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Finding Love Among the Stars

Chapter Text


 

 

They went into the human clothing store and Shepard went to the men’s section, followed by Vashlani. She chose several trunks and paid for them, whispering that they could be altered by Tali to fit his tail, after she paid for them.

 

“Okay, now that that is done where are we going next?” Shepard looked up at him as he stood there for several moments. She frowned when she noticed his hands twitched and the readout on his suit registered a spiked increase of his heart rate. “Vashlani? Everything alright?”

 

He seemed to snap out of it and looked down at her. “Yes. There is something I need to tell you and several shops I need to visit.” He walked over to the AVINA VI that Garrus had shown him how to use and typed what he was looking for into the console then copied the list onto this datapad. She frowned and followed him to the first location.

 

They were standing outside of a furniture store and she still couldn’t understand what caused him to seem so agitated. He looked at the store directory then followed the maps directions. When they entered the area Shepard stopped dead still and scratched her head wondering what they were doing there.

 

Vashlani looked over everything and made his choices, holding his datapad under the credit scanner to pay for it. He said not a word as he headed for the next location on his list, then the next, and the next. Finally, he stopped at one of the skycar terminals and she stood next to him with her eyes glancing at him and the floor.

 

When they made it back to the Normandy he received notice from EDI that several crates and smaller packages had arrived. Garrus had them loaded onto a pallet and waiting for him down in the cargo hold. He checked the manifest to his personal log of purchases and noted that there were two missing. “Please let Garrus know there will be two more arriving in the next two hours. Vashlani will return to get the entire pallet then. For now, he must take Shepard somewhere important and cannot be disturbed.”

 

Vashlani turned to Shepard, a wary and very confused look on her face. He saw a touch of hurt in her eyes as well. He held out his hand and for the first time since the initial binding, she hesitated in taking it. He waited her out. Finally, her hand was placed in his and they left the Normandy.

 


 

 

They walked down the spiraling stone staircase of the Arch-Mage’s tower, heading toward the doors that would lead them to the guest quarters of the College. Vashlani had refused to answer Shepard’s questions on where they were going and what was going on.

 

They stood outside a closed door and he paused before knocking. When the door opened Shepard almost fell over backward when a young human girl jumped on Vashlani.

 

“Papa! You’re back so soon.” The young girl clung to the khajiit holding him about the neck as he picked her up and hugged her to him.

 

“Sophie, my sweet, your Papa has a guest he would very much like you to meet.” He stroked his hand down her long dark hair once more before setting her back on her feet.

 

“Like Thane? From the other place you go to? The one with all the strange people?” The young girl looked up at her father with a huge grin on her face.

 

“It is so, my young cub.” He smiled and swallowed hard as he turned toward Shepard who was standing there with her mouth wide open.

 

“Commander Shepard, I would like you to meet my adopted daughter, Sophie. She is a young child I met in Windhelm. She sold flowers outside the docks before I was summoned back to your world. The Civil War the Nords are embroiled in took the life of her natural father, her mother died when she was a small cub, leaving her homeless and alone. Vashlani worked with the Jarl’s court mage to adopt her and made sure the Septims Vashlani left for her went to her care while I was with you. Vashlani has done his best to be there for both of you. He had hoped...,” he blinked then cleared his throat, “it is of no concern.”

 

“Sophie, this is Papa’s friend, Shepard. She is a great warrior. Vashlani thought it was time for you two to meet.”

 

Sophie smiled at the woman standing in front of her, “Oh, Papa has told me so much about you. He showed me pictures that moved and told me about where you lived. He said that someday, maybe, I could see it too. And Thane told me about himself and he writes to me. I like him. Is he here too?”

 

“No, sweet, he is not here at the moment. You will see him later after Papa is finished with the task the Dragonborn requested of him.” He stroked her hair again before reaching into his pack. “Papa has something for you.” He drew out a stuffed animal from one of the shops they had visited. Shepard could only stand there and stare.

