The Sentinels and I had a good breakfast and discussed what was planned for the day. I then went outside to speak to Rigmor.
“Good morning, Countess Gorgeous.”
“You’re in a pleasant mood, my Dear Dragonborn.”
“I have decided I will retrieve a relic for Tolfdir, and that will be enough tasks for the College for now. I want to relax and then study a half-completed spell Savos invented. I am close to being able to make portals.”
“Where would you put the portals?”
“In all the houses I own for a start. It would make travel so much quicker and safer.”
“You told me that portals and teleporting was quite common in the past.”
“Yes, during the First and Second Eras. I think our favourite Khajiit Emissary has access to them.”
“You suspected that when he was running between Cyrodiil, Elsweyr and Skyrim while we dealt with the New Order.”
“I will be doing some excavations with the museum soon. There is so much of Skyrim we didn’t get to see together, but you really can’t leave your duties for days at a time.”
“No, Solstheim was an exception as it was a ‘trade’ mission. I am sure the High Queen could arrange a diplomatic invite if you asked her.”
“High Queen Elisif looks so young. But I think she is starting to use that to her advantage. From what I hear, she is a quiet assassin. She will let other’s think they have the upper hand in negotiations, then drop the act and turn them into quivering messes with her counter proposals.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar would approve. She is like a Den Mother. Meek as a kitten till she is defending her cubs than all teeth and nails like a fierce Tiger.”
“Elisif is the type of Noble to whom I am happy to bend a knee. She looks out for her people, even those who would have exiled or even killed her if Ulfric had become High King.”
“I have been asked to the Imperial Palace for a private meeting with the Emperor. I have no idea what it is about, and he had been very cautious not to show any favouritism towards Bruma or me. He must know this will cause a lot of gossip in the other Counties.”
“Then it must be important.”
“Yes, I will leave just after lunch. I get overawed by the sense of history whenever I walk into the White-Gold Tower. Maybe I can convince him to join me in one of the inns instead?”
“I am sure he would if he could.”
“So, where is this relic you are getting for Tolfdir?”
“An ancient Nord city called Ragnvald. Home of another Dragon Priest. I seem to be encountering them almost daily!”
“Is he still entombed?”
“From all reports, even the Forsworn will not set foot in Ragnvald. It is about the only place in The Reach free of them. I would guess the Dragon Priest is still lying in his sarcophagus surrounded by his Draugr guards.”
“I will contact you later.”
“Good idea. I would hate to contact you at an inappropriate time. You might pass the pepper to the Emperor when he asks you a question.”
“The look Mum gave me when I did that to her was priceless.”
“Love you. Say hello to the Emperor for me.”
“Oh, I almost forgot. Cerys says her father is all in a huff about something. I guess he is not happy with his new Arch-Mage.”
“Oh, poor Malesam! Was it cruel to ask him for an audit of expenses? Savos just sent him gold when asked. I can’t wait to question him on trivial things!”
“You are an evil man. But I still love you.”
The Sentinels joined me outside, and we stepped onto the portal, which teleported us back to the College.
We made our way to the Jarl’s residence.
We entered, and, as protocol demands, I addressed the steward.
- Wulf: Steward Malur Seloth, I assume?
- Malur: Yes, yes. Can’t you see I am busy?
- Wulf: Busy doing what?
- Malur: My job is to serve the Jarl, not waste time talking with travellers.
- Wulf: Is that so?
- Malur: Actually, I do nothing, and I hope to keep it that way. The Jarl is convinced I have some connection with the College, so he goes easy on me.
- Wulf: It must be difficult pretending to be a mage?
- Malur: Maybe you’d like to help me keep up appearances? Old Nelacar had a mage’s staff in his room in the Frozen Hearth. If Jarl Kraldar started to wonder if I have a real connection to the College, it would be good to have that staff. It would help ease his concern.
- Wulf: You want me to steal the staff from Nelacar?
- Malur: That is what I just suggested. Are you stupid or something?
