Turdas, 2nd Frostfall, 4E 201
I crawled into bed just before 2:00 AM and used my amulet.
“How is my beloved?”
“I have been waiting for an update! But I didn’t want to talk to you when you might need to concentrate suddenly.”
“It has been hectic. Let me tell you what has happened since we last talked….”
I spent an hour telling Rigmor what had occurred.
She said, “Get some sleep, Wulf. Talk to me again before you leave.”
“I promise I shall.”
Within a minute of the end of our talk, I was asleep and did not wake till 10:00 AM.
I made my way to the spa and turned on the jets. I then closed my eyes and contacted Rigmor.
“Can you talk?”
“Yes, I will just give my little hand signal. There you go, the court suspended till I return! Wait a few seconds, and I will be in my private chambers.”
I listened to the water and steam and tried to discern patterns or rhythm but failed.
A short time later, Rigmor asked, “Okay, I am in my bedroom. Where are you?”
“In the spa.”
“Ahh, no, I thought I would wash my armour simultaneously.”
“Quick, Wulf, I need something to stop these lustful thoughts!”
“Delphine, naked, with Arngeir grunting on top, arse in the air. A bony hairy arse!”
“Okay, no need to go that far! Stay down breakfast!”
“I don’t know what will happen when I go back in time, Rigmor.”
“You avoided the subject earlier.”
“I am not used to being so unsure of something. I thought my worries were worsened by fatigue. I hoped to be more positive after sleep, but that is not the case.”
“Our Quiet would remove such doubts.”
“Yeah, I would be positive I was doomed!”
“Not funny, Wulf! I think you should get it over with. Otherwise, you will keep inventing negative outcomes.”
“Your right, as usual. I will talk to you after I return from my time travel.”
‘Go knowing that our love is the strongest force known, and even Alduin cannot withstand its power.”
“Have fun. Any bastard accusations today?”
“Yes, but I think the girl might as well accuse half her village from rumours I have heard. But they are rumours, and she may be an innocent, chaste girl seduced by a lustful farmhand. Similar to how my Guardian molested me.”
“I am naked! Not a stitch do I wear!”
“Right, going back to court now. Delphine, hairy butt, grunting, Delphine, hairy butt, grunting….”
I laughed, but I was plagued with doubt within seconds of ending the talk with Rigmor.
I sat deeper into the water and let the grime wash away as I tortured myself by imagining nightmare scenarios.
My friends would not know of the doubt I carried. As usual, my façade was one of confidence.
Inigo was sitting away from Jo’rassa. Both seemed cheerful enough, so their discussion must have ended on a conciliatory note.
I sat next to Inigo in front of the fire.
I said, “Okay, Jo’rassa had her turn, and now it is mine. We will talk about who you think I am, and it is not an option!”
“I am ready. Say what you must.”
“I cannot possibly be the person you shot. I was in Akavir till a couple of months ago, and I think I would remember getting shot! Not only that, I am wealthy and would have no need to resort to crime.”
“I know. When you first denied our past in my cell, I did not believe you. Now I know better. I am sorry. I have misled you and myself, and our time together began with a lie. I am glad it is ending with the truth. I will bother you no longer. For what it is worth, thank you. We had some good times, you and I. Goodbye.”
“You’re speaking drivel, but still, talk we must.”
“There is nothing to talk about. Langley was right. I am crazy. My mind is broken!”
“Langley is in no position to judge you or comment on your sanity. He doesn’t know you, but I do! You haven’t misled me since I never thought I was the one who was shot! You believed what you said and were mistaken. That is not lying! You have been through a lot, so stop being so hard on yourself!”
“I am not worthy of your time.”
“You have a good soul. You are my friend and part of my team. You are worth more than my time.”
“What did you call me?”
“You are my friend. A good and close friend who I am starting to rely on.”
“Do you really mean it? I will not hold it against you if you do not.”
“I said that you are my friend. If you doubt my word, I will be forced to hurt you. You said something similar to Langley, and it warmed my heart to hear it.”
“Thank you. That means more than you know. I honestly thought we had a past together, but as time went by, I did begin to doubt myself. You are so similar to the person I once knew. You even smell the same… in a good way.”
“I don’t think you wanted to face the fact you killed your old friend.”
“Yes, I think deep down I knew my old friend was dead. I needed to believe forgiveness was possible, and if not forgiveness… redemption in death. I deceived myself. It was selfish of me.”
“It is understandable and does not make you a bad person.”
“Thank you, my friend. I still have much to live for because of you.”
“Inigo, you are helping me against Alduin! You might save the world from The Doom Strider. You may even help me save the world a few times before he appears. You have much to live for, including the friends you have already made! Oh, and don’t forget the lovely Jo’rassa!”
“I promised Jo’rassa we would spend some time together at one of your houses if that is okay with you?”
“That is a good idea and perfectly okay. I think you will all deserve a rest once we have dealt with Alduin.”
“True! Anyway, I am still in your debt. You gave me a reason to go on, you made me face my past, and now you are helping me come to terms with what I have done. I will follow you to Oblivion and back if need be. I did not mean to lie to you… or myself. I am ashamed. I hope in time that I will be able to earn your forgiveness. In the end, I hope our friendship and future adventures will prove more important than how we met.”
“I am going around in circles here! There is nothing to forgive, and I was never deceived! It matters not how we met. You are my friend and part of a fantastic team trying to save everybody from enslavement. When we succeed, every person you see will owe their freedom to you. Think about that!”
“That is very kind. It is a beautiful gesture, but my debt to you stands. I have not come near to earning forgiveness yet.”
“Surely, I am the one to judge if you have anything to be forgiven for?”
