Sundas, 24th Last Seed, 4E 201 to Tirdas, 26th Last Seed, 4E 201

Rigmor of Bruma and Skyrim quests: A Mother’s Ring, The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.

Skyrim Mod: Thunderchild.

We mounted our horses in Morthal just before 7:00 AM.

Thalmor guarded the bridge that led to the side exit. Two of them spotted us.

We leapt off our horses and ran towards them.

I used Unrelenting Force to stagger our foes then fired an arrow into one. Rigmor cut down the other.

Another Unrelenting Force staggered more Thalmor running towards us.

I then used Whirlwind Sprint and was upon them before they could recover.

A Morthal Guard was near another Thalmor so I could not use my Thu’um. I am a Master Level mage in all Schools of Magicka. That allows me to cast spells that affect all enemies in an area but not my allies. I can’t do that with the Thu’um, and I am not sure why or if I will be able to do so when I get stronger in the Voice.

I used my shield to block the single arrow the Thalmor fired before Rigmor hit him midsection with one of hers. Blood splattered over me from his mortal wound, and he died before I reached him.

Rigmor came up to me and said, “You were right, Guardian. My archery has improved quicker from using it in battle than shooting at targets.”

The Morthal Guard I had seen near the last Thalmor said, “The citizens of Morthal will be pleased somebody has removed these parasites. People have been too scared even to leave their homes as we have had whole families arrested in the past on nothing but suspicion of Talos worship.”

“You heard me use the Thu’um. Let the citizens know the Dragonborn is a devout follower of Talos and will kill any Thalmor that tries to stop him  when travelling the roads of Skyrim.”

More deaths to add to my tally. More memories of their last moments embedded in my head.

We gathered our horses and once again headed for Morthal’s side exit.

It was a pleasant ride to Ustengrav.

When the ancient ruins came into sight, we saw a Necromancer battling a bandit.

I said to Rigmor, “He has a couple of animated dead with him. If you kill the Necromancer, they will collapse into a pile of dust or ash or just collapse.”

The Necromancer was so busy dealing with the bandit he realised too late I was charging him aboard Hashire.

After I cut him down his undead minions turned to ash.

We tethered the horses then headed for the entrance.

I examined a dead bandit then said to Rigmor, “He was killed by a knife to the kidneys and only an hour or so ago.”

“A stealth kill? Maybe somebody else is visiting this place?”

“Am I getting paranoid?”

“If you are, that makes two of us.”

Before entering, I advised, “Kill any Necromancer or mages first and with your bow.”

Rigmor replied, “Thanks, I would never have thought of that. Pffft!”

After entering, we heard a heated argument about backstabbing, and it sounded like violence was imminent.

A dead bandit just inside the entrance had his throat slit from behind. It was another stealth kill.

We were just in time to witness the overheard argument result in a group of bandits attacking a couple of Necromancers.

One of my arrows eliminated a Necromancer.

Another Necromancer raised a protective shield then summoned two Storm Atronach. He was a Master Mage of at least one School of Magicka.

Whirlwind Sprint allowed me to close in quickly, but Rigmor had already fired two arrows into him. I finished him off with a sword thrust. With his death, the summoned Atronachs returned to the ether.

Rigmor was more than a little pleased with her marksmanship.

The bandits who had challenged the Necromancers were riddled with Ice Spears.

I found nothing useful on the corpses except for gems. I only ever take them and the few coins from the dead. I never take rings or amulets or other jewellery because they often meant something to the deceased beyond a monetary value. For that reason, I thought it unfitting for me to remove them.

We could hear another battle further on in the complex. This time it was spell vs Thu’um.

“More Necromancers and some Draugr?” asked Rigmor.

“Sounds like it. Let’s take advantage of the mayhem!”

We soon discovered evidence to support our theory and rushed into the battle.

One elderly Necromance was trying to escape some Draugr.

I hit him and the Draugr with Unrelenting Force. While they all tried to recover from that Rigmor and me waded in and cut them down.

Rigmor’s confidence and competence with her bow were increasing with each skirmish. She sheathed her sword and ran ahead with bow at the ready.

I rushed to catch up and found Rigmor quickly firing into two Draugr who were busy with another Necromancer.

We took care of the Draugr, and then I killed the Necromancer.

One very tough Draugr soon discovered Rigmor with a sword is even deadlier than Rigmor with a bow.

When all adversaries were down, I said to Rigmor, “I told Baa’Ren-Dar we are formidable as individuals but stronger than our sum. In other words, we are now fighting not as two people but as one killing machine. It is impressive and rather scary.”

“Yeah, I know, right! And we don’t even have to think about it!”

“It has come naturally. Like it was meant to be.”

“Like we were meant to be together? You might be right, my Dragonborn.”

I noticed Rigmor was increasingly referring to me as ‘my Dragonborn’ or ‘my Guardian’. Since she owns my heart, she might as well claim ownership of its container.

We stood before a door, and dragon-sight did not reveal anything living behind it. There might be no Necromancers, but there could be a million Draugr.

We walked through the door and found ourselves heading further underground.

I could hear the unmistakable sounds of animated skeletons. Rigmor and I crouched down and snuck upon one which we disposed of with a few arrows.

I whispered to Rigmor, “You have to be careful because many of these skeletons will rise again seconds or even minutes after you think you destroyed them.”

