Turdas, 28th Last Seed, 4E 201 & Fredas, 29th Last Seed, 4E 201

Rigmor of Bruma quests: Enemy of My Enemy, The Promise.

Skyrim quest: Delayed Burial.

We left Kynesgrove just after 7:15 AM.

I decided to skip the main roads and get to Varon’s camp via the mostly uninhabited planes.

“Guardian, another Mr Bear!”

“I am not looking at that rude thing!”

“What do you mean rude?”

“You can see its bare bum.”

“Dear Divines, can you please send me a new Dragonborn, this one is broken.”

We stopped near the Imperial Camp so Rigmor could change into her Legionnaire uniform. She did so behind some boulders. When she returned, she asked, “Well, how do I look?”

“Like the most beautiful woman in the entire Imperial Army.”

“Pfft, don’t think you are going to escape my revenge with that sort of cheap line. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep trying though.”

“At least they are providing trousers for the troops in these colder parts of Skyrim.”

“Yeah, the Legionnaires in the Imperial City look like they are wearing skirts.”

“The Imperial uniform is based on ancient Colovian designs.”

“That is boring information. I want to know if the Legionnaires wear underwear? Hahaha!”

Rigmor had an uncontrollable laughing attack. Every time I looked at her sternly, she would start laughing again.

“Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, do not, under any circumstance, ever call me weird again!”

When Rigmor finally got herself under control, we rode into the camp without being challenged.

We hitched the horses near the Command Tent.

“Is that him?” whispered Rigmor.

“There would not be many Legates out in the field, so, yeah, I guess so.”

I approached and asked, “Legate Varon, I assume?”

“Well met, Wulf. I have been expecting you. Please, you are not in uniform so call me Casius.”

“We have been sent to discuss what is outlined in this missive.”

I handed Casius the envelope, and like Yngol, he seemed impressed with the signatures adorning it. He removed the message and, like Yngol, read it several times while muttering to himself.

After five minutes or so he put the message back in the envelope then said, “This pretty young thing must be Rigmor. Please, both of you come and sit with me. Help yourself to refreshments.”

If I had called Rigmor a ‘pretty young thing’ I might have got away with just a sword to my throat. But she beamed at Casius as we made our way to a small table.

  • Casius: The message changes things. Have you spoken to Yngol?
  • Wulf: It might have been Yngol, or it could have been a mountain. It was hard to tell. But I did speak to it. And it did send its regards.
  • Rigmor: Wulf was happy to meet somebody larger than him.
  • Casius: Sends his regards? I bet he does, that old fox.
  • Wulf: Why have you set this camp up so near to The Pale’s border?”
  • Casius: There have been raiders crossing that border and ransacking farmsteads. I had this outpost built in an attempt to put a stop to them.
  • Wulf: Yngol thinks you are planning some sort of offensive.
  • Casius: Haha! Does he now? I like to cause him a few sleepless nights from time to time. But these raiders are my main concern at the moment.
  • Wulf: Are they taking advantage of the war and crossing from Stormcloak territory to Imperial territory then scampering back?
  • Casius: Yes. Their base of operations is Fort Dunstad.
  • Wulf: Is that an Imperial fort that the Stormcloaks have not bothered manning?
  • Casius: Yes, but I can’t cross over The Pale’s border to deal with them.
  • Rigmor: The Jarl might regard that as an act of aggression.
  • Casius: That’s right. Things could escalate very quickly.
  • Wulf: Maybe we can help you?
  • Casius: Are you suggesting a special operation? I like the sound of that Guardian. You would have my gratitude.
  • Rigmor: We would have to get in and out quickly and leave no witnesses.
  • Wulf: The Jarl would not suspect a thing. And what is there to complain about anyway? A nest of bandits being removed is never a bad thing.
  • Casius: Excellent! It’s is not far from here. Follow me!

Rigmor and I waited on our horses while Casius gave chores to any man he thought looked bored.

Then he ran out of the gate! We jumped down and ran at a jog. That was the most Rigmor could do as she was still recovering from her leap of faith. Casius easily outdistanced us.

Rigmor asked, “We are not doing this to make him trust us more, are we?”

“No, he is a bit different than Yngol in that regard.”

“You want to get rid of some bandits!”

“I hate vermin taking advantage of the war to prey on civilians.”

“You couldn’t get two more opposite in looks!”

“A huge mountain of a bearded Nord and a well-groomed Imperial gentleman.”

“And they ended up being friends. Now they might have to fight each other.”

“Too bad about Casius’ eyesight. It must have been damaged in battle.”

“What do you mean? I didn’t notice anything wrong with his eyes.”

“How else would you explain, ‘pretty young thing’? He must be blind!”

“Dragonborn, you are asking for a kick in the bollocks!”

“He should have said, ‘absolutely gorgeous woman’!”

 “Was that sincere, or is it you protecting your manhood?”

“Would I lie to the most beautiful woman in the entire Imperial Army?”

“You did say that, didn’t you? Still trying to wriggle out of my revenge I see.”

At one stage Casius looked behind and realised he was getting too far ahead. He adjusted his speed accordingly.

We stopped in front of Fort Dunstad just out of normal bow range. Casius yelled, “Bandits, raiders and thieves, you have been warned to stay out of Empire territory! You have chosen to ignore the warnings, but I give you one last chance to disband and disperse!”

The bandits saw a Legate, a tall noble milk-drinker and a skinny young Legionnaire. They were not intimidated, so the insults came thick and fast.

It was my turn,

“LEGATE VARON WAS MISTAKEN TO GIVE COWARDLY VERMIN A CHANCE. I AM WULF. I AM THE DRAGONBORN, AND I HATE BANDITS!”

I used the Dragon Aspect Shout and was instantly covered by glowing, translucent Dragonbone armour.

I said to Casius and Rigmor, “Stay to the left and right of the path and leave me clear access to the front gate. Cut them down when they land!”

Casius asked, “Cut them down when they land?”

I planned to get them angry and blow open the gates. The bandits would foolishly sally forth.

I knocked a few bandits over with Unrelenting Force.

The gates blew open and the bandits came out to play.

Dozens of broken bodies lay outside the fort. It was time to wreak havoc inside.

While Rigmor and Casius took care of the bandits on the ground, I ran around the battlements killing with ease. Many turned and ran when they saw me surrounded by Dragon Aspect. They did not run fast enough.

We killed far more bandits than at the Orsimer stronghold. It was the largest gang I had yet seen.

Rigmor and I joined Casius out the front of the fort’s tavern. We were all covered in blood and gore.

  • Casius: Does Yngol know you are Dragonborn?
  • Wulf: We helped him clear out some bandits. He found out the same way you did.
  • Casius: Ragnar will be smiling down from Sovngarde to see you guarding Rigmor.
  • Rigmor: Guardian, are there any inside the tavern?

I used dragon-sight.

  • Wulf: There are six. Two upstairs, two in the basement. They have weapons drawn. They could be civilians or bandits, I can’t tell.
  • Casius: You can see through walls?
  • Rigmor: He is part dragon and can even breath fire, although he has not shown me that trick yet.
  • Wulf: Let me go in first. If they are bandits, we will have to cut them down. It is too dangerous to use Cyclone and Unrelenting Force if there is a possibility some civilians are amongst them and in such a confined space.

