Tirdas, 11th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
to Fredas, 14th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
On Tirdas morning, I visited The Temple of The Divines in Solitude and spoke to Priestesses Frier and Silana. When I left, both were weeping. What The Thalmor did was beyond any previous barbarity they had inflicted in Skyrim.
I then spent a few hours discussing the demise of the Silver-Blood brothers and associated problems with Jarl Igmund and his advisors in Markarth. I think the transition from private to publicly owned assets will go smoothly as Igmund has competent people around him.
As we were going through the Silver-Blood paperwork, my mood darkened when I saw they had purchased a building hosting an orphanage. They had evicted the children and governess and turned the building into an expensive house which sold for a hefty profit. The governess and children moved to a farm in High Rock which a wealthy landlord donated to them. At least some people remember that charity is expected of those who follow The Nine.
Rigmor, Olette, Felix, Inigo and I spent the rest of Tirdas, then Middas and Turdas as tourists. We quickly looked around Markarth. Then we visited Windhelm, Falkreath, Whiterun and Winterhold. Much of our time was spent discussing the history and importance of some buildings and monuments. We did catch a murderer in Windhelm, but that didn’t take long. I was made Thane in each Hold except Winterhold, as Jarl Kraldar was in Cyrodiil visiting family.
Poverty was evident in each city. The lack of a cohesive, Skyrim-wide charity to aid impoverished families was unacceptable to me. Individual temples of The Nine try, but there is no central place for donations to be collected. There was no organised way for non-profit business endeavours to contribute to charity. I found a solution, or the start of one, which I shall describe later.
As we travelled, we rescued six children from the streets. They have moved into Silverpeak Lodge and already act as a family and treat Olette as their big sister, even though some are the same age, if not a bit older.
D’Usha’s parents were both sailors who were lost at sea several months ago. The Argonian in Windhelm’s Grey Quarter look after orphans as best they can, but they also have to contend with substandard living conditions. Jarl Brunwulf Free-Winter is working towards improving things, but the neglect of decades is not so easily reversed. After talking to Olette and various adults, D’Usha decided he would like to live with us. Like all the children I take into Silverpeak Lodge, he can be adopted if somebody suitable wants to do so.
The children wanted furs as they spent considerable time outside playing and doing chores. The girls chose fur-lined dresses of a type popular with nobles. D’Usha chose a Skaal outfit as, being Argonian, he is far more stressed by the cold than the others.
Wren Forestbrook was a dishevelled, starving, dirt-caked bundle of misery shivering inside one of the derelict buildings in Winterhold. All of us cried when we found her.
Wren’s parents were hunters and fell victim to something or somebody out in the white wastelands of Skyrim several months ago. Korir was the Jarl of Winterhold at the time and was renowned for his anti-Mer sentiments. Wren was thrown into the streets when the rent on her parent’s humble abode was in arrears. No temple exists to any of The Nine in that once thriving city. Korir and his predecessors did little rebuilding after The Great Collapse. They spent their time blaming The College of Winterhold, and its population of Mer mages, for that catastrophe. Jarl Kraldar does not blame the mages and is determined to rebuild Winterhold. However, like Jarl Brunwulf Free-Winter in Windhelm, it will take time to reverse the neglect.
A few days of compassion and empathy have transformed Wren. She is no longer a scared, hungry, lonely little girl but a child full of wonder and curiosity. I think she is Olette’s favourite.
Lucia Turello had been noticed by Rigmor a while ago, begging on the streets of Whiterun. She was still doing so when we approached her.
Lucia was born in Anvil. Her parents, Pelor and Sidrie, were farmers there. Her parent’s inherited a much larger farm in Whiterun and moved to Skyrim when Lucia was a toddler. Their old farm in Anvil was gifted to Pelor’s brother and his wife.
For no other reason than he was Imperial, Stormcloaks killed Pelor early in the civil war. Sidrie toiled hard to keep the farm running with the aid of her sister, Vicella, and Vicella’s Nord husband, Fenrrod Crow. Then Sidrie became a victim of Ataxia. It is a common disease that is easily cured in many people, often via prayer at a shrine of The Nine. On rare occasions, nothing cures Ataxia. Even with the best care from Priestess Danica Pure-Spring and others in Whiterun’s Temple of Kynareth, the disease took its slow and painful toll on Sidrie. She suffered many bone fractures before succumbing to the disease four months ago.
Lucia said that her aunt, Vicella, was bitter that the farm in Anvil was not gifted to her by Sidrie and Pelor. According to Lucia, Fenrrod always said he wouldn’t move to Anvil, so it was a senseless complaint. Within a week of Sidrie’s death, Lucia’s aunt and uncle claimed the farm as theirs and forced Lucia to leave. The Temple of Kynareth in Whiterun concerns itself with healing and has little money or resources for other charitable work. Lucia ended up begging and sleeping on a bedroll inside The Bannered Mare.
Lucia was too young to understand inheritance laws and frightened to approach Jarl Balgruuf. I am having the records checked, and if Sidrie died intestate, then the farm belongs to Lucia. If there was a will leaving it to her aunt, the wording might make it conditional that Lucia remains on the farm. After knowing their legal status, I will deal with her aunt and uncle.
Another child Rigmor remembered was Sofie Stonearm from Windhelm. We found her selling flowers near the gate to the docks. Aventus Aretino was sent to Honourhall Orphanage by Ulfric, and his parent’s house was locked until he came of age. He was treated somewhat charitably since he was a legal landowner of Windhelm. Sofie’s mother died when she was a toddler. Her father, Matred, was a Windhelm Guard and then a Stormcloak. So Sofie grew up in rental property paid out of her father’s wages. I have met other destitute Stormcloaks who were discarded by Ulfric when they could no longer fight for his cause. When Sofie’s father died in battle, she was discarded and forced onto the streets.
It wasn’t just children of Stormcloaks who were poorly treated. Olette wanted to help Blaise Manille, who lived at Katla’s Farm, just outside Solitude.
Blaise’s parents were both Legionnaires killed in a Stormcloak ambush near Kynesgrove. Katla and her husband fed and clothed the orphaned child, but he had to work as a farmhand and sleep in the stables. There was plenty of room in Katla’s house, and her son, Knud, was always well dressed, lived in relative luxury and did little work.
Katla was incensed when I suggested that she was heartless and morally corrupt. She was using Blaise as cheap labour, plus pocketing the pension orphans of Legionnaires receive, and I meant every word I said to her.
In the past, Olette had failed to convince Blaise to move into Kinghall Orphanage. However, he eagerly accepted our invitation to live at Silverpeak Lodge. His pension money will be placed into an account until he comes of age. It will be a sizeable amount by then.
Blaise likes to work with animals and was excited when introduced to Olette’s menagerie.
Jens Anes was the last orphan I was willing to house at Silverpeak Lodge. His parents were Reachmen and miners. They died in a rockfall within one of the Silver-Blood mines. He lived in the Markarth orphanage until the Silver-Bloods shut it down. Jens regarded Skyrim as his home and refused to relocate to High Rock. We found him living in The Warrens, where many orphans and impoverished families are located.
I had to decide on a limit to the number of children we would have at Silverpeak Lodge. If I didn’t, we could have ended up with dozens. Six was a reasonable number, but a small percentage of those living rough.
Honourhall and Kinghall orphanages house dozens of children, but that is not enough. I need to remind the people of Skyrim that we are supposed to live by The Ten Commands of The Nine Divines. Like my parents taught me, I must teach people through actions and examples, not just words. As I mentioned, a solution has presented itself, and I shall describe it in due course.
The children all wanted to learn how to defend themselves. That was understandable, given their backgrounds. Therefore, I made them wooden practice swords. They might be gifted real weapons when they have proven sensible and capable.
As I said, the children became a family in days. It didn’t matter their race or how their parents died. They all shared a similar loss and now a sense of belonging. Olette asked me to provide her with a bed near them, and she no longer sleeps in the adult area.
Each position of Thane involved the purchase of a house and the appointment of a housecarl. I have hired two stewards for each house not inside city walls. I shall detail them later, so future historians, don’t panic, for I will inundate you with names and details!
Morthal was the last hold to visit, and I gathered Rigmor, Felix, Olette and Lydia for the trip. Inigo had volunteered to look after the children with Wujeeta. He was popular with the orphans, who often laughed with him. I will need to hire a tutor for them and Olette.
I warned the group that Jarl Idgrod was, to be polite, a bit odd. Lots of people have foresight, including Rigmor and me, for instance. Few people insist their visions foretell a definite future. Jarl Idgrod does, which makes her seem indifferent to many crises as she believes she knows how they will end. She doesn’t, and I guarantee she did not foresee Sorli the Builder usurping her! Even Mother, regarded as one of the greatest seers in history, only made predictions, not proclamations.
We teleported to the entrance of Morthal, which startled some guards and locals.
We made our way to Highmoon Hall, aware of many eyes upon us. The people of Morthal are very wary of magic, and having a slightly odd Jarl adds to their unease.
We entered and approached the throne, listening to a conversation as we did so.
- Gorm: How are you feeling, Jarl Idgrod?
- Idgrod: The visions continue to hold me in balance, Gorm.
- Gorm: So, the same then.
- Idgrod: Do not worry, my friend. All is well.
- Gorm: Have you decided what to do about Falion?
- Idgrod: What decision is there to be made? I allowed him to live here. I stand by that.
- Gorm: Yes, but there are concerns. Rumours that he’s up to something.
- Idgrod: We are all up to something. All is as it should be.
I stood patiently, waiting to be addressed. Idgrod smiled at me, and the mumbo jumbo began.
- Idgrod: So, life has brought you to Morthal and me. What purpose this serves, we will no doubt see. Welcome, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: And good morning to you, Jarl Idgrod.
- Idgrod: I thank you for returning my Hold to me.
- Wulf: Did you foresee the treachery of Sorli?
