The following post may contain spoilers for readers who are not caught up through the story.
The incredibly ill matched pair in the previous story, “Ill Met in Riften,” was not originally part of my narrative. It emerged from a conversation with Erica over e-mail in which I mentioned my Original Story (which is the one from which the Epic Disaster that I am now posting emerged). That story was different. And the characters were very different. Elspeth had less baggage and better social skills and Lydia was far more overtly rebellious. I was thinking about some of the ideas that did and did not make it from the Original Story, which I mentioned to Erica, and the following (edited for length) conversation ensued:
Elspeth: I briefly toyed with the idea of giving Lydia a “past” with someone in the Thieves Guild. She spent about a month taking care of a visiting priest of Mara who was doing missions all over the Rift and Jarl Leila didn’t have anyone to spare. This was pre-Hrongar of course. But that would have been early in her tenure as housecarl and she wouldn’t have dared to violate the integrity of the Jarl’s court by association with criminals, much less sleep with one.
Erica: Ooh, now I want Lydia to have had an affair with Vipir.
Elspeth: He’s totally her type too. I’m trying to imagine it in my current story; Elspeth and Lydia have to go down to the Ragged Flagon and it’s super awkward because of course everyone in the guild knows.
I’ve retained a bit of Lydia’s edginess but not quite enough to give her that kind of a past.
Erica: What if she didn’t know Vipir was a rogue until after they had some weird fling and the truth about who he is was what tore them apart?
Okay, I’ll stop. 😀
Elspeth: That’s actually a really good idea and it is now wedged in my head so, who knows….
[Elspeth leaves her office to advance the wet clothes in the washing machine to the dryer.]
Elspeth: I just had the most hilarious thought on the way downstairs. Lydia was assigned to help a priest of Mara and that’s when she acquired her first amulet of Mara and Viper was the guy she met when she was wearing it. That’s why when Elspeth asks if she should get one Lydia’s first reaction is like, “yeah…no.”
Okay, so it wasn’t that hilarious. But it made me laugh.
And that’s how Vipir and Lydia were conceived.
I like this anecdote because it illustrates what I most enjoy about writing and sharing this story, and that is the shared understanding of the characters and the world in which we work. Our specific characterizations may differ, but I know that even a brief mention of Farengar Secret Fire or Enthir will elicit a reaction. On the one hand, this relieves me of certain creative responsibilities since I only need to mention a name—without any description—but on the other, it also creates a space for new ideas that I couldn’t possibly have generated on my own.
Another example of this was when Pyrelle and I were arguing over whether or not Mirabelle is sleeping with Phinis, which led me to hide Nirya in Enthir’s closet. That could have been simply a humorous throwaway scene, but it also allowed me to have a much-needed Onspeth conversation, enabling some development in that relationship.
All Erica did was mention the name Vipir, planting a little seed in my brain, and the idea just took off. Originally, I had intended for Lydia simply to break Vipir’s heart. Later, Erica also suggested that perhaps Vipir spent a year in prison. Now instead of Lydia being depicted as the “woman who broke our master pickpocket’s heart,” she is “the woman who refused to spring our master pickpocket from jail when she had the opportunity.” That changed things considerably. Not only does it make things more intense and dramatic for Lydia and Vipir, it implicates the whole guild in a way.
In any case, I know how this story ends, but getting there is often a struggle. I never take for granted my readership and the comments that keep me writing and help me generate new ideas. Again, I thank you from the bottom of my Skyrim-obsessed heart.
Now, I have to finish the next chapter, where Vipir sees Lydia again. I know how that confrontation ends, but I am not certain exactly how it plays out.
It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out. They would have made such pretty babies: