Rigmor of Bruma & Skyrim quests: Before the Storm, Dragon Rising, Bleak Falls Barrow, The Golden Claw.
Rigmor and me decided to travel with very little talking. The simple reason being we wished to hear any problems before we stumbled on them. Also, there is a good chance somebody or something may ambush us at some stage.
Our first encounter was with two Spriggan who killed a troll.
After dispensing with the troll, the Spriggans, without provocation, attacked us.
Rigmor has never learned to fight from horseback. It can be done with a hand and a half sword such as her bastard sword, but it takes a lot of strength. So Rigmor always dismounts Ben while I usually charge aboard Hashire.
It did not take long to dispense with the Spriggans, but these little skirmishes waste our time.
When the entrance to Helgen came in sight, I stopped. Smoke still lifted skywards, and I had no doubt fires would still be burning even days after the Dovah attack.
Rigmor watched me with concern on her face but did not say anything. She knew I was reliving the horror of that day. I rode Hashire forward at a plodding walk.
I dismounted and stood before the block. Kalsing’s blood was still visible. I thanked The Divines his head wasn’t.
I said to Rigmor, “I was kneeling, with my head on the block, when the Dovah attacked.”
I looked up at the tower on which the Dovah had landed. I pointed to it and said, “He landed on top of that tower. He looked into my eyes, and he knew what I was. I find it ironic that the tower is one of the least damaged buildings.”
Rigmor asked, “Is that when you first thought you might be Dragonborn?”
“There were a few clues. A couple of times I spoke and my voice, without effort, carried around Helgen and echoed off its walls and buildings.”
“That would have generated a few stares!”
“He said something in Dovahzul, the language of dragons, before he landed and I understood him. He said, ‘Zu’u lost daal’, which means ‘I have returned’.”
“You used The Voice and could understand a dragon. They are huge clues!”
“I didn’t use what Nords call ‘The Voice’. I used the power of the Thu’um to amplify my voice but not as a weapon. I do not have the knowledge to use it as a weapon yet.”
“But you know how to cast spells. Why would you not know how to use the Thu’um like Ulfric?”
“Casting spells is not a natural ability with mortals. Magicka and its use is something you study, like sword fighting and archery. Just about anybody can cast spells, but their effectiveness and how often they can cast them varies greatly. Scrolls work because the mages who transcribe them have embedded Magicka within the writing that is released upon recitation.”
“So, like your ability with sword and bow, your ability with Magicka came from learning and practice.”
“Precisely. The Thu’um is similar, but it takes a lot more study and practice to do even the simplest things with it, apart from amplify your voice like I did. I don’t believe I have ever been taught how to use it as a weapon.”
“Ulfric used it to kill High King Torygg. He is not a Dragonborn, is he?”
“No, he isn’t a Dragonborn. He would have been taught how to use the Thu’um by The Greybeards.”
“I have heard of them. They are old men who live near the Throat of the World.”
“They are Tongues. That is the old Nord word for those who can use the Thu’um in combat.”
“Haven’t a lot of the Emperors been Dragonborn?”
“That is where it can get confusing. All Septim Emperors were Dragonborn, but not all were the type of Dragonborn that I think I am. They had dragon blood, which allowed them to keep the Dragonfires lit and wear the Amulet of Kings. They were not further blessed by Akatosh and given a dragon soul.”
“What would a dragon soul allow you to do?”
“Those mortals that we know for certain had a dragon soul could produce Shouts, the magic spells of the Thu’um, with far more strength than even the best Tongues. Reman Cyrodiil and Tiber Septim, for instance.”
“But the histories don’t say they spent years studying the Thu’um?”
“That is another reason why I think the dragon soul is important. It makes the ability to learn and use Shouts natural, as it is with Dov, dragons. They are born with the ability, so was Tiber Septim and others. They may not have known for decades they had that ability.”
“Until somebody or something told them?”
“Some say that Reman discovered it by chance when he decided to learn from some Tongues. Some say the ghosts of previous Dragonborn visited and told Tiber Septim. According to the histories, Tiber Septim already suspected he was Dragonborn because he could read Word Walls, which are written in the glyphs of Dovahzul, without studying beforehand. I would love to speak to some of these historical people and get the real story. Our histories are full of embellishments, inaccuracies and propaganda. For instance, Nords think Tiber Septim was a Nord. He was either Atmoran or from High Rock and spent his formative years with Colovians.”
“Could a child use the Thu’um?”
“Imagine burping your baby, and he destroys half the house with a single belch!”
“Meeko can do that with his rear end.”
“I don’t think a child can use the Thu’um. They probably have to wait till puberty at least. But that is just speculation on my part.”
“You mentioned you talked to the Dovah. What did you say to him?”
“When I was on the chopping block staring up at him, I said, “Kruziik gein. Zu’u paar wah tinvaak nuz dii tiid los ko.’ That roughly translates to, ‘Ancient one. I desire to speak but my time is over.’”
“Surely they stopped the execution when the dragon attacked!”
“Everything was chaotic. You don’t expect a monster from childhood tales to appear suddenly. But the headsman was determined to continue. He was getting ready to lift his axe again when the Dovah used two Shouts. The first Shout made meteors crash to the ground, squashing people and buildings alike. The second Shout knocked everybody flying like leaves in the wind. But it was strange!”
“The Dovah held back. He did not use all the power he could have in the second Shout. I saw him use it later on in the battle, and it was devastating.”
“Ulfric, General Tullius and others were there. I thought he attacked Helgen to kill them?”
“That might have been his intention. But then he saw me. Another Dovah but one who could not fight him.”
