Fredas, 2nd Morning Star, 4E 202 to Sundas, 4th Morning Star, 4E 202
Rigmor asked, “Do the rings work? Are you in Sancre Tor?”
“Yes, my love, and undead Blades are attacking me! Something evil resides in Sancre Tor!”
“What or who could it be?”
“I will think about that while I defend myself!”
Sancre Tor is unnaturally dark, and I have no choice but to use night vision.
There are two types of undead Blade attacking me. One type has glowing red eyes and wears armour over their misty bodies. The other type is skeletal with glowing blue eyes.
Undead hate living beings. I can sense that these undead are enraged not by what I am, a living being, but by who I am. The miasma emanating from both types seems to be the catalyst for this hatred which is palpable and personal. Something evil in Sancre Tor does not like me!
I disposed of a couple of undead then spoke to Rigmor.
“Rigmor, the undead are attacking me for who I am. You would think that a Dragonborn would be welcome in Sancre Tor. Unfortunately, it seems at least one resident is less than pleased that I am here.”
“Are they a danger to you?”
“No, but there are many. I think I will get them out of the way so that I can look around without worrying about an ambush. I will talk to you soon.”
I am climbing some ramparts to confront the last remaining undead Blade. It is not surrounded by mist and seems to be guarding a chest. I feel no animosity from it, but it watches me intently as I approach the chest. It just saluted me with its sword and has taken up a stance familiar to me. I have often seen Rigmor take such a stance when practising two-handed sword forms.
This undead Blade was a much stronger opponent than the others. It was likely a commander or hero of some sort when alive. The sword my opponent wielded was a beautifully crafted kai-katana covered in intricate runes. It used it with superb skill. We moved up and down stairs as we traded blows. I could have used Thu’um or Magicka to shorten the contest, but I thought my opponent deserved more respect. Instead, I relied on my martial skills to win the duel. I honestly believe my sparring with Rigmor and Jordis gave me the edge. I hope this warrior’s soul is now at rest.
I opened the unusual looking chest it guarded. The only item inside was a key.
During my culling of the undead, I had noticed two doors. The first door I inspected was very tall. It is not wide enough to be an entrance for dragons. I have no idea why such a tall door was required. The key I recovered from the last undead did not open it.
The second door is of typical dimensions, and the key unlocked it.
I told Rigmor, “I am about to enter the main building. I will talk to you from inside if the rings still work. If not, I will come back outside and let you know.”
“Because I can feel your anxiety, I find myself pacing up and down our small bedroom aboard Bostin.”
“Please ask Nubaree to set a course for Silverpeak Lodge. I may need a diversion from my worries when I get back, and our room aboard Bostin is not very private.”
“We need to have some alone time aboard Bostin. I have some great ideas involving a hammock.”
“That is entirely your fault!”
As I enter the ancient fortress, my light-hearted banter with Rigmor belies the truth. I have never been more disturbed or uncertain.
Rigmor asked, “Do the rings work?”
“My love, the feeling of wrongness is overwhelming! If it was merely undead disliking me, that would be okay. But it is not. There is a powerful malevolence directed towards me in a sacred building that is the resting place of heroes. I walked into Oblivion to face Malacath with less reservation than I feel in Sancre Tor.”
“I do not feel fear from you. I never have. But there is a deep sadness mixed with your anxiety. I will let you concentrate. Talk to me when you have the need. Nothing is stronger than our love, including what is within Sancre Tor.”
I have enveloped myself with that love and pushed all reservations aside. I am observing my surroundings with my usual thoroughness.
The fortress shows damage from battle and decay. The dust on the floor has no sign of disturbance. I may be the first to enter in hundreds of years.
I am confronted by many undead Blade. While outside, I was happy to trust my skill with shield and sword. When space to manoeuvre is restricted, I resort to Thu’um and Magicka. That is what I will do.
The power of my Destruction spells destroyed the undead with ease.
There are dozens of intricate tombs adorned with the symbols of the deceased favourite deity. Unfortunately, none of them has a simple plaque or inscription telling me their name.
