Fredas, 19th Hearthfire, 4E 201
Celestine teleported to Sethri’s farm and then summoned Lydia and Meeko.
Rigmor and I were alone for the first time since our walk to Riften.
She asked, “Are you sure he is dead, Wulf?”
“I cut his head off!”
“Oh, that usually does it. But why did it take you so long?”
“We had a good, long talk and reminisced about old times.”
“Yeah, right. Pffft!”
“All that matters, for now, is you are free of him. Let’s make our last day together, for a few weeks at least, about us, and not the death and horror of the past.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
“You only said that because there are no witnesses.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
I laughed, teleported to Sethri’s farm and then summoned Rigmor.
As we walked towards the homestead, Rigmor remarked, “It looks like Celestine and Lydia have already told Sethri about Aedriath.”
As we got closer, it was apparent that Sethri had put his foot well and truly in his mouth.
- Celestine: Sethri, have you met Vayu?
- Sethri: The very large Redguard with the glowing red eyes?
- Celestine: Yes, that is Vayu, and he is my fiancé. Your offer of a ‘good shag’ is not only a lie, but it would get you beaten to a simpering, bloody pulp if he heard about your suggestion.
- Rigmor: Sethri, you didn’t! Did you?
- Celestine: He did.
- Wulf: I went into Oblivion to rescue Rigmor. Alas, there is nothing I can do for you, Sethri.
- Celestine: I will start packing our equipment and forget our conversation, Tendril Sethri.
- Sethri: Ah, that is mighty generous of you.
I stepped in front of Sethri and had to control my laughter.
“Sethri, look, my head is still attached!”
“News travels fast, Dragonborn, news travel fast.”
“I see a lack of horses. Has everybody else left?”
“I will give you the news inside. Meanwhile, there are some presents for you. Look on the workbench in the stable.”
“They were special delivery! Rigmor, Bashita brought your old armour as you requested. Come inside, and all will be revealed.”
“Why do I worry when you talk about revealing things, Sethri?”
Rigmor giggled as she followed Sethri inside.
On the way to the workbench, I stopped to chat with Hashire.
He said, “There is something different. Aha, your Dovah had been shoved into a corner!”
“That is not a good analogy. My Dovah is semi-retired and relaxing.”
“I knew you would harden eventually. What was the catalyst?”
“A day of slaughter and getting to know Tilar Aedriath. He loved Sharon, his wife. I could tell that he was as gentle as a lamb with her. Sometimes I struggle to understand how somebody capable of such love can also be a complete arsehole to others.”
“You know the answer, Wulf. People like Aedriath can show great love and compassion for their species. However, if they regard other species as bestial and inferior, they can justify extreme violence, even genocide.”
“Yes, and that is why Ysgramor and his followers could slaughter Falmer women and children without mercy or guilt.”
“Today will be hard on Rigmor and you. Banish the darkness, Wulf. Revel in her presence while you can.”
“Intervene if I drift from happy and smiling into brooding and frowning.”
“Yes, of course! Stopping suddenly and watching you pitch forward over my head is always good for a laugh.”
“You could try something a bit more subtle.”
“Like yelling in your head, ‘SMILE YOU DEPRESSING ARSEHOLE!’?”
“That is about as subtle as a rock to the face.”
“Well, I have hooves, so I can’t use rocks.”
“If I look depressed at any stage, it’s because I know you will continue to haunt me forever.”
“Yeah, isn’t that great!”
Ignoring my laughing unicorn, I made my way to the workbench.
I picked up the Khajiiti bow, and it was superb. The arrows were of equal quality.
I picked up the new Azura’s Bane. It was of equal quality to the original, and no ‘essence of a mother’s love’ was required.
I picked up the gift from Boethiah. Some say she wields Goldbrand, but I don’t think that is the case. The gold katana is a product of superb craftsmanship and was not created by a Daedra. The original Goldbrand was made by dragons and wielded by The Forgotten Hero posing as Emperor Titus Mede II at the Battle of The Red Ring. Since they were battling Lord Naarifin, Boethia’s Champion, and hordes of Boethiah devotees, it is very doubtful that Boethiah possesses Goldbrand.
I placed the gifts in Hashire’s box.
I stopped to speak to Celestine.
I joked, “I think Sethri is in dire need of female company. Perhaps we should hide the goats?”
“He was only testing the waters. No harm done. I did have to stifle my laughter as I didn’t want to give him a complex.”
“The Safe House will be overcrowded. I might visit Jarl Elisif and see if other properties are available.”
“When are we getting back to Alduin? Or are you going to tackle the civil war first?”
“I want to spend tomorrow getting The Dragonguard into uniform. They must no longer be regarded as Blades. I think His Imperial Highness owes us a favour or two. I want The Dragonguard to be the authority for dealing with the dragons and The Blades, whatever is left of them, to be subservient to us. In other words, the Grandmaster of The Dragonguard will outrank the Grandmaster of The Blades.”
“From what Vayu told me, Delphine is lucky to have her head. She will comply if she genuinely wants to help with the dragons.”
“We shall tackle the dragons first, but instinct tells me the civil war will hinder us eventually. We might get to a point where we have no choice but to forget the dragons for some time and take care of Ulfric and Stormcloaks.”
“You killed a couple of hundred people in the battles yesterday, Wulf. You took a long time to kill Aedriath. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I am at ease with what I have done. I will continue to add those I kill in combat to my list, but I no longer fret over the numbers. What has to be done will be done.”
“You will sit and tell me what happened between you and Aedriath on that roof.”
“I promise I will.”
“This farm was alive with Sigunn, Angi and Sorella. It is just as pretty, but it is not the same.”
“I dread to think of the noise and carrying on at the Safe House!”