- Wulf: No, I will not steal from Nelacar.
- Malur: May Daedra take you then!
My Dovah came forth. Seloth stared into my eyes and whimpered as I lifted him off the ground by his collar.
- Wulf: Lydia, please introduce me to this worm.
- Lydia: Worm, this is Arch-Mage Valdr, head of the College of Winterhold.
- Wulf: Captain, what is your name?
- Svendig: Captain Svendig, Sir.
- Wulf: Captain Svendig, would you tell this shithole who I am.
- Svendig: Shithole, you are in the grip of General Valdr, The Dragonborn.
Jarl Kraldar joined the conversation from the comfort of his throne.
- Kraldar: Arch-Mage, is there a reason you have my steward by the throat?
- Wulf: Malur has falsely claimed to be associated with the College. He also asked me to steal for him.
- Kraldar: He is not a member of your esteemed establishment?
- Wulf: He is not and never has been.
- Kraldar: Well, in that case, he is no longer my steward.
- Wulf: I don’t know if that is enough punishment. But he is not military, so I can’t throw him in the brig.
- Kraldar: A problem easily solved. Arch-Mage Valdr, by the power invested in me as Jarl of Winterhold, I am pleased and honoured to name you Thane of Winterhold with all the rights and privileges thereof.
- Wulf: I am honoured to accept.
- Malur: Please, don’t kill me!
- Wulf: Captain Svendig.
- Svendig: Yes, Thane.
- Wulf: Malur Seloth is to be jailed for seven days. I trust you can fill in the appropriate charge sheets and other paperwork?
- Svendig: Yes, Sir! It will be my pleasure, Sir!
- Wulf: I am neither General nor Arch-Mage at this moment.
- Svendig: My apologies, Thane.
- Wulf: Malur, I strongly advise you not to remain in Winterhold after your jail time is over. Mages can get very upset with imposters. Dragonborn even more so.
I lowered Malur to the floor. Captain Svendig came over with sword drawn, then marched the ex- steward out of the door.
I walked over to the Jarl.
- Kraldar: I was going to award you the title of Thane anyway, but it was pleasing to do so right at that moment.
- Wulf: If you want a steward who is a genuine member of the College, I can forward you suitable recommendations.
- Kraldar: That would be a blessing. Thank you, Arch-Mage. I did ask Urdr the Fateweaver, but she insisted on being your Housecarl instead of my steward.
- Celestine: Master Urdr is an excellent mage and very strong-willed.
- Wulf: How did she know I would become Thane of Winterhold?
- Kraldar: She said it was an excellent idea for me to make you Thane. I had not even mentioned such an idea to her. But she worded it as if it was my idea and that she agreed with it. So here we are.
- Celestine: That sounds like the Urdr I know. As I said, she is strong-willed.
- Wulf: And where will I meet Urdr?
- Kraldar: In the house that I just sold you for no profit. It is called Urdarbrunn and is very large, so I am sure the eight thousand gold piece price is more than acceptable.
- Wulf: That sounds generous.
- Kraldar: It was confiscated from a Breton merchant. He had been supplying the Stormcloaks with goods taken from shipments for which The Empire had already paid him. He had no qualms leaving The Empire forces without vital supplies. We caught him, and now he is to spend many years in a penal mine in High Rock somewhere. You also get his second house. A smaller one down near the fishery. He used it to store the goods for Ulfric and his morons.
I wrote a fund transfer and handed it to the Jarl.
- Kraldar: Malur, please give the Arch-Mage the keys to Urdarbrunn. Oh, there is no Malur! I will get them for you in a minute.
- Wulf: You were friends with Arch-Mage Aren. Does that mean you do not blame the College for The Great Collapse?
- Kraldar: No, he assured me the College had nothing to do with it, and I believed him.
- Wulf: We spent yesterday crawling through the remains of Winterhold. Lady Mara showed me what happened that terrible night.
- Kraldar: We received reports of a dragon being killed just south of the city. Was that you?
