RESCUE

Middas, 10th Hearthfire, 4E 201

to Fredas, 12th Hearthfire, 4E 201

I tried riding by lamplight, but it did not penetrate the darkness far enough.

Therefore, I changed to Night-Vision, and it was like midday.

We passed a foal, and Hashire said, “She has lost her mother to a Sabre Cat. Her herd is not far away, and they will look after her. Another mare will suckle her.”

“You are not concerned?”

“If she stays and waits, she might survive. If she runs around panicking, she will be noticed and taken by a carnivore.”

“It is not far to the cave. You can return and assist the foal if you so desire.”

“I can’t sense any danger close nearby. But yes, I will come and assist her.”

“You told her to remain calm, didn’t you?”

“Wulf, you always ask if I can telepathically communicate with horses. The answer is so obvious that I wonder if you ever pay attention.”

“Well, why be so elusive? Can’t you give me a straight answer?”

“No.”

“No, you can’t talk telepathically to horses? Or no, you can’t give me a straight answer?”

“Maybe one or the other or both!”

“I give up.”

“The spectators go wild as Hashire wins again!”

Near the foal was the empty grave of Odahviing. I don’t know if I could survive an encounter with Alduin’s second in command.

We reached Boulderfall Cave. As soon as I dismounted, Hashire rushed off to help the foal.

I entered and saw a destroyed Skeletal Warrior.

A bit further in was another. In the distance, I could see a balding Altmer and a young Breton mage.

Two dead necromancers decorated the cavern.

As I approached, the Altmer said, “Ah! Just as I suspected. Rigmor’s Guardian alive and well.”

“You were told I was alive. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be sitting here waiting for me. Don’t speak bullshit to me, Malesam. It is one of the many languages in which I am fluent.”

I sat then said, “You, Jonte Malesam, are neither a mage nor a seer. I detect no Magicka in you, and your mistress tells you what she thinks you should know.”

I looked at the young mage. Her eyebrows rose when I said I couldn’t detect Magicka in Malsesam. Magicka divination is not a common skill.

I asked, “Master Mage, what is your name?”

“Cerys.”

“Cerys, I was trained by the Psijic Order. I know much that has been lost to The College of Winterhold. Did you dispose of the necromancers?”

“Yes, they were hostile.”

“Are you Jonte’s bodyguard?”

“No, I am his daughter.”

“You have my condolences.”

Cerys giggled. Malesam looked more pissed off.

I said to the fake seer, “Malesam, I will listen to you but don’t try and boost your importance in the scheme of things. You are a messenger passing on information and nothing more. Tell me what your superior has ordered you to tell me.”

Malesam stared as he fought with his temper.

I laughed then said, “Perhaps you have been trained only to answer questions? Let’s try the important one first. Where is Rigmor?”

“Only my Mistress knows where she is, but don’t worry, Rigmor is unharmed.”

“Unharmed? I cannot locate Rigmor’s soul, which means necromantic magics are being used to conceal her or that she is in another plane. I can’t summon her, which means she is unconscious or in another plane. Being dragged by Aedriath into a dingy cell in some dark dungeon is Rigmor’s worst nightmare come true, and you sit there and say she is unharmed! Once again, you parrot what you are told with zero first-hand knowledge. Let me speak to your mistress, not her courier!”

“What will I do if I don’t obey your demand? Kill me, and you’ll never see her again.”

“Look into my eyes, Malesam.”

I didn’t have to show Malesam my dragon eyes. Soul Gaze gave him a glimpse into the powers I possess. The unfortunate side effect is the gazer is paralysed for a few seconds.

Cerys gasped when her father went rigid in his chair.

I told her, “Relax, Master Mage. He will be able to move in ten seconds or so.”

Malesam could move about ten seconds later, and I allowed my yellow dragon eyes to show.

“I haven’t threatened you, Malesam, but you saw the power I possess. You now see the eyes of my Dovah. They are yellow with rage, and who knows how long I can resist the urge to rip your head from your shoulders? The appeal of violent answers is one of the unfortunate aspects of the blessings gifted by Lord Akatosh. Oh, didn’t you know I was The Dragonborn?”

Malesam’s stupefied expression was all the answer I needed.

“Neither you nor your mistress cares about Rigmor in the slightest. But you, Malesam, probably care for Cerys. She will die if I don’t stop The New Order, but not at my hands. So how about you save her life by just being an excellent little courier and passing on the information without pretending you are anything more significant than that? That way, you will survive this meeting.”

“Yes, we do have a vested interest, you and I. What The New Order is trying to establish is madness. They are blind fools trying to restore Tamriel to an ancient time long gone by.”

“The New Order hope to kill all Talos worshippers and erase him from history. This erasing will aid in the quest they share with The Thalmor. They desire the destruction of The Nine and linear time. They hope to become immortal and free spirits in the Aurbis like they once were. Aedriath should have been more careful about what he wrote in his journal. But everybody who looks behind the ‘Man cannot ascend to god’ argument knows that is the reason behind Thalmor hatred for Talos. The New Order just think they have a quicker way to reach the desired outcome.”

Malesam looked surprised. Cerys smiled.

I explained, “The Divines have made sure I am well educated and trained. I am a Master in all five recognised Schools of Magicka. I can speak and read several languages. I am a Swordmaster and Marksman. I have superior deduction skills and can smell bullshit from the other side of Nirn and pick locks and juggle! I am not just a killing machine, Malesam. I could also rip information out of your head and make you juggle. But since I consider mind-reading and manipulation evil, I won’t.”

Malesam continued, “Then you would not be surprised that only the upper echelons of The New Order know what is going on. They have bided their time for decades planning this so-called Restoration. Once I knew they were attempting to construct a portal gate, I informed my Mistress.”