“Do the scattered bones sort of creep along the ground and reconnect?”

“Yes.”

“Cool!”

Not far past that skeleton was a large cavern infested with more skeletons. I could hear a Word Wall in the distance.

“Can you hear a Word Wall?”

“No, I couldn’t hear the one in Bleak Falls Barrow.”

“Maybe that is another thing I have been gifted.”

“So, what is the plan?”

“Let’s take care of the skeletons with our bows. Then we will jump to the walkway below.”

“OK.”

We destroyed most of the skeletons in seconds.

When we jumped down to the walkway, there was a skeleton that we could not see from above creeping up, or more accurately, creaking up behind us.

I destroyed it.

Rigmor whispered, “Do you know where the Word Wall is from here?”

I pointed to a skeleton sitting on a throne.

“I know where it is, but we will have to walk past that one. He looks pretty tough!”

We ran up to it, and I smashed it so hard its bones flew everywhere.

After a few seconds, the bones started to slide along the ground and reassemble.

“That is so amazingly cool!” exclaimed Rigmor.

“Ah, you might want to smash it to bits again instead of admiring it.”

Rigmor hit the skeleton with an almighty blow.

It ran away!

Rigmor chased it down, slashing at it till it moved no more.

She came running back then asked why I was laughing.

“A normal person would find a self-resurrecting animated skeleton terrifying. You found it ‘cool’. Then the skeleton found you terrifying, which I think is ‘cool’.”

“Dragonborn, don’t use my word. It doesn’t sound cool when you say cool.”

“Albatross!”

“What?”

“That is my word, and I would appreciate it if you never use it.”

Rigmor did her usual ritual of shaking her head at me and walking away.

A bit further into the cavern and down a ramp was the Word Wall.

I stood as ‘feim’, which means ‘fade’, became a Word of Power embedded in my brain.

Rigmor exclaimed, “That is so cool when that happens!”

I read Rigmor the message written on the Word Wall,

“Noble Nords remember these words of the hoar father. It is the duty of each man to live with courage and honour, lest he fades unremembered into darkness.”

Rigmor said, “I think I remember being taught a little about the Hoar Father. Wasn’t that Ysgramor?”

“Some think it is Tsun. It might even be an imaginary being to whom popular sayings are attributed. This saying must sound familiar to you.”

“Yes, Dragonborn. It is similar to what my dad told me. It is better to live one day as a warrior than a lifetime as a coward.”

We made our way to where we had leapt on the walkway. In the opposite direction than we had gone to get to the word wall, a set of three lowered portcullis blocked a tunnel.

In front of the portcullis were three small monoliths. Each one would raise a portcullis as you passed it. After the third portcullis lifted, there was only a short amount of time to get past all three before they came down again. There was no way to run fast enough to clear them. It required Whirlwind Sprint to do it.

Rigmor waited as I ran past the three monoliths then used Whirlwind Sprint.

Rigmor joined me and quipped, “That would be so much fun when playing tag.”

“I think the other children would call you names for cheating.”

“Who has to be a child to play tag?”

“Next, you will want to play hide go seek.”

“Dragon-sight would make that so easy!”

“Is there anything you wouldn’t cheat at?”

“I would never cheat on my true love. That is if I ever find him. He must be somewhere, don’t you think?”

Rigmor walked away, and I soon followed like a faithful puppy.

As we walked through some tunnels, we heard the shuffling of giant spiders.

Dragon-sight allowed me to see where the spiders were.

Two arrows later there were two dead spiders.

I looked up, and a giant spider was waiting to drop on prey.

An arrow took care of that arachnid.

Past the spiders was a portcullis and chain to raise it.

Rigmor said, “That must be Windcaller’s tomb. I can’t see the horn. We don’t have to open his sarcophagus do we?”

“I doubt the Greybeards would want us to disturb his mortal remains.”

As we walked to the sarcophagus, ancient pillars rose from the water.

Once we reached the sarcophagus, something stuck out as odd. Rigmor noticed it too and asked, “What is that writing on his coffin?”

“It is Daedric Script for Windcaller.”

“Why no use the dragon language runes?”

“I have no idea. I doubt somebody who dedicated most of his life in continual worship of Aedra would be a pawn or follower of a Daedric Prince. It could simply be because the Chimer defeated him and they used that script. Simply a sign of respect to those who led him to the Way of the Voice. Daedric Script use was far more common when Windcaller died than it is now.”

“Would the Greybeards tell you?”

“That might be useful information so no, they wouldn’t tell me.”

“Where is the horn, Dragonborn?”

“I assume it is supposed to be in the hand that holds the note.”

I retrieved the note and read it to Rigmor,

“Dragonborn,

I need to speak to your urgently.

I’ll meet you at the Sleeping Giant Inn.

A friend.”

In perfect harmony, we said, “Delphine!”

Rigmor asked, “How did she beat us to it? How did she get in here? She could not have got past the three portcullises.”

“There must be a back way. It would explain the stealth kills we saw.”

“And then the bandits and Necromancers argued over those killings?”

“I suppose the bandits thought the Necromancers did it.”

“But why take the horn? And how did she know we need it?”

“She wanted to make sure we came and talked to her. As for how she knew we would be looking for it, she must have been spying on us.”

