Turdas, 11th Hearthfire, 4E 201
I let Rigmor’s body tell her when to wake. At about 10:30 AM, the same as yesterday, she finally woke.
She said, “Good morning, Wulf. It is morning, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. So, good morning to you, Rigmor.”
“Is Baa’Ren-Dar still here?”
“No, he left not long after we arrived. He understands that meeting Aedriath was a shock and seemed upset he had miscalculated the chances of encountering him. He was very remorseful, Rigmor. But he knows you love him.”
“I was exhausted, knowing he would try his political manoeuvring.”
“At first, he assumed I would do something. I made him ask. I also spelt out my priorities, which might not align with the leadership he spoke to. I made it clear I will not accept avoidable casualties.”
“What did he say about Aedriath?”
“I described our encounter with Aedriath and how we let him go. He says that was a good move, but we must be careful of Aedriath as he is a master of deception. That is twice Baa’Ren-Dar has warned me about that.”
“What else did you discuss?”
“I told him about the information Sethri gave us and how we retrieved the slavers’ list with Sigunn on it.”
“Did he know where Diamond Ridge Mine is?”
“Baa’Ren said he has heard of it, and it is on the border with High Rock. He has gone to find its exact location.”
“What did he ask you to do?”
“The big ruse Baa’Ren-Dar and others have devised hinges on The New Order believing that we are unaware of their plans. I think they do realise we know. However, His Imperial Majesty has decided on a plan, and I agreed to do a task.”
“To counter the army that invades Skyrim, a combined force of Stormcloak and Legionnaires will be needed. I agreed to help broker a treaty between The Empire and Stormcloaks.”
“How are you supposed to do that?”
“I am to meet with two men. The first is Yngol Storm-Blade, a Stormcloak General. He is in charge of that large Stormcloak garrison near Kynesgrove. Baa’Ren gave me a sealed box. Inside is a book detailing The New Order’s plans and how we plan to counter them. His Imperial Majesty sealed the box, but that won’t have much influence on Yngol. Therefore, many other dignitaries have signed the book. It is up to Yngol to convince Ulfric to declare a truce.”
“What if Yngol doesn’t believe it?”
“He will, for I am The Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines! If he doesn’t, I shall visit Ulfric Stormcloak in person but unannounced. I wouldn’t want him to turn my visit into a chance for publicity. Then again, if he did invite a bunch of brown-nosed dignitaries, I could denounce him in front of them. That would be fun! I have no doubt the regicide would believe me, and Yngol would look the fool.”
“Could you meet with Ulfric and not kill him?”
“Diplomacy relies on the laws of parley. I would never, for any reason, break those laws. If Ulfric were to do so, I would not hesitate to slaughter him and those who support such an insult. Ulfric’s life would depend on his actions, not mine. But I doubt that meeting would need to occur.”
“And who is the Imperial you need to speak to?”
“Legate Casius Varon. His encampment is not far from Heljarchen Hall, another of my houses. He won’t need convincing, as he will have orders, but will probably need some reassuring.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“Both men served under Ragnar. Yngol in Cyrodiil and Hammerfell. Casius in Hammerfell. Baa’Ren thinks your presence would help convince Yngol.”
“I am not my dad. Why would Yngol believe me and not The Dragonborn? That is idiotic!”
“If he is willing to side with Ulfric, his values must be questionable. He might think of me as an Imperial sympathiser. I have killed Stormcloaks and left no survivors. But who knows what Yngol has heard.”
“That still leaves the question, Wulf. Do you want me to come with you?”
“It is up to you. If you speak to these men, you may learn more about your father’s role in The Great War and his time in Hammerfell.”
“You didn’t answer me! I want to learn more about Dad, but that is not why I will accompany you. You will worry too much if you leave me behind. Therefore, I will come so you can guard me and not worry.”
“Yes, you are correct about the worry. However, I want to spend time with you, so I want you to come.”
“When do we leave?”
“After breaking our fast. We shall teleport to Kynesgrove and ride from there.”
“Okay. I am starving!”
“There is one other thing. Baa’Ren wanted us to change into Imperial uniforms because The Thalmor want to arrest us.”
“That is insulting! We can ride into Yngol’s camp without being challenged, but Imperial soldiers might arrest or allow us to be arrested?”
“Yes, it was insulting but also stupid. The laws of parley protect us. Also, if we were caught wearing Imperial uniforms when not in The Imperial Army, we would be regarded as spies and executed.”
“Have you seen the Imperial uniforms from the warmer parts of Cyrodiil? You know, the ones that look like skirts.”
“Yes. The Legionnaires used to wear similar wherever they were deployed. No matter how cold it was.”
“I used to laugh at them when I visited The Imperial City. Men’s thick hairy legs sticking out from under leather skirts is not a good look. I often wondered if they wore underpants underneath.”
For some reason, that idea caused Rigmor to suffer an epic giggle attack. After a while, Rigmor calmed down, but the giggles returned if I looked at her.
As we sat eating the bacon and eggs Sorella had served us, I asked, “Do you know what is worn under my armour?”
“Okay, I will regret this. What, my dear Guardian, is worn under your armour?”
“Nothing. It is all in perfect working order.”
“Am I supposed to laugh?”
“You seemed to think people’s naughty bits being uncovered was funny.”
That started another giggle fit.
We helped clean up after eating our fill and prepared to leave camp. Sorella and Angi came over to say goodbye.
