Helgen, Whiterun: Lydia’s sorrow, Divines calling.
I woke fairly late in the morning. Sometime during the night Meeko had swapped places with Lydia who was now fast asleep on her bed. I snuck out of the room quietly with Meeko and went outside to greet the day and give him a chance to fertilise some plants on the bank of the river.
After a while I went back and ordered a late breakfast. I took Lydia’s on a tray and placed it on the small table in the rented room. I knew she would quickly wake when the aroma of hot bacon and eggs hit her nostrils. I asked the barkeep for some warm water and towels to be taken in there as well. No need for both of us to smell like Draugr. As for Meeko, I have never tried giving him a bath and don’t think he would be very compliant.
As Meeko and I were discussing who would have the last rasher of bacon Lydia emerged looking almost human. Meeko took advantage of my momentary lapse in guarding to grab and scoff down the rasher in dispute. I asked her if she was ready to visit Helgen and she gave a muted yes. It looked like it was going to be a difficult trip for her.
Lydia is my constant reminder of what is important on Nirn. No matter what The Divines need me to do, I can’t just act on impulse. I have to think about all the Lydias in the world who have hopes and dreams and loved ones and how my actions may impact on them. Minimising death and destruction should be a priority even if it makes reaching the desired goal harder and the process longer.
We reached Helgen without incident and sat on an open piece of ground that used to be a busy street. Lydia was silent and just looked around with growing despair. Meeko had no interest in investigating the ruins. He lay his head on me and just stared ahead. I do not know how long we were like that. The bleak scenery and thoughts made it seem like eternity.
Lydia eventually got up and wanted us to walk around the ruins a bit. We walked through broken doorways and climbed over piles of rubble and shuffled along empty streets that not long ago teemed with the life of typical Nord town. Suddenly she stopped. I could see her wrestling with some decision. She was mumbling to herself and shaking her head and finally she sighed. It was a signal of resignation and acceptance. She fell to her knees and looked upward and though tears had not started to flow her face was of abject misery. She started talking quietly, almost a whisper, about a young guardsman called Bjorn. They started their training in Whiterun on the same day several years ago. They spent many patrols and long hours on guard duty together. All of those opportunities to talk and reminisce and express values and hopes led to friendship and eventually a deep love she thought would be eternal. Bjorn had moved to Helgen several months ago as the chances of promotion were better. The plan was he would work hard and possibly get one or two promotions. Then they could afford a small house in Helgen, something that would always be out of reach for two guards in Whiterun. She came and visited when she could and they would spend countless hours discussing and dreaming about their new house and bright future. When Helgen was attacked she hoped he was one of those who escaped. The Imperials were very efficient at making lists of the dead and wounded and survivors. He was not on any of them. As we walked and climbed and inspected the destruction she finally accepted the truth. He would be one of the many that were never found. Those dreams died with him. She whispered his name and collapsed into a foetal position and a keening came from her like I never wish to hear again. It was almost as if she was expressing the sorrows of everybody who lost their loves and dreams and hopes on that black day.
What do you say to somebody who experiences such loss? I could think of nothing. I could only sit her up and hold her tight as she rocked back and forth and gasped for breath amongst pitiful sobbing.
Meeko was at a loss. He moved away a little bit and just lay with his head on his paws looking at us.
I would do anything to stop any person who I cared about from experiencing such pain. Bjorn and the other dead are not just statistics. They are the very people who The Divines proclaim to love and protect. If my purpose is to help stop such hurt and sorrow then I accept my path unconditionally. This trip to Helgen with Lydia hardened my resolve to do what is required even if it means I will never have a life like those I am protecting. Many soldiers are like that so I am not unique. They fight to protect what they often never get a chance to have.
Eventually Lydia slowly got up, walked to her horse, mounted and rode out of Helgen without a backward glance. She had held this sorrow and forlorn hope inside her for days. She had performed her duty as my housecarl without complaint or hint of distress. It was admirable but I wish she hadn’t. She owed no such debt to me that she should place duty to me over her own welfare. Then I realised I was criticizing her for the exact acceptance of role I had just pledged. She was housecarl to not just a Thane but a Dragonborn. She deemed that important. That was her life at the moment and all she had now.
I did a lot of thinking about duty and fate and all the other things thrown at us to complicate our lives. It should be simpler. Get born, have a fantastic childhood, fall in love, have kids, grow old and die. Simple.