“Let’s find that back way, go to Riverwood and strangle her.”

There was a door behind the sarcophagus.

It led to a treasure room. I grabbed a couple of gems and left the rest.

A tunnel led away from the treasure room.

We opened a locked door via a switch on the wall.

At the end of another short tunnel was a hidden door.

A lever opened it.

Rigmor said, “She must have come through these tunnels, but how did she open the doors?”

“I don’t know. Delphine must have some skills and is not just some nosey barkeep.”

We soon found our way to the exit.

We rode back to and through Morthal. It was not long past 3:00 PM when we exited the main gate.

“Hey Rigmor, can you guess my sneaky plan?”

“Um…ah…maybe…follow the signs?”

We rode past an ancient fort whose sentries stared down at us. They were Necromancers and skeletons could be heard rattling behind the embattlements.

In a reversal to the skirmish we had witnessed yesterday, a small Stormcloak party was overwhelmed by a larger number of Imperial troops.

As we rode slowly forward, another platoon of Imperials rushed up to join the fight.

The big difference to yesterday was the discipline of the Legionnaires. They did not mock their opponents.  They were efficient with their kills and did not hack and stab in a frenzied mob. No taunting was heard and no boasting of their kills when it was over.

The one thing that was similar and sickened me was the pile of bodies left in the wake of Ulfric’s ambitions.

I decided to leave the main roads and cross the vast grasslands to Whiterun.

We rode past a temple, and I told Rigmor, “That is Akaviri. Probably from the time of their first invasion.”

“I wonder if anybody has been inside?”

“Their Akaviri symbol for Dragonborn is on the door. It may be locked to anybody but a Dovahkiin or Dragonguard.”

“You would love to explore it.”

“Yes, but at the moment we have a horn to retrieve and a mother to find.”

Rigmor enjoyed the ride across the grasslands.

We rejoined the main road near the destroyed watchtower. As we rode past an Imperial patrol, Rigmor asked, “I have noticed that green glow sometimes. What is that?”

“A Master Mage, in this case, the Imperial Battlemage, has cast a protection shield. When we ride within its borders and are not hostile, we will get the glow around us.”

We rode by a noble on her horse looking at the watchtower. I said to her “Nice day for a horse ride.”

She replied, “Go away. What makes you think I would want to speak to a smelly lowborn brute?”

I replied, “You are to leave Whiterun Hold immediately. If I see you within its borders again, I will have you arrested for trespass.”

“Who are you to demand such nonsense?”

Rigmor laughed and told her, “He is the Thane of Whiterun and has a bigger stick up his arse than you.”

I had decided to return to the main road as I thought we were safe from Thalmor search parties in Whiterun Hold. I was wrong! Within sight of Whiterun’s walls, they attacked.

I charged and sliced one of them almost in half.

Without slowing, I cut down the next in line.

Whiterun Guards came running, and soon the Thalmor were dead, including one who was skewered by a cow!

Rigmor almost wet herself laughing. She has a somewhat warped sense of humour and calls me weird?

In between guffaws, she asked me, “Are you going to recommend the cow gets a medal?”

“No, I think I will invite it for dinner.”

“Dragonborn! Don’t you dare!”

As we rode past the meadery, Rigmor asked, “I wonder if they have free samples?”

“Maybe you could get a position as their taster and quality control manager?”

“That would be cool!”

“Except you would drink their profits and send them broke.”

“Probably. Oh well, there goes another shattered dream.”

We rode into Riverwood and hitched the horses outside the Sleeping Giant Inn.

I said to Rigmor, “Delphine might have a good reason for wanting to meet us. So, we will stay nice and calm and not slice and dice her. OK?”

“Yeah, right. Pffft!”

“Rigmor!”

“Can I just punch her then?

“No!”

“Call her names?”

“No!”

“Poke my tongue out?”

“Maybe.”

We entered the inn, and Delphine stood waiting for me to start the talking.

Rigmor shoved past me then growled, “Give me the horn, you bitch!”

Delphine held out the horn, and Rigmor snatched it from her.

Delphine quickly said, “You are here, so we might as well talk!”

Rigmor replied, “Go ahead. Talk.”

“Not here, follow me,” said Delphine as she walked towards her rooms.

I whispered to Rigmor, “I want to deal with Delphine. Please just let me and her talk. I have a feeling she may be important in the fight against Alduin.”

“OK. I promise to be quiet and maybe resist the urge to strangle her.”

We followed Delphine into her bedroom. She asked me to close the door. As I did so, the barkeep glanced over and was probably wondering what debauchery Delphine planned.

To my utter disbelief, Delphine had the biggest cliché’ going. A false back to the only cupboard in her bedroom. Who did she think that would fool?

We followed Delphine down some stairs and into her ‘secret’ basement.

Delphine leant over a map, obviously a copy of the Dragonstone, and glared at me. Rigmor stood behind me and to my right, flexing her hands.

  • Delphine: The Greybeards seem to think you are the Dragonborn. I hope they’re right.
  • Wulf: They don’t think so. They know so, as do I.
  • Delphine: I hope so. But you’ll forgive me if I don’t assume the something’s true just because the Greybeards say so. I just handed you the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. Does that make me Dragonborn too?
  • Wulf: Retrieving the Horn was not a test to see if I was Dragonborn. Therefore, your comment is both flippant and idiotic in the extreme!
  • Delphine: Luring you here was the only way I could make sure it wasn’t a Thalmor trap. I am not your enemy. I already gave you the horn. I’m actually trying to help you. I just need you to hear me out.
  • Wulf: You had better start explaining and fast.
  • Delphine: I’ll explain what I want, when I want, got it? You’d already be dead if I didn’t like the look of you when you walked in here. But I had to know if the rumours about you were true.