“Your words bring me joy, but I do not deserve them. I am happy you do not hold my confusion about our past against me, but I cannot say the same. Also, the person I thought you were is dead because of me. He is yet another casualty of my former life. I will know when I am ready to move on, but for now, the guilt I bear still weighs down on my heart. Maybe that guilt will be there for the rest of my life. I am the only one who can let it go.”
“I can understand your guilt about the killing of your old friend. That I cannot forgive you for as I am not the one who was wronged. But I will do what I can to help and hope your heart will recognise redemption when you find it.”
“Yes. I believe it will. I must continue to readdress my life’s balance. I can feel a shift already.”
“You killed one person under the influence of Skooma. You and Fergus saved a lot of people and did a lot of good deeds together. You are now facing terrible danger by my side, helping all the people of Nirn! Put those facts on the scales and see your life’s balance.”
“J’darr and J’zhar upset me a great deal, my friend.”
“Skooma withdrawal must be a terrible thing.”
“Indeed, it is. J’darr would not have realised how odd it was to be conversing with his dead brother.”
“Yes, it is not like he stumbled upon his brother’s body. He killed him with an axe!”
“J’darr was a pitiful wretch. He reminded me of my past self, which has been on my mind ever since. I am lucky to have escaped a similar fate.”
“The day I met you, Inigo, I saved Wujeeta from that fate. I was too late to save Olette’s mother.”
“Do you think J’darr was a victim of bad choices?”
“I can’t judge somebody without knowing more. Who am I to say I wouldn’t make the same choices as they? I doubt anybody becomes an alcoholic or a Skooma addict because it appeals to them as a recreational pastime! Everybody has a breaking point, and I fear what I would do if I reached mine, Inigo.”
“Yes, when I reached my breaking point, I knew taking Skooma was a bad idea, but I lacked the willpower to do anything else. Maybe J’darr was in a similar predicament when he started his habit? He may have had a choice, but perhaps long ago, he was in a place where the taking Skooma was as involuntary as a yawn or a sneeze.”
“As I said, who am I to say I wouldn’t make the same choices?”
“Indeed. When most people see someone down on their luck, they assume they would never be in the same position. They may be right, but sometimes we make bad choices that do not seem like choices at the time.”
“Most people don’t want to know why a child is left to prostitute themselves or beg. They don’t want to know that the person with a missing limb lost it when fighting for the privileges and freedoms enjoyed by others. My parents taught me an ancient saying that has guided me throughout my life.”
“What is it?”
“But for the roll of the dice, there go I. In other words, not all people are born with equal opportunity, and it is random where your soul emerges each Kalpa. Some people raise themselves from poverty, and we marvel at their grit and perseverance. Saint Alessia is an example. But they are the exception because most who start in poverty will remain there no matter how hard they try to better their lot. Many do not have the perseverance or empathy to continue a legal struggle and see crime as an option. I try to help where I can. That is the duty of those with the means to help.”
“Yes. I am lucky you asked me to join you when you did.”
“I offered, but you chose to join me.”
“It is true. We both played a part.”
“All some people need is a helping hand. Wujeeta is now thriving, and all I did was offer her that chance. She took it, Inigo. You took yours when you agreed to join me.”
“Maybe if J’darr had a friend watching out for him, he would still be alive.”
“J’zhar tried the best he could, but circumstances made his plan go astray. I think J’darr appreciated that helping hand until the Skooma withdrawal overtook all thought.”
“Seeing J’darr like that made me appreciate my new life. Anyway, let’s change the subject. How are you doing?”
“Ahh, I wish you hadn’t asked that, Inigo.”
“My friend, you don’t think your confidence and bravado fool us?”
“Most of the time, it is not an act, Inigo. However, this travelling through time is an unknown. Even Paarthurnax, with thousands of years of wisdom and knowledge, is unsure of what will happen. Perhaps the only being who might have the requisite knowledge is AKA, the time god oversoul. Taking The Elder Scroll to the Time Wound is a gamble. I do not fear for my life, Inigo. I fear that I might fail the people of Nirn.”
“You have not talked to us about your father. But I understand after talking to others that the gods do not help you with some things as they want you to learn when seeking answers.”
“That is one reason I do not ask them. However, even the gods don’t know everything, Inigo. I will sit and talk about my parents with you all after defeating Alduin. It is major gobblygook and dangerous information.”
“Is your mother a god as well?”
“Yes, she is Saint Alessia.”
“An Emperor and Empress who are now gods. And I thought having Khajiit and Argonian assassins as step-parents was unusual!”
“My childhood was fairly normal, Inigo, as was yours. Good people make good parents, and that is a universal truth.”
“It is approaching midday. You wanted to try the Time-Wound at midday.”
“Yes, it is a line in the sand, you might say. That is the time I set myself, and my conscience won’t broker any delay, so let us get moving!”
“Okay, my friend. I shall visit the privy and will be ready to go.”
I walked over to Jo’rassa, who greeted me with a huge smile.
She said, “Wulf, Bashita said she would help me select some leather armour from your collection. Is that okay?”
“Yes, of course! You can stay with us along as you want, Jo’rassa. We can’t have you wearing the outfit of a defunct gang of assassins!”
“Inigo said that Commander Maro almost kissed you as he was so happy!”
“The Penitus Oculatus’ major concern is the safety of high-ranking nobles. It is no secret that assassin guilds have bypassed such security in the past.”
“Yes, and they were on edge recently when The New Order had assassins in play.”
“I currently have assassins from Solstheim hunting me. I have a couple of agents there trying to figure out what is going on. The assassins are religious nuts whose master is another Dragonborn. This other Dragonborn is allied with Hermaeus Mora and has been alive since the Dragon War.”
“Dragonborn are not beholden to The Nine?”
“I am not forced to do anything. It is my free will that determines my path in life. This other Dragonborn, Miraak is his name, used the blessings of Lord Akatosh for selfish gains.”
