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Humility and Outrage (Kirstia's Adventure, Chapter 9)


gregaaz

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The afternoon's exercise completely took whatever energy I'd regained out of me. I managed to roll out of bed enough to drop into the balcony chair for a light breakfast, but that was my limit. The warmth rising off the fire pit and the bard's music and songs made for a soothing dinner, but every time I tried to put my mind to the coming day's tasks I soon found myself wandering off into daydreams. I felt... I don't know. I felt like a foreigner in my skin. It wasn't that I was upset about the encounter with Lyne, that's not it. It was exciting, thrilling. But what troubles me is that my experience was so different from what I expected it would have been. It made me question my whole self-image. 

 

I couldn't push past those superficial feelings of confusion though. Every time I started to delve deeper into my feelings, a stray thought sent me thinking of something else or a new song rising up from the common room below caught my attention. When it came right down to it, I was tired out in body and in mind, and I wasn't getting anything accomplished trying to fight it. At length, I ran the heel of my biscuit along the bottom of the trencher, sopping up the last of the chicken soup. The soggy biscuit, rich with savory flavor, went into my mouth, washed down by the last of my ale. I sat back and enjoyed one more song, then retreated to our bed. 

 

I awoke the following morning feeling refreshed, but also a little overheated. As I squatted to use the chamber pot, I realized that it wasn't just my cheeks that were warm either. Perhaps I'd dreamt of something that aroused me, or perhaps this was just an echo of the night before, but my loins were slick to the touch. And as I emptied my bowels, I could feel a chill run up my back, making me quiver a little. By the time I had finished with my business, I was chewing on my lower lip, eyes half closed. With one hand, I rubbed my index finger against the spot just below my clitoris, so the length of my finger slid back and forth against the sensitive bud. Trying to keep quiet, I imagined a thick girth entering me from behind the way I'd pushed my arm into Edippa's deepest crevices the night before.

 

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I continued until, with a series of sharp contractions, I felt the pent-up tension escape from my body. Feeling the excess warmth gradually returning to normal, I finished my morning preparations with a short bath and then started dressing for the day. 

 

Jenassa, the Dunmer sellsword we'd hired the day before, stopped me before I could finish, however. In a passing instant, I wondered how long she had been there, how much she had seen. But she'd been there the day before, so I didn't let it bother me. 

 

"You need your armor," she said, "let me help you with it."

 

Evidently the look on my face conveyed a question, and she continued, "It's true we're taking the carriage, and that's a safe way to travel, but we're also going through Forsworn country. An ambush is always a risk. So put on your armor and belt on your weapons. It's not worth taking any chances."

 

"The Forsworn?" I asked.

 

"Reachmen, savages hiding in the hills. They're a danger to anyone travelling along the roads to Markarth. Ask them and they'll tell you they're fighting to reclaim their kingdom... right after they cut your throat. So be watchful."

 

I nodded, thinking on that. So the Forsworn were the remnants of the Reach Rebellion? The men my father had turned on his Jarl to aid? Now reduced to little better than bandits, it seemed. That made me feel sad, for it made all my father's sacrifices seem like they were for nothing.

 

After a small breakfast, the three of us paid our toll at the gates and then walked down to the city stables. We haggled briefly with one of the carriage drivers before settling on a price and climbing aboard the sturdy wooden cart. 

 

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I passed the time mostly in silence, sitting back and taking in the scenery. This part of Skyrim wasn't exactly verdant, but it was free from snow and ice. Greenery was everywhere, and across some of the wide plains I could see herds of animals grazing. As we proceeded further, the hills became steeper and, ultimately, several great rivers converged on the path, forcing us across stone bridges. At one point, we passed a gilded statue of Dibella, guarded by priestesses and knights of the Lady. 

 

"We're getting close now," Edippa said, "you can see the influence of the temple growing."

