North West Camp, Wilderness, Angi’s Camp: Surprised, Confused, Hopeful.
It was about 7.30AM.
I knew the ride to Angi’s was going to take all day.
If we left soon we should get there at sundown or soon after.
We didn’t want to leave much later than 8.00AM or we would be riding those dodgy mountain paths in the dark.
I knew all that but still hesitated to wake Rigmor.
I can face dragons one on one.
I have no fear at all in battle.
Yet I was terrified of the rejection and horror I expect Rigmor to display when she saw me again.
I had no choice, we had to get going.
I gently shook her awake and quickly withdrew my hand and stepped away.
First words were, “Hello Dragonborn. Is it morning? Are we going soon?”
After my initial shock I recovered enough to tell her we will be going as soon as she is ready.
I told her we will be going to Angi’s. That it will be an all-day ride. That we will be travelling though some beautiful countryside and she will get to see a lot of Skyrim today.
I told her, hoping this would not set her off again, that we will find where the mine is.
“OK” was her only response.
It was a tired and resigned voice that said it. Rigmor had been beaten down and my error last night was the proverbial last straw. I needed to get her to Angi’s so she can forget about all this shit for a while and recover.
It will also give her a chance to tell everybody what a disgrace I am.
After a bit to eat and her usual morning rituals she was ready to go. I assumed the pass would not be far from the camp.
It was just after 8.00AM when we left the camp behind us.
The pass was surprisingly easy to find thanks to more of those flags.
I wanted to go off the main roads a bit and head towards Karthwasten. From there we take the road to Markarth and turn off that when we reach the Kolskeggre Mine. We should then travel alongside a river for many miles. When we reach a lake there will be a road going south that takes us to Falkreath. We skirt Falkreath and it should be easy to find the path to Angi’s. Should be but I missed it last time.
I had no idea what to expect in terms of danger. I suspected there would be many Thalmor.
Not far into our trip I saw a dragon hovering and watching. I pointed it out to Rigmor. She didn’t even look or acknowledge me in any way. I don’t blame her.
We travelled for quite a few miles more when I saw the same Dovah. He was definitely watching where I was going but did not seem likely to attack. He might just tell on us to a bigger bastard who will swoop down and ruin my day. Swooping is bad!
We reached Karthwasten without a single thing attacking us. Pity as a good fight might have dragged some words out of Rigmor. She had not been taking any notice of the beautiful scenery all around us. She had not muttered a word. She was looking down most of the trip and relying on Ren to find their way through tricky bits like a river crossing we did earlier. My guilt was enormous and got bigger every time I looked at her. Look at her I must because I love her.
I knew this ride along the river would take many hours and the music of it was soothing. It was almost easy to forget the shit I expected to happen when we got to Angi’s.
How do you ruin a good self-loathing session? By introducing something fun to slice and dice. I pointed out three Miraak goons ahead to Rigmor and she did even look up.
When I attacked them she did get off Ren but only walked lethargically toward the fighting. She did not draw her sword, say a word or show any reaction at all. When it was over she shuffled back to Ren and onto her saddle.
As we approached Kolskeggr Mine I noticed some strangely dressed warriors watch our approach. I did nothing aggressive and either did Rigmor. They had furs with antlers on their heads and lots of bone rings and necklace etc. I had no idea who they were till they attacked yelling, “For the Forsworn!” Aha, the rebellion Ulfric crushed. Not a very friendly welcome!
I dispatched a couple but Rigmor was taking no notice as a warrior approached intending her harm. Ren reared and kicked out at him which earned a hit with the pommel of a wicked looking sword. I think Ren was one of the reasons they attacked. There is good money in quality stolen horses. Ren squealed. Rigmor leapt off and made short work of the warrior, checked Ren’s lump and jumped back into the saddle.
This will get he mad I thought as I noticed a Justiciar and a couple of other Thalmor leading a prisoner in ropes. Probably a Talos worshipper. Off to the slave market you go!
I waited till the Justiciar was almost next to me hoping that eventually Rigmor would see a prisoner of the Thalmor and do something. She didn’t seem to notice at all. Eventually the Justiciar noticed us. Wanted fugitives and they almost walked past? Maybe because we didn’t try to hide?
