Dawnstar, Dragon Bridge, Northwatch Keep: Miscalculation, Cavalry practice, Ambush, Mr. Bear, Slaver’s List, Rigmor’s nightmare, Broken vow.
I woke about 6:30AM and looked at Rigmor. She was fast asleep so I thought I would give her a few more minutes. The water in the basis was cold. I used a bit of magicka to warm it up and gave my face a quick scrub. A bit more magicka and the water was clean. I woke Rigmor and told her of the warm water and clean towels and headed into the tavern.
I sat at a table and ordered a good breakfast. Whilst waiting I took another look at my map.
YOU IDIOT! I had overestimated the time to get to Northwatch Keep by an entire day. I was trying not to let Rigmor know I had never been, well the current me, had never been to a lot of the places we were going. She will just put it down to my idiocy but I need to tell her we will get there today.
She came down looking quite fresh and, to my treacherous heart, the most beautiful woman on Nirn. I had read in the histories of love being found within days of meeting and many of those developing into lifelong commitments. That was for others, not me.
Rigmor did her usual morning trip to the privy. Then she sat at the table and scoffed more down in a few minutes than even Meeko would manage. Where does she fit it?
I told her of my calculation error and she just laughed and mumbled something about idiotic Dragonborn. I was still unsure if she was ready to face whatever we found at Northwatch Keep but kept such worries to myself.
We had a good look at Dawnstar in the morning sunshine when we emerged from the inn. It was a very picturesque place. Too bad we did not have time to explore. It was about 8.00AM when we left the city. That should mean we will get to the keep mid-afternoon.
There were many ancient ruins along the major roads that were not mentioned in the histories I had read. Thinking about who and what lived in these places kept my mind from the problem riding behind me.
We came across a Civil War skirmish and tried to ride past as if we were not wanted outlaws. One Imperial Captain pointed to us and was about to alert his troops who we were. A battleaxe lodged between his ears by a Stormcloak Sargent ended that problem before it started.
Later on we came across some of those weird Miraak cultists. I wonder how many are skulking around Skyrim looking for the false Dragonborn?
Rigmor never fights from horseback. It was simply something she had not learnt from her father. The bow is also a mystery to her. Maybe both would have been taught if he had longer to train her. So every fight for Rigmor had to be close up and personal and on foot. I could use sword or bow but I was still upset at my skills on horseback. Since Lydia is not here to laugh I might as well try again.
So I charged the Miraak goons on my trusty steed with no name. I need to give him a name.
All three “Mighty Warriors of Miraak” fell after a single pass by the Dragonborn astride Dogmeat, his courageous steed! Actually I cut down one and Dogmeat trampled the other two. Rigmor was pissed off she didn’t get to chop up one of the little guys, I mean “Mighty Warriors of Miraak.” It was all over before she dismounted Ben. I explained to her these guys are hunting me because I am Dragonborn. “Idiots!” was all she said.
Major Civil War battles, not just skirmishes, were all over the countryside. Since being spotted earlier that morning we employed a new tactic. We waited for a course to present itself through the heaving throng then galloped as fast as could till we were clear. It worked several time that day.
I have never professed to fighting fair. That sort of nonsense can get you killed. So when I saw a Thalmor patrol walking a road of Skyrim as if they owned it I did not even cross my mind to issue a challenge. They would be used to riders galloping past on whatever business they were on. For that reason they took no notice of the sound of Dogmeat’s approaching hoof beats. I slashed and chopped and they were dead. Rigmor ran up fast but missed the party. I thought she would be happy there were deceased Thalmor so why the pissed off look?
When we reached the outskirts of Dragon’s Bridge there were barriers, tents and a good number of Thalmor waiting for us. I assume a lot of similar checkpoints are being made by order of General Whatshisname. There were plenty to share with Rigmor this time so I charged on Dogmeat and she ran screaming “Talos wills it!”
A few ran from Rigmor. She had to corner them before they would fight. When I first saw her in action I compared her to a mini berserker. It seems she has the same ability to make enemies shit themselves with fear. Handy, if a little smelly.
To get though Dragon’s Bridge we had to cut down Imperial as well as Thalmor troops. Those poor Imperials were only obeying the orders of their superiors. They were told we were bad people so they tried to stop us. I had tried since awakening to avoid killing Stormcloak or Imperial troops. The Thalmor were invaders with the morals of Hagraven. Apologies to any Hagraven who read this. The soldiers on both sides were only guilty of believing the orders from command were just and obeying them as trained to do. If these Imperial soldiers knew what the Thalmor had done to Rigmor, and what they were planning for Skyrim and Cyrodiil, they would have joined us in removing the Thalmor filth from Dragon’s Bridge. Instead I had to remove them from their families and loved ones. I hope there is not another Lydia about to find her soul mate is gone.
