Loredas, 20th Hearthfire, 4E 201
I unpacked the Dragonguard armour and spent a few hours cleaning and repairing it. I honed our weapons, restrung our bows and greased our crossbows.
Jin came over and said, “Good luck getting Taku into his armour. He has been a sullen smartarse and is lucky Vayu hasn’t punched him into next week.”
“A few weeks ago, Taku complained to me about not being able to go outside. Well, if he wears his armour, he can. No stranger gives a stuff about the scars on his wrist and ankles. Sometimes he thinks he is the only one who ever felt The Thalmor’s particular form of justice.”
“Perhaps he should have sat down with Rigmor and compared notes and scars. That might have been a valuable lesson.”
“I’ll talk with him.”
I walked towards Taku. Seiko, the most patient of people, was close to raising her voice, so exasperating was Taku!
- Seiko: Taku, The Dragonborn and The Grandmaster have ordered you to wear your armour.
- Taku: Yeah, so what? Maybe I will just go back to Riften. Maybe I will join The Thieves Guild.
- Wulf: Taku, The Second Dragon War has begun. If you disobey me, I will lock you in the brig.
- Taku: We don’t have one!
- Wulf: I am sure Jarl Elisif will lend me the darkest, dingiest cell she has.
- Lydia: What is the penalty for desertion?
- Wulf: Taku is a sworn member of The Blades and is therefore subject to the laws of The Imperial Legion. He also swore an oath as Dragonguard. Summary execution is the penalty for desertion.
- Taku: You wouldn’t!
- Wulf: Wouldn’t I? You know things that endanger me, your friends, Rigmor and The Empire. I would cut you down, Taku, and you know that.
- Taku: I want to contribute, yet everybody else had a chance to be a guard at Angi’s and Sethri’s while I sat here bored shitless!
- Wulf: Those people needed guards who would not make them feel like a burden and of little importance. You use your incarceration and poor treatment as an excuse for being a whiny little arsehole.
- Taku: Promise me you will take me with you, and I will wear the damn armour!
- Wulf: There is no bargain to be made, Taku. Fulfil your oath by obeying me. Now, if you don’t mind, I have things to do.
I looked for and found Shouken.
“Wulf, you have a sour look and clenched fists. They are sure signs of Taku disease.”
“You have some influence on Taku. See if you can get him to put aside his self-pity and anger.”
“It has been ages since I got to whack him on the back of the head!”
“Well, have fun. Try not to kill him!”
I gathered Celestine and went looking for Auryen in The Dragonborn Gallery.
- Auryen: So, The Dragonborn finds time to visit his gallery. How marvellous!
- Wulf: Sorry, Auryen, but saving everybody’s arses, including yours, can make one busy.
- Auryen: Well, the important thing is you kept the relics rolling in.
- Celestine: Relics are more important than stopping Alduin?
- Auryen: No, but this museum is becoming a place of comfort for many in troubling times. Since we named it Dragonborn Gallery…
- Wulf: You named it Dragonborn Gallery.
- Auryen: Since I named it Dragonborn Gallery, people regard any growth in the collection as evidence of positive action. It appeases their fears somewhat if they think The Dragonborn is out there somewhere fighting for them.
- Wulf: You are not to make a display about The Guardian General that says he is The Dragonborn. He is to be some mysterious figure whose origins and current location are unknown.
- Auryen: We agreed that only truth would be told within these walls.
- Wulf: Word the information plaques however you want, but the display will not state or even hint that the two people are the one individual. You would not be lying, Auryen, just leaving out some facts that may be added later.
- Celestine: We agreed on that from the beginning. For many reasons, some of Wulf’s actions must remain secret until later.
- Auryen: Yes, we did. And I am not to ask too many questions.
- Wulf: Being The Dragonborn has already attracted assassins. Other tasks I undertake, even upon completion, may attract assassins. So, until I deem it safe, the information in this museum on any relic will be controlled by me, as per our original agreement.
- Auryen: I am sorry you have had to reiterate that. I understand and agree, as I always have.
- Wulf: Did you find any information on how Tongues ‘shouted Alduin out of this world’?
- Auryen: No, and none of my myriad contacts can find anything. I suggest you ask Paarthurnax. But unless he witnessed it, he might not know.
- Wulf: I might ask Silah. However, it may be something she is not allowed to tell me.
- Auryen: Silah?
- Wulf: A Jill who Lord Akatosh has sent to aid me. However, there are many things she might know that I have to discover and won’t tell me.
- Auryen: The concept that what you learn from the trail leading to the discovery is just as important as the discovery?
- Wulf: That’s the one.
Auryen quickly flipped through the pages of the book he was carrying. Celestine wandered away to look at one of the new exhibits.
- Auryen: As for Miraak. This book is called ‘The Guardian and The Traitor’. It is the only written resource on Miraak and what happened to him that I could locate. He was a Dragon Priest and Dragonborn who rebelled against his masters before the Dragon War. Miraak was defeated by another Dragon Priest but rescued by Hermaeus Mora before the death blow could be dealt. Vayu told me that Miraak, or somebody claiming to be him, has appeared four and a half thousand years later.
- Wulf: Yes, and he has assassins combing Tamriel for me. The last ones I met outside Riften had a Seeker with them.
- Auryen: One of Hermaeus Mora’s librarians?
- Wulf: Yes
- Auryen: Well, take this book. A scholar, Tharstan, recently published a different book called ‘Children of the All-Maker’. He has been living with and studying The Skaal, the native Nords of Solstheim. The Skaal oral history has been unbroken since the Merethic Era. The Skaal, and Tharstan, would be excellent sources of information concerning Miraak. I purchased two copies of Tharstan’s book, and they should be delivered soon. I will send a copy to the Safe House.
I took the book and quickly read it. Here is the relevant passage.
“THE GUARDIAN AND THE TRAITOR by Lucius Gallas
One of the more intriguing legends found on the island of Solstheim is the story of a mythical figure whose name is long forgotten but whom time remembers as ‘The Traitor.’
Certain that this myth is rooted in history, I set out to learn what I could and perhaps piece together a presumptive account of the events that gave rise to the legend.
The tale is remembered best by the shamans of the Skaal, that unique tribe of Nords whose culture evolved along an entirely divergent path than that of their brethren in Skyrim.
I spoke at length to the shaman of Skaal Village, a wise and hospitable man named Breigr Winter-Moon. He described an age long ago when dragons ruled over the world and were worshipped as gods by men. Presiding over this cult of dragon-worshippers were the Dragon Priests, powerful mages who could speak the dragon language and call upon the power of The Thu’um, or The Voice.
According to the legend, one such Dragon Priest was seduced by a dark spirit named Herma-Mora, an unmistakable analogue for the Daedric prince Hermaeus Mora. Lured by promises of power, this treacherous priest secretly plotted against his dragon master.
The Traitor’s plot was discovered by one of his contemporaries, another Dragon Priest who legend named The Guardian. The two fought a mighty battle that lasted for days, each hurling terrible arcane energies and Thu’um Shouts at the other.
So great and terrible were the forces unleashed in this contest that Solstheim was torn apart from the mainland of Skyrim. Here, the myth clearly descends into the realm of pure fantasy.
