Skyrim quests: Dragonborn, First Edition, Clean Sweep, An Axe to Grind, Served Cold.
Skyrim mods: Rigmor of Bruma.
After an excellent breakfast, we left the Retching Netch and made our way to Crescius and Aphia’s house.
It was about 8:15 AM when Rigmor knocked on their door.
Crescius invited us inside then sat to hear the news. Aphia stood nearby
- Wulf: It is good you went no further into the mine. You would not have survived!
- Aphia: I told you, Crescius!
- Crescius: Please, tell me what you found.
- Wulf: Here is Gratian’s journal.
I handed the journal to Crescius. He read it then gave it to Aphia. She read it then handed it back to her husband.
- Crescius: Ha, I knew it! Gratian’s death wasn’t because of a rockfall. That was just a story to keep people away from the tomb.
- Wulf: Draugr killed Gratian, but they were not the real danger. The East Empire Company would not have abandoned the mine just for that.
- Rigmor: We don’t think they even ventured in far enough to find Gratian’s body.
- Aphia: There was something worse than Draugr down there?
- Wulf: The tomb the miners stumbled upon was that of Zahkriisos, a Dragon Priest. He was not pleased to see us.
- Crescius: I am not aware of who or what that is?
- Wulf: The Dragon Priests were the most powerful mortals working for the Dov before and during the Dragon War. They are now undead with incredible power. I believe the East Empire Company were warned that is what inhabited the mine and tomb.
- Aphia: You don’t think they even saw what happened to Gratian?
- Rigmor: They would not have left his body or journal there if they had ventured that far.
- Crescius: Now that I have his journal in hand, I can get some closure from the East Empire Company. Make them pay for lying to everyone.
- Wulf: You would be wasting your time. They will argue they did Solstheim a service by preventing the unearthing of such evil.
- Aphia: Crescius, they did not announce what was down there for fear of tomb robbers trying their luck.
- Wulf: News of an unopened Dragon Priest crypt would have spread like wildfire. Some fool would have unleashed Zahkriisos to the detriment of Raven Rock. He is no longer a danger, and the mine can be reopened.
- Rigmor: The mine is rich in ore. The East Empire Company abandoned it, but even if they did not, the entirety of Solstheim was handed to the people of Morrowind. Whatever you mine from there belongs to Solstheim. All profits belong to Solstheim.
- Aphia: The Councillor will be pleased!
- Crescius: I believe I owe you a little more than a debt of gratitude for all that work you did.
- Rigmor: You believe wrong. We are not mercenaries and will not accept payment.
- Wulf: Aphia, you are wearing the temple garb of Azura.
- Aphia: Yes, I used to be a temple priest.
- Crescius: That is how we met.
- Aphia: Crescius is a third-generation miner. All his life, he’s lived and breathed nothing else. By the time Crescius came of age, the ebony mine in Raven Rock was shut down. He took that quite hard.
- Crescius: This house has been in my family for over two hundred years. Leaving would have been like abandoning precious memories. Instead, I stayed on Solstheim and spent most of my life prospecting for a new ebony source. Sadly, it never surfaced. A decade ago, this drove me into a deep depression. I shut myself inside this house and refused to come out.
- Aphia: After Crescius refused to accept donated food, Councillor Morvayn ordered the front door to be knocked down before he starved to death. I was a temple priest and also adept at healing. They had me use my healing arts to restore strength to Crescius’ ailing body. I stayed for a while and cared for him, then… I suppose we fell in love.
- Rigmor: Somebody brought me back from the brink of death and is now my beloved. I can understand such a strong bond forming.
- Aphia: Countess, I wonder who that might be?
- Rigmor: You know?
- Wulf: Sounds like Lady Azura has been blabbing.
- Aphia: I have never received a vision from her before and am not a seer. Azura instructed me to tell the Councillor but nobody else. I was not told why.
- Wulf: The reason being is it would put everybody on Nirn in danger. People know Countess Rigmor has come to Solstheim. They do not know I have accompanied her.
- Aphia: Have no fear for we are all devout followers of The Tribunal and would not disobey Azura.
- Crescius: Ahem, I am a devout follower of The Nine. I would not betray The Dragonborn.
- Rigmor: General Valdr is not only the Champion of The Divines but also Azura’s Champion.
- Wulf: I am also Boethia’s Champion and Meridia’s as well. Azura calls Rigmor her daughter. Not physically of course but in the metaphysical sense.
- Rigmor: Azura helped us in our fight against a great evil. Essentially, we saved the people of Nirn from being killed by another Daedric Prince.
- Wulf: Lady Azura brought me back from the brink of death.
- Inigo: As Khajiit, I see no problems worshipping both forms of god.
- Aphia: That is one of the few things Elder Othreloth and I agree about. Complete freedom of religion is needed. Others in the temple strongly disagreed.
- Wulf: You are no longer a priest in the Raven Rock temple?
- Aphia: No. Elder Othreloth and I disagree about the current status of The Tribunal. I’d prefer not to go into details.
- Wulf: I can imagine he would not be impressed about any claim of seer ability?
- Aphia: No, he would not.
- Wulf: Not to worry. All religions have rifts when it comes to dogma.
- Aphia: That is true.
- Rigmor: I hope the Councillor does not get upset at our subterfuge!
- Aphia: No, he will understand there are reasons you can’t discuss.
- Crescius: If you are the Countess of Bruma, and we have just discovered the mine is full of ebony?
- Rigmor: Yes, I may be interested in purchasing ebony ore and not via the East Empire Company, although I may use them for shipping.
- Wulf: Lady Azura is looking after her followers just as she did when she warned about the imminent eruption of Red Mountain.
- Aphia: Me telling the Councillor who you are will make trade negotiations possible.
- Rigmor: Yes. It also saves us having to figure out a way of turning me from this dust-covered warrior into a Cyrodiil noble.
- Aphia: I now understand the reason for my first ever direct contact by Azura.
- Wulf: Well, we had better get going. We have quite a trip to make to deal with Miraak. I am sure both of you will give the Councillor the excellent news about the mine.
- Aphia: Yes, and Crescius will be humble when doing so and not boast that he was right all along.
- Lydia: I think he has earned the right to boast.
- Crescius: And boast I will!
When we exited Crescius’ house, Captain Veleth ran over to us.
“I’m sorry to bother you, General Valdr, but Second Councillor Arano asked me to find you. He said it is quite urgent.”
“Do you have any idea what it is about?”
“I believe it is more important than anything else you may be thinking of doing right now. But you should speak to him about it.”
“Thank you, Captain. We shall seek him out immediately.”
As we were walking past the blacksmiths anyway, I decide to return the Ancient Nordic Pickaxe.
I held it out for Glover who was hammering away at his anvil.
“So, you finally tracked down old Crescius, eh? Quite a character isn’t he. Tell you what. Since you went through all that trouble of finding it for me, you keep it.”
