Falskaar: Shor’s people.
It was another long walk across the Falskaar countryside to reach Borvald. The weather was warm and nothing tried to rob or eat us so it was quite pleasant.
These people say they have a history of war but it is evident they are naïve. Goran was standing outside the gate rather than inside. He should have been on a rampart looking over it. Something a competent carpenter could make in a few hours. Even if the door had to be unbarred from the inside he would be an unnecessary casualty if somebody attacked.
When we approached he proved they were Nord descendants by his idiotic challenge.
He blustered, “The city is in lockdown by Jarl Valfred’s orders. What makes you think I will let you in?”
“Try this Goran, ‘Welcome to Borvald strangers. Sorry to inform you but the city is in lockdown. Can I please ask why you seek admittance?’”
Goran stood with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face.
“Pretty please Goran Sir. These humble servants of Shor have a very important message from Jarl Agnar that must be delivered to Jarl Valfred. It may save countless lives if you were to be so kind as to open the fucking gates.”
“Alright then, I’ll show you to Jarl Valfred. Follow me please.”
Goran yelled to the guards, “We have visitors for Jarl Valfred. Open the gates!”
A guard replied, “Manners Goran! No need to shout and next time try, ‘Sven and Bjorn will you please open the gates.’”
Goran’s mood did not improve as laughter was heard inside and outside his city.
Iona didn’t improve it when she asked, “Why do you have the ability to bar the gates from the outside? Is there some tactical advantage to letting an enemy lock you in your own city?”
The gates opened and we followed the grumbling Goran through the streets. Borvald reminded me of a cross between Whiterun and Riften.
As we approached the Jarl’s residence Goran announced, “Jarl Valfred awaits you inside.”
“How does he know we are here? You are going to allow five armed strangers into his residence without you escorting them?”
Goran just stood next to the door with his arms crossed grumbling to himself again.
As I walked past him I said, “War is coming and you will all need to learn some paranoia.”
There were no guards inside the residence. In fact the only person we saw was the Jarl sitting at a table staring straight ahead. Large parts of the floor were missing so I assumed they were in the middle of renovations or repairs.
I gave the hand signal to stop then coughed.
The startled Jarl stood, approached us and asked, “I’m Jarl Valfred. Is there something I can help you with?”
“Greeting’s Jarl, my name is Marcos. Jarl Agnar asked us to inform you Jarl Yngvarr has mobilized his entire army. They had overtaken the port and held the townspeople hostage. Me and my colleagues rescued the hostages and killed many of Yngvarr’s men. They had taken the Amber Creek blacksmith’s apprentice hostage. Along with a guard we also rescued him and killed the perpetrators. They killed Brother Collins at the priory when he tried to stop them searching his quarters.”
“I figured that’s what is happening. I’ve had my city sealed because those damn bandits are everywhere and killing my people. You have proof they are Yngvarr’s men? What are they searching for?”
“The apprentice overheard them talking so did Henrik at the port. We have found documents that provide conclusive proof. Brother Thorlogh watched them kill his friend while Yngvarr watched. Yngvarr also turned up at Amber Creek demanding Jarl Agnar allow him to search the town. If I said his thugs kidnapped the apprentice to find out where the ‘Key of Leadership’ was you should know what they are searching for.”
“He wants the five keys! Does he know where the Heart of the Gods is?”
“No, he is searching for that as well.”
“Thank The Divines!”
“Have you called in all your outlying farms and homesteads? You are at war Jarl Valfred.”
“Yes, all my surviving people are inside these walls.”
We heard an explosion then screams. The unmistakable sound of battle got closer and closer to the Jarl’s residence.
I ordered, “Form a circle around the Jarl! If nobody comes to tell us what is happening in a minute or so I will go have a look.”
The Jarl looked startled as strangers suddenly became his guards.
After thirty seconds or so the door flew open. Goran found my sword at his throat and four others with weapons drawn surrounding his Jarl.
“At ease ladies! It is the Jarl’s housecarl.”
We all sheathed our weapons and Goran touched his throat where my sword had nicked it. The Sentinel separated so he could get closer to his Jarl and he quickly walked up to him.
“Goran, what is happening?” asked Jarl Valfred.
“Without warning the gates were breached by fireballs. The bandits ran in and are now killing our people. We do not have the numbers Jarl.”
“Damn it! We don’t have much time! Goran, grab my weapons and let’s go!”
As Goran fetched the weapons his Jarl said to me, “Yngvarr has the nerve to attack my city! You are right, we are at war. You have to go and tell Agnar.”
“With all due respect Jarl let us see if we can aid your people first. If not then the priority must be to get you to safety. Telling Jarl Agnar is down on the list of importance.”
“We can’t defend my people with the number of troops I have at my disposal. We will need Agnar’s help. You must get out of here and warn him and bring that help.”
“I am at your disposal Jarl but let us quickly look at the situation and make our decisions from there.”
Goran returned with the Jarl’s sword then we all streamed out the front door.
The guards and townspeople were doing well against the normal thugs hired by Yngvarr. However there were plenty of more experienced mercenaries that were taking their toll on the Jarl’s people.
The Jarl, Goran, guards and townspeople watched in awe as The Sentinel and I cut a path through the enemy without slowing.
The only pause to our progress was Celestine stopping to heal the injured.
The main gates collapsed and we had slaughtered all the enemies we could see. The priority changed to getting help from Jarl Agnar.
Jarl Valfred yelled, “Damnit, the gates are too damaged. We’ll have to go through the crypts. There is a secret exit we can take. Let’s go!”
The citizens and guards made themselves busy putting out fires and helping the injured. The first wave had been beaten but Jarl Yngvarr would have many more men willing to kill for money who would attack soon.
We followed the Jarl and Goran through some back alleys.
Just as we reached the door to the crypts there was another explosion followed by the sound of falling timbers and stone.
We waited a few seconds. The sounds of battle recommenced.
I started to run toward the battle when Lydia grabbed my arm and yelled, “No! We can fight and fight but each wave will kill more civilians and there are not enough guards to help us. Their only hope is for us to come back with Jarl Agnar’s men!”
“I know but…I have never run from a fight in my life Lydia! Not since discovering what I am. At Helgen I ran as I was ignorant.”
“This is a taste of what is to come back home. You know we will lose battles when they invade. Our allies lost battles before we won at Whiterun. This is not the place for you to die. If this battle is lost you must help the survivors win the war and they can’t do it without you!”
“I…I don’t know.”
Jarl Valfred listened to our discussion He then walked up, bowed, straightened then said, “If you were at Helgen and the Battle of Whiterun then your expertise is explained. Your identity is now obvious to me. You must have been sent by the Gods. Help our King. Help him win this war.”
Lydia said, “Come Majesty. Please.”
“Okay…let us go before the screams of the innocent change my mind!”
We all proceeded through the door and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Thankfully the sounds of slaughter were muffled.
Goran said to his Jarl, “There are too many bandits. I don’t want any following you. I’ll stay behind and hold them off.”
“But Goran, you can’t just…”
“There is no damn time to argue my Jarl. Go now!”
Goran turned to me and said, “I know what you are thinking but this is my duty, not yours. Let me do this for my Jarl, country and King. Get him out of here! Bring back more men and slaughter every single one of these scum.”
I nodded to him then said, “Christine, Iona and Jordis behind the Jarl. I will take point. Lydia behind me and the Jarl will be in the middle of some of the best warriors on Nirn.”
I farwelled Goran, “We will keep him safe Goran. May The Divines bless you and Shor welcome you to the Hall of Valour.”
He nodded and we ran forward with a sobbing Jarl and great determination.
It wasn’t long before we encountered some of Yngvarr’s thugs.
“It looks like this exit was not much of a secret Jarl Valfred. But if they appear in ones and twos they will not slow us down.”
We entered a room with shrines to all Nine Divines.
A bit further we came to a dead end but next to a hidden door was a twist handle.
The Jarl opened the door and in front of us we could see one of the five keys through an observation hole. A dividing wall separated us from it.
An Orsimer appeared and the Jarl yelled, “He is after the key. The thing on the pedestal is one of the keys!”
As he walked towards it I prepared a fireball to send him to the void. Celestine put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t. It is not a metal key but a ceramic pendant. You may destroy it!”
The Orsimer picked up the key then boasted, “Aha! You are too late if you are here to stop me. This key is mine. Yngvarr will get the Heart of the Gods and he will rule you all!”
“Lieutenant Kolgrim I assume? Do you really think you can interfere with the Gods and survive? You are dead and so is your boss. That I promise by The Divines.”
Kolgrim stared at me. My Dovah was begging to turn him to bloody pulp with Unrelenting Force. He finally turned and walked away laughing.
Jarl Valfred said, “You were right about the ‘Heart of the Gods’ and the five keys. Yngvarr must have found the relic. Come, we must hurry.”
“The Heart of the Gods will do him no good Jarl. It was made for Jarl Agnar’s bloodline just like the Amulet of the Kings could only be worn by those of the Septim bloodline. It may even kill him if he touches it. But I doubt he has found it yet. It will not make him immortal or give him powers.”
We ran past and through many caverns full of barrels. Within those barrels was oil and black powder.
“What are they planning?” asked Jarl Valfred.
“They are going to destroy your whole city. I bet Yngvarr is just waiting for Kolgrim to return with the key.”
He desperately asked, “Can we stop it?”
“We could if we had time to search and figure out how he is going to detonate them. See the tents? They must have been setting this up for a long time Jarl. Kolgrim might only be seconds away from signalling his success and then we would be vaporised by this much explosive force. We have no choice but to continue to the exit so run. Run as fast as you have ever done in your life!”
We followed a stream that led us to the exit. We ran outside and found ourselves on a cliff overlooking a deep pond.
“You and your companions will have to jump your Majesty. You need to see if Jarl Agnar and his men can get here before it is too late. Even if my city becomes a pile of rubble they need to know what has happened.”
“Come with us Jarl. There is no need to die here. Survivors will need you. Jarl Agnar will need you.”
“I can’t. I must go in and see if I can stop the explosion. You understand now go!”
Lydia yelled, “Jump off that fucking cliff or we will throw you off Wulf!”
I pleaded, “Listen. They are still fighting. Yngvarr would not blow up his own men! Maybe I have time to stop this insanity?”
Jarl Valfred explained, “His forces are probably at the breaches stopping any of my people exiting. Soon they will start running and when far enough away they will blow this place to pieces. Go and do what you can for the people of Falskaar.”
“You don’t know…”
Lydia growled, “For the sake of Rigmor, Kintyra, The Empire, Tamriel, Nirn and Mundus accept this and save the best hope for us to survive the Akaviri war!”
I looked down and was still internally debating when somebody shoved me hard.
I plummeted and hit the water with an almighty splash.
I sunk to the bottom of the pond then the dweomer on my armour made me bob to the surface like a cork.
I swam to the shore and waited for The Sentinel to join me.
They stared at me and knew what was coming. I yelled, “Who pushed me? Which one of you made a decision for me you had no right to make? I could have done something! He said all his people had come to be safe behind the walls. All of them!”
Before any of them could answer we were knocked to the ground by a huge explosion. The ground shook for several seconds followed by an eerie silence. That was interrupted by the sound of debris falling from the sky and thumping into the ground or splashing into the pond.
