by AJ Marks
Zoe woke to an empty bed, not that it surprised her. It had been a week since her defeat of Alduin and returning back to the Suite. She had relaxed a bit the first couple of days, and allowing herself to heal up after all her travels. Leah had already gotten up, she said the previous night there were some things she needed to do.
Running the suite was a challenge, one which Zoe was learning about. A lot of things, from cleaning to keeping things stocked and that wasn’t even including keep customers happy. She felt grateful to the girls and OMB who worked hard to keep the suite running. Farquar was more than capable of handling the locals, and if anyone really got out of hand, they learned real quick the girls were also warriors.
Down below she thought she heard Aela’s voice, along with either Farkas or Valkas, or both. She also heard some other voices and figured some of the guests were awake. Getting up and putting on some simple clothes, no need for armor, made her way down the stairs.
She spotted Leah working the bar and using her skills snuck up on her, before enveloping her in a hug.
“Awk, Zoe, stop that,” Leah stated, but didn’t make a move to get away and turned around to face her.
“How else would I surprise you?” Zoe asked, leaning in for a good morning kiss.
Zoe then turned to see Aela and both Farkas and Vilkas sitting at the bar and Wyla relaxing in the bath. Everyone else must be either outside or downstairs.
“So, what’s the latest with the Companions?” Zoe asked looking at Aaela.
“Got some new contracts coming in,” she replied taking a sip of her drink.
“That’s good news,” Zoe said, moving to grab a tea for her morning drink. It was too early for anything stronger than that.
“A couple appear to pay very well, was just going over who we should send,” Aela said.
“Well, you’ve done a good job with such decisions,” Zoe replied, taking a moment to watch Leah work in her short dress which showed off a lot of leg.
“We even got a couple of new welps,” Aela stated, that got Zoe’s attention.
“Let’s hope they live up to the expectations,” Zoe said.
“I have a good feeling about them, they are eager, yet seemed a bit tempered with caution, just the right mix,” Aela said. Zoe understood, being eager could get you in over your head before you were ready, but be too cautious and you’d never get anywhere. A hard balance to find.
She was about to say more when the door opened allowing a person to enter, by the body under the robes Zoe guessed a woman. The robes looked to indicate a mage of some sort, not unusual and she waited to see who the person was.
The woman pulled back the hood revealing a Drunmer. It took a second before Zoe recognized her.
“Brelyna,” she said, walking over to greet the young woman, and another member of the College of Winderhold. The two had joined at the same times and been though a few missions together.
“Zoe,” Brelyna replied, returning the greeting.
“What brings you here?” Zoe asked, as they walked to the bar.
“Out on a mission gathering some ingredients for a new potion,” Brelyna replied.
“More testing,” Zoe said. “I hope you’re better at that then, well, you know.”
She watched as the Drunmer blushed recalling their first real interaction where Brelyna had ‘tested’ a new spell out on her. It didn’t go quite as she had hoped and Zoe slightly concerned if she’d ever return to her normal form.
“Ah” Brelyna said, twisting her fingers before replying. “This time its not to be used on people, but a potion for helping plants grow.”
“Should be safer,” Zoe said.
“Yes, we’re hoping to be able to market it to farmers to help increase crops,” Brelyna said.
“That would be something,” Aela said. “I know a lot of farmers who would buy such a potion. Any luck with it.”
“Not yet, we had one which seemed promising, until it turned on us,” Brelyna said. “Though its nice to not have to duck dragons all the time.” Here she turned to Zoe. “Is it true, Alduin was killed?”
“Yes,” Leah replied, handing Brelyna a drink.
“I thought he was almost immortal?” Brelyna said. “Or so that was what we were able to figure out from legends.”
“It seems Zoe here went off to Sovngarde to fight him,” Aela said.
“A tale for the bards to tell for sure,” Farkas said while Brelyna looked impressed.
“Yeah, its quieted down, people aren’t coming to us for guard duty anymore as they travel,” Vilkas said. “That was easy money.”
“I also thought I’d check in with our arch-mage,” Breylna said. “Its been a while since we heard anything.”
“Ah,” Zoe said, thinking she probably should name someone else to be in charge as she was rarely there. “I can’t think of anything, unless something’s happened which I don’t know about.”
Brelyna’s face suddenly became very excited. “Oh, that’s right, you probably don’t know, we keep forgetting to write you about it, but Mirabelle returned.”
That got Zoe’s attention rather quickly, as she recalled the mage. “I was under the impression she disappeared, sacrificed herself.”
“That’s what we all thought, she even thought that,” Brelyna said. “So imagine our surprise when she suddenly shows up in front of a group of new students being taught. Shocked us all. We theorize the magic displaced her in time instead of killing her.”
“Then I’ll have to visit,” Zoe said, and a plan came up, make Mirabelle the Arch-Mage. She had been running things anyways.
“Tolfdir told her everything which happened, including you becoming Arch-Mage,” Brelyna said.
“How did she react?” Zoe asked, knowing how much the Breton had done.
“She was impressed, but is concerned that you are not there.”
That comment sounded so much like her and her decision even easier. Zoe already had too many duties across Skyrim and passing one off was a good idea. Besides, she didn’t see herself going up to Winterhold very often.
“I guess then I’ll have to sort out some order up there, maybe make her acting Arch-Mage,” Zoe said, seeing how Brelyna reacted.
“We’re used to her, she’d do well, and we know she’d put herself above the rest of us,” Brelyna said.
“A noble quality in a leader,” Aela said, speaking up.
“I’ll have something written up you can take back so she can act as the Arch-Mage for me. Guess I’ll have to go up and make a visit,” Zoe said. Aside from the college she really had nothing up there.
