Rigmor of Bruma and Skyrim quests: Dragon Rising, The Way of the Voice, A Mother’s Ring
It was just after 7:00 AM when we finished breaking our fast.
Rigmor asked, “You sure it is the right thing to do, not mentioning Alduin to Jarl Balgruuf?”
‘I don’t know what The Divines have planned for me. I don’t think Alduin will be up to full strength and his Dov organised for some time. How is a divided Skyrim supposed to combat an army of Dov? Would it make more sense to end the civil war or get a truce before tackling Alduin? How long do we have before the New Order invades? We don’t know what part you have in all of this.”
“I agree. I was just making sure you did not change your mind, so I am prepared for what is said in Dragonsreach.”
Just before entering Dragonsreach, Rigmor said, “Here we go again. Smelly unwashed barbarians in front of the Jarl.”
“Your nose must be desensitised. Just about every person I have met in recent days either pongs of natural odours or even worse, artificial and cloying perfumes. Anyway, it could be worse.”
“Imagine having the sensitive nose of a Khajiit! Maybe they don’t mind being out in the fresh air rather than inside a stinky city?”
We entered Dragonsreach, but Jarl Balgruuf was not yet at his throne.
“Imagine having to sit on a throne all day talking to boring supplicants?” said Rigmor.
‘No, thanks. I would rather be tilling a field or reaping some wheat.”
Because the Jarl was not in attendance, we could dispense with having to greet him first.
Rigmor said, “Baa’Ren-Dar would have to know the etiquette rules of the many different courts. One wrong word or even gesture you might offend some stick up their arse noble.”
“Maybe that is why Jarl Balgruuf sits funny. I don’t imagine a stick up the bum would be fun!”
“Let just see the mage.” pleaded Rigmor.
We were going to enter Farengar’s room but saw he was talking to a hooded woman. When she raised her head, I recognised her. Since we had not been noticed, we stopped to eavesdrop.
The woman was the owner of the Sleeping Giant Inn, where we had rented a room two nights ago.
Rigmor tugged on my arm, and when I looked at her, she silently mouthed, “Delphine!”
I nodded, and we both turned our attention to the conversation.
- Farengar: You see? The terminology is clearly First Era or even earlier. I’m convinced this is a copy of a much older text. Perhaps it dates to just after the Dragon War. If so, I could use this to cross-reference the names with other later documents.
- Delphine: Good. I’m glad you’re making progress. My employers are anxious to have some tangible answers.
- Farengar: Oh, have no fear. The Jarl himself has finally taken an interest, so I’m now able to devote most of my time to this research.
- Delphine: Time is running, Farengar, don’t forget. This research is no longer some theoretical question. Dragons have come back.
- Farengar: Yes, yes. Don’t worry. Although the chance to see a living dragon up close would be tremendously valuable…
- Delphine: You have a visitor.
- Farengar: Now, let me show you something else I found… very intriguing… I think your employers may be interested as well…
Delphine kicked Farengar then nodded our way. Rigmor and I strolled up to the pair as if we hadn’t been snooping. Delphine did a good job of covering her shock at recognising us, but not good enough.
- Farengar: Hmm? Ah, yes, the Jarl’s proteges! Back from Bleak Falls Barrow. You didn’t die, so it seems.
- Rigmor: Oh, we are dead Farengar. Lots of makeup and a comb-over does wonders.
- Wulf: I suddenly have a craving for brains.
- Rigmor: Don’t bother with the mage. Hardly a mouthful there.
I handed Farengar the Dragonstone.
- Farengar: Ah! The Dragonstone of Bleak Falls Barrow! It seems you are a cut above the usual brutes the Jarl send my way.
- Wulf: The book is a third era continuation of the original ‘Atlas of Dragons’ brought to Tamriel by the Akaviri during their first invasion. The Blades had maintained it after conversion from Akavir to Cyrodiilic and Tamrielic. I would say that copy is from Sky Haven Temple and not Cloud Ruler Temple as the latest entries concern sightings in Skyrim.
- Delphine: Who are you?
- Rigmor: So Farengar forgot to mention my companion, who is an expert on Dov?
- Wulf: Look on the back of the Dragonstone. In Dovahzul it says, ‘Het nok un mahlaan drogge erei suleyk se Alduin vokrii.’
- Rigmor: Which translates to, ‘Here lie our fallen lords until the power of Alduin revives.’
- Wulf: You will find that all Dov who have burial mounds are listed in the book. Now we just have to figure out if the Dov not confirmed as killed will answer his call as well.
- Delphine: Who are you, and how do you know all of this?
- Rigmor: Tell us who your employers are, and we will tell you who we are.
- Wulf: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
- Rigmor: Eww!
- Wulf: I do not trust you, Delphine! You could be a Dragon Cult member. An underling of a Daedric Prince. Or maybe you are just an innkeeper way over her head.
Delphine was about to say something she would regret but was saved by Irileth running towards us. I was surprised to see the Housecarl looking disturbed. I thought she was made of ice.
Irileth said, “Farengar, you need to come at once. A dragon’s been sighted nearby.”
Farengar gushed, “A dragon! How exciting! Where was it seen? What was it doing?”
Irileth replied, “I’d take this a bit more seriously if I were you. If a dragon decides to attack Whiterun, I don’t know if we can stop it.”
Delphine was running towards the exit. I yelled to her, “I am sure your inn can last a few hours without you. Why don’t you come and look at the pretty dragon? Laugh as it slaughters hundreds. That is very exciting, according to Farengar. I found it rather stimulating at Helgen!”
Irileth said, “You two had better come along as well.”
As we followed Irileth and Farengar up the stairs, I whispered to Rigmor, “Flies to sugar. Don’t you think it odd a Dovah turns up soon after we return to Whiterun.”
“You think this is to lure you out?”
“Why just attack a watchtower and give warning to the city?”
“Is it Alduin?”
“If so, we have no hope.”
“What about Whiterun?”
“It would fare no better than Helgen.”
When we reached the top floor, Jarl Balgruuf was about to address a Whiterun Guard.
- Balgruuf: So, Irileth tell me you came from the Western Watchtower?
- Irileth: Tell him what you told me. About the dragon.
- Guard: Uh… that’s right. We saw it coming from the south. It was fast… faster than anything I’ve ever seen.
- Balgruuf: What did it do? Is it attacking the watchtower?
