Tirdas, 24th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 202 to Fredas, 27th Morning Star, 4E 205
Drifting? Staying in one place? If moving, does it have a purpose? What would be the destination?
I knew something was moving, as I would first hear their laments, cries, pitiable confessions and sincere remorse.
The souls of beings of many different races, the vast majority unknown to me, would drift nearby. They were illuminated by an inner glow that was not strong but compared to the absolute black of The Void, as bright as the sun.
An occasional bipedal being’s soul would drift past. The deceased could have been mistaken for Man or Mer yet invariably wore clothing or armour of foreign design.
There must have been thousands of languages spoken, but I did not need a translation to understand their sorrow and regrets.
But why was I here, in the domain of the dead? Why haven’t The Divines taken me to my afterlife? I have earned my place in Aetherius!
A memory, lost in life but found in death, plays out as if happening at this very moment. My father, Tiber Septim, is reading me a story. Kolb and the Dragon is the title. It is one of those stories where you have to decide what to do at particular moments.
I am the hero, trying to defeat an evil dragon. On the way to where the dragon lives, a ghost has blocked my way. I have decided to attack it instead of paying a gold coin to pass by unharmed. The ghost kills me, and my father laughs, saying that was only the sixth time I died. He puts the book on my shelf, kisses me on my forehead, ruffles my hair then promises we shall try to get to the dragon tomorrow night. He blows out the candle, and I am in the dark. But love surrounds me. The warmth of my body under the heavy furs adds to my contentment. And I soon sleep.
I yearn for that experience. I was a child, but I do not remember my childhood. Such memories were taken from me by my gods. I yearn for them! I am not wailing like the other souls out of remorse, nor do I plead for forgiveness and mercy. I wail with a need to feel the love of my parents once more. The yearning consumes me, and my will demands that the Aurbis obey.
Illuminated souls rush past. I am accelerating, and soon they pass so fast I cannot decern features.
I am in bed. Warm because the air is warm. It must be summer. I hear the cries of deer in the distance, as familiar to me as my heartbeat. I am older than the boy excited about tackling Kolb’s dragon once more. I am a youth. I hear my parents talking but am too tired to listen in. I am home and loved, and sleep beckons.
Who is she, this young girl sobbing so? Those scars! I instinctively reach to touch her and comfort her, but I am not there in corporeal form. An image flashes of three ancient warriors standing before a colossal dragon. I have done this before, whatever it is. Ethereal travel comes to mind, but this is another time, as it was with the warriors and dragon. Forward in time or backward in time, I have no reference to make that judgement.
My immediate concern is the sobbing girl. Her distress echoes the innumerable passing souls of The Void. She is lost, alone and in the dark. To survive her injuries, her will to live must be strong. I talk to her, but no voice can be heard, for I am not there. But still, I try.
“Hush, little one. You are not alone. I am your witness and will share your pain. I cannot rescue you, but I will not leave your side. Sleep, let your body rest. I will watch over you. Let me be your guardian.”
A voice, somehow familiar, asks, “Will you always be my guardian?”
“I can’t promise, but I will try. I will not stop out of choice. I hope that is good enough.”
“Yes, we can only try our hardest. My dad used to say that. The worries of tomorrow are gone, and I feel peace. I can sleep now. Goodnight, my guardian.”
I watch the girl sleep. The rhythm of her breaths, the twitches as she dreams. They are as familiar to me as the braying of the deer.
I should be concerned about what is happening to me. But I am not. All will be okay, as long as this girl is by my side.
I am in a small dungeon. Three jail cells line the wall. Before me is the girl. A wooden stock that grown men would be unable to hold up for long is around her neck. Her arms are bound at either end.
Her face and her body tell me she is young. Early to mid-teens, at the oldest.
I can see they are about to whip this girl. I kneel in front of her.
“We shall share the pain, you and I,” I say to her.
She looks to where I kneel and nods her head. She can’t see me. But she senses my presence as she did when I guarded her. I have no idea how long ago that was.
The torturer looks through his instruments and selects a horse crop.
There are three observers in the room. An elderly Khajiit is looking decidedly uncomfortable. The others are Mer, but I don’t recognise what type. They are talking, but I do not listen. I concentrate on the girl. The crop comes down.
The girl flinches, but no sound issued from her lips. Her brown eyes stare into mine, and I am overwhelmed by the love I see within. And I silently scream with her pain.
Stroke after stroke. The flesh is torn and thrown across the room. The torturer is getting upset as the stubborn girl refuses to acknowledge his handy work.
