They arrived at Natasha’s home, Lakeview Manor, in the evening. Stenvar was astounded when he saw the estate, and he questioned how someone could build such a place by themselves. “I work on it whenever I can, but it’s fairly expensive!” she explained as she put her new horse in the stable. She added, “I have almost no coin at the moment, but that’ll be taken care of tomorrow.”
They went inside and Natasha introduced him to Lucia and Sofie. The girls had already eaten dinner, but Natasha gave them sweet rolls before tucking them into their beds. As she told them a story, Stenvar waited outside the room, quietly admiring the common area upstairs that was open to the dining hall below. A large chandelier hung above the open space and an impressive elk trophy was mounted on the wall. When Natasha joined him, he said, “You’ve done a fine job here. Have you paid for all this by adventuring?”
“Actually, my alchemy funds all of this and my adventuring. There’s a poison I make that sells for about five hundred septims per vial! It’s in high demand lately–especially in Falkreath–so we’ll make a trip into town tomorrow to sell some more. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to pick up some better armour too.”
“Really? I think what you have now is perfect.” Stenvar grinned playfully, and Natasha simply offered to cook a late meal with fresh ingredients from her small garden. He noticed how she changed when she was at home; she relaxed completely and her loving, generous nature was on full display.
After spending two full days with the girls, Natasha suggested they go on a little adventure together before taking care of the assassination contract. “We should get used to fighting together,” she explained. “There’s a woman in Whiterun that I promised to help, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I’ve got to go kill some foreign thugs in a cave!”
They passed through Whiterun on their way to the cave called Swindler’s Den. Natasha was finally able to find new light armour that was stronger than the Daedric armour she’d been wearing. She wasn’t happy being in Elven armour though. After they left Whiterun, she noticed Stenvar wearing Imperial gauntlets. “Don’t we look like a pair of traitors?” she asked with a laugh. She referred to the fact that elves defeated the Empire in the Great War, which resulted in the Empire’s agreement to outlaw the worship of Talos.
“I know, but it’s not wise to pass through Imperial territory in Nord gear these days,” he explained.
“What do you mean? Siddgeir told me this is Stormcloak territory.”
Stenvar chuckled. “Siddgeir’s an idiot. Truth is, Balgruuf goes whichever way the wind blows, so he’s with the Imperials. He’s a traitor to his own people.”
They reached the cave and fought side-by-side all night. At one point, Natasha was ambushed by powerful mages who attacked her from a ledge. She dashed into cover and healed herself up so she could face them again. It was a tough battle for her, and she couldn’t see Stenvar anywhere. When she finally killed the mages, she ran around the cave looking for him. She found him in a narrow passage they used earlier. “I thought you were dead!” she exclaimed when she saw him again.
“You told me to wait here,” he replied. She said it in the heat of battle, and they both chuckled over the miscommunication. Stenvar told her, “You know, I’m not going to listen to you if you tell me to wait ever again.”
They continued through the cave and fought a gang of foreign Redguard warriors in the deepest cavern, and they loved every moment of it. They were like excited children when they emerged from the cave in the morning. “I haven’t had that much fun in a long time,” Natasha revealed as she mounted her horse. Stenvar agreed, and she wondered, “I’ve taken a lot of your time already–do you want me to pay your fee again before we go to Riften?”
He declined. “I’m good. I’ll be able to pay my bills, and that’s all I need.” He added, “You’ve been a good friend to me–that means something.”
His words made her smile brightly. She considered the people she helped as friends, but saw Stenvar as a true friend who would help her if she ever needed help. Natasha enjoyed the feeling as she took a deep, relaxing breath. Returning to the original topic, she told him, “At the very least, keep anything you find if we do this again… unless you find books or things that sparkle.”
They returned to Whiterun to report back to the woman they helped. The leader of the gang had tried to convince Natasha to double cross her, but she trusted that her decision to protect the woman and kill off the gang was the right thing to do. The woman was grateful and relieved to know she was safe from those thugs, and paid what she could in return.
Natasha decided to leave her horse at the Whiterun stables so she could walk with Stenvar on their journey east. When they passed the fort, Stenvar talked about his childhood dream to own a fort of his own one day. “I cleared that place out and came back for the books!” Natasha told him with a hint of pride.
“My mom would scold me real good for digging around in old forts,” he replied.
Just then, a bard approached them on the road and offered to perform for them. It was a sunny day, full of happiness, so Natasha accepted; listening to music while enjoying the view would only make it better! The bard asked if they had a request and Stenvar immediately spoke up, “The Dragonborn Comes.”
“Oh, not that song,” Natasha pleaded, “I’m so sick of it. Loyalist bards sing it every time I go to a tavern.” When Stenvar told her it’s his favourite song, she relented, and they danced while the bard sang for them.
“Why do you hate that song?” Stenvar questioned when the bard walked away.
“I don’t hate it,” she answered. “I just don’t like this Dragonborn stuff.”
“If you want to be a true daughter of Skyrim, you need to understand our beliefs. That song reminds us to remain hopeful–especially in times of war. It inspires us to be heroic in our own ways, and to trust that it’ll all work out.”
Natasha was quiet for a moment, then apologized. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry… I just don’t like the pressure I feel when people call me the Dragonborn. Fighting dragons isn’t easy for me, and I’m certainly no hero–right now I’m off to murder an old lady!”
“Hey now, the Dragonborn is a hero, not a saint. Just keep an open mind about it,” he advised.
They continued on their route to Riften, and it was late at night when Natasha stopped to catch her breath. They were near a village named Ivarstead, and she suggested a stay at the inn there. Then she remarked, “This area is so beautiful! I almost can’t believe it.”
After gazing at the stars for a few minutes, Stenvar wondered about her family back in Cyrodiil. She told him about her mother’s death when she was very young. “Were you an orphan yourself?” he asked.
“No. That would’ve been better, I think.” To avoid talking about that subject she said, “We better get going before I pass out.”
They walked the rest of the way to Ivarstead in silence. Between killing a few wolves and a bear, Natasha refrained from even looking at Stenvar. She was infatuated with him and didn’t want to show it. She tried to ignore those feelings and focus on the gorgeous scenery surrounding them.
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