The Bannered Mare, Whiterun, Dragonsreach, Breezehome, Temple of Mara, Dragonfall Castle: Jarl’s message, Gildergreen renewed, Jarls worries, Dark child, Daedric evil, Key needed, Jarl afraid, Sword obtained, Lie to sword, Recruit Mara, Spring surprise, Banish evil, Check on family, Visit Morgan, Great acoustics.
I was doing some bard work at the Bannered Mare last night.
At the end of my set I approached Hulda, the innkeeper, for my pay.
She handed over a bag of coins then said,
“The Jarl’s steward just came and left a message for you. Jarl Balgruuf asks if you would please meet him in Dragonsreach in the morning.”
Did Proventus say anything about why?
Thanks Hulda. See you again soon.
I left the tavern and headed for Breezehome where I slept till morning.
It was about 8:00AM when I set off for Dragonsreach. The new Gildergreen tree was already as tall as the old one after only a few months. I would say it will surpass it in height and girth by the end of the year. It is already attracting many more pilgrims than the old tree.
I entered Dragonsreach and approach Jarl Balgruuf. I had never seen him so worried.
“Wulf, you got my message. I am so glad you are here. This problem might seem minor though.”
Two days ago I helped an elderly citizen find her missing dog. To her that was the most important thing in the world and who am I to tell her where it ranks in the overall scheme of things.
“Did you find it?”
Yes, and it took three buckets of water to get it off the bitch in heat it had been visiting.
“What did the old lady say about that?”
She had a faraway look on her face and mumbled “I remember the days.” as she wandered back inside her house.
“I am worried about Nelkir, my youngest son. He is a dark child. He has got worse lately and I don’t know what to do with him. He was always a quiet lad but lately… something has changed. He’s become brooding. Violent. He carries his bow and knives everywhere and is often in the guards training yard practising for hours.”
Have you tried talking to him? Have you asked what is wrong?
“He won’t say a word to me but I don’t know how I upset him. He likes you. After you rode off on that dragon he virtually worships you for being so brave etc. You have dozens of children. Maybe you can speak to him and draw out the truth. I would be immensely grateful.”
I found Nelkir near the stairs to the basement. I approached him.
“DRAGONBORN! Can you tell me about riding the dragon again?”
Soon but your father is worried about you. He wanted me to speak to you.
“So the disgusting pig sent you to bother me? One day I’ll tear his face apart so he can leave me alone.”
He loves you. Otherwise he would not care enough to ask me to help.
“I know things.”
What sort of things?
“I know he worships Talos. That he hates the Thalmor as much as The Stormcloaks did.”
I am wearing an amulet of Talos. There is a man in the city standing in front of a big statue of Talos and praising him day and night in public. I restored the Talos shrine in Windhelm. Nearly every single Nord still worships him. Nearly every single Nord hates the Thalmor. Not because of Talos. They tried to destroy your home!
“That is breaking rules. I get in trouble for breaking rules!”
Some rules are wrong. If you feel like a rule is wrong then say so. If the rule is righteous and you deliberately break it then accept your punishment. Blame yourself, not the one who punishes.
“I know that he… that I’m… that I don’t have the same mother as my brother and sister!”
(He is a bastard but Balgruuf never told him!)
Who told you that?
“This castle is old. There are lots of places nobody has been in a long time. Places where you can overhear things. See things. Where you can talk to the Whispering Lady.”
Who is the Whispering Lady?
“She won’t tell me her name. I’ve gotten good at listening at keyholes. At the door in the basement, I hear her talking to me. At first I thought somebody caught me eavesdropping. Then she told me it was okay and started telling me even more secrets. But I can’t open the door.”
Where is this door?
“In the basement. Trust me, you’ll see it. I bet she’ll talk to you too!”
Nelkir walked off and I headed for the basement.
I found the door. It was covered in blood. It was the last thing I expected to find in Dragonsreach.
I did not have to put my ear to the door.
“I’ve been waiting for someone more fit to carry out my will.”
(A Daedric Prince. Not really a lady. Something androgynous. Definitely evil.)
“The child is spirited, but lacks… agency.”
“I forgive you for not knowing who I am. Few hear my whispers any more. I am Mephala, the Lady of Whispers.”
I know of you Webspinner.
“A name given me by Dark Elves, the Dunmer as you call them. It is fitting. I tug at the web of connections between mortals. Love, hatred, loyalty, betrayal. The boy was good at sussing out secrets. You on the other hand. I expect you to take a more active role.”
(Another Daedric Prince that relies entirely on convincing mortals they have to obey. I am happy to play the puppet for it.)
What do you require of me?
“Like all those who listen at doors, you wonder what is beyond them. You need a key to open this door. It is magically sealed and nobody has ever entered without the key.”
Who has the key?
