Luck or meddling?

Loredas, 22nd Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201

to Morndas, 24th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201

I told the group, “Isran and The Dawnguard will probably say stupid things in their bloodlust. I will tell them some truths, and hopefully, by the time they reach Castle Volkihar, contemplation will have calmed them somewhat. We will not offer to hasten their trip. Let them take carriages and have plenty of thinking time. Come on, let’s get this started.”

We entered Fort Dawnguard and had to search for Isran. We found him in the dining hall.

I held forth Auriel’s Bow, and Isran stood stunned for several seconds.

  • Wulf: Well, Isran, has the cat got your tongue?
  • Inigo: Hey, if his tongue is missing, don’t blame me!
  • Isran: The bow… you have Auriel’s Bow!
  • Wulf: Yes, and it was not easy to retrieve.
  • Isran: I’ve heard it described in tales, but I could never have imagined its beauty.
  • Inigo: A device designed to kill is suddenly beautiful because a god made it.
  • Wulf: We are offering The Dawnguard members a chance of closure. Will you fight beside us?
  • Isran: Yes. The day hasn’t been won while Harkon still walks Nirn.
  • Wulf: Then gather those who will fight beside you.
  • Isran: But what about Serana? Can she be trusted to lift a blade against her kind? Her own family?
  • Serana: Why ask Wulf? Ask me, and I will tell you how I have already killed members of the Volkihar Clan. They are not what vampires can be or should be. They are wild animals and a danger to both mortals and vampires.
  • Wulf: I trust Serana more than I trust you, Isran. You are still an unknown commodity, whilst Serana has proven herself countless times in the last few days.
  • Isran: That is a fair assessment. Let me address The Dawnguard, and then we’ll be off.
  • Wulf: Please, keep the anti-vampire rhetoric to an acceptable level. Plan for the attack at midday on the twenty-fourth. Even with the best carriages, you will be hard-pressed to meet that deadline. However, we dare not wait longer than that.

We walked to the central lobby, and Isran called out, in his deep baritone voice, “Dawnguard combatants, gather in the front lobby. Now!”

I said, “Good effort, Isran. Let me help.”

Not wanting to shake Fort Dawnguard to pieces, I moderated my Thu’um. But still, it would have been heard throughout the valley.

“DAWNGUARD COMBATANTS GATHER IN THE FRONT LOBBY. NOW!”

The Dawnguard combatants came from all parts of the fort as Isran stood in the lobby’s centre.

Isran had chosen seven of those who answered his call and made the trip to Fort Dawnguard to fight beside him. Others would drive the carriages and provide logistical support.

As The Dawnguard assembled, Serana stood in the shadows.

I advised her, “If you don’t want to hear the hatred, you could wait outside.”

“Each of them probably has ample justification for their fear and hate. They only know the type of vampire that intruded upon their lives in horrific ways. When I fight beside them, they will see that vampires can differ in outlook and morality as much as mortals. Listening to their hate will strengthen my determination to eliminate Father and the clan. I will stay.”

I nodded at Serana, then moved closer to Isran as the stragglers arrived.

When all seven had stopped whispering and asking each other questions, Isran delivered his speech.

“For too long, we’ve allowed these vampires to poison the night and kill our people! Now, we finally have the means to strike back! We now have Auriel’s Bow. The gods have favoured us, and we must answer with action!”

The Dawnguard hooted and cheered and yelled typical threats to prove their bravado. It was predictable and, in a way, sad, as the same process has been repeated countless times before. The bravado in the barracks will vanish, and the once brave will piss themselves with fear when facing the enemy.

The Dawnguard settled down, allowing Isran to continue.

“The time has come to end Harkon and his unholy prophecy! We will march on their lair and destroy those wretched abominations so they can no longer corrupt our world! This is our fight and our fate! This is the time of The Dawnguard!”

More hollering, boasting and anti-vampire dogma ensued.

I stepped forward and used my Thu’um.

“QUIET!”

Half-finished sentences were punctuated by complete silence, apart from a few tiles falling and crockery in the kitchen smashing to the ground. I had their attention.

I used a tiny bit of Thu’um to make my words sound as if spoken from the heavens.

I said, “Many, if not most, vampires did not become so voluntarily but contracted a disease and, for one reason or another, did not get cured in time. Many of those vampires chose to live a life different from that of Lord Harkon and his clan in Castle Volkihar.

Imagine you are a Divine loving Nord who finds their soul now belongs to Molag Bal, the most detestable of the Daedric Princes. No Sovngarde or other pleasant afterlife is in your future. An eternity in Coldharbour looms. When faced with this reality, some people will prove their worth to the Dark Lord and participate in the more brutal and unsavoury aspects of vampirism. It is not unlike some enslaved or imprisoned people who will become thugs and snitches. They hope they will become an asset to those in charge. If you are facing an eternity in Coldharbour, would it not be better to be part of the management than the rabble or punished? A selfish choice has been made, and those individuals deserve contempt.

However, it must be remembered that many of those inflicted with vampirism attempt to maintain a moral and righteous existence. These people realise their choice will not sit well with Molag Bal and will make their eternity in Coldharbour far more unpleasant than needed. Yet, they have the moral fortitude and courage to use their free will and live as they want, not what Molag Bal desires.

These moralistic vampires don’t want your pity or even friendship. However, they deserve your understanding and respect! Ask yourself if you would be immoral to please Molag Bal or live a moral life. Be honest when measuring your response to that question.

Auriel’s Bow is not a symbol of hatred and revenge against vampires or other people. It is a weapon used by one god to punish another. It is a means of delivering Divine Wrath.

The Divines, including my Celestial Father, Lord Akatosh, do not condone mindless violence and bigotry. Our creators have a deep and infinite love for the mortals they created. That love is not extinguished when a beloved mortal contracts a disease. Each mortal soul lost to a Dark Lord causes our gods grief like many of you who have lost loved ones to vampires. They do not ask me, their mortal champion, to mindlessly eliminate these lost souls. They trust in my judgement as to who needs to feel Divine Wrath and who needs understanding and acceptance.

We do not need Auriel’s Bow to fight vampires. We do need the certainty our actions are those of justice and not mindless violence generated by senseless hate.

I do not need to use Auriel’s Bow in our fight. It is not the best weapon I have for killing vampires. I will use the powers gifted to me by The Nine to eliminate the Volkihar Clan quickly and without mercy. Divine Wrath will be the last thing they feel on Nirn before Coldharbour becomes their reality.

The vampires in Castle Volkihar have earned Divine Wrath not because of what they are. They have earned Divine Wrath because they used their free will, a gift given to all mortals, and chose to harm other mortals created and loved by The Divines. They have broken the laws of Skyrim and The Empire. They are murderers, cannibals and parasites. I will kill them for the same reasons I kill bandits and others who prey upon the citizens of Nirn. Their status as vampires does not add or subtract from their guilt.

It is almost inevitable that Lord Harkon will be the last to fall. I will use Auriel’s Bow against that one foe, so he has eternity to remember its sting. Each arrow that strikes Lord Harkon will carry the Divine Wrath of Lord Akatosh delivered by his mortal champion. He will have time to realise the pathetic powers gifted by Molag Bal are no match for those gifted to me. He will have eternity to ponder that indisputable fact.

I doubt Molag Bal will look upon Lord Harkon favourably, for his actions have caused the reorganisation and mobilisation of Stendarr’s warriors. From this moment on, the chance that immoral vampires can function in Tamriel undetected and unmolested will be significantly reduced. I foresee Molag Bal’s wrath replacing that of The Divines once Harkon is in Coldharbour.

Vampires have always lived among us. Many vampires have proven valuable allies to The Empire. Do not hate somebody for what they are rather than what they have done! Do not let yourselves become like Harkon’s minions.

You cannot possibly hope to kill as quickly as The Dragonguard. But that does not reduce your value in the coming battle. Everyone will have shown courage, and the people of Nirn will owe you a debt of gratitude.”

Quietly, so his recruits did not hear, I said to Isran, “You are their leader. Tell them they are not to run in front of me during battle. They are not to harm any vampire children or enslaved mortals. They are to kill quickly and not deliberately prolong the suffering of a vampire. I am giving you a level of trust you have not earned. Don’t prove me the fool.”

“We shall assemble for the attack at midday of the twenty-fourth. We will follow The Dragonguard and Serana into battle. Even if they don’t manage to strike a foe with their weapon, these people need to know they did something to avenge loved ones.”

“They can all survive this if they control their hatred. Not just physically but also mentally.”

Isran and his chosen combatants exited Fort Dawnguard at a rapid pace. Their carriages are not far, so they shouldn’t collapse from exhaustion before reaching them.

When the last one closed the door behind them, I spoke to Serana.

“Are you having difficulty with all of this, Serana?”

“I thought I was strong enough to do this. But now, I’m not just sure anymore. I know I may seem carefree, but in the end, I don’t know. I guess I am trying to hide all of these feelings.”

“I can’t possibly hope to understand the conflicts you face. We will listen and talk and maybe offer a shoulder to cry on.”

“I can’t remember the last time I cried. Father always said it was a sign of weakness and a mortal flaw.”

“Your father said many untrue things, I am sure.”

“I am feeling so overwhelmed. Logically, I must follow through with this and be there if I want closure.”

“But your emotions and logic conflict?”

“Yes, and there are also practical reasons for what I am about to do. I have not fed since you released me and must do so. I also have much to think about, which is best done in isolation. Therefore, I will not see you until the morning of the twenty-fourth. Be assured, whatever decision I have made will not have been spontaneous.”

“You choose what is best for you, Serana. You have already done everything needed to prove to us or The Dawnguard who you support. We will welcome you in our home whatever decision you make.”

“Although there was only an audience of eight, what you said will make a difference. The Dawnguard will think upon it and discuss it on the way to Castle Volkihar, and your sentiment will spread.”

“I hope so. We will see you on the twenty-fourth, Serana.”

