Welcome to chapter six! Happy things happen. And also maybe some sketchy things.

Here’s a drawing of Rei, I’m gonna leave here. He looks younger than he is. But he’s wearing his mullethawk which I totally need to finally model, even if it’s not got the same vibe as Skyrim-Rei has developed. I’d forgotten the way I used to use “stroke path” (giggity) but I rediscovered it, and that, plus a nice, careless watercolor stroke makes for a cleaner look than I could get otherwise.

Anyway, have fun!

Oh it should also go without saying that thanks to SkyrimElder Scrolls economic weirdnesses in game, I don’t know what money’s worth. If ya don’t like what I wrote there, make something up! The world is your oyster!

It was hard to sleep that night, even for Sabrael. He liked soft things, like the seabed or washed-up seaweed or hay or the furs and bedroll Rei laid down for him or…

He flipped onto his stomach and covered his head with his pillow. He noticed that Rei was out like a light in a way he rarely ever was. He’d often said of Sabrael that he’d sleep so deeply he could no longer feel him, and Sabrael could never fathom what that would be like. Now he could. It somehow made sense that Rei would sleep so well on a rock.

He sighed and turned onto his back. On top of everything else, tomorrow was going to be exciting, and right now he was excited. There was nothing he could do. Thinking about bad or icky things wasn’t working, nor was biting his tongue or digging his nails into his skin. It was too risky to sneak over and wake Rei, and he knew it was likely Rei wouldn’t appreciate it, considering their surroundings.

Biting his lip, Sabrael looked over to his right where all the monks were sleeping quietly. It had been quite a while since he’d masturbated entirely on his own, and, urgency aside, it seemed pretty appealing. He could slip into his own fantasies, make up his own stories. Not that showing off for Rei or Tauryon wasn’t fun, but he’d forgotten about just how good alone time could be.

He slipped his right hand under the covers and slid it over his manhood to squeeze and tug at his balls.

There had been a kelpie he’d harbored a passing fancy for: a lithe, slender male younger than him whose cobalt fur and scales were marked with reddish-brown stripes. They had played together a few times, both sexually and for fun. Phanuel had tried to encourage the relationship in light of Celedaen’s appearance, but Sabrael wasn’t interested, and neither was-

“Stadiel,” he breathed inaudibly as he moved his hand back up. Sticky fluid was leaking from him already, and his legs were shaking.

He recalled the movements, long, serpentine bodies twined together and spiraling as they swam as a single entity.

His fingers wrapped around his cock properly, and he began pulling quickly, just at the end so that his hand moved rapidly over the head

They’d come to rest in the seaweed. Stadiel was already inside him, leaning forward against Sabrael’s twitching erection.

Sabrael grit his teeth against the deep moan threatening to escape. Stadiel would bring him just to the brink before he, himself, came, and then they would switch places, and Sabrael would take his turn. Even after all this time, he could remember the feeling around him: soft, tight, warm.

He plunged his other hand down and began rubbing his sac as his other hand quickened its pace. Oh, how he wanted to call his friend’s name the way he always did Rei’s! And how wonderful would it be to mate with another kelpie again! His right leg was shaking so hard it was bouncing off the thin fur pallet.

Oh, Stadiel, please!

In his mind’s eye he saw his friend explode once more, his sperm an oddly lovely cloud in the water, and before the first jet had given way to the second, Sabrael, in a sudden moment of clarity, clumsily swatted the blanket covering him away, planted his feet and pushed his hips up as he blew his own load hard onto his stomach.

He kept rubbing himself as he came down, panting as quietly as he could. After mating, he and Stadiel would nestle down on the seabed together. Usually Stadiel would hook his head over Sabrael’s neck while Sabrael leaned into his chest. It wasn’t as nice as it was with Rei, not being in love with the other kelpie, but thinking about it again was wonderful.

His eyelids were heavy now, finally. Carefully he tucked himself back into his underwear, wondering how, exactly, he’d take care of the mess. His clothes lay neatly on the stand beside the bed. Rei would be upset, he knew, but he could at least sneak his under shirt in with the laundry Rei would pay to be taken care of in the next city.

The next city, he thought happily.

He nestled back down under the blanket and let the afterglow lull him to a welcome sleep.

It didn’t feel like he’d slept very long when Sabrael felt Rei’s hand on his arm.

“Come on, beauty,” he was saying gently. “We need to get a move-on.”

Sabrael slipped his arm from Rei’s grasp and grabbed his shoulder, pulling down.

“No, no, no,” Rei laughed, only lightly resisting. “I’ll go back to sleep.”

“Let’s sleep all day,” Sabrael mumbled. “I barely slept last night.”

“Poor thing.”

Rei carefully worked himself onto the narrow bed, behind Sabrael, and he grabbed his love’s arm as it wrapped around his waist.

“I don’t know how you slept so deeply,” he said.

“I’ve always liked hard beds. I suppose your little sleeping potion didn’t help?”

“Oh no, is it that obvious?”

Rei chuckled softly. “I vaguely recall feeling something. I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t just a dream, though.”

“I was pretty worked-up.”

“Mm. What were you thinking about?”

“You won’t be jealous?”