- Wulf: Yes, but he was not the cause of the disaster. Winterhold was built on top of many large caverns. The wave that struck the city was a natural phenomenon, not something created by magic. The ground gave way in many places, and a large part of the city sunk into the craters, not out to sea.
- Kraldar: Did people survive? We thought they had all been swept into the water and drowned.
- Wulf: Many survived, but there was a great evil buried under Winterhold. It killed many survivors but not all. An Elder of the Temple of Gods killed the rest. Some children managed to avoid both of those fates but starved or died of a disease.
- Kraldar: Are you writing a report on this?
- Wulf: Yes. You shall receive a copy.
- Kraldar: We all owe you so much.
- Wulf: We are just doing what is right. We need to leave on a reasonably long trip, so I will quickly say hello to Urdr.
- Kraldar: I will get you the keys.
Kraldar retrieved the keys then we made our way to Urdarbrunn. It is an imposing house, but I did not stay to have a look around. I wanted to get the task for Tolfdir out of the way as quick as possible. We found Urdr in the living area.
- Urdr: I take it the Jarl was wise and took my advice.
- Wulf: He certainly did and sold me this place for next to nothing.
- Urdr: Well, it cost him nothing, so it was all profit.
- Celestine: It is good to see you, Master Urdr. I remind you that it is the Arch-Mage you are addressing.
- Urdr: And do you call him Arch-Mage all the time, Master Celestine?
- Wulf: They call me all sorts of names, and most are not complementary.
- Celestine: Relax, Urdr. I wanted to see if you had improved your Urag impersonation.
- Urdr: And I wanted to see if you were just as naive.
- Lydia: Wulf, it looks like you now have a valuable ally in your war with the children.
- Urdr: War with children?
- Lydia: Wulf homes many orphans who are trouncing him in a practical joke war.
- Urdr: Sorry to say you have no hope. Just surrender and beg for mercy.
- Wulf: Do you know where our main house is? The one called Silverpeak Lodge.
- Urdr: The mansion you can see halfway up the Throat of the World from most of Skyrim. Nah, I never heard of it.
- Wulf: Make your way there. Do you have a horse?
- Urdr: Yes.
- Wulf: Use a carriage from here to Whiterun, then ride the rest of the way. There are stables at the lodge. Just tell the people there you are a new Sentinel. They will get you settled in.
- Urdr: Sentinel?
- Celestine: Those who guard General Valdr, his friends and property are called The Sentinels.
- Urdr: Am I correct to assume my duties will not be those of a Housecarl?
- Jordis: We constantly fight for our lives against great numbers, alive and undead.
- Iona: We have seen gods, ghosts and other oddities.
- Lydia: Of course, we also get to see some incredible landscapes and underground locations.
- Wulf: You can remain with Housecarl duties if you wish. I am not going to force you to risk your life. It is strictly voluntary.
- Urdr: I know some of the things you and The Sentinels have accomplished. I am sure there is a lot more the public doesn’t know. How could I refuse the chance to contribute?
- Wulf: It is about time we had another mage with us.
- Celestine: Yes, this extended visit to Winterhold had been quite exhausting.
- Wulf: I would love to have a close look at this house, but we need to get moving. I will see you at Silverpeak Lodge in a day or two.
- Urdr: I will talk to the other Sentinels, so I know more about what you do.
- Wulf: A wise idea.
We made our way to the stables and collected our horses. The Sentinels rode in the hired carriage while I led the horses aboard Hashire.
By the time we reached Markarth stables, the weather had turned grey and bleak with heavy snow.
We crossed the bridge and passed by the mining camp. Ri’saad and his caravan were camped at their traditional Khajiit trading spot. As with Whiterun, they preferred to trade outside Markarth even though restrictions have been lifted.
- Ri’saad: My friend, what brings you to this place of stone buildings and even harder hearts?
- Wulf: I am here for the usual stuff. Bandits and evil to kill. You know how it goes.
