Skyrim quests: A New Source of Stalhrim, Lost Legacy, Reluctant Steward, Deathbrand.
Haknir’s Shoal was not far from Skaal Village, and I wanted to give Baldor the map. So that is where we headed just after 6:30 AM.
We had no encounters on the walk to the village and found Baldor heading towards his forge.
- Baldor: It is good to see you again, my friends. Did you find the elves and their ship?
- Rigmor: Unfortunately for them, yes.
- Baldor: I don’t suppose they just apologised and handed the map over?
- Rigmor: We didn’t bother asking.
- Baldor: Oh!
I handed the slightly blood-stained map to Baldor.
- Baldor: I know you faced great danger to bring this map to me. There are no words to tell how glad my heart is. Thank you. I name you friends of the Skaal.
- Wulf: I am glad we could help but really, we were not in much danger from a few Thalmor.
- Baldor: Frea told me what dangers you faced with Miraak so I can understand that.
- Rigmor: Divines bless you and your village.
- Baldor: Walk with The One.
The Imperial scholar we had released from Miraak’s control rushed over to us.
- Tharstan: General Valdr, can I please have a word?
- Wulf: Certainly, I am curious about what an Imperial Scholar is doing living with the Skaal.
- Tharstan: My name is Tharstan, and I am a scholar of history. I’ve always found Solstheim to be most intriguing and made many forays into the ancient ruins covering the island. I’ve come to know those ruins so well I could draw you a map from memory. That’s why I noticed the new passage the moment I laid eyes on it.
- Wulf: Where is this new passage?
- Tharstan: Inside an old tomb. I think it must have been opened by an earthquake that accompanied one of the Red Mountain’s eruptions. I’d love to have a closer look, but those old ruins can be dangerous, and I’m no warrior. I’ll pay you to watch my back down there. I’ll be heading back soon so if you’re interested you meet me at the ruins and we’ll see what we can find. Now I’m off to pack for the expedition!
- Rigmor: We are not mercenaries or guards.
- Wulf: We do not blindly walk into places unprepared.
- Lydia: Well, most of the time.
- Rigmor: Tharstan, answer some questions first and then we will discuss what is going to happen.
- Tharstan: What do you want to know.
- Wulf: Do the ruins have a name?
- Tharstan: Vahlok’s Tomb.
- Wulf: Vahlok is a Dragon Priest. His name was given to him by the Dov he served, and he once ruled Solstheim.
- Tharstan: A Dragon Priest? Then I should be able to translate his name!
Tharstan pulled out a Tamrielic to Dovahzul dictionary and started flicking through the pages.
- Wulf: Zu’u tinvaak Dovahzul. I speak Dovahzul. Vahlok means guardian.
- Tharstan: You speak the dragon language?
- Wulf: I can read, speak and understand Dovahzul. The reading and understanding come from the fact I am Dragonborn. The speaking I must have learnt at some stage.
- Tharstan: You don’t remember learning to speak such a complex language?
- Wulf: The Divines wiped my memory.
- Tharstan: Fascinating!
- Wulf: We can’t risk a Dragon Priest getting loose so will investigate the tomb.
- Rigmor: Do you know much about Vahlok?
- Wulf: Only his name till I read a book I found in Apocrypha. If Storn was still alive, he could have told us the story of Vahlok the Jailor.
- Rigmor: Is that one of the books I saw you bundling together this morning?
- Wulf: Yes. I thought the information might be relevant as we explore Solstheim.
- Rigmor: Why not just memorise them like you usually do?
- Wulf: If I should become incapacitated, you might help with information gleaned from the books.
- Inigo: Tharstan, before you ask, General Valdr can remember thousands of books and will undoubtedly quote the relevant sections of that book without opening it.
- Tharstan: Remarkable!
- Wulf: The book’s title is ‘The Guardian and The Traitor’. It was written by the well-known Imperial scholar, Lucius Gallas.
- Tharstan: He was as fascinated with Solstheim as I am. I thought I had read all of his works, but that one is unfamiliar to me.
- Wulf: I randomly picked up books when travelling through Apocrypha. It seems that the books placed on tables were generally rarer than the uncountable others stacked high in seemingly endless numbers. Perhaps this book by Gallas had limited circulation?
- Tharstan: I would be interested in purchasing the book from you.
- Wulf: I am building a collection which I will donate for public use at a later stage. So sorry, the book is not for sale.
- Tharstan: Then, please, recite the relevant passages for us.
I closed my eyes, delved into my memories and read the passage out loud as if it was in my hands.
“One of the more intriguing legends found on the island of Solstheim is the story of a mythical figure whose name is long forgotten, but whom time remembers as ‘The Traitor.’
Confident that this myth is rooted in history, I learned what I could and perhaps piece together a presumptive account of the events that gave rise to the legend.
The tale is remembered best by the shamans of the Skaal, that unique tribe of Nords whose culture evolved along an entirely divergent path than that of their brethren in Skyrim.
I spoke at length to Skaal Village’s shaman, a wise and hospitable man named Breigr Winter-Moon. He described an age long ago when dragons ruled over the whole world and were worshipped as gods by men. Presiding over this cult of dragon-worshippers were the Dragon Priests, powerful mages who could speak the dragon language and call upon the power of the Thu’um, or Voice.
According to the legend, one such Dragon Priest was seduced by a dark spirit named Herma-Mora, an unmistakable analogue for the Daedric prince Hermaeus Mora. Lured by promises of power, this treacherous priest secretly plotted against his dragon masters.
One of his contemporaries discovered the Traitor’s plot, another Dragon Priest who legend named The Guardian. The two fought a mighty battle that lasted for days, each hurling terrible arcane energy and Thu’um shouts at the other.
Great and terrible forces were unleashed in this contest, causing Solstheim to be sundered from the mainland of Skyrim. Here, the myth clearly descends into the realm of pure fantasy.
The Guardian, whom the legend presents as a paragon of loyalty and nobility, finally defeats the despicable Traitor, who seems to represent all that is corrupt and evil in men. Their epic duel is clearly representative of a greater struggle between good and evil. Perhaps it is this timeless quality that has kept the tale alive for so long.
Unlike many similar myths, The Guardian and The Traitor’s tale does not feature a suitably heroic ending. Herma-Mora snatches The Traitor away just as The Guardian is about to strike the killing blow.
The dragons appoint The Guardian ruler of Solstheim, but not before he is compelled to swear an oath of vigilance to watch for The Traitor’s return. By all accounts, his reign is a time of peace and prosperity for the island’s people, and he is remembered as a wise and just leader.