“Aren’t dragons ruthless?”
“They can be, but friendly dragons exist. Tiber Septim befriended one that joined the Imperial Legion! I don’t think this Dovah is my friend. I just don’t think he wanted to kill me when I could not fight back.”
“But he would kill you if he saw you now?”
“Of that, I am certain. Especially if he is who I think.”
“Who do you think he is?”
“Let’s just leave that for now. I have already speculated way too much.”
“You are afraid, aren’t you?”
“I am afraid of the burden that may be placed on my shoulders. I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid for all the others l would have failed. Let us continue to Whiterun for I have had enough of this place.”
The burning buildings were not on fire during or immediately after the battle. Embers flew and landed in nooks and crannies. A bit of wind in the right direction and just like a person trying to light a campfire, flames spring up. People sifting through the rubble to retrieve possessions and bodies would also stoke fires anew. Soon all the fire will be gone. Just ashes and that infernal smell of burnt flesh will remain.
As we exited Helgen, a recurring thought continued to haunt me.
My Dovah said, “You can’t save everybody even if you reach your full potential. That is a fact you must learn to live with.”
“How many children died wondering why mum and dad could not save them?”
“I don’t know, by they did not expect Wulf to save them!”
“But people will expect that because the songs and prophecies say he will. Prophecies offer no guaranteed outcomes. Songs are deliberately positive.”
“Afterlife gives understanding. Nobody is going to spend eternity blaming you for their death.”
When we exited Helgen, a Conjurer was arguing with a Storm Atronach. It was probably one he summoned and did not have the skill to control.
He destroyed the Atronach and then decided he would attack us for no other reason than he thought he was all-powerful. He yelled out, “You can’t even conceive of the power I wield!”
I jumped off Hashire and hit him with Lightening.
He screamed as the bolt made a hole in his centre. He died fully conceiving the power I wield.
We remounted and continued while coyotes came to sniff at the smouldering corpse.
I had chosen our route so I could ride through Helgen and enter Riverwood by a side entrance.
Just before Riverwood came into view, I dismounted and walked to a cliff edge. I didn’t say a word as Rigmor approached.
She asked, “You did not bring me here for the view, did you?”
“No. When you were sleeping and not unconscious, you had several recurring nightmares. I assume whatever gave you those scars is one of them. The other is colourful cursing aimed at somebody or something, then a scream.”
“You think the second is when I jumped off the cliff? Is this where it happened?”
“Look and try and remember.”
“Why? Why would you bring me here, Guardian?”
“The same reason I deliberately went through Helgen when I could have avoided it. Don’t let your brain make up the story. Remember it. Let the reality replace the nightmare.”
“It wasn’t the Thalmor but their damn dogs. They were not interested in capturing me. They wanted to tear me to shreds, and they kept finding me. Even if I crossed a river, they would go up and down the bank till they picked up the scent again. I thought if I got to The Rift, my pursuers would give up. That is Stormcloak country, and everybody from farmers to guards would attack them on sight.”
“But you did not know the countryside.”
“My luck had run out. I heard the river and thought I would head for it. Even if the Dogs did pick up my scent again after I crossed, I would get a breather. Then I found myself pinned against this cliff. As the dogs closed in, I called them some inventive names, made my choice and jumped into the tree with the most branches.”
“Were the Thalmor far behind the hounds?”
“Yes, I don’t think they saw me jump.”
“So, they might have thought you simply eluded them again?”
“That would explain why they didn’t head for my landing spot.”
“If they looked down, they would not have seen you. Even standing as close as I am to you right now, I could hardly see you amongst the clover and nettles.”
“How did Rose find me?”
“I never asked her, but I assume she was hunting.”
“I didn’t remember any of that till just now.”
“You now know the truth and can tell your imagination to keep quiet. The reality was scary but logical, and it is over. You survived, and the Thalmor with their hounds did not find you. You won!”
“Thank you, Guardian.”
“What for, I just want to get uninterrupted sleep.”
“Yeah, right. Pfft!”
As we headed back the short distance to the horses, Rigmor asked, “Guardian, do you sleep?”
“Very little. I don’t think Dov sleep at all. I tend to get more tired mentally than physically. I think my sleep is to give my brain a rest rather than my body.”
We entered Riverwood via the side entrance. It is a pretty town and children were running around playing a game with a dog. They were arguing over what make-believe monster their canine friend was supposed to be. I thought the boy was right. The dog’s long legs made him more of a spider than a dragon.
As we rode out of Riverwood, I said to Rigmor, “They have removed the wanted posters. I bet plenty of bounty hunters have already got a copy.”
“Should I try and disguise myself?”
“You can’t disguise beauty.”
“Nothing Rigmor. Nothing at all.”
A slight grin on Rigmor’s face let me know she heard me.
My Dovah asked, “Is that wise? Who knows where The Divines are going to drag you! Rigmor deserves to go home and live a normal life.”
“Dragon blood and dragon soul but a mortal heart. I am what the Gods wanted.”
“But are you what Rigmor needs?”
The countryside between Riverwood and Whiterun is undeniable beautiful.
When the city came into view, Rigmor exclaimed, “Whoa! Is that Whiterun? That city is huge?”
“Solitude makes Whiterun look small, which is hard to imagine.”
“The Imperial City is enormous. Much bigger than Solitude or Whiterun. But I think the different levels makes Whiterun seem more majestic to me.”
As we rode past a meadery I said, “Look at the repairs to the walls. They are testament to a violent past. Although Skyrim has enjoyed relative peace for centuries, Ulfric is trying to spark the days of old where might is right. He wants the High King, or High Queen decided by bloodshed, not merit. Skyrim does not need that.”
