Tirdas, 9th Hearthfire, 4E 201
& Midas, 10th Hearthfire, 4E 201
The moment I woke, I made up my mind. I would tell Rigmor who I am.
As with last night’s meal, we ate breakfast and did not discuss Rigmor’s experiences or my secrets. Instead, we talked about current politics in Skyrim and why I opposed Ulfric.
When we finished, I said, “Rigmor, to fully understand my dislike for Ulfric, you need to know who I am. I also want my friends to assist us without having to watch what they say.”
“You are going to tell me everything?”
“Yes, I don’t think it is right I keep it from you. Help me clean up the breakfast dishes. Then we shall sit and talk.”
It was still early in the morning, just after sunrise, when we sat before a crackling fire.
Rigmor said, “You look worried, Wulf. Just tell me, and everything will be okay.”
“You know I was born in Roscrea.”
“I was born on a small island, one of many, near the Roscrea mainland. Because the island does not have a name, I say I am born in Roscrea.”
“My birth date is 29th Sun’s Height, 4E 179. That makes me twenty-two years of age. I am an old man compared to you.”
“That explains the wrinkles and grey hair.”
“Despite who my parents are, I am mortal. The same things that could kill you could also kill me.”
“That is a bit morbid!”
“Maybe so, but you must understand that fact.”
“Why would the identity of your parents have any influence on your mortality?”
“My parents are gods.”
Rigmor stared at me. I waited a few seconds and then continued.
“Both my parents were once mortal. After becoming gods, they fell in love and desired a mortal child. Other gods helped them achieve this. They lived as mortals once more for some time. I was conceived the normal way and was raised by them. Just like your family, there was a father, a mother, and their child. They taught me by example and instilled in me my values. Them being gods was secondary to me. They were Father and Mother above all things.”
Rigmor asked, “There are many gods. Which ones are your parents?”
“Lord Talos and Saint Alessia.”
Rigmor gasped, and I couldn’t help laughing at her shocked expression.
I told her, “Instead of me telling you things that are not of interest, you can ask what you want. I shall try to answer without too much gobblygook.”
“Lord Akatosh decides who to make a Dragonborn. Is that correct?”
“Did your parentage influence Lord Akatosh’s choice? Are they why you were made a Dragonborn?”
“No. I reiterate that I was naturally conceived. Not long after a foetus becomes viable, a random soul from The Void finds its way to it. My parents did not select my soul or any other god we know. However, I suspect some manipulation by an unknown entity for Lord Akatosh did not bless me. I was born a Dragonborn. They call me a Dragonchild, and I am the only one who has existed in this Kalpa.”
“Woah! Are you saying some things happen that our gods can’t explain?”
“Yes, and I will explain why.”
“I will apply the law of gobblygook as we can only understand part of the puzzle.”
“I am glad you have learnt that lesson.”
“It seems an important one to remember.”
“These are the basics. Different races have different creation theories. However, they interpret the basic events worded to appease religious beliefs. I will tell you the raw events, and then you will understand why our gods have limited knowledge.”
Rigmor concentrated on my words, and I knew they would make sense.
I explained, “Aurbis is the cosmological framework encompassing all physical and spiritual existence. It is the ultimate reality in which all things exist and the source of all creation.
Aurbis is divided into two main realms: The Void, what some people claim is Oblivion, which is the realm of the Daedra, and Aetherius, which is the realm of the Aedra and the source of magic.
Aurbis was created by a god or gods said to exist beyond time and space. They created the Et’Ada, the original spirits that would eventually become the Aedra and the Daedra.
The Aurbis is often represented as a wheel, with the central hub being Mundus, The Mortal Plane, and the spokes representing the different planes of existence, such as the various realms of Oblivion and Aetherius.
When looked on from above, the Imperial City mimics that wheel with The White-Gold Tower representing Mundus.”
“I am positive I read that Aurbis is a universe.”
“Yes, and there are probably countless universes. The term for that is a multiverse.”
“Oh…kay…Keep going till my eyes roll into my head, and I collapse.”
“Mundus is the physical plane of existence where we live. It is often called The Mortal Plane.
It is a realm composed of the planets, including Nirn, the moons, Masser and Secunda, the stars and the vast space between them.
The gods that created Mundus we call Aedra. They sacrificed much of their power to create The Mortal Plane and its inhabitants. The creation process was violent and chaotic, resulting in the conversion of some Et-Ada into Daedra.
Remember, both Aedra and Daedra originate from Et-Ada. They have a common ancestry.
The laws of physics and magic govern Mundus. These laws were decided upon at Convention and agreed to by numerous gods.
However, what the Et-Ada could accomplish was constrained by the laws of metaphysics. Metaphysics is beyond their ability to change, and its laws were often a mystery. Thus, the Aedra and Daedra are similarly constrained.
“Our gods, The Nine, are all Aedra, and metaphysics is why they don’t know everything.”
“That’s the basics. Yes.”
“So other gods made our gods?”
“The Et-Ada may have just come into being without another god or gods being their creators. However, there is no denying they were changed into Aedra and Daedra. I am comfortable with a god or gods creating the Et-Ada, but you could ask who created them?”
“You could go on forever thinking that gods must have created other gods for generations backwards!”
“Logic tells you that at some point in the past, everything just came into being and that some gods were a natural result of that process.”
“Explain The Void.”
“Strictly speaking, The Void is a realm of emptiness and darkness outside Aurbis. Colloquially, people regard The Void and Oblivion as the same thing. That is not correct. Oblivion exists in The Void, but is not its entirety.”
“And souls come from The Void?”
“Within The Void, there are souls yet to be born and souls yet to be claimed after death. Those yet to be born are unaware of their surroundings. The souls of the deceased yet to be claimed are aware of their colourless, noiseless existence. Consignment to The Void after death for an extended period is a form of punishment. For instance, a mortal may displease their chosen Daedric Prince, such as Molag Bal, and instead of being rewarded an afterlife in Coldharbour, they are left to float in The Void.”
“I have steered us away from the main topic. That being, who is Wulf Welkynd, the man that I love?”
“It’s okay, Rigmor. To understand me, some of this gobblygook is important.”
“Your father is Lord Talos. That means you are a Septim.”
“Yes. My real name is Valdr Septim. Valdr is Ayleidoon for Wolf. I use the alias of Wulf because Father often used it when his avatar visited Nirn. Mother chose Welkynd as it means Star Child.”
