Fredas, 30th Morning Star, 4E 202
I was enjoying a good breakfast and talk when Inigo came bursting through the door of Silverpeak Lodge and called my name. I had never seen Inigo so riled up before, so I rushed over to him.
He exclaimed, “My friend, I think the Morag Tong have sent many assassins! People are in danger!”
“Slow down, Inigo. Explain what happened.”
“Latoria and I went to The Bee and Barb for a few drinks and dinner. When we left Honeyside, I noticed a couple of Dunmer who had been watching us when we visited the market earlier in the day. They were wearing plain leather armour, but their weapons were of top quality. They tried to act nonchalant as they leant against a fence overlooking the canal. They were not thieves as I know most of them, and they are far better at being incognito than these clowns.”
“Did Latoria notice them?”
“Dear Latoria does not have enemies. She has never honed the skills of self-preservation that we possess.”
“So, what did you do about them?”
“Once we entered The Bee and Barb, I told Latoria about my suspicions. She stayed with Keerava and Talen-Jei while I left via another door. I swam to Honeyside’s jetty and snuck inside the house, and then hid in a corner. About half an hour later, the two Dunmer also came in through that entrance. I listened to them. They had a writ for your execution but would get paid extra for any of your accomplices that they murdered. They have assassins in all your houses.”
My Dovah wanted to take over, and I let him. Inigo stared at me, then shook his head.
“Wulf, you have to think this through.”
“What did you do to them?”
“I leapt out of my hiding spot and killed them.”
“Did they have a writ on them?”
“Yes, identical ones. Here, read it.”
Inigo handed me a Grey Writ which read,
“Honourable Writ of Execution: Wulf
The aforementioned personage has been marked for honourable execution in accordance with the lawful tradition and practices of the Morag Tong Guild.
The bearer of this non-disputable document has an official sanctioned licence to kill the aforementioned personage.”
Inigo said, “I made my way back to The Bee and Barb and told Latoria. I escorted her back to Solitude using the Travelling Machine. Then I used it to get to Whiterun and then ran here.”
“I don’t need to think this through. Targeting me is expected. But I have always dreaded the day they use loved ones as a way to hurt me. Luckily, we started that roster system for the houses. Nobody else is using one today. But it could easily have been four or five houses of innocents at the mercy of the Morag Tong.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to teleport to every home and kill every one of them. Then I might pay a visit to their headquarters in Solstheim.”
“You can’t do that by yourself! Let us help.”
“Inigo, this is personal, and I can do it by myself. But I have a task for The Sentinels. You can assist Lydia if you wish.”
I looked out over the room. My Dovah’s anger was fuelled by the love I felt for those in the room.
Inigo and I walked over to Lydia and Serana.
- Wulf: Assassins are targeting my houses and anybody inside of them!
- Lydia: Oh no!
- Serana: Your eyes tell me your dragon is in charge. Put him away. Talk to us and come up with a plan.
- Wulf: I have a plan. I am going to teleport to each house and kill the assassins. I want Serana, Celestine, Inigo, and Lydia also to visit each house, kill the assassins that I haven’t and clear away the ones I have. The Grey Write is to be collected from each body.
- Inigo: Wulf says he might attack their headquarters in Solstheim!
- Ghorbash: I will gladly help you with that.
- Wulf: No, Ghorbash. I want them to know the wrath of The Dragonborn. I want them to be scared. If they don’t learn, I will find their other hiding places and destroy them one by one!
- Lydia: Wulf, please…
- Wulf: NO! I have given my instructions and am wasting time!
I teleported to Honeyside.
Rigmor had been trying to get my attention none stop since Inigo told me about the assassins. I finally relented.
Rigmor asked, “What is wrong? I have never felt this level of anger. Talk to me, please!”
“Assassins are targeting me, but they also get bonuses for killing anybody they find in my houses.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Visit each house and kill the assassins.”
“Who is with you?”
