Skyrim quests: The Book of Love, The Forsworn Conspiracy.
Skyrim mods: Rigmor of Bruma.
I woke with a sense of urgency. I did not feel right leaving Margret in Markarth. She is a spy, or operative if you want to be polite. She works for Blackwell who I remembered being mentioned once before, on the day I awoke. I was told that he admired the work of Caven, the torturer who I met when escaping Helgen. Blackwell might not be the nicest person on Nirn, but Rigmor said he is loyal to Empire and Emperor, so I assume Margret is as well, and now she is in terrible danger. It bothered me all morning!
After our bath and breakfast, Rigmor waited for me outside. We were to travel to Whiterun for the third task given by Lady Mara.
Rigmor said, “OK, my dear Dragonborn, I have been patient. What is wrong?”
“I was hoping we would finish Mara’s work and then have a day to ourselves but…”
“But you are worried about Markarth.”
“That assassin was not an asset they would use unless Margret is a danger to someone or something.”
“Blackwell would not have sent her unless it was important.”
“I have to go back there and at least get some idea of what is happening and make sure Margret is safe.”
“I will be able to visit again soon and then we can have that day out. When we get back from Whiterun, I will go back to the Imperial Palace, and you can do what is needed. Margret is one of my citizens, after all.”
“Do you know the history of the Forlorn?”
“Only the basics. Tell me as we travel.”
I hired a carriage, and then we climbed aboard.
Not far from Riften I told Rigmor the true story of ‘The Bear of Markarth’.
I said to Rigmor, “The Reachmen have lived in The Reach for far longer than the Nords or Bretons. They are a mixture of several races, primarily Breton and the Nedic race called Ket Ketpu or more commonly, Keptu. They have often adopted the children of defeated enemies and therefore have many races within their bloodline.
They have always been devoted followers of the Daedric Princes, mainly Hircine but also Molag Bal, Malacath, Namira and Mehrunes Dagon. The reason being these are the more chaotic of the Dark Lords and fit into their reverence for nature which, in itself, is also chaotic. They do not like the more civilised Daedric Princes such as Sanguine or Azura.
Their preference to live close to nature has resulted in many others regarding them as savages and primitives. This false generalisation has been used by leaders for thousands of years to lessen empathy for their fate.
They waste little and use all the parts of the animals they slaughter. Their reverence for nature and lack of waste means they have far less impact on wildlife and the environment than other races. Their bone weapons are as deadly as any iron or steel equivalent. Their hide and fur armours are as good as the best leather armours.
They are masters of hedge-magic, and many can wield beastfolk-magic.
Their association with Hagraven is complex and not merely veneration as many ignorant scholars claim.
When you have a chance, I suggest you gather the better histories and learn what you can about these amazing people.”
“I will. I know you could speak for hours on them.”
“Yes, I could, but the Markarth Incident is what concerns today’s Empire.
Near the end of the Great War, many regions had been abandoned by The Empire. Legions were withdrawn to fight on the frontlines of Cyrodiil and Hammerfell. In 4E 174 an army of Reachmen rebelled against the Nords in Skyrim. They captured the entire Eastern Reach, including Markarth. This is now called the ‘Forsworn Uprising’ even though those we call Forsworn did not exist then.
Like any victimised people, the Reachmen took revenge on the Nords who had treated them so poorly. They did not kill non-combatants and did not harm soldiers who surrendered. They did kill the merchants and nobles who had made their existence miserable under Nord rule.
For two years they governed Markarth and The Eastern Reach fairly. Religious freedom was allowed, and travel within The Eastern Reach was safe as bandits were eliminated or fled.
Emperor Titus Mede II was in talks with the Reachmen leaders, and he intended to allow a new province of The Empire to be created combining the Western Reach of High Rock and the Eastern Reach of Skyrim. I think Orsinium would also have been part of the new nation.
People like to ignore that we had several Reachmen Emperors, called the Longhouse Emperors, during the second era. Their undoing was legalising Daedric worship. How dare they allow religious freedom!
The only delay to the creation of the new province was the chaos of Tamriel at the end of the Great War.
While normal Nords and Reachmen were living peacefully and waiting for the new nation to be ratified, Nord nobles hired a militia led by Ulfric Stormcloak. While your father and the Sons of Talos fought beside the Redguard in Hammerfell, Ulfric the traitor, Ulfric the Thalmor puppet was already planning a civil war.