- Guard: No, my Lord. It was just circling overhead when I left. I never ran so fast in my life… I thought it would come after me for sure.
- Balgruuf: Good work, son. We’ll take it from here. Head down to the barracks for some food and rest. You’ve earned it.
The guard headed off, and I hoped he could eat quickly. Every able-bodied person could soon be needed very soon to fight for Whiterun.
- Balgruuf: Irileth, you’d better gather some guardsman and head down there.
- Irileth: I’ve already ordered some of my men to gather near the main gate.
- Balgruuf: Good. Don’t fail me.
Jarl Balgruuf turned to Rigmor and me.
- Balgruuf: There is no time to stand on ceremony, my friends. I need your help again.
- Wulf: There is no need to ask. I will join Irileth and your guardsman.
- Rigmor: And where Wulf goes, I go.
- Balgruuf: Good… good. I haven’t forgotten the service you two did for me in retrieving the Dragonstone for Farengar. As a token of my esteem, I have instructed Avenicci that you are now permitted to purchase property in the city.
- Farengar: I should come along. I would very much like to see this dragon.
- Balgruuf: No. I can’t afford to risk both of you. I need you here working on ways to defend against these dragons.
- Farengar: As you command.
- Balgruuf: One last thing, Irileth. This isn’t a death or glory mission. I need to know what we are dealing with.
- Irileth: Don’t worry, my Lord. I’m the very soul of caution.
As everybody scattered to do what was needed, Rigmor said, “Irileth doesn’t mess around, does she?”
“She is excellent. I think her and Jarl Balgruuf must have served together.”
“I thought that as well. They seem to be more officer and enlisted rather than Jarl and Housecarl.”
“Rigmor, you do not have to…”
“Yes, I do and not another word! We are together until some unseen immortals decide we are not. Let’s hurry and catch up to Irileth.”
“That was quite an honour just bestowed on us. Jarl Balgruuf has invited us to be citizens of Whiterun.”
“Yes, it was. I like the Jarl because he is grumpy but caring. Just like another person I know.”
We had to sprint to keep up with Irileth. Rigmor was still not fully fit, so I slowed to a quick walk.
We arrived at the front gate only a few seconds behind Irileth. The weather was terrible, and the rain poured as she addressed her guardsman. There were not enough of them to tackle a dragon, but I did not express that opinion out loud.
- Irileth: Here’s the situation. A dragon is attacking the Western Watchtower.
- Guard One: A dragon?
- Irileth: You heard right! I said a dragon!
- Guard Two: Now we are in for it!
- Irileth: I don’t care where it came from or who sent it. What I do know is that it’s made the mistake of attacking Whiterun!
- Guard One: But Housecarl… how can we fight a dragon?
- Irileth: That’s a fair question. None of us have ever seen a dragon before, or expected to face one in battle. But we are honour bound to fight it, even if we fail. This dragon is threatening our homes and our families.
- Guard Three: We are so dead.
- Irileth: Could you call yourselves Nords if you ran from this monster? Are you going to let me face this thing alone?
- Guard Three: No, Housecarl!
- Guard Four: Never!
- Irileth: But it’s more than our honour at stake here. Think of it, the first dragon seen in Skyrim since the last age. The glory of killing it is ours, if you’re with me!
- Guard Two: I am with you, Housecarl!
- Guard One: We all are!
- Irileth: Now, what do you say? Shall we go kill us a dragon? Let’s move out!
The guards cheered and joined their Housecarl as she walked with confidence towards the exit.
Rigmor said, “I like Irileth; she’s so cool.”
“She is an excellent commander. She appealed to their Nord pride and sense of honour, and that removed their fear and uncertainty.”
“I don’t think I can run there swiftly Guardian.”
“Irileth will wait for us before approaching the tower. She is no fool and knows every sword will be needed.”
We exited Whiterun, and I could see Irileth was advancing at a steady pace instead of a full-speed run. That would preserve her troops strength for the battle and let her survey the battleground longer as they approach.
I saw the Khajiit caravan and my blood boiled. I ran into the main tent.
Ri’saad said, “The guards seem in a hurry to get somewhere.”
“A dragon is near the watchtower, and he may decide to attack the city. I advise you to take your people and hide in the duct where the stream exits the city. Get as far back in there as you can. Do not have anybody near the entrance. If a dragon attacks and sees a single one of you, he will not stop till he has killed you all.”
“Khajiit are well versed from a young age on surviving Dov. We learnt the hard way when they invaded Elsweyr. We have feared their return ever since.”
“We have to go now and help the guards.”
“I wish you and Rigmor well and thank you for the warning.”
We walked as fast as Rigmor could go. Irileth looked over a couple of times to track our progress, so I knew she was waiting for us. In the background, I could see the watchtower was burning.
The handful of guards gathered around Irileth was not enough. They may scare the guards, but I decided to summon two Dragon Priests anyway. Their Destruction Magicka was mighty and would be far more effective than a few bows.
Rigmor asked, “What the hell are they?”
“And they will help us?”
“Very much so. Let us join the guards and see what Irileth has to say.”
“You forgot my bow!”
We joined the guards and Irileth nodded at us before saying, “No signs of any dragon right now, but it sure looks like he has been here.”
I scanned the skies and saw no Dov in the vicinity.
Irileth continued, “I know it looks bad, but we’ve got to find out what happened. And if that dragon is still skulking around somewhere.”
My Dovah said, “He is waiting for the sugar. And I have just arrived.”
Irileth ordered the guards, “Spread out and look for survivors. We need to know what we are dealing with.”
Rigmor and me joined the nervous guards and headed for the damaged watchtower.
Irileth deployed her men which meant Rigmor and me arrived at the tower before her. A terrified guard crouched behind a small wall and looked nervously around.
The guard said to Rigmor and me, “No! Get back! It’s still here somewhere! Hroki and Tor just got grabbed when they tried to make a run for it!”
Irileth ran up to him and said, “Guardsman! What happened here? Where’s this dragon? Quickly now!”
A Dovah’s roar echoed, and the guard said, “Kynareth save us. Here he comes again…”
I handed Rigmor a flask, then told her, “Drink this!”
“What is it”
“A Resist Fire potion. It is of excellent quality. I got it from the Khajiit last night.”
Rigmor gulped it down. The Dovah roared again.
Irileth yelled, “Here he comes! Find cover and make every arrow count!”