“Just me and my Dovah. They cannot be allowed to threaten those I love! I am going to kill the ones in my houses and wipe out their headquarters in Solstheim. The Morag Tong is a business. If I am a very unprofitable target, then maybe they will be smart and leave us alone.”
“You can’t do it by yourself! It is too dangerous.”
“You attacked a Thalmor Embassy single-handed, so should have some inkling of what drives me to do this. I have to do this by myself. It has to be me that they fear. Please, do not plead with me. Just tell me that you understand. Tell me you will still love this monster who wants to hurt, main and kill.”
“Wulf, you don’t want to kill them. You have to kill them and have every right to do so. Just don’t let your Dovah’s anger get you killed.”
“I have to get moving. Every minute increases the chance somebody will walk into one of my houses, and I don’t know where this would lead if an innocent got hurt.”
“I know where it would lead. Go, my love. Show them what The Dragonborn will do to them if they persist. Let them see you in their nightmares.”
“I love you.”
“And I will always love you. Never question that!”
I inspected the bodies of the two Morag Tong. They did not wear their usual uniform as that would make it impossible to blend into the population. Their leather armour was well made but no different from what many guards, adventurers and sellswords wear. Their weapons were excellent and of a quality that far surpassed the armour. If they had used lower quality weapons, Inigo might not have taken much notice of them.
I was not going to use stealth, the Thu’um or spells. My Dovah wanted to cut them down. I teleported into Heljarchen Hall and surprised four Morag Tong. Because the homestead was away from crowds, these assassins wore their traditional armour. It did them no good.
The occasional arrow would imbed itself in my armour but rarely penetrated enough even to scratch me. My opponents would fare better with melee weapons, but I wasn’t going to tell them that.
I teleported to Lakeside Manor.
I burst through the door to the dining room and caught three Morag Tong by surprise. Because Lakeside Manor is also isolated, they were wearing their traditional armour.
The first three died with the first three swings of my sword.
The fourth I decapitated with my fourth swing.
I teleported to Breezehome.
I let a dual-wielder think he had a chance.
Then I cut him in two.
Another Morag Tong tried leaping over the furniture to get to me.
I killed him while he was in mid-air.
I teleported to Proudspire Manor’s bottom floor then ran upstairs to where two assassins had made themselves at home.
I teleported to Vlindrel Hall and rushed two assassins.
I teleported to Severin Manor.
Six Morag Tong fell to six sword strokes.
I trusted The Sentinels to check on my houses in Winterhold. I was eager to tackle the Morag Tong headquarters. I exited Severin Manor and made my way using invisibility. I ignored the bandits and other enemies that crossed my path. I had only one reason for being in Solstheim.
I arrived at the Morag Tong headquarters and Shouted Dragon Aspect.
I then went invisible once more and approached the Morag Tong sentries, who were too relaxed. They probably never thought they would come under attack.
I used the Slow Time Shout, which made me visible and attacked.
All five sentries died before the first one had finished falling to the ground.
So confident were the Morag Tong of their numbers and security they had no sentries posted inside.
Their headquarters were a death trap. Multiple rooms branched off a single corridor with one large room at the end. All I had to do was stand my ground and use Chain Lightning and Unrelenting Force. They were going to die without getting close enough to swing at me.
The Morag Tong are not warriors. They are relatively weak compared to a seasoned bandit. But with the numbers I was about to face, I could be overwhelmed. I had to keep them at a distance.
I said hello with Unrelenting Force.
After that, it was a massacre with only the occasional arrow ineffectively hitting my armour.
After the first few dozen died, the remainder realised a frontal assault was futile. I had to go hunting.
The last Morag Tong screamed as they ran towards me. It was not a battle cry. It was pure terror and the last sound they ever made.
Ninety-seven Morag Tong fell to my wrath inside their Solstheim headquarters.
In a few hours, one hundred and twenty-two Morag Tong had fallen to my sword, spells, and Thu’um.
