Chapter 8 - A Night in Solitude
Arian, Kharjo and Frosty travelled throughout the early morning hours shortly after their escape, determined to make as much distance as possible between them and Castle Volkihar. They had been lucky with their escape, and they had no way to know if the vampires would chase them or not. While Arian and Kharjo had agreed to hunt down Isran together, Kharjo reluctantly agreed that Arian needed a night of rest first. The break in Arian's ribs slowed their process exponentially, and they would need healing potions and a good night sleep for Arian to get back to fighting strength. Despite Kharjo's burning desire to enact revenge on the vampires, he knew he couldn't do it alone.
They traveled around the side of a large mountain that marked the edge of the ocean. Kharjo knew there was a city nearby, and had told Arian it was his best bet to get supplies. As the sun began to rise, Kharjo grew more comfortable around Frosty's presence. A frost troll for a pet was a bizarre thing but the longer Kharjo traveled with the strange creature the more his appreciation clearly grew for it.
It was mid-day when the group traveled underneath a large shadow, making Arian look up in curiosity. The shadow was caused by a large land bridge between two mountains, and the further along they travelled Arian began to realize that sitting on top of it was the large city Kharjo had spoken of.
"Solitude was built on top of two mountains?" Arian asked, amazed at what he was seeing.
"Indeed," Kharjo responded. "It is probably the most defensible city in all of Skyrim. And the seat of Imperial power."
Arian let out a whistle in amazement, and then looked forward to see they were nearing docks. Putting some thought to it, Arian turned to acknowledge Frosty.
"Okay buddy, we'll need you to wait here. We'll back to find you tomorrow, I promise," Arian explained to the troll. Frosty whimpered lowly, looking to the ground. With a little chuckle Arian gave Frosty a rub behind the ears.
"We'll see you soon," Arian said, and with that Frosty turned and began to walk away.
"That is wise. I don't think a frost troll's presence in the city is attention we want," Kharjo commented with a nod.
"My thoughts exactly," Arian agreed. "Come on, let's get in there."
After walking up the stairs at the docks and hiking the mountain trail past a nearby farm, Arian and Kharjo reached the front gate of Solitude. Upon walking through Arian was taken in by the sights and sounds of Solitude, and again he whistled. It was similar to Whiterun in design, large wooden buildings, but there were thirty-foot high stone walls, and staircases that led to other levels of the city. People were wandering about, and everyone seemed to be doing something important, except for the poor beggars on the street. Solitude had been built into two mountains, and the large scale and design of everything reflected that.
"You should see Elsweyr," Kharjo commented, seeing Arian's face. "Lush jungles, vast canyons. You would be whistling until you no longer had a voice." Arian laughed in response to that, and the two men traveled further into the city.
They spent the remainder of that day shopping for supplies. The vampires had never taken away Kharjo's gold pouch, and he had accumulated enough that he could lend Arian some much needed aid. Their first purchases were several health potions, a couple to heal Arian and a few more since Arian seemed to take a beating often. They then bought several arrows for Kharjo, and then Arian looked at his choices for armor.
It was a tempting thought for Arian to go with a heavier armor, his iron armor having long since seemed mostly useless. However the steel armor at the shop made Arian feel like his mobility would be hampered too much. Then Arian saw a set of light green armor that had chainmail underneath it. It also came with a brown cloak that could be worn over top. Arian judged it for a few moments, and then decided it would be perfect.
"Are you sure my friend?" Kharjo asked. "It would not protect you from half the things in Skyrim."
"Well I'll just have to be quick enough that those things can't catch me," Arian responded with a grin. Kharjo laughed helplessly and paid the blacksmith, and Arian quickly changed into his new garments. By that point in time the sun was starting to set in Solitude.
"We should keep moving," Kharjo stated. "If we are to find this Isran we'll need to find the Vigilantes of Stendarr base."
Arian looked to the front of Solitude, and the pain in his ribs made that option seem undesirable at the moment. A look to the immediate right of Solitude's entrance from where he was standing revealed an inn, and Arian admitted the idea of a cozy bed after all the nights spent on a rocky floor was considerably more appealing.
"How about we take one night off? Rest up at the inn and then hit the Isran hunt hard tomorrow," Arian suggested instead.
Kharjo's eyebrows narrowed and he crossed his arms while looking at Arian.
