I finally rose from the bed after dozing off once or twice more. Finding a jug of fruity red wine next to my bed, I slaked my immediate thirst as Edippa returned to our room.
"Ah," she said, "you're finally up."
"For now," I laughed, "I feel pretty worn down."
Nodding, Edippa agreed, "that doesn't surprise me. We made a long journey by foot, and you didn't get proper rest for a lot of it. We'll take things easy today, then tomorrow we'll travel to Markarth by carriage. And we'll make sure you get plenty of sleep."
"I like that idea. Breakfast then?"
Edippa considered me. I hadn't dressed yet, and her eyes appraised me carefully. "Not yet, I think. You need a bath first."
Checking myself, I realized that I had indeed managed to pick up more than a fair share of dirt.
"I think you're right, mother. Can you wash my back? Uhh..."
"What is it?"
"Actually, fetch the bed pan over here. I think that wine has got my tummy awakened."
"Far be it for me to deny nature's call, but... do me a favor?"
I shot her a questioning look. She rifled her pack before producing an empty mead bottle.
"Make your water in there for me. I... have a question I need answered, and I need a sample of your leavings. Hey, don't look at me like that. A woman's morning water can tell a skilled alchemist a lot about her."
"And what exactly do you want to learn about me?"
Coming closer with bottle and chamberpot in one hand, she touched my neck with the other. "When that guard... branded you with his magical device, he called you a mage. I think you were too tired to notice, but I certainly did. But... as far as I know you're not a mage."
I nodded, "it's true. I've never worked a single word of magic in my life."
"So what made him think that? I think there's a power of some kind hidden in you, and I have a friend in town who might be able to help me find out what. So stop stalling and start peeing," she ordered, pushing the bottle into my hand.
"Fine," I groaned, "ugh, do you really have to watch?"
Edippa laughed, "daughter, trust me, it's nothing I haven't seen before. But if you're feeling pee shy, I'll excuse myself. Join me downstairs when you're finished."
At length, I prepared my 'sample' for Edippa and finished dressing, then headed down to the main hall. Edippa was there, chatting with a well-dressed young man as she nibbled on a salmon steak."
"Ah, daughter, I've found a table for us. Kjens, thank you for keeping me company," she said, turning to her tablemate, "but I'm afraid I need to claim that chair from you. Another time perhaps?"
He stood, nodding respectfully, "of course, revered priestess. Thank you for your time and your advice."
Slipping in to the seat he'd just vacated, I smirked at Edippa, "I've done as you asked, hopefully for both the first and the last time. You're paying for breakfast."
"That seems reasonable. Hang onto the bottle until we visit Arcadia. We'll need it then. So what are you in the mood for? The fish is fresh and tasty, if you want my advice."
I thought on that, then flagged down a serving wench. We spoke briefly about the options and soon after a plate arrived from the kitchen. Grilled bass and mushrooms, hot breakfast tea, and a pair of hard boiled eggs. A little pile of spiced salt on on the side filled the fourth quarter of the plate, and I sprinkled it liberally on the fish before cutting in.
"I see the cook didn't disappoint," Edippa commented, "that should help you bounce back from your exhaustion."
By the time the last slice of egg vanished from the plate, I was well sated. "Oh, yes, that's just what I needed. So tell me more, what's our plan today? It sounds like you have plenty of things you want to do."
Edippa popped a couple berries into her mouth and chewed for a moment before answering me. "Well, first things first I want to visit my friend Arcadia, just across the square from this tavern. We'll give her your bottle to examine, and while she does that I'd like to do something nice with your hair. Tell me, how do you feel about cutting it?"
I frowned. "I don't know, mother... I like it long like this."
Edippa smiled. "That's all right, we just need to find a style that keeps it out of your face and away from your armor plates. I'm sure Yorcyn can help you figure out just the right style. What about color? Do you want to stay a blonde?"
I nodded. "Really, I'm happy with how I am."
"Fine, spoil all my fun. Well, once that's all done with, next we need to find you some proper clothes. Those rags are practically falling apart," she waggled a finger towards my chest, "and you need to fit the part as a respectable priestess' daughter."
"I can't argue with that," I confessed.
"Lastly, we need to get you licensed and we need to get your gear out of lockup. Once all that's done, I imagine we'll still have some time before nightfall, so we can take a walk around town maybe, or visit some of the other merchants. Whatever suits your fancy."
I nodded, sipping at my tea, "I'd like that. Thank you mother, for planning this all out."
Edippa finished chewing the last piece of salmon then said, "it's nothing really. Oh, one more thing to consider. How do you like the name 'Kirstia Fire-Eye'?"
