Turdas, 28th Last Seed, 4E 201
to Loredas, 30th Last Seed, 4E 201
The relief I felt at telling all to Rigmor was evident on my face. My tears and worry were gone, replaced by a smile and a sense of serenity.
My beloved waited for me to exit Breezehome first. It was an unspoken rule that I would enter and exit places before the one I guarded.
I stepped outside and scanned the street. Stalls were left as they were at the end of the day’s trading with goods placed in containers but not hidden. No thieves risked the wrath of the excellent guards patrolling Whiterun. Food and shelter for the needy were provided at the Temple of Kynareth and, oddly, at The Hall of the Dead.
Rigmor joined me, and we watched as a couple of odd-looking people approached. A guard had noticed them and was going to intercept.
I said, “Guardsman, let them approach.”
One of the strangers came close and looked me up and down. He was a mage of mediocre ability. Their clothes had armour similar to that of Dragon Priests on one arm and gauntlets. The masks they wore were made of Dragonbone and reminiscent of Hermaeus Mora.
The mage grunted and walked away after inspecting me from head to toe. I could imagine the sneer under the mask.
Rigmor asked, “Who are they?”
“They could be Dragon Cult members or Hermaeus Mora devotees.”
The mage showed his contempt by leaving his back to me.
The other stranger was a woman.
With a heavy Ashlander accent full of sarcasm, she asked, “You there! You’re the one they call Dragonborn?”
“Well, they call me The Dragonborn. And you are?”
“Your lies fall on deaf ears, Deceiver! The True Dragonborn comes … You are but his shadow.”
“Hey, I didn’t lie. People do call me The Dragonborn, including The Greybeards! You are a very rude individual and have hurt my feelings!”
“Then it is too late. The lie has already taken root in the hearts of men. So, we shall expose the falseness in their hearts by tearing out yours, Deceiver! When Lord Miraak appears, all shall bear witness. None shall stand to oppose him!”
The woman drew a dagger and ran at me. The mage prepared a spell and moved to my left.
The guard ran to engage the woman, but I had already thrust my sword through her chest. She was also a mage but had not used a spell.
I leapt over her falling body and charged at the male mage. He cast his best spell, which did not affect me. I thrust my sword through his chest, and he died as quickly as the woman.
Within seconds of starting the attack, both lay dead.
The guard said, “That was impressive, Thane. I shall get somebody to clean up the mess.”
The guard wandered off while I examined the corpses. On the woman, I found a note.
I removed their masks, and both were Dunmer. I knew the woman was an Ashlander.
Rigmor asked, “Who, or what, are they, Wulf?”
Hang on, let me read a note that was on the woman. It is in Dunmeri. I will translate it for you.
“Hire the vessel Northern Maiden docked at Raven Rock. Take it to Windhelm, then begin your search. Kill the False Dragonborn before they reach Solstheim.
Return with word of your success, and Miraak will be most pleased.”
“You said people would hunt you if they knew you were Dragonborn.”
“They came from Solstheim and then from the port that Northern Maiden uses. If it makes regular trips to Solstheim, it will be one of the northern ports. They would have had to leave close to a week ago just to get to Whiterun.”
“How did they know where you were?”
“The citizens of Whiterun would have been talking about their new Thane and how he is The Dragonborn. There will be Miraak Goons all over Skyrim hoping to get word of a Dragonborn. These two were the unlucky ones to find me.”
“Okay, that makes sense.”
“Somebody else figured out the prophecy has been fulfilled. They knew Alduin would return to where he was banished, which is Skyrim.”
“Hey, that makes sense as well! It must be the mead we just drank.”
“If I were Miraak’s Goons, I would let others know of my whereabouts and maybe even a description. I think there were three of them staking out Whiterun, and one is acting as a runner to tell others.”
“We now have Thalmor, New Order, Dragons and Miraak’s Goons hunting us.”
“I will have to ask Vayu if he knows of Miraak. He is a Shaman, mage, seer and historian. When we get to Morthal, I shall summon him. He can accompany us to Ustengrav, the place where Windcaller’s Horn is located.”
“I assume he is a devotee of Dibella since he wears her medallion?”
“Yes, very much so. Dibella’s commandment is, ‘Open your heart to the noble secrets of art and love. Treasure the gifts of friendship. Seek joy and inspiration in the mysteries of love.’ Vayu was trained in Dibellan Arts, which changed him from a young man whose sexual conquests were to sate his lust to respecting women more. The man who bedded barmaids is long gone. A good thing, too, because Celestine would geld him! But the other aspects of Dibellan worship are equally important to Vayu. Enjoying the beauty of a sunset, the Aurora and even red mountain flowers are aspects of Dibellan worship. Appreciation of art in its many forms is an aspect of Dibellan worship. That includes dancing and singing as well as sculpture and painting. Dibella wants mortals to find and enjoy the beauty in all things.”
“What would training in Dibellan Arts involve?”
“Respect for your sexual partners. Training and practice on giving and receiving sexual pleasure in various ways. But also massage. The art of conversation and stimulating and fun to be with. He was trained to counsel people who find sex confusing or scary or answer questions they can’t ask their parents. Some societies frown upon the term ‘Dibellan Arts’ without understanding it is not training for a gigolo or prostitute.”
“Are there Dibellan prostitutes and gigolos?”
“Yes, but not officially sanctioned. They use Dibella’s name to attract clients, and perhaps some are trained in Dibellan Arts. It is not my area of expertise, Rigmor.”
“Ahh, let us get going. We are discussing Dibellan Arts next to two warm corpses.”
‘Romantic, isn’t it?”
“The weirdo gets weirder. I didn’t think it possible.”
We hired the carriage to Morthal and climbed aboard.
Rigmor was asleep with her head on my lap before a mile was completed.
The trip to Morthal took about sixteen hours, including meal and toilet breaks.
The sun was just clearing the mountains when we entered Morthal’s main gates.
There was a congregation of locals out the front of the Jarl’s residence. They seemed to be upset about something.
Rigmor asked, “Are you summoning Vayu now?”
“Yes, but it might take a minute or two for him to appear.”
“Yeah, that is weird how you can refuse the summoning till you are ready.”
“Not weird, but necessary. What if Vayu was on the privy or, ah, in a compromising position?”
“Oh, I didn’t think of that.”
“It probably slipped the mind of the first mage to invent summoning.”
“Hehe, and somebody taking a dump or having sex suddenly appeared!”
“I think you exhausted every possible question about my parents and upbringing during the carriage ride.”
“You asked almost as many questions about mine!”
“Yes, I suppose I did.”
I summoned Vayu, and he appeared almost instantly.
- Vayu: Do you need help, Wulf?
- Wulf: Sorry, Vayu, for the short notice. Actually, I am sorry for the total lack of notice. But I want you to accompany Rigmor and me into some dusty crypt to recover an artefact for The Greybeards.
- Vayu: That’s okay. Celestine is at Angi’s. Other Blades are helping Lydia with her training.
- Rigmor: How is she?
- Vayu: She spent quite some time at High Reach, looking closely at the injured with the hope Bjorn was amongst them. She came back weeping, not because Bjorn wasn’t there. The sight of the injured and the stories they told have affected her deeply. She has turned her sorrow into anger and channelled that into training.
- Wulf: Has she chosen a weapon?
- Vayu: I know you don’t want lots of Sword and Board fighters around you, but I recommend you allow Lydia to be one. She is superb in that role, and I think that is where her heart is.
- Wulf: Has she adapted to the katana and large shield?
- Vayu: Lydia is already better than any Blade in the Safe House. She is one of the best I have ever seen. She was wasted as a guard and knew that.
- Rigmor: Did she ask to be Wulf’s housecarl?