I plead, “Give them what they want. Scream out, beg for mercy. It will be a hollow victory for them. Surely you have something to live for?”
The girl nods, screams and then yells, “No more! Please! No more!”
The girl falls forward. The Mer all laugh. The Khajiit growls. I weep.
I am back in the dungeon. The elderly Khajiit is dressed in black, and he carries the girl towards a trapdoor. I can hear flowing water below.
The girl is limp and stares straight ahead.
The Khajiit whispers, “The nightmare is over, Rigmor. I shall take you to my home, and you will be safe. Nobody will ever hurt you again.”
I wake and sit up in bed.
Rigmor! That is her name! I am her guardian, and she is not safe. Where is she? I need to protect her!
I yell, “Where is she? Where is Rigmor? Take me to her, please! She needs me. I know she does. Please, please, where is my Rigmor?”
My mother is crying. She is so beautiful. I am sorry I made her cry.
My father looks lost. He does not know what to do.
I yell, “Where is she? Where is Rigmor? Take me to her, please! She needs me. I know she does. Please, please, where is my Rigmor?”
“Hush, my son. You have been through an ordeal, and I will try to explain. First, let me help you stand.”
My father is tiny compared to me, but his strength is that of a god. He had no problems helping me on my feet and steadied me as I grew accustomed to having weight once more.
I looked around and said, “This is Aetherius. Is this my afterlife? If so, some redecoration is in order.”
“You did not die, but your soul was damaged, thrown into The Void and through time. It is complicated, and another with more expertise in that gobblygook will try and explain.”
“What of Rigmor?”
“Rigmor is alive and well. All she knows is you were lost, and we are searching for you. Please, that is all I can say about her for now. We have to start getting you ready to return to Nirn.”
“You said my soul was damaged?”
“What makes you the individual known as Wulf is a combination of nature, nurture and life’s experiences. You remember everything from the time you awoke on the carriage to Helgen, but your perspective has changed. You now see everything as a dragon would, not as a mortal.”
“Why? How did this come about?”
“As I said before, somebody far more knowledgeable will explain that to you.
“When can I return to Nirn?”
“We will keep you here until we can’t afford to keep you any longer. We don’t know if you will be fully healed in time. We shall deal with that if and when it comes to pass.”
“What is it we are trying to heal? What are the symptoms? Could you give me something to grasp? I hate mumbo jumbo, especially when I am living the damn thing!”
“My son, you have always lived as one soul divided. You worked hard to make sure your mortal self has dominance. But the damage done to your soul has shifted that balance. So much so your eyes are permanently that of a dragon. Under stress, you will act like a dragon.”
“How do we heal such a thing?”
“You need to remember important moments. How you felt and why. What decisions you have made then and why. This revisiting of past events will regrow that mortal part of your soul so it can once again be dominant.”
“I am not going to question the effectiveness or necessity of this treatment with those who created me.”
“Good, because if you asked too hard a question, I might have to consult with one of the others. They always find it amusing when I don’t know things. They came into being knowing, while I have to learn. That fact doesn’t stop them being smarmy bastards!”
“What is the first step? I am eager to heal and return to those I love.”
“We shall start with you writing journal entries for the last couple of days in Evermor. They will be the easiest to understand from a mortal’s perspective and begin to change the balance of your soul.”
“Am I to do this in my underwear?”
“You are lucky to be wearing even that. I have never seen an Argonian blush before. She insisted you get clothed.”
“Ahh, see, you logically figured out what Argonian might be in Aetherius. Be assured. There is nothing wrong cognitively. Our concern is a propensity to violence and lack of remorse or empathy.”
“How can I stay in Aetherius for any length of time? I had to cut short my visit to Sovngarde.”
“It has to do with the change in your soul. In the cupboard is a robe. I will fetch your writing case.”
I opened the cupboard to find it full of robes and all of the same design! I put one on then had a quick look around. Father waited patiently at a small table.
I was surprised to see my Guardian General armour. There was also a matching sword, something I had not owned previously.
I have seen more flattering representations of Lady Kyne!
I sat opposite my father, who handed me my journal case.
I commented, “Am I taking this too calmly? Shouldn’t I be panicking and worrying?”
“Dragons don’t panic. They live in the moment and don’t worry about the future. There are some exceptions, such as Paarthurnax, but the generalisation is true enough.”
“I should be fretting over Rigmor, shouldn’t I? I can logically see the changes in me, but I love her no less and am eager to see her once more. I don’t like this me! I am not the man Rigmor loves.”
“Write the journal entries, my son. They will reaffirm who you are. To do this, your mortal self must be to the fore. That should be easy as there are no crises that your dragon self needs concern himself over.”