The enemy must have been busy dodging the falling debris as we were.
A few seconds after the last pieces of Borvald landed nearby it erupted. The spontaneous cheering and laughter that survivors of every large battle I have fought indulge in. The difference being I was on the losing side. The difference being they were cheering the destruction of an entire city and its residents.
I stood staring at the flames but from our vantage point the destruction was hidden from us. Lydia walked up and said quietly, “Jarl Valfred pushed you. Then he ran back inside as he thought was his duty. You saw two brave men accept their fate today. Any of The Sentinel are willing to do the same for you and our Queen and soon to be born Princess. If he hadn’t pushed you I would have. He saved you from yourself and that is the greatest enemy you have. Now thank him by doing what he asked of you.”
I looked at the map and decided the best path to Amber Creek. I started running and The Sentinel struggled to keep up. I spent most of the journey battling with my Dovah. He wanted to turn back and kill and not stop killing till Yngvarr and his forces were smears on the landscape and the history of Falskaar.
By the time we reached Karl Agnar’s residence sadness and anger had been replaced by determination. When the fighting starts my Dovah can get his revenge.
We entered but there was nobody to be seen. The Jarl called us from his bedroom where he had been preparing to get much needed sleep.
When he saw me his face dropped. There was much trepidation in his voice when he asked, “Did you speak to Valfred?”
“I am so sorry Jarl Agnar. The city of Borvald is no more. The Jarl and his citizens are dead. Yngvarr got what he wanted but still blew the place sky high. There was no need. It was senseless slaughter and he will suffer in The Void for all eternity after he watches me destroy his army and plans.”
“What!? That son of a bitch! Did you talk to Valfred before the attack?”
“Yes and he had recalled all of his people into the city to keep them safe. The attack was not necessary. Yngvarr had sent the leader of his mercenaries, Lieutenant Kolgrim, to the crypts where the key was kept. They spent many days setting up the explosives. He never intended to demand Jarl Valfred let him search. All along he planned to kill them all.”
“Do you know the story of the five keys and the Heart of the Gods?”
“When your predecessor Olav set out to find a safe place for your people to live a Dovah by the name of Ahkrinviing saw him and bid him follow. They made their way to a huge cavern that had warm springs running through it. The cavern was part of a structure designed for the worship of Gods of many pantheons, not just The Nine.
Your myths say Ahkrinviing tore out his heart and gave it to Olav. I believe he just handed him solidified blood which looked like a large gem. Similar as to how the Red Ruby in the Amulet of the Kings was formed.
Like the Stones of the Nine Towers this gem, the Heart of the Gods, seems to regulate the climate to suit the inhabitants of an area. Being close to the warm springs aided the dweomer with this transformation. So a large area of Falskaar turned from snow and ice covered wasteland to a temperate climate that Nords were used to. It could not transform the entire island. It has no tower above. Therefore the fourth hold of Falskaar is still frozen and uninhabitable.
The Heart of the Gods has the ability to do this because Ahkrinviing was originally a leader of the Dov under Alduin but changed allegiance. He became an Avatar of Shor and carried his Lord’s blood within him. Shor and Lorkhan are the same being. Lorkhan’s blood created the Red Ruby and the Heart of the Gods.
Shor tasked Ahkrinviing with protecting the mortals who lived on Falskaar during the Dragon Wars. Ahkrinviing did this by defeating all other dragons with his superior Thu’um and either killed them or drove them away.
When the original inhabitants fled or died out the duty of Ahkrinviing was not over. When your people arrived six hundred years ago he selected Olav as the mortal leader of the new inhabitants. Yngvarr’s family are usurpers trying to claim a throne that is yours by Divine Right.
The climate transformation was not instantaneous. Five guardians watched over the Heart of the Gods during this time. When it was complete they sealed the relic away with five keys.”
“You have learnt well. The keys are of leadership, wealth, wisdom, strength and shelter. Please, have a seat in the main room and I’ll call a meeting to inform the others. We will develop a plan from there.”
I sat and soon the housecarls, Brother Thorlogh and Jarl Agnar joined me.
- Svegard: What’s wrong Agnar?
- Agnar: Yngvarr has attacked Borvald.
- Ulgar: What!?
- Svegard: Why are we sitting here then? We must go help defend Borvald!
- Wulf: There is no Borvald. The city and its inhabitants were blown to pieces by Yngvarr. For no reason as he had what he wanted. His army will no longer be there.
- Ulgar: Do you believe this man Agnar? We don’t even know him.
- Wulf: I just watched brave men die and heard the screams of the people. Saw a city blown to pieces and heard Yngvarr’s men cheering about it. We have killed hundreds in the last few days and you are yet to wet your sword. We are here because Lord Shor asked us to be here and you have no right to question my honesty.
- Ulgar: I apologise. It is just that son of a bitch has destroyed a city our ancestors built 600 years ago. He has destroyed a part of our history.
- Thorlogh: It is just like you to care about stupid buildings! What about those living in the city?
- Ulgar: Stupid buildings!?
- Thorlogh: Many innocent people died today. They are who…
- Wulf: SHUT UP! If neither of you have anything to contribute then leave. What next Jarl Agnar?
- Agnar: The Traveller is right. We have lost many innocent kinsmen and much of our heritage. Let us not argue about relative importance.
- Thorlogh: Why would he do such a thing?
- Agnar: As The Traveller has said from early on, he is after the Heart of the Gods.
- Ulgar: Divines save us…
- Agnar: He now has the Key of Shelter and may be going for the other keys as well.
- Thorlogh: We have to get the other keys before he does. If Yngvarr gets the Heart of the Gods he will be immortal. We must stop him!
- Wulf: It is that sort of ignorant bullshit that has caused this problem. On what basis do you claim this relic will make him immortal? Where is it written or even suggested?
- Thorlogh: It is common knowledge.
- Wulf: So there is nothing historical to support this myth. Just a rumour passed on from generation to generation. A rumour that Yngvarr believes and has started this horror based on it. It is not a fact!
- Thorlogh: How do you know?
- Wulf: Do you think Lord Shor asked us to come here because we are just five well-dressed adventurers? I know far more about the Gods, war, magicka and ancient relics than any of you by a very large margin. We must deal with facts not hearsay and wild conjecture.
- Agnar: What powers would the Heart of the Gods give him?
- Wulf: The Heart was made for the Borvaldur family. Can you remember what was odd when Olav spoke to Ahkrinviing?
- Thorlogh: He could understand and speak the dragon’s language.
- Wulf: Yes. It is called Dovahzul and very few mortals can understand it. Even less can speak it.
- Thorlogh: So the power of the Heart enabled this?
- Wulf: I do not think so. I think the blessing of Lord Shor allows it. Let me try something.
I wondered if speaking Dovahzul would give away my identity. I decided I can explain it as something I studied.
- Wulf: Dreh hi mindoraan zu’u Bronjun?
- Agnar: Yes, I can understand you but how?
- Wulf: Can anybody else on the table tell me what I said?
There were blank looks all around. Then a boy’s voice said, “I can!”
- Agnar: Wilhard, I have warned you against listening in on my meetings.
- Wilhard: I want to be more than a warrior. I do sword and bow practice every day. When do I get strategy and diplomacy practice?
- Agnar: You win but keep quiet.
- Wulf: I just spoke to Jarl Agnar in the language of the dragons and both he and our sneaky eavesdropper understood. This is because they carry in their blood the blessing of Lord Shor himself.
- Agnar: So when you say we rule by Divine Right…
- Wulf: The same as the Septim’s ruled the Empire by Divine Right. Nobody else but a Septim could wear the Amulet of Kings. Your family was chosen to rule by a God and probably the only ones who could handle the Heart safely.
- Thorlogh: The power of the Red Diamond was used for evil. Why not the Heart of the Gods?
- Wulf: It took some of the most powerful mages in history plus knowledge imparted by Daedric Princes to abuse the power of the Red Diamond. I have seen only average magicka use within Yngvarr’s ranks and no sign of Daedric Prince involvement.
- Agnar: So if he wanted to use it he would need help from somebody else. Somebody powerful.
- Wulf: Yes, that is if he can even touch it. However if he were to remove the Heart somehow?
- Agnar: Depending on how far he took it, Falskaar could turn back into a frozen wasteland.
- Wulf: So for that reason we must stop him. Not the false idea he will become immortal.
- Thorlogh: So all of this death and destruction is for nothing. He will not gain anything from it!
- Wulf: That is not uncommon in the histories of Nirn.
- Ulgar: I thought the Heart was just a myth…a legend.
- Wulf: Many in Skyrim thought the same of dragons despite the evidence.
- Agnar: So did many of us Ulgar. But Yngvarr has been searching for the keys so he believes it is real. Just like he believes it will make him immortal. It is the belief that matters more than the reality at the moment.
- Wulf: I tend to believe the Heart exists. Lord Shor has shown enough interest in your fate to send us.
- Svegard: True or not he is after the keys. How do we get the other ones then?
- Agnar: Some are more obvious than others. Jalma, will you please come here.
- Jalma: What is it Agnar?
- Agnar: Your necklace please.
Jarl Agnar stood and his wife Jalma walked up to him. She removed her necklace and passed it to him. The Jarl kissed her hand then sat back down.
- Agnar: This necklace was passed on to each Jarl’s wife so that it would remain safe.
- Wulf: We have the Key of Leadership. Yngvarr got the Key of Shelter from Borvald. I assume there was one in Staalgarde?
- Agnar: The Key of Wealth was there. We must assume he has that one.
- Wulf: So where are the other two kept?
- Thorlogh: I think I know where they are. The Key of Wisdom would be held by the court wizards. It should be in Kalrun, our old monastery. The Key of Strength was held by the Hjorgunnars. It was most likely locked in the crypts of Hjorgunnar Manor when they left.
- Ulgar: Ha! Then what are we waiting for?
- Svegard: Let’s get those keys!
- Agnar: Very well. We’ll split up to save time.
- Wulf: Why do you want to get these keys?
- Agnar: If Yngvarr gets all of the keys and knows where the heart is he could do great harm.
- Wulf: Even if he retrieved those two keys he will not have all five. You have one! Why risk your lives in the pursuit of something not necessary? Logically we should be finding out where the Heart of the Gods is located and head there.
- Agnar: I feel uncomfortable leaving those two keys to Yngvarr.
- Wulf: He may not even know where those two keys are and if we collect them we may actually be doing the enemy a favour! Not only that he may still think the Key of Leadership is somewhere in Amber Creek. He may march his army here and not ask to look this time.
- Ulgar: He has a point Agnar.
- Agnar: Okay, let him lose men getting those two keys. How do we find the Heart of the Gods?
- Thorlogh: The Heart Chamber is the name of the underground cavern where they stored the Heart of the Gods.
- Wulf: So how do we find it?
- Thorlogh: The old scholars of Falskaar used to study in an old ruin to the Northwest.
- Svegard: Vizemundsted. We have all heard the stories.
- Ulgar: Yeah the scholars were there until the place awakened and the Dwemer tech crushed the poor little guys.
- Thorlogh: There was a book. Documentation on the Heart Chamber. It contained all sorts of information including its location.