Rigmor was about to rip Delphine’s throat out, so I turned to her and slowly shook my head. She looked into my eyes, saw no dragon and nodded. I turned back to Delphine.

  • Wulf: And what makes you think you could help me?
  • Delphine: I’m part of a group that’s been looking for you… well, someone like you, for a very long time. If you really are Dragonborn, that is. Before I tell you any more, I need to know I can trust you.
  • Wulf: Why are you looking for a Dragonborn?
  • Delphine: We remember what most don’t. That the Dragonborn is the ultimate dragonslayer, you’re the only one that can kill a dragon permanently by devouring its soul. Can you do it? Can you devour a dragon’s soul?
  • Wulf: I wouldn’t call it devouring, and I have no choice in the matter. I absorb a dragon’s lifeforce and in doing so, gain its knowledge of the Thu’um. If I don’t know how to use a Word of Power, I gain that knowledge. But I knew I was Dragonborn before absorbing my first dragon soul.
  • Delphine: Good. You will have a chance to prove it to me soon enough.
  • Rigmor: What? The Dragonborn doesn’t need to prove anything to you! I saw it with my own eyes.
  • Delphine: Excuse me if I don’t believe the word of whoever you are.
  • Wulf: We have the horn and are leaving.
  • Delphine: I shouldn’t let you walk out of here, knowing what you know. But I guess even my paranoia has its limits.

I stared at Delphine and snarled, “Look into my eyes, Delphine. What do you see?”

Delphine looked, and all her bluster vanished in a second.

“If you had stayed to fight Mirmulnir as a member of The Blades should have, you would have seen me absorb his soul. You would have heard Mirmulnir call me Dovahkiin in his dying moments and before the Greybeards did.”

“How did you…”

“On the hay-bails in the corner are matching katana issued to the Dragonguard. They are usually entombed with them unless handed down to another Blade. I am guessing they have been passed down through the generations to you. Are you a Blade?”

“Yes.”

“So not only did you fail in your duty to defend The Empire against a dragon, you insult me, who you are sworn to obey. Whoever originally owned those swords would be ashamed that you now have them. You are a disgrace.”

“I am doing what I think is right. Do you know what danger we are all in?”

“I just told you the name of the dragon we defeated at the watchtower. Look him up on your burial map. He will not be there.”

Delphine looked, and her shoulders sagged.

“You were worried about dragons being resurrected. Now you need to worry about every single dragon not confirmed as killed in Farengar’s copy of ‘Atlas of Dragons’.”

Rigmor said, “The Dragonborn knows the danger far more than you. He witnessed the destruction of Helgen first hand. He knows who is resurrecting the dragons.”

I said to Delphine, “And I have the soul of a dragon which was gifted to me by Lord Akatosh!”

Delphine stammered, “A…A dragon’s soul…”

“It is obvious you know less about Dragonborn than you thought.”

“Your eyes?”

“They are human eyes, but like Tiber Septim, you will see the dragon within when I am angered.”

“Who is resurrecting the dragons?”

“It is Alduin who is resurrecting the buried dragons. It is Alduin who is calling his former soldiers to his side. There are other things I know about Alduin’s plans that would cause panic in the streets.”

“What? What do you know?”

“You would have to earn my trust before I would tell you what only a couple of others know.”

“I want to help. It is my duty to help.”

“And you may be able to help in the future, but your paranoia about the Thalmor has warped your sense of values. If anybody should be in hiding, it is Rigmor! Her wanted poster was all over Riverwood.”

“I knew who she was the night you hired a room.”

“What is a Blade worth to the Thalmor if I handed you in? They probably want you bad since you are one of the last survivors. Maybe two thousand gold pieces? How badly do you think they want Rigmor if they are offering fifteen thousand gold pieces?”

“All they said was she murdered a few people.”

“Rigmor killed dozens of Thalmor in Bruma. Together we have killed dozens more the last few days. They have hired the best bounty hunters, dozens of which we have also had to kill. The Thalmor have one hundred specialist troops under one of their most senior generals to hunt Rigmor down. And it has nothing to do with the troops we have already killed or those Rigmor slaughtered in Bruma.”

“Why tell me about the Thalmor if you are not going to divulge why they hunt her?”

“Because you put her in danger with your stunt. Every time we travel, we risk confrontation. You made us come here, and we had to fight more Thalmor on the way.”

“But I didn’t know.”

“No, and that is the point. How did you know we would be sent to retrieve Windcaller’s Horn?”

“The Greybeards are predictable. I knew if they thought you were Dragonborn, they would send you to fetch the horn.”

“You lie! They have never sent a Dragonborn to fetch the horn before. There is no precedence in history or myth for the task they set me. You had people spying on us. You discovered we were travelling on a nice slow carriage to Morthal and guessed why. You rushed to Ustengrav and killed the guard outside the door and the one just inside the door. You knew of the shortcut to the horn where you did not need the Thu’um or to fight you way through. You are a trained spy and assassin as all Blades were under Titus Mede II. You bypassed the lock mechanisms, grabbed the horn, left your note and scrambled back here as quick as you could.”