- Ri’saad: Although colourful, that outfit does not suit that one.
- Wulf: It denotes my position of Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.
- Ri’saad: You collect titles like others collect debts.
- Wulf: I don’t mind them as long as they aid me in my tasks.
- Ri’saad: I expect that many fine gems will be available for trade, whatever it is you are doing out here. I know that is not why you do these tasks, but still, they make Khajiit smile.
- Wulf: And I am glad to make my friend smile. But I have some disturbing news for you. Please, read this note.
I handed Ri’saad the note we found in the Skooma den just outside of Whiterun. As he read it, I could see his anger build.
- Ri’saad: Where did that one get this?
- Wulf: Bandits attacked us just outside of Whiterun. They were running a Skooma den.
- Ri’saad: So much is offered within my caravans, and still Khajiit turn to crime. I shall have Ahkari arrested by Whiterun guards. It is only fitting that one is punished by the people that one harmed.
- Wulf: Do you have any idea who the seer is?
- Ri’saad: Before I have that one arrested, I will see if other Khajiit can find out. That way, the two of them can rot in jail together.
- Wulf: I would like to be the one to take them into custody. I will talk with you next time I see your caravan at Whiterun.
- Ri’saad: Yes, I can see that this would upset my friend. It adds to the unfavourable opinion of Khajiit. Something that one has been trying to change.
- Wulf: Kharjo was also very upset.
- Ri’saad: That one is proof that not all Khajiit reject what this one offers.
- Wulf: You recently had a caravan sacked?
- Ri’saad: Yes. Tanita and S’drassa were murdered. It was strange as the bandits left behind many valuable goods.
- Wulf: I am afraid that is not what it seemed.
I handed Ri’saad the note I had retrieved from Tanita. He read it and looked at me with the saddest expression I have ever seen on a Khajiit.
- Ri’saad: Tell this one what happened.
- Wulf: Tanita had arranged for the caravan to be attacked. I think she killed S’drassa herself but have no proof.
- Celestine: I am sorry I had to kill Tanita. She tried to attack General Valdr.
- Ri’saad: That one would have hanged for such crimes, so do not fret. S’drassa had a promising future, and I thought this one had finished mourning her death. Now, much sadness fills Khajiit’s heart once more.
- Wulf: I am sorry to bring you sadness. But it is better to know the truth.
- Ri’saad: Yes, it is. I am proud of Lajjan. Her loyalty will help ease this ones’ pain.
- Wulf: Kharjo also took this disloyalty hard. He was concerned for you.
- Ri’saad: This one is no Clan Mother but can give good advice. Ask Kharjo to come and talk with Khajiit.
- Wulf: I will do so. I hope to see you smiling once more when I meet you in Whiterun.
- Ri’saad: This one can only provide the opportunity for change. Most Khajiit have used that gift well, so I will soon smile again.
The road leading west of Markarth was dotted with Foresworn trouble spots. I decided to cut across the mountains instead.
We encountered Draugr and Skeletal Warriors on the steps of Ragnvald Temple. I could see why Foresworn left the place well alone.
We stood before the door, and the snowstorm made it seem as dark as midnight.
- Wulf: What do the carvings on the door denote?
- Iona: That this is a burial place for a Dragon Priest.
- Lydia: Is this one awake?
- Wulf: I don’t know. If not, we will wake him. We must destroy them when I find them.
- Lydia: Better us, who can do it, than some unfortunate adventurer or treasure seeker.
- Wulf: They are remnants of a war that so many sacrificed to win. The Dragon War. It is not right that the vanquished can continue to take the lives of the victors.
- Celestine: You hate to use the label with the Dark Lords. But the Dragon Priests are pure evil.
- Wulf: Yes, they chose to become what they are. They went from benevolent leaders to megalomaniacal parasites. I have no guilt condemning their dark souls to eternity in The Void.
We entered the temple, and it was dark and gloomy except for the gobblygook powered candles.
I said, “I might make myself invisible and sit inside one of these places for days on end. I want to know who lights the candles and lanterns!”