Rigmor asked, “If you value it so little, why did you ask us to recover it?”
“I wanted to remind that codger you can’t just go around taking things from other people. Now that you’ve delivered the message, I’m satisfied. Besides, that pickaxe hasn’t done me any good in years. Maybe you can put it to good use.”
I said, “It is too valuable a thing for a hard-working blacksmith to hand over. How about we barter for it. Here is my first and final offer. I advise that you take it!”
I handed Glover six decent-sized lumps of Stalhrim ore. Glover’s eyes went wide.
“But they are worth…”
“Just the right amount!”
We both knew the ore was far more valuable than the pickaxe. Glover asked, “Why so generous?”
“Well, you can’t smith it so will have to do a deal with the Skaal. I am sure, via your friends in the Thieves Guild, you can provide suitable barter for the smithing. I think they were desperate for certain items forcing them to trade the pickaxe to you in the first place.”
“You recognised the shadowmark?”
“Yes. And although I have yet to meet the Skaal, I can imagine their life on Solstheim is harsh. I expect that the profit you would make from Stalhrim armour ensures a fair deal is made?”
“You are looking out for people you are yet to meet. In good faith, I could not do anything but a fair deal for them.”
“Thank you, Glover.”
Yesterday I noticed an Orsimer and his guard were threatening several citizens. From the conversations that I overheard, I gathered he was lending money at exorbitant interest rates. Legal, but not moral.
He saw me approaching and decided to act tough.
He said, “If you’re dealing with me, there’s only one thing to remember. Pay your debts or end up hurt.”
“Oh, I am terrified! What is your name?”
“Listen carefully, Mogrul. Threaten me with violence ever again, and I shall pull your tusks out and shove them right up your arse!”
Mogrul beat a hasty retreat as many in the marketplace laughed with genuine humour at his discomfort.
We headed to the west of Raven Rock, where we found Adril waiting for us.
- Adril: Thank you for coming.
- Wulf: How can we help you, Second Councillor?
- Adril: After everything you’ve already done for Raven Rock, I hate to ask for more, but I can’t risk Councillor Morvayn being killed.
- Wulf: What or who threatens the Councillor?
- Adril: The Ulen Family of House Hlaalu, a rival Great House, has placed a deathmark on the Councillor’s head.
- Wulf: It will make us enemies of the Morag Tong if we intervene in your politics.
- Adril: You would stand back and see the Councillor killed?
- Rigmor: General Valdr did not say that. He is merely stating the cost to us of intervention.
- Wulf: I am not interested in the politics of Morrowind. I am not interested in your opinion of House Hlaalu. I want to know why they are targeting the Councillor.
- Adril: It’s a private matter. Let’s just say they seek revenge for the execution of one of their own… ordered by Councillor Morvayn himself. The problem is I don’t have any solid proof that anyone from House Hlaalu is hidden among us… only my suspicions.
- Wulf: Grey Writs from the Morag Tong would endanger not just us but also our friends and family. I will investigate for you, but asking me to take the risk while keeping secrets is not an equitable trade. If I am not told what this ‘private matter’ is, I will stop at some point and walk away.
- Adril: I’ve received some information from my sources that there could be elements of Ulen’s house, House Hlaalu, already in Raven Rock.
- Jordis: I suppose it is too hard for you to take action if Hlaalu agents live amongst the population?
- Adril: That is correct. Raven Rock is a small settlement, so it’s hard to accomplish anything in secret. If any of its citizens are from House Hlaalu, I wouldn’t be able to make a move without them knowing.
- Wulf: We have secrets of our own to protect, and I do not want the Morag Tong sticking their noses into our business. Therefore, I will investigate this alone. Where do I start?
- Adril: I need you to start by being my eyes and ears… search Raven Rock and see if you can root out these traitors. The best place to start would be Geldis Sadri over at the Retching Netch Cornerclub. If he provides you with any leads, check them out before bringing them to my attention. I can’t afford to make any mistakes.
- Rigmor: You mentioned your ‘sources’?
- Adril: I maintain a few contacts in other Dunmer settlements across Tamriel. Most hail from House Redoran, but there are a few from other houses.
- Rigmor: Why don’t you ask them to investigate?
- Adril: Most of my contacts live leagues away from Solstheim. Sending the occasional message back and forth is all we can manage, and sometimes takes months or more to arrive. However, any information we can glean in times like this, I consider vital for House Redoran’s survival.
- Wulf: I will talk to Geldis and act on what he can tell me. The others will wait for me in the Retching Netch.
We left Adril and started walking towards the inn.
I said to my companions, “If the danger is real and the enemy many, then I will ask you all to help. However, I would prefer it if I was the only one who became a target for the Morag Tong.”
Inigo replied, “We must kill all the conspirators and assassins if we do get involved. That is the only way to prevent both legal and Grey Writs.”
“I am the only one whose name is known by the general populace. Hopefully, that means I would be the Morag Tong’s sole target for revenge.”
“My friend, they would have to queue up with the others who dislike you for various reasons!”
“It is a burden being this popular.”
We entered the Retching Netch then walked up to Geldis.
- Geldis: Ah, my regulars. Rooms again for tonight?
- Wulf: No, thanks, not at the moment. I am busy doing spy work for the Second Councillor.
- Geldis: Well, well. Adril’s got himself some spies, does he? Azura knows he needs all the help he can get. He’s been chasing the Ulens for years now.
- Wulf: There is only one spy. I see no need for everybody else to end up on the Morag Tong’s revenge list.
- Geldis: Tread carefully if they are involved!
- Rigmor: General Valdr single handily wiped out the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim!
- Geldis: Well, you certainly know how to make friends!
- Wulf: If somebody thinks they are more challenging than Alduin and others I have faced then let them suffer the consequences.
- Geldis: I don’t think that would be pleasant.
- Rigmor: You have no idea what a Dragonborn is capable of when pissed off.
- Geldis: If you want to catch those slippery Slaughterfish, you need to let them come to you.
- Wulf: I’m listening.
- Geldis: There’s a Ulen Ancestral Tomb near the Temple. Someone’s been leaving ash yam offerings on the altar inside. If you were to wait inside for whoever that is, I’m betting they’ll have some of the answers you’re seeking.
- Wulf: I can get inside without being seen. Adril and the Redoran Guard could not.
- Geldis: Any time Adril and the Redoran Guard made a move, the Ulens must have been one step ahead and didn’t show up.
- Inigo: Snitches everywhere. They would sell their mother for a few coins.
- Rigmor: Why do Dunmer leave ash yams in their tombs?
- Geldis: When a Dunmer is laid to rest, the body is burned and returned to the ashen soil. Since the ash yam is born of the very same soil, it represents rebirth and renewal… the fact that life ends and begins anew.
