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Chapter Eighteen - Ustengrav




Chapter Eighteen - Ustengrav


Entry by BrotherofCats publishes on · August 10, 2020

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By late afternoon they had arrived at the circular Nordic pit that contained the entrance of Ustengrav. Four bandits and a mage were camped outside, and weren't receptive to receiving visitors. The visitors were insistent, and moments after arriving the party owned the site. With bodies dumped in the swamp they had the area to themselves. They pitched their now three tents and settled in for the night, cooking at the already prepared spit and talking around the fire.


Nora shared her bed with Eldawyn. She still wanted a man, but she wanted pleasure, and Elda was good at providing it. She woke in the early hours to hear Annekke crying out in passion. It seemed that her new Housecarl had found himself in the perfect position, the only male among a bunch of oversexed women, even if Lydia and Recorder choose not to participate.


She woke up the next morning to an argument between Annekke and Lydia.


“You're a married woman, my Lady. How can you sleep with another behind your husband's back?”


“My husband is not here, and I have my needs, Lydia,” said the exasperated ranger. “And it's my business, not yours, who I sleep with. It's not like I'm in love with the man and will leave my husband for him.”


Valdimar sat at the fire eating a bowl of porridge taken from the large pot, oblivious to the argument concerning him.


“Mara would not approve, my Lady.”


“Lydia,” said Nora, approaching the pair and trying not to sound angry. “Annekke is a grown woman, and who she decides to sleep with is up to her. You are not her mother. In fact, we are all adults, and if you don't want to engage in any liaisons, don't expect the rest of us to follow suit. Understand?”


“But, my Thane. Mara...”


“Is not my God. I don't know about the others but...”


“I follow Dibella,” said Annekke with a smile.


Lydia looked at the ranger with a disapproving expression.


“And I follow Kynareth,” said Nora, also smiling. “And since the Goddess fucked me, I don't think she has a negative opinion of sex out of wedlock.”


That got Valdimar's attention, and the man sat up and looked at Nora with wide eyes. “You fucked a Goddess. How can anyone ever satisfy you again?”


“It's tough,” said Nora, stifling a laugh. “I just have to lower my expectations with you poor mortals.”


“You are not married, my Thane. The ranger is.”


“And it's still not your business, Lydia. So you will drop your questioning of Annekke and live your own life. That's an order.”


“Yes, my Thane,” said Lydia, eyes looking down.


Nora felt bad telling the Housecarl what she could and couldn't talk about. Being the leader of the freedom loving Commonwealth she had allowed people to speak their minds, as long as it didn't involve operational security. But she could see things getting out of hand here, and if two of her people were mad as hell at each other, bad things could happen. And bad things happening could lead to dead people. Not that she thought either would attack the other, but a moment’s hesitation because of anger could kill someone just as dead.


“You understand what you are to do?” she asked Valdimar as her and the rest of the party prepared to enter Ustengrav.


“I wish I was coming with you, Thane. But I understand the importance of the horses.”


“Perhaps you can accompany me into other ruins in the future, once I've got to know you better.”


From the smile on the man's face she thought he might have taken that the wrong way. Well, let him take it any way he wanted. If he tried to force Nora or any of her girls he would live life with a higher pitched voice.


“So, how was he?” Nora whispered to Annekke was they walked down the step of the pit to the entrance. The night before she wouldn't have considered the Housecarl as a lover, but hearing the ranger crying out in passion in the morning hours was causing a change of heart. She hadn't had a man in almost two weeks. Eldawyn was good, and had introduced her to the dildos the Altmer people made. While Nora had tried out her new strap-on, made in Whiterun, with the elf, both giving and receiving. But nothing beat the real thing, as far as the Dragonborn was concerned.


“One of the best I have ever had,” said the smiling ranger, turning as she reached the bottom of the steps. “And most definitely not the worse. He isn't much to look at, at least in the face. But he was well endowed, and it scratched the itch. Why? You feeling an itch?”


Nora laughed at the turn of expression that seemed to be very popular here in Skyrim, then answered the ranger's question. “Most definitely,” said Nora with a sigh, feeling stirrings in her nether regions. “And I want some scratching.”