 

The young girl let out a small squeal before holding the bear in her arms and squeezing it, “You’re the best Papa, ever.” Vashlani gave a purring laugh.

 

“My darling, Papa, and Shepard have to leave for a while. He will come back as soon as he can. You promise to listen to the Arch-Mage and Tolfdir while Vashlani is gone?”

 

“Yes, Papa. Oh, Doctor Karin wants to talk to you about me. She said something about fixing something she found when she was checking me after I got here to make sure I was healthy. She gave me a terrible tasting medicine and applied a balm to my feet and hands. My feet no longer sting and hurt like they did before, they are also pink and no longer have that blackish color, and I have another letter for Thane.”

 

“That is good, my girl. I am glad the Healer has helped you. Now give Papa the letter and a hug, he will be back to see you again.”

 

Shepard followed him back to the Arch-Mage’s quarters and listened while Chakwas spoke with Vashlani, telling him she had used some of the medicines she had brought with her to reverse the damage done to Sophie’s feet and hands from frostbite. “She was lucky she didn’t lose her feet and several fingers. She told me about what happened and how you found her, gave her warm blankets and clothing. How could they leave a child like that to sleep in the cold here? It's a situation which can kill a grown person, how she survived the months sleeping in a barrel outside in that weather is a miracle. She has a few other issues which the healing of the mages here can’t fix. I want your permission, and Shepard’s of course, to take her back to the Normandy before we leave and fix the genetic issues I found. Her vision can be adjusted so she doesn’t squint when she tries to read and her teeth can be straightened, cleaned, and repaired. I will also add a coating which can strengthen and protect them and will last for the rest of her life. It should only take a few hours to accomplish and she will only need an hour or so to recover.”

 

“It will not cause her pain and will allow the mage heals to still work? No machines?”

 

“No machines, nothing outward will change, she will just be healthier overall. I promise Vashlani.” Chakwas smiled at him and waited for their consent. Vashlani’s whiskers twitched before he nodded.

 

They turned to Shepard, who still hadn’t said anything, and waited for her to give an answer. “I-I...” she looked at them, then straightened, plastered a slight, but a shaky smile on her face. “Of course, Doc. Do what you need to do to help her, make sure she has everything she needs and is comfortable.”

 

Chakwas smiled at her before she turned back to the Arch-Mage and they wandered into his personal garden, giving the other two a bit of privacy.

 

“I take it she is the reason you always disappear when we are in your home, and why you pick up everything not nailed down to sell here?”

 

“Yes, this khajiit visits and writes to his daughter every chance he gets and spends as much time with her as possible. Since Vashlani doesn’t have a home here in Skyrim, he was paying to house her at the Inn in Windhelm. The war is heating up and the Dragonborn told us all to be prepared, there was no talking reason to the Jarl of Windhelm. The Dragonborn has told us all he is even more unhinged than we had assumed. He cares nothing for the other races, cares nothing for the children who are starving in his streets, even the ones who are nord, like my little Sophie. All he sees is the High King’s Throne and the power which would come from being crowned as the High King. Vashlani needed to get her safely away from there, the Arch-Mage offered a room and Vashlani had her moved here. She is better protected now, both from the war and prejudices against the mages which most nords have. She has quickly become one of the most important people in Vashlani’s life.”

 

Shepard let out a hum, “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather just stay here then? She needs you here, as her father. All of us would understand.”

 

Vashlani shook his head, “No, Vashlani gave his word and has already explained to Sophie what he is doing and she is proud that this khajiit is helping so many different people. I have shared with her everything I could from your dimension, vids, and holos of things Vashlani saw on the Citadel and of the crews from the ships. The vids Joker sent of the first trip to the Citadel and some of the other worlds that Vashlani has gone to. As long as he can come back here often and see her, to make sure she knows this one hasn’t forgotten her, then I will continue to help. As long as the war does not come to the College, Vashlani will travel with you. Should Jarl Ulfric turn his bigoted eyes toward Winterhold and this College, Vashlani will race here to protect Sophie, the Arch-Mage, and his friends.”