Not far out from Dragon’s Bridge we encountered another Thalmor patrol. They were as numerous around here as flies on shit. I fireballed them to whatever hell they believe in.
Hello, we have an appointment at Northwatch Keep, why are you trying to delay us? The sounds of the fireball explosions attracted some Miraak goons. I left them for Rigmor since she had wanted to add them to her trophy cabinet earlier. One of them hit her with a lightning bolt. I am always amazed when a mage casts a spell and assumed the target is going to get turned to ashes or goo or dismembered body parts. They stand there gloating is their premature victory and have a surprised look when their target cleaves them in two with a greatsword.
We were not far from Northwatch Keep when a minor snow storm arrived. I did not mind that at all. It could help conceal our approach if they are being vigilant.
We turned off the main road onto a trail that led past a derelict tower. This trail would lead us to the coast where we would turn left and approach Northwatch Keep from the east. It is the approach that would give us the furthest view so we could see what troop numbers, barriers and patrols we faced.
Not far along this trail Rigmor halted Ben, dismounted and asked me to do the same. I dismounted Dogmeat and joined her. I asked what the problem was She had spotted something and wanted me to follow.
What she had spotted was a cage at the foot of the broken tower. In that cage was a HUGE snow bear. In front of the cage was the mangled body of an Imperial. Looks like he got too close and the bear took him out.
Rigmor wanted me to free the bear! I could understand the sight of any creature caged and denied freedom would generate sympathy from somebody who has experienced the same. I thought her desire to free such a creature was overcoming her common sense, and survival instinct.
The conversation went like this and to be frank, I never stood a chance!
“The poor thing!”
“Poor thing? Rigmor, it’s a huge wild deadly beast!”
“We can’t just leave it here.”
“Oh, I think you’ll find we can just leave it here.”
“No Rigmor, we will die, it will attack and kill us both if we let it out.”
“No, it won’t. It’s so beautiful Dragonborn, look!”
“So you’re a Bear Expert now? Rigmor, this is madness!”
Then she did it. She used the little girl magic in adult form. The one that makes mothers, fathers and smitten men obey without question.
She said “Trust me.” Thank goodness she didn’t bat her eyelids as well. I would have been her slave for eternity!
I knew we could easily turn it into a nice bear rug if needed but this was still a risk. I searched what was left of the Imperial and found the key to the cage. I unlocked it and the cage door swung wide open. Rigmor talked to it in common tongue (I was sure she was about to grunt in bear language but relieved to be wrong.) She told it that it was free and can go now.
It slowly rose and started to make its way out of the cage. It looked at me with an expression that was either happy gratitude or pleasant contemplation of its next meal.
Rigmor stood completely unafraid. It walked passed her and turned around. It looked at us both. Maybe deciding which is main and which is desert?
It then ran off down the trail and we could hear it no more.
I didn’t bother asking Rigmor how she knew she could do that. I immediately put it in the “You will never ever know!” category. The one I created for those oil thingies that hang from ceilings in dungeons and the perpetually lit candles and lanterns in places nobody has visited for eras and why heroes and heroines in stories never stop for a crap break.
I admitted to her that was impressive but couldn’t resist as joke.
“That was one very rude bear Rigmor!”
“Why, he was cute. How dare you say that!”
“Didn’t you see it! He kept showing us his bear bottom!”
I was hoping for one of her laughs. Instead I got a stare that would freeze a fireball! She then mounted Ben and waited impatiently for me to get Dogmeat and take the lead. I could feel icicles forming between my shoulder blades as we continued down the trail.
We did not get far down the trail when we found the bear fighting a troll. I had been waiting for a chance to try some horseback marksmanship. I took aim, shot the troll which was stunned enough for the bear to finish off with a huge swipe of its front paw. Off the bear went to wherever bears go and we continued on once again.
We slowly rode our horses towards Northwatch Keep. I figured the snow would hide our identity from this distance. It seems a lot of traffic comes this way and we could just be more travellers as far as they could tell from there.
Then the snow squall vanished leaving us in clear site of whatever watchmen they had. Maybe I had offended some God of Snow with the bear joke?
It seemed General Whathisname’s tendrils had not reached here yet. I could see no eagle eyed watchmen. Just some lucky souls patrolling the ramparts, enjoying the lovely weather and staring into blinding whiteness.
