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The Unexpected Connection

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She slowly opened her eyes and tried to move, her body screaming in pain all over.  Everything was a blur as she slowly tried to sit up.  Once she managed to sit, a stabbing pain shot through her head. 

This must be what it’s like to get hit in the head with a lightning bolt spell.  

It took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, relieved only minimally by torchlight, as her eyes started to come into focus.  As her vision cleared, she saw she was in a small room formed by wet stone walls. She could hear water dripping and smell the dank stench of mold and rotting corpses. Her stomach roiled with nausea and she fought down the urge to vomit.  It was very cold and she found she was sitting in a puddle of water.  She heard a moan coming from somewhere nearby.  She quickly surmised that she was in some sort of prison. 

Shivering, she scooted sideways to get out of the water and wrapped her arms around herself for some sort of warmth.  She couldn’t remember how she got here or what had happened to cause all this pain in her body.  She took a quick inventory.  She felt battered and bruised.  Her skin felt as if she’d run through a patch of briars naked.  Touching her head, she could feel a large lump, most likely the reason for the pounding headache.  Feeling the left side of her face, she felt a horrible stinging sensation.  Her hand came away wet and sticky.  Blood.  She had no way of knowing how deep the wound was, she only knew it was painful.  She was wearing some sort of torn and dirty shift and the sleeveless straps kept slipping off her shoulders.  She cringed inwardly.  Someone had removed all her clothes and put on this sorry excuse for a rag.  What else had they done to her while she was out? 

Runa.  My name is Runa Storm-Bringer.   

Remembering her name gave her an anchor.  More memories surfaced.  She had vague recollections of some battle or fight where people died.  She shook her head as if to clear out the cobwebs so she could better remember what happened.  That was the wrong thing to do.  Pain stabbed her head and she breathed in sharply at the same time a particularly loud groan came from the other suffering soul in the dungeon.  

She remembered screaming...fire...bodies flying like rag dolls.  Then the full wave of memories hit her full force and her face twisted with horror and loss.  People had died!  Not just people!  The Thalmor had slaughtered her father and brothers!  Bastards! 

We were at camp and they just attacked us after we saw that dragon!  Why would they do such a thing?! 

Her father was a staunch supporter of the Empire.  They should have no cause to harm him—or any of them!  She remembered wanting to fight back and defend her family, but all she could do was scream.  Then...she struggled to remember.  She had heard this loud booming noise or some sort of shout, then everything had gone black.  She must have been hit over the head.  She remembered nothing else until waking up in this prison cell.  She wondered why they hadn’t killed her, too.  How long had she been here?  Why would they take her?  

Still hugging herself, she looked around the darkened room.  She had to get out.  Somehow.  Looking toward the cell door, she started.  A guard clad in golden Elven armor stood there with his back to her.  

Has he been there this whole time?  Why?  I’m not a threat.  

Runa wasn’t the biggest or strongest woman, but she was quick and agile enough to move silently.  In spite of a noble heritage, living with all men in her family had taught her many ways to survive the harsh life of Skyrim.  Her family had valued the ancient Nord ways.  She was a Nord and she was going to fight like one. 

Her oldest brother, Balen, taught her how to hunt quietly through the woods using a bow or even a thrown dagger.  Her next oldest brother Baldr taught her how to use a few essential spells; he as a mage like their father.  And her third brother, Tabor, the youngest of the three, taught her how to wield a one-handed sword and axe.  He’d even schooled her in lock-picking.  Where he had picked up that particular skill he wasn’t clear on. 

Her father was the one who had educated her, ensuring that she read daily and learned a bit about plants and herbs.  Whenever she would complain about all the reading, he would lecture her. 

“Surviving with weapons is good, but you need an intelligent mind to help you get out of those really tough situations. Knowledge will be your greatest strength.”  

Now she stared hard at the guard, feeling her anger grow.  He had his back to the cell door, leaning back against it with his arms crossed, clearly bored with watching a woman who was apparently passed out.  She rose quietly—slowly to minimize the pain in her skull.  Then she silently moved towards him.  Her strong, long legs carried her across the room barely making a sound.  Her bare feet on the stone floor sounded like a mammoth walking to her ears but the guard didn’t seem to notice.  Her only option was to quietly move her arm through the bars and try to strangle him unconscious, which would not be easy.  She wasn’t at her best at this moment.  Thankfully he was not wearing a helm. 

Quickly she stretched her right arm through the bars and before he could react, grabbed her right hand with her left, bracing her feet against the cell door.  Pushing back with all the strength in her legs—she started choking him.  He was caught completely off guard.  He struggled, pawing at her arm, but the bars between them prevented him from getting a good hold.  Runa held fast, fueled by adrenaline, and tried to ignore the screaming pain in her head.  Once he finally quit struggling and she was sure he was unconscious, she let go and collapsed herself.  Stars swam in front of her eyes from the exertion.  She lay there for a minute or two breathing heavily until the shooting pain and the need to vomit subsided.  She’d felt this way once after waking up from an evening of drinking Honningbrew Mead with her brothers the first time.  Something she’d vowed never to do again.  The hangover from that night was a hundred times better than what she was feeling at the moment. 

She had to get moving before more guards came.  Reaching through the bars, she rifled his pouch and found the keys to the cell.  After letting herself out, she picked up his axe and pulled the dagger from the sheath at his middle.  The pouch yielded a couple of health potions. She greedily drank one of them and felt a wave of warmth radiate through her body.  It took just a few minutes to feel almost whole again. Tearing a piece of cloth from her tattered shift, she used it to tie her long, wavy black hair into a side ponytail.  The long bangs were still a problem, but at least the rest of her hair was out of the way.   

Then she looked at the guard. He was still alive, but she knew she just couldn’t let him stay that way.  If he woke before she got away—she didn’t want to think about what would happen to her if she were caught trying to escape. 

Once while hunting with her brother, she’d taken down a deer.  It did not die cleanly and they were forced to track it through the forest until it weakened enough to collapse.  Balen had made her slit the animal’s throat, so it would no longer suffer.  

Make your strike strong and quick, Runa.  You don’t want it to suffer any more than you have to.   

Taking a deep breath, she slashed across the mer’s jugular quickly.  The expected wave of nausea washed over her, but she choked it down.  

It was my life or his!  

The moaning came again from the cell on her right, making her jump.  She cursed under her breath.  

I can’t just leave him there to suffer.  No matter what he’s done, no one deserves torture from the Thalmor.     

She walked up to his cell and could see a man sitting on the ground covered in dirt and blood. His medium-length black hair was wet and stuck to his face, so she couldn’t really tell what he looked like.  He was shirtless and wearing some torn pants. His back looked like raw meat. Clearly, they’d been whipping him. She used the guard’s keys and unlocked his cell.    

I can at least give him this health potion.  He can figure his own way out.   

She leaned over him and held out the potion. “Hey there, here I have...”   

Suddenly she found herself on her back with him on top of her, his hands around her throat.  

“I’m going to kill you all!” he growled, eyes wild.  Even as weak as he must have been, he was too strong and heavy for her to push him off of her.  His thick hands squeezed her throat and she started to see stars. She kept clawing at his hands to try to pry them off, but they were like vices and were starting to crush her windpipe.  She couldn’t breathe at all, let alone try to explain to him that she was just trying to help. Her eyes felt like they were about to pop out of her skull. Her vision was darkening.  

I knew I should have just kept going!

Then miraculously the pressure was gone.  She found herself gasping for air and coughing, his heavy weight pressing her painfully against the stone floor and making it difficult to regain the breath she’d lost.  He was so very heavy with dense muscles. It took all her strength to roll him off of her. Then she lay gasping until she could breathe normally again. She rolled over and crawled to her hands and knees, almost retching in reaction.  Her throat felt raw and bruised. She almost drank the last potion, but one look at his raw back made her soften somewhat. 

He didn’t know what he was doing.  But he nearly killed me. I’ll leave the potion, but I’ve got to get out of here.  

Finally, she got up and scanned the outside of his cell, listening.  Their rumble had made a lot of noise and she worried other guards might have heard them, but all was still quiet.  She knew they were somewhere out there and eventually they would make their grand appearance, probably with gleeful smiles, anticipating the joys of potential torture.  She was certain Thalmor children were taught to torture by learning to tear off the wings of little dragonflies.   

She started toward the cell door, stopping when she heard him moan. She bowed her head, fighting an internal battle.  If the roles were reversed, she would hope that he would help her.

Damn it all to Oblivion!  I can’t just leave him.  

Walking back to the man, she sat down on her legs and tried to roll him over.  It was no easy feat as she was weak and he was so very heavy and so very large, but she finally managed it.  Then she pulled his head onto her lap, thankful that he was unconscious and unable to feel the cold rough stone on his torn and bloody flesh.      

With his head leaning at an upwards angle on her lap, she gently pried his mouth open and pulled the cork off of the health potion bottle with her teeth.  Spitting out the cork she started to slowly pour the liquid into his mouth. He swallowed reflexively.  She dribbled it in small doses, trying not to lose too much of it. Finally, his eyes started to flutter open.  

Then she was scrambling back in fear as he shot up off the floor and crouched defensively, ready to pounce on her should she make the wrong move.  He relaxed slowly as he realized she was a prisoner, like himself. Her face was bloody and battered, but her eyes were the bluest he’d ever seen. Her shift had slipped down again from her shoulders and he could see the top of her shapely breasts.  He stared frankly, too angry and in too much pain to feel ashamed. 

"You’re a prisoner too, like me,” he said, deflated.  Then he saw the empty potion bottle. He picked it up.  “You gave me this? Where did you get it?” 

She motioned toward the dead guard and he turned to look over his shoulder.  He turned back to her, his eyes wide with astonishment.  

“You took out a Thalmor guard?  All on your own?” 

Her lips tightened in irritation and she glared at him.  “Yes. I am Nord after all. Then I gave you my last health potion, even though you tried to strangle me.  So, you’ll forgive me if I’m not in the best of moods. I believe I’ve done enough.” She started painfully to rise. 

“I…what?”  He could see her very red throat, which was starting to bruise.   It was clearly visible even under the little bit of torchlight available.  He had no memory of it. “I…must have thought you were one of them…I’m sorry.”  

“I know you didn’t mean it.  You were out of your head. But it was fortunate that you passed out when you did.  You nearly killed me.”  

She began to move toward the cell door. 

“Wait…please…” 

She turned back to him.  

“I really am sorry.  Why would you still help me?” 

“I don’t know for sure really.  After I rolled you off me, which was NOT easy by the way--you are like a rock--I...I saw your back.  I just couldn’t leave without trying to heal you a bit. No one should suffer like that. How are you feeling now?” 

“Much better thanks to you.  That potion is a miracle in a bottle.  Or, maybe you are my miracle.” 

She blushed, thankful for the darkness.  Then she berated herself. She was in a Thalmor prison, listening to a man flatter her and enjoying it!  She needed to leave before more Thalmor came! 

“I’m Kaidan,” he said.  

“I’m Runa,” she responded, feeling foolish.  If she was going to leave, she needed to get going.  But she couldn’t make her feet move. 

“We need to leave.” 

Kaidan rose to his feet.  He could see the keys dangling from her hand and could not believe he now had a way out.  But…he couldn’t leave without… 

“Runa,  I..I know I have no right to ask this—I know we need to leave quickly—but I can’t leave without my sword.” 

“You can have this axe,” she said, holding the Elven weapon she’d pilfered from the guard out to him. 

“No,” he shook his head, “this isn’t me being sentimental.  That sword is important. It’s the reason I’m in here. If the Thalmor want that sword, then they shouldn’t have it.”

She lowered the axe, sighing in frustration.  “Kaidan…” 

“I’m a good and strong fighter, Runa.  I could help you. But I need that sword.  I’d like to get my armor back too—but I’ll settle for just the sword.” 

Runa could see his desperation, and she was feeling very weak.  She was beginning to wonder if she could get out of this prison alone in her condition.  She let out a heavy sigh. It was insane. 

“Very well, but please don’t make me regret this.  I’m still not sure I can trust you. But we can talk about that later.  Let’s go get your stuff.” 

Chapter Text

Kaidan rose, trembling in his weakness.  He felt better, but his legs threatened to give way.  Runa went to his side and tried to steady him until he was on his feet.  He couldn’t remember how long he’d been in this prison at the mercy of the Thalmor.  The days had just blended one into another, filled with pain and hopelessness. They had questioned him for information about his sword. It was information he didn’t have, but they hadn’t believed him.  He stood for a moment, gathering what was left of his strength for the challenge to come.

Runa handed him the Elven axe.  She kept the dagger.  When they exited the cell, she went to the guard she had killed because she wanted to remove his armor.  She wanted to wear something that would actually protect her. But after they successfully removed the armor with some difficulty, they found it was just too large for her to wear and too small for Kaidan to wear.  

“Bastard!” Kaidan growled.  Dammit!” 

Runa pulled the loose straps of her shift back onto her shoulders yet again.  “Well, torn wet rag it is.”   

“Let me go first so I can over-power the guards.  Stay behind me and get those that stray away from my axe.” said Kaidan. 

“No, I will go first,” she said, her voice still a little hoarse from Kaidan’s chokehold.  “I have been trained to be silent. I can sneak up to the guards and slit their throats.  I also know a bit of magic. You can cut down those I cannot get to. We don’t know for certain how many there are and we stand a better chance if we can catch most of them by surprise.” 

Under normal circumstances, he never would have agreed, but he was dizzy with weakness and from hunger.  The axe felt awkward in his hand.  He felt as if he were holding a hatchet.

“Very well.  As you command, My Lady.” 

She looked at him sharply, wondering if he was mocking her.  “I’m not your ‘Lady’. Runa will do.”

There was another door on the other side of the cell. Runa quietly walked over to unlock it. Pushing it open slowly to minimize the squeak made by the rusty old metal, she stepped through.  They continued on down the corridor toward a flight of stone stairs. In spite of her brave words, she worried; there could be one guard or ten, or maybe the Emperor himself. Every step, every breath they took made her anxious that the guards might hear them.  Kaidan was surprisingly quiet despite his large frame, thank the Nine. If they were detected, things could change dramatically for the worse.  

As she reached the stairs, she lowered herself to all fours, creeping silently up.  She was torn between fear and anger. She knew she was about to kill again--that is--if they didn’t get her first.  But the anger she felt as she remembered what they had done to her family kept her going. They deserved this.   

She peeked around the edge of the doorway.  A Thalmor Wizard sat at a small table, shuffling papers.  Her heart constricted and her mouth went dry. She paused, letting her anger rise, then sprang forward, put her forearm around his head, pulled it back and slashed at his throat with a savagery she hadn’t known she possessed.  Blood fountained from his throat, staining the wall and the table. She staggered back, feeling her gorge rise and her head pound. Kaidan reached for her but she fell to her knees before he could touch her. She retched, her empty stomach yielding nothing but clear bile. 

“Well done,” Kaidan whispered.  “You alright?” 

She sat back on her heels, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.  “I’ll live.” 

A sword, unlike anything she’d ever seen lay across the table.  Strange runes were etched into the gleaming blade. Kaidan reached over her and snatched it up.  “I feel better already,” he said with a grin, then he wiped the wizard’s blood off it by stroking it on the back of the dead Elf. 

Then he rifled the wizard’s pockets, drawing out a set of keys.  He began to try them one by one on the chest which stood against one wall.   

Runa clambered to her feet and then sat on the nearby bed to recover. 

The chest popped open.  “Ha! It’s all here!” cried Kaidan. 

“You want to keep your voice down?” Runa hissed at him.   

“Sorry.”  He began to pull out the armor and put it on, grimacing when the metal touched his raw back.  His tunic was not in the trunk.  

“Is there anything of mine in that magical chest of yours?” 

“There’s nothing here but my armor and bow.” 

Runa stared.  The armor looked eerily similar to Blade armor, something she had only seen in books, but it had two mirrored images of tigers etched into the breastplate.  His sword was also strangely similar to those used by the Blades of old. It was slightly curved and very thin, not at all like the wide and heavy blades commonly used in Skyrim.  

Who is this man?

“Ah, what a relief.  This armor and I go way back. It’s like a second skin to me, despite my skin not being happy to have anything on it!”

He held his bow out to her.  

“Here, you can use this until we can get one for you.  The bow is very special to me and I would like it back eventually, but please feel free to use it for now.”  

“I...thank you, I will take good care of it.”  She’d always preferred the bow. It was second nature to her thanks to her brother Balen.  Her throat closed up and her eyes burned with tears as she thought of him. She turned her head away until she could get herself under control.  If she let go of her emotions she knew she would be useless. She had to keep it together until they got to a place of safety. 

“I owe you a great debt, My Lady.  I’m not sure it’s a debt I can ever repay, but I will do everything in my power to stay by your side and protect you with all my strength and my life.  If you will let me, I swear I will not leave your side until that debt is repaid,” Kaidan declared. 

From a feral sabre cat that attacked her to some chivalrous knight ready to carry her off her feet to Sovngarde should she perish.  She reluctantly agreed to try to help him get out of here, but after that, he’s on his own. “Let’s just get out of here first then we can discuss the rest of it later.”  

They quickly searched the room for any goods or supplies they could use in getting out of there.  “Here, catch,” Kaidan said as he threw a juicy red apple her way. Fumbling, but catching the apple nonetheless, her stomach growled loudly.  She suddenly wondered when was the last time she ate. She ate the apple greedily as if it was the best apple in the world, juice from the apple sliding down her face.  Kaidan too found some old crusty bread to eat. Not as good as the apple, but it was still food. She thought about sharing her apple, but she decided to be selfish this time.  She was starving.  

As they continued to search the small stone room, they grabbed a torch, a dirty and old commoner dress, and some worn-out leather boots for Runa that seemed to fit relatively well.  She didn’t want to know why there was a woman’s dress in the room. It wasn’t armor but at least she wasn’t going to be half-naked anymore. And, it was warmer than the wet rag she was currently wearing.  Kaidan found a backpack and stuffed it with a couple of moldy and stained blankets while she was behind a pillar getting dressed.  

“Thank The Nine!” Kaidan quietly yelled, closing a drawer in a small table.  “I found some fire-making tools. When we reach the outdoors and find a safe place to camp, I can make us a fire.”  Runa smiled ever so slightly at the thought of sitting by a warm, crackling fire; something she took for granted until now.  “By the way, my flame spell that will also make us a fire,” she said. 

“Are we ready?  Have we searched for everything here?” Kaidan asked.  

“Yes, I believe so.  Let’s move on and see if we can deal with the rest of the guards or bypass them altogether,” she said while tying up her long skirts so as to not trip on them while she was trying to sneak. All she needed was to sneak up on one of the guards only to have her trip and fall on top of him instead.  Maybe, if they were lucky, her stench will kill them all. Kaidan tried not to stare at her long smooth muscular legs. Now is not the time, Kaidan.    

They headed down another corridor and up another flight of stone stairs before they heard some light talking.  There was certainly more than one guard this time. Runa was praying to The Nine that there were no mages this time.  Quietly she pulled out her dagger with her right hand and lit up her left hand with her flame spell. Kaidan, too, readied his sword.  As she sneaked up a flight of stairs into the next room, she could see on the right were two Thalmor guards playing some sort of card game.  

Good, looks like we get to ruin their fun, poor babies.   

Runa crept up to the guard with his back to her, as she did with the first guard, and before she could react, the second guard stood up and immediately started to attack Runa.  He lunged his Elven sword at her, cutting her on the left side of her stomach as she tried to escape his blows. A stinging pain hit her full force. Looking down she could see red spread across her dress. 

The other guard she was sneaking up on had stood up at the same time turning to also attack Runa, when suddenly lost his head.  His head landed right at Runa’s feet, staring in shock at her. Kaidan had used his momentum, after killing the first guard to decapitate the second guard in one blow.  

Runa tried to stand up, but after all the death today and the head looking at her in surprise, she found herself retching again all over the guard’s face of the apple she had just eaten.  There wasn’t much to throw up, but her body kept on trying.   

Killing rabbits and Elk just weren’t the same as killing high elves, even if they were the enemy.  My brothers never prepared me for this. Feeling light-headed, she knew she was losing too much blood.  

As she was sinking down to sit on the ground, she felt strong hands lift her up by her armpits and helped her walk.  Kaidan had to get them out of there quickly. “We have to go now! Throw up later!” He practically carried her through the long corridors, up some circular stone stairs until finally, they came to an old door that led outside and finally to their well-deserved freedom. 

Chapter Text

The full blast of sunlight after that dimly lit dungeon was a shock to their eyes. They were blinded enough that they almost fell into the rapid river right before them.  After his eyes adjusted, he quickly scanned the area and saw that the stone bridge crumbled and washed away long ago.  

He had to figure out how they could get across the river when the door behind them burst open.  Two more Thalmor guards, swords drawn, started after Runa and Kaidan. “I’m sorry about this, My La...Runa,” as he shoved her into the rushing river water.  He jumped in right after her. 

Runa was so weak now and the shock of the frigid waters didn’t help.  She was normally a good swimmer, but this was too much. Between the concussion, the hunger and the stabbing and blood loss, she just couldn’t take much more.  She felt herself slipping under the rapid waters as her body was slammed against the rocks. The river continued to push her forward and over some small waterfalls. 

She was going to finally succumb when she felt strong hands grip her and lift her head out of the water.  She coughed and sputtered water and breathed the beautiful air. “Hang on” Kaidan yelled over the roaring waters.  He dragged Runa with one hand and struggled to swim to shore with the other when they came to a section of calmer waters.

After some struggling, he managed to pull himself and Runa to shore.  Carrying her in the water along with his heavy armor was a wonder he didn’t drown.

They laid there panting and shivering for a moment.  Kaidan was certain they were far enough down the river that the Thalmor wouldn’t be able to find them anytime soon and if they were really lucky thought to be drowned, but they had to keep moving.  He doubted the Thalmor jumped in after them, but he knew for certain they would not easily give up their chase. 

They were going to have to find some warmth before hypothermia set in for both of them.  He was certain all their supplies were soaked, so he wouldn’t be able to make a fire or get them warm with blankets.  He looked over at Runa who looked too weak to do her flame spell. Their only choice is to search for some camp or farm.  

“Come on.  We have to keep moving.”  He lifted Runa onto her feet, draped her right arm over his shoulder and started to walk. 

It was very slow going and Runa was losing too much blood.  He could feel her weakening with each step as her body got heavier and heavier.  As nighttime approached and the weather cooled down for the evening, they were both shivering uncontrollably. He had to keep walking and carrying her as best he could; what other choice was there?  

He would stand a better chance of survival if he just let her go, but he was bound to her now.  He made a vow to her and he was going to hold to that vow. So, carry her he did.  

She saved my life.  I can do no less by her.

When her feet were just dragging on the ground, he knew she had finally passed out.  He used what remaining strength he had in him to lift and carry her. She wasn’t that heavy, but he wasn’t exactly at his best either.  

It didn’t take long before he started to see some light up ahead but he couldn’t just walk up to that light and ask for help.  Skyrim always seemed full of bandits and outlaws. He didn’t come all this way just for them to end up dead by a bunch of criminals.  He gently laid Runa down among some bushes and prayed to The Nine no animal would find her.  

As he reached the camp he could feel the heat radiating from the fire which felt like a warm blanket.  There was a lone man sitting there carving some wood to make arrows. The gentleman was a lot older with balding gray hair and full of wrinkles, but he didn’t seem to be a threat.  Kaidan crossed his fingers and walked up to him in as non-threatening manner as he could. 

“Excuse me, good sir,” Kaidan said as respectfully as he could. 

The gentleman didn’t even look up from his work and in a gruff voice said, “What can I do for you, son?”

“I seek your aid in helping a friend of mine.  She’s been badly injured and needs some treatment.  Could you please help us? Anything will help, even just sitting by the fire for a minute,” Kaidan practically begged. 

The old man finally looked up from his work and at Kaidan.  “Injured you say? Well, of course, you better bring her over here and I can take a look at her.” 

Relieved, Kaidan couldn’t believe their fortune and ran as fast as he could to where he left Runa.  She was still there, but she wasn’t moving. She was too still. He checked her pulse and found it was still beating, but faintly, and her skin was cold to the touch.  Breathing a sigh of relief, he lifted her, though almost falling over due to his own loss of strength, and carried her to the hunter’s camp.  

The old hunter had already created a little bed of leaves and furs for Runa to lay on and had a bowl of rabbit stew ready for them to share.  

“Eat now.  I will see what I can do for your friend here,” the old man offered. 

“No, she could get the food.  She needs it more than I.”  

“Now, there is plenty enough for all of us.  Eat,” demanded the old hunter. 

“Aye, thank you.”  Kaidan was so appreciative.  

His stomach suddenly hurt with hunger and his mouth was salivating.  He tried not to gulp down the food and to savor it, but his hands and stomach wouldn’t let him.  He had never tasted anything so delicious, and it wasn’t because he hadn’t eaten anything for a while, the old gentleman was good with the herbs.  He mopped up the rest of the stew with a piece of coal baked bread. 

“Let me look at your friend here.  She is freezing and she has deep wounds in her left cheek on her face with severe bruising around her neck and she appears to have a stab wound on the left side of her stomach.  I’m not going to ask how this happened to her, but the only way I can treat all her wounds and get her warm is to remove these wet clothes,” the old man suggested. 

“Absolutely NOT!” Kaidan suddenly got protective of her and stood up to stop the man from getting near Runa. 

“Listen, son,” the man said gently, but firmly.  “If we don’t get these wet clothes off of her, she’s going to die of hypothermia.  If you don’t want me to remove her clothes, then you must do it. There is no other way.  Once they are off, we will pull her close to the fire to get warm again and I will tend to her wounds.  I have some poultices here I use when I get injured in my hunts. They will help her, but she’s running out of time, son.  You need to make a decision and make it quick,” old hunter lectured. 

Kaidan knew the old man was right.  He had seen hypothermia before and knew it was best to remove her cold and wet clothes, but the part of him felt it was wrong to see her in such a defenseless state.  It was the only way to ensure she gets warm.

She may not like him for it, but he knew it was the right thing to do.  He grabbed an extra fur and draped it on top of Runa. He lifted the fur part way to start unlacing the old dress.  Once it was unlaced, he gently pulled one arm out of the sleeve and moved on to the next sleeve. It wasn’t difficult to do as the dress was a bit large on her.  He tried to close his eyes as much as he could. Undressing her blindly was not easy.  

Once she was out of the dress on top, he covered up the top part of her body and slowly worked the dress down her hips and off her legs.  He then removed her boots and draped the dress over a tree branch close to the fire to dry overnight. He covered her up completely with the fur and breathing a sigh of relief that it was done and over with, let the old man do his healing.

Chapter Text

When she started to wake, everything was a bit blurry.  She felt so warm and comfortable nestled between the soft fur.  She didn’t know where she was, but she felt so good at the moment, she didn’t care.  

As her vision started to clear more, she could see an old man sleeping soundly in a tent on the other side of the fire.  Who is he?   

Waking up more gave way to memories of yesterday and the prison. She didn’t remember much else after being pushed into the river.  Runa tried to sit up and all the pain came flooding back to her. That was a mistake.  Her comfort was over.  

She lifted the fur up to look at the wound in her stomach.  There was a large burn mark, assuming someone used fire to close the wound and some sort of chalky ointment on top.  It suddenly dawned on her that she was completely naked. Where are my clothes?!   She grabbed her fur closer to her body realizing one of them undressed her, feeling slightly vulnerable.

Wait, where’s Kaidan?  Looking over to her right by the fire he lay there, sleeping soundly between some furs.  Soon after Runa woke up, Kaidan started to open his eyes and looked over at her, he immediately got up and headed over to her as soon as he saw she was awake.  

Thank the Gods she was alive.

“How are you? Are you OK?” Kaidan asked.  He only had his pants on and now that they were out of that dark prison, she could see how strong and fit he was...the human boulder.  If he wasn’t as big and strong as he was, she’s not sure she would have survived.

“Yes, thanks to you.  I hurt quite a bit still, but at least I’m alive.” 

Kaidan went over to the pot sitting on the warm coals of the fire from the previous night and got her a bowl of warm rabbit stew.  

“Here, it’s been warming in the pot overnight, but it’s food,” he said as he handed her the wooden bowl he had used last night with some crusty bread that was baked in the coals.  

“I feel I must apologize for removing your clothes last night.  You were freezing and your clothes were cold and wet, plus we had to treat your stab wound.  But I promise you I had my eyes closed most of the time and tried to keep you covered and...” he rambled on, a bit embarrassed. 

She sat up, wrapping the furs tightly around her while raising her hand to quiet him.  “I understand. Thank you for trying not to look. But mostly thank you for taking care of me last night.”   She started eating the food of the gods. The stew was delicious and she felt like a new woman. Amazing what food can do for you when you’ve been knocked over the head, in prison, choked, stabbed and almost drowned.   

Kaidan sat down with his legs crossed across from her watching her eat.  “Why are you staring at me?” she asked, feeling a bit uncomfortable.  

He had these crazy intense colored eyes she hadn’t noticed before in the darkened prison.  His irises were red! And, his eyes were more almond-shaped rather than round. She has never seen anything quite like them before and found that she was the one who was doing the staring.  She noticed he also has this really interesting tattoo on the right side of his sculpted face that matched his eyes.  He certainly did not look like a Nord, but she couldn’t place his skin tone and almond-shaped eyes to any place she was familiar with.  Certainly not in Skyrim. 

“Sorry, I was just worried you wouldn’t make it.  I made a vow to you to protect you, only to find that you were going to die a few hours later.  I have made a lousy protector so far.”  

“The reason I’m alive is because you pushed me in that water.  You saved me from two guards who were trying to kill me, you pushed me into the water so I would again we would not be killed by Thalmor guards, you carried me for who knows how long to a camp to get me warm and healed.  And, I’m alive right now. I think I can fairly say, you no longer owe me anything, if you ever really did.”

All this talking was making her tired again and her head still hurt, but she needed to make it clear that his debt has been fulfilled so she could move on her way back home.  And where are my damned clothes?   Talking naked wrapped in furs to a man she barely knows was very uncomfortable.

“Well, we can agree to disagree then.  But, if it is OK with you, I would like to stay by your side for a while longer, at least until we can get you home.  I would have died in that prison were it not for you and you are still very injured.” he said earnestly.  

She could see his face imploring her to say yes and this stubborn resolve that he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  She sighed and reluctantly agreed. “OK, Kaidan. You can come along for now.” He did save my life after all.   

She worried he would find out the truth about her.  After some thinking, she believed the main reason the Thalmor had her in prison and not dead with her family was because of the crazy scream she did when her family was killed.  She was certain the Talmor wanted to know why bodies went flying when she screamed. She didn’t have an answer for that.  

Her eyes teared up as she thought about her father and beloved brothers as Kaidan ran off to grab the few belongings they had that were now dry and shove them into their backpack, along with a few furs and some poultices from the kind old man.

As he headed back to her with her dry dress, she quickly wiped away the tears before he could see anything.

A gruff voice then spoke up, “Well now that we are done arguing who owes the most favor to whom, let me check your wounds if you don’t mind, young lady.”   

Runa defensively closed the furs tightly around her, “I’m OK now, kind sir.” 

“Nonsense.  One doesn’t heal that quickly even if my poultices are pretty damned good.  Your wound was deep, but not that deep that you won’t heal fairly quickly. But I had to burn the wound so as to quickly stop the bleeding.  You will run the risk of infection if you are not careful. As for your face, well, those wounds are going to scar, I’m sorry to say. But you are still a pretty little lady, scars or not.”  The old hunter’s words made Runa lightly blush. 

“I can’t thank you enough, kind sir.  I don’t think either of us would have lived were it not for you.  Please tell me what your name is so I can thank you properly? When I get home, I will send you a thank you gift for taking such good care of us,” implored Runa. 

“You can call me Arik, if you like, and there is no need for such gifts.  I live simply out here in the woods hunting since my wife died a few years ago from an illness.  I couldn’t save her despite my knowledge of the healing arts,” he said sadly. 

Seeing a slight pain in his eyes, she said, “I am truly sorry for your loss and truly in your debt.  Thank you, Arik, for everything.”  

Looking around the camp, she was trying to figure out where they were.  Judging by the trees, she guessed somewhere in the Rift. “By the way, where are we?” 

“You are about 20 miles NorthEast of Ivarstead,” he said. 

Ivarstead!  It’s going to take me at least four days to get home and that is only under perfect conditions.   

If she had her Septims, they could hire a carriage or rent some horses, but she had nothing at all.  They were just going to have to walk.

Waving goodbye to their new found friend, they headed towards Ivarstead and to the path that gets them through the lowest part of the mountain and onwards towards home near Whiterun.  It may have been quicker to go North West and then around the mountain, but that is near where they escaped their watery prison and the Thalmor may still be looking for them both. So, SouthWest was.

Chapter Text

It was mid-morning when they left Arik’s camp.  It was a beautiful and warm day and Runa felt a bit stronger now after their rest, food and warmth.  They had a long road ahead of them. She realized then that she might not make it home on her own and was reluctantly glad Kaidan persisted on coming with her.  Her brothers trained her well and she surely would have died had they not, but she also realizes now how much she still has to learn.

“Do you think we can make 20 miles to Ivarstead today?” she asked Kaidan.  

“Maybe we could do it in 10 hours and make it there by the evening if we were healthy, but we are not.  The Gods know I could use a nice inn with some mead right about now, not that we have any Septims for that”

“Well, when we get to Ivarstead, we can sell that Elven axe.”

“That sounds like a good plan.  I think we should go halfway and then rest for the night.  I will try to find a place to camp near water so we can at least get cleaned up a little bit.  We are both still covered in dirt and blood.”  

A chance to get a bit clean sounded like a dream to Runa.  Even she was getting tired of her own stench, something to which she was not used to at all.  

They walked through the lush aspen trees with the leaves changing to yellow and orange mostly in silence.  The beautiful leaves were sprinkled on the road, turning the stones orange. It was nice having someone to talk to once in a while, but listening to the wind through the trees and birds chirping was wonderful too.  

She had forgotten how beautiful the Rift could be.  It reminded her of when she went hunting with Balen and they had to sit, sometimes for hours, in silence waiting for their prey.  She started to tear up again and had to stop for a second to still her emotions. She tried to push her pain way down with a cough.

“Why are you stopping?  Do you need to rest?” He could see she was clearly upset about something when she turned to him, but she shook her head no.

They pushed themselves for 5 hours before deciding to make camp by a large pond.  They hadn’t eaten anything since the early morning and she was exhausted and grateful for the break.  The left side of her stomach was in a lot of pain and some of the burned skin had started to break and bleed against the fabric of her dress. If she was hurting, she couldn’t imagine what Kaidan was feeling on his back with his armor on.   

After they had set up their camp with some leaves and the fur the old hunter kindly gave them, Runa took out Kaidan’s bow and decided to try a little hunting for their dinner while Kaidan started a fire and making a spit for their hopeful meal that will soon be feeding them.  

“Please don’t go too far,” he implored.  

She promised and made her way through some dense trees to sit and wait for prey to come to her. Sitting behind a fallen tree quietly waiting, she tried not to think about her family.  It was all still so raw and painful and wondered if she would ever have the time to properly grieve. As she was starting to tear up, she moved her thoughts to her new found "I will die for you” friend.

He was so interesting looking, but in a handsome way, though she still couldn’t think where he might be from.  Maybe she will ask him where he’s from tonight. She knew he was a bit older than she was. He must have been in his early to mid-20s.  He was also very tall. Nords are generally tall people, but Kaidan was taller than most Nords. He must have been well over 6 feet.

Her sharp ears perked up as she heard a slight rustling in the leaves that quickly ended her daydreaming and pulled out Kaidan’s bow. She nocked an arrow in the string and smoothly pulled it back and waited.  

Not long after a little brown and white rabbit appeared rummaging through the leaves looking for some tasty treat.  Sorry little bunny, but you are going to be our tasty treat tonight.  She let her breath out and let loose her arrow which easily found its target.  

After their tiny meal, they felt a bit more refreshed.  Runa wanted to get cleaned up in the pond before they went to sleep for the night.  Unfortunately, she knew strange things lurked in the waters sometimes, so she needed Kaidan’s help.  She wasn’t comfortable bathing in front of him, but she needed him close by just in case.

“Kaidan?” she asked.  

“What can I do for you?” he responded.  

“I would like to get cleaned up in the pond, but I need someone to watch out for the bad things in the world while I do so.  Especially look out for slaughterfish. I really need to get clean so I can put some more of Arik’s poultice on my wounds.” She was slightly embarrassed to be asking him this.  

“Uhm, sure I can do that,” he claimed, a little embarrassed himself.  

They walked the short distance to the pond and she asked Kaidan to turn around while she removed her dress and boots.  After he turned around, he could hear her hiss as he was sure the dress was slightly sticking to her stomach from the dried blood.  He didn’t even want to think about his own back 

After hearing some splashing and a little squeal from getting into the cold water, he knew she made it to the water.

“OK, you can turn around now.  Thank you for the lookout.”

Slaughterfish tended to be in larger bodies of water, but sometimes they found their way to the smaller ponds through rivers.  He knew this from personal experience as he was bitten once wadding in a small river.  

It wasn’t fish that he was watching though.  If there were slaughterfish in there, they would have appeared already at the sound of Runa’s splashing.  Her porcelain white shoulders stood out starkly amongst the dark waters of the pond and her black hair.  

She dipped under the water and came up with her hair wet and streaming down her back.  Wiping the water out of her eyes, she didn’t realize that she was partially turned so that Kaidan could see the side of her body.  He glimpsed the side of her shapely breasts and found himself unable to pull his eyes off of her. But it was short-lived as she turned again.

After a few more minutes, she was ready to come out.  “Please turn around again. I’m ready to come out now.”  She applied some of the poultice to her stomach before she was dressed.  

“I’m all dressed now.  Thank you, Kaidan for keeping an eye out.”  He gave a slight nod of his head.  

It was now Kaidan’s turn to get in the water to clean off all his blood and dirt so she could treat his back.  He was about to protest, but she insisted. It’s not that he didn’t want to get clean too, he wasn’t sure he could get his breastplate off without it sticking to his wounds and back.  It was going to be painful removing it.  

“Would you mind helping me?  I think it’s a bit stuck my back.”

She helped him unbuckle some straps and together they removed his breastplate, then the back of his armor.  He hissed as it took some skin with it.  

“Oh, Kaidan, this looks absolutely horrible!  Please go clean it and I will get the blood out of your armor.  When you’re done, we will put some medicine on it.”

When they got back to the camp, Kaidan got the fire roaring again.  As he sat there drying off by the fire, he watched her take a torn scrap of fabric to tie her now dry and wavy hair up so she could apply the poultice to her face wounds.  This is the first time he really got a good look at her because her thick hair was almost always covering her face.

She couldn’t have been more than 19 years old.   She had the bluest eyes he had ever seen.  They were almost turquoise and very light--almost the color of the Abecean Sea.  Her eyes just stood out against her black hair when it wasn’t covering her face. She had a nice straight nose, but not too thin and beautiful cheekbones.  When she smiled, he could see she had a dimple on her right cheek. Maybe there was a dimple in her left cheek, but it was wounded now. And, her lips were so very full...he just stopped looking when he realized how hard he was staring at her, hoping she didn’t notice.  

He found himself strangely drawn to her.  Yes, she was beautiful, but he had seen beautiful women before.  But why here, now at this moment? Maybe it was their shared danger.  He pushed those thoughts away. It wasn’t the time nor the place.  

I need to get her back home and then to continue on my journey.  Just stop thinking about her. It will go nowhere.  

When she was done, she headed over to sit next to him.  “Your turn,” she said.    

“No, no.  Please keep it for yourself.  You need it more than I,” he insisted.  

“Kaidan, you are as injured as I am, if not more.  Your back is in ribbons and you have been wearing armor that is agitating it.  You need this medicine.  Now please turn your back to me so I can put it on.  And don't worry about not having enough. Arik gave me the recipe so we can make some more of his wonderful poultice if we have to.”  

He reluctantly turned around with his back facing her.  She was sitting cross-legged behind him and he could smell the scent of light lavender lingering on her skin from when she rubbed the flower buds all over her when she was in the pond.  She started to gingerly touch his back.  

“By The Nine, Kaidan, this looks terrible!  I hate to say this, but you really shouldn’t wear your armor for a few more days.  It is clearly agitating your skin. We need to find some way to get you a loose shirt to wear, even if we have to steal one.”  

He didn’t say anything as she gently applied the medicine to his back.  As gentle as she was, it hurt him a great deal but he didn’t make a sound and never once flinched.  Despite the pain, her light touches gave him goosebumps down his arms. The medicine worked quickly in easing the pain.  

When she was done, he turned back to face the fire.  She too turned to face the fire, but instead of heading back to her furs, she pulled up her knees, wrapped her arms around her legs and put her head on her knees looking at him.  She looked so beautiful in that moment.  

“You are going to have permanent scars on your back, you know,” she said.  

“I know, but there is nothing I can do about it now.  It will add to my character, right?” he said slightly smiling trying to add levity to the situation and not really wanting to talk about it.

They sat next to each other for a time quietly watching the flames dance and feeling the warmth of the campfire.  It was starting to get dark and chilly, so Runa moved back to her fur bed and draped one of her furs across her shoulders.  Kaidan suddenly felt alone and wished she had stayed a bit longer.  

Runa had some questions for Kaidan, but if she wasn’t in the mood to talk and tell her story, she was sure he wasn’t either.  So, they sat there in silence for a time.  

Watching the flames Kaidan was reminded of all the times he went camping in the woods with Brynjar.  It was a rough life being raised by him, but there were lots of good moments too. This was like one of those moments.  As they both started to get tired, they laid down and drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

When dawn approached, they started to pack up their camp.  Neither of them slept very well with their wounds, so there were lots of loud yawning and stretching; trying to wake up, both of which made them smile a bit at each other. Kaidan put out the fire while Runa packed up the backpack.  She had to carry it now so Kaidan could carry his heavy armor. There wasn’t anything to eat, so with rumbling tummies, they started their trek again towards Ivarstead. 

To keep herself distracted from the pain of loss, Runa would hum some tunes she knew, “da da dee, da da doo, da da dee... ” She only knew the few songs she heard from the bards while traveling. 

Kaidan enjoyed listening to her hum and sing a bit.  Her voice was so lyrical and light. “You have a really lovely voice.  Have you ever thought about applying to the Bard’s College in Solitude?”

She just laughed, a bit embarrassed.  “No, I am not good enough for the Bard’s College.  Besides, I was just singing to annoy you, of course.  You weren’t supposed to enjoy it!”  She was joking, but it flattered her a bit that he liked her singing. 

Even her laugh was lyrical.  It was a good laugh. And, that dimple...By The Nines!  Push those thoughts out of your head.  You can’t afford to be thinking of her like that.

Kaidan laughed a little at this while blushing a bit.  He knew she was just teasing him, well, at least he thought she was.  It was hard to tell sometimes because he spent most of his life being with Brynjar who never told a joke that he was aware of.  

After about three hours of walking, they could tell they were nearing Ivarstead as the farms were becoming more and more frequent.  But, Ivarstead was still probably another three hours away. The first farm they came to, they decided to just knock on the door and try their luck.  They really needed to find a way to get some food and maybe a shirt for Kaidan, in hopes of people feeling as generous as Arik was. 

When the door opened, an old woman looked at their ragged, bloody appearance and Kaidan’s shirtless body and just slammed the door right in their faces.  Well, so much for generosity.  This made Runa angry.  We just need a bit of help!

They continued on until they reached another farm.  They really needed to eat something, even if it was a small potato and they had to get a shirt for Kaidan before they got to Ivarstead.  They didn’t want to run the risk of being run out of town as vagrants or criminals.  

They knocked on the door of the next farm and an overweight old man with missing teeth opened the door who was not any nicer than the old woman.  We must look worse than I thought.  He shut the door in their face too, but this time Runa knocked on the door again, a little louder and harder this time.  

“Please, sir.  We just need a little help.  We would accept anything at all, a small potato, anything you may have.  Please, I beg you. It’s been a long road and we are struggling here, as you can very well see.”  

She didn’t like the fact that she had to resort to begging.  She never in her life had a need or want for anything and here she was with absolutely nothing; well, until she got home.  It certainly gave her a taste as to what it was like for those who didn’t have anything at all for most of their lives. 

“Get off my property! I don’t help vagrants!  Do some honest work for once!” he yelled through the door.  

This shocked her a bit.  She never really interacted with the poorer people of Skyrim.  She came to realize how her life had truly kept her sheltered. She tried once more.

“Please, kind sir.  When I finally get home, I will repay you!” 

“Do you think me a fool, girl?  GET OFF MY PROPERTY!” he yelled through the door. 

She looked around the property and saw some clothes drying in the wind on the side of the house.  Surely, there is a shirt there for Kaidan to wear. The old man seemed almost big enough for Kaidan to wear one of his shirts.  Fine!   She went up to Kaidan and explained to him her plan.  

“Look, I don’t steal.  I’m not a criminal, but we have to get some clothes on you and we need to eat before we pass out.”  She looked at him with eyes begging him to not judge her. “I promise when I get home, I will compensate him.” 

“I understand.  Ok, let’s do this.  This is for our survival, right?”  He’s not really sure he would have been able to say no to those blue eyes had he wanted to.  

She nodded her head.  “Please go down the road there and wait behind that tree next to the lamppost.”  No point in getting them both caught.   

Ever so quietly, she started to sneak around to the side of the old farmer’s house.  Instead of going for the shirt first, she decided to grab a few carrots from his garden and a couple of chicken eggs.  So far so good. The grumpy old farmer hadn’t even noticed her, not realizing he was watching her out of his window.  

She then slowly and quietly walked up to the clothes drying, as soon as she started to grab the shirt, she heard, “STOP RIGHT THERE, MISSY!”  Slowly she turned around to see the old man with his pitchfork pointed right at her, smiling with his toothless grin.  

Without batting an eye, she grabbed a shirt and a dress then ran and ran.  She ran as fast as she could, back to where Kaidan was hiding. She knew the old man wouldn’t be able to run after her.  There was no way he could beat her youth and speed. Though, she still looked over her shoulder just to be sure. She did make a mental note to definitely compensate the old man when she returned home, as she promised him. 

She gave the clean shirt to Kaidan, which he put on while she went into the trees to put on the clean dress.  At least it wasn’t covered in blood and mud. His shirt was a bit tight and her dress was a bit big, but at least they were clean and he was no longer shirtless.  Not that she minded the shirtless part. She did notice his physique while they were walking today.  

She gave Kaidan a couple of carrots with an egg, surprised she hadn’t broken the eggs while running.  They stuffed the carrots in their mouths and washed them down with the raw egg. Eggs were better cooked, or better yet, baked in some sweet rolls, but it would have to do.  The bit of food gave them just enough energy to move on.  

It wasn’t the greatest heist in the history of heists, but it was enough and they could now make it to Ivarstead.

Chapter Text

After about three hours, they finally made it into Ivarstead.  Runa was experienced with spending a lot of time in the woods and camping, but she was never so relieved to see some sort of civilization and the potential to finally sleep in a real bed.  

Walking into town, they tried to find the blacksmith and see if he would be willing to purchase their Elven axe for a few Septim.  All they needed was a little meal, some mead, and a bed. That should tie them over until they headed out of town again in the morning. 

They finally found the blacksmith pounding away on his anvil.  The tinkling of the metal on metal always grated Runa’s teeth. It’s one of those sounds that gave her goosebumps.  

He had to be delicate here.  “Would you mind if I handled the negotiations?  I hate to say this, but I think the blacksmith will be more responsive to me...being a man.”

Her eyes narrowed, “Why does that matter?”

“Well, generally women aren’t knowledgeable with weapons and armor.  I know you clearly are, but...just please let me do this?”

She finally relented.  In the end, she just wanted a good enough price to cover their expenses for the evening.

Runa headed over to a bench nearby to wait.  When Kaidan returned 30 minutes later, he handed her all the Septims.  “Well,” she asked eagerly, “how much did he give us? You aren’t going to make me count all these are you?”   

