Skyrim quests: The Fallen, The World-Eater’s Eyrie, Sovngarde, Dragonslayer, Epilogue, The Book of Love.
Skyrim mods: Rigmor of Bruma, Thunderchild, Inigo.
Everybody was slowly emerging from the sleeping quarters as I put dweomer on a set of armour Inigo had chosen. It was very fine leather but strong, and it could hold the most powerful dweomer.
I finished and presented it to him.
Inigo said, “Thank you, my friend. I am fond of this armour, but it is getting a bit frayed and worn.”
“Go put it on. I am curious as to how it looks.”
Inigo went to my private chambers to change.
I could hear screaming and cursing coming from the spa room. Anahbi had a big grin on her face, so I walked up and asked, “What is happening in there?”
“Ashni and Wujeeta are bathing Olette. I was unfortunate enough to volunteer for the first bath yesterday, not knowing the girl is part Khajiit. She bit and kicked and scratched like I was trying to kill her!”
“Did you finally calm her down?”
“Just enough so she would soak in the water till most of the grime was washed away by the water jets. Today they are introducing soap and are also attempting to wash the hair. We decided two adults should be able to handle the task. Celestine might need to do some healing though.”
“Any you took her to buy some new clothes?”
“The females of Ri’saad’s caravan spent ages making her model dresses and other clothes. She was enjoying herself till Ri’saad entered the tent with an armful of underwear. He held some up asking Olette if she liked them and that was answered with accusations of him being a dirty old pervert combined with expletives of a variety and inventiveness that would make a sailor proud. He tried explaining that he has dozens of children and helps pick out their clothes. Olette stood with her arms crossed and stared at him till he left. She will make a fine head of the household if she ever marries.”
The noises from the spa room stopped. Either Olette had given up, or there were two bodies to pray over.
I thought I would surprise Lydia. She was sitting over the other corner of the room speaking to Iona.
I cast the Summon Lydia spell. She stood up, looked my way then appeared from the ether in front of me.
“It is just like Inigo said. I saw your face and had a choice to accept the teleport or not. Once I accepted, I was warm then I was standing in front of you.”
“That warm bit is a good addition. The ether is as cold as nature can make it so even if you are there for a split second, it can be a bit of a shock.”
“Can you make me appear farther away?”
“No, that part of the spell I sort of understand but not enough to try it with anybody but Inigo at the moment.”
“Can you teleport any of the others?”
“Not yet. Some complications increase the less you know somebody. There is no reason I won’t be able to teleport the others soon but not right now.”
“I was in a good conversation with Iona and the merits of axes versus swords so if you don’t mind.”
Lydia turned and walked back to join Iona in that riveting discussion.
Wujeeta emerged from the spa room and still had all her limbs.
I walked up and asked, “Mission accomplished?”
“You should take Olette to meet Alduin. He would hide for several more thousands of years!”
“Did she finally use the soap?”
“After she tried about two dozen scents, she picked one she liked.”
“And her hair?”
“That was OK till I poured a bucket of water over her head. Then I was a scaly witch trying to drown her.”
“She is old enough to bath herself.”
“Like many things, she was not taught or had many opportunities except when a kind soul in Riften would let her use their facilities. But soap has always been foreign to her.”
“Well, I thank you for helping her at the risk of life and limb!”
“Olette survived the streets of Riften without having to sell her body or fall victim to other types of predator. I think she has killed and that is sad for such a beautiful soul.”
“Let us hope she will slowly become a normal little girl. How old is she?”
“She is eleven years of age.”
“I wonder how many like Olette there are in Tamriel?”
“Too many, Wulf. Thanks to Skooma, mead, gambling and war.”
“Was she scared of the dragon last night?”
“On the contrary, she grabbed two daggers and was running outside to help before I tackled her to the ground.”
Wujeeta went off to clean up the breakfast pots and pans, and I just wandered around a bit deep in thought.
I walked past one of the dining tables and noticed Olette had joined the others to eat some breakfast. She smiled then came running over.
“Good morning, little one. I am looking for my friend Olette, have you seen her anywhere? She has greasy hair and smells like a dead Skeever that has been sitting in the sun for a week.”
“I want to thank you, Cap’n. I never had no new clothes before!”
“Baths can be quite relaxing when you are not trying to maim your friends.”
“I promise I will have one at least once a week.”
“Every day, Olette, and I expect you to do it without being dragged there.”
“OK, Cap’n. I know ya got me all these dresses an’ stuff but I found somethin’ in the house I would like if ya don’t mind.”
“And what is that?”
“I’ll show ya!”
Olette ran behind the bar then came back with a lute.
I asked, “Do you know how to play?”
“A little. Ma could and taught me some.”
“Was she a bard before the Skooma?”
“Yes, and that is why she knew all them stories of heroes in loincloths an’ stuff.”
“I know how to play the lute, flute and drum and I will be happy to teach you.”
“I can have the flute n’ drum that’s in the kid’s room as well?”
“Can I play you a tune?”
“I would love that!”
Olette played a lullaby of simple chords. She concentrated hard, and I could see her natural ability as well as a passion for the music.”
After a couple of minutes, Olette finished. I clapped, and she curtsied. I said, “That was well played. Would you like to be a bard one day?”
“More than anything. But that Bard school is in the big city so far away my Ma told me.”
“I will need to make enquiries. You may have to do some other schooling before they let you enrol. Can you read and write?”
“I can read a little. Ma taught me my letters. I can’t write though, Cap’n.”
“There are many books on the shelves here, and I saw some in the children’s room. Any of the adults will be happy to sit and help you with your reading and writing.”
“Including you, Cap’n?”
“When I get the chance, I would love to.”
“I might go bang on a drum for a bit. That’ll teach em’ for tryin’ to drown me!”
Olette ran off but had not gone far before she was dragged outside to help collect eggs and other chores.
Inigo made an appearance in his new armour, so I want over to talk to him.
I told him, “Very suave!”
“Did you put some sort of hypnosis dweomer on it?”
“Ah, no. Why did you ask that?”
“Anahbi saw me and got one of those looks that female Khajiit get.”
“What kind of look?”
“The ‘undressing you with my eyes’ look.”
“Oh, I thought Ashni and her are an item.”
“You know little of Khajiit mating habits in the wilder parts of Elsweyr. She came over and whispered some promising scenarios in my ear. The most interesting ones included Ashni!”
“Just be discrete. I don’t want Olette getting that sort of education at her age!”
“Don’t worry, my friend. We shall be careful.”
“Please gather the others as I want to explain what we are doing today.”
I placed the map of dragon burials I had ‘borrowed’ from Delphine’s ‘secret’ room on a table and sat. My travelling companions soon joined me.
- Wulf: Dragonsreach has a trap explicitly designed to capture dragons. Today I hope to snare one.
- Lydia: OK, but which dragon and how.
- Wulf: Alduin appears on Nirn, resurrects one or two dragons then has to return to Sovngarde. Few of the resurrected or returned dragons would have the discipline to wait for his orders before starting their rampage against mortals. Yet some have been flying around for weeks doing no harm.
- Celestine: He would need another dragon to maintain discipline.
- Wulf: Correct. And logically the first dragon he resurrected would be Paarthurnax’s replacement. The one he made second in charge after Paarthurnax’s defection.
- Lydia: This map shows the order in which the dragons were resurrected?
- Wulf: Yes. And by cross-referencing this map with the ‘Atlas of Dragons’, I know the name of each resurrected dragon.
- Inigo: You have six names, and you hope one will answer your challenge?
- Wulf: Most of the more powerful and senior dragons have names made up of three Rotmalaag, Words of Power. They choose a name to mimic a Shout that reflects their perceived view of themself.
- Inigo: Ahh, like Paar… thur… nax?
- Wulf: Correct. The last part of his name means cruel. Remember, he chose that name to reflect his personality!
- Iona: So, you use your Thu’um to call their names like a Shout?
- Wulf: No matter where on Nirn the Dovah is, he will hear his name and regard it as a challenge. He will travel via the ether and answer that challenge.
- Iona: He is not compelled?
- Wulf: No, it is like the summoning spell I can use on Inigo and now Lydia. The dragons know who challenged them and can ignore it if they so wish.
- Lydia: You hope they will want to test themselves again the Dovah that beat Alduin.
- Wulf: Yes, and I hope the first I call will answer my challenge. He is the most likely to know how Alduin gets to and from Sovngarde.
- Lydia: That one’s name is?
- Wulf: Let me quote the relevant entry from ‘Atlas of Dragons’. ‘Odahviing – Records dating to the Crusade of interrogation of captured Dragon Cultists indicate that this dragon was buried in a mound in the southeast of Skyrim, near Riften.’
