///A Ranger's Revenge
A Ranger's Revenge 2017-09-12T22:23:37+00:00

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  • ravenspiritdancer
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    Post count: 7
    #25505 |

    Hi, all.  It has been a very long time since I have written anything, and this is my first attempt at any fan fiction.  It will be added in installments, as many of the stories here are.  I hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think

    This first episode is pretty mild, however it will be getting pretty explicit and violent later, so consider this the obligatory warning.

    A Ranger’s Revenge

    The sun was just beginning to descend behind the trees when The Dragonborn, Raven Spiritdancer, and her travelling companion, Bishop, rode through the gates of Falkreath. An eerie hush fell over the townsfolk scattered along the dusty road leading through the village as they dismounted her dapple-grey mare, Misty. The steed was a gift from the farmer, Severio Pelagia, whose farmstead, on the outskirts of Whiterun, she had saved from a rampaging giant. People were continuously gifting things to her, sometimes as payment for services rendered, and sometimes just for the hell of it. They always seemed to know that there was something special about her, something heroic and glorious, even if they didn’t know who, or what, she was. Few ever realized that The Dragonborn, the subject of myths, prophecies and Bardic tales, stood in their midst, but the people were still drawn to her.

    It amazed Bishop still, this affect she had on those around her, even though he had observed it several times in the past five days. He had even felt it himself that fateful day, in the small hamlet of Riverwood. Had it really been less than a week since this exquisite creature floated into his life? Aye, it had, but in some ways, it felt to the battle-hardened ranger like an eternity had passed since he first gazed upon this legend-come-true.

    He had just arrived back into town via the North road leading from Whiterun, when he spied her running as if her life depended on it from the opposite direction, the direction of Helgen. She was accompanied by a tall, blond, Nord dressed in the armor of the Stormcloaks. Her chest heaved in what could have been fear, exertion, or maybe both. She looked so pale, so delicate and fragile, that he almost felt as if she needed his protection. Her fiery-red, waist-length hair, plastered to her milky white face, shone in the sun like the ruby in the circlet worn by Lady Elisif, Jarl of Solitude. Even from his vantage point, he knew, without ever having seen, that she had eyes the color of the green, verdant hills that surrounded Nilheim Tower, his childhood home.

    Bishop climbed the steps up to The Sleeping Giant Inn, in order to get a better look at her. From the commotion coming from that end of Riverwood, he knew something serious was going on.

    “I saw a dragon!” an old woman screeched at her son.

    “Now, mother, you know dragons don’t exist. Bards only sing of them as a dramatic device. I should know; I’m a bard.”

    As the young man said those words, the beautiful maiden stopped and spoke to him in a voice too low for Bishop to hear, but from the way the crone acted, he could only assume that she had confirmed what the bard’s mother had seen.

    “See, I told you I saw a dragon!” the old woman said with vindication.

    “Maybe you aren’t crazy after all,” her son replied

    With that, the alluring lady followed her friend behind the lumber mill, located on the bank of the river, just across from where Bishop stood. A short moment later they both emerged from behind the building into the side yard of the mill. The young man began gesturing wildly as he spoke to a slightly older couple, who, Bishop assumed, owned the mill. He wondered what kind of tale the soldier was telling them. For once in his life, Bishop’s interest was piqued, especially if the tale involved the angelic creature who arrived with him. If it were true, if they really had encountered a dragon, it was no wonder that they were running into Riverwood as if a host of Daedra were chasing them.

    Less than five minutes later, the two newcomers, followed by the two Riverwood residents strode towards the main road.

    “I can’t thank you enough, Raven. If you hadn’t been there, I don’t think I would have made it out of Helgen alive,” the young Nord spoke.

    “Aye,” the female mill owner agreed. “We will always be in your debt for bringing my brother home to us. If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to ask. Our door will always be open to you.”

