Riften, Windhelm, Dawnstar: Scars, Memories, A Dragonborn’s Rage, Bleak city, A Lead, Blessed laughter, Love.
This is by far the longest entry I have made so far. So many important and profound things happened to both Rigmor and I today I could not find where to cull the story. Will this information be helpful to a future me? In this instance that is irrelevant. This entry contains important details of the current me. How one day has profoundly changed me. How those changes will affect how I proceed tomorrow and in the future. If my journal has any historic importance in the future this will be a node, a turning point historian’s debate and mull over. As Rigmor sleeps on her side with frequent but short nightmares I do not mind sacrificing hours of sleep to document things that need to be remembered. Only in that way can they be prevented from happening again.
I woke up startled to very loud banging coming from Rigmor’s room. In a panic I threw the chairs out of the way and shoulder charged the door, smashing it from its hinges and knocking Rigmor onto her rump. She just got up and belted past me yelling, “I couldn’t find the key. They did not leave a piss pot in there!” Talen-Jai had to squeeze against the wall on the stairway as Rigmor shot past him and the morning patrons and downstairs to the privy.
Talen-Jai came up the last of the stairs, looked at the mess and looked at me with a “What the hell?” look on his face. ”No piss pot.” I explained. He instantly understood that such an emergency would require violent and desperate acts in its resolution. I handed him a gold coin, which is way more than the repair would cost, and wished him luck explaining it to Kareeva. I gathered Rigmor’s sword and sheath and made my way downstairs.
Kareeva was busy on the floor scrubbing away at a blood stain. She was mumbling to herself about, “Fucking lizard blood always ruins the fucking wood the slimy bastards” and other such complaints about the Argonian race. I think she had been around Stormcloaks for way too long.
I ordered some breakfast and sat at the same table we used the night before.
Rigmor came over with a look of contentment on her face and a hunger belying her size.
We left the inn at about 8:30AM. I was feeling quite refreshed and Rigmor looked alert. We exited the Southern Gate as that was the way to Windhelm. I paid a stable boy a few silver to bring our horses from the Northern gate stables and followed Rigmor to a bench next to the water.
The water had a layer of fog yet to dissipate. It muted the sounds of the lake’s wildlife and the busy Riften fishing docks. It made ordinary objects mysterious as their outlines were barely visible. I would loved to have just sat and watched as the sun slowly burnt the fog away and reveal each mysterious object one after the other.
As I sat down she told me how weird it is being in Skyrim. It was her homeland but she had never seen it before. She expressed how beautiful it was and how glad she was to have come and finally seen it for herself.
I could tell something was amiss and asked her if she was OK. She admitted she had been putting on a brave face even though she was scared. It was starting to overwhelm her. I knew that last night. As Baa’Ren-Dar slowly revealed how deep the shit pile was we were in her mood looked bleaker and bleaker. When he revealed she was the third important target and why I thought she was going to collapse. Instead she rallied herself and went to a bar stool to think. I wonder how many of Nirn’s problems have been solved whilst sitting on a bar stool. A lot is my guess.
I showed sympathy for how hard it must be to take in all the information thrust upon her. Then she said something that resonated with me down to the bone. “I never asked for this!” No she did not and quite frankly fate and its twin sister destiny do not give a flying fuck and never ask for permission.
My heart started to break. I wanted to stop her as the wounds were so deep but she kept going. How she was once a carefree little girl and then it was taken away. How she had no idea of what was happening or what she could do. I knew she was blaming herself for lots of things beyond her control. I told her there was nothing she could do.
Her mother told her everything was going to be OK and it wasn’t OK and they took her. I could see this was going to lead to a breakdown, probably for both of us, so distracted her by asking her mother’s name. With a slight flicker of a smile she told me, “Sigunn! Her name is Sigunn.” With all the sincerity I could muster I told her we would find her and not to worry. She knew I meant it and I hope The Divines help me fulfil that promise.
The stable boy arrived with Ben and “the nag I had not named” and it was time for us to leave beauty and head for the bleak.
