Skyrim quests: A Blade in the Dark, Diplomatic Immunity, The Break of Dawn.
Skyrim Mods: Silverpeak Lodge, Celestine.
I woke at about 6:00 AM after a surprisingly refreshing sleep.
I knew what I had to do, and worrying about Rigmor was not going to get it done.
If Talos’ Avatar had not visited, I would still be a useless mess. He eased my concerns about Rigmor, and that has allowed me to function.
I assume Rigmor will be very popular for a while since the Emperor seems to have favoured her. But Rigmor will see through the façade of false friendship and recognise the bitterness some of the other nobles will hold. I have great confidence in her. I hope Sigunn and Rigmor’s advisors let her shine!
The armour I wore as Guardian General was not neutral. It was one hundred per cent Imperial Legion. So as not to invite attack from Stormcloaks, I decided to wear my fancy clothes instead.
Hashire and I enjoyed our breakfast together. He is not much of conversationalist though.
Just after 7:00 AM I mounted Hashire and set off for High Hrothgar.
We had hardly taken our first step when the familiar bark of Meeko echoed along the valley. He came running full speed with Lydia galloping on her horse not far behind.
I climbed off Hashire and spoke to my companions.
I asked Meeko, “Did you lead Lydia here, or is there a simpler explanation on how you found me?”
“Just as I thought!”
I said to Lydia, “I am happy to see both of you. How did you find me?”
“The same elderly gentlemen who sent me to Dawnstar turned up at Breezehome. He said you would need our help and gave me your map.”
“My map! Did he take my map? You would think a god could make a map rather than steal mine!”
“That was an avatar of Talos. He is not real flesh and blood but can interact with the environment. That allowed him to snaffle my map!”
“I spoke to Talos?”
“Of The Nine, Talos’ avatar appears on Nirn far more often than the others. Encounters with his avatar are dotted throughout the histories. I think he has been busy lately helping me get things done. I don’t know if he will be helping much going forward.”
“On the way to Yngol’s camp, Rigmor told me how much she dreaded your parting. I expected to find you curled up in a ball and still sobbing.”
“You have lost Bjorn but still smile and move forward. I can do no less when all I am suffering is Rigmor’s temporary absence.”
“No Wulf, that is not how Rigmor explained it. She said there is something unique about your bond. The term soulmate is often used, but Rigmor said it was exactly that. One Soul. One Love. One destiny. She struggled to put it into words, but I understood. That is why I thought you might be fairly distraught.”
“Others get separated. Soldiers go to war. Sailors go to sea.”
“Grief is personal and different for each person. I have had time to come to some acceptance of Bjorn’s death. Just being around Sorella helped a lot as we had both lost loved ones at the same time. Rigmor and you, it was beautiful to witness. Do not try and measure your grief against some imaginary scale of severity!”
“I was lost and could not function. That is why Talos came and helped me. Now I can do what The Divines need me to do. Today I need to go to High Hrothgar.”
“They called you again. Everybody heard it.”
“I assume it has something to do with Alduin.”
“Before we set off, I have a letter here from Baa’Ren-Dar. A Royal Courier delivered it!”
Lydia handed me a letter with Baa’Ren-Dar’s seal on it. The letter said,
“Emperor Titus Mede II wishes to thank the Guardian General for his exemplary service.
His Majesty consulted with Khajiit and suggested some excellent real-estate in Cyrodiil. For reasons you know by now, that was not practical. This one suggested something in Skyrim would be of more use to you.
His Majesty’s Exchequer reminded him of a recently confiscated estate. Turessus Tragain, the man who had it built, paid for it with embezzled funds from the East Empire Company. The Emperor’s cousin, Vittoria Vici, was not too pleased. Tragain is now working in a dismal mine in High Rock. The deed of the estate is now yours.
Jarl Balgruuf the Greater was instructed to provide the deed and keys to you.
Your friend always, Baa’Ren-Dar.”
The letter might sound cold, but I knew why it was terse. Baa’Ren-Dar could not mention his child or Nordling girl or any other hint that I might be interested in Rigmor’s welfare.
I asked Lydia, “Did you receive a key and some paperwork?”
“Yes, Proventus gave them to me last night. I know where the estate is and visited it briefly before coming here. You can see it from Whiterun. It is halfway up the Throat of the World. When the Greybeards called Tiber Septim, their Thu’um caused avalanches and an entire town was destroyed. The estate, Silverpeak Lodge, is built where that town used to be.”
“This is fortuitous. I do not fancy staying in Breezehome anytime soon.”
“There is more news. A young Breton mage called Celestine travelled from Daggerfall to see you. She is a devotee of Kynareth and has been staying in the Whiterun Temple for several days. Priestess Pure-Spring took it upon herself to ask me when you will be returning to Whiterun. When she explained why I said you would be going to your new estate and that I would escort Celestine there.”
“That was thoughtful of you. As I said, I am not keen on visiting Breezehome or any part of Whiterun for that matter.”
“One more thing, a courier delivered some armour in the style of noble clothing. It is from a new store called Divine Elegance. They have yet to put it on the market and would like your appraisal. You are free to keep the armour, of course.”
“Graft and corruption. I could get used to that!”
“Are we going to High Hrothgar now? I have never climbed the seven thousand steps!”
“Well, I have so the horses will be doing the climbing.”
Meeko whined. I said to him, “It will do you good. You are starting to look a bit rotund!”
Meeko growled as we mounted our horses.
It was an uneventful ride to Ivarstead. This quiet on the roads can’t last forever!
It was just before 9:30 AM when we started up the seven thousand steps.
Kyne marked a goat. It was my first kill with my new Khajiit longbow.
It took just under two hours to reach High Hrothgar.
When we entered Arngeir was meditating.
He stood then came to talk to me.
He said, “Rarely does Paarthurnax talk to us. When he does, he is usually calm. This time he was agitated.”
“Paarthurnax said a ‘time-wound’ has appeared at the summit. He urges you to pursue Alduin with all haste. He thinks the time-wound signifies Alduin is approaching his full power. Similar to when the ancient Tongues confronted him during the Dragon Wars.”
“I am not an expert on the metaphysics involved, and it would be a waste right now to ask Paarthurnax for further explanation. I will look for some allies to help me research on how Alduin was Shouted out of this world.”
“It is not a Shout that we know.”
“I thought as much.”
“Sky above, Voice within.”
“Divines bless you.”
We made our way to Kyne’s Shrine.
Lydia sat and watched as Rigmor had done.
I prayed and leant many more Shouts. Some of them were far more powerful than Storm call but just as indiscriminate.
We left High Hrothgar and made our way to Silverpeak Lodge. As we rode, I explained to Lydia what she had just witnessed. She has a way to go before all this god stuff becomes routine.
The roads were still quiet.
