Turdas, 21st Last Seed, 4E 201
& Fredas, 22nd Last Seed, 4E 201
I honed Ragnar’s sword and placed my usual dweomer on it. I did not spend time repairing the amulet because I wanted to get back to Angi’s as soon as I could.
When I materialised at Angi’s, I summoned Bashita, who then placed a Mark so she could Recall back to it later. Sakiya would remain at the Safe House to greet any other Blades who arrived.
Most of the Blades will spread throughout Skyrim like they first did at the end of The Great War. Each one kept their location secret from the others, so if The Thalmor captured and tortured a Blade, they could not tell them where to find others. The returning Blades will use the same method. All of the Blades who were in Akavir know about the Safe House. Even if The Thalmor uncover the Safe House, they will not raid it without Jarl Elisif’s approval, and that would not be easy to obtain. However, if many Blades use the Safe House, the pressure on Jarl Elisif would mount, and orders from above might force her hand.
Too many Blades to safely hide is a problem I would gladly accept. It is better than too many dying trying to defeat an endless number of Tsaesci.
Meeko came up to greet Bashita in his usual enthusiastic manner. However, he soon realised something was amiss and lay with his head on his paws as I woke Celestine.
We stood and talked in whispers about what had occurred. Celestine was visibly upset, but positive Vayu would choose their future over a senseless death.
I left them alone and took up my Guardian position next to Rigmor. I watched her relax from another Night Terror then I slept for several hours. I awoke at the same time as yesterday. A while later, I woke Rigmor.
Rigmor asked, “What is worrying you, Wulf?”
“It is that obvious?”
“Yes. Your forehead always creases when you are worried.”
“Celestine says the same thing.”
“Wulf, please, what is the problem?”
“I was born on one of Roscrea’s small islands. When I was eighteen, I went to Akavir to train with the Dragonguard and Psijic Order. The Dragonguard were the precursors to The Blades. Several times throughout history, they are supposed to have been wiped out. But they continued to exist in secret upon Akavir.”
“They are the ones who were looking for a Dragonborn when they invaded Tamriel.”
“Yes, and they surrendered to Reman Cyrodiil when they heard him use the Thu’um.”
“Roscrea then Akavir. I can see why Tamriel, especially Skyrim, would be new and strange for you.”
“Some of the customs, yes.”
“Please continue, Wulf. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“No, it is okay, Rigmor. You must understand who and what I am talking about.”
“When the White-Gold Concordat was signed, about a dozen Blades, some of them mere apprentices early in their training, found their way to Akavir and The Dragonguard. I became friends with many, and Celestine is to marry one of them. He is a huge Redguard called Vayu. Most of my Swordmasters were of the Tsaesci race, although the other races of Akavir were also represented. The point is, Akavir has its political factions, not always along racial divides, and The Dragonguard is regarded as a threat by some. The Tsaesci, or some faction of Tsaesci, found our headquarters and attacked. They will overwhelm The Dragonguard, and The Blades were ordered to return to Skyrim as they are to aid me. Some wanted to stay and fight. I don’t know how many of my friends have obeyed their orders and come to Skyrim. They could all be dead, including Vayu.”
“Two of our friends, Bashita and Sakiya, left as ordered and were at the Safe House. They are mages, and therefore they could teleport. Most of the other Blades will have to find passage somehow, but I think they will be okay in that department as we had planned for such a scenario. I was going to ask Celestine to accompany us today. However, now I think she should remain here with Bashita. They can co-ordinate with Sakiya, and any developments will be known immediately.”
“So, what is the plan?”
“Just me and you again, so get ready. We leave in about half an hour.”
“Oh, and here is your sword. Leave the other one here.”
A while later, Rigmor came up to me and said, “Sorella was woken by the activity and asked what was happening. I told her that you and I were going on a trip and might be away for a couple of days. She is worried.”
“This place is new, she just lost her parents, and two people she came to trust are leaving her. It must be confusing for the girl.”
“So, how can we help her?”
“By giving her something to do. Leave it to me.”
Angi and Sorella were watching the activity when I approached the pair.
- Wulf: Sorella, have you said hello to my dog, Meeko?
- Sorella: Not yet. He is huge!
- Wulf: Poor Meeko gets very sad when I am away. Could you do me a favour and cheer him up if he looks sad?
- Sorella: How do I do that?
- Wulf: Talk to him, cuddle him, play games with him. He is the friendliest dog in the world, isn’t he Angi?
- Angi: Ahh…yes, of course, Meeko and I are good friends.
- Sorella: Talk to him?
- Wulf: Yeah, not that silly baby talk people use when speaking to cute animals. Talk to him as you would a person. He will understand every word you say!
- Sorella: Really?
- Wulf: Really! You can test that by asking him to do complicated things.
- Sorella: Okay, I can do that for you, Wulf.
- Wulf: Thank you, Sorella.
I walked over to Meeko.
“The little girl’s name is Sorella, and she is scared and sad. She has just been orphaned. I am trusting you to help her.”
“Well, the best way is to pretend to be sad yourself. Sorella will try and comfort you.”
“Yes, I know it is a good plan. Just listen if Sorella wants to talk. Let her know you care and understand.”
“Celestine is more worried than sad. She is not immune to your charms, so let her know you care as well.”
Rigmor called out, “Ren is ready. Where’s your horse?”
I walked over and summoned Hashire, who appeared in his natural form with his fancy armour.
Rigmor gasped, so I turned to her.
“Is there something wrong, Rigmor?”
“Your horse is a Unicorn!”
“Is he? I never noticed.”
‘Wulf! Your horse is a Unicorn!”