- Sorella: Wulf, Meeko told me you are The Dragonborn. Can you breathe fire?
- Wulf: From both ends if I eat too many beans!
- Sorella: Haha. Pffffffffffft! My pants are on fire!
- Rigmor: If we need a campfire lighted, Wulf bends over and blows off!
- Sorella: No way!
- Rigmor: Yeah way!
- Wulf: We have to go somewhere again, Sorella. Thank you for helping Meeko when he was sad.
- Sorella: He worries about you, Wulf. He says you do many dangerous things and likes it when he can help you.
- Wulf: He is helping me by guarding you and Angi. Remind him of that.
- Sorella: He is visiting your friends at their camp. He said they always have scraps for him.
- Rigmor: Did talking with Meeko help a lot, Sorella?
- Sorella: Yeah, and so did talking with Angi. Bad people killed her whole family! Bad people also killed your daddy, didn’t they, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Yes, and Wulf and I are fighting those bad people. That is why we have to leave again.
- Sorella: It felt wrong when I first laughed. Meeko and Angi told me it was an important step when grieving. They had to explain to me what grieving is.
- Rigmor: The people you have lost would not want you to be sad forever.
- Wulf: Angi, I hope you are comfortable with the change of guards. They are all trustworthy.
- Angi: At first, I was very intimidated by Vayu. But then I watched how he and Celestine interacted and saw much love.
- Sorella: Vayu is so cool! He gave me a piggyback, and I was way up high!
- Angi: I enjoyed talking to Celestine and the other ladies. You know, gossip and girl talk.
- Wulf: But you are all grown women!
- Rigmor: Forgive Wulf. He thinks we grow out of girl talk and gossip.
- Angi: Where would he get that strange idea?
- Rigmor: He has many strange ideas.
- Wulf: We should be back in a couple of days.
- Angi: I hope to see Baa’Ren-Dar again, as it was nice to meet a proper gentleman!
- Rigmor: As opposed to this big brute?
- Angi: You don’t fool me, Rigmor. Wulf is no brute in your eyes. The love between you is evident!
- Rigmor: Oh…umm…
- Wulf: Shall we go, Milady?
- Rigmor: Yeah…umm…
- Angi: Come, Sorella, we still have chores to do.
- Sorella: Okay. Here comes Meeko. I hope he has got his morning farts over with!
- Wulf: Angi, do you still think Meeko is a mangy mutt?
- Sorella: I don’t think so. Angi has some bacon set aside for him.
- Angi: He does grow on you.
Angi and Sorella hugged Rigmor and then started on their chores.
Rigmor said, “They have grown close. I don’t think you have to look for a new home for Sorella.”
“I wouldn’t even suggest it. That would be an arrow in the head time!”
“Okay, batman. You are eager to speak to a Stormcloak, so let’s go!”
We teleported to Kynesgrove.
Two merchant guards were having problems with an Ice Wrath.
I cut it down for them.
“Thank you, Lord Welkynd.”
“It was my pleasure, Merchant Fanji. Did you trade at the Stormcloak camp?”
“A Khajiiti merchant is not welcome there.”
“I know an Argonian merchant has been dealing with them.”
“Perhaps the knuckle draggers don’t like furry things? They told me to leave.”
I summoned Hashire, who in turn summoned Ren.
- Rigmor: Good morning, Hashire. Did Ren enjoy the island?
- Hashire: Very much. He doesn’t have his bits, so even the stallions liked him. I think he was smitten with Sune.
- Rigmor: The female unicorn? Is she pretty?
- Hashire: She is a unicorn, so that question is redundant.
- Rigmor: It seems that Sune is yet to train you properly.
- Wulf: Hashire, you should have expressed how beautiful and spectacular Sune is using many adjectives and exaggerations.
- Hashire: So, Wulf, is Rigmor pretty?
- Wulf: Yeah, I suppose so.
- Hashire: What happened to the many adjectives and exaggerations?
- Wulf: You can’t admit how smitten you are in front of them!
- Hashire: I think you just did that.
- Wulf: Oops!
- Rigmor: If you two idiots have finished, Ren and I would like to get going.
- Wulf: Yes, Milady Ivanitchy Ramsbottom.
- Hashire: Hahaha!
- Rigmor: Don’t encourage him, Hashire.
- Hashire: Where are we going?
- Wulf: To visit a Stormcloak general.
- Rigmor: Peacefully.
- Hashire: Why are you visiting, and why in peace?
- Wulf: We are trying to arrange a ceasefire so a combined force can oppose The New Order.
- Hashire: Okay. This meeting will be interesting. I wonder if Stormcloak horses are as stupid as their riders.
It was a short ride to Yngol’s encampment.
Several Stormcloaks recognised me as I rode through the camp and called out. I was happy to acknowledge them with a wave. I didn’t see any indication that Rigmor was recognised.
I was about to ask one of the Stormcloaks where Yngol was. Then a deep baritone voice issued orders. We followed the voice and soon found him.
Yngol was a huge man. I would have to look up into somebody else’s face for once.
We dismounted and then walked onto the overhang where Yngol was standing. He waited for me to approach.
Rigmor seemed hesitant and moved back from Yngol for some reason.
- Wulf: Excuse me, are you General Yngol Storm-Blade?
- Yngol: Depends. Who’s asking?
- Wulf: I believe you were told to expect us. I am Lord Welkynd, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. The young lady is Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, daughter of Legate Ragnar Fjonasson.
