Loredas, 30th Last Seed, 4E 201
I gathered the squad to accompany me to High Hrothgar. It was a mixture of newly arrived Dragonguard and Sentinels. It consisted of Erandur, Jordis, Omoi and Shouken.
Omoi was one of the Dragonguard born in Akavir. His father is an exiled Blade, and his mother is a free Akaviri woman.
The Tsaesci has long ago enslaved the breed of Man on Akavir. They had been ‘eaten’ to use the Tsaesci term. It means their race had been absorbed and was no longer recognised as a free breed with rights by the Tsaesci. When people refer to Akaviri, it is generally the race of Man they refer to, not the Tsaesci, Ka’Po’Tun, Kamal or Tango Mo.
Akaviri could be found in every province of Akavir, but those under the rule of the Tsaesci had no rights and were regarded as property, not people.
Omoi’s armour was made of wood and leather. It provides protection equivalent to full-plate armour but weighs far less. He was an expert, but not a Swordmaster, with the kai-katana.
Shouken was a toddler when his parents fled to Akavir. His father was given a knighthood just after The Great War but never enjoyed the benefits as The Thalmor hunted Blades with great fervour. He is an expert with kai-katana.
Omoi and Shouken hold the rank of Dragon Knight.
We teleported to the outskirts of Ivarstead.
A person’s first glimpse of The Throat of the World nearly always generates awe. The two Dragonguard were no exception.
- Omoi: We have seen some impressive mountains on Akavir, but one makes them look like rocky hills!
- Shouken: Do we have to go to the summit?
- Wulf: No, High Hrothgar sits at about eighty per cent.
- Shouken: Are there 7000 steps?
- Wulf: No, that is typical Nord exaggeration. There are about 780 steps, I think. How many you can count depends on the snow drifts.
- Erandur: The mountain can be regarded as a Temple to Lady Kynareth or Kyne. The Nord creation myth says that Man originated on the mountain when Lady Kyne breathed upon the land. That is nonsense, of course, but Nords don’t like to think they have a common origin with Mer.
- Jordis: Most of us can read and write and know our origins, Erandur!
- Erandur: I should use the terms some or many. My apologies, Jordis.
- Omoi: We must learn a new set of racial nuances, Shouken.
- Shouken: You are guaranteed to learn and use them to get into brawls.
- Omoi: I discuss deep philosophy, and occasionally, well, quite often, that can end in a brawl. But in my defence, everybody knows the wisest things are said when one is in a state of extreme intoxication. The wisdom not to say them is sadly lacking when in that state.
- Jordis: If you stay away from generalisations, you will save yourself some bloody noses and broken teeth.
- Omoi: What’s the fun in that?
- Shouken: Unlike Akavir, Omoi, I don’t think you can use a quarterstaff as a philosophical tool and beat people to a pulp.
- Omoi: Then I am at a loss as to how to cure other people’s stupidity.
- Erandur: You can try eloquence, facts and logic.
- Omoi: Hey, that is a brilliant idea. All philosophers should try it!
We walked to a bridge over a river which was the beginning of the 7000 steps. Two locals were talking as we approached.
- Gwilin: On your way up the 7,000 Steps again, Klimmek?
- Klimmek: Not today, Gwilin. I’m just not ready to do the climb to High Hrothgar. The path isn’t safe.
- Gwilin: Aren’t the Greybeards expecting some supplies?
- Klimmek: Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve yet to be allowed into the monastery. Perhaps one day.
I decided we could help.
- Wulf: Good morning, Klimmek and Gwilin. I am Thane Welkynd, and I believe I can be of assistance.
- Klimmek: Thane?
- Gwilin: Don’t you read the notices posted outside the inn? Thane Welkynd was announced weeks ago!
- Klimmek: I tend to avoid the notices, Gwilin. There is too much propaganda posted for my liking.
- Gwilin: And how can you help us, Thane Welkynd?
- Wulf: The Greybeards have invited me to visit. Therefore, I can take their supplies for you, Klimmek.
- Klimmek: You will? It is not just the wildlife but my knees. They aren’t what they used to be.
- Gwilin: Perhaps you can find out what that yelling was about last night. Did one of them stub their toe and yell Dovahkiin as a cuss word?
- Wulf: Dovahkiin means Dragonborn. That was my invitation.
- Klimmek: Ahh…are you saying that our new Thane is The Dragonborn?
- Wulf: Yes, I am Wulf Welkynd, The Dragonborn.
- Gwilin: Some villagers said they saw a dragon flying near the summit. Is that why you are here, Thane? Have dragons returned to Skyrim?
- Wulf: They have come out of hiding, and some may never have left Skyrim. Two dragons may have been spotted. One is black, and the other is silver and blue.
- Gwilin: They saw a black one a few days ago and a blue one more recently. Some of the locals have sore necks from looking up all the time!
- Wulf: The blue one is Silah, a friend of mine. The black one is Alduin, the World Eater.
- Gwilin: Alduin, like in that song the bards sing?
- Wulf: Yes, and you will hear about Helgen today if messengers rode throughout the night. Alduin destroyed it and killed a lot of people.
- Gwilin: And like that song, you are going to kill Alduin?
- Wulf: Alduin can’t die, but I will stop him.
- Klimmek: It makes my problem with the supplies seem insignificant.
- Wulf: Nonsense, Klimmek. Skyrim can’t come to a standstill because dragons are flying its skies once more. You feel a responsibility to help supply the Greybeards, and I am happy to help you. Therefore, hand me the backpack of supplies, and then go about your everyday business.
Klimmek handed me the hefty backpack, and I placed it inside my four-dimensional, indestructible Journal Case, a gift from the Psijic Order.
We left Gwilin and Klimmek staring at the Journal Case with disbelief.
- Erandur: Was there a purpose for that display, Wulf?
- Wulf: When they hear about Helgen, they will not feel as much panic. Their hero of bedside tales and bard songs is here to help.
- Shouken: The more in awe of Wulf, the more confident they will be.
- Wulf: I used my Journal Case without explanation or comment. It will cement the idea that The Dragonborn is the hero of their myths with unknown powers.
- Shouken: We strategised all of this in Akavir. We desire to reduce casualties. Preventing panic and a feeling of helplessness aids with that endeavour.
- Jordis: We know you are humbler than that, Wulf. That is why it surprised Erandur.
- Erandur: Yes, it was unexpected.
- Wulf: There will be more for me to do as Champion of The Divines after Alduin is out of the way. Being regarded as a mythical hero will help with future tasks.
- Jordis: Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honour, is sworn to keep evil forever at bay! And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s Shout! Dragonborn, for your blessing, we pray!
- Wulf: And people will pray, and I will tell all that listen that The Divines sent me to help, thus answering their prayers. But I have to remain mortal in my disposition and not hearty and aloof. Performing simple favours, such as delivering the supplies for Klimmek, ensures I am talked about and my fame spread. I expect a lot of good information will flow from average citizens who know I am approachable.
- Omoi: Wulf enjoys doing anything to help people. It is a bonus if it assists in his mortal hero role.
- Shouken: A rather angry bear is heading our way.
- Wulf: Then deal with it, peasant. Die if you have to!
- Shouken: Yes, Lord Arsehole. If the bear tears out my entrails, I will die happy knowing it was for you.
We made short work of the bear and cubs. It is a pity they had to die, but The Rift has a vast wilderness where bears can roam and hunt freely. This bear decided to encroach on a populated area. We could defend ourselves. Some poor pilgrims might not be able to do so well.
I returned to a green flame at the foot of the stairs and said, “I can feel the presence of Lady Kynareth. This flame is probably used for some religious ritual.”
Not far along, we came to the first Emblem, plaques placed by The Greybeards to educate pilgrims. I read it to the group.
- Before the birth of men, the Dragons ruled all Mundus
- Their word was The Voice, and they spoke only for True Needs
- For The Voice could blot out the sky and flood the land
- Wulf: Bollocks! Dragons used The Voice to exercise their base instincts of combat and domination.
- Shouken: Well, you could argue they spoke only for True Needs, if somewhat selfish.
- Erandur: Will we witness issues between you and The Greybeards, Wulf?
- Wulf: Only if they try and convince me their sacrilegious bullshit is true.
- Erandur: Why do you want to meet them?
- Wulf: There is a slim chance they could aid me. But I think they feel an obligation to give me some essential titles since they know who Father is.
- Jordis: Titles that nobody is to know about.
- Wulf: Yes, but one day those titles may aid rather than hinder me. It is better to have them than not.
A bit further along, what sounded like a dragon’s roar made my friends look upward. I laughed and said, “Look ahead. It is a pest that wishes it was a dragon.”
Using a combination of running and floating, the Draman approached me at an impressive speed.
As it reached me, I drew my sword and killed it with a single blow.
I sheathed my sword and stood over its corpse.
- Erandur: What in Mara’s name is that?
- Wulf: A form of Daedra call Draman. Some of them can be a challenge, but this one wasn’t.
- Omoi: It looks like a crocodile.
- Wulf: More like an alligator as its teeth are visible when it closes its mouth.
- Erandur: What Daedric Prince created those horrors?
- Wulf: Nobody knows, Erandur. They are enough to create nightmares, so perhaps your former mistress?