Lydia laughed and said, “I bet they go out, and nobody lights them till you are no longer watching!”
Some Draugr were no longer ‘alive’. Nothing had killed them. It just happens to a few.
Celestine said, “Look, hanging pots of oil. Lighting candles and lanterns are not hostile actions. But surely whoever hangs the pots up would be seen as an enemy by the Draugr. Why did they let them?”
“Maybe one day I will ask one of The Divines.”
“You will only get mumbo jumbo as a reply.”
Very powerful Draugr were interspersed with Skeletal Warriors, Lich and Skeletal Mages. The temple was better guarded than most places we have visited.
After some intense fighting, we conquered the last of the initial foes and could investigate Ragnvald.
We found a sarcophagus with unique locks. Behind it, access to more caverns was blocked by raised bars. On top of the sarcophagus was a book called ‘The Secrets of Ragnvald’. I read it to The Sentinels.
- “Two hero-hearts
- Two hidden keys
- One fallen Priest
- Who lies beneath
- Hail Saerek, Hail Torsten
- Raise them in your songs
- Who tricked mad-king Otar
- and rescued Ragnvald for all
- Otar! once our chieftain
- Glorious in battle
- Fair in judgment
- Those days ended in pain
- Dark voices whispered
- into Otar’s mind
- nobility shouted down
- Once good now craven Priest
- Fair folk of Ragnvald
- Good Nords and True
- Broken by his will
- our city eaten alive
- Send Saerek!
- Send Torsten!
- Sure spirits
- swords that don’t fail
- Otar was bent back
- but never destroyed
- Bound instead, contained
- Two Heroes, Two Keys”
- Wulf: Two more people volunteered to become Draugr.
- Celestine: It seems so. Like we saw yesterday, they defeated the Dragon Priest but could not kill him.
- Wulf: How many people knew how to make Draugr? I am glad that is one piece of knowledge lost to us!
- Lydia: I think we have to realise how terrible it must have been to live under the rule of the Dragon Priests. Then we may understand what drove them to such desperate measures.
- Wulf: They made their decisions based on what they could do to solve the problem before them. I must step back from my initial feelings and think logically about what they did.
- Celestine: Logic has its uses, but it should never be used as a substitute for emotion!
- Wulf: They have to work hand in hand. But as I write the histories of such places, my words must clearly delineate the two.
- Celestine: We have to find two keys.
- Wulf: Skull shaped keys. See the indents in the sarcophegus?
- Iona: Actual skulls? That would be a bit creepy.
- Wulf: Even though their heroes might have volunteered to become Draugr, I think using their skulls as keys would be sacrilegious.
- Iona: Do you think a Priest of Arkay would allow mortals to be turned into Draugr?
- Wulf: No, but the Nords who did this worshipped their old gods. They had no Priests of Arkay.
- Lydia: Otar was a benevolent Dragon Priest, like Vahlok in Solstheim.
- Wulf: At least that is a part of history we can clarify with more than one example. Dragon Priests were not initially the evil beings they are now. It took Alduin to change that.
We headed to an exit to the right of where we entered.
Many Draugr and skeletons stood between Guardian Torsten and us.
Eventually, he stood before me, and to him, I was an enemy. He was a mindless Draugr with one purpose, to stop the desecration of the Dragon Priest he now served. The same one he risked his life to defeat.
Unrelenting Force and my sword soon sent his soul to The Void.
There was a plinth with nothing on it.
Celestine said, “I think the skull was on this. It must have been knocked somewhere during the fighting.”
I found the Skull Key down some stairs near the plinth.
Instead of making our way to where we thought the other Skull Key might be, I decided to make a detour.
I opened a door and we faced a long corridor with pendulum blades. I made my way down it then pulled another lever to stop the blades.
- Wulf: Somewhere in Ragnvald is part of the armour of The Crusader, Pelinal Whitestrake. That needs to be on show in the museum! The Story of Pelinal has to be told.
