Turdas, 14th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 205
I woke then stood up quickly. Rigmor was not in the cave!
I rushed outside.
I found Rigmor sitting by the outdoor fire. She laughed and said, “You had better get dressed before your dangly bits get frostbite!”
“Rigmor, how am I supposed to be your guardian if you leave me asleep and sneak out?”
“Wulf, you needed the sleep! Now get dressed and come and sit with me.”
I did as I was told, then returned fifteen minutes later with my dangly bits well protected. I sat in the other chair. Rigmor was sipping on some tea with honey in it. She had prepared a cup for me, and it was delicious.
Rigmor said, “That is probably the first time I have ever snuck out of a room, or cave, without waking you. I’m sorry, I should have realised you might panic.”
“It’s okay, Rigmor. You can look after yourself against most things. Ahh, when was the last time you used your sword in anger? The attempted assassination of a childhood hidey-hole doesn’t count.”
“I managed to miss that hidey-hole a few times. I might be a bit rusty! I haven’t had to fight anything since leaving Evermor.”
“Well, if wolves are the worse thing that we have to face on the way to the cave, I am sure you will do okay.”
“You hadn’t slept since the trial, and we, umm, really didn’t leave much time for sleep last night. So don’t worry about being so sleepy this morning. I am proud of how I figured out whose limb was whose and untangled myself.”
“Your confidence is the best I have seen since I arrived in Cyrodiil. You will soon be your old self.”
“I certainly won’t take any more shit from Malesam, Mother and Freathof! I am the Countess, twenty-two years of age and far more experienced with gobblygook and warfare than all three combined!”
“Well said! In no time, we will win a war, stuff up a Daedric Lord’s plans and shove your sword up Morag’s arse!”
“I noticed some apple trees close by and were amazed they survived in this climate. So, eat a couple of apples and drink your tea before it gets cold!”
“It is such a beautiful day, Wulf! We might as well make the most of it and enjoy a leisurely walk through a beautiful forest where the nice wolves ignore us.”
“I could use the Kyne’s Peace Shout, but if the wolves are aggressive, it’s best we take care of them rather than somebody less capable falling prey to them.”
“I dunno how but I had another dream. Since we were enveloped in our peace all night, that should be impossible, shouldn’t it?”
“Who knows? I assumed it wouldn’t be possible, but I don’t understand precisely what our peace is. Anyway, what was the dream?”
“A huge Minotaur was sitting on a throne. He must have been a King or Lord. In one hand, he held a mace and in the other a soul gem. Below on the dais, a Dragon was locked in an eternal battle with a serpent.”
“Are you sure it was a Minotaur?”
“It had huge horns, Minotaur horns, but it was dark. What else could it be?”
“Did it look bovine, like a bull?”
“As I said, it was dark, and I couldn’t see its features.”
“I think it was Molag Bal. His monstrous aspect has large horns. When in a more humanoid form, he has horns on his helm, and his favourite weapon is a mace. I think he was watching a fight between Akatosh, the dragon, and the serpent. There are many gods represented by a serpent across the different pantheons. I would only be guessing who the serpent in your dream represents.”
“Was it a premonition?”
“Maybe. It could also represent the fight in which my mother is currently engaged. She would be on the side of Akatosh. The serpent, in that case, would be Molag Bal. Or, it could be Morag and me fighting. I don’t know why Molag Bal would be holding a soul gem. Was it a black one?”
“I can’t describe it to you. I don’t even know how I recognised it was a soul gem!”
“This is why seers ask Lady Azura. She gathers such dreams and figures out their meaning, eventually.”
“Didn’t you say Malesam was looking for Morag’s coven in Hammerfell?”
“Sethri has gone there. Lady Azura seems to have her nose in this mess as well.”
“I did call out for her help, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did. But I told Malesam when I first arrived that Azura would probably get involved. I was advised by my father years ago that I might have to rely on help from Daedric Lords once more.”
“I remember discussing that with you.”
“Azura will help because she doesn’t want Nirn destroyed or her Khajiit enslaved.”
“And Malesam’s mistress, Boethia, will get involved if she can profit from doing so.”
“Yes, she detests Molag Bal more than she does Malacath. She might help just to get up his nose! I don’t mind helping in the Dark Lord vs Dark Lord feuds.”
“Haha, I wonder if he still walks around in his underwear? Yeah, he stank!”
“He could empty a room in five seconds!”
“That obnoxious elf!”
“Hahaha! Oh, my, I remember hearing my mother calling him that!”
“He is knocking boots with Aranea.”
“I am as surprised as you. The last conversation I saw between the two was not friendly at all.”
“It seems I have a lot of juicy gossip to catch up on!”
“Imagine the gossip if the Countess of Bruma fell pregnant while unmarried!”
“Freathof would probably die of shock! But who cares what others think? I used to a long time ago.”
“Yeah, about a week ago.”
“Like I said, a long time ago. But when we were together three years ago, we never took precautions. Why should we? You’re my world, and there is nothing I would rather do than get married and have children…your children.”
“Or have children and then get married?”
“Whichever order, the result is the same.”
“Yep, dirty nappies and thumbprints on my forehead. Seriously, being a father would be incredible and scary.”
“Haha! I try hard not to think we have no control over our destiny.”
“Sometimes decisions are made for us. For instance, my parents gave Lord Akatosh permission to bless me and make me Dragonborn. However, the majority of our lives are controlled by decisions we make using our free will. Those who say we have no control want to blame gods for everything bad that happens. If everything is predetermined, why would The Divines need me? Why would they be unsure as to the outcome of this Divine Task?”
