Old Hroldan Inn, Deepwood Redoubt: Old bed, Ghost, Lost sword, Reachmen, Found, Gobblygook, Brother.
“The Pull” directed me to the Old Hroldan Inn. Kharjo and Jordis are my companions for this Divine Task.
We left Dragons Keep just before 7:00AM.
We arrived at Old Hroldan Inn just after 8:30AM.
When we entered the innkeeper Eydis said, “Ah, a visitor, Old Hroldan Inn has hundreds of years of history friend.”
The Pull indicated Eydis was who I needed to speak to. I approached her and she said, “You’ll be looking to rent Tiber Septim’s room I take it?”
Why is it called Tiber Septim’s room?
“In the Second Era, Tiber Septim himself led the army that conquered Old Hroldan from the barbarians of the Reach. Septim would later found the Empire that united Tamriel. His first known battle and victory was right here. This inn has the very bed the great general slept in on his first night as Old Hroldan’s liberator. It is as good as it was hundreds of years ago.”
(Not really accurate. The Battle of Old Hroldan occurred in 2E 852 which is 44 years before Tiber Septim started the third era. That era lasted 433 years and we are in the 205th year of the fourth era. So the battle occurred 682 years ago. He was not called Tiber Septim then. He was still Hjalti Early-Beard and would have been 24 years of age. He was a General under Emperor Cuhlecain. He led a combined force of Colovian regular troops and Nord berserkers. In a decisive battle Hjalti’s force broke the Reachmen’s lines. That was technically Hjalti’s first victory. It is not polite or accurate to refer the Reachman as ‘barbarians’. That is the type of belittlement bad history uses to establish moral superiority. The Reachmen retreated into Old Hroldan which was a walled and gated city. Hjalti approached the city surrounded by a storm. As Hjalti moved, the storm followed. This allowed him to get close to the walls of the city as any arrow fired at him or spear thrown at him were diverted by the swirling storm. Hjalti used his Thu’um to knock some walls down and his troops swarmed through the breach and slaughtered the Reachmen. So the Battle of Old Hroldan was technically Hjalti’s second victory. After the battle the Nord troops nicknamed him Talos which means Stormcrown. The title handed to me by the Greybeards.)
I would love to rent Tiber Septim’s room!
“Have a good rest. It is the big room with the double bed.”
I told Jordis and Kharjo to wait in the common room as I lay down on the bed. I had a feeling I would be the first Dragonborn to use it since Hjalti. The Divine would not send me to just try out an ancient bed!
As soon as I lay straight on the bed I heard a scream from the common room. I jumped up and ran in to find a wide eyed innkeeper. She saw me and said, “A ghost just appeared out of nowhere! It is over there in the corner.”
(I looked where she pointed and sure enough, a ghost wearing ancient Nord armour was sitting down drinking mead.)
He seems harmless. Has anybody seen him before?
“Not since the Great War. I had heard the stories but never believed them till now.”
By the armour he is wearing I would say he is from the time Hjalti, Tiber Septim, slept here.
“Do you think he is from the battle? Is he one of Tiber Septim’s soldiers back from the dead?”
He very well might be. I will go talk to him and see what he has to say.
I walked over and sat next to the ghost. He looked at me and said, “Hjalti, join me for a drink?”
I can’t soldier. I am still on duty.
“You promised me Hjalti. You promised that when we sacked Hroldan you would make me your sworn brother. I have waited. Even after the enemies’ arrows dug into my chest and their hammers crushed my bones. I’ve waited.”
How do I make you my brother?
“Give me your sword Hjalti. Not that new one you have. The one you used in the battle. You promised.”
What is your name soldier?
“Have I been waiting so long that you have forgotten my name? It is Skoinn Death-Bearer. Two campaigns we served together. You saved my life time and time again.”
Have you asked this of anybody else in all that time?
“I have talked to others but why would they know where your sword is? I have been waiting for you Hjalti. You must give it to me and then I can be your brother, like you promised.”
I will bring you my sword Skoinn.
“Good. I long to taste battle again.”
As I was talking to the ghost I noticed a young boy had been listening in. He asked, “You are the Dragonborn aren’t you?”
Yes I am. My name is Wulf.
“I am Skuli. Eydis is my Mum.”
Well met Skuli. You are not afraid of a ghost?”
“Nah, he just looks like a tired soldier to me. We used to have them come in here during the civil war. I can’t wait to tell my friends I saw the Dragonborn talking to a ghost!”
Won’t they think you have been drinking your Mum’s mead?
“Mum caught me trying a sip once. She gave me such a lecture I would not dare do it again. Can I ask you something Dragonborn, I mean Wulf?”
Sure Skuli. What do you want to know.
“Skoinn really thinks you are Hjalti. Is that because you are also as Dragonborn like he was?”
You might be right but I honestly do not know for sure.
“I had better get back to my chores before I get a lecture.”
Skuli started sweeping the floor and I walked over to Eydis. She asked, “Well is he? Is he one of Tiber Septim’s soldiers?”
Yes he is. His name is Skoinn and he thinks I am Tiber Septim. He wants me to give him the General’s sword. The city that used to be Old Hroldan is completely gone so I can’t search there. Do you know where the battle was before Tiber Septim attacked the city?
