Travellers rest stop near gate to Cyrodiil border, Helgen , Whiterun plains, Breezehome: Faithful companions, Helgen bandits, Wolves, Battlefield, Home.
I awoke at first light and immediately felt “The Pull”. A quick couple of readings and I was sure it was Riverwood again. I would soon find out because after a quick breakfast and a feed for Dogmeat I was heading home.
The Pull was not strong. I guessed tomorrow is when The Divines need me there. It is probably Delphine like I thought all those weeks ago. I hope she hasn’t forgot her lesson.
As I was saddling Dogmeat I heard a horse galloping and the unmistakable bark of Meeko. Lydia rode up.
A few seconds later Meeko come bounding up to greet me.
After a good face licking from Meeko I finally got to ask Lydia what she was doing here.
She stood with her hands on her hips and looked at me as if I was daft. She said, “My duty my Thane. You were supposed to be home yesterday. After you told me about the several assassination attempts I have decided not to leave your side. I only let you come alone with Rigmor, well, awkward goodbyes and all that.”
She stared at me as I battled the emotions inside. I think it will take a while not to have the immediate feeling of needing to guard Rigmor. Probably longer before her name does not impact me.
Lydia told me to sit as she could see I was still struggling.
I sat on the stump for once, Lydia on the chair. Rigmor has far less padding than me, how could she find these things comfortable?
Lydia said, “I don’t want to ask how you convinced her to leave you. I will tell you this. When Rigmor wanted to go to the Stormcloak camp and rally the veterans she still looked pale and not well at all. So I asked her if that was a good idea and she told me in some colourful terms I was not her Guardian. I told her she had agreed with you to obey what I said. It went downhill from there and we invented not very ladylike names for each other. Meeko went and hid in the shed as this name calling got louder and louder. Suddenly Rigmor stopped and started to cry and apologising. It was such a reversal I was sure she must be ill. Through her blubbering I realised she was sorry for me losing Bjorn and how inconsiderate she was and so on. This woman whom I had hardly spoken too was so full of compassion. Angi and Siguun had told me some of her story. What she went through at the hands of those monsters. Yet she was not the bitter woman that others might have turned into. I told her it was me who should have been more considerate of her situation. Sorry for all the horror she went through when young and then to get dragged back into the nightmare.
We had a good cry together and a friendship was born.
Now that we were calm and not yelling Rigmor explained the importance of herself and the Sons of Talos being at the battle. How a little girl of prophecy told her she needed to be there.
Rigmor asked if I would help her don her new armour so we both went into the farmhouse for the last time. I could not help but gasp when I saw those scars my Thane. It is a pity you had to end his life so swiftly. I would liked to have had a swing or two and removed some flesh from his back.
Rigmor turned and saw the tears in my eyes. She told me she is no longer ashamed of them and does not think about them except at night when she tries to sleep. How you were so gentle and did not treat them with repulsion when making love.”
I must have had a shocked look on my face.
Lydia laughed at my discomfort and informed me, “A favourite topic amongst women is the love of their life or the arsehole their stuck with. They like to let others know what a wonderful man they have or the evil monster that needs castrating. On the ride to the Stormcloak camp we swapped stories of Bjorn and “Her Dragonborn.” The love she has for you is like something you read in romantic stories. She hadn’t been able to talk to anybody else about her feelings and I was more than happy to lend an ear. She even went into, ahem, vivid details of your night in the tent.”
My face felt like it would melt the nearby snow.
Lydia chuckled and continued, “Surely you know that women swap intimate details. Do not men boast of their conquests? With women it is more of an education. Sort of, “He did what? How?” type of thing. If it sounds interesting you can instruct your partner on this new technique. I must say Sir, she described many peaks. Any woman would fall in love with a man who can do that!”
My face was now in danger of melting snow on the mountains many leagues away.
