The Troll lived in a cave, which it hated: it was damp and shady and the scent was foul.
The Troll was content with its solitude however, disgusted by the ugliness it only could see in the world.
But one day, there was a sabre cat cub at the mouth of his cave.
And though the Troll tried, the cub wouldn't leave him.
Troel, son of Snaric, was behind his back called the Troll.
Though it suited him enough, his face messed up in the Civil War by Imperial soldier's mace, and his freakish strength accompanied with hunching form, the Nord did not appreciate the nickname. And he made it clear to those who were stupid enough to throw the insult at his face.
Usually it was the scum in Riften, thieves, drug dealers or violent drunkards who Troel had to deal with as a city guard. With these people he didn't need to bite his teeth and held back, as Riften was what it was.
A corrupted shithole of Skyrim, dressed pretty by the surrounding, eternal autumn like scenery and in sunlight glistening body of water.
The Nord felt it as a great mockery to Mara, Goddess of Love, that her temple lies almost at the center of this city.
Not to mention the orphanage. That bloody orphanage...
But why wouldn't the mean looking Nord leave then, if he hated the place so much? Tired of seeing the suffering of hard working people pressured by the Thieves Guild and Jarl Maven Black-Briar?
...Because Riften was still the only place, that Troel felt some familiarity and reassurance with.
After the Civil War, he really couldn't think any other place where to go.
He had been just a Stormcloak soldier, nothing noticeable as he had wanted it that way. Keeping his head down, doing the killing when needed and just surviving. Sure there had been sense of pride and protecting his country's freedom, at first.
But as the War had raged on and on for more than three years, the glamour quickly faded.
Especially when Troel started to see the flaws of his comrades, of his leader and of their ideology.
Skyrim belongs to the Nords.
How he had come to despise that sentence.
In Riften at least most of the people were equally shitty and underprivileged, despite of their race or starting point. In that sense, Riften was more fair than the rest of the Skyrim.
Plus the climate was pleasant most of the year, thanks to the warming volcano's at Morrowind and then the north mountains blocking the sea's coldness.
Today it was heavily raining. And despite needing to make some patrolling, Troel stood under a roof near the market place.
Dressed in his guard gear, the Nord looked at the almost empty place, ignited street lanterns gently swaying on the occasionally passing wind.
Another city guard appeared to stand next to him.
"Not making your routes?" asked a Nord woman behind her helmet.
"It ain't my problem, if someone's stupid enough to go into the back alleys."
The place was Riften, after all.
"...I'll tell Jornfull."
Troel glared through his helmet's visor. She didn't budge. She could stand against him in a fight, and he knew it too.
"Bitch", the Nord man grumble while pushing himself away from the wall.
Taking his lantern off the ground he stalked to the back alley's, behind apartment buildings and the temple.
If he was gonna get jumped on today, he wouldn't give warning, just hack them in self-defense. Just couple of less shitbags stinking the place then.
It seemed however no-one was gonna try their luck tonight, as he walked with the lantern, other hand on the hilt of his sword.
Someone else was less lucky that night though.
Suddenly couple of small figures ran past him ahead, making the Nord startle and snarl: "Hey!"
Raising his lantern he figured it had been two kids, running away.
Frowning Troel glanced at the direction which they had come from. He remembered it to be a dead end, between two houses. A popular place to trick gullible victims into.
...He mulled about it, before deciding to do his damn job. He started heading into the narrow alleyway, senses high on alert if this was after all a trap to him.
At the end of the alley, hand grabbing tightly onto his sword, Troel looked around.
Nothing seemed weird. The alley was stinking, piles of abandoned garbage here and there. Nothing amiss...
Reflexly he pulled out his sword when seeing a suspicious movement on a corner. A bloody skeever here?!
No. The thing whimpered, flinched away and started crying in a voice of a child.
Hearing the voice Troel put away his sword, staring.
Then getting over the shock, knowing that Riften in children can be just as dangerous as adults, he demanded.
"What are you doing here?"
The child quietened down but did not stop sobbing.
Thinking about the kids who had run away earlier, and now this kid here, Troel stepped closer.
In the light he saw the scared child was in fact a Khajiit cub. Dirty and beaten up looking. But their clothes were... Good quality. Not noble, but not a beggar neither.
"U... Urada. Urada. Afa", the child whimpered while covering their head with their arms, their spotted tail curled against trembling body. The tail's head looked to be twisted in a painful angle.
Looking over his shoulder through the rain, the Nord not seeing anyone, he looked back down at the child. Swallowing he spoke in Ta'agra.
"It fine. Safe", he tried, digging through the memories for forgotten learnings of the language.
The child opened a bit, looking with wide green eyes.
Troel nodded, crouching in front of the cub.
And the child immediately started to cry, speaking in a way he did not understand.
"Rest", he said while raising hand in the gesture. The Khajiit did not stop, continuing to cry noisily.