I looked at Delphine, and no matter how good her training, it was apparent I had just described what happened precisely.

“Listen closely, Delphine. Rigmor and I are trying to prevent another threat to The Empire. If I find you have been spying on us or you have interfered with what we need to do, I will either kill you or have you jailed for a very long time. I could kill you without breaking a sweat. I advise you to take my word for that and not ask for proof! As Thane of Whiterun, I could have you arrested right now for threatening me twice.”

“You are the Thane?”

“Yes, because Jarl Balgruuf knows I am a Dragonborn and I killed the dragon you ran from!”

“I was only trying to help Skyrim. To help The Empire.”

“I swear on The Divines all I said is true and I will punish you if you interfere again. Do you understand me, Delphine?”

“Yes, Thane.”

“I believe I will need your help soon. I do not expect subservience, but I will not tolerate my honesty being questioned. Next time we meet, I hope you are ready to help and not hinder. I will need allies to defeat Alduin.”

Rigmor and I made our way outside, unhitched the horses then mounted them.

I asked, “Shall we spend the night in Breezehome? We can both get clean again, have a good meal and feel relatively safe.”

“That is an excellent idea!”

“Breezehome it is then. What about we ride up the seven thousand steps tomorrow?”

“That is an even better idea!”

“Hopefully this will be the last of the dragon stuff to get in our way. Maybe after High Hrothgar, we can concentrate on finding you mom and kicking the New Order in the knackers.”

“Knackers?”

“The same as cobblers.”

“With the meat?”

“No, just the potatoes. With the meat is wedding tackle.”

“Please get your memories back, my Dragonborn. I would love to know where they speak like you so I can avoid it.”

We made it to Whiterun without any issues, but our enjoyment of the ride was ruined. We were always on alert. I wondered how long it would be before I could just enjoy a carefree ride with Rigmor again.

The stable hands in Skyrim knew I was their Thane. The service they provided before that elevation in status had always been excellent. It was just as excellent but with less light-hearted banter and a sense of tension due to my nobility.

I asked Rigmor, “When you had your noble status in Bruma, did others treat you like you were somehow superior?”

“No. My mom and dad made sure I had no illusion of superiority. We were just a normal family and never once used our status to lord over others. Baa’Ren-Dar was the same. His estate in Torval is huge. Probably bigger than Dragonsreach. He was born into money, and that allowed him the education to become an emissary. But his clan came before rank.”

“It bothers me that somehow people think my farts don’t smell because I am nobility.”

“I could tell them that fallacy isn’t true!”

“I couldn’t use Breezehome’s privy for at least an hour after you used it.”

“There was just a burnt hole in the floor after you used it!”

“I wonder if Dov fart fire?”

“This conversation proves there is not a single noble bone in your body.”

“Good, can I remove the stick now? I am getting splinters.”

Rigmor laughed that deep heartfelt laugh and my heart lurched once more.

We walked past the Khajiit caravan. They were simply enjoying life to its fullest, and their sense of clan was armour against the prejudices they endured in Skyrim.

A huge Moose, I had made it a point to learn their name, was climbing up a ramp to a lookout tower.

Rigmor remarked, “After the guards saw that cow in action the Jarl might be hiring animals as guards.”

“What, like the ones in Windhelm?”

“Droll Guardian. Very droll.”

We entered Whiterun and children were playing in the street outside Breezehome. Only feet away from where the vampires had attacked. The adults of Whiterun trusted their Jarl and his guards to keep their children safe.

Rigmor said, “We are both watching those children with envy. We have both lost that innocence. Me to the Thalmor. You to The Divines.”

“You will never forgive the Thalmor. I am yet to decide on The Divines.”

While Rigmor enjoyed her bath, I prepared a meal and didn’t do too bad a job.

As we sat enjoying our supper, Rigmor asked, “Is this another skill you just happened to have?”

“Not at all. Lydia left her recipe book near the hearth. I thought I could do her pepper steak without too much trouble. I wasn’t going to tackle the one she circled with a big ‘Yummy!” written in the margin.”

“It must be good. What is it?”

“Apple and Cabbage Stew.”

“Eww!”

“See, we agree on all the important things!”

We chatted about inconsequential things as we ate. I was then ordered to take my bath while Rigmor cleaned up the considerable mess I made while making dinner.

Later on, I escorted Rigmor to the main bedroom and said, “I will sleep outside the door. I feel fairly safe here, but still, it is better to be over-prepared for trouble than under.”

“You could stay here. If you wanted.”

“No. I think it will be good for you to have some privacy while you sleep.”

“OK.”

Later on, I found myself tossing and turning on the bedroll outside her door. A question kept being asked in my mind.  Did Rigmor want me to stay with her as other than her Guardian?

If that was her intention, would I? Not at the moment. Not till I am sure we had mutual feelings apart from the obvious physical attraction.

After an hour of tossing and turning, I gave up. I went to the bookshelf and grabbed some of the books I had purchased from the Khajiit. I read till morning light then quickly made some porridge to Lydia’s recipe taking notice of the heavily underlined parts about ratios, temperature and stirring.

