Fredas, 3rd Frostfall, 4E 201
& Loredas, 4th Frostfall, 4E 201
Rigmor and I only spoke briefly. I was more confident facing Alduin in Sovngarde than using the Time-Wound.
Iona was uncomfortable about visiting Sovngarde, so she did not accompany us.
Vayu was equally uncomfortable. He had never visited my Aetherius Room for the same reason.
Therefore, today’s team was Inigo, Kharjo, Lydia, Celestine and the fully recovered Jordis. Any of the mages could have fixed her stomach complaint. However, Jordis preferred her body to fight such minor illnesses naturally.
During the morning, I noticed lingering glances between Inigo and Jo’rassa. Perhaps she can help him find redemption.
When everybody was ready, I teleported us to Breezehome.
We quickly made our way to Dragonsreach. The streets were deserted. It was not long before we stood before Jarl Balgruuf. I did a slight bow of the head, deserved recognition of his noble rank.
- Balgruuf: It is I who should be bowing to you. You have saved my city twice, and now you fight for our freedom.
- Wulf: I am only doing what is right, my Jarl.
- Balgruuf: The news sheets are full of rumours about The Dragonborn hovering over Windhelm and singing.
- Irileth: The Stormcloak sympathetic news sheets say you are an agent of The Dominion and spreading lies. The Imperial sympathetic new sheets say you have told the truth and challenged Ulfric to refute your claims.
- Wulf: We flew around Windhelm. We did not hover. Somebody killed a lot of Thalmor at their embassy. They also stole a lot of Dominion intelligence on Imperial citizens. Amongst that intelligence was a dossier on Ulfric. Many of the claims I made are within that dossier. Other parts I know from speaking to Talos. Others are from the accurate histories, not the propaganda. Ulfric has the chance to refute what I said. Just saying they are lies will not be enough on his part.
- Celestine: Wulf will fight The Stormcloaks. He is giving them a chance to go home and not die needlessly. Ulfric does not care about Talos worship. His desire to be the High King is his only motivation.
- Balgruuf: And what if I decide that Ulfric’s cause is just?
- Wulf: You know the answer, my Jarl. But it won’t come to that. You will try and remain neutral, but Ulfric needs Whiterun, just as The New Order needed Whiterun.
- Celestine: Once the dragons are no longer a threat, Ulfric will make his move. The civil war will increase in intensity. There will be no more sparring, Jarl Balgruuf. Whiterun will be Ulfric’s priority.
- Wulf: I will use The Voice, The Dragonguard and dragons to crush The Stormcloaks. Once the killing starts, I will not stop till they are no more.
- Celestine: At no time in history has a battle been lost by the side commanded by a Dragonborn.
- Wulf: Miraak lost.
- Celestine: Okay, once, but he was not on the side of The Divines.
- Balgruuf: You will understand if I remain neutral until there is evidence of a Stormcloak advance on Whiterun.
- Wulf: I have given you no advice, my Jarl. Whiterun is your Hold, and I simply tell the truth so that any decision you make has facts, not fallacies, to consider.
- Balgruuf: As I promised, my men stand ready. The great chains are oiled, and the harness is robust. We are waiting for your command.
- Wulf: Has the population been warned?
- Balgruuf: You would have seen a few stragglers hurrying to clear the streets on your arrival. They should all be indoors by now.
- Wulf: Okay, let us go and trap a dragon!
As we headed for Dragonreach’s balcony, we passed a tactical map showing all the cities, towns, villages, and forts contested in the civil war.
I asked my team to stay in the map room. There was no need for The Dragonguard to be on the balcony. I am the bait and should be the only one out there.
The balcony was huge, but to a dragon that relishes the open spaces of Nirn’s skies, it would be a tiny, unbearable prison of minute dimensions.
A dragon harness hung from the ceiling on thick chains. When it dropped onto Odahviing, a collar would circle his neck and lock into place.
Many theories exist on how Olaf One-Eye captured the dragon called Numinex and imprisoned him. I have a radical view as to who Numinex was. I believe it was Paarthurnax. That would explain why Paarthurnax did not know Numinex’s name and explained it away by saying the captured dragon could not remember. I doubt the skull above Dragonreach’s throne is that of the legendary captive. How could Paarthurnax visit the captured Numinex and not be noticed? Why would he have not rescued Numinex?
As I came to the end of the balcony, I noticed a Whiterun Guard standing there.
I walked over to Jarl Balgruuf.
- Balgruuf: What are you waiting for? Let’s get this over with.
- Wulf: Not until the guard, you and Irileth are under the roof!
- Irileth: As your Jarl said, let’s get this over with.
- Wulf: No, Irileth. I don’t need you to risk your lives to capture the dragon, and none of you is to attract Odahviing’s attention. He could kill you in an instant! I will not proceed until you three are under the roof.
- Balgruuf: Soldier, move to the back of the balcony. Irileth and I will stand closer to the front so we can observe.
- Wulf: Nobody is to attack Odahviing except me!
- Balgruuf: You heard The Dragonborn. Sheath your weapons!
I waited for all three to be in position.
I walked to the end of the balcony and used the full strength of my Thu’um.
“OD AH VIING!”
Dragonsreach shook, and my Thu’um echoed from the distant mountains.
Jarl Balgruuf asked, “Are you sure he will answer?”
A roar from behind and to my right startled him.
I said, “There is your answer, Jarl.”
Odahviing is a magnificent red dragon, and his grace in the air was undeniable. He saw only me in the open, but still, he was cautious and circled Dragonsreach.
When he flew closer, I shouted, “JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
The blue miasma of Dragonrend surrounded Odahviing.
Odahviing struggled to land with some dignity. I stepped back so as not to be blown over by his downdraught or knocked over.
The Dovah’s rage was palatable. I covered him in Dragonfire as he lunged for me and then leapt away.
The strength of Odahviing’s Thu’um exceeded that of Alduin. His Dragonfire burnt me, my skin cracked, and I bled. I had to cast Grand Healing on myself as I backpedalled.
Arrows had struck Odahviing despite the Jarl’s orders.
When the Dragonfire cleared and Odahviing could see me, I yawned and grinned. I stood without a weapon drawn and arms crossed.
Dragons do not yawn, but they know mortal body language. I just told Odahviing his best was far from impressive. He stared at me with hate and anger and then stomped towards me.
I used a small amount of Dragonfire to keep Odahviing’s gaze on me.
When Odahviing approached the right place, I yelled, “Release the trap!”
Odahviing halted, briefly looked up saw the harness dropping.
He roared, “NID!”
I Shouted, “GEH!”
When the harness hit Odahviing’s neck, restraints sprung, and the collar encircled it.
Odahviing roared with anger and frustration. I decided to let him calm down before approaching.
Odahviing was trapped, but I had almost died. My blood on the balcony showed that the brief fight was almost my last.
I opened the door to the map room and asked The Dragonguard to join me.
Inigo was amused and said, “Hehe! Look at that silly gas bag. I bet he is feeling very embarrassed at the moment.”
“Hehe! Look at my blood on the balcony. I bet I was lucky to survive.”
“Oh! Well, at least the trap worked.”
Odahviing soon realised anger would not release him. He calmed, and I approached.
Odahviing grumbled, “Horvutah med kodaav. Caught like a bear in a trap…”
“A bear would have been more cautious.”
“Zok frini grind ko grah drun viiki, Dovahkiin… Ah. I forget. You do not have the Dovah speech.”
“Daar los folaas. That is wrong. Did Alduin tell you I do not speak Dovahzul? It seems he was wrong about so many things. I knew you would want to test yourself against me, and I smiled and yawned to make you angrier. I do it to mortals, immortals and gods. It is a good tactic as they all make mistakes when anger takes over.”
“Dovahkiin. I salute your, hmm, low cunning in devising such a grahmindol – stratagem.”
“I am Dov, and I know how we react. It was intelligent planning, not cunning.”
“Zu’u bonaar. You went to a great deal of trouble to put me in this… humiliating position. Hind siiv Alduin, hmm? No doubt you want to know where to find Alduin?”
“I know he is hiding in Sovngarde. He needs to consume more souls quickly before we arrive and kill him. I need to know how he gets to Sovngarde so that I can follow.”
“Rinik vazah. Hiding is an apt phrase. Alduin bovul. I came to your call to test your Thu’um for myself. Many of us have begun questioning Alduin’s lordship, whether his Thu’um was truly the strongest. Among ourselves, of course. Mu ni meyye. None were yet ready to defy him openly.”
“I am not interested in your politics. Tell me how I get to Sovngarde.”
“Unslaad krosis. Innumerable pardons. I digress. As you said, Alduin has travelled to Sovngarde to regain his strength, devouring the sillesejoor… the souls of the mortal dead. A privilege he jealously guards… His door to Sovngarde is at Skuldafn, one of his ancient fanes high in the eastern mountains. Mindoraan, pah ok middovahhe lahvraan til. I surely do not need to warn you that all his remaining strength is marshalled there. Zu’u lost ofan hin laan… now that I have answered your question, you will allow me to go free?”
