Rikke’s Search

Tullius stared at Rikke in disbelief.  “Another one?” he repeated, anger edging his voice.

The Legate stood in front of the general’s desk, her back ramrod straight, her eyes forward.  She had been listening to the Imperial general rant about Stormcloak and his rebels for most of the morning, something that he did quite frequently.  She had not looked forward to having to inform the man that another one of his officers had been found with his throat cut open and that once again no one had gotten a good enough look at the woman he had brought to his bed.

“Yes, sir,” she answered in a clipped tone.

“Just what kind of people support Ulfric? They’re rabid animals!  Just listen to the reports! The neck is cut so badly, the head is nearly severed!  The last one had his tongue removed, the list goes on and on!  I thought you Nords were a civilized people!”

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath before asking her superior, “Have any of the victims had any idea what we’re searching for?”

The general shook his head.  “Thankfully, no.  Not many people know about this wild goose chase of yours you have us on.  If my superiors back in Cyrodiil knew that I was wasting men and resources on this, they’d pull me out of here so fast…. And heads would roll.”

“Trust me, Sir.  We will find it.  And we want to find it before Stormcloak does.”

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Orders and Obligations

Pushing the heavy door open slightly, he saw the raven-haired assassin asleep in the large bed, the fur blankets covering her body, one arm tucked across her stomach while the other was stretched across the bed. As both an assassin with the Dark Brotherhood as well as being the Guild Master for the Thieves guild, he knew she had anything but a peaceful life, but as he gazed at her lying there before him, he would never have known it by the look of peace and serenity on her face. Looking upon the painted lips, he remembered the taste of mead upon them as he had given way to his temptation and had placed his lips upon hers; he yearned to imbibe of those lips once more.

“Are you going to just stand there and stare at me?” Meliandra’s sarcastic voice said, breaking the silence.

Startled for but a moment, he found himself at a loss for words. He shrugged, a slight smile appearing upon his face as he stepped into the room, closing the door behind him, leaving it slightly ajar. “I was not aware that you had returned; forgive me for the intrusion.”

She opened her eyes and looked at him, amusement clearly written on her face. “I wouldn’t be very good at my job if people always knew that I was there.” She sighed as she sat up, the furs dropping from her revealing her half-dressed lithe figure. She met his eyes as she continued saying, “Once the storm let up last night, I made my way here. Jorleif was up when I got here and saw to my immediate needs.”

He nodded, watching her as she walked over to a chair that held a leather knapsack and began rummaging through it. His eyes could not help but follow the length of her legs, appreciating the defined muscle of her calves; in his mind he saw her legs wrapped around him and he forced the ensuing images from his head as he cleared his throat.

A turbulent storm had rolled through the northern lands of Skyrim late the previous day, the fierce boreal winds bringing a blistery snowfall that blinded any who ventured out from the shelter of their homes.  This having followed a smaller storm made Ulfric edgy knowing that these storms were the cause of Meliandra’s delayed return to his city.  Frustrated, the jarl had retired to his chambers early and had remained there until morning.  As he laid in his bed staring at the ceiling that morning, he hoped that the weather would be cooperative enough to bring the Breton back.  Not only did he feel she was the best suited for this mission, but he needed to satisfy his obsession and see her again, despite her running from his kiss.

Throwing the snow bear fur blanket off him, he sat up, the cold bite of the air hitting his half naked body, the crispness making him more alert as he swung his toned legs off the bed and stretched, the muscles in his back and shoulders rippling beneath the still taut yet aging skin.  He felt the age in his bones, saw it in his eyes as he glanced at his reflection in the mirror on his wall.  Again, he found himself fearing that he would leave this world childless, no heir to pass the throne to.  Once again, he felt a pang of anger and loss at the memory of the discovery that his former lover Mila had killed the unborn babe he had put in her.

He began dressing, opting for one of his thicker cloaks to combat the chill he felt more and more as he grew older.  He slipped his rings upon his fingers and left his chambers.  The sconces lit the passageways with flickering light, casting shadows that danced upon the stone-faced walls as he made his way toward the entrance to the main hall.  He noticed there were a few more maids in the hall than usual but he chalked it up to the expected arrival of Meliandra and continued walking on.  It wasn’t until he heard the crackling of a fire just beyond the door to her chambers that he realized the real reason he had seen more maids.

Pushing the heavy door open slightly, he saw the raven-haired assassin asleep in the large bed, the fur blankets covering her body, one arm tucked across her stomach while the other was stretched across the bed.  As both an assassin with the Dark Brotherhood as well as being the Guild Master for the Thieves guild, he knew she had anything but a peaceful life, but as he gazed at her lying there before him, he would never have known it by the look of peace and serenity on her face. Looking upon the painted lips, he remembered the taste of mead upon them as he had given way to his temptation and had placed his lips upon hers; he yearned to imbibe of those lips once more.

“Are you going to just stand there and stare at me?” Meliandra’s sarcastic voice said, breaking the silence.

Startled for but a moment, he found himself at a loss for words.  He shrugged, a slight smile appearing upon his face as he stepped into the room, closing the door behind him, leaving it slightly ajar.  “I was not aware that you had returned; forgive me for the intrusion.”

She opened her eyes and looked at him, amusement clearly written on her face.  “I wouldn’t be very good at my job if people always knew that I was there.”  She sighed as she sat up, the furs dropping from her revealing her half-dressed lithe figure.  She met his eyes as she continued saying, “Once the storm let up last night, I made my way here.  Jorleif was up when I got here and saw to my immediate needs.”

He nodded, watching her as she walked over to a chair that held a leather knapsack and began rummaging through it.  His eyes could not help but follow the length of her legs, appreciating the defined muscle of her calves; in his mind he saw her legs wrapped around him and he forced the ensuing images from his head as he cleared his throat.  “Yes, Jorleif is a blessing and always has been invaluable to my family.”

“I can see why,” she answered as she pulled clothing from her pack and began to dress.  “So are you going to tell me why you sent for me?”

Nodding, he responded, “Straight to the business at hand.  Good.”  He sat in a chair by the door and continued, “I need you to do some reconnaissance on Legion troops.”

She smiled as she laced up her boots before pulling a tunic over her head.  “Sounds like fun.  What am I looking for?”

Ulfric sat back in the chair, steepling his fingers before him.  “Orders.”

She raised an eyebrow.  “Can you be a bit more specific?”

“We’ve had reports of Imperial movements on the fringes of holds loyal to our cause.  Despite men being sent in to infiltrate the enemy’s camps, none have succeeded.”

“And this is where I come in.”

Ulfric nodded, a smile on his face.  “Very astute, Meliandra.”  He folded his hands in front of him, continuing, “Seeing how you’re the only person to ever break into my personal armory and walk out with my father’s rings, you are by far the most qualified to get in and out without being seen.”

She smiled at him, a mischievous look in her eyes.  “Getting into Legion camps are not a problem.”

“Oh?” he asked, curious.  “Why is that?”

She smiled.  “A woman has her ways.”

“Wait, are you…”  He trailed off a moment as he recalled some of the reports he had come across.  “You’re the one that’s murdering Legion soldiers, aren’t you?”

Her smile remained yet he noticed the shadowed look that came to her eyes.  “A few less soldiers that you need to worry about.”

He began to rub his forehead with his thumb and forefinger then looked at her.  “I need you to do this without being seen.  I do not need you to get caught, especially with a price on your head.”

She looked surprised.  “What’s the bounty?”

A frustrated look spread on his face.  “Two hundred.  And knowing the Empire, they will take your head.  Or have or forgotten what it was like to have the executioner’s axe above your neck?”

She glared at him, but he knew that he had made his point.  “I need to take care of a few things while I’m in town, replenish some of my travel supplies, that kind of thing.”

He nodded, a smile in his eye.  “How’s that swing of yours?  Have you worked on your grip?”

She looked away from him but not before he saw a flash of red creep into her cheeks.  “Some; I’ve switched up my choice of weapon as of late.”

He saw the ebony dagger on the end table and responded, “Preferring that sentimental piece?”

She chuckled slightly.  “I always have that piece.  And yes, I do know how to work it properly.  But no, I’ve picked up a new set of weapons.”  Looking at him, she continued, “Perhaps one day you’ll see me use them, but in all honesty, Sir, I hope you don’t.”  She smiled broadly as she picked up her pack.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, the sooner I get restocked, the sooner you’ll have the information you need.”

#

Meliandra walked past the Windhelm jarl as she exited her rooms, her head held high, her heart threatening to leap from her throat.  He had not dismissed her, had not said that he was done speaking with her, yet she had taken the liberty to leave his presence, something no one of her lowly status got away with.  Yet she knew he would let it slide, for she had seen the look in his eyes, the look of testing the waters one stood in, mixed the look of hunger.  The way his eyes had lingered on her, the way they traced her image into his mind, she had seen those looks plenty from many a man.  He was just one more.

But while she had had many men, many lovers, while she found herself attracted to the rugged, mature Nord, even longing to feel his hands upon her once more, she knew that she could not let Ulfric number amongst her lovers.  If he ever found out her secrets, she knew she could never escape him or his anger.  No, she knew she needed to keep as much distance between the two of them as possible, regardless of any feelings she might have.

Once she had made her way through the Palace and outside, she made her way to the market and spoke with Niranye.  After making her purchases she went to Aval’s stall and bought some meats before heading to the Aretino home.  Aventus was excited to see his benefactor again and exploded with his usual questions of what adventures she had had.  His interest of her work made her smile, but it worried her.  “Aventus,” she said calmly, “why do you stay here all alone?  Why not go back to Honorhall now that Grelod is dead?  Don’t you miss your friends there?”

The boy shrugged.  “Yeah, I do, but… I don’t want to be adopted.  I mean, I did, but not anymore.”

“Why not?”

“Because, if I’m adopted I might never see you again.”

“Now why do want to keep seeing me, kid?” she asked, surprised.

“Because you’re the only person I know who can help me become an assassin and help others.”

She stared at him, her jaw slightly agape.  “Why would you want to be an assassin?”

“Why did you become one?”

She shook her head.  “My reasons are my own.  You’ve got a lot of options besides an assassin.”

“What options are there for a runaway orphan?  A stable boy forced to live with the farm animals?  Living off scraps?  Please, if my pa and my ma hadn’t died, I would be enlisting as a Stormcloak in a couple years, but… I’m supposed to be at Honorhall.”

“So, what?  You’re going to stay here, living off my generosity?”

“I never asked for you to take care of me; you just keep coming here with food and stuff.  What do you expect me to do?  Let the food go to waste?”

She sighed as she stared at him, shaking her head slightly.  “Good point.”  She took a drink of her mead, thinking about the spot she found herself in.  “Fine,” she finally said.  “You win.  I’ll make sure you have everything you need; I’ll think about the assassin part.”

The boy smiled broadly.  “Yes!”

“I said I’d think about it.”

“Continuing to smile, he said, “Did you know that the other Shatter-Shield sister was killed?”

She glanced at him from the corner of her eye.  “Oh?  That’s too bad.  Tova must be beside herself with grief.”

“Yeah, so much grief she killed herself.”

She looked at the boy, her eyebrow raised.  “Guilt does funny things to people.”  Smiling she said, “I should pass on my condolences.”

“You did it, didn’t you?”

She smiled at the boy as she picked out an apple and took a bite from it.  She gathered her belongings and headed for the door.  “See you next time, kid.”

#

The gates to the city shut behind her with a thud.  Pulling the hood to her cloak closer to her face, she headed across the bridge out of Windhelm.  Behind her, a sellsword, one she had met months ago when she had been investigating the Butcher murders.  Finding him still in Windhelm at the inn and her being in need of a new traveling companion, she laid down the coin for his blade at her side.  She knew she could not trust this man with the secret of her being Dragonborn; he talked too much.  But for her needs, he would do.

Storms

He picked out an ale from his pack and held it for a moment, staring at it as he grappled with his emotions.  Her steps got closer, he swore he could smell the floral perfumes she liked to wear; he swallowed the lump that had appeared in his throat, and held the ale out to the side and said, “Why don’t you put that dagger away and have an ale with me, lass?”

The silence echoed off the stone walls before he heard her steps approaching him.  From the corner of his eye, he saw Meliandra sit on the log next to him; he glanced over as she slipped the ebony dagger back into its sheath then placed it in her pack which she had set down next to her.  A guard look in her amber eyes, she met his, bringing the painful memory of the last time that they had seen other to his mind.  Knowing what he knew now, he wished he could take back those words he had spoken. 

“You know me too well, Bryn,” she said with a small smile. 

“I oughtta know you that well; you’ve held that very blade to my own neck before.”

