Skyrim quests: Alduin’s Bane, The Fallen, Reunification of Skyrim.
At about 8:30 AM, we were ready to trek to the summit and use the Elder Scroll.
Inigo is a morning person. One of those individuals who would probably welcome the day of their execution with enthusiasm.
He said, “A new day stretches before us. Let us not waste it, my friend!”
“I agree. Let us all skip on our way to meeting the World-Eater while singing happy songs!”
“That is the spirit!”
I Shouted our way to the summit.
Paarthurnax watched as we approached. I am getting quite proficient in reading Dov body language. Probably for the first time in thousands of years, the old dragon was excited about something.
I stood before him and held out the Elder Scroll.
He said, “You have it! The Kel – the Elder Scroll. Tiid kreh… qalos. Time shudders at its touch.”
“As I shudder when I look at the Time-Wound.”
“There is no question. You are doom-driven. Kogaan Akatosh. The very bones of the earth are at your disposal.”
“My mortal friends here helped me as much as any Divine.”
“Go then. Fulfil your destiny. Take the Scroll to the Time-Wound. Do not delay. Alduin will be coming. He cannot miss the signs.”
I stood in the middle of the Time-Wound and felt like emptying my stomach.
I said to my friends, “I will stand here, transfixed and not moving. I may even fade out a little or entirely. Do not worry about me but keep your eyes to the sky. Face the four cardinal points and be prepared to fight for your life as soon as Alduin appears. None of the other dragons will have prepared you for his strength.”
I had not mentioned to them that reading the Elder Scroll could send me blind or insane. I took a couple of deep breaths then read the Kel.
My friends faded from view and were replaced by Paarthurnax’s friends, the three ancient Tongues.
Here I record, for the first time, the heroic deeds of those ancient Tongues.
Hakon came running up the path that now leads to High Hrothgar with a dragon in pursuit.
Hakon yelled, “Gormlaith! We are running out of time! The battle…”
The dragon landed behind Hakon then said, “Daar sul thur se Alduin. Today Alduin’s lordship shall be restored. But I honour your courage. Krif voth ahkrin. Die now, in vain.”
Hakon stopped running, turned then attacked the dragon while yelling, “For Skyrim!”
The dragon tried to burn Hakon with Dragonfire. The Tongue must have had protective dweomer; otherwise, he would have joined the other burnt husks littering the summit.
When fire proved ineffective, the dragon resorted to his formidable array of teeth as his primary weapon. Hakon would dodge the giant maw and swing his battleaxe in return. The battleaxe has the same weakness as other two-handed weapons. They are slow and easy to avoid, which the dragon did easily. Hakon would tire long before the dragon did and he would eventually get caught in those massive jaws.
A loud, “Hyah!” announced the arrival of Gormlaith. She ran up and sliced the dragon across his face with her sword. When the dragon recoiled, she leapt upon its head and started to stab and cut at a frenetic pace.
As the dragon weakened, she said, “Know that Gormlaith sent you down to death!”
While the dragon writhed in its death throws Gormlaith leapt back to the ground.
The pair walked towards Felldir, the third of these heroic Tongues of old.
- Gormlaith: Hakon! A glorious day is it not!
- Hakon: Have you no thought beyond the blooding of your blade?
- Gormlaith: What else is there?
- Hakon: The battle below goes ill. If Alduin does not rise to our challenge, I fear all may be lost.
- Gormlaith: You worry too much, brother. Victory will be ours.
- Hakon: Why does Alduin hang back? We’ve staked everything on this plan of yours, old man.
- Felldir: He will come. He cannot ignore our defiance. And why should he fear us, even now?
- Gormlaith: We’ve bloodied him well. Four of his kin have fallen to my blade alone this day.
- Felldir: But none have yet stood against Alduin himself. Galthor, Sorri, Birkir…
- Gormlaith: They did not have Dragonrend. Once we bring him down, I promise I shall have his head.
- Felldir: You do not understand. Alduin cannot be slain like a lesser dragon. He is beyond our strength, which is why I brought with me the Elder Scroll.
Felldir reached into the folds of his robes then held forth an Elder Scroll. He quickly hid it again lest a Dov sees what he had.
- Hakon: Felldir! We agreed not to use it!
- Felldir: I never agreed. And if you are right, I will not need it.
- Hakon: No. We will deal with Alduin ourselves, here and now.
- Gormlaith: We shall see soon enough. Alduin approaches!
The World-Eater roared then landed upon a Word Wall.
In a deep, baritone voice, Alduin said, “Meyye! Tahrodiis aanne! Him hinde pah livv! Zu’u hin daan!”
(Fools! Treacherous slaves! All your hopes are withered. I am your doom!)
Gormlaith yelled, “Let those who watch from Sovngarde envy us this day!”
