I was sitting in my favourite table in the Winking Skeever, enjoying late breakfast and the comings and goings of people, the happy chattering and bard’s songs. My thoughts turned to the fateful day when I first met the Dragonborn. She was traveling with that savage Bishop – oh how my blood boiled inside when I saw her with him. I tried my all to make her understand what kind of a man he truly was – to no avail.
The man in me wanted to ask for mead in order to numb my thoughts, but the paladin in me ordered me to just drink tea.
I could still feel her delicate skin touching mine, hear her laughter, see her beauty vividly… I returned to the day of the ball, imagined her in my mind. She looked so beautiful in the gown and accessories. Ever since that day I had found myself pondering over her – how many times did I want to leave Solitude and search for her? How many times did I fall asleep thinking of her?
I had lost count of such days.
The door opened and I glanced over my shoulder to see who came in.
By the divines!
It was her! The beauty that filled my thoughts. Gods, I had forgotten how she radiated light. The whole place was lit up by her presence. I was expecting to see the savage with her but for my relief – or fool’s luck – she was alone.
“Casavir!” she greeted as she stepped through the crowd towards me. “It’s been awhile.”
“My lady, this is an honor”, I said and placed a kiss upon the back of her hand. Oh, how smooth her skin was. I tasted blood and flowers on it. But still she was so… oh, gods forbid me.
“How have your travels been?” I asked and gestured her to join me. She smiled – and dear divines help me! When she smiled it was as if the whole province was being showered with rays of light of hope. As she sat down the candle light made her eyes shine brightly and I felt lost.
“I do not see your wild beast companion, my lady”, I said carefully.
“Bishop? Oh, he’s back in Riverwood or perhaps on his way to somewhere else”, she said, voice full of mockery – or perhaps sarcasm – and she sighed deeply. “I’m glad he’s gone.”
“May I ask… what happened? Did he hurt you?”
I can’t believe my question came out with anger. I wanted to get the bastard in jail and have a little “conversation” with him. Maybe cut off his head and put it on a spike. Anything for my lady…
“Oh, Bishop and I separated shortly after the ball. He started to get on my nerves. After that I have been traveling alone. Now I’m on a quest to defeat a legendary dragon. Will you help me?”
I was glad to hear she had come to her senses about Bishop. That savage would have corrupted her light. I placed my hand upon hers – briefly – and smiled.
“I would be honored to join you. I have been wanting to fight a dragon.”
“Legendary dragons are no easy game. They are the strongest dragons with powerful breath attacks. One bite and your body is torn apart. Are you sure you wish to join me?”
“My lady, it would be my utmost pleasure to join you.”
I meant every word. And I was determined to die for her any time. As long as she lived, this world would have its precious ray of hope.
“I need to go shopping. Finish your meal and join me when you want. I’ll meet you at the gates of Solitude.”
She stood up and I took my sword which was leaning against the table.
“I was done when you entered, my lady. Let me escort you”, I said while standing up and putting my sword on my back. I offered her my arm and she smiled radiantly as she wrapped hers around mine.
We exited the inn and she walked towards the market.
“May I ask, which merchant you need to see?”
“The blacksmith, fletcher and the apothecary”, she answered.
“Let me pay for you”, I started but she started to laugh.
“Casavir! I have so much gold I could buy half the province! Or at least a decent house.”
“Forgive me, I spoke too soon. I should have been more…”
Again she interrupted me. “Let’s leave formalities, my dear. We are not complete strangers.”
She was right. We weren’t strangers – she surely had visited my dreams plenty of times. And every time she did I woke up feeling the familiar longing I thought I had long forgotten. Yes, I really did wish those times I was not a paladin anymore.
“Certainly, my lady, if that is what you wish.”
“Casavir, don’t be so stiff”, she scolded gently as she hit my arm with her fist. “Just speak casually.”
“My lady, are you alright? The steel is quite…” I panicked and stopped to see her palm. If she was hurt I would heal her… only to see she was unscratched.
“Silly! I’ve faced bandits, hordes of undead and hundreds of dragons ever since I came to Skyrim! Not to mention all the wildlife that has wanted to eat my face off. Small hits like this feel like nothing! Try to face a Draugr Deathlord without some kind of resistance to shouts… if you hit a stone wall it’s the end right there.”
I had to remind of myself that she was the Dragonborn. Her blood was that of a dragon – resilient and capable of handling powerful blows. But all the while my will to protect her was growing stronger and stronger with every passing second.
We entered Angeline’s shop. I stood by the door while she was buying ingredients and potions. She also told her about her daughter. I had tried to get Captain Aldis to tell me about the lost daughter of poor Angeline but to no avail. How my heart ached as the lady told her the bad news.
Once we got out the shop, my lady Dragonborn turned to look at me.
