Morndas, 15th Hearthfire, 4E 201
& Tirdas, 16th Hearthfire, 4E 201
When I entered the farmhouse, Sigunn stood with her back to Sethri, who was sitting at the table in his underpants.
I walked over to the annoyed Sigunn, who asked, “How is Rigmor’s memory?”
“Rigmor has been doing very well, but we just had a bit of a setback. I think she could do with sleep and me sitting by her bed once again.”
“What kind of setback?”
“I think Rigmor is having difficulty with memories of Ragnar and has been trying to live up to false expectations.”
“We still haven’t had a chance for a long talk, mother to daughter.”
“Hopefully, all of this will be over soon. Are you and Sethri getting along?”
“What an obnoxious person! He took a bath in the lake and hasn’t gotten dressed since. He has been annoying Angi too. You might want to tell him to put some clothes on.”
“Did you ask him?”
“I tried telling him earlier, but he insists that it is his farmhouse. Therefore, he can do whatever he likes.”
“I will tell him what the rules are, and he had better listen.”
Rigmor called out, “Wulf!”
I rushed into the bedroom. At first, I was amused by a clean Sorella wearing a high-quality dress with brushed hair and a clean face! She had been sitting and talking to Rigmor.
“Rigmor, I am here. Are you okay?”
“Thank you, Wulf.”
“Thank you for what?”
“For being here for me.”
“We are here for each other. An inseparable pair. I will always be around to annoy you.”
“I love you, Wulf.”
“And I love you with every fibre of my being. Please, Rigmor, remember that you do not have to do anything you don’t want to. Not now and not in the future. Now lie your head on the pillow and get some sleep!”
“Wulf, will you guard me tonight?”
“Yes, Rigmor. I will be here all night.”
Rigmor lay down, and I kissed her on the forehead.
I then turned to Sorella and asked, “Hello, little girl. My name is Wulf, and I am wondering where Sorella is. What is your name?”
“It is me, Wulf!”
“Glad to meet you, Me.”
“No, Wulf, it is me, Sorella!”
“Mesorella? What a pretty name.”
Sorella put her hand on her hip and looked like she was ready to put an arrow in my head.
I laughed and said, “I know it is you, Sorella. How do you like being clean and in a dress instead of smelly furs?”
“They tricked me, Wulf! Sigunn said Bashita had brought a new dress and shoes for me and that they were in my bedroom. Angi grabbed me and tried to undress me when I walked in, but I bit and struggled. Then Sigunn joined her, and when I was naked, they put me in a bath with soap and everything!”
“Oh, you poor thing! Did they scrub all that dirt off you?”
“That’s not fair. You spent so long collecting it!”
“Then they washed my hair and poured buckets of water over me, and I nearly drowned!”
“Was it fun when they brushed your hair?”
“No! There were many knots and tangles, and Angi taught me new swear words as she did it.”
“What colour was the bathwater when you got out of the tub?”
“A kind of muddy brown, and things were floating on top like twigs and other things, and I have no idea what they were or where they came from.”
“Sorella, we all loved you when you were grubby and pongy. We don’t love you more now you are clean and not pongy. However, don’t you like being clean more than grubby?”
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
“If you bathe regularly, you might find it can be fun.”
“That is what Celestine said. And Bashita did buy me this dress. Oh, and new shoes and pretty underwear. Angi says she will get new furs and leather armour for when we are hunting, but a little girl should look like a little girl when she can.”
“I hope you don’t mind me sitting and looking after Rigmor while she sleeps.”
“You did it the other night, and I didn’t mind because you didn’t snore or blow off. Unlike Sethri, who thinks it is funny to blow off all the time. He walks around in his underwear which is rude!”
“I will have a good talk with him and tell him the rules. But for now, I will pull the chair closer to Rigmor, so she doesn’t have any bad dreams.”
“Wulf, I hear a lot of what is being said. I know there was one war, a civil war, whatever that is. But now the bad guys who hurt me and mum and dad and Rigmor and you have got an army. Are they coming to hurt us again?”
“They will try, but we have better armies to stop them.”
“Will you have to kill a lot of bad guys?”
“Yes, Sorella. I dislike killing people, but fewer innocent people like you and Rigmor will get hurt if I do.”
“I understand. I wish you didn’t have to kill people.”
“So do I.”
“Meeko says he likes me not so pongy and buried my old furs far away from the farmhouse!”
“I haven’t had much time to spend with him.”
“He is friends with everybody and gets lots of pats, even from Angi.”
“Okay, no longer pongy, Sorella. It is late, so I think you had better get to bed.”
“Yeah, I was going to bed when Rigmor returned, and then I talked to her.”
I dragged a chair closer to Rigmor’s bed and sat.
After a few minutes, Sorella said she wasn’t sleepy, so I tried a trick Mother used on me. I did a big, loud yawn.
I suppressed a laugh as Sorella immediately caught the yawn. A few minutes later, she was asleep.
I then let Rigmor’s breathing lull me to sleep.
When I awoke, Rigmor and Sorella were still in a deep sleep. I quietly left the room.
Sethri and Baa’Ren-Dar were sitting at the table.
I joined them.
- Wulf: Sethri, why are you sitting there, half-naked?
- Sethri: What’s wrong? I am wearing underwear.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: You would do well to make yourself decent. There are ladies in the house and a child!
- Sethri: Whoa, there! We don’t all have a massive mansion in Torval. It’s the heat.
- Wulf: Sethri, you are an Ashlander, and it is nowhere near as hot as your homeland! It may be your farm, but there are Imperial laws against indecent exposure! Put some clothes on! If Sorella suffers a single glimpse of your green and hairy dangly bits, I will feed them to a Slaughterfish.
- Sethri: Oh, okay.
- Wulf: Tell us why you came here yesterday, Sethri.
- Sethri: The invasion fleet you are expecting. It’s been spotted out to sea off the coast of Morrowind. I thought you would want to know.
- Wulf: Are they a day away? Two days away?
- Sethri: That I don’t know.
- Wulf: Taking that route has allowed them to avoid the main Imperial Fleet.
- Sethri: They could be here anytime soon.
- Wulf: Disembarking an entire army is not a quick exercise. We have plenty of time, Sethri.
- Sethri: Okay, I am glad you are relaxed about all of this!
- Wulf: What about you, Baa’Ren-Dar? Do you have news from Cyrodiil and The Dominion?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Our allies are ready to pounce. Once the invasion starts, countermeasures will be taken. At the right time, The Dominion will strike on the Isle. Once The New Order land in Skyrim, Mede will feign troop movements north to expose the Southern Army and crush them on the border of Cyrodiil.
- Wulf: Surely, they know their scheme will fail? They can’t be so stupid that they think we will be fooled. I suppose they are hoping that Aedriath will succeed in Skyrim. We will squash him like a bug underfoot. I just hope he survives the battle so I can slowly throttle him.
Yngol and Cassius entered.
They joined us at the table.
- Casius: Well met, Dragonborn. Yngol and I thought it wise to discuss the coming invasion.
- Wulf: Why would two veterans of many battles think I could contribute to such a discussion?
- Casius: The powers to be have decided we need a neutral commander in Skyrim.
- Yngol: You got the short straw.
- Wulf: Am I going to have some official rank?
- Casius: You are Thane of Whiterun and an Imperial citizen of high nobility. You are also The Dragonborn. Hence, nobody objected to His Imperial Highness making you a General of The Imperial Legion. His Imperial Highness had a visit from a senior Priest of Talos advising this be done. Your official title is General of the Skyrim Allied Defence Force.
- Wulf: I will talk to that interfering old bastard!
- Yngol: I thought you liked Mede? Or are you referring to the priest?
- Wulf: I meant Talos, and this recruitment sounds like crimping!
- Casius: Well, I suppose it does. Anyway, do you have any suggestions regarding the defence of Skyrim?
- Wulf: Do we know where and when they will land?
- Yngol: No.
- Wulf: Therefore, we have little chance of attacking before they have a beachhead. Where do we want to fight them?
- Yngol: We will be outnumbered, so we must choose our ground wisely.
- Casius: The swamps around Hjaalmarch are not suited to Legion tactics. We would become bogged down. The mud would kill us.
- Wulf: A detachment of Argonian would have come in handy!
- Yngol: They have only a few options open to them too. They will avoid Solitude and Windhelm and go for broke.
- Casius: Yes, if I were in Aedriath’s position, I would avoid a lengthy siege. He doesn’t even know if the Southern Army Group will advance in good time.
- Wulf: Mede’s force will crush it.
- Casius: A suppressing force on the Pale border and one at Dragon Bridge will effectively cut off Solitude and Windhelm.
- Wulf: They will head straight for Whiterun as every other invader has done.
- Yngol: Yeah, Aedriath has to immediately get his army out of the swamp. Like a lightning strike within twenty-four hours of landing.
- Wulf: If Whiterun falls, many will lose their lives there. Many more will lose their lives as the war drags on. We mustn’t let it fall!
- Sethri: Aedriath will protect his flank.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Sethri, do as Dragonborn told you and put some clothes on!
- Sethri: With a small force.
Sethri lifted his arse off his seat and farted. Baa’Ren-Dar growled and stared at me. Then he left the room disgusted with the whole thing.
The others laughed. I found it childish, unfunny and disrespectful.
- Wulf: Show some fucking respect! Sethri, get out of here if you can’t contribute anything useful! Can you imagine the mess we would be in without Baa’Ren-Dar’s contacts and diplomatic skills?
- Sethri: As you wish. I’ll get dressed.
- Wulf: Now that idiocy is out of the way, we can get back to saving lives. Casius, as soon as Aedriath lands, I want you to move your Legion to Whiterun. If we move your troops too early, he may choose another target.