- Wulf: I did not push Adril too hard, him being paranoid as you would know. I assume this is revenge for the execution of Vilur Ulen?
- Geldis: You know of that?
- Rigmor: General Valdr remembers everything he reads, amongst other annoying habits. But the rest of us are ignorant so can you please explain it to us.
- Geldis: Back in 95, Vilur Ulen came to Raven Rock with a plan to take over our town. The fetcher thought he could stir up the locals and use them against the Redoran Guard and then murder Councillor Morvayn when we weren’t looking.
- Rigmor: This is revenge for something that happened one hundred and six years ago?
- Geldis: That is not long for a Dunmer. Think about something that happened to your family twenty-five years ago if you want to put it in perspective as a Nord.
- Rigmor: Of course! Sometimes it is easy to forget the different life spans of the people on Nirn.
- Geldis: It is not always a blessing. Imagine a corrupt leader who refuses to die for centuries!
- Rigmor: Lucky you have the Morag Tong then!
- Geldis: I sense a bit of sarcasm.
- Rigmor: DUH!
- Wulf: The histories are conflicting. Did Vilur have many allies or none?
- Geldis: He arrived alone, but spread enough coin around to start changing people’s minds. Half the bloody town joined his side. Can you believe that?
- Wulf: Yes, I can. Cheap loyalty is one of the endearing traits of mortals.
- Rigmor: How did they catch Vilur?
- Geldis: He underestimated the Redoran Guard. They were organised and brought a swift end to the coup. Vilur tried to run, but Captain Veleth himself caught him. Vilur Ulen was executed a short time later and his remains placed in the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.
- Wulf: OK, I will head for the tomb. My friends will wait here and drink the place dry.
- Geldis: An excellent idea!
I turned to leave. Rigmor ordered, “You will not tackle the Morag Tong by yourself if it comes to that!”
“I promise milady that I will not disobey that sensible command.”
“You took on the Dark Brotherhood by yourself!”
“A lapse in concentration maybe?”
“Yeah, right. Pfft!”
As the others settled down for some pre-lunch libations, I exited the inn and made myself invisible before heading for the Ulen Tomb.
I had every intention of hiding somewhere inside but didn’t have to. Somebody was already muttering a prayer over one of the ash pits.
I made myself visible then coughed as I walked to where she stood.
The woman jumped with fright then turned to face me. She said, “Oh, excuse me, General Valdr! I didn’t expect to meet anyone else here.”
“I am sorry I startled you. I am here to make an offering to the departed.”
“I wouldn’t expect that sort of behaviour from someone who isn’t a Dunmer.”
“My family traded with the Ulen family for decades before the unfortunate set of events that made them unfair targets of the other Great Houses. We regarded them as friends as well as trusted trading partners. I was unaware there were Ulens still living in Raven Rock?”
“Oh, I am Tilisu Severin. There aren’t any Ulens left on this island, so I’ve taken it upon myself to leave the traditional offering in their stead.”
“I will leave you to your offering and meditation. I will return later to do mine. Azura bless you, Tilisu Severin.”
“Blessings to you, General Valdr.”
I left the tomb and started looking for Adril. As I walked past the Councillor’s residence, the door guard said, “Excuse me General Valdr, the Second Councillor is meeting with Councillor Morvayn. He asked me to direct you inside if you wish to talk to him.”
The guard opened the door, and I entered.
A woman approached then said, “General Valdr, I know this seems trivial, but could you do me a favour, when you have time that is?”
“Certainly, but your name would be nice to know.”
“Forgive me. I am so used to everybody knowing everybody else in Raven Rock. I am Cindiri Arano.”
“Are you Adril’s much younger sister?”
“Flatterer! Or perhaps your eyesight is defective? I am his wife.”
“Pleased to meet you, Cindiri. What do you need help with?”
“A few months ago, I sent an important folio to the First Edition Bookshop in the Imperial City to be rebound. They sent it back to me recently, but it never arrived.”
“Would that be a limited-edition portfolio of The Lusty Argonian Maid?”
“You found it?”
“Yes, there was a large group of bandits occupying a shipwreck east of Raven Rock. I found it amongst their stolen booty.”
I handed Cindiri the book, and she smiled at its sight.
“Mephala bless you for finding it!”
“I am here to see Adril.”
“Adril Arano, The Second Councillor of Raven Rock. How I hate that title… damn fool’s going to get himself killed over it someday. He’s in grave danger, and yet he continues to place himself in harm’s way.”
“I understand your concern, but we can’t let political rivals stop good people from doing what is right.”
“When I fall asleep at night, all I can do is hope he’ll still be there when I awaken. This island was never meant for us. There’s too much death here.”
“Would Morrowind be any safer?”
“I don’t know, but I assure you, if I could convince Adril to return, I’d be on the next ship back to Blacklight. Unfortunately, Adril and Councillor Morvayn are very close friends. They will never abandon one another no matter my feelings.”
“I often go into danger far away from my partner and friends for extended periods. I can assure you, like me, Adril knows the worry you suffer and would wish it could be otherwise. But what keeps people like us going is knowing we are not just protecting those we guard but also those we love and who are worrying about us.”
“Yes, I understand that. As the wife of a Second Councillor, certain things are expected of me. The most important thing is that I stand by Adril, no matter how I feel. And I intend to do that until we get off this miserable island!”
“Nobody can tell you not to worry and not to wish things were otherwise. Cherish and nurture the love you share. It is more powerful than anything else on Nirn. All the rest will fall into place.”
“You should be a priest!”
“I do the work of my gods and yours. I am the Champion of Azura, and like Lady Mara, she has shown me the value of compassion and love.”
“You are Azura’s Champion? A Nord?”
“I am not a Nord, nor am I Imperial as far as I know. I respect all gods, including the Daedric Princes, even those not of The Tribunal.”
“I know little of Dragonborn, but I thought a single-minded devotion to The Nine would be expected of you?”
“The Divines do not demand the rejection of all other gods. House Hlaalu found themselves in strife when they tried to introduce religious freedom into Morrowind. The biggest statue of Azura I have ever seen is in Skyrim. Unfortunately, when Morrowind rejected The Empire, they persecuted followers of The Nine. I am yet to see any evidence of The Divines in this land. That is disturbing when not long ago, this was home to citizens of The Empire. An imperial General founded Raven Rock, but you would not know that as all evidence of his religion has been removed.”
“Adril would agree with you on religious freedom. It would be a hard sell to most Dunmer.”
“Many Dunmer lived through the abandonment by The Empire during the Oblivion Crises and the Great War. The Divines are regarded as inherently Imperial.”
“You have a better understanding of these things than most.”
“I have detected the hard feelings towards The Empire as I have walked through Raven Rock. I could be petty and point out it was The Empire who gave you this place to live and allowed your people to migrate to Tamriel in large numbers. But I understand and accept. I am not a Nord who beats his chest every time somebody criticises his homeland. I put myself in danger for all mortals, even those who actively try to kill me! Gods who wish mortals to exist and remain freed aid me. That includes Azura and Boethia.”
