A/N This is the last chapter of the revised version. If you want to read the most significant changes, I suggest starting at chapter 28.
The sound of laughter met Arsha's ears as she stepped into the Ragged Flagon, as it often had ever since Mercer's defeat. It seemed that the Guild had plenty of reason to be merry. The coin was flowing, merchants had set up shop right outside the Flagon, and, according to Delvin, they were getting more contracts than ever before. Even Vex was hard pressed to find something that was going wrong, which was a miracle in its own right.
A smile spread across Arsha's face as Delvin waved her over to sit next to him. "Guildmaster, it's good to see you!" the Breton declared a smile on his face.
Arsha sat down and stole a swig from Delvin's mug. "How many times do I have to tell you, Del? My name is Arsha. 'Guildmaster' implies that I have some level of control over this rabble." Arsha laughed and gestured to where Thrynn and Rune sat at the bar, playing some kind of drinking game. As she spoke, Thrynn leaned back on his stool to empty his mug, only to topple over backward, sending Rune into a fit of laughing.
Delvin chuckled and shook his head. "I suppose that's true, but that amulet around your neck says otherwise."
Arsha glanced down at the Amulet of Articulation, her 'badge of office' as Brynjolf had put it. Another smile found its way onto her face as she remembered the day she had received it, almost two years ago now.
"Are you ready, lass?" Brynjolf asked, in a low tone so that Delvin, Vex, and Karliah wouldn't hear.
Arsha looked over the Cistern. All of the Guild members, plus a few other contacts including Maven Blackbriar were there to see her become the new Guildmaster. How in Nirn was she supposed to be ready to lead these people? "No, Bryn, I'm not. How did I let you talk me into this?" she grumbled under her breath. Brynjolf only laughed.
"Sorry, lass. You're stuck with us now," he declared before turning to face the Guild. "Now, I'm not one for a lot of pomp and circumstance, so I'll keep this short. You all know Arsha, some of you even know her by another name," Arsha took a deep breath and slowly lowered her hood and mask. She could feel everyone's eyes on her. "All of you have heard the name before. Dragonborn." The room was still.
In the past several weeks, Arsha had told each Guild member the truth about her identity one by one. Today was simply a formal acknowledgment. For a few, the news meant nothing. They were thieves; they knew plenty about dark pasts. For others, the revelation was a shock. Delvin had actually taken it the worst. Eventually, however, Arsha had been able to explain and the Breton had accepted her. She had a feeling Brynjolf had something to do with that, although the red-haired thief denied any involvement.
"Regardless of what her other titles may be, I believe Arsha is worthy of a new title, Guildmaster, Brynjolf continued, turning to face the other three senior members of the Guild.
Vex was the first to speak. "Sure, why not?" Her voice was indifferent, but Arsha noticed the proud glow in the white-haired woman's eyes.
Delvin spoke up next, a grin on his face. "Absolutely."
"There's is no one better suited," declared in her soft voice. Brynjolf grinned, and Arsha let out a soft sigh of relief. That had gone better than she had expected it to, in all honesty.
Brynjolf stepped forward and gently clasped the Amulet of Articulation around her neck. "Congratulations, lass," he whispered to her, a proud smile adorning his face before turning back to the crowd. "Arsha Loreaen, Guildmaster," he declared in a loud voice, stepping aside and gesturing to Arsha. For a brief moment there was silence, then the entire room burst into applause.
Arsha shook herself from her memories, a smile still playing on her lips. "Sorry, Del, I didn't catch what you said," she apologized.
Delvin only shook his head with a laugh; the man was used to her zoning out every now and again. "I said that between you and Bryn this place is running smoother than it ever has before."
Arsha shook her head. "That is all Brynjolf. He does all the hard work, I just give out orders," Arsha stated. And that was the truth. She couldn't have asked for a better second-in-command. Delvin didn't reply. Instead, he sipped at his mead while raising a disbelieving eyebrow. Arsha rolled her eyes and was about to stand up when she remembered why she had entered the Flagon in the first place.
