Skyrim quests: Dragonborn, Cleansing the Stones, The Fate of the Skaal.
Skyrim mods: Rigmor of Bruma.
It was one of the most relaxed mornings I have experienced since awakening on the carriage to Helgen. We were heading into the unknown and nobody seemed to have any issues with that.
Everybody wanted a bath, except Meeko, so we just pottered around Severin Manor as each took their turn.
I sat next to Rigmor and said, “I hope we get some answers today.”
“At least we know there is some connection between Miraak and Mora.”
“Yes, and we have helped the people of Raven Rock, so the last few days have not been wasted.”
“You do know us ladies don’t talk about those intimate things. We were just having fun making you uncomfortable.”
“Well, you certainly did that!”
“But it is true about what happens in the barracks.”
“Of that, I have no doubt.”
“I’m going to the market to see if they have any clothes I like. When I meet with the Councillor for trade talks, I would prefer not to do it in plate armour.”
“Do you want me to accompany you?”
“I have already asked Lydia and Jordis to accompany me. You would die of boredom.”
“OK. I will have a chat with Inigo. We haven’t had a Man to Man, or Man to Khajiit, talk for a while.”
I saw Jordis in the dining room.
I asked her, “Are you looking forward to accompanying Rigmor to the market?”
“Very much so. She is such a kind person. I thought a Countess from Cyrodiil might be a bit… well, stuck up.”
“And you have discovered she fights like a demigod, swears like a sailor and drinks like a Nord.”
“You two seem to flow around each other in battle. It is mesmerising.”
“Yes, we both instinctively know where the other is.”
“Is it the rings you wear?”
“No, we were doing it almost from the first time we fought together.”
“I am glad The Divines have allowed Rigmor to visit you.”
“They realised they were asking too much of us. Even gods are not infallible.”
Just then Rigmor stuck her head in the room and said, “Come on, Jordis. Let’s go spend lots of coin on things we don’t need!”
Jordis laughed and joined my beloved, who blew me a kiss before leaving with the ladies.
Inigo was enjoying a bowl of Elsweyr Chowder for his breakfast. I sat opposite him.
I asked him, “Is that a wise thing to have this early in the morning?”
“It is rather good, and I would hate for it to go to waste.”
“I was wondering, do you ever wish your fur was a less unusual colour?”
“I used to but not so much now. When I was a child, it became clear that my unusual appearance would make my life a little harder. These days it usually does not bother me. We are all odd in one way or another. I say embrace it.”
“Being half-dragon is odd, but it is not visible. So, my experience is different.”
“When your anger grows, your eyes leave no doubt there is something dangerous and not quite mortal about you.”
“Even as an adult, you must be hurt by those who are cruel. It can’t be easy sometimes.”
“Those who enjoy trying to make others feel worthless are worthless to me. They usually lack any remarkability of their own. All they can offer the world is bile. I do not worry about the opinions of the heartless and cruel.”
“What about those people who do not intend to be cruel or biased?”
“Yes, that is why I cannot wholly ignore my strangeness. I cannot help but notice the reactions from those who do not even know they are reacting.”
“Even without the blue colour, you would still be Khajiit and subject to prejudice in Skyrim.”
“You must have noticed prejudice amongst the Dunmer to you, an ‘outsider’. How someone appears can largely determine how others treat them.”
“Certainly, that is the case before they get to know the person under the layer of skin or fur or scales.”
“Yes, but you are surrounded by first impressions. That is why a physically beautiful person usually lives in a world with a great many courtesies and smiles. On the other hand, a seemingly unusual individual often exists in a realm of awkward glances, disdain, and sometimes open hostility.”
“Such prejudice is more nurture than nature.”
“Whenever I notice a negative reaction, I try to bear my uniqueness in mind. Ignorance is regrettable, but it is not a crime. Anyway, I am at peace with my appearance now.”
“Deliberate ignorance is not forgivable. Some people choose to accept the prejudices taught in childhood without asking if they are valid once they become an adult. Take the ban on Khajiit in many of the cities in Skyrim. Where is the proof that the Khajiit would steal and rob if they are let inside the walls? Has it occurred in the past or just something Mum and Dad said?”