"We need to find Isran now. Those vampires have to pay," Kharjo sharply argued.
"Look, I'm not disagreeing with you," Arian said, growing a little nervous. "But I don't think I can do a night of travelling. I still need to rest my ribs."
"Maybe you're a little slower, but you seem to be walking just fine now," Kharjo said, pointing a finger at Arian.
"I'm sorry Kharjo, just…one night. Please?" Arian pleaded. Kharjo stared intensely at Arian for several moments and then finally let out a growl and kept walking forward.
"Fine. I need a drink anyway," Kharjo stated as he walked towards the inn. Arian let out a little breath of air, relieved that things hadn't turned ugly there.
The two walked into the inn called The Winking Skeever, and Arian was automatically impressed with how much nicer it was in there as opposed to The Bannered Mare. Chandeliers hung down from the ceiling illuminating the room, and the walls were decorated with paintings and the heads of animals. Arian took a moment to take it all in, but Kharjo stormed over to the bar.
"A drink. Whatever is strong," Kharjo said to the barmaid. Then Kharjo looked to his right, Arian having sneaked in beside him. Arian was smiling at Kharjo awkwardly, hoping Kharjo would pay for his drink.
With a sigh, Kharjo added, "Make that two." The barmaid nodded and started preparing their drinks as Arian sat more comfortably at the bar. The stench of drink was powerful in The Winking Skeever, and Arian looked around at their surroundings.
There were many other tables filled with people sitting around drinking, sharing a laugh with one another, or talking somberly. Of particular interest there was one table filled with Imperial soldiers, and they were easily the most rambunctious ones in the inn. They spoke loudly of how they were going to kill the Stormcloaks, of how easy it would be. Arian wasn't very impressed with what he saw there, thinking they were too cocky for their own good. They should try fighting him, Arian thought to himself.
Kharjo and Arian sat mostly in silence, each taking their beverage without saying much of a word to one another. Arian tried to start a conversation several times, but with each passing moment Kharjo either seemed to grow more agitated or sadder. Then with a final swing of his drink, Kharjo slammed is mug on the bar, alarming Arian.
"Another," Kharjo hissed. He shot a side wards glance at Arian, and then added, "Bah, two more."
Arian grew a little more uncomfortable, feeling like he was an inconvenience to Kharjo then. The moment the second drinks were down Kharjo began to down it, and Arian tried to ignore how frustrated his companion was seeming to get. He looked back to the Imperial soldiers again, and saw one had broken away from the rest. He was a bearded man, wearing a bright red cloak like more Imperials did. His seemed to be more regal however, with shoulder pads and less exposed chainmail.
He was accosting the barmaids walking around however, making sexist remarks at them as they walked by. Asking them to "join the Captain in his bed that night." Arian wanted to do something, but if the man actually was some sort of Captain, Arian was worried about what kind of punishment that might bring down upon him.
Kharjo suddenly slammed his second drink down, startling Arian again. Arian cautiously looked over at his Khajiit ally for a few moments, and he was panting heavily staring down at the wood of the bar.
"They're all dead…all dead because I couldn't protect them," Kharjo muttered to himself. Arian wondered how much the drink was affecting Kharjo's sudden self-loathing, or how much it was bringing it to the surface.
"I should have died there with them. That was where I belonged," Kharjo continued to say, covering his eyes with his hand. "But you wouldn't let me."
Those last words came out like a threatening hiss, and Arian figured maybe it was time to say something to try and quell the situation. Before he could Kharjo looked at Arian imposingly, his animalistic qualities blaring through.
"You should have let me die, Arian. Or at the least I should be there killing all those damn vampires with my bare hands! But no, here I am paying for your armor and your drink!" Kharjo accused. He stopped ranting for a moment, staring at Arian, waiting for Arian to say something.
"We…drink to their memory?" Arian offered, raising his mug.
Kharjo suddenly slapped the mug out of Arian's hand, making most of the chatter in the bar go quiet as everyone turned to look. The mug hit the floor with a hard thud, spilling the remainder of Arian's beverage.
"I should be killing to their memory!" Kharjo shouted. He then stood from his seat and started walking away. Everyone continued to look at the scene for another second, but then dismissed it as a drunken feud and returned to their conversations.
"Kharjo, wait! I'm sorry-"Arian tried to say as the Khajiit stormed towards the exit.
"I'm done with you," Kharjo sharply responded. The doors of the bar slammed shut as Kharjo left, and Arian slumped over in his seat and sighed. Arian felt stupid for letting himself think he had made a new ally. When was he ever that lucky?
"Want another to replace that one, hun? It'll be on the house," the bar maiden said. Arian looked to her for a moment, and feeling lonely he nodded.
As Arian solemnly drank, he began to feel the effects of the liquor more profusely. The noise of the bar started to become a hum in his ears, the more he looked around the more colours started to swirl together. He stopped thinking about the confrontation with Kharjo altogether. Instead his mind began to try focusing on little things in the bar, a certain animal trophy on the wall or the way a torch light would flicker.
Arian had no recollection of what being drunk was like so to be hit so heavily with the sensation disoriented Arian in a way he had no means to cope with. After focusing on things he tried to focus on people instead. Arian stared at people with a slack jaw, trying to determine what kind of person they were by looking at them. A couple who noticed Arian was staring at them shot Arian dirty looks, and Arian would have to pick a new target to stare at.
Then Arian went back to the Imperial captain, who was still being a pig. Arian glowered at the man, who seemed to revel in his own disgusting nature, and Arian seriously considered going over there and teaching him a lesson. His mind had changed significantly, what was the worst that could happen from giving a stern lecture to an Imperial captain?
The captain then grabbed a bar maiden who was walking by and tried to force her into sitting on his lap, and she slapped at him to try and get away. This only made him laugh as he held her in place, and Arian had enough of the man. Standing up but stumbling immediately, Arian tried to storm his way over to the captain.
His first setback was immediately running into support beam, causing a loud thump. A few people turned and laughed, and Arian dazedly backed away from the post and stared at incredulously for a few moments. It should have hurt a lot more, and Arian knew that, but Arian didn't seem to mind.
"My god… I'm invincible," Arian remarked to himself, drunk logic setting in.
To Arian, nothing made more sense in that moment then strolling over and telling that obnoxious captain what for. Swelling up with all the pride he could muster, Arian waltzed over to the captain and stood over top of him for several seconds until he realized the captain wasn't paying any attention. The captain was too busy playing with the poor bar maiden, so with over-the-top bravado Arian cleared his voice. The captain finally looked to Arian then, and let the bar maiden go who stormed off in an angry huff.
"Can I help you with something?" the captain asked indignantly, angry anyone would try and spoil his fun.
"You…you should leave the pretty ladies alone!" Arian proclaimed, his words slurring together horribly. The captain raised an eyebrow, and several of the guards began chuckling as they watched Arian try to stand up to their captain. Arian wasn't aware that he was barely standing straight, in his mind he stood tall and heroic.
"And who are you to tell me what to do?" the captain questioned, standing up to regard Arian.
"I am…the guy who's going to kick your ass!" Arian shouted, and for the third time that night all eyes in the inn were on Arian as he swung a punch. The rapid motion was such a blur for Arian, he didn't even register that his fist flew harmlessly past the captain's head. It suddenly felt like there was a hard weight upon the top of Arian's head, and he went crumpling towards the ground as all the colors of the bar finally mixed into one black mass.
Arian awakened some time later, with a headache that could have killed a lesser man. Groaning, Arian tried to put a hand to his forehead to block out all light, but with a clunk sound he realized he couldn't move his arm very far at all. This forced Arian to fight through his hangover and get a proper judge of his surroundings.
All around him were dark green bricks as he was trapped in a round room. Ahead of Arian were prison bars, and wrapped his wrists were cuffs with chains that bound him to the wall. Arian groaned, unable to believe that so soon after escaping Castle Volkihar dungeon, he was stuck in Solitude's prison.
"God damn I have the worst luck," Arian muttered to himself.
Arian sat there for several minutes, contemplating what his next plan of action would have to be. Would he attempt to escape Solitude's prison, and risk the ire of the entire hold's guard? Or should he just wait out and carry out whatever sentence they had in store for him? To the best of Arian's memory he was locked away for trying to teach a captain a lesson in manners, so he figured worst-case scenario he'd be locked away for a few days.
However that meant he'd be unlikely to ever come across Kharjo again. There was also Frosty, how long could the frost troll wait before leaving Arian's side forever? Arian looked to the ground in shame of his drunken misdemeanour, considering the options.