I burst through the door and saw nothing but bandits. Slow Time let me dispose most of them before Rigmor and Casius got to swing their swords.

They were well equipped and probably the bandit leaders. After I killed the two in the basement, I came upstairs and surprised an Orsimer who had been hiding behind the bar. He was so busy sneaking up on Rigmor he didn’t realise I was there till my sword skewered him.

I said to Casius, “The tavern owners are downstairs.”

Rigmor asked, “Alive?”

“No, and you don’t have to see them Rigmor. It will not bring them back.”

“I… I think I need to.”

We all went and stood over the sad scene. Me on one side of the bed. Rigmor and Casius on the other.

Rigmor cried out, “A little girl! Was that necessary?”

I knew it could have been worse. The bandits may have been planning on a bit of ‘sport’ with the girl and her mother. Some bandits have a bit of morality, while others are no better than wild animals. Wearing a uniform does not eradicate such behaviour. Even The Legion has its wild animals. As soon as mortals get control over other mortals, rape, torture, humiliation, murder is the norm.

Casius said, “Dark days Rigmor.”

I said, “No, Casius, this is just another regular day on Nirn. Evil does not need a god because mortals do it quite well without one. These people are victims of the civil war. Every coin they had was likely invested in this tavern. For a while, it provided a good life, and this little girl wanted for nothing. Then Ulfric decided he wanted to be High King. For years the soldiers stationed here risked their lives protecting the citizens of The Pale. Then they fled as the same citizens repaid their service with hate and bigotry! What were these people going to do? Abandon all they own? They remained in the hope that one day the garrison would return or that the Stormcloaks would occupy it. The bandits may have killed them, but their deaths add to Ulfric’s tally.”

I said a version of Arkay’s Law that I simply knew. Each priest seems to have a variant of it. As with everything else, I had no idea where I learnt mine.

  • Behold, faithful of The Divines, the beauty of your transformation.
  • Do not fear the journey but rejoice as the gate opens.
  • Enter Aetherius with joy in your heart and a smile on your face.
  • The gate opens for all mortals.
  • Not riches nor rank nor power can deny this return to Aetherius.
  • As you approach the gate, Aetherius will approach you.
  • Do not turn from the gate as that is to reject your new life.
  • Walk without fear and with dignity through the gate.
  • Welcome your transformation.
  • You need not fear losing your way, for he will guide you to your reward.
  • Your body will decay.
  • Your soul will remain safe behind the gate.
  • Once the gate closes, you may never return.
  • This is Arkay’s Law.

Rigmor asked, “Will that consecration work?”

“I have no idea if I ever took Order of Arkay vows. Maybe I get an exemption because I am too busy killing for them to become a novice.”

Casius said, “I will send a message to the Jarl telling him he has citizens that need burying. Anonymously, of course.”

Casius and Rigmor sat at a table. I dragged another chair across and joined them.

  • Rigmor: Yngol said you knew my dad.
  • Casius: Indeed, I learned a lot from him during the Great War. His men were unparalleled on the battlefield. We fought at the Battle of the Red Ring together. Later, in Hammerfell, he saved my life. I remember it as clear as if it were yesterday.

I wonder if Casius knows it was not Titus Mede II who led the army that day? Or what Boethia and the Thalmor general in charge of the occupying forces were planning? The truth was starting to filter through the efforts of the Emperor to suppress it. Nobody would have known if not for the courage of a rogue Moth Priest.

  • Casius: Would you like to hear about that battle?
  • Rigmor: Yes, please. I know so little of what my father did when a soldier.
  • Casius: The end was drawing near. The battle had been raging for two days, and it was the Dominions final push. They thought they had the victory in their hands, and sent in everything they had. Their Elite Guards were at the front with the rest of their army following behind.

I was hoping Casius would convey the brutality of what he experienced and not glorify the battle.

  • Casius: Trumpets, conches, shields bashing, horns, the noise was tremendous! The Dominion arrows blocked out the sun and turned day to night, as they made their way steadily up the hill. The wind blew in dark storm clouds from the east, and it began to rain, it poured, rolling thunder above our heads.

Then Wulf used his Thu’um and lightning, and boulders poured from the sky extinguishing the lives of the brave Altmer. Tornadoes and walls of force smashed into their panicking ranks. Even the Dominion Elite Guard fled the field, and only a few survived to tell the tale. Not a single Empire sword was bloodied, and Wulf was congratulated for his destruction of ‘those elves’. Many assured him his place in Sovngarde was guaranteed. He could spend eternity sitting among other heroes and boast of this battle.

Woohoo! I can’t wait!

At this point, Casius’ monotone delivery was conveying the facts without the glorification of a Nord.

  • Casius: There was a roar of ten thousand men as General Jonna rode down from the hill to dictate the battle personally. Jonna gave the order, and the Nords charged the Altmer Elite Guards head-on. There was an almighty crashing of shields on steel armour! The Altmer frontline was shunted back ten yards by the sheer force of the Nord shield wall. They tried desperately to break through it, but the hammers and broadswords behind the wall fell on them time and time again. Still, the arrows rained down on us. Still, the rain poured down on us, but Jonna made us stand. We waited and waited. Finally, Jonna gave the signal. The Legion was to advance in tight formation on the Dominion’s left flank. We inched our way forward, horns and conches sounding. The bashing of the sides of our shields drowning out the roar of the battle. When we were ten yards from them, they charged us, but our lines held, and inch by inch, we pushed them back. The clash of steel was deafening.

Where is the part where people you knew fell screaming as their insides spilt onto the ground or their brains splattered as skulls were cleaved open? Where is the part where you almost lost your footing on the blood and guts and shit? I bet that made it hard to keep your neat lines of shiny armoured rank and file! What about those pleading to their gods or mother or lover to rescue them from the unfolding nightmare?

 I knew what was coming next, the joy of victory without the hollow reality of its empty meaning.

  • Casius: Word swept through the ranks that Titus’ army had entered the Imperial City. TITUS, TITUS, TITUS we roared! Then it happened…the Dominion command left the field, their army faltered and broke ranks. Fifteen thousand troops fled the battlefield. They threw away their weapons, armour and anything else that would slow them down. Such was the panic. The Altmer Elite Guard stood to and died, refusing quarter offered. You father was decorated on the field by Jonna himself.

So Casius, how were the Elite Guard offered quarter? Was a clear corridor made through the victorious Empire forces to allow them to march with dignity from the field? Or were they surrounded by a snarling wall of hate in Imperial uniform? How fucking moronic is it to glorify such a last stand when there was no strategic value in their deaths or even a need to kill them?

All this bitterness and revulsion I kept to myself and hoped Rigmor only saw a neutral expression when she glanced my way. I knew she was picturing her father in the middle of this ‘glory’, and it was not my place to sour the vision.

What do I know of such battles? Have I participated in them or has somebody told me, in graphic detail, what he or she experienced?

I silently prayed, “Let me fight these battles if need be. But please, let Rigmor be spared that ‘honour’.”

