Sundas, 31st Last Seed, 4E 201
Rigmor and I had spa-baths, separately, broke our fast, then teleported to the Safe House.
Rigmor wandered around, saying hello to whoever came within earshot. I looked for Lydia.
“Good morning, Lydia.”
“Good morning to you, Wulf.”
“Do you want to continue to use the sword and board?”
“It is what I am most comfortable with. I am used to smashing enemies in the face with my shield and then slicing and dicing them.”
“Well, it is what Vayu recommends so you can have your shield. Please change in to your armour while I place dweomer on your katana, shield and circlet.”
“Are we going somewhere?”
“Yes, you and Celestine are to accompany Rigmor and me to a harbour. It is being used for slaveholding and transportation by The Thalmor, or more precisely, The New Order.”
“The ‘hidden’ break-away group from Alinor?”
“Do I hear cynicism? Why would the largest and best spy network on Nirn know of a rebel force so large they threaten The Empire?”
“Yes, easy to conceal, I’m sure.”
“We shall be walking as I can’t react quick enough from horseback if a dragon dives on us.”
“Good. I was worried about getting flabby with all the good food here plus the soft beds.”
“It is west of Solitude, near the border. A reasonably long walk.”
“Oh, I know that area well. Bjorn and I used to hike in that area.”
“We will leave as soon as I have done the enchanting.”
I explained where we were going to Sakiya. Vayu was at Angi’s.
“That is not too long a walk, Wulf. What do you expect to find?”
“Bandits, rats, Skeever and Thalmor. It is funny how they assemble. Anybody would think they are one species.”
“There have been no more reports of dragon attacks, although they are becoming quite numerous.”
“They are waiting on their overlord to start the war.”
“Well, I hope you find something to help Rigmor. And I think Lydia will prove to be quite an asset to us.”
I finally got to say hello to Seiko.
“Wulf, hello and goodbye!”
“Off to The Temple of The Divines again?”
“Morning, lunchtime and afternoon prayers. Three different Divines each day going clockwise.”
“You do know you can pray to them from anywhere?”
“Yes, but I like the temple. It is serene, and everybody who enters is welcomed with genuine warmth. Even curious devotees of other pantheons are treated with respect and their questions answered without denigrating their beliefs.”
“They must have wondered where you came from?”
“The mask hides my Nord features. Many think I am from Hammerfell even though my skin is light.”
“People in Solitude are used to odd visitors. When you visit the docks and see the variety of vessels, you get some idea of how far and wide Skyrim trade routes extend.”
“Are you saying I am odd, Wulf?”
“Are any of us who lived on Akavir normal?”
“No, not after the training and fieldwork we undertook.”
“Any other reason you wear the mask?”
“I don’t get brutes trying to woo me with terrible pick-up lines. Why do men think that all women with a pretty face want to sit on their face?”
“I don’t! It tends to stifle conversation.”
“If you ever do become a bard, stick to the singing and storytelling. Your humour will get you lynched.”
“Hey, Seiko, have you heard about the Nord who couldn’t say ‘Yes’?”
“No, Wulf, I haven’t.”
“He was a know it all!”
“Is there a punchline?”
“No…it…all…Because he couldn’t say yes. Get it?”
“I will pray for you.”
I went to the workroom and found Rigmor scraping a hide.
“Wulf, I haven’t done this since I was a kid!”
“And you find it interesting?”
“Nah, just nostalgic.”
“Okay, I will be over here enchanting things. Have fun.”
With Rigmor happily scraping in the background, which can set some people’s teeth on edge, I used the Enchanting Table to place my usual dweomer on Lydia’s gear.
I handed Lydia her sword, shield and circlet. Then stood and watched some impressive sword forms as she tested her new weapon.
“Well?” I asked her.
“The sword is fantastic, and so is the bow you left for me.”
“That bow is Angi’s family heirloom. I told her we would put it to good use.”
“Are we going now?”
“Yes, I will gather Celestine and Rigmor and then we are off.”
The streets of Solitude can be pretty dark until the sun is much higher. It was much brighter once we reached the market district.
Rigmor asked, “Wulf, why are we yet to visit The Winking Skeever.”
“We haven’t had much chance to relax and visit any inn or tavern just for a drink and chat.”
“Drink, chat and brawl. I am a Nord, remember.”
“Well, I think The Winking Skeever might be a bit too refined for that. We shall have to find some hovel with cheap mead and cheaper furniture that hosts such frivolity.”
Lydia remarked, “If Wulf used words such as frivolity in those places, a brawl would be guaranteed.”
Rigmor laughed and added, “I know. What a milk-drinker!”
We exited Solitude, and I turned to the ladies.
- Wulf: I expect a few civil war skirmishes along the way. I will kill Stormcloaks that are fighting Legionnaires. If you are uncomfortable with doing so, stand back and watch.
- Rigmor: Wulf will not attack Stormcloak patrols.
- Celestine: I am comfortable with that. If Stormcloaks are trying to kill Empire soldiers, I will defend the legionnaires.
- Lydia: Even though Jarl Balgruuf has tried to remain neutral, he would like nothing better than to wipe The Stormcloaks from the face of Nirn. Every Whiterun guard feels the same. I, too, will defend the legionnaires.
