Understone Keep, Markarth, Riften, Temple of Mara, Honeyside: Grumpy mage, Mechanical Dovah, Irritating braggart, Poetry lesson, Sceptical Redguard, Private recital, Lovely letter, Surprised mage, Confession of love, Third task for Mara, Serana’s possible future, Prayer.
We started making our way to Calcelmo just after 8:00AM.
What is it with Markarth? The women guards have skimpy uniforms that provide little protection. I know the weather is warmer but still. Maybe it is the influence of Dibella? Don’t tell her I said that!
Have I ever said how much I hate Dwemer architecture? No?
I HATE DWEMER ARCHITECTURE!!
Calcelmo was busy making some potion or other.
I got his attention and said,
Good morning Calcelmo.
“What are you doing here? The excavation site is closed. I don’t need an more workers or guards.”
I was looking for you actually.
“I told you I’m not hiring and more guards. Why do you people always bother me when I’m trying to finish my research?”
Be more polite!
“You idiot. Do you even know who I am? The most recognized scholar on the Dwemer in all of Tamriel! And you people keep bothering me!”
I am an idiot for allocating funds to such a bad example like you! I have worked so hard to improve the perception of the College! Then mages like you think you are worth more than a labourer or guard and look down your nose at them. Look closely Calcelmo. WHO AM I?
“Arch Mage Wulf! I… I’m sorry. I… I got too excited. I’m in the middle of some very… stressful work. I shouldn’t have yelled. How can I help you.”
I am less than impressed Calcelmo
“I understand. Once again I am sorry and you are right. We need to earn respect, not demand it.”
You asked for help from Mara. That is why I am here.
“I was beginning to lose faith than any help would come.”
Help is here. What is the problem?
“Ah… You see… I’ve been thinking about Faleen quite a bit. You know Faleen?”
Yes, a very fine Redguard warrior and loyal to her Jarl.
“Then you also know what a beauty she is. The trouble is that I can’t seem to speak around her. My mouth goes dry and I start to shake. I could never hope to approach her.”
I think you are overthinking this.
“That may be the case but she is as volatile as a sabre cat. One wrong word and I’ve seen her turn on a man so quickly…”
Yes, she can be intimidating and does not suffer fools. Surely there is somebody who can help with how to approach her.
“There is one… Yngvar. He’s quite popular with the ladies.”
That lump of ego with legs. He is not as popular as he thinks. Cursed within the Bard’s College for wasting his skill. A drunk who spends his evenings in drink. A thug who thinks he is a warrior. I will speak to him but do not hold your breath. I do not expect much.
“Faleen and Yngvar have been friends for quite some time. He may have some ideas. Please ask him what she likes. He might be my only chance.”
We will find a way for you Calcelmo even if Yngvar proves as useless as I predict.
We left Understone Keep with the intention to speak to Yngvar. However a dragon decided to attack the city and kept us busy.
His name was Miroltoh and was a Dwemer creation. They took the souls of Dovah and made automatons around them. Some were powerful. Most were probably weaker than the Dovah they were. Miroltoh was very powerful!
I think he had been hiding since Alduin was defeated and decided he had a chance to kill me and get some glory. I said hello with Dragonrend.
The difficulty of fighting Dov in cities was hiding places. Dragonrend would bring him down but he would land somewhere so my team could not get a clear shot.
This meant Miroltoh managed to take off again before I could hit him with another Dragonrend on a couple of occasions. The guards suffered because of this and more died than would have happened in open country.
Finally I got in the killing blow and absorbed his soul.
Serana, Celestine and I rushed around healing the injured. The dead numbered six guards and three civilians. Miroltoh gave up his eternal life for what? Did he think he could do what Alduin couldn’t? Total waste!
We found Yngvar propped up against a wall. During Miroltoh’s attack he had hid In a nearby house, It did not stop his delusion of superiority.
“Bloody enough for you outsider?”
How am I an outsider? I am a citizen of The Empire. I do believe Markarth is in the Empire.
“Okay ‘citizen’. Markarth, is it bloody enough for you?”
What are you getting at? Are you threatening me?
“If I was threatening you, believe me, you’d know it!”
I know I would be rolling on the floor laughing! If you were not hiding with the children you would have just seen me kill a dragon. If you drew a weapon on me your life would be forfeit in seconds. Do you want to try?
“You outsiders never learn. If the Forsworn don’t get you, the guards will throw you in Cidhna Mine to work your fingers off.”
I have had enough of your stupidity. Even hiding under a bed you would have heard my Thu’um. I am Wulf, Dragonborn and with my colleagues I travelled to Sovngarde and defeated Alduin. You owe your miserable life to me. I have killed countless Forsworn and removed them completely from several of their strongholds. You on the other hand are a drunk and braggart. A failed bard and pretend Stormcloak. I killed your leader in single combat. You still want to take me on or do you wish to know why I sought you out?
