PROGRESS

Sundas, 28th Hearthfire, 4E 201

& Morndas, 29th Hearthfire, 4E 201

When we came out of the ether next to Whiterun Stables, I summoned Nafaalilargus. The trail we would be walking is home to many bandit strongholds.

Nafaalilargus hovered over me and asked, “What are we hunting, Dovahkiin?”

“Bandits.”

“There are bandits in Skyrim? What a surprise!”

We arrived at the bridge over the river and could see some pilgrims being attacked by bandits.

We rushed across the bridge to help.

Three bandits had just killed an unarmed pilgrim when Silah’s minion attacked them.

As they concentrated on the minion, I snuck up from behind, and Silah landed next to them.

We killed those three.

Then we quickly found and dispatched the rest of the bandits.

I stood before the entrance to the bandit headquarters and battled the need to step inside and kill them all. It took more effort than it should have to turn and rejoin my team.

A couple of injured pilgrims were healed by Celestine. Then we continued.

We arrived at the entrance to Windcaller’s Pass.

  • Wulf: Nobody is to step in front of me! I intend to wipe these murderers out quickly and efficiently.
  • Jordis: Listen to Wulf. If you get in the way of his Thu’um, you could die.
  • Avram: Are you just going to kill without trying to take any prisoners?
  • Wulf: Why should I show any mercy? Are there some that you don’t want to be killed?
  • Avram: No… no. I only meant you might want to question them?
  • Wulf: The second they show aggression is the second they die.
  • Inigo: What is with your eyes, my friend?
  • Celestine: They are blue dragon eyes, Wulf.
  • Wulf: It means my Dovah personality is dominant. I will kill without mercy and enjoy doing so. It has been some time since I have been like this. I have not needed to be, but this endless killing has taken its toll, Inigo.
  • Celestine: Let us hope his eyes do not turn yellow. There will not be much of Wulf on display if they do.

We entered the cave, and I didn’t even bother to see if the bandits attacked.

An expert dual wielder attacked, and I laughed as I easily blocked his flurry of sword forms.

I sliced off his head. As it flew, Celestine hit it with an Ice Spear.

The next one ran, and Inigo got in my way. I had to minimise my Unrelenting Force.

As I leapt over the prone Inigo, I growled, “Don’t get in my fucking way!”

Another dual wielder was at a loss on what to do.

I decided for him by stepping forward and skewering him whilst continuing to laugh.

Inigo killed a couple of the murderers. The last one ran and was cut down by Jordis.

Several victims of the bandits lay where they were murdered.

Some of the items stolen from the museum were piled at the back of the cave.

On the ground in front of them was a note. I read it to the group.

“Once you manage to get out of Solitude with the haul, head for Windcaller’s Pass. That is a convenient staging point as we transport the goods to Englemann’s Rest. From Englemann’s Rest, it is not far from the border and home. There is so much treasure we can’t risk moving it all at once. A wagon load at a time will be the safest method. I will be here until the last load is delivered.

Jelal.”

  • Avram: Oh, good, Englemann’s Rest. I know where that is.
  • Wulf: As do I. It is near the legal border crossing to Bruma and used to be a place of relevance to The Forsworn.
  • Avram: Jelal himself is here, and that isn’t good.
  • Wulf: Who is he?
  • Avram: Jalal is the leader of the group of brigands I was with. We can be sure that Englemann’s Rest will be anything but hospitable if he is here.
  • Wulf: How good were the Alik’r we just faced?
  • Avram: The last one you killed was a master swordsman. He was in charge of weapon training.
  • Inigo: He lasted a few seconds, and that was because my friend was too busy laughing.
  • Wulf: All of them will die as easy as this lot, Avram!
  • Celestine: Wulf, this hoard is some of the lesser value items.
  • Wulf: In reality, they are some of the higher value items.
  • Avram: Of course, they would not know many items are replicas!
  • Wulf: Some items are dangerous just to touch. An unwary person could find themselves ensorcelled by a sword or other weapon. Many items are far too valuable or powerful to put on display. Much of what is here is genuine and would sell for more than powerless replicas.
  • Inigo: Do you think this would be the last cartload sent to Englemann’s Rest?
  • Wulf: That is a valid assumption.
  • Inigo: Huh?
  • Celestine: That means it is possible, Inigo.
  • Inigo: Is it the creepy yellow dragon eyes making him talk funny?
  • Wulf: There is probably another wagon on its way to Englemann’s Rest and a couple of wagon loads already there. If there is a wagon still in transit, I would like to intercept it. This scum would not risk travelling through Helgen as it is the home of a large bandit group. They will travel to Falkreath and along the road west from there.
  • Avram: What about this load? It shouldn’t be left unguarded.
  • Wulf: DUH!

I summoned Vayu.

I told him, “As you can see, we have found some of the stolen goods. I will need you to arrange their return to Auryen.”

“Do you know where the rest is?”

“We think there is likely some still in transit. The majority should already be in the murdering scum’s hideout at Englemann’s Rest, near the border to Bruma. We are about to search along the route from Falkreath to their hideout.”

“Okay, leave it to me. I will summon a few Dragonguard, and this lot will be guarded while I arrange transport.”

I told Avram to put his hand on my shoulder again. Then we teleported to the front gate of Falkreath.

We cut cross country to join the road we thought the scum would travel.

We were not far out of Falkreath when Silah said, “Werewolf battling idiots with silver swords ahead.”

Silver Swords were fighting a wild werewolf. I yelled, “The Silver Swords are the enemy. Don’t attack the werewolf!”

The last Silver Sword was surrounded by the badly injured werewolf, Silah’s minion and Silah.

Dragonfire engulfed the Silver Sword, whose scream was short-lived. Unfortunately for the werewolf, it proved not to be fireproof and perished.

This melee occurred not far from where the murderers had set up camp. Nafaalilargus called down, “Follow me to the stolen goods!”

We rushed to the Redguard’s camp. Nafaalilargus had frozen one bandit while Silah’s minion kept another bandit busy.

We killed them all in seconds.

Auryen will have a fit when he sees how some of the items were handled.

I summoned Bashita.

I explained, “As you can see, we have found some of the stolen items. Please summon a couple of others and take this carriage to Solitude.”

“Will do. Have you found any more of it?”

“Yes, in a cave near Whiterun. Vayu is taking care of that. The rest should be in their hideaway near the Bruma border.”

“Your eyes, Wulf. I thought you were over this?”