Alduin lifted from the Word Wall with a roar and meteors showered upon The Throat of the World.
All three Tongues Shouted, “JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
The blue glow of Dragonrend surrounded Alduin who had no choice but to land.
He growled, “Nivahriin joorre! What have you done? What twisted Words have you created?! Tahrodiis Paarthurnax! My teeth to his neck! But first… dir ko maar. You will die in terror, knowing your final fate… To feed my power when I come for you in Sovngarde!”
Gormlaith ran to Alduin and said, “If I die today, it will not be in terror. You feel fear for the first time, worm. I see it in your eyes.”
The three Tongues engaged Alduin with weapon and Thu’um.
Felldir Shouted, “FO KRAH DIIN”
Even with the might of Felldir’s Thu’um, Frost Breath had little impact on Alduin.
Gormlaith yelled, “Skyrim will be free!”
Alduin’s mouth snapped closed around Gormlaith, killing her instantly. He then shook her body and threw it against the Word Wall with such force it bounced back almost to where she had been standing.
Hakon yelled, “No, damn you! It’s no use! Use the Scroll, Felldir! Now!”
As Hakon engaged Alduin, Felldir sheathed his sword and stepped back.
Alduin covered Hakon in Dragonfire, and unlike that of the weaker Dovah, it started to damage the brave Tongue.
Felldir held forth the Elder Scroll and yelled, “Hold, Alduin on the Wing! Sister Hawk, grant us your sacred breath to make this contract heard! Begone, World-Eater! By words with older bones than your own, we break your perch on this age and send you out! You are banished! Alduin, we shout you out from all our endings unto the last!”
Halfway through his recitation, Alduin noticed what Felldir was doing and turned his Dragonfire upon him. Hakon felt to his knees. His life almost spent.
But Alduin could not prevent Felldir finishing, and the power of Kyne dragged Alduin into the flow of time.
Alduin’s last words of that age were, “Faal Kel…?! Nikriinne…”
(The Elder Scroll…!? Cowards…)
When Alduin finally faded entirely from that time, Felldir finished with, “You are banished!”
The badly injured Hakon stammered, “It worked… you did it…”
Felldir replied, “Yes, the World-Eater is gone… may the spirits have mercy on our souls.”
My mind slowly returned to the present and Alduin hovering overhead.
He said to me, “Bahloki nahkip sillesejoor. My belly is full of the souls of your fellow mortals, Dovahkiin. Die now and await your fate in Sovngarde!”
Paarthurnax replied, “Lost funt. You are too late, Alduin!”
Alduin said, “Suleyki mulaag, Paarthurnax. My power has waxed, while yours has waned. Aav uv dir. Join me or perish with your mortal friends.”
Paarthurnax replied, “Unslaad hokoron! Never again!”
Paarthurnax went to take flight, and I yelled, “No, Paarthurnax, he is too strong on the wing. Let us defeat him, so he knows mortals alone defeated him once more.”
I Shouted, “JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
The glow of Dragonrend surrounded Alduin who landed without much control in front of me.
Another Dragonrend ensured he stayed grounded as my friends and I attacked with weapon and Magicka.
We were having some success getting through Alduin’s scales and causing damage to the flesh beneath.
As I prepared another Dragonrend, I had to block a thrust of his head with my shield. I was knocked flying and lay dazed. Alduin too to the sky and said, “I have feasted on many greater than you!”
I got to my feet then warned the others, “He will use the mountain to shield himself against my Thu’um.”
Alduin cleverly used the terrain to his advantage, and I could not hit him with Dragonrend. However, the arrows and Destructive spells we used wore him down.
Alduin was growing weaker, so he decided to land and attack me. He said, “You will pay for your defiance!”
As Alduin landed, I braced myself. I stared at my sword and thought of Rigmor.
Then I saw Rigmor sitting on a bed, gripping tightly to her Amulet of Talos. She whispered, “I love you, my silly, wonderful, Dragonborn!”
I swung my sword with all the might I had while Dragonrend echoed and the ground shook.
Alduin was stunned by my blow. My friends surrounded him and rained many more upon him.
Alduin was enraged! He roared then meteors rained down upon us. He circled trying to snare the defiant mortals in his jaws, but we were all too quick, too skilled and too nimble.
I landed another mighty blow to his head then he ceased to fight.
I said to the others, “Cease. We have done what we can on this plane.”
My friends stood and watched as I talked to Alduin.
He said, “Meyz mul, Dovahkiin. You have become strong.”
“And you are as weak as I thought.”
“I am Al-du-in, Firstborn of Akatosh! Mulaagi zok lot! I cannot be slain here, by you or anyone else! You cannot prevail against me, and I will outlast you… mortal!”
“Your strength is the greatest? Is that why you are going to run and hide in Sovngarde now? Do not think I will give you time to regain what little strength you had. Your time in Mundus will end soon.”