  • Rigmor: You mentioned my dad saved your life?
  • Casius: I was in the ranks when the war ended. I was planning on leaving the army and settling in northern Skyrim. I wanted to buy a mill with my army pension.
  • Wulf: But you heard of the annexation of part of Hammerfell, didn’t you?
  • Casius: Yes, that was a part of the White-Gold Concordat many of us could not let happen. I heard of the Resistance in Hammerfell and offered my services to the Redguard High Command.
  • Wulf: Emperor Mede did all he could to support that resistance without being seen to breach the concordat.
  • Casius: That is correct. He declared all serving Legionnaires who wished to join as invalids. That means they were honourable discharged. They were not forced to desert, and their families would receive a pension if they should die. It also meant they could be declared medically fit again and reenlist in the Legion later if that was their wish.
  • Wulf: Are many of your men those who were able to get medically fit and reenlist suddenly?
  • Casius: Quite a few.
  • Wulf: I am sure there are many such reenlisted men on both sides of this civil war. Forgive me for interrupting. Please continue.
  • Casius: I found myself commanding a battalion, mostly volunteers. We had been attached to the Fifth Army and became stranded in the enemy-held territory when the treaty was signed.
  • Wulf: So that Redguard army and Imperial Legions had been fighting Dominion Forces when the order to withdraw came?
  • Casius: Yes.
  • Wulf: And the Legionnaires who had been fighting beside the Redguards were simply expected to abandon their comrades?
  • Casius: The bond forged with those who fight beside you can’t easily be broken.
  • Wulf: Except by a megalomaniac who wants to be High King. Once again, I apologise, but I want Rigmor to have reassurance why men like you, like her father, voluntarily returned to the horrors of war. Yngol would have her believe that Ragnar did it because of the ban on Talos worship.
  • Rigmor: But as I told my Guardian, I know he did it to help the Redguards. Not because he had the chance to fight ‘elves’ and not because of the Talos ban.
  • Casius: You father never hated the Altmer, Rigmor.
  • Rigmor: Please, continue.
  • Casius: We had been ordered by the Redguard High Command to withdraw from Dominion controlled territory but found our retreat cut off. Panic started to set in, and it became a full rout. The Dominion forces descended on us and began cutting us to pieces. Men, women and children.
  • Rigmor: Women and children?
  • Casius: Dark days, Rigmor. The army was scattered, and we had taken on thousands upon thousands of refugees, all running for their lives. The baggage train was five miles long, and the rivers ran red with blood, it was a massacre.
  • Wulf: You had to cross the Brema River?
  • Casius: Yes, we had to ford it to get to safety but were stranded on the bank fighting a desperate rear-guard action. It seemed there was no hope, and the despair was almost too much to bear. I was at the helm of my men. There were about two thousand fighting men left trying to protect at least fifty thousand refugees. Boats were slowly coming across, and women were throwing their babies into them. Grown men were sobbing on the bank. Some just gave up and waited to be slaughtered. The Dominion troops hacked and cleaved their way freely through the mass of bodies.

Rigmor was on the verge of tears, so I took her hand in mine. I too felt like weeping in sympathy with the men on the bank that day. One again that most precious of things, family, taken away when it should be sacrosanct.

  • Casius: Then…then we heard it. Everything stopped. Everything went quiet. Even the children stopped crying, and the Dominion troops held their swords. All heads turned to the direction of the sound. It was like a pulsating rolling thunder as if the sly itself was being torn apart. Then we saw it. The Banner of Ragnar the Red, coming over the crest of the hill, two golden gilded longhorns each side which sounded like the anger of the gods. The thunder was the Nords bashing their swords against their shield wall. Then came the battle cry of three thousand Berserkers as they charged into the mass of Dominion troops even though they were outnumbered three to one. There was a roar and cheer from both sides of the river. And The Berserkers slew and slew and slew. The Dominion forces routed and oh how they ran! They were shown no mercy, and no quarter was given, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. Ragnar rallied the remaining Redguard, held the rearguard himself until every single survivor made it to the other shore safely. I owe your father a debt of gratitude I could never repay.
  • Rigmor: And then they blamed him for that massacre!
  • Casius: Rigmor, if ever you need me to testify, to clear your family name. I will be there in a heartbeat. You should be very proud of your father. He was greatly feared by his enemies and loved by his friends.
  • Rigmor: I think I now know why he never talked about the war. And thank you Casius, I will remember that offer.
  • Casius: Now it seems things have come full circle and total war could once again be upon us. It is such a pity that fool Ulfric appears to think it wise to pitch brother against brother, and for what, freedom from the Empire?
  • Wulf: No, he uses that reason to recruit. He is simply after the title of High King. It would be a very short-lived reign for the Dominion would soon invade a weakened Tamriel. But first, we have to deal with the New Order and in a way that does not undermine Skyrim or Cyrodiil.
  • Casius: Hopefully, many Stormcloaks will then realise that Skyrim needs the Empire. What is it they shout?
  • Wulf: Skyrim is for the Nords.
  • Casius: I wonder what he has in store for those poor souls who are not Nords. The Stormcloaks and the Thalmor deserve each other.
  • Wulf: But the citizens the Empire and Dominion do not deserve to die for other people’s bigotry and ambitions. Your experience at the Brema River was repeated countless times as the Nords wiped out the Falmer and as many nations wiped out the Ayleid. As I said before, these are not dark days. They are simply regular days on Nirn.
  • Casius: Once we all fought the same common enemy, together, side by side. The enemy of my enemy…
  • Rigmor: Is my friend?
  • Wulf: They are not friends. They are convenient allies against a common cause. The differences continue to fester under the false veneer of a temporary friendship. Individual soldiers may forget their enmity when fighting together, but their leaders will stoke the hatred once more at the first opportunity.
  • Casius: I will talk to Tullius and can assure you he will honour any forthcoming agreement. Your problem will be convincing Ulfric Stormcloak. I hope Yngol can knock some sense into his thick skull.
  • Rigmor: Shouldn’t we be going before any Stormcloaks turn up?
  • Casius: Yes, let’s head back to camp.

We ran past piles of bodies. I had another forty-seven kills to add to yesterday’s total. I wonder if I will hit four hundred tomorrow?

When we arrived back at the command tent, Casius quickly ran inside, retrieved something from a cupboard, then came back outside.

He said, “Rigmor before you go, I have one more thing for you. As I said, I owe your father a debt of gratitude for my life. I would like you to have this.”

Casius held out his hand. From it dangled a beautiful jet-black necklace with the darkest of gems. They were unnaturally black and set in onyx.

Rigmor gasped, took it gently from him, then exclaimed, “Oh my, Casius, it’s beautiful!”

“It was my mother’s and I want you to have it. Please say you will take it.”

Rigmor looked closely at the precious gift and asked, “The stones are beautiful! What are they?”

“Black diamonds.”

“Black diamonds? I have never seen these before.”

Casius then said something strange, “When the time comes, Rigmor, you will know what to do with them.”

Maybe because I am stuck in the middle of one, I can smell prophecy from a mile away.

Cassius wandered off to have a meal with his men. Rigmor stood transfixed by the necklace.

I walked in front of Rigmor and waited. Eventually, she noticed me and looked up.

I asked, “Are you OK? Are you ready to go?”

“Ah, yeah. I think I’m good.”

“Go change out of that uniform. Use Casius’ tent. Then we will head for Whiterun and stay in Breezehome for the night. Early tomorrow we will ride to Riften. Baa’Ren-Dar wanted us to meet him in the Temple of Mara after we finished with the truce. He may have information on where Diamond Ridge Mine is.”