“I was when Rigmor was around. I have killed more than five hundred mortals since she crossed the border. Add the undead, dragons and Draugr, and it has been a nonstop slaughter.”

“Hopefully, you can see each other soon.”

“I hope so, Bashita, for not just my sake.”

I called up to Nafaalilargus, “Escort this carriage to Solitude.”

“Is that gold I see gleaming amongst the goods?”

“None of it is to be touched by thieving Dovah talons!”

“But it is so pretty!”

“I gave you an order, Nafaalilargus! If you don’t know, I am a General, and you never completed your tour of duty. Thus, you are still enlisted, soldier.”

“You might be right. I will have to think about that.”

“We don’t have a month. Think about it after you have done as ordered.”

“Ah, yes, General Grumpy.”

I approached Avram, who had been fighting well.

  • Avram: Excellent! That should account for the majority of the stolen artefacts. Whatever is left is surely at Englemann’s Rest.
  • Jordis: So far, this has been a pushover.
  • Avram: Jelal is renowned for his use of effective ambushes. We will need to be careful as we navigate through the ruin.
  • Wulf: We are always careful. We have defeated many enemies far more powerful than bandit scum.
  • Avram: I’ll bring up the rear and warn you if I see anything out of the ordinary. He may have employed a few traps as well.
  • Celestine: Avram, can you detect magical traps?
  • Avram: Ah… no.
  • Jordis: Have you survived the dozens of ancient tombs and crypts that The Dragonborn has traversed?
  • Avram: Ah… no, again.
  • Wulf: Avram, I appreciate your eagerness to help, but I ask you to keep perfectly quiet when we are in Englemann’s Rest. We will detect all magical and ordinary traps, and there is also no possibility of an ambush.
  • Avram: How?
  • Celestine: The Dragonborn can see through walls.
  • Avram: Are you sure?
  • Wulf: It is true. Watch and see if it isn’t.

I said to everybody, “We are teleporting to just outside of Helgen!”

Avram placed his hand on my shoulder, and we teleported.

Somebody shot at me from the wall of Helgen, and the arrow lodged in my helm.

Another bandit tried to run for the rapidly closing gates. I stabbed him in the back.

I ran and placed my sword through the gap in the gates. They couldn’t be closed far enough for the bar to be lowered.

I forced the gates open, and we poured into Helgen.

I had ridden past the scum infesting Helgen’s bones once. I was not going to let them stay alive this time!

Silah spoke to me telepathically, “Do not enter the keep, Wulf. Alduin is your priority!”

“It seems that killing the scum of Skyrim one at a time is my priority! I want to kill them all, Silah. Every time I move five minutes from home, something tries to kill me or others. Every fucking day is the same!”

‘Get rid of Alduin. End the civil war. Get patrols back on the roads. There is your solution! Your recklessness endangers others! No matter how good Inigo and the others are, they are mortal, just like you.”

I stormed out of Helgen. The others hurried to catch up to me.

Not much later, Silah called out, “Dozens of bandits are in Fort Neugrad!”

Fort Neugrad came in sight, and Silah was already engaged.

I said hello with Unrelenting Force and then continued the slaughter I started in Helgen.

When the outside enemy was eliminated, I pointed to a door and yelled out, “Inside, let’s clear this place for The Empire!”

I held up two fingers to indicate the number of enemies in the next room.

Unrelenting force killed them both.

Avram gasped, “He can see through walls!”

I replied, “I can see their body heat. I can’t see the undead unless I search for auras.”

“Ahh, yeah…sure.”

We killed dozens, and then we found the bandit leader, who seemed oblivious to the Shouts shaking the place and the screams of people dying.

He died as well.

We killed another dozen before exiting.

We were a little way up the road when Celestine called my name. I turned to see what she wanted.

  • Wulf: Yes, Celestine.
  • Celestine: Your eyes are yellow, Wulf.
  • Wulf: You can see them through all the guts and blood covering me?
  • Inigo: Do you realise what you say to those you kill? Do you see the horror in their eyes as they meet yours?
  • Wulf: It is better than the alternative!
  • Celestine: Wulf remembers every kill inflicted by sword and bow in minute detail and most of those by spell and Shout. The only way to stop that is to let his Dovah personality be dominant.
  • Wulf: My kill tally goes up, but my guilt does not. So let this monster do what is needed, and perhaps your friend will return, Inigo.
  • Jordis: Is this the Wulf that will fight the civil war?
  • Wulf: Yes. I will give Stormcloaks a chance to go home in peace before starting their annihilation.

We continued in silence.

We stopped at a cave entrance that led to Englemann’s Rest. There was no Forsworn totem on display.

