The skies above the city thundered with a deafening roar that shouted “Dovahkiin!” Balgruuf was standing on the Great Porch when he heard it and looked at his younger brother. Their faces were full of curiosity, the two of them being well taught in the stories of old. Balgruuf looked toward the area of the Western Watchtower but the only thing he saw was the rising smoke from the destruction. “do you think that’s connected, brother?” he heard Hrongar ask. He shrugged. “Possibly. The dragons have returned, is it too much to consider that the Dragonborn would be seen again as well?”
Hrongar walked toward his brother. “What do you think this means?”
“I don’t know, but one thing I am sure of is that nothing will ever be the same.”
Meliandra took a deep breath, then opened the door to Dragonsreach. It was quieter than she had expected it to be with her footfalls echoing off the walls. She glanced around and saw the hall nearly empty. She caught sight of Proventus exiting the kitchen and heading for the stairs next to the throne. Just as she was about to call out to him, he turned to look at her.
“Ah, you’re back. Good. The jarl’s been waiting for your return. Come with me; I’ll take you to him.”
They followed the older man up the stairs and out the giant doors off to the side. She saw Balgruuf and his brother sitting at the table far off in the sun. They seemed deep in conversation, almost unaware of the Breton approaching. She glanced at Vorstag and mouthed to him, “Not a word.” Then looked back toward the jarl.
“You heard the summons. What else could it mean? The Greybeards…” Balgruuf trailed off as he turned to see Meliandra approaching. Something in his eyes told her that he knew something had happened. Hrongar, turning to see what had gotten a hold of his brother’s attention, began to smile as Meliandra approached the two of them. “My brother and I were just talking about you.”
“I’m sure it was pure exaggeration,” she said flatly as she stared at Balgruuf.
The blond jarl eyed her. “What happened at the Watchtower?” he asked. “Was the dragon there?”
“Yeah, there was a dragon there. I dealt the deathblow. I think I deserve a reward.”
“there’s no question about that, Meliandra. Killing a dragon, that was a mighty deed. You’ve earned a place of honor among the heroes of Whiterun.” He leaned closer to her from his seat at the table. “But there must be more to it than that. Did something…strange…happen when the dragon died?”
The look in her eyes grew cold and hard as she realized she would have to tell the jarl what had happened at the watchtower. “when the dragon died I absorbed some kind of power from it. The men started to call me ‘Dragonborn’.”
He sat back, his arms in front of him. “So, it’s true. The Greybeards seem to think you’re Dragonborn as well, that was them summoning you.”
She shook her head. “Greybeards? Who are they?”
“they’re masters of the Way of the Voice. They live in seclusion high on the slopes of the Throat of the World.”
“What do they want with me?” she asked annoyedly.
He sighed as he ran his hand down his beard. “The Dragonborn is said to be uniquely gifted in the Voice – the ability to focus your vital essence into a Thu’um, or Shout. If you really are Dragonborn, they can teach you how to use your gift.”
“Didn’t you hear the thundering sound as you returned to Whiterun?” the younger brother asked. “that was the voice of the Greybeards, summoning you to High Hrothgar! This hasn’t happened in… centuries, at least. Not since Tiber Septim himself was summoned when he was still Talos of Atmora.”
The steward scolded the Thane. “Hrongar, calm yourself. What does any of this Nord nonsense have to do with our friend here? Capable as she may be, I don’t see any signs of her being this, what, ‘Dragonborn’.”
“Nord nonsense? Why you puffed-up ignorant…” Hrongar moved to get up from his seat, only the jarl’s out-stretched hand stayed the man. “These are our sacred traditions that go back to the founding of the Empire!”
“Hrongar,” Balgruuf chided, resting his chin upon his hand, “don’t be so hard on Avenicci.”
The steward spoke up, “I meant no disrespect, of course. It’s just… what do these Greybeards want with her?”
Balgruuf shook his head at his steward. “that’s the Greybeard’s business, not ours.” He looked at her, pausing a moment before saying, “Come with me, Meliandra. I wish to speak to you alone.”
She motioned to Vorstag that she was fine then followed the man to his personal quarters. He was quiet on the walk there, for which she was grateful for but at the same time found herself uneasy at his silence. He shut the doors behind her, his hand resting on the wood for a moment, hesitating before turning to face her.
He looked upon her with new eyes, this young Breton he had bedded with lust in his heart and who he had claimed forcibly. He held her eyes as he asked, “Are you familiar with the stories of the Dragonborn by chance?”
“Only a little,” she answered, unsure of the direction he was going.