Silverpeak Lodge was at the end of a long winding path. I remember seeing it in the distance several times and had ridden past its entry but never thought much of it.
It is huge!
We entered, and Celestine came up to introduce herself.
I said, “Hello, I am Wulf. You must be Celestine.”
“Do you believe in The Nine, Wulf?”
“I am their Champion as well as Dragonborn.”
“I wish to offer my services to you. Not as a mercenary. Food and shelter are all I ask for.”
“Why do you want to accompany me?”
“You will be helping the people of Nirn. By helping you, I too am helping the people of Nirn. That is why.”
“What skills do you have?”
“I do not like to boast, but I doubt you will meet a better practitioner of the Restoration School. I am also a Master in the Destruction School and am very handy with my silver dagger. The staff I carry is unequalled in its destructive power.”
“Have you been in battle before?”
“I am from Daggerfall. We are born fighting.”
“The equipment you carry, even the clothes you wear are of the highest quality.”
“My family’s money is from a long line of merchants that can be traced back to the Direnni Hegemony. However, we have always been far less ruthless and far more charitable I assure you!”
“I am good at judging character. You have practised this confidence and what you wanted to say. I believe you to be the quiet type normally.”
“I am not going to turn away a devout believer in The Nine. You can accompany me today, and if we get into any fights, I will see how you handle yourself. Is that acceptable?”
“Yes, thank you, Dragonborn.”
“Please call me Wulf.”
“Make yourself at home while I have a look around.”
I went investigating and was astounded at the size and quality of Silverpeak Lodge!
I found the armour from Divine Elegance to be of astounding quality and quickly added my usual dweomer to it. While looking around, I found an old-fashioned wooden shield that appealed to me.
Lydia was shocked when she saw me cut off my ponytail and shave my head. I left my stubble as I intend to grow a beard.
I was more than pleased with my new look. When the beard grows, and with my new armour, I am not likely to be recognised as the Guardian General by most who saw me in the Imperial armour.
We left Silverpeak and mounted our horses. Celestine’s was like a larger version of Ben.
Lydia said, “Wulf, it would be nice to know where we are going.”
“Oh, sorry. We are headed for Riverwood to see a lady who may be able to help research the ancient Tongues.”
“Delphine. Rigmor told me all about her. I hope she has learnt her lesson.”
“So do I.”
If we ever had to defend Silverpeak the very long and winding path to it would be of enormous benefit. Any enemy would be subjected to withering spell and archery fire, and if they managed to reach the defenders, they would have to fight uphill.
We made it to Riverwood without any encounters.
We entered the Sleeping Giant Inn then I headed straight for Delphine.
I asked her, “Are you ready to help the Dragonborn now?”
“I heard the Greybeards call you again.”
“Yes, Paarthurnax thinks Alduin is almost at full strength. That is why I am here. We need to find out how the ancient Tongues banished him.”
“I think we should investigate Kynesgrove first.”
“I figured out the order of resurrection by plotting the burial mounds that were recently emptied. The pattern is pretty clear. It seems to be spreading from the southeast, down the Jeralls near Riften. There is an ancient dragon burial near Kynesgrove, and it should be next if the pattern holds. If we can get there before Alduin, we may be able to stop the resurrection or at least observe how it is done.”
“I know that mound. It is high on the hill east of Kynesgrove.”
“Good, then we won’t have to spend time searching for it.”
“Get your armour on Delphine. There is no time to waste. We will wait for you outside.”
Delphine appeared half an hour later. I thought she would be wearing Blade armour, but instead, she wore leather similar to what Rigmor used on our trip to Cassius and Winterhold. I suppose there is a chance we could run into a Thalmor patrol.
I asked her, “Do you have a horse?”
“No, I will run there.”
“OK, then. We will not go too fast. We should not be far ahead of you along the way.”
As we rode out of Riverwood, Celestine asked Lydia, “How many dragons have your fought?”
Lydia replied, “I haven’t even seen one!”
Near the entrance to Silverpeak, some bandits came out to play. Celestine proved extremely handy with her silver dagger even from horseback.
Dozens of bandits streamed out of the twin towers. I used a Shout that proved to be quite brutal. The bandits were sucked up high and through a portal to The Void. Instant death once there but a terrifying trip first!
Meeko would bite a bandit and absorb their lifeforce like a Vampire! It was something new and quite impressive.
We killed more than three dozen bandits before Delphine caught up with us. Celestine was a powerful Destruction mage, and her staff fired all elements at once with devastating effect.
After relative quiet on the roadways, the trip to Kynesgrove was full of encounters, including Vampires.
When we reached Kynesgrove, one of the locals came running to us saying, “Don’t go up the hill! A dragon…it’s attacking!”
“It must be pretty small because I can’t see it!”
“Well, I don’t know. Not yet…but it flew over the town and landed on the old dragon mound.”
“Well, we had better get up there and kill it then.”
“Are you insane? I don’t know what it’s doing up there, but I’m not waiting around to find out!”
We left the horses loose in Kynesgrove in case they had to run for their lives. We jogged up the hill to the burial mound.
We were halfway there when I spotted Alduin.
I said to the others, “Alduin is there. Attack him from range. If he lands, let me be the one dodging his huge mouth full of teeth.”
Funnily enough, none of them argued that they wanted to be the one dodging a giant maw.
A bit further up the hill, Alduin said, “Sahloknir, ziil gro dovah uls.”
I explained to the others, “He just said, ‘Sahloknir, ever-bound dragon spirit!’ He is resurrecting a Dovah called Sahloknir. I will translate, so everybody remembers what they said in Tamrielic!”
Tendrils of blue energy amongst a black miasma reached up from the dragon mound.
Alduin flew through the energy.
Then he hovered.
Alduin used a Shout I had never heard before.
“SLEN TIID VO!”
I said to the others, “That is how Alduin resurrects them. He uses a shout that roughly translates to ‘flesh against time.’ It means ‘let your flesh be restored.’”
The energy vanished then Sahloknir burst from his burial mound. At first, he was a ghostly silhouette of his form.
Then he was a skeleton that flesh and internal organs grew on and in until he was complete.
Sahloknir said to Alduin, “Alduin, thuri! Boaan tiid vokriiha suleyksejun kruziik?”
“Alduin, my overlord! Has the time come to revive the ancient realm?”
Alduin replied, “Geh, Sahloknir, kaali mir.”
“Yes, Sahloknir, my trusted ally.”
Alduin said to me, “Ful, losei Dovahkiin? Zu’u koraav nid nol dov do hi.”
“So, my false Dragonborn? I do not recognise you as a dragon.”
I replied, “Zu’u koraav fin nikriin nol Ahrolsedvah!”
I said to the others, “I told him ‘I recognise the coward from Whiterun.’”
Alduin roared, “Sahloknir, krii daar joorre.”
“Sahloknir, kill these mortals.”