- Wulf: Okay.
- Rigmor: Lydia, if Wulf sees a Thalmor patrol, they will not live. It doesn’t matter if they are not New Order.
- Wulf: I will let them attack first. It is their choice to die.
- Lydia: I have no problems with that either.
- Wulf: Good.
I said, “Every time I see that windmill, it reminds me of Anna’s farm.”
“Yes, there are a few dotted around Bruma. Who invented them?”
“The Khajiiti. But you won’t find that in any book in The Imperial Library.”
“Oh, no. You can’t have a beast race outsmarting Mer or Man!”
- Lydia: Wulf, what is that light?
- Wulf: That will be Meridia begging for help again. It seems nobody else has let her boss them around.
- Rigmor: Meridia told Wulf he has to clean out some necromancer from her temple. He told her no because she didn’t say please.
- Celestine: Wulf respects all religions even if he dislikes some deities.
- Lydia: I thought Meridia was one of the nicer Daedric Princes.
- Wulf: She is the only one I label evil. The other Dark Lords are as they were made at the beginning of the Kalpa. Meridia chose her role, and she is evil, Lydia, if you look beyond her façade.
- Lydia: Shouldn’t you at least get rid of the necromancer even if you dislike Meridia?
- Wulf: There are many things I want to attend to, but I have to pick and choose. It is a minor concern as long as the mischief remains inside Meridia’s temple.
- Lydia: Okay, I understand. You have to prioritise.
- Rigmor: Yeah, whatever that word means. That is what Wulf does.
- Lydia: Prioritise means he makes a list of things that need doing, and in Wulf’s case, sorts them by order of importance.
- Wulf: Some things are in a logical order. You would be silly putting on your pants before your underpants.
- Rigmor: Watch out, Lydia. Wulf will whip out his logic thingy without warning.
- Lydia: He could get arrested for that!
The three women laughed. Oh, why did I bring three of them? However, it was good to hear Lydia laugh.
We turned right just before the road from Solitude reached the town of Dragon Bridge. This road took us past Meridia’s Temple. A glance showed the light was out. Perhaps somebody has answered her call for help?
Not far past Meridia’s Temple, a Thalmor patrol walked to its doom.
“Good morning, Justiciar.”
“Out of our way, citizen. We are on important business.”
“Oh, sorry. It’s just that we were arguing whose Amulet of Talos was the best, and we’re hoping you could be an impartial judge.”
“You all wear an Amulet of Talos and admit to such heresy?”
“You are under arrest.”
“I am afraid not. You see, I am too busy to be placed under arrest. Now move along like a good little Justiciar.”
“Okay. You heard the nice Justiciar. Kill them!”
The Justiciar tried to cast a spell. Celestine cast Lightning then Inferno and killed her.
I killed one of the soldiers and Rigmor another.
Lydia took care of the third soldier, and the fight was over.
The Justiciar did not carry a Rigmor wanted poster.
We turned left at an intersection not far past the now dead Thalmor.
Some explosions in the other direction grabbed our attention.
When I looked, some Vigilants of Stendarr were battling a necromancer. The necromancer lost.
We continued toward the border. A moronic Nord charged us. One against four?
Unrelenting Force put him out of his misery and into orbit.
Lydia gasped, “The Voice. I never thought I would see, ah, hear it being used!”
“Well, that idiot was from that nearby fort. Many bandits are now attacking us. So, watch and enjoy!”
We spent several minutes ending the lives of dozens of bandits. They should have just let us walk past.
Even those in the furthest ramparts of the fort died when my Shout reached them.
A few bandits managed to get close enough for me to cut them down instead.
The three ladies killed many others with expert marksmanship and potent magic.
When all those foolish enough to leave the fort were dead, I proceeded to show them the power of The Voice once more.
I Shouted, and we watched as The Thu’um travelled swiftly toward the enemy.
As the Shout’s echo faded, it would be replaced by the shrieks of those it killed.
Sometimes they would fly through the air screaming. Their scream ended suddenly as their bones made a snapping sound when they hit the ground or wall.
After a couple of minutes, no other bandit dared show themselves, so we moved on.
- Lydia: Okay, my curiosity is satisfied. That was brutal!
- Wulf: My Thu’um is still weak. It will be more brutal as I learn to focus it better.
- Lydia: What other things can it do?
- Wulf: Terrible things, Lydia. Like some of the spells I know, I would hesitate to use some Shouts unless necessary. It is said powerful Tongues could destroy entire armies. Of that, I have no doubt.
- Celestine: Wulf has other powers gifted by The Divines that are equally as horrendous in Wulf’s opinion. Others with less reverence for life would use them without hesitation.
- Rigmor: Wulf calls himself an efficient killing machine. But he is not a machine. He thinks before he kills and doesn’t do it without a cost to himself.
- Celestine: Wulf remembers most of those he kills. Their faces and how they died.
- Lydia: Why?
- Wulf: It stops me from becoming blasé about death. I always try to minimise the need to kill.
- Lydia: But when you have to, you do it quickly and without mercy.
- Wulf: Yes. The Divines needed a mortal to kill for them. That was the emphasis of much of my training.
- Rigmor: How many have you killed since meeting me, Wulf?
