Rigmor of Bruma quest: Enemy of My Enemy.
I woke Rigmor after two hours. I was getting anxious about sitting out in the open. It invited an ambush if Aedriath’s scouts should find us.
I gently shook her shoulder and said, “Rigmor, it is time we got going.”
Rigmor’s eyes opened, then she smiled at me.
I waited at the entrance to the tent, not knowing what would happen next.
Rigmor came up behind me and said, “Dragonborn, I am sorry. I can be a whiny bitch sometimes. It’s not your fault. It’s just you are there…”
I turned to her and said, “Yell at me. Call me names. Be angry. I am willing to accept it all if it helps you cope. Please, don’t apologise.”
“Sometimes, although we don’t mean it, we hurt those closest to us.”
“I am sorry if what I said made you uncomfortable. It was not my intention.”
“Oh, my silly Dragonborn. Is that why you thought I ran away sobbing? Have you been sitting here worrying about that? I care for you too. Deeply. But there is so much happening.”
“We need to tread carefully. I know. I thought you had decided that I am more dragon than mortal.”
“In Windhelm, you cried when the dragon was in your eyes. Today you healed Mr Bear twice and cried at the death you wielded. You are a gentle soul. So are many warriors, including my dad.”
“I wonder how many have to remember every kill in exact detail.”
“What do you mean?”
“Every death I inflict, I remember, and the tally is in my head. Today I might not have cut some down with my sword, but their terror and panic as the lightning struck are etched in my memory. I can replay their deaths anytime. I can tell you about their hair and eye colour. What race, gender and details of their attire.”
“Why? Why would the gods make you do that?”
“I don’t think they forced this on me. I do not want to become a Ysgramor or Pelinal Whitestrake or Tiber Septim. I have to minimise death and destruction. I have to make sure I do not sink into barbarism. The Divines expect me to kill for them, but it will be on my terms.”
“Would you use that Shout again?”
“I doubt that very much. It is too indiscriminate. It takes no notice of those who wish to flee or who my allies are. It would have killed you if you hadn’t remained at my side. I regret using it, but I have learned, as I did with the Mayhem spell.”
“I hope it scared that bastard!”
“I know seeing him was a terrible shock to you. I thought you might have nightmares, but you slept soundly.”
“When you are near me, the world seems quieter and fewer worries plague me.”
“It is like an unnatural calm.”
“We had better get moving before somebody finds us. I have had enough killing for today.”
“Do you know where to go?”
“As I said when we left the battlefield, this track probably circles the mountain and leads to The Reach.”
“As usual, lead on, my Dragonborn.”
We walked the horses down to the trail and climbed aboard. The weather was still grey, but my mood had lightened considerably.
We rode around the small rocky outcrop that the tent was on.
I said to Rigmor, “It looks like those flags indicate where the trail continues.”
“That is clever! It is impossible to see the track in the snow. Not enough people use it.”
The snow soon gave way to the grasslands of The Reach. We were back in Skyrim.
A river loomed in front of us. I could have crossed it and gone over the mountains. Instead, I chose to head east towards Dragons Bridge.
Rigmor asked, “Is that another Dwemer ruin?”
“Yes, and it seems some archaeologists or treasure hunters have been working the site.”
As we rode past a dragon burial mound, I said to Rigmor, “Alduin will visit here, and the dead dragon will rise from the ground alive and uninjured.”
“Is Alduin’s Thu’um that powerful?”
“I have no idea what the souls Alduin is consuming in Sovngarde will let him do. I suppose I will find out when I finally confront him.”
“Remember, when we read the Emblems of the seven thousand steps, one of them said they Shouted Alduin out of the world.”
“None of the Shouts I have learned could do that. There are more powerful ones, but I only know the first Word of Power for each of those. None of them could do that to Alduin either.”
“You said to Arngeir that the Greybeards couldn’t dictate when you are ready.”
“Maybe that was a bit presumptive.”
“He wouldn’t hold back that Shout, would he?”
“He might not even know it. I believe he knows only half of the Shouts that Lady Kyne gifted me.”
“But if he did know it and Alduin’s dragons were killing innocents?”
“One-day Alduin will win, and this age will end. It has occurred many times, but all traces of the previous ages are eliminated. Some people who want this age to end may try to stop me or simply not help me.”
“I was taught that, but it is hard to comprehend. If there is a natural cycle of destruction and rebirth, why do we panic so much over Daedric Princes?”
“Take Mehrunes Dagon, for instance. He wanted to conquer and dominate, not destroy. But if one of the Daedric Princes destroyed Nirn, it would not renew. The natural cycle would be broken.”
‘So Alduin destroying Nirn is good compared to a Daedric Prince doing it.”
“Imagine if that was a choice offered to somebody. Let Alduin or a Dark Lord destroy everything and everyone they know. No other options available.”
We rode past a Forsworn settlement, but they did not attack.
Rigmor said, “The Reachmen have a savage reputation.”
“The local ones are called Forsworn after the Markarth Incident.”
“Isn’t that where Ulfric became famous?”
“Yes, he liberated Markarth from the Reachmen then demanded the right for Nords to worship Talos, which would have breached the White-Gold Concordat.”
“He must have known The Empire would not agree to that?”
“They could not agree to that. Ulfric was after publicity. It helped him recruit many Nords who later became Stormcloaks.”
“Why have the Forsworn not attacked us?”
“We have presented no threat to them, and they are not mindless savages.”
The ride was pleasant. I knew if we kept going east, we would soon see Dragon’s Bridge.
From a relatively high vantage point we could see no Thalmor presence so rode into the town.
Rigmor commented, “There are a lot of Penitus Oculatus here.”
“See that small, square tower? That is their headquarters in Skyrim.”
“What do the Emperor’s guards do in Skyrim? He only visits occasionally.”
“The Blades used to be the Emperor’s guards but were replaced by the Penitus Oculatus after the Oblivion Crises. The Blades then became spies and occasionally assassins. The Aldmeri Dominion killed most of The Blades just before the Great War. One of the trigger points was when they sent Emperor Mede their heads.”
“Since there are not many Blades still breathing, the Penitus Oculatus now do a lot of the spying and gathering of intelligence.”