We decided to keep playing the “we are nobody, just ordinary travellers” game and rode past the South entrance to the keep.
Maybe some God appreciated my humour because a Snow Troll just happened to take offence at the Thalmor on duty at the South entrance.
We quickly dismounted, hobbled the horses and crouched behind some rocks to watch the fun.
Several guards finally killed the troll and were congratulating each other. I decided to help them celebrate with a couple of pretty fireballs. One was immediately killed and a couple were badly injured and ran back into the courtyard. Rigmor and I ran full pelt and engaged the Thalmor in battle.
Rigmor went left, I went right. I must admit some of their armour was pretty. Not that horrible green glass stuff. The nice armour looked like some sort of light steel that had been beautifully coloured grey with golden highlights. It was like cutting butter with “The Sword”. Thalmor marksmen are very stubborn. They rarely draw their sword even when you are directly in front of them. Do they think we are going to be fair and let them cock and draw another arrow before slicing into them?
The fight was soon over and Rigmor and I chose a doorway for our grand entrance. I doubted they would greet us with afternoon drinks and nibbles.
We expected many troops to be garrisoned in the fort. We encountered very few and they were easily dispatched. We rounded one corner and found many prisoners in cells. We killed a few guards then Rigmor went ahead a bit while I freed the poor wretches.
They quickly armed themselves with weapons from the fallen Thalmor and started to move through the keep to freedom. Just at the exit of the cell block some Thalmor troops appeared and attacked them. They were brave but no match for the Thalmor they encountered. With my aid the Thalmor were killed. None of the ex-prisoners died and I healed a few. It was good to use my rusty Restoration skills. Then I went looking for Rigmor.
It did not take long to find her. The trail of dead Thalmor helped. She was standing next to the body of a Justiciar staring at a pole with manacles for feet and hands. Blood and flesh could be seen on the manacles and in puddles on the floor. Several types of whips and canes and torture devices were neatly arranged on a table next to it. The whole cell was one of misery with cramped prisoner cages hanging from the roof, torture racks, manacles against the wall and other evil devices.
I gently put my hand on her shoulder and told her we needed to keep searching for the slaver’s list. She slowly came back to reality and just nodded her head. So the search resumed.
We did not encounter any more Thalmor and from the sounds of the ex-prisoners joy as they raided the guard’s bar the place was empty of them.
It did not take long to find the slaver’s list. It was sitting on a crate in a stock room. I quickly leafed through it and there she was. “Sigunn of Bruma – Nord – 36 – Female”. She had been sent to a place called “Diamond Ridge Mine”. I had not the foggiest idea where that was.
We needed to get out of there for Rigmor’s sake. She wanted to know if her mother was on the list. I told her she was but we should discuss it after getting out of this hellhole. She heartily agreed so we backtracked the way we had come in.
We exited and headed for the Southern entrance to get our horses. The sun was dazzling and our eyes were still adjusting when we came face to face with General Tilar Sedriath. I think he followed the trail of dead Thalmor to find us.
Thalmor have a reputation for being conceited. Tilar was so conceited he probably married himself. When he talked it sounded like he had cut his balls off to achieve a nice contralto. I would not be surprised if he enjoyed young boys over women.
A soon as he started to speak Rigmor yelled out a very loud, “YOU!” I have never heard so much hatred and malice expressed so eloquently in one single word.
He said he was flattered she remembered him. Then talked to her like she was some delinquent child and threatened to punish her all over again.
Realisation hit me and my rage was instant. This is the one person in all of Nirn I most wanted to kill.
I fought the rage. I needed to keep control. Rigmor needs me, Wulf her guardian. She does not need that almost mindless thing I had turned into the other day. Oh Rigmor. Beloved Rigmor. I am so sorry you have to see his face and listen to his voice again.
Rigmor’s voice was strong. She was not scared of this boogie-man from her childhood. She told him she was no longer that defenceless child. That he should have brought along the Bosmer slavers so they could die as well.
He seemed so proud that he had the Bosmer killed and their heads put on spikes. What a pompous piece of shit! He then asked Rigmor if we would surrender. Thalmor arrogance has found a new champion.
“Over my dead body!” was her reply.
Then the coward ran away after ordering his rabble to kill us.
I was in control, not that thing I sometime become. I needed to uses tactics, not just blind violence, to help Rigmor survive this.
I aimed a “Unrelenting Force” Shout in his direction. It wiped out a few troops and rocked him and his horse but he remained in the saddle and galloped off.
I do not think these were his “elite” troops. They appeared to be standard Thalmor soldiers and hired mercenaries.