- Idgrod: No, I did not know why I foresaw my return to this throne, only that it happened. Therefore, when the usurper did her deed, I was not overly concerned except for the harm my people may have suffered.
- Wulf: Many of you people were massacred in the initial part of the betrayal.
- Idgrod: Yet here I am, on the throne as I foresaw.
- Wulf: Do your citizens worry about their Jarl having visions?
- Idgrod: The Divines reveal things to me sometimes, and I do not hide this. It is a gift. Anyone who believes otherwise does not and cannot understand it.
- Wulf: I have foresight, Jarl Idgrod. There is an inherited trait that makes it more likely an individual will have foresight, and most do not regard it as a gift. It is not a gift from The Divines but a quirk of metaphysics.
- Gorm: You will not disrespect Jarl Idgrod while in this hall! Do we have an understanding?
- Wulf: What disrespect have I shown?
- Gorm: It is no secret that Jarl Idgrod is regarded as different. It’s also no secret that there are rumours about her and her visions. I won’t allow them to be spread under this roof and in front of my Jarl!
- Wulf: I am called Champion of The Divines for a reason. It is my duty and honour to correct misconceptions related to The Nine. No disrespect has been shown to Her Serene Highness, Idgrod Ravencrone, Jarl of Morthal, Princess of the Hjaalmarii, Lady of the Hjaalmarch, Dame of Stonehills.
- Idgrod: No wonder I never use my complete title! How pretentious it is! But that does show you have studied me before arrival.
- Wulf: As I do before meeting many people of power, Jarl Ravencrone.
- Idgrod: I assume your titles have accumulated to an unwieldy mouthful.
- Wulf: Indeed, they have. My opinion differing from Jarl Idgrod’s is not a sign of disrespect, Gorm. Nor is it remotely related to the spreading of rumours!
- Gorm: I stand corrected.
- Idgrod: I would enjoy a lengthy discussion about my visions, but there is a pressing matter that you could help us resolve. I don’t need a vision to tell me that would be a better use of your precious time.
- Olette: Here we go again!
- Idgrod: Excuse me, young lady?
- Wulf: This opinionated urchin is my daughter, Lady Olette Welkynd. In all fairness, I had not asked her to keep her opinions private. Not that such a request would keep her from expressing herself.
- Idgrod: Would you care to explain your comment, Lady Welkynd?
- Olette: We visited Riften only to be asked by Lady Mara to help the people of Dawnstar because some Daedric Prince was making people there have bad dreams. When we visited Markarth, Cap’n, my dad, was asked to stop decades of corruption. A few lopped heads resolved that problem. When we visited Windhelm, we spent time tracking a murderer killing women and sewing bits of their bodies together to make a new woman. I don’t think having visions compares to that weirdness, do you? Now you are going to ask Cap’n to solve a problem for you. So, here we go again!
- Idgrod: You heard Lady Mara speak to your father?
- Olette: Yes, it was the first time I heard a god, and I was kinda amazed. But gods speak to Cap’n all the time, and he is used to it.
- Idgrod: Well, Lady Welkynd, I will ask your father to help resolve a problem.
- Olette: Are you going to make him a Thane? That helps when he is asking questions of people. You know, ‘I am your Thane, so you have better answer me!’ type of thing.
- Idgrod: You are a refreshingly forthright young lady.
- Olette: Is that a good thing?
- Idgrod It is an excellent thing! However, it can get you into trouble if mistimed.
- Gorm: Perhaps you had better make it official, my Jarl.
- Idgrod: Okay. By the powers invested in me as Jarl of Hjaalmarch, I name Wulf Welkynd a Thane of Hjaalmarch. I present to him The Blade of Hjaalmarch as a symbol of his station. Also, in appreciation for returning my Hold to me, I give him the land, chattels and titles of Windstad Manor. Waiting at Windstad Manor is Valdimar Jurgarnsen, a sorcerer of renown and now Wulf’s housecarl.
- Wulf: I am honoured to accept the title and grateful for the gift, my Jarl. I have no doubt Valdimar feels more comfortable beyond Morthal’s boundaries.
- Idgrod: Yes, my citizens are not overly fond of magic.
- Olette: I bet they would kiss The Dragonborn’s feet, and he is a powerful mage. And The Voice is another form of magic, and he has visions. People don’t make sense sometimes. Well, most of the time.
- Idgrod: That summarises the difficulty of being in charge, Lady Welkynd. I must govern those who don’t make sense most of the time.
- Olette: I bet it doesn’t help when they accuse you of speaking nonsense about your visions.
- Idgrod: Hahaha. No, that does not help at all.
- Wulf: Please, my Jarl, what issue requires our assistance?
- Idgrod: A citizen, a lumberjack by the name of Hroggar, recently lost his wife and child in a tragic accident. Fire engulfed their house, and it was too late to save the victims when anybody outside the home noticed the blaze.
- Wulf: Hroggar survived but not his wife and child?
- Idgrod: That is correct. My people now believe the burnt house to be cursed. Who am I to gainsay them?
- Wulf: Was Hroggar home at the time of the fire? Was he injured?
- Idgrod: Hroggar was at home and had no scratch on him or even a minor burn. He showed no signs of breathing smoke. Many believe he started the fire and watched his family burn. Such a healthy outcome is inconsistent with somebody who professed to love his daughter and wife.
- Wulf: What does Hroggar blame for the fire?
- Idgrod: He claims his wife spilt bear fat on the fire.
- Olette: Laying blame on a dead person that can’t be questioned is convenient.
- Idgrod: Did you help track the murderer in Windhelm, Lady Welkynd?
- Olette: Yes, and I like solving mysteries. I was not too fond of the collection of dismembered body parts, though. Cap’n had to pay a lot for somebody to clean the house, but I don’t think I could ever sleep there.
- Wulf: I purchased the house that the last victim owned. The killer stored the remains of his kills inside a small room within that house. At least half a dozen young women fell victim to his depravity. Olette did not catch even a momentary glimpse of the carnage, but she heard it described by others.
- Idgrod: Here I am, asking you to investigate a problem in my Hold, and I find myself fascinated by another in Windhelm.
- Wulf: What has Hroggar been like since the fire?
- Idgrod: The ashes were still warm when he pledged himself to Alva.
- Olette: He sounds guilty, but you need evidence. Cap’n always says the obvious answer is not always the complete story.
- Idgrod: Indeed, Lady Welkynd, that is often true. All evidence must be considered before a fair sentence can be passed.
- Wulf: Has anybody else investigated the fire?
- Idgrod: No, for they think the burnt house is cursed.
- Wulf: What can you tell me about Alva?
- Idgrod: You are best to ask Jonna, the owner of Moorside Inn. Since arriving in Morthal several months ago, Alva has spent considerable time there.
- Wulf: I assume I will find Hroggar at the sawmill?
- Gorm: If there is lumber to be cut, yes. Otherwise, you will find him sitting outside Alva’s house. Almost like a sentry, which adds to the rumours.
- Wulf: Is Alva seen during the day?
- Gorm: No, come to think of it. That is rather odd.
- Wulf: What are the names of the deceased child and her mother?
- Gorm: Helgi was the little girl. She was nine years of age. Her mother was Gwenlief.
- Wulf: Can you mark Alva’s residence on my map for me?
- Gorm: Yes, and the location of the burnt house.
- Wulf: Okay, we shall investigate, my Jarl.
Gorm marked my map with the two locations, and we exited Highmoon Hall. The sky was grey, and it was as very dark as light snow fell.
I told the group, “I want to hear your thoughts as we investigate. One of you might observe or deduce something the rest of us missed. This method worked in Windhelm and helped speed the investigation, which saved the life of the murderer’s next victim.”
Rigmor asked, “Do you already have a theory, my Dragonborn?”
“Yes, but I will not bias your thoughts via my speculation.”
When I saw the burnt house, Hroggar’s story immediately started to unravel in my mind. Even a flash fire caused by spilt fat would have left ample time to save his family.
We entered the ruined house and had a look around. After ten minutes, we discussed what we saw.
- Wulf: Okay, tell me your thoughts.
- Rigmor: Where are the burnt furniture and belongings?
- Felix: If you wanted to hide the cause of a fire, you would remove the burnt contents. That makes it more difficult to pinpoint the fire’s origin and determine its speed of spread.
- Olette: And the Jarl said the locals wouldn’t touch this place because they think it is cursed.
- Lydia: Therefore, the perpetrator or perpetrators removed the burnt contents.
- Wulf: They couldn’t remove the permanent evidence, such as floorboards and stone fireplaces.
- Olette: Yeah, where is the evidence the fire started in and around the fireplace? It has a wooden mantle, one of the least scorched parts of the house.
- Felix: Wouldn’t burnt fat leave a residue on the floor?
- Wulf: Yes, it would, and there is none.
- Rigmor: There is one part of the floor burnt entirely through. That suggests it was on fire longer than the rest of the floor.
- Lydia: So that is most likely the point of origin of the fire, not the fireplace.
- Olette: And even if there were a flash fire, it would be easy enough to escape through a window or doorway.
- Felix: I would like to think that any father, even if he no longer loved his wife, would do all he could to save his daughter.
- Wulf: I did not ask too much about Hroggar as I wanted our opinion to be unbiased. We shall talk to him and form our own.
Just then, I sensed a soul. A child’s soul. I said, “Everybody stays where you are and be quiet, no matter what you see.”
I walked to where the soul was and said, “Hello, Helgi.”
Helgi’s spirit materialised. I heard Olette whisper, “Cool!”
Helgi asked, “Is that you, Father?”
“No, Helgi, I am not your father. My name is Wulf.”
“Father says I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Are you a stranger?”
“That is wise advice from your father. His name is Hroggar. And Gwenlief is your mother.”
“Do you know them? I am sad because Father made my favourite dolly, but I can’t find her.”
Rigmor gasped. No doubt she remembered Jenny and her father’s love.
