ALDUIN’S SACRIFICE

Middas, 27th Last Seed, 4E 201

Breaking your fast with stew is not common except for those living away from civilisation. Stew is easy to make, can be added to endlessly, and is suitable, despite ignorant suggestions, for all meals.

The ladies enjoyed my effort, which entailed throwing in the vegetables and salted meats that Rose had ferreted away. I added some pepper and a tiny bit more salt. Salt and pepper are basic condiments everybody carries. Well, everybody who wants to make tavern food edible.

After they came back from their morning nose-powdering, and I am positive women can’t do it without another present, we were ready to leave.

Rigmor asked, “Are you sure summoning is safe?”

“Yes, Rigmor, and we are starting with a short one, so you know what to expect with longer summoning.”

“Pitch black, really cold, then your pretty face.”

“Pretty?”

“Males can be pretty.”

“Okay, if you think I am pretty, then that is what I am.”

“Good, you are learning that I am always right.”

As we walked, we experienced alternating banks of fog and bright sunshine.

I stopped and explained, “I was going to Blink further up the river, but can you see what is over there, below the standing stones?”

Rigmor squinted then asked, “Is that a chest?”

“Yes, and if I don’t investigate it, I will be wondering about it all day.”

I Blinked.

Then I summoned Rigmor.

“Wow, that was so cool!”

“I told you the ethereal plane is freezing.”

“Cool as in, well, cool.”

“I know, Rigmor. It was a joke.”

“Celestine, was that a joke?”

Celestine replied, “A terrible one, Rigmor.”

There was nothing worthwhile in the chest. But at least I won’t be wondering about it.

It was an enjoyable walk to Riverwood made better by Rigmor holding my hand.

Stump the dog, his owner Frodnar, and Dorthe walked towards us.

  • Dorthe: Wait, so… a costume? You’re not serious…
  • Frodnar: Sure I am. We get some furs and tree branches, paint them white, and tie them to Stump. Instant Frostbite Spider!
  • Dorthe: Frodnar… nobody is going to believe that your dog is a… Frostbite Spider. And if they do… they’ll kill him. That’s not much of a prank.
  • Frodnar: Oh yeah, and what would you rather do?
  • Dorthe: How about… we play tag! You’re it!
  • Frodnar: Hey, no fair! Get her, Stump!
  • Dorthe: Hang on, Frodnar. I want to speak to Valdr.
  • Frodnar: Okay, but you’re it when you have finished.
  • Dorthe: My father says that Rose is safe. Did you and Rigmor save her?
  • Rigmor: How do you know my name?
  • Dorthe: Your picture was all over the place, even if your hair is different.
  • Wulf: We tried to rescue Rose, but she had already escaped.
  • Dorthe: Why do those Thalmor people want to hurt you and Rigmor?
  • Wulf: Well, one reason is that we believe in Talos and The Thalmor and say that is a bad thing. People should be able to believe in whatever gods they want.
  • Dorthe: Well, I had better keep playing before Frodnar gets grumpy. If you see my brother, tell him I miss him already. He had better come home from the war, or I will be mad and then very sad. Bye Valdr, Rigmor and the other pretty lady whose name I don’t know.

As the children continued their game, I smiled at memories.

  • Rigmor: Children are precious, aren’t they?
  • Wulf: The most precious thing I know. Did you have a special friend, Rigmor?
  • Rigmor: Yeah, a half Bosmer, half Dunmer girl called LoonaShadow or Loona for short. We played with lots of children and spent a lot of time together, just her and me.
  • Celestine: Wulf, do those children remind you of Anna?
  • Wulf: Very much. She has probably married and had half a dozen children by now.
  • Celestine: She is the same age as you!
  • Wulf: Okay, then, maybe three or four children.
  • Rigmor: Anna was your closest childhood friend?
  • Wulf: Yes. I only know the dog and boy’s names because Dorthe often yells at them. Anna, Meeko and me would make up games like those three.
  • Rigmor: Did you have to say goodbye to Anna?
  • Wulf: Yes, to her and her family. And everybody else on the island. I said goodbye to dozens of people over a few days. It was hard, but I had that chance, unlike the woman I love. Plus, I knew where I was going and why.
  • Rigmor: I got to say goodbye to Loona, and that was hard enough. I had a quick look on my way to the embassy, and many familiar faces were still there. I often wonder what our friends in Bruma thought about my family being disgraced and taken away. At least Loona did not have to witness that.
  • Wulf: Nobody who knew your father would believe the lies. Even those that didn’t know him personally, like Jarl Balgruuf, know the truth.
  • Rigmor: Yeah, that was cool!
  • Celestine: I wonder if those two will become sweethearts?
  • Wulf: I suppose that happens. Childhood friends to married couple.
  • Rigmor: Would you and Anna have ended up married?
  • Wulf: No, Rigmor, because my heart already belonged to somebody. I will have to tell you about her one day.
  • Rigmor: Bastard!
  • Celestine: Ooh, I wonder if Wulf realises the danger he is in?
  • Wulf: Yep, and here we are at Riverwood Trader. Rigmor would not kill me in there and make a mess for the Valeriuses, or would it be Valarii? Anyway, Rigmor would not kill me in there and make a mess for Lucan and Camilla to clean.
  • Rigmor: I’ll just spend my time in there plotting. You can’t hide forever!
  • Wulf: How about a Sweetroll as a peace offering.
  • Rigmor: Accepted.
  • Celestine: One-week abstinence, remember?
  • Rigmor: Wulf, you are a bastard’s bastard!

I grabbed Rigmor and gave her what I thought was a very good smooch on the lips. Her smile told me it was okay.

I heard giggling and looked for its source. Dorthe was pointing our way and whispering to Frodnar, so I opened the door to the store and dragged the still stunned Rigmor inside.

I walked over to Lucan. His sister was nowhere to be seen.

  • Lucan: Ahh, it’s my favourite goon dicer and Thalmor slaughterer. Can I help you with something?
  • Wulf: Were you burgled recently?
  • Lucan: Uh yeah, we did have a bit of a… break-in. But we still have plenty to sell. The robbers were only after one thing.
  • Rigmor: So is Valdr.
  • Wulf: Hey, that is not true!
  • Celestine: Storekeeper Lucan, I am Celestine. Can you please tell me what was stolen?
  • Lucan: Yes, it was an ornament, solid gold, in the shape of a dragon’s claw.
  • Rigmor: Show him, you lecher.

I handed Lucan the golden claw, and he placed it on the counter.

  • Lucan: You found it? Hahaha. There it is. Strange, it seems smaller than I remember. Funny thing, huh?
  • Wulf: It will only be stolen again, Lucan.
  • Lucan: Camilla said I had to sell it if I ever got it back. Of course, I agreed, not thinking I would ever see it again. But now, I don’t know if I could.
  • Wulf: How about one thousand septim, first and final offer, here and now. I want to put it on display in my museum.
  • Lucan: One thousand? We could do a lot with that much coin.
  • Wulf: It is a fair price, Lucan.
  • Lucan: Deal!

I sorted out three good diamonds from my bag. They would fetch at least fifteen hundred. Lucan knew they were worth more than a thousand. He looked at the diamonds then said, “Mmm, I don’t know, these look like nine hundred septims worth in total.”

I held out my hand and said, “Oh well, that is a pity. Can I have the diamonds back, please?”

“No, no, they are acceptable. The claw is all yours.”

I took the claw and made my way outside

We gathered our horses and rode out of Riverwood. We were some distance away when Celestine pulled up beside me.

  • Celestine: Wulf, this is the way to Falkreath, not Whiterun.
  • Wulf: Oh, what a stupid mistake.
  • Rigmor: If you thought more with your head than your privates, you would have realised!
  • Wulf: It was just a nice, chaste kiss!
  • Rigmor: Yeah, right. Pffft!
  • Melena: Neigh?
  • Hashire: Neigh!
  • Wulf: Helena and Hashire, you should be ashamed. I am not like that, and Rigmor is not in heat!
  • Rigmor: What? What did your disgusting horse say? I suppose it’s not his fault, having to carry a pervert everywhere.
  • Wulf: Rigmor, I am sorry. I thought you would like it and I love you and I…

Rigmor started laughing loudly, and Celestine joined in. I realised I had been fooled, turned my traitorous horse and rode the other way.