- Wulf: We shall go and get the book but realise this. We have not slept since we stepped foot in Falskaar! We need to rest for a few hours before starting the journey.
- Agnar: There is an unoccupied house in the north-west corner of the city. It has room to bunk all of you down and is in a quiet area.
- Wulf: Okay, I shall get some information from Brother Thorlogh if you all wish to get busy doing something else.
- Agnar: May the Divines protect you on your journey Traveller.
Everybody stood. Jarl Agnar came over and handed me the keys to the house. He then left with his housecarls.
I asked Brother Thorlogh, “What exactly were the scholars doing in Vizemundsted?”
“They used it as a library. However in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the third era something awakened in the ruin. All the Dwemer machinery came to life killing most of the scholars. Only one man made it out alive and most of the history and knowledge was lost. As far as we know, nobody has been inside since. A tragedy really…”
“We shall concentrate on getting the book. Maybe we shall discover the cause of the awakening and recover other knowledge but that is not a priority. I see it is marked on my map. How do we get inside?”
“The only person who escaped was a scholar called Jannavir. He wrote that the actual entrance he escaped from automatically sealed behind him. My research has led me to believe you can access it by going through Watervine Chasm to the west.”
“That is also on my map.”
“It connects to a massive network of caverns, underground rivers and ruins. Hopefully there should be a way into Vizemundsted.”
“What is the book called?”
“It is called, ‘The Heart Chamber’.”
“I should have guessed. This is a long journey Brother Thorlogh and Dwemer ruins are often frustrating with their confused and illogical layout. We shall be as quick as we can once we leave and will rush straight back when we obtain the book.”
“You seem confident of success.”
“I have been in countless Dwemer ruins. They bore me and provide no challenge to us. We will find the book.”
“May Shor guide your journey.”
“I hope he does since he sent us here!”
We exited the Jarl’s residence and soon found the house he mentioned.
There were plenty of beds and for the first time in ages I allowed everybody to sleep without setting a watch.
We awoke refreshed then set out for Watervine Cavern. Wild animals gave us a wide berth and we saw no signs of Yngvarr’s men on the walk. We made good time and arrived at the entrance just before 3:00PM.
Upon entering we stood and listened for a while. Above the noise of a stream voices could be heard. Just bandits or Yngvarr’s goons we could not tell.
We snuck up on many bandits. As per usual they did not see us before death struck.
They were scattered enough to indicate they were guards. All within shouting distance of one another if an enemy is encountered. It is a good idea but only if you see the enemy before you die.
We eventually entered a huge cavern with many bandits. I picked off one sentry.
From a natural bridge we spied four more. My bow made short work of them.
An Argonian mage ran towards us.
He managed to cast a shielding spell.
Then my arrow pierced his skull.
He died and we could see no more enemies.
“Is anybody else curious about that trapdoor under the water?” I asked?
We made our way down then I twisted the handle to open it.
There was nothing of use. A couple of chests held gems and gold.
We searched some of the structures. In one I found a journal which I read to The Sentinel,
“The search is going well so far. We’ve found a large open cavern and are currently staying in it. It has the start of what appear to be Nordic ruins which means we must be close. It even has some kind of a wall with an ancient language scrawled into it. Javvarn says it’s the language of the dragons…
I’ve decided to stop the group and stock up on supplies before continuing in. If the tales of this place are right we’re entering a deep catacomb that we could get stuck in for days.
We’re almost ready to move further, but we’ve hit a problem. A group of particularly nasty spiders has made the caves ahead their home. They’ve already taken one of my men sent to scout ahead. They’ve built a strong wall of web and we cannot get through without dealing with them first. To help with the fight I’ve sent men out to get more supplies.
This had better be worth it…”
Iona said, “I think they are Yngvarr’s men searching for the same thing as us.”
“More than likely as he did offer a big reward for finding the Heart or its location.”
“If they are still here and searching maybe he doesn’t know where it is?”
“Maybe he has and they haven’t been told. We are indulging in too much speculation with not enough evidence.”
I hate it when I find a destroyed Word Wall. It nags at me that perhaps there is a Shout or Word I am yet to discover.
We soon found the tunnel out of the large cavern. Celestine and I prepared lightening spells. They are the most efficient way of getting rid of spiders and their webs.
As the bandit’s journal indicated there were a lot of them!
But they did not slow us down much.
After exiting the spider lair we discovered some rickety scaffolding. It made its way over the stream we saw on entering the caverns. At the end of the scaffolding the entrance to a Nordic ruin could be seen.
Half way along the scaffolding we found another journal. It was mostly corrupted as water had been splashing on it and making the ink run.
I told The Sentinel, “Probably lots of Draugr ahead. Apparently we will be entering Nordic Halls of the Dead. Most likely full of the original inhabitants of the island before the current lot arrived six hundred years ago.”
We stood before the door. It was no different than many in Skyrim.
We entered full of confidence. Draugr never cause many problems.
Except when they are very ancient and can use the Thu’um. I was frozen in place by a Shout and The Sentinel laughed as they hacked down the rude Draugr that did it.
I recovered quickly but Jordis was also frozen by another Draugr while in the middle of laughing at me.
I unfroze her. We decided to be bit stealthier from then on.
The trouble was there were thousands of corpses any one of which could be a Draugr. They would often wait till we passed by then attack us.
Most Draugr I can take down with a single arrow. The ones in this crypt were taking four or five arrows to bring down. They were equipped with excellent weapons and shields. Celestine and I were kept busy casting healing spells as Unrelenting Force Shouts from the Draugr threw us all over the place.
I don’t know if I have explained this before but there are no dweomers that protect against the Thu’um. I have some resistance due to my dragon blood and soul but The Sentinel do not. Even the mid-range power of Draugr Thu’um hurt them more than any spell.
We slowly made our way down long corridors. Some were full of bodies and therefore Draugr.
Some were devoid of corpses which allowed us quicker passage.
Each fight with the Draugr was drawn out and lasted much longer than normal.
Eventually we found our way out and welcomed some weak skeletons for a change.
We entered a chamber full of sarcophagi. On a pedestal was a note. I warned The Sentinel, “We are surrounded by dozens of Draugr just waiting for me to read this note. If they are like the ones in the Hall of the Dead we could be in a bit of bother.”
I picked the note up then read it aloud,
“The Rite of Lord Garjeheim
- Weary warriors strong and brave,
- Guard our fair lord in his grave.
- Should a pilferer wander here,
- Payment shall be due, their life so dear!
- Buried here is our great leader,
- So woe to be to the unknown reader.
- For when disturbed his Royal Guard will rise,
- And fight the trespasser to their demise.”
As dozens of Draugr appeared I shouted, “Why can’t they just put up a ‘Do not disturb’ sign?”
It was one of the longest battles I can remember being in.
Not a single Draugr was a push over and both Celestine and I had to heal the others and ourselves several times.
I concentrated on bringing down those that could use the Thu’um as The Sentinel hacked away at any that came close.
Finally we finished and were covered in blood and gore. Iona laughed then said, “You take us to the nicest places Majesty!”
I looked around at the carnage and had never been prouder of my friends. They came through an epic battle with humour intact and relatively unscathed.
Not one of us suggested we explore the other stairways we could see and search for the resting place and treasure of Lord Garjeheim. The Royal Guards attacked and were destroyed for nothing. Their Lord’s treasure and resting place now free to be abused by any grave robbers in the future.
Behind the pedestal the note was on was a lever.
Pulling it opened a gate to a spiral stairway which then led to a maze of short tunnels and many more spiral stairways.
Just as I thought we would all collapse of boredom we encountered a door. Lydia moaned, “Give me a few seconds Wulf. I am a bit dizzy from all those stairs.”
Iona quipped, “Don’t blame the stairs. That is your natural state.”
Through the door were ice caverns.
Not long after we started finding bits and pieces of Dwemer architecture.
Eventually we came to a door leading to Vizemundsted.
Upon entering we found the place was full of steam and smoke.
The remains of many scholars were scattered amongst the ruins.
Rarely do we encounter Draugr within Dwemer ruins.
They were weak ones which was a relief after the Hall of Dead and burial crypt earlier.
None of the automatons we encountered were weak.
We discovered an intact Word Wall. From it I learned ‘Glory’, a new Power Word.
It was the first Word of a new Shout called ‘Champions Sprint’. The shout would allow me to deal far more damage in melee while taking far less damage from all sources.
Many of the ancient scholars had tried to hide. One had managed to ‘tame’ his own Dwemer Centurion. He left a note which I read aloud,
“This is it then old chap… the end. You defended me with your life, just like I built you to. I told those fools that refurbishing an old Dwemer Centurion would pay off… They even laughed when I affectionately named you Platearms. Lieutenant Platearms.
Well Lieutenant, you’ve served your purpose… It is my honour to promote you to the rank of Captain. I fear I have sustained severe injuries and will not last much longer.
Thanks again, Captain Platearms… and I’ll see you in the future.”
Lydia said, “I hope Captain Platearms took a few of the bastards with him!”
The ruins were very large but we did not take time to explore.
At the end of a corridor I could see some complex Dwemer machinery similar to the Oculory in Mzulft. There was also a very large Dwemer Centurion that would undoubtedly take a dislike to us even though we have never said a bad word about it.
As expected it charged and tried to reduce us to bloody smears with its huge hammer.
We reduced it to a pile of crumpled metal.
Upon a table was the book we had been searching for, ‘The Heart Chamber’.
“The Heart Chamber
The Heart of the Gods represents the very spirit of Falskaar. It saved us all and transformed the land. Blessed by The Divines we have flourished under its magic. But its day of use has come to an end. It is time that we retire it with honour to a place of great safety as no doubt some foul soul will try to misuse its powers.
Such a task is not easy. We must locate a place of great secrecy, and defensibility. I was lucky enough to be present through the locating of the Heart Chamber and the storing of the heart. I find it to be crucial to document the events of the hearts hiding so that if the information was ever needed some day we would have it. While this book shall be kept safe my hope is that with its help the Heart will never turn into mere legend and its location may always be known. That the key to its lock is always in hand so that if the people need it again they may use it.
The search did not take long. Olav and the others were quick to locate the ideal place. An old ruin overlooking the land. It was defensible with only two narrow valleys connecting it to the main holds and it was sturdy. We scouted Mountain Mist Temple only to find the burial grounds of many lost Nords from long ago. It was a place of respect, and honour therefore perfect to serve our needs. However the thing that made it best was that just through these brief ruins existed a great open cavern. We have deemed this cavern ‘The Heart Chamber’.
Olav has decided to seal the door using a pendant system which is not unheard of. Each of five persons of meaning will receive a pendant key. All five must then be combined to unseal the doorway leading into the chamber. The keys are named after the great virtues of this land; leadership, wealth, shelter, strength and wisdom. Olav has given the Key of Shelter to the city of Borvald as it has provided us safety and homage in the recent unsure times. He has deemed the Key of Wealth to the Unnvaldr family wishing them a life of decadence and happiness for their part in leading the search group for so many years. He has given the Key of Wisdom to his court wizard and the Key of Strength to his housecarl so that they may always be wise and strong when serving him and the people. That leaves the Key of Leadership which we have deemed only worthy to be held by Olav himself.