“He gave us 150 Septims for it,” he said with a smile on his face. 

Runa was so relieved.  This was more than enough for our expenses and enough to buy some supplies on our way out of town!   They quickly hurried to Vilemyr Inn to rent a room and get some food.   

They talked to the innkeeper to rent two rooms but were informed that there was only one room available, but the bed should be large enough to hold them both.  They looked at each other, both blushing and agreed to pay the 45 Septims for it. It turned out the Inn also offered hot baths in a wooden tub. They each quickly bought a bath as well since they saved coin from buying one room. 

“You go first and I will grab you some food and some mead.  It will be here and ready for you by the time you get out,” Kaidan said.  

After dropping off their pack and armor in their room, Kaidan went to find them a place at a table while Runa went to the basement to have her bath drawn.  This is going to be wonderful getting clean again!

There was an old woman heating up water for her bath and they also offered some lavender-scented soap, which was a nice surprise.  Once the tub was filled, Runa stripped off her clothes and quickly got into the hot steaming water. She quickly washed her hair and body with soap and then laid back to relax a bit in the water as the steam soaked into her pours.  She started to fall asleep when the old woman shook her to inform her that her time was up.  

Back into her dress, she headed over to the looking glass and tried to fix her hair as best she could.  This time she decided to do a braid on the right side of her head. Her long wavy bangs fell on either side of her face, but mostly to the left.  Her hair usually frustrated her, but now she saw it as a way to cover up her wounds and future scars. Satisfied, she headed up the stairs, eager to eat a hearty meal. 

She saw Kaidan had ordered her some sort of meat pie and mead as he excused himself to go down and bathe.  She eagerly ate the meat pie. It was delicious, filled with rabbit, potatoes, and carrots in a flaky crust.  Then she cleansed her mouth with the mead. I feel almost normal again! 

When Kaidan was done with his bath, he headed over to the innkeeper for a special request.  He wanted to get Runa a sweet roll and two more tankards of mead. She had mentioned more than once how she loved them.  He sat down and presented her with the sweet roll and she looked at him wide-eyed. 

“Shor’s Beard!  How...how, did you know I love these?” she asked. 

“Oh, I don’t know.  You never mentioned it about 20 times while we were on the road,” he said with a smile, then laughed out loud watching her devour it. 

She blushed a bit.  “I certainly did NOT!” she said, uncharacteristically with her mouth full. 

“Yes, you’re right...it was 28 times,” he said, looking at her slyly. 

“Oh, now you are just teasing me,” she laughed.  “Well, well, well. Kaidan has a sense of humor. I was beginning to think you didn’t even know how to laugh,” she teased. 

“Hey, I know how to laugh.” 

“Ok, then, Mr. Sense of Humor.  Do you know any jokes?”  

“I know of them.”

“Do you actually know one?

“Urgh, OK...What do you get between a joke and a rhetorical question?” 

“I have no idea; what do you get?” 

“...” he just stared at her blankly and silently. 

“...?”  She raised an eyebrow.

“...” he continued to stare silently. 

Suddenly Runa burst out laughing.  

“I’m glad my joke didn’t run flat,” he said smiling.  

“Oh, no.  It certainly ran flat, my friend,” still laughing. 

“Then why are you laughing?” he asked. 

“It’s was the look on your face so hopeful that your joke was funny,” wiping away tears from laughter.  “I’m sorry, but I stand corrected, sir, you do have a sense of humor.” 

“Well, I would like to see you tell a joke, then.” 

“Oh no.  I don’t tell jokes.  My sense of humor is the more of the situational and spontaneous type.” 

After a while, she looked sheepishly at him when she realized she ate the whole sweet roll without sharing.  “I’m so very sorry, did you want some?” she said with her mouth full, eating the last bite.  

Laughing, “Don’t worry about it.  I’m glad you enjoyed it.” That was fun. He rarely got to laugh and it felt really good to do so. 

It was a wonderful evening full of good food, laughter, music, and mead.  Runa was starting to feel a little light-headed and tipsy from all the mead and decided she wanted to know more about her protector.  He was looking quite handsome with his clean-shaven face and clean hair pulled back into a half knot-type bun while letting the rest of his hair fall across his shoulders... and those red eyes!  

“So, Kaidan, where are you from?  You are certainly not a Nord. I have never seen eyes like that on any Nord,” she asked bluntly.  “My father forced me to read virtually all books across Skyrim, but not once did I ever hear a mention of someone like you.”  She stared at him with her chin resting on her hand. 

“No, I am not a Nord, though I do not know what I am for certain,” he said a bit uncomfortably. He didn’t like talking about himself.

“So, you don’t know who you are or what your race is at all?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. 

“No, I don’t know why I look the way I do, or who my family is or where I came from,” he said a bit overly defensive. 

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.  I just wanted to get to know you since we are traveling together.”  Feeling like she said something wrong, she looked away, taking another sip of mead. 

“No, it’s OK.  I...well, it’s why I’m here in Skyrim.  I set out to find more about my family and where I came from.  My travels led me here. I have been doing bounty work to help pay for my expenses.”

He pulled out his sword and handed it to her.  “The only clue I have is my sword and my sword is the reason I was captured by the Thalmor.”  There seems to be some sort of writing on my sword, something that gave the Thalmor much interest,” he continued.  

She looked closely at the beautiful curved sword. It had some strange markings all over it.  Clearly it was some sort of writing and it looked vaguely familiar to her, but she couldn’t quite place it. 

“I was walking to Winterhold College to see if they had any information as to what the writing was on my sword.  I don’t much care for mages, but Winterhold College is well known to have the biggest library in Skyrim, maybe in all of Tamriel.  If anyone knew, they would.

One early evening I came across a couple of Thalmor while walking in my travels.  I paid no mind to them and kept on walking, but they appeared to have great interest in me.  They stopped me and said that my sword was very interesting and could they look at it. I thanked them, but told them no and moved on my way.  That night at camp, I was ambushed by several Thalmor. They must have followed me and waited until they could take my sword. They had me bound before I could do anything, by using some sort of paralysis spell on me.” 

“So, it was your sword they were interested in?  Do you know why?” 

“No, not until later.  It took about two days to travel bound to the abandoned prison.  There they...tortured me and beat me to get answers about my sword for who knows how long.  Answers I didn’t have. They didn’t believe me and beat me more. They mentioned something about dragons returning and my sword had some connection to that, I don’t know.  I was delirious half the time. And, well, you know the rest of the story,” he finished. He sipped his mead suddenly looking angry.

“I’m so very sorry, Kai.”   'Kai'  he liked that.  He softened a bit then.  No one ever called him Kai before.  Maybe his mother would have, once upon a time. “So, now you need to find the meaning of your sword to help you find out where you come from, is that correct?” she asked. 

“Aye, that is the lot of it.  I really believe if I find out more about my sword, I might find who my mother was and where I came from.  She was the one who left me this sword. I never knew her and my sword is the only connection to her I have.” 

She looked at him deeply for what seemed like a long time then she stood up to sit next to him.  “I can help you. Let me help you find out about your sword and your mother. I have some Septims at home and lots and lots of books.  Maybe we can find some information together. I have no plans, you know, beyond getting home.” The sudden thought of her being alone made her visibly upset.  

He looked at her seeing pain in her eyes.  “Hey, are you OK?”

She recovered and just nodded her head.  “Seriously, I can do this. Let me help.”

He looked closely at her.  Her dress was too loose on the top because she couldn’t tie her corset due to her stomach wound.  He could see the porcelain soft skin of her cleavage and wanted so much to just reach out and touch it to see if it was as soft as it looked.  

For her to offer this to me was too much.   He could never ask her to do such a thing, but it made him so drawn to her, more so than he was before. Or, maybe it was all the mead he had, it was hard to tell.  His head was slightly spinning.  

He did end up reaching out, but only to gently move her long wavy bangs out of her face and tuck the hair behind her ear.  He then gently touched her face where the wounds were already healing. She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch. “You are so...”  

Then he suddenly stopped himself, “No, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”  He abruptly went to stand up and she instantly grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. 

They looked intensely at each other for what seemed a long time before he finally looked away.  They were both straddling the bench when Runa started to move slowly closer to him. Her head was swimming from all the mead and but she didn't want to stop so, she kept moving forward and he didn’t try to stop her either.  

She kept inching closer and stopped when their faces were only inches apart.  He could feel her breath on his face; it smelled of sugar and mead, and that scent of intoxicating lavender made him close his eyes.  He inhaled deeply as he moved his face closer to her to kiss her... 

No, I can’t do this.  I shouldn’t do this.   He stopped himself and got up to informed her they should go to sleep now.  It was getting late and that he would sleep on the floor so that she could have the bed. 

In the room with the door locked and most of the crowd had moved on home, Runa faced Kaidan.  “What was that, Kia?” She was clearly frustrated. “I don’t appreciate the back and forth ‘should I, shouldn’t I’.”

He scratched his head in frustration, messing up his hair.  “I...I don’t know. It’s the sugar and lavender and, and...I am just tired,” he sighed. “I would like to not talk any more if that’s OK.”  He sat down on the only chair in the room, deflated. 

“Alright, we don’t have to talk. I can clearly see you are frustrated.  But I am going to make you do one thing you’re probably not going to like.  You are not sleeping on the floor.  There is enough room in the bed for both of us.  After all we have been through, we both deserve a comfortable bed to sleep in for at least one night.  Please?” 

He nodded his head to show he reluctantly agreed.  She crawled into the bed on one side and he on the other.  Runa drew the fur covers around her, rolled onto her left side facing him and quickly fell asleep from all the exertion of the past couple of days and too much mead swimming in her head.  

Kaidan had no such luck.  He lay there in bed smelling her lavender skin and watching her sleep.  Her face was starting to show signs of light freckles from being out in the sun.  It was adding to her beauty, not taking away. What am I doing?!  I can’t get close to her.   It wasn’t fair for her and wasn’t fair for him.  They barely knew each other. Besides, by how she talks, it appears she is wealthy, at least more than he is.  I would never be good enough for her.   

Blissful sleep finally took ahold of him as he slept a deep, dreamless sleep for the first time in weeks.

Chapter Text

Runa awoke in the early morning hours to Kaidan sleeping on his side facing her.  She stared at him for a very long time listening to him lightly breathe and looking at his unique features.  

She lifted her hand and started to lightly trace his shoulder and down his arm with her fingertips, her eyes following her fingers going over the tight lumps of his muscles.  It certainly didn’t take long for her to be drawn to him. She was a bit worried about this and thought it might have been all the mead from last night, but she woke up this morning clear-headed.  

She had only known him for about three days now and the situation into which they were thrust might have been part of it.  She was naive in the ways of attraction and love, but knew enough to know she didn’t want to fall for her ‘protector’ just because he was her ‘protector.’  But she couldn’t deny there was something between them both. She knows he sees it too, catching him looking at her in a certain way a couple of times. She looked back to his face, shocked to realize he was watching her.  Quickly, she removed her hand, blushing deeply. 

“I...I...” she didn’t know what to say, blushing. 

Still looking at her with a very slight smile and sleepy eyes said, “you snore, you know.” 

Blushing all the more deeply, she quickly got up and started rummaging around the room, not sure what to do as long as he wasn’t staring at her.  She was so embarrassed and her face was on fire. Finally, she decided she needed to find the privy and left the room as quickly as she could.  

This made Kai smile all the more.  He tried not to laugh because he knew that would embarrass her even more.  He wasn’t that cruel. 

**********

After breakfast, they bought some food and a few supplies for the road.  They had a few Septims left to save in case they needed it and headed back out for their long journey.  As they headed out, looking up in the sky, she knew their nice weather might not hold out. Growing up in Skyrim, she knew that the weather could turn quickly into a bitter snowstorm or a torrential downpour. 

Leaving Ivarstead they headed South then they would cut over through the mountain pass heading East to Helgen.  Kaidan noted the gray clouds in the sky with dread, dampening his mood. He hoped it wasn’t going to rain or snow because then they would have to find some sort of shelter and delay their journey even further. 

Not an hour had gone by before they saw the fall of the first few snowflakes.  Dammit.  They quickened their pace to make it as far as they could before they had to find shelter.  The temperature was also getting much colder so, they stopped for a second to pull out two furs to wrap around themselves.

After two hours into their journey, the snow was falling heavily with no signs of letting up and the road was quickly being covered by the falling snow.  As quickly as they could, they started to search for some signs of shelter like a cave or an abandoned tent. It didn’t take too long to stumble to an old shack, much to their relief.  

They knocked on the door, not knowing if anyone lived there or not.  No answer. They tried one more time, but still, no one came to the door.  Kaidan didn’t hesitate when he used his strong shoulder to burst the door open.  The shack looked to be abandoned and it may have once belonged to a mage for there were jars of herbs and other ingredients on some rickety shelves along with an old alchemy table tucked in the corner.  But there were no personal effects to indicate that anyone lived there any longer. 

Kaidan didn’t hesitate to start a fire as the temperature had started to freeze.  The small abandoned shack didn’t take long to warm up from the heat of the fire. They didn’t need to eat since they ate not that long ago, so they sat in a couple of old chairs by the fire to get warm.  

The mage left behind a few books, so Runa and Kaidan each grabbed one to read so as to pass the time.  Runa read “Herbalist’s Guide to Skyrim” by Agneta Falia, something her father made her read several times over already.  Kaidan read “De Rerum Dirennis” by Vorian Direnni. Apparently, our friend the mage was an alchemist.  He didn’t get to read very often but found this particular book boring, so he set it aside and just watched her read instead. 

She didn’t notice him watching her as she was mainly using her book to hide and not have to face what happened this morning.  He didn’t seem to mind not talking about it as he had yet to mention anything, but she was still embarrassed.  

As nighttime approached and darkness crept in, it was clear the snow was not going to ease up anytime soon, so Kaidan started lighting the few candles left behind giving the small house a warm glow.  Runa took the opportunity to pull out a few items of food they bought at the inn to eat and some mead to drink for dinner. She handed Kaidan a cold slice of meat pie wrapped in some waxed cloth and a bottle of mead while she too ate a slice of meat pie. 

They decided to go to sleep early so they could get an early start in the morning as long as it stopped snowing heavily.  Snowing lightly would be fine. They realized the bed was smaller than the bed at the Inn.  

“You take it, I can sleep on the floor or in one of the chairs,” Kaidan insisted. 

“Nonsense, we can squeeze in here.  It will be fine. Besides, we can use our body heat to keep us warm tonight,” she suggested.  

She really didn’t have some other motives for this.  She was still very embarrassed by what happened this morning and just wanted them to be warm.  It would be very cold in the morning when the fire went out. 

Reluctantly he agreed though he wondered if he would be able to stop himself this time being so close to her.  He had been thinking a lot about the way she looked at him and touched him this morning. He teased her then, but he had enjoyed it.

They crawled into the small bed and draped several furs over themselves.  It was so small, he had to wrap her in his arms around her as she draped her legs over his so they wouldn’t fall out of the bed.  Well, this will certainly keep us warm.  And, damn, she still has that faint smell of lavender.   

Her hair was all in her face, as usual, so he moved the thick wavy strands out of her eyes so he could look into them.  He could get lost in those light turquoise eyes.  

She looked at him back, no longer embarrassed, but for some reason, she felt her stomach flutter a lot.  She wasn’t sure what that meant, but it didn’t feel bad either. Being snuggled in with him stirred something in her.  

He moved his lips close to her face and kissed her forehead.  He told himself it was just to say goodnight, but he knew that was a lie.  He knew holding her like this, he would have a hard time resisting her.  

She closed her eyes and he moved his lips down to lightly kiss the tip of her nose.  This made her smile a bit, her eyes still closed, which made him smile too. He slowly started to move down to her chin and planted a kiss there too.  Then over to her dimpled right cheek, kissing it.  

Her stomach was really fluttering now causing her to breathe a little faster and her heart pump a little harder.  She could also feel her hands getting sweaty. She had never been kissed before, but she knew she didn’t want him to stop.  Her eyes were still closed and her lips parted for the inevitable...

Chapter Text

Suddenly they heard a loud crash causing them both to bolt out of bed to see what happened.  Thoughts were rushing through Runa’s head thinking a bear got in or the wind blew the door open but those thoughts quickly turned to dread when she saw four bandits enter the little shack. 

Kaidan, with his quick reflexes, rushed to get his sword but not before one of the bandits drew his blade against Kaidan’s throat.  ”Tsk, tsk, tsk. I don’t think so,” said one of the bandits. He had yellowed teeth, some of which were missing and a scraggly long dark beard.   

Runa, inched as far back as she could against the wall.  She needed to get a clear head and steady her heart to think about what they need to do to get out of this situation.  But finding only fear and adrenaline coursing through her.

“Here I was thinking this shack was all abandoned for me and my friends when come to find you two lying here all peaceful like.  And, my mind thought, I bet they have some nice shiny things they wouldn’t mind sharing with the rest of us here.” The bandit grinned at Runa with his disgusting teeth.  The rest of his friends laughed along all with swords drawn.  

The bandit talking must be their leader.  “And, I think I will take that, thank you,” as he grabbed Kaidan’s sword, whistling.  “Look here boys, we got ourselves a fancy sword.”  

Tossing the sword to one of his buddies, he grabbed Kaidan to lift him up to stand while keeping the knife closely at his throat.  He then had Kaidan with one arm pulled tightly behind his back and the knife still to his throat. Runa saw there was some blood dripping down his throat knowing Kaidan had already been cut and knew that this bandit was serious. 

One of the other bandits suddenly drew his attention over to her.  He was greasy and dirty with teeth just as disgusting. His hair was balding, but long and stringy where he still had hair. 

“Oh boys, looks like we will also have some entertainment for tonight.  Nothing like some good entertainment for cold evenings.” Runa’s heart was pumping too hard and fast.  She wanted to shrink and make herself as small as possible, but she knew enough of the world that their form of entertainment would be raping her.  She was not about to let that happen or die trying. 

Kaidan was about to move to kill them all, but the bandit holding him held fast.  Kaidan had several different scenarios running through his head about what they planned to do with Runa and none of them bode well.  I need to find a way to get out of this and kill them all!  

He was so angry and he had to force himself to breathe to get it under control so he could think clearly.  But he just couldn’t move right now; the knife was just too close to his throat and he wouldn’t be able to help her if he’s dead.  So, he held fast waiting for any opportunity to get out of this. 

He could see the anger and tears in Runa’s eyes, which made him even angrier...Breathe. Breathe and wait.   

"There is always an opportunity to get out of tough situations, but you have to have a clear head and control your emotions, boy,”  Brynjar used to tell him when they would spar with swords.  Kaidan would get so frustrated that Brynjar won every time.  

As Stringy Hair, Runa had taken to calling him, approached her she started to shrink away, which made all the bandits start howling with laughter.  She was so angry and it was making her tear up, which made her even angrier. Stringy Hair approached her closely, grabbed some of her hair roughly and started to sniff deeply.  She could smell his stink, which made her nauseous.   

“Mmmm, this one here smells mighty good, boys.”  At that moment he roughly grabbed Runa up and threw her on the bed.  He was a lot stronger than he looked. She started to fight and claw at him while he tore open the top of her dress spilling out her full breasts.  Then just as quickly he was on top of her lifting her skirts and pulling out his hard cock. 

No, no, no!!!  Stop!!

“NO! I WILL KILL YOU!” Kaidan growled loudly when he saw what the bandit was doing to Runa.  He had never felt so helpless in all his life and he couldn’t imagine how Runa was feeling right then.  

“Oh, you aren’t going to do any such thing.  You are going to watch us take turns having fun with your girl here.”

The other bandits started laughing at Kaidan’s outburst, but one thing he noticed was the knife on his throat started to ease up as the bandit leader got distracted by Runa’s assault. 

Before Stringy Hair could penetrate Runa, Stringy Hair suddenly found himself flying in the air as if by magic and his body slamming hard against the wooden walls before his lights went out.  His body was broken bones; dead. She didn't hesitate to pull out her dagger from her belt and instantly lunged at the next bandit closest to her. She screamed, jumped on top of him and repeatedly stabbed him in the throat. 

This was all Kaidan needed to get out of the hold the bandit leader had on him.  Both the bandit leader and the remaining bandit were left standing in shock, their jaws completely open.  It would have been comical in any other situation.  

Kaidan used the back of his head to smash the bandit leader’s nose, twisted his body quickly while disarming him of his knife and threw it at the remaining bandit right in the eye causing him to fall to his death.  Meanwhile, Kaidan had the bandit leader in such a strong chokehold, he slowly lifted him in the air and angrily squeezed the life out of him, growling loudly. He let go and let the dead bandit leader crumble to the ground. 

He rushed over to Runa who was still stabbing the second bandit on the floor.  She couldn’t seem to stop herself. “Shhhh. Shhhh. It’s over now, Runa. It’s over,” he said delicately.  He gently pulled the dagger from her grasp, pulled the torn and bloodied top of her dress over her shoulders and closed it as best he could.  He then pulled her toward him and held her for as long as she would let him. She was so stiff and wouldn’t move or say anything. After a few moments, she finally melted into his arms and just started sobbing and sobbing.   

What was that shout she did?  How did she throw the bandit off of her with that noise?  He had so many questions, but it was going to have to wait. 

She found herself unable to stop sobbing.  Everything that had happened to her the past several days tore down her delicate walls she so intricately built up and just cried.  The loss of her father and brothers, her prison escape, Kaidan almost choking her to death, being stabbed, nearly drowned, almost dying of exposure, then the attempted rape and sexual assault...all it.  

She let him hold her, though she didn’t know why.  She didn’t want anyone to touch her at that moment, but she just couldn’t move.  The sobbing was too much and she was gasping for breath. She would have crumbled to the ground had Kaidan not been holding her up. 

What just happened to her and her meltdown was tearing at Kaidan.  He swallowed hard, unable to imagine what she was feeling right now.  All he knew was that he had to hold her and he didn’t want to ever let go.

********** 

The little shack was a gory mess.  But they also couldn’t leave just yet as the snowstorm was still going on.  After he removed and dumped the bodies outside to let the animals feast on, he managed to salvage a couple of furs that had minimal blood on them.  He laid one down on the floor next to the fire and went back to Runa.  

“Runa?”  She just looked at the fire from her chair, not responding to him.  She was done crying for now, but he needed to get those bloody clothes off of her and wash them.  She was not going to want to continue to wear that dress covered with the blood her assaulters, he knew that much.  

He squatted down to look up at her in the eyes and asked, “Do you trust me?”  Looking down at him teary-eyed she nodded her head. “I need you to get out of this dress and clean you up, OK?  Then I will wash the dress for you as best I can. Can we do that?” She nodded so lightly he barely saw the movement.  

Not knowing how this was all going to work, she just stood up, slipped the dress off her shoulders and let it fall to the floor.   Quickly, he draped the fur around her shoulders and covered her up as best he could and moved her on the floor in front of the fire to keep warm.  She was shivering uncontrollably and he wasn’t sure if it was from the cold or what just happened to her; or both. 

Kaidan found an old large pot and filled it with snow.  Hanging it over the fire, he let the snow melt and heat up enough so it wasn’t too hot.  He poured some of the warm water into a bucket and brought it over to Runa with an old piece of cloth.  Getting the cloth wet, he started to gently wipe away the blood off of her face, but she grabbed his hand for him to stop.  “I can do it,” she whispered and set out to clean the blood from her body.  

He nodded, grabbing her dress and threw it into the pot along with his own tunic, which got covered in blood when he held her.  With the now boiling water, he let their clothes soak out the blood. Pulling out their clothes with a large stick, he let them cool down a bit and started to scrub as best he could.  There was no soap, so they weren’t going to be the cleanest. After he was done scrubbing, they were still stained, but it wasn’t obvious the stains were blood and hung them up over one of the chairs by the fire to dry.  He then set out to clean up the blood on the floor and walls as much as he could. 

When he was done, he handed her a bottle of mead.  “Would you like a drink?”   

She shook her head no.  So, he sat down with her in front of the fire and quickly drank a full bottle of mead in just a few gulps from all the stress and nerves.  He opened the one she didn’t want and took more time drinking the second one. What do I do now?   Keeping busy cleaning made him feel like he was accomplishing something; being useful, but now he felt completely useless. 

She was done cleaning herself and just sat there staring at the fire.  Her fur started to slip off her shoulder, so Kaidan gently moved it back.  What was wrong with me!  Surely, I can think of something to say to her.  Something wise or...just anything.  He was worried he would say the wrong thing.  He did have a lot of questions, but he knew enough to know it wasn’t the time.  

After a while, the guilt just tore at him and he finally spoke up.  “I’m so sorry I let you down, Runa. I was too slow and wasn’t able to react fast enough.”  

She finally turned away from the fire and looked at him with tears pooling down her face again.  She reached out to gently touched his face. “You are my hero. You have saved me many times over now.  And, here at first, I thought I could actually get home on my own.”  

After a long silence, she said, “No, it’s not just what happened to me tonight that has me the way I am, though it is a big part of it.  Everything just came crashing down...and, and I think there is something wrong with me...”

Chapter Text

Her mother died giving birth to Runa.  Runa was a surprise as her mother thought she was too old to have any more children.  Her body just couldn’t take the four birth and the night Runa was born was one of the worst storms of the year.  When she came into the world, her mother couldn’t stop bleeding and there were no healers that could make it out on time to save her mother, thus giving her the name Runa Storm-Bringer.  So, Runa grew up motherless and was raised by her father and three brothers who never faulted her for their mother’s death. They all loved sweet Runa.  

All she knew about her mother was that she was exceptional with a bow and taught all her sons how to hunt, just like her father did before her.  And, that Runa looked just like her. Her father, Ivar Bjornson, was a mage and he came from a long line of wealth. He was also one of the main advisers of the arcane to the Emperor himself.  Obviously, he wasn’t much of a hunter, but he was a world traveler. He met her mother during one of his trips. Though she did not come from wealth and their marriage was a story full of gossip and talk, they loved each other very much.  Their two different backgrounds led to their children being raised differently than most who came from wealth. 

Her brother Balen was 15 years old already when Runa was born.  He was the eldest of her three brothers. Baldr came next at age 12 and the youngest brother was Tabor, who as 10.  All three vowed to take care of their youngest sister and make sure she would grow up to be a strong Nord. They had servants to care for Runa, but the brothers never hesitated to help feed her, change her, play with her and hold her. 

Balen was the best with a bow and dagger, so he would regularly take Runa out to hunt small game as soon as she could hold up a bow. He wanted to teach her what their mother taught him.  Runa was a quick study growing up to be an extremely good marksman; almost as good as their mother. She didn’t like the close and personal dagger at all, but Balen trained her anyway.  

“You never know when you might need that dagger, Runa.  One day you will find you are too close to your enemy to pull up your bow and shoot on time.  You will be thankful you have that dagger.”

Baldr was the only mage of the three brothers.  He obviously took after their father. His dream was to end up studying from the greatest mages of all time at the Winterhold College.  In the meantime, his father trained him as best he could when he wasn’t working or traveling. Runa wasn’t a mage, but regular people could learn a spell or two, so Baldr taught Runa the basics like the Flame spell and Frostbite spell.  

“You may find yourself one day without any weapons; at least you will have your hands to fend off an enemy.  With fire, you can burn them. With frostbite, you can freeze them long enough to either kill them or get away.”  

Tabor, the youngest brother was exceptional at dual-wielding one-handed weapons.  He may have been the youngest, but he was the biggest of the three when they were all grown. He had her practicing on straw-filled dummies almost daily until she built up enough muscle to handle the two weapons at once.  She was never big enough or strong enough to wield a great-sword. He also trained her in one-handed weapons while using her spell casting with the other hand.  

“You will really surprise your enemy when you pull out two weapons.  They will have a hard time fighting two of you instead of one. A shield is great protection, but it is cumbersome.  The two weapons will allow for more agility.”  

All her years of training with her brothers had made her an exceptional fighter, and not just compared to women, but compared to many men as well.  But they didn’t just train her, they all loved each other too. They had a load of happy adventures, explorations, pranks, laughter as well as typical sibling fighting.  

Her father was the one who educated her.  Making her read every single morning after breakfast and before bed.  She read everything from gardening healing plants to history to fictional stories and riddle books.  Some books were more interesting than others and there were days she would have rather taken her wooden sword and practiced sword fighting instead of reading.  She must have complained a lot because her father lectured her all the time about the need to keep her mind sharp and focused.  

“One day you will find yourself in a tough situation that you can’t get out of and your intelligent mind will be the only weapon you have.”  

By the time she was 15, her father hired a woman to come live with them and teach her the ways of being a lady and how to properly groom.  Her brothers had moved on to find adventures of their own, make their own home or find marriage. Her father wasn’t quite ready to marry her off, but he wanted to make sure she was a lady and not just one of the boys.  Runa resisted at first. She didn’t want to learn to do her hair or how to make perfumed soap or sew.  

“Runa, you will need to learn to take care of your body.  Beauty can be power. One day you will find yourself in a situation where you will need to use your beauty to sway others to help you.”   

Alva soon became a close confidant and someone Runa could talk to about things she just couldn’t talk about with her brothers.  Eventually, she came to love Alva almost as much as a mother. 

Runa was so lost in her story about her family and how she was raised, she didn’t even notice how close Kaidan was sitting and that he was holding her hand, gently rubbing her fingertips.  She also hadn’t noticed light tears running down her face.  

“Something bad happened, didn’t it, Runa?”  All she did was slightly nod. 

It was hard to believe it was only about a week ago that she lost her family.  There had been reports of some flying monster close to Helgen. Her father couldn’t believe it and wanted to see if the stories were true.  He called in his sons and they all made plans for “the adventure of a lifetime,” her father called it. “It has to be a dragon! They have returned!” he said. 

No one believed him because dragons were long extinct, some believing they were only legends.  But everyone was eager to have the family reunited and go on another one of their adventures. They packed up for a short trip as Helgen was only a few days from Whiterun.  Her father hired several guards and servants to help carry all the supplies they needed and protect them during their trip. Runa waved goodbye to Alva, who stayed behind, as they headed out to find themselves a dragon.   

She was so excited just to see her brothers again.  It had been almost a year since she saw any of them and she missed them terribly.  Her brothers saw she had grown up to be a beautiful young woman and were glad they had spent as much time training her as they did.  They told her she was going to have to fend off a lot of suitors since they wouldn’t be there to protect her.  

But most of the noblemen she met were quite intimidated by her, so rarely was she approached or any one of them shown any interest in her at all. 

After three days, they reached Helgen.  It was an old town run by the Imperials.  Her father stated excitedly that not only were there sightings of a dragon, but the Imperials had actually caught Ulfric Stormcloak, the Bear of Markarth himself and leader of the Stormcloak Rebellion!  

Runa wasn’t heavy into politics, but she knew her father was.  He was a big supporter of the Empire. Though her father sympathized with the Nords and their loss of their god, Talos, he also felt it was a good compromise to keep the peace.  Though secretly, they did still worship the Nine, not the Eight. Besides, the Stormcloaks were heavily racist, treating the Dunmer especially horribly and keeping them in terrible living conditions in the city of Windhelm where Ulfric was the Jarl.  

“This is a nation of many races and that is never going to change, so we all have to try to live together in peace.”  

After finally reaching Helgen, her father met with some of the Imperial leaders asking about the dragon and Ulfric.  They confirmed there had been signs of a dragon nearby. They also informed her father that they were about to execute Ulfric Stormcloak if he and his family would like to stay and watch.  He agreed and let his family know that they were about to witness the final end to the rebellion.

The soldiers pulled Ulfric out of his cell and Runa could see they had his mouth strangely tied up.  Runa watched the bear of a man in noble clothes holding his head high and preparing for his death and entry into Sovngarde.  As the soldiers had Ulfric kneel and put his head into the block, there was suddenly a loud roar and huge fiery explosions! It all happened so fast that Runa just stood there frozen. 

A dragon had landed on top of one of the towers and started blasting the Imperial soldiers with fire!  Runa’s father shouted at her to run, which finally mobilized her. They all ran out of the entry gate and straight to where his guards and servants set up camp for them, hoping the dragon wouldn’t follow.  

There were several Thalmor Justiciar that followed them to the camp to escape instead of helping to fight the dragon.  Cowards!   Runa could hear the dragon roaring and screaming as it was being shot with arrow after arrow, and men screaming from being burned alive.  Runa covered her ears from the horrible noise. She had never been so terrified in her life! Suddenly, there was silence. The dragon was finally dead.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and they all sat down shakily to relax. 

That is when all Oblivion broke loose.  It wasn’t the failed execution or the dragon.  Runa started to feel this pulling and pushing sensation, and was surrounded by some sort of light.  It felt like something entered her very soul. She stood up looking at her hands as they started to glow, panicking a little.  Everyone was staring at her in shock. It wasn’t just her hands glowing; her whole body was glowing. Then it suddenly stopped just as quickly as it began.   

Everyone was still looking at her and watching her.   The Thalmor were especially staring at her with these knowing looks in their eyes.  They simply just turned around and started slaughtering everyone on sight by using their powerful magic.  They killed everyone from the servants to the guards without so much as a thought.  

Her brothers weren’t so easy to take down, but one by one they fell.  Runa was in so much shock she could barely remember the details...she didn’t want to remember the details.  It has to be a nightmare; it isn't real.   When suddenly she just started shouting “Fus” at the Thalmor.  It just happened and she couldn’t control it, but her shout sent them flying into the air.  Then she was hit from behind and blacked out.  

“And, you know the rest of my story.  I wasn’t sure what the Thalmor wanted from me or why I was still alive until I thought about what happened to me after the dragon died.  Ever since then I have tried to put up a wall. If I thought about my brothers and father, I would break. I had to try to be strong so we could survive.  I did finally break tonight.  

I didn’t even help them, Kai. I just stood there in shock.  All I could do was a stupid useless shout thing that ended up putting me in prison and they died anyway!”  

Tears were streaming down her face again. She couldn’t bring herself to meet Kaidan’s eyes.  She was so ashamed and had such a profound sense of loss and guilt, she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to recover from it. 

“All this time, I had no idea how much you were suffering.  I could see the pain in your eyes from time to time, but I didn’t know it was something this horrible.”  He was still holding her hand and staring at the fire.  

After a while he explained, “If you had picked up a sword or a bow, you would have definitely been dead too.  You know that right? There was nothing you could have done. If the Thalmor could kill your brothers, they would have killed you too.  Your shout is what saved you.” He wasn’t sure if he was helping or making things worse. He didn’t have much experience in such things, but he was not wrong. 

“You don’t think I’m...I’m some sort of freak?” she asked, looking at him with begging eyes that he didn’t see her that way. 

He looked her right in the eyes and said, “No, you are no freak.  There is a reason or purpose behind what happened to you. Hopefully, we can find the answer to that.  I find it interesting, though, that you and I were both in prison for relatively the same reasons; dragons.” 

“I should have died with them.  Maybe it’s better than feeling all this pain.” 

She covered her face with her hands and started sobbing again.  He decided to move her close to him and put his arm around her for comfort.  

“Then I would never have met you.”  

She didn’t say anything to that.  She knew he was just trying to help and as much as she liked Kaidan, she would rather have her family back.   

After a while, she put her head on his shoulder.  The day was too much and he soon found Runa had fallen asleep on his shoulder.  He lifted her up, careful to not open the furs and laid her on the bed and let her sleep.  He moved to the chair, wrapped the other fur around his shoulders and kept watch over the rest of the night until morning.

Chapter Text

She woke up early to the sun shining which meant it had stopped snowing.  They could start their journey again. The memories of last night came flooding back again as she choked back a sob.  No more, Runa.  Not now. It’s time to get ready and get back home.  

She was eager to get out of this shack.  She suddenly realized that Kai was not in the bed with her and started to panic looking around for him.  It certainly didn't take long for her to get used to his presence. Then she saw him wrapped in furs sleeping in a chair by the dying fire.   

She just sat in bed staring at him for a while.  He looked cold and so tense with furrowed eyebrows, even in sleep, and wondered if he had been awake most of the night watching over her.  Knowing him as little as she did, she knew that would be very much like him.  

He jolted awake suddenly, looking around dazed and then feeling guilty he had fallen asleep.  He was supposed to have stayed awake to guard the place until they were ready to leave. He was so very tired and tense, quickly rubbing his face and the stiffness out of his neck.  

He could see Runa was awake just sitting in bed watching him.  She looked so tired and her eyes were swollen from the night before.  Not really knowing what to say to her, he got up to get some food for both of them to eat before they started their long hike.  After finding some crusty bread and cheese in their bag, he handed them to Runa who just shook her head indicating she wasn’t hungry.   

“You need to eat, Runa.  It’s a long walk and you will need your strength.”  

“I just can’t eat right now.  My stomach feels like it won’t hold anything down anyway.  I will try to eat later when we take a break,” she promised and he reluctantly agreed.   

“Very well, but you must eat then.”  

It didn’t take long for them to head out as they had very little belongings.  The morning was very cold and the snow was several inches deep, but it was sunny and clear.  The snow wasn’t deep enough to impede their long walk, so they both agreed they would try to walk the whole 8 hours it would take to get to Helgen.  

The old town was due East from their current location, so they walked off the beaten path straight to Helgen.  Straight to the very place of Oblivion for Runa. Straight to where she lost everything dear to her. She was crying again wondering once they got there, how she was going to handle it. 

Kaidan wasn’t a big talker usually for he was used to being alone and used to the silence.  But the silence between him and Runa was deafening to him. They haven’t spoken a word to each other for the past couple of hours.  His mind was completely blank in what to say to her but also worried if he said anything, it would be the wrong thing. He wasn’t good at this comforting thing.  Brynjar never comforted Kaidan growing up.  

“I’m not going to hold your hand when you get hurt, boy.  You have got to learn to pick yourself back up when you fall down,”  Brynjar would say.  There wasn’t much love there, but he knew Brynjar did the best he could in raising him and he was thankful for how Brynjar prepared him for this violent world. 

**********

After about 4 hours of walking in silence, they ran into a camp of Stormcloaks.  Runa was suddenly nervous because of her father’s allegiance to the Imperials, so she hoped no one would know who she was or who her father was.  None of them seemed to pay any mind to them while Kaidan asked if they could settle in their camp for about an hour while they used their fire to warm up.  They kindly agreed.  

Runa and Kaidan settled down on some sawn logs in front of the fire to get warm and have some bread and cheese.  He could see Runa’s slight nervousness, much to his understanding after hearing her story last night. But she seemed to relax after getting warm and eating a bit of food.  She promised him that morning she would eat, but she barely nibbled at the bread. She also looked very tired with her eyes still swollen; looking very alone. 

To Oblivion with it.   He just headed over to where Runa was sitting, sat down next to her and put his arm around her.  He didn’t care if she rejected him or not, he just needed to do something, anything. But she didn’t reject him as she leaned into him and put her head on his shoulder like she did last night when they were sitting in front of the fire.  Knowing now he made the right decision, he let out his breath, not realizing he was holding it and rubbed his hand gently around her shoulder. 

There was an older soldier sitting across the fire also eating a light meal while watching them.  He had this wistful smile on his face.

“Ah, I miss those days of being in love.  Oh, I am still happily married, don’t get me wrong, but those beginnings of love were the best,” he told them.  “Don’t ever let these moments go, you will need them to carry you through the years of ups and downs.”  

Kaidan couldn’t see Runa’s smile, so he didn’t know what she was thinking about what the old soldier said since they were not really together like that nor in love, but he also didn’t correct the soldier.  He didn’t want to have to explain what they had been through the past few days. 

Before they headed out again, Kaidan wanted to get his sword sharpened by the Stormcloak blacksmith.  They had a few Septim left that he could give the blacksmith in return. Once Nodachi, his sword, was gleaming and could cut a hair in half lengthwise, Kaidan tried to pay the man, but the blacksmith refused.  He told him not to worry about it; that it was his pleasure to work on such a beautiful sword. Kaidan was grateful and realized that with all the bad rap the rebellion had received, they were still just regular people fighting for something they believed in.  In their eyes, they are trying to do the right thing, even if people disagreed with what the right thing was. 

An hour later and feeling rested, they continued on their journey.  There was still a lot of silence between them, but Kaidan wasn’t feeling as bad about it for he knew he had found a way to comfort Runa earlier, even if he used no words.  She would be ready to talk again eventually and until that time, he wouldn’t pressure her to do so. 

**********

Both of their ears perked up when they suddenly heard some growling.  They knew their peaceful journey was about to come to an end. It was quiet for a second before they heard another growl from the other direction.  Bears, shit!   One bear, they could probably handle; two is another story.  If they can’t get by the bears, they were going to have to fight them off, and in their condition, it was going to be very risky.  

He saw Runa had instinctively pulled out his bow and nocked an arrow to have ready, then bent down to a crouch.  She had the same thoughts as he did; that they should sneak their way through. The difficult part is knowing where the bears were exactly and what direction they should move. 

Kaidan quietly pulled out his sword, having it ready, as they both moved as stealthily as they could so as to not draw attention to themselves.  All seemed quiet for now, so they continued to press on slowly until they were certain it was safe.  

That’s when Runa heard some heavy pounding on the ground behind her and before she could turn around and shoot, the huge bear was on top of her slashing at her back.  She fell face down, while her arrow shot went wild and her bow landed in the snow. If she didn’t have the backpack on, her back would have been torn wide open. The pack was destroyed, which probably saved her life.  She scrambled quickly for her dagger in her belt before the bear attacked again hearing Balen’s words about needing daggers loudly in her head. 

Kaidan could see Runa get knocked down from behind by the bear and yelled, “NO!”  But, as he was heading over to help her, the second bear caught his scent and headed straight for Kaidan.  Kaidan readied his sword and slashed at the bear before the bear could get him. His blade met its mark, but Skyrim bears were massive and strong.  It would take more than one blow with a sword to bring it down, no matter how good the sword was.  

The bear was circling Kaidan trying to find the right moment to attack again, roaring at him.  It didn’t take long before the bear lunged at him with fierce claws. Kaidan danced quickly backward as the bear’s claws barely missed his abdomen.  He slashed with his sword in a downward thrust into the bear’s neck, which brought the bear down, but didn’t kill it. As the bear tried to get up, Kaidan slashed and slashed at the bear’s neck until it finally stopped moving. 

Kaidan didn’t stop for a second before running over to help Runa.  But the bear that attacked her was now dead as well. She had managed to find her dagger in time as the bear was on top of her.  She stabbed the bear repeatedly while twisting and turning away from the bear’s blows. The final blow came when she shoved the dagger into the bear’s ear.  She rolled away just in time before the bear fell to the ground, which would have crushed her.  

Kaidan helped her up and did a quick check to make sure the blood on her was the bear’s and not hers.   

“I’m OK. STOP! Get off! I’m OK!”  She yelled, pushing him off of her.  She brushed the snow off of her and looked down at her ruined dress.  She couldn’t wait to get the disgusting thing off of her. She growled up at the sky.  She was full-on irritable! Fuck!!  

He stepped back, hands raised to give her some space.

They gathered all their things from the torn pack and wrapped them all in one of their furs.  Tying the ends together, Runa used the fur to carry their supplies while Kaidan continued to carry his heavy armor.   

The weather was clouding up again, but so far, there seemed to be no sign of snow or rain.  They were very tired, but they kept on going, promising themselves they would make it all the way to Helgen.  The rest of their journey was uneventful and beautiful between the mountains with streams, lush trees and plants, and plentiful game.  

“This country is lush and with good game.  One could live off the land for a long while here,” he said out of nowhere.   

“Yes, my brother, Balen, used to take me hunting all the time not far from here.  Lots of places to hide, more so than in Whiterun. Whiterun has very few trees, and though there is plenty of game there, when I was first learning to use the bow and not very good at stealth, we would need to use the trees as cover.  

Kaidan tried to imagine Runa as a little girl with a large bow trying to hunt rabbits.  He imagined her long thick wavy black hair all over the place and couldn’t imagine she could see well enough to hunt anything through all that hair.  The image left a smile on his face. 

It was early evening by the time they finally reached Helgen and it was starting to get dark.  They entered the area with much trepidation. This is where Runa’s life changed forever. They walked slowly through the ruined fort.  Kaidan had his sword drawn, just in case and Runa was ready with his bow. But all they saw was burnt destruction and unrecognizable bodies.  

Through the main courtyard area was a pile of dragon bones.  Kaidan whistled. He had never seen a dragon before; well they were all supposed to be extinct, but the dragon bones were impressive and were a lot bigger than he had imagined. 

“I...I need to go...” Runa said out of the blue as she dropped her pack and took off running to the camp where it all happened.  She didn’t know what to expect once they reached Helgen, but she certainly didn’t expect this strong need to go to the camp. 

“Runa, wait!” She could hear Kaidan running after her.   

She was surprisingly fast for being injured and wearing a dress.  When he finally caught up to her, he saw that she was on her knees in the middle of a demolished camp holding something.  He walked up to her slowly and saw she was holding the hand of an older gentleman he assumed to be her father; the body starting to rot.

“They just left them here to rot,” she sobbed.  He squatted down next to her and put a hand on her shoulder as she looked up at him, tears streaming down her eyes, “I need to find a way to get them home.”   

“Yes, of course, we will find a way to get your family home and get them a proper burial.”  That would also mean he would have to put his own personal journey on hold for a while longer; it would also mean he could spend a little more time with Runa.  Don’t be selfish!  This isn’t about you.

But he was feeling a strong bond to her and it was happening very quickly, perhaps too quickly. It was probably because of their extreme situations that threw them together.  But that didn’t stop him from recognizing these feelings he has been developing for her.

She stood up and headed over to a storage chest by a large destroyed tent, opened it and pulled out some clothes he assumed to be hers.  “Give me a minute please,” she said as she hurried off to get some privacy. When she returned, she had removed the gory dress and was wearing a dark blue tunic fitted with a brown leather corset that pushed her full breasts upward, a pair of matching leather pants and long laced up boots.  She clipped on a fur cloak with a hood that had large silver and sapphire buttons. 

Kaidan was stunned at the change in her, not just in her appearance, but in her demeanor.  He watched her walk back over to her father and remove something from his finger and put it on her own.

“It’s my father’s signet ring.  I can’t leave it out here.” She then walked over to each of her brothers and said some words to them only she could hear.  

When she was finished with her goodbyes there was one more thing she had to do.  She headed over to another trunk and pulled out another fur cloak similar to hers.  With tears still in her eyes, she handed it to Kaidan for warmth.  

Looking back at the destruction, she then said, “I can’t stay here or near here tonight.  Do you think we have the energy to make it another four hours Riverwood? I have some Septims now from my trunk we could use to get a meal and stay overnight at the Sleeping Giant Inn.”  

“Of course we can.”

Leaving behind the furs and pack, and only his armor to carry, they headed onward to Riverwood.

Chapter Text

They finally made it to the Sleeping Giant Inn for some food, mead and a night’s rest, thankful they didn’t have to sleep outside in the cold again.  As they ate and drank in silence, Kaidan was watching her pick at her food. She seemed in such a far-off place and wondered what was going on in her mind.  He was worried about how she was feeling seeing her family and all the hardships they had gone through so far getting here.

He cleared his throat.  “How are you holding up?”

She was quiet for so long and wasn’t sure if she was going to respond or not.  But after a while, she finally spoke up. “I don’t know. I’m still struggling with the loss of my family, but I suppose I always will, won’t I?”

“Well, I won’t be one of those people that tell you ‘time heals all wounds.’  Everyone deals with loss differently.”

She looked up at him then, appreciative of his words.  “I am glad to have some closure though. I can finally put my family to rest.”  Her eyes started to water then. “I miss them so very much and my heart just breaks every time I think about them, more than I can say.  I am also the last of my line, which kills me.”

She was quiet again for a long while.  Kaidan didn’t really know what else to say, so he just listened.

“It kills me that I will never be a sister or a daughter again or an aunt to nieces and nephews.  But at least I got to finally say goodbye.” 