“I have never met your parents, so I suppose I am a stranger. However, would you be so kind as to help me? Then we can be friends, not strangers.”
“No, I am not allowed to speak to strangers.”
I looked at Olette, who took the hint and said, “Hello, Helgi. I am Wulf’s daughter, Olette. My Father is a nice man who needs your help.”
“Okay, Olette, I suppose a bad stranger will not have his daughter with him. How can I help?”
I asked, “Helgi, can you tell me what happened to your house?”
“The smoke woke me up. I was hot, and I was scared, so I hid. Then it got cold and dark. I’m not scared anymore. But I’m lonely. Will you play with me?”
“Yes, of course, we will. What game do you want to play?”
“Well, usually there is only one person who is it. That can be you, Wulf. Then the rest of us will hide, and you must find us.”
“I know that game. We call it ‘Hide and Seek.’”
“Wulf, we will have to wait until it is dark because the other will want to play. She can’t come out till it’s dark.”
“Who is the other one, Helgi?”
“I can’t tell you because she might hear me. She is so close! If you find me first, I might be able to answer more questions.”
“Okay, I am pretty good at hide and seek. I will find you, Helgi.”
Helgi laughed as her spirit vanished.
I turned to the group.
- Wulf: Rigmor, what does Helgi’s story of her doll suggest to you?
- Rigmor: It suggests that Hroggar loved his daughter. Like my dad loved me.
- Olette: Cap’n, Rigmor told me about her doll, Jenny, how her father made it, how her best friend stole it, and so on. Only a father who loves his daughter would take the time and effort to make a doll. They were not poor, and Hroggar could have just brought one.
- Lydia: Why hasn’t Helgi moved on to her afterlife?
- Wulf: Helgi might not realise she is dead. Or, more likely, she needs something done before leaving Mundus behind. I think the clues add up to one conclusion.
- Lydia: Which is?
- Wulf: Let us speak to Hroggar first. I think his behaviour will prove my theory.
- Felix: I know I am not as gobblygooked as the rest of you, but I also think l know what is happening. Or, more precisely, what kind of evil we are dealing with.
- Lydia: Come on then, Felix, spill the beans. Wulf won’t tell, but he won’t object to one of us speculating out loud.
- Felix: What kind of creatures can only come out at night?
- Olette: Some of the uglier prostitutes in Riften relied on the dark to get customers. Even the horniest sailors would run from them in daylight!
- Rigmor: Olette!
- Olette: Hey, I am not suggesting they were creatures or evil!
- Rigmor: The fact you know about horny sailors was the shock, Olette.
- Olette: Who do you think my sire was, Rigmor? A prince?
- Rigmor: Oh, I forgot that.
- Olette: That’s okay. He is easily forgettable.
- Lydia: Most vampires can only come out at night.
- Felix: Yep, I think we are dealing with vampires.
- Olette: Cool! Well, sort of, if you are not a victim.
- Rigmor: Are we dealing with vampires, Wulf?
- Wulf: I believe we are. I could barge into Alva’s house and confirm that theory, but I would prefer to investigate further. If I can find the entire clan or a coven, that is better than eliminating one or two vampires.
- Rigmor: How will speaking with Hroggar prove the vampire theory?
- Wulf: If he is a thrall, his behaviour makes sense.
- Olette: Ooh, I have never met a thrall!
We approached Alva’s house and saw a man sitting by the door.
I walked up to him and asked, “Excuse me, are you Hroggar?”
“Yes, I am, but if you want to order timber, speak to Jorgen at the mill.”
“I heard that your house burned down.”
“Yes, that is true. But I am in a new house now. A better house.”
“Wasn’t your wife, Gwenlief, and Helgi, your daughter, killed in the blaze?”
“Yeah, that was a shame. But now Alva takes care of me, and I take care of her.”
“I inspected the ruins of your house. There is no sign of a bear-fat spill, and you would have had plenty of time to rescue your family. Your story doesn’t match the evidence or make sense.”
“Ahh, I see. Whatever happened before doesn’t matter.”
“Did you love your wife and daughter?”
“Yes, I did. They meant the world to me. But as I said, whatever happened before doesn’t matter.”
“You can’t tell me what happened, can you?”
“I am not allowed.”
“Are Helgi and Gwenlief buried in Morthal’s graveyard?”
“Yeah, we don’t have a Hall of the Dead here.”
“I spoke to Helgi’s spirit.”
“Would you like to know what she said?”
“I have Alva to take care of me now. I don’t need Helgi or Gwenlief anymore. Now, excuse me, I have to check on Alva.”
Hroggar stood, unlocked Alva’s front door and entered. We heard him relock the door once inside.
I told the group, “I will teleport us to Solitude’s stables. We can talk there.”
As soon as we came out of the ether, the questions began.
- Rigmor: What was wrong with Hroggar?
- Felix: He is not the heartless bastard he seemed, is he?
- Wulf: He is enthralled, ensorceled if you want another term. When you enter a nest of vampires, you encounter far more thralls than blood-suckers.
- Rigmor: How do they become enthralled?
- Wulf: If the target is unwilling, a vampire uses a Blood Magic spell called Vampiric Seduction. That puts their victim into a trance. The vampire then feeds on the victim. If the vampire drinks too much blood, the victim dies. Drinking the right amount will make the victim their thrall. People think that a bite from a vampire will turn you into a vampire. They can infect you that way if they desire, but the various vampiric diseases are usually delivered via spells.
- Lydia: There is more than one vampire disease?
- Wulf: Yes, and the prevalence of each one has varied over time. The most common one in Skyrim is Sanguinare Vampiris. It can be removed by any Shrine of The Nine, a cure disease potion or a healing spell from a Master Restoration Mage. If not cured within three days, the infected becomes a vampire.
- Olette: Do the infected know they have the disease?
- Wulf: Not always. Many only have mild symptoms and blame other common ailments. That is why vampires prefer to spread the disease via spells. There are no fang marks left behind.
- Rigmor: What are the other vampiric diseases?
- Wulf: It has rarely been seen since the second era, but Noxiphilic Sanguivoria used to be the most common of the vampiric diseases. The vampires produced by Noxiphilic Sanguivoria can walk in sunlight, unlike those created by Sanguinare Vampiris. Symptoms are more evident, with victims suffering hallucinations during the later stages of infection.
- Rigmor: The advantage is resistance to sunlight, but the disadvantage is that victims are more likely to seek treatment.
- Wulf: Exactly. Plus, it is thought only certain vampire clans have knowledge of the spell and that it was a gift from Molag Bal.
- Olette: What would you like, little girl? A lovely dolly or the ability to turn people into vampires? Oh, that is such a hard choice. Can I think about it for a while, Lord Bal?
- Lydia: As we feared, Olette has become as weird as Wulf.
- Olette: Yes! One of my ambitions is fulfilled!
- Rigmor: Olette, we might have to drop you on your head to complete your training.
- Wulf: The third vampiric disease is called Porphyric Hemophilia and was the most common form in Cyrodiil before and during The Oblivion Crises. It is almost identical to Sanguinare Vampiris, except the victims become increasingly fatigued as the disease progresses.
- Lydia: You said the seduction spell is only used on unwilling victims.
- Wulf: Some people ask to become thralls. Some are given an ultimatum, thrall or death. Therefore, some people offer their necks and blood without needing a seduction spell cast.
- Olette: Okay, Cap’n, Hroggar is a thrall of Alva. But is Alva the one that Helgi said is nearby?
- Wulf: I don’t have enough information at the moment. I doubt Alva is the only vampire in Morthal. I shall investigate later when it is dark.
- Rigmor: By yourself?
- Wulf: Yes, and for the same reason as in Markarth and the final bit in Windhelm. I am more likely to catch the enemy when working alone. I have little to fear from vampires, Rigmor.
- Olette: If you killed Alva, would Hroggar recover?
- Wulf: Some thralls do but can’t remember their time enthralled, while others remember everything. Some thralls go insane, and a few drop dead. I have no idea what Hroggar’s fate would be.
- Olette: I know why we didn’t enter Alva’s house.
- Felix: Then you are more intelligent than me, Olette. I thought we would have entered, found the truth, and that would have been it.
- Olette: Well, I wouldn’t have been allowed to enter. But anyway, Cap’n thinks if he entered Alva’s house, Hroggar would attack and have to be killed. Plus, Cap’n thinks that Alva is only one of many, and by hearing what Helgi has to say, he has more chance of finding the gang or whatever it is called.
- Wulf: Coven is the word. It is used for gatherings of vampires, witches and necromancers. Sometimes a vampire coven is an entire clan. Other times it is one of several covens that are part of a clan.
- Rigmor: Like the coven that had Sorella. You think that is part of a clan run by The Broodmother.
- Wulf: Yes, and clans usually have plans. If a clan is involved, we must determine if they have a plan and what it is.
- Rigmor: Okay, you want to return alone to Morthal when it gets dark. So why are we here?
- Wulf: I want to inspect Highreach and then tell Elisif my decision about the lordship. I want to talk to Miraak and the Captain and see how they are. I want to check on the orphanage and see if they need extra funds or other assistance.
- Rigmor: How far is it to Highreach?
- Wulf: Not far. It is in a small valley near the port.
- Olette: If you accept the position, would I have to call you Lord?
- Wulf: You can always call me Cap’n, Olette. On the other hand, these other peasants had better address me accordingly.
- Rigmor: My dear Dragonbum, if you were not such a brainless peasant, you would know that a Countess outranks a Lord. You will still be my shoe pooh.
- Olette: Lydia, I think Rigmor is just as weird as Cap’n and me.
- Lydia: Perhaps it is a disease, like Sanguinare Vampiris?
- Olette: I will have to think of a name for the disease.
- Lydia: It is a secondary disease of Wulfitis.
- Olette: Weirdonus Wulfitis?
- Lydia: Yes, that is excellent!