 

Shepard nodded, completely understanding his need to protect them. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. But... if it does and we are not in the middle of yet another hair-brained mission, I’ll be here to help you.”

 

Vashlani smiled at her and raised his hand to touch her, stopping short and curling his fingers into a fist before dropping it. “It’s time we get back, there is so much that Vashlani has to do yet before we go back to Blackreach in the morning. Thank you, Shepard, for understanding.”

 

She smiled up at him and nodded.

 


 

Well, that didn’t go exactly as he planned. Vashlani stood in the small tower and used telekinesis to move one of the Dwarven dressers onto the lift to take to the upper floor. Shepard was supposed to rail at him, scorn him... not offer assistance if the College comes under attack. Or seem to forgive him for keeping yet another secret from her for so long. He let out a sigh as he heard banging and cussing coming from the upper floor of the tower.

 

“Damn it, Shepard, I told you to hold that piece steady. We’re never going to get this bed put together at this rate.”

 

“Those stupid directions don’t make any sense, Garrus. Why the hell are we attaching the poles to the bed frame before the canopy frame gets attached to the poles.”

 

“How the hell do I know, I’m just following what’s written here. Now hold that pole steady.”

 

“May I be of assistance? Maybe two of us holding it would help?”

 

“I got it Thane, but it looks like Kasumi is losing the fight with the tapestry. That’s the third time it’s fallen off the wall.”

 

“It’s this adhesive. We should sue the company, we’d make millions. It says it will securely hold anything to any surface for decades. It’s blatant false advertising. It doesn’t work on magical walls.”

 

“Well figure something out, Vash should be up here with the dresser in a minute and it goes right where you’re standing.”

 

“Quit armchair ordering, Joker. Weren’t you supposed to be hanging up Sophie’s clothing?” Shepard’s voice rang out from the top of the stairs.

 

“Yeah, I did, but as soon as I put the stuff in there that sphere of his came zooming out of nowhere and rearranged the damn closet. Every time I’d stick something in there, it would move it. So I let it do its thing and we’re both happier for it.”

 

Vashlani covered his eyes and heaved out a sigh, somehow it had gone from only Garrus helping to get the stuff moved into the room and put together to half the ground crew hearing about it and showing up to come help. He felt a hand on his shoulder and uncovered one blue eye to see Samara standing there with a small smile on her face. “They mean well, Vashlani. But this is not what people like them are used to. They know fighting, killing. Not creating a home for a child. It is a new experience for them and believe it or not, I do think they are enjoying themselves.”

 

He let out another sigh and called out he was raising the lift. They heard a bunch of scrambling from the room above them and he just shook his head while Samara gracefully made her way over to where the highly polished Dwarven shelving units were being filled with toys, decorations, and books. Once he stepped onto the lift and closed the small gate, the lift raised and the others helped him to move the dresser into place. The tapestry had been turned into a rug on the floor.

 

After the last dresser was put into place and the bed finally put together, they went down to eat and get ready for the next days adventure. Joker sent a completed update on the upgrades. The cannon was now in place, as was the enlarged mineral probe bay. The Normandy’s new armor plating was almost complete. The only things they were still waiting on was the last parts for the extended fuel cells and the one part for Tali’s upgrade to the barriers. The ship should be done in less than a week, which gave them a few days to finish up what they all need to do on the Citadel before leaving again.

 


 

The magelight had barely begun to brighten the area when Vashlani woke up and let out a yawn. He tried to get up but Shepard only tightened her hold on him. She wiggled, and buried her head in his neck, breathed out a sigh and settled back into sleep.

 

He closed his eyes as his whiskers twitched and his ears rotated, how he had often wished that he could wake up with her like this every morning, tightly wrapped around each other, waking with loving looks given, and a sweet kiss or two. He gritted his teeth when he felt his body stirring, he had to force those thoughts out of his head. She wouldn’t be his, not now... not ever. Just a friend.

 

A few minutes later he felt her grip loosen from him and she rolled over, he slid out of the bed quickly and headed for the shower.