“Hashire was rescued from the past by the Psijic Order and gifted to me. He has lost the ability to fly, but he can walk under and over water and do other things a normal horse can’t.”
“From the past?”
“Lord Hircine had nearly every Unicorn kidnapped and taken to The Hunting Grounds, Hircine’s realm of Oblivion. He sometimes visits Nirn as his aspect called Alrabeg. Occasionally he brings a Unicorn with him to hunt it on the mortal plane. On one of those occasions, hundreds of years ago, the Psijic rescued Hashire and took him to their island called Artaeum, which has vanished from Nirn for the second time quite recently. The Psijic gifted him to me before this latest vanishment.”
I turned to Hashire.
“You idiot! Every Hircine worshipper or trophy hunter will be after you if seen in that form! Change into a Fjord pony with a normal traveller’s saddle, and don’t forget the ale. No glowing or flashiness either!”
Hashire immediately did as he was told, which made a change.
I mounted Hashire and said, “Come, Rigmor. The sun is about to rise, and it is a long ride.”
We were halfway down the mountain when it started to pour.
Hours later, we entered Helgen.
“Oh, Wulf. I didn’t think it would be this bad!”
“Can you imagine what would happen to a wooden town like Riverwood? There would be nothing left.”
“Can we get through the rubble?”
“Hashire could but not Ren. We will have to circle Helgen to get to the road to Riften.”
As we circled Helgen, a bear and wolf had killed a troll then started fighting each other. Both decided to forget their quarrel and attack me instead. Both died for their foolishness.
Rigmor said, “I can’t fight from horseback.”
“Not everybody can. It is easier when your horse is fairly invulnerable. Only certain Daedric and magically enhanced weapons can hurt a Unicorn.”
“So, I just leap off Ren then?”
“Yes, and tell him to go to safety. Does he respond to whistle or horn?”
“Yeah, he will come if I whistle.”
“I will put a dweomer on him so we can summon him as I did with Hashire.”
“That would be….”
“Cool doesn’t sound cool when you say it.”
“Either does indescreviouspantheraxcosterite when you say it.”
“I have never said that word!”
“Only because you know how not cool it would sound.”
The rain eased. There was a brief snowstorm, then it was just overcast and not too bad.
We finally reached the Helgen entrance where Celestine and I had seen Alduin.
I said, “This should be easy. We follow the signs!”
“So, there is no chance of us getting lost?”
“Not if we stick to the main roads. There are probably shortcuts without signs.”
“No, Wulf, let us stick to the roads. We might get attacked by who knows what if we take the shortcuts.”
“Without patrols, I don’t think the main roads are much safer.”
My prediction was proven correct when some vampire thralls attacked us.
I cut them down then leapt off Hashire to inspect them.
I turned to Hashire and said, “No, I don’t know why they attacked us. I might not even have noticed the cave, which is probably a den for vampires if they had just let us ride past.”
Rigmor asked, “We are not going to enter the cave, are we?”
“No, Rigmor. But I might visit it one day to see what the bloodsuckers are up to.”
“You would walk into a next of vampires?”
“Their Blood-Magic doesn’t work on me. Dragonblood, remember? One group of vampires thought they would be smart and drink Dragonblood. It didn’t turn out well for them.”
I took the ale from its holder and took a swig, placed it back, then took it off again. I handed it to Rigmor.
She exclaimed, “I just saw you open the bottle and drink from it. But this is sealed and full?”
“Can’t Ren make cold ale appear from the ether?”
“I love Ren to bits, but cold ale whenever you want? Nah, I will stick with Ren.”
“I have a store of cold ale in a pocket plane of Oblivion. Hashire replaces an empty with a full, so the ale is not perpetual, although it is plentiful.”
Rigmor downed the bottle and burped. I placed the empty back in its place.
An hour later, we came across the first fighting I had witnessed of the civil war. The soldiers trying to butcher each other were once on the same side!
I said to Rigmor, “I cannot allow Legionnaires to die at the hands of rebels. Sit this out, or use your bow. That is your decision. But please, do not enter the melee. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are with a greatsword because, in such a melee, a killing blow can come from any direction.”
“Then why are you going to risk it?”
“You are the best greatsword wielder I have ever seen, but watch and see why I use a katana and shield.”
In minutes I turned the tide of the battle and slaughtered many Stormcloaks.
I returned to Rigmor, who had picked a few rebels off with her bow. She looked sad, and I can’t blame her.
Then she looked at me and could see my concern.
“It’s okay, Wulf. As you have said several times, the enemy chose their path.”
“Yes, but each dead soldier leaves behind loved ones. And some may even have been children of Sons of Talos. Who knows, any elderly Stormcloak might even have fought by your father’s side.”
“It is uncanny how you know what I am thinking. You can’t read minds, can you?”
“No, I would never do that to you even if I could. I can’t think of anything apart from physical rape that is more disgusting or intrusive. I have put barriers on my mind to stop gods and others from snooping. The Psijic offered me mind-reading spells that I refused to learn. The same with mind control. I can do that without spells, but it would have to be a dire situation before I did so.”
“The way you moved around the battlefield. It is like a dance. You flow from one opponent to another.”
“One day, I hope Wulf Septim is known for more than his killing prowess. I am more than that, Rigmor, and hope to prove it.”
“You don’t have to prove it to me, Wulf. I can see it in your eyes, your actions and hear it in your words. This incident has upset you, so let’s move past it.”
Many of the Legionnaires thanked me. Many asked my name. I remained silent as we carefully weaved our way through the dead.
I was determined not to look too closely at the dead. I feared seeing an Amulet of Talos amongst them.
We rode on in silence.
We stopped briefly to inform some pilgrims of the battlefield they were approaching.