“I’ve shared you with two other people, Sabrael, one of whom is very obviously in love with you. I don’t think a fantasy is going to change much.”

Sabrael giggled. “I was just remembering a kelpie I used to play with.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. We weren’t very close; we just helped take care of each other sometimes.”

“That’s rather sweet,” Rei said.

Sabrael smiled as the long arm around him drew him closer.

“Alright, beauty. Up, up, up.”

Groggily he obeyed and slipped his clothes on, managing somehow to stuff the soiled undershirt into the inside pocket of his jacket.

They ate a mostly-silent breakfast with the Greybeards, Rei occasionally picking the one called Arngeir’s brain. Sabrael didn’t entirely know what to make of these new developments. Rei was unusually sure and focused, traits Sabrael had largely chalked up to Azura’s influence, but there was something else there, too. Something uncomfortable.

“Rei?” he asked as they descended the mountain.

“Yes, beauty?”

“What’s ‘nationalism’?”

Rei looked over at him curiously. “Why?”

“Well, Balgruuf said that Nords and Altmer have nationalism in common. It’s obvious what it is, I think, but it seems like there’s more to it.”

“Nationalism is a word people use when,” he paused as he took a breath and searched his mind, “when something like ‘pride’ isn’t enough. It’s not entirely a positive concept, depending on whom you talk to.”

“So the Jarl was insulting you?”

 “He was saying that Altmer and Nords tend towards zealousness in a way the other races don’t. Someone who’s described as nationalistic is someone who puts their race or general group above all else, as opposed to someone who is simply happy to be a citizen of their homeland.”

Sabrael thought of Tauryon and the conversation they’d had when Rei had been tied up in the guest bedroom. “Tauryon’s one, isn’t he? Are you?”

“Tauryon is, yes. Both our families were. I’d venture to say that I am, as well, although that’s not without some reservation.”

“What do you mean?”

“A nationalist doesn’t generally murder his own people for fun and for the sake of daedric approval.”

“Yeah, I guess not,” Sabrael agreed.

They continued on in silence, the wind quieting and the snow giving way to grass as they drew closer to the bottom. Sabrael felt Rei’s conflict, and it hurt. He felt anger, too, anticipation and bloodlust.

“I love you, Rei,” he ventured.

Almost instantly the bad feelings seemed to disappear. He actually laughed a bit. “I love you, too, my beauty. You know I don’t suppose a lot of this matters.”

“What?”

“This whole nationalism business. I have you, and as long as I have you, I’m happy.”

 Sabrael breathed a sigh of relief and sidled next to his love, who put his arm around his shoulders and pulled him close.

It seemed to take forever for Rei to finish talking to Klimmek and for them to get their horses ready. With every passing second Sabrael got more and more excited for the next leg of their journey, to the point where he began bouncing on the balls of his feet to keep from yelling out his happiness. Rei had to tell him – though not unkindly – to try and calm down; it was making his heart skip uncomfortably.

He did his best, and once they’d properly started their journey to Riften, he found his nigh-unbearable anticipation was tempered by the beauty of the forest. The sun was climbing, casting muted light through the trees, tinged green and orange by leaves in transition. He breathed deep the smell of damp earth and water. He couldn’t see any, but he knew it was near. A lake, maybe. A river. Little creatures rustled through the ground cover, tiny voles trying to avoid big hooves.

Suddenly, Rei startled Sabrael out of his daydreams, asking, “Have you thought about a honeymoon?”

“Oh,” he answered, realizing he’d thought of everything but a honeymoon. “No, I guess I haven’t.”

“Why not?” Rei smiled.

“Well, I really don’t know that much about marriage, anyway,” Sabrael admitted. “I didn’t talk to very many people over the centuries, and when a kelpie finds his mate, that’s just how it is. What about you?”

“Well, I was thinking of someplace warm. Near water, of course.”

“I passed through Sentinel once when I while I was trying to reach you. That was before it got burned in the war. I don’t know what it’s like now, but it was pretty then.”

Rei nodded. “Sentinel is nice. We could go there in spring when it’s not too hot.”

“Yes!” Sabrael agreed, feeling new excitement bubble up. “That would give us time to take care of whatever Azura wants you to do.”

“Indeed. How nice would that be, my beauty?” Rei asked. “Some peace, finally.”

“It would be wonderful.”

When they reached the city, Sabrael felt uneasy. The man running the stables was nice, but the guards at the gate seemed unpleasant, and not just because he and his love were of daedric appearance. He felt Rei’s sense of watchfulness rise, and before gathering their things to bring to the inn, Rei slipped his dagger from its cloth wrappings and quickly threaded his belt through its scabbard.

“Rei, is this place dangerous?” Sabrael asked.

“Riften has a bit of a reputation,” Rei answered quietly, fussing with Sabrael’s jacket in an attempt not to look suspicious. “I wouldn’t worry about bodily harm, but I’d keep an eye out for pickpockets.”

Sabrael drew close to his love and wrapped his arm tightly around Rei’s narrow waist. Rei put his arm around his shoulders, in kind, and that made it a little better when one of the guards stepped into their path.

“May we enter?” Rei asked condescendingly.

“Might could. Soon’s you’ve paid the visitors’ tax.”

