Rigmor of Bruma quest: Guardian Angels. Skyrim quest: Before the Storm.
I felt myself pulled in a particular direction since exiting the cave. If I deviated from that direction, the pull decreased but never went away. It was like those things that some mariners use. Compasses they call them. They always point north. My compass was leading me to Riverwood, I assumed.
My other half exclaimed, “Well, that is annoying. It is like an itch you can’t scratch, so you try and pretend it is not there.”
“Similar to a voice in your head that doesn’t know how to keep quiet.”
I could hear snarls and screams coming from down the hill and to the right.
I told Hadvar, “Hang on! Something is going on down there!”
“What do you want to do?”
“We don’t know if General Tullius survived. So, it is vital you do as he ordered and report what happened to the authorities. Therefore, stay back while I check out the situation.”
“Are you sure?”
“You can get to me in seconds if help is needed.”
I wandered down the hill with weapon sheathed. A glance to the right revealed a white blur causing panic amongst some bandits.
In front of me was another bandit searching through the chests and crates of a ransacked carriage.
My other half took over, which is something I am going to have to discuss with him!
“So as your friends get slaughtered you thought you might be able to take more than your share and run. You are a very naughty bandit!”
The bandit stood and stared up at me.
“Well, are you going to fight or stand there pissing yourself?”
The fighting from the right finished just as the bandit drew his heavy and cumbersome two-handed sword.
He took up a defensive position as I stepped back and drew my sword. From my right, a white dog appeared and bowled into the bandit knocking him sideways.
“Come on you milk drinker. Don’t let the little doggy scare you!”
The bandit snarled, then cursed as the dog tried to hamstring him.
“Don’t break your teeth on his armour!” I called out to my furry accomplice.
The bandit was concentrating on me and was yet to swing his sword. I kept backing up, waiting to see what the dog would do.
As soon as the bandit had his back entirely to the dog, it leapt and bit sideways on the bad guy’s neck. Arterial blood sprayed and the bandit died without me having to bloody my blade.
The dog lay next to the corpse, and I thought he was injured. I walked up to him to check.
“We know him.” Said my other half.
“Stop commandeering my body!”
“When you find out the truth, we can come to some arrangement. Till then, let me do what is needed!”
“What was needed there?”
“To goad the dead bandit enough that he concentrated on me and not try and hurt our white friend.”
“What do you mean we know him?”
“He has something around his neck. Check it out.”
The dog looked up and greeted me with a huge canine smile.
I knelt and gave him a good scratch behind the ear as I removed a chain and small message container from around his neck.
Inside the container was a note that simply read,
“I am Meeko. Let me be your guard once again.”
I asked the drooling warrior, “Your name is Meeko?”
“Do you know me?”
“You do know you are talking to a dog?”
“He has to be smarter than you!”
“I don’t think he is just a dog.”
“He looks like a dog. Drools like a dog. Smells like a dog.”
“Have you ever seen a dog do what he just did? We haven’t even looked around the corner yet!”
Hadvar came trotting over and said, “It looks like you have a new friend.”
“You are taking all this in your stride. Me talking to a dragon then finding this armour and these weapons. Now a dog coming to my aid.”
“As soon as you did that thing with your voice and the dragon appeared, I decided just to accept things rather than go insane.”
“Fair enough. Let’s see what this scum and the others were up to.”
In the back of the carriage was a man and woman. Probably a married couple. It seems their crates and chests had already been looted by the time the dead bandit arrived.
Hadvar lamented, “One of the consequences of the civil war is a lack of patrols to keep the bandits under control. Combine that with many civilians escaping the major hot spots with their possessions, you get this type of thing occurring.”
We walked to the right of the carriage where another four bandits lay dead.
I said, “It looks like Meeko timed his attack to coincide with us reaching the carriage. If he leapt from behind, he would have dispatched two or three before they even knew what hit them.”
“Are you telling me that this dog was waiting for you and that he was smart enough to use such strategy?”
“What was that about just accepting things?”
“I don’t see any loot on them.”
“No, I think another group of bandits killed the couple and cleaned out the valuables before this lot arrived.”
“Well then, let us continue to Riverwood before we encounter them.”
Not much further along the path, Hadvar whispered, “Thalmor. Do not talk to them. Especially the woman. That is Elenwen, the First Emissary. Ambassador is her official title.”
“I saw her talking to General Tullius when we entered Helgen. Too bad she didn’t hang around for the executions.”
“You dislike our Altmer friends?
“Not the Altmer people, just their blasphemous rulers.”
Meeko growled in agreement.
We ran past the Thalmor. Some effeminate officer on a white horse was whining about something.
Elenwen stood in our way and demanded, “Why such a hurry?”
Hadvar replied, “I am on my way to report to General Tullius as per his orders Ambassador.”
She replied, “If it concerns that dragon, tell him I expect a full report delivered to the embassy by the end of the day.”
Hadvar bowed and said, “I will be sure to pass that on.”
Elenwen stared at me as I passed and wrinkled her nose at Meeko as he trotted past.
“She would have scared the Dovah away with that stare.” said my other half.
“He might have tried to eat her and chocked on her ego.”
“We don’t like the Thalmor much do we?”
“Not one little bit!”
Further down the path were three Standing Stones.
Hadvar said, “Those are the Guardian Stones. Three of the thirteen Standing Stones dotted around Skyrim.”
“I know about them but have no idea if I have ever encountered one before.”
“Legend says that when particular people touch them, they grant favours such as better thief, mage or warrior skills.”
“Nobody knows where they come from, but each represents a constellation, so my guess is Saint Alessia gifted them to Skyrim. Her people revered the stars more than most.”
“I will leave all that history stuff to you Wulf. Why don’t you try touching one? We all try sooner or later, but nothing ever seems to happen.”
I walked up to the Warrior Standing Stone and touched it. The constellation on the stone lit up and a blue beam of light shot skywards. I detected some dweomer briefly envelop me but did not know what it did.
Hadvar shook his head and said, “Why am I not surprised it reacted to your touch.”
“It enveloped me with a spell, probably a blessing, but I don’t know what it does. Oh well, another mystery for me to contemplate.”
Hadvar pointed to the path and said, “Riverwood is just up there.”
“This is beautiful Hadvar. It seems Skyrim is not all harsh and unforgiving.”
“It is a land of extremes. We don’t have the deserts like Hammerfell or Elsweyr, but we have just about everything else!”.
As we got closer to Riverwood the pull in my brain lessened. It was still there, and I couldn’t ignore it.
When Riverwood came into view, I suddenly halted. My compass was telling me to head into the trees on the right.
“Something wrong?” asked Hadvar.
“You keep going Hadvar. There is something I need to do. Hopefully I will get to speak to you later.”
“If you need the latrine there are plenty in Riverwood!”
“It is not that Hadvar. It is more weirdness. Concentrate on what you need to do regarding your orders. Don’t let me distract you from that.”
“Okay, Wulf. Just be wary of the Thalmor. That was a hunting party we passed, and the involvement of both Elenwen and a High-Level Justiciar suggests they are after important prey.”
“I will do Hadvar and good luck with whatever happens. Just make sure they do not start blaming the Stormcloaks for that dragon. I assure you it is not their friend.”