The silence dragged on, and it took most of the ride from Riverwood before Rigmor stopped giggling.

As we approached the gates to Whiterun, a guard said, “Whiterun’s under my protection. You watch yourself, now.”

I Blinked and was in his face.

“We are law-abiding citizens who deserve no suspicion. Therefore, I advise you to keep your mouth civil. If you don’t, you will have to wait for your next bowel movement to see your teeth again. Do you understand?”

“Oh…it was just normal guard banter. No offence meant.”

“Do you understand?”

“Yes, of course. Enjoy your stay in Whiterun!”

As we walked through Whiterun, I was aware of Rigmor and Celestine talking to each other in hushed tones.

I think Lady Mara and I will have to discuss the peculiarities of females because I am confused. I was in a foul mood. I did something spontaneous that is now a joke rather than a special memory.

We were going to enter Farengar’s room but saw he was conversing with Delphine, the owner of Riverwood’s Sleeping Giant Inn.

I whispered to Rigmor and Celestine, “She owns the tavern in Riverwood.”

Since we had not been noticed, we stopped to eavesdrop.

  • Farengar: Do you see? The terminology is clearly First Era or even earlier. I’m convinced this is a copy of a much older text. Perhaps it dates to just after the Dragon War. If so, I could use this to cross-reference the names with other later documents.
  • Delphine: Good. I’m glad you’re making progress. My employers are anxious to have some tangible answers.
  • Farengar: Oh, have no fear. The Jarl himself has finally taken an interest, so I’m now able to devote most of my time to this research.
  • Delphine: Time is running, Farengar, don’t forget. This research is no longer a theoretical question. Dragons have come back.
  • Farengar: Yes, yes. Don’t worry. Although the chance to see a living dragon up close would be tremendously valuable…
  • Delphine: You have a visitor.
  • Farengar: Now, let me show you something else I found… very intriguing… I think your employers may be interested as well…

Delphine kicked Farengar then nodded our way. We strolled up to the pair as if we hadn’t been snooping.

Celestine said, “If you don’t mind, I will make myself a potion to ease my stomach. The smell of bullshit upsets it every time!”

  • Farengar: Hmm? Ah, yes, the Jarl’s proteges! Back from Bleak Falls Barrow. You didn’t die, so it seems.
  • Rigmor: Oh, we are dead Farengar. Lots of makeup and a wig does wonders.
  • Wulf: I suddenly have a craving for brains.
  • Celestine: Don’t bother with the mage. I doubt there is even a mouthful there.

I handed Farengar the Dragonstone. Celestine returned to our side of the table.

  • Farengar: Ah! The Dragonstone of Bleak Falls Barrow! It seems you are a cut above the usual brutes the Jarl send my way.
  • Rigmor: I don’t think the idiot told Delphine who you are.
  • Wulf: That’s good because I don’t trust her.
  • Farengar: Our business is done. See the Jarl for your reward.
  • Wulf: Delphine, the book is a third era continuation of the original ‘Atlas of Dragons’ brought to Tamriel by the Akaviri during their first invasion. The Blades maintained it after conversion from Tsaesci to Cyrodiilic and Tamrielic. The copy in Farengar’s possession is from Sky Haven Temple and not Cloud Ruler Temple, as the latest entries concern sightings in Skyrim.
  • Delphine: Who are you?
  • Rigmor: Did Farengar forget to mention my companions, experts on dragons?
  • Wulf: Look on the back of the Dragonstone. In Dovahzul it says, ‘Het nok un mahlaan drogge erei suleyk se Alduin vokrii.’
  • Celestine: Which translates to, ‘Here lie our fallen lords until the power of Alduin restores.’
  • Wulf: You will find that all Dov who have burial mounds are listed in the book. It is a good idea to compare the Dragonstone to Atlas of Dragons to determine a possible restoration sequence.
  • Rigmor: But any good quality map of Skyrim shows the burial mounds and the names of the Dovah buried within, so the Dragonstone isn’t needed.
  • Wulf: Plus, the dragon Rigmor and I killed the other day is not in Atlas of Dragons. Nor is the Dovah we saw near the recently emptied Thalmor keep on the border.
  • Celestine: Should we tell them the dragon we saw in Helgen was Alduin? Oops, I just did. Silly me!
  • Wulf: No, that would be as unforgivable as telling them the first dragon to be restored will be Odahviing and that his burial mound is near Riften.
  • Celestine: Which, if you knew anything about the Dragon War, you would have known.
  • Delphine: Who are you, and how do you know all of this?
  • Rigmor: Tell us who your employers are, and we will tell you who we are.
  • Wulf: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
  • Rigmor: Eww!
  • Wulf: I do not trust you, Delphine! You could be a Dragon Cult member or an underling of a Daedric Prince. Or maybe you are just an innkeeper way over her head?

Delphine was about to reply when interrupted by Irileth running towards us. I was surprised to see the Housecarl looking disturbed. I thought she was made of ice.

Irileth said, “Farengar, you need to come at once. A dragon’s been sighted nearby.”

Farengar gushed, “A dragon! How exciting! Where was it seen? What was it doing?”

Irileth replied, “It was seen attacking the Western Watchtower. Farengar, I’d take this a bit more seriously if I were you. If a dragon decides to attack Whiterun, I don’t know if we can stop it.”

I Blinked and was next to Delphine.

“Delphine, if you want to aid us to combat Alduin, then tell your employers that The Dragonborn will accept their assistance. However, also tell them if they get in my way and risk my Divine task, I will remove them and not gently.”

Delphine ran around me and hurried towards the exit. I called after her, “I am sure your inn can last a few hours without you. Why don’t you come and look at the pretty dragon? Laugh as it slaughters hundreds. That is very exciting, according to Farengar!”

Irileth said, “You three better come as well.”

We followed Irileth and Farengar to and up a flight of stairs. I talked to Rigmor and Celestine as we went.

  • Wulf: Flies to sugar. Don’t you think it odd that a Dovah turns up soon after we return to Whiterun?
  • Celestine: Why attack an inconsequential watchtower, thereby warning the city?
  • Rigmor: Wulf, do you think this is to lure you out?
  • Wulf: Yes. I suspect the attack is already finished, but the dragon will be nearby.
  • Rigmor: Is it Alduin?
  • Wulf: Alduin or Odahviing, either one would kill me and destroy Whiterun. There is no need for the three of us to die. If one or the other, you and Celestine are to run.
  • Rigmor: No way!
  • Celestine: Rigmor, we could do nothing to help Wulf, but he could fight long enough for us to escape, just as his Swordmasters have done for The Blades. It would be his duty, do you understand?
  • Rigmor: Wulf, I enjoyed the kiss, and I know why you haven’t kissed me when we are alone, but I want that chance so none of this stupid sacrifice shit! You have to live to fight another day when you might be able to face them and win!
  • Wulf: We will decide when we see who we face. However, if I say run, you run! That is not negotiable, Rigmor.

When we reached the top floor, Jarl Balgruuf began to address a Whiterun Guard.

  • Balgruuf: So, Irileth tells me you came from the Western Watchtower?
  • Irileth: Tell him what you told me. About the dragon.
  • Guard: Uh… that’s right. We saw it coming from the south. It was fast… faster than anything I’ve ever seen.
  • Balgruuf: What did it do? Is it attacking the watchtower?
  • Guard: No, my Lord. It was just circling overhead when I left. I thought it would come after me for sure. I never ran so fast in my life…
  • Balgruuf: Good work, son. We’ll take it from here. Head down to the barracks for some food and rest. You’ve earned it.

