It had seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. Each time.
She'd married Ghorza without second thought and never regretted it. The orc woman's voice turned warm when she spoke of love, and she was a treat to converse with. Their lovemaking was sweet and always a test of endurance. Her customary parting wish was a thing Akeed treasured.
But, months into the marriage, the Redguard very much wished her wife were the adventuring sort in addition to all else that she was. Akeed could imagine their bond would only grow with shared, perilous experiences to whisper about in the dark mornings.
She met Balimund by chance. Here was a Nord she could--and did--grow to fancy. Blatant with his affection and large in a way she may have missed since taking a spouse of similar stature. Besides that, he was rugged and hardened in much the same way as Ghorza, whether by Skyrim or not.
Marriage to Balimund was…a shock. His admission of interest took her by surprise, and she had confessed her own, to her shame, without a thought for her loving spouse.
She's never sure how the priest of Mara didn't recognize her, but she refused to question good fortune. With Balimund she agreed to reside in his home; his business was in Riften, and her wife was in Markarth.
Attending to them both with equal regard was not a challenge. Vindrell Hall was a necessary stopping point when her pack grew too cumbersome, a frequent occurrence, and the Thieves Guild drew her regularly to the south-east. Her lovers' appetites were great, but being the container of a dragon's soul was not without it's advantages. Her adventurer's stamina did no harm, either.
Then came Derkeethus, and again Akeed's appreciation for the exotic races caused her trouble. In the strange light of the Falmer's lair he'd lost himself in, the Argonian's scales glimmered and fair mesmerized. To develop the bud of relationship, born of their fight together in the cavern, to sate her curiosity of the entirety of his body was…Er, an accident.
Marriage was again, rather unexpected. And this time she did notice a few ponderous looks. 'Oops' was a bit insufficient for the trouble she'd bought herself, but Akeed hoped and worked for the best.
Derkeethus' dedication to his mining work greatly helped. She had at first intended to live with (or more honestly, visit) him at Hjerim, but his constant traveling made the arrangement impractical (for him) and frustrating (for her). They jointly decided that he would reside chiefly at Darkwater Crossing.
The Argonian Akeed traveled with often, trading flirty smiles in Nordic tombs and rolling in the grass beneath the celestial lights. They would part ways when time came for her to meet with Ghorza or Balimund, and Derkeethus would return to the mine, happy and ignorant.
And it continued to work, excepting the occasional, near slips. Akeed was not a particularly secretive woman. Her first impulse was to share. Everything, including the armor she had fashioned for Derkeethus, Ghorza's creative show of appreciation for the gifts of jewels and metals for her smithing. Balimund's hilarious anecdotes.
If her lovers noticed that she sometimes tripped over her tongue and grew silent, they made no comment. Akeed was blissfully happy, if often visited by feelings of guilt. She entertained fantasies of her wife and husbands meeting and loving each other as she did them all. With a little rearranging, some new furniture, Hjierim would perhaps be large enough to house them all…
The Dovahkiin was left a little aghast with herself, following her pledge to Brelyna. Luckily the mage-woman was accustomed to her comings and goings, having grown used to them during their time as students. The lovely Dunmer was happy to be left to her books and spells, with the odd foray into ancient ruins brimming with magical artifacts.
Akeed, having her physical hungers entirely satisfied, felt no small sense of relief that Brelyna's eagerness in this area was inordinately stunted. During few meetings did her hands wander with any intent, and then her desires were simple to fulfill. Akeed was pleased to lie beside her as she studied or babbled excitedly, stroking her beautiful dark skin until they fell asleep purring.
Brelyna wouldn't hear of leaving the college even if Akeed were misguided enough to suggest it. She, like Balimund and Derkeethus, chose to remain following their marriage.
This, unfortunately, left Proudshire Manor and Hjierim empty and lonely whenever the Redguard whimsically dropped by. She should have seen the danger signs for what they were, throttled the temptation before it could upset the precarious juggling act she maintained despite odds, and sold the properties.
But she didn't. And ignoring all common sense, they were soon inhabited by more spouses.
The priest or Mara finally intercepted her as she crossed through the Riften market, and gave her the ultimatum of telling her assorted lovers, or else suffering their wrath when he told them.
It crossed her mind to threaten him with Nazir and the others, but the thought was quickly tossed out. It wasn't as if she weren't horribly overburdened, after all. Her marriages, once as source of joy and love, had begun to weigh on her. So many men and women turned to her for time and affection, and there was talk of children going on in more than once household.
The priest's intervention was welcome in that respect. Akeed probably would have found herself trying to deal with faking….something in regards to pregnancy, had he not spoken up.
She set about righting mistakes not long after leaving the fishing town.
Roggi, she paid a courier to deliver word of her death to, with a decent sum to represent inheritance. As she had hoped, he returned to Kynesgrove. She cleared the mansion of any stray belongings and locked it up. Camilla Valerius she approached with complaints, some fabricated and some real, and escorted home to her old admirers, who were all too happy to pick up where they'd left off.
Brelyna she told the truth, and was sent scurrying from the chamber with a sparking backside. Days later she was received back with lingering temper. Words were had, at varying levels of volume, and they parted company after one angry, desperate coupling. The Dovahkiin rode away from Winterhold looking forward to a friendship once again, eventually, after a period of recovery.