“You talk about this duality as if it is normal. I was one person who could call on a more callous self. I stopped regarding myself as having a split soul.”
“You know how complex souls are after your experiences at Clockwork Castle. It is just a terminology we use to simplify something so complex. When Silah speaks to you, be prepared for major gobblygook. Now write the journal entries!”
I hesitantly started to write, but I did not have to wrestle for control. My words flowed freely, and so did my emotions.
The only time my Dovah commented was when I wrote about our wrestle for control at the meeting with Ambition and Predothor. All he said was, “You handled the situation correctly whilst I would have only gleamed a fraction of the information. You must heal so there is no conflict. We need, no, I need, to be what I was. Not two but one.”
My father watched with an intensity no mortal could summon. But there is love in those eyes, and it is easy to forget I am sitting opposite one of the most powerful entities in existence.
I don’t know how long it took to write fifty pages outlining the last two days in Evermor. Many hours I assume. When finished, I sat with tears in my eyes.
Father gently took the journal from me then guided me to my bed. He sat in the chair and said, “Sleep!”
I lay down and slept without dreams, for it was not sleeping, but something else. It was the state that people go into when recovering from illness and trauma. Weeks passed before I awoke once more.
I was famished! I am in Aetherius, so I was not surprised there was food cooking constantly. I remember the huge spits and ovens in the Hall of Valour. Nobody tended them, but dead people, who should not hunger, would pile meat and vegetables on golden platters and eat like gluttons.
What did surprise me was Silah sitting in front of the fire.
She said, “Eat, and then we shall talk. I find the burbles of empty mortal stomachs rather disturbing!”
I should have been ashamed of the amount of food I consumed, but I was not. I can’t ever remember being a glutton. I only ate what my body required. I must have looked like a happy pig at a trough as I consumed my large meal.
I let out a healthy belch then made my way back to the chairs in front of the fire. Silah had changed sides.
I sat and was about to ask a question when Silah said, “Hush. This explanation needs me to outline the sequence of events without interruption!”
“I know when to hush when hushed, so hushing I am.”
“I can see your little trip through time hasn’t improved your impertinence.”
“And I can see being squished into an Argonian body hasn’t decreased your sassiness or the size of your rump.”
“There are other things I could be doing.”
“Like weaving together threads of time? That does sound thrilling!”
“You have a point. But anyway, are you ready for this?”
“Go ahead. I am sure it will all make perfect sense.”
“We wondered how much you had remembered of the pocket plane’s closure. Your soul was still attached when your corporeal body was deposited, unceremoniously, in Sigmayne’s castle. That is why you heard Rigmor’s plea. That castle was the destination that Husk had chosen to anchor your cord.
After the Sigil Stone was retrieved, Husk rescued you by creating a cord, a connection to the mortal plane, that you could follow. You recognised that cord had somehow changed you. It had, for what Husk had done was swap some of your lifeforce, the essence of who you are, with his. That is why he was able to drag your soul into Scuttling Void when he so desired. Husk’s powers had grown far beyond what Namira could have envisioned. He was a product of the chaotic nature of Oblivion. This innate power is why Ambition could will himself as a separate entity and break away from Husk. In many ways, the being once a mortal Half-Orc called Berienie Lotlinie was as powerful as a god.
Your soul followed the cord to Sigmayne’s castle then was cast adrift into The Void and into time. What you experienced was what Alduin experienced. He spent thousands of years in The Void before making his way back to Aetherius and then Mundus. It is the dragon part of your soul that allowed this to happen. If you were an ordinary mortal, you would have died on the floor of that castle.
Lady Mara contacted Erandur and told him where your corporeal body lay. The Sentinels travelled there was as quickly as they could. You had appeared back in Mundus days after you entered Scuttling Void for the last time. The chaos that Husk wanted you to prevent, or at least reduce, had consumed the entire kingdom of Evermor. You will learn about that later.
The mages amongst The Sentinels could tell you were alive, but they did not and could not know the extent of the damage to your soul. Lady Mara told Erandur that you were to be taken to Sovngarde. I told Odahviing, who added to the chaos of Evermor by landing in the courtyard of Sigmayne’s castle. Inigo and Lydia strapped you to his back and then climbed aboard for the long flight to Skuldafn. Odahviing could not go via the ether for reasons that will be explained later.
Inigo climbing aboard a dragon and flying was a tremendous act of courage only possible because of his love for you, his friend.