- Vayu: Yes. When you left to tackle the dragon at the watchtower, Jarl Balgruuf asked the guards if any of them wanted to be your housecarl. Many put their hand up. The Jarl was reluctant to lose Lydia but picked her anyway. Lydia is too modest to say why, but I would guess she was far more able a warrior than any other and of the disposition required to be a good housecarl. Not all guards can transition to that role with success.
- Wulf: Have any more Blades come to the Safe House?
- Vayu: No, and if they haven’t arrived by now, I would say they will remain hidden where they are.
- Wulf: That is a fair assumption. Anyway, let’s get Jurgen Windcaller’s Horn so I can return to High Hrothgar. I would hate to miss out on any fun they have up there.
- Vayu: I sense a tiny bit of sarcasm.
- Rigmor: The Greybeards were useless old farts who haven’t seen a bath since Alduin’s last appearance.
- Vayu: And here I thought you two would become The Way of the Voice converts.
- Rigmor: So…a Dragonborn appears, at this moment in the turning of the age.
- Wulf: You must hear the word within yourself before you can project it into a Thu’um.
- Vayu: Mumbo jumbo galore! Wulf must have loved the place.
- Wulf: The Way of the Wanker!
- Rigmor: Wulf!
- Wulf: Oh, the wind is blowing, and my Thu’um is rising! Where is that picture of Kyne? I need to show my love for her!
- Vayu: You don’t usually demonstrate such disregard for religion, Wulf.
- Wulf: It is a false religion based on the blasphemies of Jurgen Windcaller. They are parasites who live on the charity of others without trying to contribute to society in any meaningful way. You know I give respect where earned. They have not earned it.
- Rigmor: They have been a waste of time, Vayu.
- Wulf: However, I think retrieving The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller will be the final step before naming me Ysmir.
- Vayu: Which crypt are we visiting?
- Wulf: Ustengrav.
- Vayu: What do you know about it?
- Wulf: It is just another boring Nordic crypt. Windcaller’s tomb is in the inner sanctum, sealed since 2E 582. I don’t think we will face any enemies till we break the seal.
- Rigmor: Wulf’s father came to visit. He looks far less stern than his statues.
- Vayu: Ahh, so you know what a complete freak of nature Wulf is?
- Rigmor: Yes, and he is my freak.
- Vayu: I can see that. The thumbprints on Wulf’s forehead are already prominent.
- Wulf: Did I tell you how good Rigmor is with that huge sword she carries?
- Rigmor: That’s okay, Vayu. Soon he will be as helpless as you. I am getting tips on training Wulf from Celestine.
- Vayu: Ouch! Who needs a sword with a tongue like that?
- Wulf: Okay, time to head for Ustengrav.
As we approached the crowd in front of the Jarl’s house, I noticed a lone Thalmor.
I warned, “A Thalmor spotter on the bridge has seen us. She just talked to somebody to our left.”
The spotter ran towards the far end as we ran towards the bridge.
A girlchild was headed our way. She looked behind and saw two Thalmor with weapons in their hands and running in her direction. She screamed in terror.
The Thalmor ran past the girl and engaged me.
I quickly cut the first down.
As I was dispensing with the second, a Thalmor arrow thumped into him. More Thalmor were coming from the far end of the bridge.
The little girl panicked again.
She stopped next to a Thalmor archer. Probably the one who shot the Thalmor I just killed. Another Thalmor archer was trying to get a clear shot at me, but the girl was in the way.
If I Blinked, the archers might simply fire on impulse and hit the child. Therefore, I ran and drew their fire instead.
An arrow thumped into my shoulder but did not penetrate my armour. Even if it did, my anger was such I would not have felt it.
I cut the head off my opponent.
Then I killed another.
Arrows from Rigmor and a Khajiit peppered the last Thalmor.
She staggered towards me then dropped dead, and her sword cut into the throat of her already deceased comrade.
I rushed over to the girl.
“Hello, I am Wulf. Are you okay?”
“They were Thalmor, weren’t they?”
“Yes, they were. Did you think the Thalmor were after you?”
“I live with Falion. He is my step-father, and I am his apprentice. He is a mage, and many are scared of mages. I thought they had told the Thalmor to get us.”
I could sense the child had a natural store of Magicka well above average. She would become a fine mage.
“What is your name?”
“I am sorry you had to see people get killed, Agni. And I am very sorry The Thalmor scared you. They were trying to hurt me and my friends, not you or Falion.”
“Well, it is not your fault they do these things where there are a lot of people. Why do they want to hurt you and your friends?”
“Because we are trying to stop them from doing bad things that will hurt a lot of people.”
“Falion helps people, but other people don’t like him.”
“Does the Jarl like him?”
“Then stay strong. If Falion keeps helping people, then eventually everybody will like him. They won’t hurt him while the Jarl is on his side.”
“That is what Falion said. Anyway, I had better go home and tell Falion what happened.”
Agni ran off, and I was still shaking with fear.
I walked over to the Khajiit who helped us.
“Hello, I am Wulf.”
“This one is Shamada and knows of you from Ri’saad. Does this one have a Thalmor arrow in left ear?”
“Yes, but that is only fair since you left at least six arrows in that Thalmor.”
“Ri’saad would say that is a fair trade.”
“Thank you for your assistance, Shamada.”
I healed Shamada, and the Thalmor arrow went into her quiver as a souvenir.
As Shamada retrieved her arrows from the Thalmor corpse, I walked over to Rigmor and Vayu.
- Rigmor: Wulf, that little girl could have been killed!
- Wulf: I know. I am not used to being scared, Rigmor. I was scared just then.
- Rigmor: Not for yourself, though.
- Vayu: Wulf would have blamed himself if the girl was hurt. He is an idiot.
- Wulf: I know Thalmor are hunting us. I should have been more cautious!
- Vayu: You are not perfect, Wulf. Why were they at this end of Morthal and not the main entrance? I bet you scanned for trouble when you first entered, didn’t you?
- Wulf: Yes, of course.
- Vayu: They were hiding here, where we are standing, and could not be seen from the front gate. Two were hiding to the side where they could not be seen. If you used your Heat-Vision from the front gate, you could not tell armed guards from Thalmor. So, tell me, Wulf, what could you have done differently?
- Rigmor: You walked towards them to draw their fire. You let them fire more arrows at you, so the girl was not in the line of fire. Tell me that is not true.
- Wulf: Okay. Nagging is over. I am who I am and if that makes me an idiot, then so be it.
I walked at a brisk pace through the rear gate of Morthal, past a cemetery and along the path I was sure led to Ustengrav.
I stopped at a blood-covered cairn. A sign that necromancers and vampires use to mark territory.
- Rigmor: What does it mean, Wulf?
- Wulf: Necromancers or vampires are so sure of their strength that they have claimed territory.
- Vayu: They advertise their presence and don’t care who knows they are here.
- Wulf: You would think The Vigilants of Stendarr would come along and clear them out. But they are too busy hassling innocent travellers on the roads.
- Rigmor: Another group of people not on your good side?
- Wulf: They forget the basic tenets of Stendarr. They also forget that Daedra worship is not illegal in The Empire. So no, I don’t have a great love for them.
- Vayu: You don’t intend to do something about this right now, so let’s keep moving.
- Wulf: Who invited this Vayu fellow?
- Rigmor: You did.
- Wulf: Next time I think of doing so, kick me.
A bit further on, we passed a cave entrance.
- Wulf: Vampires.
- Rigmor: We passed another cave of vampires a few days ago.
- Wulf: Yes, and unless somebody tells me they are causing a problem, I will leave them alone.
- Rigmor: There is a big fort full of them near Angi’s called The Bloodlet Throne.
- Wulf: And I bet The Vigilants have not visited there either.