Alduin feebly lifted into the air then Paarthurnax flew circles around him, mocking Alduin’s weakness with his aerobatic skills.
Paarthurnax became tired of the game. He laughed then landed nearby.
I called out to my friends, “Is everybody here and healthy?”
I received a ‘Yes’ from each in turn.
I closed my eyes, held my Amulet of Talos and said, “We have won a battle but not the war. Do not fear my beloved, for he is not as strong as our love.”
“Who is he speaking to?” asked Iona.
Lydia replied, “The other half of his soul.”
Paarthurnax made a short flight to the Word Wall, and I went to speak to him.
He said, “Lot krongrah. You truly have the Voice of a dovah. Alduin’s allies will think twice after this victory.”
“It is a battle won but not the end of the war.”
“Ni liivrah hin mere. True, this is not the final krongah – victory. But not even the heroes of old were able to defeat Alduin in open battle. Alduin always was pahlok – arrogant in his power. Uznahgar paar. He took domination as his birth right. This should shake the loyalty of the Dov who serve him.”
“He has fled to Sovngarde and will soon be strong enough to return. The New Order and Ulfric Stormcloak have ensured he has plenty of souls to hunt and consume. He must have a portal to that plane!”
“Yes… one of his allies could tell us. Motmahus… But it will not be easy to… convince one of them to betray him. Perhaps the hofkahsejun – the palace in Whiterun… Dragonsreach. It was originally built to house a captive Dovah. A fine place to trap one of Alduin’s allies, hmm?”
“Yes, I have a list of those he has resurrected and will pick a likely turncoat from amongst them. First, I need to convince Jarl Balgruuf to allow a dragon to land on his palace.”
“Hmm, yes. But you su’um is strong. I do not doubt you can convince him of the need.”
“Tell me what you know of Dragonsreach.”
“They held a Dovah prisoner there for a very long time. This was ages ago, you understand. There were more of us then. Before the bruniike – the Akaviri – came and killed all my zeymah. I used to visit him from time to time. Nearly crazed by loneliness and captivity. Tiiraz sivaas. He did not even remember his own name. I do not know how he came to be caught. But the bronjun… the Jarl… was very proud of his pet. Paak! The hofkahsejun has been known as Dragonsreach ever since.”
“His skull sits above the throne. I wonder if the Jarl realises what that symbolises. To me, it is like seeing the skull of a mortal above the throne. It is barbaric.”
“Perhaps you can tinvaak… talk to him and allow some dignity for a fallen brother.”
I called everybody over,
- Wulf: Well done! We have managed to do something no other mortals have done before. We defeated Alduin in combat.
- Inigo: That was exhilarating. I think Alduin will think twice before messing with you again. What a battle!
- Wulf: He will think twice before messing with us. He would have killed me without my friends to back me up.
- Iona: That fight lasted more than ninety minutes!
- Lydia: Wulf, will we be able to follow him?
- Wulf: Yes. If I am to defeat him and I can’t do it on the mortal plane, Mundus, then I must be able to follow him to Sovngarde.
- Lydia: But can I follow you?
- Wulf: I am a mortal. If there is a portal that I can pass through, then you should be able to as well. You will get your revenge for Bjorn!
- Celestine: The plan is to trap a dragon in Whiterun?
- Wulf: If I use my Thu’um to issue a challenge to a Dovah, it will accept the challenge. It is Dov nature. The chance to test their strength against the one who defeated Alduin will be irresistible. The challenger will respond.
- Celestine: And you have a particular Dovah in mind?
- Wulf: I will have to double-check the records, but yes, I think there is an ideal candidate.
We made our way back to High Hrothgar then to Ivarstead.
As we crossed the bridge into Ivarstead, a large bear was attacking a farmer and his stock. I leapt off Hashire and did Whirlwind Sprint.
I then leapt over a fence and killed the bear.
Lydia laughed then said, “Alduin one minute, bear the next. Such is the life of Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of the Divines.”
Hashire came trotting over, I mounted, and we rode without incident to Riften.
I hired a carriage to Whiterun and hoped we reached Jarl Balgruuf before he went to bed.
We ran from the Whiterun stables to Dragonsreach. It was just after 9:30 PM when we rushed through the doors and startled the Jarl.
I stood in front of the throne.
Jarl Balgruuf smiled and said, “It sounded like a thunderstorm, but then we realised it was coming from The Throat of the World. I assume that had something to do with you?”
“Yes, we have just come from battling Alduin.”
“You are here so does that means Alduin is dead? Is the danger over?”
“No, he cannot be killed on Nirn. I must follow him to Sovngarde, so we need to do something… different.”
“And that something is?”
“We need to trap a dragon in your palace.”
“Did you just say we need to trap a dragon in my palace?”