- Wulf: Over four hundred people have entered my memory. Add at least another two hundred who have died from spells, and now Thu’um, that I did not register. Nearly two hundred undead of various types. Three dragons.
- Rigmor: One day, Wulf, we will not have to kill anymore.
- Wulf: That would be a blessing!
The blessing of no killing seemed like a forlorn hope not far from the fort. We ran over to help the Legionnaires.
Some idiot was sending Fireballs into the melee. Another mage controlled a bear that was happy to swipe at and maul both sides.
Another Fireball landed, and soldiers and bear were not pleased.
Anger turned on the mage who was on neither side but causing havoc.
Our Dance of Death ended when the last Stormcloak died. His shield was sliced into bits by my katana.
We walked on without a word to the Legionnaires, who were stunned by our display of efficient death.
Some goblins were fighting an unknown enemy. We would have let them be, except a deliberately aimed arrow hit Rigmor.
A Skeletal Warrior charged us, and Rigmor brought it down with her bow. She then ran past and narrowly missed being caught in a Cyclone Shout.
The goblins were tossed into the air. They either froze to death or died from impact upon landing.
Their enemy was a powerful but now dead necromancer.
The necromancer was on the steps of Volskygge.
- Wulf: I hope that idiot was working alone. Volskygge is the burial crypt of Volsung, a powerful and evil Dragon Priest.
- Rigmor: You said the necromancers don’t care and will open any sealed tomb.
- Wulf: Yes, and a being like Volsung would kill the necromancers, reanimate them and begin terrorising the area.
- Celestine: But we will not investigate.
- Wulf: No.
- Rigmor: It is low on your prioritising thingy.
- Wulf: Do you mean my list?
- Rigmor: Yeah, that is what I said.
- Lydia: I understood what a prioritising thingy was.
- Celestine: As did I.
- Rigmor: It must be his male brain.
- Celestine: Or that drop on his head when a small child.
- Lydia: Oh, I heard about that. Poor thing.
- Rigmor: Shh! He hates pity.
- Wulf: I wonder if I summon Vayu, he can help me against the three wicked women?
- Rigmor: Wow, you counted to three!
- Celestine: Without counting on his fingers!
I surrendered and kept silent.
We enjoyed a quiet walk for a few miles.
Then a bear decided it was his road, and we were trespassing.
The bear died.
- Wulf: I will use Kyne’s Peace Shout from now on. That will stop the animals from attacking. When I get stronger in The Voice, Lady Kynareth will make it a permanent blessing. No animals will attack me then and will defend me against aggressors.
- Rigmor: That would be cool!
- Lydia: Why would that be cold?
- Rigmor: Cool means excellent.
- Wulf: It means that only if you are a backward barbarian from Bruma.
- Lydia: I think that is a cool use for the word cool!
- Celestine: I couldn’t agree more, Lydia.
- Rigmor: So, smart arse, what have you got to say to that?
- Wulf: Albatross!
- Lydia: Should we laugh, or is that the head injury?
- Rigmor: He will become a grumble bum if we laugh.
- Celestine: Many of your names for Wulf involve references to the bottom.
- Rigmor: Dragonbum!
- Wulf: Yes, Rigmor?
- Celestine: I see your training is coming along well.
- Rigmor: Yeah, I will tackle privy training next.
- Lydia: You have no hope of winning the privy seat battle.
- Wulf: Instead of whining about us males leaving the privy seat up, how about you females look before you sit?
- Celestine: Most civilised people avoid looking down at the privy unless it is a long drop.
- Lydia: I was told the drop in The Blue Palace is so long that you can wipe yourself before hearing the splash!
- Wulf: What is this wiping thing of which you speak?
- Rigmor: Eww!
- Celestine: Yuck!
- Lydia: Disgusting!
- Wulf: I wonder if that would stop my underwear from being so stiff?
- Rigmor: You win. We surrender!
- Wulf: Ha! Tricked you! I wipe at least once a week!
- Lydia: Are you sure you love Wulf?
- Rigmor: It is starting to waver.
A small dog trotted past. It is probably a pet that has found a way to survive in the wild.
Snow started falling, which ruined the walk.
Another civil war battle made it miserable.
We eliminated a line of Stormcloak archers.
Then our Dance of Death began. When I had the chance to observe Lydia, she knew the correct steps and glided through the enemy.
The last Stormcloak fell, and we walked away from the carnage.
- Lydia: Wulf, what are you doing about the civil war?
- Wulf: It can’t continue if Alduin starts his war.
- Lydia: And if no truce is possible?
- Wulf: I will help General Tullius destroy Ulfric.
- Rigmor: Would some Stormcloaks abandon Ulfric if you oppose him?
- Wulf: Yes, I think many would. Nords revere Dragonborn but not because The Divines sent them.
- Rigmor: No, they are killers. That is what counts amongst the Nords.
- Wulf: And that is why Nords almost worship butchers like Ysgramor.
- Lydia: I feel that Wulf does not like The Companions.
- Rigmor: Hehe, that is putting it mildly.
- Wulf: If I was Jarl and Whiterun was attacked, I would demand The Companions help defend the city.
- Lydia: And if they didn’t?