Sahloknir took flight and Alduin flew away. Celestine attacked with Lightning.
Sahloknir said, “I am Sahloknir! Hear my Voice and despair.”
I yelled back, “You are a sacrifice like Mirmulnir before you. Alduin wants to see the strength of my Thu’um, but I do not need to use it to defeat you!”
I did Dragon Aspect and was instantly protected by ghostly Dragonbone armour.
I then hit Sahloknir with Lightning. The strength of my Destruction Magicka was almost twice it was weeks earlier. Sahloknir roared in pain, and I laughed.
Sahloknir hovered backwards as arrows from Lydia and Delphine flew true and imbedded in his flesh and scales.
I kept casting Lightning. Celestine kept firing her exceptional staff. Celestine’s Storm Atronach kept hitting the dragon with lightning bolts. Meeko kept running around barking.
I warned the others, “He is going to swoop or do a ground sweep. Just stay out of his way!”
Lydia yelled, “Die, dragon!”
I yelled at her, “You are going to have to improve your taunts!”
Sahloknir deliberately landed on his belly and slid hundreds of yards along the ground.
It was a stupid manoeuvre as he could not get airborne before Lydia and I hit him with many devastating blows from our swords.
Sahloknir died and could never be resurrected again. I absorbed his soul, and I felt no better about it than the first time I did it. It was wrong. I wish it didn’t happen!
I said, “Well done, everybody. Sahloknir was stronger than Mirmulnir, the dragon at Whiterun, but only a small fraction the strength of Alduin.”
Delphine came up and asked, “Why didn’t you use the Thu’um?”
“I judged Sahloknir to be weak enough that we could use Magicka and normal weapons to kill him. This attack was like a siege where they send in a small force to test the fortifications and look for weaknesses. I was not going to give Alduin the information he was seeking.”
“What do we do next?”
“We need somebody who can help with discovering the Shout the ancient Tongues used. The greatest knowledge on Dov and the Dragon War was held in the Blade archives. A Blade historian or access to those archives would be a good starting point.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t know where any other Blades are hiding. We agreed to separate completely so that the Thalmor can’t torture the locations of others from us.”
“The Thalmor will have information about suspected Blade hiding places.”
“The centre of their operations is the Thalmor Embassy. Not the small one in Solitude but the larger one west of Solitude. We need to get in there and search it. The problem is, that place is locked up tighter than a miser’s purse. They could teach me a few things about paranoia.”
“You are the espionage expert. Tell me, how do I get inside?”
“I’m not sure yet. I have a few ideas, but I’ll need some time to pull things together. Meet me back in Riverwood the day after tomorrow. If I’m not back when you get there, wait for me.”
“I have seen at least half a dozen dragons during my travels the last couple of weeks. I would say Alduin is about to start his offensive, so be careful. They can spot you from a great height and be upon you before you realise that they are there.”
I said to Lydia, “We shall go back to Silverpeak and get some sleep. Tomorrow, we will kill a Necromancer living in Meridia’s Temple near Dragon Bridge.”
“How do you know he is there?”
“Meridia told me.”
“Of course. When do we have a god around for dinner? I want to cook something special.”
I walked up to Celestine and said, “You have shown yourself to be very capable. I would be honoured if you decided to continue travelling with me.”
“You just told Lydia that Meridia spoke to you.”
“Well, she ordered me to do something several weeks ago. I don’t take orders from Daedric Lords. But this will be the first chance I have to get rid of the Necromancer. He is using the dead from the civil war, and I assume the New Order incursion, in some dark rituals. Usually, such things are a path to becoming a Lich.”
“Dragon one day and a powerful Necromancer the next. I would be delighted to continue travelling with you.”
“Great! Let’s go collect our horses and head back to Silverpeak.”
“Before we go, why are you glowing?”
“It is armour created when I used the Dragon Aspect Shout. It is not an offensive Shout so Alduin could not get an idea of the strength of my Thu’um from it.”
Our horses were waiting for us in Kynesgrove and our ride to Silverpeak uneventful. We killed everything on the way, and nothing had time to replace them for the journey back!
It was just after 4:00 AM when we arrived home.
The ladies headed for their beds in the dormitory. I entered my private chamber and stared at the double bed. I have never slept in one without Rigmor beside me!
For a brief moment, I considered dragging a chair over and sleeping next to the bed. I imagined Rigmor’s reaction to that kind of stupid, so I undressed and crawled under the covers.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
It was just after 8:30 AM when I got out of bed. I was feeling a bit grimy so headed for Silverpeak’s spa. Celestine was already there. Naked.
I did a quick turn around and headed for some breakfast instead.
Just as I finished my meal Celestine and Lydia joined me.
- Celestine: Wulf, did I see you come into the spa room?”
- Wulf: Ah…um…
- Lydia: By the colour of his face, I think you did.
- Wulf: I would appreciate it if we all wore dark underwear when using the spa.
- Celestine: You could have used the spa outside.
- Lydia: Out in the ice and snow? Wulf would be worried about shrinkage!
Both ladies laughed.
- Celestine: I would have worn my underwear, but I only have one pair with me.
- Lydia: You wouldn’t want Celestine to have wet underwear all day, would you Wulf?
- Wulf: I am outnumbered. I need to recruit a male to even the numbers!
I left the table, accompanied by more laughter. I went outside and fed the horses.
When the others joined me, I said, “We will ride to Windhelm then use a carriage to Solitude. Meridia’s Temple is not far from there.”
A small group of bandits had moved into the towers we cleared out the day before.
They were soon all dead including three who survived one sword stroke each from Lydia on horseback. She is probably equal to me with the sword and almost my equal with the bow. She is exceptional on horseback.
I saved a Vigilant of Stendarr from a tiger. I don’t know why.
I thought the route to Windhelm would have been quiet. But I was wrong. A Dark Elf attacked.
And he died.
It was just after 1:15 PM when I hired a carriage to take us to Solitude.
It was just before 6:00 PM when we mounted our horses for the short ride to Meridia’s Temple.
Even within sight of Solitude Guards, a suicidal bandit attacked and died. Senseless!
I turned onto the overgrown path to the Temple. It doesn’t look like Meridia has many followers.
There was a Word Wall nearby. I already knew the Power Word, ‘Su’.
I asked the ladies, “Do you want me to read the Word Wall to you.”
Celestine asked, “In Tamrielic?”
“I could convert it to Ta’agra or rough Aldmeris if you want or read it out in Dovahzul.”
“Ah, Tamrielic, thanks.”
“Here lies Fjoldmod Foul-Air who stank as much on earth as his body does now in the ground.”
Celestine commented, “Well, I have read shorter, smaller and more polite headstones!”
I climbed the steps and stood before the statue of Meridia. It was in the Ayleid style with cowl and wings.
The god tried to enter my head as she had at Bleak Falls Barrow. Once again, she was solidly blocked.