“Are you stocked with potions? You’re going to need them.”
“I have my restoration skills, my lady”, I said.
“You’re going to need potions – both for your health and magicka, Casavir. Legendary Dragons are dangerous foes.”
“How many have you faced so far, my lady?”
“One and that was with Bishop and Karnwyr. I barely survived!”
I was glad that she did. And I hated to admit it but I owed Bishop for protecting her. Maybe the savage wasn’t as uncaring as I gave him credit for.
We walked up the ramp towards the fletcher. It was a quick restock for arrows she said she was going to need. Then the blacksmith. She bought more arrows from him and some materials to improve her armor.
I kept watch as she worked on her armor and weapons. She was a true warrior – fearless, determined. All the while more beautiful than any other woman I had met so far in my life. No one else could stir my deepest desires as she did. Try as I could to keep them buried deep underneath my being, I found myself bemused. How I longed to hold her against me, feel her warmth…
Ever since the day of the ball I had hoped I had not taken my paladin vows. So that I could be free to go along with her – love her and perhaps…
Oh, gods forbid me! I knew very well those thoughts were my worst enemies but now that I was with her I couldn’t keep them hidden anymore.
“Alright, I’m done”, she said as she put back her gauntlets. She turned to look at me. “Casavir, do you need anything? I can remake your armor.”
“Oh, my lady, I could not ask you to do such a…”
“You need all the protection you need, paladin. Let me at least improve your weapon.”
I smiled as I gave her my sword. She looked at it. “It seems fine to me. Let me see if I can make it a bit sharper.”
She worked on my blade for awhile. I let myself fall deep into my thoughts of her. A mistake for a paladin but for a man the only good thing to pass the time. Once she was done with my sword she returned it with a gentle smile.
“Hopefully it’ll be better now.”
I was surprised how skilled she was in smithing. The blade shone as if it was brand new. All the chinks were gone and the edge was sharper than it was before.
“My lady! This is… amazing work”, I praised meaning every word.
“If I could have used Skyforge to make the improvements, it would be even better, my dear.”
I looked at her only to become bemused by her radiant smile. My thoughts of her along with my desire started to escalate to new dimensions. Gods forbid me! I wanted to reach out to her, embrace her, taste her lips…
“Casavir? What’s wrong?”
I shook my head to drive away my sensual thoughts into the back of my head. I looked at her and put the sword on my back.
“I must thank you, my lady. You are most kind. My sword has been with me ever since I became a paladin. With your delicate care it’s gained a new life it so much has needed.”
My words came out polite, even though I had promised to be more casual. I got a frown from her. I apologized.
“Never mind, I guess old habits never really die. We are not strangers, Casavir, so whenever you can just talk like you would with a good friend.”
To me she was more than a good friend. My feelings for her… gods forbid me. I wish – truly wished – I was not a paladin. I wish I had not taken my vows. So instead of embracing her I took her hand into my own and placed a kiss upon the back of her palm.
“My lady, your kindness is a gift I shall always cherish.”
I heard her chuckle – and gods how my heart soared when I heard its jingle. Like bells ringing in the air, declaring peace and harmony to the world around. Bards could write songs with beautiful words, but there were not enough beautiful words to describe the Dragonborn’s laughter.
“May I ask, where is this dragon lurking”, I asked as I reluctantly released her hand.
“In the Reach, in a place called the Dragontooth Crater. It’s a quest I got from the jarl of Markarth. Seems like it’s been terrorizing the whole hold for some time.”
“I understand. We shall vanquish that beast together, my fair lady.”
And I would make sure she survived – even if it would cost me my life. I prayed a small prayer: ‘Akatosh, god of time. If I was to die, please, let me be reborn as a man and find this woman again. Let me love her, let me hold her. Then I would not be bound to my vows. Hear my prayer, god of time, let me be with her once more.’
The Reach was a place I never liked to be in. If the terrain didn’t make you slip to your doom, it was the wildlife and the bloody Forsworn that did it. Riding a horse was suicidal – turn the wrong way and you find yourself on the edge of a mountain with no room to turn around safely. Either sacrifice yourself or the horse in order to have a safe journey.
I stood by her side as we entered the lair. I saw the beast napping in front of a strange wall.
By the divines that thing was huge! I could sense its power. And as she had said: it felt dangerous.
“Casavir, this is my plan. I’ll Dragonrend it and once it’s on the ground, you tank it. I’ll shoot it with arrows and hopefully hit its wings so it won’t fly. After that I attack and you keep me alive, got it?”
I looked at her.
“My lady, I should be the one keeping its attention away from you.”
I was serious. She should just stay away till it was dead… either with me or…
“No, I can handle it as long as you heal me. I have healing potions reserved when you run out of magicka. Just keep me alive and when your magicka runs out, I’ll heal myself.”