“Only you and one other person showed no reaction to my colour upon first meeting me.”
“Yes. Why are you two different?”
“I think it is because we have had experiences beyond the norm. After meeting and speaking to gods and witnessing other gobblygook, a blue Khajiit is not as odd as it may seem to others.”
“That makes sense. From your description of Hermaeus Mora, I would seem rather normal in comparison.”
‘Yes, and at first it did not even occur to me that you are in fact, a blue abomination!”
“And you are half-dragon. The rear half!”
My chat with Inigo on many topics continued for what seemed only minutes but lasted well over an hour by the time Rigmor returned. All three ladies carried several wrapped parcels and seemed pleased with their purchases but would not tell us what they were. All would be revealed they said.
The ash was thick in the air once again as we started our long walk to Miraak’s Temple.
Near the shipwreck, we were once more attacked by bandits. Rigmor growled, “Not again! Where are their breeding grounds?”
When they were all dead, Jordis said, “Rigmor is right. Where are the bandits coming from?”
“I have no idea. Maybe since the civil war is over and regular patrols are back in Skyrim, they have decided to move to Solstheim?”
“That sounds plausible.”
“Which probably means it has nothing to do with the real reason there are so many.”
It was not a peaceful walk to Miraak’s Temple. There were more bandits and annoying little spiders that exploded when you killed them and even before. Every Spriggan we encountered didn’t think we had a right to keep living. It was like everything else that breathed on Solstheim had declared war on us!
Miraak’s Temple finally came into view.
When we got closer, we could see that the nearby countryside was littered with the skeletal remains of dragons.
Rigmor asked, “How old are these skeletons?”
“Dragonbone does not age like a mortal skeleton. The minor erosion damage we can see suggests that they have been here a very long time. They may have been sitting here for thousands of years. Maybe since the Dragon Wars.”
“Could mortals bring down so many dragons in a single battle?”
“Only at the cost of many thousands of lives and I recall no such battle mentioned in the histories. The question that I want to be answered is why so many Dov fought in such a small area around Miraak’s Temple? Either mortals were besieging the temple, and the dragons came to Miraak’s aid or…?”
“Or the dragons were fighting Miraak?”
“Yes, that is what I think has occurred. A Dragonborn could bring down this number of Dovwhich suggest Miraak kill them. The shape of the skulls is a bit different as well. Maybe Solstheim dragons look a bit different than those I have encountered before. I remember some odd-looking ones depicted on Alduin’s Wall.”
“Do you think Miraak helped in the Dragon War even if he did not confront Alduin?”
“At first glance, these skeletons suggest he might have. But we do not know enough to make that conclusion.”
“Can you hear the mantra? It seems to be coming from a larger area.”
“Let’s go find out why.”
We climbed some ancient steps, and the reason for the dispersed mantra became apparent. There was a group of bandits working at Miraak’s Temple, and down a hill, another group was working at one of the ancient stones. A familiar green light emanated from it.
When we reached the temple itself, we found the local Nords, called Skaal, interspersed with the bandits. A young woman was fruitlessly talking to her people and trying to break through Miraak’s dweomer.
“Oslaf, please! You must fight against what is controlling you!”
“Yrsa, can you hear me? Yrsa, I’m here to help you!”
“All of you must leave this place! It is not safe here! We must go back to the village!”
“You must listen to me! We must leave this place!”
We walked down the steps to inspect the Stone. The young woman finally noticed us.
- Frea: You there. What brings you to this place? Why are you here?
- Wulf: I am General Valdr as we are here to stop Miraak. Who are you?
- Frea: I am Frea of the Skaal. I am here to either save my people or avenge them.
- Rigmor: You can’t break the hold Miraak has on their minds by talking to them.
- Frea: Something has taken control of most of the people on Solstheim. It makes them forget themselves, and work on these horrible creations that corrupt the Stones, the very land itself. My father Storn, our shaman, says Miraak has returned to Solstheim, but that is impossible.