Her voice boomed as if being spoken by the statue.
“Look at my Temple, lying in ruins. So much for the constancy of mortals, their crafts and their hearts. If they love me not, how can my love reach them?”
“You have never loved mortals! Your hatred for the undead mostly a crusade against your enemy, Molag Bal. How can you proclaim to love mortals yet lustrate them to create mindless slaves? You call them the Purified because you have stripped them of mortal free will. You sent Aurorans to kill Priests, Priestesses and devout followers of The Divines during Saint Alessia’s Slave Rebellion. I am here to kill a Necromancer who is harming the souls of deceased soldiers, not to listen to your lies. You are an enemy of my gods!”
“Restore to me my beacon, that I might guide you towards your destiny.”
“You have no idea what my destiny is. Just tell me how to get to the Necromancer.”
I placed the beacon in its pedestal. It emitted a beam of light then levitated till it was between the statue’s hands.
Meridia tried once again to get into my mind.
I yelled, “Stop trying to break through my barrier Lady of Greed. Or do you prefer Glister Witch?”
“It is time for my splendour to return to Skyrim. But the token of my truth lies buried in the ruins of my once great Temple, now tainted by a profane darkness skittering within. The Necromancer Malkoran defiles my shrine with vile corruptions, trapping lost souls left in the wake of war to do his bidding. Worse still, he uses the power stored within my own token to fuel his foul deeds. I have brought you here, mortal, to be my Champion. You will enter my Temple, retrieve my artefact, and destroy the defiler.”
“You did not bring me here! I used that wonderful thing called free will and decided to come here by choice. I will enter your Temple and kill Malkoran because it is the right thing to do according to the teachings of The Divines and not to aid you or at your command!”
“Malkoran has forced the doors shut. But this is my Temple, and it responds to my decree. I will send down a ray of light. Guide this light through my Temple and its doors will open.”
As we walked towards the front entrance, Lydia asked, “Do you speak to all gods that way?”
“No, I was quite polite to Azura, Malacath and Boethia. Meridia is my least favourite of the Daedric Princes. She has fooled many mortals in the past with her crusade against the undead. ‘Oh, she must be good!’ say many. She is a traitor to her kind. Once at-Ada then Magna-Ge and now Dark Lord. She is an enslaver of countless mortals who are stripped of free will and made to serve her. She has never aided a mortal unless there is a benefit to her.”
“She hates mortal free will?”
“More than she hates the undead. That is why whenever you deal with her, she will pretend she commands you and that she has made you do as she asks. Nearly all Dark Lords do that, but Meridia takes it to another level. That is shown in the histories that accurately portray her interactions with us.”
We entered the Temple. The architecture was ancient Nordic in design when I was expecting more of an Ayleid influence.
As we travelled through the Temple, many desiccated corpses of Stormcloak and Imperial Legionnaire lay scattered throughout.
We entered a cavern and Meridia’s Light was being directed from outside in a tight beam and onto the same sort of crystalline rock as her Beacon.
I said, “Meridia’s Light was instrumental in destroying Molag Bal’s anchors during the Planemeld. That is another reason some mistakenly think of her as ‘good’.”
Lydia asked, “Would she have helped against any other Daedric Prince?”
“Maybe against Mephala. Their feud seems to have been a long one.”
I touched the pedestal containing the rock. It slowly rose, and the light beam was reflected internally and stuck another rock above locked doors.
The doors swung open.
I warned the others, “I can hear skeletal warriors. They can be weak or if the large type called Bone Lords, very powerful.”
The skeletal warriors inside the Temple were black with red glowing eyes. They wielded the weapons of the dead soldiers whose souls were stolen for their construction. They were not very strong and succumbed quickly to my Destruction Magicka.
Travel through the Temple was a combination of killing the black Skeletal Warriors and touching pedestals. It was as dull as plain porridge!
At one point we had to exit, walk along a small bridge and re-enter through another door.
I was getting even more bored.
At one point I had to warn Celestine, “Please do not jump in front of me. My spells will not hurt you, but my Thu’um will!”
Eventually, we heard Malkoran chanting, and I signalled for the others to wait.
I snuck to the open doorway of a chamber and did Cyclone.
Then I ran into the room with the others charging to join me from further up the corridor.
I quickly cut down a couple of the skeletal warriors not killed by Cyclone.
Then I reached Malkoran who Meeko was already tackling, and Celestine had hit with a blast from her staff.
A backwards swing of my sword sent Malkoran’s head rolling on the floor.
I approached the final pedestal. Embedded in it was a sword.
Meridia’s voice boomed, “It is done! The defiler is defeated. Take Dawnbreaker from its pedestal.”
I removed the sword. It was pretty enough with some of the strange crystal embedded near its pommel.
Meridia said, “Malkoran is vanquished. Skyrim’s dead shall remain at rest. This is as it should be. This is because of you.”
“Because of my companions and me. I did not do this alone.”
“A new day is dawning, and you shall be its herald. Take the mighty Dawnbreaker and with it purge corruption from the dark corners of the world. Wield it in my name, that my influence may grow.”
“I will take your sword so it can be studied and the secrets of your crystals uncovered. I will not wield it! I spread the word of your enemies, The Divines. I would not care if you are forgotten, and this temple crumbles with age.”
“It matters not. The plant cares nothing for the rays that bring forth the warmth of the sun. As you carry Dawnbreaker, so will my light touch the world.”
“You don’t listen, do you? I will not be wielding Dawnbreaker!”
A doorway behind the pedestal opened. We made our way outside.
We collected our horses then made our way to the Four Shields Tavern in Dragon Bridge.
I ordered some food and mead. I rented two rooms, a double room for the ladies and a single for Meeko and me.
After a good chat over a delicious meal, we retired to bed.
Just after 8:00 AM we rode out of Dragon Bridge and headed for Solitude.
We hired a carriage from Solitude to Whiterun.
We arrived in Whiterun at midday. I went over to the Khajiit caravan as I had some gems to sell.
Ri’saad greeted me, “This one welcomes the Champion of Azura!”
“I don’t know which is quicker, the Skyrim courier service or Ri’saad’s gossip network?”
“A certain aged cat asked Khajiit not to refer to your scaly attributes or enquire about your beautiful lady friend. This one does not know or want to know the reason for such discretion but will adhere to that one’s wishes.”
“It is a complex story involving gods and other such confusing matters.”
“This one does not want to get a dizzy head. Do you have gems that Khajiit can steal from you for unfair prices?”
“I sure do.”
I handed Ri’saad a couple of dozen of the better gems recently donated by dead bandits and so on.
He handed the gems to a colleague to value then said to me, “If you happen to be in the vicinity of Riften, Khajiit thinks you may want to visit the prison there.”
“And what will I find in the Riften prison?”
