The official backstory of Bishop and the key characters of Skyrim Romance.
Alternate reading links:
FanFiction.net – https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11992870/1/Brothers-In-Arms
Apologies for the delay, things have been getting busy in the mod and real life! Carries on immediately from the last chapters.
After sleepless nights and mornings spent salvaging half-dried clothes the brothers came to a crossroads. As far as they knew, they were now in Eastmarch. To the north would be chilling climates and hot springs they had never experienced before, but in the south of the hold they were in familiar grounds. Perhaps not with the layout but green grass and trees felt more like home to them than the orange and yellow of Whiterun’s plains.
“Hey, come on we’re almost there.” Bishop said as he decided to go off-road prematurely to take a path into the mountains.
Jules had slumped on one of the crumbling stone walls lining the road. “How do you know?” His deeper voice echoed the weariness of the bags under his eyes. Combined with his unkempt stubble and grey pallor, he appeared to be twice his age.
“I asked for directions.” Bishop retorted as he tested for the best footing up the steep path.
Jules blinked at him.
“I’m good at directions! Look, the witch had a map on her table. If I’m wrong, I’ll carry you on my damn back. Deal?” He snapped and with a flourish of his hand gestured for Jules to go first.
With a groan, his brother had no choice but to continue onwards.
Carrying Jules on his back almost became a reality. To get to the bandits’ cave they had to delve up into the mountains. It may only have been the lower tier but Bishop found he had to practically push Jules up the incline. The path to the hideout took a sharp U-turn and went down as steeply as it had been going up, resulting in them nearly barrel-rolling into each other.
The picturesque waterfall in the small cove beyond the foliage had them both slightly slack-jawed. The huge rock-face separating two holds was a myriad of water cascading and intertwining with deafening roars, but somehow this one was serene, though only foliage separated it from the road. Then they looked down the next turn in the path and saw the bloodied bodies on pikes outside of the entrance.
“Two mutilated corpses in a clearing with flowers, clear blue water and tweeting birds. They really tried to roughen this place up.” Bishop remarked dryly and led the way to make their way through the opening in the rock.
Jules perked up as he shimmied between the bodies to follow. “Maybe they’re attached to them. Like those skulls your father had on the caravan. We called them Eggory, Deadory, and Headory, remember? No? Maybe it was just me and the other kids…”
When they entered they were met with a stream and an earthy path. All was a natural faded brown cave that had hints of blue from the water and the natural light. Deeper down was lit by fire and Bishop’s face became focused and taut as he considered what was going to happen.
“Blood.” Jules mumbled as they crept along and indicated Bishop’s sleeve.
“…What?” He whispered back with vacant eyes as his train of thought was entirely derailed.
“I think you brushed a body going in. Ah no, leave it! The red suits you already!”
Bishop’s eyelids dropped and his jaw clenched. He was about to say something in return about spilling Jules’s own blood when they realised they were at the fire, and no one was there. The fire had a spit over it, recently disturbed bedrolls swarmed around the heat and food scattered around.
Jules grabbed an apple and began to crunch on it, much to his brother’s disdain.
“What? It’s better than the soggy meat!” He protested and pointed to an opening with the apple. Now that they had turned a corner, the way to the main cavern was revealed and they both fell silent with how impressed they were. A stream turned into a waterfall, spilling into a flooded cavern that was too deep and to tall for them to measure. The main floor of it was a round segment of earth and rock formed around a huge central pillar that stretched from ceiling to floor. Two pathways connected it to other parts of the caves. One that was curtained by more waterfalls and the one leading to the entrance Bishop and Jules stood in. A wooden archway framed the way to it and Bishop beckoned him over to it as quietly as before.
They were doing well until they tried to shimmy past the hanging bone traps. The pointy bits of fifteen different weapons were aimed at their faces.
“This here is my kingdom, Nord. Why are you in it?” Said the ringleader. He was a lanky young man with ginger hair who was sneering and showing his cracked, stained teeth. The bandits around him all went along with what he said but to Bishop he was obviously nothing above third in command and revelling in the opportunity to show off some power.