A merchant and her bodyguards were having a hard time with a short-faced bear.
I casually rode over and dispatched it, then continued without saying anything.
At one intersection, I saw a hound running towards us.
Hashire said, “That is not a dog. I am fairly good at recognising Daedra.”
“Yes, Hashire, I know it is a Daedra of some type. Let’s keep going, and maybe it will find another mortal to bother.”
Further along, we heard the sound of people fighting wolves. I leapt off Hashire to aid them, but they had killed the wolves already and decided to attack us!
I cut one down, then Hashire, and Rigmor finished the other.
Rigmor exclaimed, “Hashire set that guy on fire!”
“Yes, you don’t mess with a Unicorn. He could have all sorts of protection dweomer enabled, but unfortunately, most of them glow.”
I laughed and told Rigmor, “Hashire says that bastard tried to hurt Ren. He seems to like your horse.”
“And why wouldn’t he? Ren might be a bit short and round, but he is loyal and sturdy.”
“Hashire says it is a pity you had Ren’s balls cut off.”
“I never did! He was a gelding when I got him!”
I said aloud, “No, Hashire, I don’t have a spell to grow them back.”
I laughed as I remounted, but the man I had just killed was added to my list.
Not far from Riften, light rain and thick fog made the landscape somehow more beautiful and mysterious.
I stopped to have a look at a shrine.
“Who is that?” asked Rigmor.
“An Aldmeri god called Xarxes. He is similar to Arkay in many ways, and some consider them to be the same god. He is said to be the scribe of Auri-El, the Mer version of Akatosh.”
“What is he the god of?”
“He keeps a journal that lists every Aldmeri accomplishment throughout time, no matter how minor or major. He urges the Altmer to keep an Everscriven Scroll, like a diary, which is to be a record of their life.”
“Like your journal?”
“I don’t want my history to be blurred by lies and misinformation. You have seen how Dominion brownnoses have rewritten your father’s story, and now that is the official record held in Imperial libraries.”
“Yes, it disgusts me!”
“As I said earlier, I want to leave a legacy other than death. But even if that is all I am good for, the reasons I killed must be accurately told and not glorified. Nords tend to do that.”
“Give me an example.”
“Ysgramor and the five hundred. The official history texts do not mention what happened to the non-combatants. Did the women, children and old people die of natural causes? No, they were slaughtered as if vermin! Where is the justification for the genocide?”
“Oh, I see.”
“But it is not just the Nords who warp history. Pelinal Whitestrake killed thousands, mostly for justifiable reasons. But histories tend to concentrate on his actions when insanity ruled over reason.”
“Why did he go insane?”
“His soulmate, a male spearman in Saint Alessia’s army, was killed. Pelinal’s grief turned to anger and then madness. All Mer became his enemy. He even killed many Khajiit, mistaking them for Mer.”
“My dad said Tiber Septim is not the Mer killer the Nords make him out to be.”
“He used diplomacy where he could. But there are conflicting histories of Tiber Septim, as with many famous people. The Arcturian Heresy is one example concerning Talos.”
“You will do something other than kill, Wulf. But you will need to kill to give yourself that opportunity.”
“Rigmor Ragnarsdottier amazes her Guardian once more! Thank you for that display of confidence in me, Rigmor. You understand my dilemma. Somebody has to kill, so others don’t have to and can live their lives free of fear and the stain of killing. I am a soldier, and that is a soldier’s duty.”
“Am I in your journal?”
“I suppose I should write something. How do you spell your name again?”
“You, Wulf Septim, are an arsehole.”
“Oh, one of my secrets has been uncovered!”
Rigmor laughed as we rode away from Xarxes.
A bit later, Rigmor asked, “What are those ugly deer called?”
“That is a moose, and I think they are quite charming.”
“Yes, I suppose they are. I wonder if other deer laugh at them?”
“I don’t think deer are racist, even Nord ones.”
“Nord deer? Weird…just weird.”
It was difficult to tell the road to the southern entrance of Riften was a major thoroughfare. It was more like an infrequently used trail through thick forest.
Rigmor said, “I want to walk along here and enjoy the sights and smells at a slower pace.”
“Yes, it is beautiful. The Rift has its charm, even though it has a reputation as the home of bandits and other undesirables.”
Not much further on, a Riften guard had just finished disposing of two aggressive Sabre Cats. In a way, it was good to realise others had to deal with aggressive wildlife. I was getting a bit paranoid that Rigmor and I were being singled out. A Skyrim wildlife conspiracy!
We hadn’t seen a sign for many miles, so when one appeared, I gloated, “See that sign. As if I would get us lost!”
“So says the woman who has blindly followed me without ever questioning our course.”
“If we get lost, I can’t receive any of the blame. It will be one hundred per cent your fault. DUH!”
“Ahh, I see the wisdom in your devious ways.”
A bit further on, another Riften guard was fighting a puma.
I cut it down and received a gruff, “Thanks, but I had it under control.”
The guard didn’t have it under control, but who am I to shatter their illusion of adequacy?
When we passed a farm, Rigmor wistfully said, “One day, I will have a farm like that. Not too big and near a river or lake. That is if I ever get to live a normal life.”
I replied, “You are young and have decades ahead of you. Keep that dream, Rigmor, and use it when the times get tough.”
“I had ambitions when I was enslaved. One of them was to rescue my mom.”
“Well, we are visiting Riften in the hope that Baa’Ren-Dar can help achieve that ambition.”
“Yeah, I know. One step at a time.”
We arrived at the southern entrance. I assured Rigmor that Ren was safe with Hashire.
Two Riften Guards, not impressed with gate duty, glared at us as we approached.