“If you have suspicions on why one has appeared after centuries, I am sure General Tullius would love to know them.”
“When I know for sure, I will let the authorities know. That I promise.”
Hadvar trotted off towards Riverwood, and I headed into the trees
A woman, dressed in furs, came out from behind a tree. By her grace and stealth, I assumed she was a huntress. A prominent symbol of Kynareth on the front of her furs made me trust her immediately.
She said in a rapid voice full of worry, “I am taking a risk, but can you please help?”
“There’s a wounded girl, over there, by the cliff.”
“Please, calm down and explain what this is all about.”
“They are looking in the wrong place.”
“I assume you mean that Thalmor hunting party.”
“Yes, them. The girl is too heavy for me to move. Please, help me carry her to safety.”
“Where are we taking her?”
“I have a camp not far from here, on the lake. She will be safe there, if she survives.”
“My name is Wulf. My furry companion is Meeko. Of course, we will help.”
“My name is Rose. Follow me.”
Rose turned and started to walk up the hill. Meeko growled and ran to the right.
A massive wolf, probably the Alpha Male of a pack, had been preparing to pounce on Rose. I drew my bow, but soon Meeko and his much larger opponent were a rolling, growling, snarling ball of violence.
The fight did not last long. Despite being much smaller than the wolf, Meeko soon had him pinned to the ground. Meeko ripped out the wolf’s throat, stood over the body then howled.
Answering howls came from every direction. I then heard the sounds of breaking twigs and other indications that many wolves were leaving.
Rose said, “Your friend just killed the pack leader. Unless he claims the crown, they will go away, and many more brawls will occur before one of them takes the mantle.”
“I don’t think Meeko saved our lives, but he certainly saved us a lot of trouble.”
“Come, the girl needs help!” ordered Rose.
I followed Rose. Meeko wiped his bloody maw on some grass than trotted behind me as if nothing had happened.
Rose stopped and said, “Here she is.”
I could barely make out a curled-up body in the long grass. I asked, “What happened to this girl?”
“The Thalmor chased her to the cliff edge. She jumped into the canopy of that three above to escape. It broke her fall, but she is badly injured. But if we can get her to my boat and then to my camp, we might be able to save her life.”
“Are the Thalmor so stupid they haven’t searched the base of the cliff?”
“They were waiting for Elenwen and that Justiciar. The girl must be important to them.”
“Okay, I will carry her, and you lead the way.”
Even when I was close enough to pick her up the girl was hard to spot amongst the clover, grass and thistles.
I lifted her gently, afraid of making any fractures or internal injuries worse. The girl did not stir, and only her shallow breathing convinced me she still lived.
My compass had directed me to this girl. As soon as I lifted her, it vanished.
“Somebody is guiding us.”
“More than one guide, I would say.”
“Eight more somebodies do you think?”
“If what you keep hinting at is true, then yes.”
Rose said, “This way, follow me.”
I replied, “Let us go as slow as we dare. Even with the steel armour, the girl isn’t much of a burden. However, I do not want to jostle her too much.”
“Let me scout ahead a little. If we have to fight, you need time to place the girl somewhere gently.”
Rose ran ahead a little then slowed to a pace I could do without hurting the girl.
A bit further up the hill, she held her hand up in the universal signal for ‘Stop!”
I crept up and looked through the branches to where she was staring.
The effeminate sounding Justiciar was leading the search party at a snail’s pace aboard his white horse. The Thalmor tendency for ostentatious display was probably our best hope of remaining undetected while I carried their quarry.
Rose said, “We need another route. Up here, this way…”
We climbed up a fairly steep slope and past a seemingly disused mine.
We came to a small overhang overlooking the road Hadvar, and I had travelled earlier.
Rose told me, “Wait here. Let me make sure the road is clear.”
She then ran close to the corner where the Guardian Stones are.
After looking around, she signalled me to follow.
Below the outcrop with the Guardian Stones was a hunter’s camp. Rose made her way down at a trot. I very slowly negotiated the steep decline with my fragile passenger.
A male hunter came striding up to Rose and whined, “Rose, are you mad? They will kill us all!”
“I am not letting those bastards push us around Hedren.”
The little turd stared at me then asked, “Who is this stranger? Can we trust him?”
Rose replied, “Sometimes you have to do what is right. Even if it means risking everything.”
I said to Hedren, “Sometimes you have to pretend you are not a milk drinker. Even when you want to hide under your bed.”
“That was very good! You are learning!” said my other half with a tone of approval.
Rose laughed and said, “Put her in the boat, Wulf.”
As gently as I could, I lay the girl down on the bottom of the boat. She had still not made a sound.
“Come on. Let us go quickly!” said Rose.
We climbed aboard, and I grabbed the oars.
Rose looked at me surprised. I told her, “It is not so much chivalry as practicality. I will get us there faster, and you can look after the girl while I do so.”
Rose attended the girl but occasionally looked up to make sure I was heading in the right direction.
We reached Rose’s camp, and opposite it was a pretty little village. The whole area was very picturesque.
As Rose tied the boat to a log on shore, I asked her, “What is the name of that village?”
“Little Vivec. Mostly Dunmer sick of their treatment elsewhere live there. Imperial Patrols come by regularly to make sure The Stormcloaks have not decided to exercise their hatred.”
“The girl is not from Skyrim.”
“What makes you say that.”
“The relief on her armour. I would say she is from Bruma.”
“Or she could have pinched the armour.”
“Well, gut feeling tells me she is from Bruma. Let’s get her healthy enough to tell us.”
“My camp is just up this hill a bit. Well hidden from anybody on the lake. Follow me.”
I gently lifted the girl once again and followed Rose.
“Put her on the bedroll, and I can have a closer look at last.”
I lay the girl down then watched as Rose gently lifted her chain-mail shirt.
Rose exclaimed, “Oh my, I… There is a deep running cut above her midriff. She is lucky not to have been disembowelled.”
Suddenly an image of Lydtta staring at her spilling entrails entered my mind as clearly as if she stood there at that very moment.
“No Wulf. No, do not do that to yourself.” my other half pleaded.
“I can remember them all. Every kill today I can replay blow by blow. The sounds, the smells. Is this a curse?”
“It is insurance. It is to prevent you from turning into me.”
“You know this?”
“Instinctively. We must maintain a balance.”
Rose looked up at me and asked, “You are not squeamish, are you? You have gone awfully pale.”
Meeko sidled up to me, and I absently scratched behind his ear.
“No, Rose. Nothing like that. What can we do for her?”
“She has lost a lot of blood. We will need to gather some things, or she won’t survive. Would you stay and help?”
“The Thalmor are hunting this girl, and you have risked your life to help her. They are two of many reasons why I could never walk away. What do you need?”
Rose instructed, “Take the boat back to the Guardian Stones, then go to the Riverwood Trader. Talk to Lucan Valerius, or his sister Camilla. Buy some furs and clean linen. They are good people and will give you a fair price.”
“Don’t worry. I will not tell the store owners about our patient. If the Thalmor come knocking they won’t have to lie.”
“Of course, a healing spell might help to stabilise her if they have one, but it is still going to be a slow recovery. I suppose I don’t have to warn you about being careful.”