“I can understand that, Runa.  I never got to say goodbye to the man who raised me either.  I was angry and not myself for a long time,” he explained 

She looked up at him, wiping away the tears.  He was the one looking down now and picking at his stew, lost in memories.  He had pain of his own similar to hers. Perhaps he truly does understand. She could see his eyebrows furrowed with tension.  “What happened to him?” 

Looking up at her, he shook his head, “No, I...it’s not something I really want to talk about.  Right now we need to worry about you getting home and getting your family home. I just wanted you to know I understood.”  

She nodded her head, “Ok, Kai.”  She reached out across the table and put her hand over his, and held it there for a while for comfort. 

“How are you feeling about what happened to you in...in the shack?  If...if you don’t want to talk about that, I understand. It was just a really bad situation and I still see it in my eyes how I wanted to help you but couldn’t,” he said looking down at his food. 

“I don’t know, I have really tried not to process it.  I have shoved it to the back of my mind...yes, I don’t really want to talk about it at all.  I do know it could have turned out much worse.” With that, he just nodded. 

The bard had stopped singing and picked up a lute to play a tune towards the end of the evening.  It was a beautiful piece. Runa closed her eyes and absorbed the notes as if they were flowing through her.  Kaidan just watched her feel the beautiful music as she slightly swayed and found his heart start pounding in his chest.  She was such a stunning woman, and the way she was feeling the music had him enthralled. He never felt music like that.  

Runa finally opened her eyes when the song was over.  “Sorry, I love that particular piece and I tend to get lost in it.”

He didn’t say anything, but she watched him move to sit next to her.  She looked at him questioningly as he grabbed one of her hands and held it, looking down.  

“I know we haven’t known each other very long, Runa.  We have been thrust together in this violent world and have come out the stronger for it, I think.  I don’t know if you will have me, but I would like to stay by your side a little longer. My journey can wait for a while.  We both come from completely different worlds, but I feel we have some sort of connection and believe you feel it too. Or...or am I wrong?”   

“You are not wrong,” she whispered, glad in a way he voiced what she had been feeling. 

“I...I am just not ready to leave your side after we get you home.  Would you have me a bit longer?” Those captivating red eyes penetrating through hers.  

All she could do was nod.  She really didn’t want Kaidan to depart yet either.  She wasn’t sure she would have gotten here were it not for him and they definitely had some sort of connection.  She didn’t know how long they had together, but she was just happy it would be longer than the next couple of days. 

This time they each had their own rooms.  It is going to be strange without her close by.   He walked her to her room to make sure she had all she needed.  When they entered her room, she reached up to give him a long hug.  He was not expecting that and took him a second to reach around to hug her back.  She had to stand on her toes just to reach him, he was so tall. 

She looked at him after they got to her room and she didn’t want him to go to his.  She didn’t want to be alone right then and needed to be held or something. So she reached up to him and held him, needing to be held herself.  I don’t want him to go.  I need to be held right now.  

There were no signs of her letting go, so he let her just stay there as long as she needed.  Their journey had been a rough one and she probably needed to be held for a while; perhaps I need some holding myself.  

After a little while, he felt her hot breath on his neck and then a very gentle kiss.  He closed his eyes as his heart picked up in speed and goosebumps spread down his arms.  This was not something he was expecting at all. Then another little kiss and another and another.  

She surprised herself by lightly kissing his neck--just had this strong desire to kiss him.  Her need to not be alone grew as she kissed him more on his neck. He wasn’t pulling away, so perhaps he wanted to be with her too.

The kissing stopped and he looked down to see her looking up at him.  It took a couple of beats before he got a clue and bent his head down to finally kiss her on her lips.   

Her lips were so full and soft as he knew they would be.  The kiss started out soft and delicate, but the longer they kissed the more desperate it felt; the deeper their need.  Their breathing was speeding up as was their kissing.  

This was truly her first kiss and it felt wonderful.  She didn’t quite know what she was doing, so she followed his lead and mimicked what he did.  Her heart started to beat faster in her excitement and felt his hands start to explore her body making her heartbeat that much faster.

He started to move his hands around her back and moved them down to her ass which brought her in closer to his body.  He was starting to get hard and he knew she could feel it too, which made him blush a bit but he didn’t care. 

As she was pulled in closer to him, she could feel him getting hard against her hip, which made her kiss him even harder.  She inserted her tongue into his mouth, responding to his as they entwined their tongues together.

She heard herself moan and pulled her head back.  He instantly started kissing her still bruised throat while moving one of his hands to her head, lightly gripping her thick hair.  She started to feel a warmth spread between her legs. She wasn’t sure what it meant, but it felt good.  

He moved on to her left ear, kissing and nibbling it, which made her moan again.  She felt so light and free like she would just float away. She had never been kissed before, but never ever imagined it would be like this.  She wanted more and more... 

As their kissing became more heated, clarity had set in.  He wanted nothing more than to be with her at that moment, but he realized she was doing this, not because she wanted him, but a need to not be alone after everything that had happened to her.

After a few minutes, he slowed down and stopped.  He was looking down at her and could see her desperate and questioning eyes as to why he stopped.  The look almost made him return to her lips, but he forced the desire down.

“You are...you are so beautiful, and strong,” he said, placing his forehead on her hers so he wouldn’t have to look at her pleading eyes.  

“I would love nothing more than to be with you right now; all of you.  More than just a beautiful kiss. I...I want to make sure it is right and we aren’t doing this because of grief and after what happened to you with the bandits; I just wouldn’t feel right.”  

He moved his hands from her ass and gently cupped her face in them.  He kissed her lightly on the lips again then forcing himself to look at her in the eyes.  “Please don’t look at me like that, Runa. You know it’s going to be hard to say no to you.  But it has to be right. Do you understand? You are becoming special to me to do this wrong.”  With that, he kissed her one more time lightly on the lips and started to leave for his own room.  

“I...I don’t want you to go.”  Her eyes started to pool with unshed tears. 

Her words made him stop and turn around.  “And, I don’t want to go. But I just don’t feel right about this.”  He quickly walked away before he changed his mind and gave in to her.

She was left standing there feeling suddenly cold, empty and alone as she watched him walk away.  She wanted to understand but mainly didn’t want to be alone. She tried to understand what he was saying to her and she wasn’t angry with him, just frustrated.

With a sigh, she closed her door, removed all her clothes and went to bed.  But sleep would not come. Being alone left her with thoughts of her dead family and strong emotions.  Knowing that would happen, she pushed those thoughts aside and put her fingertips to her lips trying to recall all the details of their kiss; the way he felt, the way he smelled, his fast breathing, kissing on her neck and ear.  

As far as first kisses went, that was wonderful, not that she had anything to compare it to.  Thinking about the kiss and his touches caused a warm and wet feeling between her legs she couldn’t explain.  Reaching down between her legs she felt so much wetness with her fingers, which made her curious.  

Touching herself down there caused her to instinctively thrust her hips forward.  She moved her fingers around, exploring her folds when she came to a spot that sent a shiver through her body that made her moan.  She started to imagine Kai touching down there and kissing her. 

She closed her eyes and used a finger to move her wetness around her to that one tender spot.  At first, it was gentle, but an electric warmth and pulsing feeling she was having made her rub it harder and faster.  Her breathing and heart rate started to pick up in pace.  

Something strong was happening between her legs as she rubbed faster and faster.  She could feel this strong warmth radiating through her body, making her face flush and sweat a little.  That little spot opened up and she started pulsing hard down there causing her to hold her breath in, spread her legs and arch her back. She felt this fire spread through her body as she pulse heavily on her fingertip.  She had to cover her mouth with her other hand so they couldn’t hear her screams. The pulses started to subside and everything just released. 

Oh, I’m definitely doing that again.  

Sleep came quickly to her after that and she had one of the best sleep she’s had in a very long time. 

When Kaidan got back to his room, he was absolutely frustrated.  Part of him wanted to go back to her and part of him knew he made the right decision, but the feral part of him just wanted to rip that leather right off of her.  He hoped she didn’t hate him for it. She probably would have let him had he continued, and that was also part of the problem. He also wanted to make sure she wanted him and not just a need because of her grief.  Then he started to doubt himself. If that's what she needed, then why not give it to her?  No, I made the right decision.

He removed his clothes and got into bed.  He couldn’t get their kiss out of his mind.  That was one of the best kisses he has ever had.  There was definitely some electricity between them, he thought.  They melded into each other too easily for this to be a typical thing.  He was still hard thinking about it and realized he was going to have to do something about it before he would be able to sleep.   

He moved his hands down between his legs and grabbed his long and thick shaft, which was warm and its tip wet.  Wrapping his hand tightly, but not too tight, around himself he started to move his hand and skin gently up and down.  He was imagining he was inside Runa. Inside her tight wetness and kissing her full breasts while she moaned and arched her back into him allowing him to thrust deeply into her.

The thought of that vision made him move his hand faster and faster.  He used his thumb to play with his tip, which was wet with pre-cum, then he grabbed his shaft faster and harder.  His breathing was getting heavier and the heat was spreading through his body. His vision of Runa naked and him inside her didn’t take him long to finally explode in his hand.  He continued to slightly move his hand up and down as he continued to pulse until he was finally spent. 

Sleep found him quickly and he too had a wonderful sleep.

Chapter Text

She was already awake and eating breakfast at a table when he sat down.  He tried not to stare at her, but she was stunning this morning. Her eyes were so bright blue and clear, and she took the time to do a beautiful ponytail on the side.  The long waves gently coming down the right side of her shoulder. Her wavy long bangs just seemed to fall in all the right places.  

He wanted to kiss her right then and there, but he was suddenly feeling a little awkward and flustered.  He didn’t know if she was mad at him or not for last night. He felt terrible for walking away from her. But whatever awkwardness or uncertainty was there soon vanished as she stood up to sit next to him and gave him a small kiss on the lips.  This made him smile and they butt their foreheads together for a second.

“Hey, you,” he said, as she smiled back.  

She wanted to be upset with him, but when she saw him this morning looking so guilty and uncertain, she couldn’t resist giving him a little kiss.  She was glad to see that it pleased him. She understood what he was saying last night and while she didn’t want to be alone, she still wanted him for more than that.

The barmaid put a plate of eggs, bread, and cheese in front of him with some apple slices.  “I took the liberty of ordering you some food this morning. I hope it’s OK.”

He nodded and started eating heartedly. “Yes, thank you.”

“By the way, I hate to be a spoiled brat, but I’m done hiking.  I ordered us a carriage ride for the rest of the way home.”  

He surprised himself by being relieved with that news.  They could get her home quickly and hopefully not worry about any more dangers.  “OK, that sounds good to me too. Thank you for doing that.”

She waved him off.  “Please, don’t thank me.  It was purely for selfish reasons.”  She smiled at him with that amazing smile and dimple.  

He had a hard time imagining her being selfish or spoiled.  If she were, she would have left him to rot in that prison. As far as he could tell, her family raised her in a fairly grounded and practical way.

**********

The manor was just over the horizon, she could see excitedly.  But then memories of her dead family crept in and suddenly found herself wondering if she could handle being in that house.  

There was smoke coming out of the chimneys, so she knew someone was still there maintaining the home and property.  She was going to have to make sure whoever was left there, was going to receive extra pay for all their work.  

It had only been a week and a half since she was home, but it felt like years to her after everything she had been through.  Her father had many homes throughout the region, but Ivarson Manor was special to her. He had it specially built for him and her mother after they were married.  It was the one she spent the most time growing up in. 

As the carriage drove through the gated stone walls and up to the manor, Kaidan was silent.  Part of him was in awe, the other part was wondering what in Oblivion he got himself into with Runa.  He knew she was wealthy, but he didn’t realize to what extent. This was beyond wealth. It was almost, but not quite, as big as the Jarl’s Dragonsreach.  It was a massive wood and stone manor with actual glass windows, a beautiful garden, many horses and he could see servants moving to and fro getting ready for their Mistress. 

No, no, no...what am I doing?!  What am I thinking?   

Was he crazy in thinking he could actually try to have a woman like Runa with absolutely nothing to offer her? How damned naïve was he?!  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  

Once they pulled up to the front of the house, he saw a lovely plump older woman with a graying blonde bun.  Watching Runa run to her and give her a massive hug told him that this must have been Alva, the woman who took care of Runa most of her teenage years.  

Alva and Runa were crying, but smiling too.  Holding Runa out by grasping her shoulders, Alva looked at her up and down.  “Oh, girl, let me look at you. What happened to you?! You look too thin and are those wounds on your face?  Oh dear, let’s get you in the house, feed you and you will tell me everything that has happened,” Alva ordered. 

Alva looked up just as Kaidan was stepping down from the carriage.  “And, who might you be?”  

Kaidan bowed, “I am Kaidan.  I am grateful to know you.” 

“Oh my, aren’t you the gentleman.  Well, come on in...come on!” she ordered.  “Let’s all eat and tell me what is going on.”  

Kaidan followed Runa and Alva into the manor with uncertainty and unease.  As he entered the manor, if he wasn’t impressed with the outside, he was definitely impressed with the inside.  They all walked into a great hall that was filled with armor and display cases full of artifacts Runa’s father collected over the years.  There were massive paintings and tapestries all over the walls and intricate rugs on stone floors.  

They finally entered a massive kitchen.  Alva ordered them to sit down at the table while she pulled out some sweet rolls to snack on and some mead.  

Kaidan could see kitchen staff scrambling to put together some food for their Mistress of the Manor and her guest.  Considering how formal the house was, sitting down in the kitchens with the staff helped normalize things for him.  

Once they had their rolls and drinks, Alva sat down with them.  “Now dear, please tell me what is going on and what has happened.”  She pulled a handkerchief out of the pocket of her apron and started dabbing her eyes. 

“I know what has happened to Sir Ivar and your sweet, sweet brothers.  Some soldiers came to the manor to inform us that they had all died from the dragon that was seen in Helgen.  I had to ask them about you, but they didn’t know. They didn’t see a young woman in the camp. They informed us that we could leave and find other employment, but I knew, just knew you were still alive, my dear Runa.”  

Alva started wiping tears away again and blowing her nose loudly.  He could see why Runa loved Alva so much. She was quite charming and they certainly had a strong bond.  It was hard to not take an instant liking to the older woman.

Runa told her absolutely everything that had happened to her and Kaidan, and that she owes Kaidan her life.  Alva looked on at Kaidan with great admiration.  

“My dear, dear boy, we owe you everything for saving our girl, Runa.  You are welcome at Ivarson Manor for as long as you need to stay. You just let old Alva here know if you need anything at all.”  

Kaidan nodded appreciatively.  “Runa also saved my life. I wouldn’t have been able to help her at all had she not helped me first.  I owe her a great debt. She’s a wonderful and resourceful woman.”  

“Oh, we all know it, Sir Kaidan; don’t we know it!” Alva stated proudly. 

After dinner, Runa brought Kaidan to her father’s library for some Colovian Brandy.  Kaidan had never had brandy before. It smelled much stronger than mead or wine, and strangely cleared his nose when he inhaled it.  One sip though made him cough a bit and it burned going down his throat. 

Runa just laughed a bit and informed him it was an acquired taste.  Slowly sipping his brandy, he walked around the warm and vast room. All the walls were covered floor to ceiling with shelves of books.  He wasn’t sure he had ever seen so many books in his life. Runa wasn’t joking when she talked about her father’s extensive library. 

Over the fireplace was a massive painting of a beautiful woman in an elegant blue gown he assumed to be Runa.  “That’s a beautiful painting of you, Runa.” 

She looked up at the painting.  “That is actually my mother.” 

Kaidan thought the similarities between mother and daughter were striking.  “You two look exactly alike.”  

After a moment of silence, he spoke up.  “I’m sorry you lost her.” 

“Me too, but honestly, I never knew her so, my feelings of loss are quite different compared to the loss of my father and brothers.” 

He nodded in understanding.  “I never knew my mother either, but I think about her frequently and wonder if I looked like her and if she was beautiful?  Did she have red eyes like I do? Why did she leave me?”

Runa went up to him and grabbed one of his hands in hers. “I understand, Kai.  We will get some answers for you,” she promised. 

He looked down at her full of uncertainty and doubt.  Not for Runa. He absolutely believed her and trusted her.  But, for their situation. He was having strong feelings of insecurity he was absolutely not used to having.  He had always understood his station in life and accepted it. But things have changed and now he doesn’t know anymore.

Runa was watching him look at her and seeing all these emotions cross his face.  She was sure he wasn’t aware he was doing it. The way he’s feeling must be strong enough for him to show them so expressively without his knowledge.  Something was going on here. Maybe he was just tired and it has been a long and emotional journey. 

“Come on, let me show you to your room.”  She grabbed his hand once more and led him up the stone staircase. 

He was reluctant to see his room, certain it was as opulent as the rest of the manor and he wasn’t wrong.  The room was the biggest bedroom he had ever seen in his life. It was bigger than some entire Inns he’s stayed in over the years.  The whole house was beautiful and Runa was so alive in it. He loved watching her excitement showing him around her home. But all he could feel was apprehension.  

This just wasn’t going to work and it distressed him to come to this realization.  No, she deserves someone much better than me.   He decided he would move on in the morning and continue on with his journey without her, despite what he said at the inn.  He just wasn’t certain how he was going to handle it. Would he be a coward and sneak out without telling her or would he take the high road and do the right thing.  

He’s a coward...

Chapter Text

One of the servants laid out a night tunic for Kaidan to wear to bed along with a clean new tunic for tomorrow. He’s never had a night tunic before, but out of respect, he put it on anyway and crawled under the most beautiful red quilt he had ever seen.

He laid down and wondered if he could even sleep here. The bed was filled with down and he just sunk in it. He was either used to sleeping in the woods, caves or noisy inns. This was a whole new world for him and he wasn’t sure he liked it. But, Runa did. This was her world. A world he could never be a part of.

She may be OK with him now, but if they ended up being serious together, eventually she would tire of the fact that he holds no property or has no money other than what he earns with bounty work. One thing was certain, he would be gone by morning.

I just have to figure out how to leave without anyone noticing. It’s better I leave now before things get too serious between us.

Finally, after about an hour of stress and worry, he fitfully fell asleep. He didn’t know what time it was when he woke up to feel this comfortable warmth envelop him. His eyes slowly opened to see that there was an arm draped around his waist and a warm body pressed up against his back. Dammit. Now I’m going to have to face her.

He closed his eyes uncertain of what to do. He welcomed her warmth and almost grabbed her hand to hold it across his chest, but he didn’t want to lead her on. He had to send her back to her room. He turned around to face her seeing her beautiful blue eyes glistening with the two moons shining through the windows tonight, making this all the more difficult.

Just get it out and don’t beat around the bush with her. “Runa. I can’t do this. Please go back to your bed. I have decided I am leaving in the morning.”

She let him go and sat up, her eyes watering even more. He could tell she was upset about it, but over time he would move on and she would find someone much more worthy of her. It was for the best.

She looked at him in surprise and worry. “What do you mean you’re leaving? No, don’t leave. I need you. I was going to…”

But he raised a firm hand and interrupted her. “It has to be this way. We come from completely different worlds and I need to move on to complete my journey. You need to move on with your life. You deserve so much more. It was a mistake to kiss you and hope that we could actually have something together. I was just kidding myself.”

“What are you talking about, Kaidan? Different worlds? Move on with our lives? Is that what has been bothering you all day? You have been so quiet and I have seen every emotion cross your face since we got here. I don’t understand why you want to leave.”

He too sat up in bed, drew up his knees and wrapped his arms loosely around his legs, and looked over at her. “Come on, Runa, you’re a smart lass. Please tell me you see it too. You know I don’t fit in this world of yours. I...I knew you were wealthy, but I really had no idea the extent of it. I have absolutely nothing, Runa. I work part-time as a wanderer and part-time collecting bounties. I have some hair-brained journey planned that will probably yield nothing, yet I have nothing else better to do. I’m just trying to find a little space for myself in this big world. You deserve so much more than that.”

She was getting very upset now. “So, that’s it? You kiss me and then see where I live and it’s all over? You do realize my mother didn’t come from wealth, right? I thought we shared something really special between us?”

“Runa, we do...”

Tears were streaming down her face and her lip quivered, but she ignored them. “Do you really feel that way, Kai? The last thing I want is to make you uncomfortable with my wealth. This is something I was born in to; it is not who I am. I thought you would know that by now after everything we have been through, even as short as it’s been.

Even if I wanted to be with some nobleman, they have absolutely nothing to offer me other than more money or land, which clearly, I do not need.” She said this as she waved her hands around the large room.

She was making him feel guilty, but he stuck with his decision, wishing he had just left that evening. He tried once more to get her to understand. “One day you will look back and realize this is for the best. I’m a nobody who doesn’t have a family or friends or a home. What would be the point in spending any more time with me?” He looked at her hoping she finally understood.

“Stop. Just stop it!” She was starting to get a little louder. She put her hands to her face then and just started weeping.

Dammit! Why do I always cry when I’m angry! How am I supposed to make my point weeping! Urgh!

“I don’t like it either, Runa, but you know this is for the best,” he said misunderstanding her tears.

“Dammit, Kaidan, will you shut up for five damned minutes! I came to you tonight to talk about leaving here. I can’t do it. There are so many happy memories here, but there are just too many ghosts; both of which are extremely painful. I need to leave! I can’t stay here any longer.”

Now he was torn with her words. Crap, don’t give in to her. It’s for the best.

“Runa…”

“No, I’m not done! How can you be so dense?! I don’t want to be here and I want to go with you! I want to make my own way in this world...with you. What I do know is I can’t stay here or in any house of my father’s. It’s just too painful for me right now.” She just sobbed in her hands, sitting in his bed.

Knowing he was giving in to her, he grabbed her to him and held her while she cried as he kissed her head. To Oblivion with it. He wasn’t going to abandon her now after that speech. If she needed him, then so be it. He knew if didn’t work out between them, it would be doubly hard to leave, but he couldn't say no to her any longer.

“Shhh, OK. It’s OK. Yes, if you need to leave, we will figure it out. We will figure it out...together.”

She pulled away and grabbed his face towards hers and kissed him lightly, “Thank you, Kai. I’m glad I’m not going this alone. Being without my family is hard enough and I admit, I’m a bit afraid.”

They both fell back on the bed together facing each other, as Kaidan pulled her in close to him and Runa draped her legs over his, snuggling her face into his neck as her crying subsided. He continued to hold her and kissed her head goodnight when sleep finally reached him.

Before she fell asleep, she worried about her new found need in him; not the protection kind of need, but an emotional one. She very much wanted to be with him, but she hoped it wasn’t a want in desperation.

Chapter Text

He woke up early in the morning and looked at Runa still sleeping next to him.  He realized he had his arm, draped over her and his hand had slipped into her shift grasping her breast.  He grimaced, worried she would wake up and be angry with him so, he slowly removed his hand without waking her.  But she was awake, as she grabbed his hand to put it back where it was. He smiled into her neck and kissed her head, pulling her closer into him.  Feeling her plump and firm breasts made him hard and he wanted to do more with her, but he controlled himself. She turned her head a bit as he bent down and kissed her on her lips.

“Go downstairs to the kitchen.  I need to bathe and pack. I’m sure Alva has a wagon-load of food for breakfast.”

He got up quickly, trying to hide his erection from her.  She didn’t notice as she closed her eyes to sleep for a few more minutes.

**********

When Runa came down to the kitchen for breakfast, she found Kaidan eating breakfast. Alva was hovering over him, urging him to eat more. The table was laden with food and it appeared she thought he wasn’t eating enough to keep body and soul together. Kaiden looked up as she entered, his eyes opening wide, then started choking on his bread. Alva instantly started pounding his back, while smiling, knowing full well that Kaiden wasn’t choking because of the food. 

Runa had her hair up in a bun with a braid wrapped around it.  Intricate braids ran through her hair into her bun and the long wavy bangs which before had obscured her features were parted in the middle and now delicately framed her beautiful face.  Inhaling, he could smell the strong scent of lavender as soon as she entered the room. She was wearing the same leather pieces from yesterday but with a white tunic this time. Around her neck was an elaborately carved silver amulet inlaid with sapphires that brought out the color in her blue eyes.  He couldn’t stop staring.  

What a difference in her compared to when I first saw her in the prison!  

Alva then turned her attention to Runa, urging her to sit and eat.  Runa shook her head.  

“I’ll eat on the road, Alva.  I’m sorry, but I have to go away for a while.” 

Alva’s mouth dropped open.  “But…but I don’t understand!  You love it here, Runa! And…and, we just got you back!”  She groped for her handkerchief in the pocket of her apron and began to cry. 

“Alva…” How could she say it?  Her own eyes began to tear.  “Maybe one day I can come home, but right now there are just too many memories and knowing I will never see my father in his library again, or my brothers making their surprise visits...I just can’t do it.  It’s just too painful.  

You stay and have the staff stay.  I will pay for everyone to keep living here so they don’t have to look for new employment, but I just can't do it now, Alva.  I’m going to sell the other properties, but I will keep this one because it is special to me. I will come to visit you when I can; I promise.”  

“What will you do, my sweet girl?” Alva asked, finally relenting.  

Runa smiled sadly.  “I’m no longer the sweet girl you knew, Alva.  Too much has happened. I’ve seen too much. I’ve promised to help Kaidan find some answers, and I have answers of my own to seek.  Together, we’ll be fine. I will send you word when I can.” 

Runa walked out of the kitchen and as Kaidan was about to follow her, when Alva grabbed his arm to hold him back.  He looked down at the lovely plump woman questioningly.  

“I don’t know the details of what is really going on between you and my Runa, but I don’t need to know.  I see the way you look at her and how she looks at you. I just want you to know that if you hurt her, I will hurt you.  I am her family now. Do you understand, boy?”  

Kaidan nodded vigorously.  “Aye, I would never hurt her,” he promised.  Listening to Alva’s order made him swallow hard, worrying about all that had transpired the night before.  He promised Runa he would help her and stay with her, but he still worried about their clear economic differences.

Satisfied with that, she reached up and gave Kaidan a big hug and motherly kiss on his cheek goodbye.  “Take care of my girl.” 

Before they headed out Runa handed Kaidan his bow back, “here you should have this back.  Thank you for lending it to me. I have mine now, which was my mother’s ebony bow.”  

He took his bow and clasped it to his back with his quiver and just looked down at her.  He approached her closely to adjust her cloak and pull the hood over her head, careful to not mess up her braids.  It was very cold and windy this morning. The sun in her eyes made her blue eyes that much brighter and he couldn’t help but stare into them.    

“Before we leave, I want to make sure, again, this is what you want.  Not only have we just been here for a day, but we are not fully recovered either.”  He put his hand gently on her face and looked deeply into her blue eyes. “It’s not always going to be easy and there will be days that it is really difficult.  You had a taste of our 'adventure’ getting here. It was brutal at times” 

She nodded. “I know...I’m certain.  I know it’s not going to be easy and I will just have to be ready for that, but there is nothing for me here now.”  As she said that, she looked back sadly at her childhood home. “But, I will have you by my side,” she said as her sadness changed to a slight smile. 

He leaned down and gently kissed her on her full lips; they butted foreheads together, “Aye, that you have.  You have me and you have my sword. It would take an army to pry me away from you.”  He said these words, but the doubts lingered that it would be only a matter of time before she didn't want him.

When she first met him, those words would have annoyed her.  But now? It made her feel safe.  

The stable hand pulled out Runa’s horse and a horse for Kaidan to ride.  They both had leather packs on their backs carrying all the necessities they may need for their journey, as well as packs on their horses.  They wanted to be prepared for anything this time around.  

Runa’s horse was a beautiful Palomino mare with a tan color and a cream-colored mane named Butternut. “Butternut?” Kaidan asked raising an eyebrow. 

“What, it’s cute!  Besides, I was only 7 years old when I named her, so...” she smiled patting Butternut on the neck and kissing her on the nose.  “Don’t you listen to mean old Kaidan,” she said in a baby voice to her horse. Butternut snorted her nose as if she actually understood all that. 

Kaidan’s horse was a large, stunning, dapple gray stallion with a black mane named Thor.  Kaidan was a bit worried as to why he was named Thor and prayed to The Nine ‘Thor’ wouldn’t buck him to Oblivion.  He was going to have to make sure he showed the horse who was in charge. 

“Don’t let the name fool you,” Runa said, sensing his unease.  “He’s a big baby who likes to be kissed on his nose.” 

“I’m NOT kissing that horse on the nose.” 

Runa just laughed.  Getting on their horses, she asked, “So, where would you like to go first?” Runa asked. 

“I think the first thing we should do is go to Dragonsreach and warn the Jarl about the dragon.  He needs to know what is going on in his lands, plus he may also have some work for us,” he suggested. 

“Let’s do it then.  While we are there, I need to find a courier to deliver some Septim to a couple of ‘friends’ of ours and some letters of sale for the rest of the properties.  I...I also need to let the temple know to gather my family and have them buried in the Hall of the Dead in Whiterun.” 

They waved their goodbyes to Alva, who was weeping and made their way towards the City of Whiterun.  

Runa trotted off on Butternut not looking back.  I can't look back.  If I do, I will have doubts.

It didn’t take any longer than an hour and a half to get to the city itself.  A city that had been plagued by too many harsh winters, a severe bandit problem, and a war soon to be on its doorstep.  Not to mention there is now a dragon problem as well. Its lands were mainly moors and its centralized location is ideal for either the Imperials or the Stormcloaks, though the Jarl has yet to choose a side, preferring to remain neutral for as long as possible.  The city was surrounded by crumbling walls but fiercely guarded. It also had everything one could want or need from an inn to a blacksmith, to a temple and all sorts of goods to buy.   

There were three main focal points in the city.  The first being the massive Gildergreen tree that is in the center of it all, which was struck by lightning and now lay bare.  Jorrvaskr is the oldest building in Whiterun and is also next to the famous Skyforge. Jorrvaskr holds the Companions, which is a famous and very old warrior’s guild, and the Skyforge makes all their weapons.  Last is Dragonsreach, the home of Jarl Balgruuf the Greater. Dragonsreach was enlarged long ago so it could imprison an actual dragon. 

“Yes, let’s build a place made of wood to capture a dragon that breathes fire.  Brilliant planning,” Kaidan said sarcastically. “And, the city’s walls are crumbling, there are no ramparts and they are virtually defenseless.  The Jarl really needs to really address this. He can’t remain neutral forever and the war will eventually be on his doorstep; the city is NOT prepared.” 

“I agree, but try to realize they have also been struggling financially for a long time, Kai.” 

They handed their horses over to a stable boy and headed into the city with the gate closed.  “Halt, by order of the Jarl. No one is to enter the city while there are dragons about,” the guard ordered, stopping them. 

“That is why we are here, sir.  I have information about the dragon that the Jarl will want to know.” 

“Very well, but no causing trouble while you are in the city.” 

After finding a courier and sending him on his way, and discussing burial arrangements at the temple, they headed straight to see the Jarl. 

Dragonsreach was beautiful to behold.  It was massive as far as longhouses go that practically reached to the sky and the wood on the doors and beams were intricately carved with the traditional patterns of the Nords.  Through the doors, they walked into a great hall with beautiful rugs everywhere and up a few steps were two massive dining tables filled with food and drinks that were part of the throne room.  On their right was a large enchantment room where the court wizard worked. On their left was where the kitchens were located. Past the tables in the center was the Jarl sitting on his throne looking bored while listening to his advisors instructing him on how he should handle the situation regarding the dragon.

Chapter Text

The Jarl was a middle-aged man who had long blond hair with braids in the traditional Nord style and a long beard.  He was thin, but still muscular, even for his age. He looked noble, as a Jarl should be, in his blue tunic embroidered with gold and trimmed with fur along the collar.  His circlet crown was gold inlaid with rubies and sapphires.   

Runa walked quickly up to him and before she could bow, his Housecarl, Irileth, a beautiful Dunmer, stopped her in her tracks with sword drawn. 

“What is the meaning of this interruption?!” she demanded. 

Runa raised her hands a bit and backed off.  “I apologize for the intrusion, my Jarl, but I came here to give you urgent information about the dragon last seen in Helgen.”  She eyed Irileth in relief as she put away her sword. 

Jarl Balgruuf quickly sat up straight, eager for fresh news about Helgen.  “You know about the dragon? You were there in Helgen?”  

“Yes, I was there, my Lord.  I...I was with my father and brothers to see the dragon sighting.  The Imperials had captured Ulfric Stormcloak and before they had a chance to execute him, the dragon attacked.  They finally managed to kill the dragon, but not before it killed almost everyone in Helgen.”  

“So, the rumors are true then?  And, what happened to Ulfric?”  

“It appears he escaped,” she informed him. 

The Jarl sighed while his two advisors argued about what to do.  He held up his hand to silence them. “Where are your father and brothers now?  Why did they send you in their stead; a young girl?” 

She tried not to get angry at the Jarl.  He still clung to the old ways. But her anger quickly turned to sadness.  “I...they...they are all dead. They are dead at the hands of the Thalmor and no, not by the dragon as reports have indicated.  They were all slaughtered along with some of our servants and guards without provocation!” Her voice shaking but trying not to cry.  She could feel a delicate hand on her shoulder she knew to be Kaidan’s.  

“The Thalmor!  What could possess them to do such a thing!  Who was your father, girl?”   

“He was Ivar Bjornson, the arcane advisor to the Emperor.”  

“Ivar!  I know him!  I thought you looked a bit familiar.  You must be Runa Storm-Bringer then, but you were much younger when I saw you last; just a child.  I’m very sorry for your loss, lass. Ivar was a good man and true Nord. And, why did they not kill you as well,” he asked bluntly. 

She lied telling him she had no idea why they left her alive.  I am not ready to tell people what I did when the Thalmor attacked.  So, she left out the parts of her shout as well as the prison break.  She wasn’t sure how the Jarl would react to such news.  

Irileth spoke up, “Sir, we need to send troops to Riverwood right away.  The dragon may have been slain, but now we know they are no longer extinct and we don’t know how many other dragons are out there.  We have to protect our Hold.”  

Proventus, a pompous balding man and the Jarl’s Steward, stepped up and tried to explain that this would be a provocation of war if they sent troops to Riverwood, “The Jarl of Falkreath will not take kindly to the intrusion. He will think you have chosen to side with Ulfric Stormcloak!”    

The Jarl silenced him. “I am NOT going to sit by and risk my people of being slaughtered!  We will send troops immediately!” Which quickly ended the discussion. He looked back at Runa.  “Go see Farengar who is my court wizard. I believe you can help him with his research on dragons and we need all the help we can get.  His research is of the utmost importance right now.”  

Runa and Kaidan bowed and immediately headed over to see the Court Wizard, Farengar.  He was a tall man clad in black robes and a black hooded scarf. His face was so covered up, all she could see was his very long chin and pointed nose.  

“The Jarl indicated that you could use my help in your dragon research,” Runa stated. 

Farengar looked up from his book and looked at Runa up and down. “Ah yes, the Jarl thinks you can help me with my research into the dragons?  I also used to think the dragons were just legend when one just shows up! These are exciting times!”   

This angered Runa.  People are dying and he’s excited?!  But she bit her tongue.   

“Yes, there is something you can do for me.  It’s a fetch job in that I really mean delve into a dangerous ruin in search of an ancient stone tablet that may or may not be there.”  

“What does this tablet have to do with dragons?” she asked.  

“Finally, a thinker than the mere brutes I usually get from the Jarl!  Excellent! You see, stories and rumors were circulating, and dismissed as impossibilities.  But I began to search for information about dragons. I wondered where had they all gone and why are coming back?  In my research, I learned of a stone tablet called a Dragonstone said to be housed in Bleak Falls Barrow. The Dragonstone is supposed to contain a map of dragon burial sites.  I need you to go to Bleak Falls Barrow, find this tablet and bring it to me.”  

Runa had some experience delving into ruins with her brothers, but only small ones that were long cleared out of treasure and the dead that frequently roamed the halls, known as Draugr.  Runa was not looking forward to facing one. She had heard that many could wield swords, bows and even have magic abilities. She knew this would not be easy and had to make a decision if this was something she and Kaidan could handle.  I’m sure Kaidan can handle it, but me?   

Pulling Kaidan aside, she had to ask. “Can we do this?  This may not be an easy thing. I really don’t have much experience in ruins that haven’t already been cleared out.” 

He thought for a second and he was worried about Runa’s inexperience in such things.  But he knew that this was very important. “No, this will most likely not be easy. I have fought draugr before and it can be challenging.  The key is to sneak and kill them from a distance; something you are very good at. If we need to retrieve this tablet and it’s of the utmost importance, then we should do it.  Since this is all connected to dragons, maybe we might even find some answers for ourselves...if we are lucky.”  

Runa nodded.  He certainly has more confidence in my abilities than I do.   She turned back to Farengar.  “Ok, it will be done. Do you have any advice for us and what to expect at Bleak Falls Barrow?” 

He shrugged.  “Well, it is close to Riverwood and I had heard there are bandits around the area, and there most likely will be traps once you get inside, and probably draugr.  Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.”  

“We better get some extra supplies in Riverwood before we enter the ruins, like potions.  We want to make sure we are fully prepared for anything,” Kaidan suggested.  

Runa nodded then turned back to Farengar to make a request. “Can you enchant something for me before we head out?”  

“But, of course.”  

“I would like my bow enchanted with something that will cause draugr to burn, is that possible?”  

“That is easy enough.  Give me a minute.” Farengar took her ebony bow over to a strange looking table full of candles and a skull of a troll in the center.  She couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but he soon returned with some sort of crystal on her bow. “There we are! Your enemies will now burn!” 

She thanked him and then they left for Riverwood.

Chapter Text

They were back in familiar territory.  It only a couple of days ago they were in Riverwood staying at the Sleeping Giant Inn.  It was still early enough that they could get the potions they needed and go straight to the ruin.  

The only store in town was the general store called simply enough Riverwood Trader.  Once inside, it was a warm and inviting store with a roaring fire and wall to wall shelves full of all kinds of supplies.  One could buy house supplies like glass or straw to spell books and food. It had everything one could need. 

When they walked in, they could see what appeared to be the store owner arguing with a beautiful dark-haired young lady.  “No, we are not going to do anything about it. I’m not going to have you go off on some ‘adventure’ or thief-chasing to get it back.  What’s done is done; end of story!”  

He looked up and cleared his throat when he saw Runa and Kaidan come in.  “I’m sorry you had to hear the argument between me and my sister. What can I do for you?” 

“We are looking for some potions for our trip.  Do you carry some health and stamina potions here?” Runa asked. 

“Of course, of course!  I apologize for the mess.  We had a bit of a break-in last night.  We still have plenty of supplies, but it seemed the thieves were only interested in one thing, my golden dragon claw I keep here on display.  They headed to Bleak Falls Barrow with it and my sister here wants to go chase after them!” He said this looking at her scoldingly. “But, it’s just too dangerous.  I will have to find another way to get it back.”  

Handing some Septims to the store owner for the potions, Runa looked at Kaidan with questioning eyes.  Kaidan did a quick nod, knowing what she was asking without having to ask.   

She looked back at the store owner, “We might be able to get it back for you.  We are going that way anyway and if we see it, we can return it to you.” 

“You could do that?!  Well, I have some money from my last shipment and if you bring the claw to me, it’s all yours.” 

Runa thanked him for the potions and headed out.  So, now they have two jobs to do. Well, at least they could kill two birds with one stone. 

Bleak Falls Barrow wasn’t far away.  It was a very large ruin with huge crumbling arcs towering on the cliffside of a mountain overlooking Riverwood.  Runa looked up at it with dread. It was quite foreboding and ominous looking. This will be an adventure alright; an adventure I hoped doesn’t lead to our deaths.  But, if they are successful, a lot of Septims at the end of it and perhaps some answers.

They quickly moved on up the cliff until they finally reached the ruin.  Runa looked up at the monstrosity and her feelings grew even more ominous.  

Half-way up, they noticed some bandits hanging about an old tower.  There were two that they could see, so each one of them took a bandit out with their bows.  They waited for a beat to see if any more showed up. When it looked like it was all clear, they headed up to the steps of the ruin.  

Kaidan put away his bow and pulled out his sword out of its scabbard to have ready.  He always felt more comfortable using his sword. They reached the top of the massive stone stairs, looking around, weapons drawn.

“You will all die!!!”  

Runa heard the bandit and turned around too late with her bow as a bandit headed straight for her with his sword drawn.  Kaidan quickly stopped him in his tracks with his sword; dead. Her heart was beating a little fast, appreciative of Kaidan’s quick reactions. 

Once inside, they could hear some voices and upon closer inspection revealed two bandits arguing.  Runa and Kaidan quickly and quietly killed them with their bows. They both relaxed a bit in the temple once it was clear and took a closer look around. 

“I don’t see anything here.  I guess it was too much to assume that the stone and claw would be close by.”

Kaidan shrugged.  “It’s never that easy.”

They eventually entered a cavernous room and saw they saw a bandit fiddling with a lever.  They pulled out their bows to take him out when suddenly poisoned dart arrows shot out of the walls killing him.  Well, that was fortuitous, Runa thought. She realized that this was some sort of puzzle room. She remembered reading about them in books her father would force her to read on Nordic ruins.  It was a trap puzzle, so if you don't solve it correctly, it would set the trap off and kill the person who solved the puzzle wrong.  

“We have to look around.  See those three movable pillars on our left?  They need to be moved to the proper setting before we can open the gate, like an intricate lock.  There are usually clues so we know the proper setting of the pillars,” she explained.  

After they found their clues, they both went to turn the pillars to the appropriate animal from left to right.  Once the pillars were set, Kaidan insisted he pull the lever in case things went wrong. He closed his eyes, pulled the lever and let out a sigh of relief to find he wasn’t poisoned to death.  The gate was open. 

“I’m glad you’re the smart one,” he said with a nervous laugh. 

They inched their way forward deeper into the ruins with Kaidan periodically grabbing bits of treasure in some of the old burial urns.  They started to see spider webs and spider sacs everywhere. Thick and sticky. It didn’t take long for them to be covered in webs as they pushed forward.  Kaidan knew that all the webs and sacs didn’t bode well. In his experience, he knew that a sign of webs and sacs everywhere indicated a nest of giant frost spiders.  He shivered inwardly and whispered to Runa.

“Be on the lookout for giant frost spiders.”  Runa looked at him wide-eyed as she too shivered inwardly.  She pulled out her bow and he had his sword ready. 

“Is someone there?!  Get me out of here!!” They heard someone yelling.  They quickly scanned the area to find a man trapped in a large web across the room ready to be a spider snack.  “Please get me down!” Kaidan and Runa didn’t rush to the man. They had to be careful here. Approaching the man slowly while scanning every inch of the room, there didn’t seem to be any spiders here at the moment.   

As they got closer to the man to cut him down, there was this very large moving shadow that suddenly appeared on the floor.  Both of them turned around quickly and looked up to see the biggest Frost Spider they have ever seen in their lives.  

This must have been a queen spider.  She was as large as a small house, covered in thick coarse black hairs, spikes coming out of her legs and body, and two massive protruding fangs with several eyes.  Both of them felt dread in the pit of their stomachs, but they had to deal with her before she wrapped them up as tasty morsels.  

Runa immediately started shooting off her burning arrows as quickly as she could hitting anything she could.  Every arrow that connected to the large spider set it aflame, but it was going to take more than some arrows to take down a spider of that size.  Once the spider was on the ground, it started shooting poison at Runa that was supposed to freeze prey long enough to wrap them in webbing. Runa kept dodging out of the way.  She could tell when the spider was about it shoot it’s poison, so she was quick enough. 

While the spider was distracted, Kaidan started attacking it with his sword, starting with the legs to bring it down.  He then repeatedly swung his sword downward cutting the spider down bit by bit. After a few minutes, about 20 burning arrows and multiple sword attacks, the spider lay dead.  

Kaidan felt ill.  He was covered in green spider blood and guts.  He wiped it off as much as he could. With his hands on his knees, he bent over, “Urgh, I think I’m going to be sick.  This is disgusting...give me a foul, stinky draugr any day. I’m never going to get this out,” he complained, choking back some bile.  “This is why I hate fucking spiders!” 

“You did it!  You killed it, now cut me down before anything else shows up.  If you help me down, I’ll show you. You won’t believe the power the Nords have hidden there.” 

“Who are you?” Runa asked while Kaidan was cutting him down.  “I’m Arvel the Swift. Yes, yes, I took the claw for myself, but thank you for helping me.” 

Once Arvel fell to the ground, he quickly got up and started running.  “Do you fools think I would share anything with you?!” Runa and Kaidan chased after him.  Kaidan finally managed to catch up to the thief and cut him down with his sword. They searched the belongings of the dead thief and found the golden claw that belonged to the store owner.  One errand down, now onto the next.  

Runa examined the claw for a bit before they moved on.  “This must be some sort of key. Remember the puzzle room we were in with the animal pillars?  This claw has similar animals, three of them. It must be a key to a puzzle of some sort. We must move deeper into the ruins to find out what it actually opens.  My guess would be that is where we will find the Dragonstone.” 

As they entered the crypts, they quietly moved forward.  Runa came up to a few corpses lying down that were still dressed in some sort of leather armor and looked more, whole, for lack of a better term.  Strange she thought. The armor should have mostly disintegrated long ago. They looked out of place compared to the other corpses, so she decided to shoot an arrow at one of them; dead is dead, right?  When it burst into flames, it growled loudly and she knew for certain it was a draugr.  

As they quietly approached, she just started shooting draugrs that looked similar to the first one, setting them on fire with her arrows.  But as they went deeper into the crypts, the draugr she was killing were starting making too much noise. Soon more started rising, seeking out what was disturbing them from their slumber.  Runa started firing at them quickly before they could reach her, while Kaidan was cutting them down as fast as he could. There were six of them, but it could have been much worse had she not taken out the others already.   

After grabbing any intact fired arrows, they kept moving deeper and deeper. Once they were past the crypts and through smaller room with a waterfall, they soon found themselves in a large cave with glowing mushrooms that helped light their way.  The mushrooms gave a strange bluish glow throughout the cave, making it appear creepy, yet beautiful at the same time. Coming to a door, it brought them through another passageway, so they had no choice but to keep going.  

They were getting closer to something because they could both hear some sort of patterned slicing noise, they both assumed to be a trap.  Once they reach the object of the noise, they found several large axes swinging back and forth in different patterns. This was going to be hard to get through.  Runa quickly looked around to see if there was some sort of off switch, but there was nothing but stone. They would just have to go through one at a time and slowly.   

Runa went first.  She let one of the swinging axes slide by and she quickly went past onto the next one.  By the fourth axe, she made it through to wait on Kaidan, but it seemed that the draugr were not content to wait.  Several instantly started coming at her. Taking up her bow she started firing off her arrows as quickly as she could.  The first one was so close to her she wasn’t sure she could kill it on time, but she managed before targeting the next draugr.  Two more were headed her way when Kaidan finally reached her, right shoulder bleeding heavily where one of the axes cut him. As if he could feel no pain, he lunged at the last two draugr quickly cutting them down.  

“I saw you were in trouble and rushed through the trap.”  He hissed when she tried to look at the wound.

“Stop for a second, Kai!”  While it was quiet for a minute Runa quickly dug into her pack to pull out some linen cloth and a healing potion.  “Here take this while I wrap your arm.” 

“I’m fine...we need to keep moving,” he insisted while downing the potion. 

“It won’t take but a second and you are bleeding heavily.  We need to stop the bleeding.” She quickly finished bandaging his arm then they moved on. 

“Surely we must be getting closer.  This place is ridiculously massive!” She complained as she started gathering her arrows that weren’t damaged. 

Coming to a large door, they readied themselves for the unexpected when they went through the doors and saw it was just a large corridor and at the end of the corridor was a large stone circular door.  It was quite clear, so they lowered their weapons and quickly went to the round stone door.  

“Ah, this must be the puzzle door the claw opens.”  Runa moved the round stone rings to match the pattern on the claw and the door slowly opened when she inserted the claw into the keyhole. 

Once through the door, there was another cave leading to what appeared to be some large curved wall with a carved dragon head on it.  There didn’t seem to be any draugr around, so they proceeded forward, but cautiously.  