    “Thank you Gerdur. And I could say the same to you, Ralof. You helped me escape just as much as I helped you. Don’t worry, either of you. I will be off to Whiterun, and I will speak with Jarl Balgruuf about sending some troops here. I am sure he would not want his hold to go unprotected. As Talos is my witness, I won’t let that dragon destroy this place, like it did Helgen,” Raven spoke softly, but with conviction.

    Bishop was astounded by what he had just heard. SHE helped that strong, muscular man escape? How had he so misjudged her? How could this delicate flower be strong enough to not only face a dragon, but help others escape the ruination the beast wreaked on the hopeless town? It wasn’t as if she were a tiny waif of a girl. Oh no, her curves were more ample and luscious than any tavern wench it had been his dubious pleasure to bed. In his 30 summers of existence, he had never seen a woman who filled out her hide armor quite the way she did. No, it was more the quiet, almost shy way in which she spoke, in which she walked, her eyes cast on the ground in front of her that gave her the air of helplessness.

    He shook his head in disbelief as she strode the few feet to the inn.

    “Hey, baby,” one of the drunken louts who loitered in front of the inn cat-called to her “you wanna lip wrestle with me later tonight? I know you do!”

    Stopping in her tracks, she gave the fool a sideways glance, her face reddening. Whether it was from anger or embarrassment, Bishop couldn’t tell. What he did know, though, was that she didn’t deserve that sort of treatment.

    He was just unsheathing his dagger to intervene, when the idiot plopped his hand down on the woman’s shoulder to prevent her from turning away from him. For the first time since she had left Ralof and Gerdur, she raised her eyes, to look straight at the man who had a hold of her. For a split second, their eyes met, then quicker than a black adder, she struck. She grabbed the pinkie of the hand on her shoulder with her right, then used the edge of her left hand as a wedge against the tendon just above his elbow. She twisted his hand away from her, as she pushed his arm in the same direction. Her forward right foot moved back, giving her the leverage to push the sot to the ground.

    “Touch me again, and I will snap your neck,” she growled over his screams of protest. She then rose to her feet and continued her trek up the stairs, once again the demur girl Bishop had observed only seconds before.

    This all took place in the span of time it took the ranger to make two short steps toward the fray.

    “Holy fuck!” he exclaimed under his breath as he watched her ascend in front of him. It was only then that he noticed the Imperial long bow and quiver peeking over her shoulder.

    Good Gods, he thought, if she could fell an enemy with that bow as expertly as she had with her bare hands, she was a fearsome warrior indeed! He was sure about one thing; he never wanted to be on the wrong end of her arrow.

    “Excuse me, please, sir,” she murmured to him, almost bashfully. Her eyes, indeed the color of a grassy knoll after a Spring shower, gazed at him a moment before going back to contemplate the toes of her hide boots.

    He turned his head to see he was standing right in front of the doorway.

    He moved to his right, then leaned his shoulders casually against the wall next to the door, trying to appear nonchalant.

    “I just have to say, Ladyship, that was the most impressive thing I have seen in a long time,” he said, gesturing towards the humiliated man who was just then getting to his feet. “Where did you ever learn a move like that?”

    “My adoptive father,” Raven replied, a coy smile playing across her full, pink lips. “He taught me all I know about hand-to-hand combat, as well as how to shoot a bow. He was a fierce and proficient warrior.”

    “Was?” Bishop asked.

    Raven nodded

    “He was killed two years ago by a group of Thalmor travelling from Cyrodiil to Solitude. They struck him down in the road like a dog, just because he refused to move aside as they passed.”

    “That……that’s unforgiveable!”

    “Aye,” Raven whispered, tears springing to her eyes.

    “Shit, I’m sorry, princess. I didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories for you.”

    “No, no, no, it’s okay. I just miss him so much. It wasn’t so bad until two days ago because I carried the bow and quiver he had made for me for my sixteenth birthday, so it felt like I carried a piece of him with me. But night before last, as I was crossing the border back into Skyrim from my trip to Cyrodiil, I was arrested by a troop of Imperial Legionnaires, had my weapons confiscated, my hands bound and then was dumped into a wagon with a bunch of Stormcloak soldiers. Well it wasn’t exactly all soldiers. Jarl Ulfric himself was in that same wagon.”

