Tirdas, 26th Last Seed, 4E 201

Riften: Met Baa’Ren-Dar, Exchange information, Made aware of danger, More bounty hunters.

Neither Angi or Lydia wanted to wake either of us. I must admit that I have found the pace of things, including a lot of over thinking, had worn me down. I was not the endless font of energy I was starting to believe. Rigmor needed the rest as well. We really have no idea of what all this is leading to but best face it with renewed energy.

So eight hours later we emerged into the still bright sunlight eager to get on with it. It did mean we would arrive in Riften at night but I expected no trouble getting there and if careful, no trouble while there.  I had read disturbing things about crime in Riften. Stay in the light and main streets and we should be alright.

Before we left Angi’s I felt I had to talk to Rigmor about how we move forward. I told her I take my task as guardian seriously. I explained that I would have been her guardian for free if Baa’Ren-Dar had explained more of her story. I quickly emphasised that I did not think she was helpless and needed me to hold her hand. On the contrary I expressed my amazement at her strength and courage and genuine awe at her fighting skills. I made it clear that people who love her dearly are relying on me to keep her safe. That I was chosen because I have unique skills that give us an advantage but only if she does what I ask. She can voice objections but in the end, my decisions are final. This is the wish of Baa’Ren-Dar and she can argue with him later if she doesn’t like it. I made sure she understood this is far more than a bunch of Thalmor pissed off at her wiping out their embassy. It is now a threat to Skyrim and Cyrodiil and we are in a unique position to help defend our homelands. It also meant we will both be high priority targets. Regretfully I was accurate on the danger increasing as we discovered later.

I was expecting at least half an hour of argument. All I got was ”OK”. Good enough for me.

I think I hid well that I was very concerned about her recklessness. I need to make her think more before running into the middle of trouble. That will take time.

We said our goodbyes and I noticed that Meeko and Sorella seemed to have bonded. Angi said it was like he knew she was sad and needed a friend to lean on. Meeko was proving to be a gift from the gods.

It started out foggy then snowy then a combination of both. I did not mind that. Helps keep you hidden from prying eyes.

We had to weave our way though more Civil War skirmishes. The Imperials were always too busy with Stormcloaks to notice us outlaws. Good, because we did not know were outlaws at that stage.

I decided to go over a narrow pass to cut the travel time a bit. We had to be so careful I think it cost us time, not saved it. Rigmor was making comments about the view and how these snowy mountains reminded her of Bruma. Even if it did cost us time it was worth it to hear her talk with passion about her home.

We left Angi’s at 4.00PM. We took a route that led us to the North entrance of Riften as Baa’Ren-Dar suggested and got there at 8:30PM. That was reasonable time since we were constantly on the lookout for bandits, bounty hunters, Thalmor and hungry animals. We stabled the animals and both entered Riften full of curiosity.

Rigmor immediately loved it. It was rough but comfortable. Rigmor’s eyes were immediately drawn to the market which was just shutting down for the day. I promised her that if we can we will visit the market but not today. I then gave her a warning about Riften’s dark side and reputation. That she must be careful. She expressed some scepticism but promised to do as asked.

We reached the inn safely by staying on the main and well-lit streets. I could see plenty of shady alleyways and dark corners and a few suspect individuals casually leaning on lampposts and walls keeping an eye on people. The numerous guards were just as observant. I think there is a continuous war between the criminal and law elements of this city.

We entered the inn and were greeted by a wall of laughter, countless conversations and the smell of strong mead. I think Rigmor fell in love.

Rigmor spotted Baa’Ren-Dar standing guard over a corner table and headed his way at a rush. She almost lifted him off the ground with her enthusiastic greeting. At first he kept up his dignified persona but then hugged her back with equal abandon. I walked towards them at a more mundane pace. Let them enjoy the moment before we hit Baa’Ren-Dar with the reality we face and we get dragged back into the sleazy world of Thalmor ambition.

Baa’Ren-Dar disentangled himself from Rigmor, gave me a more formal greeting and asked us to sit. He told us he traced the ring to a Dunmer in the Grey Quarter Ghetto in Windhelm. He suggested we stay around Riften for a while as he arranged a meeting with the elf to see if he would tell us where he got it. Rigmor suggested he look at the information from Fort Black first. I handed it to Baa’Ren-Dar and could see the concern on his face grow as he read each document. He said there were suspicion about the New Order but this was the first proof they existed. He wanted to know if there were any witnesses who might know we took them. Rigmor took great delight telling him we slew them all. It is frightening the level of hatred she has for all Thalmor.