“Visitors’ tax?” Rei scoffed. “What nonsense is this?”

“You’re a visitor, ain’tcha? Visitors are taxed.”

This was one of the few times when Sabrael felt Rei’s annoyance as a relief. If he was only annoyed at someone, there wasn’t anything to be too afraid of.

“And how much are visitors taxed, good sir?” he drawled.

“How about, say, two-fifty for the little one. We’ll go with four hundred for you. You look like you could be trouble.”

“I don’t cave to extortion. If you’re going to lie in an attempt to line your own pockets, perhaps do so in a less thuggish manner, hm? It gives you away.”

“Well, I can always take you to jail,” the guard said.

Sabrael jumped as that nasty joy leapt from Rei’s heart into his.

In half a heartbeat, the ornate dagger was out and spun deftly in his right hand. Sabrael stepped back as his love took his place between him and the potential threat, pointing his blade at the guard’s neck. He didn’t need to see to know that Rei had drawn his lips back as he said, “At least let me earn it, snowback.”

“Hey, now!” the other guard spoke up, drawing his sword. “There’s no need for that.”

“Then there should be no need to rob my fiancee and me. Being that I would only kill a robber.”

The guard who had initially stopped them looked up at Rei with what appeared more like surprise at being so vehemently called out than terror at the nightmarish thing brandishing a dagger at his throat. He looked over to his companion, who waved his hand and shook his head.

“Go on. Before I change my mind.”

“We wouldn’t want that,” Rei said as he waited for the guard to resume his position. Sabrael let himself be pulled close protectively, and as they approached the gate, he wasn’t terribly surprised to see Rei spit on the ground, narrowly missing the guard’s feet.

“Watch yourself,” the guard called after them.

Sabrael looked this way and that, leaning as close to Rei as he could. Riften didn’t seem too bad. Most people looked normal. Others were kind of scary, like a tall, burly man with black hair, leaning against a post and eyeing them hard. He held onto Rei’s confidence and his comfort as hard as he could until they came to a cozy building with a sign out front which read “The Bee and Barb Inn & Tavern”.

It was dark inside and smoky, more populated than the other inns they’d stayed at, especially for being the middle of the day. Sabrael looked this way and that, listening to the melange of voices and taking in the different people of all sorts of races all in one place.

“People of Riften!” shouted one voice above all the others. Sabrael looked over to see a priest at the front of the room with his hands raised. “Heed my words! The appearance of dragons isn’t simply coincidence! It is a sign of Mara’s displeasure at the chaos you sow at the hands of drink and inebriation! Cease your-“

“Oh, no! Oh, no, no, no,” yelled an Argonian woman from the opposite side of the room. “Maramal, we’ve been over this. Talen!”

Sabrael saw a male Argonian pushing his way through the patrons and begin having a quiet word with the visibly unhappy priest.

“-and just let us sin in peace!” Talen pleaded as Maramal trudged out the door.

Sabrael felt a little bad for the priest, even though it didn’t seem like Talen was being mean about telling him to stop.

“I suppose that’s the man we’re here to see,” Rei mused.

“Is that bad?”

“Perhaps if I were more of a drunk than I already am.”

Sabrael laughed and let Rei lean down to take his lips in a quick kiss.

“Can I help you, er, gentlemen?” the male Argonian, Talen, interrupted them.

“We need a room, a meal, a bath, and laundry,” Rei said. “If you could help us with any of those, we’d be grateful.”

Talen looked Rei over with his sharp, yellow eyes while his bright red throat bobbed gently. He might have been the most beautiful Argonian Sabrael had ever seen.

“We can help you with all those things, traveler.”

“Excellent.”

“Just talk to Keerava over by the bar. She’s in charge.”

“Wait here, beauty,” Rei said. “I don’t want to lug these bags through all those people.”

Sabrael nodded and started fidgeting with his fingers.

“Pardon my saying,” Talen said, “but we don’t see many daedra come through here.”

“Oh,” Sabrael answered nervously. “Well, actually, I’m a daedra. Rei Ginsei over there, Clavicus Vile made him look that way a long time ago. He’s an Altmer.”

“I see. What brings you to Riften?”

“We’re getting married.”

“Congratulations. I hope to be married, myself, soon.”

“You hope?”

“Keerava is the love of my life, but I need the proper ring before I can propose.”

“I need an engagement ring, too,” Sabrael said, feeling something in him relax a bit. “We’re getting married, anyway, since Rei says there’s lots of time for me to find the perfect one. Maybe you and Keerava should do the same?”

Talen laughed – a slow, soft sound that originated in his chest. “We’re a bit more traditional. The proposal band has to be given first, and its makings must be specific.”

“You mean significant to you and her?”

“Yes, but it must also have three amethysts set into it. One in the middle to represent the Hist, something all Argonians consider a part of their life, and one on either side to represent the husband and wife.”

Sabrael thought for a moment. “I wonder if I could think of something similar for me and Rei.”

“Oh, I’m sure. There’s a jeweler in the plaza named Madesi. He’s another Argonian and very talented. I’m sure he would be happy to help you out.”

“Really? Thank you.”

“Certainly.”

Sabrael looked back over to see Rei coming back over, returning his smile.