“It is a vital part of my plan to follow Alduin into Sovngarde.”
“I will help, but the civil war continues. I have heard that Ulfric has made catapults and ballista. I cannot continue being neutral for much longer before he or General Tullius decides Whiterun’s part in the war without consulting me. Do you think they would sit idle if this dragon gets lose and starts slaughtering my men and burning my city?”
“I understand your concern Jarl Balgruuf. What about if the war is no longer a worry?”
“No, I need to shorten it for two reasons. Firstly, I need to trap a dragon. Secondly, and this is not known by many, Alduin gets his strength by consuming the souls of the fallen in Sovngarde.”
“That is… grim news.”
“Yes, and if the war continues, he will have more souls to consume. I do not want him returning to Nirn. I must defeat him in Sovngarde.”
“When the war has ended, I will be glad to help you with your mad dragon-trapping scheme.”
“May I ask that you check the apparatus and make sure it is functional and will still resist the struggles of an angry Dovah. You might also want to prepare town criers or similar. Just before I attract the dragon, they should tell your people of its imminent arrival, so they stay indoors and do not panic.”
“Good idea. Consider both done. Now how are you going to stop the civil war?”
“By winning it.”
The Jarl laughed as we started to leave.
He yelled, “For which side?”
“Not the side led by the Thalmor puppet.”
“That could be either side!”
“No, only one of them has Elenwen’s hand up his backside, and he is not Imperial.”
We left Whiterun, gathered our horses then rode to Silverpeak.
Kharjo approached me and asked if he could also choose some armour and weapons from the basement collection. He did so, and I spent some time placing the usual dweomer.
As the others slept, I studied the Summon Inigo spell and modified it to work with Lydia. It will take a few days, but I should be able to change it for each of my companions. I also had an idea of how I could summon more than one friend at a time.
We had arrived so late and left Silverpeak so early I did not get a chance to speak to Olette.
We gathered outside with our new recruit looking menacing in his black armour.
Lydia exclaimed, “Where is Hashire? And whose horse is that?”
I walked over to a… Unicorn.
“Is that you, Hashire?”
“And this is your natural form?”
“Are there other forms?”
A nod of the head.
“This form stands out too much, but it will serve a purpose this trip.”
I want back to addressing my friends, “Ignore Hashire. I am still learning what he can do, and that is just another trick of his.”
Lydia asked, “Is Hashire really a horse?”
“As much as Meeko is really a dog.”
“You said that appearance would serve a purpose. What are we doing today?”
“I am going to kill Ulfric Stormcloak. I want plenty of witnesses to see us ride there. I want it to be known the Dragonborn road specifically to Windhelm with that purpose in mind. No stealth. No sneaking.”
“Are you going to challenge him?”
“Yes, I will confront him with the evidence I have and challenge him.”
“Won’t that make you Jarl of Windhelm?”
“Not if I do not want the title. I will leave it up to Empire to place who they want in the position.”
Inigo asked, “Will they let Khajiit into the city?”
“When I go marching in there, I guarantee not a single guard will dare challenge me about my Khajiit friends. Even Celestine would normally get derisive comments, but silence will follow us. I want you five to sit down at the Jarl’s table amongst his sycophants. Take no notice of racist comments. Help yourself to Ulfric’s food and drink. I want everybody to be on edge.”
Inigo said, “I am no Nord, but I know he cannot refuse your challenge.”
“That is right. Just as Ulfric challenged High King Torygg, I will challenge him. As you said, he cannot refuse.”
“And if his men intercede?”
“Then we will slaughter every single one that draws a weapon.”
Without another word, we mounted our horses and headed for Ulfric’s city.
We arrived at Windhelm just on 11:00 AM.
Many guards saw us walking towards the front gate. Only one approached to question us. One stare from me and he backed away.
We entered Windhelm, and I told the others, “See, they suspect who I am and when I stare at them, they know. Let us continue.”
We passed dozens of guards, and not one of them tried to stop us even when we entered the Palace of Kings.
Ulfric was sitting on his throne. I could not see his righthand man, Galmar, anywhere.
To my surprise, a Priest of Talos was sitting down having lunch. Any priest or priestess would make an excellent witness. With any luck, he will be Lortheim, the head priest of the Temple of Talos in Windhelm. The best witness I could hope for!
My friends scattered themselves around the tables. As expected, some of those already seated threw the usual Nord insults towards Khajiit and Mer. They were ignored.
All eyes followed me as I strode towards Ulfric. He looked at me with disdain and was about to leave.
I said, “Jarl Ulfric, a word if you don’t mind.”
“Only the foolish or the courageous approach a Jarl without summons.”
“Why? They are only mortals, not gods.”
“Do I know you?”
“I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of the Divines.”
