The sound of two fists entwined smacking down on the wooden table, only enforced by the studded cuffs around two wrists. Thorald grinned and roared as the revelers threw their arms in the air and cheered. Across the crudely carved, oaken table his opponent spat out a curse and pulled his sticky hand out of Thorald's grip.
“Hells, the little Grár-pup grew some muscle!”
Thorald smiled as charmingly as a Nord could muster, leaning backwards as a cheering woman snaked her arms around his neck. The tavern applauded, and the golden sound of clinking coin could vaguely be heard as debts were paid after the armwrestling. The smart ones just won their bets, Thorald thought to himself. He caught a glimpse of Ysengrim in the corner, downing ale as he was speaking to his usual friends. Triwold wasn't anywhere near, knowing him. Thorald laughed as he rose from the benches, relishing the pats on his back and the giggling glimpses from the tavern wenches. Life was good.
As he staggered to the counter, slightly swaying after his sixth mug of ale, he noticed a girl with hazel eyes and hair like honey stealing a glance with a shy smile. Ah, Gerthrud, your sweet smile, your dimpled cheeks, your hips made for bringing sons into this world... If only I was home more often.
Thorald could not help himself, and paused at the counter before going outside. With a sly grin he leaned on his elbows, cocking his head aside like a predator looking at his prey.
“Do you ever stop growing more beautiful, little flower?”
The girl poked her tongue out, cleaning out mugs with her small hands. “Is there a single wench in this tavern you haven't asked the same question, Thorald?”
“Don't be like that, Gerthrud, come now.”
“Go home, you're drunk.”
“I'm in love!”
“With yourself, now get out.”
The girl gave him another scoffing look before she turned around to the kitchen, hips swaying as she walked off. Thorald snickered and opened the doors. The night's cold hit him in the face, as if he surfaced from a hot bath, into the chill of the lands he called home. She wants me. Who doesn't?
Thorald walked around the tavern, muffled sounds of cheering, mugs breaking and the bard playing coming through the walls and closed windows. Humming along to the song, the youngest brother found himself a quiet spot to empty his bladder. Groaning loudly, he cracked his neck, bending it from side to side. The ale's running through me like water through a leak. I should have eaten more.
He sniffed, taking in the cold air to get rid of his groggy senses. Suddenly, he heard muffled voices. He leaned forward, adjusting his leather armour again now that he was done with nature's calling, and took a few silent steps. Down by the stream, he spotted two figures, sitting on a wooden log as they had their quiet conversation. It was dark, thick clouds covered the stars like a silvery blanket, and he could only see their backs. One was smaller than the other, a slender figure in leathers, with a mop of dark hair. It didn't take Thorald long to figure out who that was. Tris, as usual being a hermit and refusing to join the reveling, crazy lass...
He turned his attention to the larger figure to his sister's right. As he silently snuck up on the two, avoiding twigs and the like as well as he could in his state, he heard the figure speak. A harsh, low voice, raspy and with an accent foreign to these lands. Tris had strange friends. In fact, she had none. But her acquaintances all had something queer about them. Thorald held his breath, the steady beat of his heart making it harder to make out what the two were discussing. Then, above their heads, a shred of clouds made way for the moonlight. He could make out the shapes and colours of the second figure, a dusky tone, pointed ears, and cloth wrapped around his head. I'll be damned...
With a loud crack, Thorald jumped out of the shadows, stomping up behind the two. Triskele calmly turned her head, peering over her shoulder. In the light of the moon, her icy eyes regarded him passively. Thorald clenched his jaw and pointed a finger at the figure to her side.
“Gods curse you, Tris. This