- Rigmor: It is far from impossible. He has allied himself with Hermaeus Mora.
- Wulf: You know that aspect of The Adversary as Herma-Mora. We recently defeated another aspect, Thartaag, the World-Devourer.
- Rigmor: Miraak is controlling the people of Solstheim. He also tried to have the General assassinated.
- Frea: Then, we all have reason to see what lies beneath us. Let us go. There is nothing more I can do here. As you indicated, the Tree Stone and my friends are beyond my help for now. We need to find a way into the temple below.
- Wulf: Tell us what the Skaal know of Miraak.
- Frea: His story is as old as Solstheim itself. He served the dragons before their fall from power, as most did. He was a priest in their order. But unlike most, he turned against them. He made his own path, and his actions cost him dearly. The stories say he sought to claim Solstheim for himself, and the dragons destroyed him for it.
- Wulf: We knew he was a Dragon Priest and we surmised he must have turned on his Dov masters. It seems Mora gave him refuge in Apocrypha. Now he has emerged again to claim Solstheim. He will use this island as a base from which to conquer all of Nirn.
- Frea: If he has such power, how can you stop him?
- Wulf: I have the same powers as Miraak. I may even be more powerful than him. It does not matter for we shall defeat him by fighting beside each other.
- Frea: Is he doing this for The Adversary?
- Wulf: Other aspects of The Adversary may want subjugation of the peoples of Nirn. Herma-Mora does not. Logic tells me Miraak is not doing this for Herma-Mora. Maybe another aspect of The Adversary is now his master. We do not know as yet.
- Rigmor: Are you the only Skaal not under Miraak’s control?
- Frea: There are few of us unaffected by this curse. My father Storn, the shaman, protects them in the village. I fashioned an amulet to guard me against whatever has taken hold of the Skaal, but it is the only one of its kind. If I cannot find a way to save them, there is no hope for our people.
- Rigmor: General Valdr was sent by our gods to help the people of Solstheim. Have belief that if we, in turn, help him, he shall do so. All the people of Solstheim will be freed from Miraak’s power.
- Wulf: The power of the Stones is tied in with the All-Maker. Let us see what is in the temple, but I think your father’s knowledge of this ancient magic may be vital to our success.
- Frea: Then, we should not delay. My father cannot protect the village for much longer.
- Wulf: Have you ever entered a complex like this before? Have you ever fought Draugr?
- Frea: No, but I am a skilled warrior.
- Rigmor: If you accompany us you must do as General Valdr says. We have a lot of experience exploring places like this temple and combating many different creatures, including the Draugr.
- Wulf: We ask you to obey me for all our safety. If I did not think it was vital for you to see what Miraak was up to, I would insist you stay here. I will not have you endangering us by thinking you know what to do. You don’t.
- Frea: I will follow your lead. That is how I learn from others.
We heard a grinding noise then Meeko started to growl. I yelled, “Welcoming committee!”
Two of Miraak’s masked goons came up a ramp and attacked us.
Seconds later they lay dead in pools of their blood.
Frea asked, “Who are they?”
I replied, “They are devoted followers of Miraak. Several of them were sent to Skyrim to kill me. As you saw, they are not much of a threat to us. The more powerful Draugr are. I expect we will meet many of both inside the temple.
We entered the temple, and it was not dissimilar to the myriad Nord ruins in Skyrim.
Not far in we encountered two of the masked morons.
I killed them both then stood staring at the corpses.
With great concern on her face, Rigmor asked, “What is wrong, my Dragonborn?”
“The second one I just cut down was number one thousand. How many more before I can sheath my sword and shed no more blood?”
“You have killed over six hundred since I crossed the border?”
“One thousand deaths in the fifty-four days since I awoke. That is over eighteen people per day have fallen to my weapons, Thu’um and Magicka. Is that enough for The Divines, or am I supposed to be killing even more?”