Including Mandyn yesterday and the two that Inigo killed, at least One hundred and twenty-five assassins culled from the Morag Tong. I don’t care how big they are. That has to put a dent in their effectiveness.
I left a note for the Morag Tong leadership.
“I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines.
I have slaughtered over one hundred and twenty Morag Tong assassins single-handed using a fraction of my capabilities.
Imagine what I could do if I called on dragons to fight beside me! What if I used the full power of my Thu’um? Do you think any of your hideouts in Morrowind would fare any better than here?
You owe me your very existence. More than once, I have saved all the mortals of Nirn. I have been told by the gods that I am the only one who can save you all at least once more soon. Therefore, if you ever did manage to complete a Grey Writ and kill me, you would be dead before long.
Take notice, for this is not an idle threat.
When you target me, you target all mortals! I have accepted that contracts will be made on my life. So be it.
However, threatening those that I love is not something I will accept.
HARMING A SINGLE PERSON BECAUSE THEY ARE ASSOCIATES OF MINE WILL RESULT IN ME DESTROYING THE MORAG TONG! I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN, AND I DOUBT THERE IS ANYTHING YOU COULD DO TO STOP ME.”
I teleported to Raven Rock and made my way to Morvayn’s house.
The door guard stuck his head in and asked Councillor Morvayn if he would see me. When the answer was affirmative, I removed my helm and entered.
My Dovah was still in control. Morvayn looked unsure as the eyes of a dragon looked into his.
“Relax, Councillor Morvayn. I am still Commander Valdr.”
“I assume your eyes have something to do with being Dragonborn?”
“I have let my dragon half come to the fore. I do that when mercy would only get in the way.”
The inside guard started to approach with his hand on his weapon.
I said, without turning, “The Councillor is not in danger.”
Morvayn nodded to the guard, who returned to their place near the door.
I continued, “Morag Tong assassins have infiltrated my homes in Skyrim and Severin Manor. Their writ was for me, but bonuses have been offered for any acquaintances they killed. Writs become Grey Writs when enacted upon in Imperial territory. The unnecessary killing of bystanders is illegal even in Morrowind.”
“You know that there is very little I can do about the Morag Tong. I fail to see how I can help with this matter.”
“I knew that, so I helped myself. I have wiped out the local Morag Tong headquarters and killed dozens of assassins in Skyrim. That is the second time I have cleared out their local chapter. I have left them a note accepting full responsibility and warning them to cease their threats against my acquaintances. I thought you should know because inevitably, they will come asking questions.”
“Yes, and it is better for me that I know after the fact who did the cleansing. Otherwise, they might whisper I am incompetent to certain parties. Next thing I know, there is a writ with my name on it.”
“House Hlaalu sponsored these latest writs. It seems they dislike me almost as much as they dislike you.”
“There is nothing to do now but wait for the visit. It was illegal what you did, so I am taking a risk by not arresting you.”
“They attacked me first, and I defended myself. It would be interesting how they could argue that point without witnesses.”
“True. Plus, the Morag Tong was breaking your laws with the Grey Writs.”
“Morrowind will find itself isolated if Grey Writs continue to go unpunished. But your leaders do not dare to confront the Morag Tong over them. It would take a united stance from all the Great Houses.”
“There is not much chance of that.”
“Call your guards so they can witness my escape! Just as you were contemplating arresting me!”
Councillor Morvayn laughed, then yelled, “Guards! Guards!”
The one already in the room drew his sword and approached, and the door guard burst in. I teleported to my room in Silverpeak Lodge.
I put my Dovah away, then fell onto my knees and stared at my hands. They are capable of so much more than killing. But I couldn’t let the Morag Tong think they can threaten those close to me without consequence. I wasn’t seeking revenge this time but issuing a warning. I know what I could do if seeking revenge. It scares me.
“You are calm, and your Dovah is quiet.”
“Can you come over later?”
“I can come over in an hour.”
“I need to decide a few things. You can help. You always help.”
