Fredas, 12th Hearthfire, 4E 201
& Loredas, 13th Hearthfire, 4E 201
Father held me as I cried for Rigmor, and I finally mourned my friends who died in Akavir.
After a few minutes, Father said, “Sit, Son. There are things we must discuss.”
We sat at one of several tables in my Aetherius Room. I made time run marginally slower than on Nirn. Even when I am in Aetherius, any of the three mages at the farmstead could summon me if needed.
Father said, “We have made you a set of armour that disguises who you are and want you to wear it for now. When asked, each person who sees you wearing the armour will give a physical description different from others. For instance, one person might say you are tall with black hair and of the Redguard race, while another might say you are a stocky and muscular blonde Nord with a huge beard. The dweomer only comes into effect when you wear the helm and only on first contact. It will not confuse those who already know you or those you meet while not wearing the helm.”
“Why do The Divines want me to wear it?”
“We don’t want Rigmor’s Guardian associated with The Dragonborn. This separation of identities may prove beneficial in the future. That is all I can tell you for now.”
“Surely if I use The Voice in battle, people will know I am The Dragonborn?”
“Don’t use Shouts heard by many such as Unrelenting Force. Don’t use The Voice to speak to massed troops from either side. This is a short-term requirement, Son. It may prove to be a superfluous precaution, but if not, it is a crucial one.”
“Okay, I will do as requested. I trust The Nine and will not demand a better reason than what you have provided.”
“We would never ask you to do something that compromises your ethics.”
“Did you know about my possible death?”
“Yes, and that of Rigmor. Son, you know how ripples or junctions in The Void work. We didn’t know the nature of your possible deaths, just that there was a higher-than-normal number of timelines where you had died.”
“There is no use warning me as any action I take to avoid death may increase the possibility.”
“That is a concept you accepted without reservation when I first explained it.”
“It is logical whereas omnipotence, fate and destiny are not.”
“Why do you think your grief over those lost in Akavir has surfaced?”
“I am emotionally vulnerable after seeing Rigmor like she is. I have been suppressing the grief but no longer had to willpower to do so.”
“As I thought.”
“I can’t recall any of the histories mentioning you dealing with Daedric Princes while a mortal.”
“No, they did not notice me enough to their eternal regret.”
“Yet they show great interest in Rigmor.”
“It is not just mortals that work on instinct. I doubt the Daedric Princes know why they show interest in Rigmor. The Nine think the two of you combined is the power that attracts them even if they don’t realise it. If that is the case, then any Dark Lord that comes to that conclusion will either scheme to separate or protect you both.”
“I will don the armour and place my usual dweomer on it. Then I will return to the farm.”
Father helped me change into the new armour. It was as flexible as my Akaviri armour and of superb quality. The masked helm held a dweomer that I knew the function of but could never reproduce. Even the greatest mortal mages are but ignorant primitives when compared to gods.
Father watched as I placed my dweomer on the armour. I then hugged Father and returned to the farm an hour after leaving. Sakiya and Bashita, who were on sentry duty, didn’t comment as I walked past them to the farmhouse. They were used to seeing me change armours without explanation.
I entered and could hear Rigmor speaking to her mother and Sorella. I was surprised as I did not think she would awaken for many hours.
I sat at the table with Angi and Baa’Ren-Dar.
- Angi: At his rate, I will have to sell the old place!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Angi, we must stay together. The New Order are still a force to be reckoned with.
- Wulf: I understand your need to return home, Angi. However, it is too dangerous, especially if you intend to take Sorella. Besides, listen to the girl. She is talking to Rigmor, and her presence will help.
- Angi: Gah!
Sigunn walked from the bedroom and joined us.
- Wulf: Sigunn, how is Rigmor?
- Sigunn: Her colour is greatly improved. She is trying to sleep. Sorella is with her.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Did she mention anything about what happened?
- Sigunn: She awoke in a panic and didn’t know where she was or what was happening. We reassured her then asked about what happened, but she didn’t remember.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Could Rigmor’s memory loss be due to exhaustion?
- Wulf: No, Baa’Ren-Dar. It is a combination of some potion they gave Rigmor and the trauma of her capture. It is good she is talking. I was worried she might be mute like when you rescued her from the Thalmor Embassy. Some confusion is natural. We will have to wait and see if there is any significant memory loss.
- Sigunn: Can you tell us what you had to do to rescue Rigmor?
- Wulf: I had to complete two tasks for Boethia before she would tell me where Rigmor was. The first task was the recovery of a relic for her. Celestine aided me with that task, and it was difficult with great danger to both of us. I then travelled to Oblivion and defeated Boethia’s champions in battle. When Boethia told me Rigmor’s location, Celestine and Lydia joined me, and we travelled to an island in The Sea of Ghosts. I killed every defender on that island and was just in time to save Rigmor from being sacrificed. I then entered Oblivion and killed Malacath’s minions so I could destroy the Oblivion Gate. He pleaded with me not to do it and offered tremendous riches, but I told him no. I told him Rigmor was the most precious thing to me and that any offer would fall short.
- Sigunn: You talked to two gods and went to Oblivion twice to rescue Rigmor?
- Wulf: Talking to gods is not unusual for me, and Rigmor spoke to Lady Azura. Entering Oblivion has its risks, but I would do anything to save Rigmor. None of it would have been necessary if I had been a better guardian.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn must stop blaming himself!
- Angi: Wulf did all that, and I am whining about wanting to go home!
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn has changed armour since returning with Rigmor.
- Wulf: This armour is a gift from The Divines. I want The New Order to know they face The Nine’s wrath on the battlefield.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: The New Order could make another portal. Therefore, they must be defeated on the ground in Skyrim and Cyrodiil.
- Wulf: The New Order troops I have faced are no match for Legionnaires. There were Orsimer mercenaries on the island, and they would be more formidable foes. However, they are fighting for money, not the defence of their homes and loved ones. So even they will find themselves outclassed.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: In the morning, I will travel to Cyrodiil and inform my contacts of what has occurred. Meanwhile, Rigmor needs to recover.
- Sigunn: Wulf, why did they pick Rigmor for the sacrifice? Wouldn’t any poor victim have been adequate?
- Wulf: Sacrifices are mostly rituals without meaning. They are murders wrapped in tradition and mysticism. The Priests demanded the sacrifice meet specific criteria. Rigmor, unfortunately, met the criteria.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Is there something special about Rigmor?
- Wulf: Yes, but Rigmor deserves to know first. It is up to her who she tells.
Rigmor came striding into the room. She stood staring at me, a hand on her hip.
- Rigmor: Know about what? Is everyone talking about me behind my back?
- Sigunn: Rigmor! No, we just thought…
- Rigmor: We? Who’s we?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Rigmor, the Guardian…
- Rigmor: Guardian? Pffft! I don’t see any guardian.
I stood and walked over to my beloved.
I told her, “Rigmor, I am relieved to see you walking and talking. I was worried when we brought you home.”
“Brought me home? This place isn’t my home! It’s just part of the nightmare. So, get out of my face! Argh!”
Whenever Rigmor is uncertain, her anger flairs, therefore, I found her behaviour comforting as it was normal for her!
Rigmor growled, “I don’t even know you!”
I smiled then said, “Look inside your heart, and you will find me waiting there. Please, get some sleep. It is the best thing for you at the moment.”
Rigmor pushed past me. I was still smiling when I walked up to Sigunn.
She said, “Dragonborn, I’m sorry. Why don’t you get some sleep? You must be exhausted.”
“I am not upset, Sigunn. Rigmor will be fine. She just needs some time and no pressure on her. I don’t know what Rigmor’s temper was like when she was fourteen, but that was a mild tantrum compared to a couple that I have been the target of.”
“You are putting on a brave face, but it must hurt when somebody you love says that!”
“Love of family and friends, and that which she shares with me, will bring her back to us. I will give her a few minutes to fall asleep. Then I will sit by her side and ensure she does not have nightmares or night terrors.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar and others have spoken to me about how you sit by her bed. Baa’Ren-Dar said you have a special connection, and Rigmor is calm when you are near.”