“I understand. It would be dangerous for you to be known as a Septim.”
“Yes, but there are suspicions even if I don’t announce that fact. The Greybeards have not summoned anybody for centuries. The last person they summoned was Father, and when he arrived, they named him Ysmir. Baa’Ren-Dar suspects that they did the same to me. To many, being named Ysmir would make me the legitimate heir to The Ruby Throne and candidate for High King of Skyrim. Many factions are manoeuvring to place their preferred candidate on The Ruby Throne. Those who suspect the same as Baa’Ren-Dar will see me as threatening their plans. They will plot my death, even if I never try to claim The Ruby Throne and am never named heir by His Imperial Majesty.”
“They would hire assassins to kill you!”
“You have one group we know is trying to kill you, and that is The New Order. The Dominion may also want you dead. Many enemies want me dead, and their number will only increase. Some Daedric Princes will be on that list as I thwart their plans.”
“My acceptance of your parentage was not your major concern. You think that the revelation of current and future danger will make me not want to love you, or even worse, to love you but abandon you.”
Rigmor is amazingly intuitive!
I replied, “How can you make long-term plans with me, Rigmor? What kind of stability can I provide?”
“Are you forced to do what you do?”
“No, I was asked if I would accept the Champion of The Divines role. I was well aware of the consequences when I said yes.”
“Could you stop being Champion of The Divines if you wanted?”
“Some Et-Ada sacrificed their immortality to become our mortal ancestors, called the Ehlnofey. Before doing so, it was agreed that mortals were to have free will. It is something revered by Aedra and reviled by some Daedra. The Divines don’t force mortals to do things. Therefore, theoretically, I could refuse to perform the duties assigned to me. However, that would require me to ignore everything I am. I can confidently say that I would never voluntarily stop doing what I do.”
“That is the answer I expected. Entwined Souls aside, I would fall in love with you despite all your warnings, weirdness, and other revelations yet to surface. Nothing will stop me from loving you and wanting to be by your side, Valdr Septim.”
“No, stop it, Wulf! I am curious about your life in Roscrea and Akavir and will learn about them soon. We have that list to retrieve right now, and you must accept what I say if we are to move forward.”
“I accept what you say, Rigmor Ragnarsdottier.
“So, Dragonbum, what is the plan?”
“I have thought about what to do, and we will not ride to the port. Now that I have told you who my parents are, my companions can travel with us. I will take you to my palace, and there I will prepare your father’s sword, Angi’s bow and the Daedric amulet for you. There is a beautiful suit of armour I will place dweomer on, and there are many wigs for you to choose from. Within three hours, we will be ready to travel and will not be recognisable. I will ask a young orphan, Olette, to show you around. She is a chatterbox, and I am sure you will learn lots about me from her.”
“Well then? Wiggle your fingers and take me to this palace of yours.”
“I don’t wriggle my fingers when casting spells.”
“Okay…don’t bite me! Stand up, and we will be there in a second or two.”
We appeared in Aurane, and Rigmor gasped.
My friends would be aware of where I have been. They might be curious about Rigmor, but they knew I would introduce her in time.
I led Rigmor to my private quarters.
She exclaimed, “This place is enormous! The architecture reminds me of Ayleid ruins.”
“That’s because this was made in the Ayleid style by Mother. It is the safest place on Nirn for my friends and me.”
“Your friends were curious but careful not to stare. Do they know who I am?”
“They know who you are, as Celestine and her partner would tell them where I am and what I am doing. Most of them know about when I travelled to you when you were fourteen.”
“You said a young orphan will show me around.”
“Wait, and she will make an entrance. Her curiosity will ensure that. Won’t it, Olette?”
Olette called from the doorway, “Ahh…Cap’n, is it alright for me to enter?”
We met Olette on the lower level. She ignored me and went straight to Rigmor.
- Olette: Hello, I am Olette. Are you Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Yes, I am.
- Olette: Does Rigmor know your secrets, Cap’n?
- Wulf: Shouldn’t you have asked that when Rigmor couldn’t hear the question?
- Rigmor: If you are talking about Wulf’s real name and who his parents are, then the answer is yes.
- Olette: That is cool! I don’t have to be careful with what I say.
- Rigmor: It is cool that you use the word cool!
- Wulf: I will have to talk to the tutors. Their language lessons need improvement.
- Rigmor: Wulf said you would show me around.
- Olette: Can I, Cap’n? I will miss out on arithmetic class.
- Wulf: Yes, Olette. I am sure you afford to miss one lesson.
- Olette: Yeah, who needs to know Quadratic Equations are mathematical expressions that involve a variable raised to the power of two and can be solved using the quadratic formula or factoring.
- Rigmor: Huh?
- Wulf: Olette, did you sell information to an elderly Khajiiti in Riften?
- Olette: Yes, he was one of my favourite customers. He would always pay good coin and be interested in everything, including rumours and gossip.
- Wulf: That Khajiiti is Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar. He looked after Rigmor for many years. He is like her adopted father.
- Olette: That is so…
- Rigmor: Cool!
- Olette: Yeah! Come on, Rigmor, there is a lot to show you.
Rigmor laughed as Olette grabbed her hand and dragged her out of the private quarters.
I honed Rigmor’s heirloom sword and placed dweomer on it. Then I restrung Angi’s bow and placed dweomer on that as well. I then attached a new chain to the Daedric amulet.
I donned my armour and the mask that would disguise me. No two people who saw me for the first time would provide the same description if somebody asked.
Two hours later, I asked Dhali to find Rigmor and Olette. The Ka’Po’Tun would be accompanying us.
Dhali and Olette helped Rigmor into her new armour. Rigmor chose her wig and then showed me the result.
- Rigmor: Well, what do you think?
- Wulf: It is not as lovely as the other armour, but still better than most.
- Olette: Cap’n, you are supposed to say it is brilliant and so much better because Rigmor is wearing it.
- Wulf: Rigmor, it is brilliant and much better because you wear it!
- Rigmor: Do you think there is any hope for him, Olette?
- Olette: Keep trying, Rigmor. As my mum used to say, you can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.
- Wulf: Doesn’t that mean something can’t be done, so you might as well not try?
- Rigmor: Wulf is using logic and facts again.
- Olette: It’s annoying, but we shouldn’t pick on somebody’s disabilities.