“Inigo said that you are going back in time.”
“My spirit, the conscious part of my soul, can travel via the ethereal plane. Theoretically, it can travel to anywhere in the Aurbis, the universe. I think I can also travel through time if a conduit, a passage, can be created to another time. I need to go back in time to learn how to defeat Alduin.”
‘Your body will be in this time, but your soul will be in the past?”
“Part of my soul. The Life Force half will remain here. My body should simply freeze in place, like a statue, while my conscience is in the past.”
“Is there a danger to this ethereal travel?”
“Yes, there is a thing called a Silver Cord that connects the two parts of your soul. It is not physical but metaphysical. In other words, it is not a thing but a law of nature. If the Silver Cord is cut, you die. Your conscience is thrown into The Void. It is not a nice place, but I would not remain there. My gods would take me to my afterlife.”
“Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar said you speak with gods.”
“Yes, I do. Both Aedra and Daedra. There are other types of god, but I have not met one yet.”
“It must be fascinating to travel with you.”
“I suppose it would be if any of my companions had time to think. The last couple of months has been hectic, one crisis after another. Hopefully, after dealing with Alduin, we can rest for a few days.”
“Inigo and I have talked through a lot of things. If we can spend some time together, we can sort out where we go from here.”
“No matter what, he will have free time after helping me deal with Alduin. He will deserve it.”
“Why did you rescue him from Riften prison?”
“I can read a person’s soul. But even if I see it is tainted, I might think the person can redeem themselves. Inigo has done good for others and deserves a chance to redeem himself. However, only he can choose when that redemption is complete.”
“Here he comes. Good luck with the time travel, Wulf.”
I summoned Iona and Lydia. They would be joining Celestine, Vayu and Inigo. Jordis was feeling ill, otherwise she would have joined us.
After discussions with Vayu, we have decided all are now Dragonguard. We cannot perform the old rituals and tests undertaken in Akavir. However, it has always been the Grandmaster who has the right to name somebody Dragonguard. Vayu has decided anybody I select to accompany me will be regarded as Dragonguard.
Inigo asked, “My friend, do we have to climb that mountain again?”
“No, Inigo. I know The Throat of The World well enough after one visit to teleport there.”
I teleported The Dragonguard to the summit.
Paarthurnax watched as we approached. I am getting quite proficient in reading Dov body language. I could tell the old dragon was excited about something and wondered how long since that had last happened.
I stood before him and held out the Elder Scroll.
He said, “You have it! The Kel – the Elder Scroll. Tiid kreh… qalos. Time shudders at its touch.”
“As I shudder when near the Time-Wound.”
“There is no question. You are doom-driven. Kogaan Akatosh. The very bones of the earth are at your disposal.”
“My mortal friends helped me recover the Kel.”
“Go then. Fulfil your destiny. Take the Scroll to the Time-Wound. Do not delay. Alduin will be coming. He cannot miss the signs.”
“I do not believe in destiny, Paarthurnax. However, I believe in free will, and I choose to use the Kel.”
I stood next to the time wound, visible in the bright sunshine.
Inigo said, “My friend, you look pale.”
“If I concentrate, I can feel linear time move forward at a steady and familiar pace. If I stare into the Time-Wound, I see time swirling in different directions and speeds. It is like a tornado or whirlwind compared to a steady breeze. When I step inside the Time-Wound, my sense of time will cause disorientation.”
I stepped into the Time-Wound, and all the training I had undertaken saved my sanity. The Psijic had taught me how to concentrate under many types of stress and unusual circumstances. Nothing I had experienced before even approached the Time-Wound’s confusion inflicted upon me.
I groaned and swayed but remained upright. I said to The Dragonguard, “I will stand here, transfixed and not moving. I may even fade out a little or entirely. Do not worry about me but keep your eyes on the sky. Paarthurnax is certain that Alduin will realise what is happening and make an appearance. Face the four cardinal points and be prepared to fight for your lives. None of the other dragons will have prepared you for his strength. Celestine, your responsibility is the health of your comrades. Do not engage in the combat.”
I opened the scroll, and a web with superimposed lines and circled Ehlnofex runes were burned into my subconscious, not my retina. Instinctively I sought for and found the conduit to the time of Alduin’s banishment. I willed myself there, and the present started to fade.
Inigo turned to keep watch for Alduin. He said, “Good luck, my friend.”
The past slowly came into focus.
Here I record the heroic deeds of those ancient Tongues for the first time in their entirety.
Hakon On-Eye came running along the path that now leads to High Hrothgar. A dragon, Grahziinir, was in pursuit.
Hakon yelled, “Gormlaith! We are running out of time! The battle….”
Grahziinir landed in front of Hakon.
I moved away from the Time-Wound.
Grahziinir said, “Daar sul thur se Alduin. Today Alduin’s lordship shall be restored. But I honour your courage. Krif voth ahkrin. Die now, in vain.”
As he attacked, Hakon yelled, “For Skyrim!”
Grahziinir tried to burn Hakon with Dragonfire. The Tongue must have had protective dweomer; otherwise, he would have joined the other burnt husks littering the summit.
When fire proved ineffective, Grahziinir resorted to his formidable array of teeth as his primary weapon. Hakon would dodge the giant maw and swing his battleaxe in return whilst engulfed in flames.
The battleaxe has the same weakness as other two-handed weapons. They are slow and easy to avoid, which Grahziinir did with lightning reflexes. Hakon would tire long before the dragon and eventually get caught in those massive jaws.
A loud “Hyah!” announced the arrival of Gormlaith Golden-Hilt.
She ran up and sliced Grahziinir across his face with her sword.
When Grahziinir recoiled, she leapt upon his head.