It is with these five keys that the Heart of the Gods will be kept safe from whatever evil may wish to obtain it. The keys will be spread and sheltered by each of their respective owners. It is my hope that they will never be needed. May this document hold true if they ever are!”
We had a quick look around the chamber then I said, “This machine may be repairable. At a guess it allows you to read Dwemer Lexicons and display the results as a projection. Maybe one day the Explorers Guild can help the locals get it up and running.”
In an alcove was a Dwemer Lift which, to our surprise, worked. We found ourselves above ground again.
There were a few ancient Dwemer houses surrounding the lift exit. To explore them some trolls had to vacate.
In one we found a book written about the only person to escape the massacre all those years ago.
“A Dark Awakening by Matthias Janavrr
In 137 of the Third Era, the Dwemer automatons within Vizemundsted sprung to life slaughtering all in their path. Only one person escaped alive. This is the first hand account of the grim events that occurred on that day as told by sole survivor, Jannaviir Barrof.
I walked out into the main chamber of the complex. I was preparing to file another chapter of history regarding the origins of Vizemundsted, the Dwemer structure that I stood in now. It was early in the morning perhaps around seven-thirty. Vegaz waved at me as I approached her, I nodded a friendly greeting in return.
‘Filing yet another completed work?’ She asked.
‘Why, yes I am.’ I replied.
I handed her the large, leather-bound book. The front read ‘Origins of Dwemer in Falskaar’ in large gold-leafed letters. She gazed over the cover for a short while, then opened it and flicked through the pages, muttering to herself as she did.
‘Very nice.’ she said, clearly intrigued by the size of the book and the amount of knowledge it must contain.
‘You can read it after Penjar documents it.’ I said. She nodded with satisfaction and handed the book back.
I continued on my way down to the main lexicon so the book could be transcribed into the records, finally gaining its place on the shelves after so much hard work.
I reached the bottom of the main stairs when there was a violent rumble and the entire chamber shook. Everyone exchanged worried glances. We all waited and after a short pause slowly began resuming our tasks.
It was just as we were doing so that the doors at the top of the stairs burst open and a fellow scholar clambered through. He was on fire and he promptly ran right into the railing flipping over it. As he did he released a horrifying scream, smashing into the tables below. We all stared in horror when suddenly through the door came three Dwemer Spheres.
They paused for a moment clicking, chattering and then at once they seemed to communicate. Two rolled off the balcony into the centre of the room and the third down the stairs straight at me. My immediate thought was to locate Vegaz. She was pregnant with our first child and I had to get her away from what was surely to become a massacre.
I saw her across the chamber huddled under a table. Two scholars stood over her, their spells already blasting away at the spheres. I broke out in a sprint towards her, running right past one of the spheres that had clambered down from the ledge above. I saw the second sphere heading straight for her. It raised its arm then mutilated one of the scholars before quickly doing the same to the other. I readied a spell in my hand. I had to save her!
Just before I reached the sphere I released the pent up magic from my palm. It exploded in front of me, the warm flames caressing my face. The sphere rolled back a few feet but couldn’t avoid me and I slammed into it knocking it over. I quickly fired another spell into where its head appeared to be. It screeched and swivelled then lay still.
I got up off of the mangled contraption and looked over to Vegaz. In my haste I had forgotten about the third sphere that had headed after me down the stairs. In my concentration it had sped past me and was already to her. She screamed as it picked her up by the neck and looked menacingly towards me.
I put my hands together, building the largest fireball I could, when I suddenly heard a deafening slam. I was distracted and turned my head to the left only to see a massive Dwemer Centurion looming over me. It clattered, shooting steam from its shoulder and raised its hand. I had no choice but to unleash the fireball into its chest cascading flames everywhere. But it had little effect and the monstrosity brought its arm down across my chest flinging me across the room and into the wall.
I blacked out.
When I awoke the air was stale with smoke among several other vile scents. I leaned up and a sharp pain shot down my back. I gently worked myself free from some of the rubble covering me and began forming a basic healing spell in my hands. I let the magic work itself over me and began feeling better.
After a few minutes sitting alone in the chamber, illuminated only by the faint glow of my spell, I stood up. I had no idea what time it was or if any Dwarven automatons were near but I knew one thing was certain. I had to get out. I quickly made my way up the main stairs and back through the door from where my en-flamed colleague had appeared earlier. I began my ascent towards the surface, pausing at every sound I heard, and praying to the Nine that someone else had survived.
But my trip came to an abrupt halt when I discovered that the main entry tunnel had collapsed. I was stuck, unless… Yes, I thought to myself, there was an elevator in the lower levels, back across the main chamber. It went to the surface. I could use it to escape and bring word of what had happened to Amber Creek. I worked my way back into the main chamber and realised the smell was rotting flesh. I started down the steps when a group of Dwarven spiders appeared at the far end of the chamber. They clambered around for a bit before scurrying back down the hallway.
I made my way across the chamber to the far hall. The lexicon was just ahead and in a small hallway off that room was the elevator I needed to reach. However, as I entered the final large chamber, I froze. In the centre of the room was the Centurion. It stood there quietly rumbling. I made my way carefully along the wall so as to stay as far away from it as possible. I had made it about half way to the hallway when the Centurion abruptly snapped up and its head started searching the room. I then heard a loud clattering behind and was horrified to see the group of spiderbots heading directly towards me.
The Centurion then turned around and began walking straight for me as well.
The Centurion shrieked as it approached and with its first call at least a dozen more spiderbots filtered into the room along with a couple spheres. I broke out into a hard sprint for the second time that day and headed straight for the elevator. The Centurion picked up speed rushing to cut me off. It crushed spiderbots under its feet as it ran and swatted spheres aside. I threw a few fireballs at it but they erupted doing absolutely nothing.
I ran faster and the Centurion powered ahead at full speed. If it caught me it was going to tear me apart. As I neared the hallway so did the Centurion so I closed my eyes and leaned forward even farther. I charged another spell in my palms, this time of ice. Just as I reached the entrance to the hallway I dove into it. Time seemed to slow. I opened my eyes to see the Centurion just feet away bringing up its arm to swat me down like a fly.
It roared with a rage that seemed almost human among its clattering gears and grunting pistons. Just as I passed through the horizon of the opening, I aimed my hands directly at its chest and let the spell go.
I heard it impact, a frigid blast and spine shattering shock hit me, boosting me into the hallway. Ice shards rained down upon me and I covered my face and yelled as I was blasted with freezing air and razor sharp ice.
As soon as the barrage ended I got to my feet and turned to face the doorway. To my luck the Centurion was just big enough to get jammed in the opening. It sat there calmly grinding as its red eyes stared me down. I wondered why it wasn’t swatting at me, then I realized, my spell had been amplified, its intensity built up along with my own adrenaline. The Centurion was frozen in place. It couldn’t move.
I sighed in relief and headed down the hallway. I entered the elevator and pulled the lever. As it began grinding and sprung into life I leaned against the wall then slid down to the floor. I stared down the hall as the Centurion continued to fix its gaze on me. The elevator jolted and began moving upward. I watched as the hallway lowered and the Centurion slipped out of sight. After what seemed like an eternity the sliding walls in front of me burst open to reveal daylight. I slowly got up, opened the gate then walked out of the elevator.
I made it perhaps fifteen feet before I collapsed and passed out. When I woke up I was in the care of a hunter out for the afternoon from Amber Creek.
That was almost forty years ago. Forty years of rebuilding what I could. The events of that day shattered my spirit in a way that meant most of the knowledge I had spent so long learning was gone from my mind. I rewrote what I could to the best of my abilities. But the books that resulted were far fewer and less detailed than those contained within Vizemundsted. Not a single other person emerged from those depths. I was the only one to survive.
To this day I haven’t a clue what caused the dark awakening in Vizemundsted. We lived in the hallowed halls of that place for so long. Even my elaborate studies of its history are no help in finding the cause of our misfortune. Perhaps someday someone can return. With any luck, they will find a bastion of knowledge and history the likes of which could not be found anywhere else in the great land of Falskaar.”
After I finished reading it I announced, “If we can we will return with Brother Thorlogh to the Dwemer ruins and see if we can solve the mystery of the portal we came through and why the automatons attacked here.”
We rushed back to Amber Creek. There were corpses of guards and Yngvarr’s men scattered through the streets. Jarl Agnar, his housecarls and Brother Thorlogh were gathered together.
We ran to them,
- Wulf: Did Yngvarr attack Amber Creek like we feared he would?
- Agnar: Yes and he has crossed yet another line. They attacked and while we were busy fighting his men some snuck past us. They kidnapped Jalma and Wilhard!
- Wulf: We shall get them back Jarl Agnar. That I promise on The Divines.
- Agnar: Yes, yes we are going to get them back!
- Thorlogh: Do you have some good news for us? Did you find the book?
I handed the book to Brother Thorlogh.
- Wulf: Finding the Heart Chamber is nowhere near as important as getting the Jarl’s family back!
- Thorlogh: Yes it is but please wait a minute or two…
- Agnar: We cannot waste time Thorlogh!
- Thorlogh: Hmmm…Interesting…
- Wulf: I will shove that book up your rectum in a second.
- Thorlogh: Good news everyone. It lists the location of the Heart Chamber and much else. This is wonderful!
- Wulf: Mind if I do not get over excited when there is a woman and child in the hands of those bastards! Close the fucking book and show some decency!
- Agnar: No more wasting time. We are going to Fort Urokk to save my wife and child.
- Wulf: How do you know they are there?
- Agnar: One of Yngvarr’s men told us just before we slit his throat.
- Wulf: It could be a trap. We will run ahead as you four travel much slower than we can. When we get there we will scout around a bit.
- Agnar: Have a look around but meet us at the base of the cliffs. I know a way in.
The Jarl’s group set off while I checked our map. Then we set off at full pace, overtook them and easily outpaced them.
We had to cross a river and the best ford was just before a waterfall. There was a tower overlooking the ford full of bandits. We decided to clear them out so the Jarl’s group did not have to.
They were pretty average bandit types. Yngvarr better have more impressive troops than these.
We had a good reconnoitre of the fort before Jarl Agnar and men arrived. There were no patrols or sentries we could see.
I told the Jarl, “Let us lead. We will get to your family much faster and you will be in far less danger.”
“You do not have much faith in our abilities do you?”
“I know ours Jarl Agnar. The warriors with me have fought by my side against dragons, Daedra in Oblivion and in battles where the soldiers involved outnumber the population of Falskaar. If you want to get to your family fast follow us!”
The Jarl pointed to an old sewer entrance, “We will enter through there and hope it is lightly guarded. Perhaps we can get in without alarming the whole fort.”
I moved the grate aside then we all quickly but quietly climbed down a small ladder into the rather pungent sewer.
In his eagerness to get to his family the Jarl rushed ahead. He was soon brought down by enemy sentries.
I killed them then healed him.
“Stay behind us Jarl Agnar. You just saw me cut down the two that almost killed you. Stay behind!”
I let my Dovah loose and those behind witnessed what The Champion of the Divines can do.
Not a single enemy lasted more than a second as I cut a swath through dozens.
Nobody else bloodied there weapons on our way to the jail holding the Jarl’s family.
- Agnar: Jalma! Wilhard! You’re alright!