Skuldafn was devoid of threats. Lydia and yourself had done a thorough job of clearing it! So Odahviing could land them near the portal to Sovngarde.
They entered Sovngarde and carried you to Tsun. He carried you into the Hall of Valour where you lay, awaiting the return of your soul.
We understood what happened but did not know where or when your soul would emerge. We did not know if it would be in the future or the past. I took on the task of searching for you. But your soul had changed. Therefore I was searching for something that did not exist as I knew it.
The next part we only understand as Lord Akatosh explained it to us. Do you have any questions before I continue?”
“Was Lady Mara hurt?”
“No, if she had wrestled for a split second longer with the recombined entity, she could have been weakened and even perished. Your last plea convinced her to leave you.”
“How did I end up in Mundus if Lady Mara had stopped fighting for my soul?”
“Husk had set the anchor for your sole, the cord, and that was still in place even when he recombined with Ambition. In your journal, you described the fight for your soul as a tug of war. That is a good analogy to use. The entity that Husk and Ambition formed was still tugging away, not against Lady Mara, but at the anchor. When the pocket plane collapsed, it was like somebody had cut through that taught cord. Your soul was catapulted back into your body, but the trauma was too much. It could not stay. But dragon souls cannot so easily be destroyed. Therefore, you ended up in The Void, lost in time.”
“Lord Akatosh knew a lot more than the rest of The Nine or yourself?”
“He did but had to let things occur naturally. His understanding of time and souls is unmatched, so we cannot question his wisdom in this.”
“Okay, on with the gobblygook.”
“You do know that is an Ayleidoon word, don’t you?”
“What! I didn’t invent it?”
“No, my dear, as if you could invent such a wonderous thing.”
“Once you have finished insulting me, you can continue the explanation of these complex issues.”
“There is a puzzle you can solve for us. Do you recall that Lamashtu had two identical souls recombine? The difference between them was life experiences.”
“Yes, confusion reigned at first. Lamashtu would do something routine for one existence that was new for the other. We ended up calling them Forged Soul and Ghost Soul to differentiate them even though they were the same soul. After a while, the confusion ended as they truly became a single soul. Lahar said there were still differences in Lamashtu’s behaviour. Subtle changes that only those who knew Lamashtu well would recognise.”
“Your soul found its way into your nine-year-old self. Do you know how this happened?”
“I was drifting in The Void without much urgency. My curiosity would briefly peak when another soul passed by, but I did not contemplate them for long. I noticed they were different, often of species foreign to me. I never tried to reach out to them or communicate. I certainly did not wail and bemoan my circumstance as every other soul encountered.”
“The Void serves the same purpose for multiple universes and not just Aurbis.”
“A memory surfaced, of a time when father was reading a book to me while I lay in bed. That glimpse of my childhood filled me with a yearning. I wanted to experience the love of my parents. I wanted to be a child. I willed it to be so.”
“And it happened but without the trauma that Lamashtu experienced. Can you speculate why that may be?”
“Because I remembered every second of my childhood while I was in The Void. When the souls combined, I was not experiencing something new like the Ghost Soul of Lamashtu.”
“That is correct. What we didn’t know is how you managed to locate your child self in the past. Your parentage makes you unique. It is extraordinary you willed yourself out of The Void. But there was also a major difference from Lamashtu. Her souls melded together, so from that point onwards, there was only one soul. Your adult soul meshed with your child soul. They did not become a single soul though it would take one of The Divines to discover that peculiarity. Lord Akatosh knew and predicted what the outcome would be.”
“Surely my parents noticed some differences?”
“As I just said, you are unique. Your grasp of magic, alchemy, languages, martial skills and so on was extraordinary before you combined souls. Any changes were so subtle they could be explained by your rapid growth. They had no idea about the adult soul meshing with the child’s soul. I detected a change in a timeline and, on a hunch, followed it back. I found your adult soul within your child body. I informed Lord Akatosh, and he informed your parents.”
“But why didn’t my memories of the future intrude?”
“Lord Akatosh blocked the memories you had beyond the night of that story. Our Lord planned to wait until you entered Scuttling Void for the last time. He would instruct Lady Mara to forgo the talking within the collapsing pocket plane and immediately return you to Mundus. However, that plan was never enacted, for you did something enabling a return by yourself. I am going to repeat some words to you, but I am not sure what will occur.”
“Is this to make me remember?”
“Yes, and to solve another mystery.”
“Okay, if you think it is necessary.”
“Where is she? Where is Rigmor? Take me to her, please! She needs me. I know she does. Please, please, where is my Rigmor?”