As we approached the exit, I could see some weird looking monks in the distance.
I jumped off Hashire when I saw them running towards us. Rigmor joined me.
They stopped close to me, and I could tell they were scrutinising me. I could feel beady eyes behind their weird masks.
One of them asked, “Are you the one they call the Dragonborn?”
“Are you the one they call ‘Brown Nose’ because you are always sticking it into other people’s business?”
The monk said, “Your lies fall of deaf ears, Deceiver! We know you are the False Dragonborn!”
I loudly replied, “I AM SORRY, I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE DEAF. I DID NOT LIE. I ASKED YOU A QUESTION.”
Rigmor laughed even louder.
“You shall not stand in the way of the true Dragonborn’s return. He comes soon, and we shall offer him your heart!”
“Sorry, I have already given that to somebody else.”
Rigmor said, “Aww, that is so sweet!”
The monk’s head swivelled between Rigmor and me. She probably thought we were insane. I gave a hand signal, and Rigmor drew her sword as I drew mine.
The monk’s last words on Nirn were, “When Lord Miraak appears all shall bear witness. None shall stand to oppose him!”
The monk prepared to cast a spell.
I grabbed her arm then turned her around. I thrust my sword into her back to its hilt. She would have seen its point briefly as the blade tore through her ribcage at an angle. She died within seconds of attacking me. Rigmor used two mighty swings to dispose of the other two monks.
“Who or what were they?” asked Rigmor.
“I have no idea, but she sounded like a Dunmer.”
I removed the monk’s mask, and my suspicion proved correct.
Rigmor asked, “Are they all Dunmer?”
We removed the masks of the other two. All were Dunmer.
I searched the corpse of their spokesperson and found a written order. I read it to Rigmor,
“Board the vessel Northern Maiden docked at Raven Rock. Take it to Windhelm then begin your search. Kill the False Dragonborn known as Wulf before he reaches Solstheim.
Return with word of your success, and Miraak will be most pleased.”
Rigmor said, “You asked Arngeir if there could be more than one Dragonborn at the same time.”
“I wanted to make sure I was the Dragonborn expected to deal with Alduin.”
“He didn’t say there couldn’t be more than one. He just said you were the only one that he knew of.”
“I am not a ‘False Dragonborn’. Wouldn’t Kyne feel silly if I was.”
Rigmor laughed then said, “Excuse me, Wulf. I made a terrible mistake. Can you please forget all those Words of Power and Shouts I gifted you?”
“Well, until instructed otherwise, I don’t think I will do anything about ‘Lord Miraak’.”
“Would you have to travel to Solstheim?”
“It would probably be better than waiting for him to be powerful enough to land in Tamriel.”
“How did they know there was a Dragonborn, your name and where to find you?”
“I have no idea. There may be many of these Ashlander Monks looking for me, and they are better informed about my possible whereabouts than Aedriath is about yours. Maybe they even receive help from a Daedric Prince. All of this is pure speculation.”
“So, forget about it for now but keep an eye out for creepy monks in masks?”
“Basically. Let’s get moving before the guards come asking questions.”
There were no other encounters on the relatively short trip between Dragons Bridge and Solitude.
I hired a carriage to take us to Falkreath.
My shoulder was a convenient pillow for Rigmor once more. This time she held my hand as she slept.
By the time we mounted our horses at the exit to Falkreath, it was dark and not long after 7:30 PM.
The ride to Angi’s was uneventful, and her shack was a welcome sight.
We heard Meeko from quite a distance away letting everybody know we were coming. So, it was no surprise to find Sorella and him waiting for us.
- Sorella: Hi Rigmor! Hi Guardian!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Rigmor: Hey! Hi there Sorella. Have you been OK?
- Sorella: Yeah, Angi is so cool. She said she would teach me everything she knows so I can be a huntress someday.
- Rigmor: That sounds great.
- Sorella: She is also going to teach me how to put arrows in the bad guys’ heads.
- Rigmor: Is that so? Haha! I’m glad I’m not one of those bad guys then.
- Wulf: Has Meeko been behaving himself?
- Sorella: He and Angi and your friend Lydia have helped me when I have been sad.
- Wulf: Where is Lydia? And the goat?
- Sorella: Roskr is down the hill a bit. He likes the grass there and seems to spend all day eating it. Lydia has gone to Falkreath to get some supplies for Angi.
- Wulf: Roskr, the old Nord word for sturdy, vigorous and brave. That is a perfect name for him.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Sorella: Rigmor, your friend Baa’Ren-Dar is here. I have never met a Khajiit before. He seems very nice.
- Rigmor: Can you please talk to Baa’Ren-Dar, Guardian? I am too tired.
Rigmor walked to her tent and gave a small wave to Baa’Ren-Dar as she passed him. Sorella and Meeko joined Angi around the fire.
I walked up to the emissary and said, “It is good to see you Baa’Ren-Dar. I would love to know how you travel around so fast. Cyrodiil, Elsweyr and back so quickly. And I can guess how you knew we would be back here tonight.”
“Well met Dragonborn. This one has tricks he does not want others to know, but they are not important right now. Rigmor, is she alright? What has happened?”
“We met Tilar Aedriath and his minions. It came as a shock to Rigmor.”
“You met Tilar Aedriath and brought her back to me alive! Khajiit is once again thankful to the gods for their excellent choice of a Guardian. They have chosen wisely, indeed.”
“We travelled to High Hrothgar, and The Divines gifted me with more powers that I can use to protect Rigmor. I am beginning to think she is special to them.”
“She is special to another god as well.”
“Azura. Maybe Rigmor is part Khajiit?”
“Ask her to speak Ta’agra. You will see there is a great lack of Khajiit!”
‘You knew that Aedriath was her tormentor in Haven.”
“Did you find any information on the whereabouts of Sigunn?”
“We are going to talk about your decision not to tell her about Aedriath.”
“This one knew, yes, but Rigmor needed the courage to find her destiny. Knowing who Tilar Aedriath was would have brought fear into the equation.”
“I understand, but the chances Aedriath confronting her were high if he discovered her whereabouts. She escaped under his watch, and that could not have been good for his reputation or ego. He was looking forward to revenge. I made him flee fearing for his life instead.”