“Alright little princess, calm it.” Bishop remarked and was glad to see that the other bandits smirked right along with him. “The witch in the cabin sent us here, said she worked with you.”
The bandits became tense and glanced to the ginger for the next move.
He glowered and tensed his sword arm even more so the tip of the haggard blade was hovering right in front of Bishop’s nose.”What did she tell you to say to us when you entered?”
The only sound coming from the cavern now was the waterfall. Everyone was basing their moves on what he said next. The anticipation was electrifying the air. More bandits were coming over to see what the fuss was about. One of them drew Bishop’s gaze in particular. He wore a worn black cloak slightly too long for him with the ends in tatters and a chunk missing where his left foot was. He turned around and their mysterious figure turned out to be a blonde Imperial with countless self-inflicted scars all over his face, predominantly on the right side. Their mutual surprise was brief as Mark looked at Bishop and Jules with a burning hatred. Instead of inflicting fear, it rose in the Nord like a challenge and he snapped his attention back to the ginger bandit.
The question was still in the air and Jules was preparing himself to run as there was no way Bishop could get the right passcode.
He just shrugged. “Nothing.”
The glib remark triggered them all to sigh and lower their weapons. It was right. “Oh alright then. Bloody ‘ell, if she sends us anymore waifs we’ll collapse in on ourselves.” Muttered the ginger who stepped back to let them through.
Bishop didn’t move. “What did you just call us?”
“Bishop… just let him take us to the bedrolls.” Jules pleaded. There was no teasing or humour in his voice anymore. He was about to drop dead on his feet and they both knew it. They were tired, damp, and uncomfortable. He had every reason to give in for Jules’s sake but then an all too familiar face barged in.
“He called you waifs, waif.” Mark sneered right into his face. “I was here before you. Now you’re going to toddle off to the waif quarters and never let me hear of you again.”
For their identity to be revealed was the last thing he wanted, and the last thing Bishop wanted. It would upset the hierarchy Mark was aiming for and taint the brothers with a reputation they wanted to shake off, but the alternative enraged him. Mark would make sure they stayed in the quarters of new recruits, which were always the worst parts of a hide-out cramped with milk-drinking degenerates that the brothers had ten times more experience than combined. With a weakness already, Jules would perish in such a poorly cramped pit full of damp, body odour, infection and grime.
“No.” Bishop shot back in Mark’s face and turned to the ginger bandit. “Tell your chief that a Thrice-Banished wants to speak with him.”
All of the bandits in earshot stopped in their tracks at the mention of the name. Some gasps echoed all around the cavern. Jules closed his eyes, his face was full of resignation at having to take up the same life they’d tried to escape. It killed Bishop to see his brother’s disappointment but he steeled himself with the thought that it was for his own good.
“You’re fucking kidding me!” The ginger bandit grinned. “If you’re lying, it’s your funeral. If you’re not… I’M the one who let you in, remember. Don’t forget that if he asks.” He strode along the earthen bridge to lead them to the centre and then to the other passage in the cavern. All along the way they were stared at as their name passed among the bandits faster than they could move.
Bishop ran forward and tried to stop him halfway. “My brother’s ill. Can’t you take him to our quarters first?”
The bandit ignored him and smirked. “After you’ve proved who you are, Thrice-Banished. Isn’t that what you wanted?”
There was nothing left that Bishop could do and he fell into step with a grimace on his face. He didn’t dare look back at Jules. The guilt he was stabbing himself with was enough without seeing the defeat in his brother’s almond eyes.
Through waterfalls they were taken and up ramps that circled around to the next level of the caves. In the middle of these there was an opening to an enticingly well-lit storage room with food aplenty. The warden was a chiselled Orc and instead of writing down the latest hauls into the stockroom’s books, he was lazing back in his chair fondling a giggling and heavily pregnant girl in his lap. The Orc’s appreciative rumbles and the girl’s squeals combined loudly enough to rouse the man passed out on the small table nearest to the passers by, ale still in hand. He got up with rage at the sounds of infidelity and stormed over, hitting the girl before tackling all of them into a crate of sweetrolls where the argument continued.
Bishop’s face contorted at the sickeningly familiar sight and he roughly pushed Jules onwards before his attention was caught by it.