Some have the story of the tomb’s occupant written in Akaviri. If I ever have the chance, I shall visit and record their stories for posterity.
Many sarcophagi have their lids removed. It seems grave robbers once visited. I doubt any average bandit would survive long against the undead I have faced. If the undead did not defend the interred against such desecration, why they are trying to impede my progress?
According to an ancient map I carry, this part of Sancre Tor is called the Entrance Hall.
A runestone has caught my attention.
I have to deal with a couple of undead before I can approach it.
Dovahzul glyphs are challenging to read when the correct way up, but whoever made the runestones turned the glyphs ninety degrees to the right. So that is how I have to hold my head to read them! This one says never to forget the father. I assume that refers to Lord Akatosh.
A third type of undead roams Sancre Tor. They are Draugr but were once Blades and are not hostile towards me. There is no miasma surrounding them. I assume they are the original defenders of Sancre Tor and have not been corrupted by the malevolent being. They must recognise I am Dragonborn and, therefore, their leader and a permitted visitor. In the past, Blades could visit Sancre Tor without danger and often did so on a pilgrimage to Tiber Septim’s Shrine.
The previously unhostile Draugr have started to attack me! They are now surrounded by the miasma and pose far more of a threat than the other type of undead encountered. Some can use the Thu’um. All are excellent swordsman.
After dealing with several of the Draugr, I headed to Tiber Septims’ Shrine. Unfortunately, the door is locked, and despite my skills, I cannot pick the lock. Therefore, I will have to search other parts of Sancre Tor and hope to find the key.
I am taking no chances with the Draugr. Even if they are not immediately aggressive, it is only a matter of time before the miasma surrounds them and they attack. Their passive reaction allows me to move to a more strategic position before attacking them. I have never felt guilty disposing of Draugr before. It is a strange development.
I have encountered a simple trapdoor mechanism designed to catch and dispose of grave robbers. I will trigger the trapdoor so I can see what is below.
The trapdoor does not drop victims onto spikes, as they often do, but into a chamber with an exit into some catacombs. I presume the catacombs are full of traps and undead, and any trespasser will not survive.
The bait used is an empty chest and a well-made but unremarkable katana.
After consulting my map, I have decided the next place to visit will be Sancre Tor’s Hall of Judgment.
I am standing before the entrance to the Hall of Judgement and am hesitant to enter. I can sense a more concentrated malevolence lies within. I need Rigmor.
“My beloved, I am about to enter what is called the Hall of Judgment. I can sense a concentration of hate beyond the door. Whatever the thing is, its animosity is beyond anything I have experienced before. I find myself afraid not of what this being might be but the reason for the hate.”
“You fear it may be hate generated by something of which you have no recollection and that it is justified.”
“You know me so well it seems uncanny at times.”
“The Divines gave you this task. We all agreed that Auryen’s insistence you visit Sancre Tor was not based on anything logical. However, if you learn something of who you are or your past, then The Divines have accepted that possibility. So don’t be afraid of the truth, my darling.”
“But what if it changes me? What if I can no longer be the Wulf you love? They have hidden my past from me for some reason. I can only think they want me to be this Wulf and that my memories might make me something else.”
“If you are unsure, demand some answers when you stand before the Shrine of Tiber Septim. There is nothing in this universe as powerful as our love, and nothing can harm it. Nothing!”
“I find myself asking, ‘Dragonborn, where is your sense of adventure?’”
“Precisely! Now enter the hall and get some answers.”
“Okay… I love you.”
“And I love you.”
I have entered Sancre Tor’s Hall of Judgment. Many undead are keen to welcome me!
Lightening reduced the undead to puddles of ectoplasm or piles of bones.
As I approach the central chamber, I can see the miasma floating near the ceiling.
Although the miasma seems concentrated in the Hall of Judgment, I do not believe it is being created here.
I have decided to eradicate all the undead so I can explore this room in peace.
