The Temple of the Divines
Katja woke with the dawn in her room at the Winking Skeever. She had been given a small room across the hall from the one where she and Wyll had had their exciting tryst months before, and as she came to consciousness she was not sure whether she was sorry or glad not to have spent the night in that same room. Every time she came here to spend the night she found herself recalling that other night, and on this occasion she had nobody with her to relieve the resulting tension. The ability Wyll had demonstrated since she’d first set eyes on him, to send her pulse racing and her cunt throbbing, apparently applied even in his absence.
She dedicated a little solo orgasm to the memory of that night before getting out of bed. Damn, she was really starting to get horny. But there were still many tasks to perform, and not much time to do them all. Katja considered, and realized that she’d promised Igmund she would take him and Raerek back to the Suite until it was time for Argis and Lydia’s wedding. That would certainly put her in range of the men she was craving.
Feeling buoyed at the thought, she washed her face and hands in the room’s basin and used a damp towel to perform a perfunctory cleaning of her limbs, pits, tits, and crotch. It wasn’t just her hot studs she was missing – the Suite’s hot bathing pool beckoned to her like the vision of an oasis in the mind of a man dying of thirst in the wastes of Hammerfell.
Dressing once again in her “Thane” garb, Katja sashayed out the front doors of the Skeever with a wave to the proprietor, and no thought whatsoever of breakfast. She’d pick something up later. But first, she had to meet this Rorlund at Solitude’s Temple of the Divines. She had visited the place once weeks before, during her early explorations of the Imperial City. It was probably the most substantial such temple in Skyrim, with shrines of all eight of the remaining Divines. The ninth member of Tamriel’s pantheon, Talos, had been booted out of his place here after the White Gold Concordat; but he was still honored in more than one location elsewhere in Skyrim.
Katja made her way to the Temple’s main entrance and, schooling her face to the proper degree of reverence, went inside. She was met by Freir, the priestess she had seen here on her previous visit. “Welcome daughter,” the Nord woman told her sweetly. “If you wish a blessing, feel free to pray at any of the shrines.”
“Thank you priestess,” she replied with equal serenity. “I would have words with Rorlund.”
Freir bowed slightly. “My husband is yet below,” she said, gesturing toward a staircase leading down from an alcove at one side of the central nave. Katja nodded her thanks, adopting her mannerisms from the priestess, and headed in the direction the woman had indicated. So, she thought, the Temple is a family business? The public areas were grand-looking, but as she descended the stairs she found living quarters as humble as those in any farmhouse.
Rorlund proved to be a middle-aged Nord, brown of eye and hair (what was left of it). He wore a brown rough-spun robe belted with a woven cord, and affected a neatly-trimmed moustache and goatee that seemed at odds with his otherwise-simple appearance. “You would be Rorlund?” Katja asked rather bluntly. Try though she might to develop the skills of diplomacy, they seemed to elude her.
“Yes, my child” he replied. “What may I do for you?” Clutching the amulet Dudestia had given her last night, which still appeared to be only partially in this world, she thrust it into the older man’s hands. Was this insanity? In the cold light of morning, her transaction with Dudestia the night before seemed like some kind of fantastic dream.
Rorlund took the amulet and looked at it, turning it in his hands. He seemed to recognize it, which Katja took as a good sign. Her heart thrilled. Could her dreams and desires be made into reality? Or was she just deluding herself? Rorlund smiled at her, still holding the amulet in his hands. “You have been favored by Dudestia then?” he asked. Favored? Understanding nothing of what Dudestia was, only grasping at the hope he would be the answer to her prayers, she hadn’t considered that favor might be involved. Was this her famous Dragonborn luck coming into play once again?
Giving Rorlund her best big-eyed waif look (which would have been more effective had she not been so robustly healthy), Katja told him “I only know that I asked Dudestia to help with my situation, and he told me to give this amulet to you.” She cast her eyes down.
Rorlund chuckled. “’Dudestia’ can be mysterious,” he told her, sounding fatherly. “He blesses those he sees as deserving of his favors. And apparently you have been deemed worthy.”
Her eyes went up to his again, all subterfuge gone. “You can help me, then?” she asked.
“You are looking for…?” the priest prompted. It had not occurred to Katja that Dudestia might have other “services” to offer, or that Rorlund would not know just from the presentation of Dudestia’s token, which she sought.