The grumpiest one on the right demanded, “Hold and stand down. If you want to get into Riften, use the north gate. This one’s closed.”
“Why? What is going on?”
“My orders are to tell the riff-raff to use the north gate. That’s what is going on.”
“You dare call Lady Ramsbottom riff-raff? Her armour alone would take you ten years of every penny you earned to purchase! You are lucky I respect your profession, for if I did not, I would thrash you till you cried.”
“And those orders came from a corrupt officer who gets a cut from the north entrance shakedowns. Are you a criminal?”
“No! I would never….”
“Open the gate and move aside. Lady Ramsbottom is here for an important meeting with Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar of Pellitine.”
“Oh, I thought he was just an old Khajiit smuggling in some low lives. I humbly apologise. Let me get the gate for you.”
The Riften Guard opened the gate and bowed to Rigmor as she passed.
When we entered, Rigmor said, “I hope Baa’Ren-Dar isn’t too mad I took so long to get here.”
“Sorry, Baa’Ren-Dar, but I almost died and took a few days to get better. Then we attacked Fort Black to rescue a friend and ended up uncovering a sinister plot.”
“Good point. If Baa’Ren-Dar does grumble, I will tell him to get stuffed.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar, yava zuubka!”
“Umm, even though I lived with him for years, my Ta’agra is terrible.”
“Oh, it means ‘get fucked’. You can use ‘kenabi dat’, which means ‘stick it’ if you want to be more ladylike.”
“It must come in handy to be able to swear in multiple languages.”
“It’s a hobby of mine.”
“You do an excellent impersonation of a stick up the arse noble.”
“Thank you, Milady. Shall we proceed to the tavern and get royally shitfaced?”
“Lead on, my good man.”
Rigmor bemoaned, “Damn, see that, an orphanage!”
“They will need plenty of them thanks to the civil war.”
“The New Order might add to the tally of orphans as well. Not to mention the dragons!”
“That is one of the things I want to be my legacy. I want to buy huge estates, hire teachers and guards, and provide places for hundreds of children to learn and be treated like they should. So far, we have not had to fight children who have been forced into banditry to survive. In every city, if you look and do not shy away from reality, you will see children prostituting themselves.”
“Having to kill a child would be terrible. I like your idea, Wulf!”
Rigmor stopped and stared at the famous Riften Market not far past the orphanage.
“Can we check out the market? I heard they have all sorts of stuff!”
“I can’t see why not. We talk to Baa’Ren-Dar, hand over all the shit to him so he can worry about it, then spend the rest of the day browsing the market.”
“Good plan, my Guardian!”
I bowed and said, “I serve to live. I mean, I live to serve.”
Rigmor smiled then said, “Yanno, I met a woman once who was wearing the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. She told me the only place to get one is Riften Market. She told me one of the vendors has exclusive import rights from Morrowind and that they are available in many different colours.”
“Let me guess. Does Lady Ramsbottom want a red one?”
“Hmm…I was thinking more like bright green with purple polka dots.”
“We shall wander over later and purchase the perfect one, or perfect dozen, or the entire stock if need be.”
Instead of laughing, Rigmor became instantly morose.
“What is wrong, Rigmor?”
“I’m so stupid, I forgot myself… I…”
“Forgot yourself? I don’t understand.”
“Wulf, look at me. Look at me! The last thing I want to do is make a dress look ugly. Come on, let’s go see Baa’Ren-Dar.”
I didn’t contradict Rigmor with platitudes. Instead, I planned to prove her wrong. I would purchase a red dress and present it to her when the opportunity arises. She will then wear it and realise she made the dress more beautiful than it was. I hoped Baa’Ren-Dar would provide the opportunity for me to slip out and purchase the dress. There were plenty of bags and pouches on Hashire in which to hide it.
I could tell Rigmor was looking forward to meeting her friend. I was a bit nervous. What if Baa’Ren-Dar took charge of guarding Rigmor, and I found myself redundant?
As we walked, Rigmor’s mood swung again, and she cheerfully said, “Haha, Guardian. See the canal? You don’t see that every day! How cool is that?”
“What canal? Oh, that is the canal! I thought at first that it was a grass walkway. I wouldn’t want to fall in.”
We entered the Bee and Barb.
Rigmor ran to an elderly Khajiit wearing the robes of an Azura devotee.
She exclaimed, “It’s so good to see you, Baa’Ren-Dar!
“Well met, Rigmor! This one sees you have brought along a friend?”
Rigmor looked my way and told Baa’Ren-Dar, “This is Valdr, my Guardian.”
I was delighted to hear Baa’Ren-Dar spoke in the third person! Khajiit have a strong sense of clan. They concern themselves with the welfare and feelings of the whole, not the individual. When they say, ‘this one,’ they politely point out that personal thoughts and opinions are being expressed rather than the entire clan’s. Most Man and Mer scholars are ignorant of the reason and disdain Khajiiti intelligence.
We sat at an available table.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit hopes that Valdr is taking good care of you.
- Rigmor: Oh, he has his moments.
- Wulf: Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week full of moments.
- Rigmor: Is there any news on my mother’s ring?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Actually, yes! A member of the Thieves Guild in Riften acquired it in the Grey Quarter Ghetto inside Windhelm. It was sold to him by a Dunmer who had been a kitchen servant at the Thalmor Embassy in Haafingar. Khajiit suggests you both lay low here while this one arranges for a meeting to loosen his tongue with coin.
- Rigmor: Baa’Ren-Dar, there’s something you need to see. Show him, Valdr.
