Rigmor of Bruma and Skyrim quests: A Mother’s Ring, The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.
At 6:20 AM, we started our ride to Riften from Ivarstead.
(Hello, are you there? No, I didn’t think so. I am now one. I am Dov, and I am a mortal.)
Something changed overnight. My thoughts are no longer divided. My Dov aggression and penchant for violence is as much me as my quieter, less confrontational self. It will be interesting to see if Rigmor notices anything. It will be terrifying to see how I deal with situations.
I rode through a large pack of wolves without a worry. It took Rigmor a few seconds to remember Kynareth’s blessing.
I offered, “I suppose we follow the signs that say Riften.”
We encountered another large pack of wolves.
Rigmor asked, “How can you tell when the blessing has worn off?”
“A wolf chewing on your leg or a bear ripping your arm off might be clues.”
“I think I will talk to Hashire from now on. He seems the smarter of you two.”
I was surprised to find a Shrine of Xarxes in Skyrim.
“Who is that?” asked Rigmor.
“An Aldmeri god called Xarxes. He is similar to Arkay in many ways, and some consider them to be the same god. He is said to be the scribe of Auri-El, the Mer version of Akatosh.”
“What is he the god of?”
“He keeps a journal that lists every Aldmeri accomplishment throughout time, no matter how minor or major. He urges the Altmer to keep an Everscriven Scroll, like a diary, which is to be a record of their life.”
“Like that journal you have started keeping?”
“Sometimes, I wake and look over to make sure my Guardian is there. You spent hours writing in a book the other night and a bit last night. I guessed it was a journal.”
“I don’t want my history to be blurred by lies and misinformation. And just maybe, if my journals are published, I might find them if my memory gets wiped again.”
“Well then Dragonborn, you had better do something interesting otherwise who will want to publish them?”
“Oh, he is so beautiful!” gushed Rigmor when a white deer walked past in the opposite direction.
The fog was thick, and it muffled the sound of Hashire’s hooves.
We rode past a stairway leading to a Dwemer ruin. It was hard to see in the fog, but Rigmor spotted it and said, “I have always wanted to explore a Dwemer ruin. I have done Ayleid and ancient Nord. But there are very few Dwemer ruins in Cyrodiil.”
‘Which is strange when you come to think of it. I wonder why?”
“Dunno. Maybe we can figure that out together one day.”
A lake with swans and other water birds caught Rigmor’s attention.
She asked me, “Wouldn’t you love a lakeside house one day.”
“That or a farm with a river through it flowing to the sea not far away.”
“Do you like fishing?”
“I like to catch and release. That is where you put fish you are not going to eat or sell back into the water. The thrill is the catch. It is like bringing up an unknown treasure, and you try and guess what kind of fish is on the line.”
“That sounds like a childhood memory.”
“It may well be a pastime I enjoyed as a child. Klimmek still enjoys the thrill of fishing.”
“And tall stories. But that’s part of it isn’t it?”
“Yes, the biggest fish ever is the one that just got away.”
The fog cleared not long before the southern entrance to Riften came into view.
As we hitched our horses, Rigmor said, “I hope Baa’Ren-Dar isn’t too mad I took so long to get here.”
“Sorry, Baa’Ren-Dar! I almost died then had to fight my way through a Thalmor fort then beat up a dragon and climbed The Throat of the World and met the Greybeards.”
“When you put it like that Guardian, he can get stuffed if he is mad!”
Two Riften Guards, not impressed with gate duty, glared at us as we approached.
The grumpiest one on the right demanded, “Hold and stand down. If you want to get into Riften, use the North Gate. This one’s closed.”
“Why. What is going on?”
“My orders are to tell the riff-raff to use the North Gate, that’s it.”
“Look at my armour, my circlet and my sword. I am a noble and not riff-raff.”
“We are here to meet with Emissary Bar’Ren-Dar of Pellitine.”
“Oh, I thought he was just an old Khajiit smuggling in some low lives. I humbly apologise. Let me get the gate for you.”
The Riften Guard opened the gate and bowed to Rigmor as she passed.
When the gate closed behind us, Rigmor laughed then said, “You do an excellent impersonation of a stick up the arse noble.”
“Thankyou Milady. Shall we proceed to the tavern and get royally shitfaced?”
“Lead on my good man.”
We were not far into the city when Rigmor said, “Hey! I heard of this place growing up. Riften is so cool.”
“It has a bit of a shady reputation, though.”
“I know you did not want to come here in the middle of the night.”
“You were pooped after climbing up and down that mountain. You needed the sleep.”
“Pooped? As in pooh?”
“No, it means tired.”
“You are not from Cyrodiil with your weird sayings. Those things tend to develop when you are a child and stay with you.
“Yeah, right. Pfft!”
“Haha, Guardian. See the canal? You don’t see that every day! How cool is that?”
“What canal? All I can see is a grass walkway. Oh, that is the canal. I wouldn’t want to fall in.”
“Damn, see that, an orphanage!”
“They will need plenty of them thanks to the civil war.”
“The New Order might add to the tally of orphans as well.”
“If I had the money, I would buy huge estates and hire teachers and guards and provide for hundreds of children so they can learn and be treated like they should. So far, we have not had to fight children like Sorella whose parents are forced into or choose banditry.”
“Having to kill a child would be terrible. I like your idea Guardian!”
“Now all I have to do is get stinking rich!”
“Can we check out the market? I heard they have all sorts of stuff.”
“I can’t see why not. We talk to Baa’Ren-Dar, hand over all the shit to him so he can worry about it, then spend the rest of the day browsing the market.”
I bowed and said, “I serve to live. I mean, I live to serve.”
Rigmor smiled then said, “Yanno, I met a woman once who was wearing the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. They are imported from Morrowind and available in many different colours. She brought hers from the Riften market.”
“Let me guess what colour dress Rigmor of Bruma would like? Umm… red maybe?”
“I still have that flower pressed against my chest.”
“I like your face. It is also a lovely shade of red.”
“Milady Rigmor, would you accompany me to yonder market and see if they have such dresses?”
Rigmor smiled, and we headed for the market. After a few steps, Rigmor came to a sudden halt.
I asked her, “Is there something wrong?”
“I’m so stupid, I forgot myself… I…”
“Forgot yourself? I don’t understand.”
“Guardian, look at me. Look at me! The last thing I want to do is make that dress look ugly. Come on, let’s go see Baa’Ren-Dar.”
Should I contradict her with some cheap platitude? No, I think to prove her wrong I need to show her. But how do I sneak away and purchase a dress, then hide it from her? Maybe Baa’Ren-Dar will provide that opportunity.
I could tell Rigmor was looking forward to meeting her friend. I was a bit nervous. What if he took charge of guarding Rigmor and I found myself redundant?
I must have stood in a trance with that thought for a few seconds when Rigmor said, “Stop daydreaming and come on!”
We entered and an elderly Khajiit, in a very traditional brown pilgrim robe, greeted Rigmor.
“Well met Rigmor! This one sees you have brought along a friend?”
Rigmor looked my way and told Baa’Ren-Dar, “This is my… my guardian angel, the Dragonborn.”
I was delighted to hear Baa’Ren-Dar spoke in the third person! Khajiit have a strong sense of clan. They concern themselves with the welfare and feeling of the whole, not the individual. When they say, ‘this one’, they are politely pointing out that personal thoughts and opinions are being expressed rather than those of the clan. Most Man and Mer scholars are ignorant of the reason and show disdain for Khajiit intelligence.