Rigmor sliced and diced like I had never seen her before. Foe after foe died under her blade with almost clockwork regularity. Clang, clang dead. Clang, clang dead. One hit to destroy any defence. One hit to kill. Her blade was almost entirely crimson by the time our last opponent fell dead.
I could see Tilar in the distance atop his horse and looking our way. It was obvious he wanted us to chase him. It was obvious he had hidden troops and a “surprise” ambush waiting for us. This is a General? Rigmor and I happily ran towards the ambush. Maybe I can get another chance to blow his pompous arse off his horse.
I contemplated chucking a few fireballs as we ran then saw a huge snow bear surprise some hidden troops from behind. If it was Rigmor’s friend or not, that bear did not deserve to be singed so I just kept an eye on General Turd and ran.
The coward once again ordered others to kill us while he rode to safety. His Mum must be so proud.
I thought Rigmor could not be more pissed off. Seeing him run away again almost made her explode in frustration and anger. When she saw what looked like her bear friend surrounded by arseholes trying to poke holes in him she gave a loud “No you don’t!” and started that clockwork massacre again.
We rescued the bear who, once the numbers were more even, proved to be a worthy ally. A Thalmor head vs giant snow bear paw is not a contest. It either gets pulped but stays attached to the body or it goes flying off in a graceful arc to land a good distance away. Either way the Thalmor is dead which is always a good thing.
In the end one last Thalmor stood in front on the bear. For variety this time the bear bit his head off.
I ran to Rigmor who was doubled over trying to catch her breath. I asked if she was OK. She said she thought so and told me that was him, the one she told me about. I told her I know and that I did my best to reach the slippery coward. I told Rigmor that he got away this time and this place will soon be crawling with more of his lackeys. She asked about the list again and I promised we would talk about it when we are away from the fort. I urged her to focus on the now. I said we will head west then north and look for way through the mountains into The Reach. She hoped there was one and with that we prepared to move out.
Then she asked me to wait while she said goodbye to “Mr. Bear”. She waved as he ran off to do whatever bears do when not killing Thalmor.
Mr. Bear? Surely he deserved a more heroic name that! He is now in my journal and if I am successful in getting these somewhere safe, has a permanent place is history.
We walked past the carnage of the battle to collect the horses. If Rigmor was impressed or amazed that we not only survived but barely had a scratch between us she said nothing. I know if I was General Coward I would be scared of this woman. Terrified!
I realised something that made me smile. This is exactly why they dragged Rigmor into this nightmare. This is the exact scenario they tried to prevent with their lies and brutality. Then the smile went and I almost cried. We could have reached this exact point in this contest without Rigmor and her family having to suffer as they did. All what they put Rigmor through was for naught. I kept that realisation to myself and hoped Rigmor never concludes the same thing.
We crossed a bit of water and found a trail marked by flags that led past a hunters camp and up into the mountains.
The view was impressive and I could see a sinister looking castle in the distance. Looks evil so it will probably be somewhere my bosses want me to visit one day.
We kept bumping into these beasts that attacked us without fear. I have no idea what their name is. They were not much of a threat but annoying. Probably only seen in this part of Skyrim.
It was getting fairly dark and the mountain trail quite narrow with a lovely view you would have minutes to enjoy if you fell of the edge. Might be fun except for the sudden stop at the end! Dogmeat was not concerned and I had confidence he would not make us plunge over just for a joke. I smiled when I thought about what Lydia’s reaction would be. Probably have to stop for a chuck up session every few minutes.
We came to a clearing where we could see some sort of camp up on the heights. Rigmor dismounted and wanted to talk to me. Before we had a chance heaps of those ugly beasties attacked. Even Ben had had enough of them and kicked a few to death. When there was nothing left but dead ones I walked up to Rigmor to see what she wanted.
She did not look well at all. I think today has caught up with her in a big way. I asked her if she is OK and she told me this is getting scary. I made the point it was OK because we made it. She agreed. Then Rigmor suggested Sethri might have ratted us out. I didn’t think he had. His hatred for the Thalmor seemed very genuine to me. I then said Aedriath is very good. At sneaky underhanded things that is. Having a backbone does not seem to be his forte.
Rigmor asked about the list and I handed it to her so she could find her Mum’s name herself. She asked if I knew where this Diamond Ridge Mine is. I apologised and admitted I didn’t.
Rigmor said that Baa’Ren-Dar would be able to find out. She said she was tired and we walked the horses up the camp we saw and hobbled them.
Rigmor fell asleep almost immediately and I took up my usual guard position next to the bed.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
NO! NO! NO!
