Loredas, 1st Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
to Morndas, 3rd Sun’s Dusk 4E 201
After hugging Olette for ages, but not long enough, I placed her back on her feet.
“Cap’n, that was the best hug ever!”
“I kind of missed my street urchin.”
“Did you kill that Miraak arsho…um…person?”
“I could tell he wasn’t a bad person, but somebody led astray by Hermaeus Mora. Many good people have fallen prey to the Dark Lord’s temptations throughout history. We had to fight dozens of enemies together in Oblivion before he could escape.”
“So where is he?”
“He is cleaning out his temple of some followers. Not all of them will accept him abandoning Hermaeus Mora. I will visit Miraak in a couple of days and take him to the Safe House. He will live there for some time and catch up on over twenty-five centuries of history. That way, he will understand the factions and politics of today’s Nirn.”
“He will probably ask poor Auryen a million questions!”
“Auryen will ask as many in return! Miraak witnessed The Dragon War and came from the Merethic Era.”
“Wow, somebody older than you! That is amazing!”
“Any more cheek, and you won’t get the surprise.”
“Watch as I give you my puppy dog eyes and pout!”
“I will not give in…I will not…aaaahhhh!”
“Hehehe. Now, Cap’n, what surprises have you got for your favourite daughter?”
“You are my only daughter.”
“That automatically makes me your favourite. Now, what is the surprise?”
“You, me and Hashire will visit a few stables. We will help you choose a pony.”
“A pony? I can’t even ride!”
“We will teach you.”
I was rewarded with another hug.
“Now, young lady, I heard you have collected some new friends.”
“Yeah, come and meet them!”
Olette grabbed me by the hand and dragged me through the children’s bedroom and into the altar room. Waiting for us was part of her menagerie.
“This is Sweet Roll. He is the smartest fox that has ever lived!”
I knelt and said, “Hello, Sweet Roll. I am very pleased to meet you.”
Olette dragged me to her next furry friend.
“Cap’n, this is Thistle.”
“Hello, Thistle. How smart is she, Olette?”
“She is a rabbit, so only twice as smart as you.”
“Is she smart enough to hop into the stew pot all by herself?”
“Cap’n, there are some words you don’t use within earshot of Thistle. They include stew, braised, roast and casserole.”
“You just used those words in front of Thistle!”
“She is a rabbit, and she doesn’t understand Tamrielic.”
“Then why can’t I use those words?”
“My rabbit, my rules!”
A rabbit and a fox are not uncommon pets. But the next pet was unique.
“Cap’n, meet Arachnia.”
“Greetings, Arachnia. I hope Inigo has been friendly to you.”
“Haha, he saw Arachnia and started twitching. Ko’rassa whispered in his ear. I don’t know what she said, but his mouth and eyes opened wide. She then steered him to a chair and sat on his lap. Inigo looked pleased.”
“Vayu said Arachnia is fully grown.”
“Vayu thinks she was an experiment of a deranged mage.”
“What does she eat?”
“Every couple of days, she heads down to the grasslands at the foot of the mountain and hunts. She only likes food she kills, and I wasn’t going to feed her animals that have no chance of escaping.”
“How do you know what she likes?”
“I don’t know how I know, Cap’n. I seem to have an affinity for animals. They come up to me, and we are instant friends.”
“Who have you got outside?”
“Hilda the nanny goat and Willa, her husband. Grelod the cow and some chickens who don’t have names.”
‘You named a cow after Grelod the Kind?”
“She is not an old cow but still a cow, so Grelod seemed to suit her.”
“What do you call a cow with no legs?”
“Do you have to? I thought you loved me.”
“What do you call a cow with two legs?”
“What do you call a cow with a twitch?”
“What do you call a dog with no legs?”
“You can call it whatever you like because he isn’t going to come to you!”
“Have you finished with the torture?”
“Humph! I will visit Grelod and the others tomorrow. Right now, I had better say hello to everybody else.”
“And then you should have an extremely long bath. Pew!”
“Has the Dwemer plumbing been installed?”
“Yeah, Professor Marassi and Madras supervised the craftsman. Latoria was with them. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met, so I was glad she spent some time here. I miss lots of people from Solitude.”
“Before I left for Solstheim, we organised an archaeological dig at the bottom of the mountain. You can camp with the explorers if you want. Some of The Dragonguard will be keeping them safe.”
“When I get a chance, I will find some more children to live here. I think I will look around the cities and see if there are any I can rescue from the streets. I will also hire a tutor.”
“You don’t want any of those street urchins. I hear they are nothing but trouble!”
“Yeah, so perhaps I shouldn’t take you with me.”
“I will visit the different cities! Now that is cool!”
Olette and I entered the main living area, and the hum of conversation and laughter washed over me.
I visited several tables and chatted with many of my friends.
I walked over to Inigo. He was busy turning the rotisserie and stirring the stew.
“So, Inigo, what do you think of Silverpeak Lodge now that it is finished?”
“It is wonderful except for one eight-legged resident!”
“At least Arachnia is not a Zombie Spider.”
“Zombie Spider? Please, my friend, tell me they do not exist.”
“They might. It wouldn’t be hard to make an undead spider.”
“I will get used to Arachnia. Vayu says she was a mage’s experiment.”
“Like Mr Dragonfly and almost you.”
“Yes, and Mr Dragonfly wants to be introduced to Arachnia. I think I shall tell Olette that tale, and Arachnia can listen in.”
“We are talking about a spider listening and understanding what we say.”
“Who knew that your weirdness was contagious?”
I left Inigo to his cooking and quickly looked around Silverpeak Lodge.
I then used the showers and washed away Solstheim’s dust and ash remnants.
I retired to my bedroom, climbed into bed and contacted Rigmor.
“My beloved, you will adore Silverpeak Lodge!”
“I can’t wait to see it.”
“How was Sigunn after I left?”
“We sat and had a long talk. Mum didn’t say it, but I know she was hoping we would get married and give her grandchildren to spoil.”
“We are still young, Rigmor. We could get married in Riften’s Temple of Mara.”
“No, ever since I was a little girl, I have looked forward to getting married in Bruma’s Temple.”
“Do you have a meeting with Freathof and Malesam tomorrow?”
“Yes. I will leave my sword in my room just in case.”
“Malesam will worry about treading on East Empire’s toes. Just ask him to check for any binding contracts between Solstheim and East Empire.”
“I will relax and do things around Silverpeak Lodge for a couple of days. Then I will join The Explorers Guild at their dig site. I told Olette she could camp with them.”
“I hope you are going to visit Elisif.”
“Yes, of course. However, I refuse to accept any save the world tasks no matter who asks.”
“Was Olette happy to see you?”
“We had a good, long hug. I am taking Olette to buy a pony tomorrow. All of The Dragonguard will be shopping for horses. I am paying for them, so I have set a limit. They can surpass the limit if they contribute their gold to make the deficit.”
“They never have to purchase anything except for clothes. They should all have healthy sums in the bank.”
“Nafaalilargus found an isolated valley where the herd can stay. Each Dragonguard will carry a horn to summon their horse.”
“Where is this valley?”
“We should reach it during our excavations of Windcaller Pass. Two dragons have been hiding there since The Dragon War. Nafaalilargus says they will guard the herd.”
“Will it take long for the horses to get used to teleporting?”
“Not in my experience. Getting horses used to dragons will be harder.”
“Can Olette ride?”
“No, but like everything else, she will learn quickly.”
“Sorella did okay on that long ride from Angi’s to Sethri’s farm.”
“I had to be patient when all I wanted to do was find you.”
“And then Boethia made you fetch Scourge and fight her champions.”
“I am dead tired, my Guardian. Talk to me tomorrow after lunch. Hopefully, I would have escaped my advisors by then.”
“Good night, milady.”
The mattress of my new bed was as I ordered. Not too firm or soft, but a good middle ground. I soon fell asleep.
I had hardly finished breaking my fast the following day when Olette dragged me outside.
“I love it out here, Cap’n. I liked Riften and Solitude, but this place smells better, and the views are cool. Rigmor will love Silverpeak Lodge!”
“Yes, I think she will. I will make the small outdoor spa’s water like the natural spa in Severin Manor. That is the name of my new house in Solstheim. It seemed to help her back more than other spas Rigmor has tried.”
“I cried when she told me how she got the scars. Her mother sounds amazing. She was enslaved for four years!”