I handed Baa’Ren-Dar the map, journal and letters we had found in Fort Black. The emissary spent a few minutes reading them. Eventually, he spoke again, and there was worry in his voice.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: So, it has all come to pass! Khajiit had suspicions all along. The New Order of Alinor are well known in Aldmeri circles. They are a shadowy clandestine organisation of Altmer extremists. Rumours are just seeds on the wind, but here now is the hard evidence.
- Wulf: Only many conspirators with lots of money could accomplish this detailed planning and organisation. How did The New Order get so large that it now threatens the Aldmeri Dominion and The Empire?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: What does Rigmor’s Guardian think the answer to that conundrum might be?
- Wulf: I believe the Aldmeri Dominion know of the New Order’s plans and will let them run their course. The Dominion will hope much damage is done to Skyrim and The Empire. They will not allow the New Order to conquer the Imperial City but will intervene and pretend to be our saviours. Plausible Deniability will be their diplomatic policy.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Valdr should be an emissary!
- Wulf: I couldn’t stand being knee-deep in, excuse the language, bullshit all the time.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one is used to the smell. Did anyone see you take these documents?
- Rigmor: Don’t worry, there are no witnesses. We slew them all!
- Wulf: We killed dozens of people when retrieving those documents. Please tell me the slaughter was worth it.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, they may save many lives. However, even if you left no witnesses, we must be cautious! We must keep this to ourselves until I investigate the revelations in these documents.
- Wulf: Though Elsweyr is part of the Aldmeri Dominion, I do not question your desire to squash this New Order. But surely The Empire, the Emperor himself, needs to know about this immediately?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, Khajiit must shorten his stay in Skyrim and travel to Cyrodiil and Elsweyr immediately. This task will take all of this one’s skills and friends in high diplomatic circles to get to the bottom of it and know what to do next. You two can do nothing about this conspiracy until this one has spoken to his contacts.
- Wulf: How do we contact you?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: That is not easy, so Khajiit will find a way to contact you.
- Wulf: Do you want us to visit the Dunmer in Windhelm?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, but be very careful. Rigmor is now officially a wanted criminal by the Thalmor in Empire controlled areas.
- Wulf: She has been for some time, Baa’Ren-Dar! There is much that has happened to Rigmor because of that fact.
- Rigmor: Guardian, Baa’Ren-Dar has enough worries.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: If Rigmor has been in danger, this one would like to hear the tale.
- Wulf: Do you know of Angi?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, she nursed Rigmor back to health after being hurt.
- Wulf: While escaping a Thalmor hunting party near Riverwood, Rigmor jumped from a cliff into a tree and was severely injured. The combined effort of Master Restoration spells and the healing skills of a woman called Rose, plus Rigmor’s stubbiness, saved her from death. Rigmor is still recovering. It was eerily similar to what Angi did for her.
- Rigmor: We went to Fort Black mainly to rescue Rose. The Thalmor had captured her and took her there for interrogation. She had already escaped by the time we arrived.
- Wulf: We recovered the artefacts, Rigmor’s heirlooms, while we were there.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one is pleased Rigmor was in such good hands and that Rose escaped. Thank you for telling me this, Valdr.
- Rigmor: The bounty on my head, dead or alive, is fifteen thousand gold coins! People tell me they have never seen such a high bounty.
- Wulf: That type of money has attracted some of the best bounty hunters. It seems excessive for what Rigmor tells me she has done.
Baa’Ren-Dar looked at Rigmor, and his voice was grim.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: My child, they have sent none other than their best Thalmor General to Skyrim to track you down! That is why I came here in person to warn you.
- Wulf: Would it be Tilar Aedriath? His name is all over the New Order documents that I have read.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, Valdr, it is Tilar Aedriath. The one has an elite force of a hundred troops at his disposal, setting up camps and checkpoints as we speak. So, you will need to avoid them and travel diligently.
I was momentarily stunned as a memory surfaced. Baa’Ren-Dar’s pronunciation of Aedriath matched what he said when I witnessed Rigmor being whipped. At the time, he had told the Justiciar in charge, “This is not needed and undignified, General Aedriath!” The name did not register with Rigmor when I have read documents to her or just then. Perhaps she never knew his name? The name did not register with me till now.
I would worry about the identity of Rigmor’s nemesis later. Presently, I had to pay attention to what was being said.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Rigmor, Aedriath will pursue you with extreme prejudice, and when they find out what has happened at Fort Black, he will stop at nothing to find you.
- Wulf: Fort Black was several days ago. He would be aware by now.
- Rigmor: But why, Baa’Ren-Dar? Okay, I took revenge on those that harmed my family, but why send these men? Why is there such a large reward? Why give me such special attention?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: They fear you, Rigmor. They fear you because of who your father was.
- Rigmor: My father is dead! They got their revenge and would do well to leave me be if they know what’s good for them!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: My dear, sweet child! Have you not seen past the venire of subterfuge? Do you think the Thalmor would extradite your father and execute him for revenge? To know you’re enemy, you must first walk in their shoes.
Rigmor was confused, and she had every right to be. Baar’Ren-Dar was assuming Rigmor had knowledge she didn’t possess. Baa’Ren-Dar is knee-deep in the bullshit, the political games and machinations of governments, and Rigmor is not.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Has your hatred of the Thalmor blinded you from the truth?
- Rigmor: I… I don’t understand! What…?”
- Wulf: Baa’Ren-Dar! Dat vaba baso vakovo kestu iko jer raba baqu thzina. It is easy to appear wise after you have found the truth. Rigmor is not blinded from the truth, for it is yet to be shown to her!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Valdr is correct, and this one apologises for his manners.
- Rigmor: Please, Baa’Ren-Dar, explain why they have done this to my family, my father.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Your father’s crest on the battlefield was worth five thousand men. Just the mention of the ‘Sons of Talos’ on the field would ensure disarray and even cause whole battalions to rout.