I looked up, and the Dovah stared at me as he flew overhead.
Rigmor pleaded, “Guardian, be careful!”
The Dovah said, “Thuri du hin sil ko Sovngarde!” (My overlord will devour your souls in Sovngarde!)
I ran to the middle of the road and followed the Dovah’s flight. Alduin was watching.
I pointed to them and told Rigmor, “The Dovah we are to fight is not Alduin. The other one is Alduin.”
“Will he attack?”
“I don’t think so. Alduin is not at full power and does not want to test himself against me just yet. He does not know my strength. Let’s hope we impress him enough to keep him away!”
The Dovah swooped past me and roared. A primal challenge between Dov.
He did a quick turn and used his Thu’um to summon Fireballs. One hit Rigmor.
She swore and then yelled over to me, “Thanks for the potion, Guardian. That could have hurt!”
When the Dovah swooped me again, I yelled, “Hin Thu’um los sahlo!” (Your Thu’um is weak!)
I then hit him with a powerful Lightning spell.
The comment about a weak Thu’um was probably the worst insult I could have used against a Dovah.
He prepared to land and said, “Hi krif krin. Pruzah!” (You fight courageously. Good!)
The Dovah landed with a thud in front of me. I drew my sword and advanced.
He lunged, and I smacked his snout with my shield. Hot dragon blood splattered over me.
The Dovah lifted off, and the downdraught from his mighty wings almost knocked me down.
Fireballs and arrows were hitting the Dovah but seemed to do little damage.
The Dovah dived at me and hit me with Dragonfire. If he had done that to Rigmor earlier, the potion she drank would not have saved her. The heat was not comfortable, but the dweomer on my armour prevented injury.
Surprisingly in the same dive, the Dovah followed fire with lightning. Once again, dweomer on my armour saved me from injury.
I laughed at the Dovah as he hovered over me.
In heavy accented Tamrielic, the Dovah said, “I had forgotten what fine sport you mortals can provide!”
I replied, “You will be the first of Alduin’s pathetic underlings to die at my hands. You should have stayed hidden!”
If the Dovah stayed hovering for too long, the guards would pepper him with many arrows, and the Dragon Priests hit him with numerous spells.
The Dovah flew around the tower, attacking individual targets. The Whiterun Guard’s fought valiantly. The Dragon Priests and their summoned Storm Atronachs started to weaken our enemy with fire, ice and lightning.
Rigmor came running up to me and complained, “This isn’t fair! When do I get to fight?”
“He is weakening. Soon he will land and attack me as I am who he wishes to defeat. When he does land, I will attack him from the front. You get to his flank and keep hitting him with that sword till he is bloody chunks of meat!”
The Dovah hovered once more and said, “You are brave. Bahlaan hokoron. Your defeat brings me honour.”
I yelled back, “But you are not worthy, and your death will mean nothing.” I then hit him with another spell.
The enraged Dovah tried to land on top of me.
I jumped back and drew my sword.
The Dovah tried to chomp down on me, but he was too slow.
I heard Rigmor yell, “I have got you now you big scaly milk drinker!”
As Rigmor hacked the Dovah’s flank, I leapt upon his head. It was the safest place to be to avoid the huge teeth and massive maw.
The Dovah tried to shake me off.
I plunged my sword into the Dovah’s eye.
I yelled to Rigmor, “Get clear. He might roll around a bit like a dying fly!”
I leapt off the Dovah as Irileth and some guards arrived and started stabbing him in a frenzy.
The Dovah called out with his dying breath, “DOVAHKIIN! NO!”
The Dovah’s body started to turn to ash. Irileth and the guards scattered. I realised what was happening and used my Thu’um to call out,
“NO! I DON’T WANT THIS! I REFUSE! STOP!”
Rigmor stood before me and said, “Guardian. Look at me!”
I stared into Rigmor’s eyes as I absorbed the soul of the Dovah.
I said to her, “His name was Mirmulnir. That means Loyal Strong Hunter. Dov are supposed to live forever. I have just absorbed his soul so he will not even have an afterlife. I am a monster!”
“No! You are my Guardian! You are the Dragonborn. You are the Champion of The Divines!”
I smiled at her. She offered me her strength, and I took it. I needed it.
The guards gathered around.
- Guard One: I can’t believe it! You’re… Dragonborn…
- Wulf: Yes, I am a Dragonborn.
- Guard One: In the very oldest tales, back from where there were still dragons in Skyrim, the Dragonborn would slay dragons and steal their power.
- Guard Two: That’s what you did, isn’t it? Have you absorbed the dragon’s power?
- Wulf: The tales are wrong. I absorbed the dying Dovah’s knowledge, not his power. His soul is now part of me, but it does not make me any more powerful.
- Guard Two: There is only one way to tell if you are truly Dragonborn. Try to Shout.
- Guard One: According to the old legends, only the Dragonborn can Shout without training, the way the dragons do.
- Guard Three: That’s right! My grandfather used to tell me stories about the Dragonborn.
- Rigmor: Can you Shout now?
- Wulf: Yes. The knowledge I absorbed is how to use the Word of Power I learnt in Bleak Falls Barrow.
- Guard Two: He is like those born with the Dragon Blood in them. Like old Tiber Septim himself.
- Wulf: It takes more than just Dragon Blood. All of the Septim Emperors had Dragon Blood. Not all of them could Shout.
- Guard Four: I’ve never heard of Tiber Septim killing any dragons.
- Guard Three: There weren’t any dragons then, idiot. They’re just coming back now for the first time in… forever.
- Wulf: That is wrong. They have never gone away. Tiber Septim never killed any dragons because they were not our enemies then. He befriended several, and one of them even joined the Legion. Friendly dragons helped the Khajiit defend their homeland against other dragons. The dragons appearing now are our enemies.
I dismissed the Dragon Priests.
Irileth had been silent up to this point.
- Guard One: What do you say, Irileth? You’re awfully quiet.
- Guard Three: Come on, Irileth, tell us, do you believe in this Dragonborn business?
- Irileth: Hmph. Some of you would be better off keeping quiet than flapping your gums on matters you don’t know anything about.
- Wulf: These brave guards know about what they speak!
- Irileth: Here’s a dead dragon, and that is something I definitely understand. Now we know we can kill them. But I don’t need some mythical Dragonborn. Someone who can put down a dragon is more than enough for me.