Their guide rolled his eyes and kept walking. When they came to the balcony that overlooked the cistern he turned right and navigated them through a tight passage leading upwards again. The room they came out into was filled with collapsed rocks and across the end of it was a wide wood-and-rope bridge that led to yet another higher tier of the caves. Before Bishop could impatiently ask how many more rooms there were going to be, their ginger guide eagerly dived into a hole in the masonry that made up the right wall. It had been knocked in and on the other side was a bar and dining area that looked like they’d walked straight into a military fort. Despite the many seats and drinks there was only one man there. He was ducking behind the bar for some particular ale as he was approached.
“Sam! New blood for you.” Said the bandit and slapped his hands on the bar with a grin.
Sam was a Nord who appeared to be shrewd in every sense but the physical. Long blond hair streaked with much silver fell just above his collarbone, his muscles were broad but his eyes fleeted around like a cornered wolf judging everything in sight and his prominent nose sniffed out any value to be found like a bloodhound. He only glanced at Bishop and Jules once before dismissing them.
“Throw them in the fucking pit already will you, Orfi? We don’t need to interview them.”
Orfi practically quivered with excitement. “Nah wait til you hear this. The big one says they’re Thrice-Banished.”
Sam stopped in his tracks and burst out laughing. “Hah! That’s a new one, I’ll give ’em that.” He walked over to where they awkwardly stood near the opening and leered at Bishop. “So which one are you? Jack?”
He glowered in return, giving no quarter for doubt. “Bishop.”
“Is that one of the bastards? How many there are always get confused in the stories. Rumour has it Torban’s wench actually birthed a cat…”
“I’m the second son.” Bishop strained. All of his effort was being spent on not punching Sam for the obvious looks he was giving Jules.
“Ahhh I understand. I’m a sixth son myself, they never give a shit after the first, do they?” Sam walked around with his chosen bottle lackadaisically and gave up the suspension of belief. “So how do I know that you are who you say you are? We all know the story, anyone could waltz up to me and demand a bigger share because they were a long lost offshoot of Torban’s cock.”
The insult flew over Bishop’s head as to him it was a simple fact. Instead he leant back coolly and crossed his arms. “A witch sent us here, she knew my father and she called herself your grandmother. Don’t dance around me, chief. We both know you wouldn’t be talking to me if you didn’t believe her.”
Sam nodded and dipped the tip of his bottle at him. “True. In fact I knew Jack, I offered him a place here but the tight-ass thought he was better than us. You look like him.”
“So I look like a corpse? I’m flattered.” Bishop drawled flatly.
“Sorry to hear it.” Said Sam with as much sincerity as if they spoke of a dead cony. “What happened to the bugger?”
“Our father killed him. So I killed our father.”
Sam had just perched on a barstool when he almost laughed himself off it with a brash bark. “Hah! You certainly live up to your tales, that’s for sure. Alright I can’t deny it, having someone who can best Torban in my camp is a sight better than any of these snowbacks.”
Bishop felt something wither within him as the deal was sealed but his eyes flashed. Not all his conditions were met. “And my brother? He needs shelter.”
Sam shrugged and got up to leave as soon as he closed his mouth. “Send him up to the tower with the rest of the weak, he can-“
Bishop stormed up to him with gritted teeth. “I said he needs shelter. WHERE I can see him.”
They were both panting in each other’s face with steeled eyes rising up to the challenge like territorial bears. Until Orfi cleared his throat intrusively and directed their attention to the collapsed body behind them.
No second for thought was spared as instinct made Bishop sprint over and raise Jules onto his lap so he could check his breathing. When his brother’s shaky respiration brushed his face he let out his own sigh of relief and checked his head for fever. He snapped his hand away immediately.
So absorbed was he that he didn’t notice the two bandits easing up behind him.
“What’s he got?” Sam murmured tentatively.
Bishop had to blink and remember where he was before he could answer. “I don’t know. But it’s not contagious, or we’d both be rotting in a ditch by now.”