- Casius: The walls of Whiterun will protect our right flank. Aedriath will have no choice but to come for us once we are in position. We will be drawing his main force onto the ground of our choosing, and we can take the head off the serpent.
- Wulf: Yngol, I want your force to do what Nords do best and make an impenetrable shield wall. That will allow you to slowly advance and outflank them on their left while Cassius pins them down.
- Yngol: We can use the Whiterun garrison to boost my numbers.
- Wulf: You can try knocking on the door of Jorvaskkr and asking The Companions if they wish to fight for their homeland. They may wish to defend the walls of Whiterun. After all, it would not break their neutrality.
- Yngol: Will do.
- Wulf: The weather is going to be stormy and pouring with rain. Aedriath’s archers will be severely hampered. Depending on how he places his troops, there is a good chance that we will be the attackers.
- Casius: How do you know the weather will be stormy?
- Wulf: Rigmor has seen it in a vision. And if it is not as miserable as I hope, I will make it so.
- Yngol: You can change the weather?
- Wulf: Yes, and I am more likely to use powerful spells than The Voice for this battle. That is a request from Talos, and he has his reasons.
- Casius: Talos has had a bit to say about all of this.
- Wulf: Suddenly appearing in numbers at Whiterun will be our best hope. But that means sacrificing ground. Which way will Aedriath come?
- Casius: There are two options open for him. He can come through the mountain pass at Labyrinthian or across the plains via Dragon Bridge.
- Wulf: As Casius said, we have the Imperial Camp on the Pale border and Stormcloak Camp not far outside Windhelm, which ensures Aedriath will avoid that area or risk being bogged down in a lengthy campaign. He will have no choice but to attack Whiterun, even if he knows we are camped outside.
- Yngol: Yes, he must rush and attack Whiterun.
- Wulf: I think Morthal is vulnerable. Therefore, I will send them some help. Aedriath will not have many good commanders. He will have less when my mage friends kill a few. Well, that settles our basic tactics. You two can fine-tune them, and I have no idea about logistics. I will speak to Jarl Balgruuf about his city defence. If we were to retreat behind the walls, I doubt Aedriath would have much left to throw against them.
- Yngol: Come, Casius, we can discuss logistics on the way back to our garrisons.
- Casius: We will keep you informed of the situation, Guardian.
I followed Yngol and Casius outside.
As they rode off, I spoke to Meeko.
“Sorry I haven’t been around to give you ear scratches.”
“Yes, I have no doubt you have had plenty, even from Angi.”
“Yes, I will be fighting in yet another battle, and no, it is not a place for you.”
“Yes, I will be careful. What can go wrong when surrounded by hundreds of people trying to kill you?”
I gave Meeko a well-deserved scratch behind the ear and then looked for Lydia.
“Wulf, how is Rigmor?”
“She was progressing well then I was stupid and let her do a speech in front of The Sons of Talos veterans.”
“I guess that was her choice?”
“Yes, and I probably wouldn’t have any right to stop her, but still, it was unnecessary and traumatic for her. Rigmor thinks she has let her father down and not lived up to the son and warrior he wanted.”
“Oh, is that to do with her memory loss?”
“Partly. I think Rigmor has always felt guilty that as a fourteen-year-old girl, she didn’t protect her family from The Thalmor.”
“Her father would not have expected her to. And didn’t he surrender without a fight?”
“Yes, it is illogical. But it is holding Rigmor back from a full recovery.”
“So, how are you going to help her?”
“By reminding her that her father wanted a little girl who would grow up to be a well-educated, noble lady, not a son.”
“Do you have a plan to achieve that?”
“Yes, and part of the plan is a trip to Riften. Giving time and opportunity for Rigmor to talk about things has proven beneficial so far. I will be going to Riften without armour or weapon. And before you ask if that is wise, I am quite capable of killing without either.”
“Okay. I will continue to make grooves in the ground as I patrol back and forth, back and forth.”
On my way to Baa’Ren-Dar, I spoke to Celestine.
“Celestine, when Bashita and Sakiya wake, ask them to make their way to Morthal with the other Blade mages and watch for any New Order troops. They are to target The New Order commanders. Hopefully, that will be enough to stop an attack on that city.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar says the invasion is imminent. A day or two at the most.”
“Most likely today. When The New Order reach Whiterun depends on how quickly they can disembark.”
“It will be Akavir all over again.”
“Hopefully, we will eliminate The New Order in a couple of days. I doubt we will have to endure endless battles.”
“We ended up losing in Akavir, Wulf.”
“We did well against all but the Tsaesci vampires. We had to take a stand against them or would have lost anyway, both militarily and morally.”
“We will have to fight them again once they have control of most of Akavir.”
“Years away and therefore a worry for another day.”
“Yes, your right. I will summon Vayu and get the ball rolling on Morthal.”
I sat opposite Baa’Ren-Dar.
“As a fellow devotee of Azura, Sethri shows little respect for you, Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“Khajiit thinks Sethri dislikes wealth. Many people associate wealth with corruption, but Khajiit and Dragonborn are proof that is an invalid generalisation. But Sethri is good of heart if a bit crude at times.”
“Rigmor is much improved but also plagued with doubt. She feels unworthy and thinks she has let her father down. No logic or love seems to be able to erase those thoughts.”
“Ragnar trained her to be the son he never had. That has made her think she failed to protect Sigunn and her father.”
“It does not matter how illogical it is. Rigmor thinks that as a fourteen-year-old girl, she should have been able to protect her parents from the events that occurred.”
“Only hate and revenge fuelled Rigmor until recently. Now Sigunn is safe, she wonders about her father’s love.”
“She needs something to remind her of her father’s love for his daughter. His love for the little girl she once was. I think I know what that reminder might be.
“It should be something from before his murder. Sigunn has mentioned something from Rigmor’s childhood, perhaps?”
“Yes, something made with her father’s love. A simple doll that I could also make. It does not have to be identical but close enough to jog her memory. I was shown this doll by an entity whose avatar was a girl child. I was shown it in a real place I ethereally travelled to in my sleep. Rigmor has had recurring premonitions with what I assume is the same girl child in them.”
“Dragonborn has no idea of entity’s identity?”
“No idea at all.”
“Do not worry, Dragonborn. Rigmor will be fine. Just give her time. Go and speak to Sigunn.”
“I can’t help but worry, Baa’Ren-Dar.”
I walked into the farmhouse. Sigunn was sitting at the table, breaking her fast. I laughed when I sat next to her.
“Is there something amusing, Wulf?”
“Now I know where Rigmor got the habit of Sweet Rolls for breaking her fast.”
“Hahaha. Yes, Ragnar used to tell us it was not good for us. You have no idea how much I craved them when enslaved.”
“I can’t imagine what you experienced, Sigunn.”
“I just talked to Rigmor. She said she had something important to discuss but not until she sorts things out.”
“I know what it is. However, I should leave the discussion to Rigmor. It is family business.”
“Sigunn, remember you told me about Ragnar making a doll for Rigmor?”
“Yes, the one she gave to her little friend. Why are you asking?”
“Baa’Ren-Dar and I think Rigmor needs a reminder of Ragnar’s love. It may jog the last of her memories. She can see and feel the love of you and Baa’Ren-Dar and others but not her father’s.”
“It was just a piece of old doweling with a sackcloth dress and string hair.”
“Yellow hair, and Rigmor called it Jenny.”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Thank you, Sigunn. I will visit Riften and see if I can pick up the things needed to make a new Jenny. I will ask Rigmor if she wants to come.”
“Rigmor has always wanted to shop at Riften market.”
“We couldn’t last time we visited Riften.”
“I hope this will all be over one day so that I can take her home. Maybe we can start over and live a normal life. I hope you will be part of it. Rigmor adores you.”
“Sigunn, I can tell something of what Rigmor wants to discuss. His Imperial Highness is to reinstate your family’s noble status. Ragnar will no longer be blamed for the Brena River Massacre. The official histories will tell the true story of his heroic deeds and sacrifices.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, Sigunn. Ser Ragnar Fjonasson’s name will be again placed in The Book of Lists, and you can legally use his coat of arms and your titles. I hope this news pleases you, Lady Frostraver of Rielle.”
Sigunn’s tears flowed freely, and I left her to her thoughts.
I exited the farmhouse and walked over to Hashire.
Hashire whined, “Oh look, it’s Whatshisname. He hasn’t come to speak to you, so don’t fool yourself, Hashire.”
“Your whining needs practice.”
“So, have you come to say hello?”
“Do you know if my leather trousers and white shirt are in your box?”
“Yes, along with half a ton of other gear!”
“It is four-dimensional like my journal case, and nothing inside adds to the box’s weight.”
“See if there is a note reminding you of how lonely a unicorn can get.”
“There are herds of wild horses that come through this farm. You have Ren and the other horses for company. I have seen most of those who live here stop and chat to you.”
“So, not even a hello?”
“Hello, Hashire. How lovely to see you on this fine, sunny day!”
“Okay, don’t overdo the mushiness!”
I looked in the case and found the outfit I wanted. I went into the trees a bit, changed into the clothes and stashed my armour inside Hashire’s case.
Hashire asked, “Why aren’t you carrying weapons?”
“They make her uncomfortable. Therefore, I will spend the day with Rigmor while weaponless.”
“Rigmor is down by the lake. She is wearing a dress that Bashita brought from some snotty boutique in Solitude. It suits Rigmor, although I don’t think it is supposed to be worn barefoot.”
“Thanks for the information, whatever your name is.”
“I would bite you, except the taste would make me gag.”