“The Jarl’s court is right to fear the power I hold behind this door. The Jarl trusts few and that will be his undoing. The dark child knows of what I speak. Let him guide your path.”
I found Nelkir and asked him,
Do you know how to open the Whispering Door?
“I told you, I know everything about the castle. For some reason that door is special. Only two people can open it. Farengar the fucking idiot Court Wizard and my father the pig. How you get the key from them is up to you. Nobody would notice if Farengar went missing.”
I turned from Nelkir before he could see my tears. This is a good child. I know it. Once again evil has dragged an innocent into the darkness.
I walked up to Jarl Balgruuf and he could see I was concerned.
“Is there something wrong with my boy?”
He is under the influence of Mephala the Daedric Prince.
Do not play ignorant with me Balgruuf! I consider you a friend and know you are a good man. Listen and you will know what to do.
(He looked down at his hands and nodded his head.)
Was Nelkir born out of wedlock?
“Yes. After my wife died I tried to numb the pain with booze and women. I got a young woman pregnant and she died giving birth to Nelkir. She gave him his name in her final moments. I did not love the woman. She knew that. But I have loved Nelkir since the moment the midwife handed him to me. A product of lust but loved no less than my other children.”
Why have you never told him the truth.
“How do you explain such things to a child? The deep grief I felt at my wife’s passing? The turning to booze and sex for relief? I basically abandoned my city, its people and my children. Holding Nelkir brought me back to the reality of my duty and I was soon as you see me now. A beloved Jarl who almost failed those who relied on him.”
I am not here to judge you. You are a good man Jarl Balgruuf. I know how deeply you can love somebody. I lost my sanity for a while over my beloved. Talos and sense of duty brought me back. Your love for your child and sense of duty did the same.
“I did not know you lost somebody.”
She did not die. I sent her away to a better life while I stayed in Skyrim as The Divine needed me here and still do years later.
“How did Mephala get to Nelkir?
You said Nelkir has always been a ‘Dark Child”. Some are and often there is no explanation why. It does not make them evil but can cause them to be suspicious of authority and they may even think others are hiding things from them. Nelkir started to spy on others. He discovered proof that people lie and conceal. That made him feel better about his dark thoughts. When he listened at that bloodied door Mephala slowly seduced him with small pieces of information he did not know. Then one day recently it must have told him about his parentage. It told him how others would call him a bastard and that you did not really love him.
“She made him hate me? Why?”
It wants somebody to use whatever is behind that door. Whatever you thought so evil you locked it away and hoped it would just somehow go away. Nelkir is too weak to use what it is. It wants me to use it. Nelkir was a means to get somebody more powerful to listen to its whispers. To use him she made him hate, not just you but Farengar.
“It is a sword. An exquisite ebony sword. I purchased it from a Dunmer treasure hunter. I did not knowing it origin or its secrets. When I inspected it and held it there were no whispers. Not until the man had left and I picked it up again to admire its beauty. I resisted her. I was ashamed of bringing such evil into Dragonsreach. I asked Farengar to help. He did the research and told me what it was. I put it in that room. Farengar sealed it with some spells he purchased from Black Rock. Then we ignored its existence.”
Some Daedric artefacts act as conduits into this realm for their creators. The sword allows Mephala to talk to mortals. Like all Daedric Princes, it tries to convince mortals it is in their best interest to comply with its wishes. It is expert at manipulation. You son did not have the resources to resist. You did and that is admirable.
“So what do we do?”
Give me the key. I know just the people to take care of the sword. Meanwhile I will play Webspinner at her own game. I can lie with the best of them.
(Jarl Balgruuf removed key from his key-chain and handed it to me.)
I will be back tomorrow after I have disposed of this evil. Can I suggest strongly my Jarl that you sit and talk with your son. You will find as soon as the sword is away from Dragonsreach he will be back to normal. He needs to hear the truth about his mother. It may be awkward but do not be surprised at how much a child his age knows about such things.
“I will do so Wulf and I thank you once again.”
I went to the basement and stood in front of the door. Mephala did not speak so I unlocked it.
Sitting on a table was an exquisite ebony sword. In front of it was a book. I opened it and read the warning within.
“To anyone reading this: BEWARE THIS BLADE
It is hoped that the only people having access to this room should be the Jarl of Whiterun and his trusted wizard. If anyone else is reading this, please understand the magnitude of your folly, turn around, and never even speak of this room or this blade to anyone.
It has corrupted and perverted the desires of great men and women. Yet its power is without equal—to kill while your victim smiles at you. Only a daedra most foul could have concocted such a malevolent and twisted weapon. But it appears that all who wield it end up with the crazed eyes of those wild men who roam the hills chattering with rabbits.
It is not to be trifled with. Not even the hottest fires of the Skyforge could melt it; indeed the coals themselves seemed to cool when it was placed within. We cannot destroy it, and we would not have it fall into the hands of our enemies. So we keep it, hidden, dark and deep within Dragonsreach, never to be used.
