Fredas, 26th Hearthfire, 4E 201
& Loredas, 27th Hearthfire, 4E 201
I forced myself to get out of bed, bathe and dress for the day. Even Meeko gave up trying to drag me out of the foul mood I was in.
I was starting the day far later than usual. I knew that while I slept, Delphine and Esbern were aboard a carriage from Whiterun to Markarth. When we teleport to Markarth, we will still be ahead of them.
I had just finished breaking my fast when Vayu came up to me.
He said, “Silah came visiting in her spirit form. She says she will join us very late today or early tomorrow. She said you would know why.”
“She is investigating time anomalies. I am one of them, but I don’t know what the others are.”
“Celestine said that is how Alduin is finding you. She said you are causing noise when you come out of a teleport.”
“When I come from another plane, my Dragon Soul automatically synchronises with the linear time of Mundus. While that happens, I am leaving a signature that Alduin recognises. However, I must continue to teleport. Otherwise, things would take far too long.”
“Are we ready to leave?”
“Yes, let me gather the rest of today’s team.”
Inigo was in the living room.
I told him, “The walk from Markarth to Sky Haven Temple crosses Forsworn territory. They will attack us. Even if we wore Imperial Army uniforms, they would attack us.”
“They have no hope of winning their own country using force. They would be better off fortifying what they have and making peace with their neighbours.”
“Ulfric Stormcloak put an end to that idea when he slaughtered thousands of non-combatants.”
“True. Perhaps a peaceful solution can be found when the civil war is over.”
I recruited Taku and then summoned Seiko and Lydia.
When the squad was assembled, we teleported to Markarth Stables, where it teemed with rain.
Inigo whined, “Can you hear those screams? That is the sound of my fleas drowning.”
“With the amount of dirt you have been gathering, they are probably getting covered in mudslides.”
Despite the inclement weather, we encountered many travellers on the road to Markarth.
Many of those heading to Markarth had come from Ri’saad’s caravan.
There were several orphans amongst the Khajiiti.
I walked over to Ri’saad, who remained dry under the awning of his tent.
“Good morning, Ri’saad.”
“Good morning, Dragonborn. Khajiit has not met Wulf outside of Markarth before.”
“I see that business is good.”
“Yes, this position catches lots of passing traffic and the citizens of Markarth. Khajiiti were offered a closer space but preferred this one.”
“I have found an orphanage that will take some of your young ones.”
“When this one was asked, a few kittens were expected. The Thalmor are determined to wipe out a particular pride, so Khajiit was inundated. It is too dangerous for them on the road, especially those who live inside cities. However, nowhere in Thalmor controlled territory is safe for them. So we ended up with many kittens, and that is good news you bring me.”
“In a few days, we can send many of them to safety.”
“Khajiit thanks you once more, Wulf.”
“How are the roads around here?”
“There are many Forsworn near the mine. They have taken it over and are aggressive.”
“That is the direction we are heading. The Forsworn would be wise to leave us be.”
“Then expect to fight, for they are some of the few who dare attack Khajiiti caravans.”
We continued, and I could see Forsworn guarding a bridge.
We approached with weapons sheathed, yet Forsworn attacked us.
We quickly and efficiently killed them all.
I turned to the group and said, “A lone dragon was attracted by the fighting and has recognised me. He has issued a challenge.
Nahstrunbrit was not very strong and easily defeated.
We crossed the bridge then Lydia asked, “What is that bowl type thing?”
“The Dwemer had round ships that travelled via the ethereal plane. That is one of their ports.”
“They didn’t rely on mages to zap them around?”
“No, but neither did The Empire for some time. They had the Terminus System that normal carriage drivers could use. You would climb aboard a carriage no different than today. The carriage would enter a terminus, and a second later, you emerged from the destination terminus. All that knowledge was lost, mainly due to Dragon Breaks.”
A Thalmor Patrol approached. Taku whispered, “Leave some for me, Wulf.”
I said to the Justiciar, “It seems you weren’t invited to Elenwen’s party. Otherwise, I would have killed you as well!”
The Justiciar tried to cast a spell, but my sword slicing into him ended that plan. So, he drew his shortsword instead.
I removed his head which put an end to his second plan.
I stepped forward, swinging my sword in rapid arcs. The other two Thalmor died.
Taku was upset I didn’t leave him any.
When dealing with The Thalmor, I noticed another fight nearby. We rushed to it and found some travellers accosted by bandits.
I Blinked to a Dunmer Mage who was taking a toll on the travellers.
I cut her across the throat.
My team soon took care of the rest.
I approached a Reachman.
I said, “Good morning. I am Wulf, The Dragonborn.”
“Well met, Wulf. I am Deys Prommun from Evermore in High Rock. We are travelling to Dawnstar and have found a lot of trouble on this route from Markarth.”
“It has a reputation for aggressive Forsworn and bandits who kill and share their bounty with the Forsworn.”
“The travel guides never mention the dangers, only the beauty. Anyway, I thank you and your friends for your timely arrival.”
“Farewell, and I hope the rest of your walk to Dawnstar is uneventful.”
“As do I. Farewell.”
Another dragon attacked not much further along the road while issuing a challenge to me.
I yelled, “His name is Dunbritvith. Beware, for he is far stronger than the dragon we just defeated!”
It took much longer to defeat Dunbritvith than Nahstrunbrit, but he still succumbed without posing a significant threat to us.
I had just finished absorbing Nahstrunbrit’s soul when I heard Esbern say, “Ah… the power of the dragon is yours! There can be no doubt that you are The Dragonborn of prophecy.”
I walked over to Esbern, and he could see I was not amused.
“Esbern, your poor dragonlore is shown once more. I do not absorb any power from Dov I defeat. I absorb their souls and not just their Life Force but also their conscience. This removes the dragons from this and any future Kalpa. They cease to exist! I am supposed to learn something about The Thu’um from this travesty, but I don’t, as Lady Kynareth has already gifted me the knowledge I need. This soul absorption is an abomination that I have asked to be removed, but even Lord Akatosh cannot do so.”
“I did not mean to offend.”
“I might be The Dragonborn of prophecy, but I am not the only one that exists.”
“How can that be?”
“Dragonborn have free will as do all mortals. Not all of us decide to use Lord Akatosh’s gifts to benefit all. After defeating Alduin, I will have to defeat a Dragonborn who has allied with a Daedric Prince. I am glad you and Delphine have caught up. The danger only increases from here.”
I walked over to Delphine.
She said, “We saw the Forsworn bodies, a dragon carcass, slaughtered Thalmor and bandits. I told Esbern we must be getting close to you and The Dragonguard.”
“And that is why it was better we travelled ahead of Esbern and you. But I can smell many campfires. I assume many Forsworn are nearby, so stay behind us.”
Deys overheard the conversation and warned his group of possible danger.
Many Forsworn were using ancient ruins as a base at the foot of the stairs leading to Sky Raven Temple.
I did not try and conceal myself. As soon as Forsworn saw me, they attacked. What followed was the death of dozens, none of them on our side.
Many accuse Forsworn of being savages. There was nothing civilised in my dance of death.
Forsworn have a well-earned reputation for bravery. Yet some cowered as I approached, covered in the blood and gore of friends and family.
I hardly used The Voice. I preferred to kill close to my victims to revel in their pain and fear.
If they tried to run, they died.
If they stood and fought, they died.
As usual with large Forsworn tribes, their matriarchal leader was a Hagraven.
I cut her down and looked for more enemies.
I came across Esbern having difficulty with a dual-wielding Forsworn warlord.
I quickly parried his two weapons and then cut him down.
The last Forsworn alive had no chance. The fighting was over.
Deys came running up to me.
He exclaimed, “I have never seen anything like that! You just stepped from one Forsworn to the other and cut them down. It was amazing!”
“It is what I do, Deys. I will keep on killing as long as The Divines need me to do so.”
Deys gathered his group, and they continued their journey. I silently climbed steps to a cave I instinctively knew led to Sky Haven Temple. As I waited for the others to catch up, I used Magicka to clean the blood and gore from me.
A familiar spirit appeared before me.
My allies assembled behind me and stood quietly when they saw the spirit.
I said in Tsaesci, “General Xile, I thought I had released you from Mundus?”
“I was given one more task, Dragonborn.”
“And what is that task?”
“When they sealed Sky Haven Temple, Dragonguard volunteers remained to protect it from tomb robbers and others. You must fight their undead forms to reach the Blood Seal. General Taira Matsutoshi is their leader. Akamizu, Magus of The Dragonguard, is his second in command.
Most volunteers you face are proficient in The Voice, and the trial is for you only. Do not take your comrades inside.”
“Are you finally to enter your afterlife, General Xile.”
“Yes, and my wife and many generations of descendants eagerly await my arrival.”
General Xile said as his spirit faded, “I am here, my beloved. Let us embrace and be one again….”
I turned to the group.
- Esbern: Dragonborn, was that an Akaviri?
- Wulf: Yes. He is General Xile and one of the Akaviri generals who surrendered to Reman Cyrodiil.
- Delphine: What language was that?
- Wulf: Some call it Akaviri, but its real name is Tsaesci.
- Vayu: Wulf has met General Xile before.
- Wulf: He remained in a barracks turned into a tomb near Whiterun. He waited for me so he could warn me about Alduin’s return. I had known for years, but The Dragonguard did not know that would be the case when they asked for volunteers.
- Inigo: What did he say?
- Wulf: I have said before that Sky Haven Temple would have trials to ensure only the worthy can unseal it. Being Dragonborn is not enough.
- Vayu: General Taira Matsutoshi and some of his troops volunteered to guard the temple after their deaths. Magus Akamizu is also a guard. She will be a deadly opponent.
- Delphine: But aren’t Dragonguard, like Blades, sworn to the service of Dragonborn?
- Wulf: The Dragonguard require recruits to pass many trials before being accepted into their ranks. All of my Dragonguard friends bear the scars, mentally and physically, of those trials. To be allowed access to this temple, a shrine to Reman Cyrodiil, I must pass a challenging and potentially fatal trial.
- Vayu: And Wulf must do this alone.
- Esbern: But Alduin’s Wall? How will you know what it means?
- Wulf: I will know, Esbern. But don’t fear. Once I have passed the trial and deem it safe, I will return here, and you can enter.
- Delphine: You said that all the young Blade recruits who came to Akavir passed such trials.
- Taku: Yes, we did, and some of us have asked if it was worth it.
- Vayu: It was not the trials of The Dragonguard that broke you, Taku. They brought you back from despair. You would be a drunk in a gutter somewhere if not for The Dragonguard.
- Wulf: Taku enjoyed the gentle ministrations of The Thalmor before escaping and joining us in Akavir.
- Vayu: Some of the trials are specific to a person. They tap into your greatest fears and make you face them.
- Wulf: The hallucinogens administered by Vayu and other Dragonguard shamans are combined with spells to produce an experience indistinguishable from reality. When somebody says they are Dragonguard, you know they have conquered their greatest fears.
- Inigo: I wonder would my trial would entail?
- Lydia: A giant bathtub with bars of soap attacking you.
- Inigo: We walked in the rain earlier. That is enough of a wash for a month at least!
- Wulf: The totems out the front of the cave mean at least some of it is infested with Forsworn. I guarantee the Forsworn soon learnt where not to trespass. Most of the Akaviri guards I will encounter are users of The Voice.