“Yes, I am her champion as well. Not as pleasant as meeting Azura but better than others.”
“You have met with gods?”
“Some as friends, some as allies, some as enemies. I expect that will continue as long as I am alive.”
“Adril has finished talking with Councillor Morvayn. He notices little else when engrossed in such conversations. He has finally noticed you, and I think he is eager to speak by the pleading look in his eyes.”
“Ah, the mind-reading powers of a wife. I have been warned of such a thing.”
“Haha. More like the lip-reading skills of a wife. He had been silently saying, ‘Please Cindiri!’ for the last minute or so.”
“It has been a pleasure talking to you. Enjoy your book!”
Cindiri blushed as I walked over to her husband. Before I could speak to Adril, Councillor Morvayn interjected.
- Morvayn: Excuse me, General Valdr, can I have a word.
- Wulf: Of course, Councillor.
- Morvayn: Please join us Adril.
Adril stood then moved to my right.
- Adril: Is this to do with Crescius’ news and Aphia’s, ah, vision?
- Morvayn: Yes, but I also sense you have concerns not yet shared with me.
- Adril: I am not sure of my suspicions, Councillor.
- Morvayn: If my life is in danger, I can better protect myself by knowing about it!
- Wulf: It is always a balancing act, Councillor. If you start behaving differently, it may alarm an enemy and make them go quiet for an extended period.
- Adril: And why worry you if I am just paranoid?
- Morvayn: What do you think is happening?
- Adril: Sources tell me the Ulen Family has placed a deathmark on you.
- Morvayn: Revenge for Vilur? It took them long enough.
- Wulf: I assume it would neither be cheap to hire the Morag Tong plus politically sensitive.
- Adril: Yes, both. Did Geldis prove useful?
- Wulf: He suggested I hide out in the Ulen Tomb and see if anybody visited. I thought I might have to hide for several hours so was pleasantly surprised to find Tilisu Severin deep in prayer over Vilur’s ashes.
- Adril: Tilisu? Are you sure?
- Wulf: My life depends on my ability to obtain information. So yes, I am sure. I had a good conversation with her.
- Adril: What? You have made her suspicious. They will go quiet now!
- Morvayn: Adril, you are speaking to Azura’s Champion. Do you think she would choose somebody incompetent?
- Wulf: It is OK, Councillor. Adril does not know me and neither of you know what, apart from defeating Alduin, I have been doing to keep the mortals of Nirn safe. Neither of you is aware of what skills I possess. I told Tilisu that my family were involved in trade with the Hlaalu before their fall from grace. I told her I was there to give my respects to a family friend. She had no reason to be suspicious, but I think she was.
- Adril: If Tilisu’s involved in any sort of plot to harm Councillor Morvayn, we are going to need hard evidence to prove it.
- Wulf: You seemed incredulous that Tilisu might be of House Hlaalu. Why is that?
- Morvayn: Tilisu is the wife of the family patriarch, Vendil. They have a single child, a daughter named Mirri. They arrived here ten years ago, and have been nothing but a benefit to Raven Rock ever since.
- Adril: They’re quite wealthy, and they’ve been quite generous by sharing their fortune with the community. They’ve contributed coin, food, supplies and even helped repair a few of the buildings in town with their own hands.
- Wulf: Wasn’t Vilur a model citizen at first? Didn’t he manage to turn almost half the population against Councillor Morvayn?
- Adril: It almost worked then, so why not try it now?
- Wulf: Exactly. Can you imagine the hate that allows mortal enemies to wait ten years or more for their revenge?
- Morvayn: Do you think they have turned anybody against me? Even after one hundred and six years, I distrust many who accepted Vilur’s money.
- Adril: I don’t think so.
- Wulf: Whatever is the depth of the plot, you risk alienating citizens who believe the Severin family to be kind and honest. Some undeniable proof of the plot is required, and I am happy to find it for you. But I am mortal, and I have, to be quite frank, more than the life of the Councillor to consider. I will do what is needed to defend myself for the sake of Nirn.
- Morvayn: You have the approval of gods, who are we to question your motives?
- Adril: You are willing to do this even though the Morag Tong will more than likely find out your involvement?
- Wulf: My personal view on the politics of your Great Houses is irrelevant. I am concerned that mortal life is in danger in the form of paid assassins. Legal or not in Solstheim, that is morally corrupt to me. Pretending to be a friend of the people simply to enable such an assassination is equally as disgusting to me. I have no choice but to help. It is who I am and not forced on me by any god.
- Morvayn: You will need to search their house, Severin Manor, for evidence.
- Wulf: I would rather not be a burglar. I will do it my way.
- Morvayn: Which is?
- Wulf: I will knock on their door and ask to be allowed entrance. Full of Imperial arrogance I will tell them of my suspicions and demand hush money.
- Adril: If not guilty, they would invite you to tell the authorities.
- Morvayn: If guilty, they will attack you!
- Wulf: Who can I expect other than Tilisu?
- Adril: Vendil and their supposed ‘daughter’, Mirri.
- Wulf: You suspect she is not their daughter?
- Adril: Just rumours. Vendil can seem a bit too fond of Mirri at times and not in a fatherly fashion.
- Wulf: Almost one thousand armed mortals have fallen to my Thu’um, sword and Magicka. If they attack me, they die.
- Adril: You won’t take a key?
- Wulf: If they do not answer my knock, I will keep at it till they do. They will not want the attention a very loud Dragonborn will generate.
- Adril: I will ask the Redoran Guards not to intervene. Make as much noise for as long as you want.
- Wulf: I want there to be no question that if they die by my sword, it was self-defence on my part.
- Adril: Unless somebody can show you have a record of slaughtering civilians in cold blood, that will not be suggested by anyone.
- Morvayn: Now, can we talk about the news Aphia and Crescius were so eager to tell us not long ago.
- Adril: Are you sure the danger in the mines is gone?
- Wulf: There may be a stray Draugr or two. A squad of Redoran Guards should be able to do a sweep and clear them out. I suggest your best archers accompany such a squad. It is safer dealing with the more powerful Draugr from a distance.
- Morvayn: Do you think the mine is viable?
- Wulf: I am no expert, but the ebony ore is in abundance.
- Morvayn: And you think The East Empire Trading Company has no legal claim on the mine or its contents?
- Wulf: Solstheim was gifted in its entirety to Morrowind. Not only that, they abandoned the mine. Also, with a particular party whispering in Emperor Mede’s ear, I think he would squash any greedy legal attempt to claim the ore or enforce a monopoly on the purchase and distribution of the ore.
- Morvayn: I will not pursue the reason why the Countess is here dressed as a Swordmaiden. I can assure you that nobody outside of a small circle of people will ever know.