“It is a cruel burden, but think of the children at Silverpeak Lodge. Think of the friends you have made. Think of every person you have ever seen walking the streets of the cities and towns you have visited. They need you to kill and keep on killing.”
“And I will continue to do so. However, I tell you this with no uncertainty. If you were not with me occasionally, I might have had no choice but to become my Dovah. To kill without remorse would be a blessing.”
“Then we once again prove the gods were wrong with their original plan. I am here and will remind you of all that is good, so you know why this burden has to be endured.”
“I feel like weeping, but that will have to wait. I can’t kill as effectively when tears blur my vision.”
With that, I continued at a pace that made the others almost run to keep up.
My recklessness resulted in a Draugr freezing me with Ice Form. My companions quickly surrounded me to prevent my death as I could do nothing to protect myself.
I was a bit more cautious after that.
Poor Meeko was also been turned into an ice block. I cast Grand Healing to remove the ice and fix the injuries sustained.
He sat and grinned at me. I growled, “Fucking Draugr!”
Meeko replied “Woof woof!”
Rigmor said, “No more of that foul language, young Meeko!”
We continued through the temple, and there were more Draugr per square feet than even Skuldafn!
Meeko did that glowing red, life force draining thing I had seen only once before.
Just to prove how monotonously boring Miraak’s Temple was proving to be, we encountered Pendulum Blades.
The others waited till I made my way through the blades and pulled a lever to stop them.
Inigo said, “I know you are getting bored, my friend. But I dislike this place and am too terrified to get bored.”
“You have done well against the Draugr. That scar was given when you were helpless. Now you aren’t.”
“Still, that experience has left its mark, mentally and physically.”
“I understand. Unfortunately, I do not know how much further we have to go.”
“Mr Dragonfly says he wants to get out of here so lead on, my friend.”
More Draugr, masked morons and bland Nordic architecture followed.
Just for a change, Skeletal Warriors attacked.
They fell apart with the power of Unrelenting Force and did not hinder us at all.
We started encountering more of Miraak’s morons than Draugr. That suggested we were perhaps getting closer to the heart of the temple.
We entered a chamber and from its roof hung the complete skeleton of a Dovah.
- Frea: I had heard Miraak had turned against the Dragon Cult, but to display the remains in such a manner as this… It is no wonder the dragons razed his temple to the ground. Seeing remains hung up like trophies must have enraged them to no end.
- Wulf: The Dovah could not see this. But they may have had mortal troops that reported it to them. I will remember this when I kill him!
- Frea: Why does it upset you so?
- Lydia: General Valdr told you he had the same powers as Miraak. They are both Dragonborn.
- Wulf: I have the blood and soul of a dragon. This abomination is akin to you seeing a Skaal flayed and put on display as a trophy!
- Frea: Your eyes, they are not as they were!
- Wulf: That is my dragon half showing his displeasure.
- Lydia: It is often the last thing his enemies see before death.
- Frea: General, you are a complicated person. I have never seen somebody kill as efficiently as you yet you seem reluctant to do so. You seem to have two halves and one of them should revel in such killing.
- Wulf: They act to balance each other. Sometimes I may show mercy where it is not deserved. My Dovah half then lets me do what is required.
- Rigmor: Just remember no matter what you see, he is doing what is needed to keep us safe from evil such as Miraak.
- Frea: And for that, I am thankful. I hope your gods give you peace one day.
- Wulf: They have made no promises.
I stood before a Word Wall, and it tried to teach me ‘QAH’, the second Word of Power of the Dragon Aspect Shout. I already knew it.
Frea asked, “What just happened?”
“The writing is that of the Dov. Some words have power when used by Dov and me since I am a half-dragon.”
I read the Word Wall to the others,
“Here once stood Miraak who wore his faith as armour, shielded by Daedra for his eternal loyalty.”
Frea asked, “What is a Daedra?”