Baa’Ren-Dar urged us to be extremely careful and to keep this knowledge secret till we know what to do next. He was no longer going to Windhelm but Cyrodill and Elseweyr instead. He was going to use his position as Emissary and high level contacts and together they will come up with a plan on what to do next. I was not surprised he was of such distinguished rank. It takes great intelligence and diplomacy to be an emissary in the toxic political environment of Tamriel. I also think I have spelt his name wrong in earlier Journal entries. Apologies if I have.

I can imagine such a round trip was not going to be done in a few days. It might be a while before we know our next step. There was a chance we would be asked to stand back and keep our noses out of it while their “solution” was applied.

Baa’Ren-Dar asked that we take up his original plan and travel to Windhelm and speak to the Dunmer. His name was Tendril Sethri and would most likely be found in the bar in the Gray Quarter.

Baa’Ren-Dar then told us Rigmor is now a wanted criminal by the Thalmor. It was not just New Order bounty hunters we had to worry about now. Any Thalmor or Imperial Soldier will try to arrest Rigmor or just attack without asking for surrender. We were outlaws, outside the law. Not only that, the name that appears on most of the documentation we gave Baa’Ren-Dar, General Tilar Aedriath, is leading a group of 100 elite soldiers in a hunt for her. It is bad enough having a Thalmor Justiciar after you but we also knew he was a senior member of the New Order. Baa’Ren-Dar made it clear he was a feared and ruthless man who would stop at nothing to track down Rigmor.

Rigmor was at a loss as to why they would use such numbers and a Thalmor General to hunt for her. She wiped out an entire embassy but wasn’t this an overkill? I was thinking that If Tilar has a suspicion we knew about the New Order he might be senior enough to just take this initiative without having to justify it to his Dominion superiors. Baa’Ren-Dar explained why the apparent overkill and it shocked Rigmor and I to the core.

He said the Thalmor, not just the New Order, feared Rigmor. “So maybe they are not as stupid as I thought!” crossed my mind. They feared her because of who her father was. Understandably Rigmor was upset at this and pointed out her father was dead and they had got their revenge. That if they knew what was good for them they would leave her alone. I totally agreed with that sentiment. I agreed because I knew I would die defending this courageous and ill used Nordling to the death!

Baa’Ren-Dar then made the classic mistake of the arrogant. Talking to the less well informed as if they should have figured something out from the clues presented. Rigmor was confused and worried. Making her feel stupid for not solving a puzzle with pieces missing is not going to help. I thought somebody who must have superb diplomacy skills would know that. I realised I was watching a parent talk to a teenager. Rigmor was visibly upset at the barrage of attacks on her intelligence dotted with inane proverbs. If I didn’t know she adored the old fart I would have singed his whiskers with a flame spell. People will read this journal and scoff at conclusions I make with the available evidence I had. They know more clues or even the answer. They are not smarter. Rigmor was not dumb.

Finally he started teaching instead of preaching. Rigmor’s father had a moniker, “Son of Talos”, one of many that he and other Nord heroes collect. His crest was worth thousands of men. Just the mention of his name could make entire battalions rout and create disarray amongst the enemy. Baa’Ren-Dar then made the leap of logic that Rigmor’s father was arrested and executed so he would not interfere with this sinister plot of the New Order. So Rigmor was supposed to figure this out in the fairly short time between discovering the plot at Fort Black and coming here? This is a frightened, confused young girl, not a genius!

Baa’Ren-Dar said they feared Rigmor and what she might become. When Rigmor questioned this Baa’Ren-Dar listed her qualifications. Slaying a full company of soldiers single handed. I had no idea she had cut down so many! The fact she was raised, trained and taught by the “Beast of Hammerfell”. That is why they fear her and why she was one of the top priority targets mentioned.

We had it wrong. Ulfric was not a target. Lady Elisef was one of those three high priority targets. General Tullius another. The Nordling in front of me was in very prestigious company. I think she would give up her position on that list in a flash.

Baa’Ren-Dar dropped me in it by telling Rigmor I was the Dragonborn. Rigmor doubted my title. Baa’Ren-Dar told her it was true and that she should show me respect.

No Baa’Ren-Dar!

Once again that is a mistake parents make with children. It is not what I wanted Rigmor to do and that is why I didn’t tell her that morning. I told her just before we left Angi’s that I had unique powers to aid us. That was all she needed to know at that stage.

Respect needs to be earned.