“Tell me how to get to Skuldalfn, and I give you my word that I will release you once Alduin is defeated.”
“Hmm… krosis. There is one… detail about Skuldafn I neglected to mention.”
“You have the Thu’um of a Dovah, but without the wings of one, you will never set foot in Skuldafn. Of course, I could fly you there but not while imprisoned like this.”
“Odahviing, do you swear on Bormahu, on Akatosh, that you will fly me to Skuldafn if I release you from this trap?”
“Onikaan koraav gein miraad. It is wise to recognise when you only have one choice. And you can trust me. Zu’u ni tahrodiis. Alduin has proven himself unworthy to rule. I go my own way now. Free me, and I will carry you to Skuldafn.”
“Then we have a deal, Odahviing.”
Just then, Farengar came striding up and said, “A captive dragon, just think of the possibilities!”
“Speak to him if you wish but do not show disrespect!”
“I don’t think you could stop me, but thanks for your permission anyway.”
Farengar turned to Odahviing and said, “Incredible! Uh… sir, you have no idea how long I have waited for such an opportunity! I would be most appreciative if you would permit me to perform some tests on you. Purely in the interests of the advancement of knowledge.”
Odahviing replied, “Begone, mage. Do not test my patience.”
“I assure you that you will not even notice me. Most of my tests should hardly be painful to a large dragon.”
I said, “Farengar, Odahviing does not permit you to conduct such tests.”
“All I want to do is take some blood and flesh samples.”
“No, I will not allow you to torture him.”
“He is a beast with no rights. Now, if you don’t mind….”
Farengar saw my rage and tried to flee. I ordered, “Stop and face me, mage!”
Farengar haIted, and then turned. I stepped forward and positioned my hands to help focus the illusion. I said to Farengar, “You are being choked to death.”
Farengar started to gasp and tried to remove the nonexistent ligature around his neck.
I growled, “Dov are not beasts! I am trying to save everybody from Alduin, but you think your curiosity is more important. You want to treat this intelligent being as some laboratory animal and risk the truce I arranged with him. On top of that, you dare to ignore a Thane of this Hold.”
Farengar was starting to panic and struggled even more with the imaginary ligature.
“I am Dragonborn and a Ningheim. Should I let you strap me to a table and take my flesh and blood samples? After all, you have never encountered either of those before.”
Gurgling was the answer Farengar gave.
“You are a disgrace to the robes you wear. I should talk to the Arch-Mage and have your rights to college facilities revoked, but I won’t. However, I feel disgusted. Get out of my sight, you puss-filled bottom pimple!”
Farengar still gurgled.
“Oh, I almost forgot, you are no longer being throttled.”
Farengar gasped, then without a word, he fled, accompanied by the laughter of all, including his Jarl. Even Odahviing chuckled, which sounded like an avalanche.
I climbed to the balcony and said to a Whiterun Guard, “Open the trap.”
He replied, “Are you sure about that? You want to let that dragon loose after all the trouble catching him in there?”
“Your right! What was I thinking? Let’s all become enslaved because you know more than me about Alduin and dragons.”
I shoved the guard aside and pulled the chain to release Odahviing. The guard was going to say something but quickly shut his mouth when I stepped closer and growled.
Counterweights slowly lifted the harness to free Odahviing.
Some guards drew their weapons.
Odahviing said, “Faas nu, zini dein ruthi ahst vaal.”
I called out, “Odahviing said to fear not. His honour keeps his rage at bay.”
I also said, “Odahviing, nii los nunon fin mey wo dreh ni ov!” (Odahviing, it is only the fools who do not trust!)
I leapt over the balcony as Odahviing did a ponderous turn and waddled to the end of the balcony. Graceful in the air does not equate to graceful on the ground.
I said as I walked to join Odahviing, “Dragonguard, I will summon you once we reach Skuldafn.”
I stood next to Odahviing.
He asked, “Saraan uth – I await your command, as promised. Are you ready to see the world as only a Dovah can?”
“Yes, I am eager to experience the domain of Kaan! Take me to Skuldafn.”
I climbed aboard Odahviing’s outstretched neck, and then he said, “Zok brit uth! I warn you, once you’ve flown the skies of Keizaal, your envy of the Dov will only increase.”
I laughed and replied, “You are much smaller than Nafaalilargus, and I think less agile than Silah. It will be interesting to see how your speed compares.”
“You have flown on Dov?”
“Lord Akatosh sent them to assist me. Perhaps Alduin neglected to tell you of my Dov allies.”
“Yes, he is wary of me due to my lack of enthusiasm for another war. Why do you not use one of the other Dov to take you to Skuldafn?”
“I wanted to demonstrate trust, Odahviing.”
Odahviing chuckled, leapt into the air, and trumpeted, “Amativ! Mu bo kotin stinselok.”
I laughed once more and replied, “Indeed, let us fly onwards into the freedom of the sky!”
It took just over an hour before we landed in Skuldafn. I immediately jumped to the ground.
Odahviing leapt back in the air as he said, “This is as far as I can take you. Krif voth ahkrin. I will look for your return or Alduin’s.”
If I lose to Alduin, I don’t suppose Odahviing being spotted transporting me to Skuldafn would be a good thing for him! Hence his haste to depart.
I summoned The Dragonguard.
- Inigo: Woah! That was a bumpy one! This place smells exciting. Where are we, my friend?
- Wulf: There seems to be some rudimentary attempt to prevent teleporting here.
- Celestine: It didn’t work but just made it ‘bumpy’.
- Wulf: Inigo, we are in Skuldafn. It is one of many cities that mortal and Dov once shared. Now it is Alduin’s eyrie.
- Lydia: Will this place be heavily guarded?
- Wulf: I expect many Draugr will be here and all of the most potent kind. Close on them fast as they will be users of The Voice.
- Jordis: What about dragons?
- Wulf: I don’t know how many Dov are still loyal to Alduin. If any, they will be here.
- Inigo: Giant spiders?
- Wulf: Probably not.
- Inigo: This place no longer smells exciting.
- Wulf: Because I expect Thu’um using Draugr, we shall try stealth. I have some resistance against The Voice, but you will be tossed around and frozen and other fun things.
- Celestine: I will concentrate on Restoration again.
- Wulf: Good. Let’s go!
I aimed at a Draugr.
He fell to a single arrow.
The next Draugr needed two arrows.
A dragon named Ruthlonven came out of the ether and swooped.
He turned to attack, and I Shouted Dragonrend.
Ruthlonven crashed to the ground, and within seconds he was defeated.
As I absorbed Ruthlonven’s soul, Kharjo commented, “It seems the dragons remaining loyal to Alduin are not very powerful.”
As we cautiously climbed the stairs, we saw several flags with the Nordic representation of Alduin upon them.
I pointed to a stream of vertical lights.
I explained, “That is the portal to Sovngarde. It wasn’t open when we first arrived.”
Lydia asked, “Do you think Alduin is about to use it?”
“No. The Life Force absorption he does in Sovngarde is not a rapid process. He seems to have needed a few days between each restoration to gather enough. When we battle him once more, he will be far weaker.”
Skeletal Mages were also defenders of Skuldafn.
We were pretty efficient at destroying the undead guards from a distance.
Another Dovah, this one named Jotsujun, attacked us.
He hovered over Jordis and Lydia.
I Shouted Dragonrend.
Jordis was doing an excellent job with shield and sword as I ran towards the skirmish.
I sliced Jotsujun’s face several times.
Then I leapt upon his head.
My sword penetrated Jotsujun’s skull and into his brain. The fight was quickly over.
As I absorbed Jotsujun’s soul, Inigo mirrored Kharjo’s earlier remark.
He said, “I have fought grandmother’s scarier than these dragons!”
“I assume that is a metaphor of some sort?”
“No, my friend. It is a dragon. Sheesh, I thought you would recognise them by now!”
I sniped a Draugr sentry.
Then we entered the northern tower of Skuldafn.
- Kharjo: Why are we here when the portal is elsewhere?
- Wulf: Curiosity, mainly. I can see these buildings are early Nord architecture and want to explore them.
- Kharjo: Ahh, this is the advice the lady called Rigmor gave you.
- Lydia: Rigmor is no lady! Well, according to her.
- Wulf: Yes, Kharjo. I have a keen interest in archaeology, and this place might be unique. I have been neglecting things that help me suppress my Dovah personality.
- Inigo: I bet the zombies are the same.
- Jordis: Inigo, why do you call them zombies?
- Wulf: Inigo has a bit of a Draugr phobia.
- Lydia: So, if I say Draugr, that bothers you, Inigo?
- Inigo: Every time you say anything, I get bothered.
- Lydia: Draugr…Draugr…Draugr…Draugr…
- Inigo: I hate you.