“I wonder which god I can blame for my full bladder? Out of the way, I need to pee!”
Rigmor leapt up and ran behind a nearby hill.
A few minutes later, I heard her yell, “Wulf…run!”
I looked over and saw Rigmor being pursued by some trolls who were gaining on her rapidly.
Whirlwind Sprint got me close to the leading troll. I yelled to get its attention.
It forgot about Rigmor and turned to confront me instead.
Trolls always waste time roaring when they should be fighting.
I sliced the troll open then found others had joined the fray.
I cut them down only to find a pair of Ice Giants heading my way.
Unrelenting Force sent one flying.
And then the other.
That annoyed them!
I sent them flying once more, then cut down another troll.
And then another troll.
Rigmor yelled, “This way, Wulf! Quickly, before the giants get back on their feet!”
I didn’t want to kill the giants, so I followed Rigmor.
I summoned two Dremora Lords to tackle the pursuers.
Then we crossed a frozen lake. I hoped the pursuers wouldn’t risk the small islands of thin ice.
When I reached the other side of the lake, I looked back. I could hear the Dremora Lords still fighting, and nothing pursued us.
I yelled, “Head for the forest!”
We hadn’t gone far when we heard a pack of wolves approaching.
I summoned the two Dremora Lords.
Rigmor said, “Let’s get out of here. Do you know where the cave is?”
“Yes, follow me.”
“A word of advice. Next time, don’t make yellow snow in the house of Ice Giants!”
“Haha. They can’t hide behind rocks, but those little valleys are ideal for sneaking up on a girl with her trousers around her ankles.”
“No, thank goodness. But it was hard to run and pull up my underwear and trousers.”
We started running, but the wolves were approaching from the side and at a fast pace.
The pack was large, but they stood no chance.
Rigmor was unscathed.
I told her, “You did very well!”
“Yes, I surprised myself. The sword forms are like second nature to me. They just flowed like they used to.”
“I think one wolf I hit with Unrelenting Force has landed on Secunda.”
“Haha, yeah, I saw him fly past me.”
“Let’s get moving before something else interferes with our nice quiet walk through the forest.”
About an hour later, another pack of wolves attacked.
We disposed of them quickly and easily.
I turned to Rigmor, who was covered in wolf blood and chunks.
She said, “This is just like the old days!”
“Which is a whole fortnight away for me.”
“Oh yeah, I forget that sometimes.”
“But yes, it is fantastic to have you chopping things up and getting covered in gore beside me. I find it very romantic.”
“Well, don’t get any weird ideas!”
A while later, the cave came into view. A huge bear was sleeping near the entrance.
I used zoom-vision and thought the bear looked familiar.
As I contemplated that, a pack of various creatures attacked.
I sent some wolves high into the air with Unrelenting Force. Their legs were snapped and flopped around as they flew.
The bear joined us and helped Rigmor dispose of two trolls. An Ice Giant just missed turning her into a paste with his massive club.
I rushed over and took care of that Ice Giant.
Then I killed another.
The wolves tried knocking me down. That just made it easier for me to kill them.
We soon disposed of the last enemy.
The bear looked at me, gave a satisfied snuffle, then wandered back to its spot near the cave entrance.
I turned to Rigmor, who said, “Yanno, I think that is Mr Bear.”
“It could be. They have been known to travel long distances on icebergs.”
“Well, let’s walk near him on the way to the cave so I can get a closer look.”
I dismissed the Dremora Lords, and we did as Rigmor suggested. The bear just slept and took no notice of us.
“Wulf, I am sure that is Mr Bear.”
“I do think he looks familiar.”
“Yep, it is. It is Mr Bear!”
Rigmor walked up to the huge bear.
“Mr Bear, is that you?”
“Thank you for helping us, Mr Bear. It is so good to see you again.”
Many learned people studied the phenomena and walked away from the puzzle, no wiser but older. Why do adults use baby talk with any furry animal, no matter the creature’s size, maturity or lethality?
Rigmor said to Mr Bear, “Have you been a good liddle bear while I was away, ‘ey, ‘ey?”
“Is this your liddle house?”
I said to Rigmor, “I want to thank Mr Bear as well!”
I walked to Mr Bear’s head and growled, “Mr Bear, stand to attention!”
Mr Bear stood and gave me a sideways glance.
“I would like to thank you for your assistance, Mr Bear, but I see another couple of wolves heading this way. I do believe they want to steal your dinner!”
My Bear looked, spotted the wolves, who spotted him and ran. Mr Bear ran after them, growling and threatening bodily dismemberment.
Rigmor yelled, “Mr Bear, come back!”, then turned to face me.
“Hey, don’t feel sad. We might see Mr Bear again one day.”
“Yanno, I felt something special just then, inside me, and right now, I have never, ever felt so happy in all my life.”
“I can see that, and it is wonderful.”
“Me, you and Mr Bear. I think I’ll write a poem about it someday. I can see the title now, ‘The Dragonborn and the Bear.’”
“The Dragonborn, the bear and the gorgeous Royal Princess?”
“Don’t push your luck, Wulf.”
“Mr Bear is pretty cool, and he helped us again.”
“Yeah, he is pretty cool.”
“Are you ready to enter the cave, me first, of course?”
“Yeah, but hang on.”
Rigmor walked a little distance then yelled, “Thank you, Mr Bear!”
I decided to help and used my Thu’um.