The Guardian, whom the legend presents as a paragon of loyalty and nobility, finally defeats the despicable Traitor, who seems to represent all that is corrupt and evil in men. Their epic duel is clearly representative of a greater struggle between good and evil. Perhaps this timeless quality has kept the tale alive for so long.
Unlike many similar myths, the tale of the Guardian and the Traitor does not feature a suitably heroic ending. Herma-Mora snatches The Traitor away just as The Guardian is about to strike the killing blow.
The dragons appoint The Guardian ruler of Solstheim, but not before he is compelled to swear an oath of vigilance to watch for the Traitor’s return. His reign is, by all accounts, a time of peace and prosperity for the people of the island, and he is remembered as a wise and just leader.
No further mention is made of The Traitor, but neither is he thought to be dead. The legend ends on a cautionary note that the people of Solstheim, the heirs of The Guardian, must remain wary lest the dark influence of Herma-Mora, or even The Traitor himself, return someday.
Although no physical clues exist now on Solstheim to suggest the presence of the dragon cult, is it hardly difficult to believe that it might once have flourished here. Perhaps some hidden tomb still waits to be discovered that will tell the truth of the tale.
There are other tantalising clues, though perhaps these connections strain the bounds of credibility. For example, is it possible that the Skaal deity, The All-Maker, is some distant echo of mighty Alduin, The World-Eater of the ancient Nord pantheon?
Perhaps not, but one thing is certain: Solstheim’s history is riddled with unanswered questions. Perhaps future generations will pull aside the veils of mystery and reveal the truth about the origins of The Skaal and the identities of The Guardian and The Traitor.”
I handed the book to the returned Celestine, who read it almost as fast as I had. She then handed it back.
- Celestine: We need eyes and ears to visit Solstheim.
- Wulf: Yes, we shall discuss it with the others and pick a team.
- Auryen: On a lighter note, we have set up a display for fossils. It is not an area of my expertise, but Darnette Lauven is undoubtedly a leading authority. I think it will be a popular part of the museum.
- Wulf: I am looking forward to participating in some digs with The Explorers Guild and searching for fossils with Dar. But alas, the dragons are starting to terrorise Skyrim. I have to go now and start figuring out what to do about them.
Celestine and I made our way out of Dragonborn Gallery and walked to The Blue Palace.
We entered The Blue Palace, and it seemed almost deserted.
That is until we approached the throne. There was a queue of people waiting to speak to Jarl Elisif.
The Jarl had just dismissed a surly-looking Justiciar. We pushed our way through and stood to the side, near Falk Firebeard.
We listened in on a conversation with a man called Varnius.
- Varnius: I swear to you, unnatural magics are coming from that cave! There are strange noises and lights! We need someone to investigate!
- Elisif: We will immediately send a legion to scour the cave and secure the town. Haafingar’s people will always be safe under my rule.
- Varnius: Th… thank you, my Jarl, thank you.
- Sybille: Your eminence, my scrying has suggested nothing in the area. Dragon Bridge is under Imperial control. This is likely superstitious nonsense.
- Falk: Perhaps a more… tempered reaction… might be called for?
- Elisif: Oh. Yes, of course, you are right. Falk, tell Captain Aldis I said to assign a few extra soldiers to Dragon Bridge.
- Varnius: Thank you, Jarl Elisif. But about the cave…
- Falk: I will have someone take care of the cave as well, Varnius. You can rest easy. You’re dismissed.
As Varnius was leaving, Jarl Elisif gestured for Celestine and me to approach.
- Elisif: So, Wulf, you are not simply a well to do citizen who wanted to open a museum.
- Wulf: My apologies, Jarl Elisif. Secrecy was required and still is concerning my involvement in the defeat of The New Order.
- Elisif: I see. Perhaps we can discuss this necessity in my chambers after today’s court has finished.
- Wulf: Certainly, my Jarl.
- Elisif: Also, there is something… personal… I was hoping you would do for me.
- Wulf: And what may that be?
- Elisif: It concerns a subject I have been concerned with very deeply. I’m afraid I cannot talk much further about the matter here… in people’s presence.
- Wulf: Then we shall discuss it when we meet in your chambers.
- Elisif: Celestine, are you full of secrets as well?
- Celestine: I am afraid so. The Justiciar over there is eyeing Wulf with suspicion, so perhaps one secret is out?
- Elisif: That arrogant bastard, Justiciar Thilinaine, came storming in, pushed in front of the queue, and demanded to know why I was harbouring outlaw Blades in my city.
- Celestine: With the arrival of dragons comes those who can help combat them.
- Elisif: I told Justiciar Thilinaine that I have no idea of what he is talking about, and he could provide no proof of his accusation. He is new to the embassy, and I told him that I would have him thrown out of the palace if he failed to show respect and follow protocol in the future.
- Wulf: The people that Thilinaine is suspicious of were instrumental in the defeat of The New Order.
- Elisif: We shall also discuss this situation later.
- Wulf: Yes, of course, my Jarl.
- Elisif: Did you hear Varnius Junius’ concern about Wolfskull Cave?
- Wulf: If a local says something has changed in a place that he is familiar with, it should not be dismissed. Today, I am gathering information and contemplating how to best tackle the dragons. I can think and walk simultaneously. I know where the cave is and will check it out for you.
- Elisif: That would ease my mind. Please inform Falk of your plan to do so.
- Wulf: Yes, my Jarl. If there is nothing else, we will take our leave.
Celestine and I did a quick bow and moved to Falk as Elisif had a deep discussion with some of her other advisors.
- Falk: Wulf and Celestine, it is good to see you again.
- Wulf: The feeling is mutual, Falk. We have volunteered to take a look at Wolfskull cave.
- Falk: I’ll be honest with you; I planned to let that go. The local who reported the problem, Varnius Junius, is a bit jumpy at the best of times.
- Wulf: What is the history of the cave?
- Falk: Potema, the Wolf Queen, used it for necromantic rituals long ago. That’s where it got its name. That was over five hundred years ago. There is nothing much down there now, but everyone’s convinced the cave is haunted.
- Wulf: As I said to Jarl Elisif, if a local says something has changed in a place that he is familiar with, it should not be dismissed.
- Falk: You likely have far more experience with these matters than I. Therefore, if you think it is worth investigating, who am I to argue?
- Wulf: I am about to tell you something few people know, Falk. I will discuss it with Jarl Elisif in her chambers later. I trust your discretion.
- Falk: If it’s about you being The Dragonborn, isn’t that common knowledge now?
- Wulf: Yes, but not many people know this. We are at the beginning of a new Dragon War. Alduin, The World Eater, is leading the dragons. He is building his dragon army, and once it gets large enough, even major cities will be in danger of ending up like Helgen.
- Falk: What can we do to protect our citizens?
- Wulf: I will talk to General Tullius and tell him how best to fight dragons that attack the cities. First, I have to assess the situation and the threat.
- Celestine: Falk, as you can appreciate, the ongoing civil war makes a coordinated defence unlikely. So even if Tullius takes our advice…
- Falk: Other cities might be vulnerable due to Ulfric ignoring common sense.