“Fine. Orfi, take him up the stairs. We’ve got a few beds all on the stone of whatever this place was. Right next to the pits and the kitchens. Entertainment and food. You happy?” Sam grumbled as Orfi hoisted Jules into his arms and petered towards the other side of the open rooms where the walls gave way to a large stone staircase, ten men wide.
The older brother nodded once in silence. All control was out of his hands but he couldn’t resist as it was what he’d wanted.
Sam watched him inwardly struggle with himself and stuck out the tip of his tongue as he bit it thoughtfully. “Good, now I want to show you something.”
He jogged up the stairs without looking back to check if Bishop followed. He didn’t need to, it was the way his investment had been taken. Orfi was trying to catch his breath and almost collapsing on one of the beds as well when they made their way past him. Jules had been laid on the bed closest to the left wall of the large alcove at the top of the stairs. There was a cave-in with cobwebs and damp mushrooms aplenty nearby but there was some questionable salvaged furniture, candles and warm furs. Bishop couldn’t find an immediate complaint so was forced to walk past Jules’s sleeping face of discomfort in silence.
“You’re going to get someone to look at him, right?” He said to Sam after they’d crossed a bridge into the next set of rooms.
“Sure, you can look at him yourself when you bring me back some coin.” Sam snorted and darted ahead now that their destination was in sight. At the end of the cave structure he stopped and crouched slightly, holding his hand out and moving it in a big sweeping motion to indicate the large cavern before them. “Look at these pits and tell me what you see.”
Bishop’s first instinct was to sniff in repulse. The cavern’s open space was filled with bodies of bandits and beasts that had not yet been cleared out. That space was blocked off by unclimbable wooden walls and could be entered only through a cage where the door was controlled from above. Nearer to Sam and Bishop was an entire enclosure of cages. Old and uneaten meat lay in some of them while others had less refined bodily flesh that he didn’t look long at. Next to them was a narrow path jutting out from the cave wall with seats for spectators, and on the platform at the bottom of the slope to their right was a table and chests filled with gambling winnings, weapons and instruments to keep the animals in line. Chains seemed to be the most common, and they were rusted with something far more red than water.
“I see a damn lot of blood. Free blood. Do you ever go in there yourself or do you just pick the next wild animal that looks at you?” Bishop snarled.
“Pfft! You’ve been out in the woods too long.” Sam scoffed but looked at him with pity. He looked back at his pits and it turned to pride. “I see profit. Betting is what people want to do and I let them. All without delving into some cave for the jarl begging for my throat to be torn out. It’s why we are what we are, Bishop. Or has the Thrice-Banished forgotten what he is?” He grinned in anticipation but rather than rise to the challenge, Bishop growled.
“If I wanted to be a butcher I’d have gone to the markets. I’m not here to play games with your gambling, I’m here to support my brother and that’s it.”
Sam sighed and shook his head. The idealism was lost once more and he was forced to return to a more aggressive tone. “I don’t give a shit. You think what you want. Call me Sam, call me Sammy. I don’t care. You gave me your name. You didn’t have to but you did, all for a higher pay grade. If you want your precious little half breed to be safe in here eating my food, you let me put you to use. Are we clear?”
Bishop’s fingers shook inside of his fists but on the outside he smiled. Thinly. “Clear, Sammy.”
Sam laughed under his breath, but this time it wasn’t genuine. “Lucky for you, I’m out of beasts for the pits. There’s a new camp set up in the west that’s scaring off all our game. If you run you’ll make the party going to pay them a little visit.”
With that he was dismissed to his new routine. Though he barely had to turn a corner before he got slammed against a wall. A small cascade of water crashed through endlessly to a hole in the floor next to them so any struggles or discussion was drowned by it. Bishop’s assaulter was in front of it so he couldn’t see him clearly.
“I was here first.” The bandit spat. Bishop couldn’t tell if the specks hitting his face was the waterfall or spittle. “You knew and you still told him your name, you little bitch. You know… I can make you squeal, just like your precious Legion Bosmer did.”
Bishop snorted and pushed against his restraint, diving to the left so he and his assaulter were forced to move away from the water and into clear sight. “Looking a little worse for wear, Mark. Was it a bumpy ride from the imperial city?”
