Red Right Hand: Still Your Hands, and Still Your Heart



    The next day, she tried not to look for Davius. She didn’t see him at the Bee and Barb where she’d stopped for breakfast and, unusually for her, a tankard of mead, but she couldn’t help noticing Keerava’s beautiful new ring – three sparkling amethysts set in gold.


    Keerava dipped her head and murmured her thanks in response to Mjoll’s congratulations, but Talen-Jei had even more news to go with the tale of their wedding – the credit for the ring went to Davius. He’d found the flawless amethysts required for a traditional Argonian wedding band, and brought them back to Riften looking ‘quite the worse for wear,’ Talen-Jei said as he poured Mjoll’s mead, whispering so Keerava wouldn’t find out he hadn’t gone after them himself, as was also tradition.


    Davius hadn’t even accepted payment for the service.


    A few days later, Mjoll caught sight of Davius in the marketplace, carrying a large satchel. It looked like it weighed a ton, and was probably filled with stolen goods, she reminded herself, remembering how chummy he’d looked with Brynjolf.


    Those amethysts were probably stolen, too.


    But she never saw what the satchel contained, for he passed the whole thing to Grelka, unopened. Mjoll was close enough – admiring a gold necklace at Madesi’s jewelry stand – to hear the merchant’s exclamations of thanks.


    “I wanted to make the trip myself, and I could have, under normal circumstances, but…”


    Grelka let her voice trail off, but continued after a moment, her words flinty and clipped. “Look, I’m not trying to be offensive here. I’m not, but…the war’s been over, more than a year now. Shouldn’t all the soldiers, I don’t know, go home or something? All the fighting on the roads, and some of them – most of them Stormcloaks, but some Legion – attacking caravans and merchant wagons. It’s got to stop sometime, doesn’t it?”


    “War went on so long, too many of us have nowhere left to go.” Mjoll couldn’t see Davius’s face, but he answered in low tones, and she could hear anger bubbling beneath his measured reply. “A home, a family…a job. Empire doesn’t care anymore, not now they’ve won. Those soldiers were doing the only thing they knew how to, and I’m not excusing it. But I am hoping to do something about it, at least here in The Rift. It’ll take time, though.”


    Again, he refused payment.


    It went on like that for weeks – one day she’d see Davius chopping wood for Balimund or passing potions and Septims to Riften’s beggars, or delivering crates of goods to one of the merchants. Next day, she’d see him with Brynjolf, or another of Riften’s known scoundrels. Doing nothing but standing and talking, far as she could see.


    Every so often, though, she’d catch him watching her, his eyes following her across the boardwalk or down the stairs from the Keep. He’d smile and take a step toward her, like he wanted to talk. But Mjoll couldn’t stop picturing him in Guild leathers, turning that impossibly guileless smile on some wealthy woman who didn’t lock up her jewels while she slept. Or on Maven Black-Briar, over a big pile of candlelit gold.


    With that image burning a hole in her brain, she’d turn on her heel, her face red and warm, and walk as fast as she could in the other direction. The fluster his presence seemed to cause wasn’t the only thing about Davius Mjoll couldn’t work out, and she wasn’t sure which bothered her more: butterflies in her stomach like a damned schoolgirl, or the fact that she had no idea what game Davius played.


    Nothing fit, and she didn’t like pieces that didn’t fit. None of the questions revolving around the man had answers  –  what was he doing in Riften? Did he mean her city good, or ill? Was he a thief and a scoundrel, or one of the city’s protectors, like her?  


    And then, one morning, she realized she’d not seen him for days. And then, weeks.


    A month, and more.


    She started to worry, spending more and more nights patrolling near the crypt he haunted with Brynjolf. More and more evenings at the Bee and Barb, drinking too much wine and trying to figure out why she cared about some thief she barely knew.


    So he’d left Riften, like she thought he’d done in the first damned place. So what?  


    “You’re nothing if not a creature of habit, Mjoll,” Keerava said one night, wiping out a goblet behind the bar, “and although we appreciate your custom, spending so much time in a tavern is not your habit.” The Argonian was too polite and well-mannered to inquire into Mjoll’s melancholy, but her face was open and inquiring, and Mjoll’s curiosity finally won out.


