Tirdas, 9th Heartfire, 4E 201

Outskirts of Markarth, Scourge hiding place, Homested Farm, Boethia’s Shrine, Boethia’s Proving Ground: Lost friend found, Quite a climb, New Enemies,  Scourge, Charity, Long ride home, Boethia.

I am writing this entry close to 11PM on the 10th Heartfire.

Our trip to Markarth was uneventful apart from a couple of Thalmor patrols and one lot of Miraak’s goons. They had one of those weird floating creatures with the arms and tentacles. Lydia had no idea what it was. She turned a nice red colour when I pointed out the giant vagina in the middle of its body.

Just over half way to Markarth I spotted a brown horse with its head down and ears folded travelling towards us. I don’t think a horse could possibly look more dejected or forlorn. As it got closer I recognised the saddle and leapt off my pretty grey mare. I gave a whistle and the horse’s head shot up, its ear pricked up, it looked around, spotted me and came running at a tremendous gallop neighing and whinnying. Meeko starting barking excitedly.  The grey mare gave a few worried tugs on her lead. Poor Lydia was fast asleep in the saddle and woke with a start and a few choice expletives.

I was almost bowled over by Dogmeat’s enthusiastic greeting. After the initial few minutes of carrying on he finally calmed down enough for me to inspect him. He had found enough to graze on so was well fed. There was a set of claw marks on his right rump from an unfriendly Sabre Cat. The wound did not seem very deep and there was no sign of infection. Meeko came up and they had a nose to nose greeting that is their substitute for a good hug.

After inspecting Dogmeat I transferred my saddlebags over and mounted. I think the grey mare realised she was out of a job and tried to bite him. She settled down and Lydia led her by rope the rest of the way to Markarth.

We arrived at Markarth stables just after 3:30AM. I paid the stableboy a bit extra to tell the Stable Master I would be selling the grey mare and can he inspect her and have a price ready when I return. I told him that would probably be midday or a bit later.

I really had no idea when we would be back. A place chosen by a Mehrunes Dagon to hide such a powerful weapon might not be a walk in the park.

After searching the base of the mountain next to Markarth I thought I spotted the way up. There was only one way to tell. I started climbing with Lydia following and cursing her armour every time she had to scramble up a higher obstacle. Meeko proved to be part mountain goat. He would get ahead of us and sit there with his stupid grin watching us pathetic two legs scramble and swear our way up.

After a while I started enjoying the climb. I had no idea if we were on the intended path up or if there was an easier one. It didn’t really matter as I should be able to spot the stream as long as we get to the top. All I had to do then was follow it towards the city looking out for the entrance to the tomb or whatever it is we need to enter to find Scourge.

The final part of the climb was steep but involved less clambering over things. There were several Snow Trolls in our way and a few fireballs took care of them.

We finally got to the top. Not quick enough for Meeko who had gone ahead and was now fast asleep after getting bored watching us. I was told to respectfully stick my sword up my rectum when I asked Lydia if she enjoyed the climb as much as I did. She looked quite pale. I had forgotten her love of heights. Now I remembered there was only one thing I could do to help. I peered over the edge and commented how tiny people looked from up there. Lydia lost her breakfast in a fantastic display of projectile vomiting.

After a couple of minutes I told Lydia we had to keep moving. All the banter and light heartedness was to keep my thoughts away from what might be happening to Rigmor. Every slight delay allowed those thoughts to creep in and they were toxic to me being as focused as I needed. Lydia followed and I had to call Meeko a couple of times as he was busy enjoying Lydia’s second hand breakfast. I thought it best not to mention that to her.

A small walk and we spotted the stream.

After following the stream towards Markarth for a short while I came across what looked like a boarded up sewer entrance. The deliberately placed skeleton and old blood spatters did not serve as a sign to keep out. To me it was confirmation we were on the right track and please enter.

First impressions were surprising. I was expecting Dwemer ruins but it was ancient Nord architecture that greeted us.