“I remember a legend that Tiber Septim attacked one of the enemy camps before he came to High Hroldan. Give me your map and I will mark where I think that camp was. It is called Deepwood Redoubt.”
Eydis marked my map and I thanked her. We left the inn and started our ride to Deepwood Redoubt.
Apart from some wolves and a bear the ride was uneventful. I could see some steep stairways and a Forsworn on guard. Forsworn is the name the Reachmen took when Ulfric, under the orders of the Thalmor, beat them in several battles and reclaimed The Reach for the Empire. It is what made Ulfric enough of a hero to be able to start and sustain a Civil War in Skyrim. Only a couple of years ago did I prove what a coward and traitor he was.
We dismounted and tied the horses. They would not be good for fighting up stairways. I took aim at the first sentry. Killing him before he called alarm would make it easier for us to sneak up on the rest.
The arrow flew true.
And embedded itself in his neck. He dropped without uttering a sound.
We charged up the stairs and killed many Forsworn who came scrambling out of tents and were caught unprepared.
We eventually came to a doorway. We had no idea what kind of structure we were about to enter.
The architecture was strange. I did not have much time to study it. The place was swarming with Forsworn.
After killing many of them we encountered a corridor with runes all over the floor.
I did a Cyclone Shout and cleared them.
It led to a room with a female Forsworn commander who had been asleep. The exploding runes woke her just in time to be decapitated. I checked her body and found a key.
We retraced our steps and took a different turn that led to a locked door. Using the key we opened it and entered another area of steep stairways.
It made a change to be able to use my marksman skills. Once again I took aim at the sole sentry I could see.
The arrow hit her midsection and she gave out a dying scream. So much for sneaking up this time!
We all had our bows drawn at the end of a narrow walkway. As the Forsworn rushed to engage us they became easy targets.
Seven or eight were dropped before we made our way up some stairs to a plateau full of tents. It was mostly hand to hand with Kharjo finishing the last enemy, a Briarheart, with a mighty swing of his mace.
In the Briarheart’s tent was the only chest we had seen. Without much hope I opened it. Inside, amongst other treasures, was an antique sword of Colovian design. Could it be? I picked it up. It had no dweomer. It was well made but not the highest quality. The type of sword a new general might carry. All that pointed to it being Hjalti’s sword.
I knew it was without a shadow of a doubt. It had Lord Talos’ feel to it. The same as the coin he gave me. I took a couple of swings with it and was transported.
I found myself at the Battle of Whiterun. Both Yngol’s and Casius’ troops had been committed. I had just been informed another army was approaching and had given my best words of encouragement to all. The battle was about to be lost. The New Order’s Orc reserves were about to join and we would be crushed between two fronts. Our retreat to the walls of Whiterun would be cut off. I had gambled with our battle plan and had failed.
A few minutes later I heard a commotion then murmurs of the “Sons of Talos”.
I thought they had given up their unjust demands of Rigmor and were ready to fight for Skyrim and her people.
Then I heard her call me, “Stormcrown!”
I turned and saw the Warmaiden of old had returned.
Sitting perfect straight with hands on her reins was my beloved.
I could not help but express my surprise and delight at seeing her, “Rigmor!”
I ran to her as fast as I could.
She looked down and our souls connected again. This time I whispered her name, “Rigmor… “
“Be ready to cross the border Stormcrown. We need you. I need you.”
I held out my hand and she held out hers. Just before we touched she was gone.
I found myself at the traveller’s rest spot near the Cyrodiil border. Talos was sitting opposite me. He said, “Before you ask, that was and was not Rigmor. You don’t like what you call ‘gobblygook’ so just leave it at that.”
Is her message true?
“Yes. You will be called to be by her side soon. Once again I have bent the rules. Please remember that when you question my motives. You inevitably will.”
Is there more?
“Everything is at the mercy of mortal free will. We whisper in your ears. Our enemies whisper in your ears. Prepare as if you will never return. There is a real possibility you may not. Nobody’s survival is certain. Nothing is guaranteed. Do not leave loose ends like I did. Skoinn was a loose end. Thank you for fixing my mistake. That is all I can tell you.”
I then found myself back in the Forsworn tent with Hjalti’s sword in my hand. I fell to my knees and Jordis was soon by my side and cried, “My Thane! What is wrong?”
It is alright Jordis. Just a Divine fucking with my head again. Let us get back to the Inn.
I looked around. This Forsworn complex was huge. We had only scratched the surface. It was not our target. I have never put myself or my companions at risk just to kill without purpose. We had what we came for. We left.
It was just before 6:30PM when we retrieved our horses.
It just over two hours later we arrived at the Inn.
We entered and Skoinn was sitting as if waiting for me. I sat next to him and he said, “Do you remember me now Hjalti?”
I have never forgotten you Skoinn. I just could not get back here till now. Here is my sword. You are my brother and I am proud to have had you fight by my side.
“It has been an honour to serve you brother. Sovngarde waits.”
Skoinn stood and as we watched he faded from this mortal realm for eternity.
I was overwhelmed with differing emotions. I needed to get home. I needed to think.
We left the inn and rode to Dragons Keep at an almost reckless pace. I said goodnight to my companions and finally entered my private quarters at about 10:30PM.
I sat and wrote this journal entry and then crawled into bed.
I had so many things going on in my head. It was a incoherent mixture of hope and longing and fear.
I know not what time I fell asleep.