The Winking Skeever, The Blue Palace, The Hall of the Dead, The Temple of the Divines: New look, Barding, She’s back, Missing shrine, Boring catacombs, Gone for good, Shrine replaced.
Last night I was trying out a new disguise in The Winking Skeever in Solitude. It is often frequented by students and teachers from the Bard’s College. If I could fool them then the disguise would be good enough to use for a few months.
I have been living away from my houses and Dragons Keep since I finished four days of “Cleansing”. Of course I did not get anywhere near wiping out the Stormcloak menace but that was not the point of the exercise. I wanted them to fear me. To know what awaited them if they cross my path.
Travelling as a Bard has been a revelation. Of all the armour I have ever worn, a simple lute on the back has been the best! Nothing, apart from wild animals, tries to kill me. I even had a group of bandits rush to my aid when a pack of wolves attacked! I did not kill the bandits. I accepted their hospitality and sat down for a meal and sung them some songs. The position of Bard requires neutrality when engaged in its activities otherwise they would not be able to travel unmolested. I had no right to break that almost sacred covenant.
I did report their position to the guards in the next town though. I also have a responsibility to protect innocent citizens.
As I played several tunes at the Winking Skeever I had Viarmo and Inge Six Fingers in the audience. Even after talking to me they had no idea I was the person they know as Wulf.
After finishing my set I headed towards the innkeeper, Corpulus, to receive my pay and get shown to my room. That was the standard agreement in all inns in Skyrim.
Lydia intercepted me. My housecarls always knew where I was going to be performing and they took turns shadowing me in case I get given a task by the Divine or other issues arise. Lydia and Kharjo would be staying in my Solitude house for the few days I was scheduled to perform at the Winking Skeever.
She shook my hand and told me how well she enjoyed my playing. I thanked her and continued onto Corpulus.
Once in my room I opened the note Lydia had placed in my hand. Jarl Elisif’s steward, Falk Firebeard, needed to speak to me urgently about Wolfskull Cave. A special knock on the door let me know Lydia was waiting for instructions. I opened it and told her to bring Kharjo and meet me outside the Blue Palace at nine in the morning.
This morning I donned my normal armour and cast invisibility to leave the inn unnoticed. I hid around a corner, ended the spell and walked towards the palace.
Lydia and Kharjo joined me and we entered.
I approached Falk and he said,
“Welcome Dragonborn. I am so relieved to see you.”
You sent me a message about Wolfskull Cave?
“Yes old friend. I’m afraid it’s not good news. When you broke up the binding you told me Potema escaped. We’ve encountered some of her minions.”
I assume she is still in spirit form but is trying to change that.
“Styrr. The priest of Arkay in the Hall of the Dead, says we are lucky she is still in spirit form or we’d all be dead! Can you please go and see him, he may know what we need to do next.”
Of course I will speak to Styrr. I knew my Divine task had not been completed in that cave. Hopefully we’ll figure something out.
“I wish you well. Be careful”
So we headed to the Hall of the Dead
When we entered I was greeted by an elderly priest,
“You must be the one Falk spoke so highly of. I am Styrr, priest of Arkay. Welcome.”
Well met Styrr. I am Wulf, Dragonborn, and these are my friends Lydia and Kharjo. Falk asked me to talk to you about Potema.
“Ah Potema, Former Queen of Solitude and one of the most dangerous necromancers in recorded history. She was responsible for the Empire’s near collapse almost 500 years ago.”
Now her spirit is trying to be raised?
“Yes, she was summoned in spirit form but not yet raised from the dead. She’ll need help before she can return to the living. For the moment the Wolf Queen has retreated to a place filled with dead eager to serve her. She has gone to her old Catacombs.”
How do you know she is there?
“A few days ago, one of her servants busted through a wall into the Temple of Divines.”
So you need us to enter the Catacombs and confront her and her cronies. We will do that.
“Good. Being at the summoning most likely created a connection between you and Potema. She is likely to know you have arrived. Her minions are undead including powerful vampires.”
Nothing we have not dealt with before. What about Potema. How do we deal with her?
“Find what is left of her body, likely a skeleton. Remove it from the Catacombs and bring it back to be sanctified by Arkay.”
What else do I need to know about Potema?
“A curious figure. Unrepentantly evil and nasty but also astonishingly brilliant. A powerful necromancer near her end. She was always so close to being Empress but despite her machinations it was never to be hers. Ironically if she were alive today, she’d be the only living member of the Septim bloodline. By all rights, she would now be Empress.”
I want pale and quickly left the Hall. Lydia followed equally as pale. We both exclaimed at the same time,
“RIGMOR IS LEGALLY THE EMPRESS!!!!”