“Aspects of The Adversary deliberately corrupt creatures made by the All Maker. These corrupted creatures act as their guards and soldiers and are called Daedra or minions. The different aspects of The Adversary favour different types of Daedra. There are two types I have seen In Apocrypha. One has arms and many tentacles and floats rather than walks. Whenever I kill one, there are always scrolls and books on the corpse. I think they act as librarians as well as guards. The other type of Daedra hide in inky pools of water and also have tentacles. They are much taller and walk on two legs. Neither type of Daedra are very powerful.”
“Does Herma-Mora protect Miraak?”
“That Word Wall only mentions Daedra. On the wall, there are sculptures similar to those I saw in Apocrypha, the home of Herma-Mora. I think they were allies once, but I don’t think any longer.”
The floor started shaking, and for a moment, I thought the roof might cave in.
I yelled, “I think my presence has triggered this!”
Just then a Draugr dropped to the floor from a sarcophagus.
“Be prepared! Watch those sarcophagi against the wall!”
The most powerful Draugr we have ever encountered burst forth and attacked.
We hacked them to pieces relatively easy due to our superior numbers.
At the back of one of the newly emptied coffins was a door. The key to that door was found on one of the Draugr.
Lydia said, “I have a feeling we are near the end of this boring walk through Miraak’s Temple.”
“It is rather dull, isn’t it?”
“He could have done so much with a few nice rugs and tapestries!”
“I know. Maybe even a painting or two of puppies and kittens?”
To our utter disappointment, nothing was exciting beyond the door. Just more ruins but at least the living areas hinted we were closer to the central part of the temple.
We finally found something interesting. On a dais was another book that acted as a portal to Apocrypha. A ring of fire surrounded it.
- Frea: There are dark magics at work here. Ready yourself. That book… It seems wrong, somehow… Here, yet… not. It may be what we seek.
- Wulf: It is a portal to Herma-Mora’s world called Apocrypha. It may lead to the part in which Miraak resides.
- Rigmor: What will you do if Miraak is there?
- Wulf: That depends on him. I do not want to kill him till we have more information on the dweomer that controls the people. If I killed Miraak, what would happen to those people he controls? Would they go insane or die or remain in that state?
- Frea: You are confident you could defeat Miraak.
- Wulf: He is a Dragonborn that has forsaken the god, Lord Akatosh, that gave him his power. Our other gods, such as Kyne, would not have taught him what they have taught me. I think his ability in the magic of the Dragonborn, the Thu’um, will be a fraction of mine. I would know far more Shouts, the spells of the Thu’um, than he. As for skill with sword or Magicka, he will most likely pale in comparison.
- Frea: And what of Herma-Mora?
- Wulf: He would not harm me. He knows the mortals he trades knowledge with will cease to be or enslaved if I am not alive to prevent it. What Miraak is trying to do would stop mortals trading knowledge with Herma-Mora. That makes me suspect that Miraak no longer serves The Adversary.
- Lydia: Frea, General Valdr must take this risk. We all wish he did not have to, but it is why our gods have given him his powers. He is on Nirn to protect all the mortals and to do that he must risk such things.
- Wulf: Frea, would you have attempted to enter this temple by yourself?
- Frea: Yes, I would have to for my people.
- Wulf: Then you understand why I will open that book and go to Herma-Mora’s world.
- Frea: I will pray to the All-Maker for your safe return.
- Rigmor: Try not to antagonise Herma-Mora when you are in his realm.
- Wulf: But my dear, after the boredom of this place, I need some fun!
I opened the book. Tentacles appeared and dragged me through the portal.
I teleported to Apocrypha. When my sight cleared, I could see a man who had his back to me. He was speaking to some of the tentacled Daedra. I assumed it was Miraak.
He said to them, “The time comes soon when… What?”
He turned then demanded, “Who are you to dare set foot here?”
He cast Lightning which surprised me. I would have thought a Shout would be his offensive weapon of choice. I shrugged off his spell, which I believe shook him somewhat. His mask made his mood difficult to ascertain.
“You must be Miraak. Traitor to The Divines, the Dov, the people of Nirn and probably Hermaeus Mora.”
“Ahh… You are Dragonborn. I can feel it. And yet… So, you have slain Alduin… Well done. I could have slain him myself, back when I walked the earth, but I chose a different path.”