  • Wulf: This place was once a Forsworn refuge. It looks like The Forsworn have abandoned the place or been driven out.
  • Jordis: There is probably only Jelal and friends inside.
  • Avram: I know I am in no place to make requests right now, but I’d like to ask for something all the same.
  • Wulf: What is it?
  • Avram: When we encounter Jelal, allow me a moment to confront him. I may be able to make him stand down and allow us to recover the rest of the relics without further bloodshed.
  • Jordis: Why would a murdering bastard like that stand down?
  • Avram: Even though I want nothing more to do with him, I feel that I at least owe him the chance to face justice rather than face the blade.
  • Wulf: Why do you owe him that? Why would he listen to you when I have the authority to give or deny mercy?
  • Inigo: It seems we have solved the mystery of why Avram was allowed to live. Even smelly murdering bandits like Jelal try to avoid killing family.
  • Wulf: Is Inigo correct, Avram?
  • Avram: Yes, Jelal is my brother. When our father died, we had to do what we needed to get by. At first, it was just petty robbery and cons. It wasn’t until we began to kill in the course of our actions that I even began to question it. Jelal was always very persuasive in getting me to believe what we were doing was justified. I suppose younger brothers are always prone to look up to their elder brothers.
  • Wulf: Were petty robberies and cons your only choice ‘to get by’?
  • Avram: Well… I… ah… I don’t know.
  • Wulf: I will ask again. Were petty robberies and cons your only choice ‘to get by’?
  • Avram: No. It was a lazy choice. I suggested we could become mercenaries or farmhands or apprentices, but that was too much like hard work for Jelal.
  • Wulf: But you said, ‘It wasn’t until we began to kill in the course of our actions that I even began to question it.’ If you suggested other options, you must have questioned the morality of petty robberies and cons before you started doing them. Can you see the contradiction?
  • Avram: Yes, I questioned the morality even before the first robbery or con. But Jelal was so persuasive!
  • Wulf: Did you walk away and pursue the moral options after the first murders committed by your gang?
  • Avram: No… no, I didn’t.
  • Wulf: Did you walk away and pursue the moral options after the first murder you committed?
  • Avram: No.
  • Wulf: Who made you commit the first robbery? Who made you perform the first con? Who made you execute the first murder?
  • Avram: I told you, Jelal is so persuasive.
  • Wulf: That is not an answer.
  • Celestine: Avram. I strongly advise you to answer the question with the truth.
  • Wulf: Who made you commit the first robbery? Who made you perform the first con? Who made you execute the first murder?
  • Avram: Nobody. Nobody. Nobody!
  • Wulf: Who is responsible for every crime you committed? From petty robbery to con to murder.
  • Avram: I am. I chose to do those things.
  • Wulf: I believe you have tried to make amends for your past actions and have taken the most crucial step in achieving that. You realise your actions were free will and not forced upon you. That is the essential first step toward redemption.
  • Avram: That is what the missionary who saved me said.
  • Wulf: I was unsure if you had anything to do with the robbery, so I have tested you by allowing you to travel with us. We had to squeeze a little, but you admitted Jelal is your brother. That explains why you were the only guard left alive.
  • Avram: So now you believe me about the robbery?
  • Wulf: Yes, and I will allow you to speak with Jelal if he is inclined to do so. But realise this, he will not be offered a chance at redemption. His crimes deserve only one penalty, and whether by my sword, a noose or an executioner’s axe, it will be administered. Do you understand?
  • Avram: Yes, I understand. I ask that he not be paraded in front of jeering crowds. Please, do not allow his execution to be entertainment for the bored.
  • Wulf: I think Solitude will never do that again. The first public execution in centuries was that of a guard more loyal to Ulfric than Solitude. It left a stain on the conscience of the people. Jelal’s execution would be private with a court-appointed witness and professional executioner.
  • Inigo: It appears I have things to learn.
  • Jordis: You can’t allow hatred or anger to trump what is right. A trial should always be preferable to summary execution.
  • Avram: I thank you for the chance to speak to my brother one last time. Even if it proves I do not mean as much to him as gold does, I need to do something.
  • Wulf: Okay, before we enter, remember that the same rules apply. Nobody is to get in front of me unless we are already engaged in melee. I do not intend to sneak or go slow, but I will use Heat Vision to detect the enemy, so watch out for my hand signals. If you think I have missed a magical trap, Celestine, do not hesitate to let me know.
  • Inigo: Wulf, please speak your insults a bit slower. I am trying to remember some of the better ones. And please, watch the decapitations when I am near. Arterial blood is unpleasant and hard to remove from my fur!

We entered, and it was not long before we encountered the first Lightening Ward.

I cleared it with the first Word of Unrelenting Force.

There were the occasional signs of Forsworn occupation, but it appears they were long gone.

Not all of the Forsworn inhabitants had left. A Hagraven was still at home!

In the Hagraven’s room, we discovered an impressive-looking gauntlet. It had a strong Dweomer for protection against Destruction spells. I placed it in my journal case.

We barely paused as we disposed of Jelal’s gang. Over two dozen fell in minutes.

I stopped to talk to Avram.

  • Wulf: We have killed dozens, so we must be getting close to your brother.
  • Avram: If Jelal knew who would pursue him, he would never have committed the heist.
  • Jordis: Is he stupid? What did he think would happen?
  • Wulf: Even if they had not killed or even hurt a single guard, I would have pursued them with equal enthusiasm. They stole from the people, not me or Auryen, for that is whom the museum was made.
  • Avram: Jelal disgusts me. Our parents were good people, and we have insulted their memory.
  • Wulf: Are you of Crown or Forebear belief?
  • Avram: Our parents were Forebear. But my brother and I seem to have forgotten what Crown and Forebear teach.

We continued the killing. None of us was injured. The enemy didn’t even see their death approach most of the time. To somebody like Avram, our efficiency was almost mystical. We are professional killers against untrained scum. There is nothing mystical about it.

We entered a room where several bandits thought they were hidden behind walls overlooking a lower floor. I said to the group, “Don’t attack! One of them is approaching, and it might be Jelal.”

Jelal appeared at the top of some steps and then slowly approached his brother with his sword sheathed.

I said to my friends, “Watch the walls as there are two murderers hidden behind each one. Kill them if you see them aim a bow or prepare a spell!” The Sentinels faced outwards with staff and bows at the ready.

Jelal stopped about ten feet in front of Avram.

  • Jelal: Ah, Avram, so we meet again. It has been too long.
  • Avram: I would never have expected to have seen you here, Jelal. You usually send your lackeys to do your dirty work.
  • Jelal: Oh, you cut me to the quick, Avram. With a score this grand to be had, I had to come personally to oversee it. If you want something done right, after all, you do it yourself, no? Then I found out that you were involved, and I had a chance to bring you back into the fold. Well, I just had to come.
  • Avram: I will never again be a part of your paltry group of robbers. I left that life behind us in Hammerfell. I have a new life here, and I want you out of it!
  • Wulf: Paltry group of murderers, not robbers.
  • Jelal: Oh, but Avram, you can never turn your back on blood. After all, we have been through so much together, and we are brothers.
  • Avram: Our parents would be ashamed to see what we had become, Jelal. That life in Hammerfell no longer has any meaning for me but a vast regret. I am trying every day to make up for what I did, what we did.
  • Jelal: Well, my brother, that is sad to hear. If we are truly no longer brothers and I cannot convince you to rejoin me, I have no choice but to end you. Farewell, my dear brother.
  • Wulf: What an overdramatic piece of ignorant shit you are, Jelal. There are seven of you in this room, and we have already killed over three dozen without pausing.
  • Jelal: Who are you?
  • Wulf: I am The Dragonborn, and I will cut your head off!

Jelal went to draw his sword. I drew mine faster and cut his head off.

We quickly killed Jelal’s men that had remained in the room.

Then we pursued those who fled.

I watched as Inigo growled, “I am Inigo, and I will cut your head off!”

Then he did as he promised.

I walked over, and he said, “That one was easy to remember!”

I returned to Jelal and retrieved a key from his corpse.

We soon located the last of the stolen items.

I summoned Sakiya.

She asked, “Are these some of the stolen artefacts?”

“Yes, and you have the wonderful job of figuring out how to return them to the museum.”

“Where are we?”

“Near the border to Bruma.”

“I will zap a couple of our people here as guards. I can carry a few items at a time and make as many trips as necessary to get them back to Auryen.”

