KatieParticipantApril 11, 2019 at 9:17 amPost count: 4
Maybe a week had passed when Lyra needed to make a stop into the closest city for supplies. The closest city was Whiterun, and, frustratingly, it was much too late at night for anything to be open.
She sighed, rubbing a hand across her brow, and stared at the empty marketplace. Pretty much all of Whiterun was devoid of life this late at night, casting an oddly somber feeling on a city that was normally bustling with activity.
The deep-hidden pickpocket in her eyed the locked compartment behind one of the market stalls, but she bit back the urge. Stealing and getting caught wasn’t going to help with the fact that people were terrified and/or hated her. No, most likely it would just make it worse.
Probably best to resist, at least for now.
Behind her, she heard Bishop yawn loudly. “Princ…” Another yawn. “Think we could stop for the night? I’m—” another yawn “—dead.”
Lyra turned around and looked at him. “You look pretty damn good for a dead guy.”
He shrugged. “What can I say? I can’t help being so sexy.”
She rolled her eyes. “Are you done?”
“I’ll be done for at least eight hours if we can get a room,” he said.
Eight hours of silence? She’d give up her right wing for that. She led the way through the empty square and into Whiterun’s busy tavern, full of laughter, alcoholic belching, and the world’s most obnoxious bard’s singing.
She let Bishop do the talking, while she wandered over to the corner, studying the only non-Nord in the room. A Redguard. She was beautiful, in an exotic way. It was clear from how she held herself that she knew she didn’t belong, yet also couldn’t seem to care less. She carried herself with a quiet but obvious confidence, and it was intriguing to watch—how, despite her being an outcast, she was still leered at by the male customers and kindly talked to by Hulda, the Bannered Mare’s owner.
Which brought her back to the present. And, to the fact that the man Bishop was currently bargaining a room from was, in fact, not the actual owner of the inn. Yet he seemed to be taking over her role anyway.
Then she saw a slender, tan woman with short red hair sidle her way up to the ranger’s side.
Thus ensued the most painfully obvious bout of flirting she’d ever seen, except…except Bishop seemed to be totally immune to it. Annoyed by it, even.
Lyra hated herself a little for being so upset by it. She wouldn’t call it jealousy, not exactly—at least, not about the flirting. No, it was the poisonous kind of jealousy flowing through her that stemmed from wanting so desperately to be anything other than what she was. Something human. Even an orc, or, gods forbid, an elf. At least there were plenty of those to go around.
Even to them, she was a sideshow attraction. An insane freak of nature that by all accounts shouldn’t exist.
Watching the girl’s easy confidence sent a spike of self-directed anger, anger she’d always had towards herself, but had never known how to justify—or stop.
She jerked her gaze away from them just as Bishop turned his attention to her. She snapped to attention just long enough to hear the pseudo-innkeeper offer to show them to their room. Their tiny, crowded by vegetables room—with a single bed.
Judging by the knowing look in the man’s eyes, he clearly thought they were going to be sharing it.
If Bishop thought that, well, boy, did she have news for him.
She felt the residual body heat from her traveling companion as she followed the pseudo-innkeeper to their room and tried to ignore the fact that Bishop’s gorgeous admirer—one of hundreds, but one of the few stubbornly focused on attaining a truly unattainable man—was following along behind them.
Can you not was on the tip of her tongue, but she knew anything coming from the mouth of a girl with a tail and a pair of wings wasn’t going to mean anything. Not to mention, the girl seemed pretty damn determined to have Bishop to herself, one way or another.
She stayed back a distance, though, as Bishop trailed her into the back room.
“It’s probably time to wash the dirt off,” he said, with a suggestive raise of his eyebrow. “I’ll go wait outside, unless you need help with that…?”
She narrowed her eyes. “In your dreams, pal.”
He laughed. “Oh, you are. And one of these days, it’ll be reality.”
Lyra shook her head. “You’re unbelievable.”
“Save it for the bedroll, sweetness,” was all he said before walking away to stand guard outside the door.
Still shaking her head, she made sure he was out of sight before finally stripping out of her armor. She felt absolutely disgusting; it’d been days before meeting Bishop that she’d had a bath, and then another week since then. And the only reason neither of them disgusted the other was because they were both equally past the time they should have bathed.