I felt my brow furrowing against my will as I thought about it. I didn't really want to change my name but... I'd suspected for a while that I'd have it. "Is that your clan name? Fire-Eye?"
"Indeed it is. You won't find many other Fire-Eyes in Skyrim; other than my children, most of the clan is still on the Morrowind side of the border. So there'll be few to question your heritage or challenge my account, and I think the name suits you well. Of course, if you don't like it we can announce you by..."
"No, no, it's fine. You're right that it sounds a good match for my given name."
Edippa leaned back in her chair a bit. "You know, it makes me really happy to hear that. Come now, let's go visit Arcadia and see if she can sniff out the source of your alleged magery."
We went on our way then, stepping out of the tavern and into the cool morning air. The sun was creeping across the market square as the earlier-rising of the merchants started to open up their stalls. We didn't tarry long there, however, instead walked across to a sturdy house surrounded by plots of flowers and herbs. Barely had the door closed behind us when a warm voice called out. "Is that Edippa I see crossing my threshold?"
The speaker was a Cyrodillic woman, long hair framing a a plain but not unattractive face. Cyrodilic, if I had to guess.
"It is indeed," Edippa answered, "it's good to see you again, Arcadia."
"And who's this with you?"
"My daughter, just returned from a long adventure in High Rock."
Arcadia scowled slightly, "You never told me you had another daughter! And an adventurer, at that!"
Edippa laughed a little before answering. "It's a long story, but for now let's just say I wasn't in a position to acknowledge her until quite recently. Kirsti, dear, say hello to Arcadia."
I nodded and offered her a simple hello.
"You're as pretty as all the other Fire-Eye kids. You know, I envy your mother... but I digress. Surely you have more purpose here than just catching up on old times."
"I'm hurt," Edippa said in mock outrage, "but you're right. The truth is, I have a bit of a mystery I need your help with." Edippa tugged at the neck of my tunic, revealing the tattoo-like mark the guard had left. "My daughter hasn't done a lick of magic in her life, but the guards have collared her for being a mage. I was hoping you could take a look at this and see if you can find out what magic is influencing her." As Edippa spoke, she nudged me with her elbow. I was confused for a second before I realized what 'this' was referring to. Producing the bottle of urine, I offered it to Arcadia.
"Ha, and not a drop less bashful than your other kids either, I see. I'll take a look at this, but it may be a little while before I have an answer. Do you want to come back in an hour or two?"
Edippa shook her head. "No, I need to see Yorcyn, too. She still works upstairs, right?"
A voice called down from above, "Aye, I do. Bring her up, then, let's have a look at her."
Yorcyn had an easy smile and, curiously, a mantle of luminous runes that ran over her shoulders and upper chest. I couldn't help but glance at it as I climbed the stairs to her little shop.
"You like it?" she asked, "I could do something like that for you if you want."
"I have to admit, it's impressive. How does it glow like that?"
She had an easy smile that quickly spread over her face. Playing with a small braid that fell over her ear, she explained, "the paint is infused with a simple enchantment. As long as it doesn't get too badly chipped or washed off, the glow lasts for days. My sister in Solitude even made it work for nail polish once, but I don't know how that could last long. Too much touching, at least for the way I make it."
I thought about that, then replied a little dismayed, "once I get my papers sorted out, I'll be wearing armor again. Probably best then that I skip the paint."
Yorcyn nodded slowly, her smile not departing despite my refusal, "yes, I think that's the right decision. But we can do something else nice, I'm sure. Maybe with your hair?"
"That's what my mother suggested too. Something to keep it out of my eyes and away from the parts of my armor that might pinch, but without having to cut it short."
"Mmm, hmm, we could... maybe..." Yorcyn mumbled to herself as she considered me. Leaning back, she crossed her legs and I realized that her dress only covered her front and back, completely baring her leg as she assumed her pose.
"Oh, you like my dress, too? I suppose if you're going to be all cooped up in armor you would want something breezy for when you're free. Maybe you should talk to the girl down at the Drunken Huntsman. Lindsay, I think her name was. She seems set on becoming a clothier of sorts and maybe she can help you find something comfortable and good looking to wear. But I'm getting distracted, we need to fix your hair first. How do you feel about wavy hair?"
"I... don't know," I answered honestly, "I've always worn it straight. Will it be hard to take care of?"
"No, no, you'll be fine. Yes... I think I know the perfect style to keep it looking pretty but still be easy to manage. Shall we give it a try?"
I was torn. Part of me worried that Yorcyn had reached her conclusion just too fast, but the other part of me just took it as a sign that she was an expert and wasn't concerned. And besides, Yorcyn was Edippa's friend, and Edippa hadn't done me wrong so far. So I put aside my concerns and nodded acceptance. "Yes, let's. It'll be different and... well, I've been trying a lot of new things lately, so why not."