“A path of cowardice and self-indulgence. Alduin can’t be slain, but I did defeat him in battle both on Nirn and in Sovngarde. I doubt you could have accomplished either.”
The ugliest dragon I have ever seen had landed behind Miraak. Now I understood the weirdly shaped skulls I saw.
“You have no idea of the true power a Dragonborn can wield!”
“MUL QAH DIIV!”
Miraak’s Dragon Aspect Shout was supposed to impress me. I laughed, then used my Thu’um.
“MUL QAH DIIV!”
I, too, was surrounded by Dragon Aspect.
“As you can see, I know that Shout. I know dozens more of which you are ignorant. They were taught to me by Kyne. Do you know Dragonrend? No? Then Alduin would have consumed you and shit you out over Sovngarde! You have no idea of the true power of a Dragonborn because you abandoned the very gods that gave you that power!”
“This realm is beyond you. You have no power here. And it is only a matter of time before Solstheim is also mine. I already control the minds of its people. Soon they will finish building my temple, and I can return home.”
“I have no power here? You only live now because I wish it. I resisted your domination, and a young Skaal woman has created a Dweomer that allows others to do so. As soon as I have freed the people of Solstheim, I will hunt you down and slay you.”
Miraak hastily walked over and mounted the dragon.
I asked the Dovah, “Dreh hi aam Miraak?” (Do you serve Miraak?)
“Zu’u los ok zaam!” (I am his slave!)
“Zu’u fent stin hi zeynah.” (I will free you brother.)
Miraak angrily commanded the tentacled Daedra, “Send him back where he came from so he can await my arrival with the rest of Tamriel.”
The dragon took flight and soon flew out of sight with the underwhelming Miraak aboard.
The tentacled Daedra were firing spells at me that were supposed to drain my life force. Even without the protection of Dragon Aspect, they would have done little damage with the dweomer on my armour and natural resistances. Due to the additional protection of Dragon Aspect, they did no damage at all.
A full-strength Unrelenting Force killed all four outright.
I had a quick look around and found a book called ‘Devotions of Hermaeus Mora’. I was positive it was for those who had become minions of the Dark Lord. I did not open it or even touch it.
I did not want to explore Apocrypha any further, so I opened the book we found in the temple. I was then teleported back to Nirn.
I stepped out of the flames to my waiting companions.
- Frea: What happened to you? You read the book, and then it seemed as though you were not really here. I could see you, but also see through you!
- Rigmor: What did you call that last time?
- Wulf: Metaphysical gobblygook.
- Rigmor: Yeah, Frea, that was metaphysical gobblygook!
- Frea: What?
- Wulf: I don’t know why a transparent part of me is left behind. I went to Apocrypha and talked to Miraak. He is not very powerful!
- Frea: Could you have killed him?
- Wulf: He tried to show me how powerful he was, and I laughed. I told him he only lived because I wanted him to. So yes, I could have killed him.
- Rigmor: You didn’t kill him because of the people still under his control. As you said before, we do not know what would happen to them.
- Frea: Could you find him again?
- Wulf: I don’t know.
- Frea: This is a dangerous thing, then. We should return to my village, and tell of this to my father. Perhaps Storn can make sense of what is going on.
- Wulf: Follow me, there looks to be a way out over there.
My companions followed me through some doors that could only be opened from inside the temple. A narrow corridor led to sliding rocks that would have looked like a regular cliff face from outside. A lever made them move aside. Nobody could use the exit as an entrance.
We exited the dull, musty tomb into the frosty, fresh air. I said to Frea, “Please lead us to your village. This time we shall follow you.”
We ran behind the young woman who was surprisingly swift on her feet.
Frea stopped then said, “Can you see that green light? That comes from the Wind Stone, where more of my people work against their will. They must be freed soon.”
“Hopefully your father will have some idea on how we can do that.”
We crossed a bridge then Frea said, “The village is just ahead. Storn has used his magic to raise a barrier around it, protecting the few of us left. That the barrier is still there is a good sign.”
