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Sian's Story part 46 - Lydia and Delphine

jfraser

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Lydia was hilarious. She didn't know it, but she was. She had one of those dry senses of humor that would pop up at unexpected times. For instance, after killing a bandit who had decided to attack two armed horse-backed people, I was rifling through his belongings to see if there was anything useful or valuable. I came across a small bag of gems, so I held it out.

 

"Hold this for me, will you?" To which she responded, completely deadpan, "I am sworn to carry your burdens."  I literally rolled on the ground laughing for a solid five minutes. Okay, maybe not quite that long, but it was freaking hilarious. She didn't seem to understand why I thought it was funny, which only made it funnier. I was grateful for this second shot at Skyrim if only because it gave me the chance to know Lydia better.

 

She was a fierce and competent fighter, good with the bow and sword and...well, pretty much any weapon you handed her, she could kill with efficiency, if not grace. She lacked imagination, which suited her jobset to a T, and appeared unflappable.  It was a little annoying to have her accept everything I said at face value without even a lifted eyebrow. When you make a prediction that turns out to be 100% true, it's nice to have just a little bit of acclaim for it. She didn't seem at all impressed that I knew there would be a bandit camp right next to Ustengrav. Although it probably didn't help that I got lost on the way there after telling her I knew exactly where it was. Also, I made us walk from Tall Mast Inn, thinking it was the closest place where we could safely leave our horses when it turns out that Morthal is nearly within spitting distance of it. 

 

You know, the more I think of it, the more glad I am that she was the sort who didn't betray her emotions. 

 

My first instinct when I finally saw Delphine again was to blurt out everything - "Hey guess what Esbern is still alive in the Ratway in Riften and there is a giant wall filled with the history of dragons and it contains a clue about a shout called Dragonrend that might be able to turn the tides against Alduin as long as I don't get imprisoned in a mine for a decade but that shouldn't happen because I didn't steal a horse this time anyway how are you?" 

 

It didn't seem like a good idea upon reflection. Esbern was safe in his hidey hole for...how long? I wasn't sure, but I had a year, at least, because last time I had spent basically my entire first year as the personal slave to Oron the Imperial courier manager. Who was probably alive again, come to think of it. The thought filled me with emotions that conflicted so sharply, they took my breath away. A pang of hate and another of loss, both keen shards that ripped at my heart.

 

Anyway.

 

Delphine was at the Sleeping Giant Inn (hmm...I just now realized that name might have been a sneaky reference to herself. If so, that's a bit of hubris, don't you think?) this time, I was happy to see. And I told her so.

 

"Delphine! I'm so happy to see you." I'm very subtle.

 

She looked up and her already usual wary expression turned...warier, I guess. A flat mask, carefully devoid of expression. "You're that stranger, been poking around."

 

Shit. I glanced around the room, noticing only now the other eyes that were pretending not to watch us.

 

"Yes. I...um...heard your name mentioned. Before. When I...um...wanted to rent a room. But Mr. Personality, there," I motioned at Orgnar (and earned a twitch of Delphine's lip as her usual discipline broke for just a sliver of a microsecond), "said you were the only one who could do that. So...you know. That's why I'm happy. To see you. Now."

 

"Is that so? Well, we do have some free rooms. Do you have a preference?"

 

"Um. I like being off of the first floor. Makes me feel safer. So I'd like the attic room, if you don't mind."

 

Her eyes narrowed a fraction and even with her guarded expression, I knew her well enough to see the puzzle piece lock in as her suspicions were confirmed. Hope colored her cheeks with the faintest tinge of rose. Or I could have just imagined all of that. The lighting in that room has never been very good.

 

"The attic, eh? Well, we don't have an attic room, but you can take the one on the left." She gestured to the door on the other side of the firepit from us. "Fifty gold a night."

 

"Fifty..." Prices had gone up since the reset. Not that it really mattered in this case - all of her money (and mine, for that matter) was about to go toward the same purpose anyway. "Um. Sure. Here you are." I counted out the coins and handed them to her, and she gave me a nod and then walked away. I exchanged glances with Lydia and then told her under my breath, "We'll be heading to Kynesgrove in about twenty minutes, then back to the Greybeards. Get whatever supplies we need." She nodded and took the sack of coins I held out, then I headed to the room.

 

The conversation with Delphine didn't go as I hoped because she just wouldn't listen to a thing I said until I had proven myself. "Fine," I said as I gave up on trying to explain that the Thalmor didn't know any more about the dragons' return than we did. "Let's just go to Kynesgrove and get this over with."

 

"Kynesgrove? Why would we go there?" Delphine looked at her map. "There haven't been many burial grounds opened yet, but there is a pattern. And if that pattern holds form even reasonably well, Kynsegrove won't be for at least another year, probably closer to two or three."

 

Well...good point. After Oron, I had had the months at the forge, come to think of it, and the time with that asshole Jordy, and then I had gone to fucking Markarth and who knew how long I had ended up in that place, and then...

 

No wonder the dragons had won last time. Jesus.

 

'Um. Right. Sorry, I only got a glance at this thing. Where are we headed?"

 

Delphine tapped a spot on the map far to the northwest, beyond Solitude and the Thalmor embassy and...well, pretty much every other place I had previously visited. "It started up here, and has gradually made its way south and east. This one, " tap, tap, "was the latest, which means we need to get here," she set a finger at a spot just a little northwest of where I estimated Dragon Bridge lay (it was not a very detailed map).

 

I nodded. "Great. Let's get going."