- Rigmor: You had better study the prophecy told in an Elder Scroll about the Dragonborn. Right now, you need the Dragonborn!
- Guard Two: You wouldn’t understand, Housecarl. You aren’t a Nord.
- Wulf: And I am not a Nord either! Irileth just needs to read the prophecies. Listen to the stories.
- Irileth: I’ve been all across Tamriel. I’ve seen plenty of things just as outlandish as this. I’d advise you all to trust in the strength of your sword arm over tales and legends.
I looked up. Alduin was still far away and seemingly flying in circles, but I knew he was observing us.
I stepped away from the guards and Irileth and used my knowledge of ‘fus’ to Shout. My Thu’um was far more potent than I had expected.
I looked up again, Alduin hovered for a moment, then flew away at an incredible speed.
I whispered to Irileth, “I am not some mythical Dragonborn. I am flesh and blood, and you had better learn why I may be needed. Ask Farengar.”
“I don’t know about this Dragonborn business, but that was the hairiest fight I have ever been in, and I’ve been in more than a few.”
“That was not the Dovah that destroyed Helgen. The one we just defeated had a fraction of his overlord’s power. If the dragon that attacked Helgen decided to attack Whiterun, it would fare no better than that town did!”
I think I finally got through to Irileth. Worry crossed her face, but she soon regained composure.
She said, “You had better get back to Whiterun right away. Jarl Balgruuf will want to know what happened here.”
Irileth walked off and started barking orders to her guards.
I looked at the remains of Mirmulnir.
Then I looked at the body of a Whiterun Guard. It was the one we met who was crouching and hiding after he saw two of his comrades taken by Mirmulnir. He had still gathered his courage and died fighting his nightmare.
Rigmor came up, held my hand and said, “Come Guardian. Let’s go talk to the Jarl.”
We started walking towards Whiterun.
I said to Rigmor, “I don’t want the power if I have to destroy Dov to get the required knowledge!”
“Even if you can’t defeat Alduin, and therefore save Nirn, unless you do?”
“I can’t do that! I won’t do that. The Divines will have to find another who has no qualms.”
“Alduin is not compelling them, is he?”
“If they are all like Mirmulnir then no. He was a fanatic.”
“Then they are using their free will when they fight you. They know what a loss will cost them.”
“Why do I have to absorb the knowledge of the Thu’um piece by little piece. Do Dov have to do that? Do they start off weak and not knowing how to use their natural weapon? No, they do not!”
“I don’t know Guardian! As you have said before. We will learn together as we go.”
A sound like thunder shook the air and the ground.
Both Rigmor and I stood still till the echo faded, and the ground stopped moving.
“What was that?” asked Rigmor.
“That was the Greybeards. Just like they once summoned Tiber Septim, they have summoned me.”
Rigmor smiled and said, “Then you must go, Guardian. Here is the chance for you to learn. Just like you wanted!”
“We will see. Let us speak to the Jarl first.”
The Khajiit were back at their campsite discussing the Dragon.
I entered the main tent. Ri’saad was smiling.
“Did you hide in the culvert?” I asked.
“Khajiit have good eyes and can run very fast, especially if a dragon is on their tail. So no, we observed and waited to see the outcome.”
“It would have been rather undignified. I should have thought of that.”
“Perhaps if we ended up burnt corpses somebody might reconsider what their misplaced mistrust has cost. Hiding in a drain would only add to their dismissal of our worth.”
“When the Nords are seeking courage as a new Dragon War ravages their lands, perhaps they might learn from how the Khajiit faced this enemy in Elsweyr. How you defeated them without a Dragonborn. Maybe then they will start to respect a people who have never killed Nords in war and were once close allies.”
“We were also custodians of these lands long before Man or Mer set foot upon them. ‘Skyrim is for the Nords’ is a hollow thing of no value in reality. Be careful, my friend. The Khajiit did not need a Dragonborn then. Nirn does now!”
Rigmor and I entered Whiterun and headed straight to Dragonsreach.
As we approached the throne, Hrongar, the Jarl’s brother, said, “We were just talking about you. My brother would like your report.”
Rigmor and me stood before Jarl Balgruuf.
- Balgruuf: So, what happened at the watchtower? Was the dragon there?
- Wulf: The watchtower has been destroyed. However, we killed the dragon.
- Balgruuf: I knew I could count on Irileth. But there must be more to it than that.
- Wulf: Your men and Irileth fought bravely. But that was not the dragon that destroyed Helgen. They would have stood no chance against the Dovah that killed hundreds of armed men, including many of General Tullius’ guards and Battlemages. That Dovah razed Helgen to the ground, and there was nothing that could have stopped it then.
- Rigmor: But there is now. A Dragonborn has come to Skyrim’s aid once more.
- Balgruuf: Dragonborn? What do you know about the Dragonborn?
- Wulf: The Dovah we killed was called Mirmulnir. He was one of many soldiers of his overlord. His dying words to me, and Irileth and the other surviving guards will tell you this, were, ‘Dovahkiin. No’. I used the Thu’um, and the Greybeards recognised who I am. You were talking about their summons as we walked in.
- Rigmor: Jarl Balgruuf, let me introduce you to Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines.
- Balgruuf: So, it’s true. The Greybeards really were summoning you.
- Wulf: Yes.
- Balgruuf: They are masters of the Way of the Voice. They live in seclusion high on the slopes of the Throat of the World. The Dragonborn is said to be uniquely gifted in the Voice. The ability to focus your vital essence into a Thu’um or Shout. They can teach you how to use your gift.
- Hrongar: The Greybeards summoning you. That hasn’t happened in centuries at the least. Certainly not since Tiber Septim himself was summoned when he was still Talos of Atmora!
- Proventus: Hrongar, calm yourself. What has any of this Norn nonsense had to do with our friend here? Capable as he may seem, I don’t see any sign of him being this, what, ‘Dragonborn.’
Hrongar was livid, but I spoke before he did and used the Thu’um to do so.
“DO YOU DOUBT WHAT YOU HEAR NOW? DO YOU DOUBT MY WORD?”
I spoke powerfully enough to make books fall off shelves and rattle Dragonsreach to its core but not strong enough to cause damage.
- Wulf: You are advising a Nord Jarl yet are ignorant of written history. So is Irileth and I find that disturbing. I encourage all of you to speak to Farengar. At least he could see the signs and has been preparing for this moment!