They spread out so I decided it would be better to deal with them on foot than horseback. The two soldiers were far enough away from the prisoner for me to risk an “Unrelenting Force” Shout. As they were picking themselves up I made short work of the Justiciar. When I looked back at the other two one was still groggily trying to get to his feet. The other one was making gurgling sounds and thrashing wildly as the prisoner gleefully choked the life out of him. I ran up and stabbed the wobbly one through the chest.
Eventually the thrashing and gurgling stopped and the prisoner stood, kicked the one he just strangled and spat on him. A fellow Thalmor fan! I untied him, gave the best of the weapons the Thalmor had and ten gold to help get clothes etcetera at the next town. His name was Svenson and he was arrested when caught praying to his small Talos shrine in his garden. I wished him the best and looked over at Rigmor. Nobody home! At least Ren was keeping an eye out for something or someone he could kick.
“Hey Rigmor, look at those wonderful waterfalls!” was met with…nothing but plod plod plod from Ren’s hooves.
More brothers, cousins and best friends trying to kill each other over the never ending argument, which colour looks best on a uniform, red or blue? I waited for Ren to start weaving his way through the skirmish then followed ready to defend Rigmor if needed. No Imperial even had time to look at us.
As we approached Falkreath I had the chance to practice my horsemanship again. I wonder how many Thalmor I have killed lately? Too bad there is no bounty.
The only words I got from Rigmor on the ride were, “Dragonborn stop. I need to pee!” She went into the bushes, returned, got back in the saddle and resumed her head down position.
I finally saw the “Keep Out” sign and thought that will probably apply to me any minute.
We plodded up the stairs and hitched our horses. I stretched a bit and looked around.
I was surprised to see Baa’Ren-Dar there. He was going to two provinces, having discussions with important people and then returning. No way he could have done all that and returned in the few days he was gone if he relied on horses. He probably has scrolls or other magical device that lets him teleport. I had briefly studied the spells but they are a bit dodgy. A bit experimental. Mages have vanished never to be seen again. One thought he could bypass some security the Greybeards have and teleport himself to The Throat of The World. He got the right height but missed his landing spot by quite a bit. He plummeted thousands of feet with his robe blown up and over his head and his lack of undergarments his final indignity till he landed and spread himself over a wide area. If the old khajiit is using teleport spells he is very brave indeed.
Convenient for Rigmor. She can tell him now and I can get told to officially fuck off and I can go and find something else to do whilst waiting for the crises bothering The Divines to finally reveal itself .
Rigmor was walking his way when Sorella ran up and gave her a welcome home hug. Rigmor hugged her back and they had a brief talk about Angi. Sorella thought she was not really crazy anymore. Sorella was excited by the fact Angi is teaching her how to hunt and put arrows through the heads of any bad buys.
Get your bow ready Sorella. I could be your first bad guy kill.
Rigmor said all that was great then started walking towards her saviour. I wondered if he will growl at me like Rigmor once described. Just before she laughed and sealed my fate.
Baa’Ren-Dar was watching her intently but made no move toward her.
Rigmor walked right past him without even looking at him or saying a word.
She approached her bed then stood for a while and slowly turned. Rigmor called out “Dragonborn” in the most forlorn of voices. I approached her and asked her what she wanted. She looked up at me with a slight smile on her face and asked if I would sleep in the chair next her bed and guard her again tonight. I told her it would be my honour. She thanked me, crawled onto her bed, took her usual sideways curled up position and was soon asleep.
I just stared at her for what seemed like seconds but was apparently a bit longer as I heard Baa’Ren-Dar give a few loud coughs to get my attention.
I hoped he did not notice the quick wipe of my eyes I did before I turned and walked toward him.
I greeted him and said there must be a good reason for him being here.
He greeted me and asked if Rigmor is alright and what had happened.
I told him we had met Tilar and she seemed OK yesterday but has been very withdrawn all day.
A few minutes ago I would have blamed me, but she asked me to guard her so I don’t know what was going on and the confusion was distracting me. I needed to pay attention to Baa’Ren-Dar.
He was surprised we had met and survived an encounter with Tilar. He thought it was all due to me. He hadn’t see Mr. Bear and Rigmor in action that afternoon. We all had an impressive kill tally.
Anger that I had buried after I stuffed things up resurfaced. I told him Tilar was her torturer and architect of her abuse in Haven. I accused him of already knowing but not telling her or me. I wanted to know why and it had better be a good reason because it damaged her.