“Make sure they search the dozens of bodies we left throughout this place. Thieves often steal from thieves.”

“Okay. What is next for you?”

“I will be visiting The Greybeards. That is what I have been trying to do since yesterday morning!”

“Will the Greybeards tell you anything useful?”

“I doubt it. I am relying on Paarthurnax for the useful stuff.”

“Wulf, do whatever you need to do to put your Dovah away. You have been accomplishing what is needed without losing yourself.”

“I have nothing to balance the dark and light, Bashita. I haven’t been living, merely existing. I am feeling more like a Dwemer automaton each day. Even when I remove Alduin, the civil war could take months to win. And how long can I wait before dealing with Miraak in Solstheim?”

“The Divines will do something, Wulf. Don’t lose faith in them now.”

“What can they do? Rigmor is stuck in Bruma, and I have no idea how she is fairing.”

“She will be missing you, but I guarantee she has firm control of Bruma and sorted the reality from the crap her advisors have thrown at her.”

“Malesam has to send a weekly report. I might visit The College of Winterhold and read what he says.”

“Probably a lot of swear words when explaining how Rigmor is dominating the decision making.”

“That would make me smile.”

I made my way to Avram, who was staring at his dead brother.

I told him, “Avram, the rest of the artefacts are here. We found none of them on Jelal’s men we killed at the camp or in Windcaller’s Pass. My friends will check the dozens of bodies here to make sure none of them robbed Jelal.”

Avram replied, “If you don’t mind, I will stay behind and take some time to bury my brother. Then I will return to the museum and face my punishment.”

“There is no punishment. You are guilty of no crime.”

“Thank you, my friend, you are ever so virtuous. I’ll see you when I return to the museum in a few days.”

“Is there a particular tomb your family uses?”

“Yes, for many generations. But that is in Hammerfell.”

I took out my bag of gems and retrieved several good quality rubies. I handed them to Avram. He stared at them with confusion on his face.

“Hire a carriage. Take your brother home and get the consecration ritual performed. Make sure he has a quality sarcophagus. I don’t know if you believe in mummification, but those gems should easily cover all costs, including the ceremonial jars. Place him in the tomb where your parents lay.”

“Why would you do this for my brother?”

“I am doing it for you. Jelal might not reach the Far Shore, but his soul will be protected from misuse by others. You could not protect him from such within these walls. Do not fret. His body will not be unattended while you go to Falkreath and hire the carriage.”

Avram took the gems with tears streaming. I put my Dovah away.

I gathered the group and teleported them inside High Hrothgar. Then I summoned Lydia.

Lydia explained, “Wulf, I was helping Vayu, but he said I had better answer your summoning. He has everything under control anyway.”

“We are in High Hrothgar and closing in on Alduin. I want you to be part of these final steps.”

Lydia smiled, something she has been doing more of lately.

We found Arngeir sitting while enjoying a mead.

  • Wulf: Good evening, Master Arngeir.
  • Arngeir: Sky guard you, Dragonborn.
  • Wulf: I am here to learn the Shout used to defeat Alduin.
  • Arngeir: Where did you learn of that? To whom have you been talking?
  • Wulf: Why would that be of concern or something I should divulge?
  • Arngeir: For matters of such gravity, we need to know where you stand. Or who you stand with.
  • Wulf: I think it is obvious where I stand!
  • Arngeir: If you wish to stand alone, so be it. If you wish for our help, you’ll answer my question.
  • Wulf: And where do you think I learned of this Shout?
  • Arngeir: The Blades! They specialise in meddling in matters they barely understand. Their reckless arrogance knows no bounds. They have always sought to turn Dragonborn from the path of wisdom. Haven’t you learned anything from us? Would you simply be a tool in the hands of The Blades, to be used for their own purposes?
  • Wulf: I have learned nothing from The Greybeards! Name anything you have done to aid my endeavours. At least The Blades genuinely tried to help, and have to a small extent.
  • Arngeir: Do not be so sure about that. Beware, The Blades may claim to serve you Dragonborn, but they do not. They never have. As for me, I kept from you what you were not yet ready to know and are still not ready to know.
  • Celestine: Master Arngeir, I am a Blade, as are many who live in the same house as Wulf. We are also Dragonguard, the most ruthless of dragon hunters. Yet we have aided Wulf, The Dragonborn, for years and continue to do so.

For the first time in centuries, Einarth spoke a sentence, not a single whispered Word of Power.

“ARNGEIR, ROK LOS DOVAHKIIN, STRUNDU’UL. ROK FEN TINVAAK PAARTHURNAX.” 

 High Hrothgar shook violently. Several of my companions lost balance and fell.