When we walked in the door of Breezehome she transformed back to my fussy housecarl. I knew it was a façade but was glad she was finding a way forward. She proclaimed we all stank. In the basement she prepared a bath of steaming hot water in which she soaked for ages. She renewed the water and ordered me to not come out till I smelt like a human again. She renewed the water again and stared at Meeko. He tried to run but had nowhere to go. He tried a fake growl at her but we all knew he would never bite Lydia or I. After we wrestled him down the stairs and into the bath he finally surrendered. All the scrubbing Lydia had to do was probably the equivalent of a week’s pats and scratches. I think he probably decided by the end that he would accept this torture without protest in the future. We will see next time there is a hint of a full bathtub.
I offered to take Lydia to the inn for dinner but she refused. I think she did not want to be around happy people, especially happy couples. I also think shopping for ingredients and the act of preparing a meal were an escape for her. She ended up preparing a wonderful meal of which she took a few bites and then left the table for her room.
After cleaning up I decided to take a walk around Whiterun. I had not had much time to have a look at the city that I am now Thane of. Everything to this point since my awakening has been hectic. It was a novelty to just go from a to b for no other reason than curiosity. Meeko had refused to come with me. He sat then slept just outside Lydia’s door.
I knew this brief freedom would not last. I knew instinctively that doing the Greybeards bidding was not a task of importance to The Divines. I knew that my awakening was timed for something critical soon and around this part of Nirn. So I was not surprised when my casual stroll around the streets of Whiterun was interrupted by what I have decided to call a “pull of fate” It is a sensation of being pulled in one direction. Not physically but in the mind. Nothing was trying to physically drag me like a nail to a lodestone. Describing this is like describing eyesight to a person blind from birth. It is a sense given to me as part of being Dragonborn. I was not surprised or upset at this new feeling. I was prepared for it even though I did not know it existed till a few hours ago when it interrupted my walk.
If a future iteration of me is reading this then maybe this confirms we are one and the same being or maybe it is just common to Dragonborn.
My theory is this. Daedra and The Divines have been known to contact mortals directly in response to an issue they need resolved. That always requires a devotee to be open to contact via a point of power. A shrine for instance. The mortal has to open the contact by preparing their mind via a simple thing such as prayer or talking to the shrine. Contact can be forced but it can be detrimental to the mortal and probably uses a lot of effort on behalf of the immortal. These things I have determined through the books and scrolls I have purchased and read since my awakening. It also seems right as my inner voice had not protested and called it blasphemy. From all I have read, which is a tiny fraction of what I will need to read to answer my questions, these contacts are in response to an already started crises or important event. There are no pre-emptive warnings. Once things are in motion the mortal is expected to resolve the issue without further guidance.
Akatosh has unique insights due to his mastery of time. Major crises points in history will be visible to him. Investigation of such points would reveal the infinite outcomes possible. If mortal intervention is needed to help steer the direction of history into that desired by The Divines then those mortals must be in position to act at the crises point. Dragonborn would be the easiest to manipulate into position because of the bond created when receiving Akatosh’s gift. This is the basis for the belief held by many historians and priests that Dragonborn are placed on Nirn to perform deeds beneficial to mortals at the bequest of The Divines. I know that is a fact. I know that is why I exist. I know that is why I awoke on a carriage to Helgen a scant few days ago. The advantage I have over Daedric worshippers and devotees of other pantheons, such as the Dunmer’s Tribunal, is that I am forewarned of a crises point and can be in position to act.
I do not know what the crises point entails or how I am supposed to resolve it to The Divines satisfaction. I must simply be there and figure it out as I go along. Confidence in the righteousness of the Divines and acceptance of their ultimate authority would be what is supposed to protect a Dragonborn against Daedric influence and corruption.
I have a rough idea where I am supposed to go but I needed to write this down as the revelations came to me. Tomorrow I will experiment and see how easy it is to narrow down the point more precisely but that is just for knowledge sake. I know it is close and I know what direction is. Logic tells me it is Riverwood. Intuition tells me the critical time is still at least a day away. I have time to think and more time to let Lydia heal. The list of questions I was going to detail will have to wait. The first and foremost is still my identity. Why hide it from me? I have the right to know who and what I am. I am not just a Dragonborn. As I close this journal for today I am once again reminded of what is important. The only sound from the direction of Lydia’s room for hours was just then when she opened her door to let Meeko in. May The Divines have pity and give her a life all good souls deserve.