Suddenly a shadow was cast over Arian. Arian looked up the prison bars, where his only light source was now being blocked out by a figure with pointy ears standing in front of it. His hangover affected his vision, but once the figure spoke Arian instantly recognized who it was.
"My friend, you cannot hold your liquor," Kharjo stated.
"Kharjo?" Arian asked bewildered. "What…what are you doing here?"
"I had a crisis of conscience," Kharjo explained, leaning one arm against the bar as he pressed his forehead into it. "But as I come back to find you, I saw the prison guards hauling your drunk ass away."
Arian tried to scratch the back of his head, but the chains once again stopped him.
"Yeah, in a life filled with low moments, that's a pretty notable one," Arian admitted.
Kharjo then pulled back from the bars, and started fumbling through pouches along his belt as he said, "Hang tight, I will have you out of here in a moment."
Quickly checking the perimeter before proceeding, Kharjo nimbly picked the lock to the jail cell. He had a speed and grace Arian was envious of, even considering Arian's own impressive ability. With the gate open Kharjo rushed in and picked the locks on Arian's cuffs freeing him. Arian took a moment to realize how good the relief was around his wrists felt, but then stood up to acknowledge Kharjo.
"Thanks Kharjo, sorry if I was a jerk earlier with the gold and stuff," Arian said, but Kharjo looked from Arian to outside the cell.
"Apologies will wait my friend. We need to get your equipment, and then get out," Kharjo instructed.
Arian looked down and realized Kharjo was right, he wasn't wearing his brand new green armor yet. Instead he was wearing a brown rough spin tunic with no shoes, making the stone floor even colder. Nodding in agreement, Arian followed Kharjo's lead as Kharjo quickly dashed to the entrance of the cell.
"We'll have to be fast if we want any chance of getting out," Kharjo said, but as he did Arian ran face first into the wall beside Kharjo. It caused a loud thump noise, and Kharjo looked to Arian in surprise.
"That wall jumped out of nowhere," Arian grunted as he rubbed his nose in pain. "Sorry Kharjo, I think I must still be a little drunk."
Kharjo sighed, and then scanned the perimeter outside the cell.
"Very well. I will move first, and then when I signal you follow," Kharjo ordered. Arian nodded again in agreement, and then Kharjo dashed from the gate of the cell to a stairwell nearby. Kharjo was out of sight for a moment as he crept up the first two stairs, but then he came back down and waved for Arian to follow.
As Arian clumsily followed, trying desperately hard to be silent, he took in the Solitude prison. He had been put in a cell on the lower floor of a two-leveled square shaped prison. There were cells all around the bottom floor, and from his location Arian couldn't see over top of the guard rail on the upper level. Torches kept the area mostly lit, but there was still enough darkness to make the prison intimidating.
A few prisoners who saw Kharjo and Arian flee quietly tried to get their attention, hoping they would be freed as well. However Arian and Kharjo had enough to worry about with a very hung over Arian to even think about taking on another prisoner.
The duo made their way up the stairs of the prison, Arian following Kharjo at a safe distance. Suddenly Kharjo stopped moving and held up a hand to stop Arian, making Arian stumble over a step in surprise. Kharjo silently hissed at Arian, making Arian blush and remain as still as possible as Kharjo looked forward. Then without warning Kharjo bolted forward and Arian peeked ahead to see what the Khajiit was up to.
Arian managed to see just in time as Kharjo wrapped his arm around the neck of an unsuspecting guard. The guard struggled and tried to cry out but Kharjo applied more pressure and ensured the guard couldn't make a noise. As the man lost strength Kharjo dragged him backwards into a nearby room out of Arian's line of sight, but the sound of a thwack told Arian the guard would no longer be conscience.
Kharjo then bade Arian to follow him into the room, and Arian obliged quickly. Inside the room there were several large chests filled with supplies, and Arian quickly reasoned they belonged to the prisoners. After scavenging for several minutes as Kharjo kept a vigilant look-out, Arian managed to find and equip his previous armor and sword.
"Talk about déjà vu," Arian commented quietly, and Kharjo managed a small chuckle. Arian knew the two had to keep moving, but there was a burning question on his mind. If the two were caught leaving, Arian may never have a chance to find out the answer.