Gormlaith struggled to gain her footing as Grahziinir shook his head in a desperate effort to dislodge her.
Gormlaith yelled, “Know that Gormlaith sent you down to death!”
She then stabbed Grahziinir through his right eye, her sword finding the dragon’s brain.
Grahziinir died, and Gormlaith leapt from the dragon’s corpse.
I braced for the soul absorption, briefly forgetting I was not physically there. I stared at Grahziinir’s corpse and wondered if he was ever restored.
The pair walked towards Felldir the Old, the third of the heroic Tongues.
I discovered I could Blink, ethereally shift, so I looked around the battlefield and observed the cost of war. Mortal and Dov suffered for Alduin’s ambitions.
- Gormlaith: Hakon! A glorious day is it not!
- Hakon: Have you no thought beyond the blooding of your blade?
- Gormlaith: What else is there?
- Hakon: The battle below goes ill. If Alduin does not rise to our challenge, I fear all may be lost.
- Gormlaith: You worry too much, brother. Victory will be ours.
Many dragons flew overhead but did not attack. I assumed they awaited their overlord.
Gormlaith stood before Felldir. Hakon moved away to survey Skyrim’s landscape.
- Hakon: Why does Alduin hang back? We’ve staked everything on this plan of yours, old man.
- Felldir: He will come. He cannot ignore our defiance. And why should he fear us, even now?
- Gormlaith: We’ve bloodied him well. Four of his kin have fallen to my blade alone this day.
- Felldir: But none have yet survived against Alduin! Galthor, Sorri, Birkir…
- Gormlaith: They did not have Dragonrend and could not hurt him when he was in the air. Once we bring him down, I promise I shall have his head.
- Felldir: You do not understand. Alduin cannot be slain like a lesser dragon. He is beyond our strength, which is why I brought with me the Elder Scroll.
Felldir reached into the folds of his robes and then held forth an Elder Scroll.
He turned his head to address Hakon.
- Hakon: Felldir! We agreed not to use it!
- Felldir: I never agreed. And if you are right, I will not need it.
- Hakon: No. We will deal with Alduin ourselves, here and now.
- Gormlaith: We shall see soon enough. Alduin approaches!
As Felldir hid the Elder Scroll under his robes, he stared into my eyes. There is no way he could see me, but perhaps he sensed me as Rigmor has done before.
Hakon said, “Do you sense it as well, Felldir?”
I looked at Hakon, and he was staring at where I stood.
Felldir finished hiding the Elder Scroll and replied, “Let us concentrate on Alduin.”
Hakon replied, “So be it!”
The World-Eater roared as he spiralled and then landed upon a Word Wall.
Clouds rapidly cleared after Alduin’s roar.
Then, dark storm clouds appeared as rapidly, and meteors began to fall.
Alduin’s roar had acted as a Shout. No Words of Power were used!
In a deep, baritone voice, Alduin said, “Meyye! Tahrodiis aanne! Him hinde pah livv! Zu’u hin daan!” (Fools! Treacherous slaves! All your hopes are withered. I am your doom!)
Gormlaith yelled, “Let those who watch from Sovngarde envy us this day!”
Alduin lifted from the Word Wall with a roar as meteors showered upon The Throat of the World.
All three Tongues Shouted, “JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
The three Power Words of Dragonrend mean Mortal, Finite and Temporary. They make a Dovah contemplate their mortality. So disturbed is the Dovah that they lose the concentration required to fly.
A blue miasma surrounded Alduin as he landed heavily in a barely controlled landing.
He growled, “Nivahriin joorre! What have you done? What twisted Words have you created?! Tahrodiis Paarthurnax! My teeth to his neck! But first… dir ko maar. You will die in terror, knowing your final fate… To feed my power when I come for you in Sovngarde!”
Gormlaith said, “If I die today, it will not be in terror. You feel fear for the first time, worm. I see it in your eyes.”
It was a revelation that during the Dragon War, Alduin consumed souls in Sovngarde. I can understand the knowledge of Dragonrend being lost due to the Time-Wound. It was used once in the battle unfolding before me. However, if knowledge of Alduin’s soul-consuming were widespread, the Time-Wound would not have erased it. The Dragonguard would have shared that disturbing knowledge on Alduin’s Wall.
Alduin turned his head from side to side. At first, I thought he was merely taking the measure of his three opponents.
Alduin’s head stopped, and he stared where my spirit stood. I believe that it was then that he learned to recognise my disturbance of linear time.
I provided a temporary distraction. Alduin’s attention returned to the three Tongues as they engaged him with weapon and Thu’um.
Felldir Shouted, “FO KRAH DIIN”
Even with the might of Felldir’s Thu’um, Frost Breath had little impact on Alduin.
Gormlaith yelled, “Skyrim will be free!”
Alduin lunged far faster than any dragon I have faced. His mouth snapped closed around Gormlaith, and bones could be heard splintering.
She died quickly, and only her armour stopped Alduin from biting her in two. Alduin then shook her body like a terrier with a rat.
Alduin tossed Gormlaith’s broken body towards the Word Wall.
It bounced off the edge of the Word Wall onto rocks. Then it fell, face-first into the snow.
Hakon yelled, “No, damn you! It’s no use! Use the Scroll, Felldir! Now!”
Hakon attacked Alduin as a Berserker. He cared not for defence, and all effort was directed towards offence. I have no doubt he did so to provide a distraction. If Alduin saw the Elder Scroll, Felldir might not have time to use it.
Felldir sheathed his sword and stepped back.
Alduin covered Hakon in Dragonfire, and unlike that of the weaker Grahziinir, it started to damage the brave Tongue.
Felldir held forth the Elder Scroll and yelled, “Hold, Alduin on the Wing! Sister Hawk, grant us your sacred breath to make this contract heard! Begone, World-Eater! By words with older bones than your own, we break your perch on this age and send you out! You are banished! Alduin, we shout you out from all our endings unto the last!”