“Sigunn used to be a school teacher. Like Rigmor, she is full of compassion despite the horrors she survived.”
“When you marry Rigmor, she will be my mother.”
“Yes, by law, that is what will happen.”
“But you don’t know when you can get married, do you?”
“No, Olette, we don’t.”
“Well, I kind of think of Rigmor as a big sister. It would be weird calling her mother.”
“So, are we going to stand here and grow icicles or are you going to introduce me to your pets?”
“My nose is runny, so they are snoticles!”
“It is cold enough to freeze a fart!”
“It would be fun to throw a frozen fart onto a fire that people are gathered around.”
We walked over to the animal enclosure, and the assorted beasts were genuinely pleased to see their young friend.
I entered the enclosure and bowed to Hilda.
“I am honoured to meet you, Lady Hilda.”
“Yes, I do like your outfit. It is fashionable but not too showy.”
“No, your bottom does not look big in it at all!”
Willa said, “Maaa!”
I turned around.
“What’s that, Sir Willa? I am not trying to seduce your wife but simply being courteous.”
“Lady Grelod, that is a scandalous thing to say! If you maintain that sour attitude, your milk will curdle. Come, Lady Olette, I find the company uncouth.”
“What are we going to do, Cap’n?”
“I will make diving platforms for the large outside spa.”
“You can’t dive into that spa! The water is too shallow!”
“Is that so? I will ask Nafaalilargus to help as I need some long tree trunks.”
“I will watch. Then I can laugh at you when nothing works out.”
“After that, I have to visit Solitude.”
A few hours later, with the aid of Nafaalilargus, I had the long poles in position and platforms made. I will place the required dweomer later.
Wujeeta insisted on cleaning my armour, so I looked resplendent when I left for Solitude. I teleported to just inside the entrance as I wanted to enjoy a walk and experience the atmosphere of Skyrim’s capital.
The streets of Solitude echoed with the laughter of children. All races played together without prejudice. If only adults could remember what children naturally know. There are far more similarities than differences amongst the peoples of Nirn.
I entered The Blue Palace and made my way to Elisif. The High Queen smiled as I approached.
I bowed low and said, “Congratulations, my Queen.”
“Thank you, Wulf, but I wear the crown thanks to you and your friends. There is never a need for you to bow before me.”
“You earned my bow of respect. I didn’t do it due to protocol.”
“Now that I am Queen, I can make decisions and mostly ignore the political arguments. While waiting to be chosen by the moot, I had to be more circumspect.”
“That freedom must be refreshing.”
“It is exhilarating. The Lord of Highreach was a traitor to The Ruby Throne and Skyrim. We seized the town and used its keep as a hospital during the civil war. That need is now past, but the town’s citizens are bereft of a Lord. My advisors have been pressing me to award the lordship to one sycophant or another. I have rejected their choices because I want you to be Lord of Highreach, Wulf. The duties would not be burdensome. However, most of its population were also Stormcloak sympathisers. Many died for Ulfric while others fled, fearing reprisals that would never eventuate. Inspect the town, Wulf. Talk to those who remain, and then tell me if you will accept the position.”
“I am honoured by the offer, my Queen. I shall visit Highreach in the next few days. I am enjoying some homelife before chaos drags me back.”
“There is no hurry, Wulf.”
“When we seized Riften, Maven Black-Briar was made Jarl. I am unsure about the protocol but want to table my objection to that appointment.”
“Because there was no High King or Queen, that appointment was made by His Imperial Majesty. Removing a Jarl is difficult unless there is absolute proof of immoral or criminal behaviour. I suggest you speak to Ambassador Cromwell in Dour Castle and voice your concerns.”
“Who would you have placed in the position?”
“Horik Strong-Hand. He is a Son of Talos and fought beside Rigmor’s father during and after The Great War and was an advisor to General Tullius during the civil war. He can trace his heritage back to the Five-Hundred of Atmora. That is who I would have chosen.”
“I will speak to Horik Strong-Hand before I meet with the ambassador.”
“Don’t expect Maven to leave quietly.”
“She will be lucky if she doesn’t end up in prison, like her murdering son.”
“You caught me during a break in court, Wulf. I now have an endless list of supplicants to deal with.”
“Then, my Queen, I will leave you to your hobby. Enjoy yourself!”
Elisif laughed as I bowed and left.
I decided that Highreach and Ambassador Cromwell could wait. There are things I want to do for myself before I re-enter the chaos.
I exited The Blue Palace and went to The Explorers Society Guild House. I entered and approached Professor Patero Marassi.
“Good afternoon, Professor.”
“Our illusive Guild Master finally visits!”
“Saving everybody from death or enslavement took priority. Sorry if that was inconvenient for you.”
“I apologise, Guild Master. We delayed the Windcaller Pass dig so many times I thought we would never do it.”
“Your supplies should arrive from Whiterun tomorrow. Vayu will teleport all of you to the dig site in the morning. I will join you in the next day or two to see how the excavation is progressing.”
“Are you certain the two dragons are friendly?”
“Yes, but it might be best if I approach and tinvaak with them before any guild member enters the valley. Anyway, I will let you continue your preparations.”
I then talked to Latoria.
“That is a magnificent robe, Latoria!”
“Latoria saw it has many moons upon it and immediately needed it badly. So, this one spent way too much money but is now the proud owner.”
“It will get grubby during the dig.”
“That is why Latoria will not be wearing it. Khajiit will wear worn-out dusty clothes for the dig.”
“Olette will be camping with you.”
“Latoria is very fond of Olette, so she is very pleased that this thing will happen.”
I left Latoria to prepare for the dig and sought out Madras.
“Excited about the dig, Madras?”
“Why would I be? Windcaller Pass is not a long-lost Dwemer ruin.”
“The excitement of the find should please you even if Nord in origin.”
“I will feign interest if that is important, Guild Master.”
“You drag other guild members through boring Dwemer ruins without complaint. I expect the same from you at Windcaller Pass.”
I moved away from Madras before he tested my patience any further.
Eriana laughed and asked, “Is Madras under your skin again, Guild Master?”
“Dwemer this! Dwemer that! Why did they disappear up their backsides if they are so brilliant?”
“We are well-supplied thanks to the Khajiiti Caravan outside of Whiterun. They even agreed to deliver our supplies to the dig site for no extra fee!”
“Ri’saad is a shrewd but fair businessman. He recognised the potential for repeat business and is keen to impress.”
“Maybe, but the bargains and extra help materialised when I mentioned your name.”
“Ri’saad makes a healthy profit from the gems I sell him. But he is a friend and not just because of that. He appreciates my respect for his people and traditions.”
“It will be good for all of us to do some field work once more.”
“A squad of Dragonguard will keep you safe. That will allow you to relax and enjoy sorting out the thousands of tiny pottery and mosaic fragments in peace.”
“On that note of sarcasm, I bid you good day.”
Kyre was sweeping the upstairs dormitory.
I told him, “Kyre, I want you to wear your armour at the dig site.”
“It makes it harder to swing my pickaxe, but I will do as you ask.”
“I will see you at the site in a couple of days.”
Auryen was visiting a scholar in Markarth. Therefore I couldn’t speak to him.
I teleported to Silverpeak Lodge and spent the afternoon with Hashire and Olette shopping for a pony. Nafaalilargus flew scout for us, but we only had to leave each city for their nearby stables. Nafaalilargus presence was a good test for a pony’s skittishness around dragons.
Olette was adopted by a beautiful mare that approached us near Riften stables. Hashire said she was from a nearby wild herd and liked Olette. My daughter was immediately smitten with the horse she named Idunn, an old Nord word that means love.
I placed a dweomer on Idunn’s harness and a horn. I then showed Olette how to summon Idunn and dismiss her. The mare seemed unfazed by the teleporting. I teleported us to Silverpeak Lodge, and then Olette summoned Idunn.
I taught Olette some primary horse care and how to mount and dismount. Then for a couple of hours, Olette rode Idunn around the grounds of Silverpeak Lodge with Hashire supervising.
It was Olette’s turn for cooking duties, and to her credit, she didn’t have to be reminded. She reluctantly stabled Idunn next to Hashire and entered Silverpeak Lodge.
I placed dweomer on the diving platforms and large outdoor spa, then headed for supper.
I asked Olette, “Do you feel confident enough to ride down the mountain tomorrow?”
“Idunn will look after me. So yeah, Cap’n, that sounds like fun.”