- Olette: It is caught by listening to and observing the weird behaviour of an infected person.
The miserable weather of Morthal was replicated around Solitude. But still, it was a pleasant walk to Highreach.
We entered Highreach, and Rigmor was immediately entranced.
“Look at the tiny farms, Wulf!”
“Yes, it is called share-farming. Several families work the same piece of land.”
“Where has all that timber come from?”
“It is cheaper to have entire logs shipped and then use a local sawmill than pay for pre-cut timber. Highreach is so close to the port that transport fees are minimal.”
Just past the farms was an overgrown park.
Olette commented, “The grass needs cutting back.”
I replied, “Or we could use this as pastures for our horses.”
“Yeah, that is a good idea, Cap’n!”
My arm was soon tired from saluting Legionnaires. At least they recognised who I was.
Highreach Keep came into view.
- Rigmor: That place is rather ugly but big.
- Wulf: Those banners of Wuuthrad will have to go. I will never revere that Mer killer and architect of genocide!
- Lydia: The Dwemer statues are a bit much.
- Wulf: Yep, they would have to go as well.
- Olette: What is that on our right, Cap’n?
- Wulf: Let’s have a look and find out.
Replicas of Skyrim’s Standing Stones surrounded a Magicka Well. Writing in Ehlnofex surrounded the well. There were also four Dwemer pushbuttons.
- Wulf: Nobody is to touch the buttons! That includes you, Countess Curious.
- Rigmor: But they are buttons, and they need to be pushed. Buttons….
- Lydia: Get ready to tackle Rigmor to the ground!
- Olette: What do the buttons do, Cap’n?
- Wulf: I have no idea. It will take a lot of effort to figure them out without pushing them.
- Felix: What is that blue gooey stuff in the middle?
- Wulf: A form of solidified Magicka. I didn’t think that much existed outside of The College of Winterhold. The previous Lord of Highreach was a knuckle-dragging Ulfric supporter, not a scholar or mage. One of his sycophants must have been a mage of considerable power and knowledge. Very few people could read the writing surrounding the Magicka Well. It is the language of the gods, called Ehlnofex.
- Lydia: Why did they make replicas of the Standing Stones?
- Wulf: At a guess, the mage tried reproducing the ancient dweomer of the genuine standing stones. It would be an intellectual task of little practical use.
- Olette: What could you use the Magicka Well for, Cap’n?
- Wulf: There would be many uses, but one comes to mind immediately. Highreach is within an isolated valley. Therefore I could use the Magicka Well to control the weather more permanently than with cast spells. It would be localised control and not adversely affect surrounding lands.
- Olette: Why would you want to control the weather?
- Wulf: It is snowy and miserable on the other side of Highreach’s entrance. The mage who had this installed already used it to control the weather, which is probably what the buttons do. If you want snow, push a button. If you want rain, push a different button. Controlling the weather is helpful if you want certain crops to flourish.
- Felix: You don’t know who this mage was?
- Wulf: I have no idea. I will find out, though. Come, Rigmor, we must continue our inspection.
- Rigmor: But the buttons, Wulf! Can’t I push one of them?
- Wulf: No! Now come along and stop being a naughty Countess.
We entered the keep and approached the throne.
- Rigmor: What kind of idiot was the previous lord? He proclaimed his support for Ulfric when living in a town a few miles from Solitude!
- Lydia: He even had a replica of The Jagged Crown made!
- Wulf: I don’t know much about him, but he must have been delusional. It is suspicious that a powerful mage was present when he committed political suicide. Something doesn’t smell right!
- Felix: Sorry, that was the extra eggs I had for breakfast.
- Olette: Let’s keep moving, Cap’n, before we all faint!
The keep was well furnished but not extravagantly so. A Dwemer heated spa was the only unusual luxury we saw.
We exited, and I stared at some of the multi-story dwellings.
- Wulf: Most of the population vanished after Lord Inwelomon Phiedwulf was arrested.
- Rigmor: Did Elisif say why?
- Wulf: She thinks it was because they were scared of reprisals, as most of them were vocal Ulfric supporters. However, there would never be reprisals against those who supported Ulfric as long as they remained peaceful after his defeat.
- Olette: You are starting to wonder about that mage again, aren’t you, Cap’n?
- Wulf: Yes, there is a mystery here. There could be something sinister to be uncovered.
- Olette: Cool! Another mystery and bad guys to uncover.
- Wulf: I said there could be, Olette.
- Rigmor: How about we talk to some of the residents who stayed behind?
- Wulf: That is an excellent suggestion, my button-obsessed Countess.
- Rigmor: Then we can return to the buttons!
- Lydia: We might have to lure Rigmor away from the buttons with a trail of Sweetrolls.
The first local we saw was an Alik’r warrior.
- Wulf: Hello, I am General Wulf Welkynd.
- Sorink: It is an honour to meet you, General. I am Sorink Fhashun.
- Wulf: Are you a resident of Highreach?
- Sorink: Yes, my wife, Lairah, and I were hired as stablemasters. That was a short-lived position as soon after our arrival Lord Phiedwulf was arrested. The horses were taken along with many other luxuries deemed proceeds of illegal activity. We have remained here hoping that a new lord will revive the town. As we wait, we have found employment maintaining what was left behind and helping the small population.
- Wulf: Did you have much interaction with Lord Phiedwulf?
- Sorink: No, we were hired by one of his advisors. I never spoke to Lord Phiedwulf.
- Lydia: What do those who have lived here for longer say about Lord Phiedwulf?
- Sorink: They say nothing complimentary. However, the Thalmor Wizard was their biggest worry.
- Lydia: A Thalmor Wizard lived here?
- Sorink: Apparently, there was a nest of them living here.
- Wulf: Thank you for your assistance, Sorink.
- Sorink: Are you to be the new Lord of Highreach, General Welkynd?
- Wulf: Yes, I have grand plans for this town. We will undoubtedly need stablemasters.
- Sorink: Then I can make Lairah smile once more with that news.
- Wulf: I look forward to working with you in the future, Sorink.
As Sorink moved away, we noticed a Khajiiti cook standing in front of an outdoor spa. She had been listening to our conversation.
- Tsabhi: Did I hear correctly? Are you to be our new lord?
- Wulf: Yes, I have decided to accept that role.
- Tsabhi: I am Tsabhi, and I have worked here for many years. Lord Phiedwulf was not always an idiot. It was the arrival of the Thalmor Wizard that turned him into one.
- Wulf: Was Lord Phiedwulf a Breton?
- Tsabhi: His grandparents were, but he regarded himself as a Nord. He was a devout follower of The Nine. Then he allowed shrines to some Daedra to be erected and seemed to forgo The Nine. Not long after, he became one of those ‘Skyrim belongs to the Nords’ idiots. However, there was nothing to demonstrate a reverence for Talos.
- Wulf: Are The Thalmor still here?
- Tsabhi: No. They left at the same time as most of the population. We awoke one morning to an empty town.
- Rigmor: Do you think the citizens left because they supported Ulfric and were scared of reprisals?
- Tsabhi: I have no idea why The Thalmor skedaddled. However, most townsfolk were ordinary, hard-working people with no love for Ulfric Stormcloak. A few were, but that would be the same in any town or village of Skyrim. None of us who remain believe that nonsense about them being Ulfric supporters who left out of fear.
- Lydia: Did you assist when Highreach was used as a hospital during the civil war and New Order invasion?
- Tsabhi: We all did. The town thrived with activity, although through tragic necessity, it was heartening to see. Alas, it has once again turned into a town of echoes.
- Wulf: I will visit again and talk to you all about my plans for Highreach. I am beginning to formulate them in my head. Expect to see me in a month or two.
- Olette: What is that horrible grinding noise?
- Lydia: Your father is trying to think. It’s a bit rusty in there.
- Olette: Maybe we should pour some Dwemer oil into his ear?
- Wulf: Don’t expect those two to be with me.
- Tsabhi: It is good to hear humour. It has been in short supply in Highreach.
- Olette: Don’t encourage Lord Welkynd to be funny. That never works out well.
- Tsahbi: We shall wait with great anticipation, Lord Welkynd.
Tsabhi bowed and then whistled as she walked away.
We did a quick inspection of the rest of Highreach. There was plenty of open space and much existing infrastructure ideal for my grand scheme.
Many statues of Ysgramor needed to be removed. I decided those of Daedric Princes could remain, even one of Meridia.
- Rigmor: Okay, Wulf. We have been waiting patiently to hear what you have planned for Highreach.
- Wulf: I will turn it into a self-funding orphanage and school. All sorts of skills will be taught. Produce and products will be sold to fund its upkeep. As you can see, Legionnaires already guard the town, and I expect that will remain the same.
- Olette: So, Cap’n, will you populate Highreach with many children and adults to teach them?
- Wulf: On our visits to the Holds, we witnessed families living in hovels and even begging. I envisage whole families moving here. Many destitute adults have valuable skills, so why restrict Highreach to orphans alone?
- Lydia: Wulf, that is a brilliant idea!
- Wulf: It could be a model for the future. If we can make Highreach self-funding, other small towns and villages may be created to cater for the poor.
- Rigmor: I am sure it would work, and Elisif will support the idea. But what about the people who disappeared and that Thalmor Wizard?
- Wulf: I doubt Elisif or anybody else knew of a Thalmor presence in Highreach. I will try and find out what happened, but that investigation should not delay the planning to be done.
- Lydia: Do you think there could be danger here?
- Wulf: Instinct tells me the danger fled with the Thalmor Wizard. I will bring Vayu, Celestine and the other Dragonguard mages here to look for potential hazards.
- Rigmor: You will not guess what happened to the residents, will you?
- Wulf: No, Rigmor, because I don’t have the slightest idea.
I teleported us inside Proudspire Manor.
Then we made our way to The Blue Palace.
We entered and made our way to Elisif, who had just returned from a break. Many people were waiting to see her, but I walked past them all.