All conversation ceased within the hall. Like many palaces, the throne room is designed with excellent acoustics. Even those guards at the very back could hear our words spoken at normal volume.
“Then I welcome you to my hall. What can I do for you?”
“Jarl Ulfric, I believe you know the Thu’um. Did you study with the Greybeards?”
“I studied with them when I was young. They taught me how to Shout.”
“Did you intend to become one of them?”
“Yes. They chose me when I was just a lad. It was a great honour, of course, as I was to become a Greybeard myself. I spent almost ten years at High Hrothgar, learning the Way of the Voice. Then the Great War came, and I couldn’t stand missing it. I often think about High Hrothgar. It’s very… disconnected from the troubles down here. But that’s why I couldn’t stay, and why I couldn’t go back. I suppose the Greybeards care about Skyrim’s troubles, in their way, but I needed to do something about it. I’m sure Arngeir would call it one of my failings.”
“I think I am an affront to their ‘Way of the Voice.’”
“You’re Dragonborn. The rules don’t apply to you. You can Shout the way dragons do… without training, through inborn instinct. They always hope to teach the Dragonborn to respect the Way of the Voice as they do. They never fully succeed. You’ll have to make your own decision. It’s a beautiful philosophy, but outside the seclusion of High Hrothgar, I was never able to hold to it.”
“I found it interesting their leader, the ancient Dragon Paarthurnax, does not seem as preachy as they are.”
“You spoke to Paarthurnax? He is a dragon?”
“Yes, did you never get to meet him? Even after ten years? He was going to use the Thu’um as a weapon when he helped us defeat Alduin in combat yesterday. But we didn’t need his help.”
Many at the tables and a few guards started commenting on how they heard Shouts coming from the direction of High Hrothgar and what kind of speculation surrounded the meaning of it all. I could see the mention of Alduin had startled Ulfric.
Ulfric yelled, “QUIET!”
When the chatter ceased, he continued, “You are saying Alduin the World-Eater had returned, but you killed him in battle!? That the leader of the Greybeards was willing to use the Thu’um to aid you? Against all their preaching of how it is to be used for praising The Divines and nothing more!?”
“Did you feel guilty using it when needed? Paarthurnax taught the first Tongues how to use Shouts as a weapon during the Dragon Wars. That is a correct and moral use for it when the need arises. The leader of the Greybeards teaches this, and his disciples forget to mention it.”
I could see the emotions coursing through Ulfric. If he felt uncomfortable at that revelation, the rest should shatter his dark soul.
I said, “I did not kill Alduin because he can’t be killed on this mortal plane of existence. He fled elsewhere to restore his health. I need to follow him and kill him where his home is. Do you know where that is and how he will regain his strength?”
“No, but please, enlighten me.”
“He calls Sovngarde home. The majority of Dragons currently causing death and destruction all over Skyrim were killed during the Dragon Wars or by the Akaviri or Blades. Alduin stops the brave fallen from entering the Halls of Sovngarde. After the worthy awaken to the paradise of Sovngarde, they are greeted by terror. Alduin awaits them and devours their souls. This war of yours has kept him well fed. He uses that strength to resurrect his kin.”
“They died for a just cause! Talos wills we defend his status as a Divine and defend the right to worship as we please! The Empire are to blame for their deaths, not me!”
“You do not care about Talos or his worship! You have used his name to recruit true believers. You want to be High King of Skyrim. It does not matter to you how many Talos worshippers die in the process. Many of the young Imperial Legionnaires dying in this war will have Talos symbols on them. Your false war has killed far more worshippers of Talos than the Thalmor. The most horrific part is you have acted as if you have the approval of The Divines. That Talos himself has commanded that young men lose their lives in defence of his divinity. You have no such approval. Talos has never made such a request of his followers.”
I turned to the priest and asked, “What is your name Priest?”
“You are the head priest of the Temple of Talos in Windhelm?”
“Priest Lortheim, Jarl Ulfric say that Talos wills that his status as a Divine be defended and the right to worship him likewise. Have you ever received such a request from Talos? Do you know of any priest who says they have?”
“No Dragonborn, I have not received such instructions or claimed I have. I know no colleague who has.”
“Does the existence of Talos depend on the existence of worshippers? Is his strength dependent on how many worshippers he has? Do you need a shrine dedicated to him to pray to him?”
“Talos the Divine would exist if no men still lived to worship him. His strength and existence aren’t reliant on the number of worshippers. Any shrine dedicated to a Divine can be used to speak to all Nine.”
“So, the claim Talos wants followers to fight for the right to worship him is based on assumption, not fact. There is no danger to Talos. Anybody can continue to worship him without the Thalmor even knowing?”
“Yes, yes and yes.”
“I, Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines, at this moment swear I spoke to Talos and that he said the following words to me,
- Our power is not dependent on how many worshippers we have.