- Celestine: Yes, and I doubt we can negotiate another truce. We can’t give a timeline for the defeat of Alduin even if the civil war was once again halted.
- Falk: Grim times ahead, it seems.
- Wulf: Falk, I am finding myself in need of more accommodation. Is there any property available in Solitude?
- Falk: Yes, only this morning, Proudspire Manor, a deceased estate, came into our possession. I am afraid it is one of the most expensive houses in the city.
- Wulf: How much?
- Falk: Forty-two thousand septims.
- Wulf: How many beds?
- Falk: One bedroom has six adult beds. The main bedroom has a double bed. The housecarl’s room has a bed. There are unused rooms in the basement that could be turned into bedrooms.
- Wulf: Where is it situated?
- Falk: Next door to The Bard’s College. Not far from your museum.
- Wulf: Sold! For who should I make the money transfer?
- Falk: Ah… Jarl Elisif of Haafingar.
I opened my journal case, retrieved the writing equipment, wrote out the money transfer and handed it to Falk.
- Falk: Okay. It may take several days to get the deed written. Here is the key.
- Wulf: Not a problem.
- Falk: How rich are you, Wulf?
- Wulf: I am richer than some, poorer than others.
- Celestine: Wulf is very wealthy and always looking for charitable causes. Therefore, if you hear of any, let him know.
- Falk: A mage called Tierra needs funding for a new orphanage. It will be built in an unused section of The Temple of The Divines. Would that interest you?
- Wulf: Falk, I have told others I want to help the children of this world. So yes, that is the sort of thing I am keen to support. When I get a chance, I will discuss what is needed with Tierra.
- Falk: I had better pay attention to the discussion. Thane Erikur is ranting again.
- Wulf: I will let you know what we find at Wolfskull Cave.
The Blue Palace was bustling, as I am used to seeing it.
A man called out, “Hey, you, the queue jumper. Come here!”
I sighed and walked over to the pompous twit.
- Wulf: Good morning. I am Wulf, and the young-looking lady is Celestine. Who are you?
- Norgrof: Surely you recognise Norgrof Oak-Heart?
- Wulf: No
- Norgrof: Hmph! I’ve been waiting for weeks because of that clumsy oaf of an executioner. Anyway, I don’t appreciate you seeing the High Queen before me.
- Wulf: Jarl Elisif is not yet High Queen. And what is wrong with Akhtar’s work? From the single execution I witnessed, he does his duty well.
- Norgrof: Is that so? Maybe the sand-walker was finally sober because the execution I witnessed was a tribute to incompetence.
- Wulf: How so?
- Norgrof: It took two cuts to slice off the head. Due to the first cut being so poor, blood squirted all over a couple of Elven dignitaries standing upfront. One was a lady, and I offered her my handkerchief to wipe the blood away as is custom. However, she grabbed my cloak instead and wiped blood all over the fur.
- Wulf: Use animal fats, plant oils and void salts to remove the bloodstain. Any apothecary can provide the potion for you.
- Norgrof: So, you’re an alchemist, huh? It sounds like something you learn when you can’t afford to replace things with gold. In this case, though, such skills might prove useful if I was willing to entrust The Cloak of Oak-Heart to some plant coddling rube!
- Wulf: Oh my. Not The Cloak of Oak-Heart!
- Celestine: Gosh, that does sound important!
- Norgrof: For seven generations, this cloak has been in my family. Seven! Can you count to seven, peasant? I’d venture not, but it’s a long time.
- Wulf: Celestine, how many is seven?
- Celestine: Less than the number of rude nobles you beat the shit out of last week.
- Norgrof: Oh…anyway. One of my ancestors strangled a bear to death with his bare hands to get the fur on the cloak, and it has been passed down from father to son ever since.
- Wulf: It must have been a small bear.
- Celestine: It was probably asleep.
- Norgrof: And there we have common insults from lowborn commoners. I expect nothing less. Perhaps like most brutes, you mistake my fine clothes and austere manner for weakness. I am Nord. My ancestors were Nords. I have mastered the military arts as I have mastered the art of grace. Peasants who understand neither have no place in The Blue Palace. It’s no wonder I can’t get an audience with The High Queen. What, with all the commoners hoarding her time. Of course, it’s her fault for letting them in. Maybe I ought to pay the Jarl of Windhelm a visit. I hear he actually has standards.
- Wulf: So, Norgrof Oak-Heart, you have been sitting here for weeks because of a quickly removed blood stain on an ancient cloak. Why? Are you demanding compensation?
- Norgrof: Well, yes, of course.
I pulled out my gem bag and poured some gems into my hand. Norgrof’s eyes widened. I put them back into my gem bag.
- Wulf: Norgrof, I am one of the wealthiest people in The Empire. My noble status is so far above yours you wouldn’t believe it. Celestine is a princess of her people. I am The Dragonborn, and while you have been sitting on your fat arse whining about a cloak, I have been killing dragons and helping defeat The New Order as a soldier on the front ranks.
- Norgrof: Well…ah…
- Celestine: Norgrof, you are a pompous, racist twat. Look at the armour Wulf is wearing. His sword alone is worth over one hundred thousand septims! Calling Redguard sand-walkers is to lower oneself to the level of a knuckle-dragging Nord of low intelligence.
- Wulf: I could cut you into little pieces right now, and nobody would lift a finger to help you. If anybody asked, I would tell them you planned to join Ulfric Stormcloak’s rebellion, which is true.
- Celestine: Jarl Elisif is running a Hold in the middle of several crises, yet you think to waste her time! My advice to you, little man, is to leave quickly and don’t bother her with such trivial rubbish.
- Wulf: If I find you have sided with Ulfric, I will hunt you down, and you can test your mastery of military arts against me.
- Celestine: What kind of idiot calls us peasants?
- Wulf: The inbred kind, Celestine. I wouldn’t be surprised if Norgrof’s mother is his sister and his father his uncle.
Norgrof stood and hurriedly left the palace. We followed him outside.
He looked behind, squealed and ran as fast as possible while we chuckled.
He turned and entered Dragonborn Gallery. We continued towards
We entered Proudspire Manor and did a quick inspection.
When I opened a chest in the main bedroom, inside was Meridia’s Beacon.
Celestine asked, “What is that?”
“Meridia’s Beacon. She wants me to clear out a necromancer from her temple.”
“Rigmor said Meridia demanded you do it.”
“Well, she isn’t saying a word this time, and her temple is on the road to Wolfskull Cave.”
“So, we might as well clear out the necromancer. Otherwise, this thing will keep appearing in random places.”
Proudspire Manor had a large spa with minerals. Rigmor would love it.
After our quick inspection, Celestine commented, “This place can fit ten people in comfort.”
“And it is close to the Safe House and museum.”
“We gather a couple of others and head for Wolfskull Cave and Meridia’s Temple.”
We teleported into the Safe House. Daenlyn approached with the armoured clothing and weapons I had prepared for him.
- Wulf: You look fine in that outfit, Daenlyn.
- Celestine: It doesn’t even look like armour but provides excellent protection. And with Wulf’s usual Dweomer on those clothes, you are protected against most damage from fire, ice, etcetera.