“It is a mystery even to The Nine, Sigunn. Good night.”
Sigunn, Angi and Baa’Ren-Dar retired to the sleeping quarters downstairs.
I waited for a few minutes, then entered Rigmor’s bedroom.
I quietly moved the chair over then sat. I wrote some journal entries. Then I listened to Rigmor’s breathing, punctuated by Sorella’s snoring.
I drifted off to sleep, surrounded by Our Quiet.
I found myself in a meadow next to a pond. A little girl was sitting on a rock, playing with a doll.
To my right was a rickety shack that a fisherman or hunter probably used.
I had travelled ethereally, as I did when I found Rigmor in her cell four years earlier. I have not done it again since then.
I walked to the girl, who looked eight or nine years of age. She was wearing the same armour Rigmor had when I first met her.
The little girl held the doll out and said, “This is Jenny. Remember her because she remembers.”
I took a good look at the doll and committed it to memory.
The girl smiled, and I found myself in my body once more.
I woke at the time I had wanted. However, I was shocked to find Rigmor was not in her bed.
I entered the living area and found Sigunn sitting at a table.
Sigunn looked at me then said, “Wulf, Rigmor has calmed down overnight. She is sitting on the porch. I think you should go and speak to her.”
“How are her memories?”
“Slowly recovering. At least Rigmor knows who Baa’Ren-Dar and I are.”
“Do not worry, Wulf. She will remember your love, and it will not have been diminished.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“A mother’s intuition.”
I smiled at Sigunn then exited the farmhouse.
Lydia and Celestine were on the veranda admiring a visiting elk.
I could hear Sorella and Angi attending the crops. Angi was explaining how to identify and remove weeds.
Rigmor was sitting and staring into infinity.
I asked, “Do you mind if I join you?”
“Hi, and yeah, have a seat.”
I sat and looked closely at Rigmor. She looked very healthy externally.
Rigmor smiled then said, “Celestine says I am healthy. Lucky she is a woman with the questions she wanted me to answer!”
“Three of the women guarding this farm are physicians, as am I. But I only want to know one thing. Rigmor, are you feeling better this morning?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Good, because you look much better.”
“I’m sorry about…you know….”
“I understand completely. There is no need to apologise.”
“Mom says that you faced many dangers and came for me. She says that you are my Guardian.”
“Yes. I rescued you with the help of Celestine and Lydia, and now you are safe. That is all that matters.”
“Will they come for me again?”
“I have killed many already and will destroy all that try! So, no, they will not come for you again.”
“What did they want with me?”
“When you get your memories back, we can discuss that.”
“Guardian, I keep having this dream.”
“A recurring dream?”
“Yes! There is a little girl that I can hear crying. She’s all alone, in the dark. I can’t see her, so I follow the sound of her sobbing. When I find her, she has her back to me. I approach, and she wants me to hold her hand. I take it, and then she leads me to a battlefield. The sky is black, and the rain is pouring down. It is a terrible storm, but she keeps pulling me forward. I don’t want to follow her. I’m scared and let go of her hand. Then I wake up, every time.”
“Do you recognise the girl?”
“No, but I have this feeling she wants to show me something, but I let go every time because I am afraid.”
The little girl wanted Rigmor to remember. That is what she was trying to show her. Memories. But I did not say that to Rigmor. Instead, I said, “You have been through a lot. It might make sense as your memories return.”
“Yes, I am having trouble remembering things. Everything is vague. I can’t remember my past. Before, when I was a little girl? All that is gone.”
“Have you spoken to your mother or Baa’Ren-Dar about this?”
“I am finding it hard to connect with them, no matter how much I love them in my heart. I feel something is wrong, and I feel guilty, but I don’t know why. All we have to connect us is…this…uncertainty? Ahh!”
“How do you feel about me?”
“Comfortable…protected…safe, I guess.”
“Then I have done my job as Guardian and will continue to do so.”
“Right now, I think I need that, a Guardian.”
Rigmor looked at me with concern on her face.
“When I woke, you were sitting close to my bed. You were asleep but smiling. Mom said you do that all the time. Not smiling, I mean sitting in a chair close to me while I sleep.”
“My presence helps calm you and keeps your nightmares at bay.”
“Yea, the little girl is not a nightmare. So why am I afraid?”
“I don’t know, Rigmor. As I said, some things will make sense as memories return.”
“Are you okay, Guardian? Your smile is gone.”
My façade was slipping. I asked Rigmor, “Can you remember what I told you last night?”
“Just before I barged past you?”
“You said I should look inside my heart. That I will find you waiting there.”
“Sometimes what the mind forgets, the heart remembers.”
“I…I’m sorry. I guess I am about to rediscover a lot of things, right? I think I’ll take a walk and try to clear my mind.”
I watched Rigmor walk towards the lake. She knows that she loves her mother and Baa’Ren-Dar but not me. Perhaps our love is part of the trauma her mind is shielding her from?
I entered the farmhouse. Baa’Ren-Dar and Sigunn were sitting and talking.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn, did she say anything? Is her memory coming back?
- Sigunn: She does know who we are, doesn’t she?
- Wulf: Yes, Sigunn, she remembers you are her mom. She also knows she loves you both dearly. But it is not a matter of no memories and then all memories. We must gently remind her of things and let the memories return that way.
- Sigunn: Baa’Ren-Dar, Celestine, Sakiya, and you are positive that it is just a temporary thing.
- Wulf: Yes, and now we need to figure out what will help recover her memories. It is not just the trauma. Whatever the concoction she swallowed was, it has contributed to her memory loss. I also think there are some memories she doesn’t want back. Those memories we have to be careful to tread around. But it is not all or nothing.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Some say that you must sometimes go back to move forward. Sometimes to remember who we are, we need to start from the beginning.
- Wulf: No, that is wrong! The most uncomplicated memories to recover will be the newest. She will be sure of those, while older ones might seem vague. Rigmor might be unsure if she has an older memory correct. Some memories she would subconsciously like to recall. We need something recent that would be an important and cherished memory.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Why don’t you take Rigmor to revisit some of the places you have recently been?
- Wulf: That is an excellent suggestion. High Hrothgar was bland, while Dragons favour the hot springs area. The Lookout is a good option, which will do for a start. We could then head for Whiterun. She loved that city, and I have a home there Rigmor likes.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit thinks they are excellent choices!
- Sigunn: What about you, Dragonborn? Does she remember who you are?
- Wulf: She knows I am her Guardian because you told her. Apart from that, I am a stranger.
- Sigunn: Oh, I am so sorry!
- Wulf: Rigmor is alive and well. That is the most important thing.
- Sigunn: Is there anywhere else you might take Rigmor?
- Wulf: She liked Casius, so we will probably visit him. The mages want to discuss something with Rigmor. I will get Celestine to retrieve the information the Arch-Mage was preparing for me and take her to the College of Winterhold.
- Sigunn: Do you know why the mages want to speak to Rigmor?
- Wulf: Yes, but it is part of why The New Order was so interested in Rigmor. Until Rigmor is ready to understand all of it, I will not talk about it further.
- Sigunn: I understand. Wulf, please be careful.
- Wulf: I failed her once. I will never do that again. She will be safe with me, Sigunn.
- Sigunn: Tell her there is a set of hunting furs she can wear instead of that flimsy dress. It should fit with all the straps and laces for adjustment. Ask her to come inside, and I will help her put it on.
- Wulf: Wearing a set of furs that Sethri pilfered from who knows where? Instead, I will ask one of the mages to look through my clothes collection in my Safe House. All of it is brand new, and I am sure there will be something suitable.
- Sigunn: Where did you get all the clothes, including women’s clothes, Wulf?
- Wulf: Many deceased estates are sold as one lot for convenience and expedience. Sometimes, we purchase deceased lots to obtain a rare item. We then give the most items to charitable organisations for distribution and keep some new or newish items. Thus, I have quite a collection of apparel and armour for both genders.
