Katja and Anders had to fast-travel to the most recently-visited spot that appeared on the map, before resuming their search for a path leading up to the dragon’s mountaintop lair. They passed the forlorn, ruined farmstead where Anja had been born, then continued on their way further along the trail. For a change some conversation was possible, as the wildlife of Skyrim was on a short vacation from its usual campaign of non-stop homicide.
“I think she’s going to do fine with Lydia,” Katja told Anders. “Did you see that grin? That’s the first time Lydia has cracked a smile since I’ve known her… though she did almost smile when I introduced her to Wyll.” Anders paused as he was walking beside her and said, surprised, “You introduced her to Wyll?” She smiled at him, a bit ruefully. “I didn’t want him to get lonely while I was gone with you. And I saw he had an amulet like mine, so I figured he was used to… uh, getting busy a lot.”
They continued walking. Her train of thought leading her on, Katja asked Anders “How come you don’t have one of these amulets? Aren’t they, like, standard issue for the Suite guys or something?” Anders’ light tan skin didn’t turn pink in quite the spectacular way that Kat’s (or Wyll’s) did, but he still managed to color. “I didn’t usually do bedwarmer duty,” he replied a little stiffly. “I was there more to make the customers feel at home, be available as a battle companion, stuff like that. We’re not obligated to sleep with the customers unless we want to. When I told you that taking you to bed wasn’t part of my job duties, I wasn’t kidding. Of course if I hadn’t seen that you had an amulet of your own, I could have gotten one before we…”
Now it was Katja’s turn to pause. She spun to face Anders and closed with him to give him an affectionate hug and a tender kiss, looking into his eyes with love. It had been months since her misunderstanding of that circumstance had nearly led to her cutting him loose, and it was only now that she fully realized that his hasty explanation at that time was true. Not that it mattered anymore. Whatever he may have done as an employee of the Suite before they met, he was hers now – body and soul.
They resumed walking. Changing the subject, Katja said “I’d like it if Anja could be in a family situation with brothers and sisters, and a real home. But for now, I think Lydia will make a good nanny until we can find a place for her to live permanently.” Anders wondered if he dare speak. But this seemed as if it might be the best opportunity he was going to get for a while. “What if… You know, we could buy a house in Whiterun. There’s one available, right near the main gates. Then maybe you and I could…”
She interrupted him. “Whoa, whoa! Don’t get carried away, lover. I’m barely 23. I would like to settle down and raise kids someday, but I’m not through having adventures yet!” Seeing how crushed he looked, she took him in her arms again. The longer they were together, the easier she was finding it to tell him what was in her heart. “I love you, Anders. As much as I’ve ever loved anyone, maybe more. But I still want to have some fun before I get tied down with a lot of responsibilities. Can you wait for me?” She peered into his face with an appeal that would have melted anyone’s heart.
He held her at arm’s length, gazing into her eyes with an intensity of love and joy that almost knocked her off her feet. “Whatever you want, Kat, and however long I have to wait. As long as we can be together like this sometimes. But I’ll hope for more, some day.” It wasn’t easy getting into a clinch in full armor, hung about with deadly weapons. But they managed it. After a deep and passionate kiss, they drew apart again. Breaking the intensity of the mood, Katja said “let’s go kill that damned dragon!” and set off up a likely-looking trail that appeared to lead toward the spot on the map where they hoped they could find the beast that had killed Anja’s family.
In a little while the trail began climbing steeply, then broadened and swung past a short stone tower, before it funneled into a semicircular area backed by a Word Wall. The dragon they’d been hunting was sitting atop the wall, hunched over it like a vulture awaiting the demise of a diseased cow. Katja and Anders approached stealthily, then blasted it simultaneously with a surprise attack that sent it flapping off, roaring its anger and defiance.