Two particularly powerful undead surrounded by miasma were sitting in chairs before an open book. They were the last undead in the Hall of Judgment and the hardest to destroy. I assume they were once men of power. Judges or whatever they were called within this court, for that is what it was when Sancre Tor was occupied.
The book outlined individual crimes and the punishments inflicted. It was open to a page, and no matter how I tried, I could not turn to another. It read,
“Within this place shall forever be sealed away the evils of the Underking so that the spirit of the Great Tiber Septim may forever contain his presence within.
Bound to his sealed tomb by three keyblades of the Dragonguard, his tomb shall never again be opened without them.
Safeguarded within this fortress, these blades will have places of reverence within, only to be removed during the turning of the wheel, when the dead walk again and the Underking’s restless evil may once again stir.
So say we, Arktheius, Judge of Sancre Tor and Khal, Lieutenant of the Guard.”
I assume that Arkethius and Khal were the two powerful undead I just fought.
An Underking is responsible for the miasma, but which one and why would they have such animosity towards me? Is it because they recognise that I might repair the seal that has broken?
I need to find the three keyblades and the tomb of the Underking. So I will search this hall for them.
A statue of Lady Mara dominates one end of the hall. I will search there first since it is a place of reverence.
Alas, there is no keyblade near Lady Mara’s statue.
In front of Lady Mara is a cage.
Within the cage are the skeletal remains of a prisoner with a piece of paper underneath.
The paper is a judgment but is severely water damaged. What I can read says,
“For edit of the Blademaster of The Imperial Royal Guard, I condemn you to death for high treason. This judgement is final and will be processed….”
The Hall of Judgment is quite large, and it has taken some time for me to find a small Shrine of Akatosh. A katana floats midair in front of the shrine.
I have picked up the sword and can detect a very powerful dweomer of fire. It is an ancient katana and most likely of Akaviri construction. I assume it is one of the keyblades since it was in a place of reverence.
I hoped to find the key to Tiber Septim’s Shrine within this hall, but extensive searching has failed to locate it. I am sick of cold and wet feet from the foot of water covering the hall’s floor, and the hatred emanating from the miasma is constant and disturbing.
A short alcove from the Hall of Judgment has led to a door with Arkay’s symbol above it. My ancient map says the door is to Sancre Tor’s Hall of the Dead. At a later stage, somebody put ‘Catacombs’ in brackets after that title. There is also a cross denoting the trapdoor I saw earlier. It seems that would-be thieves were dropped into the Hall of the Dead and not expected to survive. So, what is the idiot called Wulf about to do? He is going to enter through the door voluntarily.
I was prepared to face a few undead when I entered these catacombs. Instead, what I am facing is dozens of undead! Many of the Draugr are powerful users of the Thu’um. It would only take one of them to encase me in ice, and my life would be forfeit! I can’t hold back and must attack with spell, Thu’um and sword relentlessly and quickly.
My Thu’um is powerful enough to reduce many of the undead to ashes.
I am encountering groups of Draugr in their passive state.
I can’t risk the miasma suddenly corrupting them, so I eliminate them before they become aggressive.
After destroying well over one hundred undead, I have found another keyblade mounted before a Shrine of Kyne. It has a very powerful lightning dweomer and is also of Akaviri construction.
I have made my way back to the Hall of Judgment and from there to the Entrance Hall. I will now head for Sancre Tor’s Prison. I have two of the keyblades but not the key to Tiber Septim’s Shrine. I had better update Rigmor.
“Oh, one of my many lovers, I suppose.”
“Yes, I was just wondering where I am in the queue?”
“That depends on how many Sweet Rolls you have.”
“On a serious note, this place is far more dangerous than I thought it would be. The only other place I have faced such powerful undead and in such numbers was inside Mehrunes Dagon’s Temple above Markarth. I went there to retrieve Scourge for Boethia. I came closer to death in that place than at any other time. I must say Malesam came closer to being skewered by me when sending me there than at any other time as well.”
“Have you conjured some help?”