“Auryen told Sato some information about Miraak. He is a Dragonborn like you. Your mother was the first Dragonborn with only Dragonblood, while Miraak was the first Dragonborn with Dragonblood and a Dragonsoul. He refused to fight Alduin and allied himself with Hermaeus Mora. That is the brief story given. I am sure Auryen can tell you more.”
“We might send somebody to Solstheim while dealing with Alduin and civil war. Then we shall prioritise Miraak based on what they find.”
“Okay, I think the quicker we do that, the better.”
“Agreed. We shall sort that out tomorrow as well.”
“Go and speak to Sethri. There is no use delaying the parting, Wulf.”
“I just hope to keep it together and send Rigmor across the border with confidence.”
“As you know, I was a mess when we left Vayu in Akavir. It would be best to let your emotions take you where they will. Cry, laugh, be yourselves.”
I made my way into the farmhouse. Rigmor was wearing her old armour. The last person to wear it had his head chopped off by me.
I sat at the table.
- Wulf: Sethri, where has everybody gone?
- Sethri: Baa’Ren-Dar is taking Sigunn home.
- Rigmor: Baa’Ren-Dar has already acquired our old house.
- Sethri: I said Sigunn could stay with me. She gasped a little, thanked me for my good nature and went with the old Khajiit.
- Wulf: Sethri, have a chat with Haelga in Riften. She is a keen practitioner of The Dibellan Arts. You might have to book ahead, though.
- Sethri: Hey, I am not desperate, but where can I find her in Riften?
- Wulf: She runs a large bunkhouse.
- Rigmor: Guess what Yngol did?
- Wulf: He took Sorella and Angi up the mountains. He is going to build a new house for them and maybe stay. He told me after the battle.
- Sethri: I guess you’ll be taking young Rigmor back to Bruma then?
- Wulf: We haven’t decided whether to part ways at the border or for me to take Rigmor to Bruma.
- Rigmor: I’ll wait for you outside.
- Wulf: Please stay. I have a feeling that things are being kept from you. Am I right, Sethri?
- Sethri: Ah…
- Wulf: Let us start with something easy. Who delivered the copy of Azura’s Bane?
- Sethri: How do you know it’s not the original?
- Wulf: The bits of the original Azura’s bane are in Oblivion. They were not expelled with me.
- Sethri: A young priestess and other acolytes were repairing Azura’s shrine near the Black Diamond mine. Azura made it appear on the altar and asked the priestess to bring it here.
- Wulf: The gold katana is from Boethia to thank her Champion.
- Sethri: Champion?
- Wulf: Yes, I am also Azura’s Champion.
- Sethri: I knew that!
- Wulf: The longbow is from Baa’Ren-Dar and is excellent. But I think he left something else, didn’t he?
- Sethri: Yes, a letter, but Baa’Ren-Dar said it was for your eyes only. He gave it to me just after you left for Whiterun.
- Wulf: Hand it over. I keep no secrets from Rigmor.
Sethri handed me the letter. I broke the wax seal and read it to myself.
This one has been recalled, but Khajiit needed to tell you that Emperor Titus Mede II restored Rigmor’s family name. The Emperor took it upon himself to inform me just before he crushed the enemy in Cyrodiil. This one was going to tell you earlier, but Khajiit thought it could wait until after The New Order was defeated in Skyrim.
Kaza’Zhid has had a premonition that you will become legendary and save Tamriel many times. This one shall be taking Sigunn to Bruma and help her get established before returning to Elsweyr. We would be eternally grateful if you could escort Rigmor to the border with Cyrodiil, it will be safe for her to travel from there, as this one knows you also have your destiny to fulfil in Skyrim.
Rigmor is to become Countess of Bruma. What a wonderful day! We owe you a great debt of gratitude. This one thanks you, Dragonborn, for being her Guardian.
I handed the letter to Rigmor, who quickly read it.
- Rigmor: Wulf, it says many times!”
- Wulf: That is not unexpected. We will have to deal with what comes.
- Rigmor: Yes, I know. It is just a shock to see it confirmed.
- Wulf: I can’t believe Baa’Ren-Dar just assumed I would leave Rigmor at the border. That is not his decision to make.
- Sethri: Dragonborn, my Mistress wanted me to warn you that taking Rigmor across the border would put her in danger. She’s been looking after Rigmor all her life, and she’s never wrong.
- Wulf: And did Azura say why?
- Sethri: Azura isn’t sure, but she can feel ripples in The Void. There’s some heavy grinding going on. There must be a bloody good reason if that old Khajiit wants you to stay behind and send Rigmor off alone.
- Wulf: I am still to hear a good reason.
- Sethri: Well, something isn’t right, and I don’t just mean dragons are coming back. There is something to it. Something way bigger. I mean, that old Khajiit’s been staying at the temple of Mara. Ever wonder about that one? It means he’s got the ear of the gods. Dinya told me herself. Mara is a step away from the old man himself, right? There must be a good reason they don’t want you anywhere beyond that border. Any ideas why that is?
- Wulf: Why would the High Priestess of the Riften Temple of Mara tell you anything.
- Sethri: Yeah, means and ways Dragonborn, means and ways.
- Rigmor: Sethri!
- Wulf: Do you want a punch in the mouth?
- Sethri: What?
- Wulf: Dinya is a High Priestess of Mara and married to the Head Priest of the Riften Temple. She would be excommunicated if she broke the sacred marriage vows she administers! And why would she risk all for a dalliance with an agent of a Daedric Prince?
- Sethri: Well, um…
- Wulf: Her husband is a Redguard and would not accept such an insult. His devotion to Lady Mara would not prevent him from cutting you to pieces with a blunt knife!
- Sethri: Shit!
- Wulf: Such lies are not harmless. Nor are they amusing.
- Sethri: I apologise.