I did not add it led to my error. That is my guilt to swallow. This part of it is his.
He tried to deflect my question by asking if we found out anything about Sigunn. I persisted he answer my question.
His reason seemed weak and a slight on Rigmor’s determination and courage. He said she needed courage to find her destiny That knowing who Tilar was would have brought fear into the equation.
I was getting angry at this foolish cat. I felt like yelling and pointing out her destiny found her years ago and stuck her in a stinking hell hole for four years. That it was only her courage that got her this far and he had no damn right to question it.
He said he hoped there would be no contact. He is obviously not stupid but he knew who was hunting her. Who did he think was going to find her?
He loves her like a father. Fathers are known to be over protective of their daughters. They make the mistake of underestimating the one they love and that can cause resentment. I hope Rigmor does not get mad at him for doing what he thought was best. This whole thing is a huge guessing game with most of the clues missing.
He said he could see she had been dealt a blow deep in her heart. That the last time she was like this was after the rescue.
Anger boiled over. I demanded an answer, “Like what exactly?”
He walked away. I followed. I wanted to know how to get Rigmor back. How to repair the damage seeing Tilar and then my stupidity has caused. My guilt was bubbling to the surface. I was looking for others I could share it with. Spread the blame for how she is at the moment. What I needed to do is listen. Not judge everybody when I have no moral high ground at all.
He sat on the floor in Rigmor’s tent and I sat in the chair next to her bed.
He told me when he smuggled her out of Valenwood she was gravely ill. He hired the best physicians money could buy and together they nursed her back from the darkness. He said she never spoke a single word for six months and was thought to be mute. Then one day he could not find her and was panicking. His frantic search ended in a library. She had discovered herself again and knew the whole horrific story of what happened to her family.
I knelt next to Rigmor and whispered, “Rigmor, remember the beautiful memories of your childhood you shared with me. Remember them. Use them to drive away the darkness. I am sorry for what I said. Come back to us. Please!”
I did not care if I just made him ask himself what the relationship between Rigmor and I had become. I just wanted her back. We all wanted her back.
He did not say a word. His face remained neutral. He would be a formidable opponent in any negotiation. I wanted to know more of their story so I asked him how he rescued her.
Here he goes. A father with suspicions. Deciding if he should castrate the boy in front of him. I think most fathers are scared their child will meet somebody like they were as a teenager.
He emphasised it is a long story. Was I sure I wanted to hear it?
I can speak diplomacy as well. So I told him Rigmor was very “special” to me. I wanted to know everything. He can make what he wants of the word ‘special”.
Like all good stories it started with a cold dark night. It was also very rainy. He and other khajiit emissaries travelled to Valenwood and were guests of the Thalmor in their Haven embassy. Entertainment was being provided but in reality it was negotiations over several matters, including how to counter skooma smuggling, that were the point of the visit. Apparently Baa’Ren-Dar was a bit of a legend among the emissaries. That I believed whole heartedly.
As the party dragged on the Thalmor got more pissed and, amazingly, more arrogant. When Baa’Ren-Dar and his fellow emissaries got up the leave they were convinced to come and see a spectacle.
My anger was starting to rise again. I knew what this spectacle was. She was asleep next to me.
Like some sideshow or circus they were enticed with the prospect of seeing, “The Daughter of the Beast of Hammerfell!”
I could see this part was uncomfortable for him but he continued the tale.
Being good diplomats they reluctantly agreed and followed these brave Thalmor pieces of shit into the cells.
Then he saw her. A child motionless on the floor of a filthy cramped cage. Her back shredded by their cruel whips. Rivulets of her blood on the floor and they were laughing.
I stared at Baa’Ren-Dar. I could see he was shaking with the same rage I felt. I could tell this recounting was bringing back images he would rather forget. Do khajiit cry? If so he was a master of his diplomatic craft as there were none welling in his eyes. Probably a sign of weakness at the negotiation table. I had streams running down to my cheeks, pooling at my chin and dripping onto my lap.
Baa’Ren-Dar knew she would die if left there any longer. All of this because of how her father inspired troops and how they won many major battles during the Great War. How her father helped the Redguard drive the Thalmor out of Hammerfell. The White Gold Concordat had basically gifted that province to the Thalmor. Rigmor’s father helped take it back before they even had a chance to unwrap their present.