- Lydia: Did the archaeologists give you notes on its location?
- Wulf: They gave me notes on possible locations for his armour pieces and other items. They have been spread across Skyrim to make them difficult to retrieve.
- Celestine: Are you going to spend time collecting them all?
- Wulf: Eventually, but I think it will be a lot harder than just locating them. One part of the armour is in the Temple of the Nine in Solitude. I can feel the presence of Eight of the Nine on the chest that holds it. The Priests and Priestesses could not tell me how long it has been there or who put it there, but the chest dates before Tiber Septim became Talos.
- Jordis: I remember seeing that chest. It has an unusual lock on it.
- Wulf: It is an unpickable lock. I want to see if the chest in Ragnvald is the same.
As we crossed the cavern, we could see the sarcophagus and the raised metal bars behind it.
It was not long before we found the chest that contained a relic of The Crusader. It was identical to the one in Solitude. I would have to find the key to the chests, but it was not mentioned in the archaeologists’ notes.
We made our way to a door left of where we entered Ragnvald. We assumed Guardian Saerek would be somewhere within that part of the temple.
Ae with the section housing Guardian Torsten, we had to fight many powerful Draugr and skeletons before reaching Guardian Saerek.
He came out of his sarcophagus growling and a desire to decapitate me with a single blow of his axe. The wild swing put him off balance, so I moved to his right, then hit him with my buckler. He fell to the ground.
As he tried to stand, I cut him with a mighty blow of my sword.
Saerek staggered to his feet, then I sliced him from collarbone to stomach.
I picked up the Skull Key from the floor.
Iona said, “This has been a hard fight so far. Do you think the Dragon Priest will be powerful?”
“I doubt he will be any stronger than others we have faced. We have the advantage of all standing next to his sarcophagus as he emerges. There are few things on Nirn that can withstand a few seconds of our combined assault.”
We made our way to the sarcophagus. I could sense that Otar was awake.
I inserted the Skull Keys, and the locking mechanism rotated, which removed the lid. Otar slowly stood up.
I watched as Iona cut into him with her axe. Jordis sliced him with a mighty two-handed swing then Lydia finished him off with her sword inserted into his midsection. Otar the Mad lasted mere seconds against The Sentinels.
- Wulf: That was an impressive kill!
- Celestine: Yes, Otar the Mad would have been Otar the Pissed Off as we cut him down.
- Lydia: Celestine needs to spend some time away and come back all quiet and innocent once more.
- Iona: I think it is that Guard Captain she has been seeing. Soldiers always swear.
- Jordis: Unlike the ladies who live at Silverpeak Lodge. We never fucking swear!
- Wulf: Guard Captain?
- Lydia: Women’s business. Keep your nose out of it.
- Wulf: Then I suggest you don’t mention it when I am around.
- Iona: A gentlemen would ignore what he accidentally overhears!
- Wulf: I tried, but several pillows and closed doorways didn’t drown out you and Kharjo.
- Lydia: Good comeback. I have never seen Iona that shade of red before.
- Wulf: Which god was Iona praying to, I wonder?
- Jordis: Oh, god! Oh my god! That sort of thing?
- Wulf: That’s the one.
- Iona: If you don’t mind, can we change the subject?
- Lydia: It must have been Dibella.
- Jordis: Yeah, probably.
When the sarcophagus opened, the bars blocking access to the rest of Ragnvald lowered.
I found Kahvozein’s Dagger in a chest just beyond the lowered bars.
I approached a Word Wall.
It tried to teach me ‘Kaan’, which means ‘Kyne’. It is the first Word of the Kyne’s Peace Shout. I already knew the Word and Shout.
- Wulf: It says, ‘Het nok kopraan do Hela fahdon wah pah sivaas aar do Kaan aal rek siiv unahzaal praan ko feykro do hahnu.’
- Lydia: Somebody called Hela has something to do with Lady Kynareth.