- Wulf: Your claim that Azura is never wrong is complete bullshit! She is not omnipotent and is often wrong. If The Divines can’t tell me precisely what is to occur, how could Lady Azura?
- Sethri: Umm….
- Wulf: You dared to say Azura has looked after Rigmor her entire life!
- She did not stop Rigmor’s family from being torn apart.
- She did not stop Ragnar’s execution.
- She did not stop Sigunn and Rigmor from enslavement.
- She did not stop the beatings and whippings that almost killed Rigmor.
- She did not tell Baa’Ren-Dar about Rigmor’s captivity. He found her by chance and rescued her.
- She did not heal Rigmor after the Bruma Embassy. Angi did.
- She did not send me to Skyrim. The Divines did.
- She did not heal Rigmor after she leapt off a cliff. Rose, Celestine and I did.
- She did not stop Rigmor from being kidnapped by The New Order.
- She did not rescue Rigmor from the sacrificial dais. I did.
- She did not help Rigmor recover from the poison administered by the New Order.
- She did not help Rigmor rediscover herself in time to turn up at the battle yesterday.
- Rigmor: Sethri, Lady Azura helped Wulf even when her power on Nirn was diminished, and for that, we are both eternally grateful. She said she manipulated people, and it is impossible to tell what that involved. For instance, she sent you to us, and that helped!
- Wulf: The truth does not mean we do not admire Lady Azura or respect her best wishes for Rigmor. But you need to realise, as Malesam has, that what Daedric Princes claim they can do is exaggerated.
- Sethri: Well, what about the ripples in The Void?
- Wulf: Ripples are also called junctions. They signify a significant divergence in possible timelines. For instance, me almost dying when Aedriath ambushed us was a ripple. The Divines will not warn me about ripples because they don’t know what might be causing them. They knew I might die due to that ripple, but not how or why. Even if they did know, they would not tell me. There may be ripples as I deal with Alduin and another Dragonborn in Solstheim. They are common, Sethri, and only The Divines know their significance. Lady Azura may have some clue due to the foresight of her seers.
- Sethri: What about Baa’Ren-Dar and Mara?
- Wulf: Mara is the Mother Cat in the Khajiit pantheon and is worshipped by them. There is nothing strange about Baa’Ren-Dar staying in Lady Mara’s temple. As for having the ears of the gods. The Priest and Priestesses speak to Lady Mara and receive directions on who needs help with relationship problems. People pray to Lady Mara, and she passes on the relevant information to them. If The Divines wanted Baa’Ren-Dar to know something, they might tell one of the Priests or Priestesses to pass on a message to him. But The Divines speak to me often, so if there is a reason for me not to cross the border, they will let me know.
- Rigmor: Sethri, I have seen and heard Divines speak to Wulf. They would not tell Baa’Ren-Dar and not him!
- Wulf: The information in that letter should have been given to me by Baa’Ren-Dar as soon as he knew it. Neither Boethia nor Azura know the important information that the letter contains. Lucky for Rigmor and me, we knew it days ago because the Arch-Mage told us.
- Rigmor: Malesam also wanted to dictate when I should get the information in Baa’Ren-Dar’s letter. He had no right to decide that, and neither did Baa’Ren-Dar!
- Wulf: Sethri should be told.
- Rigmor: You’re right.
- Wulf: Tendril Sethri, allow me to introduce Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, Countess of Bruma.
- Sethri: What? Why? How?
- Rigmor: Emperor Mede offered me the vacant position as compensation for what happened to my family.
- Wulf: If I had said goodbye to Rigmor at the border just after telling her that, it would not have been a pleasant experience! Also, that was a damn big ripple in The Void, don’t you think? Azura did not know what the ripple meant. No seers had foresight involving Mede’s offer.
- Rigmor: None of this secrecy is your fault, Sethri!
- Sethri: That Countess thing should have been told to you earlier than the day the Dragonborn is supposed to say goodbye at the border!
- Wulf: We appreciate all that you have done for us and the people of Skyrim. I hope we have not upset you.
- Sethri: I understand you are just trying to set the record straight. It has been my pleasure to help.
- Wulf: I am not wearing this armour because I like it. The Divines wanted me to wear it for a specific purpose. To aid in that purpose, I would like to escort Rigmor to a discreet crossing into Cyrodiil. Too many questions would be asked at the official border crossing.
- Sethri: It just so happens there is an old smuggler’s route not far from here. It will bring you out at an abandoned trading post not far from the official border crossing.
- Wulf: Please mark it on my map.
Sethri marked my map and handed it back.
- Wulf: Thanks, Sethri. That will save time, and I can get rid of the brat earlier!
- Rigmor: Thank the gods I don’t have to put up with The Dragonbum much longer.
- Sethri: If, by perchance, you are around this way and happen to be saving the world all over again. Feel free to stop by anytime.
- Wulf: That could be quite often, according to Baa’Ren-Dar’s ‘soothsayer’.
- Sethri: Haha! Farewell Dragonborn and Countess Rigmor of Bruma.
When we exited the farmhouse, Father was waiting for us. Rigmor turned to me.
She said, “Well, it seems we are to be told why you can’t cross the border.”
“Let’s go see what he has to say.”
We walked over to Father.
He said, “Wulf, I will transport Rigmor and you to your room in Aetherius. What I have to say concerns both of you.”
Rigmor and I stood before Father in my Aetherius Room a few seconds later.
Father said, “Please sit at the table. I will sit a suitable distance from Rigmor.”
We sat, with Rigmor to my left and Father to my right.
- Wulf: Rigmor, you looked like you wanted to vomit when we arrived.
- Rigmor: I still feel a bit queasy but much better since…ah…
- Talos: Call me Hjalti.
- Rigmor: I still feel queasy but much better since Hjalti moved further away.