When the Thalmor signed the peace treaty with Hammerfell Rigmor’s father disbanded his men and settled in Bruma. He met, fell in love with and married Sigunn. Their child, Rigmor, was born. They provided her with a wonderful life full of love and adventure.
I know her father also instilled a sense of duty and responsibility which is what really haunts her now. Fulfilling what she thinks were his expectations. Thinking herself a failure for not saving him.
Baa’Ren-Dar recited how her father was arrested for war crimes. He was taken to Alinor, tried, convicted and executed. Rigmor and Sigunn sold into slavery.
I asked him how he got her out of there.
He quickly made arrangements and when everything was in place the guards were distracted. He went in, picked the lock to her cage and wrapped the child in his robe. He picked her up, carried her to a waiting khajiit caravan and it took them to a rendezvous with a boat. That took them to his embassy in Torval.
Baa’Ren-Dar said she took a long time to recover and then expressed how much he loves and cares for her.
I told him with much sincerity, as I knew it to be the absolute truth, that she loved him too.
He said she needs to rest a while. I don’t know if that is going to get her out of her stupor. I don’t really care how important the next part of our plan is, if there is one, she will not move away from this camp until I think she is capable. That is if I am still guardian and can enforce it.
He asked if Sethri had any information on Sigunn. I told him about the slaver’s list and that Sigunn was sent to Diamond Ridge Mine. He thinks he knows where it is but will have to make sure.
Baa’Ren-Dar then told me what they expected Rigmor and I to do next. Negotiate a peace treaty between the Empire and Stormcloaks.
Baa’Ren-Dar went on to explain we are trying to keep the New Order unaware that we know their plan. For that reason extra surveillance on Elisif the Fair will be done without her knowledge and without her being told of the plot.
Neither Ulfric or General Tullius are to contacted by us but we are to work through two of their most trusted men. We are to present them with letters outlining the severity of the problem and urge them to speak to their superiors and get a truce called. All of this is to be done without the Thalmor finding out.
The two men we were to speak to both fought under Rigmor’s father in Hammerfell. That is why Rigmor is vital to the plan and why I was asked to drag the poor woman around the countryside again.
Baa’Ren-Dar stood up and handed me the letters. He told me there were two sets of Imperial armour inside Angi’s hut. Rigmor and I were still outlaws. The armour would be needed to get inside the Imperial camp.
Baa’Ren-Dar marked the locations of the two camps on my map the slowly walked toward Rigmor. I looked into his eyes as he passed me. He went to Rigmor, knelt down and held one of her hands and bowed his head. I quietly left the tent and walked away a bit and just stared at the stars for a while.
Can khajiit cry? Oh yes, absolutely! They can also quietly sob whilst asking for forgiveness. A skill the old khajiit and I share.
Baa’Ren-Dar eventually emerged and walked towards me. He clasped both my arms and looked into my eyes. I was now looking at Baa’Ren-Dar stripped of his emissary role altogether. It was a father I saw and with a voice allowed to speak freely he said the following, “We would both be less without her. Before she is free and safe again we may have to endure more nightmares and trials. Love can be the best armour and aid to help survive such things. It can also weaken and destroy us by itself. Be careful Dragonborn. I have entrusted to you the person most dear to me.”
With that he walked to his horse, mounted and rode away,
I am so bone weary.
I wanted to speak to Lydia and Angi and Sorella and just discuss normal things for a while. Not the nightmare we’re in but I am so bone weary.
Meeko came and sat quietly with me for a while as I sat staring at the puzzle called Rigmor.
Was I wrong last night? Did she run away for another reason? Logic tells me no. Hope says yes. I will no longer guess on the matter. Rigmor will eventually let me know.
Was my anger and were my accusations directed towards The Divine wrong? Not in the slightest!
Will she be OK tomorrow? I have no idea. I have no doubt that right now as she fidgets and murmurs in her sleep she is debating the options. Does she want to face what is to come or retreat from the reality and harshness of what her nightmares say it will be?
As I finish this entry for the day I can hear the occasional laughter coming from Angi and Lydia. Even though Sorella has been told several times to prepare for bed she and her white companion in crime are still playing. I am listening to life. It can be harsh but is always beautiful.
I do not know what time I fell asleep. I do know that Rigmor would have been part of my last conscious thoughts.