She found Lydia back at Breezehome and after the two of them slipped into their armor and packed their gear, they sprinted southwest, across the tundra plains and up the mountain through the pouring rain, which turned to sleet the further south they went. It was dark by the time they reached the cave the Glenmoril witches dwelt, and Luthien found herself stepping back to survey the entrance with apprehension.
She needed to get in there, get the job done and get the heads back to Kodlak before Vilkas and Farkas returned. It would all be easier to explain when they got home, than if she ran into them on the road because they had come looking for her.
She didn’t know what to expect. Kodlak had only said to be careful, and reminded her to make sure she had plenty of healing potions in her satchel because the witches were mad with violence.
Lydia dropped down into the cavern first, Luthien sliding in behind her and settling silently onto the earthen floor. She ducked down and crept forward in hopes of catching the witches off guard, but a skeever came at her, its red eyes glinting in the darkness just before Lydia brought down her blade and cut it in half.
The sound of the skeever screaming in protest alerted a witch, who’d been lingering just inside the cave entrance. Lightening streamed from her fingers, piercing through the open spots in Luthien’s armor and coursing through her body like crackling pain. She dropped to the ground, trembling hands reaching for her pack for a healing potion as Lydia ran past her with her sword up high yelling, “Now you’ll pay!”
The potion moved through her quickly, and she pushed herself from the ground, grabbing her sword as she moved. The witch had Lydia cornered near the wall, and she hadn’t seen Luthien coming until it was too late. Her blade swept left, hacking through the old crone’s thin sinew, muscle and brittle bone, head tumbling to the ground with a dull thud seconds before her ancient body crumpled like and empty potato sack.
Luthien reached down and grabbed the ugly hag’s head by the hair and threw it into the empty bag she’d brought with her. “That one’s for Kodlak,” she said, as she caught her breath.
They snuck through the corridors, moving in behind the second witch before she saw them coming. As Luthien moved through the shadows to strike from behind, Lydia came at her from the front before she had a chance to summon her magic. Hacking her sword down to sever the dead woman’s head from her body, she gripped it and stuffed it into the bag with the other, declaring, “That one’s for Vilkas.”
The third witch, she struck down for Farkas, the fourth for Aela, the fifth one, that one was for Skjor… even if he would rather roam Hircine’s hunting grounds, she wanted to do it for him anyway. She had a feeling that he would have appreciated the gesture, even if he would have likely turned down the opportunity to cure his beastblood.
It was nearly dawn before they tunneled their way out of the witches’ den, covered in black blood and the stink of death and rot, but Luthien felt good. She had come to do what Kodlak asked her to and she couldn’t wait to see the look on the old man’s face when she dropped that bag on the floor at his feet and shared the story of her triumph with him as he prepared for the next part of his plan.
She sprinted all the way home, having to stop several times to wait for Lydia to catch up, out of breath, but at the ready to carry on. They ran through morning, following the northeast road as the sun glinted down on their faces. Luthien thought about Farkas and Vilkas, wondered if they’d come back from Falkreath yet, or if maybe she might even run into them on the road, but the only other person they came upon was a lone Khajiit, who tried to sell them Skooma and Moon Sugar.
When Luthien saw White Run, she told Lydia she would catch up with her at home and sprinted all the way up to the gates, past Warmaiden’s and Breezehome, through the merchant circle and partway up the stairs before the sound of battle cries and clanging metal at Jorrvaskr caught her attention. She saw a flash of silver glint in the failing light of the setting sun, and then heard Aela’s shrill war cry before the Silver Hand fell at her feet.
“That one won’t be a problem anymore,” she said, as Luthien raced to the landing.
Vilkas came barreling out the front doors of Jorrvaskr, and when he saw her on the landing he raced down, such fury in his eyes it terrified her.
“Where were you?” he shouted. “You were supposed to be here, but you weren’t.”
“I was doing a job for Kodlak.”
“Well, I hope it was important because Kodlak is dead.”
Those words struck her like a blow to the chest, and she felt herself stagger backwards as if he’d actually hit her. “No,” she choked, shaking her head in disbelief. “No, no, no…”
“You should have been here, Luthien, and you weren’t and I don’t know if I should be glad because you were spared, or angry because maybe you could have protected him.”
She pushed past him and nearly flew up the stairs, blowing open the doors to the mead hall so quickly, the whole hall rattled. There was a Silver Hand dead on the stairs, but then she saw Farkas on his knees beside the old man’s body, his face streaked with tears. Njada knelt on the other side, rocking back and forth as she tried to hold her own sobs in with her cupped hands.
Luthien scanned the hall, saw Ria leaning over Athis, who lay moaning on his side, a pool of blood leaking onto the rug beneath him.
“I’m too late,” she muttered to herself. “He said there was a cure and he sent me… but I got back too late and now… I should have…”
Her calves felt like they were melting into the floor, knees shaking as she stumbled forward into Farkas, who’d stood to put his arms around her and draw her close. “It’s not your fault.”
But it was her fault. She and Aela had brought that hailstorm of vengeance down on everyone they loved, and Kodlak had paid the price for their actions. “It is,” she muttered. “It is. It’s my fault.”
“No,” Farkas drew her away, his hard hands gripping her shoulders. “They came for the fragments of Wuuthrad, and Kodlak died trying to keep them.”
“Kodlak was a warrior, and Talos be praised, he died as he lived,” Vilkas said.
“In glorious battle,” Farkas concluded.
“We will get the shards of Wuuthrad back.” Vilkas ground his teeth together so hard that when he spoke, bits of spittle flew from the corners of his lips. “We will strike hard and take back what is ours, and they will rue the day they ever took up arms against the Companions. Luthien,” he turned to look at her and she glanced up from the hold Farkas still had on her arms. Vilkas’s eyes burned with the fire of vengeance, and it was so bright inside him, it terrified her. “We leave, now.”
“I’m coming with you,” Farkas insisted.
“You need to stay here. Tell Eorlund what’s happened and begin preparations for the funeral. We will be back with the shards, and if we don’t return by dawn, then tonight was a good night to die.”
“If either one of you dies, I’ll kill you both,” Farkas growled and then loosened his grip before he let go of her at last. “May the gods watch over your battles. Both of you.”
“And yours,” she and Vilkas both said it at the same time, and then he turned to storm out the front doors, only stopping once to make sure she was right behind him.