    “What do you know about Davius? The ex-Legionnaire who came to town a few months ago, I mean,” she said, rubbing a nonexistent spot from the stem of her own goblet.


    “Oh, that’s an interesting question. About a very interesting man,” Keerava said, her grin flashing. “What do you want to know?”


    Mjoll’s heart beat faster. Of course Keerava knew about Davius. Keerava knew everything! Why hadn’t she asked the barmaid earlier? She tried to mask what seemed to be turning into a stupid crush behind banal curiosity. “Well, who is he? Where does he come from?”


    “Right here. Davius is a Sebastian. His family’s Thieves Guild going back generations,” Keerava said, and chuckled at Mjoll’s appalled gasp. “It’s not as bad as you think. Or, maybe it is. Before the war, his parents helped lead the guild, and Riften was a different place when they were alive. Business was business. An enterprise, not just…local terrorism. Thanks to Davius, it’s getting better. Haven’t you noticed less crime lately? When’s the last time you caught a thief nosing around the marketplace at night? Or caught one picking their way into someone’s home?”


    Mjoll stared into her goblet and frowned. It had been quiet, lately. Quiet enough that she’d gone outside the city looking for trouble on her nightly patrols, and found it – vampires, too close to the gates for comfort. She’d killed two of them with more than her usual effort, and one of their creepy black dogs.


    But in the city? She’d caught only one thief in the past month or two, and he hadn’t been one of the usual suspects – ragged trousers, homemade lockpicks. Not a professional at all. “So, he’s Thieves Guild, then? If he is, why does he do so many…I mean, I see him helping-”


    “Why does he do so much for Riften? Why does he care if he’s a low-down thief? Same reason he’s taken the Guild in hand. Killed the old Guildmaster, if rumor’s correct, and Maven Black-Briar’s none too happy about it. He was in her pocket, he was, and you know Maven – never happy until she has everything and we have nothing.”


    Keerava tipped a green bottle above Mjoll’s goblet, watching sweet red wine splash into its depths. “But Davius isn’t afraid of her. And he’s declared Riften off limits. Falkreath too, for some reason.”


    Mjoll raised her goblet, but set it down without taking a sip. “He’s told Maven to…wow. How’s she taking that?”


    Keerava chuckled louder. “Well, Maven doesn’t come in here anymore, not that we were close before, mind you. But I’ve heard she’s got her sights set on Whiterun. I take that to mean she’s just as scared of Davius as everyone else is of her.”


    “So Davius is…good?”


    “I just said Maven Black-Briar is scared of him. Terrified, if you can trust the rumor mill. What sort of man does that sound like to you?” The chime over the Bee and Barb’s front door jangled, and Keerava motioned a tall man in green mage’s robes toward an empty table before continuing, her voice a near whisper. “Week after he came to town, he shook us down, Davius did. Demanded money to take back to Mercer Frey. Threatened my family.”


    “He did not,” Mjoll gasped out, her mouth hanging open at Keerava’s somber eyes. “He really did? No, but…he and Talen-Jei are friends, aren’t they?”


    Mjoll shook her head and felt her heart fall to her feet. The puzzle pieces were fitting into place now, just not forming the picture she’d…well. She’d hoped he’d turn out to be different, that’s all. She could admit that to herself now, now that she had the answers she needed. “How could you let him back in here after that?”


    “Things aren’t simple, Mjoll. You know that. And Davius…he asked Talen-Jei how to get the money from me, quickly. No conflict. Mercer wasn’t going to leave us alone; he’d eventually send some thug, someone more interested in cutting and killing than getting paid. Davius knew. So did Talen-Jei. My family means more to me than anything, so Talen-Jei told Davius to use it.”


    Mjoll took a long drink. “How long did it take you to let Talen-Jei back in?”


