Rigmor of Bruma and Skyrim quests: The Way of the Voice, The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.
We exited the Vilemyr Inn at about 6:45 AM.
I told Rigmor, “We will take it slow. It might get a bit harder when we get higher up because the air is thinner.”
“Well, I hope there are good views!”
At the bridge leading to the seven thousand steps, two locals were discussing supplies that needed delivering to High Hrothgar.
I said to the one called Klimmek, “We are making the trip today. Let us take them up for you.”
“Really, well that would be kind of you.”
“Will they owe you money for this?”
“Well, it’s kind of an understanding between us. I mean, it just wouldn’t feel right to charge the Greybeards for a bit of preserved food.”
“I will make sure they get it Klimmek. You rest up those legs of yours.”
Rigmor asked, “Are we going to count the steps?”
“Nah, I would have to take my boots off after we got to ten.”
“This is going to be a long day…”
We walked past a brazier with a green flame. I stopped and put my hand near it.
“Something wrong, Guardian?” asked Rigmor.
“No, just a strong sense of Kynareth. But there is nothing to denote this as a shrine.”
“It might be for some ritual. You would assume a lot of ceremonies and so on are attached to the highest place in Tamriel.”
“You are probably right.”
Not far from the beginning of the climb was the first Emblem. It was housed in a Shrine to Kynareth.
The Emblems tell a story that unfolds as you climb. I read the first Emblem to Rigmor,
- Before the birth of men, the Dragons ruled all Mundus;
- Their word was the Voice, and they spoke only for True Needs;
- For the Voice could blot out the sky and flood the land
Rigmor asked, “The Dov did not talk because they might cause catastrophes?”
“Yes, even the Greybeards can do so. When they summoned Tiber Septim, they caused avalanches that crushed whole villages and killed hundreds of people.”
“What about when they summoned you?”
“We were a lot closer than Tiber Septim was. But still, you felt the ground shake.”
“How powerful do you think your Thu’um could get?”
“I have no idea. Let’s hope I never get so powerful that I can’t talk. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?”
“Can I think about that and get back to you with my answer?”
A huge Snow Tiger decided to eat us for breakfast. I drew my bow but did not fire. I said, “Rigmor, use your bow.”
The Snow Tiger got closer and closer.
“RIGMOR, YOUR BOW!”
“I am trying!”
The Snow Tiger pounced at me. One of Rigmor’s arrows hit it mid-flight.
I stepped aside and watched it drop dead onto the stairs behind us.
“Good shot Rigmor. Too bad about my new underwear!”
Not much further on from the Snow Tiger the whining started.
“Seven thousand steps! Are you kidding?” Rigmor said as if that was the worst thing ever.
“To make the pilgrimage correctly, we have to walk backwards up the last three thousand.”
“That was kidding. The seven thousand steps are not a joke.”
“I hate you!”
“I wasn’t expecting that remark till at least halfway.”
I know The Greybeards are devout followers of Kynareth, and many consider The Throat of the World to be sacred as it touches the sky, which is her domain. So, I was not surprised when we walked past a pillar where I could feel her presence. The brazier, pillar and the Shrines containing the Emblems were all associated with Kynareth, and it made the entire mountain feel like her domain.
We came to a steep hill. I said to Rigmor, “Look! No steps!”
“No, just a steep hill. I will have monster thighs after this!”
At the top of the hill, a pilgrim was praying at one of the Shrines. He stopped and turned to greet us when we got closer.
He asked, “Hello, did you two hear the Greybeards call ‘Dovahkiin’?”
“Yeah, what do you think it all means?”
“I don’t know. Strange days when the monks do something like that.”
“Were you praying to Lady Kynareth?”
“Yes. I like to spend time up here. Walk the steps, meditate on the Emblems. It doesn’t hurt when I bag some game along the way.”
“We have seen goats and a Snow Tiger. What else can we expect?”
“Wolves, bears, Ice Wraiths, Snow Trolls.”
“Well, good luck with your hunting.”
I read the second Emblem to Rigmor,
- Men were born and spread over the face of Mundus;
- The Dragons presided over the crawling masses;
- Men were weak then, and had no Voice
“So, mortals could not use the Thu’um at first?” asked Rigmor.
“No. Kynareth gifted mortals the ability to learn and use it. Dragons opposed to Alduin taught the Words of Power and Shouts to the first Tongues.”
“Not all Dov support Alduin?”
“Think of him as the Ulfric of dragons. He had followers, but his main aim was power for himself. Many times, dragons have aided mortals in the fight against other dragons.”
“You don’t think of them as beasts, do you?”
“No, they are highly intelligent and have built wonderful cities and can live with mortals co-operatively. The problem is the basic impulse of a Dovah is to dominate. Not all can or want to suppress that impulse.”
