Turdas, 18th Heartfire, 4E 201

Whiterun, Riverwood, Kynesgrove, Breezehome: Armour cleaned, Delphine, Kill Dragon, Kill another dragon Thalmor Embassy Plan, Letter from Rigmor.

I was up and eager to get the new task from The Divines underway. I needed a distraction so my mind did not keep circling back to Rigmor. I knew the situation and had accepted it. It was just taking common sense some time to catch up.

As Lydia was making final preparations for the today’s outing I went next door to see if Adrianne had finished with my armour. She had bags under her eyes from spending all night documenting and drawing sketches. Apart from a bit of polish and oil on the metal pieces she said it was in remarkably good condition. She laughed when I said Azura did a good job after I was fatally stabbed three times and shot in the neck with an arrow. I just looked her in the eyes and the laughter stopped to be replaced with an “OH!” and “Excuse me please!” as she scrambled inside to retrieve it. I asked her how much and she said it was free because she learned so much from it. I told her I did not want her going broke but she refused payment. I went into her store and gave 10GP to her husband, Ulfberth. When I showed her the receipt she just stuck her tongue out at me.

Ordinary hard working people like Adrianne and Ulfberth are worth risking my life for. The Divines must envy the simple lives they lead and the love they share.

As I was about to enter Breezehome a courier came running up and handed me a fancy looking sealed letter. Curious, I opened it and was amused. It was an invitation to attend some party at the Skyrim Thalmor Embassy. It was from Elenwen, their highest ranked emissary.

Drinks, food and for your entertainment we have a defenceless fourteen year old girl to be whipped within inches of her life!

I was going to rip it up and then thought I might attend. It would be fun to talk about Ragnar and Rigmor with Elenwen in front of other high ranking guests.

I entered Breezehome, changed into my armour and felt much better. A few assassination attempts makes you feel very vulnerable in normal clothing.

We gathered our horses and made our way to Riverwood, again. Lydia made the trip seem a lot longer by teaching Meeko “The Dragonborn Comes” song.  They had a pretty good two part harmony going after a while.

Along the way we encountered an unusual Stormcloak patrol. It consisted of Two soldiers, a mounted general and a trained giant with a huge axe. I hated the way they turned such gentle creatures into killing machines.

We tied the horses up outside The Sleeping Giant Inn. Meeko went running off with the children and their dog called Stump.

When I entered the barkeep looked up, turned white and yelled, “D..D..Delphine. The Dr..Dragonborn is here.”  She came and escorted me to her secret room.

Delphine was wearing a rather fancy set of leather armour and had a magnificent tai-katana on her back. She was actually happy to see me! Delphine said she was about to set off to try and kill a dragon she thinks will be near Kynesgrove. OK…did I damage her mind last time I was here?

I asked Delphine for the “short” version of her story. Here are the relative points with the history of The Blades as I understand it:

Note: There are many histories that cover the Dragonguard and Blades. This is a summary I made for myself so I do not have to keep thumbing through several boring tomes again.