- Wulf: I have told Rigmor how her father is highly regarded amongst those who study The Art of War.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: It was not revenge, Rigmor. They needed your father out of the picture for good, or this whole plot would be for nought.
- Wulf: It would not just be the New Order who would have desired this. A second Great War is almost inevitable. The Thalmor would want Ragnar removed, for he would be a rallying point, much like Tiber Septim and other Nord heroes. Now they are wary of his daughter.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Rigmor, after Bruma, they now fear you and what you might become.
- Rigmor: Fear me? Why would they do that? I’m just a young girl!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: A young girl who single-handed slew an entire company of Thalmor soldiers.
- Wulf: A ENTIRE COMPANY! And that was before she found her father’s sword!
- Rigmor: I didn’t want you to think badly of me, Valdr, so I played down the numbers.
- Wulf: But now you know I kill many. I am surprised, Rigmor, not appalled.
- Rigmor: Yes, we are killers when needed, you and I.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: You are both far more than killers!
- Wulf: Sorry, Emissary, please, continue.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Such a feat is not to be ignored. Especially when the young girl in question was raised, taught and trained by her father, the ‘Beast of Hammerfell’.
- Wulf: Is Rigmor the third target on that list?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, Rigmor is one of the ‘top-level’ targets.
- Wulf: We assumed the other two were General Tullius and Jarl Elisif if the New Order wished to frame the Stormcloaks. To think Rigmor is given the same strategic value, the same target on her back, as those two is difficult to accept calmly.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: That is why this one is pleased Rigmor has The Dragonborn to help keep her from harm.
Rigmor looked at me then said, “Yeah, I know, right!”
I quickly diverted my eyes from what I saw in Rigmor’s.
Rigmor is putting great faith in me, and I can see love starting to blossom. However, I am but one man. My Dragon Blood and Dragon Soul will not stop an arrow piercing my heart, and if I were cornered by half a dozen Sword-Masters, I would perish. Alduin or another dragon might render me in half. Rigmor needs more than this Dragonborn to keep her safe!
When I did look up at Rigmor again, her face was pale.
I said, “Rigmor, all of this must be an unpleasant revelation.”
“I…I’m sorry, but I need to be by myself for a while. I need some time to take all this in.”
“We understand, Rigmor.”
Rigmor walked over to the bar, sat on a stool and ordered a mead. The first mead was quickly followed by a second. She seemed content to sip it while she thought.
My urge to go and comfort her was interrupted by Baa’Ren-Dar, who said, “Let her be, for now, Dragonborn. She will be fine.”
“Please, Baa’Ren-Dar, Dragonborn is what I am, but Wulf is my name.”
“Khajiit suspects that secrecy of your identity is needed?”
“Yes. My name is Wulf. My identity will be revealed soon, but the fewer potential enemies know I exist, the safer I and those around me, including Rigmor, will be. Valdr is also one of my names, but not the one I commonly use.”
“This one understands.”
“Rigmor has been hiding her demons from me, Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“To tell is to relive the horror. Rigmor will tell you then you may wish to have remained ignorant.”
I was trying to concentrate on Baa’Ren-Dar, but my eyes kept wandering over to Rigmor.
Baa’Ren-Dar received my full attention when he said, “It gladdens my heart to know the premonition was right.”
“A premonition? Let me guess, a seer of Azura?”
“This one has travelled these provinces for many years. As a provincial emissary, my duty is to ensure every angle is covered. This one was approached during an annual ball by the prominent soothsayer, Kaza’Zhid from Corinthe. That one would have kittens if referred to as a seer!”
“Fancy names do not change how foresight works. But I digress, what was this premonition?”
“That one told Khajiit that his Nordling child was destined for greatness. That Rigmor would meet a ‘guardian’ sent by the gods. That one said, ‘A Dragonborn shall hail from Helgen on the day of the dragons.’”
“Well, that is fairly accurate and confirms Lady Azura knew of where and when I would be the day I was asked to help Rigmor. As given by The Nine, my title is Champion of The Divines. They have sent me initially to deal with the dragons. My responsibility is the protection of all mortals, and as long as I survive, The Nine will direct me to problems that need resolution.”
“Yet that one has taken time from the dragons to aid Rigmor?”
“Tilar Aedriath is the one who orchestrated Rigmor’s whipping the night you rescued her. You said to him, ‘This is not needed and undignified, General Aedriath!’”
The old Khajiit’s eyes widened.
I continued, “When it seemed Rigmor was not going to beg for mercy and allow the brute with the horse crop to kill her, she cried out, ‘No more! Please! No more!’”
Baa’Ren-Dar was about to say something, but I continued with the revelation I had yet to share with Rigmor.
“When you were carrying Rigmor, you said, ‘The nightmare is over, Rigmor. This one shall take you to his home, and you will be safe. Nobody will ever hurt you again.’”
Baa’Ren-Dar asked, “How does that one know these things? Did a seer tell you?”
“No, I was there in spirit form. I had travelled ethereally in response to the distress of a young girl whose name I did not even know. I promised that young girl I would be her Guardian when I could. I am keeping that promise, for it was an oath, even if Rigmor doesn’t know I made it and when.”
“Did the young Rigmor know your spirit was there?”
“Yes, but she could not see me or hear me. I communicated telepathically. But that connection to Rigmor told me much, and I must be careful, for my duty is to be her Guardian.”
“That one has a bond with Rigmor and is scared that love may result.”
“What I just told you sounds like gods forced us upon each other. However, that is not the case. There is much about me that Rigmor is yet to discover and needs to do so slowly. She needs to understand who I am, and then she may accept what I am. I fear that simply revealing some things would make her wary of me. You said, ‘To tell is to relive the horror.’ Perhaps as she recounts the horror, she will realise she was not alone.”