I walked to the bench, and Rigmor was sitting, staring into infinity.
When I got close, Rigmor said, “Sit down, Wulf, and join me in some infinity staring for a few minutes.”
I laughed and then did as I was told.
After a couple of minutes, Rigmor said, “Okay, what is with the not so fancy clothes?”
“Hey, this is a costly silk shirt, and the trousers also cost a fortune!”
“Only joking, Grumble Bum. I quite like it. What do you think of my dress?”
“It is gorgeous! Bashita brought it for you, didn’t she?”
“Yeah, Bashita came into my bedroom and tore the dress I wore on the altar to shreds. She then handed me this one. Then she walked out without saying a word.”
“A woman of few words, but lots of knives, is Bashita. You know she is a mage.”
“She and Sakiya are both excellent Restoration and Destruction mages. They are also two of the best assassins ever to serve The Blades.”
“Yeah way! They are also expert saboteurs. They were the boogeymen that kept Dominion leaders awake during The Great War.”
“Are they as old as Delphine? If so, they have aged better!”
“They started their assassin careers at a young age. Still, they are a bit older than Delphine. There is a lot of Mer in their bloodline.”
“Sorella seems to like the farm and being here.”
“She is a wonderful child.”
“Did she tell you the tragic story of her bath?”
“Yeah, I bet Angi and Sigunn have scratches, if not bites on them!”
“She follows Angi around like a lost little puppy. I’m so pleased for her.”
“I am pleased for both of them. I think Angi adored her from the second she saw her.”
“Wulf, in your journal, you wrote about a fight in Dead Man’s Drink in Falkreath. You wrote that it involved some Imperial soldiers boasting of raping a young woman in Helgen and killing her family. I know that is what happened to Angi. Were they the ones that did it?”
“I wasn’t sure if you knew that Angi was raped. But I suppose if she were going to tell anybody, it would be you.”
“Yeah, and I suspected she never did get revenge on those bastards.”
“She was not too pleased I found out the truth. One of them had kept Angi’s necklace as a souvenir. When I gave the necklace to Angi, she became distraught. I told her she had nothing to be ashamed of and that I wouldn’t say a word to anybody about it.”
“I have seen Angi holding something tight and crying. Now I know what it is.”
“The necklace probably brings back terrible memories. I think it is best to let Angi tackle them by herself unless she asks for help.”
“Only you could think of singing The Dragonborn Song to stir up the locals.”
“I was humbled by how many of them risked their lives.”
“What do The New Order think will happen? That they conquer a couple of cities and the people of Skyrim will surrender? Nincompoops!”
“Sigunn seems happy.”
“She was crying this morning. She said you told her about my dad’s name being restored.”
“I didn’t tell her about Mede’s offer. I said you will talk to her about family business soon.”
“Yeah, I haven’t felt up to it. As for Mum, what’s there not to be happy about? You saved her, right?”
“We saved her, Rigmor.”
“No, I will not have you belittle what you have accomplished, Lady Ragnarsdottier.”
“She’s still hurting and misses Dad.”
“Sigunn told me she was tempted to give up sometimes so that she could see Ragnar again in Aetherius.”
“Yeah, you put that in your journal as well. Yanno, it can take many years for some people to recover from such a loss. I miss him too.”
“As I said when we searched for Sigunn, I miss Mother terribly, and I know she is alive. I don’t think, if you have had loving parents like yours, you would ever stop missing them.”
“Mum loses herself in chores to keep herself busy.”
“Have you talked to her about her time enslaved and your separation?”
“No, never. That’s one thing we don’t talk about. Some people say there are things you don’t need to talk about.”
“And there are circumstances that will make you want to talk about those things. Just be ready for that, Rigmor. Old wounds could be ripped open!”
“Are you speaking from experience?”
“Yes, I have had friends who have hidden their past from others and then found the need to talk. It is traumatic but also healing for them. Then you say to yourself, ‘That explains their behaviour!’.”
“You have not told me much about your time in Akavir.”
“In amongst all the training we were doing, we helped many communities defend themselves against aggressors. There are factions in Akavir constantly battling for a larger slice of the country. We made a difference, but we were too few and risked being found. The faction that destroyed the Dragonguard are Tsaesci vampires. I have no idea how they found our headquarters, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a snitch in our ranks. Many of my friends carry mental scars from our battles and training. Blades like Delphine have no idea of what it means to be Dragonguard. There is no shame in failing the training, but not a single young Blade who made it to Akavir failed. I can tell you honestly that the Akavir Dragonguard were more than a little surprised. I finally mourned their loss the other night. Father held me as I wept over you and those I left behind in Akavir.”
“Could you take me to this room in Aetherius?”
“I could, but only for a short time. Living mortals cannot exist for long in Aetherius. Their Life Force drains away. I took Jonte Malesam there when we visited The College.”
“He said he would tell you about your Mede blood and His Imperial Highness’s offer and that it was no longer my business. I took him to Aetherius to make sure Boethia couldn’t listen to our conversation or interfere with his answer. I asked him if he knew where you were before I entered Oblivion to fight Boethia’s champions. If he had, he would have breached the duty of care of The College.”
“He said it was no longer your business?”
“Not in those exact words, but he implied I had no right to stop him.”
“But didn’t you leave me unprotected?”
“For ten seconds. I can control how fast time flows in my Aetherius Room. Father built the room so I could have more time, sort of, since it was still only four years on Nirn. There is no way I could learn everything required in the four years I was in Akavir. I never kept track of how long it took for me to prepare for Alduin.”
“So, in a way, you are far older than twenty-two!”
“Do you still love me even though I am ancient and decrepit?”
“As long as you can keep up with certain demands.”
“Oh, I see. I am but an object of your lust.”
“I told you that in Breezehome.”
“Gigalo’s can make a lot of money!”
“Maybe Mum will move on and find someone else.”
“And you would be okay with that?”
“Why shouldn’t I be. I want Mum to be happy.”
“I am not saying you should have a problem. However, don’t be surprised if Ragnar was the only one for her and she never remarries. Mind you, Sethri has been looking at Sigunn with a strange look in his eyes.”
“No! Wulf, oh the gods. Hahaha! No!”
“I was only kidding. Sigunn called him obnoxious, so I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
“He is rather smelly.”
“Sethri seems jealous of Baa’Ren-Dar’s wealth. Can you tell me about his estate in Torval?”
“Oh my, it is huge! As you know, the province is split into two factions. He was appointed as an emissary of Pelletine, but you knew that because that is what you called him the first time that we tried to enter Riften.”
“You remember that?”
“Yeah. I kinda felt sorry for the guard you ripped into.”
“I am sure he recovered.”
“Anyway, Baa’Ren-Dar’s estate is in Torval, which sits on the western edge of the Tenmar Forest.”
“Tenmar jungle. I bet it was humid!”
“Yes, quite humid but also damp with the rich canopy. If you travel north, it gradually changes into a desert. However, inside the walls of Baa’Ren-Dar’s estate were huge gardens of imported plants, flowers and trees. Some of which I have never seen anywhere else, not even in Valenwood.”
“I would love to see a Graht-Oak, the walking trees that Bosmer build cities upon.”
“So would I, Wulf!”
“Both halves of Elsweyr are provinces of The Dominion, yet they respected your diplomatic immunity.”
“The Dominion didn’t want to mess around. They feared that there would be trouble if the two halves united.”
“I think Elsweyr reunification will only happen if a new Mane is born. And then only if they could keep the Mane a secret till maturity. The Dominion would tear apart Elsweyr to find the Mane and would kill him immediately.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar told me The Dominion couldn’t afford another rebellion. Not after Hammerfell.”
“If Elsweyr were to rebel, Valenwood would take advantage of the stretched Dominion resources and also rebel. Elsweyr would follow Valenwood into rebellion for the same reason. I doubt either would rejoin The Empire. We don’t have a Tiber Septim on the throne, and even when Father ruled, he did things he regrets that alienated the peoples of those nations.”
“Maybe they need a Wulf Septim on the Ruby Throne?”
“Ahh, it is not on my list of things I want to do.”
“Haha! I can’t imagine you running The Empire. Well, I can, but weirdness would prevail!”
“Sigunn ate a Sweet Roll for breakfast.”
“I know. Mum brought one into the bedroom for me to eat in bed.”
“I suppose the ten days challenge was up.”
“Yes, I was allowed to give in to temptation. And I was also allowed to eat Sweet Rolls.”
“You were not well when you arrived in Torval.”
“It was quite weird, which you are an expert in. It felt like my head was exploding. Although it was quiet, I couldn’t talk for some time. It seemed like a thousand people all talking and shouting in my head simultaneously.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar said it was six months before you said anything to him. He said he found you in his library one day, and he hasn’t been able to shut you up since!”
“Ha de haha. I had been visiting his library for some time, and slowly, the noise in my head began to fade, and I could hear again. I read a lot of his books. Some of the poetry and books of proverbs helped me. Then I could finally speak to Baa’Ren-Dar and thank him for what he did.”
“Then you trained him to obey!”
“Yeah, nothing was off the table. I just had to ask, and it was there.”
“Did you use your batting eyelids and poor puppy eyes to train his staff?”
“Those are reserved for my underlings, like you.”
“All the people who worked at Baa’Ren-Dar’s estate couldn’t be more helpful. Don’t get me wrong. I had to do things for myself. Izzy, Baa’Ren-Dar’s maid, took great care of me when I arrived.”
“What was her Ta’agra name?”
“The Dra honorific means Izzy is considered wise. It can also mean elderly or matriarch.”
“Wow, I never knew that. It shows how much about the Khajiiti I learned while in Torval. Haha!”