The beautiful countryside seemed to help Rigmor’s mood tremendously. When we approached Fort Greenwall it was occupied by bandits and Rigmor seemed pleased. She told me there were some sword techniques she was a bit rusty on and there was some practice over there. I saw the scenario in my head. Rigmor standing there with a sword in her belly saying, “I won’t try that one again!” A real guardian would not laugh to himself. Well fuck him!
Forts are made to be defended. You stand on the ramparts and fire sharp things at the approaching enemy and hide behind a castellation when they fire back. You pour hot things on people as they approach the rampart and when they are trying to get up steps. You do not forget the advantage a fort provides and attack the enemy at ground level. Unless you are a smelly, unwashed bandit with the brains of a skeever.
So I smashed down the barriers with a fireball and we slaughtered the occupants with ease. I had finished the last I could see and watched Rigmor fighting somebody equipped with two daggers. He was very quick but she managed to smash one hand with her hilt and he dropped that dagger. He then went for her throat with the remaining one. When I watched her fight the wolves there was zero sign of any defensive moves. Back then she would have gambled on getting her sword in a vital part of him before the dagger hit home. This time she blocked the dagger by putting her sword horizontally in front of her neck. He was quick and went to slash her belly. A terrific block once again. She was beating an expert knife fighter by blocking his fastest moves with a greatsword! This block made him lose balance and momentum and in a split second she changed to attack and cleaved him down the middle. Maybe she is taking her survival a bit more seriously now.
We gathered our horses and continued. Rigmor was happy with her sword practice. I was more than happy with what the “Dead Bandit Beneficial Fund” deposited in my gem bag and purse.
We approached a small mining village called Shor’s Stone. Rigmor declared it was cute. A cute town? I was wondering where the name came from. Shor was castrated here, come see his stone!
It was such a nice day even the wild animals were in too good a mood to attack us. We passed several bears and wolf packs and only got a few disinterested look come our way. Maybe it is my smell? It has been a few days since I bathed. I did an experimental whiff under my arm. Yep, I found the answer. Pew!
We eventually reached the hot spring I had been told about. Rigmor jumped off Ben and looked longingly at the water. She said the spring looks inviting and could she have a bath. I told her to go ahead and would watch her things. Rigmor warned me not to be a perve. I had no intention of doing so and sat on a bench to keep an eye out for trouble.
Rigmor walked slowly into the water and undressed behind a bush. I could see very little of her as she entered the water and some ripples as she splashed around a bit. She was sitting with her back to me when a gust of wind shook the bush a bit and I gasped at what I thought I saw.
I walked forward slowly but made no attempt to be quiet. I was not coming to have a perve. Two things struck me. Rigmor has dozens of scars on her back from whipping and I suspect canings. Who the fuck would do that do a defenceless young girl? Why would you do that to a defenceless young girl?
The other thing that struck me is she was not the skinny teenager. She was not a Nordling. She was a beautiful full grown woman. She was hiding her curves under that armour. She was shaving her head. She was hiding her femininity. I could speculate and come up with horror stories why. I will continue to talk and learn and understand and maybe she will provide the answer.
I sat back down and watched out for trouble. Hard to do when I found tears blocking my eyesight every time I caught a glimpse of her back. I will kill who did that. With my bare hands if need be. That is a promise.
Rigmor knew I had approached and then walked away. I had made no secret of it. She could see I was upset. She sat next to me on the bench. I looked into those brown eyes and all I could say was “Rigmor…those scars!”
She said she got them in Haven. I asked if they still hurt. She said they do so sometimes and she has to sleep on her side. Fucking animals! My rage was building. My outburst at Delphine is nothing compared to what was brewing inside. Woe to anybody who tries to hurt Rigmor again!
Rigmor had survived abuse that would have been the death of most. I told her she was lucky to survive. She agreed. She thought she might have a guardian angel or something.
I could not think of why somebody would do that so I asked her. She told me she didn’t want to talk about it then. I accepted that and knew she would trust me with the story when ready.