    “They accused me of being a spy for the rebels. Nothing I said would convince them otherwise.
    I suppose I deserved it. I went to Cyrodiil in the first place to track down and kill the Thalmor who murdered my father. “

    Raven shrugged

    “I managed to take out two of them, before I decided it was time to come home. Bad timing on my part, I guess.”

    “Anyway,” she continued, “those of us captured were sent to Helgen to meet the Imperial Headsman’s axe. In fact, I had been on my knees with my neck on the block awaiting the fall of the blade when the dragon attacked.”

    “Wait…wait, wait, wait, “Bishop exclaimed, “you mean to tell me that not only did you come face-to-face with a real live dragon, but you were captured by the Imperials,”

    Raven nodded.

    “And you were on your way to being executed,”

    She nodded again.

    “actually, came a hair’s breadth from having your head parted from your shoulders, and just as the axe was raised, a dragon attacked, destroyed the town, and saved your life?”

    “I suppose you could put it that way.”

    “Good Gods, woman!”

    The ranger stared at her for a moment.

    “Had it been anyone else telling me that story, under any other circumstances, I would have called bullshit. But you, you I believe, especially since that Ralof fellow seemed to corroborate your tale. At any rate, you can color me impressed by the way you handled that hammered jackass.”

    “Yeah, that. Well, I am sorry it came down to that. It’s just that I…well I, “she couldn’t continue.

    “Those pieces of chaurus dung deserved whatever you could have dished out to them. I’ve stood here for two days now, and they have harassed every woman who passed by.”

    “You’ve stood there holding up that wall for the past two days?”

    “Well, yeah, I realize it isn’t as lucrative a job as being chopping block fodder, but someone has to do it,” he chuckled.

    “Actually, I am here trying to find any leads on a group of bandits who run a wolf fighting ring around these parts. My wolf, Karnwyr, went missing a few days ago while we were hunting near Rorikstead. I tracked them to the main road leading east of Whiterun, but they much have put him in a wagon and carted him off. And there were too many other wagon tracks going that way to properly track the right one.”

    “I came down here to see if anyone had heard anything about the group I was tracking, and it’s a good thing, too,” Bishop stated.

    “I overheard a couple of gamblers in the tavern discussing the fights and I managed to get the location of the bandits’ lair, with a little bit of persuasion.”

    Bishop cracked his knuckles, indicating that the persuasion came from the fury of his two fists.

    “Anyway, I was just getting ready to start off to find the pecker heads who stole Karnwyr when you came running into town. I don’t suppose you would be willing to go with me to take care of these spider dicks? I mean, if they are running a gambling ring, I suppose there are more than just a couple of them involved, and I have to say, I like the idea of having the woman who faced down a dragon and survived by my side, while I mete out some ranger justice.”

    The man flexed his biceps, stretching the black dyed suede of his jerkin.

    “I cannot abide anyone who kills indiscriminately like that,” she answered softly. “Even if you hadn’t asked, I would have followed.”

    “Great! Let’s go! My name is Bishop, by the way. I suppose since we will be travelling together, we ought to be formally introduced to each other.”

    “Raven Spiritdancer,” she replied.

    “Spiritdancer? What kind of last name is that? It sounds almost like a name carried by one of the Forsworn.”

    “That’s because it is.”

    Bishop stopped in his tracks, surprised again by another of this woman’s revelations.

    “I would have thought you were a Nord by your looks.”

    “I am,” she said, “full blooded Nord.”

    “Then how in bloody Oblivion, Ladyship, did a Nord come to carry a Forsworn surname?”

    “That is a long story, ranger,” she sighed, “one which must be told a different day.”

     

     

    Milah Blackthorn
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Awesome beginning to a story! Can’t wait to read more! XD

    ravenspiritdancer
    Participant
    Post count: 7

    Here is episode two

    (Warning: the story is fixin’ to get a bit more explicit that the first installment, not by much but some.)