“A most unusual Khajiit without a clan. For some reason that one has been paying exorbitant rent to stay as a voluntary prisoner. My caravan there purchased his equipment at a fair price, but Khajiit believes he may be short of funds.”
“A strange tale indeed. Is wanting to stay in jail that makes him unusual?”
“It is best you meet that one in person and see for yourself. This one knows of him through many tales told around the fireplaces of our travels. If the stories are true, that one would be a perfect companion on dangerous trips.”
“I shall visit him and see what his story is.”
The other Khajiit offered a fair price for the gems. Ri’saad arranged the payment to go into my account then handed me a bundle containing fine but well-worn leather armour and two ebony short swords. He explained, “These are the belongings sold by the one in jail. Tell that one he can pay Khajiit back for them when sufficient funds allow.”
“You are so confident I will take him on as a travel companion?”
“This one had come to that conclusion even before the emissary suggested the same.”
“I would have taken your advice anyway Ri’saad, but that recommendation makes me more intrigued. I will indeed visit this unusual Khajiit.”
“When the defeated army arrived, this one’s caravan was allowed inside the walls of Whiterun after we mentioned your name. The Jarl was astounded when Khajiit volunteered to defend the walls with our longbows. This one explained that we are all citizens of Nirn, and defeating the New Order was not just in the interest of Skyrim.”
“Too bad he hasn’t shown his gratitude after by letting you trade inside.”
“He did, but the marketplace inside is too noisy and chaotic for good bartering. People know Khajiit are here, so here Khajiit will continue to trade.”
“It is good that some others are starting to see we are more alike than different.”
“Yes, it is a slow process.”
“May The Divines bless you and your caravans, Ri’saad.”
“Azura’s blessing to you, my friend.”
As we walked towards our horses, Celestine said, “It is sad the Khajiit no longer use the Moonpaths within High Rock. They were the original custodians of much of Tamriel, long before Man or Mer stepped upon its soil.”
“Yes, the Khajiit were driven out by the Direnni Hegemon who regarded them as competitors in trade. I am not quite sure why they left Skyrim, but along with the Falmer and the Snow Elves, their history makes a mockery of the claim, ‘Skyrim is for the Nords.’”
We had no encounters on our ride to Riverwood. The number of suicidal bandits must be less by now!
We found Delphine in her ‘secret’ room.
She asked, “What happened to your other lady friend? She was not with us to fight that dragon.”
“She is elsewhere on business. Now, do you have a way into the embassy?”
“Yes, I do.”
“I am impressed. That did not take long.”
“I’ve been doing this a long time, remember? While the Thalmor have been looking for me, I’ve been watching them.”
“So, what is your plan? How do I infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy?”
“The Thalmor ambassador, Elenwen, regularly throws parties where the rich and connected cosy up to the Thalmor. I can get you into one of those parties. Once you are inside the Embassy, you can sneak away and find Elenwen’s secret files.”
“I assume you have a contact within the embassy to help me, ‘sneak away and find Elenwen’s secret files.’”
“Yes, I do. He is not up for this kind of high-risk mission, but he can help you. His is a Wood Elf called Malborn. He has plenty of reasons to hate the Thalmor. You can trust him.”
“With your level of paranoia, it must take a lot to gain your trust.”
“The Thalmor wiped out his family in Valenwood during one of their purges that we never hear about. He hates the Thalmor at least as much as I do.”
“The Khajiit are wary of such an attempt at cleansing in Elsweyr. The Dominion would find them a lot harder to tame than the Bosmer.”
“I’ll get word to Malborn to meet you in Solitude at the Winking Skeever. Do you know it?”
“If it is an inn, then it will be easy to find.”
“While you are doing that, I’ll work on getting you an invitation to Elenwen’s little party. Meet me at the Solitude stables after you have arranged things with Malborn. Any questions?”
“Are Elenwen’s quarters within the main embassy?”
“No, she shares a solar with a couple of other senior Thalmor. It just so happens to house the dungeons, so she doesn’t have far to go when she wants to interrogate somebody.”
“OK, I will meet you at the Solitude stables.”
We rode to Whiterun then took a carriage to Solitude.
We stabled our horses and headed for Solitude’s front entrance.
As we walked, Celestine asked, “Why have you never been to Solitude?”
“I might have as it does seem familiar. But I don’t remember anything about it.”
“The Divines took away my memory. The seventeenth of last month was the first day of my new life. I don’t know why they did it, but I have accepted that it was necessary.”
“Oh, that is very sad and…well…”
“Strange? Very! When you hear a song, you probably remember where you first heard it. A lot of your knowledge is attached to such memories. I know a lot of things, but I don’t know where I learnt them or from whom.”
“Yes, very strange is an appropriate description.”
“It doesn’t mean I am not going to try and get my memory back. Talos knows I am stubborn like that.”
“You were nice to him when you spoke to him? Like you were with Boethia and Azura and Malacath?”
“I love him dearly, but I was a bit abrupt. He seemed to have been used to it. Maybe we have had encounters in the past.”
“Travelling with you is very strange as well.”
The sense of Déjà vu increased as we got closer to the gates. When we stepped inside the city, I was sure I had been there before. It was no use trying to dredge up memories of when and why.
The Winking Skeever was easy to find. We just had to follow the smell of mead and step around the drunks.
It was by far the largest inn that I have visited so far.
Even though the place was crowded, there was only one small Mer sitting by himself.
I sat in the seat opposite him and said, “Hello, our mutual friend sent me.”
“Really? You are who she picked? I hope she knows what she is doing.”
“I am the Dragonborn. So, use your whiny little voice to tell me what I need to know before I shove that bread up your nose.”
“Oh…um…here is the deal. I can smuggle some equipment into the Embassy for you. Don’t plan on bringing anything else in with you. The Thalmor take security very seriously. Give me what you can’t live without, and I’ll make sure to get it into the Embassy. The rest is up to you.”
“Luckily, I am not wearing my plate mail as you wouldn’t be able to carry it! Wait here while I change. I will be right back.”
I went to the privy and changed into my silk attire. I then returned to Malborn and said, here you are. That stuff is worth a fortune so don’t lose it!”
Malborn struggled with the bundle I gave him and staggered out the inn.
We made our way back to the stables, where Delphine was waiting for us.
Delphine asked, “Have you given Malborn the gear you want to smuggle into the embassy?”
“Yes, I hope he doesn’t get crushed by it.”
“Good. Here is your invitation to the party.”
I took the invitation from Delphine and had a close look at it.
I told her, “An excellent forgery!”
“Thank you. The only way you’re going to get past the guards is if they believe you’re a guest. Which means you need to look the part and not be armed to the teeth. Here, put this on.”
Delphine handed me a set of expensive clothes that were worth a fraction of what I was wearing.
“Um…what is wrong with the silk outfit I am wearing?”
“It needs a wash.”
I had a close look, and she was right.
“I will change inside the mill.”
