: I worked to come up with an ES-version of the cold shoulder. I am glad the Skyrim variety works. King Coin:
Ancondil will be the hero indeed!
So true too! ghastley
: I believe that men and women get divorced because they can. Simple as that. Until recently, it was just not an option for either one, or both, so people just got used to being miserable for the rest of their lives. Plus, in the past people did not expect to love their spouse, or experience any kind of bliss or have companionship. True love is a relatively recent invention, that sets the bar too high for most people to maintain forever. But what you said is true. Women sucker themselves into thinking that "if he loves me, he'll change," and men that she will always be an eighteen-year old hottie who will go down on them every night. Acadian
: I went back and did a little reworking of that passage you mentioned, as I could see where it could cause confusion. Teresa's cranial density and Ancondil's ever effective wit were indeed the stars of that last episode. They do make a great couple. mALX
: Yep, Ancondil really did not tell Teresa anything she did not know. All he did was make her really look at it all, without the usual self-doubt that typically short-circuits her. Grits
: No need to use Persuader on Teresa!
This next episode will see her once again going for the gusto, quirks and all. Olen
: Sometimes all we really need is for someone to tell what we already know, but have convinced ourselves to ignore. Teresa's slow realization about Tadrose's daughter was inspired by the Watchmen comics, which did the same basic thing with Laurie's realization that her father was The Comedian. One day Teresa will get the opportunity to repay the favor, when she puts on her Emma hat. But it will probably be a while. Tábrasa
: Wow, you are really going through the old chapters. It takes me forever to read. I doubt I would be half as far. Previously On Teresa of the Faint Smile:
Our last episode found Teresa asking Ancondil's advice on what to do about her and Tadrose. The Orisimer insisted that Tadrose did indeed love her, and suggested that Teresa try once more to get through to the dark elf. Next, in the final episode of this chapter, Teresa does exactly that. Something to listen to while you read. This song always reminds me of Teresa and TadroseChapter 42.6 – What Do You Want?
Teresa rose the steps to the second floor of the guild hall. The corridor bisecting the floor stretched out before her, seemingly miles long. Her heart raced as she willed her feet to carry her down its length. After what seemed like an eternity, she found herself at the door to Tadrose's room.
She licked her suddenly dry lips, and stared at the wooden boards that separated her from the Dunmer. She knew that was not the only thing between the two of them. How many of those barriers had she placed there herself? Could she swallow her pride and remove them? Could she really reach Tadrose this time, when she had failed before? Would she just make things even worse than they already were?
A scent filled her nostrils. It was deep, strong, and wild. She instantly recognized it as that of a bear. Teresa closed her eyes, and breathed the comforting smell deeply into her lungs. She thought of Bear, of his soft, warm fur enfolding her. She remembered Barenziah, whom she had healed, and who had healed her in turn.
Teresa opened her eyes and knocked on the door.
There was no answer from within. Teresa waited, yet heard no sound. She knocked once more, louder this time. Again, there was no answer. Had Tadrose gone? Or did she not want to speak with anyone?
Her hand went to the door knob, and twisted it open. At least it was not locked, Teresa thought. That saved her the trouble of trying to pick it. Methredhel had always been much better at that, and she had fallen out of practice since joining the Fighters Guild.
Pushing the door open, Teresa poked a curious head within. "Tadrose?" she called out uncertainly.
The Dunmer's chamber contained the same, plain furnishings that all of their rooms did. There was a bed, dresser, mirrored wash basin, and combination dressing table and desk. Her elven armor grew from an arming rack in one corner, and Anganar
was sheathed beside it. There was little else however. The walls were bare of adornment, but for a single low bookcase packed with worn volumes. A ceramic vase stood atop it, sprouting bright yellow flax. Alongside it lay a bared arming sword of ordinary grey steel. Its handle was wrapped in pewter wire, and its pommel was a simple disc of metal. The single window in the room faced west, and through it Teresa could see the lowering sun filling the mountains with red and orange light.
Teresa glanced from the window to the arming sword, so out of place next to the armorer's elven armor and longsword. Why would Tadrose keep such an unassuming weapon in her room, seemingly on display? She was capable of creating far more potent - and artistic - creations after all. Then Teresa's eyes moved back to the dark elf, and she forgot everything else.
The Dunmer was dressed in a simple flax top and a pair of leather pants. She stood before her dresser, taking the neatly folded clothing from within and stuffing it into a large duffel bag. Her eyes turned to meet Teresa's, and the wood elf saw something briefly flash there. Whether it was surprise, dread, or even relief, she could not discern. Then the armorer turned back to her packing.