“The Thalmor have no reason to suspect me, and I do not need an alibi to walk the streets of Riverwood. If the weedy Justiciar is there, he would have seen an Imperial Lieutenant and me speaking to Ambassador Elenwen. If she didn’t find me suspicious, why would he?”
“You spoke to her?”
“It was stopping and talking or bowling her over.”
“You seemed friendly with Hadvar. Do you know him well?”
“I met him about four hours ago when he was supervising my execution.”
“Let me get these things for the girl. I will tell you the story later.”
“Yes, please hurry.”
Rose sat on a stump with a worried look on her face. Despite my reassurances, we both knew I was going back into the hornet’s nest.
My other half said, “We can help her. We know Restoration Magic. We know Alchemy.”
“I suspect we do, but unlike Dovahzul, neither are clear in my head. Rose seems to have some field experience with wounds. Probably from the Legion or other military service. Let us trust her skills for now.”
I said to Meeko, “Stay and guard this camp. No chasing rabbits or any other distractions. Can I trust you with this?”
“Point the direction of danger to Rose. Do not go rushing off to confront it. Got that?”
“How do you know he can point?” asked my other half.
“Instinctively. Thank you for that excuse to accept gobblygook.”
“You are welcome.”
I rushed to the boat, grabbed the oars and rowed as if the Dovah was on my tail.
I made it back to the hunter’s camp in about a third of the time it took to make the first trip. I did not have to worry about a fragile young girl onboard.
Hedren confronted me, “You are in a hurry. Have the Thalmor found you? If you have abandoned Rose, I will…”
“You will do what? Cry like last time you spilt your milk? I am trying to save a life. You should try it sometime rather than throwing aspersions at total strangers.”
I left Hedren open-mouthed and trying desperately to think of an appropriate comeback.
The strangest looking deer type thingy trotted past.
“What the fuck is that?” I asked myself.
“No Idea. I wonder if it tastes good?”
When we got close to Riverwood, my other half piped up, “Is that the rear end of a horse or a Justiciar?”
“Hard to tell from here. If it smells terrible, we will know.”
“A horse’s rear end can smell bad too!”
“A fair point. Let’s see if it talks then.”
Plastered to one of the entrance columns was a wanted poster for the girl.
“15,000 gold coin? Nobody says that and don’t they know plurals?”
“Now who is picking on another person’s grammar?”
“They are probably too scared to write the word ‘septim’.”
“So, her name is Rigmor, and she is from Bruma as her armour suggested.”
“That is a big reward. Let’s ask the brainless what the young girl is wanted for.”
“Let me do the talking. Your kind of diplomacy will get us in trouble.”
In his best commanding voice, which was almost laughable, a Thalmor Officer demanded, “You there, halt! What business do you have here?”
“Just seeing if anybody has seen my favourite pair of socks. I lost them when the dragon destroyed Helgen.”
“Are you being smart with me?”
“No, not at all. I would hate to confuse you. May I ask, what are you doing here?”
“Have you seen this girl pictured on the poster?”
“I haven’t seen her ON the poster. That would be a bit silly! You searching for her and there she was, standing on that poster next to you!”
The other Thalmor were trying not to laugh. Any rank and file soldier will tell you that laughing at your superior officer is not a good career move.
“Come to think of it, she would have to be standing horizontally, and that would be impressive! If you are asking if I have seen that girl anywhere, the answer is no.”
“Well, take a good look at it, and if you do, make sure you report it to the authorities.”
I walked up closer to the poster and stared at it for a few seconds. I then walked back to the Thalmor Officer and told him, “I would like to report I have taken a good look at the poster.”
“You said to take a good look at it and make sure I report it to the authorities if I do so.”
“I meant the girl on the poster, not the poster itself you idiot!”
“I am not the one who used a pronoun that could refer to several things mentioned earlier in the conversation. Don’t they teach grammar at Thalmor school?”
The three other Thalmor were suddenly coughing to try and cover up their sniggers.
“Listen closely. There is a sizeable reward being offered for information leading to her capture. She is eighteen years of age. Around five foot six inches tall and has shaven hair.”
“Wow, that is a scary description. No wonder there are so many Thalmor hunting the girl down! Did she steal a Justiciar’s sweet roll or something?”
“You may scoff, but she is extremely dangerous and wanted for murder.”
“My left thigh probably weighs more than her. I will be careful to keep an eye out for her in case I accidentally step on her and squash her. Oh, the reward is for dead or alive! It doesn’t matter then. Except I would have to clean my boots.”
One of the other Thalmor lost it, turned his face towards the centre of Riverwood and quickly dabbed at unbidden tears with a silk hanky while having another terrible coughing fit.
“I get the impression you are having a jest and are not a stupid as you seem.”
“Nothing, just a nice word I like to say occasionally. You should try it.”
“Listen closely as your life may depend on it.”
I cupped my ear with my hand and pointed it toward the Thalmor Officer. A second Thalmor suddenly stood facing the centre of town and had a terrible coughing fit.
“Anyone caught aiding her will be summarily executed, and their families arrested then sent to Valenwood.”
“Really! People say you Thalmor are nasty, but you would give my good old mum a free trip to Valenwood? She has always wanted to go there but could never afford it. That is very generous of you.”
The third subordinate lost it. The Thalmor officer looked around, scowled and said, “On your way.”
“What is on my way?”
“Just go away. Quickly.”
I walked away, trying to suppress a smirk as the officer lost it big time with the other three Thalmor.
I asked myself, “Well?”
“Okay, that was good. I would probably have ended up slicing them into pieces.”
To my surprise, I saw Hadvar entering the blacksmith’s residence.
“Why has he not gone to Solitude?”
“Let us quickly find out. We are still ignorant of too much!”
Just outside the blacksmith’s residence was a conversation I could not ignore. A Dunmer woman was berating the scrawny Justiciar, and he was not enjoying it. By her graceful movements and relaxed but ready posture, I surmised she would be deadly with the blade she carried.
“Jarl Balgruuf the Great of Whiterun is waiting for an explanation. Why are the Thalmor hunting Empire citizens in his Hold?”
“What is your name?”
“Irileth, I am the Jarl’s housecarl. Now Justiciar, answer my question.”
“There is a dangerous criminal in the vicinity. I am deploying my troops in the immediate area to find and capture her and any accomplices.”
“The Jarl has informed your Embassy that no Thalmor troops are welcome in this Hold at the moment. Whiterun has remained neutral during the current conflict, and your presence endangers that. We are more than capable of finding and apprehending a young woman. Please leave Whiterun Hold at once!”
“Am I hearing this correctly? You are demanding I leave?”
“You heard correctly.”
“This is preposterous! Are you insane? I am well within my jurisdiction as Justiciar to deploy my troops in this area. I shall speak to the Jarl myself!”
“I have the Jarl’s authority to speak for him on this matter. Whatever you think you want to say to him, say to me. If you insist on talking to him directly, I am afraid his calendar is pretty full. Perhaps we could book a time for your meeting with him for sometime next week, maybe.”
“This is outlandish!”
“Currently the White-Gold Concordat is suspended within Whiterun Hold. You have no legal rights here. Remove yourself or be arrested.”
“Do you know who I am?”