Respect should never be demanded!

People should not be told to respect others simply because of rank!

You can tell people to be courteous and that is what Baa’Ren-Dar needed to tell her. Courtesy should be given to all until they have proven themselves unworthy of it.

I hope having a lofty title does not get in the way of Rigmor opening up to me and trusting me with her thoughts. I am finding myself drawn to this young girl. As her story unfolds I can see many parallels with me. She has suffered in the hands of fate, both physically and mentally.  Baa’Ren-Dar said she is a, “Nordling with a destiny.” If so fate is going to throw more crap at her. There might be a reward worthy of her at the end. I want to help her reach that end and to do that she is going to have to trust me as a friend and not just obediently obey the Dragonborn. It is the same issue I have with Lydia being by my side out of duty. Friendship is so much better at shielding each other from the harshness of life and dragging each other out of the dark places than blind obedience will ever be.

Rigmor said she needed some time by herself to take all this in. I don’t blame her. She is realising that fate is not always random bullshit. Sometimes you are dumped in it simply for being who you are.

I watched where Rigmor went. She sat on a bar stool and ordered a drink. I did a quick scan of the crowd. Nothing suspicious I could see. She should be safe there so I turned my attention back to the conversation.

Baa’Ren-Dar basically pleaded with me to look after her. He was showing fear in this face and voice that he had hidden from Rigmor. He knows this Aedriath and has great respect for his abilities. “..these are dark days ..” are the words from his mouth that conveyed to me he suspect what is coming and is afraid for Rigmor. I suppose Rigmor and I will soon discover what these dark days are about. I promised him I would be vigilant at all times. He suggested we be well rested before heading to Whiterun, got up and left with worry etched on his face. He glanced at Rigmor on the way out but respected her need to be alone. I also suspect he didn’t want to risk her knowing how concerned he was.

I turned my chair so I could observe the room and called the innkeeper over. His name was Talen-Jai and an Argonian. Seems Riften is a bit more cosmopolitan than some cities in Skyrim. I was also surprised because Riften was unmistakably Stormcloak territory. I asked him if he has any rooms with two beds. He didn’t but pointed out there is a bunkhouse just across the canal that would have plenty of beds available as long as we didn’t mind snoring in half a dozen different languages. We were soon chatting away about life in general when an Argonian lady behind the bar barked at him to start serving paying customers and not the pretty boy in the corner. I ordered mead from him just to show he was earning his keep and stop the nagging.

As I was waiting for my mead I watched Rigmor. She seemed to be deep in thought and was running her finger round and round the lip of the mug in front of her. I doubt she had even taken a sip of whatever was in it. I did a scan of the room and could see nothing to cause alarm and looked back at Rigmor.

Talen-Jai returned with my mead and caught me staring at Rigmor. He asked if she was my daughter. I was taken a bit back by that. I don’t look that old do I? I told him she was a young girl under my protection. He laughed and said that was a good idea. The number of oversexed men in this room alone would be enough to give father’s nightmares and they should all hire bodyguards. I assured him any man saying the wrong thing to Rigmor would regret it long before I even stood up. I asked about the bossy lady behind the bar. Talen-Jai laughed and stared at her with a look that even Argonians make when smitten. He told me her name was Kareeva and they had met in Black Marsh. They moved to Riften for a better life and opened the inn. He sadly informed me he wished to marry her but could not complete the traditional wedding ring of his people. He had the gold band ready but could not afford the three perfect amethysts needed to complete it. Kareeva was looking our way again so he quickly shuffled off to see if anybody else needed service.

I genuinely liked Talen-Jai. It was courageous to come to Riften and if the Stormcloaks prevail he might not have an inn any more. I wanted him to have this wedding wish fulfilled just in case. It is something that Ulfric and his mob could not take from him.

I discreetly opened the bag of gems I had been filling with the donations of dead bandits and Thalmor. I soon found three amethysts amongst the many that seemed of superior quality. I scanned the room again and saw no dangers and called Talen-Jai over. I simply handed him the gems and hoped they were what he needed. He took one glance and then tried to hand them back saying he could not pay what they are worth. I assured him I needed no payment. They were a tiny part of a large inheritance and they were a gift. I only half lied to him. I did inherit them even if not via a will! He thanked me profusely and to stop the awkward moment where he might start crying I suggested he look busy if he wished to keep his manhood intact.