- Wulf: That is not bad. A hundred more Word Walls, and you might be able to transcribe them!
- Iona: Except some people would take exception at calling Kyne and Kynareth the same god.
- Wulf: The same people would argue Auri-El and Akatosh are different. Poppycock!
- Jordis: Poppycock? Is that Dovahzul?
- Wulf: No, and it means codswallop.
- Jordis: Of course. Now, all we need to do is figure out what codswallop means.
- Lydia: I think it means bullshit.
- Jordis: Well, why didn’t he say so?
- Wulf: I wonder who hands out the wages at the end of each month?
- Jordis: My Thane, we are all in awe of your mastery of language.
- Wulf: Excellent brown-nosing!
- Jordis: Lydia, does brown-nosing mean what I think?
- Lydia: I am afraid so.
- Jordis: Eww!
- Wulf: The translation of the Word Wall is, ‘Here lies the body of Hela, friend to all beasts, servant of Kyne. May she find eternal rest in the Forest of Dreams.’
- Celestine: The old Nord pantheon was not full of war gods. How come the same people who slaughtered their way across the continent worshipped such peaceful gods?
- Wulf: I think the average citizen felt the presence of their gods far more than a warrior fighting endless battles. They revered honour and glory in battle more than their gods. Even now, their afterlife, Sovngarde, is ruled over by Shor. He is not one of The Nine. A farmer lives a worthy life but does not fit the criteria for entry in Sovngarde. It still seems as if there are two types of worship within Skyrim.
- Lydia: Most do a poor job of following the Ten Commands of The Nine.
- Wulf: An abysmal job indeed!
We made our way outside and then to Markarth without incident.
We arrived at Whiterun stables just before 8:00 AM.
It was snowing heavily by the time we stabled the horses at Silverpeak Lodge.
The inside of Silverpeak Lodge always seems unnaturally bright. Olette was sitting close to the open fire, so I knelt to say hello.
“How is the sneakiest orphan on Nirn?”
“I have been told I am no longer allowed to wear my mask and scare people by jumping out of the shadows. Now I do it without my mask.”
“I think it is not a good idea to do it at all.”
“Captain, everybody knows those good ideas are not always fun ideas.”
“Am I an orphan? I think of all of you as my family.”
“You never have to be adopted if you don’t wish. You can stay with us even after you come of age.”
“I would like to go to the Bards College but come home to all of you during the holidays.”
“That will be easily arranged. Do you want to be a travelling bard?”
“I have heard that a lot of bards are also spies. I was good at gathering and selling information while living on the streets.”
“Yes, that was very dangerous, and so is being a spy. Nearly all of the Emperor’s spies were executed by the Aldmeri Dominion.”
“The music and history taught are what interests me at the moment. Maybe what I learn as a trainee bard won’t even be part of how I make my living.”
“I think I will be joining the Bards College soon. I would like to sing and tell stories as I travel around Skyrim.”
“It looks like you have been doing the rounds as a street performer, a clown, in that getup.”
“Young lady, I will have you know these clothes denote me as the Arch-Mage, a very respected title.”
“Does Arch-Mage mean street clown?”
“I will be spending some time here and in Solitude. I was going to invite some friends to accompany me to Solitude.”
“That uniform makes you look dashing and more handsome than ever.”
“The Olette I first met would never stoop to cheap compliments.”
“Yeah, Captain, your right. You will take me with you to Solitude because you know I would love to see the Bards College. So even if I honestly said those clothes make you look like a court jester who has rolled in dragon vomit, you would not leave me behind.”
“I might put a gag on you and place you in a large sack for the trip, though.”
“At least my eyes would not bleed from looking at that uniform.”
“Did the new mage arrive safely?”
“Urdr? Yes, and I like her. She is sarcastic and narky.”
“Narky is one of my words.”
“You are corrupting us with them.”
I laughed as I made my way to my private quarters. I sat at my writing desk and contacted Rigmor.
“Is my lady free to talk?”
“Yes, I am having breakfast and a long bath in my room this morning.”