 

Finally, after one last bridge, we caught sight of the great walls of Markarth looming out of the mist. Red heat-haze and billowing plumes of steam escaped from the remains of the machine works. Markarth had, after all, been a city of the dwarves long before it was a city of men. 

 

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The carriage slowed and then, reaching a spot of flat ground near the city gates, came to a stop.

 

"Well, there's Markarth. A fine city if I've ever seen one," the driver said. "And looks like we've got plenty of sunlight left in the day. Have you visited before?"

 

"I lived here long ago," Edippa said, "but it's my daughter's first time."

 

"Oh, girl, you're in for a treat then. There's nothing quite like it anywhere in Skyrim. Just be sure to stick to Dryside. Riverside's not a place for fine folk like you."

 

"Thank you," Edippa said, "we'll hold that in mind."

 

Dismounting, we ascended the stairs and waited while the elaborate mechanical gate whirred and spun before opening. Just inside, an Orc in city guard armor stopped us.

 

"Just one second, princess," he said, looking right at me, "just let me check your licenses."

 

I handed over the papers, which he perused in a leisurely. After a few minutes, he handed them back. "All right, carry--"

 

Before he could finish, a woman's scream interrupted him. I snapped my head to the right, just in time to see a man withdraw a dagger from a fallen woman's back.

 

"The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!" he shouted, before guards tackled him. They evidently saw no need to arrest the man, for as soon as he was held fast they plunged their swords into his belly. The man shrieked, thrashed once, and then lay still, his pooling blood joining that of his victim. 

 

As the market's patrons fled the scene, the guards fanned out and formed a cordon around the woman and her assailant.

 

"Nothing to see here!" their captain bellowed, "move along!"

 

I felt Jenassa tug at my sleeve. "Come on," she hissed, "this way."

 

Edippa and I followed her along a narrow alley and then down a flight of stairs. Judging by the roar of water below us, Jenassa had entirely ignored the carriage driver's advice and lead us into Riverside. Emerging on the far end of the alley, I was greeted by a macabre site.

 

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Under the watchful eyes of guards, laborers set their tools to the stone, slowly chiseling out and expanding the quarry - and all in the shadow of impaled and dismembered corpses.

 

"What is this?" I blanched.

 

"This is the part of Markarth that the tourists don't see," Jenassa growled. "This is the lot the poor and destitute, breaking their backs in search of more silver for the Silver-Blood clan. And that," she nodded to the impaled corpse, "is the wages of anyone who refuses to work. Let's not tarry here. Up the hill and over that bridge, and we'll be at the foot of the temple."

 

Edippa surveyed the scene in silence. It wasn't until we'd exited the quarry that she stopped and shook her head.

 

"And now you've seen the fruits of Ulfric Stormcloak's great victory. When he left, Markarth tore down the temple of Talos, but they kept the slaves. Many of those unfortunates you saw are the descendants of the Reachmen who rose up to fight for their own kingdom."

 

In other words, I thought, but for my father's escape, that could have been me.

 

"Let's leave this place, mother. I don't like this."

 

"Nor I, daughter. Up these stairs, the temple isn't far."

 

We ascended one, then another, then a third flight of stairs, until a young woman, naked but for a wreath of flowers in her hair, waved to us. We approached, and she looked into my eyes for a moment.

 

"There's a unique beauty about you," she said, "have you considered joining the Temple of Dibella?"

 

"Are you a priestess?" I asked, before Edippa could get in a word edgewise.

 

"Not yet," she said, "but I have devoted myself to the Great Goddess, and the spread of her divine love."

 

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"Daughter," Edippa said, "this is one of the neophytes I told you of. And yes, my dear, my daughter has considered joining the Temple. In fact, we are on our way there now."

 

The neophyte smiled at that. "Oh, that's wonderful news. After poor Mother Caecilia's death, times have seemed so dark. We desperately need more beauty in this world."

 

"Wait," Edippa cut in, "Caecilia is... dead?"

