Turdas, 16th Sun’s Height, 4E 202

Solitude, Bards College, Dead Man’s Respite: Out of room, Bard test, Poor giant, Deadly but pretty Dovah, Creepy crypt, Broken book, Undead King, Making it up, Court appearance, Well read, Ceremony, New bard.

I was in Solitude to speak to some representatives of the Elder Council. I was looking for some funding to open a second school as Dragons Keep was full. We could not fit any more children in. I wanted to have one specialising in the trades. Blacksmith, hunter, miner, cook etc.  We had limited facilities for those things at Dragons Keep. I could scrape together the money to buy the building I wanted. I just needed guaranteed stipends to keep it running.

Those talks had gone well and I would soon purchase the second school.

Lately I had found myself getting terribly bored. I had found all the Words of Power the Greybeards knew about. I had exhausted the library at the College of Winterhold. I had studied dozens of relics and strange Dwemer inventions. There were plenty of caves and crypts and ruins I could investigate but was reluctant to put myself in danger for an unknown outcome. No matter how powerful I am compared to the average mage or warrior, I was mortal and there have been plenty of times I could easily have died pursuing knowledge and doing The Divine tasks.

I had also been a constant target for Thalmor and Stormcloak assassins. Just riding between villages and holds was dangerous.

So I decided to become a bard. They had a huge library of books with volumes even the College of Winterhold does not have. They have lore masters that I can send crazy with my questions. Travelling bards get to hear rumours and news that never gets mentioned in the news sheets. I could be an incognito bard and travel around fairly unmolested. Even the most desperate bandit will leave a bard alone. I could change my looks occasionally in case somebody sees through the disguise. It would not take much. Grow different bears and moustaches, wear wigs and different styles of clothing.  Many of the children have a desire to be a bard so I could take different ones on short road trips to give them the experience of performing outside the school. Most of the children are quite capable of defending themselves with dagger, swords and bows.

Lydia, Jordis and I had been staying in my house in Solitude, Proudspire Manor, for a few days. It was about 9:30AM and they had gone to the market and other stores. I left the house and went next door to the Bard’s College.

Soon as I set foot outside the heavens opened and I was drenched in seconds.

A rather soggy me entered the College and was greeted by an elderly Altmer,

“The famous, or infamous, depending on an individual’s political bent, Dragonborn. I am Viarmo, headmaster of this College. Can I help you?”

I’m looking to apply to the College.

“Always a pleasure to meet a prospective bard. You should be aware that many apply but we accept very few people. When possible, we ask applicants to perform tasks the college needs completed. Even somebody as famous and prestigious as you is not exempt. In this case, I do have a task befitting an aspiring bard…”

Something dangerous I assume. It is always something dangerous.

“Elisif has forbidden the Burning of King Olaf, a Festival put on by the Bards College. We need to change her mind. To convince her I want to read King Olaf’s Verse. A part of the Poetic Edda, the living history of Skyrim. Unfortunately the verse was lost long ago.”

But now you have information about where it is. Hidden away in some crypt full of nasties waiting to kill me I suppose?

“Yes. According to Giraud, our histories keeper, the portion of the Edda dealing with King Olaf might still exist in Dead Man’s Respite. I need you to retrieve the poem.”

Okay, I will speak to Giraud and see what he knows and probably leave straight away.

(Viarmo marked Dead Man’s Respite on my map. It was not too far from Solitude so even with a late start we should get there and back within a day.)

Giraud was in the room next door and told me,

“He’s sending the Dragonborn after King Olaf’s Verse then? That’s good, we shouldn’t leave it lying around now that I’ve figured out where it is. The Verse was Svaknir’s contribution to the Poetic Edda, the living history of Skyrim. Each bard adds to the Edda in his or her time.”

Agreed! History, whether in verse or not, is important and should be retrieved when its location is discovered.

“The verse criticized the reigning King Olaf. He was so incensed the bard was put to death and all the copies burned. At least, that’s what we thought until I translated some ancient texts a year or so ago. We now believe King Olaf buried the truth with the bard. If I’m right Svaknir and King Olaf’s Verse lie in Dead Men’s Respite, along with the burial chamber of King Olaf himself.”

So I left the College and went looking for my housecarls.

The weather had cleared and they were looking at the stalls in the central market. They liked the sound of the task at hand so we left to find some dusty old book in some dusty old tomb. One of my favourite pastimes!

It was about 12:30PM by the time we collected our horses from the stables.

Our route took us through Dragon Bridge and not far from the town we saw something that makes my blood boil. Stormcloaks with one of their giants!

Giants are generally timid but will defend if attacked. They will attack to defend their cattle or mammoths. To turn them into killing machines the Stormcloaks torture them and warp them so that they can be sicked onto an enemy like a trained war dog.  It is a form of slavery and abhorrent to me.

We had captured these giants in the past but even the best practitioners of Restoration magic could not heal them of their warped psyche.

I jumped off my horse and used the Cyclone Shout on them.