- Wulf: You look exhausted, my Queen.
- Elisif: Did you see all those people seated in the waiting area?
- Wulf: Ahh, yes, did we jump the queue?
- Elisif: You know that you did, but nobody will complain. I wanted to point out that every single one of them, noble and commoner, rich and poor, will want to talk about The Thalmor. That is what it has been like all day! Usually, I could make announcements via the town criers and make a proclamation. The trouble is the news sheets in Cyrodiil are only just starting to report what happened. His Imperial Majesty is yet to say anything, and I can’t announce a policy that might be contrary to his plans.
- Olette: So, you tell everybody that further investigations into the incidents are required and assure them you share their concerns. That won’t tread on Mede’s toes.
- Elisif: That is the exact thing I have told my advisors I want to do, but as per usual, they find fault and blah blah blah. Why not make an announcement when it is what I have told each person, one at a time, all day?
- Olette: Who is the queen? I don’t see anybody else in the throne room wearing a tiara.
- Elisif: You seem to have an uncanny knack for distilling a problem into a simple solution, Lady Welkynd.
- Olette: Cap’n is always doing that. It is an excellent skill to have.
- Elisif: Indeed, it is. I am still learning to be queenlier. I was disappointed to learn that it is bad etiquette to have objectors’ heads lopped off.
- Olette: Whoever told you that needs to be shortened.
- Elisif: Perhaps I should have a headsman stand next to me?
- Olette: Maybe some servants with mops and buckets? A few open coffins wouldn’t go astray.
- Wulf: Ahem, ladies, I am here to talk serious business.
- Elisif: Thank you for brightening my day a little, Lady Welkynd.
Olette bowed, and then I had my chance to talk to Elisif about Highreach and the mysterious Thalmor Wizard. Elisif was enthused about my ideas for Highreach. She also said she didn’t know of a Thalmor presence in Highreach. The Penitus Oculatus would be asked to investigate and see if they could trace any of the missing townspeople.
I left the castle with yet another title added to my collection. I am now Lord Welkynd of Highreach.
We entered the safe house, and Rigmor commented, “This place is so quiet now!”
Rekzaam was sitting in front of the fire.
“Greetings, Rekzaam. Is Rokzaam at home?”
“He is visiting the museum with Miraak, Dragonborn.”
“I have a proposal for you both. I need caretakers for this house and Proudspire Manor, another of my properties not that far away, next to The Bards College. Do you think you and your brother would be interested in the positions? I would pay you a fair wage, and you can call this home for as long as you desire.”
“I am interested in the position and am sure Rokzaam will be as well.”
“My friends are usually good at cleaning after themselves, but even an empty house needs dusting and sweeping.”
“People will be using the house?”
“My friends used my various properties to have private time away from the very crowded Silverpeak Lodge.”
“Okay, I will speak to Rokzaam, but I see no reason he would object to the arrangement.”
“Here are the keys to Proudspire Manor.”
I handed the keys over and then looked for Captain Algren.
“Greetings, Captain. Are you ready to join us yet?”
“Yes, Dragonborn. I look forward to resuming, or beginning, of whatever, my duties by your side.”
“Think of it as a beginning, Captain Algren. I am not the Wulf you knew.”
“Yes, that is probably the best approach.”
“We don’t use ranks, so what is your given name?”
“I shall summon you to Silverpeak Lodge soon, Aletio. We have an influx of new Dragonguard, so you will not be alone learning our ways.”
“It can’t be more chaotic than travelling with the Wulf I knew.”
“We shall see. Sometimes we are bounced from one crisis to another without pause.”
“That sound’s familiar. Perhaps it will be more alike than I thought.”
We left the safe house, walked to The Temple of The Divines, and entered Kinghall Orphanage.
Governess Tiera assured me that the current funding was adequate and there were no problems I needed to address.
When we returned to Silverpeak Lodge, we spent some time outside with the children.
I then sat and had dinner with my friends.
Before returning to Morthal, I promised to keep Rigmor informed of what was happening and that I would not hesitate to summon help if needed.
I teleported to Morthal’s stables.
I headed to the graveyard, where instinct told me the game of hide-go-seek would resume. I laughed as a Vigilant of Stendarr walked by. Every second resident could be a vampire, and the Vigilants would remain ignorant. They are useless, and I wonder if the breakaway group, The Dawnguard, are any better.
I interrupted a female vampire exhuming who I suspected was Helgi. The vampire had uncovered the coffin but was yet to open it.
When I got close to the coffin, Helgi’s disembodied voice pleaded, “Please, Wulf, make Laelette go away!”
I asked Laelette, “Are you one of Alva’s disciples, or do you have a different master?”
Laelette didn’t answer but attacked with a Vampiric Drain Spell.
I shook my head and said, “That is not very polite, Laelette. I have not drawn a weapon or threatened you! As you probably realise by now, your Blood Magic doesn’t work on me, for I do not have mortal blood or a mortal soul. You can’t drain my Lifeforce or infect me with Sanguinare Vampiris.”
“Then I shall cut you down, meat!”
I sighed as Laelette attacked with her sword. I quickly drew mine, dodged her attack and ended her life. Vampires are very combustible, and Laelette screamed as she died more from fire than a sword wound.
I stood over Helgi’s coffin and whispered, “It’s okay, Helgi. Laelette can’t harm you anymore.”
Helgi’s spirit appeared before me, and I could see fear in her eyes.
“Don’t be afraid, Helgi. I won’t let anybody hurt you.”
Helgi relaxed and said, “You found me, Wulf. You are good at this game. Laelette was trying to find me too, but I’m glad you found me first.”
“So am I. Can you please tell me what happened the night of the fire?”
“Laelette was told to burn Mummy and me, but she didn’t want to. She said she wanted to play with me forever and ever. She kissed me on the neck, and I got so cold that the fire didn’t even hurt. Laelette thought she could take me and keep me, but she couldn’t. I’m all burned up.”
“Why haven’t you joined your mummy?”
“I needed to tell somebody what happened so they could stop the bad people. Daddy didn’t burn us, but he didn’t try to put out the fire or rescue us. I don’t understand why because I know he loves Mummy and me. I could have escaped with Laelette, but then I knew I would never see Mummy or Daddy again. Laelette did not try and make me leave after I told her why I had to stay. She cried when I burned up.”
“I will stop the bad people, Helgi. Then you can join your mummy.”
“That will be good. I’m tired and will sleep for a while now. Thank you, Wulf.”
Helgi’s spirit vanished, and I needed to speak to Rigmor.
“Rigmor, I spoke to Helgi’s spirit. A vampire called Laelette has dug up Helgi’s coffin. I had to kill her before Helgi would talk to me.”
“What did Helgi say about the fire?”
“Helgi said that Laelette was responsible for the fire but did not want to kill Helgi. She tried to turn the little girl into a thrall and perhaps later a vampire, but Helgi resisted.”
“Oh, just like Xenia in The Bloodlet Throne!”
“Helgi intuitively knew that escaping with Laelette would stop her from ever seeing her parents again. She stayed and burned, but the bite from Laelette stopped the little girl from feeling pain. Then her spirit remained behind as Helgi wanted to tell what happened, so those responsible are stopped.”
“Will Helgi go to her afterlife if you get rid of the vampires?”
“I don’t know. Helgi will decide when to join her mother in Aetherius.”
“Is Laelette one of the boss vampires? I am not sure what their levels of authority are.”
“Each clan has its way of determining authority. One constant is that a vampire has some control over the mortals they turn. I don’t know if Alva was the vampire who turned Laelette into one. However, Laelette would still be free within the constraints of the order given by her host. Thralls also have some free will with the same constraints.”
“If Laelette wanted to turn Helgi into a vampire or thrall, why didn’t she do it before setting the fire?”
“Logically, Laelette was told to set the fire and kill Helgi and her mother, but couldn’t bring herself to watch a child die. They might have known each other before Laelette was turned.”
“Why was Laelette digging up Helgi?”
“I think she was hoping that Helgi somehow survived. Perhaps she sensed Helgi’s lingering spirit.”
“So, my dear Dragonborn, you have some answers but need more.”
“Who knows many people in a city, town, or village and can be relied on for gossip?”
“The local barkeeps. For instance, Colin at the Tap&Tack in Bruma is an excellent source of information.”
“And that is why I shall try Jonna, the barkeep at The Moorside Inn. She might be able to tell me about Laelette.”
“Talk to me when you know more. Olette is bugging me for updates.”
“Olette is incredibly bright, and I don’t want to stop her from speaking her mind, but a few lessons on etiquette and protocol are needed. And no, I am not talking about which of the seven spoons you use for soup or what knife is to be used for fish compared to roast meat etc.”
“Freathof had a fit when I asked him how to excuse a loud and smelly fart. He had this idea you should be able to hold it in indefinitely. To prove my point, I challenged him not to fart for three hours after supper one night. Watching him try was amusing, and when he conceded defeat, he cleared the room in seconds. Pongy!”
“And that is an example of why I cannot rely on you to teach Olette proper manners.”
“I is a lady I is!”
“Except when you want to get a Thane throne out of his local inn.”
“Hehe. Anyway, off you go and do what is needed for Helgi and the people of Morthal.”
There was no need to say I love Rigmor or vice-versa. Our amulets let us know the depth of our love.
I entered The Moorside Inn and studied the clients, looking for vampires amongst them. There were none, but to my disgust, there were two Vigilants of Stendarr. The senior one I had seen earlier patrolling the streets of Morthal. The junior one looked like she had been sucking on lemons.
An Orsimer Bard sounded like somebody was constantly stepping on a cat’s tail while dropping nails into a metal bucket. He can’t be good for business.
I walked over to the bar, and Jonna recognised who I was.
“Welcome to The Moorside, Dragonborn. What brings you to Morthal?”
“I am investigating the fire that killed Helgi and Gwenlief.”