No further mention is made of The Traitor, but neither is he thought to be dead. The legend ends on a cautionary note that the people of Solstheim, the heirs of The Guardian, must remain wary, lest the dark influence of Herma-Mora, or even The Traitor himself, return someday.
Although no physical clues exist now on Solstheim to suggest the presence of the dragon cult, is it hardly difficult to believe that it might once have flourished here. Perhaps some hidden tomb still waits to be discovered that will tell the truth of the tale.
There are other tantalising clues, though perhaps these connections strain the bounds of credibility. For example, is it possible that the Skaal deity, the All-Maker, is some distant echo of mighty Alduin, the World-Eater of the ancient Nord pantheon?
Perhaps not, but one thing is certain: Solstheim’s history is riddled with unanswered questions. Perhaps future generations will pull aside the veils of mystery. The truth about the origins of the Skaal and the identities of The Guardian and The Traitor may be revealed.”
- Wulf: Gallas must have been blind. There is much evidence of Dragon worship on Solstheim, including that colossal temple not far from here. Vahlok is The Guardian. The Traitor is Miraak.
- Rigmor: The book suggests Vahlok was a good leader of his people who brought peace and prosperity.
- Wulf: Dov and mortal lived together peacefully. Mortals were content and showed Dov respect which was all my half-kin demanded from them until Alduin’s influence changed the dynamics. What Nirn was like before Alduin corrupted the Dov is rarely described, so the story of Vahlok is worth preserving for that reason.
- Tharstan: If Vahlok was benevolent, does that mean there is no danger if we disturb his tomb?
- Wulf: There is a lot of danger involved! Powerful Draugr will be guarding him, and Alduin corrupted Vahlok and he is now a Lich. Also, some of Gallas’ suppositions are demonstrably wrong so we must be careful with the rest of his ‘facts’. It would have been good to speak to Storn about this.
- Tharstan: I often put myself at risk in the pursuit of knowledge. If you are going to investigate Vahlok’s tomb, I would like to accompany you.
- Wulf: You would need to do as told. Run ahead of us just once, and I will have you carried out then tied up at the entrance until we have finished.
- Rigmor: The General and his companions defeated Alduin. The General defeated Miraak yesterday. You can’t possibly add to their fighting ability, and even a single Draugr could slaughter you easily.
- Tharstan: Then I vow I will do as told and curb my enthusiasm.
- Wulf: We are investigating another piece of Solstheim history. Therefore, we will meet you there later today or sometime early tomorrow. I advise strongly that you do not go further into the tomb or even touch anything. You do not want to let loose whatever is trapped inside.
- Tharstan: What other parts of Solstheim history are you investigating?
- Wulf: Haknir Death-Brand.
- Tharstan: Erika’s parents were murdered while investigating Haknir! She told me you would be taking her back to Skyrim.
- Rigmor: Justice for her parents is one reason we are investigating the myth of the buried treasure.
- Wulf: The other reason is we wanted to go crawling through ancient tombs for the fun of it. We are always on some mission or another when we do so usually.
- Lydia: Yes, let’s fight bandits and horrors untold for fun!
- Inigo: Lydia, there could be giant spiders! Don’t you enjoy the sound they make when you hit them with your sword?
- Jordis: Riekling death gurgles are entertaining as well!
Tharstan stared at my companions as if they were insane. They stared back with grins on their faces, and the old scholar shuddered.
- Rigmor: Tharstan, how long have you been living amongst the Skaal?
- Tharstan: Well, let me think… I suppose it’s been nearly a year now. My goodness, how the time has flown!
- Rigmor: I am sure they are happy to share their history and beliefs with you.
- Tharstan: They think I’m a bit strange, but they seem to tolerate me. They’ve been very accommodating. Hospitable, even. And yes, they seem happy to talk about their traditions and history.
- Wulf: Remember my warning. Do not touch anything, even to clear away dust or cobwebs.
- Tharstan: I promise I won’t. I am too old and slow to run from Draugr!
Tharstan walked away, mumbling to himself. We exited the village and headed for Haknir’s Shoal.
Just outside the village, Rigmor asked, “The coincidence does not even slightly perturb you, does it?”
“What coincidence would that be, my beloved?
“Thousands of years ago, The Guardian defeated Miraak. Yesterday, a different Guardian defeated Miraak.”
“Throughout history, many individuals were given the title of Guardian. Vahlok was not The Guardian until after he defeated Miraak. I was The Guardian before I defeated Miraak. The similarities are superficial and easily explained. He was also called Vahlok the Jailor after he sealed Miraak’s tomb.”
“It must be boring to be logical all the time.”
“I rejoice in the illogic of you loving me!”
“What about the part claiming the battle caused Solstheim to break off from the mainland?”
“Let me guess, a synonym for bullshit.”
“Ah, you speak gooder every day.”
We quietly approached Haknir’s Shoal then observed the bandit camp for a few minutes.
I told my companions, “To make sure they are not very nice people, I will go up and have a chat before the slaughter begins.”
The others stayed behind as I snuck into the camp.
I didn’t even have to make myself invisible to creep up close because they were huddled around a fire and effectively night blind even though it was approaching noon. I said, “Excuse me. I am looking for those who murdered Erika’s parents.”
They attacked and died. A mage was particularly surprised when I threw him many yards with Unrelenting Force and Meeko ripped his throat open.
Upon the leader, I found a map and a copy of a book titled ‘Deathbrand’. I was already carrying a copy and read the relevant parts to my companions.
“Haknir Death-Brand was dying.
For Garuk Windrime, ship’s quartermaster, it was unthinkable. His grandfather had served under Haknir, nigh on sixty years before, and even then, he was a legend among pirates of the north. ‘The King of Ghosts,’ they called him, as eternal and pitiless as the sea he sailed. To Garuk, who had seen him charge into battle, clad in armour made from gleaming Stalhrim like the kings of old, his twin swords scything men like grass, Haknir was practically a god.
But none feared Haknir more than his crew. They knew his rages, his fits of madness, how he delighted in torture and murder for its own sake. And there were even darker rumours: Some said he fed upon the blood and souls of those he killed to extend his unnatural life. Some thought him a Daedra, loosed upon the mortal world. And others said he owed his life and power, his armour and swords, to a pact with Dagon, prince of destruction. And the seal of that pact was the terrible wound that scarred his face, never to heal – the Deathbrand, which no man could look upon without flinching.
All these things ran through Garuk’s mind as he took his place on deck at the head of the crew, exchanging a curt nod with Thalin, the ship’s helmsman and his chief rival. By sundown, he thought, one of them would be captain. The other would be dead.
When Haknir finally emerged from his cabin, the crew fell silent. He looked frail; his voice raspy. But even so, he had a presence about him. As he looked over his men, the most brutal murderers ever to ply the northern seas, not one could meet his gaze. At last, he sighed.