    Keerava laughed then, long and loud. “He stayed away almost a week. And no, Davius knew not to come here, not after that. Then, a few weeks later, a huge crate shows up. Urns full of marshmerrow – my family grows it on their farm – along with a packet of letters and a sweet painting of my nieces. No tariff stamps. Right under Maven’s nose. Not too many could have done that.”


    She grabbed a clean rag and wiped down the bar, polishing its wooden surface to a shine. “And not long after, Davius came in the back door and walked right up to Talen-Jei. I got up to go throw him out, but he handed Talen-Jei a box. A small box, like one you’d keep jewelry in. Talen-Jei hugged Davius. Hugged him, right in the middle of the floor. And a week later he gives me this,” Keerava said, waggling her fingers and watching her amethysts sparkle in the candlelight. She eyed Mjoll across the bar.


    Mjoll sat up straight. “Wait, you knew? That Talen-Jei didn’t-”


    “I love Talen-Jei, but he’s no adventurer. And if he waited until we could afford these things, we’d never get married. So yes, I know. But I’ll never tell him.”


    Mjoll grinned at the image of Talen-Jei and Davius hugging it out in the middle of a busy tavern, and then her shoulders slumped. He’d spoken with genuine passion about helping his fellow veterans. And Mara knew he’d helped almost everyone in Riften without expecting anything in return.


    But there was no escaping it – he was a thief, and lived with thieves. Associated with thieves. Mjoll drained her wine and tried again to reconcile the two men, for that’s how she’d started thinking of him. “I don’t know what to think. He’s just so…”


    Blue eyes and a sunlit smile wavered behind her eyes, and Mjoll felt the warmth of a blush creeping up to her hairline and down her chest. “But how can I-“


    Keerava cleared her throat and peered across the bar, her brow raised in an expression Mjoll interpreted as a reprimand. Or maybe a warning. “If you try to put labels on a man like that, you’ll be nothing but disappointed. Good, bad…those ideas – those values – they just don’t mean the same things to him as they do to you.”


    Mjoll narrowed her eyes, and huffed a frustrated sigh. She wanted to argue: stealing or murder’s always wrong – it is. Davius could have chosen not to give in to Mercer’s demands. He has the power to leave his life of crime behind – he absolutely does.


    She believed it, after all. All of it.


    She’d lived it.


    But she didn’t say it, any of it, and she wasn’t sure why. Instead, she ordered a plate of bread and cheese and another bottle of wine. “Do you…do you know where he’s gone?”


    Keerava smiled and shook her head. “No. But he’ll be back. You can ask him, then.”



    Davius stifled a smile at the impeccable manners of the guards. Those who’d once considered him nothing but a mark skipped to attention and all but bowed and scraped upon his approach to the gate. Such a satisfying change in a few short months. He’d come back to Riften a relative unknown, except for his name and the shadows of his parents’ reputation, and now?


    Well now, he owned the whole fucking thing.


    Brynjolf, who’d been his own age when he’d left for the war, had proven a surprise – loyal and helpful and completely uninterested in running the Guild. When Davius killed the traitor Mercer Frey, Brynjolf tossed the title of Guildmaster his way and Davius took it with pride. And used it to wrangle the guild into the type of organization it had been during his parents’ days – and it would be better, even, once Delvin and Vex and Thrynn returned with the fabled Crown of Barenziah.


    With the Skeleton Key returned to Nocturnal and a paragon displayed in the Cistern, the Guild’s string of bad luck, years of horrible luck under Mercer’s malfeasance, was as good as over. Bigger scores, fatter coffers were on their way. Davius felt like whistling, and he might have let out a few warbles on his way to the Bee and Barb, he wasn’t sure. As soon as he saw the woman standing at the tavern’s door, all thoughts but one fled his mind like draugr ‘round a bonfire.


    Fucking magnificent.


    Davius hadn’t meant to fall for Mjoll, or anyone for that matter. Seven years into the war, he’d written his girl. ‘Move on,’ he’d told her, and she had. It was better that way – after the things he’d seen and done, he couldn’t imagine a time when he’d be good for anyone, ever again.