Woe be to any who choose to take it.”
I picked up the sword.
“Excellent work. Now, I trust you’re sharp enough to see that the sword doesn’t match the description of the Ebony Blade you may know. It has languished too long outside the winds of alliance and betrayal. To return to its past glory, it must first drink the blood of deceit. Your world is admirably seeped in lies and inclinations. My blade is a darling leech that feeds on deceptions and nourishes its master. Seek out those closest to you. The final pluck of their misguided heartstrings will accompany my blade in the song of your grandeur.”
I have the perfect first victim. A Priest of Mara who thinks we are alike in slavery to those cursed Divines.
“That would indeed be a rich bounty for the sword. Mara must squirm when I turn her precious love into a weapon. She will scream when my sword takes the life of one of her own snivelling priests. Go now and help me spin my web over Tamriel.”
I left Whiterun on the back of Arvak at just after 1:00PM. I pushed him as fast as I could and he made excellent time.
We arrived in Riften at about 4:30PM.
I entered Honeyside and went to a small armoury in the basement I had built.
I am going into the Temple of Mara to invite my ‘friend’ for breakfast in the morning. That is when he will die in your name Webspinner.
“Excellent. The sword will feed well. I am looking forward to the look of betrayal on that bitch’s slave.”
So the sword is not detected I will leave it here. I will be back shortly.
I placed the sword on the bracket and left Honeyside.
I entered the temple and spoke to Erandur.
How is life treating you Erandur?
“Welcome Wulf. I am finding life quite agreeable at the moment. Dinya is a remarkably competent Priestess and she helped me heal quickly.”
That is fantastic to hear. I am not just here on a social visit though.
“That sounds ominous!”
What do you know of Mephala?
“That bitch takes the love created and given as a gift by my Lady Mara. She takes it and warps so that jealousy, hate and violence can breed from it.”
That my friend, is the reaction I expected. Lady Mara is probably incapable of hate but I am sure Mephala is not somebody she would invite to a party.
“Mephala worship in Skyrim seems to be almost non-existent. As part of the New Temple she is worshipped by most of my countrymen.”
I wish to keep her influence in Skyrim to a minimum so need to destroy an evil weapon she uses to seduce mortals into being followers.
“And you think I can do the same as I did to the Skull of Corruption?”
I think that was a ritual specific to that item. Am I correct?
“Yes but I am sure if Dinya and I prayed to Mara we may learn another. Does it have a name?”
Mephala calls it the Ebony Blade.
“Let us speak to Dinya and see what she says.”
So we spoke to Dinya and a plan was put in place. They would both pray for a ritual spell. Erandur would come to Breezehome in the morning for breakfast. Mephala will think I am about to murder him and then we spring the surprise. We will bring the sword back to the temple and I will place it on the altar. Dinya and Erandur will then make it cease to exist with Mara’s ritual.
I headed home and spoke to Mephala before retiring for the night.
He fell for it like the idiot of the Divines he is. He is looking forward to a nice breakfast and chat with his good friend Wulf.
“I knew you would be a worthy owner of my blade.”
I went to bed and fell asleep I know not when.
When I awoke I cooked a reasonably competent breakfast and set the table. Erandur arrived and we sat having a good chat about the current political situation. The Emperor had completely annihilated the ruling class of Leyawiin, its army and a large chunk of the population. Latest rumour was Countess Rigmor had declared Bruma independent and therefore safe from such blatant political slaughter. As per the plan I started the last part of our ruse.
If you will excuse me Erandur. I have come across and ancient relic I am sure you will have a soft spot for. I will get it and show it to you.
(I arose and went downstairs to where my small armoury was. I took the sword down and Mephala was more than keen to execute my friend.)
“A soft spot for? Your jests would kill most mortals.”
I am a bard and this is a performance worthy of your audience I hope.
“You are an excellent weaver of lies and deceit. I am going to enjoy seeing how you fool each fool.”
(I snuck up behind Erandur as if I was going to assassinate him from behind.)
Erandur, here is the artefact I mentioned.
“What is this? Oh, you are going to kill him whilst he looks you in the eye. Perfect!”
(Erandur stood and looked at the sword in my hand and then me in the eyes.)
“Now! Kill him now!”
Is the Temple prepared and other priests ready?
(Erandur nodded. Deceit completed.)
Then let us go and Lady Mara can make this thing cease to exist.
“What is this? What are you doing?”
Not what you thought Mephala. As you said, I am an excellent weaver of lies and deceit. We are taking your “Ebony Blade” to the Temple of Mara. There I will place it on her altar. Lady Mara has provided a ritual to her devotees. This cursed sword will cease to exist.
“Impossible! She does not have the power. You can’t trick me.”