- Vayu: They have pretty armour if you are into shiny tin cans.
- Wulf: That is why they don’t tackle problematic vampire clans. They might get dirt on their shiny armour.
- Vayu: And shit in their breeches.
- Rigmor: It is disturbing how alike you two are.
- Wulf: I can’t help it if Vayu feels the need to mimic his hero.
- Vayu: Did you know Wulf was dropped on his head when a child?
- Rigmor: Yes, Celestine told me.
- Vayu: It makes him delusional. The mimicking is the other way around.
- Wulf: I would have to scoop half my brains out and drag my knuckles on the ground to mimic you.
- Vayu: See the damage? It is a sad thing.
- Wulf: Don’t you laugh, Rigmor. It only encourages him.
- Rigmor: I don’t need Vayu’s help to find humour in you, my dear Wulf.
- Wulf: I live to serve, Milady.
- Vayu: Oh, yes, thumb marks are appearing!
- Rigmor: The training is progressing well.
Two Chaurus were on the surface, which is unusual for a species that breeds and lives underground. They spat their poison at us.
For the very first time, I unleashed a three Word Unrelenting Force Shout.
One Chaurus disintegrated. The other lay dead in the water.
- Vayu: It appears you learnt something from The Greybeards.
- Wulf: No, it wasn’t them. Lady Kynareth taught me forty-eight Shouts and all of the Words of Power to use them. Half of the Shouts I know how to use all three Words. I have the knowledge required to use the first Word for the other half of the Shouts. If I keep using The Voice, she will gift knowledge on using the second Words and then the third.
- Vayu: The Divines planned this gift?
- Wulf: They planned for a Dragonborn to access all the Shouts. They gifted me the knowledge when they realised I could not and would not hunt dragons just for knowledge.
- Rigmor: Wulf was visibly upset when he absorbed the souls of the dragons.
- Wulf: Lord Akatosh is my Celestial Father. Therefore, in a sense, dragons are my half-brothers. That is partially the reason. Denying a being any chance of an afterlife is another reason. It is not just dragons that I can remove from existence.
- Rigmor: What else and how?
- Wulf: I can make a soul ignite, even a dragon’s. They explode, and nothing is left, not even ash. I had to do it when at Rose’s camp. A potent witch would have killed Meeko and me otherwise.
- Rigmor: Is it a blessing of The Divines?
- Wulf: Yes. I know a lot of terrible things, Rigmor. I would only use some Shouts, spells and other abilities in a life and death situation.
- Vayu: Wulf does not mean just his life in jeopardy.
- Rigmor: I know that, Vayu.
- Vayu: Forgive me. You probably know more about my old friend than I do. I can see the depth of your love, and your souls are intertwined.
- Rigmor: Wulf said his parents’ souls are also intertwined.
- Vayu: Correct, and I am sure Wulf told you that such souls would seek each other in every Kalpa. That is according to Lady Mara, and she should know.
- Rigmor: Do you speak to Lady Dibella?
- Vayu: Not directly. She has mortal agents called Sybils. Each significant Temple of Dibella has a Sybil who speaks with her voice. But she listens to one as devoted as me, Sybil or not.
As we approached Ustengrav, the sounds of battle echoed.
We observed Ustengrav from a distance and saw spells being cast. Accompanying shouts and screams signified death and fear.
We approached with caution and found bandits fighting necromancers.
We killed both sides without pause.
- Wulf: It seems they are fighting over Ustengrav. Which probably means the inner sanctum has been breached.
- Vayu: Terrific. If so, they have released all the nasties.
- Wulf: Yes, but the nasties would be fighting bandits and necromancers, and some of them will be destroyed.
- Rigmor: What kind of nasties?
- Vayu: Some Draugr are volunteers, such as those that guard the tombs of Dragon Priests. Some others make their way to the tombs of respected heroes, such as Jurgen Windcaller. It would not surprise me to find Ustengrav crawling with Draugr.
- Rigmor: So, if we breached the inner sanctum, we would have had to deal with every Draugr, if there are any?
- Vayu: Yes, but since our necromancer friends breached it, they and the bandits, if there are any inside, have hopefully whittled down the numbers for us.
- Wulf: Necromancers are a menace. They will open such tombs with complete disregard of who is interred. If they released a powerful Dragon Priest, many lives could be lost and not just theirs.
- Rigmor: Is there anything of value in Ustengrav?
- Wulf: No artefacts apart from Windcaller’s Horn that I can recall. The usual burial treasure of gems and jewellery can be worth a fortune. That is what the bandits would want.
- Vaya: The necromancers would want Windcaller’s remains. They could do nothing with them but desecrate as he would have had Arkay’s Rights protecting his soul.
- Rigmor: Could the bandits and necromancer have been working together?
- Wulf: Yes, they may have been.
- Rigmor: When the treasure was within reach, they decided they didn’t want to share.
- Wulf: Maybe that is the case. Let’s enter, kill everybody and everything, get the Horn and visit our bearded friends once more.
- Rigmor: Oh, great, that stupid climb again. Can we use the horses this time?
- Wulf: There is no need to climb. Lady Kynareth implanted what I needed to know to teleport to High Hrothgar’s entrance. It is probably not good to suddenly appear inside either by teleport or appearing from the locked area.
- Vayu: A startled Greybeard could kill or severely injure Wulf. Their Thu’um would kill you.
- Wulf: The entrance doors made a good clang when they automatically shut behind us. That tells The Greybeards somebody has entered.
- Rigmor: Front door and no climbing sounds good to me.
- Wulf: We will have to find something else for your whining.
- Vayu: Huh?
- Rigmor: It is one of my hobbies. Well, more like an art form.
- Vayu: Yes, I can see the merit in claiming whining as art.
Before the entrance to Ustengrav lay a dead bandit.
- Wulf: He was not killed by a necromancer or your average bandit.
- Vayu: His throat was slit from behind.
- Rigmor: A third party?
- Wulf: A stealthy third party, I would say.
- Vayu: Nothing is simple when I accompany you, Wulf.
- Wulf: Not my fault.
- Vayu: It never is. It is just a coincidence that repeats itself over and over and over….
- Rigmor: Hehe. You will have to tell me about some of these adventures.
Just before we entered, I warned, “Do not get in front of me. I want the option of using The Voice, and neither of you is immune to it.”
Not far in inside was another bandit with a slit throat.
Necromancers had resurrected some bandits. We could hear The Thu’um and spells echoing from further into the ruins.
Unrelenting Force killed several of the necromancers.
One necromancer was partially protected behind a fallen stone column. She quickly resurrected some more bandits.
She did not survive the second Unrelenting Force Shout.
- Wulf: Rigmor, remember always to kill the necromancers first. When they die, their summoned minions will die again.
- Rigmor: Conveniently, they wear robes that tell us what they are.
- Vayu: With Wulf’s Unrelenting Force Shout, he gets all enemies in a wide arc anyway.
- Wulf: Well, let’s watch necromancers and Draugr slaughter each other.
- Vayu: Rigmor, does Wulf always take you to such romantic places?
- Rigmor: It is one of his many charms.
- Wulf: We better hurry before all the good seats are taken!
Necromancers are soft and squishy in their robes, even if they cast protective spells on themselves. They have no protection against The Thu’um and not much against weapons. But they appeared to be putting up a good fight with their Destruction spells.
A necromancer was holding his own again a Draugr. Vayu summoned a Dremora Lord that cut down the Draugr. Rigmor yelled, “For Talos!” and almost cut the necromancer in half.
Vayu applauded then said, “Wulf wasn’t kidding about you and that sword. Ouch!”
We had witnessed the tail end of the battle. The necromancers all lay dead. It was up to us to finish the Draugr.
I killed four Draugr in quick succession.