I walked into the mill and changed into the clothes Delphine gave me.
They were not my style but probably the sort of thing a wealthy merchant might wear.
I said to Delphine, “I am ready. I will just speak to my colleagues before I go.”
“I will wait for your report in Riverwood. Good luck.”
I said to Lydia, “Ride to the entrance of the Thalmor Embassy. Take Hashire with you. Stay out of sight of the guards. When I am ready to leave, I will whistle, and Meeko will hear me.”
Celestine asked, “What if we hear fighting?”
“Under no circumstances are you to enter the grounds of the embassy!”
Delphine had hired a carriage which took me to the party.
As I climbed off the carriage, a Redguard was walking by.
He said, “Ah! A fellow latecomer to Elenwen’s little soiree. And arriving by carriage, no less! I salute you, sir! My lateness is due more to me getting lost on the way up this gods-forsaken mountain than to any desire to arrive late. I prefer to arrive early. Often the day before the party. So as not to miss out on any of the drinking.”
“Why get here early? They bring out the cheap wines first. Only when they run out, do they dip into the good stuff!”
“Ah, a connoisseur. There’s not enough drinking in the world today, wouldn’t you agree?”
I walked up to a Thalmor Wizard who was acting as the doorman.
He said, “Welcome to the Thalmor Embassy. Your invitation, please.”
I showed him my invitation.
He said, “Thank you, sir. Go right in.”
I entered the embassy, and a high ranking Thalmor approached me. I noticed Malborn standing near a doorway.
She said, “Welcome. I don’t believe we’ve met. I am Elenwen, the Thalmor Ambassador to Skyrim. And you are?”
“Wow! Quite a party you have going on here! Ahh…where are the drinks? I have to catch up with me being late and all.”
“Don’t worry. My parties are always well stocked with the finest food and drink available in this country. But first, you were introducing yourself. Please, tell me more about yourself. What brings you to this…to Skyrim?”
I had been holding one in for some time. I let rip a loud and very odorous fart.
Elenwen wrinkled her nose, and her look of contempt could have melted a diamond.
I stammered, “Pardon me! It must be that Elsweyr Chowder I had for lunch. Oh, no…another one is about to erupt!”
“Well, maybe we can get better acquainted later. Please, enjoy yourself.”
Elenwen walked quickly away, and I had to suppress a giggle. I bet Delphine’s manual on how to be a Blade spy doesn’t mention that technique!
A bunch of people I did not know were standing around not having a good time at all. I assumed the young woman in the green dress was Jarl Elisif. The other guests were probably Jarls as well. I doubt they would risk mixing Stormcloak and Imperial supporters so all of those present must be Imperial supporters because Elisif certainly is.
The Redguard was sitting by himself, and I formulated a plan.
I walked up to one of the servants and asked, “Is that Colovian Brandy?”
“Yes, Sir. Only the best for our guests.”
I took a goblet of wine then said, “Thank you, this will go down nicely.”
I walked over to the somewhat gloomy and way too sober Redguard.
I said to him, “Here, I brought you a Colovian Brandy. Not bad to start with.”
“Ah, the one generous soul amongst a gathering of pinch-pennies and lick-spittles. If there’s anything I can ever do for you, do not hesitate to call upon me!”
“Funny you should say that. I need a distraction. Can you get everybody’s attention for a minute or two?”
“My friend, you have come to the right person. You could say that causing a scene is somewhat of a speciality of mine. Stand back and behold my handiwork.”
The Redguard stood in the middle of the room and did a dialogue full of bad puns and innuendos. Everybody stared at him, and the guards moved in to remove him.
I quickly made my way to Malborn. He said, “Let’s go, let’s go! Before anyone notices us.”
Since Malborn forgot to close the door into the party room, I did it for him. Is he supposed to be competent?
He said, ‘So far so good. Let’s hope nobody saw us slip out.”
“If they come looking, I will give you a big kiss and call you my sweet little Bosmer Bed Buddy. Then they will think we have come here for a quick fling. Maybe you should undo your belt and fly to make it look more convincing?”
“What? NO! That is disgusting!”
I said, “Oh well. It is the thought that counts. Perhaps later then?” and gave Malborn a big wink.
“NO! NO! Now quiet! We need to pass through the kitchen. Your gear is hidden in the larder. Just stay close and let me do any talking, got it? Follow me.”
“Follow behind your cute behind. I got it.”
Malborn looked at me in alarm then quickly entered the kitchen. I followed, and when he glanced back, I was staring at his derrière and smiling.
A Khajiit cook said, “Who comes, Malborn? You know I don’t like strange smells in my kitchen.”
“Nobody has come yet, but that will soon change won’t it Malborn my dearest?” I replied.
Malborn quickly said, “A…a guest. He is feeling ill. Leave the poor wretch be.”
“A guest? In the kitchens? You know this is against the rules.”
“Rules, is it, Tsavani? I didn’t realise that eating Moon Sugar was permitted.”
Tsavani replied, “Tss! Get out of here. I saw nothing.”
I entered the larder then Malborn said, “Your gear is in that chest. I’ll lock the door behind you. Don’t screw this up.”
I stood there, and Malborn said, “Hurry it up. I’ve got to get back before I am missed.”
“Oh, you want to watch me undress!”
I slowly started undoing my belts while gyrating and grinning. Malborn quickly turned the other way.
One of the advantages of my new armour is that I can take it on and off almost as quickly as clothing. The process would have been far noisier and taken a lot longer if I had to change into plate mail.
After ten minutes, I was ready to go.
I tapped Malborn on the shoulder. He squealed while jumping about three feet in the air.
He turned around with fear in his eyes. I just glared at him.
“Go on then. If someone misses me at the party, we are both dead.”
“I could kill everybody here and not break a sweat. Stop whining like a milk drinker!”
He had barely woken the dragon, but it was enough for him to see it in my eyes. He recoiled.
I exited into a corridor and quietly shut the door behind me. I could hear two guards talking in the room I had to pass through. I used Slow Time and killed them both before they could draw weapons.
When one of them fell, he knocked down a platter which made enough noise to wake the dead. A Thalmor Wizard came to investigate. Another Slow Time then a sword through his middle and he ceased to be a problem.
I used my dragon sight but could not detect anybody else in this part of the embassy. I methodically searched each room looking for any information.
I found nothing useful so cast invisibility before exiting into the courtyard.
There were a couple of dozen Thalmor, and I could not let them live. They are all guilty of the terror, torture and death of countless citizens of many countries.
I headed to the middle of the courtyard and then did Storm Call. Anybody inside would just think it was a thunderstorm. The Thalmor outside died.
There was no guilt or qualms. It was justice.
I entered the solar.
A Justiciar was dressing down an informant called Gissur. It seems this Gissur was providing information on the possible whereabouts of somebody the Thalmor were hunting. Somebody called Etienne knew where the hunted was.