Have you spoken to Vaermina lately? Oh, of course not. You guys really should learn to forgive and forget. Anyway, her indestructible Skull of Corruption no longer exists thank to the Divine powers of Lady Mara. So yes, she has the power.
“Why would she get involved? Why do you refuse the power I have offered?”
She gave us one of the most precious gifts imaginable, love in all its forms. You have used that gift to create jealousy and hate. This results in murder and misery. You have corrupted something that even Boethia recognises as beautiful and precious. That is your biggest crime.
“Don’t do this. I can offer you riches and….”
STOP! You can offer me nothing. You and your kind rely on greed and lust and other base needs for leverage. You all whisper empty promises. Everything a mortal gains from following one of you is a result of mortal flaws, not Daedric power. You seed the ideas and an individual’s free will and skills produce the results. I have rejected others of your kind and I reject you
“YOU MORTAL WORM! YOU WILL SUFFER FOR THIS!”
(By this time Erandur and I were halfway to the Temple.)
Oh my, you have forgotten to whisper!
(YOU DO NOT KNOW MY POWER!)
In your Oblivion realm you have power. Thanks to Martin’s sacrifice and the barrier you have nothing but words on Nirn. We are going to destroy the sword. Show me your power. Stop me!
(We were just about to enter the temple.)
How does it feel to be betrayed? To believe lies only to have your trust proven foolish and misplaced? You complained to me how few hear your whisper. None will now hear it in Skyrim.
(We entered the Temple and I placed the blade on Lady Mara’s altar.)
I stood back. Dinya and Erandur started an incantation and began to float as they did so.
Mara’s Divine Power flowed through her priest and priestess. It manifested itself at both ends of the Ebony Blade.
(Then the sword vanished and all was quiet.)
I thanked Erandur and said my goodbyes. I needed to see how the child and his father were fairing in Dragonsreach.
I thanked Dinya as well and promised to visit again soon.
I quickly made my way out of Riften and onto Arvak.
Once again I took advantage of his superior speed and unlimited endurance and made good time to Whiterun.
I entered Dragonsreach and approached Jarl Balgruuf. He looked a lot happier than yesterday.
“Hello friend. Is it done? Is that evil gone?”
Lady Mara removed it from Nirn. Where it is or if it even exists any more I do not know. I assume she simply unmade it!
“That is a relief. I had a long conversation with Nelkir. He remembers hating me and wanting to kill me but not why. He has no recollection of the Whispering Lady.”
Did you tell him the truth?
“It was hard. I had to admit to flaws that I hope my children do not have. You were right when you said children understand more than we think they do. In the end he hugged me and thanked me for loving him as much as the others. I promised to take him to visit his mother’s grave.”
Is this still going to be a secret that people around you step around?
“No, Nelkir does not want it to be. After we finished our talk he asked his siblings to join us. I had to go through it all again. They both hugged Nelkir and said it make no difference. They hugged me and declared we are family and that is all that matters. I could not have been prouder.”
Nelkir will still need some help I think. I suggest you have the room cleansed by Vigilants of Stendarr in case there is any residual power of Mephala. Spend some time in the Temple of Kynareth with your son to ensure he is fully healed.
“My debt to you continues to grow.”
You owe me nothing. Just remember it is The Divine who have put me on this path and they are to be thanked.
I walked over to Nelkir. He was going somewhere with his siblings
Would you like me to tell you about my dragon ride again?
“Sorry but we are going to play tag with some of the other children. Father has given me some coin so I can buy us all sweet-rolls when we are hungry. Can we do it another time?”
Of course. Enjoy yourselves and see you next time I visit. I might even bring Meeko.
“That would be great! He cheats at Hide and Seek but is still the best dog ever!”
The children ran outside to play. I left Whiterun aboard Arvak and headed for Dragonfall Castle.
I arrived there at about 5:30PM. I rushed inside and changed into less grimy attire.
Staff and students were streaming into the dining hall for dinner. I spotted Morgan and went over to have a quick chat.
“Hello cat slave. How are you liking Dragonfall Castle now you have been here a while?”
“I am not Shadow’s slave! Am I? Mmm…maybe. Anyway this place is great. Serana is such a cool teacher. Did you know she was a vampire once!”
I know but she sucked back then!
“I love you Wulf but as a comedian you make a good bard.”
Somebody else said that once!
“Are you playing some music while we eat?”
Yes, I have this urge to sing. It happened when I am really sad or really happy. Anytime really!
With that I waited till more were seated on the lower level. There were lots more seats and tables on the upper levels as well.
I sang many songs and it was a good end to the day.
I used the magic lift to get to the library.
It is huge and there are always people studying there.
I placed some books I had collected onto the shelves for the librarians to sort out later.
I then retired to my private quarter, wrote these journal entries and retired to bed.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I remember chuckling at making the Lady of Whispers shout.