- Vayu: Shit, Wulf, why did you need me? I could be back in the Safe House drinking your mead and ale.
- Rigmor: He was like this the other day. He killed dozens of bandits and Draugr while Celestine and I twiddled our thumbs.
- Wulf: You are here, Vayu, to provide another target for the enemy. Since you are larger than Celestine, you suit that purpose better.
- Vayu: Sometimes, Wulf, it is hard to tell if you are sarcastic or serious.
- Wulf: I know. It’s fun to ponder, is it not?
- Rigmor: Vayu, we both know Wulf would not deliberately put us in harm’s way.
- Vayu: Yes, but his sarcasm is delivered with such conviction. It is probably another blessing of The Divines that he has kept secret.
We encountered no enemies for quite some time as we travelled deeper into Ustengrav.
We came to a place where we could view a large cavern below.
- Wulf: There is a Word Wall down there. To the right somewhere.
- Rigmor: There are also a lot of Skeletal Warriors down there.
- Vayu: They are as weak as piss.
- Rigmor: Wulf, did Vayu go to the same school of weird sayings as you?
- Wulf: I don’t think he ever went to school.
- Vayu: And you, young lady, do not have colloquialisms strange to Wulf?
- Wulf: No way!
- Rigmor: Yeah, way!
- Wulf: There is your answer.
- Vayu: Fortunately, Wulf has a knack for learning new languages.
- Rigmor: I know this one is universal. Vayu, get fucked!
- Vaya: Nah, never heard of that one.
We made our way to a ledge overlooking the large cavern full of Skeletal Warriors.
I used Night-Vision, then destroyed a few Skeletal Warriors with Fireballs.
I said to Rigmor, “I will Blink down then summon you.”
Vayu said, “I will Feather Fall.”
A few seconds later, we were safely on the walkway.
I turned around and said, “It looks like some sort of puzzle in that direction. So logically, that is the direction we go to find Jurgen Windcaller’s Horn. But I want to visit the Word Wall first. I doubt it will teach a Word of Power I don’t already know, but the inscription might be interesting.”
I used Fireballs to clear the last of the Skeletal Warriors.
Rigmor whined, “Not fair! None of them reassembled!”
Vayu looked at Rigmor with a puzzled expression. I just laughed.
The Word Wall was down a couple of natural inclines.
- Wulf: It taught the Word of Power, feim, which means fade. It is the first Word in the Become Ethereal Shout. I already know all three Words of Become Ethereal and can use the Shout.
- Rigmor: And the message?
- Wulf: Nonvul bron dahmaan daar rot do fin fodiiz bormah-nii los heyv do enook mun wah lahney voth ahkrin ahrk zin leh rok feim vodahmin kotin vulom.
- Vayu: I don’t know about Rigmor, but my Dovahzul is a bit rusty. As in, I don’t know a single word.
- Wulf: Dovahkiin. You know that one!
- Rigmor: Smart arse!
- Vayu: Yes, Celestine told me that nickname for Wulf. It suits him.
- Wulf: For those interested in learning rather than picking on the poor Dragonborn, I could tell them the Tamrielic.
- Rigmor: We had better pretend to be interested. Otherwise, he will sulk.
- Vayu: Yes, please! I am so excited I will have to adjust my trousers!
- Rigmor: Eww!
- Vayu: Sorry. I forgot a lady is present.
- Rigmor: Don’t say it, Wulf. I can’t punch you in the nose, but I can reach other places.
- Wulf: Noble Nords remember these words of the Hoar Father – It is the duty of each man to live with courage and honour lest he fades unremembered into darkness.
- Rigmor: Uh, who is the Hoar Father?
- Wulf: A philosophical figure revered by the Nords. Nobody knows if he was an actual person or just a name used for anonymous authors of ancient lessons such as this one.
- Rigmor: Some of Dad’s friends used to say, ‘by the Hoarfather!’ when expressing surprise.
- Wulf: Well, Bruma is a bit backward because it is full of smelly Nord barbarians.
- Rigmor: Wulf, yava zuubka!
- Vayu: Did you just swear at Wulf in another language?
- Rigmor: Yes. I told him to get fornicated in Ta’agra.
- Vayu: I congratulate you on such exquisite knowledge of a complex language to master.
- Rigmor: They are the only words I know, and I lived in Elsweyr for four years.
- Wulf: And I taught them to her very recently.
- Vayu: Well, it is a start.
- Wulf: Rigmor read and learned a lot in those four years. She also became very adept at killing Thalmor.
- Vayu: Congratulations!
- Rigmor: Thank you.
We returned to the puzzle we had seen earlier.
- Wulf: There are multiple lowered portcullises and three columns. Each column has a picture of a dragon using The Thu’um.
- Rigmor: I think that as you walk past each column, one or more of the portcullises will rise. Then you will have to rush through and pull a lever or something to stop them from lowering.
- Wulf: I know a Shout called Whirlwind Sprint that will let me move quickly. It is not as good as Blinking. I told Master Arngeir that The Voice is only one tool at my disposal and won’t always be the one I use.
- Vayu: The Greybeards probably thought you would be meek and mild and begging for their assistance.
- Rigmor: That is precisely what they thought. Wulf was not overly polite with them, but he kept his temper in check.
- Wulf: Barely.
- Vayu: Well, go on then. We shall stand and watch and collect your body if something terrible happens.
- Wulf: Such kindness, and I hardly know you.
- Rigmor: Waiting…waiting…waiting….
- Wulf: Try counting to five, Rigmor. That will keep you busy for at least ten minutes.
- Rigmor: Still waiting…waiting…waiting….
I ran through the centre of columns, and all the portcullises rose.
Then I Blinked and pulled a chain to stop them from lowering.
I waved, and Rigmor and Vayu ran to me.
I warned, “Careful where you step. The fire traps won’t hurt with the dweomer on your armours, but the gas they use smells terrible.”
Giant spiders came into view, so I used Heat-Vision to check for hidden ones.
I took care of two of them and then looked up.
A colossal spider dropped from the ceiling but died before hitting the ground.
There were a few tiny spiders beyond some thick webs. They would not attack us.
I used Flames to burn away the web, and we entered a short corridor with a locked door at the end. Some deft lockpicking opened it.
We entered another short corridor with a lowered portcullis at its end.
A pull chain raised the portcullis, and we entered the chamber. Jurgen Windcaller’s tomb was at the end of a long walkway surrounded by water.
I used Zoom-Vision to have a closer look.
- Rigmor: Wow…just…wow!
- Wulf: Fuck…just…fuck!
- Vayu: We don’t have your fancy dragon eyesight, Wulf. Can you see a problem?
- Wulf: Yes. The Horn is not where it is supposed to be. It looks like a note is in its place.
- Rigmor: You mean to tell me we did all that, and somebody beat us to it.
- Wulf: I doubt they used the same route as us. There must be a backdoor.
- Vayu: Remember the bandits with the slit throats? Whoever it was probably tried the route we took and decided they could not use it.
- Rigmor: Then they found another way into here.
- Wulf: This will be another test of Whirlwind Sprint. The water will rise when I step onto the walkway. It will probably keep rising if I don’t step close to the tomb.
- Rigmor: Drown the grave robber. What a fun game!
- Wulf: I might as well use the Shout. The Greybeard squeaked, which is not what I imagined a Shout by a Tongue would sound like. Don’t laugh if I sound like a mouse!
I stood on the walkway, and the water started to rise.
I used Whirlwind Sprint, and I sounded like a mouse.
Rigmor walked the length of the walkway before losing control. In between guffaws, she asked, “Wulf, are you a man or a mouse? Squeak up so I can hear your answer.”
Vayu joined in the hilarity while I studied Windcaller’s tomb.