  • Inigo: Woah! What did he say? Was it a good insult?
  • Wulf: Master Einarth said, ‘Arngeir, he is The Dragonborn, Stormcrown. He will speak to Paarthurnax.’
  • Inigo: Stormcrown?
  • Wulf: Another time, Inigo.
  • Inigo: Oh, of course, my friend.
  • Arngeir: Dragonborn… wait. Forgive me. I was… intemperate and allowed my emotions to cloud my judgement. Master Einarth reminded me of my duty. The decision whether or not to help you is not mine to make.
  • Wulf: Lucky for the mortals of Nirn and me, I have never needed your help! I certainly wouldn’t accept it out of duty when common sense and decency should have been the factors considered.
  • Arngeir: I said I apologise!
  • Wulf: You have been deliberately derelict in your duty to me, Arngeir, and there is no forgiveness for that! I did not need The Blades to tell me a Shout was used. However, that was crucial information that you should have told me!
  • Arngeir: If not The Blades, who told you of that Shout?
  • Wulf: Are you so ignorant of your lore? The first line of the fifth emblem is, ‘Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world.’
  • Celestine: Wulf is correct. You either knew that and withheld it or are ignorant of what every pilgrim who climbs the steps knows.
  • Wulf: You don’t even know the Shout, do you?
  • Arngeir: No, we do not know it. It is called ‘Dragonrend,’ but its Words of Power are unknown to us. We do not regret this loss, for Dragonrend holds no place within The Way of The Voice.
  • Wulf: Do you even know what the Shout does? How do you know it had no place within The Way of The Voice?
  • Arngeir: It was created by those who had lived under the unimaginable cruelty of Alduin’s Dragon Cult. Their entire lives were consumed with hatred for dragons, and they poured all their anger and hatred into this Shout. When you learn a Shout, you take it into your very being. In a sense, you become the Shout. In order to learn and use this Shout, you will be taking this evil into yourself.
  • Wulf: Is Unrelenting Force or Fire Breath or any offensive Shout evil? Tell me, Arngeir, if Alduin’s allies attacked High Hrothgar, would you use shouts to harm and kill them to defend this place. After all, they are designed to inflict physical damage and even kill.
  • Arngeir: Yes, we would defend High Hrothgar because that aligns with the principle of only using The Voice where required.
  • Inigo: Does this buffoon know all those nasty, evil shouts that hurt the poor dragons? The cute dragons trying to burn children and other innocents alive?
  • Wulf: Three dragons attacked Solitude, and it was myself using The Voice and The Dragonguard who saved that city. Was it evil for me to use Shouts in that battle?
  • Arngeir: They attacked Solitude?
  • Inigo: For experts on dragons, they don’t seem very knowledgeable, and their dress sense is terrible.
  • Wulf: Answer me, Arngeir. Was it evil for me to use Shouts to defend Solitude?
  • Arngeir: No, it was a necessary use of The Voice.
  • Wulf: The Greybeards did not help defend The Empire during The Great War. They did not help defend The Empire against The New Order. The Dragonguard, Khajiiti and Nafaalilargus combined to save Nirn from Kaalgrontiid. The Dragonguard, The Blades, and my friends, Silah and Nafaalilargus, will combine to defeat Alduin.
  • Lydia: I see a trend there. The Greybeards are never where the people of Nirn need assistance.
  • Arngeir: Nafaalilargus?
  • Wulf: Yes, he is aiding me as well as Silah.
  • Celestine: How, Master Arngeir, are you supposed to aid The Dragonborn when you are ignorant of what is happening outside of these walls?
  • Wulf: It is absurd to claim a Shout that you know nothing about as evil!
  • Arngeir: That Shout was used once before, was it not? And here we are again. Have you considered that Alduin was not meant to be defeated? Those who overthrew him in ancient times only postponed the day of reckoning. They did not stop it. If the world is meant to end, so be it. Let it end and be reborn!

My friends were incensed, but I put my hand up, and they allowed me to speak.

  • Wulf: Master Arngeir, you display total ignorance of what Alduin desires. Alduin desires to be the overlord of all Dov and mortals like he once was. Did he try and destroy Nirn or end the Kalpa before The Dragon War or during it? Did the Ancient Tongues fight to preserve the current Kalpa or gain freedom from his tyranny? You don’t even know what the term ‘World Eater’ means! Yet you dare judge my readiness for Paarthurnax?
  • Celestine: Arngeir, you had the gall to accuse The Blades of being specialists in meddling in matters they barely understand. You know nothing of Wulf’s endeavours, powers or Divine guidance. You are ignorant of Alduin’s motivation!
  • Wulf: Alduin does not arbitrarily decide to destroy Nirn!I have saved your life since the last time we met, Master Arngeir. I stopped a god who would have ended up destroying Nirn. Alduin would then have done his task and eaten the world.
  • Celestine: The Divines sent Wulf to stop Alduin.
  • Wulf: I shall answer the question you asked. Who do I stand with?

It was my turn to shake the foundations of High Hrothgar with The Voice.

“ZU’U NAAL FIN JOOR DO VUS!”

Arngeir stood abruptly. Try as he might, he could not suppress his surprise at the strength of my Thu’um.

“I stand with the mortals of Nirn! From the moment I stepped through the doors of High Hrothgar, you have hindered me in my Divine given task of defeating Alduin. Is it because your life is so miserable and without meaning that you would welcome the end of this Kalpa? The Divines, including Lady Kynareth, guide me, Master Arngeir. Have all those prayers and The Way of The Voice pleased Lady Kynareth? Was Jurgen Windcaller correct in his assumptions? Have you ever had approval from Lady Kynareth for your parasitic lifestyle? The Greybeards contribute nothing to the well-being of those they rely on for charity. Because The Blades aided me in reaching Alduin’s Wall, I now know that a Shout by itself did not defeat Alduin. The Blades assisted me whilst The Greybeards didn’t. The Dragonguard and The Blades will fight by my side whilst The Greybeards continue to hide from the world. My duty is to save the freedom of Nirn’s people, and I am tired of speaking to you!”

I turned and walked away, my friends in tow.

We entered Lady Kynareth’s Temple, and I said to my friends, “Please, some quiet while I speak to Father.”

I knelt before Talos’ statue and spoke to him silently, “Father, I am struggling and weary and have no solution. It took the tears of Avram to drag me back to my mortal self. I am a mortal who experiences and is surrounded by mortal emotions. I protect mortals, yet I cannot experience life as one of them. I will continue, but if an enemy does not defeat me, my mortal emotions will.”

I stepped back and stared ahead. Inigo eventually stood in front of me.

He said, “My friend, I have many questions, but they can wait. What is next?”

“We go next door and see if Lady Kynareth is pleased with my progress. If she is, I will be rewarded with more knowledge of The Thu’um.”

I said to the group, “Follow me to Lady Kynareth’s Shrine. I ask you to sit or stand at the back and remain quiet while I pray to her.”

We entered the shrine, and my friends did as I had asked.

I approached Lady Kynareth.

Then I knelt in my silent supplication and was gifted with new knowledge.

When the ritual was over, I turned to my friends.

“Lady Kynareth was pleased with my progress. Now we visit Paarthurnax. I could reach him on the back of Silah or Nafaalilargus, but I want to use the protected path leading to him. The Shout to allow passage was taught to me by Lady Kynareth a month ago. Arngeir would have withheld it until now and then only parted with it reluctantly. He has always acted as if he had control and authority over me. He has never had either. His temper shows all his talk of peace and harmony is pure bollocks. The Greybeard’s only student in The Voice for a hundred years, Ulfric Stormcloak, proved Windcaller’s teachings have no relevance in the real world. The Voice is a weapon given to Dov by Lord Akatosh and subsequently given to mortals by Lady Kynareth and Paarthurnax. The evil is not in the weapon but in what cause it is wielded. Killing the High King with Unrelenting Force was evil. Using Dragonrend to protect innocents is not.”

We stepped outside, and Nafaalilargus landed on a nearby tower.

He said, “Dovahkiin, something is disturbing the flow of time at the summit. Paarthurnax told me not to approach it any closer. Silah seems immune to whatever made me uncomfortable.”

“I don’t think we need your protection on The Throat of the World, Nafaalilargus. You are free to spend your time as you see fit.”

“I haven’t counted my gold for too long. So that is where I shall be.”