“Any suggestions where I might find some tasty bandits?”

“Head in any direction, and they will find you. A young female all alone will attract them like flies to shit.”

“That is not your most flattering analogy, Wulf, but it is true.”

Serana laughed as she made her way out of Fort Dawnguard.

I teleported the rest of us to Silverpeak Lodge. Everybody went to the kitchen to grab food or bed, depending on priorities.

Rigmor asked, “Do you think Serana will join us?”

“I think Serana is determined to show The Dawnguard a different type of vampire. She will try to join us. If she decides not to, there would be no shame.”

“Are you hungry?”

“Yes, but not for food.”

Rigmor giggled as we headed for our bedroom.

The following day, Rigmor and I headed for the outdoor spa before breaking fast. I looked up at Father’s shrine and briefly smiled. Then the vision of the avalanche invaded my thoughts, and I shuddered.

We were using the smaller spa. I had made the water’s composition the same as that in Severin Manor, as Rigmor had found it effective in soothing her back.

We splashed around for a bit then Rigmor sat on one of the benches.

“Well, my beloved, did the water help?”

“Yes, Wulf, but I am tired of carrying the reminder of those days.”

“We only ended those days a few months ago.”

“Yes, but so much has happened in those months, and Tilar Aedriath no longer haunts my dreams. The monster under the bed is dead, so why do I need a reminder every time I roll over? Even when we make love, you must carefully negotiate the scars that I bear.”

“I have never tried to remove the scars. I understand they once reminded you of what occurred and provided an incentive to continue. But yes, they are now superfluous, and perhaps we can do something about them.”

“Super flu, what?”

“Superfluous. It means redundant or no longer needed.”

“It sounds like a disease. Oh yes, poor Freda died of superfluous.”

“It is a commonly used word and not one from Roscrea.”

“You are worried about the avalanche, aren’t you? I see you keep glancing up, expecting a wall of white to descend.”

“You are returning to Bruma for the day, and the vision has removed any possibility of me enjoying time spent at Silverpeak Lodge. Therefore, I think I will spend today looking at different properties.”

“Highreach would be an easy solution.”

“But not necessarily the best. I have a plan for that town, and living there is not part of it. Silverpeak Lodge presented itself at just the right time, which is probably why I never considered the possibility of an avalanche. It was too good to refuse, and it has done as intended. We are one large family, and I want to continue that feeling wherever we call home next.”

“When you return me to Bruma, wait and see if I need to spend the day there. I will return with you if not, and we shall look at properties together.”

“Okay, that’s the plan. Let’s get some food. I am famished because some cruel person didn’t let me eat last night.”

“You are the one who dragged me into our room!”

“Yeah, right. Pffft!”

“Don’t steal my sayings, Valdr Septim!”

“Yeah, I suppose that isn’t cool.”

“I am warning you!”

“Your wig is kinda soggy.”

“I might go for the shaggy look for a change. I counted, and there are nearly a thousand wigs in your collection of brown and light brown varieties.”

“Try a different colour!”

“Nah, not yet. Perhaps one day I can go somewhere with Plays-With-Beavers and dress to suit, coloured hair included.”

I laughed as we made our way to our room. We were soon dressed and ready to join the rabble for food.

When we entered the living area, the sound of laughter and talking and merriment lifted my soul.

I saw Olette gesturing, so I went to see what she wanted. Rigmor did her usual tour of the room, happily chatting with many.

“Yes, my little street urchin?”

“Cap’n, two letters arrived by couriers while you were away. I was going to put them in your room but forgot.”

“That’s okay, Olette. Do you have them?”

Olette handed me two letters, one with the seal of High Queen Elisif. The other with the seal of Jarl Brunwulf Free-Winter of Windhelm.

I went back to my room to read the letters in relative quiet. I opened the one from High Queen Elisif first.

“Wulf, I know you don’t mind informality and will forgive my impudence.

We have an orphan crisis in Skyrim that you are trying to combat. You are doing what you can, but we need more than your current efforts to help the impoverished children of our country. I hope I can provide another resource to aid you.

The regional orphanages you have sponsored in Riften, Markarth and Solitude will house perhaps sixty to seventy orphans. You estimate Highreach will cater for another fifty to sixty. The Jarls have informed me that two hundred children need housing and education. It is hard for them to get exact numbers. I believe that number is probably conservative, if not a gross underestimation.

I agree with your assessment that if we can show orphanages to be mostly self-funding, more will be created throughout The Empire.

A large estate has recently come into our possession, and perhaps it might suit the purpose. Dragonmount was the home of General Luciher Gravimus. When he died a few months ago, he had been a retiree for over a decade, and his wife died five years ago. His two adult children are merchants who trade all over Tamriel and have homes in other provinces. General Gravimus bequeathed Dragonmount to Emperor Titus Mede II. Recently, the Emperor asked if I had a use for it. I spoke to Jarl Balgruuf, as Dragonmount is within his Hold, and he suggested I speak to you.

The castle is currently empty except for some of General Gravimus’ servants and guards. There are many dragons in the vicinity of the property, but they are passive. Security would be one of your primary concerns. The property sits atop a small mountain with steep paths leading to it. During the civil war, General Gravimus and his guards bloodied large numbers of Stormcloaks who unsuccessfully tried to reach the castle on more than one occasion.

I do not doubt that Legion engineers and artisans will aid in any construction required. General Tullius and our Emperor continually express how much is owed to you and The Dragonguard.

Similarly, security for any orphanage on that site will be provided by The Legion as it will be declared a village, not a private household.

I know this is all speculative until you inspect the property and decide its suitability. Please do so at your convenience.

My coronation date is a moving target as we try and cater for all those who wish to attend. Be assured we shall soon finalise it. Then The Dragonguard can make plans with The Penitus Oculatus for its security.

Since I am being unqueenly, the problem with Thalmor arresting Talos worshippers will be solved by Royal Decree. But you didn’t here that from me!

Your friend, High Queen Elisif the Fair.”

I am very fond of Elisif, and her informal letter exemplifies her best quality. She is a noble who cares more for her people than pomp and ceremony. Yes, her coronation will have plenty of that, but it will be for the masses who want to see such pageantry. Elisif would be happy with a simple ceremony inside Solitude’s Temple of The Divines.

Sometimes I get the feeling The Divines meddle more than they let on. A castle that might be suitable for an orphanage has suddenly become available. That smells like meddling!

I opened the letter from Jarl Brunwulf Free-Winter, and it also concerned orphans, but on a smaller and more personal scale.

“I hope this letter finds you well, shield-brother. Please forgive its length, as it is impossible to compress a man’s life into fewer words.

When I was a Legion Officer in The Great War, a young spearman in my ranks was often mentioned in messages and recommended for several medals.

The spearman was Angrenor the Quiet, a soldier who fought without fear for The Empire. He received several medals for bravery and was an inspiration to many who battled beside him.

Angrenor was, like most of the Nords under my command, a devout follower of Talos. You and I know why His Imperial Majesty agreed to The White-Gold Concordat. The average soldier did not. Subsequently, many of them were fooled by Ulfric’s lies. Sometimes I think the deaths and horrors of The Great War accomplished nothing but provide a platform for Ulfric’s rise.

Angrenor the Quiet joined the ranks of The Stormcloaks and distinguished himself in battle after battle. He faced his former comrades across the battlefield and killed them with the same skill and bravery he once employed against Dominion troops.

Angrenor was one of Ulfric’s propaganda puppets. He was used as an example of a once loyal Legionnaire who now fought for Talos. More than a few Stormcloak recruits were influenced by Angrenor’s defection.

Angrenor knew nothing of his name being used in recruitment drives. His only concern was his fellow soldiers and doing his best to fight for a cause important to him.

Angrenor was almost killed when defending injured comrades after an offensive didn’t turn out as well as expected. Any Legionnaire would have either been pensioned or offered a non-combat position within The Imperial Army. Ulfric’s Stormcloak army had no compassion or use for soldiers who could no longer fight. Angrenor found himself penniless and ostracised by the people who once praised him. He changed his name to Angrenor Once-Honoured and became a bitter and pitiful sight on the streets of Windhelm.

He says he was horrified when he heard the truth from you the day you hovered over Windhelm aboard the dragon. He realised that he had lost everything to Ulfric’s lies and lust for power. From that day onwards, he has struggled to rebuild his life and pride.

He approached me and asked for my assistance. He says you may remember him harassing Suvaris Atheron alongside Rolff Stone-Fist. He is ashamed of that incident and is concerned that you dismissed him as another racist with no redeeming qualities.

I can assure you, Wulf, that is not the case. Since that incident, I know he has aided in The Grey Quarter and defended Dunmer and Argonian against the likes of Rolff. He has recently been involved in many building projects, only accepting a fraction of what a guild artisan could charge.

Angrenor plans to redeem himself, and I think we should assist him.

Piluren was Aventus Aretino’s father and was also a spearman under my command during The Great War. He was a close friend of Angrenor, and they fought as comrades in many battles. Piluren refused to join the Stormcloaks or fight against them and continued working as a Windhelm Dock foreman. He was killed when a cargo crane toppled during the unloading of a ship.

At that time, Angrenor was popular amongst the local Stormcloak troops and aided his friend’s family with donations and moral support. Over time, Aventus’ mother, Nasia, became quite fond of Angrenor. Those who knew them thought that marriage was inevitable. However, when Angrenor was injured, he no longer had any means to help the family financially. His rejection by Ulfric sent him into a spiral of drink, and you saw the result that day he harassed Suvaris. That was less than a week after Nasia died of consumption, so you must understand his despair.

He became a different person after your revelations. He wants to adopt Aventus Aretino and Sofie Stonearm. He says if you ask either child about him, they will vouch for his empathy and how he would be a good father. Even when he had no use for them, he purchased flowers from Sofie and arranged safer sleeping quarters for her.