- Esbern: How will we know if you have failed the trial?
- Wulf: I will be dead, and Alduin will be laughing.
I entered the cave and used Heat-Vision.
That showed me two Forsworn. One was lying down, and the other was sitting.
I switched to Night-Vision and crept forward.
I killed the sleeping Forsworn with my first arrow. He screamed, and that alerted the Forsworn that was sitting.
He came running, still not seeing me in the dark. My second arrow killed him.
What Heat-Vision didn’t reveal was a Briarheart. He came running and died when my third arrow hit him.
I am not opposed to using stealth. When you are outnumbered,v and alone, honourable sword fights are not ideal. Therefore, when I found the Akaviri spirits, I used stealth to stalk and kill them.
My first target was a monk. They can close at a fast rate and can be challenging to defeat in a sword fight.
As the monk fell, another Akaviri charged me. Another arrow ended its existence.
A drawbridge would give me access to the next part of the temple. A puzzle would need to be solved to lower the drawbridge. I did not fancy arrows and Shouts being directed at me as I solved the puzzle, so I removed the Akaviri spirits guarding the drawbridge.
The puzzle had an obvious solution. There were three columns with various Akaviri symbols on different facets. I had to turn the columns so that the symbol for Dragonborn was at the front.
The drawbridge clattered down. So much for stealth!
I made my way past the three guards.
I came to a room full of pressure plates. I assumed that standing on the wrong pressure plate would not be pleasant.
Once again, the answer to the problem was obvious. I had to make my way across the room and pull a chain. I had to stand on the pressure plates with the Akaviri symbol for Dragonborn to do so safely.
Halfway across, I looked to my right and could see another drawbridge. I assumed that pulling the chain would lower it and disable any traps.
I made it to the chain, pulled it, and the drawbridge lowered.
I killed three more Akaviri spirits, including that of a captain.
General Taira Matsutoshi wandered over. He saw the captain’s body and then looked at me. He issued a challenge, so I drew my sword.
Taira was a Swordmaster. It took all my skill to defeat him.
Taira used Whirlwind Sprint to escape when I was about to deal with the final blow. Another Akaviri spirit had snuck up behind, and I quickly turned to parry his blow.
I cut him down and returned my attention to where Taira had gone. The captain’s body had fallen off the drawbridge.
Taira appeared and Shouted Ice Form at me. It was only a Two Word shout, and I resisted it. A Three Word Shout would have most likely disabled me.
I blocked his two-handed swing and cut him down.
I made my way to the room with the Blood Seal.
Akamizu, Magus of The Dragonguard, sat before a pivoting head of Reman Cyrodiil. Dripping my blood onto the Blood Seal would open the way to the centre of the temple and Alduin’s Wall.
A red haze surrounded Akamizu. Even from a distance, I could feel the power of the Blood Magic. I am immune to Blood Magic that targets my blood, but I sensed what Akamizu utilised would target my Life Force.
She said in Tsaesci, “Come, Dragonborn. Prove you are worthy or die.”
I drew my sword and slowly approached. Akamizu drew her bladed staff and then attacked at incredible speed.
I slowed her progress with a full-strength, Unrelenting Force. It would have smashed most opponents against the head of Reman Cyrodiil and ended the fight. All it did was stagger Akamizu.
While Akamizu was off-balance, I hit her with Unrelenting Force once more.
I then closed and started raining blows upon her. Her bladed staff was too slow to parry or counterattack. However, my Life Force was being drained at a tremendous rate. I only had seconds to beat her or retreat.
A series of blows ended her, but my Life Force continued to drain.
I cast Grand Healing, which allowed me to survive until Akamizu’s Dweomer ceased the Life Force draining.
I searched Akamizu and found the following note.
“We have barricaded the entrance to the inner sanctum.
When we resigned ourselves to the duty of protecting this Temple, many of us were already weakened after being forced to flee the heartland.
Much time has passed, and my kinfolk have long since lost their minds, pacing back and forth. They single-mindedly guard the place that gave them sanctuary…
They await the arrival of The Dragonborn, true heir to the Imperial Throne.
Yet their faith shall not be rewarded in their lifetimes.
For this reason, I, blessed with an immortal body, shall devote myself to their memories. To keep some small part of them alive and reward their loyalty.
Alas, I must return to my duties whilst some semblance of my sanity remains.
That is the price I pay for this longevity. The Thirst… Soon it will become unbearable…
If these are my last words, then I pray, remember our names.
— Dragonguard High Priestess, Akamizu”
Akamizu was a mighty vampire. She drained the blood of the other Dragonguard till they became a form of undead. Taira maintained some semblance of who he was. That is why he challenged me to a duel.
Akamizu also claims that I am the rightful Emperor. Once I would have been, the danger is people who may think I still am. Unless instructed by The Nine, I do not want and would not accept The Ruby Throne.
I did not want Akamizu’s body to be an object for curious eyes. I moved her to a small garden and laid her down.
Akamizu was a devotee of Lady Dibella and wore her symbol.
I visited each body, and if I could ascertain their name through possessions, I placed it in my mind, never to be forgotten. I will get a plaque made with those names placed within the temple when I have the chance.
I name the following as Avatars of The Dragonguard.
Akamizu: Dragonguard Magus.
Sujiwara: Dragonguard Monk.
Taira Matsutoshi: Dragonguard General.
Kinomasu: Dragonguard Captain.
I inspected the Blood Seal and the pivoting bust of Reman Cyrodiil.
I decided I would wait till everybody was a witness before unsealing the inner temple.
I made my way outside and nodded to Esbern. He and Delphine rushed inside, eager to see a place of legend for Blade and Dragonguard alike.
We followed at a more mundane pace.
Inigo came up to me and said, “My friend. I feel… strange.”
Inigo grimaced and said, “Argh! My mind is vibrating in my skull. It feels like it is at the end of a hook.”
Vayu watched Inigo, and I think he also deduced what was happening.
Inigo continued, “The sensation is receding. That was horrible!”
“How do you feel? Can you describe in more detail what happened?”
“I feel okay. I have no idea what that was. Suddenly, there was a bright flash, and it felt like my mind was being pulled out of my ears.”
“Inigo, I think I know what caused it but can only prove it via experimenting. I won’t do that as there is a danger to you.”
“What is it?”
“Somebody without the requisite skill and or knowledge of you is trying to summon you. Probably via a spell tome or scroll.”
Vayu added, “You can’t just summon anybody. You have to know them well enough to create a mental picture of them. Not just their looks but also their personality.”
I continued, “If you could summon anybody you wanted, it would make assassinations easy, don’t you think?”
Inigo laughed and said, “Make me a scroll to summon Titus Mede II. Then I can kill him from home and avoid the Penitus Oculatus!”
“If it happens again, try and think of where they want you to go. We need to find them and stop them.”
“What danger is there?”
“They could damage your mind, Inigo. They could even kill you!”
“Okay. If I start dribbling and staring straight ahead, please don’t mistake me for Lydia.”
I said to everybody, “I will open the entrance and enter by myself. Everybody is to wait here until I return and give the okay to proceed.”
I walked up to the Blood Seal and then faced Esbern.
I said, “Esbern, do not be tempted to enter till I say it is safe. You have no idea of the power of the spirits I have already faced.”
“Okay, Dragonborn. I will do as you ask.”
“Oh, of course, Dragonborn. I will do as you ordered.”
I knelt and drew a knife across my palm.
Drops of blood touched the Blood Seal, which was suddenly enveloped in bright light.
The bust of Reman Cyrodiil slowly pivoted upwards.
I made my way to the central chamber of Sky Haven Temple.
I walked over to Alduin’s Wall and felt my anger rise. It told me nothing that the Emblems of the 7000 Steps hadn’t already. That was a month ago!
I sketched the wall’s three main panels. Any future criticism of my hasty artwork will be met with a Thu’um enhanced raspberry from Aetherius!
I decided to do a thorough search of the temple to check if there was a danger to others and search for a clue to the shout used by the Ancient Tongues.
In a small alcove, I found a selection of Akaviri weapons. One of them had a unique Dweomer specifically designed to increase damage to dragons. It is probably an artefact Auryen would be interested in.
Inside a small chest were a note and a key. The note was in Tsaesci. A rough translation follows.
“Dragonborn, armour had been created for you. It lies within the Akaviri halls of Nafaalilargus, in the mountains in the south of Skyrim. The scarce clues point to its entrance being near the border gate of Cyrodiil, along the road from Falkreath.
Take the key from this box to unlock the Halls.
But be warned, for this armour is guarded by the jewel of Tiber Septim, Nahfahlaar!”
Empire citizens live their whole lives, never questioning why the symbol of The Empire is a dragon in the shape of a diamond.
The diamond shape represents the Chim-El Adabal, the Red Diamond central to The Amulet of Kings. The dragon is Nahfahlaar, later called Nafaalilargus. A friend of my father, hero of Elsweyr and ally to The Dragonguard.
Nafaalilargus was killed by Cyrus the Redguard in 2E 864. The dragon was cornered in the treasure vault of Stos M’Kai by Cyrus. This confined space limited the dragon’s manoeuvrability, and Cyrus had learned a trick from Argonian villagers. He dipped his sword in Dragonfire, which enabled it to penetrate Nafaalilargus’ hide. There is much history surrounding the battles of Tiber Septim’s campaign against the Redguards. The leadership of Cyrus and the demise of Nafaalilargus led to Tiber Septim negotiating a treaty with the Redguards. Hammerfell became part of The Empire but had more autonomy than would have otherwise been given.
If a scholar reading this is unaware of Nafaalilargus’ history, they should be ashamed and immediately study this fascinating if sometimes misrepresented Dovah.
It should be noted that Nafaalilargus and Odahviing are the only two Red Dragons known to exist.
I decided I would retrieve the armour immediately after leaving Sky Haven Temple. Nafaalilargus being alive is no great shock. How he came to be restored is a mystery worth solving.
My search of Sky Haven Temple revealed no clues about the Shout used by the Tongues.
However, I did find a portal in the shape of a sword. When I stood close to it, I knew it led to a pocket plane of Oblivion.
I returned to the Blood Seal room and told everybody they could enter the temple proper.
Delphine and Esbern raced ahead. I asked my group the wait for a minute.
- Vayu: Wulf, you do not look pleased.
- Wulf: Alduin’s Wall tells me nothing I didn’t know a month ago.
- Inigo: This was a waste of time?
- Wulf: We had to visit this place, Inigo. The Ancient Tongues have gone to great lengths to hide how they defeated Alduin. If the Akaviri Dragonguard knew, it would have been recorded on Alduin’s Wall. Alas, they didn’t know any more than the Greybeards. They Shouted Alduin from this world. That is all I know.
- Vayu: What now?
- Wulf: I am letting Esbern inspect Alduin’s Wall. Then I shall talk to him and Delphine. It seems a visit to Paarthurnax is the next logical step.
- Lydia: Did you find anything of use in there?
- Wulf: A note says a special suit of armour had been made for me. Nafaalilargus guards it inside some ruins near the border crossing close to Falkreath. I want to retrieve the armour before visiting High Hrothgar.
- Vayu: Nafaalilargus! Will he recognise who you are?
- Lydia: Don’t all dragons recognise The Dragonborn?