I stood and stomped around the room, fist clenched as I ranted and cursed. I remembered every detail of the time I spent with Rigmor when she was fourteen. I remembered sharing her pain as The Thalmor whipped her for entertainment and screamed as I counted out the lashes. How long has she been without me in that cesspool called Cyrodiil! Rage filled me. Rigmor needs me, and The Divines have me playing guessing games in Aetherius!
I don’t know how long this lasted before Silah had enough. She stepped in front of me with her hand on her hip and used the Thu’um.
“DOVAHKIIN! CONTROL YOUR ANGER!”
I used the Thu’um right back at her.
“WHY? IT IS MY ANGER THAT RETURNED ME TO THIS TIME!”
“NO, DOVAHKIIN, IT IS YOUR LOVE OF RIGMOR THAT RETURNED YOU TO THIS TIME!”
Silah was right, and I fought to suppress my Dovah. He was not needed, and my illness was on display.
“I am sorry, Silah. I realise now what has to be fixed. Please, help me understand how this happened.”
“I let your ranting go on so that I could understand what you saw and experienced. Correct me if I am about to misinterpret parts of your angry rant. The majority of it was cursing, some quite inventive, but this is what I gleaned.”
“I name you Silah, the new Divine. Goddess of sassiness and sarcasm.”
Silah just shook her head. A common reaction to me, I remember. She continued, “Between the ages of nine and just after you turned eighteen, all was well. Lord Akatosh had blocked your adult memories, but nothing can dampen your love for Rigmor. In her distress, Rigmor cried out for comfort, and you responded. Your soul was drawn to hers. You travelled through time and the ethereal plane to be by her side. When you saw Baa’Ren-Dar rescue her, you realised she would need you. You bolted upright in bed, and your parents did not know what was happening. You did not utter those words back then. The first time your father heard them was in this room. That is when we knew your soul had almost repaired itself.”
“Please, Silah, let us sit and talk. I promise to be a good Dovahkiin.”
“I used Dovahzul. That is how angry you made me!”
We made our way to one of the small dining tables and sat to continue our discussion.
“Silah, can we try rehashing the order of events so I can put them in perspective.”
“Okay. First was the tug of war that ended with your body being left with a small part of your soul. The rest went flying off in The Void and time. But what was left in your body and what went into The Void was still not the entire soul. The Daedric part that Husk swapped to create the cord was lost from your soul when the pocket plane collapsed. It is unknown if the recombined being still has part of your soul or even if it still lives. It does not matter as long as we repair what is missing.”
“And that part of my soul taken by husk had a lot to do with my mortal side. My empathy and so on.”
“To put it simply, yes. You were left with an imbalance where the dragon is dominant. This swapping of the partial soul is another indication of the power of the being that split into Husk and Ambition.”
“A tiny part of my soul, part of my life essence, was left in my mortal body, so it was alive but an empty husk.”
“Correct. The logical place for your body was in Aetherius. We chose Sovngarde as your mortal friends could reach it, and your soul was familiar with it. Being in Aetherius, your body was also protected from Daedra and necromancers who may have used it for mischief. Arkay can only protect souls, not empty bodies.”
“I found my way to my nine-year-old self, and to protect me, Lord Akatosh wiped my memory, or hid it away, so to speak.”
“Yes, your memories can’t be wiped without damaging who you are. They are part of your soul, as Husk and Ambition discovered too late. They can be blocked as you block access to parts of your mind from gods and others. Lord Akatosh placed blocks in your mind so you could not access your adult memories when a child.”
“Then, when I was eighteen, I found my way to fourteen-year-old Rigmor. I take it there is not a four-year gap in our ages.”
“No, there isn’t. I cannot tell you the exact age difference. There are still things that need hiding from you.”
“I have long since accepted that fact.”
“As I said, you travelled through time and the ethereal plane to reach Rigmor. Your will enabled this voyage to your nine-year-old self. Your will also enabled the voyage to Rigmor. The strength of will required to do these things is phenomenal. It is equivalent to Ambition willing himself separate from Husk. His willpower came from the chaos of Oblivion and hatred for his plight. Your willpower came from something stronger. Love! Your love for your parents. Your love for Rigmor. They enabled you to do these things.”
“But I am not a god! I cannot imagine something and will it into being.”
“You can’t will something solid into existence like you father willed this room to be. But you have reached through time and across planes to find what you want. That is what your willpower enabled you to do.”
“And the explanation for this ability?”