Yngol moved to stand in front of Rigmor. She looked tiny next to him.
- Yngol: As I live and breathe, Ragnar’s daughter!
- Rigmor: Hey, I’m sorry I…
- Yngol: I served with your father in Hammerfell child. If there’s anything you need, anything, just say the word. My sword is yours to command.
- Rigmor: That is very generous, Yngol. Excuse me. I need to get warm.
Rigmor moved to a nearby fire.
Yngol barked some more orders, and then we continued our conversation.
- Yngol: A courier came by yesterday and handed me a note. It said you were coming and our meeting was about something important, but it didn’t mention what.
- Wulf: Before we get to that, I heard you mention a missing patrol and breaches in the wall.
- Yngol: An Imperial charge breached the east wall just before you arrived. They tested us all night by probing our defences.
- Wulf: It sounds like they are only keeping you on your toes. An attack on this camp would be a significant escalation.
- Yngol: Up until now, it’s been a phoney war. Then that sly old dog Casius Varon decided to sit his Legion on The Pale border with Whiterun. I advised Ulfric to set up a garrison here to counter any move.
- Wulf: It seems you are familiar with Legate Varon.
- Yngol: Yeah, we both served under Jonna in The Great War. He was in the Legion then, and I was in a Nord Volunteer Brigade. After the treaty, he disappeared for a time, and then we found and saved his sorry ass near the Brena River in Hammerfell. Apart from the occasional skirmish, we have kept a respectful distance…for now.
- Wulf: I have seen many Imperials and Stormcloaks butchered in your phoney war. Bandits run amok because there are no patrols.
Before Yngol could answer, I saw the tell-tale rippling caused by standard invisibility spells.
I used my Thu’um and warned, “INVISIBLE INTRUDERS. RIGMOR, TO ME!”
As soon as the intruders prepared spells, they became visible. I quickly disposed of one.
Rigmor arrived and cut one down. I decapitated two more.
I searched the bodies, and two of them carried Rigmor’s wanted posters.
I handed one of the wanted posters to Yngol.
- Yngol: I have seen these posters. They look nothing like Rigmor!
- Rigmor: I am wearing different armour and a wig. That is me, Yngol.
- Wulf: Many bounty hunters are looking for Rigmor. These women were witches and part of a local coven. I think they recognised me, and knowing I was Rigmor’s Guardian, they followed us into camp. Then, when they heard Rigmor’s name used, they knew they had the right target. If I hadn’t noticed something, they would have snuck up on Rigmor and killed her.
- Yngol: Why such a high bounty for a young girl?
- Wulf: We shall discuss that when you have read the information that I have for you. But my concern at the moment is your missing patrol.
- Yngol: A large band of marauders and bandits has been causing a problem for the locals here in Eastmarch. They have been quiet lately since we set up camp here, but they’ve been spotted near Narzulbur.
- Wulf: Narzulbur is the Orsimer Stronghold east of here.
- Yngol: Yes, we trade with them. There are some good people there. A few hours ago, I sent a patrol to check on a smaller compound. That patrol hasn’t reported back. I was about to head out myself and search for them.
- Wulf: Rigmor and I can accompany you if you wish.
- Yngol: Are you sure? It could get too dangerous for Rigmor.
- Rigmor: I am not a little girl, Yngol! Some of the best Swordmasters have trained me. Plus, my father taught me from an early age.
- Wulf: Rigmor had been fighting by my side and is one of the finest greatsword wielders I have ever seen. She is more capable than you or anybody else in this camp regarding combat!
- Yngol: That is a hollow boast, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: Without aid, Rigmor killed an entire company of Thalmor in Bruma. I have killed thousands on the battlefield, so I am more than capable of judging her ability. Pick a champion and let them spar if you are sure your men can beat a young woman!
- Rigmor: You could save time and let us search for your missing patrol. We will happily exact justice on the bandits if required.
- Yngol: Okay, this I have to see. Let’s head out.
I let Yngol get ahead as I knew Rigmor would be full of questions.
- Rigmor: Why are we going with Yngol? This little trip wasn’t in the plan!
- Wulf: If Yngol sees us in battle, we will earn respect. He will therefore be more likely to believe what is in that book. It might be we only have to escort him there and back. That still shows our willingness to put ourselves in danger beside him.
- Rigmor: Baa’Ren-Dar would be impressed by your sneaky diplomatic skills!
- Hashire: Don’t feed his ego, Rigmor. Wulf is heavy enough as it is.
- Wulf: Yngol’s horse is impressive! So big and strong and silent!
- Hashire: I can make myself bigger, and I bet I can run faster!
- Wulf: But you can’t make yourself silent. I wonder if Yngol will swap.
- Hashire: Sometimes, Wulf, I hate you!
- Rigmor: You did start it, Hashire.
- Hashire: Poor Rigmor has caught the truth and logic disease!
Not far from Sahloknir’s burial mound, Yngol dismounted and walked towards three corpses. As we joined him, it started to rain.
I asked, “Is this your missing patrol, Yngol?”
“Yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised if the scum suckers also took the compound. They may have killed the Orcs. Gods damn it!”
“These soldiers were not killed in combat. They have been tortured.”
“I thought as much.”
“Before we take care of the bandits, I would like to aid these souls to find Sovngarde. Sometimes, a lingering death can confuse them.”
“How will you aid them?”
“I will perform Arkay’s Rights.”