Nafaalilargus flaw away, and Silah landed with a thump.

She laughed and said, “Beautiful but vain and greedy beyond belief!”

“I prefer the term handsome, but I am neither vain nor greedy.”

“Your mother has a sense of humour. It seems you inherited yours from your father.”

“Is the time anomaly that bad on the summit?”

“It was disturbing for Nafaalilargus and will likely be so for you. We have called it a Time-Wound, for that is the closest analogy you would understand.”

“Will you be observing?”

“Yes, because we do not know what will happen. Once again, Wulf, you push beyond the bounds of Divine knowledge.”

“Well, we don’t want The Nine to get bored, do we? They might end up cantankerous old farts like The Greybeards.”

“Ahh, your discussion with Arngeir went as well as The Jills predicted. We had quite a fun discussion on what your mood might be after your tinvaak. You will find Paarthurnax more attuned with the reality of the situation.”

“Well, let’s go visit him before he dies of old age!”

“You will notice, Wulf, that I fail to laugh. But keep trying, as the odds are you will eventually say something mildly amusing.”

Silah took off, and we headed to the start of the path to Paarthurnax.

I told my friends, “Do not lag. My Shout will clear the path for only a short time. The wind is not strong, but the fog is designed to kill sentient mortals. You will find that wildlife quite happily exists within it.”

I used a full-strength Clear Skies Shout. It echoed for many seconds from the mountains surrounding The Throat of the Word.

The wind and fog cleared, and we started our ascent.

It got dark enough to force the use of Night Vision.

When we reached the summit and the overhead fog was gone, it was light enough to use my lantern instead of Night Vision.

At the end of the path, my stomach started to churn.

Paarthurnax roared his challenge and landed with a thump that reverberated through the mountain’s stone.

I turned to my friends and said, “Please, stay here while I speak to Paarthurnax.”

I approached slowly and stopped before getting within weapon distance. Turning to the right resulted in extreme vertigo. I could not see the Time-Wound, but it was undeniably there.

In a deep baritone, Paarthrunax said, “Drem Yol Lok. Greetings, wunduniik. I am Paarthurnax. Who are you? What brings you to my strunmah… my mountain?”

“You are old and wise, so you already know who I am and why I am here. You and Silah have been preparing for my arrival, have you not?”

“Yes. Vahzah. You speak true, Dovahkiin. Forgive me. It has been long since I held tinvaak with a joor, a mortal. I gave in to the temptation to prolong our speech.”

“Yet you have chosen to live atop a mountain. It is almost impossible for any mortal to reach here and tinvaak with you.”

“Evenaar Bahlok. There are many hungers it is better to deny than to feed. Dreh ni nahkip. Discipline against the lesser aids in qahnaar… denial of the greater.”

“You have isolated for millennia to deny your base instincts for conquest and domination?”

“I am as my father Akatosh made me. As are you… Dovahkiin.”

“Yes, and I, too, fight my baser instincts.”

“Tell me. Why do you come here, volaan? Why do you intrude on my meditation?”

“You were expecting me, so how can I be an intruder? This mountain belongs to the mortals of this land, of which I am one, so how can I be an intruder? It is a bit brazen to claim this as your strunmah! You are a guest here, or have you forgotten?”

I was testing this infamous Dovah. I wanted to see how well he had suppressed the base instincts that led to him committing some of the worst atrocities of The Dragon War. Having old men who worship the gas you fart is not a challenge to those instincts.

Paarthurnax stared at me for several seconds, shook his massive head, and said, “Again, you speak the truth, Dovahkiin.”

“I need to learn the Dragonrend Shout. Can you teach me?”

“Drem. Patience. At the first meeting of two Dov, some formalities must be observed. By long tradition, the elder speaks first.”

Paarthurnax turned till he was facing a Word Wall. I stepped closer to him.

He said, “Hear my Thu’um! Feel it in your bones. Match it if you are Dovahkiin!”

Paarthurnax then scorched the Word Wall with Dragonfire. Even standing at his side, the heat was uncomfortable.

I approached the Word Wall but already knew the Word of Power, Yol, the first Word of the Fire Breath Shout.

Paarthurnax said, “A gift, Dovahkiin. Yol. Understand Fire as the Dov do.”

Paarthurnax tried to gift me his knowledge of the Word but could not.

“Ah, I forget that you already know the Word and the entire Shout. Silah says you know more Shouts than any mortal before you.”

“Gifts from Kyne. I needed to be powerful in the Thu’um quicker than The Greybeards wanted me to be.”

“And you did not wish to hunt Dov for that power. Silah says you are a brother in reality and not just terminology.”

“I baulk at hunting any sentient being in a bid for power, not just Dov. I find the absorption of Dov souls abhorrent, as they will never have a chance at redemption in this Kalpa or any other.”

“They choose to fight you and perish. Therefore, I can feel no sympathy for them. Now, show me what you can do. Greet me not as a mortal but as Dovah!”

I decided to do the full Shout but at half strength.

“YOL TOOR SHUL”

“Aah… yes! Sossedov los mul. The Dragonblood runs strong in you!”

“Daar lost ni dii pah mulaag. Nii los onik wah qah grik.” (That was not my full strength. It is wise to hide such.)

“Another sensible decision. You have made your way here to me. No easy task for a joor… mortal. Even for one of Dovah Sos. Dragonblood. What would you ask of me?”

“The same question I asked five minutes ago. Can you teach me the Dragonrend Shout?”

“Krosis. Sorrowfully, no. It cannot be known to me.”

“Do you know of a way for me to learn it?”

“Drem. All in good time. First, I have a question for you. Why do you want to learn Dragonrend?”

“I need to stop Alduin and not because of prophecy or destiny. Mortals need to be free to thrive or perish. Alduin as overlord denied mortals their freedom, and I will not allow him to do so again.”

“Yes. Alduin… Zeymah. The elder brother. He is gifted, grasping and troublesome, as is often the case with firstborn. Many believe he intends to end the current Kalpa. Some would say that all things must end so that the next can come to pass. Perhaps this world is simply the egg of the next Kalpa? Lein vokiin? Would you stop the next world from being born?”

“Arngeir is one of those, and I tried to explain that is not Alduin’s intent or purpose. However, if the next world were supposed to be born, I would fail. I will not stop fighting because some idiots don’t know love or ambition and want to see this world end. Let them try and stop me if they think that is what should happen. I will oppose any who threaten mortals, Nirn or Mundus!”