I felt my cheeks flush a little as I said it. I couldn't place it, but I had this indistinct sense of excitement rising in my belly. Maybe anticipation, maybe something else... I wasn't sure. Yorcyn led me to a padded chair and bade me sit. She started by washing my hair thoroughly, and as her skilled hands massaged my scalp with warm water I felt myself relax and my eyes close. I didn't quite nap, but I found myself paying little attention to what she was doing.
As she worked at my hair with what felt like a few different tools and massaged different odd smelling liquids against my scalp, behind my ears, and all over, I heard Arcadia and Edippa talking.
"Dear, there's two things you need to know here."
"Oh, do tell," Edippa purred.
"First, your next step needs to be the temple. Somewhere in her travels, your daughter's picked up rockjoint."
"Rockjoint?" Edippa shot back in surprise and disbelief. "That's impossible? We just walked from Ivarstead to here in two days, and she never showed a sign of slowing down. But... oh, I see. No wonder she couldn't get a proper rest. That stubborn girl never said a thing!"
After a brief pause, Edippa's tone softened. "Thank you, Arcadia, I knew I could count on you. But what is the second thing you learned?"
"Your girl might not be a mage, I believe you there, but she's brimming over with magical power. It's no wonder Farengar's baubles reacted to her." I thought back to the standing stone and its spheres of power. Of the fiery pulses of energy that shot through me that night. I thought of the word wall, and the blue whorls of energy that wrapped around me as its iron rod entered me. Had they infused me with magic? Or with a curse?
"All done!" Yorcyn's cheery voice interrupted my eavesdropping, and I slowly opened my eyes. The hairdresser was looking at me with her usual grin, this time is seemed signaling great satisfaction. Offering me a polished mirror she said, "take a look. I think you'll love it."
"Goddess," I whispered, examining my new look, "that's... remarkable."
Yorcyn looked so happy at my words. "Oh, I'm glad. This will be so comfortable I think, even when you're in armor. And you'll have no problem at all attracting as many men... or women as you need to fill your bed."
I barked out a laugh at the frank comment, and Yorcyn blushed a little. "Oh, I hope I didn't speak out of turn. I just assumed that as Edippa's daughter..."
I waved off her concern. "No, it's fine, I was just a little surprised. But I shouldn't have been if you know my mother. Thank you, Yorcyn, this is beautiful."
We exchanged small talk for a little longer before I descended back down to see Edippa.
"How much did you hear?" she asked.
"Just the first part, about the rockjoint."
"Well, that's the most urgent part, so that's good. We'll be going to the temple right away, I think. But the second part is important too. I'll explain on the way over."
With a final round of thanks, we exited Arcadia's shop and briskly crossed the marked square. As we went, Edippa explained.
"It seems you're positively brimming with magical power. When Arcadia tasted your urine--"
"She tasted my urine?" I interrupted.
Edippa just smirked at me, "well what did you think she did? Squinted at it really hard? Arcadia's an alchemist, half her job is sorting out the property of ingredients from their texture, their smell, and obviously their taste. But before you rudely interrupted me, I was explaining that when she tasted it, it was like an electric shock hit her tongue. She said it woke her up better than strong coffee."
"What does that mean? Is it dangerous?"
"Not for the moment, as far as Arcadia can tell, but it's the sort of thing that can't be good to keep inside you forever, especially if it keeps building up. We need to find an outlet for that power, and now that they've collared you just teaching you spells isn't going to be enough. The court wizard here might be able to help, but honestly I don't know how much I trust him. Better we wait until we reach Markarth to pursue that. Oh, and I forgot to say earlier, your hair looks fantastic."
"Thank you, though all the credit-- what? Mother, what's that?"
Hanging from a pole, not two feet away from a city guard, was a headless human corpse.
I approached it, not waiting for Edippa's answer, and the dead body seemed freshly killed, free of any sign of decay. Body paint decorated her torso and hips, in a style that wouldn't have seemed out of place anywhere on Skyrim.
Edippa caught up with me a moment later, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
"The work of the Thalmor, and the doom of our High King."
"What do you mean," I whispered, transfixed on the butchered corpse. With dawning disgust, I realized that the corpse was part displayed along with other cuts of meat and fresh-killed game at a Bosmer butcher's market stall.
"Our late High King, Torygg, made many concessions to the Thalmor in order to keep his throne. One of the most foul, and many believe the straw that finally brought Ulfric Stormcloak searching for his head, was to allow 'traditional Valenwood meats'," she uttered those three words with contempt, "to be lawfully sold throughout Skyrim."