- Daenlyn: Wulf, I would like to help with whatever you do.
- Wulf: Is that so? Well, have you ever visited Solstheim?
- Daenlyn: Many times. You could not get a more significant contrast. The dry, ash-covered wilderness of Solstheim compared to the dense rainforests of Valenwood. The Skaal are wonderful, and many of their beliefs echo the Green Pact. The Ashlanders are not overly friendly at first, but once they know you, they are kind-hearted people.
- Wulf: I would guess a Bosmer Bard found a more appreciative audience there than in Skyrim.
- Daenlyn: Yes, I played regularly in the taverns and inn across that land. There is no bias against Mer.
- Wulf: I need somebody to investigate what is happening there. You would not be going alone, but still, the danger may be significant. Assassins from that place have been hunting me in Skyrim. But they would not know your association with me.
- Daenlyn: Much information can be gathered when practising my profession. Bards are not used as spies on a whim.
- Celestine: Perhaps Daenlyn can stay safely within the drinking establishments whilst a Dragonguard or two does some investigating outside the towns and villages.
- Wulf: I will consider your offer of help, Daenlyn. I will let you know later if I think it is worth the risk.
- Daenlyn: I can help, Wulf. I hope you trust me with this duty.
We gathered Shouken and Kogo because they were the first two Dragonguard we saw. I asked Lydia to come along.
We made our way out of the front gates. I then summoned Silah.
“Dovahkiin, it is a nice day for a walk. Or do you wish to fly once more?”
“We are walking to Meridia’s Temple to clear out a necromancer and then Wolfskull Cave to check on unusual reported activity.”
“Let us talk as you walk. The people of Solitude are not used to a dragon flying overhead.”
“Can you talk telepathically to the group?”
“Some might find it strange, but we can try.”
I heard, “Who is that, Wulf?”
I turned to see a concerned Kogo.
- Wulf: Everybody, that is Silah. She is a Jill sent by Lord Akatosh to aid me in my tasks.
- Kogo: And you didn’t mention her to us?
- Celestine: Some of us knew, Kogo. It is Wulf, so you expect the unexpected.
- Wulf: We can’t have Silah’s conversations with us heard by all. Therefore, open your minds to Silah and the squad so we can speak telepathically.
- Lydia: How do I do that?
- Wulf: You will know. Everybody knows, even if they have never done it before.
A few seconds later, we were speaking telepathically as we walked.
- Lydia: This is strange.
- Silah: You did very well, Lydia. Many mortals have an innate fear that prevents opening their minds like this.
- Lydia: Rigmor told me early on to accept gobblygook, and my time with Wulf will be much easier. It won’t make more sense, but it will be easier.
- Silah: Wulf, I know Meridia did not ask you politely to clear her temple.
- Wulf: Everybody, Silah is a Jill. That means she can find out your past in detail if she desires. Because she has been given the task of aiding me, she has been spying on me. Don’t be concerned about your secrets being exposed or your privacy being abused.
- Lydia: A Jill?
- Celestine: A female dragon.
- Lydia: Oh. So other dragons are not as pretty?
- Silah: There are some magnificent looking male dragons, Lydia. And thank you for calling me pretty.
- Wulf: No, Silah, Meridia did not ask me politely. However, she is persistent, and I can’t continue to ignore a necromancer with enough power to corrupt her temple.
- Lydia: Rigmor told me about how you found Meridia’s round crystal thingy at Fort Black.
- Wulf: Meridia’s Beacon.
- Lydia: Rigmor said you hate Meridia and that she is not a friendly Dark Lord.
- Silah: The Divines, and Wulf, have no animosity towards the other Daedric Princes. They are as they were made at the beginning of the Kalpa and did not choose their roles. On the other hand, Meridia is an et-Ada that helped create Mundus and Nirn. In other words, she was an Aedra called Merid-Nunda. Like some other Aedra, she became a Magna Ge and had the freedom of Aetherius or Oblivion along with Magnus and his followers.
- Wulf: But that existence wasn’t good enough for Meridia. She consorted with the Dark Lords and was cast down. She took the title, ‘The Daedric Prince of Life and Lady of Infinite Energies.’
- Silah: Meridia created her realm in Oblivion called ‘Coloured Rooms’. She has a hatred for the undead, which has led to the mistaken belief that she likes mortals.
- Wulf: Meridia chose to be a Daedric Prince. She sided with and aided the Ayleid that opposed Saint Alessia’s Slave Rebellion. She resurrected Umaril the Unfeathered, who warred upon The Knights of The Nine and destroyed many temples of The Nine during The Oblivion Crises. She kidnaps mortals and turns them into Lustrants. You might call them enslaved people as she removed their free will, and now they mindlessly obey their mistress.
- Silah: The Nine, and Wulf, have many reasons to dislike Meridia.
- Wulf: She is a traitor and a charlatan.
- Lydia: We are cleansing her temple because the necromancer might be a danger to others?
- Wulf: Yes, that is the only reason. It is not because I want to do a favour for Meridia.
- Lydia: There is a lot to learn when accompanying you, Wulf.
- Shouken: The mages amongst The Dragonguard care for this stuff. We violent types just want to be told who to chop up.
- Lydia: I may be the exception to that rule, Shouken.
Just before we turned off the road that leads to Dragon Bridge, Silah warned us.
“It appears that Meridia’s Temple is infested with bandits. At least on the outside. She tried to talk to me. I told her to shove it in Ehlnofex. Some of the bandits are getting worried and shooting arrows my way. I think I will send them some new friends to play with!”
As we started to climb the stairs to Meridia’s Temple, she probed my mind.
I said out loud, “You know who I am and that you won’t get in.”
Meridia’s voice boomed, “Look at my temple, lying in ruins. So much for the constancy of mortals, their crafts and their hearts.”
“What is wrong, Lady Meridia. Have mortals learned not to believe your lies and no longer worship you?”
As expected, I received no reply.
Silah had summoned a Dremora Lord that started hacking away at one of the bandits.
We quickly disposed of the bandits who found themselves fighting formidable mortals, Draugr and a dragon.
There was a Word Wall near the temple. I approached, and it tried to teach me Su, which means air. It is the first Word of the Elemental Fury Shout.
- Wulf: The Word Wall says, ‘Het nok fjolmod bein-su wo pook ol pogaas nau gol ol ok kopraan dreh nu ko golt.’
- Kogo: Translation for us ignoramuses.
- Wulf: Here lies Fjolmod Foul-Air, who stank as much on earth as his body does now in the ground.
- Lydia: Somebody made a memorial to a Sethri?
- Kogo: Ahh, the infamous Sethri, farter extraordinaire!
Silah called out, “More enemies. Undead and a necromancer!”
We rushed to where Silah was roasting a few skeletons.
We soon disposed of the necromancer and his minions.
I said, “This is the entrance to Wolfskull Cave. It seems the reports of weird goings-on were correct. But let us tackle Meridia Temple first.”
We made our way back to the temple and climbed the steps. We stood before Meridia’s statue.
Meridia demanded, “Restore to me, my beacon, that I might guide you toward your destiny.”