     

    The two of them travelled the wilds southeast of Whiterun at a pace that would put a greyhound to shame. No matter the terrain, Raven kept an even stride with the experienced ranger. He never thought she would be able to match his stamina, but she did, and sometimes even outdistanced him. And she did so without complaint. As a matter of fact, she spoke very seldom while they were on the road. And anytime he tried to speak to her, she would just smile and nod, eyes always lowered.

    If he didn’t know better, Bishop would have thought she couldn’t stand the sight of him, and that flustered him. He couldn’t say that he was the most handsome man in Skyrim, but, surely, he wasn’t a troll, either. He had had plenty of women find him attractive. He just couldn’t figure this woman out

    He skimmed the horizon only to find that she had already crested the next rise. Damn it! He hated when she did that! How was he supposed to keep her safe if she constantly ran off like that? As if on cue an enormous brown bear charged out of the brush and was on top of her before she even had a chance to unsheathe her bow.

    “Fuuuck!” Bishop screamed as he pulled his weapon from his back, notched an arrow and let it fly while moving as fast as he dared. Arrow after arrow he loosed on the massive beast until finally it gave one last grunt and fell to the ground, still. He sped towards her but stopped short as he found her, face down, arms over her head, and covered in blood.

    “Oh Gods, no,” he moaned as he fell to his knees beside her. Gently, he rolled her over into his arms.

    Blessedly, she mewed lightly as he moved her. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked up at him, pain filling her emerald orbs.

    “Hold on just a moment, sweetness. I will be right back.” He got up, pulled the backpack from his shoulders, rummaged around inside and pulled out one of his spare tunics. He rushed to a nearby creek, soaked the fabric, then ran back to her side. Tenderly he cleaned the scratches and cuts that streaked her fair skin, then, turning back to his pack, he pulled a healing tonic from its depths.

    “Here, princess, drink this,” he whispered as he held her up and brought the vial to her lips. She did as he told her and soon she sighed with relief.

    He continued to hold her for several minutes until she fell into a light, easy sleep. He checked her wounds, making sure that they were knitting together properly. The draught he gave her was only a minor healing potion, and the trauma she suffered had been a bit beyond its abilities to mend perfectly. No, her body’s healing properties will have to make up for the magic’s deficiencies. And that meant she needed rest.

    Bishop looked up at the darkening sky. It was just as well, as it was about time for both of them to rest for the night, anyway. He pulled his remaining tunic from the backpack, rolled it up and placed it under her head. He gathered a few twigs and limbs that littered the ground near them, and soon had a small fire lit. He then laid down next to her, close enough for her to reach him, should she need anything in the middle of the night.

    “NO, no, go away, please!! Please don’t hurt me…oh Gods it hurts!”

    Bishop woke with a start to Raven’s screams. He jumped to his feet, dagger in hand, afraid she was being attacked by another animal. She tossed and turned, apparently in the throes of a horrifying nightmare.

    “Wake up! WAKE up!!!” Bishop knelt down next to her and shook her awake.

    Raven’s eyes flew open as she beat his hands away, scrambling as far from him as she could get. Wild eyes gazed at him for a moment before recognition flooded her terror-addled brain. Her breath slowed, and she finally sat up. She looked at him, eyes wet with tears.

    “Are you ok, sweetness?”

    She nodded

    “That must have been some nightmare you were having. I suppose I would have one too, if I had experienced what you have the past few days. I mean, being chased by a dragon would give anyone nightmares.”

    “I wasn’t dreaming about the dragon.”

    “Not the dragon? Then what were you encountering in your dreams?’

    “I was… I was back in my childhood,” she stuttered.

    “Your childhood?”

    “Yeah,” she murmured.

    She looked at his face, staring at him intently. After a moment, she sighed heavily and spoke again.