Therefore, I ask you to talk to Angrenor and decide if he would make a good father. If so, give him a chance to rebuild his pride and provide two orphans with a stable home. He is an expert carpenter and could repair the many defects of Aventus’ home with some funds. That would also showcase his skills and allow him to re-enter the profession he left when The Great War intervened.

Several schools in Windhelm are reopening soon. Therefore Sofie and Aventus would have educational opportunities.

Jarl Brunwulf Free-Winter.”

I needed some bacon and eggs before tackling Dragonmount and Angrenor.

Rigmor saw me re-enter the living area and came over to ask what was happening. I explained the two letters, and like me, she was suspicious about Divine intervention.

I sat and broke my fast, which was a slower process as I described The Soul Cairn to listeners with many questions.

When I took Rigmor to Bruma, a day’s worth of administrative work needed her attention. Rigmor wanted to be with us as decisions were made. She was also going to join us in the attack on Castle Volkihar. Therefore, I agreed to summon her late that afternoon. I knew Cerys would have many questions, and I didn’t mind Rigmor telling her what was happening. Sigunn never asked too many questions about what we were doing. I suppose the less she knew, the less she would worry.

When I returned to Silverpeak Lodge, I spoke to Olette once more.

She asked, “Is Rigmor back home, Cap’n?”

“Yes, but only till this afternoon. The Countess has a pile of correspondence to deal with. Bills to pay, invitations to accept or reject, diplomatically, of course. That sort of thing.”

“Listening to the chit-chat, as one does, you aren’t attacking the vampires till tomorrow. So, what are we doing today?”

“Oh, my day will revolve around you?”

“Pretty much, Cap’n.”

“Has Sofie ever mentioned a man call Angrenor?”

“Yes, she said he was one of the kindest people in Windhelm after he stopped being a drunk.”

“How was he kind?”

“He found a safe place for Sofie to sleep in The Grey Quarters. She said there were fewer predators than in the main part of Windhelm. He also sympathised with Sofie because Ulfric and The Stormcloaks ignored her after her father was killed fighting for them. The same happened to Angrenor when he got badly hurt.”

“Did Aventus ever mention him?”

“Yes. Aventus said Angrenor helped him and his mother after his father was killed. Angrenor asked Ulfric if he could adopt Aventus. Ulfric accused him of trying to steal the Aretino residence and had him physically thrown out of the palace, then sent Aventus to Riften.”

“Angrenor wants to adopt Sofie and Aventus. Please visit him with me. You are pretty good at deciphering people’s intentions.”

“So are you, Cap’n, but perhaps my street wisdom might see something you miss.”

“We might do that later today. First, I have to visit somewhere with Nafaalilargus.”

“So, when are we moving to a new place?”

“Why am I not surprised you know about that?”

“When adults start trying to be inconspicuous, ah, that is the correct word, ain’t it?”

“Yes, Olette.”

“Yeah, when adults start trying to be inconspicuous, they stick out like a dog’s nether parts. I am not allowed to say balls.”

“You snooped!”

“I am not used to being a mushroom, Cap’n.”

“Kept in the dark and fed on bullshit.”

“Yes, so, when are we moving?”

“When I find somewhere suitable. I can’t relax here anymore, Olette. Even though I don’t think what I saw in my vision will happen soon, it replays in my head every time I step outside.”

‘It has only been a month since we finished this place.”

“I know.”

“When it is time to tell the orphans, I can help.”

“I know you can, and I will be relying on you. That is why you were going to be told before the orphans.”

“While you are galivanting around with Nafaalilargus, I will discretely interrogate Sofie about Angrenor. Don’t worry, Cap’n. I know not to get her hopes up until you approve the man. She will think I am being a bit chatty.”

‘I would never question your deviousness or inconspicuousness.”

“Ooh, more adjectives for my collection!”

As I exited Silverpeak Lodge, I contemplated summoning Durnehviir. However, I decided to wait and see if he kept his word and left Valerica alone.

I telepathically warned Hashire and Sune, “I am summoning Nafaalilargus. No aggravation, please!”

Hashire replied, “I will continue to be like a silent horse sculpture that you ignore because it is just there to be pretty.”

Although Sune thought that was quite funny, Hashire’s petulance is not winning her heart.

I looked at High Hrothgar and shuddered as the vision imposed itself again.

I summoned Nafaalilargus, who approached from a reasonable height and with more grace than usual.

He landed and sunk into the snow but didn’t shake the lodge’s foundations.

Before I said a word, Nafaalilargus exclaimed, “Come, Wulf, you must see what has appeared out of nowhere. Would you believe that not all Snow Elves were killed!”

“Ahh, I know some Snow Elves still live, but what have you seen?”

“A building has appeared in the middle of my favourite hunting ground. Well, it hasn’t finished appearing. If you understand what I mean, it seems to be in more than one instance.”

“It is now and some other time, simultaneously?”

“Yes, that is accurate. But it is moving into this time and might be completely here by now. I talked to a Snow Elf there who asked if I knew you. His name is Knight-Templar Gelebor. He was not frightened by me. Perhaps he has heard that most Dov are not mindlessly violent anymore.”

“I know him and have an idea what is happening. And yes, he knows that dragons are generally peaceful at the moment. Please take me there as quick as you can.”

I clambered aboard Nafaalilargus, and he lifted from the ground with mighty beats of his wings.

He asked, “Are you going to wear your helm?”

“Why? Are you planning to crash into the ground or a mountain?”

“No.”

“Then I would like to feel the wind in my hair.”

“Unfortunately, it is foggy nearly all the way there. The views will be boring.”

We flew at tremendous speed. The fog started to clear, and I saw we were travelling along Dunmeth Pass. It led to Morrowind, and Darklight Tower, Aedriath’s place of death. The last time I headed in this direction was my first-ever flight aboard Silah. I was impressed by her speed that day. She was dawdling compared to Nafaalilargus. I know she boasted she was faster than any male, but Nafaalilargus was the largest dragon I had ever seen and had the strength to match his girth.

The fog cleared, and not far past Refugee’s Rest, an unmistakably Snow Elf structure came into view. Well, sort of, as parts of it were fading in and out of view as we circled.

Nafaalilargus said, “I will land and then leave. The time here is all over the place. But it seems more stable than when I visited earlier. You will find Knight-Paladin Gelebor outside. He did not want to enter for fear of encountering dead Snow Elves.

Nafaalilargus landed, and I climbed down.

“I might need you later to visit a place called Dragonmount near Whiterun.”

“I know of that place. There is good hunting in those grasslands, and many of my brethren call that area home.”

“I have had only one Dovah challenge me in weeks.”

“I think you have killed all the dumb and foolish. Still, each loss is felt as our numbers are not large.”

“I can feel the time shift as well. It is not as bad as the Time Wound, but still, it is unpleasant.”

“Summon me when you need me. I never did finish my hunt.”

Nafaalilargus lifted into the sky and roared. The area between Refugee’s Rest and the border of Morrowind is part of Eastmarch Hold, although no structures will be found. Darklight Tower was a disused fort and is being dismantled after the defeat of The New Order.

The broken path I walked on was not there nine weeks ago when we were on our way to kill Aedriath. Where the main building stood, we fought many Orsimer mercenaries working for The New Order.

I entered the main building, not expecting Gelebor to be inside.

The building was intact. Food sat on the tables as fresh as if placed there today. All the plants were healthy and well-maintained. There was a bit of mist in the air but no dust. Even Wujeeta would find it hard to fault its cleanliness.

I picked a door at random and found myself outside. Gelebor greeted me.

“Wulf, I am as amazed at the magic as you. I found mention of this place in the archives and a teleport spell. Some of those in stasis have been told to assemble here. I expected to find rubble or worse.”

“It has been shifted in time.”

“What?”

“It is just completing the process and still synchronising with this time. It has encountered slight changes in the terrain’s contour as it does so. Those changes have resulted in some broken pavement. However, my brief view inside suggests the interior has fared better.”

“I did not know what would be inside. I expected piles of dead Snow Elves, their corpses as fresh as the flowers, food, and water.”

“There may be corpses. I only had a brief look.”

“A curious dragon was surprised this building was here. He was equally shocked to find a living Snow Elf. I cannot pronounce his name.”

“Nafaalilargus. He is a friend of mine.”

“He left here less than an hour ago. Is your residence nearby?”

“No, he travelled via the ethereal plane to my house, and then we flew here.”

“And you have fought and defeated many of his kind?”

“Too many. I do not like killing dragons. Their soul is lost, and they cannot return to Nirn in future Kalpa.”

“I can see why my brother was not much of a threat. Unfortunately, the history of this place is vague. It was the residence of one of our nobles who spent considerable time with the Aedra worshipping Ayleid and Daedra worshipping Chimer. When it became apparent that we would lose the war with the Nords, he had his staff and guards put into stasis and this building hidden. You are saying it was placed elsewhere in time?”

“I would have to study it closer, but I believe it was placed outside linear time. It was probably stored in a pocket plane of Oblivion. Something has triggered its re-entry into Mundus and linear time. Most likely, that trigger was you using the teleport spell.”

“Perhaps that has released those in stasis as well?”

“There is that possibility.  If I were a noble worried about my staff and guards, I wouldn’t hide them all in the same place. They may be scattered over this part of Skyrim. It is barren, with no permanent residents. But he would not leave them without a way to find their way home.”

“Me reading the spell was proof that Snow Elves still lived; therefore, the war must have ended with our victory or a truce.”

“That would be the logic.”

“Any who come out of stasis and make their way here are in danger. It will not be long before curious Nords come to investigate the reports of a strange building suddenly appearing.”

“There is a dilapidated watchtower nearby called Refugee’s Rest. Many Dunmer visit it as it is an important symbol of their forced exodus from Morrowind when Red Mountain erupted. They would be the most likely to see and investigate this place. As a route into Morrowind, this road is one of the safest, but there are hardly any caravans at the moment. Still, we can’t leave any Snow Elf to arrive here without protection. I will inspect the building and perhaps leave some Dragonguard behind to protect your people.”