We followed Frea into the Skaal Village. He father and two other Skaal were maintaining a dweomer. I could no detect what the dweomer did. The magic being used was foreign to me.
- Frea: Father! I have returned! There is yet hope!
- Storn: Frea! What news do you bring? Is there a way to free our people?
- Frea: No, but I have brought someone who has seen things… He has confirmed that Miraak is indeed behind the suffering of our people.
- Storn: I feared that it would be so.
- Frea: Please, tell Storn what has happened.
- Wulf: Greetings Shaman, I am General Valdr.
- Storn: So, you have seen things, yes? My magic grows weak, and so does the barrier around our village. Time is short. Tell me what you know.
- Wulf: Miraak had been hiding in Apocrypha, the plane of Oblivion created by Herma-Mora. By reading particular books, I can travel to this plane. We found such a book in Miraak’s Temple. When I read it, I travelled to Apocrypha, where I met and talked to Miraak.
- Storn: The legends speak of that place. Terrible battles fought at the temple. The dragons burning it to the ground in rage. They also speak of something worse than dragons buried within. Difficult to imagine, but if true… It means what I feared has come to pass. Miraak was never truly gone, and now has returned. If you could go to this place and see him… Are you like Miraak? Are you Dragonborn?
- Wulf: Yes, I am. The corruption of the Stones involves the magic of the Dragonborn, called the Thu’um or Voice. I think the corruption stems from Words of Power and Shouts, the spells of the Dragonborn, that I do not know.
- Storn: I am unsure if you can save us, or bring about our destruction. But our time here is running out. The few of us free of control cannot protect ourselves for much longer. You must go to Saering’s Watch. Learn there the Word of Power that Miraak learned long ago, and use that knowledge on the Wind Stone. You may be able to break the hold on our people there and free them from control.
- Wulf: How do you know Miraak learned a Word of Power there? And if he did, it may be the second or third Word of a Shout making it useless by itself.
- Storn: Most of our knowledge is an oral tradition. It is what I was told, and it is what I pass on to you.
- Wulf: Do not fear my actions would cause harm to your people. I am knowledgeable about many subjects and will not make an uneducated guess.
- Rigmor: Frea, for a shaman, you fight pretty well. Who trained you?
- Frea: It was Skaf the Giant, our former chieftain, who taught me the ways of battle. He was a great bear of a man and a fearsome warrior. I used to be terrified of him when I was a little girl. I was a restless and angry child, and Skaf taught me swordplay so that I could, as he used to say, ‘put that fire to good use.’ He was a great man and a good leader. I miss him, dearly.
- Rigmor: Did something happen to your mother? Is that why you were restless and angry?
- Frea: Yes. She died when I was very young. She was caught in a terrible snowstorm while returning home from gathering firewood. You must understand that, for Skaal, life is a constant hardship. We take nothing for granted for we cannot afford to. Between the wolves, the weather and the threats in the south, even a simple task like gathering wood for the fire can turn deadly in an instant.
- Rigmor: From what I can see, the Skaal and this land seem bound together.
- Frea: Yes, and that is why we persevere.
- Wulf: We shall travel to Saering’s Watch, but first we need to rest for a few hours. Can you hold the barrier till morning?
- Storn: With Frea returned, she can add her strength. So yes.
- Wulf: I would not ask if my companions were not exhausted.
- Storn: I understand. You can use the Hunters Lodge to the right of the village exit.
- Frea: If anyone can help us now, it is you and your friends.
- Wulf: The Divines bless you and your people.
- Storn: All-Maker shelter you all.
Frea joined her father in mediation. I sensed the barrier strengthening.
We moved away from them some distance then Inigo asked, “I think we could all make the trip easily. It has not been as exhausting a day as others we have experienced.”
“It is a long way to Saering’s Watch across the snow and ice of northern Solstheim. We may start the trip relatively strong, but the lack of sleep will hinder us by the time we get there.”
“I am concerned about their ability to hold the barrier.”