- Lydia: Draugr…Draugr…Draugr…Draugr…
I rushed past them, yelled, “Zombies!” and then killed a couple of Draugr with Unrelenting Force.
The tower was full of Draugr, Skeletal Mages, Liches and nothing of archaeological interest. We dealt with them quickly, with only a few Dragonguard getting smashed by Unrelenting Force. Celestine soon had them on their feet.
Kharjo was not amused when I killed a Draugr on a ramp which slid down and bowled him over.
He asked, “Have you sated your curiosity, my friend?”
“Think of this as therapy, Inigo. You have faced your fears and survived!”
“I still hate zombies.”
We exited to a balcony of the northern tower. I used my bow and Voice to eliminate enemies from a safe distance.
I had thinned out enemy numbers, but there were still many who attacked as we headed for the main building’s entrance.
Some of the Draugr were extraordinarily strong in Thu’um and constitution. Even after Unrelenting Force sent them many yards into the air, they continued fighting after falling onto the stone buildings.
We eventually cleared the way to the main entrance.
Inigo whined, “I bet it will be Zombie City as soon as we enter! Whole families of many generations are just waiting to add to my scars.”
Lydia quipped, “I think Draugr have more interesting things to think about than you, Inigo.”
“Dust, cobwebs, total boredom, etcetera. All are infinitely more interesting than you.”
“Ow! You are in good form today.”
We entered, and Inigo yelled, “Zombie City! I told you!”
We spent quite some time wiping out the undead in the first part of the building. I found that Thunderbolts and Thu’um were the quickest methods for me.
We entered a chamber with a Nord Totem puzzle and many powerful Draugr.
After we cleared the undead, I solved the puzzle. I think it was designed to keep braindead knuckle draggers from proceeding further.
There was more undead, more fighting. The enemy was powerful but still no match for The Dragonguard and me.
Inigo got excited when he saw spider webs ahead.
Unfortunately for my blue friend, they fought beside powerful Draugr, and Kyne marked a couple. That meant Inigo missed out on some leisurely spider bashing.
We entered another room with another idiotic Nord Totem puzzle.
The puzzle was solved after racking my brains for less than a second, and a drawbridge was lowered.
More tedious undead slaughter led us to my favourite, a Dwemer Puzzle Door.
Usually, you have to go looking for the Dragon Claw Key for the Puzzle Door. One of the undead guarding the door was a Lich, and the claw was on its corpse.
I asked Inigo, “Have you ever seen one of these Dwemer Puzzle Doors before?”
“No. It looks complicated!”
I handed Inigo the Dragon Claw Key and said, “Here, let us see if you can figure out how to open it.”
Inigo took the claw and turned it around in his hand. He then studied the door and laughed.
He said, “It can’t be that easy or stupid!”
Lydia and Celestine simultaneously replied, “Yes, it can!”
Inigo set the totem symbols to match those on the back of the claw.
He then inserted the claw into the centre circle.
He said, “Whoa!” when the centre circle pivoted back and forth.
I told The Dragonguard, “Step back. A few undead are probably waiting on the other side. I can also hear a Word Wall.”
The loud grating of stone on stone accompanied the slow descent of the door.
As expected, a few powerful undead heard the door and waited for us.
After we dispatched the enemy, I approached the Word Wall.
It tried to teach me strun, which means storm. It is the first Word of Power of the Storm Call Shout.
I already knew the Word, the Shout and how to use it.
- Lydia: Wulf, make your choking impression.
- Wulf: Dovahzul does not sound like choking!
- Lydia: Come on, do it!
- Wulf: The glyphs say, in Dovahzul, ‘Ahrk ond drey sahrot Heimverlund meyz nol hevno brom med strun do uznahgaar nahkriin nol Sovngarde nimaar.’
- Jordis: Quick, smack Wulf on the back before he turns blue!
- Lydia: Yes, the worst thing that could happen is turning blue!
- Inigo: Waking up next to you would trump that.
- Wulf: Ahem. The glyphs roughly say, in Tamrielic, ‘And lo did mighty Heimverlund come from the brutal north, like a storm of unbridled vengeance from Sovngarde itself.”
- Kharjo: Khajiit thinks Heimverlund is a dragon’s name.
- Wulf: Yes, it is. Heimverlund was the eighteenth dragon created by Lord Akatosh. He made the sword that Boethia wields, a golden Katana called Goldbrand. He introduced smithing to the Nedic people of Atmora.
- Lydia: Boethia gave you a replica of Goldbrand.
- Wulf: Yes, it symbolises my rank as her mortal champion. When the Imperial City was retaken during The Great War, they found the real Goldbrand on The Dominion’s General. He planned to sacrifice every person in The Imperial City so that Boethia could open an Oblivion Gate and enter Mundus.
- Kharjo: Khajiit thinks Heimverlund would have to do many famous things to be on a Word Wall.
- Wulf: Heimverlund used Goldbrand to bribe Miraak, the Dragonborn I need to deal with in Solstheim. Miraak did not help the Tongues fight Alduin. I don’t think this bribe was the only thing that turned Miraak from his gods.
- Kharjo: Anything else?
- Wulf: He made The Skyforge long before any Nords stepped foot in Skyrim.
- Kharjo: How did he die.
- Wulf: Heimverlund and twelve other dragons fought a Dragonborn. Heimverlund was killed but the Dragonborn lost.
- Inigo: Miraak?
- Wulf: He was the only Dragonborn alive, so it must have been him.
- Inigo: This Miraak sounds powerful, my friend.
- Wulf: We shall see.
- Celestine: Heimverlund is an example of a dragon that once aided mortals, the Nedic, but turned against them under the influence of Alduin. Perhaps one day, he abandoned Alduin as many other dragons did.
Not far from the Word Wall, we discovered the corpse of a mortal burnt by Dragonfire. Their identity and how long ago they died are unknown.
We could feel a breeze and smell the fresh air. An exit was close.
The most potent Draugr encountered in Skuldafn guarded the exit. It took a lot of effort to fight our way to it.
I said to The Dragonguard, “We are close to the portal. Who knows what Alduin has guarding it!”
We exited, and surprisingly, the undead guarding the portal were few.
After eliminating the undead, we approached the stairs to the portal.
Two dragons guarded the portal.
I Shouted Dragonrend, and the blue miasma engulfed Midrotul.
Midrotul managed to land away from us. The other dragon, Iizkrenvur, attacked.
Dragonrend made him crash to the ground.
Iizkrenvur lasted no longer than the two earlier dragons.
Weak Skeletal Warriors attacked. Midrotul had summoned them.
We disposed of them, and then I used Dragonrend on Midrotul.
He charged me, and I engulfed him in Dragonfire, killing him.
I had just finished absorbing both souls when Lydia asked, “Ah, Wulf, what is that at the top of the stairs?”
I looked, and a Dragon Priest was casting a spell.
I said, “It is a Dragon Priest. And he is resurrecting the Skeletal Warriors. He also disabled the port to Sovngarde.”
As the two Skeletal Warriors arose and were tackled by The Dragonguard, I Blinked and stood before the Dragon Priest.
He said, “Zu’u uth naal thuri dein daar miiraak.” (I was commanded by my overlord to guard this portal.)
I replied, “Alduin los aan nikriin ahrk vonum voth mu!” (Alduin is a coward and hides from us!)
“Hin laas los dii!” (Your life is mine!)
The Dragon Priest had much dweomer on his armour and mask. They did not save him from a flurry of sword strokes.
Auryen has been searching for Dragon Priest masks for centuries. I removed his mask. Inside the mask, in Dovahzul, was the Dragon Priest’s name. He was called Nahkriin, which means vengeance.
I took his staff the rejoined my friends at the bottom of the stairs.
I stared at the two skeletons as I gripped my Amulet of Talos and contacted Rigmor.
“Can you speak, my beloved?”
“Yes, I am standing on one of the guard turrets watching the people of Bruma go about their business.”
“Those people are relying on you.”
“Yes, and at first, that was scary. But now, I am enjoying the challenge. You have always said that most people are content with the basics. Those basics are a home, family and employment that pays a fair wage for fair work. It is not hard to provide that if you don’t allow the wealthy to hoard their wealth or take advantage of the desperate. I do not have to break new ground as the Carvain family had the same values as us, my dear Dragonborn.”
“It warms my heart to know you are doing as well as I knew you would.”
“Are you about to enter Sovngarde and tackle Alduin?”
“Yes, but I am not concerned. Alduin will be weaker than yesterday’s battle. There is no way he can have recovered fully in less than a day.”
“Do you know how fast news travels from Skyrim?”
“I know most of the popular news sheets have dispatch riders. So, I assume a day from the Holds close to the border. Two days for those Holds further away.”
“Malesam came into court brandishing a news sheet and raving about how you are an idiot.”
“Oh, was the article about how we defeated Alduin in battle or my trip to Windhelm?”