“Your father has told you before. You are a product of love. Your parents loved each other and wanted a child, a natural extension of their love. You were not an experiment or designed in some celestial laboratory. You are a product of normal conception, normal gestation, normal birth. Lord Akatosh blessed you when young. He asked your parents before bestowing his blessing with the understanding you would become a mortal agent of The Nine. They agreed. Nobody knew then what your tasks would involve. Lord Akatosh can look ahead but has no idea which of the infinite outcomes will eventuate. But mortal agents are always needed. The time for Alduin’s return was drawing near as that was a certainty in every timeline. A dragonborn was needed, and you were it.”
“My parents have both achieved apotheosis. I am blessed by Lord Akatosh. There must be something in that combination, deliberate design or not, that has allowed my will to transcend planes and time.”
“Yes, an accident of billions of permutations, not a deliberate design. But the catalyst for when you used your willpower was love, and that is the one force gods cannot control or manipulate in any way.”
“Okay, what happened after I sat up in bed and scared my parents. I remember my mother was crying, and my father looked lost.”
“They didn’t know what happened, but Lord Akatosh did. He told them soon after.”
“My mother was beautiful.”
“She still is and always will be.”
“Your adult soul fled your youth’s body and made its way to Sovngarde and entered your adult body. Your father had previously created this room in anticipation of this event. As soon as it happened, he collected you, placed you here and made you stay asleep.”
“You said when I awoke in this room, you knew my soul was almost repaired. How did it repair itself, and why were those words an indicator of my health?”
“Your soul arrived back into your adult body with Lord Akatosh’s adult block in place. Removal of a mind block can cause insanity. The mind is inundated with memories that have no chronological order or context. You were kept unconscious when the block was completely removed and for a period after. Your mind then sorted out the memories and put them in chronological order. With this chronological order came context.”
“Why did I say those words just before I woke in this room.”
“Seeing Rigmor rescued was your last memory. Locked into its chronological place while you slept and like the youth, it was enough to awaken you and make you cry out. Only this time, your father heard the words. He knew Rigmor was the cause of your waking and distress all those years ago, but he never knew what you were trying to say until now. Your love for Rigmor is extraordinary, and it moves all who encounter it. He wept when he told me those words you spoke.”
“Now my memories are intact and in order, but you fear I can’t recall them with the perspective I once had.”
“We have your journals. From those, we will gather pivotal moments and ask you questions. Your response should be the same as in your journals. Either you or your Dovah was in charge when the events and decisions you transcribed were made. If you respond to memory like a dragon when it should be as a mortal, we will know you are not ready to return to Nirn.”
“You seem to like analogies. This treatment is similar to exercises after physical injury. I must rebuild the strength of my mortal identity. Balance my soul once more.”
“Very good. Any more questions?”
“Is the block to my childhood memories still in place?”
“It was placed there because nobody was certain what you would remember. Your parents were concerned about the possible premature knowledge of Rigmor. Lord Akatosh was also concerned about the possible premature knowledge of Evermor. Neither your parents nor Lady Mara knew of that future task. These concerns forced a cruel choice, and your childhood memories were blocked. Then, just before the events of Helgen, more memories were blocked. You had to discover your role as Dragonborn and not remember the training. So, in effect, many more years than just your childhood and youth were blocked.”
“The block is not completely effective. I have remembered things that father says were of concern to The Nine. You have not told me if the block is still in place. It must be as I cannot recall any more of my childhood and have no concept of who and where I was trained.”
“There are things you must discover yourself, so the block stays. But we think it will erode as events cause a sense of Déjà vu. You will wonder why something is familiar, and this will slowly destroy the memory block. The Nine will let this happen, for that would be a natural thing governed by the laws of Aurbis, not the Convention of Mundus. They do not know what the outcome of interfering in this process would be, so dare not do so.”
“So much relies on me making the right choices. Perhaps if I were forewarned of some things in Evermor, the outcome would have been different?”
“The outcome was excellent, and Lady Mara was pleased. You will learn of the history that has occurred when we think you are ready. You must respond to recent events with balance, not pure anger.”
“I am eager to get started!”
“Then make yourself comfortable.”
I sat on the floor in front of the fireplace. Silah retrieved a copy of my first journal and lay down to read and ask questions. My father made an appearance and sat before the fire.
“Father, are both of you going to be at each of these sessions?”
“Yes, Silah will ask the questions. I will observe and may ask additional questions.”
Silah informed me, “The questions will be in chronological order. Are you ready?”
“If you feel fatigued, do not try to continue. You must do this with a clear mind.”
“Okay, I understand.”
“What were the first words said to you when you awoke aboard the carriage to Helgen?”