“Then I think he will do,” said the ranger. Her face then turned serious. “Now get your dirty little mind off those thoughts, because we are about to enter a tomb of legendary danger, and not having your mind on what's around you could get a lot of us killed, including yourself.”


Nora nodded, taking the sage advice. If she made it through the tomb she would have time enough for itching and scratching. If she didn't, nothing would really matter. So they went through the entrance at the ready, Nora's mind totally on the mission.


They found a dead bandit as soon as they entered the ruin, from his condition newly killed. Nora waved a hand down and all crouched, ready for stealth. She and Annekke led, followed by Sofia and Eldawyn, their magical support. Lydia and Recorder brought up the rear, bows strung and arrows notched and ready. They heard voices in the large room ahead before they got there, and the moaning they associated with the raised dead.


Nora gestured, pointed to Annekke and indicated that she should go to the right, before pointing to herself then left. The ranger nodded and moved. Nora was so glad she had decided to take the woman with her. She reminded her of Heather back in the Commonwealth. Ms. Casdin had been a strange one. So nerdy and educated about the wildlife of the region, yet so blood thirsty when it came to the Institute. And now she was working with them.


As she crept along the wall of the chamber, sticking to the shadows, she could distinguish three voices, a man and two women. There was a fire near the center of the room, and the shadows of the trio danced along the walls, along with two shadows that stood and didn't move. The zombies, Nora supposed. Those were not the targets. They would fall when the necromancers did.


Nora threw a stone across the room, hitting the far wall. That was not just the distraction to get the mages to look the other way, it was also the signal to fire. Sure enough, the mages got to their feet, the zombies started to move toward the sound, and two bows twanged. The mages to the left and right both took arrows to their backs, penetrating through the robes and into the vital organs within their thoracic cavities. They dropped to the ground, if not dead, then dying. Along with them fell one of the zombies.


The remaining mage turned quickly, the blue glow of a cold spell in her hand. That glow died along with the mage as a pair of arrows struck her in her breast. With a sigh she folded in on herself, the zombie falling into ash as she died.


“We make a good team,” whispered Annekke as they scouted out the rest of the room, making sure there were no hidden surprises.


That done, Nora motioned for Lydia and Recorder to come over and guard the tunnel that led further in, then went in search of loot. They gathered jewels and jewelry, as well as all the potions they could find. They left coin and books, resolving to pick those up on the way out. They pulled their arrows forth and cleaned them, knowing that they might be needed ahead.


“What do you think is ahead?” Nora asked the ranger.


“Maybe more mages, since they seemed to have cleaned out the bandits here. And definitely Draugr.”


Nora nodded. She didn't like the Draugr, but they were a fact of life here, and she had no way of avoiding them if she wanted to get what she had come for.


“Well, let's go,” she ordered, looking around at her people. “Same formation. But if we run into a bunch of Draugrs I want you up with us, fast,” she told their elf.


Eldawyn smiled, knowing that she was their artillery. Nora still fretted over Eldawyn's lack of protection, though Annekke didn't have much more with her leather armor, but the ranger knew how to move and fight, and had a shield as backup.


They moved into next tunnel, and soon heard the voices of a pair of people talking, heading toward them. Nora and Annekke set themselves, and two arrows found their marks, dropping the pair of mages.


I almost feel sorry for them, thought Nora as she pulled her arrow from the dead mage. Almost, but these were mages involved in necromancy, and so deserving of none of her pity. The rest of the corridor and a room beyond contained Draugr, all killed by magic. She would be happy if that theme continued. The sound of a still moving one ahead disabused her of that notion, and let her know where the mages had stopped.


They ran into more Draugrs further on. Most were slow in their feet and easy to take down, but one shouted flame at them, and Nora had to duck behind her shield to keep her eyes. She looked over the shield as the fire stopped, pretty sure that the Draugr had a cool down period.


“Fus Ro,” she shouted, sending that Draugr and one behind it flying into the air to strike a wall and fall to the floor. She was on them in an instant, first striking down the one with the fire breath, then the other. They found other rooms, some in secret passages that needed a switch to open. Annekke showed her how to find them, the most likely places and the signs.


She found one on her own, using Annekke's lessons, and was rewarded with a chest full of gems, some glowing with power. It was when she was picking up one of these gems, a large one that shone like the sun, that she realized she had made a mistake.