- Wilhard: Wow! Everyone is here! Brother Thorlogh, Svegard, Ulgar! Even The Traveller and his friends! These guys are in big trouble now!
- Wulf: Let me get you out of there!
I walked up to the prison door, studied the lock for a few seconds then picked it within five seconds.
I handed Wilhard my spare knife.
Lydia ran back, retrieved a sword from a bandit then handed it to Jalma.
- Wulf: Wilhard, you are only to use the knife if a bad guy gets close and tries to hurt you. You are not to run and try to attack anybody okay?
- Wilhard: Can you teach me how to pick locks like that?
- Agnar: I don’t think that is a skill you need. Now do as The Traveller says Wilhard and only use the knife for defending yourself.
- Wulf: That is a very good knife Wilhard. If I see you have done as asked you can keep it after we get out of here.
- Wilhard: Wow!
- Agnar: Jalma, stick with Wilhard. I hope you are not too rusty with the sword.
- Jalma: You put the pointy end into the bad person’s soft bits.
- Agnar: Good enough.
- Lydia: We have sealed the door behind us.
- Agnar: They can’t ambush us but they know we are here. We do not have much time.
There were three doors to the prison. There was the one The Sentinel had sealed, another on the left and a larger one in the middle of the wall opposite the cells. I tried a key I found on one of the nearby corpses.
- Wulf: I retrieved a key from one of the dead and it opens the door to the left, not the larger one in front of you. I suggest I go ahead and clear the path. My companions will stay here to guard you and your family. That way your family is in far less danger Jarl Agnar.
- Agnar: We still do not know who you are Traveller but I have never seen such skill in battle. And you healed me so are also a mage. Then you just picked that lock like a thief.
- Lydia: He can also pat his head and rub his belly at the same time!
I instructed The Sentinel, “See if you can find a way through the other door as two escape routes are always better than one.”
As I passed Wilhard he was concentrating on the rub belly, pat head skill.
I exited the door to the left. My Dovah came to the fore again.
It was slaughter and this time I allowed the Dovah to taunt and laugh as lives were snuffed out.
Relentless, unstoppable, terrifying death stalked the halls of Fort Urokk.
I came to a ladder and trapdoor which I assumed would lead to the Fort’s Courtyard.
It did and Lieutenant Kolgrim was there to greet me.
“Hey look, it is Yngvarr’s girlfriend!”
“You may be able to break into my fort but you’ll never get the key! I’ll crush your skull and feed your body to the wolves!’
I let the fool charge me then kept parrying his dual axes till he almost collapsed with exhaustion.
I cut across his belly and he dropped to his knees.
“How disappointing was that? If you are the best Yngvarr has got I might die of boredom.”
“Who are you?”
“I am your worst nightmare.”
He was still clutching both axes so I sent them flying with two swipes of my shield.
I ended his life by slicing his throat open.
He had mentioned a key so I searched him. I found the Key of Shelter on his corpse.
I returned the way I had come. Everybody was standing around waiting for me.
“Jarl Agnar, I killed all that way but it leads to an enclosed courtyard.”
“Well, we managed to get the door open and it leads to the main courtyard.”
I handed Jarl Agnar the Key of Shelter, “I killed Kolgrim. That is the key he stole from Borvald.”
“So now we have two keys but as you have pointed out before the only important thing is Yngvarr does not have all five.”
“With the death of Kolgrim the thugs in this fort are without a leader. They must be so confused. What do you say we put them out of their misery?”
“Well, you guys heard The Traveller. The Lieutenant is dead. Let’s show these bastards what we are made of!”
I added, “He was no Lieutenant and these are not soldiers we face. They are mercenary scum.”
We made our way outside and I watched the Jarl and his men fight with Iona, Celestine and Jordis beside them. Lydia and I guarded Jalma and Wilhard.
During the fighting Wilhard watched the slaughter with horror etched on his face. He blocked his ears with his hands to drown out the screams and pleas for mercy. He vomited when the smell of punctured bowels and blood reached him. He ended up sobbing into his mother’s dress.
I had to heal Unbar once and Celestine healed Svegard twice. The fact is without the Sentinel helping them they would have all died.
When the fighting was over we found ourselves at the main gate. I told them to get ready as I could hear troops on the other side.
I walked up to Wilhard and told him, “It is a harsh lesson for a boy your age but what you saw, heard and smelt is the reality of war. It is not all glory and those who drink lots of mead and boast about it are mostly trying to forget this reality. Become the best warrior you can if you wish but always remember what your first battle was like. You can keep the dagger.”
I pulled a lever to unlock the gate. We exited to find Yngvarr with his elite troops waiting for us. They slowly moved forward.
I hand signalled to The Sentinel to keep their weapons sheathed.
Lydia whispered, “We could kill all of them in seconds. Why aren’t we?”
“For Yngvarr’s family never to try this again they must learn their claim is without merit or hope. We must let this play out to the end for I have a feeling Lord Shor has something special in mind.”
“As always I trust your instincts. But I just want to tear his head off!”
“His time will come Lydia and I guarantee he will be screaming in terror before being sent to The Void. Just remember who the guardian of this island is.”
They stopped before us. Yngvarr started with the posturing,
- Yngvarr: Ah, Agnar. What are you doing here? Oh, of course, flocking to help the people.
- Wulf: Careful Jarl Agnar. This turd is so boring you may fall asleep on the spot.
- Yngvarr: Quiet or I will have my men kill you where you stand!
- Wulf: See this group of people before you. We just killed dozens of your men and not a scratch amongst us. You are alive because I allow it for the moment.
Yngvarr stared at us and realised I told the truth. If dozens fell before us what hope does the little band in front of us have?
- Lydia: But they have black uniforms and anvils on their shields. They must be his best troops. We should be terrified.
- Iona: I am shaking in my boots. Damn cold weather.
- Wulf: Kolgrim shit himself before I killed him. Will you do the same Yngvarr? But you are safe for now as I do not wish to risk a lucky shot hitting Wilhard or his mother.
- Agnar: This is between you and me Yngvarr.
- Yngvarr: Oh, but it really isn’t. You asked for help from Thorlogh and the Hjorgunnars.
Yngvarr dismounted then walked towards the Jarl. I yawned with the smallest bit of Thu’um to amplify it. Wilhard started to giggle.
- Yngvarr: You got them involved Agnar. If they die in this war it’s all on you.
- Wulf: Shame on you for having loyal friends Agnar. You should have paid for pretend ones like this idiot.
- Svegard: Don’t listen to him Agnar!
- Yngvarr: Does he really have you two wrapped around his finger? How long are you going to let him pull your strings? Hmm?
- Wulf: I believe it is the first time they have joined their rightful king in many years. A distinct lack of string pulling involved.
- Yngvarr: Ah yes, the prophetic ‘Traveller’ and friends. Do these Nords think this is their homeland as well or something? Go back to Skyrim.
- Wulf: I am not a Nord you moron and I do not come from Skyrim. Guess again.
- Yngvarr: I tell you what Agnar. I’ll let your friends and family go if you give me the keys.
- Thorlogh: No!
- Jalma: Don’t do it Agnar!
- Wulf: Remember what I told you about Divine Right. Give him the keys. They will do him no good. This is I swear on The Divines.
- Yngvarr: You Agnar I will not let go. You’ve orchestrated all of this! You have caused me far too much trouble.
- Ulgar: Don’t Agnar. He won’t let us go!
- Svegard: He is not a man of his word.
I signalled to The Sentinel to draw bows and prepare spells then nodded towards Yngvarr. He looked nervously at the nocked arrows and lightning dancing across Celestine’s fingers.
- Wulf: Hand him the keys if you wish Agnar. That is your call. But if any of his men try to harm you Yngvarr will die before they take a step or draw a bow.
- Agnar: I trust what you say is true Traveller.
- Wulf: Let him ride away thinking this is a triumph when we have slowly decimated his army of thugs.
- Agnar: Just know this Yngvarr. If you killed me it will only be your undoing. My people will keep fighting in my stead and in my memory. Do you know why? It’s because as their leader, I served them. A king is only as strong as his loyalty towards his people. You lie and you trick your people. You are not a king. You are not worthy of the Falskaar throne!
- Wulf: Lord Shor judged his family not worthy. He tries to deny the Gods.
His men started to look at each other. Doubt was creeping in and Yngvarr was wise enough to know it.
- Agnar: I help my people when they need me and let them rule themselves when they don’t. But above all I defend them.
- Wulf: He has fought for his people. They do the same for him. No payment required.
- Thorlogh: There has to be another way!
- Yngvarr: Oh trust me, there is no other way.
- Wulf: One wrong move from you or your men Yngvarr and you will look like a porcupine.
Jarl Agnar handed over the keys then Yngvarr mounted his horse.
As he turned and rode off I said, “Let him go. Draw swords.”
When Yngvarr thought he was far enough away he yelled, “Kill them all!”
Ulgar said, “This is going to be fun!”
Yngvarr’s men lasted seconds. Nearly all brought down by me and The Sentinel.
I confronted Ulgar and yelled at him, “You would have died earlier if not for us. You would have died just now if not for us. These men had superior skills than you! There is nothing fun about having to kill. Sometimes it is necessary but it is never fun!”
Ulgar stepped back in alarm. Lydia put her hand on my shoulder.
She said, “We probably have a lot more killing to do before this is over. He may get to see friends die. Then he will see how much fun it is.”
“Maybe I can take him for a tour of Borvald!”
Brother Thorlogh demanded, “Why did you not kill him Traveller? Why let him go?”
Jarl Agnar replied, “He has not led us astray yet.”
“If I killed him another member of his family will try again sooner or later. While they think they have a right to the throne they will always be a danger. Yngvarr has to learn he has no right. His men have to learn the same lesson. If Lord Shor just wanted me to come here and massacre Yngvarr and his men I would have done so and it would have been accomplished by now. Let it play out to the end.”
“What is the end?” asked Brother Thorlogh.
“I do not know right now what that is but killing him just then was not it. As Lydia just said, there may be a lot more killing before then. I would not let that happen if I was not sure it was the path we have to take.”
I said to Jarl Agnar, “Make your plans Jarl and we will aid you the best we can.”
“Head back to Amber Creek. We haven’t got much time. Yngvarr has all five keys and probably knows where the Heart is. My men and I will make our plans on the way there. We are going to gather our army and end this once and for all. The details I will let you know later.”
As the Jarl and his men started the long trek back to Amber Creek I looked at some of the carnage. These men showed doubt when I mentioned Divine Right. Maybe we will not have to kill them all.
We followed the Jarl and his men from a discrete distance.
Lydia ran beside me and asked, “You are allowing the Jarl and his men to plan without relying on your input aren’t you?”
“Yes and for several reasons. They know more about the terrain and available forces than I do. The Jarl’s army will feel more confident if they know he has planned the battles rather than some strangers in weird armour. Most importantly of all I want us to be in the histories as great troops. Their King should be in the history books as the one to design the strategy and lead the battles.”
“But at the end?”
“Then Lord Shor and the Champion of The Divines will be recorded as conforming Divine Right to rule upon Agnar’s family once more. Never again will anybody challenge it.”
Half way to Amber Creek we saw Ulgar take a different direction. Part of their plan we assumed.