“I can imagine you were almost like a newborn.”
“Yes. I couldn’t move for weeks when I arrived. Izzy washed and cleaned me, anointed me and fed me. I would cry with the pain, and she would cry with me. Have you ever seen a Khajiit cry, Wulf?”
“No, I have been spared that experience. You know how much I admire the Khajiiti, but I have a warped sense of their lives from what I see with Ri’saad’s caravans. They are people who take life as it comes and who find joy in living. Seeing one cry would shatter that illusion. I will tell you about the first Khajiit I ever met one day.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar likes Izzy.”
“As in, likes her?”
“Yeah! Hahaha. She used to have him running around for her. Hahaha. I remember when I was in the gardens collecting flowers and wild roots. Baa’Ren came running by, and he’s covered in water and muttering, ‘Oh, hmmm.’ I looked up, and there was Izzy, waving at me with the biggest grin on her face.”
“Why did Izzy pour water on poor Baa’Ren-Dar?”
“I asked her, ‘Hey, Izzy, what’s up?’ Izzy replied, ‘That one is too hot. Purring and sniffing. Izzy cooled frisky Khajiit!’”
“I can’t imagine Baa’Ren-Dar trying to seduce his maid, never mind sniffing like she was on heat like a house cat! And purring? Oh, hang on, I can imagine it!”
I laughed out loud, which made Rigmor smile and laugh.
After a few seconds, Rigmor continued, “Oh my! And do you know what?”
“Let me guess. Baa’Ren-Dar was already trained and embarrassed, so he didn’t say anything.”
“Yep. Baa’Ren-Dar never said anything. It was as if nothing happened.”
“Imagine if Baa’Ren-Dar got his wicked way, and you walked in on them?”
“Oh my! Nope, I shall remove that image from my mind! You bastard, Wulf!”
“Is it my fault your mind creates such depraved images?”
“In all seriousness, I miss Izzy so much.”
“You and I will visit Baa’Ren-Dar in Torval no matter what shit gets in our way!”
“I was going to suggest that. I am glad you have learnt to think like your mistress.”
“I wonder what Rose is doing now?”
“She is a determined woman, Rigmor. She had to be to escape Fort Black. She wanted to open an inn on the Gold Coast.”
“That is why you gave her all those gems.”
“Yes, and one day I hope to give them to her once more.”
“Oh, I remember. You found the gems at Fort Black and put them in your journal case.”
“Yes. The gems were with your father’s sword and the Daedric Amulet of Talos. I will have to tell Father about that one. He has my sense of humour and probably won’t stop chuckling for a week.”
“I owe both of you my life. Oh, and Celestine and Meeko, of course! I hope one day to pay her back in some way.”
“I would guess that seeing you healthy and thriving would be all the payment Rose would need.”
“You have never asked me much about the leaping off the cliff moment.”
“When you first regained consciousness at Rose’s camp, it seemed to be a lost memory. I have never pushed you about it, concerned it is too traumatic.”
“Yeah, the memory only came back to me weeks later.”
“Please, Lady Ragnarsdottier. Your humble servant wants to know what you thought as you leapt.”
“Those bastards chased me to the cliff, and I thought, ‘Shit, this is becoming a habit!’ I just launched myself into the tree, and I don’t remember much after that.”
“What? No flapping of arms in a last-ditch effort to fly?”
“Hahaha! Maybe I did but can’t remember?”
“The tree broke your fall and a few bones. It dented your armour and mashed up your insides.”
“Did you ever see the scar I got from that fall?”
“Rigmor, I saw and kissed every inch of you.”
“Hehe. Yeah, you did, and that reminds me. Can you please get rid of your beard? It kept tickling my thighs!”
“How about I keep trimming and trying until it doesn’t tickle anymore?”
“That is the best plan you have ever had, my Guardian.”
“Speaking of plans, I am visiting Riften today. Would you do me the honour of accompanying me?”
“Can we visit the market?”
“Yes, it will be a special trip to Riften so you can shop. I will stand there, pretending to be interested, when, in fact, my brain has turned off with boredom. That is a solemn duty of any male no matter how unpleasant.”
“Hey, I would love that!”
“I will not take weapons with me.”
“To show that we can enjoy life without bristling with instruments designed to end life.”
“Are we riding or walking?”
“That is up to you. It is only a couple of miles if we cross the bridge.”
Rigmor ran towards the bridge and stopped. She was planning something and looked shocked as I walked past her.
The same racoon I saw crossing the water before had done it again. It had been watching Rigmor and me.
I walked up to him and said, “If a Slaughterfish sees you, you will be fish turds.”
The racoon chittered at me, and I swear it smiled.
I said, “Okay, but don’t come running to me if you get eaten. Oh, that right, you wouldn’t be able to because you would be dead.”
The racoon chittered some more. I am sure it said, “Yeah, right. Whatever! Pfft!”
I walked back to Rigmor.
“Were you talking to that racoon?”
“Yeah, I was concerned about his habit of swimming from the other side. There might be Slaughterfish in the water.”
“Well, I can’t see any using Heat-Vision, but the racoon doesn’t know when he crosses.”
“Well, I don’t want to walk to the bridge.”
“Rigmor, I hope you are not thinking what I think you are thinking!”
“Come on, Wulf, where’s your sense of adventure?”
“Don’t complain if a Slaughterfish takes a toe!”
“Haha. Come on. I’ll race you to the other side!”
I let Rigmor get a bit of a lead, then Blinked to the other side.
Rigmor came dripping out of the water, not looking too pleased with my winning strategy.
I got closer and laughed.
“You, my dear Rigmor, look like a very colourful wet Skeever.”
“I do not, and you cheated!”
“Oh, I can’t remember any rule against Blinking being mentioned. If it were banned, I would have run across the top of the water. If you had mentioned that was also against the rules, I would have used Whirlwind Sprint. However, if you also banned that, I would have resorted to Slow Time.”
“Luckily, I love you enough to forgive your devious cheating!”
“Now, my drippy beloved, no running ahead. I am not carrying a weapon, and there are many wild animals in these woods.”
“Wulf, is Kyne’s Peace in effect?”
Rigmor turned and ran.
Rigmor stopped at a small farm and exclaimed, “Look at the little chicks, Wulf. Aren’t they cute?”
“I prefer them at the egg stage. Sunnyside up next to some sizzling bacon.”
Rigmor continued her reckless running assuming her Guardian would protect her. I thought she would have learned her lesson and that I am a shitty guardian.
She stopped to admire an infant troll.
I took a closer look at the beast.
Rigmor remarked, “I still don’t think they are cute.”
“I think this one has Mede blood. It is probably a close cousin of yours.”
“Guess what. You are an idiot, plus I hate you.”
I said to the troll, “That nasty pasty Rigmor doesn’t think you’re a cutie wootie. I think you’re a fine-looking trolly wolly and will grow up big and strong and eat lots of people!”
Rigmor shook her head and muttered, “I have fallen in love with the weirdest weirdo that has ever been weird.”
The young troll found us boring and wandered off.
Rigmor asked, “You keep telling people that the gods have limited powers on Nirn. Why does Kynareth seem to have so much power?”
“Kyne helped design the early animals from which all others evolved. To control the early animal life and make them migrate, etcetera, she needed a conduit to them. Lady Azura uses Black Diamonds as a conduit. Lady Kyne uses the air, which includes the winds, as the conduit to control the animals. Speech is possible because air vibrates part of our throats. That is why Lady Kyne is the Divine associated with The Thu’um.”
“That, my dear Dragonborn, was some of the most sensible gobblygook you have ever told me.”
“Oh, I must have got it wrong then.”
Just then, mother troll came towards us.
Rigmor asked, “I wonder what she wants?”
“Oh, junior troll probably told her about the nasty lady who didn’t think it was cute.”
“Nah, it probably told its mother about the weird stranger who said weird things to it.”
When the troll got close, I observed, “It’s got a beard. Perhaps it’s a daddy troll? Or, maybe, trolls are like Nords, and the females have beards as well?”
“May I remind you, Wulf, that I am a Nord.”
“Yes, but you keep your stubble to a minimum, and your moustache is barely visible.”
The troll turned and started walking away.
Rigmor said, “Even the troll finds you unfunny and is leaving. I might join her, or him, or whatever.”
As we passed a rabbit, I asked, “Rigmor, are you hungry?”
“Don’t you dare!”
“One spell, and it will be roasted to perfection.”
“I will ignore you because I know you would not slaughter an innocent bunny!”
“Goodbye, Mr Bunny. Tell your three hundred and two children, two thousand five hundred and twenty grandchildren and one million, two hundred thousand, four hundred and five great-grandchildren how Rigmor saved your life!”
Rigmor laughed, then commented, “Look at the leaves on the Aspen trees, Wulf. They look like the richest person on Nirn has stacked all his gold into huge piles!”
“There you go again. The other day, I thought Rigmor would have something to say about the Rift’s Aspen trees but couldn’t imagine what. Then you say something wonderful like that, and I will never think of them the same way.”
“Yanno, reading all those poems and learning literature from Mum makes these descriptions pop into my head.”
“Maybe, but they are your wonderful descriptions, making them the bestest!”
“I don’t think bestest is a word, Wulf.”
“There is no need to be a literary snob!”
We were halfway across a bridge when I noticed a group of Miraak’s Goons heading our way. They had already seen us and somehow recognised me.
I said, “Rigmor. Move back and get ready to run. They are after me and should leave you alone.”
“How did they recognise you from way over there?”
“I don’t know, but do as I said. I will get rid of them.”
Rigmor moved closer to the other end of the bridge. The first Goon moved into the grass on the right of the bridge. They planned to flank me as three others came running towards me.