“RIGMOR AND I WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU, MR BEAR!”
The power of my Voice shook the snow from trees for as far as we could see. I am sure Mr Bear would have heard it.
Rigmor turned to me and said, “Let’s go before your Thu’um attracts every hungry creature for miles.”
We entered the cave, which was just a short tunnel, and exited high over a lake.
Rigmor exclaimed, “Whoa!” then ran to the edge of a cliff.
I stood next to her, and she commented, “That is quite a view, huh?”
“Yes, it is. But the fishing village is still quite some distance, so we had better find a way down.”
“I know the quickest way down!”
“Rigmor, I hope you’re not going to suggest we jump from here!”
“Come on, Wulf, where’s your sense of adventure?”
“I haven’t placed my usual set of dweomer on your armour.”
“Can you swim wearing plate armour? Can you breathe underwater?”
“Well, I won’t need to breathe underwater if I swim on top. And I can swim on top if I am not carrying my sword or wearing my armour!”
“You will freeze!”
“Nope, because you will follow quickly and wriggle your fingers to dry me and warm me. Then I can get dressed, and we would have saved all that time!”
“Alright, I can see you are determined to do this. Remove your clothes, madam!”
Rigmor quickly stripped down to her undergarments. I managed to tie her armour and sword into a manageable bundle.
“Fly away, little princess. You are free!”
“You, Wulf, are an idiot!”
Rigmor moved further back from the edge.
Then she ran full pelt and leapt.
I heard, “Wheeeeee!” then a decent splash. I rushed to the edge to make sure she hadn’t belly-flopped or hurt herself.
I saw her swimming underwater at a reasonable rate, so I leapt in.
Rigmor made it to the far shore quite quickly, but I found Rigmor’s gear not heavy but quite cumbersome.
I made it as fast as I could then dried Rigmor with a bit of Magicka.
I sat and looked at the waterfall as Rigmor donned her armour.
She said, “Yanno, I haven’t felt so happy since I was a kid. All this had brought it back, and I was wandering….”
“Her name was Anna. We had been friends since we wore diapers. I was nine years of age. She had recently turned ten. Our parents brought us to this very spot for a picnic.
While the grownups talked boring adult stuff, Anna and I lay on a bear pelt and discussed my rabbit, who I called Floppy, because of his ears.
Father wondered why I wanted a rabbit when millions were hopping around that I could visit. My mother explained that owning a pet teaches essential lessons in responsibility. Father said it also teaches grief and, being a rabbit, probably reproduction as well.
Mother won the argument as she always did. And I was allowed a pet rabbit.
Anyway, Anna and I lay on the blanket discussing the differences between Floppy and the wild rabbits. Anna was a farm girl. She was tough, independent and very adventurous.
Anna had a pet chicken called Roast, a pet pig called Crackling, and a pet bull called Sirloin. Discussing an animal that was not going to be butchered and consumed was a unique experience for her.
I could hear barking some distance away. Meeko had found something to annoy as there were no dangerous animals on this part of the island.
That is all I remember. But Rigmor, this is my childhood home. Somewhere on this island, I lived with my parents.”
By the end of my tale, Rigmor had knelt nearby, and now her mouth was open as she struggled to find words.
I laughed and said, “You had better close your mouth unless you like the taste of flies.”
“Wulf, was it like you were warned?”
“Yes, everything seemed familiar, but when I turned around and looked at the waterfall, instant Déjà vu.”
“Do you know when this happened?”
“No, I still have no idea of my age.”
“It’s a start, my dear Dragonborn. Perhaps you will retrieve more memories as we travel to the fishing village?”
“Yes, but I hope they come in a trickle. Too many memories emerging at once can cause severe confusion and even insanity. Part of my recovery involved the removal of my adult memory block, the one that stopped me from remembering this time when I was in my child body. They had to make sure I didn’t wake up so my mind could sort the deluge of memories and put them in context.”
“Well, as usual, we deal with things if and when they occur. The only problem is, how am I supposed to tell if you are insane?”
“Too late. I am under the delusion that Rigmor Ragnarsdottier is a kind, caring person.”
“Ha de haha. Oh, now we know that Meeko has been with you since childhood!”
“Yes, that is quite something. He would probably love visiting this place.”
“Maybe another time. Come on. I will tell you some of my childhood tales as we walk.”
“Yeah, I assume we just follow the river for now as it flows eastward. I don’t suppose the end of the island will be that hard to find.”
“There was a woodcutters’ camp marked on the map. If we find that, we know we are heading the right way.”
“It would be easier if you hadn’t lost the boat, Rigmor.”
“Get moving while you still can, Dragonbum!”
It was a beautiful walk, and Rigmor’s voice transported me to her past.
“Yanno our old house in Bruma? Well, it used to have a gate. My Dad built a small fence, and the gate was in two sections. He was really proud of that gate, and I… ooh…I must have been about four or five…I used to swing on it. It is one of my earlier memories because it was getting late, and time just stood still. I remember the sun was setting, and the yellowy-orange top my Mum had made lit up like it was made out of the brightest gold. I remember looking down at my feet, and I would wriggle my toes and swing my legs to make the gate swing to and fro. My Mum would come out and tell me off, ‘Don’t you break that!’ and ‘Get off before you father gets home.’”