- Balgruuf: If you know something, why not tell us now?
- Rigmor: Wulf is not one of the advisors you will be relying on Jarl Balgruuf. Do you want to base decisions on his word, or those of whom you have already placed your trust?
- Avenicci: I meant no disrespect, of course. It’s just that… what do these Greybeards want with him?
- Balgruuf: That is the Greybeards’ and Wulf’s business, not ours.
- Rigmor: I think it will soon be all of Skyrim’s, if not all of Tamriel’s, business very soon.
- Balgruuf: You’d better get up to High Hrothgar immediately. There is no refusing the summons of the Greybeards. It’s a tremendous honour.
- Wulf: We shall travel there as soon as we can Jarl Balgruuf. But know this, I answer to The Divines, not those old men who have not aided Skyrim in centuries. I doubt they will help you now.
- Balgruuf: No matter. Go to High Hrothgar when you can. Learn what the Greybeards can teach you.
- Rigmor: We shall do so. And please, forgive Wulf for his abruptness. This incident has been a bit of a shock as you can imagine.
- Balgruuf: He sounds like me, so no forgiveness needed.
- Rigmor: This is him in one of his good moods.
- Balgruuf: You’ve done a great service for me and my city, Dragonborn. Therefore, by my rights as Jarl, I name you Thane of Whiterun. It is the highest honour within my power to grant.
- Wulf: I did not want any reward Jarl Balgruuf. But I will be honoured to accept this appointment. Whiterun is a beautiful city full of exceptional people.
- Balgruuf: I also assign Lydia to you as a personal Housecarl. I ask you also accept this sword. Not as a gift but as a badge of your office.
The Jarl handed me a fine sword that any warrior would be proud to carry.
- Balgruuf: I’ll also notify my guards of your new title. We wouldn’t want them to think you are part of the common rabble, now would we?
- Rigmor: Maybe if he didn’t stink like a dead Skeever that mistake wouldn’t happen.
- Balgruuf: We are honoured to have you as Thane of our city, Dragonborn.
I bowed to the Jarl and made my way downstairs to where Lydia was standing. She had the bearings of a warrior but with beauty and grace added. She was like a Nord Shieldmaiden of old.
- Wulf: Greetings Lydia. We are Wulf and Rigmor.
- Lydia: The Jarl has appointed me to be your Housecarl. It is an honour to serve you.
- Wulf: I am uncomfortable with the idea of somebody being my servant. Perhaps in time, you will just be a friend.
- Lydia: The Jarl has recognised you as a person of great importance in the hold. A hero. The title of Thane is an honour. A gift for your service.
- Wulf: What are a Housecarl’s duties?
- Lydia: As my Thane, I’m sworn to your service. I’ll guard you, and all you own, with my life.
- Wulf: It is bad enough having somebody being my servant. Having somebody risk their life for no other reason than I have a title is not okay.
- Rigmor: Wulf, we need to talk. Now!
- Wulf: Excuse us for a minute, Lydia.
- Lydia: Of course, my Thane.
We moved to the side, and I asked, “What is it, Rigmor?”
“You are not thinking of taking Lydia along with us, are you?”
“I cannot leave her in limbo. But I do have an idea.”
“I will purchase a house in Whiterun. It can act as our base if we are doing a lot of travelling. I want Lydia to go and protect Angi. The Thalmor took Rose. There is no reason they would not take her, as well.”
“Angi might not be too pleased.”
“Angi will see reason. There is also Sorella to protect.”
“Can you afford a house?”
“I doubt it will use up all the funds I have. Let me speak to Avenicci and see. Hey, it might even have a bath!”
“Well then you had better hurry. Even my fleas have fleas.”
I approached Avenicci and said, “I apologise for my outburst before.”
“No need Dragonborn. You were right, and I should learn what I can about the history of dragons and Dragonborn.”
“Do not forget to speak to Farengar. I think all of you need to hear what he has to say.”
“The Jarl has already arranged a meeting for later today.”
“Now, I would like to purchase a house.”
“We have one recently vacated. It was owned by a noble family who have returned to High Rock. It is called Breezehome.”
“The only problem being the funds the bank will not arrive till late today or tomorrow.”
“It is not like you can run away with the house if the funds do not come through. Here are the keys. Come to me with the funds at your convenience.”
“Ahh, how much is it?”
“Oh, it is fully furnished and a bargain at 12000 gold pieces.”
“I said I wanted a house, not the whole of Whiterun.”
“Well, we there are lesser establishments but…”
“No, that is okay. I am sure Rigmor will love it.”
Farengar was sitting at another table, so I went to talk to him.
He said, “If you have come to give me another lecture, then just go away and let me finish my meal in peace.”
“I have given you a chance to shine with your Jarl. I could have stolen your thunder but did not. Do not embellish. Do not grandstand. Tell him what you know. The facts are what he and Whiterun need.”
“You offended Delphine. That is not a wise move!”
“You have no idea who she is working for do you? If she is genuinely concerned about the threat to Skyrim, she will work with me. If not, I will trample all over her. Be free to pass that on next time you see her.”
“Anything else. My meal is getting cold.”
“Is that any way to speak to your Thane?”
“Oh, didn’t you know. Let your meal go cold and listen.”
“Ah, yes, Thane.”
“The Dovah we just killed was Mirmulnir. He was last sighted in The Reach in 2E 212. We are not just facing resurrected dragons. Tell Delphine that as well.”
I returned to Rigmor and Lydia. They seemed to have been chatting and getting to know each other while I was gone.
- Wulf: Do you know where Breezehome is, Lydia?
- Lydia: Of course. It is the most beautiful house in Whiterun.
- Wulf: Well, it is now your home. Would you like to show us the way?
- Lydia: It would be my pleasure.
- Rigmor: How much did you spend on a house, Guardian?
- Wulf: Don’t worry. We will at least have a house to return to after each day of begging.
As we walked through the city guards were already greeting me with, “Good evening to you, Thane” and “I hope you find everything is in order, Thane.”
There were also people in groups staring at me. I caught mention of “Dragonborn” and “Greybeards” amongst the gossip.
Lydia said, “Here it is my Thane, your new home.”
“You are sworn to obey me. Am I correct?”
“Yes, my Thane.”
“Then I order you to call me Wulf instead of ‘my Thane’.”