  • Delphine is a member of the almost extinct group of warriors, bodyguards and spies known as The Blades.
  • The Blades originated from The Akaviri Dragonguard who are thought to have wiped out all dragons on Akavir.
  • Some dragons fled from Akavir to Skyrim. The Dragonguard invaded Tamriel in 1E 2703 in their pursuit of those dragons.
  • Reman I and his combined forces of Tamriel faced The Dragonguard at Pale Pass. When they heard Reman I use the Thu’um the Dragonguard’s leaders knelt before him and proclaimed him Dragonborn. As the ultimate dragon-slayer they revered Dragonborn so swore their services to him.
  • Using the Dragonguard as well as his combined army Reman I conquered and unified most of Tamriel and founded the Second Empire.
  • The Dragonguard continued to hunt and kill dragons throughout Tamriel and almost drove them to extinction.
  • They failed to protect Emperor Reman III who was assassinated by the Morag Tong in 1E 2920
  • That disgrace caused The Dragonguard to be disbanded. Some ex members formed The Fighters Guild. Others, in an effort to preserve Akaviri martial arts and magic, became Dragon Knights.
  • The Akaviri Potentates, the part of The Blades who were supposed to protect the emperor, became a covert force and established spy networks and became expert in covert operations.
  • Some ex Dragonguard continued to hunt the few remaining dragons in Tamriel.
  • The covert Akaviri Potentates retained the title Dragonguard. During the period known as Interregnum, where no true emperor sat the Ruby Throne, they protected it against robber barons and other petty warlords that continually battled for control of Cyrodiil.
  • Some Dragonguard sought out and protected potential Dragonborn including Tiber Septim.
  • When the 3rd era started with Tiber Septim becoming emperor the Dragonguard renamed themselves The Blades.
  • Not only did The Blades become bodyguards to emperors they also continued, expanded and improved their spy and covert operations.
  • The Blades undertook many vital missions including recovering the shattered pieces of the huge Dwemer built golem called Numidium. Tiber Septim had used Numidium in his conquest of Tamriel but it was completely destroyed afterwards.  (I will probably write more on Numidium in a later journal entry. The last task give the “Forgotten Hero” was to prevent its resurrection. That was earlier this year, just before I awakened.)
  • When it seemed their goal of eliminating all dragons in Tamriel was complete The Blades distanced themselves from their Dragonguard past and became devout followers of the Divine Talos. Some became members of the monastic Order of Talos.
  • Once again they failed in their duties when Emperor Uriel Septim VII and all his known heirs were assassinated by the Mythic Dawn which triggered the Oblivion Crises.
  • The Blades had been entrusted with the knowledge of an illegitimate son called Martin Septim. With the help of the “Nameless Champion” they found and safeguarded Martin till he could summon and avatar (aspect) of Akatosh who appeared in dragon form. Akatosh banished the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon from Nirn. This act cost Martin Septim his life but established a new barrier between Nirn and Oblivion, replacing the Eternal Dragon Flames that were extinguished when the last emperor died. 
  • With the end of the Septim dynasty The Blades once again retreated to their temples and kept looking for potential Dragonborn to protect.
  • When Titus Mede I was declared emperor he was not dragonborn so The Blades did not become his bodyguard.
  • The Blades recognised the danger of the Thalmor and Aldmeri Dominion and covertly opposed them for decades.
  • When an Aldmeri ambassador delivered the severed head of every Blades agent in Summerset and Valenwood to Titus Mede II, the Great War began.
  • Nearly all Blades outposts, including Cloud Ruler Temple and its irreplaceable archives, were destroyed by the Thalmor.
  • When the White Gold Concordat was signed to end the war Titus Mede II agreed to the outlawing of Talos worship.
  • The Blades were then disbanded and the Thalmor had free reign to hunt them down and exterminate them.
  • Delphine and a few others are the sole survivors of this ancient order of bodyguards, spies and warriors.
  • The duties formerly undertook by The Blades are now the domain of the Pentius Oculatus. They however are not permitted to work against the Thalmor in any way.

So the hunters became the hunted. I am sure they did not find that as enjoyable.

What did Delphine want with me? Here is what she said in summary:

  • She had received information suggesting the dragons were returning to Skyrim.
  • She also received information suggesting these were dragons previously slain and buried that were being resurrected, not as undead, but as fully healthy and alive Dov.
  • She crossed referenced the map on The Dragonstone I had recovered from Bleak Falls Barrow with known locations of dragon burial mounds and had determined the sequence of resurrection.
  • For some reason there was a delay of several days between each resurrection.
  • She wanted to know if I was Dragonborn so she could swear allegiance, become my bodyguard as in the past.
  • She also wanted my help to kill any dragons she found.
  • The reason she did not stay to fight the dragon at the Western Watch Tower was she needed to do the map cross reference work and thought that was more important than risking her life fighting a single dragon.
  • She was just about to leave and see if her prediction is right and another dragon would be resurrected at Kynesgrove. She was willing to fight one if it emerged.