Teresa bit her lip, and stepped fully into the room. "Tadrose?" the forester said again in a soft voice. But the dark elf ignored her, and went on with her work. Teresa shut the door behind her, and walked over to the slightly taller elf.
"What are you doing?" Teresa asked. A dark, empty place opened within her heart as she watched the dark elf. She knew the answer before Tadrose uttered the words. She was leaving.
"I am quitting the guild," Tadrose said plainly.
Teresa closed her eyes. While said quietly, the dark elf's words thudded in her heart like blocks of stone, crushing all hope beneath them.
"Have you told Pappy yet?" Teresa forced herself to ask in an equally soft tone.
"Not yet," Tadrose said coolly. She nodded to a sealed letter on the dressing table. "I have written him a letter of resignation. I will give it to him when I have finished packing."
"What will you do?" Teresa forced the words around the growing lump in her throat. Raven, please don't let her be leaving Bravil too!
"I have money in the temple," the Dunmer said. "I shall open an armory of my own, probably somewhere on the South Isle. That is where all the metal workers are."
"It's because of me, isn't it?" Teresa barely pushed the words from her lips. Her throat was tight, and she was afraid she might begin to cry again. She fought through it all, and reached out with one hand and laid it upon the Dunmer's arm. "Tadrose, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for how I've been acting. I'm sorry for everything."
"It is not your fault." Tadrose ceased her packing, and turned to look at the wood elf. "It was all mine. I should not have led you on. I should not have lost control. I know I have hurt you. You probably cannot believe it right now, but I really did not mean to."
She gently disengaged her arm from Teresa, and went back to her packing.
"Stop Tadrose," Teresa stepped closer, and laid her hand down over one of the dark elf's. "Please don't leave. Not because of me. I know I've been a s'wit to you. I promise, it won't happen again."
"Teresa, I understand," the Dunmer said. "What I did to you was terrible. It is only natural for you to be angry, to hate me, for it."
"I don't hate you Tadrose." In spite how desperately she tried to dam them, now tears did begin to spill down Teresa's cheeks. "I could never hate you. I lo…"
There was so much more she wanted to say, but the words would not come out. Teresa lowered her head, and stared at the floor. Was this it? Was it truly over forever?
She heard Tadrose sigh, and moment later felt the dark elf's arms draw her close. Teresa breathed in the scent of her primrose body wash, and felt the hard muscles of her body so close to her own. She burned those sensations into her brain, knowing that it might be the last time she ever felt them again.
"I don't want to lose you Tadrose," Teresa found herself sobbing.
Tadrose shushed her with a gentle voice, and led her to the bed. There they sat side by side. Each slid one arm about the another, while their free hands clasped together between their laps. Teresa laid her head on Tadrose's shoulder, and felt the other woman's lean against her own in turn. They sat there for long minutes, until the wood elf's tears finally subsided.
"Tadrose, I know you had a daughter by that man." Teresa gently lifted her head and gazed into the Dunmer's darkened eyes. "I know you… lost her, because of your family." The wood elf could not bring herself to come out and bluntly say that Tadrose's daughter had been murdered by her own family, even though in her heart she knew it was true.
"That's why this is all so hard for you, isn't it?"
Tadrose nodded, and now Teresa saw the tears begin to fall from the dark elf's own eyes. She drew her hand free of the Dunmer's, and reached up to brush them away. But they continued to cascade down the dark elf's face. Teresa reached back into the elf's dark hair, and pulled her head down to her shoulder. She rocked Tadrose gently, while great, hitching sobs racked the armorer's frame.
"I only saw her for a moment," Tadrose wept. "After she came out of me. I never even had the chance to hold her. Not even once. Then they took her away and…"
"I am so sorry." Teresa did not know what to say. She could simply not imagine how that must have felt. Or how it must still feel. Instead she thought of Bear, and tried to channel all of the spirit guide's healing energy through her body and into Tadrose. She sat there while the Dunmer cried, and Teresa wondered if this was the first time Tadrose had ever told another person about her daughter? She imagined it was, and simply held on as ten years of torment flowed from the other woman.
In time, Tadrose grew still, and pulled back from Teresa's embrace. She did not look at the Bosmer. Instead she simply stared down at her lap. "When I first came here, I felt like my heart had been ripped out," she said quietly. "My entire life, everything I had ever lived for, had been just torn away."
Teresa did not reply. Instead she laid one hand on the other woman's leg, and squeezed gently.