We sat down at an available table.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit hopes the Dragonborn is taking good care of you?
- Rigmor: Oh, he has his moments. Any news on my mother’s ring?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Actually, yes! A member of the Thieves Guild in Riften acquired it in the Grey Quarter Ghetto inside Windhelm. It was sold to him by a Dunmer who had been a kitchen servant at the Thalmor Embassy in Haafingar. Khajiit suggests you both lay low here while this one arranges for a meeting to loosen his tongue with coin.
- Rigmor: Baa’Ren-Dar, there’s something you need to see. Show him Guardian.
I handed Baa’Ren-Dar the map, journals and letters we had found in Fort Black. The emissary spent a few minutes reading them. Eventually, he spoke again, and there was worry in his voice.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: So, it has all come to pass! Khajiit had suspicions all along. The New Order of Alinor are well known in Aldmeri circles. They are a shadowy clandestine organisation of Altmer extremists. Rumours are just seeds on the wind, but here now is the hard evidence.
- Wulf: Such detailed planning and organisation could only be done with a considerable number of conspirators and lots of money. How did it get so large that it poses a threat to the Aldmeri Dominion and The Empire?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: What does Dragonborn think the answer to that conundrum might be?
- Wulf: I believe the Aldmeri Dominion know of the New Order’s plans and will let them run their course. The Dominion will hope damage is done to both Skyrim and The Empire. They will not allow the New Order to conquer the Imperial City but will intervene and then pretend to be our saviours. Plausible Deniability will be their diplomatic policy.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn should be an emissary!
- Rigmor: He says he couldn’t stand being knee-deep in, excuse the language, bullshit all the time.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one is used to the smell. Did anyone see you take these documents?
- Rigmor: Don’t worry, there’s no witnesses. We slew them all!
- Wulf: We had to kill dozens of people when retrieving those documents. Please tell me the slaughter was worth it.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Even if you left no witnesses, we must be cautious! We must keep this to ourselves until I investigate the revelation in these documents.
- Wulf: Even though Elsweyr is part of the Aldmeri Dominion, I do not question your desire to squash this New Order. But surely The Empire, the Emperor himself, needs to know about this immediately?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, Khajiit must cut short his stay in Skyrim and travel to Cyrodiil and Elsweyr immediately. There is nothing you two can do about this conspiracy until Khajiit has spoken to his contacts. This task will take all of this one’s skills and friends in high diplomatic circles to get to the bottom of it and to know what to do next.
- Wulf: How do we contact you?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: That is not easy, so Khajiit will find a way to contact you.
- Wulf: Do you want us to visit the Dunmer in Windhelm?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, but be very careful. Rigmor is now officially a wanted criminal by the Thalmor in Empire controlled areas.
- Wulf: She has been for some time, Baa’Ren-Dar! There is much that has happened to Rigmor because of that fact.
- Rigmor: Guardian, Baa’Ren-Dar has enough worries.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: If Rigmor has been in danger, this one would like to hear the tale.
- Wulf: Do you know of Angi?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, she nursed Rigmor back to health after she was hurt.
- Wulf: While escaping a Thalmor hunting party near Whiterun, Rigmor jumped from a cliff and was severely injured. Only the healing skills of a woman called Rose, my Restoration skills and Rigmor’s stubbiness saved her from death. Rigmor is still recovering. It was eerily similar to what Angi did for her.
- Rigmor: We went to Fort Black mainly to rescue Rose. The Thalmor had captured her and took her there for interrogation. She had already escaped by the time we arrived.
- Wulf: We recovered the artefacts, Rigmor’s heirlooms, while we were there.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one is pleased Rigmor was in such good hands and that Rose escaped. Thank you for telling me this Dragonborn.
- Rigmor: The reward is fifteen thousand gold coins! People tell me they have never seen such a high bounty.
- Wulf: That type of money has attracted some of the best bounty hunters. It seems excessive for what Rigmor tells me she has done.
Baa’Ren-Dar looked at Rigmor, and his voice was grim.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: My child, they have sent none other than their best Thalmor General to Skyrim to track you down! That is why I came here in person to warn you.
- Wulf: Would it be Tilar Aedriath? His name is all over the New Order documents that I have read.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, Dragonborn, it is Tilar Aedriath. He has at his disposal an elite force of a hundred troops, which are setting up camps and checkpoints as we speak. So, you will need to avoid them and travel diligently.
- Wulf: What about the regular Thalmor patrols in Skyrim? We encountered one that seemed ignorant of Rigmor’s wanted status?
- Rigmor: Perhaps the New Order only trusts their troops with my capture?
- Wulf: That is a logical possibility.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Rigmor, Aedriath will pursue you with extreme prejudice, and when they find out what has happened at Fort Black, he will stop at nothing to find you.
- Wulf: Fort Black was several days ago. He would be aware by now.
- Rigmor: But why, Baa’Ren-Dar? OK, I took revenge on those that harmed my family, but why send these men? Why is there such a large reward? Why give me such special attention?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: They fear you, Rigmor. They fear you because of who your father was.
- Rigmor: My father is dead! They got their revenge. They would do well to leave me be if they know what’s good for them!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: My dear, sweet child! Have you not seen past the venire of subterfuge? You think the Thalmor would extradite your father and execute him for revenge? To know you’re enemy you must first walk in their shoes.
Rigmor was confused, and she had every right to be. Baa’Ren-Dar is knee-deep in the bullshit, the political games and machinations of governments.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Has your hatred of the Thalmor blinded you from the truth?
- Rigmor: I… I don’t understand! What…?”
- Wulf: Baa’Ren-Dar! Dat vaba baso vakovo kestu iko jer raba baqu thzina. (It is easy to appear wise after you have found the truth.) Rigmor is not blinded from the truth for it is yet to be shown to her!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: The Dragonborn is correct, and this one apologises for his manners.
- Rigmor: Please, Baa’Ren-Dar, explain why they have done this to my family, my father.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Your father’s crest on the battlefield was worth five thousand men. Just the mention of the ‘Sons of Talos’ on the field would ensure disarray and even cause whole battalions to rout.
- Wulf: The Sons of Talos! That means you are Rigmor Ragnarsdottir, and that explains an awful lot!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: It was not revenge, Rigmor. They needed your father out of the picture for good, or this whole plot would be for nought.
- Wulf: It would not just be the New Order who would have desired this. A second Great War is almost inevitable. The Thalmor would want Ragnar removed. He would be a rallying point, much like Tiber Septim and other heroes of the Nords. Now they are wary of his daughter.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Rigmor, after Bruma they now fear you and what you might become.
- Rigmor: Fear me? Why would they do that? I’m just a young girl!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: A young girl who single handed slew a full company of Thalmor soldiers.
- Wulf: A WHOLE COMPANY! I was thinking a platoon maybe.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Indeed Dragonborn, such a feat is not to be ignored. Especially when the young girl in question was raised, taught and trained by her father, the ‘Beast of Hammerfell’.
- Wulf: Is Rigmor on that list?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, Rigmor is one of the ‘top-level’ targets.
- Wulf: We assume the other two are General Tullius and Jarl Elisif if the New Order wish to frame the Stormcloaks. To think Rigmor is given the same strategic value, the same target on her back, as those two is difficult to accept calmly.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit is very happy Rigmor has the Dragonborn to help keep her from harm.
Rigmor looked at me then said, “Yeah, I know right!”
I quickly diverted my eyes from what I saw in Rigmor’s.