“You are welcome to inhabit if you so desire. My people might never be able to live here safely.”

“I think they will, Knight-Templar Gelebor. They will be citizens with the rights and protections thereof.”

“Well, until that time, it would be best if any Snow Elf who came here was directed to the Chantry.”

“Then I suggest you visit occasionally and tell them that. I doubt they will listen to anybody but a member of their race.”

“There are many records of my people being placed in stasis. Even if they all survived and made it to safety, there would not be enough to make our race viable. But at least we can number enough that we shall not be so easily erased from memory as the Nords once hoped.”

“I will do my best to ensure the true story of Ysgramor’s butchery is known to the young of this country. It is long past the time for him to move from hero to despot in people’s minds.”

“I shall return in a few days and see if my people have returned here.”

Gelebor unrolled a scroll, read the incantation and then vanished.

I decided to have a look through the building. I saw an answer to the problem of where we move next. I don’t know if it would be a permanent home, but it was more than adequate till something else presented itself. Nobody would harass Snow Elves living amongst The Dragonguard.

I summoned Nafaalilargus, and he soon appeared out of the ether. We then made our way to Dragonmount.

When we appeared over Dragonmount, I used my Thu’um to reassure its residents.

“I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. I have been asked by Her Highness, Queen Elisif the Fair, to inspect Dragonmount. Please cooperate and be assured we are not planning on evicting anybody.”

Flying around Dragonmount’s perimeter filled my mind with possibilities.

We landed at the foot of Dragonmount, and I could see how a small contingent of guards thwarted multiple attacks by numerous Stormcloaks.

When the castle’s steward gave me a tour of the building, I became convinced. Dragonmount was an ideal place for a large orphanage and school. It would easily double the number of children we can take off the streets and give a home. It had so much room that I would also make it the home of The Dragonguard.

In my imagination, not a vision, I could see myself sitting among a noisy horde of orphans with a smile as wide as my face. Without consciously searching for it, I had found an answer to my soul’s craving. Dragonstone and the other orphanages would be where I watch the equality and empathy Nirn needs take its roots with the disadvantaged children and spread across its surface.

I avoided questions from the staff about what was planned for their castle, but I assured them they need not fear eviction.

I teleported to Solitude and told Elisif of my decision. She would arrange a meeting with some architects and engineers to discuss what could and would be done.

I returned to Silverpeak full of enthusiasm. Olette and I told the orphans that we had to move and why. There were no tears as they knew we were staying together.

It was not yet time to broach the possible adoption of Sofie by Angrenor. Before that can happen, I need to be satisfied he would not let her down.

I explained everything to Rigmor via our amulets, and she was excited by the ideas. They were met with equal enthusiasm by my friends over our evening meal.

I summoned Rigmor not long after supper. She and Olette would accompany me to inspect the Snow Elf estate early tomorrow morning.

Depending on how the events at Castle Volkihar pan out, we would visit Windhelm later in the day or early the day after. We would talk to Angrenor and probably visit Honourhall Orphanage. There we would finally have a tour and speak to Aretino.

Rigmor and I retired to our room, and then Father contacted us via our amulets.

“Rigmor and Wulf, please come to the Aetherius room.”

“Yes, Father, we will be there shortly.”

Rigmor asked, “What could your father want with us?”

“I have no idea. But Father rarely summons me like that, so we had better make haste.”

Rigmor held my hand, and I willed us into my Aetherius room.

Father was already sitting, so we joined him.

  • Talos: Thank you for being prompt. I hope I wasn’t intruding.
  • Wulf: No, Father, we had just finished our supper.
  • Talos: Lord Akatosh, or Auri-El, or whatever way you want to address the AKA shards, has opened the floodgates, as it were.
  • Rigmor: Floodgates?
  • Talos: He has set a precedent, changed the rules, or set a dangerous example.
  • Rigmor: Oh, the assistance Lord Akatosh requested on behalf of The Betrayed was extraordinary and might be mimicked by other Divines.
  • Talos: It is easy to tell you have been up to your neck in Cyrodiil politics. But it wasn’t just for The Betrayed. It has been decided we must be more proactive in assisting Wulf. If he had harmed The Betrayed and found their true nature, it would not have helped.
  • Wulf: You are doing what you can to stop another episode of epic moping.
  • Talos: Son, nobody can carry your burden without scars.
  • Rigmor: Well, suddenly deciding to help Wulf is akin to closing the gate after the horse has bolted.
  • Wulf: I am in danger of dying from metaphor overdose.
  • Rigmor: Relax, and don’t get your knickers in a twist.
  • Wulf: Aaargh….
  • Talos: Lord Akatosh asked me to thank you for what you did, Wulf. Not only did you leave The Betrayed unharmed, but you also gave Vyrthur a chance for redemption. Vyrthur died in this room whilst staring at Aetherius. His soul was cleansed, and he now resides in Aetherius. The guilt he carries was deemed sufficient punishment, and he certainly didn’t deserve an eternity in Coldharbour.
  • Wulf: That is a fair outcome.
  • Talos: Eliminating Lord Harkon and the Volkihar Clan will hurt Molag Bal somewhat but not a huge amount.
  • Wulf: Every bit helps.
  • Talos: So that is it. I just wanted to pass on the thanks of The Nine.
  • Wulf: Father, you could have sent your avatar to do that. Why did you want us in Aetherius?
  • Talos: Maybe I just wanted to see my son in the flesh?
  • Wulf: Father, you could never fool Mother nor me.
  • Talos: Okay, I wanted to offer Rigmor a gift. I have wanted to do it for some time, but restraints were placed upon us.
  • Rigmor: Until Lord Akatosh asked for a big favour.
  • Talos: Exactly.
  • Rigmor: I am honoured, Hjalti, but I don’t require anything that needs the powers of a god to gift me.
  • Talos: What if I were to remove the scars that have plagued you for years? Have they not served their purpose?
  • Rigmor: Not all of my scars were inflicted by Aedriath and his cronies. Some I have earned in battle or when evading Aedriath and his hunting parties. Those scars are part of my story that I want to keep. The scars on my back added to the reasons I sought revenge, and they motivated me to push myself to the limits so I could exact that revenge. More importantly, they made me more determined to find Mother. The thought that she may have endured the same, and maybe still was, motivated me far more than any thought of revenge. But yes, Hjalti, they have served their purpose.
  • Talos: Rigmor, we are in Aetherius, and I am a Divine. I might be newer than the others, but I can manipulate Creatia. Well, what do you think?

I looked at Rigmor, who wriggled and jiggled and then smiled.

  • Rigmor: I thought I had learned to ignore the itching and burning, but I hadn’t. I had just pushed them to the back of my mind. Now they are gone, and the difference is amazing!
  • Wulf: That is a beautiful gift, Father!
  • Talos: You might have eventually removed them in time with Magicka, potions and poultices, but now the scars are gone, and like Aedriath, they should remain as memories only, not an annoying reality.
  • Rigmor: Thank you, Hjalti. I don’t know what I did to earn your aid, but I am grateful.
  • Talos: You make Wulf smile and ease his worries. That, to me, is a gift beyond measure.
  • Wulf: Okay, what is my present?
  • Talos: Nothing. But I am sure we can find a dangerous and very unpleasant task for you soon.
  • Wulf: Would I be greedy if I asked for two?
  • Talos: No need. There should be plenty in your future.
  • Wulf: Mother always said I was spoilt.
  • Rigmor: That is unusual armour, Hjalti.
  • Talos: Only a few sets were made and issued to senior Colovian officers. Wulf had a leather set that he outgrew.
  • Wulf: I loved that armour!
  • Talos: Okay, that is it. You can return to saving Nirn and the mortals while I prepare for a scolding from Lord Akatosh.
  • Rigmor: Wait till he has finished his rant and then whisper, ‘Betrayed and Wulf.”
  • Talos: Wise advice, Rigmor. I could handle a verbal scolding. Alessia gave me enough practice. But with Divines, it is like somebody yelling inside your head.

Father and I hugged, and then I willed us back to our room in Silverpeak Lodge.

Rigmor and I retired to bed and spent some time making sure the scars were gone and discovering new ticklish spots along the way.

The following day, Rigmor and I were in the large spa room, and I couldn’t help staring at Rigmor’s back.

Olette came over and exclaimed, “Your scars, Rigmor. They’re gone!”

“Yes, Lord Talos removed them.”

“But the scars on your face are still there.”

“And some other scars here and there also remain. I earned those in battle. They are part of my story. I was in control when they were earned, and they will fade in time. The back scars only reminded me of the time I was helpless, and they never stopped hurting.”

“But you weren’t helpless, Rigmor. You beat them with your determination.”

“My Nord stubbornness.”

“Like a mule with a headache.”

“Okay, be careful with the metaphors!”

Olette giggled and then leapt into the water.

We had a chat while soaking.

  • Olette: Sofie is quite fond of Angrenor. She said he would buy flowers from her, which made him happy. But she knew he was spending coin that should have purchased a meal or two. He was going hungry, so she didn’t have to.
  • Rigmor: What did he do with the flowers?
  • Olette: He would give one at a time to random sad people he saw. It didn’t matter their race. When Sofie asked him, Angrenor explained that even if one in a thousand smiled at the flower, it was worth the effort.
  • Wulf: So far, he sounds like a decent person who was treated poorly by those he admired. Unlike those ratbag urchins in Riften. They are rotten apples, every one of them!
  • Olette: I heard they were terribly cute and could con any adult into adopting them.
  • Rigmor: I say we wear matching furs today, Olette.
  • Olette: That is a great idea! If we’re going to freeze to death, we might as well look good!
  • Rigmor: Notice I am only growing my hair this long whilst using wigs for disguise. Otherwise, I have to tuck too much hair underneath, which looks lumpy.
  • Olette: Like Wulf’s head where they dropped him on it.
  • Rigmor: Exactly! People might think I am an idiot or something with a lump like that.
  • Olette: They would think you dribble a lot and randomly yell Albatross.
  • Wulf: I could take Skritch and Meeko instead.
  • Olette: No, you couldn’t. You need our expert advice and would be lost without it.
  • Wulf: True, so let’s get moving. You two will take ages to get ready.
  • Rigmor: Food first!
  • Olette: Some boring clothes first. Then some food followed by fancy clothes.
  • Rigmor: Of course.