- Lydia: Looking at the map, the first dragon that Alduin resurrected, was Odahviing.
- Wulf: Yes, and I must pronounce his name like a Shout. Od-ah-viing.
- Inigo: What do you intend to do once he is captured?
- Wulf: I will tell him he is my prisoner until I defeat Alduin. He will want to hasten that defeat and will tell me what I need to know. He may wish to continue fighting after I release him. Then we must kill him quickly to avoid deaths and damage in Whiterun.
- Inigo: And if he refuses to give us the required details?
- Wulf: Then, I will release him, and we will kill him without giving him the chance to flee. I will then challenge the next on the list.
- Iona: We might have to kill six dragons?
- Wulf: They will all be weak compared to Alduin.
- Lydia: It is as good a plan as any. Can we go? I am eager to renew my acquaintance with Alduin.
I had learnt how to control Hashire’s appearance, so I made him look like an ancient steppe pony with leather barding. It was the type of horse Ysgramor, and his followers would have used.
We were over-cautious due to the two dragons the night before. It made for a glum atmosphere! The ride from Silverpeak to the road was a steep, winding path and a lot of fun. Channelling my inner Rigmor, I yelled, “Race to the bottom!”
Of course, I had a head start. Who said it had to be fair?
We all rode fast but not reckless except for Celestine who came thundering past me just before her feet slipped out of her stirrups. She crashed to the ground and lay there with her horse looking down, seemingly embarrassed about its owner.
She climbed back into the saddle, accompanied by great laughter.
Then the race continued.
Hashire won. He is a horse that is not really a horse!
As usual, the roads were full of pilgrims and others travelling to and from Whiterun.
I was relieved when we reached and entered Whiterun with no sign of an aggressive dragon.
We made our way to Dragonsreach.
The Jarl and his court awaited us.
I approached and bowed,
- Balgruuf: It is I who should be bowing to you. Defeating Alduin and then ending the civil war with such little bloodshed? That is equal to any hero of old!
- Wulf: Both of those are in the past, my Jarl. Are we ready to catch a dragon?
- Balgruuf: As I promised, my men stand ready. The great chains are oiled. We wait for your command.
- Wulf: Has the population been warned?
- Balgruuf: You would have seen a few stragglers hurrying to clear the streets on your arrival. They should all be indoors by now.
- Wulf: Even Heimskr was not preaching.
- Balgruuf: So, the return of the dragons is not all bad news then!
- Wulf: OK, let us go and trap a dragon!
As we headed for Dragonreach’s balcony, we passed a tactical map that showed all cities, towns, villages and forts were now under Imperial control.
I ordered my friends to stay in the map room. There was no need for them to be on the balcony. I am the bait and should be the only one out there.
The balcony was huge, but to a dragon that relishes the open spaces of Nirn’s skies, it would be a tiny, unbearable prison of minute dimensions.
There are many theories on how Olaf One-Eye captured the dragon called Numinex and imprisoned him. I have a radical view as to who Numinex was. I believe it was Paarthurnax. That would explain why Paarthurnax did not know Numinex’s name and said the captured dragon could not remember. How could Paarthurnax visit the captured Numinex and not be noticed? Why would he have not rescued Numinex? I doubt the skull above Dragonreach’s throne is that of the legendary captive.
As I came to the end of the balcony, I noticed a Whiterun Guard standing there.
- Balgruuf: What are you waiting for? Let’s get this over with.
- Wulf: Not until you order this guard somewhere safer. I don’t understand why you and Irileth are out here either!
- Irileth: Let’s get this over with.
- Wulf: No, Irileth. I will not proceed until you order the guard to safety. I don’t need any of you risking your lives to capture the dragon!
- Balgruuf: Soldier, move to the observation post where the seeing glass is. Now.
As the guard ran to do as ordered, I stood at the end of the balcony.
I looked up and then, using the full force of my Thu’um, Shouted, “OD AH VIING!”
Dragonsreach shook, and my Thu’um echoed from the distant mountains.
Jarl Balgruuf asked, “Are you sure he will answer?”
A roar from behind and to my right startled him.
I said, “There is your answer, Jarl.”
I could see Silverpeak and wondered if anybody there was watching. They would have heard my Shout!
Odahviing appeared. Red dragons are usually the smallest, but he was an exception. He was large for a Dov. Huge for a red one!
He did a sharp turn and dived for the balcony with his legs outstretched.
I yelled, “Stay under cover, Jarl! Get ready to duck, Irileth!”
The Jarl stayed under an arch. I ducked down, and so did Irileth.
We stood up as Odahviing managed to slow down from his incredible speed and turned within a few body lengths. He would be a formidable opponent for any other dragon!
I said to Irileth and the Jarl, “I do not need you out here! He can turn either of you into ashes or squash you like a bug.”
The ignored me, so I said, “He is diving below our eyesight, and then he will spring up in front of me. I will hit him with Dragonrend. He will have no choice but to land, and it may not be very controlled. Just keep out of his way and let him come for me.”
Odahviing did precisely as I predicted.
“JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
It was as if somebody had stunned Odahviing mid-flight. He started to fall but managed to flap his mighty wings once before slamming into the balcony.
He almost squashed the Jarl who had not listened to a word I said.
I yelled, “Keep out of the way of his mouth, or you will die Jarl Balgruuf! Listen to the Dragonborn or are you a fool!”
Odahviing covered me in Dragonfire. Anybody else on the balcony would have died screaming in seconds. The dweomer on my armour and native resistance to the Thu’um meant I was uncomfortable but not immediately harmed. I stepped back to get out of the hottest part.
Even though outside of the direct blast, I could see both the Jarl and Irileth stagger from the heat. I hit Odahviing with Dragonrend again and waited for him to attack.
Finally, Balgruuf and Irileth got the hint they were needlessly risking their lives and ran for cover.
Odahviing looked around, saw no more opponents then concentrated on me.
I was further back for the next lot of Dragonfire, so it bothered me less than the first.
I stood without a weapon drawn and arms crossed. When the fire cleared, and Odahviing could see me clearly, I yawned and then grinned.
Dragons do not yawn, but they know mortal body language. I just told Odahviing his best was far from impressive. He stared at me with hate and anger then stomped towards me.
I let him get within a few feet with my grin getting wider, which made his anger stronger.
I gave a hand signal, and the trap was sprung. Odahviing looked up and watched as the harness dropped.
He said, “Nid!”
I said, “Geh!”
When the harness hit his neck, restraints sprung, and a collar encircled it.
I was still backpedalling to get out of the Dragonfire.
I opened the door to the balcony and invited my friends to join me.
I approached Odahviing, who said, “Horvutah med kodaav. Caught like a bear in a trap…”
“A bear would have been more cautious.”
“Zok frini grind ko grah drun viiki, Dovahkiin… Ah. I forget. You do not have the dovah speech.”
“Daar los folaas. Did Alduin tell you I do not speak Dovahzul? It seems he was wrong about so many things. I knew you would want to test yourself against me, and I smiled and yawned to make you angry. I do it to mortals, immortals and gods. It is a good tactic as they all make mistakes when anger takes over.”
“Dovahkiin. I salute your, hmm, low cunning in devising such a grahmindol – stratagem.”
“I am Dov, and I know how we react. It was intelligent planning, not cunning.”
“Zu’u bonaar. You went to a great deal of trouble to put me in this… humiliating position. Hind siiv Alduin, hmm? No doubt you want to know where to find Alduin?”
“I know he is hiding in Sovngarde. He needs to consume more souls and quickly before I arrive and kill him. I need to know how he gets to Sovngarde so that I can follow.”
“Rinik vazah. Hiding is an apt phrase. Alduin bovul. One reason I came to your call was to test your Thu’um for myself. Many of us have begun to question Alduin’s lordship, whether his Thu’um was truly the strongest. Among ourselves, of course. Mu ni meyye. None were yet ready to defy him openly.”
“I am not interested in your politics. Tell me how I get to Sovngarde.”
“Unslaad krosis. Innumerable pardons. I digress. As you said, he has travelled to Sovngarde to regain his strength, devouring the sillesejoor… the souls of the mortal dead. A privilege he jealously guards… His door to Sovngarde is at Skuldafn, one of his ancient fanes high in the eastern mountains. Mindoraan, pah ok middovahhe lahvraan til. I surely do not need to warn you that all his remaining strength is marshalled there. Zu’u lost ofan hin laan… now that I have answered your question, you will allow me to go free?”