“Paaz. A fair answer. Ro fus… maybe you only balance the forces that work to quicken the end of this world. Even we who ride the currents of Time cannot see past Time’s end… Wuldsetiid los tahrodiis. Those who try to hasten the end may delay it. Those who work to delay the end may bring it closer.”

“If I wanted to debate philosophy, I would do so in a tavern over a few meads.”

“You have indulged my weakness for speech long enough. Krosis. Now I will answer your question. Do you know why I live here, at the peak of the Monahven – what you name Throat of the World?”

“Do you know there is nothing more annoying than answering a question with a question?”

Silah laughed as she flew overhead.

“Drem. Patience. I am answering in my way. This is the most sacred mountain in Skyrim. The great mountain of the world. Here the ancient Tongues, the first mortal masters of The Voice, brought Alduin to battle and defeated him.”

“Despite what the fifth emblem says, they did not Shout Alduin out of this world. Dragonrend was used, but Alduin’s Wall suggests that Felldir the Old did something else. Something that cast Alduin out of this world.”

“Alduin was not truly defeated. If he were, you would not be here today, seeking to… defeat him.”

“DUH!”

Silah laughed again, and Paarthurnax growled as he briefly looked up at her.

“The Nords of those days used the Dragonrend Shout to cripple Alduin. But this was not enough. Ok mulaag unslaad. It was the Kel – the Elder Scroll. They used it to… cast him adrift on the currents of Time.”

“Did they erroneously think Alduin would remain adrift?”

“Some hoped he would be gone forever, forever lost. Meyye. I knew better. Tiid bo amativ. Time flows ever onward. One day he would surface, which is why I have lived here. For thousands of mortal years, I have waited. I knew where he would emerge but not when.”

“The Time-Wound and the use of the Kel. Are they connected?”

“Tiid krent. Time was… shattered here because of what the ancient Nords did to Alduin. If you brought that Kel, that Elder Scroll back here… to the Tiid-Ahraan, the Time-Wound… With the Elder Scroll that was used to break Time, you may be able to… cast yourself back. To the other end of the break. You could learn Dragonrend from those who created it.”

“That would be ethereal travel through time, not just space.”

“Silah says you can ethereally travel and did so without training. Your Dovah Soul and associated affinity for time should allow you to travel through time ethereally.”

“Elder Scrolls are dependent on the nature of linear time. That is why they cannot foretell the events of a Dragon Break or confirm the divergent histories of such. Each reading of an Elder Scroll will offer a different possible outcome of a particular event dependent on the reader and the unique sequence of events up to the reading time. Once an event has occurred, every reader of an Elder Scroll will read the same passage concerning that event.”

“Your point, Dovahkiin?”

“Drem. Patience. I am figuring this out my way.”

Paarthurnax joined Silah in laughter this time.

I continued, “The Dragonborn Prophecy omens are not written as possibilities but past historical events. It is worded the same no matter how many people read that Elder Scroll. That is why The Dragonguard felt confident to show it on Alduin’s Wall, even if allegorically. And now my train of thought fails as the Time-Wound disturbs me.”

“Silah said you have a talent for logic. If seeking why my plan will work, you might have to abandon logic. Return here with an Elder Scroll to the Tiid-Ahraan. Then… Kelle vomindok. Nothing is certain with such things… But I believe the Scroll’s bond with the Tiid-Ahraan will allow you a… a seeing, a vision of the moment of its creation. Then you will feel – know – Dragonrend, in the power of its first expression. You will see them… wuth fadonne… my friends – Hakon, Gormlaith, Felldir.”

“The Nine have requested I do not travel to Cyrodiil. I will need to find an Elder Scroll in Skyrim.”

“I know little of what has passed below in the long years I have lived here. You are likely better informed than I. Trust your instincts, Dovahkiin. Your blood will show you the way.”

“I will start my search at The College of Winterhold.”

“You know of my three friends?”

“Only because my parents purchased rare tomes to read.”

“They were the first mortals I taught The Thu’um – the first Tongues. The leaders of the rebellion against Alduin. They were mighty in their day. Even to attempt to defeat Alduin… sahrot hunne. The Nords have had many heroes since, but none greater.”

“Those three Ancient Tongues did not slaughter Mer, so have been mostly forgotten by the Nords. I wonder if the Tongues deliberately hid knowledge of Dragonrend and the Elder Scroll. I wonder if they foresaw Alduin’s eventual return.”

“Vomindok. I do not know. Perhaps in the very doing, they erased the knowledge of it from Time itself. The Dov are children of Akatosh. Thus, we are especially attuned to the flow of Time. Perhaps also uniquely vulnerable. I warned them against such a rash action. Even I could not foresee its consequences. Nust ni hon. They would not listen.”

“You were Alduin’s second in command. Even today, some will not forgive you for atrocities committed.”

“There were a few of us who rebelled against Alduin’s thur… his tyranny. We aided the humans in his overthrow. But they did not trust us. Ni ov. Their inner councils were kept hidden from us. I was far from here on the day of Alduin’s downfall. But all Dov felt the… sundering of Time itself.”

“Trust is a product of time and deed. I can understand mortal mistrust that early in your cooperative relationship.”

“Indeed, that is logical. However, it is not only mortals whose emotions ignore logic.”

“It is refreshing to tinvaak with you, Paarthurnax. We are covering much ground with few words. Can you tell me what Dragonrend does?”

“I cannot tell you in detail. I never heard it used. Kogaan. It was the first Thu’um created solely by mortals. It was said to force a dragon to experience the concept of Mortality. A truly vonmindoraan… incomprehensible idea to the immortal Dov.”

“My relationship with The Greybeards is fractured. You are the Master of the Greybeards. Did you instruct them on how they should aid me?”

“No, and if that aid was lacking, that is their error and burden to bear.”

“Was Ulfric Stormcloak trained by you?”

“No, Dovahkiin. Saraan. You are the first mortal who is not a Greybeard to visit here in over a hundred years. Your companions are welcome to tinvaak as well.”

“We shall visit and tinvaak, Paarthurnax. Of that, you can be assured.”

“That would be most pleasing.”

“All of those years atop this mountain would seem unbearably tedious to most.”

“I meditate on the Rotmulaag – the Words of Power. I counsel in their use. That is enough for me.”

“Although my Thu’um is strong, I find it difficult to focus effectively. I feel my Shouts getting stronger, but still, the potential is mostly untapped.”

“Knowing a Word of Power is to take its meaning into yourself. Contemplate the meaning of a Rotmulaag. You will become close to that Word as it fills your inner self.”