“If there is gold in it, I will listen to your Imperial crap.”
I have heard you know Faleen well. Do you know her likes, dislikes?
“What? Why are you… interested?”
It is not for me. It is for Calcelmo.
“Calcelmo? Is he interested in Faleen? That sly old codger. I should have guessed.”
He is a grump but I know he is an honourable man.
“Good for him. For the both of them. Between you and me, she could use a bit of warmth.”
Between you and me, do you have anything useful or am I wasting my time?
“I know what she might like. Faleen likes to act tough but she really has a soft spot for, of all things, poetry.”
You trained as a bard. Do you have one suitable? No smut!
“There’s a poem I once used on an older lady of Rorikstead. I can change it to be about Faleen if you’ve got some gold.”
How much for your masterpiece?
“200GP for my golden words.”
I will probably regret this but here you are. Now please write it out. Serana will give you the ink, quill and parchment.
(Serana reached into her satchel and retrieved the writing implements and handed them to Yngvar. Fifteen minutes later he handed me his ‘golden words’. I took the writing implements from him and started writing the edited version.)
Not bad for a total amateur. I suppose it will do with some fine tuning. Let’s see, you emphasized voice and used the example of voice to represent discourse. However, one must swim against the tide of the dominant visual metaphor and emphasize a sound metaphor. If I change this and this and this…
(I quickly wrote edited parts of the poem.)
That is better. However, your writing is poverty stricken as a semiotic system. You have to achieve its subtleties with fewer resources. As a trained bard you would know a drum cannot make gradations of volume the way a lute can. With drums you use subtle cues of timing to communicate the kind of thing that lutes communicate with volume. Not to fear if I edit this and this and this…
(I quickly wrote another edited version of the poem.)
Now it is of a quality to impress Faleen and not get me chased by her with sword in hand. Here, have a read.
(Yngvar read it with despair on his face.)
“You have completely changed every single line!”
Yes, but I kept the title. You should be proud!
With that we walked away with Yngvar looking forlorn and less boastful. Serena laughed and asked,
“What was all that you were saying?”
Total drivel. A priestess of Mara would be proud of me!
Before proceeding I quickly wrote out another copy of the poem. Calcelmo will have to use his mage skills to remember it quickly.
We entered the Keep and I walked up to Faleen. She recognised me from my playing at the inn.
“Eorgi the World-Weary, it is an honour to have a bard such as yourself visit our court. What can we do for you?”
Did you know the Dragonborn was in your fair city? I just witnessed him bring down a mighty dragon with his Thu’um. I will have to write a song about is so all can hear of this incredible deed.
“Yes, the Captain of the Guard had reported the battle and heroics of our men and the Dragonborn in the defence of the city.”
As impressive a sight as that was, it is a personal matter of yours of which I need to speak.
“Oh, please continue.”
I wish to talk to you about Calcelmo.
“Calcelmo? What about him?”
What do you think of him?
“Think of him? He’s an odd little man. Always poking around the ruins and wasting time in his museum. Seems friendly enough. Obviously intelligent. Why do you ask?”
He has very strong feelings for you.
“What? You’re out of your mind. That old coot’s more interested in dead dwarves than anybody around here. Don’t talk such rot!”
It is true. He told me.
“Please, stop wasting my time. You’re embarrassing yourself.”
He was written a poem for you. Do you wish me to recite it? It is very good and as you know, I am an expert judge of such things.
“A poem! Oh my. Please, I would love to hear it.”
It is titled ‘Warming of the Stone.’
- My lover’s heart is numbing stone
- That hides in ice beneath our sight.
- So some decry, “It is not there,”
- While others whisper, “Yet, it might.”
- Though stone is born from fevered ash,
- Once formed it yields no whiff of heat.
- So too, her heart betrays no love,
- Nor comforts those embracing it.
- As mountains grow and yearn for sky,
- Then climbers, conquering, ascend.
- With chisel, rope, with axe and pick,
- They force the rock to yield to them.
- One peak stands proud amidst the range,
- Invincible, and scaled by none.
- Those men who try wash down her slopes;
- Their eye-born streams obliquely run.
- For brash assault could never pierce
- Those guarded depths that lay apart.
- But patient water gently shapes
- A furtive channel to the heart.
- My love is delving water, ice
- That cracks with cycles of the sun.
- A lapping, yearning, whispered plea
- Will mark the time ’til I rush in.
- For I have dwelt among the rocks,
- My city carved from rugged stone.
- So in that burrow I will creep,
- And warm the soul which makes my home.
(I handed Faleen the poem and she took it with a gentleness that seemed foreign to her.)
“This is… lovely. Calcelmo wrote this… about me? I never knew he had such feeling in him.”
As I mentioned before, he cares about you.
“Clearly! I have never even thought of him in that manner. I wish that I was as skilled with words as he.”
I would gladly take a letter to him if you wish to write one.
(Serana handed her the writing materials and Faleen quickly penned a letter.)