She was not a coward. I will accept that. She did threaten to kill the very man her oath tells her to protect unto death.

I told her this and she apologised. Her paranoia about Thalmor traps was justified. She had lost several colleagues and friends to their devious plots and manipulations. I also told here I do not need a bodyguard or wanted anybody swearing allegiance to me. She looked at Lydia and then Meeko and smiled. Damn those ribald stories about the Dragonborn, Dicko and his Warmaiden lover.

I gave Delphine the names of the dragon I slew at the watchtower and the one I killed just after meeting Rigmor. The one from the watchtower concerned her. It was not a known dead dragon. I told her I have encountered several dragons and where but did not have their names. The dragon I slew on the day I met Rigmor corresponded to a name on the map and pattern Delphine thought was being followed.

In summary, some dragons are being resurrected. Some dragons are appearing who must have hidden somewhere for centuries. We needed to find out how and why they are being resurrected and gathered. First up we had to see if Delphine’s pattern was accurate.

For those reasons I agreed to accompany Delphine to Kynesgrove. Near to the small village was a burial mound she believed was the next target for resurrection today or tomorrow.

Delphine preferred to run to Kynesgrove as she knew shortcuts that were impassable on horseback. She wanted to stay off the main road since Thalmor patrols had resumed in the days after the New Order were defeated. She assured me she would only be a few minutes slower than us.

Once again she apologised to me and thanked me for the service I did as Guardian General. She then started running at a good pace and I was impressed because of her age and encumbrance.

Lydia just shook her head and asked where they had hidden the real Delphine. I whistled for Meeko, leapt onto Dogmeat and set off for some dragon slaying in Kynesgrove.

The only encounter on the way to Kynesgrove was some Goblins. They were soon despatched.

As we rode in Kynesgrove one of the residents ran towards me. I got off Dogmeat and talked to her. She told us that a dragon was attacking. When I asked where it was she pointed to a path and then ran off towards Windhelm. It seems that after Helgen some people do not trust smaller buildings for protection against dragons.

Lydia and I jumped back on our horses and started trotting up the track. Meanwhile Delphine had arrived and passed us when I was talking to the resident. I was impressed!

We did not get far up the hill before I saw a huge dragon. The exact one I saw at Helgen. It was hovering and speaking in dragon tongue. The horses got nervous so we leapt off them again and proceeded on foot.

Here is what I heard the dragon say before we reached the burial mound. It is my translation so forgive any errors:

  • ALDUIN:                    Sahloknir, ziil gro dovah ulse!
    • (Sahloknir, ever-bound dragon spirit!)
  • ALDUIN:                    Slen tiid vo!
    • (Let your flesh be restored!)

Just as we reached the top we saw Sahloknir start to emerge from his burial mound:

  • SAHLOKNIR:            Alduin, thuri! Boaan tiid vokriiha suleyksejun kruziik?
    • (Alduin, my overlord! Has time come to revive the ancient realm?)
  • ALDUIN:                    Geh, Sahloknir, kaali mir.
    • (Yes, Sahloknir, my trusted ally.)

Alduin then spoke to me. He thought I could not understand Dragon tongue. Maybe I didn’t in Helgen. I do now, I wasn’t going to tell him his mistake though:

  • ALDUIN:                    Ful, losei Dovahkiin? Zu’u koraav nid nol dov do hi.
    • (So, my false Dragonborn? I do not recognize you as dragon.)

I felt like replying that he did in Helgen. Then I remembered Lydia. Let us see what happens before I let her know the bastard that killed Bjorn is hovering above us.

Alduin said to me in Tamrielic, “You do not even know our tongue, do you? Such arrogance to dare take for yourself the name of Dovah!”

He then instructed Sahloknir to kill us:

  • ALDUIN:                    Sahloknir, krii daar joorre.
    • (Sahloknir, kill these mortals.)