“The counties in Cyrodiil have been peaceful under Emperor Mede. But the politics are still a vicious game and women are commodities. In some ways, I am glad I am no longer a noble.”
“Another thing taken by the Thalmor. Maybe soon I can speak about it all. You deserve to know.”
“Whenever you are ready Rigmor.”
A bit further on Rigmor exclaimed, “Whoa! Check that out. They’re fighting a giant!”
As concerned farmers watched, three warriors were fighting a giant and not doing too well. I urged Hashire into a gallop.
I leapt off Hashire then rolled into a run.
I hacked into the giant and soon brought him down.
Two of the warriors stood before me. The woman said, “You would make a good shield brother.”
“You do not wear the armour, but I see your friend does. Are you both Companions?”
“Yes. If you are interested in joining us, speak to Kodlak in our hall.”
“Why would I join a bunch of mercenaries? I hope you refund whoever you charged to take care of this giant since he was batting you around like a cat with a mouse until I rescued you. I suppose you enjoy sitting around boasting of glorious battle and valour? What a crock of shit! I help people because they need it, not because they can pay and I find no enjoyment in battle. Enjoy your shallow existence, but it is not for me.”
I walked back to Hashire, leapt onto the saddle and continued to the Whiterun stables.
Rigmor rode up beside me and asked, “You know of The Companions?”
“A bunch of Ysgramor loving parasites. They wouldn’t rescue their mothers unless they paid upfront.”
“Yet they are heroes amongst most Nords.”
“Ulfric has followers. That tells you how few people examine their heroes as close as they should. Even Tiber Septim had questionable morals.”
“Isn’t judging somebody with hindsight unfair?”
“There is a difference between understanding the reasons and blindly ignoring the reasons for somebody’s actions. Retaliation against the Falmer may have been justifiable. Forgiving Ysgramor for the genocide that followed based on that original justification is what most Nords have done.”
“I noticed you staring intently at the two Companions.”
“They have the stink of a Daedric Prince on them. I am just not sure which one.”
“Are you saying the famous Companions are Daedric Worshippers?
“Many respectable people are Daedric Worshippers. There are whole nations of Daedric Worshippers! Azura is one of the Dark Lords! I just find it odd when 99.99% of Nords worship The Nine that some of their most popular hero figures do not.”
“Just another mystery to add to your collection?”
“Yeah, it will probably end up on the gobblygook pile.”
We stabled our horses and paid the stablemaster a few septims to feed and groom them.
Rigmor asked, “That inside compass thing you have. Any change?”
“We need to enter the city. At the moment I am pretty sure we are headed for Dragonsreach.”
As we walked toward the entrance, Rigmor observed, “I would hate to attack this place. All those towers would be full of archers raining death down upon their enemy.”
“That would not be fun!”
We walked past a stream flowing from within the city. It was clean water and not contaminated by sewerage.
As we got within sight of Whiterun’s only gate, one of the city guards approached us.
He demanded, “Halt! The city is closed with the dragons about. Official business only.”
“I survived Helgen and am here to report what I know to Jarl Balgruuf the Greater.”
“Irileth told us to expect you. Welcome to Whiterun.”
The guard returned to his position, and we entered the city.
The streets were surprisingly empty.
We walked past a blacksmith in an animated conversation with an Imperial Legion Lieutenant. The Legionnaire was putting pressure on her to make more swords for the Legion. She suggested he talk to another blacksmith to ensure adequate supply. He refused to do so based on dislike for the other blacksmith.
I asked Rigmor, “Do you have any idea who Eorlund Gray-Mane is?”
“No, but that soldier doesn’t like him at all.”
“If weapons are needed then you have a responsibility to procure them for the rank and file soldiers. A shortage caused by personal bias is unforgivable.”
“It seems a bit petulant doesn’t it.”
We walked past one tavern and could see another in the distance.
Rigmor said, “I’m falling in love with this place already?”
“Because it is pretty or the fact there are several taverns.”
“Both. But where is everybody?”
The market was more populated, and Rigmor showed great interest in the goods on display as we walked past the many stores.
In front of a magnificent statue of Tiber Septim was a Priest of Talos giving a loud and heartfelt sermon.
I listened and was not pleased with what I heard. Here is what the priest shouted to the few who were paying attention,
“Talos the mighty! Talos the unerring! Talos the unassailable! To you we give praise!
We are but maggots, writhing in the filth of our own corruption! While you have ascended from the dung of mortality, and now walk among the stars!
But you were once man! Aye! And as man, you said, ‘Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you.’
Aye, love. Love! Even as man, great Talos cherished us. For he saw in us, in each of us, the future of Skyrim! The future of Tamriel!
And there it is, friends! The ugly truth! We are the children of Man! Talos is the true god of Man! Ascended from flesh, to rule the realm of spirit!
The very idea is inconceivable to our Elven overlords! Sharing the heavens with us? With Man? Ha! They can barely tolerate our presence on Nirn!
Today, they take away your faith. But what of tomorrow? What then? Do the elves take your homes? Your businesses? Your children? Your very lives?
And what does the Empire do? Nothing! Nay, worse than nothing! The Imperial machine enforces the will of the Thalmor! Against its own people!
So, rise up! Rise up, children of the Empire! Rise up, Stormcloaks! Embrace the word of mighty Talos, he who is both Man and Divine!
For we are the children of Man! And we shall inherit both the heavens and the earth! And we, not the Elves or their toadies, will rule Skyrim! Forever!