“Tell me how to get to Skuldalfn, and I give you my word that I will release you once Alduin is defeated.”
“Hmm… krosis. There is one… detail about Skuldafn I neglected to mention.”
“You have the Thu’um of a Dovah, but without the wings of one, you will never set foot in Skuldafn. Of course, I could fly you there but not while imprisoned like this.”
“Odahviing, do you swear on Bormahu, on Akatosh, that you will fly me to Skuldafn if I release you from this trap?”
“Onikaan koraav gein miraad. It is wise to recognise when you only have one choice. And you can trust me. Zu’u ni tahrodiis. Alduin has proven himself unworthy to rule. I go my own way now. Free me, and I will carry you to Skuldafn.”
“Then we have a deal, Odahviing.”
Just then, Farengar came striding up and said, “A captive dragon, just think of the possibilities!”
“Speak to him if you wish but do not show disrespect!”
“I don’t think you could stop me but thanks for your permission anyway.”
Farengar walked up to Odahviing and said, “Incredible! Uh… sir, you have no idea how long I have waited for such an opportunity! I would be most appreciative if you would permit me to perform some, ah, tests on you. Purely in the interests of the advancement of knowledge.”
Odahviing replied, “Begone, mage. Do not test my patience.”
“I assure you that you will not even notice me. Most of the tests are hardly painful at all to a large dragon such as yourself.”
I said, “Farengar, Odahviing has not permitted you to do such tests. Do you have no morals?”
Farengar moved to the tail of Odahviing then removed surgical instrument and vials from his pouch. He then said, “Surely you wouldn’t miss a few scales… or a small amount of blood…”
Odahviing cried out, “Joor mey! What are you doing back there?”
Odahviing looked at me, and I nodded.
Odahviing’s Shout startled Farengar who ran towards the exit.
I body checked him. He looked into my eyes and what stared back was a dragon.
He hid behind his arms as I yelled, “I would have stopped you if I thought you were such an immoral little worm! You have never seen a Dragonborn before. Would you like somebody to strap me down so you can cut away pieces and take body fluids without my consent all for the advancement of knowledge? You are a disgrace to that robe, and I will do my best to have your name deregistered at the College of Winterhold. Get out of my sight before I do you harm!”
Farengar ran, and Odahviing chuckled. It sounded like an avalanche.
Inigo asked, “Are you really going to ride that beast?”
“It is not a beast, Inigo. No more than you are. If you despise being the recipient of racism, I suggest you learn not to wield it yourself!”
“My apologies. Do you intend to ride Odahviing?”
“You fought beside me against Alduin. That was far more dangerous than riding Odahviing will be!”
“You continue to be the most impressive and reckless person I know.”
“I am not reckless, Inigo. Everything I do is a calculated risk.”
I want upstairs and said to a Whiterun Guard, “Open the trap.”
“Are you sure about that? You want to let that dragon loose after all the trouble catching him in there?”
“Your right! What was I thinking? Let’s just all die because you know more than me about Alduin and dragons.”
I shoved the guard aside and pulled the chain to release Odahviing. The guard was going to say something but quickly shut his mouth when I stepped closer and growled.
I then leapt over the balcony and watched as counterweights slowly lifted the harness to free Odahviing.
I called out, “The Divines trust my judgement, so the next person to argue, ignore or question me will get their lights knocked out be they Jarl, Housecarl or fucking guard!”
After having witnessed Odahviing’s mastery of the air, it was painful to watch how ponderous he was turning and shuffling to the edge of the balcony.
He said, “Faas nu, zini dein ruthi ahst vaal.”
I translated, “Odahviing just said, ‘Fear not, my honour holds my rage at bay.’”
I said to Odahviing, “Nii los nunon fin mey wo dreh ni ov!” (It is only the fools who do not trust!)
I said individual goodbyes to Kharjo, Iona and the visibly upset Celestine.
I implored them all, “Please, keep your spirits up around Olette. This trip to Sovngarde is no more dangerous than going into Oblivion and facing Malacath. Keep your eyes on The Throat of the World for I am sure Paarthurnax will be the first to trumpet my victory or morn my defeat.”
Lydia asked, “Are you sure you can teleport us both to Skuldafn?”
“Nothing is ever one hundred per cent certain. But I shall try teleporting you first. I promised you that you would have revenge on Alduin.”
I walked up to Odahviing.
He asked, “Saraan uth – I await your command, as promised. Are you ready to see the world as only a Dovah can?”
“I am eager to experience the domain of Kaan! Take me to Skuldafn.”
I leapt aboard Odahviing’s outstretched neck then he said, “Zok brit uth! I warn you, once you’ve flown the skies of Keizaal, your envy of the Dov will only increase.”
“I do not envy the Dov for I am one!”
Odahviing leapt into the air, saying joyfully, “Amativ! Mu bo kotin stinselok.”
“Indeed, let us fly onwards into the freedom of the sky!”
Odahviing flapped his enormous wings, and I almost fell in the first few seconds. I soon got used to the rhythm of his wings and muscles. I then relaxed and enjoyed the ride the Skuldafn.
It took just over five hours before we landed in Skuldafn. I immediately jumped to the ground. Odahviing leapt back in the air as he said, “This is as far as I can take you. Krif voth ahkrin. I will look for your return, or Alduin’s.”
If I lose to Alduin, I don’t suppose Odahviing being spotted transporting me to Skuldafn would be a good thing for him! Hence his haste to depart.
There was something wrong. It should be about 5:00 PM, but the stars were telling me it was close to midnight. My internal clock could not detect anything other than the standard linear time.
I summoned Lydia, but it did not go as planned. Instead of instantly appearing in front of me, I had to concentrate on her for at least ten seconds. I could not let anything distract me, or she might have perished in the ether.
Lydia eventually appeared then fell to her knees.
I urgently asked, “Lydia, are you OK?”
“I missed out on the warm part. I have never been so cold!”
“There is something strange about this place. It might be because we are close to a portal to Sovngarde, but it is later in the day than it should be. Your summoning took longer than it should.”
“Are you going to summon Inigo?”
“No, not unless we find ourselves in dire trouble. I will summon a couple of Dragon Priests, and we shall keep moving. Our only concern is finding the portal to Sovngarde, so I do not intend to do any sightseeing.”
Only seconds after summoning the Dragon Priests a Dovah called Feltiidarg attacked. Logic told me the dragons who stayed loyal to Alduin would be of the weaker kind. They had no hope of climbing the ranks of Dov. That relied on the strength of Thu’um, teeth and claw. Any deserters would eventually fall to a victorious Alduin, so this was the weaker dragons only hope of gaining rank.
Dragonrend brought Feltiidarg down. Destruction spells from the Dragon Priests and I plus Lydia’s excellent marksmanship soon killed him.
We did not stop moving as I slowly absorbed yet another unwanted dragon soul.
Our opposition consisted of low-level skeletons and Draugr. They were in large numbers but did not offer much of a challenge to us. We quickly made it through most of the Skuldafn courtyard and up many steps until we were close to the entrance of the largest building.
Then another Dovah attacked. He was even weaker than Feltiidarg and was soon killed. His name was Grorsa.
At the entrance to the main building, I said to Lydia, “The door indicates this is a temple dedicated to at least one Dragon Priest. Expect tougher Draugr than we have encountered so far.”
We entered and found we faced Lich, Skeletal warriors and the more powerful type of Draugr that can shout.
Draugr that can Shout should be tackled from a distance. Contrary to that I replaced the Dragon Priests with summoned Dremora Lords so they could engage them up close. With the addition of their swords, I could use Fireballs and Lightening as my primary weapons from a distance, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the enemy Shouts directed at me.
Nordic totem icon puzzles did not slow us down at all. I am still amazed by how dumb the ancients thought trespassers must be!
One area had several rooms infested with Giant Spiders. Chain Lightning took care of them quickly.
A powerful Lich guarded a Dwemer Puzzle Door. We killed it, and I recovered a Diamond Dragon Claw from its remains. On the bottom was the combination needed, which was dragon, moth and fox.
Rigmor and I encountered a Dwemer Puzzle Door in Bleak Falls Barrow. When I had explained how the claw was both the key and the answer to the puzzle, she just shook her head in disbelief. When I explained the same to Lydia, she just laughed at the stupidity of it.
I entered the required combination, inserted the claws and the door lowered. We entered a room with more Draugr that we soon dispatched.
I approached a Word Wall. I already knew and could use the Power Word it tried to teach me, Qo, the third Word in the Storm Call Shout.
I read the Word Wall inscription to Lydia,
“This stone commemorates the villagers of doomed Vundeheim, burned alive by the lightning of Unending Sorrow.”