Alduin flew away. He was a Thalmor in dragon form. Mouths off, tells his lackeys to kill us then runs away.

“Except for that one time Tilar tricked you!” a little voice in my head reminded me. I hate the little voice in my head.

Sahloknir was outclassed from the start but I made the fight go longer than needed. He was insulting us in Tamrielic. I hoped he might actually tell us something useful before I ended the fight. I got bored and killed him with a sword thrust through his throat.

I stood and absorbed the dragon soul as Delphine watched in awe.

I asked her what is next. She was adamant that the Thalmor were somehow involved. Delphine said she had an idea about our next move but would like to think about it. She asked if we could meet her back in Riverwood. She then started running home.

I walked up to Lydia and said to her, “That black dragon. His name is Alduin. He is the one who killed Bjorn.”

Lydia had a right to know but I was worried how she would react. She looked at me and simply requested in a tone full of menace and hate, “Wulf, promise me that you will kill that thing. Promise me you will avenge Bjorn!”

So rattled was Lydia she used my name and not my title. I replied to her, “I swear by The Divines, if it is possible I will have you by my side to avenge Bjorn. If not I will kill Alduin myself!”

Lydia nodded her approval and quietly got on her horse. It was a quiet ride back to Riverwood.

Nothing notable happened on the way back to Riverwood. Mayhem broke loose when we arrived. A dragon attacked!

All the weeks I was with Rigmor the dragons had been fairly quiet. Now they were bolder and more arrogant.

The citizens of Riverwood were well drilled and ran into the nearest building after the guards yelled the alarm. This dragon could summon skeletons and use the highest level “Unrelenting Force” Shout.

It was tossing guards around and even I was sent flying. Poor Meeko found himself upside down and wedged under a hand cart.

It was a difficult fight and several guards lost their lives. My lightning bolts combined with Lydia’s and guard arrows finally brought it down.

A couple of hits from “The Sword” and it died screaming. I absorbed its soul and went to check the injured. Apart from two dead three others were severely injured. My healing spells stopped them dying and fixed most problems.

I could only imagine the carnage if one or more of these attacked a hold. A crowded area such as Riften’s market would produce untold casualties.

We finally made our way into the inn and I was not surprised to find Delphine there. She had arrived in Riverwood just in time to see the glowy tendril thing that happens when I absorb a dragon soul. When she entered the inn it was full of scared townspeople of all ages. She was reassuring them the fight was over and that the Dragonborn and companions and guards had killed the beast. Meeko’s two little friends and Stump were there and yelled for joy when they saw him. They then started re-enacting the dragon attack for Meeko and showing how brave Stump was. The girl, Dorthe, played the dragon swooping in and roaring and the boy, Frodnar, was on all fours barking at her.

The news that the dragon was dead and the antics of the children were like a switch for the locals. Fear was replaced by laughter. Then they started crowding around Lydia and I and thanking us. Neither of us felt comfortable at this attention so were relieved when somebody opened the inn door and yelled, “You should see the size of the dragon skeleton! I am going to grab some bones for souvenirs!” The place was almost empty in seconds as the previously scared then laughing then grateful townspeople turned into ruthless souvenir hunters. Poor guards might have a riot if not careful!

We walked with Lydia into her secret room and she told us her plan. She said that the Thalmor Embassy was going to hold one of its famous parties. Known for their free flowing booze from all over Tamriel plus lavish food and exotic entertainment they were a highlight of the Skyrim social circles. The dress code was formal and no weapon or staff allowed.  She said she had a Bosmer operative inside the embassy who could smuggle in my armour and weapons. Delphine then said she would get a fake invitation forged which would get me through the front doors. I was to discretely meet the Bosmer who would sneak me into in the back rooms and where I could retrieve my gear. I could then, stealthily, investigate the embassy and look for evidence of a Thalmor connection with the dragons.

I must admit it was a clever plan. It seems that even severely reduced in number, The Blades still had an active network of spies and other experts such as counterfeiters.