“I love two men,” she explained – feeling suddenly shy. “They love me, and they have both pledged to marry me. I mean to marry them both.”
Rorlund smiled kindly at her. “This, we can do,” he replied. Her heart soared. “You would like to have the ceremony in the courtyard?” he went on. The Temple had an outdoor area that included an altar and some benches.
“Yes!” Katja cried, her mind already racing toward plans. She had doubted that her wedding would be more than some surreptitious and left-handed affair involving her and her two grooms, with a priest on the side and maybe a witness or two. Might they actually do it up in style?
“And when would you like to hold the wedding?” Rorlund asked, bringing Katja up short. She had not expected this to go so easily. Had Wyll and Anders found a home for them? She really wanted to start her married life with the two of them in their own place, private and away from the constant traffic of the Suite. But what if it took months for them to find the right place? Now that she had learned her dreams could be a reality, she didn’t want to wait that long. And what if Dudestia’s “favor” was a limited-time offer?
Katja demurred for a moment, calculating. The wedding between Lydia and Argis was now something like three weeks away, and she still had to arrange for that to take place at the Temple of Mara in Riften. After that wedding there was the party at the Suite, and she wanted some time after that to decompress and finalize arrangements for her own wedding. “Would five weeks’ time be all right?” she asked, followed by “Oh, what day is it?”
Rorlund looked at her questioningly. “It’s the first of Morning Star,” he said, adding “Happy New Year.” Katja was pretty sure it had been the 30th of Evening Star when she left on her trip to Markarth. Year-end celebrations didn’t amount to much here in Skyrim, and she’d scarcely noticed the date. That meant she’d lost two days, and given that she’d slept a night in Markarth and another here, that wasn’t unreasonable. “Could we set the date for, say, Loredas the 10th of Sun’s Dawn?” she asked, calculating quickly.
The priest turned to a book sitting on a nearby table and leafed through it. It appeared to be some kind of diary or appointment book, with a page for each day. “Will early afternoon work for you?” he asked, “perhaps one in the afternoon?” This was all really happening! Suppressing a surge of excitement/anxiety, Katja told him that would be fine. “Your name?” Rorlund asked. Oh right, she hadn’t even given him that information yet.
Feeling as if she was already flying at full speed before she’d even decided to start moving, Katja now found herself faced with the question: what was her name? She had been going by “Katja” since her arrival in Skyrim, and it was by that name that most people in the province knew her. The famous, one-named, Nord Dragonborn. Of all the people in her life now, only Anders and Wyll knew that she was a Breton, and that her real name was Katrine Bouchard.
After giving the issue her usual 5-second consideration, Katja replied “Katja. Katja Bouchard.” As an afterthought she added, “I’m The Dragonborn.”
Rorlund looked surprised for a brief moment, then as if she had just answered an unspoken question. “That goes far to explain Dudestia’s favor, then” he said. “The Divines would be lonely for a long time had all their current worshippers been obliterated, and they’d had to wait for new ones to arise in a new world.” With that, he produced a quill and inkwell and marked her down in the space allotted to 1 in the afternoon on the date in question. “Your grooms’ names?” he requested.
“Anders Lanya and Wyll Jarskarvir,” Katja said proudly. The sense that her dreams were within her grasp was beginning to sink in, and with it a sense of huge power. If she could do this, she could do anything!
“Duly noted,” Rorlund said, his pen scratching for another moment. “Please contact me at least a week in advance with any special requests regarding the ceremony, and we’ll expect to see the wedding party here by 11 in the morning on the day.” He squeezed her hands, amused at this famously powerful young woman’s air of triumph mixed with perplexity. He loved being an agent of the gods.
Katja’s face lit. “Thank you, Rorlund. Thank you! I’ll be in touch.” With that she turned and walked back up the stairs, her head fairly spinning. She had done it, it was really going to happen! Though not, she soon realized, without a lot more work. Leaving the Temple, she walked back down the street in the direction of Solitude’s main gates. Along the way, she was scanning the people on the street to the left and right of her. Before long, she’d spotted a young woman who looked just about right.
Approaching her, Katja said “Excuse me. My name is Katja, and I was wondering if you could do me a favor. I’ll pay you 50 gold if you’ll come with me to Radiant Raiment for a few minutes.” The buxom, fresh-faced girl eyed her suspiciously for a moment, then seemed to conclude that this strange woman accosting her did not present a threat.