The guard headed off, and I hoped he could eat quickly. Every able-bodied person could soon be needed to fight for Whiterun.

Jarl Balgruuf and Irileth turned to me.

  • Balgruuf: Irileth, you’d better gather some guards and head down there.
  • Irileth: I’ve already ordered some of my guards to gather near the main gate.
  • Balgruuf: Good. Don’t fail me.
  • Irileth: As always, we will do our best, my Jarl.
  • Balgruuf: Wulf, Rigmor and Celestine, there is no time to stand on ceremony, my friends. I need your help again.
  • Wulf: If you want us to assist Irileth, the answer is no. She and the guards must assist us and do as I say or die.
  • Irileth: I beg your pardon?
  • Wulf: You have never fought a dragon nor know the tactics needed to do so. None of your guards has protection against Dragonfire or the effects of The Voice. And if the dragon is Alduin or Odahviing, your best tactic is to run and get the people of Whiterun to safety. Nothing will stop either of those two.
  • Celestine: You would be foolish not to listen to The Dragonborn!
  • Balgruuf: What do you suggest?
  • Wulf: I believe this dragon attacked the watchtower to lure me out.
  • Balgruuf: I wondered why it would attack a tower that would not help defend the city? It makes no sense tactically and gives us time to prepare.
  • Rigmor: The dragon attacked within minutes of The Dragonborn arriving in Whiterun. We don’t think that is a coincidence.
  • Wulf: If the dragon wants to fight me, don’t get in the way. Use arrows and spells where you can, and if it lands, attack from the flanks, never the front. That is my territory, and I can survive his maw while others might not. Simple tactics, but they will prevent senseless deaths
  • Irileth: Okay, I can agree to that.
  • Balgruuf: I haven’t forgotten the service you did for me in retrieving the Dragonstone.
  • Wulf: With all due respect, we will receive your pat on the back if we survive this dragon.
  • Balgruuf: Okay then, Irileth, help The Dragonborn and his friends kill this dragon before it can attack Whiterun. There is no time to lose.
  • Farengar: I should come along. I would very much like to see this dragon.
  • Balgruuf: No. I can’t afford to risk both of you. I need you here to work on ways to defend against these dragons.
  • Farengar: As you command.
  • Balgruuf: One last thing, Irileth. This isn’t a death or glory mission. I need to know what we are dealing with. If The Dragonborn says retreat, do so!
  • Irileth: Don’t worry, my Lord. I’m the very soul of caution.

We made our way downstairs and were heading for the exit when Rigmor said, “Hold up, Wulf, please.”

I turned to her.

“Yes, Rigmor?”

“I am sorry I made you upset about the kiss. It was sweet and unexpected, and I don’t want you to think I was mocking you. Both of us use humour when confused and don’t deny it.”

“We are talking about this as a dragon is waiting for us?”

“And he can wait because if you die and I don’t tell you these things, I will never forgive myself. I love you, Wulf Welkynd!”

“Wulf Septim. I am a Septim and of royal blood. There, another secret revealed, and I have no intention of dying, Rigmor, for I love you and intend to keep surprising you as we muddle our way through our relationship. So, let’s go kick the dragon in the goolies!”

“They don’t have dangly bits! Oh, that was to divert from the Septim thing, wasn’t it?”

“Dragons do have wedding tackle but hidden. I will show you where to kick!”

“Argh! You are so frustrating! Let’s go then.”

Celestine was smiling as she waited for us to keep moving. I wonder if Rigmor and I resemble a plot in one of her romance stories?

If the population of Whiterun knew about the dragon, they were the most disciplined people I know. But I guessed they didn’t, and life continued as usual.

Irileth walked casually towards her guards then addressed them.

  • Irileth: Here’s the situation. A dragon is attacking the Western Watchtower.
  • Guard One: A dragon?
  • Irileth: You heard right! I said a dragon!
  • Guard Two: Now we are in for it!
  • Irileth: I don’t care where it came from or who sent it. What I do know is that it’s made the mistake of attacking Whiterun!
  • Guard One: But Housecarl… how can we fight a dragon?
  • Irileth: That’s a fair question. This dragon is threatening our homes and our families. None of us has ever seen a dragon before or expected to face one in battle. But we are honour bound to fight it, even if we fail.
  • Guard Three: We are so dead.
  • Irileth: The man in red and his companions have fought and killed a dragon. They will be with us. Use your bows, and if the dragon lands, attack its flanks.
  • Guard One: I read about that. A large man in red armour and his pretty accomplice killed one near Windhelm.
  • Guard Two: You can’t read!
  • Guard One: Okay, I asked my mother to read it to me, and I saw the pictures.
  • Guard Two: Did you colour them in?
  • Guard One: Not yet.
  • Irileth: Ahem!
  • Guard One: Sorry.
  • Guard Two: Sorry.
  • Irileth: Could you call yourselves Nords if you run from this monster? Are you going to let me face this thing alone?
  • Guard Three: No, Housecarl!
  • Guard Four: Never!
  • Guard Two: I’m a Breton, but I will come along anyway!
  • Irileth: But it’s more than our honour at stake here. Think of it, the first dragon seen in Skyrim since the last age. Or is it the second one? Maybe it’s the third? Anyway, the glory of killing it is ours if you’re with me!
  • Guard Two: I am with you, Housecarl!
  • Guard One: We all are!
  • Irileth: Now, what do you say? Shall we go kill us a dragon? Let’s move out!

The guards followed Irileth out the gate.

Rigmor said, “I like Irileth. She is so cool and doesn’t muck around!”

“She is an excellent commander. She appealed to their Nord pride and sense of honour, and that removed their fear and uncertainty.”

We jogged at a steady pace towards the muster point.

We could see the damage to the tower. There was no sign of a dragon.

We joined the guards.

Irileth nodded at us before saying, “There are no signs of any dragon right now, but it sure looks like he has been here.”

I scanned the skies and saw no Dovah in the vicinity.

Irileth continued, “I know it looks bad, but we’ve got to find out what happened. And if that dragon is still skulking around somewhere.”

I said, “He is around and waiting for me to approach the tower.”

Irileth ordered, “Guards, spread out and look for survivors. We need to know what we are dealing with.”

Rigmor looked at me as the nervous guards, and stoic Irileth headed for the damaged watchtower.

I told my beloved, “We will need help.”

“Dremora Lords?”

“No, the spirits of Dragon Priests. They may very well summon Dremora Lords, but it is their Destruction spells that will hurt the dragon.”

“Weren’t they puppets of the dragons?”

“Many Dragon Priests were empathetic and kind rulers. It was when Alduin became cruel that some Dragon Priests became cruel. Still, not all of them followed The World Eater.”

I summoned two Dragon Priests, and then we ran towards the watchtower.

Irileth was busy deploying her guards, which allowed Rigmor, Celestine and me to arrive at the tower before her.

A terrified guard came slinking out then crouched behind a low wall. He was trembling as he looked around nervously.

The guard said, “No! Get back! It’s still here somewhere! Hroki and Tor just got grabbed when they tried to make a run for it!”

“Pick up your weapons and fight for the dragon will show no mercy. If you die, enter Sovngarde knowing you fought well and never surrendered.”

Irileth ran up to him and said, “Guardsman! What happened here? Where’s this dragon? Quickly now!”

A Dovah’s roar echoed, and the guard said, “Kynareth save us. Here he comes again….”

Celestine picked up an axe which she gave the guard. I Blinked to the bottom of the tower’s ramp.

The dragon saw me then roared, “DOVAHKIIN, ZU’U LOS MIRMULNIR. NII LOS TIID FAH HI WAH DIR!”

Rigmor yelled, “What did he say?”

I yelled back, “Dragonborn, I am Mirmulnir. It is time for you to die.”

“So, we fight then?”

“Yes. Mirmulnir’s Dragonfire will kill you, so don’t attract his attention. No name-calling!”