The porridge turned out rather lumpy, and it stuck to our spoons, but Rigmor seemed to enjoy it.

After cleaning up, we made our way to the stables.

Just after 7:00 AM, we collected our horses and started the long ride to Ivarstead.

Once again, Whiterun Guards greeted their Thane as he rode past. Once again, I felt uncomfortable with the title.

“It looks like it might be a sunny day,” commented Rigmor.

“That would be nice. Get a suntan while we freeze on the way to High Hrothgar.”

We rode past the bridge across the river, and nobody attacked us. I wondered if somebody had cleared out the bandits.

I think we had followed so many signs in the last week that Hashire could do it by himself.

I decided we would try the more direct route over the mountain road to Ivarstead.

Rigmor exclaimed, “What a pretty bird! What kind is it?”

“The delicious kind according to foxes.”

“Extra oats if you buck him off, Hashire!”

It doesn’t matter how many spectacular views I experience with Rigmor; her enthusiasm for them never wanes.

Rigmor asked, “Have you got us lost?”

“Not at all. I know we are somewhere in Skyrim.”

“See that sign! As if I would get us lost.”

We rode through Ivarstead and up the seven thousand steps.

On reaching High Hrothgar, we tethered the horses where they would be sheltered a bit from the wind.

“Will they be OK?” asked Rigmor.

“We should be a couple of hours at the most so yes. It is not too cold at the moment.”

“Did your compass tell you to come here?”

“No, it stopped after we entered Ustengrav.”

Just before entering High Hrothgar, I said to Rigmor, “Head straight to where you sat last time. I just hope I do not have to put up with too much mumbo jumbo.”

“Yanno, I think this is going to be something special. Something not seen or experienced since Tiber Septim.”

“And I can’t think of anybody else I would rather share it with.”

“That is because you only know about half a dozen people!”

“I am so fortunate to have somebody who is special to me sharing something special with me.”

“Oh!”

Rigmor was beaming as we entered the Greybeard’s home.

Rigmor quickly made her way to the same bench she had sat on the last visit. I stood patiently, waiting for Arngeir to finish his meditation.

After a few seconds, he stood and asked, “Have you retrieved the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller?”

I handed Arngeir the Horn but did not mention Delphine. I was not even sure if the Greybeards were aware of dragon hating Blades living not far from their home. Whatever the animosity between the two groups was of no importance to me at that moment.

Arngeir announced, “You have now passed all the trials. It is time for us to recognise you as Dragonborn formally.”

The other three Greybeards appeared from different parts of High Hrothgar and stood at the compass points of the central square.

When they were in position, Arngeir said, “You are ready to learn the final Power Word of Unrelenting Force, ‘dah’ which means ‘push’.

I stood in front of Wulfgar who spoke and made the Power Word appear on the ground.

I stood over the glowing glyphs, and ‘dah’ took its place in my brain.

Arngeir tested my patience with unnecessary drivel, “With all three words together, this Shout is much more powerful. Use it wisely.”

He continued, “Master Wulfgar will now gift you with his knowledge of ‘dah’.”

Glowing tendrils copied the knowledge to me, and I then knew what I needed to know about ‘dah’ to use it in a Shout.

Arngeir announced, “You have completed your training, Dragonborn. We would ‘Speak’ to you.”

“All of you at once. Hence the emphasis on speak?”

“Yes, so I advise the young woman to remain where she is seated. Our Voices would be fatal if she strayed too close.”

“I hope you have no objections to her witnessing all of this.”

“As Dragonborn, you do not have to ask permission.”

“But does it disturb you?”

“No. It is good there is a witness to history.”

Rigmor called over, “Don’t worry. I will not move from this spot!”

Arngeir instructed, “Stand between us and prepare yourself. Few can withstand the unbridled Voice of the Greybeards. But you are ready.”

The first line of the Greybeard’s chant shook High Hrothgar, and the pressure on my body was immense. If it did no come evenly from all four directions at once, I would have been thrown across the room.

“Lingrah krosis saraan Strundu’ul, voth nid balaan klov praan nau.”

There was a brief pause before the second line of the chant shook High Hrothgar.

“Naal Thu’umu, mu ofan nii nu, Dovahkiin, naal suleyk do Kaan, naal suleyk do Shor, ahrk naal suleyk do Atmorasewuth.”

I managed to glance across at Rigmor, and she was sitting rigid, staring open-mouthed at what she was witnessing.

A second brief pause allowed me to quickly look around and see if there were any expressions at all on the Greybeards. Nothing. Blank. If this was important or noteworthy, they showed no signs of it being so.

The third and last line of the chant shook High Hrothgar even harder. I doubt the words would be heard far beyond the front door. Their power was now used to test me, not summon me. The Greybeards utilised all the power of their Thu’um.

“Meyz nu Ysmir, Dovahsebrom. Dahmaan daar rok.”

High Hrothgar stopped shaking. Arngeir bowed saying, “Dovahkiin. You have tasted the Voice of the Greybeards and passed through unscathed. High Hrothgar is open to you.”

My internal compass started. I did a quick circle to locate the target then asked Arngeir, “The far corridor to the right. What lays at the end of it?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Because The Divines want me to go there.”

“There is a door that has remained sealed for at least a millennium.”

“Why has it remained sealed?”