“Here, please take this letter to him. I may not be as eloquent as he is, but I hope he understands.”
Faleen’s letter to Calcelmo read,
- My Dearest Calcelmo,
- I always knew you to possess a great mind, but your charming poem revealed a depth of feeling I never suspected.
- I’ll admit to being a bit surprised at the direction of your feelings, but not unpleasantly so. Let us meet to discuss further.
- Yours, Faleen.
We made our way to Calcelmo who was staring into space. Obviously in deep thought.
Calcelmo, I have this poem I suggest you commit to memory. Faleen believes you wrote it for her.
(I handed him the second copy of the poem. He quickly scanned it and I knew it was now entrenched in his memory. It is a skill many mages master. Especially those involved in research such as he.)
“Who wrote this?”
Let us just say a popular bard who is now retired.
(I had identified myself to both Calcelmo and Yngvar. The disguise was no longer viable.)
“Thank him if you see him for me.”
I will. I have read it to Faleen and I have a letter from her to you.
(I placed the letter into Calcelmo’s shaking hands. He read it several times.)
“This is… more than I could have hoped for. Have you really done this for me?”
You are a good man Calcelmo. Mara would not have sent me otherwise.
“I have to see her! Please excuse me.”
Calcelmo ran as fast as he could to speak to Faleen. We ran to witness their meeting.
They stood facing each other and Calcelmo was full of confidence.
- Calcelmo: Faleen… I…
- Faleen: Sssh. It is all right. You do not need to say any more. I had no idea you were so… nuanced.
- Calcelmo: I love you!
- Faleen: So I hear. Come here you.
As they embraced in a passionate kiss we turned and left.
As we walked towards the stables Celestine said,
“This is a lovely Divine Task! It must be refreshing to spread love instead of death.”
It would be wonderful to do this full time for Mara.
Serana looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes. I think she has found a new path to follow.
Our ride back to Riften was only interrupted by a squad of Thalmor assassins. With three of the most powerful mages in Skyrim against them it was not long before they became piles of ashes.
We arrived in Riften at around 10:00PM.
When we entered the Temple Dinya was conversing with Mara once again.
Good evening. We helped the forlorn lovers of Markarth.
“The goddess smiles at your efforts children. The dawn shines bright upon you all.”
Is there more we can do for Mara?
“You have seen the young, fickle love of youth. You have helped a more seasoned love find its way. There is one final aspect we wish for you to explore. For a strong love can withstand storms and even survive death. Take this symbol of Mara. She will guide you to the wandering souls of those whose love was so great that their entwinement binds them to this world.”
We shall rest overnight and make the journey on the morrow.
“May you carry the warmth of Mara to all corners of the frozen wastes.”
We made our way to Honeyside, my house in Riften.
I quickly donned my normal attire and wore Mara’s amulet.
I spoke to both women.
“The amulet shows me a location just south of Dragons Keep. I think I know the shrine. We will leave fairly early in the morning, say 7:00AM.”
Celestine offered to prepare a meal. Serana wished to talk to me.
“Wulf, do you think the Temple would take me as a trainee priestess?”
I can’t think of why they wouldn’t. You have rejected Molag Bal. You have the wisdom of centuries. I know you have great reserves of compassion. You can protect yourself on the long journeys involved. Ask them if it is truly what you want.
“I will think upon it.”
I will be back soon. There is something I need to do.
“I am sure Mara will answer your prayers Wulf.”
You would be an excellent Priestess of Mara. Sticking your nose into other people’s love affairs comes naturally it seems.
Serana laughed and joined Celestine in preparing dinner.
I walked to the Temple of Mara with some trepidation. Surely praying to Mara like any normal citizen is not pushing going to annoy Akatosh?
I knelt before her altar and prayed,
Mara, Goddess of Love, please hear my prayer.
My beloved and I are separated by many hundreds of miles and have been so for nearly two years. We have made solemn vows to remain true and never let each other go. I worry what will befall Rigmor. What will the dangers and pressures of being a noble in that cesspit of politics do to challenge that vow. Will I find that in my absence Rigmor’s eyes have turned to another? That the situations she finds herself in will make our love seem a distant memory and the vow untenable? What if I find that is the situation when we meet again? It would be a great trial of my faith if I needed to do my duties as Champion of The Divine and see her in the arms of another. I humbly ask for your assistance with these concerns that are starting to dominate my thoughts in the quiet hours.
With that I rose and returned to Honeyside.
It was a good meal with my companions with much lively banter and laughter. Honeyside by design is homely and welcoming. Sometimes I truly envy the common folk who experience such simple pleasures on a daily basis. I would love to think Rigmor and I could live so in our future but I doubt our destinies will allow such a thing.
The ladies retired to bed and I sat in front of the fire writing this journal entry.
I retired to bed feeling good about this Divine Task.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know Mara told me as clear as a bell, “Your prayer will be answered.”