“This one had hoped there would be no contact, alas, Khajiit misjudged. Rigmor has been dealt a blow deep in her heart.”
“She was distraught but seemed to have recovered during our travels this afternoon. But when she saw you, she became upset again.”
Rigmor cried out in her nightmare. I was more than familiar with it and knew how to calm her down.
Baa’Ren-Dar stared at the tent and said with concern in his voice, “The last time she was like this, was after the rescue.”
“Tell me about the rescue inside the tent. My presence will stop Rigmor’s nightmares, and we will not wake her.”
I sat on the chair next to Rigmor. She opened her eyes, saw me there and smiled. Within seconds she closed her eyes once more and fell into a deep sleep, and the familiar sound of her slow breathing filled my soul.
Baa’Ren-Dar sat on the floor and watched Rigmor. When she fell asleep, he sighed with relief.
He said, “This one can see a unique bond has developed. Rigmor finally discussed her time in Haven?”
“Yes, and, as you said she would, that made her relive some of it. So much so she had to tell me in chapters. Her scars are now mine, and I will punish those who hurt us.”
“This one can see in your eyes that is no idle boast. Khajiit have warriors like you. Meek as kittens till you see the Tiger in their eyes.”
“Rigmor will be back to herself after a restful sleep. Unless I am close, her nightmares continue. She does not remember them on waking. At first, I could not calm her. For many nights she cried out in terror and whimper like a beaten dog. You have seen Rigmor like this before?”
“When Khajiit smuggled Rigmor out of Valenwood, she was gravely ill. Khajiit bought her the best physicians coin could buy. Khajiit nursed her back from the darkness. This one thought she was mute. Rigmor never uttered a single word for six months.”
“When did that change? Now she talks frequently and with great enthusiasm about even the most mundane of things.”
“One day, Khajiit couldn’t find her anywhere. In a panic, this one searched high and low, and there she was, in my library.”
“It would have reminded her of trips to the Imperial City with Sigunn.”
“Correct. Rigmor had rediscovered herself. She knew her name, who her father was, and…”
“She remembered what happened to her when a slave. Rigmor never told me about her loss of memory. I have lost mine. Or more accurately, it was taken by The Divines. No wonder she has had such empathy for my problem.”
“Rigmor and you both have much in common it seems. Perhaps her destiny is entwined with yours.”
That thought had occurred to me more than once, and it terrified me. Would I want the woman I love put in constant danger simply by being near me, the Dragonborn? If Rigmor’s destiny includes danger without me there, could I trust others to keep her safe? I have decided to let many things sort themselves out when worrying will do nothing to change the outcome. That is one of them.
I asked Baa’Ren-Dar, “Can you tell me how you rescued Rigmor?”
“It is a long story, are you sure you want to hear it?”
“That one should know my answer.”
“Yes, this father has seen what is in my child’s heart and yours.”
“As I said, Baa’Ren-Dar, her scars and now my scars.”
‘It was a cold and dark night, and it had been raining for three days. Khajiit emissaries had been instructed to travel to Valenwood. We were to be entertained by the Thalmor at their embassy in Haven. The Dominion had been trying to improve relations with Elsweyr. They were hoping Khajiit would help more in countering moon sugar smuggling. This one was an influential emissary based in Torval, just over the border.”
Rigmor’s hand reached for mine. I held it and waited for Baa’Ren-Dar to continue the recounting.
Baa’Ren-Dar looked closely at Rigmor and realised she still slept. I knew she offered her hand for my comfort. Call it gobblygook if you wish.
Baa’Ren-Dar continued, “The party continued late into the night, and the Thalmor were full of themselves with drunken arrogance. Khajiit emissaries were about to leave when Thalmor insisted on showing a spectacle.”
I closed my eyes, and it was if I looked through Baa’Ren-Dar’s as his voice told the tale.
“The spectacle, they boasted, was the daughter of the ‘Beast of Hammerfell’ that they kept locked in a cage in the dungeon.”
The old Khajiit’s voice wavered as he relived his nightmare.
“We felt compelled to comply. We went down into the cells, and there was Rigmor…lying very still.”
My tears were flowing, and my anger was growing. But still, I watched through Baa’Ren-Dar’s eyes.
“They had torn the flesh from her back with their whips. Her blood ran in rivulets to the floor.”
I gasped, then opened my eyes. I cried, “They laughed, oh, how they laughed…”
Baa’Ren-Dar finished, “…but she was just a child!”
I said, “Rigmor still can’t sleep on her back. I have never heard of physical scars that can’t be healed. It is a cruel thing our gods have done to her.”
“What you just did only the best seers can do.”
“It was not me Baa’Ren-Dar. Maybe Rigmor wanted me to see what they did. Maybe she wants me to understand the fears that the heartless beast has instilled in her. We have a bond we are just beginning to understand. It is like a sharing of souls, but in reality, it is impossible to describe. Please, continue.”
Baa’Ren-Dar looked between Rigmor and me, smiled then continued, “Khajiit knew that he would need to rescue her or she would surely die in that filthy cell.”
“How did you get Rigmor out of there? Even though she is small, at fourteen, she would still have been hard to conceal.”
“Khajiit quickly made arrangements and had everything in place. A planned distraction allowed this one time to pick the lock on the cage. Rigmor was almost starved and smaller than she should have been. This one wrapped her in his robe, picked her up and carried her to an awaiting carriage. She was transported to a boat which in turn transported her to my home in Torval.”
“You risked your life and your career for Rigmor. I can’t express how grateful I am or how much I admire you for it.”
“It took a long time for her to recover. She has become very special to Khajiit. This one loves and cares for her deeply.”
“She loves you too, Baa’Ren-Dar. She speaks proudly of you.”
“She will need to rest for a while.”
“I have been trying to arrange good and restful sleep each night for Rigmor, but it is hard with so many hunting her. Many are now hunting me for a different reason. I am now Thane of Whiterun and have purchased a beautiful house there. It is a safe place, and I hope we can use that more often.”
“Thane is not a minor title. Nobility has its uses, Dragonborn.”
“It does not sit well with me. But yes, I can see it may help sometimes.”
“Did that Sethri have any information? Did you find anything out about Sigunn?”