“No Greybeard has ever been able to open it. We do not know what lies beyond.”

“Who was the last to open it?”

“An ancient Tongue. But he was not the last to have gained entry. A Tongue called Hodir Thunder-Fang says he left a gift in there for a future Dragonborn. That was in the year 3E 282. Three hundred years ago. How he managed to bypass the door, he did not say.”

“How many other Dragonborn have you named Ysmir?”

“Tiber Septim and Wulfharth.”

“An Emperor and a High King. Why name me Ysmir?”

“Perhaps it is best you find that answer yourself.”

“I am honoured to receive such a title from the Greybeards. I apologise for being somewhat arrogant and rude.”

“We tested your patience and will probably continue to do so. Sky Above. Voice within.”

I walked over to Rigmor, who immediately asked, “What did they say to you?”

“It is full of mumbo jumbo.”

“If it was history, I should know what to tell the chroniclers if you get swallowed by a dragon.”

I laughed, then gave Rigmor an approximate translation of the Greybeards chant,

  • “Long has the Stormcrown languished, with no worthy brow to sit upon.
  • By our breath, we bestow it now to you in the name of Kyne, in the name of Shor, and in the name of Atmora of Old.
  • You are Ysmir now, the Dragon of the North, hearken to it.”

Rigmor asked, “So what is a ‘Ysmir’?”

“It is the old Nord name for Talos but also a title that was given to Tiber Septim and High King Wulfarth. I think Pelinal Whitestrake also had that title, but there is no evidence he wielded the Thu’um.”

“And it means ‘Dragon of the North’.”

“Yes, ‘Dovahsebrom’ in Dovahzul.”

“Is it important the Greybeards called you that?”

“If I had any intention of usurping the rule of Skyrim or The Empire then yes. If I declared myself Ysmir and asked for support, the Nords would flock to me. But since I will never do that, I have no idea what use it would be.”

“Did you ask Arngeir?”

“He said that perhaps it is best I find out myself.”

“Mumbo jumbo?”

“I think I will just have to be patient with some things and let the answers come instead of chasing them.”

“What next?”

“I follow my compass, which started just after the chanting finished.”

“I hope it is not far. I want to look for that slaver’s list.”

“It is just at the end of a nearby corridor. Follow me.”

The corridor was long. My compass indicated that straight ahead was the way to go.

There was no lock on the doors. I could detect no dweomer on them.

I placed my hand on the doors, and they swung open.

I asked Rigmor, “Do you want to see what has been hidden for a very long time?”

“DUH!”

We entered another long corridor with no dust or cobwebs. Lighted torches spanned its length.

A small alcove contained a bed and chair.

At the end of the alcove was an unusual Shrine of Talos.

I said to Rigmor, “The mural behind Talos is an ancient Nord depiction of Alduin. The statue is staring at me. It is like it is challenging me and the face is familiar. Not because I have seen shrines of Talos before. I have seen that face. I know it.”

“I think it is telling you that Talos expects you to fight Alduin.”

“It could be interpreted that way. It is another thing that may become clear with time.”

On a pedestal in front of the shrine was an amulet of Talos. I picked it up and could detect an unknown dweomer on it. I took the amulet to study later.

‘Has your compass gone?” asked Rigmor.

“No, the next room, I think.”

Another exit from the main corridor led to a huge and ancient Shrine of Kyne.

Rigmor asked, “Who is she?”

“That is an ancient Nord depiction of Kyne. Not the modern Kynareth depicted throughout Cyrodiil and Skyrim.”

“Birds are flying around it!”

“Remember the animal totems we discussed? Kyne is the Hawk. They are not hawks flying around her, though.”

On a pedestal was a book called ‘Hodir’s Shouts’. I read part of it to Rigmor,

“Before the Way of the Voice called my fellow students of the Thu’um, many were adepts of the five schools of magic, trained from initiation to draw the Words along the sides of their diagrams and seek patterns where there were none.

Others were priests of Kyne, turning to the teachings of the mountains; or hunters and soldiers who took the Thu’um as their bow and shield, a tool crafted to their talents.

The Thu’um, however, is a language, and like any language, its Words have many meanings.

Most phrases in Dovah are devoid of deeper significance: words full of power but leading nowhere. Thus, the long history of the Tongues has been a journey of exploration and discovery of the holy phrases that resonate with the earth and sky and with the supreme being of Kyne.

My time under Kyne’s sky is nearing its end, naal suleyk do Shor. This tome represents the fruits of many years of meditation and contemplation: twenty-eight Shouts of power, a life’s work left unfinished.

I leave these Shouts to all who possess the wisdom to understand them. They are indeed mighty, use them wisely.

Lok, Thu’um.

Hodir Thunder-Fang

13th of Sun’s Height, 3E 282.”

Rigmor asked, “Is the information of any use to you?”

It describes the Shouts. That means I could use them if I knew the meaning of the Words of Power. But I would have to read dozens of Word Walls and kill dozens of dragons to gain such knowledge, and I don’t want to do that.”

“Did that ceremony with the Greybeards increase your power?”

“No, all it did was teach me the third Word of Unrelenting Force.”

“Has your compass stopped?”

“No, it is directing me to the mat in front of the pedestal.”

“A mat on a cold stone floor in front of a giant shrine.”

“I should pray?”