- Wulf: All living mortals feel uneasy in Aetherius. Father is a god, and even though he looks the same as his avatar, you reacted to the proximity of a Divine. That is why he is sitting farther away from you.
- Rigmor: Oh!
- Talos: Do not worry about staying in Aetherius too long, Rigmor. No harm will come to you from this discussion’s short duration.
- Rigmor: Okay.
I turned to Father.
- Wulf: Father, you wanted us here to ensure no scrying would occur.
- Talos: Yes, what I have to say cannot be known by those who oppose us.
- Wulf: I assume The Divines don’t want me to cross into Cyrodiil. Has this to do with why The Guardian General and The Dragonborn should be perceived as separate entities?
- Talos: I will explain this in what I hope are terms that Rigmor can understand. She is not as proficient at gobblygook as you, my Son.
- Rigmor: Leave out the mumbo jumbo, and I should be able to keep up.
- Talos: I am not a flowery speaker like Lady Mara and others.
- Rigmor: Okay, if my eyes glaze over and I start dribbling, you will know I am confused.
- Wulf: Oh, I thought that was your natural state.
- Talos: Rigmor, ignore the idiot. Do you understand junctions, what some call ripples in The Void?
- Rigmor: Wulf said they are important events that make some future timelines more probable.
- Talos: Yes, that is a reasonably accurate description. A junction is like a decision a mortal might make. Do I do this, or do I do that? For instance, do I go inside and out of the rain and remain dry. Or do I stand outside and get wet. Although still possible, the odds of getting wet after going inside are greatly diminished.
- Rigmor: Okay, that makes sense.
- Talos: Several junctions in a row have led to a possibility that frightens us. Those junctions were Aedriath’s ambush that almost killed Wulf. Wulf’s rescue of you from the sacrificial altar. Wulf’s return from The Ash Pit. The victory over The New Order.
- Rigmor: Understood.
- Wulf: Father, what frightens The Nine?
- Talos: There are several junctions in the future that the Jills and Lord Akatosh cannot see past unless specific criteria are met. We are calling them Terminal Junctions.
- Wulf: The Kalpa ends?
- Talos: Lord Akatosh says the end of a Kalpa is different. He believes the junctions signify the end of Mundus, Nirn, and The Divines.
- Rigmor: That is terrible, but please, what are Jills?
- Wulf: Jills are female dragons. They help keep the threads of time untangled and logical. They repair time after a Dragon Break. They try to prevent Dragon Breaks, but that has proven impossible on several occasions.
- Talos: Rigmor, do you know what a Dragon Break is?
- Rigmor: Wulf told me it is when multiple timelines simultaneously become the timeline we experience. Weird things happen, like when multiple copies of your giant metal golem existed simultaneously.
- Talos: It was called The Numidium. Eight of them existed at one time with eight control rods. The Jills had to sort out the timelines and combine them into the one we wanted going forward.
- Rigmor: Wulf said differing histories could be correct because of Dragon Breaks.
- Talos: Scholars will write the events of a period as they experienced them. What other scholars experienced of the same event might be different, and thus their histories differ, but they are not wrong.
- Rigmor: Okay, I get what Jills do.
- Wulf: What are the criteria for averting disaster?
- Talos: They are too far into the future to know for sure. We are confident one criterion is that both of you live and are together.
- Wulf: Define together.
- Talos: Within proximity of each other. Whether your relationship is lovers, friends, enemies, or casual acquaintances is unknown. You must understand that we know very little at this stage.
- Rigmor: Why, if it is essential Wulf and I be together, are The Divines insisting we part at the border?
- Talos: For your safety, Rigmor. As The Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines, Wulf will attract many enemies. Anybody close to him, physically and emotionally, will also be in danger. If an enemy doesn’t think they can physically hurt Wulf, they may try and emotionally damage him.
- Rigmor: We can’t remain apart! We deserve and need to be together! We need to be together to be complete! I have already told Wulf I accept what will come as he does his tasks. Why does everybody, including gods, think they can make decisions for us?
- Talos: Rigmor, The Divines don’t want you two to remain apart. Lady Mara swore like a sailor when another of The Nine suggested keeping you apart for years was a solution. Well, we don’t physically talk to one another, but you get the analogy, I hope. We have a plan!
- Rigmor: Okay, I am sorry, Hjalti. I will listen before throwing another hissy fit.
- Wulf: Hissy fit?
- Rigmor: Temper tantrum.
- Wulf: Did you know that colloquialism, Father?
- Talos: I am an omnipotent god! I know all there is to know!
- Wulf: Do you know how to distil the essence of a mother’s love?
- Talos: What nonsense is that?
- Rigmor: The plan?
- Wulf: Yes, Father, the cunning plan!
- Talos: Rigmor, your Guardian will not be seen after he has escorted you to the border. There will be little evidence that The Dragonborn and Guardian General are the same individual. The description of Wulf as Guardian General will vary tremendously because of the armour he wore. The world must think you and your Guardian tearfully parted ways at the border and gone your separate ways.
- Rigmor: That bastard! I never want to speak to him ever again!
- Talos: Any official records that may expose them as the same individual will be altered by our mortal agents. It will be nigh on impossible for somebody to say the two entities are one person definitively.
- Rigmor: Okay, I have dumped that good for nothing Guardian. How do I get to see my beautiful Dragonborn?
- Wulf: Who says you are dumping me?
- Rigmor: I will be around the tell the story, and my Guardian won’t. I could make up cool stories like I caught you being intimate with a sheep!
- Talos: That sounds like fun, Rigmor, but The Guardian’s reputation must remain unsullied. Wulf may need to use that persona in the future.
- Rigmor: Okay, he is just a bastard who broke my heart.
- Talos: The separation must be absolute for some time. Not only will that enforce the illusion of a permanent separation, but you both also have things to do that need your undivided attention. Rigmor, it will not be easy transitioning into the role of Countess. Wulf needs to take care of Alduin. When the time is right, you can often meet and travel together as long as it is done discreetly.
