure it out. If your old man's anything like you, Solveig, he's probably stubbornly trying to make his way back now. Who knows? Maybe he'll beat you to it. Just don't do anything without a clear head and resolve, check your doubt. If you aren't second guessing your decision, then it must be the right one. Even if it wasn't the smart thing to do, you still acted, which sometimes is better than sitting on your ass and waiting for things to sort themselves out. Go find the idiot who got smitten by you and do right by him, because otherwise you're going to hurt him worse than a knife in the back." Khazki said, standing up from the table and taking the bowl with her. "Just whatever you decide to do, try not to die. It's rare to find someone I don't want to hit. Thanks for the grub and the chat. I needed a bit of both, turns out." the Khajiit said, picking up her sword and effortlessly swinging it up to rest upon her shoulder. Holding up the bowl as if to say cheers, the Khajiit wandered off towards the exit once more, the same easy going and arrogant stride that bumped into Solveig to begin with having a bit more spring in the step.

Solveig watched her go, probably one of few people in this Company she felt like she could trust not to steal her shit while she slept. She shook her head at her retreating back, spooning a couple more mouthfuls down the hatch before leaving this place herself. There was 'the idiot who got smitten' by her that she needed to have a chat with. Sometime. Soon. When she gave this whole rushing off to find her father quest some good thought, at least. The sky was darkening by the time she got back to the fire, seeing her mother and Cleftjaw sitting at it. "Told you I'd be back." She smiled and her mother got up, dusted the front of her skirt, and hugged her.
The Bard and the Bear
@MacabreFox and Leidenschaft

* * *

A handful of days of nothing but shit and this is what she came home to? Vurwe dead? That drunk bastard Leif picking fights and losing them with cats? At least her father hadn't entertained Leif's drunken challenge, or his loss might have ended in his burial. And if her father ever found out about that Altmer's death, no matter his past dealing with her kind, there would be bloodshed. Speaking of the man, she hadn't seen him among the crowds at the inn. She walked about town with a furrowed brow that managed to keep people away from her while she searched for the huge man. She must have searched for an hour before she gave up and settled for Mire and Brittle. “Little Sister.” Mire's skull-grin made her want to rip it off his jaws.

“Piece of shit.” She nodded, before greeting her old friend Brittle, “Piss stain.”

“I'm glad you've made it back alive.” Mire said, over Brittle's high laugh.

“I'll be glad too once I find my father. Where is he?” She asked, and Mire's shrug was not the answer she wanted.

“I've no good idea.” He frowned.

“I thought you two were the ravens on Black Sutt's shoulder, or the two flies that buzzed around that sack of shit.”

“You have such a way with words, Little Sister.” Mire smiled.

“Let me rephrase myself, Mire, I want to know where my father is or I'll be cutting chunks of you off over tonight's fire like a fucking hare.” She stepped closer to the two mangy fucks her father had a history with.

“Easy now, Little Sister, I told you everyone sleeps-”

“I sleep pretty light nowadays, and not often. Why don't you just act like a fucking man and find me while I'm wide awake.” She jabbed a finger in Mire's chest and her hand was already on her knife when she Brittle twitch toward his. Luckily- for Brittle- Mire held out a hand to keep the cur of a Nord at bay.

“Fine, fine, Little Sister.” Even Mire looked a bit forlorn, and already Solveig knew she was not going to like this news. “Your father never came back. It was told he was taken by the Kamal.”

Her father was dead. She stepped back from Mire and Brittle and turned on her heel. She walked away without a word, hard ones or sad ones. She just walked, because that was the only thing she could do. Putting one foot after another, over and over and over. She didn't even have to think about it before those feet of hers took her to the tavern, and then to her mother, and now she was on the beaches.

Her mother's howling and weeping almost made her do the same, but she hadn't cried since she was a girl, and it wouldn't do to start again now that she was a woman. And a warrior. Instead, she stared at the sand and the waves reaching out to touch the toes of her boots before she swallowed and sighed and took another swig. She looked at the bottle of Wayrest whiskey and realized it was already almost half-finished and suddenly, an irresistible urge to vomit gripped her.