“Oh, that was a terrible thing. The screams woke half the town. Most folk won’t go near the house now for fear it is cursed.”
“Do you believe Hroggar lit the fire and stood back while his wife and child burnt to death?”
“That’s what most folks say. See, Hroggar is living with Alva now. That started the day after the fire. It ain’t right, moving in with a new love the day after your family dies like that.”
“You have probably known Hroggar for some time.”
“Years. From before he met Gwenlief, got married and became a father.”
“Thinking back, do you believe he would be capable of such a heartless crime?”
“No, never. Hroggar doted on Helgi and adored Gwenlief, but there is no other explanation.”
“What can you tell me about a woman called Laelette?”
“Now, there is a mystery! She recently ran away, and Thonnir, her husband, is devastated. Their son, Virkmund, is confused and doesn’t understand what is happening. Laelette left no note and gave no warning.”
“And where do you think she went?”
“Well, rumour is she joined The Stormcloaks.”
“I ended the war four weeks ago. Has Laelette been gone longer than that?”
“No, a week at the most. I see. Joining The Stormcloaks makes no sense, does it?”
“I would hope nobody is stupid enough to call themselves a Stormcloak. Was Laelette the type to become an outlaw and risk execution for a lost cause? Would she abandon husband and child for that lost cause?”
“No, she loves Thonnir and Virkmund. I had never heard about marital problems, and barkeeps are usually the first to hear the gossip. Laelette was at first sympathetic to Ulfric’s cause. However, that changed when she heard what you said aboard a dragon over Windhelm. When The Stormcloaks usurped our Jarl and butchered our guards in an ambush, she hated them.”
“Concerning Hroggar and Laelette, the people of Morthal spread lies! They would be better served using logic instead of gossip. What has Thonnir done to locate Laelette?”
“Thonnir has sent a letter to General Tullius asking if she is a prisoner or on a casualty list. He has scoured the swamps for miles around. He asks every stranger that enters Morthal if they have seen his wife. He will be at the gates, waiting to pounce on anybody new. He hardly spends time at the mill anymore.”
“Tell others that The Dragonborn knows Hroggar did not light that fire. Tell them The Dragonborn knows who lit the fire and will soon find out why.”
“How do you know these things?”
“Helgi’s spirit, her ghost if you will, told me.”
“You should tell the Jarl?”
“In good time. The Jarl knows I am investigating this because she asked me to, for I am your new Thane.”
I walked over to the young Vigilant and asked her, “Have you found any Daedra in here? If I were you, I would investigate the bard. He sounds evil!”
“Do not mock me! If you do not walk in the light, we will drag you there!”
“Morthal is riddled with vampires, yet you stay warm inside a tavern and scowl at innocent people instead of protecting them.”
“Do not lie. Lord Stendarr would show us these imaginary vampires so we could cull them in his name!”
“You just accused The Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines of being a liar. The Vigilants of Stendarr are pathetic, and it is no wonder that The Dawnguard has reformed. Yes, it is time I visited and spoke to Keeper Carcette. Perhaps with some proper guidance, there is hope for your order.”
I walked over to the senior Vigilant.
I growled, “You stand here, in the warm, whilst vampires infect Morthal. As I said to your junior, The Vigilants of Stendarr are pathetic. Expect changes to be made soon. I can no longer stand aside while your order blasphemes Lord Stendarr and fails in its duties. As agents of The Nine, you are an embarrassment.”
I left the inn and walked towards Morthal’s entrance. A man carrying a torch saw me and approached.
“Stranger, may I ask you some questions? My wife is missing. Perhaps you know something of her?”
“Are you Thonnir?”
“Yes, so you have been told of my troubles. The damned civil war has cost my family everything. Is my boy to grow up without a mother? What life is that? It is not right, I tell you.”
“Laelette did not join The Stormcloaks. I know where she is, but you must listen to me and perhaps answer some questions.”
“Who are you? Where is my wife? Why should I answer your questions if you won’t at least tell me that?”
“Okay, follow me to the graveyard.”
“The graveyard? Is Laelette dead? By The Nine, this can’t be happening!”
Thonnir ran towards the graveyard.
He stopped well before he reached Laelette’s body. Seeing her from a distance by the light of his torch was enough.
I walked over to him and said, “I am so sorry for your loss, Thonnir.”
“How…how did she die?”
“Laelette was a vampire. She attacked me, and I had no choice but to cut her down.”
“You killed her? You fucking bastard!”
Thonnir reached for his axe. I used my Thu’um and whispered, “I AM THE DRAGONBORN AND YOUR THANE! LISTEN WELL BEFORE YOU DARE DRAW A WEAPON ON ME!”
Even that whisper staggered Thonnir, who then stood with a stunned expression.
I asked, “Are you going to listen to me? You may have information that stops others from sharing Laelette’s fate!”
“Okay. This is…is….”
“This is not easy for you. I understand that. How long ago did Laelette vanish?”
“Eight days ago.”
“Did you notice any strange behaviour just before her disappearance?”
“She began to spend a lot of time with Alva. Yet just a week before that, she despised her. On the night she disappeared, Laelette was supposed to meet Alva.”
“Did you ask Alva about that meeting?”
“Alva told me that Laelette never showed up. Ah! My poor Laelette! I never got to say goodbye.”
“Thank you for your assistance, Thonnir. I will leave you to your grief.”
“Wait! Do you think Laelette did meet with Alva? Do you think Alva is a vampire? Ye gods, you’re wrong. You must be wrong, and Laelette met her fate out in the marsh. Yes, that is where a vampire got to her if she was a vampire.”
“Get closer with that torch, take a good look and then tell me your wife was not a vampire. As to where she was bitten, I have not said that Alva was the one to turn her. I am still investigating as more powerful vampires may be involved.”
“No, I refuse to believe Alva had anything to do with this. There is no way you can prove it to the Jarl!”
“You have been spending time with Alva, haven’t you? Lucky for you, she has not yet used her full powers and made you a thrall like Hroggar. Get your act together and take care of Laelette before the wild animals do!”
As I headed for Alva’s house, I was relieved to see Hroggar. At least I will not have to cut him down. However, he was standing next to a fresh corpse.
I asked, “Who is the dead person, Hroggar?”
“I don’t know. I was working the mill when he demanded I hand him my money. The Orc guard saw what was happening and cut the bandit down.”
“Okay, I believe you. Why aren’t you at Alva’s?”
“She has gone out for the night. Hunting. She likes to hunt at night.”
“What does she hunt?”
“I don’t know. Or perhaps I do? I can’t tell you.”
“Thonnir says Alva was the last person to see Laelette before she vanished.”
“Yes, she came by so Alva could kiss her goodbye.”
“Why would Laelette say goodbye to Alva but not her husband and child?”
“Thonnir was cruel to her. He would beat her every day! It is no wonder she fled in the middle of the night.”
“Why didn’t she take her son, Virkmund, with her? She mustn’t have loved him because she left her little boy alone with the monster that beat her every day!”
“I…I don’t know.”
“Did you burn your wife and child to death?”
“No…No…that was an accident. Spilt bear fat is what caused the fire.”
“Did Laelette tell you that Thonnir beat her, or did Alva?”
“Come on, what are you trying to do? Insult me?”
“I am trying to make it easier for you when the bond breaks.”
“Did Alva tell you that bear fat caused the fire, or did you see it happen?”
“I…I am sure I saw it.”
“Think hard, Hroggar. Remember how much you loved Helgi and Gwenlief. Recall how your heart burst with love as you said your wedding vows before Lady Mara. Think back on how you cried when you first held tiny Helgi. You poured love into the doll you made for your daughter.”
“I…will…think on these things. But I have to cut the last of this timber first. Then I can go home and…remember….”
“One last thing. Alva is either lying to you or Thonnir. Alva told Thonnir that she didn’t see Laelette at all the night she disappeared. Perhaps she lied to both of you?”
I hurried towards Alva’s house. I did not want to deal with Hroggar if he decided I was a threat to Alva.
I held my amulet and spoke to Rigmor.
“Update for Lady Welkynd and Countess Ramsbottom. Cap’n is about to enter Alva’s vampire den. She is not home, and neither is Hroggar, so Cap’n expects no lopping off heads will be required.”
“Wulf, you are an idiot!”
“Cap’n will file another report when he knows more.”
I picked the front door lock and made my way inside.
Nothing on the ground floor suggested a vampire lived in the building. I headed for the basement.
The basement was unmistakably a vampire’s den! There was an empty coffin in the middle of the room with its lid off.
A journal was on a small table next to a large mug of blood.
The relevant entries in the journal read,
“My life is dreary. Where is my prince come to rescue me? Where is my bold Nord warrior to sweep me off my feet?
I met a man today when picking nightshade. He is exciting and exotic, and we kissed in the moonlight. It was so romantic. I’m going to see him again tonight.
Now I understand the true colours of the night. Movarth has shown me the true black of night and the true red of blood. He has promised me a feast of blood if I do his bidding in Morthal.
Hroggar was easy to seduce. Movarth said I should find a protector to watch over my coffin during the day. Hroggar is perfect.
Laelette came to visit me tonight. She slaked my thirst. I’ve hidden her away to let her rise as my handmaiden. I’ve spread the rumour in town that she left to join the war. Fools.
Movarth has confided his grand plan to me. I am to seduce the guardsman one at a time and make them my slaves. Then he and the others from the coven can descend upon Morthal and take the entire town. We won’t kill them. They will become cattle for our thirst. We will have an endless supply of blood and an entire town to protect us from the cursed sun.
Hroggar’s family is becoming inconvenient. I’ve told Laelette to kill them but make it look like an accident. Hroggar must be seen as innocent if he is going to be my protector.
That little fool! Laelette burned Hroggar’s family alive. I asked for an accident, and she gave me a scandal. To make matters worse, she tried to turn his little girl, Helgi. Except Laelette couldn’t even get that right. She killed the child and left the body to burn.