Balimund, Ghorza, and Derkeethus she saved for last as she sent away or slipped away from other spouses. She dreaded those confrontations, loving them all with more honesty than any other she'd made promises with. There was nothing for it, however. She spent a day walking, mercilessly putting down any beast that attacked her, seeking out dragons with murder in her eye, and the night at the Bannered Mare drinking away the curdling in her belly.
The next day she began her trek in three different directions, requesting Derkeethus, Balimund, and Ghorza meet with her at Hjierim.
Taking a long, meandering route to Windhelm in an effort to delay the inevitable, Akeed stood nervously on her own stoop, toying with the impulse to knock before entering.
She did, and no answer came.
The silence raised a panic in her breast. What could have happened? Could they have been waylaid on the road, all of them? Could they have--surely not--fought each other?
Akeed slapped her cheeks and forced herself to think sensibly. Perhaps they merely slept, or had come and gone….Still assuring herself of these, preferable scenarios, the Redguard eased the door open and slide inside.
There were the remains of a dinner on her table, the largely faded aroma of cooked meat and spices in the air, along with the underlying scent of Ghorza's familiar, home cooked meal.
She carefully searched the lower level first, peering into the crannies of the kitchen area and the enchanting room.
Akeed took the stairs slowly, ears tuned for any hint noise. Drawing ever closer to the master bedroom, she heard….breathing. Slow, and steady. The kind she loved to have in her ear as she drifted off.
The three of them were settled comfortably in a nest of blankets, cushions, and strewn clothing. The room stank of sex and fluids, and the reek of it in combination with glimpses of familiar flesh and scales brought a steady fire to life in her breast.
Gulping, wishing she had brought along a bottle of wine from downstairs, Akeed settled quietly at the foot of the unused bed, her loves' heads scant inches away, and waited with her knees pulled up to her breastbone.
She fell asleep. She hadn't intended to. When she woke there was warmth at her side.
Ghorza sat by her, watched as she shook off the dregs of slumber. The Orc was still unclothed, a blanket pulled carelessly over her lap.
"Morn' to you, love."
"I…" Akeed forced herself to meet her wife's eyes. "Have explaining to do."
"Oh, less than you may think." Ghorza said, appearing unconcerned. "Plenty of groveling however, mind you. One cannot encourage such behavior."
"You have admirable taste, my love. Though that was never in question." Ghorza smirked. She gestured lazily to where Balimund still lay sleeping, the place where Derkeethus had lain the night before. "They are magnificent."
"They are. And you as well." Akeed hugged her legs for strength. "I. I have my failings. I am working to correct them."
"Continue to do so." There was steel in her tone there, underneath the affection. A warning. No future 'mistakes'.
"My word, I swear."
Ghorza nodded firmly. "I'll hold you on it."
They sat in silence for a time after that, watching Balimund snore. Ghorza eventually extended an arm to Akeed, and they sat closely, nuzzling and murmuring apologies and promises until Derkeethus appeared in the doorway, smelling of food.
They cleared the table of last night's meal and prepared it for breakfast. The Argonian gave Akeed a single, hard stare, before inviting embrace and allowing her to push her face into the underside of his chin, as she normally did. Balimund descended the stairs as they were almost ready to sit down, wearing loose trousers and a largely unlaced tunic, yawning. He sank onto the bench next of to Akeed, their thighs flush and touching. She hadn't the nerve to speak to him beyond a stuttered "Morning", and he seemed happy to let her sweat for the moment. It was only towards the end of the meal, as Ghorza and Derkeethus chortled over some unheard joke, that he waited, and caught her eyes.
Akeed was nearly shaking with unease when the lines at his eyes deepened, and he smiled and mussed a hand through her hair with a boisterous laugh. He drew her in for a kiss with that same hand, fingers deep in her hair and his palm nearly large enough to cradle her head. Akeed groaned into the contact, bracing with a hand on his leg as she pushed herself up.
They had broken apart, still swaying together and cooing when Ghorza announced, "I'd like to move."
Akeed blinked, mind still fogged with Nord. "Move? Move where?"
The Orc woman waved her knife. "Markarth is too bright. Somewhere with less sun…more snow."
"Less mine work," Derkeethus added musingly, swirling his tankard. "Walls, structure. I've about had my fill of sleeping in tents."
She regarded them with wide-eyed curiosity, unsure the conclusions she was drawing were correct. Surely a woman couldn't be so fortunate.
She looked helplessly to Balimund, who merely squeezed her arm.
"I too might enjoy a change of scenery." He admitted. "Riften does weary a soul, given time enough."
"So my dear?" Ghorza said. "Have you any thoughts on the matter?"
Akeed looked from face to another, struggling. "I…I, um….n-no? I…anything you want."
Derkeethus beamed. Balimund's arm around her tightened.
"Very well," Ghorza said, with affected weight. "We shall have to decide what to bring with us. I for one refuse to carry a thousand pounds of dragon bone across Skyrim."
The others laughed. Akeed blushed, and argument promptly broke out between Ghorza and Balimund about the quality of dragon bone and scale, and their behavior in the forge fire. Derkeethus slide onto the bit of bench Balimund had left empty, and watched with her as the others squabbled.
"Something occurs to me, love." He began, tone casual.
Akeed was running a hand over his back, fingertips bumping against the spikes on his spine. "Hm?"
"We wouldn't have to adopt, if this arrangement works well."
Which, what an idea. It was one Balimund had been enthusiastic towards in the past. With Ghorza there had been no dialogue about children, but some insight made the Dovahkiin hopeful.
The empty Housecarl's room upstairs would make a brilliant nursery. She said as much, and Derkeethus hummed approval.