I couldn’t risk Shouting Unrelenting Force as it could travel a long way and hurt innocents. At first, I planned to use Inferno, but the enemy was a spell caster. I switched to Lightning, which reduces a mage’s Magicka reserve and causes physical damage.
A single bolt killed the first Goon.
A second bolt killed another.
Then I saw how they recognised me.
A Seeker, one of Hermaeus Mora’s minions, had been invisible. It had to become visible to use its spells against me.
The Seeker’s Destruction spells were not as dangerous as the Goons. It seems that every Goon is a mage. Therefore, I used Lightening to kill another Goon.
Then I killed the Seeker.
Lightning killed yet another Goon.
The last Goon proved more formidable than the others, and it took two bolts to bring him down. He carried the same notice as the Goons we encountered in Whiterun.
I walked towards the bridge, and Rigmor came running.
She gasped, “Wulf, are you okay?”
“Yes, Rigmor. I even place Dweomer on my clothing. Not that I am paranoid or anything.”
“I saw something with tentacles. What was that?”
“That was a Seeker. It is a Daedra from Hermaeus Mora’s realm of Oblivion called Apocrypha. But something doesn’t make sense.”
“Hermaeus Mora would not want me to fail. He likes gathering and hoarding knowledge, and that hobby might suddenly end if Alduin enslaves all mortals. There is no way that Daedric Prince would be ignorant of Alduin’s return. And what do Mora’s minions have to do with Miraak? I hope Auryen at Dragonborn Gallery has some answers for me.”
“Do you want to keep walking to Riften?”
“Yes, Rigmor. I hoped to get through another day without killing, but that was not to be. However, I doubt we will encounter any more dangers this close to Riften.”
“Is this what your life is going to be like?”
“Yes, it is what our life will be like if we are together. Miraak is just one of many who will send people and other things to kill me.”
“Wulf, I promise you, I will be with you forever. Maybe, one day, I can pick up a sword again. Then I could help you instead of standing and watching you fight for your life.”
“I never want you to touch another sword until you are ready, if ever, Rigmor. Now let’s keep walking. I am not going to let some idiot in Solstheim and his Goons ruin this day!”
A bit further on, Rigmor said, “Ah, it is so beautiful here. Come sit on that log with me and talk for a while.”
I joined Rigmor on the log. It may have been a comfortable height for her, but I had to stretch my legs way out!
“You are right, and it is gorgeous here, Rigmor. Soon you will be able to return to Cyrodiil. Are you looking forward to that?”
“It’s so cold in the mountains! We could never have afforded to live in the Imperial City, Chorrol or Cheydinhal. Leyawin was too far south. When I was a little girl, we kids would sneak out of the city’s walls and head south into the Great Forest. The trees were so huge, Wulf! The mist would rise from the ground in the mornings or towards evening. It has an amazing, mystical feel about it.”
“Like around here. Can you remember how the mist kept coming and going the first time you visited Riften? It captivated me the first time I visited.”
“Yes, very much like that! At times, we were sure we could see faces in the trees and were worried they would come to life at any moment. Hahaha. We would scare ourselves and just run and run.”
“That sounds so wonderful!”
“My dad, he would come and look for us. He would blow a Nordic Horn, and we knew it was time to go home. He would be waiting for me, with a smile on his face, and he would start to jog back to our house slowly. I would try and race him, but I could never catch up no matter how fast I ran. I would be so scared he would scold me, but he never did.”
Rigmor tears threatened as memories assailed her.
I said, “You must miss him so much.”
Rigmor replied with years of bitterness in her voice, “And then it all turned to crap!”
Rigmor abruptly stood and said, “Come on, my Guardian. Let’s get going.”
We hadn’t gone far when Rigmor asked, “How come you have been trailing me most of the way?”
“Well, I am letting you dictate where we go, stop, continue.”
“You’re not staring at my arse, are you?”
“That cute wriggly bum trying hard to escape that dress? Nope, never noticed it.”
I was having difficulty controlling my emotions. Anxiety threatened my enjoyment of the walk. I knew we would soon be separated as I tackled Alduin, the civil war and probably Miraak. I would not be with Rigmor to protect her, and I would rely on others to keep her safe. Hard as I tried, I could not put that reality to the back of my mind.
A bit further along, Rigmor said as we walked, “Yanno, I used to enjoy long walks as a kid. As soon as we got out of Bruma, away from the snow, we would take off our shoes to feel the ground under our feet. We would never go too far down into the valley, where the lake was, but we would make dens and treehouses. As soon as I saw Riften, I fell in love with it. It reminds me of my home, not Bruma, but yanno, the forests and stuff.”
“Did you have a favourite spot?”
“Yeah. There was this really tall tree, and we made ladders to get to this huge thick branch near the top. We would shimmy along the branch and look out over The Great Forest and could even see The Imperial City and White-Gold Tower. Near that tree was a clearing full of flowers and deer and rabbits. A small waterfall fell into a pond. I don’t think it was big enough to be called a lake. The pond was full of frogs. We would catch them, have a good look because they were all sorts of colours, then gently put them back again. It was a place just made for a child’s imagination to go wild. It was as far as we would travel because wolves lived in the deeper forest nearby. The thought of wolves made the place a bit scary, which added to the fun.”
I asked, “Rigmor, was there a hut or shack to the right of where you entered the clearing?”
“Yeah. How did you know that?”
“I travelled there a couple of nights ago as I travelled to you when you were fourteen.”
“Ethereal Travel, yes.”
“I am sure the same girl from your dreams was there. But I wasn’t dreaming. I knew I was in a real place.”
“What did the girl do?”
“She showed me something. Something that will help with your memories.”
“But you won’t tell me what that is, will you? I have to figure out what the girl wants.”
“Yes, Rigmor. That is what has to happen.”
Rigmor stopped, turned, stepped on her tippy toes and placed her hands on my chest. I held one of her hands and looked into her eyes.
Rigmor whispered, “A good long walk like this helps me focus and blow out the cobwebs. Believe me. I’m trying Wulf. I’m trying.”
“Perhaps another reminder of things past will help?”
“Oh, such as?”
I kissed Rigmor’s hand, lifted her, and we re-enacted our kiss from the first visit to the lookout.
I went for the arse grab, and Rigmor giggled. Then she said, “We almost lost control then. You were, ahem, excited.”
“I am just checking for splinters again. We did sit on that fallen log.”
“Yeah. I didn’t believe you then, and I don’t believe you now.”
I put Rigmor down and said, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to fix this last bit of your memory. You have done remarkably well! There is nothing more for you to do other than wait for me to get back from crushing The New Order. Then I can take you home.”
“I have decided to accept the Emperor’s offer. I just hope he keeps my Mede blood a secret. It was not good to keep its existence from me, but it would cause complications if others know.”
“I had to explain that to Malesam. I hope he is better at politics than he has demonstrated.”
“He can always be replaced if I whine loud enough.”
“You know I can’t stay with you until Alduin is defeated.”
“Probably the civil war, as well. That could take a long time, couldn’t it?”
“It will take you some time to settle in Bruma anyway. You will need to do lots of visiting and endear yourself to the other ‘nobles’ of the Imperial Court.”
“How will we say goodbye?”
“I don’t know, Rigmor. We will….”
“Deal with the problem when it occurs.”
“Ha! Who has who trained?”
“Come along, my Guardian.”
Rigmor walked and giggled, and I watched her rear end jiggle.
Rigmor stopped abruptly, and I almost walked into her.
Rigmor demanded, “Wulf, tell me about the ghosts!”
“The ones in The Bloodlet Throne?”
“They are the only ones in your journal. Have you seen others?”
“Yes, in Akavir. Some just moan about how miserable they are. That is understandable because something stops them from moving on to their afterlife. Some try to kill you because they are forced to do so by necromancers. Others try to kill you because they hate that you live, and they don’t. But the mother and child in The Bloodlet Throne were different than any I have met before.”
“Did you find out the mother’s name? I know the little girl was Xenia, and that is why the name of Sorella’s bow is ‘Xenia’s Wrath.’”
“Unfortunately, no. I have encountered ghosts who can speak. The mother’s name was not in her journal or the note the vampire was carrying. Neither she nor Xenia could talk to me. I didn’t feel any probing on my mental barrier, so telepathy was not possible either.”
“It is sad she never got to avenge her daughter.”
“I partly avenged her by wiping out that coven. One day I will find that Broodmother and complete the extermination.”
“Did you see the pit that Xenia fell into?”
“Yes, it was the one where we found Sorella. There was a viewing platform above it. I assume that is where Xenia fell from.”
“Do you think they still ate Xenia?”
“I don’t know. It would make no difference to Xenia’s soul. Where it was, I have no idea. Perhaps Xenia was floating in The Void as I did, and her mother’s love was strong enough to bring it to her?”
“We know love is powerful, but you were not impressed with Azura’s essence of a mother’s love.”
“That is utter nonsense and major mumbo jumbo.”
“Hey, imagine the essence of a Sethri blow off!”
“We could toss one bottle into the middle of The New Order’s army and win immediately!”
“Perhaps you should feed Sethri a bowl of mixed beans with some cabbage and point his rear end at the enemy?”
“Too risky. If the wind blows the wrong way, we could kill many of our soldiers.”
“Will we win the battle at Whiterun?”
“I have been made a General of the Imperial Legion and will be the commander of that battle.”
“What? Whose idea was that?”
“Father’s. He wants Rigmor’s Guardian to be high profile, and hopefully, most will forget I am also The Dragonborn.”
“Sticky fingers in mortal affairs like Azura.”