“OK.”

Rigmor retrieved her armour from Ren and entered the tent to change. I wandered over to the campfire to speak to Casius.

I had a theory on what just occurred. I said to Casius, “Sorry to disturb you, but what did you mean by ‘When the time comes, Rigmor, you will know what to do with them.’?”

“Beg your pardon Guardian? What did you ask?”

“Did you remember saying to Rigmor she would know what to do with the Black Diamonds?”

“Not at all. Are you sure I said that? How odd.”

‘Maybe I just misheard.”

“We are all guilty of that at times.”

“I would like to apologise again for interrupting your narration about Ragnar. I have extreme views on certain matters and find it hard to remain silent.”

“No apology needed. You only spoke the truth.”

“Rigmor has learned more about her father’s time as a soldier in the last two days than in her previous eighteen years. The true records of his deeds will be buried somewhere in the Imperial Library. There may be scholars and historians willing to rewrite history, but there are many who will risk all to preserve it.”

“All Imperial recruits are taught the real story and told to ignore the lies. We can only do that verbally, of course, but they know the truth. We still study Ragnar’s tactics and strategies but use fictitious names for the Generals who invented them.”

“The plans of the New Order seem straightforward, but I don’t think it is the whole story.”

“I thought the same, Guardian. Their chances of success were minimal even if we had not found their plans.”

“Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar has warned me several times that General Aedriath is a master at subterfuge. It makes me a bit paranoid that the New Order has another card to play.”

“Militarily, Yngol and I are a formidable combination. We would be flexible enough to counter any unforeseen threats.”

“But what if it isn’t military. Do you know of The Culling?”

“A superstitious rumour. I have paid it no heed.”

“If somebody told you the Dragonborn of prophecy would be fighting beside you, that would have received the same scepticism.”

“True.”

“The Culling is not a rumour. Lord Naarifin re-opened the Arena as one way of culling the people of the Imperial City. But that was not enough. He was prepared to sacrifice every man, woman and child to open the gates to Oblivion. Like the Oblivion Crises, Daedra would have attacked Tamriel in great numbers. Like Mehrunes Dagon, the Dark Lord known as Boethia would have eventually manifested on Nirn. Lord Naarifin would not have been acting on behalf of the Thalmor. He would have been part of a splinter group.”

“The same as the New Order!”

“This is all speculation on my behalf, but I have had dealings with gods. I know they are somehow involved in what is happening with Rigmor and me and this whole New Order business. Just be flexible with your beliefs as well as militarily.”

“Did you speak to Yngol about this?”

“No. We wanted Yngol to speak to Ulfric. He would have had us thrown out of his camp if we mentioned gods and prophecies.”

“What about the dragons?”

“I think we have some time before they become a real menace. Their leader is recruiting, and any attacks that occur now are skirmishes to test our resolve and abilities.”

“Their leader?”

“A second Dragon War needs a leader.”

“That is grim tidings, Guardian.”

“Let’s just handle one crisis at a time. Keeps us sane that way.”

Rigmor came out of the tent in her tin can and waved at me.

“Thank you Casius, until we meet again.”

“Farewell, until next time, Guardian.”

It was about 6:15 PM when we mounted our horses and headed for Whiterun.

The grassland near Whiterun is sparsely populated. Remnants of old homestead and villages are dotted over the landscape.

As we got closer to a farm, I saw a short jester trying to get people to help with a broken wheel on his wagon. He was not a Nord and dressed as an archaic form of entertainer not seen for at least a century. That was enough to make most people suspicious. It was enough to spark my interest. When I watched him move, I knew he was more than competent with the knives he carried.

I said to Rigmor, “We are not far from Whiterun, and the little jester needs help. So, I am going to help him!”

“I am looking forward to the spa!”

“It will still be there. Just be patient.”

“Pfft, yeah. OK.”

I approached the strange little man and said, “Good evening. I am Wulf, and the young lady is Rigmor. What seems to be the problem?”

“Agh! Bother and befuddle! Stuck here! Stuck! My mother, my poor mother. Unmoving. At rest, but too still!”

“The broken wheel has something to do with your mother?”

“Poor Cicero is stuck. Can’t you see? I was transporting my dear, sweet mother. Well, not her. Her corpse! She’s quite dead.”

“Your accent is familiar. Have you come from Bruma?”

“Spent time in Bruma, Bravil and too much time in Cheydinal. Mother didn’t like it there. I’m taking mother to a new home, a new crypt. But … argh! Wagon wheel! Damnedest wagon wheel! It broke! Don’t you see?”

I walked around and looked. The wheel had come away from the axle, which is an easy fix with the right tools.

I went back to Cicero and asked, “Is there some way we can help you? Escort you to Whiterun perhaps?”

“Oh. Oh yes! I can’t leave mother, but the kind stranger can certainly help!”

Cicero did a bizarre dance as he spoke to me.

He continued, “Go to the farm, the Loreius Farm. Just over there, off the road and talk to Loreius. He has tools! He can help me! But he won’t! He refuses! Convince Loreius to fix my wheel! Do that, and Poor Cicero will reward you. With coin! Gleamy, shiny coin!”

“We need no payment, Cicero. I am sure Loreius will fix your wheel. Tell your mother not to run off now. We will be right back.”

“But she is dead? How can she…oh, the kind stranger is a jester too!”

We started walking towards the farmhouse. Rigmor whispered, “Dragonborn, he is even weirder than you!”

“He is insane, and I would guess an assassin or retired assassin. Even with his weird dance, his grace and agility were evident.”

“You do that all the time don’t you? You study people. You pick out potential threats, even in a crowd.”

“A skill I had when I awoke. The Divines don’t want their puppet cut up by assassins!”

I knocked on the farmhouse door. A ladies voice said, “Enter, it is not locked.”

Rigmor and I entered. Who I assumed was the good wife was busy washing pots and pans. I approached the farmer and said, “Good evening, Farmer Loreius.”

“Oh, for the love of Mara. What now!”

“I am Wulf, and the young lady with me is Rigmor. Cicero, the jester, needs help with his wagon.”

“Hmph. Tell me something I don’t know. The crazy fool has already asked me about five times. It seems he’s not satisfied with my answer. Why can’t he just leave us alone?”

“He has gleamy, shiny coins to pay you, so what is the problem?”

“Pay me? Do you think this is about money? Have you seen the man? He is completely out of his head. A jester? Here, in Skyrim. Ain’t been a Merryman in these parts for decades if not longer. And he’s transporting some giant box. Says it’s a coffin, and he’s going to bury his mother. Mother my eye. He could have anything in there. War contraband. Weapons. Skooma. Ain’t no way that I’m getting involved in any kind of that.”

“Many Whiterun Guards patrol the road. They have not opened his box to search for contraband. What is the tenth commandment of The Nine?”

“What? And just in Mara’s name are you, anyway? Hmm? Come here, telling me about my business. And for what? To help a… a… a fool!”

“Lady Mara says, ‘Live peacefully and soberly.’ Yet you sit there dealing aggression with a drink in your hand! The tenth commandment of all Nine is, ‘Above all else, be kind to one another.’. Who am I? Somebody here to remind you of what is right.”

“Look, I… I… Yes, you’re right. You’re right. Feller might be nutters, might not. But the fact is, he needs help. If I turn him away, what kind of man am I, hmm?”