We arrived in Amber Creek not far behind the Jarl and his men.
We entered his home. I immediately went up to the king and asked, “What is your plan Jarl?”
“I am gathering all of my forces which will make a fair sized army all told. We are going to siege Staalgarde. It lies on the far side of the Emerald Valley. We need a route through the valley cleared.”
“That is where Ulgar went. You wish us to join him and clear that route?”
“Yes and in the meantime Thorlogh, Svegard and I will stay here to help prepare everything. Ulgar will meet you at the base of the hill below the Emerald Valley Gates. He will be there with a small group of soldiers to assist. Clear the path into the valley then we can then set up our attack camps.”
“We shall do this and they will start to fear your army before it even arrives.”
“Now go, we haven’t much time. If you’ll excuse me I must gather my warcrest and say goodbye to my family.”
“I am so glad we got them home safely. No matter what happens that was a great victory in itself.”
The Jarl turned his head so I could not see the tears.
The Sentinel and I left his house and Amber Creek then made good time to the meeting point. Ulgar was waiting with half a dozen soldiers.
Ulgar explained, “There is no time to waste. There is a small fort up the hill with a few men in it and a camp further down the path. Once we have cleared both areas I will send a runner to let Agnar know it’s clear so the troops can move in.”
“Just one question Ulgar. Why would this small group have more chance of clearing a path than the entire army?”
“It does not matter. It is what your King wants so it is what we will do. But first let me invite a couple more helpers.”
I summoned two Dragon Priests. Agnar looked worried.
“Don’t worry. They are evil and were servants of the Dov during the Dragon Wars. But they now obey me and will happily incinerate, freeze and electrocute Yngvarr’s men. We really don’t need them but they scare the crap out of mercenaries.”
“I can see why. Ready?”
I let my Dovah loose again.
The Sentinel and I were way ahead of Agnar and the soldiers even though we had to kill all the way through the valley.
We waited before the entrance of the fort for them to catch up.
Agnar and the soldiers finally got to engage some enemy in the fort and did well. When we left the fort the slaughter continued till all opposition was dead. We stood amongst the small camp.
Agnar said, “You and you friends made that look easy! Now comes the hard part. I have sent a runner to inform Agnar to assemble. Let’s go join them.”
“Have no fear Ulgar. The Gods are on your King’s side. You have seen a fraction of what we can do if things look grim. His men love Agnar and the mercenaries love money. I can tell you there is no force in existence stronger than love. Yngvarr is doomed.”
“Then let us meet again after battle or in Sovngarde!”
“Not Sovngarde! It is such a dull place!”
Lydia added, “But we did get to meet some interesting people there.”
“Yes but all they did was talk about battles and glory.”
We set off for the mustering point leaving Ulgar behind with his mouth open staring at us. He eventually shut it and ran to catch up.
Just after sunrise the troops were assembled and ready for battle. Jarl Agnar and his men stood on a podium waiting to speak. Early morning fog blanketed the land. Catapults were ready to rain death upon the enemy.
I prayed, “Lord Akatosh keep the civilians safe. They do not deserve to die.”
A voice to my left asked, “Shouldn’t you be praying for us?”
Olvir was standing next to me. I told him, “Prayers do not help now. Skill, luck, intelligence and most importantly of all, your friends will keep you alive.”
“I’m sworn to protect this land and its people but I’m a bloody guard. Nothing of this scale had ever happened to me?”
“Apart from me and my companions there is nobody on your King’s side that has experienced such a battle. You are all new at this. You are not fighting professional soldiers. You are fighting bandits and thugs. You are fighting for what is right and not for money. You have familiar faces around you. Fellow guards who you bunk with, patrol with and eat with. Stick together and you will survive this. The biggest danger is becoming separated. If you find yourself alone do not hesitate to run and attach yourself to another group even if that means retreating a little. Once the battle starts you are all comrades in arms and that means something. It is a silent pledge to do the best you can.”
Olvir sounded more confident when he exclaimed, “We’ve got Jarl Agnar leading us. There’s no way we can lose!”
There was a sudden hush. I turned my eyes back to the platform. Ulgar yelled to quash the last bits of murmuring, “Quiet! Your attention as our King speaks!”
“Ulgar!” growled Jarl Agnar.
“You are our King so get used to it Majesty.”
The Jarl shook his head then proceeded with his speech,
“Fair people of Falskaar…For six hundred years you have graciously allowed my family, the Borvaldurs, to lead you. Through thick and thin you’ve worked hard, supported us and provided unwavering loyalty.”
Agnar paused. I could tell he was trying hard not to let emotions get the better of him. I looked around and was heartened by what I saw. The people were loyal to him for all the right reasons. Their adoration was evident in their faces.
He continued, “Unfortunately not all who live in Falskaar are content. The Unnvaldrs see the throne as their birthright and something that can be owned or taken. They have started war after war, seeking power, their greed unmatched. One hundred years ago they even agreed to give up, to stop fighting, and to accept peace. However, over the last few months, Yngvarr Unnvaldr, Jarl of Staalgarde, has repeatedly broken that agreement. He has kidnapped my family, terrorised my people, gathered an army and destroyed our great city. But now the Heart of the Gods is within his grasp. He has forced my hand. In honour of those who fell at Borvald we must take up arms and return the favour ending this once and for all!”
I used a small amount of Thu’um and said, “Let us not harm the civilians of Staalgarde. They did not ask for this and deserve mercy, not slaughter!”
Jarl Agnar yelled, “The Traveller speaks wisely. Do not let us become them. Now fight for your homeland! Show mercy to the unarmed!”
With a defiant roar the Jarl’s army attacked.
The Sentinel and I started well behind the rest of the troops.
But we were first into Staalgarde which, for reasons unknown, had its drawbridges down.
Jordis yelled, “I think he should have hired men who know how to defend a city!”
We slaughtered all the defenders and found ourselves waiting for the Jarl and other’s to catch up.
“Celestine, that spell makes you look rather Demonic!” I remarked.
“Yes, some of them just stared in horror. I ended up using my dagger more than spells and staff.”
The Jarl finally caught up then asked, “Who are the tall guys with the fancy armour.”
“Dremora I conjured from Oblivion. They are quite good with those huge two handed swords they carry.”
“Ulgar mentioned some dragon ghosts you also summoned. Are you sure you worship The Divines?”
“Believe me Jarl there is not a more devout follower on Nirn.”
“I could see no civilian casualties Traveller. I believe they fled the city before we got here.”
“I doubt Yngvarr let them. I do not think he has as many troops as we thought. The opposition here was poor quality and not in the numbers I expected. If he had more troops he may have kept the citizens as a shield.”
“This is the entrance to his palace. I do not know if he is inside.”
“Well he has certainly been absent from the battlefield.”
“The other three are organising the troops. We are sending a contingent back to protect Amber Creek and another to the priory.”
“We can wait for them or enter the palace now. It is your choice.”
“Let us enter.”
So we burst through the door to find Yngvarr waiting with four of his ‘elite’ troops.
- Yngvarr: You’re too late Agnar! I’m off to get the Heart now.”
- Wulf: Only because I am letting you. Do you really think these four are going to stop us if we wanted to kill you here and now?
- Yngvarr: And why let me go? Do you know what power I will have with the Heart in my possession?
- Wulf: Yes I do. Do you really think it will give you immortality? Where did you read that? What history has ever said that? I know what it will do to you so go ahead. Get it.
- Agnar: He is obsessed Traveller. He will not listen.
- Wulf: I know but even somebody as stupid as him has to wonder why I am so confident.
- Agnar: How did you find out where it was Yngvarr?
- Yngvarr: Oh well you helped with that one. When I took your wife and kid I was going to interrogate them to find out. However on my way there I got word you had flocked in to save them. How…heroic.
- Wulf: You wouldn’t know heroic if it bit you on the arse!
- Yngvarr: You can wait Traveller. Your reckoning is coming.
Proceedings were interrupted by The Sentinel and me bursting out in genuine merriment.
- Wulf: Damn you are funny. Ever thought of being a jester? Maybe King Agnar could hire you?
- Yngvarr: As I was saying, with you and your little clan out of town it was easy enough for my thieves to sneak in and get that book.
- Wulf: Jarl, you and your men started out before us and Brother Thorlogh still had the book.
- Agnar: He got worried that if we failed and got captured or killed rescuing my family then Yngvarr’s men would find the book on him.
- Wulf: So you doubled back after we had passed you then put the book in the most obvious of places? You could have put it anywhere or given it to any of your people for safekeeping. Stuck it inside a hollow stump or, best of all, given it to me to keep hold of.
- Agnar: I don’t know why we were that stupid.
- Wulf: I do Jarl Agnar. For the same reason we will let this coward leave this room alive. Lord Shor wants this to end a particular way.
- Yngvarr: Did you recover the book Traveller? Thanks for you effort on my behalf. Now if you’ll excuse me I really must be going.
As soon as Yngvarr exited the room his guards attacked. We slaughtered them.
I asked the Jarl, “Did Brother Thorlogh tell you where the Heart Chamber is?”
“Yes, a temple to the west. We must hurry.”
We exited the palace. Svegard, Ulgar and Brother Thorlogh came running up to us.
The Jarl asked, “Did you see Yngvarr?”
Svegard replied, “Only in the distance. Somehow he got past our perimeter and took a horse.”
“He would have had an escape tunnel. He is heading for the Heart Chamber and we must follow him immediately.”
They ran past the many horses available because chasing a bad guy riding a horse is done better on foot am I right?
The bemused Sentinel and I ran past them.
I arrived at Mountain Mist Temple well before the others then waited impatiently for them to arrive. I was getting sick of not being me. I wanted this over.
Before we entered I told the Jarl, “Do not panic. Do not worry. This island is protected by Lord Shor. Do you think he will sit by and watch evil claim the Heart of the Gods? When all seems lost challenge Yngvarr to a duel. His ego will be his undoing.”
“All I know is he must die for what he has done to our people.”
We entered. Jarl and his men ran ahead. We walked slowly. The calmer The Sentinel and I were the more worried Yngvarr will be.
Although all pantheons were supposed to be worshipped within the temple all I saw were those for The Nine.
A pedestal holding all five keys stood before the Heart Chamber. We could have removed one of the keys and waited for Yngvarr to starve to death in the sealed chamber. But the Jarl and his men were already inside. It would have been boring anyway.
Before entering I instructed The Sentinel, “We are going to humiliate this man. Scare this man. I want his last moments alive to be full of doubt and his ego reduced to zero.”
To my surprise there was a magicka barrier around the pedestal the Heart was on.
We slowly walked up to join the Jarl.
- Yngvarr: Ah, you’re just in time. After all, nobody’s been here for six hundred years. I would hate for you to miss this momentous occasion.
- Wulf: Nobody had been her for six hundred years now a nobody is talking. How appropriate.
- Yngvarr: I’d already have the heart but it appears to have some kind of magical shield around it. Something that book forgot to mention. But no worries, my wizards assure me they can remove the barrier in a timely fashion. Those keys you gave me worked wonderfully. I studied each one for quite some time. I am truly honoured to be the one in my family that finally gets to use them.
- Wulf: I can feel the strength of that barrier from here. Your pathetic wizards will take hours to get through. Here, let me help.