“This man…Talen?”

“Talen-Jei,” the Argonian smiled and bowed his head slightly. “But you may indeed call me Talen.”

“He says there’s a jeweler here who’s very good.”

“Does he? I guess that’s something else we can do today, hm?”

“I hope so!” Sabrael nearly squeaked.

Rei laughed and kissed him.

“If you both plan on staying a while,” Talen interjected, “I do hope you’ll bear in mind that we’re known for my mixed drinks.”

“I heard the priest going on,” Rei said. “Bad drinks don’t engender that amount of passion. Once we get everything put away, we’ll come down for lunch, and Divines know I’m not averse to getting started early if I can.”

Sabrael giggled and pushed his face into his love’s solar plexus.

“Come on, beauty.”

The upstairs area where the rooms were was nearly dimmer than the tavern they’d just left. Rich red wood absorbed the candlelight, and made Sabrael feel comfortable and even a little safer. Rei pulled out the key he was given and opened a door near the end of the hall, revealing a small, rectangular room, with a double-bed shoved in at the end somehow. It was clean, though, and it smelled rich and earthy.

“So I noticed someone caught your eye,” Rei teased as he began putting clothes away.

Sabrael took the moment to surreptitiously stuff the shirt he’d been hiding into the laundry bag. “Maybe,” he said bashfully.

“I’ve not thought much about Argonians. Is Talen-Jei properly attractive?”

Sabrael bit his lower lip and giggled quietly as he fidgeted with his fingers. “I think so. I like his feathers and his colors and the shape of his head…”

“Should we ask him to have some fun with us?”

“Really?” Sabrael squeaked. He’d been worried Rei wouldn’t approve of his being attracted to a beast person, his own status notwithstanding. “Oh, but, he’s involved with Keerava.”

“Oh, well. I’m feeling a bit selfish at the moment, anyway,” Rei chuckled, sitting on the side of the bed. “Come here, sweetheart.”

Sabrael rushed over happily and pressed his lips to Rei’s, pushing him down and at an angle so that they could lay the length of the creaky old bed. He laid his back half down against his love’s and propped his upper half up to continue their kiss as he rocked gently against Rei’s hips. Rei slipped his hands between them, pushing buttons through buttonholes until Sabrael sighed at the sweet kiss of the cool air on his member, followed by the tingling jolt of Rei’s claws traipsing carefully along its length.

His muscles turned to jelly as Rei’s fingers wrapped around him. Grabbing Rei’s waist, Sabrael thrust into the warm fist while Rei’s free hand caressed his face.

“You’re so soft, beauty,” Rei cooed.

Sabrael only moaned in response. He wished sometimes that he would last longer and have fewer orgasms, but sometimes…

“That’s it, sweet boy,” Rei moaned. “Come for me.”

Sabrael felt his toes curl so hard he nearly developed a cramp. Ecstasy seemed to contract within his tightening sac, finding its way into his cock and into its head.

“Oh, please just a little tighter!” he gasped.

Rei obliged, arching his back as Sabrael neared his peak. Sabrael felt the discomfort of his love’s tool kept prisoner within his tight hide leggings. He felt the throbbing and the need and the aristocratic fingers squeezing him as he fucked the fist they made. The contracting ecstasy reached that strange point where it couldn’t grow any tighter or smaller.

“Rei, oh, please…” he gasped, finally gripping Rei’s hand and slamming his hips against it once, twice, then freezing as his cock finally gave into the pressure and exploded, painting his love’s neck and chest with his combined relief and passion.

When Sabrael let him go, he watched Rei bring his hand to his mouth to lick the come that had leaked onto the base of his thumb. He leaned down and kissed him hard, hanging onto Rei’s desperation as he quickly unlaced the leggings. Sabrael was hardening again, and he sighed with his love as his manhood was finally released.

“Oh, Sabrael,” he moaned, sliding his hand down to rub the base of his cock, just near the crease of his thigh. “I’m already so close…”

Sabrael took his own tool in hand once more and began rubbing as he lowered himself to blow gently on the underside of Rei’s cock, just at the joining of his foreskin. His loved gasped deeply and pushed his hips up. He kissed it, savoring each shiver that he shared before finally slipping it into his mouth and sucking.

Long fingers ran through his hair, their claws pleasantly brushing his scalp. He throbbed hard and yelped as Rei’s desire spiked, becoming pliant when he felt the palm on his head push him down farther. Sabrael sighed, worried that his thighs might give out as he concentrated on his own masturbation, Rei’s pleasure having been taken over by the man himself, who was holding Sabrael’s head in place while he pumped his hips up and down into his mouth and down his throat.

“Ah,” Rei gasped suddenly.

Sabrael moaned around the thick rod, excited, knowing that that sweet, nearly musical whimper was going to transition into his favorite type of orgasm. When Rei was noisy, when he came on a wave of small cries, that meant the best feeling. It meant softness and intensity mixed together, like he was enveloped in radiant warmth.

Rei cried out properly and Sabrael felt his face mashed down onto his love’s pubic pad. It was less scary now that he knew how to breathe around it, and in fact he loved it. It meant Rei was at the pinnacle of ecstasy, and that he had brought him there, himself.