“I dismissed such mumbo jumbo from Arngeir, but my relationship with him was already fractured. I would be willing to learn if you are willing to teach.”

“There are three Words I use as examples of such mastery. Let us start with Fus. It is called ‘force’ in Tamrielic. But as you push the world, so does the world push back. Think of how force may be applied effortlessly – imagine that a whisper is pushing aside all in its path. That is Fus. Let its meaning fill you. Su’um ahrk morah. You will push the world harder than it pushes back.”

“I am shocked. That advice is logical!”

“You are a most unusual joor, Dovahkiin!”

Predictably, Silah found that amusing and laughed. So did my friends, who I thought may have fallen asleep by now.

“Knowing who my parents are, is that surprising?”

“Not at all. The next Word is Feim, which means fade in Tamrielic.  Joor have a greater affinity for this Word than the Dov. Everything mortal fades away in time, but the spirit remains. Ponder the meaning of spirit. Unslaad zii. Where mortal flesh may wither and die, the spirit endures. That is Feim. Let that meaning fill you. Su’um ahrk morah. You will find that your spirit will give you more strength.”

“It is strange, but I can feel my focus is sharpened for Shouts that use these Word of Power.”

“It takes discipline to contemplate Rotmulaag for extended periods. But such mental exercise will improve every Word you use.”

“This makes sense as it is not shrouded by the philosophy of The Way of The Voice.”

“This is how I taught the first Tongues. There is no need to entwine Windcaller’s teachings with such lessons.”

“And the third Word?”

“It is Yol. In Tamrielic, the word simply means ‘fire.’ It is change given form, power at its most primal. That is the true meaning of Yol – suleyk, power. You have it, as do all Dov. But power is inert without action and choice. Think of this as the fire builds in your su’um, in your breath. Su’um ahrk morah. What will you burn? What will you spare?”

“I can choose to burn only enemies and not others nearby?”

“Yes, with mastery that can only be achieved through such contemplation. Instead of the fire’s energy being divided amongst all in its path, only those you desire will feel its heat. Thus, each target will suffer greater damage without increasing Thu’um.”

“And that counts for inanimate targets as well?”

“You did not witness Alduin destroy Helgen. If you had, you would have seen him melt stone.”

“Oh, that sounds pleasant when we finally confront him.”

“You have some natural resistance. You will have to use lah, Magicka, to protect your colleagues and increase their resistance.”

“I shall return with the Kel as soon as possible, Paarthurnax. It has been an honour to meet and tinvaak.”

Paarthurnax turned to my friends and said, “While Dovahkiin climbs to the summit, as he will inevitably do, please, come and tinvaak with me. Provide me with gossip so I can keep Silah amused, so she visits often.”

My friends approached Paarthurnax while I concentrated on reaching the summit.

On my climb, I found a chest that led to a pocket plane of Oblivion. It is similar to the room where we store the original artefacts from the museum. But that room is shared with The College of Winterhold and has many safeguards from burglary. I will investigate the room further when time permits. The chest shrunk and could fit in my pocket. I dared not store it inside my journal case!

Near the summit, I discovered a magnificent pickaxe. It was undoubtedly a relic of some sort, so I hung it from my belt and continued to climb.

As I stood on the very top of the highest point in Tamriel, I could see the aurora’s reflection in the distant Sea of Ghosts. I asked myself, “I wonder what Rigmor would make of this view?”

I almost toppled off my precarious perch when Rigmor answered, “Well, my silly Dragonborn, describe it to me.”

“Rigmor? What? How?”

“What do we both have dangling around our necks?”

“The amulets! That means…”

“It means your father has enabled them sooner than I thought he would.”

“The Divines know how I have struggled. Ten days without you, and I am a mess.”

“I have been better since that night you visited. But I know your burden is not the same as mine. My days involve meeting a seemingly endless stream of bureaucrats and business people. Tomorrow I will hold court for the first time. It should be interesting to see how Freathof and Malesam act when I deliberately break protocol on occasion.”

“I cannot do this view justice. I will wait till you are standing next to me, or at least close to me, as there is only room for one on the pointy summit. Then you can tell me what you see, and I will wonder how I missed what you point out.”

“Have you made progress with Alduin?”

“Despite obstacles, yes, I am now in search of an Elder Scroll. With it, I will go back in time and see how Alduin was defeated.”

“Back in time?”

“Yep.”

“Gobblygook?”

“Major gobblygook.”

“Have you added any more to your team?”

“You would receive news of Noble appointments.”

“Yes, so I know you are now also Thane of Riften and Solitude. Therefore, you have two new housecarls.”

“Yes, Jordis the Swordmaiden from Solitude and Iona from Riften. You cannot be Thane without owning property in the Hold. So, I also have another two houses. Proudspire Manor is my house in Solitude, a few doors away from the safe house. The one in Riften is called Honeyside, and it has a balcony overlooking the lake. Both have spas.”

“Cool! I look forward to seeing them, and ahh, trying out their beds.”

“You never did get another opportunity to molest me!”

“Any other odd strays?”

“A blue Khajiit called Inigo. He is an ex Skooma addict who was paying to live in Riften jail. He is a wonderful person, and you will like him.”

“Blue? Did he fall into a vat of dye or something?”

“No, it has to do with the alignment of the moons when he was born.”

“Anybody else?”

“A little orphan girl from Riften. Her name is Olette, and I think I will adopt her. I am funding the rebuilding of the orphanage in Riften and its running and a new one in Solitude.”

“You have had some time to move forward with your plans.”

“Very little time, Rigmor. I have been running from one crisis to another.”

“The news sheets reported the dragon attack on Solitude.”

“One of many battles I have been in. Since you crossed into Cyrodiil, I have had to kill in numbers every day. Over five hundred mortals have fallen to me in ten days, Rigmor! Half as many Draugr and other undead.”

“Oh, my dear Wulf! No wonder they have enabled the amulets.”

“Friends surround me. But speaking to you is somehow different. Even via the amulets, you ease my burden. Now I can start pining about holding you once more.”

“We both need Our Peace, Wulf. We warned your father of that.”

“I will be back in the safe house soon. I would like to talk while I lay in bed. There is much to discuss from your end, I am sure.”

“There sure is! I have confided in Cerys. She is a sweetie, and we have become firm friends. There is no way she would blab to her father.”

“Okay then, my beloved. We shall talk again soon.”

“Wulf, always remember that I love you.”

“I know, but we need to be together, my Rigmor.”