Runa and Kaidan went up to the large wall and saw it had strange markings on it, similar to those on his sword!  Suddenly, Runa started to glow, as she did with the dragon, feeling that pushing and pulling sensation. But, instead of feeling some entity, she felt some sort of knowledge and whispering, like some unrecognizable language.  As with the dragon it ended as abruptly as it began.  

Kaidan was staring with his mouth agape.  He recalled her story about what happened after the dragon, but to see it with his own eyes!  She just glowed as some form of light swirled around her! “Are you OK?” was all he could manage to say. 

Runa nodded. “Yes, that was such a strange feeling.  I...it was similar to what happened to me with the dragon but different...” 

Before she could finish, they heard a loud crash behind them as they quickly turned around to see a Draugr Overlord heading their way.  Runa quickly pulled up her bow and started firing arrows as fast as she could. The draugr though was paying attention to Kaidan barreling its way and did something unthinkable, it “shouted” at Kaidan and sent him flying against the wall, knocking him out.  

“Kai, NO!”  She turned her attention to the draugr and kept firing until it was on its knees.  With her last arrow, she shot it the head and it was permanently down. 

She rushed over to Kaidan falling to her knees to see if he was breathing or not.  Her flashbacks of sending the bandit flying to his death had Runa in a panic. A pulse, she was relieved.  Kaidan slowly started to snap out of it, getting on his hands and knees shaking his head a bit. “Urgh, what was that?”  

“Are you OK?  Are you in pain?  Here take this,” handing him another health potion. 

“Yeah, I’m OK.  Got the wind knocked out of me though.  That never feels good. But, yeah, I’m OK,” he said again, downing the second potion. 

She hugged him as soon as he sat up, “I...I thought you died.  I remember the bandit and thought the same thing happened to you.” 

“No, I’m ok,” he said a third time, hugging her back.  He stood up and looked back at the wall. “So, you said, it was different this time?” changing the subject. 

“Yes, the last time was a really odd sensation, like I was absorbing this life force.  It’s hard to describe. But this time it was like...like I was learning something. I could hear voices in my head, for lack of a better description, but that wasn’t quite it either.  I just don’t know.” 

“The writing on the wall and my sword are similar.  You said you were learning something; can you understand the writing at all?” he asked.  But she just shook her head no. 

“Well, we at least know now that your sword is connected to whatever is going on here,” she said.  She headed over to the Draugr Overlord and saw that it was holding something. She bent down to pick it up and saw it was some sort of stone tablet.  “This must be the Dragonstone.” 

Looking a bit longer at the wall, they decided they needed to head back immediately to Farengar.

Chapter Text

It was evening by the time they got back to Riverwood.  They returned the claw to the store owner who gave them 1,000 Septims for its return.  Runa just gave it all to Kaidan 

He didn’t know whether to be annoyed or grateful.  “Runa, I can’t take all this. It’s not right.”

“I don’t need it,” she simply said 

“You did as much as I did.  At least keep half for yourself.”

“No, I don’t need it Kaidan.  I’m not trying to take pity on you or be arrogant, but I just don’t need it.  Please Kaidan, will you just take it and stop fighting me on this?”

He relented knowing he wasn’t going to win this one.  “Aye, thanks…” He couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by it all.

She could sense his embarrassment.  She stood closely next to him and looked up.  “I’m sorry, Kai. I didn’t mean to make you feel that way.  I just wanted you to have it to put it towards your own journey.  You earned it. This isn't charity. But if you only want half, so be it.”

He just nodded and gave her half.  It made him feel a bit better by it.   

Grabbing their horses from the stables they raced their way back to Dragonsreach with the Dragonstone.    

They reached Whiterun by the next afternoon, their horses as exhausted as they were.  Reaching the stables, they handed their horses to the stable hand to feed and water them.  It didn’t take long before they reached the doors of Dragonsreach and straight for the Court Wizard.     

They could hear talking between Farengar and some cloaked woman, hiding her face with her hood.  

“As you can clearly see, the terminology is First Era or even earlier.  I believe this is just a copy, but still dating back to just after the Dragon War.  I will use this to cross-reference the names,” Farengar explained to the strange woman.  

“I’m glad you are making progress because my employers are expecting answers,” she said curtly.  

“No worries, even the Jarl himself is now involved, so I can devote most of my time to the research.”  

“Time is running out, Farengar.  This isn’t just some theory now. Dragons have returned.”  

“Yes, yes.  Don't worry...”  

He was interrupted by Runa and Kaidan’s return.  “Ah! You are back and didn’t die I see! Excellent!  My associate here will be pleased to see your handiwork.  She is the one who discovered its location.”    

Runa looked over at the cloaked woman, “Who might you be?”    

The strange woman completely ignored Runa.  “Farengar, send me a copy as soon as you decipher it.”  With that she headed out, remaining a mystery.    

The Jarl walked in as soon as the mystery woman walked out, “I thought you had returned!  What news do you bring? Did you find the stone?”    

“Yes, my Jarl,” Runa simply said.     

“Excellent!  Farengar, get to work on it right away.” Turning to Runa and Kaidan.  “Please, I will have my Steward show you to your rooms. I insist you stay here tonight.  Feel free to clean up and get some rest. We can discuss more tonight at dinner and you can tell us all about your adventure to Bleak Falls Barrow.”  

With that, the balding snobby little man, Proventus, showed up and led them to their rooms, “I will have a servant come up and take your clothing and armor to be cleaned.  In the meantime, I will take the liberty of providing you with some clean clothes for dinner.” Kaidan and Runa went to each of their rooms to get cleaned up and take a nap before dinner.  They were quite exhausted.    

When Kaidan woke up, he found a beautifully embroidered tunic in green lined with a fur collar, some soft cloth pants and suede boots.  This was probably the nicest thing he has ever worn in his life and he was highly embarrassed to wear it, but he knew he had to out of respect for the Jarl.  

When he was done fixing his half-bun as best he could, he heard a light knock on his door.  Opening it, he saw Runa standing there. She was exquisite. Her dress was deep blue with red and gold trim, a matching amulet and she had a gold circlet in her braided hair.  Her long wavy bangs falling below her chin, framing her face. This is what a true noblewoman looked like, he thought, pushing down pangs of doubt. He must have been staring at her for a while for she asked, “Aren’t you going to let me in?”    

“Y...Yes, please, s...sorry...I...I.  You just look…” Gods, what does she do to me?  I can’t even talk.

“Thank you, Kaidan, I understand.  You don’t need to finish as you are clearly struggling to talk right now,” she teased him.  “But I must say, you look incredibly handsome right now in your green tunic, despite you tugging at the collar wishing you were wearing something else.”  She was adjusting his clothes a bit and patted his chest with her hands. Still smiling and looking up at him, he bent his head down to give her a light kiss on her full lips.     

“I don’t know what you do to me, but I sometimes seem to be at a loss for words.”  

She blushed a bit at that.  She wanted to say something witty, but stopped herself.  It probably would have ruined the moment. Instead she asked him, “How do you feel?  Do you still hurt from yesterday?”  

“No, I’m fine.  I’m always better when you’re close.”  He grabbed her close to him.  

“Oh, NOW you are the smooth talker.  And, here I thought you were incapable of talking a second ago,” she teased again, unable to help herself trying to keep her new found shyness at bay.  

He just smiled, “ready to go down to eat with the Jarl himself?”  

“Ready.”  

They walked down the stairs hand-in-hand.  This is something she was used to, but he wasn’t.  He was very nervous and his hands were starting to get clammy, but she never let go or left his side.  They were seated closest to the Jarl and were served pheasant with roasted vegetables and the Firebrand Wine paired perfectly with their meal.  

They got to recount their story at Bleak Falls Barrow much to the crowds’ awe.  Everyone was captivated by their tale, including the Jarl, especially when they reached the end of the battle with the Draugr Overlord, leaving out what happened to her with the wall.  

When they finished their story, everyone clapped and the Jarl stood up, “I would like to present Runa Storm-Bringer and her companion, Sir Kaidan, a token of my appreciation:  200 Septims each and my family shield. You have gone beyond what was expected and have returned to us successful!” There was much cheering and clapping as Runa and Kaidan smiled a bit embarrassed by all the attention.  

As the evening wore on, Runa and Kaidan found themselves both a bit tipsy from the Firebrand Wine.  They did a lot of talking quietly and closely with each other, which appeared quite intimate leaving many to whisper and wonder who Runa’s handsome companion really was.  He looked like some giant exotic nobleman from a far-off land.  

As the night wore on, they finally excused themselves to go back to their rooms.  Kaidan walked Runa to her door as they held each other for a while. He looked down and kissed her once more before heading off to his room.  She grabbed his hand as he was walking away, “Will you come in, just for a bit?” She looked askingly at him.  

“As much as I would want nothing more, we can’t.  This isn’t the place...too many prying eyes.” With that, he walked away back to his room trying to avoid her disappointed look.

Chapter Text

Back in his room he dressed in his night tunic provided for him, grabbed a book to sit by the fire to read for a bit before sleep.  Anything to distract him at that point. He was really beating himself up.  

A beautiful woman asked me to join her in her room and I actually turned her down when I wanted her more than anything!  How stupid can I be?   

Who cares what these people think?  She was a noblewoman and it didn’t seem to bother her!  What was wrong with him? Well, what’s done is done trying to convince himself and he went back to reading his book with a heavy sigh, hoping there will be another chance. 

An hour later, there was a light knock on his door.  It was so soft he wasn’t sure he heard right. The second knock was a bit louder and realized someone was definitely at his door.  He opened it to find Runa looking up at him dressed in a beautiful soft black robe trimmed with black fur around the collar and cuffs of her sleeves.  Her long wavy hair was out of its bun and braids, flowing across her shoulders and cascading down her back. Her black hair against her black robe made her fair skin and blue eyes just pop, and her full lips seemed redder than they usually were.  Unable to speak, his imagination already running through his head wondering what was under that robe. 

Since he was stuck in place and didn’t invite her in, she shoved him back inside his room. “Be damned other people,” she said, quickly shutting his door behind her.  

It took her almost an hour to talk herself into doing this.  I can’t believe I’m doing this.   Pushing him back into his chair by the fire, he sat down just looking up at her curiously and expectantly not sure what she was doing at first.  His imagination had clear ideas. She stood in front of him between his legs and let her robe slowly and gently fall off her naked shoulders to show him she had nothing on underneath.  

“Temptress,” he whispered, half in jest, swallowing hard, but didn’t hesitate to sit up and gently touched her shoulders feeling how soft they were.  He could smell the lavender all over her skin, breathing it in deeply. There was no way he was going to waste his opportunity this time. You lucked out this time.

She was watching him touch her, watching his eyes and trying to imagine what he was feeling; thinking.  Her heart was beating so fast and her stomach was fluttering from nervousness and excitement.  

He traced his fingers down from her shoulders onto the bulge of her breast peeking out from under the robe she was holding up with her arms.  It was as soft and delicate as he imagined. Gently and slowly he started to pull down her robe from her left breast, watching her to see if she would stop him or if it made her uncomfortable.  When she didn’t stop him and continued to watch to see what he would do, he continued until her breast was fully out. He swallowed hard and tentatively touched her breast and lightly rubbed her nipple.  Looking up he could see her eyes were closed, mouth parted open and breathing a bit heavily.  

Oh, that feels nice.  If this is any indication of how it’s going to be, I don’t want him to stop. 

Sensing she liked that he took that as a cue to move forward.  Sitting up higher he pulled out her right breast and with both hands caressed and kissed them while inhaling her scent.  He was already very hard right now under his night tunic. It didn’t take much to get him excited around her. Her breasts were so beautiful, firm and full.  The nipples were fairly small as he slowly moved his mouth to kiss one. She moaned lightly at this as he took his tongue and started lightly licking and sucking each nipple.  

I was not expecting that to feel so good.   Runa could feel she was already wet between her legs.  His gentle touches on her breasts felt so good, more than she expected it to.  His gentle sucking caused her to breathe heavily and she felt like she was floating on air.  She let a moan escape her lips when he gently nibbled on one of her nipples.  

He pulled down her robe further, it was still wrapped around her waist, but her whole top half was exposed now and arms were pulled out of the sleeves.  He sat back for a minute to look at her as she stood there. She felt herself blush and smile at him a bit at this; suddenly looking away shyly and wondering how long he was going to stare at her before he continued.  

The Gods, she’s so beautiful.  I could look at that all day.

He liked watching her blush and her sudden shyness at his gaze; it made him smile.  He sat up again, moved his hands to her firm ass and pulled her closer to him as he lightly kissed her tight stomach.  He was surprised by how strong it was. He assumed it was from all the training and learning to sneak through the years.  She was a lot stronger than she looked. He inhaled her skin deeply while kissing her stomach, moving his mouth back up to her breasts.   

He decided to take it a step further.  While kissing her stomach, he slowly slipped his hand inside her robes and between her legs.  He touched her on her pearl feeling so much wetness that it made him even harder than he was before.  She moaned loudly and instinctively moved her hips as he gently rubbed it. 

Looking back up at her to watch her reaction, he removed his hand and reached to each of her arms as he lifted them away from her body letting her robe fall to the ground.  He just stared at her naked beautiful body, taking it all in.  

She was relatively muscular in a lean way.  She had a long thin waist with beautiful hips and very strong legs.  Even if she weren’t so beautiful, he would have been enthralled by her.  There was something between them, he still hasn’t been able to figure out yet.  Something he has never felt before. This strange closeness they have in just such a short time was new to him.  He wasn’t sure if it was the same for most people, but his instincts told him it wasn’t. 

Runa started to feel a deep blush creep again as her robe fell to the ground. Since she had never done this before, a few doubts were lingering in her head; some uncertainties, but not from doing this with Kai.  She felt this was right. If she were to do this, it would be with him. But she had so many questions.

Is this going to hurt?  Will I enjoy it? Will I be able to please him?

She didn’t know what she was doing at all, but he seemed pleased so far and he made her feel like this was normal and comfortable.  Though she hadn’t known him for very long, she felt whole with him; like this was meant to be, so she had let him remove her robe to see where it took them next.  

“Kai, I think you should know I’ve never been with a man before...uhm, like this.”  She tried not to cover up her body when she talked to him about this.

“Aye, I thought as much.  We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, OK?”

She just nodded at that.

He pulled her a bit forward again to kiss her stomach and lightly licked around her navel area.  He grabbed a hand and kissed her palm while she lightly touched his rough face from his beard growing in with her fingers, looking down at him. 

Kaidan gently pushed her back a bit so he could stand up and deftly picked her up her to carry her to his bed.  He gently laid her down on her back while he too got onto the bed and straddled over her legs looking down at her.  Her thick wavy hair was spread across the pillow and her arms were slightly laying above her head watching to see what he would do next.  

He could see how nervous she was.  He bent down close to her face and kissed her full mouth.  When she parted her lips, he inserted his tongue and she responded with hers.  She moved her hands to grasp his hair to pull him in closer to her.  

As he pulled away from their kiss, he lightly bit her bottom lip and started kissing her neck, cheeks, chin and down to her neck.  He planted light kisses slowly going down to her body until his mouth reached her breasts.  

Again, he started grabbing one breast at a time to lightly squeeze and suck on.  She was arching her back a bit so he would take more of her breast into his mouth and roughly grabbing his hair, which he eagerly complied, responding to her body.   

When he was moving down her body, she quickly grabbed his nightshirt to pull it off.  He took it from her and threw it to the ground. As he was sitting up straddling her, she gently started touching his chest; the human boulder.  His chest and stomach had a lot of scars and she gently touched each one, it was also virtually hairless, very smooth and very muscular.  

Lightly she traced her fingers down his strong stomach and looked down to see his rock-hard shaft.  This really made her stomach flutter and swallow hard.

Oh my.  I have only seen them in pictures and they were never standing up like that.

There was black hair there, and he was long and thick.  She reached out to lightly touch it. To see what it felt like as he looked down and watched her explore him.  It was so very hard, but the skin was very soft and warm; the tip was slightly wet.  

I better stop her before I can’t stop myself.  

He gently removed her hands before he found himself ending things too soon and pressed them to the bed.  He leaned back down on her to continue his kissing, licking and nibbling down her body. Her eyes were closed as she roughly grabbed his hair again and arching her back to his kisses.  This feeling was so much better than she expected. All her senses were alive, yet her mind slightly dulled as she gave in to this feeling. Continuing down to kiss her hips... 

BANG, BANG, BANG!!! 

“FUCK!  WHAT NOW?!!” Kaidan growled loudly.  Of course, someone has to interrupt! Clearly pissed off, he got up, grabbed his night tunic and put it on then headed over to Runa and pulled the covers on top of her.  

He went to the door and abruptly opened it, “For the love of...WHAT?!” 

Irileth was completely unfazed by his anger and informed him that there was a dragon near the city.  “We cannot find Runa Storm-Bringer, so we came to you to see...” She paused as she looked passed Kaidan’s shoulder to see Runa sitting up in his bed covering herself with his blanket.  She cleared her throat. “The Jarl wants to speak with you both immediately. Get dressed and meet us down in the throne room.” 

He slammed the door a bit harder than he intended and was about to grumble some more, but softened when he watched her put her robe back on, “I guess...I guess some other time, huh?”  He looked at her hopefully.  

She went up to him, touched his face and gently kissed him.  “I’m not going anywhere, Kai.” With that, she left to get dressed as he went to grab his now clean armor, instantly deflated literally and figuratively.  I guess dragons are not content to wait, he thought irritably.

Chapter Text

Runa and Kaidan rushed to the Jarl.  He was listening to one of the guards at the watchtower.  “Is the dragon attacking now?” 

“No sir, we saw it flying around over us, but it hasn’t attacked yet.  I rushed over here as fast as I could to inform you.” 

“Well done, son.  Go get yourself some food and drink and relax.  You did a brave thing today.” 

The guard nodded proudly, bowed and left to get some food. 

“Irileth, we must deal with this dragon.  Please do not rush into things and do something rash.  I want you returning to us.” The Jarl clearly worried for her life. 

“Sir, I will not let you down,” she bowed. 

The Jarl turned to Runa.  “You are the only one here who knows anything about dragons at all.  I need you there to help. Can you do that for me; for Whiterun?” 

Runa was terrified, especially after her last encounter with a dragon, but she bowed and headed out to follow Irileth.  Kaidan grabbed her arm quickly to stop her before she could go any further.

“Runa, wait...” 

She turned to him with an urgency in her eyes.  “What?!” She knew what he was already going to say.

“Runa, we don’t have to do this.  Neither of us know what it will be like to fight a dragon.  You may have seen one, but you didn’t fight it and remember what happened last time.” 

“Kai, I have to do this.  I’m absolutely terrified, but...but it must be done.” 

“I...I know; I’m terrified too.  But not for me. I’m terrified I...I don’t want something to happen to you.” 

“And, I’m terrified for you too.  You do not have to come. It’s not your fight.  And, it won’t be just me out there alone. I wish we had time to talk about this more, but I have to go.” 

“Dammit, don’t do that.  Do you think for one second I would not come with you?” 

With that they both ran after Irileth to meet her by the front gate.  When they found her, she was giving a quick speech to her terrified guards.

“None of us have ever seen a dragon before.  But we are honor-bound to fight it, even if we fail and die.  This dragon is threatening our homes and our families! Can you call yourself Nords if you ran from this monster?  Are you going to let me face this dragon alone?” 

After her speech, they all yelled, rallying themselves for battle.  All of them took off running towards the watchtower. Runa reached the tower first and saw it was already in ruins and there was fire everywhere from the dragon attack.  She saw one of the guards alive and ran to him.

“Where is it?” 

“It came swooping down, blasted us several times and took two of our guards who were trying to run.  I haven’t seen it since.” He was clearly in fear.  

She patted him on the shoulder for reassurance and letting him know he wasn’t alone in this battle or in his fear. 

They suddenly heard this loud whooshing sound and a roar coming from the mountains off to their right.  The dragon was headed directly for them. Everyone readied their bows. Runa was on top of a crumbling pillar and started firing her arrows as soon as the dragon was close enough.  

It flew by blasting its fire on the ground killing a couple of guards and she could hear their painful screams.  She tried to tune out the screams and could also feel the extreme heat of its fire.  

Kaidan was yelling at the guards. “Hold your arrows!  Hold! Do not waste them. Wait until you have a clear shot!” 

As the dragon turned around and flew back at them, Runa fired off three successive shots at its underbelly as it flew by.  By the time it turned back around ready for another blast, it was hit by more arrows from the guards, which finally brought it down to the ground.  

The dragon was angry and vile, shooting out fire and snapping at anyone who got too close to it.  It was massive and gray in color covered in a spiked armor for skin. They all kept firing their arrows and as Runa readied her last shot, it looked right at her and actually talked!  

“Dovahkiin?  Nooooo...!” Then she fired it in the head as it died right there.   

Everyone started clapping and cheering that it was finally over and that they were able to actually kill a dragon, giving them much needed hope. 

No, no, no, not again.   

The swirling energy enveloped her body making her glow.  Kaidan was watching all this happen. He could see this energy leaving the dragon and flowing right into Runa...everyone was watching.  When it was done, Runa’s heart pumped heavily and she was wary of the people watching her; afraid of what they might do. The last time anyone saw that her family was slaughtered. 

“I have never seen anything like that in all my years,” a guard said in amazement and slight fear. 

“You are Dragonborn!!” said another guard in awe.  “You are like the legends of old. Like the stories my father used to tell me.  You are born with dragon blood just like Tiber Septim! A Dragonborn who can take the soul of a dragon!” 

“What...what do you mean?”  Runa asked. 

He looked at her in continued amazement, “Yes, you saw what you did.  We all did. You took the dragon’s very life force. You should be able to shout.  That is what a Dragonborn does; they shout. Try to shout.” 

Runa looked at him doubtfully, but he was the only one so far who had any sort of answers for her, and the one with the least fear in his eyes.  So, she turned away from everyone, tried to clear her head, took a deep breath, and with every fiber of her being...”FUS!” She could feel this massive amount of energy pouring out of her body, completely uprooting several shrubs and flinging large stones with her shout. 

“Yes, I KNEW it!  You are definitely Dragonborn!  There hasn’t been a Dragonborn in hundreds of years!” the guard said excitedly. 

Runa still wasn’t sure what it all meant, but they needed to get back to the Jarl.  She and Kaidan left as the guards were arguing about what they had just witnessed. 

Just when they got into Whiterun, everyone heard this thundering noise.  At first Runa thought it was some sort of thunder or lightning crash, but the skies were clear and there was a word floating on the noise.  A word she just recently heard from the dragon; ‘Dovahkiin.’

Something awakened in the world and in her, but there was no time to think about it.  She had to get to the Jarl and inform him the dragon was dead. 

“So, what happened at the watchtower?  Was the dragon there?” the Jarl asked anxiously. 

“Yes, the watchtower is destroyed, but we killed the dragon.” 

“I knew I could count on Irileth!  But there has to be more to it than that,” he stated. 

Finally deciding to tell the Jarl the truth.  “When the dragon died, I...I absorbed something from it.  Some kind of power.” 

“So, it’s true.  It was YOU the Greybeards were summoning!” 

“The Greybeards? I remember something from my readings about them, but I have to admit I never paid much attention,” Runa shrugged. 

“Masters of the Way of the Voice.  They live in seclusion high on the slopes of the Throat of the World.” 

“What do the Greybeards want with me?” she asked. 

“The Dragonborn is uniquely gifted in the Voice; the ability to focus your vital essence into a Thu’um, or a Shout.  If you really are Dragonborn, they can teach you how to use your gift. I would not delay in going to go see them,” the Jarl explained in fascination. 

The Jarl suddenly stood up, “You have yet again done a great deed for me and my city, Dragonborn.  By my right as Jarl, I name you Thane of Whiterun. It is the greatest honor that is within my power to grant.  I also grant you this weapon from my personal armory to serve as your badge of office. We are honored to have you as Thane of our city, Dragonborn.” 

He handed her his personal axe.  “I would also like to offer you the opportunity to purchase property in the city.  I understand you are a noblewoman coming from much wealth and the house isn’t what you are used to as it is quite small, but it would be an honor to have you live in the city here.  Talk to my Steward about making the arrangements.” 

“Thank you, my Jarl.  I don’t know what to say,” as she bowed. 

Kaidan looked at her, smiling, “Quickly moving up in the world, I see.”  After a minute, he asked if she was alright after the dragon and everything; she nodded.  

“It’s good to have some answers for you and perhaps the Graybeards can help you even more.”  

She nodded still frightened by what it all meant.  She wasn’t sure she really wanted this “gift.”

Chapter Text

After accepting the keys from the Jarl’s Steward, they went to inspect her new home.  It was a small little cottage type house with lovely flowers growing all around it. It was situated right in the middle of town next to the blacksmith.  Proventus, the Steward, claimed the house was called Breezehome by the previous owners.  

Runa unlocked the door and entered the small house.  It was sweetly decorated with beautiful blue pottery and hand-woven baskets on the walls.  In the center as soon as they walked in, was the cooking area with a fire pit in the middle.  The Steward made sure they had all the supplies they needed for cooking.  

There was a set of wooden stairs leading up to rooms above and past the stairs was a table and chairs for eating.  Tucked away behind the stairs was a small privy with a washbasin. They headed upstairs to check out the other rooms.  On the left was another room with a desk and chair so she can work or write. And, to the right was a small hallway that led to the bedroom.  It was a modest room with some shelving, a chest for clothes, bedside tables, and the large bed featured a beautiful hand-woven green quilt.  

“This will do quite nicely.  Yes, it’s the smallest house I have ever lived in, but it’s cozy...and it's actually mine,” she said happily, feeling like she’s actually accomplished something.  

She turned around to walk out of the room when Kaidan behind her braced his arm against the doorway, stopping her in her tracks.  He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t have to. The look in his eyes was filled with some sort of fiery hunger that told her exactly what he wanted and it made her eyes wide and she blushed brightly.  

They were both filled with so much excitement and adrenaline from that evening and were suddenly in a rush to finish what they started earlier before the dragon so rudely interrupted things.  

They started kissing each other as if they were starving, and maybe they were.  It was fast and hard, and there may have been light biting and scratching involved.  

Runa, mouth red and a bit swollen from the hard kissing, fumbled with Kaidan’s armor.  She couldn’t remember how to remove it before he stopped her and started unclipping the heavy metal and leather pieces off of him.  Letting his armor unceremoniously fall loudly to the floor, he started untying Runa’s leather corset and tunic, roughly yanking her tunic over her head.  As her breasts popped out, he grabbed her close to him holding her arching back and lunged at her breasts with his mouth.  

In between kissing and sucking on her breasts, “if anyone...interrupts this time...I’m...I’m..mmmm...going to put an...an arrow...mmm...through their eye,” he said with his mouth full.  

Runa laughed out loud until he nibbled a bit too hard on one of her nipples causing her to throw her head back and moaned loudly, but she didn’t stop him.  The pain felt strangely good and made her wetter than she already was. She straightened looking down at him while he was kissing her breasts and removed his tunic as well.  After throwing it to the ground in a heap, she grabbed his head roughly back onto her breasts.  

Kaidan suddenly went down hard on his knees and started fumbling with her leather pants.  Realizing her boots were still on, “Bloody...” he grumbled loudly and pushed her backwards onto the bed to remove them.  Working his way back to her pants, he roughly pulled them off of her. As soon as her pants were off, she was expecting him to kiss her again, but he roughly spread her and lunged his face right in between her legs.  

Runa yelped loudly as she felt his tongue shoved into her folds and lick around her pearl.  She arched her back forcing herself more into his mouth while grabbing his hair roughly and pushing his head down harder.  She lifted her legs and draped them over his shoulders while he spread her thighs farther apart and licked her wetness.  

Kaidan wasn’t quite sure what he was doing, but he knew how everything worked on a woman.  He has never spent any time kissing a woman between her legs despite being with some women before.  All he knew was that he wanted to be kissing and licking Runa there. She was so wet as he ate it up with his tongue, tasting her.  He couldn’t get enough.

As he moved his tongue, it rolled over her pearl.  She moaned loudly and her body started shuddering under his mouth as if she were shot with a jolt of electricity.  Responding to her body, he continued to lick that one area, spreading her folds apart so his tongue could reach further.  

Her hips started moving and gyrating, trying to get as close to his mouth and tongue as she could.  She was grabbing his hair a little bit too hard, but he didn’t stop. When he went a different direction, “no, no...go back, go back...” he heard her moan.  So, he went back to that area and he could tell something was happening when this bead popped out and started swelling and pulsing.  

Holding her breath, she was moaning so loudly now while her body was practically convulsing.  He dug in even further with this, sensing her strong excitement. He knew he was doing something right.  As soon as she started to slow down, she tried to lift his head off of her. Barely able to speak, “no...no.  Ah! No...m...more...p...please.”  

He looked up to check on her.  He saw that she had some tears in her eyes.  What did I do wrong?   He went up to her about to ask her what was wrong and if he hurt her?  But she just grabbed his wet face and kissed him deeply with her tongue, tasting herself in his mouth.  She stopped, breathing heavily.  

“Just...give me a second.  To the Nines! I...I don’t know what you did, but...that was the best thing I have ever felt in my life!”  

“All I know is I just wanted you there as soon as your pants were off.  I’m glad it was OK. I thought I hurt you for a minute.” He smiled at her apparent pleasure, feeling quite proud of himself.  

“OK?  OK? Oh, Kai, it was more than OK.  It was...how do I put it? It was perfection!”  

He smiled and laid down on his back, his penis so hard and bulging through his leather pants.  But he wasn’t sure if she was ready for any of that yet.  

She rolled onto her side, facing him.  She was spent and partly brain-dead, but she wanted more.  She wanted more of him and wasn’t ready to stop. She was lightly touching his muscular body and traveled her fingers gently down his stomach, slightly tickling him until she got to his hard mound through his pants. 

She wanted to try what he did to her.  She wanted so badly to kiss him there and suck at him; to see if she could make him feel the way he made her feel.  She knew enough to know it wouldn’t be the same for him as it was for her, so she would have to figure things out as she went.  

He thought they were all done when she suddenly stood up to remove his boots and leather pants.  He was so heavy and this wasn’t the easiest thing for her, but he helped her with them. She then jumped on top of him, spread his own legs and started kissing him on his stomach, lightly nibbling on his flesh as she went down.  Just follow his lead in what he did to me last time.   

Runa was a bit more tentative than Kaidan was.  He just seemed so sure of himself. She could smell his manly musky smell; she couldn’t describe it any other way and inhaled deeply.  It was a good smell, surprising herself that it turned her on again.  

Not expecting anything else, Kaidan excitedly propped up his head on a pillow so he could watch her explore him.  He watched her kiss him and nibble at his stomach, sit up examining his hardness, inhaling him and touching it. He loved the curious and exploratory look on her face.  Dibella is favoring me tonight  

Runa started licking his shaft up and down with her tongue.  He was large and she wasn’t sure she could actually fit it all in her mouth.  But she would try. She bent farther down and started licking his balls, which made him moan; OK, he seems to like that.  She had to pay close attention to how his body responded so she would know if she was doing something right or not.  

She cupped his balls and started rubbing them when she heard, “just gently, Runa, they are...uhm, sensitive.”  She blushed a bit at that, but continued to rub them more delicately and licking them again, gently sucking on one then the other.  She moved her mouth back to his hard shaft, licking his wet tip. He responded with that, moving his hips around.  

She delayed no longer and put him in her mouth.  He hissed and she wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but his hips started moving up and down.  OK, so it was a good thing? She moved her mouth up and down as far as it would go in rhythm with his hip movement.  

Tightening her mouth around his shaft and used her tongue as she moved up and down.  She could hear him breathing heavier and faster. She looked up to see if he liked what she was doing and saw that he was watching her.  She blushed heavily. Her watching him made him more excited and he started to moan as she was sucking harder and faster to his hip movements.   

He wanted to throw his head back and just let it happen.  It wouldn’t take much at this point after the past couple of days, but he wanted to hold out a bit longer.  It felt pretty good considering this was her first time.  

Her mouth was so warm and wet, and with her tongue grasping him tightly was almost too much.  He kept watching her though and he almost lost it when he saw her watching him in his excitement, but he held on.  The warm feeling enveloping his body felt like electricity coursing through him.  

When he felt he couldn’t hold out anymore, he started to move his hips faster and grabbed her hair and head with both hands to move her head up and down faster while watching her quicken her pace on his shaft.  She roughly curled her tongue around his tip as she dug the tip of her tongue into his hole, sucking it and he couldn’t take anymore.  

He moaned loudly and suddenly exploded into her mouth, which was a surprise to her.  She wasn’t sure what to do, so instinctively she just swallowed it and kept moving up and down.  It was thick and salty, and a bit strange, but it was Kai and he seemed to like it, so she sucked harder.  He continued to pulse in her mouth while she swallowed until he was spent, but she kept at it and he had to gently stop her before it started to hurt.  

She fell back onto the bed licking her lips, rolled onto her left side and laid her head on her folded arm looking at him with a questioning look on her face.  She hoped she pleased him as much as he pleased her. He was sweating and trying to calm his breathing. Now his once hard shaft was smaller and flaccid. He eventually rolled over to look at her too and gently moved the hair out of her eyes and tucked it behind her ear.  

Suddenly she found herself shy.  “Was...was that OK?”  

He delicately touched her face and smiled at her.  “Yes, it was great.”  

She smiled shyly.  “I know it wasn’t perfect.  I don’t know what I’m doing, Kai.  You seem so confident and sure of yourself.  No one ever told me about these things.”  

“Hey, you did great.  There are a lot of things I don’t know either.  I don’t think anyone really has some sort of teacher for such things.  It’s all a learning process. We just talk to each other about it and figure it all out, OK?  You were amazing and it felt so good to be with you, being in your mouth and me tasting you. I hope we have a lot more times like that if that is OK with you.”  

She nodded with that, but she was completely spent and fell asleep quickly.  He gently pulled her closer to him and draped the quilt over them. She instinctively threw her leg and arm over him.  He watched her sleep until he couldn’t stay awake any longer. Though it was the afternoon, they slept all the way through to the morning.

Chapter Text

It was very early in the morning and the sun hadn’t risen yet.  Kaidan sat in the chair watching her sleep under candlelight.  She literally took over the entire bed and stole all the covers last night.  He smiled wondering how such a small thing could take up so much space.  

She was completely naked lying face down on top of the covers and she was a sight to behold.  He sighed, reluctantly put on his pants and headed downstairs to make them some breakfast when he would rather stay in bed with her, but he was no longer tired and they needed to eat.

He looked back at her in the doorway.  Although...no, I’ll let her sleep.

He threw together some vegetables, wine, garlic, salt and beef into the pot and slowly simmered their meal.  Normally it would have been some bread, cheese and fruit for breakfast, but they needed something a bit more hardy to eat this morning, so stew it was. There was already bread previously made when they got to the house, so he cut that up and put it on a plate ready for when she came down to eat.  

He also had some water boiling in a large pot.  He already filled up the washbasin several times, but one more should do before she was up and ready to bathe before eating.  He knew how much she enjoyed being clean and smelling good.  

Looking up at the ceiling, he could hear her finally thumping around on the wood floors upstairs.  She’s awake.  

She came downstairs in a simple quilted blue robe, yawning loudly.  It was the smell that woke her up making her stomach growl. “Oh, something smells wonderful, Kai!” she exclaimed.  

They had completely forgotten to eat after their amazing afternoon then sleeping all through the night.  Kaidan was cooking over the fire with his back turned to her. He was only wearing his pants and she had a good view of his back.  She was suddenly reminded of how badly he really was wounded in that prison. Grateful that she helped him escape, not just for herself, but for him as well.  There were so many lacerations and gouges in his skin; hardly a place on his back that wasn’t marred. It was healing over nicely, but it was still an angry red with dark areas where it was scabbing over.  

She suddenly felt so much pain for him, unable to imagine what sort of suffering he had to endure at the hands of the Thalmor.  She went up to him and lightly touched his back. He flinched a little, but didn’t say anything.  

“Your back is starting to heal, but...I am struggling with why it all happened to you and how they could do such a horrible thing.”  Getting closer to him, she started kissing his back ever so lightly.  

He stopped stirring the food and turned around to kiss her.  “I try not to think about it,” he said, dismissively. “I drew you a bath and made us breakfast.  Get in before it gets cold,” he said to change the subject.  

“A week and a half in and you are already spoiling me.  You know you’re in trouble now, right?” she yelled back at him as she headed to her bath.  She let go of the fact that he was being intentionally evasive.  

I think his back is bothering him more than he’s letting on and it wasn’t just the pain .  

When she got out, she had tied her long, wet hair to the side while her bangs hung in wet waves, mostly to the left partially covering her own scars.  She will probably never know how she got them in the first place. It happened somewhere between being knocked over the head and before she woke up in the prison.  She then put on her robe and headed to the table where Kaidan had their food ready.  

“I’m sorry if this isn’t very good,” he said.  

She took a bite of stew with the bread, “Oh, this is delicious! What are you on about?  If I am to be on my own, you need to teach me this recipe. I can cook a few things, but nothing as good as this.”  

“That I can do,” he said smiling, happy she liked it.  He reached over to pull her robe off her shoulder so he could kiss it, inhaling her lavender scent.  

While eating she looked at him, “so, what’s the plan for today or do we even have a plan?”  She put down her spoon and turned to him closely, kissing his chest while looking up at him coyly.  “Ooorrrr, we could just spend the rest of the day in bed.”  

He laughed, “As much as I would love to spend the entire day in bed with you, I thought today would be a good day to take it easy.  We have been going non-stop for well over a week and we should take the time to breathe a bit.  

What I would like to do is take you to the smith and get you fitted with some proper armor since we made a few Septims from our recent adventures.  You move very well in your armor, if one can even call it that, but I keep feeling like I should jump in front of every arrow or blade that comes your way.  I would feel better if you had something a bit...sturdier.”  

“Sounds good and while we are at it then, I would like to see if I can order to have a sword and an axe made.  I would like to have them on hand for closer combat, just in case.”  

With that, they finished their meal, got dressed and headed right next door to the blacksmith.  The blacksmith was surprisingly a woman and a beautiful one at that, even covered in black soot.  Adrianne, she called herself, fitted Runa for some proper leather armor and there were to be small metal plates sewn into it.  It was going to be heavier than she was used to, but it will be something stronger, yet as flexible as she was. Runa also ordered an Ebony one-handed sword and axe.  Adrianne informed them it would all be ready in about a week.  

When they were done at the blacksmith, they retrieved their horses from the stables and decided to go for a nice, relaxing ride through the moors of Whiterun Hold.  It was a beautiful day and the sun was out. You could see the snowy mountains as far as the eye could see and the moors were covered in wildflowers. It was a perfect day for horseback riding.  

Not a mile out, they suddenly heard clashing swords and a loud roar.  Of course, as curious as they were, they had to investigate.  

They reached a farm and saw several warriors, two men and two women fighting a giant.  Runa had seen giants from afar herding their mammoths, but she was always told to stay away, so she’s never seen one up this close!  

He was destroying the farm and killing the chickens for some reason.  He swung his giant club, hitting the chickens and they went flying through the air.  She would have laughed were it not for the fact the farmer’s livelihood was being destroyed. The giant was bigger than a house, filthy with a scraggly beard and hair.  It was also covered in these strange patterned scars.  

Whiterun was already struggling with crops, so these warriors were hired to stop him.  It was not easy because one blow from the giant’s club could instantly kill a person. The warriors were taking turns attacking the giant and quickly stepping back so the giant didn’t have one particular warrior to smash.  It would get distracted by one warrior while another attacked it from behind.  

Giants weren’t exactly the smartest or fastest creatures in Skyrim, but that didn’t mean one should underestimate them.  Both Kaidan and Runa jumped off their horses quickly and ran to help. Runa pulled out her bow and Kaidan his sword.  

Kaidan ran off to help the warriors while Runa stayed back, firing her arrows.  With their help, the giant finally fell with a loud, thunderous noise; dead.  

A beautiful, but fierce looking red-headed woman with war paint across her face came up to Kaidan and Runa to thank them for their help. “Well done.  We have been trying to bring down this giant for a while and, as you can see, it was no easy task. So, we appreciate the help.”  

Runa could see the other warriors approaching them.  A very tall and tough blonde woman also with war paint on her face and two large, very handsome dark-haired men that appeared to be identical twins.  They all greeted each other.

“Who are you people,” Runa asked.  

“I am Aela and this is Njada.  The two brutish twins over here are Farkas and Vilkas.  We are all part of the Companions, a Warrior’s Guild,” she explained.  

After introductions were made, Aela informed them that the Companions were accepting strong members like themselves and that if they were ever interested, to find Kodlak Whitemane, their Harbinger at Jorrvaskr, about joining.  

As the Companions walked off, Runa asked Kaidan what he thought about the Companions.

“Well, I wouldn’t say no to a blade made of Skyforged Steel.  We can talk to this Kodlak to tell us more on the Champions, if that is what you want.  As far as mercenaries go, you could do worse. But personally, I am always reluctant to join mercenaries from personal experiences.”  He didn’t bother to explain what those experiences were exactly.  

They rode their horses through the countryside for another hour longer, feeling refreshed from an easy day then headed back to the little house.  Once they got back, Runa put on a casual blue dress that matched her eyes with a leather corset and Kaidan removed his armor leaving just his pants and his tunic on.  When they were done, they headed over to The Bannered Mare Inn for some food and mead.

Chapter Text

After eating their roasted goat for dinner, Runa was excited to find out they sold sweet rolls, so she ordered a couple for herself and explained to Kaidan that if he wanted some, he would just have to order one for himself.  “No, I wouldn’t dare get between you and a sweet roll. I like living,” he laughed. 

After several meads, Runa realized she really didn’t know much about Kaidan other than what happened at the prison, his sword, and their own story together.  

“Kai?” she asked, slightly slurring her words.  “I realized I really don’t know much about you.” 

Kaidan stiffened a bit at that.  He wasn’t used to talking about himself.  He talked to her once before about some things and hoped that would have been sufficient.  “I...well, there really isn’t much to tell, really,” he said. 

“Oh, I don’t believe that for a second.  I am certain you have lived a very interesting life.” 

“Well, for good or bad…,” he said vaguely.  “Alright, what would you like to know?” he asked reluctantly. 

“Were you scared in prison?  I know I was, but what you went through with your back...,” she asked bluntly.  She was looking at him with great interest, with her head resting on her hand which was resting on the table. 

“Brynjar used to say, ‘If you’re not a little afraid, you’re not understanding the situation. ’  Fear I can deal with easily enough...but, there was a moment or two where I thought it might really be the end of me.  The Thalmor would never have let me go, no matter what I told them,” he said softly, clearly not comfortable talking about this. 

“Do you think the Thalmor will come after us?” 

“I don’t want to frighten you, but probably.  But we will be ready for them, alright?” 

“You are so much more confident than I am about that.  I have been trained, but I have never really had to fight for my life until recently.” 

“We have lived and learned and have overcome many difficult obstacles already.  We will do this. We will not let them get us again,” he said in such confidence. 

She nodded with that.  “Tell me more about Brynjar,” she asked, changing the subject. 

He sighed at this, “Brynjar was a Nord.  I may not be a Nord, but I lived like one and was trained like one.  I spent most of my childhood with him traveling Tamriel and crisscrossing across Skyrim.  Of course, as I go on with my journey, I am finding there was more to it than that.” He was looking down at his mead, eyes slightly unfocused thinking about the past.   

“How so,” she asked. 

“It was the constant moving, teaching me how to live in the wilderness.  Training me every day to fight. I learned to use a sword before I even learned to read,” he said, slightly raising his voice.  He was starting to look frustrated. Or, maybe it was just painful to look back at his life. 

“Sounds like you had an odd childhood.” 

He barked a laugh at that.  “You could say that. For my 13th birthday, he took me on a hunting trip in the wilderness, and when I woke the next morning he was nowhere to be found.  All he left me was some flint, a knife, and an empty waterskin. I managed to make it back to civilization after 2 days, no worse for wear though.” 

Runa sat up, angry at this, “Why would he do such a thing!  You were just a child!” 

“Well, looking back now, I think Brynjar was running from something, and he spent my whole life teaching me how to defend myself from... whatever it was.  But that run-in with the Thalmor...it, it seems to have shed some light on it though. Hopefully, we will find some definitive answers.” 

“Tell me about your mother; you said you didn’t know her, right?” 

“No, I don’t know much about my mother, only that the sword once belonged to her, as I said before.  Or, so that is what Brynjar told me. He also said she was brave and beautiful and clever, but not anything actually useful.”   

Runa reached out to hold his hand, “It sounds like you are a lot like her.” 

“I don’t think you would be saying such things if you really knew...  After his death, I took the job of bounty hunting; it was all I knew. And, it’s led me to some very interesting places.  And, some other years I...well. Perhaps the less said about parts of my past, the better...” 

“Please go on.  You can tell me; trust me.” 

He shook his head no.  “I...the way you are looking at me now will change.  I don’t want you to stop looking at me like that. I don’t want to see your eyes filled with disappointment and disgust.  Besides, it’s not really worth retelling.” 

“I don’t think I could ever feel that way about you like that.” 

“You say that now...” He sighed.  ”Fine, it’s nothing to be proud of, but I guess you will find out anyway.  Considering they were my mistakes, perhaps I shouldn’t deny them. I didn’t handle things well after Brynjar’s death and inherited some of his...his worst habits.  I was drinking a lot, taking lots of moon-sugar, one day blurring into another.” He reluctantly looked at her; when all he saw was compassion, he continued. 

“I fell into what I thought was a band of outlaws, people like me, people who seemed to be born on the path of destruction and death.  They called themselves the Blooded Dawn who worshiped a Daedric Prince, no less. I foolishly wanted a taste of that power and quickly learned the price.” 

“But you obviously escaped it, right?” 

“How I got free is a long and painful tale, one I shouldn’t burden you with and not one I am ready to talk about, I’m sorry.  Now that I am free, I try to keep my eyes and mind on more earthly matters. It is also one of the reasons I’m in Skyrim, as I said, digging up my past.  I’ve learned that if you feel you have no place in the world, you must make one.” 

They were silent for a while, sipping their mead when Runa looked up at him.  “I’m so sorry for what you went through.” 

Looking at her with much relief because the long silence was stressful to him, wanting to know what she was thinking about all of this.  “I’m not sorry...I’m not sorry because it set me on the path that met with yours. How could I possibly be sorry for myself, when I’m so grateful for that?” 

She leaned into him and kissed him deeply, not caring who may be watching.  To have someone feel for her like that and all he went through, made her feel like she was going to burst with combined happiness and sadness.  “I’m so glad to have met you too, Kai.” 

To not see disappointment in her eyes was the greatest gift.  But she doesn’t know everything.  I don’t think I could ever tell her despite how much I trust her.   “Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve met someone I can trust this much.  I’ve never told anyone my story.” 

“Would you mind telling me how Brynjar died?  Or is it too painful?” she asked. 

“No, it’s OK.  He died from exposure.  That’s what the priests called it anyway.  See, Brynjar had fought in the Great War but he lost his faith in the Empire after the Concordat was signed.  While it ended the Great War, it also banned the Nords from worshiping Talos, as you well know. That joined with whatever horrors he’d seen in action had scarred something in his mind; happens all too often.  So, he tried to fight those demons with drink. I had grown up seeing it so I didn’t quite notice how he had worsened over the years.” Retelling how Brynjar died made him realize that these memories were still painful to him. 

“One winter night he went out in search of something stronger, they found his body the next morning lying on the steps to the Temple, frozen solid.  I don’t know if he meant to kill himself, but it was clear he didn’t care if he did or not,” he finished. 

“Kai, that must have been so painful.” 

“I wasn’t sad, I was angry.  He could have died fighting, or as an old man surrounded by some family, or...” he was starting to get upset.  “Or, in any other way that might have had some bloody dignity. Instead, he just left...” 

“Kai,” Runa said softly holding his hand. “Kai, he was sick.  That doesn’t change all the good he did.” 

He looked up at her and seeing the goodness in her.  “Aye, I suppose you’re right...and a more forgiving person than I am.  Perhaps I could learn a thing or two from you,” he said, touching her face.   