"But, that's a woman, a human woman," I protested, pointing out the obvious.
"Aye, it is." Edippa said, grim-faced, "The Thalmor claim they have a farm somewhere up in the hills where they keep willing humans who sell themselves as meat. But few believe that. More likely, this is the fate of Talos worshippers, the ones who go to their prisons for interrogation and never come back."
"Divines," I whispered, "I never imagined..."
Taking my by the arm and leading me away, she whispered to me, "the depravity of the Thalmor is beyond any human being's imagination. Always remember that. Whenever you think you have seen their worst, there is something even more vile hidden from your eyes."
I craned my head to get a passing glimpse of the corpse, shivering. Somehow, that sight disturbed me far more than what I'd seen and experienced in the barrow, or even the haunting words of the dragon priestess. For the Thalmor weren't ancient monsters, preserved for a thousand years through the power of evil and wickedness. The Thalmor were mortal Mer, born into this world just like I was, and yet they had done a thing like... this.
As we ascended the stairs to the upper tier of the city, the market fell out of the view, and soon instead I was confronted with the edifice of the temple of Kynareth. Edippa led me inside and we were greeted by a slender woman who bid us welcome.
"My daughter is ill," Edippa explained, "may we pray to Kynareth for divine healing?"
"Of course," the acolyte answered, "but first let me examine her. Step forward, child, into the light so I can see you clearly."
I did as she instructed, as Edippa added, "Arcadia believes she has rockjoint."
The acolyte approached me, walking in a close circle as she touched me lightly on the arms, the hands, sniffed at me behind my ears, ran long fingernails gently from the crook of my elbow to the palm of my hand. Then ever so gently, she cradled my arm and flexit it in her hands.
"Yes, I can feel the disease at work. Come forward to the altar, and request the blessing of our Divine Kynareth. I am sure you will be cured."
I did as she instructed, kneeling before the altar and invoking a prayer to Kynareth.
"Goddess," I intoned, "hear my plea. I feel your power upon me, your unseen spirits. I acknowledge your power. I kneel before you. Please lift this burden from me, that I might continue my quest in newfound strength."
I bowed low, completing the ritual, and waited. At first, I felt nothing, but gradually a tension I had barely realized existed started to fade. I felt a lightness, an ease that I hadn't felt since I collapsed atop the dragon mound. A minute later, when I stood, I did so smoothly and with an ease I hadn't felt before. The disease had crept upon me so subtly that my weakend state had felt... normal. Now I felt energized, powerful, renewed.
I returned to the acolyte and she asked me to roll my shoulders, squat, and twist, all the while carefully examining me and gently touching my elbows, knees, and feeling around the base of my skull.
"Praise be to Kynareth," she said, "you are cured. Next time you feel unwell, however, do not wait so long. You had a very advanced case of the disease, and left unchecked rockjoint can be fatal."
I almost tried to explain how I hadn't felt ill, but I decided to go with discretion, saying, "yes, I will. Thank you, I was unwise."
Having already ascended to the upper tier, our next stop was at the jail. To my great displeasure, almost as soon as we started to discuss licensing, the Jarl's registrar insisted I submit to another body search.
"This is absurd," I protested, "I was just searched yesterday."
"Aye," the man grumbled, "and you've had plenty of time to get into trouble and gather contraband. Now, go with Hannir and follow her instructions. Your mother can start your paperwork while we wait."
A woman guard beckoned me to a side room. I followed, and she sad down heavily in a wooden chair. "If you were just here yesterday, you know the drill."
Frowning, I started to loosen my tunic and she hissed, "what are you doing, girl?"
"Undress and put my hands on the chair, isn't that the procedure?"
She sighed in disgust. "Apparently that's the procedure for the night shift guards. No, keep your clothes on. Hmm, though if you're so willing, no need to hold the chair. Put your hands on my hips and rest your head on my lap. That way you won't bang your head if you get bumped during the pat down."
I couldn't help but feel that this still felt like a very suspect procedure, but I did as she said. As I leant forward, resting on the leather skirt of her armor, I felt rough hands running down my sides, checking the small of my back, running down my legs, and finally delivering a wholly unnecessary slap on my runt.
A male voice behind me said, boredly, "alright, you're clean. Go back and finish your business."
When I came back, the registrar was applying a wax seal to a document.
"Ah," Edippa said, "perfect timing. You're all legal now, daughter. Let's visit the quartermaster and reclaim your arms and armor, then we can get you some proper clothes."