I fired a lightning bolt at the barrier and it dissipated. The lightning bolt just happened to pass within inches of Yngvarr’s head. He ducked with a screech. The Sentinel and I laughed. Then the Jarl and his men joined in. The wizards looked at me with horror on their faces. They realised a real mage is in the room.
Yngvarr knew he had made a fool of himself and tried to recover his dignity,
- Yngvarr: Thank you Traveller. It is good to see when somebody knows they are beaten.
- Wulf: Dear Divines, how much longer do we have to put up with this dribble?
- Thorlogh: What are you doing this for Yngvarr? Why must you vie for such power?
- Wulf: Read your histories Thorlogh. Now you have dragged this on even longer!
- Yngvarr: I do not want power. I want what is rightfully mine. Do you know what its like to have something that is yours taken away from you?
- Lydia: Somebody stole my sweet-roll once!
- Iona: Did you tell a guard?
- Lydia: I was a guard!
Yngvarr was getting livid as we all laughed at his expense once more.
- Wulf: And why do you think the crown is yours? Hjalmer led the group through the portal but then had no idea what to do when they found themselves in a cold and frozen land. He led them in circles until he finally gave up and those loyal to him gave up as well. Olav had the courage to go off by his own to save the people. Lord Shor left the mighty Dovah called Ahkrinviing to guard the mortals of Falskaar. He saw Olav and guided him and gave him the Heart of the Gods. Ahkrinviing, on behalf of Lord Shor, anointed Olav and his descendants as the rulers of Falskaar by Divine Right. Your family has never had a right to the throne. If you persist you will feel the wrath of Shor.
I could see the seeds of doubt in his followers’ eyes and heard a few furtive whispers amongst them.
- Wulf: But the Borvaldurs have not just demanded the throne each time. The people have chosen that family time after time and so it will be after you die.
- Ulgar: The Traveller is right Yngvarr. The throne is not something you or anybody else is entitled to.
- Svegard: The people have a right to choose their leader. Six hundred years ago they chose Olav. When Agnar’s father died they chose him. The people have always chosen the Borvaldurs.
- Thorlogh: For six hundred years they have done nothing but provide wisdom and help while your family does nothing but cause trouble for the people.
- Yngvarr: That is not true!
- Wulf: I saw no mercenaries fighting for Agnar. If your citizens thought you had a right to the throne why were they not fighting by your side in greater numbers?
- Agnar: How did you get these people to follow you so loyally?
- Thorlogh: You promised them power didn’t you? You would get the Heart and use it to help them.
- Wulf: Your desire for the Heart is pure selfish in fact. Once you have it you think you will need nobody else. You think it will make you so powerful you will be safe from any disgruntled followers who want retribution for you double cross! You want to use the power of the Heart to dominate those around you, not help them!
Yngvarr’s followers were looking around furtively. They realised what a predicament they were in. Soon they will conclude their only hope for survival is to keep obeying Yngvarr. A show of great power will be needed to dissuade that idea.
- Agnar: You lied to your people. That is the worst thing that a King can do. You betrayed your city! How could you possibly hope to rule all of Falskaar?
- Wulf: He couldn’t. Not without forcing the people to obey. He would not be a King but a tyrant.
- Yngvarr: I will not stand here being assailed by your petty claims. Admit it Agnar. You’ve lost. After all this time you have failed. You have let your family down. Now don’t any of you move and I’ll make this quick.
Yngvarr turned then started walking toward the Heart.
- Svegard: We have to do something Agnar.
- Thorlogh: We must stall him.
Agnar looked at me and I nodded.
- Agnar: Duel me!
Yngvarr stopped and turned.
- Yngvarr: Excuse me?
- Agnar: You heard me. I am challenging you to a round of combat. No guards, none of my companions. Just you and me.
- Thorlogh: Agnar?
- Agnar: If you have a single drop of honour in your blood you will accept or forever be known as a coward.
- Yngvarr: Haha. Fine, I’ll play your little game. But fighting an old man wouldn’t be much of a challenge now would it? No, I want to fight The Traveller.
Jarl Agnar looked at me again and I winked. He smiled back.
- Yngvarr: They come waltzing through the portal supposedly foretelling some grand tragedy that is to plague the land. They mock me and act so superior. Certainly they must be special. He must be extra special.
I used my Thu’um to make my voice thunder and echo around the cavern.
“I ACCEPT YNGVARR!”
The smarter of his followers immediately knew who I was. Yngvarr was too stupid so asked, “Who are you?”
“I am Emperor Wulf Septim. I am the Dragonborn and Champion of the Divines. I am the man who defeated Alduin. I am the man who fought Molag Bal in combat and won. I am the man who has killed thousands of others in combat. I am you worst nightmare.”
Jarl Agnar and his men stared at me in disbelief. The Sentinel laughed. Yngvarr’s men once again started looking for a way to escape. Yngvarr stood with fear in his eyes.
I drew my sword and let my Dovah loose.
“Come Yngvarr. You issued the challenge. Come and see what a real warrior is. Or have your balls shrivelled to nothing, much like your brain?”
He advanced with terror written across his face. I let him get close then threw him back with a single Word Unrelenting Force.
“If I had wanted to use my full power you would be a smear somewhere down below the cliff behind you. But that would have killed your wizards and they deserve a chance to live. Come on, I promise to let you have a swing this time.”
The wizards quickly moved to the side. Yngvarr charged with a growl.
He took a swing with his mace which I casually knocked aside with my shield. I then punched him in the stomach with the pommel of my sword. He immediately doubled over gasping for breath.
“That could easily have been my blade Yngvarr. Your men are embarrassed for you. I could do this all day but the audience is getting bored. Why don’t you go pick up the Heart? Isn’t that what you killed all those innocent people to get? Isn’t that why you regard the people here with you as expendable? Nothing matters but your selfish desires. Am I right?”
Yngvarr gasped, “You are playing a game. You will stop me before I reach it. Kill me if you wish but stop the games!”
“I swear by The Divines not a single person here will stop you getting the Heart!”
Yngvarr staggered to his feet and could see everybody had their weapons sheathed.
He slowly approached the Heart of the Gods.
- Wulf: Sentinel, what do you think will happen when he touches the Heart?
- Lydia: The power of Shor will make his bones vanish. He will then collapse like a jellyfish.
- Iona: He has no backbone already so that will not make much difference.
- Jordis: I hope his blood boils. It is always amusing when their eyes get bigger and bigger and finally pop!
- Lydia: If that does not kill them their blood continues to boil. Often that results in their head exploding in a bloody mist! I agree that is more fun than the vanishing bones.
- Celestine: Both of those are boring compared to the little portal to The Void that opens up.
- Jordis: You mean the one where the skeletal arm comes out and grabs the victim?
- Iona: Then whatever it is slowly drags them screaming toward the pitch black hole that is way too small for the victim to fit through.
- Celestine: But the figure in The Void does not care so keeps pulling while the victim screams even more as his bones crack and his flesh is compressed.
- Lydia: Then there is a loud ‘pop!’ The screams are heard no more as the last bloody pulp is dragged into The Void and the hole closes.
- Wulf: Who wants to place bets and at what odds?
Yngvarr stood before the Heart but did not reach for it.
I yelled, “Come on Yngvarr. The Heart is within reach. You say the throne belongs to you. Prove Shor wrong and grab the Heart!”
At least thirty seconds passed before I yelled once more, “You have proven yourself a coward Yngvarr. You know you have no right to the throne. You are too frightened to test your claim against the power of the Gods. I could have killed you anytime I wished Yngvarr but I wanted your people to witness this. I wanted them to tell more of your people so for eternity others will never be foolish enough to believe a member of your family’s false claims. All of Falskaar will choose a Borvaldur for King each time because not only is the throne theirs by Divine Right, they will have earned it by their actions. They demonstrate what true nobility is.”
There was a mighty roar. Ahkrinviing appeared out of the ether then hovered as we spoke,
- Wulf: Drem yol lok Ahkrinviing. Lost hi bo fah fin nikriin?
- Ahkrinviing: Geh Dovahsebrom. Rok los do wah mah nau Borvald.
- Yngvarr: What are you saying? What will you do to me?
- Agnar: If you were meant to be king you would understand the language of the dragons.
- Wulf: Tell him Majesty.
- Agnar: The Emperor, the Dragon of the North, politely greeted Ahkrinviing. He then asked if he is here to take care of the coward. The coward is you Yngvarr. Ahkrinviing said yes. Apparently you are about to be dropped on the remains of Borvald. From a great height I assume.
Yngvarr screamed in terror as Ahkrinviing flew over slowly then gently grabbed him with his claw.
Yngvarr’s screams intensified as the Dovah flew closer to the ceiling before vanishing into the ether.
Yngvarr’s men dropped their weapons and fell to their knees. The Sentinel quickly searched them. Daggers and other items such as scrolls, knives and potions were removed. Their hands were tied plus gags placed on the wizards.
Agnar and his men were still stunned at what they had just witnessed.
I walked up to them then put my hand on the Jarl’s shoulder.
- Wulf: It is over Majesty. It is a time for celebration and then deep mourning.
- Agnar: Why? Why would you come and help a country that is not even part of your empire?
- Wulf: I might be Emperor but I am also Champion of The Divines. My duty is to all mortals on Nirn regardless of race or if they are friends, enemies or complete strangers. I would have been unaware of your plight if Shor had not sent me. So thank him as well as The Nine.
- Agnar: Of course we appreciate your help but…
- Wulf: I do not expect you to become part of The Empire. I have helped other countries who are not of The Empire. We can provide aid and if you are unaware of the danger coming from Akavir you need to understand that. But they are conversations we can have soon. Let us deal with the immediate problems.
- Agnar: What do you suggest I do with these men? With any of Yngvarr’s men?
- Wulf: His real soldiers and guards. Those born or who have legally emigrated to Falskaar deserve to be questioned. I think you will find them guilty only of following their Jarl’s orders. I did not see any of them in the battle for Borvald. We did not encounter any of them in the fort when we rescued your family. They only appeared by Yngvarr’s side when he needed bodyguards. Many died for him not knowing of his treachery.
- Agnar: And the mercenaries?
- Wulf: Death! Killing for money is abhorrent. You could never know for sure which ones participated in the destruction of Borvald. But they are all guilty by association. They have committed atrocities against the people of Falskaar. The Sentinel and I would be happy to hunt them down for you. But that is also a discussion for later.
- Agnar: I see the Heart of the Gods has fallen from its pedestal.
- Wulf: Probably the downdraught of Ahkrinviing’s wings. It is safe for you to pick it up and place back.
- Agnar: If it is safe for you to do so then I would prefer that. I am but a simple man and all this prophecy and magic stuff is not for me.
- Wulf: Lord Shor will probably have something to say to me so if you wish to avoid all that ‘prophecy and magic stuff’ you should leave. Yngvarr’s men have been disarmed and their hands tied. If you wait outside the temple with The Sentinel I will join you soon.
- Agnar: You will seal the Heart Chamber again?
- Wulf: Yes. I will bring you the five keys to do with as you please.
- Agnar: How do I thank you and The Sentinel?
- Wulf: Seeing a King with true nobility is reward enough. There are far more like Yngvarr than you. Thank The Nine and Lord Shor as their sacrifices on behalf of all mortals should never be forgotten.