- Wulf: He will know I am The Dragonborn. Vayu was wondering if Nafaalilargus would know who my parents are. I assume he does.
- Lydia: Rigmor said I would never guess who they are.
- Wulf: I will tell you soon, Lydia. Now is not the time to complicate things.
- Seiko: Was there anything else?
- Wulf: A portal to a pocket plane of Oblivion. I can’t leave without visiting wherever it is.
- Vayu: It is not to a Dark Lord’s realm?
- Wulf: It could be a portion of one. Unless I have visited a realm before, I can’t recognise it from this side of a portal. For instance, I would know if it was a pocket plane of The Ash Pit, Malacath’s realm.
- Inigo: Why risk such a dangerous thing? Why don’t you ignore it?
- Wulf: It could pose a danger. I want to utilise Sky Haven Temple as a base for The Blades. I can’t do so without knowing where the portal leads.
- Vayu: Esbern has probably finished his viewing of Alduin’s Wall by now.
- Wulf: The expression on his face will tell us that.
Everybody gasped when they caught sight of Alduin’s Wall. There is no doubt it is impressive in terms of craftsmanship.
Inigo said, “The stonework in this place is very impressive. It is a shame not many people will see it.”
I walked to Esbern, who was staring at the first panel of three. I asked, “Esbern, have you finished looking at all three panels?”
He turned and said, “Yes.”
His face told me he had arrived at the same conclusion. A shout was used, but there was no indication of what Shout.
“Okay, let me narrate what it depicts. Then we can discuss what is next. All of you, feel free to ask questions.”
Everybody went silent, and I began.
“Alduin’s Wall is not the accumulated dragonlore of The Akaviri or Dragonguard or Blades. However, it does give a clue as to how the Ancient Tongues defeated Alduin.
Alduin’s Wall is divided into three panels. The first panel depicts the Dragon War.
Dragons and mortals coexisted in peace for millennia and shared great cities. Dragon Priests were the intermediaries between the two and mainly were benevolent leaders.
Alas, Alduin could not control the basic instincts of Dov to conquer and control. He wanted to make himself an overlord of all Dov and mortals. Like most megalomaniacs, he could persuade others to aid in his endeavour. Most dragons did not oppose Alduin, and many Dragon Priests were seduced by power and joined the cause. The relationship between Dov and mortals changed from cooperation to enslavement. Eventually, this led to mortals turning on the dragons they once revered. This rebellion resulted in the Dragon War, as depicted in the first panel.
Are there any questions?”
I waited a few seconds, then continued.
“Okay, I will skip the middle panel for a minute and talk about the third. It shows the events of The Prophecy of The Dragonborn.
Like most prophecies, it comes from an Elder Scroll. The prophecy says,
- When misrule takes its place at the eight corners of the world
- When the Brass Tower walks and Time is reshaped
- When the thrice-blessed fail and the Red Tower trembles
- When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his throne, and the White Tower falls
- When the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding
- The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn.
“The first omen says, ‘When misrule takes its place at the eight corners of the world.’
This omen refers to the Staff of Chaos, a powerful relic that can open gateways to other worlds and obliterate all living beings. In the late Third Era, the Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn used the Staff of Chaos to imprison Emperor Uriel Septim VII within a pocket plane of Oblivion. Jagar Tharn then used Magicka to impersonate Emperor Uriel Septim VII for ten years. A period referred to as the Imperial Simulacrum.
Jagar Tharn was killed by The Eternal Champion, who also rescued the emperor from Oblivion.
After using the Staff of Chaos to imprison the emperor, Jagar Tharn broke it into eight pieces and hid them all over Tamriel. This omen is depicted in this part of Alduin’s Wall.”
I pointed to the relevant section.
I continued, “The second omen says, ‘When the Brass Tower walks and Time is reshaped.’
The Brass Tower is another name for Numidium, an enormous brass golem created by Dwemer High Craftlord Kagrenac. The Dwemer never used Numidium as they vanished before it could be activated. Tiber Septim used Numidium but to what extent is debatable. A control rod was needed to control Numidium, and Battlemage Zurin Arctus created one. The control rod was called The Totem of Tiber Septim.
Shortly after Tiber Septim had united all the countries of Tamriel under The Empire, The Underking destroyed Numidium, and The Totem of Tiber Septim was lost.
In the Third Era, The Blades were tasked with finding the parts of Numidium and The Totem of Tiber Septim. The Numidium was eventually reconstructed, but The Totem of Tiber Septim remained lost till 3E 401. A Blade found it in the Iliac Bay region. When the various kingdoms and city-states of the region heard this, they all coveted it to conquer their enemies with it.
A Dragon Break occurred, and all seven powers in the Iliac Bay then owned a Totem of Tiber Septim and a Numidium! During a Dragon Break, Nirn exists in simultaneous timelines running in parallel. Several seemingly conflicting histories are valid during this period.
At least five Numidium, collectively called Numiduma, roamed and destroyed vast areas of High Rock and Hammerfell.
The outcome of this Dragon Break is a complex subject, and I will not even try to summarise it here.
This Dragon Break became known as The Warp in The West. The Dragon Break was ended when Jills, including Silah, combined the parallel timelines into the one we live in today. The Underking destroyed the Numiduma.
Numidium is shown on Alduin’s wall here.”
I pointed to the relevant part.
I asked, “Are there no questions?”
Esbern said, “I don’t have a question, but I do find your knowledge refreshing. This lore was once part of Blade training. Is it part of Dragonguard training?”
“No, it is not. But I have been taught much history and lore by the best teachers, namely, those who lived the history and The Divines. The Nine recognised my ability to learn quickly and remember almost every detail when I was a child. That is why they asked if I would be their champion. My knowledge will save my life more often than my sword and bow. More importantly, it will save the lives of those I am sworn to protect, the mortals of Nirn.”
“You have spoken to deceased historical figures?”
“Yes, but what they are allowed to tell me is restricted by The Nine. As I solve tasks, I gain more knowledge. The Nine could tell me how Alduin was defeated, but they have deemed it more beneficial if I discover the answer by myself. I agree with their philosophy, but it can cause great stress. As I search for the answer on how to beat Alduin, his allies are killing and destroying. The Nine are willing to accept this collateral damage, but I find it hard to accept. However, they know far more than me, so I must trust their judgement on these things.”
“Please, Dragonborn, continue your fascinating explanation.”
I cleared my throat and continued, “The third omen says, ‘When the thrice-blessed fail and the Red Tower trembles.’
“Briefly, the third omen foretells of the fate that would befall The Tribunal at the hands of The Nerevarine in the late Third Era.
The fulfilment of the Nerevarine Prophecy resulted in Vivec, Almalexia and Sotha Sil losing their immortality. They are the thrice-blessed of the omen.
A large rock called Baar Dau had appeared over Vivec City during The Tribunal’s rule. Where Baar Dau originated and what it was is a point of conjecture, and I have not read anything that persuades me enough to choose a theory.
What is undeniable is that Vivec had the power to remove Baar Dau but refused to do so. He let it hover over Vivec City to remind the populace of his power and guarantee servitude.
When Vivec lost his god powers, The Daedric Prince, Clavicus Vile, helped two Dunmer, Sul and Vuhon, create a machine called The Ingenium. This machine kept Baar Dau aloft but was powered by souls. Living people were sacrificed and were selected for the strength of their souls. Vuhon had Ilzheven, Sul’s beloved, sacrificed. Sul tried to rescue her, which destroyed The Ingenium. Baar Dau crashed into Vivec City, and the shockwave caused Red Mountain to erupt. The Red Mountain is also called The Red Tower.
This part of Alduin’s Wall depicts this omen.”
I point to the relevant part of the third panel.
Inigo remarked, “Lucky for us, that was a brief explanation. My whiskers are turning grey!”
Vayu countered, “Show some respect, Inigo. Wulf is doing us a service by explaining Alduin’s Wall and his prophecy. Plus, by verbalising his thoughts, these things are clarified in Wulf’s mind.”
Inigo looked shocked and said, “I meant no offence, Vayu. But the mood is a bit sombre at the moment. I was only trying to lighten it a bit.”
I said, “Everybody, please relax. The mood is sombre, and you all know why, including Esbern.”
Delphine said, “I have no idea, but I suppose you will get to the reason for the gloominess soon enough.”
“Yes, Delphine, I will. The fourth omen says, ‘When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his throne, and the White Tower falls.’
This is a two-part omen. The first part refers to the assassination of Emperor Uriel Septim VII and the subsequent Oblivion Crises.
The second part of the omen refers to the capture of The White-Gold Tower by The Dominion during The Great War.
The Daedric rune for an Oblivion Gate is used to depict this omen.”
I pointed to the symbol on Alduin’s Wall.
“The fifth and last omen reads, ‘When the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding.’
This omen refers to the murder of High King Torygg by Ulfric Stormcloak and the subsequent civil war. That has left Skyrim kingless.
Skyrim is often symbolised by The Throat of the World, also known as the Snow Tower. The civil war has divided Skyrim into two factions. It has been sundered. The artisans have depicted this omen by the allegorical sundering of The Throat of the World.”
I pointed to the depiction of The Throat of the Word being rent in half.
I concluded, “These five omens lead to the prophecy’s outcome, ‘The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn.’
Alduin is here, and so am I. I doubt that I will be the Last Dragonborn. Perhaps it should have said latest instead of last.
The outcome is depicted by this very Nord looking character fighting a very ugly Alduin. You can see the Akaviri symbol for Dragonborn above his head, and they have depicted a Shout issuing from his mouth. He is winning by the reaction of the three Dragonguard raising their swords in triumph.”
I pointed to the Dragonborn and three happy accomplices.
I asked, “Are there any questions?”
After a few seconds, I proceed to discuss the remaining panel.
“The second panel depicts three Tongues making Alduin fall from the sky. You can tell he is falling by the position of his head and wings. He doesn’t look too pleased about it!
The three Tongues depicted are well known to historians. The one on the left is Hakon One-Eye. He was a Nord warrior of great skill.
The Tongue in the middle is Felldir the Old, a mage. Due to Nordic bias, Felldir is not referred to as such. You can’t have a milk-drinking spell caster be a Nord hero! At least they have depicted him holding a staff on Alduin’s Wall.
The third Tongue is Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, a Nord Swordmaiden who was also of great skill. She did not survive the final fight with Alduin.
Notice that Hakon and Gormlaith are Shouting while Felldir seems to be talking. He is not casting a spell as his hands would not be as they are.
There is nothing on Alduin’s Wall or within Sky Haven Temple to tell us what Shout the Tongues are using or what Felldir is doing.
The Shouts issued by Gormlaith and Hakon may have inflicted the final bit of damage which made Alduin land, as all dragons do when injured enough.
Or, the same Shout was used by both Tongues, and it forced Alduin to land no matter his level of damage. That Shout would be of tremendous use against all dragons but essential when fighting Alduin. He cannot be harmed when flying, so the only way to defeat him is to make him land.
Whatever Felldir is doing must be an essential part of Alduin’s defeat, or they would not have depicted it on Alduin’s Wall. This depiction of the three Tongues suggests The Akaviri had some idea of what occurred but not the specifics.”
- Esbern: I agree that Alduin is falling from the sky.
- Delphine: Wulf, have you ever heard of a Shout that can knock a dragon out of the sky?