The storm outside was making so much noise that it was easy for me to sneak up and slit the throat of a guard. If you are guarding a door, it is better to face the door. He was an idiot. Now he is a dead idiot.
Gissur was next.
Before Gissur’s corpse hit the floor, I was over the table and slitting the throat of the Justiciar.
Dragon sight showed nobody else in the solar, so I took my time and searched the bodies, cupboards, bookshelves etc.
I retrieved a key from the Justiciar.
Gissur had nothing useful.
In a locked chest, I found a report titled, ‘Dragon Investigation: Current Status.’ It said,
“First Emissary Elenwen,
We anticipate a breakthrough in our efforts to uncover the party or power behind the dragon resurrection phenomenon. An informant has identified a possible lead, whom we have brought back to the Embassy for a full interrogation. The subject is obstinate, but by all indications is holding back the information we seek. I have authorised Intermediate Manual Uncoiling – I do not expect more will be necessary unless you feel time presses.
I know you prefer to be present for the final questioning; I will inform you immediately when the subject is fully receptive. Two days tell the tale.
In the meantime, if you wish to audit our technique, your expertise is welcome, as always. I have placed the prisoner in the cell closest to your office stairs for your convenience.
–Rulindil, 3rd Em.”
The Justiciar I just killed was called Rulindil. Etienne, who the dead Gissur had informed on, was being held in the dungeon and has been tortured. Manual Uncoiling is not pleasant. They slice open your stomach then use a hook to grab your intestine. Then they pull it out bit by bit. I hope Etienne is still alive and able to escape. I will not leave him here.
If it did not risk innocents, including the Jarls, being killed, I would slaughter every Thalmor in the embassy, including Elenwen. They have no jurisdiction to do what they are doing. It is kidnapping and murder.
In the locked chest were three dossiers. This is Delphine’s,
“Status: Active (Capture or Kill), High Priority, Emissary Level Approval
Description: Female, Breton, mid-50s
Background: Delphine was a high-priority target during the First War, for both operational and political reasons. She was directly involved in several of the most damaging operations carried out by the Blades within the Dominion. She had been identified and slated for the initial purge, but by bad luck was recalled to Cyrodiil just before the outbreak of hostilities. During the war, she evaded three attempts on her life, in one case killing an entire assassination team. Since then, we have only indirect evidence of her movements, as she has proven extremely alert to our surveillance. She should be considered very dangerous, and no move against her should be made without overwhelming force and the most careful preparation.
Operational Notes: She is believed to be still working actively against us within Skyrim, although we have no location on her. Assumed to be working alone, as no other Blades are known to be active in Skyrim, and she has in the past avoided contact with other fugitive Blades for her security (one of the reasons she has so far evaded elimination). Her continued existence is an insult to all of us. Any information on her whereabouts or activities should be immediately forwarded to the Third Emissary.”
It seems Delphine had reason to believe she could kill me if she so chose. It would have been a harsh and quick lesson in reality if she tried. Rigmor could have sliced her in two as well.
After three assassination attempts on her life, I can understand Delphine’s paranoia.
The next dossier was for Ulfric Stormcloak,
“Status: Asset (uncooperative), Dormant, Emissary Level Approval
Description: Jarl of Windhelm, leader of Stormcloak rebellion, Imperial Legion veteran
Background: Ulfric first came to our attention during the First War Against the Empire, when he was taken as a prisoner of war during the campaign for the White-Gold Tower. Under interrogation, we learned of his potential value (son of the Jarl of Windhelm), and he was assigned as an asset to the interrogator, who is now First Emissary Elenwen. He was made to believe the information obtained during his interrogation was crucial in the capture of the Imperial City (the city had fallen before he had broken) and then allowed to escape. After the war, contact was established, and he has proven his worth as an asset. The so-called Markarth Incident was particularly valuable from the point of view of our strategic goals in Skyrim, although it resulted in Ulfric becoming generally uncooperative to direct contact.
Operational Notes: Direct contact remains a possibility (under extreme circumstances), but in general, the asset should be considered dormant. As long as the civil war proceeds in its current indecisive fashion, we should remain hands-off. The incident at Helgen is an example where an exception had to be made. Ulfric’s death would have dramatically increased the chance of an Imperial victory and thus harmed our overall position in Skyrim. (NOTE: The coincidental intervention of the dragon at Helgen is still under scrutiny. The obvious conclusion is that whoever is behind the dragons also has an interest in the continuation of the war, but we should not assume therefore that their goals align with our own.) A Stormcloak victory is also to be avoided, however, so even indirect aid to the Stormcloaks must be carefully managed.”
Ulfric is a coward and a traitor as well as being a king killer! I wonder what would happen if I made this dossier public? No wonder he was so calm during Alduin’s attack on Helgen. He knew his Thalmor friends would come and rescue him. The young Stormcloak who was the first to speak to me when I awoke, Ralof, had made it to safety then went back outside to try and find his leader, Ulfric. I wonder if he died in a futile attempt to find a coward already whisked away by the Thalmor.
I was hoping to end the civil war with as little bloodshed as possible. I think this dossier just gave me a way to do that.
The third dossier was on the Headmaster of the Bards College,
“Status: Liability (uncooperative), High Priority, Emissary Level Approval
Description: Headmaster of the Bards College in Solitude, Altmer, Male, 40s
We have reason to believe that Viarmo has access to information from officials in the highest levels of government throughout Skyrim. An operation in which an agent planted false information confirmed that he sells these secrets to both the Imperial Army and to the Stormcloaks, perhaps to Ulfric himself. We have not been able to confirm the method by which he obtains his information, but we believe it may be through his ties with other bards at the college who entertain in the courts of Skyrim’s jarls. Until this suspicion can be disproved, all agents are directed to be on guard in the presence of wandering minstrels.
Agents should not directly contact Viarmo or any of his suspected accomplices under any circumstances. An operation is ongoing to convert Viarmo into an asset for his homeland, whereby he would provide us access to his information network and assist us in counter-intelligence activities. The operation thus far has not been successful, and the subject remains stubbornly uncooperative. However, the potential benefit of the network he has created is significant enough that the Emissary has declared that he be allowed to live for the time being so that further attempts can be made to persuade him.”
Maybe I can help Viarmo get the Thalmor off his back. I will look into it at a later time.
I found nothing else of use so headed to the dungeons.
I could hear moaning from one of the cells. Most probably Etienne, although the Thalmor tend to collect citizens on a regular basis and illegally.
Dragon Sight showed only one guard.
I snuck up behind him while invisible then cut his throat. I searched the guard’s body and retrieved a key.
The prisoner still had an uncut stomach. At least I have spared him that unpleasant experience.
I unlocked the cell door and approached him.
I asked, “Is your name Etienne?”
“I told you, I don’t know anything about it.”