“With or without the geriatrics at Yngol’s camp, we will slaughter The New Order at Whiterun. I also think there will be many Sons of Talos in Imperial uniforms. I would say the majority of those who fought beside your father would not be enamoured of Ulfric.”
“What about Ulfric’s claim about fighting for religious freedom?”
“I tell you what I will do before getting involved in the civil war. I will issue a public challenge to Ulfric to prove that Talos wants him to fight for the right to worship him. I will give him a few days to answer. Then I will ask Priests and Priestesses of different Divines to swear in public that Talos does not support Ulfric’s claims. I will also publicly challenge Ulfric to a duel to death with strict adherence to the old ways. No armour. No magic weapons or spells or Dweomer. He would choose the weapons as the challenged. I guarantee he would never accept.”
“You want to make as many Stormcloaks give up the cause possible.”
“Yes, because I will not show mercy as soon as I start killing them. The fewer Stormcloaks who continue to fight, the fewer Legionnaires die.”
“You will be emotionally wrecked, and I won’t be there to help you.”
“My Dovah will fight the civil war. Stormcloaks will see their death in my eyes. And what a lovely conversation we are having on this pleasant walk!”
“Oops. Let’s keep walking and talk about butterflies and other pleasant things.”
We started walking again.
I said, “Roasted.”
Then I said, “Grilled.”
Then I said, “Braised.”
Rigmor giggled and said, “Wulf, stop thinking about duck recipes!”
Riften’s gates came into view. Rigmor ran, saying, “Come on! You know where!”
She was heading to the bench we sat on after leaving Riften the first time.
I sat down next to her, and Rigmor exclaimed, “That’s quite a view!”
“There is a property in the middle and a farm across the way but no other houses. What a waste! I would love a property this close to Riften.”
“Maybe as Countess of Bruma, I might need a place in Skyrim to conduct business. A lot of Bruma’s trade is via The Rift.”
“And what part would I play in this estate?”
“My servant, of course. You could walk behind me as I ride side-saddle on a noble white steed.”
“Ren would die of jealousy if you rode another horse!”
“He wouldn’t need to know. While the Countess is away, she can, you know, and play.”
“Servant and plaything? I get the impression I am already those things.”
More laughter, and I smiled.
Rigmor asked, “How does it make you feel, yanno, sitting here by the lake?”
“Very relaxed even if a buffet for the mosquitoes.”
“Look at the water, my Guardian.”
I looked at the water, and then Rigmor’s voice transported me to another place.
“It is crystal clear. Cold and inviting. The sound of the water lapping on the bank makes me feel liberated. Ah! The light reflecting on the surface is like music to me.”
Rigmor’s voice was mesmerising. This moment was seared into my memory.
“All the answers to every question asked bounces in that light. Look too deep, and you don’t see anything, and it’s all dark except the light on the surface.”
I turned to Rigmor and asked, “What answers do you see?”
“Look over the lake and close your eyes.”
“Ah, if I have my eyes closed, does it matter where I look?”
“Wulf, you will look over the lake and close your eyes, or I will kill you!”
I chuckled, then did as Rigmor asked, and once again, her voice took me to another place. A place I have visited with my foresight!
“I see beautiful green grass fields and golden wheat fields, only made brighter by the sun. The faint smell of melons is in the air, crickets chirping, and birds singing. A little girl runs through a wheat field, making deep tracks as her hands brush against its ears. She realises they are prickly, and she laughs as a little dog runs alongside, barking with excitement. A farmer is shaking his fist, but she keeps running, laughing louder and louder.
Life is a thrill, the sun is setting, and she doesn’t care about anything. She makes her way up the cold icy stream with her little friend through the brambles and thick evergreen. It isn’t even her dog. It just wanted to play, to jump into the icy pool to fetch the stick.
She keeps running under the deep golden rays of a dying sun, its red fingers softly caressing all it touches. Once again, feeling the snow under her bare feet, the little girl heads towards the huge shadow of the man that has come to meet her. His face cracks with the biggest smile as she runs and jumps full pelt, her arms outstretched, into the dark, smothering safety of his loving arms.”
I gasped, and when I opened my eyes, tears were falling, and Rigmor was concerned.
She asked, “Wulf, what is wrong?”
“Have you ever dreamt what you just told me?”
“Yes, in Breezehome. I dreamt it during one of the short periods you let me sleep.”
“Your memory is still bad. It was you who kept attacking me!”
“Why did you think I dreamt it, and why has it made you cry?”
“My foresight is untrained, but I understand more of what I see than most seers of Azura. I saw a possible future with a little girl running through a wheat field, our wheat field. Meeko was with her. She ran to my open arms, and I noticed she had wheat in her hair. As I walked towards you, I started plucking the wheat out of her curls. You were on a veranda with cold drinks ready for Meeko, the child and myself. I handed the girl to you. Then you made a game of taking the wheat out of her hair. The child giggled, and it was the most wonderful sound. When I looked out over our land, I could hear our neighbours laughing from a few fields away. I thought how things had changed and wondered how long it had been since anybody needed to carry a weapon.”
“That is amazing! Do you think we dreamt of the same farm and little girl?”
“I don’t know, Rigmor. I know that mine was not just a dream but a vision of a possible future. A future where you and I no longer have to fight and kill. A future where peace surrounds us.”
“Would that even be possible?”
“I wouldn’t have experienced it if it wasn’t!”
“If ever we are given a chance to make that possibility come true, we would have to try.”
“Yes, we would have to try.”
“Come on then, Wulf. I am eager to spend your money!”
“Oh, I knew I forgot something.”
“I hope you are joking.”
“I pulled out a coin purse and jiggled it.”
“One day, Wulf, you will say, ‘I was only joking!’. But I won’t understand you through your fat lips and broken teeth.”
I stood and held out my hand. My beloved stood and took it in hers. Then we walked into Riften together.
We held hands till we reached the market.
I said to Rigmor, “Take a look around. I would give you a bag of coins, but the cutpurses are rampant here. So, if you need money, come and kiss me, and I might let you impoverish me.”
“This will be so cool! We never got the chance last time we were here. What is it you need?”
“Some bits and pieces for some Magicka I think might help somebody.”
I watched Rigmor talk to the store holders and ask where things came from, who made them, etc. She made people instantly relaxed. She will be well-loved by the people of Bruma and a superb Countess.
I asked at several stores, but nobody had the simple items I required.
I noticed a particularly grimy man watching both Rigmor and me.
He said, “Hey, matey!”
I pointed to myself.
“Yes, you matey, over here.”
I walked up to him and asked, “What can I do for you?”
“Jimmy Ten Fingers is my name. If you can’t find what you are looking for, I’m your man.”
“Is that so?”
“If you’re looking for a good bargain, I got just what you might need. It’s a necklace with a rose. It’s all legit like. It’s just that I need some gold quickly. You see, my poor old auntie took a nasty fall. I need to help get her back on her feet.”
“Well, let’s go help her then. She must be a big lady if you can’t get her up by yourself!”
“Show me the necklace, Jimmy, who has ten fingers like everybody else.”
I knew that Rigmor would adore the necklace but suspected it wasn’t legally obtained.
I said, “Nah. Not interested.”
“So, what is it you want? Some Skooma?”
“Do you want to be shitting your teeth for a week?”
“I need some simple things to make a doll, but nobody stocks the items I seek.”
“Ah! A kid’s doll. So, you’re looking to make a doll for your daughter?”
“I don’t look that old, do I? No, it is for somebody special to me. A reminder of her past.”
“I’m guessing it’s for the young lady you arrived with? Tell you what, you tell me what you need, I’ll get the stuff. But you take the necklace off me ‘ands as well, I’ll do you a good deal.”
I stared at the repulsive little man and said, “Maybe we have a deal if you promise to buy some soap and use it.”
“Listen, you can’t come to Riften Market and leave empty-handed now. I’m sure your pretty little friend would appreciate it.”
“Okay, but no items, no deal. How much for the necklace?”
“Seein’ as I’m feeling all charitable, it’s yours for one hundred septims.”
“Seeing as you are hawking on Thieves Guild turf, I offer fifty septims. You wouldn’t want to be known as Jimmy Mangled Ten Fingers now, would you?”
“Okay, shush! Fifty septims it is.”
“Alright then, Jimmy. I need a piece of sackcloth, wooden Dowling and some yellow string.”
“Hang about here, and I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
As I kept an eye on Rigmor, I gave each beggar I met some coins.
I dropped a couple of septims into a bowl.
The bowl’s rather grubby owner said, “Greetings, traveller. I don’t think we’ve met. The name’s Caylene.”
‘I am pleased to meet you, Caylene. I am Wulf.”
“That’s right. I am The Caylene. A professional bard, playwright and stage actress.”
“I am impressed. Your impersonation of an impoverished, unwashed beggar is superb. It takes commitment to forgo soap and water for one’s profession!”
“Okay, I’m really just a beggar, but you didn’t hear that from me.”
“My lips are sealed. Being a performing artist is not much different from being a beggar.”
“True enough. Besides, I may be poor, but everyone tells me I have a noble soul. Hearing that always makes me smile.”
“In that case. Caylene, you have a noble soul!”
Caylene smiled, which would have been more endearing without yellow teeth and bits of her last meal wedged in gaps.
I observed, “It seems you’ve fallen on hard times.”
“My luck may be down, but my spirits are high. Made even higher by your generous donation.”
“Do you perform originals songs or plays?”
“No. Why try to reinvent the wheel? Why not make it faster and rounder?”
“People rarely get faster when they get rounder unless they fall down a hill. Plays must be different.”