“Why not?” she smiled, accepting the coins Katja pressed into her hand, and falling into step with her as they continued to the establishment in question. “By the way, she added, “my name is Britta.”
So far as Katja knew, Radiant Raiment was the only shop in the whole of Skyrim devoted solely to selling clothing. Throughout the province, those who did not have the skill or inclination to sew their own clothing, but who also had the coin, could hire a seamstress who worked out of her home. But here in Solitude, the haughty Altmer sisters Taarie and Endarie ran an establishment that catered to the sartorial needs of Skyrim’s elite.
Inside the shop, Taarie greeted her pleasantly enough. Though neither of the sisters (nor any Altmer Katja had yet met, actually) was what you’d call warm and friendly, she had done a personal favor for Taarie some months back, wearing an outfit from the shop to the Blue Palace and a meeting with the Jarl. That had led to Elisif’s increased patronage, and Taarie’s goodwill.
“I have a special commission for you,” Katja told the Elf woman. I need a wedding dress, and I need to pick it up by the 12th. It should be beautiful, the finest materials you have, I think ivory satin and lace. And this young lady Britta is my fitting model.” An eyebrow cocked, Taarie looked the girl up and down. “I’ll need you to strip down to your underwear,” she said brusquely.
“Right here?” Britta asked, taken aback.
“Certainly not,” the Altmer replied. “If you will both step through to the fitting room?”
Taarie gestured them into the rear of the shop, where a curtained alcove protected the customers’ privacy. Britta felt a little uneasy about this but hey, it was all women here and 50 gold was 50 gold. Besides, she was taken by the romantic nature of the request. Some lucky woman, presumably built like her, was going to receive a beautiful dress to be married in. So, she removed her dress and stood still, legs slightly apart, as Taarie took her measurements.
“I will need her here for another fitting after the dress is cut and sewn,” Taarie stated. “And I can’t guarantee a perfect fit on your bride, assuming this girl is not she.”
“It’s to be a surprise,” Katja explained, “so I can’t bring the bride in. But I’ll give it to her far enough before the wedding that I can bring it, and her, back here for a final fitting if need be. Will that work?” Taarie looked annoyed, but on the other hand Katja was one of her wealthiest and most famous clients so she supposed she could humor her request.
Making an effort, she pasted a smile on her face and said, “That will be fine. I’ll complete the dress and you can pick it up as early as the 10th, if you like. I’ll need a 100-gold deposit.” Wow, Katja thought. A full suit of off-the-rack fine clothing such as she’d worn on her diplomatic mission only cost around half that to buy. But on the other hand, this was a very special occasion. And she had no shortage of funds, especially after her transaction with Ghorza.
“Certainly,” Katja told Taarie. “If you’re finished with Britta, we should let her go on her way.” The Altmer seamstress nodded, and Britta slipped back into her clothing, giving Katja a toothy grin and a word of thanks before returning to the errands she’d been running earlier. “I have another commission for you as well,” Katja said. “There’s a little more time on this – The wedding will be here in Solitude on the 10th of next month. Mine!” she broke into a self-satisfied grin, and Taarie couldn’t help smiling as well – this time in genuine pleasure.
“Well,” Taarie said, “Who’s the lucky man? Is it that hunky Nord you’ve been traveling with? Or the cute Breton?” Katja had run into Taarie a few times over the months since she’d performed that service for her at the Blue Palace, sometimes with one and sometimes the other of her lovers, acting as questing companions.
She gave Taarie a wicked smile and said, “Both of them.”
The Elf woman blinked, then looked thoughtful. “That should prove… interesting,” she commented.
Katja pressed on to the details. She had given this some thought and she had her own ideas for the design of her gown. She was no artist, at least not in the same league with Argis, but she had produced a sketch that conveyed the general idea. “I want it in rainbow jewel tones,” she explained, “layered and draped with hidden clasps to hold the layer pieces in place. I’ll probably need to come here on the morning of the day and have you put it on me, then I can throw a cloak over it and walk up to the Temple. Will you be available that day?”
“Certainly,” Taarie assured her. She and her sister rarely took a full day off. She was intrigued by this very original concept for a gown that worked like a puzzle, and looking forward to creating it. “Let’s get your measurements, then, shall we?” Katja stripped off her fine apparel and stood while she was measured and prodded. When that was done, Taarie said “I’ll need a further 100 gold deposit for this one, as well. And I would really like to work up a final drawing, in color, of what the dress will look like before I actually start cutting and sewing. Maybe you could okay that when you come to pick up the other dress.”