"Don't lose these licenses, girl," the registrar told me sternly, "or you'll have your things confiscated again. You also need to renew this license in one month's time. If you violate the Jarl's laws in that time, you'll be denied renewal. Understood?"
I accepted the papers and nodded in affirmation. Trying my best to be respectful, I answered with a demure "yes, sir."
Half a hour later, and following a great deal of back and forth with a very unhelpful quartermaster, I'd recovered my arms and armor. Edippa nodded in approval, but didn't seem like she was ready to call our day complete yet.
"Well, daughter, time to find some better clothes for you. The general store, just down the road from here, should have what you need. We should also purchase a tent and firemaking tools, so next time we have to sleep outside you'll be better rested."
"Yorcyn mentioned there's a new clothier in town, down at the Drunken Huntsman."
Edippa cocked her head in interest. "Oh, I hadn't heard. Let's stop there first."
Before I let myself into the Huntsman, I couldn't help noticing the sign posted next to the door. I rolled my eyes a little, but I supposed there was nothing all that out of the ordinary of a tavern hiring dancers.
We slipped in, looking for the clothier that Yorcyn had spoken of. After some searching and a few questions to the barkeepr, I caught sight of a pretty woman sipping ale in the shadow of the tavern's patron idol.
"You must be Lindsay," I said.
"I am indeed," she answered with a mild smile, "what can I do for you?"
"Yorcyn Sunflower told me you might be able to help me with my... fashion problems."
That got a laugh out of the woman. "Fashion problems indeed. But I'm not sure I'm the person you're looking for. I'm actually a leatherworker, so unless you're looking for armor I can't help you much."
I thought about taking the opportunity to switch from my steel armor to something lighter, but I thought better of it after a moment. If it was just going to be Edippa and I against whatever perils awaited us, at least one of us needed to be strongly protected.
I frowned apologetically before confessing, "No, I'm sorry, I'm not really looking for leathers. Maybe some other time."
On the way out, I noticed that Edippa had struck up a conversation with a Dunmer woman at a corner table. As I approached, Edippa broke off her conversation and turned my way.
"Daughter, we were just talking about you. Tell me, how would you like to go back to using that bow of yours?"
I thought about it, then I nodded, "it's my father's bow, the only thing of his I still have left. I think I'd like to use it more than sword and shield."
"Good," she said, pushing a coin purse towards the Dunmer. "This is Jenassa. She'll be travelling with us to lend another sword to our efforts. Jenassa, this is my daughter Kirstia. I'm sure you'll get on well.
Jenassa seemed skeptical, but made a polite greeting in any event.
With our new shadow in tow, we made our way to the general store and started looking through his disappointingly small selection of women's clothes.
"Let me know if you can't find something you want," the proprietor injected, "maybe I can have the next caravan bring it in."
"What do you think, dear? I saw you looking at that wench last night, and you've got the Nordic blood to wear it even in the chill air." Edippa pointed me towards a tiny, lacy outfit.
I shook my head. "I'm sure it's lovely, but I need something I can wear under armor that covers my front enough that I don't chafe, and that's sturdy enough that it won't tear apart against the fur liner. What about something like what Yorcyn was wearing? That looked lightweight but practical, and I won't lie - I kind of like what it did with her legs."
"Hmm," Edippa mused, "I didn't get upstairs to see her, but I think I know the style you're talking about? Vest and long skirt, slit down the sides? Let's see..."
She checked a few more outfits until she settled on one. "Alright, daughter, try this on."
I pulled the dress over my head, and Edippa helped adjust the strings on the vest before stepping back. "Belethor!" she called, "what do you think of this one?"
The scruffy Breton looked me over before nodding definitively. "That, lovely Edippa, looks divine. Though you need to do something about those boots."
"Hmm, yes," Edippa agreed, "take off those rags, daughter, let's see how you look in your proper boots."
I slipped into the hide boots we'd just got back from the quartermaster and, at Edippa's direction, turned around a few times so she could see me from all angles.
"There, now that's perfect."
I wish I had that mirror Yorcyn had used to show me my hair, but the clothing was certainly comfortable. And I trusted Edippa's good taste. After a little negotiation on the price, we paid Belethor and changed our search to camping gear. We found a nice large tent with room for all of us to put out bedrolls, as well as a compass, but Belethor could only shrug at our efforts to find a woodsman's axe and a tinderbox.
"I'm sorry, a bunch of adventurers cleaned me out this morning. Maybe Carlotta has something? Or perhaps Adrianne?"
The pretty Cyrodilian, Carlotta, didn't have anything of interest, but we had better luck with Adrianne. Though she seemed disappointed to not be selling us weapons, after some small talk she tracked down a well-made woodman's axe, as well as a sturdy-looking hinged box that she promised contained not just flint and steel but all the tools we'd need to build a proper fire.