Something is wrong with Laelette. She keeps talking about Helgi. I think her mind has snapped. She thinks the child can still be brought back to be her companion.
The Dragonborn is in Morthal investigating the fire. I’ll have to be careful.”
Why, Divines, do I have to discover stupidity presented as some grand and clever scheme? Does this Movarth think nobody would notice if mindless thralls populated Morthal? As for defending him and his coven, a couple of Legion platoons could slaughter hundreds of thralls before lunch!
I contacted Rigmor and told her what the journal said. She was in total agreement with me that these vampires are morons! Rigmor said Olette’s description was slightly more colourful and not very ladylike.
A trapdoor and ladder led from the basement to the back of Alva’s house. She could leave the house without being seen.
When I entered Highmoon Hall, Idgrod seemed to be preparing for bed.
When I approached, she demanded, “Well, is Hroggar innocent or not?”
“Watch your tone and manner with me, my Jarl!”
Gorm went to say something, and I held up my hand, “Do not open your mouth, Gorm, or you will be picking up your teeth and bits of them for some time.”
“My apologies, Thane Welkynd. Do you have an opinion on the innocence of Hroggar?”
“He is guilty of being a vampire’s thrall, my Jarl. He did not set the fire that killed his beloved wife and daughter. Neither did he try to stop the arsonist or save his family. However, by any reasonable definition, Hroggar is completely innocent of any wrongdoing.”
“Alva is a vampire and turned Hroggar into her thrall and Laelette into a vampire. It was Laelette who burned Hroggar’s house down as she was ordered to do so by Alva. Alva was turned into a vampire by the head of a coven. His name is Movarth.”
“You have proof of this?”
“I would think that my word would be good enough. I have the legal right, as General of The Legion, and moral right, as Champion of The Divines, to deal with this threat as I see fit. I needed neither your permission nor approval to investigate. I don’t need to prove anything to continue the investigation.”
“That is true. So, what are you going to do about it?”
“I believe I know where this coven calls home. I passed an obvious vampire den some time ago. It is not far from here.”
“So why didn’t you deal with it when you first saw it?”
“I was busy wiping out The Dark Brotherhood and saving our Emperor’s life at the time. I then had to deal with the rest of that pesky civil war, including taking Morthal back from the usurpers. Then I had to save everybody on Nirn from being enslaved by The Champion of Hermaeus Mora. A minor vampire den was not high on my priority list, my Jarl.”
“Movarth was a danger to Morthal over a century ago. It seems he was not destroyed as the histories tell us.”
“He will be destroyed this time! Here, read Alva’s journal while I am gone.”
I passed Idgrod the journal, and then she asked, “If this has proof of Alva’s guilt, why didn’t you just hand it to me before?”
“Because you had no right to question my honesty or competence. You have no authority to decide what actions I take to ensure the safety of Empire citizens. I did not become your servant by accepting the title of Thane. I advise you to stay up a bit longer. If you are abed when I return, I will use my Thu’um to wake you and the rest of Morthal.”
I exited Highmoon Hall and was met by a mob of angry citizens led by Thonnir.
“What do you think you are doing, Thonnir?”
“Tell us where the vampires are! I want vengeance for my wife! Vengeance for Laelette!”
“No, you have no hope of surviving a coven of vampires and their thralls. I will not tell you where they are. I will kill them, not for vengeance, as that is shallow. No, I will kill them to protect the innocent, as is my duty as Champion of The Divines. Go home, hold your son tight and remember Laelette as she was, not how they made her.”
“I suppose you’re right. I’m not a fighting man. Go, and avenge my Laelette for me.”
“I might take the bard with me. One song from him and the vampires will kill themselves.”
I cast Shadow Walk and vanished, which elicited gasps from the mob. Then I ran towards Movarth and his coven.
As I passed the markers placed by the coven, I wondered if every Vigilant of Stendarr was blind. There might as well have been signs saying, “Daedra worshippers this way!” and big arrows to match.
At the lair’s entrance, I contacted Rigmor again.
“I am about to enter the vampire’s lair. The leader is called Movarth. Jarl Bullshitter said he was a problem more than a century ago. I will make sure he is not a problem ever again.”
“Shouldn’t you summon some help?”
“The vampires and thralls won’t be able to detect me, Rigmor. I shall have a look and decide if help is needed. I would rather not risk people unnecessarily.”
I cast Shadow Walk again before entering the vampire lair.
I ignored many giant spiders as I did not want to make any noise. They were not my targets.
I decided not to take a chance on the thralls. There is no way of telling if they were willing acolytes or victims. I hoped Hroggar survived and was sane. I knew his story and made a judgement. That is different from being outnumbered by thralls who will fight to the death to protect the vampires.
It did not take long for a sense of Déjà vu to attack my senses. The layout of Movarth’s home was eerily similar to Bloodlet Throne.
When I entered the main chamber, I found it almost identical to the one in Bloodlet Throne. I shook off the Déjà vu. I had to concentrate and ensure I had the correct coven of vampires.
Several vampires and thralls addressed Movarth by name. I had my target, and Unrelenting Force sped across the chamber to destroy it.
Movarth barely had time to register something was wrong before his soul was sent screaming to Coldharbour.
I leapt down and quickly eliminated all enemies in the chamber. Stealth was abandoned as The Dragonborn killed with efficiency and speed.
I looked up at Molag Bal’s statue and raspberried at it. It was a childish but highly satisfying gesture.
Rigmor asked, “I didn’t think vampires were amusing, so why the amusement?”
“I just eliminated the head vampire and then raspberried a statue of Molag Bal.”
A few seconds later, Rigmor said, “Olette thinks that was well done.”
“Okay, I still have a lot of enemies to eliminate. I hope Alva is here. She was not forced to become a vampire and cannot claim innocence. All vampires have a degree of free will when away from their master. Alva had many opportunities to defy Movarth. Laelette had no such chance as Alva kept her close.”
“Laelette lit the fire, but Alva was the murderer.”
“Keep us informed, my Dragonborn.”
I continued my killing without pause.
I found a well-dressed young vampire that I assumed was Alva. She was sleeping, which is odd since it was night, and she had told Hroggar that she was hunting.
I said, “Wake up, Alva. I want you to see your executioner. You can remember my face as you spend eternity in Coldharbour. I am sure Molag Bal will award you for such a spectacular failure.”
As Alva arose, a look of sadness crossed her face.
She asked, “What have you done to Lord Movarth? I can’t sense him.”
“I killed him. Perhaps you can spend eternity being tortured next to him? Won’t that be romantic!”
Alva drew her dagger and prepared a spell.
I growled, “The screams of Gwenlief could be heard all over Morthal. Let’s see how you enjoy burning?”
I plunged my sword downward from Alva’s collarbone to her stomach. She screamed as she burnt from the middle out.
She was the last of the coven.
I walked past the spiders towards the exit.
Helgi’s spirit was waiting for me, and I smiled as I approached her.
“Wulf, Mummy is calling me. She says it is okay for me to join her now. I can see where she is waiting, and it is beautiful!”
“It is a beautiful place, Helgi. All your worries will go once you are there.”
“Will Daddy join us one day?”
“He is not a bad man, so yes, when it is time, he will join you and your mummy.”
“Tell him I am sorry that I lost my dolly. Perhaps he can make another one for me?”
“I will tell him, Helgi.”
“Thank you, Wulf.”
“Thank you, Helgi. You were very brave and helped many people by helping me.”
Helgi smiled and waved goodbye. Then her spirit left Mundus and joined her mother’s in Aetherius.
Rigmor said, “I think you are smiling but with tears running.”
“Yes, Rigmor. I killed Alva, and then Helgi appeared. Her mother awaited her in Aetherius, and we said goodbye.”
“Just like Bloodlet Throne.”
“In more ways than one. I will be home soon. I want to check on Hroggar and report to the Jarl.”
“Okay. You are to head for the showers before you come anywhere near our private room.”
“Yes, Countess Ramsbottom.”
I teleported to Morthal and headed for Alva’s house.
When I entered, I found Hroggar standing and confused.
I asked, “Do you remember me, Hroggar?”
“Yes, I think so, but everything is hazy. It is hard to know what memories are real.”
“Do you know whose house this is?”
“Yes. Some of what you will remember will be hard to accept. I want you to know that you were not to blame for anything that happened. Seek help and solace in the Temple of Mara in Riften. You will find the empathy and understanding that will be needed.”
“My wife and daughter are dead, aren’t they?”
“Yes. The vampires who caused all this are dead. One of them had enthralled you.”
“Yes. Alva had your family killed. However, Helgi was not ready to leave. Her spirit helped me find the guilty and punish them. I just spoke to her as she joined Gwenlief in Aetherius. The vampires, and Molag Bal, did not claim their souls.”
“I was blamed for their deaths, wasn’t I?”
“Yes, but everybody will now know the truth.”
“How can I continue without my beloved Gwenlief and beautiful daughter? Helgi was the brightest light in the darkest of times.”
“Honour them by living. Speaking to a Priest or Priestess of Mara will aid you, as love allowed Helgi to help me, and it does not end when life does. One of Helgi’s concerns was she couldn’t find the doll you made her.”
“You told me to remember the love I poured into that doll. I recall how you helped me, but I still don’t remember who you are?”
“I am Wulf.”
“Thank you, Wulf. I want to be alone now.”
“Yes, of course. Take care, Hroggar.”
As I exited the house, heart-rending sobs wracked Hroggar, who fell to his knees and looked upwards.
I closed the door, not knowing if Hroggar would recover enough to function. He will need help, and I doubt that will be available in Morthal, a city without a temple. Perhaps Lady Mora will send a Priest or Priestess to help him. He is in a town full of idiots who will probably still blame him for the death of his family.
I entered Highmoon Hall and could see Idgrod was tired. It must be taxing being a grumpy old woman twenty-four hours a day.