 After stuffing our faces, the ladies went off to prepare. I warned them to be quick as we only had a couple of hours before midday. As I waited, I noticed Taku talking to Meeko.

“No, Meeko, I am sorry. You can’t come with me today. I am meeting a young lady and want to make an excellent first impression.”

“Woof?”

“Yes, I know some ladies like dogs. Usually the little, sit on your lap, non-drooling type of dog.”

“Woof!”

“Yes, you could sit on somebody’s lap if they never wanted to walk again. And you can occasionally control your drool, but that is not guaranteed. One sniff of something delicious, and it’s a drool waterfall.”

“Woof!”

“Listen, I am sure somebody will take you out today, and I am sorry you are bored.”

The ladies approached in matching furs. We had purchased them from Radiant Raiment in Solitude.

Meeko looked glum, so I asked, “I wonder if Meeko would like to accompany us today?” Meeko leapt up, and his excited yips, accompanied by an enthusiastic wagging of his tail, was all the answer I needed.

I teleported us to barely inside the entrance of what I decided to call Snow Lodge. Not an overly original name but suitable. I was relieved that I could not sense any time anomalies.

Olette stood with her hands on her hips as she looked around.

  • Wulf: Well?
  • Rigmor: It is gold and white like the Inner Sanctum!
  • Olette: There are not enough dining chairs, and I know Wujeeta will complain about the amount of sweeping needed.
  • Wulf: Lucky for Wujeeta, she has an assistant sweeper named Olette. As for the dining chairs, this is not the main dining hall.
  • Olette: Can you cram everybody into the main dining hall?
  • Wulf: No, but people can choose where they eat. It will be dynamic, like in Silverpeak Lodge.
  • Olette: Okay, but I hope it is noisy like at Silverpeak.
  • Rigmor: When you put two or more Dragonguard together, it is guaranteed to be noisy.
  • Olette: True.
  • Meeko: Woof!
  • Rigmor: What does testing mean?
  • Meeko: Woof!
  • Rigmor: Okay, testing, testing, one, two, three means nothing either.
  • Meeko: Woof.
  • Rigmor: Oh, you wanted to test the acoustics. Well?
  • Meeko: Woof.
  • Rigmor: It echoes enough to be suitably annoying, so it gets your approval.
  • Meeko: Woof!
  • Wulf: Come and look outside and see if it jogs any memories.

We exited the front door, and a husky and her puppy trotted to us. Olette made a fuss of them, and Meeko communicated with them as Hashire does with horses.

Olette sat down, patted the mother and then looked my way.

  • Wulf: Okay, Olette, what is their story?
  • Olette: Revna and her mate, Toke, were owned by a hunter who unfortunately slipped on ice and banged his head so hard he died. They have stayed in the area ever since, and Revna is looking after their son, Njal, while Toke hunts. He left before this ‘thing’ appeared. She likes it as it makes the ground warm and free of ice and snow. She prefers having the overhead sky over the darkness inside a cave or under an overhang.
  • Meeko: Woof.
  • Rigmor: She doesn’t want a new owner but would like to stay here because of the warmth. I don’t see any problem with that, do you, Wulf?
  • Wulf: The look on Olette’s face tells me I had better not have a problem with that.
  • Olette: You’re a big softie and wouldn’t shoo them away if I were not here.
  • Wulf: Meeko, tell them they are welcome to stay and free to come and go as they choose.
  • Meeko: Woof.
  • Wulf: Okay, that is settled, so let’s continue our tour.

Rigmor asked, “Why is the pavement broken?”

“The land underneath is a different shape than when the pavement was laid. When the house emerged now, that led to the cracked pavement.”

“Is the house damaged?”

“No. I assume the builders levelled the land before laying the foundations of the house and that levelling has remained. Let’s see if you remember where we are in a minute.”

We walked to the end of the path and atop a slight rise. Refugee’s Rest came into view.

Rigmor gasped and said, “On the way to kill that bastard, weird undead attacked us next to that old tower.”

“Yes, there was a strange zombie, not one of Inigo’s zombies but a real one. There was also a skeletal dog.”

“And Meeko wanted to know if the dog ever chewed on its leg.”

“Okay, what happened not far past that tower?”

“There was an overturned supply wagon surrounded by Orsimer mercenaries.”

“Look at the location of Snow Lodge.”

Rigmor turned and gasped once more.

She exclaimed, “Right where that house is, we battled and killed those Orsimer!”

“That was about nine weeks ago.”

“It seems like nine years.”

Olette asked, “What’s inside those little houses?”

Rigmor ran to one and replied, “There is only one way to find out!”

We entered the house, and to our surprise, it had more than one floor. A dining table for two still had meals on plates. Since they had been sitting there since yesterday, they were not as fresh as they would have been when Snow Lodge first appeared.

Downstairs was a bedroom with two single beds.

  • Olette: I don’t think lovers or married people lived here.
  • Rigmor: Some couples prefer single beds.
  • Wulf: Especially if one of them is tired of their partner stealing the blankets.
  • Rigmor: I have learned to accept your thievery.
  • Olette: I don’t think Cap’n would be the guilty party.
  • Rigmor: And to think I almost began to like you, Olette.
  • Meeko: Woof!
  • Wulf: I am not surprised you take Rigmor’s side. We established long ago that you are a traitor.
  • Rigmor: Who is a smart boy? Meeko is a smart boy! Yes, he is!
  • Wulf: You do realise that Meeko could be thousands of years old?
  • Rigmor: That doesn’t stop you from being cute and smart, does it, Meeko?
  • Meeko: Woof!
  • Wulf: If you think this is sickeningly sweet, Olette, you should have seen her with Mr Bear.
  • Olette: I think I will go upstairs before I gain weight just listening to it!

Olette headed upstairs. A few seconds later, she yelled, “And don’t think I am ignorant of your plan, Meeko. There is only room for one cute child in this family!”

Meeko did a good sinister chuckle, which made Olette laugh out loud.

When we went upstairs, I asked Olette, “Doesn’t that steak look yummy, considering it is thousands of years old.”

“If you don’t want this morning’s bacon, eggs, sausages, blood pudding, fat-dipped bread, beans, tomatoes and coffee projectile vomited all over the place, you will refrain from such remarks.”

“You ate all that?”

“I am feeding a growth spurt. If only my breasts kept up with my height!”

We decided to explore another of the little houses to see if it was the same.

It had three floors, a double bed and a large spa.

  • Olette: This is a married couple’s house!
  • Wulf: I will offer this one to Vayu and Celestine.
  • Olette: Vayu has been Celestine’s fiancé for a long time, hasn’t he?
  • Wulf: Yes. The reason they haven’t married is Celestine’s noble status. People in High Rock get quite serious about who nobles are allowed to marry. If Vayu and Celestine married without her father’s approval, Vayu would be fighting off assassins by the shipload.
  • Olette: But it is okay for them to knock boots?
  • Rigmor: High Rock has a different moral code than Cyrodiil, which differs from Skyrim. Being under the banner of The Empire does not mean abandoning national traditions. Ulfric used that lie to recruit people. The Empire did not try and change how Nords lived. They did allow The Dominion, or more specifically, The Thalmor, to try and dictate how Nords live.
  • Wulf: If Celestine were to fall pregnant, it would be assassin time again for Vayu.
  • Olette: None of this is mentioned in the Ten Commands of the Nine Divines?
  • Wulf: No, they don’t mention fidelity, homosexuality, virginity or promiscuity. Codes of morality within The Empire tend to have deep historical roots and little to do with religion. I find a marriage for social status highly offensive and opposite to Lady Mara’s teachings.
  • Olette: So, it is a habit and a reluctance to change, like, for example, the Nord hatred for Mer? You told me that most of them would not know where that originates.
  • Wulf: They don’t know the origin or question its validity. Mum and Dad hated Mer, so it must be the right thing to do, no questions asked.
  • Olette: The ‘Skyrim is for the Nords!’ morons.
  • Rigmor: They are one example.
  • Olette: It should be up to couples what they accept in their relationship. As long as they are not causing harm to others, why should others care?
  • Rigmor: If you are raised to believe a set of values, it is natural to be offended by those that don’t. In multicultural societies, we must accept differences. However, some people rebel against that concept. In Celestine and Vayu’s case, the marriage for status part of High Rock culture poses the problem.
  • Wulf: Olette, do you know what coverture laws are?
  • Olette: No, but I can tell they annoy you by your tone.
  • Wulf: Rigmor was given her title as an apology from His Imperial Majesty for how The Thalmor persecuted her family. It will never bring back her father or return the years Sigunn lost in enslavement or erase the horrors. But still, the title was earned.
  • Rigmor: Compensation is an admission that an injustice was committed. Mum and I would have been pleased with a written apology and restoration of Dad’s reputation.
  • Olette: The recognition of the injustice helps more than any monetary gain.
  • Rigmor: Exactly.
  • Wulf: Under the coverture laws of Cyrodiil, everything a woman owns becomes the property of the male she marries. That includes titles. Therefore, if I wed Rigmor, I would become Count of Bruma, and Rigmor would no longer be Countess. Rigmor would no longer own her castle or have any right to rule. She would have a fancy title, but she would be at the mercy of my decisions, as would Bruma’s citizens. Rigmor would not have access to her wealth, for it would all belong to me. I could do what I wanted, such as dismiss servants loyal to Rigmor and even expel Sigunn from the castle.
  • Olette: That’s terrible! What if Rigmor married a woman? That is still allowed in Cyrodiil.
  • Rigmor: I would retain my title, but without producing bastards, I would have no heir. Bastards are not guaranteed to inherit the title.
  • Wulf: Even when I am allowed to join Rigmor in Cyrodiil, I will find it hard to marry her with the coverture laws in place. It would simply be wrong according to my morality.
  • Olette: Now I am angry, so let’s talk about something more pleasant. What are you reading, Rigmor?
  • Rigmor: I have no idea what language this book is in, but the pictures are superbly drawn and very detailed!

