After a fortnight of going on small missions with Rikke, I packed Shadowmere up to return to Solitude. Not many nights passed until Rikke and her camped soldiers also decided to return home.
Irritatingly enough, Rikke decided to barge into my quarters whilst my head was between the Emperor's cousin's thighs. Her wedding was only a few days off, and I finally decided to take advantage of her lewd glances in my direction. Thankfully, Rikke was a loyal companion and mentioned nothing of it after the catastrophe. Vittoria chuckled into my bare shoulder once Rikke slammed the door.
She looked up at me with a wide grin, "Thankfully, I will have made decent love before being forced to marry that unbearably impotent prince."
I chuckled at her cheeky comment on the poor boy's performance issues then looked at her sternly, "DECENT? I'll show you decent!" I slipped my head back under the pelt, kissing down her stomach. She giggled up until she, "U-unh!" and gripped at my hair.
Every day was the same when the blonde was off doing missions for Oblivion knows whom. I would meet a new girl, and she would accompany me on an adventure through my sheets.
The next time I caught a glimpse of Aran, she was running around with my fellow werewolves in Jarravskr as I hunted through the forest near Falkreath. I was proud to say the least— until I unintentionally passed by her and Aela making quite a natural disturbance up against a tree. In an angry stupor, I shot a poisoned arrow above their heads and then kneeled for cover. They only stopped gasping for air momentarily to study the out of place projectile.
"Shh, I think it was just a hunting accident…" I heard Aela quiet the Dragonborn down. From what I could see through the brush, they moved to the ground. Shortly after, the only sounds I could hear in their direction were subtle rustling and occasional moans.
Thankfully, my Nightingale armor aided me in being as clandestine as possible as I moved away from them, red with fury. As soon as I was far enough out of sight, I grunted and thrust my sword deep into an innocent tree.
When I returned midday, the Dragonborn greeted me in the courtyard, as she was sharing a meal with many of the guards.
In bitterness, I walked past her salutations. However, I thought back to my own sexual engagements. Had I not lain with women as well? Perhaps I had invited even more women to my quarters than Aran had even laid eyes on—but my anger for witnessing her in the act was far too passionate.
I wanted to wrench back all the moments I had even begun to woo a woman to her own pleasure, just so that I may justify my seething rage. Vehement and nearly heartbroken, I trudged into the palace and toward my chamber. Upon my entrance, I slammed the heavy wooden door of my boardroom and heaved over several tables.
All of the pent up rage from Cristianna, and now Aran, sobbed itself out of my body as I sat upon the floor and gripped at my hair. My head hung apologetically between my legs until I heard someone thumping quietly at my door.
"General?" Rikke asked as she nudged her head into my chamber. I heard her gasp through the heavy drumming in my ears. Her boots stepped over broken glass in a rush to aid me to my feet. "General, what in Sovngarde's name happened here?"
Through uneven breaths I begged, "Please… I ask of you, leave me."
"General Brickenden," her eyes grew misty, "I could never leave you. You're practically my only kin. What is it that has burdened you so heavily?" I stumbled over to my bed and glared upon the mess I made of myself.
"I fear my existence is not purposed for as perplexing a thing as love."
"That is such nonsense," Rikke lightly shoved me, "What in Oblivion occurred for you to even think that?" I looked up at her with dreary eyes and then averted my gaze back to the floor. "Ahh, the Dragonborn." She knew, she had known all along.
A faint whimper escaped me as I avoided the statement. The Legate rubbed my back in an attempt to console me. I only sat stiffly. "Well if she is where your soul seems to lead, why are you in such grief?" She questioned me again.
I shakily said the overwhelming words, "I went hunting earlier, and I found her with Aela… the huntress."
"Why are you so upset? You've been with Vittoria Vici, herself! You've pleasured almost half of the Imperial Legion! If naught else, Aran should be the one to fall in anguish."
"Aye, but why would it matter to her? She has no sentiments for me, nor did she peer upon my deeds."
"So you've been jaded with envy," Rikke sighed shaking her head. She stood me up once more and led me to a washroom.
I reluctantly scrubbed my face from the bucket of river water. I set my head over another pail and she emptied the rest of the cool water over my head to soothe me.
Rikke attempted to repair my trampled hopes, "Perhaps, did you think, she might be doing this because she believes you've no feelings for her?"
"Perhaps…" the words gave me no faith whatsoever.
For the rest of that day, I brooded about Solitude. I sat and stared blankly inside the local inn and swallowed tankard after tankard of every kind of alcohol stored. I drank and drank until my consciousness departed from me.
I was cursed with one of the worst nightmares whilst I lay comatose. Forever I fell, as shouts from unknown places filled my head. In Aran's voice they echoed, "Never would I lay eyes on you." "You're a repentant excuse for a woman." "How does it feel to know I've been with one of your closest acquaintances?" Her angry laughter followed and enveloped me—until I awoke in broad daylight.
The light from the window blurred my vision of my surroundings. As I lay trying to allow my eyes focus, I realized I was in a small shack of a house—a house that I was very unfamiliar with. My skull pounded with the fury and force to knock a troll down to Oblivion.
A soft, almost whispery voice trickled into my ears, "Hullo, my name is Olen." I blinked a few times, embarrassed now as I realized I was completely unclothed beneath the layer of hide I now laid under.
"Olen, leave the General to rest," I heard what sounded like the Dragonborn from the other room. I heard light footsteps grow closer as Aran stepped into view. "I'm sorry, General, my younger sister can be quite a pest."
"Aran! I'm near sixteen now, I'm much too old to be considered a pest..."
"And yet you manage to be one, regardless. Now get on, Mum needs help with the food."
The shorter blonde rolled her eyes, "You haven't much precedence over me; you're only a year older."
Aran looked over at me with quietly pained eyes. She was most likely remembering my coldness towards her the day before. I sat up holding the hide to my chest.
"I'm sorry, I—"
"Don't," she swallowed and looked down, "Legate Rikke told me."