- Wulf: No, and I doubt The Greybeards will know it. It would be incompatible with The Way of The Voice. Therefore, I will ask Paarthurnax.
- Esbern: But isn’t Paarthurnax their leader?
- Wulf: Remember he taught mortals how to use The Voice. He knew and used an extensive array of Shouts when he was Alduin’s lieutenant. He had no qualms teaching those Shouts to mortals. Even though he now follows The Way of The Voice, he would not hesitate to teach me this particular Shout.
- Vayu: Wulf, you are being surprisingly calm. I expected you to be livid.
- Wulf: I am a bit annoyed.
- Esbern: Why is that?
- Wulf: Do you hold the same grudges against The Greybeards as Delphine?
- Esbern: Possibly. Why do you ask?
- Wulf: The best and most comprehensive source of Dragonlore resides with those who live with one. Have you ever climbed the 7000 steps and read the emblems?
- Esbern: No.
- Wulf: What about you, Delphine?
- Delphine: I haven’t either.
- Wulf: The emblems tell part of the Dragonlore known by The Greybeards. Hundreds of pilgrims have climbed the steps each week since 1E 707 when High Hrothgar was constructed. Even if you don’t climb the steps, the contents of the emblems are detailed in many well-respected scholarly works. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of people learnt what happened to Alduin but not you, Esbern.
- Esbern: Yes, I ignored the writing of The Greybeards due to bias.
- Wulf: There is no great harm done. I did not refer to Greybeard literature, so I was ignorant of an essential fact until a month ago. You must remember that I have only been in Skyrim for a few months. I had access to vast resources and didn’t ignore Greybeard literature out of bias but made an incorrect assumption that what I read covered everything known.
- Delphine: What do the emblems say?
- Wulf: Part of the fifth emblem says, ‘Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world.’
- Delphine: So, you have known that a Shout was used all along?
- Wulf: For the last month, yes. I hoped Alduin’s Wall would teach me that shout.
- Vayu: But now you know there is more to it than a Shout.
- Wulf: I suspect so, with how Felldir is depicted. That is why viewing Alduin’s Wall has been successful in another way.
- Delphine: What’s next, apart from your visit to Paarthurnax?
- Wulf: I want to start recruiting new Blades and use this temple as headquarters. As Grandmaster of The Dragonguard, Vayu outranks you, Delphine. However, you can stay here and remain in charge of The Blades when Vayu is absent.
- Delphine: I was going to suggest that Esbern and I stay here. We might butt heads, but he will soon have a family to support. Therefore I will gift Sleeping Giant Inn to Orgnar.
- Esbern: Will Forsworn enter the temple now that the Akaviri guards are gone?
- Wulf: Some of them will return. Their duty to protect the temple did not end with my arrival.
- Vayu: Dragonguard will rotate through here to help train the recruits.
- Esbern: Won’t the dragons simply disperse once you defeat Alduin?
- Wulf: Many that are friendly to us will remain. There will be the odd one who can’t overcome the need for battle and conquest.
- Vayu: The Blades were far more than dragonslayers. Wulf is working out a way to bypass The White-Gold Concordat’s outlawing of The Blades.
- Delphine: What are you planning, Wulf?
- Wulf: That The Dragonguard be officially recognised as an independent unit of The Imperial Army, similar to the Penitus Oculatus. We can be a more official form of The Dawnguard and Vigilants of Stendarr. I haven’t had any dealings with The Dawnguard yet, but The Vigilants are out of control.
- Vayu: We can’t call a Blade a Dragonguard without them passing the trials. But we can name you Apprentice Dragonguard.
- Esbern: I would be the oldest apprentice in history!
- Wulf: Some Mer apprentices don’t start till they are two hundred years of age.
- Esbern: Oh.
- Wulf: There is a portal to Oblivion on the top balcony. I will enter it and see why it is here and, if necessary, close it.
- Esbern: Is that wise?
- Wulf: No, but it is necessary.
We made our way to the portal while Delphine and Esbern animatedly discussed potential recruits.
Inigo asked, “Do you know what you are walking into?”
“The glowing sword is an Akaviri Ancestral Sword. It is an ancient design and must have been passed down dozens of times. So, the location of the portal and that sword tells me the pocket plane in Oblivion has something to do with a Dragonguard.”
“You can’t ignore this portal, can you?”
“No, so the quicker I enter, the quicker I can return.”
I stepped into the portal and was transported to a replica of Sky Haven Temple.
The Imperial Army had laid siege to the temple.
At first, I only encountered dead legionnaires. Their armour was of an early design.
When I encountered deceased defenders, they were Akaviri Dragonguard from when the temple on Nirn was sealed.
Standing next to Alduin’s Wall was what at first appeared to be an Akaviri Shaman. Looking at his Aura showed that assumption to be wrong. If he was a mortal, he shared his soul with something else.
I said to him in Tsaesci, “I am Wulf, The Dragonborn. I expect you to obey your oath as Dragonguard and remain civil while we speak. My weapons will remain sheathed as I approach.”
I strolled toward the shaman, who remained silent. Then he charged at me, and I knew he could kill me with a single blow.
Unrelenting Force staggered him.
However, he soon recovered, and his speed was unnatural.
I hit him with Fire Breath Shout, which bothered him more than Unrelenting Force.
I then Shouted Slow Time and started cutting into him as fast as possible.
I inflicted more wounds on him than I had ever had to do on a dragon before he collapsed.
A golden flame emanated from the corpse. Then I realised it was not a mortal’s body I had been cutting into.
The flames dissipated and left behind the fake body of my assailant.
I picked up the Heirloom Sword. It was sentient, and the being within tried to penetrate my mind barrier but could not. I could sense its anger and need to kill. On the blade was the name Zalri-vagruk. I shuddered as I searched the being’s soul and found a remnant of the consumed soul. It was corrupted beyond redemption. His name was Commander Zalri-vagruk.
I asked telepathically, “Why this scenario?”
“It keeps me amused. Emperor Kastav threatened to sack the temple. The people of Winterhold tried. We killed many of those we were sworn to protect. It should have been Kastav and his soldiers we killed. The door to madness opened, and I stepped through. It was easy to consume the soul and live as a mortal. Nobody knew what Commander Zalri-vagruk had become until Akamizu tried to make me undead. Then we fought, but she was too strong and banished me to whence I came. This is my realm. I created all you see and replay the battle when I desire. I am a good sword. Don’t you want to wield me?”
“Akamizu left a portal to this realm hoping that somebody would defeat and destroy you. It will take a long time for you to be powerful enough to cross into Mundus. I won’t give you that time. I will place you into my journal case, a pocket plane of Aetherius. You will cease to exist, and this sword will be just another sword.”
The being beat at my mind shield as I lowered the sword into my journal case.
I closed my journal case and hastened towards the exit. Since its creator no longer exists, the chaos of Oblivion will quickly consume the pocket plane.
I was relieved when I returned to Mundus.
Inigo asked, “My friend, what happened?”
“I will explain as we travel, Inigo, for it is quite a tale. Let us have a look at the garden. I have not checked that part of the temple.”
We exited into the garden. It was in remarkedly good condition, so I assume Akamizu tended to it.
The group wandered around, admiring the Cherry Blossoms and views.
As I admired the views, I guessed the things Rigmor would point out and what she would say. I was brought back to reality by Lydia urgently calling my name.
I turned to find a worried looking Lydia accompanying Inigo.
- Wulf: Is something wrong?
- Lydia: Inigo just had two of those episodes in quick succession.
- Wulf: That is a worry! Sorry. I was admiring the view and thinking how Rigmor would like it and did not hear anything.
- Inigo: They happened over the other side of the garden.
- Lydia: Both times, he cried out in pain. We have to do something!
- Wulf: Inigo, did you see anything this time.
- Inigo: Yes. I saw brief flashes of a cabin in the snow with the first one. Trees surrounded the cabin.
- Wulf: Do you recognise the cabin?
- Inigo: No, but something about the landscape was familiar. I wish I remembered where I had seen it before.
- Wulf: Did you see anything else?
- Inigo: A man, perhaps. A bearded man. I did not recognise him. The flashes were very fast and confusing.
- Wulf: That bearded man is the one trying to summon you and has been trying to transmit the location where he wants you to teleport. Was the tugging sensation stronger?
- Inigo: Yes, but the next one was far stronger.
- Lydia: The pain must have been extreme. When he yelled out, his legs gave way! I had to catch him before he fell to the ground.
- Wulf: On the other side of the garden or not, I should have heard that. Thoughts of Rigmor are distracting me.
- Lydia: And that is not a crime, Wulf!
- Wulf: What did you see with the second episode, Inigo?
- Inigo: I saw wooden posts upright in the snow and a ruined watchtower. I also saw the cabin once more.
- Wulf: The bearded man is giving you more clues about his location. He is doing it wrong and has no idea how teleportation and summoning work.
- Inigo: I recognise the watchtower. It is called Snowpoint Beacon and is not far from Dawnstar. I once camped there.
- Wulf: Point it out on my map.
Inigo pointed to an area where many forts exist.
- Wulf: Okay, we will teleport to Dawnstar and walk from there.
- Inigo: But my friend, you wanted to get the armour and visit The Greybeards.
- Wulf: Inigo, those things can wait. Intentionally or not, the bearded man poses a danger to you. Stopping you from being harmed is now my priority.
- Lydia: Wulf would do the same for any of us.
I gathered the group together and explained the situation. Vayu agreed that we needed to stop the bearded man immediately.
We teleported to the Khajiiti caravan camp just outside of Dawnstar.
Silah appeared from the ether and said, “Aha, there you are, which confirms how Alduin does it.”
“Hello, Silah. It is nice to see you as well.”
Silah looked into the distance and said, “There is no time to be petty, Wulf. A goblin war party is attacking a weird looking person. I mean, he is even weirder than you!”
The Khajiit guards mobilised and started shooting at a goblin. Silah landed in the distance with a reverberating thump. A reindeer with a saddle was running from the goblins.
I yelled to the group, “The goblins have attacked Agrane Peryval. He is a merchant of children’s toys and clothing. Let us hope we are not too late to save him!”
I noticed many Khajiit orphans joined in the fight. City dwellers or not, they knew how to defend their pride.
I found Agrane badly injured.
I cast Grand Healing on him and told him to get to the Khajiiti camp.
I then continued to hunt goblins.
The last enemy I killed was not a goblin but a bandit who had decided to attack the Khajiiti.
He was peppered with arrows and begged for mercy.
I cut his head off and then healed some of the injured.
The fight had travelled far, and I was surprised to find a Shrine of Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order. I was even more surprised to find Jyggalag represented in female form.
We made our way back to the road leading to Dawnstar and started crossing inland towards Snowpoint Beacon.
Snowpoint Beacon came into view.
As we passed a keep, we were attacked by its occupiers. At the front of the keep were werewolf skulls impaled on stakes.
The enemy soon realised they had made a mistake. The two I killed watched my sword as it plunged into them.
Inigo was not pleased.
- Inigo: Who are they?
- Wulf: Did you notice they all used silver weapons?
- Inigo: Yes. They even fired silver arrows.
- Vayu: And what is with the werewolf heads on stakes?
- Wulf: They are called The Silver Hand. They hate werewolves and are fanatics. Not all werewolves deserve to die, but these morons don’t care. I would enter their keep and wipe them out if I had the time. However, we don’t want the bearded man to try summoning you again, Inigo. Let’s keep moving.