- Wulf: I would march them out the front gate and seal up Jorrvaskr.
- Lydia: They would claim they have to remain neutral.
- Wulf: That option becomes invalid if Ulfric tosses fire and boulders indiscriminately over the walls of Whiterun. That is not battle but the murder of innocents. And I have no doubt a person who can murder his king has no limit to his ambition.
- Celestine: If you read the accurate histories, not the glorified Nord propaganda, then you would know what atrocities Ulfric practices. The elderly, mothers and children. He butchered non-combatants in Markarth well after the battle for the city was won. Yet those who follow him ignore this.
- Wulf: I hope they don’t ask me to sit on any negotiations for a truce.
- Celestine: We both know you hold the Rules of Parley in the highest regard.
- Wulf: Those rules don’t exclude me baring my arse at Ulfric and telling him to kiss it!
- Rigmor: Since you don’t wipe it, that would be particularly gross!
- Wulf: And hairy!
- Lydia: And the love level?
- Rigmor: Plummeting.
- Wulf: Hey, I can shave it!
I could see a white bear locked in a cage a while later. I kept quiet, but as soon as Rigmor saw it, she ran.
The bear had killed an Imperial soldier. By the condition of the bear, it has been badly mistreated. It has not consumed the soldier that it killed.
I smiled at Rigmor and said, “You don’t even have to ask. I will free the bear.”
“I am positive it won’t attack us, Wulf. And you don’t have to cast a spell or use that Kyne’s Peace Shout.”
“The bear is ill. It may lash out if confused. Do not get in its way if it wants to leave.”
“Okay. I think I will call him Mr Bear.”
“I can’t see enough to tell. It might be a Mrs Bear.”
“Nah, its face is the wrong shape.”
“Oh, we are a bear expert now, are we?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. I read a book!”
“A romance book with a bear in it?”
“Wulf, you know I read a lot of books, and not all were romance stories.”
“I believe you, Rigmor.”
Celestine and Lydia looked at me as if I was insane.
- Wulf: We can kill the bear if it tries to harm us, but I don’t think it will.
- Celestine: Why?
- Wulf: Instinct. I think Lady Kynareth has gifted Rigmor.
- Lydia: What makes you think that?
- Wulf: Instinct.
- Celestine: Sometimes, Wulf knows things without having read them about them or been taught them. He doesn’t know why or how. He just does.
- Wulf: As I said, it is instinct.
- Lydia: Okay, but I will have my sword at the ready.
- Wulf: No, please keep it sheathed. The bear might recognise a sword as a danger.
- Lydia: Okay.
Rigmor said, “Mr Bear, we are your friends. We are going to let you out!”
I said, “Mr Bear. We are friends, not food! We are friends, not food!”
Lydia quipped, “I think he can barely hear you.”
I opened the cage and pulled the soldier out. He has died from a single bite to the back of the neck.
The bear’s breathing was laboured.
I warned Rigmor, “He is in a bad way, Rigmor. I shall heal him, but I can’t promise anything.”
“Please, Wulf. Just try, okay?”
I cast Grand Healing then stepped aside.
The bear came roaring out, then fell over.
A few seconds later, he regained his feet then ran down the path.
- Wulf: Don’t look, Rigmor!
- Rigmor: Why?
- Wulf: He is showing his bare bottom!
- Rigmor: You have said that joke before.
- Wulf: Well, it is an oldie but a goodie.
- Lydia: More like mouldy and no goodie.
- Celestine: Lydia, that joke will seem funny if I drop you on your head.
- Lydia: Oh. I am sorry, Wulf. That was hilarious. We shouldn’t pick on your disability. Hahaha.
- Rigmor: All jokes, or whatever from Wulf, aside, that was quite something!
- Wulf: Yes, it was Rigmor. Instead of magic or The Voice, you used empathy to tame the bear.
- Rigmor: I did?
- Wulf: You did, and I am not joking. Just don’t go walking up to any wild bears, and expect to keep your head.
- Rigmor: Is that the path that thief told us to use?
- Wulf: I would say so. There is only one way to tell.
- Rigmor: Then hurry it up, Wulf.
- Wulf: Yes, Lady Ramsbottom. Your shoe excrement is eager to obey.
- Celestine: Oh, well done, Rigmor. He is almost tamed!
We paused at a gate.
I said, “Look for a well. That is our ‘secret’ entrance.”
It didn’t take long for us to find the well.
We entered into a narrow cavern with a stream running through the middle. I didn’t want to warn enemies of our approach, so I used Night-Vision instead of a lantern.
In the distance, we could hear somebody chipping away with a pickaxe.
A bandit was trying to extract gold ore from a rich looking deposit.
One arrow, one down, who knows how many to go?
Another bandit came but didn’t see the dead one in the dark.
She died as well.
Another bandit had their back to us.
And they died screaming.
The noise alerted yet another bandit.
They became the fourth kill in less than two minutes, and I was back to killing quickly and efficiently. I hope The Nine are proud of their monster.
A narrow corridor went left from where the last bandit was killed. There was a tripwire across it.
I yelled, “Help, intruders!”
When bandits appeared at the exit to the short tunnel, I killed them with Unrelenting Force. That also triggered the tripwire, which released a Morningstar that swung at head height.
