Story of a Breton Farm Girl from Cyrodiil, Ch.05, part 29

  • 9th of Frost Fall, 4E201

    The southern gates of Riften opened, its hinges groaning in protest at the stranger passing by. Nestled in the Fall Forest against Lake Honrich, Riften was in ancient times, a fishing village used to ferry goods into and out of Skyrim. Once the walls were built signifying the village's importance, the docks were repeatedly run over by merchants until the entire canal died inside a stranglehold of construction. What remained was a two tiered city. The upper city hinted at the riches that could be found, but one step downward revealed a rotted heart. The water in the canal supported little more than scum and its walls had long been breached by holes and whispers.

    The Nord warrior nodded at the gate guard closing the back entrance, her coin purse a little lighter. Kicking through some leaf litter, Lydia walked by the orphanage to arrive at the main concourse. Before her was the island, the section of Riften girded by the canal. An open air market filled one of the few open spaces available and barkers filled the air with cries as they worked to loosen the coin purse of every passerby. Turning right, the Nord walked along the edge and began looking for the Temple of Mara. A street urchin ran by nearly knocking himself over as he brushed by the housecarl. Lydia threw out her arm and gripped the youth by the scruff of his neck and squeezed hard, choking him into the ground. She knelt down immediately with a look of great concern. "Lad, are you alright? You took a nasty fall there. Let me help you get back up."

    The warrior kneeled on his wrist and grabbed her coin purse as the pickpocket's hand loosened in pain. Regaining her possession, she released the boy who reached up to rub his own throat, gasping for breath.

    "Oy, what’s going on here?"

    Looking up, the housecarl saw a guard approach. "Nothing much guardsman. This young man just didn't see where he was going and ran into me." She grabbed the youth by the right hand and lifted him back up, leaving a septim hidden in his palm. "There now. See? Everything is fine. Be off with you boy before you get into any real trouble..." and swatted him on the behind. The guard watched the two suspiciously as the urchin ran off still rubbing his neck while Lydia nodded at the guard and continued on her way.

    "Lydia of White Run!"

    The warrior stopped at hearing the peculiar address. She turned to look out over the canal and saw a woman standing against the rails wearing heavy iron armor and blue face paint. A young male companion stood by her side. The housecarl grinned in recognition, it was Mjoll the Lioness.

    The Nord woman walked across one of the bridges and approached the housecarl. "You haven't lost your quickness I see." nodding at the run in with the street urchin.

    "Elder sister, I see that you are well. It’s been too long since we've seen each other."

    Mjoll looked her friend up and down and nodded in satisfaction. "It seems life in a proper Nord household has treated you well. How is Irileth? Has she forgiven me yet for finding a way into Dragonsreach to rescue you?"

    Lydia smiled at the old memory. "She's long since forgiven you, but she's never forgiven herself. She inspects the bars over the lower windows each and every spring since that incident. I should be the one asking after you! You've never settled down but now I see you in Riften of all places and with ah..." Lydia cocked her head at the young man behind Mjoll.

    Mjoll responded, "Ha! This is Aerin. He rescued me outside an old Dwemer ruin and nursed me back to health. Aerin, this is Lydia. She is one of the orphans from Elinhir who crossed the Jerall Mountains with me all those years ago."

    Lydia looked to the young man and studied his features. He was an Imperial with shoulder length hair and brown eyes, typical of the breed. While barely old enough to grow a beard, there was a certain edge about him that spoke of experience. Uniquely, a silver sword hung off his waist, a fancy trinket to possess in Riften. "You saved Mjoll? Then, I owe you a great debt. If not for her, I would not be standing here today."

    The young man smiled at the address. "There can be no debt. But, you... you traveled across the Jerall Mountains at eleven years of age from Hammerfell. I am truly impressed."

    Lydia cocked an eyebrow at her elder sister. "It seems Mjoll has told you many stories of her past."

    "She has." Aerin smiled and glanced at the Lioness.

    Mjoll winked at Lydia who responded by raising her other eyebrow. What happened to 'men were best when they were just playthings'?

    Mjoll smiled and stepped closer to her friend. "Drink with me. It's been ages. I have many stories to tell and I'm interested in your tales as well. Your elder sister needs to know if life has treated you as well as you..." She stopped before finishing and looked into Lydia’s eyes and creased her forehead.

    The housecarl smiled. "I’d like nothing better. We've never drunk together as adults but I'm afraid I'm not in Riften without cause. I'm looking for my Thane."

    “I see... so, you’ve finally become a housecarl... You've lost your Thane? Perhaps I can help you in your search.”

    Lydia hesitated for a moment. “It's been years since we've seen each other sister, and to have you work to help me would be ungrateful..."

    "Nonsense! I will not have you shy away from me in this matter."

    Lydia offered a wan smile "You always had your way with your selflessness. Alright. Her name is Nephili and she's a Breton, a mage from the College of Winterhold by way of Cyrodiil. We were last together in Haemar’s Shame nearest Ivarstead. I lost sight of her there and found my way here.”