Terrible and powerful Talos! We, your unworthy servants, give praise! For only through your grace and benevolence may we truly reach enlightenment!
And deserve our praise you do, for we are one! Ere you ascended and the Eight became Nine, you walked among us, great Talos, not as god, but as man!
Trust in me, Whiterun! Trust in Heimskr! For I am the chosen of Talos! I alone have been anointed by the Ninth to spread his holy word!”
I approached him, and he said, “You have come! You have come to hear the word of Talos!”
“Why was Talos worship outlawed?”
“Because the so-called Emperor is a coward! That’s right. I said coward! Oh yes! He agreed to banish the worship of Talos at the tip of an Aldmeri sword. They called it the White-Gold Concordat. Well, I call it blasphemy! A true son of the Empire would never have turned his back on our greatest hero, not at any price. Well, let me tell you something, friend. Cyrodiil is a long way from here, and in Skyrim, we will never forsake mighty Talos!”
“Aren’t you afraid you will be arrested?”
“Let them come! I have no fear, for Talos is my ally, and I am his prophet. His word is upon my lips, his voice in my throat.”
“That is amazing! What can you tell me about Talos?”
“If you seek knowledge about mighty Talos, you have certainly come to the right person. In mortal life, Talos was a Nord possessed of unmatched tactical skill, limitless wisdom and the power to see into men’s hearts. Talos mastered the power of The Voice, and with it united the lands of men into a great Empire. In southern lands, he was known by the name Tiber Septim. Here in Skyrim, we honour him by his proper Nord name. So great was his reign in life, when ascended to the heavens he was made Lord of the Divines.”
“You, Heimskr, are ignorant of Talos and the worst blasphemer I have ever heard!”
“How dare you!”
“For a start, Talos was not a Nord. He was born in Atmora or Alcaire in High Rock. The race of his parents is unknown, but he was not born in Skyrim and never claimed to be a Nord.
You say he united the nations that made The Empire using The Voice. That is a lie! He used it a couple of times in battle, but it was the Numidium that was his primary weapon. He unleashed that metal terror on all who stood in his way whether a proven threat or not. That monstrosity let him recreate The Empire into some semblance of what Saint Alessia had first created. An Empire free of Man and Mer divisions.
Hammerfell and Morrowind joined The Empire without bloodshed as his diplomacy skills were used more often than The Voice. One of them a country of Mer. You would have us believe Tiber Septim only represents Man when that is demonstrably wrong.
You say the Emperor should not have agreed to the White-Gold Concordat. What do you think would have happened if the Great War continued? Do you think you would be standing here sprouting your blasphemy or working in some Dominion slave pit? Do you believe Talos would want the Empire he rebuilt destroyed because some Altmers say you can’t worship him? Where are the signs from Talos that is what he desires?
You dare claim, mere yards away from a tree sacred to Kynareth and her temple that Talos is Lord of the Divines! Lord Akatosh gifted Tiber Septim his dragon soul and dragon blood. He is the ruler of both time and the most senior of The Divines. But no single Divine rules over the others.
Kynareth gifted all mortals with the Thu’um. I could be Khajiit, Argonian, Mer or Man and learn that gift. Do not claim exclusivity for Man when that is not the case and never was.
You do not speak for Talos. You lie, and you blaspheme, and if I decided to kill you, Talos would not stop me.”
I said to Rigmor, “Definitely Dragonsreach. Let’s go before I punch this idiot in the face.”
Heimskr shrunk from me as I walked past him.
A sizeable crowd had gathered during my dressing down of the fake prophet, and he found himself bombarded by questions he could not answer. Their anger grew as Rigmor and me climbed the steps to Dragonsreach.
People were shouting at Heimskr by the time we reached the entrance. I hoped I had not started a lynching!
Rigmor said, “Hey! Guardian, wait.”
I turned to her and asked, “What is it Rigmor? Are you alright?”
“Yes, but what are you going to say to the Jarl?”
“If he has questions, I will answer them. I don’t expect we will be here long.”
“You are not nervous because he is a Jarl, are you? After all, you are nobility Milady.”
“Do noble ladies have strong impulses to punch their Guardian on the nose.”
“I don’t know, but surely the Guardian would stand there and accept such a punch if his better wished to inflict it upon his unworthy face.”
“You are weird.”
We stood before the door, and I asked Rigmor, “Are you ready? We have to act at least a little bit civilised even if smelly, unwashed and with bits of our enemies still clinging to our armour and hair.”
“I did wipe my sword clean!”
“Then I am sure Jarl Balgruuf will see no difference between yourself and those lovely ladies we met on the way to Angi’s.”
“Horse with an arsehole in the middle of its back! That is the closest thing to funny you have said.”
We entered Dragonsreach, and I was immediately impressed with its size. Rigmor exclaimed, “Wow, look at this place!”
We climbed some steps, and Rigmor whispered to me, “Can we rob that lady in the green dress? I would prefer it in red but green will do.”
“Okay, but after we have talked to the Jarl.”
Irileth stopped us halfway to the throne and demanded, “You took your time! Now tell me, why should I let a woman accused of murder near the Jarl?”
“I would have been here sooner but guards, I assume under your command, seemed to be absent from Riverwood. This slack discipline resulted in a citizen called Rose being kidnapped by the Thalmor and three of their collaborators attacking me. All this the day after you told Senior Justiciar Joror to leave Whiterun Hold. This young lady, Rigmor, joined me in a rescue mission to free Rose from the Thalmor. Sorry if Rose’s life seemed more important than speaking to Jarl Balgruuf.”