“A Nord said, ‘Hey, you. You’re finally awake.’ I didn’t know his name but recognised he was a soldier of some kind, as were the prisoners in a wagon ahead of us. I recognised the drivers and escorts as Imperial Legionnaires.”
“What were the names of the other prisoners on your carriage?”
“Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Windhelm and rebel leader. Lokir, a horse thief from Rorikstead. Ralof, a Stormcloak from Riverwood.”
“When you entered Helgen, General Tullius met with some Mer. Who were they?”
“Fucking Thalmor arseholes!”
Father laughed and said, “That question was not much of a test. That would be your answer as Dovah or mortal.”
Silah tutted and said, “Please, Wulf, watch your language. There are ladies present.”
“Where? I can only see my father and a sassy Argonian.”
“Son, I advise you to watch your manners with Silah. She has beaten many a male dragon into submission.”
“I apologise, Lady Silah. I understand you must have put a lot of effort into finding my wandering soul, and I honestly appreciate all you have done. Please continue.”
“What happened when the Imperial Officer called Lokir’s name?”
“He called out, ‘No, I’m not a rebel. You can’t do this!’ and dashed for freedom. He died with two arrows in his back. Somebody yelled out a remark. I can’t remember what it was.”
“They yelled out, ‘What a coward that one was!’”
“My Dovah took over. I was confused as this thing was part of me but foreign. I did not know who or what it was. But its rage was tremendous, and I could tell it was merciless. It used the Thu’um to defend Lokir. Not with a Shout but whispered words that I instinctively knew all could hear. We didn’t even know what the Thu’um was. I referred to myself as two individuals in one body at that stage.”
“When the Imperial Officer asked your name, what did you answer and why?”
“He was Lieutenant Hadvar. His superior officer was Captain Logino. I didn’t like her attitude and was upset at my treatment. It was not how The Legion was supposed to operate. Their duty is to defend The Empire, including its laws. This conviction without trial and sentence of death was unjust and against Imperial law. So, I disputed a bit but eventually gave the name ‘Wulf’ to Hadvar. I thought I chose that name at random. Perhaps I didn’t. I don’t know.”
“Emperor Mede II berated Ulfric over something. What was it, and what was your reaction?”
“He accused Ulfric of using The Voice to murder his king and usurp the throne. My Dovah was enraged and tried to explain why. He knew something about the Thu’um, Shouts and The Voice. He thought it was very inappropriate for Ulfric to use it in such a scenario and murder a king. I still had no idea what the Thu’um, Shouts and The Voice were.”
The above are examples of how the questioning went. And I had no difficulty until this following question.
“When was the first time you saw Rigmor?”
‘She was lying, curled up in a dark cell, crying. Her back was to me, and the rags she wore did not hide the dozens of scars.”
“Wulf, that was the last time you saw Rigmor.”
“Sorry for not being as schooled in flitting through time as you! For fuck’s sake, I am trying!”
My father said, “There it is, your Dovah bares its fangs. You are upset at the memories of Rigmor, not at Silah. Yet you lash out at one trying to help you. Like an injured animal might turn on one trying to heal it. That is not the reaction of the man who entered Evermor. You are not the man you have to be once more if you are to aid Rigmor.”
With effort, I wrestled my Dovah to the back of my mind.
I said, “Father, any emotion quickly turns to anger. I understand what we are trying to achieve here.”
“Then you will understand when we chastise you for your behaviour. A quick rebuke is more effective than ‘Oh, Wulf, you can do better than that!’.”
“You can use your fatherly tactics on me, but I think Silah would be better off clipping me across the ear.”
Silah laughed, then said, “Tempting. But nobody slaps an angry dragon.”
Contrite, I pleaded, “Please, Silah, let us continue. Ask the question again.”
“When was the first time you saw Rigmor?”
“I could hardly see her. She was curled up in a foetal position in amongst clover, grass and thistles. She had leapt from a cliff to escape a Thalmor patrol and was badly injured.”
“When did you first see Rigmor’s face?”
“When I lifted her. A woman called Rose wanted me to take her to a camp.”
“You did not write about seeing her face in your journal.”
“No, and that strikes me as odd. You are very observant, and few details escape your scrutiny. You commented to Rose about Rigmor’s armour as evidence she came from Bruma.”
“Perhaps I was too distracted to notice Rigmor’s face. I was still coming to terms with this annoying voice in my head. At that stage, my Dovah commented on just about everything and was critical of many of my decisions.”
Father said, “We must examine anything strange not only in your answers but your behaviour at the time of a journal entry. There are a lot of time-related phenomena that may only become apparent in hindsight. I do not envy Silah and the other Jills when dealing with such things.”