“You are fortunate not to have been there when we came visiting. I would not have known you were a spy or cared before I killed you. Your Mistress would have had to hire another courier!”

“I serve my Mistress as Sethri serves his.”

“As I serve all The Nine and all mortals of Nirn. That is why I am willing to deal with your mistress. I assume she is a Daedric Lord and wants the Dragonborn to do something none of her couriers can do in exchange for the whereabouts of Rigmor. The histories are full of such bargains.”

“Yes, my Mistress requires your services, Guardian.”

“The name is Wulf. I don’t call you courier. Oh, I do, don’t I? Sorry about that. Please continue, Jonte.

“Before The Entity can enter as a Living God-King, he must own Scourge.”

“Malacath’s wonderful mace? That truly was a useful gift he created! It was last seen when The Nerevarine recovered it just before the Oblivion Crises.”

“Its power will subdue the Daedra, and The New Order will be free to cleanse Tamriel as they see fit.”

“The stupidity of that statement is beyond belief. But if that is what your mistress tells you, it must be true! The New Order is searching for it in Morthal. But which dig site, as there is plenty in that area?”

“Officially, it’s an archaeological excavation, but they are looking for the mace unofficially. However, they are digging in the wrong place, and fortunately for you, they believe you are dead.”

“Why would my death make the slightest difference to their search for Scourge? And why would their mistaken belief in my demise be fortunate?”

Malesam’s brow furrowed as he tried to come up with plausible answers.

I sighed and said, “Forget Scourge for a minute. Explain to me how Rigmor fits in with their plans.”

“Before The Entity can enter the realm of mortals, it must transform. But a sacrifice must be made for it to do so. The Nordling girl Rigmor is to be sacrificed on the ‘Altar of Restoration’ so The Entity can enter the mortal realm as a living God-King.”

“Rigmor is not an inanimate object known as a ‘Nordling girl Rigmor’. I warn you, do not continue to prove she means fuck all to you. Refer to her as Rigmor!”

Malesam flinched. I think he expects me to rip his head off. That is not going to happen, but fear is a valuable tool.

I sighed then asked, “What changed? They have been trying hard to kill her, and then she suddenly becomes crucial to their plans. Plans your mistress claims have been in place for decades.”

“At first, yes. The New Order had found another potential…replacement for Rigmor…another child of noble birth.”

“Rigmor is no child, so age has nothing to do with her importance. As for her nobility, there are thousands of offspring of those whose noble status has been bestowed, not inherited. What makes the ‘potential replacement’ and Rigmor different from all the others?”

“Let me tell you a little story.”

“If it is facts about Rigmor, then go ahead. Otherwise, no thanks.”

“Many years ago, a little girl was born in Bruma. The only daughter of a Nord War Chief and a schoolteacher. There was nothing unusual there, most would have thought, but this little girl was ever so special. So special it would cause gods to vest their interests in her wellbeing, not only for her but also for themselves. The New Order has a very powerful master that orchestrates everything. The Daedric Princes only know it as The Entity. But my mistress knows its identity.”

“I assume your mistress is a Daedric Prince. Therefore, you should have said, ‘The other Daedric Princes…”. Don’t they teach anything at courier school?”

Cerys giggled again.

I continued, “You know the identity of The Entity. However, you won’t tell me as you obey your mistress as a good courier should.”

“Alas. I am not at liberty to discuss that further.”

“Of course not. That would be exercising your mortal free will. Sorry for the interruptions, but they help keep my Dovah away and are beneficial to your health. Please continue.”

“A once in a millennia scheme was about to unfold. Azura took it upon herself to protect the child but, in doing so, would ultimately put herself at risk. The Entity’s first strike was the whereabouts of the Black Diamonds. He entrusted Tumrenen Kaeuseus, a killer, bandit and thief, to travel all of Tamriel searching for them. Anyone who possessed them was tortured to ascertain the vein’s location. They were then killed, and the diamonds forged into armour. You probably know that the diamonds are linked to Azura’s power. It was a cynical plot to weaken that power. It worked well until Kaeuseus murdered Casius Varon’s family. Casius tracked him down and killed him. That was not something The Entity had foreseen.”

“The Entity sounds like a complete moron. Why not capture a few of Azura’s disciples and seers and torture them? Or what about the jewellers who made items such as Casius’ mother’s necklace? That would make more sense than targeting the ignorant recipients of such gifts. I have a bag full of gems. Am I supposed to know from where they were mined?”

“All of this was enough to distract Azura, and the New Order struck. Ragnar was arrested, and his family was kept as hostages. He was extracted to Alinor in chains and executed. They needed him dead. They feared him. But the girl child Rigmor? She has noble blood dating back some two hundred years. All the pieces were in the right place. Ragnar was executed, and the child was kept under close guard for the sacrifice of noble virgin blood. But Aedriath slipped up, and the sentimental Khajiit whisked her away. Hahaha!”

“The Dominion wanted Ragnar arrested, not The New Order! Rigmor was protected by Diplomatic Immunity until she came of age. Then she slaughtered everybody in the Bruma embassy, so the hunt began, and the huge bounty was offered. How idiotic was it to hunt to kill when a hunt to capture made much more sense? They would not have to scramble for a replacement, would they?”

“Near the completion of the….”

“Do not say the portal gate. It is an Oblivion Gate!”

“Near the completion of the Oblivion Gate, the boy child, unfortunately, perished in an unforeseen accident.”

“More proof that evil megalomaniacs make shitty babysitters.”

“The New Order were running out of time and now needed Rigmor alive.”

“Yes, and I fell for Aedriath’s trap. I figured that out. I handed them Rigmor and got killed for my service. Now get on with what I have to do.”

