Riverwood: A walk, a talk and a new hairy ally.
Ralof told me proudly of his love for Skyrim and his home town, Riverwood. How his sister ran the mill with her husband and why his family supported the Stormcloaks. I was half listening but was also concentrating on the thick forest that seemed an ideal place for hiding bandits. Ralof noticed and told me there was a band of them that had taken over the local mine. We both agreed they were unlikely to wander outside for a while after a huge dragon had just passed overhead. They didn’t but I still kept my silence and vigilance. That meant I had no opportunity to ask Ralof about the previous couple of days and what he remembered of me.
We came to three standing stones at a turn next to the river. They represented a thief, a mage and a warrior. Once again Ralof was a font of knowledge and once again I was only paying marginal attention as I could feel something was watching and waiting. Ralof insisted I choose one and touch it. He seemed pleased when I chose The Warrior.
We were now travelling next to a river on our left and thick forest on our right. Not far from Riverwood a large pack of wolves, about ten or eleven led by a huge alpha male, came running and soon had us encircled. No giant flying lizard was going to scare them away from their dinner!
Ralof and I took up a back to back defensive stance as if we had been fighting together for years. We probably could have handled them all without much danger but still, one slip could put you under the pack and at the mercy of all those jaws and gnashing teeth.
It turned out we did not have to do any fighting. A very large and very fast snow white dog had followed the pack out of the forest and leapt upon the alpha male with a snarl. They tumbled over and were soon in a blur of teeth and claws as they tried to disembowel or rip open their opponent’s throat. The rest of the pack stopped and watched this timeless ritual of determining their leader.
It did not end with a death. It was apparent the white dog was far superior in strength and speed and soon had the alpha male wolf on its back with its neck encircled by impressively long teeth. They were like this for a few seconds before the wolf finally went limp and panting and at the mercy of the dog. I do not know if mercy is often given but the dog let go and with its keen eyes on the wolf came trotting up and stood next to Ralof and I. Whatever unspoken language they used worked and the alpha wolf snarled at a couple of its pack mates and wondered into the forest without a glance back. Every one of the pack followed.
I looked down at the dog and its pristine white coat was red in spots where teeth and claws had done some damage. A quick inspection showed nothing major and the dog seemed to accept my examination without fear. It had a wonderfully crafted collar on with a thick leather pouch attached. I removed it and found within the following note.
“Well, after all my years living in these woods, it looks like the Rockjoint will finally be the end of me. I guess that’s fine. All my friends are long dead. The only one left is poor Meeko. He was always a loyal companion, and I know he’ll be able to take care of himself till he finds a new companion. I hope someday I’ll see him again.
Please remove the collar as he cares not for them and it was only to secure the pouch you have opened. Inside you would have found some unique gold coins and an invoice for the only treasures I kept from decades of mercenary work across many continents and nations. You will find them stored at the Temple of Kynareth in Whiterun.
They have been there for several decades now as I never intended to use them again but to find a worthy individual involved in pursuits far more honourable and free of sin than my own. That somehow their deeds might expunge the evil I did when wearing and using them.
The armour and shield have unique qualities and were made by some of the finest craftsman on Nirn. The bow is legendary and made from a metal called dragon-steel. I have never found a blacksmith who can smelt or work such metal. I know not its origin.
The sword has had many names since it was forged in Wayrest during the “Warp in the West”. Apparently an apprentice blacksmith of questionable skill created the masterpiece. After it was finished he was only capable of making nails and hinges again. Wars have been fought over its possession and I did not obtain it through honest means.
You will need both the invoice and the unique gold coins for the items to be handed to you. I trust that Meeko has chosen wisely and they will be used and not pawned off for drinking money.
As for my name it does not matter. My infamy makes it a curse in many languages and I am best left to vanish from the records of civilised beings.
May Kynareth guide you.”
I knelt down, removed the collar and looked into Meeko’s eyes. Intelligence, loyalty and bravery shone from the depths of those eyes. I then stood, scratched him between the ears and asked, “Want to be my friend? Come on then. Let’s go.” He seemed pleased with that and trotted beside me till we got to Riverwood. Meeko saw two children playing with another dog. He then rushed off and joined them in whatever make believe adventures they were having. I heard the boy saying one of the dogs could be a frostbite spider and the little girl dismissing it outright. He is in for a hard time if he ever falls for her!
Riverwood was the prettiest town I could ever remember seeing. Mind you that was only a few hours of memories at that point.
Radolf led me behind the mill where we met his very relieved sister Gerdur. Hod, Gerdur’s husband, soon joined us to listen to Ralof’s story of capture and escape.
Gerdur was concerned that Riverwood might be the next target and urged me to take this information to the Jarl of Whiterun. I agreed but first I had to rest.
I was so weary I hardly remember making it to Gerdur’s house before I dropped onto the nearest guest bed and slept till the next morning. When I awoke Meeko was standing close to my face and loudly panting. Gerdur and Hod were already working the mill. I groggily got up, found them behind the mill and thanked them. Ralof had gone to join his friends in Windhelm. Meeko was pacing and barking and eager to go so on to Whiterun I went.