- Erandur: Shouken and Omoi, I was once a Priest of Vaermina. However, I am now a Priest of Mara and am atoning for my past.
- Omoi: Many of you are trying to atone for your past. I understand that not everybody can be as moralistically pure as me.
- Shouken: Do the names Zaeze, Vhelle, and Qial ring bells, Omoi?
- Wulf: Oh, are they the women I send a part of Omoi’s wages monthly?
- Shouken: You would think after one bastard, he would have learned to use precautions.
- Wulf: I think he learnt by the third.
- Omoi: Okay, it was irresponsible of me, and I am doing my best to atone for my past.
- Jordis: I genuinely have nothing for which to atone.
- Erandur: I saw you picking your nose yesterday.
- Jordis: Oh, no, I shall spend the rest of my life working hard to erase such a blot on my character!
A pilgrim was praying in front of the second Emblem. I hoped he prayed to Lady Kynareth, not the old bearded parasites.
When he finished, he walked past us and towards Ivarstead. I moved closer and read the inscription to my squad. I know the Emblems by heart, but reading them was a religious ritual with a worthwhile reward.
- Men were born and spread over the face of Mundus
- The Dragons presided over the crawling masses
- Men were weak then and had no Voice
- Wulf: No mention of Mer.
- Omoi: Are all the Greybeards Nord?
- Wulf: I don’t know, but this is more bullshit.
- Jordis: This Emblem implies that mortals were weak until they were gifted The Voice. That is, as Wulf so eloquently put it, bullshit.
- Omoi: Are you mentioning the Emblems in your museum?
- Wulf: Yes, with my take on their lessons, but in a more polite fashion.
- Shouken: So instead of saying bollocks or bullshit, your plaque will say something like, “Oh, dear. I think the Greybeards are a teensy, weensy bit wrong.”
- Wulf: Something not so flowery but still suitable for younger visitors.
We continued and enjoyed the walk and scenery till another bear decided five heavily armoured people looked like lunch.
Two quick slices of my katana and the bear died.
The weather turned sunny and pleasant, and we all enjoyed the views.
A boar stared at us as we approached the third Emblem.
I stepped up and read the inscription.
- The fledgling spirits of Men were strong in Old Times
- Unafraid to war with Dragons and their Voices
- But the Dragons only Shouted them down and broke their hearts
- Jordis: So now they are strong. I wish the author would make up his mind!
- Omoi: I think it refers to their determination. Their morale was high.
- Jordis: Oh, you might be right!
- Shouken: Lucky you agreed with him. He doesn’t have his quarterstaff to whack you till you do.
- Wulf: Sniffle. Are you all so heartless? Their little hearts were broken! Sniffle.
- Omoi: I think the rarefied air is getting to Wulf.
- Erandur: He doesn’t seem any weirder than usual.
- Omoi: True. I will have to get used to his weirdness again.
A few minutes later, the sunshine vanished behind a snowstorm.
- Omoi: If it gets any colder, I won’t have the parts to father any more bastards.
- Jordis: I was thinking how warm it was.
- Wulf: The dweomer on your armours keeps your temperature comfortable, so stop the whining.
- Omoi: It’s in my head, Wulf. I have lived my life in the tropics!
- Wulf: If any bits fall off, we will thaw them out and sew them back on later.
- Erandur: Shouken doesn’t seem to mind the cold. He’s not complaining.
- Shouken: Mmm…m…mmm…m…m…mmm!
- Omoi: That’s because his lips are frozen together.
- Wulf: I could warn him up with a fireball.
- Shouken: That won’t be necessary.
- Wulf: Good, then, no more complaints!
A pilgrim stood in front of the fourth Emblem.
- Karita: Be careful of wolves if you’re headed up the path to High Hrothgar.
- Wulf: Did you hear the Greybeards call Dovahkiin?
- Karita: I was just outside Ivarstead when it happened. It’s an exciting moment. Nothing like this has happened in centuries.
- Wulf: I am Thane Welkynd. May I know your name?
- Karita: My name is Karita.
- Wulf: It is nice to meet you, Karita.
- Jordis: Are you a hunter?
- Karita: I am just a pilgrim. I prefer to leave it at that if you don’t mind.
- Jordis: What are you doing?
- Karita: Walking the Steps. Meditating on the emblems. I make this trip every few years. What are you doing?
- Jordis: I am The Dragonborn’s housecarl.
- Erandur: As am I.
- Omoi: I am a Dragon Knight of the Dragonguard and sworn to protect The Dragonborn.
- Shouken: I, too, am a Dragon Knight of the Dragonguard. We had better hurry, Dragonborn. The Greybeards might need an afternoon nap.
- Wulf: Nag, nag, nag. Stay a pilgrim, Karita. Bodyguards are a nuisance.
- Karita: But…ah…oh my!
- Wulf: Do you mind if I get closer to the Emblem so I can read it?
- Karita: Ahh…not at all…
I stepped up to the Emblem and read it aloud.
- Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man
- Together they taught Men to use The Voice
- Then Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue
- Wulf: That’s a bit inaccurate. The majority of the fighting was with bows, axes and swords. There were only a few Tongues.
- Jordis: When The Greybeards wrote these, they were trying to inflate the importance of The Voice.
- Wulf: It won’t be my only weapon against Alduin, and I would prefer to deliver a killing blow with my katana than a Shout.
- Shouken: First, we must get you to the battle, Dragonborn. If we move any slower, Alduin will die of old age.
- Omoi: He is immortal.
- Shouken: You skipped the sarcasm classes on Akavir, didn’t you?
- Wulf: Okay, sheesh. We are in the way of Pilgrim Karita anyway, and she wants to continue staring at the Emblem.
We walked past Karita, who stared at us with her mouth agape.
It wasn’t far from the fourth to the fifth Emblem.
I told the group, “This is a big fat lie!”
- Man prevailed, Shouting Alduin out of the world
- Proving for all that their Voice, too, was strong
- Although their sacrifices were many-fold
- Jordis: Why is that a lie?
- Wulf: They didn’t Shout Alduin into the timestream. They used an Elder Scroll.
- Jordis: They continue to promote The Voice above truth.
- Wulf: They didn’t know how the Ancient Tongues defeated Alduin. They might know they used a Shout called Dragonrend, but not about the Elder Scroll.
- Erandur: I am not an expert on time, but wasn’t that a dangerous thing to do?
- Wulf: They were losing and desperate, Erandur. The Dragonrend Shout makes dragons unable to fly, so Alduin was vulnerable and on the ground. Sometime during the fight, one of the three heroes was killed. I don’t think they wanted to pass Alduin on to future generations to deal with, but that is what they did.
- Omoi: In a way, the Dragon War never ended.
- Wulf: Yes, you could look at it that way. Alduin is back and regathering forces for another assault.
- Jordis: When you returned to Aurane yesterday, you said something was wrong with linear time. Is the use of the Elder Scroll related to that problem?
- Wulf: Alduin’s return has caused what The Divines and Jills call a Time Wound. It was the primary cause of my troubles in Helgen. Father has given me some extra protection to help prevent the problem from recurring. However, Alduin can track me because of that Time Wound. Every time I teleport, I come out of the Ethereal Plane into Mundus. When I do, my soul takes a split second to synchronise with Mundus’ linear time and causes interference that Alduin detects.
- Erandur: P’Sua said that you were tracked to Whiterun, and the dragon there was sent by Alduin to test you.
- Wulf: That’s correct.
- Shouken: When we materialised in Ivarstead, did Alduin know we were there?
- Wulf: Yes, if he was looking for the disturbance. He spent much time in Sovngarde, outside Mundus and linear time and could not detect me when there.
- Omoi: Would he attack High Hrothgar?
- Wulf: No. A combined Shout by The Greybeards has the potential to destroy Alduin. He also knows I have Dov allies that would help defend High Hrothgar, and it was built strong enough to withstand most Shouts. He would have to render it with his claws to damage it.
- Omoi: If The Greybeards could defeat Alduin, why do The Divines need you to do it?
- Wulf: As I said, The Greybeards can potentially destroy Alduin. That is not what Lord Akatosh wants. Alduin has a purpose from which he has deviated. Returning his soul to Aetherius is what is required. That way, under the guidance and discipline of Lord Akatosh, which Father says is rather unpleasant, Alduin will be reminded of why he exists and gifted the powers he possesses.
- Erandur: Now I have this vision of Lord Akatosh wagging his finger and telling Alduin what a naughty boy he has been.
- Shouken: He might administer a few whacks on the backside with a giant spoon!
- Jordis: Wulf, how are you going to defeat Alduin?
- Wulf: I need the Elder Scroll to fix the Time Wound. I need to learn the Dragonrend Shout. Those two things are the initial steps I need to take.
- Shouken: And, being you, I assume it is not as easy as asking The Greybeards, including Paarthurnax, about Dragonrend?
- Wulf: I shall ask The Greybeards, but I doubt they would know it, even if they know of it. Paarthurnax cannot know it, for it is a Shout invented by mortals and harmful to a Dovah.
- Erandur: What other resources are there when it comes to Dragonrend?