“Cicero will be pleased and thankful.”

“Look, um… Thanks. And I’m sorry for my unneighbourly reaction. If you talk to Cicero, make sure to tell him I’ll be down to help soon.”

Rigmor said, “That will make your Thane pleased as well.”

“Thane?” asked Loreius.

“Wulf is your Thane,” replied Rigmor as we exited the house.

I walked up to Cicero, who said, “Poor mother. Her new home seems so very far.”

“Cheer up Cicero. I talked to Farmer Loreius, and he has agreed to fix your wagon wheel.”

“You… you did? He has?”

“I did, and he did. We both dided! Hey look, I kidded!”

“Oh, kind stranger! You have made Cicero so happy! So jubilant and ecstatic! But more! Even more! My mother thanks you!”

“I am glad to help. Next time your mother is in Whiterun, she is welcome to drop in for a cup of tea and cake.”

“I would not become a jester kind stranger. It is a profession full of danger if you tell the wrong joke to the wrong noble. Thank you! And thank you again!”

We mounted our horses and continued onto Whiterun.

Small and noisy birds ran across the road in front of the horses and quite often dashed past them at speed.

“What are those birds called?” asked Rigmor.

“I will give you a clue. What are they doing?”

“Ah, running?”

“And what are they running on?”

“The road?”

“So, they are called?”

“Road Runners?”

“No, they are Albatrosses, but good try nonetheless.”

“Well, they make stupid noises so a stupid name would suit them!”

“Ouch!”

Not much further up the road, another type of bird was wandering across it.

There was silence from Rigmor, so I asked, “Don’t you want to know what type of bird that is?”

“No. You will just give me a stupid annoying answer.”

“I promise I won’t.”

“OK, what type of bird is that, my Dragonborn?”

“It is a Peacock.”

“See. I ask a question because I really want to know and you just make rude jokes!”

“Peacock?”

“Childish idiot!”

“I did not say pee and cock, as in wee and willy. I said Peacock.”

“Willy?”

“One of several thousand words that civilisation has invented for the penis.”

“Is ‘Wulf’ one of those words?”

“If I told you that is a male Peacock and that he has a beautiful dance and feathers he uses to attract the rather drab and boring lady Peacock would you believe me?”

“Not a word.”

A hundred yards or so up the road, a Peacock was displaying his feathers and doing his dance.

“Oh, isn’t he beautiful!” gushed Rigmor.

“I will accept a written apology with an appropriate gift.”

“Yeah, right. Pfft!”

We handed the horses over to a young stablehand. I asked him, ‘Is my new saddle ready?”

“Yes, Thane.”

“So, a direct swap is acceptable. My old saddle and all that gear for the new saddle?”

“Master Sable-Hilt says he is robbing you blind but will lose no sleep.”

“You just make sure you get a good cut of the profits.”

“He would be wise to reward me so. Otherwise, I might tell my Thane what my Master said about ripping him off.”

I laughed as we walked away.

“It did not take long for them to relax around you again.”

“I just keep being myself, and that is what happens.”

Adrianne was walking to her home when we entered Whiterun. I said to her, “Adrianne, that was a generous gift you gave Lydia. I can’ thank you enough.”

“It was gathering dust on a rack at home. Lydia is an excellent warrior and one of the nicest people you could meet. I was proud to gift the armour to her. I heard about her fiancée. Such things should not happen to such nice people!”

“Such things should not happen to anybody. Is there a reason you chose the blacksmith’s hammer over a sword?”

“I am competent enough with sword and shield, but I help more people as a blacksmith than I ever could as a Shieldmaiden. I feel like I am contributing more as a citizen than I could as a soldier.”

“There is nobody sadder than a warrior who doesn’t want to be one!”

“I was going to call my armoury ‘Shieldmaiden’s’, but there are already many with that name throughout Tamriel. So ‘Warmaiden’s’ it is.”

“Lydia told me you made me a suit of armour?”

“It is one of my finest works. I hope you enjoy it and that it serves you well.”

“How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing, Wulf. It is also a gift.”

“Mm…I will estimate its worth and make sure Ulfberth gets three times that in case I make an error in judgement.”

“I can’t accept payment. I would be insulted!”

“Then don’t ask Ulfberth about the extra coins he suddenly finds.”

Adrianne laughed then said, “Good night, Wulf and Lady Rigmor.”

I opened the door to Breezehome, bowed, then said, “After you, Lady Rigmor.”

“You can remove that stick from your bum now you idiot!”

Rigmor rushed off to have a long bath. I wanted to try my new armour.

I placed my old armour on a mannequin and my sword on a wall plaque.

While still in my underwear I used the Arcane Enchanter to place dweomer on the various parts of the new armour. The sword that Jarl Balgruuf gave me as the symbol of being Thane was already honed. I put dweomer on that as well. It would take some getting used to as it was much longer than my other sword.

I finished the enchanting then put the armour on. It took another ten minutes before I adjusted all the straps to my liking.

Rigmor walked in just as I finished and said, “Wow! Now you look like a noble, but what about your hair?”

“Not a problem. There is plenty of room for it.”

“Well go have your bath while I cook.”

“Excuse me?”

“I am going to cook.”

“OK, I will not ask what. I am sure it will be a surprise.”

Rigmor mumbled to herself, “I hope I get the spices right. Arsenic has such a bitter taste. I must make sure I don’t get the bowls confused.”

After forty-five minutes in the bath, I called out, “Is the food ready?”

“It will be by the time you get dressed and I do your hair.”

I sat at the table with Rigmor. The smell coming from the bowls was intoxicating.

I asked Rigmor, “What is it?”

“Baa’Ren-Dar’s favourite food. Elsweyr Chowder.”

“It has a lot of milk and cream?”

“And vegetables and fish and a few spices. Well, a lot of spices. Just try it!”

The first mouthful was delicious.

The second was just as delicious. My lips started to go numb.

By the fifth mouthful, I could not form my words properly because I could not feel my lips and had no idea where my tongue was.

Rigmor had almost finished hers when she asked, “Well. What do you think?”

“Itsh dewishious. Wery wummy!”

Rigmor laughed and got me a mug of mead from our bar.

Half an hour later, I finished my bowl and three meads. Rigmor had finished three bowls and one mead.

When Rigmor told me that she was tired I escorted her to the bedroom. She said, “I want you to stay here with me. On the chair. We still have a lot to sort out, my Dragonborn, but I need you close by so we can enjoy our peace together.”

“OK, let me drag the chair over.”

“In a few minutes. I need to change into my nightclothes. So out you go till I call you.”

“No tin can?”

“For the first time since Rose’s camp, I feel safe enough to discard it and my sword.”

Rigmor’s nightclothes are lacy but conservative. Very elegant and tasteful. She told me she had four pairs of different colours and that Lydia made an excellent choice.

Rigmor slept well. No nightmares intruded upon her slumber.

I wrote my journal entry then just stared at her.

I know not what time I fell asleep.

I know it was while looking at the woman I love and wondering, what possible life could we have together?

We left Whiterun just after 7:00 AM.

Many Pilgrims were visiting Whiterun to see the Gildergreen Tree. All had armed escorts, a sad reflection on the state of Skyrim at that moment.