    But the ridiculous lessons his mother used to spout had proved true: time really did heal. Not all wounds, never that. But when he looked at Mjoll, he felt his heart beating again. He felt...something again, after years of nothing but icy numbness and helpless rage.


    It felt good, for a change. Easy and sweet, like a clear, ambling river in the midst of a deep, shady forest, its waters dappled with sunshine and fragrant with wood smoke and warm, soft grass.  


    That last bit, he mused, probably had more to do with the campsites where he’d slept during his latest journey. He’d spent long nights amid warm, soft grasses, imagining Mjoll charging into battle, sunlight gleaming off her sword and coloring her aqua eyes iridescent with righteous fury. Or meeting him at the gate, that fury softened by anticipation and passion, her color high. She’d rush into his open arms, and he’d –


    But his wildest fantasy paled to nothing in her presence. On his way over the bridge, he tried to remember what he’d planned to say, but no words came to mind. And maybe he didn’t need them. Davius simply smiled, and his heart leapt a little as she smiled back, her gaze roaming over the pack on his back and coming to rest on the weapon at his hip.


    Her smile faded. He knew what caught her attention – a frosty shimmer of enchantment on a barely-visible green blade. A badly-chipped hilt that couldn’t be comfortable in a fight – he should have taken the greatsword to Balimund before seeing Mjoll, but he hadn’t expected to meet her so soon.


    And if he was honest with himself, if he had it to do over again, he wouldn’t change a thing. Davius couldn’t put his finger on it, but he felt some strange connection between them that hadn’t been there before he left, and though he didn’t know why it was there, he wasn’t about to let another hour pass between them without acting on it.




    Mjoll spoke in a choked whisper, and stepped toward him, her wide, misty eyes shifting between his own, and the sword. “That’s, that’s Grimsever. But...”


    She reached her fingers out toward the hilt, but jerked them back just before they touched the glass, holding them as if she’d been stung. “How?”


    Davius pulled Grimsever from his belt and looked it over once more before presenting the blade to its owner. “Well, Mzinchaleft wasn’t easy to find, and it certainly wasn’t easy to navigate, but-“


    “No,” she said, holding out her hands to receive the hilt, lovingly tracing its chipped edges, “how did you know? How did you know I’d lost her?”


    Of course Mjoll would refer to her sword as a person, Davius thought. He smirked into the morning sun. “What, you can ask questions about me, but I can’t about you?”


    He held up a hand to forestall her flustered explanation. One of his lieutenants had met him early that morning at the Rift border, both to accompany him on the last leg of the journey and to fill him in on any business he’d missed in the month he’d been gone. Davius had been most interested to hear Keerava’s account of Mjoll’s queries regarding the new guildmaster. “I don’t mind. I liked it,” he said, and smiled at the pink color rising to her cheeks. Lovely, just as he’d known it would be.


    “I have something else for you.”


    Mjoll watched him dip his fingers into a small pocket at his chest, her curiosity piqued. Davius couldn’t help but chuckle a bit as he pulled out the delicate circle of gold and dropped it into her outstretched hand. Her mouth fell open, and she leaned Grimsever against the Bee and Barb’s wall.


    “Now, that one took a little more doing. A friend of mine vaguely remembered…very vaguely,” he said, squinting toward the sky and hoping Mjoll’s joy over having the ring returned would outweigh her anger at having it stolen, “possibly selling the ring to a Khajiit caravan. Maybe.”


    Mjoll wasn’t listening. She turned the ring over in her fingers and held it up to the sun. Davius watched her read the engraving. Sand elske. True love.


    When Davius had read those words, he admitted to a flare of jealousy, imagining someone, perhaps even that simpering Aerin, slipping the ring on her finger along with a kiss or two. Well, if that was true, it didn’t change Davius’s debt: he’d pledged to recover everything stolen from Riften during Mercer’s rule, and Mjoll’s ring sat at the top of that list.


    Mjoll clenched the ring in her fist and held it to her heart. She took a deep breath. “Thank you,” she said, her voice husky and low. “Thank you for Grimsever, which, I mean…I’m not sure I want to know what you fought – what you suffered – to bring her back to me. I feel like I have part of myself back, too. And thank you for this.”