“The avatar of Shor did not appear when I used that Shout. I don’t feel right conjuring Dremora Lords or Dragon Priests within Sacre Tor, so I have not done so. I don’t think summoning any of The Sentinels here is a good idea. They may be overcome by the miasma that permeates the place. It is a black mist that creates the hostile undead and turns the Draugr guards, who should be friendly, against me. We experienced a weaker version when we first travelled together. It turned the rats and Skeevers against us in droves.”
“In that mine? I remember. That was creepy enough!”
“The dweomer this time is far more powerful. I wouldn’t mind a few hundred Skeever instead.”
“Remember the burnt miners?”
“I disliked the Thalmor before then, but that pile of bodies made me detest them beyond words.”
“What do you have to do now?”
“The evil in Sancre Tor is the Underking. A seal that used part of Tiber Septim’s life force has failed.”
“Which of the two Underkings?”
“I have no idea. So I have to collect three swords, called keyblades, and somehow use them to reseal the Underking’s prison.”
“Wulf has to count to three! We are doomed!”
“I had better get back to concentrating on my environment.”
“You seem less anxious.”
“I have been too busy surviving to be anxious.”
“Well, keep surviving. I have plans that require your assistance.”
“You are a big girl. You can undress without my help.”
“Ah, but that is only the beginning of my devious plans!”
“Your perverted plans?”
I have reached the door to the prison. Unlike the Hall of Judgment, I cannot detect any great malevolence beyond it.
I am pleasantly surprised to open a door in Sancre Tor and not immediately encounter a horde of undead.
The prison is the most illuminated area of Sancre Tor so far. But, surprisingly, it is also the most damaged.
I am encountering undead but nowhere near the numbers within the Entrance Hall or Hall of Judgement.
A Draugr who approaches me is not aggressive and does not carry a weapon. Still, he could be strong in the Thu’um and become aggressive. Therefore I have no choice but to take him down.
I searched the weaponless Draugr and found a key. Hopefully, it is the one to Tiber Septim’s Shrine.
There are many cells within the prison. Most are empty, but I have found a few containing piles of bones.
I have picked a lock to an iron door.
That locked door led to a torture and interrogation chamber. Weirdly, the skeleton in the rack seems pleased to see me.
I have come across a suicide.
Suicide, I can understand. However, hanging yourself while still wearing your backpack is something I do not understand.
I have opened the backpack and retrieved a journal and patchwork cloak. The cloak has a strong dweomer for protection against fire, ice, electricity and magic. The journal reads,
“My travels have finally come to an end.
After many years of travelling Tamriel far and wide, avoiding bandits and beasts, wars, plagues and horrid storms or sweltering sands, I now find myself confined to this place. I’ve barricaded myself into this cell which will end up as my tomb, I fear.
I hear the dead lurk through the halls and the wails of the angry spectres echoing through the corridors. They occasionally pass my hollow cage and glance my way but make no effort to enter, if they even could, that is.
I’ve run out of food, have no source of warmth, and the water that lies at the foot of this place is fouled with the touch of the dead. I have precious little time, and I would rather end it now than wait for these foul creatures to overwhelm me.
If anyone reads these final thoughts, take my cloak and protect it well. It is the prize of a long life of journey.
I hooked Jesto’s cloak onto the back of my armour. I look stupid in my Penitus Oculatus armour and a patchwork cloak hanging off the back, but who is around to laugh? I don’t think Jesto was a prisoner. His skeleton does not seem that old. I assume he came into the Sancre Tor out of curiosity and found himself trapped by the undead. I am positive Auryen will know of Jesto and find space in the museum to tell his story.
A corridor leading from the prison ends in an impressive set of double doors. As I approach the doors, the feeling of hatred directed at me is growing uncomfortable. The animosity is far more potent than what I felt outside the Hall of Judgement.
On the ground before the doors is a broken seal. I have found the Underking’s Tomb but dare not enter without the three keyblades.
I have searched every inch of the prison and found no keyblade. So it is time to try the key and see if it opens Tiber Septim’s Shrine.