“Do you think you will have friend Dov like Tiber Septim?”
“He wanted to make them citizens of The Empire. But he never got around to it, so The Blades continued to hunt them down simply for being what they are, not for anything they did. No different than Ysgramor and his followers slaughtering the Falmer simply because of what they were. Genocide seems to be a favourite Nord pastime.”
Another Snow Tiger attacked, and I yelled out, “Rigmor, bow!”
She ran past and killed the animal with a single swing of her sword.
She explained, “I was thinking of your poor underwear!”
We came to the third Emblem which Rigmor read out to me,
- The fledgeling spirits of Men were strong in Old Times;
- Unafraid to war with Dragons and their Voices;
- But the Dragons only shouted them down and broke their hearts
I told Rigmor, “Kynareth took pity on the mortals. They were brave but stood no chance against the Dov without the Thu’um. That is why she gifted us with it.”
“Didn’t the Khajiit defeat the dragons that invaded Elsweyr without Tongues or Dragonborn.”
“They had Dov fighting with them. They also developed techniques to fight beside dragons and against dragons. Plus, they found some artefacts to help them whose name and function have been kept secret. That was way back in 2E 582, but still they teach their young that dragons are real and how to defeat them.”
“Do you know how they did it?”
“Only fragments. They were Khajiit, beasts to the scholars of Tamriel. What could they have done of interest to us? Little of their history is in Empire libraries.”
“Yet places like the Imperial Library are supposed to be a central repository of knowledge!”
“Rewritten histories. Propaganda. Bias. That is what fills our central repositories of knowledge. Try finding Ayleid texts. They were burnt. Try finding Falmer texts. They were also burnt.”
“I can see this subject angers you. Let’s continue on Guardian, the weather is clearing, and we may get some unbelievable views further up.”
My Dovah said, “She can sense the Dovah in me surfacing. I have to learn more control.”
“I have to accept my Dovah.”
“Yes, otherwise there is a chance the Dovah is all people will see.”
Rigmor and me found the downward sections far more taxing on our legs than the climbing. On one particularly long stretch Rigmor did her whiniest whine yet, “Are we there yet?”
“Well, unless High Hrothgar is teeny weeny or invisible, I would guess the answer is… no.”
“I hate you!”
“You have already said that.”
“I hate you even more!”
“That’s the spirit!”
A few minutes later, the next Rigmor whine was, “I’m getting hungry…”
We came across another pilgrim sitting before the fourth Emblem.
Rigmor asked her, “Hello. Did you hear the Greybeards call ‘Dovahkiin’?”
The pilgrim answered, “Yes! I was just outside Ivarstead when it happened. It’s an exciting moment. Nothing like this has happened in centuries.”
Rigmor read the fourth Emblem to me,
- Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man;
- Together they taught Men to use the Voice;
- Then Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue
As we walked away from the fourth Emblem, I said to Rigmor, “If Paarthurnax still lives at The Throat of the World and is protected by The Greybeards, I might get to meet him. He is their leader. Their Grandmaster.”
“Imagine talking to somebody alive all that time!”
“All dragons are approximately the same age. Alduin was the first to be made by Lord Akatosh. I wonder if they all look as healthy as Mirmulnir or some show their age more?”
“Why is Alduin so strong compared to the others?”
“In the old Nord languages, Akatosh and Alduin are interchangeable. They mean the same thing. There is a duality to Akatosh. The start of time and the end of time. If I fight Alduin, I may be fighting part of Akatosh.”
“And that allowed him to start stronger than the other Dov?”
“I suppose so. And when you are on top, you find ways to stay there. I bet no other Dov can eat souls in Sovngarde!”
“But if they knew Alduin’s secrets they might be able to?”
“I think so. I don’t believe Alduin is any different other than the knowledge he has kept to himself.”
A bit further on Rigmor started to slow considerably up a significant incline. Although Rose and I did the best healing we could, Rigmor needed rest to get back to full health. She had zero chance of that since we left Rose’s camp. Rigmor had been keeping up with me as best she could, but I thought the young Nord would reach her limit of endurance on the seven thousand steps. That is what happened.
Rigmor said, “Guardian, I don’t think I can make it.”
“Rigmor, I am amazed at how well you have done the last few days. I can carry you, give you a piggyback, or you can ride on my shoulders. None of these options is a sign of weakness or in any way childish.”
“Ride on your shoulders? How far?”
“How about the next two Emblems and see how we go from there?”
I crouched down, and Rigmor climbed aboard. She was worried about balance at first, but soon relaxed. She was no burden, and I was rewarded with the real Rigmor. When she was not concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other and fighting pain, she could look around and share her wonder of all things natural. I soaked up every word and sentence and stored them away. I knew they could be my salvation when my thoughts darken.