The short corridor led to a guard room with an exit to the holding cages.
Rigmor sniffed, then whispered, “Ah, the aroma of home!”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, Wulf. I have had a few days to steel myself for this, thanks to a big softy.”
“A big softy who loves you.”
“I know, and I am still confused as to why.”
“If we had all day, I couldn’t list all the reasons.”
“Aww…get moving, you lump!”
In one of the cells was an old man. He had been beaten then thrown into the cell to die.
I growled, “Fucking animals!”
“Keep your dragon in check, Wulf.”
“Yes, Rigmor. He is not needed at the moment.”
“Are you sure this is the place? It’s too quiet!”
“I guess that old man would not make a profit on the slave auction block. He cost the slavers money just by existing. Yes, Rigmor, this is the right place.”
“Yes. I would hate to think more than one place like this existed in the same area.”
A young woman lay dead. The disarray of her clothes suggested rape. I turned away quickly and kept going.
I put up my fingers to indicate three people in the next room.
I waited for a jailor wearing an Imperial uniform to sit. My stomach churned at the sight of filth desecrating the uniform.
An arrow killed him silently and quickly. It was too clean a death for his kind.
Another worthless piece of shit looked at the dead one and started searching for us.
An arrow to the head ended his life.
A moron in an executioner’s outfit came running at us.
The kinetic energy from my arrow made him somersault through the air. He was dead before he landed.
I could not believe the hatred the sight of these men generated. If we ever kick The Dominion out of The Empire, we need to send Imperial traitors with them.
I whispered, “At least six Thalmor in the next room.”
I put my bow away and drew my sword.
At the doorway, I yelled, “For Talos!”
The Thalmor came running in their eagerness to die.
The Thu’um echoed like a violent thunderstorm, one Shout after another.
The Thalmor lay dead.
Now, if I was in a building and The Thu’um echoed throughout, I would investigate or at least be on alert.
I whispered, “Two enemies. One is sitting down and writing, and the other seems to be standing on guard. Neither seems curious why the building just shook with three Shouts.”
I put my fingers up to indicate three, not two, enemies.
Once again, Shout after Shout rocked the building and killed Thalmor.
I turned to the ladies.
- Wulf: Lydia, what would you do if you heard this racket?
- Lydia: I would set up archers behind some cover and wait for the enemy to approach.
- Wulf: You wouldn’t come charging into a room, stepping over dead bodies as you did so?
- Lydia: No, and that is why our soldiers will always be better than theirs. Guard or Legionnaire, we receive the same combat training. The defender can choose their ground and defend it while these idiots charge at us like they are the intruders.
- Celestine: If these are the best The New Order can muster, their armies will be slaughtered.
- Rigmor: Let them be stupid and die. I just want to see that list.
- Wulf: Come on then.
I whispered, “I am positive this time. One Thalmor is sitting. The other is standing guard. Both are deaf and did not hear the Shouts.”
A Grand Wizard was casually sitting and eating his last meal.
If he wondered what all the noise was, I let him know.
The moron on guard came running and died.
“Okay, ladies, and you, Rigmor, spread out and look for the list. It could be a book or loose paper.”
Rigmor whacked me on the back of my head as she passed.
We spread out, and it didn’t take long for me to find the list. I picked up the book and flipped through the pages, aware that each person listed was enslaved. If I could, I would rescue every one of them.
I called out, “Found it!” and the trio came running.
Rigmor asked, “You found it! What does it say? Is she on the list?”
“Yes, it says ‘Sigunn of Bruma, aged thirty-six. It says she is in a place called Diamond Ridge Mine.”
“Do you know where that is?”
“No, but we have plenty of resources to find it for us.”
“Let’s just get out of this terrible place, and then we shall decide.”
“Okay, we will follow you.”
It was easy to find our way out. We just followed the trail of corpses I created.
I climbed out first, and when Rigmor joined me, she suddenly pointed and said, “Dragonborn, there are Thalmor at the front entrance!”
I chased after her to see what we faced.
A Justiciar stood next to his horse. Thalmor, Empire traitors, dogs and mercenaries surrounded him. From the horror on Rigmor’s face, I guessed who he was. Her tormentor. The one who had her bashed and whipped. Tilar Aedriath.
I grabbed Rigmor by the wrist and said, “We need to capture him alive. This is not the time for vengeance!”
“Let go of me!”
“Not until you listen. There are lives at stake. We need to capture Tilar!”
Celestine said, “Listen to Wulf. We need him alive, Rigmor.”
Rigmor growled, “Okay, okay. Let go!”
The enemy dispersed and flanked us. Perhaps they knew how to fight against The Voice. It wouldn’t do them much good. I could kill Aedriath, so could any of the other three. But killing him will achieve little. He will just be replaced.
I used Zoom-Vision to have a closer look. Nothing was frightening about Tilar Aedriath. But then again, I wasn’t the woman who, as a teenage girl, was at his mercy. My hatred for Tilar was immeasurable, but I would not give in to my screaming Dovah and kill him. Alive, I would ignore my distaste for torture and return the whipping till he talked. Dead, he is just another face on my list.
His voice was effeminate, and I could only imagine what memories it stirred in Rigmor.