“Windhelm. In his expert opinion, you ensured Ulfric’s men would remain loyal. They will believe you are a puppet of The Dominion, not Ulfric.”
“He is wrong, Rigmor. I did it not to have to kill as many soldiers whose only crime is believing a liar. They will leave his army in droves once the Priests and Priestesses of The Nine agree with what I said about Father. They will also ask questions about Ulfric’s escape from Helgen. Surely if Nords helped him, he would have rewarded them by now?”
“I agree with you. I told Malesam he was speaking through his arse. He reminded me that arse was not a suitable word for a Countess. I told him to fuck off and come back when he has learned ten swear words a Lady of The Court can use.”
“Yes, and I like some of them, you gnashgab!”
“Somebody who is constantly finding fault and likes to complain. That is now my nickname for Malesam.”
“Very appropriate by the sounds of it. Malesam should be grateful you swear and not cleave annoying people in two!’
“Pizzle is the polite word for penis.”
“Penis is not a swear word. Cock, schlong, willy, pecker, dick, prick, trouser python, whang, tadger, dingle and many others are better than pizzle!”
“You will have to sit down and write all the names you know for penis. I am curious as to the number.”
“Two hundred and twenty-one.”
“Okay, it is not weird that you know that. Mmm… maybe a little weird. Well, honestly, it is very weird!”
“Thanks! I try so hard to perfect my weirdness.”
“Instead of fuck off, I should say sard off.”
“Are you supposed to tell people they are a smelly little fish?”
“Sard off, not sardine.”
“That is silly. People know what you mean when you say fuck off. Tell them to sard off, and they will say, ‘Huh’ and not fuck off.”
“I am fond of fopdoodle!”
“Does that mean they are impotent? As in floppy doodle?”
“No. It means you are insignificant.”
“A wave of the hand is better.”
“But fopdoodle is fun to say!”
“Bawheed mean your head is full of rubbish.”
“A polite version of bollocks!”
“Yep. That is all the words Malesam came up with, but I let the gnashgab return to court.”
“You have made me smile, Rigmor. Now I had better go and teach Alduin a lesson so my poor friends can relax for a few days.”
“Talk to me when you return, my Guardian.”
“I will. Hopefully, we can be together soon.”
By my smile, the Dragonguard could tell that Rigmor was well, and I was ready for Alduin. We walked to steps leading to the portal’s platform.
The corpse of a Legionnaire killed by Dragonfire lay at the foot of those steps. His armour was ancient, probably 2nd era. His sword was impressive, and I thought it might be an important relic, so I placed it in my journal case.
I climbed the steps and stood on the platform. I looked down at the circular portal with two stylised dragons stretched around its interior. The dweomer for the portal was contained within a small central circle.
A similar circle was on the platform with a hole in its centre.
I said to The Dragonguard, “This is the portal to Sovngarde, and I guess the Dragon Priest’s staff is the key.”
I inserted the end of the staff into the hole. The beam of light reappeared and shot up into the sky.
I turned to The Dragonguard.
I told them, “The portal has no restrictions that I can perceive. Just walk into it, and you should appear in Sovngarde.”
I stepped into the beam and was instantly teleported to Sovngarde.
It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust.
When I turned around, my friends appeared one by one.
- Lydia: Is this truly Sovngarde?
- Wulf: Yes, it is. It is a part of Aetherius, so feels familiar to me.
- Celestine: Mortals cannot stay in Sovngarde for prolonged periods. Your Life Force will slowly be absorbed until you die, and your conscience will be sent to The Void.
- Wulf: But we have many hours before that happens.
- Inigo: This place is how I always imagined Sovngarde. I am not a dead Nord, though, so it must be a dream. Interesting.
- Wulf: Woah! I am also not dead or a Nord!
- Inigo: Woah!
- Wulf: You seem excited, Inigo.
- Inigo: You would not believe the dream I am having at the moment. I cannot wait to wake up and tell you all about it.
- Wulf: I don’t think you are invulnerable in your dreams, so be careful if we encounter an imaginary Alduin.
- Inigo: Point taken. Ahh, Lydia, why are you in this dream?
- Lydia: One of my biggest ambitions, ever since my mother first taught me the recipe when I was a little girl, is to cook Apple-Cabbage Stew for Shor and the heroes in Sovngarde.
- Inigo: Then it is fortuitous that Wulf and I can help you achieve that ambition!
- Jordis: We can all help Lydia achieve her ambition!
- Inigo: Wow, Jordis as well! This dream is getting crowded.
- Celestine: Don’t worry, Kharjo. I am sure Inigo will realise we are here.
- Lydia: It is nice of you all to help me.
- Wulf: Let us make our way to the Hall of Valour, where magical cooking pots await to create an endless supply of Apple-Cabbage Stew!
Sovngarde was pretty enough, but I expected more from the Nord afterlife. The Hall of Valour sounds dull enough, but if the only respite would be to wander around this average-looking valley, I can understand the eternal drinking and brawling and boasting.
Alduin was flying around.
I warned The Dragonguard, “Do not engage Alduin in battle. Let us see if we can recruit some others first.”
Jordis asked, “Who are those enormous statues supposed to be?”
“Nobody in particular. Some people call them Watchers.”
“They will pivot and follow us as we travel through Sovngarde.”
“You are kidding! Aren’t you?”
“No, I am not. I think Shor placed them to remind us he can see all that happens in Sovngarde.”
We approached some mist. It was not harmful but did obscure our view. It would make it easy to get lost in an unfamiliar place.
I explained, “Alduin makes this mist to confuse the newly arrived souls.”
I Shouted, “LOK VAH KOOR!”
The mist dissipated before Clear Skies.
I looked up and pointed to a portal above us.
“Where does that one go?” asked Lydia.
“To other parts of Aetherius. I would rather my afterlife be elsewhere in Aetherius than here. Sovngarde would be more like punishment than a reward for a life lived well.”
As we walked, I Shouted Clear Skies where needed.
I cleared some mist, and we could see the spirit of a Stormcloak in the distance. We could also see Alduin lifting from the ground.
Alduin looked at us as he climbed.
I use my Thu’um to do the loudest chicken impersonation in history!
Inigo asked, “Is that wise?”
“Inigo, this is your dream. You can turn Alduin into a giant flying pumpkin!”
“Give it a go next time he flies past us!”
Alduin veered to his right and let us be.
I had to clear the mist again.
We approached the Stormcloak’s spirit.
He said, “Turn back, travellers! Terror waits within this mist. Many have braved the shadowed vale, but vain is all courage against the peril that guards the way.”
“Who are you, and where did you die?”
“Menin Kjisson. Near Giant’s Gap, we marched in the gloom before dawn, unsuspecting into the Imperial trap. Then we stood and fought, our shield wall defending until the Legion’s ranks wavered by dawn’s light. But I never knew if nights-end brought victory – a swift-flying arrow to Sovngarde carried me.”
“I assume you are lost in Alduin’s mist?”
“Alduin, his hunger insatiable, hunts the lost souls snared within this shadowed valley. None have passed through.”
“Do you want to follow us?”
“Can you lead the way to where Shor’s hall waits, beckoning us to welcome long sought?”
“Yes, you can follow us to the Hall of Valour. Isn’t plain Tamrielic wonderful?”
“I saw it fair when first I trod this long-sought path. The pain and fear vanished, dreamlike, and a vision beckoned.”
“You saw a giant pot of Apple-Cabbage Stew?”
“Shor’s hall, shimmering across the clouded vale. But quenched was hope by the shrouding mist – my mind is darkened. I’ve lost my way and wander blindly.”
“I hope this is not a maze. One thing I hate more than mumbo jumbo is a maze.”
“Hurry! Before Alduin, your life devours. Bring word to Shor’s hall of our hard fate!”
“I am sure that Shor, no, that doesn’t sound right. I am positive that Shor and The Divines are very well aware of your hard fate. That is why we are here. Follow us through the mist and watch as we remove the World-Eater from Sovngarde.”
“I’ll try to hold to your hopeful purpose. Quickly, before this encompassing fog once more snares me in the World-Eater’s net.”
“If you lose sight of us, just follow your nose. My blue friend pongs and can be smelt from the other side of Sovngarde!”
Inigo sniffed, then said, “Is that me? I thought dream Lydia was carrying a pot of Apple-Cabbage Stew!”
I cleared some more mist with my Thu’um, which allowed us to see The Hall of Valour for the first time. I was underwhelmed. Jordis and Lydia were far more impressed.
I told the group, “We shall take the trail to the left just ahead. The steps seem to lead to the hall, but they don’t.”
Celestine added, “Wulf has a map of Sovngarde in his Aetherius Room.”
Along the left path, we encountered a Legionnaire’s spirit.
He asked, “Do you know the way? I am weary and lost.”
“Yes, soldier, follow us.”