Rigmor is putting great faith in me, but I am but one man. My Dragon Blood and Dragon Soul will not stop an arrow piercing my heart, and if I were cornered by half a dozen Sword-Masters, I would perish. Alduin or another dragon might render me in half. Rigmor needs more than this Dragonborn to keep her safe!
- Wulf: Rigmor’s demise would not create suspicion and therefore not endanger the New Order’s plans.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: That is why this one surmises the arrival of Tilar Aedriath to Skyrim indicates my child is first on the list to be pursued and eliminated.
- Wulf: Rigmor, I am sorry that we speak of you with such an apparent lack of empathy. That is not the case. We are simply reverting to the impersonal talk used in war and politics.
- Rigmor: I… I’m sorry, I need to be by myself for a while. I need some time to take this all in.
I am discovering how the real me works. To speak of Rigmor with such dispassion for even a moment would not have been possible yesterday. My Dovah would have uttered such words in my head, but they would never have left my lips.
Rigmor walked over to the bar, sat on a stool and ordered a mead. The first mead was quickly followed by a second. She seemed content to sip it while she thought.
My urge to go and comfort her was interrupted by Baa’Ren-Dar, who said, “Let her be for now Dragonborn. She will be fine.”
“Rigmor has been hiding her demons from me, Baa’Ren-Dar. I have told her I could help fight them if she introduces me to them. But that is fair, for she does not know mine.”
“To tell is to relive the horror. Rigmor will tell you then you may wish to have remained ignorant.”
I was trying to concentrate on Baa’Ren-Dar, but my eyes kept wandering over to Rigmor.
Baa’Ren-Dar received my full attention when he said, “It gladdens my heart to know the premonition was right.”
“A premonition? Let me guess, a seer of Azura?”
“This one has travelled these provinces for many years. As provincial emissary, my duty is to ensure every angle is covered. It was during an annual ball this one was approached by the prominent soothsayer, Kaza’Zhid from Corinthe. That one would have kittens if referred to as a seer!”
“Fancy names do not change how foresight works. Azura has shown her presence several times already. But I digress, what is this premonition?”
“That one told Khajiit that his Nordling child was destined for greatness. That Rigmor would meet a ‘guardian angel’ sent by the gods. ‘A Dragonborn shall hail from Helgen on the day of the dragons.’
“Well that is pretty precise and confirms Lady Azura knew of where and when I would be introduced to Nirn. I have been sent by The Divines to do their bidding. They directed me to Rigmor. So, the premonition is correct. The gods sent me. I am also entangled in a prophecy for I am destined to fight and defeat the World Eater. Rigmor has aided me in the first steps of that task as I have aided her.”
“I have ears and eyes in Skyrim and know of this. Seers have also warned those that travel the Moonpaths of Tamriel.”
“No doubt Ri’saad and his caravans are your eyes and ears. He hinted he knew what I faced. Azura would let her people know for she loves you.”
“Khajiit are impressed by your compassion.”
“I like to think it is one of the reasons Alkosh chose me to be Dragonborn.”
Please take care of Rigmor, Dragonborn. These are dark days, and you will need to keep one step ahead. Aedriath is a very dangerous foe, a master of deception. Do not underestimate him.”
“I will do my best Baa’Ren-Dar. The Divines did not set me down on Nirn without some skills. However, I am yet to realise the full potential of a Dragonborn. Still, Rigmor and me have proven to be both formidable and very robust. We work together extremely well and are our sum is greater than its parts.”
“This one wishes to keep Rigmor from harm and will pay good coin to make it so.”
“You insult me, Baa’Ren-Dar! I have told you I was sent by The Divines to aid Rigmor. Why would I accept coin like a common sell-sword to do my sacred duty?”
“This one knew your answer before you replied. Khajiit wished to measure your response. It is not just because your gods want you to protect Rigmor. A father can tell when a suitor feigns disinterest in his child.”
“I would hate to play Chess against you!”
“Card games for money are where such skills excel.”
“May I ask a favour, Baa’Ren-Dar?”
“I am curious as what this may entail!”
“I never let Rigmor out of my sight, but I need to do something out of hers.”
“This one advises red or none at all.”
“Rigmor has mentioned the dresses from Morrowind?”
“Many times, and always with hints of Riften market. Rigmor thinks this one would know what to buy a young Nordling. That is not an area of Khajiit’s expertise.”
“I will be as quick as I can.”
“If Rigmor asks, I will inform her you had an urgent call of nature.”
I rushed outside and tried several Dunmer traders before finding one who not only stocked the dresses, but had red ones in various sizes.
The stallholder laughed as I mentally measured Rigmor in my head and used my hands to gauge the right size garment. I finally decided on the dress I thought would fit.
I rushed through the South Gate and carefully placed the dress in Hashire’s box.
I then rushed back to Baa’Ren-Dar.
Rigmor seemed to be stuck on her second pint and was staring at nothing in particular.
“Has Rigmor moved since I left?” I asked Baa’Ren-Dar.
“Not at all. Dragonborn must have noticed she stares into eternity when in deep thought.”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I have.”
“Khajiit advises you try and get well rested before travelling to Windhelm.”
“We will do what we can Baa’Ren-Dar, but the Bounty Hunters and Thalmor will have snitches hoping to earn a few coins. A moving target is harder to hit. When we reach Windhelm, where do we find the Dunmer and what is his name?”
“His name is Tendril Sethri. Try the New Gnisis Cornerclub in the Gray Quarter.”
“I have a feeling I will not like Windhelm much.”
“This one knows neither of you will.”
“Good luck on your travels Baa’Ren-Dar. Be assured that I would give my life for Rigmor and will do my best to keep her safe.”
“Of that, Khajiit has no doubt. But he fears his child may do the same for you. Azura bless you.”
“Blessing of The Divines to you.”
I watched the formidable Khajiit exit. He would make a better ruler than 99.9% of those that currently sit upon the thrones.
I counted to one hundred and twenty as fairly as I could. One second each increment. Well, I might have done the last twenty or so a bit quick. I then approached Rigmor, who seemed determined to make her second mead die of advanced age.
“Hi Rigmor, Baa’Ren-Dar has left. Are you OK?”
“Yeah, I think I’m good.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar certainly impressed me. He is wise, intelligent and extremely fond of his ‘child’.”
“You are smart, Guardian. You should be able to figure out why he calls me his child.”
“I can guess, but you will tell me the whole story when you are ready.”
“He knows a lot of important people. His estate in Torval is huge. Dignitaries like him because of his mystic friend.”
“People would like him for the person he is. Access to a ‘soothsayer’ is just icing on the cake.”
“There is no cake. It is a maxim.”
“What do maxim’s taste like?”
“You are pulling my leg, aren’t you?”
“I have one hand on my mug and the other on the bar. How can I be pulling your leg?”
‘OK, I surrender, you win!”
“Where are we going now?”
“Let’s ride to Windhelm and see what this ‘Sethri’ knows about your mother’s ring.”
I turned around, and the fattest Argonian I have ever met demanded, “Step away from the girl, friend!”
There were two Argonian mages behind him trying very hard to look menacing.
I laughed and replied, “Do we know each other? Sorry, I am terrible with names. Let me think. Um… now I remember. Glad to see you again, I Lost My Balls.”
The moron didn’t even have a weapon and tried to punch me!
I drew my sword and hit him on the top of his head with the pommel.
I then cut his throat.
His mage friends stepped back and prepared to cast spells. I decided the one on the right looked more menacing.