“And the charge of murder?”
“Rigmor is a devout follower of Talos, as am I. We are criminals according to the Thalmor. If you do not believe that to be true, why would you believe their accusations of murder?”
Jarl Balgruuf said, “Irileth, I wish to speak to this man. He came here as he said he would. Our guards failed him and Rose in Riverwood. We should be apologising, not questioning his motives.”
Irileth replied, “Yes, my Jarl.”
She stared at us and said with menace, “Come then but be aware I am keeping my eyes on both of you.”
We followed behind Irileth, and her deadly grace once again struck me. A Dunmer must be exceptional to gain such a trusted position in Skyrim.
Above the throne was a skull of a Dovah.
“That is fucking barbaric!” said my Dovah.
“Yes, it is! Imagine if these people walked into an enemy hall that displayed the skull of a fallen Nord warrior.”
“But Dov are reduced to the level of beasts in their eyes.”
“Correct, so that skull is no worse than displaying that of a buck’s head.”
“No, just ignorant.”
I wondered if the Jarl greeted all visitors while slumped in his throne. Disrespect seems to the norm in this court.
- Balgruuf: So, you were at Helgen? You saw this dragon with your own eyes.
- Wulf: This young woman is Rigmor from the County of Bruma. I am Wulf, a citizen of Nirn. We are pleased to make your acquaintance, Jarl Balgruuf the Greater.
- Irileth: Answer the Jarl’s questions!
- Wulf: I will continue when respect and manners are shown. We are guests, not indentured servants!
- Balgruuf: You are correct, and I apologise for my lack of polite greeting and the failure of my guards in Riverwood.
- Wulf: Yes, Jarl, the Imperials were about to execute Ulfric Stormcloak and several other captured rebels when the Dovah attacked, and I saw it all first hand.
- Balgruuf: I should have guessed Ulfric would be mixed up in this.
- Wulf: Ulfric was as surprised as anybody when the Dovah appeared. He is not his ally.
- Balgruuf: You know this how?
- Wulf: I spoke to Ulfric when he was hiding from the Dovah amongst other terrified Stormclaoks. Plus, I have a good idea who the Dovah is.
- Balgruuf: You know Ulfric?
- Wulf: The first time I met him was on the way to our execution. My head was on the block when the Dovah attacked.
- Balgruuf: Are you a Stormcloak?
- Wulf: No. Neither am I criminal.
- Irileth: Hadvar said Wulf was not on the list of those to be executed, but his Captain didn’t care. Wulf helped Hadvar survive the attack. He is, according to Hadvar, an honourable man and that his Captain disobeyed protocol when she still went ahead with his execution.
- Wulf: Hadvar and I helped each other. I saw him stand in clear view of the Dovah to rescue a young boy. He is brave and a credit to his uniform. I hope that man survives the lunacy of this civil war.
- Balgruuf: Irileth informed me that Hadvar claimed you could speak to the dragon.
- Wulf: Yes. I can speak and understand Dovahzul.
- Balgruuf: How is that possible? I thought only the Greybeards could do that.
- Wulf: Can we just accept the fact I can for now Jarl Balgruuf? Maybe years of study if that pleases as an explanation.
- Balgruuf: You said you might know who the dragon is.
- Wulf: I wish to gather more information before panicking all with pure speculation. I would appreciate it if we leave it at that for now, Jarl Balgruuf. I swear by The Divines, if I confirm my suspicions then I will let all those in authority know.
- Balgruuf: Fair enough. What do you say now, Proventus? Shall we continue to trust in the strength of our walls? Against a dragon?
The Imperial advisor remained silent. How was he to answer such a question when nobody knows the answer?
- Irileth: My Lord, we should send troops to Riverwood at once. It is in the most danger if that dragon is lurking in the mountains.
- Proventus: The Jarl of Falkreath will view that as a provocation! He’ll assume we’re preparing to join Ulfric’s side and attack him.
- Rigmor: The Jarl of Falkreath is an ass!
Rigmor realised what she just said to a high ranking noble and turned bright red. Jarl Balgruuf smiled at her then tore shreds out of his advisor.
- Balgruuf: I will not stand idly by while a dragon burns my hold and slaughters my people!
- Wulf: You would also think the Jarl of Falkreath would understand Jarl Balgruuf’s concern for Riverwood after his town, Helgen, was just reduced to ash and rubble.
- Balgruuf: You would hope so, Wulf. We are already short of men after jailing those who disgraced their uniform in Riverwood. But we have no choice. Irileth, send a detachment to Riverwood at once.
- Irileth: As you wish my Lord.
- Proventus: If you’ll excuse me, I’ll return to my duties.
- Balgruuf: That would be best.
Both Irileth and Proventus walked away, leaving Rigmor, Jarl Balgruuf and me to continue the conversation.
Jarl Balgruuf said, “Well done. You have sought me out on your initiative. You’ve done Whiterun a service, and I won’t forget it. Here, take this as a small token of my esteem.”
The Jarl reached behind his throne and produced a glass armour breastplate of exquisite quality. I replied, “Although I appreciate the sentiment, I can’t accept a reward for simply doing what is right. I am not a mercenary Jarl Balgruuf.”
“Others might get offended at the refusal of such a gift. But if that is your belief, then who am I to argue?”
“Is there anything else we can do for you before we depart, Jarl Balgruuf?”
“Yes, there is another thing you could do for me. Suitable for somebody with your knowledge of dragons. Please, let us go and talk to Farengar, my court wizard. He has been looking into a matter related to these dragons and… rumours of dragons.”