Halfway through Felldir’s recitation, Alduin noticed what he was doing and turned his Dragonfire upon him. Hakon remained on his knees. His life was almost spent.
I found myself engaged in what was happening, forgetting I was not there in corporeal form. I wanted to heal Hakon but could not.
Alduin could not prevent Felldir from finishing, and the power of Kyne dragged Alduin into the flow of time.
Alduin’s last words of that age were, “Faal Kel…?! Nikriinne…” (The Elder Scroll…!? Cowards…)
When Alduin finally faded entirely from that time, Felldir finished with, “You are banished!”
The badly injured Hakon stammered, “It worked… you did it….”
Felldir replied, “Yes, the World-Eater is gone… may the spirits have mercy on our souls.”
I walked over to the corpse of Gormlaith. Her blood had pooled and frozen.
I said, “There is more to life than the blooding of your blade. It is a pity you never had the chance to discover that truth.”
I then willed myself to return to the present.
As the halves of my soul rejoined, I was at first aware of sound.
The Dragonguard yelled at me. Alduin had appeared out of the ether.
I regained my eyesight and looked up. Alduin was hovering above me.
Instead of taking advantage of my temporary vulnerability and attacking, Alduin’s ego got the better of him. He said, “Bahloki nahkip sillesejoor. My belly is full of the souls of your fellow mortals, Dovahkiin. Die now and await your fate in Sovngarde!”
Paarthurnax replied, “Lost funt. You are too late, Alduin!”
Alduin said, “Suleyki mulaag, Paarthurnax. My power has waxed while yours has waned. Aav uv dir. Join me or perish with your mortal friends.”
Paarthurnax replied, “Unslaad hokoron! Never again!”
Paarthurnax went to take flight, and I yelled, “No, Paarthurnax, he is too strong on the wing. Let us defeat him so he knows mortals alone defeated him in battle.”
I Shouted, “JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
The blue miasma of Dragonrend surrounded Alduin.
He tried to fly but risked crashing to the bottom of the mountain.
He turned towards the summit, and I yelled, “Brace yourselves!”
There was no graceful and slowed descent of a dragon in control. Alduin thumped into the mountain with all the grace of a mammoth turd.
Iona and Lydia flew backwards and were vulnerable.
I rushed at Alduin while saying, “My soul is not destined for Sovngarde. You have no idea who I am, do you?”
I struck some rapid blows that surprised Alduin.
A dragon cannot grab you in its maw with a pesky shield in its way! Therefore I raised my shield and braced my legs for the counterattack.
Alduin tried to batter my shield away, but I had been trained to move it to match such momentum, thereby minimising the force.
Alduin snarled, “Daar Lein los dii!” (This world is mine!)
I looked into Alduin’s eye and scanned his soul. As I recoiled in horror, Alduin laughed and attacked.
I barely survived the onslaught and leapt backwards.
The Dragonguard took my place as I recovered my wits.
There was no soul of a dragon within Alduin. What I encountered was so foreign I searched my memory for anything vaguely familiar. I made the mistake of scanning Father’s soul when a child. Purely out of curiosity. He was furious I did so, but he did not punish me. He said, “Son, viewing the true form of a god can send a mortal insane. So can viewing their soul. I will not explain what you saw, for it is incomprehensible to one still living. Let this be a lesson. You know it is forbidden to ask about my ascension. You are also forbidden from snooping like that!”
What I saw within Alduin was part of the soul of AKA, the oversoul of time gods. He is not the firstborn of Lord Akatosh. He is the first shard of AKA. I knew that, yet I was stupid enough to snoop.
Celestine was doing as I had requested earlier. She was healing and protecting The Dawnguard. I doubt there is another Restoration Mage on Nirn who approaches her skills.
The Dragonguard were damaging Alduin, but I knew this battle would rage for hours. My initial flurry of strokes barely scratched his scales.
Alduin took flight once more.
I had gathered my wits enough to Shout Dragonrend.
We had a limited area in which to engage Alduin. Anywhere too close to the edge risked his landings or downdraft blowing us over the edge. Alduin may not have had complete control of his landings, but he aimed them well enough to knock us off our feet.
Alduin landed feet away, and I flew through the air.
I managed to stand and raise my shield in time to deflect his lunge.
But I didn’t merely deflect. I put my strength behind a shield bash and knocked Alduin’s head to the side.
The length of Dragonrend seemed to vary. This time it was very short, and Alduin took off as others joined me. Hot blood rained down, proving that he could be hurt.
Alduin tried a different tactic. He flew high.
Then he dived at incredible speed, levelled out and headed for us.
I hit Alduin with Dragonrend, and he risked smashing into the ground at high speed.
He managed to gain some height, turn, and crash to the ground near Celestine.
She lay stunned and vulnerable.
Vayu yelled, “Celestine. Get up, my beloved! Move!”
I Blinked and stood between Celestine and Alduin. I swiped his snout as he tried to envelop me in ice.
Vayu rushed to Celestine and cast Grand Healing on her.
A repeating pattern of events meant the battle lasted hours. I would get exhausted and unable to Shout. Alduin would fly for some time until I eventually used Dragonrend again.
Celestine kept us going with her healing and other Restoration spells.
At one point, Alduin boasted, “Kel drey ni viik.” (The Elder Scroll did not defeat me!)
I replied, “But we are not Elder Scrolls. You are losing, Alduin!
After four hours of battle, I covered Alduin with Dragonfire. Then he simply stopped fighting.
I said to The Dragonguard, “He is protected from further harm. We cannot end him here.”
My friends stood with weapons drawn but did not attack Alduin.