Sabrael whimpered, just on the brink, the head of his cock throbbing hard. Rei’s breathing had hitched, he held it, and then finally he spilled his passion down Sabrael’s throat just as Sabrael himself burst with pleasure. It was brilliant and wonderful, taking Rei’s pleasure and making it his own, riding the wave of an orgasm that fed his and never seemed to stop.

“Oh, Rei,” he gasped as he finally felt emptied and pulled himself up to lie on top of his beloved.

“You sweet, sweet thing,” Rei smiled as his eyelids began to droop.

“Don’t go to sleep!” Sabrael giggled breathlessly.

“It’d been a day since I’d come! I need time to recover.”

“Don’t be dramatic.”

Rei chuckled. “Alright, well, I didn’t order a bath. It’s probably safer if you wipe up and go down to order one since, well… Think you can?”

“Of course I can,” Sabrael said. The thought made him nervous, but he’d been making Rei proud lately, and that was something he never wanted to stop feeling.

“Good boy,” Rei smiled. Sabrael kissed him and leaned his cheek into his love’s hand.

By the time they’d found themselves back outside, it was mid-afternoon, and Sabrael was more than a little tipsy. Talen-Jei had recited them his special drinks when they sat down for lunch, and for the first time, a few sounded very appealing. Rei had tried something called “Cliff Racer”, which was a mixture of a lot of things that sounded strong and scary to Sabrael. Indeed, looking up at his love now, he could see that it was daunting even for someone like Rei, who was clearly having more trouble than usual adjusting his eyes to the light.

Sabrael had tried the White-Gold Tower, which was mostly cream with blended mead for flavoring. He’d had two, against Rei’s admonition concerning his being unused to alcohol, but he’d done it anyway, and now things struck him in strange and funny ways.

Still, they meandered around the plaza until they found an Argonian hawking jewelry for sale. That must’ve been Madesi.

“Don’t see very many like you around,” Madesi said amiably. “May I interest you in some fine Saxhleel jewelry?”

“Saxhleel,” Rei repeated. “That’s not a word you hear much anymore.”

“No, indeed, I’m a bit of a traditionalist.”

“An admirable thing to be. We are in the market for an engagement ring for this one.”

Sabrael blinked, feeling himself wobble a bit before losing control and laughing through his nose.

“Pardon him,” Rei said. Sabrael was relieved that there wasn’t any annoyance to be felt. “He’s not much of a drinker. Had just a nip too many.”

“Talen-Jei got his claws into you,” Madesi chuckled. “I have a few pieces ready-made, if you’d like a look.”

“Y-Yes please,” Sabrael nodded, giggling as Rei pulled him close with one slender hand over the side of his head.

“Do any of these strike you?”

Sabrael leaned forward to properly see the rings laid out on a black velvet cloth. There was gold and silver and…”What’s that?” he asked.

“That’s rose gold,” Madesi said. “It’s gold with copper in it. It’s cheaper than gold, but it’s very tough.”

“Hm.”

“Take your time, beauty,” Rei said.

“Can I see that one?” Sabrael asked, pointing in what he hoped was a straighter line than it felt towards a silver one.

Madesi held it out, indicating with a nod that it was okay for Sabrael to take it.

“That one is white gold,” the jeweler said. “A diamond is set in the middle, surrounded by very small, pure sapphires.”

“Rei, look at it,” he breathed. As an idea struck him, he bounced suddenly, nearly smacking Rei’s chin with the top of his head. “Oh, Rei, I’m sorry!”

“It’s alright sweetheart, just calm down. Do you like that one?”

“I do, it’s perfect! Look, the diamond is us and the sapphires are the water that brought us together!”

A sudden sinking sensation filled him, and Sabrael was dismayed until he realized that it was Rei actually relaxing. When he looked up, his love’s eyes were wet.

“You like it, too!”

“It’s perfect,” Rei said, kissing his forehead. “Does it fit?”

“Um,” Sabrael paused.

“This finger,” Rei said, slipping the ring onto the one next to the little finger on his left hand.

“It’s a little big,” Sabrael said.

Madesi took his hand and studied the fit. “An easy adjustment to make. I can have it finished by the end of the day.”

“Well, not to be too gauche,” Rei answered, “but how much are we looking at?”

“That piece in particular is six hundred and forty Septims.”

“Oh, Rei, that’s a lot,” Sabrael said.

“I do set up payment plans,” Madesi offered.

Rei held up a finger and bent to be eye-to-eye with Sabrael.

“You don’t have to get me this ring,” Sabrael said. “Or any ring, Rei, I just-“

“Is this the ring you want?” he asked.

He thought of how instantly it gave its meaning to him, and he nodded reluctantly.

“You are the most important thing to me. Do you know this?”

Sabrael nodded.

“You have my heart, and that’s what this ring represents. All of me – my body, my mind, my belongings and my money – it’s all yours.”

“And what I have is yours, Rei, and it always will be. And I’ll take care of yours as best as I know how.”

“Okay then,” Rei smiled, and Sabrael kissed him deeply.

“Might I take that as a sign that you’ll take it?” Madesi asked, smiling serenely.

“You might,” Rei said, pulling out his budget and flipping through pieces of folded parchment until he came to a clean note. “Do you have a pen handy?”