“You did what was needed. Don’t think of it any other way.”
“It is hard not to.”
“That is why you need a distraction. Go outside and play with the children.”
“I will. I think I need to remind myself of what I am fighting for.”
“I will see you soon.”
I changed into some clothing. I would have to visit the Dragon Forge to repair my armour. A few minutes later, my self-loathing was interrupted by the sound of a dragon landing out the front of Silverpeak Lodge.
Seconds later, a loud, “Dovahkiin, are you there?” let me know it was Odahviing.
I went outside to see what my scaly friend wanted.
So used to Odahviing are the children they said a brief hello to him and continued with what they were doing!
“Odahviing, I hope you haven’t dislodged any shingles this time!”
“No, I had to be careful to avoid the airship and not blow over the little ones.”
“Have you come craving tinvaak, or is there another reason?”
“I think I will fly headfirst into a mountain if I start craving tinvaak as much as Paarthurnax.”
“Yes, you are too busy flying circles around The Throat of The World to tinvaak.”
“It gives people for miles around the chance to enjoy my splendour.”
“You are a distant red dot to most.”
“But a most handsome red dot!”
“Okay, flying ego, why have you interfered with my self-loathing?”
“Have you ever heard of Maldov or, as the mortals called them, Dragonett?”
“No, but considering the Dovahzul and Tamrielic names, I assume it is a species of smaller dragon.”
“You visited Skuldafn, Alduin’s eyrie. There were several cities like that one where mortal and dragon co-existed. But it was impractical to make every room suitable for our size, so a Shout was created. Few Dov knew the Shout, and it has since been lost to time. If a Dovah volunteered, the Shout would reduce them to the size of a mortal. Make no mistake, Dovhakiin, they are Dov! Their size makes them vulnerable, so during and after the Dragon War, they hid. Bormahu asked for volunteers, and some Maldov emerged to help you, Dovahkiin. You will find them at Dragons Keep. Along with the three or four Dov that patrol the area, they will contribute greatly to the security of those that live there.”
“Can they travel via the ethereal plane?”
“They are dragons, just smaller. So, yes, they can travel ethereally.”
“I can see they would be useful messengers as well as guards.”
“That is another duty to which they excel. Two Maldov will be inside at all times for that purpose. They will rotate duties with two who remain outside, as sentries.”
“This sounds like it was pre-planned.”
“I am but a Dovah. I would not know of the sneaky plans of gods!”
“As Rigmor would say. Yeah, right, pfft!”
Odahviing laughed, which was contagious as the children laughed along.
I continued, “The decision has been made. I will have to move us all to Dragons Keep.”
“Why is this, Dovahkiin?”
“There is no word for an assassin in Dovahzul, is there?”
“No, that is a thing of no honour. But I know what they are.”
“They targeted me and anybody they found in my houses. They were waiting in every house I teleported to.”
“You killed them all?”
“Yes, and I travelled to Solstheim and killed close to one hundred in their headquarters there. I left a note saying I would destroy them in Morrowind if anything happened to those I love.”
“The Dov, well most, will always support you if called upon.”
“I will visit Dragons Keep and speak to the Maldov.”
“Farewell, for now, Dovahkiin.”
Odahviing shuffled to the side and leapt off the mountain. That way, he didn’t knock everybody over with his downdraft.
Without warning, Lestat ran up and tagged me. He yelled, “You’re it!” then scattered along with the other children who were outside.
Half an hour later, and after all the children had been made ‘it’ at least once, the game ended. The children were getting tired. I only had to jog while they had been running full pelt.
The laughter of children was what my soul needed.
I stared up at the statue of father and whispered, “I will do what is needed so that children can continue to laugh.”
I walked over to put the wandering cow back into her stall when Rigmor said, “Here I come!”
Rigmor popped out of the ether in front of me, wearing a tight leather riding outfit.
“Wow! That is stunning!”