 

"Did you know her?" The girl asked, "oh, I'm sorry, that was rude. Yes, she passed from this world a few weeks ago. But all is not lost. Hamal is our mother now, and she is so strong and experienced. She'll know what to do."

 

Edippa nodded, slowly, "I have no doubt," she said. "Thank you, neophyte. May the Lady bless you." 

 

We ascended the rest of the way to the temple in silence, before we stopped at the door.

 

"This isn't what I expected," Edippa confessed. "This isn't... what I wanted."

 

"What do you mean?" I asked.

 

"I loved Caecilia, but we did not part on good terms. I had truly hoped that with my return, we could mend our differences; perhaps even I could return to the priesthood. But I waited too long."

 

A shadow ran over Edippa's face and, impulsively, I drew her into a hug. "I'm sure she forgave whatever had come between you, Edippa, mother. Dibella wouldn't have called her back with something like that unfinished." I had no idea if this was true, but it felt... right. It felt like this right thing to say.

 

A tear ran down Edippa's cheek and she hugged me back, whispering, "I hope so."

 

After a few more moments of firm embrace, she steadied herself and said, "then it's time we both face our fates. You must join the temple, so you can complete your quest. And I must learn if I am to be outcast forever. Let's not wait any longer."

 

For all my apprehension, once we entered the temple I felt an immediate sense of peace and calm. There was a stillness about the temple hall, in spite of the worshippers moving between altars and leaving offerings. Edippa too, seemed to have stilled, and we both took a moment to take in the atmosphere.

 

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Gradually, we came back to the present, and Edippa motioned me towards a woman offering prayers to one of the marble statues.

 

As we drew near, she said, "I'm sorry, the Temple of Dibella is closed. You may make offerings here, but... Edippa?"

 

"Senna," she answered, "it's been too long."

 

"What... what are you doing here?"

 

"I've brought someone to join the temple," she said, "someone who heard Queen Dibella's voice."

 

"Edippa, you're banished from the temple." She sighed, "at any other time, any other time, I'd call the guards and have you arrested. But... you've come at the one time when I can't do that. And, oh, I know I can't fool you. I'm glad to see you," she finally confessed.

 

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Edippa drew closer, her expression softening. "I'm told Hamal is Mother now."

 

"Aye," Senna confirmed, "ever since the passing of Mother Caecilia and... well, ever since the passing of Mother Caecilia. And who is this you've brought?"

 

Now side by side with me, Edippa laid one arm on my shoulder. "This is Kirstia, who traveled here from High Rock. She witnessed a vision of the Lady, who set her on a quest."

 

The priestess looked skeptical. "I've heard a lot of people say the Goddess talk to them, but seldom were these true visions." Looking at me now, she continued, "what did you hear, child?"

 

I tried to remember the exact words. "The Lady ordered that I listen to her... that I listen to her, and obey. She said that I must travel to Skyrim and find a new Sybil to be her voice in Skyrim."

 

Senna looked stricken. "How do you...? Listen, Kirstia was it? Tell no one outside the temple of your vision."

 

"Then it's true?" Edippa pressed.

 

In a hissing whispher, Senna answered, "yes, but it is a secret until the new Sybil is found. Speak to no one of this, please!"

 

"Alright," Edippa relented, "you have our silence. But surely you see now, we must initiate this girl into the temple. She is meant to quest in the Lady's name."

 

"Hmm," Edippa examined me again, "interested in joining our sisterhood, child? As it seems you well know, the sisters are preoccupied these days, so I cannot offer you the full course of training. But for now you may begin by collecting donations for the temple. Will you accept this task?"

 

"How may I help?" I asked.

 

"Between the civil war, trouble with the Forsworn, and darker rumors still, these are uncertain times. The people need to be reminded about love and beauty more than ever. I need you to spread the word about the Goddess and bring back offerings for the temple. Here, follow me."