- Wulf: Why did I leave you two alone?
- Olette: Your pain is…
- Rigmor: … our gain!
- Wulf: What do you think of Aurane?
- Rigmor: Everything is so pretty! Olette showed me the Welkynd crystals. Does the pool near them have any unique properties?
- Wulf: Yes, it relaxes you. It doesn’t have the minerals of the hot springs, so it probably wouldn’t help your back.
- Olette: I cried when I saw the scars, as did Dhali. Why can’t you fix them for Rigmor?
- Rigmor: I don’t want them fixed at the moment, Olette. They help with my motivation. Sometimes it is hard to keep going when searching for my mother.
- Wulf: I see you have your bow, Olette. While showing Rigmor the highlights of Aurane, did they include the shooting range and Oliver?
- Rigmor: Is that the name of the young boy who was shirtless and sweaty while working the forge? Olette seemed hypnotised, and I can’t remember her shooting at the targets.
- Wulf: Olette, you are almost as red as Rigmor’s armour!
- Olette: Ahem, don’t you have to be somewhere, Cap’n?
- Wulf: Yes, and thank you, Olette, for showing Rigmor around and helping with her armour.
- Olette: I hope you find your mother, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: We will find her. It has been a pleasure meeting you, Olette.
Olette had already introduced Rigmor to many living in Aurane, including the Ka’Po’Tun. Dhali gathered the squad, and I explained where we were going and why.
It was about 10:30 AM when we teleported to the outskirts of Solitude and started our long walk.
There was little traffic on the road.
We were about to turn right on the road that led past Meridia’s temple when a Thalmor patrol approached.
The Justiciar leading them stared at us but carried on. They were also heading right.
I turned to the group.
- Wulf: They didn’t recognise or haven’t been told to look for us.
- Rigmor: It would be helpful to know if all Thalmor are hunting me or just The New Order.
- Wulf: Let’s find out.
- Dhali: This will not turn out well for our Dominion friends.
- Wulf: I won’t be the first to draw a weapon, Dhali.
We caught up with the Justiciar, and I said, “Excuse me, Justiciar, can I ask you something?”
The Justiciar turned and replied, “Yes, citizen. What is it?”
“I heard there is a reward for some young criminal lady. Brigmor of Ruma or some such.”
“Her name is Rigmor of Bruma, and she is wanted for murder. The reward is fifteen thousand Septims.”
“Are you looking for her?”
“Why? Do you know of her whereabouts?”
“Are you hunting her on behalf of The Dominion or The New Order?”
“She is a criminal, and if you shelter or aid her, you will be punished.”
“Oh, now I am scared. Ahh, I think that lady in red behind me is her!”
The Justiciar asked Rigmor, “Are you Rigmor of Bruma?”
“That is what you scum have decided to call me. I was born Rigmor Ragnarsdottier.”
The Justiciar prepared a spell and yelled, “Seize her and kill anybody who gets in the way!”
The Thalmor troops started to draw their weapons.
I disposed of the Justiciar and a soldier. My friends eliminated the others.
A passing Imperial squad killed a woman who had drawn a bow and was aiming at Rigmor.
An Imperial officer said, “The Thalmor have troops stationed at both ends of Dragon Bridge. The tension between them and The Penitus Oculatus could be cut with a knife. The woman we just killed is a known Thalmor snitch. We were itching for an excuse to cut her down, and she gave us one. Have a good day.”
None of the dead Thalmor had a wanted poster. We didn’t know if they were Dominion or New Order.
As we walked past Meridia’s Temple, Dhali mimicked the Daedric Prince.
- Dhali: Return my Beacon to Mount Kilkreath. And I will make you the instrument of my cleansing light.
- Wulf: If it stops the nagging, I will do it.
- Dhali: Of course you will. I have commanded it!
- Wulf: I didn’t say when. I might get around to it when I am bored.
- P’Sua: And that is how Wulf made an enemy of a Dark Lord, just like that.
- Wulf: Hey, I am still her champion.
- P’Sua: Didn’t you tell her that Dawnbreaker will never be used but locked somewhere in Aetherius?
- Wulf: I only spoke the truth!
The Ka’Po’Tun regaled Rigmor with the story of Meridia’s Beacon and how it kept appearing in cupboards and chests. They slightly exaggerated my rudeness to Lady Meridia, but Rigmor understood. Meridia is not my favourite Daedric Prince.
A bit further up the road, a bandit stood in our way.
I yelled, “Move aside or die.”
He told his bandit allies to attack.
I cut him down, and my friends disposed of several others.
We turned left onto the road that leads to High Rock’s border.
Just as a brief shower passed overhead, another bandit blocked the road.
I told the group, “He will demand a toll. A large bandit gang is occupying Fort Hraggstad, and I don’t want to waste time clearing it out. If we demonstrate some force, the bandits will decide there are easier targets than the six of us.”
Rigmor asked, “But you will eliminate them another day?”
“Yes, they are on my list of annoyances.”
When we got closer to the bandit, I used my Thu’um and said, “THE DRAGONBORN DOES NOT PAY TOLLS. MOVE OR DIE!”
The fool charged, and my friends killed him.
We waited a few seconds, and the bandits wisely stayed inside the fort.
The shower cleared, and we continued on our way.
Some Legionnaires were fighting a Draman. A patrol of Stormcloaks ran to them and attacked from behind.
I Blinked to the Stormcloaks and started killing them. My friends took care of several with their bows.
The Legionnaires finished disposing of the Draman.
Their officer said, “That was well done, strangers. The Legion could do with people like you. Visit Castle Dour and join us against these cowardly rebels!”
“I am The Dragonborn, and my friends are The Dragonguard. We will destroy Ulfric soon. Can we expect more Stormcloaks along this road?”
“Yes, they are trying to block supplies from High Rock.”
“Well, it is going to be a bad day for them. Thank you for your service.”
We travelled a bit further when I turned to the group.
I told them, “The Stormcloaks are trying to stifle supplies from High Rock and Cyrodiil. There is nothing of strategic value along this road, but we can still expect many Stormcloak troops. There would also be many along the roads leading from Falkreath into the mountains. They will attack any Thalmor, New Order, or Imperial troops encountered.”
A Frost Spriggan Maiden attacked us and was quickly killed.
Simultaneously, a Necromancer summoned some undead that attacked me.