Kharjo looked at us and whispered,
“If that is so and you care for Rigmor, I suggest you keep this very quiet and don’t speak of it in public!”
Kharjo was correct. That fact would endanger Rigmor. I would have to think about it later. Right now we had a potential threat to all of Tamriel to deal with.
It did not take us long to reach the Temple of the Divines. Suddenly Lydia came up with a question,
“Why do you always refer to them as The Divine rather than The Divines?”
They work together as one. There are individual Divine and most regard the plural as Divines. However, I can’t think of them as separate entities. I am their champion and do their tasks. To me they are one made of nine parts. Therefore I prefer to call them The Divine.
“Makes sense. You do have a unique perspective on them.”
We entered the Temple and were greeted by a priestess,
“I am Freir. Blessings of the Eight Divines upon you. How may I help you?
You can start by not referring to eight. You are a Nord. Why would you deny the divinity of Talos?
“As you can see there is no shrine to Talos here. Worship of that false god is banned under the White Gold Concordat.”
Are you the head priest here?
“No, that would be my husband Rorlund. He is not here at the moment.”
You know in your heart that Talos is a Divine. You have prayed to him in the past and seen his shrine perform the same miracles as the other eight. His divinity is not in question. You are afraid of Dominion retribution if the Talos shrine is restored.
“No. Um, it is heresy to proclaim Talos a God…”
The Dominion hasn’t removed the Talos shrines in Windhelm or Whiterun. They will not dare remove a shrine restored with Jarl Elisif’s blessing! This temple is incomplete. When I return later I will speak to both of you.
“Who are you to make such a choice?”
I will have the voice of Jarl Elisif on this matter. Will you argue against her decision in her city?
“No. It is fear of retribution that had made us scared to disobey. If we have Jarl Elisif’s backing we will be more than happy to have the ninth restored.”
With that we continued to the lower levels of the Temple and encountered a locked gate. A key given to me by Styrr opened it and we proceeded into the Catacombs.
A wall had been breached. This must have been where a Potema minion made their way into the Temple.
A little further on we came to a raised portcullis. As I approached Potema spoke,
“You’ve arrived at last. The hero who prevented me from being bound returns to my fold. I have much to thank you for little one. When you die I will raise you and you can take your place by my side. You’ll serve me soon enough.”
The portcullis lowered and Lydia stepped though joking,
“Hurry Dragonborn, your girlfriend sounds lonely.”
Potema’s minions consisted of Draugr, raised dead and vampires. Boring! How about some exploding skeever or six foot high vampire rabbits or fire breathing butterflies?
Vampires always mouth off. Nearly as bad as Thalmor! I simply stagger them with a Shout…
…and decapitate them before they bore me to death with idle threats.
I have said from my earliest journal entries is how stupid some of the puzzles are in tombs and crypts. These revolving door lever thingies are a classic example. How much effort went into making them and why? The same creatures are always on both sides so not to keep them out. If they are to keep out thieves and adventurers, how dumb did they think they are? A drunk troll could figure out the levers!
Another room and yet another boring loud mouthed vampire. I almost fell asleep listening to him so Lydia and Kharjo carved him up.
Just when I thought I thought this place could not get more tedious Potema proved me wrong,
“Not much farther. Come little thing. Serve me in death.”
Lydia chimed in,
“How many are claiming your soul at the moment Thane? It would be fun watching them try to collect. Apart from you being dead of course.”
Ooo… Potema is making dead things arise again… quick somebody kill, um re-kill, the scary things…
Finally we got to the end. Potema was floating and just waiting for us to enter so she could issue another idle threat.
And here it is,
“You’ve come far mortal but can you stand against my inner council? Let’s see!”
Yes, at last something different! Nope, just more Draugr! Potema made it mildly interesting by floating around with electricity arcing to the ground. It would have been better to cast lightning bolts though!
We quickly destroyed the first wave of her “Inner Council” and she still did not realise she was losing,
“Don’t applaud yourself too soon, worm!”
Not suggesting Potema is stupid, Styrr did call her “astonishingly brilliant” but if I am a worm then I would not have the option to applaud myself. Lack of hands!
As we proceeded to chop her Inner Council into Draugr jigsaw puzzles she started to get rather personal,
“Rip the eyes from his head!”
That is not fair! I am just doing my job and do not deserve such nasty threats!
When the last of her Inner Council fell her spirit seemed to lose all energy. It fled to a previously locked room at the end of the chamber.
We entered and found Potema slumped in a chair. She did not even have the energy to issue more threats or call me an invertebrate.
As I approached to finish her off her skeletal form rose and stared me in the face. I could not help but ask,
“Potema, have you lost weight?”
Then I sliced her spectre in two leaving a puddle of goo on the floor.
I collected her remains and we made our way outside via a barred door.