We followed Jarl Balgruuf from a distance which allowed Rigmor to urgently whisper to me, “I thought you said we would not be here long?”
“I told you I need answers. My compass is pointing to that room the Jarl is entering. So, I will follow it as my Gods demand.”
“Why didn’t you head for that room when we first entered then?”
“Protocol Rigmor. Plus, Irileth would have cut us off before we got there.”
“She is formidable, isn’t she?”
“Yes, and quite beautiful. Did you notice those hips swaying as we followed her?”
If looks could kill, I would have keeled over dead before I took another step. I just smiled at Rigmor as her eyes narrowed and the room temperature dropped several degrees.
Farengar had quite a large area within Dragonsreach to do his work and research. He was wearing robes that proclaimed him as a Master of the Restoration School of Magicka.
- Balgruuf: Farengar, I think I’ve found some people who can help with your dragon project. Go ahead and fill them in with all the details.
- Wulf: I am glad to meet you, Master Mage Farengar. I am Wulf, and this lovely lady is Rigmor.
- Farengar: The Jarl thinks you can be of use to me? Oh yes, he must be referring to my research into the dragons.
- Rigmor: Isn’t that what Jarl Balgruuf just said?
- Wulf: Be patient Rigmor. My compass has gone.
- Rigmor: Whatever!
- Farengar: Yes, well, I could use someone to fetch something for me.
- Rigmor: A stick? A ball? I must warn you that I sometimes bite and are yet to be housetrained.
I stared at Rigmor, who stared back. Eventually, she crossed her arms and stood with a petulant look on her face.
My Dovah said, “She is much like you with that acid tongue of hers.”
“Yeah. It is one of Rigmor’s many appealing qualities.”
“I give up. I can only warn you of the perils and hope you listen.”
I looked at Farengar, who finally got the hint to continue.
- Farengar: Well, when I say fetch, I mean to delve into a dangerous ruin in search of an ancient stone tablet that may or may not be actually there.
- Wulf: And what does this have to do with Dov?
- Farengar: Ah, no mere brute mercenary, but a thinker. Perhaps even a scholar?
- Rigmor: More like a stinker than a thinker.
- Farengar: Ahem, well, you see, when the stories of dragons began to circulate, many dismissed them as mere fantasies, rumours. Impossibilities. One sure mark of a fool is to dismiss anything that falls outside his experience as being impossible.
- Wulf: That is a bit facetious Farengar. Most citizens are concerned with keeping a roof over their head and food on the table. They do not have the luxury of delving into old books and manuscripts like you.
- Farengar: I began to search for information about dragons. Where had they gone all those years ago? And where are they coming from?
- Wulf: You know of more than one dragon being sighted?
- Farengar: Well, no.
- Wulf: So ‘they’ is inaccurate and unless you are smarter than I think, you have no idea from where the one that destroyed Helgen came. Correct?
- Farengar: Well…
- Wulf: And the renewed interest in dragons started not long after the beginning of the civil war. Am I correct?
- Farengar: Yes, but how…
- Wulf: So, let’s get down to it. What precisely do you need Rigmor and me to do?
- Farengar: I, uh, learned of a particular stone tablet said to be housed in Bleak Falls Barrow. A “Dragonstone’ which is supposed to contain a map of dragon burial sites.
- Wulf: The Dragon Cult made several of them. They were responsible for those burial mounds dotted over the countryside. But not all dragons were killed in the Dragon Wars or by the Akaviri or Blades.
- Farengar: You know of…
- Wulf: I can see, although my ability to read Cyrodiilic is a bit rusty, especially upside down, that you have a copy of The Atlas of Dragons open.
- Farengar: How did…
- Wulf: You want the Dragonstone to cross-reference the known defeated dragons listed in that book with the burial sites. You either think we only have to worry about the ones you can’t prove are dead and buried or maybe you believe the buried ones may not be dead for much longer.
- Farengar: Have you stolen my research papers?
- Wulf: Why would I need to do that when it was a simple deduction? Now, what can you tell me about Bleak Falls Barrow?
- Farengar: It is an old tomb, built by the ancient Nords, perhaps dating back to the Dragon War itself.
- Rigmor: A location would be excellent and will probably make it easier for us to find!
- Farengar: It is near Riverwood, a miserable little village a few miles south of here. I’m sure some of the locals can point you in the right direction once you get there.
- Wulf: Riverwood is a town. Its population is too large for it to be classified as a village. And the only thing miserable between Whiterun and Riverwood is you.
- Balgruuf: Wulf is tearing strips off you Farengar. I suggest you stick to facts and drop the opinions.
- Wulf: What makes you think a Dragonstone is in Bleak Falls Barrow?
- Farengar: Well, we must preserve some professional secrets, mustn’t we. I have my sources… reliable sources.
- Wulf: Are you the only mage in Whiterun?
- Farengar: I believe I am, yes. I am technically speaking, of course. The city is also home to priests, priestesses, an alchemist and I’m sure others who practice. Ah, that reminds me. Speaking of alchemists, I have some frost salts for Arcadia. She asked me to obtain them for one of her potions. Would be so kind as to deliver the frost salts for me? I’m sure Arcadia will provide some sort of payment.
- Rigmor: Do we look like couriers to you? Desperately in need of a few coins?
- Farengar: Well, let’s see. Travel stained clothes, probably worn soles and unintelligent expression. Yes, as a matter of fact, you do.
I had to put my hand on Rigmor to stop her leaping across the desk and doing nasty things to Farengar.
- Wulf: Jarl Balgruuf, we would be pleased to obtain the Dragonstone if that aides Whiterun.