She was already salivating too much and she closed her eyes to try to fight it back. It was no use. Closing her eyes made her lose all sense of balance and feel like she was rolling back, only to find she was. Before she could step backwards and attempt to gain her balance, she was on her side in the wet sand and she was sick all over the ground. She grimaced, tried to move away from the puddle of her own past rations, and then retched again, but dryly. And again, until the muscles in her stomach were strained and she gave up, rolling onto her back. Giving up, she mused, is this all you can do any time life throws something in your face? She was all too happy to challenge anyone who called her honor into question, but when the Gods are the ones heaping shit onto you, how do you challenge them? You don't, she guessed, you only accept it and hope that you regain the blind, dumb happiness needed to smile at the heavens and thank them for it.

After quite a while lying on the ground, she decided to struggle to a less pitiful sitting position.

"Care for some water?" A hoarse voice broke the silence, towering over her stood Leif, with a newly acquired shirt. Much like the old tunic, albeit, without the blood and holes. He extended a water skin to the fiery haired woman, a friendly gesture to say the least. Moments ago, he had left the Courtesan after visiting Captain Atgeir and his old shipmates. He discovered that Atgeir had had the ship repaired, and now it was seaworthy again. As he departed from the ship, he spotted the Red-Bear's daughter emptying her stomach. Perhaps she could use some company after the heart-breaking news over her father.

She held a hand over her mouth as she hiccuped, feeling something come up that wasn't air. She made no move to hide herself as she spat a stringy mess on the ground, wiping her mouth on her forearm. Wordlessly, she grabbed the water out of the man's hand, glancing at him before taking a moment. She finally drank, and deeply, while staring at the man. Her vision was becoming blurred and she felt tired to her bones. Finally, a hint of recognition crossed her, "I heard about your fight with-" She stopped herself, wondering if she really wanted to antagonize a man who'd been through something so recently. Perhaps the news about her father made her a bit more sympathetic, "Your fight with the Kamal captain." She let the silence grow pregnant, Leif probably knowing what she was going to say at first. "That was brave of you."

"Mmm." He grunted, settling down next to her. "Don't know if I would call it brave. Reckless, maybe. But not brave." For awhile, he said nothing, just stared at the rolling waves washing over the sand. So much had happened. His talk with Niernen helped, but at the present moment, he wanted nothing more than to forget about what happened. "Same goes with my fight. With Do'Karth." He added at the end. Leif heard it in her voice, he knew what she was going to say. Most folks had, and if they hadn't, well they were blind, deaf, and dumb.

"Made a damn fool outta myself then. Don't know why I bothered. I guess. It's not like she cares." He said, digging the heel of his boot into the sand. A heavy sigh rolled over his lips, his shoulders drooping as if under an invisible weight.

"I see you and Sadri have something between you two." Oh boy, what was he trying to say? He scrambled to regain control, move the conversation into a more positive note. "I'm happy for you both. Love is precious." Ok, so not much help there. Leif felt like a damned fool. Why not just say what was on his mind? His small talk didn't help, so he thought.

"I'm sorry about your father." Leif said, there, now it was out in the air.

At the mention of her father, her mood crashed down from where it was when Leif had her thinking about Sadri. A deepset frown cracked along her face and she grasped the bottle of whiskey at the neck and threw it at the waves. She was on her knees and let the silence fill with her heavy breathing before her head began to swim again and she settled back on her arse. "So am I." Her frown softened a bit, "I want to strike out on my own to find him... or his body. Give him a good burial. I want to smack Do'Karth for following me like a mother hen instead of standing at my father's back like a true Shield-Brother... but what would that do?"

She shook her head, "Your fight with Do'Karth, your... situation with..." She sighed and rolled her eyes, "She cares. Because if she did not, she would have nothing to do with you and she would be far more cruel in pushing you aside like a fly buzzing about her face. But how can she care for a man who can not step back and care for her happiness as much as he cares about his own, Leif?" She was nothing if not blunt, "Do you love her or do you want her? Because there is a difference. If Sadri acted out in such a way with someone else, it would scream so loudly that he thought it would be fitting to ruin all happiness other than what happiness he thought I should have. And a Nord should know that a man who tells a woman what is good for her is no man."