She asked, “How powerful is Unending Sorrow?”
“We call it Storm Call, and it is terrible to behold. I have used it twice and could kill an entire army within minutes if I unleashed it. But it is not the worst of what I have learnt in terms of spell or Shout. There is a reason why their enemies fear Dragonborn. We are efficient killing machines that few other mortals could stand against.”
“But you are to face another Dragonborn if this Miraak is as he claims.”
“If he is a powerful as me, he would not hesitate to attempt conquering Solstheim and then Tamriel. I am looking forward to seeing what and who he is.”
“Which of the heroic heroes would better you?”
“Those that have no conscience. Tiber Septim is amongst those! He unleased weapons I would never use. The Vestige was probably as strong as me. The Nerevarine is the one that could walk all over me without depending on immoral means. I think Pelinal Whitestrake was more Demi-God than mortal so would also be one I would probably lose to.”
“Which one do you admire the most?”
“Martin Septim. He was Dragonborn but did not have a chance to develop those powers beyond the rudimentary. He defeated Mehrunes Dagon with courage and close allies.”
“And the least admired?”
“Ysgramor. Genocide is not to be celebrated.”
We exited the temple complex onto a ledge. Two dragons, Skeletal Warriors and powerful Draugr attacked almost immediately.
What amazed me was encountering a living Dragon Priest. I did not think any still survived! His name was Nahkriin.
I dismissed the Dremora Lords and summoned two of the spectral Dragon Priests. What ensued was a long, hard battle.
The many different Shouts I had at my disposal and the Destruction spells of myself and the Dragon Priests did tremendous damage to the enemy combatants, which meant we were eventually victorious.
The two dragons were called Adaalrik and Dwiinavrok. I absorbed their souls.
I searched the remains of Nahkriin and recovered an unusual mask and his staff.
We climbed to the highest point of the building and found two circles. One was in the centre of a large area with stylised dragon wings and tail surrounding it.
The other was on a platform overlooking the first. It had a round slot in the centre of the circle a few inches deep.
During the last battle, Nahkriin was talking to us in Dovahzul. One thing he said was, “Zu’u uth naal thuri dein daar miiraak.”
That roughly translates to, “I was commanded by my overlord to keep this portal.”
I said to Lydia, “This is the portal to Sovngarde, and I guess the Dragon Priest’s staff is the key.”
I inserted the end of the staff into the hole. A beam of light appeared that shot up into the sky.
We stepped into the beam.
Lydia looked at me then asked, “Is this where I think it is?”
“Yes, we are in Sovngarde.”
“Oh. Well… umm… “
“What would Rigmor say?”
“Yeah, this is pretty cool.”
“I am going to see if I can get Inigo to join us. We breezed through Skuldafn but tackling Alduin where he is at his strongest… we need all the help we can get!”
Inigo appeared almost instantly then said, “Woah! That was a bumpy one! Where are we, my friends? This place smells exciting.”
“You, Inigo, are probably the first-ever Khajiit to visit Sovngarde.”
“This place is how I always imagined Sovngarde. I am not a dead Nord though, so it must be a dream, Interesting.”
“Woah! I am also not dead or a Nord!”
“What are you thinking?”
“You would not believe the dream I am having at the moment. I cannot wait to wake up and tell you all about it.”
“I don’t think you are invulnerable in your dreams so if we come across an imaginary Alduin, be careful.”
“Point taken. Ahh, Lydia, why are you in this dream?”
Lydia replied, “One of my biggest ambitions, ever since my mother first taught me the recipe when I was a little girl, is to cook Apple-Cabbage Stew for Shor and the heroes in Sovngarde.”
“Then it is fortuitous that Wulf and I can help you fulfil that wish!”
I said, “Let us make our way to the Hall of Valour where magical cooking pots await to create an endless supply of Apple-Cabbage Stew!”
Sovngarde was pretty enough, but I expected more from the Nord afterlife. The Hall of Valour sounds dull enough, but if the only respite would be to wander around this average-looking valley, then I can understand the eternal drinking and brawling and boasting.
Alduin was flying around.
I warned the other two, “Do not engage Alduin in battle. Let us see if we can recruit some others first.”
We approached some mist. It was not harmful but did obscure our view. It would make it easy to get lost in an unfamiliar place.
“LOK VAH KOOR!”
The mist dissipated before Clear Skies.
I looked up and pointed to a portal above us.
“Where does that one go?” asked Lydia.
“To Aetherius. I would rather my afterlife be there than here. This place would be more like punishment than a reward for a life lived well.”
As we walked towards another bank of mist, the soul of a deceased Stormcloak walked out of the gloom and approached.
He said, “Turn back, travellers! Terror waits within this mist. Many have braved the shadowed vale, but vain is all courage against the peril that guards the way.”
“Who are you, and where did you die?”
“Menin Kjisson. Near Giant’s Gap, in the gloom before dawn, we marched, unsuspecting into the Imperial trap. Then we stood and fought, our shield-wall defending until by dawn’s light the Legion’s ranks wavered. But I never knew if nights-end brought victory – a swift-flying arrow to Sovngarde carried me.”
“I assume you are lost in Alduin’s mist?”
“Alduin, his hunger insatiable, hunts the lost souls snared within this shadowed valley. None have passed through.”
“Do you want to follow us?”
“Can you lead the way to where Shor’s hall waits, beckoning us on to welcome long sought?”
“Yes, you can follow us to the Hall of Valour. Isn’t plain Tamrielic wonderful?”
“I saw it fair when first I trod this long-sought path. The pain and fear vanished, dreamlike, and a vision beckoned.”
“You saw a giant pot of Apple-Cabbage Stew?”
“Shor’s hall, shimmering across the clouded vale. But quenched was hope by the shrouding mist – my mind is darkened. I’ve lost my way and wander blindly.”
“I hope this is not a maze. One thing I hate more than mumbo jumbo is a maze.”
“Hurry! Before Alduin your life devours bring word to Shor’s hall of our hard fate!”
“I am sure Shor, no that doesn’t sound right. I am positive Shor, and The Divines, are very well aware of your hard fate. That is why we are here. Follow us through the mist and watch as we remove the World-Eater from Sovngarde.”
“I’ll try to hold to your hopeful purpose. Quickly, before this encompassing fog once more snares me in the World-Eater’s net.”
“If you lose sight of us, just follow your nose. My blue friend pongs and can be smelt from the other side of Sovngarde!”
Inigo sniffed then said, “Is that me? I thought dream Lydia was carrying a pot of Apple-Cabbage Stew!”
I cleared some more mist with my Thu’um, which allowed us to see the Hall of Valour for the first time. I was underwhelmed.
Menin’s soul whined, “There is no escape. Courage is useless.”
Alduin flew overhead and stared at me in passing. I use my Thu’um to do the loudest chicken impersonation in history!
Inigo asked, “Is that wise?”
“Inigo, this is your dream. You can turn Alduin into a giant flying pumpkin!”
“Give it a go next time he flies past us!”
Despite his doom and gloom outlook, Menin stayed with us.
I turned a corner and came face to face with Ulfric’s soul.
He said, “Skyrim was betrayed, the blood of her sons spilt in the doomed struggle against fate. And so, in death, too late, I learn the truth – fed by war, so waxed the power of Alduin, World-Eater – wisdom now useless. By gods’ jest in the grim mist together snared, Stormcloak and Imperial, we wander hopeless, waiting for succour.”
“Even in death, you deny your guilt. Your lust for power led to the civil war that has fed Alduin. The gods did not place you here for a jest. You blasphemed when declaring your defence of Talos to be true and what he wants. But The Nine have not punished you for that. You have ended up in Sovngarde where the only entry criteria are to die in battle and with a weapon in hand. No morals are tested or deeds measured. You are where you deserve to be, but Alduin is not a jest.”
Alduin seemed to have finished gathering souls and was content to fly around and watch us from a distance.
A bit further along the trail, I met Galmar’s soul.
He whined, “Dragonborn, even in death, you dog my steps?”
“Dog your steps? We were never even introduced before you attacked me, you fool!”
“How come you here? The king of this realm will cast you out – cursed be your name by all sons of Skyrim, with scorn unceasing.”
“I want you to make it to the Hall of Valour so that over countless meads you can tell others countless times of how you met your doom. You can describe in detail how you not only broke the sacred laws of parley with a cowardly attack on a guest but also interfered with a Nord duel to the death already accepted by your Jarl. You can relive how I allowed you dozens of swings with your hammer only to evade each one and how it took one blow from me to fell Galmar the Craven. You will be a popular figure in the Hall of Valour. A favourite jester brought out to amuse old and new heroes.”