I could see worry on her face. We were trying to find information on her mother. We did not even know if she was alive. Our next clue is to come from the mouth of a thief. Despite that I was confident we would at least find out what happened to Sigunn. I was getting good at delivering platitudes with a reasonable level of conviction. I told her not to worry and we would find her mother.
Rigmor told me about her mother. Every sentence was enveloped in a love that is eternal, no matter the outcome of our search. Every sentence continued this tugging of my heart and contributed to the rage I felt. Rage created from a sense of injustice but also frustration that I was not there to stop this. To save this woman from what now haunts her.
Rigmor told of how her mother would travel to the Imperial City from Bruma to buy things not available locally. How she would beg to go with her and get out of her sword and combat training. She had her mum wrapped around her little finger like most little girls. So of course her mother could never say no to her. Any excuse, no matter how far-fetched, would be accepted by her father. No doubt he was under the little girl spell as well. Rigmor laughed, just a little but it was the first real one I had heard from her. She laughed a little at her father making “that look” knowing he was being fibbed to. Sigunn had her father in the palm of her hand? Sounds like big girls can weave the same magic.
Rigmor’s voice was transporting both of us to those magic times of her childhood. Sometimes when shopping they would stop and listen to the bards and minstrels busking. Sometimes Rigmor would be dropped off at the library. She would read everything she could get her hands on for hours on end until her mother came and got her. I lamely said it sounded like fun. In fact, to a man who has no memories of childhood, it sounded like the most wonderful thing that has ever been.
Bruma is very much like the coldest parts of Skyrim in places. A memory dear to Rigmor was when they could take off their fur coats and enjoy the sunshine. She would look up and let it warm her face.
Rigmor would try on linen dresses and her mother would buy her a special treat. How I would love to buy her dresses just so she could experience that once again.
Rigmor’s memory of the summers in Cyrodiil was expressed with such longing that it hurt me to hear it.
She told me she just wanted to know if her mother was still alive.
Rigmor then asked me about being a Dragonborn. I just could not resist being a smart arse and replying “I’m sorry, I don’t want to talk about that now, maybe some other time.” That was greeted with the fake laughter I had heard her use many times in the last few days. I was determined to hear her real laughter again for both our sakes.
I realised we had been doing something I knew was dangerous. Staying still for too long. I told Rigmor that and we prepared to leave.
Right on queue a large band of bandits topped the nearby hill, saw us and charged. It consisted mostly of orcs but to me they were Thalmor. The very Thalmor that had inflicted such pain and loss on Rigmor! The disconnect I felt when dressing down Delphine was there and the rage tenfold. As with the incident with Delphine I do not know what parts of this being are me.
I knocked at least six of them down with my first Shout. Then I was among them with a fury I had never experienced before.
In the past I always went for the quick kill. I took no enjoyment from ending a life. This time I revelled in the horror and pain. Where a single sword thrust would do I employed multiple blows with the hilt of my sword and the face of my shield. Bones crunched. Blood and gore covered weapon, enemy and me. Shout after shout kept the enemy on the ground. I laughed at the ones trying to crawl away. I gave several slow deaths with a flame spell just so I could see them suffer and their flesh burn. One Orc cried mercy once before my heel smashed into his face and shattered his jaw. His gurgles as he choked on his own blood were music to me. I finally got bored and crushed his windpipe with a final stomp full of the contempt I had for this pathetic creature. I committed foul murder after foul murder. It was never going to be a contest of martial skills. It was the rage of the Gods cleaving mortal flesh.
“Dragonborn. No more. Please, Dragonborn!”
I stopped and looked around me. I was standing in the middle of at least a dozen well-armed orcs. Some were bloody piles of flesh. Some were still crackling fires. Some were rendered in many parts. I looked towards where the plea came from. It looked like four lucky bandits had died at Rigmor’s hands. That was a large group of bounty hunters I thought as my mind tried to forget what I had just done.
As I walked past Rigmor towards the hot springs I said, “That was your Dragonborn. I am sorry.”
I washed the physical evidence off my flesh and armour and weapons. No matter how hard I tried, I could not wash the evidence away from my memories. What hurt the most is what Rigmor must think of me. A monster guardian. A killing machine without a soul.