“Yes, my Thane.”
It might take some time, but I was determined to change Lydia subservience to friendship.
We entered Breezehome, and it immediately felt comfortable.
Rigmor said, “Hey, this isn’t so bad! Check the place out, Lydia.”
As the ladies started to snoop into every corner of the house, I did my own snooping.
Rigmor headed straight for the bar and was delighted the barrels were full of good quality mead.
There was an Enchanting Table which I planned to use before heading for High Hrothgar.
I was surprised to find a children’s bedroom with six beds. They could always be exchanged for adult beds if need be.
An Alchemy Table beckoned. Why did I have this urge to do alchemy?
A small private armoury may prove useful.
A good-sized desk will definitely get a lot of use.
An excellent quality Shrine of Talos was a welcome find.
A huge double bed was also welcome, and Rigmor will be happy to have the privacy of this room. I would feel quite comfortable sleeping at the foot of the stairs.
The Housecarl’s room was adequate. I will give Lydia funds to furnish it as she pleases.
A small trophy room has a ladder leading to a small tower.
A statue of Dibella probably helps explain the six beds for children.
Comfortable seats in the tower would be welcome if we ever get time to enjoy them.
I could very happily watch the people of Whiterun for hours. These were ordinary people going about their day. They are the very same type of people I am expected to save from Alduin somehow.
Rigmor had not yet discovered the spa bath when I called her over.
She walked into the room and asked, “Have you had a bath already?”
“Why would you ask that?”
“The water is green.”
“That is mineral water. The previous owner must have installed Dwemer pumps to bring it into this room. It is supposed to be good for relieving stress and soothing injuries. Even old injuries.”
“I have heard that before. I wonder if it’s true?”
“There are even those funny rectangular things that don’t taste good.”
“Bars of soap?”
“Yeah, that stuff.”
“I know we need to go to High Hrothgar, but I really need a bath.”
“Take your time. I will ask Lydia to come in and collect your gear. I want to sharpen your sword and repair your armour. I am going to restring Angi’s bow and add dweomer to that as well.”
“We need to talk about Lydia. But we can do that on the way to High Hrothgar.”
“Is there something troubling you about her.”
“No Guardian. It is poor Lydia herself. Like I said, I will talk about it later.”
“I will get a better set of armour commissioned for her as well. If she is going to be with us for any time, she needs better than that stuff she currently has. She can also get a horse from the Whiterun stables. They are good steeds for the money.”
“Can she remain in Whiterun for another day or so? She is waiting on important news.”
“Of course. But when Lydia can travel, I would feel more comfortable about Angi and Sorella if she was there with them.”
“I have already spoken to her, and she is keen to help with that. She is also quite shocked you are the Dragonborn. She never thought she would be a housecarl but to be one for a legend has made her a bit dizzy I think.”
“As for me being a Thane… you know it changes nothing about who I am. I took the title because it will help me achieve things a bit easier.”
“Good luck getting Lydia to call you by your name.”
“Even if she calls me Dragonborn or Stupid as long a there is no ‘my’ in front of it. That would make me more comfortable.”
“Go on, skedaddle. And Guardian, we are not stepping out of this house till you have a bath as well.”
“As long as you join me and show me how to use those soap thingies?”
“In your dreams. Now out!”
I sent Lydia in to help Rigmor out of her armour. A few minutes later, she returned with the items I needed to repair and improve.
Lydia then asked, “My Thane, if you can wait for ten or so minutes and give me about twenty septims I can do an important task without leaving Rigmor unguarded.”
“And that task is.”
“Ahem, um, lady things.”
“Well, um, undergarments, my Thane.”
“Has she requested any particular type of undergarments?”
“Only joking Lydia.”
“Of course, my Thane. Rigmor has told me you are weird. Something to do with being dropped on your head as a baby.”
“Has she now.”
“Does my Thane need new undergarments?”
“Oh no, I have only just taught these ones to answer to their name.”
“You jest once more, my Thane!”
“Can you also retrieve my saddlebags from the stables.”
“They know me there and will trust me. It should not be a problem, my Thane.”
I handed Lydia some coins, and she hurried out to ‘do her duty’.
I sat down to think of revenge on Rigmor. Dropped on my head!
I stared into the fire that Lydia had blazing within minutes of our arrival in Breezehome.
I could hear Rigmor singing, and she was seemingly delighted at getting her wish. I hoped the mineral water did help with any aches and pains.
My Dovah said, “After you have visited the Greybeards, we need to come to some accommodation.”
“We are one, not two! This division has helped as I learn the truth, but I must accept the fact I will have to do things I dislike. Even be ruthless.”
“There is something I doubt I could ever do, and that is simply accepting collateral damage. In their grand plans, I bet The Divines decide some sacrifices as necessary where I could not. They chose me. Apart from mortal free will, it is our empathy that can be hard for gods to understand, and I have plenty!”
“Even some Daedra show great empathy. Every successful General knows that some soldiers must be sacrificed for the war to be won.”
“I understand that. But the justification has to be clear. I am afraid a lot of what I see, and what they expect me to do, will lack that clarity.”
“Then I need those around me to help and give good advice.”
“Like a certain young woman whose eyes saved me from despair today.”
“Yes, those eyes and the soul behind them. They may be my saviour. They may be my ruin.”
“I am willing to take a chance on the later for the former.”
I sat quietly staring at the flames again, so was surprised when the front door swung open.
I immediately stood with my sword at the ready.
“Relax, my Thane. I am back from my trip to the general store. I hate shopping there. Belethor leered at me the whole time. I am sure he imagined me in the undergarments I purchased.”
“Um, not being indelicate, but I doubt you would fit in those suitable for Rigmor.”
“Oh, I could, my Thane. But they would not cover all they are meant to do.”
“And that would explain this Belethor. He needs to get out more often.”
“You can go do what you need to do, my Thane. I will attend to Rigmor.”
Lydia placed my saddlebags on the ground. They were quite heavy, and she seemed to have shouldered and carried them with no problems. She looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, my Thane. I am sworn to carry your burdens.”
She then left to attend to Rigmor.
I had the distinct feeling Lydia was starting to play on the servitude stuff a bit much. It seems Rigmor’s humour is at play.
I took what I needed from the saddlebags and headed next door to the blacksmiths.