- Wulf: That is best for the people of Nirn.
- Morvayn: Does the Countess have interest in the ebony?
- Wulf: You will have to speak to her, but yes, I think she could be a significant customer. Nobody is going to argue if Bruma supplies Solstheim with goods at more competitive prices as part of a trade. There is no monopoly protected by law.
- Adril: Is it not too much of a risk to take the Countess into places like the mine?
- Wulf: The Countess is the finest wielder of a twohanded sword I have seen. With the dweomer I have placed on her armour and weapons, there would be very few mortals who could defeat her in battle. My other companions fought beside me against Alduin. Do not worry as the Countess is in little danger against the beasts, bandits and undead of Solstheim.
- Morvayn: Well, I hope she takes it easy in our negotiations!
- Wulf: It will be interesting to watch the Countess in action. I predict her bargaining skills will be on par with her swordsmanship. Her tongue is equally as sharp as her sword!
- Morvayn: You are quite fond of the Countess. That is apparent.
- Wulf: The gods have intervened to make sure we can be together and have risked a lot to do so. I need Rigmor’s light to find my way through the dark.
- Morvayn: We will continue with our daily routine. Please report back to Adril when you know more.
I bowed then left for Severin Manor. I decided that Azura’s Bane would be my weapon if it came to a fight. It seemed fitting for followers of The Tribunal. Plus, I needed to justify the carrying of two swords!
Ans Ash Storm darkened the sky over Raven Rock. It was like being in a blizzard except the flakes swirling in front of my face were grey.
I knocked on the door of Severin Manor. A few seconds later, Tilisu asked, “Who is it?”
“General Valdr. I would like to talk to you if I may.”
“Come in. We have been expecting you.”
I entered the house and was confronted by Tilisu and a younger Dunmer woman. Both stood facing me with daggers in hand. I could tell they were competent fighters and likely Morag Tong trained.
- Wulf: Tilisu, this is an unexpected welcome. Who is your young, and much prettier, friend?
- Tilisu: Do you think I am stupid? You were spying on me!
- Mirri: Typical blundering Imperial.
- Wulf: You must be Mirri? Vendel’s young lover. Are you his daughter, or is it incest? Yes or no?
- Mirri: Ah…
- Wulf: Incest or not? Yes, or no? Everybody knows you are screwing each other silly when Tilisu is not around.
- Tilisu: Enough! I am not going to let you spoil years of planning!
- Wulf: Your plot is uncovered and known by your target and the Redoran Guard. So far, you have done nothing that will require your death. The hiring of assassins is not illegal. Attack me, and I will be your judge, jury and executioner.
Mirri stepped forward, so I drew Azura’s Bane. She stopped and stared at the Daedric runes.
- Mirri: That sword. From what temple did you steal it?
- Wulf: It was given to me by Azura as I am her champion. No other can wield it. I can put it down, and you can try and use it if you wish. I don’t think it would be healthy for you to do so.
Mirri was quick to attack and seemed stunned when I blocked her dagger with a twohanded sword.
She was not quick enough to step back or duck. Her head soon departed her body.
Without pausing, I took another step and removed Tilisu’s head.
I searched the bodies and found a key on Mirri but no evidence of the plot.
I searched the house.
I eventually came across a safe that Mirri’s key opened.
Inside was the following letter,
“Dear Councillor Saldin,
In a matter of days, I believe we’ll be ready. Our forces hidden within Ashfallow Citadel have been training night and day, prepared to strike when we give the signal. With Captain Veleth distracted by the Ash Spawn attacks, the timing seems perfect. I’ve waited nearly a decade to exact my revenge upon Lleril Morvayn for the death of my ancestor, and I long for the moment my blade will be drawn across his throat. The next letter you’ll receive from me will include his head in a sack. Display it proudly in the halls of House Hlaalu, brother.
There was another letter in the safe. It was written on paper with a House Hlaalu watermark and read,
“The conditions here in Vvandenfell are worsening by the moment. Red Mountain spews a nearly non-stop gout of ash and flame, and I fear that I cannot remain much longer. I’ve done what I could to preserve a few relics from the museum, but I have one very vital artefact that I am entrusting to you, dear Vendil. It is a relic that the great saint once held as a prize and one that both saved and doomed Morrowind in the end. The Dwemer Wraithguard of Kagrenac. I entrust it to you. Keep it safe, and once House Hlaalu is once again in power, you can display it proudly. Guard it well and ensure it is well hidden in Skyrim.
If Lorkhan’s Heart is ever found, the Tools of Kagrenac would be needed to create something from it. To wield the tools safely, the Wraithguard would be required. All of these artefacts are sought after by many. The Wraithguard must be hidden where people, such as the Hlaalu family, cannot treat them as a trophy for display. I will try and track it down when I get a chance.
I exited Severin Manor and found the Ash Storm was abating. It did not take me long to find Adril.
He asked, “Did you find any evidence at Severin Manor?”
I handed Adril the letter from Vendil to Councillor Saldin.
After reading it, he said, “We finally have them! All that remains now is chasing them down and bringing them to justice.”
“I have found no evidence of Morag Tong. The letter mentions forces hidden within Ashfallow Citadel and that they are training! The Morag Tong do not send untrained assassins, and they do not attack in force.”
“True. But I was told there is a deathmark on the Councillor.”
“I doubt the conspirators in Ashfallow Citadel will surrender to justice. Is it law that the Morag Tong carry the legal paperwork, the writ, for any execution?”
“Yes. Without it, they can be charged and jailed.”
“If I encounter Morag Tong that carry writs, do they have a crime to answer to?”
“Mirri and Tilisu were not interested in legalities and attacked me after inviting me into their house. They are dead, and I think you will find the same fanaticism amongst those in the citadel. I do not think they are Morag Tong. I think they are all House Hlaalu and will be disguised as Morag Tong.”
“That would be insane. The Morag Tong would kill many in House Hlaalu if they impersonated them.”
“I think you were given false information about the deathmark. I doubt the Morag Tong would let such information leak, do you?”
“Not if they want to remain trusted.”
“The false information about a deathmark is to make it seem the Morag Tong is involved.”
“Yes, I see what you mean.”
“Ashfallow Citadel is marked on my map. I will gather my people and head there immediately.”
“I will send two of the Redoran Guard. They will meet you there.”
I headed for the Wretched Netch.
I told Rigmor and the others, “Let us go. We have a nest of assassins to clear out.”
Rigmor asked, “Morag Tong?”
“I don’t think so. I think they are imposters. The Morag Tong would have no reason to attack us. If we are attacked and don’t find a writ, we can conclude they are not and have never been Morag Tong.”
On the way to Ashfallow Citadel, we noticed a huge creature that made loud bellowing sounds.
“What is that?” asked Rigmor.
