In the morning, Katja woke entwined in Wyll’s arms. Snuggling seemed always to be required, here in Skyrim. The province never really warmed up. As her brain came awake and she oriented herself, she hugged him to her and planted very soft little kisses on his hands. What a man! Anders might be the romantic lead in her personal story, but Wyll was so crucial to her happiness that she could not envision being without him. Just being wrapped in his arms filled her with joy.
Thoughts of her plans for the day soon claimed her, and before Wyll could get started on his usual morning campaign of inflaming her desire, she slipped from between the covers. He woke some time later, feeling a little chilled. Where was his beloved, forming a warm spot at his belly? He’d been dreaming of their latest encounter and his cock was rising; but she had fled.
Wyll opened his eyes, finding himself sadly alone in the spacious master bed of Vlindrel Hall. He sighed. If you could count on Kat for anything, it was early rising and short shrift to any ideas you might have of morning dalliance. Not that such dalliances hadn’t happened on occasion, even in fact recently; but this absence was the norm. Now fully awake, he sat up in the bed and scratched himself sleepily. Might as well face the day…
Katja was definitely impressed to find Argis already up and dressed, and preparing breakfast for them all without having been asked to. This guy was not only a hunk, he was sharp! She gladly accepted a cup of hot tea, and sat at the dining table munching on a sweet roll. When she felt a little more together, she told him “We’ll be taking you with us to Whiterun this morning.” “As my Thane wishes,” he replied stoically.
She felt a twinge of annoyance. This whole “housecarl” thing seemed wrong to her. There’d been nothing like it where she’d grown up, and the idea that some arbitrary social distinction should cause a man like Argis (or, for that matter, a woman like Lydia) to treat her as if she was exalted beyond anything they could hope to achieve, was just ridiculous.
Fortified by her slight breakfast, Katja returned to the master bedroom to put on some clothes in place of her robe. She found Wyll moving about, in the nude. Ooh, but no… “Good morning, lover,” she purred, drifting to his side and taking him in her arms. “We’re going back to Whiterun in a little while. Do you want to get some breakfast?” Wyll was still considering what to put on. “We’re going straight back there? No fights along the way?”
Katja considered that thoughtfully. In Skyrim, you tended to assume that any journey upward of five minutes might very well lead to armed conflict. But in this case her plan was to fast-travel them from the little stone landing immediately outside Vlindrel Hall to the spot just inside Whiterun’s gates, a short walk from the front door of Breezehome. “Casual clothes should be fine, love” she told him. Unable to resist, she gave him a squeeze that was a bit the other side of casual. Damn, but this man seemed to bring out her inner insatiable slut!
Wyll appreciated the squeeze, but months of familiarity had attuned him to Kat’s moods. He knew she was not really inviting him to sex, and he squeezed her back in a way that told her he’d be happy to take her up on any real invitation she should care to extend – later. It occurred to him, as he dug some trousers and a tunic out of his pack, that in the few months they had known each other he seemed to have… matured somewhat. The carefree existence of the past couple of years, since he came to be employed by the Luxury Suite, was slipping behind him now. Kat was just a “kid,” a couple of years younger than he was. But she’d taught him things he’d never have dreamed possible.
Wyll came to the dining table in time to have a little of the hot tea and some bread and cheese, tucking an apple into a pocket for later. Not that “later” would be long, with Kat and her magic map. Such things were far from unknown in Skyrim, but she was the first person he’d known personally who possessed such an item. It certainly changed one’s attitude toward time and distance.
Before they left Vlindrel Hall, Katja made sure that Argis had packed with him everything he owned. She planned to uproot him utterly from the life he had known, this man half again her age. That she had the power to do so was implicitly accepted by all parties. She saw it as a lucky chance, an alignment of fate that made it possible for her to subvert the established order of things in ways that would enable her to achieve what she felt was justice.
A few moments after stepping onto the stone landing outside the doors of Vlindrel Hall, the three of them found themselves standing just inside the gates of Whiterun, flanked by two of the city’s many guards. Though it had been early morning in Markarth, it appeared that here dark was just falling. Another day lost?
As Katja oriented herself and began striding toward the door of Breezehome, a dozen or two paces away, she found the guards on either side suddenly crying out in alarm. “Kill it!” one shouted, and “I’ll see you dead!” the other cried in typical Nord fashion. Barely visible in the dim evening light, a figure clad in dark leather was moving to attack the guards and Katja’s party as well. She felt nigh on helpless. Her weapons, along with her armor, were in her pack. Wyll, likewise, had no more than a dagger about his person. But Argis was still fully armed and armored.