We encountered a Snow Troll, and I told Rigmor to shoot her bow from my shoulders. She almost overbalanced both of us trying to get it off her back and draw it. So, I put Rigmor down for a few seconds thinking she would use the bow then.
Instead she ran up and killed the troll with one hit of her sword.
Rigmor then ran back, and I let her climb back onto my shoulders.
I said to Rigmor, “You should practice the bow against the weaker opponents. We know you can kill them with your sword, but they are not always going to be easily reached.”
“It is just a habit. Baa’Ren-Dar prefers the bow although he is deadly with a knife. He used to tell me the same as you. Both melee and ranged weapons should be mastered.”
“And given time you will be a natural at quickly switching between the two. I am kind of hoping that does not take too long. I have no idea what we will be facing with the New Order and dragons interfering with your holiday in Skyrim.”
“I am getting to see all the sights! Bleak Falls Barrow, Fort Black and now High Hrothgar.”
I read the fifth Emblem to Rigmor,
- Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world;
- Proving for all that their Voice too was strong;
- Although their sacrifices were many-fold
I said to Rigmor, “Well, there is the answer to what happened to Alduin. Yet the written histories treat his disappearance as some great mystery.”
“Well, we know they defeated him with a Shout. But where did he go, how did he get back and what Shout?”
“I would like to know the answers to all that but really, just learning the Shout should enable me to do what the ancient Tongues did.”
“Why wasn’t there a Dragonborn to help in the Dragon Wars?”
“That is an excellent question! Maybe the Greybeards will know the answer.”
“Wasn’t Saint Alessia the first Dragonborn?”
“I don’t think she could Shout. But yes, she is considered the first. Dragon Blood was part of the covenant she made with Akatosh. It made the Red Diamond in the centre of The Amulet of Kings. However, many say that Lorkhan’s blood made it. I think it was both, but that is just a hunch.”
We would occasionally stop to look out on Skyrim. Rigmor would say something like, “Wow, what a view!” or “That is amazing!” or similar. It was always with enthusiasm.
We reached the sixth Emblem. Rigmor said, “You can put me down. I think I can do the rest.”
Once back on the ground she said, “Don’t tell Ben about this. He gets jealous of other horses.”
“Well, I am a noble steed.”
“Droll. That is the word for you. Sometimes weird, mostly droll.”
Rigmor ran to the sixth Emblem and said, “My turn” then read it out,
- With roaring Tongues, the Sky-Children conquer;
- Founding the First Empire with Sword and Voice;
- Whilst the Dragons withdrew from this World
Rigmor asked, “It is not Saint Alessia’s empire referred to is it?”
“It refers to the first Nord Empire, which did not last very long. A civil war of fifty years duration ended up destroying what they argued over. One hundred and seventy-five years from foundation to destruction. That is what happens when you found something purely on violence.”
“I think Ulfric could destroy The Empire. Even if he wins, the Dominion will conquer what is left of The Empire then Skyrim or the opposite order.”
“That is exactly what I think and why I find this New Order a bit strange. It is as if they knew a civil war would break out in Skyrim and were ready to take advantage. I don’t think their plans were drawn up after the civil war started.”
“You think the New Order orchestrated the civil war?”
“No, I think the Aldmeri Dominion did. The New Order has just used what the Thalmor had already planned for since the White-Gold Concordat was signed.”
As the seventh Emblem came into view, Rigmor pondered, “I wonder what Greybeards eat?”
“They love soup of any kind. The Greybeards dip their beards in the soup then suck on them later. Flavour savers.”
“I was hungry before. Now I’m not. Yuck!”
I read the seventh Emblem to Rigmor,
- The Tongues at Red Mountain went away humbled;
- Jurgen Windcaller began His Seven Year Meditation;
- To understand how Strong Voices could fail
Rigmor asked, “What happened at the Battle of the Red Mountain?”
“It depends on whose account you read. This Windcaller sounds like a typical Nord. How could we lose a battle when we had Tongues on our side?”
“I think the other side must have used better tactics and more powerful magic.”
“That is the logical conclusion, yet this Windcaller contemplated his belly button for seven years.”
“Isn’t there a chance you would go slightly insane and invent an answer that pleases you rather than face the truth.”
“A Nord invasion force annihilated by Mer. That is enough to drive many Nords insane.”
When we reached the eighth Emblem, Rigmor was still walking strong and seemed to have got over the worst of her fatigue. That is opposite to what I thought would happen as the air got thinner.
Rigmor read the eighth Emblem out loud,
- Jurgen Windcaller chose silence and returned;
- The seventeen disputants could not shout Him down;
- Jurgen the Calm built His home on the Throat of the World
Rigmor asked, “Jurgen Windcaller built High Hrothgar?”