“I don’t envy them either.”
Silah said, “Okay, you saw her likeness on a poster as you entered Riverwood. What was your reaction?”
“I thought she was a young girl. The poster did not give her age. It had her name, Rigmor, and confirmed she came from Bruma. I don’t recall that stirring any reaction in me.”
“When did you first see Rigmor’s scars?”
“I had gone to Riverwood to collect bandages and other items. When I returned, Rose had stripped Rigmor, and I could see her scars. I can see her lying there in a small shelter. Most of the scars were identical to those I saw in that cell. Except I now know the few extras were from that last whipping I witnessed. This sensation is odd, comparing memories I both know are mine, but with such dispassion. We need to fix this. I do not like what I am.”
“What were the first word’s Rigmor ever said to you? What was your reply?”
“We are jumping ahead a bit. What about my trip to Azura’s shrine? Or when I noticed a nosy old man staring at me from New Vivec? Or how Rose offered intimacy?”
“Lord Talos, was he always this annoyingly persistent in going off-topic as a child?”
Father looked at me sternly, but amusement twinkled in his eyes. He replied, “Yes, but I can’t remember his eyesight being so bad. Nosy old man!?”
“I was taught to be honest, not tactful.”
Silah sighed then said, “Wulf, your father and I studied your journal entries and have made decisions on what to ask and when. I would appreciate it if you just answered the questions, and then, perhaps, we can have you ready to help Rigmor.”
“Yes, Madam Silah.”
“What were the first word’s Rigmor ever said to you? What was your reply?”
“The first word I heard her say was ‘Hey!’. That wasn’t directed at me but a general call for help to anybody who could hear. When I knelt in front of Rigmor’s shelter, I was delighted to see her sitting up. I said to her, ‘Good morning Rigmor! It is good to see you so much better than yesterday.’ She replied, ‘Hey, where’s my stuff?’”
I started to laugh.
Father asked, “Son, what is so amusing?”
“Later in the conversation, Rigmor said, ‘Sorry, I can be an arsehole at times. My social skills are… somewhat lacking.’”
“And this memory has evoked others of Rigmor’s lack of ladylike qualities at times?”
“Yes, and my lack of tact complemented hers. So many memories demand attention when we speak of Rigmor. So much of my life since I awoke on that carriage to Helgen was consumed by her presence and our love. I need to see her. I need to know she is okay. I need that love, father! But you can’t guarantee it, can you? My reward for all I have done could be the loss of Rigmor’s love. Perhaps that is for the best, for I will probably be away from her often and leaving her to wonder if I am alive or will ever return. How can I ask that of her?”
Father said to Silah, “I think we will abandon this exercise. After Wulf has rested, we will tell him of what has occurred and prepare him for his return.”
Silah nodded and vanished.
My father came over and helped me onto my feet. He said, “If you haven’t yet realised, I am flesh and blood in Aetherius. When I carried you from the Hall of Valour to here, that was the first time I had held my son for a very long time. I have not had your mother in my arms for a long time either and don’t know if I ever will. I understand your need to return to Rigmor and uncertainty. I can give no guarantees but think about this. Rigmor called for you, before ever meeting you, through time. Some souls are eternally bound and will seek each other. This synergy of souls exists between your mother and me and you and Rigmor. But she is mortal, as you are, and not perfect. Part of loving somebody is accepting the whole and understanding the flaws. Seek advice from Lady Mara when you return home. Use your unlimited reserves of compassion to understand the circumstance of whatever you find. This snippet of wisdom is my advice, from a father to a son.”
“I am terribly tired once more.”
“Then go and sleep. You will be tested by what we tell you, but I think you are ready.”
“In High Hrothgar, you warned me my faith in The Nine would be tested. You weren’t referring to anything that has already happened. You were referring to what I am about to face.”
“Yes, for you will be asked to submit to the will of gods.”
“And my willingness to do so could be determined on how mortal are my thought processes. You all fear the unpredictability of my damaged self.”
“Your ability to see the crux of the matter has always been astounding.”
“All I ask is for explanations. Do not trust my ability to recognise the need. I will never blindly accept orders, for I was given free will and treasure it. I will not surrender it.”
“If we trampled on free will, there would never have been a Miraak or Alessian Order or many other issues. We trust our very existence to mortal agents. Your orphans have shown you that empathy and concern for others is the natural state of mortals. We have faith that in the end, mortal empathy will be our saviour.”
Father escorted me to my bed then sat in the chair beside it.
I know not what time I fell asleep.