- Wulf: The Ancient Tongues reside in The Hall of Valour. Due to the Time Wound, they lost all knowledge of how they defeated Alduin. There is a slim chance that they documented what they did during their planning stage. I know where a Blade has been hiding. If she doesn’t know anything useful about Dragonrend, she might know who would.
- Omoi: You need a hoarder of Dragonlore. There were plenty of them in The Dragonguard.
- Wulf: There were plenty in The Blades, but all their temples were destroyed except Sky Haven Temple, and there was nothing of use when we searched it.
- Jordis: And how will you find the Elder Scroll?
- Wulf: I shall look for any Elder Scroll. If I find one, it will be the one I need.
- Shouken: Major gobblygook?
- Wulf: If Father doesn’t understand how something works, it is beyond major gobblygook.
- Erandur: I hope you will tell us what happened to you in Helgen and how it connects.
- Wulf: I will, or at least try to. You don’t have my sense of time, so it will be like describing the difference between blue and red to somebody blind from birth.
- Omoi: Easy, they are not yellow or green!
- Shouken: And that, Omoi, demonstrates why you are not a mage.
I was enjoying the walk despite the inclement weather. I sensed it was a bit of the calm before the storm. I would be pushing hard as I didn’t want another Helgen. We had to defeat Alduin and any of his allies as quickly as possible.
The flags next to the sixth Emblem were horizontal, and I had to lean into the wind to read the inscription.
- With roaring Tongues, the Sky Children conquer
- Founding the First Empire with Sword and Voice
- Whilst the Dragons withdrew from this World
- Wulf: Let’s celebrate the butchery that created the First Nordic Empire! Such a thing to show pride in! But what do you expect from a people that revere the genocidal Ysgramor?
- Jordis: Ahem?
- Wulf: Deny the fact that the Nords worship the butchers of their past as a whole?
- Jordis: I can’t, but not all of us are so blind to the truth.
- Wulf: I know that, Jordis! Don’t be so thin-skinned when I state the truth. All species have things in their past that they regret. But few celebrate them instead of learning from them. Because they put these honourless Mer haters on a pedestal, the senseless racism still festers. People argue that The Dominion is racist, and they are wrong. The average Altmer does not hate Man. It is their leaders, The Thalmor, that continue the ancient animosity. However, if you speak to the average Nord in some Holds, they hate Mer and don’t even know why!
- Erandur: You have not experienced the blind hatred many Nords direct against Mer, Jordis. Their heroes hated and slaughtered Mer, so there must be a reason we are to be reviled.
- Wulf: My anger is directed against the institution of butcher worship, not the Nord people, Jordis. It is one of the driving forces behind my desire to create a museum where truths are told. Yes, the initial attacks by Ysgramor and the 500 were reprisals for Saarthal. But decades later, when they continued to smash Falmer infants’ heads against rocks, rape their women and butcher non-combatants, it was no longer reprisal but blind hatred. They refused all offers of truce!
- Jordis: I understand, Wulf. Perhaps the embarrassment I feel when you spell it out makes me sensitive to the criticism of my people. I want nothing more than to stop what you call butcher worship.
- Erandur: The schism between Man and Mer originated at the dawn of time. It will take a miracle to make the two live in harmony.
- Wulf: Yet they come from a shared ancestry, Erandur. If that is taught to the young, they will realise the idiocy of the divide.
- Shouken: The First Nordic Empire didn’t last long.
- Wulf: It started with mindless violence and ended the same way. The accepted dates of its existence are 1E 240 to 1E 416. I don’t want to discuss it anymore.
We continued to the next Emblem in silence as I battled my anger. I want to help all the people of Nirn, yet some mortals will want me to pick a side. They will inevitably become hostile when I refuse to do so. The Thalmor will despise me without ever knowing who my parents are. The Elven Aedra gods do not combat The Nine. If the gods can share Aetherius without conflict, why can’t the mortals who worship them share Mundus in peace?
A troll would not play nice, so I removed it from our path.
It was quite a distance to the seventh Emblem, and I had my temper under control.
I said, “If I have upset you, Jordis, I apologise. My temper is influenced by what I am, making me seem insensitive sometimes.”
Jordis smiled and replied, “That was explained to me early on by The Dragonguard, Wulf. I have witnessed your endless compassion and love for all people. I know where your anger was directed, and it was up to me to control my reaction. I appreciate the thought behind the apology, but it is not justified. There is nothing to apologise for.”
Sometimes I wonder what I have done to deserve the friends I have gathered. Whatever it is, I am eternally grateful.
I cleared my throat and read the inscription.
- The Tongues at Red Mountain went away humbled
- Jurgen Windcaller began His Seven Year Meditation
- To understand how Strong Voices could fail
- Wulf: Not every written history has Nords at that battle. That is because different timelines were spliced together to fix a Dragon Break.
- Jordis: I must be dizzy with the thin air, but that makes sense.
- Erandur: The Jurgen Windcaller that started The Greybeards was at that battle.
- Wulf: Yes, and being a Nord, he couldn’t accept the defeat by a Mer army.
- Omoi: How dare better tactics, superior mages and the defence of the homeland defeat Nord invaders?
- Wulf: Jurgen Windcaller stared at his belly button for seven years while he tried to figure out why they lost. Without any confirmation from Lady Kynareth, he concluded that using The Voice only for violence was wrong and that it had a higher purpose. Instead of facing the truth that the other side was better, he blasphemed.
- Omoi: What was the core of his conclusion?
- Wulf: You should waste your life contemplating your belly button as some form of Kynareth Worship.
- Omoi: Wulf, it was a serious question.
- Wulf: I am sorry, Omoi, but I find the reasoning behind The Way of The Voice ludicrous. Anything related to Kynareth’s domain, the sky, air and wind, has deeper meanings than just being what they are. What Jurgen Windcaller preached, and is the basis of this pseudo-religion, is that The Voice should be used as part of a meditation suite.
- Omoi: They think there is something sacred about the wind?
- Wulf: Yes, and that is why most of Klimmek’s supplies consist of various types of beans.
- Omoi: What?
- Wulf: Pass me more beans to produce some sacred wind!
- Omoi: Oh, haha. Your humour has not improved in your time here, Wulf.
- Jordis: I thought it was funny.
- Erandur: As did I.
- Shouken: And me!
- Erandur: Does Lady Kynareth desire this type of devotion?
- Wulf: I don’t know, and it is not my place to ask. The Nine generally accept any form of devotion as long as it doesn’t harm others. If The Greybeards started killing non-believers, Lady Kynareth would object.
- Shouken: The Way of The Voice might be bullshit, but it is harmless bullshit. Therefore, it is tolerated.
- Wulf: Basically. But that is my interpretation, and I don’t profess to speak for Lady Kynareth on this matter.
- Shouken: You must practice great restraint when speaking to The Greybeards.
- Wulf: It is not my place to convince them their beliefs are misguided. However, I will not stay silent if they judge me or my actions based on The Way of The Voice. Ulfric Stormcloak was one of their acolytes for ten years. When he inherited the position of Jarl and returned to Windhelm, he soon realised their teachings could not survive the real world. The Greybeards have never lived below and probably refuse to consider that fact. I have no doubt they blame some weakness in Ulfric’s character, not the weakness of their dogma, for his misuse of The Voice.
- Erandur: Do you have any respect for The Greybeards?
- Wulf: I have tremendous respect for them. They have chosen a way of worship and sacrificed all to practice it. It harms nobody and shows a level of commitment few religious orders replicate. However, I demand reciprocal respect. Do not dare judge me when The Divines and myself are my harshest critics and the only ones qualified to render such judgment.
- Jordis: Nobody is to fart when we are with The Greybeards. If you do, I might have to kneel and praise Lady Kynareth.
Peals of laughter echoed as we continued our trek.
The eighth Emblem was on an overhang with long drops on either side. The wind was not as fierce as earlier, but random gusts tried to send me plunging. I wonder how many pilgrims survived the wildlife only to have Kynareth’s supposedly sacred wind send them to their deaths?
I read the inscription to my squad.
- Jurgen Windcaller chose silence and returned
- The 17 disputants could not shout Him down
- Jurgen the Calm built His home on the Throat of the World
I then moved away from the Emblem before Kynareth tested my balance.
- Omoi: Was Jurgen calm and silent?
- Wulf: No, he killed the other seventeen Tongues using The Voice. He was loud and angry.
- Jordis: Was that a True Need?
- Wulf: It must have been! As I mentioned, if Alduin attacked High Hrothgar, The Greybeards would use The Voice to defend it. I am almost certain they will declare my plan to use The Voice to defend innocents as not being a True Need. We shall see if such hypocrisy is aimed my way.
- Erandur: But The Nine encourage you to use it for that purpose!
- Wulf: Don’t let facts get in the way of religious dogma, Erandur!
- Shouken: Dragons use The Voice for nothing that could be regarded as a True Need. They don’t fight over mates or defend their homes or innocents. They use The Voice to exercise their base desires of combat and domination.
- Wulf: Let me pretend I am a Greybeard. How dare you mention facts in my presence! I shall ignore them like all others that make The Way of The Voice sound silly!
- Erandur: I know what I felt when I realised my years of devotion to Vaermina were wasted on false beliefs. The Greybeards would never accept their years of devotion were based on falsities.