As I disposed of him and his minions, a large tribe of Goblins attacked.
They did not last long.
- Wulf: Well, that was an exciting couple of minutes.
- Dhali: Why did the Necromancer attack?
- Wulf: I don’t know, but I killed him on the steps of Volskygge. I hope none of his colleagues is stupid enough to interfere with that tomb. It is the burial crypt of Volsung, a powerful and evil Dragon Priest.
- P’Sua: Necromancers don’t care and will open any sealed tomb.
- Wulf: Yes, and a being like Volsung would kill the necromancers, reanimate them, and begin terrorising the area.
- Rigmor: But we will not investigate.
- Wulf: No. We have one target today, and that is the slaver’s list.
- P’Sua: If they release Volsung, we must return to dispose of him.
- Wulf: What? The Vigilants of Stendarr wouldn’t come running and do that?
- Rigmor: Those useless pricks…ahh…people. All they do in Bruma is hassle innocent civilians.
- Wulf: The same in Skyrim, Rigmor. They forget that Daedric worship is not illegal. Worse still, they disobey what Stendarr says in The Ten Commands of The Nine Divines.
- Rigmor: I am slowly building a list of people and groups you dislike. I will add The Vigilants of Stendarr to it.
- Shiva: The Silver Hand is another for the list.
- Rigmor: Who are they?
- Wulf: Mindless Werewolf hunters. I was walking past one of their forts when they attacked me for no reason. I killed dozens of them in that fort. Now they are not my favourite people.
- Khao: It is like Wulf carries a sign that says, “Attack me and die. I dare you!”
The weather would not make up its mind. Sun and then rain and then sun again.
In the distance were some ruins.
Rigmor asked, “What is that place?”
“It is an ancient Nord tomb. I don’t know its original name, but it is now called Deepwood Redoubt because it is full of Forsworn.”
We could hear the sounds of a skirmish and ran to it.
An Imperial in glass armour was defending himself against two bandits. One bandit used a trident, and both wore identical armour, suggesting they were part of an organised gang.
I disposed of the bandit with the trident.
Then an Ice Spear from Khao and my sword took care of the other bandit.
I approached their intended victim and asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, thanks to you and your friends.”
“Do you have any idea who they were?”
“Marauders, but they are far from the shore or port.”
“I am Lord Welkynd. May I ask where you are headed?”
“Lord Welkynd? The Dragonborn? Your friends must be The Dragonguard. I am Felix Decimus Varrus. I was heading for Solitude to see if trading caravans need an experienced guard. The politics in High Rock are a bit volatile for my liking.”
“You handled yourself well, Felix. Were you in the Legion?”
“Yes, I am the tenth with my name to serve. I was a sergeant in the 10th Legion.”
“Then you would have served under General Decianus.”
“You know your history, Lord Welkynd.”
“You seem young for a veteran of The Great War. I think you have a bit of Mer blood, Felix.”
“There is Mer blood. That is true.”
“The Khajiiti caravans are always looking for competent guards. Tell Ri’saad that Wulf sent you. I am sure he will find a place for you. They travel all over Skyrim.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“Good luck, Felix. You should find the road fairly quiet, but be wary near Fort Hraggstad.”
A while later, a Draman tried to hide inside a broken tower.
It was too late, for I had seen him.
We killed him, then continued.
A bit further along, we encountered a large skirmish between Stormcloaks and Imperials. We helped eliminate the rebels.
We watched the Legionnaires march onward. They would soon reverse direction and repeat their patrol.
- Rigmor: Wulf, what will you do about the civil war?
- Wulf: I will help General Tullius destroy Ulfric.
- Rigmor: Would some Stormcloaks abandon Ulfric if you oppose him?
- Wulf: Yes, many will after I tell them the truth about Ulfric.
- Rigmor: Which is?
- Wulf: Ulfric betrayed The Empire during The Great War. Ulfric murdered thousands of innocents when he captured Markarth from The Forsworn. Ulfric is a Thalmor puppet, and they rescued him from Helgen when Alduin destroyed it. He has no Divine approval to fight for religious rights. Lord Talos does not want people to kill each other, and many Legionnaires who die in the civil war worship Talos.
- Rigmor: He claims to fight for Talos, yet your father has not asked him to.
- Wulf: Correct. No clergy of The Nine have backed Ulfric’s claim that he fights for Talos.
- Rigmor: If you, The Dragonborn, were to announce these things, Ulfric would lose most of his army!
- P’Sua: Wulf is a Nord hero. They must ask why Lord Akatosh’s champion does not support somebody claiming to fight for Lord Talos.
- Dhali: The Dragonborn of myth is revered by the Nords because he is a warrior. I doubt they associate him with The Nine.
- Wulf: They would revere me like that butcher Ysgramor.
- Rigmor: So, should I add The Companions to the list of those Wulf dislikes?
- P’sua: Detest is more like it.
- Wulf: If I was Jarl and Whiterun was attacked by Stormcloaks, I would demand The Companions help defend the city.
- Rigmor: And if they didn’t?
- Wulf: I would march them out the front gate and seal up Jorrvaskr.
- Rigmor: They would claim they have to remain neutral.
- Wulf: That option becomes invalid if Ulfric tosses fire and boulders indiscriminately over the walls of Whiterun. That is not battle but the murder of innocents. And I have no doubt a person who can murder his king has no limit to his ambition.
- Dhali: If you read the accurate histories, not the glorified Nord propaganda, you would know what atrocities Ulfric practices. He butchered non-combatants, including the elderly, mothers, and children, in Markarth well after the battle for the city was won. Yet those who follow him ignore this.
- Wulf: I hope they don’t ask me to sit on any negotiations for a truce.
- Shiva: You hold the Rules of Parley in the highest regard.
- Wulf: Those rules don’t exclude me from baring my arse at Ulfric and telling him to kiss it!
- Khao: Since you don’t wipe it, that would be particularly gross!
- Wulf: And hairy!
- Rigmor: Okay, I have second thoughts about our relationship, Wulf.
- Wulf: Why? If you want to kiss my arse, I can wipe and shave it. Problem solved!
- Dhali: Don’t cut him in half, Rigmor. He hasn’t paid this month’s wages yet.
- Shiva: Nobody complains about my arse being hairy!
- Wulf: Rigmor, did you know that Khajiiti and Ka’Po’Tun can lick their arses?