I approached the woman I had seen discussing weapons with the Imperial Officer when we first arrived in Whiterun.
She looked over to me, then quickly stood up.
“Welcome to Warmaiden’s. How can I help you, Thane?”
“Wow, news travels fast!”
“The gossip already reached me before my father came to inform me. He wanted to make sure I did not embarrass the family in front of you. His is always concerned about what Jarl Balgruuf thinks.”
“He works with the Jarl?”
“He is his Advisor, Proventus Avenicci. I am his daughter, Adrianne War-Bear. As you can guess, I am married to a Nord. My husband is Ulfberth War-Bear. He works in the store as I do the blacksmith work out here.”
“I am Wulf, and would much prefer that than Thane.”
“Welcome to Warmaiden’s. How can I help you, Wulf?”
“I would like to commission you to make the best armour you can for my Housecarl.”
“For Lydia? May I ask if the other rumour is true, are you Dragonborn? Did you slay the dragon at the watchtower?”
“Your father seemed fairly ignorant of Dragonborn. But yes, I am Dragonborn and along with Irileth, my friend Rigmor and some fearless Whiterun Guards we slew a dragon called Mirmulnir.”
“Yes, my father did not tell me that bit. Thank goodness for gossiping guards. It won’t be long before all of Whiterun knows. Then all of Skyrim.”
“Maybe if I grow a beard, they won’t recognise me.”
“I think when houses fall down after you sneeze you might get identified.”
“Haha. So, about Lydia’s armour. It has to be good for obvious reasons.”
“That is why I asked about you being Dragonborn. I know precisely the armour she needs. If she comes for a fitting, I can have it ready in two days.”
“Oh, I don’t want you to prioritise it over other work!”
“Let me worry about that and do not worry about payment until later. You are the Thane of Whiterun. I can trust you with a bit of credit.”
“That is most generous of you, Adrianne.”
“Just one small favour. Next time you visit, please have a quick talk to my husband. Ulfberth is steeped in Nord legends and history. I can just imagine he might be so awestruck he would be rendered speechless. One can always hope.”
“I can tell you are fond of the man.”
“That I am.”
“One more thing, could I please use your workbench and wheel. I need to repair and hone some things before dark.”
“Do you need any ingots or ore?”
“No thanks, I have them with me.”
“Go ahead, I will be at this damn tanning rack for quite some time, I think. Stupid boars around here have bristles made of steel!”
As Adrianne went back to scraping the boar hide, I honed Rigmor’s sword and sharpened mine.
I then repaired Rigmor’s armour. It took a battering when she was smashed against that wall by the Draugr. I am still unsure as to what happened. The blue glow? That is the mystery.
I entered Breezehome and restrung Angi’s bow. I then placed strong Destruction dweomer on it. It was almost as powerful as mine, and that is made of some weird metal.
Rigmor’s sword was unnaturally sharp before I honed it. Now it needed special care to wield. Rigmor must be careful when sheathing and cleaning it.
I added some more powerful dweomer to add to the average ones already on Rigmor’s sword.
Lydia came and told me, “My Thane, Rigmor is ready for me to help her get dressed again and requests you go and bathe till you no longer smell like a rotting Skeever.”
“Is she currently decent?”
“She did have a towel with her. I will be aiding her in the main bedroom.”
As I walked towards the spa, Lydia studied Angi’s bow and seemed impressed with it.
Just before turning the corner, I said, “Are you covered Rigmor. You don’t want me getting any funny ideas!”
“Yes, Guardian. All my rude bits are covered.”
I turned the corner and Rigmor was standing in the water with a strategically placed towel around her.
I asked her, “Did the spa help with aches and pains?”
“It even helped with my old scars!”
“That is great! I will have a decent bath then we must head out. We will ride to Ivarstead but will not tackle the seven thousand steps till tomorrow.”
“Seven thousand what?”
“To get to High Hrothgar, we must climb the seven thousand steps.”
“Can’t we ride the horses up them?”
“Maybe on subsequent visits. It is pilgrimage than many undertake. Riding the horses up would not save much time, so I would prefer to make the pilgrimage. Using those things connected to my pelvis called legs.”
“You walk. I ride.”
“No. It will do you good.”
“Since when is dropping dead from exhaustion healthy?”
“How about, if you get exhausted, I will be your horse for a while.”
“Piggyback? Do you think I am a child?”
“I can see it in your eyes. You really want a piggyback. It is calling to you!”
“I am going to get dressed and leave you to have a bath. Piggyback? Pfft, yeah, right.”
Rigmor left the spa, and I undressed.
I looked at my smalls and grimaced. There was no chance of putting them on inside out or back to front. Stains on the inside. Yellow stain at the front. Brown stain at the back.
I used a bit of Magicka and reduced them to fine ash which I dumped into a nearby bucket. Lucky the Khajiit caravan had some that should fit. Ri’saad said he ordered them for a Pahmar-raht who was unfortunately killed by a tribe of Riekling after being found in bed with the Chieftain’s wife.
I shook my head but could still not remove the image that story conjured.
I lowered myself into the water with a loud, “Ahhh…” and ignored the dark cloud that coloured the water around me. The bubbles would soon remove any evidence of my filthy state.
A song came to me. I had learnt it somewhere, sometime. Days ago, I stopped pondering why I could remember something but not where I heard, read or saw it.
- My sweet love, she waits for me,
- Through storm and shine, cross land or sea.
- I run to her and together we,
- Sway as we kiss
- Sway as we kiss
- Her graceful shape I heave on high
- And in one hand I hold her nigh
- Her waiting lips are never dry
- Sway as we kiss
- Sway as we kiss
- Come the morn she goes
- The taste of her remains
- And in my mind, I see us sway
- Sway as we kiss
- Sway as we kiss
My Dovah remarked, “I have a pretty good voice!”
“Everybody sounds better in baths and spas.”
“No, I think I can play instruments as well.”
“Well, I do criticise bards when I hear them.”
“I think I should try plucking a lute when I get the chance.”
“Is that legal?”
I had let my hair out to wash it and only then realised I had no idea how to braid it again.
I eventually got out the water feeling much better with myself. The smalls fitted perfectly.
Damn, that image of the big Khajiit and Riekling Queen surfaced again.
Rigmor took delight in platting my hair, saying she hadn’t done it since she was a little girl. For another little girl.
There are plenty of men with long platted hair!