We emerged on a cliff face near the docks. It was a fairly steep climb down and proved to be the most hazardous part of the day.
We quickly made out way to the Hall of the Dead and Styrr exclaimed,
“You’ve returned! I’m hoping successfully.”
Yes, here are Potema’s remains.
“Excellent! These things do have a way of working out when people take action. I’ll sanctify the remains.”
That will prevent any further use of necromancy on them? I am relieved. She was pure evil and I rather like my eyeballs where they are!
“In case Falk doesn’t make it clear – Solitude owes you a debt of gratitude.”
The Divine put me on this path. They recognised the threat Potema posed. As in everything I do, they deserve any gratitude.
With that we left and headed for the Palace.
I approached Falk and he asked,
“You have some news?”
Yes, we have taken care of Potema.
“You have all done a great thing today. Potema would have been a blight on the land. Without you and you friends this would have been a disaster. I should have paid more heed to Varnius’ warnings. I won’t make that mistake again.”
We serve The Divine. As I told Styrr, they are to be thanked, not us.
“Nevertheless you deserve some payment. Please take this shield as a token of our gratitude. Jarl Elisif would like to quietly thank you but she very much wants to keep Potema’s return quiet.”
I understand. I am used to keeping such thwarted danger to the people quiet for now. It will be recorded for history though.
“Make no mistake; we consider you and your companions protectors of Solitude.”
I approached Jarl Elisif and she greeted me,
“Welcome. Have you taken care of that terrible business Falk told me about?”
Yes my Jarl. It will never raise its ugly head ever again!
“Splendid. Is there anything I can do for you?”
Remember that long trip I made on behalf of your late husband. I believe we can avoid such things in the future by installing the appropriate apparatus alongside similar already in Solitude.
“Oh, and what about those who might object?”
Why should Windhelm and Whiterun have such convenience and not Solitude? Nobody would dare question something sanctified by you my Jarl.
“Of course. Please proceed and I will have the paperwork sent over.”
Thank you my Jarl.
With that we left the Palace and headed towards the Temple.
I quickly ducked inside my home and retrieved my personal Talos shrine.
When we reached the Temple Freir and Rorlund were earnestly discussing the reinstallation of a Talos shrine. It was apparent both wanted it badly but were afraid of the Thalmor.
I talked to Rorlund since he was the head of the Temple and the one the Thalmor would trouble.
I have my own personal shrine to Talos with me. My Jarl has asked me to install it in its rightful place in the Temple. She will soon send the order to you. If there are any repercussions then it is Jarl Elisif they will have to deal with, not you or Freir.
“We are both devoted to the Nine. It is not our safety we are concerned about but our adopted daughter’s. Silana is our main concern.”
(I reached into my armour and retrieved Talos’ coin. I handed it to Rorlund. As with Lortheim in Windhelm, this devout priest immediately recognised the signature of Talos. His face lit with wonder and speechlessly he handed it to his wife. She held it for but a second before tears formed in her eyes.)
I may look different than the news-sheets have shown but I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divine. You know I have said that Talos does not want or need us to lose our lives fighting for the right to worship him. I am not asking you to do that. I can see by your reaction to the gift he gave me that you are true believers. It must have been a burden for you to publicly refute the divinity of Talos. Have faith that the permission from Jarl Elisif removes any danger to yourselves or your daughter. The Thalmor have not dared remove the Talos shrines in Windhelm or Whiterun. They will not dare touch this shrine either. They no longer face a divided Skyrim but one united behind the Nine. They tread carefully and will not risk an uprising against the concordat. Be of the Nine again and be happy.
“Bless you Wulf. Our minds are at ease and a burden removed.”
Whilst I install the shrine you are free to keep hold of the coin. It is a beautiful moment when you can hold an item once belonging to Talos and feel his power and undeniable divinity.
I walked to the empty recess…
… and placed Talos’ shrine where it should be.
Silana was watching what I did and said,
“Thank you Dragonborn. Sometimes my parents think I came to them without ears. I know what they have been discussing for the last half hour and you have given them what they needed. Their fear for me has stopped them worshipping how they wished and needed. This will enrich their lives. Bless you.”
I collected the coin from the beaming couple. They immediately walked over and embraced their daughter. I could not stop smiling.
With that I and my companions left a Solitude Temple of the Divines complete and as it should be.
I parted company with Lydia and Kharjo telling them I would be performing at the Winking Skeever for at least another two nights.
I did my set of music and retired to my room where I wrote this journal entry.
I know no what time I fell asleep.
I know I heard a familiar voice telling me, “Another task done and you are ever closer to returning to your beloved.”
I know I awoke in the middle of the night with the thought, “If others find out Rigmor’s bloodline she will be in grave danger!”