“Sethri told us she might be mentioned on a slavers list. He told us where we might find the list. It was inside an old fort near the border. It was a staging point for slavers working on an island off the coast.”
“Is that where you met Aedriath?”
“We had to fight our way through the fort to recover the list. Sigunn is on it. When we exited, Aedriath was waiting with many men to apprehend us. I killed dozens but let him escape. I wanted him to take the news back to the New Order that they now faced Rigmor and the Dragonborn.”
“That was a good strategic move, but Khajiit has warned the Dragonborn, Aedriath is a master at deception. When you think you have won, he will produce a winning hand when it seemed he had nothing.”
“I would be negligent to dismiss your warning Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“Where does the slavers list say Sigunn is being kept?”
“A place called Diamond Ridge Mine.”
“This one has heard of this place. It is not far from the border with High Rock. This one will investigate and find a place on the map. Meanwhile, I have a very special mission for you and Rigmor.”
“Something to do with destroying the New Order I hope.”
“Yes. This one had spoken to friends in high places, and we all agreed to keep this whole affair top secret. Elisif will be getting extra protection and will not be informed unless it becomes absolutely necessary. However, we must be diligent and prepare for an imminent invasion.”
“Normally, I would disagree with such secrecy. Jarl Elisif has every right to know her life is in danger. But I understand we are trying to convince the New Order their plans are unknown to us.”
“That is what we hope to do. So, you and Rigmor are going to help by brokering a peace deal so we can prepare for such an invasion.”
“I would like nothing more than to stop this insane civil war even if just for a short time. Perhaps if they fight next to each other once more, they will not be so keen to renew killing each other after we defeat the New Order.”
“Tullius and Ulfric must be persuaded to break off their civil war plans, but the New Order is not to be alarmed in any way. We must use deception and we must have that truce Dragonborn.”
“They are aware we attacked Fort Black so they must suspect we know of their plans. Why not let them know the Emperor will not fall for their ruse, and The Empire will be ready to repel any invasion?”
“Dragonborn knows of Thalmor arrogance. The New Order is worse. They will dismiss the raid on Fort Black as inconsequential. They will think their plans infallible. When they think they have defeated us, we will spring the trap and crush them. We will no longer have to worry about them trying again.”
“Yet we will probably lose cities, villages and maybe even Holds before stopping them. We should be preventing their invasion, not allowing it! Both the collateral damage and acceptable losses will be too great!”
“This one has learned to accept the least offensive solution rather than none at all. This plan is what is agreed to and is better than doing nothing.”
“And I have no doubt the Dragonborn will be expected to comply and kill as directed.”
“It is for Rigmor’s sake that you may have to do these unpleasant things.”
“I will do these things because I cannot refuse to act when I may save lives. Even if I have to take lives doing so.”
“The Emperor will keep his army in Cyrodiil.”
“Outlying Legions will not be brought in from the borders as that would make the New Order suspicious. Combined Empire and Stormcloak units will need to stop the New Order’s Northern Army Group in Skyrim.”
“You have a good strategic mind, Dragonborn. Hjaalmarch and Morthal will be our focus points. Stop them there, and we can throw them back into the sea.”
“They will besiege Solitude and Windhelm. Whiterun will be key. If it falls, it will make it difficult to win the war. In that situation I would expect all Legions will be brought inland to defend Cyrodiil and for the Emperor to cross into Skyrim. As long as the Dominion does not interfere, the New Order will inevitably lose. But that is a worst-case scenario. We need to stop them from taking Whiterun.”
“Even if that means allowing higher ‘acceptable losses’?”
“Those who issue the commands can battle with their conscious. I will do what I can to minimise death, and that means helping defend Whiterun.”
“The planners say that if Whiterun falls with Solitude and Windhelm besieged, all is lost. They say the Northern Army Group will march south and join forces with the Southern Army Group. They would then crush Mede’s army in Cyrodiil. Tamriel will be theirs for the taking.”
“That is untrue! Place a Legion on the bridge and the New Order would never take the Imperial City. High Rock would not sit by and their knights, if they take time out from killing each other, are a formidable force that could sweep down through The Reach in an unstoppable tide of steel and horse. I doubt the Reachmen, especially the Forsworn, would welcome the Altmer. Most Redguards would rather fight to defend Cyrodiil than let the Altmer have it. I can’t see the New Order winning. The much larger Aldmeri Dominion failed to do so. What I can see is too much bloodshed. Too many civilians will die and suffer. That is why we must defend Whiterun. Not because some idiots think we would lose the war!”
“This one thinks much the same, Dragonborn. Sometimes they exaggerate the consequences of a potential loss to make troops more determined to win.”
“A soldier fights best when defending loved ones and their home. No fake hysteria is going to make them fight harder. Who do Rigmor and I have to speak to, and more importantly, why would they listen?”
“You will need to visit Casius Varon and Yngol Storm-Blade. You will not be able to see Ulfric or Tullius.”
“Neither would decline to speak to the Dragonborn if only to try and recruit me. But working through trusted advisors is best. They can alleviate any concerns about the authenticity of the information provided.”
“Yes, you must convince them, and they must convince their leaders. Give them these letters.”
Baa’Ren-Dar handed me two sealed letters. An impressive number of diplomats, emissaries and other military and civilian leaders had signed the outside of each.
“They will at least listen to the Dragonborn but does Rigmor play a part in this? I would rather not take her into danger if not.”
“Rigmor is crucial in gaining their trust, Dragonborn. Both men fought under her father in Hammerfell.”
“Maybe Rigmor can learn about some of her father’s exploits. All she has at the moment are the false accusations.”
“Both men will be expecting you. Take the Imperial uniforms I have left with Angi and wear them when you visit Varon. Remember, you are still both wanted.”
“Rigmor is wanted by some Thalmor, not the Legion. We have passed Thalmor who did not try and apprehend her. Rigmor will wear the uniform in case New Order sympathisers are in the camp. I am not going to hide my identity. Even if they are there and recognise me as the Dragonborn, an escort of one Legionnaire is not going to cause suspicion. Let them speculate if that occurs.”
“Dragonborn has a lot of confidence in his decisions. This one thinks Dragonborn would make a fine ruler.”