- Wulf: No, they wouldn’t. I would never try and inflict that realisation upon them.
- Erandur: How much harm could rogue Greybeards do?
- Wulf: It was no exaggeration when I said they could destroy Alduin. Father once told me they could turn Nirn into dust. If they ever did, we had better hope Alduin would fulfil his purpose and gather the dust for the next Kalpa.
- Jordis: Enslaving mortals is not what Lord Akatosh wants from Alduin.
- Wulf: No, but Alduin is a dragon and has surrendered to his base desires. The gods are far from infallible. My parents made sure I understood that. Lord Akatosh wanted Alduin for one purpose, and Alduin chose his own. Even though Dov are immortals in some respects, and they have strong, natural impulses, they still have free will. Paarthurnax chose to abandon Alduin and help mortals. Alduin chose to enslave them.
- Omoi: What if Jurgen Windcaller studied his nice, neat, inner belly button for seven years, but then he saw that the seventeen tongues who opposed him had ugly, sticking-out belly buttons? Maybe that is why they fought.
- Wulf: With thoughts like that, Omoi, you will get on famously with Inigo.
- Omoi: The blue Khajiiti? I will have to have a good chat with him.
- Shouken: This Emblem makes it sound like Jurgen built High Hrothgar single-handedly.
- Wulf: He did! After many meals of beans, he used the holy wind to shape the rocks.
- Shouken: We have almost flogged that joke to death.
- Wulf: While it still has life, it will be abused.
As we walked to the ninth Emblem, High Hrothgar came into view. We stopped next to the Emblem, and I was not surprised by the reaction to The Greybeards’ home.
- Jordis: That is, ahh, a bit underwhelming. It makes Castle Dour look, well, less dour.
- Omoi: Does it have glass in the windows, or do they let the holy wind blow through the corridors and freeze everything solid?
- Shouken: If Windcaller paid architects, I hope he blew them off the mountain. That would be a True Need!
- Erandur: You couldn’t get a bigger contrast to Aurane!
- Wulf: Aurane has contrast. High Hrothgar looks like hundreds of shades of grey.
We turned to the Emblem, which was in front and below a statue of Father.
The inscription read,
- For years all silent, the Greybeards spoke one name
- Tiber Septim, stripling then, was summoned to Hrothgar
- They blessed and named him Dovahkiin
I explained, “They didn’t bless Father as a god can. They blessed him as I might say, ‘May The Divines smile upon you.’ He was already called Dovahkiin. The name came with the Dragonborn blessing from Lord Akatosh. They did bestow Father other titles, which is why I am here. I want those titles as they may have a use in the future. Let’s move on, for I am eager to finish this.”
We stood before the tenth Emblem, and I read the inscription aloud.
- The Voice is worship
Follow the Inner Path
Speak only in True Need
When I finished the recitation, there was a brief bust of Magicka, as Kynareth’s temporary blessing, Voice of The Sky was bestowed upon me.
- Erandur: What was that, Wulf? I detected a dweomer of some sort.
- Wulf: If you read all ten Emblems, Lady Kynareth places a temporary blessing upon you. It is called Voice of The Sky.
- Erandur: What does it do?
- Wulf: For twenty-four hours, animals will neither attack nor run away from you.
- Omoi: That would have been useful on the trip up here.
- Wulf: Hang on, and I will tell Lady Kynareth her blessing is as useful as the tits on a bull.
- Shouken: I missed Wulf’s weird sayings and that strange sense of humour.
- Omoi: So that blow to the head did scramble your brains?
- Erandur: What is the Inner Path?
- Wulf: I don’t know. I hope it isn’t referring to a person’s digestive system.
- Jordis: Everybody looks into the privy to see what logs they just squeezed out. Is that following the Inner Path to its conclusion?
- Erandur: Jordis! I thought you were a lady!
- Jordis: Even queens have to shit, Erandur.
- Omoi: Hey Wulf, do Divines need to crap?
- Wulf: Yes, and those holy turds turn into Akaviri called Omoi.
- Omoi: Haha.
Halfway to the doors of High Hrothgar was the chest for donations. I recovered Klimmek’s parcel from my Journal Case and placed it inside the chest.
We entered High Hrothgar, and it was just as underwhelming inside.
Shouken whispered, “This place is a shrine to the colour grey. And next time, they need to build it closer to the ground.”
I whispered back, “This is a holy place. Let’s conduct ourselves appropriately.”
Four Greybeards approached, and I moved further in to greet them.
One said, “So…a Dragonborn appears at this moment in the turning of the age.”
I hate mumbo-jumbo. That is our term for religious speak, where plain language is twisted into something allegorical or seemingly mystical. I promised myself I would behave, so I swallowed a sarcastic remark that begged to be spoken.
Instead, I replied, “A Dragonborn is placed on Nirn when The Divines need a mortal champion. That is why I have appeared at this time.”
“We will see if you truly have the gift. Show us, Dragonborn. Let us taste of your Voice.”
I wanted to argue the point he has already admitted I am Dragonborn. The desire to do so was almost overwhelming. But I was a good Dragonborn and did as the nice elderly man asked.
For only the second time in my life, I used The Voice, and I could see its strength surprised my bearded hosts. They looked at each other in surprise, but the one in front of me soon composed himself.
He said, “You are Dragonborn, and we welcome you to High Hrothgar. I am Master Arngeir.”
“Your leader, Paarthurnax, summoned you and told you who I am. I, at this moment, confirm what was revealed to you and a few other mortals. I am Valdr Septim, son of Tiber Septim and Saint Alessia. I am honoured to meet you and the other Greybeards, Master Arngeir.”
“We have not been told how this has come to be, but we accept what Paarthurnax told us. Come with me, Valdr Septim. It is time for us to recognise you fully as Dragonborn.”
“I shall join you shortly, Master Arngeir. First, I must direct my friends to safety, for I know the danger of this ceremony.”
We walked to a corner, and I warned, “If you stray into the path of a Greybeard’s Thu’um, you shall die. The power I said would destroy Alduin will be focused on me. Stay here and observe quietly!”
I stood in the centre of The Greybeards and asked, “Before you start, Master Arngeir, can you please introduce the others to me?”
“Yes, of course, Dragonborn. To your left is Master Einarth.”
I noticed Omoi had moved closer but was not in danger, although his ears may regret his curiosity.
Arngeir continued, “The next, going counterclockwise, is Master Wulfgar.”
“Next is Master Borri.”
I again faced Arngeir, who said, “Prepare yourself, Dragonborn. Few can withstand the unbridled Voice of the Greybeards. Are you ready?”
“Yes, Master Arngeir.”
“LINGRAH KROSIS SARAAN STRUNDU’UL, VOTH NID BALAAN KLOV PRAAN NAU.”
The first line of the Greybeard’s chant shook High Hrothgar, and the pressure on my body was immense. I would have been thrown across the room if it had not come evenly from all four directions simultaneously.
For some reason, The Greybeards held their arms horizontally while chanting. That can’t possibly improve the strength of your Thu’um, so I assume it was purely ceremonial.
I saw my friends watching, amazed, during the brief pause after the first line.
The second line of the chant also shook High Hrothgar.
“NAAL THU’UMU, MU OFAN NII NU, DOVAHKIIN, NAAL SULEYK DO KAAN, NAAL SULEYK DO SHOR, AHRK NAAL SULEYK DO ATMORASEWUTH.”
A second brief pause allowed me to quickly look around and see if there were any expressions at all on the Greybeards. Nothing. Blank. If this was important or noteworthy, they showed no signs of it being so.
“MEYZ NU YSMIR, DOVAHSEBROM. DAHMAAN DAAR ROK.”
The third and last line of the chant shook High Hrothgar even harder. I doubt the words would be heard far beyond the front door. The Greybeards focused all the power of their collective Thu’um on me. The power I said would destroy Alduin was uncomfortable but did me no harm.
High Hrothgar stopped shaking. Arngeir bowed, saying, “Dovahkiin. You have tasted the Voice of the Greybeards and passed through unscathed. High Hrothgar is open to you.”
“I am honoured to be named Ysmir, Master Arngeir. It is not a title I take lightly.”
“Perhaps one day you can tell us how a son of two gods now lives amongst us.”
“I will be glad to visit when time permits, Master Arngeir. You must realise that despite the Divine status of my parents, I am mortal. Tackling Alduin carries the same risks for me as for the Ancient Tongues. When Alduin destroyed Helgen, he could have ended my life, for I am not yet ready to defeat him in battle.”
“Helgen was destroyed?”
“Yesterday morning, Alduin attacked. My friends, of which four accompany me today, along with other brave souls, concentrated on saving the civilians rather than fighting Alduin, for he could not be beaten. Their actions and those of my Dov allies, Nahfahlaar and Valminoor, enabled more than half the population of Helgen to survive. But the town is in ruins, and dozens of guards and Legionnaires perished in the battle.”
“This is grave news, Dragonborn. May I ask who your friends are?”
“Some are my housecarls, for I am Thane of six Holds. Some are friends I have made during my time in Skyrim. The others are Dragonguard consisting of ex-Blades, children of Blades and natives of Akavir.”
“How long have you known you were Dragonborn?”