- Shiva: That is one of the many traits that make us superior races.
- Rigmor: It is contagious. You hang around Wulf too long and wake up almost as weird as him one morning.
- P’Sua: The keyword there is ‘almost.’
We came to the turnoff leading to the port. I could see a white bear locked in a cage. As soon as Rigmor saw it, she ran to it.
The bear had killed an Imperial soldier. By the condition of the bear, it has been badly mistreated. It has not consumed the soldier that it killed.
I looked at Rigmor, who showed great concern for the giant animal.
- Rigmor: Look at it, Wulf. The poor thing!
- Wulf: Locked in a cage, all alone.
- Rigmor: Yeah, it kinda reminds me of somebody.
- Wulf: You don’t even have to ask. I will free the bear.
- Rigmor: That’s because you are a big softy.
- Wulf: I will use a Shout called Kyne’s Peace. Then it won’t attack us.
- Rigmor: Please don’t. I am positive it won’t attack us, Wulf.
- Wulf: Why such confidence?
- Rigmor: I don’t know how I know. I just do! What do you call it?
- Wulf: Intuition?
- Rigmor: Yeah, that thing.
- Wulf: The bear is ill. I will try to heal it. However, it may lash out if confused. Do not get in its way if it wants to leave.
- Rigmor: Okay. I think I will call him Mr Bear.
- Dhali: We can’t see its rear end. It might be a Mrs Bear.
- Rigmor: Nah, its face is the wrong shape.
- Wulf: We are a bear expert now, are we?
- Rigmor: As a matter of fact, yes. I read a book!
- P’Sua: Oh, was it the one where the little girl breaks into the bear family’s house and eats their porridge? I love that one!
- Rigmor: Ahh, no. It was a reference book, not a bedtime story.
- P’Sua: What? Isn’t that a true story?
- Wulf: It is fiction, P’Sua.
- P’Sua: Ha! Sure. Next, you will tell me a wolf never ate grandma and then wore her nightgown.
- Dhali: Don’t tear down his childhood illusions all at once, Wulf.
- Shiva: I don’t think it matters what Rigmor calls it. It can barely hear anything!
- Dhali: It wouldn’t attack Rigmor, as she is a Nord Bar-bear-ian.
- Rigmor: That wasn’t beary funny!
- Wulf: It might be confused until it gets its bearings.
- Rigmor: If you don’t hurry, it won’t be the bear that mauls you!
- Wulf: Nobody is to have a spell prepared or weapon drawn. The bear might have experience with such things and regard them as a threat.
Rigmor said, “Mr Bear, we are your friends. We are going to let you out!”
I added, “Mr Bear. We are friends, not food! We are friends, not food!”
I opened the cage and pulled the soldier out. He had died from a single bite to the back of the neck.
I then cast Grand Healing on Mr Bear.
Mr Bear abruptly stood and then leapt out of the cage.
Mr Bear stopped and shook his head several times.
Then Mr Bear bolted down the path at impressive speed.
- Wulf: Don’t look, Rigmor!
- Rigmor: Why?
- Wulf: He is showing his bare bottom!
- Rigmor: That is an ancient joke.
- Wulf: Well, it is an oldie but a goodie.
- Rigmor: More like mouldy and no goodie.
- Dhali: All jokes aside, that was quite something!
- Wulf: Instead of magic or The Voice, Rigmor used empathy to tame the bear.
- Rigmor: I did?
- Wulf: You did, and I am not joking. However, don’t walk up to any wild bears, and expect to keep your head.
- Rigmor: Is that the path that the thief told us to use?
- Wulf: I would say so. There is only one way to tell.
- Rigmor: Then hurry it up, Wulf.
- Wulf: Yes, Lady Ramsbottom. Your humble batman is eager to obey and avoid a beating.
- Dhali: Oh, well done, Rigmor. He is almost tamed!
- Wulf: Lady Ivanitchy Ramsbottom.
- Rigmor: Don’t start thinking I have forgotten that, Wulf! Revenge will be mine!
- Khao: You are supposed to do an evil cackle at the end, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Revenge will be mine. Wahahahahaaaa….
- Wulf: Oh, my knees have gone all wobbly with fright.
We made our way along the winding path, our visibility reduced by evening fog.
Soon, we paused at a gate.
I said, “Look for a well. That is our ‘secret’ entrance.”
It didn’t take long for us to find the well.
A lone sentry said, “Halt!”
Rigmor said, “Fuck off!” and then hit him with several arrows.
She came over, and I asked, “Feel better?”
“These are slavers, Wulf. Do you have any idea how much I hate them?”
“I can only imagine. However, stay behind me once we are in the tunnels and fort.”
“Okay, I know the drill.”
We entered through the well. Somewhere ahead, a pickaxe struck ore.
I turned to the group and said, “It seems their sentries are not paying attention!”
Heat Vision showed me the idiot using the pickaxe. Are they so confident that nobody is going to infiltrate the place?
Stupidity is a terrible, incurable affliction. It was a merciful kill.
A bit later, I whispered, “They are clustered together. Let’s kill them with bows, no spells, no Shouts.”
That is what we did. People further into the complex would not know we were coming for them.
Heat Vision showed nobody alive for some distance beyond the next door.
Through the door were holding cells.
Rigmor sniffed, then whispered, “Ah, the aroma of home!”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, Wulf. But the smell of unwashed people living in cells reminds me of what I endured.”
“I know this must be difficult. But we shall end up one step closer to Sigunn.”
I was concerned about how Rigmor would react if we saw Tilar Aedriath. But there was no turning back now.
We moved further in, and I whispered, “There are three people around the corner. I can’t tell if they are Thalmor or not.”
In one of the cells was an old man. He had been beaten and then thrown into the cell to die.
My anger rose, and I growled, “Fucking animals!”
Rigmor asked, “Are you sure this is the place? It’s too quiet!”
“I guess that old man would not be worth much on the auction block. He cost the slavers money just by existing. Yes, Rigmor, this is the right place.”
“I hope so! I would hate to think another place like this existed within a thousand miles.”
A young woman lay dead. The disarray of her clothes suggested rape. I turned away quickly and kept going.
Eventually, I saw one of the three people. It was a traitor in the garb of an Imperial executioner.
I aimed with my bow.
Then I decided my anger would not be satisfied with such a kill.
The executioner moved out of sight. I drew my sword and charged into the room.