“I think it is a Silt Strider. I thought they were extinct.”
“Is it a native animal of Solstheim?”
“Not at all. It was a native animal of Morrowind and used for transport.”
“When we have a chance, can we go have a look at it?”
“Of course. I am as curious as you!”
A bit further on two Burnt Spriggan decided to attack. We had passed many of them before without incident.
Not far from our destination, fresh and old corpses circled a tree.
The killers emerged from the ground. Ash Spawn.
Ashfallow Citadel came into view. We crept forward and saw two dead Redoran Guards on the steps.
Falling ash made it hard to see, but I could still make out two sentries.
I killed one then crept towards the dead Redoran Guards.
The second sentry finally spotted us and came running. I killed that one as well.
I searched the dead assassins and found no writ.
The Redoran Guards had put up a fight, but it looked like they had been swarmed by more than the two assassins I just killed.
We made our way into the citadel and only encountered one more sentry.
Once inside the main complex, we could hear the voices of many. The gates they used to section the building gave us a huge advantage. I could fire through the gates, and even if I missed, we could pepper them while the gates opened.
I deliberately fired an arrow into the ground just before the first set of bars.
The noise it made attracted two assassins who came running to see what caused it.
Two arrows later, they both died without seeing their killer.
Another assassin came running up to the bars from the other side. A single arrow ended that life as well.
Yet another assassin did the same thing, and another arrow shot between the metal bars resulted in death.
We crept closer to the bars and spotted another enemy.
I was killing quickly and silently.
Pull chains opened each set of gates.
Eventually, we opened the way to the last chamber
The first person we had encountered not wearing Morag Tong armour was issuing orders to another.
Guessing it was Vendil I put away my bow and drew Azura’s Bane.
I used Whirlwind Sprint and was suddenly behind him before he realised there were intruders.
I said, “Excuse me. I am looking for Vendil Ulen.”
He quickly drew his two daggers, turned and faced me.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“The one who killed your wife and your lover.”
“Now you will die for the Morag Tong trained me!”
I sliced him along his left arm, then replied, “And I have faced gods and defeated Alduin. Do you like the pretty sword Azura gave me?”
Vendil yelled, “For House Hlaalu!” then attacked.
I cut him down just as Meeko arrived.
It took mere seconds for the rest to die.
We did a thorough search, including the body of Vendil, and found no writ. We also found no statues or shrines to Mephala. They were not Morag Tong!
We made our way back to Raven Rock without incident.
The guard outside the Councillor’s house told us to enter as they had been waiting for our report.
- Morvayn: Well, what happened? Were you able to track down Vendil? Out with it!
- Inigo: We have not met Councillor, but take my advice and be more polite. The General is not a servant or under your command.
- Morvayn: General Valdr, please forgive me for my tone.
- Wulf: My skin is not as thin as my blue friend thinks. You have had assassins sent after you. That is enough to make anybody less than polite.
- Adril: So…
- Rigmor: Ashfallow Keep was home to many assassins. We slew them all. Well, General Valdr did, we just watched.
- Wulf: I killed Vendil. We found no evidence of Morag Tong involvement, although he claimed they had trained him.
- Adril: Then… it’s finally over. What of the Redoran Guards that I sent to assist you?
- Wulf: Slain by the assassins.
- Adril: Damn it. I was hoping to protect our people by sending them, not end up with casualties. To think that Vendil would stoop so low as to impersonate those fetchers… I’m glad you killed him.
- Wulf: I would prefer not to have to kill anybody.
- Adril: You’ve succeeded where I’ve failed by ending the threat to Councillor Morvayn’s life. I shall not forget it.
- Wulf: We simply did what had to be done.
- Morvayn: What you’ve done for me… for all of Raven Rock… goes beyond what I would have expected from travellers to our town. For this, you have my deepest gratitude.
- Wulf: We are glad to have helped.
- Morvayn: Now, I have been told you do not like accepting compensation for what you do. But I must reward you appropriately for everything you have done. Since you will not take gold, I’ve decided to provide something more substantial. Since the Severin family… or whoever they were… turned out to be criminals, their property is now forfeit. As Councillor, I thereby gift you Severin Manor and everything contained within.
- Rigmor: He will graciously accept and thank you.
- Wulf: Excuse me?
- Rigmor: If you think I am going to spend another night in the Retching Netch you are more of an idiot than I thought!
- Adril: I have already had the bits of dead people removed, and the floor scrubbed.
- Rigmor: Dragonborn!
- Wulf: I humbly accept your generous gift, Councillor Morvayn.
- Morvayn: I don’t think you had much choice.
- Wulf: No, I didn’t. Good luck negotiating with the Countess.
- Morvayn: It is too late today for such a meeting. Do you have a preferred time, Countess?
- Rigmor: We still have to save you all from Miraak. That may take several days.
- Morvayn: Miraak? What a strange thing. That name sounds so familiar, yet I cannot place it?
- Rigmor: Can you remember anything about him.
- Morvayn: I’m not even sure… I can picture a temple, here on Solstheim. Must’ve been a bad dream.
- Rigmor: Adril, do you remember us asking you about Miraak?
- Adril: Did you? No, and I am as confused as the Councillor. Why is that?
- Wulf: Half of this town are at the Earth Stone building a structure around it. You don’t even remember that, do you?
- Morvayn: Preposterous. Now I do not want to talk about this nonsense any further!
- Lydia: As the Countess said, we have to save you all from Miraak.
- Wulf: So, we bid you goodnight.
I bowed then we made our way outside.
I said to my friends, “I think we should visit the temple first. Maybe they have some information about Miraak?”
We entered the temple then made our way to the most senior looking priest.
- Wulf: Are you Elder Othreloth?
- Othreloth: Yes, and you are the famous General Valdr, The Dragonborn. You honour the Reclamations with your actions. That will not be forgotten.
- Wulf: Do you know anything about Miraak?
- Othreloth: Hmm. Sounds like something from a dream, and yet it might be more. Strange.
- Wulf: Do you think you had a dream?
- Othreloth: I remember a temple on Solstheim and working to build something. It… it was not a pleasant dream. Perhaps Galdrus, my attendant, might be able to help you.
- Wulf: Were you one of the Ashlanders who kept their faith in the Anticipations? Forgive the archaic term.
- Othreloth: Yes, and as you know, Reclamations is now their correct name. I moved from tribe to tribe, teaching about our true gods.
- Wulf: I admire such dedication.
- Othreloth: You seem to serve many gods.
- Rigmor: General Valdr is not only the Champion of The Divines but also of Boethia and Azura.
- Othreloth: I thought as much. There is something about the sword you have on your back.
- Wulf: It was given to me by Azura. I carry two swords as I am much more skilled with the smaller one. But sometimes it seems appropriate to use Azura’s Bane.
- Othreloth: An apt name and I have a problem it may help resolve.