“It seems so. But only after winning an argument against seventeen other Tongues.”
“The other Tongues did not like what he said after those seven years of belly button watching.”
“Maybe he outlawed any Tongue with an ugly sticking out belly button?”
“Guess what, Guardian?”
Between the eighth and ninth Emblems, I spotted a small chest sitting precariously on the edge of a very long fall. It would have been easy to miss, but my eyes seemed drawn to it.
As I walked towards it, Rigmor asked, “Where are you going?”
I pointed to the chest.
She exclaimed, “That is a strange place for that to be!”
“It sure is. It must have been placed there. Probably by a pilgrim.”
“Should you open it?”
“Are you telling me you could ignore it. That you could keep walking to High Hrothgar without it haunting you for the rest of your days? ‘What was in the chest. What was in the chest.’ echoing in your mind every night when you are trying to sleep.”
“Well Guardian, what are you waiting for? It is not going to open by itself!”
I opened it, and chills ran down my spine. It was a huge rose, the same as the one I found in Azura’s shrine. I had given that one to Rose along with the gold.
I then remembered something else.
I gave Rose everything in that treasure except one single item, a red mountain flower. It was still tucked away inside the pocket of my undershirt and right over my heart.
Why did I do that? It was before I knew that it was Rigmor’s favourite flower.
Rigmor could not see what I had retrieved and yelled out, “Well, Guardian, what was in it?”
“Close your eyes and put out your hand. I trust you not the peek.”
“If you put something yucky in my hand like a slug or something, I will never forgive you.”
Rigmor closed her eyes. I bent low like a courtier and put the petals of the rose against her outstretched hand.
“Open your eyes Rigmor. I have a gift from Azura for you.”
Rigmor opened her eyes and gasped. She gently took the rose from me and smelt its perfume.
She asked, “How do you know it is from Azura?”
“Well, for a start I think you will find it will never wilt. I found one inside Azura’s shrine at the top of the mountain I climbed. Nobody had been in there for a very long time.”
“And you gave that one to Rose?”
“Along with all the gold, yes.”
“Did you, um, like Rose?”
“I admired Rose. I did not think of her romantically if that is what you are asking.”
“Of course not, why would I care anyway.”
“No idea. Why would you?”
Rigmor turned a bit red then quickly said, “So, this is a gift from Azura?”
I reached under my armour, and Rigmor probably thought I was going to scratch some annoying itch. I retrieved the red mountain flower from my pocket.
I handed Rigmor the mountain flower and said, “Yes, that is from Azura. This flower is from me. It was also in Azura’s temple lying next to the rose.”
Rigmor showed delight at the rose, but she gasped at the slightly squished and droopy mountain flower.
“That was before you saw me picking the flowers. Why did you keep it, and where did you keep it?”
“Why I don’t know. I only just remembered I did. It was in my shirt pocket.”
“Which is where?”
“Over my heart.”
Rigmor smiled and said, “Do you think a god would take time out of her busy schedule to play matchmaker?”
I quickly replied, “Ah…I am getting cold. Let us hurry to High Hrothgar!”
Rigmor chuckled and said, “I don’t think I could hurt the rose if I tried.” She then shoved it to the bottom of her quiver.
Rigmor then said, “Turn around, Guardian.”
I did as commanded and turned around. Rigmor then started cursing, and I could hear her chainmail shirt rattling and buckles being undone.
My Dovah asked, “Ahh… what is she doing?”
“I hope she didn’t get any weird ideas!”
“That would be embarrassing out here in the snow and ice… things shrink!”
“Not to mention frostbite!”
After a minute or so, Rigmor said, “OK, you can turn around again.”
I was relieved to see her still fully clothed and asked, “What was that all about?”
“I put the flower where it would be safe.”
“I don’t have pockets, but my brassier will do.”
“Ahh… right then… off to the Greybeards.”
I started walking quickly along the path. Rigmor chuckled as she rushed to catch up.
When high Hrothgar came into view, Rigmor exclaimed, “By the Gods, look at that. That’s… just… wow!”
I didn’t want to dent Rigmor’s enthusiasm, so I did not voice my opinion.
My Dovah said, “What a horrible monstrosity to stick in amongst all this beauty.”
“It is dull and grey and uninspiring.”
“It could house hundreds, but there are only a few Greybeards.”
We walked over to the ninth Emblem. Above it towered a statue of Tiber Septim.
I asked Rigmor, “Does Tiber Septim look like a Nord to you?”
“We don’t know if that is a true representation, but no, that is not the face of a Nord.”
“Don’t you find it weird that the most commonly used face on Tiber Septim statues looks more Breton than Nord. Especially the eyes. They are Mer eyes.”