Rigmor and Yngol stood in silence and watched as I removed my helm and intoned,
- Behold, faithful of The Divines, the beauty of your transformation.
- Do not fear the journey but rejoice as the gate opens.
- Enter Aetherius with joy in your heart and a smile on your face.
- The gate opens for all mortals.
- Not riches nor rank nor power can deny this return to Aetherius.
- As you approach the gate, Aetherius will approach you.
- Do not turn from the gate, as that is to reject your new life.
- Walk without fear and with dignity through the gate.
- Welcome your transformation.
- You need not fear losing your way, for he will guide you to your reward.
- Your body will decay.
- Your soul will remain safe behind the gate.
- Once the gate closes, you may never return.
- This is Arkay’s Law.
Silence remained while I donned my helm once more.
- Yngol: Will that help them find Sovngarde?
- Wulf: Yes, Yngol. Sovngarde is part of Aetherius. Once they arrive in Aetherius, those who desire Sovngarde will find themselves within its gardens. Alduin no longer terrorises Sovngarde, so they can safely go to Tsun, The Whalebone Bridge and The Hall of Honour.
- Yngol: Did you accompany The Dragonborn into Sovngarde, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: No. I was recovering from an injury elsewhere, and Wulf had not yet become my Guardian.
- Wulf: My time in Sovngarde will be published along with other memoirs, Yngol. You can read about it then, or if we get a chance, I can sit and talk about it sometime. Right now, we need to exact justice on the bandits and then discuss the important matter for which we came.
- Yngol: The murdering scum will not get away with it this time. This far and no further. It’s time for some payback!
We walked closer to a small Orsimer compound. It was much smaller than Narzulbur Stronghold and would have been home to at least a dozen Orsimer. The compounds are sometimes used for trading, as the Orsimer only allow Blood-Kin to enter their strongholds.
It soon became apparent that the bandits had taken the compound and probably butchered those who called it home.
Yngol called out, “Hey, assholes! Prepare to meet your makers! Yngol Storm-Blade is going to cut you a new one!”
The bandits threw back pathetic insults such as, “Where is your army Yngol? Back at that holiday camp of yours?”
The last one they uttered before they died was, “Who is that you have got with you, your mother?”
I used my Thu’um and said,
“IT IS NOT HIS MOTHER BUT RIGMOR OF BRUMA. SHE IS A MIGHTY NORD SWORDMAIDEN WHO COULD KILL YOU ALL WITHOUT BREAKING A SWEAT BUT WON’T NEED TO. YNGOL NEEDS NO ARMY. FOR I AM WULF, THE DRAGONBORN, AND YOU ARE ALL ABOUT TO DIE!”
Unrelenting Force killed half the bandits.
As I ran towards the gates, I heard Yngol exclaim, “By Talos, that was so much stronger than Ulfric’s!”
Yngol lumbered after me but soon fell way behind. Rigmor was used to my speed and decided to demonstrate her improved marksmanship.
The bandits had barred the gates, but Unrelenting Force had blown them open.
My Dance of Death killed them all except for a Legionnaire deserter. Rigmor’s arrows hit several enemies, but they alone cared for him. Yngol’s hammer remained unblooded.
Yngol looked stunned at the ferocity of my attack.
I said, “Yngol, we shall see if any Orsimer needs our help and talk in a minute.”
Rigmor and I searched the compound and found half a dozen butchered bodies. Nearly every dead Orsimer was a non-combatant. A couple of warriors in the compound would have been rapidly overwhelmed.
I turned to Rigmor.
“Yngol will have experienced many battles. Yet he looked at me with shock, Rigmor. Am I that much of a frightening butcher?”
“Some of your friends from Akavir that I have seen in action are almost as deadly. Your fighting style with the katanas is so fast and flowing that it is foreign to many who observe you.”
“The Dance of Death is what we call it. Make no mistake, if halted by a Shield Wall or similar, we are still deadly. But we don’t give people a chance to settle and use tactics. Speed and momentum are the keys. A line of Swordmasters is a terrifying sight as they carve their way towards you. Ragnar’s berserkers would carve similar paths if a bit slower.”
“But berserkers are not as efficient when by themselves, Wulf. I think that is what shocked him.”
“Well, let’s tell Yngol the bad news and perhaps get on with our real task.”
Yngol was wandering around and inspecting the dead when we approached him.
- Wulf: I am afraid all the Orsimer are dead. We found half a dozen bodies.
- Yngol: These were good people, Dragonborn. I should have come sooner. Maybe they would still be alive.
- Rigmor: We make the best decisions we can at the time. This atrocity was not your fault, Yngol.
- Yngol: I have seen Ulfric use The Voice, but your power is many times his.
- Wulf: I am Dragonborn, blessed by Lord Akatosh. My Thu’um is far more potent than Ulfric’s, and as I learn to focus it, it will get many times stronger. I know many Shouts, while Ulfric knows one. It doesn’t matter if it is six, sixty, six hundred or six thousand in my way. That wave of death is how they would die.
- Yngol: Your sword is thin and looks like it would break.
- Wulf: It is called a katana and is the standard weapon used by the people of Akavir. It is faster to wield than other weapons and ideal for fighting dragons.
- Yngol: You said you had killed thousands in combat.
- Wulf: I have in Skyrim and Akavir. I am the Champion of The Divines, and they ensured I have the skills to fulfil that role.
- Rigmor: You should send somebody to care for the dead, Yngol.