- Aedriath: Well, well, well, look what we have here, or should I say, look what the cat dragged in!
- Rigmor: Fuck you, Tilar!
- Aedriath: Ah! You do remember me, and I am flattered, really. But Rigmor, you have been making quite a bit of a nuisance of yourself lately, haven’t you?
- Wulf: Are you male or female? Or perhaps you are a neutered male? What a milk-drinker!
I looked around and noted where Tilar’s troops were. Lydia was doing the same. She looked at me, smiled, and did the universal finger across the throat signal. She knew the enemy was dead, even if they currently drew breath.
- Aedriath: Can you even begin to realise the trouble you and your friend have caused me? Running around Skyrim, leaving a trail of dead people? You know…that sort of thing. I am afraid, Rigmor, that it seems I will have to punish you all over again.
- Wulf: Tilar Aedriath, let me introduce myself. I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of the Divines. More importantly, I am Rigmor’s Guardian. Does your rabble want to face my Thu’um just because you are terrified of Rigmor, a teenage woman? Can you even begin to realise the power I wield?
Murmur’s spread throughout his troops as they looked worriedly at each other.
- Rigmor: There will be no punishment this time, Justiciar. I am not that defenceless child anymore. You will need more than your lash to punish me. Where are your Bosmer lackeys? It is a pity they couldn’t accompany you to their deaths as well. I would love to show them the courtesy they showed me in kind.
- Aedriath: Ahh! The Bosmer, ‘gangmasters’. Yes, I am happy to say they are still doing very well. The last time I saw them, they kept a perfect watch on their fields…from the top of the spikes that I placed their heads on. At least they couldn’t complain about the view, hahaha!
- Wulf: Do you know in the entire history of Nirn, not a single battle has been lost by the side The Dragonborn has chosen and fought beside? A single Dragonborn can and has wiped out entire armies! I killed three times this many inside the harbour. Yet this rabble is supposed to do what? Why should they die for a cowardly piece of shit like you?
Aedriath’s troops were getting very nervous. The Justiciar realised if he did not hurry, they would scatter and leave him to our mercy. He mounted his horse.
- Aedriath: But alas, Rigmor, no more time to chit chat! I don’t suppose I could persuade you and your friends to come quietly, now, could I? All this fighting and killing is quite tedious for a high ranking, noble gentleman like myself. Maybe we could start again where we left off and take time to reflect on older, happier times.
- Rigmor: Over my dead body!
I used my Thu’um and yelled,
“RIDE AWAY, JUSTICIAR! TELL YOUR NEW ORDER FRIENDS THAT RIGMOR OF BRUMA AND THE DRAGONBORN WILL SLAUGHTER THEM ALL. YOU HAD BETTER RIDE FAST AS THIS LOT WILL TAKE SECONDS TO KILL!”
Aedriath turned his horse and yelled, “KILL THEM ALL!”, as he rode quickly away.
We eliminated Tilar’s squad in less than thirty seconds.
“Come, Rigmor, and let us see where he went. I can hear a commotion not far from here.”
I started running towards the sound of battle with Rigmor and the others trailing behind.
We did not see Aedriath, but he saw us and yelled, “Ten thousand gold to whoever brings me their heads.”
We crested a rise and saw the bear we had released from the cage being butchered.
I remember little of the melee. It was a blur as I once again slaughtered without pause. Near the end, I witnessed the terrible dweomer I placed on Rigmor’s sword suck the Life Force from her opponent, like the Blood Magic of a vampire. It only happens when Rigmor is injured. It is insurance against her death.
The enemy corpses lay scattered. I stared at Mr Bear and almost wept. I knew if I did, Rigmor would collapse in tears.
Rigmor cried out, “Wulf, Celestine…help him…please!”
Mr Bear had attacked Tilar’s entire second squad by himself. He was covered in cuts, and arrows protruded from both sides of his body. He was still recovering from the first healing when he attacked. Where he got the energy to do so is beyond my knowledge. It shouldn’t have been possible.
I knelt and inspected the wounds. As I did so, Mr Bear tried to rise.
He collapsed, and Rigmor sobbed. Lydia held her.
I said, “Rigmor, he will survive. The arrows will be pushed from his body when I cast Grand Healing. Like before, he might be a bit off-balance at first.”
I cast Grand Healing. The arrows fell from his flesh, and Mr Bear slowly stood.
I stepped back, as I did not want him falling on me.
As expected, Mr Bear’s balance was not the best at first.
Finally, he looked at me, and I swear, he was smiling!
I stepped away, and Mr Bear approached Rigmor.
She waved and said, “Goodbye, Mr Bear, and thank you for your help.”
Mr Bear snuffled and then ran into the forest.
As Rigmor watched Mr Bear, Lydia whispered, “She is not ready to jump back into chaos. I know a place nearby where we can camp.”
I nodded my head then approached Rigmor.
- Wulf: Rigmor, I think you need to rest before we head back to Angi’s.
- Rigmor: I’m okay.
- Celestine: No, you are not. We are physicians, Rigmor, and we know how such a shock works.
- Wulf: You just saw your nightmares come alive, Rigmor. I don’t want to go back and get thrown into more chaos until you are ready.
- Rigmor: But my mum?