Mirmulnir prepared to dive towards me, so I interrupted his plan with Lightning. The lightning bolt would have killed a giant. It hurt Mirmulnir, and that surprised him.

Spells from Dragon Priests, Celestine and, surprisingly, Irileth hit or narrowly missed Mirmulnir as he flew past me.

The Dovah said, “Thuri du hin sil ko Sovngarde!”

Celestine, who had rushed to be close to me, asked, in Tsaesci, “Wulf, can that be true?”

I replied, “We will discuss it later. Others shouldn’t know as it will cause much grief.”

Mirmulnir said Alduin was devouring the souls of the fallen in Sovngarde. Now we know where he was obtaining the Life Force needed to restore the buried dragons, but that knowledge would cause grief amongst the people of Skyrim. That, in turn, would put pressure on me to immediately deal with the dragons. I am yet to decide what should be my priority with The New Order situation still an unknown.

Mirmulnir was about to attack and obliterate a group of brave guards. I should have warned them not to cluster, as that attracts a dragon’s attention. Many Shouts are designed to eliminate multiple enemies at once. I hit the dragon with Lightning once more.

Using the Thu’um to strengthen my voice, I taunted, “KRIF ZU’U! UV LOS THU’UM SAHLO AHRK HI LOS AAN NIKRIIN?”

Celestine laughed, which is not normal for people to do when fighting a dragon.

Taunting is an art. I had said to Mirmulnir, ‘Fight me! Or is your Thu’um weak and you are a coward?’. I had insulted his strength and courage, which is too much for a Dovah’s ego to ignore.

Mirmulnir aborted his attack on the guards and turned and prepared to land on me with impressive aerial dexterity.

Alduin observed from a distance and was using Mirmulnir to gauge my power. We had to convince Alduin we were too strong for him at this moment. I doubt we were, but confidence would be my weapon since I could not use Shouts.

I moved out of the way as Mirmulnir thumped to the ground. Others nearby cursed as the shockwave made them fall. Celestine and the Dragon Priests started to use ice-based Destruction spells as they knew Mirmulnir was immune to fire.

Mirmulnir stared at me then said, “You are brave. Bahlaan hokoron. Your defeat brings me honour.”

“We are worthy enemies, but you are not. You should have remained hidden, for I will kill you, and Alduin will not care you can never be restored.”

Mirmulnir laughed, which is not a pleasant sound from a dragon, then said, “I had forgotten what fine sport you mortals can provide!”

“Tinvaak is over, Mirmulnir, and so is your life.”

I drew my sword and attacked.

Ice Spears from Celestine and Dragon Priests slammed into Mirmulnir. Rigmor and Irileth ran from my left and attacked the dragon’s right flank. The guards found hitting a grounded dragon far easier than one in flight, and arrows regularly hit, with some penetrating the tough hide.

Too late, Mirmulnir realised his error by reacting to my taunt. I cut him many times as he tried to catch me in his maw. The destruction force of his Dragonfire was above average but not strong enough to penetrate my protective dweomer.

Mirmulnir was enraged and concentrated on me. While he attacked me, my allies inflicted damage via sword, arrow, and spell, and that is how I wanted the battle to play out.

After minutes of the constant onslaught, Mirmulnir was a bloodied mess, and I put all my strength into the killing blow.

Mirmulnir reeled from my final attack.

He then raised his head, and with the sun behind it, he roared, “DOVAHKIIN! NOOOOO!”

I called out to Rigmor and Irileth, “Watch his head!”

Rigmor just managed to dodge Mirmulnir’s head as it thumped to the ground.

Irileth stood staring at the dead dragon.

When the soul absorption started, Irileth ran, and so did the guards who had been approaching.

I braced myself and again felt great sadness as Mirmulnir’s Life Force transferred to me.

I silently said, “Father, your son cannot do this thing. Please, there has to be a better way.”

I gained no immediate benefit from Mirmulnir’s soul as I only had one Word of Power stored in my mind. When I learn a new Word of Power, the knowledge gained will come to the fore. I think the number of souls I can store is limitless.

The soul absorption finished, and I looked to Alduin. He flew away and was soon lost from sight.

I turned to the assembled guards and Irileth. All had survived, and none were injured.

  • Guard One: I can’t believe it! You’re… Dragonborn…
  • Wulf: Yes, I am a Dragonborn.
  • Guard One: In the very oldest tales, back from where there were still dragons in Skyrim, the Dragonborn would slay dragons and steal their power.
  • Guard Two: That’s what you did, isn’t it? Have you absorbed the dragon’s power?
  • Wulf: The tales are wrong. I absorbed the dying Dovah’s knowledge, not his power. His soul is now part of me, but it does not make me more powerful.
  • Guard Two: There is only one way to tell if you are truly Dragonborn. Try to Shout.
  • Guard One: According to the old legends, only the Dragonborn can Shout without training, the way the dragons do.
  • Guard Three: That’s right! My grandfather used to tell me stories about the Dragonborn.
  • Guard Two: Your grandfather? You don’t even know who your father is!
  • Guard Three: My grandfather on my mother’s side, so get fucked!
  • Guard One: Don’t you think he has tried? The trouble is, all the women around here can see and smell.
  • Guard Two: Sadly, that is true.
  • Guard One: He is like those born with the Dragon Blood in them. Like old Tiber Septim himself.
  • Wulf: It takes more than just Dragon Blood. All of the Septim Emperors had Dragon Blood. Not all of them could Shout.
  • Guard Four: I’ve never heard of Tiber Septim killing any dragons.
  • Guard Three: There weren’t any dragons then, idiot. They’re just coming back now for the first time in… forever.
  • Wulf: That is wrong. They have never gone away, but many stayed hidden. Tiber Septim never killed dragons because they were not our enemies then. He befriended several, and one of them even joined the Legion. Friendly dragons helped the Khajiit defend their homeland against other dragons. Some of the dragons appearing now are our enemies. Do not assume all of them are.

The guards turned to Irileth.

  • Guard One: What do you say, Irileth? You’re awfully quiet.
  • Guard Three: Come on, Irileth, tell us, do you believe in this Dragonborn business?
  • Irileth: Hmph. Some of you would be better off keeping quiet than flapping your gums on matters you don’t know anything about.
  • Wulf: These brave guards know about what they speak!
  • Irileth: Here’s a dead dragon, and that is something I definitely understand. Now we know we can kill them. But I don’t need some mythical Dragonborn. Someone who can put down a dragon is more than enough for me.
  • Rigmor: You had better study the prophecy told in an Elder Scroll about the Dragonborn. Right now, you need the Dragonborn! All of Nirn needs the Dragonborn!
  • Guard Two: You wouldn’t understand, Housecarl. You aren’t a Nord.
  • Wulf: And I am not a Nord either! Tiber Septim was not a Nord! Not everything on Nirn revolves around Nords!
  • Irileth: I’ve been all across Tamriel. I’ve seen plenty of things just as outlandish as this. I’d advise you all to trust in the strength of your sword arm over tales and legends.
  • Celestine: Irileth, we told you this was the start of a second Dragon War. Study that conflict, which is no myth, and understand what we face.

I stood back and looked to High Hrothgar. Then I summoned the full strength of my Thu’um and Shouted Unrelenting Force towards the Greybeards.

My Dovah rejoiced at the power I wielded. I was surprised at the strength of my Thu’um as my Shout echoed back from the mountains.

I returned to the stunned guards and dismissed the Dragon Priests.

Irileth barked some orders, and the guards dispersed. I approached her with Rigmor and Celestine.