“The Dragonborn heroes of old would use the power of their voice to defeat the enemies of Skyrim. In the very oldest of tales, back when there were still dragons in Skyrim, the Dragonborn would slay dragons and steal their power.” He slowly approached her as he continued, “Wulfharth was Dragonborn. Talos, too – the founder of the Empire, back in the good old days.” He stood before her, reaching out and gently holding her arms, continued, “With the return of the dragons, what this land needs the most is a hero, like the Dragonborn.” He took her chin between his forefinger and thumb, tilting her head up to him. “Whatever happened when you killed that dragon, it revealed something in you, and the Greybeards heard it. If they think that you’re Dragonborn, who are we to argue?” He leaned in to kiss her lips.
She returned the kiss but it lacked any feeling for her. She would respond to him but only because the fight wasn’t worth it. She felt him pull her into an embrace; he held her gently, almost lovingly. She found herself giving into his desire despite herself. His hands eventually found their way to the lacing on her clothing, his fingers quickly loosening them adeptly. His want grew within and built up hotly as he undressed her, his tongue taking possession of her mouth. His murmurs o adoration against her body took the form of apologies as he kissed her bruised skin, slowly building up her own desire until she was clawing at his back, begging him to fuck her.
Brynjolf sat on the edge of the docks, the night sky darker than normal with heavy cloud cover, the perfect type of night for burglary. But instead of working he sat here with his thoughts on Meliandra. He had never felt so alone, had never felt like he was on a desolate road that he’d walk forever alone. He had never realized how empty he had felt until Meliandra left his side. He realized too late what she had truly meant to him; how he wished he could go back in time and have a chance to make different decisions. He just wanted the chance to make things right with her.
He heard the creaking of the board and glanced behind him to see Delvin walking up to him. The older man had always come across as an uncle figure to him, full of fatherly advice, willing to put you in your place if you needed it and always the one you wanted to sit back and enjoy a night of drinking with. “What can I do you for, Delvin?” he asked once the man was a few steps behind him.
“Thought I’d check on you. You’ve been quiet as of late, and you’re often seen sitting outside the city, watching the roads.” He sat down beside him. “Waiting for her to get back isn’t going to make her get here any sooner, Bryn.”
The redhead looked at him. “That obvious, eh?”
Delvin nodded. “Yeah, the entire crew is getting concerned about you.”
“I had the most valuable prize anyone could ever want and I lost it because I didn’t realize just what exactly I had until it was too late.” He shrugged. “How does one pick up and move on knowing that they will never had that one beautiful person in their life again, especially when they work together?”
“How do you know that you’ll never have her back?” He pulled out a couple bottles of mead from the pack that he had brought out with him and handed one to Bryn. “You gotta prove to her that you want to be with her, that what happened with Vex was truly an accident and that it will never happen again. You need to prove to her that she can trust you again and the best way to do that is to be by her side, have her back, be supportive of her.”
Brynjolf opened his bottle and took a long pull off it. “I know this, Delvin, and I will be supportive of her. I just don’t think there’s any chance of her ever forgiving me.” He took another long pull off the bottle. “And I honestly don’t blame her either.”
“Stop being so hard on yourself, kid. Meliandra is a smart girl, she’s going to come around eventually. What you and she have,” he shook his head, “ain’t too many people who get that kind of love.”
“Love?” Brynjolf echoed. “I haven’t even admitted that to myself, old man.”
Delvin laughed. “This old man has seen it enough times to know what it is when it appears. And that’s what you got for Meliandra. Now you just have to man up and be patient while she learns to put her faith in you again, you dirty scoundrel.”
Balgruuf watched as Meliandra dressed, enjoying the curves of her frame. He appetite was sated for now, but the more he watched her nakedness move around his room, the more he wanted to indulge in her again. He sighed knowing that he could not. He sat up and began to dress, saying, “You’ve done a great service for me and my city, Meliandra. I promised you a reward for all that you’ve done for Whiterun.” He topped and looked at her, a serious look on his face. “There’s only one reward that is fitting for all that you have done for this city and that is to grant you thane hood. It’s the greatest honor that’s within my power to grant. I’m assigning Lydia to you as your own personal Housecarl. I’ll introduce you two before you leave for High Hrothgar.”
“What do you mean, ‘excuse me’? The Greybeards have summoned you. There’s no refusing the summons of the Greybeards. It is a tremendous honor.” He paused a moment, a distant look in his eyes. “I envy you, Meliandra. To climb the 7000 Steps again…” He shook his head with a smile playing on his lips. “I made the pilgrimage once. High Hrothgar is a very peaceful place. Very…disconnected from the troubles of this world. I wonder that the Greybeards even notice what’s going on down here. They haven’t seemed to care before.” He stood in front of her now, pulling her close to him. “No matter. Go to High Hrothgar. Learn what the Greybeards can teach you. Then come home to Dragonsreach.” He leaned in and kissed her once more, unsure of when he would see her again.