"Trust me, I've drawn Circles for many a man like that and I've left all of them." She frowned. "Raven-Stone is not the Name of a fool, Leif. Don't make it one. For what it's worth, even though the last words you spoke to me were that you were going to pollinate my flower," she giggled at the last part, "You've proven yourself to me and all the Company that you are much more than just a foolish sailor with a weakness for anything with tits and a nice arse."

Leif regretted the last sentence he uttered, the expression on her face crushed him. How could he be so dense? His mouth fell agape, though no words came to pass his lips. What she said... that resonated deeper with him than what everyone else had tried to tell him. Why? Was it because he saw a bit of Sevine in her? His teeth sank into his bottom lip as he reflected on the meaning of her words. Though he believed Sevine had not a care in the world toward him, perhaps what she said was true after all. His stomach twisted into a series of intricate knots, and now, his stomach threatened to upheave. Regret filled every fiber as a hand covered his face in shame. He stifled a groan, though it came out sounding much like a strangled cry.

"I'm sorry. I..." The hand fell away as he turned to look at her, "I don't know why I do the things I do. I can't justify it, reason it away or give an excuse. I suppose..." His head tipped back to gaze at the night sky, his eyes lingering on a passing cloud, "I've always wanted what I've read in eddas and ballads. A noble love, or, no, I guess, someone to love me despit all of my faults." Why was he saying all this? Most of all, to Solveig? He knew that the words he spoke were true, and perhaps baring his soul to someone like Solveig, who didn't look at the world through a rosy haze, would bring him to some type of reconciliation with himself.

Solveig nodded, there was a time when she dreamed of a handsome Jarl's son coming to swoop her away at the head of a host of his finest warriors and handmaidens, but those dreams stopped when she was too old for her mother to read her to sleep and old enough to learn that Jarl's sons married Jarl's daughters and that most men only wanted her because they hadn't had her yet. Her shoulders drooped before she drew her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, "There's but one thing this world of ours shares with the eddas and ballads, Leif." Her mind went back to her father, and she felt tears building up over her eyes, "They're both filled with men who never learn from their mistakes. And the only thing it ever gets them is a decent burial or a good pyre. Bjorwulf's Edda, and a hundred-hundred others."

Her hand wiped away a tear that ran down her cheek before it crossed the distance between her and Leif, she squeezed the back of his arm reassuringly, "Love is precious, as you say. Who knew a woman from Markarth would fall for a mer scarred from head-to-toe." She shrugged, "It happens, though. We don't make it happen, though. At least I didn't. Remember that." She sighed and nodded, "But she does care, because that is what a Shield-Sister does. A Shield-Brother should make amends for any wrongs he's done, it's what good people do, much less good men. My father did that when I forced my way back into his life. If the stubborn, blood-thirsty, fearsome Red-Bear could do that... well, I'm sure the Raven-Stone can."

Her words of how a Shield-Sister and Shield-Brother acted rivoted him to the spot where he sat, his gaze never left the spearwoman sitting next to him. 'A Shield-Brother should make amends...'

"Aye." He started, "You speak the truth. I suppose an apology is in order." Leif nodded more to himself than to Solveig. "I was upset... Those long years of fighting by her side, looking after her every time she got hurt... and now, for fuck's sake, she nearly died on me, and neither Do'Karth or me were around to help her." He shook his head at his own words, realizing immediately what he said, "Do'Karth was right... Sevine is her own woman. And you're right, as well. I think... all this time, I've wanted her, and loved her." He fell silent, picturing the towering Red-Bear making amends for his actions, so why couldn't he? He swallowed a hard lump in his throat, talking about this after opening up to Niernen was like holding a burned hand over a flame. He didn't want to talk about Sevine anymore, and why should he? She had her own partner now, and any words he spoke of her from here on out would only cause him further pain.

"I'll help you find your father." He meant that, dead or alive, he would help her find him. Part of him held fast to the idea that Jorwen might still be alive. After all, those that survived the assault at Nightgate hadn't really seen whether or not he died at the hands of the Kamal. The company simply reported him as missing in action, so there was a fair chance Jorwen had survived. Talos protect him.