“I was born with Lord Akatosh’s blessing, Master Arngeir. I am a Dragonchild, the first mortal born already blessed. I am twenty-two, and yesterday was the first time I used The Voice.”
“May I ask why?”
“We did not want The Greybeards to know I existed, for you would have summoned me.”
“Yes, no matter where on Nirn you used your Thu’um, we would have detected the natural power of a Dragonborn.”
“We hoped to keep Alduin or any of his allies ignorant of my existence. Unfortunately, he knew, so the time I could have spent honing my Thu’um was wasted. But Lady Kynareth has provided some extra assistance, which I must now access.”
“Did Lady Kynareth foresee Alduin’s return?”
“The Nine knew the approximate date of Alduin’s return. I have spent years preparing my other skills in preparation. I arrived in Skyrim four months ago to await The World Eater’s arrival, and now the wait is over. I must act fast before Alduin revives many allies and many more Dov come to Skyrim to support him. When he has amassed enough, the Dragon War will recommence with subsequent loss of life.”
“Tell me about your Dov allies.”
“Throughout history, Nahfahlaar has aided mortals against powerful enemies. He once served under Lord Talos as part of the Imperial Army. He has a weakness for gold and can sometimes seem self-centred, but Nahfahlaar is a loyal friend. Valminoor was introduced to me by Nahfahlaar. He is a powerful dragon that managed to avoid being recruited by Alduin during the Dragon War. Staying neutral at that time was inviting death, for Alduin wanted to be overlord of all Dov and mortal and allowed no neutrality.”
“What is this extra assistance Lady Kynareth has provided?”
“I don’t know exactly. Do you have doors that appeared one day, but you cannot enter?”
“Yes, they came into being almost a millennia ago and have remained closed except for one occasion. A Tongue called Hodir Thunder-Fang opened them from the other side and told The Greybeards he left a gift for a future Dragonborn. That was in the year 3E 282. Three hundred years ago. He refused to say where he came from and how he came to be on the other side. Paarthurnax had warned of his coming and to leave him be.”
“I have read of Hodir Thunder-Fang. He was ridiculed for proposing the application of mage discipline when using The Voice. Perhaps he is laughing at his distractors in Aetherius. It seems Lady Kynareth has entrusted him with an important mission. The gift from Lady Kynareth was intended for any Dragonborn.”
“Do you need me to show you the doors, Dragonborn?”
“No, Master Arngeir. I am sure something will direct me to them.”
“Then, in advance, forgive us for stacking items against them.”
“Do you know the Dragonrend Shout?”
“Where did you learn of that?”
“Doesn’t the firth Emblem say, ‘Man prevailed, Shouting Alduin out of the world.’?”
“So, I knew the Ancient Tongues used a Shout to defeat Alduin. When I examined Alduin’s Wall, two Ancient Tongues brought Alduin to the ground with a Shout. Paarthurnax provided Silah, a Jill and friend of mine, the name of the Shout, Dragonrend.”
“A Jill? On Nirn?”
“Lord Akatosh sent her to aid me. Her expertise in time-related matters is invaluable. She also acts as a liaison between The Nine and me. Master Arngeir, I ask again, do you know the Dragonrend Shout? If not, do you know where I might find information pertaining to it?”
“We knew it was called Dragonrend, but its Words of Power are unknown to The Greybeards. We do not regret this loss. Dragonrend holds no place within The Way of the Voice.”
“And why is that?”
“It was created by those who had lived under the unimaginable cruelty of Alduin’s Dragon Cult. Their whole lives were consumed with hatred for dragons, and they poured all their anger and hatred into that Shout. When you learn a Shout, you take it into your very being. In a sense, you become the Shout. In order to learn and use this Shout, you will be taking this evil into yourself.”
“I know what Dragonrend does, Master Arngeir, and it does not harm a Dovah. Is Unrelenting Force evil, for that does inflict damage upon a Dovah. What about the ice, fire and lightning Shouts? Are they evil? Lord Talos instructed me to find the Words of Power for Dragonrend and the information required to use it. I shall do so.”
“We cannot aid you, for we do not know where such knowledge would be kept.”
“Perhaps The Blades can aid me with that. And please, do not disparage them in front of me, Master Arngeir. Not all of them are mindless dragon slayers.”
“Perhaps that knowledge is contained in the aid provided by Lady Kynareth?”
“The Nine do not have that knowledge. Neither does Paarthurnax or the Ancient Tongues whose souls reside in The Hall of Valour.”
“How can that be?”
“A Shout did not banish Alduin. Felldir used an Elder Scroll to accomplish that feat despite Paarthurnax warning him of unpredictable consequences. It was an act of desperation that did not achieve a complete victory, for Alduin has now returned, and the Dragon War renews. That fact is no criticism of those three gallant heroes. There is no denying that if they were defeated that day, we would still be enslaved by the Dov.”
“You hope those brave three wrote of Dragonrend and The Blades may have gathered that knowledge.”
“Yes, that is what I hope.”
“We will aid you if we can, Dragonborn, but you already speak of things we do not know.”
“I understand that, Master Arngeir. As I said, when time permits, we can sit, and I will tell you how a mortal was born to gods. Until then, Sky Above. Voice within.”
“You are knowledgeable of our ways, Dragonborn. That is heartening. Sky Above. Voice Within.”
I walked over to my companions.
I told them, “First up, let me translate what was said, then you will understand the importance of what was done. I will then break it down for you.”
- “Long has the Stormcrown languished, with no worthy brow to sit upon.
- By our breath, we bestow it now to you in the name of Kyne, in the name of Shor, and in the name of Atmora of Old.
- You are Ysmir now, the Dragon of the North. Hearken to it.”
“Stormcrown is a formal title, such as king or emperor. It derives from Father’s use of the Thu’um at The Battle for Old Hrol’dan. A quote from The Arcturian Heresy describes what occurred.”
- “That night, a storm came and visited Hjalti’s camp. It spoke with him in his tent. At dawn, Hjalti went up to the gates, and the storm followed just above his head. Arrows could not penetrate the winds around him. He Shouted down the walls of Old Hrol’dan, and his men poured in. After their victory, the Nords called Hjalti, Talos, which means Stormcrown.”
- Jordis: Do you think that description of the battle is accurate?
- Wulf: No, it is mumbo-jumbo designed to make what happened more mystical. Like other well-known texts about Talos, the Arcturian Heresy contains bits of truth. However, that book is sensationalist in its descriptions.
- Erandur: What exactly do the titles mean?
- Wulf: Literally, Ysmir is the king of Dov and mortals. It is the overlord role that Alduin covets. Stormcrown refers to The Voice and is the symbolic crown of Ysmir.
- Omoi: The Greybeards have declared that you should be the High King of Skyrim at the least. Emperor, if possible.
- Shouken: And we know why such things need to be kept secret. You would become a pawn in The Empire’s political games.
- Wulf: Even if I stood at the summit of this mountain and told all of Nirn I wasn’t interested, I would become that pawn.
- Omoi: I never did understand Chess.
- Shouken: It didn’t help when you used to dribble on the board.
- Jordis: Apart from Lord Talos, who else has been named Ysmir?
- Wulf: Wulfarth and Pelinal Whitestrake.
- Jordis: The stuff written about Wulfarth is laughable, yet people believe it.
- Wulf: Undoubtedly, he was a gifted leader and strong in The Voice. But yes, much written about him is myth, not fact.
- Omoi: Pelinal Whitestrake never sought to rule, much like you.
- Wulf: He might have been a good ruler until insanity turned him into a butcher.
- Erandur: What was the trigger for Pelinal’s madness?
- Wulf: His beloved, a male spearman, was killed in battle. It irritates me that spearman’s name was not recorded, for his death played a pivotal role in history. I would like to know about him. He was a person, not an anonymous sidenote in history books.
- Shouken: You did well to be so diplomatic, Wulf. When Arngeir said rubbish about evil Shouts, I thought you would lose your temper.
- Wulf: Sometimes, it is better to educate, not obliterate. Declaring Dragonrend evil is unacceptable when he has no idea what it does. Especially when he would readily use other Shouts that hurt and maim if necessary. I asked questions that Arngeir will no doubt think upon.
- Jordis: Come on then, Dragon of the North. We are all curious about the aid left for you.
I closed my eyes and concentrated. Then I opened them and said, “The sealed door is this way. Follow me.”
At the end of a long corridor were doors that looked no different than many others in High Hrothgar, except they would not open, and there were no visible locks.
I made a small cut on my thumb and pressed it against one of the doors. They swung open.
Erandur asked, “What kind of dweomer is that?”
“It is called a Blood Seal. Only those with Dragon Blood can open them. Sometimes they test for a Dragon Soul as well.”
“Could they be tuned for other blessings, such as those of Ningheim?”
“Yes. You could make Blood Seals that check for vampirism, lycanthropy, species, etc.”
The doors opened onto another long corridor.
I said, “If you take measurements of High Hrothgar from outside, this corridor can’t logically exist. It is four-dimensional, like my Journal Case.”
Jordis commented, “The Greybeards probably think there is a closet behind the door.”
“Yes, but imagine a door appearing out of nowhere and mocking you for a thousand years!”
“Now you have opened it, and you should let them look at what it was hiding.”
“We don’t know what it is hiding yet.”