His name was inscribed in Daedric. That is not unusual at the time of his death, and there is no ulterior reason for it.
A fairly ornate sword was leaning against the sarcophagus. I touched it and could sense no dweomer. I didn’t think it had any historical significance, so I left it alone.
I retrieved the note. The other two were just starting to calm down.
“If you two have finished, I would like to read this note to you.”
Rigmor replied, “I’m sorry, Wulf. Would some cheese earn my forgiveness?”
Another thirty seconds of laughter followed.
I used the Thu’um and said, “ALBATROSS!”
Dust, and more worryingly, small ceiling pieces fell into the water and onto the two braying donkeys.
- Rigmor: Hey, don’t bring the roof down!
- Wulf: Why not? I would find that hilarious.
- Vayu: I think Wulf is angry.
- Rigmor: Yep, he is a grumpy bum.
- Vayu: You have so many good names for him! You will have to write them down so we can all learn them.
- Wulf: I am now going to read the note. Whether or not you pay attention is irrelevant.
I need to speak to you. Urgently!
Meet me at the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood, and I’ll meet you there.
- Rigmor: That bitch! I will shove Windcaller’s Horn up her ass and then my sword!
- Wulf: Ooh, foreplay!
- Rigmor: Perverted weirdo.
- Vayu: Delphine?
- Rigmor: No, Wulf.
- Vayu: I was asking who wrote the note. It is a given that Wulf is a perverted Weirdo.
- Wulf: Yes, it was Delphine. And Rigmor, take Windcaller’s Horn out before using your sword. We don’t want to damage it.
- Vayu: Does Delphine know you are The Dragonborn?
- Wulf: Well, she addressed the note to Dragonborn.
- Vayu: She is interfering with someone with Dragon Blood. Someone she is sworn to obey.
- Rigmor: Why is she sworn to obey Wulf?
- Wulf: I forgot to tell you. Delphine is a Blade.
- Rigmor: Oh! Would she have the skills to kill those bandits, sneak back out, find another entrance and use it?
- Wulf: It depends on what doors block the other route and what locking mechanisms are used. She might have found a different route that bypassed the portcullises and columns.
- Vayu: She must have approached the tomb from the other side. Otherwise, she would have triggered the water trap.
- Wulf: It doesn’t matter how she managed to take the Horn. She ignored my warning, and I will not go easy on her.
- Rigmor: You will give her a chance to explain, I hope.
- Wulf: Yes, of course.
- Rigmor: You can teleport to Riverwood. Are we going straight there?
- Wulf: Let’s look for the other route first. If Auryen says I was an idiot for leaving the sword, I might have to return.
A door behind the tomb was a good clue to the other route.
It opened into a small treasure vault which would have been the objective of the bandits.
A hidden door was already lowered, which meant someone had broken the locking mechanism.
Another hidden door was up. A lever opened it from the tomb’s side.
Vayu said, “I don’t know how to bypass it from the other side. But Delphine was a saboteur and spy. She may very well have the skills and knowledge.”
“Well, the other door’s mechanism was broken. I assume that is a risk if you interfere with them.”
“Maybe we can tie her to a chair and tickle her with a feather till she tells us how she did it.”
“Or you could sing to her? No, on second thoughts, that would be too cruel.”
We opened the hidden door and found ourselves in familiar territory. All Delphine had to do was bypass two doors.
We quickly made our way outside.
I exclaimed, “A female Draugr!”
Rigmor replied, “And her boyfriend. Go on, Wulf. Chop them down.”
“It’s a female Draugr!”
Vayu killed the female with Lightning. Rigmor cut the male in half with a mighty swing of her sword.
I sheepishly turned around.
- Rigmor: Wulf, female Draugr can kill. So can their male counterparts.
- Wulf: I didn’t even know they existed!
- Vayu: In all fairness to Wulf, neither did I.
- Rigmor: We might just have killed something unique?
- Wulf: Maybe. Perhaps there is plenty of female Draugr, but we never see them?
- Vayu: They are at home looking after the cute baby Draugr.
- Wulf: You should be ashamed for accusing Draugr of outdated sexism.
- Vayu: You’re right. They might be very progressive for all we know.
- Wulf: She may have been their foreman or other higher rank.
- Vayu: Yes, I think we must regard being a Draugr as an equal opportunity career.
- Rigmor: Guess what, Wulf?
- Wulf: Weird?
- Rigmor: Yes, both of you.
- Vayu: That is one of the most beautiful things anybody has ever said to me.
I looked up but could only see a few stars through the clouds.
- Vayu: Thinking of your mother?
- Wulf: Yes. I have no idea where she is and why it is a secret.
- Vayu: You trust The Nine.
- Wulf: Yes, I do, but that does not stop me from wondering what it is all about. Rigmor wants to find her mother, and me staring at the stars is not going to do that.
- Rigmor: We beat up Delphine, take the Horn to the Greybeards, they wet their pants over it then call you Ysmir. Then we go to that port, fort, whatever it is and get that list.
- Wulf: If we are lucky, a particular general will be there.
- Rigmor: I know you hate torture, but it would be a shame to kill him quickly.
- Vayu: A personal grudge?
- Wulf: It is the arsehole who had Rigmor whipped and beaten.
- Vayu: You witnessed the last whipping.
- Wulf: Yes, I did.
- Vayu: Do you want me to come with you?
- Wulf: I think I will take Lydia and Celestine.
- Vayu: Good idea. I think Lydia would like to prove herself.
- Rigmor: And Celestine can provide emotional support if needed.
Okay, I will teleport to the outskirts of Riverwood and then summon both of you.
I appeared out of the ether in front of a guard. It was the one who witnessed me kill six Thalmor with six arrows.
“I am sorry if I startled you, guardsman.”
“Ah…I was going to visit the quartermaster for a new set of boots. I might as well ask for new underwear at the same time.”
“Was it that much of a shock?”
“I will be okay, Thane. Just a bit uncomfortable, and I must remember not to sit.”
“Any sign of dragons?”
“Ah…I thought I saw one sneaking behind the general store. But when I investigated, it was just a cat. It jumped out at me. That was my other pair of underpants ruined. Hence, ah…my need to see the quartermaster.”
“You only get issued two sets of underpants?”
“Well…ah…the quartermaster was in The Legion for many years in the warmer climates of Cyrodiil. You know, where they don’t have pants and go rogue. Underpants are a foreign concept to him. But he is learning that guards require several new pairs regularly.”
“Do you know if Delphine is at her inn?”
“Yes…ah…she ran past not long ago and entered it.”
“Thank you for your help, guardsman.”
“I am glad to serve, Thane.”
As the guard walked away, I summoned Rigmor and Vayu.
Rigmor asked, “Why the delay?”
“Oh, I was discussing underwear with a guard.”
“How silly of me. I should have known.”
We headed for the inn.
“Vayu, go invisible. Don’t make an appearance till I say so. You are to be a witness to what occurs.”
“Okay. The noise and smell of the inn should help me remain undetected.”
“Rigmor, stay away from me until you see Delphine approach me. Then join us.”
“Do you think she might get paranoid if we are both waiting for her?”
“Yes, and I don’t want to make her think she is in danger.”
We entered, and the inn was quite busy.
I made my way to the bar.
“Good evening, barkeep. Can you please tell Delphine her friend from Ustengrav is here?”
The barkeep yelled, “Delphine, some giant in red armour is here to see you.”
Delphine yelled back, “Tell him to wait in the empty guest room!”
I headed for the empty guest room.
Delphine approached. I was surprised she wasn’t armed.
“So, you are The Dragonborn I’ve been hearing so much about.”
“I told you I was. And I warned you not to interfere.”
“I think you’re looking for this.”
Delphine held out the Horn. I took it from her and glared.