We soon encountered the locals. A much tougher version of Draugr. Many of them could use the “Unrelenting Force” Shout. I was partially immune to its effects but it could still knock me off my feet. Lydia and Meeko were not and if caught unprepared could be blasted across a room. It was only equivalent to a two Word Shout and not the full one. Otherwise both could have been smashed against walls with devastating effect. As it was they both adopted tactics to keep on their feet.

Lydia adopted a peep and duck back approach. She would peer around a corner knowing it took Draugr that could shout time to prepare. Once they saw her and started their preparation they had no choice but to complete the Shout. Lydia would duck behind a corner or cover and wait for the Shout to happen then leap out and end their existence.

If Meeko saw a Draugr preparing to Shout he would tilt his body at an angle so his head was low and his arse stuck up in the air. This allowed him maximum grip with his claws. His back legs in this position gave him the maximum strength to push against the Shout if he timed it right. He got quite good at this but still ended up sliding across the floor sometimes. It did prevent him being flung through the air. He thought he was quite clever till we came across some Skeleton Mages that would freeze him in place in that undignified position.

In previous encounters with Draugr Meeko found them distasteful and not fun to chomp on. Meeko took such a dislike to being thrown around by Shouts he eagerly attacked these guys.

The Skeleton Mages were difficult to deal with. There was one type that summoned dozens of tiny spider skeletons that had a dweomer on them similar to single Word “Unrelenting Force”. If they touched you there was a good chance you would at least stagger if not fall over.

Other Skeleton Mages were experts in cold based spells. They would summon Ice Wraith and Ice Atronach, cast Ice Spears and a spell that froze you in place for quite a while.

Skeleton Lich were also not fun. They would summon about half a dozen skeleton minions that would protect them whilst they cast other spells at you.

After several long and challenging battles we finally found Scourge. I was expecting some elaborate weapon covered in runes and made of gold. Instead it looked fairly boring. When I picked it up I could detect no dweomer. Whatever its power it was probably Daedric in origin. It had been protected well and this place had proved my toughest challenge yet.

There seemed to be a back entrance to this part of the complex. We went through hoping it was a shortcut to an exit.

We soon came across some cave trolls and to my surprise a large cave bear helped bring them down. No Rigmor around this time. It must just have decided the trolls were annoying and smelly.

We found the exit and when we emerged it was in the middle of the large Markarth excavation site! I could hear some professor going on about it and the exciting finds they had found so far. Knowing there were New Order operatives amongst the archaeological team we kept as quite as possible. Luckily we had emerged in a culvert carrying a stream through that part of Markarth. It hid us from view and allowed us to remain undetected whilst we made our escape.

This was my first experience of Markarth and it was fascinating. Normally I would have dawdled and had a look around. The urgency to rescue Rigmor was such I rushed through it till we exited the hold and found ourselves at the stables.

It was just after 10AM and raining and overcast. All the climbing and fighting did not take as long as I thought it would.

Lydia was smiling and in great spirits. She was not looking forward to climbing down. Now she did not have to.

As I approached the Stable Master I heard him talking to his wife. She had hold of one grubby toddler with one hand whilst balancing a baby in the crook of the other. Her husband was telling her he would find the rental money and not to worry. His wife just nodded and walked away. He looked like a defeated man just waiting for the killing blow. He eventually noticed me and turned into the consummate salesman in a flash.  I said I was here to discuss the grey mare. He immediately offered me more for the Grey Mare than I had paid for her. He was adamant that was a fair offer and would not budge so don’t even bother trying to negotiate. When I said he can have her for free he immediately went into his barter mode and said I was a crook and he had a family to feed but because he liked me and it was a nice horse he could only offer this amount and no more. He then named a price even more than what I had paid for her so I slowly spoke my price again. I then reiterated by saying each letter individually. Reality finally dawned and he asked again what my price was. When I repeated it he asked why. I said he had a family to feed and left it at that.