The storm drove Brynjolf into the first cave he had come across.  He had found a part of the cave off from the rest of it that was dry and had apparently been home to a hunter or nomad at one time evidenced by the cooking pots he had discovered in the ashes of a long cold fire pit.  He found plenty of dry wood and began to build a fire.  He reached into his pack and found the dried meat and bread he had packed before leaving Riften and began to eat.  He was not fond of traveling up north; Nord or not, he was no fan of the snow and cold.

A scuttling sound caught his attention as he turned to look around his little section of this cave.  He slowly drew his dagger as his eyes adjusted to the dim light revealing a plump rabbit sitting amongst the grass.  He looked at the meat in his hand then back at the rabbit and smiled.  His dagger flew from his hand smoothly, the blade embedding itself in the rabbit’s chest, a squeak dying as quickly as the rabbit did.  Moments later, his skilled hands were skinning the creature and getting it ready to be put on a makeshift spit; his mouth was watering as he thought of freshly killed rabbit being his meal for the night.

As the rabbit cooked over the fire, he found himself thinking about the things he had learned in the past week and once again he found himself at a loss, his mind tormented with the endless what ifs and if onlys that come with the many regrets of life.  He thought of Meliandra, the young Breton who had unexpectedly stolen his heart before he had made a complete mess of things because of an insecure Vex.  Though he had wanted to make things right, had even tried to, they both had seemingly left that relationship deeply scarred.

In the silence, the sound of rocks skittering down the slight incline beyond this room of the cave was noticeable.  He quickly extinguished the campfire and pulled back into the shadows, watching the entrance for the coming movement he knew he would see shortly.

His breath caught as he recognized the raven-haired intruder; she looked as beautiful as she did the day he met her.  The months he had not seen her had changed her slightly; there was a darkness about her that he had glimpsed all those months ago when she killed Mercer Frey.  He sat on the log by the fire again, placing his back to her; his thoughts were racing.

He picked out an ale from his pack and held it for a moment, staring at it as he grappled with his emotions.  Her steps got closer, he swore he could smell the floral perfumes she liked to wear; he swallowed the lump that had appeared in his throat, and held the ale out to the side and said, “Why don’t you put that dagger away and have an ale with me, lass?”

The silence echoed off the stone walls before he heard her steps approaching him.  From the corner of his eye, he saw Meliandra sit on the log next to him; he glanced over as she slipped the ebony dagger back into its sheath then placed it in her pack which she had set down next to her.  A guard look in her amber eyes, she met his, bringing the painful memory of the last time that they had seen other to his mind.  Knowing what he knew now, he wished he could take back those words he had spoken.

“You know me too well, Bryn,” she said with a small smile.

“I oughtta know you that well; you’ve held that very blade to my own neck before.”

Her smile turned into a smirk as she remembered, turning to face him again.  “You were ready to kill me. You may very well would have if you didn’t let your feelings get in the way.”

He nodded in agreement.  Aye, that I did, lass.  But I don’t think you have that much of a problem with that though.”

Chuckling, she agreed.  She took the ale from him and began to drink.  She motioned to the extinguished fire and rabbit, asking, “So, you going to finish cooking that thing or are you just going to let the smell torment our stomachs?”

“Oh, so you think you can barge on up into my cave and then you expect me to cook you something?” he teased.  “What, you think that because you’re the Guild Master you can just expect that of me?”

He was rewarded with a laugh and a smile, which he discovered that he had missed greatly.  He gestured to the campfire and asked, “Perhaps you’d like to oblige us both with starting the fire with a bit of your magic?”

“Are you becoming lazy in my absence?” she asked as she cast a flame spell into the ashes, reigniting the embers and bringing the fire roaring back to life.

“Lazy?” he repeated, a laugh hidden in his voice.  “No, definitely not lazy, Meli.”

“Of course not,” she answered, a look of avoidance to her eyes.  “How’s the Guild doing?”

He nodded as he answered, telling her of the growth they had seen with new recruits and even new merchants setting up shop in the Ragged Flagon.  As they spoke, he realized how much he had missed her and resisted his desire to tell her as much; he doubted that she’d even want to listen to anything he had to say about their relationship, both the past one and this strained estrangement they found themselves in.

Soon, they had eaten the rabbit, washed down with bottles of ale they both had in their packs.  They talked into the night and into the early hours of morning, as they often had when they had first become lovers.  Soon, he became aware of the Breton’s head resting on his shoulder and looked down to see that she had fallen asleep next to him.

He smiled slightly as he kissed the top of her head, whispering, “Always and forever, lass, always and forever.”

#

“What do you mean she has to go?  You going to banish her from the family?”

Astrid laughed, bitterly.  “You would like that.  You’d prefer that, wouldn’t you?”

“I’d prefer what?  And to what?”  He paused then stared at her in disbelief.  “To her being dead?  Is that what you’re getting at, Astrid?  You want Meliandra dead?”

“We are in the business of death, Arnbjorn.”

The coldness of her words took him aback, so shocked was he at the depth of his wife’s hatred for the recruit she had brought in.  “You would break our own code to rid yourself of her?”  His words echoed off the walls of their room, the closed door giving them privacy.

“You would keep her here amongst us?”

“We don’t have any say in the matter, wife.”

“Says who?” she retorted.

Shaking his head, Arnbjorn walked out of their room, his thoughts angry.  He ignored the Argonian assassin as he stormed out of the Sanctuary, shifting into a werewolf as he took off in an angry run.

#

Galmar had watched as Jorleif made the preparations to the chambers Ulfric had seen fit to provide Meliandra with; his distrust of the Breton thief was well known by those close to Ulfric and many had chosen to stay clear of the general when they learned that Meliandra was returning to the Palace.  Ulfric had willingly agreed to his demands of more patrols and a guard posted by Meliandra’s door though once again he refused to assign an escort to the woman.

He walked around the room, looking for any way the trained thief and assassin could get out of the palace unbeknownst to anyone on the inside.  While Ulfric leaned to trusting her, Galmar felt the jarl’s view was biased because of his attraction to the woman.  Galmar saw her as untrustworthy, especially because of her apparent successes where the enemy was concerned, but Ulfric put more faith in her than Galmar believed he should.

Satisfied for the moment, the general turned, leaving the chambers behind.

#

She awoke to the sound of Brynjolf humming some song she wasn’t familiar with, the words of the chorus seemingly the only part he vocalized.  She smiled as she lay on the hay pile she found herself on as recollections of nights wrapped in the Nord’s warm embrace as he softly sang to her.  She laid there for a while, enjoying the moment while forgetting the things that weighed heavily upon her mind and soul.  She let her mind wander with thoughts of a different life, one that had her living happily with a husband and child on a small farm where she could grow what crops she needed for her potion making.