“My best friend at that time was a Dark Elf girl called Loonashadow. Her dad was a stable hand at the Brandynut stables. He would travel down to the Gold Coast every now and then to pick up supplies in a carriage and take us with him. I loved going to Anvil, it’s right on the coast, and we used to stretch our necks at every hilltop to see if we could see the sea. ‘It’s this one, no the next one.’ and then it would be ‘The One!’, and you would catch a glimpse of the sea in the distance. It would fill your heart with that… I dunno… childish wonder? The light bouncing on the waves, even from that far away, seemed like diamonds dancing in the sky. We would laugh out loud, and Loona’s dad would laugh with us. I’ll never forget that.”
“Hahaha! Oh my, Loona and I used to throw snowballs at the Tap&Tack until Colin would come out. We would run as fast as our legs would take us. He would wave his fist at us, shouting, ‘you’ll fetch it!’ Then one day, he chased us down. Loona got away, but he grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, ‘Aha… gotcha!’ and marched me home. Mum was so angry, ‘Wait till your father hears what you did!’ It wasn’t so funny after that. I waited in my room until Dad came home. I heard Mum tell him what I did, but he didn’t come and get me. I plucked up enough courage to face the music and asked him, ‘Dad, am I in trouble?’ He patted his thigh for me to sit on his lap. He just held onto me for what seemed like ages the said softly, ‘You are meant to throw the snowballs AFTER Colin opens the door!’ Hahaha! Loona’s dad got a job in Morrowind raising horses, and I never saw her after that.”
I asked, “Loona was the little girl who stole your doll, wasn’t she?”
“Yes, she was. I don’t remember telling you about her?”
“When you were kidnapped, I asked your mother for a story from your past. I wanted to help her cope with her worry. She told me about that incident. She used that memory and others to help survive her time with the Thalmor much as you did. Such memories have helped with a lot of the children we have rescued. Sometimes, like me, they have not a single fond memory to fall back on. So those who work with them tell them popular stories and get them to imagine it was they who was the little boy or girl in the tale. I do that with your stories, Rigmor. I am the kid looking out for the first view of the sea. I am the child swinging on the gate. I miss reading stories to the children. When I do, I can feel and see their wonder and excitement. It is beautiful, Rigmor.”
“I have often wondered about what happened to Loona. If she ever thinks about me. Does she have children? Is she happy?”
“Have you tried finding her?”
“I used to think she would have moved on, and I would be an unwanted intrusion on her life, so no, I haven’t tried to find her. Maybe, when all this crap is out the way and if the world still exists, I might try.”
I stood still and stared ahead.
“Anna is standing next to Meeko on a rock. She has her hand out and is telling me to jump. Between us is the rushing water of the river. If I didn’t make it or slipped and fell into the water, I would be swept over the waterfall and into the slow, wide river.
I jumped, and Anna grabbed my hand as I teetered on the edge of the rock she stood upon. She pulled hard, and I banged into her. She laughed, kissed me on the cheek and then jumped onto the riverbank.
I stood confused and touched my cheek while Meeko had his stupid grin on his face. He was not big and white then but looked very much like Jimmy Ten Finger’s dog but with darker fur.
Anna called me, and I joined her on the riverbank. We held hands, and we started our walk home after a day of adventure.
That is all I remember.”
Rigmor grabbed my hand and said, “So, I have a love rival!”
“I am sure if it came to a showdown, you could beat up a ten-year-old girl.”
“Maybe Anna still lives around here?”
“What if I have been gone for a very long time and have hardly aged? She could be married with children older than we were then. Wouldn’t it be creepy if you met Loonashadow and she hadn’t aged?”
“I suppose it would.”
“I wasn’t going to be staying on this island. I know I left for training somewhere. I know that childhood love can be strong, and we see it often with the orphans. What if she had feelings…if we had feelings, and I had to leave? Perhaps there are some memories I don’t want back.”
“You need all your memories, my dear Wulf. Only then can you understand the influences your childhood had on creating the man I love dearly.”
“It never would have lasted. Anna was taller than me!”
Rigmor laughed, and we continued our walk, hand in hand.
More than an hour later, Rigmor stopped and said, “Wulf, look over there!”
A ship was anchored in a small bay.
I used zoom-vision and instantly recognised the markings.
I turned to Rigmor.
“It is the Akaviri ship from the prison, and they are probably looking for us. We must be careful as there may be patrols on the island.”
“It has been a couple of days now since my escape. As you suggested, they probably sent people to check on why the mission was taking so long soon after we started our walk across the ice.”
“So much for our relaxing tour of the island. We need to get away from them, but I still don’t think we should rush back. My instincts tell me there are important things we are yet to learn and won’t do so if stuck behind Bruma’s walls.”
“Okay, let us keep moving then. That ship gives me the creeps!”
We had to balance on a log to cross a stream.
The forest became quite dense and full of a cacophony of birdsong. The walk should have been enjoyable, yet a renewed tension ruined it. Anticipation of violence is the best way to describe it.
We came upon the woodcutters’ camp marked on the map back at the prison. Compared to our speed when battling the wind and ice, our progress today has been swift.
Rigmor ran ahead, sat on a chair and said, “Ahhh!”
I sat on another.
“Rigmor, I don’t think we will reach the fishing village by nightfall. We might stay here for the night.”
“What about the Akaviri?”
“If they are on the island, they will lie in wait along the major pathways, and we could blunder on them in the dark. If we are going to have a confrontation, let them come for us.”
“How are we getting to Bruma?”
“I don’t know yet. The fishing village first and figure it out from there. That is still the plan.”
“You don’t want to use Bostin or another method, such as flying on one of your dragon friends, do you?”