Mark pressed him into the wall even harder as he gave him a hideous and chilling laugh. “They threw me into the Imperial Prisons after you rode off into the sunset. Rotted in that pit for months. You liked that hole in my cloak? Got it trying to escape the grating of the sewer pipes. Took a chunk out of my leg too. You ever had a skeever nibble at your feet while you crawl for your life?” His clipped and naturally refined Imperial voice had a hysterical peak to it.
Bishop rolled his eyes and looked around at the ceiling as his head grated against the cave wall. Mark’s arm pressed relentlessly across his neck but it occurred to him that that was the only part of his body that had been restrained.
“Hell if I need to listen to this.” Bishop snarled and gave him a right hook so hard that it split open the scar Mark had given himself at the events of Weye.
Mark staggered to the floor and his hand flew to the sheet of warm blood flowing from his cheek. Bishop had stalked to the start of the bridge by the time he’d straightened and cast aside all concern for his face. “Hey! You will listen. Or your brother dies in his sleep while you’re out wherever you’re running off to.”
He halted before he could lift a foot to start crossing the wooden planks tied together by rope. Bishop turned around as slowly and reserved as he was able. Hatred and resentment shook in every increment of his movements.
Now that all of the attention had returned to him, Mark smiled easily.”So Sam’s given you better quarters than the rest of us, maybe a new title. So what? You don’t profit from this, Bishop, not one coin. You send everything you get to me.”
Bishop laughed and took on a tone of an adult tired of a child’s rant. “And why would I do that?”
Mark’s smile was all-too wide as he clarified. “Because these thickskulls are too thick to remember you’re famous because the jarls of Skyrim want you dead for more than they’ll make in their lives. Make this work for me or I cash in on that little bounty.”
Bishop’s dagger was out faster than the brief moments it took for him to close the gap between them. “Or I kill you, right now.”
His response was to tut and rock back on his heels. “If you had it in you to kill me, you’d have done it in Weye.”
Bishop had frozen as every counter he could think of was stopped by the culmination of them being harmful to Jules. Mark looked disparagingly at his outheld dagger and walked past the speechless young man with a smug shake of his head.
Although he could not throw them, he stared daggers at the Imperial bandit’s back. He stormed past him in the kitchens without one look and only just managed to catch up with the bandit raid Sam had sent him on. Every killing blow he landed on their rivals was fueled by his imagination of Mark meeting his end in every way possible.
There was a small underpass in the fighting pits where a stream ran from to continue the small waterfall that fell through the ground above it. It was a claustrophobic space but near the top end of it was a chest that had been forgotten about and had nothing in it. By the time Jules regained consciousness it had become the weekly dumping ground for everything that Bishop earned on the raids and when the gang’s spoils were divided. At the start of this he tried to fool Mark by only putting in half of what he got. He put it all in when he found three arrows embedded into the wooden post above his sleeping brother’s head the next morning.
They’d been at Lost Knife for three weeks when the witch who sent them there showed up. No one knew if she was actually anyone’s grandmother but they all called her that and she was too intimidating for anyone to question her on it. Jules became her pet project and there was rarely a time where Bishop was between raids and she wasn’t dominating Jules’s bedside, filling him with her latest remedies and concoctions. She began sending the bandits out to scavenge for uncommon ingredients as all of her attempts to cure the boy failed. But, being thugs in general, they usually returned with torn and crumpled samples of the most common weeds and she resorted to searching for them herself.
It was during one of these outings of hers that Bishop found he had the chance to speak to his brother alone since they first arrived. On one of his better days, Jules had made it up to the highest tier of the cavern where a natural platform jutted out and combined with wooden scaffolding to make it the best lookout of all the cavern’s entrances. A wide river trickled over the rocks through the entrance to the lookout and fell to form the cavern’s tallest waterfall, but they were so high above the crash where it met the pool of the cistern that the sound was only calming.
With his legs crossed and pulled to his chest, Jules was sat in a bedroll that was half-cast aside as he tried to appear like he didn’t need it. Bishop was sat on the one to his left, closest to the waterfall, and a firepit was between them. Neither brother had said a thing since they were left alone.
“So you have a thing for heights now?” Bishop remarked bluntly, breaking the silence in the only way he knew how.