The parchedness of her throat drove her to finally sit up, her eyes opening to see the redheaded thief sitting on the log an arm’s length away from her.  He smiled at her softly as he said, “Morning, sunshine.  Hungry?”  he held a plate toward her with cooked salmon.

Her taste buds immediately salivated as her stomach gave a grumble.  “Where’d you get the fish?” she asked as she made her way to the log, picking up the tankard of water along the way.

“Stream outside, not far from the cave; I was following it yesterday when the storm hit.  I knew that rabbit last night wouldn’t be enough to hold either one of us too long this morning so I went out and caught a few.”

“How’s the storm?”  she inquired as she took a bite of the flaky fish, savoring the taste of the fish.

“Died down to nothing sometime this morning; was calm outside when I ventured out to get us some fish.”  He cleared his throat then said, “You never said where you were headed, lass.”

“Windhelm,” she replied flatly.

He nodded.  “Job for Stormcloak?”

She shrugged.  “Not sure; he sent a letter via courier requesting met o return, he didn’t go into detail.”

“Be careful going up there, Meli.  The Empire isn’t playing around with this rebellion of his.”

She smiled at her former lover, knowing that he still cared greatly for her.  “I will,” she promised him before changing the subject.  “What about you?  What are you doing up this way?”

“Winterhold; going to pay a visit to Enthir about some Guild matters, nothing serious, though, so no need to worry.”

They sat there, talking for a bit, both having business to take care of but neither wanting to leave the company of the other.  It was Brynjolf who finally began getting his things together to leave.  Taking her cue from him, she began to get ready as well and soon they were exiting the cave together and biding each other farewell.  As they parted ways, she found herself once more thinking of that family she always wanted, and more and more, she found herself wishing it would be Brynjolf that she settled down and built a family with.

Letters

It was dark as she ventured further in; she cast a detect life spell and searched for the visual aura of any living creature she’d see.  Slowly she made her way through the cave, casting her spell every so often.  Suddenly, she stopped.  She glanced around cautiously; then, muffling her steps, she crept along.  The smell of cooked meat hung heavy in the air, making her stomach grumble in protest.  By the smell of a freshly extinguished fire, she knew someone else was in the cave somewhere. 

Amaund Motierre sat cross-legged on the fur covered hay pile, eating roasted chicken and bread; miserable that after over half a year he had received no answer to his prayers to the Night Mother.  He had performed the ritual so many times he knew it by heart and could probably perform it in his sleep, the once squeamish reactions he had once had to the flesh and blood now no longer affected him.  He had grown tired of the wait and had begun to wonder if the Dark Brotherhood was losing the glory they had once seen centuries previous.

Suddenly a Shout echoed through the tomb, shattering the eerie silence that he and Rex had become accustomed to.  The sounds of metal crashing against metal reverberated against the walls, coming closer to their locked chamber.  Amaund looked at his bodyguard nervously.  Rex set his food down, stood up, then walked toward the door, anxiously waiting.

Silence set in, but it was anything but calm.  Amaund became hyper aware of evert sound his ears picked up, his breathing, Rex’s breathing, the sound of his own heartbeat pounding in his chest, the blood rushing in his ears.  Then he heard scratching on the door, no in the keyhole.  Someone was picking the lock.  His heartbeat accelerated; he swore his heart was going to burst out of his chest.  The cylinder was turning, he could hear it.  Slowly, the sound of creaking continued until it stopped with the audible sound of the door unlocking.  Amaund’s heart was now attempting to leap through his throat.

Slowly, the door creaked open.

#

Ulfric sat at his desk, reviewing reports.  More soldiers lost, either killed or captured.  More land lost, the Legion occupying more and more of the small villages in the holds supportive of the cause.  And although there were more reports of dragon attacks, confirmed sightings of the Dragonborn were far and few in-between.  He sighed heavily as he opened a letter, this from a post in Whiterun.  He sat up as he read, the corner of his lips turning into a slight smile.  A day previous, a courier had arrived with a letter from Solaf reporting that Meliandra had been given his letter.  This letter told him that the Breton had been encountered going through the Hold and it was found she was traveling north to Winterhold.

Pouring himself a drink, he began to make plans for the assassin’s arrival.  He would have Jorleif prepare the room he had placed her in before, fresh bedding, fresh firewood, a supply of candles and oil for lanterns.  Knowing Galmar’s extreme distrust of the woman, he knew he’d have to agree to his demands of a guard posted outside the room with an increase of patrols through these passageways.  He glanced across the hall, thinking of the chambers beyond those walls that would soon house a woman whose loyalty, though sworn to him, he did not know if he could put his faith in.  She was also a woman he had found himself obsessed with despite his repeated attempts to put his growing feelings for her aside.  She intrigued him, fascinated him in a way no woman ever had before.  There was a mysterious air about her, it hinted at a life kept secret from others, something she was afraid of, or was it something she was ashamed of?

He drank from his tankard, his thoughts returning to the reports in front of him.  He sighed heavily as he picked one up and began to read again.

#

Meliandra stepped into the dusty chambers, lowered the hood on her cloak, and looked directly at the finely dressed man behind the guard.  Tilting her head to the side, she smiled as she said, “You look surprised, Amaund.  Did you think the Night Mother has not heard your incessant prayers?”

He laughed as he approached her, ignoring the look of caution on his bodyguard’s face.  “Actually, I was beginning to think that the Bark Brotherhood had fallen out of favor with her.”

Meliandra’s smile grew even larger.  “Perhaps it is the Motierre family that has fallen out of her favor.  It has been quite a while since one of your family served the Night Mother.  What is it that you ask of us?”

“I’d like to arrange a contract.  Several, actually.  I daresay, the work I’m offering has more significance than anything your organization has experienced in, well, centuries.”

Meliandra looked irritated.  “Get to it, little man.”

“Please, allow me to state my business.  Surely your time is as valuable as mine.  As I said, I want you to kill several people.  You’ll find the targets, as well as their manners of elimination, quite varied.  I’m sure someone of your disposition will probably even find it enjoyable.  But you should know that these killings are but a means to an end.  For they pave the way to the most important target.  The real reason I’m speaking with a cutthroat in the bowels of this detestable crypt.  For I seek the assassination of… the Emperor.”