“Lady Meridia, you have no way of guiding me towards my destiny. I will restore your beacon because I have chosen to do so, not because you have demanded I do so.”
I placed the beacon into its receptacle. It floated upwards on a light beam and hovered between the statue’s hands.
Meridia tried to penetrate my mind’s barriers once more.
I growled, “ENOUGH! If you try to probe my mind again, I will take your beacon and place it in Aetherius. I will then ask The Vigilants of Stendarr to pull apart your temple, brick by brick, and end the necromancer that way!”
“It is time for my splendour to return to Skyrim. But the token of my truth lies buried in the ruins of my once great temple. A temple now tainted by profane darkness skittering within.”
“The truth is you care not for the lives and wellbeing of mortals.”
“Malkoran, a necromancer, defiles my shrine with vile corruptions, trapping lost souls left in the wake of this war to do his bidding. Worse still, he uses the power stored within my token to fuel his foul deeds. I have brought you here, mortal, to be my champion. You will enter my temple, retrieve my artefact, and destroy the defiler. Guide my light through the temple to open the inner sanctum and destroy the defiler.”
“My mortal free will and legs brought me here, not you. And in the wake of which war? The one we just ended against The New Order or the civil war. Either one or both, it does not matter. For Malkoran is an enemy of Lord Arkay, and therefore my enemy.”
“But a single candle can banish the darkness of the entire Void. If not you, then someone else. My beacon is sure to attract a worthy soul.”
“Liar! You found no other either capable or willing. You need me, Lady Meridia if you are willing to admit so or not.”
“Malkoran has forced the doors shut. But this is my temple, and it responds to my decree. I will send down a ray of light. Guide this light through my temple, and its doors will open.”
“Open the entrance so we can get this over with.”
The Dragonguard started firing arrows at something.
Silah said, “Miraak’s assassins have arrived. Have fun!”
By the time I reached the first Goon, she was peppered with arrows.
I cut her head off and then looked for another.
I was finding that Silah’s minions were very good at locating enemies. I followed one that led me to another of Miraak’s Goons. I quickly ended their life.
Kogo came running.
- Kogo: What are you going to do about this Miraak person?
- Wulf: Silah, I know Miraak was a Dragon Priest and Dragonborn. I know that Vahlok, another Dragon Priest, defeated him in battle. However, Hermaeus Mora dragged Miraak into Apocrypha before he died. What more can you, or more likely, be allowed to tell me?
- Silah: Miraak refused to help Tongues defeat Alduin during the Dragon War. Instead, he used knowledge provided by Hermaeus Mora and rebelled against dragons, not to help mortals but for his selfish purposes. The dragons and Vahlok destroyed Miraak’s temple, but Miraak slew twenty-one dragons. Five Dragon Priests are buried on Solstheim. Three of those Dragon Priests, Ahzidal, Dukaan and Zahkriisos, joined Miraak in his rebellion and became his most powerful servants, called the ‘Acolyte Priests’.
- Wulf: Do you know what he is doing on Solstheim?
- Silah: No, for he is doing it from within Apocrypha, a realm of Oblivion, and therefore is hidden from The Nine. He has not done anything on the mortal plane as yet.
- Celestine: Apart from sending these assassins after Wulf.
- Silah: It appears Miraak has attracted a following.
- Celestine: Or they are mindless servants.
- Wulf: I don’t understand why Hermaeus Mora would interfere with Mundus and Nirn. It would be of no benefit to his obsession with knowledge accumulation.
- Silah: Agreed. But what if Miraak, who has been Hermaeus Mora’s guest for four and a half thousand years, has learned enough and become powerful enough to rebel against the Dark Lord. Perhaps he is once more pursuing his selfish interests.
- Wulf: A probability but still speculation. I think we need some people to visit Solstheim and report back what they find.
- Shouken: All this mind talking is giving me a headache. Can we tackle the temple now?
- Silah: Do you want me to accompany you inside the temple?
- Shouken: Ah, I don’t think you will fit through the door.
- Wulf: Silah can transform into a Swordmaiden.
- Shouken: Oh, of course, I should have guessed.
- Wulf: No, Silah. Please keep watch, so we are not ambushed when we exit.
- Silah: Okay.
I searched the headless Goon’s corpse. She had the same orders as others I have killed.
We entered Meridia’s Temple, which was, surprisingly, of Nord construction.
Not far inside, we found the first desiccated corpse. It was of an Imperial officer.
Shouken asked, “Did that Legionnaire just walk into here?”
“It seems so. This soldier’s Life Force was drained.”
Corpses of Stormcloak were abundant, as well as those of Legionnaires. We saw no civilian casualties.
Crystal spheres, like Meridia’s Beacon, were held in recesses. Touching a recess would make the sphere rise, and the light beam was then refracted towards another crystal sphere. Doors with unpickable locks would then open.
Although it looked impressive, it was pretty elemental magic and science. Ignorant primitives in the past may have been impressed by the display, but it left The Dragonguard and I underwhelmed.
The only type of undead we encountered were black Skeletal Warriors with glowing red eyes.
A single Unrelenting Force Shout was enough to turn them into puddles of ectoplasm.
Meridia’s Temple was boring structurally, and our path through it was tedious. We killed the black skeletons, touched a recess so a sphere would rise, and then went through whatever door or gate was opened.
At one stage, we exited into bright daylight.
I heard an ‘ahem’ behind me and turned to find a grumpy Kogo.
Kogo whined, “I was bored doing guard duty at the farm. But that was interesting compared to this!”
“Oh, I am sorry we are not battling hordes of deadly creatures where we struggle to survive.”
“As you should be!”
We walked along the outside walkway and entered the temple once more.
I turned to my friends and announced, “Oh goody! More of the same excitement.”
And so, we continued killing the black skeletons, touching recesses so spheres would rise, then went through whatever door or gate opened.
We finally came to the chamber where Malkoran was doing his thing. He concentrated so hard he didn’t notice the door behind him opened.
I shot the necromancer in the back.
Instead of doing the decent thing and dying, Malkoran turned into a Lich.
I shot the Lich and all the black skeletons. All undead sullying Meridia’s Temple had been eliminated.
Meridia’s voice boomed, “It is done! The defiler is defeated. Take Dawnbreaker from its pedestal.”
Many Stormcloak and Legionnaire bodies lay around the chamber.
I lifted Dawnbreaker from its pedestal.
I was not impressed with its Dweomer, balance or anything else about the weapon.
Meridia exalted, “Malkoran is vanquished. Skyrim’s dead shall remain at rest. This is as it should be. This is because of you.”
“No, the majority will remain at rest thanks to Lord Arkay’s Rights and equivalent. Removing Malkoran was a minor dent in the plague of necromancy. As long as Alduin remains corporeal, no dead in Sovngarde can remain at rest. Like all of your kind, you are unaware of many things and lie habitually.”
“A new day is dawning, and you shall be its herald.”
“What a load of hyperbolic bullshit!”
“Take the mighty Dawnbreaker and use it to purge corruption from the world’s dark corners. Wield it in my name so that my influence may grow.”
“You have no idea who I am, do you? Let me educate you, Lady Meridia. I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. Your sword is mediocre. But even if powerful, why would I wield any weapon in your name. You are the enemy of my gods and the mortals I protect.”