“We need to talk but not here. Follow me.”
“Rigmor of Bruma will be joining us. Object to that, and we walk away.”
“I noticed her at the far end of the inn. She can come.”
Rigmor joined me. I whispered to her, “I want to deal with Delphine. Please let me and her talk.”
“Okay. I promise to be quiet and maybe resist the urge to strangle the bitch.”
Heat-Vision let me know Vayu was following.
We followed Delphine into her bedroom. She asked me to close the door. As I did so, the barkeep glanced over and probably wondered what debauchery Delphine planned.
To my utter disbelief, Delphine had the biggest cliché’ going. A false back to the only cupboard in her bedroom. Who did she think that would fool?
We followed Delphine down some stairs and into her ‘secret’ basement.
Delphine leant over a map, obviously a copy of the Dragonstone, and glared at me. Rigmor stood behind me and to my right, flexing her hands.
- Delphine: The Greybeards seem to think you are the Dragonborn. I hope they’re right.
- Wulf: They don’t think so. They know so, as do I and the Dov and The Divines.
- Delphine: I hope so. But you’ll forgive me if I don’t assume that something’s true just because the Greybeards say so. I just handed you the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. Does that make me Dragonborn too?
- Wulf: Retrieving the Horn was not a test to see if I was Dragonborn. Therefore, your comment is both flippant and idiotic in the extreme!
- Delphine: Luring you here was the only way I could make sure it wasn’t a Thalmor trap. I am not your enemy. I already gave you the Horn. I’m actually trying to help you. I just need you to hear me out.
- Wulf: You had better start explaining and fast.
- Delphine: I’ll explain what I want, when I want, got it? You’d already be dead if I didn’t like the look of you when you walked in here. But I had to know if the rumours about you were true.
Rigmor was about to rip Delphine’s throat out, so I turned to her and slowly shook my head. She sighed and remained still.
- Wulf: And what makes you think you could help me?
- Delphine: I’m part of a group that’s been looking for you… well, someone like you, for a very long time. If you really are Dragonborn, that is. Before I tell you any more, I need to know I can trust you.
- Wulf: Why are you looking for a Dragonborn?
- Delphine: We remember what most don’t and that The Dragonborn is the ultimate dragonslayer. You’re the only one that can kill a dragon permanently by devouring its soul. Can you devour a dragon’s soul? Can you do it?
- Wulf: I wouldn’t call it devouring, and I have no choice in the matter. But I knew I was Dragonborn before absorbing my first dragon soul. I absorb a dragon’s Life Force and in doing so, gain its knowledge of the Thu’um. If I don’t know how to use a Word of Power, I gain that knowledge.
- Delphine: Good. You will have a chance to prove it to me soon enough.
- Rigmor: What? The Dragonborn doesn’t need to prove anything to you! I saw it with my own eyes.
- Delphine: Excuse me if I don’t believe the word of whoever you are.
- Wulf: You know who Rigmor is. You should like her. She kills lots of Thalmor.
- Rigmor: And rude bitches who steal horns.
- Wulf: We have the Horn, so what stops us from leaving?
- Delphine: I shouldn’t let you walk out of here, knowing what you know. But I guess even my paranoia has its limits.
- Wulf: If you try to reach the katana next to you, I will draw my sword and slice you in half. Or smash you against the wall with The Voice and break every bone in your body. Or I could set your soul alight and watch you explode.
- Rigmor: Wulf kills dragons. I don’t think you would stand a chance.
I said, “Vayu, explain things to Delphine.”
Delphine reacted with the speed of somebody far younger than herself. But Vayu was a warrior twice her age and with twice the experience, plus he had the element of surprise. He held his spear inches from Delphine’s throat.
He growled, “I am Vayu, Grandmaster of The Dragonguard and sworn protector of The Dragonborn. If you move an inch towards your katana, I will not hesitate to kill you.”
I used the Dragon Aspect Shout and was surrounded by translucent armour available only to Dragonborn.
I moved around the table slowly.
- Vayu: Delphine, you have verbally threatened the life of The Dragonborn, not once but twice. He is a person with Dragon Blood, who The Blades are sworn to serve. The sentence for such insubordination is death.
- Wulf: Delphine, you ran when a dragon threatened Whiterun. Such cowardice is also a capital offence.
- Delphine: I was only doing my duty. I am trying to help Skyrim and The Empire.
- Wulf: I know, and that is why you will be given a chance to do so by aiding me, The Dragonborn.
I nodded to Vayu, who sheathed his weapon and moved to Delphine’s right. Delphine was shaking and lent on the table once more. I moved behind the table and to Delphine’s left while Rigmor stayed on the other side.
- Wulf: My name is Wulf, but you already knew that. I have known my whole life I am Dragonborn. I am Champion of The Divines and was sent by them to deal with Alduin.
- Rigmor: If you had fought Mirmulnir with us, you would have heard him name Wulf as Dovahkiin. You would have seen Wulf absorb Mirmulnir’s soul and use The Voice.
- Vayu: The Dragonguard knew of Wulf and recognised him as Dragonborn. They spent four years training him.
- Wulf: The translucent armour you see is a Shout that only Dragonborn can use.
- Vayu: Your dislike of The Greybeards and justifiable paranoia of The Thalmor have affected your judgement in this matter.
- Wulf: Delphine, do you now recognise me as Dragonborn.
- Delphine: Yes.
- Wulf: Then welcome to the team, Delphine. I think your skills and experience will aid the other Blades and me.
- Delphine: Other Blades?
- Vayu: When the White-Gold Concordat was signed, many Blades went into hiding all over Tamriel. A group of us opted for Akavir instead. Lord Talos visited The Dragonguard and told them that we were coming. They intercepted us before we reached the Akavir mainland. If we had set foot on Akavir, we would have been killed, or worse. The Dragonguard took The Blades to their headquarters on one of the Akavir islands. Most of The Blades were apprentices. They had no field experience and little training. The Dragonguard Grandmaster offered them the chance to join their ranks. The Blades were warned the training was brutal and tested both physical and mental resolve to their limits. Every Blade accepted the offer. They all passed the training, but many are physically or mentally scarred. I am no exception.
- Wulf: I will not tell you how many Blades have returned or where they are. You know why.
- Delphine: If one is captured and tortured, they cannot reveal where the others are hiding.
- Vayu: It is a wise precaution. The Dragonguard were also being hunted and adopted the same tactic.
- Wulf: You and Farengar realised all the omens of the prophecy had been met. You prepared for the return of Alduin. I have spent four years preparing for his return. The Divines knew of his imminent return and sent me to Akavir, where I received training from The Dragonguard and The Psijic Order. Lord Talos directed the Dragonguard to the fleeing Blades so they could aid me in the Divine given task of stopping Alduin enslaving mortals once more.
- Delphine: I was hampered by my need to hide from The Thalmor. Jarl Balgruuf was the most senior noble I could approach. He was waiting for proof before speaking to the emperor. Farengar and I were gathering proof when you and Alduin made your appearance. I thought the dragon attacking the watchtower might have been Alduin and that fighting him was futile. As the one gathering proof for Jarl Balgruuf, I judged my survival was of more use than a suicide mission.
- Wulf: Farengar did not tell you who I claimed to be.
- Delphine: No, I didn’t know till you told me. Farengar can be a bit egotistical and challenging at times, but he has put great effort into researching dragons for me.
- Wulf: Did you know it was Alduin that destroyed Helgen.
- Delphine: You mentioned Alduin, but I had not been told he was the one who destroyed Helgen. Was that another detail Farengar forgot to mention?
- Rigmor: Yes, he also convinced Jarl Balgruuf that Wulf was not The Dragonborn. That is why Wulf called him a pompous puss-filled bottom pimple.