Ulfric recruited many fellow Nords by promising Talos worship in a liberated Markarth. This hollow promise was ‘guaranteed’ by the Nobles who recruited him. There was no way, so soon after the White-Gold Concordat was signed, would Mede allow such a breach of the treaty. Ulfric knew this and planned to use the subsequent outrage to recruit more Nords into the army we called Stormcloaks.
In 1E 476, Ulfric and his mercenaries besieged and eventually captured Markarth. He then slaughtered anybody old enough to wield a weapon and had not fought against the Reachmen! Children and the elderly. Shopkeepers and farmers. Priests and beggars. All were put to the sword! Many were tortured until they gave up the names of Reachmen hiding within the general population. Some would falsely accuse people they hardly knew of being Reachmen just to end the pain and join their loved ones in death.
Anybody reported as Reachmen or just suspected of being one were subjected to the most horrific and prolonged methods of execution.
Nobody asked why so few Empire citizens had turned against the Reachmen. Ulfric murdered them so they could not tell of how well they had been governed. His recruitment numbers would have been less if the citizens of The Reach were allowed to tell how well the ‘primitive savages’ had treated them.
The plan worked. Talos worship was banned in Markarth. Ulfric rescued all those poor Nords from the Daedric worshipping savages but had been lied to by the traitorous Empire! He was recruiting a new army, and angry Nords queued to sign up.
The Forsworn became the new name for Skyrim Reachmen. Over the years they have started practising the barbarity so expertly demonstrated by Ulfric. The civil war provided them with a chance to grab large parts of The Reach back, and now they occupy a lot of forts and cave complexes.
I will kill any Forsworn that shows aggression to me or any other Skyrim citizen. Equally, I will defend the Forsworn against injustice.”
“I know you hate killing but do you feel justice was served with Ulfric?”
“I would have preferred a public hanging. Not a long drop where his neck snapped. A slow one where he would hear the name-calling and hate the public held for him at the end. Maybe hand out some rotten fruit, so he was pelted as they prepared him for his demise. Instead, his last fight with me will be turned into a heroic stand against impossible odds while his fight against High King Torygg will be written as an epic battle between equals. I swear, the first bard I hear telling such lies will end up with a fat lip and broken instrument.”
“I can believe that. What do you think is happening in Markarth?”
“The guards are being paid by somebody to hide the Forsworn presence. Yngvar said people are thrown into the Cidhna Mine, implying that guilt is not a factor. Imagine if they put the Dragonborn in there?”
“Emperor Mede would probably send down his attorneys to see why the man who has rescued every single mortal twice is jailed. Blackwell must smell something off in Markarth to have Margret risk her life investigating.”
“OK, Countess, tell me what you think it is all about.”
“Yngvar said Blood and Silver flow through Markarth. I have started to learn what trade deals Bruma has, and I know that The Reach is Skyrim’s biggest source of silver and that one family, the Silver-Bloods, have a monopoly on it.”
“I wonder if they had that monopoly before the Forsworn Uprising?”
“I don’t know. I do know they use convict labour in most of their mines.”
“That is not uncommon for all types of mines throughout The Empire.”
“True but not only would somebody thrown in jail provide cheap labour, but they could also effectively be removed if a business rival or a threat to whatever is happening.”
“You would think that Markarth Guards and the Forsworn are enemies. So why hide the fact that Forsworn agents are amongst the workers in Markarth? Why try and scare me away from investigating further?”
“The guards know the Forsworn are in Markarth. There is a monetary incentive to keep that information quiet.”
Rigmor was doing well. This ability to analyse will help her be the Countess I know she can be. I asked her, “If you were a business owner, why would you pay guards to keep the presence of Forsworn quiet?”
“Keeping that knowledge quiet would have to earn more than what is paid in bribes. I assume every guard in Markarth is on the take. Otherwise, the have nots would snitch on the haves.”
“Would just having the cheap labour in the mines cover the costs?”
“Well, they need corrupt guards to put people into Cidhna mine on false charges. I don’t think the cheap labour costs would be enough to cover the cost of an entire garrison on the take.”