“No, as I said before, I think we might miss important things if we did that. One thing I would like to do is visit Yngol, the Jarl of Falkreath.”
“Yngol is a Jarl?”
“Yes, I don’t know the full story, but I do know the previous Jarl was a crook and had shady dealings with bandit groups and so on.”
“You want to keep any war small, but he would help if we asked.”
“If we could do it discreetly, that is an option we should consider. What I don’t want is other Jarls getting wind of what is happening and joining in. We wouldn’t be able to stop them, and the whole thing would escalate. I have no doubt the Jarls would all side with Bruma.”
The constant birdsong stopped.
Rigmor said, “Wulf, the birds!”
“Rigmor, stand and draw your sword!”
Akaviri attacked from all sides. I Shouted Slow Time then started carving through them.
The fight was soon over.
I asked Rigmor, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, they didn’t hit me with sword or bow. They used some of that Blood Magic on me, but I don’t feel any injuries from it.”
“As long as they didn’t bite you, you should be okay.”
“How did vampires attack us in daylight?”
“They are Daywalkers which Morag isn’t. I told you she is a second-rate vampire.”
“Go on then, do your usual grave robbing.”
“Searching enemy slain is not grave robbing!”
“I will search the Tsaesci first. They are in charge of the lesser vampires.”
I turned over the body of one of the Tsaesci.
In a satchel was an order in Tamrielic. I read it to Rigmor.
“Kill them all and leave no witnesses.
Bring the girl to Table Mountain, alive or dead.
“Hey, calm down. We already guessed Morag was behind the prison attack.”
“I know you said she had some weirdo obsession with me, but alive or dead indicates she is not that enamoured!”
“If you are a rival for The Chosen Queen of Tamriel, then your death would be of benefit to her. And now we know what you dreamt. The first one.”
“Oh, the flat looking mountain with the children! Table Mountain would be a good name for it.”
“It all fits. The children her covens sent to her are?”
“The ones in my dream. Who was the girl who approached me and pointed to Table Mountain?”
“What happened when I was in The Bloodlet Throne?”
“You rescued Sorella, then the vampires attacked. You and the wolves killed them, and then you reunited the ghost girl with her mother.”
“Her name was Xenia. She must have been powerful of will for her soul not to have ended up in Coldharbour.”
“So that is the girl who approached me? That kinda makes sense.”
“That is a logical assumption. We are piecing together the puzzle, but still, there is much we don’t know. What do the Akaviri have to do with this? What is Molag Bal’s plan? What are they doing at Table Mountain?”
“Are we staying here for the night?”
“No. The Akaviri just showed us how stealthy they are by sneaking up during daylight. They would be even sneakier at night. I don’t think we have much choice but to continue towards the fishing village.”
“Oh, fighting wolves, slow giants and stupid trolls is one thing. Holding your own against the Akaviri is another level of difficulty. You are just as lethal a Swordmaiden as ever you were.”
“I haven’t even been doing my sword forms at home. I kinda lost interest when you were lost.”
“I have faced a better greatsword wielder.”
“My father, but he cheated. So, I name you the best non-cheating and mortal greatsword wielder!”
“Do I get a prize?”
“Yes, you can use my body in whatever depraved and kinky ways you desire.”
“In your dreams, Dragonbum. Now get moving!”
We continued our journey.
About an hour after leaving the woodcutter’s camp, Rigmor cried out, “Wulf, please…stop.”
I turned, and Rigmor looked exhausted.
“You don’t look well. It must be the Blood Magic.”
“Something’s not right…not right at all. Everything feels so heavy.”
“We still have some way to go to reach the fishing village.”
“I’m not going to make it. I just wanna sleep.”
Something was draining Rigmor’s life force. I didn’t know if it was similar to the curse placed on me by The Underking. It took the knowledge of an ancient vampire, Sybil Stentor, to save my life. I did not panic Rigmor with this diagnosis.
I told Rigmor, “I will heal you, and that should give you some energy. I will carry you if need be. If I think you are in danger, I will summon Serana, and she can take you to The College of Winterhold. Okay?”
I cast Grand Healing, and Rigmor immediately looked stronger. But it was only a temporary solution. Its effectiveness would decrease each time I cast it on her.
“How is that?”
“A bit better. I think I can keep going for now.”
“Good. Let me know if it gets too much.”
Rigmor was starting to slow down again an hour later when we came upon a little cottage.
I stood transfixed then whispered,
“I am eighteen years of age. My mother is sweeping the doorstep, and it is the last I will see of her.
My Divine Compass told me it was time. The Dragonguard had come to take me away from my home as my father had explained would happen.
My mother knew, but this version of her doesn’t. It is an aspect with some knowledge removed. She thinks I am simply going for a walk.
It was never explained to me why this had to be done. Perhaps now, in 4E 205, I might find out.”
Rigmor touched me on the arm. I turned to face her.
“Pardon, Rigmor, did you say something?”
“I said there seems to be somebody in that old cottage. Maybe we can pay for some food, and I can get some sleep. I can’t carry on.”
Rigmor had not heard my recitation of that memory. That is good, as it disturbs me and would disturb her even more.
I told Rigmor, “Okay, let us go knock on the door.”
As we approached, Rigmor called out, “Hello, is anybody home?”
There was no reply, so we stepped inside.
The first thing Rigmor noticed was a list of alchemical recipes.
“Wulf, look at all these recipes!”