- Wulf: Please, tell us what that may be.
- Othreloth: We can’t use the Ancestral Tomb beneath the Temple, so have resorted to scattering remains elsewhere.
- Wulf: And why is that?
- Othreloth: Those foul vermin… the abominations we call Ash Spawn have risen from the ashes of our ancestors. They’re befouling the memories of our forefathers by defiling their remains.
- Rigmor: We shall cleanse the tomb for you.
- Othreloth: Thank you, wanderers. That would be most kind. Here, this key should open the door to the tomb.
Rigmor took the key from Othreloth. Before heading downstairs to the Ancestral Tomb, I walked up to Galdrus, the attendant, a sort of apprentice, to Elder Othreloth.
- Galdrus: You may have everyone fooled, but I see what you’re doing here. The call of gold sends you scurrying like a rat.
- Wulf: Who gave me money for removing the Ash Spawn threat?
- Galdrus: I assume the Councillor. Why else would somebody like you do it?
- Wulf: Wrong. Gold was offered, and I refused to take it.
- Rigmor: Who gave the General money for making the mine safe to use once more?
- Galdrus: The mine? Since when?
- Rigmor: If you took your head out of your arse, you might have known that news.
- Wulf: Once again, I took no money for that task.
- Inigo: Who paid the General to save your life by defeating Alduin?
- Wulf: Well, the Emperor did give me some gold to open up an orphanage, but I didn’t ask for it.
- Inigo: Still, this judgmental turd could show some gratitude.
- Wulf: Why the venom, Galdrus? Is it the fact I am not Dunmer? Or perhaps you think me ignorant of the Tribunal? Or does my Imperial Legion uniform generate such contempt?
- Galdrus: Non-believers are never welcome here!
Galdrus stood then tried to push past me. I drew Azura’s Bane and poked him with my finger, which stopped him in his tracks. I held the sword before him. His eyes opened wide, and his jaw dropped as he read the Daedric runes.
When he finished reading one side, I flipped it over so he could read the other. When finished with both sides, Galdrus stood with head bent.
- Wulf: I am Azura’s Champion.
- Rigmor: He is also Boethia’s Champion.
- Wulf: Whatever the reason for your hatred, it makes you less than what you could be. Thank The Tribunal that Skyrim and Cyrodiil do not emulate your view of others. If they did, you would not be able to walk the streets of Raven Rock. They would be congested with those Dunmer that have been given refuge by ‘unbelievers.’
- Rigmor: We have both spoken to Azura and felt her love and compassion. Something we mistakenly thought priests of The Tribunal would also have.
- Wulf: We are about to risk our lives to clear the Ancestral Tomb of Ash Spawn.
- Rigmor: No payment has been asked for or will be accepted.
- Wulf: I suggest you think deeply about the responsibilities of the robes of office you wear.
We heard Elder Othreloth chuckling as we headed for the Ancestral Tomb.
As soon as we entered the Ash Spawn came out to play.
It took about ten minutes to eliminate them all. Not because they posed any challenge. They simply hid until they thought they could spring a surprise on one of us.
We exited the Ancestral Tomb then delivered welcome news to Elder Othreloth.
- Rigmor: We have cleared the Ash Spawn from the Ancestral Tomb.
- Othreloth: Spirits be praised! I’m hoping none of you suffered an injury at the hands of those foul beings!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Meeko had to cough up ash for a few minutes. Apart from that, not a scratch.
- Othreloth: I will not insult you by offering a reward.
- Rigmor: Use it to help the needy. We saw beggars on the streets of Raven Rock.
- Othreloth: Like everybody here, the lack of support from Morrowind has made us count our gold like misers.
- Rigmor: Perhaps with the reopening of the mine, prosperity and meaningful employment for all will follow.
- Othreloth: I shall pray for that outcome, and so will Galdrus. You taught him in seconds what I have been trying to make him understand for months.
- Wulf: When you take away the differences in religion, all mortals are the same. Home, family and friends are more important than what gods you revere. The Divines know this and encourage such thoughts.
- Othreloth: Azura also emphasises such thinking.
- Rigmor: I often think of her as a combination of Mara and Dibella.
- Othreloth: Much like Mara. Copulation is the domain of Mephala.
- Rigmor: Oh.
- Wulf: We must depart as we need to eat and rest before our next task.
- Othreloth: Which is?
- Rigmor: We travel to Miraak’s Temple to defeat him and save the people of Solstheim from mindless slavery. And don’t worry if you can’t quite remember who Miraak is.
- Othreloth: Just the unease and confusion I am now experiencing while trying to remember who that is tells me he is a danger.
- Wulf: Within seconds of us leaving, he will not cross your thoughts again.
We left Elder Othreloth to ponder that, and were soon inside Severin Manor.
No sign of the violence that occurred earlier remained. The clean-up had been thorough.
After everybody had a good look around, Lydia helped Rigmor make some Elsweyr Chowder.
We sat at the table, and as Rigmor, Inigo and me tucked into the chowder, Lydia and Jordis were trying to rescue their tastebuds with copious amounts of cold ale.
- Lydia: The first mouthful tasted wonderful. Now I can’t taste a thing, and my mouth is numb.
- Inigo: Your mouth now matches your brain!
- Jordis: No matter what, I am not following downwind from Inigo tomorrow!
- Inigo: It was unfamiliar Solstheim spices and Ash Grown food that caused the unfortunate fragrances!
- Jordis: You kept trying to blame Meeko!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Lydia: Believe me, Jordis, if Meeko eats the wrong things he can melt armour!
- Inigo: It is usually dead, rotting things that he eats after rolling in the putrid juices oozing from the corpse.
- Wulf: That probably tastes better than Apple Cabbage Stew.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Did the nasty Lydia try to make you eat some?
- Meeko: Grr!
- Lydia: Hey!
- Wulf: Sorry, I say these things because I was dropped on my head.
- Inigo: Lydia was dropped on hers twice a day for a year!
- Lydia: No matter what you say about me you furry blue fart, at least I don’t chase my tail!
- Inigo: You saw that? Doesn’t a Khajiit have any privacy?
- Rigmor: Inigo, you shouldn’t indulge in such activity. You will go blind!
- Wulf: And get hairy palms. Oh, too late!
- Inigo: I am not embarrassed about my tail-chasing. It is good exercise and helps when I am stressed. Without a bit of tail-chasing, I would find it hard to sleep some nights.
- Lydia: Don’t worry Inigo, when you sleep in guard barracks you get used to others playing with their tail in the middle of the night.
- Jordis: Among other things.
- Rigmor: Lydia! Jordis!
- Lydia: Sometimes, couples even do boot knocking, and everybody else pretends it isn’t happening.
- Rigmor: No way!
- Jordis: Yes way! Dibella would be happy at the chain reaction that sometimes results.