“Apart from labour costs, where else could the Silver-Blood family reduce expenses?”
“The transport of the ore and refined ingots would be a large expense. Hiring guards would be a major part of that expense.”
“How could you reduce the number of guards needed?”
“By minimising the risk. Oh, I see. If there is less chance of Forsworn attacking the transports, then fewer guards are needed.”
“Forsworn do not need gold. They survive without it and do not pursue wealth.”
“If the Silver-Blood family has co-operation from the Forsworn not to interfere with their mines, miners and transport then something other than money is offered.”
“Maybe. If there is some co-operation between the Silver-Blood family and the Forsworn, it might not be illegal, just unpopular with many residents.”
“Normal residents do not buy their ore and ingots. It would be something they do not want the Counts, Jarls and Emperor to know about.”
“And if Blackwell or the Emperor suspected something?”
“They would send somebody like Margret to investigate!”
“Countess Rigmor of Bruma proves once more she is not just the most beautiful Countess in history, but the smartest as well!”
“You prompted me all the way.”
“Yes, but that is just to get you thinking analytically. You will soon be asking yourself the same questions.”
“Any other relevant skills I need to be a good Countess?”
“Being able to slice people in two with your sword is a good one!”
“I can’t do that during a parley.”
“You could accidentally do it during dinner or while dancing!”
“And why would I have a hand and a half sword out at dinner?”
“To carve the roast of course!”
We cuddled and watched the scenery in silence for the rest of the trip to Whiterun.
When we arrived at Whiterun, I asked Rigmor to close her eyes and hold her Amulet of Mara. She did so then exclaimed, “Wow. I know where we have to go! Is that how your compass works?”
“Yes, and Lady Mara has given you something similar for this task. Lead, and your Dragonborn shall follow.”
“Um, people might not attack acolytes of The Divines. To predators, we look like dinner.”
“If an animal looks aggressive, I will use the Kyne’s Peace Shout. That will pacify all animals for quite a distance.”
We held hands as we walked across the grasslands.
We had not gone far when Rigmor stopped and said, “It is hard to believe this was the scene of so much bloodshed only a couple of weeks ago!”
“It took almost a week for them to clear the evidence of the battle.”
“I don’t want to participate in such a thing ever again.”
“Neither do I. I am sure that some who died that day are speaking of it in glowing terms while describing it to others in the Hall of Honour.”
“I wondered how many left wives, husbands and children at home to grieve and wonder what was worth their loved one’s life?”
“Aedriath did. I doubt his wife lived long enough to morn him. Innocent or not, she would have been dealt with harshly by the Thalmor.”
“Maybe it was a political marriage, and she didn’t care what happened to him.”
“He wrote to her with passion. She meant a great deal to him.”
“You never told me how he died.”
“He tried to commit suicide. I prevented that then strangled him. He was staring at my Dovah as he took his last breaths.”
“Did you say anything to him?”
“Look at the beauty before us. Let us enjoy that and not talk about him. I apologise for even mentioning him”
Rigmor squeezed my hand and smiled, and then we continued our walk.
A bit further on we noticed a dragon hunting over the grasslands. The dragon glanced our way, then greeted me and told me his name.
I used my Thu’um to greet him.
I said, “He has spotted me from was over there and introduced himself. His name is Strunmahwuld. I think it means that foes fall quickly to him in battle.”
“Is he a danger?”
“Not at the moment. I expect we will see a few hungry dragons flying over these grasslands looking for prey. But it is too soon after Alduin’s defeat for any to challenge me.”
“Your reputation precedes you?”
“That and they also know Odahviing would come to my aid. They would have to be sure of defeating my Thu’um and one of the most powerful dragons.”
“What is Strunmahwuld hunting?”
“Some poor giant is going to lose some cattle or even a mammoth.”
Next to a derelict farmhouse was one of Kyne’s pillars. Each time I visit one, the power of my Thu’um increases. There is no map of their locations. I will stumble across them in my travels.
As we got close to a fort, I realised it was full of bandits. The Imperial Army was quickly reclaiming all strongholds in Skyrim but had not reached to this one yet. The bandits saw us but did not bother us. Nobody interferes with acolytes of The Divines!
When Strunmahwuld flew closer to us, Rigmor exclaimed, “He is beautiful!”
