After an exhilarating walk in the wild with my lupine family, I eventually find myself back in human form. I have only a vague idea of how much time has passed by the way the moonlight has shifted, but it’s apparent I need to return home soon. The wolves gather around to escort me back, and as I reach the steps of the house, I turn to thank them — only to see them melt into the forest as a lingering howl of farewell floats away on the wind.
My senses are still whirling from the heady sensations of experiencing the world as a werewolf, when suddenly I hear a scream coming from inside the house. Cursing myself for leaving Jenassa alone for so long, I swiftly reach for my bow and wrench the door open, almost tearing it off its hinges.
Looks like a pair of Vigilants of Stendarr have decided to pay us a surprise visit. Zealous in hunting down anyone who has collaborated with the Daedra, no doubt they’ve been on our trail for awhile, especially as we haven’t tried to hide the evidence of our encounters with Meridia and Hircine. I fire off a couple of shots from the doorway, but fortunately Jenassa has been keeping our guests occupied with the business end of her blades. I watch as one of the Vigilants slams against the wall as the other staggers into the bedpost, trying to avoid Jenassa’s furious charge. I have to admit, there are moments when I just have to stand back and admire my wife when she’s so completely involved in her work.
As the home invaders hit the floor for the final time, Jenassa whips around and spears me with a glance that’s as sharp as her blades. Instinctively I lower my bow and start to back away, expecting some kind of physical or verbal attack. Guilt floods me as I recall my stolen encounter in the forest, cavorting with wolves while my wife was desperately fighting to protect herself and our home. I open my mouth to stammer out a heartfelt apology, when suddenly Jenassa bursts into a peal of victorious laughter, drops her weapons, and dives at me in an embrace so enthusiastic that I’m almost pushed back through the door.
The resulting crash shakes the house, but I’m too relieved to care. Throwing my arms around my wife, I’m about to lead her to the bed when both of us nearly fall over the fresh corpses at our feet. Giggling at our own clumsiness, we stoop down and begin to strip our late visitors of their valuable loot, when we’re startled by the unexpected sound of a knock on the door. As Jenassa reaches for her weapons, I cautiously pull the door open… only to see our new housecarl confidently striding over the threshold.
Glancing at the half-naked corpses on the floor, our housecarl Rayya barely pauses to step over an outstretched limb before immediately offering her assistance. I have to admit, I’m impressed. No questions, no accusations, not even a look of mild surprise. Clearly they train their housecarls well in Skyrim.
Jenassa starts to drag one of the bodies toward the door, but Rayya stops her. “A thousand apologies, honoured lady,” she says. “But it’s now quite dark outside, and furthermore, it has started to rain. We would not be able to bury the bodies tonight, and a wet corpse tends to raise a distinct stench. Every predator in Falkreath would be at the door by morning, and I would not be able to guarantee your safety. Therefore, I must recommend that we store the bodies in the driest corner of the house, until such time as we can dispose of them properly.”
Jenassa and I exchange glances, but we decide to take her advice. After the three of us finish looting the corpses, we pile them up against the far wall close to the cooking hearth. Unfortunately, I can’t say they do much for the decor. Jenassa mutters something about how a nice deep cellar would be useful for this type of occasion, and I mentally add it to the list of planned additions.
Rayya seems somewhat reluctant to take her leave after the recent home invasion, and much to my surprise, my wife invites her to stay overnight. Sensing my bewilderment, Jenassa rolls her eyes, stretches and yawns, and gives me a look that says I’m not keeping watch all night, are you? Then before my tired brain can come up with a reasonable argument that might give us some private time, Jenassa casually strips down to her skivvies, shrugs on a sleeping robe, and crawls into bed. Our housecarl doesn’t even change expression.
Feeling rather resentful at this turn of events, I follow suit, dumping my armour on the floor and changing into my own sleepwear. I pause briefly to grab a piece of cold meat from my backpack, unwilling to retire for the night without something in my stomach. Those Vigilants might have cheated me out of a pleasant evening in my new house alone with my wife, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to bed without any dinner.
Our housecarl remains on guard, as if expecting more invaders to burst through the door at any moment. It puts me on edge, making it difficult to relax, and I let Rayya know that she’s welcome to sit down. However, she replies politely that she’d prefer to stand for now, in order to stay alert through the darkest hours when the night is most dangerous. Muttering to myself, I finish my scanty meal and crawl in beside Jenassa, becoming even more irked when I discover that she’s already asleep.
It takes awhile, but eventually the gentle sound of rain on the roof lulls me into a peaceful sleep. I awaken to the sound of my wife making breakfast. She apologizes for waking me as it’s still very early in the morning, but I barely had anything to eat last night and I’m starving. The smell of food wakes me up in a hurry — but then I catch sight of the corpses in the corner, looking significantly worse after a long night on the floor. While I’ve seen enough dead bodies that it doesn’t exactly turn my stomach, the gruesome sight almost makes me lose my appetite.
Over breakfast, Jenassa tells me that Rayya left at first light to patrol the area around our homestead. Like me, my wife can’t help but be impressed with our housecarl’s discipline, not to mention her obvious dedication to her duties — but Jenassa is quick to agree when I suggest that we should expand the size of our house as soon as possible. It’s apparent that neither of us are anxious to spend many more nights trying to sleep under the all-too-watchful gaze of our vigilant housecarl.
We’re just finishing our meal when we hear the savage noises of a fight outside, quite close to the house. Wasting no time, we throw on the rest of our gear and grab our weapons before we dash out the door, nearly colliding with Rayya. Fortunately she looks perfectly fit, in the peak of health with not a mark on her — which is more than we can say for the black-robed corpse lying behind her in the grass.
It’s unclear whether the recently deceased necromancer was after us, the Vigilants, or just happened to be passing through — but regardless, I’m much happier knowing she’s dead. As our housecarl resumes her patrol, Jenassa and I decide that there’s no time like the present to get started on that expansion for the house. It may be a cozy love nest for two, but it’s distinctly crowded for three — even disregarding those two extra bodies piled in the corner.
A quick check of our remaining supplies proves that we’ll need to make another trip to the local lumber mill, so we catch up to Rayya and let her know that she’s in charge until we return. She nods, assuring us that she will guard all we own with her life.
It’s taken me awhile to warm up to the idea, but now I’m convinced that our housecarl is an excellent addition to the household. Given our recent inconveniences, it seems we could do with the added security. I’m confident Rayya will keep a sharp eye on everything while we’re away, and it’s a good feeling to know we’ll be leaving our nascent homestead in her efficient, strong, and capable hands.