"Kharjo," Arian said, addressing the Khajiit's full attention. "What did you mean when you said you had a crisis of conscience?"
Kharjo stared hard at Arian for several moments, and Arian could tell the Khajiit wanted to continue forward and not waste more time. However Arian stood strong, wanting to know what made his ally tick.
"I asked myself what my brothers and sisters would have wanted," Kharjo finally said reluctantly. "Would they want revenge? No, but I sure do so that doesn't matter. What they would want however, is that I wasn't alone." Kharjo turned to more properly look at Arian.
"You gave me that chance unconditionally. Sure, we saved each other from Castle Volkihar, but afterwards nothing would have stopped you from walking away, finding your own path. But you chose to walk one with me under no pretense, and because of that joining you would make my friends proud," Kharjo finished. Then with a toothy smile he added, "Khajiit guards your back."
Arian smiled, honored that he could have made such a difference in someone's life. Then suddenly that smile dissipated as a guard walked up behind Kharjo with a raised hammer. Arian's startled expression tipped Kharjo off, and Kharjo spun and grabbed the hammer's hilt as it was swung down upon him. Using that man's momentum, Kharjo flipped him forward with a mighty heave, and that guard went crashing forward landing on his back.
The guard groaned in pain, but the Kharjo bent low and punched the guard in the neck and knocked him out completely. Arian was taken aback at how efficient Kharjo was, still in shock by the Khajiit's fighting prowess and speed.
"Holy crap you're good," Arian commented.
"I've already knocked out most of the guard," Kharjo added. "We should be on a clear run to the exit."
Arian nodded, and the two left the room and kept moving. They continued with the same strategy as before, however they grew more relaxed as more time was spent walking over the bodies of unconscious guards Kharjo had already taken care of. As they neared the exit, Arian allowed himself to think they'd get out scot free. Then they saw the huge Redguard man standing in their way.
Standing at least six foot five tall, the large man had a cornrow haircut and was wearing a big chainmail chest plate. Strapped across his back was an extremely large headsman axe, and Arian wasn't even sure if the Redguard would be able to swing that axe in the hallway. He had little doubt the Redguard could swing it though, he had large rippling biceps that struck fear into him.
"You two really thought you could escape the Castle Dour prison?" the Redguard asked, his voice deep and rough. "This is my prison. No one escapes."
Kharjo backed up and whispered quietly to Arian, "I don't think we'll have a choice, we may have to kill this one."
Arian thought about it as he looked at the giant of a man reach for his axe. If they killed this man here, the Solitude guard and by extension the Imperial army would never stop hunting them. The option of serving a sentence was even less appealing however, so Arian tried to think of a desperate third plan. Just as the Redguard began to unsheathe the axe and Kharjo gripped the hilt of his blade, it came to Arian.
He would never really be sure if this plan came from the remnants of the alcohol still making him drunk or if it was actually his own ingenuity. But even before Arian spoke he knew the plan was going to sound slightly crazy.
"Wait!" Arian shouted, making them both stop. "Mister giant scary Redguard man, what's your name?"
The Redguard eyed Arian suspiciously for a few moments, and then muttered, "Ahtar."
"Alright Ahtar, I'll make you a deal," Arian said, trying to keep Kharjo and the prison guard from murdering each other. "I think we all know how the two-on-one fight would end."
Ahtar grunted at this, not seemingly convinced. There was a moment of hesitation however, and Arian knew the Redguard acknowledged there was a good chance he'd lose that fight.
"So what I propose is you let us go, and we won't tell everyone in Skyrim how one Khajiit managed to break out a prisoner and dispatch your entire guard with his bare hands-with ease," Arian offered. Kharjo eased at this proposition, realizing there was an intelligence to Arian's plan.
However Ahtar shook his head in response and said, "My honor demands I try to stop you from escaping this prison. I'd rather die than just let you walk out."
That was going to make things more difficult, Arian knew. Then Arian's plan became even more desperate and he said, "Alright, well then how about we sweeten the deal for you?"
Again Ahtar stopped moving and addressed this strange man in front of him cautiously as Kharjo looked at Arian skeptically.
"To defend your honor, we'll fight you. But only a fist fight. No weapons, no murdering but a fight that will go until the other surrenders. If we win, we leave and don't tell anyone what happened here. If you win, we both stay in your jail no questions asked," Arian stated.