“You will find your peace, Kai, as I will eventually find mine.  Dealing with loss will always be a hard thing, I believe.” 

“Thank you for, y’know, listening and not hating me for it all.” 

“How could I possibly hate you for your suffering.” 

With that they decided they had enough drinks and too many emotions, so headed back to the little house.

Chapter Text

When they got home, she informed him she was going to sleep. 

“Aye, I will stay up for a while and read so as to not disturb you.  You get your rest,” he said, completely oblivious. 

“Don’t you want to join me?” 

“It would be damn hard to sleep with a ‘dragon’ in my bed,'' he said mischievously. 

“Actually, sleep is NOT what I really had in mind, but sure, keep pretending you don’t know what I mean,” she laughed. 

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down to kiss her.  It was soft and gentle. He was so tall, he got tired sometimes of bending down, so he easily lifted her up as she wrapped her legs around his waist, careful not to touch his back and continued to kiss without giving each other cricks in their necks. 

Moving over to the large table, he put her down.  Sitting in one of the chairs in front of her, he started to remove her boots, learning from his mistake last night.  He lifted one of her legs up and started kissing all the way down to her toes. Once he was done, he stood back up and lifted her again to carry her upstairs as she was lightly kissing his neck.  He laid her gently down on the bed and went to light all the candles they had in the room.  

Removing his pants and boots, but leaving on his tunic, he climbed in bed with her and slowly started untying her corset and dress.  Lifting it up over her head, she was left with her shift on. They were lying down facing each other and he brushed away her hair so he could look at her, touching her rough skin where her healing scars were.  

His brows suddenly furrowed, looking at her.  “How can one feel so strongly for someone else in such a short period of time?  How is this possible?” His question was more rhetorical rather than expecting an answer.  

She felt the same way but didn’t have an answer for him.  She looked at him and then asked, “Have you ever been in love, Kai?” 

“Oh, I thought I was once or twice; when I was a little younger and a lot stupider,” he said playing with her hair. 

“Tell me about it.” 

“There was this noble lass, not unlike you, I was sweet on when I was a lad; she was married off to some courtier.  Maybe you will understand my hesitation when I found out about your wealth.  And, another lass later who turned out to be...well, trouble. Lust or infatuation it might have been, but I wouldn’t call it love,” he finished.  “What about you? Ever been shot with that arrow?” 

“I too thought I was once, but it didn’t end well.”  

“Need me to kill’em?”  

Runa must have had a shocked look on her face. “Oh, get that look off your face, I was only joking...Mostly.” 

“Well, to be fair, I’m sure my brothers did him some damage to him already.  He was a noble boy I was sweet on. I thought he loved me too. I was so shy and I wouldn’t let him kiss me or anything.  But he was always so sweet to me. I fell stupidly hard for him. 

One night we were putting our horses in the stables after an afternoon of riding.”  Her eyes looked so far away then, thinking back about what happened. “I thought he liked me, but all he wanted was sex, so he tried to take it from me.  I fought him hard and managed to escape, but not before he punched me in the face. 

I ran home bleeding and my brothers demanded I tell them what happened.  Let’s just say I never saw the boy again.” 

“I’m so sorry, Runa.  I’m glad you fought him off.  I’m not surprised you were strong like that.” 

“OK, enough sad stories!” she demanded.  I just want Kaidan and to feel his touches.  

He bent over to kiss her again.  He was propped up on his elbow and started tracing her curves with his fingers.  He slowly slipped the shift off of her shoulders and breast and delicately touched the soft skin, then lightly rolled her nipple between his fingers.  

Her eyes were closed enjoying his touch.  “Sit up. I want to remove your shift.” Sitting up she pulled the shift over her shoulders and threw it onto the floor.  Lying back down on her side again, he propped up one of her legs so he could feel her wetness. He dipped a finger deep inside her watching her as she closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling. 

While he was watching her, she gently massaged his shaft, touching the hard yet soft skin.  Her eyes were closed and suddenly found herself embarrassed and blushing. “Kai, I...I think...Can we try it?” Finally looking at him, blushing.  He wasn’t sure what she meant at first, but then quickly understood. 

Leaning over on top of her to look her in the eyes.  For her to give this to him left him in awe...that she trusted him so much with something so valuable.   So, he had to ask, “Are you sure? I need you to be 100% sure. Because you don’t look 100% sure.” 

“If I’m not sure, it’s only because I don’t know what to expect, but I’m sure I want to try it with you.”

“OK, Runa.”

Will...will it hurt?”  Looking at him nervously. 

Kaidan shrugged.  “I don’t really know for sure.  I think it’s different for men than it is for women, and I think it is different for each person on the whole.  I heard that you can bleed, not to scare you; that it’s normal, I think.” 

She nodded.  “OK...yes, I want to try it.  I want to feel what it is like to have you inside me.” 

“OK, we can give it a try.  I will go really slow and if it hurts, you tell me immediately and I will stop.  Deal?”

She nodded again and whispered, “Deal.”  She was slightly shaking and her hands were sweating from nervousness. 

He pulled his tunic over his head, bent over her and started kissing down her soft skin.  He wasn’t just going to get right into it; it should be a process. She should enjoy this as much as possible.  As he worked his way down her body, he spread her legs gently and started licking her between her legs on her tender spot.  She was moaning and pushing herself into his face, but suddenly pulled him up by his head. “This feels amazing, Kai, but I want to do this now.” 

Nodding, he sat up and inserted a couple of fingers into her and moved them around, trying to get a feel for her as well as giving her a taste of what it was like to have something inside her.  Even he was getting a bit nervous. When she seemed to enjoy that, he added another finger.

“How does that feel?  Does it hurt?” She shook her head looking at him, breathing hard. 

He spread her legs a bit further, hovered over her body and inserted just the tip as slow as he could, and pushed inside of her centimeter by centimeter; inch by inch.  Looking down at her, he saw her hands were clasping her head and her eyes were tightly closed with a furrowed brow holding her breath, “Runa is this hurting...you promised.” 

“A little bit...but don’t stop, please.  Not yet. I think this is something I’m going to have to get used to.” 

He nodded. “Runa, you need to breathe and try to relax, especially down there...you are clenching.”  

Once he felt her try to relax, he continued to move slowly back and forth in her.  It was taking everything he had to not shove it in all the way. It felt so good to him and she was so tight and wet, but he was not about to hurt her and lose her trust in him.  He moved in another few centimeters, slowing going farther and farther in. She moaned a little and he was uncertain if it was pleasure or pain; or both. “Runa...”  

“I’m...I’m OK. Keep going.”  

With that, he reached the end of the line.  A barrier was stopping any further progress and he knew that had to be pushed forward before he could go on.  When he tried to keep going from there, the pain was too much for her.

“Stop, stop, stop...”  He quickly pulled out. “I’m sorry,” she said covering her face with her hands in embarrassment and frustration.  “I must not be normal. Other women can do this!”  

He pulled her hands from her face so she could look at him.  “It’s OK. It seems pretty normal to me for it to hurt. It makes sense, so don’t feel bad about it.  I do know for sure it won’t hurt eventually. We will try again and again until it no longer hurts you, OK?  If that is what you want?” 

He held her for a while and she looked at him.  “What about you?” 

“What about me?” 

“We didn’t do anything for you.” 

“And?  Don’t worry about me.  It’s late, let’s get some rest,” he suggested. 

He fell asleep rather quickly and started to lightly snore, but Runa lay awake with her head on his shoulder and leg draped over his stomach.  She wished it didn’t hurt so much. She felt like she ruined things tonight and that maybe she shouldn’t have pushed it, but he was so patient and understanding with her.  She just hoped that it won’t take her too long to get used to him inside of her. Fantasizing what sex will eventually be like with Kai, she finally started to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

Kaidan awoke in the morning, blindly feeling around for Runa in bed, but there was just an empty space.  Suddenly he could feel some movement under the covers and a warmth spread through the lower half of his body.  He found himself getting very hard and looked down to see this lump moving up and down under the blanket and smiled laying his head back down.  

That’s one way to wake up.  

Lifting his head again, he removed the blanket so he could watch her.  She sure didn’t take long to figure what he likes as her warm tongue swirled around his tip while moving her hands firmly up and down his shaft. 

Taking him deep into her mouth, it didn’t take long before he exploded in her as she swallowed.  With each swallow it tightened her mouth around him, making him grab her head and move his hips back and forth a bit faster until he was finished.  

She looked up when she was done with a big smile on her face, sat up and kissed him on the cheek.  “Morning!!” she sang and then got up, stretched like a cat and headed downstairs completely naked. Looking back at her, smiling...I’m in serious trouble with this one. 

He got up and followed her down watching her get bread, cheese, and apples for them to eat before their day began.  Sitting down eating breakfast completely naked was a new thing for him, but he liked it, especially her being naked.  She had one leg propped up on the bench while she crumbled some cheese with her fingers and popped it in her mouth.  

She looked over at him.  “I think I would like to go try to visit the Greybeards, Kai.  I would like to head out today, if possible. It’s going to be kind of a long trip and to ask if you wanted to come with me.” 

“Of course, I will come with you,” he said, lightly rubbing her cheek with the back of his hand. 

“Thank you, Kai.  That means a lot to me.  I’m a bit nervous about all this Dragonborn stuff and what it means; what they can tell me or even want from me.  But it will also be nice to have some real answers if they can even provide that.” 

“If anyone is going to have answers to that, it will be them,” he assured her.  He was straddling the bench and she leaned her back into his chest. He wrapped an arm around her waist and started to kiss her shoulder and neck. 

“I just wonder why they didn’t reach out before.  When it happened to me with the dragon the first time, sucked its soul or whatever I did.”  She shuddered a bit at that. “Why did they wait so long?” 

“Well, looking back after it happened, you were unconscious for a while.  Maybe they did, but you couldn’t hear them.” 

She nodded at that and finished eating as he continued to gently kiss her neck making her wet.  He reached over her shoulder, moving his hand down between her legs...OK, my turn!  

********** 

After staying the night in Ivarstead, they headed out the next morning, preparing for the long hike up the mountain.  

Kaidan looked down at her adjusting her cloak.  “Ready for this?” She nodded and started to walk. 

They were exhausted by the time they reached the door.  Runa stood there for a moment, not just to breathe, but from nervousness.  This could change everything or nothing at all. She didn’t know and that was the point.  But, in the end, she wanted some answers and to not be afraid of what was happening to her.  Finally, she opened the large iron doors and went inside. 

Kaidan leaned over to her and whispered as soon as they saw the Greybeards appear, “I will be here in the corner if you need me.”  He started to walk away, but Runa grabbed his hand back and tightly held it as the men approached her. 

“So...a Dragonborn appears, at this moment in the turning of the age. I am Master Arngeir.  I speak for the Greybeards. Now, tell me, Dragonborn, why have you come here?” 

“Who are you? What is this place?” 

“We are the Greybeards, followers of the Way of the Voice.  You stand in High Hrothgar, on the slopes of Kynareth’s sacred mountain.  Here we commune with the voice of the sky, and strive to achieve a balance between our inner and outer selves.” 

“You call me Dragonborn.  What does it mean?” 

“First, let us see if you truly are Dragonborn.  Let us get a taste of your voice.” 

She looked at Kaidan with uncertainty.  He didn’t have the answers for her, so he just shrugged. 

As if reading her mind, Arngier said, “Do not be afraid.  Your Shout will not harm us.” 

Closing her eyes, clearing her mind as much as she could, she pulled deep within herself and shouted, “FUS!” 

“Dragonborn.  It is you. Welcome to High Hrothgar.” 

After a couple of hours spent with the Greybeards, she had learned two new shouts.  “Your quick mastery of a new Thu’um is...astonishing. I’d heard the stories of the abilities of Dragonborn, but to see it for myself...” 

“Thank you, Master.  I will continue my training.” 

“Good, then you will be ready for whatever lies ahead,” he said.   

It was dark by the time they got back to Ivarstead and decided to stay the night at the inn.  Kaidan grabbed them something to eat and a couple of meads. She really could use the mead after all that training and the exhausting trip up and down the mountain.  She was picking at her food lost in thought. 

Kaidan brushed away some of her hair from her face. “Are you OK?” 

She nodded her head. “I think so.  It’s all been a lot to take in. I’m glad to have answers and receive some help with these shouts.  But with the return of the dragons...and me being Dragonborn. I...well, it kind of has a destiny set for me, doesn’t it? I am the one who is going to have to deal with these dragons.  I’m the one who is going to have to find out why they are rising and what to do about it. It’s a lot to take in. Then they want to send me to some other dangerous ruin to retrieve another artifact...this Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.” 

He pulled her close to him and hugged her.  “But you aren’t going to be alone. I will be there with you.” 

She smiled at him.  “Hey, let me see your sword...,” changing the subject. 

He handed her his sword.  “I want to take a closer look now that I understand more of the dragon language.  Maybe I can make something out.” She leaned her back against his chest and propped up her feet on the bench.  She looked at his sword and concentrated on clearing her mind.  

“Zu’u kiin midoraad dovahzul, I think.  I can read it, but I still don’t know what it means.  ‘Dovah’ has something to do with dragons... Maybe with time, I can learn more and figure it out.”  She shrugged and handed him his sword back.

“Thank you for trying.  At least we know it is written in dragon language.” 

It was late by the time they decided to go to their room.  They stripped off their clothes and crawled into the bed. He fell asleep quickly, but she was still awake, unable to sleep.  She delicately traced her finger on his chest as she pushed aside thoughts of dragons and old men, just thinking about Kaidan and inhaling his musky scent, making her feel safe.  After just thinking of thoughts of him, sleep finally reached her

Chapter Text

Both Runa and Kaidan were very quiet on their ride back from Ivarstead.  Runa had a lot on her mind about this Dragonborn business and destinies. She didn’t like some unseen force “guiding” her to some predestined journey.  To her it means that everything has already been decided for her and it doesn’t matter what path she chooses. Not having choices is a scary thought. She would rather be the master of her own fate.   

She could deny being the Dragonborn, but at what cost?  How many will die because she was afraid or stubborn? But she couldn’t deny that this is a lot of pressure for a 19-year-old girl.  Sure, people have ruled whole empires younger than her, but hunting dragons and stopping the End of Times...    

Kaidan also had a lot on his mind.  It was hard enough to deal with the fact that he came from such a horrible life, most of which was of his own doing, to find someone who could possibly make him whole again only to find that he was unworthy of her.  He couldn’t shed these insecurities and that he has nothing. But it was worse than that. Something he may never be able to tell her. And, now that she’s also Dragonborn...it changed everything. That is something impossible to live up to.   

He promised her he would be at her side, and he will, but he needs to do something first.  He’s not going to try to live up to her level...that’s impossible. But he was going to do something about his own issues and have at least something to offer her.  

When they finally reached Whiterun, it was early evening.  They got home and she went straight to the large kettle and started heating up water for a soak.  All her muscles were screaming at her and she felt filthy.   

When the basin was filled, she walked up behind Kaidan who was sitting in a chair completely lost in thought.   She had no doubt that this Dragonborn businesses was bothering him as much as it was bothering her.  

She bent down to kiss his neck. “Will you join me?  There is definitely enough room for two.”   

He looked up and smiled at her. “Yes, give me a minute.”    

She was lathering in her favorite lavender soap and washing her hair when Kaidan got in.  He handed her a glass of Colovian Brandy she stole from her father’s collection while he sipped on his.  He sunk down into the hot water with her.  

He looked so tired and drained to her.  He has been so distracted and lost in thought for a while now.  She wanted to try and snap him out of it. She too had a lot on her mind, but she wanted them to just relax for a bit, while they could.  Enjoy their pleasures and each other while there was time.    

She watched him with his head back and eyes closed soaking in the hot water.  She headed over to him and straddled his lap while lathering his body with soap.  She took her rag and delicately washed his face with it. Working her way down with the rag, she washed his neck, arms and chest.  When she was done, she leaned in to kiss him on his neck.   

He smiled and wrapped one of his arms around her to bring her near to him.  She rested her head on his shoulder, slightly worried about his unresponsiveness.  She sat up and looked at him with his eyes still closed and his head still leaning back.

“Are...are you OK? Something is wrong, isn’t there.  More than what happened with the Greybeards?”    

He looked up and brushed her face with his hand. “No, there is nothing wrong, but there is something I have to do and you won’t like it.  I have to leave you for a while.”    

Runa sat up suddenly worried.  “Leave? Why? Where do you have to go?  Why do you have to leave?”    

“There’s just something I have to do.  It...it’s important. I will be gone for about two weeks.”  

“Two weeks?!  Why so long?”    

“Because what I have to do is going to take that long--actually longer.    

“And, you’re not going to tell me what it is?”  Suddenly she was feeling angry.    

“All I can promise you is that it is for us.  It’s something I have to do. But it will take time, so I will have to go back and forth for periods of time.”  

Runa wasn’t sure how she felt about all this--his distractions, evasive answers, his leaving without a reason.  Not just that, but Runa just realized she’s never actually been alone...ever. She was either always with a brother, a father, Alva, and now Kaidan.  She’s never spent any significant amount of time by herself and she was slightly afraid by it. She didn’t like this realization about herself.    

“I...I don’t understand.”  She quickly got out of the tub, put on her robe and headed upstairs to fix her hair before bed.  

While she was brushing her hair, he came up behind her and kissed her neck.  “You are clearly upset with me. I’m sorry for that.” That was the last thing he wanted but he couldn’t tell her what he was doing either.   

“I’m not upset at all.”    

“Runa, if you’re not upset, then I’m a frost spider.  Please turn around and look at me.”    

She turned around looking up at him with trying to not be upset.  “I just want to understand.”    

“I know you do.  It’s for us. I want you to trust me,” he said as he brushed her wet bangs out of her face and tucked them behind her ears.     

She softened with that.  “I do trust you. When...when are you leaving?”  

“In the morning.”  

“In the morning?!  So soon? Why?”    

“Because the quicker I leave, the sooner I can get back to you.”    

He was still wet and naked from the bath.  Kissing her neck, he slipped off her robe, lifted her off her feet and brought her to bed.  He could see she was a little teary-eyed; still upset he was leaving. He bent over to kiss her full lips and kissed her neck.   

She pushed him back and looked at him.  “Can we try again then; before you leave?”    

“Aye, that we can do.”  

He slid down between her legs to lick and suck on her to get her wet and ready.  Once she was sufficiently wet, he was already hard and slowly inserted himself into her.  This time she had her eyes opened looking down to watch and remembered to breathe. Trying not to clench was a bit harder for her, but Kaidan just kept reminding her to loosen up.  He kept pushing forward until he was in as far as he could go and just sat there like that for a bit. 

“How are you feeling?”    

“It hurts a little, but I’m fine, so far.”  

“I’m wondering if we should just be quick about this to...to get it over with.  Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much,” he suggested. “Once we can get past it, the pain will be less and then you can start to enjoy it.  

She nodded her head quickly. “OK.  OK, do it.” She shut her eyes tight as he pulled back and pushed himself quickly back in.  He was through. It hurt, but it wasn’t as bad as she thought it was going to be. Once it was over with, Kaidan worked slowly back and forth inside her.  It felt so good to be inside her and it was going to take all his will to control himself. He wants her to learn to enjoy it too.  

“How do you feel?”  

“I...I feel OK.  It’s OK. It doesn’t hurt much,” she said with a smile on her face.   

He smiled down at her, “Ready?”  

“There’s more?”  

He laughed a bit at that.  “Aye, there is more.”  

She nodded.  He started moving his hips faster this time, going in and out of her more quickly.  He wasn’t doing it too hard, but just a bit faster. He leaned down on her to suck on her breasts.  She liked this and he could feel her getting wetter inside, which in turn made him want to go faster.  

But then she pushed him up while he was moving faster because she wanted to watch it.  She liked seeing him go in and out of her. It was fascinating to her. Of course, her watching made him move that much harder; with her tightness and wetness.  

“Are...are...you still OK?” he asked, getting slightly out of breath and not just from exertion.  She nodded she was fine.  

“Can I go a little harder?”  

She nodded again.  While watching and feeling him go in and out of her harder and harder, she was getting wetter.  She could actually feel his excitement inside of her. Not just from him being hard; it was a sense she was having like she could feel this sort of electricity and tell he was getting close.  

She moved her hand down to touch herself while he was inside of her.  She could feel the warmth spread through her as she touched herself and him moving inside of her, so she rubbed herself harder and faster, causing her hips to move back and forth in rhythm with Kaidan.  She closed her eyes, arched into him, feeling the warmth spread through her body as she orgasmed.  

She convulsed and pulsated so strongly, it made him moan.  He watched her in her orgasmic throws and he was about to explode inside of her feeling her convulse on him; it was almost too tight by that point.  He was flushing and getting sweaty. It was too much and knew that he had to pull out before it was too late. He moaned loudly and quickly pulled out.  Finishing with his hand, he exploded all over her stomach.  

He rolled onto his back, still breathing heavily.  That was some of the best sex he had ever had. It wasn’t the best as far as positions, or uniqueness, or that it was passionate.  With Runa, it was so new to her, so the sex was very raw and very honest. She was fascinated to watch it all happen and not afraid to try to make herself enjoy it more.  It changed the whole dynamic of how sex had always been for him. He wanted more of it. Once his breathing settled, he sat up, grabbed a rag and cleaned her up.  

She was lying there with her eyes closed trying to steady her heart.  He touched her face and she opened her eyes to look at him, “Are you OK?  How did you like it? I...I tried to make pleasurable for you. It will get better and better.”  

She smiled lightly and nodded.  “I liked it and it was better than I expected it to be.  I always imagined this hard and painful pounding with the man spreading his seed in me and that was it.  Nothing else. I was always taught that is what men and women do to have babies or for a man’s pleasure only.  I didn’t expect to have pleasure too. Thank you, Kai, for being so patient with me. It was better than I could have ever hoped.”  Again, in awe of her honesty about all of it.  

He bent over her to kiss her deeply.  He laid back down and pulled her close to him as they quickly fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Runa spent the better part of the morning between pacing the room and trying to read a book for distractions.  Kaidan left in the early morning with Thor and he made her promise not to go dragon hunting without him and she made him promise to come back in one piece and without delay.   

Strange that it’s only been about two weeks since they have known each other and the little house felt so empty.  Those two weeks have felt like an eternity to her. It felt like she had known him all her life as if they were meant to be, which was strange coming from someone who didn’t believe in destiny or fate.  

They had been through so much together in such a short time.  She also knows now she is not used to being alone. But, if he’s going to do this again, then she’s just going to have to get used to it and keep herself busy.   

After the boredom set in, she decided to make some plans to stop by the temple in the morning to see if her family was settled in yet, then head out for the day to the manor and see how Alva was doing.  She missed Alva something fierce. 

She spent the rest of the afternoon shopping around Whiterun getting groceries and supplies for the house, plus a few new books she hadn’t yet read.  Then she decided to also go by the blacksmith to see if her armor and weapons were ready. Adrienne informed her that her equipment would be ready in two days. 

That evening she headed over to the Bannered Mare Inn for dinner and some mead.  The inn was lively tonight with a bard singing on the top of his lungs to be heard through all the noise.  She looked around to see if there was any place for her to sit. There was one spot left at the bar next to two other women.  She sat down and instantly recognized Aela who was with another dark-haired woman she didn’t recognize.  

“Hi, I remember you.  Aela, right?” she asked in hopes of sparking some conversation so she wouldn’t have to sit alone at the bar.   

“Yes, Runa, right?  This is Ria, another member of the Companions.”  Ria waved hello to Runa. 

“What are you all doing here?  Eating, drinking or both?” Runa asked. 

“No, we are just picking up some food to bring back to Jorrvaskr for everyone.  We generally eat and drink over there and keep mostly to ourselves.” 

Runa nodded not sure what else to say. 

“Where’s your hulking friend?” 

“Oh, he had to leave town for a couple of weeks.” 

“I see.  Well, do you want to come along with us?  I remembered how well you and your friend fought that giant.  Everyone would love to hear where you trained and, as I said before, we are always looking for people who are worthy of the Champions.” 

“Ok, I would like that.  I’ve never been in Jorrvaskr either, so it will be interesting to get to see it from the inside.” 

Runa was excited for a chance to possibly make some friends while Kaidan was gone.  She was going to need them. She followed Aela out of the Bannered Mare and into Jorrvaskr.  As soon as she walked in, she could see a large fire pit surrounded by a massive table. It looked like all the members were seated eating and drinking, talking and laughing.  It looked like one big, happy family. It gave her strong pangs from missing her own family. Trying to keep her eyes dry, she pushed it all back as she met everyone. 

“Everyone, this is Runa!  She is one of the people who helped us defeat that giant.  She was exceptional with the bow and I thought I would introduce her to our little family,” Aela announced. 

Runa waved to everyone and sat down at the table in the only chair available, next to one of the handsome twins on one side and an elderly gentleman with graying hair and beard on the other.  Someone handed her a mead and she was sipping on it, watching and listening, feeling a little out of place, but it was better than being alone.  

“I’m Kodlak Whitemane.  I’m the Harbinger here. So, you're interested in becoming a Companion?” 

“I am not sure.  I guess I’m looking for my place in this world and Aela suggested the Companions.  Mostly I was just looking for some friends or something,” she shrugged.  

“Master, we don’t even know who she is,” Vilkas complained not caring if Runa heard him or not.  

Great, I’m barely here for ten minutes and he’s already taken a dislike to me?

“Vilkas, I’m no one’s master.   And, if she wishes to join, it doesn’t hurt to see if she would be a good fit.”  Looking back at her, “Family and Honor is what it means to be a Companion. You look like you have a strength of spirit.  How are you in battle, girl? We know you can shoot arrows, but can you use a sword?” 

“I have been trained in several weapons, including one-handed swords, though I’m not quite strong enough for the great-sword,” she explained. 

“Vilkas, take her out to the courtyard and let’s see what she’s got.” 

Vilkas groaned, “Aye.” 

When Runa stood up, she saw that everyone had been quiet and listening; all excited to see Runa and Vilkas spar with swords.  Out in the courtyard, everyone took seats to watch her spar with him secretly placing bets. She assumed it was because he was probably one of their best swordsmen.  

While he was a two-handed weapon man, he picked up a one-handed sword for himself to balance things out for her. 

He handed her a sword and a shield.  She accepted the sword but turned down the shield.  Vilkas was not unlike Kai in that they were both very tall and broad with dark, medium length hair.  But that is where their similarities ended. He and his brother had such light blue eyes, they were almost silver, “You sure you don’t want that shield?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.   

She nodded her head, “I don’t use shields.”  

He shrugged and put down his shield as well.  “Alright, let’s see what you’ve got, girl. Give it all you got; I can take it,” Vilkas said slightly bored.

He doubts I have the strength and ability to handle him.  Maybe I don’t, but I’m no slouch either.   

It had been a while since she used a one-handed sword, so this would be good practice for her.  Once she stood in her stance, readying her sword, everything else became second nature to her. She held the hilt of her sword loosely in her hand trying to get familiar with her weapon and did a few swings to feel how it swung.   

“Attack!” Vilkas yelled impatiently. 

But she didn’t attack.  Watching him, she started circling Vilkas, looking for a hole or a good attack point.  Instead of her attacking, Vilkas must have sensed an attack point in her and attacked in an upward cut, using his height against her.  But she blocked him easily enough and because he came up into a downwards movement, she used her riposte under his arm. But he was fast enough to block her riposte and she backed up before he had a chance to attack again.  He smirked at her, thinking he had her figured out. 

He came quickly at her and she blocked him several times while he lunged at her to grapple her sword, but she backed up just before he had the chance.  She used the opportunity of his failed grappled to do a sideways cut and got him on his left side. She could hear the women cheering behind her and tried to tune them out.  

Vilkas seemed like he had a bit of a temper and didn’t like being hit by her.  To be fair, no one liked getting hit. He used several different cuts at once, rapidly lunging at her, forcing her to block his several blows, which she did.  In return, she rapidly lunged at him with her own attack, forcing him to block her and she quickly grappled his sword on the last block before he had a chance to step back. 

“Enough!” Kodlak yelled when he saw Vilkas start to get angry and was about to attack again.  “Well done, girl. You can definitely hold your own with a sword. Farkas! Show Runa around and see if there are any small jobs for her.” 

When they were done, Vilkas came up to her and stood very close to her, looking down smirking and deeply inhaling her.  That’s when he really looked at her, no longer bored. He was suddenly enthralled by her with her thick wavy black hair, pale skin, and those eyes... “Well done,” he whispered.  “You kept me on my toes. I wouldn’t mind dancing with you again sometime,” he winked. She suddenly found herself flushing and blushing, not knowing what to say to that. 

Aela also came up and whispered in her ear, “Well done, word is going to spread how you bested Vilkas.” 

With that Farkas took her around Jorrvaskr to show her around and meet everyone else.  He then gave her a small job, “Welcome to the Companions

Chapter Text

She set out early in the morning to go visit the temple and see about her father and brothers.  This was something she was dreading only because she missed them dearly, but she had to visit to make sure they were taken care of properly.  The priest at the temple showed her where her family was laid out in the Hall of the Dead. She spent a while crying heavily and saying her goodbyes to them.  She removed her father’s signet ring, the ring her mother gave to him, from her finger and put it in his tunic for the afterlife and left. 

After her goodbyes, she retrieved Butternut and made her way to visit Alva.  She missed her so much, but being in that house would have torn at her had she stayed.  Alva must have been informed that a rider was coming to the house, for she was already outside waiting for Runa. 

As Runa got off of Butternut, Alva looked at Runa closely.  It had only been over a week since she last saw her, but she looked so much older already; her Runa was a grown woman now.  Runa rushed to Alva and gave her a tearful hug. 

“Come on in, girl, and let’s get you something to eat.  You look dreadfully skinny!” Alva held her hand and guided her into the house.  

“Alva, you always thought I was too skinny,” she said, laughing a little. 

Sitting at the kitchen table, Runa started to devour the sweet rolls put in front of her.  “You sure do know how to spoil a girl, Alva.”   

“So, What’s going on, dear?  What have you been doing since you left?  Are you OK? You don’t seem to be all that happy.” 

“I’m fine.  Really. I just left the temple where Father and my brothers were laid to rest.”  Runa started to tear up again from the raw emotions of the morning.   

This made Alva tear up too as she pulled out her handkerchief.  “I’m so sorry dear. Are they well?” 

Runa just nodded.  “It’s not just that, but Kaidan just left for two weeks and I miss him already.  I have come to realize that I have never been alone in my life, it makes me a bit nervous and lonely.”  

“Runa, my dear, are you going to make me pry information out of you about Kaidan?  Has he been actually living with you?” Alva knew there was something between them, but she didn’t know the extent of it.  

“I...” Runa started blushing, not sure how much to tell Alva, but decided that she should just tell her the truth.  She was the only woman in her life she could talk to about these things. “I...we...uhm, I lost my virginity the other night to Kaidan,” she said blushing even more deeply.  

“Oh, Runa!  Why?! You know if you wanted to lose your virginity, all you had to do was go to the Temple of Mara, get an amulet, wear it.  Then you two could have been married first.” Alva wasn’t angry with her but believed Runa should have gone about it the proper way. 

“Alva, I do NOT want to get married!  At least not yet. I don’t want to rush these things like everyone else in Skyrim.  ‘Oh, here let me put on this necklace and find the first person who pays attention to me and marry them’.  I want to love my future husband,” she explained.   

“You grow to love.  That’s how it works.” 

“No, I don’t want to grow into it after marriage.  I want to grow into before.”  

She ate some more of her roll thinking about things.  “I...we have this really crazy connection. I don’t know what it is or why, but we just do.  When we made love, it just felt...right. If I was going to lose my virginity, it would be with him.  He is so kind and patient and...giving.”

“Do you love him?” Alva asked. 

“Actually, I’m not sure...maybe?  We barely know one another. I just know that we connect somehow and I feel strongly for him.  I do know I could love him. 

I know you taught me about sex and how to please men, but I never knew it could also be pleasurable for me too,” she continued, looking up at Alva.  She was still kind of embarrassed to be talking about such things, but she needed someone to talk to about it and not just with Kaidan. 

“I guess I should have told you about those things too, lass.  I just wanted to prepare you for marriage to a nobleman and they aren’t always...well, the kindest or most considerate towards a woman’s pleasure.  I’m so sorry, honey. I just didn’t want you...disappointed. It was foolish of me.” 

“No, it’s OK, Alva.”  Runa took her hand to it, starting to tear up.  “I guess with Father gone and no brothers, there will be no arranged marriage.  I never wanted to be married off, but I didn’t want it at the expense of my family.” 

“Oh, dear girl, come here.”  Alva held Runa as she quietly cried for a while. 

“Do you think Kaidan is a good man?” Alva asked, still holding her.  

Runa nodded. “Yes, I believe he is.  He had some rough moments in his life, but I trust him.  And, I know my wealth bothers him, but I think it’s something we can overcome.” 

“If you are happy and he is a good man, then I am happy too.” 

“Thank you, Alva.  For everything; for listening.” 

Alva begged Runa to stay the night, but Runa just couldn’t do it.  Not yet. Maybe in time. 

**********

Runa got back to Whiterun in the early evening and headed straight to do her quick job for the Companions.  It was just a simple “persuasion” job. Two people were in some argument and it was her job to settle things.  They wanted her to use some force, but she had a better idea since she wasn’t the biggest or strongest. It also wasn’t her style.  Alva had a few tricks up her sleeve to teach Runa how to deal with the opposite sex when she was growing up and persuade them to her way of thinking.   

Elrindir of the Drunken Huntsman had apparently been causing problems with an unknown person in Whiterun.  They hired the Companions to “remind” Elrindir of his obligations. She was sure “reminding” him involved some sort of beating, but she wasn’t about to do that.  Beating people was not her thing. 

“What can I do for you?” Elrindir asked smoothly when Runa walked in. 

Runa had loosened her tunic lacing so her shapely breasts were spilling out a bit.  She walked up to Elrindir and looked at him coyly behind her wavy hair. “Hi handsome,” she said as she leaned on his counter so he could look down her tunic.  

“You see we have this little problem in Whiterun and someone is upset with you,” she said in her sultriest voice with a little lip pout.  “Can you please fix this situation? For me? Please?” As she lightly drew one of her fingers from his face all the way down to his chest and stomach, just stopping at the top of his pants. 

Elrindir started sweating a little and stuttering, watching to see how far her hand would go, “Sss...sshh...sure.  I will...fix it.” 

“Oh, thank you so much, handsome!” she exclaimed happily as she kissed her index finger and pressed it to his mouth. 

See, no fists were necessary. 

She headed back to her new family to tell them the news.  An hour later, they all sat down at the great table to eat dinner and drink some mead. 

Vilkas was sitting next to her again at the table when he suddenly inched his chair closer to Runa and casually put his arm around shoulders playing with the top sleeve of her tunic. “I heard you dealt with Elrindir and that you didn’t have to beat it out of him,” Vilkas whispered with a smirk on his face, looking deeply into her eyes, then he moved his eyes down to her untied tunic.

“I heard he is rather smitten with you and I don’t blame him in the least.” 

“News sure does get around quickly here,” she said blushing again.  Why does he make me so flustered?   

She then caught him looking down her top and blushed even brighter when she realized she forgot to tie it back up when she left the Drunken Huntsman.  She quickly tied it back up as he smiled brightly at her watching her blush deeply. She’s even prettier when she blushes. 

She could flirt with some man to achieve her goal, but she couldn’t even think straight with Vilkas hovering over her. 

“It’s a small family,” he shrugged, feeling her heartbeat start to race from his flirtations.  “And, if you ever need to put me in my place, please do not hesitate to do so,” smiling at her.

“So, where is your big friend, anyway?” Vilkas asked, secretly wishing she hadn’t tied her tunic back up, but his other hand played a bit with her hair that was still draped over her shoulder giving her goosebumps. 

“He...he...uhm, had to leave town for a bit.” 

He bent over her, getting a little too close, inhaling her again and asked quietly, “He left you all alone?  I would never have left you all alone. You are way too beautiful to leave alone.” Making her blush even brighter, if that was possible.  “Soooo, is he a boyfriend? Friend? Cousin?” 

“Uhm...he...”  

“Runa!” yelled Farkas, making her jump as Vilkas smiled wide at her.  “You and me just North of Falkreath to deal with some vampires tomorrow.  This is a bigger job, so let’s not mess this up.” 

“I will miss you,” Vilkas said in her ear, sending goosebumps down her arm. 

Runa nodded at Farkas and decided to head home to get some sleep before the big job and get away from Vilkas before she would never be able to show her face again in sheer embarrassment.  How does he make her so flustered?!

Chapter Text

Runa met Farkas by the gates in Whiterun.  It was very early and the fog was thick, barely being able to see 15 feet in front of them.  “I hope this fog lifts soon,” grumbled Farkas. “You got a horse, I hope. We can rent one if you don’t.  It’s going to take us a day and a half to get there. We will camp overnight and head out early morning to deal with the Vampires by mid-day.”   

“I have a horse and sounds like a plan.”  

They both grabbed their horses and headed out in the dense fog.  Traveling in the fog always made Runa nervous. There are so many dangerous creatures in Skyrim and if you can’t see or hear them coming, it could mean your death.  Despite the fog, they traveled at a fast gallop so they wouldn’t be delayed. She was confident Butternut would sense trouble before it was too late.  

They rode for several hours in silence.  Farkas didn’t seem to talk a lot leaving Runa to her thoughts.  As if reading her mind, “I don’t like to talk much when it’s foggy like this.  I want to be able to hear what’s coming, not that I’m a big talker anyway. Vilkas is the talker.”  

As they rode on, Runa was wondering what Kaidan was doing.  She had been racking her brain trying to figure out what he had to do and why he couldn’t tell her.  He said it was for them, but she didn’t know what that meant either and assumed doing something for “them” couldn’t be a bad thing.  She just wished she were in on it. If she were really being honest with herself, she didn’t like being without him. They didn’t need anything.  They had a little house, food, clothing, and each other. What else could they need?  

But then her mind strangely wandered to Vilkas, thinking about how he made her so nervous and flustered.  He was very attractive and if she were single, she may have been interested in him, but he does seem a bit too forward with her.  When she got back, she would explain to him that she was with Kaidan to get him to stop his advances.  

By the time they reached camp, it was getting dark.  Farkas quickly set up their tents, as if he were an expert and went off to gather wood for the fire.  Runa pulled the horses to the little river next to where they were camping to water the horses. When she was done, she pulled out both of their bedrolls off their horses and set them in their tents.  She then grabbed some food out of her pack with some water she brought for them.  

Farkas returned quickly and started lighting the wood.  Once the fire was lit, she handed him some food and the waterskin.  “Any mead in that bag of yours?”  

“No, just water.  I thought it would be better if we were clear-headed for tomorrow.”  

He just nodded at that.  It was quiet for a long while when Farkas spoke out of the blue, “I think my brother likes you, especially after you bested him in swords.  He talks about you a lot.”  

Runa choked a bit on her water with his bluntness and blushed heavily. “I didn’t best him at anything.  He’s exceptional with the sword,” she said, unable to think of anything else to say on the matter.  

“To my brother you did.  You had him on his toes and that rarely happens.  He likes you for it, plus you’re beautiful,” he explained in his dull voice that sounded like he was perpetually bored.  

“Uhm, thanks.  He seemed angry at the time,” still heavily blushing at his frankness.  

“Nah, that’s just Vilkas. He gets passionate sometimes.  Vilkas is a good guy and I don’t just say that because he’s my brother.  He can come off strong and can get heated, but he’s got a big heart. Maybe you could give him a chance.”  

She didn’t know what to say about all of that and didn’t really want to talk about Vilkas, “Well, I am taken, Farkas.  I’m with Kaidan.  

“Ah well, but think about it, if you two don’t work out.”  

“Uhm, OK,” was all she could think of.  “Night,” she said, so the conversation would end.  

As predicted, they reached Shriekwind Bastion by mid-day.  Why do ruins always have to be so creepy and ominous, she thought.  Couldn’t some ruins be beautiful at least? But she supposed if one were a Vampire, they would choose the creepy ruins.  She hoped they also didn’t find giant spiders and draugr in there.  

Looking back, she should have asked to wait longer in Whiterun so she could have grabbed her new armor and weapons, which should have been ready.  She was suddenly feeling a little defenseless now since she has never confronted a Vampire before and she was starting to feel a bit nervous about it.  At least she had someone with her.  

“We better head in and get this over with,” Farkas instructed.  

She readied her bow as they headed into the bowels of the ruins.  They had to pass through a gate and an iron door that brought them to some stone steps which then led to a wooden door; there was an empty room on the right.  He listened by the door and whispered, “There is someone or something behind this door.”  

She nodded and readied her bow.  He opened the wooden door quickly to find a Volkihar female Vampire.  She instantly started at shooting them with fire spells and used her necromancy to turn a bandit corpse into a fighter for her.  Runa, disgusted, quickly dispatched the corpse, but the Vampire was more difficult to deal with. Not only was she shooting at them in rapid succession with her spells, but she was fast and moving quickly all over the room.  It was hard for Runa to take aim and shoot while dodging her spells. Farkas finally managed to corner her and overpower her with his great-sword while she was distracted by Runa’s arrows.  

They moved on quickly up a flight of stone steps to more iron doors, which led to a crypt.  Runa was praying there were no draugr. Instead, they were blessed with skeletons. They must have been reanimated by the Vampires.  Being old bones, at least they were easily destroyed. They eventually came out to this big cavernous area that had steps leading to the top and had a trap in the middle of the floor.  They bypassed the trap and headed up the stone steps, where they found two more skeletons.  

Continuing on, there was another large iron door that led to another crypt with more skeletons.  These skeletons were everywhere, she thought and starting to get annoying. Farkas seemed to barrel ahead with no regard for stealth or safety.  He was a brute and Runa wished he would slow down and take their time through the ruins. It was dangerous enough sneaking through them.  

But they kept on going at a fast pace until they found themselves in some sort of room that had two large gates and several skeletons.  Runa was firing off her bow to burn as many skeletons as she could, while Farkas dealt with the rest with his great-sword. Once inside, she could see there were three levers to pull in the middle of the room on the ground, she assumed opened the gates, but only one gate opened that had three chains.  After finally figuring out their sequence, the large gate opened so they could move on.  

The pathways just kept going up with more skeletons at every turn.  Thank the Nine they were easy to destroy, she thought. It could have been worse. They reached another room that looked like some sort of torture room; blood was everywhere.  Runa was feeling a little ill by all the gore when she turned to her right and suddenly saw a Vampire’s Thrall coming at her. Not noticing Farkas, he took his great-sword and decapitated the poor creature forcing her to choke back the bile.  

Why are there always so many decapitations?  Is this normal?

They finally reached the top to a large gate that seemed to be open with a pull-type lever on a pedestal.  As soon as Runa pulled it, it opened the gate, but flames started shooting out of the walls. It was a trap with no way to turn it off, so they had to contort their bodies and crawl in some areas so as not to be burned.  “Ow,” Farkas said in such a dull voice, she wondered if he was actually hurt at all. “Damn fire trap.”  

Finally reaching the gate through the fire they came to a wooden door.  Farkas stupidly barreled through it and found the Master Vampire who already knew they were there.  Runa cursing that she didn’t push them to be stealthier. This was the creature they were supposed to kill and Master Vampires were quite formidable, who were capable of very strong spells and were incredibly fast.  

Runa just could not get a bead on him with her bow, he was just all over the place shooting spells at them and she didn’t want to waste her arrows “in case” she hit him.  Then the Vampire suddenly seemed to vanish or the illusion of vanishing and Runa was scanning every area of the room to find him, heart-pounding and getting nervous; this was going to be trouble.  She did not like to not be able to see her target and KNEW she should have waited for her armor. Every noise made her turn quickly, thinking it was the Vampire.  

She could hear Farkas yelling, “Show yourself, coward!”  

“Shut up, Farkas!”  She needed to use all her senses and she couldn’t do that with Farkas yelling.

The Master Vampire suddenly reappeared right behind Runa and bit her before she could react.  A painful burning sensation coursed through her entire body as she fell; vision blurring...Kaidan was going to kill her.  The last thing she remembered was seeing a werewolf. That couldn’t be right...

Chapter Text

It took Kaidan a couple of days to reach Falkreath.  He hated leaving Runa and hated it even more that he couldn’t tell her what he was doing, but he didn’t lie that he was doing this for them.  There was news that Jarl Siddgier had several very profitable bounties and was looking for a new Thane and with it a parcel of land to build a new home by the lake.  It was the perfect opportunity for Kaidan to jump on and he wanted to get there quickly before anyone else took the job. He also knew the trader at Gray Pines Goods in Falkreath would exchange his gems and jewels he found in the ruins for Septims.   

He had nothing to offer her and that was going to end now.  He was going to do what he could to change his fortune; have something to offer her.  He felt like a freeloader staying with her in her little house and offering nothing else in return.  Sure, he knew she welcomed him and that she treated her home as “theirs," but to him, it wasn’t the same.  He spent his whole life running from the horrible things he had done to find someone so kind and caring and real.  Something he never sought after because he didn’t believe it actually existed. He was done running and he was done feeling sorry for himself. 

When Kaidan entered the Jarl’s Longhouse and saw the Jarl, he wondered if looking bored was a Jarl thing or if they were actually bored.  Kaidan stepped up to the Jarl and bowed.

“I’m here about your request for a new Thane and that you were seeking help with some bounties.” 

In a snake-like voice, the Jarl said, “Yes, good, someone useful around here, finally.  But first things first. There are a group of bandits in my Hold that I...may have had a few discreet dealings with.  The cut they were giving me was good at first, but now it’s time to clean things up.  Go and take care of it.” He shooed Kaidan away to do his bidding. 

“It will be done,” he said, bowing again. 

Kaidan talked to the Jarl’s Steward and got a list of bandit locations to deal with.  Heading out he stopped by the trader’s store and exchanged his treasures for a total of 2,500 Septims, which was a really great start. 

The first bandit location was at a mine called Bilegulch Mine, an Orichalcum ore mine.  It looked to be an old Orc settlement but now seems to be overrun by bandits. When he reached the mine, there weren’t that many bandits to dispatch and their leader was in the mine alone, who died quickly by his sword. 

It took Kaidan a few days to kill all the other bandit leaders in Cracked Tusk Keep, Embershard Mine, and Knifepoint Ridge.  Bandits were ruthless, but pin them against someone with any sort of skill and they were easily defeated.  

Bandits deserve nothing more than a knife in their spine.  He had a special hate for criminals who preyed on the weak and not just for personal reasons.  These bounties not only brought him closer to his goal, but he helped rid Falkreath of these pieces filth.  

When he returned, he provided the Jarl with proof that the bandit leaders were dead.  "The bandit leaders will trouble Falkreath no more, my Jarl.” 

Jarl Siddgeir was quite pleased with how quickly Kaidan got rid of the bandits in his Hold.  “Teach them to stop paying me. Here, you deserve a reward for your service. And, you know what?  I like you. You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty. I hereby grant you permission to purchase property in Falkreath hold.  Talk to my Steward if you’re interested. In the meantime, if you still wish to become Thane, you must make yourself known to my people.  Go do some favors for them or something...I don’t care.” 

“Thank you, my Jarl.” 

The Jarl was a disgusting piece of work, but he paid well.  Kaidan was going to try to be Thane, but for the moment, he was more focused on that piece of land.  He needed to get a start on it before he headed back to Runa. With only having a week left there wasn't much time to get started building a house, so he was going to have to hire a lot of people to work on it quickly.   

He now had enough Septims to buy building materials.  He headed over to Gray Pines Goods and purchased some clay, stone, nails, hinges, straw, and glass and had it delivered at the Lakeview location.  At the Inn, he rustled up some people to help him get started on building. Then he went to the mill to order enough logs to build the house. 

The next morning, he headed out to scout the area where he wanted to build the house exactly.  There was quite a bit of land, but the spot for the house had to be just right. When he got there, the location was absolutely gorgeous.  The land was surrounded by snowy mountains and filled with meadows of wildflowers of all sorts of colors from red to purple to yellow.  