- Sigunn: How wealthy are you, Wulf?
- Wulf: Very.
- Sigunn: And you are of noble birth?
- Wulf: Yes.
- Sigunn: Is the wealth inherited?
- Wulf: Partially. I have found many items of worth when searching for artefacts. I do not take things from burial tombs, but I have no guilt about taking treasure elsewhere. I do not live in luxury and have invested most of my wealth into the museum. Once that is completed, I want to purchase estates for schools and orphanages.
- Sigunn: Sorry to be so nosey. It is just that you are not what a wealthy noble is supposed to be.
- Wulf: Oh, but I am. Nobles are supposed to be servants of the people, not power-hungry beasts with no compassion.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: I must leave for Cyrodiil. Safe travels, Guardian.
- Wulf: Same to you, Emissary.
I exited the farmhouse then headed in the direction I saw Rigmor walk earlier. As I passed by the garden, I saw Angi and Sorella were still tending to it. They are good for each other, and a strong bond has developed between them.
Rigmor heard me approaching and asked, “Hey Guardian. You checking up on me already?”
“Can I sit beside you once more?”
I sat beside Rigmor and looked across the lake. It was a pretty spot to have a farm.
Rigmor said, “I love it here by the lake. It fills me with a wonderful sense of freedom. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Me and you together, I mean?”
“Yes, we had a good long talk a little further up. Just outside the southern gate of Riften.”
“I wish I could remember what’s been going on. It’s peculiar, for instance, Angi, Sorella, Lydia and the others. I feel like I have known them all my life, but I don’t recall any of the moments. Like a book with nothing on the pages.”
“You have known me longer than most of them.”
“Sorry, I am unfair. I am letting my mouth get ahead of my better judgement.”
“I don’t know why I said I didn’t know you last night! I look at you, and I am confused. It is not like looking at any of the others. I don’t know. I am not making much sense, am I?”
“When I am close to you, how do you feel?”
“Safe, less confused. I guess there is less pressure to think about things.”
“It is something special between us that seems to work if you remember it or not.”
“Look inside my heart?”
I nodded, then asked Rigmor, “How would you like to visit some of the places we have been that you enjoyed? That might help you remember things.”
“Hey! I would like that. Can we take the horses?”
“Yes, but that dress is not suitable. Would you like to wear armour, a dress, smelly old furs or something else?”
“No armour. Something more feminine. Is there a wardrobe or something inside the house?”
“A lot of the guards are mages as well as physicians. I will ask one of them to select an outfit for you.”
“Will she go shopping in Riften?”
“No, she will get it from elsewhere. Mages can teleport, but that might be something else you can’t remember.”
“Nope. I have no idea, sorry.”
“Why don’t you speak to your mom and Baa’Ren-Dar while you wait? It shouldn’t take long.”
Rigmor headed for the farmhouse.
I went to speak to my friends.
- Wulf: I am taking Rigmor to a few places to help her recover her memories.
- Celestine: Good idea!
- Lydia: It must have been somebody else’s.
- Wulf: Rigmor needs a change of clothing but no armour. Can one of you please select a suitable outfit for her from the Safe House?
- Sakiya: Oh, I know just the thing. It is a very fashionable riding outfit with leather pants and boots. Lovely silk top. There is a red set and a green set.
- Lydia: Definitely the red!
- Celestine: I know the one you mean, Sakiya. Rigmor will look like a well to do lady so treat her like one, you peasant!
- Wulf: I shall be excellent excrement on the bottom of the aforementioned boots.
- Celestine: Some underwear would probably be good as well.
- Sakiya: Okay. I will be back in five minutes and help Rigmor into the outfit.
- Wulf: Can you please bring that greatsword I prepared for Rigmor before we retrieved her father’s sword.
- Sakiya: Okay.
- Wulf: Thank you, Sakiya.
Sakiya vanished. Lydia and Celestine sat down to finish their breakfast.
- Celestine: What is the new armour, Wulf? I can detect a weird dweomer on it.
- Wulf: A gift from The Divines. The Nine want to separate Rigmor’s Guardian from The Dragonborn. It seems they want confusion to reign when I am being discussed. If I wear the helm, different people will think I am of different races and physical description.
- Celestine: Do you know why?
- Wulf: No, but it is no significant burden to do as requested.
- Lydia: It’s an imposing suit of armour!
- Wulf: Not my style, though. And it makes me look skinny!
- Lydia: Put your helm on.
I put on the helm.
- Lydia: You look like Wulf wearing a weird helmet.
- Wulf: The identity dweomer only works on people who have never met me.
- Lydia: Oh.
- Wulf: But I can change my appearance whenever I want. I can appear as any bipedal race of Nirn by casting a spell the Psijic taught me.
- Lydia: Okay, change into a Khajiit.
- Celestine: It can be pretty amusing if Wulf is wearing armour or clothing not made for a Khajiit, as in no tail hole.
- Wulf: That was one of my favourite pairs of trousers ruined!
- Celestine: And your underpants.
- Wulf: They were getting a bit crusty anyway.
- Lydia: Eww!!
- Wulf: I am going to sit by the lake. Call me when Rigmor appears in her new outfit.
- Celestine: Wulf, I popped into the college, and the Arch-Mage gave me the information you wanted, plus more. I have placed it in Hashire’s box. Read it when you can. It is up to you when and what you tell Rigmor.
- Wulf: You look concerned.
- Celestine: Just read it when you can, Wulf.
- Wulf: Okay.
I sat by the lake. A racoon decided to swim across the lake rather than walk around it. The racoon looked quite pleased when he emerged with all his limbs. Perhaps Slaughterfish find racoons a bit stringy?
New water plants had been placed in neat rows. Recreational fishing had become a lucrative business and popular pastime in Skyrim. Vegetation near the bank helps attract many types of game fish.
I closed my eyes and recalled my ethereal travel. The place I went to was real, but the little girl was not. Intuition tells me she was an avatar, but of who or what, I don’t know. How she fits in with Rigmor’s recurring dream can only be guessed. I will not bombard Rigmor with questions about the location I visited or the child’s description. My beloved is not quite ready for significant gobblygook like that.
I was careful to introduce my unusual blessings and parentage to Rigmor when she was well. What if she remembers it all in her current state? Will she reject me? That was the dilemma I faced.
I heard Lydia call me over. I had been sitting by the lake for half an hour! I often lose track of time when concentrating on something. Other senses can turn off as well. How often have you, future scholars, been startled out of contemplation by an irritated person trying to get your attention?
As I walked to the farmhouse, I noticed Sakiya talking to Hashire. She quickly moved a few feet from him when she saw me approaching.
I asked, “Gossiping with my unicorn, Sakiya. I wouldn’t believe most of what he says.”
“I was just telling him how handsome he is, even when not in unicorn form.”
“I think you need a pair of those ancient Dwemer devices. Spectacles, I think they are called.”
Before Hashire could insult me back, Rigmor called, “Guardian, come and see!”
I walked over to Rigmor. Lydia passed me the greatsword then left to take up her guard position.
Rigmor asked, “Well, what do you think?”
“You look fantastic! Like a well to do noble lady.”
“Yeah, I might ditch the satchel, though.”
“Whatever makes you comfortable, Rigmor.”
Rigmor ran over to the table, placed the satchel on it then hurried back.
I held up the greatsword and asked, “Do you remember this sword?”
“No, and if it is for me, I can’t, Guardian. I am not ready for that.”
“That is okay. You don’t have to carry a sword. The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable or feel pressured.”
“I want to remember, I do…really. So, just do what you gotta do, and I’ll follow, okay?”
“If you are ready, let’s head for the first place on your tour of Skyrim.”
“Where is it? What is it?”
“It was a surprise last time, so you will have to wait this time.”
“Ahh, which horse is mine?”
“His name is Ren. You named him after Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“Oh my, does he know?”
“I don’t think Ren cares.”