Men, horses with their rider still aboard and holding on for dear life…

…and even the giant flew up in the air and crashed to the ground.

Lydia and I finished off the Stormcloaks who survived their landing.  Jordis attacked the giant and almost cut him in half with a mighty swing of her two handed sword.

It was depressing to see so many people still willing to die for the lies of Ulfric.

We were close to Dead Man’s Respite when a very powerful, and beautiful, Dovah called Nosanran attacked us.

He cast a spell which seemed to drain the health of myself and my housecarls. I hit him with a Dragonrend and he had no choice but to land.

Both Lydia and Jordis were in deep trouble. Jordis had collapsed and was in danger of being ripped apart by Nosanran. Lydia was using the last of her strength to keep him busy but she would not last long.

I leapt between the Dovah and the women and hit him hard enough to ensure I was his new target.

Behind me I could hear Lydia dragging Jordis away and then telling her to drink the healing potion being offered.

Whatever the spell Nosanran had cast was draining me to the point of death. I hit him with another Dragonrend and leapt away.

The newly healed housecarls leapt back into the fray and engaged him while I healed myself.

They were soon in trouble again so I told them to retreat and started hacking into Nosanran as quickly as I could and with as much strength as I could muster. I needed to kill him before his damn spell made me useless again!

It was a close call but finally “The Sword” did enough damage to kill him.  I absorbed his soul and healed us all before we continued on our journey.

We arrived at Dead Man’s Respite at about 3:30PM.

Not far into the place I saw the ghost of a bard. Svaknir was haunting the place.

When we got closer he stopped playing his lute and pointed to a ruby dragon claw.

When I picked up the dragon claw a portcullis opened and Svaknir walked away.

Then we were attacked by fairly powerful Draugr.

The women worked together well. Often Lydia would stagger or stun an opponent with her shield and Jordis would dispatch them with a mighty swing of her sword.

When all Draugr were dispatched we followed where Svaknir had gone. I saw him up ahead. He walked through a solid door. I had to pull a chain to open it so we could follow.

We killed many spiders and Draugr and eventually came to an old well. There was nowhere else to go so we leapt in.

We soon caught up to Svaknir in a room with many Draugr and it took a few minutes to kill them all.

To follow him further we would need to cross a bridge with swinging blades. I have no idea how many had tried it and failed but they were pretty stupid.  Place with lots of blood is bad. Place with no blood is good. Time walk to miss blades and stand in places with no blood. Reach end of bridge with head and limbs attached. DUH!

I pulled a chain to stop the blades and my housecarls followed.

We had many more battles and I could not help but watch and admire the cooperation Lydia and Jordis showed.

We came to a room where Svaknir’s ghost sat waiting for us. Next to him was his desiccated corpse clutching a copy of King Olaf’s Verse.

I picked up and opened the book. Half of it was unreadable.

Svaknir vanished and started to make our way out of the building.

When we came to the top of some stairs we encountered Svaknir’s ghost once again.

He approached some magically bound doors and opened them with a spell.

He walked along a short corridor and through a sealed Dwemer Puzzle Door.

I had forgotten I was carrying a Ruby dragon claw! I looked underneath and saw the combination was wolf, eagle, wolf.

I set the rings to the correct combination and inserted the dragon claw.

The door lowered and we followed a short corridor till we could see Svaknir in the distance.

We entered a very large chamber and were soon surrounded by Draugr.

They proved to be quite a challenge and Svaknir’s ghost was not a bad fighter!

After a lengthy battle we had defeated them all. Svaknir then called for Olaf who rose slowly from his crypt.

Olaf proved no match for “The Sword.”

Svaknir’s ghost played the lute one last time…

…then vanished in a blinding flash.

We made our way out of the building and headed for Solitude. There were no encounters.

We entered the College and I approached Viarmo.

“Ah, you have returned. How goes the task I gave you?”

(I handed him the cop of King Olaf’s Verse.)

It is a bit damaged!

“I have to admit I didn’t think it would actually be there. Now let’s take a look at this… Oh. Oh-no. This won’t do at all. The copy is incomplete; it’s aged to the point that parts are unreadable. And the parts that are readable… well… bardic verse has come a long way since ancient times.”

What does that mean?

“It means I can’t read it to the court. Without the verse I won’t be able to convince Elisif of the importance of The Burning of King Olaf Festival. If she isn’t convinced of the festival’s importance then she won’t reverse her decision to stop the effigy burning. It means that the Burning of King Olaf, which the Bards College has held for time immemorial, won’t be happening.”

Can’t we just male up the missing parts? It is not like anybody alive knows it!

“Make it up? That doesn’t seem appropriate… I suppose I could copy his style based on what you brought me but I have no idea what happened in between these verses.”

Read what is there is and let’s see what we can do.

  • “O, Olaf, our subjugator, the one-eyed betrayer;”
  • “death-dealing demon and dragon-killing King.”
  • “Your legend is lies, lurid and false;”
  • “your cunning capture of Numinex, a con for the ages.”