“So, what’s your plan today?” Leah asked.
“Oh, probably some sparring with Farquar, maybe go down to the forge and work on some armor,” Zoe replied.
“Doesn’t sound like much fun,” Leah replied.
“Training, sounds fun, mind if we join in?” Farkas asked.
“Nope, the more the merrier,” Zoe replied back to him. It would be fun having more than just Farquar to spar with and she could see how much she had improved.
Zoe made her way down into the basement, she looked at the forge before heading off though a door seldom used by anyone but her. Walking through the door she entered the unique room which housed what was called the Bridge of Migal. A unique magical being which gave the bath house such a unique feel.
“Welcome Dovahkin,” it said.
“Bride of Migal, how are you,” Zoe asked.
“Well, feeling stronger,” she replied, or at least Zoe assumed it was a she as Zoe offered her to drink. “You’ve gotten stronger since our first meeting.”
“Huh, yeah, I guess so,” Zoe stated. “Haven’t really thought about it.”
“I can tell, you have more magical ability than before,” she answered. “So, Alduin has been defeated.”
“You knew?” Zoe half asked, half stated.
“I can feel the currents of magic,” she replied. “Its how I traced you down, though the magical currents of time and space.”
Zoe merely nodded, knowing that she had been sent a message, and only a dragonborn could make the contract with the Bride of Migal. She was a large part of the suite, her power influenced the atmosphere around her, and when she was happy things inside the suite were better.
“Was it worth your effort?” she asked Zoe breaking her out of her thoughts.
“Yeah, it was,” Zoe said as she considered the question. She could walk around anywhere in Skyrim and almost be recognized by someone who she had helped, or know of something she had done. She had made some enemies, groups in the shadows which were whispered about. The largest was a group of organized bandits who lived off robbing people. She had devastated their numbers, or the Falmar, she had fought many of them so far.
“Be sure to come back soon, I’m always thirsty,” she said.
“I will,” Zoe replied, then moved away and closed the door behind her and headed over to the forge to check on some armor she hoped would be done soon. Then she’d head off to do some sparring.
Zoe ran though some drills along with Farkas, Vilkas and Farquar. It proved interesting with all three as they provided some challenge to her. She also realized how far her abilities had come since arriving in Skyrim.
She backed off grabbing some water watching as Farquar and Vilkas squared off running through a few moves. They were about equally matched in skill, not surprising at all considering their backgrounds. She looked around seeing a few people walking along the trail, she figured as word that the dragons were gone people would travel more. She noticed the steel armor which was so typically worn by housecarls.
The figure then seemed to spot her and turned heading in her direction. It took her a few moments until the person took off their helmet revealing Jordis, her housecarl from Solitude.
“My Thane,” Jordis said, giving a slight bow her head.
“Jordis, what brings you here?” Zoe asked, confused about why her housecaarl would come all this way. True, she hadn’t been in Solitude in a while so the political nature could have changed. Still, she thought she would have heard something if it changed.
“I bring a message from Earl Elsif the Fair,” Jordis said, as Zoe recalled the Jarl of Solitude.
“Come inside,” Zoe said, nodding to the others that she was leaving before following Jordis inside the suite. Inside was a bit crowded as people were relaxing and eating. Zoe led Jordis upstairs to her room and a couple of table where things wouldn’t be so noisy. “So, how are things in Solitude?”
“Overall, peaceful my Thane,” Jordis said as Leah brought up some drinks.
“But?” Zoe asked, as Leah waited.
“There might be some trouble,” Jordis stated, something Zoe figured considering Elsif was sending for her.
“I figured, what’s the problem?” Zoe asked.
“It’s the Thalmor,” Jordis said.
Zoe rolled her eyes at that considering the Thalmor were a bigger pain than the Stormcloaks were. In fact, she would have sided with them if not for Ralouf who had saved her life upon reaching Skyrim. But General Tillius had shown to be a very intelligent man, and one who wasn’t that fond of the Thalmor either.
“So, what is the situation, she can’t expect me to take on the Thalmor army by myself,” Zoe stated. “I mean, I might be the Dragonborn but not an army.”
“She wishes for you to be there when meeting a delegation as backup, and as the Dragonborn and a Thane you have some weight and power in the discussion,” Jordis replied.
“I see,” Zoe said, basically muscle backup for the Jarl. “When do they arrive?”
“A week,” Jordis said.
I guess we can make it there,” Zoe said. “I think they can handle things without me for a few days while I head over to Solitude.”
“I think so, perhaps I’ll go with you, been a while since I’ve been out of the Suite,” Leah said to her surprising her a bit.
“I guess,” Zoe said, unsure what to say to her lover.
“So, this is your hoursecarl from Solitude?” Leah asked.
“Yeah, Jordis, this is Leah, my lover,” Zoe said, introducing the two of them.
“I wasn’t aware you had another female housecarl other than Lydia,” Leah said.
“Well, there is also Iona from Riften,” Zoe said seeing the look Leah was giving her. “But only one of you.”
“I should hope so,” Leah said, then gave her a smile. “You’ll have to be diplomatic, no bashing in their heads cause they don’t agree with you.”
“Spoil-sport,” Zoe replied back to her.
“Yeah, but the Thalmor wouldn’t like this place,” Leah said looking around.
Zoe nodded, knowing they had Talos shrines which the Thalmor had decided were banned. It would be an interesting trip to see what they wanted.
“Guess I need to pack and get ready for the trip then. You can stay here, rest up and we’ll head out tomorrow,” Zoe said.
“Of course my Thane,” Jordis said.
“And I can let the others know,” Leah said.
End part 8