I quickly disposed of two of the traitors. Rigmor cut the executioner down with a smile on her face.
I told the group, “There are a lot of Thalmor sitting around a table. I will say hello with The Voice. Then feel free to cut them into ribbons.”
The room was soon littered with dead. All of my opponents lay headless.
Another Thalmor tried to sneak up on us. Heat Vision enabled me to be in position.
She burst through the door, only to find me waiting.
Another head rolled.
We entered an internal dock.
- Wulf: I can’t imagine the horror of abducted people, bound, and rowed into this place.
- Rigmor: I don’t have to imagine.
- Dhali: Enslavement is one of the greatest of evils.
- Wulf: When you add the brutality Rigmor and others endure, it is the greatest of evils.
- P’Sua: All races are capable of it. The Empire ignored it in some of their provinces for political reasons.
- Wulf: Yes, and since their moral code was supposed to be based on The Divines, that was more than unforgivable.
- Rigmor: Your mother showed what the anger of suppressed and enslaved people can do.
- Wulf: As did the Argonian when they overran their Dunmer enslavers.
- Rigmor: I am surprised to see a lot of East Empire Company crates.
- Wulf: Unless they deliver them via their ships, they sell the goods without knowing where they are destined.
At the exit to the docks, I signalled that two people were in the next room.
We quickly disposed of the two Thalmor in that room and an Imperial traitor in the next room.
Further on, I whispered, “There are two ahead. One of them is a Justiciar or Wizard sitting down. The other is a guard in another room. Let me try a bit of throat-cutting.”
The Thalmor Wizard was nodding off but came fully awake as my sword sliced across his throat.
The Wizard had nothing of use on him.
The kill was quiet enough not to alert the guard in the next room.
When I opened it, he was facing away from the door. My sword entered his back and poked out of his chest at an angle. That would have been the last thing he saw.
On a chest of drawers was the slaver’s list.
I picked it up and opened it. Inside was a list of fifty-nine enslaved people distributed across four sites. Their ages ranged from eight to sixty-seven. They were Khajiiti, Nord, Redguard, Orsimer and Breton.
On the third page, the enslaved assigned to Diamond Ridge Mine included Rigmor’s mother.
Sigunn of Bruma Nord 36 Female
Every other enslaved person had their surname listed. Perhaps The Thalmor are scared of even writing the name Fjonasson?
I turned, and Rigmor was looking at me with hope in her eyes.
I said, “I have the list, Rigmor.”
“What does it say? Is she on the list?”
“Yes, it says ‘Sigunn of Bruma, aged thirty-six.’ It says she is in a place called Diamond Ridge Mine.”
“Do you know where that is?”
“No, but we have plenty of resources to find it for us.”
“Let’s leave this terrible place, and then we shall decide.”
“Okay, we will follow you.”
It was easy to find our way out by following the trail of corpses we had created.
I climbed out first, and when Rigmor joined me, she suddenly pointed and said, “Dragonborn, there are people at the front entrance!”
I chased after her to see what we faced.
A Justiciar sat atop his horse. Thalmor, Empire traitors, dogs and mercenaries surrounded him. Rigmor tensed, and I guessed who he was. It was her tormentor and the monster from her Night Terrors. It was General Tilar Aedriath.
I grabbed Rigmor by the wrist and said, “We need to capture him alive!”
“Let go of me!”
“Not until you listen. There are lives at stake. We need to capture Tilar!”
Dhali said, “Listen to Wulf. We need him alive, Rigmor.”
Rigmor growled, “Okay, okay. Let go!”
The enemy dispersed and flanked us. Perhaps they knew how to fight against The Voice. It wouldn’t do them much good. I could quickly kill Aedriath, and so could any of my companions. But killing him would achieve little, and he would soon be replaced.
I used Zoom Vision to have a closer look. Nothing was frightening about Tilar Aedriath. But then again, I wasn’t the woman who, as a teenage girl, was at his mercy. My hatred for Tilar was immeasurable, but I would not let it override logic. If I captured him, we might even prevent the invasion from happening. If I killed him, he would just be another face among my list of kills.
Tilar’s voice was effeminate and distinctive. I couldn’t imagine what memories it stirred in Rigmor.
- Aedriath: Well, well, well, look what we have here, or should I say, look what the cat dragged in! A good disguise, but who else would be here but you?
- Rigmor: Fuck you, Tilar!
- Aedriath: Ah! You do remember me, and I am flattered, really. But Rigmor, you have been making quite a bit of a nuisance of yourself lately, haven’t you?
- Wulf: Are you male or female? Or perhaps you are a neutered male? What a milk drinker!
I looked around and noted where Tilar’s troops were. Dhali was doing the same. She looked at me, smiled, and did the universal finger across the throat signal. She knew the enemy was dead, even if they currently drew breath.
- Aedriath: Can you even begin to realise the trouble you and your friend have caused me? All that running around Skyrim, leaving a trail of dead people? You know…that sort of thing. I am afraid, Rigmor, that it seems I will have to punish you all over again.
- Wulf: Tilar Aedriath, let me introduce myself. I am Lord Welkynd, Dragonborn and Champion of the Divines. More importantly, I am Rigmor’s Guardian. Does your rabble want to face The Voice just because you are terrified of Rigmor, a teenage woman?
I used my Thu’um and said, “RIGMOR SLAUGHTERED EVERY THALMOR IN THE BRUMA EMBASSY BY HERSELF. RIGMOR AND I KILLED EVERY THALMOR AND UNDERLING AT THE MINES AND INSIDE FORT BLACK. MY FRIENDS AND I DEFEATED ALDUIN TWICE. NO OTHER MORTALS IN HISTORY HAVE DEFEATED HIM ONCE! WE JUST STROLLED THROUGH THE SLAVERS WITHOUT PAUSE. YET YOU DARE THINK YOU HAVE A HOPE. YOU WILL DIE IN SECONDS AS GENERAL TILAR AEDRIATH RUNS AWAY!”
Murmur’s spread throughout Tilar’s troops as they looked worriedly at each other, and my Thu’um echoed.
- Rigmor: There will be no punishment this time, Justiciar. I am not that defenceless child anymore. You will need more than your lash to punish me. Where are your Bosmer lackeys? It is a pity they are not here to accompany you to their deaths. I would love to show them the courtesy they showed me in kind.