Rigmor read aloud the ninth Emblem,
- For years all silent, the Greybeards spoke one name;
- Tiber Septim, stripling then, was summoned to Hrothgar;
- They blessed and named him Dovahkiin
I said, “I was named Dovahkiin before meeting the Greybeards. I doubt that was a name the Greybeards could bestow upon Tiber Septim.”
“Yes, Mirmulnir called you Dovahkiin before you even did a Shout.”
“As I have said before, I think Alduin recognised what I was in Helgen. He would have told Mirmulnir.”
“Well, not long now till you get some answers.”
We could see the tenth and final Emblem from the ninth.
We walked over, and I read the tenth Emblem to Rigmor,
- The Voice is worship;
- Follow the Inner path;
- Speak only in True Need
Both of us were enveloped in a bright light for a split second.
“Um… what was that?” asked Rigmor.
“We were just blessed by Lady Kynareth. It is the reward for making the pilgrimage. You can walk up to any animal for the next twenty-four hours, and it will neither run away or attack.”
“That is so cool!”
“It makes for easy target practice.”
“The Emblem sounds kind of religious!” observed Rigmor.
“I hope not. I can’t stand religious mumbo jumbo. It is always in flowery language, which is an attempt to make it sound all mysterious and godlike.”
“Mumbo jumbo? I like that almost as much as gobblygook!”
“It is more polite than saying bullshit.”
“True need is mentioned again.”
“Would, ‘Where is the privy?’ be a true need?”
“Ask the Greybeards who can’t tell you anyway because that would be talking.”
In the centre of the steps leading to High Hrothgar’s entrance was a chest. It was surrounded by offerings left for the Greybeards. I placed Klimmek’s supplies inside it.
Before entering High Hrothgar, I said to Rigmor, “We have to be on our best behaviour with the Greybeards. I need answers, and if we offend them, I might not get them.”
“Am I even allowed inside?”
“Well, I am not leaving you out here! What kind of Guardian would leave his lady outside in the cold where he can’t see her and keep her safe?”
“Rigmor, we have to take this seriously.”
“OK, OK, lighten up.”
“I am keen to get answers and terrified at the same time. I apologise if that stops me being the light-hearted Wulf for a while!”
“I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?”
“Look for somewhere to sit as far away as you can get but still see and hear everything. I want you to witness what is said and done.”
“I think it will be something special, and I want to share the moment.”
Rigmor smiled, and I turned to face the entrance.
I took a deep breath, and then we entered High Hrothgar together.
The door clanged shut behind us, and we found ourselves facing an interior as dull and grey and lifeless as the exterior.
Rigmor whispered, “Phew, It’s a bit musty in here… I wonder what they do with themselves all day.”
“Suck the soup from their beards?”
“Who is not being serious now?”
“Shush, I can hear somebody coming. Quickly, go find a good snooping spot.”
I waited for four Greybeards to finish positioning themselves, then entered the main chamber.
Rigmor moved quickly to the right and found a bench to sit on. The Greybeards never took their eyes off me.
As I neared the centre of the room, one of the Greybeards stepped forward. He said, “So… a Dragonborn appears, at this moment in the turning of the age.”
“I have been told you can help me.”
“First, let us see if you truly are Dragonborn. Let us taste your Voice?”
“What does me using the Thu’um prove? Ulfric Stormcloak can Shout.”
“Your strength will tell us.”
I assumed no matter how strong my Thu’um, it would not hurt Masters of the Tongue. So, I gave them a taste as requested.
I knocked them backwards and onto their arses. Pots and amphoras flew around and smashed to the ground.
As the Greybeards stood back up and the echo of my Shout died away, I heard giggling coming from Rigmor’s direction.
The Greybeard who had greeted me regained his feet then walked up to me. He then said, “Dragonborn, it is you! Welcome to High Hrothgar. I am Master Arngeir. I speak for the Greybeards. Now tell me, Dragonborn, why have you come here?”
“You asked me to come, so maybe you can tell me why I have come here?”
More giggling from Rigmor.
“We are the Greybeards, followers of the Way of the Voice. You stand in High Hrothgar, on the slopes of Kynareth’s sacred mountain. Here we commune with the voice of the sky, and try to achieve the balance between our inner and outer selves.”
“I know who you are and where I am. Perhaps you can tell me what you think being Dragonborn means.”
“We are here to guide you in that pursuit, just as the Greybeards have sought to guide those of the Dragon Blood that have come before you.”
“But only those who can use the Thu’um as a Dov can. You did not guide the Septim family members who only had the Dragon Blood.”
“Can only one Dragonborn that can Shout exist at once?”
“Whether you are the only Dragonborn of this age, that is not ours to know.”
“I don’t care if I am the first, seventy-seventh or the last. I asked, can more than one Dragonborn that can Shout be alive on Nirn at the same time?”