There was plenty of game and the woods were thick.  There was a hilltop that looked out onto the lake, which would be the perfect location for the house, he decided.  They could live well here for a long time. He smiled feeling happy and proud of himself.  

Materials started arriving by the next afternoon.  It was a beautiful and warm day, so he removed his tunic and got started on laying down the foundation with some of the workers he hired.  He had it all planned out. It would have an entryway leading to a comfortable sitting room with a dining area and a kitchen in the back. On the right will be some guest bedrooms.  He designed a beautiful main bedroom, which will feature more bookcases, a fireplace, a wardrobe for clothes and a privy with a washbasin. The upstairs will feature two extra rooms with beds and the loft area will have a library and study.  He knew Runa was well-read, but he enjoyed reading just as much. There will also be a cellar for storage. The outside will have some gardens and a place to raise animals so they could be self-sufficient. 

In the evenings, he would sit in his tent carving into some bone by the light of the fire.  Brynjar taught him how to scrimshaw into Horker tusk and Kaidan enjoyed it because it relaxed him to do something artistic and detailed.  He didn’t do it often, but it reduced his tension when he did. When he was done working on his piece each night, he would lay down on his bedroll and think about Runa.

This wasn’t a marriage thing.  Maybe that can happen one day, but he’s not sure marriage would even be for him, or if she would even have him if she ever really knew him.  He didn’t hold out much hope for that. But since Runa and he were tied together for a while and he adored her, he wanted to be able to give her something.  He couldn’t have her providing everything. Since he spent most of his life running, it was time for a change. If she ended up without him or hating him, well at least he would have a home to come to that was all his.  But he hoped that wouldn’t come to pass. 

When his week was up, he loaded up Thor and gave him a kiss on his nose.  Thor expected a kiss and showed him by sticking out his nose every time Kaidan walked by.  It was strange kissing a horse on the nose, but Kaidan finally relented because it helped him bond with the horse.  “If you tell a soul I kiss you, I will never do it again.” Thor snorted as if he understood. When he was done loading, he looked back at his progress, smiled and headed out.

Chapter Text

Looking forward to seeing Runa, Kaidan rode Thor as fast as he could back to Whiterun.  He was eager to see her face and feel her warm body again. He missed her but didn’t realize how much until he could see Whiterun in the distance.  He hoped she liked his little gift as well. It wasn’t gold or jewels, but he worked hard on it and he thought it turned out well. 

It was early evening by the time he got into Whiterun, so she should be home.  He was back early enough that maybe they could head to the inn for some good food and mead.  Opening the door to the little house, he called out to her to let her know he was back, but he was greeted only with silence.  

He headed up the stairs to see if maybe she was napping, but the bed looked like it hadn’t been slept in.  Now that he thought about it, the house was cold as if she hadn’t been there for a while. He went to check the fire to see if there were any embers and found there were none.  So, not even a fire in a while. 

Where could she have gone?  He hoped she didn’t trek off to go kill a dragon or put herself in danger as he made her promise.  Heading to the inn, he thought maybe she would be there eating, but he was starting to have his doubts because of the coldness of the house.  She clearly hadn’t been home for some while.  

Starting to get nervous, he decided to ask around the inn when he didn’t see her.  Surely someone had seen her recently. He saw Andrienne, the blacksmith, and asked her if Runa had picked up her armor or weapons. 

“No, she never came to pick up her equipment.  It’s been sitting in my shop for a few days now.” 

Getting really nervous now, he talked to some of the other locals and they all shook their heads that they had not seen her.  Finally, he was able to talk to the barkeep, who had been very busy, and asked her about Runa. She said that she had seen Runa around several days ago with Aela and some of the other Companions. That Runa had been spending a lot of time with them recently.  That must be where she is, he thought with great relief. He thanked her and headed straight to Jorrvaskr to let her know he was back. 

When he entered Jorrvaskr, most of the Companions were sitting down eating dinner, but Runa was nowhere to be seen. 

“Where is she?  Where's Runa?” he demanded, getting worried and irritated.  One of the twins looked up at Kaidan, Vilkas he remembered and said with a strange concern in his eyes said otherwise, “We haven’t seen her for a few days.  She must be out with Farkas and Aela or Skjor somewhere doing some jobs. They haven’t been around since she left with Farkas to hunt Vampires a few days ago.” 

“VAMPIRES!” Kaidan suddenly roared.  “Why in Oblivion would you send her out to kill Vampires!  Are you people insane?!” 

Vilkas stood up and came over to Kaidan, getting irritated in return.  He didn’t like Kaidan, most particularly because he stood in the way between him and Runa.  “She is part of our family now. She had a job to do and she did it; honoring us.” 

“Runa is an abled lass, but sending her off to a dangerous situation to which she has never been in was stupid!  She knows absolutely nothing about vampires!” He inched closer to Vilkas in a threatening manner. 

Vilkas was very worried about Runa’s disappearance, but he wasn’t about to tell Kaidan that. “You are the stupid one for leaving her behind.  I would never have left a beautiful creature such as she alone. The fault lies with you.” Vilkas was getting in his face trying to provoke him; trying to take his worry out on Kaidan.  

He flirted and teased her, but he had genuine feelings for her and it didn’t help that she was with Kaidan and there was nothing he could do about it.  Everyone was watching to see what would happen between the two very large men. 

Kaidan tried to calm himself and breathe, he didn’t have time to beat the shit out of Vilkas, which he sorely wanted to do right now, knowing this man was just trying to provoke him.  Getting angry won’t find Runa.  

Rubbing his face with his hands, a bit calmer, he breathed, “When was she last seen?  Is it common to do a job and not come back?” 

Vilkas looked at the others and then back at Kaidan, no longer cocky and had concern back in his eyes.  “No, it’s not usual. She must be with Aela, Skjor, and Farkas, who are all very capable. She’s in good hands.” 

“How do you know she’s even with them if she hasn’t returned yet and she only traveled with Farkas for the job?” 

Vilkas finally relented and sighed heavily, “We don’t.”  He was just as worried about her and being angry at Kaidan won’t help matters. 

Kaidan was furious again.  “If ANYTHING has happened to her, by the Nine I swear I will send you all to the planes of Oblivion!” With that, he stormed out not sure what else to do.  

He was furious with those people having so little care for their members.  And, what is with that man, Vilkas, trying to provoke him? Did he have feelings for Runa?  If the Companions didn’t even know where their own members were, how could they know where Runa was?  He decided to head back to the little house and think. 

Splashing cold water on his face to calm himself down and eating a quick bite to eat, he paced the small downstairs room racking his brain on what to do.  She could be anywhere, he thought. Skyrim is a big place and he had no idea where to begin looking for her.  

There was a light knock on the door and Kaidan rushed to open it stupidly hoping it was Runa because why would she be knocking.  Instead, he saw a young woman with dark hair. A woman he saw earlier at Jorrvaskr. “Can I come in?” she asked. 

Kaidan let her in but didn’t invite her in further.  Towering over the smaller woman with his arms folded across his chest.  “What do you want?” 

“I’m Ria.  I first want to apologize for Vilkas.  You should know that he...he has grown really fond of Runa.  He’s actually very worried about her; worried about the other members too.  He’s just angry that you left her and...” 

“I do not give a fuck about Vilkas’ ‘feelings’ right now,” he interrupted.  She just confirmed what Kaidan already assumed. “Do you have any useful information or are you just here piss me off more about feelings Vilkas has for my Runa?” 

“Right, sorry.  Yes, well I think so.  A few nights ago, I was up getting something to eat when I heard heated arguments from Aela, Skjor, and Farkas.  I couldn’t really tell what they were saying because they were arguing in whispers. Since it was Farkas there and he was supposed to be with Runa...well, maybe something happened to her.  We are all worried right now and we were trying to keep it in house, but I thought you deserved to know.” 

“Right...let’s go.”  He pulled out his sword, then roughly grabbed Ria by the arm and marched them back to Jorrvaskr.  They headed downstairs where the living quarters were and everyone had gone to bed. “Which one is Vilkas’ room?” he whispered.  She nervously pointed to the right, down the hall. He marched down, drew his sword, opened Vilkas’ door silently and pressed his sword to Vilkas’ throat.  “You’re going to get up right now and you’re going to help me find Runa.” 

Vilkas looked like he was debating on risking a sword to the throat and beat the shit out of Kaidan or relent.  He chose the latter, nodded and got up to get dressed because he was very worried about her. He can beat the shit out of Kaidan later. 

As they were headed out of Jorrvaskr, several people came inside laughing loudly and Kaidan suddenly saw Aela, Farkas, and Runa. She was looking wild with her hair in knots and blood all over her.  He didn’t know whether to kiss her or throttle her. So many emotions were coursing through his mind and all he could say was, “Where in Oblivion have you been?!” 

Aela looked over and saw a very angry Kaidan with his sword drawn towards a stressed Vilkas looking like he wanted to kill.  She started to pull out her own sword, but Runa touched her arm to let her know it was OK. She saw enough on Kaidan’s face to tell that he was angry, so she didn’t immediately go up to him to hug him.  Farkas stepped up, “Let me explain...” 

Kaidan looked at him, “Shut...the...fuck...up.” 

Farkas raised his hands and went silent.  Kaidan sheathed his sword and grabbed Runa to bring her home.  Half dragging her as she was protesting. Finally, in the house, he was about to tear into her...

Chapter Text

“What in Oblivion are you doing?! What is wrong with you, Kaidan?! How dare you treat me like that in front of them! Or at all for that matter! I am not some petulant child! you are NOT my father and you do NOT own me!” she yelled. He had never seen her so angry; it brought him down a notch and he suddenly found himself at a loss for words.  

“I...I...Dammit, I was worried about you, Runa! I came back and no one knew where you were, there were signs that something bad happened to you and I didn’t know what to do! You come back wild looking and covered in blood...” He finally yelled back, stepping up closer to her to look down on her. He was fuming again.    

She didn’t back down an inch, “I’m fine! More than fine! I have never felt more alive...” She started to pace around the room with these wild eyes and wild hair. Looking back at him, she decided to tell him everything, “I was attacked by a Master Vampire; he bit me.”  

“What!!” He yelled more out of fear than anger. But she held up her hand to silence him so she could finish.    

“Yes, I thought I was going to die and come back as some undead monster. Farkas had to carry me out the ruins and he rushed me back to Whiterun. I was pretty out of it most of the time, so I don’t know all the details. I just remember I felt like I was on fire. My whole body was aflame on the inside as well as outside. It was so painful, Kai.  Aela, Skjor and Farkas must have brought me somewhere because when I woke up, I was in a cave-like place I didn’t recognize.”  

He sat down, deflated while she continued her story, rubbing his head with his hands. Worry etched all over his face and it hit him in the pit of his stomach. Was she a Vampire now? Is that why she’s covered in blood? She was feeding?  

“Are you a...a...” he couldn’t finish what he was trying to ask.  

She shook her head, “No, I’m not a Vampire. They cured me Kaidan!” she said excitedly. “Aela and Skyor saved me! I’m so much stronger and my senses are so finely tuned; I have never felt more alive! I...I can feel your heartbeat!” she said as she placed her hand on his chest.    

He looked up at her confused. “You see it was too late to cure me with any potions. We were too far from the nearest healer. I was turning into a Vampire. But you know what?  Aela, Skyor, Vilkas, and Farkas? They are Werewolves!” She was pacing back and forth, eyes wild, excited.  

“When I woke up a day later, I was a werewolf! I could feel everything. I could hear everything. I could sense a rabbit’s heartbeat a mile away! Don’t you see it? It was the only way to cure me from being undead. Now, I’m powerful and alive!”      

Kaidan just sat there worried for her and watching her pace. He wasn’t sure how this was any better. Runa a werewolf? No, this can’t be happening. He put his head in his hands and continued to listen to her.  Vampires? Werewolves?      

She bent down to move his hands from his face and looked up at him. “Kaidan, this is a good thing! I’m strong and alive and healthy! You don’t have to protect me anymore. When I transitioned back to my body, we went hunting. The Silver Hand has been slaughtering the werewolves; torturing them! We had to do something about it, so we wiped out two of their bases. It was exhilarating!”

‘Killing’ and ‘exhilarating’ was not how she would have described things before. Killing people bothered her; that was one of the things he liked about her.       

Kaidan stood up, not sure what to do about all this. Part of him wanted to go to the Champions and kill them all for what they had done to Runa. But it wouldn’t have changed the fact that Runa was now some werewolf, and this was also, in part, her fault. She shouldn’t have gone to kill that Vampire; a Master Vampire at that. She was very skilled, but she underestimated her enemy.    

“I missed you so much, Kaidan! I’m so glad you are back.” She looked up at him with her wild and hungry beautiful blue eyes. Staring intently into her eyes, he finally bent down, grabbed her face and kissed her deeply; angrily. After two weeks of missing her and full of panic and anger when he got back, he was suddenly hungry for her. He just couldn’t resist her, but it was anger and frustration that was fueling him. 

She pulled away, gasping for breath and tore his tunic off of him and lunged at his chest, biting him, scratching him. He too tore off her bloody tunic and ripping off her boots and pants.  Smelling the blood on her body fueled him even more.      

Lifting her roughly up, she wrapped her legs around his waist as he fumbled with his pants; pulling out his hard cock. He slammed her back against the wall and inserted himself into her wetness; fucking her hard and deep. He bit at her nipples while she screamed in pleasure. She grabbed at his hair and started pulling at it, biting and kissing his neck. This was the insatiable type of hunger that no matter how much you eat; you will never be full or satisfied.  

He moved as fast and hard as he could, not caring if he was hurting her. He wanted to get in as deep as he possibly could. All of his emotions went into each thrust and she brought out this animal in him. He could feel her clawing at him painfully; biting his shoulder and drawing blood. He ignored it while he pounded in her, biting her neck and roughly grabbing her hair.  

Looking at her heatedly in her wild blue eyes and it didn’t take him long before he exploded in her. He didn’t even bother pulling out. He wasn’t going to stop fucking her until he was fully spent. They stood like that with him still inside of her for a minute while their breathing calmed down.      

When he was done and clarity set in, they dislodged themselves and he looked at the mess that was Runa and what they did to each other. Their torn clothes were all over the floor, they had knocked over books, pottery, food. He could see bleeding bites and scratches all over him and her eyes were still wild and heated. This wasn’t Runa; this wasn’t him. The rough sex they just had brought back painful memories of another time; another life. Walking away from her, he went to bed. They were going to have to find some way to fix this or...he didn’t want to think about the alternative.    

That night, Runa was still very much awake. She sat curled up in the chair and watched Kaidan sleep fitfully. He looked so miserable and she hurt him; not just physically, but emotionally. He had scars all over his body from his past and the torture, and she just added to them because she couldn’t control herself. The look on his face when they were done pounding each other; she couldn’t bear it. That was a look of someone who was going to give up on her.      

This was wrong; it was all wrong. None of this should have happened. She wasn’t prepared for the Vampire and should not have been out there hunting it. She should have said no, but she wanted to prove herself; prove herself to her new family. Prove to herself that she could be strong and didn’t need a protector. She thought being a werewolf was the lesser of two evils, and Aela said such great things about it, but she saw how Kaidan had looked at her, it was clear this was all wrong. She was going to have to find a way to fix this. If anyone knew how to help her, it would be Kodlak. He had been talking for a while now about trying to find a cure. She would go see him in the morning.

Chapter Text

Before the sun came up, Runa threw on a shift and headed downstairs to clean up their mess from last night. Picking up Kaidan’s clothes, something fell out of his pants pocket onto the ground. She picked it up and looked closely at it. It was white and circular with a dark leather tie. It looked to be made from some sort of bone with a beautiful geometric pattern around the edge and in the center was a male and female deer with their necks entwined together. It was so beautiful and she wondered where Kaidan got it. She flipped it around and it had the same geometric circular pattern on the back and in the center was Runa’s name. Emotional pain hit her hard in her stomach and she went to sit down at the table. Did he make this?  

An hour later, Kaidan put some pants on and headed downstairs to get something to eat. He wasn’t very hungry, but he knew he had to eat something.  He wasn’t looking forward to facing Runa after last night. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he could see Runa sitting at the table in her shift. She had her back to him, so he couldn’t tell what she was doing.   

Part of him wanted to grab her and hold her; the other part of him wanted to just leave. It was naïve of him to think that things would always be perfect with someone he barely knew. And, now he knew her even less. She came home last night a completely different person; half of a person.  At the same time, he also knew that he wasn’t always a good person and had done some horrible things. If he could change for the better, then he could see about working on this situation; to give them a chance.    

He went to sit at the table next to her and saw her holding the talisman he carved for her. She must have found it when she was cleaning up. She was still a mess and it looked like she hadn’t slept all night. Her hair was in tangles, dried blood on her skin and tears running down her face. He found himself suddenly softening at that. He sat down looking at her but didn’t reach out.   

“Did you make this?” she whispered without looking up.    

“I did. I made it while I was away in the evenings.”    

“Is it for me?”   

“Of course; you can see your name on the back.”    

“I didn't know you were so artistic.”    

“I’m no silversmith, otherwise it would have been made from silver. But, I’m fairly good at scrimshaw, which Brynjar taught me. I usually work in Horker tusk, but I made this one from dragon bone from the last dragon we killed. It was very hard to work with, but I guess that means it will last a long time,” he explained.   

“It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”    

He put out his hand for her to hand him the talisman. When she reluctantly gave it back thinking he would take it away from her, he stood up and tied it around her neck. That suddenly made her cry.  

“I’m so sorry, Kai. I...I struggled without you. I am not a strong person like I thought I was. When you left, I realized I had never been alone before and I had no friends to speak of. I’m just a stupid, spoiled, noble girl. I ended up running into Aela and thought I would make some friends, but one thing led to another and now I’m this...this MONSTER!”   

He sat down, pulled her over to him so she could sit on his lap and he held her while she cried. Sitting on him while he held her made her cry that much more, partly from guilt and partly from relief. “I hurt you last night. I couldn’t control myself. I’m so sorry for everything.”    

He was still a bit angry with her, and at himself, if he were being brutally honest, but he was glad some of his old Runa was back. “It’s OK. But I’m going to be honest, I don’t know how I am going to handle this situation. This is going to be tough for me to deal with. I especially didn't like how I handled last night either.” She just nodded her head on his neck crying; feeling her tears spill down his shoulder.    

After some time holding each other quietly Runa spoke up, “I heard Kodlak talking a few times about him looking for a cure. I would like to go see him today about it if that is alright. Would...would you come with me?”   

“He thinks there is a cure out there?” he asked hopefully.    

“Maybe, I just heard him talking to the twins periodically about it without listening to the full conversation because that was before I knew what they really were. So, I wasn’t understanding what he was talking about until now.”   

“OK, yes, let’s go talk to him.”   

After she got herself cleaned up, they walked hand-in-hand to Jorrvaskr. When they entered inside, Vilkas was there walking up to them and blocked their path. He could see Runa had been crying, which made him angry. With arms crossed and looking Kaidan right in the eyes, “Runa, are you OK?”   

“Yes, Vilkas, I’m fine. He was just worried about me.”    

“We were all worried about you; I  was worried about you,” he said still looking at Kaidan, daring him to do something stupid.    

Kaidan sighed and threw clenched teeth, he said, “Vilkas get out of our way. We are here to talk to Kodlak.”    

“I just want to make sure you aren’t going to cause more trouble and upset our Runa here.”    

Kaidan had enough of Vilkas.  “She’s NOT you’re...”   

“ENOUGH!” Runa shouted and they both looked at her in shock. “Stop it! Vilkas, I am not anyone’s property, but I am with Kaidan, not you. Now if you will please, let us through.”    

Vilkas stepped aside looking back at her with a bit of sadness in his eyes. They headed down the stairs to the living quarters where Kodlak spent most of his time. When they got to Kodlak, Aela was speaking to him urgently and trying not to cry.  Kodlak nodded and patted her shoulder.    

When they sat down, Kodlak looked up, his face looking older than normal, “We have had some bad news.  Skjor was found dead last night at the hands of the Silver Hand. This is sad news for our family. It seems you all have taken more lives than honor demanded. There have been many deaths and all the attacks on the Silver Hand may cause a cycle of retaliation for some time to come, Skjor being the first of many, I’m afraid.”    

“I’m so very sorry, Kodlak.”   

“It’s no business of mine what each Companion does in the name of honor. But this sneaking around with you three; it doesn’t befit warriors of your standing.  Aela knows better, and so should you.”    

This made Runa feel even worse believing that their attacks on the Silver Hand were the direct cause of Skjor’s death.   

“Tell me, what would you like to discuss. It looks important judging by your faces.”   

“Yes, I heard you talking a few times about some cure. I was wondering if you could tell us about it? I didn’t ask to be changed into a werewolf, but I would have died had I not. I would like to know if there is a way to be myself again...to be cured?” she asked, looking at Kodlak hopefully.   

He looked at her for a while, “Have you heard the story of how we came to be werewolves?” 

Chapter Text

“Skjor said it was a blessing from Hircine and Vilkas said it was a curse laid upon the ancient Champions,” Runa said.  

“Skjor was a believer and Vilkas has a nugget of truth, but the reality is more complicated than either of them could tell you,” he explained.  

“What is the truth then?”  

“The Companions are nearly five thousand years old.  This matter of beastblood has only troubled us for a few hundred.  One of my predecessors was a good, but short-sighted man. He made a bargain with the witches of Glenmoril Coven.  If the Companions would hunt in the name of their lord, Hircine, we would be granted great power.”  

“So, they became werewolves?” Kaidan said in more of a statement rather than a question.  

Kodlak nodded his head, “They did not believe the change would be permanent.  The witches offered payment, like anyone else. But we had been deceived. The disease, you see, affects not just our bodies.  It seeps into the spirit. Upon death, werewolves are claimed by Hircine for his Hunting Grounds. For some, this is paradise, like for Aela or Skjor.  They want nothing more than to chase prey with their master for eternity. And that is their choice. But I am still a true Nord. And I wish for Sovngarde as my spirit home.”  

Runa was even more worried than before.  She not only had to worry if she could be cured or not, but now she had to worry about her very soul.  She didn’t want to die and end up a servant to a Daedric Prince. Kaidan too understood the cost...all too well.  

“So, is there a way to cure this?” she asked.  

“That is what I have spent my twilight years trying to find out.  And now I’ve found the answer. The witches’ magic ensnared us, and only their magic can release us.  They won’t give it willingly, but we can extract their foul powers by force. I want you to seek them out.  Go to their coven in the wilderness. Strike them down as a true warrior of the wild. And bring me their heads.  The seat of their abilities. From there, we may begin to undo centuries of impurity.”  

“Now wait a second!  The last time you all sent Runa to hunt down some creature she almost died from a Master Vampire, which forced you all to turn her into some werewolf in the first place!  Now her mortal soul is in danger. And you want to send her into a coven full of vile and powerful hagravens and kill not one, but ALL of them? There has GOT to be another way!”  This was all too much for Kaidan.  

“You only have half of it, son,” Kodlak said, unperturbed by Kaidan’s outburst.  “When you return, we will also have to re-forge Wuuthrad, which is in pieces. We have all the pieces, but once it’s re-forged, we have to take the intact great-axe of Ysgramor to open Ysgramor’s Tomb where we will hold the ritual to cure us.  The tomb is also full of many dangers.”  

Kaidan sat back in his chair, pinching the bridge of his nose feeling a headache coming on and sighed heavily.  What a fucking mess .  

Runa then stood up. “It will be done.”  She walked off before she could hear Kaidan’s protests as if that would stop him--or he could stop her.  She was going to do this, no matter what.  

When they got back to the little house, Kaidan didn’t say anything at all to Runa’s surprise.  No protests, no complaining, no arguing...nothing. He just started loading up their packs and gathering their weapons for the trip.  

“Tomorrow, the very first thing we are doing is getting your armor and weapons,” he finally said.  He was stressed but determined. 

“Why aren’t you stopping me from doing this?  What has changed suddenly?” 

After he didn’t respond, “Kaidan!” 

He turned around to face her and looked at her with worry.  “I am glad to have some answers for a possible cure. But this may mean our deaths over something that may or may not work.  But, I’m not letting you go alone on this. I’m worried that I will lose you, but if we don’t do this, I may lose you anyway.”  

After a long pause, “If there is a chance to cure you, then we should take it despite the dangers.  I don’t want you controlled by some damned Daedric Prince. They’re...they’re monsters.” 

He grabbed her to him and just held her. “I don’t know what in Oblivion you do to me.  You have my emotions running all over the damned place and I feel like I’m going to go crazy.  I don’t know whether I’m coming or going half the time with you. This is completely unfamiliar territory for me.” 

“It’s OK.  I understand.”  She melded into him, happy to be holding him after everything.  She wasn’t sure if he would even still be here, but he is and he was coming with her to help cure her. 

He pulled back from her and looked down into her eyes.  She could see he was struggling with something internally.  What it was, she could not guess and was afraid to ask. But she knew that just because he was coming with her didn’t mean he was going to stay with her.  Their relationship was now full of uncertainties and it was all her fault. She hated the feeling.

All he was feeling was fear.  He knew how dangerous it was to be involved in Daedric Princes on a personal level.  He almost died escaping that life and he didn’t want Runa to have to suffer what he did.  She was too beautiful of a soul to end up in the hands of one of them. She deserved more than that.

These strong feelings I have for her are so confusing.  I’m angry at the same time doing everything I can to not panic and worry...and something else.  If something happens to her, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

**********

The first thing they did in the morning before heading out was to pick up her leather armor and weapons.  Kaidan made her wear it before they headed out. It was a lot heavier than she was used to. It was thick leather with sewn metal plates that would protect her but allow for easy movement.  It wasn’t as pretty as her other leather pieces, but it would protect her much better. 

She tested out her ebony sword and axe.  Swinging, cutting, slicing. They both felt exceptional in her hands.  Adrianne did a phenomenal job on all of her gear. Kaidan watched her expertise with the dual weapons in her new armor.  She moved very well in it despite the heaviness. It made him feel better that she was more prepared for what is to come.  She strapped on her belt to attach her new weapons; the axe on her right hip and the sword in its scabbard on the left, with her bow on her back.  She was now ready for any encounters.

Chapter Text

Glenmoril Coven was located in a cave far West of Falkreath, just bordering on The Reach territory.  It would take three days to get to their destination by horse, so they had to be supplied and prepared to camp.  They decided the first night would be spent in Riverwood and in the morning, they would head directly West from there. 

That evening they were back, again, at the Sleeping Giant Inn.  “This is becoming a regular habit for us,” Runa awkwardly chuckled as they sat down waiting to order some food and mead. 

“Let me get this tonight.  I have a bit of coin and want to buy you dinner for a change,” Kaidan said. 

“Oh, well thank you, Kai.” 

“Please, it’s the least I can do.  You pay for everything and I don’t like that I can’t do the same in return.” 

“It’s OK, Kai. I am able to do it, so I do; it’s my pleasure to.  I don’t do it for obligations or you owe me something.” 

“I know, but it doesn’t feel right,” he looked sheepishly up at her. 

She nodded, “I can understand that.”

Runa had been increasingly nervous around Kaidan.  She wasn’t sure what to say or do; afraid to touch him.  This was the first time she had felt insecure about everything. 

They were quiet most of the evening eating and sipping mead; not sure exactly what to say to each other.  The past couple of days had been very trying on their fledgling relationship. Both of them struggling to know what to say and wondering what the other was thinking.  

This wasn’t at all how he imagined coming back to her after two weeks.  He was also disappointed by not being able to give her his talisman in a special way.  It may not have worked out according to plan, but at least he knew she loved it as he was watching her play with it lost in thought.  

She looked at him with uncertainty, then quickly looked down at her food.  He probably doesn’t want to be with me tonight.   “It’s, uhm, pretty quiet tonight and they probably have more than one room.  Do...do you want your own room, or...I...or would you like to stay with me?” 

He looked at her in all her uncertainty and nervousness.  “I’m going to be honest with you, Runa.” As he said that, her stomach flip-flopped and not in a good way and she couldn’t keep her eyes from watering.  She could hear the bad news in his voice and words.

“I...I don’t like how I behaved around you the other night.  I behaved like...like a fucking animal and I wasn't responsible.  I shouldn’t have done that and I’m not proud of myself. I should have controlled myself.  I...I’m sorry.” 

She sat there in silence dreading what was going to come next.  He’s going to tell me it wasn’t going to work out.  He can’t trust me.

“I...dammit, it’s just that all this brought back some bad memories.  Things I didn’t want to think about and...and, we just started you and me.  It was nice, it was real, it was honest. I want more of that. But, this...” he shook his head, brow furrowed and chugged the rest of his mead. 

Was?   Tears were uncontrollably spilling now.  But she had to speak up. Keep him with her somehow.

“You feel bad about that night and you are blaming yourself?  But I too was involved. I too lost my control. I have been blaming myself for that since.  And, I never once thought you were at fault in any way. But I also know you are angry with me.  I wish I could take it all back.” 

They were quiet again for a while as she was trying to keep her tears under control.  Then she felt his hand reach for hers and were holding hands across the table, which made her that much more upset.  She was trying not to cry in public...it was embarrassing. 

He saw she was clearly upset and he didn’t know what else to say to her.  He was trying to figure out all his emotions and was too confused to approach hers.

After a while, Runa spoke up.  Her curiosity getting the better of her about what he said earlier.  “You said that it brought back bad memories; what happened?” 

“I can’t right now, Runa.  I’m...I’m just not ready for that.”  She just nodded at that. 

Kaidan let go of her hand and stood up to talk to the barkeep and came back with two more mead.  “I got us a room...one room.” 

Runa smiled slightly and wiped away tears while sipping on her new mead. 

They both removed their armor and clothes when they got to their room and crawled into bed; both of them facing each other.  He moved her hair out of her face; it had become something of a habit for him to do, so he could look at her.   

He wanted her.  He always wanted her.  But after last time, he was having a hard time trusting himself, especially with the way she was, being a werewolf.  It sounded so strange in his head. So, they just fell asleep in each other’s arms.

********** 

They got an early start in the morning.  The ride was easy on their horses as it was fairly level by the lake and there was a well-traveled road.  It was also beautiful. Falkreath was a lovely area that had flat green meadows surrounded by thick woods and mountains.  The beautifully large lake was to die for.  

Kaidan made no mention of all the work he was doing in the area.  The house he was having built wasn’t far off from where they currently were. 

They decided to camp at a pretty little spot by the lake.  Runa got the fire together while Kaidan set up their tent and bedrolls.  After their meal, they sat silently in their tent together. She wanted so badly to be near him and hold him.  After last night holding each other in bed, she hoped they were past all this. But Kaidan was not making any move to be near her or even look at her for that matter.  He still seemed so far away. 

She couldn’t take it anymore.  “Kaidan!” She finally said after a long while, exasperated.  “We can’t keep avoiding each other. You have been completely somewhere else and I can’t seem to reach you.  We have to get past this...please.” She looked at him imploringly trying not to cry again. 

But he didn’t respond right away.  He was trying to think of the right words.  Runa couldn’t take it anymore and stood up to leave...go for a walk or something.  But as she stood, he grasped her hand to pull her back down. She sat and looked at him, waiting to see what he had to say.

“I...I promised you a debt when you freed me from that prison.  Most would say that my debt has been paid now...” 

Her eyes started to water as she interrupted him, “So, you...you are you leaving then?  After this?” 

He looked over at her with wide eyes.  “What? No...no, that was not what I was saying.  I’m...let me start over. I have been on my own for a long time and had no place where I belonged; no one I could trust...” He was silent for a moment, trying to think of the words. 

Get it together, Kaidan.

“There are many ways to save a life and you have saved mine more ways than I can count,” he continued. 

This she was not expecting, wiping away her tears.  She was expecting something along the lines that he wanted to move on after they found the cure.  She wanted to reach out to him, but still too uncertain.

“Kai, I...” 

“Please let me finish before I say this all wrong.  Dammit, a man should be a master of himself, but when I’m with you that control slips just out of reach.  I...I want you more than just tasting your lips or feeling your skin on mine...” Why can’t I get these words out?

It was clear he was struggling with the words and he looked stressed.  “It’s OK. You can tell me anything.” 

He looked at her then.  “That’s the thing; I feel like I can do just that.  You are so precious to me. Every morning I wake up, my first thought is of you and I get this hope I’ve never had before that...maybe I shouldn’t go on.”  He went back to looking at the fire. He finally recognized all these feelings he had for her but was struggling to put them into words.

She put her hand on his face to make him look at her.  “Please tell me.” 

He sighed heavily, looking into her watery eyes.  Just out with it already.   “I’m in love with you, Runa.  That is why it has been hard for me when I got back to Whiterun.  I was so terrified I was going to lose you and after I finally found some sort of hope in this world.  I finally recognized what I had been feeling all along.” 

That was the last thing she was expecting him to say.  She too had been feeling the same way. She recognized it when she was talking to Alva the last time, but didn’t tell her.  

She wiped her face of tears and didn’t waste a second more.  “Kai...I love you too.” 

He breathed a sigh of relief; the relief apparent on his face. “Then tell me again and I might be satisfied...”

“I love you.” 

Kaidan finally let go of his fear of hurting her and she let go of hers.  He lifted her to sit on his lap facing him as he kissed her deeply. He was just going to hold her and kiss her, but after a declaration such as theirs, the kissing and touching took on a whole new meaning and feeling.  It was passionate and deep. It wasn’t rushed or hurtful.  

They removed their armor and clothes and she settled onto his lap and he inserted himself into her while he thrust gently.  He gently massaged her breast and kissed her neck while she kissed his shoulder and tried to keep his rhythmic pace. She was still new at this and figuring out what to do and not to do. 

As he felt himself getting closer, he lifted her with him still inside her and laid her down gently on the bedroll.  He wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. His climax was completely different than what it had been before. It was amazing how different things feel with someone you love and they love you back.  

When they were done, she curled up into him and just cried.  It was a happy cry, a relief cry and a cry that he loved her and wasn’t going to leave her.  He just held her tightly and let her cry.

Chapter Text

Their next destination was Glenmoril Coven.  Their silence in the morning was an indication of their nervousness. 

"According to legend, these witches were once regular women who exchanged their humanity for the ability to become hagravens who had a strange and extreme hatred for nature.  They look like part old woman and part raven with black feathers on their arms and legs and talon-like feet. They are also powerful spellcasters, but if one gets too close, they can claw you and infect you with brain rot.  Hagravens were not to be underestimated."  Kaidan explained this to an attentive Runa.  She didn't want to make the same mistakes as last time with the vampires.  

Kaidan explained that he wanted her to shoot at them from a distance, as will he, and to let him handle any close encounters should the need arise.  He didn't want her anywhere near these witches.

They managed to kill four of the five hagravens with relative ease using stealth but the fifth one knew they were there and she was waiting for them.  Runa was too busy dodging the witch's fireballs to shoot her arrows at the creature, forcing Kaidan to get up close to her with his sword, but the hagraven was ready for him and sliced at his arm through his leather with her talons.  Kaidan quickly decapitated her as he dropped to the ground feeling her poison enter his blood, spreading through his body. He could feel the burning coursing through him.  

Runa didn’t waste a second on panicking.  She grabbed the potion to cure diseases they brought with them just for this very thing.  They were going to be prepared this time. She rushed over to Kaidan and made him drink it quickly before the disease hit his brain.  It took a second for the fire in his body to stop spreading and he sat there for a minute to catch his breath and still his heart until he was feeling normal again. 

“That was too close, Kai.” 

Nodding, “Aye, I know.  I am glad we were prepared.  Thank you for getting me that potion so quickly.” 

“Are you OK?”  She was now letting the panic set in.  Her hands were suddenly shaking and her heart was beating hard in her chest as she was hit with a surge of adrenaline.  “I could have lost you right then and there. That was a horrible feeling!” 

“I’m OK, Love,” he said getting up and kissing her forehead. 

Not wasting any more time, they grabbed the heads and headed back straight to Whiterun. 

When Runa and Kaidan finally made it back, they had to get some sleep before meeting Kodlak.  They could barely keep their eyes open when they reached home. He placed the bag in a barrel tightly so it wouldn’t stink up the place then they crashed in bed, barely removing their armor and slept for several hours.  When they awoke, they didn’t waste any more time and headed straight to Jorrvaskr. 

As they got closer, they noticed there was a crowd around Jorrvaskr, staring and pointing.  They both sensed something bad was going on. As they moved closer and they could see several dead bodies strewn all over the ground.  Neither Runa nor Kaidan recognized who they were, why they were dead or what had happened. Entering Jorrvaskr, they saw a couple of the Companions injured on the ground being treated and saw a few more dead bodies. 

“Where in Oblivion have you been!” yelled Vilkas as soon as he saw Runa and Kaidan walk in. 

“We were out on a mission for Kodlak,” Runa replied quietly, looking around at all the destruction and bodies.  “What’s happened here?”

“Well, I do hope it was all worth it because you weren't here to protect him...protect Kodlak,” he said angrily, arms crossed.  She looked at him and saw he had some wounds and his armor was covered in blood.

“Wait, what?  Kodlak is...is dead?”  Fear and sadness gripped Runa.  She looked over and saw several Companions mourning over a body that she quickly noticed it was Kodlak.  Tears sprung up in her eyes. He was such a kind man. But the tears were also for her, wondering if she would ever be cured.

“Yes, he’s dead!  The Silver Hand finally got the balls to attack Jorrvaskr.  We were outnumbered and Kodlak fell. They also made off with the pieces of Wuuthrad.  By the Gods, I swear I’m going to kill them all!” 

Vilkas got close to Runa, looking at her angrily, not calming or softening at her tears.  “You are coming with me now. We are going to avenge Kodlak and we are going to bring back the pieces of Wuuthrad.  Those bastards will regret raising their weapons against Jorrvaskr!” Vilkas stormed off to get ready and yelling back, “meet me in 15 minutes outside.” 

Runa and Kaidan just looked at each other with worry etched all over their faces.  Worried for her, worried about Vilka’s vengeance and worried about their ability to fight since they were so exhausted. 

Runa quickly ran after Vilkas.  “Vilkas,” she said gently when she found him outside, putting her arm around his arm to try to calm him down.  “We just got back from an errand for Kodlak. It was long and we have barely slept for three days. I...I know you are upset, as I am, but I’m not sure we have the strength to travel another two days and then go into battle with the Silver Hand.  And, you...you know he wouldn’t like you to seek vengeance.” 

He turned to look at her, too angry to be calmed.  “You weren’t here to protect him. You are coming and we will finally put an end to the Silver Hand.  They do not know we are coming to their actual headquarters, so we will make camp for rest and food. I want you at your best.  I will not accept failure. They will all die!” 

He then looked at Kaidan.  “You are not a Companion. Feel free to stay behind.”  With that, he stormed off to get his horse.   

Runa and Kaidan looked at each other again and followed Vilkas to the stables.  Kaidan had no intention of staying behind. This was also going to be hard on their horses.  Fortunately, Nord horses were very sturdy. They rode hard and fast until they reached the mountains and decided to make camp there.  It was snowing heavily and it was very cold, so they made a larger fire than normal. Once they got settled, they all hovered close to the fire wrapped in fur cloaks and hoods and had a bite to eat. 

Vilkas sat there nibbling at his food, getting lost in the dancing fire, not talking.  His face was still so full of rage. It was either be angry or cry. He was a warrior; warriors don’t weep.  Tears were a weakness. Runa touched Kaidan’s arm to let him know she was going to sit next to Vilkas and tried to comfort him.  Try again to get him to calm down. 

She sat down next to him and put an arm around his shoulders.  “I’m so sorry for your loss, Vilkas. He was truly a great man.  It’s OK if you are upset. It’s not weak to shed a tear for someone you loved,” she said as if reading what had been on his mind. 

“Kodlak was like a father to me and Farkas,” he said, staring into the fire.  Her warmth next to him was comforting and calming. “He was the only father figure me and my brother have ever really known.  We would have died for him. He was a true warrior and stood for what every Companion should be. He wanted to be cured so he could be among his fellow warriors in Sovngarde.  Now he will be forced into the Hunt with Hircine for eternity,” he choked back. She squeezed her arm tighter around his shoulders for comfort. But no amount of comfort and soothing was going to force a tear out of his rigidness and anger.

“Well, maybe we can no longer help him, unfortunately, but we can help ourselves.” 

“What do you mean,” he asked, finally looking at her.  If he weren’t so angry, he could easily get lost in her blue eyes.  She just had this calming aura about her. 

“He sent Kaidan and I to find a way to cure us all.  Our mission was to bring back the heads of the Glenmoril Coven witches.  Use their magic to cure us since it was their magic that cursed us. Then we were to re-forge Wuuthrad to gain entry into Ysgramor’s Tomb.  That is where we were to perform the right of cleansing ourselves. Maybe we can do one in honor of Kodlak while we are there.” 

Vilkas nodded his head.  He liked that idea. “That would be good if we could do that.  Yes, I...I would like that. And, I think curing ourselves in honor of him as well is what we should do...something I have to do.  I have struggled with my beast for a long time and I’m eager to be rid of it.  But we have to make sure we get the pieces of Wuuthrad back from the Silver Hand or else we won’t be doing any curing.”

Sensing he was calmer now, she gave him a little hug and a kiss on his forehead.  She was about to stand and get back to Kaidan, but he hugged her back tightly, nestling his face into her neck inhaling her scent deeply.  He almost then shed a tear, but he choked it all back. He didn’t want to let her go. She had such a calming effect on him and wanted her to stay.  

Kaidan watched all this with unease and slight jealousy, ready to step in if Vilkas tried anything.  But Runa had it all under control. She gently removed his arms, stood up and headed back to Kaidan. 

Vilkas regretfully watched her walk off to go sit next to him, feeling his anger and jealousy rise again.  He watched her put her head on his shoulder and him putting his arm around her to keep her warm, looking down at her with such tenderness.  Kaidan then kissed her head.  

Vilkas was so jealous of him and it made him angry to feel this way, especially since he was already angry.  Any calming effect Runa had on him vanished after watching the two together.  

He wanted Runa and could never have her.  She was the only woman he knew who could truly hold her own against him.  She was patient, kind, but strong. Something he admired greatly. She helped keep his beast at bay just then and it felt so good to have the beast calm, even for a short while.  Not only was she capable, but she was beautiful.  I wish Kaidan stayed behind.  Though I certainly wouldn’t have. Not with a woman like her.

He didn’t want to watch them anymore and went to his bedroll to try to get some sleep.  But sleep was difficult with his rage and jealousy.

Chapter Text

They reached the old fort by nightfall.  They were to go in stealthily and take out as many Silver Hand as they could without being noticed.  Because Kaidan and Vilkas were two-handed weapon warriors, Runa would take point with her bow taking out the enemy quietly.  When they reached the old fort, there were only two guards: one by the door and one on the roof. Runa aimed her bow to kill the one on the roof first, then aimed and killed the one by the door--both headshots. 

As soon as they entered there was a long pathway with stone stairs that brought them deeper into the fort.  It brought them to a large room and there were two Silver Hand sentries. Runa took each one out quickly with arrows to the head.  They headed to the large door the sentries were guarding, but it was barred.  

Dammit, we will have to find another way around.  

Retracing her steps, she saw a small doorway which led to some rundown library of sorts.  Fallen bookcases and destroyed books were everywhere. As an avid reader and lover of books, seeing all the destroyed books was almost painful to see.  

The room led to another similar room with a door and there was another member of the Silver Hand.  Kaidan snuck up behind him and lobbed his head off with his sharp sword.  

Runa choked back the expected nausea and moved on through the door.  Why are there heads always rolling?   But there was a shift deep inside of her.  Some sort of wild rage when the smell of blood hit flooded her nostrils.  Kill--feed!  She knew the feeling wasn’t normal and did what she could to push back the feeling.

The door brought them up through another set of stairs and another door that led to a loft-like room with more bookcases and ruined books.  As soon as they walked in, the sentry saw them and headed straight for Runa, readying his sword. Vilkas stopped him in his tracks with his sword, growling, feeling the beast inside him as Runa’s was.  But another sentry heard the noise and came after them. Kaidan quickly took care of him before he could shout out for reinforcements. 

Going further down into the room was another door and another flight of stairs going down.  She wondered how deep this fort went. There was another room with a gate and two more sentries guarding it.  The sentries heard them coming and quickly came at them. Kaidan and Vilkas ran ahead with their swords so Runa wouldn’t have to fight them off with just her bow.  So far though, it had been relatively easy.

For a headquarters, it should have been more heavily defended by the Silver Hand.  

They eventually found themselves in some torture area.  “These people are no better than what they are hunting. Disgusting,” Kaidan whispered. 

Runa took out the two guards in the cave.  They quickly checked for survivors in the cages, but it was only death.  Moving on through the cave brought them to a torture chamber. The place was covered in blood and gore; dead werewolves on the ground.  Runa could feel herself getting angry and this animalistic urge overcame her. She pushed it way back, afraid her beast would take over.  

No, not in front of Kaidan.  Not after we finally fixed everything.    

But it was hard for her to control.  She could feel her beast nipping at her mind, fighting to get out.  Kill--feed!

They were finally making their way upwards and to a wooden door.  When they opened the door quietly, they could see several Silver Hand sitting at a table in the loft.  Runa’s aim was blocked by a wooden banister. Dammit!   

They were going to have to attack head-on this time.  The men were going to rush them, but Runa stilled them by shaking her head.

Runa put away her bow and grabbed her two one-handed weapons.  Sneaking around the wall to give them an element of surprise and hopefully success, she headed up to the steps.  Kaidan and Vilkas followed behind figuring out what she had planned. 

The largest of the Silver Hand saw Runa coming and rushed at her.  They clashed swords and axe, him fighting two of her weapons against his one.  But he was a lot stronger than she. He quickly overpowered her and brought her down to one knee before she took her axe and cut him down at the knee.  He screamed and fell to his knees. She stood up and took her two weapons and in a scissor-like motion lobbed his head off, getting spattered by his blood while screaming.  Her eyes started to glow as she smiled when the blood hit her nostrils and spattered her armor.

After all the Silver Hand was dead, Kaidan looked at Runa to see if she was OK and he saw something in her eyes he had never seen before.  Her eyes almost glowed and she had a smirk on her face. Eyes full of hunger and rage. 

She’s enjoying this, or her beast is.  

But then he could see her struggle internally, trying to push something back.  He looked back at Vilkas and saw the same thing in his eyes, but he wasn’t trying to control it like Runa was.

She was covered in blood and nauseous and angry, trying to control the beast inside of her.  Looking at the table she saw all the pieces of Wuuthrad and grabbed them quickly, then headed straight outside to get some fresh cold air before she got sick...or changed.  

Kaidan headed out to follow her and make sure she was OK before Vilkas drew his sword and blocked his path. Vilkas, with glowing and angry eyes; that wild look like he was already a beast, swung at Kaidan with his great-sword, growling.  Kaidan with quick reflexes blocked his strong blow. 

“What the fuck do you think you are doing Vilkas?” he yelled at him.  “Snap out of it!” 

Vilkas was wild looking and angry.  His silvery eyes on fire as he circled Kaidan like he was prey, looking for a weak point.  “We don’t need you anymore.  She doesn’t need you.  You should have stayed behind.  You are just in the way.  Runa and I will have Wuuthrad repaired and we will cure ourselves.  Can you honestly believe you could take care of her or understand what she has become?  Only I can offer her that kind of understanding,” Vilkas ranted as he circled Kaidan, sword at the ready.

Kaidan could clearly see he was struggling with something internal like Runa was.  He knew Vilkas was an asshole, but he also knew that he was not himself right now.  

“Runa can take care of herself.  But yes, I believe I am qualified to ensure she is safe and taken care of.”  Kaidan had no problem with killing Vilkas right now, but he knew Runa would never forgive him for it and may even believe he did it in a fit of jealousy.  He had to still his own anger and try to talk Vilkas down. But Kaidan knew if Vilkas changed, he wouldn’t stand a chance against the beast. His only recourse was to calm the man. 