“A new hand has touched the beacon,” said a harsh female voice in her head. “Listen, hear and obey.”


What the hell, she thought, attempting to drop the gem back into the chest and finding that she could not.


“What's wrong?” asked Eldawyn, stepping over to her obviously distressed friend.


“This,” gasped Nora, holding out the gem.


A foul darkness has seeped into my temple. A darkness that you will destroy. Return my beacon to Mount Kilkreath. And I will make you the instrument of my cleansing light.”


“Some kind of voice is in my head,” said Nora in an almost panic. “It's telling me to cleanse some darkness at Mount Kilkreath.”


“Isn't that Meridia's temple?” asked Sofia.


“Yes,” said Eldawyn, looking at the gem. “Can you drop it now?”


“I think so,” said Nora, plopping the gem back into the chest. And immediately feeling it arrive in her belt pouch. “It doesn't seem to want me to let it go.”


“Mount Kilkreath? Isn't that Meridia's temple?” asked Sofia again.


“Yes,” said Eldawyn, looking over at Sofia. “It is. And that must be her beacon, the stone at the top of the temple that went missing some years ago.”


“Who is Meridia?” asked Nora, about to panic again. “And what does she want with me?”


“Meridia is a Daedric Prince,” said Eldawyn, looking like she was on the verge of panic as well.


“Shit. I don't want to get involved with them. Aren't they evil?”


“What did she say?” asked Eldawyn, her eyes now filled with curiosity.


Nora told them what the Daedric Prince had told her, her eidetic memory reproducing the verse word for word.


“Meridia,” continued Sofia, “is better than most. She actually cares for the souls of the dead. She can't stand necromancers or the undead. If she wants you to cleanse her temple and become the instrument of her cleansing light, it probably means there is a pretty sweet artifact at the end. I would do it. After all, it will get Meridia off your back, and probably help the people of Nirn in the bargain.”


“Do I have a choice?” Nora asked, hoping there was a way out of it.


“Sure,” said Eldawyn, snorting. “If you want to be tormented by the voice of an angry Daedra for the rest of your life. As Sofia said, the best thing to do is accept the quest. And get a good weapon or set of armor out of the deal.”


Nora wasn't sure about the whole deal, but she had time to think about it. And the horn of Jurgen Windcaller was waiting.

They entered another room, this one of two levels. A Draugr let out their leather lung call from the upper level and a sarcophagus burst open to reveal another. The mage heavy party made short work of them, and two now fully dead Draugr burned on the floor.


They proceeded down some curving stairs and caught sight of a huge open cavern, with trees, waterfalls and brooks. They went down, then over, until they reached a long corridor. Nora was about to step forward when Annekke halted her with her arm.


“See those spouts on the floor?”


Nora looked and spotted what the woman was talking about. There were holes in some of the stones, and what looked like pressure plates. Annekke picked up a heavy two-handed sword and tossed it onto one of the plates, and flame immediately erupted from the right hand spouts, while the left stayed dormant.


“Those would burn you to a crisp in a second,” said the ranger, pointing to the ones over on the left. “Those no longer work. At least I hope they don't.” With that Annekke stepped forward and to the left, and Nora strangled a cry as she realized what her friend was doing. “It's safe, but follow in my footsteps.”


The party traversed the corridor of fire without mishap, and soon they were looking over a feasting hall patrolled by several Draugr. Fireballs took care of them and the party forged on. After going through a veritable maze of rooms and corridors they came out in a huge cavern, the one they had seen before. There were steps to the north and several skeletons sitting in thrones. Nora was sure they would come to life it they went up those steps.


A bow twanged and recorder cried out, and arrow piercing her hand. Nora quickly pulled her shield off her back and sheltered behind it while she moved to the observer's side and examined the hand. Recorder had pulled the arrow through and was staring at a badly bleeding hand. Nora called up a healing spell in her right hand and closed the wound, all the while fending off arrows with her shield.


“Motherfucker,” shouted Eldawyn, sending a ball of fire at the skeleton and blasting it apart. And attracting the attention of more archers, who started pelting her with arrows. The elf went down with one through her left shoulder, then Sofia took one through her armor and into the stomach.