"Arian!" Kharjo hissed. "What are you thinking?"
"Trust me on this one," Arian assured, and then he looked to the Redguard who was mulling it over in his head.
"Well…" Ahtar said as he looked at the two. "I guess we can try that." For a man who had just made a big deal out of honor, Ahtar seemed like a more cowardly man then he let on. "But only if I fight one of you. Two is not fair."
The ludicrousness of what was unfolding was not lost on Arian. He knew that a prison guard agreeing to a fist fight for a prisoner's freedom, but only fighting one of them so it was fair, was a pretty ridiculous scenario. Arian counted himself very lucky that Ahtar had no intention of dying.
"Alright," Arian agreed. "You can fight my friend Kharjo here." Kharjo's ears went straight back in shock as he looked at Arian in fear. It wasn't an emotion Arian was used to seeing in the Khajiit, and it startled him.
"I can't take a man of that size," Kharjo whispered. "Why don't you fight him?"
"Do you expect me in my condition to even be able to throw a punch?" Arian countered, swaying a little as he did. "I'm too hung over to fight this guy."
Kharjo let out a little whimper and sighed. Releasing his grip on the blade, Kharjo did his best to stand tall.
"I will fight you for your honor and our freedom," Kharjo stated.
Ahtar then openly laughed, clearly not imposed by Kharjo in the slightest. Kharjo grew visibly more nervous, and shared a look with Arian. Arian did his best to give him a reassuring look, but it didn't seem to help much.
"Very well, cat man," Ahtar said as he stopped chuckling. "I will fight you."
A few minutes later they were all down in the lower level where Arian had been kept earlier. Many of the prisoners stood at the edge of their cells and watched intently as Kharjo and Ahtar both stripped their armor to be bare chested. Down to only tunic pants and bare feet, the two circled each other. Kharjo looked ganglier then Arian had expected, the Khajiit's grey fur covering his slender form. Ahtar on the other hand looked even more imposing with the armor off, giant abs and a barrel chest striking Arian's nerves.
"Alright, the rules are fight until one of you surrenders, or you know can't speak any more," Arian stated, walking between them. He looked to both contestants, and both Ahtar and Kharjo nodded. Apprehensive that his plan was going to turn out awfully, Arian walked over to Kharjo's side.
"Sorry to put you in this situation," Arian said to Kharjo.
"I only hope your faith in me is not unfounded," Kharjo replied, and then he walked forward to address Ahtar. Ahtar smirked and edged closer to Kharjo in response. Leaning back against the wall of the prison, Arian crossed his arms and dammed his hangover. He knew it should have been him fighting the Redguard.
Kharjo and Ahtar began to circle each other, both trying to judge the other's movements. While Ahtar grinned, Kharjo narrowed his eyebrows in anticipation. Then suddenly Ahtar dashed forward and punched at Kharjo. Quickly leaning to the side Kharjo dodged the swing, and then Kharjo jabbed forward and hit Ahtar in the chin.
Ahtar recoiled in surprise, and Kharjo followed up with two more quick jabs hitting Ahtar in the chest and cheek. Then before Ahtar could think to respond Kharjo leapt up in the air with a spin and kicked, hitting Ahtar in face. The large man fell to one knee in surprising pain as Kharjo landed. The Khajiit quickly readjusted himself into a fighting pose as Ahtar stood back up and spat out a wad of blood.
No longer grinning, Ahtar charged forward at Kharjo again. Kharjo got ready to lean or counter a punch, but instead Ahtar dropped a shoulder and plowed into Kharjo, taking Kharjo off his feet. Arian grimaced as Ahtar tackled the Khajiit into the ground. In a full mount positon Ahtar let out two powerful punches into Kharjo, and to his credit Kharjo managed to bring up his arms and protect his face from the scarring hits.
Then suddenly Ahtar grabbed both of Kharjo's arms and spread them out wide. Kharjo wasn't sure what was coming with neither of their arms free, when Ahtar suddenly and violently head-butt the Khajiit. Arian gasped in shock, and Kharjo's head slumped backwards towards the ground. In a daze, Kharjo tried to regain some sense of balance, when suddenly Ahtar punched down hard and hit him in the face.