“I can’t second guess myself, Baa’Ren-Dar. I must believe I am right and learn if I am wrong.”
“Go and speak to these two men while Khajiit finds the location of Diamond Ridge Mine.”
“Rigmor will be fine in the morning though she will regret not talking to you.”
I watched the old Khajiit walk out of the camp. He is a remarkable individual.
Lydia had returned with Roskr while I was speaking with Baa’Ren-Dar. I had seen her enter Angi’s shack. I took a quick peek, and she was asleep on a bedroll in the main room. I had provided her with a tent, but it seems Angi has made room for her inside.
Meeko came trotting up, and I whispered, “I am going to sit next to Rigmor now and might fall asleep. But you will guard us, won’t you?”
A quiet bark served as Meeko’s affirmative answer.
I took my place next to Rigmor and fell into a deep sleep.
I did not wake till Sorella playing tag with a noisy goat and louder dog startled me. Rigmor remained asleep despite the noise, and I decided to let her wake in her own time.
Angi called Sorella in to help with some chores. Lydia was sitting in front of the fire.
When Lydia saw me, she started to rise. I waved her down and sat in the other chair.
I said, “I must apologise Lydia. You expected to be my Housecarl, yet I sent you miles away from Whiterun to guard a stranger.”
“I must admit that being your Housecarl will be a little different than what I expected. But I am glad I got to meet Angi and Sorella. We have become close friends.”
“You completed a sentence without ‘my Thane’ in it?”
“Rigmor explained to me how much it annoyed you, so we decided to play on it.”
“I guessed as such. So, I am now just Wulf?”
“Yes, my Thane.”
Lydia smiled, but it did not hide her grief. I asked, “Did you hear news of Bjorn?”
“He is not on the known deceased list. There are many bodies they recovered but can’t identify. There are almost as many missing. I hold no hope he survived.”
“I am so sorry. I cannot imagine your pain.”
“Sorella understands and is a remarkable child. We have shared our grief. Angi is full of compassion, and Meeko lends his strength. Together we have cried ourselves hoarse. The sadness remains, but I will move forward like Bjorn would want me to.”
‘I know which dragon destroyed Helgen. I am destined by prophecy to face him in battle, and I must defeat him. Would you like to fight by my side and help avenge Bjorn?”
“That would be a pleasure.”
“That is in the future. Rigmor and I have to deal with another danger to The Empire. Let me explain…”
For the next hour, I explained to Lydia the details of the New Order, the events that had already occurred and what the next steps were. Her questions were incisive, and it became apparent she had been wasted as a Whiterun Guard.
After we had exhausted the topic of the New Order, I said, “That armour. It is probably as old as what I am wearing. It is superb!”
“It is Adrianne’s family heirloom. It was handed down from Shieldmaiden to Shieldmaiden. But Adrianne has never developed the skills to be competent on a battlefield. She has dedicated her life to becoming a blacksmith which is her passion. She was wondering what to do with the armour then you became Thane and me your Housecarl. She gifted it to me as it has dweomer on it that protects against many things, and she decided that if you are fighting dragons, I needed the best.”
“Gifted? It must be worth a fortune!”
“It is an honour for her to do so. It will be a source of pride to see her family armour worn by the Dragonborn’s Housecarl. She has also made armour for you. She said what you are wearing is superb, but a bit tight and leaves too much vulnerable space.”
“I will not allow her to go without payment!”
“May I suggest you hand payment to her husband. He will not refuse if the Dragonborn gives him no choice. The armour I saw her making contains ebony. The materials would cost a fortune.”
“This armour is a bit small. I will proudly wear what Adrianne has made for me.”
“It will be in a trunk in the armoury in Breezehome. She was going to ask her father to open the house briefly while she puts it there.”
“Any other surprises waiting in Breezehome?”
“Some things I will discuss with Rigmor if you don’t mind.”
“No, I visited Ri’saad. He was even kind enough to have one of the ladies attend to me.”
Rigmor called my name from her tent. I excused myself and went to speak to her.
Rigmor looked a bit disoriented, which is not an unknown phenomenon for many upon waking.
“Is Baa’Ren-Dar still here?”
“He left when you were asleep. He understands that meeting Aedriath was a shock and seemed upset he had miscalculated the chances of us encountering him.”
“I had one of my nightmares, but this one was different. I was not afraid. Baa’Ren-Dar was there to rescue me, but I knew you were there as well. Watching, and I was comforted.”
“In a way, I was. I watched the time he first saw you through his eyes. I think Baa’Ren-Dar has seen such transferred visions before, but I am just too jaded by all the gobblygook to be amazed.”
“So now you know everything.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar told me how you lost your memory for months. How reading in his library brought them back to you. That is eerily similar to one of the reasons why I write my journals. I imagine I would be standing in a library and read about Wulf and get my memories back.”
“I told him about the information Sethri gave us and how we retrieved the slavers list with Sigunn on it. I described our encounter with Aedriath and how I let him go. He says that was a good move, but we have to be careful of Aedriath as he is a master of deception. That is twice Baa’Ren-Dar has warned me about that.”
“Did he know where the Diamond Ridge Mine is?”
“He said he has heard of it and it is on the border with High Rock. He has gone to find its exact location.”
“And what are our plans?”
“The big ruse Baa’Ren-Dar and others have devised require the New Order to think we are unaware of their plans. To counter the army that invades Skyrim, we must meet it with a combined force. You and I are to help broker a treaty between The Empire and Stormcloaks.”
“How are we supposed to do that?”
“We will meet with two men who have their respective leaders trust. We shall hand them some information and they will hopefully convince Ulfric and General Tullius to declare a truce. The two men we are to meet both served with your father. We are hoping that will convince them what we say is true.”
“When do we go?”
“After you have had something to eat. Lydia has prepared some porridge and is sitting by the fire.”
“He was not on the casualty list. Lydia has accepted he is dead.”
“I don’t know what to say to people in that position.”
“None of us do.”
Rigmor went and sat with Lydia. I entered the shack to talk to Angi.
Sorella gave up her seat so that I could sit next to Angi.
- Angi: Is it true? Are you the legendary Dragonborn?”
- Wulf: I am a Dragonborn. We will have to see if I become legendary.