“Thank you. I had it tailor-made in the Imperial City. I use it when riding Ren, who is currently being spoiled by the stable hands in Bravil.”
The children were watching and waiting for me to kiss Rigmor. There was a chorus of ‘aww’ from the girls and ‘yuk’ from the boys when I did.
“Let us go to Dragons Reach. We shall talk while we are there.”
I teleported to Dragons Reach then Rigmor followed via our rings.
She said, “That is a bit scary for a new child who just arrived. Elisif and I thought that when we toured the place.”
“Yes, I meant to replace it. It was part of the original castle. There are many things I meant to do here, but I haven’t visited since it became operational. I have only seen some of the completed rooms.”
“You were afraid this place would become a target.”
“There are over forty Imperial Legionnaires here as well as several Master Mages. Dragons that live in the area also protect Dragons Keep. When The Sentinels relocate here, this place will be as safe as any in Skyrim for my friends to live.”
“You are moving to Dragons Keep?”
“After today, I don’t think we have a choice.”
“Have you told the children?”
“Not yet. I will tell Olette this is only temporary for her. She is ready to join the Bards College.”
“Children will surround you. That is exactly what you need, my dear Dragonborn.”
An unfamiliar voice called out, “Dovahkiin, we are here to serve.”
Rigmor asked, “Who was that?”
“Come and see. And whatever you do, don’t call them cute!”
We approached the two Maldov, and I forgot that the guards would be unsure who I was. They are rotated every month.
- Wulf: Relax, Captain. I am Commander Valdr. Or perhaps Lord Valdr is more appropriate when in residence since I own the title to this castle. My companion is Lady Frostreaver, visiting from Cyrodiil. Your name?
- Herdir: Captain Herdir Sosis. I am honoured to meet you, Lord Valdr and Lady Frostreaver. Have you come to inspect the works? They are almost complete.
- Wulf: I will be moving into Dragons Keep with my Penitus Oculatus Inspectors and other staff over the next few days.
- Herdir: Uthfaasnu said you might be.
- Wulf: Drem Yol Lok, Uthfaasnu.
- Uthfaasnu: Greetings, Dovahkiin and Lady Frostreaver. I assume Odahviing advised you of our arrival at Dragons Keep?
- Wulf: Yes, he did. I never knew Maldov existed till earlier this afternoon.
- Uthfaasnu: We decided to make ourselves scarce once the Dragon War erupted. We had no desire to fight mortals or serve what most Dragon Priests had become.
I turned to the other honour guard.
- Wulf: Your name, soldier?
- Haennrod: Lieutenant Haennrod Engmenssen, Sir, ah, My Lord.
- Krinbritrah: And I am Krinbritrah, Dovahkiin.
- Wulf: Drem Yol Lok, Krinbritrah.
- Krinbritrah: Welcome to your home, Lord Valdr and Lady Frostreaver.
- Rigmor: Oh, yes, this will be my home when I visit Skyrim, so thank you for your gracious greeting, Krinbritrah.
- Krinbritrah: You are admired by Bormahu, Lady Frostreaver. We have been told much by our father and look forward to getting to know you.
- Rigmor: As I am looking forward to getting to know you and Uthfaasnu. You both seem well versed in court etiquette.
- Krinbritrah: It was drummed into us to ensure we could serve next to nobles of the past without offending visiting dignitaries. We must also show a gentler side considering we are surrounded by kiir, by children.
- Rigmor: And how have they reacted to your presence?
- Uthfaasnu: We have been here more than a day, so they have run out of questions to ask us. Now they approach us to tinvaak about things important to them. It is fascinating to view the world through their eyes. They are wise beyond their years and surprisingly perceptive.
- Wulf: Lieutenant Engmenssen, I assume you have just started your one-month appointment here?
- Haennrod: We have changed to a six-month rotation, My Lord. And yes, this is our first week.
- Wulf: I left it to General Tullius to sort out the rostering. I would not be surprised if he extended the posting even further. There are many skills to be learnt here if you apply yourself.