I used Whirlwind Sprint then thrust my sword into his belly.
The other mage had his hands full with Rigmor and a young Argonian mage who had set her spirit wolf onto him. He did not last long.
I searched the bodies.
On I Lost My Ball’s corpse was Rigmor’s wanted poster.
I asked Rigmor, “Are you OK?”
“Yeah! I’m good.”
“More bounty hunters. I wonder how many we will have to slaughter?”
“What do we do now?”
“Let’s leave by the South Gate and ride the horses around the perimeter of Riften till we reach the road to Windhelm. Once we have talked to Sethri, we will decide our next step.”
‘OK, let’s go”
“Let me thank our helper first.”
I said to the mage, “Thank you for your assistance. What is your name?”
“Nubaree. I am travelling to Winterhold to join the College and stopped here for a meal.”
“Well Nubaree, I am sure they will welcome a talented mage such as yourself.”
“There are rumours, and I saw what you just did. Are you the Dragonborn?”
“Yes, and I should not have used that Shout. It is not the best way to keep a low profile.”
“There was a lot of Magicka so I doubt anybody else would recognise a Shout was used.”
“I thank you again, Nubaree. We must leave before more of these lowlifes turn up.”
We exited the South Gate as sunshine battled with fog for domination of the air.
Rigmor seems to have remarkable eyesight at times. As we stood soaking in the natural warmth, she pointed then suddenly exclaimed, “Over there, Guardian. I want to sit by the lake!”
She dashed off, and I ran to keep up.
The fog was already claiming back its territory as I chased Rigmor. I thought she was going to sit on the grassy bank, but to my surprise, she had spotted a wooden bench.
I sat beside Rigmor and took in the view. The fog was revelling in its latest victory.
I turned to Rigmor and asked, “Do you want to talk about something in particular?”
“Let’s just chat.”
“OK. Can you tell me about you and Baa’Ren-Dar?”
“As I told you at Angi’s, I spent some time as a slave. Baa’Ren-Dar rescued me and smuggled me out of Valenwood. I spent a few years in Elsweyr before heading for Bruma then ending up here.”
“Are you ready to talk about your time as a slave?”
“Not now Guardian. I promise I will eventually tell you about it, but that will not be easy.”
“I understand. Baa’Ren-Dar says talking about it will be like reliving it.”
“What else did you two discuss about me?”
“Only the usual things a protective father would ask of a huge barbarian travelling the countryside with his daughter.”
“Well, a tiny bit of that but he did tell me something that will blow your socks off!”
“I am wearing three pairs inside excellent boots. I doubt even Unrelenting Force will blow them off.”
“Maxim! It is a maxim!”
“You are such an easy target today, Guardian.”
“Yeah, well, there may be a reason for that.”
“So, what did Baa’Ren-Dar say that would leave me sockless?”
“His ‘soothsayer’ friend, Kaza’Zhid, told him that a ‘Guardian Angel’ in the form of a Dragonborn would be sent to keep his Nordling child safe.”
“You said The Divines led you to me. It seems you and Azura agree on that. I now understand why the Thalmor are hunting me, but why would gods care about me?”
“The seer also said you are destined for greatness.”
“What? I am an eighteen-year-old Nord woman who can swing a sword, sometimes hit things with an arrow and can swill ale and mead like a champion. How can that be turned into ‘greatness’?”
“What Azura tells her seers is accurate. You may be entangled in a prophecy, or there is simply a random sequence of events, but if Azura says you are destined for greatness then she has seen it.”
“If that is predetermined, then what do we have to worry about?”
“It is a possibility, not a certainty. Azura’s seers have foresight. They have visions of things that hardly ever make sense to them. They have no context for these visions and can’t even tell if they are past, present or future.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar explained this to me once. The seers speak to Azura, and she gathers all the visions together. Because Azura has access to many of them and she is a god, they make sense to her.”
“She then tells particular seers what she wants them to know.”
“Like she warned some Dunmer about Red Mountain!”
“Precisely. But even as a god she can only tell her seers probable outcomes. She may be surer about some things coming to pass than others but can never be one hundred per cent sure. Premonitions are never worded as absolutes.”
“So, when Azura says I am destined for greatness, that may not happen?”
“You could have died when you leapt off that cliff or when you were injured in Bruma. There are an infinite number of possibilities that stem from every single event on Nirn.”
“That is getting a bit gobblygook for me, Guardian.”
I picked up a pebble and threw it high in the air. It landed in the lake and concentric ripples spread from its point of impact.
I said to Rigmor, “Imagine when that pebble hit the water was an event. It could be anything such as you choosing to blink or not to blink, for instance. Or even blink a little later.”
“OK, so far. Keep going.”
I picked up another pebble and threw it up in the air. It landed in the water and concentric ripples spread from its point of impact.
“If that pebble was the same size and shape as the first. And I threw it in the air to exactly the same height as the first. And it landed in exactly the same place on the lake’s surface as the first. The ripples would not be the same as those created by the first pebble. There would be slight variations that are not obvious to us that would make the size, number and duration of the ripples different. All we could predict is that a pebble landing would create ripples and their approximate size and shape.”
“I must have been hit in the head because that makes sense.”
“There are infinite outcomes generated by each action. Some are more probably than others. Logically we can predict a pebble thrown up in the air and landing in a lake will make ripples most of the time. What if a bird saw and liked the pebble then grabbed it mid-flight? It would never make the predicted ripples.”
“So, my greatness is predicted but not guaranteed, as you said before.”
“Yes. I could fail as your Guardian, and you die because of my failure. Your chance at greatness gone.”
“I am sorry. I am finding it hard to control the flow from brain to mouth today. I am saying things I think when they should remain unsaid.”
“It is not that you said I might die. I know there is that chance! But it seems you are afraid of failing.”
“And that is a subject for another day.”
“You seem different today. I dunno, quicker to respond and more spontaneous perhaps?”
“That is because my mortal me and Dovah me are no longer discussing and arguing. I have accepted what I am and so there is no longer a need for the artificial division.”
“If I behaved like a dragon all the time, it would compromise my ability to do the Divine assigned tasks. If I am too empathetic and constantly fret over possible consequences of my actions that would also compromise my ability to do those Divine tasks. When I awoke in that carriage, the two sides, mortal and dragon, seemed like opposites. Until this morning, they were like two individuals sharing the same body. I would often have an internal debate before choosing a course of action. That was dangerous and could have cost me dearly when I picked up Meridia’s Beacon.”
‘You warned me not to touch it. You said she might try and speak to me. But you also believe in the power of free will. So why was it dangerous to me? Why did your condition endanger you?”
“Yes, you have free will, but Daedric Princes are good at reading your mind then whispering exactly the right thing to get your loyalty or damage you mentally. Plus, them crawling around in your head is not exactly a pleasant experience.”
“So, why were you in danger?”
“If Meridia discovered I was Dragonborn, therefore a celestial son of her enemy, Lord Akatosh, she would have tried her hardest to recruit or harm me. She might even have access to my lost memories and promised them as a reward for doing her bidding. She could have used my insecurities as a weapon.”
“You stopped her recognising who you are?”
“Only because my Dovah half warned me in time. I knew how to protect myself from such intrusions, but my analytical self would have been too slow to recognise the danger and act.”
“What happens now?”