  • Irileth: That was the hairiest fight I’ve ever been in, and I have been in more than a few.
  • Wulf: The guards did well and showed great courage.
  • Irileth: I don’t know about this Dragonborn business, but I’m sure glad you are with us.
  • Rigmor: Everything happened precisely as Wulf said it would. The dragon waited for him before making an appearance. It concentrated its attacks on him and spoke to him. You saw how Wulf fought. He knew what to do because he had spent years training for the return of the dragons. The Divines sent him to fight them. So, Irileth, you had better know about this Dragonborn business because your life or freedom depends on Wulf defeating Alduin!
  • Wulf: Ask Farengar for books about The Dragon War. Don’t rely on his knowledge of dragons. It is limited and without merit.
  • Celestine: Was that Alduin who was watching?
  • Rigmor: What? Was there another dragon?
  • Wulf: Yes, it was Alduin.
  • Rigmor: Oh!
  • Wulf: Irileth, I know you fought beside Jarl Balgruuf during The Great War and would be familiar with siege tactics. Commanders often order men on suicide attacks to observe the enemy’s defences and strengths. Alduin sent Mirmulnir to his death and observed the fight as he wanted to test our strength. Thank The Divines that we impressed him enough that he did not attack.
  • Celestine: Alduin obliterated Helgen, hundreds of Legionnaires and many Battlemages. If he had attacked us, we would be dead. If he attacked Whiterun, it would fare no better than Helgen.
  • Irileth: Okay, I admit I have a lot to learn. These men need some instructions. I will be here a few minutes longer. Therefore, you had better get back to Whiterun immediately. Jarl Balgruuf will want to know what happened here.
  • Wulf: It was a privilege to fight beside you, Irileth.

I looked at the remains of Mirmulnir as we started walking towards Whiterun.

  • Celestine: The strength of your Thu’um was astounding!
  • Wulf: Yes, I am surprised. But I know it will become far more potent as I learn to use it more efficiently. It needs to be more concentrated. Sharpened if you want an analogy.
  • Rigmor: What did Mirmulnir say during the battle?
  • Wulf: We have mentioned that Alduin needs Life Force to restore the buried dragons.
  • Rigmor: Yes, and that you were unsure from where he would get it.
  • Wulf: He gets it from Sovngarde. I don’t know if he intercepts newly arrived souls or has somehow breached the Hall of Valour. The important thing is that people cannot rely on Sovngarde as their afterlife place. Alduin absorbs their souls, and they cease to exist.
  • Rigmor: Wulf, what about my dad? What if he went to Sovngarde?
  • Wulf: I don’t know where your father’s soul went, and there is no possibility The Divines would ever tell me. But Sovngarde holds tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of souls. That means there is a very remote chance of your father falling victim to Alduin before we stop him.
  • Celestine: Rigmor, you now understand the panic this information would cause. We must keep it a secret, even though Wulf hates keeping the truth from the public!
  • Rigmor: Knowing it now will not help defeat Alduin.
  • Wulf: No, it wouldn’t.
  • Rigmor: But once he is defeated, you will let everybody know what he did.
  • Wulf: Yes, even though I doubt people will be able to find out if Alduin devoured a loved one’s soul.
  • Rigmor: This is terrible and frightening!

Rigmor started to weep, and once more, I lent my not very comfortable armoured shoulder for her to cry into. She is so tiny compared to me, yet I get as much strength from her as she does from me.

After a good thirty-second sob, Rigmor produced the kerchief I had given her at the summit of the mine and laughed.

“I washed and cleaned it. It is not like I had a snotty kerchief up my sleeve all this time.”

I took the kerchief off her and gently wiped away the tears. Then I returned it saying, “I am not going to hold it while you honk your nose into it!”

Rigmor laughed once more, took the kerchief and did a mighty honk into it, making Celestine giggle.

Rigmor shoved the soggy kerchief back into her gauntlet, took my hand, and we continued towards Whiterun.

“DOVAHKIIN!” roared from High Hrothgar.

The ground shook like a powerful earthquake was occurring.

I looked up at High Hrothgar and smiled at the demonstration of power.

When the ground stopped shaking, I tried to continue walking, but Rigmor’s hand was wrenched from mine, for she stood rooted to the spot.

  • Rigmor: Was that the Greybeards?
  • Wulf: Yes, they have summoned me to High Hrothgar.
  • Celestine: This is why Wulf never used The Voice. Even if he used it in Akavir or Roscrea, the Greybeards would have known and summoned him. They don’t do it for all Dragonborn.
  • Rigmor: But Wulf is a Septim, and that makes a difference.
  • Wulf: Yes. When they summoned Tiber Septim, they warned people first. Still, avalanches occurred, and villages were destroyed. It is fortunate I am close, in Whiterun Hold, so that they could summon me immediately using less Thu’um.
  • Celestine: And hopefully, nobody has been hurt.
  • Wulf: And we must keep my Septim blood a secret, even from your mother when we find her.
  • Rigmor: You are confident of that all of a sudden.
  • Wulf: Perhaps things happening as we expected with Alduin and Greybeards had made me more optimistic?
  • Celestine: Or, as I have surmised before, love has turned your brain to mush.
  • Rigmor: You must feel like an intruder when we get mushy.
  • Celestine: On the contrary, it is beautiful to witness, and Wulf will be much better for having a strong woman to guide him.
  • Wulf: Okay, what will be the title?
  • Rigmor: Title?
  • Wulf: As you know, Celestine is addicted to romance stories. She has expressed the desire to one day write one or two. It is a wonder she hasn’t been taken notes as we travel together.
  • Rigmor: That would be so cool to be a character in a romance novel as long as I get to help with the title.
  • Celestine: Unfortunately, Beauty and the Beast is already taken.
  • Rigmor: Yeah, I read that one. Baa’Ren-Dar turned a few pages and warned me I would damage my brain with nonsense like that.
  • Celestine: We shall have to think about this over a few meads.
  • Wulf: We just fought a dragon, The Greybeards caused an earthquake, and you two are talking about romance stories.
  • Rigmor: I think we have our priorities as they should be.
  • Celestine: You wouldn’t understand, Wulf, because you are not a Nord.

Both of them thought that was hilarious and laughed like braying donkeys. Maybe women’s brains are different somehow?

We entered Whiterun, and two Alik’r warriors were accosting people as they passed by.

One of them came up to us.

He said, “Perhaps you can help us. We are looking for a woman.”

I replied, “Sorry, I have no idea where the Red-Light district is in Whiterun.”

We continued past them, and for some reason, Rigmor and Celestine had another attack of the giggles.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Well, I could because it suits his warped sense of humour. Like father, like son, as the old saying goes. Celestine whispered, “Trouble.”

I ran ahead a bit and asked him in Ayleidoon, “Father, what are you doing?”

Father turned, crossed his arms and replied, “Just visiting Heimskr. He has a refreshing outlook on that god called Talos.”

I passed by before and heard him say, “We are but maggots, writhing in the filth of our own corruption! While you have ascended from the dung of mortality and now walk among the stars!”

“Oh, that is a new one! I quite like the way it flows.”

“Little does he know that Tiber Septim was constantly forgetting to wipe his feet and traipsed all sorts of dung over Mother’s clean floor.”

“I heard your plea, Son, and when you get to High Hrothgar, you will see The Nine have responded.”

“Thank you. Now you had better be off before Rigmor wonders why I am speaking to a smelly old drunk who needs a bath.”

Father held out his hand, and I gave him a couple of septims.

In Tamrielic, Father said, “Thank you, you are so kind! Blessings of The Nine on you.” then wandered off in the direction of Heimskr.

Rigmor caught up and said, “I have noticed you often help the beggars and destitute.”

Celestine burst out laughing, and for once, it was Rigmor who looked bewildered.

We went a different route to Dragonsreach. Father would end up having a philosophical argument with Heimskr, who regards himself as Nirn’s foremost authority on Talos. Father finds it amusing that Heimskr would unwittingly tell Talos that he knew nothing of Talos. 

We entered Dragonsreach, and the Dovah skull caught my attention once more. It was supposed to be the skull of Numinex, an ancient dragon somehow imprisoned in Dragonsreach by High King Olaf One-Eye from whom Jarl Balgruuf is directly descended. If the entire skeleton is in Dragonsreach, Alduin could restore Numinex. That would be rather embarrassing!