Better yet, after an even share of haggling and flirting by Edippa, Adrianne threw in the tinderbox for free. In maybe an hour's time, we'd went from having almost nothing to being well equipped for our travels.
And then a long yawn escaped from me. It was still early in the afternoon, but I suddenly realized that my energy was fading fast.
"You know, mother," I said, "I think I need a nap."
Edippa laughed. "Silly girl, you crossed half the hold on barely any sleep while suffering from rockjoint. You need more than a nap. I think we have everything we need. Let's return to our room and relax for the rest of the day. We can set out for Morthal tomorrow morning."
Back at our room, Edippa looked me up and down. "You clean up well, daughter. But tell me, how do you feel... inside."
"I mean," I said, not entirely sure what she meant, "I'm tired. Very tired. But I also feel excited about what we're doing. I was a little afraid before, but now I'm really looking forward to seeing Markarth."
Edippa nodded, "I'm glad to hear that. But that's only half my question. Tell me about your needs. Are you calm, or is your body asking for comfort? You must be sore from your experience on the hill, but I imagine you're also feeling curious about new possibilities you never considered before. And when you were changing before, I couldn't help but notice that you were... moist in your hidden parts."
"Mother!" I said, outraged. But after the initial moment of heat passed I realized she wasn't wrong. "Uh, it's true. The whole walk over yesterday, all I could think about was the Dibellan arts, and the ways I could use my body for pleasure. And when you made me pass water into that bottle, I felt hot and... needy, and when I used the bedpan the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I've never felt like that before. It's like... something's awakened in me."
"It might be all that magic bottled up in you," she said thoughtfully, "but I think you might be right. It might just be that you're awakening to the joys your body can give and receive. What about when you helped relieve my tight chest? Did you like that? Would you like some more?" She fiddled at the front of her robe, giving my eyes just a momentary glimpse of an erect nipple.
I felt my ears warming and heard a faint ringing as my heart started to beat faster. "Oh," I said, trying to find the words to politely decline, but instead I eagerly nodded, "yes, mother, I'd like that."
"Let's get undressed then, so we don't make a mess," she said, smiling.
A moment later, with our clothes in a rough pile by the bed, I leaned forward and helped myself to a long pull on Edippa's breast. The blood-hot fluid didn't come forth in the same volume as the first time, it it was still sweet and creamy. As I cupped her breast with my left hand and continued suckling, my right hand slipped between Edippa's legs. I felt the caress of her soft, fluffy pubic hair against my hand as I reached deeper to stroke gently between her lips.
The first few caresses were necessarily light as Edippa hadn't grown fully wet yet, but on my next rub, I let my finger push down a little deeper and, finding the rim of her vagina, I hooked my fingertip inside and rubbed back and forth until I felt my strokes grow faster and easier, well-lubricated as her ardor grew. I switched to longer strokes, drawing out her hot juices to rub all across her inner crevasse, moving faster and pressing harder, timing with my mouth so that each draw of milk coincided with my fingertip running forcefully along the hood of Edippa's clitoris.
"Ah, daughter," Edippa gasped, "when did you learn to do that?"
I gently gripped Edippa's nipple between my teeth and tugged on it for a moment before I released her to answer. "Surely you didn't think I was completely inexperienced in loveplay. I'll have you know that I was a very popular girl back in my homeland."
"And you didn't tell me? So naughty..." Edippa grasped my ponytail firmly, leading me back towards the bed. "Stand here, and bend forward to put your hands on the bed frame," she ordered.
I did as she said, playfully wiggling my rear end towards her, until I gasped as a hard slap landed on my right cheek. A second followed close behind it.
"Do you like that, daughter? Should I punish you more?"
"Urgh," I grunted. The stressful, bent-over position and the surprise of the spanks had taken the wind out of me, and I struggled to answer. A third and fourth swat, one on each cheek, kept me off balance. Then a new voice joined us.
"Oh," it said, sultry and female, "I see you've got her all warmed up. I've never had a mother and daughter together before."
"Whoooo?" I murmered, turning to look. I saw Lyne, the barkeeper from the night before, peeling out of her clothes and wearing a mischievous grin on her face.
Speaking with mock solemnity, Edippa said, "it's my duty as a priestess to train her in all the forms of love. And I know you have some special talents."
Lyne laughed, her hands glowing with unnatural power. "Indeed I do. Just you watch."
Pulling me back to my feet, Edippa maneuvered me closer to the barkeeper as the glow formed into crackling orbs.