“And The Nine, perhaps Lady Mara, have not helped that one with this problem?”
“No, Baa’Ren-Dar. They watch but have no answers. That is often their way. However, even Azura is not omnipotent, even if she pretends to be.”
“Yes, but do not tell her that!”
“Haha, Lady Azura can show her teeth on occasions.”
“It is a wise path that one has chosen with Rigmor. This one wishes for a good outcome.”
“So do I, Baa’Ren-Dar, for the last thing I want is for Rigmor to be hurt in any way.”
“I have ears and eyes in Skyrim and knew of the dragons returning and who leads them. Seers have also warned those that travel the Moonpaths of Tamriel. Khajiit knows of The World-Eater’s return, but apparently, the people of Skyrim do not.”
“No doubt Ri’saad and his caravans are some of your eyes and ears. Azura would let her people know, for she loves you and fears Alduin’s purpose. Panic may ensue if Skyrim’s people knew of Alduin before they knew I was here to deal with him.”
“Indeed, and Ri’saad told of your fondness for Khajiiti.”
“I have found them to be the most honest and honourable of people.”
“Please take care of Rigmor, Dragonborn. These are dark days, and you will need to keep one step ahead. Aedriath is a very dangerous foe, a master of deception. Do not underestimate him.”
“I will do my best, Baa’Ren-Dar. The Divines did not send me to Skyrim without some skills. However, I am yet to realise the full potential of my Dragonborn powers. Still, Rigmor and I have proven to be both formidable and very robust. We work together extremely well and are our sum is greater than its parts. Plus, I have exceptionally talented allies to assist. Some who guard Angi as we speak.”
“And they are performing that duty rather than guard The Dragonborn, who everybody on Nirn will need if we are to survive The World-Eater.”
“That was my choice, Baa’Ren-Dar. When more of my allies become available, I will travel with them. But Rose was taken, and I can not allow that to happen to Angi! We also rescued an orphan girl from Fort Black. She is eight years old, and Aedriath has ordered her execution. So my friends guard her as well.”
“This one understands. Your duty as Champion of The Divines is equal to that of Dragonborn.”
“Yes, I am to protect all mortals.”
“A difficult task.”
“May I ask a favour, Baa’Ren-Dar?”
“This one is curious as to what this favour may entail!”
“I never let Rigmor out of my sight, but I need to do something out of hers.”
“This one advises red or none at all.”
“Rigmor has mentioned the dresses from Morrowind?”
“Many times, and always with hints of Riften Market. Rigmor thinks this one would know what to buy a young Nordling. That is not an area of Khajiit’s expertise.”
“I will be as quick as I can.”
“If Rigmor asks, I will inform her you had an urgent call of nature.”
“I doubt she will notice. She has that stare into infinity thing going.”
“Yes, a habit since she was a cub.”
I rushed outside and tried several Dunmer traders before finding one who not only stocked the dresses but had red ones in various sizes.
The stallholder laughed as I mentally measured Rigmor and used my hands to gauge the correct size garment. I finally decided on the dress I thought would fit.
I rushed through the south gate and carefully placed the dress in one of Hashire’s bags. Ren was staring in the opposite direction.
“Do not worry. Ren is safe with me.”
“I know, Hashire.”
I rushed back to Baa’Ren-Dar.
Rigmor seemed to be stuck on her second pint and was still staring at nothing in particular.
I sat down again and said, “Mission accomplished.”
“Good. It will make Rigmor smile.”
“I hope so.”
“Khajiit advises you try and get well rested before travelling to Windhelm.”
“We will do what we can, Baa’Ren-Dar, but bounty hunters and The Thalmor will have snitches hoping to earn a few coins. A moving target is harder to hit. When we reach Windhelm, where do we find the Dunmer and what is his name?”
“His name is Tendril Sethri. Try the New Gnisis Cornerclub in the Gray Quarter.”
“I have a feeling I will not like Windhelm much.”
“This one knows neither of you will.”
“Good luck on your travels, Baa’Ren-Dar. Be assured that I would give my life for Rigmor and will do my best to keep her safe.”
“Of that, Khajiit has no doubt, but he fears his child may do the same for you. Azura’s blessings on you and Rigmor.”
“Blessing of The Divines to you.”
I watched the formidable Khajiit exit. He would make a better ruler than most of those that currently sit upon the thrones.
Three Argonian moved from the shadows and stood, staring at Rigmor.
I walked up to Rigmor and whispered, “Three Argonian bounty hunters are behind you.”
Rigmor nodded her head.
I turned, and the lead bounty hunter said, “Step away from the girl, friend!”
“Are we friends? Oh, I remember. Aren’t you called Shit-For-Brains?”
“We only want the head. You can keep the rest.”
“And who do you think the woman, not girl, is?”
“We think she is Rigmor, but if we are wrong, we will apologise to her corpse.”
“Every person in this tavern will defend a young woman from The Thalmor and scum such as yourself. Look around, be wise, leave and live.”
I noticed a little Argonian girl was watching, but I could not spare her sensibilities.
I smashed Shit-For-Brains’ face with my shield. My sword entered his brain via his open mouth, and as his body fell into a heap, I ran towards one of his cronies.
Every person in the Bee and Barb intended to kill the bounty hunters. Talen-Jei, the barkeep, had already cut the crony badly. I finished the job by cutting the crony’s head off.
The other crony had his throat ripped out by a Wolf Familiar summoned by a young mage.
The three bounty hunters were dead within seconds of Shit-For-Brains attacking.