“My lady!” I exclaimed.
I should not have raised my voice. The dragon took wing and breathed fire on us. I seized cover behind the ruin of a tower. I heard my lady use a Shout to bring the dragon down. She was fighting it alone. I drew my sword and ran towards the beast. I heard arrows flying across the distance. I kept the dragon’s attention at me, blocking and hitting.
“Casavir! Stand back!”
My lady charged in with her double swords. She would not be able to block if the dragon decided to bite her. I watched in awe as her graceful movements overpowered the dragon. Then the dragon breathed.
I threw a restoration spell at her. Thank gods she was unharmed. She continued hitting the dragon. I kept her health high till my magicka was out. Instead of staying back I charged in raising my sword to a strike.
“No Casavir! Stay there”, she shouted at me, drinking a potion while doing so.
I pierced the dragon’s scaly head and pulled the blade up. This seemed to anger the beast as it turned to look at me. It breathed fire and by Oblivion the flames burned more than I expected.
“Casavir! Stand back!”
I felt her body smash against me and I lost my balance. The next thing I saw was her climbing on the dragon’s head and hitting it with her sword till the beast fell dead on the ground, my lady jumping down gracefully next to it. She panted, holding her side as the strings of light engulfed her. The scaly monster was only a skeleton moments later.
She consumed another potion and the wound on her side healed. I stood up, running to her.
“My lady, are you alright?”
She looked at me. “Haha! That was fun! It was easier this time, too. Thank you for your aid, Casavir.”
I glanced her from head to toe, only to see she was unharmed and well. I sighed in relief. Dear gods, how my heart had jumped to my throat when she had just ran in front of that beast.
“This is rather unexpected”, I heard a voice coming from behind us. I glanced over my shoulder and saw three forsworn riding elks.
“My lady, please stay behind me!” I said as I drew my sword. “You savages! Come any closer and I will take action!”
Two of the forsworn had their bony helmets on hiding their faces, the last one in front of the two had no helmet. He had blond short hair and sharp eyes – I could tell he was the leader of the group from the aura that was eminating from him.
“Cael!” I heard my lady exclaim as she stepped in front of me. The blond forsworn revealed a wide smile that clearly was a sign of infatuation. A savage wanting the heart of my lady?! Unacceptable!
“My sparrow, it has been ages. How have your travels been?”
The blond jumped down from the back of his elk and he walked towards us. I pulled my lady towards me. “My lady”, I whispered, “please be careful.”
“Casavir, he’s my friend! And put your weapon down!”
The blond stopped small distance away from us. He looked at me with inspecting eyes. The two other forsworn had drawn their bows and the arrows pointed at me. I held my sword tighter in my hands. They would not get me or my lady!
“Casavir, lower your sword”, she pleaded tugging my arm. “Cael is my friend. Please.”
“Why are you saying that? These people are savages! They deserve nothing but a blade through their hearts – if they had one.”
I was so angry. This blond clearly had his eyes on my lady. I hated the hungry look on his face.
“You must be the knight I’ve heard about”, the blond said quietly. “Why are you in the company of my sparrow, dark knight of light? Your presence is not suitable for her.”
“Neither is yours, savage”, I answered with as much intimidation in my voice as possible.
“Casavir! Lower your weapon! Please!” the Dragonborn pleaded, still tugging my arm. “You’ll get yourself killed!”
One arrow was released and it hit the ground not far from my foot. The blond glanced at his partners. He spoke with authority. “Let’s not be too hasty, friends. We are in the company of the Dragonborn. Show her some respect, please.”
My lady glanced at the blond savage. “Cael, please tell your people to lower their weapons. Casavir will lower his. Please!”
“My lady! Certainly you understand that these people will kill–”
“No, Casavir!” she looked at me with eyes full of resolve. “Cael is my friend. He won’t do anything to us.”
The blond revealed a wide smirk. “Do as she says. My people won’t hurt you as long as you stay put, knight. I only wish to discuss with my sparrow.”
I stepped forward and swung my sword towards the blond. I was infuriated by his words. Calling my lady a sparrow?! What an insult! She was the ray of hope to this gods’ forsaken land and this savage thinks he can own her?! I wanted his head on a platter!
Three things happened once I set my sword in motion. First I heard my lady shout in dragon language.
“ZUN HAAL VIIK!”
The words echoed in the air and the forsworn archers lost their weapons and my lady attacked the blond leader while the archers looked for their weapons. She made him lose his balance and as he fell down on the ground she placed her sword against his throat.
“No one needs to die!” she declared. She looked at the blond who just smiled at her. That loving smile made my vision go red with anger.
“Cael, I will come visit you later when I’m alone. Tell your escorts to behave and I will take care of Casavir. I don’t want you to die today”, she said with intimidating voice. The archers drew their arrows and they were pointing at her. I was ready to jump in front of her to take the arrows for her.