I have made my way back to the Entrance Hall and then the doors to Tiber Septim’s Shrine. I have used the key, and it has unlocked the doors. However, as I stand before the doors, my anxiety has reached new heights. I cannot but feel something profound is about to happen. Rigmor must have sensed my trepidation.
“Talk to me, my Dragonborn.”
“I am standing before the door to Tiber Septim’s Shrine. I have unlocked it but fear to enter.”
“Whatever your past, you are the man I love. You have spent a fortune building an orphanage that you are yet to visit since its opening. Why have you not visited it?”
“I have been careful. My enemies might endanger the children for leverage if they knew I showed interest.”
“The orphanage is one example of your countless sacrifices for the good of others. Despite your desire to visit and interact with the children, you have put their welfare first. Nothing from your past can change who and what you are right now unless you let it. But we don’t even know if you will learn anything.”
“My intuition, my gut feelings. They are the senses I use to survive against the odds. They are telling me there are secrets here that have been hidden from me. Who knows, my past may explain the animosity that the Underking has for me.”
“Who knows? Maybe? Listen to yourself! Wulf, don’t let conjecture get in the way of discovery. You revere Talos as I do and my father did. What is there to fear from his shrine? You should be excited beyond belief!”
“I would never walk away from a Divine Task. Therefore, I will enter and try to enjoy the experience.”
“I look forward to you telling me about it and laughing at your unnecessary worries.”
“What if I find out I was once a Thalmor agent?”
“I will still marry you one day so that I could divorce you for once being an arsehole.”
“You are so kind.”
“I try. Now shush and get going!”
I entered the shrine, and calmness has swept over me as if Rigmor was by my side.
I am approaching Tiber Septim’s Shrine with enthusiasm. Rigmor is correct. I should not be scared of who I was. Instead, I should be comfortable with what I have become.
I am standing before the familiar statue of Tiber Septim and can sense Talos’ presence.
On a table before the statue of Tiber Septim is an Elder Scroll and a modern helm of an Imperial Legate.
I looked up at the statue and said, “Is this a joke? Go and fetch a piece of Tiber Septim’s armour, I am told. I know that helm’s style was only introduced recently. So what is going on?”
The room was briefly coloured red by a flash coming from my gem bag.
I am looking at the table once more. An ancient helm that matches the armour Talos’ avatar wears has replaced the modern helm.
I growled and said, “Very funny. Is this your attempt to remove my anxiety? Rigmor has already achieved that without being a complete bastard!”
I turned to the four ghostly Blades guarding the shrine.
The Blades first revered this location within Sancre Tor as it is where Tiber Septim received Akatosh’s blessing.
The armour he gifted them was placed here long before he died, and many Blades made a pilgrimage to view it.
When Tiber Septim was still alive, a curse was placed upon this room by Zurin Arctus, his deceased Battlemage and one of the most powerful mages known. Zurin had died confronting Wulfharth when constructing the Numidium, the massive Dwemer automaton. Both Zurin and Wulfharth are called the Underking in different texts, and it may be that both are. But that is the type of gobblygook that makes me dribble, so I will not get into it.
One disputed book claims that Tiber Septim lied and said his loyal Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, died trying to kill him and take the throne.
Tiber Septim used the Numidium to wipe out entire families, even those who had shown no hostility to his rule. A thousand-foot-tall metal monster killed countless men, women and children so that he could feel safe in his rule. I know he did questionable things to provide a long period of stability to the people. He achieved that, but such sacrifice of innocents is something I could never do.
Zurin placed the curse from the afterlife because he believed how Tiber Spetim used the Numidium was an insult to him. Zurin had died to make Numidiium work, so the perceived insult generated extreme anger and a thirst for vengeance. Tiber Septim sent his four most competent Blades to remove the curse, but they never returned. The spirits of the four Blades had been trapped by Zurin and forced to be guards over the corrupted shrine. The curse remained till the Hero of Kvatch defeated the four undead Blades in individual combat. Martin Septim had sent the Hero of Kvatch to Sancre Tor to retrieve Tiber Septim’s breastplate. Tiber Septim’s blood inside the breastplate was required for opening a portal to Paradise, Mankar’s realm in Oblivion.