“Would you like me to tell him that? He might come over and give you a big kiss for massaging his ego.”
“Then he might decide he likes the taste of Nordling and forget about mammoths and cows for lunch.”
“I could say something, but for my safety, I will divert such perverted thoughts. Hey, look, a rabbit!”
“I still don’t like the beard.”
“Oh, is that a butterfly?”
Rigmor laughed the world was good.
Suddenly Rigmor gasped and asked, “Is that a ghost?”
“Think of her as a soul rather than one of those nightmares from a child’s story. She is standing near a memorial to a battle.”
“Dinya said their love binds them to this world.”
“The word was ‘entwined’. Don’t forget your mumbo jumbo!”
“Your wedding tackle will meet thy boot if you continue!”
“Then thou would have to kiss such unfairly abused body parts to make them less aggrieved!”
“Will you please speak to the ghost, I mean soul. She kind of… “
“Makes stools appear from one’s derrière with fright?”
Rigmor stood with her arms crossed and said, “Wulf…”
It is not what Rigmor said but rather the implications of what the missing narrative suggested, and her tapping foot, that made me hastily approach the ‘wandering soul’ as Dinya described her.
The soul seemed to be searching for something as she wandered the ancient battleground. I have done similar enough times to make what she was doing evident to me. She was kneeling, turning over corpses and looking at their faces. I could not see the bodies, but to her, they must have been fresh enough that she would recognise the face she sought.
She turned when she heard us approach.
- Wulf: Excuse me. I am Wulf, and my fellow acolyte is Rigmor. May I ask your name?
- Ruki: I am Ruki. Have you come to help me find him?
- Rigmor: Who are you searching for, Ruki?
- Ruki: My Fenrig. He was marching with Gjukar’s men, who they say were wiped out here. I’ve turned over all the bodies but cannot find him. Please help me look. He has a bright red beard and hair.
I closed my eyes and held onto my amulet of Mara. Fenrig was to the east of the battleground.
- Wulf: We will help you look. Let us move away a bit, so we are not covering the same area.
We walked till Ruki could not hear us then I said to Rigmor, “I am fairly sure that battle was from the time of Tiber Septim.”
“She has been looking for Fenrig since then?”
“It seems so.”
“But he is a fair distance from here. No wonder Ruki has never found him.”
“There are many reasons that could explain why he is not where the rest of the men were killed.”
“I don’t care why he is not where she searches. I just want to reunite them!”
“As do I.”
While we walked towards Fenrig, another dragon swooped and greeted me.
Rigmor exclaimed, “Wow, he is more beautiful than Strunmahwuld!”
“His name is Nahagliiv. It means he burns with withering fire. Alduin resurrected him near Rorikstead.”
We spotted our quarry in the distance with the city of Whiterun in the background.
We walked up to Fenrig.
- Wulf: Excuse me, soldier, is your name Fenrig?
- Fenrig: Yes. Who are you?
- Rigmor: We are acolytes of The Divines. We have come to tell you that Ruki is searching for you.
- Fenrig: My wife? Where is she?
- Rigmor: If you follow us, we will take you to her. She is in the plains to the west.
- Fenrig: We are expected to fight there tomorrow. Gjukar elected to camp here for the night. I don’t like it, though.
- Wulf: I don’t either. This place is not easily defended and is low in a valley. Any campfires will be seen from miles away. A height advantage means enemy archers could fire upon you with little chance of return fire reaching them.
- Fenrig: That is what I said to Gjukar. He reminded me that he is a general and that I am a grunt. We are sitting ducks here!
- Rigmor: Come Fenrig, follow us to Ruki.
- Fenrig: If she’s come this far from home, it must be important. Lead on. I just need to report back to camp by sunrise.
Fenrig could no longer be seen, but when we touched our amulets of Mara, we knew he was close.
When we neared Ruki, she looked up and ran towards us. Fenrig appeared then they quickly hugged each other.
Rigmor and I stood back and watched a reunion of two souls that had been apart for centuries.
- Ruki: Fenrig! You’re alive!
- Fenrig: What made you think I was dead? What brings you here?
- Ruki: I was told that Gjukar’s men were wiped out. I came to find you.
- Fenrig: But that battle isn’t till tomorrow…
The souls started to float upwards.