“Beware! The World Eater waits within the mist!”
“We have defeated him in battle. He hides from us within the mist!”
I was relieved to see the spirit of High King Torygg. I could tell Elisif that Alduin did not consume her beloved’s soul.
I walked up and gave a deep bow.
“High King Torygg, it is an honour to meet you.”
“When Ulfric Stormcloak, with savage Shout, sent me here, my sole regret was fair Elisif, left forlorn and weeping.”
“I will avenge you. Jarl Elisif, soon to be High Queen Elisif, will find some solace in that.”
“I faced Ulfric fearlessly – my fate inescapable, yet my honour is unstained – can Ulfric say the same?”
“No, he cannot! His infamy will haunt his eternal soul. I hope self-loathing accompanies it.”
As we walked away from Torygg, I said, “Lydia, do not lose hope.”
“I am trying not to, Wulf. I can move on if I know Bjorn will walk The Hall of Valour.”
We made it to Shor and The Whalebone Bridge.
I turned to my friends.
- Wulf: This part I will have to do alone.
- Inigo: This dream is interesting enough. I won’t get bored, but how will Lydia cook for the heroes?
- Wulf: I am sure they will let Lydia inside once I tell them about Apple Cabbage Stew.
- Celestine: Wulf, don’t get into any brawls with ancient heroes.
- Wulf: I promise I will not beat up Ysgramor or any other murdering bastard I meet.
- Kharjo: Khajiit is confused. Many Nords have died and earned their place in Sovngarde, yes?
- Wulf: Yes. Many hundreds of millions, I would assume.
- Kharjo: Would that not make The Hall of Valour very noisy and crowded?
- Wulf: No, because there are an infinite number of halls. Each one contains a limited number of spirits. If I were looking for somebody, for instance, High King Wulfharth, his spirit would appear in the hall I occupy. I expect to encounter the most famous heroes because Lord Shor would surround himself with them during this crisis.
- Jordis: Will you see Lord Shor?
- Wulf: I don’t think so. The Nine hide things from me as I am not ready for the knowledge. Intuition, and some tomes, suggest a connection between Lords Shor and Talos. If I met Lord Shor, even in avatar form, within Sovngarde, I might gain knowledge that I am unprepared for.
- Inigo: Even in my dream, I cannot keep up with the gobblygook!
- Wulf: Stay alert, Inigo! Lives might depend on how quickly you turn Alduin into a pumpkin!
- Kharjo: What does Dragonborn need to do now?
- Wulf: Fight Tsun, a Shield-Thane of Lord Shor. Only those who prove their skill in battle are allowed to cross The Dragonbone Bridge and enter The Hall of Valour.
- Kharjo: But Dragonborn is one of the best warriors. If Tsun proves a challenge, how could regular warriors pass this test?
- Wulf: Tsun will measure each individual and adjust his skill accordingly.
- Celestine: It is a redundant test, Kharjo. It is a ritual that appeals to those who glorify battle. If you are deemed unworthy, your soul would not have been allowed into Sovngarde.
I approached Tsun.
The Shield-Thane asked, “What brings you, wayfarer grim, to wander here, in Sovngarde, souls-end, Shor’s gift to honoured dead?”
“I have come to end Alduin’s reign of terror.”
“A fateful errand. No few have chafed to face the Worm since first he set his soul-snare here at Sovngarde’s threshold. But Shor restrained our wrathful onslaught – perhaps, deep counselled, your doom he foresaw.”
“It is not my doom but a task offered by The Nine and accepted by me. Lord Shor will be expecting my arrival. Therefore, I request access to The Hall of Valour.”
“No shade are you, as usually here passes, but living, you dare the land of the dead. By what right do you request entry?”
“The right of blood. For I am Dragonborn and son of Lord Talos.”
“Ah! It’s been too long since last I faced a doom-driven hero of the dragon blood.”
“Cut the doom crap! I am driven by a desire to protect The Nine and the mortals of Nirn.”
“Living or dead, by decree of Shor, none may pass this perilous bridge until I judge them worthy by the warrior’s test.”
“If that means I have to cut you to ribbons, so be it.”
I stepped back and drew my sword.
Tsun drew his axe.
It was simple to avoid the slower axe and slice Tsun across his chest.
He sheathed his axe and said, “You fought well. I find you worthy.”
Inigo yelled out, “My friend sliced and diced you!”
Lydia said, “Shush, Inigo. This ritual is sacred!”
“You shush, Lydia. This dream is mine, and I can do what I want.”
“I could turn you into an ugly hag. Hey, look, my curse worked!”
I tried not to laugh as Tsun continued, “It is long since one of the living has entered here. May Shor’s favour follow you and your errand.”
“Let’s hope so, or you might be forced to find other gainful employment.”
Tsun stood aside and let me pass.
When I reached the entrance to The Hall of Valour, Alduin roared in the distance.
I turned to see what he was doing.
Zoom-Vision let me see he was not intent on attacking. I think he awaited our final confrontation.
I entered The Hall of Valour, and it was as dull as I thought it would be.
Heroes drank, sang badly, boasted, beat each other senseless sparring. To me, it is the shallowest afterlife imaginable.
The spirits of children were stewards and waiters. Nondescript heroes, larger than life, wandered the hall wearing Dragonbone armour.
Where are the wives, families, parents and friends? I expect when entering my afterlife to be reunited with those loved ones who preceded me in death. The Hall of Valour lacked any sign of love. It glorified battle, and I hated it!
Just as I thought the place couldn’t get any more obnoxious, Ysgramor headed toward me. I was in Sovngarde to complete a task, so I concentrated hard on being civil.
Ysgramor said, “Welcome, Dragonborn! Our door has stood empty since Alduin first set his soul-snare here.”
“That is less than two months ago. But The New Order and Ulfric Stormcloak have provided Alduin with many souls to consume.”
“By Shor’s command, we sheathed our blades and ventured not the vale’s dark mist. But three await your word to vent their fury upon the perilous foe. Gormlaith the Fearless, glad-hearted in battle; Hakon the Valiant, heavy-handed warrior; Felldir the Old, far-seeing and grim.”
“Well, I had better go see them then.”
I walked past many supposed heroes that others revere. To me, most were no better than murdering scum. Besides, I was not in Sovngarde to socialise.
I gazed over at Shor’s throne. It was empty, but I knew he watched. I assume the dead could see him.
When the three Tongues saw me, Gormlaith cried, “At long last! Alduin’s doom is now ours to seal. Just speak the word, and with high hearts, we’ll hasten forth to smite the worm wherever he lurks.”
They didn’t wait for my word before rushing towards the exit.
Felldir said, “Hold, comrades. Let us counsel take before the battle is blindly joined.”
The three Tongues turned to me.
I counselled, “The plan is obvious. We remove the mist by combining our Clear Skies Shouts. Alduin is the big black and ugly dragon that will appear when the mist is gone. We use Dragonrend to keep him grounded and keep hitting him with sharp things, spells and Shouts until he stops moving. Let’s go!”
The Tongues headed for the exit one more while some souls decided to fight in the arena. Other souls watched them as if it was riveting entertainment.
I used The Voice and said, “IN CASE ANYBODY IS INTERESTED, WE GO TO FIGHT ALDUIN NOW. MAYBE YOU COULD WATCH THROUGH THE WINDOWS AND SEE A REAL BATTLE? JUST A SUGGESTION.”
I exited The Hall of Boredom and ran across the bridge.
Tsun had bled hard!
My friends joined me, and we approached the mist.
Tsun called out, “The eyes of Shor are upon you this day. Defeat Alduin, and destroy his soul-snare.”
I replied, “Is that why we are here? I never knew that! By the way, I advise you to clean up your blood before somebody slips on it.”
Lydia was more relaxed than I thought she would be. She laughed with genuine amusement.
I stood in line with the three Tongues at the edge of a mist covered valley.
Felldir said, “We cannot fight the foe in this mist!”
I replied, “Follow my lead and do Clear Skies on the count of three. One… two… three….”
“LOK VAH KOOR!”
Four beings powerful in The Voice combined their Thu’um to clear the valley of Alduin’s mist.
From somewhere within the valley, Alduin Shouted, “VEN MUL RIIK!”
The mist returned.
I said, “Clear Skies again on the count of three, One… two… three….”
“LOK VAH KOOR!”
The mist cleared once more.
As before, Alduin Shouted, “VEN MUL RIIK!” and mist returned.
I advised, “We can do this forever. Alduin uses up the Life Force of the souls he has consumed and will eventually tire. So, let us Shout till he has to fight. Clear Skies again on the count of three, One… two… three….”
“LOK VAH KOOR!”
The mist cleared. This time it did not return!
I used my Thu’um and roared, “BO ALDUIN AHRK GRIND HIN DAAN!” (Come Alduin and meet your doom!)
Alduin swooped over our heads. I shouted Dragon Aspect to protect myself further.