 

When everyone was ready they headed back to the abandoned building in Blackreach. They were all surprised that they hadn’t had to walk all the way back but just popped out inside the home. Vashlani just shook his head no as the question was asked, and Garrus nodded in understanding. Once EDI said everyone was ready they headed back out.

 

Kasumi pointed to a tower a short distance away and they meandered their way there, killing the Falmer who got in their way and stopping to answer Samara’s questions about them before starting again. Vashlani stopped to mine a few things, giving a piece of an unusable soul gem to Samara, explaining that everyone who joined them so far had been given one. Even though she said she was allowed no belongings, other than her weapons and armor, she did accept it as a gift from him.

 

Several hours later they reached the outside of the tower they all stood looking up at the massive tower that had waterfalls on each side of it. The light from a brazier shone on a carving of a giant face of a Dwemer looking down at their group, and a staircase which led down and circled around the corner. There was a single doorway directly in front of them. After a short discussion, they headed down the stairs, stopping to open a chest they found that contained several soul gems, a few regular gems, a scroll that Vashlani quickly tucked into his bag, and several necklaces. He held out his hands to the females and all but Samara chose one. Garrus scooped the last one from his hand, shrugging and muttering, “Tali asked for some stuff.”

 

They continued down, spotting what looked like a small Falmer camp across the water. Vashlani’s whiskers twitched, he wanted to go across there and muttered it out loud. Shepard let out a sigh and said, “What is it with you and water? I thought felines of almost any type hated to get wet.”

 

Vashlani turned his head toward her, “This feline... became accustomed to swimming, as Master forced him to learn. Once he got used to it, this khajiit grew to love the water.” Vashlani’s tail twitched then he turned back toward the camp.

 

Shepard sent a one-word message to him, “Sorry.”

 

Garrus shook his head at her as they filed across the small stream, fanning out and taking out the three, rather tough, Falmer there and began to loot the camp. Vashlani found a chest at the top of the hill inside a tent and bent down to it. His spell didn’t work and he let out a Khajiiti curse. “Kasumi? Would you like a go at this chest? It is locked and too complex for Vashlani’s spell.” He saw her give a brief nod as she jammed something into her satchel and jumped over several rocks and sauntered into the tent. He held out his set of lockpick tools and she gave a hum, ran a scan over the lock, and pulled out a set of her own.

 

“Mine’s better. They don’t break.” She giggled and stuck them in the lock then wiggled them around. Several minutes and quite a few restarts later, they heard a click and she grinned up at him before she flipped open the lid.

 

His eyes roamed over everything which was contained within, taking out the soul gems, spell tomes, a coin pouch, and the enchanted gear, tucking it all into his pack. The rest of it was split between the others. He collected the ores from the three corundum deposits that Thane pointed out to him and then about fell over when Samara described a section of striated rock with an incredible purplish-pink glow. His shout of ebony and the way he ran for the rock had them all laughing. When he finished mining they headed back to the doorway.

 

Garrus and Vashlani pushed the door and it opened into a small area with a lift. Once everyone was inside and the door closed again, Thane grabbed the lever and pulled. When the lift stopped it opened to a short hallway, the group followed it to a room which contained an abundance of benches and a few other things that seemed to have been set up a very long time ago, if the dust and long-dead fire pit in the center of the room was any indication. They looked around the room and took what they could. Garrus and Thane muttered about the ruined books they found and how it was such a waste.

 

They used several of the ruined books to start the fire going in the center of the room, once they were assured no one was there. Vashlani brought out a clean stew pot and the ingredients to make a fish stew. Since Thane had told him his people usually only ate fish or their eggs as their source of meat, that is what he made. He handed Garrus a basket and the turian unpacked it, setting a covered container near the fire to heat up. They sat around eating and answering questions about the things they had found, where he thought they were, and what could possibly be behind the other door. When they were done and felt rested he packed everything in Garrus’ basket then slipped it into his bag. After a short pause in the vid stream, so they could take care of their private needs, they popped back into the room and headed for the door.