As we approached Snowpoint Beacon, Inigo said, “I hope my mind vibrations aren’t leading us into a trap, my friend.”
Seconds later, when the entirety of Snowpoint Beacon came into view. I stopped to scan the tower with Night-Vision. Inigo ran ahead, not caring if there was a trap!
We ran to catch up. When we entered the tower, we saw Inigo make short work of two bandits.
I heard an Orsimer bandit outside who was muttering to himself. When I came up behind him, he seemed oblivious to the fight that had just concluded inside the tower.
I killed him.
I then returned to Inigo, who said, “Okay, this is Snowpoint Beacon. Next, we need to find the wooden posts I saw. They must be close.”
“In my vision, the posts were worn and weather-beaten. According to my nose, all the wood here seems to have been cut fairly recently. I can also smell stone and ice and… Wait! I can smell old timber. This way, my friend!”
Inigo exited the tower and ran. I could keep up with him, but the others lagged. Being a Khajiiti, he is far faster than other bipeds.
Inigo stopped next to a stake with a flag on top. They are often used as trail markers.
I said to him, “Do not run ahead, Inigo. You have done it twice, and it is foolish. We may be too late to save you if a dragon spots you. You didn’t know what was in the tower before you entered. It could have been twenty bandits, not two!”
“I am sorry, my friend. But the source of my vibrations is east of here. I am sure of it!”
“Yes, I understand your eagerness to stop this summoning, but you don’t want to die from something else!”
“Well, the cabin must be nearby. These are the posts from my vision. Come on, let’s follow them.”
“Any new flashes?”
“No, but we are on the right path. I am glad you are all by my side. Let us push on.”
The others caught up, and we headed up the path. I could see the giant Shrine of Azura in the distance.
We could be at the arse end of the world where nobody lives and still encounter suicidal bandits. What makes them think they can attack five heavily armed and armoured people and survive?
Too late they realised it was us five and an enormous dragon!
We soon cut them down.
Then Silah warned, “There is a Dwemer abomination at Alftand!”
I looked over at Alftand, and sitting atop one of the ancient Dwemer buildings was a Dragon Automaton.
I used Zoom-Vision to have a closer look.
The Dwemer took the souls from dragons and placed them inside mechanical replicas. Dragon Automatons can be extremely powerful and numerous. If you destroy one, another will appear soon after. Nobody knows how many dragon souls the Dwemer stored for this purpose.
Vayu said, “We have read about them. I never thought we would see one.”
“It seems they have responded to Alduin’s return. I doubt they are his allies, but they will be hostile.”
“Yes, they are territorial. That is why it hasn’t risen to fight Silah.”
“Well, unless we visit Alftand, we shall ignore it.”
Inigo called out, “The cabin is at the top of that ramp!”
We climbed the ramp and steep incline and came to a small cabin.
Inigo said, “Thank the gods. I am not crazy. There it is… the cabin I saw. My friend, I bet you a hundred septims the door is locked tight.”
“Make it two hundred, and I will blow it off its hinges with a Shout. It wouldn’t be locked tight then.”
“Very funny. I think I have a solution, though.”
“We could knock, and if they ask who it is, we say, ‘We are missionaries spreading the word of The Divines. Can we come inside and talk to you about the gods?’”
“Maybe there is danger inside. If so, I would rather any occupants did not know we were coming!”
“I had better hold that fart in then.”
The rest of the group chuckled. Inigo, however, was a more challenging audience. He said, “During one of my painful episodes, I remember something was under a rug. Give me a moment.”
Inigo ran up some steps leading to the front veranda of the cabin. He then knelt and retrieved something from under the front doormat.
He exclaimed, “Yes, here it is, a key.”
Inigo stood then said, “My mother used to do the same thing. She also used to hide a spare key under the rug.”
Inigo handed me the key saying, “Why don’t you do the honours. My hands are uncharacteristically shaky for some reason.”
I whispered to everybody, “Weapons sheathed. If they are not hostile, we don’t want to scare the crap out of them.”
“Crap?” asked Lydia.
Seiko explained, “I think he means shit.”
“Well, why didn’t he just say shit?”
“He is trying to be polite in front of the ladies.”
“Well, that is fucking stupid!”
I stared at Lydia, who gave me an angelic smile in return.
I shook my head and then opened the door. We all entered the cabin.
There was a painting of Inigo opposite the door, so it was the first thing we noticed.
Inigo asked, “Is that a picture of me?”
“Yes, and it is probably meant to scare anybody coming through the door.”
“Not funny! What is this place? Let us look around.”
Apart from the coloured picture of Inigo, there were other paintings, including one of him looking decidedly dark and foreboding.
Shelves held a strange assortment of items, such as a helmet and a giant’s club.
The cabin occupier, and probably the summoner, was asleep.
I asked Inigo, “Well, what do you think?”
Inigo replied, “This is unsettling, but I do not sense danger here.”
“Is the bearded man on the bed the one from your visions?”
“Yes, I saw him during one of my episodes.”
“What do you want to do?”
“This room smells like forgotten memories. Maybe we should wake the owner.”
I walked over, gently shook the man’s shoulder, and then stepped back.
As he got out of bed, the man looked around and said, “Oh my, You’re… you’re here. I was beginning to lose hope.”
“Lose hope about what?”
“Not you, you barbarian! Get out of my way!”
“Get out of my way!”
Amused by his lack of manners, I stepped back and let Inigo deal with him.
- Langley: Inigo? Is it really you? Or am I dreaming?
- Inigo: That is my name, and let me tell you this, if you insult my friend again, I will be forced to harm you. Do we have an understanding?
- Langley: My apologies. I am often too terse for my own good. I mean nothing by it, I assure you.
- Inigo: Okay. My friend here is the legendary Dragonborn and deserves your respect.
- Wulf: No, Inigo, I have earned respect by merely being another person. Civility costs nothing.
- Langley: Well, I’m sure you make quite a team, Inigo, but it is you who I have been seeking all these years. I’m so glad you are still alive.
- Inigo: Who are you? Why have you been seeking me?
- Langley: My name is Langley. Langley Longseer to some. Dear boy, I have much to tell you. How did you find me?
- Inigo: I started to get brief, painful visions a while ago. They showed me flashes of this place and you. I also felt a nasty, tugging sensation.
- Langley: At least the spell works. Not entirely as intended, but it got you here in the end. I was about ready to string that Conjuration mage up by his toes.
- Wulf: You cannot summon somebody you haven’t met. You also need the requisite skills.
- Langley: What would you know?
- Wulf: I know far more than you about summoning.
- Langley: I doubt it. But anyway, Inigo, I’ve been trying to locate you for quite some time. I even travelled to Riverhold. I found your parents shortly after they died; gods rest their souls. Oh dear, you do know about that, don’t you?
- Inigo: They were killed protecting a trading caravan. I heard. Were you there?
- Langley: Yes. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry for all your losses. In a way, I’ve been travelling with you. Just a step behind.
- Inigo: Did my mother and father die well?
- Langley: They met their end with dignity. They died holding hands. I was the one who found them, and I made sure they had a fine burial.
- Inigo: Why were you there? Were you looking for me even then?
- Langley: I had hoped they could lead me to you. I continued to track you for years, and then the trail went cold… after I found your brother.
- Inigo: You found Fergus? How? Have you always been hiding in my past, haunting every step I take? Why? I do not know you! What do you want from me?
- Langley: I have come to know you very well. I am your friend, Inigo. Perhaps the greatest friend you have. We are destined to work together!
Inigo looked towards us, then back at Langley.
- Inigo: I already have the only friends I need.
- Langley: You don’t understand. There’s a great evil coming. I don’t know when exactly, but it is close. I’ve seen it in my dreams. You are there too. You are the champion destined to destroy the Doom Strider.
- Inigo: What are you talking about? The Doom Strider?
- Langley: Yes, The very avatar of destruction and death. It is the demon that has plagued my dreams for decades.
- Inigo: I… I need to sit down.
- Langley: Take a seat. Rest, and I’ll tell you all I know. I’ve been keeping a note of everything.
Inigo turned to me and said, “I am sorry, my friend. I need a moment. My legs are a little wobbly all of a sudden.
Langley said, “Go and sit down. It is a lot to take in, I know. Make no mistake, Inigo, you are safe here. You all are.”
Inigo walked to the table and sat. Langley approached me.
He said, “Inigo and I have much to discuss. I don’t wish to be rude, but perhaps it is best if you leave us to it for a bit. If you could do something for me, I’d be most grateful.”
“I will give Inigo a minute and then ask him if he wishes me to leave. That decision is his to make, not yours.”
“Inigo may trust you, but I don’t know you at all, and I’d rather speak to him alone for a bit. Much of what I have to say is personal. If you are half the friend he thinks you are, I’m sure you understand. I’m not asking you to go very far. I just need you to do something for me.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“Fetch some eggs. Six Snow Thrush Eggs, to be precise.”
“No! We do not know you at all, and I certainly do not trust you! As I said before, it is up to Inigo if I leave him in here alone with you or not. And if you lie to me once more, I will punch you in the face!”
“You want me out of the cottage, so lied about needing me to fetch the eggs. Am I correct?”
Langley turned red. He was trying my patience.
I continued, “Also, your rudeness earlier was way out of place!”
“I don’t appreciate your inability to pay attention. I already apologised for my… initial greeting. It is not my fault you weren’t listening.”
“I was listening, and your rudeness had nothing to do with your moronic words. Your tone and body language told me what I needed to know. Your apology was insincere!”
“I can’t help that. Emotional honesty has always been my greatest weakness. I have a fiery temperament I can’t always control.”
“Langley, be warned. You had better try to control your temperament if you will deal with my friends or me!”
I turned my back on Langley and walked over to Inigo.
I asked him, “Are you okay? You did look a bit queasy before.”
“I’m a bit shaken by how well this man seems to know me, but I’ll be alright. I wonder what else he has to say. I hope my poor mind can take it.”
“Langley wants me to leave you two alone in here. Are you comfortable with that?”
“He seems to have a lot to tell me, and sadly I don’t think he will do it with you here.”
“I don’t trust him. I already caught him in a lie.”
“I don’t sense danger here, but perhaps you shouldn’t go too far from this house. If you hear any screams of agony, come running, okay?”
I will leave the others here. They will move to the other end of the room. If Langley doesn’t agree to that, we leave right now but not before I ensure he never tries to summon you again.
I returned to Langley.
“Langley, you don’t trust The Dragonborn, which makes me suspicious of your motives. I will wait outside while you talk to Inigo, but my friends will remain inside. They will move to this end of the room and keep watch over you and Inigo. Agree to this, or we leave.”
“But what I have to say to Inigo is personal.”
“Agree, or we leave. There is no negotiation.”
“Okay, I agree.”
I called out to the group, “I will wait outside while Inigo and Langley have a chat. Please stay over this side of the room and be discreet.”
Lydia replied, “What is that term you use, Wulf? Oh, that’s right, I remember. Langley is a wanker!”
I left the cottage to peals of laughter.
There is a very prominent statue of Talos that can be seen for miles out the front of the property. It would attract Thalmor attention, and I would not be surprised to find Langley has not been here long and found the previous occupants missing.