Alduin said, with no arrogance and a measure of respect, “Meyz mul, Dovahkiin. You have become strong. But I am Al-du-in, Firstborn of Akatosh! Mulaagi zok lot! I cannot be slain here by you or anyone else! You cannot prevail against me. I will outlast you… mortal!”
I replied, “Do not think we will give you time to regain what little strength you had. We shall soon meet again in Sovngarde, where we shall defeat you once more.”
Alduin took off, and Paarthurnax flew beside him and hurled insults until Alduin vanished into the ether.
Paarthurnax returned and perched upon the Word Wall.
I called out to my friends, “Is everybody here and healthy?”
I received a ‘Yes’ from each in turn.
I closed my eyes and held my Amulet of Talos. I do not need to hold it to speak to Rigmor, but it is a habit I do after a battle. I said telepathically, “Rigmor, we have defeated Alduin in battle, but he cannot be slain in Mundus. We shall have to chase him to Sovngarde. But do not fear my beloved, for he is not as strong as our love.”
“Woah! Good News! I will have to pretend I was choking to explain the half-chewed mouthful I just spat all over the Morrowind trade delegate! It is hard to remember which spoon, knife and fork to use for each course!”
“Tell him it is an ancient Nord form of respect. You could get the whole table spitting food at each other in no time! I will tell you all about the fight later.”
“Oh my, the shock on Malesam’s face is priceless!”
I laughed as I released my amulet, and Lydia asked, “How is Rigmor?”
“She is well, Lydia. And proving to be the Countess we knew she was capable of being.”
Paarthurnax said, “Lot krongrah. You truly have The Voice of a Dovah. Alduin’s allies will think twice after this victory.”
“It is a battle won but not the war’s end.”
“Ni liivrah hin mere. True, this is not the final krongah – victory. But not even the heroes of old were able to defeat Alduin in open battle. Alduin always was pahlok – arrogant in his power. Uznahgar paar. He took domination as his birthright. This defeat should shake the loyalty of the Dov who serve him.”
“He has fled to Sovngarde and will soon be strong enough to return. The New Order and Ulfric Stormcloak have ensured he has plenty of souls to hunt and consume. He must have a portal to that part of Aetherius!”
“Yes… one of his allies could tell us. Motmahus… But it will not be easy to… convince one of them to betray him. Perhaps the hofkahsejun – the palace in Whiterun… Dragonsreach. It was originally built to house a captive Dovah. A fine place to trap one of Alduin’s allies, hmm?”
“His Lieutenant, Odahviing, will respond to my challenge.”
“Indeed. Odahviing has visited and expressed reservations about this new war. I do not think he has harmed mortals since his restoration. Many Dov are reluctant to repeat the same mistake that almost made us extinct!”
“First, I need to convince Jarl Balgruuf to allow a dragon to land on his palace.”
“Hmm, yes. But you su’um is strong. I do not doubt you can convince him of the need.”
“Tell me what you know of Dragonsreach.”
“They held a Dovah prisoner there for a very long time. This imprisonment was ages ago, you understand. There were more of us then. Before the bruniike – the Akaviri – came and killed all my zeymah. I used to visit him from time to time. Nearly crazed by loneliness and captivity. Tiiraz sivaas. He did not even remember his name. I do not know how he came to be caught. But the bronjun… the Jarl… was very proud of his pet. Paak! The hofkahsejun has been known as Dragonsreach ever since.”
“A Dovah’s skull sits above the throne. I wonder if the Jarl realises what that symbolises. It is like seeing the skull of a mortal above the throne. It is barbaric.”
“Perhaps you can tinvaak… talk to him and allow some dignity for a fallen brother.”
I turned and faced my friends.
- Wulf: We have managed to do something no other mortals have done before. We defeated Alduin in combat.
- Inigo: That was exhilarating. What a battle! I think Alduin will think twice before messing with you again.
- Wulf: He will think twice before messing with us. He would have killed me without my friends to back me up.
- Iona: That fight lasted more than four hours!
- Wulf: If it weren’t for Celestine’s Restoration skills, we wouldn’t have lasted that long.
- Vayu: Hey, I cast the occasional Restoration spell!
- Wulf: Were you here, Vayu? That’s news!
- Vayu: Get f…f…far away, Wulf!
- Lydia: Wulf, you already have access to Sovngarde.
- Wulf: I cannot reach the part where Alduin resides from my Aetherius Room. Traversing the infinite is not something I have been trained to do.
- Celestine: Alduin must have a portal to Sovngarde. Wulf needs to convince one of the World Eater’s allies to tell us where that is.
- Lydia: But can I follow you?
- Wulf: Lydia, I am a mortal! Therefore, if I can use the portal, so can you. If I can’t use the portal, we shall find another way. You will get your revenge for Bjorn!
- Celestine: The plan is to trap a dragon in Whiterun?
- Wulf: If I use my Thu’um to challenge Odahviing, he will accept. The chance to test his strength against those who defeated Alduin will be irresistible. It is Dov nature.
I walked over to where the Time-Wound used to be. There was no sign the anomaly ever existed.
We teleported into Whiterun then made our way to Dragonsreach.
Heimskr was sprouting his usual rubbish, but he had added something I could not ignore. We stood and listened to his spiel from beginning to his new end.
“Talos the mighty! Talos the unerring! Talos, the unassailable! To you, we give praise!
We are but maggots writhing in the filth of our own corruption! While you have ascended from the dung of mortality, and now walk among the stars!
But you were once Man! Aye! And as Man, you said, ‘Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you.’
Aye, love. Love! Even as Man, great Talos cherished us. For he saw in us, in each of us, the future of Skyrim! The future of Tamriel!
And there it is, friends! The ugly truth! We are the children of Man! Talos is the true god of Man! Ascended from flesh, to rule the realm of spirit!