Rigmor assured me everything was arranged. Lydia would head to Angi’s as soon as she can with an introductory letter, so she doesn’t get an arrow in the head.
Lydia did not come to say goodbye. Rigmor dragged me outside, saying it was okay and that Lydia was busy.
Rigmor did not get me out before I heard the sobs coming from Lydia’s room. Rigmor would tell me what that was all about if she thinks I should know. I did not ask her about it.
It was just past 6:00 PM when we left Whiterun for Ivarstead.
Rigmor asked, “Do you know the way?”
“Not a clue but I have a map. How hard can it be?”
“If we end up in Hammerfell I will bite you.”
We rode past two Whiterun Guards who greeted their Thane with pleasantries. I don’t think I will ever be a comfortable noble.
A while later, Rigmor asked, “Why is that deer standing on a rock staring sideways at you?”
“Maybe I’m endearing.”
“I need some bow practice. The middle of your back looks like a good target right now.”
We came upon twin towers connected by a walkway spanning a river.
Rigmor said, “I bet that is a bandit stronghold.”
“I think your right. Would Ben like a bit of a gallop?”
“Why not? I don’t feel like wasting time slicing up idiots.”
The horses enjoyed the brief dash, and although Hashire outpaced Ben, it was not by much.
We came across an animal Rigmor had never seen before. “What is that thing?” she asked.
“A beaver. Lots of males like looking at beavers.”
“Ask Lydia. She will tell you.”
Even though it seemed a much longer way to get to Ivarstead, we stuck to the main roads rather than across the mountain tracks. The main reason being there were excellent signs to point the way.
After a few hours in the saddle, the bath was a distant memory. My new smalls were trying to hide in places they should not go. I was worried about any future fatherhood prospects.
Masser had just risen, and Rigmor asked, “Why is Masser so big tonight?”
“It is what they call an illusion. It is no bigger, but because it is low on the horizon, your brain compares it with other objects and decides it is bigger.”
“That is gobblygook again.”
“No, it is a branch of learning call science. You have history, philosophy, mathematics etcetera. The branch of learning that tries to explain how nature works is called science.”
“Okay, what useful information has science taught you?”
“Never put yellow snow in your mouth.”
We passed some Stormcloaks.
I said to Rigmor, “We have not seen much evidence of the war on our travels.”
“No. I suppose we are lucky.”
Less than a mile further up the road, we saw plenty of evidence.
We stopped at the edge of a battle. Rigmor asked, “What do we do, Guardian?”
“We can’t go around so we will ride very slowly through. Neither of us are in uniform or will have weapons drawn.”
“That might stop somebody swinging a weapon our way but what about the spells being thrown about?”
“The dweomer I put on your armour will stop anything these soldiers can cast.”
“Okay. We might as well try.”
The battle was chaotic, and there seemed to be no tactics, just slaughter the nearest enemy. I was sickened by what I saw. Ulfric will have to be stopped and brought to justice.
On the other side of the fight, Rigmor asked, “Where did Alduin hide and how is he going to get stronger?”
“I have no idea where he hides. Mirmulnir said he devours the souls of our fallen in Sovngarde. He will get fat on the civil war.”
Rigmor cried out, “No, poor Lydia. Oh, we shouldn’t have left her!”
“Why? What is wrong with Lydia?”
“Her fiancé was a Falkreath Guard. He was at Helgen, and he is missing.”
“Oh, and she was waiting for the official casualties list. That is why she wanted to stay in Whiterun a few days.”
‘She knows logically he is dead. But there were injured as well. Maybe he is unconscious or burnt or some other reason he might not have come home or been recognised. That is her hope, and it is a desolate one.”
“But Falkreath and Whiterun. That seems a long way for a romance!”
“They met each other while working as guards in Whiterun. Falkreath has been poaching guards from other Holds by offering far better wages. Bjorn is the name of her fiancé. He wanted to earn some more money before their marriage. They had a home being built in Helgen. It was almost complete.”
“I have told nobody what Alduin is doing. We have to keep that quiet as many Nords are comforted if a loved one falls in battle by the promise of Sovngarde.”
“Lydia would fall apart of she thought Bjorn would never drink mead in the Hall of Valour.”
“You two seemed to have bonded quickly. Now I know why.”
“She is a sweet person, Guardian. She put on a brave face for her new Thane. She did not want to bother you with her problems.”
“I hate the title already. I am still Wulf, and I would have understood.”
“We know that, but Lydia was promoted from the ranks of the Whiterun Guards to be a housecarl. Nobility in Skyrim is not as repulsive as Cyrodiil, but it still has its rules and protocols.”
“And you tried to keep her spirits up with a bit of humour.”
“What a clever Guardian. Figuring that out even though he was dropped on his head as a baby.”
“Revenge shall be mine.”
“Do you know what? She felt guilty telling me about Bjorn and then seeing my back. She somehow thought it was wrong because my suffering was more than what she is going through.”
“I feel like riding back and sharing her grief.”
“If Bjorn is dead, then get revenge for her. Kill Alduin!”
“When I do kill him, I think it will be revenge for very many Lydias!”
The rest of the ride was incident free and silent as we were both deep in thought.
We crossed the bridge and entered Ivarstead just after 11:00 PM.
We hitched the horses outside Vilemyr Inn.
It had become an automatic routine.
I ordered a room, food and drink from a barkeep.
Then I set a chair up so I could guard Rigmor as she slept.
The difference this night was I did not sleep.
I had purchased a good quality journal and writing implements from the Khajiit. I was determined to write down my experiences and thoughts each day.
One day historians will have the story of this Dragonborn in his own words.
Maybe in the future, I will awake again after The Divines have wiped my memory, and these journals will bring them back to me.
I looked over at the sleeping young Nord called Rigmor and wondered how much of my story will revolve around her.
An old man walked through the halls of High Hrothgar. The Greybeards did not know he was there. The place hadn’t changed much since he first visited centuries before. He stopped at the end of a corridor and touched a door that had remained closed for a millennium. It recognised him and swung open. He walked another short hallway and into the main chamber. He had never been here before as it was built for somebody else. Now it will be used again. All seemed in order, so the old man made his way out into the cold night.
The old man stood on a cliff edge and peered down at Ivarstead. The Divines had heard their Champion’s anguish and his gift awaited. The Journal was a good idea. Pride filled the old man’s chest.