She smiled.  “Leaders rise and fall.  Business is business.”

“You don’t know how happy I am to hear you say that.  So much has led to this day.  So much planning, and maneuvering.  Now you’re here, as if the very stars have finally aligned.  But I digress.  Here, take these.  They need to be delivered to your, um, … superior.  Rexus.”  He motioned for his bodyguard.  “The items.”

The man approached cautiously, handing over a sealed letter with a fine pouch.  She accepted them without taking her eyes off the man.

“The sealed letter will explain everything that needs to be done.  The amulet is quite valuable – you can use it to pay for any and all expenses.”

She nodded and slipped the letter and amulet in her pouch on her hip.  Turning on hr heel, she exited the dusty chamber, continuing on her journey.

#

General Tullius sat at the table in his rooms at Castle Dour, eating his evening meal as he read reports from his men in the field, his frustrations growing.  While the Empire was reclaiming lands that the rebels had claimed or taken, support for the traitorous murderer grew.  The soldiers they captured refused to speak even under the most intensive torture and many were sent to be held by the Thalmor, never to be seen or heard from again; Tullius asked no questions.

He opened a sealed letter and began to read, his anger began to rise as he read the report of yet another one of his men being found in their tents or in a room at a local inn, their necks cut open.  In each scenario, there was one common factor, the men had taken a whore to bed.  Only one report had come with a vague description of the wench, a black-haired woman, short of stature.  He was intent on finding this harlot who bedded his men then deprived them of their lives; he would exact punishment, one that would ensure that no rebel dared try to execute his men ever again.

#

The wind was frigid, numbing her face; the snow fell fast and so thick she could barely see.  She would have liked to have stayed at the inn there in Winterhold, but since she had nearly been caught after killing her target, she knew it to be prudent of her to get out of town and to do so quickly.  She had misestimated when the snowstorm would come on shore and that was going to delay her arrival in Windhelm greatly.

She sought out shelter, straining to see in the whiteout conditions, knowing that a cave must be around here somewhere.  Her Breton blood did not agree with these freezing temperatures and she cursed the Stormcloak leader for calling for her during the colder months of the year.

Her thoughts drifted to the jarl of Windhelm as she made her way through the snowstorm; the blue of his eyes as he looked into hers, the feel of his hands as he cupped her face before kissing her.  She closed her eyes briefly, trying to rid the image from her mind.  She also tried to forget that she had reciprocated his kiss, that she had even been thrilled by it.  The man was dangerous and getting involved with him was a mistake she had known she was making but had also known that there really had been no choice for her in the matter.

She saw a cave through the blowing snow and headed toward it.  She hoped that she would be able to gather enough firewood to build a fire; she was cold and hungry.  Baring there were no wolves or bears or even trolls in the cave, she would be happy, but the odds of the cave being empty were not in her favor.  She readied herself and entered the cave.

It was dark as she ventured further in; she cast a detect life spell and searched for the visual aura of any living creature she’d see.  Slowly she made her way through the cave, casting her spell every so often.  Suddenly, she stopped.  She glanced around cautiously; then, muffling her steps, she crept along.  The smell of cooked meat hung heavy in the air, making her stomach grumble in protest.  By the smell of a freshly extinguished fire, she knew someone else was in the cave somewhere.

She made her way through the last passage in the cave, weapon in hand.  Quietly, she cast another detect life spell and saw the aura just beyond the cave wall.  Slowly, she snuck through, listening intently.  The smell of roasted meat grew stronger; she tightened her grip on her weapon.

In the darkness she saw a figure sitting on a boulder, their back to her.  She assumed the unknown person was male, something about the broad shoulders and arms seemed masculine to her.  She tried to see if he had any weapons around him, but even her exceptional eyes could not make out much in the darkness.  She approached slowly, watching him for any movement.  The silence was broken, and she froze in place as his words reached her ears.

“Why don’t you put that dagger away and have an ale with me, lass?” Brynjolf’s lilting voice asked.

Love and Betrayal

The dragon was pushed back with her Shout, but more importantly, the force of her Shout had pushed her arrows further past the scales of the beast allowing the poison to be introduced to tis bloodstream.  Its wings slowed down, and the dragon began to descend as the paralyzing agent to the poison worked is way through the body.  It tried to work its jaws, to Shout at her, but the poison had done its job and had done it well in paralyzing the neck; the beast fell to the ground with a resounding crash.

She put her bow on her back, drew her sword and walked toward the grounded monstrosity, a wicked laugh rippling forth from her lips.  “I told you, dragon, I have taken many souls from your brethren.  Now I shall take yours as well.”  She rushed forward, leaping upon the head of the dragon.  She quickly turned her sword blade down and drove it through the thin part of its skull.   

She felt an arm slink around her waist, then the soft breathing against her neck as her Dunmer lover trailed soft kisses along her skin.  Coquettishly, she turned her head to meet the kisses, greeting them with kisses of her own.  A hand found its way to her breast while the Dunmer’s arm held her closer.  Breaking the kiss, Gabriella’s mouth found its way to Meliandra’s full bosom as she traced the Breton’s side lightly bringing pleasured moans from her.

The Dunmer sat up and looked upon her lover.  “The smell of murder on you is quite intoxicating.”  She ran her fingernails down her chest, scratching the skin just enough to bring blood to the surface.  Gabriella leaned down and licked the blood off, her eyes never leaving Meliandra’s.  “It is good to have you home, my love.”

Gabriella reached over to the end table and, opening it, removed something just out of Meliandra’s view.  She smiled at the woman beneath her as she said, “I think you deserve a welcome home fuck.”

Meliandra smiled as she saw the Dunmer reveal the Phallus of Dibella, anticipation beginning to make her wet as she watched the dark elf apply a lotion to the dildo before slipping it into the Breton’s slit.  Slowly, Gabriella fucked Meliandra with the phallic object, first softly, gently, lovingly but increasing the rhythm into hard, frenzied slamming until Meliandra arched her back, her orgasm flooding around her hand.  She pulled the dildo out of her, then, bringing it to her mouth, she sucked Meliandra’s cum off it.

Meliandra took the phallus from her, gently pushed the elf back, and began to kiss the dark skin of her thighs, making her way to the wetness of Gabriella.  Flicking her tongue into her, she teased the Dunmer, licking the wetness, sucking on her pussy lips, and thrusting her tongue into her, fucking her.  The dark elf moaned loudly, grabbing ahold of the Breton’s head as she grinded against her face.  Upon releasing her head, the Breton lifted her head and slipped the dildo into her lover and began fucking her with such a frenzy she was soon crying out as she climaxed.  Meliandra, with no hesitation, licked her lover dry.