I've had enough of this, thought Nora, pulling her sword and Whirlwind Sprinting down the incline, right into one of the archers which fell immediately to her sword. She turned and batted an arrow away, then shouted Unrelenting Force at another archer, watching in satisfaction as it flew into pieces. Looking around and spotting no more archers, she ran up the incline to see to the injured.


Sofia was lying on ground groaning, blood soaking the shirt she wore under her armor. Eldawyn was taking care of the wound, pouring in the golden magic of healing, and the puncture had almost closed.


We need better armor, thought Nora, wishing she had worn her nanoarmor down here, despite its wear.


Nora looked over at Eldawyn, an arrow still sticking from her shoulder, and started sending healing magic into it. She pulled out the arrow as she continued to heal, and Eldawyn turned a grateful smile her way.


“Thanks. I stabilized it, but our friend here needed more immediate attention.”


“Thank you,” said Sofia, taking a deep breath and sighing as the pain was gone.


They explored the cavern, and Nora heard the musical sounds that denoted a word wall. After they went up some steps and around several paths they found it, near the river that flowed from a large Falls. Nora approached and the word burned into her mind, unlocked by a dragon soul. The word was Feim, and her mind told her that it would allow her to become ethereal, immune to damage, but conversely unable to inflict any. Still, she could see the uses of becoming invulnerable for some seconds.


Finally they reached the final locked gate. She walked toward it, by a lit pillar, and the first of three gates rose. She reached the second pillar and the second gate lifted, while at the same time the first slammed shut. By the third pillar and the last gate opened while the second shut. It seemed like no one could get through all gates, but she remembered that the Greybeards had taught her Whirlwind Sprint, and seemingly just for this reason.


She lined herself up and shouted the word, Wuld, sprinting faster than the eye could follow and through the three temporarily open gates. Once one the other side she pulled the chain that locked the gates open and let her friends in. Nora was normally very courageous, but she wasn't sure if she would have continued through this place without her friends, so she was more than happy that she could let them follow her.


More tunnels, more rooms, and something that threatened to have several of the party run screaming into the night, spiders. Huge spiders, the famous, venomous Frostbite Spiders of that made their homes in so many tombs. Nora didn't like spiders, but having fought Deathclaws and feral ghouls, as well as the giant ants and cave crickets around Nuka World, the spiders didn't tug at any particular triggers. And they died easy enough to arrow, blade and fire. The truly giant one that came down from the ceiling in one chamber was harder than most, but her, Eldawyn and Sofia roasted it before it got its feet on the ground.


One truly horrific room was covered in floor stones with the holes of fire spouts in them. Nora wasn't sure how they were going to get around, until Annekke taught her another lesson about traps, pointing out the pressure plates that were in good shape, as well as those that weren't. They walked careful over the floor, avoiding all the pressure plates but traversing the areas that had damaged triggers and made it safely across.


Finally they entered the chamber of Windcaller's tomb, and four large statues emerged from the water as they entered. Nora moved cautiously ahead, looking for traps, but it was clear. And there, on a raised dais, was a sarcophagus, a large horn held in a stone hand atop it. Nora looked for traps but found none, and then triumphantly raised the horn from the hand, tensely waiting for something to happen. But nothing did, and the quest ended in an anticlimactic manner that she would wish for in the future, when so many ended in mighty enemies trying to stop her.


They found another path that led back to the entrance to the tomb, bypassing the majority of the rooms they had traversed. Upon exiting the ruins Nora called up the time in her implant, surprised to see that almost the entire day had passed. It was still light when they reached the outside, and all of the women wanted a bath, especially Sofia and Eldawyn, who had their own blood on their bodies.


“You found the horn,” said a smiling Valdimar.


“Yes,” said Nora, pulling the glowing stone from her belt pouch. “And another quest.”


*     *     *


That night they stayed in the camp outside the ruins. Nora had said that it was because she didn't think it wise to ride off through the marsh at night. Actually she had something else in mind. The itch was still there, and she thought it well past time to scratch. The other women had gone to their tents, leaving her alone in hers.


“Valdimar,” she called from the tent. “Please come here.”


Nora had stripped from her clothes and waited for the Housecarl to enter her tent in anticipation. The man crawled through the opening, then stopped with wide eyes.


“You have a task for me, my Thane?” he asked, a slight smile on his face.


“Yes, Valdimar. I want you to fuck me.”