“No, I meant Baa’Ren-Dar…oh…you were kidding. Is it okay if I don’t try and remember any more of your jokes?”
“That is probably for the best. Anyway, I will introduce you to Ren after we teleport to Ivarstead.”
“It is best you experience it, then I will explain it. Place your hand on my shoulder and don’t let go. There is no danger. Do you trust me?”
“Yes, Guardian, I trust you.”
Rigmor placed her hand on my shoulder, and I teleported us to Ivarstead.
As soon as we materialised, I summoned the horses. Rigmor was still standing with a stunned expression when Ren neighed in her ear.
I laughed and said, “Ren just said hello.”
“I remember teleporting, Guardian. But not where to. And do I always have to put my hand on your shoulder?”
“No, like the horses, I can summon you. You have to accept the summoning, and that might have been a bit strange.”
“Okay. Can we please ride? That is enough weird stuff for now! And I sort of remember Ren. He is cute if a bit round.”
As we rode slowly out of Ivarstead, I was not surprised when Rigmor exclaimed, “Guardian, look at the size of that mountain!”
“You have been near the summit with me.”
“Did we teleport there?”
“Nope, we climbed the seven thousand steps.”
“Wow! That is so cool! Did I enjoy the walk?”
“You loved the views, Rigmor. You always like views from a height.”
I decided to let Rigmor dictate the conversation. I knew that she was sorting out the snippets of memories that sights along the way generated.
Hashire asked, “Why isn’t she exhausted, Wulf? I thought that Grand Healing always left people exhausted?”
“That happens when a person’s bones and organs need repairing. Celestine cast Grand Healing to eliminate some toxins in Rigmor’s body. I am amazed how quickly Rigmor recovered once I lay her down on a bed, and Sigunn attended her.”
“She is confused. There is an advantage to ears that rotate like mine, and I have been listening. That is how I know her memories are incomplete about the healing.”
“Rigmor remembers she loves Sigunn and others but not me, Hashire.”
“And are you making up terrible scenarios in that empty head?”
“Rigmor said she is not ready to use a sword. If she rejects that part of her past, am I also rejected? Is Rigmor taking this chance to discard aspects of her life with which she wasn’t happy?”
“Why would she be unhappy with you?”
“What happens when she remembers I failed as her guardian? What happens when she remembers I am the son of gods and have all these weird abilities?”
“If I were a brain trying to repair itself, I would leave the most life-changing revelations to last. That way, they can be placed in context with the other memories. Logically, Rigmor might accept that she once loved you, but it would seem hollow and abstract without other memories leading up to that love blossoming.”
“That is very observant of you.”
“Not really. Rigmor said, ‘Like a book with nothing on the pages.’”
“Has anybody ever told you it is rude to listen to private conversations?”
“I did it to help you, so forgive my rudeness!”
“I am not mad at you, Hashire. And that did help, so thank you. I hope Rigmor can cope with emotions that might accompany a rush of memories. It might be like standing before an avalanche.”
“Memories must have context. It is smart starting with later ones, but Rigmor will also have to sort through earlier ones. Otherwise, she would have no idea why some memories are important and why she acted a certain way in those memories.”
“Yes, I will have to be patient and not think the worst.”
“Sometimes, your illogic defies logic.”
“Just contemplating the illogic of that statement is enough to give me a headache.”
We passed a waterfall, and Rigmor asked, “You like waterfalls and rivers, don’t you, Guardian? Something to do with your childhood.”
“Yes, Rigmor. I grew up near rivers and waterfalls. They remind me of my childhood and therefore appeal to me as an adult.”
We rode past the young trolls. Their parents were with them this time.
Rigmor stopped and asked, “Why aren’t the trolls attacking?”
“I used some magic called Kyne’s Peace means that they don’t regard us as a threat or food.”
“Oh, then lead on, Guardian!”
Rigmor said, “I think I remember crossing this river.”
“Yes, we crossed it, and I warned you not to fall in. I told you I would have to go to Akavir to bring you back.”
“Nah, I don’t remember that bit.”
As soon as the camp came into sight, Rigmor leapt off Ben and ran towards the Lookout.
She called out with joy as she ran, “I remember this place. Oh, my, it is all still here.”
I leapt off Hashire and ran to catch up with her.
I stood beside Rigmor and just watched for several seconds. She whispered to herself, “Azura. Over there. I remember…”
I said, “That is quite a view, huh!”
Rigmor turned to me and asked, “This is the last place we came before it went wrong, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“You gave me a dress to wear, it was red, and you watched me pick flowers. I kept them, and…and when you got hurt, I left you a trail in case you came for me.”
“I found them, and I have kept them. The flowers are special to me. But you were gone by the time I got to the last one.”
“He tricked us, didn’t he?”
“Yes, he did. I failed to protect you.”
“No, don’t think that. I can’t remember the details, but I know Aedriath tricked us. Is he still alive?”
“We saved Sorella from a dark place, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we did.”
“Wait…there’s something else….”
Rigmor observed my face as she asked, “Were we…yanno?”
Tears came unbidden.
Rigmor said, “Oh, I’m sorry, Guardian.”
“I am going to sit over near the fire. We can continue to talk there when you are ready.”
“Yes, you go ahead. I just want to take this scene in a bit longer.”
“Rigmor, think about the last flower you dropped.”
“Is that another clue? Like you asked me to look into my heart?”
Rigmor turned back to the view.
I walked to a chair and sat down. I was at a loss. How could Rigmor remember some details yet not the ones that count?
I used Zoom-Vision to watch Rigmor and wondered if she thought about the flower.
After ten minutes, Rigmor came over. As she walked, she hummed a tune that I did not know.
Rigmor sat on a stump then stared at me.
After five or so seconds of looking deep into my eyes, Rigmor said, “We were about to enter the fort after rescuing mum and ended up laughing about something silly. We often laugh about silly things, don’t we?”
“Some people who see us in fits of giggles or laughter think we are slightly insane.”
“Later on, I was scared and upset, and I asked you to promise that you would never let me go.”
“Yes, and I replied, ‘I can’t promise, but I will try. I will not stop out of choice. I hope that is good enough.’”
“That wasn’t the first time you said those words to me, were they?”
“No, it wasn’t.”
I was laughing at something again. Then I told you, “My dear, Wulf. I love you and will always love you.’”
“Seconds later, they were dragging you away from me. I could not stop them. And Rigmor, that is the first time you have used my name.”
“Oh, and you are not Guardian. You are my Guardian!”
“And your Dragonborn, Dragonbum, weirdo and many other names.”
‘I remember the love in your eyes, Wulf. Then the bolt struck, and I watched you die. I could have killed them all easily. Instead, I dropped my sword and watched as they stabbed you. But you didn’t die. I could still sense you somehow. And even though I was terrified, I knew you would come and get me, and they would pay for what they were doing. Therefore, I dropped the flowers, and you followed them and found me.”
“Lady Azura held a part of my soul within my body, but my Consciousness floated in The Void. I used our love to strengthen my will and find my way back from The Void and into my body. That took more than three days.”
“The last flower was the one I used to carry next to my heart. I wrapped it in a kerchief and had it inside my gauntlet. I would bring it out and look at it sometimes. I remember our time together, Wulf, but not all.”
“You wrote me a song. When we were last here, you sang it to me.”
“Yeah, right! In your dreams.”
- There is a small child lost in the dark. In my dreams, she’s still there.
- She has fallen, and she waits. Will someone come? Might someone care?
- Her heart, she’ll give you, her love be true. Where’s her Dragonborn, to save her, to never let her go?
Rigmor stared into infinity, then said, “You told me how much you liked it. Then you held my hand, kissed me, and…you grabbed my arse!”
“I was just checking for splinters.”
“I know we both wanted to make love but decided we needed somewhere more secluded where we could take our time. But we have never…you know…have we?”
“No. We have never…you know.”
Rigmor giggled and said, “Well, there is a tent near the fire.”