- Sorella: That is so cool! Can you breathe fire?
- Wulf: From both ends if I eat too many beans.
That sent Sorella into a fit of giggles. Angi just gave me a cold stare.
- Wulf: I hope you understand why I sent Lydia here?
- Angi: At first, I was offended, but then I realised that it was not just me you wanted to guard.
- Wulf: We have made powerful enemies. They kidnapped Rose, and if they discover this place, they will try the same.
- Angi: Baa’Ren-Dar told me a bit about what is happening.
- Wulf: I bet he didn’t tell you that Rigmor helped me fight a dragon.
- Sorella: No way!
- Wulf: Yes way!
- Sorella: Was it big?
- Wulf: Its teeth were over a foot long! Its head was larger than a mammoth!
- Sorella: No way!
- Wulf: Yes way!
- Angi: Lydia said you are the Thane of Whiterun.
- Wulf: Yes. Awarded by the Jarl for killing the dragon that threatened Whiterun.
- Angi: I hope you don’t take advantage of Lydia just because you are some jumped up noble!
- Wulf: I am in no way jumped up, and I will remind you a child is present.
- Sorella: If you are going to talk about that baby stuff I already know.
- Wulf: I thank you for letting Lydia sleep inside.
- Angi: I was shocked when she started to pitch a tent!
- Wulf: And I thank you for comforting her about Bjorn. I knew nothing of that sad event when I sent her to you.
- Angi: Angi, Lydia and I have had some good crying sessions together. That helps.
- Sorella: Meeko knows when Lydia or I am sad. Sometimes he will just be there for us to pat. Sometimes he will do something goofy to make us laugh. He likes to fetch sticks which is weird. I throw it, and he brings it back. I throw it, and he brings it back. I got a sore arm trying to see how many times he would do that! I even threw it into the valley, and he came back with it half an hour later.
- Angi: I am not sure if your dog is a dog. But he has been a great comfort to all of us.
- Wulf: And has Roskr behaved himself?
- Sorella: He cries if you remove any of that stuff he is carrying!
- Angi: Worse than a new-born baby, so we have let it be. He keeps Sorella company so I can forgive his poop all over the place.
- Wulf: Rigmor and I will be leaving again after she has had her breakfast. If all goes to plan, we should be back in a couple of days.
- Sorella: Where are you going to go?
- Wulf: We are going to stop a war.
- Sorella: No way!
- Wulf: Yes way!
By the time Rigmor was ready to leave, it was just after 8:00 AM.
Instead of following the long, winding trail from Angi’s to the main road, I decided to plunge down the grassy covered hills instead. The horses and Rigmor seemed to enjoy the thrill of it.
Most travelling parties were better armed and able to defend themselves than even a week ago.
To get to Yngol’s Stormcloak camp, I decided to go through Riverwood. That meant travelling through the ruins of Helgen. We entered the gate and found bandits had already moved in.
I leapt off Hashire and into a tower where I surprised two of them.
“You fucking vermin!” I yelled before I did the Slow Time Shout.
The last one toppled to the ground just as Rigmor came running in.
We walked the horses through the rest of Helgen till we came across three more bandits.
I used Cyclone, and they flew high into the air.
A mage landed in front of me and broke his neck.
The other two bandits landed behind me. Rigmor sliced one open just after he landed.
The other staggered to his feet only to die seconds later.
Rigmor said, “It is sad to see the town left to slime like these.”
“I wonder if the jarl of Falkreath will bother rebuilding.”
“Did I tell you Angi thinks he is an ass?”
As we approached Riverwood, I was surprised to come across a Stormcloak patrol. Whiterun is neutral, and no Imperial patrols are allowed within the Hold. I let the matter be and did not risk a confrontation.
It was a pleasant day which meant we encountered more travellers than usual.
We entered Riverwood just after 11:00 AM.
As we crossed the Riverwood bridge, I said to Rigmor, “This is the type of place I could settle in. Be better if it was closer to the sea, though.”
“Not for me. There is a stink in the tavern.”
Just then there was a commotion at the end of the bridge.
Some pilgrims and their guards killed a couple of bandits. It seemed banditry was going to be a poor choice of a career now the citizens have had enough.
We stopped by one of the waterfalls to watch salmon trying to get upstream.
“Where are they going?” asked Rigmor.
“To their spawning grounds.”
“Where mummy and daddy salmon who like each other very much make little baby salmon.”
“Surely there are easier places to meet and, you know, do the business.”
“Only the fittest salmon will make it to the spawning ground. That means the young should be stronger and fitter than if their parents just met at a fish tavern and hired a room.”
“That makes sense.”
“A fish walks into a tavern all out of breath, and the barkeeper asks, ‘Can I get you something?’ The fish replies, ‘I am dying for a glass of water.’”
“Come on Ben. I don’t know if it contagious, but why take the risk?”
As Rigmor and Ben trotted ahead, Hashire and I laughed.
It seemed like every Man or Argonian, and his dog was out for a walk.
At one stage, we crossed a bridge next to a very high waterfall.
“Why do I have the urge to leap over that waterfall?” asked Rigmor.
“I have no idea. I haven’t told another fish joke.”
When we came upon a large area of sand and rock, I said to Rigmor, “There will be hot mineral water under much of that land.”
“It doesn’t seem to be used for farms and such.”
“I am sure Ashlanders could make use of it. I bet Solstheim is very much like that.”
A little later, Rigmor asked, “You haven’t been following signs. Have you got us lost?”
“No, we are just staying off the main road to Windhelm. If we cross the river here, we should be able to ride across the wastelands and end up in Kynesgrove. The Stormcloak camp is not far from there. We passed it on the way to Windhelm the other day.”
We rode through Kynesgrove, and I told Rigmor, “There is another dragon burial mound not far from here. It might not be too good for the locals if Alduin resurrects him.”
“But it is no use warning them is there?”
“I don’t know what order or when Alduin will resurrect dragons. The one here might be months away. It could be today.”
We rode into Yngol’s camp. Nobody challenged us.
I was going to ask one of the Stormcloaks where Yngol was when a deep baritone voice started issuing orders. We simply followed the voice and soon found him.