“I am not here to torture you, Etienne. I am here to free you.”
I undid the manacles then Etienne fell to the ground.
He crouched while the cramping in his muscles subsided.
I told him, “Somebody called Gissur blabbed about you to the Thalmor. I cut his throat, so you don’t have to.”
“What information were they trying to get out of you?”
“They’re after some old guy named Esbern. Something to do with dragons. That is what I gathered from listening to them talk when they thought I was out. I’ve seen a guy in Riften who they seem to think is him. That was not much to go on. I don’t even know where he lives or his name. But they seemed pretty excited about it. That’s it. Now let’s get out of here.”
“If you know a way out, take it. I have unfinished business here.”
“No problem. Thanks for springing me. I owe you. Look me up in Riften if you make it out.”
Just then a Thalmor called out, “Listen up, spy! You’re trapped in here, and we have your accomplice.”
Malborn called out, “Never mind. I’m dead already…”
I went invisible, climbed the stairs and killed the two Thalmor guards in seconds.
Malborn whined, “Now the Thalmor will be hunting me for the rest of my life. I hope it was worth it.”
“How about that fact I will be fighting Alduin the World Eater and the information I gather here may be vital to me winning. So shut the fuck up with that whiny little voice of yours!”
I searched the guard and found a key different than the one I used to unlock the cell.
There was a trunk I had not yet searched. I had to pick its lock. Inside was a dossier on a Blade called Esbern,
“Status: Fugitive (Capture Only), Highest Priority, Emissary Level Approval
Description: Male, Nord, late 70s
Background: Esbern was one of the Blades lore masters before the First War Against the Empire. He was not a field agent but is believed to have been behind some of the most damaging operations carried out by the Blades during the pre-war years, including the Falinesti Incident and the breach of the Blue River Prison. His file had remained dormant for many years, an inexcusable error on the part of my predecessor (who has been called to Alinor for punishment and re-education), in the erroneous belief that he was unlikely to pose a threat due to his advanced age and lack of field experience. A salutary reminder to all operational levels that no Blades agent should be considered low priority for any reason. All are to be found, and justice exacted upon them.
Operational Notes: As we are still in the dark as to the cause and meaning of the return of the dragons, I have made capturing Esbern our top priority, as he is known to be one of the experts in the dragonlore of the Blades. Regrettably, we have yet to match their expertise on the subject of dragons, which was derived from their Akaviri origins and is still far superior to our own (which remains mostly theoretical). The archives of Cloud Ruler Temple, which is believed to have been the primary repository of the oldest Blades lore, were largely destroyed during the siege. Although great effort has been made to reconstruct what was lost, it now appears that most of the records related to the dragons were either removed or destroyed before our attack. Thus, Esbern remains our best opportunity to learn how and why the dragons have returned. It cannot be ruled out that the Blades themselves are somehow connected to the dragons’ return.
We have recently obtained reliable information that Esbern is still alive and hiding somewhere in Riften. Interrogation of a possible eyewitness is ongoing. We must proceed carefully to avoid Esbern being alerted to his danger. If he is indeed in Riften, he must not be allowed to flee.”
Esbern is just what I was hoping to find, a Blades scholar.
Now, I know the Thalmor are not the brightest creatures on Nirn, but to suspect the Blades of being responsible for the dragons is idiotic in the extreme.
I walked past a table and torture rack. The different devices for uncoiling were prominent. The Thalmor are such charming people!
Etienne was standing in front of a trapdoor. I said to him and Malborn, “We could probably just walk out the front gate since I have killed every Thalmor outside of the embassy buildings, and most of them inside. But let us see where this trapdoor leads to.”
Malborn asked, “What did you say? You have killed the dozens of guards outside?”
“So far, I have killed thirty-eight Thalmor since leaving the party. Do you think I was the right choice now? Or do you think they are going to blame you for all those deaths?”
Etienne asked, “Who are you?”
“I am the Dragonborn, and I don’t like the Thalmor.”
Etienne laughed as I unlocked the trapdoor.
We entered a rather smelly cavern. I jumped down a ledge and killed a noisy troll.
There was a dead mage who seemed to have been the last victim of the troll.
Next to the body was an unusual gem. I put it with the others and will ask the Khajiit to appraise it.
It was only a small cavern, and we were soon at its exit.
We made it outside then Malborn scampered away like he had a dragon chasing him.
Etienne said, “You didn’t have to help me, so…thanks.”
“I would never leave somebody in the hands of the Thalmor. No thanks needed.”
Etienne jogged away. I made my way to the front of the embassy.
I whistled. Meeko led Lydia and Celestine to me.
Lydia asked, “Did you get what you came for?”
“Yes. We will be making a trip to Riften soon.”
As we rode to Solitude, I told my companions about the fun time I had at the party.
We hired a carriage from Solitude to Whiterun. The ladies caught up on some sleep while I planned what to do with Ulfric’s dossier.
It was an uneventful ride from Whiterun to Riverwood. We arrived just before 6:00 AM.
We made our way into the Sleeping Giant Inn.
Then I went to speak to Delphine in her ‘secret’ room.
I said to her, “I’m back. It wasn’t exactly a textbook stealth mission, but it was a success.”
“Did you learn anything useful?”
“Apart from the Thalmor being ignorant about dragons and even suspecting the Blades are behind their reappearance?”
“Really? That seems hard to believe. Are you sure about that?”
“No, I am so stupid it is amazing that I remember to breathe.”
“I’m sorry. Anything else.”
“A lot of good information of no relevance to dragons except they are looking for a Blades Scholar called Esbern. They believe he is somewhere in Riften.”
“Esbern? Is he alive? I thought the Thalmor must have got him years ago. That crazy old man…It figures the Thalmor would be in his trail, though, if they are trying to find out what’s going on with the dragons.”
“Well, hopefully, this Esbern will know about the Shout that was used.”
“If he is in Riften he is probably hiding somewhere in the Ratway. That is where I would go.”
“We will head straight away for Riften. Is there anybody who might be able to guide us?”
“Talk to Brynjolf. He’s…well connected. A good starting point at least.”
“Well connected? Is he a member of the Thieves Guild?”
“Then, I shall find another way of finding Esbern. I want no association with them at the moment.”
“That is up to you. When you find Esbern…if you think I am paranoid…you may have some trouble getting him to trust you. Just ask him where he was on the 30th of Frostfall. He’ll know what I mean.”
“He was either at the Falinesti Incident or the breach of the Blue River Prison. By the way, good job surviving three assassination attempts.”
“What else do you now know?”
“Your brassier size and favourite colour of underwear. With who you lost your virginity and your most depraved sexual encounter. I just love reading Thalmor dossiers!”
Delphine turned red, which was quite amusing.
I said, “I will return with Esbern soon.”
Delphine was still lost for words when I left to gather my companions for a trip to Riften.