    She pulled a necklace from under her bodice and untied the leather thong, looping one end of it through the ring and tying it again, tucking the ring out of sight. “It was my mother’s, and I’ve never forgiven myself for losing it. Even if it was stolen, I failed to take care of it, so the fault was mine. Thank you. I can never thank you enough.”


    “Come out with me, then,” he said, the words tumbling from his mouth before he’d thought them through.


    Davius held his breath and searched Mjoll’s face, waiting for her frown. He knew it was coming. He’d given back her two most prized possessions, and took that moment to ask for her company?


    “I didn’t mean….I wouldn’t expect –“


    “I know,” she whispered, her fingers worrying the ring through the linen of her dress. “And I wouldn’t say yes to…anything…out of obligation, have no fear of that.”


    Davius nodded and heaved his pack back onto his shoulder and turned to leave.


    Idiot. Fucking moron.


    “I’ll see you around town, then. Maybe-“




    “Yes?” Davius nearly ran into a post in his haste to turn around. “When?”


    Mjoll grinned and hefted Grimsever, resting the blade flat against her shoulder. “You invited me, errand boy. That means you make the plan.”


    “Ah. You expect to be impressed, do you?” Davius could do that. He’d only been dreaming of the chance for months, after all.


    “Yes,” Mjoll said, her smile widening. “Astonish me.”


    Art Credits: Mjoll by Khadija Boulazhar




6 Comments   |   Furrion 17 and 5 others like this.
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  August 8, 2018
    A thief with a heart of gold. Or maybe heart "for" gold? Heh. So how exactly there is less crime but the coffers are still filling? Other Holds? Legitimate business?

    Part of me is sort wondering if all he´s doing isn´t for Mjoll, to impress...  more
    • ilanisilver
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      A thief with a heart of gold. Or maybe heart "for" gold? Heh. So how exactly there is less crime but the coffers are still filling? Other Holds? Legitimate business?

      Part of me is sort wondering if all he´s doing isn´t for Mjoll, to impress her. It´s n...  more
        ·  August 8, 2018
      The roleplay profile sort of gets into his philosophy on crime. There’s still lots of crime and lots of stealing. Just not in Riften. In the game (and in the tv show the character is based on) their gang casts their nets pretty far afield. You get sent to...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  August 7, 2018
    Ah, so not so black and white. People aren't always what they seem and I can definitely see the attraction between the two. But lol, a tiny detail. Mjoll's eyes are not aqua, they are this cool, almost lion color. For me, always conveyed why she's the lio...  more
    • ilanisilver
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Ah, so not so black and white. People aren't always what they seem and I can definitely see the attraction between the two. But lol, a tiny detail. Mjoll's eyes are not aqua, they are this cool, almost lion color. For me, always conveyed why she's the lio...  more
        ·  August 7, 2018
      Right? She did have that color eyes. and here's why i changed it: all the cool artistic pics of mjoll portrayed her with either green or blue eyes. i have no idea why. so i wanted the story to match the pictures. all my screenshots of mjoll were complete ...  more
      • The Long-Chapper
        The Long-Chapper
        Right? She did have that color eyes. and here's why i changed it: all the cool artistic pics of mjoll portrayed her with either green or blue eyes. i have no idea why. so i wanted the story to match the pictures. all my screenshots of mjoll were complete ...  more
          ·  August 7, 2018
        Oh next time, just pm me. My picture for my Path of Aprax ToC was totally messed around with.  Eye color and skin color is something Karver and I mess around with using PowerPoint or photoshop or
        • ilanisilver
          The Long-Chapper
          The Long-Chapper
          The Long-Chapper
          Oh next time, just pm me. My picture for my Path of Aprax ToC was totally messed around with.  Eye color and skin color is something Karver and I mess around with using PowerPoint or photoshop or
            ·  August 7, 2018
          Thanks. i haven't figured out how to do all that even after reading karver's tutorial. i've just learned how to download fonts and use pictures as font color, so that's where I am now! :)