“The worse that can happen is they all become Miraak’s slaves for a while. I must weigh that chance against the risk of us travelling over unknown territory at night and then confronting who knows what while exhausted.”
“I do not wish to seem in disagreement, my friend. We like to understand why you make some decisions, and you usually tell us. But you have seemed distracted since halfway through that boring temple.”
“Yes, I am distracted. Let us talk about it over a meal.”
A massive troll was attacking a Skaal sentry. A single arrow saved the man’s life. I also killed a boar marked by Kyne.
We entered the Hunters Lodge. It had enough beds, but all were single. I moved one, so it was next to another. That way Rigmor and me could enjoy our peace and not have to cram onto a single bed.
Jordis volunteered to finish off a stew that was simmering over the fire. I think the makers of the stew intended to have it for dinner but ended up speaking Miraak’s mantra while slaving away at the Wind Stone.
We sat at a table while waiting for the meal.
- Wulf: I have been pondering a question that has proved distracting. Why did Akatosh give his gifts to somebody who turned out so traitorous?
- Lydia: I was wondering the same thing.
- Wulf: Miraak said he could have defeated Alduin if he had wanted but chose a different path instead. I don’t think he could have defeated Alduin. Without Dragonrend we may have been beaten.
- Inigo: And Dragonrend was invented because the Tongues had to learn to use the Thu’um.
- Wulf: Other mortals may never have learnt the Thu’um if Miraak did what he was supposed to do. But then he may have found himself outclassed and failed.
- Rigmor: That is what I don’t understand about the Dragon War. Didn’t the other dragons and the mortals who sided with Alduin know he would destroy the world eventually?
- Wulf: Alduin would never have destroyed Nirn if he won the Dragon War. Like Miraak, he had abandoned his purpose for the pursuit of power. When Alduin returned, he had to concentrate on recruiting other dragons to counter our threat. But what if we lost? Would he have destroyed the world? I doubt it. He would have been ‘Overlord’ once more, as his dragon allies were already calling him. Why would you destroy your kingdom?
- Lydia: Maybe he had no choice in the matter?
- Wulf: He was not a slave to his nature like the Dark Lords. He had free will, and I believe his desire for power would override any compulsion he had to ‘swallow the world’.
- Inigo: Perhaps he would not have to destroy the world intentionally? Maybe Alduin becoming the uncontested Overlord would lead to a chain of events that did destroy it?
- Rigmor: Yes, perhaps Alduin becoming the Overlord was a necessary step in a prophecy that leads to the world’s destruction!
- Lydia: What have you done to us, Wulf? We are speaking gobblygook and even making some up!
- Wulf: It is all part of my evil plan!
- Rigmor: Free will is your answer, my Dragonborn. Your moral code must make The Divines confident that you will put the well being of mortals ahead of personal ambition. Perhaps with Miraak, they learnt a lesson and made sure future Dragonborn developed some empathy for others via their upbringing.
- Wulf: You being with me is more insurance. The Divines recognised that I was more likely to become uncooperative at the least, or rebellious at worse if they insisted on a long separation.
- Lydia: You could have gone rogue. It would only take one incident of you killing indiscriminately to change you forever.
- Wulf: The Dovah would become dominant.
- Inigo: You don’t believe Miraak presents much of a threat to you?
- Wulf: He deserves caution, but if I am careful, then he will have no chance against me.
- Rigmor: You think he will challenge you one on one. What if many minions surround him?
- Wulf: The Daedra of Apocrypha are weak. I would carve my way through however many he orders to fight by his side. I have a feeling they are enslaved like the dragon he flew away on. I doubt he has any allies who fight beside him through loyalty.
We continued discussing various things till the stew and newly baked bread arrived at the table. After that, the conversation was still constant but slower in pace. The reason being the stew and bread were simple fair but delicious.
We retired to bed reasonably early as we were aware of the strain on Frea and her father that was required to maintain the barrier around the village.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know our peace meant the thousandth death at my hands became a sorrow that did not intrude on my slumber.