Lydia was having fun but then got very serious and said, “Her love for you is very deep. It is obvious to me and anybody who watches that you two are soul mates. You share a love that lasts for eternity and is written about in flowery words and sung in bard songs that bring tears to the eyes. She will forgive the harshness of your parting. She will wait. I have known such a love and can recognise it. You are blessed my Thane!”
I thanked her and then apologised about moping over a love that is just far away while her Bjorn…
She stopped me and said, “Never think your suffering should be any less than someone else’s. Imagine there is a man drowning. He cries for help and can’t last much longer. Somebody on the shore yells to him to be quiet as there are others worse off than him and points to a man burning to death. From the healthy man on the shore one might seem worse than the other. To both dying men there is no room for comparison. Their own misery is all consuming. Understand?”
I nodded my head and thanked her again.
Lydia continued with her story and I was more than happy to listen to any tale involving Rigmor.
She said, “After we had her dressed in that beautiful armour she picked up her equally beautiful sword and told me she had better go outside and get used to it.
Once outside she tested the heft of the sword and asked me to help adjust the scabbard. I then stood back and watched in awe.
She drew the sword and performed dozens of forms in mere seconds. She had a smile on her face. She enjoyed the sword and the beauty of her deadly dance. I have seen literally hundreds of swordsmen and some of Skyrim’s best instructors and none have come close to her.
When she had finished she was not even slightly winded. Then she leapt on her horse and sat straight and was a queen warrior from legend come to life before to my eyes.”
I told Lydia that her forms are impressive but the way she flows in combat is almost hypnotising. How she changed from an almost berserker attitude to incorporating more defence in her swordplay. How it was a sign that she was accepting my care and worry as genuine.
Lydia chuckled and said, “Oh, I saw her in combat before the battle my Thane. We came across some of those strange Miraak priests or whatever they are in the middle of a really interesting conversation. Rigmor stopped mid-sentence, leapt off Ren and started to carve them up. The last of them dropped to his/her knees and just stared up at Rigmor as she yelled, “There is only one Dragonborn… my Dragonborn!” The priest was virtually carved in two from the skull downwards. Rigmor cleaned her sword and leapt back on Ren and continued our talk where she had left off. Something about how you used your tongue to…”
I yelled, “LYDIA!” then told her, “If you two are typical women then I think Dibella has done a fine job. Probably with the help of Mara! If men knew how their performance was measured and discussed they may choose to be celibate!”
I know Lydia was playing with my emotions to make me feel something other than fear for Rigmor and the still intense feeling of shame I had. She didn’t have to do it with such glee at my discomfort!
Lydia continued, “When we reached the Stormcloak encampment the veterans quickly surrounded her. There were dozens looking up at her astride Ren but not a murmur could be heard. Rigmor said, “They have come Sons of Talos. Let us join my Dragonborn and show these invaders why their generals and leaders quake in their boots. Why they have nightmares when remembering my father Ragnar and his men. If there are survivors let them run home and tell of their own terror at the hands of the Sons of Talos and Rigmor, proud daughter of Ragnar!” There was a deafening chant of “Rigmor! Rigmor! Rigmor!” and she started riding towards Whiterun knowing her men would soon follow. I was astounded how disciplined they were and how quickly they broke camp. Then I remembered that long before they wore the colours of the Stormcloaks, they were proud Imperial soldiers then Ragnar’s soldiers as he fought for Hammerfell alongside the Redguards.”
I could see Lydia was genuinely touched by what she had witnessed. Those men were legends talked about during her training come to life before her. Led by the daughter of another legend.
She continued, “Rigmor was fairly quiet from the camp to the battle. I looked across and saw tears in her eyes and rode up beside her. Rigmor looked at me and said, “Some of these men will die today. How did my father cope? How will my Dragonborn cope? How will I cope?” I told her that soldiers accept this fact. They trust their deaths will not be in vain. That they will not be asked to fight and die for an unworthy cause. Meet both and no guilt need occur and sorrow must be hidden until the fighting is over. Rigmor stared at me and said, “My father told me the same. You remind me of him. Except for the beard!” and she giggled and her mood lightened a bit and I was glad.”