The four Blades trapped by Zurin were all male. However, two out of the ghostly four in front of me are female, so these are not those fabled four.
They must be volunteers who are now guarding the cleansed tomb. There is a Nord male and female, a female Redguard and a male Dunmer. They watch me as I move about but do not respond to questions. Finally, I said to them, “Sorry, but I do not know your names or history or how long you have been here. But I thank you for guarding this shrine. Like Martin Septim, I need to borrow a piece of Tiber’s armour. I promise to return it soon.”
A voice spoke in my mind. There is only one who can do that. Talos said, “They know who you are. They know what you are about to do. Look down. You will need the key. Take the circlet as a keepsake. I once wore it, and the centre ruby is named The Regal Jewel.”
I looked down and saw a key and a beautiful circlet on a golden platter.
As I picked up the key and circlet, Talos warned, “Beware of Zurin! His power is great, even in his current form. When he and Wulfarth fought, Zurin died, and they became one being with two souls. Both are Underking, and Zurin did try and kill me before his life force entered the Mantella. Wulfarth’s life force also entered the Mantella. When Zurin’s spirit fought and destroyed the Numidium, the Mantella was lost. Some say it ended up in Aetherius, but that implies The Nine care so little we would not release their life forces from their prison. That is not the case as we are unaware of the location of the Mantella. It could very well be within Oblivion. While the Mantella contains their life forces, neither Underking can move onto an afterlife.”
I asked, “Why does Zurin hate me so? Is it because I am trying to renew the seal on his tomb?”
“No. Zurin hates you for who your father is. It is almost time to tell you some truths but let this task play out to its conclusion first.”
“I place my trust in The Nine. You will tell me when the time is right.”
“Go forth with courage. You can overcome Zurin. The Nine believe in you.”
In front of the golden plate was a chest. I opened it, and the third keyblade lay within. I lifted the ancient Akaviri katana from the chest and detected a strong frost dweomer.
I have just lifted Tiber Septim’s helm from the table, and like my coin, sword and the circlet, I can sense Talos’ presence.
I have turned around and found that all four ghostly guards are on their feet. All four salute and watch as I walk past them to exit the room.
I quickly made my way to the Sancre Tor Prison and then to the entrance of Zurin’s tomb.
“My dear Rigmor, I am about to confront the Underking. It is Zurin Arctus, and Talos said he hates me for who my father is.”
“Was he disobeying Lord Akatosh this time?”
“I don’t think so. He was encouraging me. I don’t think Old Scaly would be upset with that.”
“Isn’t that a bit blasphemous, calling your celestial father ‘Old Scaly’?”
“Probably. I will remember to donate a septim and ask for forgiveness next chance I get.”
“Did you ask Talos who your father is?”
“You know my suspicion. It would make sense for Zurin to hate me if my suspicion is correct.”
“Are you coming home after fixing the seal?”
“I might be a bit late because I saw this beautiful muddy hole outside.”
“Wulf, you are….”
With a smile on my face, I am opening the doors to Zurin’s tomb. Hinges protest with loud squeals. They were probably last greased centuries ago.
I had to raise three sets of gates before reaching the main chamber of the tomb. The gates were designed to keep things inside the tomb, not keep people out.
As soon as I stepped into the central chamber, a massive wave of Magicka washed across the room from a closed sarcophagus.
Several undead arose from the many bones scattered throughout the chamber. However, they were no stronger than the hundreds I had already destroyed in Sancre Tor.
The lid to Zurin’s sarcophagus is tightly sealed in place. The hate that comes from within is intense.
On three sides of the room are statues of a monk-like person some people call The Watcher. Similar statues, but many times larger, were dotted around Sovngarde when I was there.
In front of each statue was a slot for a keyblade.
When I inserted a keyblade into a slot, the statue would explode, and I would get cut by shrapnel.
After I inserted the third keyblade, the lid of Zurin’s sarcophagus vanished, and his spirit emerged.
I ran to confront the Underking, who said, “I can’t kill a god, but I can kill his son!”