“Don’t forget to introduce your pets to Idunn.”
“They have already introduced themselves.”
“Ahh…of course they have. How silly of me!”
“Listen, Cap’n, I don’t understand this thing with animals and me, and neither do you. Let’s get over the weirdness and accept it.”
“You are right, Olette. I am used to seeing the unexplainable.”
“Yep, it is gobblygook.”
“Sometimes, Daenlyn and I play and sing for the others after supper. I am having trouble with the flute part of Chim-El Adabal, where you switch to the chorus. I am guaranteed to get it wrong at least once out of the three times in the song. Daenlyn has been patient but fingers the flute differently than you and me. Can I watch you play it so I can see how you do the transition?”
“Certainly, as long as you sing it while I play the flute. It will help with the timing when you watch my fingerplay.”
“It will sound strange without a lute accompaniment!”
“Not if you are clever with your singing. Think about it during supper, and we will see how it goes.”
During supper, I asked several of the mages what they thought of Highreach. They had helped the wounded there during the civil war and after The New Order invasion. The consensus was that the town had potential, but I wouldn’t be enamoured of the deposed lord’s decorations.
As supper wound down, Olette and I played a few songs together. Then we tackled Chim-El Adabal with me on the flute and Olette singing.
- When Akatosh slew Lorkhan,
- He ripped his heart right out,
- He hurled it across Tamriel,
- And the heart was heard to shout:
- Red Diamond! Red Diamond!
- The heart and soul of Men.
- Red Diamond! Red Diamond!
- Protect us till the end.
- The laughing heart sprayed blood afar,
- A gout on Cyrod fell,
- And like a dart shot to its mark
- Down in an Ayleid Well.
- Magicka fused the Lorkhan blood
- To crystal red and strong
- Then Wild Elves cut and polished it down
- To Chim-el Adabal.
- Red Diamond! Red Diamond!
- The heart and soul of Men.
- Red Diamond! Red Diamond!
- Protect us till the end.
- When Elves lost Nirn to Man,
- Akatosh gave the stone
- To Saint Alesh in token of
- Her right to sit the throne.
- Red Diamond! Red Diamond!
- The heart and soul of Men.
- Red Diamond! Red Diamond!
- Protect us till the end.
Olette smiled; I knew she had learned what to do by observation.
We did the song again, with me accompanying Olette with voice and lute.
My friends knew that Olette had been struggling with the transitions to the chorus. When we completed the song without an error, Olette bowed to heartfelt cheers and clapping.
Olette’s sense of accomplishment was palpable and warmed my heart. Now I know why my parents occasionally grinned like town simpletons when I got something right.
Daenlyn joined us, and we played for another hour before I begged for mercy and headed to bed.
I contacted Rigmor via our amulets.
“My beloved, do your advisors still live?”
“Malesam kept moaning about how it is never wise to compete against The East Empire Trading Company and how they cause problems for Bruma blah blah blah.”
“Councillor Morvayn said there wasn’t a trade agreement with them. They used East Empire because they didn’t have a choice. Now they have a choice and agree to your proposal. Malesam is speaking through his arse.”
“I said the same, but still, he will head for The Imperial City tomorrow and speak to the relevant clerks and officials. At least that gets him out of my castle for a few days.”
“And what did he propose you do with the excess grain and other supplies?”
“He had no answer to that and never has. I am sure our farmers will be happy with the agreement.”
“I visited Elisif, and she was far more relaxed. Before the moot voted for her, I think she had great doubts it would happen.”
“Now she will have the pressure to get married and produce an heir and a spare.”
“She and Torygg married for love, not duty. That is how it should be when The Empire is supposed to follow the Ten Commands of The Nine Divines.”
“Freathof is already hinting I should be taking notice of the noble bachelors. I have told him I am still a teenager and would like to live a little before turning into a broodmare.”
“The recompense for your family’s treatment would be gifted to a person whose prime qualification is a penis.”
“Oh, Freathof says if I select carefully, that wouldn’t be much of an issue.”
“Anyway, you and I have discussed all this before and agree that the Coverture Laws are idiotic.”
“Elisif wants to make me Lord of Highreach.”
“Would there be much work involved?”
“Not if I surround myself with competent advisors. I would meet with them weekly, and that would be it.”
“Did you accept the position?”
“I told Elisif I don’t want to get involved right away. I want to spend some time here, Rigmor. We are like one big family in Silverpeak Lodge. I will have a look at Highreach soon and go from there.”
“Did Olette choose a pony?”
“A wild pony chose her. I have read about mortals with this uncanny connection to animals. In Skyrim, it is regarded as a blessing from Kyne.”
“Me with the bears. Sorella with the wolves. Olette with everything. Gobblygook!”
“Yep. Oh, while I remember, can you ask Felix about somebody he might know.”
“Felix knows lots of people. Try narrowing it down a bit, Dragonbum.”
“I was about to before you rudely interrupted.”
“Can you hear my mental raspberry?”
“I bet you did it for real because you can’t just imagine a raspberry!”
“There is nobody to see their countess raspberry thin air. So I did one for real, and it was perfect. The lips vibrated loudly, and no spittle was produced.”
“I don’t like Maven Black-Briar sitting in a Jarl’s seat. Elisif said I should speak to The Imperial Ambassador about her. Elisif would prefer a Son of Talos by the name of Horik Strong-Hand. Before I forward his name to the ambassador, I want to know more about him and meet him in person.”
“Did he fight with us at The Battle for Whiterun?”
“No, he spent the civil war and New Order invasion as an advisor to General Tullius. Elisif said he fought beside your father during and after The Great War.”
“Then Felix should know him.”
“DUH! That is why I want you to ask Felix about Horik!”
“Can you feel my mental kick to the goolies?”
“Tomorrow, I will ride down the mountain with Olette.”
“Is that wise? She is a newcomer to riding.”
“Olette chose Idunn for her pony’s name. That means love in the old language. They are bonded, and Olette says Idunn looks after her. I don’t think she is in much danger. I will ask Nafaalilargus to scout for us.”
Rigmor and I spoke for several more hours, including my plans for Miraak, before we surrendered to sleep.
The following day, after breaking our fast, Vayu teleported to Solitude. He would teleport the guild members one by one to the dig site. I helped Wujeeta with the washing up while Olette spent the time riding Idunn.
I exited the lodge and then groomed and mounted Hashire. Several of the new horses were clustered together.
“Well, my hoofed friend, what do you think of The Dragonguard’s choices so far?”
“The stables in Skyrim are renowned for their excellent horses. They are all fine, if not as athletic as the wild steeds.”
“It takes skill to break in horses, and it can be risky. I don’t think any of my friends would be keen on a wild horse.”
“I think I will change to black colouring since I am still not allowed to be a unicorn.”
“You are a unicorn, so cut the crap.”
The horse owners came outside, mounted their new steeds and headed for the dig site.
Seconds later, Olette came galloping towards me, and Idunn missed a collision by inches as her hoofs dug into the snow and ice.
- Hashire: It seems, young ladies, that you have grown in confidence and competence at a surprising rate.
- Olette: Idunn got bored with the snail’s pace. The first time we galloped, I couldn’t stop laughing!
- Wulf: We shall take it easy and slow down the mountain, no matter how confident you feel.
- Olette: Party pooper!
- Wulf: You are like a mini Rigmor. You even use her weird colloquialisms.
- Olette: Cap’n, Rigmor’s sayings are cool. Yours are weird.
- Hashire: The honesty of the young is refreshing, don’t you think?
- Wulf: Okay, hold onto Idunn’s reins. I am about to summon Nafaalilargus, and he never lands with grace.
Nafaalilargus appeared out of the ether and thumped to the ground. The chickens squawked, and the goats bleated in protest. Grelod didn’t say a word.
- Nafaalilargus: Hello lunch, Olette and Dovahkiin.
- Hashire: Please stop calling me lunch!
- Nafaalilargus: Dovahkiin, are those tasty morsels on the road to Silverpeak Lodge, a gift for your loyal friend?
- Wulf: They belong to The Dragonguard riding them and are not to be touched.
- Olette: If you hurt Idunn, I will kick you so hard!
- Nafaalilargus: Relax, milady. I would not touch Idunn. She could kill me!
- Olette: How could my little horse kill you?
- Nafaalilargus: She could get stuck in my throat. Choking to death is not a pleasant experience, so I tend to avoid it.