“Lucky for you, Wulf, that you don’t rely on pleasing an audience with your humour. You would be driven out of town!”
“Ahh, critics. They never understand real talent.”
“Anyway, as I was saying before your interruption, we try and improve on old favourites. For instance, last week, me and some of the other beggars did a stirring rendition of Fjori and Holgeir.”
Using a bit of Thu’um, I narrated, “Fjori and Holgeir beat the crap out of each other with axe and sword then fell in love and then a snake bit Holgeir and Fjori gave him some antidote, and then the snake bit her, and she died because there was no antidote left. They didn’t live happily ever after. The end!”
“Very good, but we didn’t round it out that much or as fast.”
“Ahh, that may be why I am rich, and you are begging? Imagine how many shows per day you could perform!”
“Yes, well, in our version, Fjori was a vampire, and Holgeir was the sun. It earned us two septims a piece, and we ate really good that night.”
“Whose son was Holgeir?”
“No, sun as in the big yellow thing in the sky.”
“Oh, well, that would have made for a hot but short-lived romance.”
“If I give you your septims back, will you leave?”
“Ahh, I see, you don’t want the competition. I understand. But surely your performances are well known throughout Riften?”
“Absolutely. A beggar is nothing without her patrons. I owe everything I have to the townsfolk here.”
“All that dirt and those lice and fleas were given to you for free? They must truly love you.”
“Yes. That’s why, as a pretend artist, I do my best to give them more of what they want. Namely me.”
“Lady Dibella will be pleased you share yourself so willingly!”
“No, not like that, although the pay can be good, and I don’t have to do much other than lie down and pretend. No, I mean that I sometimes run around with a bucket on my head. Other times, I’m using that bucket as a drum.”
“Oh dear, do you ever forget which one you are supposed to be doing and whack the bucket while it is still on your head?”
“You should try it. I do it all the time and see what it has done for my health!”
“Okay, that one was mildly funny.”
“What is that over there?”
I pointed, and as Caylene looked, I dropped a three hundred septim ruby into her bowl. I then walked quickly away. Caylene does have a good soul.
Rigmor was standing in front of Brynjolf’s stall. He is a senior member of The Thieves Guild. I had heard they were finding it hard to make a living. The fact he was selling fake elixirs proves the rumour is true.
Brynjolf was making claims about his elixir, such as, “See into other people’s thoughts!” “Learn a library’s worth of knowledge in moments!” “Wield powerful magic incantations!” “Grow back that missing limb!”
I said, using The Voice so all could hear me, “Bryinjolf, if you let me lop your arm off and your elixir grows it back, I will buy your entire stock!”
Everybody laughed, including Rigmor, as Brynjolf stared at me. My beloved wandered off to do more browsing.
I noticed a young girl had been observing us. She was good, but I have been trained to spot spies and snitches by the best.
A familiar Argonian came up to me.
“Hello, Nubaree. I thought you were heading for The College of Winterhold?”
“I am doing a few trips as a guard for merchants first. I will head there soon.”
“Do you need money?”
“Oh, no, I have plenty of money. It is for the experience. There is nothing quite like a bunch of bandits charging you to improve spell accuracy and speed.”
“I can’t argue with that.”
“I see Rigmor is still healthy, and no bandits have claimed her head.”
“They have tried, and all have died, Nubaree. Tell them at The College that Master Mage Welkynd vouches for you.”
“You are a Master of The College?”
“Yes, and in all five Schools of Magicka.”
“How long did it take you to earn such a rank?”
“About ten minutes and nine of those involved climbing stairs. But honestly, I have been learning alchemy and the five Schools of Magicka since I was eight years of age.”
“I look forward to seeing you at The College, Master Mage Welkynd.”
“Take my advice and enter The College as soon as you can. You never know when a crossbow bolt might take you out.”
I noticed the young girl was sitting, drinking hot chocolate but still observing what was going on around her with an expert eye.
I walked up to her and said, “You are excellent, but I am better. Please, be careful, little one. Selling information or being a snitch is not the safest way to make a living.”
The girl seemed surprised I had caught her out.
She replied, “Capt’n, even at my age, I could make a living allowing lechers to use my body. Some have tried without asking or even buying me hot chocolate! The cold steel of my stabber to their man bits ended their lust and, on one occasion, their life. Selling information is how I feed myself and is less dangerous than other things.”
“Are you orphaned?”
“No, Capt’n, but my father has dozens of kids across the ports of Tamriel, according to my mother and probably doesn’t know I exist. My mother is addicted to Skooma, and if it weren’t for me, she would starve.”
I offered the girl a small coin purse.
She shook her head and said, “I am not a beggar, Capt’n. If you want to buy some information or gossip, I will be happy to oblige.”
“I hope that asking your name won’t cost me!”
“It is Olette. Jimmy Ten Fingers is back with your stuff for Rigmor’s doll. I am glad to see she is happier than the last time you visited.”
“Take care, Olette.”
“I have to be careful, Capt’n. My mother relies on me.”
I heard, “Hey, Matey. I gotcha stuff!”
I walked over to Jimmy.
He said, “They don’t call me Ten Fingers for nothin’!”
“I would probably guess it is because you have ten fingers?”
“So, you have my stuff?”
“Yes, here you go and here is the necklace. I can’t hang around as I need to attend to my old boat. If you need anything else, you know where to find me.”
“It is not nice to call your auntie an old boat!”
“Thanks, Jimmy. Here is your payment. Once again, I strongly suggest you use some of the money to buy soap.”
I walked over to Rigmor, who blessed me with a smile.
I asked, “Enjoying yourself?”
“Yanno, if I ever had to choose between Bruma or Riften, that would be a hard call.”
“But you won’t only have to settle for one, Milady.”
“I suppose I had better get used to that.”
“Did you see anything you like?”
“Nah, but I enjoyed the browsing!”
“Well, here is a gift from me to you. It wouldn’t do to leave Riften Market empty-handed!”
I reached around Rigmor’s neck and clasped the necklace in place.
Rigmor exclaimed, “Oh my days, Wulf. It’s beautiful. Thank you!”
“We had better head back. I have a feeling that things are about to get quite busy.”
“The New Order?”
“Yes, they might have landed by now.”
“I would like to rush back, but I am exhausted.”
“Perhaps I can take you on a luxurious boat cruise back to Sethri’s magnificent manor and estate?”
We headed to the docks and found Jimmy standing next to an old boat.
I approached and asked, “Jimmy, how would you like to earn some more shiny, clinky gold?”
“Row us across the lake to a farm. It is not far.”
“Ten or zero.”
“Ten it is. Climb aboard.”
We climbed aboard, and Rigmor whined, “A luxurious boat trip? Yeah, right. Pfft!”
It did not take long for Jimmy to row us across. He may be skinny, but there is strength in his spindly arms.
As Jimmy rowed away, I said to Rigmor, “Today was extraordinary. Neither of us in armour and just being a couple. It has been full of memories I will cherish, and I couldn’t have asked for more.”
“Yes, Wulf, it was a day to remember.”
“Are you tired?”
“Far more than I thought I would be.”
“I think that concoction they gave you is yet to be fully purged.”
“A polite way of saying pooped and peed out.”
“Oh, yes, purged sounds much better.”
“You head into the farmhouse. I will be there soon. First, I need to check if Lydia or The Blades have any news.”
A huge Nord stood at the bottom of the steps, but nobody seemed concerned about him.
I looked behind and saw Yngol’s horse.
I watched as Rigmor walked past the Nord without even glancing his way.
I walked up to him, and he gave me a perfect Legionnaire’s salute.
“Ah, at ease, soldier. What’s your name?”
“Lieutenant Grom. It is an honour to meet you, General.”
“You are one of Yngol’s men?”
“Yes, I am one of his assistants. We run around delivering despatches etc. Not very thrilling but vital according to General Yngol.”
“Yes, it is vital, and no army could function without dispatchers. The armour you wear is of the type used by officers of The Sons of Talos, but you are way too young to be one of them.”
“It was my father’s. He fought beside Ragnar in Cyrodiil and Hammerfell. He survived all that, then one day, his horse’s hoof went into a rabbit hole, toppled over and squished him. I wear the armour in his honour.”
“Do you know who the young lady that just passed you is?”
“That is Rigmor, daughter of Ragnar.”
“What do you think of the veteran Sons of Talos suggesting they won’t take the field unless Rigmor leads them?”
“Pardon my language, General. They are fucking idiots and threaten the respect The Sons of Talos earned in Hammerfell and The Great War.”
“You are an ex-Legionnaire, Grom. The civil war must end once we have defeated The New Order. Listen to the challenges I will issue to Ulfric and measure his responses. Think long and hard before you face me across the battlefield. I don’t expect those who call themselves Stormcloaks to switch sides. However, I hope many go home to their parents, spouses, children, loved ones and do not die needlessly.”
“I shall, General.”
“I look forward to fighting by your side, Grom.”
I saluted the giant soldier and then entered the farmhouse.
I approached Yngol and asked, “Have they landed?”
“Yes. The New Order has been trying to take Morthal. However, reports say some strange mages keep appearing out of nowhere and eliminating any officers they find. Then they vanish once more. These hit and run tactics have caused mass confusion, and the attack on Morthal has stalled. We have received these reports via one of the mages. He is a Redguard with glowing red eyes and carries a spear.”
“So, as I thought, The New Order doesn’t have any Battlemages. I think we killed a few dozen of their best wizards as we strolled through their various forts and other places.”
“I take it you know these mages?”
“Yes, they are ex Blades who are now Dragonguard. I sent them to Morthal on a hunch. Vayu is the man who has been delivering the reports. He and the other Blades have fought many battles by my side.”