#

Nazir ate his bowl of stew, ignoring the silence between Arnbjorn and Astrid as he spoke with Festus about the wizard’s latest job.  He knew what lay beneath the tension and that reason was the Breton Astrid had recruited.  It was no secret that Astrid’s lover now lay with the young Breton, yet few knew of Meliandra’s constant toying with the woman by tempting her husband consistently.  Meliandra’s return to the Sanctuary early this morning was heard by everyone, making Astrid’s already sour mood worse.  Festus was only too willing to try to ease the tension in the dining hall.  They had been doing somewhat well until Meliandra appeared at the top of the stairs.

The two women saw each other, and one could feel the tension spike.  A sly smirk appeared on the Breton’s lips as her eyes went from Astrid to Arnbjorn who refused to look up at her.  She sauntered down the steps to the table, stopping in front of Nazir.  She picked up an apple and took a bite as she poured herself a tankard of mead before addressing the Redguard.  “Have any contracts for me?”

“I do have a contract in Winterhold,” he answered and proceeded to give her the details of the job.  “Interested?”

“Sure, I’ll take it,” she answered.

Nazir watched her carefully waiting for one of the women to address the other, waiting for the storm that had been brewing for months.  But instead the Breton took the paper from him that contained more information the she was going to need and exited the room, presumably going to see Babette before heading out of the Sanctuary.  The Redguard glanced at Astrid to see the growing hatred on her face before glaring at her husband and storming out.

#

Meliandra exited the Sanctuary, blinking a few times as her eyes adjusted to the sunlight.  The scent of nightshade was heavy in the air, the flowers flourishing in this heavily wooded hideaway.  She began walking toward town, her mind on nothing in particular except for her mental list of the things she needed to restock; a visit to both the apothecary for ingredients and potions as well as a visit to Solaf at the general store was in order.  She groaned at the thought of Bolund, the proudful Nord who worked at the mill and who was the brother of the storeowner, he always looked down at her simply because of her having Breton blood.  His brother, though, Solaf, he was kind to her, always giving her a better deal on her purchases and sales with him.

Suddenly a roar sounded around her, drawing her eyes skyward.  She sighed heavily as the dragon began to beat its wings above her.  She drew her bow as she sneered at the enormous beast.  “I’ve already killed many of your kind, dragon.  I will take your soul as well.  Do you really want to do this?”  She knew the beast would not answer her nor did it care how many of its kind she slew, yet she knew it understood her.

The dragon breathed a cold breath upon her; she could feel the cold set into her bones as she blocked her face from the brunt of the blast.  She slowly turned her head back to the dragon and smiled.  Taking a deep breath, she Shouted “Yol!” The air around her sizzled as the flames crashed into the ice particles still hanging in the air.  With an expert flick of her wrist, she cast a spell that created a heat shield around her, making the dragon’s frost breath attack ineffective, albeit for a short while.

Again, she Shouted.  “Yol!”  As the dragon fell back from her Shout, she nocked one of the arrows she had dipped in a paralytic poison strong enough to paralyze a dragon that Babette had helped her create and brew.  The arrow flew through the air and found its mark as it lodged itself in the beast’s throat.  Again, she nocked a poisoned arrow and took aim again, releasing it almost immediately.  This arrow also hit its intended mark, right in its chest.  Once again, she Shouted, this time “Fus!”

The dragon was pushed back with her Shout, but more importantly, the force of her Shout had pushed her arrows further past the scales of the beast allowing the poison to be introduced to tis bloodstream.  Its wings slowed down, and the dragon began to descend as the paralyzing agent to the poison worked is way through the body.  It tried to work its jaws, to Shout at her, but the poison had done its job and had done it well in paralyzing the neck; the beast fell to the ground with a resounding crash.

She put her bow on her back, drew her sword and walked toward the grounded monstrosity, a wicked laugh rippling forth from her lips.  “I told you, dragon, I have taken many souls from your brethren.  Now I shall take yours as well.”  She rushed forward, leaping upon the head of the dragon.  She quickly turned her sword blade down and drove it through the thin part of its skull.

She held onto the dragon as its death throes overpowered the poison and its gargantuan body began to convulse.  She closed her eyes as the dragon lost its fight to live, hearing its soul cry out to her as she slowly absorbed it.  Her own body began to tremble as she claimed the soul and memories of yet another dragon, growing even more powerful herself; the feeling was intoxicating.

She jumped down off the beast, straightened the clothing she wore, and, picking up her dropped pack, continued toward Falkreath.

#

Solaf listened to his brother complain as he pulled his boots on before heading back to the mill after eating a midday meal.  It was the same complaint as always, this damned war, the lack of support for the Stormcloaks, and the increasing amount of non-Nords moving into Falkreath.  He continued sweeping the floor, the dust and dirt having blown in with the winds.  He busied himself, waiting for his brother to leave.  A courier had arrived earlier in the day, a sealed letter with an accompanying letter ordering him to deliver the letter himself to the assassin Meliandra.  He had also heard the rumors at the inn of the recent killings of Legion officers in the Hold and knew this meant that the assassin who had aligned herself with the Stormcloaks was close to home again and that he’d be seeing her again soon.

He smiled as he recalled the last time he fucked her, just a couple weeks previous; she had been particularly feisty that day, insatiable in her lust for sex.  He had willingly obliged her, closing his shop early and screwing her for the rest of the evening.  His dick twitched as he thought of her lips wrapped around his member as she suckled him, coaxing his cum into her mouth, swallowing it obediently.  He had worn that pussy out that day, pounding it with the fervor of a wild man.

He nodded absent-mindedly as his brother walked by him, muttered his goodbye, and walked out of their shared home.  A moment later he smiled as he heard Bolund’s voice boom, “What are you doing here, you fucking Breton whore?”

“What’s wrong, Bolund?” he heard the woman respond, “jealous your brother gets a piece while you stand in the shadows stroking your dick wishing you had someone besides Rosie Palm and her five sisters?”

“I oughtta- “

“You oughtta what?” he heard her interrupt.  After a moment, he heard the heavy footfalls of his brother’s boots as he walked on the wooden planks away from the store and towards the mill followed by the smug laugh of the Breton.  The door then opened as the black-haired assassin walked into the store, a warm smile on her face.  His cock twitched again as he thought of her lips on him.