    “I came from a small town southwest of Riften, called Hrothgarsfjord. Mum was a waitress in the tavern there. I didn’t know much about my dad. Mum always said he was one of the thieves of the guild in Riften, but I wouldn’t know. I never met him. It wasn’t a bad way to grow up, at least during my younger years. When I was nine, mum contracted Ataxia. She was too stubborn to see a healer, and after a couple of months, she died. Mum’s brother was the only other relative I had, and the tavern owners sent word for him to come get me and take care of me.”

    She looked down at her hands as she continued

    “He took care of me alright. He took me to Riften, down into the Ratways and sold me to a slave trader.”

    “Holy Talos!” Bishop choked.

    “I ended up with a Dunmer mage. Evil bastard! Most of the time he kept me in cage, naked, a collar around my neck. Now and then, I was called to his bed. He said I made a good belly warmer, whenever he was in need. His appetites were harsh and unnatural, to say the least. I was never allowed to speak, unless he spoke to me first, and I was never to look at him directly either. If I did, I was beaten.”

    So that explains why she never looks at anyone, Bishop thought.

    “When I travelled with the mage, he gave me a shift to wear, at least. He passed me off as his adopted daughter. Didn’t want anyone to know the nasty kind of prick he really was, I suppose.”

    “I reckon I was with him for, maybe, four years, when he got sloppy one night on our way through The Reach to Markarth. He got drunk, had his way with me, then fell asleep without securing me to his bed. I found a dagger, slit his throat and snuck out of the tent. The next day I stumbled into a Forsworn camp.”

    “Dagdar, the chief, was a kind and gentle man. A year prior, his wife, pregnant with their first child, was captured and thrown into Cidhna Mine. She never came back. A different man would have forced me into marriage, but not Dagdar. Instead I became the daughter he never had. My years in his camp were the best of my life.”

    As Raven shared her background, Bishop filled with anger and disgust. He couldn’t imagine living through the things she had. He thought his childhood was bad, and it was, but this was much worse. And now he understood things about her that baffled him before.

    “I don’t even know what to say right now,” he told her.

    “There is nothing to say, sir. What is past, is past.” She looked down at her fingers, curling and uncurling them.

    The ranger moved to her side, and lifted her chin with his forefinger so that she was looking at him. He knew that it could be dangerous to touch her without permission, but he chanced it anyway.

    “Look at me,” he bade her. “First of all, we will dispense with all this ‘sir’ business. My name is Bishop and I want you to call me that. And second of all, as long as I am here no one will ever touch you again unless you want them to. I won’t ever let anything happen to you, and on that, you can depend. Now come on, sweetness, let’s try and go back to sleep.”

    The ranger watched his companion until her breathing slowed. For the first time in his life, fear gripped him. Was he really going to be able to keep the promise he just made to her? He never doubted his prowess in the wilds. When it came to archery, none could best him. He could track prey tirelessly for days at a time. And right there was the crux of the problem. He spent his life as a predator, and now, he had the responsibility of protecting her from men like himself. He didn’t know if he would be up for the challenge, but he did know one thing; he was even more determined to keep her safe or he would die trying. She deserved that, at the very least.

    The next morning, Bishop was awakened by the most hauntingly beautiful sound he had ever heard. It was a song, almost a keening of sorts, full of sorrow and mourning. The voice was human, of that he was certain, but the language, if there was one, was unknown to him.

    He rolled over and tossed his hand towards where his companion slept, intending to wake her, so she, too, could experience the angelic melody. When his hand encountered only empty space, he shot up off the ground. Grabbing his dagger, he surveyed his surroundings in a panic.

    When he was finally able to focus, he saw Raven. She was kneeling beside the bear carcass, skinning the great beast. She wielded her knife expertly, and soon she would have a gorgeously intact bear pelt to sell the next time she encountered a merchant. That skin would fetch a pretty septim, too.

    I couldn’t have don’t it any better, myself, he thought.

    It was then that he realized the song that had awakened him issued from her lips. He stood, nailed to the spot watching her dagger flash in the sunlight, mesmerized not only by her work, but her melody as well. She wasn’t only singing over the bear, she was singing TO it.