“I will trust my instincts which arise from a combination of both dragon and mortal. I had to accept what I am and believe I will make the right decisions. There is no room for second-guessing or uncertainty. I was a bit arrogant and self-assured before. Now I will anger people with the tremendous self-belief I now possess. I am not infallible, but I must believe I will make the right decisions most of the time.”
“Will I still see the Dovah in your eyes?”
“Yes, when the situation calls for it. Just like the young woman sitting next to me. She called on something inside her. This ‘something’ enabled her to wade through the embassy slaughtering all who stood before her. That ‘something’ is there, but you do not talk to it. You just bring it to the fore when necessary.”
“It was like watching a different young woman with a sword cutting down the Thalmor. It did not matter if the being in front of me was soldier, mage, cook or bartender. They were the ones who hurt my family and me so slaughtering them was justified. I killed innocents amongst the guilty, but my rage needed an outlet.”
“Yet you left the two servants alone when we stormed Fort Black.”
“Because my rage was not with me.”
“Think of my Dovah like your rage, and you will understand.”
“Despite the long hours in the saddle and eating meals together, this is the first real in-depth discussion we have had.”
“And I am not going to waste the opportunity. So Rigmor, why did you shave your hair?”
“Haha, when I first came of age, and left Elsweyr, the first thing I wanted to do was take revenge on the Thalmor that kept us as hostages. Shaving my head was a symbol of renewal.”
“I know your father was arrested for war crimes.”
“Yes, The Empire let them arrest him on trumped-up charges.”
“What do you know of his time soldiering?”
“He was a brigade commander, led the Nord volunteers against the Dominion during the Great War.”
“I know of his exploits. You must be very proud of him.”
“Hell yeah! He was decorated by Titus Mede II himself and fought under General Jonna. After the Great War he went to Hammerfell and helped the Redguard take on the Dominion. After the fighting stopped, he met my mom, settled in Bruma, and they had me. Then after many years had passed, they came after him. He sacrificed himself to save my mom and me, well, that is what he thought. But they betrayed us!”
“Both the Dominion and The Empire betrayed your family.”
“Yes, I will never forgive The Empire.”
“I am sure Titus Mede II has difficulty forgiving himself for many things. But others in The Empire are toadies. For instance, scholars in the Imperial Library did not have to edit the histories to fit in with Dominion accusations. People like that need to be made accountable if The Empire ever shrugs off the Dominion threat.”
“Skyrim is such a beautiful place. I am glad I came here to see it for myself.”
“You point things out I would never have noticed. You then tell me why you find them fascinating or beautiful. Then I start to notice them and your words form in my mind, and I smile.”
Rigmor gave me another of those knowing smiles. Is this how a fish feels when hooked?
I said to her, “I get the feeling you are struggling with all this.”
“I try to put on a brave face, but really… deep down… I’m feeling a little scared right now. It’s all a bit much sometimes.”
“You had a lot to deal with already. Now this ‘list’ and the Thalmor General. That is a lot more strife thrown your way.”
“I never asked for this! Sometimes I find it hard to imagine I was once a little girl, you know… I was just a normal happy little girl playing with all the other kids… then… They took it all away! I… I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t know what to do…”
“Armed soldiers came to take your father away. What could you, as a young girl, have done in that situation? Nothing is the answer!”
“My mom told me it would be OK,… but it wasn’t OK. They took her and… I was…”
“What is your mom’s name?”
“Sigunn! Her name is Sigunn.”
“We will try our hardest to find her. Are you ready to go now?”
Rigmor stood and said, “Yeah! I think I’m ready.”
“What do you know of the countryside between here and Windhelm?”
“There are hot springs, Dragonborn! Surrounded by, yanno, giants and mammoths and stuff. Maybe we can stop there, and I can see if they are as good as the spa in Breezehome?”
“I am in no rush to visit Windhelm, so why not stop for a while.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar once told me he detests the place. That they have taken all the prejudices of the Nords and crammed them into one city.”
“So, what is it to be, Guardian or Dragonborn?”
“Guardian, Dragonborn…pfft, whatever.”
We mounted our horses at about 3:30 PM.
We rode around the outskirts of Riften and joined the road we wanted, which led to the North Gates, just before 4:00 PM.
We approached an old fort. I said to Rigmor, “It looks to be infested with bandits. How well can Ren jump?”
“Very well. It is something we both enjoy doing.”
“Then let us gallop, jump over the barriers and keep going. The less time we spend chopping up bandits, the more time you can soak in the hot springs.”
Rigmor urged Ben into a gallop. I let Hashire loose, and we passed them just before we both jumped the first barriers.
Bandits scrambled, and some fired a few arrows, but they knew it was useless to pursue.
We jumped the last barrier then galloped out of bow range.
“That was fun!” exclaimed Rigmor.
We rode into a small village, and Rigmor asked, “What is this place. Some kind of mining town?”
I looked at my map, then replied, “It is called Shor’s Stone.”
“It is cute!”
‘A village is cute?”
The battle between sunshine and fog continued as we rode. One minute we would be bathing in the warm sun, and the next in fog and shadows.
We witnessed the ending of a civil war skirmish. It seemed a larger Stormcloak force had ambushed an Imperial platoon.
As we slowly weaved through the dead, the Stormcloaks were taunting and harassing the last Legionnaire standing.
He bravely stood his ground as they peppered him with arrows and repeated their mindless slogan’s such as, ‘Skyrim is for the Nords!’ and ‘For the true High King!’.
Eventually they descended on the young soldier like a pack of feral dogs bringing down a defenceless victim. They hacked into him with savagery, and my rage grew.
I halted in front of the fallen soldier. One of the Stormcloaks came up to challenge me. When he looked into my eyes, he suddenly decided that was not wise. He joined the other animals boasting of their kills and replaying them in detail for their comrades as they walked away from the carnage.
I was tempted to leap off Hashire and see if the deceased soldier had an amulet of Talos or one of the other Divines around his neck. But I knew that would have been the trigger. I would slaughter every Stormcloak within reach, so their bodies lay amongst the Imperials.
I urged Hashire forward and swore to myself I will stop this civil war and bring Ulfric to justice whether The Divines want me to or not.
Just past the bloodied bodies of men were the bloodied bodies of animals. They were more victims of the civil war, and the savagery unleashed.
We often encountered small parties of travellers on the roads. Sometimes they looked like they could defend themselves. Other times they looked like victims waiting for bandits to stumble on them.
The sun was low on the horizon when we came upon the volcanic pools. Several Giants and their encampments could be seen from the road.
We found the place where people bathed in the hot springs.
We tethered the horses and walked into the small camp.
Somebody else must have recently left as a fire was burning.
I said to Rigmor, “This will be worth the time if it helps with your aches and pains.”
“The water looks a bit darker than the spa in Breezehome.”
“Might be a different mineral content. Go ahead and take your time. I will watch your things.”
“Yeah, right! Make sure they’re the only things you are watching!”
“I am going to sit on this bench. If you bath just beyond those reeds in front of you, I will not be able to see a thing.”
“OK then, turn around while I undress.”
I faced away from the hot springs as Rigmor removed her gear and placed it in a chest. I assumed the chest was to protect things from roaming bears.
After a minute or two, Rigmor called said, “You can turn around now.”
I did so, and Rigmor was strolling, with a deliberate wiggle of her hips, into the water.
“I hope you are keeping a good watch on my things, Dragonborn!”
Rigmor giggled as she disappeared behind the reeds.
I could hear Rigmor splashing and having a seemingly enjoyable bath. Meantime I was busy thinking of the most unerotic things my mind could conjure. The thought of Naked Hagraven and female Sloads helped my trousers feel far less tight.