 

They walked down the short hallway which ended at another door. All of them looking at each other since they hadn’t encountered any other creatures or people since they entered the tower. When the door was pushed open they all gasped at the room that was behind it and at the giant machine which almost filled it entirely.

 

“This is it. This is what we were looking for,” Vashlani whispered.

 

Vashlani and the others spread out. Shepard found a skeleton under what looked like a podium and picked up the journal, eighteen gold pieces, all three of the charcoal sticks, a steel dagger, a tiny pouch with some kind of powder inside it, and a few rolls of parchment. She tucked it all into her pack before handing Vashlani the gold and the journal.

 

They followed the winding ramp up to where it looked like a control panel sat and Vashlani began to read the journal as Garrus reached for a stack of cogs on a shelf behind him.

 

I weren’t never one for writing about my life. The king-priests of old deserve their stories told, but Drokt is a simple man. So this isn’t no journal and I’m not telling any stories here. But this infernal machine done worked its way into my brainspace and I won’t leave till it’s figured out.

 

The whole contraption just sets like a dead horker if it doesn’t have the box. Putting the box in the hole made it all come to life.

 

Five rings, but only four buttons? Most of ’em don’t work most of the time anyhows. When the lights line up, more open, but they don’t seem to help. Just make another damned thing move.

 

The old fleabag khajiit what sold me this cube said something about “the light through the knowledge through the machine rests on the cube.” I remember because he made me say it back at him till I wanted to throttle him.

 

So I did.

 

Tried to leave, but wolves to the top and them eyeless freaks outside the tower. Gotta stay here till I get it right.

 

And I will get it right.“

 

Vashlani laid the open journal on the podium and took out the Dwemer cube that was in the machine and tossed it over his shoulder. His ears rotated as he didn’t hear it hit the ground, but he didn’t bother to turn around. Then he drew out the one given to him by the Dragonborn along with another scroll.

 

“If you’re reading this then that means you made it. The contraption you see in front of you is called an Oculory. You have to tune the damn thing and get the lenses to line up, it’s a pain in the arse. This is what I was told, ‘To focus the knowledge away and inside without harm. Place the lexicon into their contraption and focus the knowings into it.’ The man is mad, but once everything was deciphered from his almost incoherent ramblings, it was accurate. What you need to do, is after placing that cube into it, push the buttons. The rings will line up the lenses depending on the sequence of the buttons you pushed. Once they are lined up the information will be inscribed on the block I gave you.

 

There is a possibility of a chest.

 

Vashlani, a word of warning, once more do not read from anything that would be contained inside the chest. What you are after is an Elder Scroll. Aye, a real Elder Scroll. They disappeared from the Imperial Library in Cyrodiil 26 years ago. They seemed to have been scattered all over Tamriel. You are a mage and the Arch-Mage told me you were trained by someone highly skilled, he would have warned you about them. Warn your companions in case one of them doesn’t understand the dangers contained within the Prophecies. Return with the scroll and the lexicon cube once it has been inscribed. Take great care, Vashlani and may the Divines provide you and your companions protection and divine speed.“

 

“By the twin moons... an Elder Scroll.” Vashlani swallowed as he looked at the device then turned to his friends. Their looks of confusion were clear on their faces. He rubbed his hands on his cloak then explained to them what the scrolls were and why they were so dangerous.

 

“The Dragonborn was correct. The scrolls are said to contain information on all possible past, present, and future events. They are sometimes referred to as the Prophecies for that reason, and eventually, anyone that reads them will go blind and mad. They are dangerous Aedra artifacts; artifacts of the Gods. Does everyone understand? They are not treasures to be split among us, they are dangerous items which must be taken and placed in a safe location away from anyone that may be tempted to learn from them.”

 

“How many of these Elder Scrolls exist?” Thane asked as the others looked back at the machine.

 

“It is unknown, not because there are so many... but the number is unknowable. You see they are said to be fragments of creation, outside of time itself, that does not exist in countable form, and the prophecy part is only a fraction of their power. They do not exist... yet, they have always existed.”