- Fenrig: Ruki, what’s going on?
- Ruki: I’m so confused. What’s happening?
- Fenrig: It doesn’t matter. We’re together now, and we will be forever.
Rigmor and I hugged as we watched the two souls slowly rise then vanish as they entered Aetherius. We stayed that way for many minutes after they were gone.
We moved to have a close look at the memorial to the battle. There was no plaque or anything else to tell us about when it occurred.
Rigmor asked, “Are you still crying?”
“No, some dirt blew into my eyes.”
“What do you call yourself in your journals?”
“A big blubbering barbarian.”
“Don’t ever change! You are my big blubbering barbarian, and I love you.”
“Come, my beloved, hold my hand as we walk back to Whiterun.”
We made our way to the road and walked in silence.
When we were opposite the watchtower, Rigmor said, “I have been wondering how and when Ruki died.”
“Lost souls stay close to where they died. I would say an arrow killed Fenrig at the place we found him. It was not a wise place to set up a camp. If Gjukar’s men were wiped out the next day, it is logical to assume the enemy won the day.”
“Oh my! If Ruki came looking for Fenrig the next day the enemy may have still been there!”
“They may have killed her or any of the wild beasts in the area. Remember we had some protection from predators but Ruki did not.”
“I would like to know the whole story.”
“You have access to the Imperial Library. One thing that is always documented well, if not always truthfully, are battles. Service records are meticulously maintained as pensions depend on them.”
“Freathof will help me. He knows a lot of the scholars and their areas of expertise.”
“He is one of my advisors. He performed the same duty for the previous Count and family. He acted as tutor to their only child. It is a sad story that I will tell you when I get all the facts. It pains Freathof to talk about them, so I have not pushed the matter. Emperor Mede says it is best I hear the tale from Freathof.”
“Has Malesam made an appearance yet?”
“Cerys is with me. Malesam is supposed to arrive next week. I asked the Emperor if he knows him. He said that Malesam is well respected for his knowledge of Imperial Law and skill as an attorney. He seems to think he will be an excellent advisor.”
“We assumed as much. I doubt the Arch-Mage would pick somebody who isn’t a mage to be your advisor unless he had considerable skills in another field.”
“My concern is they are both ancient!”
“With age comes wisdom.”
“And the idea that young people know little!”
“Well, a lot of what we know is gained through experience. But it does not mean young people can’t make excellent decisions when given facts to work with.”
“Your advice at the border had been my mantra since I arrived in Bruma. I will ask for and consider their advice, but they will do as I say no matter how much they advise against a decision I make. I will not let the tail wag the dog!”
“Jump up and bite them on the ankle if they object!”
“Are you suggesting I am short?”
“Excuse me? Did somebody say something? Where are you?”
Rigmor grabbed my hand again, and we continued once more towards Whiterun.
I pointed towards Silverpeak and told Rigmor, “That is the lodge that Mede gave me.”
“Wow! That place must be worth hundreds of thousands!”
“It is an amazing place. It has three spas!”
“It has beds for over forty people, including a large bedroom for children. In the basement, we have found dozens of rare weapons and sets of armour. They alone would be worth over one hundred thousand.”
“And embezzled money paid for it all?”
“Some of it, and that is what puzzles me. The man who had it built was already very wealthy. The East Empire Trading Company paid a good wage, and he got a percentage of profits from the trading routes he managed. He already owned a large mansion, has a wife that loves him and six young children. Yet he lost it all to greed.”
“What about his family?”
“The Emperor did not leave his family destitute. They will not live in the type of luxury they were used to, but the mother will never have to work. I asked Jarl Balgruuf to enquire me. I would have invited them to live at Silverpeak if they had not been looked after.”
“Good. I hate it when families pay for the sins of others.”
“I might find some orphans who need a home. It seems a waste to have all the facilities for children and not use them.”
“Would you adopt them?”
“No. I would apply to be their wards. That way, others can adopt them. I am going to do that for Olette as well.”
“You may find that our Emperor has other gifts for you. As I said, he is enthusiastic about your idea for a large orphanage and school. You saved everybody from Alduin, and he knows you will not take the accolades such a feat deserves. He does know you will accept gifts that aid others.”