- Balgruuf: Anything we can use to fight this dragon, or dragons, is a priority now. We need it quickly, before it’s too late.
- Farengar: You seem to have found me some able assistants Jarl Balgruuf. I’m sure they will prove most useful.
Rigmor growled. I had to use more force to hold her back.
- Balgruuf: Rigmor and Wulf. If you succeed at this, Whiterun will be in your debt.
Jarl Balgruuf walked off, and Farengar sat down to enjoy a drink. I rounded his desk and towered over him.
He looked up at me then asked, “Shouldn’t you already be on the way to Bleak Falls Barrows?”
“You have never even seen a dragon, have you?”
“Sadly, no. My work affords me very few opportunities for such an adventure.”
“Hi los aan pahlok mey.”
“I just said you are an arrogant fool in Dovahzul. I can speak to Dov in their native language. I can read their language. I guarantee my knowledge of them far exceeds yours. If you witnessed what a single dragon did in Helgen, you would realise how inadequate you are to deal with what we fear in that prophecy. We are going to Bleak Falls Barrow to assist the people of Nirn against that threat. We are not your assistants!”
Farengar sat there open-mouthed as we left his room and headed for the exit.
Just before the main entrance, Rigmor commented, “You sure know how to make friends!”
“I didn’t rip him apart in front of the Jarl. He must be able to trust his advisors. Even if they are egotistical little turds.”
“Are we headed straight to this Bleak Falls Barrow?”
“No, I can see you are worn out. We will head for Riverwood and spend a few hours eating and drinking before hiring a room.”
“I hope you are not getting any weird ideas!”
“Get used to it Rigmor. You sleep on the bed with your sword at the ready if you wish. I will sleep in a chair wedged against the door.”
“You think I am still in danger?”
“We are talking about the Thalmor, so of course you are in danger. They will not give up and have spies and bounty hunters everywhere.”
“Then wouldn’t we be safer in Whiterun?”
“Marginally. But I wish to retrieve the Dragonstone first thing in the morning. The faster we get the information I need, the faster we can visit Riften.”
“Will you promise me something?”
“Ask me, and I shall decide.”
“You seem to think that Farengar has the same suspicion as you. Am I going to be the last to find out what scares you?”
“I promise you Rigmor, I will tell you after a good meal and a few pints of mead.”
Rigmor nodded, and we left Dragonsreach.
At the entrance to Whiterun, some guards were having difficulty with a powerful vampire and his minions.
Civilians scattered as guards came from all directions.
I cut into the Master Vampire, and he screamed as Destruction Magicka fire consumed his flesh. Vampires are vulnerable to fire, and my sword has a strong dweomer that produces it.
Guards has been peppering the vampire with arrows, but he had shrugged them off. The fire was a different matter. It quickly consumed the parasite.
The vampire thralls were just citizens who sided with a vampire and did not offer much of a challenge to Rigmor and me.
As we stood over the dead vampire, Rigmor said, “They are hard to kill aren’t they!”
“Some are. This vampire was fairly powerful, but I think a fraction as strong as some.”
“Why would they attack people in a city? Surely, they don’t expect to survive?”
“I have no idea, but they suck!”
Rigmor shook her head once again and headed for the exit of Whiterun, leaving me to laugh at my own joke.
The aurora was bright as we mounted our horses.
As we rode towards the meadery, a strange ringing could be heard. Rigmor asked, “What is that noise, Guardian?”
I pointed to the river where a nirnroot was glowing and told Rigmor, “That is a nirnroot. Commonly used in stews in place of pepper. There are rare crimson ones, and I have heard of giant ones growing on an island near Solstheim.”
Rigmor hummed tunes to herself as we both enjoyed the slow, quiet ride to Riverwood.
At one point, she asked me, “What makes the aurora?”
“Some say it is mortal souls enjoying their afterlife in Aetherius, dancing and flying amongst the stars.”
“What do other people say?”
“Boring stuff. I think I will stick with the souls dancing and flying. It is kind of comforting to think no matter how miserable a person’s life, they can enjoy such happiness after their death.”
“You can be rather mushy when you want.”
“I have been listening to you, and your wonder and joy at the spectacles nature provides. I have caught the dreaded mushy disease.”
“Careful or you might end up ordering a pint of milk at the inn.”
We rode past a waterfall that was interesting during the day but spectacular at night.
My Dovah said, “Enjoy this. I have a feeling that after you uncover the truth, you will be too busy to sniff the flowers.”
“Thanks. I was just starting to relax a little.”
“No problems. Always glad to help.”
It was just after 11:00 PM when we hitched the horses outside the Sleeping Giant Inn.
We could hear the murmur of those inside chatting over a pint. It is a most welcoming sound.
There were about ten people of mixed races, Dunmer, Nord, Bosmer, Khajiit and Argonian, happily talking and singing along to popular songs sung by a reasonably talented bard.
A middle-aged woman with a scarred face approached us. She had the bearings of a warrior, and although she didn’t stare, I knew she was taking our measure as I was taking hers.
She said, “Welcome to the Sleeping Giant. Can I help you with anything?”
“Yes, please. A room for the night, a couple of pints of your best mead and two bowls of that lovely stew I see bubbling over the fireplace.”
“I hope you don’t mind squeezing together on a single bed because that is all we have. That will be 50 septims.”
I looked at Rigmor and asked, “You don’t mind squeezing together on a single bed, do you, my darling?”
Rigmor gritted her teeth and replied, “No dear. But I have suddenly come down with a headache.”