Suddenly feeling light on my feet, Edippa threw me effortlessly over her shoulder before sidling close to Lyne. Upside-down, with Edippa's hand lightly tapping one of my hot, sore cheeks and Lyne's hand roughly squeezing the other, I looked over to see Edippa had reached over Lyne's shoulder to fondle her. I also noticed two more things: at some point Edippa had strapped on a curved godmiche, and second: more of the tavern wenches were watching us from the doorway.
"Does that excite you, daughter? How does it feel to be watched. Are you embarrassed?"
I'm not sure if it was embarrassment, excitement, or a blend of the two, but the my whole body was heating up quickly.
"I don't hear her complaining," Lyne commented.
"No, I don't either. Ladies, don't feel you have to hide on our account. There's plenty of room in here." Edippa called over her shoulder.
The other wenches came into our room then, adding their clothes to the fast growing pile and pairing off. Absentmindedly, I noted that Jenassa was amongst them.
"Don't get distracted, daughter. I want you to show Lyne what you showed me about making a woman wet and bothered."
I followed her instructions, though it was a little more challenging to perform while held upside down. I had to adjust how I did it, using my thumb rather than my index finger, but it didn't take much adjustment to get going. Instead of a firm massage, I fell more into a routine of flicking her tight knob with my thumb. Working at it even as my heart started to pound in my ears, Lyne's knees buckled for just a moment and she let out a fast, panting moan.
"Oh, Edippa, she's good. I think my spell's breaking." I could feel my body getting heavier. Holding me tight, Edippa started to turn me over.
"Help me hold her up," Edippa said, and Lyne slid behind me, grasping my rear. Properly aligned, Edippa slid the godemiche into my drenched passage, sliding in effortlessly until it came to a stop pushing against the entrance to my womb, with my hips tight against Edippa. I wrapped my arms and legs around her, rhythmically squeezing against the rigid invader. I felt none of the pain of the dragon priest's violation, even though the phallus that filled me up must have been similar in size. Now I only felt heat, lust, and pleasure.
This continued for a time, with me rising with Lyne's help and then sliding down hard on Edippa's godemiche. Despite the foreign object filling me, I could feel my juices escaping, running down my body and making Edippa's belly slippery as I rubbed up and down. Then my two lovers shifted, pulling back my legs and spreading me wide open. Edippa's phallus pulled out from me first slowly and then the rest of the way suddenly as my clenching muscles ejected it.
"Now, my dear, it's time for you to learn something new."
They put me down gently, then Edippa pulled over a chair and stepped up on it with one leg, opening her legs. Lyne, needing little instruction, knealt before Edippa and started gently licking between her legs.
"Well, daughter, looks like this side is already full. You can take the other side."
I wanted to ask what she meant, but all I could do was gasp and breathe.
"Come on, dear, my back passage won't lick itself. I want you to make me come with your mouth before Lyne does. Get to work, quickly now."
This command elicited some chuckles from the audience we'd gathered, and I felt a moment of intense anxiety and humiliation. But Edippa's command rang in my ears, and somehow that managed to overcome my shyness. Pulling closer, I awkwardly pressed my face between Edippa's slightly spread cheeks.
It took me a moment to find Edippa's anus, my tongue searching too high above at first, until a barely detectable bitterness met my tongue. From there I quickly found the tight ring of muscle.
"Yes, good," Edippa whispered, "right there."
My position confirmed, I first made gentle, light licks over the tight bud, eliciting some pleased grunts from Edippa, but I knew I needed to do more if I was to beat Lyne in our 'race'. I experimentally pushed at the center of her anus, seeing how far my tongue could penetrate. At first, I was firmly rejected, but then, in time with a pleased sigh from Edippa, her rear relaxed, and I began to work my way in deeper. The faint smell of night soil almost made me pull back, but the way Edippa sighed with each thrust of my tongue kept me going. Suddenly, Edippa tensed, her anus first squeezing my tongue tightly and then pushing it out of her entirely.
"Yes, yes," Edippa murmurred. I leant back, seeing that Lyne, her face covered with Edippa's juices, had already withdrawn.
"Daughter, I'm so close. Now finish it. I'm ready for you. Remember on the hill? Remember how to enter? I want your hand inside me."
I tried to remember how Edippa had done it. I pushed in fingers first, pushing back and forth and spreading them, but I wasn't sure what to do next. Intuitively, I tucked in my thumb and gently pushed with all my fingers. Resistance grew and I heard Edippa let out a long moan until with a sudden release of tension my hand was inside her.
"Goddess," I whispered, "you're so warm."
"Ahhhhhh," was the only answer I received, and then, "deeper. deeper," followed by soft panting.