I signed her over and went and gave her a goodbye pat. She was sleeker, fitter looking, a beautiful colour and overall of far better breeding than Dogmeat. I looked over at my dirty brown nag and knew there was no competition and I had chosen well.

The usual Falmor encounters on the way back to the farm but nothing else delayed us. We finally arrived there at about 8PM.

I told Lydia and Meeko of my plan to talk to Boethia and find where Rigmor is. Then go straight to wherever I have to go to rescue her. I would not take them as the danger will be extreme and it is my duty to take this risk. Lydia just looked me in the eyes and told me she knows it is far more than duty that drives me where Rigmor was concerned. She said the way I looked at Rigmor reminded her so much of Bjorn. I choked up as I told her I had left Breezehome to her and Meeko in a will left with the Jarl’s Steward in Whiterun. I quickly walked into the farmhouse to stop any blubbering that might have occurred.

I went inside and told Sigunn and Sorella I was off again. This time to find where Rigmor is and go straight there. That the next time they see me Rigmor would be safe. Sigunn hugged me and said she had prayed to The divines for help. I told her they had already sent it. Sorella piped up and told Sigunn I was the real true Dragonborn sent by The Divines to help people like Rigmor. For an eight year old child of bandits Sorella seemed to not be short of education or smarts. I remembered the kids in Riverwood singing a song about a Dragonborn. Maybe children listen to lyrics and understand them more than adults. I think Sigunn now realised that I was a Dragonborn of legend and that was not just a nickname. I hope it gave her more hope of seeing her daughter again.

Sorella ran up and asked me to bend over. She then gave me two kisses, one on each cheek. She explained one was for me to keep for good luck. The other was to be passed onto Rigmor so she knows Sorella loves her. I thanked her, reminded her to keep the ring on at all times and left to find Boethia’ shrine.

I rode Blaze as I had no idea where I was going next and I did not want to risk leaving poor Dogmeat alone again.

The shrine was not far from the farm and I was there in less than an hour.

I approached the shrine and Boethia spoke. As with Azura I will write verbose what was said.

“Come forward mortal, do you have the mace?”

(I was expecting it to be like my conversation with Azura. With the Divine it was unpleasant as it felt like she was massaging my brain with mystical fingers penetrating my skull. With Boethia is was as if she had taken the top off my skull, poured in hundreds of writhing maggots and then closed it up again. It felt like they were eating away trying to find all my secrets and devour them. I instinctively barred entry to those parts that were me. My identity, loves, wishes, hates.)

Yes, it’s here. (I then placed it on a pedestal)

“So you are Azura’s little toy? What does she know of the Restoration?”

 An Entity want’s to pass into the realm of mortals. That’s all I know.

(Boethia laughed. It was far removed from a mortal’s expression of humour. It was full of malice and cruelty and hatred.)

“Hahahaha! You have served me well mortal, but are you worthy of my gratitude?”

I have done what you asked of me, where have they taken Rigmor?

“Do you love this girl?”

My love for her is unconditional!

“Then if your love is unconditional, you must be prepared to go to any length to save her?”

(I was falling into this cruel creature’s trap. She wanted to play games with a mortal. I got the sense she was also keen to let this “Champion of The Divines” know she had power as well.)

She is in grave danger. You must tell me where she is.

“But I have the mace! Why should it concern me if she lives or dies?”

“Her sacrifice would suit me well for I can do battle with The Entity and devour it.”

(I remembered then that Daedra not only work alone. They will kill each other and any other immortal so they can devour them and absorb their power. They do not physically chomp down on the fallen. It is similar to how I absorb the knowledge of a fallen dragon.)

“It would cause me great pleasure! The girl is worth more to me dead than alive.”

I have brought you the mace. Please show mercy. I implore you!

“Hahaha! Any fool or thief could have stolen the mace. My mercy comes at a price mortal. You must prove your worth as a warrior before me.”

“Defeat my champions and I will give you what you need.”

You are a cruel and heartless Mistress!

“Hahaha! I never said I wasn’t but are you worthy of my mercy?”