“It seems that the Countess of Bruma and Emperor Titus Mede II gossip about me like the town nosey parkers.”
“What is a nosey parker?”
“It is another name for a sticky beak.”
“What is a sticky beak?”
“Somebody who pries into other people’s business.”
“But your business is my business, my silly Dragonborn. One soul. One love. One destiny. Remember?”
“Well, I am not going to refuse any help that makes the orphanage and school a reality.”
We hired the carriage to Riften and Rigmor fell asleep with her head on my lap as is her habit. Perhaps if she spent more time in bed sleeping than engaging in other activities, she could stay awake.
Nah, that is a silly idea!
We made our way to Mara’s Temple.
Dinya invoked Mara’s blessing as she spoke.
- Dinya: My children. Their families and friends have welcomed Ruki and Fenrig into Aetherius. Your efforts have helped illuminate the entire province. I trust you have achieved a higher comprehension of love?
- Wulf: I have.
- Rigmor: I have.
- Dinya: Then carry this blessing of Mara with you, so the rest of the province may shine in her glories.
Both Rigmor and I were enveloped in light. When the light faded, we were both more resistant to spells, and the blessing was permanent.
- Wulf: Does the temple need any more assistance?
- Dinya: Riften is drowning in a sea of sin and wickedness, and it’s my personal mission to let everyone know that the warmth of Mara can see them through.
- Rigmor: How can we help with your mission?
- Dinya: I need messengers to bring Her words to these poor souls by distributing these missives.
- Wulf: They will be distributed. I can’t guarantee how quickly, though!
- Dinya: A word of advice, keep away from the Keep and Riften Guards. They follow their own path and have already forsaken Her.
- Wulf: I will enjoy returning them to Her. I can be very persuasive.
- Dinya: No killing!
- Wulf: Broken bones?
- Dinya: No!
- Wulf: Black eyes? Teeth knocked out?
- Dinya: No, and no!
- Wulf: Can I call them names? Poke my tongue out? Maybe blow raspberries?
- Dinya: Only if necessary.
Dinya handed us twenty missives that read,
For Mara’s Light Shines Upon YOU!
Mara’s Benevolence is everlasting and Her Warmth widespread throughout the world. Shut your eyes, lift your head to the heavens and bask in the glow that shapes our destiny!
Lady Mara will embrace any regardless of their past. Cast away your misdeeds and freshen your spirit! Give unto Her all the compassion that you would give unto your birthmother and learn that She will never leave you, never cast you aside and never forsake you!
Donations are being accepted at the Temple of Mara in Riften.”
Maramal came up to us and said, “We have not been told by The Divines, but Baa’Ren-Dar was told by Azura’s seer that you would be rescuing the people of Nirn many times. All of the priests and priestesses of The Divines throughout Skyrim can be trusted to help. I am sure the Countess will vouch for those in Cyrodiil. Do not hesitate to call upon them when help is needed.”
“I have no doubt I will not only be asking for help, but The Divines themselves will have further tasks for Rigmor and me. Although I like to be anonymous for some things, at other times, I will be shouting the praise of those who gave up so much to create all that we see. I am Champion of The Divines, and those who have strayed from the Ten Commandments will have much to ponder as others embrace them with renewed enthusiasm.”
Maramal bowed. Rigmor and I left for Honeyside holding hands once more.
We wasted no time dressing for our tasks. Rigmor was back in her finery, and I wore my armour and weapons.
I held Rigmor’s hands, and she stood on tiptoes to look into my eyes.
I said, “I will head for Silverpeak straight away, pick up my companions then head for Markarth.”
“I will get back in time to make an appearance at one of the balls. I have no doubt I will have to dance with some young noble milk-drinkers who will bore me with their boasting and laughable attempts at wooing.”
“Don’t be too harsh on them. Why not give the gossips something to talk about other than fashion?”
“I am not going to play with people’s emotions!”
“I would not suggest that! Be clumsy and stomp on toes when dancing. Spill a few drinks, talk with your mouth full and laugh like a donkey. Use a few innuendoes to make them blush. Make sure everybody remembers the night Countess Rigmor either blessed them or cursed them with her presence.”
“It would be so much fun to do that with you there!”
“You have to be careful; otherwise, you might become a social pariah. That would be guaranteed with me there!”