‘You wish to know who will by my successor, and how my share of the treasure shall be divided.’
That was the question, but even so, there were murmurs of protest. Haknir cut them off.
‘All these years, I have looked for one who was worthy of taking my place, or strong enough to take it from me. Not one of your even comes close. And so, none of you shall have it.’
He extended his hand. ‘In Dagon’s name, I place a curse upon my armour and my swords. As well as this ship, and all it carries. Until the day when one of you can best me in combat, you shall have not a single coin.’ He looked up at them. ‘Be grateful I have left you with your lives.’
Garuk and Thalin shared a single glance. Had anyone else said such a thing, there would have been a mutiny. It would have been a hundred treasure-mad pirates against one old man. But this was Haknir, so the crew was silent.
Haknir threw a map at Garuk’s feet. ‘Garuk, take a longboat and bury my armour in the places I have marked. Thalin, we sail to my tomb, where you shall leave me with my gold. Then burn your ships, and do as you will. I am your captain no more.’ And with that, he turned and stalked back to his quarters.
Garuk took his leave at daybreak and set out in a longboat with three of his men. They landed on a shoal to the north of Solstheim, at the place Haknir had marked, made camp, and began to dig. But already, greed stirred in Garuk’s heart. Time and again, he glanced at the iron-bound chest they had brought with them. The old man was gone, perhaps already dead. His orders, foolish.
That night, Garuk pried open the chest and drew out the helm within. The Stalhrim shimmered in the moonlight. It was time for a new King of Ghosts to rise. He placed the helmet on his head.
And he screamed.
And it is said you can hear that screaming still, on moonlit nights, on a rocky shoal off the northern coast of Solstheim.
Postscript- This story is one of the last in the ‘Haknir Saga,’ the tales surrounding the legendary pirate king Haknir Death-Brand’s life and adventures. How much of it is true, if indeed any of it is true, I leave to the reader’s discretion.
– Artise Dralen
House Redoran Scribe”
- Inigo: Are we dealing with Dagon?
- Wulf: No, but some dweomer he left behind might cause us issues.
- Rigmor: Are we looking for Haknir’s armour and wherever he is buried with his gold?
- Wulf: Yes, and I would say the rest of the murderers are scattered over Solstheim following maps like the one this bandit had. I think Erika’s parents drew the original.
I handed the map to Rigmor. She had a close look then it passed from person to person.
I walked over to an exposed but still locked chest.
- Wulf: I think they were afraid of a potential curse or dweomer and were too chicken to open the chest.
- Rigmor: You can’t detect Daedric dweomer, so if something from Dagon was placed on or in that chest you would not know.
- Wulf: But I am going to open it anyway, so please stand back.
- Lydia: The book doesn’t mention any harm happening till Garuk wore the helmet.
- Wulf: I don’t intend to wear the helm or any other part of the armour.
- Rigmor: I doubt it would fit over your head anyway.
- Wulf: I love you too!
I waited till my companions moved at least fifteen feet away then picked the lock.
I opened the chest, and no spell was triggered. I removed the Deathbrand Helm.
It was the first Stalhrim armour I have ever held, and I was amazed by how light it felt. I detected a dweomer that allows the wearer to breathe underwater. It was the same dweomer I placed on all our armours. If there were also Deadric dweomer, I did not know. I handed the helm to Lydia to carry.
Meeko growled then barked. As the rest of us were drawing our weapons and peering through the snow, trying to see the danger, he dived into the water.
With Impressive dog-paddling speed, Meeko reached the shore then leapt upon a Riekling.
As he quickly dispatched that one another Riekling threw some spears with more than one embedding themselves in Meeko. The four-legged warrior didn’t seem to care and leapt on his attacker ripping the throat out of that Riekling as well.
We rushed over to Meeko then I healed him.
- Wulf: Meeko, warn us then point to the danger instead of running ahead like that. You are not immortal.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Rigmor: They say that dogs take after their masters.
- Wulf: I am not his master. I am his friend, and I don’t want him getting badly hurt or killed.
- Inigo: The Riekling are deadly accurate with their spears. He decided that it was better to charge at them as quickly as possible and not wait for the rest of us.
- Wulf: I could have cast Fireballs. I could have used Whirlwind Sprint.
- Rigmor: Remember the blue entity that appeared and saved him the other day?
- Lydia: You never did get to the bottom of the blue light that enveloped Rigmor when she was slammed against the wall by a Draugr’s Thu’um. Perhaps we have a Guardian Angel looking after us?
- Inigo: Meeko has been in the middle of countless melees, some with dozens of combatants in a crowded space, and he rarely gets injured.
- Wulf: I just don’t want anybody else dying!
- Jordis: Storn’s death was not your fault!
- Rigmor: You used to worry about me recklessly rushing into battle.
- Wulf: I was concerned about how you fought. Back then, you never worried about defence. It almost got you killed before you heeded my advice.
- Rigmor: You showed me there were things worth living for as well as people who depended on me. That was the difference.
- Inigo: More than one of us has found purpose when travelling with you, my friend.
- Rigmor: Where next, my beautiful Dragonborn?
- Wulf: We head northwest and follow the shoreline. The next part of the armour is south of where the Thalmor were docked. Not far past the Riekling village.
I turned back to Meeko, who cocked his head sideways and grinned. I gave him a good pat then started walking.
We passed a cave that was marked as Riekling territory. None of it occupants came out to harras us, so we left it alone.
We encountered two hunters tackling a large Horker. In the distance was a boar marked by Kyne. I brought it down with a single arrow.
One of the hunters approached us.
- Morsa: Why is the boar glowing?
- Wulf: What is your name?
- Morsa: I am Morsa Hearth-Fur. The man staring at the boar is my husband, Rusla.
- Wulf: It is a normal boar marked by the All Maker to test my skill. You are welcome to it.
- Morsa: We can’t take glowing green meat back to the village!
- Rigmor: The green glow will soon go, and you will see that it is just a normal boar.
- Morsa: General Valdr shot it from this distance?
- Inigo: He is the most skilled archer I have ever seen.
- Morsa: A Khajiit! We do not see many of your people on Solstheim but enough for me to know that your colour is not common.
- Inigo: I am unique.
- Mora: I am sure the All Maker has his reasons for the colour.
- Inigo: The Khajiit are the most handsome of people. It just makes me more handsome, and therefore, logically, I am the handsomest person alive.
- Lydia: He is undeniably one of the smelliest.
- Wulf: When such a glowing animal appears, I only have a few seconds to respond before the animal returns to normal. I am rewarded with more power next time I pray if I take down the prey in those few seconds.