- Hashire: Nafaalilargus’ humour is as bad as Wulf’s.
- Olette: That is not possible.
- Wulf: Nafaalilargus, will you please scout for us? We are riding down the mountain to visit the dig site.
- Nafaalilargus: I saw the eggheads setting up camp.
- Olette: Eggheads?
- Nafaalilargus: The archaeologists.
- Wulf: An egghead is a person who is very clever and interested only in studying and other mental activities.
- Hashire: The concept of thinking is foreign to the scaly one.
- Nafaalilargus: Yes, I am so stupid I forget where I saw the other unicorn.
- Wulf: We have heard rumours. Where did you see it?
- Nafaalilargus: Her name is Sune, and she is wandering around the forest near Lost Prospect Mine.
- Hashire: Sune is alive? I was sure Hircine’s hunters killed her!
- Nafalilargus: She was thrown forward in time by the Psijic Order. She didn’t know others of your kind were rescued till I told her. Is there a history between you two? Sune seemed underwhelmed when I mentioned your name.
- Hashire: I don’t know. Maybe I said something wrong several centuries ago?
- Nafalilargus: Hircine removed her ability to fly.
- Hashire: He does that with every unicorn. It makes us easier to hunt.
- Nafalilargus: Bastard!
- Hashire: Wulf, we must find her and bring her here!
- Wulf: We shall do so in a few days. Sune can look after herself, and I see no need to panic.
- Nafalilargus: She sensed my telepathic ability and came out of hiding to ask me questions. Otherwise, I would never have noticed her.
- Hashire: Thank you for telling us, Nafalilargus.
- Nafalilargus: Despite my jesting, Hashire, I think of you as a friend.
- Hashire: You do?
- Nafalilargus: Yes, a slightly gamy-tasting morsel of a friend.
- Hashire: Ahh…thanks….
- Nafalilargus: You are welcome.
Nafalilargus lifted off the ground with tremendous beats of his wings. Olette’s menagerie protested once more. His shadow dwarfed us as we started our ride.
The path from Silverpeak Lodge is steep and winding. Olette sported an ear-to-ear grin.
As we rode into the camp, I noticed several guild members couldn’t resist trying their luck with an exposed gold seam.
I stopped in front of Kyre, who was ticking off essential exploration items as Auryen called them out.
- Wulf: Where are The Dragonguard?
- Auryen: They are riding up and down the road a bit to check for bandits and other nasties.
- Kyre: Before you say anything, Guild Master, I will soon put on my armour.
- Wulf: I will visit tomorrow and see how things are.
- Olette: And I am going to camp with you!
- Auryen: There are no freeloaders in our camp, Lady Welkynd. You will be expected to help with some of the exciting work piled upon us.
- Olette: Such as?
- Auryen: There will be many buckets of debris that need searching for pottery and mosaic pieces. Then when we have a pile of those, they need further sorting. If you are lucky, you will find pieces of pottery that were once part of a complete object.
- Olette: That sounds riveting. Be still, poor heart!
- Auryen: I knew you would be excited. I was at your age, ahh, seven centuries ago.
- Olette: You are an old relic digging up ancient relics!
- Wulf: Manners, Olette!
- Olette: What? A title does not a lady make!
- Auryen: Lady Welkynd’s observation is witty and accurate.
- Wulf: It is time to head back, Olette.
When the diving platforms and poles came into view, Olette asked, “Cap’n, what are those blue lights?”
“I will show you. When we get home, change into that expensive swimming outfit we purchased from Radiant Rayment and wait in the large outdoor spa.”
As Olette headed inside to change, Nafalilargus landed with a thump on a shed roof.
“Thank you for scouting, Nafalilargus. You are free to go now, but I will need you later. I am heading to Solstheim to collect Miraak.”
“I like Silverpeak Lodge, Dovahkiin. But I miss the adoring crowds that would gather when I landed anywhere in Solitude.”
“You can always visit there without me.”
“That is true. I think I will go there now as I know the people miss me, and I should not extend their suffering.”
Nafalilargus lifted into the sky and headed towards Solitude with a mighty roar.
Hashire remarked, “Nafalilargus’ vanity is incomparable!”
I laughed loud and replied, “Hashire, a unicorn, just accused somebody else of being vain. Now that is amusing!”
I realised I did not own a swimming costume. I donned a pair of red boxer-type underpants instead.
I arrived at the tallest pole and floated to the diving platform.
I walked to the edge and whistled to get Olette’s attention.
She yelled, “Is your will up to date? What have you left me?”
I stepped off the platform and plunged rapidly towards the shallow water. Just as it looked like I would go splat, a blue light surrounded me, and I quickly slowed. I entered the water with barely a splash.
I laughed at Olette’s amazed expression.
“Well, how about that? I discovered something that stops Olette’s mouth from flapping. What a miracle!”
Olette crossed her arms and replied, “Okay, that was pretty cool, and Rigmor will love it.”
“Do you want to try it?”
“Can I use the middle platform first?”
“Okay, follow me.”
We climbed three flights of steps to reach the middle platform. Olette sat and watched as I jumped.
Then it was Olette’s turn, and she didn’t hesitate.
A blue nimbus surrounded her just before she splashed into the water.
I asked, “Well, was that fun?”
“Yeah. Does the magic work on animals? I am sure Sweet Roll will want to try this.”
“The dweomer works on any object speeding towards the water.”
“I want to try the highest jump, but there are so many steps!”
“That is why I made another Telvanni lift. It will take you to the top.”
I floated to the top, and Olette followed.
She watched as I used the highest platform.
Once again, Olette didn’t hesitate and soon joined me in the spa.
I told her, “Okay, that was fun, but I need to do something now. I will get Miraak and take him to the Safe House.”
“Will you be back for supper?”
“I will get changed and help Wujeeta clean the house and prepare the roast.”
“Today has been fun. It will be even more fun when other children stay with us.”
“And when Rigmor is here.”
“Yes, indeed. Rigmor has a way of making people relaxed.”
“Except for bards who play Ragnar the Red.”
I entered my bedroom and changed into my shiny, clean armour. Wujeeta hates mess, and her mortal enemies are dust bunnies. My armour has never been cleaner.
I gathered Meeko and then teleported to the foot of Miraak’s Temple’s steps. I summoned Nafalilargus, who passed overhead with a roar.
Nafalilargus growled, “Miraak, I am Nafalilargus. Order your followers to stand down. I shall turn them to ash if they cast a spell at me. Wulf will be here in mere seconds.”
As I looked down on Miraak’s camp, he ordered his two goons to stand down, and they did so.
I made my way to the expelled Dragon Priest.
Miraak remarked, “Your Dov servant is a decent size.”
“Nafalilargus is not my servant. He is a friend, although sometimes I have to issue orders as his superior officer. He has helped mortals defeat those who threaten us throughout the centuries.”
“These two siblings are the only ones of my followers who desire redemption. Hermaeus Mora whispered to the others and promised great knowledge to those who kill me. We disposed of several dozen within my temple and half as many who have attacked this camp.”
Nafalilargus warned, “Two idiots are coming up the steps.”
Meeko and I made short work of them, then returned to the camp.
Miraak’s followers had summoned Seekers.
I asked Miraak, “Can you summon your followers?”
“I am going to take you to my Safe House. It is connected to my museum in Solitude. You will have access to the large library and the scholars within the library. If you want to help me with my tasks, you need to study the history of Nirn after the Dragon War. Only then will you understand the political and religious factions of The Fourth Era.”
“Speaking to Rokzaam and Rekzaam had convinced me of that need. Tamrielic is different enough from the common language of my day to cause comprehension issues. They talk of things beyond my knowledge but apparently of importance.”
“There is another in the Safe House. He is called Captain Algren and is from a parallel timeline. He too needs to adjust to the reality of this timeline and will also use the museum’s resources.”
“Is Solitude a large city?”
“It is the largest in the province of Skyrim. It is home to our High Queen, embassies and military headquarters. Skyrim is a province of The Empire that an Emperor rules. However, to understand the current political climate, you must study the events that lead to the status quo.”
“Rokzaam and Rekzaam are welcome in this Safe House?”
“Do you vouch for them?”
“Yes. They are young and were influenced by friends to join my followers. You witnessed the depravity of those who claimed to follow me. I did not know of the torture and sacrifices. That is not what I had in mind.”