Yngol was a huge man. For once I would have to look up into somebody else’s face.
We made our way onto the overhang where Yngol was standing. He waited for me to approach.
- Wulf: Excuse me, are you Yngol Storm-Blade?
- Yngol: Depends, who’s asking?
- Wulf: I believe you were told to expect us. We are here on a very urgent matter.
- Yngol: You must be Rigmor’s Guardian, right?
Yngol moved to stand in front of Rigmor. She looked like a child next to him.
- Yngol: And you must be Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Hey, I’m sorry I…
- Yngol: I served with your father in Hammerfell child. If there’s anything you need, anything, just say the word. My sword is yours to command.
- Wulf: That is very generous Yngol.
- Yngol: A courier came by yesterday and handed me a note. It said you were coming and it was about something important, but it didn’t mention what.
- Wulf: Before we get to that, I heard you talking to your men about a missing patrol and breaches in the wall?
- Yngol: Yeah, an Imperial charge made a breach in the east wall just before you arrived. They tested us all night by probing our defences.
- Wulf: Sounds like they are only keeping you on your toes. An attack on this camp would be a significant escalation.
- Yngol: Up until now, it’s been a phoney war. Then that sly old dog Casius Varon decided to sit his Legion on The Pale border with Whiterun. I advised Ulfric to set up a garrison here in case he makes a move.
- Wulf: It sounds like you are familiar with Varon?
- Yngol: Yeah, we both served under Jonna in the Great War. He was in the Legion at the time, and I was in a Nord Volunteer Brigade. He disappeared for a time after the treaty, then we found and saved his sorry ass near the Brena River in Hammerfell. Apart from the occasional skirmish, we keep a respectful distance…for now.
- Wulf: Rigmor and I have seen Imperial and Stormcloak men butchered in your phoney war. Bandits run amok because there are no guard or Legion patrols.
- Yngol: There is a large band of marauders and bandits that has been causing a problem for the locals here in Eastmarch. They have been quiet lately since we set up camp here, but they’ve been spotted near Narzulbur.
- Wulf: The Orsimer Stronghold east of here?
- Yngol: Yes, we trade with them. There are some good people there. The patrol I sent out a few hours ago to check on them hasn’t reported back. I was about to head out myself and search for them.
- Wulf: Rigmor and I can accompany you if you wish. You will get to see Ragnar’s daughter in action if there is any trouble.
- Yngol: OK, let’s head out.
We followed Yngol out of camp. His horse was huge!
I let Yngol get ahead a bit as I knew Rigmor would be full of questions. As we approached the dragon burial mound I had mentioned earlier, she asked, “Why are we going with Yngol? This little trip wasn’t in the plan!”
“Yngol will respect us more, and therefore more likely to believe what is in that envelope if he sees us in battle. It might be we only have to escort him there and back. That still shows our willingness to put ourselves in danger beside him.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar would be impressed by your sneaky diplomatic skills.”
Yngol stopped and dismounted to check something in the grass. We rode up to join him.
Two Stormcloaks were dead. It looked like they were ambushed and didn’t even get to draw their weapons.
Yngol stood, and I could see anger and determination on his face.
“Your missing patrol, Yngol?”
“Yeah, looks like the bandits have taken the trading post outside the stronghold as well. They would have killed the Orcs for sure…Gods damn it!”
“They are probably waiting for reinforcements before attempting to take the stronghold itself.”
“The murdering scum are not going to get away with it this time. This far and no further. It’s time for some payback.”
We approached the trading post. Some Orsimer strongholds have set up such places rather than allow outsiders into the stronghold. Once the Orsimer trust you, they let all other strongholds in Skyrim know your name. Till then, you are treated with suspicion.
Yngol called out, “Hey, assholes! Prepare to meet your makers! Yngol Storm-Blade is going to cut you a new one!”
The bandits threw back pathetic insults such as, “Where is your army Yngol. Back at that holiday camp of yours?”
The last one they uttered before they all died was, “Who is that you have got with you, your mother?”
I used my Thu’um and said,
“IT IS NOT HIS MOTHER BUT RIGMOR OF BRUMA. SHE IS A MIGHTY NORD WARRIOR WHO COULD KILL YOU ALL WITHOUT BREAKING A SWEAT. BUT SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO, AND YNGOL NEEDS NO ARMY. FOR I AM WULF, THE DRAGONBORN, AND YOU ARE ALL ABOUT TO DIE!”
I said to the stunned Yngol, “Let us see how many are hiding behind that wall.”
I then used the Cyclone Shout, and screams replaced the laughter of the bandits. Bandits, even those who thought themselves safe behind the wall, were sucked up into the air and dropped from varying heights.
I told Yngol, “Some bandits will land close to us. Just kill them. Then I will do another Shout before we kill those inside.”
Bandits landed nearby, some never to move again while others with broken bodies pleaded for mercy.
Yngol and Rigmor showed no mercy, as the bandits showed the Orsimer and Stormcloaks no mercy, and the slaughter began.
More bandits climbed the battlements while some poured out the front gate.
A second Cyclone hit them.
We quickly dispatched those who could still stand outside the compound.
Then we entered the compound and cut through the remaining bandits. Within a few minutes of the fight starting, every bandit was dead.
I approached Yngol and said, “The main stronghold should be safe now.”
“They were good people Guardian, Dragonborn, whoever you are. I should have come earlier, and then maybe they would still be alive.”
“Call me Guardian for that is what I am. Rigmor’s Guardian.”
“I need some time to myself.”
“Rigmor and I will check the buildings to see if there are any Orsimer survivors.”
We checked each building, but all we found were slaughtered merchants. Orsimer may be the Empire’s finest fighters, however unarmed merchants, even Orsimer ones, are not warriors. It was murder. We had delivered appropriate punishment to the murderers.
I approached Yngol, who had found some mead to help ease his anger and conscience, and said, “Sorry, we found only murdered unarmed merchants.”
“We need to head back and discuss why Rigmor and I risked coming to see you.”
“Sure, let’s head back.”
We followed the downcast Yngol back to his camp.
After we dismounted Yngol said, “Hey, you want a drink, something to eat? Knock yourselves out.”
Rigmor replied, “That would be nice.”