- Haennrod: Will any of your Sentinels be willing to train us?
- Wulf: I have no doubt Lydia and few others will be more than happy to do so.
- Haennrod: Lydia? That is the sword maiden that fought Alduin in Sovngarde!
- Wulf: Yes, she struck the final blow in that battle.
- Haennrod: I look forward to her kicking my butt in a sparring session!
- Wulf: We will have plenty of time to discuss things over the next few days. But for now, Lady Frostreaver and I must continue our inspection.
We headed for the general classroom, where a geography class was underway. I was introduced by the teacher and did a quick question and answer session with the children.
We exited onto the front porch.
Rigmor could see my tears forming and held my hand. She quietly said, “Wulf, look at how happy they are. Your dream has created this life for them.”
I replied, “And I will do what is necessary to keep them safe. If I have to kill a hundred assassins per day, then so be it.”
Several dragons could be seen nearby, and to distract me from my dark thoughts, Rigmor asked, “Are they guarding Dragons Keep?”
I pointed to one and said, “That is Strunmahwuld. He lived in the area before the Dragon Wars and did not participate in them. He hid until Alduin was defeated. Then he returned to this area and volunteered his assistance. He takes that responsibility very seriously. He has been known to perch where he can tinvaak with the children.”
Another dragon came roaring past.
“That is Krohah. He only appeared recently but has also agreed to defend Dragons Keep.”
I pointed to a dragon in the far distance.
“That is Vuljotnaak. He was defeated during the Dragon War and resurrected by Alduin. He also keeps an eye on Dragons Keep and pledged to attack any who assault it.”
Rigmor said, “I didn’t want to say anything inside because I don’t know how well they hear. But the Maldov are cute!”
“They are dragons. Dragons are not cute!”
“But they are so little!”
“Why does that make them cute?”
“It just does. DUH!”
As we approached the bridge that led to the path down, a Maldov greeted us.
- Gramahjun: Greetings, Dovahkiin and Lady Frostreaver. I am Gramahjun.
- Wulf: Drem Yol Lok, Gramahjun.
- Rigmor: Gramahjun, how did you know my name?
- Gramahjun: Maldov have telepathic links. It is how I would issue a warning to those inside if I see trouble approaching. It only works over a relatively small distance.
- Wulf: I can see why Bormahu asks for volunteers. He knew the presence of Maldov would sway my decision.
- Gramahjun: He said it has always been your desire to live amongst the children. We are pleased to help make that possible.
- Wulf: I look forward to future discussions, Gramahjun.
The stables had grown to six horses. They were all chosen for their temperament. They had to be patient with the children learning how to groom and ride.
Along the path down to the plane was another Maldov.
- Malhaankul: Dovahkiin and Lady Frostreaver, my name is Malhaankul.
- Wulf: Drem Yol Lok, Malhaankul.
- Rigmor: I am pleased to meet you, Malhaankul.
- Malhaankul: Uthfaasnu wishes me to assure you both that the Maldov know of the need for certain secrets and what they are. There is no need to explain or be circumspect. Lady Frostreaver it is until secrecy is no longer required.
- Wulf: I would not expect Bormahu to send you ignorant of the situation.
- Malhaankul: Now, if you don’t mind, I just spotted a wonderfully fat rabbit.
- Wulf: Enjoy your meal, Malhaankul.
- Malhaankul: I am guaranteed to enjoy it more than the fat rabbit!
Malhaankul swooped down, grabbed the squealing rabbit then returned to his perch to consume it.
Rigmor and I moved down the path a bit to get away from the crunching and munching sounds.
Rigmor asked, “Are you going to live in Dragons Nest or the main building?”
“I have decided to live in the main building. I will offer Dragons Nest to Constance and Cairine as caretakers. Did you know they plan to get married?”
“I didn’t even know they were a couple.”
“They kept it to themselves till recently. I think that they were together when Constance worked at Honourhall Orphanage.”