“You have caused such great distress that maniac Aedriath was foaming at the mouth in apoplectic rage. Hahaha!”

“I don’t give a fuck how he feels or how amusing you find this. Tell me where to get Scourge!”

“Before he could unleash the ‘Great Anguish’, Mehrunes Dagon had it taken to a temple carved into the mountain rocks somewhere close to Markarth. But the entrance is not beneath Markarth as The New Order think. Markarth is beneath the entrance. You will need to climb the rockface to the right of the main doors to the city. Eventually, you will come to a pass. Follow the stream until you can see the city below you. There you will find the entrance.”

“And why do you think The Entity needs Scourge?”

“If The Entity has Scourge, it will be free to unleash its frenzy. Nothing will be able to stop it, not even the Daedric Princes.”

“What do I do with Scourge after I have recovered it?”

“Bring it to the nearby shrine of my mistress. In return, she will give you the location of your beloved Rigmor.”

“Which of the Daedric Princes is your mistress?”

“Boethia.”

“Anything else?”

“If you save the girl, bring her to The College of Winterhold. There are some things she needs to learn about her past. I’ll be there waiting.”

“Mark the location of the shrine on my map.”

I handed Malesam my map, and he duly marked the shrine’s location and handed it back. Boethia’s shrine is conveniently close to the farm.

“Thank you, Jonte. Now for something you need to hear. You are ignorant of what gods can do on Nirn! What is The Liminal Barrier?”

Silence.

“Master Mage, would you like to educate your father?”

Cerys explained, “Lord Akatosh created the Liminal Barrier at the request of Saint Alessia. She was tired of the Daedric Princes being able to manifest on Nirn when Aedra could not. This ability increased the appeal of Daedric Princes to those seeking power. It is why the Ayleid abandoned the Aedra for the Dark Lords. When Daedric Lords did manifest, they caused great destruction and killed many.”

“Correct. Due to the sacrifices of the et-Ada who created Nirn and Mundus, they have never been able to manifest on their creation. When Mehrunes Dagon did manage to manifest on Nirn, it was an avatar of Lord Akatosh that battled him. The Dragonfires first maintained the Liminal Barrier in The Imperial City. Now it is permanent after Martin Septim’s sacrifice and the release of power held within The Amulet of Kings. If Daedric Princes had the abilities you and Tendril Sethri claim, they would not need mortal agents such as me, The Hero of Kvatch, The Nerevarine or many others.”

Cerys nodded. I wonder if she is allowed to teach her father or is expected to remain silent. She stood behind him like a servant instead of at the table with equals.

“The Daedric Princes, like Aedra, have avatars and aspects that can appear on Nirn. However, only through certain elements, such as the Black Diamonds, can limited powers be utilised by the gods on the mortal plane. Lady Kynareth uses the very air we breathe and the winds as another example. Lady Azura could not prevent Ragnar’s arrest unless she had prior knowledge, via her seers, and had mortal agents in place capable of thwarting a legal arrest approved by His Imperial Highness! Azura never protected Rigmor from harm! She does not have that power! She struggled within her seat of power to keep part of my soul within my body!”

Cerys continued to nod as I spoke. She was probably tired of Malesam ignoring his better-educated daughter.

I continued, “Jonte, you allocate omnipotence to these gods yet claim Azura was distracted! Gods have infinite and parallel thought processes. They have no trouble rubbing their belly and patting their head simultaneously. They don’t concentrate solely on one thing and can’t be distracted!”

Malesam looked uncomfortable.

“I could cut your head off, and Boethia could not stop me. I could walk over to her shrine and blast it into rubble with my Thu’um and Magicka, and she could not stop me. The same as other mere mortals desecrated Azura’s. You believe The Entity would be unstoppable, but does it have more power and followers than Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, or Boethia herself? They all failed in their attempts to usurp the mortal realm, and no doubt many ignorant morons like you screamed, ‘Unstoppable! They are unstoppable!’ Lord Umbriel had hundreds of thousands if not over a million troops and a flying city but was stopped!”

My anger was growing, and I did not want it to diminish.

“If Scourge is such a fantastic weapon, why did Mehrunes Dagon not use it? It is useless against mortal champions of the gods such as myself and The Nerevarine! It is a weapon for use against Daedra and Daedric Princes, and that is not who The Entity will be combating on Nirn! Boethia and other Dark Lords cannot appear on Nirn to fight The Entity! The Dark Lords can invade each other’s realms in Oblivion, but The Entity will be down here, reborn as a living God King! And if you know the power of Scourge, all it does is return the more powerful Daedra to their originating realm.”

I held little hope I would get through to Malesam. He is like all religious fanatics. They will always believe the bullshit of their chosen deity than straightforward logic and indisputable facts.

“Boethia lied to you. She does not want Scourge for the reason you think. It is just something she wants, and a mortal capable of getting it is handy. You have been manipulated! I will fetch Scourge even though she has not sworn to me to uphold the bargain you parroted like the good courier you are. But she will tell me where Rigmor is because The Entity is a threat to her, and she will want me to stop it. That is why mortals like me and The Nerevarine exist. Gods are powerless on Nirn and rely on their champions to do their tasks!”

Cerys nodded. I doubt she is under Boethia’s spell.