After about fifteen minutes, Rigmor said, “Coming out now!”
I quickly turned my head and looked away.
As Rigmor dried and dressed, she said, “Like the spa, that definitely helped with the pain in my back… yanno, the scars.”
“What scars? I didn’t notice any scars as you walked into the water.”
‘Guilty as charged.”
I refused to turn my head till Rigmor sat beside me.
I remarked, “This is quite a nice spot.”
“I think the giants and mammoths might deter the tourists.”
“We were shocked when Rose first exposed your scars.”
“Yeah! They are quite something. Courtesy of my stay in Haven.”
“I notice you always sleep on your side.”
“Sometimes, during the day, they can play up. But if I lie on my back at night, the pain will wake me.”
“I watched Rose rub ointment and oils on them. I could see how deep the scars are and that they had been inflicted over several beatings. The sight of them made me determined to help you but not out of pity. I wanted you to get better so you could tell me your story and we could seek revenge for such barbarity. As I have got to know you, the rage I feel towards the perpetrators had grown.”
‘I survived those beatings, the injuries that Angi nursed and those you and Rose nursed. I must have someone looking after me. A guardian angel or something.”
“It is more than a coincidence that people who could help found you. But you survived those beatings without a Rose or an Angi or a Guardian. I just think you were too stubborn to die.”
“Me, stubborn? Pfft, yeah, right!”
“I know you will eventually tell me who inflicted them and why. For now, let us continue looking for your mom.”
“Mom used to travel to the Imperial City sometimes to get the things we didn’t have in Bruma. I would beg her to take me with her so I could get out of my sword and combat training. She just couldn’t say no to me and would make up any old rubbish excuse, and my father would lap it up.”
“I can imagine you both had the poor man well and truly under your control.”
“Hahahaha! He knew she was lying and would give us ‘that look’ haha! But he loved her so much…as you said, she had him in the palm of her hand.”
I was trying to be the big supportive Guardian when I actually felt like holding Rigmor and promising all would be alright. But that was a lie. How could it be alright after the loss of family? A loving family is what the majority of mortals, no matter their species, strive to achieve. The most precious of things was ripped away from Rigmor! Internally I wept.
Rigmor continued, “Mom and I would go shopping and listen to the bards and minstrels playing in the street. Sometimes I would just go sit in the Library and read everything I could get my hands on for hours and hours ‘til mom came and got me.”
“Such precious and beautiful memories. Nobody can take those from you.”
Well, that was a lie. The Divines can do so at their whim.
Rigmor said, “It was warmer than Bruma so we would take off our heavy coats for once. I remember, I would look up and let the sunshine warm my face!”
“That sounds wonderful!”
“I am rattling on about my childhood. I did a bit of that outside Riften as well. I am sorry.”
“I want to hear about your family, your dreams, your childhood. They comfort me. Sort of a substitute for my own in some ways. Please, never fear you are insensitive!”
“We had better get moving, Guardian.”
“Yes, I told Baa’Ren-Dar we would have to keep moving to keep ahead of the hunters.”
I heard footsteps approaching, quickly stood and turned around. I was ready to draw my sword when I noticed an Orsimer was by himself. I left my sword in its scabbard.
He said, “Hello! Hey there, I seem a bit lost. I wonder if you could help me?”
I used my dragon-sight but could not see anybody else nearby. But there was a large hill they might be hiding behind.
“What seems to be the problem?”
“Haha, well this is a bit embarrassing. I seem to have lost my way and was hoping to bump into someone. Are you hunting and fishing out here in these parts? Of just travelling through?”
“Yes, we are hunting Thalmor, bounty hunters, mercenaries. That sort of thing.”
The Orsimer was looking nervous.
I said, “I am Wulf, the Dragonborn. The young lady is Rigmor of Bruma.”
“Yeah, I thought as much.”
“The others must hate you. Sending you here to die first.”
He yelled, “IT’S HER BOYS! COME ON. WE’RE GONNA BE RICH!”
“No, just dead.”
I killed the idiot before his hand reached the handle of his weapon.
I could see about a half dozen or more Orsimer heading our way.
I hit them with a couple of Unrelenting Force Shouts just to bunch them up.
I said to Rigmor, “Stay behind me till I cast a spell.”
Rigmor did as I asked, and I prepared a Mayhem spell. It is a complex spell that requires a complicated incantation in parallel with precise hand movements.
The bounty hunters must have thought we were easy prey as they got closer. Then I released the spell.
The bounty hunters started trying to kill each other.
“What is happening?” asked Rigmor.
“They are frenzied and will attack anything within eyesight, including each other. Why should we continuously risk our lives cutting slime down in fair combat? Just kill the bastards!”
We slaughtered them all in less than two minutes.
I searched the corpses and found wanted posters on several of them.
I asked Rigmor, “Are you OK?”
“Guardian, I saw that look on your face when you told me to ‘kill the bastards’.”
“You mean you saw the Dovah in my eyes. Yes, after listening part of your story, my rage needed an outlet. These morons provided it.”
“That spell is…”
“Unethical? Evil? I agree. It is a form of mind control. Nobody should ever be subjected to mind control.”
“Then why did you use it?”
“I am still finding a balance. I justified using it by saying it reduced the risk to us. There wasn’t much risk. It was a bad choice. In the future, there will have to be a far more pressing reason for me to use it than reducing personal risk. I will learn from what I regret.”
“Come my Dragonborn. Let’s go visit the racists.”
The fairly short ride to Windhelm was uneventful. The only thing of note was a sizeable Stormcloak camp. It seemed to be a major staging area.
Even before we reached the stables, I didn’t like Windhelm.
We paid a stable boy to feed and groom our horses. Rigmor said, “Guardian, please don’t overreact to what you might see and hear. Now is not the time to try and fix what is broken with Skyrim.”
“I will be on my best behaviour.”
“That is what concerns me.”
We passed many guards on the way to the front entrance. Unlike other Holds, they were all Nords.
Rigmor commented, “All the Imperials have to do is throw soap at the walls, and they will dissolve. What a dump!”
We entered Windhelm and were immediately witness to pure, mindless racism. Two Nords were harassing a Dunmer woman.
- Nord One: You come here where you’re not wanted, you eat our food, you pollute our city with your stink, and you refuse to help the Stormcloaks.
- Dunmer: But we haven’t taken a side because it is not our fight.
- Nord Two: Hey, maybe the reason these grey-skins don’t help in the war is because they’re Imperial spies!
- Dunmer: Imperial spies? You can’t be serious!
- Nord One: Maybe we’ll visit you tonight, little spy. We got ways of finding out what you really are.
Rigmor grabbed my arm, but there was no way I could stand by and let this continue. I walked up to the trio, and the Dunmer woman eyed me with suspicion.
- Dunmer: Another one. Do you hate the Dark Elves? Are you also here to bully and tell us to leave?
- Wulf: No, I do not hate your people. What I do hate is ignorant, unwashed idiots who think their stink comes from somewhere else.
- Dunmer: You’ve come to the wrong city, then. Windhelm is a haven of prejudice and narrow thinking, unworthy of one such as you.
- Nord One: Hey, you. Are you a Dark Elf Lover?
- Wulf: The Companions in Whiterun have not taken sides. Either has the College of Winterhold or The Vigilants of Stendarr. So, using your logic, they are all spies as well! Why don’t you stand outside Jorvaskr and harass them?