“Lydia is usually so reliable with the gossip!”
“Six children at a time will rotate through Dragons Nest. There they will learn what it is like to live in a household. Something we cannot teach inside Dragons Keep.”
“It is sad that many never experienced a normal life.”
“That is the juggling act. Before coming here, some children were streetwise, even prostitutes. Some had only recently lost their parents but were abandoned by close family members. Some were members of bandit gangs. We have at least half a dozen vampires amongst them. Disparate races and backgrounds, yet they all get along. Adults could learn a lot from these children.”
“Can you show me Dragons Nest?”
“Yes, but why walk. Follow me!”
I teleported to Dragons Nest. Rigmor followed via our rings.
We did a quick tour of Dragons Nest and its basement, where I had a workshop built.
Rigmor commented, “This is as well-equipped as the one in Silverpeak Lodge.”
“A bit more cramped, but yes, everything is here. They have been using it to teach some of the children, so the furnace is always stoked.”
We entered Dragons Keep in time to see the children seated and waiting for their meals to be served.
We sat and joined them for the evening meal, a selection of roast meats and vegetables.
As the meal was being cleared, Rigmor said, “The kitchens were just being finished when I last visited.”
“I haven’t seen them in action either. Let’s go have a look!”
To get to the kitchens, we walked past the common rooms where the guards and other staff could relax.
Rigmor laughed and then said, “These rooms will be popular with The Sentinels!”
“Yes, they will have a bit more freedom to drink here than at Silverpeak Lodge.”
The kitchens were a constant hub of activity twenty-four hours per day.
I showed Rigmor the automatic rotisserie that used Dwemer technology. It prevented the need to employ a rotating shift of people manually turning it.
I had to drag Rigmor past the rack of newly baked treats.
Extra dormitories for the overflow of children had been constructed. Dragons Keep was hosting far more children than I originally envisioned.
We visited the training rooms where Master Mages practised and taught the children. Any injuries were instantly repaired by the expensive crystals that Auryen had tracked down for me. The spells still hurt, so there was much incentive to take the sparring and training seriously.
Combat training was under the supervision of Legion Weapon Masters. All of the children could learn martial skills if they wanted.
We entered the bathing area, and an Argonian child yelled, “Watch me, Wulf!”
He leapt into the water. I said to him, “Well done, D’Usha. Why am I not surprised to see you in the pool before almost everybody else?”
“Soon, there will be queues for all three diving platforms, and you have to be careful not to land on other children. I like to get a few jumps in before the others!”
“I am coming to live here in a couple of days.”
“Really! Wow! Wait till I tell the others.”
As we walked towards the other classrooms, Rigmor asked, “You rescued D’Usha from a bandit lair, didn’t you?”
“Yes, not long after you crossed the border. It is the usual story. D’Usha’s parents were killed by the same bandits who took him in. That is where they get a lot of their recruits.”
“And they expect the children to co-operate?”
“If the child doesn’t, there are plenty of people who will buy them.”
“Even if we reach the other side of whatever the abyss is that The Divines see, there is no guarantee that sort of thing will stop, is there?”
“Not unless there is a plan that I know nothing about.”
“How could they stop such evil?”
“If everybody on Nirn has what they need in terms of ample food, a home and gainful employment, then most evil will cease. There will still be those who want more, but the numbers willing to join their selfish causes would be greatly diminished. There is enough food and land on Nirn to achieve that easily, but borders get in the way. One country can be prosperous while its neighbours starve. That is the main catalyst for war. If both sides of the border had well-fed citizens, there is no need for war.”
“What about religious differences?”
“The Divines and gods of other pantheons are willing to co-exist with Daedra worship. It is only a handful of Daedric Princes who want to enslave or destroy. But they too would find it hard to recruit those who are content with what they have.”
“It sounds simple.”
“It is a dream unless The Divines have a plan to make every region fertile and suitable for habitation.”