An alcove off the corridor contained a bed and a statue of Father.
Jordis asked, “Is that an accurate representation of Lord Talos?”
“I don’t know what he looked like when he lived, but that statue doesn’t look like Father does now. Also, Father was a sword and board warrior, not a greatsword wielder.”
“He looks stern.”
“Father often smiles or grins. I can’t imagine a smile on that face.”
“There are no statues of your parents at Aurane.”
“I plan on rectifying that when I find ones that I like. However, there are no religious icons at Aurane. I think Mother designed it that way. If could be a comfortable refuge for any Ayleid, be they Daedra or Aedra devotees.”
My friends followed me to a large room further along the corridor. An ancient Nordic representation of Lady Kynareth dominated it.
I picked up a book from a prayer mat. It was written by Hodir Thunder-Fang and described many Shouts he and others had invented.
I stepped close to Kynareth’s statue, and her voice, reminiscent of wind whispering through trees, echoed throughout the chamber.
“Dragonchild, when you accepted the role as our champion to combat Alduin, I was filled with great joy, for you are loved dearly by The Nine.
What I shall gift you is knowledge, but you will need to hone your Thu’um. The Greybeard’s strength in the Thu’um is less than yours, but they can focus all its energy to maximum effect. That is something that will improve over time. It is not crucial for your fight with Alduin. You know you need to ground him. Alas, nothing I teach you will achieve that.
You have wisely blocked your mind to other beings. I ask you kneel, as the flood of knowledge may cause you to lose balance, and open your mind to me.”
My friends were not used to hearing a god, except for Erandur. Therefore, they were a bit stunned by the experience.
I ushered them to the back of the room and said, “I will answer questions later. I ask that you remain here. Omoi, you will creep forward with curiosity, so sit on that chair and don’t move!”
When everybody was in place, I knelt on the mat and opened my mind to Lady Kynareth.
The knowledge poured into my mind. The sensation was similar to when I opened the stored dragon soul.
After a minute, it was over.
I said aloud, “Thank you, Lady Kynareth.”
I was steady enough to walk over to my friends.
- Jordis: I heard the voice of a Divine! That is not an experience I expected when asked to be housecarl.
- Omoi: You take all this in your stride, Wulf, while it is profound to others.
- Wulf: On a spiritual level, what just happened has left me awestruck. But I have had a lifetime of these experiences, Omoi.
- Erandur: What were you taught, Wulf?
- Wulf: Dozens of Words of Power, Shouts and how to use them. I can confidently say I know more Shouts than any other user of the Thu’um in history. Many of the Shouts have only been known by a handful of Tongues.
- Shouken: You probably know as many spells as any mage in history, but you only use a few.
- Wulf: The same will apply to Shouts. Some I will never use.
- Jordis: Is there a difference between learning spells and Shouts, apart from their mechanics?
- Wulf: A mage must gain experience to cast the higher-level spells. A Tongue can use any Shout regardless of experience. The maximum effect of a Shout increases every time a Tongue uses it. The maximum effect of a spell is not increased via experience or repeated casting.
- Jordis: You said to Master Arngeir that Hodir applied the disciplines of mages to The Voice.
- Wulf: Mages are constantly experimenting and learning. Hodir and a handful of other Tongues were also competent mages. Instead of learning every nuance of a Word of Power, they experimented with combinations of Dovahzul words. By doing this, they transformed some Dovahzul words into Words of Power. These discoveries allowed them to create new Shouts. They also, through this experimentation, found new uses for existing Words of Power.
- Jordis: And this was too radical an idea for some Tongues?
- Wulf: Their most prominent critics were The Greybeards, which is ironic, as the contemplation of Words of Power is a cornerstone of their beliefs.
- Shouken: Which will be the most useful of your new Shouts?
- Wulf: I think that Cyclone will. I can cast a Cyclone spell, but its range is limited compared to the Shout. If an enemy hunkers down behind stonework, Unrelenting Force loses its usefulness. Cyclone will ignore the stonework, lift the enemy into the sky, and then drop them from height. It also damages via extreme cold.
- Jordis: Many of us witnessed the boulders raining down from Alduin’s Shout. Do you know that one?
- Wulf: Yes, and others I would be hesitant to use in case allies and innocents are hurt. However, if I snuck into a nest of enemies, especially if they were outside, I would use the Shouts and watch the mayhem.
- Omoi: What now?
- Wulf: We will tell Klimmek we delivered the supplies.
We teleported into Ivarstead.
Two odd-looking people approached. Some locals were staring at them with such distaste that violence seemed inevitable.
I could detect they were both mages of mediocre ability. One was male, the other female. Their clothes had armour similar to Dragon Priests on one arm and gauntlets. The masks they wore were made of Dragonbone and reminiscent of Hermaeus Mora.
I drew my sword and warned, “Do not get any closer. Identify yourselves.”
I heard my friends draw their weapons.
In a heavy Ashlander accent full of sarcasm, the woman asked, “Are you the one they call Dragonborn?”
“That is what Alduin, The Divines, The Greybeards and others call me. Who are you?”
“Your lies fall on dead ears, Deceiver! The True Dragonborn comes, and you are but his shadow.”
“Well, you had better tell The Greybeards they got it wrong. Then you need to pray to one of The Nine at a shrine and tell them they also have it wrong. I don’t fancy your chances of convincing Alduin, but give it a go.”
“Then it is too late. The lie has already taken root in the hearts of others. So, we shall expose the falseness in their hearts by tearing out yours, Deceiver! When Lord Miraak appears, all shall bear witness. None shall stand to oppose him!”
The woman was about to draw a dagger, and the male prepared a spell. Residents of Ivarstead attacked, and Miraak’s Morons turned in surprise. I casually stabbed both of them in the back.
Klimmek came over.
He said, “When I started telling people that our Thane was The Dragonborn, I was met with scorn. People believed me when those two strangers started asking about The Dragonborn. We started watching them closely. I think the guards were about to tell them to move on or get arrested for lollygagging.”
“I could see they were not too popular with the locals.”
“They said there is another Dragonborn, the real one.”
“And I said to them, The Divines, The Greybeards, and Alduin have called me Dragonborn, for that is what I am. And what kind of Dragonborn would send assassins? If there is another Dragonborn called Miraak, he has not been tasked with defeating Alduin. If he is my match, he should be here to rip my heart out!”
“It is all too much for this simple fisherman.”
“I delivered your supplies, Klimmek. Those who helped me have dispersed, so tell them I am thankful for their assistance. Now, I had better figure out who these people are.”
I removed their masks, and the woman was an Ashlander. On the woman was a note written in Dunmeri, which I mentally translated and then read to my squad.
“Hire the vessel Northern Maiden docked at Raven Rock. Take it to Windhelm, then begin your search. Kill the False Dragonborn before they reach Solstheim.
Return with word of your success, and Miraak will be most pleased.”
- Erandur: Miraak is not a name I have heard before. It doesn’t sound like an Ashlander name.
- Wulf: It seems my efforts to hide my status as Dragonborn was a waste of time. They came from Solstheim and then from the port that Northern Maiden uses. If it makes regular trips to Solstheim, it will be one of the northern ports. Most probably Windhelm. They would have had to leave over a week ago to reach Ivarstead.
- Omoi: I doubt they just guessed you would be in Ivarstead. There are probably more of them spread over Skyrim looking for you.
- Wulf: They need a name, and Miraak’s Morons suits them well. They were both mages, but the woman drew a dagger! They faced the five of us with our weapons drawn and had also earned the contempt of Ivarstead locals. Yet they still thought they could hurt me.
- Erandur: Ahh, being a bit of an expert on the subject, they were religious fanatics.
- Jordis: Their masks are a bit odd.
- Wulf: They are carved from Dragonbone. The masks appear to have tentacles which suggest a connection to Hermaeus Mora. The swirls in the eye sockets are a common symbol of mind control.
- Shouken: All those skirmishes and battles we fought in Akavir could have been used to hone your Thu’um. Perhaps, years ago, it would have been best if you had told The Greybeards who you were in person, so they didn’t call out your name.
- Wulf: As I keep saying, The Divines are not omnipotent, and they make mistakes. I don’t want to have to prove I am Dragonborn every time I seek cooperation. We decided it was advantageous for The Greybeards to announce me like they had Father. All Nords know of Tiber Septim’s summoning.
- Erandur: What are you going to do about Miraak?
- Wulf: I will ask Father about Miraak. If he is a Dragonborn, Lord Akatosh will know of him.
- Erandur: You don’t speak to Lord Akatosh directly, do you?
- Wulf: It has been thousands of years since Lord Akatosh spoke to a mortal. Father said no reason had been given.
- Jordis: Should we send somebody to Solstheim to investigate?
- Wulf: Perhaps after we have dealt with Alduin. We don’t know how many repeats of Helgen we might have to deal with.
- Omoi: You always said that being Dragonborn would attract assassins. I am impressed they came before The Greybeards or Alduin announced your identity!
- Wulf: How did Miraak know a Dragonborn existed?
- Shakou: You have tremendous confidence in the confidentiality of your friends and staff. Somebody could have snitched for a bag of gold, Wulf.
- Wulf: How would they know that Miraak wanted this information?