It was shocking to hear those words, but I had mentally prepared myself for this truth months before. I could not let this confirmation distract me. I could tell by the amount of Magicka stored within Zurin’s spirit that I was facing a formidable foe.
I have only ever received minimal injuries from the most potent Destruction spells cast at me. The protective dweomer I place on my armours are more robust than any other I have encountered. Yet I might as well have been naked for all the protection they offered against the might of Zurin’s spells.
I could not survive for long against the ferocity of his attacks and regretted not protecting myself more with Dragon Aspect.
I could not concentrate enough to cast a spell. The only thing that issued from my throat was a scream and not the Thu’um. The only thing I could do was swing my new sword with all the speed and power I could.
It was not enough. I fell to my knees and knew I was beaten. Then Rigmor pleaded, “Don’t you dare die! One day we will buy a farm, and I will wait for you and our daughter on the veranda. Think of all who need you to live so they can live. Don’t you dare die!”
I thrust my sword into the spirit of Zurin, and it was his turn to scream as he turned to ash.
I knelt, exhausted and severely injured and I almost passed out. Fortunately, Rigmor would not allow that. She urged, “Listen to me, my silly Dragonborn. I can tell you are burnt and hurt and are tired, but you can’t sleep. It won’t be sleep! You must heal yourself!”
Talos’ entered my head and said, “I can’t help you. You alone must resist the call of Aetherius and the cessation of pain. We need a mortal to save us all. Fight, my son. Fight.”
I cast Grand Healing on myself, then plummeted into darkness.
When I regained consciousness, I felt like a mountain had fallen on me. Rigmor said, “Hang on, Wulf, I have to tell the others.”
A few seconds later, Rigmor explained, “Every person in Silverpeak Lodge has been sitting in silence for over two hours, except for those praying, while waiting for me to say you are okay. Tears are flowing, even from Gregor! The children have been comforted by the dogs, even Kaiser. Don’t ever think you are unloved by those who know you.”
“I have shared that dream with you when awake and when asleep. So it will happen, my beloved.”
“You know what I dream?”
“Only that one. Last time others shared it.”
“Tiber Septim, my father, and that beautiful lady. She must be my mother.”
“When Talos talked to you, I heard him. You are his son. Now there is no reason for them not to reveal who your mother is.”
“I was so close to death, and no convenient god was here to protect me from it. The power that Zurin possessed was remarkable. I am a potent mage. But compared to Zurin’s, my power is negligible.”
“At least you know why he hated you so.”
“We can’t let people know of my parentage. Whether or not I wanted it, I would be nominated by the Elder Council as the next emperor. They would say, and correctly that my refusal to accept the throne after Titus Mede II would bring instability and possibly war. I do not desire to be emperor!”
“It will be our secret. Can you come to me now?”
“I don’t know. Let me look around this tomb. I think the keyblades are only a temporary replacement for a seal that was on the door. There may be clues as to what I have to do next in here.”
As I approached the ashes of Zurin, everything turned momentarily red as a shard of the Red Diamond in my gem bag reacted to something. I stared at the gem bag and was surprised to see it was singed but intact. My armour needed a good clean and polish. Jesto’s cloak was untouched!
I should not be able to move or function in any way. I doubt I have healed myself completely, but thankfully, there is no mirror for me to see how I looked.
I have sifted through Zurin’s ashes and found a ring. It has a red diamond-shaped gem in its centre, but I can sense no dweomer. Since the shards reacted to it, it is likely one of the relics that Lord Akatosh wants me to find before he will recreate The Amulet of Kings.
I was so absorbed with finding the ring and contemplating my health that I didn’t notice a portal that has appeared at one end of the room!
I am approaching the portal and know where it will take me.
“Rigmor, a portal to Aetherius has appeared.”
“Oh, that means I will lose all sense of you when you enter it. I hate that!”
“I am keen to see what is on the other side now that it is not death but curiosity that takes me there.”
“Okay, I will let the others know where you are going.”