When he started to turn, I hit him with Dragonrend.
Alduin landed awkwardly, and I started to cut into him. It was quickly apparent he was nowhere near the strength of yesterday. The Dragonguard and Tongues attacked his flanks.
I would not let him fly again and used Dragonrend every thirty seconds.
There were no idle threats or boasts from Alduin. He knew this was a fight he would lose. He was determined to take me down with him and directed his fury my way.
I could sense Alduin was almost done. I leapt back and yelled, “Lydia, finish him!”
As Lydia ran towards Alduin, Celestine healed her. Inigo faced Alduin and yelled, “Alduin, you are now a pumpkin! Inigo the Great commands it!”
Alduin turned to face Lydia. She put all her skill into a mighty blow, and Alduin was defeated.
As Alduin started writhing and screaming, Lydia kept hitting him with blows that became more directed by anger than skill. The thing she was stabbing and cutting had taken her soulmate from her. She was sobbing, and my tears joined hers.
I used The Voice and said, “EVERYBODY MOVE BACK! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WILL HAPPEN!”
Alduin’s last words were, “ZU’U UNSLAAD! ZU’U NIS OBLAAN!” (I’m unending! I cannot end!)
Alduin’s soul travelled through the portal to Aetherius. In the Aurbis sat AKA, the oversoul of Time Dragons. I think that is where Alduin’s soul was destined.
Alduin burned with a fire so intense that The Dragonguard turned their backs to him.
I could sense a rapid increase in Magicka. Once again, I used The Voice, “BRACE YOURSELF!”
The stored Magicka was released in an explosion that knocked The Dragonguard from their feet.
Everybody soon recovered, and there was silence except for the echoes of Alduin’s end.
The clouds cleared, and the sky briefly filled with stars. The colours of Sovngarde changed and became saturated.
I approached Tsun, who said, “This was a mighty deed! The doom of Alduin encompassed at last and cleansed is Sovngarde of his evil snare. They will sing of this battle in Shor’s hall forever. But your fate lies elsewhere.”
“Fate? Doom? Bollocks! My tasks lay elsewhere, namely Nirn.”
“When you have completed your count of days, I may welcome you again, with glad friendship, and bid you join the blessed feasting.”
“No, Shield-Thane, I will not return here when I die. Look to the stars that surround us. That is my destination and where my Father and Mother will greet me with open arms. We shall talk and laugh about life and love, not waste eternity talking war and its false glory.”
I stood before the three Tongues and the soldiers we led to The Hall of Valour. They said in unison, “All Hail the Dragonborn! Hail him with great praise!”
- Wulf: Why single me out? You three, my companions and I defeated Alduin together.
- Hakon: I’ll look for you, my friend, when at last you return to Shor’s hall. The honour will be ours when you rejoin the ranks of Sovngarde.
- Wulf: Sovngarde will not be my resting place. Elsewhere in Aetherius is what awaits me.
- Gormlaith: Even here, where heroes throng, few can match this mighty deed. What glory! The gods themselves must envy us this well-earned honour!
- Wulf: Glory and honour in battle are very low on the priority of why I do things. But you enjoy what is important to you. As for The Divines, their only reaction will be a sigh of relief.
- Felldir: Our ancient debt for Alduin’s reprieve is now repaid. The long night is ended.
- Wulf: And that is something to celebrate! Enjoy your time free of that debt.
My friends were looking stunned at what we had done. We had saved the souls in Sovngarde and ensured the people of Nirn remained free.
Inigo was the only one who wanted to talk.
He said, “Alduin is dead! Sweetrolls for everyone. Well done, my friend! This dream just gets better and better.”
Just as I was about to burst Inigo’s dream delusion, a voice called for Lydia from next to a small pond. She turned and ran, discarding her shield, helm, weapons and gloves as she went.
Lydia was somewhat taller than Bjorn, who wore the uniform of a Falkreath guard.
They held onto each other and talked, and I found my tears flowed once more.
I looked at the portal to the rest of Aetherius.
My Father’s voice always sounds the same in person or telepathically.
“Well done, Son. You have done as asked by Lord Akatosh and in far less time than we anticipated.”
“My incentive was the people, Father. People like Lydia, who lost her fiancé to Alduin. Many such as her will mourn as Ulfric’s evil continues to blight your Empire.”
“And for many, you will be the one to take their loved one’s life. The Nine know this burden will be great. Therefore, The Nine have decided you need Rigmor to help carry that burden. I gift you the knowledge needed to teleport to her room and old house. We ask, Son, that you do not travel in Cyrodiil and keep as discreet as possible. Wear the mempo until you are sure there are none to observe you. I am sure you and Rigmor can arrange reasons for her to leave Bruma on occasion.”
“This is a wise decision, Father, for I know I would have found my way to Rigmor soon.”
“I miss your mother and would undoubtedly break the rules and promises to see her once more. Alas, I cannot do that even if I desired.”
“Careful you do not give me clues about Mother’s location.”
“We will see her again, Son. Do not doubt that.”
“I look to the billions of stars and sense something is missing. They do not give me the comfort they once did.”
“Know always that The Nine love you and Alessia and desire your reunion. Of course, one member of The Nine yearns for it as much as yourself.”
“The Empire is a mess, Father. It needs to be healthy once more.”
“That is not an easy task and not for you to worry about, Son.”
“Ahh, sometimes talking to you can be frustrating. We dodge and weave around forbidden knowledge. I feel for you when I stray into such areas.”
“Yes, I can’t lie to you, but I have to be more creative than, ‘I am not allowed to say.’”
“Your scaly Legionnaire is an interesting person.”
“Nafaalilargus’ passion may be gold, but he is the most loyal of friends, Son.”
“I think his apparent lack of intelligence is a façade.”
“Each Dovah must find a way to suppress their urge for battle, conquest and domination. Perhaps the adoption of such a role is Nafaalilargus’ way. I always suspected the same as you, for he would let the disguise slip occasionally.”
“I hope Alduin’s defeat will stop me from having to kill any more Dov.”
“Time will tell, Son. They are individuals with free will, and without Alduin’s influence, most would prefer to coexist than risk their souls. Alduin was more overbearing than an overlord.”
“I have much to sort out before raising my sword against The Stormcloaks.”
“It seems that Lydia is alone once more. I will leave you to console her, Son.”
I looked over, and Bjorn was gone. Lydia stood with her head bowed, and pitiful sobs racked her body. I walked over to her.
Lydia finally controlled her crying and wiped tears from her eyes.
I asked, “Do you want time alone? I could teleport you to one of the houses when we return.”
“No, Wulf. Part of my travel through grief was with Sorella. Olette now travels with me. We lean on each other, so Proudspire is where I must be.”
“Collect your gear, and I will ask Tsun to send us back. Our return will have to be where the Time-Wound was.”
“We had better tell Inigo he is not dreaming.”
Lydia smiled, and I knew she would start to mend now. It was impossible when she was consumed by revenge.
I walked to Tsun, and Lydia followed, occasionally bending to pick up some discarded equipment. When I was sure she had retrieved everything, I said to Tsun, “Please return us to Nirn.”
“Return with a rich boon from Shor, a shout to bring a hero from Sovngarde in your hour of need.”
I was gifted several new Words of Power, the knowledge to use them and a new Shout.
Tsun then Shouted, “NAHL DAAL VUS!”
Sovngarde faded, and we found ourselves at The Throat of the World.
Many dragons were there to mourn the passing of Alduin. They would chant together, and then one would speak solo before taking to the sky. Once the dragon was airborne, he would breathe Dragonfire and fly in circles.
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Sahrot thur qahnaraan
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Dovahkiin los ok dovahkriid
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Thu’umii los nahlot
- All: Alduin mahlaan
- Dragon: Mu los vomir
In Tamrielic it roughly translates to,
- All: Alduin is fallen.
- Dragon: The mighty overlord is vanquished.
- All: Alduin is fallen.
- Dragon: The Dragonborn slew him.
- All: Alduin is fallen.
- Dragon: His voice is silenced.
- All: Alduin is fallen.
- Dragon: We are free of fealty.
As the other dragons continued their ritual, I approached Paarthurnax, who was perched upon the Word Wall.
He said, “So, it is done. Alduin dilon. The Eldest is no more, he who came before all others and had always been.”
“Alduin was the architect of his downfall.”
“Indeed. Alduin wahlaan daanii. His doom was written when he claimed for himself the lordship that properly belongs to Bormahu – our father, Akatosh. But I cannot celebrate his fall. Zu’u tiiraaz ahst ok mah. He was my brother once. This world will never be the same. Rok funta koraav. Perhaps now you have some insight into the forces that shape the vennesetiid… the currents of Time.”
“I understand that it was not my destiny to defeat Alduin. I am not a Dwemer machine blindly following instructions forced upon me during construction. Although a prophecy foretold my actions, it only defined one possible outcome and did not force me to act as I did. What my friends and I accomplished was a product of free will, not destiny nor prophecy. That is my understanding of vennesetiid.”