Vilkas swung at him again several times with his powerful blows, but Kaidan was skilled enough to match Vilkas and blocked him easily.  

Stay calm, Kaidan.  “Vilkas, stop this.  Hasn’t there been enough fighting and death?  Do you really think Runa would have you if I am dead?  She will know you killed me because there is no one left in this place to do it for you.” 

Vilkas ignored his words and attacked again with repeated blows, growling loudly.  Kaidan refused to fight back and only blocked him.  

“I’m sorry you feel strongly for Runa, but we love each other and you cannot have her.”  

No that will only make him angrier.  Time for a different tactic.  

“I know you care for her and it’s OK.  I understand. She’s a good and kind and beautiful woman.  I get it. But I won’t kill you for it and you need to get over it!  I know you are angry right now about everything that is in part fueling this, but I promise you Runa will never forgive you.”  He hoped he was reaching the enraged man. 

“Fight me, dammit!” Vilkas roared as he lunged at Kaidan again.  

Kaidan blocked him again, still refusing to attack, but he did see now Vilkas was struggling to resist the beast from coming out. 

“No, I will not!  You are not yourself!  Please, Vilkas...she won’t understand.” 

“URGH!” he yelled.  Vilkas got tears in his eyes from grief and anger, but he finally sheathed his sword stormed out in fast run. 

Breathing hard, Kaidan shook his head and quickly followed Vilkas out of the old fort, not sure what Vilkas would do.  He hoped he wasn’t so angry as to do something to Runa. But, when he reached outside, Vilkas was already gone. Runa was standing there with hands on her knees still trying to calm whatever was going on inside of her.  He handed her some water from his skin and she drank it greedily.  

“So, uhm, where did Vilkas go?” he said, not sure if Vilkas said anything or not.    

“He said to meet him at Jorrvaskr, where we will have Wuuthrad reforged and then we can move on to Ysgramor’s Tomb.  He seemed pretty intense and angrier than usual though. Anything I should know?” She asked breathing heavily. 

“No, nothing,” he lied. “You OK?  You seem sick or something.” 

“Yeah, I...uhm, I was worried for a bit there though.  I just had this crazy animal urge to change and go slaughter some Silver Hand.” 

He nodded, “I could see it in your eyes...and his.  I’m glad you are OK and didn’t let it lose. You did amazing tonight, Love.”  He grabbed her close to him and held her for a bit. “I guess we better get back.”  He was not looking forward to dealing with Vilkas.

Chapter Text

Once Wuuthrad was reforged in the Skyforge, Kaidan and Runa met up with Vilkas, Farkas, and Aela at Ysgramor’s Tomb.  It was in the snowy wastes beyond Winterhold. Runa had no idea why Ysgramor had to have such a tomb so far away in such a desolate place.  She was not looking forward to more ruins, but at least it will be warmer than it was currently outside with the strong winds and blasting snow.  

As they all entered the tomb, Farkas handed Wuuthrad to Runa. “Will you do the honors of putting Wuuthrad back into Ysgramor’s hands?”  

“I would be honored.  Thank you, Farkas,” she said and meaning it.  She still wondered how the twin brothers could be so different.  Farkas was such a sweet soul, if not a little bumbling. Whereas Vilkas was so intense but highly intelligent.  

She reached up to the statue of Ysgramor and put Wuuthrad into awaiting his hands.  The return of the great axe opened up a secret passageway into the tomb itself. Runa was glad there were several of them to help keep all the creepy things away as they made their way into the area where they would do the curing.  

As they all headed in, Vilkas suddenly grabbed Kaidan’s arm without Runa noticing and pulled him aside.  Kaidan groaned inwardly hoping there wasn’t going to be another problem. It wasn’t the time nor the place. “What is it, Vilkas,” he said, trying to not sound too exasperated. 

“I...I owe you an apology for how I behaved towards you.  I was not myself. I was so angry and thought it would make me feel better somehow, and my beast was trying to force its way outside of me, so I was internally fighting that too.  Plus, all the Silver Hand and their slaughtering of the werewolves brought it out of me, but it’s no excuse. I should have had more control and I didn’t. I...I am not worthy to enter Ysgramor’s Tomb, so I will stay behind.  If the cure works, I will head in later and try to get the cure too.”  

Kaidan nodded his head but didn’t know what to say to the contrite man.  He certainly wasn’t expecting an apology, but he was glad that Vilkas wasn’t a complete asshole.  Kaidan just patted him on the back to let him know he was forgiven and headed into the tomb with the rest. 

Once he met up with the rest of the team, he heard the fighting and clashing of swords.  He rushed, sword drawn, to find they were fighting several ghosts of all things. They looked like Champions themselves.  The ghosts were killed, if one can even kill a ghost, by the time he reached them. They must have been some sort of guardians. 

After killing several of the Champion guardians, they came to the spidery webbed area.  Readying themselves to fight frost spiders, Farkas spoke up, “Sorry, can’t do this. Everyone has a weakness and this creepy crawlies are mine.”  Without another word, he headed back to his brother.  

Kaidan cursed under his breath, no one likes fucking frost spiders, asshole.  They were down to three. Kaidan decided to take up his bow against the spiders this time.  Runa used her flame spell to burn them while Aela used her sword.    

Deeper in and many Champion ghosts later, they finally reached the end of the tomb.  There was a strange blue flame in the center and a ghost was standing by the strange fire.  They readied their weapons expecting another battle, but as they got closer, they recognized Kodlak in spirit form.    

“Greetings Shield-Sister,” Kodlak said to Runa.  

“Is that you Kodlak?” she asked.  

“Of course.  My fellow Harbingers and I have been warming ourselves here.  Trying to evade Hircine.” 

“If you are here, can you still be cured?”  

“I can only hope.  You still have the witches’ heads?”  She lifted the bag of severed heads. “Excellent.  Throw one of them into the fire. It will release their magic.”  

Runa opened the bag, everyone put their hands to their noses trying not to be sick by the odor.  She pulled one out of the leather bag and held the rotting thing by the hair, choking back the expected bile.  She quickly threw it into the strange blue flame. As soon as she did, it burst into flame and a giant ghost-like wolf crawled out of Kodlak, which started to attack everyone on site.  Runa, Kaidan, and Aela attacked it and finally killed it. 

She went back to Kodlak and told him it was dead.  “And, so slain the beast inside me. I thank you for this gift.  The other Harbingers remain trapped by Hircine, though. Perhaps from Sovngarde, the heroes of old can join me in their rescue.  It would be a battle of such triumph. And, perhaps someday you will join us in that battle. But for today, return to Jorrvaskr.  Triumph in your victory and lead the Champions to further glory.”  

Did he say lead?  No, she pushed that aside for now.  

Kaidan approached her.  “You still want to do this?” 

She nodded, “Yes, definitely.”  

Relieved, Kaidan removed one of the witches’ heads and threw it into the fire.  She could feel her own beast pulling out of her not wanting to leave, but it was forced to.  Once it was out, she, Kaidan and Aela killed that one too. Runa felt so much relief and felt so different.  At first, she felt stronger and more aware, but she didn’t realize how much clearer she was thinking now and how much she was fighting the beast inside of her.  She felt normal and whole again. 

Runa approached Aela and asked her if she wanted to be cured.  Aela shook her head, “No, I am proud of what I am. But what I heard Kodlak say...he said YOU were to lead the Champions?” 

Runa nodded her head, “He did say that, but I cannot accept it.  It’s not right. I have barely been with you all and there are those more worthy of the job.  You, Vilkas and Farkas can fight over it. I like you all, but I am sorry, I am done with the Champions.  It has proved to be too challenging for me physically and emotionally. Thank you for saving my life. I will leave these heads here if Vilkas and Farkas wish to be cured.”  With that, she walked away and out of Ysgramor’s Tomb.  

As they were leaving, Runa told Vilkas and Farkas what happened.  She grabbed Vilkas' arm.  "You should know Kodlak was there.  We were able to cure him even in death." 

She could see the surprise in his eyes, then relief, then water.  He just nodded at her, "Thank you."

"You should go in and try to be cured.  The heads are waiting for you."   As she was walking away, Vilkas gently grabbed Runa’s arm.  

“I apologized to Kaidan, but I should also apologize to you.  I’m sorry for how I behaved around you. I knew you were taken and I...I was an ass.  You...you calmed my beast and it...well, it really doesn’t matter. I didn’t treat you with the respect you deserve.  Thank you for all you have done for us. I will now head in to be cured as well.”

“There’s nothing to forgive.”  With that, she gave him a hug goodbye, then hugged Farkas.  

As she was leaving the tomb, Vilkas looked back at her with sadness wondering if he was ever going to see her again.  But he moved on, happy to be finally rid of his beast, thanks to her.

When they left the tomb from a different door, Runa could suddenly feel a strong mental tug.  She couldn’t tell what it was, but it felt familiar somehow. Following her senses, she traveled up the side of the mountain with Kaidan in tow.  

He didn’t know what was going on and wasn’t sure where she was going or what she was doing.  Once they reached the top of a cliff, they saw a word wall. Runa went up to it and he watched the glowing lights swirl all around her as she absorbed the Dragon language.   

He’s not sure he will ever get used to that.  It reminded him that she still had the destiny to fulfill and she may end up dead for it.

Chapter Text

After weeks of stress, worry, dealing with an emotionally unstable werewolf, killing witches, fighting the Silver Hand, traveling across half of Skyrim, curing Runa they were both exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.  They vowed to take it easy for the next couple of weeks just spending some quality time together, getting to know the people of Whiterun and a couple of visits to see Alva. Runa also made sure she visited the temple a few times to see her family.  

They desperately needed this; some calmness in their lives.  They knew there were more trying times ahead, but it could wait a bit longer.  For now, the time was theirs and theirs alone.  

**********   

Sweating and breathing hard after they made love, he held Runa close.  “You’re not going to like this, but I think it’s time for me to head out again for another two weeks.” 

“You have to go again?  Why must you give me bad news after sex?” Runa complained. 

He smiled at her.  “Softens the blow, no?"

"No, it kills the high." 

"I'm sorry, love.  But, yes, I have things I still have to do.  I am hoping this is the last time. A lot depends on the next couple of weeks.” 

“Are you leaving in the morning then?” 

“Aye, Love.” 

“I will miss you.  This has been a wonderful two weeks alone with you. I love you, Kai.” 

“I love you too, Sweetheart.”

**********

The next morning, Runa walked him to the stables and kissed him goodbye.  Then she watched him ride off until she couldn’t see him anymore. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake she did last time.  She was going to stay home and just wait for him.

**********

He headed back out to Falkreath to finish working on the house.  He hoped the workers were nearing completion and he wouldn’t have to leave her again.  He also had a few more tasks to do around Falkreath in order for him to become Thane.  

He smiled to himself--he, an actual Thane, when he was no one before.  He finally found his home in Runa, no matter where they were or how far apart.  These two uncomplicated weeks together had done them a lot of good for their relationship.  But he knew it couldn’t stay that way forever. They would eventually have to do her own job as Dragonborn and he would have to finish his journey finding more about his mother and his sword.  He also hadn’t forgotten about the Thalmor, but he pushed that negative thought aside for now. 

**********

Runa hadn’t seen any of the Companions since they had been back and she was just fine with that.  But she did wonder how they were doing and if they were settling things regarding their leadership.  It would be a hard decision because between the three, Aela being rash and refusing to change to Vilkas who was a hot head and temperamental to Farkas who was very kind, but really didn’t say much or stand out in any way.  All she knew for certain was that she wasn’t the one to do it. Maybe Kodlak knew that and it’s why he chose her. But what’s done is done. She had her own journey to do, which was complicated enough, and it wasn’t with the Companions. 

********** 

Five days later while she was reading one of her new books, there was a knock on her door.  She went to open to see it was a courier delivering a letter to her. Opening the letter, she saw it was from Jarl Balgruuf to come see her at her earliest convenience. 

She got dressed in one of her nicer dresses and wrapped herself in furs because it had been very cold and snowing out.  She reached Dragonsreach and had to wait a few minutes for the Jarl to make an appearance. Warming herself by the fire, he entered the throne room, but he didn’t sit on his throne and instead came down to greet Runa and kiss her hand.  

“My dear girl, it is lovely to see you again.” 

“Thank you, my Jarl,” she smiled brightly and bowed.  

“I’m glad you came.  I am afraid we are in need of your services once more.  There have been signs of a dragon in the Mountains East in the Pale.  This request came directly from the Jarl of Dawnstar. He knew you, the Dragonborn was here in Whiterun and has requested you specifically to help kill this dragon that has been tormenting his lands in the East.  Can you do this for us?”  

“I...I, well, I made a promise to Sir Kaidan I wouldn’t hunt any dragons without him and he is traveling for another week, so I am afraid I wouldn’t be able to kill any dragons on my own.”  

Biting her lip, knowing she would regret this, “Unless of course, you have someone who can assist me in this matter.  Someone specifically well-versed in archery.” 

“I don’t have anyone here I can spare, but I do know there is a young Dunmer woman who works for hire.  She apparently is well familiar with the bow. If you would like to hire her, I can cover your expenses.”  

“No need, my lord. I can cover that.  I just needed to make sure I wouldn’t do this alone.  I may be Dragonborn and I may have helped kill a dragon, but I haven’t faced a dragon on my own before.  It’s still dangerous, even for me, to kill one without help.”  

The Jarl uncharacteristically gave her a hug, “Thank you, dear girl.”  

Runa found, Janessa, the lovely and fit Dunmer woman at the Bannered Mare.  “I would like to hire you if you are available. It’s a pretty big job involving killing a dragon in the Pale just NorthEast of here.  What would something like that cost?”  

“It will cost you 500 Septims.”  

“Done.”  

Kaidan is going to kill me.  But at least I will have some help and will not be going it alone.   

It took a day and a half to get to their destination at the base of the mountain.  They had to ditch their horses nearby and hike the rest of the way up. The day was very cold and snowy, and the wind was going to make hitting the dragon with arrows difficult.  As they neared the top, they could see the dragon lying on top of some ruins sleeping. They reached as close as they could, sneaking before the dragon was alerted to their presence.   

Once it saw them, it took to the air roaring as it did so.  Dammit, she was hoping to kill it while it slept. It started to dive bomb them with fire as they quickly rolled away and shot arrows after it, having to compensate for the wind.  

The speed of the dragon and the wind was making it difficult to shoot it.  In retrospect, she should have found herself a mage instead. Runa lost more arrows than actually hit the dragon and when it finally landed, she was out of them.  

She grabbed her axe and readied her hand with her frostbite spell since this was a fire-breathing dragon.  She had to quickly dodge and dance away from its tail and mouth to keep from being bitten. While hitting it with her axe and freezing it for periods of time.  Janessa still had some arrows and was firing from a distance. That was a difficult kill, but it was finally dead. 

After absorbing the dragon’s soul, she walked around looking for arrows she lost.  That was when she felt the other pull she was familiar with after Ysgramor’s Tomb. There was a word wall nearby.  

She hiked higher up the mountain where the dragon had been sleeping and found it.  As she approached the wall, suddenly a coffin burst open and some strange draugr-like creature with a mask started floating and flying around shooting spells at them.  

What in Oblivion is that?!!  

Janessa was the one now out of arrows, so she used her sword while Runa used the remaining arrows she gathered.  It was difficult as this creature was very fast and its spells were very strong sending large blasts of fire at them.  

Once she ran out of arrows, she charged at it with her axe and sword.  Runa got hit with fire on her left arm before she cut it down with her axe and it finally went down.  

Oh, Kaidan is really going to be furious me now.  

She downed some health potions while Janessa bandaged her arm. She then moved back to the word wall to absorb the language.  Then she also grabbed the strange mask to find out more about it. Her father would have been fascinated by something like this, pushing back the pain from thinking about her father.  

Janessa was a true professional and didn’t ask questions once about Runa’s soul absorbing, language absorbing powers.  Though Runa did pay her extra for the strange creature in the mask.  

Kaidan was going to be back in several days and she was going to have to explain the large burn mark on her arm.  After last time with the werewolf situation, he was now going to come home finding out she fought a dragon AND some strange mage-like creature.  He was NOT going to be happy. Well, at least she wasn’t dead.  

When they got back to Whiterun, Runa bade Janessa farewell and that she would likely hire her again sometime.  When she got home, she fell into bed exhausted.  

The next couple of days though were still exhausting despite all her rest from her travels.  She found herself so very tired all day and she would sleep long hours only to end up taking a couple of naps as well. This wasn’t normal, she thought.  She must be coming down with something. She hoped not because she had plans for him when he got home!  

A couple of days later after that, she knew she was sick with something for certain because she was throwing up a lot.  Dammit, I can’t be sick when he gets back! Frustrated she headed over to the healer.

Chapter Text

Kaidan had been gone for two long weeks and she was so happy to finally have him back.  She was hoping he got to settle all his affairs and that he wouldn’t have to leave again.  

As soon as he was cleaned up from his long ride home, she dragged him to bed not giving him a chance to rest.  Rest can come later.   

They made tender love.  Oh, how I missed her.   

He couldn’t wait to show her the new house.  It was finally done and he wouldn’t have to leave her again.  He would bring her to see it soon when the decorating was done.  The Jarl of Falkreath also made him a Thane, while not anything really special, it was still a title that turned him from a nobody to a noble.  

He was so exhausted and this woman just wore him out further, so he quickly fell asleep.  

Runa laid with him for a while when her stomach started to churn again and she suddenly had to throw up.  She had to rush, but she didn’t want to wake up Kaidan, so she had to be quiet as well. Trying to choke it back, she rushed to the next room across the hall and found a pot to throw up in.  

She was already tired of the vomiting and wondered when it would ever end.  She could barely eat anything and keep it down except for, strangely sweet rolls.  After washing out the pot she threw up in, she went back to lie down with him again.  She wanted to nap with him, but she couldn’t sleep despite feeling so exhausted. All the nausea was keeping her awake.  So, she snuggled next to him listening to him breathe.  

When he awoke an hour later, he looked at Runa, smiled and kissed her.  He could spend all day in bed with her if they never had anything to do, which they currently did not.  So, he made no move to get up and just held her. His return was so much better than the last time. No worries, no vampires, no werewolves, no Vilkas...just them. 

“Kai?”  

“Hmmm...?” he purred into her neck, giving her light kisses. 

“Uhm...have...have you ever thought, I don’t know...thought about, uhm...having kids one day?”  

That gave him pause as he laid on his back.  “No, I don’t think I have ever been in a situation to think of such things really, but I don’t really think that it’s something for me.” 

She placed her head on his chest.  “Why not?” she asked with her brow suddenly furrowed.  

“Well, with my upbringing and instability, I don’t think I’m exactly father material.” 

She looked up at him then.  “Why would you think that? You are loving, you are kind, you are loyal and you are protective.”  

“You think so?  Maybe, but I don’t know.  It’s kind of a scary thought to me. What is bringing all this on suddenly?” 

“Oh, it’s nothing; just wondering is all...just...just talking future stuff,” she said evasively and with that, she got up.  “Are you hungry? I will make us a snack,” she said too quickly and headed downstairs.  

Kaidan laid back and wondered why all the questions about kids.  They aren’t even married. He would have thought after a while, they could get married, if they wanted to.  He still had his doubts that is something he wants to do due to his own insecure reasons, though he also knows he loves Runa beyond all measure and will never leave her.  So, why not marry her eventually?  

But, kids?  No. Then again, since she was asking, this may be important to her, so how could he deny her a family if that was what she really wanted?  They would have to discuss this tough decision later to make sure it was right for both of them. Kids were a very scary thought to him. 

After a minute Kaidan opened his eyes wide and then quickly sat up in bed.  Oh, fuck!  She’s pregnant!  That has GOT to be it.  

He heard her throwing up earlier and just thought she might be coming down with something.  But that and with her line of questioning about kids...Kaidan started to panic. No, no, no.  I can’t be a father!   He was not good enough to be a father.  It wasn’t that he didn’t like kids; he did. It was his fear of being a shit father.  His own upbringing wasn’t a good lesson on how to raise kids, that along with his troubled past.  

Shit! Shit! Shit!   This must have happened when he came in her after that whole werewolf issue.  He KNEW  what he did was wrong.  This is what happens when you lose your control, Kaidan. 

He moaned with a pillow over his face, so Runa wouldn’t hear him.  He reluctantly got up to head downstairs. He had better go talk to her about this.  When he reached downstairs, he could see her sitting down at the table cutting up some cheese with her back to him.  

“Runa?  Is...is there something you need to tell me, love?” he asked, palms sweating and slightly shaking. 

She stopped cutting and put down her knife, but she didn’t respond.  Instead, she quickly got up and threw up again in a pot nearby. He rushed to her side to help her somehow, but not knowing what to do.  She brushed him off to tell him that she was fine. When she was done, she had tears in her eyes from throwing up. 

“I haven’t been able to keep any food down for several days now and I’m tired all the damned time.  Even cutting the cheese and bread make me sick. I thought at first, I had a stomach virus, so I went to the healer who informed me I was definitely not sick and congratulated me; I was pregnant.” 

He sat down hard on the chair because his legs were suddenly wobbly.  His heart started beating too fast and he started to sweat, while his stomach was doing flip-flops. 

“I...I...I,” was all he could manage to say.  To hear her say it out loud brought it into a whole new reality.  

She put up her hand, slightly irritated and slightly upset.  “I know. This is hard on you...obviously. You just made it perfectly clear you don’t want kids.  But we are having one nonetheless, whether we want it or not.”  

She instinctively touched her stomach with her hand and tears pooled out of her eyes.  “I was so happy at first. I have always wanted children and now I get to have a family again; still missing my father and brothers so very much.  I know we aren’t married and this was an accident, but it is what it is. But seeing how frightened you are right now is not...well, now I’m full of doubt and fear.” 

He had to stop panicking and get himself under control; it was getting them nowhere and making her feel worse.  He breathed deeply and tried to calm himself.  

“I’m so sorry, Love.  This is...well, it’s all a shock.  As I said, I never thought about kids and I don’t think I would be a good father though I do like them.”  After a beat, he finally said, “Look, Love, I’m not going to leave your side for a second. I’m not going to abandon our child.  I would never do that to you. I will do the best that I can, OK?” 

She just looked up at him nodded and the tears were flooding, “Thank you, Kai. I...I didn’t want to go this alone.  I didn’t think you would leave me for this but seeing how scared you were, doubts came pouring out of me...I mean, I get it.  I’m scared too. I don’t know what it will be like to be a mother as I never had a mother of my own either, like you, to lead as an example.  But I always wanted children and thought we could make the best of it. I already love what is growing inside me, Kai, though the baby refuses to let me stop throwing up,” she said to add a bit of levity.  “It’s OURS. Yours and mine; how could I not love that?” 

He went to her, got down on his knees and kissed her stomach.  Holding her with his head on her lap, she combed his hair long hair that had grown out with her fingers.  He was fucking terrified. To him, this was scarier than a tomb full of 100 Draugr. He would just have to suck it up and do the best that he could with their situation. 

He also knew something else he needed to do.  He needed to marry her; to give this child a proper family.  If you told him three months ago that he would be in love, having a baby and soon to be married, he would have laughed in your face; or put an arrow in your eye, depending on his mood.  Now he will have all three and he couldn’t be happier, yet more terrified at the same time.  

He was going to have to do this right and not mess it up.  Though there was still the matter of the wound on her arm they needed to address, but he’s had enough scary news to deal with in one day.

Chapter Text

“Come on, Love.  Let’s get packed.  I want to take you somewhere and it’s going to take a couple of days to get there,” Kaidan said one morning.   

He had received a letter a couple of days ago that his house was finished and he was now ready to show Runa the house.

Runa was excited to finally leave the house after weeks of throwing up.  She was finally feeling better and eager to do something else; anything else.  The prospect of seeing something else other than Whiterun thrilled her.

“Where are you taking me?”   

“It’s a surprise, Love.”   

“Kai!  Tell me!”   

He laughed at her demands and held her, looking down.  “No, Love; you are just going to have to be patient and wait.”   

They loaded their horses and headed South West for their two-day trip.  By late afternoon, it started to downpour, so they had to make camp to wait it out.  When it didn’t stop, they just camped for the rest of the evening.  

They found a nice spot under some thick trees where the ground was relatively dry.  It took a while to find some dry wood and Runa lit the fire with her spell as it was stronger than flint that ensured they would have a fire to keep warm, though it was fairly dry under the trees.    

Settling under their tent, wrapped in furs, they had some early dinner and mead.  Runa had been eating a lot lately since she began feeling better. Actually, she was perpetually hungry.  Kaidan was glad to see her eating again and looking healthier. He was beginning to worry about all her throwing up, though the healer claimed this was very normal.  And, Runa was happy to see Kaidan getting over his fears, at least outwardly. She figured he was probably still frightened on the inside.  

Runa always loved storms and the sound of thunder.  They were strangely soothing to her and found herself suddenly wanting Kaidan; to make love to him in their little tent.  He was somewhere else, lost in thought, looking at the fire when she leaned into him and started to lightly kiss his neck.

When he looked over at her, she started to kiss his lips.  They turned to face each other and their kissing became more passionate.  Runa was feeling so at ease, she didn’t want to rush things. After removing their clothes, they laid down and Kaidan covered them with furs and kissed her swelling breasts, swirling his tongue around her nipples but being gentle as they were starting to hurt her.  He could see her eyes were closed enjoying the feeling as her hands played with his long hair.   

He gently kissed her still flat stomach.  Working his way down, he slowly spread her legs and inserted a finger inside of her.  He could feel her wetness as she started moving her hips against his finger, running his tongue over her bud.  Holding his head and grabbing his hair, she started breathing faster; opening her legs wider.  

She loved when Kaidan was down there doing everything he could to pleasure her.  He had always been a thoughtful and attentive lover. He started to suck a little harder, running his tongue faster, swirling his tongue while he moved his finger inside.  It didn’t take long before she came and moaned loudly. He loved it when she pulsed like that in his mouth, making him moan at her pleasure. 

Instead of switching places, she pulled him up so he was hovering over her so he could lean himself over her mouth for her to suck on him as he thrust gently back and forth as she held him firmly in her hand.  He was going to explode too quickly and made her stop.  

“Oh, that felt so good...too good.  Turn around,” he ordered.  

As she rolled over, he lifted her hips in the air as her upper body stayed on the bedroll.  He inserted himself in her and thrust deeply into her. He moved pushed himself into her harder and deeper than usual.  She moaned loudly as he hit that soft spot within her. As he started to move faster and faster, he smacked her ass several times while she groaned.  Her loud moaning turned him on as he moved faster and faster until he finally exploded in her, not worrying about accidents since she was already pregnant.  He loved being able to do that inside of her.   

When they were done, he laid down beside her and kissed her deeply, inserting his tongue, sucking on hers.

“The Gods, I love you,” he suddenly said while giving her delicate kisses along her face and chin her face. 

She smiled and snuggled into him.  “I love you too.”  

**********  

In the warm, early morning, Runa stood outside the tent naked and stretched a deep stretch, feeling at her best.  He suddenly grabbed her and pulled her down over his lap with her ass in the air and playfully spanked her as she squealed.  

“Kai,” she laughed trying to push off of him.  “Stop,” she tried to say firmly, but still was giggling.  He finally let her go, laughing as they both got dressed and packed up. 

They traveled a bit more quickly to make up for lost time from the storm and managed to reach their destination by late afternoon.  When they arrived at the house, Runa looked confused.  

“What is this place?  Are we visiting someone?  Well...well...well, Kai, you actually have a friend after all,” she teased.   

“No, still no friends, Love,” he smiled.  “But this isn’t someone else’s home. This is ours.”  He stood there waiting for her reaction. 

“Ours?  Kai is this what you have been working on all this time?!” she said in wonder with eyes wide as everything he was doing became clear. 

“It is.” He beamed at her excitement, unable to hide his pride.   

“Oh, Kai, you are not only an artist but very handy as well!”  She ran to look around the house. It was three times the size of Breezehome.  It had three extending wings on the sides of the house, a large garden one side and an empty animal pen on the other.  It also had a stable for their horses.  

She ran to the left side of the house to find steps leading up to a very large balcony and she could look out to the lake and mountains, completely in awe of the view. 

“Oh, what a beautiful view!!”  

Kaidan just watched her excitement as she ran all over the place looking at everything.  He had a large smile on his face, happy to see that she was pleased.  

“I call it Lakeview Manor.  Come on then, let’s go inside, Love.”   

He opened the door for her as she walked inside as she looked around in awe.  The whole house was furnished and fully decorated. As soon as they entered there was an entryway that had storage for their weapons, decorations, and bookshelves. 

Continuing inside, she saw a large room with comfortable chairs and a little table in front of a large fireplace that was already lit to warm up the place.  Beautiful rugs were spread out everywhere. Past that was a table and several chairs for their meals and behind there was a huge kitchen and she could smell food cooking; her stomach started to rumble. 

“Come on this way, Love.”   

Runa followed him to the left to see a grand bedroom with its own fireplace, bookcases and the room had its own bathing area and private privy and bath.  “Oh, by the Gods Kai, this is so beautiful!” she exclaimed as she went to lie down on the large bed.     

“No, no...up, up, Love.  We aren’t done,” he said as he lifted her off the bed. 

There were two spare bedrooms on the other side of the house for guests, she presumed.  One was so beautifully decorated and feminine... how in the world?   

“This is for Alva, Love.  When she comes to visit.”  

Runa put her hands to her mouth and started to get tears in her eyes when he said that.  They went upstairs and there was a large loft area that served as an office and library filled with books, and there were two more bedrooms.   

“Oh, Kai, this...this is amazing!  I know you said you were leaving for us, but I had no idea what that even meant.  How did you manage all this? It must have cost you so much.”   

“I was tired of feeling sorry for myself and had nothing to offer you.  I heard the Jarl of Falkreath was hiring for some very pricey bounties and I jumped right on it.  He pays very well and because of all the work I did and helping his people, he actually made me Thane of Falkreath...I’m finally someone, Runa.” 

She touched his face, “You have always been someone, my love.  You didn’t need to prove anything to me, you know that right?”   

He nodded, “I know.  I wanted to do something for you...for us, but it was also for myself.  

Look here, we can turn the upstairs room there for our child.  Had I known we were having one at the time, I would have prepared for that too.”   

She went up to him and tightly hugged him.  “Thank you, Kai, for this. This is the best gift anyone has ever done for me.  I love it so much and you have done such a wonderful job. I am so happy and so happy for you and your success.  You deserve it so much,” she said, hugging him tightly. 

They headed back downstairs to meet Rayya, his Steward, and Housecarl who was assigned to him by the Jarl.  She was the one who had been cooking apparently and who readied their home.   

Rayya was a beautiful and large Redguard woman with gorgeous dark skin.  Runa hugged the woman, who was taken aback at first but accepted it finally. 

“It’s my pleasure to know you, Rayya.  I look forward to getting to know you.”   

“Indeed, ma’am.  It will be my pleasure.”   

“Just call me, Runa.”

Chapter Text

She had to use her stealth skills for this.  No one could hear her coming. As she approached him, she looked up to make sure he couldn’t hear her or see her.  This was vital to her success. He was standing by the fire, warming his hands. When she was finally close enough, she quickly attacked.

She had recently discovered how ticklish Kaidan was and tickled him under the arms. He instantly jumped out of his skin and nearly collapsed.   

“Oh, you are going to get it now, lass...” he shouted after her as she ran laughing. 

They ran through the house with him trying to catch her almost crashing into poor Rayya, who laughed at both of them.  Runa was very fast and agile while she dodged behind furniture just out of his reach. They were upstairs now in the study when she slipped around the desk and ran back downstairs towards their room, but not before he finally caught her and easily lifted her over his shoulder. 

She kicked at him laughing.  “OK, Kai, you can put me down now...put me down!”  

“Oh, I’m going to put you down alright.”  

“What?  No...no...wait...what are you going to do?  I’m sorry...I’m sorry! You win!!!” She laughed and kicked trying to get away, but he was just too strong.  She had no leverage to get away being slung over his shoulder like a flour sack.

He closed the bedroom doors and sat down on the bed, bringing her down deftly over his lap.   Holding her arms back behind her with one hand and lifting up her skirts with the other. 

“Oh, no...no, Kai, please!  I’m so sorry!” She was still laughing but getting a little worried at the same time.  

“Yes.  Bad lasses need to be spanked.”  

She started to really squirm then, but she couldn’t get loose.  

He exposed her bare ass and he started to smack her bottom several times with his hand.  Not too hard, but hard enough to make it a little red.  

“Ow, ow...Kai...OK, OK...,” she laughed kicking her legs around and trying to break her hands free.  

When her ass was nice and red, he gave her one more very firm spank and slipped a finger into her to feel how wet she was.  He found she suddenly went still. Well, well.  She likes that.  He thought she might.  I like it too.  He had to adjust erection with her on top of him.

“Did you like that, Love,” he whispered while inserting his fingers in and out of her.  She was quiet and just nodded, kind of embarrassed by it all and blushed deeply, but it turned her on nonetheless. 

He stood them up and leaned her over the bed, pushing her face down.  Lifting up her fallen skirts again and draping them over her, he rubbed her red ass.  He pulled himself out of his pants and massaged it to ready himself and entered her warm wetness.  The only thing he could see of her was her ass and him entering in and out. She was otherwise buried in cloth.  He was so turned on at that moment, it didn’t take him long to explode in her.  

She started to stand up, but he pushed her back down.  He wasn’t done with her.

“We are not finished, Love.”

Getting on his knees, he started to lick her up and down as he ran his tongue up and down in her making her moan. It was different tasting himself in her. 

While they both really enjoyed that, it was hard to reach her sensitive spot, so he turned her around back onto the bed spreading her legs and nibbled, licked and sucked on it until she came with a loud moan and kept on until she forced him to stop. 

They laid back on the bed together, breathing hard.  “I’m going to have tickle you more often,” was all she could get out.  

I look forward to it.  

**********  

Before the evening arrived, he asked Runa to follow him.  He held her hand as they walked outside and up the steps on the side of the house that had the large rooftop balcony.  It was a beautiful and warm evening with a soft breeze coming off the lake. As they headed up the steps, she saw it was all lit up with candles and the flower pots and boxes were filled with beautiful flowers and plants.  

Kai must have asked Rayya to do this while we were distracted with each other.   

They looked out over the lake and sunset.  The sky was a red, orange and purple color almost looking like it was on fire.  It was so beautiful. He pulled her towards him and kissed the top of her head. 

“All the flowers and candles are so romantic. This is so beautiful, Kai.  You couldn’t have picked a prettier spot for a home. I love it here.”  

“And, I love you,” he said.  

He gently grabbed her chin and turned her to face him as he looked down at her.  She was expecting him to kiss her, but instead, he wanted to tell her something. He suddenly looked very anxious and uncertain.  

She put her hand to his face.  “Hey, what’s going on? Are you OK.?” 

He nodded and cleared his throat.  “I just have something to tell you.

“Sure, what is it?”

“Runa, you have carved your way into my heart and I don’t see how you will ever be moved from there.”  It looked like he had more to say, so she waited. She knew when he was feeling deeply, he struggled with words.  

“I...I want to know you are mine and...and the thought of someone or something trying to steal you away from me...”  He couldn’t finish. The thought of losing her was terrifying to him.  

Looking up at him she said, “I’m yours and you are mine.”  

“You are blood of my blood, and bone of my bone.”  He kissed her lightly.  

But he had more to say.  “For a while now I have been looking at life differently.  It’s not that dragons are rising from the grave or the war splitting the country in two; though it might have been before.” He paused for a bit trying to form the words in his head, “It’s me who is not the same since I met you.  Knowing you has changed me.”  

“You don’t seem so different to me, Kai.” 

“Love, you have only known the best of me.  I...I have not always been a good person. But I know now what I have been looking for all along; it was you.”  She started to get teary-eyed with his loving confession, but let him finish what he was trying to tell her.  

“You are my home.  I would like to be your refuge too.  I promise you; I will always fight for us.”  He cleared his throat again and tried not to close his eyes.  

“Will you marry me?”  

She started weeping and nodded her head quickly, not expecting a proposal.  She then hugged him tightly.  

“Is that a yes, then?”  

“Yes, Kai, I will.  I love you so very much.”  

With that, they kissed each other deeply.  When they pulled away, he said, “I know we have only known each other for several months and you might be thinking I did this for the baby, and in part I did.  But I knew I would marry you anyway. I knew I would never leave your side. I also wanted to make sure we are a family.”  

Family.  She had a family again.

Chapter Text

They decided to get married quickly and privately.  To have a beautiful and intimate wedding with only Alva and Rayya present.  Kaidan let Runa pick the location and she chose the meadow below their home by the lake.  This time of year, the flowers were in bloom and the scenery was just beautiful and perfect.  Once they were ready, they called up a Priestess of Mara to do the wedding ceremony. 

Runa sent a carriage for Alva and she arrived a couple of days later.  Stepping off of the carriage, she already had her handkerchief out and dabbing her eyes as Runa rushed to give her a big hug.  

“Oh, my dear, dear girl. I am so happy for you and Kaidan!  When I received your letter, I couldn’t get here fast enough. To think you two getting married and a baby on the way to top it all off; it just swells my heart!” 

“I’ve missed you so much, Alva!  Thank you for coming.”     

Kaidan went up to Alva, lifted her up and gave her a big hug.  Alva laughed in delight at his strength. She hadn’t been lifted up since she was a young girl.  

“It’s good to see you, Alva.  Please, this way. I will show you your room and we can sit down for dinner.”   

After they sat down for dinner, Alva just beamed. “Oh, Kaidan and Runa, this is a lovely house.  I especially love my room and for you, Kaidan, to think of old Alva when you designed it. You are such a sweet boy,” she said as Kaidan bowed to her.

“Of course, we will all be family soon,” he said, to which she beamed even brighter, feeling so happy that Runa found someone to love who was good to her.  

They were to be wed the following day, so they decided to get some rest early.  He was holding Runa in bed feeling like he was going to burst. “Are you nervous?” she asked.  His arm draped around her shoulder with her head was resting on his.   

“Aye, maybe a little bit.  It’s all a bit surreal. I never thought I’d be the kind to get married.  That and Fate hasn’t always been good to me. So, I keep expecting something to swoop down and snatch you out of my arms,” he said, holding her tighter as if she would be taken away that very moment.  “How about you? Nervous?”   

“Not at all,” she said smiling, so certain of him.   

“Aye, that’s my unshakable dragon,” he smiled and kissed the top of her head  

The next afternoon, after everything was ready and the Priestess of Mara arrived to perform the ceremony, Kaidan waited outside for Runa so he could walk with her to the lake when she was ready.  Before Runa met up with him, Alva came up to Runa and placed a beautiful crown of flowers on her head she had made that morning.  

Alva dabbed away tears again with her trusty handkerchief.  “Oh, Runa, I am so happy for you. You are so beautiful. And, I can’t wait to see little ones running around.”  Hugging each other, they headed out to meet Kaidan.   

Kaidan’s stomach just dropped to the ground and he swallowed hard when he saw her.  She had her black hair down in long waves across her shoulders and back with a beautiful crown of blue flowers that brought out her eyes.  Her white dress was a very fitted, but flowing light fabric below the waist and in the long sleeves. And, beautifully trimmed in silver thread.  In the center of it all was the talisman he made her. She was the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.

What have I ever done in my life to deserve such a woman?    

“Kai, you look so handsome in your white tunic,” she said, looking up at him.   

They walked hand in hand down to the lake where the Priestess was waiting for them.  When they arrived, they faced each other as they held hands. Runa was already getting teary-eyed and he could hear Alva trying not to sob in the background.  Even he had to swallow it back.   

“Let us begin,” announced the Priestess.  “We stand here today under the gaze of Lady Mara, bearer of love whose light shines upon all mortals, to join two lives in eternal.”   

“To love is to understand the true nature of the Divines, and so discover the divinity in one another.”   

“We ask Lady Mara to bless their union as they journey together in this life and in the next, in prosperity and poverty, and in joy and hardship.”   

She looked at Kaidan, “Do you agree to be bound to this woman in love, to protect, support and cherish her, now and forever?”   

“I do.  Now and forever,” he said.   

She looked at Runa, “Do you agree to be bound to this man in love, to protect, support and cherish him, now and forever?” 

“I do. Now and forever,” she said.   

“Under the authority of Mara, Divine of Love, I declare this couple to be wed.  I present both of you with these blessed rings; may they protect both of you in your new life together.”   

They both kissed each other deeply.  When he pulled away, he looked down at her, wide-eyed.  “I’m a married man! I never thought this happiness could be mine.”   

“And, how do you like it?” she asked smiling up at him.   

He lightly touched her face where her scars were.  “I have always been bound to you. First by honor, then friendship, then love...and now in the eyes of the Gods.  It feels right.”   

“It does.  I love you, Kai.”   

“I love you too.” 

That evening after it got dark, he started a fire and laid out blankets in the field of flowers by the lake so they could make love under the stars.  He first gently removed her crown of flowers, turning her around, he unlaced her dress and slipped it off of her and gently planted kisses on her shoulders.  Moving her hair away from her neck, he kissed that too. He turned her to face him as she started to untie his tunic and pull it over his head. She lightly touched his chest and scars, giving him goosebumps.  Making love for them lately had been very energetic, but tonight it was gentle and soft.   

“I have never been happier.  Everything is perfect,” he said and kissed her deeply.

Chapter Text

“Are you kidding me?  What a waste of time! We’ll be stinking of draugr for days and no horn to show for it!”  He was irritated after spending all that time in the ruins looking for the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller and for what?  So someone could take it?  

Oh, but the thief kindly left a note

“I guess our next lead is this person who took it.  They want us to come to them and it seems we have no choice.”  Runa was irritated too after reading the note. It was a complete waste of precious time.  “Let’s see what they want.”

After a few days, they reached Riverwood and Runa recognized the woman from all the times they stayed at the Sleeping Giant Inn, having no idea she was anything more than a barkeep.  The woman blonde woman was older but still youthful.

But Delphine was an arrogant piece of work, at least that was how Kaidan felt.  She had taken the horn to find the Dragonborn and then when the Dragonborn showed up, she didn’t bother to believe it.  Then Delphine sent Runa off to go hunt a dragon with her just to prove she was the Dragonborn. It left Runa irritated and Kaidan was about to throttle her. 

********** 

After the long battle against the dragon, Delphine finally believed Runa and her being the Dragonborn.  “Oh, you really are Dragonborn,” Delphine said in shock after she watched Runa absorb the dragon soul.  

Kaidan was already tired of this woman.  She was condescending, she didn’t believe anything Runa said and sent her all over the place just to prove herself.  “Yes, as she’s been saying all along, and you sent a pregnant woman chasing after you and dragons just so she could prove herself!” Kaidan complained.  

Ignoring Kaidan, she explained that the Thalmor were involved with the dragons rising and that Runa was needed to infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy to retrieve evidence.    

“Delphine, this isn’t...” Runa said before Kaidan interrupted her.  

“Are you insane!!  You are going to send her into enemy territory, pregnant?!  They tortured me and they killed her family, about to torture her too.  We are both wanted enemies of the Thalmor and you want to send her there?!  She will be killed?! ABSOLUTELY NOT! You have no idea what these people are capable of.”  

Delphine was unfazed by his anger.  Looking at Runa, she said, “Look, it’s the only way to know for sure what is going on.  We have to get answers. We need to know why dragons are rising from the grave and you are the only one who can get by them.  I need you.” 

Kaidan was beside himself.  But Runa decided to go despite his very strong objections.  

As Runa was walking away, he grabbed Delphine by the arm and quietly growled at her, “If anything happens to her, you will pay painfully.  Do you understand?”  

Delphine yanked her arm back with death in her eyes and walked away without responding.  Kaidan just shook his head at her lack of caring or interest in the well-being of the Dragonborn.  

********** 

“I don’t like you going in there.  They will torture you and kill you if you are caught!” he said pacing back and forth in their bedroom.  Kaidan was beside himself...he had been like this since Delphine sent them to go hunt the dragon down. She knew he would be upset, but he was out of his mind with fright and she was unable to calm him down.  

What in Oblivion is going on with him?  

“I have to do this, Kai.  I can get in and get out. Please trust me to handle this and come home safely.  This is the only way to find out what is going on with the dragons. Please...”  

“NO!  They are going to kill you!”  

“They will have to catch me first.”  

She grabbed him to stop pacing.  Grabbing his face to make him look at her and calm him down. “Kai, look at me!  Will you calm down for a second and tell me what is going on? This is more than just worry.  You are in a full panic. I know you are intense, love, but this is beyond intense. Please talk to me.”  

He finally sat down on their bed with his head in his hands.  “After what they did to me, all I see are visions of them doing that to you.  It’s killing me inside. You know I still get nightmares about my torture and when I wake up I just want to go kill them all!  If...if something happens to you, I...I don’t know what I will do. Visions of them torturing you have been flooding my mind.” 

Runa was wondering if that was what was bothering him.  She knew his torture scarred him more than just physically, but he never wanted to talk about it before.  She understood his fright very well, but they were going to have to push through this. The dragons rising was too important to ignore. 

She kneeled down to look up at him.  “Kai, I have to do this. You know this.  We can’t pretend the dragons aren’t rising and we have to figure out why.  We need the answers and if the Thalmor know, then we need that information.  You know as well as I do that after our capture, they are involved somehow with the dragons.  If you go in there with me, it will create too much attention; attention we don’t need right now.  I have to enter quietly. That is something I know how to do. Please, love.”  

********** 

Runa was no spy, so she was terrified.  She was a noblewoman and pretending to be one would not be difficult.  She just hoped that none of the Thalmor recognized her from Helgen if they were even there.  She made sure she completely changed her hairstyle to make herself look different as much as she could.  She made sure her dress was a bit boring so she didn’t stand out in any way.    

She couldn’t risk mingling with the nobles and Jarls.  They would most likely know who she was, so she bribed the drunk noble to make a scene so she could escape through the kitchens with Malborn, the Wood Elf, who was working with Delphine and who sneaked in her gear.  

Putting on her armor and weapons, she went into stealth mode, evading guards whenever she saw them.  She had to take out a couple of guards in the courtyard since one was standing right in front of the very door she needed to get into.  

In the next building, she ran out of luck.  As soon as she opened the door, a guard was standing right there and tried to kill her.  She rolled out of his way and shouted, “Fus Ro” at him as he went flying. Of course, that drew the attention of everyone else.  She had to continue to shout at them and pluck them off with her arrows as they were trying to recover. There would have been no way she could have fought them off on her own otherwise.

I’ll make sure to leave this part out when I tell Kaidan. 

Breathing heavily, she quickly grabbed all the documents she could find before more guards showed and stole the key to the dungeon to sneak out that way.  

When she reached the dungeon, she saw one more guard, killing him.  There was a man in the cell who had clearly been tortured. Visions of Kaidan and his back crossed her mind.  She knew how vicious the Thalmor were and freed him, understanding Kaidan’s fears all too well. There was a chest open with some documents and she grabbed them quickly before more guards came.  But it was too late. There were two Thalmor who yelled down to her from the loft above.  

They had Malborn captive and threatened to kill him if she didn’t turn herself in.  She wasted no time in talking and fired two arrows at their heads, killing them instantly.  

After the three made it out of the dungeon, through the cave under the Embassy and outside far enough away, she pulled out the dossiers and started reading them.  She wanted to go over them before she handed them to Delphine, uncertain if the woman would share information with her after all her work. One was a document that indicated the Thalmor had no idea why the dragons were rising.

Dammit!  Of course, it wouldn’t be that simple.   

There was a dossier on Delphine, unsurprisingly.  Another was on Esbern, whom she found out about from the prisoner she had set free.  But, it was the last one that caught her eye. It was a dossier on the Akaviri. She opened and when she started reading it, she was horrified.  It was a list of all Akaviri settlements and how the Thalmor hunted them down and just slaughtered them. It was genocide. It described them having swords like Kaidan’s!  There’s a mention of one abandoned settlement right here in Skyrim, near Riften. Maybe they could check out this abandoned settlement. She was going to have to show this to Kaidan.  