“Talos was correct if he indeed asked for your instant promotion.”
“I have trained for years and fought many battles, Yngol. Often against far greater odds and better soldiers than we will face at Whiterun. Talos knows my capabilities. If a Priest of Talos advised His Imperial Highness to make me a General, you could bet your left ball that was Talos’ advice.”
“Have you spoken to Talos?”
“Many times, and Rigmor met him recently. Rigmor also spoke to Lady Azura.”
“A battalion of enemy Bosmer Auxiliaries is heading for Dragon Bridge. Advance units are in the mountain pass heading straight for Whiterun.”
“It will be early morning before The New Order are in position. They won’t attack when it is overcast and raining as their archers will be less effective. They will not attack until sunrise for the same reason.”
“Casius and I immediately moved our men to the designated ground outside Whiterun.”
“Good. Head back to Whiterun and tell Cassius to prepare for a dawn attack. I think the troops can safely stand down till half an hour before dawn. Let The New Order troops hear laughing, relaxed soldiers.”
“Yes, that will make them worry. Consider it done, friend.”
Yngol departed, and I sat to talk with Sethri.
I told him, “There is a very slim chance we will lose. However, if we lose, I want you to take everyone to safety.”
“Lose? I’m afraid it’s a little too late for that. You see, everyone is counting on you, Dragonborn.”
“If they expect me to go in and slaughter with The Voice like The Dragonborn of legends, they will be disappointed. I could wipe out the entire army that Aedriath fields, but The Divines don’t want that, and I am happy to comply. We will win via better troops, morale and tactics. I will kill with sword and spell and still be a terrifying, unstoppable agent of death.”
“Can you imagine the fate that awaits the people of Skyrim if you lose? Even if Mede does defeat the army in the south. How long would it take him to muster the force to dislodge Aedriath from the strongholds? If at all he can. I’ll wager he would just fortify his northern border and try to be all diplomatic. He’ll cut Skyrim loose. Let’s face it, Skyrim is expendable. A mountainous, cold, lonely place filled with dissent and unrest. This barren land will become the beginnings of a New Dominion of an Elven God King in waiting.”
“Go and tell the Imperial Legionnaires fighting the civil war that Skyrim is expendable! The Empire and Skyrim need each other, or they will both perish. And do you have any idea what would happen if any of the Daedric Princes manifested on Nirn? Every mortal would be killed or enslaved. The New Order is not deluding themselves that Malacath would show them mercy, for he would not need an army once he is here! They hope to destroy The Divines and be useful to Malacath long enough to reach that goal. Like the normal Thalmor, they want to undo Convention and linear time in the hope of becoming immortal once more.”
“Well, that is an even grimmer picture, so you have only one option. Do or die, Dragonborn. Do or die.”
“That is what I do, and so far, I have only died once!”
“On that light note, I think I’ll hit the sack.”
“I am glad we didn’t get you to speak to the Sons of Talos. They would have cried for their mothers and drank milk with your lack of optimism!”
“Just go out there and do what you do. Yngol, Varon and all those brave men and women out there believe in you. They all know you went into Oblivion, kicked arse, and came out alive. Do you know what they are calling you out there?”
“Umm, Wulf the Arse Kicker?”
“They are calling you Guardian General. Don’t underestimate yourself, my friend. Even if they have the numbers, it doesn’t give them a victory.”
I laughed, and Sethri looked worried.
I said, “The least likely mortal on Nirn to underestimate themself is me! And numbers count for nothing! A few of The New Order troops will be fanatics who believe in Aedriath’s vision. Most will be rank and file soldiers and mercenaries whose sole motivation is money. They face men and women fighting for their loved ones, way of life and freedom. They face the best trained, best equipped and most professional soldiers on Nirn. That makes each of our soldiers worth many of theirs. It is they who are outnumbered! I know how to use that morale and the terrain. I also know the battle for Whiterun will be conducted under terrible weather, making their archers far less effective.”
“How can you be sure about the weather?”
“The young seer I took to the Riften Market today.”
“Thank you for your help, Sethri. I shall thank Lady Azura at her shrine near Winterhold when I get the opportunity.
“As it happens, if by perchance you do lose and your head finds a nice new home on the battlements of Whiterun. I have a nice little bolt hole in Morrowind where I’ll be happy to take all my current residents I have living here. So, don’t you worry!”
“Get some sleep. Sethri.”
“As you wish, Guardian General, as you wish.”
I made my way outside and spoke to Lydia.
“They have landed and tried to take Morthal. The Blade mages have killed many of their officers, so that attack has stalled.”
“Are you heading for Whiterun now?”
“You wish me to stay and protect Rigmor.”
“I know you would like to help defend Whiterun, but I don’t think Rigmor will want to be there. And after what happened at the mine, I don’t want her to fall into their hands ever again!”
“Although I have not had much chance to talk to Rigmor recently, we are good friends, and I know how much you mean to each other. I will be honoured to protect Rigmor.”
“Thank you, Lydia.”
“Survive and return for Rigmor.”
“Being dead is boring. I think I can resist the temptation.”
“Celestine is sitting by the lake.”
Celestine stood when she heard me approaching.
I asked her, “Watching the wild horses swim?”
“I find this farm and its location very comforting and will miss it, despite the deadly gases emanating from Sethri.”
“Yngol says Vayu and the others have caused The New Order’s attack on Morthal to stall. It appears The New Order have no Battlemages.”
“I have been worried and have been hoping for a report.”
“Vayu has faced far tougher enemies than The New Order.”
“I know. But Vayu worries when I am fighting by your side, so it is only fair that I also get grey hair.”
“I think grey hairs are several hundred years away, Celestine.”
“Not if you keep getting us into these messes!”
“I will be leaving for Whiterun soon.”
“We will protect Rigmor, Wulf.”
“I know. Please, one of you needs to sit by Rigmor’s side when she sleeps. She might suffer from night terrors because I am not by her side. If she wakes and sees one of you there, that may help.”
“We will take turns, Wulf. Not all of us have iron arses like you and can sleep upright in a chair.”
“I will be in the shed making a doll if anybody needs me.”
“Why don’t I find that weird?”
“Were you dropped on your head as a child?”
“No, and that is why it is a mystery.”
I had a vision of Jenny in my mind as clear as if the original was on the workbench.
An hour later, I was confident the Jenny I made was an excellent copy.
I entered the farmhouse and walked into Rigmor’s bedroom. Sorella was not there, and Rigmor was sitting on the edge of her bed.
I told her, “I am going to Whiterun now to fight The New Order’s army.”
“I know you will win. Just make sure you come back to me!”
“There are no words that can adequately express how much I love you. I am incomplete without you and never want to leave your side.”
“But you have to leave my side now to fight and will have to leave me at the border. I know.”
“The Divines trust my empathy and sense of duty will override my wants and needs. I hope they are right because I don’t know if I can be that strong, even for a short time. My strength comes from you, my beloved. You keep me from being a monster.”
“I will always be with you. You know that! Not physically, but our love, we will still feel it even if a million miles away!”
“I will beat them at Whiterun so that little girl can run through the wheat with the dog barking with joy. I will kill efficiently and quickly so more fathers and mothers will be there to greet their little girls and hug them tight. I will be a monster, so little girls don’t have to meet any. I will be a monster, so little girls don’t think they have to kill to please their father!”
“I’m sorry I let you down.”
“You have never let me down! I am so proud of you and how you have fought back from the terrible things done to you.”
Rigmor was still plagued with self-doubt. I said to her, “All that matters to me right now is that you are safe and well. What others expect you to do means nothing. They do not know you or love you as I do.”
“Please don’t take too many risks. Please!”
“I will do what I need to do for that little girl in the wheatfield.”
“If that was our little girl, I wonder what we named her?”
“Rigmor, I have something for you.”
I knelt then held out the doll. Rigmor’s eyes lit up, and she yelled, “JENNY!”
Rigmor gently took the doll from my hands and placed it carefully on the bed. Then she lay beside Jenny as exhaustion took over.
My beloved fell asleep in seconds, and I closed my eyes for a minute as Our Quiet enveloped me.
I bent down and kissed Rigmor gently on the forehead.
Lydia came into the room and sat on the chair. All I could do was nod as emotion threatened to overwhelm me. Rigmor was not fully recovered, yet I was leaving her side. Lydia understood.
I walked into the main room, and Sorella was there.
She asked, “Did you kiss Rigmor goodbye?”
“Yes, of course.”
“You are crying, Wulf. Talk to Meeko. He can help.”
“The only thing that will stop these tears, Sorella, is Rigmor’s smile.”
“Then get rid of the bad guys and hurry back!”
“That is the plan.”
“We all love Rigmor, Wulf. We will look after her.”
“I know. I am not worried about Rigmor’s safety, Sorella. But Rigmor is still not well, and I feel bad leaving her like she is.”
“Why do grown-ups always worry about doing what is needed. Rigmor might get better quicker if you stay here, but the bad guys might win. That would be worse than Rigmor being poorly, so the decision is easy. You must stop the bad guys.”
“That is logic, Sorella. I really like logic, but that is your brain thinking. Your heart doesn’t always agree with your brain.”
“Yeah, and that is why adults are strange.”
“Yes, and some of us are stranger than others.”
“Is Lydia sitting with Rigmor?”
“Yes, but I don’t think she can fall asleep on the chair. People will take it in turns to sit there in case Rigmor wakes. She can look across and know that people who love her are there for her.”
“Come back for Rigmor, Wulf.”
Sorella headed for the bedroom.
I retrieved my armour from Hashire, donned it then teleported to Breezehome.
The Guardian General had arrived, and The New Order was doomed.