Sabrael couldn’t help bouncing on the balls of his feet as Madesi produced a quill and ink for Rei to fill out his promissory note.

“Will there be a means to contact you should something go awry?” Madesi asked.

“My name is Rei Ginsei. While I don’t currently have a permanent address, I am Thane of Whiterun. Send for me there should you need.”

“Thane of Whiterun,” the Argonian repeated, impressed. “Honored to do business. I’ll have the ring ready for you by this evening.”

“While I have you, and speaking of notes,” Rei said, “when do the couriers here typically run?”

“I send my business out at five-thirty in the evening, but there’s one that also runs at six in the morning, and two? No, three who do urgent delivery.”

“Many thanks.”

Sabrael took Rei’s hand as they walked back into the plaza. “Why did you ask about couriers?”

“I want to write ahead to Tauryon to let him know we’re planning on heading to Solitude.”

“Oh!” Sabrael chirped.

Eventually they came upon a building on the outer perimeter of the city that sat at the top of a flight of stone steps that was watched over by a statue of Mara. Sabrael bit his lip excitedly as Rei squeezed his hand and led him inside.

The chapel was largely empty, save the priest who had been going on in the tavern when they had arrived and a few acolytes.

“I just don’t understand,” the priest’s voice bounced off the plaster walls. “Why do they always laugh and shoo me away?”

“My dear husband,” the woman he was crying to answered, “the people in the Bee and Barb are there to drink, not to be preached to.”

“I just wish I could show them there’s more to life than drowning their sorrows in a flagon of mead.”

“Well, if I might interject, as a sinner,” Rei said, an arrow of annoyance shooting from him and into Sabrael’s heart, “threats of doomsday aren’t what most people call ‘more to life’. At least, not in a positive sense.”

“W-Who are you?” the priest asked.

“I am Rei Ginsei, and this is Sabrael. We wish to get married.”

The priest furrowed his brow. “This is some sort of joke, isn’t it?”

“Absolutely not. We have waited four hundred years and more to be with each other, and we intend to make our union official in the eyes of the Divines.”

“But you’re daedra.”

“I’m daedra, Sir,” Sabrael offered. “Rei is an Altmer.”

“I see. Some of your folk might tell you to look toward Trinimac as an example of what can happen when one deals with a daedra,” the priest said, forcing a chuckle.

Sabrael’s eyes widened, and he looked over.

“I have already learned the hard way, as you can see,” Rei answered, “and it wasn’t my Sabrael’s fault. Mara Herself would envy his gentleness.”

Sabrael managed a smile as Rei pulled him close.

“Well, I mean, I don’t doubt what you say, but I don’t know that I can marry a daedra.”

“Maramal,” the woman to whom he’d been speaking before they came in walked over, “How are these two beings any different from us?”

“Well, we’re not-“

“You’re a Redguard, and I’m a Dunmer. He’s an Altmer, and he’s a daedra. Who are we to say their love is any less valid than ours?”

“I suppose you’re right. It’s just not every day daedric beings walk into the temple asking to be wed.”

“So you would be willing?” Rei asked.

“Yes, yes, of course! My wife is correct. Mara’s love knows no bounds, and in these times, we ought to celebrate love where we can find it, rather than question its sources.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Sabrael said excitedly. Relief washed over him.

“Call me Maramal. Now, will you be having friends attend? Family? Well-wishers?”

“No,” Rei said. “It’s just me and him.”

“Well, that’s a bit sad.”

“Maybe,” Sabrael said. “But he’s very old for an Altmer, and my family wouldn’t want to come if they knew. That’s okay, though.”

“As long as you’re happy,” Maramal said. “Come by tomorrow before noon, then. In Mara’s eyes you will be one.”

Sabrael could hardly sleep that night, nor could he stop looking at his ring that fit perfectly and made his fingers look long and slender like Rei’s. He laid on the bed in their room, turning it back and forth in the candlelight, counting the rainbows in the diamond and gauging the depths of the sapphires while Rei scratched a quill rapidly across a piece of parchment at the small desk.

The next morning, as soon as Rei had finished his coffee, Sabrael bounded back upstairs and pulled out the other frock he’d gotten in Solitude. This one was light pink and lace with a ribbon sash. A casual summer dress for an upper-class young lady, but the perfect wedding dress for a kelpie who simply knew what he liked. Oh, but Rei…

Sabrael watched him do up the silver buttons on his black doublet, silver to match the threading and the embroidery and braiding. He’d worn it before, that Sabrael had seen, but that didn’t make it any less beautiful on him.

“I know black isn’t a very ‘wedding’ sort of color,” Rei said as he pulled on his freshly-polished boots. “Funny how all the color just drained from my wardrobe after a while.”

“It’s just us,” Sabrael assured him. “You’re handsome, no matter what.”

Rei smiled. “Come here, beauty.”

Sabrael obeyed and let himself be turned so that his back was to his soon-to-be-husband. “What are you doing?”

“I just want to try something. Keep your head still.”

The tips of claws raked gently over his scalp, and he felt the strange sensation of his hair being moved around by somebody else.

“Ouch!” he squeaked as one of Rei’s fingers got snagged.