“My sparrow, my life is still yours to take. I owe you that much”, the blond forsworn said, staring at my lady with even hungrier eyes. “But as you wish. No one needs to die here today. Not you nor him. Friends! Stand down!”
The orders made the archers lower their bows and I hesitated to lower mine. What guarantee I had? These were savages. Whatever history my lady had with these people was not mine to know as mortifying as I felt about it. This blond chieftain was head over heels for her.
“Casavir!” she glanced at me. “Lower your weapon!”
I still hesitated. But after weighing my options and putting my trust to my lady I put my sword away. It was no use to die today. Not unless it was for my fair lady.
She stepped away from the blond and offered her hand to him. She pulled him on his feet and for a moment I felt a nasty ice spike of jealousy drilling right through my chest. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into an embrace I so longed for! How dared that savage sully my lady in such a manner?!
“My sparrow, I had missed you greatly. I heard from my scouts they had seen you in the Reach. I was awaiting your visit but instead I decided to find you.”
Poetic words from someone like him. I hated that man who was holding my lady so close. The blond glanced me over her shoulder. His hands tightened around her figure.
“Aren’t you mortified, paladin? Your vows deny all of this warmth she could give you.”
With that said he placed his lips on her neck, kissing her delicate skin. I could hear her gasp with pleasure.
“Stop”, I said angrily. “Don’t touch her, you sinful savage! I should kill you!”
I stepped forward and snatched her from his embrace. I wrapped my arm around her waist and to my surprise she put her arms around me too.
“My life is hers to take, paladin. If someone else wants it, they will have my swords ripping their insides. If she wants me to die, it’s her decision. Otherwise I just become your enemy.”
I stepped forward only to be stopped by the Dragonborn. She took a step closer to the chieftain.
“Cael, will you do me a favour?” my lady asked before I could answer to his words.
“My lady, you should not waste your words to someone like him. Let us depart to Markarth.”
The forsworn leader smiled gently and every word was filled with desire. “My sparrow, if it’s in my power, I will do anything you wish.”
The chieftain really started to make my blood boil. I wanted him dead!
“Would you make sure the path to Markarth is secure?”
“My lady”, I exclaimed once her plea was left hanging in the air.
The young forsworn smiled at her and he lifted his arm to touch her cheek. Oh! The nerve! To sully her being with hands that have set many lives adrift into darkness.
“It would be my pleasure, my lovely sparrow.”
The blond turned to look at his men and uttered his orders: “Fan out, kill every beast you see, make sure every tribe knows that Wolf’s protegee is on the way. Anyone that dares to threaten the dragonborn and her companion will face my full wrath.”
The archers disappeared into the wilderness. The blond was still all over my beloved one. I watched as the two stood there, staring each other. I pulled my lady closer to me, glaring at the young chief who just smiled as if he knew.
“I will be your shadow, my sparrow. I shall await your visit.”
With that said he jumped on the back of his elk and rode away. I looked at my lady who just was smiling after the blond forsworn.
“My lady, surely you don’t believe his false words of affection?”
Was I really this jealous? I tried not to be but I just could not stand it anymore. I took a firm hold of her arm and made her turn to face me.
“He’s my friend, Casavir. There’s nothing between us. If I need protection in the Reach, I can always turn to Cael for that. He’s a chieftain, well-respected too. I can trust him.”
“But didn’t you see how he was looking at you?”
My voice was spiked with jealousy. And I could hear it all too well. My lady frowned.
“Casavir… don’t become the next Bishop!”
I couldn’t stand it anymore. I placed my hands on her waist and pulled her against me. She yelped as I had never held her this close before. Gods forbid me…
“Leave that savage wolf out of this conversation, my lady.”
I lowered my face towards hers. Just close enough to smell her scent. Oh gods… I was drugged!
“Casavir!” she squirmed.
I took a gentle hold of her chin and forced her to face my stare. Why was I so tempted? The forsworn’s words still echoed in my head. My vows definitely were my nemesis, but right now… right now… I felt them break. I felt them break as I pulled her closer to me.
“Forgive me, my lady.”
I placed my palms on her cheeks, cupping her face between them gently. I met her eyes, stared into them deeply. I loved this woman, this powerful, independent warrior. I had loved her ever since the day of the ball, no matter how much I had tried to deny such feelings. The man in me wanted her, the paladin in me wanted to protect her. Still all this time all I wanted was to be with her.
“Casavir…” she whispered softly.
“Gods forbid me, but I cannot hold it in any longer. I love you, my lady.”
Before I heard her answer which was about to come out of her mouth, I pressed my lips against hers. I was supposed to briefly touch them with mine but once they made contact I was gone with the winds of desire… Gods forbid me! My life as a paladin was over…