I had seen them before. They were in my handwriting. Next to the recipe list was my bow. Thousands of years old and made by the Nedic People. On a barrel were arrows that I made. They were of Nedic design.
Rigmor sighed then said, “I am so tired I could sleep for a thousand years.
Rigmor walked over and lay on my bed. She instantly fell asleep.
I walked over to an ancient chest that used to have blankets inside. It wasn’t that cold, but I thought Rigmor might get a fever and chills.
I opened the chest, but it contained only one item, a set of slave manacles. I picked them up and stared at a word engraved on them. It was in Ayleidoon, but I knew what it said. It named the slave who wore them, Al-Esh. I placed them back into the chest and closed the lid.
I approached Rigmor and could see that her breathing was shallow.
I was deciding what to do when the door closed behind me. I quickly turned around, and my mother’s aspect stood there, aged since I saw it last.
I walked up to her, unsure as to what to say. She smiled at me, and I smiled back.
She said, “Welcome to my humble abode.”
“Sorry to intrude. My name is Wulf, and the young lady is Rigmor. May I ask your name?”
“Allie will do.”
“We are only passing through and mean you no harm. But Rigmor is unwell and needed to rest.”
Allie walked towards Rigmor but stopped too far away to make a diagnosis.
Allie announced, “Rigmor is afflicted.”
“No, I don’t think it is Peryite’s disease.”
Allies turned to me with her arms crossed. A posture my mother would make when explaining something I should already know.
“It was you who did battle with the undead?”
“Yes, the Akaviri vampires have been pursuing us.”
“The undead created from Men are called Remnants, and they have visited this island many times before. Rigmor has been afflicted with living death, a perpetual malaise of sleep. It occurs to all who do battle with them.”
“Not all for their Blood Magic does not affect me.”
“But you are anointed, blessed if you will. You are Dragonborn.”
“Can you help Rigmor, or should I take her elsewhere?”
“I have a recipe that will save her, but you must act quickly and gather some ingredients for me.”
“Tell me what you need, Allie. I may already have some of the reagents with me.”
“I need three rabbit legs, one small deer antler, three Blood Wort and one Namira’s Rot. You will find them nearby in the forest. But try not to stray too far, as, with the night, danger lurks.”
“I very rarely leave Rigmor’s side. And as I said, the Akaviri are hunting us.”
“I’ll look after Rigmor, but we don’t have much time.”
“I trust you will keep her safe, Allie.”
“Go, shoo, time is running out.”
Allie sat sideways on the chair and watched over my beloved.
I stepped outside the hut, and on the pathway stood a deer.
I quickly drew my bow, aimed and released.
The arrow hit the deer in the middle of its forehead, killing it instantly.
I looked up into the sky and whispered, “Thank you, Lady Kynareth. That saves time!”
I collected the antlers then made my way into the forest. Thanks to night-vision, it seemed brighter than midday.
It was not long before I found some Blood Wort flowers.
A memory came unbidden, as had the earlier ones.
Mother asked, “Valdr, what is the special property of Blood Wort?”
“It can be used for general healing but is especially effective against diseases of the blood. The Nedic People used it as a reagent in a potion to cure Sanguinare Vampiris.”
“Very good. And where can Blood Wort be found?”
“It is common on the islands of Roscrea. It is rare in Tamriel except deep within the Great Forest of Cyrodiil.”
“What other reagents have healing properties?”
“Umm…Blisterwort, Blue Dartwing, Blue Mountain Flower, Butterfly Wing, Charred Skeever Hide, Daedra Heart, Eye of Sabre Cat, Imp Stool, Swamp Fungal Pod, Wheat.”
“That is well done, but you forgot one. Rock Warbler Eggs are another reagent with healing properties.”
Mother placed a couple of Blood Wort flowers in my basket, ruffled my already messy hair, then asked, “Valdr, do you think you can find some Mora Tapinella for me?”
Mother laughed as we went searching for the elusive mushroom.
Tears rolled down my cheeks. The love of my mother had been lost to me! But I had to concentrate on the task at hand and could not afford the time to reminisce.
It did not take long to find another two Blood Wort clusters.
I knew Namira’s Rot, as the Dark Lord it is named after prefers, likes to hide in dark, shadowy places. I saw a rock outcrop and headed for it.
A good selection of Namira’s Rot was in a place where its shadow would block the sun for almost the entire day. I picked the best of the toadstools then looked for rabbits.
Namira’s Rot as a reagent made sense. It can be used to suppress Magicka and dweomer. Rabbit legs? They made no sense to me as a reagent. I could think of no alchemical use for them.
I quickly slaughtered a bunny and cut off its four legs.
I jogged back to the cottage.
Another vivid memory assailed me.
I am standing next to my father with a shield and wooden sword. He is dressed in his Colovian armour with a wooden shield and an old-fashioned Imperial sword.
Father explained, “Valdr, this stance becomes one of the most useful. You can brace yourself with your sword forward, and anybody charging you risks impalement. You can quickly step forward and attack. You can interlock shields with your comrades and make a shield wall. The effectiveness of its different purposes depends on the strength of your shield arm and how well you transfer weight from front and back legs.”
Mother added, “The Ayleid had little answer to the Nord shield walls. The Nord forces that aided the rebellion were our shock troops. They would advance with locked shields, reducing the effectiveness of enemy archers. When they were close enough, they instantly changed from shield wall to a snarling, yelling, blood-curdling mob that charged fearlessly into enemy lines.”
I asked, “Aren’t Imperial Legions more likely to adopt a phalanx?”
