“Marina,” the warrior protests weakly. He’s not entirely sure whether it’s everything that he desperately wants to say, or the emotion that’s making him choke on his tongue, but he already knows there is nothing he can say that will convince her to stay. She can’t.
“This could be our chance, Alistair,” she replies, with a sad half-smile, fat tears running silently down her cheeks.
Yes, he’d known that already. The most-recent letter in her hand from Aventus is perhaps the most promising lead they’ve had yet. The answer- the cure- for the Calling may yet lie within their reach to the North. Hope for a more lasting future, free of the taint and the nightmares. To retire. If any Warden had earned that right, then surely hadn’t they? That does not, however, make the idea of parting from her any easier. Marina Amell is a fighter, so strong. More than capable of looking after herself, but the thought of not being there to watch her back, to fight at her side… She’s become his world. And the thought of her alone, of her half a world away, neither entirely certain for how long…
He’d be angry at first. Stubbornly insisted that there must be some other way, even as he knew better. He regrets it now- the time he’d wasted shouting, not speaking to her. Hours he might have spent just holding her close, re-memorizing everything about her, all that he will miss, all that he will have to cling to when she leaves. This was their quest. They had only begun it in the hopes of stealing more time together, they should find the cure the same way they have done everything since that fateful day they’d first met at Ostagar: together.
But there are whispers. Dangerous ones. About Corypheus, about the Wardens. Just because they desire to be free of the Order doesn’t mean either of them doesn’t recognize their necessity, doesn’t mean they wish their fellow brothers and sisters any ill.
One last task for them both, and then…
“The next time I see you-” she whispers, wide and still teary blue eyes staring up at him.
“It will be for good,” he replies nodding, swallowing hard, before pulling her into his arms for one final fierce hug and a kiss salted with their tears.
“I really wish I could adopt all the kids from Honorhall Orphanage as well as Aventus Aretino. I know the Dragonborn could’ve given them a good and loving home - and fulfill their dream of becoming Dark Brotherhood assassins and helping people like he helped them.”
Haha, yes! Also, Bron is an Imperial, and not even particularly tall one (I mean, he’s probably like 15cm shorter than Skaila)… So picture this - lanky 16-year-old Aventus who’s already head taller than him:
“I was excited to start Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood quest line, since I enjoyed Oblivion’s so much. Until, I walked into Aventus Aretino’s home and saw him standing over the black sacrament, so excited to see me. The whole scene really soured me to the Dark Brotherhood. Instead of joining them, I killed them all.“
Heart pounding, Clarke glances around and behind her a final time to ensure that none of the Riften guards are nearby before she places her pick in the lock and carefully eases open the door to Honorhall Orphanage. She is barely inside the door when she hears her–the headmistress, Grelod the Kind.
The woman’s cruel, gravelly voice suits her much better than her name given the way she seems to take pleasure in berating and degrading the children. The way she speaks to the them, calling them worthless, telling them they will never leave as they will never be loved or accepted by anyone other than her, sets Clarke’s teeth on edge. Aventus had been right–this woman is abusive, an ugly soul who should never have been given the right to look after children.
Still, Clarke feels uneasy with the thought of killing the woman. She isn’t exactly sure what ‘The Black Sacrament’ is and beyond a few whispers, she knows very little of The Dark Sisterhood. She certainly isn’t affiliated with them, but she had been unable to say as much to Aventus. He had seemed so desperate, so exhausted, so … unhappy, and it tore at Clarke in the worst way.
A loud smacking sound rips through the air, pulling Clarke’s attention back to the present, and she quickly eases her way to the edge of the doorway so that she can peek around. When she sees a young girl with short blonde hair and a ragged yellow dress clutching her reddening cheek and fighting back tears, Clarke’s chest burns with a rage that consumes her in seconds, and suddenly she is itching to end this woman.
When Grelod the Kind sends the children to bed moments later before heading to bed herself, Clarke takes a deep breath and readies herself. She waits for the children to settle down in their beds, for their breaths to even out and their chests to rise and fall with the deep comfort of sleep, before pulling her cowl up a bit so as to better cover her face and slipping around the corner. She crouches low and makes her way silently across the large open expanse of the orphanage to reach Grelod’s private room.
Pressing her ear to the door, Clarke hears nothing, and with her pulse still racing, she slowly opens the door and inches inside, closing it behind her. Grelod the Kind is curled in her bed, her eyelids fluttering in her sleep. Her face is weathered, aged and etched with the evidence of years of scowling, and her breath is labored. Clarke figures she wouldn’t have had many years left to live anyway.
Her palm sweats around the handle of her dagger as she carefully pulls it from her sheath. She can hear her heart pounding in her ears and part of her wants to stop this, stop herself before it is too late, but she thinks of that little girl, of the bruise that will likely mark the expanse of her cheek for days. She thinks of the tremors in Aventus’s voice, of the slump in these children’s shoulders, and her chest burns again with rage.
Clarke knows where to cut to end it quickly, and as old as this woman is … it should only take seconds. One swift slit to her carotid, and Grelod’s eyes blow wide before she clutches her neck, lets out a groaning wheeze, and then falls limp atop her bed moments later. Clarke lets out a shaky breath of relief, though her hands shake like they will never stop, and she quickly turns and runs from the place.
She has to get the hell out of Riften, at least for a while.