I couldn’t resist and said to the Justiciar, “Look inside your underwear. That is where I write my name. If you have forgotten yours that might jog your memory!”
Irileth looked at me, and a smile almost broke through that beautiful but stern face. She then turned back to the Justiciar and said, “I’m not going to warn you again.”
The Justiciar spluttered, “You haven’t heard the last of this! I shall be filing a report, yes… then you’ll be sorry.”
The Justiciar stormed off to join the other Thalmor. I could still hear the officer tearing strips off his men.
Irileth said to me, “You must be Wulf. Hadvar filled me in on the dragon situation. I am sure the Jarl would like to hear what you have to say about it all.”
“If you please, tell Jarl Balgruuf that I am checking some things out. I will come and visit him soon and tell him what I know.”
“You step on dangerous ground playing the fool with the Thalmor. Be wary.”
Irileth headed for Whiterun, and I knocked on the door of the blacksmiths.
“I thought we were hurrying for Rigmor’s sake?”
“I need to understand what is happening a bit better. Otherwise, we may endanger Rigmor and ourself through ignorance.”
Hadvar opened the door then smiled when he saw me.
- Hadvar: Wulf! Come in and sit down. My Uncle has a million questions he would love to ask you.
- Wulf: I will come in, but this is a swift visit Hadvar so I won’t sit if you don’t mind.
Hadvar sat at a table with his Uncle. His Aunt stood with arms crossed.
- Hadvar: Uncle Alvor, Aunt Sigrid, this is Wulf, the man that helped me escape Helgen. As I told you earlier, I don’t think I would have made it without him.
- Alvor: I must admit I thought my nephew had been drinking when he first told me the tale. But many of the locals saw the dragon fly over Riverwood even if I didn’t.
- Sigrid: When dragons from legend suddenly appear, people are willing to believe the more fantastic tales told. Some residents are dragging up all sorts of superstitions and omens.
- Wulf: I understand any scepticism you have. I think many strange things beyond the ordinary citizen’s experience or understanding are about to occur. Keeping family close will help buffer the shock.
- Hadvar: I told you he had a way with words. You seem in a hurry Wulf. How can we help you?
- Wulf: Irileth said you spoke to her. That removes my self-imposed burden to see the Jarl immediately. Are you heading for Solitude?
- Hadvar: Irileth informed me that General Tullius has survived and warned the Holds of the danger. Legion Runners and the local couriers are amazingly efficient. I will make my way to Solitude soon but at a less frantic pace than I first thought.
- Wulf: I will go and see Jarl Balgruuf when I can, but I have other things that take immediate priority. I need your opinion on the civil war.
- Hadvar: Okay, what is your opinion of the White-Gold Concordat?
- Wulf: Emperor Mede had no choice. The Dominion knew they had The Empire almost beat. For whatever reason, they did not go for the kill. Perhaps there were rumblings of discontent in Elsweyr and Valenwood, and they were afraid of another front opening? The annexing of some parts of Hammerfell was the worst part, in my opinion. But Emperor Mede did what he could to support the ‘volunteers’ without it being evident that was what he was doing. So the Dominion did not get that chunk of Hammerfell, but The Empire lost another member state.
- Hadvar: What about the ban on Talos worship. You were quite vocal at the execution when the priestess called on Eight Divines.
- Wulf: It makes no difference. The Eight have not come forward and said Talos is not a Divine. Many priests and priestesses of Mara are in contact with Lady Mara. The Sybil in Markarth is in contact with Lady Dibella. If it were blasphemy or heresy to worship Talos as the Ninth Divine, they would have been the first to inform us of Divine displeasure. The Thalmor have no proof of their ridiculous claims and events in history have proved Talos’ Divine status. What people do not realise is that you can walk into a Temple of The Eight or pray before any consecrated Shrine of a Divine and Talos will hear you. There is no need to display the symbols that enrage the Thalmor. Continue to worship him; just don’t do it visibly.
- Hadvar: Tiber Septim, therefore Talos, is a regarded as a Native Son in Skyrim. The ban on his worship has caused great resentment.
- Wulf: He was not a Nord and probably not even Atmoran. The fact Tiber Septim was Man, not Mer, is the basis for the ‘Native Son’ claim. Ulfric has used that false claim to recruit many to his cause. But surely that is not the only reason he rebels. I suspect it is not even a real issue for him.
- Alvor: Many haters of Mer, Khajiit and Argonian rally behind his flag. They get a chance to make “Skyrim is for the Nords” a reality.
- Wulf: Is that a common claim? What about the Falmer and Khajiit who lived here for millennia before Man arrived from Atmora?
- Alvor: Most children today will never know that history.
- Sigrid: When you have people like Ysgramor held up as a heroic figure, then it is inevitable racist attitudes will be the norm for a child growing up in Skyrim.
- Wulf: I have no doubt Ysgramor’s senseless slaughter of the Falmer is portrayed as justifiable and sung with pride in the mead halls. Mostly by men who have never had to take another life in combat.
- Hadvar: Whether his followers be racists or genuine Talos defenders or both, Ulfric is doing this for his advancement. He cares not for those causes. This war is about him becoming High King.
- Wulf: That may be accurate but concrete proof would be needed to prove such an accusation to his followers. Meanwhile brother kills brother. Worshippers of The Divines kill fellow worshippers. I guarantee the corpses of many in Imperial uniform will have an amulet of Talos around their neck. The Thalmor must be laughing. No matter who wins, The Empire will be ripe for the picking after.
- Sigrid: Anybody who sits and thinks would realise that if the Great War continued, all of Tamriel would have fallen to the Dominion. It is only the remnants of The Empire that is stopping them from trying right now.
- Wulf: So the Stormcloaks argue against the best deal Mede could do, then almost guarantee our destruction by starting this senseless war?
- Hadvar: That is an accurate summation.
- Wulf: I thank you all for your opinions on this matter. It has clarified a lot for me. Now I must be going. I have others relying on me, and I have spent more time in Riverwood than I should.
- Hadvar: I have an idea why you disappeared up that path my friend. Just be careful. Bags of gold can turn even the most prominent Thalmor critic.
- Alvor: There is no need to speak in riddles here, my boy. If Wulf is helping that fugitive, then he has nothing to fear from Sigrid and me.
- Hadvar: Jarl Balgruuf was not pleased Thalmor thugs are hunting citizens in Whiterun.
- Wulf: Irileth seems formidable. It will be interesting to see if the Justiciar does what she demanded and leaves the Hold.
I shook Hadvar’s and Alvor’s hands, bowed to Sigrid, then made my way outside.
I looked up and down the main street, and there was no sign of Thalmor. Another wanted poster was on display in front of the Riverwood Trader. I accidentally ripped it down, folded it up and stuck it in my pocket on the way past.
When I entered the store, Lucan was chastising Camilla, his sister, over something. He told her in a rather grumpy tone suggesting finality, “I said no! No adventures, no theatrics, no thief chasing! We are done talking about this!”
Camilla stomped off, and my other half said what I was thinking, “Lucky she is Imperial like him. A Nord speaking to his sister like that would soon find an axe or greatsword embedded in some vital part of his anatomy.”
I stood patiently, waiting for Lucan to calm down enough to realise he had a customer. Finally, a loud cough from me startled him, and he looked up.