The next soul was of a Legionnaire who whined, “There is no escape. Courage is useless. Beware! The World-Eater waits within the mist!”
“Is that what it is? I thought it was a giant chicken!”
Only because I had seen paintings in Castle Dour did I recognise the following soul.
“Greetings High King Torygg. You are looking remarkedly well for a dead person!”
“When Ulfric Stormcloak, with savage Shout, sent me here, my sole regret was fair Elisif, left forlorn and weeping.”
“I have avenged you. Jarl Elisif, soon to be High Queen Elisif, will find some solace in that.”
“I faced Ulfric fearlessly – my fate inescapable, yet my honour is unstained – can Ulfric say the same?”
“No, he cannot! His infamy will haunt his eternal soul. I hope self-loathing accompanies it.”
We came to the steps that lead to Tsun and the Whalebone Bridge.
I approached, and Tsun asked, “What brings you, wayfarer grim, to wander here, in Sovngarde, souls-end, Shor’s gift to honoured dead.”
“I am Wulf, and I hunt Alduin, the World-Eater. I assume you are Tsun, Shield-Thane of Shor?”
“I am he. The Whalebone Bridge he bade me guard and winnow all those souls whose heroic end sent them here, to Shor’s lofty hall. Where welcome, well-earned, awaits those I judge fit to join that fellowship of honour.”
I thought to myself, what a load of undiluted bullshit! Honour? There is no honour amongst many who populate Sovngarde. Ysgramor, the murderer of women and children numbering in the millions has no honour. Ulfric Stormcloak and Galmar have no honour. There will be countless bandits and mercenaries who have no honour within Shor’s lofty hall.
I said to Tsun, “I seek entrance to the hall.”
“No shade are you, as usual here passes, but living, you dare the land of the dead. By what right do you request entry?”
“By the right of being Dragonborn. I am the only one who can save Sovngarde and the whole of Mundus from being destroyed. Plus, my friend Lydia has a great recipe for Apple-Cabbage Stew.”
“Ah! It’s been too long since last I faced a doom-driven hero of the dragon blood.”
“I am not doom driven! Bah, why bother? What do I have to do to get a ticket to that wonderful, fun-filled hall?”
“Living or dead, by decree of Shor, none may pass this perilous bridge ‘til I judge them worthy by the warrior’s test.”
Tsun went to draw his hammer. I sliced him open.
He said, “You fought well. I find you worthy.”
I mimed, “But I raped twenty children yesterday and beheaded another thirty.”
“You fought well. I find you worthy.”
“And I invented the Thrassian Plague that killed 80% of all mortals!”
“You fought well. I find you worthy.”
“And I slaughtered every single Falmer including all the non-combatants!”
“You fought well. I find you worthy.”
“I invented a potion that saved millions of lives.”
“You have no honour for you can’t swing a sword!”
Ignoring my pointed sarcasm, Tsun said, “It is long since one of the living has entered here. May Shor’s favour follow you and your errand.”
“I sure hope so, or you will be without a bridge to guard!”
“Shor’s favour has found you, Dragonborn. The Hall of Valour, heart’s ease, awaits.”
As we crossed the bridge, Inigo said, “This dream is crazy!”
We entered the Hall of Valour, then I said to Lydia, “Look, the same carpet that we have in Silverpeak Lodge!”
I could tell by the unique axe called Wuuthrad strapped to his back that Ysgramor, the most unheroic of heroes, approached me. I fought to hold down my bile.
He said, “Welcome, Dragonborn! Our door has stood empty since Alduin first set his soul-snare here.”
“Well, that means more mead for my friends and me!”
“By Shor’s command, we sheathed our blades and ventured not the vale’s dark mist. But three await your word to vent their fury upon the perilous foe. Gormlaith the Fearless, glad-hearted in battle; Hakon the Valiant, heavy-handed warrior; Felldir the Old, far-seeing and grim.”
“Well, I had better go see them then.”
I walked past many supposed heroes that others revere. To me, most were no better than murdering scum. Besides, I was not in Sovngarde to socialise.
The three Tongues waited for me to approach.
- Gormlaith: At long last! Alduin’s doom is now ours to seal. Just speak the word, and with high hearts, we’ll hasten forth to smite the worm wherever he lurks.
- Felldir: Hold, comrades. Let us counsel take before the battle is blindly joined.
- Wulf: Please, let’s not talk tactics when the plan is obvious. We remove the mist by combining our Clear Skies Shouts. Alduin is the big black and ugly dragon that will appear when the mist is gone. We use Dragonrend to keep him grounded and keep hitting him with those sharp things called swords until he stops moving. Let’s go!
The Tongues headed for the exit while in the arena some souls decided to fight. Other souls watched them as if it was riveting entertainment.
I yelled, “In case anybody is interested, we go to fight Alduin now. Maybe you could watch through the windows and see a real battle? Just a suggestion.”
We exited the hall of Valour, and I said to my companions, “Where is the celebration of life? They forget all that makes a mortal laugh and love. Instead, they celebrate what makes most weep, violence and death. Isn’t it ironic that many if not most who end up here were using that violence to protect the very things not celebrated?”
We chased after the ancient Tongues who ran for no purpose that I could ascertain.
As we passed Tsun, he said, “The eyes of Shor are upon you this day. Defeat Alduin, and destroy his soul-snare.”
“Is that why I am here? I never knew that! By the way, I advise you to clean up your blood before somebody slips on it.”
We stood in the middle of the Tongues.
Felldir said, “We cannot fight the foe in this mist!”
I replied, “Follow my lead and do Clear Skies on the count of three. One… two… three…”
“LOK VAH KOOR!”
Four powerful Thu’um exponents combined to clear the valley of Alduin’s mist.
From somewhere within the valley, Alduin Shouted, “VEN MUL RIIK!”
The mist returned.
I said, “Clear Skies again on the count of three, One… two… three…”
“LOK VAH KOOR!”
The mist cleared once more. As before, Alduin Shouted, “VEN MUL RIIK!”
The mist returned.
I said, “We can do this forever. Alduin is using up the power of the souls he has consumed and will eventually tire. So, let us just do this till he has to fight. Clear Skies again on the count of three, One… two… three…”
“LOK VAH KOOR!”
The mist cleared. This time it did not return!
I used my Thu’um and roared, “BO ALDUIN AHRK GRIND HIN DAAN!” (Come Alduin and meet your doom!)
As soon as Alduin came into the open, I Shouted, “JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
The blue of Dragonrend surrounded Alduin who crashed to the ground in front of me.
That was the beginning of the most protracted battle I have ever experienced.
Unlike when we met at The Throat of the World, Alduin could not prevent Dragonrend from keeping him on the ground. There were four of us capable of using the Shout. He would occasionally leap up into the sky only to come crashing down once more.
Shouts from both Alduin and the Tongues echoed. Grunts of effort accompanied curses as weapons were wielded with all the might we could muster.
After two hours of relentless battle, I could sense Alduin was almost defeated. I yelled, “Lydia, summon your strength and finish him off!”
Lydia stepped forward, and her sword whistled as it travelled towards Alduin. It struck with all the strength her love for Bjorn could muster. That mighty blow ended the being that killed her beloved.
Alduin had been issuing insults and threats during the battle. Now he screamed.
I did not absorb his soul, which was no surprise. Instead, it rose to the portal above. It rejoined Akatosh as Alduin is part of him as my Dovah is part of me.
His last words were, “Zu’u unslaad! Zu’u nis oblaan!” (I’m unending! I cannot end!)
The black shadow of his soul then exploded. When the echo died down, there was silence in Sovngarde.
I approached Tsun, who said, “This was a mighty deed! The doom of Alduin encompassed at last, and cleansed is Sovngarde of his evil snare. They will sing of this battle in Shor’s hall forever. But your fate lies elsewhere.”
“Yes, I have other Divine given tasks to perform.”
“When you have completed your count of days, I may welcome you again, with glad friendship, and bid you join the blessed feasting.”
“That sounds so riveting. I can’t wait!”
I approached the three Tongues who said in unison, “All Hail the Dragonborn! Hail him with great praise!”
- Wulf: Why single me out? We defeated Alduin together. You three, my two companions and I.
- Hakon: I’ll look for you, my friend when at last you return to Shor’s hall. The honour will be ours when you rejoin the ranks of Sovngarde.
- Wulf: I do not think this will be my resting place. Aetherius is what awaits me.
- Gormlaith: Even here, where heroes throng, few can match this mighty deed. What glory! The gods themselves must envy us this well-earned honour!