- We are not offended by Gods of other pantheons being worshipped. You know that quite often they are aspects of The Nine anyway.
- Our only enemies are the Daedra who wish to end all that we find joy in, including the mortals on Nirn.
- We like to have many followers as that allows for more temples.
- More temples mean more chances to interact with and sometimes instruct mortals.
- Any temple can be used by us and by any worshipper.
- Let the Thalmor destroy a few Temples. They are worshippers of The Divines who have gone astray.
- It would not stop Talos from being worshipped or his contact with mortals.
- The Stormcloaks are wrong to use Talos to justify the worst kind of warfare.
- Neither Thalmor nor Stormcloak has received instruction from any of us.
Ulfric was very angry, and that was my objective. Angry men make mistakes. Say things they shouldn’t. I want the witnesses to walk away with Ulfric’s own words condemning him.
Ulfric scoffed, “So now you say you have talked to Talos himself. That is the biggest blasphemy of them all!”
Lortheim spoke with authority, “Jarl Ulfric! I have been your advisor and have given guidance concerning your mortal soul since you were a child. Listen to The Dragonborn. He speaks on behalf of The Divines. Do not offend them any more than you already have!”
Lortheim’s warning was what stopped Ulfric’s famous temper from turning this encounter into a bloodbath. He knew I was not going to be his judge and jury. He knew I was going to be his executioner.
I asked Ulfric, “Do you remember when you first saw me?”
“When you first walked in here and what a boring guest you have proven to be.”
“Wrong. In the carriage to Helgen where the headsman awaited there were four people. Ralof, the horse thief, you and I.”
Ulfric stared at me and looked startled when he realised this truth. He knew what was coming next and bowed his head.
“I heard Tullius condemn you for the murder of High King Torygg. My head was on the block when Alduin attacked. Alduin recognised me as a fellow Dov and held back his attack and reduced the damage he could have done with his first Shout. I had help from Ralof and a young Imperial officer. I saw that young officer rescue a child in full view of Alduin! Where did I see you, Ulfric? Ralof and I saw you in a building just standing there. As everybody else was desperately trying to survive or help others, you just stood there without a care in the world. Same when you were in the carriage. Same when Tullius was giving you a lecture. You had no care in the world because you knew your Thalmor friends would rescue you. They knew of your capture and had planned to kill whoever was in the way to rescue their asset. Somehow you knew that. Men, women and children. Stormcloak and Imperial. Their lives meant nothing to you as long as you got rescued. The dragon might have changed the dynamics of the situation, but you knew they would still come through. There were dozens of men loyal to you who died that day. Ralof was fairly safe, but then he ran back into Helgen to find his friend and leader, Ulfric Stormcloak. He died not knowing you had escaped with the help of your Thalmor friends. You could have saved others if you had half the courage of Ralof, but you did not try or care. What were their lives compared to yours? Anyway, no survivors meant no witnesses to your crime. Your cowardice that day will define the Ulfric remembered by those who currently wear your colours.”
Ulfric yelled, “All lies. He has no proof of any of this!”
I retrieved Ulfric’ Dossier from the pocket in my cloak and held it up. I then said, “Several days ago somebody killed lots of people at the Thalmor Embassy party. That was me, and I stole this, a dossier on Ulfric Stormcloak.
I said to Ulfric, “Under torture, you provided Elenwen information you were told helped them defeat Emperor Titus Mede II in the battle for the Imperial City. In doing so, you betrayed your friends and fellow men at arms. Most would never forgive this and accuse you of being a traitor and coward. I do not. Many great warriors have succumbed to such torture. Basic survival instincts are not so easy to overcome.”
“Great. So, can I go home now and we can have a mead or two later?”
“What I can’t forgive is how you decided to become their puppet. The shame of admitting your weakness overrode your loyalty and oaths to the Empire and your fellow soldiers. Not everybody would have forgiven you for your betrayal under torture. Most of your close friends and comrades, even those you thought you betrayed, would have. They would have known that was not the Ulfric they knew. They would have been proud of you for coming forward and admitting your supposed weakness. You did not give them the benefit of the doubt or chance to do so. You lay on your back like a beaten dog and submitted to the Thalmor as they rubbed your belly and told you all would be okay!”
There were murmurs as many felt uncomfortable that their ‘hero’ being exposed so brutally.
I continued, “By the time you gave in to Elenwen’s expert ministrations the Thalmor had already defeated Mede and occupied the Imperial City. You provided them with nothing but a patsy they could use to cause strife in Skyrim!”
Ulfric turned pale. Finally, he knew the truth. The Thalmor had played him like a fiddle!