“It matters not. The plant cares nothing for the rays that bring the sun’s warmth. As you carry Dawnbreaker, so will my light touch the world.”
“Dawnbreaker will be stored in a pocket plane in Aetherius. Nobody will use it to spread your lies. I am done talking with you, traitor and liar. I have other necromancers to take care of, and Dawnbreaker is not needed for the task.”
We made our way outside.
- Shouken: Were you that rude to Boethiah and Azura?
- Wulf: I was a bit testy with Boethiah, but Azura was spoken to with respect.
- Lydia: Don’t you dare tell Wulf it was wrong to speak to that bitch like that!
- Shouken: Woah, Lydia. I am not criticising.
- Celestine: Wulf gives respect where earned. Meridia has only earned contempt.
- Shouken: Hey, alright, little lady, I know!
- Kogo: Ha, Wulf has other female protectors when Rigmor is absent.
- Wulf: Kogo, if you knew Rigmor, you would know she would be giving me a hard time, not defending me.
- Lydia: You look upset, Kogo. What’s wrong? Are you still uncomfortable wearing pants?
- Kogo: Well, I am getting a bit sweaty around the balls.
- Lydia: Eww!
- Celestine: Kogo has balls? You learn something new every day.
- Silah: Keep the bickering going. This is fun!
It was approaching sunset and quite dark, so I used Night-Vision.
We stepped onto the road, and Silah said, “Yes, Wulf, I see them.”
We hurried to catch up with a Thalmor patrol.
I made my way to the front and stood before the Justiciar.
“Hello, my name is Wulf, and I have been a naughty boy. I wiped out many Thalmor patrols when they objected to me worshipping Talos. Do you think I should stop worshipping the Ninth Divine?”
The Thalmor attacked. I drew my sword but watched as The Dragonguard made short work of them.
At the intersection of the main roads, I was approached by an Orsimer.
He said, “Greetings, brother. You look weary. I have something to help you relax if you’re interested.”
“And what might that be?”
“The finest Skooma. The sweetest moon sugar. At a fair price, of course.”
“I hate bottom feeders like you who peddle in that poison.”
“Ah, a snitch, eh? I can’t have you running to any guards now, can I?”
“There are five of us plus a dragon waiting to roast you. We are fully armed and armoured, and you threaten me with what? Mailed fists? I think you have been sampling too much of your product.”
The idiot tried to punch me.
I drew my sword and said, “Stop or die. Your choice.”
The Orsimer swung again.
I cut his head off, and we continued towards Wolfskull Cave.
The Orsimer’s head accompanied us as it rolled downhill.
We entered the Wolfskull Cave, and I destroyed undead and necromancers alike with Unrelenting Force and arrows.
It didn’t take long to arrive at Potema’s ritual chamber.
We listened to a ritual as it echoed.
- Ritual Master: Wolf Queen. Hear our call and awaken. We summon Potema!
- Necromancers: We summon Potema!
- Ritual Master: Long have you slept the dreamless sleep of death, Potema. No longer. Hear us, Wolf Queen! We Summon You!
- Necromancers: We summon Potema!
I whispered, “The idiots! Potema became one of the most powerful necromancers. She will have protected her soul against such foolishness.”
Celestine replied, “Can you see which one is the Ritual Master. Eliminate that person, and the summoning will end.”
“Hang on, and I will zoom in and see.”
I used Zoom-Vision and could tell by watching the movement of the mouth to match the spoken words which one was the Ritual Master.
The summoning continued,
- Potema: Yes! Yes! Return me to this realm!
- Ritual Master: As our voices summon you, the blood of the innocent binds you, Wolf Queen!
- Necromancers: You are summoned with words. Bound by blood.
- Potema: What! What are you doing?! You are fools! You cannot bind me to your wills!
- Necromancers: You are summoned with words. Bound by blood.
- Potema: You ants don’t have the power to bind me!
I had to stop the ritual. Otherwise, Potema would have a corporeal body. That of the sacrifice made.
I used a full Unrelenting Force.
The power of my Thu’um sped across the chamber. The Ritual Master screamed as it tore her to pieces.
Potema’s spirit rose.
I zoomed in and saw her look our way.
Then Potema’s spirit escaped through a hole in the roof.
There were dozens of necromancers and their undead minions in the chamber. Fighting them would be senseless as the ritual was already stopped.
I told my group, “Teleport to inside The Blue Palace! We must warn Falk and Jarl Elisif!”
I teleported and then summoned Lydia. Celestine teleported and summoned Kogo and Shouken.
Falk called out to the Palace Guards, “Hold it, they are friends of the Jarl!”
I walked over to Falk.
- Falk: Wulf, you promised not to teleport directly into the palace!
- Wulf: I promised I would only do it if necessary.
- Falk: Did you find something at Wolfskull Cave?
- Wulf: Necromancers were trying to summon and bind Potema.
- Falk: Potema herself! Please tell me you stopped them.
- Wulf: I stopped them before Potema could manifest fully on Nirn.
- Falk: You’ve done a larger service to the realm than you could possibly know. A resurrected Potema! I shudder at the thought.
- Celestine: The danger is far from over, Falk. And we are well aware of the threat Potema represents.
- Wulf: The necromancers had already summoned Potema’s soul. I stopped the ritual before her soul could enter the body of a sacrifice. However, Potema’s soul, her spirit, is now free to find another host. Most likely, she will reconstruct her mortal body.
- Celestine: Potema would likely have prepared for this eventuality. All she needs to find is a small part of her skeleton. A finger bone or even smaller would suffice. From that, she can manifest in a more tangible form. Eventually, she will be whole once more unless somebody stops her.
- Falk: Do you have any idea where she will manifest?
- Wulf: Somewhere within Solitude as this city was where Potema honed her necromancy skills and knowledge. However, as Celestine said, we could be searching for something as tiny as a finger bone. Without knowing where to look, it is an almost impossible task to locate Potema in a city this size with its miles of uncharted catacombs and drains.
- Falk: What do we do?
- Wulf: Inform the city’s religious leaders and perhaps even call in some Vigilants of Stendarr. They are to look for, but not try and deal with, any sign of Potema’s return. As long as she is found within the next couple of weeks, the danger is minimal. Contact me or the mages in our Safe House if anything is discovered.
- Falk: I will arrange that immediately. Will you inform the Jarl?
- Wulf: Yes, I was meeting with her anyway.
- Falk: Good.
As we headed for Elisif’s chambers, we passed by Sybil Stentor, the court wizard.
I said, “Evening, Sybil. All of those Stormcloak traitors in the dungeons must be draining.”
“Occasionally, Dragonborn. We can’t make people suspicious now, can we?”
“Only the condemned, of course.”
“Yes, only those who have a date with Ahtar’s axe.”
“Does he get paid per head?”
“I compensate him. He is content.”
I knocked on the door to Elisif’s chamber.
A quiet “Enter” was heard.
We entered, and Elisif said, “Oh my, I am afraid I only have one spare chair. Wulf, Please join me.”
I sat in the chair. The Dragonguard stood nearby.