“I will be invited to everything, and they will place bets on whether I will be a curse or a blessing!”
“No long or sad goodbyes as we will see each other again soon. Oh, I forgot to ask, where is your safe place?”
“My bedroom in our old house in Bruma. Nobody else uses the house but me.”
“I kissed Rigmor on the hand. She then willed herself to her room in the guest wing of the Imperial Palace.”
Our peace vanished with my beloved. But I knew she was well via the rings.
I quickly made my way to the stables, paid for Hashire’s agistment then rode swiftly to Silverpeak.
I had no encounters but was more than a little surprised to find Odahviing waiting for me at Silverpeak.
He greeted me, “Dovahkiin, I thought you would like to know that the Old One and I had a long tinvaak.”
“I don’t think it is possible to have a short tinvaak with Paarthurnax.”
“Hin tinvaak fin vahzen, you speak true.”
“And there is something you need to tell me.”
“I lacked mindoraan… understanding… of what you said when I offered you my aid when called upon. So, I asked the Old One as he has had more dealings with joor… mortals. He explained you would call upon a fahdon… an ally or friend… but not one who only obeys because you are stronger.”
“All of my mortal companions fight with me, not for me. We are friends and allies, not general and soldiers.”
“Paarthurnax thinks you may be the bridge between the two that divide you. The bridge between Dov and Joor. We are few and cannot go back to our old ways, and most of us do not desire to do so. When the blue kaaz called me a beast, you objected. You have shown nothing but respect for Dov. Dovahkiin, I would like to be your fahdon… your friend, and fight together as equals.”
“Then I would be honoured to call upon you when I need your help.”
“Was that your mon who attacked my snout with two mal tuz?”
“Olette attacked you with a pair of daggers?”
“I tapped on the miraad… door as I thought to ask if you were in this hofkiin… this home.”
“That was polite of you, but joor do not expect to see Dov when they open the door.”
“A siigonis open the miraad then emitted a loud zaan before slamming it shut.”
“Oh, poor Wujeeta. She has never met a dragon before. Forgive her for being frightened.”
“Then a small joor opened the door and nos… attacked me with the mal tuz. When I explained I wanted to talk to the Dovahkiin, she finally stopped trying to kill me and said you were not here. Then she slammed the door.”
“Olette is not my mon… my daughter. She is a kiir… a child who needed my help.”
“She is krill and fel… brave and ferocious.”
“That she is. May I call upon you if I need to fly the skies of Keizaal again?”
“Yes, but you need to learn how to ride properly.”
“That is hard without practice.”
“Then climb aboard, and we shall learn together.”
I laughed, mounted Odahviing then held tight as his mighty wings carried us skyward. He taught me how to use my knees to turn him and change our height. He assured me I would soon no longer grip tightly with my hands.
After an hour of sharp turns, climbing and diving, I was far more confident and would have stayed aloft for hours, but I had things to do. Odahviing landed outside Silverpeak then flew around it several times before flying away.
Having a dragon accept me as a friend is the first step in my ambition to have Dov made citizens of The Empire.
I entered Silverpeak. Lydia and Olette were still up. It was late, and both of them should have been in bed as well.
Olette came running up and said, “We went to Whiterun, and some bard was standing on a corner singing a new song about some hero type called a Dragonborn. I thought it was silly that a man had a dragon for a mum or dad. I know how babies are made, and I couldn’t see how that would work. Ouch or yuck are the two words I thought of. Anyway, I got the news-shits to help practice my reading, and there was a story about this Dragonborn killing that Ulfric idiot and a story about him killing some dragon big enough to swallow the whole world. Then I got told that Dragonborn is you, Captain.”
“You have been practising your diction. Well done!”
“You have been practising speaking proper like.”
“Yeah because when I told people that I am going to go to the Bards College, they said I need to speak like a lady and not a guttersnipe. I got in trouble for swearing properly, and that isn’t fair.”
“I am glad you have been practising your reading as well, but they are called news-sheets, not news-shits.”
“Oh. Nobody else told me that but just laughed. We never read them in the warrens. We just used them to wipe our…”
“I get the idea, Olette.”
“Captain, which one was your mum and which one was your dad?”