“You scared of them?” Jules teased right back.
He grinned and ducked his head at that. “More scared of you hiccupping over the edge.”
“There’s water at the bottom.” Jules drawled condescendingly. “Kinda deep too.”
“Oh I know that, but the last time you touched water you attempted drowning.” Bishop snorted. Jules shuffled awkwardly at the reminder of his last moment of weakness and Bishop tried a kind smile when he realised he may have gone too far. “Your voice… it’s getting weird now. It’s good, it’s a man’s voice but…” He broke off laughing breathily in disbelief. “Never thought I’d have to keep looking at you to check you didn’t get replaced with a woodsman.”
“Ha. Ha.” Jules rolled his eyes as expected but did a little shuffle of pride too. “It must have settled while I was unconscious. How long was I out?”
“Three weeks.” Bishop informed him casually and began fumbling around in the shadows for any ale bottles the bandits usually left behind.
“Damn… I guess we’ve got some savings to start from now though, right?”
He stopped searching for a bottle. “Yeah…”
They sat in still silence and watched the continuous run of the three other waterfalls in the cavern, neither wanting to move away or knowing what to speak about next.
“Is it true, what they keep saying about mother and your father being banished?” Jules asked in an outburst like he’d been keeping it in from the start.
Bishop propped his arms on his raised knees and frowned at his dangling hands with a nod. “Me, Jack and Aces too.”
“You mean we haven’t been to the cities for a reason other than you being an antisocial git?” Jules tried to cover his burning curiosity with the jibe but it was a poor attempt as he scrutinised Bishop’s every move with wide eyes.
Shame burned into Bishop’s expression. Being revelled for their family’s wrongdoings was one thing, recounting it was another. “I don’t want to talk about it.” He grumbled.
A group of three bandits had accumulated at the wooden platform built over the top of the waterfall, just before it fell. The most vocal of them had been listening in from where he leant on the flimsy plank railing.
“Aww come on Bishop! You can’t leave it like that!” He cajoled and bore a grin at Jules, he was missing a few teeth. “Want to hear how we know it, kid?”
Jules raised an eyebrow and settled into a cocky sitting position with one knee raised and his forearm lazily propped on it. “Start talking and I might be interested enough to not push you off the edge for calling me kid.”
“A challenge then?” The bandit chuckled. “You’re on. They say it all started off in Riverwood-“
“No, it was in the city. Solitude!” Burst in his female friend whose hide bodice was far too low and loosely tied to be discreet. Her breasts were unrestrained and hung behind the stiff hide, the edges only just covering her nipples.
Bishop had moved to stand against the cave wall and skulk in the shadows like he didn’t care but he couldn’t resist leaning forwards to cast his eyes on the side-view he had of her bare chest. To cover up his intentions, he scoffed at them all.
“It was Riften, you dipshits.”
The girl then winked and smiled at him coyly as she elaborately fondled with the string that was supposed to be keeping her skimpy bodice together. Bishop watched for a moment before shaking his head in disgust at how easy she was and pulled back to the wall.
“Fine.” The vocal bandit grunted and returned his attention to Jules. “Well, in Riften, your ma was a perfect little priestess in training about to be wed in holy matrimony to some snub-nosed noble.”
His friend shook his head and held a finger out to indicate the clever flaw he’d found in the conversation. “Priestessess can’t marry.”
“Priestessess isn’t a word.” The girl snorted.
“Will you SHUT UP! Right, well that was a comfortable and boring life headed her way when this rugged man too wild for the Thieves Guild came along. He got the stunner of a young girl into banditry, she turned out to be pretty good at it. As he was so rugged he got her to get her tits out easy enough, they started having babies, she ruined her reputation and yeah. She and Torban got married at the temple because they took it hostage, now that’s how I wanna marry.”
“Gods, Rik, you’re so romantic.” Muttered the girl and she pointedly moved closer to their dumber friend.
“What? It’s what happened!” He protested and looked at Bishop for support. Naturally, he didn’t respond and stayed staring at the cavern below them, but he didn’t deny it either.
Rik looked sideways in the awkward silence and made a mental note not to bother the Nord again. Especially as Bishop subtly made the blade of his dagger very visible all of a sudden.