Rigmor commented, “No wonder Baa’Ren-Dar wears those boring brown robes.”

“Yes, he would appear to be just another pilgrim among many.”

“You should see the clothes he wears when entertaining in Torval. Silk pantaloons and ruffles on his sleeves. Expensive rings and earrings.”

“What about when he is relaxing and not doing diplomatic stuff?”

“He used to wear these weird underpants and nothing else till a visiting lady told him off. Now he at least wears trousers.”

Some idiotic bandits attacked the end of the column of pilgrims.

I didn’t even have to draw my sword as the pilgrims and guards swarmed them. They were shown no mercy.

An Imperial deserter leapt out at Hashire and yelled, “Your money or your life!”

I climbed off Hashire, walked up to him, then asked, “Excuse me, do you want to pay money for my wife?”

“What?”

“You asked, ‘You, money for your wife?’. I was wondering how much?”

“No, you idiot! Hand over your valuables, or I’ll gut you like a fish.”

“OK, but I will have to use two hands.”

I covered my groin area with both hands then asked, “Hands over valuables. Anything else I can do for you?”

The deserter swore and charged.

Unrelenting Force sent him flying.

I ran up and killed him before he even stood upright. We jumped on our horses and continued our journey.

“A bit grumpy this morning?” Rigmor asked.

“I am done leaving scum behind to hassle the next person who comes along!”

Rigmor was quite amused when she saw her first Rhinoceros.

As we approached the bridge over the river, bandits spotted us and prepared to attack.

Rigmor asked, “We are not going to leave these bandits behind either, are we?”

“The cowards outnumber us ten to one. One of the nobles on her horse and a single guard would stand no chance. Three or four pilgrims and their guards would stand no chance. So, I do my job and kill.”

Rigmor and I tore through the bandits.

We saw several Imperial patrols escorting captured Stormcloaks. The regular rebels do not face execution but will be jailed for a few years after the war is over.

A very ancient Spriggan Matriarch crossed our path. It seems to be random if Spriggan attack or not.

We followed the signs as per usual, but this time we would enter by Riften’s north gate.

We spotted a dragon flying in the distance. No attacks had been reported since the watchtower.

We arrived at Riften’s North Gate just after 2:00 PM. Rigmor said, “I have the biggest headache!”

Rigmor looked pale. I asked, “Can you make it to see Baa’Ren-Dar or do we hire a room so you can rest?”

“Let’s find Baa’Ren-Dar.”

Riften seemed almost deserted compared to how busy Whiterun was.

At the Temple of Mara’s entrance, Rigmor remarked, “I read that dozens of couples get married here each week!”

“Lady Mara would be pleased!”

“Lady Dibella might have a smile or two as well.”

We entered the temple. Mara’s shrine is beautiful!

A priest directed us to the back room when we inquired after Baa’Ren-Dar. We found him sitting at a table staring straight ahead. Now I know where Rigmor got that habit!

Rigmor rushed over and gave the surprised Khajiit a big squeeze.

“Here we are Baa’Ren-Dar!”

“Ahh, my children well met! Khajiit hopes your travels were successful.”

Rigmor replied, “I have a terrible headache. Is there somewhere I can rest while you talk to the Dragonborn?”

“Of course. This one has been lent the room behind you. Lie down and rest as long as you need to.”

I followed Rigmor into the room and asked, “Will you be OK?”

“If I have a nap, it might go away.”

I closed the door to the room then sat down at the table.

“She will be OK. She has had good and restful nights of sleep since you saw us at Angi’s, but we have been travelling all over Skyrim!”

“This one is very weary, as well.”

“Both Yngol and Casius accepted our reassurances that the information is true. They both agreed to speak to their leaders. Did you find the location for Diamond Ridge Mine?”

“This one has spoken to someone living at Shor’s Stone mining village. He has seen this mine we seek. It is high up on the border of Skyrim and High Rock. The journey there is perilous, so be warned.”

“Can you please mark it on my map?”

“You map will not cover that area. This one has a new map for you.”

Baa’Ren-Dar handed me a map which was in every way superior to the one I had been using.

“What else did he say about the mine?”

“He says it is closely guarded.”

I looked at the map and commented, “That is quite a journey. Did the miner mention anything else?”

“He said it seems someone wants to keep this location a secret. He doesn’t know why.”

“The New Order were brutal in their efforts to keep what they were doing at Fort Black a secret. They tortured and murdered to do so and with the flimsiest of suspicions. I suspect they may be even more paranoid at the mine. We will have to be very careful.”

“Make sure you take enough supplies with you. It is uncharted territory.”

“We will be OK, Bar’Ren-Dar.”

“Take good care of Rigmor. If you do find Sigunn there…”

“Rigmor’s reactions could be severe, depending on her mother’s state. Like always, I will look after her.”

“Dragonborn might walk and talk with old Khajiit?”

“Of course, but let me tell Rigmor first, so she does not panic if we are gone, and she is looking for us.”

Rigmor heard me enter the room and stood. She still looked pale.

“You can sleep some more. I am just going out the front of the temple. Baa’Ren-Dar wants to show me something. I think.”

“OK.”

Rigmor lay back down, and I hurried to catch up with the ‘old Khajiit’.”

I warned Baa’Ren-Dar, “I do not wish to lose sight of the door.”

“This one understands. There is a bench next to it.”

Baa’Ren-Dar had that distant look once more, and I realised what it was. He was worried.

I sat next to him, then asked, “You wish to talk?”

“How is she holding up?”

“She is doing very well but still needs some time to recover fully from her fall. She has not spoken about Aedriath and has slept well. She valued the stories Yngol and Casius told her about Ragnar.”

“This one should tell you about the other side of her, the child inside.”

“I have recognised and cherished it since I met her. Please, go ahead.”

“She would sit on the veranda of my house in Torval for hours taking in the view. Sometimes she would write poetry or sing songs she had written. She loved to pick flowers in the garden. It wasn’t always easy, but it was a joy to see her grow into a young woman.”

‘How long was she a slave?”

“About six months.”

“Her swordsmanship. Ragnar may have been good, but her skills are exceptional.”

“This one paid for swordmasters to teach at Rigmor’s request.”

“Please, tell me more about the younger Rigmor.”

“Rigmor had the most beautiful hair, and loved dressing up, and Khajiit would send for the best dresses coin could buy. Imported from all over Nirn.”

“But not those Morrowind dresses?”

“No, it seems there is a special arrangement with the market in Riften.”

“Did she only like red dresses?”

“She had many of all colours, but she especially liked them in red.”

“Then something has changed Baa’Ren-Dar. I offered to buy her a red dress from Morrowind at the market here, but she declined. She thought she was too ugly to wear one.”

“You decided to purchase one with Khajiit’s help anyway?”

“Yes. I did not think Rigmor would listen if I argued with her. I thought if I got her a dress and she agreed to wear it, she would realise she was wrong and is beautiful.”

“Good strategy, Dragonborn. When Rigmor came of age…she…she changed.”

“The Thalmor and New Order would still have hunted her down if she was a dainty young noblewoman. Rigmor knew she could not stay in Torval forever and needed to find her mother. I believe the skills and determination she developed saved her life.”