The very idea is inconceivable to our Elven overlords! Sharing the heavens with us? With Man? Ha! They can barely tolerate our presence on earth!
Today, they take away your faith. But what of tomorrow? What then? Do the elves take your homes? Your businesses? Your children? Your very lives?
And what does the Empire do? Nothing! Nay, worse than nothing! The Imperial machine enforces the will of the Thalmor! Against its own people!
So, rise up! Rise up, children of The Empire! Rise up, Stormcloaks! Embrace the word of mighty Talos, he who is both man and Divine!
For we are the children of Man! And we shall inherit both the heavens and the earth! And we, not the Elves or their toadies, will rule Skyrim! Forever!
Terrible and powerful Talos! We, your unworthy servants, give praise! For only through your grace and benevolence may we truly reach enlightenment!
And deserve our praise you do, for we are one! Ere you ascended and the Eight became Nine, you walked among us, great Talos, not as god, but as Man!
Trust in me, Whiterun! Trust in Heimskr! For I am the chosen of Talos! I alone have been anointed by the Ninth to spread his holy word!”
I walked up to Heimskr and used my Thu’um so all in Whiterun could hear me.
“CITIZENS OF WHITERUN, HEIMSKR CLAIMS TO BE ANOINTED BY THE NINE TO SPREAD THE WORD OF TALOS. HE LIES! HEIMSKR SAYS HE IS THE CHOSEN OF TALOS. HE LIES! I AM WULF, DRAGONBORN AND CHAMPION OF THE DIVINES. I SPEAK TO TALOS REGULARLY, SO I KNOW WHAT HEIMSKR SAYS IS UNTRUE.
MOST OF WHAT HEIMSKR CLAIMS ABOUT TALOS IS WRONG.
TALOS DOES NOT WANT PEOPLE TO DIE FIGHTING OVER THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP HIM! HE DOES NOT WANT TO SEE THE MORTALS HE LOVES DIE FOR A SENSELESS CAUSE. HE LOVES ALL PEOPLE, NOT JUST THE NORDS OF SKYRIM! THE THALMOR CAN NOT REMOVE WHAT IS IN YOUR HEARTS, GOOD PEOPLE. AS LONG AS TALOS RESIDES IN YOUR HEART, THAT IS ALL THE WORSHIP REQUIRED.
TALOS DOES NOT WANT TO SEE HIS BELOVED EMPIRE DESTROYED BY THE MURDERER, ULFRIC STORMCLOAK.
HEIMSKR IS NOT ONLY A LIAR. HEIMSKR IS ALSO A TRAITOR AND BLASPHEMER!”
Many cheers arose from the citizens of Whiterun.
I said to Heimskr, “If I hear your blasphemy again, I shall have you jailed. If I hear you talk of rebellion again, I shall have you charged with insurrection and happily swing the headsman’s axe myself. If I see you in those robes again, I will burn them off with Dragonfire.”
We left the stunned Heimskr, who was suddenly pelted with rotten fruit kindly donated by the merchants of Whiterun.
We entered Dragonsreach and walked up to Jarl Balgruuf, who saw my mood and looked worried.
- Balgruuf: We heard your tirade, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: Heimskr’s ranting was tolerable as free speech, my Jarl. However, he crossed the line when making claims about Divine appointments. That is blasphemy at its worst!
- Balgruuf: I can understand your anger.
- Wulf: I have warned Heimskr. I will not warn him again!
- Balgruuf: Now tell me, what was the commotion echoing from The Throat of the World. It has worried the people, and I have had no answer for them.
- Inigo: That was us kicking Alduin in the goolies! Oh, by the way, my name is Inigo.
- Balgruuf: You fought Alduin and survived? Does that mean the dragon problem is over?
- Wulf: Not yet, for Alduin has fled to Sovngarde, and we must follow him. Only in Sovngarde can he truly be defeated.
- Balgruuf: Okay, but I guess you aren’t visiting every Jarl to inform them of this.
- Inigo: Only the Jarls who castles have handy dragon traps. Counting you, that makes a total of one!
- Wulf: You would never make a diplomat, Inigo.
- Inigo: I don’t know. The Kingdom of Fleas has an embassy near my right ear.
- Balgruuf: Inigo, please be quiet, or Irileth will tie you up and put you in the corner.
- Inigo: Okay, being quiet.
- Wulf: I need to trap a dragon in your palace.
- Balgruuf: I must have misheard you. I thought you said you need to trap a dragon in my palace.
- Wulf: Is the dragon trap apparatus still in position?
- Balgruuf: Yes, it is a part of the city’s history.
- Wulf: I want to challenge Alduin’s Lieutenant, Odahviing, to a fight. He cannot refuse as that would be cowardice, and his reputation would be shredded. When he comes to fight me, I will use what I just learned from going back in time to force his landing. Then we trap him. Simple.
- Balgruuf: You went back in time?
- Inigo: Wulf does a lot of weird things. Oops, back to being quiet.
- Wulf: You can read all about it soon, but we need to get moving on this before Alduin returns.
- Balgruuf: And what use will this captured dragon be?
- Wulf: He will accept my Thu’um is stronger. Then he will tell me how Alduin gets to Sovngarde.
- Irileth: Surely, my Jarl, you can’t allow this plan!
- Wulf: Irileth, we have saved Solitude from two dragon attacks. Riften from one. Windhelm from one and Whiterun from one. We know what we are doing and are trying to save all of you from enslavement.
- Balgruuf: Irileth, if we can’t trust The Dragonborn and his friends, who can we trust?
- Irileth: You are right. I have no reason to question their plan.
- Balgruuf: Dragonborn, Whiterun will stand with you. We will take the risk and gain the glory, whether in victory or defeat.