The hit took the air out of Kharjo's lungs, but it realigned him to the fight that was occurring. Ahtar attempted a second brutal punch, but Kharjo nimbly swerved his head to the side and let Ahtar hit the stone floor beneath them. It sounded like bone broke as Ahtar's fist slammed into the ground and the giant man let out a roar of pain. Kharjo used the moment to his advantage by wrapping his hands around Ahtar's neck and tearing the large man off of him.
Kharjo quickly rolled to his feet as Ahtar tumbled off of him. Ahtar growled as he cradled his broken hand and stood up, and Kharjo began to hop back and forth on his feet, anticipating a charge. Ahtar did exactly as the Khajiit predicted and ran at Kharjo liked a maddened rhino. As Ahtar neared Kharjo swept low and kicked at Ahtar's feet, sending the large man air born. With a crash onto his stomach, Ahtar remained still for many moments, and Arian was starting to think maybe the Redguard was unconscious.
Cautiously Kharjo neared the Redguard, checking to see if he had been knocked out. Then suddenly Ahtar grabbed Kharjo by the ankle and swung the Khajiit like he was a toy into the ground. Stunned by the hit, Kharjo could only roll onto his back as Ahtar once again crawled on top of him. This time Ahtar wrapped his good hand tightly around Kharjo's lungs with the intention to squeeze the life out of the Khajiit. Kharjo gasped for air and tried to remove Ahtar's hand, but strength was fast fading.
Arian moved to intervene, prepared to declare Ahtar the winner. He knew it would mean it would mean a life in prison, but he couldn't watch Kharjo die. Then suddenly with a burst of strength and speed Kharjo reached up and grabbed Ahtar's elbow with both his hands. Ahtar's eyes went wide in confusion, but a look down to Kharjo revealed it was the Khajiit's turn to smile. Twisting his hands and yanking backwards with his arms, Kharjo snapped Ahtar's arm in two different places.
Ahtar screamed in pain and Arian almost threw up in shock as Ahtar's arm turned to jelly. No longer able to keep a grip around Kharjo's neck Ahtar sat up, but then he received a punch in the face from Kharjo. The large man fell off Kharjo and rolled onto his side as he winced in pain. One hand and the other arm were broken, leaving Ahtar to squirm in pain futilely breathing heavily and rapidly to try and keep the pain under control.
Kharjo stood up slowly and panted. Rubbing his neck where he was being choked, Kharjo walked over to Arian, who was still flabbergasted at what had just happened. Kharjo kneeled down and started to put his armor back on as Arian just stared at his Khajiit friend.
"No one ever said we couldn't fight dirty," Kharjo commented with a wry smile as he started to put his chest piece back on. Arian was still speechless, but he couldn't help but laugh at that statement. It was an infectious laugh, Kharjo soon joining him, and then surprisingly Ahtar did the same. The two friends looked down to Ahtar, who was having a rough time standing up without using his arms, but he was laughing all the same.
"That was a good fight Khajiit. You surprised me," Ahtar admitted. Kharjo nodded in acknowledgement, accepting the compliment.
"You two are free to go, I'll make sure the statement says you served your time," Ahtar said to Arian. "If either of you ever need a hand, come find me. It would be an honor to fight at the Khajiit's side." Confused by how the Redguard's brain worked, Arian looked to Kharjo skeptically. However Kharjo was smiling in return.
"It would be an honor to fight at yours," Kharjo replied. With a shrug of his shoulders, Arian gave up on trying to figure out the thought process. Arian supposed honor just wasn't a concept h was familiar with.
Morning was breaking in Solitude as Arian and Kharjo left the city. They made sure to sneak out, just in case there were any guards who had seen Arian locked up still patrolling the city. The last thing they wanted was any more trouble.
Out of the city, the two quickly reunited with Frosty, who had a large pile of fish waiting for them. The frost troll must have been fishing the whole day they were gone, Arian realized, and once again he was blown away by the troll's intelligence.
As the three made distance between themselves and Solitude, walking along a mountain trail that led towards a small hamlet down the road, Arian turned to Kharjo and asked, "So, you think your caravan would have been okay with you traveling alongside me?"
Kharjo nodded and responded, "Yes. I mean they would have disappointed I picked company that can seem mostly brain dead sometimes." The little jab at Arian's thought process made Arian chuckle, knowing full-well he deserved it.
"But they would be happy I have at least found a friend to walk beside," Kharjo finished. Arian smiled in response, and together the three continued down the trail.