He stammered, “I don’t know what you heard, but the Riverwood Trader is still open. Feel free to shop. I am Lucan, the owner.”
“Well met Lucan. I hope you can help me.”
“Well, I do carry an eclectic range of goods. What do you need?”
“Some clean linen suitable for bandages and warm furs that can be used over the shoulder or as blankets.”
“Planning a trip?”
“Yes, north to the icefields. I got caught short of linen last time. Nearly died of infection using dirty rags as bandages.”
Lucas retrieved the items and gave me the price.
I handed some coins over and said, “Here you are and a tip for your excellent service.”
“It was a pleasure. Good luck and remember, Riverwood Trader is always here for your essential purchases.”
I made my way outside, then ran to the boat.
I rowed as fast as I could to Rose’s camp.
When I walked up to her, she said, “That was quick! I thought you would be gone a lot longer.”
“It was? I mean, yeah, straight in and out, that’s Wulf for you. Here is the linen and here are the furs.”
Rose took them off me and said, “Thank you.”
She walked towards Rigmor, and I looked down at our patient.
I gasped. Rigmor has huge and raw welts across her back. It would have taken many sessions to achieve the patterns I saw. All at once would have killed her.
Rose said, “So you noticed the marks of the lash and are probably aware that is far more than one or two beatings. Something tells me this girl has a story to tell. We just need to keep her alive so she can tell it.”
I replied, “Whoever inflicted those scars went to great effort to ensure she survived between whipping sessions. Imagine the conditions in some squalid prison. Without care, infection would have killed her long before the physical damage or loss of blood.”
I watched as Rose dressed the wounds. She applied some daub she had prepared while I went to Riverwood. The bleeding seemed to have stopped. Now Rigmor needed something to help with her strength.
“Are you sure you don’t want to try healing?” asked my other half.
“No, once again, I will listen to intuition on this. Rigmor must have a hell of a constitution to have survived those beatings and that fall off the cliff. She may have a purpose for living that drives her on even when unconscious. Let us trust the old remedies for now.”
Rose said, “I think the bleeding has stopped, but she has lost a lot of blood. Those bandages should help, but we need to keep her warm with the furs.”
Rose covered Rigmor with the furs I purchased then stood.
I asked, “Has she taken any water?”
“Yes, and that is always a good sign. But there is a risk of fever so we must keep the fire alight. It is like your dog knows that and he occasionally dragged another log near the fire, so I didn’t have to go looking for some.”
I stared at Meeko.
My other half commented, “Let us agree he is a dog that is not a dog!”
Rose sat on a stump. I asked her, “There must be more we can do?”
“There will be a bit of waiting. If the girl survives the next few days, there is hope. We can find out who she is, where she comes from, and I can take her home if she has one.”
“Her name is Rigmor. She comes from Bruma and is eighteen years of age so we should stop thinking of her as a child. She is a woman grown and wanted by the Thalmor for murder.”
“What, how do you know that for sure?”
I handed Rose the wanted poster I pilfered in Riverwood.
She looked at it, gasped then exclaimed, “That has got to be the biggest reward for a fugitive ever!”
Rose handed the poster back, then I said, “Jarl Balgruuf has ordered all Thalmor out of Whiterun Hold. I doubt they will take much notice if they want Rigmor that badly.”
“Rigmor of Bruma. It has a ring to it. Well, I am not going to judge her until I hear her side of the story.”
“I would not believe a word a Thalmor says.”
“Well Wulf, you owe me the story of Hadvar and the chopping block. Or was it a noose?”
“Chopping block. The Imperials captured Ulfric Stormcloak, and I was unfortunate enough to be nearby. I wore no armour or weapon but sentenced to death without a charge laid or trial conducted. Just before the axe fell, a dragon attacked and destroyed Helgen. Hadvar and I helped each other survive. He is a good and brave man.”
“So that was a dragon I spotted flying overhead while I stood over Rigmor!”
“Yes. I watched it slaughter hundreds of people in many different ways. But I don’t think that is the only one we will see. If you know your history, we may be in for another Dragon War.”
“What makes you think that?”
“There are many strange things about me, Rose. Let us leave it at that for now.”
“Where are you from?”
“I have no idea. That is one of the strange things.”
“Well, you wandered by at the right time it seems. I am pleased to have met you.”
“I am pleased to have met you, Rose, but I did not wander by, but was directed to you and Rigmor. Somebody wanted me to help her.”
“That symbol you wear is one of them.”
“Strange thing number two. If we continue, I might scare you away, or you will think I am nuttier than a fruitcake.”
“No Wulf, I sense no lack of deception in your voice. You believe what you say so, who am I to argue the contrary.”
“Let us talk about Rose for that is undoubtedly more interesting the Wulf the weird. I doubt you have always been a hunter.”
Rose laughed then said, “You are right. I don’t mind hunting, but despite camping next to a lake, I hate fishing.”
“There must be a reason?”
“My father would always take me fishing and make me sit there by the bank, staring into the water. It made me feel dizzy and sick.”
“That is why you use floats. They can be in the corner of your vision, and you will notice them bobbing if a fish takes the bait.”
“That sounds like a better idea. Anyway, one day he caught this huge fish, and forced me to take it. I could barely hold it in my hands, and he’s yelling at me “Rose, put it back, quickly throw it back into the river.”
“So, he was catching and releasing. A lot of people fish for the excitement, not for food.”
“Yes, that was the idea, but I panicked, and it slipped from my fingers and dropped onto a piece of driftwood. It died, and when I saw the blood mingling in the water, I began to cry. Father never took me fishing ever again.”
“I hope he was not mad at you for showing some compassion.”
“No, he understood. But here I am, a hunter who breaks the necks of snared rabbits with my bare hands and doesn’t think twice. But fishing, I could never do that for sport or food.”
“So, you hunt and Hedren fishes?”
“That is perceptive of you.”
“Is Hedren your partner?”
“No, no. Hedren is a good friend. That is all.”
“Sorry, that was an impertinent question. Let me display a total lack of etiquette and probe some more. What did you do before becoming a hunter? Where did you do your military service?”
“How could you… ”
The conversation was interrupted by Rigmor moaning. I was encouraged as it was the first sound I had heard from her and was the most significant confirmation of life so far.
My inner voice observed, “We are investing some emotion in Rigmor surviving. Why, when we hardly know her and death seems to be part of our existence if today is any indication?”
“I think it is her will. She is a fighter, and there must be a compelling reason she does not take the easy path to the afterlife. The Divines wanted us to help her, but really, their want is secondary to my desire to see her healthy and able to fulfil that compelling reason.”
“Not much different than Rose’s motivation then?”
“Not much difference at all.”
Rose knelt next to Rigmor and offered her some water in a small cup. She said to the young woman, “Hey, it’s alright, you’re going to be fine. Sip some water… that’s it, there you go.”
Rose had seen Rigmor drink some water while I was in Riverwood. So, it was not as joyous to her as it was to me. A further sign confirming life existed in that battered and bruised body.
Rigmor drifted back to the darkness that aids recovery.
I said with unhidden hope in my voice, “That is a good sign, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Wulf. It is a good sign. I need to make some stew for her. We are going to need to build her up. Some venison and cabbages will help.”