- Elisif: I did notice the extra security when they thought I was a target for assassination.
- Wulf: It was a hard decision, my Jarl. But we did not want to let The New Order know we knew of their plans.
- Elisif: They weren’t very competent, were they?
- Wulf: No, but they still cost many lives, and much damage was caused to Dragon Bridge and Morthal.
- Elisif: Did you find anything at Wolfskull Cave?
- Wulf: Yes, and lucky we did not simply dismiss Varnius. We interrupted some necromancers who were trying to summon and bind Potema. We stopped the ritual, but not before Potema’s soul reached Nirn. Her spirit now roams free.
- Celestine: We think Potema will try and reconstruct her body. She only needs the tiniest piece of bone to do so.
- Elisif: Where will she do this?
- Wulf: We believe it will be in Solitude or under Solitude. Falk will have religious people and the Vigilants of Stendarr scout the city for any signs of Potema.
- Elisif: Can you deal with her? Will she be too strong for you?
- Wulf: No. She was a powerful necromancer, but that was not the root of her domination of this city. She was a shrewd politician and manipulator.
- Elisif: Yes, people overlook her military and political abilities and fixate on her necromancer practices.
- Celestine: We will deal with her when she appears, which we are sure she will do.
- Elisif: I have faith you will do so. Now, Wulf, what is with the secrecy of The Dragonborn and Guardian General.
- Wulf: Have you received news about the new Countess of Bruma.
- Elisif: Yes, her name is Rigmor Ragnarsdottier. Do you know her?
- Wulf: I know Rigmor. The Divines have told us that Rigmor is essential for the future of Nirn, not just The Empire or of Tamriel. Anybody associated with me is in danger as I have attracted and will continue to attract many enemies. For Rigmor’s safety, her Guardian, the Guardian General, must be seen to have cut all ties with her. For the same reason, The Guardian General and The Dragonborn cannot be considered the same person by my enemies.
- Celestine: Wulf is avoiding the crucial information. Rigmor and Wulf are souls entwined. They are deeply in love and have been in past Kalpa. Wulf had to say goodbye to Rigmor yesterday, and they do not know when they can see each other again.
- Elisif: Is this true, Wulf?
- Wulf: Yes, my Jarl.
- Lydia: Jarl Elisif, the love between Rigmor and Wulf is extraordinary. People say they have met their soulmates. I with my beloved Bjorn, who the dragon killed in Helgen. Yourself with High King Torygg. The claim of soulmates is valid, and we couldn’t imagine life without them. Yet here we are, having to learn to exist within the nightmare of their loss. The connection between Wulf and Rigmor is genuinely at the soul level. Lady Mara has said their souls are intertwined. That each Kalpa, they will find each other. In my grief, I found beauty, not jealousy or resentment, when I witnessed the love that they share.
- Elisif: Have The Divines told you when you might rejoin Rigmor?
- Wulf: Soon. I have to take care of Alduin. Rigmor has to establish herself in the position of Countess. Even then, we must be discreet. I cannot visit Cyrodiil because their political game guarantees spies, and secrets are hard to keep. Plus, if Rigmor’s Guardian is thought to be gone, his surprise reappearance in the future may be of benefit if she attracts personal enemies, separate from mine.
- Elisif: The proclamation from His Imperial Highness said that Rigmor was offered the position as compensation for the wrongs done to her family and for her gallant actions against The New Order invasion.
- Wulf: Rigmor’s father was Ser Ragnar Fjonasson. He was a made a Knight for his service during The Great War. After The Great War, he helped defend Hammerfell and was instrumental in The Dominion’s defeat. The Dominion wanted Ragnar punished, so the records were altered, and Ragnar was blamed for a massacre that, in reality, he prevented. Ragnar was executed in Alinor. Rigmor and her mother were enslaved. Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar rescued Rigmor. We recently rescued her mother, Sigunn.
- Elisif: Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar is one of the most respected individuals in international politics.
- Wulf: He is Rigmor’s stepfather. When Rigmor turned eighteen, she sought revenge on The Thalmor. She killed every single person in the Dominion Embassy in Bruma.
- Elisif: By herself?
- Wulf: Rigmor is the finest greatsword wielder I have ever met, and she is eighteen years of age.
- Elisif: The Dominion tried to cover this city and other parts of my Hold with wanted posters for Rigmor of Bruma. We never allow them to do that. What they consider a crime is not the same as our definition.
- Wulf: The New Order invasion was a diversion. Their real aim was to return Trinimac as a God-King. Rigmor was captured and was to be sacrificed to open an Oblivion Portal and allow Malacath to transform in Trinimac. I managed to stop that from happening.
- Lydia: Rigmor led an army of her father’s old soldiers into The Battle for Whiterun. However, she is such a beautiful young woman with a big heart. The people of Bruma are fortunate to have her as Countess.
- Elisif: I am sure there are a lot of details missing in this summary. But I will get the whole story from the Countess when I invite her to court.
- Wulf: I warn you, my Jarl. You will become entranced by her.
- Elisif: She sounds remarkable, and I look forward to meeting her.
- Wulf: Living in my Safe House are Blades who fled to Akavir after the White-Gold Concordat made them outlaws. There, they trained to become Dragonguard. They are sworn to my service, but I regard them as friends. They saved many lives of those injured in the Battle of Whiterun. If it weren’t for The Dragonguard, Morthal would have fallen to the invaders, and Dragon Bridge suffer far more casualties. I apologise for putting you in an awkward position, Jarl Elisif.
- Elisif: Is General Tullius aware of their deeds against The New Order.
- Wulf: They were mentioned in dispatches. Therefore, General Tullius would be aware.
- Elisif: Why have The Dragonguard returned to Tamriel?
- Wulf: There are many warlords in Akavir. Some regarded The Dragonguard as a threat. One powerful faction discovered our headquarters and attacked in large numbers. Many friends of various Akavir races sacrificed themselves so The Dragonguard could escape. We were told of the dragons returning years ago and have trained to deal with them. So even if our headquarters were not destroyed, we would have returned at this time.
- Elisif: Be assured, Wulf, that I will not allow any arrests of The Dragonguard. I will inform the Dominion ambassador of this.
- Wulf: I hope they listen, Jarl Elisif, because if anybody tries to arrest them, they will be endangering all mortals, and I would not allow that.
- Elisif: I will ask His Imperial Majesty to give The Dragonguard official status within The Imperial Army.
- Wulf: I was going to ask, as His Imperial Highness owes them an outstanding debt. But if you want to do so on my behalf, I would be grateful.
- Elisif: Consider it done.
- Wulf: You must prepare your city and people for dragon attacks, Jarl Elisif. The leader of the dragons is Alduin, The World Eater. His dragon army is starting to attack civilians, and I fear Skyrim is ill-prepared for the onslaught.
- Elisif: What can we do?
- Wulf: Civilians must learn of warning alarms and seek shelter underground. Infantry must be taught how to combat a downed dragon. All able body citizens who can shoot a bow must be equipped with decent weapons and plenty of arrows. Mages must become adept at Destruction and Restoration spells. Plenty of water and buckets need to be available to combat fires. Healing potions should be created and stored in large numbers.