“Aedriath wanted Rigmor dead even after the little noble boy had his ‘accident’! We killed dozens of well-armed opponents to get to The Forge via the mine. The enemy was not trying to capture Rigmor! We killed many more formidable opponents as we made our way through The Forge. Aedriath had no idea we would have allies to accomplish that, and once again, the intent was to kill Rigmor, not capture her! His Elite Guards were the best warriors Rigmor and I have fought, and their diamond armour made them even more of a threat. Aedriath did not know Rigmor would turn up with Azura’s Bane or that my skills would negate the armour. They tried to kill Rigmor, not capture her! Only when he failed to kill her but managed to kill me did Aedriath bother with the capture of Rigmor. Her love for me and fear of Aedriath made her vulnerable when she saw me collapse with an arrow in my neck. She could have easily killed the remaining Elite Guards and Aedriath if she had fought back. So yes, Aedriath planned to kill me, but he did not think that would hand him Rigmor alive! At the last second, he decided to obey the wishes of the senior members of The New Order. That is how evil always loses. There are always people like Aedriath, whose ego and pride get in the way of the best plans. I bet Boethia told you none of this. You just know what she wants you to know!”

Malesam was not even trying to refute what I was saying. He knew it was the truth.

“Surely even an ignorant git like you has heard of The Culling! When you do as Boethia asks, it is not the same as Sethri obeying Azura. Boethia has tried to do the same as The Entity, Molag Bal, Lord Umbriel and Mehrunes Dagon. She has tried to thwart the Liminal Barrier and harm the mortals I am sworn to protect. Azura has never tried to harm the mortals of this world!”

I raised my voice but did not use my Thu’um. The cave was too fragile!

“Listen well, Jonte Malesam! You are an agent for an enemy of The Divines and the mortals of Nirn. If your mistress asked you to do something harmful to Rigmor, you would do so! Once I have saved Rigmor, you had better tread carefully, or I will kill you without hesitation. I, Wulf, Champion of The Divines, herby swear this on all I hold sacred!”

I told the young mage, “Cerys, your father claimed Rigmor is unharmed. The New Order think they need a virgin for their sacrifice. How did they reassure themselves that Rigmor is, in fact, a virgin? If they did nothing else to her, how do you think Rigmor would feel about that intimate invasion of privacy by monsters from her worst nightmares? She also saw me drowning in my blood and being stabbed. Rigmor is far from unharmed!”

I stood and Recalled to the Mark I had placed at the farm. My urge to slaughter Malesam was only denied by the look on the young mage’s face. She was full of empathy for Rigmor’s plight, and I did not want to harm an innocent.

Celestine looked surprised when I appeared.

“Wulf, I thought you weren’t coming back here till you rescued Rigmor?”

“I need some information. How well do you know Arch-Mage Savos Aron?”

“Very well, but I haven’t spoken to him in four years.”

“Rigmor has noble blood. Not from the title her father was awarded. It goes back two hundred years. The person I met, Jonte Malesam, has some connection to The College of Winterhold. His daughter, Cerys, is a Master Mage and was with him.”

“Oh, I know Cerys. She is one of the kindest and most softly spoken people I have ever met. I never met her father.”

“He is a devotee of Boethia.”

“So, even though it is nearly midnight, you want me to teleport to the college and ask the Arch-Mage for information.”

“Tell him it is for The Dragonborn and His Imperial Highness. Tell him I will join the college when I can and share what Psijic stuff I have permission to disseminate, plus help them study The Voice. Malesam wants me to visit the college to tell Rigmor about her history. I would rather tell her beforehand.”

“Okay. I will ask Vayu to replace me.”

“I have to do a task for Boethia. She wants me to retrieve Scourge. I feel that she has asked me because none of her devotees would survive the task. So, I may summon you for assistance.”

“Wasn’t that placed somewhere by The Nerevarine?”

“Mehrunes Dagon had it last and placed it in a tomb near Markarth.”

“Okay. And Wulf, I agree you should tell Rigmor of her family history. Not somebody she doesn’t know.”

“We don’t know how she will be when we find her. Baa’Ren-Dar says it took months for her to remember herself after he rescued her.”

“I think the love you share will bring her back quicker than that.”

“Speculation. I am doing it again. We shall deal with whatever we find.”

“There is a logic behind this speculation, so it is valid.”

“I have never been inside Markarth. But I have been to the stables to buy your horse. I can teleport there, I think.”

I tried teleporting, and it worked.

I walked to the base of the mountain at the right of Markarth gates. I could see flags marking a path. When I climbed the mountain near Rose’s camp, that was for fun. This climb was to save Rigmor, so I Blinked my way instead.

Why do trolls make their home where very little prey will venture? I used invisibility and snuck past three different trolls.

It took me less than thirty minutes to reach the path and find the stream. I hope Celestine has had enough time to speak to the Arch-Mage.

I found a suspicious-looking drain that was boarded up. A skeleton was embedded into some rocks next to it. Dagon’s devotees might as well have painted a big arrow with a sign saying, “Scourge, this way!”

I summoned Celestine, who took a couple of minutes to respond.

“I take it you were speaking to the Arch-Mage?”

“He was very keen to speak to me and had a million questions about where I had been and what it was like in Akavir. I don’t think he gets out of Winterhold much.”

“And the information?”

“He is very keen on you joining the college. He knows you have been protecting Rigmor and said the college has a Royal Writ from Emperor Titus Mede I to protect all descendants of a bastard child of his.”

“Well, they have done as good a job as Azura then! But if Rigmor has Mede blood, so what? There is nothing special about it, and there are hundreds of Mede descendants, including Jarl Elisif. Septim blood is Dragon Blood and comes from Saint Alessia. It has properties that normal blood does not, while Mede blood has no blessing. There must be more to Rigmor than her Mede heritage.”

“He will provide the ancestral tree and other information. I will pick it up when I can. He said he wishes to speak to you before you meet Malesam. If you are a Master Mage of the college, you will have authority over Malesam. He said when you meet him, he will arrange that.”

“Why would I want or need authority over Malesam?”

“The Arch Mage said things are being finalised so he would not go into more detail.”