“The sin is theirs, not yours. I will teleport you to the Safe House now. Then you can summon Rokzaam and Rekzaam. Place your hand on my shoulder, Miraak.”
Nafalilargus asked, “Am I free to return to Solitude? When you summoned me, I was busy regaling my audience with stories of my incredible feats.”
“Yes, Nafalilargus, you can continue your tall tales.”
As Nafalilargus disappeared into the ether, Miraak placed his hand on my shoulder.
As soon as we arrived at the Safe House, Miraak summoned his followers.
I told them, “Upstairs in the bedrooms are cupboards full of clothing. It is best to regard your current outfits as things of your past that are not needed for the future.”
Miraak replied, “Yes, that is a logical beginning. Come, Rokzaam and Rekzaam.”
As they looked for clothes, I talked to Captain Algren. When Vayu had visited Sky Haven Temple to help train some Blade recruits, Captain Algren had asked to be taken elsewhere. He wanted to learn enough about this timeline to become a member of its Dragonguard. Vayu brought him to the Safe House.
I told him, “Captain, those three will also be staying here for some time. There are two Dunmer, and an Atmoran called Miraak. He is the first Dragonborn.”
“In my splinter, Saint Alessia was the first Dragonborn.”
“The definition of Dragonborn changed over time. When Lord Akatosh blessed Saint Alessia, her blood was imbued with special properties. She was the first mortal to have that blessing. She could not use The Voice. Miraak was the first mortal to be blessed by Akatosh and have their soul changed to that of a Dovah. He does not have dragon blood, so he would not be able to wear The Amulet of Kings or light The Dragonfires.”
“So, Miraak and Saint Alessia are both the first Dragonborn according to which definition you use.”
“Are you like my Dragonborn? Are you a Dragonchild?”
“Yes, so I am the third type of Dragonborn. I was born with Alduin’s blessings. They were not bestowed upon me later in life.”
“You said that Miraak is Atmoran. How old is he?”
“He was a Dragon Priest at the time of the Dragon War. That was over twenty-five centuries ago. He allied with Hermaeus Mora and has been unconscious in Apocrypha until recently. His story is complex, but I am sure he will share it with you.”
“Is he here to learn about Nirn as it is now?”
“Yes. The resources of my museum and access to Auryen will aid that endeavour.”
“I have been using the museum’s library and working backwards to the last date I recall. There are very few differences I can find. However, many minor things not noted in the tomes may be different.”
“Take as much time as needed, Captain Algren. Please tell us when you are ready to start travelling with us. Nobody has written a guide on how a soul from a time splinter can adjust to the real timeline.”
Captain Algren and I talked about several other matters as I waited for Miraak.
The first to appear in his new outfit was Rokzaam.
He exclaimed, “There was nothing in the wardrobes except silk robes!”
“They are called kimonos and come from Akavir. It is the preferred casual dress of myself and my friends.”
“I can understand why. This kimono is light and surprisingly warm.”
“Have a look around, Rokzaam. You are not restricted to this house and can wander around Solitude if you want.”
“Yes, I think Rekzaam and I will do that later.”
Rokzaam wandered off to look around the Safe House, and I walked over to Rekzaam.
She said, “I heard what you said to my brother. You are demonstrating a lot of trust in us.”
“Miraak vouched for you, so that is enough for me to give that trust.”
“Thank you for giving us a chance to redeem ourselves. We did not participate in the torture, sacrifices and cannibalism. However, we did not try and stop those things, so we are complicit and guilty due to our inaction.”
“A minor sin in the scheme of things. There would have been little you could do, and any protest may have been fatal.”
“Still, we both seek redemption.”
“And I hope you find it.”
Miraak came downstairs wearing a pure white kimono. He was talking to Meeko when I approached them.
- Miraak: This being said that his name is Meeko. What species is he?
- Wulf: I don’t know. He has been a lifelong companion of mine and occasionally changes his appearance, but he always looks like a dog. His soul is ancient and unlike any other that I have scanned.
- Miraak: Yes, you said you could read souls. That is why you initially trusted me.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Miraak: I am honoured that you also trust me, Meeko.
- Wulf: I will learn about how you fell into Hermaeus Mora’s clutches and your history in due course. What is of immediate importance is that you understand who and what I am. Then, as you learn the history of Nirn, specifically its politics and religions, you will understand who my enemies are and why.
- Miraak: That is a logical progression.
- Wulf: What happened to your eye?
- Miraak: Vahlok. Neither of us survived our encounter unscathed. I was only marginally closer to death than he.
- Wulf: I destroyed Vahlok a couple of days ago. Like many Dragon Priests, he was corrupted by Alduin and chose Lichdom over dying. He became leader of Solstheim after defeating you and, by all accounts, was well-liked by the populace.
- Miraak: Alduin promised great rewards. His ambition led to the destruction of a peaceful civilisation where mortal and Dov lived in harmony. He was the creator of chaos, and I lost all opposing him.
- Wulf: There are constant threats to Nirn and Mundus. Subsequently, many mortal heroes thwart the plans of Dark Lords and others. There is chaos aplenty, Miraak.
- Miraak: What is next?
- Wulf: We are going to visit my room in Aetherius. Place your hand on my shoulder.
- Miraak: Aetherius? At least I will visit there even if denied entry upon my death.
Miraak placed his hand on my shoulder, and I willed us to my Aetherius room. Meeko willed himself there. It is another of his abilities not taught by myself or The Divines.
A split second after materialising, Father appeared.
- Wulf: Father, is this coincidence or deliberate?
- Talos: Lord Akatosh sensed Miraak’s return to the mortal plane. I was going to visit on Nirn, but now you are here, it is an ideal opportunity.
- Wulf: You are here merely because of Miraak’s presence.
- Talos: Do not be petty, Son. I have yearned to speak to you, but the timelines have been dynamic, and I am aiding Jills as they work hard to prevent a Dragon Break.
- Wulf: Miraak, this is Lord Talos. He was once a mortal called several names, the most recent was Tiber Septim. He is one of The Nine Divines, the pantheon of gods worshipped by most citizens of The Empire. Lord Akatosh is a shard of AKA and is regarded as their leader. Other shards of AKA are the time gods of other pantheons.
- Miraak: And he is your father?
- Talos: Yes, Miraak, I am Wulf’s father. Let us sit and talk but first, place your swords in one of Wulf’s chests. You do not need them at the moment. When you need weapons, Wulf will provide new ones.
- Miraak: Like I shed my old clothes, I should abandon my old weapons. It will be done.
Miraak placed his swords in a chest, and then we sat around a table.
- Talos: This should be far enough to stop Miraak’s discomfort.
- Wulf: Miraak, a Divine’s proximity often causes mortals discomfort.
- Miraak: Yes, I am at ease now we are further apart.
- Wulf: Because of your dragon soul, you can survive in Aetherius. The Life Force of other mortals is slowly drained, and death is inevitable if they tarry here too long.
- Miraak: Yet they can live forever in Oblivion.
- Talos: The force known as Creatia is the reason. Some of it seeps from Aetherius into Oblivion. The Dark Lords could not alter and create things without this small amount of Creatia. However, its concentration in Oblivion is minimal. Therefore mortals can live unharmed within that plane. You feel queasy near me because of the concentration of Creatia surrounding me. In time, you would become used to it.
- Miraak: Wulf, why did you bring me here?
- Wulf: As I indicated, I want you to understand who I am. I also wanted you to experience Aetherius. No realm of Oblivion will provide the same sense of peace and belonging. There is also a chance that Hermaeus Mora placed scrying dweomer upon you. If so, he can’t see through it whilst we are in Aetherius.
- Miraak: A wise precaution. He had thousands of years to do what he wanted whilst I was in stasis.
- Talos: Miraak, Lord Akatosh is pleased that Wulf has shown compassion towards his first blessed. Wulf recognised the same traits that your celestial father did. Lord Akatosh did not choose a random mortal to receive his gifts. He had faith in you then and still does.
- Wulf: Another Dragonborn could be used to create confusion and doubt amongst our enemies.
- Talos: Yes, I can envision how to utilise Miraak for such tactics.
- Miraak: And who are our enemies?
- Wulf: Learn the histories first. If I provide you names now, they will be meaningless without context. There is one eternal enemy of all mortals that we must monitor. Molag Bal is that enemy.
- Talos: The Dark Lords cannot see into Aetherius, and we cannot see into Oblivion. Molag Bal and other Dark Lords have caused chaos in the past because we have had to react to a plan in action rather than one known beforehand.