Rigmor’s upbeat mood was short-lived as she recalled, “We talked about my mum and how she was a schoolteacher and how everything changed….”
“Rigmor, you must remember the bad with the good.”
“They killed my dad, Guardian! I don’t know if I want to remember.”
“It’s okay. These memories make you who you are, and never be afraid of that. You will be able to face them in your own time.”
“They make me who I am? How much about me do you know?”
“Tell me when I have bored you enough with my extensive Rigmor knowledge.”
“If I yawn, take that as a hint. If I hit you, you didn’t take the hint.”
“Okay, let me think….
- You breathe fourteen times per minute, like clockwork, when asleep.
- Your heart beats between sixty-five and seventy times per minute when asleep.
- You love red mountain flowers and red dresses.
- You named your horse after Baa’Ren-Dar.
- You had a best friend you met when she stole the doll your father made you.
- That best friend’s name is LoonaShadow. Loona for short. She was half Bosmer and Half Dunmer.
- You threw snowballs at the Bruma Guards.
- You loved to go to the relatively warm Imperial City, take your coat off and enjoy the sun on your face.
- Your mum taught you how to read and write.
- You love to read for hours and were mute for months until you discovered Baa’Ren-Dar’s library one day.
- You studied fine art, poetry and song.
- You have to sleep on your side because of the pain from your scars.
I stopped even though I could have gone on for ages. Rigmor had to face her demons, and I knew which memories contained them.
Rigmor said, “Keep going. I am not bored yet.”
I replied, “Your father taught you how to use the sword by making you use bigger and heavier ones each time you got used to the one you had. I know that swordmasters taught you because Baa’Ren-Dar hired them at your request. I know you think you should be like a son because your father said you had to be. I know Ragnar would be proud of the warrior you have become.”
“I don’t know about that Guardian. I know there’s a part of me that fits the term warrior. But it seems so long ago I was ever that. I can’t envisage it right now. I don’t even want to.”
“You will need to remember what you have done, but that does not mean you have to be what you were. I see no need for you to take up arms right now. Others may expect that of Rigmor, daughter of the ‘Beast of Hammerfell’. You can tell them to shove that notion up their backsides. Being good with a sword is one tiny part of Rigmor Ragnarsdottier. It does not define who you are!”
“Can we change the subject? What else do you know of me?”
“I know you love the word ‘Albatross’ and hate ‘cool’.”
“Hahaha! Good try, Dragonbum!”
“Dragonbum? Well, I also know you have beautiful bum cheeks!”
“The hot springs! You pervert!”
“See, you are doing good. Don’t hold back.”
“Ahh…mom and dad…Cyrodiil. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to go home?”
“I said I would take you to wherever you decide is home. That is if you decided to leave me and….”
“Shush! After that kiss, I said, ‘No matter what happens, Wulf, I will always be there for you. I want us to experience life together, no matter the dangers or difficulties.”
“Yes, but do you remember all my secrets, Rigmor?”
“No, but I did when I made that commitment. And I told you again before we entered the fort to confront Aedriath. Therefore, the secrets that I am yet to remember are irrelevant. I love you, Wulf, and want us to experience life together.”
“I have been so scared, Rigmor.”
“It is all coming together, for good or worse. I’ll guess I’ll have to face it as it comes back.”
“There are many who love you and can help.”
“I know some things I would rather not remember and some things about me I would rather forget for which I carry the scars.”
Rigmor was doing so well. Woe to anybody who drags her back into the darkness from which she has emerged!
Rigmor continued, “I know there are some things I have done that I am not proud of, but at least I don’t feel angry anymore. I just feel so tired.”
“Why don’t you rest in the tent. I’ll watch over you.”
“You were humming a song as you walked towards me. I don’t think I know that one.”
“Oh, it is just something I picked up some time ago.”
“Please, would you sing it? For me?”
“Sing it? No…I don’t know….”
“There is nothing wrong with your voice, and it may help loosen some more memories.”
“You mean it about my voice?”
“I don’t do false flattery. I don’t lie. You have a fine voice.”
Rigmor sang, and her voice was exquisite.
- Come sail away with me, out of the darkness and into the light.
- Come sail away with me, on a river of tears I’ve cried.
- Into the promised land, we can begin again.
- Lift up our hearts, and build a new society.
- Come sail away with me, out of the darkness and into the light.
- Come sail away with me, on a river of tears I’ve cried.
- And we’ll have no fear of their swords and spears.
- Together, we’ll stand proud and tall, or together we will die and fall.
- The true price of freedom.
I waited for a few seconds, then said, “Like last time, that was truly amazing. Did you write that one as well?”
“No, it was a song I learned in Valenwood from an old Redguard. He’d been there since, I dunno, like forever.”
“Can you remember his name?”
“Don’t worry. His name might be something that pops into your head when you are not even thinking about it.”
“I suppose I will have to get used to that!”
“As I said before, you don’t have to face this alone.”
“Thank you, Wulf.”
“Why don’t you have that rest now. A good hour or two of sleep will help. Then we shall visit Whiterun. You liked that city.”
“Will you sit close while I sleep in the tent?”
“Okay, I will. Just for a little while.”
“I will be back in a second. I just have to retrieve some books from Hashire’s box.”
As Rigmor settled into the tent, I walked over to Hashire.
When I opened his box, there was not just the information from the college, but two sets of costly clothing. There was a red dress for Rigmor and a blue and gold outfit for me.
Hashire said, “Surprise! Sakiya thought you two needed to relax, and it was about time Rigmor saw you outside of a tin can.”
“Yes, Rigmor has never seen me in anything but armour.”
“Find some time to be alone, Wulf. Make new memories and not just reminisce while discussing old ones.”
“Yes, oh wise one.”
“Honestly, it is a wonder you remember to breathe.”
I gently placed the garments in my journal case, which was turning into a ‘carry anything you can stuff into it’ case.
I moved the chair closer to Rigmor then sat to read the information.
The Arch-Mage had spent time writing the information into a book for me. The first part was Rigmor’s ancestral tree.
Emperor Titus Mede the First and a commoner called Rigmor of Cyrodiil had an illegitimate daughter, Morganna, in 4E 48. Rigmor of Cyrodiil died during the birth.
Ysolda was the only daughter of Morganna and was born 4E 80. She was known as Ysolda the Witch or just The Witch.
A daughter, Fjona, was born to Ysolda in 4E 115. Ysolda died in 4E 115. The records are unclear if she died birthing Fjona.
Fjona was an imposing, red-haired mercenary warrior over six feet tall with long, curly red hair. Hence, she was known as Fjona the Red.
Fjona died birthing Ragnar Fjonasson in 4E 145. It seems that death giving birth was an unwanted trait of the lineage.
Rigmor was born in 4E 182 to Ragnar and Sigunn.
Rigmor is a great time four Granddaughter of Emperor Titus Mede I.
Rigmor is a First Cousin, five times removed, of Emperor Titus Mede II.
Rigmor of Cyrodiil was a mercenary who became a hero during the Oblivion Crises. She aided The Hero of Kvatch to close an Oblivion Gate. She exited back to Mundus just before the Sigil Stone was struck. She also helped defend Bruma against waves of Daedra from three lesser Oblivion Gates. The strong defence forced Mehrunes Dagon to open a Great Oblivion Gate that Martin Septim and The Hero of Kvatch then entered to retrieve, not destroy, the Sigil Stone.
Arch-Mage Savos Aren wrote that much more information would be forthcoming when I met with Jonte Malesam.
Rigmor is a distant relation to two Emperors of the Mede Dynasty. That does not make her special enough for gods to take notice. There are other people I know of who have closer blood links to both emperors. Jarl Elisif is Emperor Titus Mede II’s niece via an illegitimate half-sister. Vittoria Vici is a well-known noble of Solitude and is a great time three Granddaughter of Emperor Titus Mede I and a first cousin, one place removed of Emperor Titus Mede II.
Mede blood carries no blessings, unlike my Septim blood, which is that of Saint Alessia. It would not be what makes Rigmor of interest to some Daedric Princes.