As we approached the throne, Proventus said, “Good, you’re finally here. The Jarl’s been waiting for you.”

In full sarcasm mode, wasted on Proventus, I replied, “Oh, if we had known Jarl Balgruuf was waiting, we would have slain the dragon quicker. I hope our apology is acceptable.”

We stood before the throne. Hrongar, Jarl Balgruuf’s brother, was in attendance.

  • Balgruuf: So, what happened at the watchtower? Was the dragon there?
  • Wulf: Oh, hello Wulf, Rigmor and Celestine. I am glad to see you alive with all limbs attached.
  • Hrongar: Brother, you told me Wulf isn’t one for courtly protocol. He just gave you a lesson!
  • Wulf: The watchtower has been destroyed. However, we killed the dragon.
  • Balgruuf: I knew I could count on Irileth. But there must be more to it than that.
  • Wulf: Your men and Irileth fought bravely, but the dragon we killed was called Mirmulnir and was a fraction of the strength of his overlord, Alduin.
  • Balgruuf: Is there no hope against Alduin?
  • Rigmor: Yes, Wulf, The Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines, was sent to Skyrim by The Divines. We told you that.
  • Balgruuf: Farengar argued long and hard that you were not the Dragonborn.
  • Wulf: Farengar is a pompous puss-filled bottom pimple. Every time I fart, I expel more magic and dragon knowledge than he possesses.
  • Hrongar: Well said!
  • Balgruuf: So, it’s true. The Greybeards were summoning you.
  • Wulf: Yes, as The Divines told me they would.
  • Balgruuf: They are masters of The Way of the Voice. They live in seclusion high on the slopes of the Throat of the World. The Dragonborn is said to be uniquely gifted in the Voice. The ability to focus your vital essence into a Thu’um or Shout. They can teach you how to use your gift.
  • Wulf: The Way of the Voice is a load of bollocks. But the Greybeards must aid me no matter my opinion of their religion.
  • Hrongar: Can we invite Wulf to more meetings? It makes a change to hear the truth.
  • Balgruuf: I don’t think my heart could stand the stress.
  • Hrongar: The Greybeards haven’t summoned anybody in centuries, at the least. Certainly not since Tiber Septim himself was summoned when he was still Talos of Atmora!
  • Proventus: Hrongar, calm yourself. What has any of this Nord nonsense have to do with our friend here? Capable as he may seem, I don’t see any sign of him being this, what, ‘Dragonborn.’

Hrongar was livid, but I spoke before he did and used the Thu’um to do so.

“DO YOU DOUBT WHAT YOU HEAR NOW? DO YOU DOUBT MY WORD?”

I spoke powerfully enough to make books fall off shelves and rattle Dragonsreach to its core but not strong enough to cause damage.

Just then, Irileth arrived, but I was not done with Proventus.

  • Wulf: Proventus, you are advising a Nord Jarl yet are ignorant of written history. So is Irileth, and I find that disturbing. I encourage you to read what you can on the Dragon War. Learn from books and do not rely on Farengar’s knowledge. I will give him credit for recognising the signs and preparing for this moment, but he is not balancing caution and fascination. His obsession will cost lives if he does not stick to facts.
  • Balgruuf: If you know more, why not tell us now?
  • Rigmor: Wulf is not one of the advisors you will be relying on, Jarl Balgruuf. Do you want to base decisions on his word or those of whom you have already placed your trust?
  • Celestine: Some things must remain a secret for now. We will let Emperor Titus Mede II know of them. It will be His Imperial Majesty who decides who should be informed.
  • Wulf: One thing I can tell you, Jarl Balgruuf. Skyrim cannot fight a civil war and a dragon war simultaneously.
  • Irileth: Proventus, did you question the honesty of Wulf and the others once again? All that he predicted came to pass. The dragon attacked him, and I have never seen a better swordsman. His tactics worked, and no injuries were sustained by the guards who accompanied me. Not even a single scratch!
  • Avenicci: I meant no disrespect, of course. It’s just that… what do these Greybeards want with him?
  • Balgruuf: That is the Greybeards’ and Wulf’s business, not ours.
  • Rigmor: I think it will soon be all of Skyrim’s, if not all of Tamriel’s, business very soon.
  • Wulf: Jarl Balgruuf, do you know why Alduin is called The World Eater?
  • Balgruuf: I assume he means to destroy Nirn.
  • Wulf: No, that is not his desire and is a common misconception. Alduin will not destroy but conquer and control Nirn. When this Kalpa ends by whatever means, he will consume all that is. He will store everything until a new Nirn and Mundus are created, and a new Kalpa begins. If not for Alduin, The Aurbis would consume Nirn and Mundus, and no new Kalpa began. In a way, Alduin saves all from total annihilation.
  • Celestine: Wulf is to stop Alduin’s domination, not save Nirn. Although if a threat to Nirn or Mundus exists, the Divines may give him the task to prevent that catastrophe.
  • Balgruuf: You’d better get up to High Hrothgar immediately. There is no refusing the summons of the Greybeards. It’s a tremendous honour.
  • Wulf: We shall travel there as soon as we safely can, Jarl Balgruuf. But know this, I answer to The Divines, not those old men who have not aided Skyrim in centuries. I doubt they will help you now.
  • Balgruuf: No matter. Go to High Hrothgar when you can. Learn what the Greybeards can teach you.
  • Rigmor: We shall do so. And please, forgive Wulf for his abruptness.
  • Balgruuf: He sounds like me, so no forgiveness is needed.
  • Rigmor: This is him in one of his good moods.
  • Wulf: Wow, that is the pot calling the kettle black!
  • Rigmor: Huh?
  • Hrongar: I haven’t heard that saying in decades!
  • Balgruuf: You’ve done a great service for me and my city, Dragonborn. Therefore, by my rights as Jarl, I name you Thane of Whiterun. It is the highest honour within my power to grant.
  • Wulf: I did not want any reward, Jarl Balgruuf. But I will be honoured to accept this appointment. Whiterun is a beautiful city full of exceptional people.
  • Balgruuf: I also assign Lydia to you as a personal Housecarl. I ask that you also accept this sword, not as a gift but as a badge of your office.

The Jarl handed me a fine sword that any warrior would be proud to carry.

  • Balgruuf: I’ll also notify my guards of your new title. We wouldn’t want them to think you are part of the common rabble, now, would we?
  • Rigmor: Maybe if he didn’t stink like a dead Skeever, that mistake wouldn’t happen.
  • Balgruuf: We are honoured to have you as Thane of our city, Dragonborn.
  • Wulf: I might find myself in Whiterun often whilst performing my tasks for The Nine. Would you have a house available that I may purchase?
  • Balgruuf: Well, it just so happens a beautiful house called Breezehome was recently vacated by a noble and his family who moved to High Rock. Proventus can provide you with the keys and arrange your payment whenever you desire, Dragonborn. If I could gift it to you, I would, but even Jarl’s have limited funds.

Proventus stepped forward and said, “I apologise again, Thane. Here is the key to Breezehome. Lydia can direct you to it. I will discuss with Jarl Balgruuf a fair price and let you know in due course.”

I took the key, bowed to Jarl Balgruuf and stepped away.

Rigmor asked, “What now?”

“We talk with Farengar, meet Lydia and check out Breezehome.”

“Okay.”

I approached Farengar, and in his whiney, annoying voice, he said, “I do not want to hear what you have to say. It saddens me that Jarl Balgruuf should fall victim to your lies.”

I Blinked and was next to Farengar with my dragon eyes shown.

Farengar looked, shrieked, then covered his face.

“Listen carefully. I am The Dragonborn, and I warned Delphine. If she can help me against Alduin, I will welcome that assistance. But if she and her associates, including you, get in my way and compromise my Divine task, I will remove you. I will let your imagination fill in the details of that promise. It is not a threat. Oh, I am also your Thane. Next time you speak to me with disrespect, I will have you dining on bread and water in the jail for a week.”