I said louder than anything else so far, “You betrayed your men, The Empire, Skyrim and Talos for no other reason than your ambition to be High King. The Dominion fooled you and your stupidity and cowardice has caused untold misery and devastation. You pretended to be High King Torygg’s friend so you could be close enough to him to issue your challenge. An unbloodied young man who had never fought before and had only the knowledge imparted by his sword trainer. No match for a warrior such as you! You could have easily defeated him using martial skills alone. You made the challenge, and the brave man accepted knowing he had no chance. Then against the laws of such a challenge, you used your Thu’um. You murdered him, and it was not a test of courage. Your victory was not a stamp of approval from The Divines. You soul is dark, and the gates of Sovngarde closed to you.”
Ulfric looked up at me with pure hate in his eyes. I was simply the messenger and not the architect of his downfall. But I was somebody who was a convenient target for his frustration and guilt. I needed to give his believers something to hold on to, and Ulfric needed some chance at redemption.
I used my Thu’um so my challenge could be heard even outside of the palace.
“I, WULF, DRAGONBORN AND CHAMPION OF THE DIVINES CHALLENGE ULFRIC STORMCLOAK, JARL OF WINDHELM, TO A DUEL TO THE DEATH USING ONLY WEAPONS. THE WINNER WILL SURELY HAVE THE BLESSING OF TALOS. DO YOU ACCEPT?”
Ulfric is no fool. He knew he had no chance. To accept and die with his axe in his hand would be enough to get his ticket to Sovngarde. It would make his followers pleased to know he showed real courage in the end. He does not realise it, but I know many lives could be saved if he accepts.
Ulfric replied, “You have manoeuvred me well, Dragonborn. I could wish no more than to die in combat against such a foe. I accept.”
I used my Thu’um and announced,
“LET IT BE KNOWN. ULFRIC STORMCLOAK HAS AGREED TO A DUEL TO THE DEATH WITH THE DRAGONBORN.”
Lydia called out, “Wulf, behind you!”
A booming voice said, “You will have to get past me first!”
I turned in time to see Galmar’s massive hammer heading toward my skull.
Two-handed hammers are slow. Galmar’s was particularly ponderous. Yngol’s expert use of such a weapon made Galmar look slower, which he was. I quickly dived out of the way and drew my sword.
I said, “Tut, tut. You had a free shot and missed! What would your mother say? And why do you have her skull on your hammer?”
That elicited quite a few laughs from the witnesses who had been speechless with outrage till then.
Galmar growled and ran at me. He swung, and I easily blocked the blow then shoved him backwards with my shield.
“I am a one-person shield wall. Try again!”
Galmar kept swinging, and I kept dodging and weaving with the occasional block thrown in.
The witnesses were laughing and hooting at Galmar. Any loyalty they had to him was lost the second he attacked me from behind.
He was worn out, and I was tired of the game. He took a wild swing which I easily dodged.
I said, “My turn!” and for the first time in the fight, I swung my sword and cut him across the middle.
Galmar collapsed on the ground then issued a single moan before expiring.
“Are you going to ridicule me as well?” asked Ulfric as he walked towards me.
I replied, “He brought that on himself. I would have gladly fought him with honour if he had asked. But he will go to Sovngarde. Maybe I will stop Alduin before his soul gets turned into dragon shit?”
Ulfric was a formidable warrior. His dual axes would not be so easily avoided. I decided the best tactic was to have him moving forward, so his balance was not ideal.
I slowly moved back, but then I saw him preparing a Shout.
I braced, and a surprisingly strong Unrelenting Force threw me against a wall.
As I got to my feet, Ulfric nicked me with his axes.
I did an upward swing and cut through his armour and flesh from belly button to chest.
Blood spattered where he stood. He stepped backwards then fell onto his back.
I stood over him.
He made a valiant attempt to rise then his axes fell from his limp hands.
I asked a young guardsman to make sure he was dead and announce it to the room.
He checked then said to the witnesses, “Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak is dead. Defeated in fair combat by Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines.”
I looked at the corpse of Galmar and shook my head. Why did he do what he did? Was he so shocked at what Ulfric was?
I walked up to Lortheim and said, “I know it was not easy to watch and hear what just occurred. To prevent further bloodshed, I need you to stand firm and tell the truth to all those that question what happened here today.”
“You gave him a chance to enter Sovngarde. That was more than many would have done.”
“That will save some further bloodshed. It does not matter what he was and what proof we have, there will be those who refuse to listen, but the vast majority will lay down their arms. There is one thing I did not say out loud. In the dossier, the Thalmor say that the rebellion would never have been allowed to succeed. They wanted it to last as long as possible to drain the resources of The Empire. They constantly refer to the Great War as the first war. This civil war was simply to make it easier for them to win the second Great War.”
“I did not say that because I had pushed Ulfric enough. I did not want him to attack me without a challenge issued. His guards may have followed, and I would have had to kill many instead of one. That was the very thing that I wanted to avoid.”