**********  

“You found this at the embassy?” he asked after he spent several minutes checking her up and down to make sure she didn’t have a scratch on her.   

“Yes, they had it with Esbern and Delphine’s dossiers, both of whom are Blades.  I wonder if the Akaviri are related to the blades or similar somehow. They were hunted down just like the Blades were.  I mean, even your armor and sword look similar to those of the Blades. Look at where they talk about a settlement at Northwind Summit.  We should go and see if there are any clues regarding your sword.”  

“Aye,” he said excitedly.

Chapter Text

After handing the documents over to Delphine and plans to get Esbern out of Riften, they first headed first to Northwind Summit as it was on the way.  It proved to be quite challenging fighting off a few skeletons through the mine and once they reached outside, there was a dragon crouched, lying in wait for the next clueless prey to stumble into its domain.  

After finally taking down the dragon, Runa absorbed the dragon soul and word.  She was exhausted, but they started poking around the settlement looking for clues.  It wasn’t a simple task as they had no idea what they were looking for exactly. There were some decrepit shacks, but nothing of note could be found.  As she was walking around the perimeter of the cliffside, something caught Runa’s eye by a pillar and headed over to it.

Looking around and moving debris, she could see a hidden hollowed-out stone that had dragon writing on it.  The only thing hidden in there was a beautiful ring with a stone she had never seen before. It was gold and had multiple colors shimmering through it.  Curious and beautiful, though she didn’t understand what purpose it served or if it had anything to do with what they were seeking.

“Kaidan!  Come look at this!”

He headed her way and handed him the beautiful ring to see if he had any idea what it was for.  He looked at it closely, but just ended up shrugging and handing it back to her and she just put it on her finger.

Runa bent down and ran a hand on the stone, brushing her fingers on the writing.  “Look at this writing. It’s in dragon language. I can only make out enough of the writing to know that this must be the clue we are looking for.  It appears it’s sending us to another clue...a dragon burial mound near Windhelm, I believe. That’s North of here, so I guess we can make another detour.”  

Instead of heading to Riften as they were supposed to, they headed North to see what they would find, hoping they could spare a couple of days. 

**********  

Kaidan was curious to find out what was in the chest.  He was pacing excitedly to find out if there was going to be any more clues that would give him answers to his past and his sword.  While he was digging in the soil, they did not expect to find an entire chest. It was very heavy, assuming there would be quite a bit of treasure in it.  After he had dug it out, she was trying to open it for him with her lockpicks as there was no key to be found.  

It proved quite challenging, but she managed to finally open it.  There were just a few unique enchanted items she had never seen before.  There was a strange looking shield, a beautiful amber amulet, a dark circlet with amber stones and some papers.  As Kaidan was examining the items for clues, not knowing their purpose, she opened the old and delicate papers to read them when her mouth fell open.  She didn’t finish reading them as it was a private letter to Kaidan.  

“Kai?”  He quickly looked at her for her voice sounded strange and urgent.  “I think you better read this.” 

He took the papers from her and suddenly found himself on the ground, unable to stand.  It was a letter...from his mother.  

My Beloved son, Kaidan,   

If the Gods allow it, I will be standing at your side when you uncover these heirlooms, but with events unraveling as they are, I’ve come to understand this may never be.  I realize now I may be writing my last words to you.   

As your father used to say, ‘prepare for the worst and hope for the best.’   

Like some of the other surviving Akaviri, our bloodline was charged with preserving and protecting what relics and information we have left, until the Last Dragonborn arrived, and the Dragonguard could return to their true purpose.  What you find here are some of the treasures; guard them and use their power to protect yourself in turn. I have left more in the world for you and have faith that if you discover these, you will find the rest.   

At this moment in time, I cannot predict what else is safe to write, or how much you know of your family and clan.  I have faith that if the worst should happen, Tarben or Brynjar will protect you as they have promised me. I will leave you instead with something else you must know, above all else.   

You have been the light of my life, my child.  As I write this, I hold you sleeping in my lap, so small and new yet even now I see shades of the man you will become.  Even if my worst fears are realized and I cannot be there to raise you, do not ever doubt how much you are loved, or how proud I am to be your mother.   

For some nights now, I have dreamt of you, not as the infant in my arms, but as a grown man.  You walk over snow and ice in the darkest night, when the sun finally rises and turns the sky to fire, and dragons soar from the horizon.  I cannot help thinking that as the era – and the Empire spirals to its end, you will be there to see the great rebirth from the ashes. Remember this:   

When misrule takes its place at the (eight corners of the world)  

When the Brass Tower walks and time (is reshaped)  

When the thrice-blessed fail and the (Red Tower trembles)  

When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his (throne and the white tower falls)  

When the Snow Tower lies sundered (Kingless, bleeding)  

The World-Eater wakes, and the wheel (turn upon the Last Dragonborn)   

You may be the last of our clan alive to see it.   

I close this letter now with desperate hope it is not the end.    

With all the love in my heart,   

Mei   

“By the Gods, after all these years...”  

Runa reached for him.  He looked almost in shock.  He wasn’t expecting a letter from his mother, just some more clues.  “Kai, are you OK?”    

He just nodded, “There is a lot written here and a lot to take in.  I need some time to think about all this.”  

“OK, Kai.” Runa nodded and combed his stray hairs back from his face, worried about him. 

**********  

They had to find Esbern, but Kaidan needed some time to process all this information, so they stayed in Riften for a couple of days to rest at the Bee and Barb.  They didn’t want to wait any longer beyond that, not if they didn’t want the Thalmor to reach Esbern first. 

Runa brought up some food and drink to their room so she could talk to him in private about what they found.  She knew he was still trying to process everything, but she wanted to make sure he was OK. His face gave away nothing as he was lost in thought, so it was hard to tell what was going on with him.  

“How are you, Kai?  Are you feeling OK about the letter we found?  Talk to me.”  

He nodded.  “I’m doing OK.  The letter just gave me a lot to think about.”  

“So, you know about your mother...”  

“I was not expecting to find answers about my mother and now that I have, I feel grateful that I finally have some answers and know who she was.  And...and that she loved me.”  

Runa grabbed his hand.  They were quiet for a while and Runa wanted to talk about what she was thinking after their discovery.  

“She talked about me, the Dragonborn and, you the Dragonguard.  I often thought we were connected somehow, more than just through emotions but something bigger than that...you felt it too, right?

He looked at her nodded.  “Aye.”

“Something pulled me to you that day in the prison.  There was a reason we both ended up in there, I’m certain of it.  Do you think it was fate we met, Kai?” She inwardly cringed as she still didn’t like the idea of not having control over her own life.  But as far as fates go, the one with Kaidan was perfect. 

“Aye...before I would have said no, but it’s highly suspicious as far as destiny goes.  You the Last Dragonborn and me the Last Dragonguard.” 

“Hmmmm, sounds like we could rule an empire with those titles,” she joked to lighten the mood a bit.  

“Aye, it does that,” he smiled and kissed her.

Chapter Text

Making sure Kaidan wasn’t nearby, so Runa could try to use her charm on the handsome red-headed Nord to no avail.  He was completely immune to her feminine ways. Reluctantly, she was going to have to do his favor before he provided her any information.  She wasn’t a criminal, but he was leaving her no choice.

“Lass, I have been at this game for a long time.  Beautiful you may be, it still won’t change my mind.”

She couldn’t help but smile at him regardless.  He was certainly charming with his kind green eyes that twinkled with humor though he had no smile on his face.  I could learn a thing or two from him.

“Very well, what would you have me do?”

Opening the strongbox wasn’t exactly a challenge for her, but the reverse pick-pocketing to put the ring into the Dunmer’s pocket was an entirely different game.  She never had the unfortunate position to need such skills and it took every trick she knew to keep him from noticing, but she finally managed it.

“I see I chose well.  You could do well with us, Lass.”

“Do well with whom?”

“The Thieves’ Guild.  We could use someone like you.”

She raised her hands up, “Oh no.  I appreciate the offer, Sir Brynjolf, but I am a noblewoman.  I would like to keep it that way and not end up in prison. I just need to know about this man.  Please, as you promised, if I did your job for you.”

He moved in closer to her and looked down at her, invading her personal space, cranking up his own charms knowing he was much more skilled at such things.  “Are you sure, Lass? I could make it worth your while.” After Vilkas, she was learning the nuances of men when they started encroaching on her space with that look in their eyes that they may want something more than just to stand next to her.  She certainly caught his meaning.

Yes, he was quite charming.  “Again, I…”

Brynjolf suddenly looked up when the sunlight was blotted out of his peripheral vision and saw a hulking man with an unusual appearance stand before him looking quite surly and arms crossed.  This man could probably crush me in no time.   

Kaidan was not going to put up with another Vilkas ever again and stopped the whole scene before it even began

She looked over her shoulder to see Kaidan standing there and smiled sweetly at Brynjolf.  “Brynjolf, I would like you to meet my husband, Kaidan.”

Brynjolf smiled brightly and raised his hands up defensively, slowly backing away from Runa then bowed to her.  “My apologies, Milady.” Runa couldn’t help but chuckle at the whole scene.

**********

They finally found Esbern in the Ratway Warrens and had to fight off the Thalmor who had also found him.  It took all her abilities to keep Kaidan under control and not lose his focus with the Thalmor as he just wanted to go on a killing rampage, his trauma hitting him full force at the sight of them.  He was about to beat one of the elves to a pulp before she called out to him.  

“Kai!  He’s dead, my love.  Please stop,” she said as calmly as she could to help tone down his rage, though the whole scene was making her ill.  He reluctantly lowered his sword as they moved on, but the rage and anger still visible on his face.

After they returned Esbern to Delphine in Riverwood, they made their way back home to Lakeview.  They were gone for quite a while and needed some rest, especially now that Runa was starting to show.  

But they didn’t get to rest very long before they received a letter that there was another dragon to be dealt with South West of Dawnstar.  Kaidan was starting to get reluctant about venturing out and killing dragons now that she was getting bigger, but she insisted that she still had a long way to go and she could still handle it.  

**********  

Runa sneaked up to the dragon, quickly pelting it with arrows before it knew what hit it, thus it too no time to weaken.  When it finally landed from exhaustion, Kaidan took it out with his great-sword. Runa, as usual, absorbed the dragon’s soul and there was a word wall as well.  She was learning the language quickly now the more dragons they killed. She would need it in the time to come.  

Heading back to Dawnstar to inform the Jarl the dragon was dead, they ran into a strange temple close to where the dragon was.  She could see it in the distance, a massive statue of some fierce demon-looking creature carved into the mountainside she assumed to be Deadra. She wondered who carved such a thing and why. 

Fascinated, Runa ran off to go explore the area, reminding herself of her father right then.  He was always excited to see things he hadn’t yet discovered, ever the scholar.  

She had never seen anything like it.  She knew that there were large statues across Skyrim dedicated to worshiping the Gods and Daedra, but this one, in particular, was very disturbing and intriguing, so she wanted to see what it was all about.  The statue was bigger than any building she had ever seen, with four arms and a menacing face. There were some ornate iron doors too, but they were locked. As she neared it, she reached out to touch the statue... 

Kaidan quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her back before she could touch it.  She looked at him out of curiosity as to why he stopped her and she could see anxiousness and fear in his eyes, checking around as if something was going to jump out and kill them at any moment.  “We shouldn’t be here…,” he whispered.  

“Why, what’s wrong?”  

Looking up at the massive statue, he explained, “Mehrunes Dagon is a Daedric Prince of destruction, change, revolution, ambition...he is evil.  He believes Tamriel is his realm of Oblivion and has tried to constantly conquer it.  He thrives on death and destruction.”  

“Kai, you have never been anxious about Daedric shrines before.  Why now?  

“Please, let’s just go.  We have to leave...right now.  Please, we...we can talk at home.”  

She had never seen Kai this afraid before and wanted to know what was going on, but agreed to talk later.  

**********  

When they made it home, she knew Kaidan was going to try to weasel out of explaining himself.  He hated talking about himself, especially regarding the more negative things from his past. There was still quite a bit she didn’t know about him, though always trusted him.  She may not know everything about him, but she had her suspicions on what this was all about.  

“OK, Kai, out with it.  What happened back there at the shrine?  Does this have to do with your past with the Blooded Dawn?  You said you all worshiped a Daedric Prince. Did they worship Mehrunes Dagon?”  

His mouth fell agape at her perceptiveness and in remembering what he told her about his past.  “You’ve pieced it all together then...aye, they followed his doctrine...as did...I. A piece of me I very much wish to forget.”  He slumped down in a chair, his face full of strain and regret. 

“I am certain this is something I need to know, Kaidan.”  He noticed she didn’t call him ‘Kai.’  

Swallowing hard, he nodded, “I know...I shouldn’t keep secrets from you, but please know I am a different person now or at least trying to be.  That life I left far behind.” Sighing heavily, “So, what do you want to know?” 

“How did you meet these Blooded Dawn?”  

His eyes started to glaze over lost in memories as he told her his story, “Their leader had a large bounty on his head and I really wanted it.  It was hard-fought, but I killed him and I thought his followers would kill me for it when they started to surround me and I would have died had they chosen that path.  Instead, they honored me; respected me for it. How messed up is that? They brought me into their fold and gave me a place to belong. I had no place in this world, roaming and wandering alone, and they gave me one.  I was actually happy for a while.”  

“Tell me about their Doctrine.”  

“They rule and thrive on destruction.  Purge the old to make way for the new. Kill the weak to make room for the strong.  They believed it was a necessary evil. They found beauty in death, torture, and violence...even rivaling the Dark Brotherhood.  But really, they were just violent people looking to justify what they did...as I did. I was really no better than them. But, then there was one night where I couldn’t justify it anymore...” 

Runa’s stomach started to turn and instinctively wrapped her arms around her growing tummy.  She knew this was going to be bad and she was trying not to get upset about what he was telling her.  She knew he was a good person who had done some bad things, but she didn’t know the extent of it. “What happened,” she asked reluctantly, suddenly wishing she never brought up the subject.   

Running his hand nervously through his hair and moved his hands down to his face to hide his shame.  “The farm happened. A small estate outside of Leyawiin. We were just supposed to steal from them to restock supplies is all...”  When he removed his hands, she could see he looked suddenly sick, which made her pale. 

“The things that were done to that family...the torture, the rapes, the screams.  It went on and on and I didn’t do anything about it...I couldn’t. I was a coward!  I wish I could forget it all, but perhaps I don’t deserve to forget.   

Night after night, I couldn’t get their screams out of my head.  The horrible nightmares would hit me in sleep and wakefulness. I couldn’t remove the horrors from my mind, so the only thing I could think to do was destroy the entire cult itself...kill them all!”  

“Is that what you meant when you told me you got away?  Is that how?”  

“Yes, but it didn’t go exactly according to plan...but does it ever?  I...I had a woman; Rosalind, the cult’s priestess who was a master at conjuration and alteration magic.  I didn’t want her to die when I brought the cult down and thought she would be on my side, thinking she loved me – stupid assumption!  I wanted to know if her magic could make me stronger and she said it could. Instead, she turned her magic on me. She tried to set me in the fires of Oblivion and I fought back.  Our fight was so brutal, it destroyed the hideout and everyone inside it. I was severely injured, but they were finally destroyed.”  

“Did you love her,” Runa asked unable to mask her nausea and anger.  

“I thought I did, but I never knew love until I met you.  You showed me what love really was. I...I’m so sorry.” 

“You should have told me all this, Kaidan.  Don’t you think that was something I should have known before we married?”  

“I should have but...my shame and I didn’t want it to be a part of my life here.  Can’t you see that?! I had to find a way to start over!”  

He sat there unable to bring himself to look at her with his shame.  He told her once he didn’t want to see how she looked at him to change and now it will forever change.  She will never forgive me from all the horrors I have done and I deserve it!     

She went to sit next to him and grab his hand, still angry, but she could see how he suffered.  “I know how hard this was for you to tell me and I can’t say this isn’t...disappointing, to say the least.  But you have shown me over and over you are trying to better yourself and be a good person. You have shown to me every single time how good you really are.  This is a horrible piece of your past, granted, and you should have told me. I’m not happy about that at all. But I know it’s not you any longer. It changes nothing for how I feel about you.

And, you were there for me during my horrible experience with the Companions and stuck it out with me and never left my side though I know you were very angry with me.  I can do no less by you.”  

He just slumped with relief.  He wished it was something he could erase, but he’s stuck with it and now she knows and she still didn’t hate him.  He still wondered how he deserves such a woman. How could she be so understanding?  

“I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.  I’m not sure I deserve your understanding.”  

“Everyone deserves redemption if they try hard enough for it, Kai.”

Chapter Text

Runa was sleeping one night while Kaidan was still awake watching her still wondering how he deserved her and happy life after everything.  Not that he was complaining, but he was afraid it would all be taken from him because of it. He had his hand on her newly swelling tummy and could feel the slight movements.  It made him suddenly smile and feel happy, quickly forgetting about his fears. 

He was terrified at first when she told him the news, but as he could see his child grow and feel it move around, there was a wonderment about it all.  He was still scared he would be a horrible father, but Runa insisted that that wouldn’t be the case and he trusted her judgment, though the doubts lingered. He was also so excited at the same time, wondering if they were going to have a girl or a boy.  He bent over to kiss her tummy and finally laid back down to fall asleep.  

In the morning, Kaidan to the sun and reached out to Runa only to feel cold and empty space.  After getting dressed, he headed to the kitchen for breakfast and to see if she was eating yet.  Rayya was there making some breakfast for all of them. “Have you seen Runa?” 

“No, sir, I haven’t seen her at all this morning.  I thought she was still sleeping.”  

She loves to read, so he went to see if she was upstairs in the study.  She wasn’t there either. After searching the entire house with no sign of her, he headed outside to see if she was in the garden.  She was nowhere to be found. Where is she?  

Starting to get a bit nervous, he was about to head to the lake and look when he turned around and suddenly found himself face to face with a Dremora.  He instantly drew his sword.  

“Kaidan - Traitor,” it said in a hauntingly deep voice.  

“What?  A Dremora?” 

“Lord Dagon demands reparations.  He will claim your soul, then feast on the blood of the Dragonborn.” 

“Dagon?  I’m not a puppet for that beast any longer!  And, he better not touch her! Tell me who summoned you!!!” 

“The time for talk is done.  You will bleed.” 

Kaidan wasted no time and quickly decapitated the Dremora.  It was no match for his skill.  

It knew my name and came for me.  I thought I left that all behind! 

Panic set in when he realized he couldn’t find Runa after facing the Dremora.  No, no, no!  Again, he searched top to bottom of the house and outside, calling out to her.  He looked for a note that might tell him where she was. Nothing. Running to the lake and calling out again, but he knew deep down that they took her, whomever ‘they’ were.  

Think, think, think...who could summon a Dremora?  

...Rosalind.  

She was a master at conjuration and alteration.  If Rosalind had Runa he was certain Runa would die and die brutally if he didn’t reach her on time.  He had absolutely no doubts Rosalind would sacrifice Runa to Dagon for more power. He ran back into the house to pack and pushed Thor back to Mehrunes Dagon’s shrine with fear and regret filling him. 

**********  

He couldn’t find a way into the shrine; getting angry and frustrated.  A hopelessness crept into his mind, but he refused to give up the search.  She had to be here somewhere!  He started to walk around the base of the hill to see if there was another entrance when he stumbled upon a cave.  He hoped this was a secret way in...it was now or never. As soon as he entered the cave, he knew this was the right place with the cave riddled with blood and corpses.  Rosalind thrived on blood and death; it granted her more power with each sacrifice.  

At the end of the cave was a bloodied door.  Opening it brought him to a large chamber and In the center were piles and piles of corpses and blood that also decorated the walls.  He tried to hold back the bile from the gore and smell of rotting flesh. At the far end of the chamber, he could see her standing there.  

Rosalind.   

He thought she was so beautiful at one time with her blonde hair, flame tattoos and her red robes that barely covered her body.  Now she looked like she was burning within. She was a vile person and he assumed the closer she reached Dagon, the worse she looked--like she was burning within.  If she did anything to Runa... 

No, I cannot think about that.  Just kill Rosalind!  

“You don’t seem surprised to see me, Kaidan.”  

“I knew it was you who sent the Dremora.  Are you here to kill me then?”  

“Kill you?  Oh no; maim you perhaps.  Now here you are and you have given me your Dragonborn right on a silver platter.” 

“WHERE IS SHE!!!”  

Rosalind used her telekinesis powers to lift Runa up and show her to him, her smirk filled with no humor.  She was gagged to keep her from shouting and clearly afraid, unable to move.  As soon as she saw him, he could see tears fill her eyes. 

“LET HER GO, OR BY THE GODS I WILL SLAUGHTER YOU!”  

She ignored him and put Runa back down.  “Lord Dagon whispered of your arrival. You’ve been very busy, Kaidan.  You’ve become the bodyguard of the Dragonborn. You follow her around like a sad little guard dog.  I’m sure all she has to do is whistle and you come running like a good doggie...pathetic!  

And, here you are married to her with a baby on the way.  Isn’t that sweet? I can’t even begin to think about what induced you to such a thing,” she said in disgust and contempt in her eyes. 

“How could you know these things?”  

“Oh yes, I see that ring on your finger and I see her little mound on her tummy...little baby Kaidan,” she said in an attempt to mock baby sounds.  

“I have changed, Rosalind.  I am not the person you once knew.  I have done everything I could to redeem myself and push the horrors of the Blooded Dawn out of my head and out of my life.”  

“Please, you of all people ask for a God’s blessing and settle for domestic slavery?  What a joke...you’re a joke,” she hissed.  

“I love her and know now you were nothing to me.  She cares for me and has taught me what it means to love and forgive.  Something you will never have and never will understand. All you care about is death and power.”  

“Love?  I don’t need love.  Does your ‘love’ even know about you, Kaidan?  The REAL you?    

“I have told her all.” 

“You sure about that?  Oh, I doubt that...the stories I could tell!  Don’t worry...I will relay each and every one of your sins to her as I tear the flesh from her skin,” she said, with a vile laugh.  “I will make sure she knows all the evil you have done as I rip her still beating heart from her chest.”  

“I will kill you first!  You will never touch her!!!”  

“Oh, poor Kaidan, but you are too late.  You will never reach her in time.” As soon as she spoke, she used her telekinesis spell and threw Runa across the room, slamming her against the stone wall.  “NO!” Kaidan ran to her to get her before Rosalind lifted her up and threw her to the other side of the room. The fear had gripped him and he knew he had to control his emotions if he wanted to save her.  

He could see Runa bleeding out and knew she was seriously hurt.  Instead of giving in to despair, he found himself angry as Rosalind wouldn’t let him reach Runa.  He knew then that Rosalind would have to die first before he could even attend to Runa. He pulled out his bow and ran straight for her yelling, shooting as many arrows as he could, while she shot her fire spells at him.  He dodged them, rolling on the ground and continued shooting her with arrows. Most missed her but he finally managed to hit her on the shoulder and she screamed in anger, flinging Runa once more against a stone wall. While she was distracted, Kaidan finally reached her, drew his sword and decapitated her, growling loudly at nothing other than at himself.    

He ran to Runa as fast as he could, realizing stupidly he didn’t bring a healing potion.  She was bruised, battered, bleeding and broken. Lifting her, trying not to panic, he carried her out of the cave and put her on Thor as they rushed to Dawnstar to find a healer.    

**********  

When the healer came out of the room after treating Runa, she approached Kaidan.  “She will live. She had her arm, some ribs, a concussion and collarbone broken. They are now mending and she should have full use of them soon.”  

Kaidan sighed in relief that she would be OK.    

The healer gently reached out to him and grasped his arm lightly.  He knew then that there was grave news and he shut his eyes waiting for the painful blow.  

“There is a more grave issue to address.  I’m afraid your child did not survive. I am so very sorry for your loss.”

Chapter Text

Kaidan's eyes tried to weep, but he held them back while holding Runa’s hand as she was sleeping.  He didn’t think he felt so strongly for the child until he knew it was gone. He didn't realize how much he loved it already.  But his grief soon gave way to anger and hatred; feelings he hadn’t felt since his time with the Blooded Dawn. 

He couldn’t do this...couldn’t face her.  There was too much anger in him, so he left her behind in Dawnstar.  He needed to hurt something to still his anger or fuel it--he couldn’t decide which, and since there was no more Blooded Dawn to kill, that something was the Thalmor.  He would hunt them down and kill every one of them for whipping him, beating him, and stabbing him. The thoughts fuel him, getting angrier with every memory of every pain inflicted on him by their hands.  

He headed out the door and only paused for a second with a thought of how Runa would react to how he was right now, but he shoved it way down and crushed it under his mental foot to let his anger fester.  

**********  

She awoke at dawn a few days later and almost fully healed, but emotionally she was destroyed.  No amount of potions could cure her from her grief. She had lost so many dear to her in less than a year and her chance to have a family again was lost.  Not only did she lose her baby, but she lost Kaidan too. He was nowhere to be found, but she knew he had lost his way when he found out their child had died.    

Once Runa was fully recovered, she got on her horse that Kaidan must have put in the stables and pulled Thor behind her as he left the horse behind.  She was going to go back to their Lakeview home, but she just couldn’t bear it, so she headed to her small home in Whiterun. She knew Kaidan was dealing with his own grief over the loss of their child, but she wasn’t sure if he would ever come back since he left no word.  If he did, she was afraid of what kind of man he would be, knowing he had such a dark side to him.  

Instead of grieving at home, she decided to work and avoided everyone.  She didn’t go see Alva, she didn’t visit her family at the temple. She still had a job to do and it would keep her busy and distracted.  She just couldn’t handle the grief again and needed to block it out for a while. Her grief could come later when she was ready.  

The first thing she had to do is return the Horn of Jurgen to the Greybeards.  

**********  

Kaidan was at one of the many shrines of Talos openly lying in wait.  He found out inadvertently that the Thalmor were spying on the shrines to catch anyone praying to Talos where they would be ambushed and either outright kill them or haul them off to prison for torture and death.  The Thalmor were ruthless and of one mind in their regard to Talos worship.  

He was perching on the pedestal below Talos’ feet waiting for them and they didn’t disappoint.  There were three of them that approached him and their biggest mistake was their boldness, throwing caution to the wind because most who still worshiped Talos were’t generally trained soldiers--easy targets 

They always show up predictably, he thought as he smirked menacingly at them.

They had their hands out ready to blast out destructive magic at Kaidan, their disdain for him hidden beneath their hoods, but they clearly underestimated him.  Kaidan slowly got up with no fear of death, raised his sword as they started throwing their fire spells and creating wards to protect themselves from him. But those wards couldn’t protect them from his sword as he finally ran at them, dodging their spells and he quickly decapitated two of them.    

The last Thalmor’s hood had fallen off and Kaidan could see he had a look of fear in his eyes and missing his target from that fear as Kaidan approached him with death and hatred in his eyes.  He stabbed the High Elf with his sword, but not to kill...just to maim. The elf dropped to his knees and closed his eyes awaiting the killing blow as he was bleeding out and out of mana to protect himself.  But Kaidan just circled him as a vulture to carrion.  

He crouched in front of the elf and roughly grabbed his chin forcing the elf to look at him.  “How does it feel to be on the receiving end of pain and torture, you piece of shit?!” He circled the elf again, knowing the waiting game could be just as painful before he stabbed him again.

The elf slumped over still alive when Kaidan finally lost control and started hacking and slashing the elf relentlessly, growling loudly, until the elf was no longer recognizable and Kaidan was covered in his blood and gore.  

**********  

She sadly watched the Jarl’s children run around, instinctively reaching out for her now empty stomach, trying not to cry, but a few strays fell as she quickly wiped them away.  They were having fun playing tag and full of giggles while she waited for the Jarl’s Housecarl to pay her for slaying the latest dragon. Once she was paid, she headed out to meet Delphine and Esbern in The Reach, at Karthspire, where the Sky Temple was located.  

It took a while to take down the Forsworn in the area, which was a particularly large clan, they finally entered the Sky Temple, there were a few tests that only a Dragonborn could perform in order to reach each section.  They came to the last test when Esbern spoke up, “Ah, here’s the ‘blood seal.’ Another of the lost Akaviri arts.” Runa always saddened when she heard ‘Akaviri’ thinking about where Kaidan might be. She missed him so much it hurt, but she pushed it back...she had a job to do.  “This seal is no doubt triggered by...well blood. Your blood, Dragonborn.”   

Pushing aside her sadness, she cut her hand with her dagger without hesitation wanting to keep moving on quickly and let the blood pool into the seal, opening the way into the main part of the temple.    

“Isn’t this amazing,” said Esbern as he entered the temple while Delphine busied herself lighting all the braziers. 

“Esbern, I just want to know how to defeat Alduin,” she said with a sigh, trying not to sound annoyed, but she didn't want to talk about it--just find a way to kill Alduin and press forward. 

“Ah, of course.  Not everyone has an appreciation for the artistic wonders of the world.  Let me see if I can find the right panel...”  

“This isn’t about art.  This is about stopping Alduin before we no longer have art to appreciate or a people to admire it,” Runa said exasperatedly.  “What’s so important about me being Dragonborn, exactly?”  

“Haven’t you been paying attention to anything I have said?  Only you can finally defeat Alduin and avert the end of the world!  If we can just find out what Shout the ancient Nords used, you may have a chance.  Or not. There’s no guarantee with prophecy. Merely hope.”  

“Any advice for fighting dragons?”  

“You’re in luck!  There is a blessing the Blades used on the eve of battle.  It’s supposed to prepare the mind for slaying dragons. I doubt the blessing’s effects last for very long, so ask whenever you’re heading out, and I’ll perform the proper rites.”  

“Well, I’m heading out now to see the Greybeards about that shout.  I need that dragon-slaying blessing.” 

 “’May the scales of the dragonkind splinter at the touch of your arrows, and crack under the weight of your sword.’  That’s all there is to it, Dragonborn. Good luck!” 

She had one very important thing to do first before she headed out.

Chapter Text

Kaidan felt wasted inside and out.  His body was thinner; his beard had grown in.  The fire of revenge in him was completely spent after months of hunting down the Thalmor.  The more he killed the Thalmor, the more his thoughts drifted towards Runa.

It was late evening and he was lying in his tent.  He was so exhausted—emotionally and physically. It had become so overwhelming for him, he just finally wept and wept.  Kaidan never had a chance to properly grieve, well he chose not to, and it finally caught up with him. There was no more anger to fuel his fire, so now he was forced to face his pain.  He knew revenge wouldn’t make him feel better and it only made him feel worse. No amount of killing was going to bring back his child. In truth, it wasn’t only about his loss, but his torture and the trauma it caused psychologically.

In the end, he knew it wasn’t just about revenge for anyone other than himself for what happened to Runa and their child.  It was his fault—for all of it. If he had told her earlier about his past, they may have been more prepared for what faced them, but he kept silent for his shame.  Now their child was dead and he had not been able to face Runa. 

If he was to recover from all this anger, he was going to have to forgive himself.  He knew this deep down. It was something he had not been able to do as of yet. One thing was certain, he was going to have to finally go home.  There was no fire left in him to hunt any longer. She most likely wasn’t there any longer, probably fighting the dragons and Alduin alone since he abandoned her.  She would never forgive him for what he’s done, despite her being the most understanding person he had ever known.  

**********  

Rayya made him some hot tea, gave him a blanket and a letter while she went to the bedroom to draw him a bath.  Sitting down on the floor by the fire, his hands shook as he opened the letter knowing it was from her. He didn’t want to read her anger, but he couldn’t put it down either.  He deserved whatever verbal assault she threw at him. 

My Dearest Kai,   

I write to you to let you know where I have gone.  I had too much pain with the loss of our child and the loss of you.  I went to do my job as Dragonborn. While I grieved, the world would not hold still as I did so.  So, I must go and find a way to kill Alduin. I am getting close to reaching him, I can feel it.   

I know you have been grieving in your own way.  I also know you well enough that you blame yourself for all of this.  You had a dark past, but this wasn’t your fault. It was her obsession over you and desire for power from Dagon that was the cause of all this.  We all make mistakes and bad choices, and you have already paid dearly for yours. You have been so good to me and you are a good person, whether you want to believe it or not.  I just hope this grief and self-blame doesn’t lead you on the path of self-loathing and self-destruction.   

Please know that you are loved and greatly missed.  I hope you return one day to me and you are alive to read this.  You may not see it or want to believe it, but I forgive you, though there is nothing to forgive.  I think you need to read those words from me. I am certain you left in part because you couldn’t face me.  Now you just have to forgive yourself. I think that is one thing you have never been able to do.   

I hope you are home when I return if I am able to return to you alive.  I don’t know what is to come or if I will even live through this. But I pray to all the Gods that I will and you will be here to hold me in your arms for I know I will need it.  If I am unable to return to you, please know again, I forgive you and I will always love you.   

Yours forever, Runa.   

He couldn’t take it any longer and wept once again.  How could she still possibly love him after all this?!  He didn’t deserve her; he never did. But thinking back on her words about self-loathing, she was right.  He had never been able to forgive himself for anything he had ever done. If she could do it, why couldn’t he?  

Rayya stood there in the corner watching her Thane weep.  It was painful to watch and she knew what had happened to his wife.  They were so happy together when they were home and she hoped they could both recover from all this.  She liked them both very much. “Come, my Thane; take a bath. You will feel better.” 

**********  

She reached him with the help of the Greybeards.  She finally got to meet their leader to get his help to reach Alduin.  

“I wasn’t expecting you to be a dragon,” she said in wide-eyed surprise.  

“I am as my father Akatosh made me.  As are you...Dovahkiin.  

“You’re the master of the Greybeards?”  

“They see me as master. Wuth. Onik.  Old and wise.  It is true I am old... 

She did not have the time to chat with this old dragon despite her fascination with the fact she was actually talking to a dragon.  Parthurnaax completely changed her view on dragons, realizing how intelligent they really were. “I need to learn the Dragonrend Shout.  Can you teach it to me?”

“Ah, I have expected you.  Prodah.  You would not come all this way for tinvaak with an old dovah.  No.  You seek your weapon against Alduin.” 

“How did you know I came for Dragonrend?” 

Anduin komeyt tiid.   What else would you seek?  Alduin and Dovahkiin return together.  But I do not know the Thu’um you seek.  Krosis.  It cannot be known to me.  Your kind – joorre – mortals – created it as a weapon against the dov...the dragons.  Our hadrimme, our minds cannot even...comprehend its concepts.”  

Runa soon discovered she must find an Elder Scroll to bring back to him so she could go back in that moment in time to learn the Dragonrend shout and eventually lead her to Alduin. 

**********  

Kaidan spent a few months in recovery at home--not of the physical nature, but of the soul.  He would spend his days trying to meditate as best he could, finding it exceptionally hard to clear his mind and push back all his negative thoughts.  Every morning he would be up to head outside and train with his sword and bow to keep skills honed and build himself back up. Then he would work in their garden tending to the vegetables and herbs or go fishing down at the lake; to do something quiet and peaceful.  

In the evenings before bed each night, he would sit by the fire and read her letter; reading her words over and over again, “I forgive you.”  It became somewhat a talisman for him. He read it so often, the pages were beginning to tear, but he was careful. 

He refused to leave the property.  He didn’t want to go out and let his anger spiral out of control again and just stick with calming activities.  It was hard at first but as time went on, he started slowly feeling better mentally and emotionally. He also didn’t want to leave in case Runa came back.  He wanted to make sure he was here for her; vowing to never leave her like that again. He would have chased after her had he known where she even was. Guilty thoughts of him not being with her and fighting the dragons alone kept creeping in, but he had to make sure they were pushed aside lest he lose control again.  The only negative thinking he would allow himself was the worry that she would live through all this. If she returned to him, he would make sure she was the happiest woman alive.

Chapter Text

It had been 8 long months since Kaidan had been quietly living at Lakeview Manor, and they had been apart just over a year. He had to keep the house running, and that meant making some money. He would periodically help Falkreath Hold with problems like bandits and such, but he never strayed too far or was gone too long to make sure he was always close enough to the house in case she came home. But after all this time, he had his doubts she would ever return. Negative thoughts would creep in his mind that she was dead; that he should have been there for her to help her kill Alduin.   

She has been gone too long!  

He had to still his anger at himself and went off to chop wood. He found it was a great exercise to drown out the negative thoughts. He had been chopping wood for a good hour, his muscles pleasantly burning, and his anger stilled for a while. He stood up straight to wipe his sweaty brow when he saw a horse in the distance slowly approaching, limping with a slumped body over it. His heart started to pound, and his stomach dropped when he saw the horse looked a lot like Butternut. Dropping his axe, he ran to the horse where it got frightened, but Kaidan stilled the horse calmly so she wouldn't run off and saw a woman passed out on the horse. 

He swallowed hard, knowing it was Runa, though she was cloaked, and he couldn't see her buried in the cloth. She came back, but...was she even alive? He gently lifted her off the horse and knew she was still breathing...Runa.   

"Rayya!!!" he yelled out as he carried Runa to the house. "Quickly now! Go fetch a healer!" Rayya saw he was carrying Runa and didn't waste any time. She took Thor to run off to get the healer in Falkreath as fast as she could.  

Kaidan rushed into the house carrying Runa and sat down on their bed, holding her close to him, refusing to let her go. He looked her over, moving her hair out of her face. He could see she had new scars and dried blood above her left eye. Feeling around, he felt a couple of large lumps in her head. She looked like she hadn't eaten in a while—her face gaunt with dark circles under her eyes. Her torn and tattered armor was loose and no longer fitted like it used to.  

Reluctant to let her go, Kaidan had to lay her on the bed to remove Runa's armor to check her injuries and ready her for the healer. As each piece was removed, he could see bleeding cuts everywhere, some worse than others and bruises. He wondered if she fought Alduin or if something else happened. And asked himself why she would travel all the way here without stopping to get healed first. So many unknowns, but he was so grateful he finally got to see her and realized how much he missed her, making his eyes water. 

An hour later, the healer came and treated all of Runa's wounds.  

"She will be fine. She was pretty battered and it was likely the head wounds and exhaustion are what caused her to pass out. She has at least two concussions and my treatments will take care of that in no time. But she will live."  

Kaidan was on his knees by the bed, resting his head on her, relieved by the healer's words. When the healer left, he crawled into bed with her and just held her. 

Despite it being only early evening, Kaidan had fallen asleep next to her. She was lying on her side, facing him and looking at his face with tears of relief in her eyes. It had been so very long since she saw him. Much to her surprise, he looked so peaceful, so healthy, and strong. She didn't know where he was or what he had been through, but she was happy he was here and looking better than she could have ever hoped. She had prayed every day that he would be there waiting for her. 

She, on the other hand, would still need some work. Alduin was tough to defeat, but at least she wasn't alone in Sovngarde. She had the help of some of the best warriors past Skyrim had to offer and still couldn't believe she was actually there. Though he was defeated, all the time it took to get to him and defeat him took its toll on her body. She never had to fight off so many dragons, draugr and dragon priests. And she still didn't kill Alduin because she never absorbed his soul, after all that. But he's done for now.

Knowing she would recover, she just stared at Kaidan, feeling such a deep emotion she was trying not to sob out loud. Alduin was finally gone, and she and Kaidan could move on to their road of recovery. To her, that was far more important than anything else she had accomplished. 

Sensing her awake, he slowly opened his eyes and saw her staring at him with tears in her eyes. He wept yet again, grabbing her tightly to hold her, trying not to hurt her injuries with his face buried in her neck.   

"I'm so sorry..." was all he could choke out, relieved that he could finally tell her that.    

With his face nuzzling in her neck, while she held him back, he finally told her, "It took me a long time to get back and longer still to forgive myself. I read your letter every day while you were gone. I'm not sure I would have recovered without your words."  

She ran her hands through his long hair. "I can't tell you how happy it makes me you made it back to me. I grieved for a long time and knew after all this I would need you; that we would need each other. I can see in your eyes you have found some inner-peace. That makes me so happy too."  

By the next night, she was feeling healthy again, thanks to the excellent healer. Lying next to Kaidan in bed, she looked over at him as he was sleeping and snoring quietly. They had a long talk earlier that day. He told her absolutely everything, vowing to himself he would never hold back anything from her again—no more secrets. She took it all in and cried a few times about what he had been turning into; grateful he was able to come back from that. 

"I was afraid to have children. Afraid I would be a horrible father, but our loss..." he shook his head. "I didn't realize how strongly I loved our child already." 

She understood and knew he had to grieve in his own way, despite how destructive it was. She didn't agree with it, but she understood. She forgave him again for his leaving her to deal with her own grief alone. She then told him everything about defeating Alduin and actually going to Sovngarde, much to his amazement.  

It had been a long time for them, almost a year since they made love, and she missed it very much. She would dream about it when she was out there at night under the stars, needing something positive to think about when she felt herself sinking into despair.  

He was holding her sleeping as she moved her head to kiss his sleeping lips, feeling his warm breath on her face. She slowly moved her hand down his body, and she massaged him between his legs, feeling him get hard. Looking back up at him, she saw he had awakened, looking at her. She kissed him again, deeply, and this time he kissed her back, inserting his tongue into her waiting mouth.  

The Gods, she missed this. She sat up to straddle him and hovered herself over his awaiting mouth and tongue, bracing her hands against the wall behind their bed. Grabbing her ass with his hands, he pulled her into his mouth to lick her sensitive spot that she enjoyed so much. As his tongue roamed around her wetness, she moaned with the ever-familiar warmth spreading through her body. He went back to her sweet spot as she started getting wetter and gyrated into his mouth until she moaned loudly, finally releasing her pent-up passion.    

She quickly moved down on him and inserted his hardness into her as she gyrated with his movements. He grabbed her breasts, watching her move back and forth. Kaidan missed this very much, not blind to his fortune of being with her again like this. Her eyes were closed and head back, enjoying the feeling of him in her.   

With her on top of him, it reached so deeply that she could feel him hit the spot inside of her as she started to moan again, the feeling so strong she began to feel tears pool in her eyes. He could feel her clench tightly around him in her orgasmic throws, making him suddenly want to explode in her, groaning loudly. He was trying to push her off before that happened, but she just clenched tighter with her thighs to keep him there as he let loose unable to hold back any longer.  

She leaned down on him and kissed his lips. She pulled back a little, looking at him right in his eyes with a glint in hers and a smile. 

"I flew on a dragon!"

Chapter Text

Runa felt like she was about to burst. Their child was due any day now, and she was eager to see their little one finally. She was eating a snack at the table watching Kaidan hold their daughter, who was 9 already. She looked just like Runa, dimples and all, except her hair was straight like her daddy’s, and she had his red irises. She was so beautiful.    

“Here, Daddy, this is for you!” 

“Uhm, thanks, love.” She started giggling when he put the crown of flowers she made for him on his head.  

“You look pretty, Daddy!”    

Trying not to laugh, he gave her a kiss on her cheek and put her down finally. “Go on, lass. It’s time for your studies.”    

“Awww,” she complained.   

“Now none of that. You need to keep your mind sharp, lass. And, take your little sister with you too and help her with her work while you are up there. When you are done, you can go play outside.”   

“Yes, Daddy,” she said, as she sulked upstairs while she pulled her little sister by the hand who looked just like Kaidan, almond-shaped eyes and all except they were blue, like Runa’s.   

“There’s a good lass.”   

There was suddenly a loud squeal as Runa saw their three-year-old son remove all of his clothes and start running through the house laughing. Runa burst out with laughter, watching Kaidan try to catch the little naked toddler with that flower crown on his head. The whole scene was silly to watch. That boy always seemed just out of reach when he was running. He was fast and giggling at Daddy, who couldn’t catch him.   

Their son was fast like Runa. He also looked like his dad with his almond-shaped eyes, but instead of them being red, they were blue like hers, and his hair was thick and wavy. He was finally cornered, and Daddy picked him up, throwing him in the air to be caught several times again, giggling loudly. He loved it when Daddy threw him in the air. Then he quickly got the boy dressed again.   

Alva was laughing at the whole scene. She was so thrilled with Runa’s children. It made her so happy to see little ones running around that Alva could spoil since she had no grandchildren of her own. She came to visit to help Runa give birth to their fourth child, as she did her previous children.   

Watching Kaidan with their children always made Runa’s heart burst. She always knew he would be a good father, even if he didn’t believe it himself. But at least he knows now. Parenthood terrified him with their first daughter, and he struggled for a while until he got the hang of things with Runa’s help. Now he was the one closest to their eldest. 

They had lived a very simple life after Alduin. Before, life was just too complicated, dangerous, and traumatic. Runa and Kaidan were tired of it and just wanted to raise their family in peace. In the beginning, leaders would constantly approach Runa to try to overthrow Ulfric Stormcloak, who had won the Civil War. Having the Dragonborn, and a noblewoman, rule with her Dragonguard at her side was appealing for most of the leaders. But Runa and Kaidan refused. All they wanted was quiet and a family. Besides, Skyrim had seen enough war.  

*********   

That night they wanted to make love one more time before the baby came knowing it would be a while before they had the chance. He was kissing and licking her between her legs under the covers, almost ready to orgasm when they heard, “Mommy?”  

Runa could feel Kaidan sigh heavily between her legs. Oh well, so much for that. Their son crawled into their bed and quickly fell asleep between them. Kaidan reached for the boy to pull him in close to snuggle and kissed his head. Both of them smiled, trying not to laugh; oh well. Maybe tomorrow night.   

“Kai,” she whispered. “Our little one is bouncing around so much. I know it’s another boy.” He placed his hand on her stomach, feeling their child move around so much, wondering how the child managed it in such a tight space. He had a massive smile on his face feeling the baby kick about. Even after three children, it never ceased to amaze him.   

Later that night, Kaidan suddenly woke up to tapping on his shoulder, “Kai...”   

“Hmmm, what...” 

“It’s time.” 

“Time for what?” he asked groggily. 

“The baby. It’s coming now,” she said as she started to pant and moaned in sudden pain when a contraction hit.   

He quickly scrambled out of bed, woke up Rayya to take their son, and he grabbed a bunch of rags and blankets, having it all now memorized. Then he woke up Alva for her help in delivering the baby.    

After the third one, he finally learned not to panic as it didn’t help her at all. The first time he was in such a panic, Runa had to kick him out of the room. He had horrible nightmares before their daughter was born from their previous loss, as well. But now he stayed calm and did whatever she needed. When he was done lying several blankets under her, he asked her what else she needed.   

“Kai, sit me up and sit behind me, please. Just hold me. I want to feel you close; it helps.”     

Kaidan climbed behind Runa and let her rest against his chest as she endured the pain and braced for another contraction.    

Rayya took their son upstairs and watched over the children while they slept, knowing they wouldn’t be asleep for long with the screams. Alva was there sitting in their room, reading a book waiting for Runa to be ready.  

After a couple of hours of extreme pain during contractions, the baby was finally ready to be pushed out. Kaidan pulled both of her thighs back as she pushed out their latest family member. He would kiss her head and making soothing noises to help ease her. During each push, she would scream and cry that she couldn’t do it. She always forgot how painful it was, but Kaidan was there to soothe her.  After the fourth child, it didn’t take nearly as long as the first three.    

Finally, after a few more pushes and a loud scream, their child was born. She rested her head against Kaidan, breathing heavily and sweat pouring down her face.     

“You did so well, love. You are so strong,” he said soothingly, holding her hands; kissing them.   

“It’s a boy!” Alva started excitedly.   

He was gently wrapped and handed off to mom and dad. Runa held their child, who suckled at her breast. They saw he had the red irises like his father. She happily wept at their fourth child.     

Kaidan rested his chin on her shoulder, lightly touching his son’s thick black wet hair, watching him feed on his mother in awe. He was always in awe after every birth. 

“I think it’s time, Kai,” she said quietly from exhaustion, leaning back on him.   

“Time for what, love?” 

“Our family has really grown, and I love it here, but we are running out of room. Maybe it’s time to go back to Ivarstead Manor.”   

He moved her wet hair off her neck and kissed it. “Anything you want, love. Anything you want...”