“Sorry,” Rei said. “Sorry. You had a tangle. I’ll be more careful.”

“What are you doing, anyway? I didn’t know you knew how to do things with hair.”

“Well, when you show horses, you learn. I’d plait ribbons into their manes to fritter away time; at tournaments I’d band them in a style to match my own. Right now I’m just braiding your hair down the center. I just wanted to see the colors blend together.”

“Oh I bet it’s pretty!”

Rei chuckled and continued his work until Sabrael felt his fingers bump him between the shoulder blades. “We don’t have any ribbons, do we,” he said, clicking his tongue thoughtfully.

“No…but here!”

He walked over to one of their bags, dragging Rei behind him, and dug around until he came up with a bleached rawhide strip from one of his shirts.

“That will do nicely,” Rei said. “Just hold this here.”

Sabrael waited patiently for Rei to finish tying off his work. “How does it look?”

“A little lopsided,” Rei admitted. “It’s been a while. And I’ve never braided a person’s hair before. It’s beautiful, though. I think.”

Sabrael threw his arms around him and held him tightly. “Can we go, now?”

“Let’s go.”

It was still early enough that not all the candles were lit, but Maramal seemed wide awake as he stepped out to see who had opened the chapel doors.

“Ah! Couldn’t wait, could we?”

“Well it’s a pretty big day, isn’t it?” Rei asked, looking over at Sabrael, who bit his lip as he felt his throat tightening.

“Then let’s get to it,” said the priest. “Stand here, before the altar, face each other, and clasp hands”

Sabrael couldn’t help the laugh that escaped his lips. He was nervous, but for the first time outside Vile’s construction, he could feel Rei’s heart pounding.

“I love you,” Sabrael offered, looking way up into his love’s unusually watery eyes.

“I love you, too,” he answered.

“Four hundred years, hm?” Maramal asked once he was behind the altar. His wife took a place behind him, bearing a velvet pillow.

“Give or take,” Rei said, swallowing.

“Mara bless you. We are gathered today, under the loving eyes of our Mother-Goddess, the Divine that transcends cultural bounds and differences, that all may know Her patience and Her love and lead through example in the ways of treating all men, and mer…and even daedra-“

Sabrael giggled quietly.

“-as we, ourselves, wish to be treated. When a couple finds each other, and when they find that their love blossoms, and when they find that they make each other better, they show their gratefulness for Mara’s guidance, and they acknowledge the strength of love and patience by declaring their love to her, and pledging their faithfulness to each other.”

His wife stepped forward, then, and Maramal took a small, gold object from the pillow, offering it, then, to Sabrael.

It was a ring with a small cross engraved upon it.

“Rei Ginsei, offer your hand. Sabrael, take it, but don’t put the ring on.”

He nodded.

“Now, repeat after me, Sabrael: I choose you, Rei Ginsei, above all others, to be my husband.”

Sabrael swallowed, trying to quiet two stomachs’ worth of butterflies. “I choose you, Rei Ginsei, above all others, to be my husband.”

“I offer this ring as a token of our love-“

“I offer this ring as a token of our love-“

“-and with it, I join my life to yours.”

“-and with it, I join my life to yours.”

“Now you may put the ring on.”

Sabrael obeyed, wondering if it was through some magic that the ring just seemed to fit. But it fit, and it looked right at home on Rei’s hand.

Next, it was Rei’s turn to repeat the vow, and his ring was slipped on in front of Sabrael’s engagement ring.

“It is my pleasure,” Maramal said, “that through my divine authority, and in the eyes of our Mother Mara, I may declare you joined together in the bonds of holy matrimony. You may kiss each other.”

Sabrael bounced eagerly up on his tiptoes and threw his arms around Rei’s neck as their lips met.The action wasn’t anything new, but there was something new behind it. Rei’s cheeks were wet, his kiss was urgent like it was when he was afraid he would lose him. Except this time it was joyful. Rei was softening, he really was! Azura might have more to ask of him, but Sabrael was certain now, more than ever, that a normal life lay before him.

““““““““

Tauryon sat back in his chair, one foot on the opposite knee, and took a drink of rum. He was getting tired. After dealing with Clavicus Vile, more and more he’d begun to question the worthwhile nature of being long-lived.

“You’re awfully quiet tonight,” Rulindil said, tapping his pipe into the tray on the table between them. They tended to visit on Tirdas evenings, Rulindil having found it useful for perspective, as it struck him as awkward to have a second-in-command so much older than he.

“I’m feeling my age, is all,” Tauryon admitted. “It’s time for me to retire.”

“Retire? Gods above, if The Great War didn’t see you retiring afterward, how can you be feeling that tired, now?”

Tauryon chuckled. “It takes a lot to be this old. My grandmother said this to me, and I always thought it a bit ghoulish as a young man-“

“What did she say?”

“She asked me why old people awaken so early in the morning, and I told her I was sure I didn’t know, and she said that it’s in order to meet death with open eyes.”

“That is rather ghoulish,” Rulindil said, repacking his pipe with the good tobacco.

“That means you’re still young,” Tauryon smiled as he reached for his own pipe. “But one gets to a point where death is simply an event one’s waiting for. Mer like me, who only made half-hearted attempts at immortality, we eventually sense that perhaps death is a gift and not a punishment.”