- Wulf: I am sure we can develop ways to cover our tracks, Father.
- Talos: Some people in power will help with that. Emperor Titus Mede II will be informed of the need for discretion and arrange invitations to boring festivals and tourneys and other such nonsense. He listens to his religious advisors and will not be ignorant of what is at stake.
- Wulf: Rigmor, you will have to make expensive trips to The Imperial City and shop for hours. You can’t just turn up at these events without wearing the latest fashion!
- Rigmor: Oh well, I suppose that is a sacrifice I will have to bear.
- Wulf: As Countess, you might have to visit Skyrim for trade negotiations. I am sure Skyrim nobles will invite you to social events.
- Rigmor: Hjalti, I will demand privacy from those around me as is my right as a young woman and as Countess. I don’t think there will be a problem with me living a life outside the castle walls.
- Talos: There shouldn’t be. However, the nobility in Cyrodiil is a bit old fashioned in many respects. So as long as you are discreet and do not give the gossipers scandals, your advisors and mother should leave you be.
- Rigmor: I worry that even a few weeks apart will prove a burden, and we will both miss our talks and what Wulf calls ‘Our Quiet’.
- Talos: That is why I have made you this.
Father placed an Amulet of Talos on the table. Then he waved his hand over the one I was wearing.
Father said, “Please, Rigmor, wear the amulet.”
I handed Rigmor the amulet. When she put it on, we were able to speak telepathically.
I telepathically said, “It is bad enough having a horse and dog speak this way. Now you!”
“This is so cool! From how far away can we talk, Hjalti?”
“I don’t think Father can hear us. Not unless I invite him into the conversation.”
“Well then, go ahead!”
- Wulf: Father, can you hear and talk to Rigmor?
- Talos: Hello, Rigmor. I can see you staring at my mouth. It can be disconcerting to hear somebody talking when their mouth is shut.
- Rigmor: This is so cool! How far apart can we use the amulets to talk?
- Talos: There is no limit as long as you are both in Mundus, the mortal plane. They cannot work across different planes.
- Rigmor: Oh, so if I was in Bruma and Wulf was in this room, they wouldn’t work.
- Talos: That’s correct.
Father waved his hand over my amulet. The telepathy no longer worked.
- Talos: I will reenable the amulets in a few weeks. The Nine know talking cannot replace what you call Our Quiet, but it is far better than silence.
- Rigmor: Yes, it is a wonderful gift, Hjalti.
- Wulf: Father, has His Imperial Highness announced Rigmor’s bloodline?
- Talos: No, he has had her bloodline verified but kept secret. The Elder Council are the ones who might probe further, but they will find all records sealed. He knows even a distant blood connection to him and Emperor Titus Mede the First would complicate things for Rigmor. Handing the Bruma titles over as compensation for what was done to Rigmor’s family is all the reason he needs to give to keep the political intrigue to a minimum.
- Wulf: Father, we had better head back before I start asking questions you won’t answer.
- Talos: Rigmor, Wulf knows the rules but asks anyway.
- Rigmor: Stubborn?
- Talos: Unbelievably stubborn!
I stood, and so did Father. I hugged him, and then we were teleported back to Sethri’s farm.
We immediately set off for the border.
We came to a spot overlooking a river with a bridge in the distance.
“Rigmor, we can take the long boring route or the tricky shortcut.”
“I vote the tricky shortcut.”
Hashire and I quickly made it to the river bank. Ren and Rigmor were still at the top, trying to figure out a way down without breaking bones.
Hashire said, “Ren will figure it out. If he turns a little to his right, there is a steep but easy path down.”
That is what Ren did, and we were soon travelling along a road.
We passed a Stormcloak patrol. None of the soldiers greeted me, so they mustn’t have been at Whiterun.
We also passed some Vigilants of Stendarr looking for harmless citizens to scare.
We came to an intersection, and I laughed.
Rigmor asked, “What is so amusing, my Guardian?”
“When we rode from Angi’s to Sethri’s, two bears were at this intersection. They refused to budge, so everybody had to ride around them. Sorella was not scared and wanted to pat them. Sigunn and Angi were terrified.”
“I didn’t see that coming. Angi and Yngol I mean.”
“Talk about a lightning romance!”
“When you meet the right person, it doesn’t take long to realise.”
“I know, but I am getting tired of looking for her.”
“Hahaha. It won’t be hard for me to play the jilted lover. By the end of the week. Mum will be cursing your name!”
“I think it is okay for Sigunn to know what is happening. After all, she would have to look after Bruma when you are not there. Unfortunately, Cerys, Malesam, can’t know the truth.”
“I will keep an eye on how much control Malesam asserts over Cerys. If I think she can be confided in, it might make things easier for me.”
Later I said, “We turn left not far ahead.”
“You have my permission to get us lost, Wulf.”
“It won’t be easier if we delay it.”
“I know. I promise not to cry if you don’t.”
“Then we shall spend a good amount of time blubbering, my dear Rigmor.”
We turned left onto the old trade route.
We stopped for a few seconds while I removed my helm.
Rigmor laughed and said, “Yeah, I don’t think we will bump into many people. What a desolate place! It is just like half of Bruma.”
Further on, Rigmor said, “Hey, wait till you see our old house in Bruma. I think we will still keep it even if living in a draughty old castle. That can be my private place where I can entertain my string of suitors.”
“There is no reason I can’t visit in disguise each time. You can get the same reputation as Haelga in Riften!”
“Can you make it look like more than one male is entering?”
“I certainly can. And remember, even without this armour, I can make myself look like any bipedal species.”
“Mum would probably give me a lecture. I don’t know if I could keep a straight face if she did.”