I asked about the reliability of the Bosmer and Delphine assured me that atrocities committed against his family made him a firm enemy of the Thalmor.

I told Delphine it was a good plan but I did not need a fake invite as I already had one for the Guardian General.  I agreed to meet with Malborn, the Bosmer, at The Stinking Skeever inn in Solitude. I would give him the equipment I wanted smuggled in. I would then meet Delphine and Lydia at the Solitude stables to get any updated information. I would then take a hired carriage to the embassy. Lydia was to make her way to a place just outside the embassy with Dogmeat so we could head back to Riverwood as quick as possible.

Delphine was going to immediately head for Solitude and tell Malborn the plan. Lydia and I would go to Whiterun and rest before heading out early for Solitude.

Before we left I asked if the dragon I just killed, Hindorghah, was on the map of resurrections. It was not. Another that had hidden for hundreds of years just to die at my blade. Another death Alduin has to pay for.

We had no encounters on the way to Whiterun.

As I was heading for Breezhome a courier came running up with a letter from Bruma. As Lydia prepared a warm meal I sat and opened the envelope with dread and excitement mixed. There were two letters inside. The first was from Baa’Ren-Dar and said,

“Dragonborn, Thank you for taking good care of Rigmor. As promised, please accept the rest of the payment for services rendered. Rigmor arrive safely in Bruma and has written a letter for you. Enjoy your 10,000 gold. Signed Baa’Ren-Dar. I looked inside the envelope and there was a bill of exchange for 10,000GP.”

I checked in my purse and the original bill of exchange for 5000GP was there. I had totally forgot I was being paid to guard Rigmor! I didn’t know how I felt about the money. It made me feel like a mercenary which I never would or could be, I had taken the job because The Pull told me Baa’Ren-Dar was the beginning of The Divine’s task. I decided I would leave it untouched for now. I still had plenty of funds from dead bandits and New Order slime to keep us happily fed for years. Maybe I will find a use for it later.

I unfolded the letter from Rigmor and read it. My heart sank. There was no love in it. Cold and clinical and not what I was hoping. Certainly not a letter from one soulmate to another. It read,

“Hey Dragonborn, I just wanted to say, all those things I said,,,I didn’t mean that. Thank you for looking after me and I’ll try to write you, if that’s OK with you. But I’ll understand if you don’t want me to. Take care of yourself and don’t forget to come by and visit us sometime OK? Goodbye Dragonborn. Rigmor XX.”

I knew this was probably going to be the last correspondence I had from Rigmor till whenever I am supposed to meet her again. That could be years away. The Divines will want to stop me receiving news from her that would test my determination not to cross that damned border. It did not give me any hope or comfort. It reduced what we had felt to nothing. It might as well have been thanking a mercenary for a job well done. It put me into the bleakest of moods.

Lydia noticed the change and asked if there was something wrong. I handed her the letters and she sat and read them. She told me it was no comfort but the reality was Rigmor is now knee deep in the murky world of Cyrodiil politics. Bar’Ren-Dar made it sound like I was purely a mercenary and Rigmor’s letter confirmed that assumption. They could not trust any mail between Cyrodiil and Skyrim was not intercepted. A profession of love by the new Countess of Bruma to a person in Skyrim would and could be used as a weapon in their deadly games of intrigue. She handed me back the letters and served our meal.

My brain knew she was right. My heart was not so sure.

I spent the evening writing this journal entry and reading about Numidium.

I also looked in my library for any information on Alduin and found nothing. I remembered the stone cairn inscriptions on the 7000 steps to High Hrothgar. The fifth one had said,

“Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world. Proving for all that their Voice too was strong. Although their sacrifices were many-fold.”

So Alduin was the leader of the dragons during the Dragon Wars. It did not say the tongues killed him but shouted him out of the world. I could go ask the Greybeards what the hell that means but decided they would just say I was not ready or other such idiocy. I decided to try and find out myself first.

I know not what time I fell asleep.  I know my heart was still troubled and ignored the logic my brain argued with vigor.

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