I returned to the pile of bodies and searched till I found confirmation. I showed Rigmor the bloodied wanted poster but could not look her in the eyes.
She grabbed my chin and turned my head so I either had to look at her or close my eyes. She whispered, “Now you understand how I managed to kill a whole company of Thalmor and everybody else in that fucking embassy.”
Then she mounted Ben and started trotting toward Windhelm. I ran to my horse and galloped to catch up. Not another word was uttered till we reached that wretched city.
It was about 3:30 PM when we arrived and left our horses at the Windhelm stables. We walked along the bridge and still no words passed between us.
A soon as we entered Windhelm Rigmor expressed her disgust. It was bleak and cold and so were the Nords who lived there. The only sound of merriment drifted from the nearby tavern. All conversations in the streets were brief and without warm greeting or goodbye. I felt if Ulfric had his way even Riften and Whiterun would turn into replicas of this horror.
We knew we had to go to the Gray Quarter and asked a guard where it was. “Why the fuck do you want to go there? Your business I suppose. Head that way and follow your nose. The stink of elves is hard to miss, or stomach.” I walked in the indicated direction vowing that one day this mindless racism would end.
Uptown Windhelm was bleak, the Gray Quarter was much worse. We eventually found the inn and entered. At least the universal appreciation for booze, conversation, boasting, fist fights and laughter prevailed even here. It was just like The Bee and Bar except full of Dunmer instead of hairy Nords.
I looked around and saw a sleazy looking fellow sitting by himself. He was staring into his empty mug with forlorn hope it would magically fill itself. Rigmor and I sat and I ordered a drink for the poor bloke. A waitress came and grabbed his mug and said she would refill it if I paid first. I tossed her the coin and turned my attention back to who I hoped was Sethri. Otherwise I might have to intercept that drink on its way back and skull it myself.
“Tendril Sethri?” I inquired. “Who wants to know?” I assured him we only wanted to talk. I think the fact I just got his mug filled made him listen. I said he might be able to help us and explained about the ring and how we think it came from him. How we think it came from the Thalmor Embassy in Haafinger. Tendril instantly started chatting like we were lifelong buddies. I think he loves telling a tale, especially if he is the main character.
He said he worked at the embassy as a kitchen servant. How he had “accidental like” added seared skeever meat into a vegetable broth. How the Thalmor got really bad runs and were toilet bound for a couple of days. He called them arrogant fools which confirmed it was no accident. They sacked him and told him he was lucky to keep his head. Looking at his head close up I think that luck is debatable. He stole some items on the way out the door from a shipment that had arrived that day from Solitude. He said the shipment contained everything from fine jewellery to rags. The shipment also included chains and shackles. Both Rigmor and I gasped at that. Slavery is banned in Empire territories.
Sethri believed all the items in that shipment from Solitude constituted a payment from the slavers to the Thalmor. A bribe to ensure they looked the other way. I pushed him for more information that might lead us to the rings owner. He asked for payment so I handed him a purse with 100 gold that Baa’Ren-Dar had given me for this purpose. He took it and told us the rest of his tale.
He was rifling through the pockets of the clothing looking for valuables when he noticed a list. The list had the names of those whose clothing he was searching and where they had been sent.
Sethri was genuinely horrified that men, women and children were being taken from Imperial controlled provinces by pirates and slave masters.
He said the Thalmor were stripping gold and silver and anything else of value from the shipment and sending them to a place called Northwatch Keep. I remember seeing that on maps. I had a pretty good idea of how to get there but it would take several days on horseback.
Sethri said he grabbed what he could and got out of there. Sigunn’s name would be on that list and where she was sent. We need to go to Northwatch Keep and get that list.
I thanked Sethri for the information. He wanted us to make sure the relevant authorities see the list and the “abomination” of slavery stopped. He was looking forward to seeing the Thalmor try and find an excuse for it all.
Rigmor and I left the inn. She asked if I knew where the keep was. I told her yes then she immediately suggested we go and get that list.