“Is your love for Rigmor enough to fight my champions in the arena? Decide mortal. What is it to be?”

(I knew I could defeat virtually any mortal she could put in front of me. But I did not want to commit to the risk if it was another trick. For all I knew she was evaluating the Divines’ champion against her own just to further her knowledge.)

How do I know this isn’t just another cruel joke?

“I give you my word.”

(With every fibre of my being I knew this was a sacred deal. That her word actually meant something.)

Then I have no choice but to accept your challenge.

“This I have to see.”

A flash and I found myself in some plane of existence created by Boethia for her amusement.

It was like being in a giant dome with molten rock for walls. Unsurprisingly there was a large monument to her. Unsurprisingly it was in the middle. The furthest reaches of the combat platform was molten rock. No escaping the fight unless you preferred roasting.

As I was admiring the view my first opponent came screaming towards me. He was an excellent two handed swordsman but no real challenge.

As he dropped an elf appeared right in front of me swinging a mean looking sword in an attempt to remove my head from my body.

She was cheating. She made him appear so close I had no time to prepare.

I just managed to duck his swing and then thrust “The Sword” through his chest and out his back.

A board and sword type charged me screaming some battle cry that turned into gurgling as I slit his throat before he even got a swing in.

A Khajiit appeared in the distance.

I studied him as he approached. I could tell he was going to be the toughest yet. He had a mace and shield. The way he held his mace and the balance in his steps told me instinctively he was a master of his weapon. Combine that mastery with the agility and reflexes of a Khajitt and you have a very efficient killing machine.

The way he had been sent as an individual suggested he was one of Boethia’s favourites. Maybe even the best she had. If she wanted to compare with what The Divines have I would give her a show to make her wet her immortal panties.

He was fast but not fast enough. I blocked his initial swing and hit his shield with mine which put him off balance.

I then did a wild swing which I knew he would duck.

What he did not expect was my instant back swing that sliced open his throat and sent him flying across the arena.

A mage appeared and died due to their typical stupidity. They hit you with their best spells and expect when the smoke clears there will be a dead opponent. What they never consider is you having armour with dweomer that protects against most of the damage their spell does. So lightning might not tickle and fire might singe but that is not enough to stop a huge angry Nord with a magic sword.

He fired his best, I grunted with pain and then buried my sword from his shoulder blade all the way down to his privates.

Cheating again. As I removed my bloody sword form the mage a Redguard appeared right in front of me with a crossbow. I thought this was going to hurt when both he and I realised he had not cocked it. DUH!

He jumped back desperately trying to cock the crossbow and I swung. Instead of killing the Redguard I sliced open some idiotic Argonian mage who had stepped between us. Now I know why there are so few Argonian mages. As he fell I noticed an arrow sticking out of him. I wondered where that came from.

The Redguard realised he would not have time, dropped his crossbow and drew a shortsword. At the back was an elf pointing a bow at me. I used “Unrelenting Force” and blew them both across the arena. As they were trying to recover I simply walked up and killed them.

It went quiet. I waited and there were no more opponents. I looked back on the carnage and thought that must have amused the bitch. Loyal fighters dying for her in a fight they stood no chance of winning.

Then I felt and heard footsteps approaching and turned.

Here she comes. She would not think of appearing the same size as a mortal. She chose a size to match her ego. I had to admire the armour though.

I braced myself for more maggots in the brain.

“I can sense her heartbeat mortal. I can sense her love for you. How cruel a joke it is then that your love is untrue. It is a false love”

“Do you not have the same feelings for her as she for you?”

(I thought she was going to mock my love. Use it as a weapon to thrust into my heart when she denies me the knowledge I need to rescue Rigmor. I tried to play the part of a concerned guardian. She was not fooled.)

I’m her guardian. I cannot let feelings cloud my judgement. Now where is Rigmor?

(That damned laugh!)

“Hahaha! Your judgement is why she is now near death. You failed her! You abandoned her when she needed you most! Isn’t this true mortal?”