Rigmor’s Mede bloodline was interesting, but what Arch-Mage Savos Aren then wrote shocked me.
His Imperial Highness, Emperor Titus Mede II, wants to bestow the County of Bruma to Rigmor as compensation for the treatment of her family under his rule. Ragnar’s titles are to be reinstated into the Book of Lists even if Rigmor refuses the title of Countess.
What was even more disturbing is that, according to the Royal Writ, representatives of The College of Winterhold are to be made available to descendants of Morganna as protectors and advisors. Jonte Malesam and Cerys have been allocated that position if Rigmor accepts the post of Countess or not.
I looked over at my sleeping beloved and wondered what she would decide. Would it mean our farm is closer or further away from being? I will tell her as soon as she is well enough to handle this new twist to our story.
I let Rigmor’s body decide how much rest she needed.
After almost three hours, Rigmor woke and groggily got to her feet.
She asked, “Are we going to the farmhouse?”
“Oh, yeah, you said that before I went to sleep. Cool!”
“Let me explain to Hashire what we are doing.”
“I am sure your horse will not care what we are doing.”
“Oh, we will see about that.”
Hashire must have been using those big, swivelling ears to listen in once more. He had changed to his unicorn form.
Rigmor stared at him and, in a comedic piece of Déjà Vu, said, “Wulf, your horse is a unicorn!”
I asked, “Does that bring back memories?”
“Yes, at Angi’s place. I saw him then.”
I said out loud, “Okay, Hashire. Normal horse and saddle, thank you.”
Hashire changed into a black horse.
Rigmor laughed, then said, “He has that endless ale! I am glad I remembered that!”
She grabbed the bottle, chugged it then placed the empty in the holder. A second later, a corked full bottle replaced it.”
Rigmor said, “Cool!” then belched like it was Thu’um enhanced.
Hashire said, “No wonder you love this woman! That was impressive.”
I told Rigmor, “Okay, this time I will summon you. Just accept the summons, and it will be the same as before. You will be in the dark and cold then with me in Whiterun.”
I teleported to Whiterun’s stables, then summoned Rigmor and our mounts.
Rigmor looked over at the watchtower.
Then she asked, “Did something happen at that tower?”
“Yeah, you might say that. It will come to you because it was pretty amazing!”
“I hate you!”
“See, your memories are flooding back already!”
“What does Baa’Ren-Dar call me?”
“Dragonborn…oh…we fought and killed a dragon there!”
“Yes, it was the second one we fought together.”
“I can’t remember the first.”
“It doesn’t matter, Rigmor. It is no use trying to make these memories surface. They will do so by themselves. Sometimes just a hint like I just gave is enough. But I can’t guess every memory that remains hidden.”
“Will they all come back at once?”
“There is a good chance. As long as you can place them in context, that would be good. But it could also be confusing. We just have to wait and see what happens.”
“You do that a lot, don’t you? If you can’t predict what will happen, you will just react to what does.”
“That is what I was trained to do. To assess the situation and act quickly.”
“So, is there a tavern in Whiterun?”
“We are in Skyrim. Every town of more than ten people had a tavern. Whiterun has many.”
As we walked past Ri’saad’s caravan spot, Rigmor stopped then said, “Wulf, quick, follow me!”
Rigmor darted across the grass at quite an impressive rate. Kyne’s Peace was in effect, so I did not worry about the many beasts in the area.
I caught up to her and asked, “What is it, Rigmor? We have never been here before, so it can’t be a memory.”
She turned to me and said, “It was here!”
“What was here?”
“The battlefield in my dreams. I remember the walls of the castle. There was a storm.”
“Is this where the little girl brought you in your recurring dream?”
“But you never complete the dream, do you?”
“When she tries to show me something, I get scared, and the dream ends. Has there been a battle here before?”
“Not for a long time. But this is where I expect one of the major battles with The New Order will happen soon.”
“Then why the dream?”
“Most people with foresight can’t make much sense of their visions. That is why a lot of them turn to Azura for guidance. But yours seems different. It is like you are having a repeating premonition rather than a dream.”
“I’m sorry, what…?”
“The little girl is trying to tell you something about the battle that may occur here soon. Only by looking at what she is pointing to will you know what that is.”
“But why? I don’t want to be in the battle! That is for soldiers, not me!”
“You do not have to be fighting. You might just be observing. But this is speculation. Once again, we might just have to wait to figure it out.”
“You want to be here and fighting if this is where the war comes. Don’t you?”
“I don’t see how The New Order hopes to win since we have shown we are ready, but they will try. They are predictable and will attack Whiterun, as every other invader of Skyrim has done. I never want to fight, Rigmor. However, defeating The New Order at Whiterun will shorten the war and reduce the number of casualties. I kill quickly and efficiently, so others survive. Therefore, I will fight The New Order here and not leave one of them alive.”
“Come on, Wulf. Show me Whiterun!”
We turned and headed back towards the city gates.
Several people greeted their Thane as we walked, including guards upon the battlements.
Rigmor said, “You were given the title Thane for killing the dragon. Lydia became your housecarl, and…oh…she lost her fiancé to a dragon attack!”
“His name was Bjorn, and he worked as a guard in Helgen. The dragon that destroyed Helgen is Alduin, The World Eater. I have to find a way to defeat him. Lydia wants revenge, so shall fight by my side.”
We entered Whiterun, and Rigmor exclaimed, “Yes, I remember this place. It is a beautiful city!”
“Come on then, let’s go to The Bannered Mare. We can sit, eat, drink and try to talk. It will be very crowded, so seats will be hard to get.”
“You’re their Thane. Tell them to move or be beheaded!”
“There is way too much paperwork where beheadings are concerned.”
“Oh well. Perhaps you can just loom over them menacingly.”
“Yeah, I can do that.”
As we walked past Breezehome, Rigmor stopped.
“This is your house. Celestine, Lydia and me had a good look around and liked it a lot.”
‘It is called Breezehome, and I haven’t even looked at half of it. We have been so busy.”
“You told me important things in there. Things I want to remember, Wulf. But I know the memories are coming, and I must be patient.”
“I can see it was the right thing to do, coming here. Your memories are returning at a good pace.”
As the sun was setting, the traders made their last sales for the day. Many of them will soon head for The Bannered Mare.
We entered the tavern, and Rigmor almost ran to claim a table that seemed to have just been vacated.
I joined Rigmor at the table and remained silent as she did her familiar stare into infinity. The light and shade caused by the open firepit played across her face.
I waited for her to speak to me.
After three or four minutes, Rigmor said, “It is nice and warm in here.”
“Do you want me to get you some food? A drink?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Was I was right about Whiterun helping you remember things?”
“It has helped me a lot! I still feel a little confused, but I think all that before, you know, the anger. I think it has all gone now.”
“How about I throw a few yes and no questions at you. So that I have an idea of what you have remembered.”
“I just say ‘yes’ if I remember and or ‘no’ if I don’t?”
“That is the idea.”
“Your father’s arrest?”
“The Bosmer gangmasters?”
“Your time in Torval?”
“Mostly. Is that alright to say?”
“Of course. I don’t expect you will have full recall.”
“The time Angi looked after you?”
“Your leap into the tree?”
“You were in and out of consciousness, so that is not surprising.”
“But you, Celestine and Meeko were there. I remember that clearly.”
“Yes, and that beautiful dragon along the way.”
“Oh, that scared me. I was terrible to you later because of that.”
“And I sort of understood why. I didn’t know your full story then.”
“No, you didn’t. I had to tell you piece by piece.”
“Our first trip to Riften?”
“You ignored my protests about that red dress. And you got a bit mad at Baa’Ren-Dar. And we were attacked by some Argonian mercenaries.”
“The hot springs?”
“Windhelm and Sethri?”
“What a dump!”
“I think we could go all night, so just a few more.”
“The New Order?”
“It is not surprising you don’t remember the altar. You were unconscious. The New Order did something to you, which is why your memory is a bit wobbly.”