 

Senna led me to the back of the temple hall, which house a row of brass cupboards set into the stone. Opening one, she retrieved a satchel and offered it to me.

 

"Take this for donations, and also this wreath. You must wear nothing else and let your beauty inspire others to donate to the temple. You may leave your things here, and I will ensure they are kept safe."

 

I wasn't entirely sure about this. Somehow I'd expected deep spiritual learning rather than... naked begging. But Edippa urged me on and after a moment more of hesitaton I undressed and placed my things in the locker. Adjusting the wreath, I returned to Senna. 

 

"I'm ready. Where do I start?"

 

She looked me up and down briefly. "You are indeed a beauty, but you still need experience. I can see you aren't comfortable with your body yet."

 

"I'm not sure I understand," I replied, and to that Senne touched my hand. I hadn't realized it, but I'd laid it over my breasts.

 

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"To truly comprehend the Lady's love, you must stop being ashamed of your body. Go forth and share your beauty with the masses. Learn to stop fearing your skin and accept it for the amazing gift that it is."

 

"Do you have any advice? I want to learn from you."

 

She thought on that, then answered, "the guards will order a curfew soon, as they do every night. Those who do not have a home to return to will congregate in the warrens or in the Silver Blood Inn. Normally I would send you to the Silver Blood, but I think that may be too intimidating for you right now. Instead, go to the warrens, and share Dibella's beauty with the humble folk who live there. I do not expect you will receive much in the way of donations, but it will help you prepare for the greater tasks that await you."

 

I wasn't sure what to do next, and when no further instructions were forthcoming, I asked, "do I understand you right that all I'm supposed to do is talk to people and ask them for donations?"

 

Edippa squeezed my shoulders from behind, "you understand perfectly, daughter." I noticed that as she said this, Senna crooked a brow. 

 

"Edippa," she said, "I think we need to have a talk."

 

"Of course," Edippa said. "Jenassa, can you accompany Kirsti and make sure she stays safe?"

 

"Certainly," the Dunmer purred, "though I think I'll keep my clothes on if that's alright with you."

 

Senna laughed, "of course, warrior. Though I imagine you'd be welcome in the sisterhood if you felt the calling."

 

Jenassa and I exited the temple a few minutes later, stepping out into the surprisingly warm night air. I remembered what Edippa had said about the dwarven machinery, but I'd assumed she was exaggerating. In fact, I didn't feel even the slightest chill. Even my bare feet against the stone passages and stairs didn't feel uncomfortable, though I had to step lightly lest I plant myself heavily on a pebble or some other piece of debris. 

 

To my dismay, I quickly learned that reaching the Warrens would have me go back down through the slums of Riverside. Still, other than a swat on my rump from one passing worker, no one accosted me. Perhaps it was Jenassa's looming presence that kept me safe, or perhaps they were just tired after a day of toil. 

 

As we came closer to the entrance to the Warrens, I heard a man's voice emerge from the gloom.

 

"Gods, a woman attacked... right on the street. Are you all right? Did you see what happened?"

 

I'd already started to answer, "no, I was speaking with the toll collector when everything sta- wait, do I know you?"

 

I could barely make out the man in the dark, and certainly not his face, but it seemed he knew me. "We've never been introduced, but I saw you slipping away from the commotion. I think you dropped this, it looked important."

 

He pressed something dry into my hand, a scroll or a note, before disappearing into the shadows.

 

"I don't think..." but he was gone before I could protest.

 

Without a light to read by, I couldn't make any meaning from the note, so I slipped it into my offering bag and pressed on into the Warrens.

 

Whatever I'd imagined of the living quarters of Markarth's less fortunate, the Warrens were worse. Little more than a dirt-floored, half-collapsed ruin, raggedly-clothed men and women warmed themselves by what looked to be trash fires. Mindful of my assignment, I greeted the first person I saw, a woman who, while still dressed a little better than some of the occupants, still seemed to have few luxuries in her life.