“I forget myself. Krosis. So los mid fahdon. Melancholy is an easy trap for a dovah to fall into. You have won a mighty victory. Sahrot krongrah – one that will echo through all the ages of this world for those who have eyes to see. Savour your triumph, Dovahkiin. This is not the last of what you will write upon the currents of time.”
“I will have a short rest before entering the chaos once more. Or, perchance, I will elope with my beloved Rigmor and let others do the hero stuff.”
Paarthurnax laughed, then took flight.
He hovered over me and said, “Goraan! I feel younger than I have in many an age.”
“And what will you do now?”
“Many of the Dov are now scattered across Keizaal. Without Alduin’s lordship, they may yet bow to the vahzen… rightness of my Thu’um. But willing or not, they will hear it! Fare thee well, for now, Dovahkiin!”
As Paarthurnax flew in formation with other dragons, Odahviing took off from a nearby perch.
He landed with grace, and I approached him.
He said, “Pruzah wundunne wah Wuth Gein. I wish the old one luck in his… quest. But I doubt many will wish to exchange Alduin’s lordship for the tyranny of Paarthurnax’s ‘Way of the Voice’.”
“I will hunt down and kill any Dovah who does not decide to live peacefully with mortals. So maybe some will need that ‘tyranny’ to survive?”
“As for myself, you’ve proven your mastery twice over. Thuri, Dovahkiin. I gladly acknowledge the power of your Thu’um. Zu’u Odahviing. Call me when you have the need, and I will come if I can.”
“If you will be my ally out of mutual respect and not because you believe me more powerful, I may call for your aid.”
Odahviing lifted and started flying circles around The Throat of the World. He used his wing sparingly as updrafts from the mountain let him glide.
Paarthurnax landed back on the Word Wall as I addressed my friends.
- Inigo: My friend, you are amazing. You saved us all. You killed that smelly World-Eater and put an end to his maniacal machinations.
- Wulf: Alduin is not dead. He has rejoined AKA until he is needed to end the Kalpa.
- Inigo: I had the strangest dream that I was there fighting Alduin by your side. Lydia, Jordis and Kharjo were there as well! It was exhilarating, and it is a shame that it was not real.
- Lydia: So where were you when you had that dream, and how did you get here?
- Inigo: Um…
- Wulf: You were there with us, Inigo. Don’t you remember walking through the portal to Sovngarde?
- Inigo: My friend, I thought everything was a dream from when I woke this morning. I mean, who captures a dragon in a palace?
- Jordis: Who else but Nirn’s weirdest weirdo, also known as Wulf.
- Inigo: True, and wow! I was actually there. That is the best news I have had in a while! That means we six saved everybody from Alduin. Oh, I mean seven. Mr Dragonfly provided moral support and cheered us on!
- Wulf: Many people have helped with defeating Alduin. That includes all Dragonguard plus the three ancient Tongues.
- Inigo: But you did most of the work, and what an adventure! I thought I had just imagined the whole thing. Thank you for putting me straight.
- Lydia: We are quite a team, don’t you agree?
- Inigo: My friend, if they do not build a massive statue in your honour, I would complain.
- Wulf: If they did, I would demolish it. We do such things because it is right and not to become heroes.
- Lydia: Inigo, I heard you during the busiest part of the battle and had to laugh.
- Jordis: I also heard Inigo say, ‘Alduin, you are now a pumpkin! Inigo the Great commands it!’
- Inigo: You will not put that in your journal, will you, my friend?
- Wulf: It is an essential piece of history, so I will. You will amuse countless generations!
- Inigo: Well, don’t forget the part where we all cried when Bjorn appeared.
- Wulf: That was a gift from Shor for a special Swordmaiden.
- Lydia: I will talk about it one day soon. At the moment, it is a bit…
- Wulf: Raw? We understand.
- Lydia: What do we do now?
- Wulf: I should inform The Greybeards and The Blades of our success. Both are isolated and will not receive the news as quickly as others.
- Celestine: Did you strangle anybody in The Hall of Honour.
- Wulf: No, and I was greeted by Ysgramor!
- Celestine: Well, if you didn’t punch him, I expect you to be civil with Arngeir.
- Wulf: Yes, Ma’am.
- Lydia: I hope Rigmor has learned how to make him behave, Celestine.
- Celestine: Oh yes, she was an excellent student.
- Lydia: Jo’rassa could probably do with some advice.
- Jordis: No, she has all the requisite skills, doesn’t she, Inigo?
- Inigo: She does this innocent, wide-eyed sideways glance. I have no defence. If I even look like resisting, she throws in a few blinks and a pout. It is disturbing how my brain turns to mush.
- Kharjo: Khajiit will mourn for you.
- Inigo: Thank you.
- Wulf: We will probably interrupt the Greybeards during their beard dipping.
- Lydia: Beard dipping?
- Wulf: They love soup for supper. They dip their beards into it so they can suck on them later.
- Lydia: Eww!
- Inigo: My friend, can you teleport Jo’rassa and me to Honeyside?
- Wulf: Yes, but if you are going to spend time with Jo’rassa, do so without weapons or armour. Forget about killing and just be Inigo.
- Lydia: That is excellent advice from Wulf. Perhaps he is already trained?
- Wulf: Now, please be patient while I tell Rigmor what has occurred.
I walked a few feet away and contacted Rigmor.
“Hello, my beloved. Can you talk?”
“Yes, I have had my meal delivered to my room. Cerys is excellent at making up stories to cover some of my actions.”
“We have defeated Alduin. That task is done, and nobody was seriously hurt.”
“Oh, my dear Dragonborn, that is such good news!”
“How would you like me to tell you about it as you lie next to me?”
“Father has gifted me the knowledge I need to teleport into your bedroom or old house. I can summon you to Breezehome, and we can at least spend the night and morning together. I can then return you home. It will be like you sneaking in through the window, hoping your parents don’t notice!”
“My apartment is what I call our old house. Everybody knows if I spend the night in my apartment, I do not want to be disturbed. However, I would feel uncomfortable being away from Bruma without some way of being contacted.”
“Cerys knows about our enforced separation, correct?”
“Yes, she knows everything, including who you are. I needed somebody to talk to about all of this.”
“That is okay and understandable, Rigmor. I also think Cerys is trustworthy. That is why I am willing to teach her how to summon you. I think she has the skills required.”
“Okay, how long will that take?”
“I will write the spell into a tome and give it to her. She should be able to use it within hours.”
“Okay. We will wait for you in my bedroom. I don’t want you to see my apartment!”
“Somebody might not be as tidy as one would hope.”
“Does it look like a herd of mammoths have traipsed through?”
“More like you fought Alduin in there.”
“I assume in Bruma Castle that your clothes are neatly folded and placed in specific places according to protocol. Dust bunnies are banned by Royal Decree, and your bed so tightly tucked you can bounce septims on it.”
“How did you know that? Anybody would think you had noble blood!”
“The Nine have agreed to us being together earlier than I expected. It will not be pleasant fighting the civil war. I could end it by killing Ulfric, but somebody else would replace him. The Stormcloaks need to be eliminated in a way that deters others from emulating Ulfric for a very long time.”
“We being together will help you cope with the killing of Stormcloaks.”
“Yes, The Nine know it will inflict a greater mental toll on me than anything else. It is different from when we came across battles already in progress. There, I was rescuing Imperial troops. Now I will be attacking Holds and seeking to kill mortals I don’t deem evil, just misguided.”
“Hopefully, Our Quiet will ease your worries.”
“Okay, I will contact you soon.”
“Mmm, what shall I wear?”
“Something you don’t mind being ripped from your body.”
My friends smiled at my smile as I walked over to them. I teleported us to High Hrothgar.
We then made our way to the dining hall. The Greybeards were waiting for their supper, so their beards were dry.
Arngeir rose to greet us.
- Arngeir: I see it in your eyes – you’ve seen the land of the gods and returned.
- Wulf: We saw the land of one god, and it is not the first I have visited.
- Arngeir: Does this mean… it is done? Is Alduin truly defeated?
- Wulf: We destroyed his corporeal form but not his soul. That returned to AKA, and Alduin will appear once more when this Kalpa needs to end.
- Arngeir: Perhaps, perhaps not. Dragons are not like normal mortal creatures, and Alduin is unique even among dragons. He may be permitted to return at the end of time to fulfil his destiny as the World-Eater. But that is for the gods to decide. You have done your part.
- Wulf: I looked at Alduin’s soul, Arngeir. He is certainly not like other dragons because he is a god. And he will return as that is part of the Convention agreed to by the gods. Please, do not contradict on matters where you lack expertise.