Olette came over to look, and when Rigmor turned the page, there was a well-rendered scene of an orgy. Rigmor quickly placed the book on the shelf as Olette pealed with laughter.

We exited the small house and did a circuit of the main house. We decided a few more stables were required.

There was evidence of destroyed structures. What their purpose was, we don’t know.

At the back of Snow Lodge, the path we travelled to Darklight Tower meandered through the trees.

Rigmor said, “I am not getting any higher, Wulf. I do not want to see that place ever again!”

“I agree. The Legion is dismantling it. It serves no purpose and ended up as another base for hostiles.”

“Good riddance!”

“Despite the removal of your scars, what they did to your family can never be forgotten. I don’t know if sufficient justice will ever be served.”

“We all know that The Dominion was aware of The New Order’s plans. They are just as guilty but will never be punished.”

“That is the reality of war, Rigmor. And despite the White-Gold Concordat, we are still at war with The Dominion. If there is ever going to be a genuine, lasting peace between us, we shall have to forgo punishing the guilty.”

“I often talk to the normal Dominion citizens, who are no different than us. However, I can’t envisage a day where I could be civil to The Thalmor.”

“Neither can I. However, if that little girl in the wheat field is to become a reality, we will have to find a way or eliminate The Thalmor. I don’t think the latter is possible or desirable, even with my hatred for them.”

“I am enjoying today, so let us keep going before the thought of those arseholes ruins it.”

Olette listened intently to our discussion while scratching Meeko’s ear. I have no doubt she will mull over the dilemma. I will be interested to hear her perspective, which may take days to formulate.

We headed for another of the smaller houses.

When we entered, there was a smell of decay. Rotten bedrolls littered the floor, and the lower level was flooded.

I said, “Olette and Rigmor, please stay up here. I can guess what is below, and you don’t need to see it.”

I dived into the water and was surrounded by evidence of the mindless Nord hatred of Mer that still exists. Many skeletons of adults and children were interred in the destroyed home. The smashed bones are evidence of the violence inflicted upon them. There were very few cuts to the bones, as would be found if mercifully stabbed by sword or spear. These people, Snow Elves, were smashed to pieces by blunt force weapons. Their wounds were well in excess of what was required to kill.

I quickly left the house with a concerned Rigmor and Olette in tow.

I stood silently at the entrance to Snow Lodge and battled to control my anger and despair. Rigmor’s presence, Our Quiet, and Olette’s hand in mine allowed me to do so.

  • Olette: What did you see, Cap’n?
  • Wulf: The people who placed Snow Lodge in stasis left evidence of what occurred. That house is a monument to the violence the Snow Elves suffered. Oh, how I would love to take Ysgramor inside and ask him to justify the brutality inflicted upon the innocent!
  • Rigmor: Are you okay? I was afraid for you when you came out of the water.
  • Wulf: I am okay now because you, Our Quiet, and a particular street urchin are here to remind me that evil is the minority.
  • Olette: I have seen what people can do to each other, Cap’n. Some of the bodies I saw in Riften were evidence of violence and hatred beyond the desire to kill. I don’t understand.
  • Wulf: There are many reasons why such hatred exists. All I can do is try and prevent as many of its consequences as I can. I cannot afford to feel guilt when I fail occasionally. That was my downfall after the slaughter at the temple.
  • Olette: You have your friends to help, which must count for something.
  • Wulf: Yes, they are invaluable, so let’s check out the rest of their new home, shall we?
  • Meeko: Woof!
  • Wulf: Yes, I know you are always available for hugs.

We entered Snow Lodge and studied the throne.

  • Wulf: I like that idea. I can sit on my throne, and all you lesser beings will look up to me in awe!
  • Olette: Should we shatter his delusion, Rigmor?
  • Rigmor: No. Wulf might realise his patheticness and start crying.
  • Olette: Is patheticness a real word?
  • Rigmor: I am a Countess, peasant, so if I say it is a real word, it is!
  • Olette: Of course. Let me kiss your feet as a grovelling apology.
  • Rigmor: Eww!
  • Olette: Hehe, I knew that would get ya!
  • Wulf: Come, lesser beings, we have more to inspect.

A stairway behind the throne led to the main living area.

  • Rigmor: That reminds me of the table in High Hrothgar.
  • Wulf: Fortunately, it is a lot smaller and far more colourful. I think it is where the Snow Lodge’s owner discussed things with his stewards and maybe visiting dignitaries.
  • Olette: If I had one, it would be round.
  • Rigmor: Why?
  • Olette: Well, there would be no head of the table. All would be equal.
  • Wulf: Then the unofficial ranking would be according to how close to you each person sat.
  • Olette: What if the table was round, and I sat in the middle by myself?
  • Rigmor: Then that would be the same as sitting at the head of the table.
  • Olette: How about if we drew straws to determine the seating positions before each meeting?
  • Wulf: That would work until somebody decided another was getting the prime spot too often. They would suspect cheating and foul play. Stabbings and poisonings would soon follow!
  • Rigmor: That was a bit melodramatic, Wulf.
  • Olette: Hehe. It is a good plot for a novel and worth expanding upon. If only I could be bothered.

We entered the main dining hall.

  • Olette: Wow, this is more like it! I can imagine the noise already!
  • Wulf: There are smaller tables upstairs.
  • Rigmor: And a bar!
  • Wulf: I knew that would be the first thing you noticed.
  • Rigmor: It wasn’t the first, but it is the most important.
  • Olette: I think tables to sit and eat upon are more important than a bar.
  • Rigmor: But you are still a naïve and innocent child who is yet to discover the pleasures of mead and ale!
  • Olette: I have been drunk, Rigmor. It was fun till the hangover. Then I wanted to drown myself in Riften’s canal. Luckily my sense of smell still worked and convinced me it was a bad idea.
  • Rigmor: Who made you drink alcohol?
  • Olette: Nobody. I wanted to understand why some people seemed determined to be pickled all the time. I thought there must be some euphoria involved. There kinda was, but when that wore off, pure misery came to visit. Nah, never again!
  • Rigmor: Well, I am willing to suffer the hangovers!
  • Wulf: What about the people mauled when they say good morning to a hungover Rigmor?
  • Rigmor: They die for a good cause.

We found some enormous barrels of potent alcohol.

Rigmor sampled the drink and then asked, “It doesn’t taste bad. Could you teleport a few barrels to Bruma for me?”

“Ahh, no would be the answer.”

“Party pooper!”

I showed the ladies a dormitory that would sleep sixteen but could be easily changed to cater for more people.

  • Olette: It is certainly more luxurious than Silverpeak’s dormitory!
  • Rigmor: I think the partitions and separation of beds might make it less stinky and noisy.
  • Olette: I have been sleeping next to the orphans. They are just as farty as the adults.
  • Wulf: Flatulent is the polite term, Olette.
  • Rigmor: But farty is more fun.
  • Meeko: Woof!
  • Olette: Your farts don’t smell? Meeko, they are enough to make the dead spew!
  • Wulf: Meeko knows that and is proud of his skill.
  • Rigmor: Farty and spew? I don’t know if I should blame Wulf for your colourful vocabulary.
  • Olette: Using slang and colloquialisms is better than swearing, no matter how odd or their origin.
  • Rigmor: True.

Snow Lodge’s armoury was as extensive as Silverpeak’s. My companions immediately started to yawn and dragged me away.

There was plenty of mage equipment.

As with the armoury, the ladies dragged me away from the beautiful workroom.

As we approached the large indoor spa, I warned Meeko, “Do not go in the water. We don’t want the filters being clogged by your hair before we check they are operating correctly!”

Surrounding the spa were six private bedrooms with single beds.

  • Olette: Hehe. These rooms are convenient for people who need special ‘alone time’.
  • Rigmor: Olette, sometimes your mind is that of a deviant!
  • Olette: What? Self-pleasure is a natural and healthy part of life!
  • Wulf: It can make you go blind.
  • Olette: Oh no, who turned the lights out?
  • Rigmor: Well, laugh all you like, but these rooms are for guests!
  • Olette: Horny ones!
  • Rigmor: I give up. You two are incorrigible.

We heard a splash and walked to the edge of the spa. Meeko was happily swimming in the centre of the spa.

“I told you not to swim in the spa!”

“Woof!”

“You want us to believe you managed to fall into the centre of the spa and not the edge?”

“Woof?”

“You cannot hypnotise me with those innocent doggy eyes. Come on. We have more to look at.”

The children’s bedroom was just as luxurious as the rest of Snow Lodge.

  • Olette: The orphans will love this. Can I have a bed in here as well?
  • Wulf: Yes, of course. We will have to look around a bit and see if there are any spare beds this size.
  • Olette: It doesn’t matter if it is an adult bed.
  • Rigmor: I can’t believe how much space there is in every room!

The main bedroom is lovely but could do with some personalisation for Rigmor and me.

There is an alcove off the main bedroom containing a coffin and Reclamation shrines.