- Yngol: Yes. I ask some men to tell the Orcs what has happened. They will care for their people, and we shall care for ours. Let Skeevers care for the vermin.
- Wulf: Come then. Let’s head back and talk about what brought us out here.
Yngol didn’t notice several wolves who charged towards him. Rigmor and I soon cut them down.
We entered the camp and dismounted while Yngol barked some orders. Three squads of Stormcloaks formed precise lines and left the camp. I had no doubt every one of them used to be a Legionnaire.
Rigmor looked at me and could see my anger rising.
She whispered, “We don’t have to like it, Wulf. We have to persevere and do what is required.”
“Our Quiet will help.”
Yngol was waiting for us. We followed him inside and sat around a table. I removed my helm like the gentleman I wasn’t.
- Yngol: Hey, you want a drink, something to eat? Knock yourselves out.
- Rigmor: Thank you, Yngol, but I am okay for now.
- Yngol: Did your father ever tell you about the war, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: No, he didn’t talk about it at all. I knew he had been a soldier, but I never knew anything else until his arrest. I didn’t want to believe what I read about him in the books. It wasn’t the person I knew.
- Yngol: Yeah, those scumsuckers in the Imperial City changed all that. Your father was a hero, a true Nord.
- Rigmor: That is what Wulf said, and many who study war know the truth and greatly respect my dad.
- Yngol: Our berserk army sometimes had them running even before drawing their swords. The Altmer fought with courage, and I respected them for that. But we were all betrayed by the concordat. Mede sold us out, the bastard!
- Rigmor: What was my dad really like?
- Yngol: As I said, he was a true Nord. He never broke the rules of combat and all that about war crimes! That is all dog crap and character assassination dreamed up by Imperial politicians with their noses buried in Thalmor backsides.
- Wulf: Many people on both sides of this civil war think The Empire sold them out.
- Yngol: Well, they did! But we weren’t done with the Elves until they rescinded their blasphemy against Talos and restored him to his rightful place.
- Rigmor: Wulf said my dad was only concerned with helping the people of Hammerfell. He never complained about the ban on Talos worship to me.
- Yngol: Ragnar had all his captains gather together, then said, ‘Tell the men they can either go home to their farms or join me in Hammerfell!’ Every single man, every one of them, roared and bashed their swords against their shields. Girl, that was a sight to behold, and they yelled, ‘Ragnar, Ragnar, Ragnar!’ We spent a year in Hammerfell. I believe, true to my word, if we weren’t there side by side with the Redguard, Hammerfell would have fallen. The Dominion hated him for that.
Rigmor looked across at me and could see my restraint slipping. She held my hand under the table. Yngol was full of shit. How does Baa’Ren-Dar do this diplomacy stuff without going insane?
I retrieved the sealed box from my Journal Case and handed it to Yngol.
I said, “The seal is that of Emperor Titus Mede II. You will find information about a planned invasion of Tamriel and how we intend to combat it.”
Yngol opened the box and retrieved the book. He spent ten minutes reading it while Rigmor kept her grip on my hand.
Then the biggest test of my composure started.
- Yngol: This all seems to make sense. But why should I believe all this? I will look like a damn fool if it’s not true. Ulfric will have me crucified.
- Wulf: I give you my word as Champion of The Divines that it is true.
- Yngol: What if it is a pack of lies? What if it is not true?
- Wulf: I just gave my word. I don’t take kindly to people questioning it, Yngol!
- Rigmor: Yngol, it is true, it is! Please!
- Wulf: You would look like a greater fool if The New Order conquered Skyrim! If you are not willing to take it to Ulfric, I will. He would not dare question my honesty!
- Yngol: There is no need, Dragonborn. Rigmor’s word is enough. It will be an honour to fight and die by her side when the time comes.
- Rigmor: No! I didn’t mean…
Yngol abruptly stood, indicating that the parley was over. I stood as abruptly. I needed to get out of the camp while my temper still held.
Yngol said, “Dragonborn, go tell your man Rar Bendar, or whatever his name is, that he has his army. Leave Ulfric to me.”
“His name is Baa’Ren-Dar, and mine is Wulf. The army is for the citizens of The Empire, Yngol, not for the Khajiiti Emissary. Do you know why they have offered such a large reward for Rigmor, dead or alive?”
“I assume it is because she killed the Thalmor in Bruma.”
“No, Yngol. It is because of who her father was. They are afraid that Rigmor will be a beacon of hope like Ragnar. But people must fight for their homes and loved ones, not because Rigmor might lead them into battle. I hope you have your priorities right when we gather our forces against The New Order.”
Rigmor quickly intervened and said, “Yngol, would you like us to give a message to Casius, for we have to visit him.”
“Yes, Rigmor, tell the old goat I give him my regards.”
“I will, Yngol. Let’s go, Wulf!”
I walked over to Rigmor, who shrugged. I nodded, smiled, and teleported us into Heljarchen Hall.
One of my stewards, Oriella, came over to us.
- Oriella: It is a relief you defeated Alduin, Lord Welkynd.
- Wulf: I needed the help of friends to do it, Oriella. But yes, it was a relief.
- Oriella: We have noticed groups of people spying on Heljarchen Hall. Tsubaki and the guards challenged several of them, but they all moved away without violence.
- Wulf: They will be bounty hunters, looking for the young lady with me. Oriella, this is Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, and there is a fifteen thousand septim reward for her, dead or alive.
- Oriella: I have seen the wanted posters for Rigmor of Bruma.