The day did not end like that. If I do not record the truth, even my own cowardice and vow breaking then this is all worthless.
I may as well tear these pages out and use them in the privy or to start a fire.
I never fell asleep. I sat for hours before I got the courage to write the end of the day as it really happened. I am amazed at how cheerful I made some things sound. Master of deceit.
It all went wrong when Rigmor asked about the Slaver’s list.
Rigmor asked about the list and I handed it to her so she could find her Mum’s name herself. She asked if I knew where this Diamond Ridge Mine is. I apologised and admitted I didn’t.
Then things got real heated and I made the biggest mistake since I awakened.
Rigmor said with some venom in her voice, “Well that’s cute.”
I tried to calm her down with reason and said, “Rigmor, we came her to find out where they sent her, we have done just that.”
Sarcasm replaced venom and she replied, “Yeah right, look where it got us, nearly killed.”
Her frustration was evident. She went on, “Every time I feel closer to her, the further away she seems to get, we are going round in circles here and that…that bastard turning up, I don’t think I can carry on like this any more.”
I told her, “I’m trying my best!”
I know where these attacks come from. So it did not upset me when she blurted, “Trying your best to get us lost!”
A lot of people fail to recognise another person’s fear and desperation can cause the things they say to sound harsh and sometimes ungrateful. They get angry and say nasty things back. That is so damaging. So unfortunate. So sad for both parties.
I calmly told Rigmor, “Hey, we just need to figure out our next step. Calm down. We’ll be fine.”
Ooops. Wrong words to use with somebody in Rigmor’s state of mind. “Don’t tell me to calm down!” she spat at me.
Let it be known I, Wulf, can fit my foot in my mouth just as well as anybody else.
I said, thinking I was still being reasonable but was actually throwing fuel on the fire, “Rigmor, I just want to help, and you’re acting like a stupid child.”
Oh how I wish I could have taken those words back.
“Help? You’re just making things worse!” she said. Accurate but not for the reasons she thought.
I tried to instil some confidence in her again. I said, “We will find her, and bring her home.”
Failed. This poor tortured soul was unravelling in front of my eyes.
Rigmor said as if this were a certainty, “I’m not strong enough, I can’t do this any more!”
I kept trying because I had no choice and said, “Yes you can. You are strong enough.”
“Why are you saying that, why do you even care!?”
I broke my own vow barely 24 hours after making it!
I could have said something like, “You are my friend. That is why I care.”
Instead, to my ultimate shame and regret, I said, “I care for you more than you know.”
She was repulsed just as I knew she would be. “Just get away from me!” she yelled.
Then she ran from this monster. This guardian who turned into a lecherous perverted thing that was stupid enough to think he was more than a hired thug. Who was so fucking stupid he thought he could trick her into believing a person could fall in love in mere days. Who is probably lusting after what he now believes is a virginal body because we all know males are like that. Who has probably been more than just watching over her at night.
Monster. Lecher. Pervert. Take your pick you fucking stupid idiot. Just don’t ever call yourself her guardian ever again.
She stopped running for a few seconds. I thought she was going to return and call me all the names already going through my head. I heard some sobbing. Then she ran up the stairs and vanished into a tent.
What do you expect oh mighty Divines? Plunge me into this world devoid of any love to keep me going. No memory of love. No experience of love except from a goofball dog who I wish was here right now. Sent me on this wild goose chase for some threat that has not even surfaced yet. Then a person who deserves to be unconditionally loved is with me hour after hour, day after day sharing her past and her hopes for the future. Did you think I would not fall in love?
I remember! You would not know the answer would you? None of you know what love is. Talos might have known once but I am sure it became abstract when he joined your exclusive club.
Help you with your task or help Rigmor. What do you think my choice would be? Is this why other Dragonborn have gone bad. Not due to arrogance like those useless fossils in High Hrothgar think. Was it because they chose that most glorious of things? Something given to mortals at the beginning of time. Something admired by both Aedra and Deadra but out of their reach.
Did they choose love over duty?
I can see the temptation but you have not given me the option have you? Without the tasks you set me I will have nothing and will fade away to nothing.
I have no past and your tasks are the only things that might give me a future. Duty or nothing. A neat trap.
Then I will not fail even after this disaster. Even if she detests me and the old khajiit gives me my marching orders I will find out what it is you need me to do and be the fucking automaton you wish me to be.
For now I am her guardian. I can call myself that for one more night.
I gathered the horses and led them up the stairs and hobbled them near the tent.
We need to find a path but that can wait till light.
Rigmor is asleep and I will not wake her.
I will guard her as I always have. Until I am no longer welcome.