“What if there is something special about Rigmor’s soul? Something that has nothing to do with her Mede heritage?”

“I was thinking the same. Perhaps it is Rigmor and your soul intertwining that is unique? There are things The Divines have not been able to decipher when it comes to you two.”

“It would be interesting to speak to beings who have lived in multiple Kalpa. Perhaps our intertwined selves did something noteworthy in another Kalpa?”

“That would be kind of creepy. It is you but not sort of thing.”

“I suppose it would be strange. Let’s get Scourge for Boethia and then rescue Rigmor.”

We entered the ruins. They were Nordic, not Dwemer, which was a surprise.

I said, “Hey, another female Draugr!”

“Vayu mentioned your last encounter. Just kill it instead of drooling over it.”

Every Draugr we encountered was as strong or stronger than the final one in Bleak Falls Barrow. They were partially immune to The Voice, and it took several Shouts to bring them down.

I tried my bow. A single arrow would bring down the Draugr in Bleak Falls Barrow. At least half a dozen were needed for each Draugr in these ruins.

I found the best way to combat them was Lightning and Unrelenting Force.

Powerful Liches were amongst the Draugr.

I said to Celestine, “All of the Draugr have used Unrelenting Force. I know some can use the Ice Form Shout. If I came here by myself, and one of them froze me, I would be killed.”

She replied, “I have never seen that Shout.”

“Watch, I will use it on the Draugr and Lich ahead.

I froze the enemy then dodged swinging blades to reach them.

They were encased in ice and easily eliminated.

I said, “Imagine if I was by myself and a Draugr used that Shout.”

Celestine replied, “Yep, it would have been suicidal to tackle this place solo!”

We came to a lowered portcullis. Pull chains on our side, and the other controlled its lowering and raising. At the other end of a long cavern was a throne.

Celestine suggested, “Scourge will be at that far end, and many powerful Draugr will guard it.”

“There are a few Skeletal Mages as well. Probably some Liches just to make it fun.”

I summoned two Dremora Lords then Shouted Unrelenting Force to clear the enemies close to the portcullis.

I then raised the portcullis, and we entered the chamber.

It took longer to make it across that chamber than it did to traverse the entirety of Bleak Falls Barrow!

Just as we were catching our breath, two more Draugr appeared. They were by far the most powerful I have ever encountered!

Several minutes later, they were defeated.

In front of the throne was Scourge. I picked it up and was impressed by its balance. Not my type of weapon, but I could use it effectively if I had to.

I dismissed the Dremora Lords. Then I recalled to the farm and summoned Celestine.

As Celestine went to talk to Lydia, Vayu came over to talk to me.

He laughed and said, “The Omoi and Wulf show, fresh from a sell-out season in Akavir, now you can see them live in Skyrim!”

“Haha. I doubt Omoi’s version of events resembled the reality at all.”

“New Order scum and Imperial brown noses. You rallied the patrons. Massacre of aforementioned New Order scum and Imperial brown noses by you, Omoi and patrons.”

“Yes, I was quite humbled by the assistance given.”

“When Celestine summoned me, she said she was visiting The College of Winterhold, and you were recovering Scourge for Boethia.”

“Boethia will tell me Rigmor’s location in exchange for Scourge. The college will tell me what relationship Rigmor has to Emperor Titus Mede I. Rigmor is to be sacrificed to open an Oblivion Gate. Her Life Force used to allow Malacath to become corporeal on Nirn. Her Consciousness would be trapped for eternity in The Ash Pit, Malacath’s realm in Oblivion.”

“Fuck!”

“Yep. So, if you excuse me, I have an exchange to make with Lady Boethia. Well, maybe she might be in male form. That has to be confusing. Privy seat up or down?”

I mounted Hashire and asked, “Did you take the foal to her herd?”

“Yes, and they were pleased to see her. They are now in mourning for her mother.”

“I know some animals can grieve. I didn’t know horses do.”

“Considering how people rely on horses and so many of them, ignorance of the species is unforgivable.”

“Oh, I am sure groomsmen and others who deal with them constantly know these things.”

“Where are we going?”

“To visit Boethia and exchange a relic for Rigmor’s location.”

“The Champion of The Divines gets assistance from another Daedric Prince.”

“It is not unexpected, Hashire.”

“I know. But if you have to deal with Hircine, kick him in his immortal cobblers for me.”

It would have been a pleasant ride to the shrine if not for my growing anxiety.

When we arrived, a devotee was there.

I walked up to her and said, “I am about to have a private conversation with Lady Boethia. I suggest you leave and come back later. By the way, they are wonderful robes but could do without the twirls on the breasts.”

She replied, “You lie! I will kill you for your blasphemy!”

Boethia tried to get inside my head and failed. So, it was the booming voice trick again.

“Come forward, mortal. Do you have the mace?”

The devotee jumped then quickly moved away.

I placed Scourge on the altar, and it slowly vanished.

Boethia continued, “So you are Azura’s little toy?”

“I am no toy of a Daedric Prince. Surely the Great and Mighty Boethia should know who I am with her omnipotence?”

Boethia doesn’t know who I am. That is why she couldn’t tell Malesam. For the same reason Boethia did not recognise my soul, the Daedric Princes would not know about Rigmor’s noble blood at her birth. They don’t have that ability.

After a few seconds of silence, Boethia asked, “What does Azura know of the ‘Restoration’?”

“All she knows is that an entity wants to enter Mundus from Oblivion.”

“Hahaha! You have served me well, mortal, but are you worthy of my gratitude?”

“You didn’t personally give me your word that you would provide the information I need, so therefore not bound to do so. You know The Entity poses a threat to you. You also know that I am the only one who can stop the Restoration. Play your mind games with somebody else as you have to give me the information so I can remove the threat to you.”