- Rigmor: That is what they are calling me.
- Oriella: I am sure there is a long and exciting story behind such a reward. But I sense you are in a hurry, Lord Welkynd.
- Wulf: There is a strong possibility of an invasion occurring soon. The invaders will be a breakaway sect of Alinor called The New Order. We are helping to arrange Skyrim’s defence.
- Rigmor: The reward for me is part of The New Order’s plan to reduce that defence.
- Oriella: Well, I will learn all about it soon. I will let Tsubaki know what is happening. She has taken the carriage to collect some timber.
- Wulf: Tell her I have recently visited her sisters. They are both doing well.
We exited Heljarchen Hall, and our visibility was limited by fog.
We walked past a dead mammoth, and I knew many giants were nearby. They would have exacted bloody revenge on the killers.
When the Legion compound came into view, I could hear the roar of a Draman as he fought the Legionnaires.
I rushed over and took care of the Draman but found that bandits were attacking simultaneously.
Rigmor and I helped eliminate the bandits. You would have to be stupid to attack a large garrison!
It didn’t take long to find the general, as he was barking orders as loud as Yngol did.
I asked, “Are you, Legate Casius Varon?”
“Yes, indeed. An Imperial courier delivered a message this morning with intriguing orders. I was also told to expect a visit from Lord Welkynd, The Dragonborn, and perhaps another.”
“The pretty young thing with you must be Rigmor.”
“Yes, she is.”
“You are under the protection of parley. But even if you weren’t, we do not allow Thalmor in our military camps. Nobody in The Legion would try and arrest The Dragonborn, and I assure you, the last person I would arrest is Rigmor.”
“That is good to hear, Legate.”
“Come, and we shall discuss things in my tent.”
I looked at Rigmor, and she had an ear-to-ear smile. I would suffer dire consequences if I called her a pretty young thing.
A snowstorm hit as we walked through the compound, and it became pretty dark and gloomy.
As we approached the entrance to his tent, Casius said, “Come and sit. Help yourself to refreshments.”
I stood aside and said to Rigmor, “Pretty young things before weirdos.”
“Haha, you got that right!”
We sat around a small table. As I did when talking to Yngol, I removed my helm.
- Casius: Have you spoken to Yngol?
- Wulf: It might have been Yngol, or it could have been a mountain. It was hard to tell. But I did speak to it, and it did send its regards.
- Rigmor: Wulf was happy to meet somebody larger than him.
- Casius: Sends his regards? I bet he does, that old fox.
- Wulf: Why have you set this camp up near The Pale’s border?
- Casius: There have been raiders crossing that border and ransacking farmsteads. I had this outpost built in an attempt to stop them.
- Wulf: Yngol thinks you are planning an offensive.
- Casius: Haha! I like to cause him a few sleepless nights from time to time. But these raiders are my main concern at the moment.
- Wulf: Are they taking advantage of the war and crossing from Stormcloak territory to Imperial territory, then scampering back?
- Casius: Yes. Their base of operations is Fort Dunstad.
- Wulf: Is that an Imperial fort that the Stormcloaks have not bothered manning?
- Casius: Yes, but I can’t cross over The Pale’s border to deal with them.
- Rigmor: The Jarl might regard that as an act of aggression.
- Casius: That’s right. Things could escalate very quickly.
- Wulf: I am a Thane of The Pale and would like your assistance with a pesky group of bandits.
- Casius: Are you suggesting a special operation? I like the sound of that, Lord Welkynd. You would have my gratitude.
- Rigmor: We would have to get in and out quickly and leave no witnesses.
- Wulf: A nest of bandits being removed is never frowned upon. As Thane, I have the authority to recruit assistance. Therefore, if Jarl Skald the Elder were to find out somehow, there would be nothing to complain about anyway! However, it might get messy if Stormcloaks did see you there, Legate.
- Casius: Excellent! Follow me! It is not far from here.
Casius left the tent, jumped on his horse, and rode through the encampment like a madman.
Rigmor and I had to summon our mounts.
As we rode at a more sedate pace, Rigmor asked, “We are not doing this so that Casius trusts us more, are we?”
“No, he has his orders, and trust is not a factor.”
“You want to get rid of some bandits.”
“I hate vermin taking advantage of the war to prey on civilians.”
“You couldn’t get two more opposites in looks.”
“A huge mountain of a bearded Nord and a well-groomed Imperial gentleman.”
“And they ended up being friends. Now they might have to fight each other.”
“Too bad about Casius’ eyesight. It must have been damaged in battle.”
“What do you mean? I didn’t notice anything wrong with his eyes.”
“How else would you explain, ‘pretty young thing’? He must be blind!”
“Wulf, you are asking for a kick in the bollocks!”
“He should have said, ‘unbelievably gorgeous woman’!”
“Was that sincere, or is it you protecting your manhood?”
“Rigmor, I love you and will not lie to you. Ever!”
“Oh, in that case, you can stop worrying about your dangly bits.”
“You are too kind.”
Casius looked behind and realised he was getting too far ahead. He waited for us to catch up and continued at our safer speed.
As we passed a Khajiit caravan, Caravan Master Ma’dran asked, “Are you going to clear out Fort Dunstad, Lord Welkynd?”
“Yes, Ma’dran. Have they been causing you problems?”
“No, we are too big a group for them to attack. They would have to leave the fort’s safety and risk many casualties before getting close to us. However, we are hearing stories from other travellers of their brutality and greed.”