- Nord One: Get out of our city, you filthy piece of trash!
- Wulf: You are wearing neither a guard uniform or that of the Stormcloaks. I guess you are too cowardly to wear either. Your attitude stinks almost as much as the rest of you.
- Nord One: Don’t like it? Too bad. Windhelm is our city. Ours!
- Wulf: Why don’t you try and make me leave?
- Nord One: Don’t think I can take you? One hundred septims say I can punch you back to where you came from.
- Wulf: You want to have a fistfight? Only if you promise not to cry when you lose.
- Nord One: All right. Fists only and none of that magic stuff, either. Let’s go!
I ducked and weaved, and the Nord got more and more frustrated when he could not land a single blow.
Rigmor said, “Dragonborn, we don’t want trouble!”
I punched the Nord in the nose and then his stomach. He doubled over.
While he was recovering, I asked the Dunmer woman “I am Wulf, and the young lady is Rigmor. May I know your name?”
“Pleased to meet you Wulf and Rigmor. I am Suvaris. Did I hear correctly?”
‘Yes. I am the Dragonborn but am trying to keep that a bit of a secret for now. I suggest you make yourself scarce while I finish my transaction with our Nord friend.”
Suvaris walked swiftly away. I asked the second Nord, “What are your names?”
“I am Angrenor, and that is Rolff Stone-Fist. You are in big trouble picking on the brother of Galmar!”
“And who is Galmar?”
“Galmar Stone-Fist is Ulfric’s Housecarl and second in command of the Stormcloaks.”
Rolff finally made it to his feet then offered his coin purse to pay the wager.
I stood over him, and my Dovah was at the fore. Rolff cringed as I said to him, “Keep your coins but listen to me. Ulfric and your brother are going to want me to join their side in the war. What do you think they would think of you trying to beat up the Dragonborn? I am going to be visiting Windhelm quite a lot and will be checking up on Suvaris. If I find anything has happened to her, or that harassment has continued, I will come looking for both of you. Understood?”
Rolff nodded. I looked at Angrenor, and he nodded as well.
“Which way to the Grey Quarter?”
Rolff pointed, and we walked away.
Halfway along a rat-infested alleyway Rigmor apologised, “Sorry I called you Dragonborn. We really should keep that quiet.”
“The less attention we attract, the better. I don’t think the two buffoons will say anything and Suvaris won’t so no harm done. Dragonborn or Guardian in private. Guardian or Wulf in public. I think that is the safest.”
A tattered banner let us know we were entering the Grey Quarter.
It did not take us long to find the New Gnisis Cornerclub.
Rigmor pointed to an animal and asked, “Is that a Netch?”
‘Yes, a tiny one.”
“How do they float like that?”
“They have bladders of gas inside them.”
“How do they go higher or lower?”
“By releasing gas. Pffffffftttt!”
The noise coming from inside sounded just like any other tavern or inn. It was the universal sound of mortals enjoying good company and booze. More proof the species have far more in common than bigots dare admit.
We entered, and the barkeep greeted us with the standard Skyrim tavern greeting, “Welcome. Let me know if you want anything. I think I got a clean mug around here.”
I approached him and said, “Greetings. We are looking for Tendril Sethri.”
The barkeep pointed to a Dunmer sitting at a table looking glum with two others.
I approached and asked him, “Excuse me, are you Tendril Sethri?”
“Who wants to know?”
“My name is Wulf. The young lady is Rigmor. I am wondering if you can help us?
“Maybe I can. Maybe I can’t. Depends, what do you want?”
“A friend of mine acquired a gold wedding ring. Says it came from you.”
“Rings, trinkets, they come and go, you’ll need to be more specific.”
“This particular ring was liberated from a Thalmor embassy.”
“Ahh, yes, I remember that ring. It was one of many items I took for myself as payment for services rendered. You see, I worked there temporarily as a kitchen servant. Unfortunately, one night I made the broth too rich by adding some seared Skeever meat in with the vegetables. Hahahaha!”
“Not very fresh Skeever meat I assume?”
“The Thalmor spent two days racing each other to the latrines. Serves them right, arrogant fools!”
“Could you still see them? I thought if you removed all the shit from a Thalmor they would vanish.”
“Not keen on them either? They told me I was lucky not to lose my head. Obviously, they were no connoisseurs of fine cuisine, eh?”
“Uncultured witless sheep shaggers.”
“You know them well! Anyway… A shipment of creates arrived from Solitude that afternoon. They contained fine clothes, jewellery, shoes, ornaments and even piles of rags. But what I found most disturbing were the chains and shackles.”
Rigmor gasped then gripped my hand tightly.
“I believe the items were from slavers. Payment to the Thalmor to ignore illegal mining operations.”
“Inside The Empire?”
“Yes, right under stupid Imperial noses!”
“Many criminals are taking advantage of the civil war and the lack of Imperial patrols. Is there anything you can remember that might help us locate the ring’s owner?”
“Hmm! There was something, but it will cost you the price of helping me get out of this rathole and back home.”
I pulled out my gem bag and found a good quality ruby worth several hundred septims even if sold to a fence.
I handed the ruby to Sethri, who looked at with an expert eye. He knew its value and smiled as he pocketed it.
Sethri continued, “Now then, where was I? Ah yes! I was rifling through the pockets of the clothing, as you do, when I noticed a list. My heart skipped a beat when I realised the list contained the names of the poor wretches the belongings had come from and where they had been sent. Men, women and even children had been taken from the provinces by pirates and slave masters. That is the Thalmor for you, with their usual bureaucratic thoroughness for fine details. Filthy dogs!”
“If you even find yourself queuing up to have your head lopped off by an Imperial headsman, you will discover that The Empire likes their lists as well.”
Rigmor asked Sethri, “Do you know where the crates were then sent to?”
“Northwatch Harbour. I grabbed what I could and hightailed it out of there. The person you seek is likely on that slaver’s list. It will tell you where they have been taken to.”
“You seem knowledgeable Mr Sethri, so I have no doubt you can tell us where Northwatch Harbour is located.”
“It just so happens I can. It is located in a ravine on the High Rock border. You can’t access it from land. But I knew a guy who worked there as a skivvy. The Thalmor would send him to take food and mead to hired mercs and bandits guarding a secret entrance to the harbour.”
“An entrance on the mainland?”
“Yes, and it can be tricky to spot. Head to the border with High Rock, then make your way down a path to the right, and you will see the ruins of an old Imperial fort. There will be a disused well in the undergrowth. That leads to tunnels that will take you right to the harbour. Be careful, as they might still be guarded.”
“Thank you, Sethri. Your information is just what we needed.”
“If I were you two, I would make sure the list is passed onto the authorities. This kind of abomination needs to be stopped.”
Rigmor growled, “Don’t worry. It will be stopped.”
Sethri looked at Rigmor and said, “I would love to see the Thalmor squirm out of this one. But if you have a better solution, then I wish you all the best. Good day to you.”
“And Azura’s blessing to you Tendril Sethri.”
We exited the building then Rigmor said, “We know where it is. Let’s go find that list.”
“You are exhausted. If we are going to fight our way through Northwatch Harbour, you need to have a rest first. It will be challenging enough when you are fully rested.”
“Why would it be more challenging than Fort Black?”
“It may contain slaves. It may contain slavers. Have you faced them since you were a slave? Do you know how you might react?”
“Don’t you assume you know how I feel? What is it? Do you want to go on alone and leave me here? In this dump?”