“Do you mind paying this kind lady. I seem to have misplaced my coin bag.”
Rigmor handed over the money then we sat down at a table. Two large bowls of piping hot stew accompanied by two generous sized loaves soon arrived.
I think Rigmor was preparing to give me a lecture about not having any weird ideas when the food arrived. After that, she hardly stopped to take a breath between mouths full of the simple but delicious fare.
When the pints of mead arrived, hers seemed to vanish in two gulps, and she ordered another.
I was twirling my spoon around in my half-empty bowl and noticed Rigmor staring at it like a starving street urchin. I pushed it in front of her and watched it vanish almost as quickly as her second pint of mead.
Rigmor belched then ordered a third tankard which she sipped as she waited for me to speak.
I called over to the bard, “Do you know the Prophecy of the Dragonborn?”
“Sung or recited as a poem?”
“Can you sing it please?”
“Of course. It has been a while since anybody requested that so will it be a pleasure.”
I sat staring ahead as the bard sang the song with a voice far superior to his lute playing.
Rigmor asked, “Is this is the prophecy you mentioned when talking to Farengar?”
“Yes. Do you know it?”
“My mother used to sing it. Dad said it was a sort of lullaby in Skyrim.”
We both sat and listened, and I hoped Rigmor would understand what terrified me.
- “Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honour is sworn,
- To keep evil forever at bay!
- And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s shout,
- Dragonborn, for your blessing, we pray!
- Hearken now, sons of snow, to an age, long ago,
- And the tale, boldly told, of the one!
- Who was kin to both wyrm, and the races of man,
- With a power to rival the sun!
- And the voice, he did wield, on that glorious field,
- When great Tamriel shuddered with war!
- Mighty Thu’um, like a blade, cut through enemies all,
- As the Dragonborn issued his roar!
- Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honour is sworn,
- To keep evil forever at bay!
- And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s shout,
- Dragonborn, for your blessing, we pray!
- And the Scrolls have foretold, of black wings in the cold,
- That when brothers wage war come unfurled!
- Alduin, Bane of Kings, ancient shadow unbound,
- With a hunger to swallow the world!
- But a day shall arise, when the dark dragon’s lies,
- Will be silenced forever and then!
- Fair Skyrim will be free from foul Alduin’s maw!
- Dragonborn be the saviour of men!
- Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honour is sworn,
- To keep evil forever at bay!
- And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s shout,
- Dragonborn, for your blessing, we pray!”
Rigmor suddenly sat upright and almost inaudibly whispered, “Then when brothers wage war come unfurled.”
After a few seconds, she stared at me in horror, grabbed my arm, then asked with fear in her voice, “By the Gods Guardian. Was that Alduin who destroyed Helgen?”
A few people looked over, but I doubt they heard the words but recognised the tone with which they were spoken.
I whispered to Rigmor, “I know it was. It was no coincidence I awoke on that carriage minutes before he announced his return. I am supposed to stop him destroying Nirn. To stop the ‘End of Days’.”
Rigmor lowered her voice and asked, “But how? What do the histories say?”
“Very little. I suppose I am going to have to figure it out.”
“But you said The Divines led you to me. What have I got to do with Alduin and the prophecy?”
“I have no idea. Maybe there are all sorts of things tangled together, and we haven’t even started worrying at the world’s most complicated knot.”
“And you think if you can’t figure it out… that if you fail…”
“I will die, but so will every other mortal and animal on Nirn. Mundus itself will probably get destroyed.”
“Oh, Guardian. Why give you this burden and not your memories?”
“There must be something in them that endangers my ability to complete this task.”
“You could go insane imagining what that may be. And you are only guessing that is the reason The Divines took your childhood away.”
“Yes, I am only guessing. I don’t think any amount of prayer will get an answer. That is what our beloved Divines want, and so as a mere mortal, I have to live with their decision.”
“Do you hate them for that?”
“No, they sacrificed their immortality, and some of them lost their lives to create Mundus and Nirn. Everything they do is not for their glorification but to preserve the mortals they love. They continue to sacrifice to protect us from their ancient enemies, the Daedric Princes. Some of those Dark Lords want to enslave us, and some want to destroy us. I am just a mortal soldier in that perpetual war.”
“How are you supposed to carry such a burden?”
“I assume I will have help from others. Who and what they may be, I have no idea!”
“Maybe I am supposed to help. But I know nothing about this mumbo jumbo god stuff and even less about dragons.”
“I said I would get you back home, and I will. And if that doesn’t fit in with some Divine plan then too bad. Akatosh can spank my bottom with his holy paddle.”
Despite her best efforts, Rigmor yawned. If there were a competition for the most heartfelt, she would have won.
“Come on, Rigmor. I want to be out of here by seven in the morning, and you need to sleep.”
Rigmor knew the truth and did not argue. We could continue discussing gobblygook on the morrow.
We entered the room then I shut the door. Rigmor looked at me worriedly but did not say anything.
I wedged the only chair in the room against the door. I would barely fit on it, but it would have to do.
Rigmor removed her hood, placed her sword on the bed and lay next to it. All the time I watched her at Rose’s camp, she slept on her side. Once when she rolled on her back, she cried out in pain, then turned back to her side. At the time, I wondered if it was the old scars or the new that caused her such misery.
She looked at me till her eyelids grew too heavy. Within a minute of lying down, she was asleep.
I sat on the chair then watched her for signs of the falling nightmare.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know it was to the regular shallow breathing of Rigmor.
The old man stared at the door of The Sleeping Giant Inn and whispered, “I am sorry my Son. We had no choice.”