"Have you seen, Bryn anywhere, Delvin?" she asked the Breton across from her.
Delvin shook his head. "I think he said something about doing a few jobs in town tonight. He's probably still out there if you want to go look for 'im," he stated. Arsha nodded and stood from the table, thanking Delvin before leaving the Flagon.
She stepped out into the crisp air of Skyrim and was about to start looking for Brynjolf when she remembered the amulet tucked in one of the pockets of her armor. She pulled it out and gazed at it, the way she had for the past few weeks ever since she had gotten it. A flood of nervousness ran through her, and she was about to put it back, but her hands unclasped the amulet of Articulation and secured the other amulet instead. She also pushed down her hood and mask, deciding that she could risk it tonight. The likelihood that anyone would recognize her was slim. Then she took a deep breath and set out to find her red-haired nord.
After wandering around for almost an hour, Arsha found Brynjolf sneaking into the Pawned Prawn, no doubt to steal something. She decided to wait outside the door in the shadows for him to come out. When he did a few minutes later, Arsha snuck up behind him before pouncing on him and wrapping him in a hug.
Brynjolf tensed up at her touch for an instant before relaxing again. "Sneaking up on a thief can be a dangerous move, lass," he whispered lowly, his voice sending a shiver down her spine.
Deciding that tonight was as good a time as ever, Arsha replied, "Only if you catch me." Then she raced off with a laugh. She could almost picture the startled expression Brynjolf no doubt wore. Then, he heard him begin to chase after her.
Arsha led him around the dark streets of Riften until she reached the Temple of Mara. In a few moments, she was on the roof, having followed the same path Brynjolf had taken when he had brought her up here all those years ago, right before she had left for Snowveil Sanctum. Had it really been that long?
A few seconds later, Brynjolf joined her on the roof, grinning, but out of breath. "What was that about, lass?" he questioned.
Arsha didn't reply. Instead, she stepped toward him and pushed down his hood, gazing into those beautiful green eyes of his. She could see so many emotions there. So much love. There had been a time when she would have thought that that was impossible, now, however, she was lucky enough to have that love in her daily life.
Eventually, Brynjolf broke their gaze, his eyes finding their way down to the amulet hanging from Arsha's neck, glittering softly in the pale light of the moon. Brynjolf looked at the amulet, then back up at Arsha, then down at the amulet, then back up again. He looked as if he was unable to process what he was seeing. "Is that," Brynjolf didn't seem able to get the words out. "Is that an Amulet of Mara, lass?"
Arsha only nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
Brynjolf blinked at her for a few moments, opening and closing his mouth without any words coming out. Eventually, he gave up on words entirely and simply kissed her, pouring his emotions into it. Arsha kissed him back just as fiercely, hoping to convey all the words she couldn't say. All the words in the world couldn't describe the way she felt, the love she had.
They broke apart, and Arsha smiled at the red-haired thief across from her. "I'll take that as a yes, then," she said with a laugh, all of her pent-up nerves escaping into the cool night air.
"Aye, lass, that it is," Brynjolf replied, sealing his words with another kiss.
They stayed like that, wrapped in one another's embrace, for a long time. Arsha found herself thanking the Divines that Brynjolf had picked her out of the market crowd that day and given her a new life. He had brought her out of the darkness that had consumed her; he had given her light. She had been broken, and now, now she was whole.
"I love you, Brynjolf," Arsha whispered, knowing that it was true.
"I love you too, lass."
A/N It's over. I feel so...well, I don't really know how I feel. I hope that the last chapter was a good enough ending for you all, even if it was a little bit short.
I have one final request for each of you, what was your favorite and least favorite part. I truly want to know the answer because your feedback will help me know what to improve for my next story. It can be a scene, a line, a chapter, or a feeling you had.
Thank you to everyone for reading, and an extra big thank you to those of you who have commented and satisfied my ever-present hunger for reviews! I can't explain how happy I am that you took the time to read this little story of mine, whether you commented on it or not. Thank you again, and goodbye.