“Do you want me to go hunting? Or will there be some at your other camp?”
“I sold some venison to Anise recently. She makes a special potion made from nettles, and that will help Rigmor if she gets a fever.”
“Nettles? Oh, you mean Thistle Branch. Yes, you mix that with Grass Pod, and the imbiber can resist ingested poisons and those caused by illness.”
“You know Alchemy?”
“Umm, it would appear so. I have no idea who Anise is.”
“She is a local wise woman. I suspect she is more than that, but everybody is allowed their little secrets. Her cabin is to the east of here. Tell her Rose sent you and she will allow you to take what you need. We have been bartering for years. Anise knows I will repay her.”
“And you recently sold her some venison?”
“Yes, that was lucky, wasn’t it?”
“I am starting to doubt much luck is involved in this Rose.”
“About my military experience. How did you know?”
“Well, you are not a witch. No wart. Too young to be a Wise Woman. They know nothing till the wrinkles start. As for physician, if you were one of them, you would not be breaking rabbit necks for a living. So logically, you were a soldier who has attended wounded comrades in the field.”
“Yes, I was in the Legion. It isn’t the first time I have had to do something like this.”
“I am sorry if I seem like I am prying.”
“That is okay. I will tell you about it sometime, and you can tell me more strange things about Wulf.”
“Okay, I will head for Anise’s cabin and take everything not nailed down.”
“Joking Anise. She is probably a witch anyway, and I would hate being a frog.”
“I almost forgot, Rigmor’s cuirass. Can you take it to the blacksmith in Riverwood and get it repaired?”
“It is a unique piece of armour and probably on the Thalmor watch list. I would not feel right getting Alvor involved.”
“In that case, only give it to Hedren. He works as a part-time apprentice to Alvor.”
“I can imagine the whining already. I know Hedren is your friend, but he has the backbone of a jellyfish.”
“Tell him it is a favour for me. He might surprise you and do what is right.”
“I doubt young Rigmor will be in a state to use it for quite some time. But okay, since I am near there, I might as well.”
I turned to Meeko and said, “More guard duty. You up to it?”
“You know he only ever says woof.”
“It is HOW he says woof.”
“Okay. Sure. Can you talk to trees as well?”
“What stupidity makes you think I could talk to trees?”
“They have barks as well!”
I set off for Anise’s at a jog. It was twilight, and I thought she would have lights on by the time I reach her cabin so it should be easy to spot.
I had not gone far when I felt a compulsion to stop and look over at New Vivec.
I could barely make out a man with a white beard staring at me from across the water. A young boy and his dog came running up to him. Even from this distance, a sense of familiarity struck me. I was straining my eyes to see if I could make out more features. I blinked, and he was gone. The boy and the dog ran off to play some more.
“We should go and see if the boy knows who he is.”
“No, now is not the time.”
“Yep. Let us go. Rigmor needs our help.”
Without a glance back, we continued our jog to Anise’s.
We passed an old Nordic tomb. Footprints were leading to and from it, and there was a flicker of torchlight in the entrance. I kept jogging.
Further on and in the distance I could see another sizeable Nordic ruin.
I arrived at Anise’s quicker than I thought I would. She had not yet lit her lanterns, so I almost missed the cabin in the fading daylight.
Anise was sitting down, finishing her supper. She did not seem at all worried when this huge stranger approached her.
“Good evening, you must be Anise?”
I could not help but study her carefully. Her skin was pale, and she was not as old as I had expected. Logic told me why.
“I was a beauty in my day dear, don’t act so surprised.”
“You still are a beauty Anise. I am only surprised that you are wearing the robes of the College of Winterhold and a mixture of the different Schools of Magicka.”
“Not all of us seek cushy jobs in the castles and keeps of the rich. Sometimes one must isolate to study in peace.”
“Especially if one practices Schools of Magicka currently frowned upon in polite circles.”
“You are a very perceptive young man. Be careful it does not lead to a sticky end.”
“I trust Rose’s judgement of character so doubt you would harm me without provocation.”
“You are correct. As long as you do not stick your nose where it does not belong, you have nothing to fear from old Anise. If Rose sent you, then look around and take what you need. I know she will give fair trade when she gets the chance.”
“Thank you, Anise.”
The salted side of venison as too bulky so I cut some excellent steaks and wrapped them in cabbage leaves. I opened and smelt various potions till I found the one Rose wanted. I then headed for Riverwood.
I could easily swim across the river with the dweomer on my armour.
I decided to try my luck at jumping from rock to rock instead. Several hungry Slaughterfish looked disappointed when I didn’t fall in.
Hedren was at the forge when I arrived. He looked wary as I approached.
“Good evening Hedren. Rose said you would be willing to help us.”
“Sure, what is the problem.”
I placed Rigmor’s armour emblem side down onto the workbench and said, “Can you please repair this armour for us?”
Hedren gasped, “Are you mad? The Bruma crest is a dead giveaway!”
“Nobody would have known the crest was there as I just placed it face down, so it was not visible. Now anybody in Riverwood who has working ears knows the armour is from Bruma.”
“Oh no, the Thalmor have their spies everywhere, especially that thug Morion.”
“If you are going to panic, I will fix the armour myself. Just lend me some blacksmith gloves and move aside.”
“No, I will do it. Tell Rose she owes me big time for this!”
“I will make sure the keg of milk is delivered soon. Now who is the Moron?”
“MO RI ON. Not moron. He is some distant relative to the Jarl of Falkreath. Morion has been sniffing around asking people questions about that girl in the wanted posters.”
“Can you fix it or not? All you have to do is be careful.”
“Give me a couple of days. Hopefully the Thalmor will have left by then.”
“The Jarl’s Housecarl, Irileth, told them to leave Whiterun Hold. You should have no worries. The repairs are not extensive. See if you can have it done by tomorrow and then we can take it off your hands.”
“I will try.”
“Thank you, Hedren.”
“If anybody asks, you came here to check out the shop!”
“Why would they be suspicious of me visiting the blacksmith? But good advice Hedren. I would have just told them I was getting the hunted woman’s armour fixed and good old Hedren was helping me. That would have turned out awkward!”
I ran back to Rose’s camp and found her preparing some stew. I handed her the venison and cabbage leaves which she threw into the mixture.
“Have you got the potion as well?”
“Yes, here you go.”
I handed Rose the small bottle which she pocketed. Then she asked, “So, how was Anise?”
“Looking good for her advanced years. Many Necromancers look young for their age.”
“You didn’t go into her basement, did you? I forgot to warn you about that!”
“No, I let her know straight away I suspected what she was. She trusted me as I was representing you. So, I would have breached her hospitality and dirtied your name if I trespassed. I have no problems with Necromancy. It is just another School of Magicka, and all of them can be used for immoral purposes.”
“What did Hedren say?”
“He would never make an undercover agent. Anyway, he said it would take a few days. I told him to do it overnight so we can remove the danger quicker. He is terrified of the Thalmor.”
“Yes, the damage wasn’t all that bad. I knew I could rely on Hedren even if he is terrified.”
I knelt to have a good look at Rigmor. Her breathing was strong and steady, and she seemed to be sleeping, not in a comatose state. I was amazed at her rapid improvement.