“I hope the Sendu family are okay.”
“They were brave to stay there after the Imperials abandoned the fort.”
“That is their home, Ma’dran. They expected The Stormcloaks would take over the fort, but I don’t think Ulfric has enough troops to garrison all the forts.”
“We might stop at your property and purchase some stock.”
“Tsubaki will be pleased to see you.”
We stopped and dismounted just out of bow range. I used Night Vision, as it was quite dark.
Casius yelled, “Bandits, raiders, and thieves, you have been warned to stay out of Empire territory! You have chosen to ignore the warnings, but I give you one last chance to disband and disperse!”
The bandits saw a Legate, a tall person in strange armour and a skinny noblewoman wearing expensive armour. They were not intimidated, so the insults came thick and fast.
After listening to their nonsense, it was my turn,
Using the full strength of my Thu’um, I said, “LEGATE VARON WAS MISTAKEN TO GIVE COWARDLY VERMIN A CHANCE. I AM LORD WELKYND, THE DRAGONBORN, AND I HATE BANDITS!”
My first two Unrelenting Force Shouts killed the loudmouths.
My third broke open the barricaded doors and kill some outside sentries.
Some bandits exited the fort. I let Casius and Rigmor tackle them as my fourth Shout killed many defenders heading for the exit.
They had trained trolls which proved to be of little use.
Shout after Shout annihilated dozens of bandits.
The bandits that met my sword died as quickly as those in the path of The Voice.
Rigmor and Casius joined me as I killed the last few bandits.
I wanted to have entered the fort and eliminated all the bandits, but we could not tarry for long. We were in Stormcloak territory, and I did not want to have to fight them as well.
We stood outside the fort’s inn.
- Casius: Now that I have seen The Voice in action, I can start to believe old tales.
- Rigmor: Did you see when they surrounded Wulf?
- Casius: Yes, that was impressive and frightening.
- Wulf: Frightening is when multiple Swordmasters carve through the enemy’s ranks.
- Casius: You have fought in battles?
- Wulf: Many of them and always against great odds in Akavir.
- Casius: Let’s check inside this tavern to ensure we got them all.
- Wulf: We didn’t. There is one bandit downstairs and three upstairs.
- Casius: Huh?
- Rigmor: Wulf can see their heat as a dragon can.
- Wulf: What I can’t see is the family that lives here.
- Rigmor: Perhaps they were allowed to leave?
- Wulf: I hope so, Rigmor.
We burst through the door and quickly eliminated the four bandits.
On a bed in the basement lay the Sendu family.
- Wulf: The father is Barak Sendu. The mother is Areanna. The little girl is Bindi, who is only eight years of age.
- Casius: Did you know them well, Wulf?
- Wulf: Yes, we supplied them with food free of charge. We urged them to move, but they thought The Stormcloaks would take over the fort. It was their home, and I respected their decision.
- Rigmor: Will you do Arkay’s Rights for them, Wulf?
- Wulf: Yes, for they met a violent death.
I performed Arkay’s Rights with Rigmor’s sobs in the background.
Then we silently made our way upstairs.
We sat at a table. I didn’t bother removing my helm.
- Rigmor: They killed a little girl, Casius! Why was that necessary?
- Casius: Dark days, Rigmor.
- Wulf: No, Casius, this is just another regular day on Nirn. These people are victims of the civil war. Every coin they had was invested in this tavern. It provided a good life for a while, and they were happy. Then Ulfric decided he wanted to be the High King. For years, the soldiers here risked their lives protecting the citizens of The Pale. Then they fled as the same citizens repaid their service with hate and bigotry! What was this family going to do? Abandon all they own? They hoped the garrison would return or the Stormcloaks would occupy the fort one day. The bandits may have killed them, but their deaths add to Ulfric’s tally.
- Casius: I will send a message to the Jarl telling him he has citizens that need burying. Anonymously, of course.
- Rigmor: Yngol said you knew my dad.
- Casius: I learned a lot from him during The Great War. His men were unparalleled on the battlefield. We fought at the Battle of The Red Ring together. Later, in Hammerfell, he saved my life. I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. Would you like to hear about that battle?
- Rigmor: Yes, please. I know so little of what my father did as a soldier.
I don’t think Casius knows it was not Titus Mede II who led the army that day.
In 4E 171, Lord Naarifin and his army invaded Cyrodiil after sneaking out of their hidden camps near the Elsweyr border. They successfully flanked Imperial forces near the border of Valenwood, which led to the conquest of Leyawiin. Soon after, Lord Naarifin’s army marched on to besiege Bravil.
By 4E 172, Lord Naarifin’s army had made significant progress and reached the Imperial City’s walls. During this time, there were numerous clashes between the Aldmeri and Imperial Navies on Lake Rumare. As the year progressed, the Imperial City was besieged from almost all sides, with only the supply route to Bruma remaining open.
In the year 4E 174, Lord Naarifin’s army received a significant boost in strength from Aldmeri reinforcements, and they launched an attack on The Imperial City. Emperor Titus Mede II fled, knowing his death would end Empire resistance.
The Dominion forces captured The Imperial City and plundered its riches. They did significant damage to The White Gold Tower in their greed. Following this victory, Lord Naarifin began to fulfil a dreadful prophecy called The Culling. Some say he did it to secure a victory for the Dominion. I believe he did it to please his mistress, Lady Boethia.