- Delphine: An apt description.
- Wulf: How did you know we would be sent to fetch The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller?
- Delphine: The Greybeards are predictable. If they thought you were Dragonborn, I knew they would send you to fetch the Horn.
- Wulf: Please, Delphine, do not lie to me. The need for that is over. The Greybeards have never sent a Dragonborn to fetch Windcaller’s Horn before. The is no precedence in history or myth for the task they gave me.
- Vayu: Okay, Wulf, what was the sequence of events?
- Wulf: Delphine had people spying on us. She discovered we were travelling on a comfortable, safe but slow carriage to Morthal and guessed why. She rushed to Ustengrav and killed the guard outside the door and another just inside the door. Delphine either knew of the shortcut or discovered it. Using it, she did not need the Thu’um or have to fight her way through. Delphine is a trained spy, assassin and saboteur. Her record before and during The Great War is a testament to her expertise. Delphine bypassed the lock mechanisms, breaking one of them, grabbed the Horn, left her note and scrambled back here as quick as she could. She arrived back in Riverwood not long before us, which means she must have taken the Horn before the necromancers had breached the inner sanctum and while Rigmor and I were still hours away from Morthal.
- Vayu: Well, Delphine, how did he do?
- Delphine: That is correct.
- Wulf: There are other dangers facing The Empire. The dragons will slowly increase in numbers, but they cannot be my priority at the moment. We know how Alduin gathers the Life Force to restore the buried dragons, but I think returning dragons will far outnumber those.
- Delphine: What could be more of a threat than Alduin? Where does he get the Life Force?
- Wulf: Sorry, but you will not be involved in dealing with the other threat, so I shall not tell you what it is. His Imperial Majesty is formulating plans on dealing with the threat. It may become apparent to all what that threat is if our worst fears are realised. All we can do is hope the number of dragons increases slowly, and we still have time to deal with Alduin before a second Dragon War is a reality.
- Delphine: And the Life Force?
- Wulf: This is a demonstration of the trust I am willing to give you, Delphine. Only a handful of people know the truth. Alduin is consuming the souls in Sovngarde. Like the dragons whose Life Force I absorb cease to exist, so do the deceased in Sovngarde. Even Arkay’s Rights cannot protect them. The public can not know of this! Not until we have a way of defeating Alduin.
- Delphine: No, no, that is horrific. The public would panic and demand action, and, well, chaos would result.
- Rigmor: The comfort of knowing your deceased loved ones enjoy their afterlife will be removed. It is heart-breaking.
- Wulf: And the civil war is giving Alduin an abundance of new souls on which to prey. That is if he is intercepting newly arrived souls. He may have breached The Hall of Valour.
- Delphine: What now?
I moved to stand next to Rigmor. Delphine was close to tears.
“Delphine, we accept you were doing what you thought was for the best. Continue your research with Farengar and whatever else you think might aid our fight with Alduin. Just be careful your prejudices and paranoia don’t impact your decision making. When next we meet, I will be hunting Alduin without distraction and will need your assistance.”
“I am sorry, Dragonborn.”
“I know. Take care, Delphine.”
We exited the inn.
- Vayu: That was handled well.
- Rigmor: I kind of felt sorry for her. Well, I felt less of a need to strangle her and shove my sword up her backside.
- Wulf: It is hard to fault somebody who genuinely believes they are doing their best to safeguard others. Nothing Delphine did was for herself.
- Vayu: What now?
- Wulf: Rigmor and I will visit High Hrothgar. I want you to ask Auryen if he can find information about a person called Miraak. He claims to be Dragonborn, and I think he is on Solstheim.
- Vayu: The name is vaguely familiar. Have you asked The Divines?
- Wulf: Not yet, as he is not our priority at the moment. Miraak has assassins looking for us. We killed two in Whiterun. Their outfit is monk-like but with Dragon Priest type armour along one arm and gauntlets. They wear masks made of Dragonbone that are reminiscent of Hermaeus Mora. The two we encountered were mages of middling strength and Dunmer. One of them was Ashlander. I don’t know if the other one was. Take this note. It tells you more.
I handed Vayu the note that Miraak’s Goon was carrying.
- Vayu: What language is that?
- Wulf: Dunmeri. Auryen will translate it for you.
- Vayu: Any other threats to The Dragonborn that he has failed to mention? Not that the Grandmaster of the Dragonguard needs to know.
- Rigmor: You need to practice your sarcasm, Vayu.
- Vayu: It is easier for smart arses.
- Rigmor: True, Wulf does have that advantage.
- Wulf: Let me think. Thalmor, Dragons, Miraak’s Goons, bounty hunters and The New Order. That covers everybody currently hunting us, but I am sure we will add to the list.
- Rigmor: No doubt. Your diplomatic skills guarantee it.
- Vayu: After The Greybeards, will you search for Rigmor’s mother?
- Wulf: That’s the plan.
- Vayu: Well, be careful, my friends and I know you will look out for each other.
- Wulf: And you be careful, Vayu. The Thalmor will still have dossiers on The Blades that escaped.
- Vayu: I wonder what the bounty is on me?
- Wulf: Oh, at least fifty septims. Maybe even seventy-five!
- Rigmor: It was fun travelling with you and an honour to fight beside you, Vayu.
- Vayu: Likewise, Rigmor.
Vayu teleported to the Safe House.
Rigmor and I teleported to the steps of High Hrothgar.
“Rigmor, this will be an important and sacred ceremony. It has nothing to do with The Way of the Voice. It will repeat what they did for my Father and Wulfharth. It is a recognition that I have a Divine right to lead the people if I so desire.”
“But you don’t want to lead them, do you?”
“No, I don’t, and The Divines have not indicated that is part of their plans. I think I can do more to help all the people of Nirn in my current role.”
“Your life would be in greater danger if people knew who your father was.”
“Absolutely. Not only from a political standpoint but there are also Daedric Princes who would want me captured or dead.”
“I shall sit where I did last time.”
We entered High Hrothgar and went searching for Arngeir.
We found Arngeir preparing to pray.
I handed Arngeir the Horn but did not mention Delphine. I was not sure if the Greybeards knew dragon hating Blades lived not far from their home. Whatever the animosity between the two groups was of no importance to me at that moment.
Arngeir announced, “You have now passed all the trials. It is time for us to recognise you as Dragonborn formally.”
I held my tongue. Both of us knew it was not a trial.
The other three Greybeards appeared from different parts of High Hrothgar and stood at the compass points of the central square.
When they were in position, Arngeir said, “You are ready to learn the final Power Word of Unrelenting Force, ‘dah’ which means ‘push’.
I know it and dozens of other Words of Power and forty-eight Shouts, most of which only one other mortal knew.
Arngeir looked stunned.
I continued, “Through the door that you cannot open is a Shrine to Kyne. She and the other Divines gifted me the Words and Shouts to be better prepared to confront Alduin. They also knew I did not want to hunt dragons who did no harm and posed no threat. Such is the support they give me, their Champion. Yet mortal devotees of Lady Kynareth are content to play games, waste my time and risk my life. Recovering the Horn was not a simple task, and at no stage did it test my Thu’um.”
The Greybeards managed to look ashamed, and so they should.
I added, “I don’t want an apology, Master Arngeir. I want assistance when I ask for it. I do not want my morals, abilities, state of readiness, or other aspects of myself questioned. It is not your place to do so, for I answer to The Nine and my conscience. Both are of far superior authority and qualification to advise on my faults and weaknesses than The Greybeards. I also have my soulmate, Rigmor, to help me stay true to my purpose and her voice has the power to guide me.”
Silence, as Arngeir was at a loss as to how to proceed.
“Master Arngeir, can we please begin the ceremony and regard it as a new start between us.”