“That is no way for a lady to behave! I wonder if I am still banned?”
“Hahaha! I can’t wait until you are living with us. I am going to show you the Imperial City! We can go hunting together in the Great Forest. You are so going to love it in Cyrodiil.”
A few seconds later, “DOVAHKIIN!” echoed around the mountains.
Rigmor asked, “Wulf, why have The Greybeards summoned you?”
“I have no idea. I will get to the old farts soon enough. They can sit and suck their beards while waiting for me.”
We rode through the old border checkpoint gates and then dismounted.
Rigmor found a stump to sit on, ignoring the comfortable chair next to it.
I looked at The Imperial City.
Then I sat and stared at my beloved.
Rigmor asked, “I am terrified, Wulf. How can I be a Countess?”
“By being yourself. You will have advisors.”
“Advisors who probably know a great deal about things and ignore what I say.”
“You listen to your advisors, make up your mind and tell them that is the way it shall be. You are Countess, and they are not. I think Sigunn will be a great help. If she looked after unruly schoolchildren, the nobles of Cyrodiil should be a pushover.”
“Hahaha! Mum won’t be scared to give them a tongue lashing!”
“Learning the economics of Bruma will be a challenge. That is what everything will pivot around. You might want to do something to benefit your citizens but find the funds are not there.”
“My citizens? I like the sound of that but am also anxious. I could stuff up a lot of people’s lives if not careful.”
“Listen to the people. They will soon let you know if they disagree with a policy.”
“I am overthinking it, aren’t I?”
“Enter Bruma with confidence and adapt to the circumstances. That is how we handle life without going insane.”
“You are scared. You are trying to sound calm, but I know you too well to be fooled, my silly Dragonborn.”
“Yes, I, too, am terrified. No matter what, I will always be your Guardian. If you were simply going home, I would still worry. But you are walking into the cesspool of Cyrodiil politics. They are brutal and will have no sympathy or mercy for one new at the game. Use your advisors but be confident with your decisions! The other players will be like a ravenous pack of wolves and smell easy prey. I want you to rip the throats out of those who get in your way. Only then will they respect Rigmor Ragnarsdottier. Only then will you be able to have friends amongst them.”
“I don’t want to be like them!”
“You just have to convince others that you are like them. The people of Bruma need you to represent their best interests when playing that rancid game. Others will try and move in on your trade deals and other things that could adversely affect your people.”
“I did not think we would be discussing politics on the border.”
“I am sorry. Perhaps I am trying to delay the goodbye.”
“We just don’t know, do we. We are saying goodbye without knowing when we can say hello once more.”
“It won’t be long, Rigmor. All I have to do is defeat Alduin. Easy!”
Rigmor stood and said, “I will be forever yours. You know that, and never fear it will change. Walk me over to Ren. It is time for the new Countess to make an appearance.”
We were halfway to the horses when Rigmor stood and stared at the border to Cyrodiil.
My beloved started to cry. I grabbed Rigmor, lifted her and we cried together.
We briefly kissed then I put Rigmor down.
Rigmor gently wiped away my tears.
Then she quickly walked to Ren.
Rigmor mounted Ren and rode past.
Soon Our Quiet no longer enveloped me, and the calm I had felt dissipated. My imagination took over, and I started to think of scenarios where Rigmor would need me, and I wouldn’t be there.
Hashire reached out, “Wulf, she will be okay.”
“No, Hashire, Rigmor will be more than okay. She will be magnificent, and her people will come to love her.”
Rigmor stopped and then turned Ren so she could face me.
She yelled, “I love you, my silly, beautiful Dragon…oops. I love you, my silly, beautiful, slightly weird and perverted Guardian!”
I used my Thu’um and replied, “ALBATROSS!”
Rigmor’s laughter reached my ears, and I fought the impulse to run after her.
Rigmor rode through the boundary gates and out of view.
I stood staring and not moving for ten minutes.
Finally, Hashire said, “You had better see what The Greybeards want. Who knows, Alduin might have tripped over his tail and broke his neck.”
“I will teleport there, Hashire. Why don’t you go find some wild fillies?”
I teleported directly into High Hrothgar.
Arngeir came over when he saw me.
“Dragonborn, it is good you have answered our summons so quickly. The sooner you remove her, the less chance of an incident.”
“Silah, the first Jill to visit Nirn in thousands of years. She is attracting the attention of a few males. I fear violence is imminent.”
“How am I supposed to remove a dragon that doesn’t want to go?”
“Oh, forgive me. In my haste, I forgot to mention. Silah was sent here by Lord Akatosh to assist you.”
“Then I shall introduce myself. Where is Silah?”
“In the courtyard.”
“Blessings of The Nine, Arngeir.”
“Sky Above. Voice within, Dragonborn.”
I made my way to the courtyard.
I was expecting a dragon to greet me. Instead, a ghostly Nord Swordmaiden approached.
“I can speak many languages, Dovahkiin, and can communicate telepathically. What do you prefer?”
“Ahh, your accent is unique and makes Tamrielic more interesting. So, let’s stick to that.”
“Oh, fiddlesticks! I was hoping you would choose Ayleidoon!”
“Why would I want to bite my tongue, spit and ruin my throat by speaking Ayleidoon?”
“Because you feel sorry for Silah and will speak in her favourite language, so she is happy once more.”
“Your mother never mentioned your lack of manners!”
“Manners? What is that strange thing of which you speak?”
“Lord Akatosh said I was chosen because I am so smart. I think he just wanted some quiet.”
“Silah, can you please show me your dragon form?”
“You didn’t even compliment my armour!”
“Ahh, that’s because there is not much of it to compliment.”
“Pah, just like the bulls flying around here. Nothing but sex on your mind. To aid with your lust control, I shall change. Prepare to be flabbergasted!”