- Wulf: Father, the one group of people that may unknowingly stumble upon such plans, is The Vigilants of Stendarr. However, I have little faith in them due to their mindless harassment of innocent Daedric worshippers whilst known dens of vampires and necromancers are left unmolested.
- Talos: They are not a martial order any more. In the past, they could attack and eliminate such dens. Their current pacifistic nature has alienated some members. The disgruntled members have broken from the order and are attempting to rebirth another called The Dawnguard.
- Wulf: Do you think The Vigilants can be a helpful resource?
- Talos: Lord Stendarr tries to direct them via senior members who want to uphold his ideals. Unfortunately, most Vigilants are fixated on the impossible, unneeded and unwanted task of eliminating all Daedric worship. In doing so, they do not obey Lord Stendarr’s commandment or dogma. I would talk to their senior members. They are, as you suggested, aware of much Daedric-related activity. You may end up investigating inconsequential activity, but if you find threatening plans of a Dark Lord, you could save countless lives.
- Miraak: My followers deviated from what I taught. I wish to fight chaos, but they added to it.
- Talos: That is not an unusual occurrence.
- Wulf: Will Silah be free to travel with me?
- Talos: Yes, Son, as long as the other Jills do not need her. She is the best at finding ways of avoiding Dragon Breaks. Thanks to you, she has been swamped.
- Miraak: Lord Talos, you are a god but not of the et-Ada?
- Talos: I am a mortal who obtained ascension, as did Wulf’s mother. I highly recommend you learn a bit of history before asking about her.
- Miraak: Were you a prominent citizen?
- Wulf: Father united Tamriel’s countries under one banner, that of The Imperial Empire. The Empire still exists but is a shadow of what it once was. It is still a mighty military and economic force. It would still be as powerful as Father made it if we had been blessed with wiser leaders.
- Talos: We are displaying tremendous trust with this information, Miraak. Few people know of Wulf’s parentage, which should not be discussed outside this room. He is the rightful heir to The Ruby Throne, but that is not a desirable promotion at this moment. There are those, mortal and otherwise, who would kill Wulf simply for being a Septim. More would want him dead if they knew he was my son.
- Wulf: I use the name Wulf Welkynd instead of Valdr Septim to avoid attracting enemies.
- Miraak: The Daedric Princes can no longer walk on Nirn. That is what my followers told me.
- Wulf: Mother was tired of Dark Lords wreaking havoc on Nirn. They could physically manifest here, but the gods who sacrificed so much to create our home could never do so. Consequently, those who once worshipped Aedra rejected them for the Daedra. Lord Akatosh sympathised with the plight of the mortals he loved, so he created the Liminal Barrier. No longer could the Daedric Princes walk on Nirn. Most of the schemes of Molag Bal, Boethia and some other Dark Lords have the end goal of circumventing the Liminal Barrier. If a Daedric Prince could do so, they would be unopposed by any other god within this mortal realm. The schemes are usually discovered at their later stages, and then mortal champions scramble to stop them. There have been close calls. Lord Akatosh’s avatar fought Mehrunes Dagon inside The Imperial City, where the White-Gold Tower is when that Dark Lord manifested on Nirn. I recently stopped another god who was one sacrifice away from crossing into the mortal realm. I saved the sacrifice while she lay on an altar, only seconds from acolytes taking her life.
- Miraak: The sooner I study the histories, the sooner I can provide aid.
- Talos: Miraak, have a look through the windows of this room. See the beauty of Aetherius and listen to the songs of the stars. Remind yourself of the love that Lord Akatosh has for you.
We all stood then Father moved to the Staff Enchanter. He gave me a subtle sign he wanted me to follow him. We got pretty good at silent signals when at home. We needed to be skilful to get plans past Mother.
Father leant on the Staff Enchanter, and I no longer saw a god. I saw a mortal father and husband with a mixture of worry and anger on his face. I thought he would cry.
I asked, “Is there something wrong, Father?”
“The others are being too conservative in their reading of the timelines. They think it is too early to declare Morag Bal as the catalyst for the potential disaster ahead. I disagree and urge you to do what you can to weaken his influence on Nirn.”
“Is this request driven by Mother’s plight?”
“Yes and no. I think Molag Bal is the catalyst, whether by design or accident. But I cannot deny that any actions you take against him may weaken him and give Alessia a better chance of winning. Is it wrong I worry for her and wish to aid her?”
“It is not wrong. On the contrary, it warms my heart to see the mortal that raised me has come to the fore. I love the god called Talos. I love the mortal named Hjalti Early-Beard. Both are needed by not just me but all the people of Nirn. Your love for Mother is eternal and your concern natural.”
Father hugged me tight, and I felt the comfort that Olette gets from me. One day, I shall be held by Mother once more.
Miraak saw the hug, and he smiled.
Father stepped back and said, “Duty calls, Son. You have done well not to ask the questions that plague you. Always remember The Nine are with you and love you.”
Father vanished, and I walked over to Miraak.
He said, “My father was a blacksmith. My mother was a midwife. They were essential to the community that relied so much on their skills. I wonder if my life would have been more fulfilling if I had taken up my father’s trade.
I chose to serve the dragons. Earning their respect became an obsession. When a Dovah praised me, my pride was immense. Then Alduin changed the balance. Mortals were no longer partners in the world but enslaved servants. We used to serve the dragons out of reverence voluntarily. Then we were forced to serve them out of fear. Dragons reverted to their base wants of conquest and domination. Where once they politely asked, they now demanded. Once respected as leaders with mortal wellbeing paramount, Dragon Priests became enforcers who cared more for their Dov masters’ comfort.
The Dragon War was inevitable. I could not see how mortals could win, despite the valour of the Tongues. Hermaeus Mora offered a solution. Enslave the enslavers. Make them serve us. It seemed a sound plan, so I became his ally. Vahlok was one of the last Dragon Priests who cared for mortals more than Dov. However, he listened to the lies that I was revolting against the dragons for personal gain. He would not listen to my explanation and proved a powerful opponent.
Thus, I ended up in Apocrypha. To my dismay, Hermaeus Mora mimicked the Dov with his disdain for mortal free will. He put me in stasis when I continually refused to be his puppet on Nirn. He should have killed me then, but Mora knew Alduin was not gone forever. When Alduin returned, Mora awakened me and gave me what he thought I needed to combat The World Eater. I finally received the promised knowledge and could bend the will of mortal and Dov.
I doubted you could defeat Alduin. I was sure that my plan was the only way to defeat him. You became an obstacle.
Twice I dismissed the abilities of others to deal with Alduin. Twice I refused to offer aid to those combating him. Twice I was proven wrong.
Watching the interaction between you and Lord Talos reminded me of the love the Aedra once displayed towards me. I was proud to be chosen for Lord Akatosh’s blessing. I lost sight of all that when Hermaeus Mora offered a solution to Alduin while the Aedra remained silent.
I am sure that when I study the histories, I will discover my story is not unique. But I want the happy ending where my name is not reviled, and I can enjoy an afterlife in Aetherius.”
“Then let’s continue your journey towards redemption. Now we will visit High Hrothgar.”
“Sahrotaar, Relonikiv and Kruziikrel have provided some of Nirn’s history. They told me the story of Jurgen Windcaller and how The Greybeards came to be. Do you agree with their philosophy?”
“Not at all. The Thu’um is a weapon given to us to use as a weapon. Kyne, or the modern interpretation called Kynareth, does not want mortals spending their lives praising her. The Nine Divines have ten commandments that should be followed. That is the correct way of worshipping them. The Greybeards provided no aid at all and wasted my time. They contribute nothing to society and rely on the generosity of those who revere them, without ever meeting them.”
“Then why are we visiting High Hrothgar?”
“When you absorbed Krosulhah’s soul outside Nchardak, The Greybeards would have become aware of your existence. Even though I disagree with their Way of the Voice mumbo jumbo, it is only right that we ease any concerns they have by introducing you.”
“Is their Thu’um powerful?”
“There are four mortal Greybeards. I have no doubt they could destroy Nirn with their combined strength.”
“And their leader is Paarthurnax?”