I pushed further, trying not to go so hard that I caused harm. Slowly I crept inside, and as I progressed I felt something else pushing against me. Looking past Edippa, I realized that Lyne had pushed her hand into 'mother's' vagina, and I was feeling her knuckles rubbing against mine through the walls of Edippa's innards.
At length, I felt a warm barrier against my fingetips. I pulled them in, forming a fist, but even then I could only go a little deeper before I met resistance. Each time I reached this limit, Edippa gasped and shuddered. I slid back and forth, ignoring the smells coming from within each time I withdrew slightly, but I couldn't find a way to go further.
"The bend, daughter," Edippa moaned, "go around the bend."
And then I remembered how I had to lean to the right to take the fourth sphere of power. Realizing the situation was reversed, I pulled back slightly, unclenched my hand, and gently rubbed my fingers along the right side of Edippa's rectum. Carefully I searched until I my middle finger felt a cavity. I wove my fingers into the bend until I felt the passage turn upwards again. Having navigated the secret passage, I pushed and felt my arm go deeper yet.
Lyne withdrew as Edippa leaned forward, trading sloppy kisses with the barmaid, giving me more room to work with, and I probed even deeper into her body. By now, I was regularly feeling Edippa's anus clench around my forearm, and her juices were liberally running out of her, squeezing out in spurts timed with each climax.
Continuing my careful invasion, I felt my elbow reach Edippa's anus. I was about to try pushing further when with a loud gasp she went limp, falling into Lyne's arms. The other woman caught her, carefully maneuvering her to the floor. My presence inside her left Edippa's rear end raised slightly in the air, and this final act of our lovemaking drew some lusty cheers from the watchers. Carefully, I began to withdraw from Edippa, sliding out of her with only minimal resistance. As I pulled out, however, it was clear I'd gotten rather messy and, as my presence of mind came back to me, I started to feel ill at ease with the harsh nightsoil odor, and then actual smeared excrement, on my forearm and hand.
Seeing me crinkling my nose in disgust, Lyne laughed. "First time, huh? The girls are bringing a washbasin to clean up. You'll be all freshened up in no time."
"uhhh," I groaned, "I... that wasn't what I was expecting to do."
"Don't worry, kid," Lyne said, "you did really well. You're going to be one hell of a priestess some day. You can play with me any time the mood suits you."
At that moment, the washbasin arrived. One of the wenches helped me wipe down my arm with hot, soapy water, until I was clean of any excrement. With that done, Lyne and I sat down by a second basin and started washing the sweat and other fluids from our bodies. Edippa also started to rouse from her collapse.
"Oh, daughter," she said, "that was amazing. Your potential... is endless. Mother Caecilia is going to be overjoyed to meet you."
The three of us washed, laughed, shared a light snack, and then rolled into bed together for a nap.
It was such a strange experience. If you had come up to me the day before and asked me "hey, would you like to have a total stranger walk in on you during sex with Edippa, then have the two of them fuck you raw while your bodyguard and some barmaids watched, and then wrap up by sticking your erm up Edippa's back passage until you hit your elbow?" I wouldn't just have said no, I'd have been disgusted and offended that someone could even imagine that. But... all of that had happened, and I'd kind of loved it. Edippa and Lyne had challenged my inhibitions head-on, and when I'd let them fall away I'd come out on the other side more relaxed and more free in my skin. Is this Dibella's secret? That all the shame and embarrassment we've built up about our bodies and our loveplay are just lies created by man and mer? Those thoughts raced through my mind until, weariness overcoming me, I fell into a deep slumber.
Wakening hours later, I felt greatly refreshed, but also... stronger. I wondered idly as I lay in bed... was this the work of the magical infusions? I promised myself to talk to Edippa about it before my eyelids grew heavy and I indulged myself with some more napping.
Troubleshooting and Conflict Resolution
Quartermaster Doesn't Want to Return My Stuff
After sorting out my licenses, I went to the quartermaster to recover my confiscated gear. However, each time I went to select something, the menu would close. On further testing, I determined that what was happening was that when the underlying dialogue timed out, the window closed. In vanilla Skyrim, this will never happen because inventory menus pause the game. However, I have Skyrim Souls installed, which unpauses many menus. The lack of pausing on the trade menus has already been an issue elsewhere; faction economy won't work with that menu unpaused, so this 'second strike' is really the third strike. We're going to turn off that particular feature and allow inventory menus to stay paused. This will address the immediate issue and future-proof for later faction economy integration.
Skyrim Souls uses a pretty straightforward external configuration file to control its behavior. We're just going to change the barter menu setting to "false" and save the file. Problem solved!
Edited by gregaaz