“I do not know. You are the only one that has been revealed thus far. That is all I can say.”
“Can you teach me about the Thu’um?”
“You have shown that you are Dragonborn. You have the inborn gift. But do you have the discipline and temperament to follow the path laid out for you? That remains to be seen. Without training, you have already taken the first steps towards projecting your Voice into a Thu’um, a Shout. Now let us see if you are willing and able to learn.”
“Master Arngeir, you do not know what path has been laid out for me. Neither are you qualified to judge my discipline or temperament! I also find it hard to believe men who have not lived in the real world would know what is required to live as Dragonborn. As for my willingness and ability to learn, can we get to the teaching without all this mumbo jumbo?”
Rigmor coughed a couple of times. She was hoping I would get the signal and calm down.
Arngeir bowed slightly to acknowledge my objections then continued, “When you Shout, you speak the language of dragons. Thus, your Dragon Blood gives you an inborn ability to learn Words of Power. All Shouts are made up of three Words of Power. As you master each Word, your shout will become progressively stronger. Master Einarth will now teach you ‘ro’, the second word in Unrelenting Force.”
Einarth stepped forward then whispered a Word of Power.
The Word of Power started to glow on the ground before him.
Arngeir explained, “Ro means ‘Balance’ in the dragon tongue. Combine it with ‘fus’ – Force – to focus your Thu’um more sharply.
Innately I knew the closer to the glowing glyphs I am, the quicker I will absorb the Word of Power. I stepped forward but found one of the vessels I had sent flying earlier obscured some of the glowing Word of Power. I kicked it out of the way, and it bounced off Einarth’s shin with a loud clang.
I concentrated on the glyphs ignoring the further giggles coming from Rigmor.
Soon I had ‘ro’ wedged into my brain like I had experienced with ‘fus’ in Bleak Falls Barrow.
Arngeir exclaimed, “You learn a new word like a master… you truly do have the gift.”
Rigmor’s giggles ended when she took time out to say, “DUH!”
Arngeir continued, “But learning a Word of Power is only the first step… you must unlock its meaning through constant practice in order to use it in a Shout. Well, that is how the rest of us learn Shouts. As Dragonborn, you can absorb a slain dragon’s life force and knowledge directly. As part of your initiation, Master Einarth will allow you to tap into his understanding of ‘ro’.
A stream of knowledge leapt from Einarth to me. Unlike the horror of the Dovah soul absorption, I had time to study the phenomena as it occurred.
Gradually I knew the many ways ‘ro’ might be used in a Shout. I recognised the differing pronunciation required when combined with other Words of Power. I obtained deep insights into a single word that I had no doubt took an ordinary mortal much meditation and time to understand. Yet in seconds, I had that knowledge.
Arngeir said, “Now let us see how quickly you can master your new Thu’um.”
I stood at one corner of a square. Three Greybeard arranged themselves behind me. The Arngeir instructed, “Use your Unrelenting Force Shout to strike the targets as they appear.”
One at a time a Greybeard used a Shout to create translucent replica themself. I would then use Unrelenting Force to eliminate the replica.
After I eliminated the third replica, Arngeir said, “Impressive. Your Thu’um is precise. You show great promise, Dragonborn.”
My Dovah boasted, “Great promise? Even Rigmor would see your Thu’um dwarves theirs.”
Arngeir then said, “We will perform your next trial in the courtyard. Follow Master Borri.”
As The Greybeards headed for the exit, I went over to talk to Rigmor.
I asked her, “Not getting too bored?”
“That was amazing!”
“I am having great difficulty keeping my temper. So far, this is a load of bollocks.”
“Another new word for my vocabulary! What does it mean?”
“Male dangly bits. Not the meat but the potatoes.”
“You were not educated anywhere in Cyrodiil!”
“I had better catch up with Master Borri. I don’t think they would allow you into their courtyard. I have a feeling it might be rather sacred.”
“I think I am safe in here Guardian. Any bad guys who came through the door would die of boredom before reaching me.”
“I think The Greybeards would take mere seconds to slaughter anybody not invited. Nobody would be stupid enough to risk their wrath.”
Rigmor smiled, and my heart lurched.
I hurried and was second outside after Borri.
My eyes were drawn to a large tower. I guessed it would be yet another place of meditation for the monk-like Greybeards. I could also see a set of stairs leading to a path that I assumed led to the summit of the mountain. The winds blowing across that path were not natural.
The other Greybeards joined us outside, then Arngeir said, “We will now see how you learn a completely new Shout.”
I said, “I have no idea what this test is supposed to prove. I have proven my ability to learn a new Shout by learning the Unrelenting Force Shout.”
“I must be patient. The Greybeards may prove essential.” advised my Dovah.