“Yes, the second born Dov. He has used The Way of the Voice to control his base instincts. He killed hundreds of thousands of mortals, yet he saved far more when he taught The Voice to the Tongues. He is now my ally, as is his replacement, Odahviing. Paarthurnax is slowly increasing the number of Dov who follow Windcaller’s teachings. Most Dov are content to leave mortals alone as long as they can fly the skies of Tamriel and hunt the wildlife. At first, many Dov challenged me, but it has been some time since one was foolish enough to do so. Krosulhah knew it was futile to fight me, yet your control drove him to do so.”
“He was the first and only Dov on Nirn that I controlled via the stones. The three with me in Apocrypha were lured there by Hermaeus Mora. Then I enslaved them.”
“The Divines had a shrine to my father, and Lady Kynareth created within High Hrothgar. You can witness how Lady Kynareth teaches me new Shouts and Words of Power there. Perhaps one day, she will agree to teach you the same way.”
“I think The Divines will have to be convinced I am loyal before that occurs.”
“After the shrine, we shall visit Paarthurnax at the summit of The Throat of the World. There will be many Dov there. Some will be his acolytes while others just enjoy the thermals of the mountain.”
“I think the ancient one will have judged me harshly.”
“If so, we shall politely teach him the truth.”
Miraak went to place his hand on my shoulder.
“There is no need, Miraak. I know you well enough to teleport you without a physical connection.”
I teleported us inside the entrance of High Hrothgar.
Miraak exclaimed, “The best magi of my time could not do that in so short a time of meeting somebody!”
“I think there were plenty of mages capable of it among the Ayleid. Knowledge of Magicka grows and wanes through the ages.”
“This place looks bleak.”
“If you like grey, it is quite picturesque. Only one Greybeard can speak to us. The other three fear shaking High Hrothgar to pieces even when they do not use a Shout.”
Arngeir was meditating. We waited till he had finished before approaching.
Eventually, he stood and greeted me.
- Arngeir: Welcome, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: Drem yol lok, Master Arngeir.
- Arngeir: What is the purpose of your visit?
- Wulf: Have The Greybeards detected any anomalies lately?
- Arngeir: Yes. A few days ago, a dragon’s soul was absorbed. We believe that occurred on the island of Solstheim. However, the vibrations upon Kyne’s winds were unfamiliar. They did not match those that occur when you absorb a soul.
- Wulf: Why do you think that occurred?
- Arngeir: Our only logical solution was that another Dragonborn exists. But that is absurd!
Miraak moved next to Arngeir.
- Wulf: Master Arngeir, this is Miraak. He is the first Dragonborn.
- Arngeir: Saint Alessia was the first Dragonborn!
- Wulf: She was the first mortal whose blood was changed when Lord Akatosh blessed her. Miraak is the first mortal whose soul was changed by Lord Akatosh’s blessing.
- Arngeir: Do you seek training in The Voice, Miraak?
- Miraak: No, Master Arngeir. Wulf thought it best we visit and explain my existence.
- Arngeir: We were concerned and perplexed, so thank you, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: The Explorers Society is currently excavating Windcaller Pass. As Guild Master, I have decreed that any relics of Jurgen Windcaller will be handed to The Greybeards.
- Arngeir: There may very well be relics of our founder in the collapsed tunnels. I thank you once again for your consideration.
- Wulf: We might not see eye to eye, Master Arngeir, but I hold no hatred for your order, and common courtesy costs nothing.
- Arngeir: Miraak, is there a reason we have no record of you in our histories?
- Wulf: I can answer that. Nords revere Dragonborn. Miraak did not fit the idealistic view of what a Dragonborn should be, so he was conveniently ignored by historians.
- Miraak: I was blessed by Lord Akatosh during the Merethic Era, which was long before your order existed. That would also explain my absence from your written histories.
- Wulf: Skaal oral histories mention Miraak. However, I will tell you Miraak’s story later, Master Arngeir. Right now, Miraak and I will visit Kyne’s temple and then Paarthurnax.
- Arngeir: Breath and focus, Dragonborn and Miraak.
- Wulf: Blessings of The Nine, Master Arngeir.
We made our way to the entrance of Kyne’s temple.
“This door will only open for me. I am unsure as to how the dweomer works. Other locks are attuned to my blood which carries the same blessing as Saint Alessia’s.”
“What was the purpose of the blessing?”
“To sustain the Liminal Barrier, Dragonfires had to be maintained. Only those mortals related to Saint Alessia could do so. That bloodline became a prerequisite for a person to be Emperor or Empress. Much more is involved with Alessia’s bloodline and the founding of The Empire. It is well documented in the histories.”
We entered the temple, and I showed Miraak my father’s statue and shrine.
“This is a common depiction of my father. He was a general, and there were few better in history. He was as much a statesman as he was a warrior. His Thu’um was stronger than mine, but an assassination attempt ruined his throat, and he could no longer use Shouts.”
“How did he become a god?”
“There are many theories. It is a taboo subject, and Father refuses to discuss it. Other mortals became gods, but the Aedra or Daedra did not accept them. The original eight Divines have accepted Father as an equal. Saint Alessia became a god when Lord Akatosh raised her to that status.”
“Who is represented on the bass relief behind the statue?”
“Alduin. The two daggers represent the ancient Nord belief of Akatosh’s duality. Akatosh and Alduin are the same entity in their pantheon. In a sense, they are, as they are all shards of AKA. That includes Auri-El, the Mer time god.”
We made our way to Kyne’s shrine.
Miraak asked, “Why do you use Kyne and Kynareth interchangeably?”
“Some regard them as separate gods. I do not. When Saint Alessia created the pantheon of The Eight Divines, she combined elements of the ancient Nord pantheon and those of various Mer races. Many gods are common among two or more pantheons. They are the same entity depicted in different ways and names.”
“And you believe that is the case with Kyne and Kynareth?”
“Did Saint Alessia create this pantheon for political purposes?”
“Yes. It was designed to reconcile some of the different religious beliefs between Man and Mer. Watch and see how Lady Kynareth aids me by departing knowledge of The Voice.”
I knelt on the mat before Lady Kynareth and opened my mind to her.
The strange green glow emanated from that statue and surrounding candles.
After a few seconds, the light returned to normal as I stood and walked to Miraak.
I explained, “Lady Kynareth just taught me three new Shouts and several new Words of Power.”
“Hermaeus Mora thought I owed him my soul for less knowledge.”
“You are free of him, Miraak. Please show reverence for Paarthurnax, for he deserves it. While you were in stasis, Paarthurnax kept a lone watch for Alduin’s return. Are you ready to meet him?”
“I am ready, Wulf.”
We teleported to the summit.
As we walked the short distance to Paarthurnax, Dov flew overhead.
I told Miraak, “The large red dragon is Odahviing. The other is Gaafkrokulaan.”
Another dragon came into view.
“And that one is Hevnofokriid.”
We stood before Paarthurnax, who stared at Miraak.
- Paarthurnax: Drem yol lok, Dovahkiin. Tell me why you stand beside a traitor and coward. Is this to test my adherence to The Way of the Voice?
- Wulf: Greetings, Paarthurnax. I am surprised you recognise Miraak.
- Paarthurnax: His likeness was distributed amongst those opposed to Alduin. He was to be killed on sight. I am wondering if I am still required to obey Kyne’s command.
- Wulf: The Nine welcomed Miraak’s return, for he was neither a coward nor a traitor.
- Paarthurnax: Then tell me, Miraak, what were you?
- Miraak: Three other Dragon Priests and I had a plan on how to defeat Alduin. I thought we had a better chance of success than the Tongues. I did not fight mortals but was a turncoat, as you were. I risked all to carry out my plan, and my disloyalty to Alduin cost me dearly. If anything, I am guilty of underestimating the Tongues.
- Paarthurnax: Your followers attacked The Dovahkiin!
- Miraak: I rebelled against Hermaeus Mora, once again risking all to fight Alduin and chaos on Nirn as first instructed by Lord Akatosh. As with the Tongues, I underestimated Wulf’s ability to defeat Alduin and saw him as a hindrance. I was in Oblivion and had no guidance from our gods. Nothing I did was for vanity or self-gratification.
- Paarthurnax: Dovahkiin, are you providing Miraak with a chance for redemption?
- Wulf: Miraak feels a need for redemption. His actions, although for altruistic reasons, did endanger all mortals. The histories misrepresent him, and through his future actions, they will prove to be suppositions, not facts, written by lazy scholars. Of all beings on Nirn, you should understand how a biased portrayal leaves a stain on your soul. He will assist me and may prove crucial if things The Nine predict occur.