  • Wulf: They must have had Chimer guests and the occasional vampire visitor.
  • Olette: Cap’n, I have no idea what Chimer are.
  • Wulf: They were a race of Mer, known as The People of the North. They occupied what is now called Morrowind, which was initially called Resdayn. In 1E700, they incurred the wrath of Lady Azura. She changed their skin colour from gold to blue/grey and their eyes red. The Chimer became the Dunmer.
  • Olette: What did they do to piss Azura off?
  • Rigmor: What did they do to upset Lady Azura?
  • Olette: That’s what I asked! Oh, it wasn’t very ladylike. Let me try again.
  • Rigmor: More mocking?
  • Wulf: Well, you do invite it sometimes, my beloved.
  • Olette: Excuse me, good sir, could you please tell me what the Chimer did to upset Lady Azura?
  • Wulf: Certainly, milady. The Chimer worshipped three Daedric Princes, including Lady Azura. Then three cheeky Chimers turned themselves into gods using Lorkhan’s heart. They usurped the Daedra as the Chimer’s religious leaders, which annoyed Lady Azura somewhat. Then another Chimer dared to prove Lady Azura was not omnipotent!
  • Olette: Oh my! I assume she was most upset?
  • Wulf: She was mightily pissed off!
  • Rigmor: Why do I bother?
  • Wulf: That, Rigmor, is one of those unfathomable mysteries.
  • Olette: Rigmor, your mother was a teacher. It would help if you learned from her how to control unruly children. Of course, those techniques would not help when dealing with me, but perhaps they could bring Wulf into line.
  • Rigmor: That is an excellent suggestion!

We quickly inspected the gardens.

Then we teleported back to Silverpeak Lodge.

Rigmor changed into her armour. There was no sign of Serana, but she still had time to make an appearance. I did not have time to visit the Jarl, so I wrote some edicts as Thane that claimed Snow Lodge as a property of the Hold.

I recruited Vayu, and he joined Rigmor, Olette, Meeko and me in Snow Lodge.

  • Wulf: I want us to move here as soon as possible. From this point on, there has to be a squad of Dragonguard here at all times. People who speak Dwemeris would be most helpful if Snow Elves arrived.
  • Vayu: Okay. What needs to be done?
  • Wulf: All the foodstuff here needs to be destroyed. It looks fresh, but I wouldn’t risk it.
  • Rigmor: The alcohol will be okay!
  • Vayu: Relax, Rigmor. I will not destroy the booze.
  • Wulf: The place is relatively clean, but I advise washing all the linen, utensils, etcetera.
  • Vayu: Yes, otherwise, people will worry about items thousands of years old.
  • Wulf: There is a separate three-story house. I want that to be your and Celestine’s residence.
  • Vayu: Our own house! That is so cool!
  • Wulf: My beloved, how come you don’t tell others off when they use your expressions?
  • Rigmor: Unlike you, they sound cool when they say cool.
  • Olette: She has a point, Cap’n.
  • Rigmor: How long do you think you will reside here?
  • Wulf: Longer than a month, I hope!
  • Rigmor: Haha.
  • Wulf: Honestly, I have no idea how long it would take to make the changes to Dragonmount.
  • Vayu: It would be good to be able to hand it over to the Snow Elves, and they feel safe living here.
  • Wulf: That would probably require some Legionnaires on site.
  • Rigmor: There will always be moronic Nords who try to eliminate the ‘enemy’ of Ysgramor.
  • Vayu: Okay, Wulf, I will take it from here. You know I love this organisational stuff.
  • Rigmor: If you value your life, you had better involve Wujeeta from the start.
  • Vayu: Indeed, that would be a sagacious move.
  • Olette: Does sagacious mean wise?
  • Vayu: Yes.
  • Olette: See Rigmor, me is learnin’ to speak all proper like!
  • Rigmor: Yeah, you speak gooder than ‘fore.
  • Wulf: Here are some documents claiming the title of this property on behalf of the Hold. The Dragonguard have been given the authority to evict trespassers.
  • Vayu: You hate noble titles, but they do come in handy.
  • Wulf: Okay, Rigmor, one last check for Serana, and then we head for Castle Volkihar.

Serana was waiting for me at Silverpeak Lodge.

“Serana, are you accompanying us?”

“Yes, I have tried to prepare myself. But honestly, I don’t think you can ever be ready to kill one of your parents.”

“If it comes to it, let me fight Lord Harkon. You and The Dragonguard can concentrate on whatever minions he summons and any clan members with him.”

“You will kill him quickly, won’t you?”

“I will not mock him or prolong the fight, Serana. I doubt it will take more than three or four arrows to defeat him. They can be delivered in seconds, depending on how often he teleports or uses Bat or Mist Forms.”

“He will target who he thinks is the weakest opposing him. If physical harm is impossible, he will want to inflict emotional harm on you.”

“None of The Dragonguard need fear an attack from Lord Harkon. Any one of them is capable of ending him, Serana.”

“I am doing my best not to think of him as my father anymore.”

“Siring a child does not make you a father. It takes effort, empathy and love to be a father. Has Lord Harkon ever provided those things?”

“No. Father seemed to enjoy watching me grow, but in retrospect, he saw me as an object for trading. A not unusual fate of the noble-born women.”

“Then he is not your father. No more than the scum who sired Olette is her father. She would laugh in his face if he dared make that claim.”

“You are right. I don’t think I was a planned baby. Most likely, I am the result of some drunken roll in the hay. I have never asked Mother.”

“Let us know if you need anything.”

“We’ve got enough to worry about right now. Everybody should stay focused on what they must do, and I’ll worry about me.”

“That is not how friendship works, Serana.”

We entered the living area and collected the group attacking Castle Volkihar.

Inigo smiled and said, “Mr Dragonfly says he is glad you are with us, Serana.”

“Likewise, Mr Dragonfly. Your courage is an inspiration to all of us.”

“Now you have made him blush!”

Lydia gave a slight nod of acknowledgement.

Felix looked relieved. He has expressed to me how Serana needed to confront her father for closure, and she was.

Rigmor said, “I assume Wulf has asked if you are okay, Serana.”

“Yes, Rigmor, he was a gentleman as usual.”

Serana laughed along with the rest of them.

Olette asked, “Will we visit Riften and Windhelm today?”

“I don’t think so. After we finish at Castle Volkihar, I think Serana and I will have a long, boring walk through The Soul Cairn and bring her mother home.”

“Okay then. I will join the others in cleaning Snow Lodge. It should be fun with many of us there and Wujeeta in charge.”

“Is she taking her favourite whacking broom?”

“Yes, but she promises only to use it when necessary. Which means anytime you get too close.”

“I am sure under Wujeeta’s authoritarian dictatorship that Snow Lodge will be ready for us to reside in by tomorrow.”

“Come on then, Meeko.”

“Woof!”

“Oh, you are going with Wulf. Okay, but you must tell me all about it later.”

Olette skipped over to Vayu, who was ready to teleport the next group of cleaners.

  • Serana: You are moving?
  • Wulf: I had a vision that this place, Silverpeak Lodge, was destroyed by an avalanche. I don’t think it is imminent, but I cannot relax while we are here.
  • Serana: You are going to lose this fabulous home?
  • Rigmor: A Snow Elf palace has appeared from back in time. We will live there while a castle is being converted into our new home and orphanage.
  • Wulf: A Snow Elf noble placed his house, servants and guards in stasis. When Knight-Paladin Gelebor read a scroll, the house appeared where it was at the beginning of the first era. We assume the Snow Elves will also come out of stasis and make their way to the house.
  • Rigmor: We will keep them safe until they join others at the Chantry.
  • Serana: They wielded powerful magic! Perhaps we can now recover some lost knowledge.
  • Wulf: Perhaps. It is their knowledge to share, and I know some would try and steal it, but we won’t allow that.
  • Serana: Okay, we had better get there before Isran is stupid enough to attack without us.
  • Wulf: I will teleport us onto the island. I didn’t warn Isran I would do that.
  • Rigmor: That will be a shock!
  • Wulf: Yes, he might shit his britches.
  • Serana: Wherever you grew up, Wulf, they have a unique turn of words.

We appeared in front of The Dawnguard, who shrieked with fright.

While they composed themselves, I told Meeko, “You are to guard the boat. Some vampires might try to hide and escape while the fighting is happening. None of them is to leave alive.”

“WOOF!”

I Shouted Dragon Aspect, which drew more gasps from The Dawnguard.

  • Wulf: Serana, will your father come out to face us or hide somewhere?
  • Serana: He probably knows the lesser vampires are doomed and will wait for us in his temple. He can replenish his health and Blood Magic via Molag Ball’s altar and a basin of blood.
  • Wulf: I will clear the way to the entrance with The Voice. Once inside, we spread out and kill them as quickly as possible. I will not use my Thu’um inside, and please be careful with Destruction spells.
  • Inigo: What about The Dawnguard?
  • Wulf: They will keep up as well as they can. I assume the vampires will be spread out inside the castle, so there might be a chance for them to join a melee or two.
  • Serana: Wulf, I only want you with me when confronting my father.
  • Wulf: A fair request. However, as soon as the fighting starts, The Dragonguard will enter and help dispatch Harkon’s support while I concentrate on him.
  • Inigo: How many vampires are there?
  • Serana: We killed a few in other places, so I doubt there are more than thirty left. However, Father is an efficient summoner who will undoubtedly surround himself with undead and gargoyles.

I said out loud, “The fog is not good. I chose midday because I wanted some sunlight to welcome any vampires who ventured outside.”

I cast a spell taught to me by the Psijic Order. The weather changed from overcast to sunny and warm, and more gasps came from The Dawnguard.

I stepped forward and used my Thu’um to its full power. Wherever Harkon was, he would hear every word.

“LORD HARKON AND VOLKIHAR CLAN, I AM HERE TO FULFIL MY PROMISE. I TOLD YOU I WOULD KILL YOU ALL THE NEXT TIME I ENTER CASTLE VOLKIHAR. WELL, I HAVE BROUGHT SOME FRIENDS TO HELP WITH THE KILLING, AND YOU WILL ALL BE GUESTS OF LORD MOLAG BAL VERY SOON. DON’T EXPECT A WELCOMING HUG FROM YOUR CHOSEN GOD. I DON’T THINK YOUR TIME IN COLDHARBOUR WILL BE PLEASANT.”