- Wulf: Sigunn will not be rescued by a daughter who collapsed due to nervous exhaustion.
- Lydia: When I held you, Rigmor, you were as clammy as death itself. Listen to them, please.
- Rigmor: Okay, okay. Where are we going?
- Lydia: Bjorn and I used to love walking in the less populated parts of Skyrim. I know this area well. There is a small camp over the ridge, about thirty minutes away.
- Rigmor: Here I am, sniffling over a bear and a weedy Thalmor. It should have been me holding you, Lydia.
- Lydia: Nonsense. I wanted and needed this trip. It might not be fighting Alduin, but it is doing some justice, which helps. I am over the crying, and now I can smile when I remember. I will miss him, but he would not want me to weep another tear. This short walk to the camp will allow me to remember my Bjorn and smile.
Rigmor hugged Lydia, and we climbed the ridge. I used Night-Vision as we went.
I looked across the water and said, “That is another vampire stronghold called Volkihar Castle. The Volkihars are one of the most ancient and strongest vampire clans. They have lived there for centuries, untouched by Imperial Law as they appear not to break any. I wonder if the story would be different if you looked inside?”
Night-Vision gave Masser a green tinge. Maybe it is made from green cheese?
As we entered a small valley, Lydia said, “We’re here. Just up some stairs ahead, there is a large tent. Celestine and I can set up some small tents below it.”
In the middle of the valley was a raised cairn. Rigmor asked, “Dragonborn, can we please talk?”
We walked a short distance to the cairn. Rigmor’s mood was dark.
“Rigmor, are you okay?”
“Dragonborn, this is getting scary.”
“It must have been a shock to see that prick. But we survived, and now Tilar is scared of both of us.”
“Yeah, we made it. Do you think that rat sold us out?”
“Sethri? I don’t think so. The gem I gave him was very generous. Tilar Aedriath could have snitches everywhere. He is supposed to be very good. The best.”
“The list. Can I see it?”
“Of course. Sigunn is on the second last page.”
I handed Rigmor the slaver’s list. She ran her finger over her mother’s entry then asked, “As you said at the fort, she has been taken to Diamond Ridge Mine. Do you know where that is?”
“No, sorry, Rigmor, I told you that before. It is not on my map, but either is this place.”
“Well, that’s cute.”
Rigmor returned the slaver’s list. I could tell she was scared.
Baa’Ren-Dar knew Rigmor’s tormentor was hunting her. He probably thought her anxiety would be too much if she knew beforehand.
I told Rigmor that Tilar was the one hunting her and gave her time to think about it. Yet seeing him has affected her far more than I expected. I dread to think what would have happened if he was a complete surprise.
I calmly explained, “Rigmor, we went to the harbour to retrieve that list and see if it told us where Sigunn is. We completed that task.”
“Yeah, right, look where it got us, nearly killed.”
“Did you even have to bloody your sword in the tunnels and fort? I slaughtered them all, Rigmor. Every single one of them! Tilar’s lackeys, both lots, we killed in seconds. We did not nearly die, but you faced your nightmare, and that was not easy for you.”
“Every time I feel closer to finding her, the further away she seems to get. We are going around in circles, and that bastard turned up. I don’t think I can carry on like this anymore.”
“Within days of starting the search together, we have found where she is. You didn’t even know what country she was in till today! We are close to finding her. Much closer than you have ever been and not further away.”
“And now you have got us lost!”
Like outside the New Gnisis Corner Club, I was a convenient target for Rigmor’s anger, fear and frustration. I expected it would end the same way. Rigmor will finally have vented all she had to, and I am happy to absorb it as long as that takes.
“We are not lost! I know exactly where we are and can teleport us to Breezehome, Angi’s, the Safe House, or many other places! We are doing well, Rigmor. We shall find this Diamond Ridge Mine and tear it apart to rescue Sigunn. We have to remain calm and think it through and use the resources we have available.”
“Don’t you tell me to calm down!”
“Rigmor, all I have done is help, so I have every right to ask you to calm down. But I said we have to calm down!”
“Help? You are just making things worse!”
“Did saving your life make it worse? Did finding the list make it worse? Tell me, Rigmor, how have I made it worse. We shall find Sigunn and bring her home!”
“I’m not strong enough. I can’t do this anymore!”
“Aedriath ran from our confrontation, not you. Every foe we have faced together has died, not you. You have fought beside me against dragons. Our enemies are terrified of your determination and strength!”
“Why are you saying that? Why do you even care?”
“Why does my heart skip every time you look at me? Why do I want so badly to hurt those who have hurt you? I love you, and I know for certain you love me. There is no mystery why I say these things.”
“Just get away from me!”
Rigmor ran away sobbing. I was unsure as to why.
When I saw her enter the tent, I paid attention to Celestine and Lydia.
Celestine said, “She will need your quiet, Wulf. Don’t take too long. I will set up the tents.”
Lydia asked, “What is this quiet that Celestine mentioned?”
“Do you know about when I first saw Rigmor?”
“Only bits and pieces. The Blades seemed to know all about it and happy you finally found her again.”