    The Lioness responded, “You're Thane is a Breton mage? It surprises me that such a one was recognized by Jarl Balgruuf. She must be a great person indeed.”

    “She is but... she struggles now, and that is why I’m here. We... well, I was unable to track her but I believe she is seeking guidance from Lady Mara. She had mentioned wanting to come to Riften while we were still up in Winterhold.”

    The Lioness wrinkled her brow. “I see, so you’re heading to the Temple. If you do not see her, come to the Bee and Barb this evening. I’ll talk to some people I know and see if anyone matching that description has passed through in the last day or so.”

    Lydia nodded. “I am grateful for the help but it seems anytime I find trouble, you are always there to help. I owe you a great deal.”

    “Lydia, I am your hearts sister, there will be no debt. You have done enough for me, more than you can know.”

    The housecarl nodded gratefully. "Then, at the Bee and Barb."

    Aerin watched the housecarl walk away and then leaned into the Lioness. “She speaks of someone arriving in the last few days, a magus.”

    Mjoll turned around and stood looking down into the canal, her hands on the rail. “It does not need to be a magician. We’ll find the monster and put an end to its miserable existence." The Lioness turned to face her companion. "I think it's time we talk to Brynjolf."

    Aerin could not hide his look of surprise. “You would talk to such a man?”

    “I must. As much as I would like to shut him down, he is suddenly the least of Riften's problems. Besides, he owes me a favor for the warning we gave. We'll ask him about the Breton and see if we can't talk our way into his good graces. There's a vampire in the sewers. Surely, he will welcome the help?"


    *     *     *     *


    Lydia stood within the dimly lit Temple of Mara. As the head chapter in Skyrim, the temple, though hemmed in by the city, was quite spacious. Darkened pews lined a single aisle that lead up to an altar. Behind it was a very tall statue of the Lady Mara, her hands opened to the pews while her face spoke of tears. Some rooms could be seen off to the side. The housecarl glanced around to see a few supplicants and some acolytes and finally made out the figure of a Priestess lighting a prayer candle in the corner. She turned around and noticed the new entrant and smiled. “Welcome to the Benevolence of Mara. All supplicants are welcome. I am Dinya Balu. How can we serve?”

    Lydia approached the Dunmer and nodded. “Priestess Balu, well met. I am Lydia of White Run, guard to Jarl Balgruuf and housecarl to a Breton Mage named Nephili. And, I am searching for her now. I was wondering if you've seen such a person enter this hall in the last days?”

    The Priestess observed the Nord for a moment. “You seek a Breton mage... I see. Where did you last see your Thane?”

    “Haemar’s Shame, a cave south of Ivarstead. Have... have you seen her?”

    The Priestess nodded in reply. “I have, my daughter. She came to me the day before yesterday seeking guidance from Lady Mara regarding a number of things including a tragedy for our order.”

    The Nord warrior let out a deep sigh relief at hearing her words. “Please, it is my duty to be by her side. Tell me where she is.”

    The Priestess gazed into Lydia’s eyes and gently smiled. “That... I cannot tell you.”

    The housecarl stood confused for an instant before collecting herself. She stood her full height and looked down at the shorter Dunmer. “Priestess, why cannot you tell me? Is it because I am a stranger in this place, not to be trusted? Or, is there something else...”

    Dinya Balu shook her head. "Your face tells me of your conscience. I do not believe that telling you her whereabouts would be a problem. Rather, I believe she does not want to be found.”



    "Why? I cannot say Lydia of White Run. There was... something in her eyes. She struck me as someone looking for something. She was unsettled."

    Lydia sank into herself as she considered this turn of events. Looking to the Priestess again, she spoke, "Can you at least tell me if she left the city?"

    "I'm sorry. I cannot say if she did. But, if I see her again, I will let her know that you seek her."


    *     *     *     *

    "Not all those who wander are lost."


  • ricardo maia
    ricardo maia   ·  October 4, 2012
    I`m waiting to see how the thieves` guild will gonna fit in the complex plot you're weaving by tying all those subplots in the game to your tale.
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 3, 2012
    Oh, I did not have a problem with it, I was just curious if it had something to so with her losing herself, and part of one's self can be identified with one's name.  Maybe one of those subconscious kind of things ya know.
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 3, 2012
    I didn't intentionally mean to avoid using her name. To Lydia, Nephili is always Thane, first and foremost. Apparently, I've let that seep into my dialogue. I dropped in the name where appropriate. Thanks for the read!
    Let's see if I can't drop anot...  more
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 3, 2012
    Since I have not completed that quest, it will be news to me.  I am in the dark on that one, and happy to be so!
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 3, 2012
    I suppose I'll have to tackle that next. I think I'm taking for granted what I believe to be the only obvious conclusion to the Clavicus Vile quest for a self loathing vampire.
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 3, 2012
    This is certainly an interesting turn of events, and Lydia must be beside herself.  Curious how Nephili escaped and what happened, but I am sure you will take care of that.  Why does no one refer to her by her name...just Breton mage?  If no one can call ...  more