- Wulf: Glory and honour in battle are very low on the priority of why I do things. But you enjoy what is important to you. As for The Divines, their only reaction will be relief.
- Felldir: Our ancient debt for Alduin’s reprieve is now repaid. The long night is ended.
- Wulf: And that is something to celebrate! Enjoy your time free of that debt.
A man’s soul dressed in the armour of Falkreath strode towards us. He stopped, stared and then yelled, “Lydia!”
Lydia turned then stared back in disbelief. She yelled, “Bjorn!”
Lydia’s shield clattered to the ground as she dropped it. Then she and Bjorn ran to each other.
They stopped just sort of crashing into each other. Then they embraced, and all who watched smiled. Many sniffled and wiped away unbidden tears.
Lydia looked over at me, and I nodded. Bjorn held her hand as they moved further away to talk in private.
They stood by a stream, and we watched from afar.
Tsun said, “Tarry not too long – the land of the dead is not meant for mortals to linger.”
“Bjorn’s appearance at this point is a gift from Shor! Lydia deserves a few minutes with her beloved.”
Tsun was right. Everything in Sovngarde was too bright, and I could feel a tugging on my soul. This place was a plane for the dead, and it wanted my soul to remain.
After ten minutes or so, Lydia stepped back from Bjorn. He slowly faded from this page of Sovngarde.
Lydia came up to me and said, “He had to go and pass Tsun’s test. But he also said we could not linger here any longer.”
“He is correct. We could end up trapped here, our souls anchored in this realm.”
As Lydia was speaking to me, Ulfric and other souls appeared. I had no desire to engage in any more speech with the deceased.
I said to Tsun, “Please return us to Nirn.”
“Return with a rich boon from Shor, a shout to bring a hero from Sovngarde in your hour of need.”
I was gifted several new Words of Power, the knowledge to use them and a new Shout.
Tsun then Shouted, “NAHL DAAL VUS!”
Sovngarde faded, and we found ourselves at The Throat of the World.
Many dragons were there to mourn the passing of Alduin. They would chant together, and then one would speak solo before taking to the sky. Once the dragon was airborne, he would breathe Dragonfire then fly away.
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Sahrot thur qahnaraan
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Dovahkiin los ok dovahkriid
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Thu’umii los nahlot
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Mu los vomir
In Tamrielic it roughly translates to,
- All: Alduin is fallen
- Dragon: The mighty overlord is vanquished
- All: Alduin is fallen
- Dragon: The Dragonborn slew him.
- All: Alduin is fallen
- Dragon: His voice is silenced
- All: Alduin is fallen
- Dragon: We are free of fealty
As the other dragons continued their ritual, I approached Paarthurnax, who was perched upon the Word Wall.
He said, “So, it is done. Alduin dilon. The Eldest is no more, he who came before all others, and had always been.”
“Alduin was the architect of his downfall.”
“Indeed. Alduin wahlaan daanii. His doom was written when he claimed for himself the lordship that properly belongs to Bormahu – our father, Akatosh. But I cannot celebrate his fall. Zu’u tiiraaz ahst ok mah. He was my brother once. This world will never be the same. Rok funta koraav. Perhaps now you have some insight into the forces that shape the vennesetiid… the currents of Time.”
Paarthurnax was probably expecting I would claim it was my destiny to defeat Alduin. Instead, I said, “I understand that it was not my destiny to defeat Alduin. I am not a Dwemer machine blindly following instructions given to me at the time of my construction. A prophecy only defines one possible outcome and does not force the targets of said prophecy to lose their free will. The actions I took were a product of free will, not destiny nor prophecy. That is my understanding of vennesetiid.”
“I forget myself. Krosis. So los mid fahdon. Melancholy is an easy trap for a dovah to fall into. You have won a mighty victory. Sahrot krongrah – one that will echo through all the ages of this world for those who have eyes to see. Savour your triumph, Dovahkiin. This is not the last of what you will write upon the currents of Time.”
“I am supposed to save Nirn many more times. But maybe I will elope with my beloved Rigmor and let other’s do that.”
Paarthurnax laughed then took flight.
He hovered over me and said, “Goraan! I feel younger than I have in many an age.”
“And what will you do now?”
“Many of the Dov are now scattered across Keizaal. Without Alduin’s lordship, they may yet bow to the vahzen… rightness of my Thu’um. But willing or no, they will hear it! Fare thee well, for now, Dovahkiin!”
As Paarthurnax flew back to the Word Wall, Odahviing landed.
He said, “Pruzah wundunne wah Wuth Gein. I wish the old one luck in his… quest. But I doubt many will wish to exchange Alduin’s lordship for the tyranny of Paarthurnax’s ‘Way of the Voice’.”
“I will hunt down and kill any Dovah who does not wish to live peacefully with mortals. So maybe some will need that ‘tyranny’ to survive?”
“As for myself, you’ve proven your mastery twice over. Thuri, Dovahkiin. I gladly acknowledge the power of your Thu’um. Zu’u Odahviing. Call me when you have the need, and I will come if I can.”
“If you will be my ally out of mutual respect and not because you believe me more powerful, then I may call for your aid.”
I walked over to Inigo and Lydia.
- Inigo: My friend, you are amazing. You saved us all. You killed that smelly World-Eater and put an end to his maniacal machinations.
- Wulf: Alduin is not dead forever. I did not absorb his soul.
- Inigo: I had the strangest dream that I was there fighting Alduin by your side. Lydia was there as well! It was exhilarating, and it is a shame that it was not real.
- Lydia: So where were you when you had that dream, and how did you get here?
- Inigo: Um…
- Wulf: You were there with us, Inigo. I could not summon you to Skuldafn so the actual summoning that brought you to Sovngarde may have been a lot later than you expected.
- Inigo: That is what happened! I was waiting for you to zap me to Skuldafn. About five hours after you left, Lydia said, ‘See you soon!’ then vanished. I fell asleep waiting for my turn!
- Wulf: You were not worried that something terrible might have happened to us, and that is why you were not summoned?
- Lydia: We could have been dragon food, and you still fell asleep?
- Inigo: What can harm the Dragonborn?
- Wulf: An arrow to the neck worked pretty well last time I died. Oops, not your arrow. That of the New Order.
- Inigo: I was all excited to go and then nothing for hours. Sorry, I could not help falling asleep!
- Wulf: We are not mad Inigo. We are just amazed at how relaxed you were.
- Inigo: But wow! I was actually there. That is the best news I have had in a while! That means we three saved the world from Alduin.
- Wulf: Everybody who has helped me saved the world from Alduin. That includes those who fought beside us at this very spot and the three ancient Tongues in Sovngarde.
- Inigo: But you did most of the work and what an adventure! I really thought I had just imagined the whole thing. Thank you for putting me straight.
- Lydia: We are quite a team, don’t you agree?
- Inigo: If they do not build a massive statue in your honour, I would complain.
- Wulf: If they did, I would demolish it. This is about doing the right thing, not becoming a hero.
- Lydia: Inigo, I heard you during the busiest part of the battle and had to laugh.
- Wulf: He didn’t! Did he?
- Lydia: Yes, he yelled out, ‘This is my dream you smelly lizard. You are now a pumpkin!’
- Inigo: You will not put that in your journal, will you, my friend?
- Wulf: It is an essential piece of history, so of course I will.
- Inigo: Well, don’t forget the part where we all cried when Bjorn appeared.
- Wulf: That was a gift from Shor for a special Swordmaiden.
- Lydia: I will talk about it one day soon. At the moment it is a bit…
- Wulf: Raw? We understand.
- Lydia: What do we do now?
- Wulf: Well, my internal Dovah clock tells me that we have not lost or gained time while travelling through Skuldafn and Sovngarde. It seems that Skuldafn was a bit like a ‘pocket plane’ with its weird effect of the teleport spell and its apparent jump forward in time by a few hours. We went back to the regular timeline when we entered Sovngarde.
- Inigo: Is that why you did not summon me to Skuldafn?
- Lydia: I only just made it alive according to Wulf. It was not pleasant.
- Wulf: We are exhausted, but my internal compass is pointing me towards Riften. I think I know why, and it is something I need to attend to personally. So, after a rest tonight, you two are free to go about your own business.
- Lydia: I would like to spend some time alone. Can I use Breezehome?
- Wulf: Use it for as long as you need to.
- Inigo: I would like to stay at Langley’s.
- Wulf: That is a great idea, but we have some talking to do before then.
- Inigo: Yes, it is time we spoke more about that.
- Wulf: I ask that you two travel together to Riften then take carriages.