“And now you must find a way into Sovngarde?”
“Yes. If all goes to plan the threat of Alduin will end tomorrow.”
“When you spoke to Talos, what was he like?”
“I knew I loved him. He was stern as a good commander should be. But he also remembered what it is like to be a mortal. He may be a Divine, but a lot of Hjalti Early-Beard remains.”
I retrieved my ‘Lucky Coin’ from my pocket and handed it to Lortheim.
He took it, then gasped, “I can feel his presence!”
“He gave me that for luck. The same as he has done before as you well know.”
Lortheim handed the coin back then said, “You and your friends had better get out of Windhelm before you have to kill those that won’t listen.”
“The Divines bless you.”
“Blessings of The Nine.”
I gathered my friends, and we left the palace. We were immediately set upon by a few. They were a small fraction of those who watched us march out of the city.
We made to the stables then I ran to the one driver available.
He asked, “Trouble in the city?”
“You might say that. I would like you to take us to Solitude as quick as you can. Here is triple the fare as encouragement.”
“Will your horses follow without a rope?”
“Good, that will make the trip quicker. Climb aboard, and we will be off.”
The driver got us to Solitude in excellent time but not with much comfort as we bounced around!
We stabled our horses then walked the short distance to the main entrance.
We made our way to Castle Dour and entered.
We found General Tullius discussing the chances of Ulfric attacking Whiterun with Legate Rikke.
I approached the general,
- Wulf: May I have a word, General Tullius?
- Tullius: Do my guards just let anybody wander in here?
- Wulf: We have met before. I had my head on the chopping block when the dragon attacked Helgen.
- Tullius: Guards, arrest this traitor!
- Rikke: I recognise this man. He is a General and the Dragonborn.
- Tullius: Stand down. The Legate is correct. I recognise him now.
- Wulf: You were intent on executing an innocent man without due trial. Not precisely upholding the motto, ‘The Empire is the Law. The Law is Sacred.’
- Tullius: Yes, well, for that, I apologise.
- Wulf: I am not here to air such grievances. I have just come straight from Windhelm, where I challenged Ulfric Stormcloak to fair combat. He is dead, and so is Galmar.
- Tullius: What?
- Wulf: Here, read this dossier that I borrowed from the Thalmor Embassy.
I handed Tullius the dossier. As he read it, his anger grew. When finished, he passed the dossier to Rikke. She read it, and I walked over to her.
“Can I have that back, please? I wish to make sure it is not regarded as just propaganda from The Empire. Others need to see it and write about it.”
Rikke handed it back then asked, “Did you kill all those Thalmor at the party? And is that dossier true?”
“Yes, and Yes.”
The Legate looked shocked.
I walked back to General Tullius.
I told him, “I am not interested in being the Jarl. If you and The Empire have somebody in mind, you had better install them officially and quickly. There were many witnesses to the combat, including the head priest of the Temple of Talos. Only the most foolish of the rebels will continue to fight. The civil war is over.”
“I will make sure The Emperor knows of the service you have done for The Empire.”
“Please make sure you only mention the Dragonborn and not the Guardian General. I did this as a servant of The Divines, not a soldier of The Empire.”
“I have a feeling there is a story behind that request.”
“Just less of a mess for The Divines to clean up.”
“We have to go now. We have the World-Eater to kill in Sovngarde.”
“So, it is true. That is who is behind the return of the dragons.”
“Yes, it is. Goodnight General Tullius. Goodnight Legate Rikke.”
We quickly made our way to the stables, collected our horses then hired a carriage to Whiterun.
I intended to stay in Breezehome overnight so we could trap a dragon early the next day. A dragon attacked and changed that plan.
The dragon roared its name, Alpeyt, as it flew overhead. It then attacked a target in Whiterun!
As soon as enough guards had trained their bows upon him, he quickly flew a semicircle and attacked a different part of Whiterun.
I hit him with Dragonrend.
He had no choice but to land. He chose to do so at the front gate. We rushed to help the Whiterun Guards.
I did another Dragonrend to make sure he did not lift off again.
We rushed in and quickly ended Alpeyt’s life.
The Guard’s watched as their Thane absorbed the soul of the fallen dragon.
As soon as that was over, I rushed to the stables and leapt on Hashire.
Lydia asked, “I thought we were staying in Breezehome?”
“I have a feeling I will be the target of a few dragons trying to prove their worth against the one who bested Alduin. I don’t want Whiterun to become a battleground.”
We rode quickly to Silverpeak where I was surprised to see the two Khajiit, Meeko and Vick crouching low behind some boxes.
I ran over to ask what was happening when Celestine yelled, “Another fucking dragon!”
It was a Storm Dragon called Dezag. I hit him with Dragonrend, and he crashed to the ground in front