- Morsa: We thank you for the boar. Nothing will go to waste as we use all parts of what we kill.
- Rigmor: We admire that principle but, in a place of plenty, waste is a result of laziness, not ignorance of the All Maker’s teachings.
- Morsa: Walk with the All Maker, Skaal Friends.
- Rigmor: Talos guide you.
As we approached the jetty, there was no sign of the Thalmor boat. Some local bandits are probably trying their hand at smuggling. Maybe experience the life of pirates thanks to a generous donation by the Aldmeri Dominion.
I stopped to empty my bladder, which is not a pleasant task in the cold, but thankfully I don’t have to drop my breaches like the ladies.
The others kept moving towards the jetty. I heard Rigmor yell out, “Take that, you sneaky bastards!” Rigmor had stood upon a concealed Mud Crab, and it was silly enough to attack.
When I got to the jetty, I saw several victims of Rigmor’s anger had been cleaved in two.
As we approached the Riekling village coyotes feeding on the dead stood arrogantly over their frozen meals. I think we wiped out the entire village after they unnecessarily attacked us last time we visited.
As indicated by the map, we soon came upon an unearthed but locked chest. There were no signs of bandits.
A few Mud Crabs attacked us but were quickly dispatched.
- Rigmor: Where are the bandits?
- Wulf: I have no idea. Maybe something scared them away?
- Inigo: The same procedure?
- Wulf: Yes, stand back at least fifteen feet just in case.
The others moved away while I picked the lock and opened the chest.
Inside were the Deathbrand Gauntlets. The dweomer on them significantly increased damage when dual-wielding. I knew what the dweomer did but not how to enchant items with it. I will have to carefully study the gauntlets to try and figure out how that is done. As with the helm, I have no idea if there were additional Daedric dweomer upon them. I gave them to Jordis to carry.
Jordis said, “If I remember the map, the next one is south, not far from the Earth Stone.”
I replied, “Yes. Not far from there.”
As we walked towards the next point on the map, Kyne marked a Bull Netch. I brought it down and collected the leather for Olette. Some nearby wolves waited to make a meal of the rest of the carcass.
A bit further along, I picked up a red horn shell.
“Are you collecting them?” asked Jordis.
“Yes, I find the variety and colour fascinating. I am sure I can make an interesting display of the many shells I have already found. My memory makes sure I won’t have duplicates.”
“Rigmor is right. You are a big softy!”
The gritty grey snow was falling heavily. Since it was mostly ash, it melted quickly and coated everything with the dull grey dust of Red Mountain.
Most boars we pass let us be. Sometimes one attacks for no reason and dies needlessly.
It was easy to spot the next group of bandits. It seemed that one of them, a Legion deserter, had earned the wrath of the others. He showed the rank of captain and was putting his Legion training to good use. The other bandits were finding it hard to bring him down.
We disposed of a spell caster.
Then we joined the melee.
I concentrated on the Legionnaire. Before cutting him down, I said, “I am General Valdr and find you guilty of desertion and banditry. I sentence you to death.”
The other bandits fell quickly to my friends’ onslaught.
At the location of the next chest, we witnessed bandits having difficulty with a wild boar.
A Spellsword finally managed to bring it down.
I said to him, “I bet that boar was harder to kill than Erika’s parents.”
He turned to fight, so I blew him across the beach with Unrelenting Force.
Then I ran and almost cut him in half before he had a chance to stand.
Another bandit fell to a mighty blow from Rigmor.
My friends and beloved stepped back while I picked the lock and opened the chest.
Inside was the Deathbrand Armour. It has a very strong dweomer to increase the wearer’s stamina significantly and perhaps unknown Daedric additions.
It was just before 6:00 PM when we entered Raven Rock.
Elder Othreloth saw us and came over to talk.
- Othreloth: Some Skaal hunters passed through this morning and left behind stories of you confronting another Dragonborn in Oblivion. They also said a demon killed their shaman.
- Wulf: The ‘demon’ was Hermaeus Mora. And yes, I went to Apocrypha to battle a rogue Dragonborn.
- Rigmor: You don’t remember us asking you about Miraak, do you?
- Othreloth: No, but we all now know he was controlling us via the Earth Stone and you stopped that.
- Wulf: The only way to stop Miraak trying the same thing again was to kill him. Storn, the Skaal Shaman, was killed by Hermaeus Mora when helping me.
- Othreloth: Did The Tribunal aid in this?
- Wulf: I used the Magicka of Magnus, the Thu’um of Kyne and my swordsmanship to defeat Miraak. No help from Boethia or Azura was needed in this instance.
- Othreloth: Once again, we are in your debt. May Azura, Mephala and Boethia guide you.
- Wulf: May The Divines bless you.
Visibility was still low as we left Raven Rock.
- Rigmor: The last place marked on the map is near Tel Mithryn. Are we stopping to say hello to Master Neloth and tell him about Miraak?
- Wulf: You just want another turn on the Telvanni lift.
- Lydia: Rigmor, you would love the ones at Silverpeak Lodge. There are two, and they both only go up.
- Rigmor: You have to climb down boring stairs?
- Jordis: No, one of them takes you up high so you can jump and land in the mineral pool below.
- Rigmor: How high?
- Jordis: About the same height as the waterfall that we went over.
- Rigmor: Lydia, have you been too chicken to jump?
- Lydia: I can see the bottom and know there is a dweomer to stop us from hurting ourselves when we hit the water. I find it fun and not the same as being swept by a river over a cliff edge.
- Rigmor: And the other lift?
- Lydia: It takes you back to the level where you started.
- Inigo: I can imagine Rigmor getting dizzy as she uses one lift, jumps and then runs over to the other lift so the cycle repeats.
- Rigmor: So, my darling Wulf, are we stopping at Master Neloth’s?
- Wulf: Yes, but don’t expect any thanks for saving his bacon.
- Rigmor: What bacon?
- Wulf: It means to rescue somebody from a terrible fate.
- Rigmor: What has bacon got to do with it?
- Wulf: Colloquialisms do not have to make sense.
- Rigmor: Is that why you know so many?
- Wulf: Ouch!
- Rigmor: Did that hurt? Show me where and I will kiss it better.
- Wulf: Right on my gluteus maximus.
- Rigmor: I have no idea where that is!
- Wulf: I’ll show you later.
Rigmor smiled, and the others laughed as we continued towards Tel Mithryn.
A single bandit came running over the crest of a hill. Meeko knew he was coming, ran ahead and knocked him to the ground.
My friends then peppered the bandit with arrows before closing in for the kill.
I still do not understand why bandits attack when they have no hope of achieving anything but their death.
There were no more encounters on the way to Tel Mithryn. We made our way into Master Neloth’s laboratory.