Father laughed then said, “Yes, but I suggest you stick to sword and board. Spearmen are brave, but their long-handled weapons are practically useless once the phalanx dissolves. They end up fighting with a sword only, which is not ideal.”
“Why will I need to fight? I have never killed anything and can’t imagine ending the life of a person.”
Mother sighed and said, “It will be inevitable, my beautiful boy. You shouldn’t find glory in battle, but you will save many lives if you become the best warrior you can be. You will kill so others don’t need to. You will kill so others can live a peaceful life. It is a burden your father knows only too well.”
“Yes, and the histories ignore his diplomacy and concentrate on his battles. It is unfair!”
Father laughed then said, “True scholars always know and spread the truth. It is their calling in life. There is not much anybody can do about those who sensationalise to sell half-truths.”
“How long do I have to hold this stance?”
“Until your sword becomes an unbearable weight. Then we shall try it again tomorrow, and you must hold the stance for longer. Eventually, I shall give you a metal sword, and we repeat the process.”
“I’d rather go fishing with Anna.”
Mother said, “I shall take you and Anna fishing the day after tomorrow, as long as you have tried hard with this practice. But it won’t be catch and release as you will be fishing for our supper!”
“The sword doesn’t seem too heavy.”
Both parents laughed a sort of evil cackle, suggesting they knew something I didn’t.
A few minutes later, my sword felt like I was holding a large boulder. But I was not going to give in, not till I think I have earned that fishing trip!
I shook my head and proceeded into the cottage.
I immediately checked Rigmor. The first thing I noticed was her breathing. I am so used to her regular frequency of breaths, the substantially longer periods between each were disturbing. Her skin colour was normal. Her lips were a healthy colour. I put my hand on her forehead and could feel she was burning up!
Behind me, Allie said, “You love the girl very much, and it is normal to worry so. Take heart, for I think we are in time to save her. That is if you have finished recalling the past and checking on my patient.”
I walked over to the cross-armed Allie and replied, “I wonder if you would be so dismissive of remembering things once hidden if they suddenly returned? Anyway, here are the reagents you asked for.”
I placed the reagents on the table.
“Not a moment too soon!”
“How is Rigmor, Allie?”
“The fever is taking hold, and her temperature is rising. Once I administer the potion, we should see immediate results.”
“I already owe you a great deal, and curing Rigmor adds to the tally.”
“Healing Rigmor is of paramount importance to many. Please, Wulf, sit while I do my work.”
I sat and watched the familiar sight of my mother performing miracles with alchemy. I had a sudden thought that made me smile. I imagined Valerica and Al-Esh sitting down over a cup of tea discussing alchemical formulas.
“I know you will have many questions, most of which I cannot answer. Let’s just call me a soothsayer.”
“Witch if you like.”
“No, you lack the warty nose. Soothsayer will do.”
Allie did a very witchlike cackle, then said, “I have myself spent many years a slave, so saving Rigmor is of vital importance to me.”
I know there is far more to it than that. Allie knows I know. But we continued playing the game as Rigmor’s health was more important than answering my questions.
Allie turned to me.
“Wulf, I have had many dreams and visions of possible permutations for the future of this world. Some are good outcomes, but by far, most are not.”
“That must scare you, but with a bit of careful nudging, we make the good outcomes more likely.”
“I kind of look at it as having a gift, of course for good, but the path has been long and hard.”
“Of that, Allie, I have no doubt.”
“My partner and I moved out here as we needed to be closer to the natural world. We had a child and lived in relative isolation for many years.”
Allie turned back to her alchemy table. She recognised what I was but not who I was.
She continued, “During our son’s eighteenth birth year, he didn’t come home. My partner returned to the heavens a few years later. I had a shrine made so that I had a place to be able to remain close to both of them.”
It seems father occasionally visited this aspect of Alessia. I wonder how many years she has been alone, and why? Surely Alessia needs to be complete as she tackles Molag Bal. Why expend some of her life force on this aspect?
I asked, “What happened to your son?”
“One night, I heard a commotion in the forest, and it was coming from the direction of my son’s last known location.
I followed the cacophony, much of it screaming in a tongue I had not heard before. It was then I came across the slaughter.
The noises had ceased by the time I arrived at the scene. Many Remnants lay dead in the foliage. I followed a trail of blood leading away from the scene, which led to a small cave under the ridge of a rocky outcrop. Then I saw a werewolf enter the cave.
Allie turned to me as her concoction bubbled away in the alembic and distillation bottle.
“I remained hidden until the light of day, expecting a man to emerge. But he when he stepped outside, he was still in wolf form.”
“I assume the Remnant’s Blood Magic did not mix well with Hircine’s Lycanthropy disease.”
“Correct. The only time a person remains in the wolf state is if they have been afflicted somehow. Other curses and Blood Magic can cause the same thing. Anyway, the werewolf left the cave and disappeared into the forest. I took my chance and entered its lair. All I found were animal bones.”
Allie turned to complete her alchemical process.
“I was relieved because I was looking for a gold ring that we had gifted our son on his eighteenth birthday, and it was nowhere to be found.”
“You then assumed the werewolf had not taken your son?”
“Yes, but of course, that might be wishful thinking on my part. I cannot bear to think that our child had been a victim of that monster and met with such a gruesome death.”
“Allie, not all werewolves are mindless hunters. Neither are vampires or dragons. Not all Minotaur were the same as the savage beasts that now roam remote parts of Tamriel.”