“I don’t know who my parents are, but neither of them was a dragon. Dragonborn means Lord Akatosh has gifted me Dragonblood and a dragon’s soul. I am a mortal with bits of a dragon in me.”
“There was none of that fornication between a dragon and a person?”
“No, and where did you learn that word?”
“Wujeeta said it was much more polite than fucking. I told her no pervert asked me how much to fornicate.”
“You thought I was one of those perverts at first.”
“There used to be lots of them till I held my cold steel dagger against some of their man bits then they all left me alone.”
“Well, you do not have to worry about those perverts ever again.”
“I know the dragon was not big enough to swallow the world. Lydia told me about how you went to Sovngarde, where all the dead people are, to fight Alduin. Where is the blue Khajiit? Lydia said he was with you as well.”
“He is visiting another friend. When did Lydia get back?”
“Yesterday. She said she had been at one of your other houses because she was sad. Then she said she came here because being sad alone is not good and that friends can help. I know that. When I have cried over my mother, everybody has taken turns to cuddle me or make me laugh, including the dogs.”
“Odahviing told me how brave you were and hit him on his snout with some daggers.”
“Both of them bent, and I was wondering what to do when he told me he was your friend.”
‘Did you do that to protect Wujeeta?”
“I did it to protect my friends and my home.”
“It is way past your bedtime Olette. I am so pleased to see you, but I will be gone again when you get up. Goodnight.”
Olette ran off to bed with two four-legged friends trotting behind her.
I walked over to Lydia and asked, “How are you doing?”
“Much better than if I had not seen Bjorn. I have some closure and can now slowly move on as he asked me to.”
“Rigmor said that is what Bjorn would want.”
“I will enjoy being with friends and let the future take care of itself. I have no doubt you will drag us along on more ridiculously dangerous adventures.”
“Did you calm everybody down about Odahviing?”
“Yes, I recognised him when he spoke to Olette. Since when do dragons knock on front doors instead of smashing through them?”
“Since they wish to be friends.”
“I am sure you two will be the best of friends, but you can’t take him into a tavern.”
“I wonder if Dov can get drunk?”
“Did you meet with Rigmor?”
“Yes, and I will tell you about it on the way to Markarth. We are going there to stick our nose in other people’s business.”
“I had better get some sleep then! Somebody has sent you yet another set of armour. It is on top of the workbench. It arrived with a squad of Penitus Oculatus guarding it, so I assume it is valuable and from our Emperor. There was also a sealed envelope with what feels like a small book inside. Goodnight.”
I walked to the workbench, and the armour was made by the same blacksmith who did the Guardian General outfit. If I wanted people to know it was The Dragonborn in their presence, the armour would undoubtedly do that. It was perfect for my visit to Markarth, so I placed my usual dweomer on it.
I shaved my beard and scalp then put the armour on. Apart from my eyes, nothing hinted I was the acolyte of The Divines that has been wandering around Skyrim for the last few days.
I opened the envelope and inside was an Imperial Mail Bankbook with half a million septims deposited. The bankbook belonged to General Valdr.
As well as the bankbook, the envelope contained my enlistment papers. General Valdr had no other names, which is a common thing amongst those who follow Nedic tradition.
I chose Wulf when asked for my name in Helgen. Valdr is an ancient Nord word for wolf. The Dragonborn has not been given a name before in any official documentation. Now he has, and it seems the Emperor has put some thought into it.
I will have to create more identities for when I wish to hide who I am.
I have been studying the Magicka behind Hashire’s ability to transform not only his body but the armour and saddle he has equipped. He summons the nonorganic pieces from some storage in a pocket plane. That would come in handy if I had a pocket plane of my own. The ability to transform his body I can adapt to transform myself. I worked on that for several hours before waking my team and summoning Inigo.
As we sat eating breakfast, I explained why I could not just cross the border and visit Rigmor. How we were meeting via help from The Divines and that her identity must be kept secret. I trusted these people, and they all understood the level of that trust.
I also told them of the Lady Mara given tasks Rigmor and I did and why we are visiting Markarth.
Everybody liked the name General Valdr!
After an hour of bathing and eating, we were ready to go.
When wearing my new armour and riding Hashire the unicorn, I was doing the opposite of hiding my identity.
Believe, believe, The Dragonborn comes.