- Neloth: Hold still. Let me get a good look at you.
- Wulf: And what do you hope to find?
- Neloth: Incipient madness. Loss of self-awareness. Black spots in the white of the eyes. Any of the documented indications of Hermaeus Mora’s permanent influence.
I smiled and brought forth my Dovah. Neloth looked into my eyes, gasped then stepped back while preparing a ward spell. He stopped when he heard my laughter.
- Wulf: You might not have a sense of humour, but you provide entertainment for us that do.
- Rigmor: We have already explained to you what General Valdr has faced in the past. Did you not listen?
- Neloth: I was not worried about the Dragonborn but merely interested. I don’t get to observe many people who’ve spoken to Hermaeus Mora.
- Wulf: Well, your research is wrong, anyway. The Hermaeus Mora thrall I know shows none of those symptoms. His behaviour is very similar to yours.
- Inigo: The Wizard doesn’t do humour.
- Wulf: I was stating a fact. Maybe Neloth does not remember reading his Black Book?
- Neloth: Nonsense, I would remember.
- Wulf: No, you wouldn’t! Stop lying to yourself. Can you remember asking me to say hello to Mora for you? Does that not suggest the Dark Lord knows who you are?
- Neloth: That is an interesting if somewhat disturbing hypothesis. Now, why are you here? If it is another Black Book you are searching for, then it is a wasted trip. I have not yet divined the location of one.
- Rigmor: We thought you would want to know what happened with Miraak.
- Neloth: Who? Oh, him! Well, I assume General Valdr killed him. Or Hermaeus Mora turned on Miraak when the General looked like the winning bet. Or a bit of both. Miraak’s influence has vanished from Solstheim, so I assumed you had handled things. Why would I want the details? Did something interesting happen?
- Inigo: The Dragonborn said you would not be very grateful.
- Neloth: I don’t recall asking anybody to kill Miraak. That was your project. I’m not even mentioning the fact that now we’ll never know what would have happened when Miraak returned. Although… from all indications he could have proved a serious nuisance. So, yes, I am grateful you dealt with Miraak.
- Inigo: That almost sounded like you meant it.
- Neloth: Well, that is what you hero types do, isn’t it? I wasn’t expecting anything less. At least you are not as annoying as the Nerevarine.
- Wulf: The Nerevarine was tasked with killing you and several other Councillors by the Mages Guild and reported his success at doing so. It appears you outsmarted that particular hero.
- Neloth: I will be forever indebted to my Mouth at the time, Arara Uvalas. She made the ultimate sacrifice so I could escape to Solstheim.
- Rigmor: What is a Mouth?
- Wulf: Instead of attending boring meetings and risk political assassination, the Councillors use others who speak with their authority. They are called Mouths. House Telvanni tends to use them more than the other Great Houses.
- Neloth: For security, yes, but we also have more important things to do, like study belly button fluff.
- Wulf: Careful Master Neloth, that was almost funny.
- Neloth: It was? I wouldn’t know.
- Wulf: Lady Azura must have wanted you to survive as she did not tell the Nerevarine of your deception.
- Neloth: You know as well as I that she is not omnipotent.
- Wulf: But her seers would have told her eventually.
- Neloth: The Mages Guild got what they wanted. My death was no longer needed.
- Wulf: Fair point.
- Neloth: Have you seen Verona? I’m hungry.
- Wulf: No, Verona was not outside when we reached Tel Mithryn.
- Neloth: Well, find her! Tell her I want Apple Cabbage Stew, with some canis root tea.
- Wulf: Apple Cabbage Stew? You are insane!
- Lydia: Master Neloth has superb taste in cuisine!
- Neloth: Well said. If Verona is not around you can make me some.
- Lydia: Make you own!
- Neloth: What? Make my own? I am a Master Wizard of the House Telvanni. Other people make tea and stew for me.
- Lydia: I am not your servant!
- Neloth: Obviously not, or you would have a cup of tea in your hand and be preparing the stew.
- Wulf: You are speaking to people of noble rank. But even if we were beggars, we would deserve and rightfully expect manners!
- Neloth: I suppose you want to be asked nicely? Very well. Please, oh hero of Skyrim. Please find Varona. I shall be ever so grateful.
- Wulf: I suppose we could spend a couple of minutes looking for her so the mighty Neloth can continue his research into belly button fluff without interruption.
- Neloth: Have you have read my three books on that subject?
- Wulf: I was unaware such things existed. I will put them on my list of things never to read.
- Neloth: Then, you will remain ignorant of why it is always blue!
- Wulf: I assume for the same reason boogers are nearly always green.
- Neloth: That is another area of research I must consider. Would you like to donate a sample so I can start my preliminary studies?
- Wulf: And miss out on lunch?
- Rigmor: Eww!
- Wulf: Yum… chewy!
- Inigo: It is far more pleasant than Apple Cabbage Stew.
- Lydia: Says the blue thing that washes his nether regions with his tongue.
- Inigo: Jealous that I can reach?
- Rigmor: Let us look for Varona before this conversation degrades even more.
- Neloth: Fascinating dynamics you have going. I could study you all for hours.
Neloth left us and started talking to a Spriggan he had caged. Rigmor asked, “Are you worried about Varona?”
“Yes. I can tell that Varona has some skills in Magicka, but you have experienced how dangerous the Solstheim countryside is.”
“All that about Neloth and Mora. Were you serious?”
“Absolutely! Neloth would be a prime candidate to fall into Mora’s trap, and he did tell me to say hello to him.”
“Yes, I thought that was odd at the time. Why would Mora care if he didn’t know who Neloth was?”
“Master Neloth pursues knowledge with an insatiable appetite. I have no doubt he has hired others to do immoral things such as burglary or even murder in his pursuit of knowledge. That was probably part of the reason the Mages Guild wanted him eliminated. But I don’t think he would be capable of doing such things himself.”
“You are a better judge of character than I. I find his arrogance amusing, unlike our Thalmor friends.”
“I did read a history of Solstheim that says he sheltered many people here during the Red Mountain eruption. I will keep an eye on him and see if he is under Mora’s influence.”
When we exited Neloth’s, a panicked Talvas ran from an Ash Guardian standing menacingly in the middle of Tel Mithryn.
- Talvas: You’ve got to help me! I conjured an Ash Guardian, and now it’s running amok.
- Wulf: Calm down and explain to us what happened.
- Talvas: Master Neloth refused to teach me the Conjure Ash Guardian spell, so I read his spellbook on my own and learned it. Something went wrong when I cast it. The creature is attacking everything in sight.
- Wulf: Hand me the spellbook.
- Talvas: What? Can’t you just kill the thing?