I left the Court Bottom Pimple quivering and made my way to Lydia.

Lydia saw me approaching and walked up boldly to greet me. She had the bearings of a warrior but with beauty and grace added. She was like a Nord Shieldmaiden of old.

She stopped in front of me, and I could see great sadness in her eyes.

  • Wulf: Greetings, Lydia. I am Wulf.
  • Rigmor: I am Rigmor.
  • Celestine: And I am Celestine.
  • Lydia: The Jarl has appointed me to be your Housecarl. It is an honour to serve you.
  • Wulf: I am uncomfortable with the idea of somebody being my servant. Perhaps in time, you will regard me as a friend and equal.
  • Lydia: The Jarl has recognised you as a person of great importance in the hold. A hero. The title of Thane is an honour. A gift for your service.
  • Wulf: What are a Housecarl’s duties?
  • Lydia: As my Thane, I’m sworn to your service. I’ll guard you, and all you own, with my life.
  • Wulf: It is bad enough having somebody being my servant. Somebody risking their life for no other reason than me having a title is not okay.
  • Rigmor: Wulf, we need to talk. Now!
  • Wulf: Excuse us for a minute, Lydia.
  • Lydia: Of course, my Thane.
  • Celestine: Tell me about yourself, Lydia. How did you become a Housecarl?

Rigmor and I moved away while Celestine chatted with Lydia.

“Yes, Rigmor. What is it?”

“What are you going to do with Lydia?”

“She can train to use Akaviri weapons and armour and join my entourage.”

“She seems so sad, Wulf.”

“I know. Perhaps we can aid Lydia with what saddens her. But first, we must attend to The Greybeards. Baa’Ren-Dar will not have returned from Cyrodiil as yet, so do not fret that I have forgotten Sigunn.”

“I know, Wulf. As Baa’Ren-Dar said, there is not much we can do until he returns.”

“But we can go and retrieve that list.”

“Yes, that will be a relief. That extra step.”

“Okay, let’s ask Lydia to show us our new home in Whiterun.”

“Ah, how much did it cost?”

“I don’t know yet, but I am stinking rich.”

“And a noble!”

“And a citizen of The Empire. Once given a noble title, citizenship is automatic. I expect to be called Sir Weirdo from now on.”

“Yeah, right. Pffft!”

Lydia guided us to Breezehome but said not a word when doing so.

We entered, and I suggested, “Would you ladies like to have a look around. I can sense a shrine upstairs and wish to visit it.”

The ladies went one way while I headed upstairs.

A Shrine of Talos was next to the main bed. When I become more familiar with Breezehome, I will teleport to it. Until then, I placed a Mark that I could Recall.

I sat and listened to the women move around the house. The conversation seemed relaxed, and I think Lydia was charmed by Rigmor, as many people are.

After some time, Rigmor yelled, “Hey, weirdo, we have finished snooping around!”

I headed downstairs, and Lydia still looked sad.

  • Rigmor: What next?
  • Wulf: We shall go to the Safe House. You will get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow you and I will teleport to Riften and then ride to Ivarstead.
  • Celestine: Then you get to climb the seven thousand steps to High Hrothgar!
  • Rigmor: Oh, joy.
  • Wulf: It will be just you and me, Rigmor, and I think you will enjoy it.
  • Rigmor: Why not take one or two Blades?
  • Celestine: We would not be welcome in High Hrothgar. The Greybeards regard us as dragonslayers and are protective of their grandmaster, a dragon called Paarthurnax.
  • Rigmor: I suppose Wulf can fill me in on details as we walk, or stagger, up the steps.
  • Wulf: Lydia, this must all seem strange, but you will be given plenty of time to adjust. We are going to my Safe House in Solitude. You can be taught how to fight with katana, similar to those Celestine and I wield. If you ever have to face a dragon, they are superior to regular swords for that purpose.
  • Lydia: As you command, my Thane.
  • Wulf: Because I just met you, we will have to do a Tandem Teleport. Have you ever used a Scroll or Ring of Recall before?
  • Lydia: No.
  • Wulf: We will spend a second or so in the Ethereal Plane. It is pitch black and the coldest you will ever experience. Place your hand on my shoulder, and don’t let go. There is no danger, but I will have to come back here and try again if you let go.
  • Lydia: I understand.
  • Wulf: Rigmor, I will summon you once I am there.
  • Rigmor: It will be strange for me as well, Lydia. I have never been to the Safe House nor met the people who live there.
  • Wulf: Okay, Lydia, get ready to put your hand on my shoulder.

I prepared the spell then said, “Now, Lydia.”

Lydia said not a word when we materialised in the Safe House. Most people make some comments about their first experience of ethereal travel.

Celestine teleported in then took charge of Lydia. As they moved away, I summoned Rigmor.

“Wulf, Lydia is engaged to a Helgen guard called Bjorn. He is not on the list of injured or dead.”

“Oh, the poor woman. And then she gets lumped with us!”

“Lydia told me that in some ways, it is good as she will be occupied rather than sitting in a room and stewing over forlorn hope. She knows Bjorn is gone but can’t start mourning yet.”

“Well, she is in the best place if there is any information about Bjorn. She can visit High Reach and The Temple of Arkay and check for herself rather than rely on lists. I am not quite sure who is here, but I know all The Blades well, and she will find understanding and support in abundance.”

“Celestine is a sweety, and I think they have a good rapport already.”

“Come, you look exhausted, but I think you would appreciate a good bath before you go to bed.”

“And food!”

“I will ask one of The Blades to bring you new undergarments and food while you bathe.”

“Where shall I sleep?”

“I think it best you sleep in one of the common rooms. I have some excellent, well-padded comfy chairs here. I will sit beside you, so Our Peace envelopes us.”

“I admire how you are determined to go as slow as I want with all of this.”

“I am one of those weirdos who is not interested in sex purely for the sake of it. I don’t judge those who do.”

“So, you have never…you know?”

“Do you mean made love, bonked, had nooky, banged boots, hid the sausage, fornicated, wet my willy, etcetera?”

“Yeah, that!”

“No, Rigmor. Many women and men have shown great interest in me as a sexual partner. But I have politely refused their advances.”

“That is so unexpected and kinda sweet.”

“Come on, let me show you the spa bath.”

Rigmor followed me. The spa bath was in a room accessible only from my bedroom.

“Here we are, Milady. You can lock the door if you wish, but nobody will enter except for Sakiya, who I saw was here. She will help you with some clean clothing and food. She will also show you where to sleep. I might be some time catching up with others, but eventually, I will pull up a chair and be your Guardian for the night.”

“Does this water have any minerals in it?”

“No, but see this valve, turn it, and water jets will massage you. Be careful how far you turn it, though. They can be quite vigorous!”

“Ahh, I thought you might want to know that I am a virgin as well.”

“Well then, if we ever get around to it, we shall learn together.”

“I would be so nervous!”

“Why? I have seen dogs and horses do it. It doesn’t look that complicated!”

“Wulf, get out of here before I remove your ability to participate.”

“I saw our Bosmer Bard downstairs. I am glad he made it.”

“What about Celestine’s man?”

“I heard Vayu’s voice. It is like gravel in a bucket.”

“I wish we could do more for Lydia.”

“We shall give her a chance for revenge. It won’t bring Bjorn back, but it will help nonetheless.”

“Pompous puss-filled bottom pimple was very inventive.”

“I have never met a person more annoying than Farengar, although Proventus did try and usurp his chief bottom pimple position.”

Rigmor laughed, then pushed me out of my bedroom!

I made my way to one of the shared bedrooms.

Lydia was asleep with her sword still sheathed on her back. She was a warrior and would soon adapt to the Akavir weapons. It is up to her if she prefers two-handed or dual wield. I don’t want those who travel with me to be board and sword fighters like I am. I find that many shields are fine for outside skirmishes but become a hindrance in the tight, confined fighting of buildings, and I assume crypts and barrows as well.