“Hello, beautiful,” he said as he walked to the door, locking it.

“Hello, handsome,” she purred as she set her pack onto the counter then turned back to him.  “I trust you have some special deals to offer me?” She licked her lips as she walked toward him.

“I always have a good deal for you, darling,” he answered as he began to unfasten his pants, dropping them to his knees.  His erection was evident as he moved his loincloth out of the way.  “I was just thinking about you and that mouth of yours.”

“Oh, really?” she asked as she reached down and took his balls in her hand, massaging them as she met his eyes, a sparkle in  her eyes.

He closed his eyes and leaned his head back, enjoying the feeling of her fondling his sack.  “Something came in for you.”

She stopped short.  “Something came for me? Here?”

He opened his eyes.  “Yes, to both.”  He reached toward her, but she stepped back, letting go of him.  “What?  You’re gonna stop?”

“Who the fuck knows to send me anything here?”

He sighed as he pulled his pants back up and fastened them again.  “Should’ve kept my fucking mouth shut,” he grumbled, walking over to the other side of the counter and pulling out the sealed letter, setting it on the counter.

She stared at the seal that stared right back at her.  The blue wax embossed with the familiar seal that belonged to the Windhelm jarl.  “This is from Ulfric,” she stated matter-of-factly.

“Yes.”

“How the fuck does he know to send this here?” she demanded again.  He began to answer when she cut him off.  “Don’t fucking lie to me.”

“Because he knows that the Dark Brotherhood makes their home on the outskirts of town and ordered me to keep an eye on you.”

“Ordered you?”

“Yes.  I’m a retired Stormcloak.”

Suddenly, she turned and grabbed her pack from off the counter.  She turned back to him, glaring at him, her eyes blazing hotly.  “You’ve been fucking spying on me.  This whole goddamn time.”

He folded his arms.  “All’s fair in love and war, sweetheart.  You swore your loyalty to Jarl Ulfric.  Don’t think that he’s going to let you go that easily, Meliandra.”

Black Temptation

“For fucks sake, Mel! I didn’t sign on for this!”

She stared at him, a glint in her eye he had never seen before; a shiver creeped up his back.  She removed her coin purse and dropped it next to him.  “Then go home, Vorstag.  I don’t need to be worried about you having my back when I’m pulling jobs.”

“That’s the thing, Mel,” he said as he stood up, grabbing his pack before looking at her.  “You’re not pulling jobs for anyone but yourself.  There’s no contract with the Brotherhood to be eliminating Legion officers and you’ve put as much distance as possible between you and Ulfric, even when you’re in Windhelm.  You’re slaughtering these men for your own twisted sense of loyalty to the Stormcloaks.  I want no part of this.”

He could hear Galmar barking to the soldiers in the training arena as well as the sounds of metal on metal; the stench of sweat heavy in the air as he made his way into the room.  He immediately saws his general at the front of a group of new recruits, bellowing what was expected of them as Stormcloaks.  “Milk-drinkers will not be tolerated here; we are not a rabble of farmers with pitchforks and shovels! We fight as soldiers against the tyranny of the Empire and we will throw them out of our lands!”  Galmar met Ulfric’s eye and finished speaking to the group of soldiers before approaching the jarl.  Ulfric began to walk the length of the arena, watching those there train, paying attention to their form, how they handled their chosen weapons, making his way past the group of archers perfecting their aim, some kneeling, some standing.  He stopped, looked at Galmar, and spoke.

“I’ve received communications from the jarls of Dawnstar, Winterhold, and Ivarstead; there has been an increase of Imperial movements throughout their holds, never near capitals, only the outskirts.”

“Have they been able to send spies out?”

“None have been successful in crossing lines.”

Galmar nodded with a frown on his face.  “Do you have a proposed course of action?”

The jarl nodded, knowing exactly how his housecarl was going to react to his words.  “I have sent for Meliandra.”

“That Breton thief who tucked tail and ran from here?!” Galmar asked incredulously.

“She has been locating people that Susanna connected Mila with,” Ulfric stated evenly, the argument nearly six months old with the man in charge of his army.

“Of course, she has,” he grumbled, “she’s eliminating everyone that can tie her into the conspiracy.”

“Enough, Galmar!” he snapped.  “I will not tolerate any more of these baseless accusations that Meliandra has anything to do with Mila’s attempt to have me captured and turned over to the Empire.”

“Baseless, my ass! And you know it, Ulfric.  You just refuse to see it because you’re using the wrong head!”

“Enough!” he bellowed, his deep voice bouncing off the walls.  He glared at Galmar, anger blazing in his eyes.  “You really want to know why Meliandra was suddenly gone after she killed the Butcher?”  His voice came out as an angry whisper as he continued, not allowing Galmar the opportunity to answer.  “I saw her before she left, little did I know she was going to leave though.  But we were right here, in this arena; I was going to give her a lesson on how she grips her sword.”

In his mind’s eyes, he could see the events of that day playing back to him, him standing so close to her he could smell the honey mead she had consumed, looking into those amber eyes with their specks of green and losing himself again and kissing her.  He remembered how she broke the kiss, a mixture of shock, surprise and guilt on her face as she backed away from him, saying, “No, this is wrong, I can’t,” before rushing out of the arena.

He looked at Galmar.  “She left because I offended her; I overstepped my boundaries and she left.”

Galmar eyed him, then grumbled.  “If you say so.”  Clearing his throat, he continued.  “You know where the thief scurried off to, then?”

Ulfric shook his head.  “No, I don’t.”

“So you have a courier running all over Skyrim looking for her?”

 

Again, Ulfric shook his head.  “No, I sent the courier to Falkreath.”

“Falkreath?  Why?”

Ulfric looked at him in the eye and replied strait faced, “Because the thief is also an assassin with the Dark Brotherhood and the Brotherhood makes their home in Falkreath Hold.”

#

Vorstag listened to the Imperial soldier sitting at the bar next to him as he waited for Meliandra at this remote inn in the forests of Falkreath close to the border of Whiterun; he was growing tired of his companion’s behavior as of late, these blatant attacks upon Imperial troops were becoming more and more dangerous for her, as he was discovering as he listened to the drunken soldier sitting next to him.

“There’s stories going around the camps of a wench thirsty for blood.”

“Say again?”

“There’s some wench making her way through various camps,” he burped loudly then continued.  “She fucks the soldiers and then she cuts their throats.”