- Lydia: Hand General Valdr the tome before I knock you out!
Talvas took one look at Lydia and instantly knew she was not bluffing. He handed me the spell which was relatively straightforward except for a requirement needed by weaker spellcasters.
- Wulf: Do you have a Heart Stone? If your Conjuration skill is not high enough, one is needed to control the summoned Ash Guardian.
- Talvas: No, I thought I was strong enough.
- Rigmor: We shall take care of it. Keep out of our way.
- Talvas: I will go and distract Master Neloth. If he comes down and sees what I have done, I will be sent home in disgrace.
The Ash Guardian was relatively weak and took not much effort to destroy.
We headed back inside the mushroom to speak to Talvas:
- Wulf: The Ash Guardian is dead.
- Talvas: What a relief. Master Neloth surely would have punished me had he found out. I can’t pay you, but I could teach you the Ash Guardian spell… although maybe that doesn’t sound like a good idea to you after this. I do have a staff I could give you instead.
- Wulf: I already know the spell, and we require no payment for helping you.
- Talvas: You know it from that quick reading? I have been trying for days to cast it!
- Rigmor: The General is annoying like that.
- Wulf: Talvas, you have a lot of Magicka and therefore, potential. If I were you, I would leave Master Neloth and attend the College of Winterhold instead. There you will be taught under strict supervision and not treated as a test subject or servant.
- Talvas: Leave Master Neloth? But the honour…
- Wulf: The honour will get you killed.
- Rigmor: Talvas, listen to the General’s advice.
- Wulf: Master Neloth had taken centuries to accumulate his knowledge. He won’t submit to your eagerness to learn, and you will risk your life by trying to progress faster than he wants you to. Go to Winterhold.
- Talvas: I will have to think about it. My family would not be happy with me if I did as you suggest.
- Rigmor: Would they be happier if you died due to lack of proper training?
- Talvas: No, that would devastate my parents.
- Rigmor: Then think about what is best. Now, have you seen Varona?
- Talvas: Not recently. Neloth keeps me very busy with spell research. Ask Elynea. She and Verona seem to be quite friendly.
We left Talvas mumbling to himself as he pondered his future.
We decided to head for the kitchen rather than the apothecary as that is where Varona would be if Apple Cabbage Stew was being prepared. As we walked, I said, “Many young mages get in trouble when they do not have the discipline to take the smaller steps. Unless Master Neloth pays more attention and helps temper Talvas’ eagerness, then his apprentice is doomed.”
Jordis asked, “But don’t College of Winterhold students also get hurt by progressing too quickly?”
“Yes, but they at least try very hard to instil the need for patience amongst the young mages.”
“Celestine told me she lost friends who pursued knowledge recklessly.”
“Hermaeus Mora preys on such people. Mages do not have to be young to reach beyond their abilities. It is a temptation all mages must guard against. At least with the other Schools of Magicka, you only risk death. Those who dabble in Necromancy risk far more.”
We entered the kitchen and Ulves, the Tel Mithryn cook, confronted us.
- Ulves: I hope you’re not expecting a meal. I’ve barely got enough for them that live here.
- Wulf: Hello, Ulves, my name is General Valdr.
- Jordis: It seems manners are in short supply in Tel Mithryn.
- Ulves: Forgive my mood and disrespect. I still can’t figure out why I was working on that damned pillar, which is disturbing, but I know you stopped whatever was causing such behaviour.
- Wulf: We are looking for Verona. Have you seen her?
- Ulves: That is why I am in a bad mood. It is dinner time, and she has not returned from Raven Rock with the required supplies, including cabbages and apples. Master Neloth is not one for excuses. Even less so when hungry.
- Rigmor: Verona travels to and from Raven Rock by herself?
- Ulves: Yes. She has complained about how that is not as straight forward as it used to be. It would only cost a few coins to have what we need delivered and not risk the trip.
- Wulf: We shall immediately go and look for her. Maybe she is simply delayed.
- Ulves: Azura light your steps.
- Rigmor: Divines Bless You.
When we stepped outside, I enabled my Night Vision and received an instant headache for my trouble. I needed to use it more often to overcome that limitation. I used it till the pain was distracting, then I gave it a rest. I had been doing this for several days as we walked around Solstheim.
We walked past Dusty the Silt Strider who was calling for her kind even in her sleep. Some effort needs to be made by the Dunmer to prevent their extinction. It is not right to stand and watch such magnificent creatures vanish from Nirn.
We followed the logical route Verona would take to get to Raven Rock. Not far past Dusty, we were attacked by several Ash Spawn.
As the last of them fell to Inigo’s superb dual sword fighting technique, Meeko let out a howl and rushed into some long grass. He lay down whimpering.
Rigmor rushed to him then called me over.
Thinking Meeko was hurt, I used Night Vision and ran to see what the problem was.
Meeko had found Verona, and although he hardly knew her, he was distressed at an innocent’s death. Rigmor was kneeling to examine her and stood when I approached.
- Rigmor: Wulf, Verona is dead.
- Wulf: She was a mage of some skill. Neloth probably thought she would be safe travelling to and from Raven Rock. Still, it was an unnecessary risk.
- Rigmor: That uncaring bastard!
- Wulf: Verona was not Master Neloth’s slave or indentured servant. If she decided to walk to and from Raven Rock, it was her decision. She more than likely enjoyed the time she got to spend with other Dunmer.
- Rigmor: Sometimes, you are too forgiving!
- Wulf: No, I am far from that, and you know it! I try and understand the dynamics of why something happens rather than rush to conclusions. It is a skill you need to perfect.
- Rigmor: You are right. Freathof often gives me hypothetical scenarios. We discuss my solution and determine if it was the correct one. He has also stressed that it is too easy to judge others by your societies standards rather than consider theirs.
- Wulf: Neloth’s arrogance is a product of his upbringing and the politics of his country. Underneath is an honourable person as demonstrated when he saved many of his countrymen of all ranks and Great Houses when Red Mountain erupted. Azura did not forewarn him as those who fled to Skyrim were.
- Rigmor: We are not leaving Verona here!
- Wulf: I have no intention of leaving her to the wildlife of Solstheim. I will carry her back to Tel Mithryn.
I hefted Verona over my shoulder. She was not burnt, but I had no doubt the Ash Spawn killed her. Their blows are strong enough to kill the unarmoured.
Master Neloth watched when I appeared with Verona and lay her on a bedroll.
He then approached us, and his face was solemn. He was not as heartless as he seemed on occasion.
- Neloth: What killed her?
- Wulf: Ash spawn.
- Neloth: There are more and more of those things showing up around here lately.