“I will talk to you the moment I am back. However, you had better wait for me in Bostin. When I remove the Ayleid Waystone, that is where I will teleport to.”
“Okay. Oh, speaking of the Waystone, there is something suspicious about it.”
“Why did the Ayleid make a Waystone for something that did not exist? Sancre Tor was a small hill called Tor during the time of the Slave War.”
“More Divine meddling. It was extremely convenient that Auryen had a Waystone in his collection that brought me to a fortress that did not exist when Waystones were made.”
“See you soon!”
I stepped through the portal and was instantly transported to a pocket plane of Aetherius. I was in a small room with a prominent symbol of The Empire in the centre.
The walls looked fragile
The roof seemed equally as fragile.
I heard the unmistakable sound of dragon wings and then a thump as their owner landed nearby.
The wall and roof fell away.
In a field of weightless ruins, a magnificent Dov has landed. His colours are orange and black.
I stepped closer, and then his voice boomed, “The wayward son returns home.”
I was shocked by those first words. But I had no time to ponder, so I asked, “You are not Bormahu. May I know your name before we tinvaak?”
“I am the voice, the eyes and the breath which makes Akatosh’s will be known. I am his Qolaas, and you are his child, Dovahkiin.”
“Qolaas means herald. May I call you Herald?”
“If you so desire.”
“Then Drem Yol Lok. Greetings, Herald of Akatosh.”
“Ahh, the archaic greeting of Paarthurnax. It has been a long time since last I heard it.”
“The Divines have guided my path here. Do you know why?”
“I am afraid there are several steps that need taking before the entirety of the answer may be given. At this moment, you are the gatherer of the symbols of those who came before you, brought here to beseech his lordship to do your bidding.”
“I have thwarted the plans of Mehrunes Dagon and recovered the shards of the Red Diamond. I am unsure as to why it is needed at this time, but nonetheless, I ask Lord Akatosh to reconstruct the Chim-el Adabal from the shards and recreate the Amulet of the Kings.”
“I was warned you might ask without the humility others would exhibit.”
“I do not ask for selfish reasons but the benefit of the mortals of Nirn. As far as I know, Lord Akatosh desires this reconstruction to happen, so I am not asking for something he has not already agreed to.”
“Many of us questioned the wisdom in having your parents educate you. However, I can see they have done well.”
“Herald of Akatosh, will Lord Akatosh do as I have asked. Will he reconstruct the Chim-el Adabal and Amulet of the Kings?
“You do not have the complete offering. The blood of the mother you have in full. The breath of the father you have yet to obtain fully.”
“Why the riddles? Why not tell me what needs to be recovered?”
“The Nine are sympathetic to your plight. The threads of time are infinite, and we do our best to steer you in the direction needed to maintain a timeline that gives us all, gods and mortals, the best chance of surviving the coming darkness. We will endeavour to be more forthcoming on the purpose of your tasks and their objective in the future. But, for now, take what I have said to Auryen and do what he suggests. Only then will this task be completed.”
“At least tell me what this task will achieve.”
“It will strengthen your mother who battles the one that is a catalyst for the darkness. She has fought him for several years, and we are not sure of when her burden will cease.”
Before I could ask more, the Ayleid Waystone slipped from my neck and into my hand.
I appeared before the startled Rigmor and struggled to say, “Tell Nubaree, back to Solitude.”
Then I fell backwards, and Rigmor screamed.
In and out of consciousness, I floated. When awake, I had difficulty separating reality from the fever dreams.
The only things I positively knew were real was the quiet that only Rigmor’s presence provides and her love that enveloped me. My beloved kept me anchored to life as I fought against the pain of a ruined body.
A young voice that should have been full of the wonders of life broke through the fog and said, in a tone full of worry, “I am going to make you sleep. Don’t fight it. You will survive, but only if you let me work while you sleep. After that, we will seek aid at the College to repair the damage.”
I laughed as I heard Celestine’s incantation of one of the most basic novice spells. A Sleep spell has no hope of working on me! It did. And I knew no more till I awoke with Rigmor by my side.