“That’s a good idea!” Katja said, pleased. This was turning out to be such fun! “May I put my clothes back on now?”
“In just a couple of minutes. Would you please stand there as if you were at the altar?” Katja considered what pose that might be, based on the few weddings she’d attended in her life. Several of the girls she’d grown up with had married young, but those were simple village affairs with dresses sewn by their mothers. She settled on standing there with her weight balanced evenly, feet slightly apart, and her hands held before her as if she were clutching a bouquet.
Meanwhile, Taarie had returned with a sheet of fine paper mounted on a board, and a stick of something that looked like it was made out of dull steel. It came to a point at one end, and Katja quickly saw that it was a drawing implement of some kind. It left fine, light gray marks on the paper. In a surprisingly short time Taarie had done a full-body portrait of Katja standing there in her underwear. Her arms, neck and face were well delineated, but her legs and body were just some faint outlines.
“Will you be wearing your hair up?” Taarie asked. Huh, Katja hadn’t even thought of it. She’d given so little time in her life for these “girly” things like hairstyles, usually either letting it hang long and straight as it did now, or tying it back with a cord to get it out of her face. But why not wear it piled up on her head? This was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, and she was sure she could get one of the women at the Suite to help her with it before coming here on the day of the wedding.
“Yes, I think I will,” she responded finally to the question. With a few more strokes, Taarie shaped a mass of hair atop Katja’s head in the drawing, her graceful neck exposed.
“Okay, you can get dressed now” Taarie told Katja. After slipping back into her clothes she eagerly approached to get a look at the drawing. Wow, Taarie was as good as or better than Argis was! Sketchy body aside, the woman in the drawing was clearly Katja – or how she would look with her hair up. She made a mental note to try that style next time she wanted to impress somebody with her high-class refinement. It was certainly a lot more elegant-looking. “I’ll use your sketch and this drawing as the basis for my final drawing, showing what the dress will look like on you. I think you’re going to like it!” Taarie said, breaking momentarily from her usual snooty Altmer reserve.
Thanking Taarie warmly, Katja paid her the 200 gold as requested and took her leave. Standing in the street outside the shop, her heart soaring at the thought of her forthcoming wedding, she was brought up short when her stomach announced in no uncertain terms that it was about to divorce her on grounds of non-support. Well, she needed to sit down and gather her thoughts, in any case. She stepped across the road to the Winking Skeever, where she ordered some stew and bread at the bar and then took a seat at a small table.
Katja washed her food down with water, not usually her first choice but she wanted to keep an absolutely clear head. She was beginning to feel like a carnival juggler with a dozen plates spinning in the air, and more due to go up at any moment. While shoveling food into her mouth in a manner at odds with her ladylike attire, she opened her small journal to the current page and looked it over. Wishing she had a drawing stick like the one Taarie had used (note to self: find and buy!), she pulled out quill and ink and began updating her to-do list.
Good grief, there were old quests in here from before she and Anders had joined the Dawnguard. At the moment, her enthusiasm for slaughtering a blameless giant in exchange for a few hundred gold had dropped to near zero. Nor did she want to risk her ass eliminating bandits or rooting out Forsworn. Let some other adventurers have the fun – and the gold – for now.
Flipping to a fresh page she wrote down dates. The date she was to pick up Lydia’s dress, the date of her wedding. Pick up Igmund and Raerek, that would probably be the first thing she did after lunch. She needed to discuss some things with Jarl Balgruuf back in Whiterun, but felt that should wait until after she’d gone to Riften to set a date and time for Lydia and Argis’ wedding.
Was she forgetting anything? She’d put finding a place for herself and the guys to live into their hands, and as much love as she felt for them along with respect for their abilities, she had no idea whether this was a task they would be up to handling. Hell, she wasn’t sure it was a task she was up to handling. She’d bought two properties in her life, both within the past few weeks, and in each case she merely took the only thing that was offered. The Suite had been handed to her on a platter, and she liked it a lot – except for its air of being a public place.
Finishing her meal, Katja blew on the page to dry the ink before closing the book and tucking it back in her pouch. Time to walk up to the Blue Palace and collect the former Jarl of Markarth.