We sat at a table. I felt sorry for Yngol’s chair.
- Yngol: Hey, Rigmor! Did your father ever tell you about the war?
- Rigmor: No, he didn’t talk about it at all. I knew he had been a soldier, but I never knew anything else until his arrest. The stuff I read about him in the books, I didn’t want to believe. It wasn’t the person I knew.
- Yngol: Yeah, those scumsuckers in the Imperial City changed all that. Your father was a hero, a true Nord.
- Rigmor: That is what my Guardian said and that they need to be held accountable for changing the histories.
Yngol looked at me, and I hoped he didn’t compliment me. I did not want to befriend this man if I am to meet him on a battlefield at some stage.
- Yngol: Our berserk army sometimes had them running even before they drew their swords. The Altmer fought with courage, and I respected them for that. But we were all betrayed by the concordat. Mede sold us out, the bastard!
- Rigmor: What was my father really like?
- Yngol: As I said, he was a true Nord. He never broke the rules of combat and all that about war crimes! That is all dog crap, and character assassination dreamed up by Imperial politicians with their noses buried in Thalmor backsides.
- Wulf: Many on both sides of this civil war think The Empire sold them out.
- Yngol: Well, they did! But we weren’t done with the Elves, not until they rescinded their blasphemy against Talos and restored him to his rightful place.
Rigmor looked across to me and could see my restraint slipping. She held my hand under the table.
- Yngol: Ragnar had all his captains gather together then he said, ‘Tell the men, they can either go home to their farms or join me in Hammerfell!’. Every single man, every one of them, roared and bashed their swords against their shields. Girl, that was a sight to behold, ‘Ragnar, Ragnar, Ragnar!’ We spent a year in Hammerfell. I believe, true to my word, if we weren’t there side by side with the Redguard, Hammerfell would have fallen. The Dominion hated him for that.
Yngol was full of shit. How does Baa’Ren-Dar do this diplomacy stuff without going insane?
- Yngol: But I’m still curious about your companion, Rigmor. Let’s hear his story. Why are you here?
- Wulf: I am here to protect Rigmor and deliver this.
I handed Yngol his envelope. He read some of the signatures and surprise showed on his face. He opened the envelope and read its contents several times. After ten minutes of mumbling to himself, he folded the papers and stared at me.
- Yngol: You have got to be kidding me! This threat is serious. Yeah, it all seems to make sense. But why should I believe all this? I’m going to look a damn fool if it’s not true. Ulfric will have me crucified.
- Rigmor: Yngol, it is true, it is! Please!
- Yngol: What if it is a pack of lies, what if it is not true?
- Wulf: Rigmor told you it is true. If that is not enough, what about the word of the Dragonborn? I swear on The Divines that all of it is true.
- Yngol: No need Guardian, Rigmor’s word is enough. When the time comes, it will be an honour to fight and die by her side.
- Rigmor: No! I didn’t mean…
Yngol stood and said to me, “Guardian, go tell your man Rar Bendar, or whatever the hell his name is, that he has his army. Leave Ulfric to me.”
“It was an honour to fight by your side, Yngol.”
“To fight beside a Dragonborn is every Nord’s wet dream. And to see Rigmor wield that sword was something else.”
“The Thalmor and New Order are terrified of Rigmor.”
“When you see Casius that old goat, tell him I send my regards.”
Rigmor said, “We will Yngol.”
Yngol replied, “Ask him about your father, Rigmor. He has some very tall tales to tell.”
I said, “Thank you, Yngol until the time comes.”
“Farewell, Guardian, Rigmor.”
We climbed aboard our horses. Rigmor asked, “What next, my Dragonborn?”
“We will stay in Kynesgrove and head for Casius’ camp in the morning.”
It was a relatively short ride to Kynesgrove. We hitched our horses outside the ‘Braidwood Inn’.
I booked a room and ordered our meals.
After we finished a large roast and a pint of mead, we sat talking over a second pint.
I asked Rigmor, “Why do you think your father continued to fight after the war?”
“Yngol said it was because they wanted the Aldmeri Dominion to end the ban on Talos.”
“He called them Elves, a derogatory term for Mer. Do you think your father would keep fighting just because of the Talos ban?”
“No, he would have wanted to protect the Redguard people.”
“I appreciate Yngol agreeing to help, but he is similar to Ulfric in some of his views.”
“He was upset about the dead Orsimer.”
“And that is why I think he is a decent person. But I can’t like him too much.”
“If I get involved in the civil war, which is probably inevitable, I may have to face him on a battlefield. I would not want to have to kill a friend.”
“Oh. That would be terrible!”
“I wonder what would happen if Varon was ordered to attack Yngol’s camp or the other way around?”
“Others are killing friends and even family in this stupid war.”
“Would Talos want two warriors who fought so bravely for The Empire and Hammerfell to kill each other over him? I doubt it.”
“Yngol said one thing I didn’t understand.”
“What was that?”
“He said, ‘To fight beside a Dragonborn is every Nord’s wet dream.’ What is a wet dream?”
I spat a mouthful of mead over the table then used all my willpower not to burst out laughing.
I replied, “Umm…ask Lydia. She will tell you.”
“After I this morning when I asked her why men like to look at beavers, I don’t think so!”
That was me done. I could not control my laughter even if Rigmor drew her sword to shut me up.
Rigmor stared at me then whispered, “One day, when you least expect it, I will have my revenge, dear Dragonborn!”
She stormed off to our room, and I followed a while later.
Rigmor was already on the bed, and I could tell she was exhausted. When I pulled a chair over and sat down, she said, “I know what it means. I was hoping to make you squirm with embarrassment. But my promise of revenge is true. When you least expect it, I will be the one laughing.”
“Yeah, right! Pfft!”
“And Albatross is a stupid word!”
Rigmor smiled, closed her eyes and was asleep within minutes.
I went through the new kills in my head. Number three hundred since I awoke in the carriage was a young Breton mage. She flew the highest of any caught in Cyclone and plummeted to the ground mere feet away. Her eyes were wide with terror. Her scream ended with the sound of all air exiting her lungs and her bones snapping. There were another eleven after that.
I did not sleep because I did not trust people any more. I was getting as paranoid as Delphine.