“Rigmor, listen to yourself!”
“Hey! Why don’t you stay here and I’ll just go and kill them all myself and get that stupid list!”
“If it is not fatigue or concern about what we may find that makes me a target of your anger, then what is it?”
“Hey, I don’t need no Dragonborn babysitting me! I can take care of myself!”
“So, you didn’t need Angi or Rose either? Would you have miraculously survived just fine without people caring about you? You said yourself you wouldn’t have made it past the miners to get to Fort Black. You are making no sense. Tell me, Rigmor, why the anger? Am I just a convenient target?”
“Ever since the age of fourteen, I have had my life ripped apart! I have suffered alone. There was no-one there for me. NO-ONE!!!”
“Have you been alone the last week? I have been here for you and will remain at your side as I swore to Baa’Ren-Dar, Rose and The Divines! I don’t know what I have done to upset you, but I am sorry. It hurts me to see you upset. But how can I avoid upsetting you if I don’t know the entire story?”
“Yes, I should tell you all but not here. How about the inn, near the entrance?”
‘I think it is called Candlehearth Hall. Let’s go.”
“Dragonborn, so that you know, I really like having you around.”
“I think it is turning into more than just like. Nice buttocks by the way.”
I thought Rigmor was going to flare up again. Instead, she smiled, shook her head, then started walking towards the inn.
To my surprise, laughter and merriment was coming from Candlehearth Hall.
We entered and were greeted by another standard greeting of barkeeps in Skyrim, “Come on in and let me know if you need anything, or take a seat by the fire and I’ll send someone over.”
Rigmor headed upstairs, and I followed.
Rigmor sat a small corner table looking apprehensive.
I sat down, then said, “Talk if you wish. I will understand if you can’t.”
“I really do need to talk about what happened back then. Especially now that I know, it wasn’t just a random thing. A lot of the memory is broken. I think it was just my way of dealing with it all.”
“Like when you didn’t remember jumping off the cliff into the tree?”
“Yeah, like that. I was only a young girl, and it wasn’t long after my fourteenth birthyear, when they came for my dad.”
“He is highly revered. Nobody believes the lies about him Rigmor.”
“Yeah! That’s quite something, right?”
“Did your father ever talk about the Great War or his time in Hammerfell?”
“No! Never! He would get quite annoyed if I asked about that.”
“That is why I got mad at Baa’Ren-Dar. He thought you should have figured out why the Thalmor hate you so but most soldiers do not talk about their war experiences with their family. You probably know very little about what he actually did on the battlefield.”
“Not much at all. Dad would always give me a sword too heavy to practice with, but he would insist, and when I just got used to it, he would give me another, heavier one. He would say to me, ‘Rigmor, you may not know it now, but I do this because I won’t always be there for you and your mom! You are the only child, and you must be as much a son as a daughter. You must be strong! You are a Nord!”
“I wonder if friends in high places warned him of the Dominion plans? He loved you and Sigunn dearly and tried to prepare you for what he feared would happen.”
“I still hate myself, you know, for not being there for him. Some son I turned out to be, huh!”
“Once again, I will tell you. There is nothing you could have done!”
“They were supposed to let us go! You know, after my father agreed to their terms. They separated me from my mom after that and I haven’t seen her since. I’ll never forgive The Empire for turning their backs on us.”
“When did the Thalmor start mistreating you? Before or after your father was tricked into accepting their terms?”
“At the embassy, they treated us well. It was after we were extradited it all went bad. They kept their promise to my father to keep us alive, but just barely. It became a living hell. As you know, I became a slave.”
So now we come to the hidden demons, and I knew this was going to hurt Rigmor and in turn that will hurt me.
Rigmor continued, “I had no rights, no life. I had no hope, and I was scared. I remember asking myself over and over, why can’t I just go home?”
Rigmor needed to do this. I would not ask her to stop even if it opens old wounds.
Rigmor said, “I wouldn’t do what they wanted, so they beat me.”
“NO! The Stupid Bosmer, of course! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to…”
“Rigmor, never apologise to me for getting angry when talking about this. I understand.”
“I was sent to Valenwood to work on a farm. There was this Bosmer and his two sons. What arseholes they were! I remember a high ranking Justiciar would come to visit now and then to check on me. Of course, now it is all so clear, but then…”
“But then you did not know exactly why this happened.”
“He would tell them if they touched me… you know!”
“If they molested you?”
“Yes, that. The Justiciar said he would, ‘have their disgusting lowly worthless heads removed and place on spikes.” So instead of molesting me, the slavers beat me instead.”
I could not fathom why a Justiciar would care if a prisoner was raped. That just didn’t make sense to me.
I asked Rigmor, “Do you know this Justiciar’s name?”
“Nah! But the bastard had me flogged like a dog.”
“Why? Did they keep failing to break you?”
“Yeah, I almost broke the slavemaster’s neck hahaha! They didn’t understand, but I was brought up a true Nord fighter! My dad always told me it was better to live one day as a warrior than a lifetime as a coward. It would be the last time they raised their hand against me.”
The beating did not explain the scars on her back. I knew who inflicted those. I braced myself and asked, “What happened then?”
I was placed in Thalmor custody, where they flogged me with their whips. They didn’t want to dirty their hands they said. I remember the first whipping but not much after that…until…until I awoke in a clean, soft bed. I thought I was in Sovngarde at first, but then the pain.”
“Was it Baa’Ren-Dar that rescued you?”
“Yes, he risked everything to save me. I love him dearly, and he is like a father to me.”
“You repaid him by naming your horse after him!”
“Oh, my! Hahaha yeah! Don’t tell him, though! He’ll growl at me hahaha!”
“I can’t imagine Baa’Ren-Dar growling!”
“Yeah! Didn’t you know Khajiit’s growl when they get mad? Hahaha!”
I was in the pit of despair with Rigmor as she described her horror. Then she lifted us both out of that dark pit with her laugh. I had fallen in love with this remarkable woman, and I did not know if that was going to lead to happiness or disaster.
“Oh my! Haha! I think I am done talking now.”
“Thank you, Rigmor. I know that wasn’t easy.”
Rigmor took hold of my hands and said, “Dragonborn, I was looking into your eyes, and you must have been getting angry as I told my tale. The dragon stared back at me, but then there were tears. Dragons don’t cry my silly Dragonborn. Never think you are just a dragon.”
“I am not strong enough to protect you. So, I am going to ask this of you because I believe it will make me stronger. My internal compass started after we spoke to Sethri. I need no map to tell me where The Divines want me to go. I need to complete the task set by The Greybeards.”
“Are you sure? They don’t seem to have helped you much so far?”
“And I don’t think another trip to High Hrothgar is going to change that. But if The Divines think I need to go to Ustengrav, then that is where I have to go.”
“I will come with you. I would not ask you to put it aside for now. The slavers list isn’t going anywhere.”
“I mean what I said before. You are exhausted, so I suggest we take a carriage to Morthal. The horses can follow on leads. That will give you at least four hours of sleep.”
“How far from Morthal is Usten…whatever it’s called.”
“Only a short horse ride.”
“Sounds like a plan, Dragonborn.”
“So, do you honestly like having me around?”
“You have your moments.”
We made our way to the stables.
I hired the carriage and attached the horses with short following leads.
We climbed aboard, then Rigmor placed her head on my shoulder. She fell asleep almost immediately and did not wake till we reached Morthal.
The old man watched the carriage till he could see it no more. He was as full of uncertainty as his son.