Come to think of it, she was shocked the tavern girl hadn’t run away screaming in the night.
But who was she kidding? It was Bishop. He could never take a bath for as long as he lived, and he’d still have hordes of women following him around.
As she stood there, feet on the edge of the tub, she was acutely aware of how not human she was. The scales, which were already bad enough on a day she was clean, looked ten times worse when they were covered with mud and dirt.
Slowly, she stuck one toe in the tub, then gradually lowered herself in. The water was, actually, warm, and it was amazing. Though the area around Whiterun wasn’t nearly as cold as most of the other regions in Skyrim, that didn’t stop it from being too cold anyways. Hours upon hours of rain in neutral temperatures did just as much damage as clear skies in subzero-degree weather.
She could attest to that.
Using the bar of soap left on the side of the tub, she began washing the weeks’ worth of grime off of her body, and marveled when she could actually see her real skin color. It wasn’t dark brown. Who knew?
As she was beginning to dry off, she accidentally focused in on the conversation right outside the door.
But only the end of it: “…unless you want to die, I suggest you leave. Right now.”
Whatever the girl had been saying had clearly gotten on the ranger’s last nerve. And he didn’t have very many to start with, even on a good day. Thankfully, she took the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer hint and left, but not without a dramatic huff and over-pronounced sashay as she turned and walked out.
She heard Bishop’s footsteps as he approached, and she struggled to find a way to cover herself.
“Hey, are you almost—”
Their eyes met.
Lyra glanced down at herself. Was she naked? Yes, yes, she was. Very naked. And all her inhumanness was on full display.
“Out!” she shrieked, pointing to the door. “Out. Now!”
But he didn’t. Bishop didn’t move a muscle. He stood there, staring at her—staring at her openly, not even trying to be subtle about what he was looking at.
Because it sure as hell wasn’t her face.
“Bishop, you have to—” she began unsteadily, but he was gazing at her with pure, undisguised lust, cutting off whatever she’d been about to say.
Lust he had no reason to feel. She was naked, sure, but it wasn’t anything nice to look at. No, it was usually something that when others saw it, tended to run away screaming.
Seeing as he wasn’t moving, she grabbed a towel from off the divider and quickly wrapped it around herself. “Out, Bishop. I need to get dressed.”
His voice was low, rough, when he finally responded. “Do you want help with that?”
Her eyes snapped open. “Help? What, you think I’m incapable of putting my clothes back on?” When he wouldn’t stop staring at her, her patience broke. “I’m sure you’ve seen naked women before, Bishop,” she said. “This shouldn’t be all that shocking to you. Well, it might, but for my sake, try to hold back your disgust just a little bit, alright?”
This seemed to wake him up out of whatever trance he’d been in. While he was distracted, though, she’d managed to get herself back into her armor. Feeling much better, now that her non-human skin was covered for the most part, she turned back to him. “What just happened…never again. Okay? I can’t…I can’t take it when you look at me like that.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Look at you like what, exactly?”
She swallowed thickly. “Like I’m…I’m…not human. Well, I’m not, but you know what I mean—”
“You think that was disgust on my face?” he asked, disbelief clear in his voice. “You know, princess, you’re so intelligent, and then sometimes…sometimes you amaze me with how stupid you can be.”
She frowned. “Hey!”
His lips quirked. “Just calling it like I see it.” His eyes were still lingering on her, but there was less of the animal lust, and more of a focused energy…of what kind of focus, she couldn’t say. But she was sure he was going to tell her.
He stepped closer, until they were almost a breath’s width apart. “You don’t see it, do you?”
At her wit’s end, she said, “I don’t see what, Bishop?”
“How utterly beautiful you are. You really don’t. You think you’re some kind of hideous beast, when in reality…” He took a deep breath, his golden eyes churning as he looked down at her. “It’s actually kind of hilarious. And when I saw you…that wasn’t disgust on my face. Actually, I’m pretty sure you know damn well what it was, but fine, I’ll indulge you. I’ll say it. It was desire, princess. I don’t care what’s on your body, and even if I did, it wouldn’t matter, because your body is perfect. There’s not a thing about it I’d change. So don’t stand in front of me and tell me I’m disgusted by you. Because the thought on my mind as I looked at you wasn’t how hideous you think you are. No, it was how much I wanted to take you, right then and there. And if I wasn’t out of my mind with a lack of energy, I probably would have.”