- Aedriath: Ahh! The Bosmer, ‘gangmasters.’ Yes, I am happy to say they are still doing very well. The last time I saw them, they kept a perfect watch on their fields…from the top of the spikes on which I placed their heads. At least they couldn’t complain about the view, hahaha!
- Wulf: Do you know in the entire history of Nirn, not a single battle has been lost by the side The Dragonborn has chosen and fought beside? A single Dragonborn can and has wiped out entire armies! Yet this rabble is supposed to do what? Why should they die for a cowardly piece of shit like you?
Aedriath’s troops were getting very nervous. The Justiciar realised they would scatter and leave him to our mercy if he did not hurry.
- Aedriath: But alas, Rigmor, no more time to chit-chat! I don’t suppose I could persuade you and your friends to come quietly, now, could I? All this fighting and killing is quite tedious for a high-ranking, noble gentleman like myself. Maybe we could start again where we left off and take time to reflect on older, happier times.
- Rigmor: Over my dead body!
- Wulf: You are a delusional idiot, Tilar.
I used my Thu’um once more,
“RIDE AWAY, JUSTICIAR! TELL YOUR NEW ORDER FRIENDS THAT RIGMOR OF BRUMA AND THE DRAGONBORN WILL SLAUGHTER THEM ALL. YOU HAD BETTER RIDE FAST, AS THIS LOT WILL TAKE SECONDS TO KILL!”
Aedriath turned his horse and yelled, “KILL THEM ALL!” as he rode quickly away.
It took less than thirty seconds to eliminate the opposition.
I yelled, “Let’s hurry and see if we can corner the rat!”
We headed in the direction Tilar went and soon heard the sounds of battle.
I ran towards it, with my friends trailing behind.
We did not see Aedriath, but he saw us and yelled, “Ten thousand gold for each of their heads!”
We were shocked to see Mr Bear being butchered by Tilar’s reserves when we crested a rise.
I remember little of the melee. It was a blur as I once again slaughtered without pause.
The enemy corpses lay scattered. I stared at Mr Bear and almost wept. I knew if I did, Rigmor would collapse in tears.
Rigmor cried, “Wulf, Khao…help him…please!”
Mr Bear had attacked Tilar’s entire second squad by himself. He was covered in cuts, and arrows protruded from both sides of his body. He was still recovering from the first healing when he attacked. Where he got the energy to do so is beyond my knowledge. It shouldn’t have been possible.
I knelt and inspected the wounds.
Rigmor sobbed. Dhali held her tight.
I said, “Rigmor, he will survive. The arrows will be pushed from his body when I cast Grand Healing.”
I cast Grand Healing. The arrows fell from his flesh, and Mr Bear slowly stood. He fell again, and it took a couple of attempts before he was steady.
I lighted my lantern to see if any injuries were not fully healed.
Apart from some drying blood, there was no sign of the trauma inflicted by the enemy.
Mr Bear walked over to Rigmor and grunted.
Rigmor waved and said, “Goodbye, Mr Bear, and thank you for your help.”
Mr Bear snuffled and then ran into the forest.
I looked up, as the night sky always calmed me.
As I approached Rigmor, Dhali whispered, “She is not ready to jump back into the chaos. Meeting that bastard has been a terrible shock.”
- Wulf: Rigmor, you must rest before heading back to Angi’s.
- Rigmor: I’m okay.
- Khao: No, you are not. We are physicians, Rigmor, and we know how such a shock works.
- Wulf: You just saw your monster in the flesh, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: But my mum?
- Wulf: Sigunn will not be rescued any quicker by a daughter who collapses due to nervous exhaustion.
- Dhali: When I held you, Rigmor, you were as clammy as death. Listen to them, please.
- Rigmor: Where are we going?
- Wulf: We shall spend some time trying to catch up with Tilar. He did not pass us, so he did not use the main road towards Solitude. That leaves only one direction he could have gone since he can’t fly.
- Rigmor: Do you know this area?
- Wulf: Yes, a mountain trail leads to a valley. It is often used by people travelling between Cyrodiil and High Rock.
- Rigmor: But he is on a horse and has a head start.
- Wulf: It is dark, and he cannot see as well as I. We have to try, Rigmor. If we can get Tilar, we may be able to stop the invasion. We would defeat The New Order if they invaded, but at the cost of many lives.
- Rigmor: That makes sense.
Rigmor was too compliant and distant. I was torn between taking her back to Aurane or looking for Tilar. I chose the latter as it could save lives.
A light snow had been falling. Fresh hoofprints seen with Night Vision indicated Tilar had used the mountain pass.
We arrived at the valley, and Tilar’s trail could no longer be followed. He could have gone in many directions from there. Many intermingled footprints made it impossible to be sure which way she went, and I wasn’t willing to guess.
I told the group, “We have lost Tilar. It is time to go home.”
Rigmor asked, “Wulf, can we please talk?”
“Yes, of course.”
There was a cairn in the middle of the valley, and we headed for that. The others got the hint that we wanted privacy.
I noticed a tent and a lighted campfire on a hill above the valley. There was no sign of people up there using Heat Vision.
Rigmor turned, and I couldn’t see the brave and assured woman of an hour earlier.
I asked, “Rigmor, are you okay?”
“Dragonborn, this is getting scary.”
“It must have been a shock to see that prick. But we survived, and now Tilar is scared of both of us.”
“Yeah, we made it. Do you think that rat sold us out?”
“Sethri? I don’t think so. The gem I gave him was very generous. Tilar Aedriath could have snitches everywhere. He is supposed to be very good. The best.”
“The list. Can I see it?”
“Of course. Sigunn is on the second last page.”
I handed Rigmor the slaver’s list. Rigmor gasped as she ran her finger over her mother’s entry. Seeing Sigunn listed in a neat inventory of goods was a shock. It reduced her mother to a commodity, like a sack of flour.
Rigmor asked forlornly, “As you said at the fort, she has been taken to Diamond Ridge Mine. Do you know where that is?”
“No, sorry, Rigmor, I told you that before. It is not on my map.”
“Well, that’s cute.”
Rigmor returned the slaver’s list.
Baa’Ren-Dar knew Rigmor’s tormentor was hunting her but didn’t tell her. He probably thought her anxiety would be too much if she knew beforehand. However, I told Rigmor the identity of who was hunting her and gave her time to think about it. Yet seeing him has affected her far more than I expected. I don’t think Rigmor could have handled his sudden appearance without that prior preparation.