Panic gripped Vorstag.  “Any idea who this bitch is?”

The soldier shook his head, “Probably just some Stormcloak loving whore.  All I know is that if I’m getting myself a piece of pussy and that bitch pulls a knife on me, I will have no problem cold-cocking her and dragging her ass out to the middle of the fucking camp where each and every one of us can have a go at her whore ass.  And once we’re done with her, we’ll make her an example to all those rebels.”

“Death to the Stormcloaks,” Vorstag said as he drank from his tankard.  “I better get out there before I’m missed,” he said as he stood up, dropping some gold on the bar.  “Take care of yourself.”

He walked out the door into the dark of night, the stars the only source of light tonight and only when the clouds weren’t hiding them.  He headed to the agreed upon location to meet up with Meliandra, his thoughts disturbed.  He cared for Meliandra like she was his sister, they had become good friends, but he could not stand by and let her destroy her life.  He knew he was going to have a serious talk with the assassin, a prospect he did not look forward to.

He gathered some deadwood and started a small fire once he got to the meeting place.  As he sat on a boulder near his campfire, he stared into the flames, watching them dance as his thought drifted to the brunette housecarl back in Whiterun and longed to fall asleep next to her once again.  The past six months he had been getting to know the housecarl more and more whenever they had found themselves close to Whiterun and had slowly begun to come to the realization that he was developing deep feelings for her.

The sound of footsteps broke through his thoughts; a dagger was in his hand almost instantly as he made chirping sounds then listened for the response which came immediately.  He poked the fire before him, moving the embers around, breathing life into the fire, waiting for Meliandra to make her way to him.  He held a bottle of mead out, knowing Meliandra would be wanting it after her late-night escapade of blood letting in the Legion’s camp.

“We need to get out of here before you’re seen,” he said as the bottle was taken from his hand.

“Why?” she asked, snapping at him.

“Soldiers are talking about the killings of their comrades.”

She snorted as she took a pull off the bottle.  “Good,” she retorted, turning to look at him, “maybe they’ll turn tail and run away like the milk-drinkers they are.”

“By the Nine, Mel!” He snapped at her, his eyes angry as he stared at her.  “They want your blood. And milk-drinkers or not, they’re not going to be nice about it.”

“Are you saying that you think that those scum sucking cowards can take me on?”

“Just because you’re Dragonborn doesn’t mean you’re immortal!”

She laughed.  “I’m willing to find out if I am.”

“For fucks sake, Mel! I didn’t sign on for this!”

She stared at him, a glint in her eye he had never seen before; a shiver creeped up his back.  She removed her coin purse and dropped it next to him.  “Then go home, Vorstag.  I don’t need to be worried about you having my back when I’m pulling jobs.”

“That’s the thing, Mel,” he said as he stood up, grabbing his pack before looking at her.  “You’re not pulling jobs for anyone but yourself.  There’s no contract with the Brotherhood to be eliminating Legion officers and you’ve put as much distance as possible between you and Ulfric, even when you’re in Windhelm.  You’re slaughtering these men for your own twisted sense of loyalty to the Stormcloaks.  I want no part of this.”

He turned and walked off, leaving Meliandra standing there in silence.  She shook her head when he was out of her line of sight then stared at the coin purse still sitting in the dirt where she had dropped it.

#

The hammer truck the iron repeatedly, a blade slowly forming.  He had been working on this piece all night, more out of frustration than of necessity.  Astrid was angry.  Again.  The arrival of the recruit months previous had turned their world upside down.  This new recruit that Astrid had brought in, the young Breton, Meliandra, had proven herself to be proficiently adept at the art of stealth and equally proficient in the art of murder.  Astrid, became uneasy with how well the Breton had been accepted by the others after that.

Then when the Keeper arrived with the corpse of the Unholy Matron things began to change within these halls forever.  The Night Mother, long silent spoke to one of the family, proclaiming Babette to be the Listener.  Though she’d never admit it, Arnbjorn knew she had been hurt when the vampire opted to make the Breton her advisor and enforcer.

He stopped mid-swing as a familiar scent hit his nose; he turned his head to see the person of his wife’s consternation.  “You’re back,” he said as he returned his attention to the sword he was forging for one of the Brotherhood.

“You sound disappointed, Arnbjorn,” Meliandra purred, standing an arm’s length from the werewolf.  She looked around the cave.  “Where’s Astrid?”

He looked at her again, a restrained look in his eyes.  “In our room.  And she’s not in a good mood.”

“Has there ever been a time she was in a good mood?”

“Yes,” he said as he began to work his forge again.  “Before you came to us.”

The Breton laughed.  “She’s the one who invited me.”

“Something she regrets every day.”

She laughed again.  “Too bad everyone else feels differently about that,” she said as she placed her hand on his shoulder and leaned forward, her lips brushing against his ear as she continued, “Even this big, bad wolf.”

His nostrils flared as her scent assailed him, a low rumble rolled out from the pit of his stomach as he dropped his hammer and the sword, spun around, and grabbed both of her wrists.  “You tread on thin ice, Meliandra,” he snarled.

She pulled her wrists out of his grip, a smirk on her lips.  “What’s the matter, Arnbjorn?  Astrid have you on a short leash again?”

“I love my wife,” he said pointedly to her.

Meliandra smiled, patted his shoulder and began to walk away as she said, “Keep telling yourself that, Arnbjorn, keep telling yourself that.”

In The Dead of Night

The Nord thrust himself into the Breton once more, filling her with his length; he was insatiable with this raven-haired beauty beneath him, but his release was imminent.  His strokes became hurried and demanding; he needed to claim this woman as his and only his.  Her breasts, so creamy white, jiggled vigorously as his climax approached rapidly.  The sounds of her pleasure growing louder pushed him over the edge and with a final thrust, his seed erupted inside of her, the force of his orgasm spasmed through him as he collapsed onto the bed next to her.

“You know how to steal a man’s heart, darling,” he breathed heavily.

Meliandra smiled as she sat atop him, straddling him between her legs, her long, black hair draping across her breasts.  “It was never my intention to steal your heart.”

“But you did,” the blond responded.  “From the moment I laid eyes on you, you had me.”

She leaned down and kissed his lips.  “I find that I seem to have that affect on people.  Which is good, really,” she said sweetly as her hand found its way to the dagger she had secreted away when the Nord had not been paying attention.  As his eyes questioned her, she drew the edge of the blade across his neck, spraying the legate’s blood across her.

“Death to the Empire.”