“It is a complex story which I will be happy to recite in-depth, but not now. If you haven’t guessed by now, I am kind of unique. I have lots of blessings and powers gifted by The Divines. But there are things even our gods can’t explain. One of them is what I call ‘Our Quiet’. When I am near Rigmor, we are both calmer and think clearer. Rigmor can still lose her temper like she just did. I am not denigrating Rigmor when I say it is like a child throwing a tantrum. Our Quiet eases our anxiety and worries. It replaces irrational fears and imaginary scenarios with certainty and logic. Like a child’s tantrum, Rigmor’s mood just then was not logical.”
“Yes, like saying you are further away from finding her mother and that we are lost.”
“Yes, and like a child whose temper has got the better of them, Rigmor lashes out. I don’t mind being the target of her venting. She knows it is wrong and will regret it later, but she should not feel guilt. Rigmor suffered the unbearable yet still smiles and laughs. I will let her yell and scream at me forever, as long as I get to see that smile and hear that laugh. They come from a place they should not exist.”
“Celestine told me that Rigmor suffers from night terrors.”
“Yes, and that is why I sit beside her while she sleeps. Out Quiet stops the night terrors, and Rigmor can get proper rest and even dream normal dreams.”
“She loves you with all her heart, Wulf. You don’t see what others do when she is walking behind you. She will often look at you and smile. She watches you kill and quietly weeps for you. It is a heavy burden The Nine have given you. It is a horrible history that Rigmor carries. Together, you support each other, and I have found it hurts to watch, as Bjorn and I were also soulmates.”
“Will revenge help?”
“It is better than nothing. What comes after revenge? I don’t know. Will revenge help fill in the hole that is inside me? The hole left by half my soul dying with Bjorn? Maybe not, but it will let me move on and find something that will make me whole again.”
“You are in our family now, Lydia. A family that will only grow, and I will soon have to find bigger accommodation. And as a family, we will be there for you.”
“The Blades are lovely. I can tell many are burdened with grief and sorrow and carry scars, physical and mental. But they are kind, and I see that you attract like-minded people. Those who care for others before themselves.”
“Funny, Rigmor said the same thing. I don’t think what I do is different, and I am amazed when people point out it is. I follow the Ten Commandments of The Nine Divines. The Empire is supposed to follow the same commandments but fails to do so. Much strife would be averted if they did.”
“I will go help Celestine with the tents. They are simple but seem to wrestle like sixteen armed octopuses. Or is it octopi? Whatever, you get the analogy, I hope.”
“Yes, I know. It is like the tents object to being used for the purpose they were made.”
“Go and see to Rigmor. I guarantee she is asleep.”
I lit the campfire and then checked Rigmor. She was asleep but acting out one of her night terrors.
I checked to see if they had won the octopus fights. They had.
“Lydia, say goodnight to Celestine for me.”
“Yeah, will do. She is off making yellow snow.”
“Goodnight to you, Lydia.”
“Goodnight, my Thane.”
Lydia laughed as I made my way back to Rigmor.
Rigmor was on her side, weapons still on her back. I know they won’t get in the way as my beloved never sleeps on her back. The pain is too much. The pain inflicted by Tilar Aedriath. He will learn to regret the day he harmed Rigmor. Before killing him, I will let my Dovah play with him like a cat with a mouse.
I sat in a chair and watched Rigmor relax due to Our Quiet. Her breathing took on its normal tempo as I closed my eyes and listened. It is like a lullaby. I remember my mother singing lullabies in different languages. I find it hard to think of her at the head of a vengeful army, slaughtering the Ayleid who had gone too far in their search for favours from the less palatable Daedric Princes. I also find it hard to see the darkness in Rigmor. It is hidden well. No matter how much I stare and search, I cannot find a trace of it.
I let Rigmor’s lullaby drag me into slumber.
I dreamt of a farm. It was our farm, and a little girl ran towards me with Meeko, tongue hanging to the side, trotting behind her. The wheat she ran through left remnants in her hair, and I did not doubt her clothes as well.
I knelt and held my arms out wide, and she ran into my chest, then squealed as I engulfed her in a bear hug. She laughed as I did one and a half circle as I stood so that we faced her beaming mother. I started picking bits of our wheat crop out of her curls.
“Come on, big weirdo and little weirdo, the fruit juice will get warm!”
I carried the giggling girl to our veranda and handed her over to Rigmor. Rigmor started to search our child’s hair. She exclaimed, “Your father is the worst curl cleaner ever!” The child laughed as Rigmor managed to find bits I missed and held each one up as evidence of my incompetence with a loud ‘tut’ each time.
Meeko happily drank copious amounts of water from his bowl. I know he is not a dog. Perhaps is some type of camel?
I sat on my chair and sipped my fruit juice. I could hear laughter from our neighbours, many fields away. It was hard to imagine there were once wars and killing. It has been years since I wore my sword.
I awoke with a start, for it was not a dream. It was my foresight showing a possible timeline. I looked at Rigmor and knew we would both risk everything to achieve what seemed like an impossibility. But it isn’t an impossibility. It is a possibility, and that fact made me smile as I fell asleep once more.
Down below, Celestine and Lydia talked deep into the night. Lydia wanted to know more about her Thane and Rigmor. She wept as Celestine told how I first met my beloved and what Rigmor had endured.