“We retrieved the relic for the College. It was just another boring Nord ruin full of Draugr and skeletons.”
“My meeting with the Emperor was all about you.”
“How would you like to be Commander of a squad of Penitus Oculatus?”
“Commander Maro suggested it to him. The Jarls and general public are reporting problems to General Tullius and Commander Maro that regular troops are unsuitable to tackle. Vampires, Necromancers, ghosts and so forth. Your squad would be like the supernatural arm of the Penitus Oculatus in Skyrim. Many of the Jarls before the Civil War were content with using Vigilants of Stendarr to deal with such issues, but most of the new Jarls are not.”
“I don’t blame them. The Vigilants are a pack of blasphemous murderers who commit atrocities while ignoring the teachings of Stendarr.”
“I told the Emperor that is how you felt about that organisation.”
“Who would this squad consist of?”
“The Sentinels. You would have free reign to recruit who you wished.”
“And we would be uniformed members of the Penitus Oculatus?”
“Yes. The Emperor suggested that special uniforms be designed, so the current Penitus Oculatus and your squad are visually different.”
“It sounds like an idea worth pursuing. The only caveat is that Divine Tasks will always take precedence.”
“The Emperor knows that. I think many of the things that people report could be symptoms of something bigger. Something that might turn out to be a Divine Task anyway.”
“I think you are right. Plus, I can’t refuse a call for help from a Jarl or any other citizen. It would be beneficial to have an official capacity to investigate. Commander Valdr would have legal rights that General Valdr lacks.”
“Expect some paperwork and meetings with Commander Maro and General Tullius to discuss it further.”
“Did you get to talk to the Emperor about anything else?”
“Unfortunately, no. The Emperor wanted to make our meeting as short as possible to reduce the rumours it would cause. Our cover is to say we discussed my recent trade deal with Solstheim and how it has ruffled his cousin’s feathers.”
“Oh, you know of her?”
“She is very well respected in Solitude. She did not use her family connections but wit and determination to become such an important part of the East Empire Company.”
“In reality, she is not upset at all but regarded my trade deal as clever. However, it does make a good excuse for me to be dragged before the Emperor.”
“Yes, the gossips will be thinking you got an earful from the Emperor. I hope you look suitably chastised as you left the building.”
“I had tears rolling down my cheeks and sniffled on the way to my carriage.”
“Lucky for me, I am immune and wise to your fake emotions!”
“Yeah, right, pfft!”
“What did your mother and Malesam say?”
“Malesam praised the deal at first, but after my meeting with the Emperor, he claimed he had warned me against such rash opposition to the East Empire Company.”
“I bet you told him where to go!”
“There was no need. Cerys ripped strips off him while using language to make a sailor blush. My Mum tried to stifle her laughter by pretending to cough. Freathof just sat with his mouth open.”
“I will be home for a few days at least.”
“I will try and visit you soon.”
“I have never asked what the others think about our relationship and why I haven’t appeared in Cyrodiil.”
“I am still using ‘Oh, he is so busy. I am sure he will visit soon.’ Eventually, I will have to play the heartbroken ex of that bastard Dragonborn!”
“I have heard he is a womanising cad!”
“The worst! I am sure Mum will lecture me about me being more careful about the men I take to my bed!”
“Just tell her if we had bonked earlier, they might not have tried to sacrifice you.”
“Well, it is true!”
“Ahh, so you are so busy in Skyrim rescuing women from their virginity!”
“Somebody has to make the sacrifice.”
“I am going to have so much fun inventing nasty names and rumours about you.”
“Don’t make it too awkward for when I can finally cross the border. I would hate to walk into your castle only to be attacked by Sigunn with a carving knife.”
“I have to get ready for the day. I will talk to you later.”
“I love you.”
“And I love you.”
I decided I would discuss the Emperor’s idea with The Sentinels over lunch.
Meantime, I started re-reading Savos’ notes on his teleportation spell and other books I had on the subject.