“Go on. Heal Rigmor!” urged my overconfident other half.
“Okay, I think I can do this.”
Rose was sitting and watching. She gasped in surprise when Magicka circled my hands.
I cast a spell on Rigmor who briefly lit up with Magicka coursing through her body.
Rose sat stunned when the spell surrounding Rigmor slowly faded.
After a few seconds, she asked worriedly, “What did you do?”
“Do you know those great big and really expensive healing potions?”
“The ones that come in flagon sized bottles?”
“Yes, those. That spell I just cast, Grand Healing, is more powerful than two of those.”
“Why didn’t you do that earlier?”
“Because I only just remembered how to do it. Another weird thing about Wulf. He doesn’t even know if that is his name. He doesn’t know where he comes from. He woke minutes before putting his head on that chopping block and is slowly learning what he can and can’t do.”
“That must be… “
“Really weird? Yes, it is.”
“Is the stew I am preparing still needed?”
“Yes Rose, very much so. The Restoration spell helps knit broken bones and repair the internal organs etcetera. But the patient is still weak and needs the nutrition things like that stew provide. I expect Rigmor will be ravenous as her body will demand the sustenance it needs. The spell relies on some of the patients own energy to work. That is why even the best Restoration Mage can’t save everybody. If the Magicka drains too much energy from a patient, it will kill them instantly. I judged Rigmor to be healthy enough to survive the spell. Like everything else today, things seem to have fallen in place like it is part of an intricate plan.”
“And you intend to hang around? She may be healthy enough for us to move on in a day or two after that spell!”
“I will stay. I want to stay. Helping Rigmor is my priority right now.”
“You are a good person! That is a rare thing these days.”
“I have no idea what I have done in the past. I would withhold judgment on my morality for now.”
“We can take it in turns watching her if you like?”
“Yes, I would like that. Rigmor knows your voice now so if she wakes it would be best if you talk and comfort her.”
“You are probably right.”
“This a very nice place. The lake and surroundings are beautiful.”
“The Thalmor and their lackeys won’t find her here. The mill over yonder belongs to Hern and Hert, but I wouldn’t approach them at night time if I were you.”
“Vampires don’t just feed at night.”
“None of the locals seem to worry about them, and they even have town guards protecting them.”
“Protecting the tax income that the Jarl gets from a profitable mill, you mean.”
“Sometimes you sound a bit cynical.”
“The truth is what is important, not being politically correct.”
“Wulf, I was wondering, no forget it, it is far too dangerous.”
“If you need something done then ask and I will decide if it is too dangerous.”
“No, forget it. It’s only a rumour anyway. You have already done so much.”
“Repeat after me. ‘Wulf is a grown-up boy and can make decisions for himself.’”
“Okay. You know several places around here are dangerous and home to necromancers, bandits, that sort of thing. Well, lately, some have been getting to close for comfort.”
“There are a myriad things outside the bright lights of civilisation that are dangerous.”
“True. But I was thinking, once Rigmor is safely back where she should be, what then? I can’t carry on doing this for the rest of my life. It gets more dangerous every day. Now you have come along, there is a chance to get out of here once and for all.”
“Keep going. You are almost there.”
“There is a rumour that on the very top of the mountain behind me, there is an ancient shrine. It is said to be full of gold and treasures. No-one who has ever tried to climb it has survived. All have perished, and not even the bandits dare attempt the summit.”
“Bandits not trying proves nothing for they are all cowardly scum. I am not going to raid the tomb of an ancient warrior or desecrate a shrine to any God. But I am willing to have a look. Just don’t be disappointed if there is nothing there. If nobody has made it to the summit, how does anybody know it is full of treasure?”
“So, you will at least take a look?”
“I will see how dangerous it is first. If I try it and manage to get to the summit, there may be nothing there or things that I am not comfortable taking. Any valuables that I am comfortable taking we will discuss the sharing of when I return. You will, at a minimum, get a half share.”
“You want a new life. I would be happy to give all I find for you to achieve that. I don’t think I will have much trouble earning money and you deserve that new life.”
“We have kind of got pushed together because of Rigmor. You have shown time and time again that you are virtuous, kind and caring. I know it’s a long shot, and so totally out of character for me…”
“Please stop. I understand so stop thinking you are taking advantage of whatever good nature you believe I have. You are asking a favour of a friend, and he has said yes. Let us leave it at that.”
“Only if you’re sure.”
“Rose! Now, where do I start? I do not know this area.”
“Head straight towards the mountain. Where the snow starts, there is a gold ore vein. Once there, just face the mountain and climb.”
“People walk past a known source of wealth, gold, in the pursuit of rumoured wealth. Maybe I am not the weird one?”
“Please be very careful. I don’t know what is up there.”
“Make sure the stew is at an edible temperature. I am warning you that if Rigmor wakes, she will be starving!”
Meeko whined. I said to him, “Yes, you are probably starving as well. Hunt a rabbit or whatever but do not go too far. You are guarding Rigmor and Rose again.”
As Meeko dashed off into the dark Rose said, “Thank you, Wulf. I will find a way to repay you, I promise.”
I wandered away from the fire and let my eyes adjust to the dark. I turned my lamp up high enough so I could see the pathways but not wreck my night vision. After a few minutes of walking, I was at the snow level of the mountain. Not long after that, I spotted the sizeable ore vein.
I looked up at Masser and could see a flag waving in the breeze.
“That is a good way up. Are you sure of this?”
“I doubt that is even halfway. And yes, this will be fun.”
“On the way to Anise, we passed two ancient tombs. Didn’t you feel the urge to enter and investigate the unknown?”
“No, and that is why to survive, we will have to learn to listen to each other.”
“What, I control your murderous outrages devoid of pity, and you stop me enjoying the exploration of ancient ruins?”
“Sounds fair to me.”
Secunda was also prominent in the cloudless night sky.
I turned my lamp up a bit. It is no use having excellent night vision when plummeting to your death. I soon came across stairways leading up the slopes.
“You know I have got to ask.”
“Who the hell made these steps and why?”
“Why would they make the ascent easier for anybody else?”
“Perhaps it is a temple to a god and disciples made the steps?”
“That makes sense, so it is probably not the correct answer.”
“Well, I am not willing to put this down to gobblygook just yet.”
The views would have been spectacular if I could see more than a few feet past the light of the lamp.
I came to a small ledge where an angry Ice Troll greeted me.
“It looks like your girlfriend is annoyed.”
“That would be right. As I prepare to fight, you stare at the genitals. I have no idea what gender it is.”
Trolls are big but not fast. It took seconds to cut it down. I still had no idea of its gender.
There were several victims of the troll scattered around.
I reached the flag I had seen from below, and as predicted, that was not the summit.
Plenty of corpses lined the path. Some looked like they had succumbed to the rarefied air or bitter cold. Some had fallen far enough to kill them outright or break bones so they could not continue.
I was not surprised by the next Ice Troll, and a few arrows dispatched it quickly.
I looked up at Masser once more and could see another flag fluttering. There was still a lot of climbing to do.
I eventually reached the door to the mystery building.
“A shrine to Azura is my guess.”
“The Dunmer architecture suggests that.”
“It is probably full of Ash Yams.”