I was scanning the room again and three rough looking Argonians entered. It is not like bandits have a standard uniform but they do have identifying features. A half-starved look. If wearing any armour it usually consists of bits and pieces that do not match in quality, style or age. A rank smell if you get close enough and yellow teeth no matter their species. These three screamed “I am a bandit!” from a mile away. They scanned the room, saw Rigmor and quickly huddled together. Time to get her out of there was my immediate thought.

I walked normally up to Rigmor and asked if she is alright. She said she thought so I suggested we go and visit this Sethri guy.

I was not surprised to turn see the bandits had decided to move in on their intended prey. With all the arrogance of the soon to be dead their leader demanded I move away from the girl. When I refused he made the stupid remark that he just needed the head and I could keep the rest. If we were outside that would have been the end of him. Reality was we were in a bar full of people who would be in danger if a fight started. Especially since two of them appeared to be mages and many spells tend to affect people in an area and not just an individual. So I gave him one more chance to walk away. Then he called me a fool and attacked. I had downed him and one of his henchmen before Rigmor yelled some obscenities whilst skewering the last of them. It was over in mere seconds. That drew a few murmurs from the appreciative crowd. Seems in Skyrim that any violence is welcome if done with style and naked brutality.

I searched the leader and sure enough, there was another Rigmor wanted poster.

Talen-Jai was soon by my side asking what that was all about. I quickly made up the story we were both Talos worshippers wanted by the Thalmor and we were in danger of execution. We were both wearing Talos amulets, her heirloom and my duplicate, which we showed him. He was horrified. I quickly made up my mind. I was going to suggest to Rigmor we spend the night at the bunkhouse. That was no longer the best option. I had no intention of travelling to Windhelm in the dark and she needed rest and time to think. The safest place right now would be Rigmor asleep in a room with me guarding the doorway. I asked Talen-Jai if we could rent a room and told him my plan for guarding Rigmor. He refused payment and was about to shuffle us upstairs when the city guard finally arrived. Everybody in the inn told them I had simply defended the honour of the young girl with me and that the thugs had attacked without provocation. The Guard Captain accepted this, apologised to Rigmor that she had experienced such rudeness in their city and then assured us this was not a common occurrence. He looked embarrassed at the amount of laughter that last bit received. He and his men efficiently removed the bodies leaving a few bits of entrails and lots of blood. Talen-Jai quickly told Kareeva he would deal with it soon as he was just going to show us to our room.

We went upstairs to the room and I quickly inspected it. Only a very small window with bars across it. A bed, a chair and night stand, a wash basin and towels. Standard room found all over Tamriel. I asked him for two extra chairs. While he was dragging those over from other rooms I told Rigmor exactly how this was going to work. She would be going into that room right now and wedge the chair in there against the door. She is to sleep fully armoured and with her unsheathed sword nearby. I emphasised she must try and sleep as we will need our wits about us from now on. I told her I will be on guard outside at all times. I told her I will try and get some sleep but I will be blocking the door with the two chairs and my substantial frame draped across them. Even if somebody killed me they could not move me and the chairs without alerting her. She looked so frightened and that was not what I was used to. She was realising how deep in the shit we really were. It broke my heart. She deserves more than this in her future. She thanked me and it was genuine and heart felt. She went into the room and I could hear her move the chair, the sound of her sword being drawn and her settling onto the bed.

Talen-Jai saw me sit in on one chair with my legs stretched out so my feet rested on the other. I was horizontal across the doorway. He asked if I wanted us to drag a bed out instead. I told him no, this is better if I have to leap to our defence. He assured me the steps we came up are the only way to get to these rooms. That he will talk to Kareeva and make sure one or the other is awake downstairs until we are ready to move out. That they will scream blue murder if somebody they do not approve of tries to climb the stairs. I thanked him and he told me they might not be over keen on Talos or the fuss his worship has caused but any enemy of the Thalmor is a friend of the Argonians. He was embarrassed fellow countrymen would aid them. He then made his way downstairs.

I knew I had not much hope of staying awake but was fairly certain we were as safe as we were likely to be at the moment. Any Thalmor would not get a friendly reception in Riften and those bounty hunters had stumbled across us and I doubt it could happen again that night. So I have spent time writing this journal entry and listening to the excited discussions about the entertainment, I mean violence, they had witnessed. One person thought I might be the Dragonborn only to get laughed at by others who pointed out my lack of white dog and Rigmor was not Lydia. A young girl compared to the buxom goddess as described in the news sheets. I giggled at that. It appeared these rooms are a bit more sound proof than others I have experienced. I did not hear a peep from Rigmor’s.

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