“As you command, my Thane,” he said, pulling off his shirt and starting to crawl onto the furs.


“No,” said Nora, putting a hand on his shoulder to stop him, almost laughing at the confusion on his face. “If you want to. I am not ordering you to do this. That would be wrong. But if you want to.” She let her voice trail off at that last, barely speaking.


“Any man would love to bed you, my Thane,” said the Housecarl, stopping to pull off his trousers and boots.


“Not Thane,” said Nora reaching over and taking his hand, pulling him to her. “While we are in bed together you are to call me Nora.”


“Is that proper?”


“I am not a proper woman, Valdimar. I am a horny slut who hasn't been fucked in weeks. And tonight I want to make up for that.”


The man nodded and reached down to gently feel Nora's sex. He let out a gasp as he felt how wet she was, and then started to gently move two of his fingers in and out. “You are so tight. I'm afraid I might hurt you.”


She had seen his penis, and while it was large, it was definitely not the biggest she had ever taken. “I want you inside me, now,” she said, reaching over and stroking his cock.


The man moaned and moved himself into position, the head of his penis at her entrance. He pushed the tip in, then stopped, his breath exhaled. “You are so tight.”


“Push it into me, slowly. Let me adjust.”


The man did as told, pushing in an inch, then waiting several moments before pushing in more. Nora gasped as he penetrated her, smiling up at him to let the man know it was okay. Finally he was all the way in and Nora felt the flush of excitement at being filled, completely.


“Now fuck me, Valdimar. Let me feel your manhood taking me.”


Valdimar did as she wanted, pulling almost all the way out before pushing back in, slowly, tenderly. He was obviously taking his time, not wanting to hurt her, but Nora had other ideas.


“Fuck me, Valdimar,” she cried out, grabbing him with both hands on his buttocks and pulling him in with surprising strength. “Fuck me hard.”


The man did as he was told, thrusting in hard and pulling out fast, over and over. Nora loved the pleasure he was giving her, and she could feel the first tinglings of an orgasm.


“You are so tight. So wet.”


“That's a good combination, right?” gasped a breathless Nora.


“It is,” he gasped. “The best.”


Nora was almost at an orgasm when she felt the man's cock swell, then shoot his seed in her. “Shit,” she said in disappointment, her itch not scratched.


“I'm sorry, Nora,” said Valdimar regretfully. “You were just too tight. But give me a minute and I will be ready again.”


“So fast?” she asked, not sure if he would be able to match actions to words.


“The elf had me drink a potion earlier on,” he said with a laugh. “I think she wanted you to be serviced well.”


As he said, he was hard again in less than a minute, and he slid his cock into her well lubricated pussy and started moving. This time he kept at it until Nora was screaming in passion, her orgasm causing her body to thrash on the bed under her lover. She thought he would cum soon after that, but he kept thrusting, varying his motions, grinding his groin into her clitoris, driving her into another orgasm, better than the last. She decided that he was actually a very competent lover. Not as good as Mikael, but better than most she had had. She was through another orgasm before he finished inside her. Only it wasn't a finish, and after another minute his cock hardened inside her and he was at it again. More orgasms for her, then one more for him, and he pulled out, letting a flood of semen flow from her cunt.


“By the Gods, but you worked me over well,” she said, reaching a hand over to play on the hair on his chest while he lay beside her. “Now I need to sleep.”


“Do you want me to leave?” he asked, looking down on her.


“No. Please stay.”

He nodded and enfolded her in his strong arms. Soon both were snoring away, and Nora had a sleep that was filled with dreams of pleasure, and not of death. While she realized that this wasn't a man she would ever be able to fall in love with, he was definitely pleasurable company for the road.


Nora woke just before sunrise, her internal clock waking her. The man was still snoring beside her, and she reached over and started playing with his cock. When it was almost hard she moved over to take him in her mouth. She enjoyed sucking cock. She also enjoyed the taste of his seed and her juices on it, and inhaled the member until it was lodged in the back of her throat. Valdimar woke and stroked her hair. She stopped and looked up at him, then moved to straddle him.