“Do I have to remain clothed for that?”
Silah moved away from the steps and changed into a magnificent dragon.
I exclaimed, “Silah, my flabber has never been so gasted!”
“I am bigger and faster than bulls. My colour is unique.”
“Silah, you are truly magnificent!”
“I have succeeded in my first task!”
“To stop you from feeling so miserable about Rigmor.”
“I was in danger of much moping, self-pity and misplaced worry.”
“And now all you can think about is how awesome it would be to mount Silah!”
“You are mistaking me for the bulls.”
“That was humour or an attempt thereof. Let me search my thousands of years of accumulated knowledge. Nope, sorry, but I can’t think of a single individual who would find that remark humorous.”
“You are as bad as Hashire!”
“And where is my favourite unicorn? Not that I know many unicorns, so he doesn’t have much competition for that title. Unicorns generally run away under the impression I am looking for dinner. I did that once, and it was not a pleasant meal!”
“You ate a unicorn?”
“Yes, and I didn’t even fart rainbows after. Very disappointing.”
“So, my fibbing Dovah, what help can you provide this poor, bipedal mortal.”
“I am your liaison between Mundus and Aetherius. If The Divines need to tell you something, they will tell me, and I shall, in turn, tell you.”
“But not in Ayleidoon.”
“No, not in Ayleidoon. Bastard!”
“Ahh, thanks. What else can you do to aid me?”
“Oh, me being a personal herald of The Nine is not enough?”
“Hmph! Well, I could accompany you into dim, dark dungeons and crypts. I know many shouts and am not too shabby with a sword.”
“I can fly overhead and act as a scout as you travel. I can see trouble from miles away!”
“That is useful.”
“I am so happy I have justified my existence to you, Dovahkiin. But there is more, for I can also assist you in battle by turning enemies into glowing piles of ash with The Voice.”
“That is also useful.”
“I am, not boasting, one of the most knowledgeable beings you will ever meet. Ask me anything, and I am almost guaranteed to know the answer.”
“Why are boogers green and belly button fluff grey or light blue?”
“That is your answer?”
“Who are the bulls flying around the summit?”
“Some of Alduin’s recruits. They are discussing The Way of The Voice with Paarthurnax. He should tell them that fighting you, and especially now I am assisting, will lead to their soul’s destruction. You may find the ancient one turns some from enemy to ally.”
“I am finding my melancholy a formidable opponent. You mentioned mounting?”
“Yes, Dovahkiin. Climb aboard and enjoy the freedom of the air with me.”
“I am curious. I know we could teleport, but I would like to see how fast you can fly.”
“Ahh, then link minds and let me know our destination.”
I linked with Silah, and her mind was ordered, structured, and enormous. I showed her where Blacklight Tower is located and then clambered onto her neck.
She said telepathically, “You will find it difficult to verbalise whilst we fly. We must practice this mind connection. In a short amount of time, I will know precisely where you want me to go and what to do. We will be a team, you and I.”
“Okay, I am seated and ready, Silah.”
“Are you? Let’s see!”
Silah leapt into the air, and with several mighty beats of her wings, we were hundreds of feet above High Hrothgar.
Then Silah dived toward the ground.
She laughed as she barely missed smashing into the mountain and swept upwards, feet away from solid rock.
Silah flew at an incredible speed, and we reached Blacklight Tower in less than thirty minutes.
She said, “You have been silent, Dovahkiin.”
“Only because I do not have the vocabulary to tell you how admirable, amazing, astonishing, awesome, brilliant, enjoyable, excellent, fabulous, fantastic, incredible, magnificent, marvellous and outstanding that was!”
“Well, that was a good start. Think on it and throw more adjectives at me later.”
“In your mortal form, do you wish to live with my friends and me?”
“I will reside in your Aetherius Room to make it easier for The Divines to speak to me.”
“I thank you for distracting me, Silah.”
“If you want more distracting, Dirlokro has started terrorising mortals around Northwind Point. He has already killed the ebony miners of Northwind Mine. He may even target Riften if not stopped.”
“Dirlokro means die, deceive, sorcerer. What kind of dragon is he?”
“A mighty Legendary Elder and far stronger than any dragon you have yet tackled.”
“He is the first I have heard attacking mortals for many weeks.”
“Alduin is starting to ramp up his war. Soon, dragon numbers will be such that mortals will fear the open roads and small villages. He waited for you to deal with The New Order and probably hoped you would perish. Since you haven’t, he has no choice but to keep you busy with pests like Dirlokro.”
“Combined, you think we can defeat him?”
“Yes, Dovahkiin. It will be good practice.”
“Well then, let’s go eliminate a pest.”
“It has been thousands of years since I have fought. I am sure I will remember what to do. Maybe.”
“Anything I should know?”
“We are not yet cohesive enough for you to fight from my back. Therefore, I will come in fast and low, and you must leap off. Do it right, and a perfect barrel roll onto your feet will result. Do it wrong, and faceplant time!”
“I will not give you the pleasure of a faceplant.”
“We shall see.”
Silah sped towards Northwind Point.
When the destroyed mining camp came into view, Silah challenged Dirlokro. He replied with derogatory remarks about her gender, which enraged Silah. She hit him with Fire Breath. That staggered him enough for her to do a low-level swoop.
I leapt off and did an excellent barrel roll onto my feet. I used the Thu’um and said, “TADA!”
Dirlokro landed on top of a Word Wall and snarled, “Two on one, Dovahkiin. I thought you would fight fairly.”
“I am a Dovah. I don’t know what fair fighting is.”
“Well spoken. Now you shall die.”
“Why did you have to spoil the fun by sounding like every other moron I have killed?”
Dirlokro Shouted Ice Form. It was not powerful enough to encase me.
When he took off, I hit him with Lightning.