 

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"I bring the gift of beauty from the Temple of Dibella," I said, trying to put on a good smile.

 

"By Dibella," she whispered, taking a moment to appreciate me. "Here, take this for the Temple. And I'll take something for myself in exchange."

 

Pushing my arm aside from where it was shielding my breasts, the woman leaned forward and licked at my nipple before planting a light love bite on it. Her other hand roughly reached between my legs, fingers probing. While not painful, her technique wasn't the light touch I'd come to expect from Edippa. 

 

Gasping, I forced myself to not flinch away, instead petting at her head while she explored my body. Behind me, I heard shouts and applause, and I looked up to see that the other inhabitants of the slum were watching with great interest. Pushing me to the ground, we settled amid a bed of mushrooms as the woman continued to roughly grope me, the evident great entertainment of her neighbors.

 

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"You sluts ought to try a real man's cock!" a voice called out from the crowd of onlookers, "you don't know what you're missing." Looking towards the source, I saw that one man had his trousers down around his knees, stroking his erect penis as he watched. Right under my gaze, a second one joined him, evidently excited to know I was watching.

 

As this display continued, the woman rolled over on top of me and planted an awkward kiss on my lips. "Lady bless you," she whispered, "I've needed that for days. Here," she continued as she slipped something else into my pack, "something extra for your good work."

 

She rose then, offering me a hand up. When we were both standing, she gave one last pack on my lips before pushing past me. As she receded into the distance, she offered, "better get to work! Looks like the boys have lots to offer you."

 

A part of me said that this was exactly the right time to turn around and never give the Temple a second thought, and Jenassa's occasional grunts of disgust at the behavior of the men went a ways to reinforce it, but I also felt my cheeks warming a bit from the experience. More importantly, I'd pledged to Dibella that I would take up her quest, and a little harassment from childish men was hardly the greatest danger I'd ever faced. In the end, I decided to try and tip the tables in my favor. One of the more brazen men was still enthusiastically masturbating, clearly holding little care for the fact that I could see him - and perhaps more excited for it. I approached him and asked him if he would like to make a donation to the Temple.

 

The surprised look on his face told me he hadn't been expecting me to actually speak to him. 

 

"Huuuh," he groaned, "what are you doing here? What do you want?"

 

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"I've come from the temple," I said, smiling as the man seemed to struggle to keep erect in this unexpected circumstance. "I bring the gift of beauty. Would you like to make a donation?"

 

I tried my best to not laugh at his predicament. Even while stroking himself even more vigorously than before, he grunted out, "Blessings of Dibella... indeed. Urgh... take this for the temple and, ah, keep the spark of beauty alive." He gestured vaguely towards his pack before focusing entirely on pleasuring himself. I took a few valuable looking items, but resisted the urge to rob him blind. 

 

And so it continued. In spite of their clear destitution, the inhabitants of the Warrens seemed eager to donate to the temple... but just as eager to grope my body and take advantage of me in all manner of ways. One man, after praising the temple in flowery words that seemed ill matched to his circumstances, politely asked for me to sit on his face. As it turned out, the man had a way with his tongue in more ways than one, and spent a good fifteen minutes gently licking between my legs until at least my body shuddered in release. He too sighed contentedly then.

 

"Thank you, sister. That's a sweet taste I have so missed. Take this offering with my deepest gratitude," he said, face alight with happiness. 

 

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One of the inhabitants wasn't quite so enthusiastic about what I offered. An Argonian, dressed even more raggedly than the others, sneered at my request.

 

"You won't find any sympathy for the temple from me," he announced. Explaining further, he said, "Before they were forced into the mines, many of the men here were devoted followers of the temple. But when the arrival of the new Mother, all of that changed." He spat on the ground in emphasis.

 

"I don't think I understand," I said, "what happened?"