Solveig fell quiet. Leif's words were not what she expected, no matter how much she'd never thought Leif would utter those words, nor anyone. She even doubted Sadri would follow her if she took up the task, and now the man who'd told her that he'd pollinate her flower was pledging his loyalty as Shield-Brother in her quest. She had to remind herself that she was the one who was drunk, and she saw a conviction in his eyes she'd never thought she'd find there. She swallowed, squeezing her legs tighter to her before letting them out straight in front of her and resting back on her hands, feeling too much like a little girl doing that.

She glanced sidelong at Leif a couple times, not knowing what to say at first, "Truly?"

"On my honor, my word binds me as your Shield-Brother." He extended a hand for her to shake, Leif didn't pledge himself often to tasks, but when he did, the Gods be damned, he wasn't a liar. "You say the word, and I'll leave at the drop of a feather."

Perhaps it was the Nord blood coursing through his veins, or perhaps it was the conviction of comraderie that binded him to his fellow kinsmen during the war. Whatever the cause, there was no reason for a respectable man such as Jorwen should be left to the devices of the Kamal, Name or no Name. He reflected on the rescue mission for the frigate. Later onboard, he overheard about the mysterious oven-like device where the prisoners were being fed into to fuel a massive soul gem. He prayed that that wouldn't be the fate Jorwen would come to suffer, were he still alive.

"Leif, you may be a foolhardy bastard hells-bent on proving whatever to whoever..." Solveig struggled to her feet without much grace and almost fell back down at one point, "But by the Gods, I'm starting to like you more."

She extended her open hand and forearm for Leif to clasp like a true Shield-Brother. It may have been the drink talking, but in that moment, she felt like she could strike out now. Well, that was the drink, but she could definitely strike out in the next couple of days with Leif in tow. She'd test his resolve and his sincerity, there would be little chance for breaks in their march towards wherever they took her father. Any time spent idle was time wasted and time in which they could kill her father. And that just would not do.

He clasped her forearm and gave it a firm shake, a laugh rolling over his tongue at her words. "I suppose that's good to hear. If you're headed back to town, I'd be delighted to walk with you." Leif paused in his words as he gazed into her frigid blue eyes, his heart sank again, how many more times it would take the plunge in the days, weeks, months to come, he could not fathom. Jorwen had done the same for him, though Solveig wasn't anywhere near as drunk as he was on that night he challenged the Red-Bear to a fight.

* * *

Windhelm...
...a bear has awakened


All was dark in this place. All was silence in this place. All was nothing in this place. All was hell in this place. He could not remember what brought him here, only snippets of a battle, and even then, he only remembered some sounds and smells. Was he in the Great Forest still? How was Carpi? Was Fangelmo still torturing him with his fear spells and white-hot bars of metal? How long had it been since he had come to this place? A day? A day and a night? A handful of both? He knew not the answer to his question, but he was still a man of right mind to ask them, and that he took some comfort in. The piss-skins would not take that from him. They could take his fingernails, they could keep breaking his bones only to heal them again for the next breaking, they could cast whatever hellish mind-magic they could on him but he would not break.

It still remained to be known what purpose their torture was for, and it seemed all the more likely as the sessions went on that they were simply doing it because it was something to do. A punishment only for being human, a round-ear. But soon, soon he would slip free of his binds and he would show them what Jorwen the Bear could do. Suddenly, a spear of white-hot light shot forth from the darkness and stung him in the eyes. He recoiled and turned his face away, and he heard a voice that was very much not an Altmer's. But it was Mer. “Up, Red-Bear.”

As his eyes burned to adjust to the light, he saw ashen-skin and chitin plates through a film of wetness. This did not make sense, he was a Legionnaire fighting the Dominion, why was an ash-skin spitting orders at him? He rose, nonetheless. The ash-skin had to look up to meet his gaze, and at least that was something he took comfort in. The lack of fear, though, that would not do. Had his hands not been bound, he would have broken the mer's eyes out of their sockets with a fierce and violent clap on either side of his puny, shaved head. He would correct this. After a few moments, the spear of light grew to a doorway as the metal door keeping him sealed away in that dark place opened. They should not have opened the door. He rushed towards it, a fierce and single-minded grin on his face, or baring of teeth more like. Then his chains stopped him in his tracks, snapping taut and sending him tumbling forward to a hard landing on his side.