I stood before Borri then Arngeir said, “Master Borri will teach you ‘wuld’ which means ‘whirlwind.’”
Borri made the Word of Power appear on the snow.
I absorbed the Word of Power which took its place within my brain.
Arngeir did not improve my mood when he added mumbo jumbo to the stupidity, “You must hear the Word within yourself before you can project it into a Thu’um.”
My Dovah asked, “Is he talking about passing wind or the Thu’um?”
I was already in place for the obvious next step so I gritted my teeth when Arngeir said, “Approach Master Borri, and he will gift you his knowledge of ‘wuld.’”
To everybody’s surprise, I absorbed the knowledge required just as I have done twice before.
Arngeir then said, “Now we will see how quickly you can master a new Shout.”
I said, “Have I not proven that I can learn a new Word of Power and master a New Shout?”
As expected, Arngeir did not reply.
I then said, “This is not me proving anything is it? You and the other Masters are simply wanting to watch a Dragonborn in action. I am here to learn, not satisfy your curiosity!”
There was still no reply from Arngeir.
We approached two columns. In front of the columns was a closed gate. It was apparent the Greybeards had set the whole lot up after they summoned me.
Arngeir said, “Master Wulfgar will demonstrate Whirlwind Sprint. Then it will be your turn.”
Wulfgar stood between the columns. Borri used a Shout to open the gates.
Wulfgar then used Whirlwind Sprint to move forward through the gate quickly.
My Dovah laughed, “Hahaha! He sounds like his balls have been cut off!”
Just in case I was a complete idiot, Arngeir told me what to do, “Now it is your turn. Stand next to me. Master Borri will open the gate. Use Whirlwind Sprint to pass through the gate before it closes.”
“Thank you, Master Arngeir. I could have spent hours figuring that out!”
Borri Shouted, and the gate opened.
I Shouted and rushed through the gate.
I almost ran face-first into Wulfgar. Once again, my Thu’um was more powerful. I travelled further than the Greybeard had.
“Hey, I sounded like I am intact!” quipped my Dovah.
I had satisfied their curiosity, so the three other Greybeards headed off to suck on their beards or whatever else they do. I approached Arngeir with my temper bubbling away.
I stood before Arngeir, and he confirmed my suspicion by saying, “Your quick mastery of a new Thu’um is… astonishing! I’d heard the stories of the abilities of Dragonborn, but to see it for myself…”
“I have satisfied your curiosity and am not impressed with this circus!”
“You are now ready for your last trial.”
“What trial? Did Tiber Septim have to jump through hoops?”
Arngeir was determined not to deviate from his script. He would not answer my question or address my accusations.
He continued, “Retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, our founder, from his tomb in the ancient fane of Ustengrav.”
“So now you want an artefact of Windcaller, and a handy Dragonborn is here to get it for you. What does this prove?”
I growled, “I will do this when The Divines tell me to. If they ever do. I am not and never will be at the beck and call of The Greybeards!”
Some anger finally showed as Arngeir replied, “Remain true to the Way of the Voice, and you will return.”
“How am I supposed to remain true to something that has not even be explained to me? Can you please explain the basic philosophy of ‘The Way of the Voice?’ in easy to understand Tamrielic?”
“The Voice was a gift of the goddess Kynareth, at the dawn of time. She gave mortals the ability to speak as dragons do. Although the gift has often been misused, the only true use of the Voice is for the worship and glory of the gods. True mastery of the Voice can only be achieved when your inner spirit is in harmony with your outward actions. In the contemplation of the sky, Kynareth’s domain, and the practice of the Voice, we strive to achieve this balance.”
“So much for easy to understand Tamrielic. I will never believe that philosophy. So why help me learn the Voice?”
“The Dragonborn is an exception to all rules. The Dragon Blood is a gift of the gods. If we accept one gift, how can we deny the other? As Dragonborn, you have received the ability to Shout directly from Akatosh. We, therefore, seek to guide you on the proper use of your gift, which transcends the restrictions which bind other mortals.”
“To be frank, what The Greybeards view as the proper use of my gift is irrelevant. Do you agree I was placed on Nirn to do the bidding of The Divines?”
“Some believe the Dragonborn is sent into the world by the gods, at times of great need. We will speak more of that later, when you are ready.”
“You have no idea what is actaully happening do you? Tell me who I face and why I have appeared on Nirn?”
More silence from Arngeir.
“You are ignorant of what is occurring in the real world and have no right to judge when I am ready. Take Paarthurnax, for instance. If he is still alive and the head of your order, I should be speaking to him for he will know what I am facing. You do not!”
“You will know when you are ready when your Voice can open the path to him.”
“If The Divines let me know I should visit Paarthurnax, would you deny me the Shout to open the way? The Greybeards will not be the judge of when I am ready or when I should speak to Paarthurnax!”