- Elisif: All cities and towns of Skyrim are well drilled in most of those things. However, combating dragons is something in which there is very little expertise.
- Wulf: The tactics are not complex, and The Dragonguard is capable of teaching the teachers, as it were.
- Elisif: I am afraid the civil war will prevent Skyrim from being as prepared for dragons as possible.
- Wulf: Of that, I am acutely aware. It may be I turn my attention to eliminating Ulfric before Alduin.
- Celestine: We demonstrated with The New Order that our numbers are small, but we can significantly influence the battlefield.
- Wulf: I will get involved in the civil war, Jarl Elisif. I will challenge Ulfric to personal combat, but he will refuse. I hope to make more Stormcloaks abandon Ulfric than we have to slaughter in battle.
- Lydia: Ulfric murdered High King Torygg. Lord Talos does not want people to die over the right to worship him.
- Elisif: I look forward to the day Ulfric is dragged to our block, and the headsman’s axe ends his life.
- Wulf: My Jarl, you wanted to ask me a favour but could not mention it in open court?
- Elisif: As you may know, Talos worship is outlawed in The Empire.
- Wulf: Yet, Whiterun has a massive statue of Talos on display. Nobody has tried to remove the Shrine of Talos I installed into Solitude’s Temple of The Divines.
- Elisif: As that may be, as a person of high nobility, I have to be seen to be obeying Imperial laws. So, when we buried my husband, I made offerings to all the gods except Talos.
- Wulf: I talk with Talos quite often, my Jarl. He would understand why this is so.
- Elisif: Still, I would like you to take an item of Torygg’s and place it on a Shrine of Talos. On the table is a warhorn handed down from his father. That is the item I would like offered to the Ninth Divine.
- Wulf: Any particular Shrine of Talos, my Jarl?
- Elisif: Torygg would often visit the one above White River Gorge.
- Wulf: I know if it. I will do this for you and High King Torygg.
- Elisif: Thank you. It would mean a lot to me.
As I lifted the horn, I could see tears forming in Elisif’s eyes.
I signalled The Dragonguard, and we made our way to the throne room.
I whispered, “Teleport to Whiterun stables, Celestine.”
I teleported and summoned Lydia. Celestine teleported and summoned the other two.
I then summoned Silah.
Silah complained telepathically, “You entered Wolfskull Cave. A while later, all of these necromancers came running out. They were panicking about how they were all going to die at the hands of Potema. None of them mentioned killing or capturing an annoying brute, so I thought you were still inside the cave. Now I find you in Whiterun. A girl could get dizzy!”
“Sorry, Silah, I will try harder to let you know where I am.”
“Okay, what happened in the cave?”
“They tried to summon and bind Potema. They failed. Now Potema’s spirit is loose on Nirn.”
“She probably has a hidey-hole in Solitude.”
“That is what we told Jarl Elisif. Anyway, at first sight of Potema, we will be contacted.”
“So why are we in Whiterun?”
“Jarl Elisif wants me to place High King Torygg’s warhorn on one of Father’s shrines.”
“Okay, lead the way.”
I did not look over the battlefield. I did not want to encourage visions of that day of carnage.
It was a pleasant night for a stroll, and I thought how much Rigmor would enjoy it. Then a roar in my left ear reminded me of two things I had forgotten.
I turned and faced a very aggravated bear.
I drew my sword and smacked it across the face with its pommel.
Shouken came running up and almost cut the bear in half.
- Shouken: Wulf, you just walked past that bear as if you didn’t think it would attack.
- Celestine: It wouldn’t have if Rigmor were with him.
- Wulf: And I forgot to enable Kyne’s Peace.
- Shouken: It is not like you to make such mistakes.
- Wulf: What can I say? My mind is preoccupied with Rigmor.
- Celestine: Oh, Wulf. I understand.
- Lydia: As do I.
- Wulf: Understanding is okay, but I can’t allow it to happen. I must be more careful.
- Celestine: You must remain who you are, Wulf. Not become some empty Dwemer automaton.
We continued our silent walk to Father’s shrine.
Silah telepathically warned, “There are Thalmor watching your actions.”
I saw a Justiciar preparing a spell and a soldier staring up at Silah.
I told Silah, “Let them watch. If they try anything, they die.”
I knelt before Father’s shrine and said, “Lord Talos, please accept this offering on behalf of Jarl Elisif the Fair, widow of High King Torygg.”
I stood and placed Torygg’s horn on the shrine.
Silah called out, “The Thalmor are approaching!”
The Thalmor looked up in astonishment at the dragon that snitched on them.
Then they remembered us naughty Talos worshippers and attacked.
I ran past the soldier and cut the justiciar from belly button to throat.
Lydia neatly decapitated the soldier.
I searched the Justiciar and found an order I read to The Dragonguard.
Two prisoners have confessed to worship at a Talos shrine in the hills above White River Gorge in recent weeks. This cult must not be allowed to grow any further. Find the shrine. Hunt down any heretics you find there. Take no prisoners.
I growled, “One day soon, Ambassador Elenwen and I will talk. She is not guaranteed to survive our little chat.”
I dismissed Silah then we teleported to the Safe House.
Lydia asked, “When do we start hunting Alduin?”
“Tomorrow, Lydia. I think we need to ask Delphine if there are any Blades who might shed light on how the Tongues Shouted Alduin out of this world.”
“Speaking of Bjorn earlier reminded me of how much I want to shove my sword into Alduin’s belly.”
“You shall get your revenge, Lydia.”
The Dragonguard headed off for bed, as did I.
I stared at my bed and wondered if I could sleep.
After a spa bath, I climbed into bed.
Ten minutes later, exhaustion took over, and I slept.
Rigmor had most of the furniture removed from her huge bedroom on Bruma’s keep. She had a brand-new bed, mattress, blankets, and sheets delivered.
Rigmor stood staring at the bed and wondered if she could sleep.
Rigmor had a hot bath and then climbed into bed.
Ten minutes later, exhaustion took over, and Rigmor slept.
Less than an hour later, Rigmor awoke and reflexively looked for Wulf in the chair she had placed in his usual spot. He was not there, and she remembered why, and she wept.
Wulf was asleep, but his soul reacted to Rigmor’s distress. As happened years before, Wulf travelled via the ethereal plane to Rigmor.
He sat in the chair, and although Rigmor could not see him, she knew he was there.
“Wulf, why have you come?”
“I am asleep from exhaustion. But you have been weeping, and my soul heard. So here I am, my beloved. I cannot do this every night, for it is if I have not slept. But tonight, I am here.”
“Can you say those words from years ago?”
“Hush, little one. You are not alone. I am your witness and will share your pain. I cannot rescue you, but I will not leave your side. Sleep, let your body rest. I will watch over you. Let me be your Guardian.”
“Will you always be my Guardian?”
“I can’t promise, but I will try. I will not stop out of choice. I hope that is good enough.”
“Yes, we can only try our hardest. My dad used to say that. The worries of tomorrow are gone, and I feel at peace. I can sleep now. Goodnight, my Guardian.”
My ethereal form watched Rigmor sleep. I would be tired in the morning, but I could not let her weep.