I could tell his men were full of questions but they quickly flanked the prisoners along with The Sentinel then marched out of the Heart Chamber behind their King.
I walked up to the Heart of the Gods. As I did so the ghostly figure of Gormlaith Golden-Hilt appeared beside the dais.
When I picked up the Heart a sense of Shor’s presence was strong as it is with the Amulet of the Kings. I could detect no dweomer but was not surprised at that revelation.
I gently placed it on the dais. It did not lay on its surface but floated above.
Gormlaith declared, “So it is done!”
“Yes and I thank Lord Shor for asking me to help these people. Since Evermore I have met several sovereigns of honest and true demeanour. It has helped renew my optimism for the task set my daughter. What I said to Agnar is correct. There are still far more like Yngvarr than him. But we only need a few Agnar to bring the peace promised.”
“You suffered your first defeat in the field since Helgen but were not in command. That pleasure most likely awaits you in near future.”
“You and your allies experienced many such defeats before banishing Alduin. I can’t recall my father experiencing any though. It was bitter and I am sure any others will be as well. In the end you triumphed. Well your friends did. You got chomped by Alduin!”
“I still rejoiced in Sovngarde.”
“Am I right about Yngvarr’s men? The residents of Falskaar were just obeying his orders and are victims of his lies?”
“Yes you are. They died bravely for their Jarl.”
“There are few enemies I have desired eternal suffering in The Void as punishment. Yngvarr is one of them.”
“I don’t think any immortal will take pity and retrieve him anytime soon.”
“I think we will stay a few days and see what other help we can provide. This country has taken a battering!”
“Lord Shor will be pleased with that. Farewell Majesty and may The Divines be with you.”
I made my way out of the Heart Chamber and retrieved the keys. When I was sure the barrier was in place I exited the temple.
The Jarl’s men had many questions and I answered them as we walked back to Amber Creek. The Jarl himself was silent and deep in thought.
After the happy reunions the Jarl insisted we attend the celebrations. I told him we would appear but only for a short time. We were exhausted so he understood.
Celestine and I spent a few hours healing the injured.
Before entering the inn I placed a beacon then summoned Nafalilargus.
As soon as we entered there was a resounding cheer. Jarl Agnar approached and said, “Thank you again my friend, for everything you have done for the people of Falskaar.”
“It was my duty but also my pleasure Majesty.”
“You and The Sentinel put yourself in harm’s way for the greater good of Falskaar many times.”
“I am not one to boast but simply state facts. Yngvarr and his men posed no threat to us. I could have called upon dragons and used my Thu’um to decimate his forces. We were never in danger from them. However the Hall of the Dead we travelled through provided some of the toughest fighting we have ever experienced. But that showed me how extraordinary my friends are. It is love that makes them loyal and not a sense of duty. Your housecarls are the same.”
“You have been very forceful but after speaking to them and Brother Thorlogh I can assure you they understand your motives.”
“I hope to remain for a couple of days and help clean up some loose ends for you. They are welcome to accompany us and see my milder side. Bashing bandits and exploring ancient ruins should be relaxing in comparison to the last few days.”
“Brother Thorlogh expressed to me his hope you would help with some Necromancers?”
“Yes, there is a mystery to solve there as well as seeing if we can retrieve some of your lost history and knowledge.”
“I know you and The Sentinel are tired but Rurik, our local bard, has written a song he hopes you enjoy.”
“I am always willing to listen to a fellow bard.”
Jarl Agnar gave Rurik a nod. The bard smiled then took up his lute.
“This is a song that I wrote so that we may never forget the virtuous feats of the King, his three companions, the Emperor and The Sentinel.
- Nine were they who saved our land, who held their ground with sword and staff in hand, who fought the doomed impeding blight, and saved us from eternal night.
- Take up your cup and raise it high, The Doom has come and passed us by. They saved our lives, now Falskaar thrives. Glory to the Nine.
- No foe did put up worthy fight, or stand before their awesome might. By blade and spell did Staalgarde fell, it burned and blazed, a righteous sight.
- The Unnvaldrs then lost their Heart. Our heroes played a vital part. The King, the monk, the brothers bold, Emperor and Sentinel, come by ways untold.
- Take up your cup and raise it high, the Doom has come and passed us by. They saved our lives, now Falskaar thrives. Glory to the Nine.
- Nine were they who saved our land, who held their ground with sword and staff in hand, who fought the doomed impeding blight, and saved us from eternal night.”
The patrons clapped and cheered and Rurik looked my way. I gave an enthusiastic cheer and clapped loudly which made the young bard beam with pride. He then started his next song.
Truth is he needs some lessons. Perhaps I can help him tomorrow.
Brother Thorlogh came walking up to me, “Several months ago transcripts of your journals arrived in Falskaar. All of us found them fanciful fiction of impossible deeds. But they are true aren’t they?”
“Everything is true. My childhood memories were erased. I kept encountering both oral and written histories full of mistakes, lies and omissions. I was determined my life from Helgen onwards would not be forgotten, rewritten or taken out of context.”
“So you have in fact saved the lives of every mortal on Nirn more than once. Met Gods and even fought one in combat. Been to Oblivion many times and other exotic places such as the Soul Cairn and Blackreach. You have spoken to Ayleid, Snow Elf and Minotaur. You must agree that all sounds like tall tales.”
“It does but there are many equally amazing feats done not only by past Emperors and rulers but normal citizens. Much of it not written down or incorrect versions recorded. Take the feats of High Queen Rigmor’s father Ragnar. Instead of the hero who saved countless lives in Hammerfell he was portrayed as the villain. It is my aim to correct the histories. Have the truth exposed no matter how uncomfortable.”
“It will be fascinating to see how you portray your time here.”
“You will see there was method to my madness. I am not harsh or sarcastic without cause. Much can be learned if people ignore their bruised egos and question themselves why I said or did something.”
“Do you think something bad would have happened to Yngvarr if he touched the Heart?”
“I honestly don’t know and did not ask Lord Shor. I know for certain it would not have made him immortal or have any dweomer he could use immediately.”
“How did you know he would challenge you to a duel after Agnar made the initial challenge?”
“I told King Agnar to make the challenge. Yngvarr was egotistic and I have met enough people like him to know their weakness. We laughed at him. We mocked him. We told him how easily we defeated his troops. Then to top it off I told him twice how he lives because I allowed it. His ego was bruised and would not be repaired by defeating your King in combat. He had to defeat the one who had caused the most bruising.”
“Agnar says you plan on staying a few days.”
“My airship should arrived soon. We shall have a nights rest then help where we can. There is the mystery of the Dream Crystals to solve. There will be many of Yngvarr’s mercenaries to take care of. Maybe we can even revisit some of the ruins and see if any of Falskaar’s lost history and knowledge can be recovered.”
“Would you allow me to accompany you on such exploration?”
“I would not feel right doing it without you. This is your home and it is your heritage.”
“There is so much we need to do for the displaced and injured. Also aid those mourning and those mentally damaged by what they have witnessed.”
“With the airship we can fly over the cities and quickly see what needs repairing. Aboard the airship will be three Masters of Restoration. I am also a Master of Restoration. So is Celestine. That makes five who can heal the injured. The trauma and mourning will need love, support and time to heal.”
“I watched Celestine and you help all afternoon. Some of what she has achieved is miraculous.”
“She is the best Restoration practitioner I have ever met. Such a gentle soul but has learned to kill with frightening efficiency during her travels with me. I would have preferred otherwise.”
“I can see you are tired Majesty.”
“We have had a few hours sleep since stepping into Falskaar. So we will retire for the night soon and see what tomorrow brings.”
“Divines bless you Majesty.”
“Call me Wulf. All my friends do.”
I did the rounds and talked to as many locals as I could. After a couple of hours we said quick goodnights to everybody and somewhere along the way I promised to be the bard for a few hours on the morrow.
It was about 11:00PM when I climbed the ladder and stood on the deck of Nafalilargus. The streets of Amber Creek were deserted except for guard patrols. Laughter, and fairly average lute playing, could be heard from the inn. These were good people. Their King was exactly the type all nations need. I had to spend some extra time helping them. Rigmor might grumble at extra days sitting in parley but she knows my trips help people and sometimes even The Empire.
When I entered the cabin it was full of Sentinel and to my complete surprise, Rigmor in full armour.
I walked up and our hello kiss was one for the record books. I finally stood back then asked the obvious, “What are you doing here and in your tin can?”
“I was going to come here before you even summoned the airship. We received reports of Aldmeri Dominion naval vessels patrolling just outside Falskaar national waters. Casius ordered a few of our more intimidating warships to join them. I think they are getting dizzy circling the island together.”
“Is Casius on one of our ships?”
“Yes, he is aboard the flagship Andlát.”
“We have a ship with the Old Nordic name for death?”
“Is that what it means? It would be a very intimidating name if our foes knew Old Nordic!”
“I assume the Thalmor are behind this and must have received word that we were on the island. But it was only a few hours ago that I revealed our identity.”
“Casius thinks they intercepted a fleeing ship with survivors of a battle you were involved in. The description of those who defeated them was probably good enough for the Thalmor to assume it was you and The Sentinel.”
“Or it could just be an incredible coincidence they have paid a visit.”
“Falskaar is not a protectorate and we do not have a mutual defence pact with them. So if the Dominion ships enter Falskaar waters or even invade we would have no legal right to intercept or intervene.”
“So now I understand the armour. You did not know what to expect when you got here.”
“We know nothing of what has been going on here. We only knew you were probably on Falskaar after Freathof visited the Imperial Library and found a reference to a portal in the mine you entered.”
“I should have called Nafalilargus here and sent back a message. I am making mistakes lately. Sorry.”
“Nobody but you expects perfection Wulf.”
“What orders have you given Casius?”
“If he feels the need to sink a few ships or land a few marines to stop the Thalmor hunting you down he can do so. We will worry about the legalities later.”
I thought for a few seconds and concluded, “I think it does not matter where we are. An attack on either of us would be regarded as an act of war. There would be no legal problems.”
“That seems reasonable. Malesam and/or Blackwell would know.”
“Let me write my journal entries and then I can fill you in with what has happened. We will figure out our options tomorrow.”
“Casius knows where the King lives, Amber Creek, and will send an update on the situation if anything changes.”
“I couldn’t have expressed it better myself. Go and write your journal. Then we can snuggle in bed while you fill me in with the details.”
So I sat and wrote these journal entries while Rigmor had a chat with the Skyrim Squad. My beloved, her Sentinel squad, the three Master Mages and two ‘dogs that are not dogs’ made for a cramped dining area as they listened to the rather exaggerated tales of our time in Falskaar.
By the time we crawled into bed Rigmor had precise questions she wanted me to answer. She cried when I recited my take on Borvald. She agreed we should stay for a while and help them recover.
A few hours later Rigmor fell asleep in my arms.
Despite my exhaustion sleep did not come easy to me.
Did I see any children walking the streets of Borvald? Did I see any running around playing the games universal to all children? If I did I can’t recall. Maybe my mind has decided to protect me from myself.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know I awoke several times to the sounds of screams cut short by an explosion.
Only the presence of Rigmor allowed me to get any sleep at all.