“Dragonborn… there is a place this one knows of, not far from Ivarstead. It’s a little overlook, and a camp Khajiit passed by in his travels. The mountain flowers grow in abundance. The view from the overlook… you can see down into the valley, all the way to the coast. Rigmor would love this place, and it would make her very happy.”

“The first time I saw Rigmor standing, she was picking red mountain flowers. When we went to Fort Black, we climbed a rickety old structure during a blizzard so we could look over a valley. She shows great delight in these things so I have no doubt she would like this lookout.”

“Would you make this old Khajiit happy and take her there? Who knows what the gods have in store for you both? Who knows if they plan to take her away from me? Let her find peace if only for a short time.”

“Let me lighten your heart. Rigmor and I have enjoyed numerous special moments over the last couple of weeks. We have had to fight many battles and have seen terrible things. But we always try to have a good laugh and find beauty in the world. Every night I sit with her while she sleeps. You saw at Angi’s that she is enveloped in a special peace because of my presence. I find peace in hers. She has enjoyed life despite the dangers and stresses. I will take her to this lookout because she will like it, and that will make both of us smile. I will take her there because her father asked me to, and I want to make him smile as well.”

“Thank you, Dragonborn. This one can see both of you have feelings for each other. Although Rigmor can be strong, she can also be fragile. Would it be impertinent for this old Khajiit to ask what you plan to do about these feelings?”

“We are figuring it out Baa’Ren-Dar. If we remove the danger of the New Order and find Sigunn then maybe Rigmor can return to a normal life. She can look forward to long hair and fine dresses once more. She will never be safe with me. I doubt she could ever have a normal life with me. I just don’t know, and it is not from a lack of thinking about it.”

“Confusion is dangerous. One way or the other, this must be resolved.”

“If it were that easy, we would have done so. New things appear each day that change the equation. For instance, I now know I will have to travel to Solstheim soon. It is complex, Baa’Ren-Dar.”

Baa’Ren-Dar stood and headed for the entrance to the temple. He said, “Riften is such a beautiful city, don’t you think? The gods guide you and keep you from harm.”

I laughed, and the old Khajiit asked, “This one said something funny?”

“The Divines do guide me and will continue to send me into danger. That will be my existence Baa’Ren-Dar. Soon I have to fight the World Eater! No, they are not going to keep me from harm.”

As we walked through the temple, I wondered, had Baa’Ren-Dar been warned via one of Azura’s peers of more than what he has told me?

Rigmor was out of bed and sitting at the table. As Baa’Ren-Dar passed her, he said, “Please excuse me, my child. This one is very weary from his travels.”

I looked in on the old Khajiit. Now I was starting to worry. Maybe he is not as robust as I thought. I closed the door then sat next to Rigmor.

“How are you feeling?”

“Tired. Very tired.”

“Do you want to rest some more?”

“No, but I do want to know what Baa’Ren-Day had to say.”

“He has given me a map with Diamond Ridge Mine marked. It is a bit of a journey!”

“Thank goodness! I was worried he would say he could not find it.”

“I wonder how many people he asked? He received the information needed from a miner in that ‘cute’ village.”

“When you left the temple with Baa’Ren-Dar, were you talking behind my back?”

“Not really. When you were having your nap, you were facing in roughly the direction we sat and talked.”

“Very funny haha.”

“Bar’Ren-Dar is worried about you. He is scared for his child’s physical and emotional safety.”

“What do you mean emotional safety?”

“If we find Sigunn, what will be her condition? And before you get angry, it is a reasonable concern.”

“I understand. Baa’Ren-Dar must think the place is dangerous and if we find my mum and they have hurt her… I don’t know how I would cope.”

“Whatever we find, I will be with you.”

“Guardian… Dragonborn. I just want to say… I… just want to thank you for all you have done for me.”

“There is no need to thank me! If anything I should thank you for opening my eyes to Skyrim’s beauty and laughing, sometimes, at my jokes. My work isn’t done. I swore to get you home safely yet we are heading into more danger!”

“No matter what we find at Diamond Ridge, I feel like it’s finally coming to an end. Whether my mum is alive or not, I can at least find closure and maybe get on with my life.”

“What would you do?”

“I don’t know. If mum is alive, go back to Torval maybe? At least we would be safe there. If not Torval… find somewhere else that is peaceful? I mean, we’ve done just about everything we can to help with the conspiracy, right? If there is a war, let the armies sort it out.”

“You know I can’t walk away. I have to defend the people of Skyrim. I have to wade into battle and kill because that is the only way I can make sure there is less killing! I must confront Alduin. I must deal with this other Dragonborn in Solstheim. Who knows what shit The Divines will throw at me! I will take you where you want to call home, but I have to come back here.”

“What if I wanted to stay with you? What if I did not care about the dangers and the crap the gods throw our way?”

“That would be a marvellous choice in the short term! But what if there is no end to the danger? What if we can’t just relax and lead some resemblance of a normal life? Would you want that? I couldn’t ask you to do that!”

“You wouldn’t be asking my silly Dragonborn. It would be my choice.”

“One of us is going to say those three words and the answer will have been decided. Those three words of commitment will wipe out any doubts. But there may still be many regrets. So, we have to think about it.”

“Do you mean, ‘I love… red mountain flowers!’”

“Rigmor, I wish I could find humour in this. But I am terrified that I will never find a solution. It is a fight between my heart and my conscience.”

Our conversation was cut short by a voice demanding, “We saw the Deceiver! The False Dragonborn entered here. Where is he?”

A priest demanded, “This is a holy place.  Remove yourself now before I call the guards!”

Rigmor and I rushed into the temple. Five of the Ashland Monks were attacking Mara’s Priests and Priestesses as well as those who came to pray.

One of the Ashlanders cried out, “There he is. We must kill him. Miraak commands it!”

I used Slow Time and started eliminating the monks as quick as I could. I was terrified some innocent bystander would get killed simply for being near the Dragonborn!

The fight was over quickly. Five of the Ashland Monks lay dead. Nobody else was hurt, but some damage had been done to the temple.

I ran to the backroom to check on Baa’Ren-Dar while Rigmor spoke to the senior Priest of Mara.

“What just happened, Dragonborn?”

“People were almost killed because I am the Dragonborn! I attract enemies, and this is the sort of life Rigmor would lead if she stayed with me. Do not worry anymore, Baa’Ren-Dar. One way or the other, it has been resolved!”

My anger was extreme. Anybody who looked into my eyes would swear they saw a dragon. I stormed out of the temple and headed for the stables.

Rigmor came running after me, pleading for me to slow down. I leapt on Hashire and waited impatiently for Rigmor to give up the pleading and mount Ben.

She rode up and asked, “What is happening, my Dragonborn? What are you doing? Where are we doing?”

“We are going to High Hrothgar. It is the only place I know you will be safe. Then tomorrow we are going to find your mother. Then I will take you somewhere you decide, and you can live your life. I will return and learn to live mine without you.”

“Dragonborn? Wait… stop!”

“Keep up Rigmor. I am not stopping to look at pretty sights or name animals or anything else. We can talk in High Hrothgar.”

We rode around Riften to get to the road that led to the South Gate. Then we played follow the signs till we reach Ivarstead and then High Hrothgar.

Rigmor gave up trying to speak to me well before we started up the seven thousand steps. She cried instead. I fought the need to stop and comfort her. Until we are in High Hrothgar, she is in danger.