“Do you love this girl?”

“This woman’s name is Rigmor, and I love her more than life.”

“Then you must be prepared to go to any lengths to save her.”

“Yes, I will even listen to drivel from a Daedric Prince.”

“But I have the mace. Why should it concern me if she lives or dies.”

“As I have already said, The Entity is a threat to you. That is the reason!”

“But the sacrifice would suit me well, for I can do battle with The Entity and devour it. It would cause me great pleasure. The girl is worth more to me dead than alive.”

“Lady Boethia, you can get away with lies to your ignorant sycophants but not me. The Entity will be on the mortal plane, and you can’t get here. You could not battle and devour it! I swear by The Divines that if you withhold the information and Rigmor dies, I will destroy every single temple of yours! I am a Son of Akatosh, and you could not stop me!”

“A Dragonborn! Then here is my deal. You must prove your worth as a warrior before me. Defeat my Champions, and I will give you what you need.”

“Do you give your word that if I defeat your Champions, the whereabouts of Rigmor and the identity of The Entity will be revealed to me?”

“I give you my word.”

“Then I hope you are not fond of any of them!”

“This I have got to see.”

I was in the indescribable cold of the ether for a split second before appearing in the pocket plane of Oblivion called ‘Boethia’s Proving Ground’.

Boethia sent ten champions in total. One, then two, then three and finally a group of four.

Some I let close enough for me to kill with my sword. Others I killed with Unrelenting Force. Not one of them even scratched me.

Two of the last four disintegrated, with body parts flying into the red dome covering the arena.

It was all over in less than a minute.

Boethia walked out of the flames. She was very tall! I can’t say if she was beautiful because she wore a mask.

She stood before me then tried hard to get me upset.

Boethia said, “I can sense her heartbeat mortal. I can sense her love for you. How cruel a joke it is then that your love is untrue. It is a false love.”

“You can sense no such thing and once again assume I am ignorant of what your powers in Mundus allow. Nonetheless, what would you know about love? Lady Mara knows the strength of our love and marvels at it. Unlike you, she is an expert on the subject. My despair shows your accusation to be baseless.”

“Do you not have the same feelings for her as she for you?”

“Yes, and Rigmor knows it. Why persist with this charade. Now fulfil your end of the bargain!”

“Hahaha. Rigmor is now near death because you failed her. You abandoned her when she needed you the most. Isn’t this true, mortal?”

“Yes, I failed to protect her but never abandoned her! I dragged myself back from The Void using the power of our love so I could rescue her and ask for forgiveness. You need me to stop The Entity, and your word is sacrosanct. No more games!”

“Hahaha! The Entity? There is no entity mortal. It is Malacath.”

“An entity is something with a distinct and independent existence. We knew there was something but not what it was. Therefore, it was an entity. Stop talking nonsense!”

“Malacath the spurned fool! Malacath who wishes to be transformed into a God-King reborn as Trinimac.”

“This is boring.”

“Would you sacrifice yourself on the Altar of Trinimac for this girl?”

“I have a responsibility to all mortals. I am needed to stop Alduin. Rigmor would not want me to risk all mortals for my love of her. She would grow to hate me!”

I was trying to fool myself. Boethia laughed at my discomfort.

I yelled, “Yes, I would sacrifice myself if it would save Rigmor. She deserves to live and find happiness, even if I am not there to share it. I would smile from Aetherius, and The Divines would have to find another mortal champion.”

“Then, your love is true, and you are a worthy Champion. And my word is true. You will know whence she is.”

Boethia started walking back to the flames.

She stopped and said, “There are many acolytes mortal. She is floating on her tears in a sea of writhing darkness and will awaken when her bosom bursts at the points of ten blades. Goblets ready so they might drink away her life force at the whim of a usurper. To get to the dais, you will need help, for you cannot do it alone. And once she is saved from the black pit of the abyss, you must go into Oblivion and strike the Sigil Stone with Azura’s Bane. Only then will Nirn be saved. Destroy the gate, or it will all have been for nothing.”

“I do not need help. I will enter the nest of enemies alone, and you will witness the strength of my love for Rigmor as I kill all I encounter. I will enter The Ash Pit and destroy Malacath’s minions and the Oblivion Gate. If The New Order persist with their invasion, Rigmor and I will fight together, and all will be slain!”

“Then go and save your beloved mortal, asleep on the dais awaiting her fate. A fate only you can decide.”

The laughter of Boethia faded as the cold of the ether was followed by the warmth of The Rift.

Malesam stood before me.

“Tell me where she is, Malesam!”

“They have taken her to an isolated island stronghold off the northern coast. It is, of course, heavily guarded. I hope you have some friends who might come to your aid in this time of need.”

“Unlike you, I have many friends. Mark it on my map.”

Malesam did so, and I had a quick look. It would take about three or four hours by boat to get there.

I told Malesam, “As I said to your mistress, I need no help!”

“There will be a boat for you to use in Dawnstar. I also marked its location on your map. I would advise….”

“I need no advice from you. Your mistress did not know I was Dragonborn. Ask yourself how she or any other Dark Lord could know of Rigmor’s noble blood if they could not detect what I am.”

I tried teleporting to the farm, and it worked.

Lydia and Celestine approached.

  • Wulf: I want you two to accompany me. We are going to rescue Rigmor.
  • Lydia: Where is she?
  • Wulf: On an island three or four hours sailing from the north coast. They have her on a dais, preparing her for a ritual sacrifice. Malacath will use her Life Force to restore his Trinimac form.
  • Celestine: Rigmor’s Consciousness would be stuck in The Ash Pit.
  • Wulf: I am not going to allow that to happen!
  • Celestine: Do you have to enter Oblivion?
  • Wulf: Yes. I must destroy the Sigil Stone and close the Oblivion Gate.
  • Celestine: I will summon a couple of Blades to take our place.
  • Wulf: I will tell Sigunn what is happening.