The breath caught in her throat. No. No. It wasn’t supposed to go like this. He wasn’t supposed to…desire her. This was all wrong.
But if that was the case, why didn’t she move? Why didn’t she try to deflect the conversation, steer it towards a safer topic?
Because she didn’t want to. For the first time in her life, she felt what it was like to be desired, and for her, not just because of what she was, or what she represented.
To her disappointment, or maybe to her great relief, his eyes settled back to their normal amber color and he stepped back, clearing his throat. “So. Yeah. I’m tired, princess…I’m gonna go get some rest.”
“If you think we’re cuddling,” she said, recovering from her shock, “then you are very, very wrong.”
He smirked. “As delightful as that sounds, I’d never do that—unless you wanted it. And you do, even if you won’t admit it to yourself.” A dramatic sigh. “Don’t worry, I’m taking the floor. A bedroll on a marginally cleaner inn’s floor is better than nothing. You take the bed.” He jerked his thumb at the produce-cluttered room with the single bed and nodded in reassurance. “It’s fine, sweetness,” he added, when he saw the hesitation on her face. “Seriously. Believe it or not, I’m a big boy. Hard floors aren’t the worst enemy I’ve ever faced.”
“No,” she agreed quietly, “I don’t suppose they are.”
As Bishop settled down on the floor, she headed to the tiny room, with only a little guilt, and fell asleep faster than she’d expected.
The next morning was odd. Bishop was acting like nothing had happened the night before, and she couldn’t decide whether to be relieved or irritated by that. Honestly, it was a draw.
He wasn’t completely able to stop from staring at her from time to time, though anytime she caught him looking at her he quickly diverted his gaze. He wasn’t half as sneaky as he liked to think he was.
Judging by the lack of smell from both of them, he’d showered sometime in the past eight hours, which was definitely a relief. Although clearly a little lack of good hygiene hadn’t made him less attractive to her.
Go figure that.
“Ready to go, ladyship?” he asked, after she was fully armor-and-weapon-clad.
“Yeah,” she said distantly, her thoughts elsewhere.
As they left the now mostly empty tavern, she could feel the eyes of Bishop’s not-so-secret admirer boring a hole into her back.
Lyra made for the door, but wasn’t fast enough to miss the girl’s hissed, “You’re lucky to have him. Have to say, though, I just don’t get the appeal. Better give him what he wants, freak.”
She squared her shoulders back and decided the best course of action was to say nothing. It’s what she’d always done—
—But for once in her life, she wasn’t going to do that. She deserved better, she deserved respect. And whatever was between her and Bishop was their business, no one else’s.
She didn’t know where the whirlwind anger came from, nor the violence that came with it, but it was like a storm, sudden and fiercely unpredictable. Her hand was up and smacking the girl across her perfect face before she could think better of it.
“You’re right,” she said quietly, her chest rising and falling as she eyed the girl with disdain. She looked shocked that Lyra had the audacity to hit her, but it wasn’t like she hadn’t deserved it. “I am a freak,” she continued. “But I own it. I know what I am. Can you say the same about yourself?”
As the girl continued to stare at her in stunned horror, and Bishop stared at her in total bewilderment, she rolled back her shoulders and marched out the door.
Once they were near the front gates, Bishop put a hand on her arm. “What,” he asked, “the hell was that?”
Lyra blinked up at him innocently. “Me? Whatever did I do?”
He laughed. “Oh, my bad. I wasn’t aware you went around hitting people in the face. Is this a recent development?”
Her tail swished back and forth in annoyance. “She wasn’t very nice,” she said dryly. “I just thought I’d…teach her the error of her ways.”
“Oh, that’s what you were doing.” Bishop shook his head. “You never fail to amaze me, ladyship.”
“She called me a freak and suggested I give it up to you. A face smack was in order.”
Bishop’s eyes glimmered in amusement. “She did, did she? Perhaps I should thank her.”
Lyra narrowed her eyes. “Her powers of persuasion were severely lacking. Don’t get excited.”
He just laughed. “Oh, princess. I can wait. I have all the time in the world.”
And that…that was exactly what she was afraid of.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.