“All over the place like a buckled carriage wheel?”
“Yes, it is wobbly. I like that word.”
“But not as much as Albatross!”
“You have already tried that, and if you do it again, I will kick you.”
“Do you remember what happened after you dropped the last flower?”
“The rest of the place collapsed in a big cloud of dust. Most of it had already fallen before the bolt hit you. They took me down the mountain, and at one stage, there was a stream and a huge city carved into the rocks.”
“That would have been Markarth.”
“Aedriath was furious! He had a big argument with some other Thalmor, but these guys were different. More important.”
“They should have executed him!”
“They placed me in a cell, and he was not with them when they came for me.”
“Aedriath was still trying to hold onto his toy and threw a tantrum when the grownups took it from him.”
“Is that how he regarded me? Do you know who the others were and why he was not with them?”
“There was a change of plans. We can go over that later when you are ready because some things are unpleasant.”
“What happened next?”
“I tried to struggle, but they hit me and forced me to drink something. Then they placed a sack over my head. That’s about it until I….”
Rigmor stared into infinity once more.
After a few seconds, I said, “I think I understand why you don’t want to carry a sword anymore. But to make sure, can you please explain it to me?”
“I want my life back. I realise now that it was all a lie and that my life has never been mine. Not really. I want to discover myself without the point of my blade in someone’s guts, without blood in the dirt. I want to discover why I have this dream I keep having. What is she trying to tell me?”
Rigmor’s anger grew, and her voice became louder as she continued, “I don’t want to live with a killer inside of me. I don’t want to have a ‘destiny’ or be the son I never was, or ever could be.”
Rigmor was furious when she said, “I don’t want to care about that bastard anymore! I don’t want to be afraid or have to keep looking over my shoulder.”
Rigmor growled as she exclaimed, “I want to feel the sun’s warmth on my face again and go home. I want to be free, Wulf, and I don’t want to play this game anymore!”
I laughed then said, “And there is the determined, confident Rigmor that I adore. Welcome back!”
“By the gods. I feel sick. I remember everything!”
“Your memories, good and bad, make you who you are. Without them, you are somebody different and a shadow of the real you.”
“So, how do we move forward? What is next for us?”
“I don’t know, Rigmor. You don’t want to live with the killer inside you. How can you live with the killer opposite you?”
“No, we are not going there again, my silly Dragonborn! I love you!”
“I never want to leave your side, but that is not my choice, is it?”
“As long as you are by my side when you can be, you will fulfil that promise, that commitment. I thought you realised that we need each other, and that is all that matters?”
“I never want to break your heart. I never want you to regret our love.”
“I can’t think of anybody I would rather be with right now or in the future.”
“Even if that is in small chunks as I get dragged all over Nirn by The Nine? Even if you have to sit and wait as I go into the unknown with no surety that I will return? You would be saying goodbye to me far more often than the wife of a soldier.”
“I will repeat my commitment to you a million times if I have to, my silly Dragonborn.”
“Not to me, Rigmor. The commitment is to us.”
“Yes, we need to be together.”
“I am glad we came here. Why don’t we just relax and enjoy the music for a while?”
“Okay, but if that bard plays that Ragnar the Red song once again….”
“You will shove his flute or lute up his chute? At least Wilbur is better than Mikael, but I will go and warn him his anus is in danger!”
Rigmor laughed that laugh as I made my way to the bard.
Dae, a Blade fugitive from Akavir, saw me approaching Wilbur and stood to greet me.
I told him, “There is no time to talk. Head for the Safe House. Nearly everybody is there.”
“Will do, Thane, Dragonborn or whatever you are at the moment. Nice armour!”
I quickly moved to Wilbur and said, “Excuse me, Wilbur. Can I please make a request?”
“Certainly, Thane. What will it be?”
“Anything but Ragnar the Red.”
“Can I ask why? That is one of my most popular tunes.”
Rigmor yelled across the room, “Because, arsehole, if you sing that song again, it will be your head rolling across the floor.”
As Dae walked past, he chuckled and said, “I might stay a while longer and watch the fun!”
Wilbur shouted back to Rigmor, “I’ll sing any song I jolly well like!”
Rigmor replied, “Is that so? We will see about that!”
Rigmor got out of her chair and started walking towards Wilbur. He was stupid enough to stand there and stare at her with his arms crossed. I quickly rushed to intercept Rigmor. Dae found a spot near the fire and watched.
Vivienne, a young barkeep, stepped from behind the counter and stood defiantly in front of Rigmor.
She told Rigmor, “Get out! This is a fine establishment so get out before I call the guards.”
“Hey lady, get out of my face!” was Rigmor’s not so polite reply.
“Guards, guards!” yelled Vivienne.
Vivienne showed great courage as she stared down a cross-armed Rigmor.
There are always guards posted near the entrance of The Bannered Mare. They are quite happy to act as bouncers, and one soon came storming through the front door as Vivienne, Wilbur, and Rigmor stared at each other.
I could hear Dae chuckling. The young mage will love telling the other Blades of Wulf’s troubles in Whiterun.
I quickly stepped between the guard and Rigmor. She would kick him in the cobblers if he laid a hand on her.
“What is the problem?” the guard asked Vivienne.
“Get them out of here. They are both barred!”
I protested, “Hey, what did I do?”
The Whiterun Guard said, “Okay, you two, you heard the lady, out you go.”
Rigmor replied, “Hey, this place stinks! We don’t care.”
The guard stared at me in horror. He was evicting the Thane and thought that was not a brilliant career move.
As Rigmor shoved past him, I told him, “Relax, Guard Alfarnesson. You fought bravely beside Rigmor and me against the dragon. You are simply doing your duty and doing it well.”
“You remember me, Thane?”
“Of course, and I apologise for Rigmor. I just rescued her from The Thalmor, and she is a bit disorientated.”
“Oh, I will make sure that Vivienne knows but for now….”
“For now, I had better remove Rigmor before she starts a riot.”
I caught up with Rigmor. Just as we were about to exit, Vivienne yelled, “I am disgusted. That is not how a Lady is supposed to behave!”
Rigmor turned and replied, “Who said I was a lady?”
I whispered, “Come on, Lady Ramsbottom, before you get into a catfight.”
“I still owe you for that name, you peasant.”
We made our way outside.
Once we were at the bottom of the steps and therefore legally outside The Bannered Mare’s property, we stopped, and Rigmor looked at me with barely hidden amusement.
“Thanks, Rigmor! I am probably the first Thane in the history of Skyrim to get tossed out of his local inn.”
“Hey, don’t mention it!”
Rigmor laughed, and I stood mesmerised.
When she finally calmed down, I said, “You are something. I am not quite sure what, but yes, you are something.”
“Where shall we go now?”
“There are other taverns, but I thought Breezehome is probably the next place we should try. You said you remembered everything, but I doubt that.”
“Lead on, Thane.”
We held hands as we walked to Breezehome and were subjected to whispers and stares from the local gossipers. Rigmor raspberried a few, and I managed a rather loud fart as we passed by two elderly ladies. They started gagging as a result, but I am sure they will recover to gossip another day.
We entered Breezehome, and I told Rigmor to wander around like when I first purchased it in case that jogged more memories.
I went into the main bedroom and removed the red dress from my journal case. I lay it, a belt and matching shoes on the bed.
I exited the bedroom then called Rigmor, and she came upstairs to see what I wanted.
“If you go into the bedroom, you will find a surprise. I will wait here like a gentleman.”
“A surprise? You have brought the red dress with you, haven’t you?”
“Go and look.”
Rigmor walked into the bedroom. When she saw the dress on the bed, she squealed then exclaimed, “Oh, it is beautiful. I will put it on, and I don’t need your help, so stay there!”
Rigmor closed the doors. I stared at them in anticipation.
About fifteen minutes later, Rigmor said, “Okay, Wulf, I am opening the doors!”
The doors slowly opened, and I gasped.