 

He swallowed again and turned back to the machine, his hands were visibly shaking as he reached for the first button. After testing each of the buttons he started to look for a pattern. Thane stepped forward and watched for several minutes longer before he reached out and placed a hand over Vashlani’s stopping him from pressing even more button combinations.

 

“If I may? There is a discernible pattern.” Vashlani looked at him then stepped back slightly. Thane closed his eyes for a moment then reached for the button to his right. Less than a minute later they saw the lenses line up and the lexicon began glowing with a greenish-white light. A large gem-like creation lowered in the middle of the room and cracked open.

 

Vashlani laid a hand on Thane’s shoulder and gave a light squeeze before grabbing the lexicon and heading down the stairs. Everyone stood around him and looked at what was revealed. A long ivory tube-like container that resembled carved bone with handles and a giant purple gem in the middle sat suspended inside. Vashlani slapped Kasumi’s hand as he saw her reach for the scroll.

 

“Oops... habit.” The thief gave a slight shrug.

 

Vashlani reached out and gently took the scroll from inside the container and placed it into the pocket storage dimension. It was about the safest place he could think of. “Let’s get the hell out of this place.”

 

They opened the door that was below the controls and found another lift. “This must take us up and out, the journal said there were wolves on top and the Falmer outside the tower.” Vashlani grabbed the control and pulled.

 

When the gate opened he blinked, “How in Oblivion did we end up just north of Whiterun?” He looked around and pushed them all back into the lift. “Not good... there are so many guards who patrol this area. We have to get you all back to my home then we can decide what to do and where to go.”

 

Everyone unpacked their bags and sorted the loot, they sat around the pond and discussed what they wanted to do. Garrus was going to stay there and work on a “project”, while the others would dress and go to Whiterun to see the hold’s Capital. Vashlani told them there were many stores there, good food at the local Inn, and they would be able to see the home of the Companions, Jorrvaskr. The Jarl’s palace was there as well, sitting high above and overlooking the entire town.

 

They made sure Thane and Samara were covered, their differences well concealed under hoods and cloaks, long gloves, and heavy mufflers. Vashlani handed Shepard a package, explaining he had bought it for her a while ago and just never got around to giving it to her. Inside was a long multi-layered dress with a corset, gloves, and a pair of thick, fur-lined boots. They gave the mages clothes to Kasumi to change into.

 

The afternoon was spent at the large, newly opened exterior markets. They sold a few items to the vendors and bought a few things. Kasumi ohhed at the display of large, red berries. Vashlani kept an eye on her to make sure she didn’t swipe anything but saw her pay for her purchases with a few coins she found in the ruins. Thane asked for a sack of various other fresh fruits and farm grown vegetables, giving a slight cough to cover the difference in his voice when the vendor looked at him. When they were done they made their way to the main gates, stopping at the khajiit caravan and doing some more trading.

 

When they entered the town their eyes were everywhere, Thane and Samara drew their heavy fur cloaks closer about them, more to hide their slight body differences and in case their coloring showed, than because they were chilled. They went to the armory and bartered their unnecessary equipment; what was left they took across the street to the Drunken Huntsman. The shop owner purchased all the Falmer bows and arrows at a good price, once Shepard charmed the bosmer, his large dark eyes twinkling with merriment.

 

The general goods merchant was a sleazy little breton man whose eyes didn’t wander above Samara’s chest. Vashlani cleared his throat then placed all their miscellaneous gear on the counter. He frowned at the amount of gold the man quoted him. Samara said in her calm, sultry voice, “Are you quite sure that is what you can offer for this?” She took a step forward, thankfully the whole place wasn’t all that well lit, and leaned forward slightly. Her blue chest was covered in a thin gauzy shirt and the corset pushed her already ample bosom, up even higher. They watched the man’s eyeballs almost pop from their sockets then he nearly doubled his offer. Making a not so subtle comment that he could offer more if she wouldn’t mind meeting him later. Samara huskily chuckled and told him she would think about it.