(I had failed her. I fell right into their trap. I was not going to admit that to this bitch and I certainly did not abandon Rigmor. I was dead!)

No! It’s not true. I would never abandon her. I was tricked by The Entity.

“Hahaha! The Entity. There is no Entity mortal. It is Malacath!”

(The only immortal filth that even approaches this bitches level of ego and maleficence.  More slime intruding on the life of my beloved. Just another obstacle that can’t stand in the way of our mortal love. The Daedra have no defence against it. Just a fascination for something they can’t experience or understand.)

“Malacath the spurned fool. Malacath who wishes to be transformed into a God King reborn as Trinimac.”

“Admit it mortal. You love this girl. You want this girl. Would you sacrifice yourself on the altar of Trinimac for her love?”

“Or would you quench her last dying tears with your kiss?”

(Mocking, mocking, mocking. You will never know love. Never understand love. I am not going to let you use love as a weapon!)

I am her Guardian. I am sworn to protect her!

“If she gave everything she had to prove her love for you, would you now spurn her?

“As she lies on the dais, her bosom heaving as the daggers plunge, would you swap her fate?”

(Those damn maggots. She has beaten down my defence. I can now visualize what she is describing. Rigmor surrounded by priests. Daggers plunging in and out of her chest. A gasp and her eyes open. She is looking straight into my eyes.)

STOP!

“If her last dying wish was for one last embrace and one last kiss. Her last words were that she loved and forgave you, would you say you loved her back?”

(She tries to hold her arms out but is too weak. I lean in and place her arms around my neck and put mine gently under her. It is a mockery of the embrace we should have had that day at the lookout. Then I kiss her gently on those lips like I have wanted to do forever. She is struggling for breath. I can feel her fading from me. Her soul detaching from mine. Then she whispers and I struggle to hear her fading voice. She forgives me and tells me those three words “I love you!” and sits on the edge of oblivion waiting for my answer..)

“Answer me mortal. Do you love this girl”

PLEASE STOP!

“ANSWER ME MORTAL!”

(I look into her beautiful brown eyes that now have difficulty focusing on mine. I shout those three words. I shout them loud enough so Rigmor and every other being that has ever been and ever will be will know with absolute certainty. I shout them so that the immortals who play with our lives know it and are envious of it. I shout them so her soul can return and make us whole again. I LOVE YOU! Suddenly those maggots retreat. Boethia stands silent as she absorbs the truth that my very soul confessed to her.)

My love is unconditional!

“Would you take her place at the sacrificial altar!?”

YES! I would die for her! I would take her place so that she may live!

“Then your love is true and you are a worthy champion. My word is also true. You will know where she is.”

Boethia turned and started to walk away. She stopped with her back to me and said in a voice almost as gentle as Azura’s,

“There are many acolytes mortal. She is floating on her tears in a sea of writhing darkness. Ready to awaken at the moment her bosom bursts at the point of ten blades. Goblets ready so they might drink away her life force at the whim of a usurper. To get to the dais you will need help. You cannot do it alone. Once she is saved from the black pit of the abyss you must go into Oblivion and strike the Sigil Stone with Azura’s Bane. Only then will Tamriel be saved. Destroy the gate or all else would have been for nothing! Go and save your beloved mortal. She is now asleep on the dais awaiting her fate. A fate only you can decide.”

She then started walking away again and I found myself facing Jonte.

I asked him where she is. He said they took her to an island stronghold off the Northern Coast. He said it was heavily guarded and that I will need some friends who might help.

I knew Casius and Yngol would come simply because she is the daughter of Ragnar. They might not love Rigmor yet but they loved her father. I would not ask Lydia. She still follows me because of duty and that is not an acceptable reason to get killed.

I told Jonte I would gather a few friends and agreed to meet him at the docks in Dawnstar as soon as as possible.

It was almost midnight.

I summoned Blaze and rode as fast as I could.

I hoped it was faster than ten knives could penetrate Rigmor’s breast.

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