Previously: Of Echoes and Ghosts

Your Graces,

Now that I'm officially a member of the Blue Palace court, I've begun my in-depth assessments of my fellow courtiers...taking their temperature, if you will.

Elisif has granted me a large chamber to share with the Countess Carvain of Bruma. The Countess said something to me recently, about how much mortals prize gold and that if one waves enough gold around, all the doors open.

I found it amusing; when you think of vampire history, our kind have tried so many tricks to get mortals to invite us into their lives. We've played wanderers on the road, damsels in distress--the list goes on and on. I realize we do it in part because of the hunt, but I realize I'm not here as a hunter. Or maybe I am.

Either way, I find Thane Bryling to be the most obvious prey...after Elisif, of course.


For a noblewoman who was notoriously poor, Bryling had a very nice house.

Her shame, coupled with her stubborn Nord pride, had driven her to declare she "wasn't up to entertaining visitors". As such, getting into her house was nigh impossible for most people. Bryling's housecarl, a usually talkative old man ever ready to regale the unwilling listener, refused to even trade greetings with people anymore.

Viktoriyah, of course, deduced that the quickest way to the Thane's heart was through her stomach. Three pigs, five chickens, a sack of flour, a crate of apples, and a barrel of potatoes later, she got an invite.

The Thane briefly acknowledged her in the palace courtyard, early the next morning. Followed by her ever loyal housecarl, she stopped walking long enough to trade pleasantries.

"Miss...Viktoriyah," she stated coolly, her voice low and strong.

Bitch, don't act like you have trouble remembering my name, Viktoriyah smiled back at her. You're literally wearing a copy of my dress. "My lady," she curtsied.

"You should join me this afternoon at my home," the Thane suggested. "Noon, perhaps?"

"Noon is perfect, my lady."

Bryling granted her a curt nod before continuing, leaving the vampire to grin after her.

Viktoriyah drank a potion of blood, which ended up being a waste; what had promised to be a sunny day ended up perfectly dreary and gray. She showed up precisely at noon, when the white-haired housecarl let her in.

The walls and floors were like those of the Blue Palace, pompous and ancient Imperial stone with engraved pillars. It could have used some finer furnishings, of course; it looked as though every piece of finery had been stripped from the home and replaced with an item of lesser quality.

No doubt to sell or barter, Viktoriyah mused, her eyebrow raised. The household was clearly running on empty. There were no servants present whatsoever to cook, clean, or receive guests, which left the Thane and her housecarl to do for themselves.

He was cooking, her housecarl; he was laboring over a pot while something baked in the oven. Viktoriyah smelled apples in one whiff, and pork in another.

"The Thane is upstairs," he told her gruffly.

Viktoriyah bowed her head politely glided up the stairs, admiring the ancient manor as she went.

The Thane was waiting for her in a small sitting room with only one chair. She had a some bread and cheese laid out, and goblet of cheap mead, but she offered Viktoriyah neither a seat nor refreshment.

Attempting to reestablish dominance, Viktoriyah raised an eyebrow. Petty, but understandable.

"My lady," Viktoriyah greeted with a curtsy.

"Viktoriyah," the Thane replied, her tone bordering on clipped. "I received the most interesting delivery yesterday. From the butcher, the baker, the market--I was both surprised and not a little confused as to why so much food was sent to me."

Ah, straight to the point. "A humble gift, my lady," Viktoriyah assured her.

"Gift?" The Thane's eyes narrowed. "I don't know what gossip you've heard at court, Miss Viktoriyah, but I accept neither bribery nor charity."

Your housecarl is literally cooking my food as we speak, the vampire blinked. "Forgive me, my lady; that was not in my intent. I merely wished to thank you for not treating me like a lowborn servant at court."

"You attend Elisif herself," the Thane noted. "You are anything but."

"And yet, I was never formally invited to the Blue Palace," Viktoriyah told her. "I'm not descended from Thanes or princes or kings." She paused for effect. "I often feel like an outsider. I was assigned a room with a countess nobody likes, and sometimes, I can't help but feel as though my presence is unwanted."

The ensuing silence between them spoke volumes. They both knew Viktoriyah was needed at court; the palace funds were thin and Bryling herself had no funds to speak of. The friendship of a rich girl like Viktoriyah was an obvious asset, but Bryling wanted to appear neither beggarly nor corrupt.

"Hardly," the Thane said neutrally. "You mustn't mind the wagging tongues. Every castle has them and they are practically designed to be ignored."

"Of course, my Thane," Viktoriyah nodded. "And I pray do not think my gifts are untoward. I am always generous with my friends, and I would very much like us to be friends while I'm in Skyrim."

Bryling's shoulders relaxed. She liked the sound of that of that last part, that at some point Viktoriyah would leave Skryim, and she could forget all this embarrassing business.

"Naturally," the Thane nodded stiffly.

It physically hurts her to accept help, the vampire mused. She presented the Thane with a large coin purse and a brilliant smile.

"Then please accept one more token of my affection, my lady," Viktoriyah benevolently beamed. It was at least a thousand septims, give or take. In a city where the average dress cost hundreds, it was a small fortune, but a fortune nonetheless. "And let us part as friends."

A/N ~ I'm sorry!!! I didn't mean to be gone so long. First it was because I needed all new screenshots for both this fic and Indrathel, and then it was because I got randomly caught up in my Ursula fic on my Dark & Twisty blog (it's complete, lol). I'll try to do better!


Popular Posts