I was impressed with the Alchemy Classroom.
And the Enchanting Classroom was just as impressive.
We walked into the temple.
Rigmor commented, “Only The Divines are represented here.”
“We have other rooms for other pantheons. The difficulty is in getting those who can sanctify the shrines in each actually to do so. Plus, we need lecturers for each pantheon.”
“Why have you got both Akatosh and Auri-El shrines?”
“I simply wanted to use the two most common symbols representing my Celestial Father. To show they are the same as you can’t look at one without seeing the other.”
We headed back to the main hall and then the library.
“See, Rigmor, we have shrines to some other gods here, but they are not sanctified.”
“Where did all the books come from?”
“Every one of them was found by me during my travels. They are duplicates of what we already have in the museum library.”
‘It will take a lot more to fill the shelves.”
“They will get filled, eventually.”
We entered the dormitories. There is a wide range of equipment which the children can use to learn and play.
Each night children gather for a story or two.
I stood, transfixed by the storyteller and the children.
Rigmor whispered, “You seem, I dunno, upset and puzzled.”
I whispered back, “A memory is trying to form. I am in my bed, in a small cottage. Father is reading to me. I am trying to look around. Find clues as to when and where. But I can’t. I can only see what I remember.”
“Come on, my Dragonborn. Don’t let the melancholy take over again. Where next?”
“I want to see how many children are using the pool. If there is one place where children will be silly and laughing and giggling, it will be in the bathing pool.”
“Do they have normal baths and showers?”
“Of course, but the children can choose. Some prefer a normal bath. Others like the bathing pool.”
“You haven’t got any toddlers and babies here.”
“They are easy to get adopted. There is a great demand for them. People don’t realise how many couples marry and then discover for one reason or another that they can’t have children of their own.”
Laughter and giggles echoed in the bathing room. They banished all dark thoughts.
After a few minutes, we headed for the private living quarters.
We looked in on the rooms currently set aside for the Sentinels.
I said to Rigmor, “I will replace the double beds with single beds. It is bad enough sharing a room!”
“It must have been a misunderstanding.”
“Yes, I wasn’t here to supervise, so the blame stops with me.”
We walked into a large room with only one double bed and a lot of wasted space.
I said to Rigmor, “This will be another room for The Sentinels. Beds will be evenly spread around the perimeter. I expect them to be on guard duty for at least one shift per day. They can figure out the rosters. That means some beds will be slept in during the day and others at night. Clean linen is the responsibility of the person getting out of bed. I am sure it will work out once they get into a routine.”
“What about private time, Wulf?”
“I will still allow people to book and use my houses. We can’t give in to fear. It is the children I need to protect.”
In our private room, I had an extra-large bed installed.
“Ah…why the massive bed?”
“So that I can sleep without your elbows digging into me!”
“Mm… the possibilities. Things normally consigned to the floor suddenly become possible on a nice, comfy bed!”
“And those thoughts never crossed your mind?”
“Aha! Who is the pervert?”
Just off the bedroom was a private spa.
Rigmor and I snuck into the dormitories and watched the children sleep. There were others rooms full of children elsewhere in Dragons Keep.
We tiptoed out of the dormitories. It was time for Rigmor to return home. She was supposed to be staying in Bravil overnight and had to be there if needed. We did not want to have to make up excuses for her absence.
I help her tight and whispered, “I will be alright. The kills today have been added to my list even though my Dovah was to the fore. I expect the current numbers will be insignificant by the time The Divines let me rest.”
Rigmor replied, “You are a good man, Wulf Septim. My father was a good man yet had to kill and kill and kill. It is the way of things. You will be surrounded by those you kill to protect. They need people like you and me and my father so they can laugh and giggle, learn and have dreams and hopes.”
“I will be okay, Rigmor. I have come to terms with what I am.”
“I had better go. I will try and spend a few days with you soon.”
I kissed Rigmor on the hand then she vanished.
I will be okay.