“Sorry,” she whispered, “but I'm selfish this morning.” She sank down on the cock, letting herself adjust again. She let it stretch her for a moment then started moving. Slowly at first, enjoying the feel of being filled then empty, and letting him enjoy the way her vaginal walls gripped him. He groaned and she sped up the motion, until she was bouncing on him like a madwoman, riding a pair of orgasms before he came in her again. She let him stay there for some minutes before she lifted off, feeling more seed dripping out of her pussy. She rolled over on her back and he reached over to put a hand on a breast.


“Thank you,” she said, reaching up and wiping the sweat from her face.


“Thank you, Nora. That was an amazing experience. The best I have ever had. And anytime you need me to perform again, just ask.”


Nora dressed and crawled from the tent, to see that her party was already sitting around the fire and having breakfast. The smell of bacon and eggs hit her, and she could feel her stomach grumbling.


“Is there any more?” she asked, walking to the fire. She was sore all over, but satisfied, and her face broke out in an involuntary smile that she couldn't get rid of.


“Scratched the itch?” asked Annekke, holding out a plate full of food.


“Well and truly,” she said. “I feel wonderful.”


“Well, you kept the rest of us up half the night,” said Sofia in an angry tone that was belayed by the gleam in her eyes. “By the Gods, woman. If you had come any more, or any louder, we would have thought you were being killed. I may have to give our big Nord another try.”


“Same here,” said Eldawyn, smirking. “Think you can order him to see to me some night?”


“I didn't order him to fuck me,” said Nora around a bite of bread and eggs. “I told him it was up to him, and it will be up to him if he wants to be with any of you. He's not our slave, after all.”


“A man would have to be crazy to turn you down,” said Annekke with a laugh. “You're so tight,” she said, mimicking a man's voice. “Someday you'll have to tell me your secret.”


Valdimar came crawling out of the tent, a triumphant smile on his face. “I will see to any of you ladies that want my attentions, though Nora always has first call.”


“He's died and gone to Sovngarde,” said Sofia, elbowing Nora in the side.


Valdimar didn't deny it, sitting there with a shit eating grin as he shoveled eggs and bacon into his mouth. And Nora decided that if the man never accompanied them into a crypt or tomb, he was fulfilling a vital task for the party.


*     *     *


“So, have you decided where we are going next?” asked Lydia, still giving Nora a strange look. The prim and proper Housecarl obviously didn't approve of her Thane carrying on with another Housecarl, and Nora, though she wanted the regard of the woman, didn't care in this case. If Lydia didn't think highly of Nora due to the Dragonborn's prowess in battle, then Nora would eventually ask Balgruud to reassign her. Not immediately, of course, since such an action would severely hurt Lydia's pride.


“I think I need to do Meridia's quest first,” said Nora, letting out a sigh. “Longer time before I get back to High Hrothgar, but I see no way around it. I feel a compulsion to clear out her temple, and think it better to get it done.”


“Good call,” said Eldawyn. “It's not good to have Daedric Princes mad at you. Though Meridia is better than most, since she has a thing about undead and necromancers. She will probably reward you with a mighty weapon for your troubles.”


“Okay. Sofia, Lydia. What's our best route?”


The women looked at the map, both tracing it with their fingers, then nodding to each other.


“We go from Morthal to Dragonsbridge, three days,” said Sofia. “There's a good inn in that town where we can rest up and get clean. Then three days up the road to Solitude to Meridea's shrine. I recommend we take a side trip over to Solitude. It's a sight you don't want to pass up, so another two days there and two back. Back down this road to Rorikstead, then over to Whiterun, twelve days on good roads with no snowdrifts. Maybe not warm, but not freezing cold either, and there are inns along the way. From Whiterun we can go back to High Hrothgar, and you know how long that will take.


A fucking month, thought Nora, shaking her head for a moment, maybe longer. But she had time, didn't she? She wanted to get on with taking care of the world eater, but didn't feel anywhere near ready. She had spent over a year preparing herself for the Institute, before she felt ready to take them on, and compared to this mythical world eater they were easy. Facing Alduin before she was prepared was asking for failure.


“Okay. Let's do it. And I am looking forward to Solitude, so let's plan on three days there.”


Lydia and Sofia both cheered, and Nora thought that was a ringing endorsement of that city. She wasn't sure what it would be like, but it was said to be the largest city in the kingdom, and the capital. She just hoped it lived up to the hype. So few things in either world did, after all.



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