I found Sakiya in the other shared bedroom.

She asked, “Wulf, have you caught up with the others yet?”

“No, Sakiya. I was getting Rigmor settled.”

“Her friend, Angi, is quite nice once you break through the ice.”

“Hey, you’re a poet but didn’t know it!”

“Stick to stabbing things, Wulf.”

“What about little Sorella? How was she doing?”

“Meeko has performed his magic once more. I have seen Sorella crying into his fur, and I have seen them running around playing games only they understand, to Angi’s annoyance.”

“How is Bashita doing?”

“Oh, apart from Angi mixing up our names, she has no complaints. If trouble arrives, we can all be quickly summoned, so Bashita is relaxed, which helps the whole camp relax. We have decided on two-day shifts. Now the others have arrived, we might have three eight hour shifts, so there is twenty-four-hour protection. With Meeko there, that is a bit redundant, but still, it can’t hurt.”

“Can you please attend to Rigmor in the spa room? Arrange some new undergarments and whatever else she needs. She is starving, so ask her what she wants to eat.”

“Any news on Alduin?”

“Yes, we killed one of his friends today while he observed. He is being very cautious.”

“A test of your abilities?”

“Yes.”

“There is something else you are reluctant to tell me.”

“I never would be good at playing cards for money. Yes, Sakiya, we know where he gets the Life Force to restore the dragons. He is absorbing souls in Sovngarde.”

“Shit! I mean, oh my gosh! Yes, let us keep that amongst ourselves.”

“Don’t talk about it even amongst The Blades. That way, it will not accidentally be leaked.”

“Agreed. Now I had better attend to Rigmor before she turns into a prune.”

“Please, do not react to her scars. If she wants to talk about them, she will.”

“Is she the girl you ethereal travelled to?”

“Yes, and now she is a grown woman and knows who I am.”

“Love?”

“Yes.”

“I am not surprised and see no problem as long as you are both honest and careful.”

“Believe me. We are honest and careful!”

“Good. Now you had better find Vayu. He has been keen to see his friend once more.”

“I can’t mourn the Swordmasters. Not yet.”

“Vayu is the same. We expected it might come to this. But one day, you will mourn, and I am relieved Rigmor can help you through it.”

“So am I.”

I found Vayu downstairs, and he almost broke my ribs with his greeting hug. That is impressive since I am wearing heavy armour!

I said, “It is good to see you, old friend.”

“And it is good to see you, ancient friend.”

“Hey, I am only a year older!”

“So, my reading of the bones was accurate.”

“Come on, we all know your divination is normal foresight. It is just a bit clearer than most seers who rely on gods for interpretation. Plus, The Divines told us what to expect.”

“The Nine steal my glory once more!”

“Alduin is here, but I don’t know if he has restored any dragons. So far, the ones we have encountered were not listed as killed in Atlas of Dragons. We fought and killed Mirmulnir today. He was last seen in The Reach in 2E 212, and I have no idea where he was hiding.”

“Probably some remote island that nobody visits and full of primitive villagers, like where you come from.”

“There is another group investigating the dragons. I have a feeling they may be Blades. Do you know of a Delphine?”

“Small woman, early fifties who looks like she sucks on lemons all day.”

“That’s her.”

“Where has she been hiding?”

“Out in the open. Delphine owns and runs the tavern in Riverwood.”

“I only know her by reputation and hearsay. Her paranoia ensured most records of her services to The Empire were expunged. Before The Great War, she was one of The Blades causing havoc in Summerset Isles and Valenwood. All of them were caught and beheaded except for Delphine. She had been recalled to Cyrodiil just before The Dominion’s initial purge of Blades.”

“They were nice enough to send the heads to Mede.”

“No country treats foreign spies and saboteurs with kindness.”

“Yes, I know. It was part of the risk The Blades accepted along with the assignment.”

“The Dominion hated Delphine, and lots of resources were used during The Great War to track her down. Three times assassins jumped her. Three times she survived. In one instance, she wiped out an entire team by herself.”

“Sounds impressive till you hear what Rigmor did.”

“Do you know how long she has been in Riverwood?”

“No idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has been since The White-Gold Concordat was signed.”

“Over thirty years right under their noses!”

“She may prove to be an asset, so we shall leave her be for now. If I think we can use her, we shall give her the option to join us.”

“If she refuses?”

“Then a word in Jarl Balgruuf’s ear will have her eating prison food till Alduin is dealt with.”

“Is there any other startling news?”

“I am Thane of Whiterun.”

“Just for killing a dragon? What do you get for stopping Alduin, his daughter’s hand in marriage?”

“Ahh, I think she is about twelve years of age.”

“Oh, then his son’s hand in marriage?”

“They are both younger, I think.”

“The Jarl’s hand in marriage?”

“Jarl Balgruuf is an old, wrinkly Nord.”

“Does he have a goat?”

“Did Celestine tell you about Rigmor?”

“Of course, she did. Despite her worries about you being fool enough to fall in love, she thought it was romantic. I told her not to worry about Wulf, who I know very well and who is wise enough not to fall in love.”

“Well… you see….”

“Lady Mara will be pleased.”

“Is that all you have to say?”

“The connection you share with Rigmor is a mystery to The Nine. Who am I to question what is right or wrong? So many people thought Celestine and I would be a disaster.”

“It still might be if she catches you wearing her underwear.”

“Ahh, they are a bit small, don’t you think?”

“So, you did try! I knew it! You should confess and plead for understanding.”

“Who is the woman that Celestine spent time with on your arrival.”

“Lydia, she is my Housecarl. I think she is a fine warrior, and I will be trusting you with her training. Start her off in heavy armour and kai-katana. If Lydia doesn’t like that, then light armour and dual wielding. Speak to Celestine to get the story about Lydia’s fiancée. You must understand if Celestine is not so affectionate for the next few days. Flaunting your love in front of Lydia would be cruel.”

“A casualty of the civil war?”

“No, he was a guard in Helgen and is not on the dead or wounded lists.”

“Oh. Well, Lydia could not get a more caring soul to speak to.”

“Celestine has been indispensable during my time here.”

“She told me you have been making friends with the local Thalmor.”

“Did Celestine mention The New Order?”

“Yes, but she was sketchy on the details.”

“She knows more now. We are waiting on feedback from the Emperor on what, if any, our involvement will be. In the meantime, I am doing the preliminary stuff on Alduin and helping Rigmor find her mother.”

“You know what you are doing, Wulf. I don’t worry about your priorities. What about the civil war? Will that get in the way of dealing with Alduin?”

“I think it will be impossible to move around Skyrim and deal with the dragons once the fighting intensifies. As soon as one of the cities is attacked, the whole thing will become a fight to the death, and Ulfric has no hope of winning. Many will die for his ambition.”

“Alduin would like nothing better than to attack both sides of a major battle.”

“Well, it is good to see you, Vayu. But I had better do a quick hello of the others, or they will pout and think you are my favourite.”

I discovered everybody else was asleep!

I bathed, changed into a kimono and made my way to Rigmor.

I put the seat beside her and sat down. She had been tossing and turning as she battled one of her night terrors. She almost immediately reverted to peaceful sleep. I closed my eyes and soon joined her in slumber.

5 thoughts on “ALDUIN’S SACRIFICE

  1. Did Delphine tell you about Rigmor? I think that should be Celestine. Wulf was talking to Vayu. What a great read yet again. Totally different approach to the same story, and I’m loving it. I even like you Lydia she looks good.

  2. Absolutely loved this entry! The banter and some of the situations were so fun. Thanks, Mark!

  3. I like this version, knowing more of the peoples backgrounds. It brings them more to life, as it were. I hope and pray you stay safe. Thank You Mark.

  4. When the crew arrived in Whiterun the first time the guard at the gate said he was a Riften guard, didn’t notice that the first read through.

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