- Paarthurnax: Miraak, I accept you as an ally and will aid you if asked.
- Miraak: I am honoured, Paarthurnax.
- Paarthurnax: Dovahkiin, I have been informed that your Explorers Society is excavating Windcaller Pass.
- Wulf: Yes, and I have informed Arngeir that any relics of Jurgen Windcaller will be given to The Greybeards.
- Paarthurnax: After how they treated you and your disdain for The Way of the Voice, that is a surprising commitment.
- Wulf: I wouldn’t call it disdain. I disagree with its tenets. Undoubtedly, The Greybeards are dedicated and practice their beliefs with unwavering certainty of purpose. They deserve to be custodians of Windcaller’s relics. I might need their help in the future. Perhaps one day, they may decide to stop being hermits and help in a time of crisis.
- Paarthurnax: The crisis The Nine predict?
- Wulf: Precisely. The exact nature and cause of a bleak outcome are not known.
- Paarthurnax: But you will be expected to save us all once more.
- Wulf: Rigmor and I must do something to save us all. I doubt we can do it by ourselves.
- Paarthurnax: Silah has discussed this with me. Her knowledge of time is far superior to mine. If what they fear comes to pass, every being of all races, religions and nations would be wise to aid your endeavours. Alas, selfishness and fanaticism are by-products of free will.
- Wulf: It is all conjecture. If and when the crisis happens, we will formulate strategies. Till then, we must deal with problems occurring now.
- Miraak: And I want to aid Wulf and whoever his allies are.
- Paarthurnax: Learn the histories, Miraak. Understand the nations, religions and races. Is that the task Wulf has set you?
- Miraak: Yes.
- Paarthurnax: Then I suggest you demand whatever resources are needed for you to accomplish that task.
- Wulf: I must bid you farewell, for now, Paarthurnax.
- Paarthurnax: Dovahkiin, I would like it if you brought Olette to tinvaak with me. Silah says she is a remarkably astute child who is not afraid of expressing how things are.
- Wulf: I will ask her if she is willing.
- Paarthurnax: It would also be pleasant to tinvaak with Rigmor.
- Wulf: Yes, perhaps invite Silah and swap gossip?
Paarthurnax laughed as Silah hovered overhead.
- Silah: I have excellent hearing, Wulf. My life does not revolve around gossip!
- Wulf: Hello, pretty dragon. You look familiar. May I ask, what is your name?
- Silah: Very droll, Wulf.
- Miraak: Hello, Silah.
- Silah: Greetings, Miraak. Lord Akatosh was delighted when you appeared back in the mortal plane. Do not disappoint him!
- Miraak: Silah was witness to Lord Akatosh blessing me. I had no idea what language they spoke or the meaning of some actions.
- Wulf: Gobblygook, Silah?
- Silah: Mumbo jumbo.
- Wulf: Isn’t your presence here a cause of friction amongst the males?
- Silah: It was but no longer. All have failed in a mating flight and accepted their fate.
- Wulf: Even Nafaalilargus?
- Silah: I have not let him try, and he might not fail. It depends on how obnoxious he is.
- Miraak: Do Dov mate?
- Silah: Yes, of course, we do but not above the cities we shared with mortals. There may have been children watching!
- Miraak: When I read the histories, they will be less confusing than what Wulf has shown me. I hope!
- Wulf: On that note, we will say goodbye for now.
- Silah: I will be able to travel with you, for now, Wulf. That is until you cause multiple junctions and potential Dragon Breaks.
- Wulf: I don’t think you should blame me for that, you scaly gossiping gasbag!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Why do you always side with Silah?
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Being beautiful does not influence the correctness of your actions.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Yes, I concede that being beautiful may influence how others perceive your actions. Now stop looking so smug.
I teleported us to the Safe House.
“Miraak, the Chief Librarian of my museum is not in attendance. He will be at a dig site for a few days. His name is Auryen, and he is the most knowledgeable person across many topics, including history, that I know. Peruse the books in the museum’s library. You will find the catalogue excellent and cross-referenced. Wandering the streets of Solitude will make you aware of current concerns, but they will be meaningless without context. I will aid you where I can, but I suspect once I enter the field once more, I will be reactive and not proactive.”
“Who were the people accompanying you at Nchardak?”
“My friends who are part of a military order called The Dragonguard. A Telvanni Wizard Lord was also with us.”
“Do The Dragonguard always accompany you?”
“Most of the time. There are some places where I need to travel alone. There are some places I am not willing to risk their lives.”
“How does one become a member of The Dragonguard?”
“At the moment, entry into the order is at the discretion of Vayu, our shaman and Grandmaster. He must deem a candidate worthy. My small band of a few dozen Dragonguard have defeated armies of thousands. We combine Shouts, spells and martial skills into a formidable offensive force.”
“I would have to demonstrate my worth to Vayu. How can I do that if you only travel with those already in The Dragonguard?”
“I will take you with me when I deem the task suitable. I will prepare new weapons and armour for you. When you become Dragonguard, you will be presented with their standard armour.”
“You are confident that Vayu will find me worthy?”
“I have no doubt, Miraak. While here, you may sleep in any of the single beds. The main bedroom is for my use only.”
“But you are not staying here?”
“No, I have many houses, but we have recently moved into my new estate. It is not far below High Hrothgar on The Throat of the World.”
“It has been an interesting day, Wulf. I have much to think about.”
“Blessings of The Nine, Miraak. We shall talk again soon.”
I teleported into Silverpeak Lodge’s living area.
I sat and ate supper with Wujeeta and Olette, then wandered around and chatted with my friends.
I had a shower and then retired to my room.
I lay in bed and spoke to Rigmor.
“I have finally stopped after a hectic day, my beloved.”
“What are you planning to do tomorrow?”
“Visit the dig site and see if they need assistance. I assume there will be short bouts of exploration between long bouts of digging. The tunnel system collapsed when The Greybeards summoned Father.”
“You will not help with the digging?”
“No, because I have a list of things I have been wanting to attend to.”
“Hunt for a unicorn. See if I can find a Blade hiding somewhere near Old Hroldan Inn. Check out a spirit we encountered in the sewers of Riften. I might even get around to taking the Dwemer Lexicon to Avanchnzel.”
“A Dwemer ruin! You must be thrilled.”
“Don’t forget you are expected to visit the Jarls.”
“I hate people praising me for doing what is right.”
“You might gain some good candidates for The Dragonguard.”
“Yes, there is that. Oh, I spoke to Father.”
“Go on. You can’t leave it at that!”
“He appeared in my Aetherius Room when I took Miraak there.”
“Did he know about Miraak? What was his reaction?”
“Yes, he knew all about Miraak. He said Lord Akatosh was pleased I spared Miraak. The Nine knew the circumstances of Miraak’s fall from grace and were very forgiving.”
“As you have said before, when they gave mortals free will, they accepted the good and bad that resulted.”
“Father took me aside for a private talk. He was on the verge of weeping with worry about Mother. He was not Talos, the god but my mortal Father. He said he is convinced Molag Bal is the catalyst for the crisis, and I should do what I can to weaken him.”
“The Vigilants then?”
“Yes. Father said their senior members are more practical than their rank and file. They may have information on suspected Daedric Prince activity.”
“You can’t just concentrate on Molag Bal.”
“No, I will have to investigate any lead they give me.”
“Did you take Miraak to High Hrothgar?”
“Yes, and I had a friendly conversation with Arngeir.”
“Did you fall off Hashire and bang your head?”
“Ha de haha. Anyway, after that, we visited Paarthurnax. Initially, he was livid with Miraak. I think he was close to violence. It would have been a shame if he attacked.”
“Yes, after he has worked so hard not to be impulsively violent.”
“We explained things to Paarthurnax, and all was well by the end of our tinvaak. The old dragon wants Olette to visit. Silah told Paarthurnax that Olette is a good conversationalist.”
“She is forthright in expressing her opinion and ripping apart poor logic.”
“Which is what I think appeals to Paarthurnax.”
“Any other news?”
“Ko’rassa and Inigo are spending a few days in Severin Manor.”
“Oh, Baa’Ren-Dar is coming to visit next week!”
“Any particular reason?”
“No, he likes to check on his daughter now and then.”
“He should have adopted you. I wonder why he didn’t.”
“He must have figured out I named my horse after him.”
As with the night before, Rigmor and I spoke till one of us fell asleep. I can’t remember which one of us succumbed first.