The sadness expressed in Rigmor’s face and voice tore at my heart.
I calmly explained, “Rigmor, we went to the harbour to retrieve that list and see if it told us where Sigunn is. We completed that task and obtained that information.”
“Yeah, right. Look where it got us, nearly killed.”
“Not one of us suffered a single cut! We killed all of The New Order’s troops and lackeys in the tunnels, fort and outside. Every single one of them! We did not nearly die, but you faced your monster, and that was not easy for you.”
“Whenever I feel closer to finding her, she seems to get further away. We are going around in circles, and that bastard turned up. I don’t think I can carry on like this anymore.”
“Within days of starting the search together, we have found where she is. You didn’t even know what country she was in till today! We are close to finding her. Much closer than you have ever been and not further away.”
“And now you have got us lost!”
Like outside the New Gnisis Corner Club, I was a convenient target for Rigmor’s anger, fear, and frustration. I expected it would end the same way. Rigmor will finally have vented all she had to, and I am happy to absorb it as long as that takes.
“Rigmor, we are not lost! I know exactly where we are and can teleport us to many places! We are doing well, Rigmor. We shall find this Diamond Ridge Mine and tear it apart to rescue Sigunn. We must remain calm, think it through, and use our available resources.”
“Don’t you tell me to calm down!”
“I said we have to remain calm! All I want to do is help, Rigmor.”
“Help? You are just making things worse!”
“Did saving your life make it worse? Did finding the list make it worse? Tell me, Rigmor, how have I made it worse? We shall find Sigunn and bring her home!”
“I’m not strong enough. I can’t do this anymore!”
“General Tilar Aedriath ran from our confrontation, not you. Every foe we have faced together has died, not you. Our enemies are terrified of your determination and strength!”
“Why are you saying that? Why do you even care?”
“Why does my heart skip every time you look at me? Why do I want so badly to hurt those who have hurt you? I love you, and you have confessed your love for me. There is no mystery why I say these things.”
“Just get away from me!”
Rigmor turned and ran. I stood stunned for a few seconds, then ran to catch up to her.
Rigmor ran into the tent and collapsed, exhausted. I was only thirty seconds behind her, but she was already asleep and in the throes of a Night Terror when I entered the tent.
Rigmor calmed down when I got close.
I wanted to wrap my arms around her and never let her go. I wanted to weep for the injustices committed against Rigmor and her family. I wanted to find Tilar and tear him apart with my bare hands.
Dhali said outside the tent, “We can’t stay here, Wulf. We are too exposed from all sides.”
I replied, “I know. Gather everybody, and I will teleport us to Aurane.”
I gently stroked Rigmor’s face and said, “Time to get up, my beloved.”
Rigmor slowly stood, then decided to wake up. Most people do it the other way around.
“Am I still your beloved, Wulf?”
“Why wouldn’t you be? Oh, and don’t you dare apologise for that outburst!”
“But I was a whiny bitch….”
I put my finger to her lips.
“Rigmor, I have not experienced the terror you have. But I understand that seeing that arsehole was a terrible shock. We are going to Aurane, and you will sleep as long as needed.”
“Do you think Baa’Ren-Dar is back from Cyrodiil?”
“I don’t think so. But Bar’Ren-Dar is using Portals and maybe Waystones to zap all over Tamriel. Therefore, there is a chance he is. Celestine or Vayu will let me know if there is a need to return to Angi’s.”
“Portals and Waystones?”
“A Portal is a magic door that takes you to another destination via ethereal travel. It is like teleporting, but you don’t need a mage. However, you are restricted to travelling to particular locations. I can teleport anywhere.”
“The Ayleid used Waystones extensively. A dweomer is placed on a gem which is then called a Waystone. The Waystone is then incorporated into an amulet, ring, or mask. When the object with the Waystone is donned, the wearer is teleported to a set location. Removing the object teleports you back to where you donned it.”
“I have often wondered how he seems to quickly come from and go to places a long way from Torval.”
We gathered outside the tent, and I teleported us to Aurane.
I thanked my friends, and they headed for the barracks.
Rigmor followed me to the children’s bedroom, where Gladys stood guard.
Rigmor tapped me on the should, and when I turned around, she was smiling.
“Who is that?”
“That is Gladys. She and Meeko keep the children company at night. Meeko calms the children, and they have no nightmares when he is by their side.”
“Like somebody I know. I have a name for it.”
“That is an excellent name, for it perfectly encapsulates what it is!”
“Wulf, will you lie next to me? I want to know you are there without opening my eyes. Usually, I wake up, look for you, and panic until I see you. Sometimes you are staring into infinity. Sometimes you are writing in your journal. Sometimes you are sleeping, and the smile on your face tells me Our Quiet works both ways.”
“Yes, of course, if that is what you want.”
We retired to my bedroom, and Rigmor donned her kimono.
Rigmor lay on her side and smiled as I lay next to her.
Within seconds, she fell into a peaceful sleep.
The lullaby of her regular breathing dragged me into sleep.
I was on a farm near a meandering river. It was our farm, and a little girl ran towards me with Meeko, his tongue hanging to the side, trotting behind her. The wheat she ran through left remnants in her hair and probably in her clothes.
I knelt and held my arms out wide, and she ran into my chest, then squealed as I engulfed her in a bear hug. She laughed as I did a one-and-a-half circle on the spot so we faced her beaming mother. I started picking bits of our wheat crop out of her curls.
“Come on, big weirdo and little weirdo, the fruit juice will get warm!”
I carried the giggling girl to our veranda and handed her over to Rigmor, who started searching our child’s hair. She exclaimed, “Your father is the worst curl cleaner ever!” The child laughed as Rigmor managed to find bits I missed and held each one up as evidence of my incompetence with a loud ‘tut’ each time.
Meeko happily drank copious amounts of water from his bowl. I know he is not a dog. Perhaps is a camel in disguise?
As I sat on my chair and sipped my fruit juice, I could hear laughter from our neighbours, many fields away. It was hard to imagine there were once wars and killing. It has been years since I wore my sword.
I awoke with a start, for it was not a dream. It was my foresight showing a possible timeline. I looked at Rigmor and knew we would risk everything to achieve what seemed impossible. But it isn’t an impossibility. It is a possibility, and that fact made me smile as I fell asleep again.