 

Shepard eyed Samara and Kasumi grinned at the asari after they left the shop. “Damn, I thought I was good at schmoozing the discounts. Maybe we should let you do the “Favorite Store in Whiterun routine.” Samara gave her a small smile.

 

“In my youth, I dealt with many a male like that one. Easily handled because they never look a well-endowed asari in the eyes.” The women started to laugh. Thane and Vashlani only shook their heads.

 

Vashlani did a brisk trade with the apothecary, almost laughing when she tried to tell Thane he had Rockjoint. He apologized but said a potion had already cured it, mayhap she was mistaken. She hummed and said no, he definitely had Rockjoint or maybe it was the Rattles. Vashlani paid for his purchases and assured the woman that they were heading toward the Temple where he could pray to the Goddess for a blessing. That way they could be sure it was completely cured.

 

“The woman was off her rocker. Thane doesn’t have Rockjoint or the Rattles, whatever the hell that is. What a phony,” Shepard growled.

 

“Not a phony, Shepard. She is an apothecary trying to sell her wares. Just because her diagnosis, at times, is not quite accurate, it doesn’t make her a phony. Just a bit...off. Although the ingredients she sells are quite good.”

 

They walked up the long flight of stairs and they all stared at the upside down long boat that was on a hill. “That’s Jorrvasker, home of the honorable company of Companions.” They started to turn away to view the huge tree, which just begun to bloom, when Vashlani heard his name being called.

 

A giant of a dark-haired nord jogged down the steps in heavy fur and metal armor with a wolf’s head engraved on it.

 

“You are Vashlani, the friend of our Harbinger?”

 

“I am Vashlani, yes. You were with the Dragonborn in Morthal.”

 

“Aye, my brother is with the Dragonborn now. Have you heard any news?” The large nord looked over the group and saw two of the members heavily bundled up even though the weather was fair that day and raised an eyebrow before looking around. “Maybe we should speak elsewhere, your friends shouldn’t be standing about with all the guards patrolling this area. Follow me.” He led them up the steps and around the side of the building to the training area, yelling “Clear the area, whelps.”

 

Apparently, no one argued with the huge male because everyone filed into the building. Shepard looked at him with a raised eyebrow, he looked at her with a matching one. Ahh, a natural leader.

 

“Harbinger left me in charge until they get back. My name is Vilkas. As I was asking, did you hear anything?” He motioned to the benches and chairs scattered around the area.

 

“Not since the Dragonborn asked this khajiit to handle a task for them. Their destination was Solstheim though, and two companions went along.”

 

Vilkas grunted, “Derkeethus and Farkas. I knew the Dragonborn should have taken me instead. My twin may be as strong as Ysgramor but he doesn’t always think things out. Derkeethus should be able to pick up the slack though, as long as they don’t run into a damn mage.”

 

Shepard cleared her throat and tipped her head toward Vashlani, the big man only shrugged and made no apology for his words.

 

They spoke a while longer then they made to leave. Vilkas stepped in front of Shepard and eyed her. “Would you care to join me for a mead later?”

 

Vashlani clenched his hands and looked away from them. The nord was a Companion and a human. A good match for Shepard.

 

“I’m flattered, but there is already someone who I am in a relationship with... sort of.”

 

The man grunted and told them to watch out for the guards and not to cause trouble.

 

Vashlani couldn’t help but glance her way as they made their way back to the square. “Vashlani does not understand, Shepard. A Companion was interested in you, one that is close to the Dragonborn and most of Skyrim has heard of the warrior twins. Why would you turn him away?”

 

They paused at the steps leading up to the Bannered Mare Inn and Shepard turned to him. “Because Vashlani what I said was true. I am in a relationship with someone kinda... with you. I’m trying to figure this all out, this whole... thing with you.” She turned away and didn’t see the way he swallowed and blinked. Kasumi patted his shoulder giving him a smile as she passed him on the stairs. The rest of the group went inside and they headed for the largest table in the most shadowed corner of the Inn they could find.