 

"Mother Caecilia always worked to temper the Jarl's worst impulses. When she died, the new mother had no such interest. Hamal has stood by and watched as the Jarl rounds up anyone he dislikes and puts them to work in Riverside, or in the mines. You holy harlots deserve nothing."

 

"I'm sorry..." I started, but he had no time for me. The Argonian walked deeper into the Warrens, paying me no heed. 

 

I continued about my duties, walking deeper into the Warrens and opening my offering bag to anyone who accepted the gift of beauty. At some point, I must have got separated for Jenassa, because I realized I was alone in a long and empty hall. Then, before I could react, hands grabbed at me, holding me fast and pushing me to my knees.

 

"I warned you, sister. You don't belong here!" It was the Argonian again. "Now I have to teach you a lesson." Roughly grabbing my hair, he pulled me towards his crotch, where an inhuman member was beginning to slide out of its sheath. I tried to struggle, but the Argonian's accomplices pinned me in place. I opened my mouth to call out for Jenassa, but that only made way for the hot, reptilian penis to force its way past my lips.

 

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The Argonian may have been first, but he wasn't the last. One at a time they passed me around, cursing Dibella's name the whole time as they rubbed their members against my face and tried to force me to swallow them. The outrage seemed to go on and on without end, until I felt hands clamp down on my nose. I opened my mouth reflexively, and felt a glass view forced in, bitter fluids filling my mouth. Then, with a final slap across my face, they were gone.

 

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"Jenassa!" I cried, "where are you? Help!" Stumbling, feeling increasingly light-headed, I struggled to keep track of the way I'd came. Then I felt the fresh air hit me and I realized I'd escaped the Warrens. However, I couldn't relish the accomplishment because in the darkness, I tripped and fell into running water. I flailed, trying to keep my head up, until I could grasp onto a rock and steady myself. 

 

Then I heard Jenassa's voice. "Here, over here!" she shouted.

 

Turning, I saw her, now holding aloft a torch. She squatted down, offering a hand, and I reached out to her. Fumbling, my balance all shot, she had to work hard to haul me out of the water, but at length she succeeded.

 

"Alright, you're all right," she whispered as she steadied me and helped me back in the direction of the temple. By the time we reached its intricate metal door, my vision was blurring and all I could hear was the sound of my own heart. I remember hands on me, lifting me carefully, probing me - for injuries? And then soft furs all around me... and then deep, restless sleep.

 

Troubleshooting and Conflict Resolution

The Infamous Sisterhood Crosshair Crash

If you've followed or used Sisterhood of Dibella at all, you're probably familiar with this crash log:

 

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This is a particularly hard to trace CTD had occurs in the Temple of Dibella when Sisterhood of Dibella is installed, and seems more prevalent on large load orders. While the relevant objects change from log to log, 100% of logs contain CrossHairPickData::Pick_3AA4B0+333 high in the call stack. 

 

As is frequently the case, this crash log didn't reveal any 'slam dunk' solutions. It did seem to indicate that object references were involved, and discussion with the Net Script Framework community has drawn out some hints that the problem might be related to unresolvable feedback stemming from the crosshair touching an object. Some folks have suspected the dynamic marble statues that Sisterhood adds, but I don't believe it's been comprehensively tested.

Edited by gregaaz

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@gregaaz

 

I would like to ask you, in the third picture attached to the main text, where is the entrance (Temple of Dibella)? It is particularly powerful, and from which mod does it come from??

Edited by tznvlw
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30 minutes ago, tznvlw said:

@gregaaz

 

I would like to ask you, in the third picture attached to the main text, where is the entrance (Temple of Dibella)? It is particularly powerful, and from which mod does it come from??

 

That's a the main gate to Markarth using a combination of Markarth Sky City, Dwemerfication of Markarth, Skyrim Industrialized, and some weather mods (for the cloud/ steam textures). All three mods worked together pretty well and needed only very minor patching for a few overlapping objects. 

Edited by gregaaz
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