“I wonder how much they sell for in Skyrim?”
“Irileth might buy them off you.”
We entered, and as I guessed, it was a temple to Azura.
“Umm…more Daedric than usual don’t you think?”
“She does have a dark side, but I prefer to think of her as one of the nicer Daedric Princes.”
“Let us see if this is an ancestor burial place before we touch anything.”
A large rose, a universal symbol of Azura, sat next to a note which read,
“A gift from Azura
Do not waver, weary traveller, accept this gift with only the truest of hearts. Take it with the love and blessings of Azura. Only with the purest of intentions, lest we become corrupted, take heed when a gift becomes a curse.”
I checked the contents of various Dunmer jars. They contained Ash Yams. The skeletons surrounding the shrine were charred, suggesting they were deceased Dunmer cremated as is their custom since the Red Mountain exploded.
Do I believe the note or not? It was certainly not written by Azura! Like all the gods, Aedra, Daedra and others, she has little or no physical interaction with Nirn due to Martin Septim’s sacrifice. His barrier replaced that of the Dragonfires.
One of her seers may have wrote it. They speak directly to her.
I decided the Ash Yams are usually the only worldly possession Dunmer send to the afterlife with their ancestors. They do not leave bags of gold. So, I gathered up the riches, including the rose and a red mountain flower sitting next to it. I estimated about 5000 septims in total. That would be enough for Rose to start a new life.
I said aloud, “I thank you, Lady Azura. This coin will aid a good-hearted woman named Rose. That must surely please you.”
The coins weighed quite a bit, but at least I was going downwards now.
As we descended, my other half stated, “This is once again not a coincidence.”
“I am an instrument of The Divines. But I can understand Azura not wanting ill for Nirn. She has her people, the Khajiit, who she loves and protects. Other Daedric Princes who which to destroy Nirn and Mundus, or enslave or kill all mortals have different goals than her.”
“Rose’s name seems appropriate if Azura is sticking her fingers in the metaphysical pie along with The Divines.”
“You can worship a combination of Aedra and Daedra. The Khajiit do it without problems. The Empire’s pantheon, The Nine, was made up by Saint Alessia after she defeated the Ayleid. It is a combination of the Mer and Man gods we call The Divines. Many elven aspects of Auri-El deemphasised to create Akatosh, for instance. Kyne and Kynareth were combined. I can’t see The Divines and Azura officially co-operating. For a start, they can’t exist in each other’s plane! But perhaps there is a common goal, so they don’t actively try and thwart each other.”
“That is a mighty fine piece of speculation!”
“When most people go through such a thought process, they do not have an annoying other in their head commenting as they go.”
“I guess you are just lucky then!”
I made my way back to camp without plummeting to my death which was good. The first thing I noticed was a significant amount of the stew was gone.
I could see the anticipation on Rose’s face as I approached.
“Well? Did you find anything? Was there any treasure?”
“There sure was. Here is your gift from Lady Azura.”
I dropped the bags of coins at Rose’s feet and watched as her face went pale.
“Where is you half?”
“It is all yours, Rose. Just over 5000 septims I believe.”
“Why would you give it all to me?”
“As I said before, you deserve a new life. I can make coin easy with my skills, and I do not need any right now. I suggest you deposit it in the bank in Riverwood.”
“I will do that. I can plan and make life better for myself with this. I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Thank me by making a better life for yourself. That is my reward.”
“I always wanted to visit the Gold Coast. Once I am done helping Rigmor, I’ll make my way to Cyrodiil and see where the adventure takes me.”
“Sounds good. Maybe Rigmor, as a resident of Bruma, may know where to go and who to see. Even if that part of Cyrodiil is a fair distance from her home, I assume it is a popular destination.”
“That would be good. Returning Rigmor home and getting a head start on my Cyrodiil adventures. What will you do after Rigmor is better?”
“Whatever The Divines wish of me. I am slowly learning who and what I am. Today has provided plenty of clues. I assume they will let me know more over the next few days.”
“That sounds terrifying, being a puppet of The Divine!”
“I would like to think they recruited me because my values coincide with theirs. But I am just guessing at the moment. Right now, I must concentrate on what I do know, and that is we have a sick young woman with us. How was she while I went mountain climbing?”
“You were right about the stew. She took to it like your dog did with his rabbit. I am sure her table manners are usually more ladylike.”
“Has she been passing water? Solids?”
“She seemed embarrassed when she realised she wore a giant nappy! But her water is no longer red, and after that meal, I have no doubt she will need to pass solids tomorrow.”
“My healing would not remove all toxins. Did you use the potion?”
“Yes, and I think it helped a great deal. I don’t think it will be too long before Rigmor is sitting up.”
“We have been her Guardian Angels and not by accident. I am looking forward to helping her get back home.”
Rose was looking at me a particular way.
“I think she finds me rather alluring!”
“I don’t care about your opinion on such things. If you are what I think you are, you would not even know about such things. So, shut up.”
Rose said in a meek voice, “I did say I would think of a way to reward you.”
“Rigmor living is all the reward I need. I know what you are hinting at Rose and respectfully decline.”
“Oh, I embarrass myself yet again. Life is hard for me. I’m sorry.”
“Do not be sorry. I have no objections to people finding comfort through such intimacy. It is just not for me, and right now, I could not tell you why. I also know that sometimes people take advantage of kind people like you.”
“Yes, you are not like the others.”
“I am so sorry you have had to deal with such people. Yet another reason you have to get away and make sure you are never in such a position again. You are beautiful, kind and loving. I just want to help you and Rigmor. That is all the reward I need.”
“Okay, now I am blushing. Thank you. That means a lot.”
“They are not empty compliments. You have a big heart. When you are not struggling to make a living, many others will come to see that.”
Rose laughed, and it could easily catch the heart of the right man or woman. But I am not the one for her.
“I really appreciate it. I really do.”
“The Divines may have sent me to help Rigmor, but I am delighted I got to meet you.”
“You will make a good husband one day for some lucky person.”
“With what I am learning about myself, I would be the lucky one if anybody accepted me into their heart.”
“Why don’t we get some rest?”
“Go ahead and sleep. I will watch Rigmor a while. I will try not to wake you when crawling into the other furs. Have no fear of surprises with Meeko guarding us.”
Rose was exhausted. She literally staggered over to the tent, covered herself with furs and was gently snoring withing minutes.
I sat and stared at Rigmor. I could not concentrate on a single thought as my brain tried to process all that had happened since I awoke on that carriage. The only thing I knew for sure is that the young woman in front of me is my priority at the moment. If chasing up knowledge that might help is delayed, then so be it. Meeko came over and stretched himself out between Rigmor and me so I could no longer see her.
“Is that a hint I should get some sleep?” I asked him.
He looked at the tent then back to me and whined.
I looked at the stars and estimated it to be around 1:00 AM. I was not physically tired but mentally exhausted. I took Meeko’s advice and made my way to the tent then crawled under the other set of furs.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know it was difficult to achieve as the replay of all the kills I had done in one day ran through my mind.
I silently prayed to The Divines, “Please, do not let that be my legacy. I am more than a killing machine. Aren’t I?”
The old man standing in New Vivec said to the stars, “Yes, my son, much more. Be patient.”