We would be entering exactly the type of place haunting her every waking hour. A Thalmor prison with all the foul memories contained therein. I expressed my concern. Would she be OK? I was not prepared but then again not surprised at her reaction. I remember it verbose. It scared me. It made me question my ability to help this woman.
“Why shouldn’t I be? Why are you so concerned how I feel? Has someone been talking behind my back?”
“Baa’Ren-Dar told me he rescued you from one, I just thought…”
“Thought what? Don’t you assume you know how I feel! What is it? You want to go on alone and leave me here? In this dump?” “Hey! Why don’t you stay here and I’ll just go and kill them all myself and get that stupid list.”
“Oh! That would be real smart! Alone in enemy territory!”
“Hey! I don’t need no Dragonborn babysitting me! I can take care of myself!” “Ever since the age of fourteen I have had my life ripped apart! I have suffered alone, there was no-one there for me, NO-ONE!!!”
If she only knew how guilty I am for not being there for her. What is the use of being this fucking abomination if I can’t help people like Rigmor when they need it the most? Where was the fucking magic compass back then? What could have been more important than Rigmor crying out for help?
I knew the stupidity of my thoughts. The Divines care nothing for an individual’s needs. It is the masses they care about. People like Rigmor are collateral damage. Acceptable losses when they tally everything up. I knew that. I also knew it was wrong. Start adding up the collateral damage and the sum is too much. Lydia and Bjorn. Rigmor, Sigunn and her beloved husband. Everybody who is going to be on that slaver’s list. The numbers are too big to dismiss as collateral damage. Only those beings who have never experienced our mortal lives could think they were.
I apologised with all my heart to Rigmor. I didn’t mean to offend her and I wasn’t assuming anything.
Rigmor apologised back. She said she was cold, hungry and tired and suggested we go to an inn, the one near the entrance, and get warm, have a meal. She wanted to talk about what happened to her but not out in the open. I agreed that going to Candlehearth Hall was a good idea so that is what we did.
Then she made me smile. She admitted she liked having me around. Thank goodness because she was not going to get rid of me till I knew she was safe.
We entered the inn. Not surprisingly it was a riot of sound, smells and sites that create the same ambience in every inn in Skyrim and probably all of Tamriel.
We went upstairs and sat at a table but ordered neither drink or meal. We were there to talk.
I told Rigmor she didn’t have to do this. She insisted she did. She needed to talk about what happened back then as her memories are fragmented. It was her way of dealing with things. Now she knows it was not just random fate but a result of who her father was she felt it important to remember as much as possible.
Just after her fourteenth birthday they came and arrested her father. I made the observation that within Skyrim he is still revered. I think she was proud of that. I asked if her father ever talked about the war. Never! He would get annoyed if Rigmor asked. I can understand that. Not all war stories are full of glory and bravery. Much of it is fear and violence.
She spent many hours learning both martial and tactical skills from her father. He would give her heavier and heavier swords to practise with. As she got used to a sword he would replace it with a heavier one.
Rigmor’s father knew he was on borrowed time. That sooner or later the Thalmor would visit. He told Rigmor that he would not always be there for them. He said that as an only child Rigmor had to be a much a son as a daughter. That she must be strong. Be a Nord!
Oh! What a burden to place on a child who loved the feel of sunshine on her face. To read and try on pretty dresses. If he damn well knew it was coming, why stay and let them ruin their lives. Why just surrender? Why not be like Lokir the horse thief? Run and make them bring you down. Don’t meekly walk to the chopping block!
There must be a reason and I was judging without knowing all. Maybe in time I will understand why he did it this way. Maybe he knew his fate was inevitable and decided not to waste his life fighting it. I do know he loved them dearly and told Rigmor that.
Rigmor hated herself for not being there for him! Felt she failed as a son!
I told her with all the conviction I could that there was nothing she could have done.