 

Other than the location, the rest went the way I remembered - we got there during a heavy snowfall, Alduin noticed me and chided me for my arrogance in calling myself Dovah (which, I never got a chance to tell him, I had never actually done), then raised a dragon and left. Then the three of us killed the newly risen dragon. Unfortunately, I never got around to mentioning to either of them the effect the dragon soul would have on me, so they both got to watch me writhe and moan on the ground as the fire and wind of the dragon's soul hit me.

 

When I could finally see straight again, I sat up and grinned sheepishly at the two of them. Even Lydia was gaping. "Um. Sorry. I forgot to warn you about that. When...when it happens, it feels...er...it hits me like..."

 

"It's not important," Delphine quickly interjected as she regained her usual composure. "I'm sorry I doubted you. I know you have questions for me. Ask away - nothing held back."

 

"Actually," I answered as Lydia helped me to my feet, "I don't really have any. I know who you are, who the Blades are - or were - and I know what needs to be done. Well, what needs to be done next. We never got to..."

 

"Ah. The time travel. As you called it. It...this is hard to believe. Your story. It seems...impossible."

 

"Well. To most of the world, the idea of dragons coming back to life after however many millennia seems equally preposterous."

 

"That is...an excellent point. So how are the Thalmor doing it?"

 

"They're not. The Thalmor are just as much in the dark about the dragons as we are."

 

"But...surely..."

 

"I know, but it's true. I went to the Thalmor embassy and...procured some evidence." No need to go into details on this one. I could still feel the cold metal cleaving through my neck. Or that might have been my imagination.

 

"Well. Did anything come of it?"

 

"Yes, and that is why I'm debating whether to make that trip again. Much as I would dislike to. They have dossiers on a bunch of people. You, for instance. And one on Ulfric."

 

"Really? I would love to get my hands on those. They..."

 

"And..."

 

She stopped, but I bit my tongue. Was it too soon to mention Esbern? I knew he would be safe for at least two years. When did he go to the Ratway, anyway? It was entirely possible he wasn't even there yet. I hadn't asked him about what he had done before...

 

"And?" Delphine looked at me expectantly.

 

"Um. And there was a prisoner there. I helped him escape. But that won't be for another two years, so..."

 

"I see. Well, interesting as the dossiers sound, it doesn't seem worth the risk to try to infiltrate the place."

 

"I...agree."

 

"What was our next step? I admit that I'm floundering in the dark here. It is not a feeling to which I am accustomed, but I had no way to plan for...all of this."

 

"I..." Again, I hesitated. I could tell her about the old temple, but I had been in a bit of a daze last time and wasn't sure if I could find it again. Plus, we would need Esbern to read the wall. It all came down to him. I chose a half-truth. "We...well, you dug up information on a place called...Sky Haven Temple? I think it was called. A place where the Dragonborns and Blades of old lived. We were trying to find its location."

 

"Sky Haven Temple, is it? Do you have any other information? Where I found out about it or...no? Very well. I'll work on my contacts and start digging through the archives in Whiterun. Maybe even travel to Winterhold. They have an extensive library. In the meantime..."

 

"In the meantime, I'm going to end this war."

 

"You're...what?" I started to explain, but she forestalled me. "I see, yes. That is a good idea. I'll keep in touch through my contacts. Do you know which side you will join?"

 

"Um. The Imperials." I winced a little because she winced a little. "I know, I'm sorry. But I made a promise. If it helps any, the Thalmor dossier on Ulfric said he was compromised by the Thalmor during the last war and is an inactive agent for them. So..."

 

A long pause, then. "Now I am more interested in obtaining those files. No," she held up a hand as I began to speak. "You are right - it is not worth risking your life. I'll work on my contacts to try to find another way to get them. Good luck with the Imperials - you will need it."

 

"Thank you. Good luck on your research."

 

As Delphine mounted her horse and began to canter away, I glanced at Lydia. "Ready to fight for truth, justice, and the Imperial way?"

 

Lydia blinked. "I don't think it is a good idea for me to join, my Thane."

 

"What? Why..."

 

"It's the military. Once we join, they can order us to do whatever they want us to do. Including separating us, which cannot happen."

 

"Well, yes, but..."

 

"So I will remain in the inn in Solitude. You join, then, when you go out to do your duties, I'll ride with you."

 

So much for her lack of imagination. "That's...a good idea. But what if they just have me guarding the walls or...or digging latrines?"

 

"Then I will guard you as you do those things. But, truly, my Thane, if you wish for this war to end soon, you will need to make certain that your talents aren't wasted on latrine digging. Tell them you are Dragonborn, show them what you can do. The Legion has its fair share of Nords - they will know what that means."

 

"I...okay." Really, I should have learned long since not to underestimate people. "That's a good idea. Shall we?" I gestured toward the horses, then we mounted and rode for Solitude.

 

Don't feed the bastards. Feed yourself instead.

 

 

 

 

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Also, I made us walk from Nighthaven Inn

It also probably didn't help that there is no Nighthaven Inn in Skyrim. :P

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5 hours ago, Content Consumer said:

It also probably didn't help that there is no Nighthaven Inn in Skyrim. :P

so there's not. is there a nightgate or something? i dunno. tall mast is the one i was thinking of. i think it's from a mod, but i'm not sure which one.

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Ah, it's the one in Moonglade. Haven't been there in years. I was thinking of Nightgate, even though that's on the other side of the map from Tall Mast.

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I've never seen that mod. I googled a bit and found out that either Tall Mast is a replacement for the Braidwood Inn in Kynesgrove, or part of the Helgen Reborn mod. What mod is that?

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it isn't in kynesgrove, it's all the way up north between dragon bridge and morthal. i do have helgen reborn, so it must be that. no idea what helgen reborn would need with an inn that's three hundred game miles away from helgen.

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