“So, yeah. They got so good at being bandits that they got banished from the Rift. They went to Falkreath, wiped the place clean and the same thing happened. Whiterun just tried to kill them. But then!” Rik had made the list of achievements sound so dull but now he cackled with his eagerness. “Then they went big. They only went to the bloody capital didn’t they? And they gave it what was coming to it! I heard Torban even slept right under their noses in the Blue Palace at one point, with his babies and all. Anyway, Torban and Rina were bleeding the fat Solitude pigs too dry for them not to notice. But it wasn’t the guards who threw them out, not even the guard captain. Oh no, they couldn’t handle your parents.” Rik paused and held his hands out as if to hold back an imaginary audience. His voice then rose so loud that the entire cavern was his audience. “It was the fucking High King who had to exile them from Skyrim to be rid of them! So there you go, banished three times and made into legends. You wear that name with pride kid, they bloody earned it.”
Instead of reacting to being called “kid” a second time, Jules’s interest faltered as the memories of Torban’s abuse towards him returned and his eyes cast down. Bishop’s attention was instantly caught and his head flicked around to snarl at Rik. He finished the story very quickly after that.
“Course after that your ma laid with someone from each country in Tamriel, and Torban taught them foreign bandits a few things, but we’ve never heard much about that.”
Before Jules could say anything, Bishop took charge and emerged to cross his arms at them, feet squarely spread apart as he stood between the bandits and his brother. “And you never will. You know more about my life than I do. Congratulations. Now piss off.”
With disgruntled mutters they all walked upstream to return to the lower levels. The girl wasn’t so quick to leave, however, and she only moved when she was certain she’d caught Bishop’s eye.
“A Thrice-Banished is a rare breed nowadays, since you all keep killing each other. You’re a real catch, a conquest even…” She purred and moved slowly to stop a single step away from him and breathed huskily. “But who will be the real conquest tonight? You?” She smiled in silent scorn and looked up from beneath her eyelashes as she stepped back. “Or me?” She bit her lip and broke into a jagged-toothed grin. When she was sure she had his complete attention she paced away with much swaying of her hips. As soon as she was beyond Bishop’s line of sight he heard a faint rip and her bodice flew back through the air. It went over the waterfall and fell into the cistern along with the raucous laughter of her bandit friends as they grabbed her naked torso.
Bishop’s hackles rose at the thought of someone who had given him her attentions being so casually taken by others. He was toying with the idea of going after her when he heard Jules speak behind him.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have come here.” He mumbled with the voice of a man, the facial scruff of a man, but he was still just a boy, troubled and staring vacantly at nothing. “Torban always went on about the King Torygg thing but if so many people know who we are…”
“No. This is where… They can’t touch us here. We don’t need their name and we don’t need the cities.” Bishop stated fervently and they both avoided voicing the question of why they needed to be here in the first place. “Look, how’re you feeling?”
“Better. I’m moving around probably sooner than she wants me to but I can’t stay down there for so long. Bandits really stink, you know that? At least with the others we were out in the open.”
Bishop chortled to himself. “Nah, you don’t remember Hammerfell. I would have taken sulphur pits over the smell of the sweat.” He shuddered and was about to sit back down when they noticed the bandits congregating into a hunting party at the entrance below. “I should go with them. I’ll see you soon, alright?”
Jules grunted. “You mean when that witch is not smothering me with her sleeping potions which is, what, never?”
“Hey, at least her prodding you around is doing something. We’re making money and you’re recovering. We’ll be out of here in no time.” Bishop turned around quickly to hide his lie and started going down the rail-less path that curved down the cave wall to the entrance where he could jump down without injury. However, this left him in earshot of all of Jules’s jibes.
“You’re not going to jump off the edge? Awww come on, entertain your poorly little brother! You have a duty!” He hollered from his bedroll and smirked as Bishop got to the narrowest part of the path. “Woah watch your step there! If you fall, your perfect hair will get wet!” The shouting reduced him to a coughing fit but he was thankful to see that Bishop didn’t hear it, as all he was doing in response was raising a very prominent middle finger.