- Wulf: Good. Can you have the mechanism checked? I will not attempt this unless we deem the trap suitable.
- Balgruuf: Yes, but give us till midday tomorrow if you want it done thoroughly.
- Wulf: I will do so. Thank you for your trust, my Jarl.
We teleported to the Safe House. I dismissed today’s team, who mixed with the others and started telling the tale of today’s events.
Jo’rassa approached and said, “I will talk to Inigo in a minute. But I wondered, Wulf if I could become a member of your team?”
“If things remain civil between yourself and Inigo, I will consider it. Is that good enough for now?”
“Yes, thank you. I had better listen to Inigo’s first version of today’s activities. He has a habit of adding more embellishments with each telling of such tales.”
I left a house full of excited talk and laughter and made my way to Castle Dour’s courtyard. I summoned Nafaalilargus, and we flew at an impressive speed to Windhelm.
Nafaalilargus had many questions about my time travel and the fight with Alduin. He might seem stupid at times, but his questions and speculations were well thought out and constructed.
When we arrived at Windhelm, we circled the city as I used my Thu’um.
“I AM WULF, DRAGONBORN AND CHAMPION OF THE DIVINES. HEAR WHAT I SAY ABOUT ULFRIC STORMCLOAK AND KNOW THAT ALL IS TRUE. I SWEAR THIS ON THE DIVINES.
DURING THE GREAT WAR, ULFRIC STORMCLOAK PROVIDED THE DOMINION WITH INFORMATION ON THE IMPERIAL CITY’S DEFENCES. AFTER THE GREAT WAR, HE BECAME A PUPPET OF THE DOMINION. THEY AIDED HIS RECAPTURE OF MARKARTH. WHEN MARKARTH SURRENDERED, ULFRIC STORMCLOAK HAD UNCOUNTABLE NON-COMBATANT MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN TORTURED, RAPED AND MURDERED. HE OFFERED REWARDS TO THOSE WHO INFORMED ON FORSWORN SYMPATHISERS AND COLLABORATORS. HE IGNORED IMPERIAL AND SKYRIM LAW AND NEVER HELD TRIALS BEFORE ORDERING SUMMARY EXECUTIONS.
THE DOMINION HAVE BEEN AIDING ULFRIC DURING THE CIVIL WAR BUT ONLY SO FAR AS TO EXTEND ITS LENGTH. THEY WANT SKYRIM AND THE EMPIRE TO BLEED, SO THEIR NEXT INVASION MEETS LESS RESISTANCE.
WHEN ULFRIC STORMCLOAK WAS CAPTURED AND TAKEN TO HELGEN, HE ESCAPED ALDUIN WITH THE DOMINION’S AID. IF THAT IS NOT THE CASE, LET THE NORDS WHO HELPED HIM COME FORWARD. WHILE OTHER CAPTORS FOUGHT BESIDE IMPERIALS TO DEFEND THE PEOPLE OF HELGEN, ULFRIC RAN LIKE THE COWARD HE IS.
ULFRIC STORMCLOAK USED DECEIT TO CONFRONT HIGH KING TORYGG. HE PRETENDED TO BE HIS FRIEND WHEN ALL ALONG, HE WAS WAITING FOR THE RIGHT MOMENT TO CHALLENGE HIS HIGHNESS TO A TRADITIONAL NORD FIGHT TO THE DEATH. ULFRIC, A VETERAN WARRIOR OF MANY BATTLES, WAS SO AFRAID OF THE YOUNG, UNBLOODED KING THAT HE IGNORED THE TRADITIONAL RULES AND USED THE VOICE TO MURDER HIM!
ULFRIC CLAIMS TO BE FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP TALOS. I KNOW THAT TALOS DOES NOT WANT MORTALS KILLING EACH OTHER OVER THIS. I CHALLENGE ULFRIC TO PRODUCE A SINGLE RECOGNISED PRIEST OR PRIESTESS OF THE NINE TO SAY OTHERWISE.
ULFRIC IS A COWARD, TRAITOR, MURDERER AND BLASPHEMER.
I HEREBY CHALLENGE ULFRIC STORMCLOAK TO SINGLE COMBAT. HE CAN CHOOSE THE PLACE AND TIME. LOINCLOTHS ONLY, NO ARMOUR. NO SPELLS, THU’UM, OR SPECIAL WEAPONS. LET HIM PROVE TO ALL HE IS A WORTHY HIGH KING. HE WILL NOT ACCEPT, FOR I AM NOT A YOUNG KING YET TO WIELD A SWORD IN BATTLE.”
I asked Nafaalilargus, “Do you know the Song of The Dragonborn?”
“No, and you would not appreciate my singing voice.”
I sang, and the very foundations of Windhelm shook.
- DRAGONBORN, DRAGONBORN, BY HIS HONOUR IS SWORN,
- TO KEEP EVIL FOREVER AT BAY!
- AND THE FIERCEST FOES ROUT WHEN THEY HEAR TRIUMPH’S SHOUT,
- DRAGONBORN, FOR YOUR BLESSING, WE PRAY!
I used The Voice once more and said, “ULFRIC STORMCLOAK AND HIS REBELLION IS EVIL. MY HONOUR DOES NOT ALLOW ME TO REMAIN NEUTRAL. KNOW THAT IF YOU SIDE WITH ULFRIC, YOU WILL FACE ME ON THE BATTLEFIELD. STORMCLOAKS, GO HOME AND LIVE. STAY, AND YOU WILL DIE FOR NAUGHT BUT ULFRIC’S AMBITION.”
Nafaalilargus and I returned to Solitude at a more leisurely pace. Then I sat and had a meal with Olette and the others at Proudspire.
When I made it to bed, Rigmor and I talked for a few hours on many subjects.
I know not what time I fell asleep.