Then Rigmor detailed the lies and treachery of the Thalmor. How her father had agreed to their terms on the condition his wife and daughter were to be released. Instead of releasing them they separated mother and daughter and the Empire did nothing to help. A repeating theme throughout the reign of Emperor Titus Mede II. It is not only Gods who think they have the right to decide what collateral damage is acceptable. I wonder if it would have been acceptable if it were two people he loved? I doubt it.
I knew they had been mistreated. I wanted to know when that started. Before her father’s corpse was even cold? I asked if the Thalmor at the Embassy had mistreated her. Not until they were extradited. Out of view of the Empire most likely. Once out of site all went bad and they barely kept them alive.
Rigmor was made a slave. She had no rights, no life. No hope and constantly scared. All she wanted to do was go home and didn’t know why she couldn’t.
This hurts. This is killing me slowly. This is not what I signed on for. This is not something “Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines” can fix. If my lost memories are anything like Rigmor’s then I don’t want them. I don’t want Rigmor’s. I tried the coward’s way out and told her she can stop. I hoped she would because I knew I would listen to every sordid detail.
An emphatic NO! She needed to do this.
Wulf you selfish bastard! This beautiful soul needs you. Fuck your own pain. It is a tiny fraction of hers. I was starting to shrink from my duty. I still did not know what part of this whole sordid mess concerns The Divines so much they put me on this path. I never for once thought it was to repair Rigmor and give her peace. Maybe I can do that along the way. So I listened and hoped it was the start of her healing.
Rigmor fought back the only way she could. She refused to blindly obey. To do as they demanded. For that she received beatings. At this stage I was unsure who she was slave to and asked if it was the Thalmor. Of course not, it was some Bosner who had not been mentioned but now I knew.
Once again she apologised. If she knew my cowardly thoughts just seconds ago it would be me saying sorry.
Rigmor said she was sent to Valenwood to work on a farm. It was run by a Bosmer slaver and his two sons. A high ranking Justiciar would check in every so often to see how they were treating Rigmor. His motives for doing so were unclear to Rigmor back then. He warned them against raping or molesting Rigmor in any way. This immediately struck me as strange. Why would they value her maidenhood? Did they intend to marry her off or sell her to somebody who would place great value on her virginity? Another important detail that does not yet have an answer.
Under the threat of a violent and unpleasant death if they dared sate their carnal desires they sated their sadism instead. They beat her and were given permission, in fact ordered to, by this Justiciar. Rigmor did not know his name.
The Justiciar’s justification was he wanted Rigmor broken. He wanted her to obey the orders of the Bosmer. Her refusal was unacceptable to a Thalmor. They always expect to get their way as we are but lesser beings in their eyes. We are incapable of their superior reasoning and logic. Rigmor’s refusal is like a disobedient dog to them. So Rigmor’s description, that they beat her like a dog, was very apt.
Rigmor almost broke the slavemaster’s neck. She fought back like a true Nord as her father had always urged her to do. Her father had instilled the Nord ethos in her from a very early age.
Better to live one day as a warrior than a lifetime as a coward.
She was removed from the “care” of the Bosmers. It was the Thalmor’s turn to beat a teenage girl to within an inch of her life. Close to death she had retreated into that bliss the body provides to shield us from the unpleasant details of dying. She knew nothing till she awoke in a soft clean bed.
At first she thought she had died and awoke in Sovngarde. She had certainly died a warrior’s death if so. Then the pain told her she was very alive.
I said Baa’Ren-Dar risked everything to save her life. She agreed and said she loves him dearly, like a father. I asked her if that is why she named her horse after him. She laughed. I was startled. Then she asked I not tell him as he will growl at her. Then she laughed once more and I needed more. I laughed back and asked about growling. It was genuine joy in my laugh. She told me Khajiits growl when mad. She laughed again. And continued laughing till she caught her breath and announced she was done talking.
I thanked her with all the sincerity I could. I emphasised how much it meant. She had no idea what she had just done to me.
I asked if she was ready to head out. She said yes and then I explained I was not comfortable in this city. Even within this inn I started to feel the racism and hatred from outside seeping into my soul like a slow poison. It was at least a two and a half day ride to Northwatch Keep. I wanted a head start before we rested for the night. We could reach Dawnstar around midnight if we left now. She was more than happy to escape Ulfric’s lair.