“You are correct, and I should know better than most. I have never been bothered by the beast. Like its kind and all the beasts of the forest, they usually keep a respectful distance.”
“I find it difficult that you refer to the werewolf as a beast. Am I a half-beast, Allie? Were Cyrodiilic Minotaur beasts? Was Emperor Belharza a half-beast?”
“No…no…forgive my poor choice of words.”
“Sorry, Allie, I tend to repeat the lessons of my mother on occasions.”
“Now then, enough talk for the potion is ready.”
I was finding the situation more than a bit confronting. I craved my father’s touch and was finally gifted a hug as he escorted me from Aetherius to Mundus. When will I get the same from my mother, of whom Allie was but a small part?
I heard Allie say, “Come on, baby girl, that’s it, take the potion. Yes, just a little more. That’s a good girl!”
I made my way over, and Allie turned to me.
“She has taken all the potion I prepared. It only had to be a small amount as the characteristics of the Blood Wort are quite potent.”
“I noticed spikes surrounding the cottage. They seem to be a recent addition.”
“Oh, concerned locals placed them despite my assurances that I was safe. Not even the Akaviri venture to this part of the island. When I found the slain Remnants earlier, I was surprised they had even made it that far south.”
“It seems their hunt for Rigmor and me will drive them to extremes.”
Rigmor started moaning, and our attention turned to her.
Rigmor said, in a voice that varied from panicky shouting to whispers, “No! No…stop…NO! GET AWAY! Get away…leave him alone…DAD!”
“Allie, is this a fever dream? They always dredge up the worst memories.”
“Yes, Wulf, but do not panic. It means the potion is working as I thought it would.”
Allie whispered to Rigmor, “Shh, baby girl. Everything is going to be alright.”
“But why me, mother? All I have ever known is this island.”
“‘Why me?’ is a question asked by all, even the gods. I will list the reasons for this choice, but you know them already.
You showed remarkable abilities as a child in how quickly you absorbed knowledge and applied it. Combined with your extraordinary empathy and love of all peoples, it was no surprise when Lord Akatosh asked us if he could make you Dragonborn. We thought long and hard before allowing his blessing. The blessing occurred well before The Divines became aware of the impending danger of Alduin’s return.
Later on, you displayed a strength of will and an affinity for time streams that astound and baffle The Nine. You were going to be their Mortal Agent for whatever tasks may arise, but the return of Alduin has suddenly become their immediate concern.
The Nine, as are all gods, are at the mercy of natural laws. They determined the Convention for this Kalpa, but the natural laws of the Aurbis are not theirs to control.
Alduin has been tossed into the timestream instead of being defeated as another Dragonborn should have done. His imminent return threatens the natural laws of the Aurbis. Even if he does as his duty demands and ends the Kalpa, the timing is wrong. Most gods fear the consequences of that scenario, and not because they know what will happen. Conversely, they are afraid as the outcome is unknown.
It is as if the Aurbis produced you to defend itself. Maybe it did? The Divines do not know all, not by a long way! Your affinity for time and extraordinary willpower makes you the ideal adversary to Alduin.
You must prepare for the confrontation! Once The World Eater arrives, it will be too late to develop the necessary skills and learn the required knowledge. Therefore, you must leave this island and travel to where they can teach these essential skills. On Akavir, the Dragonguard will teach you martial skills. Members of the Psijic Order will visit and teach you the Schools of Magicka. Your natural logic, empathy and strong moral compass will provide what they cannot teach.”
“Yes, I know all of this as both you and father have been very patient explaining it to me. But I am afraid, mother. I am afraid of failure, not because I would be shamed. I am afraid of failure because I genuinely care for the myriad of people I have never met. I see Anna and her family and the different people who have visited here and nearby villages, and I see beauty. I see what the sacrifices of The Divines have made and understand why they love it so. But there is an irony in all this, mother.”
“And what is that?”
“As I pray to The Divines to help me with this task, they, in turn, are praying to the gods of Aurbis to help them. They don’t even know who those gods are or even if they do exist. They must be terrified, and I pity them.”
My mother held me tight, which is a strength I cannot take with me to Akavir.
I was quickly brought back to the present by Rigmor.
The panicky shouting and whispers returned, “WULF! Oh, Wulf…I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry.”
“Sorry for what, Rigmor? Is this a premonition or a memory?”
“KINTYRA! Don’t go into the valley…NO!”
“What is happening, Allie? These do not sound like memories!”
“I know not, Wulf.”
Allie whispered, “Oh, sweetheart, shhh. Wulf is here, waiting for your return. Shhh.”
Rigmor settled, and I saw her breathing become its usual rhythm, and I once again found tears rolling down my cheeks.
Allie stood and moved a short distance away. I stood and approached her.
“Tears of relief are nothing to be ashamed of, Wulf.”
“I wish you would stop reading me like a book!”
Allie laughed, then explained, “Rigmor has settled down. Her temperature is falling, as you detected yourself. Tomorrow she should be fine.”
“I have much to thank you for, Allie, but returning Rigmor to me is a debt I could never repay.”
“You and Rigmor are essential to the good outcomes I see. That fact alone means we all owe you two a debt that can never be repaid.”
“If we are successful, I will be glad to cancel all debts owing.”
Allied laughed once, then said, “Now, take up your usual position by her side and watch over her. The first thing she will see when she awakens is her Guardian, her Dragonborn, her beloved Wulf.”
I walked over to the chair and sat.
In an instant, all became dark.
I know not what time I fell asleep or even if it was sleep.