Silah warned, “A war party of Goblins is about to make their way up the ramp leading to the cottage!”
I placed myself at the top of the ramp and said hello to the goblins with Fireballs.
The stench of roasted goblin filled the air.
Silah then said, “Another abomination just landed.”
I looked over to Alftand and saw the second Dragon Automaton.
As we waited for Langley to finish his ‘private’ talk with Inigo, I explained to Silah what we found in the cottage and at Sky Haven Temple.
When I mentioned Nafaalilargus, she laughed and said, “Most dragons have an ego. None compare to Nafaalilargus’. He is vain, arrogant, and greedy but a genuine ally and friend. Beware, Wulf, for where he resides is one of the time anomalies I have studied. From what I can tell, splinters of parallel time are terminating there.”
“Please, explain without sending me into a coma with gobblygook.”
“You know that every action creates an infinite number of potential timelines.”
“Yes. For instance, if I blink, I create infinite timelines slightly different from if I didn’t blink. The length of the blink also creates infinite timelines slightly different from each other.”
“Very rarely, parallel timelines come into being with no action we can determine causing them. We call them splinters. They are short-lived and can be regarded as an isolated Dragon Break. The splinters usually resolve themselves, and Jills do not need to deal with them. I have no idea what you would experience if you entered Nafaalilargus’ abode. I suspect your Dragon Soul will help you deal with the anomaly.”
“Who restored Nafaalilargus?”
“I have no idea. Don’t be surprised if Nafaalilargus doesn’t know.”
Lydia stuck her head out of Langley’s door and told me they had finished chatting.
I entered the cottage and then walked up to Langley.
He said, “Inigo and I have had a bit of a chat, and he’s persuaded me that you can be trusted. It seems we are in this together. I have given him my notes, and I’m sure he’ll let you read through everything. If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.”
“You needed a former bandit and Skooma addict to convince you to trust The Dragonborn?”
“Yes. Why, is there something strange about that?”
“Nevermind. I would like to speak to Inigo in private.”
Langley walked away, and I sat opposite Inigo.
I said, “Well?”
“This Langley fellow may be rude and gruff, but he’s on our side. He gave me some books. He found my father’s journal! Can you believe it? He also gave me two books he’s written about his search for me. They contain a lot of information about how important I am. They are excellent books but also sad. Apparently, I have my own prophecy. If you want to hear more about it, I’ll tell you what I know. Langley says we are going to save the world. That is, of course, unless you think we have something better to do.”
“We shall talk prophecy in a minute. More important at the moment is your health. How is your head?”
“It is still a little tender. Oh, that reminds me. You should explain to Langley about the summoning spell. He has a spare copy. Maybe he will let you read it and figure out if he can use it.”
“Believe me, Inigo, I will talk to Langley about that spell!”
“Don’t strangle him!”
“No promises. Now, tell me about your prophecy.”
“I will tell you what I know.”
“There is no need to worry about it sounding unlikely.”
“Okay, here is The Inigo Prophecy. There is a very nasty being gathering its strength somewhere out there. If left unchecked, it will grow until its evil influence burns away all that is good in this world. For many years, it has appeared in Langley’s dreams often as a gigantic figure striding through the land, leaving nothing but pain, anguish, and death in its wake. He calls it The Doom Strider. He sometimes sees a handsome blue Khajiit defeat the menace with his help in the same dream. He calls this fellow The Champion. That is me, my friend. Much of Langley’s prophecy is hazy, and he says that sometimes his dreams show more than one outcome, but now he and I have finally met, he believes we stand a good chance of preventing much suffering.”
“Standard prophecy stuff so far except no mention of any other source except his dreams. Can I ask you for some details?”
“Of course. What details can I help you with?”
“What can you tell me about The Doom Strider?”
“Not much, I’m afraid. Langley is the man to ask about that. I know that I am destined to fight whoever and whatever it is. I hope you will be at my side when the time comes, my friend. Of course, I will do my best to keep this from interfering with my debt to you.”
“You are my friend, and that is why I will be with you all the way, Inigo. Please, no more mention of debt. There isn’t one!”
“It warms my heart to hear you say that, my friend. With your help, I know I can finally put some good back into this world.”
“Tell me about the books Langley gave you.”
“They are called ‘In Search of a Champion’ and ‘Da Vinci’s Journal’. My father wrote the journal, and Langley wrote the other one. Langley’s book is in two volumes and contains the story of his search for me and a few tales about Fergus and me. The journal is my father’s account of our upbringing. In my opinion, these books are informative and quite moving.”
“They are precious things Langley has given you.”
“Yes, they are indeed precious things.”
“Did you find out anything about your birth parents?”
“Like all Khajiiti, my physical characteristics were determined by the moons at my birth. I seem to be the product of a very rare celestial alignment that only occurs briefly every few hundred years or so. In the backward village where I was born, a blue child was seen as a bad moon omen. I would have been sacrificed if my birth mother had not smuggled Fergus and me away.”
“Was Fergus also in danger?”
“We were not identical, but we were twins. Perhaps his life was forfeit by association. Whatever the case, I like to think that my birth mother could not bear the idea of separating us.”
“I assume he wasn’t blue due to a change in the celestial alignment.”
“Correct. I can only guess that there was enough time for the moons to shift between our births. Langley thinks the alignment that produced me may only last for a few moments. I am incredibly unique, my friend.”
“Tell me what you think of Langley.”
“He is interesting.”
“I will take your word on that. How do Langley’s visions work?”
“Langley has dreams that often come true. He usually foresees the beginning, the middle, or the end of a future event, but never all three. So, he may know that a man at the market will get into a fight but won’t know why. Or he will see a dead man at the market but not know how he died. To make matters worse, he sometimes sees two or more possible endings. Until we met, he couldn’t be sure that we ever would. He is understandably relieved.”
“He sounds like a typical seer. He is far from unique with his foresight. Tell me about his search for you.”
“All he knew, in the beginning, was that The Champion was Khajiiti, avoided death at an early age, and had blue fur. He finally heard about a remote village among the shifting sands of Elsweyr that ritualistically sacrifices any child born among their number whose fur is blue. He deduced that The Champion was likely a blue child from this village that somehow escaped their fate. He set off in search of the village, but he found Riverhold and heard about me on the way. However, that was a few years after Fergus, and I left to find our fortune, so he began to track us. Along the way, he heard tales about my brother and me. He even collected mementoes from our endeavours. You can see a few of them on those shelves by the chest. After finding Fergus lying among the remains of our camp, he lost track of me. The years went by, and he grew weary. Langley eventually returned here and employed a group of adventurers to continue the search for me and to look for any signs of The Doom Strider. He also paid a Conjuration mage to concoct a Summon Inigo spell. As you deduced, my mind vibrations resulted from him trying unsuccessfully to use the spell.”
“No wonder you are blue. You said all that without taking a breath! What happens next?”
“We wait for Langley to receive more information, either from his sources or dreams. When he hears something new, he will let us know.”
“I hope he will not rely on giving you a headache to contact us!”
“That was his plan.”
“A terrible plan, but we have time to figure out something else. I think I had better go talk to him.”
“I will stay here, my friend. I feel you will speak a lot of gobblygook, and my brain is still recovering.”
I walked over to Langley and just knew he would test my temper.
I explained, “I would like to know more about your prophecy.”
“The Inigo Prophecy, yes. What do you want to know?”
“Everything you deem relevant.”
“Oh dear, I don’t have time for that. Inigo knows and fair bit, and you have those books I gave him. They will be useful if you know how to read. However, you look like you might have trouble with some bigger words.”
“I will read them, but I hope you have not applied floccinaucinihilipilification to your writing. Please, forgive my sesquipedalianism, but it is a trait of my Dragonblood. Such tomes as yours are not impedimenta to me but the opposite. That is assuming you have written without tergiversation, equivocation, circumlocution or prevarication.”
“What chance do you give of your prophecy coming to pass?”
“On average, the accuracy of my visions is about ninety per cent. That percentage goes up when the event I predict is closer in time and, or the subjects of the event are known to me. The fact that Inigo and I have now met and had a chat suggests the chance that the rest of my vision will come to pass has increased substantially. Do you follow?”
“Absolutely. My very existence on Nirn at this precise time was written in prophecy on an Elder Scroll.”
“Oh, um, good.”
“What can you tell me about the Doom Strider?”
“I’m horrified by how little I know on the subject. I think it’s human, or I believe it walks in human form. My dreams and visions are often metaphorical, so it’s hard to discern precisely what the Doom Strider is or the nature of the destruction it will bring.”
“So, for instance, it could be a plague carrier that walks the land, causing death and devastation through disease rather than war or physical damage.”
“Yes, I suppose it could be. But Inigo’s skillset revolves around killing, so I think it is more likely that The Doom Strider has a corporeal form.”
“The Doom Strider could be corporeal and still be a plague carrier.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Describe what the Doom Strider looks like in your dreams.”
“There are two dreams. In both, I see a towering, dead minded, red-eyed monstrosity walking the world, leaving sorrow, death and despair in its wake. The very gods are powerless to intervene. In one vision, I see them watch in horror as Nirn decays and rots.”
“And Inigo saves the day in your other vision?”
“Yes. It starts in much the same way, but The Champion is there to stop The Doom Strider this time. I see a baby blue Khajiit elude death before his first birthday. I see him grow into a great warrior. I see him and me talking in earnest, and the gods rejoice as he defeats the demon.”
“You do realise the gods are always powerless to intervene and need mortal champions like The Vestige, The Nerevarine and others, including me. Recently I had to stop a god from conquering Nirn. Soon, I will have to stop Alduin from enslaving all mortals. So, if this is a true prophecy, Inigo may indeed be such a champion, and the gods will rely on him to save Nirn.”
“What do you mean if this is a true prophecy?”
“The only place The Inigo Prophecy is mentioned is in your writings, and it is a product of your brain. Any additional evidence is yet to be presented to confirm it. Your forcing an eventual meeting with Inigo does not indicate that the prophecy is true. The people of Tamriel suffered for nearly two thousand years because a few who sought power promoted the false prophecies of one mortal. So, forgive me if I remain sceptical until I encounter independent verification. I will not express my doubts to Inigo, but I hope for your sake this is not a load of bullshit, intentional or not.”
“Do you think I am making this up?”
“I am saying you have no evidence. That is not the same as saying you are a liar or are mistaken. So put your ego away and tell me how Inigo defeats the Doom Strider.”
“That is unclear to me. Perhaps now that Inigo and I are known to one another, my dreams will provide a clearer picture. I’ll be sure to keep him posted.”
“If Inigo spent more time with you, would that help to clarify your foresight?”
“It may well do.”
“Then I will suggest he considers spending time here when he is not accompanying me if that is agreeable to you.”
“Yes. I was going to suggest that anyway, so I am glad we are in agreeance.”
“You are a learned man. Can you enlighten me as to where you were taught?”
“I’m a native of Skyrim, but I moved to Cyrodiil in my teens. I had a talent for magic, and I was packed off to the Imperial City on an apprenticeship. I never joined a guild or anything. I received my training from an angry little man called Barton Barius. Bit of a pyromaniac but a decent sort, really. He never used his power against humans and wouldn’t hear of it, but he enjoyed burning everything else. Anyway, he taught me a great deal about Destruction Magicka, alchemy and even how to hone my visions. He imbued in me a thirst for knowledge, and I soon began researching various subjects outside the discipline of magic. When I returned to Skyrim, I travelled the Holds making gold by predicting the weather for farmers, but my main focus soon became science.”