I am constantly amazed by the depth of the woman before me!
Lydia confessed, “I could not believe how close I felt to this women who was basically a stranger to me only hours before. I remember the young soldier crying over the veteran at the foot of the tower. You were right to tell him there are no rules on how long you need to know somebody for you to love them as friend or soulmate. Rigmor and I bonded not just as soldiers but true friends. I hope she has some young women she can talk to in Cyrodiil. I can imagine a life as a high ranking noble can be lonely.”
We were both watching the flames and I wanted to lighten the mood before we started the ride home. I remembered the lucky coin Talos had given me and had a good close look at Empress Kintyra. I absolutely see Rigmor’s features in the deceased Empress’ face. I handed the coin to Lydia and asked her to tell me who Kintyra looks like. She looked at the coin and then me and asked if she was a relation. Lydia could see my likeness, not Rigmor’s, in the face of Empress Kintyra.
I don’t know if the coin is lucky or not. I think Talos was trying to tell me something without Akatosh knowing.
We soon had everything ready and I mounted Dogmeat. I turned to face the gate to Cyrodiil and used the full force of the Thu’um to yell, I LOVE YOU TOO!” Better late than never!
We started on the trip back to Whiterun and my house that I have not entered in weeks. Lydia described in great detail her battle with the cobwebs and dust when she got there. It sounded more dire than the recent Battle for Whiterun!
As we approached Helgen I could see bandits crawling all over it like ants. Lydia was incensed that Bjorn’s tomb was desecrated by such lowlife. She charged into Helgen and started cutting them down with a ferocity that transferred her anger into death and dismemberment. I joined her and when we were done we rode through the other gate towards Riverwood without saying a word.
As we approached the town “The Pull” decreased. I knew it was not today that mattered. Tomorrow I had to be in Riverwood. As I rode along the main street I paused and looked at the pole Baa’Ren-Dar was leaning on when he observed how I dealt with the three thugs. It was a great comfort knowing he was with Rigmor. I hope she was not crying into his shoulder over me. Then I chuckled. She is more likely destroying very expensive plates and other items whilst she questions my parentage, manhood and intelligence.
As we passed The Sleeping Giant in I looked at it and The Pull decreased. Definitely there then!
Just outside of Riften we come across a pack of wolves. To their amazement I just casually rode Dogmeat in amongst them. Then they attacked! Sorella’s magic no longer worked for me. I was now officially back on their menu. It did not take long to despatch them. Dogmeat even took one out with a mighty foreleg punch. I think he had been watching Ren!
Just past the brewery I had a flashback of how Rigmor was amazed at the size of Whiterun. Surely the Imperial City was larger. Perhaps she did not visit it before attacking the Bruma Embassy and had forgotten over the years of exile. I felt comfort knowing Rigmor could go with Sigunn and visit those places that meant so much in her darkest of hours.
We stabled the horses and I noticed the Khajiit caravan was there. I walked up to Ri’Sadd, the caravan owner and asked how trade was. He told me it was miserable with all the patrols of both sides even more suspicious of Khajiit than ever. He told me nobody would give them refuge. That they hid in a nearby cave for days till all was clear. He had a young make Khajiit withhim. When I asked he told me he was an orphan. That his parents both died defending Markarth. I shook my head in disbelief. These people even fought for the people who refused them refuge. He thanked the Guardian General for restoring sanity. I shook his hand and told him my friends call me Wulf. There is something charming about a Khajiit smile.
I walked through the Khajiit camp and stopped where the command post had been. Apart from the signs of many boot prints it was as it was before the battle. I moved out into the battlefield and the only signs of the slaughter were patches of ground coloured by blood. Some broken arrows and bits of armour scattered around. The wind blew and I imagined I heard the lament of the dead. I did not look where the tent used to be. I did not want to taint the memory of that night. I turned and solemnly made my way back to Lydia and Meeko. Both had refuse the invitation to join me on the killing fields. Perhaps they were wiser than me.