- Rigmor: Why was Verona travelling to Raven Rock by herself? The Ash Spawn are the least dangerous thing we have encountered. The large numbers of bandits provide a far greater threat.
- Neloth: Verona insisted. She has friends in Raven Rock, including a lover I do believe.
- Wulf: Does she have a family tomb on Solstheim.
- Neloth: Not all of us follow the ways of the Ashlanders. Tel Mithryn has its own cemetery nearby where she will be buried, which was her preference. There are many friends and colleagues I have placed to rest there.
- Rigmor: Was Verona with you for long?
- Neloth: She lived in the Cave of Assumanu and was a well-respected Sorceress before The Red Year’s events. She helped me save many of our people in the days after Baar Dua fell from the sky. She stayed with me and volunteered to be my steward for reasons I could never fathom.
- Rigmor: That is a long time. I am so very sorry for your loss.
- Neloth: Yes, but do not think me heartless if I ask a favour.
- Rigmor: You need a replacement steward. Even before you bury Verona, this is of concern to you?
- Neloth: I will miss Verona and mourn her. But I am a Master Wizard of House Telvanni. I need a steward to do those things that I am too busy and, ashamedly, unschooled to do myself.
- Rigmor: General Valdr lectured me on the dangers of judging others based on our society’s norms. Therefore, we will ask around next time we visit Raven Rock rather than tell you to get off your privileged arse and find one yourself.
- Neloth: Once word gets out, there will be a lot of people from which to choose.
- Wulf: Really?
- Neloth: Of course. They are in awe of me in Raven Rock. I’m sure almost anyone would be willing to serve me.
- Wulf: I would think most of the Raven Rock citizens are of House Redoran and therefore regard you with suspicion if not contempt.
- Neloth: They will be queuing up, you will see!
We exited the giant mushroom and headed for the last place marked on the treasure map which was on a beach below cliffs behind Tel Mithryn.
We were approaching the cliff quietly when screaming came from below. We ran the rest of the way to the cliff’s edge.
The others could see the familiar glow of Ash Spawn. My night vision revealed two dead bandits and an uncovered treasure chest.
I blasted the Ash Spawn with lightening before we clambered down the cliff.
- Rigmor: The search for Haknir’s treasure has not gone well for the murderers!
- Wulf: We still do not know where the main horde is. The armour is valuable, but I think the entirety of the treasure will be worth many times more.
- Inigo: Let us hope there is a clue to where that is.
I searched the dead and found a map that showed the motherlode’s location.
- Wulf: Last stop is Gyldenhul Barrow. It is on a small island directly east of Skaal Village.
- Lydia: Do you think there will be many bandits there?
- Wulf: I don’t know. If they can’t get inside, they may be waiting outside the barrow to see what is found along with the armour pieces.
- Jordis: Perhaps the armour pieces are needed to gain entry to the barrow?
My companions stood back as I opened the chest. Inside were the Deathbrand Boots which had dweomer to increase your strength. As with the other pieces, there may also have been Daedric dweomer.
Inside the right boot was a key which we assumed allowed entrance to the barrow.
We had no encounters as we made our way to a beach east of Skaal Village. I used Dragon Sight to outline a large number of bandits milling around the entrance of Gyldenhul Barrow.
We crept closer, and I switched to Night Vision.
Although several bandits were looking in our direction, they had no hope of seeing us while they appeared as if it was midday to me.
From out of the dark, powerful fireballs rushed towards them, and they all perished screaming in terror and pain.
Dragon Sight showed no living soul remained.
We swam to the island and found Werewolves amongst the piles of charred bodies.
We gathered at the barrow’s entrance then I said, “So far we have found nothing that endangers us when searching for the armour. The main treasure horde may be a different matter. Please, be on your guard.”
The key unlocked the doors. I inspected the lock, and it was not sophisticated. A half-competent thief could have picked it. A smart thief could have moulded a key and wax residue hinted somebody had tried precisely that.
Just inside the barrow was a deceased treasure hunter. He had not been dead long, and I could not find any wound or apparent cause of death.
In his right hand were a crumpled note and a key. To his left was a pickaxe. I read the note out loud,
“‘The single richest treasure trove in all of Solstheim’ they said. Bah! It looks like this place was cleaned out centuries ago. The Stalhrim might be worth something, but my pickaxe ain’t even good enough to chip it.
Still, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something I’m missing. There’s an odd draft in this room – secret passage, maybe?
I’ve locked myself in until those bandits are good and gone. I suppose I’ll keep looking. Not much else I can do.”
- Rigmor: What killed him?
- Wulf: Maybe his heart gave way when he was using his pickaxe?
- Inigo: From where did he get the key?
- Wulf: When Inspecting the lock, I found wax residue.
- Inigo: He made a mold of the inside of the lock. That works with primitive mechanisms but not those that hide the tumblers till you start to turn the chamber.
- Wulf: It was not a complicated lock. I think the old pirate was relying on fear more than physical barriers to keep his treasure safe.
- Rigmor: I can feel a breeze. It is coming from the sides of the Stalhrim. There is a passage behind it!
- Lydia: It seems you can watch Wulf hard at work again, Countess.
- Rigmor: Would you do it bare-chested for me, my dear?
- Wulf: Good idea! I am sure you will all hold off any Draugr that come pouring through the gap I make.
- Rigmor: Sometimes, you are a nothing but a…
- Jordis: … party…
- Lydia: … pooper!
- Rigmor: Precisely!
- Inigo: My friend, it seems you have been reduced to a lump of meat designed for women’s ogling. Don’t worry, you will get used to it. I have.
I used the Ancient Nordic Pickaxe and started chipping away at the Stalhrim, fully armoured.
After fifteen minutes, I had removed enough for us to enter the hidden corridor.
At the end of the short corridor was a pair of doors that required the key to open.
When I swung open the door, we were faced with piles of gold coins.
We walked up to the treasure, and although it looked impressive, it did not add up to a vast fortune.
- Rigmor: How much do you think is here?
- Wulf: Twenty thousand septims in coin at the most. Not much to show for such a famous pirate.
- Jordis: How can you estimate the amount so quickly?
- Wulf: Similar to how I can read quickly, I can also do mathematical calculations rapidly. One look tells me there are eighty piles of coins. I have handled enough coinage lately to guess each pile consists of approximately two hundred and fifty coins. The old pirate arranged his horde so he could visually tell if any pilfering was done.
- Inigo: I would not test Wulf’s accuracy. You could sit here for hours counting and find his estimation is accurate.
- Jordis: Oh, I know that. I was just curious as to how his brain works.
- Rigmor: Wulf has not been normal since they dropped him on his head.
- Wulf: I propose we gift everything but the gems to Councillor Morvayn.
- Rigmor: See, further proof his brain is damaged!