“The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experimentation.”
“Oh, you know of the discipline.”
“It has its uses, but sometimes you just have to accept the metaphysical is beyond our comprehension. Many have wasted their lives trying to figure out why rather than just accepting what is. But the gods will not give you a better plough or more efficient irrigation. They gave mortals free will and the capacity to think. Using science to improve the life of mortals is what the gods want. The Dwemer used science to try and compete with the gods that made them. They dabbled in the metaphysical when they should have concerned themselves only with the physical. They would still be here if they had left some things unanswered.”
“That requires a common sense that few people possess.”
“I need to speak to you about the Summon Inigo Spell.”
“It’s rubbish! Tosh! It hardly works at all. It gives poor Inigo vague directions to the summoner and a headache.”
“You cannot summon somebody you have never met. You might have a better chance once you get to know Inigo better.”
“I followed the instructions dutifully. There’s no reason it shouldn’t work. No one knows Inigo better than I do.”
“You don’t know Inigo well enough, and even if you did, you probably don’t have the skills necessary.”
“The Conjuration mage who created the spell told me that as long as I was Inigo’s true friend, I should be able to get it to work.”
“I am telling you, as a Master of Conjuration and expert on summoning, you can’t summon somebody you have never met like you tried to do. You are far from knowing Inigo even a fraction as well as I do and certainly not enough to summon him.”
“How egocentric! You’ve just met him, relatively speaking. I’ve been tracking him most of my life!”
“Are you listening to what I have to say?”
“No, if the spell doesn’t work for me, it won’t work for anyone. Isn’t that right, Inigo?”
Inigo came over and joined the discussion.
- Inigo: Langley, I think you should let him try it.
- Langley: Exactly… What! Why?
- Inigo: Langley, I am sure we are great allies in the making, but my friend here and I have a more immediate bond. Plus, Wulf is an expert on summoning.
- Langley: A more immediate bond? Oh, I didn’t realise you were an item.
- Inigo: Hahaha. Not that type of bond. We have travelled together, lived together and fought together. We have shared our views on many subjects. I have placed my life in his hands and vice versa. What I am trying to say is this, we are friends. Go on, hand over a copy of the spell. I am the only one who will suffer if it goes wrong.
- Langley: I see. I won’t argue with you. Even though it’s a waste of time, I will do as you ask.
- Inigo: Thank you. What is the worst that can happen?
- Langley: You don’t want to know.
- Wulf: I might make it work, then Langley dies of a broken ego! Would that be the worst thing to happen? That is debatable.
Inigo burst out laughing while Langley turned bright red. I was getting tired of his posturing.
- Langley: If we’re going to do this, we must be scientific. Inigo, you stay here, and The Dragonborn and I will go outside.
- Inigo: Okay.
- Langley: Dragonborn, once we are on the path, I’ll give you the spell, and then you can try, unsuccessfully, to teleport Inigo to us. Stare vacantly ahead if you understand.
- Wulf: There is nothing scientific about that! What you are suggesting is the logical procedure, not science. I am starting to wonder if you know what science is. What is your hypothesis, and how is it being tested? What control is there for the experiment?
- Langley: We shall see. You can stop staring vacantly now. Let us go outside and get this waste of time over.
I said, in Tsaesci, “Vayu, warn the others I will be summoning them, all at once, to my Aetherius Room. All except our blue friend. I will teleport him separately.”
“You haven’t been using mass teleporting.”
“No, because I need to know every individual extremely well for a mass teleport to work. I usually have a mixture of well known and not so well-known people travelling with me.”
“Is this to teach that arrogant bastard a lesson?”
“Yes. Langley has to stop using that spell before he hurts Inigo. He seems resistant to logic, so let us see if he listens to fear.”
“Okay. Me, I would have just punched the skinny shithead!”
We stepped outside, and Silah was nowhere to be seen.
Langley handed me a copy of the spell and said, “Inconceivable! Just wait. I bet your hands explode when you cast it.”
I immediately placed the spellbook into my journal case without looking at it.
I said to Langley, “Look into my eyes.”
He did so, and the Ningheim blessing, Soul-shattering Gaze, let him glimpse the power of my soul and what I am capable of doing.
The blessing educates but also paralyses the viewer for around ten seconds. Langley froze and fell. I grabbed his hand and willed us to my Aetherius Room.
A few seconds later, Langley got to his feet and started running.
He lost his footing and fell. When I approached, he was afraid to look at me.
I explained, “Langley, there is nowhere to run. We are in Aetherius. If you look down from the windows closest to me, you will see Sovngarde. But I wouldn’t do it because you may stare into infinity by mistake. That can send people insane.”
“What are you going to do to me?”
“I will tell you something, and you will shut your mouth and listen. I will not tolerate your rudeness, do you understand?”
“Then stand up and watch.”
I helped Langley to his feet and then summoned my friends all at once.
I then summoned Inigo.
- Wulf: As you can see, Langley, I am an expert on summoning. I did not need your spell.
- Vayu: Wulf just summoned us across planes. From Mundus, the mortal plane, to Aetherius, home of The Nine and where many afterlives are lived.
- Wulf: Every time you misuse the Summon Inigo Spell, you not only cause discomfort to Inigo, but you also risk his sanity and even his life.
- Vayu: Wulf told you that summoning somebody you don’t know well is impossible. Reading about Inigo does not negate that fundamental principle of summoning.
- Wulf: If you could summon a person by reading about them, chaos would result.
- Inigo: Langley, as my friend explained to me, imagine reading about somebody, for instance, Emperor Titus Mede II, and that was enough to summon him. Don’t you think an enemy of the Emperor would do so and kill him?
- Langley: Dragonborn, I have been doing you a disservice, haven’t I?
- Wulf: Yes, and you must understand that I am not trying to replace you. You have this vision of Inigo and yourself saving the world. The Divines will let me know if I have a part in this. If so, then we will work together. If not, I will wish you the best and keep away.
- Langley: Do you think that if I get to know Inigo better, I might be able to use the spell?
- Wulf: Let me look at it.
I quickly perused the spell. It had a clever addition to it that allowed the selection of a more precise location for the summoned to appear.
- Wulf: I can see your Magicka reserves are sufficient. Therefore you could learn and use the spell. But don’t try it until Inigo has spent time with you.
- Langley: I didn’t realise the danger and discomfort of what I was doing.
- Wulf: No, you didn’t. If you had listened when I was trying to explain, we wouldn’t be here where mortals are not supposed to be. Let’s go back, shall we? Place your hand on my shoulder.
- Langley: Why?
- Vayu: Langley, what did Wulf say about summoning? The same rules apply to teleporting somebody.
- Langley: Oh, Wulf doesn’t know me well enough.
- Wulf: Correct. By putting your hand on my shoulder, or us holding hands, I can teleport you.
Langley put his hand on my shoulder, and I willed us back to Nirn. Then I summoned the others.
Inigo stepped forward to say goodbye.
- Inigo: Trust me, Langley, you could not wish for a more worthy ally than The Dragonborn.
- Langley: I am beginning to realise that. Anyway, I’m getting cold. I think I will head inside. Feel free to make yourself at home and stay as long as you like. I will need a way to contact you if I hear anything new.
- Wulf: We shall think of something if you can’t master the spell.
- Inigo: Thank you, Langley. I am glad we finally met.
- Langley: I am too. I can see you’re every bit the champion this world needs. I’ll see you soon.
- Lydia: Great, now his big head will get bigger.
- Inigo: At least my head is, unlike yours, not empty.
- Langley: Wulf, please don’t take anything I say to heart. I know I can be insufferable at times.
- Wulf: I didn’t take you to Aetherius because my feelings were hurt. I took you there so you would listen.
- Langley: Yes, I understand. Anyway, goodbye for now.
As Langley headed inside, Inigo wanted to say something, but I shushed him.
I could hear a discussion in Dunmeri. A discussion about The False Dragonborn.
I Blinked to the bottom of the hill and stabbed the first Miraak Goon in the back.
I then Blinked to the other two and cut them down.
The group came running and looked at my handiwork.
I said, quite cheerfully, “Let’s go visit a dragon!”
We teleported to the entrance of Falkreath.
Silah appeared overhead and said, “Follow me. I will take you to Nafaalilargus.”
As we walked, I noticed Ayleid architecture.
I made my way to the Ayleid ruins, even though they had nothing to do with Nafaalilargus.
Vayu said, “Before you ask, no, Wulf, I have never heard of Ayleid ruins in Skyrim, but we are close to the border. Nafaalilargus, remember?”
“Okay. But this is on my place to revisit list!”
I heard Silah land with a thump. She said, “Weird looking goblins are attacking a camel seller. Hurry up. They taste horrible!”
We ran to where Silah was chomping down on a tribe of Goblins, unlike any others I have seen.
A Redguard came running up and started smashing them with her hammer.
When the goblins were all dead, she said, “The little bastards were trying to steal my camels.”
“I am Wulf. And you are?”
“Sherilia, the best vendor of camels in Skyrim!”
“You are probably the only vendor of camels in Skyrim.”
“Therefore, I am the best, am I not?”
“Yes, I suppose you are. However, I can’t imagine a Nord purchasing a camel. Other Nords would ridicule them.”
“Oh, no, I sell them to those planning to travel the deserts of Hammerfell or even Elsweyr. That is why I am here, so close to the border crossing. On the other side of the border, I have to compete with many vendors, and I might not be the best.”
“Not many people would know of the advantages of a camel over a horse in such deserts.”
“Yes, it is difficult to sell to first-time travellers. However, many who have travelled the deserts before know of the camel’s superiority. They always buy from me. Plus, they sell them back when they return!”
“So, they are renting the camels.”
“Yes, the transactions could be seen as such. It matters not, for I make a good profit.”
Lydia said, “Can we have a look at the camels? I have never seen one before!”
Sherilia replied, “Of course, you may. Do not be fooled by their beauty and innocent looks. They have a temper and may spit on you out of spite.”
Taku said, “That sounds like my last girlfriend.”
We walked over and looked at the camels.
Lydia went all gushy over the camels and was patting one when another got jealous and spat a big green snotball at her.
As Lydia cleaned off the offending snot, we continued towards Nafaalilargus.
It wasn’t long before we reached the Akaviri halls of Nafaalilargus. Above the entrance was a Shrine of Akatosh.
We climbed the steps to the entrance. Then I turned to the group.
- Vayu: You will enter, having no idea what will happen.
- Wulf: There is nothing unusual about that.
- Vayu: But even Silah has no idea what experiencing time splinters will entail.
- Wulf: I know! Exciting, isn’t it?
- Lydia: It is apparent the dropping on the head was not a single incident.
- Seiko: It wasn’t. I think his parents enjoyed the hollow sound that resonated so did it often.
- Wulf: At least I don’t like Apple Cabbage Stew!
- Taku: Who could possible like that vomit-inducing monstrosity?
- Lydia: If you don’t like it, you are of questionable parentage!
As the group argued about the pros and cons of Apple Cabbage Stew, I used the key to unlock the ruins and entered.
I felt nothing unusual. Time flowed normally.