I was greeted at the front gate by two guards who gave a crisp salute and said, “Guardian General!” I told them I am no longer that. That I was just their Thane and if they would please pass that around the barracks I would appreciate it. They dropped the salute and in unison said, “Yes Thane.”
When we entered Breezhome I immediately felt the comfort only your home can produce.
I forgot that entering the front door suddenly puts me under the command of my housecarl. She announced she was going to draw a very hot bath and I was to soak until my skin could be seen again and I smelt better than a soldier’s cod piece armour. I did not bother asking about that. She had lived in barracks for years.
Meeko found somewhere to hide at the mention of bath. He was safe for now. Lydia had obviously tackled him along with the dust and cobwebs.
I was amazed at the colour of the water when I finally finished scrubbing and soaking.
For the first time since I picked up the armour from the chapel I did not don it. I put on some fairly expensive clothes that I had purchased not long after buying Breezehome but had never worn. They were tailor made to fit. Now they were too tight on the shoulders and too big at the waste.
I took my armour next door to Adrianne and asked if she could check it over and fix what was needed. Price was no obstacle. She took the armour off me with reverence and called for her apprentice to bring over parchment and quill. Like the time I danded the ancient coins over to the priest she was transfixed with the armour. She was making sketches of the stitching, the joints on the knee and other details. I left her to it. I don’t think she even noticed I was gone!
Once back in Breezehome I hung up my Guardian General armour. In the display case next to it I placed The Axe Of Whiterun presented to me by Jarl Bulgruuf when I became Thane.
On a nearby weapon rack I placed the bow Angi gave me, Anura’s Bane, Goldbrand, The bow Baa’Ran-Dar gave me and the replica of Rigmor’s father’s sword. I did not think she would want me to give it to her considering who made it.
I sat by the fire and wrote the journal entries for the battle, the travel to the tower and then my goodbye to Rigmor.
It was easy from this side of the brink to understand how close I was to permanently turning into a gibbering idiot. Despite my best efforts the hurt was there and I retired to my room. I closed my door and wept till I fell asleep. My first sleep in a real bed for over 25 days!
I woke just on dusk and made my way to Breezehome’s observation turret. I watched the fairly quiet streets of Whiterun and it struck me that every person I meet from now on will owe their lives to me. That many will know of the Battle for Whiterun but very few would know of the threat that Malacath presented.
Many such threats would be kept quiet. I do not know how often they occur. I assume they are regular enough that many citizens of Nirn would live in constant fear if their existence was known. Better to be the unknown or even forgotten hero than subject people to such uncertainty and stress.
I left the turret and sat down for a proper meal with Lydia. I even enjoyed her cabbage apple stew! We had a good talk about her time with Angi and Sigunn. I asked about Yngol and Angi and she smiled. He was a big brute but quite romantic. He basically swept Angi off her feet. I was glad Angi found some peace with what happened to her at the hands of those animals. As I promised Angi, I will never speak of what I knew to anybody else.
It was getting late. I told Lydia how proud I was of her and how I could not have accomplished what I did without her in the background acting as guard and friend to those precious to Rigmor. I told her we would be travelling to Ringwood before lunch then retired to my room.
I knelt in front my Talos shrine and prayed to The Divines to keep Rigmor safe. I also asked Azura to keep an eye on whom she had claimed to be her daughter.
I climbed into my bed.
I knew this relative peace was an Illusion. I had no doubt tomorrow would be one of many days where it is broken by my duty.
I started to imagine Rigmor is some finery having to be diplomatic to a pompous twit whilst discussing a totally boring trade agreement or similar. I hope her advisors are quick otherwise she might end up swearing like a sailor or just thumping the twit.
I do not know what time I fell asleep. I do know it was the most restful I have had in a long long time.