Rigmor had that unsure look on her face. The one where she thinks her beauty is questionable.
I whispered, “Come closer.”
Rigmor took a tentative step towards me and halted.
I exclaimed, “You are stunning and beautiful! The dress is trying hard to compete but fails miserably.”
“You have told me many times. I suppose I had better start believing it.”
“Yes, you better.”
“Where did you get the dress from?”
“It was amongst my collection at the Safe House. Hashire and Sakiya plotted together. When Sakiya went to the Safe House to retrieve your riding outfit, she also brought back that dress and an outfit for me. She placed them in Hashire’s box. I put them inside my journal case.”
“Well then, get out of that smelly armour and into your new clothes!”
“I will wait for you downstairs.”
I was pretty impressed with the clothes chosen by Sakiya. They were High Rock influenced with the pantaloons but had far less lace around the collars and cuffs than their dandies preferred.
I walked downstairs, and it was Rigmor’s turn to look stunned.
I said, “I bet, Rigmor, you can’t remember seeing me in anything but armour.”
“That is because you haven’t. So, do I still look like a gentleman?”
“While I was waiting, I remembered the conversation we had over there, by the fire. So, in answer to your question, you look like the royalty you are, Wulf Septim.”
I briefly debated with myself. Should I tell Rigmor about the offer from Mede now? I decided it wasn’t the appropriate time. She was still recovering memories, and I wanted that process completed. That way, Rigmor can make a more informed decision on acceptance or not.
I replied, “I am Wulf, Guardian of Rigmor Ragnarsdottier. That is the grandest title anybody could aspire to.”
“Wulf, there is a ladder in that small alcove. It leads to a turret where we can see the stars, moons and aurora.”
“Well then, we had better go and have a look.”
The turret was wonderful. From it, we could see over the city walls and for miles around Whiterun. We could also observe the people below. Some moved slowly, hands held or intertwined arms with their lover. Children ran around as they probably had been doing most of the day. Some were weary from their day’s labour and heading for a well-earned sleep.
Rigmor stood to my right and linked her arm through mine.
She asked, “What is the aurora?”
“Do you want a logical, scientific answer or one that my mother told her six-year-old son?”
“Haha, the made-up one from your mom, of course.”
“When people’s souls reach Aetherius, they are no longer sad, no matter how shitty their life was. They remember everything and know they have reached their afterlife and left worries and tragedies behind them. They are not ignorant of the suffering of loved ones left behind but know they will join them in Aetherius one day and share the same peace and ease of burdens.
Those who were old or crippled or missing limbs or blind or deaf or suffered other ailments became whole and healthy when entering Aetherius. Mother even said Minotaur recovered their wings once torn from their roots by racists who imprisoned them.
The souls in Aetherius feel such joy that they dance each night whilst holding lanterns. The lanterns are of the colours you see in the aurora. The waving is the rhythm of the dance the souls perform. Minotaur fly between the dancers and laugh.”
“That is lovely, Wulf. So, I am not the only one to teach you of beauty in nature?”
“No, and I have learned to see all around us differently. I look at an animal or tree or even a rock and find myself searching for the beauty within. I had forgotten Mother’s lessons along the way. You reminded me.”
“What about all the stars?”
“You would know that when you get away from the lights of a city, you see more. They are even there during the day, but you can’t see them because of the bright sun.”
“Some say that they are holes made by Magnus and the others when they refused to join the Gods in creating Nirn.”
“Religious mumbo jumbo. In this case, the scientific explanation is far more interesting. The stars are other suns, like ours but far away. There are other planets like Nirn with people so weird in looks and manners we can’t even imagine them. I saw some souls of beings from other worlds float by in The Void when I was…I was…”
“When you were on your way back to me.”
“Yes, if you want to look at it that way.”
“Well, the other sun idea is far more interesting than holes! What about the moons?”
“They are made of cheese.”
“Hahaha! You don’t believe that, do you?”
“Khajiiti, like all cats, love milk. But big round blobs of milk would not last long up there. The next best thing to milk is cheese. Therefore, the Khajiiti gods made big cheese balls that could survive there. Khajiiti, being cats, love cheese, which is why they worship the moons.”
Rigmor looked sceptical. I moved to her right and pointed at Masser.
I told her, “If you look where I am pointing, you can see the teeth marks of the giant rat-god who tried to eat Masser.”
“I can tell you are lying, my Guardian.”
“Your mouth is moving.”
“Ouch, my wounded pride!”
“Do you like camping? We haven’t had a chance as it has been too dangerous.”
“I would rather sleep out under the stars than in some inn.”
“Well, we won’t be booking a room at The Bannered Mare for some time.”
“That laugh! Remember when you were so angry in Windhelm, and then we talked.”
“Another of my ‘take it out on Wulf’ moments. Yes, I remember we sat and talked, and I laughed about naming my horse after Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“We had just finished talking about some of the darkest of times. You survived horrors that would crush most people and turn them bitter. You still didn’t know if your mum lived or where she was.”
“You cried when your dragon eyes were yellow from anger.”
“When you laughed about Ben, I once again glimpsed the wonderful woman that was hidden under the anger, worries and pain. I was already madly in love with you, but that laugh stole my heart. I knew I could love no other.”
“Wulf, will you make love to me?”
I turned Rigmor around so she was looking me in the eyes, then asked her, “Are you sure? That is a big step to take and.….”
“Shh! You have woken the woman in me. You found her and dragged her out into the sunshine, and now she is here. I love you, and I want you. I have never been so sure of anything in my whole life.”
I stood like an idiot. Mouth open, not knowing what to say.
“I will take that blank look as yes. Give me five minutes. I will wait for you in the bedroom.”
As Rigmor climbed down the ladder and headed for the bedroom, I thought about what this meant.
Did I think this would be a mistake? Did I have reservations? Not for a second! I am not a slave to lust. I do not have this overwhelming need to experience the pleasures of the flesh. I do not judge those who pursue such things with willing partners. Rigmor and I are deeply in love. I knew she wanted and needed this for far more complex reasons than lust, and so did I.
The question of the life offered by Mede made me pause. Should she know of that before we take this next step? We have anticipated this moment, and If it weren’t for her capture, we would have made love days ago. No, this was the right time, and nothing changed that.
I waited a few minutes, then made my way to the bedroom. Rigmor was sitting naked on the bed.
I slowly disrobed and walked towards her. Rigmor turned, looked for a second, gasped and then quickly turned back to resume her nervous, upright sitting position. I quietly chuckled.
I sat on the bed next to Rigmor and turned her face towards me. I told her, “I am as nervous as you.”
“But I am wretched and ugly. How can anyone love me?”
“You are the most beautiful woman on Nirn, and I love you more than life itself.”
“But my body is scarred. I’ll understand if you don’t want to.”
“Your scars, temper, eyes, laugh, determination, and a million other parts go together to make the woman I love.”
“Wulf, are you sure?”
“With all my heart, body and soul.”
“I am so nervous.”
“We will learn together, my beloved.”
We taught each other how to kiss, where to kiss and when to kiss.
We taught each other how to touch, where to touch and when to touch.
Giggles, laughter and shyness slowly turned to sighs, moans and boldness.
We explored and discovered, and loved.
My desire erased Rigmor’s doubts about her beauty.
When her soul and body told her she was ready, Rigmor guided me slowly.
Pain, a little, soon replaced by need, and slowly we continued.
Then we were one.
Then we were everything.
There were no sounds but our breathing, sighs, moans and loins.
There were no smells but our hair, breath, sweat and sex.
There were no tastes but our lips, skin and tears.
There were no sensations but the giving and receiving of pleasure.
No guilt. No doubts. No regrets.
We shared our bodies, our souls and our love.
It was right.
It was beautiful.
Rigmor’s peaks were a celebration of womanhood.
Her final one coincided with mine.
As our breathing and heartbeats subsided, there was no need for words.
Rigmor turned on her side, and I held her close.
We were soon in the depths of sleep, untroubled by fear, fate or destiny.