We hitched the horses out of the wind, and I took the lute that was tied to Hashire’s saddle.

I approached Rigmor, and her face almost made me weep. I asked her, “Are you hungry? I can prepare something in High Hrothgar’s kitchen.”

“No. I think I just need to sleep.”

“Well, I hope you don’t mind a giant statue of Talos perving on you.”

We headed straight for the sealed door then into the little alcove with the bed and Talos’ shrine.

Rigmor lay on the bed while I tuned the lute.

“Rigmor, can I sing you some songs?”

“I would like that.”

“I am sorry I was an arsehole on the ride here. I did not look back at you once. For as soon as I see your face, my resolve vanishes, and the confusion starts once more. I never wanted to make you cry.”

“Perhaps tomorrow we can find a solution together. Now, my Dragonborn, let me hear you sing.”

“You might have heard this one in Torval. It is called ‘Val Vijah Va Rhook, Baandari’.”

  • Dancing through savanna grass
  • On light feet, we glide
  • Hey, hey, Baandari boy
  • Tap your heels in stride
  • Hey, hey, Baandari girl
  • Swing your tail beside
  • Val Vijah Va Rhook, Baandari
  • Carrying our world in packs
  • Val Vijah Va Rhook, Baandari
  • Our kingdom on our backs
  • Home is on the move again
  • On wagon wheels, we go
  • Hey, hey, Baandari boy
  • Where the wild winds blow
  • Hey, hey, Baandari girl
  • Our caravan in tow
  • Val Vijah Va Rhook, Baandari
  • Carrying our world in packs
  • Val Vijah Va Rhook, Baandari
  • Our kingdom on our backs
  • Walker, we can teach the steps
  • We’ll be your guiding star
  • Hey, hey, Baandari boy
  • Keep close, and we’ll go far
  • Hey, hey, Baandari girl
  • Our vagabond bazaari

Rigmor said, “Your singing and playing is excellent. You must have had training!”

“Strange skills to insist that a Dragonborn learn!”

“Khajiit minstrels who entertained at Baa’Ren-Dar’s house would often sing that song.”

“It speaks of a simple life. No complications.”

“Shared between two people.”

“The most popular songs and stories involve love in all its complicated, messy forms. Every time a bard sings a song or recites a poem about love, somebody in the audience will swear it was about them.”

“Do you know songs from many lands?”

“I know their Tamrielic versions. This one is from Alinor.”

  • Eyes of polished amber, hair swept like a comet’s tail
  • Soul alight with love and joy under pregnant golden sails
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • Lost in storm and spray
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • That cruel fate took away
  • White swan feathers fluttered from her ivory bridal gown
  • And unsung vows slipped from her lips, eager to be found
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • Gone beneath the waves
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • The sea became her grave
  • The clouds they gathered overhead, ripping sail from the mast
  • The hull creaked like a coffin’s hinge as the captain yelled ‘hold fast!’
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • She never made it home
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • Drowned in brine and foam
  • Lightning crashed upon the sea; the wind howled with the swells
  • I strained to reach her glistening hand, but into the depths, she fell
  • Upon the beach I wander still, to gaze out at the sea
  • Hoping to see her shining face smiling back at me
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • Whose last words were my name
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • I still weep from the shame
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • Lost in storm and spray
  • My star-eyed bride of Alinor
  • That cruel fate took away
  • That cruel fate took away

“I know why you sang that one, my Dragonborn.”

“OK, why did I sing that one?”

“He could not save the one he loved and was full of guilt. You fear that would happen if I stayed with you.”

“The difference is they did not deliberately walk into danger together. Neither was his star-eyed bride in danger just by being with him.”

“Is that the only reason you dread me saying those three words? What if I am willing to risk my life for love? Why would you feel guilty if it was my choice to accept that danger?”

“Because, my dear sweet Rigmor, that is who I am. This ancient spoken ballad sums up my biggest fear of all.”

I put the lute down and spoke these words in the ancient, metered form that was popular hundreds of years ago.

“Now the depths of my heart have discovered separation’s sorrow, my heart, spirit and senses, which I have only experienced because of her, were scattered far and wide: I thought I’d die of a broken heart.

Now fortune has returned and saved me from separation’s pain, through which all my blood was dulled. Fortune has played its part in this game, in which I will gain much joy, pleasure and favour.

Now it’s very hard for me that such joy is gone forever. Turned to pain, I leave again; this brings new sorrow, even greater than before: my heart had come to know and had felt joy: only now separation brings me to despair.”

I explained, “What is better? To take the pain of lost love only once or put up with separation many times? Do you want to be like a sailor’s wife, not knowing when her husband’s ship will return to port, not knowing if he will ever return to port and not knowing when he will be called to sea once more?”

“But why could I not come with you? Why would we need to be separated?”

“Remember the premonition Baa’Ren-Dar was told? You are destined for greatness. I was sent to guard you. Maybe that is the end of our story? I will have no control over my life and must do the tasks given by The Divines. All they need do is point me to the problem. They know me so well they have faith I will complete the task. How many tasks? How many years? I have no idea and therefore can’t even start to imagine a life with you beside me.”

“Don’t you think that love, a special love, would survive such things?”

“I don’t know. I simply don’t know.”

“You mentioned a sailor’s wife. What if I regard you as a soldier, fighting for the mortals of Nirn against those who wish them harm? Don’t soldiers deserve a loving spouse waiting for them at home? Why should a soldier be denied the exact thing they are fighting for?”

“I am a conscripted soldier!”

“I will not accept your declaration of what is to happen! We will think and talk about this some more!”

“You need to sleep Rigmor. It is a long way to the mine.”

“You will not leave my side?”

“We are safe here. But I will stay by your side for we both need our peace.”

“Maybe that is your answer, my Dragonborn.”

After a few minutes, Rigmor’s breathing, as familiar to me as my heartbeat, fell into the rhythm of her sleep.

I stared at the statue of Talos. It stared back.

I whispered, “I will defeat Alduin and save every single life. Is that not enough?”

Silence.

“No need to answer. I know it isn’t enough. You want me to save your precious mortals, yet I am not allowed to enjoy being one. Forgive me for my melancholy, but remember, you made me this way.”

I know not what time I fell asleep.

7 thoughts on “Turdas, 28th Last Seed, 4E 201 & Fredas, 29th Last Seed, 4E 201

  1. I’m laying in bed staring at the end of Wulf’s journal thinking what else can I say about this journey that doesn’t sound repetitious, stuff it, Mark, that was bloody good, I enjoyed it again, love reading these.

  2. Life’s Journey is Best Shared with those that we Love and those that Love us. Thank You Mark for making life a little better for us all.

  3. Hey Mark, still writing at 1.30 a.m. Rigmor gets under our skin hey. The next few journals will be hard, no, the rest of the game will be hard and emotional. Stay safe.

  4. Agreed Mark kepp up the work and i kniw “its a computer game” but its the story and the development of the character that gets under our skin its painful waiting for the RoC Reboot.hmm

  5. The conversation between Rigmor and Wulf was so sad. I understand where Rigmor is coming from. She feels it should be her decision, too, whether they remain together or not. Wouldn’t be fair for Wulf to decide for both of them. Looking forward to the next entry, although I know it will also be painful. Thanks, Mark!

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