- Rigmor: Definitely no way!
- Lydia: Definitely yes way! It is incredibly uncomfortable for those faithful to their partner.
- Rigmor: Ah, but I bet the alone time next you meet with them is exceptional!
- Lydia: Rigmor, perhaps we can share some more stories?
- Jordis: Oh wow! Can I join in?
- Rigmor: Of course.
- Wulf: What stories?
- Rigmor: Wulf, I have tried to explain to you before. Women talk about these things in case they can learn something new.
- Jordis: And figure out if their partner is male, are they being short-changed, if you know what I mean.
- Lydia: Some of them think size doesn’t matter.
- Jordis: Idiots.
- Lydia: Rigmor, did you like the Butter Churner?
- Rigmor: Remember that one Wulf? I think he preferred The Spider.
- Wulf: Inigo, can you believe this discussion?
- Inigo: Sorry, did you ask something? My mind wandered. I just remembered one particular session with Ashni and Anahbi down in the basement of Silverpeak. Did you know there are handcuffs and whips down there?
- Wulf: Right. I am going to eat my chowder and pretend this discussion did not happen!
- Lydia: Good idea. I think my tastebuds have come out of their coma.
- Rigmor: Wulf, did you see it in the alchemy room?
- Wulf: See what, my beloved?
- Rigmor: The big copper bath!
- Inigo: By the looks of the piping, they were going to have some Dwemer plumbing installed. With that, you can fill such baths up with hot water whenever you wish.
- Rigmor: It doesn’t look overly heavy.
- Wulf: Everything looks lighter when you are not the one carrying it.
- Rigmor: Pretty please, my darling, sweet Dragonborn. Could you bring the bath into our room, fill it up and wiggle your fingers, so the water is nice and warm for me?
- Wulf: I suppose this darling, sweet Dragonborn is to take several walks to Raven Rock’s well and bring back buckets of water for the said bath?
- Rigmor: You will if you truly love me. Do you love me?
- Lydia: Ha, she has you cornered!
- Wulf: Ha, you can accompany me and bring back two full buckets. Added to the two I will carry, Rigmor will soon enjoy her bath.
- Jordis: We could all do with a bath!
- Rigmor: Wulf can wiggle his fingers to clean and warm the water after each of us!
- Wulf: I do not wiggle my fingers when casting spells! But I agree. Tomorrow morning before we leave for Miraak’s Temple, I will be happy to cleanse the water for any of you who wishes to bathe.
- Inigo: And what about those of us who may not want a bath but need one?
- Lydia: That is up to you, but there is a slight pong when you are close.
- Inigo: Not me! I meant the other furry one with fleas.
- Meeko: Grr!
- Wulf: A waste of time. It will just make him more determined to find a rotting corpse to roll on top of and cover himself in filth.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Rigmor: Wulf, have you finished your chowder?
- Wulf: Yes?
- Rigmor: And you Lydia?
- Lydia: As much as I dare. I have filled myself with bread and fruit, so don’t worry.
- Rigmor: Good, the buckets and water await your attention!
- Inigo: You had better do as the Countess orders!
- Wulf: Mm… I wonder who is left to carry the bathtub to the main bedroom and do the washing up?
- Rigmor: Excellent idea! Inigo and Jordis, can you please carry the bathtub to my room?
- Wulf: You will be busy acting as a supervisor?
- Rigmor: No, I am going to change the blankets and sheets. I shudder to think what shenanigans took place in that bed!
- Jordis: Another excellent idea. I think I saw enough linen to change all the beds!
- Wulf: Come on, Lydia. If us peasants don’t hurry the nasty Countess might whip us.
- Inigo: That is much more fun with handcuffs! Thumbscrews are good as well.
I just shook my head as the others laughed. The streets of Raven Rock were deserted except for the Redoran Guard patrols and citizens coming to and from the Earth Stone. The muttered the mantra as they were utterly under Miraak’s control.
Lydia remarked, “He could conquer all of Tamriel and nobody would notice till it was too late!”
“You and the others have shown no sign of succumbing. There would be enough people resisting in larger settlements that it would not be so easy as Raven Rock. He is using old god magic to boost the power of his dweomer. There is very little of that in Tamriel.”
“The Standing Stones in Skyrim?”
“Yes, the Standing Stones could be used in the same way. No matter what Inigo says, you are not dumber than a jellyfish!”
“Inigo said what?”
“Look over there. Is that an Albatross?”
“I think I will tie his tail into a knot.”
“Can that wait till we have dealt with Miraak?”
We filled four buckets with icy cold water from the well. Somehow it remained clear and ash-free. I will have to ask a local why that is.
The main bedroom of Severin Manor was huge. The copper tub had been placed on a large rug, and I was surprised to see shrines of The Nine on a bookshelf next to it. They were not there when I confronted the Ulen’s and searched the house for evidence!
We filled the bath, then Lydia left the room and joined the others.
I warmed the water with Magicka. Rigmor climbed in with an audible sigh. I joined her, and although the water did not have the healing qualities of the mineral water in the spas, it was terrific to get rid of days of grime.
As we soaked and talked, there was a constant background of laughter and chatting with the occasional bark from our friends down the corridor.
Eventually, all noise from the rest of the house died down, and I assumed they had all succumbed to sleep. We had been very active since arriving in Solstheim, and no matter how good an inn is, there is nothing like a proper bed and mattress in a safe environment for inducing sleep.
Like our time spent soaking in the bath, Rigmor and I talked about many things when we retired to bed.
Rigmor surprised me when she said, “I know you back to front and upside down my dear Dragonborn. Something is bothering you.”
“I know it is probably not wise to dwell on things that Sheogorath said but… I don’t know. Maybe I am just hoping for clues to who I am.”
“I thought that was what troubled you. The Mad God hinted a couple of times you were of the Septim bloodline. It may be true, but so is Emperor Mede II if you go back many generations. I am not saying it is not important but does that possibility get you any closer to finding your identity?”
“If I am of Tiber’s lineage, and not too far removed generation wise, it may explain the strength of my Thu’um and skills in battle. That line was supposed to have ceased with the death of his son. All the Septim emperors after that are of his brother’s lineage, and none approached the strength of Thu’um or prowess in combat of Tiber.”
“You don’t like basing decisions on speculation and are relentless in your pursuit of reliable information. If somebody told you that you are of Tiber Septim’s bloodline, would you believe them if the words of Sheogorath was the only evidence provided?”
“No. It would be put into the ‘interesting but speculative’ category.”
“So why put so much thought into it? Why does it bother you so much?”
“Because my instincts tell me it is true. I have learned to trust my instincts when evidence is lacking.”
“Then it will play on your mind unless distracted. I have just such a distraction in mind.”
“Oh, and what would that be?”
Rigmor led me into our intimate dance, and nothing else existed for the next few hours.
I know not what time I fell asleep.