- Wulf: I guarantee nearly every gold coin here will end up in Bruma’s coffers anyway. Would somebody like to explain to Rigmor why that will eventuate?
- Inigo: Raven Rock is in desperate need of many things, and it will take some time for the ebony mine to get up to speed.
- Lydia: Meantime Rigmor can do her trade deal with Solstheim which is suddenly flush with ready coin!
- Jordis: So Rigmor can return home, and coins will flow, proving a trade deal was struck.
- Inigo: Thereby providing proof of her purported reason for travelling to Solstheim.
- Wulf: You were saying something about brains, my beloved?
- Rigmor: Coin first then ebony later. I don’t think you are dumb, but sometimes you think so far ahead of me I believe that I am.
- Wulf: For the umpteenth time, you are clever and more than capable of being the best Countess that Cyrodiil has ever had!
- Lydia: Wulf is unique. There is no use comparing yourself to him.
- Inigo: Lydia is one of the finest warriors I have ever seen. Wulf makes her seem like a beginner.
- Lydia: I routinely end up disarmed or on my arse with his sword at my throat when we spar. I have had to ask Wulf to slow down, so I learn something!
- Wulf: Yet Rigmor makes me look clumsy when we spar with two-handed swords.
- Jordis: Rigmor, you will grow in confidence. It is a pity we can’t be there to support you in Cyrodiil and watch your transformation.
- Wulf: My friends, you will have to help the Redoran Guards take this treasure safely back to Raven Rock. I, unfortunately, will have to return to Skyrim sometime tomorrow.
- Rigmor: Did your compass start?
- Wulf: Yes, just after we exited Neloth’s. I don’t feel it is urgent so we can investigate Vahlok’s tomb.
- Rigmor: Where do you think the compass points?
- Wulf: I haven’t triangulated it yet. I would guess Solitude without looking at a map.
- Rigmor: How will you get there?
- Wulf: I will use my ring to return to my safe room in Silverpeak Lodge and ride from there.
- Rigmor: What about my negotiations with the Councillor?
- Wulf: I will wait while you conduct those, but I think you need to do them without me in the room.
- Rigmor: I wanted to show you the clothes we purchased the other day!
- Wulf: You will have to conduct the negotiations in your armour while dirty and sweaty from our exertions. They know you are the Countess. The clothes do not make you one.
- Lydia: We will once again ‘save their bacon’ if Vahlok proves to be a danger. Plus, we are handing them all these shiny clinky coins.
- Rigmor: I know I can do it. I just hoped for something that once again has been thwarted by the needs of The Divines intruding.
- Wulf: And the needs of Bruma are equally as intrusive. We are blessed to spend the time together we have been gifted.
- Rigmor: I know, and I did not intend to sound petty.
- Wulf: Rigmor, I am living this life with you. There is no need to apologise or explain. I understand, and it is evident to me that The Divines have some sympathy for our plight.
- Rigmor: Gather your gems and let us see what is in the next room.
The several dozen gems I found were equally as valuable as the piles of coins. Some excellent weapons and armours were also amongst the treasure, so I estimated at least thirty thousand gold pieces is what we would gift Solstheim.
The key was also needed to open the final door. Beyond it was a short corridor that led into a large burial chamber.
Next to the remains of Haknir Death-Brand lay a superb cutlass.
I warned the others, “This is too easy. My guess is something will happen when I lift the sword!”
As predicted, the lifting of the sword resulted in the ghost of Haknir materialising then attacking.
As soon as I disposed of Haknir’s ghost, those of his crew appeared and also attacked.
When we had finished off the last of the crew, Haknir appeared once more.
We repeated this cycle several times before I lopped Haknir’s ghostly head off.
He was reduced to a puddle of ectoplasm, and so were his crew.
I locked the three doors as we made our way out of Haknir’s Tomb.
It was about 5:30 AM by the time we set off for Vahlok’s Tomb.
On the way, I stopped several times to triangulate my internal compass.
By the time we reached Vahlok’s Tomb, I was sure where I needed to go for my next Divine Task.
- Wulf: The Divines want me to visit the Blue Palace.
- Rigmor: You will get the chance to congratulate High Queen Elisif the Fair!
- Wulf: I hope she is alright. Skyrim needs her right now!
- Inigo: Do you have to be a lot closer before you know with who you must speak?
- Wulf: Yes, I may not know till I am feet away from them. I am sure The Divines could just let me know, but they don’t want to influence my choices.
- Lydia: You explained it to me a while ago. Their whole plan is to rely on your decisions and not instruct you at all.
- Wulf: It is almost as if they already know what I will do. They want a particular outcome and rely on my morals, personality and skills to achieve it.
- Rigmor: Wulf used to worry that The Divines have moulded him and created nothing more than a fleshy machine that can’t deviate from its intended purpose.
- Wulf: But now I think I had parents who moulded me via example, not force. All loving parents hope their child will adopt their values. I have no proof of my theory, just a gut feeling.
- Jordis: So far, your gut feelings have saved us all. Perhaps there are residual memories that have influenced that conclusion about your parents?
- Inigo: Quite often, when we act quickly, we may wonder why we made a particular decision. I sometimes recall a lesson from one or both of my parents if I dissect a decision after the fact.
- Wulf: I have no such memories.
- Rigmor: Who is to say the lessons taught are not part of you? You can’t recall any weapon training yet you are probably the most efficient killer with sword and board, and maybe bow, on Nirn.
- Wulf: What if my dragon half dominated my personality? What if I was capable of killing without remorse and readily accepted collateral death and destruction?
- Lydia: The Divines may not be as pleased, but the ends would justify the means. Pelinal Whitestrake was flawed, and although The Divines discussed removing him from Nirn, they put up with his excesses so that Saint Alessia’s slave revolt would succeed.
- Wulf: Two things terrify me. The thought of Rigmor not being part of my life is one. The other is being placed in a position where I have to accept collateral damage. Pelinal was insane, so did not have the burden of coherent and calculated decision making.
- Rigmor: I intend to be around long enough to be grey-haired and wrinkly. Never let our love force you to abandon a correct decision
- Wulf: This is a discussion we can continue later.
Tharstan heard our voices and made his way outside to greet us.
- Tharstan: Thank the gods you are here! I have never been afraid of ruins before, but knowing there could be a Dragon Priest inside has made me more nervous than you could know!
- Wulf: Come on then, let’s enter Vahlok’s Tomb and see what we find.
- Inigo: I predict we will find many things intent on doing us harm.
- Wulf: I know! What fun!
- Tharstan: General Valdr, you are the weirdest person I have ever met!
We entered the tomb in a jovial mood. Would we leave the same way I wondered?