So we left that bleak city and our moods were instantly lifted when we felt it recede behind us.
Rigmor seemed lost in her own thoughts and said little.
It is if all the usual possible interruptions recognised my need to think as well and we were unmolested all the way to Dawnstar.
Think I did and came to a startling conclusion. I was falling deeply in love with a person who I had known less than a week. This was not a story about Princes and Princesses and living happily ever after. This is not just some random woman. A person she regards as a father figure has trusted me to be her guardian. To protect her from harm. What could be more harmful than one day realising your protector wants you as a lover, a wife, and you do not share such feelings. What right do I have to even think she regards me as anything but a hired sword?
That laughter! That pure joy from a soul who seconds before was describing the horror that has been her life. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard and I would give everything to hear it every day and my soul to be the one making her laugh. It was a confirmation of life. Proof there is beauty to be found if you look hard enough. It was a giant “fuck you!” to fate and a refusal to let it destroy who you are. It had snared my heart and I was as helpless as a young boy mooning over his first love. As far as my current life, it would be my first love. I did not know what to do. For a brief second I thought of praying and asking The Divines themselves. I have not prayed to them yet and I certainly wasn’t going to ask about something they have no experience or knowledge of. They play at love by sending aspects to Nirn but they are always a tiny part of their soul. They would have no concept of two complete souls becoming one. I must continue to protect Rigmor. I must hide my feelings. It could do much harm if she knew. So hide it I must.
I was so absorbed in my thoughts it did not seem like hours later when the gates of Dawnstar loomed before us. It was just before midnight and I startled a young stable boy asleep in his chair. He stabled our horse and we entered a city I have no recollection of.
Even in the dark of midnight its beauty was apparent. I suppose it may have been the contrast to Windhelm. Rigmor enthusiastically claimed it to be pretty so maybe it really is.
We looked like the dusty road weary travellers we actually were. So when we entered the Windpeak Inn we attracted the attention and sympathy of the proprietor, Thoring, and his daughter, Karita. Thoring seemed to be heading off to bed. He sounded very out of it and confused but still gave us a warm greeting. Karita told him she would deal with the poor weary travellers and he should continue to bed. He did so and Karita gave us her full attention.
Was there a double room available? Sorry no and only one single room. But it was large and had room for a bedroll on the floor if one of us didn’t mind. It had a writing table and a washing basin full of fresh water and clean towels. Rigmor asked if it had a piss pot. When Karita laughed and assured her it did Rigmor tuned out on the rest of the details.
Rigmor went to the privy while I paid the tally to Karita.
We entered the rented room. I closed the door and wedged one of two sturdy chairs against it. I checked the window and was happy to see it was one of the standard small barred type. I felt that Rigmor wanted to talk. I really needed her to sleep. She got the hint and asked me to turn around. She did not want to sleep in her armour again and stripped down to her small clothes. She climbed into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. I plonked the remaining chair next to the bed and she asked why I was not using a bedroll. I explained that a bedroll takes a long time to get out of if danger burst through the door. She accepted that and started to settle and her breathing told me she was headed for sleep. Then she murmured I had better not get any weird ideas. I laughed and assured her I was way too tired to molest a little girl in her sleep. She mumbled she was not a little girl. She was a Nord woman and I had better not forget that. Oh how I wish I could. She soon fell into a deep sleep.
I sat there watching for a while. I looked at her shorn hair then over to her pile of formless armour. She was trying to be the son her father wanted her to be. She was neglecting the girl he also loved. This is what her guilt over not saving him has done.
She needed two things. She needed to perform a task or feat she thinks would please her father. I am no use there. She will have to figure that out herself. Whatever it is, I will be by her side no matter what.
Secondly she needed reminding that she is a woman and can be strong without hiding her gender. That trying to be “the son” will achieve very little.
I pulled my journal out and wrote this entry. I then watched her sleeping and renewed my vow not to let my feelings show. I know not what time I fell asleep.