Some of The Dawnguard covered their ears and whimpered. The Dragonguard knew that was a fruitless exercise. Masonry fell from Castle Volkihar, and all birdlife on the island took flight.

I turned to The Dawnguard, used a bit of Thu’um to emphasise my words, and said, “Nobody is to get in front of me on the way to the castle as doing so risks death. Once inside, spread out and kill the adult vampires. I will take care of any aggressive child vampire. They may also have to die, but that judgement will be mine. Be mindful of mortal servants and enslaved. They are innocent, and we are here to rescue them, not kill them. Keep your huskies with you until we are inside the castle.”

I asked, “ARE WE READY?”

The Dawnguard sounded confident and determined with their answer.

I turned towards the castle and again used my Thu’um to its fullest.

“FOR THE DIVINES. FOR THE EMPIRE! FOR THOSE THEY KILLED! WE SEEK VENGEANCE AND JUSTICE. FORWARD!”

I was well ahead of everybody when the first gargoyle came to life and died a second later.

The next gargoyle lasted not a second longer.

Four vampires and a Hell Hound emerged into the sunlight. One was hit by an arrow from Inigo, who was firing as he ran.

Unrelenting Force roared across the pavement.

All enemies died.

A husky almost ran past, and I yelled, “Call your dog back!”

My change of weather was only meant to last for a short time, and snow started to fall as I reached the raised gate.

When I burst into the castle, I could see vampires in the distance who made perfect targets for Unrelenting Force. However, I would not use my Thu’um as innocents may get in the way.

I leapt over the balcony, and a vampire looked bewildered. I ignored her and eliminated another to her right.

The one I ignored screamed as arrows from The Dragonguard took her down.

Harkon’s taste in decor did not impress me.

As I searched for the higher-level vampires, The Dragonguard efficiently disposed of others. The Dawnguard were yet to engage the enemy.

The more powerful vampires had positioned themselves on balconies and cast Blood Magic, and Destruction spells on those below.

So fast was I moving they did not realise the danger until I was upon them.

Others were eliminated by the overwhelming damage inflicted by The Dragonguard.

I looked over the balcony, and The Dragonguard were now heading in different directions, also hunting for vampires.

Rigmor and Lydia were firing arrows from the stairway. Finally, The Dawnguard managed to join the fray with their crossbows.

Lord Harkon’s second in command made an appearance. He also died as spells, bolts, and arrows hit him.

I guessed Lord Harkon’s temple was behind a lowered portcullis. I wondered why he bothered lowering it when the pull chain was easily accessible. I suppose the sound of it being raised would give warning of our approach.

I continued my vampire hunting and found one.

I eliminated him and then returned to the ground floor.

The last resistance was a Hell Hound. I killed it then everything went quiet.

I called out, “Does anybody need healing?”

Looking at The Dawnguard, few of them even had a spot of enemy blood on them. They used their crossbows to good effect.

I walked over to Rigmor and said, “Gather at the door to the temple. Do not enter till you hear battle has commenced.”

“Wulf, I think Isran finally realises how powerful you are.”

“So, fighting dragons does make me a potential vampire hunter?”

“You idiot!”

Inigo seemed pleased with the result.

“My friend, for a thousand years, they avoided justice, and we delivered it in less than three minutes.”

“I don’t see any mortals, which concerns me.”

“Ask Isran to look for them while we deal with Harkon.”

I approached Isran, who looked at me with fear in his eyes. Was I an abomination as well?

“Isran, please search for the mortals and ensure they are safe and unafraid. We shall take care of Harkon.”

“I thought we would be fighting a pitched battle and that casualties were inevitable. You and The Dragonguard wiped them out in minutes!”

“I saw Serana using blade and magic to eliminate clan members.”

“Yes, she was efficient as you and your friends.”

“Do not enter Harkon’s temple until the sounds of battle cease. That is his centre of power, and he may still have surprises in store.”

“Okay.”

“Even if The Dawnguard think their contribution was minimal, it was not! They have shown great courage today, and you should be proud of them.”

Serana was waiting for me at the lowered portcullis.

No words were needed. The look of sadness on Serana’s face said it all. I equipped Auriel’s Bow and Sunhallowed Arrows but left them sheathed. Then I pulled the chain, and we entered the temple.

Lord Harkon was in Vampire Lord form and floated to maximise his Blood Magic. We approached, and the bullshit began.

  • Harkon: Serana, my darling. I see you still favour keeping a pet.
  • Serana: Wulf and his friends have treated me as an equal. Calling him a pet displays your ignorance. But enough of the mindless rhetoric. You know why we are here.
  • Harkon: Yes, of course I do! You disappoint me, Serana. You’ve taken everything I provided for you and thrown it away for this… pathetic being.
  • Serana: Provided for me? Are you insane? You watched as a monster raped me, not knowing if I would survive. You’ve destroyed our family while pursuing a false prophecy. You could never block the Sun with Auriel’s Bow!
  • Wulf: Serana speaks the truth, Harkon. The prophecy was invented by another vampire far older and more powerful than you. He died in Aetherius, where his soul now resides. He will spend eternity full of regret but beyond the reach of Molag Bal.
  • Serana: Auriel’s Bow can only block out the Sun for a few minutes and only in a small area.
  • Wulf: The bow itself is not corrupted. Only the arrows carry corruption, and it is weak.
  • Serana: Father, you have lost all for what?
  • Harkon: Both of you lie. Serana’s voice drips with the venom of her mother’s influence.
  • Serana: I am not like mother. For a start, I am not afraid of you!

Serana stood with two staves at the ready.

Harkon turned to me.

  • Harkon: It seems I have you to thank for turning my daughter against me. I knew it was only a matter of time before she’d return with hatred in her heart.
  • Wulf: You fool! Serana still loves you despite your total failure as a father. What have you gained that is worth even a fraction of that love? Did any of the vampires we just annihilated love you? Did anybody outside this castle even know your name before a few days ago? Do you think that Molag Bal made you powerful? You went from king to minor lord. Slaughtering unarmed mortals is not a display of power.
  • Harkon: Everything I did was for the betterment of our kind.
  • Wulf: You do not speak for all vampires! The senior advisor to High Queen Elisif, an advisor to the Jarl of Riften, some students at The College of Winterhold and many others within The Empire are vampires. They are respected citizens, not parasites! Along with Serana, they are not of your kind!
  • Serana: An advisor to the High Queen?
  • Wulf: Yes, and she doesn’t have to hide what she is. She would have been eliminated long ago if she were like your father. His kind of vampire is a blight on the world!
  • Harkon: Yes, yes. Always the noble vampire hunter. And what happens when you’ve slain me? Is Valerica next? Is Serana?
  • Wulf: I do not hunt vampires. I protect the innocent and uphold the laws of The Empire. I am your Thane, Lord Harkon, which gives me the right to judge and summarily punish you for crimes committed within this Hold. I am a General of The Legion, which gives me the right to punish those who break Imperial laws. Serana has broken no laws. I have allowed her into my home amongst my loved ones, including children and other non-combatants. As for Valerica, she and I have a truce of sorts. If she behaves, she has nothing to fear from me and can return home. You would never have found her.
  • Harkon: They are safe, but you are here to kill me. Interestingly, you can set aside your morals when it suits you.
  • Wulf: How is killing you compromising my morals? You deserve to die according to the laws of The Empire and the country in which you preside. Serana and Valerica do not. We did not kill your clan members because they were vampires. We killed them for murdering innocents and attacking us without provocation.
  • Harkon: My daughter is already dead to me. She died the moment she allowed mortals into her life.
  • Wulf: I am tired of this conversation. I might as well talk to a rock.
  • Harkon: Yes, I, too, grow weary of speaking to you and my traitorous daughter. I’ll give you a single chance to turn over the bow to me. There will not be a second.

Harkon was taken aback by my peals of laughter. After a few seconds, my mood changed from amused to threatening.

  • Wulf: Lord Harkon, you looked into my eyes once and saw the power I wield. When was the last time you faced anything in combat? We both know the answer is never! While I have fought the most powerful undead, mortals and dragons, you have preyed on the weak and defenceless. Molag Bal’s powers are so pathetic they can be removed via a simple ceremony. Any vampire who wants to rid themselves of the Dark Lord’s taint can revert to mortal. So, in summary, an angry Skeever has more chance of taking my Lord’s bow from me than you do!
  • Serana: Did you hear, Father? I can become a mortal again, and my soul could rest in Aetherius upon my death. A place where love is limitless and laughter echoes. I think Molag Bal will already be upset with you. Imagine his added rage if a Daughter of Coldharbour became a devotee of Aedra!
  • Harkon: Very well then, you leave me no choice. Serana will sacrifice her blood for the sake of the prophecy, and I will feast upon yours in Molag Bal’s honour!
  • Wulf: Yes, talking to a rock would have been more productive! Look into my eyes again, Lord Harkon. Become immobile, and let me quicken your inevitable doom with less pain. If you fight, you will not last long against the Divine Wrath I wield in the name of The Divines, and it will not be pleasant. The choice is yours.

Harkon tried to flee toward Molag Bal’s altar.

I growled, “So be it!”

I drew Auriel’s Bow and hit him in the back with a Sunhallowed Arrow.

There was a burst of sunlight, and Harkon screamed.

Many undead joined the melee as The Dragonguard burst into the temple. The badly injured Harkon used Bat Form to make it to the altar.

I said, “No, Lord Harkon, I will not let you use the blood of innocents to delay the inevitable. Molag Bal’s pathetic powers are no match for my Lord’s.”

Another Sunhallowed Arrow interrupted Harkon’s regeneration. He went ethereal to avoid detection.

While I waited for Harkon to reappear, I took care of a Skeletal Warrior. Serana and The Dragonguard were easily and quickly disposing of other minions.

Harkon made another desperate bid to regenerate at the shrine.

I interrupted his plan with another Sunhallowed Arrow.

I destroyed more undead as we waited for Harkon to appear once more.