As I walked past Angi, she asked, “Have you rescued Rigmor yet?”

“No, Angi. I know where she is, and we are about to leave and get her.”

I entered the farmhouse and was only mildly surprised to see Baa’Ren-Dar.

  • Sigunn: Wulf, where is Rigmor?
  • Wulf: I know where she is, Sigunn. We are just about to leave and bring her back.
  • Sigunn: Is she hurt?
  • Wulf: I don’t know. I am taking Celestine with me so that Rigmor can receive the best possible healing if required.
  • Baa’Ren-Dar: Who is The Entity?
  • Wulf: Malacath. I will have to enter Oblivion and close the Oblivion Gate. I don’t think he will be too pleased about it.
  • Sigunn: Oblivion! Oh, my!
  • Wulf: I have just left Boethia’s part of Oblivion, Sigunn. It is not as scary as it sounds.
  • Baa’Ren-Dar: Tell us about that later, Dragonborn.
  • Wulf: The next time you see me, I will be with Rigmor!

I teleported from the farmhouse to the Khajiiti camp outside Dawnstar. I then summoned Lydia and Celestine.

Ahkari called over, “Valdr, are you here to do business with Khajiit?”

“Not today, Ahkari.”

We rushed through Dawnstar then stood staring at the boat Malesam had organised. It was a barely seaworthy rowboat.

I laughed and said, “Two Master Mages should be able to keep it afloat.”

We piled aboard and as I rowed, the other two bailed.

I had a chance to think through some things during the three-hour trip. The question that bothered me was why Aedriath was concerned about the Bosmer gangmasters raping Rigmor. Now I know the answer, but there is nothing logical about the virgin requirement for sacrifice. What if it was an eighteen-year-old male of noble blood and not Rigmor? How could they tell if he was a virgin? Many young girls tear their maidenhood via accident and other means without penile penetration. No, it makes no sense and is part of the ritual mumbo jumbo that is unnecessary but performed at such fun events. It is a remnant of the archaic notion that young women should be chaste and unsullied for their husbands.

What of Rigmor’s noble blood? Emperors and Empresses are famous for their inability to keep their clothes on. If it weren’t for the randy exploits of Uriel Septim VII, we would not have had Martin Septim to save the day! I don’t think Mede blood makes Rigmor special. It is not rare nor blessed.

Rigmor’s nobility leads to an interesting question. Why would these supposedly brilliant gods not have shown great interest in her parents, grandparents, etc., that must also be of noble blood? Two hundred years of noble blood just ignored until Rigmor comes along? They did not know of her nobility at birth! That is the answer. They have no way of knowing a child’s lineage other than official records. That is why Mehrunes Dagon did not know about Martin Septim! What a shock! More lies from the Daedric Princes!

When approaching the island, we saw a ship was docked. It would hide the rowboat once we landed, but not as we rowed to the island. The Psijic taught me a spell to change the weather. I would never use it usually as I regard it as interfering with the natural cycle. However, I decided to use it and created a thick fog bank. That allowed us to reach the island undetected.

We beached the rowboat then crouched behind it and the ship. I used Zoom-Vision to check the sentries.

I laughed and faced the ladies.

  • Wulf: There are many sentries, New Order and Orsimer mercenaries. However, they are all facing the same direction, not this way!
  • Lydia: Not very bright, are they?
  • Celestine: So, how do we get in?
  • Wulf: You two don’t. Now I have seen the external defences, I have decided to go in alone.
  • Lydia: Why?
  • Wulf: I can do it silently and not risk them killing Rigmor out of fright or vengeance.
  • Celestine: How are you going to deal with all those external troops?
  • Wulf: In the noisiest way possible. I will create a thunderstorm whose lightning is strangely attracted to New Order troops and Orsimer.
  • Lydia: The New Order troops inside will think it is an ordinary storm!
  • Wulf: Yes, and when I get inside, I will kill stealthily. If I need assistance, I will summon you.
  • Celestine: Anything else we should know?
  • Wulf: Don’t get any closer than this. The storm will not differentiate friend from foe.

The fog I had created was quickly dissipating. I went invisible and approached the fort.

I looked up and used the Storm Call Shout. The weather instantly changed from sunny to overcast, with thunder and lightning occurring far more frequently than a natural storm.

The enemy started to panic as each lightning strike killed one of them.

A New Order soldier ran towards me in his panic, and I lopped his head off.

He was the only one I had to kill with my sword. The storm killed the others.

I looked up and used the Clear Skies Shout.

A downpour instantly replaced the thunderstorm.

I burst through the door, used the Slow Time Shout, and slaughtered the entrance guards.

Nobody yelled for help. The fight was brief and relatively noiseless.

I walked past some empty cells.

I could hear talking, so I used Heat-Vision and stealth.

A group of five or six enemies were to my right.

Ahead was a lone soldier.

A single arrow ended him, but he yelled as he died.

I hurried to the corridor leading right and waited for the other New Order troops to come and investigate the noise.

I killed them one by one.

I could hear distant chanting. I rushed to a door, and the chanting stopped. It was replaced by mumbo jumbo in Aldmeri as the ritual was coming to its climax.

Heat-Vision let me know dozens were in the ritual chamber. I used Invisibility and entered.

Three Priests of Trinimac stood before an active Oblivion Gate. On the Altar of Trinimac, my beloved lay, dressed in white.

I could not kill the acolytes with Unrelenting Force or any other Shout as Rigmor may be in the area of effect. Plus, I had to eliminate the priests first.