I walked over to the Argonian mage.
“I thank you for your assistance. My name is Valdr. The young woman is Lady Ramsbottom.”
“I am Nubaree. I have stopped in Riften on my way to Winterhold, where I hope to enrol in The Mages College.”
“I am a Master Mage in all Schools of Magicka. I have no doubt they will find you a place within their institution as I can tell your abilities are well above average.”
“That is kind of you to say.”
“Please excuse me. I need to deal with the aftermath of this unpleasantness.”
I walked over and searched Shit-For-Brains. As expected, he had one of the bounty posters.
The cronies had nothing of use on them except for coins.
I walked over to Kareeva, the owner of the Bee and Barb and Talen-Jei’s love interest.
“I am sorry for that unpleasant incident.”
“Why should you be sorry. It is those idiots who dared attack somebody in my establishment!”
“Still, here are the septims the idiots carried. Perhaps they should pay you compensation?”
Kareeva gave a toothy grin and happily accepted the money.
I approached Rigmor, who said, “Let me guess. They had a wanted poster?”
“Yes, and they were willing to kill you just in case you were Rigmor of Bruma.”
“Did you see how everybody was instantly ready to defend us?”
“Yes. I expected it from Talan-Jei as I helped him with his love life.”
“Ahh, please explain?”
“He is smitten with the owner, Kareeva. Argonian tradition says their wedding band needs three flawless amethysts. I just happened to have some and gave them to him.”
“You are a big softy. But why were you in Riften? You didn’t say earlier.”
“I paid one of the local thieves for information about a stolen artefact. I then snuck into the thief’s house and stole it back. I did replace it with some prime Skeever crap I had scooped up earlier. The owner of the artefact donated it to the museum.”
“Wow, Dragonborn and part-time burglar and crap collector!”
“We will be staying here tonight.”
“We are not going to ride through unfamiliar territory in the dark. We shall hire a room, and I will insist on a key to lock it. You will jam a chair against the locked door. I shall be on the other side, watching with Heat-Vision. Nobody can come up the stairs without me knowing.”
“Will Our Quiet work from that distance?”
“Drag the bed closer to the door. Then Our Quiet will work.”
“What about the horses?”
“Ben could not ask for a better bodyguard than Hashire.”
“Okay, it is the sensible thing to do.”
“Are you okay after what Baa’Ren-Dar told us?”
“Yeah, I think I’m good. I will have to think it over and then talk to you tomorrow.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar is an incredible person, and I am glad I met him. He is certainly in the know!”
“Yeah, he knows a lot of important people. He has a huge estate in Torval, yanno, Elsweyr. Dignitaries like him because of his mystic friend.”
“They would like Baa’Ren-Dar because he is honest, not because he gets advice from seers.”
“So, do you know who we to speak to in Windhelm?”
“Yes, Tendril Sethri. We shall find him at the tavern in the Grey Quarter.”
“Okay, you had better organise the room.”
I approached Kareeva once more.
“We would like to book a room.”
“And I suppose you want a key to lock the door to said room?”
“If possible, yes.”
“Yes, it is possible. And do not tell anybody I have done this for free. I have a reputation as a grumpy bitch that I wish to maintain. But any enemy of The Thalmor is a friend of mine. Plus, you were generous helping Talen-Jei as you did.”
“I have no idea of which you speak!”
“Now, all he has to do is propose. I know he has already got approval from the Priest of Mara to conduct the ceremony.”
“I still know nothing of which you speak.”
“Come on then. I have customers with coins who need attending to!”
Rigmor and I followed Kareeva, who stopped to look at the beheaded crony.
She complained, “Did you have to cut his head off? Look at all that arterial spray! Do you know how hard Argonian blood is to remove from wood? I don’t know why I let them inside my tavern.”
“Umm, you are Argonian.”
“Am I? Well, it has been some time since I looked in a mirror.”
Talen-Jei was sweeping near the other dead crony.
Kareeva berated, “Brooms do not clear away dead Argonian. Get some of the layabouts in here to help you toss them into the canal. I am sure the Slaughterfish will appreciate them. But take the armour off Shit-For-Brains. I am sure the Khajiit will buy it after the blood is washed off, which is also your job.”
Talen-Jei meekly replied, “Yes, Kareeva.”
We followed Kareeva into the rented room.
“Here it is, a single bed not made for boot knocking, and it rattles, so I will know if you try! Here is the key, good night to you both.”
Kareeva left, then I realised we had not eaten since breakfast.
“Are you hungry, Rigmor?”
“No, all of this has destroyed my appetite.”
“Okay, but we must eat a decent breakfast. It is another long ride tomorrow.”
“So, if I drag the bed over and place it against the door, Our Quiet will work?”
“And my Guardian will be just outside?”
“Your Guardian will allow his Dovah to assist, and he is so angry, there is no way I will fall asleep or for my attention to wander.”
“Is it like being two people?”
“In some ways. Dragon thought processes are different, but I have decided to regard them as separate entities. In reality, there is only one personality.”
“That sounds too complicated for a tired noble lady.”
“Get some sleep, Rigmor. Here is the key. Lock the door!”
“Okay, Wulf. And remember, you are more than a killer. Please, do not think of yourself that way!”
I smiled as I exited the room. I heard the lock engage. Then Rigmor proceeded to drag the bed over.
From below, Kareeva yelled, “NO BOOT KNOCKING!”
Rigmor laughed and stole one more piece of my heart.
I did as I said and used my Dovah half to help maintain vigilance. My anger at the injustices heaped on Rigmor meant my eyes were that of a dragon. I no longer cared who saw. I am The Dragonborn, and soon that name will instil fear in those who prey on the innocent.