“My Jarl, all members of the vampire coven are dead. That includes Alva and Movarth.”
“You entered their lair and killed them all by yourself?”
“Why are people surprised I can do such things? To be Champion of The Divines and protect the mortals of Nirn, I have to be able to kill efficiently and in great numbers. It is not the first vampire coven I have destroyed solo, and it probably won’t be the last.”
“What should we do now?”
“Ask Falion to manufacture a goodly number of Cure Disease Potions. Keep watch for possible Sanguinare Vampiris infections and administer the Cure Disease Potions as required. Collect all the thrall and vampire bodies from Movarth’s lair and burn them. You will find many victims in several pits. Have Arkay’s Rights said over them. Identify them, so their friends and family know their fate.”
“That is quite a list. Is there anything else?”
“You should make a proclamation stating Hroggar and Laelette are innocent of all crimes, including the death of Hroggar’s family.”
“Who do I name the murderer?”
“Alva because she voluntarily became a vampire. She was not compelled to carry out Movarth’s plans. Unlike Hroggar and Laelette, she used her free will to make choices.”
“What set you on the correct path to resolve the problem?”
“The spirit of Helgi. I spoke to her in the burnt house, the cemetery and Movarth’s lair.”
“Proof that the spirit world is strong in this place!”
“Helgi chose to delay her transition to her afterlife in Aetherius. When Helgi was satisfied that the murderers had been found and dealt with, she joined her mother in Aetherius. That was possible due to the willpower of a remarkable child, not some mythical spirit world! It is not the first time I have witnessed such a thing, and it is always a moving experience.”
“I see. I take it we are done here?”
“Yes, I am eager to return home and hear the laughter of children and friends. It has been a pleasure to help the people of Morthal, my Jarl. Till we meet again, may The Divines bless you and all who you serve.”
I teleported to Silverpeak Lodge. I had a quick meal whilst regaling listeners with the tale of Morthal’s vampires. I then had a shower and joined Rigmor in our private room.
After breaking our fast on Fredas, I teleported Rigmor and Felix to Bruma.
I then returned to several cities and talked to candidates for the stewardships. I had posted notices in several places in each city as we visited them and was pleased with the interest they generated.
Lakeview Manor is situated in the densely forested foothills of Falkreath Hold, overlooking Lake Ilinalta to the north. A direct line north would intersect where Rose’s camp used to be. It seems so long ago that I carried an injured Rigmor to a boat and rowed her to that camp.
Lakeview Manor is in the middle of hunting grounds for many carnivores. Bandits also seem to congregate in the general area. For this reason, a wall with battlements and towers has been constructed around the property. Three or four Falkreath guards are assigned weekly to protect the property.
With each of the remote houses, I hired two stewards. That means there will always be one person guarding the house if the other needs to travel to a city or town.
The first steward I hired for Lakeview Manor is a rather odd Argonian Master Mage called Bun-Za. He worked as a quartermaster at The College of Winterhold but got bored, so he jumped at the chance to do something different. He is a pyromaniac. Although Master of several Schools of Magicka, he enjoys Destruction the most, particularly fire-based spells. Bun-Za has exceptional organisational skills and is a formidable opponent to bandits or carnivores threatening Lakeview Manor.
Bun-Za will earn additional funds on top of his stipend by producing potions and enchanting items.
The second steward at Lakeview Manor is a Nord with the very Breton name of Llewellyn. He has been an innkeeper, and like Bun-Za, he has exceptional organisational skills. He is also an accomplished bard and chef.
I hired an additional person for Lakeview Manor. She is a Bosmer blacksmith named Nyandra. She plied her trade as part of The Imperial Legion for many years. However, she wanted to do more than make armour and swords and horseshoes.
She will make essential items to be sold by the Khajiiti caravans, such as pots, pans, utensils and other mundane items. However, Nyandra will also create original pieces that are more artistic than utilitarian to stop boredom. I liked how she wanted to diversify and do something different, so I allowed her to live at Lakeview Manor and use it as her workshop.
Heljarchen Hall sits on a rocky mountain slope in the snowy tundra of The Pale. To the south, Whiterun and the Throat of the World can be seen on a clear day, while Loreius Farm is just a short distance away. To the east and north, the wild forests of The Pale stretch far, and the slopes to the west lead higher up the mountainside to the giant camp called Stonehill Bluff and the Dwemer ruins of the Tower of Mzark.
Stonehill Bluff has several levels and many mammoths. Rigmor and I passed it once on the way to Casius’ camp, and I commented how they must be giant nobles.
The first steward I chose for Heljarchen Hall is an Alik’r warrior called Ennah. He is of noble blood but was accused, unjustly, of dabbling in necromancy. There is no greater sin in Redguard society. Ennah’s reputation was ruined. Rather than pursue revenge or struggle to clear his name, Ennah emigrated to Skyrim. He was a Lord of large estates and farms. Therefore, being a steward will be no great challenge. However, it is the first step to establishing a good reputation in Skyrim.
The other steward I chose for Heljarchen hall is Oriella Helmbolg. She has been an innkeeper, a governess to a noble’s five children and a happily married woman. He husband was a Stormcloak officer. He was killed early on in the conflict. She was sick of being a moping widow and decided to move from her home and see what opportunities there were. She wanted to work for me because she knew there was a chance to meet exciting guests. One thing I can say about The Dragonguard is that they are different!
Windstad Manor sits on the lightly forested banks at the Karth and Hjaal Rivers delta in northern Hjaalmarch. It is close to the western border of The Pale.
Morthal is a fair distance away and to the southwest. If you look west of Windstad Manor, you can see Solitude’s arch and the top of some taller buildings inside Skyrim’s capital. To the north are the Sea of Ghosts’ icy waters, and the High Gate Ruins are very close to the northeast.
Windstad Manor has a fish farm, so I chose Sonir Gjissen as a steward. She is from a family that has had several large fisheries in High Rock for generations. She managed one of those with a large, multicultural workforce. She thinks the small fish farm will grow quite rapidly. All extra income is valuable if it is used to run my orphanages. I am determined to show they don’t have to rely on charity.
The other steward at Windstad Manor is an ex-Legion scout called Umbraam Bar. Like many Orsimer, she can seem crude and uncivilised, but the truth is far different. She can read and write several languages and is knowledgeable on many topics.
Along with the new estates, I gained more housecarls. I have no doubt all of them will be approved by Vayu and join The Dragonguard.
Argis the Bulwark was assigned to me when I was appointed Thane of Markarth.
Argis’ nickname comes from his expert blocking ability when using a shield and sword. He doesn’t mind letting his opponents wear themselves out trying to break through his defences. This tactic differs from most Nord warriors who go in for the kill early in a melee. He asked Jarl Igmund to be assigned to me because he wants to help more people than being a city guard allows. He also thought the Silver-Blood corruption of Markarth’s guard would grow, and honest ones like himself would be forced to join them or leave. Argis was delighted to learn I stopped that from happening.
Calder Kjanderssen was assigned to me when I was appointed Thane of Eastmarch.
Calder was a Stormcloak officer who openly admits killing many Legionnaires in battle. However, when he heard what I said about Talos and the lies that Ulfric spoke, he confronted Ulfric and tore up his Stormcloak commission. He was scheduled to be executed for desertion and was saved by the end of the war. He was eager to be my housecarl, and I think he will do well as a Dragonguard.
Gregor Fjanssson was assigned to me when I was appointed Thane of The Pale.
Gregor’s father, Fjanss, was a sergeant under Jarl Brina during The Great War. Gregor was Captain of Dawnstar’s guards and asked to be assigned to me as housecarl for the same reason as Argis. He thought he would have greater opportunities to aid others if he travelled with me.
Gregor preferred a greatsword over a sword and shield. After sparring with him, Rigmor said we would be insane to make him abandon the greatsword. Neither Vayu nor I will question Rigmor’s assessment regarding two-handed swordsmanship.
Rayya Shifylar was assigned to me when I was appointed Thane of Falkreath.
Rayya is a Redguard and ex-Legionnaire. She was a rank-and-file soldier, whereas most Redguards are used as scouts within the Imperial Legion. She is very proud of her ancestors and religion. Like all the other housecarls, she asked to be assigned to me.
Valdimar Jurgarnsen was assigned to me when I was appointed Thane of Hjaalmarch.
Valdimar was one of the few Imperial Battlemages to survive Alduin’s attack on Helgen. He was asked to escort General Tullius to Solitude and claims that is why he lived, and nearly all his compatriots died. He got to leave the battle while Alduin was still slaughtering citizens and defenders.
Valdimar is fascinating as he is a proud Nord and a Master Mage. Most people think such a combination would be mutually exclusive since The Oblivion Crises. The high regard Empire citizens once held for mages was eliminated when The Mage Guild was unfairly blamed for the crises. Valdimar is very offensive spell oriented, but he has the skills to learn other spells quickly.
The laughter and chatter are constant within Silverpeak Lodge. At mealtimes, the racket is no different than that of a large tavern. The addition of children has made a tremendous difference, and the orphans seem surprised there are so many friendly grownups in the world.
After dealing with the vampires in Morthal, I have decided I can’t put it off any longer. Tomorrow I will visit Keeper Carcette at The Hall of the Vigilant, which is not far from Heljarchen Hall.
I will equip the new Dragonguard and take a squad of them with me. Brother Erandur is still coming to grips with a katana, so he is not ready. However, Froa is undoubtedly ready to accompany me even though she looks uncomfortable in boots.
I might even visit The Dawnguard. They claim to be more martial and inclined to violence than The Vigilants. From what I have been told, The Dawnguard are not concerned about Daedric Worship. I fear The Dawnguard might be so anti-vampire that they threaten the friendlier ones, such as Sybil Stentor. They must work within the laws of The Empire and not be vigilantes.
As I write this journal, the darkness threatening me seems like a distant nightmare. But I know it is a real thing lurking and waiting to strike again.