- Lydia: OK. I will also visit Jarl Balgruuf and tell him the good news.
- Wulf: Can you also send a courier with the news to Silverpeak Lodge?
- Lydia: Of course.
- Wulf: Let us go to High Hrothgar and get some sleep.
- Lydia: I found sleeping in Kyne’s Temple very peaceful last time.
- Inigo: Will the Greybeards be waiting for news as well?
- Wulf: They would have heard the many dragons, so, yes. I am sure Arngeir has some sort of banal mumbo jumbo he will recite as if I am privileged to listen to it.
- Inigo: What was with all the weird talking that Ulfric and the others did?
- Wulf: I don’t know. Death is supposed to bring wisdom and understanding. At least Ulfric showed a bit of that. Galmar was just as stupid in death, so it seemed.
Odahviing, Paarthurnax and several other dragons watched as we left. I hope not too many Dov go rogue.
We walked silently to High Hrothgar.
We entered the ancient building and found the Greybeards in their dining hall.
As we approached, Arngeir stood to greet us.
- Arngeir: I see it in your eyes – you’ve seen the land of the gods and returned.
- Wulf: We saw the land of one god, and it is not the first I have visited.
- Arngeir: Does this mean… it is done? Is Alduin truly defeated?
- Wulf: We destroyed his corporeal form but not his soul. That is back with Akatosh and Alduin will return one day. If he concentrates on the task of ending this age, he may be unstoppable. But that is a concern for others.
- Arngeir: Perhaps, perhaps not. Dragons are not like normal mortal creatures, and Alduin is unique even among dragons. He may be permitted to return at the end of time to fulfil his destiny as the World-Eater. But that is for the gods to decide. You have done your part.
- Wulf: He will return if Mundus still exists, but others could destroy it before he does. I recently stopped one of them, but you would not know about that. I may have to stop many more. I have done one small part of the tasks before me.
- Arngeir: You’ve shown yourself mighty, both in Voice and deed. In order to defeat Alduin, you have gained mastery of dreadful weapons. Now it is up to you to decide what to do with your power and skill. Will you be a hero whose name is remembered in song throughout the ages? Or will your name be a curse to future generations? Or will you fade from history, unremembered? Let the Way of the Voice be your guide, and the path of wisdom will be clear to you.
- Lydia: Oh, shut the fuck up you ignorant old fart!
- Wulf: Lydia!
- Lydia: Wulf used the weapons given to him by The Divines, including Kynareth. He knows which ones to use and when according to the strictest set of morals I have ever seen in a person. There is no wisdom Wulf can learn from your religion. Your leader, Paarthurnax, wanted to combat Alduin using the Thu’um! The Divines wanted and needed him to use his Voice to save all on Nirn, and you still sit there and imply he took evil into himself to do so. What is wrong with you?
- Wulf: Please, Lydia…
- Inigo: No, Lydia is correct. All you have ever got from this lot are warnings about using your Divinely gifted tools. It is not like you have sided with Daedric Princes!
- Lydia: Wulf told us that Ulfric Stormcloak spent ten years being taught your ways. Not only did he use the most commonly learnt Shout to kill a king, but he also used it in a duel with Wulf. Yet you do not regard that Shout as evil? You make no sense, and on behalf of all who owe Wulf our lives, twice over now, I demand you show some respect for the man who stands before you!
- Arngeir: I see. Perhaps we need to discuss our teachings more with Paarthurnax.
- Wulf: He might be busy recruiting new members to your order. But I do not think the name of Greybeards will apply to the dragons who join.
- Arngeir: He is what?
- Wulf: Breath and focus, Arngeir.
We left the stunned Greybeards so they can contemplate what was just said.
We entered Kyne’s Temple, and I prayed.
Once more, I was gifted new Shouts. I can call on an Avatar of Shor to help in battle!
We set up two bedrolls.
I said to Lydia, “I am going to speak to Inigo for a little while.”
“I will be asleep when he returns. I am, as you said at the summit, exhausted.”
“We will sit and talk about the events of the day when you are ready, but I am glad you landed the final blow. It was only fitting.”
“Bjorn could not watch the battle, but he was so proud that I fought Alduin.”
“He is a handsome man!”
“Yes, beautiful both inside and out.”
“Can you guess why I have to go to Riften?”
“You have organised something with The Divines. Something around the secrecy of the Dragonborn and the Guardian General being the same person. Something to do with Rigmor.”
“At the moment I do not know the rules under which it all works so cannot confirm or deny till I do. I will let you know more if permitted.”
“And Lydia, thank you for being beside me through all of this. You are just as much a ‘hero’ as me.”
“Goodnight, my Thane.”
Inigo and I returned to the dining hall.
We sat, and I said, “We are going to talk about who you think I am, and it is not an option!”
“I am ready. Say what you must.”
“I cannot possibly be the person you shot. He was not half-dragon!”
“I know. When you first denied our past in my cell, I did not believe you. Now I know better. I am sorry. I have misled you and myself. Our time together began with a lie. I am glad it is ending with the truth. I will bother you no longer. For what it is worth, thank you. We had some fine times you and I. Goodbye.”
“Believing you were in a dream and demanding that Alduin turn into a pumpkin was not as delusional as that load of bollocks. We are going to talk about this!”
“There is nothing to talk about. Langley was right. I am crazy. My mind is broken!”
“Quiet and let me give you some facts.
- Langley is in no position to judge you or comment on your sanity.
- You haven’t misled me. I never thought I was the one who was shot!
- There was no lie! You believed what you said and were mistaken. That is not lying!
- Our time together is not ending.
You have been through a lot so stop being so hard on yourself.”
“I am not worthy of your time.”
“You have a good soul. You are my friend and part of my team. You are worth more than my time.”
“What did you call me?”
“You are my friend. A good and close friend who I am starting to rely on.”
“Do you really mean it? I will not hold it against you if you do not.”
“Are you accusing me of lying? I said that you are my friend.”
“Thank you. That means more than you know. I honestly thought we had a past together, but as time went by, I did begin to doubt myself. You are so similar to the person I once knew. You even smell the same… in a good way.”
“I don’t think you wanted to face the fact you killed your old friend.”
“Yes, I think deep down I knew my old friend was dead. I needed to believe forgiveness was possible, and if not forgiveness… redemption in death. I deceived myself. It was selfish of me.”
“It is understandable and does not make you a bad person.”
“Thank you, my friend. I still have much to live for because of you.”
“Inigo, you just helped save the world. You may do so again with the Doom Strider. You may even have to help me save the world a few more times before he makes an appearance. You have much to live for, including the friends you have already made! Oh, and don’t forget the two lovely Khajiit ladies waiting for you at Silverpeak!”
“Maybe I should delay my visit to Langley’s?”
“No. The wait will make them more eager.”
“True! Anyway, I am still in your debt. You gave me a reason to go on, you made me face my past, and now you are helping me come to terms with what I have done. I will follow you to Oblivion and back if need be. I did not mean to lie to you… or myself. I am ashamed. I hope in time, and I will be able to earn your forgiveness. In the end, I hope our friendship and future adventures will prove more important than how we met.”
“I am going around in circles here! There is nothing to forgive, and I was never deceived! It matters not how we met. You are my friend and part of a fantastic team that has saved the world. Every person you see for the rest of your life owes their very existence and that of their loved ones to you. Think about that!”
“That is very kind. It is a beautiful gesture, but my debt to you stands. I have not come near to earning forgiveness yet.”
“Surely I am the one to judge if you have anything to be forgiven for?”
“Your words bring me joy, but I do not deserve them. I am happy you do not hold my confusion about our past against me, but I cannot say the same. Also, the person I thought you were is dead because of me. He is yet another casualty of my former life. I will know when I am ready to move on, but for now, the guilt I bear still weighs down on my heart. Maybe that guilt will be there for the rest of my life. I have a feeling that I am the only one who can let it go.”
“I can understand your guilt about the killing of your old friend. That I cannot forgive you for as I am not the one who was wronged. But I will do what I can to help and hope your heart will recognise redemption when you find it.”
“Yes. I believe it will. I must continue to readdress my life’s balance. I can feel a shift already.”
“You killed one person under the influence of Skooma. You saved everybody when not under the influence of Skooma. Put those on the scales and see what your life’s balance is.”
“I was wondering, while we are travelling together, would you mind if I did some looting of my own?”
“Why would I care about that? I am not in this for the money, and you can keep whatever you find, except for gems. Rings, amulets etcetera are all yours.”
“Thank you. Now the possibility of a future exists, maybe I should start planning for it.”