I used Zoom-Vision to look at Nafaalilargus. I had never seen a red dragon before, and he was magnificent.
Behind Nafaalilargus were Akaviri Dragonguard spirits.
Numerous bodies of what looked like Draugr were strewn across the floor. Amongst those were many warriors wearing the same armour as mine.
I then gasped in shock. Every one of the dead warriors was me!
A voice to my left said, “Go on, ask the same questions as all the others. It does get a bit tedious.”
The voice belonged to a young Nord wearing the armour of a Dragonborn’s personal guard.
I walked up to him.
He said, “Let me talk for you. You were about to say, ‘Hello, I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. May I have your name?’
As I said, “Well, what is your name?” he parroted the same words in perfect synchronisation.
He laughed and replied, “This is where you decide to shut up and just let me talk.”
He was right. I had decided to shut up and just let him talk.
“I am Captain Algren, head of The Dragonborn’s guards. Or so I thought till we came here and he got killed. It turns out he was not the real Dragonborn. At least not The Dragonborn of the real timeline. He was The Dragonborn of a splinter, which explains why I can’t remember anything before a couple of months ago. He was the first to die here, and thankfully, none of you other Dragonborn has had another me tagging along. That would be strange, don’t you think?”
“Could it be any stranger than what you just said?”
“Nafaalilargus was nice and patient as he explained it to me. Go and get killed if you don’t mind, so I don’t have to talk to you anymore.”
I laughed, and Captain Algren mimicked it with perfect timing. I wondered how many Wulfs he had seen die.
I was careful not to look closely at the dead me.
I stood before Nafaalilargus, who said, “Do not bother talking, mortal. If you are the correct one, you might survive, and then we can tinvaak as much as you like.”
The Akaviri Dragonguard spirits closed in. I drew my sword and prepared for battle.
I noticed the bones of giants were intermingled with the others. That minor distraction almost cost me my life. The first opponent, and all the others, were Swordmasters.
The problem many Swordmasters have is this. They are excellent at performing and countering standard sword forms. If an opponent does something unorthodox, many Swordmasters are not agile enough of mind to effectively counter the attack.
I sliced down at a slightly different angle, and speed than the correct form dictates. That removed the first spirit from the contest.
The Akaviri turned into a pile of ectoplasm, and Nafaalilargus laughed. Then he said, “You are him! Now all you have to do is survive, son of my friend.”
I guessed the Draugr like corpses were Akaviri Spirits cut down by the wrong me. They probably kept coming until the wrong Wulf was overwhelmed due to exhaustion.
The spirits kept coming. It is hard enough to defeat a single Swordmaster. Sometimes three at once would coordinate their attack!
Never before has my dance of death been so perfect. Never before has it been so efficient in energy and strokes.
As I dealt with the last couple of spirits, Nafaalilargus attacked.
I cut the last spirit down and then leapt away from Nafaalilargus. He came charging towards me.
As he smothered me in Dragonfire, I leapt upon his head.
I delivered the killing blow and jumped off him.
There was a bright flash of flame, and then Nafaalilargus appeared at the far end, unharmed.
I walked over to him with weapons sheathed.
He said, “Twenty-seven times I watched my friend’s son die. I will try and be more cheerful for number twenty-eight, but I can’t promise, even though you are the real one.”
“I am sure the other twenty-seven thought they were the real one.”
“Yes, but if I did ask them about their past, they couldn’t recall their life until recent times, so I didn’t bother asking after the first few.
“How do I know you are the real Nafaalilargus? After all, Cyrus killed you in 2E 864, and I doubt Alduin would restore you.”
“I am Nafaalilargus from your timeline. Bormahu has assured me of that. He won’t tell me who restored me, but it was not in Stros M’Kai. I was restored here in this reproduction of the treasure room of Stros M’Kai’s palace. The time splintering was not supposed to occur, but it seems you, young Septim, have been giving the Jills heart palpitations.”
“Since they are not aware of what causes time splinters, it is insulting they would lay the blame on me.”
“Don’t argue with the Jills! They will bring up something you did or said thousands of years ago to belittle you and support their argument.”
“Have I ended all of the splinters?”
“Yes, you have. We didn’t know how many splinters there were. We knew that the correct Dragonborn for this timeline would be the last to be tested and probably survive.”
“How did you figure that out?”
“When The Divines are relying on me, why would they give me a trial that could kill me?”
“Yes, you are right. You were supposed to come here, free me and claim your armour. The spirits were added to cull the others, but I think The Nine miscalculated. The fight I witnessed could have ended in your demise.”
“Why not kill the wrong Wulfs outright?”
“They were not at fault for the splinters. They were allowed to fight heroically before succumbing to exhaustion. Would you not prefer your demise to be similar?”
“Yes, I would. What will happen to the souls of the wrong Wulfs?”
“They are now part of this Kalpa and will be used in subsequent new Kalpa’s. They are different enough from yours that no mistaken identity is possible. Your soul and Rigmor’s will forever be entwined.”
“You know about Rigmor and me?”
“The only one of The Nine I have spoken to is Bromahu. If our father mentions the love you share with Rigmor, it must be unique, so I asked him why. So yes, Wulf, I know about Rigmor and you.”
“What will happen to Captain Algren?”
“He hasn’t vanished. Therefore he must be compatible with this timeline. Give him a day or two, and he should be able to join you in Sky Haven Temple.”
“I don’t live there, but some Blades do. He will be welcomed.”
“I am now free to be your indispensable companion. The Proud Jewel of the Imperial Crown and Tiber Septim’s Crotch Spawn will fight side by side. What can stand in our way?”
“A big black thing with lots of teeth. I think its name is Alduin.”
“A minor hiccup I am sure you will overcome without the need for me to endanger myself.”
“Silah will not hesitate to assist me in the battle against Alduin.”
“Silah is with you? Then Nafaalilargus will prove his virility by fighting valiantly at your side.”
“If you are hoping for a mating flight, I don’t think you are her type.”
“But look at all my gold! How can a Jill resist such gleaming goodness?”
“She would prefer good gossip.”
“How can a Dovah gather gossip from inside his burial mound?”
“That is not my problem. I must ask you to keep my parents a secret. Only a few people know, and it has to stay that way for now.”
“So, it is The Proud Jewel of the Imperial Crown and The Dragonborn then? That is not as catchy as Tiber Septim’s Crotch Spawn.”
“I am heading home now. I am exhausted and need to rest before subjecting myself to Greybeard bullshit.”
“If you are visiting Paarthurnax, remind him he owes me ten gold pieces from a bet in the first era. With compounding interest that should be over five hundred thousand septims, cash only.”
“You already have several million. Why do you want more?”
“To look at and bathe in, of course.”
I retrieved the armour and made my way outside. The multiple deceased me and other dead had vanished.
I breathed in the fresh air and noticed Vayu standing near the exit.
I turned to him and laughed at his surprised expression.
“Is there something wrong?” I asked him.
“Silah said you were dying in there, and I couldn’t open the door!”
“Where is she?”
“She flew off to report to Lord Akatosh about this anomaly.”
“I did die in there. Twenty-seven times according to Nafaalilargus. I will have to talk to Silah about her sense of humour.”
“The tale must contain much time-related gobblygook. Therefore, you will have to explain it to me when I am stinking drunk instead of just stinking.”
I turned to the others, and Inigo said, “My friend, there are important things I want to talk about in private when you have some time.”
“Of course, Inigo. We shall have a good chat on the balcony.”
“By the way, it is good to see you did not die twenty-eight times inside that place!”
We teleported to the Safe House. Then Inigo and I headed for the balcony.
I stood staring at the skyline of Solitude and its mountainous backdrop. I knew Rigmor would find some beauty to comment on, but hard as I tried, I could not.
Inigo said, “My friend, you seem to have a lot on your mind. My talk can wait.”
I turned to him and replied, “No, Inigo. It is important to you so we shall talk. Please, sit.”
We sat, and then Inigo said, “Just think, The Doom Strider could be anyone, anywhere or anything. It could walk right by us, and we would not know it. We need more information.”
“When we have something more substantial in the description, we can use many researchers and resources to find The Doom Strider.”
“My friend, do you mind if I ask you something?”
“Why would I mind? Now, what is it that is worrying you?”
“Langley is a fascinating man. He knows a lot about me, and there is much evidence that his visions usually come to pass. All that said, we have only just met him. Do you think we can trust him in your heart of hearts?”
“Yes. Langley is trying to do good. As we talked, I began to understand his personality, and I think I know why he is bitter. I think he is an honourable and honest person.”
“I feel the same way. He has many flaws, but who doesn’t. Even though we have just met, he has been a part of my life for years. He is a good man. Hearing your opinion had eased my mind. Thank you, my friend.”
“There is something else worrying you. We did not need privacy to discuss my opinion of Langley.”
“Yes, there is something else I am compelled to mention.”
“I told Langley about how you spared my life and my debt to you. He questioned my memory. He said my mind has been through a lot with the Skooma, the grief, the endless battles and so on. He suggested that maybe you are not the person I remember.”
“Inigo, I told you that when we first met. I can’t be the one you tried to murder!”
“What does Langley know anyway? He does not know you as I do. He does not know about our shared past. No, I will not entertain such a silly idea. I am not confused and would know you anywhere. You are my friend, and that is the end of the story. He is jealous of our friendship. Pay it no mind. Anyway, that is all I wanted to say. Let us talk of other things.”
“Yes, Inigo, I am your friend. We met at the jail in Riften and not before. Sooner or later, you will realise this.”
“Please, my friend. Drop it for now. Maybe later.”
“As you wish.”
“My friend, what is troubling you?”
“Many things, Inigo. I began to rely on what Rigmor and I call Our Quiet. It is something between us that mystifies even my gods. When we are close, our jumbled thoughts and emotions become less so. We can think and talk about things with greater clarity and have fewer reservations about decisions. I still have to make decisions that can have repercussions for all mortals. For instance, should I be relaxing or rushing to High Hrothgar to see if Paarthurnax knows how Alduin was defeated? Logically I know resting first is the correct decision, but guilt rears its head and tries to push me beyond my physical limits. If Rigmor were sitting where you are, I would be certain of my decision or maybe make a different one.”
“Don’t your gods know this? Why can’t you and Rigmor be together for short periods where her absence will go unnoticed, and she can still be Countess?”
“What I need more than anything right now is Rigmor in my arms so I can be whole once more.”
“You are getting closer to confronting Alduin. If your gods are wise, they will allow you and Rigmor such a thing before you risk all in that confrontation.”
“I am now heading for my Aetherius Room to prepare my new armour. I want you to accompany me to High Hrothgar tomorrow. We will be going to the summit of the highest peak in Tamriel, and the view should be spectacular.”
“As long as I am at least twenty feet away from a sheer drop, I might enjoy it.”
I laughed as I willed myself to my Aetherius Room.
It took three hours to adjust the Dovahkiin Armour and place my usual Dweomer.
It was slightly better than my red armour. After seeing myself dead in the red armour, it may be some time before I wear it again.
I teleported to where the lookout was, but a dragon had destroyed it and the campground. People probably died when all they wanted to do was enjoy the view.
Nafaalilargus flew past and said, “I had forgotten the beauty of what the gods made. It is good to fly once more and see it once again. It makes my gold seem dull.”
I teleported to the Safe House and went to bed, hoping my gods were wise.