    When, at last, she made the final cut, detaching skin from body, she flung her hands high and wide, head raised to the sky, and uttered one last phrase. She, then, lowered her head and placed her hands over her heart. Quietly she sat there, motionless for several moments.

    “What are you doing, Ladyship?” Bishop broke the silence.

    “I was skinning the bear you killed last night,” she said softly

    “I can see that,” he replied.

    “It would be a great travesty for such a beautiful creature to have died for no good reason.”

    “No good reason?” Bishop shouted, “That thing nearly killed you!”

    “Aye,” she agreed as she spread out the pelt, fur side down, and began scraping the remaining flesh and fat from the skin layer.

    “Then how could you say it was for no good reason?”

    “My people believe that every living thing is sacred; not just humans, but animals too. We do not kill on a whim, only when necessary for food and clothing, or to protect ourselves. When we do kill, we mourn the loss of a brother or sister. If an animal is killed for whatever reason, we give it honor, then use every bit of it we can; hide for clothing, meat to sustain us, bone for tools, teeth and claws for decoration.”

    “The song you heard me sing was my death song. Each one of my people has his or her own, unique to that person. We use it to show respect to that which we kill and to give thanks for its sacrifice. The very last time one’s death song is heard is when the singer closes his or her eyes and takes a last breath.”

    “I have never heard of any Nord doing that before.”

    “You forget, ranger, I may be of Nord blood, but my heart and soul belong to the Forsworn. They are my people, my family.”

    “But the Forsworn are nothing more than a bunch of savages,” Bishop railed.

    For the second time ever, he saw anger dance across her features. She glared up at him.

    “Those ‘savages’, as you call them, have been more kind, more caring, more loving to me than any Nord. Imperial, Thalmor, Nord, it makes no difference; they all kill for sport. With animals, they take the heads to put on their walls, and leave the rest to rot. They kill each other, too, sometimes for the same reason, for sport, but mostly because someone else looks, thinks or acts differently than they do. So, tell me, ranger, who is the true savage?”

    Raven turned back to her work and said no more.

    Bishop watched her for a moment, dagger still in hand, then flopped to his knees next to her and began to help her. They worked in a silence that became more and more comfortable as the minutes past. Soon they had the hide processed as much as they could with what they had on hand. To finish, it would need to be stretched on a tanning rack, but what they had done was enough to keep the hide from spoiling until then.

    When Bishop stood up, Raven rolled the fur up into a long bundle and began tying it underneath the backpack she bought from Lucan at Riverwood Trader before they left town.

    “Would you like me to carry that for you, princess?”

    “Thank you, Sir, but I think I can handle carrying a bear pelt for a while,” she replied, looking up at him with a small smile.

    “Hey, hey, hey, now! What did we agree upon about that ‘sir’ stuff?” Bishop asked with a chuckle.

    “I’m sorry……Bishop.”

    Raven crawled over to the bear carcass and cut off a few of the choicest pieces of meat, and coated them in salt. She wrapped them in small sections of deer hide, then placed them in a fur bag, the inside of which was coated with a thin layer of rendered bear fat. The fat layer prevented the juices from the meat from bleeding through the bag. She shoved the pouch into her backpack, stood up and slung the pack over her shoulders. Looking down at the remainder of the bear, she sighed regretfully.

    “Seems such a shame that we can’t take what is left,” she said. “That would feed us for months.”

    Shrugging resignedly, she turned to the ranger.

    “What do you plan to do with the pelt once it is properly tanned?” he queried.

    “You’ll see,” she answered enigmatically.

    “Ready to go?” Bishop asked, slightly miffed at her non-answer.

    Raven nodded and took off jogging in the direction of the bandits’ lair, not even looking to see if her companion followed or not.

    “Shit!” Bishop swore and took off after her.

    Shortly before noon, the pair crept up to a setting of boulders outside of Cragslane Cavern, the reported location of the fighting events. If the cages lining the road to the cave entrance was any indication, Bishop would say that his sources were correct; this was, indeed the group of bandits he has been seeking.