Katja’s latest Dragonbane bow was more powerful than ever. With that and the Dragonrend Shout, which had proven to be well worth the trouble it had taken her to learn it, she was bad news for any dov that might be inclined to cause trouble for the human inhabitants of Skyrim. And though he had already had devastating skills in Destruction magic when they met, Anders’ time spent acting as Katja’s companion and protector on her many adventures had improved those skills until he was a force to be reckoned with.
Suffice it to say, this murderous beast did not stay airborne long. Nor was it many moments after Katja’s Shout brought it down, before it was smoldering to bones – and its soul had joined the repository she held within her. As The Dragonborn Katja was said to have the soul of a dragon. And inside her she held several such, that she had absorbed after killing the dragon bodies those souls had inhabited. Musing on this, Anders reflected that some of Kat’s appetites did seem a bit draconian. But what drew him to her were her irrepressible energy, her human warmth, and her occasional vulnerability. Among other things…
He sometimes felt as if he simultaneously wanted to hold her and protect her, exult in battle at her side, make love to her until all the strength in his body was gone… and tell her to shut the hell up and let him get some sleep, when she would arise at dawn and begin prodding him to get up as well. Before her arrival, he’d been able to sleep as late as he wanted to almost all of the time. Now, he occasionally found himself getting up early even when she was not around.
Katja had her own perspective on her supposed draconian nature. She had to respect the dovah. They were ancient beings of immense power and intelligence, with knowledge no human still living held. Despite her sometimes impulsive nature she valued knowledge, and one of the things that drew her to Anders was his love of scholarship and his fund of lore. But though there some few of the dovah who she liked and valued as friends (notably Paarthurnax, who had aided her in defeating Alduin; and Odahviing, who had promised to come to her aid if called), most of them seemed inimical to human life and it was her mission, like that of the Blades, to wipe them out or at least beat them back so that they were not a threat. Let them fly somewhere else, and she would be happy to leave them in peace.
After claiming this one’s soul, Katja approached the Word Wall. By now she was well familiar with the process of absorbing a new Shout, and it was soon done. This, like others not imparted to her with the aid of another, would require a dragon soul to be expended before she could use it. She had pondered long on why this should be and discussed it with Anders, but neither of them could figure out what the mechanism was. The Shouts taught her by the Greybeards, Dragonrend in the vision provided by the elder scroll, even the Shout that was Odahviing’s name had all become usable as soon as she had heard them. But others were not.
One thing she had discovered was that a great many of the Shouts had an equivalent in spellcraft. There was certainly no Dragonrend spell, nor one of Unrelenting Force; but many other Shouts she had found at Word Walls all over Skyrim could be duplicated, to some extent, by spells learned from Spell Tomes. This took some of the pressure off her. She really would prefer not to be slaughtering dragons just to harvest their souls and enhance her abilities. On the other hand, she had absolutely no compunctions about killing this most recent one.
After claiming the word of power, which she had not yet decided to unlock, Katja turned smiling to Anders. She had been considering what he’d said earlier, despite her rebuff, and had reached a decision. “I think you’re right,” she said. “We should buy that place in Whiterun. I’ve got gold coming out my ears now – we might as well spend some of it!” He smiled back at her, trying to hide the way in which her words caused his heart to soar. Did I just get my foot in the door? Was that the first pebble falling from the dam?
They fast-travelled straight to Dragonsreach. When Kat seized on an idea, she would leap in with both feet. And in this case, it was all to the good. As luck would have it, they found the local time to be somewhere around mid-afternoon. You never quite knew what to expect, when you used a magic map. They marched right in through the front doors, Katja being currently in great favor throughout Skyrim – and here in Whiterun, especially.
Proventus Avenicci, the balding and fastidious father of Katja’s friend Adrianne, was delighted to see her. She would like to purchase property in Whiterun? Excellent! A house was available now. Would she also like to decorate it with some suitable furnishings? But of course. Within a few minutes, Katja had purchased the small but conveniently-located Breezehome, with comfortable and modest furnishings for kitchen, dining area, bedrooms, and loft.