“Don’t talk that way, Tauryon. We need you here, besides.”

“Bah. Plenty of young blood amongst our ranks.”

“Yes, but to have one of your age with us is valuable. Who else can say they’ve spoken to people with first-hand accounts of the Brass Golem? Who else can say they rose up with the very first of us?”

“Well, several people, actually, regarding that latter,” Tauryon chuckled.

“Okay, fine, but people look up to you. I look up to you, and I still don’t understand why you don’t hold a higher position.”

“Because this is what I’m good at, Rulindil. I told Lady Arannelya herself where I belonged, and I told her I had no patience anymore for supervisory positions. Just let me do what I’m good at, and I’ll be happy.”

 There was silence for a while, and that was fine with Tauryon, although Rulindil was restless.

“You know, I remember seeing you for the first time in Cyrodiil, just before we sacked Bravil. You were on that white horse in all its silly regalia, your right hand on your sword and your left ready to obliterate anything in your path. And you did. And I didn’t believe them when they told me your age.”

“You know I’m still an officer, Rulindil,” Tauryon sighed. “I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss as if I’m asking to be dressed down.”

“I just don’t like seeing you this way, is all. You took that short holiday, and nobody saw you, and ever since coming back, you’re not the mer you were.”

“Poppycock. I’m the mer I always was; it’s just now I’m being confronted with the reality of my situation.”

An unusually late knock on the door provided a welcome respite. Tauryon listened for the quick tap-tap-tap of Tirwyn’s shoes on the marble stairs as she went to answer the door. There was a muffled exchange, the door was shut and locked, and after another series of soft taps, his servant was stepping into the carpeted study.

“This came for you sir,” she said, offering a folded piece of parchment. “Said it was urgent.”

“Thank you, Tirwin. Would you refresh my drink, since you’re here?” he asked.

“Mine, too, if you don’t mind,” Rulindil said.

“Yes, milord.”

Tauryon turned the letter and saw a generic wax seal holding it closed. Curious for something so urgent. He peeled it off with a long nail and unfolded it, smiling when he was met with Aldmeris in neatly clipped, slanting, left-handed script. Rei and Sabrael would be in town soon, which was nice, but then…

“Well there’s a look I haven’t seen in a while,” Rulindil observed.

“I might have found reason to stay on.”

“Oh? What is it?”

“A friend wishes to join our ranks. A very dear friend. A very…intimidating friend.”

“Intimidating, hm?”

“He claims also to be in possession of something that could prove very useful to the Dominion’s cause.”

“How’s that?” Rulindil asked, taking a pull off his pipe.

“He’s not foolish enough to go into detail over something like this. In fact he didn’t even write it that way, at all. He could have perhaps simply trusted no common courier or highwayman here would read Aldmeris, but for all his tendencies towards impulse, he’s clever when he needs to be.”

Rulindil slouched a bit further in his chair, lightly chewing his pipe stem. “How do you know this person?”

“We grew up together,” Tauryon said simply, folding the letter and laying it on the end table.

“Where exactly did you grow up? It seems to produce some long-lived mer.”

“Something in the water, I suppose,” Tauryon chuckled. “We each have our methods. I’ll never tell mine, but his is…his is perhaps unfortunately easy to guess, were you to see him.”

“So what do you propose we do with this information? I can’t just pass it up the ladder not knowing thing one about this person. And what does he want in return?”

“He missed out on the Third Dominion’s rise and the Great War and he feels a bit,” he paused, looking for the right word, “guilty. He’s recently broken free of the control of a daedric prince, you see, and he’s rediscovering who he is. All he wants is a righteous reason to stretch his, well, his claws.”

“Well,” Rulindil said slowly. “I suppose we could perhaps get the emissaries together, see what he brings to the Dominion. If Elenwen likes what she sees, she’ll certainly pass it up the chain. As for a position, I don’t have to tell  you that he’ll have some very high hoops to jump through if he expects to just be granted a title without education and training.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt,” Tauryon said, feeling his stomach knot a bit. Somehow the fact that Rei Ginsei would be very thoroughly vetted, regardless of where he started, had slipped his mind. “I hope you know I wouldn’t have brought this up, at all, if I didn’t think it would benefit us entirely.”

“I do, and I trust you. And I have to say I’m deathly curious now, as well.”

Tauryon returned his superior’s smile. “He and his new husband will be arriving the day after tomorrow. If I’m not mistaken, Ondolemar shall be arriving back to headquarters, as well, around then.”

Rulindil nodded. “I’ll speak with Elenwen. What is this mer’s name, by the way?”

Tauryon took a pull from his pipe to buy a second or two. “Rei Ginsei,” he settled finally. He’d thought briefly of calling him Arteano, his father’s name, but that wouldn’t have been much better than using his actual name.

“Rei Ginsei?” Rulindil repeated. “What kind of name is that?”

“It’s the name he wears as a reminder of his folly. It was given to him by his former master, and it means, in whatever heathen tongue, ‘Soul Devourer’.”


(please forgive me for posting a video using Billy Corgan’s image on a song written and performed by James Iha)