I decided I had enough of The Greybeards for now. I walked past Arngeir and headed inside to collect Rigmor.
I sat down next to Rigmor and asked, “Are you ready to get out of here?”
“Yanno, that was quite something I watched.”
“The Greybeards want me to retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller from a place called Ustengrav.”
“Guardian, What about the New Order and Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“We shall spend the night in Vilemyr Inn and head for Riften the first thing in the morning. We shall retrieve the Horn when The Divines tell me it is important, not because these clowns have asked me to.”
“That sounds so wrong yanno…Windcaller, pfft.”
“Also known as The Great Bean. Pffffffffffft…”
Rigmor grabbed my hand and led me outside.
We stepped outside, and I said, “Hey, we can see Bleak Falls Barrow from here!”
“We can see most of Skyrim from here.”
“Can we just walk and enjoy the sights, and burning thighs and lungs, and not talk about Greybeards, New Order, dragons and prophecy?”
“I would like that.”
That is what we did. Rigmor did most of the talking, which is what I wanted. Slowly my irritation eased, and I calmed down.
As we neared the end of the seven thousand steps, my Dovah said, “While I think of myself as divided, I won’t have full control.”
“I know. But how? What do I do?”
“Accept what I am. Trust my instincts. I am not going to become one or the other. I am not going to be a Dovah who relishes battle and wants to dominate. I am not going to be a pacifist who avoids killing at all costs. To do what tasks The Divines give me, I will need to be a balance of both.”
“Does that mean I will have to remember every kill? That I can’t convince myself that the other me did it.”
“That is the stumbling block, isn’t it. A safeguard against the Dovah dominating. It would be good to speak to another Dragonborn to see if they had such a safeguard.”
“Would that safeguard survive a trauma? Such as your soulmate dying? Look what happened to Pelinal Whitestrake when his partner died.”
“His beloved was a young spearman, wasn’t he? The histories don’t mention his name.”
“A Demi-God falling in love with a mortal. History seems full of such liaisons and rarely do they end well.”
“I don’t think the safeguard of me recalling each kill would survive such a loss. I would become another Pelinal.”
“If that is the case, they should never have let Rigmor into my life.”
“I am starting to think the Divines hope that Rigmor and I will be each other’s anchor in whatever chaos is to come.”
“There must be more to her story than we know so far. Maybe the meeting with Baa’Ren-Dar will reveal what that is.”
We reached Ivarstead at around 5:45 PM. Rigmor said, “I could murder for a tank of ale right now!”
As we walked towards the Vilemyr Inn, I noticed Klimmek fishing from a pier. We made a quick detour to tell him we had delivered his supplies.
- Wulf: Good evening Klimmek.
- Klimmek: Quite a climb, wasn’t it?
- Rigmor: Yes, it was, and we enjoyed it very much.
- Wulf: We delivered your supplies to the Greybeards.
- Klimmek: Much appreciated. Here, take this for your troubles.
- Wulf: We do not need or expect payment Klimmek. It is not like we made a special trip. Keep your coins.
- Klimmek: Not many people refuse gold.
- Wulf: Not many people do charitable work for a bunch of monks who will never say thank you or even talk to you.
- Rigmor: We will leave you to your fishing, Klimmek.
- Klimmek: I don’t even know your names?
- Wulf: This is Rigmor and I am Wulf.
- Klimmek: May Kynareth bless you both.
- Wulf: The Divines bless you, Klimmek.
We retrieved the feed bags, and oats from the saddlebags on Hashire then stood quietly watching our horses as they munched away.
After they finished their meal, we made our way inside to enjoy ours.
The inn was quite crowded, and it was early in the evening, so me and Rigmor just relaxed. We took our time with our meal and chatted to the locals. Klimmek arrived and amused us with a wild tale about the one that got away.
It was getting close to 11:00 PM when Rigmor and me were sitting at the bar. I had been drinking a lot more than Rigmor. She looked at me with concern on her face.
She said, “I know you don’t want to talk about what happened. I know you will when you are ready to. But I have never seen you so agitated.”
“Is alcohol supposed to help? I don’t think it affects me at all.”
I called the barkeep over and purchased a bottle of Honningbrew Mead. I then skolled it in seconds and followed up with an impressive belch.
Rigmor shook her head then said, “I think it is more than just the Greybeards bothering you. Anyway, I am tired and need to sleep.”
Rigmor booked the room and dragged me there with a firm grip on my arm.
She put a seat next to the bed and pushed me onto it. She then lay on the bed with her sword beside her.
She said, “Guardian, it does not matter if The Greybeards did not help. We will figure it out together.”
I looked at her and smiled. Rigmor smiled back and was asleep within minutes.
I know not what time I fell asleep.