- Arngeir: You’ve shown yourself mighty, both in The Voice and deed. To defeat Alduin, you have gained mastery of dreadful weapons. It is up to you to decide what to do with your power and skill. Will you be a hero whose name will be remembered in song throughout the ages? Or will your name be a curse to future generations? Or will you fade from history, unremembered? Let the Way of the Voice be your guide, and the path of wisdom will be clear to you.
- Lydia: Oh, for Kynareth’s sake, shut up, you ignorant old fart!
- Wulf: Lydia!
- Lydia: Wulf used the dreadful weapons given to him by The Divines, including Lady Kynareth. He knows which ones to use and when according to the strictest set of morals I have ever seen in an individual. There is no wisdom Wulf can learn from your religion. Your leader, Paarthurnax, wanted to combat Alduin using The Thu’um! The Divines wanted and needed Wulf to use his Thu’um to save all on Nirn. He has continually put himself in harm’s way as that is his chosen purpose and not something forced upon him. It is a purpose he pursues to benefit others and not for reward or praise. Yet you imply he might be a curse to future generations if he doesn’t adhere to The Way of The Voice. What is wrong with you?
- Wulf: Please, Lydia, I have already yelled at Arngeir!
- Inigo: No, Lydia is correct, and it seems he didn’t listen. My friend, all you have ever got from this lot are warnings about using your Divine blessings and gifts. We know your gods, who are also their gods, support you in your endeavours.
- Lydia: Arngeir, Wulf told us that Ulfric Stormcloak spent ten years being taught The Way of The Voice. Then he ignored it and used Unrelenting Force to murder a king. Yet you do not regard that Shout as evil! However, you regarded Dragonrend as evil without the slightest idea of what it did.
- Inigo: Dragonrend makes dragons contemplate their immortality and forces them to land. It does not harm them like many other Shouts, such as Unrelenting Force. You make no sense, and on behalf of all who owe Wulf our lives and freedom, I demand you show some respect for the person he is!
- Arngeir: I see. Perhaps we need to discuss our teachings more with Paarthurnax.
- Wulf: He might be busy recruiting new members to your order. I do not think the name of Greybeards will apply to the dragons who join.
- Arngeir: He is what?
- Jordis: Perhaps The Greybeards need to learn who Wulf’s father is?
- Arngeir: Oh, and who might that be?
- Wulf: My father is Tiber Septim, also known as Hjalti Early-Beard but most commonly called Talos. My mother is Al-Esh, also known as Aleshut but most commonly called Saint Alessia.
- Lydia: Saint Alessia!
- Jordis: Oh my!
- Kharjo: Khajiit admires her, but not her champion!
- Arngeir: I fail to see how gods can be The Dragonborn’s parents.
- Wulf: You know about The Voice, Arngeir. However, you have no idea of The Divines’ capabilities or metaphysics. Therefore, your ignorance and doubt are to be expected. But I warn you, do not compound your errors by accusing us of untruths. The Greybeards have named me Ysmir and implied I am the rightful High King of Skyrim and, indirectly, Emperor. Think deeply about why you found that appropriate. Could it be Lady Kynareth whispered it on the wind? Breath and focus, Arngeir.
We left the stunned Greybeards so they could contemplate what was just said.
I teleported us to Sky Haven Temple. The first person I saw was Captain Algren.
Algren looked at The Dragonguard and asked, “You have more than one bodyguard?”
“Yes, but I regard them as friends. Didn’t the other me have more than one?”
“No, but I am finding many subtle differences between my none existent fake timeline and this real one.”
“Your timeline was real enough to create a soul compatible with this one.”
“So, I shouldn’t be bitter that I was born in a splinter?”
“You are young, Captain Algren. You have two choices moving forward. You can be bitter about your circumstance and use that as an excuse to do nothing useful. The other choice is to join me as a Dragonguard and help the people of Nirn.”
“After Nafaalilargus brought me here, I could remember my entire life. The splinter did not encompass a short time but at least twenty years, for that is my age. My parents were killed in a carriage accident in my timeline, and I never fell in love. I will miss my friends of that time, but who knows, they may become friends in this one. Therefore, I carry no great personal loss into this timeline apart from my Wulf, who was a dear friend.”
“I don’t think there will be many disparities between the two timelines. I will ask Silah, a Jill that helps me, to talk to you. She can find out if anything major may cause you issues.”
“Such as finding my parents are still alive or there is another me?”
“Yes, that sort of thing. But I think your soul was compatible because there are no anomalies like that.”
“Ahh, we say gobblygook.”
“I know, but the look on your face was priceless.”
“Stay here, for now, Captain Algren. Silah will visit soon.”
“Can you please hurry up and recruit some more Blades? The two currently here are as boring as batshit!”
“I am glad the other me taught you some useful colloquialisms.”
“Yeah, he did speak weird.”
We walked over to Delphine. I was pleased to see her wearing Blade armour.
- Wulf: Delphine, yesterday we fought Alduin for over four hours at the summit of The Throat of the World. Alduin could not be, for lack of a better term, killed while in Mundus. He fled to Sovngarde.
- Delphine: How will you follow him to Sovngarde?
- Wulf: Today, I challenged Odahviing, and he accepted. We captured him in Dragonsreach using their ancient dragon trap. He submitted to my superior Thu’um and flew me to Skuldafn, the eyrie of Alduin. Skuldafn housed a portal to Sovngarde, which we used.
- Delphine: Odahviing is Alduin’s replacement for Paarthurnax. Has he overcome his base instincts like you claim Paarthurnax has?
- Wulf: Since Alduin restored Odahviing, he has not harmed any mortals. Like many other Dov, he was not keen to participate in another Dragon War.
- Celestine: Paarthurnax wanted to fight Alduin even though he stood no chance of defeating him. Alduin could not be harmed whilst in the air. That demonstrates whose side he is on if you have lingering doubts!
- Delphine: If Alduin cannot be defeated while flying, how did you defeat him at the summit?
- Inigo: Wulf went back in time and learned the Shout used by the Tongues. That Shout makes dragons land, well, sort of land. It is more like a partly controlled smack into the ground.
- Delphine: Back in time?
- Wulf: I will explain all of that another time. Oops, sorry for the pun.
- Celestine: Alduin’s Wall implies something other than a Shout was used to defeat the World Eater. An Elder Scroll was used to send Alduin into the time stream.
- Delphine: That is what Felldir is doing on Alduin’s Wall?
- Wulf: Yes. Alduin’s Wall shows Felldir talking. He invoked Lady Kynareth, who used the power of an Elder Scroll to banish Alduin.
- Delphine: What happened in Sovngarde?
- Wulf: Alduin was nowhere near the strength he was yesterday. We easily defeated him with the assistance of the ancient Tongues.
- Delphine: Is Alduin dead?
- Wulf: No, Delphine. Without Alduin, Nirn and Mundus could not be rebuilt if destroyed or if Convention was breached. He will come back one day and fulfil his task of World-Eater.
- Delphine: What will the dragons do now?
- Wulf: Some Dov may still succumb to their base instincts. That is why we must recruit more Blades. The Dragonguard will be assisting me with whatever future problems I address. Paarthurnax is busy recruiting Dov into The Greybeards, although that name may become redundant. I disagree with the principles of The Way of The Voice, but it is helpful for dragons who desire to live in peace with mortals.
- Delphine: Esbern is outside tidying the garden. He will be fascinated by this tale.
- Wulf: I shall visit again and soon. Then I will be happy to fill in the details.
- Delphine: I thank you all for what you have done.
I teleported us to the Safe House. My friends started mingling and telling tales of what had occurred.
I made my way to my room and wrote a Spell Tome for Cerys. Olette delivered a hot meal. She hugged me and said, “I am glad you are safe, Cap’n.”
I went to ruffle her hair, but she laughed and dashed away before I did so.
I also wrote a letter to Jarl Elisif informing her of the victory over Alduin. Celestine will deliver it to The Blue Palace, and via diplomatic channels and news sheets, the whole of Nirn will soon know.
I created a Master of Magicka ring for Cerys, similar to the one I gift all Dragonguard mages.
Then I dressed in a silk jacket I brought from Akavir and left my weapons on my bed.
When handing Elisif’s letter to Celestine, I told her that I would be at Breezehome with Rigmor. Celestine yelled, “Rigmor and Wulf will be at Breezehome!”
Celestine smiled as that news was greeted with cheers and ribald suggestions.
When I came downstairs, Inigo and Jo’rassa approached. Inigo looked quite dashing in some casual gear.
Inigo said, “We are ready, my friend.”
“Jo’rassa, please place your hand on my shoulder.”
Jo’rassa did so, and I teleported us to Honeyside.
I lit the fire for my friends with Magicka as it was freezing in Riften.
I then contacted Rigmor.
“Are you ready, my beloved?”
“Yeah. I hope you like my dress!”
“Even if it’s horrible, I will pretend it is magnificent!”
I teleported to Rigmor’s bedroom, and she greeted me with a smile.
I smiled back, for my soul was complete once more.