“King Olaf was Olaf One-Eye? He famously captured the dragon Numinex and took him to Dragonsreach. What do we say really happened?”

Olaf was Numinex. A dragon in human form!

“I find that highly unlikely… but the court will love it. I’m writing it in.”

  • “Olaf grabbed power, by promise and threat;”
  • “From Falkreath to Winterhold, they fell to their knees;”
  • “But Solitude stood strong, Skyrim’s truest protectors.”
  • “Olaf’s vengeance was instant, inspired and wicked.”

“Strange. According to history Solitude attacked Winterhold, but Svaknir seems to be saying Olaf reacted. What do we say happened?”

Olaf sacked it in dragon form!

“Oh that is exciting! I’m sure the court and the Jarl will love it. I’m writing it in now.”

(Viarmo finished writing in the book and excitedly looked up.)

“It has a few final lines but that’s all we needed to add. I need to head to court immediately and present this. You should come.”

So we all headed to the Blue Palace. Jarl Elisif and her court arranged themselves ready for Viarmo’s reading.

  • Elisif: “Ah, Viarmo. I assume you are here to petition for the reinstatement of the Burning of King Olaf Festival.”
  • Viarmo: “I am, Jarl. I wish to present King Olaf’s verse from the Poetic Edda. Recovered this very day from the Bards Tomb.”
  • Elisif: “Ah, you mentioned something that would convince us the festival should take place but I didn’t expect King Olaf’s lost verse. Please proceed.”

(Viarmo cleared his throat and in an expert voice recited the story.)

  • “O, Olaf, our subjugator, the one-eyed betrayer;”
  • “death-dealing demon and dragon-killing King.”
  • “Your legend is lies, lurid and false;”
  • “your cunning capture of Numinex, a con for the ages.”
  • No shouting match between dragon and man, no fire or fury did this battle entail.
  • Olaf was Numinex in human form, on moonless nights he would spread wings and sail.
  • Olaf grabbed power, by promise and threat;
  • From Falkreath to Winterhold, they fell to their knees;
  • But Solitude stood strong, Skyrim’s truest protectors.
  • Olaf’s vengeance was instant, inspired and wicked.
  • Olaf gave orders, Winterhold disguises. An attack on Solitude total destruction to follow.
  • Because Solitude would not soon bend knee, Olaf would hurt them while his status accrued. He sacked Winterhold in dragonform, and bent their minds to blame Solitude.
  • So ends the story of Olaf the liar, a thief and a scoundrel we of Solitude commit to the fire.
  • In Solitude bards train for their service, they also gather each year and burn a King who deserves it.

(Viarmo closed the book and stood straight and proud.)

  • Elisif: “You have proven your point, Viarmo. The festival is truly a celebration of Solitude and a condemnation of false kings.”
  • Viarmo: “I thank you and the college thanks you, Jarl.”
  • Elisif: “Furthermore, I believe that such a fine poem deserves some payment of Patronage. The college will be generously rewarded.”
  • Viarmo: “Thank you yet again. I will make sure our applicant, who was instrumental in… recovering the poem will be well rewarded.”
  • Elisif: “Make sure that he is.”

(The court then started to clear and I turned to talk to Viarmo.)

“Unbelievable! You have done us a great service here. I can’t begin to thank you enough.”

It was my pleasure. Am I a bard now?

Soon, soon. These things must be done properly, you will be inducted as part of the Festival itself. I need you to go speak to Jorn. He was preparing the Effigy of King Olaf. Tell him to finish the preparations, the Festival is back on.”

We returned to the College and found Jorn. He said,

“Ah the bard-to-be. Did Viarmo send you?”

Yes, the festival is to continue as soon as possible.

“Splendid. Everything is ready. Head outside and the festival will begin.”

So we exited the College and founds its courtyard was filling with citizens there to view the ceremony.

We waited near the effigy of King Olaf for Viarmo to appear.

When he arrived the ceremony began.

“Welcome, people of Solitude! We of the Bards College are pleased to be here to celebrate the Burning of King Olaf. The festival would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of our latest applicant.”

(The citizens loudly applauded.)

“With the lighting of the effigy…”

(Viarmo walked to the effigy and used his torch to set it ablaze.)

“He becomes a full-fledged member of the Bards College. Please welcome our newest Bard!”

(More applause. Viarmo walked back so he was next to me.)

“I think they like you.”

So that means I am now a bard?

“Yes. Congratulations, you are now a full-fledged member of the Bards College. Due to your adventurous nature several of the college professors have some things they wish you to do. What’s more, Elisif has declared the Burning of King Olaf should become a weekly event. And finally, there’s the matter of the Patronage that Elisif wanted me to give you.”

Viarmo handed me 2000GP.  I asked the ladies if they wanted to stay and enjoy the festival. They did so I went home to Proudspire Manner by myself.

I sat and wrote this journal entry then retired to bed.

I know not what time I fell asleep.

I do know it was to the sound of merriment, singing and the priceless other sounds of the mortals I fight for against those who wish them harm.

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