“Start by visiting Langley. Now get some sleep, my friend.”
“You told me I could turn Alduin into a pumpkin. What kind of friend tells you that?”
“The best kind.”
Inigo headed to Kyne’s Temple. I went to my private room.
I said to Talos, “It seems that Lady Mara has decided to aid Rigmor and me. I hope all will be onboard eventually. I do not like to think Rigmor and me could cause a rift amongst our gods.”
I sat and wrote in my journal the crawled into bed.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
We woke the next morning to find the Greybeards had prepared an excellent breakfast for us. Perhaps Lydia’s harsh words penetrated where mine did not.
Inigo and Lydia said their goodbyes and headed for Riften together. They were walking while I was going to ride. I needed to get there quickly.
Just after 9:00 AM, I summoned Hashire and headed for Riften.
It was an uneventful ride, and I arrived at Riften’s North Gate at about 12:45 PM.
I entered Riften then headed straight for the Temple of Mara.
Dinya came over to me. As soon as she started talking, my compass vanished.
“We all heard the dragons last night. Then this morning, Lady Mara told me of your triumph. The Divines are pleased with their Champion.”
“Has the news reached the populace yet?”
“I am sure it will be all over the news-sheets this afternoon.”
“I have been directed to you by The Divines. Is there something that they need me to do?”
“Yes, but first Lady Mara wants you to have this.”
Dinya handed me a ring with an enormous diamond set in the middle. Then she said, “Put it on the ring finger of your left hand.”
I did so then I yelped in pain. Red seeped into the diamond, so it looked like it was part ruby.
Dinya laughed, then explained, “These rings are many millennia old. Lady Mara gifted them to an ancient hero and his wife when The Nine still walked on Nirn. Now they are attuned to you and Rigmor. Only your blood will activate that ring. Only Rigmor’s will activate the other. Via the dweomer imbued in them, both rings are now bound by blood and soul.”
“I can imagine Rigmor’s choice words when she put hers on!”
“You cannot take it off. Do not try for it will hurt a lot or so I was told.”
“What do the rings do?”
“Dawn Magic was used to create them, so their dweomer is more powerful than a mortal of today could place upon them. Via will alone you can summon each other, but that does not mean you can ever cross into Cyrodiil. You must only use the summoning to bring Rigmor to you.”
“But I know a spell to do that. There must be more.”
“I was warned your patience is thin. I will tell you if you give me a chance!”
“Forgive me. I am eager to see the Countess.”
Dinya laughed once more then said, “You have Divines helping with this love. They know its intensity and its beauty, but the entirety of Mundus is at risk. Even though Lord Talos first broke ranks and went solo with this idea, the other Divines realised he was right. I do not know how long they wanted to keep you apart, but it would have been more of a danger than to let you see each other. You would both have pined and been distracted. You will need each other in the coming times of darkness. The Nine are now in agreement. They trust both you and Rigmor will show great caution. Being seen in Cyrodiil together would be something they might not be able to fix easily. Being seen together in Skyrim, without it being obvious that you are the Guardian General and Rigmor the Countess of Bruma, is of little consequence. Disguise the fact the same woman is accompanying you on many occasions, and all will still go to plan.”
“That should be easy enough to accomplish.”
“You cannot summon Rigmor if people can see her vanish or appear. The dweomer on the ring will prevent this. Even scrying will be detected, and the ring will not activate.”
“I thought the Magicka behind scrying was lost?”
“Not to some who worship the Dark Lords and not to some mages at the College of Winterhold.”
“Can Rigmor refuse the summons?”
“Of course. She may be bathing, for instance.”
“And why would that be a problem?”
“May I remind you this is a Temple of Mara, not Dibella.”
“Wouldn’t it be amusing to hear the conversations between those two!”
“Ahem… if the delay is simply inconvenient, such as Rigmor being in the middle of holding court, you will know.”
“I am in awe of this gift!”
“Rigmor must designate one safe place. She will always return to where she was summoned from unless you have a reason to do otherwise. For instance, if there are people where she would reappear. You will know what the reason is via the rings. For instance, there may be a fire where Rigmor would have rematerialised. In that case, you both ‘will’ Rigmor to return to her safe place. Rigmor has picked that place already and had to do so before the ring’s teleportation would work.”
“The dweomer is indeed impressive and powerful. It is a pity such Magicka has been lost.”
“Because of the blood and soul bond, you will both be aware of the health of the other. You will know if Rigmor is ill or injured. This function could not be removed from the dweomer so The Divines remind you that if Rigmor was in danger from intruders, you could not materialise to help her anyway. The rules that apply to her summoning apply to yours.”
“This empathy via the rings will only work in Mundus. If you are in a different plane, such as Sovngarde, then all Rigmor would detect is your absence. It would be as if you removed the ring.”
“So, if I know I have to make such a trip, I should inform Rigmor.”
“And you can do that via the rings. Lady Mara said you already connected to Rigmor via your amulets. That is an indication of how powerful your love for one another is. The rings will allow you to have such contact easily.”
“I can talk to Rigmor?”
“As if she was next to you, yes. But it will exhaust both of you so do it sparingly.”
“Just to the ability to say goodnight is a blessing!”
“So, now the part for which I have eagerly awaited. You once indicated you would like to repay Lady Mara one day. You even suggested you might be willing to be an acolyte. As a reward, you get blessed!”
“Of course. It will make a welcome change.”
“Excuse me while I get into priestess mode. Protocol and all that.”
“Mumbo jumbo time?”
Dinya smiled, changed into full mysterious mode then said, “We are devoted to the Goddess Mara, who gave mortals the gift of love that they might have a hint of eternity. Her blessings are many. To love is to know the true nature of the gods.”
“And how may I aid Lady Mara?”
“Not all can hear the broad echoes of deepest dawn. To receive the touch of Mara, you must first act as her hands in the world. Explore the facets of the infinite jewel. Are you prepared, then, to help bring light across this land?”
“It will be a privilege.”
“The dawn surely opens upon you, child. You must bear its light that all may see. Mara has reflected an image to me. At the foot of the throat and the young woman… almost a girl… her fickle love must resolve itself. The village of Ivarstead. The woman, Fastred. This is the prayer heard by the goddess and relayed to her servants. Return when she has seen her path. I will entreat Mara on your behalf.”
“Can we speak plain Tamrielic now?”
“Lady Mara asks that you wear these robes which show you to be a servant of The Divines.”
Dinya opened a nearby cupboard and retrieved two beautiful robes of an unknown material that she handed to me.
I said, “Let me guess. These robes will fit perfectly as if a tailor measured us.”
“Yes, and you will also find they are virtually indestructible. Many sets will start appearing in Temples of The Nine as gifts for those who held them in their heart when the authorities ordered them only to mention The Eight.”
“Is there anything else Lady Mara requests of me?”
“You are not to carry a weapon of any type. Very rarely do even the most desperate of villains attack the holy acolytes of any Divine temple. Our goddess wants you to trust in people’s love for The Divines. The Divines are showing great trust in you with the gifting of those rings.”
“A fair enough request.”
“You are also to walk where you can. That does not mean you have to trek by foot across the breadth of Skyrim! Carriage travel to the capitals is permitted, but no horse riding or, if rumours are correct, the riding of dragons.”
“Has Rigmor been given these instructions?”
“Yes, and she can remain with you for however many days Lady Mara requests your service. There is a very powerful mortal who knows of Rigmor and you. He has arranged excuses for Rigmor’s absence from her court. I will let her tell you that story.”
“I am honestly looking forward to spreading love instead of death. If there is no more, I would like to meet my beloved.”
“I would advise you set out for Ivarstead as quickly as you can. You should be able to complete this first task by midnight if you are not, um, distracted by other things.”
I laughed as I left the Temple of Mara and headed for Honeyside.
A soon as I entered my new house I dressed in the robes and was struck by very strong Déjà vu. They seemed familiar, but of course, no memories surfaced to tell me why. As expected, the robes fitted perfectly. They were also by far the most comfortable garments I have worn since awakening.
I stood in my bedroom and not because I had plans involving Rigmor and the bed. I simply felt it was the most private room in the house, and I might as well start practising the paranoia about discovery.
I concentrated and knew Rigmor waited with anticipation. I willed through the ring for her to come to me.
A second later, she was standing in front of me. I wondered if my face was as shocked as hers.
Rigmor smiled then flew into my arms.
Nothing else existed as we kissed and held each other like we did when saying goodbye at that damned border.
I glanced over at a Shrine of Mara I did not realise existed when I chose this spot to summon Rigmor. I swear it smiled at us.