His aerial manoeuvres and speed were no match for Silah’s.
Twenty minutes into the fight, Dirlokro was injured but still formidable. Every other dragon I have fought would have succumbed before now.
My Lightning spells and Unrelenting Force Shouts were damaging Dirlokro, but he screamed in pain the first time I used Fire Breath Shout.
Silah said, “Your Thu’um is impressive, Dovahkiin. Dirlokro will soon be silenced.”
Less than five minutes later, Dirlokro crashed to the ground. I ran to him and finished him with several quick strokes of my katana.
I stood and absorbed Dirlokro’s soul. It is a burden I will carry without complaint as I have accepted who and what I am.
I approached the Word Wall. It tried to teach me Laas, the first Word of the Show Aura Shout. Of course, I already knew the Word and Shout.
The Word Wall read,
“On this sacred ground did Freda sacrifice her life so that her many children might escape and someday vanquish her enemies.”
I have no idea who Freda is or the outcome of her sacrifice.
“Move, Dovahkiin, so that I may land.”
I stepped back from the Word Wall. First, Silah picked up the remains of Dirlokro and dropped them over the side so they would slide down the mountain and lay next to a road. People would soon know he was killed.
Silah landed, and I could see no injuries.
I commented, “You look unscathed, Silah.”
“Yes, when Dirlokro realised his Thu’um was not strong enough, he resorted to teeth and claws. I was faster and more manoeuvrable. We defeated a powerful foe without injury to either of us.”
“Dirlokro could not deal much damage, but he was tough to bring down.”
“You will find many similar Dov. They would fly low over masses of mortals during The Dragon War and be almost invulnerable as they slaughtered great numbers. They will find you daunting, Dovahkiin, and die hovering and swooping as they use their ancient and ineffective tactics.”
“Are you faster and more manoeuvrable than many bulls?”
“All of them, including Odahviing, Paarthurnax and Alduin. All Jills can outfly the bulls.”
“I have never heard of male dragons being called bulls.”
“It is an unofficial name used by Jills. We are all Dov, dragonkind, but Jills differ in many ways. We can mate but never produce offspring. Mortals mate without intent to breed for pleasure. So do Dov, but male dragons think of it as conquering the Jills because of their great ego and their reverence for conflict. We like the sport, so we play their games of conquest. A male must demonstrate exceptional flying skills to earn the right to mate. They will never outfly a Jill, but we will allow them their prize if we judge a male’s efforts sufficient. It is a rare prize. Therefore my presence on Nirn may cause conflict amongst the males as they bicker over who should attempt a mating flight.”
“Jills use free will to choose with whom they mate. These aerial dances are not the determining factor. If a dragon outflies rivals but does not appeal to the Jill, she will find fault and not give him the prize he seeks.”
“I was warned of your uncanny intuition and perception. What you say is true, but a male dragon would find it difficult to understand and accept judgement based on beauty and personality. I doubt Alduin has ever used his hemipenes.”
“Male dragons have two penises?”
“With spikes on them.”
“Then I am glad Lord Akatosh only gave me Dragonblood and a Dragonsoul!”
“So is Rigmor, I am sure.”
“Excuse me, Silah, but what would you know about Rigmor’s relationship with me, including if we have been intimate or not?”
“Keeping the threads of time from unravelling and fixing Dragon Breaks is not the most stimulating pastime. Think of Jills as a group of ladies in a sewing circle. We discuss interesting events we see in the threads of time. So, Jills gossip. Recently, you and Rigmor have been a favourite topic.”
“You discuss Rigmor and me as some cosmic romance story?”
“Of course. Rigmor enjoys romance stories, does she not? Why shouldn’t Jills?”
“You are supposed to concentrate and prevent Dragon Breaks.”
“Well, we have stopped most of them from occurring.”
“You know my mother?”
“Yes. We often sit and have long tinvaak. And before you ask me, I shall not tell you where Saint Alessia is or why she is there. I have strict rules imposed by Lord Akatosh, and I will not disappoint him.”
“From what you have been told about me, would I ask you to?”
“No, and I apologise.”
“I am going to my Aetherius Room to change into my normal armour. Then I will head for the Safe House and talk to a few people there and in Solitude so I can make plans.”
“I will fly free if you don’t need me. I have longed to see Nirn once more.”
“As you will, Silah. I will never regard you as a subordinate.”
“No, but hopefully, you will come to think of me as a friend.”
“Yes, but Mother would think of you as my babysitter. My nanny!”
“Your perception will get you in trouble and sent to bed early, young Wulf.”
“It truly had been a pleasure to meet you, Silah.”
“I know. I have that effect on mortals and gods alike.”
“And you accuse male dragons of being egotistic!”
“More like delusional. My beauty and boundless wit are obvious to all beings.”
“Rigmor will adore you.”
“Undoubtedly. You can be our favourite topic of conversation, and I am sure Rigmor will have juicy gossip from the courts of Cyrodiil.”
I laughed, then willed my way into my Aetherius Room.
I changed into my armour and said goodbye to my Guardian General persona. I am The Dragonborn, and soon all will know of my existence.
I teleported to the Safe House. Vayu was sitting and attacking a bowl of grapes.
“Vayu, the dragons are starting to attack mortals.”
“Then The Second Dragon War has begun. So, what do we do next?”
“I don’t know. For now, I will gather some information.”
“Are you okay, Wulf? Do you want to speak about Rigmor?”
“Not at the moment, Vayu. But you were separated from Celestine and will become my support when I get all sentimental and melancholy.”
“Don’t cry into my shoulder. It’s not that I won’t sympathise. It’s just that uncontrolled sobbing inevitably comes with copious snot.”
For hours I talked to my many friends in the Safe House. I did not attempt to sleep, for I knew I could not.
I knew Rigmor would be facing the same problem.