“Certainly. Stand between us, and prepare yourself. Few can withstand the unbridled Voice of The Greybeards. But you are ready.”
If Rigmor sits on the bench, will she be safe?
“Our Thu’um will be directed at you, Dragonborn. If Rigmor stays seated, she will not be in danger.”
Rigmor whispered, “I love you!” then made her way to the bench.
When she sat, I centred myself between The Greybeards.
Arngeir asked, “Are you ready, Dragonborn?”
“Yes, Master Arngeir. I am ready.”
“LINGRAH KROSIS SARAAN STRUNDU’UL, VOTH NID BALAAN KLOV PRAAN NAU.”
The first line of the Greybeard’s chant shook High Hrothgar, and the pressure on my body was immense. If it did not come evenly from all four directions at once, I would have been thrown across the room.
There was a brief pause before the second line of the chant shook High Hrothgar.
“NAAL THU’UMU, MU OFAN NII NU, DOVAHKIIN, NAAL SULEYK DO KAAN, NAAL SULEYK DO SHOR, AHRK NAAL SULEYK DO ATMORASEWUTH.”
I managed to glance across at Rigmor, and she was standing, staring open-mouthed at what she was witnessing. The shaking did not seem to unbalance her.
A second brief pause allowed me to quickly look around and see if there were any expressions at all on the Greybeards. Nothing. Blank. If this was important or noteworthy, they showed no signs of it being so.
“MEYZ NU YSMIR, DOVAHSEBROM. DAHMAAN DAAR ROK.”
The third and last line of the chant shook High Hrothgar even harder. I doubt the words would be heard far beyond the front door. The Greybeards utilised all the power of their collective Thu’um. Their power was now used to test me, not summon me.
High Hrothgar stopped shaking. Arngeir bowed, saying, “Dovahkiin. You have tasted the Voice of the Greybeards and passed through unscathed. High Hrothgar is open to you.”
“I am honoured to be named Ysmir, Master Arngeir. It is not a title I take lightly.”
“Paarthurnax told us you are entitled to it. He did not elaborate as to why.”
“Perhaps one day the reason will be shared. Entitled to it, I may be, but I will work tirelessly to meet the expectations that come with it and preserve its reputation.”
“You are wise beyond your years, Dragonborn. We shall aid you when we can. Sky above. Voice within.”
Arngeir did another quick bow then wandered off.
I walked over to Rigmor, who had a sort of glazed look on her face.
She said, “That was like…like….”
“Yeah, that was like wow!”
“Duh! What did they say when they were trying to shake the place apart?”
“Do you want it in Dovahzul or Tamrielic?”
“Do you want a kick in the cobblers or a kick in the cobblers?”
- Long has the Stormcrown languished, with no worthy brow to sit upon.
- By our breath, we bestow it now to you in the name of Kyne, in the name of Shor, and in the name of Atmora of Old.
- You are Ysmir now, the Dragon of the North. Hearken to it.
“Dragon of the North. That sound impressive!”
“It is Dovahsebrom in Dovahzul.”
“And what is the Stormcrown?”
“Some believe it is a formal title, such as king or emperor, derived from Talos’ use of The Thu’um. This is a passage from The Arcturian Heresy, one of the conflicting histories on Father.”
“That night, a storm came and visited Hjalti’s camp. It spoke with him in his tent. At dawn, Hjalti went up to the gates, and the storm followed just above his head. Arrows could not penetrate the winds around him. He Shouted down the walls of Old Hrol’dan, and his men poured in. After their victory, the Nords called Hjalti, Talos, which means Stormcrown.”
“Do you believe that is what it means?”
“Ysmir is the king of Dov and mortals. The Stormcrown refers to The Voice and is his crown.”
“Has your father ever told you how he became a god?”
“It is a taboo subject, and I think I know why. It is not a subject for a quick discussion, and to be frank if my assumptions are true, then I am more than a little disturbed at the implications.”
“Super gigantinourmous gobblygook.”
“Ah, is gigantinourmous a word?”
“Ysmir says it is, so it is!”
“Yeah, right. Pffft!”
“Something to eat, then sleep, and then we will head for North Harbour.”
“I am not hungry, Wulf. I want some quiet and to sleep. Will you take me to Breezehome?”
“Why not the Safe House?”
“I just want us. But I am not ready for the next step, Wulf.”
“Rigmor, I will not put pressure on you, and you know that. If you want to curl up on the main bed in Breezehome, I will be as happy as a pig in mud to sit on a chair and share our quiet.”
“How do you sleep in those things.”
“Usually with my eyes closed.”
“You must eat before we leave, though. Promise?”
“Yeah, yeah. I promise.”
“You are unsure about meeting Tilar, aren’t you?”
“I have put him out of my mind when we have been busy. But now, well, his face is in my head. His pompous voice and the pleasure he got from my whipping. He is evil, Wulf. He is the monster in my nightmares. You call them Night Terrors. Why is that?”
“With nightmares, your body reacts at the very end, as you move from sleep to consciousness. You might wake in a cold sweat and even yell or move suddenly, but that is a brief reaction. With Night Terrors, your body will react as if the terror and trauma are real throughout the dream. You groan, cry, yell, kick, wave your arms around, etcetera. It is similar if you have ever watched a dog run and bark in a dream. Night Terrors usually repeat themselves. There will be a few different ones, and a particular one might repeat several times in a row. Am I correct?”
“Yes. There are only a few. One involves the time Thalmor came and took my dad away. Another is the time they separated my mum and me. One of the worst replays Tilar laughing as he tells me what happened to dad. The most frequent involves lying, crying in a dark cell, and feeling utterly helpless and alone. And Wulf, another recently joined the list.”
“What is it, my beloved.”
“I see me, snarling, covered in blood and gore as I cut down soldier, cook, barmaid, wizard, blacksmith, everybody. I see my dragon, Wulf.”
“And what do you feel when you wake from that one?”
“Which is proof you are not that snarling, vengeful creature. Necessity made you that thing for a small amount of time. It does not erase what you are for the rest of the time.”
“We keep coming back to the killers inside us, Wulf. Will we always carry them within?”
“Whilst things are threatening us, our loved ones or just people in general, yes. Perhaps if we don’t use the darkness for a long time, it will shrink to nothing.”
“Take me to Breezehome so I can sleep without him intruding. Tomorrow we shall find that list, Wulf. And we shall find where mum is. And we shall tear down the walls between us and her and slaughter every fucking person who tries to stop us.”
I Recalled to Breezehome and summoned Rigmor. I left the bedroom as she disrobed and returned when she called me.
I sat on the chair and watched her enter blissful sleep, her breathing a regular, familiar rhythm that lulled me into sleep soon after.
Talos watched Breezehome from the street. Gods can feel anxious, which he did not know until he became one. If Wulf were to die, some beings, both mortal and god, would shrug their shoulders and say, “He has a place with his parents in Aetherius. It is no great tragedy.” What would be tragic is the effect on Rigmor. What would be tragic is his son never having experienced the whole gamut of mortal love. Its high and lows, good and bad. Even as gods, he and Alessia yearned for the experience once more. To love a partner and the children you share is the most precious of all things, even to beings who can think and create on a whim.
Wulf was one step closer to a ripple, a junction in the flow of time. None of The Nine knows for sure the outcome. A gambler might say it is an even bet if Wulf is alive or dead after the junction.
Yes, a god can feel anxious. They can also cry. Talos didn’t know that till he had a son. A son who may never enjoy a long life with his beloved Rigmor. A life that Wulf so deeply desires and deserves.
In stories, the gods grant wishes. Who grants wishes to the gods? Talos doesn’t know. If only he had Alessia to soothe his worries. He could lose both. Gods can also grieve.
Talos wiped away a tear and vanished.