I Blinked to a set of bars barring entrance to the Oblivion Gate.

That made me visible.

I quickly turned.

Then I moved to my right.

The acolytes now saw me and started to yell warnings, but it was too late.

Rigmor was not in the cone of effect, and a full-strength Unrelenting Force travelled across the chamber.

The priest in front of me and all but one acolyte died.

I then cut down the head priest, who was stunned into immobility by what was happening.

The surviving acolyte stood no hope. An unarmoured idiot with a knife against me was laughable.

The last priest fired his best Lightning spells at me. I laughed as I casually walked towards him.

He backed away and soon drained his Magicka reserves in a futile attempt to stop me.

I cut him down and was covered in warm, arterial blood.

I ran to Rigmor. She was surrounded by a miasma emanating from a smokey barrier.

I threw away the goblets supposed to catch Rigmor’s blood. There were not ten knives to plunge into her, as Boethia claimed.

As I walked around her, despair threatened to overwhelm me.

I summoned Rigmor and Celestine.

Then I collapsed and knelt near Rigmor’s head.

  • Celestine: Wulf, the enemies are dead. Now we need to figure out the next step.
  • Wulf: Look at Rigmor, Celestine. Look what they have done to her!
  • Lydia: What is that light and darkness that surrounds her?
  • Celestine: Rigmor’s soul is connected to The Ash Pit, Malacath’s realm of Oblivion. There is a shield surrounding her that is like smoke. The miasma is that shield interacting with the mortal plane. Interfering with the shield will kill Rigmor, and her Consciousness will forever roam The Ash Pit.
  • Wulf: The ceremony and ritual they were performing were merely theatrics. When the head priest plunged his knife into Rigmor, he would break the shield. Malacath would use Rigmor’s Life Force to restore his Trinimac form, then step through the Oblivion Gate.
  • Celestine: They use mumbo jumbo to make it all seem mysterious to the acolytes.
  • Wulf: They could have used any sacrifice. Nobel or not. Virgin or not. It was all bullshit.
  • Lydia: So how do we save her.

I stood and put my hand close to the miasma.

  • Wulf: I will have to enter the Oblivion Gate, kill all of Malacath’s minions and destroy the Sigil Stone with Azura’s Bane.
  • Celestine: When the Sigil Stone is destroyed, the mortal who destroyed it will be returned to Nirn.
  • Wulf: That is why I have to do it solo. Only one will return. Others would be stranded in The Ash Pit with a slightly pissed off Malacath.
  • Lydia: Is there a danger to Rigmor by severing her connection like that?
  • Celestine: We can’t detect what Rigmor’s current health is. The soul will be shocked, but its effect on Rigmor is unpredictable.
  • Wulf: The Oblivion Gate will shatter. A shield must be maintained around Rigmor to deflect debris.
  • Celestine: I can maintain one almost indefinitely.
  • Lydia: I will stand with my shield raised. It and my body will also shield Rigmor from the debris.
  • Wulf: I may be injured when I return. Do not attend to me. Attend to Rigmor. I am doing this to save her.
  • Celestine: But your responsibility is to all mortals, Wulf! It is more vital that you survive.
  • Wulf: Rigmor is one of those mortals, Celestine. I realised that glaring fact when Boethia asked me if I would take Rigmor’s place. Yes, I would, because every other mortal’s life is worth more than mine. That is the basis on which I have continuously operated. If a child stepped in front of a speeding carriage, would I stand there and say, ‘Too bad, I am responsible to all mortals?’
  • Celestine: No, Wulf, you would risk your life to save the child.
  • Wulf: If Rigmor died, I would be useless to The Nine. I know that without doubt or equivocation.
  • Lydia: Bjorn was my soulmate, and I can’t imagine building a life without him. But I probably will, as that is the way with ordinary mortals. But you and Rigmor have something unique. Even I, a newcomer to all this gobblygook, realise what you say is true.

I said to Rigmor, “I wish I could caress your face and let you know your Guardian is here. Your Dragonborn will not leave you alone in the dark. I am sorry I failed you. Please, forgive me. I love you.”

I used a pull chain to lower the bars.

I then stepped into Oblivion.

Why do the gods always think they have a right to barge into my head uninvited?

I felt frustration at my impenetrable barriers, then a booming bass voice declared, “YOU ARE A FOOL TO COME HERE. PREPARE TO DIE, MORTAL!”

I replied, “Malacath, you could not penetrate my mind barriers even in your realm. How am I going to die? Are you going to kill me with banal remarks?”

I looked around and saw my target. The Sigil Stone would be on top of the tower to the right of where I entered.

Scamps and Flame Atronachs were not much opposition. I quickly destroyed them with Unrelenting Force as I went along.

“YOU DO NOT STAND A CHANCE AGAINST MY MINIONS. ONLY DEATH AWAITS YOU HERE.”

“Oh, come on. I am not even stopping to kill your minions!”

As I got closer to the tower, Malacath’s desperation grew.

“YOU WILL NEVER LEAVE HERE ALIVE. TURN BACK WHILE YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE.”

“If I can never leave here alive, I might as well keep fighting till I die! Don’t you love logic?”

“YOU DARE INTERFERE IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE GODS, YOU PUNY WEAKLING.”

“Don’t you know history, Malacath? Mortals win every time gods interfere in their affairs. So, how dare you interfere in the affairs of mortals and hope to win?”

“YOU WOULD BELIEVE THE LIES OF A SLUT? NOW YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR LIFE.”

“Which one is the slut? I hope you are not speaking about Boethia! Show respect for the anus that birthed you!”

I did not know if that story of Boethia defecating to create Malacath is true, but I bet he hates it either way.