He felt the metal cut into his wrists and things shifted around painfully in his right hand. The Dunmer burst out laughing before regaining himself after a long while, “You should watch your step, Red-Bear, have you forgotten how to walk in only five days, you old s'wit?”

The only thing Jorwen did was struggle to look up at the mer, who only kicked dirt in his face. Jorwen spat and gave his baring of teeth again, seeing the plate of food tossed at him break along the ground, the thick slime that would be his meal made up of Gods knew what now on the stone floor. He looked up at the mer again, who smirked, “Enjoy your meal.”

Jorwen only gave a growl of a laugh, “I will come for you one of these nights.”

“Sure you will-”

“Sleep light!” And with a sudden violence that made even the mer flinch and his smirk waver, Jorwen took another vane lunge toward him, “I'll have your throat for a fucking meal!”

“Fuck you, you barbarian!” The mer slammed the door shut, leaving him in darkness once more, but still he screamed.

“Do you have kin? Have you sons or daughters? I'll be looking for them!” He screamed with such fury it made him cough and heave, strings of thick spittle hanging off his dry and crusting lips. He whiled away his time slurping the thick soup off the ground, having no shame left after the things done to him over the past days. He lay there, still, his hand throbbing, until he grew tired of it and yanked at his shackles. He felt his bloody wrist slip a satisfying millimeter out of the metal cuffs and he bared his teeth once more. He would have his meal soon...

Hours passed. He did not sleep anymore, for he found no rest in it, only sat with his eyes closed, biding his time, but with a purpose now. A glorious, fulfilling, bloody purpose. One he had not had in a very long while, the binds of a peaceful life in Whiterun struck loose. Vengeance may be in the hands of the Gods, but they had given him the means as he had begged and prayed for. Finally, the spear of light came again, but he kept his eyes shut, “What's with that fucking smirk?”

“Get the hell up, Red-Bear, food's here.” So, the first one was shaken so strongly he had to bring a comrade to taunt him with, if only they could grasp the irony as they laughed at him, “Your favorite.”

One of them stepped forward, the dull rasp of a blade sliding free of its sheath was heard. All the good it did him. Jorwen listened, counting the steps, his smirk growing to a baring of teeth. He roared once the footsteps got close enough, making the mer freeze. He barely had time to lift his sword before Jorwen reached up and had his grip on his neck. He squeezed so tight, growling and snarling and smiling, he felt middle finger almost touch his thumb around the scrawny knife-ear's neck. He tossed the short thing aside. Standing and gawping at him, the other mer, the one with the shaved head from the day before was rooted to the ground. He quickly came to his senses and tried to run, but only tripped himself up and found himself on his back, looking up at Jorwen.

“You should watch your step.” Jorwen's grin cracked his lips again, making them bleed, it grew so wide. He flexed his hands into fists, “I told you I would have mine.”
<Snipped quote by Leidenschaft>

What a fucking asshole, that guy.


I did actually appreciate the two characters' back and forth with each other. "Well, I-I was the Mane's Bodyguard!" "Wow, good job, hombre. Where were you when he died?" "I left before then!" "Hoho A deserter?"
<Snipped quote by Leidenschaft>

It will be more bitter than black coffee.


They'll only ever agree on one thing, that Do'Karth's lack of armor and an edged weapon is dumb
Solveig and Khazki should meet up sometime for a scowl-off
"I like big boats, I cannot lie."

Goddamnit, Dervs.
<Snipped quote by Leidenschaft>

Posted in the T-Pad


me2
@MacabreFoxSo, I'll be steadily plodding along for my Jorwen post while I wait for us to get going on our collab! https://titanpad.com/FljefARVUy
@MacabreFoxI'm pretty down for that. Def up for doing that tomorrow after I get off work.
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