    Outside the cave, well within bow range, two men stood guard.

    “You take the one of the left and I will take the one on the right,” the ranger whispered as he unslung his bow.

    The woman next to him nodded and followed suit. She notched one of her arrows, steadied her bow, pulled the string to her ear, inhaled once and let it loose. The projectile flew straight and true, and her target crumpled to the ground with a grunt.

    “Who’s there,” the other guard yelled a split second before Bishop’s arrow found him and he, too, slumped backwards.

    The couple ran the short distance to their enemies’ corpses to see if they had any valuables.

    “Damn, princess,” Bishop exclaimed as he saw Raven’s arrow sticking out right between the bandit’s eyes. “That was one hell of a shot, there.”

    I don’t even think I could have made that shot at that distance, he admired in his head.

    The woman smiled broadly, pleased with the compliment, then winked at him.

    That was the first truly amiable expression she had made toward him since they met. Maybe she was starting to warm up to him. Maybe, just maybe, she was beginning to trust him a little. Who knew what would happen if she could learn to fully trust him, could become fully open to him. Maybe they could become friends; maybe they could become even more.

    Inside the cave the two quickly dispatched another guard. There, next to him, in a cage, sat a large, tawny-colored plains wolf. Karnwyr, upon seeing his Master, whined and cried for release. Bishop searched the bandit at his feet, found the key to the cage, and quickly opened the door. The canine leapt at Bishop, knocked the ranger to his ass, and began licking the man’s face with joy.

    “Easy, easy now, fella, easy.” Bishop laughed between kisses.

    It was impossible for him to relay how relieved he was to have his dearest friend back by his side. He gave the wolf a gentle pat on the side, then scrambled to his feet.

    He looked over at Raven. She was standing by the other side of the cage, her arms folded across her chest, a look of mirth spreading over her face.

    “This, I take it, is Karnwyr,” she giggled.

    “Yep, this is him,” chuckled the hunter.

    Raven looked at the magnificent animal and bent to one knee. Slowly she pushed out her hand toward the wolf who stood stock still, head lowered warily.
    “Careful, sweetness. Be reminded, Karnwyr is not a pet. I am not sure how he will react, especially given the circumstances.”

    She ignored the warning and moved her hand closer to the beast. Karnwyr stretched his muzzle toward her hand and gave it an experimental sniff. And with that he closed the distance between them, not to attack, but to give her face, too, a couple of licks.

    “Well, I’ll be damned! Karnwyr likes you!” Bishop said, amazed.

    “It appears so,” she confirmed.

    Bishop watched in awe as his wolf pressed himself up against the redhead. She crooned softly to the canine as she gently stroked his soft fur. The fact that this animal accepted her so quickly, so fully, spoke volumes toward her character. He was beginning to realize just how unique and special this woman was, a fact that he knew emotionally from the moment they met, but was just now coming to terms with intellectually.

    “Okay, boy, what say you and I play a game, for old time’s sake? How about I shoot the bandits in the knees, and you rip their faces off?”

    Karnwyr looked at his Master, wagged his tail and barked his assent, as if he
    actually, understood what the man had said. The pair took off down the tunnel, which came out into a humongous cavern, followed closely by Raven. To the right of the stairs, leading down to the floor of the chamber was a bar. A bartender stood behind the wooden counter, and a few patrons lounged on stools along the front.

    In the center of the room was a large fighting pit with more cages ringing it. In the middle of the pit stood a man known as The Butcher, chief of the group. Bishop counted five more people, three of The Butcher’s henchmen and two more gamblers. While the odds were beyond his capacity to handle, he was still glad he had Raven with him. Between the two of them they would swiftly bring these people the punishment they richly deserved.

    Within minutes, those in the cavern were dealt with, the exception being the wolves pacing the cages around the ring.

    “So, princess, what do we do with these guys?” Bishop asked.

    Raven sighed heavily.