Irritated and alerted by someone possibly coming, meaning trouble to him, the Nord blowed.
The child stopped, staring at him. Huffing, lowering his hand Troel gestured behind him.
The Khajiit shook their head.
So, growling, Troel approached and grabbed the shrieking cub by one arm, hollering them up to stand. The child whimpered, weakly pulling their hand back and not putting weight to their left foot.
Ignoring their struggling Troel pointed with the lantern briefly.
Stopping from pulling the Khajiit cub nodded, shivering from being wet in the cool evening.
Grimacing in annoyance, the Nord then with one hand snatched the child into his arm, snarling as they started panicking: "Rest."
And the Khajiit child went completely silent, trembling fingers with claws digging into his dark blue cloth wrapped around his armored body.
Turning around then, raising his lantern, the guard of Riften started walking away from the dead end and from the back alleys. He raised up the back stairs that lead into the temple of Mara.
At the backdoor, hands full, he glanced down at the child. Still with wide green eyes they were staring from the door to him.
Guess they didn't have any clue where he was taking them, Troel imagined.
"Rest", he tried to calm the cub.
And then he kicked the door hard, tightening his hold on the jumping child.
"This is the guard! Open the door!" he yelled, very aware how the child in his arm was terrified and properly wanted to escape from his grip.
Sighing, he looked down at the Khajiit.
"Sorry", he tried.
And to his amazement the child calmed down, staring, then nodded to him.
The door then opened to ajar, dark skinned man cautiously looking.
"Finally Maramal", Troel muttered while rudely pushing in out of the rain and darkness.
"Troel, what is the meaning of this", the Redguard demanded while the Nord put down the lantern, turning towards then. "And who is this?"
"Found it", the guard simply answered, taking the tense child by under their armpits and offered them. "Take them."
"What?" Maramal questioned, not taking the child, looking from them to the Nord.
Lowering the child, though not completely letting their weight onto their legs, Troel spoke: "The fuck do I know, I found this kid on a backalley. They are hurt and parents probably dead, so would you in the name of Mara fix them?!"
Couple of more priests came into the room, confused and looking at the terrified looking Khajiit child and the grumbling Nord.
Feeling the child starting to panic in his hands, Troel sternly said down at them: "Rest."
The cub stopped squirming.
Finally getting Maramal to heal the cub, Troel watched standing next to the bed where the Khajiit was sitting on the edge.
In now better lightning, Troel could see better.
It was likely the Khajiit was a girl, very young, maybe no older than eight summers. Her mucky, flattened fur was blackish brown, with few white and orange spots, white dots like freckles going across her face under eyes. And she did have fancy clothes, not too fancy though, looked more like a merchant's child. Khajiit caravan then? Troel hadn't heard any of that, no traveling groups that other guards would have warned about.
And they didn't let groups in, individual maybe if it was a good day.
"You speak Ta'agra", Maramal questioned him while healing with spell first the small wounds on the beaten Khajiit girl.
"A little", the Nord shrugged, remembering he still had the helmet on. It now started to irritate, feeling damp inside. He went to take it off, but with hands raising towards the sides of his helmet, the cub looked at him.
...So he then pretended to stretch his heavy arms, cutting Maramal's more asking sentence in half.
"None of you priests don't speak then?"
"I'm afraid so. Not many Khajiit, who can't speak the common, come to us."
"Well no wonder", Troel muttered quietly, watching as the girl's black and white tufted ears twitched.
"So I guess you need to work as our translator here, so we can understand what has happened to this poor-"
"No", Troel spoke, arms crossed over his chest. He squinted his eyes at the surprised priest. "I did my duty, brought her here and that's it. I ain't gonna stay. I need to finish my patrol."
Which by now probably was taken by another guard, Troel's shift over. Nonetheless, he wasn't going to get anymore deep into this situation than was-
"You found this child", Maramal started, standing from crouching and scolding the guard. "And when most of Riften probably would have passed, you too most likely, but you didn't. You brought her here-"
Troel was already hearing it coming.
"-to Mara's temple. I think Mara led-"
"Oh stop, right there", Troel huffed with raised hand. Snarling: "If Mara was fucking loving and all that shit, she wouldn't have let this kid get lost in this city all alone and beaten."
Maramal was silent, oozing spite towards the mocking words.
Good. Maybe the priest would get the hint.
And Troel could leave and continue without more of disturbance.
As he was walking towards the door however, the starting ruckus behind made him pause and turn around.
"Afa! Afa khioh!" the girl cried out, trying to walk after him as Malamar tried gently to hold the Khajiit back by her shoulders.
"Wait, it is okay child."
The girl repeated, Troel understanding couple of words and then figuring out the rest by how she was behaving.
She was asking him not to leave her.
The Nord lifted his hand in stopping motion, saying: "Rest."
The Khajiit halted, staring at him with sad, round and wide eyes. Begging him not to go.