She still had one weapon always at her command, and Katja Shouted “FUS-RO-DAH!” The sinister man in dark leathers was hurled through the air, landing a dozen yards up Whiterun’s main street and tumbling to the ground, still for a heartbeat or two before getting back on his feet. Meanwhile the guards and Argis brought their weapons to bear, and in another few heartbeats the man lay unmoving.
Katja approached the corpse, wanting answers. She had thought this area, the heart of Whiterun, to be a safe haven for Anja. “Those damned vampires!” one of the guards declaimed. The other agreed, “Somebody needs to do something about them.” Vampires? She hadn’t realized they were that much of a threat, though she had to admit that they seemed to be coming to her attention more and more recently. She searched the body, and this was clearly a Master Vampire. What he was doing here was anybody’s guess.
Shaken, Katja led her party to their original intended destination: the door of Breezehome. They found Lydia standing before the fire, stirring the kettle while Anja sat at the table, drawing with charcoal on a scrap of paper. Anja looked up, her eyes alight in an instant. “Auntie Kat! Uncle Wyll!” Katja swept the child up into her arms as the little red-haired whirlwind barreled into her. Then she handed Anja off to Wyll, who lifted her high to enfold her in a bear-hug before letting her down again. The ceilings in Breezehome were far too low to allow her to ride his shoulders.
Katja turned to Lydia. “How is everything?” she asked. Lydia smiled, pleased to see her Thane and benefactor – the young woman she was just starting to think of as a friend. “We’re doing fine. But did you hear? There have been vampire attacks in the city.” As a woman fully versed in the arts of killing, Lydia did not regard the threat as the average housewife might. “Actually, we just met a Master Vampire as we were arriving here,” Katja told her. “It was lucky we had Argis along.” Lydia noticed for the first time that neither Katja nor Wyll was wearing their usual battle garb – and that a tall, broad-shouldered warrior she had never seen before accompanied them.
He looked like a man worthy of respect, this fellow. A few years older than she was, and with the battle scars to prove his history. He carried himself erect, a true Nord; and he had an air of seriousness that resonated with her. Though they had not yet spoken nor even been introduced, Lydia sensed already that this Argis was someone for whom duty was a vital component of his makeup – as it was for her.
Recovering her composure, Katja formally presented Argis to the household. “Argis the Bulwark, this is Breezehome, and this is Lydia – my Whiterun housecarl. She is guardian to my ward, Anja.” The little girl, taking this all in with far less gravity than the adults were displaying, piped up at this juncture with a “Hi!” and a little wave. A hint of something akin to warmth flickered across Argis’ features at that point. He wasn’t sure what situation his Thane was putting him into, but he was beginning to think he might like it. This Lydia was stunning! Her glistening dark hair and enormous dark blue eyes, coupled with her hourglass figure, even put his Thane in the shade.
He said formally, “Pleased to meet you, Lydia. And Anja,” bowing slightly to the red-haired gamin beaming up at him. He’d become used to a negative reaction when people saw his dead left eye; but this little girl didn’t appear to be concerned by it. “Are you a warrior, like Uncle Wyll?” she asked. Before he could formulate an answer she continued, “Can I call you Uncle Argis?” Nonplussed, Argis just stood there stiffly, a smile caught on his face as if it had been surprised there, and was not sure whether to flee.
Katja stepped back, placing her hand on Wyll’s arm. She smiled, exchanging glances with him. This was pretty much exactly what she’d had in mind. “Argis,” she said, “I’d like you to stay here in Breezehome for a while. With these vampire attacks, I think Lydia could use some help protecting Anja. Or at least, with household chores and shopping and so forth. You can sleep in the spare bed over there,” she gestured toward the bed Wyll and Anders had lugged from the Suite. “… unless you and Lydia come to some other arrangement…” Was that too heavy-handed? Katja was new at this match-making stuff.
Lydia glanced at Argis, then at Katja with a look that hinted at resentment. Oh shit, too heavy-handed. But maybe the gaffe could be forgotten, in time. “Well, Wyll and I will be off now” she said, a flush rising in her cheeks. Had this really been such a good idea? More kisses and hugs were exchanged with Anja, then the two of them backed out the door of Breezehome and shortly thereafter materialized outside the Luxury Suite.
Wyll glanced at Katja as they made their way inside, a half-smile on his face. “So, Lydia and Argis eh? Are you sure about that?” Katja shook her head ruefully. “It seemed like a good idea when we first got to Vlindrel Hall and I realized I had a matched set of housecarls. Now, I don’t know. I don’t think I can just push people around and have them do what I want them to do. But wouldn’t it be great if they hit it off? It would be like Anja getting a mom and a dad, just like that.” She snapped her fingers.