- Jordis: Olette will tell you that there are information agents. They gather information on the off chance they find a buyer.
- Wulf: Yes, I know of them and that Hermaeus Mora is a wealthy customer.
- Shakou: A Dragonborn allied with Hermaeus Mora sounds formidable.
- Wulf: Right this minute, Miraak is not a problem. Therefore, it is time to meet Delphine the Blade.
We teleported to Riverwood.
We entered Sleeping Giant Inn and approached the barkeep.
Before introducing myself, he said, “Delphine wants to talk to you. The door on your right.”
I told my squad, “Delphine has probably paid the local urchins to report our arrival and then watched us approach the inn.”
We entered the room, and Delphine said, “Close the door!”
I did so, and she opened a cupboard with a false back.
I couldn’t help but laugh, then quipped, “Now, if I was a Thalmor operative, and I discovered no clothes in the cupboard, what would I think?”
Omoi replied, “If you are going to use a cliché, at least use it properly.”
Delphine ignored us and slid the not-very-well-hidden panel to reveal steps.
She snarled, “Follow me!”
Delphine stood on the other side of a table with a map in front of her. She had circled the Dragon Mound of Odahviing, then made a line to the next one near Kynesgrove. Sahloknir’s remains were interred there, and he would be the second dragon revived by Alduin.
- Delphine: The Greybeards seem to think you’re the Dragonborn. I hope they’re right.
- Wulf: I am The Dragonborn.
- Delphine: You’ll forgive me if I don’t assume something’s true because the Greybeards say so.
- Wulf: Irileth and some of her guards heard a Dovah name me Dovahkiin as he died. They witnessed me absorb his soul. They witnessed me use The Voice, after which The Greybeards summoned me. Alduin, when he attacked Helgen, announced to General Tullius, Ulfric Stormcloak, First Emissary Elenwen and hundreds of others that I am The Dragonborn. The Divines sent me to Skyrim to stop Alduin.
- Delphine: I’m part of a group that’s been looking for you… well, someone like you, for a very long time. If you really are The Dragonborn, that is. Before I tell you any more, I must ensure I can trust you.
- Wulf: You are a Blade. Is that your big secret?
Delphine had a katana under the table. She moved to grab it, so I leapt across the table, drawing my katana as I went. I kicked her katana out of reach.
- Wulf: You are going to listen without interruption. Am I clear?
- Delphine: Yes.
- Wulf: I am The Dragonborn, and, as a Blade, you are sworn to my service.
- Delphine: Who says I am a Blade?
- Wulf: The katana I just booted is a standard Blade issue. You have a painting of Dragonguard on your wall. Other Blade weapons are spread around this room, and you are paranoid because The Thalmor have been hunting you for decades. Plus, Vayu confirmed it when I mentioned your name to him.
- Delphine: Vayu? The big Redguard?
- Wulf: Yes. I will not tolerate my honesty being questioned again. Therefore, I will return to the other side, and you will listen. There is much to tell you.
I sheathed my sword and leapt over the table. A shaking Delphine leaned on it.
- Wulf: I am Wulf Welkynd, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. I am also a Dragonlord of The Dragonguard.
- Jordis: He is also your Thane.
- Wulf: Omoi is a Dragon Knight of The Dragonguard. Who is your father, Omoi?
- Omoi: Glero Sacilius. He was a Blade who infiltrated many Thalmor strongholds during The Great War. After The White Gold Concordat made them outlaws, he fled to Akavir with several other Blades.
- Wulf: Shouken is also a Dragon Knight of The Dragonguard. Who is your father, Shouken?
- Shouken: Sir Basinius Durullus. A Blade knighted by Emperor Titus Mede II days before becoming an outlaw. He fled to Akavir with Omoi’s father and other Blades.
- Wulf: Fourteen Blades fled to Akavir and found shelter with The Dragonguard. Tsaesci Dragonguard came to my home in Roscrea when I was eighteen. They had been told I was Dragonborn by Lord Talos’ avatar and were to escort me to Akavir, where I was to be trained. When I arrived in Akavir, dozens of Dragonguard swore allegiance to me, as they had to Reman Cyrodiil.
- Delphine: I thought The Tsaesci had eliminated the Dragonguard.
- Wulf: Like you, Delphine, they are hard to find and eliminate. If the Tsaesci ever find them, they will be eliminated. Their numbers aren’t large but they have significantly impacted Akavir politics by defending the oppressed and eliminating despots.
- Delphine: Apart from Vayu, have any other Blades returned with you?
- Wulf: Most have decided to stay, as a population of non-combatants live in The Dragonguard headquarters. They haven’t aged as well as you, Delphine, so that guard duty is more suited to them. Many Swordmasters of the various Akavir races also live in the headquarters and have not joined us here. They can continue our work in Akavir but at a reduced rate.
- Omoi: Celestine and Ko’rassa are with us. Many young Akaviri Dragonguard are also with us.
- Delphine: Ko’rassa was a very young Khajiiti spy, wasn’t she?
- Wulf: Ko’rassa was too young to be enlisted in The Legion, but The Blades accepted her. Celestine was an undercover operative.
- Delphine: It has been decades since I heard of other Blade survivors.
- Wulf: Mage Farengar, and you figured out The Dragonborn Prophecy has been fulfilled. That was well done! You knew that Alduin, and a Dragonborn, could arrive at any moment. Yet you questioned my claim of being that Dragonborn. And before you ask, Farengar did not tell us you were a Blade.
- Delphine: I didn’t think he would, and I have survived by being paranoid, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: You wanted The Dragonstone to compare with Atlas of Dragons. You wanted to know what dragons would be revived by Alduin. Before talking to Mage Farengar, we had already retrieved The Dragonstone and compared it to our Atlas of Dragons. Logically, the first dragon Alduin would revive was his second in command, Odahviing. I see you have circled his Dragon Mound on your map.
- Delphine: I paid people to keep an eye on the Dragon Mound. They reported Alduin revived Odahviing on the 28th.
- Wulf: I thought Alduin would need more time in Sovngarde to gather souls. Perhaps there is an abundance of them wandering lost thanks to Ulfric’s grab for power. Can you imagine it, Delphine? You reach your promised afterlife, only to be wiped from existence by Alduin
- Delphine: Those consumed would know no further loss or pain. But loved ones who had some solace in knowing they would meet again in the afterlife now face a terrible realisation. Their loved ones might not be there to greet them.
- Wulf: So, you understand why I will do what is needed to end Alduin as soon as possible. I don’t want any more Helgen. I don’t want souls in Sovngarde lost for eternity.
- Delphine: What can I do to help?
- Wulf: You guessed that the Dragon Mound near Kynesgrove would be next on Alduin’s list of revivals.
- Delphine: I thought he might go anti-clockwise. It was just intuition.
- Wulf: I think you are right. Retrieve your Blade equipment from the hidden floor cache and join us outside. We shall see if Sahloknir is still buried. If not, we shall hunt for him and eliminate him.
- Delphine: How did you know my armour is in such a cache?
- Shouken: Delphine, you used a hidden panel inside a wardrobe. Why wouldn’t you utilise another cliché?
- Delphine: Oh. Well. It is quite a hike to Kynesgrove! I will meet you outside.
- Wulf: We will get there in seconds. You will find out how.
We stood under cover as rain poured.
About twenty-five minutes after exiting the inn, the rain stopped, and Delphine joined us.
I told her, “I will ask a friend if Sahloknir is still buried. I had better warn the residents first.”
I used my Thu’um and said, “THIS IS THANE WELKYND, THE DRAGONBORN. DO NOT PANIC WHEN A DRAGON HOVERS OVERHEAD. HE IS MY ALLY.”
It started raining again, but that didn’t stop curious locals from gathering in the street.
I summoned Nahfahlaar, who appeared out of the ether a few seconds later and hovered overhead. There was a chorus of oohs and aahs from the audience.
- Nahfahlaar: Wulf, I thought you had finally called me for tinvaak. But no, you are going dragon hunting, aren’t you?
- Wulf: Sorry, old friend, but I can’t spare a minute. We shall sit and talk soon.
- Omoi: Hello, Jewel of The Empire.
- Nahfahlaar: Don’t crawl up my butt, Omoi. You still owe me a golden candelabra.
- Wulf: Did he play poker and lose again?
- Nahfahlaar: Badly.
- Wulf: You have been patrolling the east and Valminoor the west. Is that correct?
- Nahfahlaar: Yes, and if you are going to ask about Sahloknir’s Dragon Mound, you had better get there in a hurry. Alduin started the revival a few minutes ago. It takes some time, and you might want to watch the process. Odahviing left for Hammerfell. There may be many brethren who don’t want to be involved, but he will persuade them.
- Wulf: Thank you, Nahfahlaar. Give your admirers a show as you leave.
- Nahfahlaar: As if I wouldn’t!
Nahfahlaar tucked his wings and almost pivoted mid-air. He then gained some height and dived towards Riverwood, roaring as he flew overhead. Most of the adults cringed, and a few screamed. The children watching laughed, clapped, and cheered.
- Delphine: That was not how I expected my first encounter with a dragon would be.