“I am going to sit over there, and you will pray. What harm can it do?”

Rigmor sat on a bench against the wall.

I knelt on the mat but could not remember any prayer associated with Kyne.

It did not matter. As soon as I opened my mind to The Divines, I found myself unable to move, unable to speak. All I could hear was my heartbeat. But it seemed slow. Too slow!

The light in the room turned a shade of green.

My heartbeat remained slow and steady. I stayed calm and did not panic at my state of paralysis.

Words of Power took their places in my head one by one. It was as if I had stood in front of dozens of Word Walls or the Greybeards had gifted them to me.

After the Words of Power were all in place, the required knowledge to use them in Thu’um slowly became known to me. As if I had slain dozens of dragons and absorbed their souls. Or if the Greybeards have gifted me the knowledge.

The light returned to normal, and I found I could stand.

I know knew the three Words of Power for dozens of Shouts described in histories. I also knew the first Words of dozens of Shouts I doubt even the Greybeards know.

The compass was gone.

Rigmor walked over and asked, “What happened?”

“What did you see?”

“The space around you, like a dome, turned green. But you did not move until just now. For over one hour, you knelt in that green glow. No movement or noise.”

“Were you worried?”

“Of course! What was that all about?”

“A gift from The Divines. I can now use dozens of Shouts.”

“You do not have to absorb dragon souls to get that knowledge or visit all those Word Walls?”

“I will still absorb Dragon souls. Some Words are in place without the required knowledge. The Divines heard my anguish Rigmor. I can now defend you as a true Dragonborn!”

“Your compass does not point anywhere else?”

“No. So we can go look for that slaver’s list.”

“What if the compass starts up again?”

“We still go look for that slaver’s list.”

“It is a long way from here!”

“I suggest we ride back to Whiterun and catch a carriage from there to Solitude. The border crossing is a fairly straight, but long, ride west of there.”

Arngeir saw us walking along the corridor after the doors closed and locked behind us.

I approached and said to him, “Kyne has given me a gift.”

I then listed many Words of Power, what place they have in a Three Word Shout and what the Shout does. Not for all Shouts I knew, but enough for Arngeir to realise I learnt in just over an hour what could have taken years even if I am Dragonborn.

He was lost for words, and his mouth hung open.

I then said, “I have also learnt the Clear Skies Shout. I assume I need that to visit Paarthurnax?”

I was not surprised he did not answer.

“I told you it is not up to The Greybeards to decide when I am ready to meet Paarthurnax. You can no longer dictate to me when I am ready for anything to do with the Thu’um. The Divines have decided and will continue to do so. But I do not have to meet Paarthurnax right now. I have other tasks not concerning Alduin to complete. Sky above. Voice within.”

Instead of heading for the front door, I held Rigmor’s hand and took her into the courtyard.

We went to the edge of a cliff and peered out over Skyrim.

I said to Rigmor, “I don’t know when I will go see Paarthurnax but imagine looking out from the highest place in Tamriel!”

“You promise you will take me with you?”

“I swear by The Divines that I will take you to the Throat of the World.”

After ten minutes of enjoying the view, Rigmor said, “Let’s go, my Dragonborn.”

“When you call me ‘my Dragonborn’ I feel like I should have a collar and be on a leash.”

“Now that is a great idea!”

Rigmor laughed that laugh as we headed through High Hrothgar and out into a blizzard to collect our horses.

Our ride down the mountain and then to Whiterun was uneventful. No suicidal bandits, wild animals, bounty hunters or Thalmor.

I hired a carriage to take us to Solitude. Rigmor once again fell asleep with her head on my shoulder. Countless times in my head, I rehearsed how each Word of Power is pronounced to get the maximum effect for each Shout.

It was just after 9:30 PM when we mounted our horses and rode away from the Solitude stables.

Not far out of Solitude we spotted, in the distance, a light pointing up in the air.

“What is that light?” asked Rigmor.

“I have no idea!”

We rode past a high-ranking Imperial Office aboard a horse and two Legionnaires on foot.

Rigmor commented, “That seems unfair. The Officer is on a horse, and the two soldiers have to walk.”

“They are probably his batmen.”

“Batmen?”

“A batman is a personal servant to an Officer or high ranking noble. Like a Lady in Waiting or butler.”

“But why do they have to walk?”

“Tradition. Just stubborn military tradition.”

Between Dragon Bridge and Solitude, we turned north and up the road that passed Meridia’s temple.

Just before we reached the end of the road, a Thalmor patrol came strolling in the opposite direction.

The Justiciar stared at us but did not say a word, so we let them be.

We turned west at the end of the road.

A vampire came out of the dark and attacked.

She hit Rigmor with an Ice Spear, but the dweomer on her armour prevented significant damage.

Rigmor hit her with arrows, and I hit her with my sword.

She lay dead in a pool of blood. I wondered how much of it was hers and how much was her last meal.

It was a pleasant ride with the vampire being the only thing that attacked us.

When close to the border, I spotted a glowing bear in the distance.

After riding closer, we saw it was in a cage. Rigmor cried out, “Quick, we have to save him!” and galloped away.

When she got close to the caged bear, she leapt off Ben and ran to it. I leapt off Hashire and ran to join her.

I could sense Kynareth. A dead Legionnaire had got too close to the cage and had been mauled to death.