    “That is a good question. If we leave them in the cages, they will starve. That is a fate I wouldn’t wish on any creature. If we let them out, a few might escape and go back into the wild where they belong, but I fear most of them will turn on us and we will be forced to kill them. They didn’t choose to be here, Bishop, and my heart breaks for each and every one of them. I fear the safest thing to do is to put them down where they are. I don’t like it, but I like all of our other choices even less.”

    “You go back to the cave entrance, sweetness. I will take care of this,” Bishop offered.

    Raven opened her mouth to protest, but then closed it before uttering a word. She looked deep into his amber eyes, gratitude appearing in her own. She held his gaze for what seemed to him like forever, then she nodded and turned away to walk up the stairs and exit the chamber. Karnwyr followed close on her heels.

    Bishop watched her climb the steps. His stomach did a flip as he thought of the way in which she looked at him.

    Dear Gods, how can this woman affect me so, he wondered.

    In all of his dealings with the women he came in contact with, not once had he even come close to losing his heart to any of them. From a young age, he had built a wall between him and the world and he was happy inside it’s confines. But tiny cracks were starting to form in those edifices. Cracks hell, these were Gods damned fissures. It scared and exhilarated him at the same time. Maybe the time had come to open himself up to the possibility that there was more to life than rambling across Skyrim alone. With that he turned to the task at hand.

    After the deed was done, Bishop left the caves to find the woman sitting on a fallen log near the cage furthest from the entrance. Her back was to him, and her head was bowed. Even from there he could see her shoulders shaking. He ran to her, skidded to a halt then dropped to his knees in front of her. He pulled her into his arms, sat her on his lap and laid her head on his shoulder.

    She is too tenderhearted for this world, he thought, wanting to curse the Gods for kicking this angel from Aetherius to live in this cruel dimension. It boggled his mind how she could fell her enemies with such fury, then turn around and weep about it afterwards. He could not imagine the storm of emotions that overtook her at times. The only way he could rationalize the discrepancies between her deeds and her emotions was that she did what had to be done, but regretted the necessity of it.

    When she had cried herself out, she lifted her head and laughed softly at herself.

    “Gods, Bishop, what you must think of me,” she whispered. “You must think me touched by Sheogorath himself.”

    “Nonsense,” he assured her. “I think you are sweet and kind-hearted. Look, princess, the majority of people I have ever met couldn’t give two shits about anyone but themselves.”

    Bishop snorted bitterly
    “Myself included. You’re different. You truly care about what happens to people; you go out of your way to help them. I will never understand why, because, in my not-so-humble opinion, people don’t deserve the care you heap on them. Again, myself included. But there you are, offering a helping hand in their most desperate hour. You are just what this world needs. Maybe if there were more people like you, the world wouldn’t NEED people like you. You understand what I am saying?”

    Raven nodded, then climbed out of Bishop’s lap and stood up. Bishop released a heavy sigh. He wasn’t ready to relinquish her from his arms quite yet.

    “So where to now, princess,” he asked as he got to his feet.

    “I must make my way to Whiterun. I made Ralof and Gerdur the promise that I would bring the news of Helgen’s destruction to the Jarl there. I have to convince him to send some troops there to protect the people.”

    She looked at Bishop, and he thought he could see twinge of pain pass over her face.

    “Listen, Bishop, I don’t know how I can ever thank you for saving my life from that bear yesterday. I won’t ever forget you.” She stood up on the tips of her toes and placed a kiss on his cheek before turning and began to dart away.

    “Raven, wait!” he bellowed and grabbed at her arm, but missed.

    Like a gazelle, she raced, heading west towards Whiterun.

    “Fuck me!” he cursed, and dashed off after. For some strange reason, he got the feeling that, from here on out, he would spend the rest of his life chasing after that beautiful child of the wilderness.

    ravenspiritdancer
    Participant
    Post count: 7

    Shall I continue?  Not even sure if anyone is reading these anymore.

    Milah Blackthorn
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    Post count: 3

    I am enjoying this story!

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