"For the past ten years, I have gone through life like a zombie," Tadrose continued. "I have not felt anything. Not love, not hope, not joy, nothing at all. I learned how to work metal, and spent all my time in the forge, so I would not have to face living. Then I became vice-commander, and spent even more of my time with the guild, anything to take my mind off…"
"Then you came." Now Tadrose lifted her eyes to meet those of Teresa. "You came, and changed the world. You breathed color back into my life. You have such a love for live, your spirit is filled with beauty and compassion, that you made me dare to live again. You made me dare to feel again. It felt as if you had lifted me up on your wings and bore me to Aetherius itself."
"But you're afraid of losing it all again, aren't you," Teresa bit her lip.
Tadrose nodded, and looked down at her lap. "I just cannot go through that again. I cannot. I would rather be dead."
"So that's why you want to leave," Teresa said, trying her best to keep the dread she felt out of her voice.
"I do not want to leave. I just cannot do it Teresa," Tadrose said. Her eyes welled up with tears as she turned to face Teresa once more. "I cannot be your-"
"Just tell me one thing Tadrose," Teresa interrupted her softly. "What do you want?"
"Teresa, I canno-"
The wood elf cut her off again, this time placing one finger on the Dunmer's lips.
"I didn't ask you what you can't
do," she insisted. "I asked what you want
. Just tell me."
Tadrose stared down at her lap.
"I want you," she said in a tiny, cracking voice. "I want you."
"Then you shall have me," Teresa resolved. She did not know where her confidence suddenly came from. It may have been from her spirit guides, or perhaps it had even been buried somewhere deeply within herself all along. But it was there, and she let it carry her along.
"I don't know everything that happened to you in Morrowind." Teresa now reached out and wrapped both of her hands around Tadrose's. "And I don't know what the future will bring. But I do know one thing, and that is us. I know that we can face anything, even the Daedra in your past. We can do it just like we faced that lich - together."
"I don't know if I can," the other woman lamented.
"You have no idea what you can do," Teresa said with a quiet smile, remembering the same words Uriel Septim had once spoken to her. "But I do. You didn't join the Fighters Guild because you wanted to spend the rest of your life running. You did it because you wanted to fight. It's our choices that define us. That's how you defined yourself then. How are you going to define yourself now?"
Tadrose sat for long moments, staring down at their clasped hands. Teresa swallowed hard, crushing the lump trying to form again in her throat. This was it, she knew, she had thrown the dice once more. Would she come up dragon eyes? Or would she roll the hard six?
"I define myself as yours." Tadrose pulled her hands from Teresa's, only to gently place them about the wood elf's head. Leaning closer, she planted a soft kiss upon the Bosmer's lips. Then another, and another. Teresa wrapped both of her arms around Tadrose's waist, and let herself float away on the moment.
When Tadrose finally pulled away, she smiled, and then looked down again. "I am going to need some time Teresa," she said. "Time to get used to this. Can we take this slowly?"
"We are both elves," Teresa smiled broadly. "We have all the time in the world."
Tadrose answered her with a smile. It made Teresa's heart feel as if it would burst from her chest and fly to Aetherius. The armorer reached out and took the Bosmer's hand once more.
"So what do we do now?"
"Well, we could go downstairs and see if anyone wants to play mahjong," Teresa grinned.
The dark elf made a face, and swatted at Teresa's nose with playful fingers. The wood elf dodged back, and found herself tipping off-balance and falling back across the bed. The next thing she knew Tadrose was on top of her, giggling like a ten-year old as they wrestled.
Teresa could have sworn that the Dunmer was Dibella herself in that moment, and could not stop herself from giggling with delight as well. When finally they grew still, Tadrose leaned her head down, so that her forehead was touching Teresa's. Her red eyes were filled with warmth, and the Dunmer smiled shyly.
"I love you Teresa."
Teresa closed her eyes as the Dunmer leaned closer, and a moment later the dark elf's lips softly met her own. She pulled the other woman closer as they kissed. The Dunmer's strong arms enveloped her, and Teresa breathed the scent of her hair deeply into her nostrils. She reveled in the moment, wishing it could last forever.
When finally they did draw apart, both women rose up to a sitting position. Teresa leaned her head upon Tadrose's shoulder, and smiled as the other woman snuggled up close to her.
"Why don't we just watch the sunset?" Teresa suggested. Her eyes stared out the window, to where the horizon glowed in a brilliant swath of red, orange, and yellow.
Nothing was trivial, she thought as she held Tadrose close, nothing at all.