- Wulf: All of you, heed my warning! Alduin will be reviving Sahloknir. Nobody is to torment him. I strictly forbid taunts, spells and arrows. He will not attack me, not yet. But if you anger him, his Dov instincts might overcome his caution, and we cannot defeat him.
- Delphine: Why won’t he attack you?
- Wulf: It is complicated, but he risks causing a Dragon Break if I were killed. Plus, he does not know the strength of my Thu’um. He may think I know the Shout the Ancient Tongues used to make him land.
- Delphine: He can’t be harmed when airborne, can he?
- Wulf: No, he can’t.
- Delphine: This is very risky.
- Omoi: Hadn’t we better get going, Wulf?
- Wulf: Erandur, do you know Kynesgrove well enough to teleport there?
- Erandur: Yes. You teleport Delphine, and I will bring the others.
- Wulf: Delphine, place your hand on my shoulder and leave it there. We had better hurry.
Delphine did as I asked, and a few seconds later, we were in Kynesgrove.
The veteran Blade didn’t have time to ask questions as Iddra, the innkeeper of Braidwood Inn, came running towards us.
She exclaimed, “A dragon… it’s attacking!”
“No dragon is attacking Kynesgrove, Iddra.”
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe not yet, but it flew over our town and landed on the old dragon burial mound.”
“The Dragon Mound is on the trail past the mine, correct?”
“Yes, and I don’t know what it’s doing up there, but I’m not waiting to find out!”
Iddra shrieked as Erandur, and the others appeared out of nowhere. She ran around them and continued towards Windhelm.
I darted up the trail, and Alduin soon came into view.
I used Night Vision, as I wanted a clear view of my nemesis.
Whatever Alduin had done before we arrived had started the revival process. Lifeforce streamed from the Dragon Mound as The World Eater hovered overhead.
Alduin said, “SAHLOKNIR, ZIIL GRO DOVAH ULSE!” (Sahloknir, I bind your dragon spirit for eternity!)
Then he used a Shout I did not know.
“SLEN TIID VO” (Flesh Time Undo)
Sahloknir roared as he burst through the lid of the Dragon Mound.
Sahloknir’s flesh started to reform as he asked, “Alduin, thuri! Boaan tiid vokriiha suleyksejun kruziik?” (Alduin, my lord. Has the time come to revive our ancient realm?)
Alduin replied, “”Geh, Sahloknir, kaali mir.” (Yes, Sahloknir, my champion.)
I used my Thu’um to full effect and yelled, “STRUNMAH FAAL SAHLOKNIR, DII LOS DII DOVAHKIIN, AHRK DILON ZAHKRII DO NIRN!” (Sahloknir, I am The Dragonborn, and you will never fly the skies of Nirn!)
I drew my sword as Alduin roared, “SAHLOKNIR, KRII DAAR JOORRE!” (Sahloknir, kill these mortals!)
Alduin lifted higher and hovered. Sahloknir roared, “I am Sahloknir! Hear my Voice and despair!”
I yelled back, “I am Wulf! Feel my katana and die!”
I ran up and sliced the still-reviving Sahloknir across the snout.
He reared up and lunged at me. I easily avoided his snapping jaws and sliced him again.
Sahloknir lunged once more, and it was the opportunity I needed.
I knocked his head to the side, then leapt upon it.
By this time, the others were attacking both flanks, and Sahloknir’s fate was sealed.
He tried to shake me, but I kept my balance, knelt and plunged my katana into his brain.
I leapt off the dying Dovah and landed next to Delphine, who stared at me in astonishment.
All was silent as I absorbed Sahloknir’s soul.
Alduin’s roar was pure anger as he flew away at tremendous speed.
When I turned, Delphine still stared at me with her mouth wide open.
I walked up to her, and she gave me a Blade salute.
- Wulf: Do you still doubt I am The Dragonborn, Delphine?
- Delphine: How could I, after that display?
- Omoi: There was a purpose for that display.
- Erandur: Wulf beat Alduin’s champion without using The Voice.
- Omoi: Yes. It was a show of contempt, and I think Alduin understood completely.
- Wulf: Alduin is still left wondering about my Thu’um’s strength, but he witnessed the strength of my sword.
- Delphine: What is next? Alduin won’t allow you to slaughter every dragon he revives.
- Wulf: I need to find information about a Shout called Dragonrend. It is the one the Ancient Blades used to ground Alduin.
- Delphine: I am afraid I can’t help you with that.
- Wulf: We need to find more Blades in hiding. They should no longer cower in fear. If we are lucky, one of them will point us to the information we seek.
- Delphine: Your best chance of finding other Blades is to steal the dossiers that The Thalmor keep.
- Wulf: Ko’rassa could infiltrate their embassy, but that is a very high-risk option.
- Delphine: I have my resources in Skyrim. I can have an invitation to one of Elenwen’s parties arranged if you give me a few days.
- Wulf: Okay, that gets me in the front door, unarmoured and unarmed, I assume.
- Delphine: Yes, not even a dagger is allowed. I must convince somebody to grow a backbone, and you can sneak away from the party. But as I said, I have resources. Meet me in a few days, and I will tell you the details.
- Wulf: The invitation should be for an Argonian. Can I have some suggestions for an amusing name?
- Jordis: Swims-in-Circles.
- Omoi: Croaks-at-Night.
- Erandur: Scales-for-Brains.
- Shouken: Slurps-the-Swamp.
- Wulf: The others are good, but Slurps-the-Swamp is brilliant!
- Delphine: I am confused. The invitation is for you, and you are not an Argonian.
- Wulf: I will be Argonian from the tip of my horns to the end of my tail. The Psijic Order conducted part of my training. They taught me many valuable spells.
- Shouken: I have seen Wulf use the spell to become a Khajiiti. It is impressive magic!
- Delphine: Okay, the invitation will be for an Argonian named Slurps-the-Swamp.
- Wulf: The party is when?
- Delphine: There is one in two days, but there is no way I can move around quickly enough to arrange things.
- Wulf: You will be able to with a mage who can teleport. Erandur, you are to aid Delphine. We can’t wait for the party after that one.
- Erandur: Okay.
- Wulf: You arrange the invitation and inside contact, Delphine. I assume the dress is formal. I have personal carriage drivers and will use one to take me there.
- Delphine: Yes, it is formal, and many spend a fortune to impress.
- Jordis: Wulf has shown me orders from Elenwen. Yet people want to impress her, and that sickens me. She tells Jusiticiars where to hunt Talos Worshippers and kill them.
- Erandur: Not all of them want to impress, Jordis. Many want to keep a cordial relationship for now.
- Wulf: The well-dressed Argonian trader, Slurps-the-Swamp, will be the suspect if some Thalmor accidentally die while I am there.
- Jordis: Do not speak of such tragedies, Wulf! Everybody would be wracked with grief if Thalmor were to die.
- Wulf: I assume I will meet this contact and hand him the gear I need?
- Delphine: That’s the plan.
- Wulf: He won’t need to take the risk and smuggle gear in, Delphine. I will teleport out, change into my armour, and teleport back in.
- Delphine: You should still meet him so he knows who my spy is.
- Wulf: Slurps-the-Swamp will meet him.
- Delphine: Was Sahloknir a powerful dragon?
- Wulf: He was stronger than the other two we defeated. However, nothing compares to the strength of Alduin and Odahviing, apart from Nahfahlaar and Paarthurnax.
- Delphine: What did you say to Sahloknir?
- Wulf: Alduin told him to kill us. Sahloknir boasted about the strength of his Thu’um. I told him he would never fly the skies of Nirn.
- Shouken: Brutal but honest.
- Wulf: Okay, hand on my shoulder, Delphine. It is time to go home.
I teleported Delphine to Riverwood. Erandur soon followed with the others.
As Delphine and Erandur entered The Sleeping Giant, I teleported the rest of us to the palace.
I went to the inn, where I was surprised to see Celestine and Vayu. I sat with them and Seiko and talked while having supper.
Seiko is one of the younger Dragonguard, and Kogo acts like her big brother on occasion. She is the daughter of formerly enslaved people. Seiko is of Dragon Knight rank and is an expert with kai-katana.
We talked about the day’s events, much like our informal meetings in Akavir. As usual, Seiko was very quiet.
I talked to a few others and even took a turn as a bartender for a bit.
When I returned to the palace, I checked on the children. Gladys and Meeko were on duty as per usual.
I spoke to Tilde, my steward, and nothing urgent needed to be done around Aurane.
I soaked in the spa for some time.
Then I headed for bed.
I don’t know what time I fell asleep.
4 thoughts on “Dragon of the North”
Just saw that this was up. looking forward to reading it tonight.
‘Alduin lifted higher and hovered. Sahloknir roared, “I am Sahloknir! Hear my Voice and despair!”
I yelled back, “I am Wulf! Feel my katana and die!”’
For the love of what’s most Sacred to me, I can only call you: Maestro! For all means intended. You know what for Maestro for an Italian born means: Vitruvio, Leonardo and Michelangelo among others. You are my favourite storyteller, my friend, and I assure you, I read a lot in my past.
May the Moon shines always on you because you deserve all the thanks and mana you can have.
Very Nice. I enjoyed how you handled Delphine. Thank You Mark
Very Nice! I enjoyed how you handled Delphine. Thank You Mark