The prophecy said that if enough citizens of The Imperial City were killed, their Lifeforce would open a portal, allowing armies of Boethia’s minions to invade Tamriel. Eventually, Boethia may have been able to cross the Liminal Barrier.
Lord Naarifin reopened The Arena, where endless mock battles caused much loss of life. This action helped disguise some of the countless deaths and entertained the citizens of The Imperial City. If left unchecked, all citizens of The Imperial City would have been sacrificed even after the portal was opened.
However, this course of action changed due to The Battle of The Red Ring, where The Forgotten Hero led the Imperial forces that retook The Imperial City.
Like me, The Forgotten Hero was a mortal champion. There is much written about his exploits, but what is important here is the deception at The Battle of The Red Ring.
A failed assassination attempt severely injured Emperor Titus Mede II. His Imperial Majesty asked The Forgotten Hero to lead a surprise attack by Empire forces by impersonating him. The Forgotten Hero wore the Emporer’s armour and led the Imperial armies to victory using the plan of attack designed by His Imperial Majesty and his generals.
Although Lord Naarifin was on the brink of fulfilling The Culling prophecy, The Battle of The Red Ring proved a turning point, and The Dominion forces were defeated. Following his defeat, Lord Naarifin was hung from the White-Gold Tower for thirty-three days, but on the thirty-fourth day, rumours circulated that a flying Daedra had taken his body away.
The truth of that battle is starting to be known due to the courage of a rogue Moth Priest. He is now hiding in exile, and I would aid him if given a chance. The Moth Priest told the truth, which is more important than who led the army. However, I understand that such revelations could cause untold harm to Imperial morale while the civil war rages.
It is not my task to tell Casius the truth. Also, it was not the appropriate time for him to learn it. So I listened to him tell of the battle as he saw it.
- Casius: The end was drawing near. The battle had been raging for two days, and it was the Dominion’s final push. Their Elite Guards were at the front, with the rest of their army following behind. They thought they had the victory in their hands and sent in everything they had.
- Rigmor: I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been!
- Casius: Trumpets, conches, shields bashing, horns, tremendous noise! The Dominion arrows blotted out the sun and turned day to night as they made their way steadily up the hill. The wind blew in dark storm clouds from the east, and it began to rain. It poured as thunder rolled above our heads.
Casius’ monotone delivery conveyed the facts without the glorification a Nord would inject. But he also missed out on delivering the horror.
- Casius: There was a roar of one hundred thousand men as General Jonna rode down from the hill to direct the battle personally. Jonna gave the order, and the Nords charged the Altmer Elite Guards head-on. There was an almighty crashing of shields on steel armour! The Altmer frontline was shunted back ten yards by the sheer force of the Nord shield wall. They tried desperately to break through it, but the hammers and broadswords behind the wall fell on them time and time again. Still, the arrows rained down on us. Still, the rain poured down on us, but Jonna made us stand. We waited and waited. Finally, Jonna gave the signal. The Legion advanced in tight formation on The Dominion’s left flank. We inched our way forward, horns and conches sounding. The bashing of the sides of our shields drowned out the roar of the battle. When we were ten yards from them, they charged us, but our lines held, and inch by inch, we pushed them back. The clash of steel was deafening.
I pictured the similar battles I have fought. I felt like asking Casius why he doesn’t mention how people you knew fell screaming as their insides spilt onto the ground or their brains splattered as skulls were cleaved open. Where is the part where you almost lost your footing on blood, guts, and shit? I bet that made keeping your neat lines of shiny armoured rank and file hard! What about those pleading to their gods, mother, or lover to rescue them from the unfolding nightmare?
I knew what was coming next, the joy of victory without the hollow reality of its empty meaning.
- Casius: Word swept through the ranks that Titus’ army had entered the Imperial City. TITUS, TITUS, TITUS, we roared! Then it happened…the Dominion command left the field, and their army faltered and broke ranks. One hundred and fifty thousand troops fled the battlefield. They threw away their weapons, armour, and anything else that would slow them down. Such was their panic. The Altmer Elite Guard stood to and died, refusing the quarter offered. Your father was decorated on the field by Jonna himself.
Tell me, Casius, how were the Elite Guard offered quarter? Was a clear corridor made through the victorious Empire forces to allow them to march with dignity from the field? Or were they surrounded by a snarling wall of hate in Imperial uniform? How fucking moronic is it to glorify such a last stand when there was no strategic value in their deaths or even a need to kill them!
I kept all this bitterness to myself and hoped Rigmor only saw a neutral expression when she glanced my way. I knew she was picturing her father in the middle of this ‘glory.’ It would do her no good for me to sour the vision.
If Rigmor is ever in such a battle, she will learn that reality is not the glory that Casius portrayed. She will finally realise what Ragnar experienced and why he could not tell her about it.
- Rigmor: You mentioned my dad saved your life?
- Casius: I was in the ranks when the war ended. I was planning on leaving the army and settling in northern Skyrim after buying a mill with my army pension.
- Wulf: But you heard of the planned annexation of part of Hammerfell, didn’t you?
- Casius: Yes, that was a part of the White-Gold Concordat many of us could not let happen. I heard of the Resistance in Hammerfell and offered my services to the Redguard High Command.
- Wulf: Emperor Mede did all he could to support that resistance without being seen to breach the concordat. Something Yngol seems to have forgotten.
- Casius: That is correct. He declared all serving Legionnaires who wished to join as invalids. That means they were honourable discharged. They were not forced to desert, and their families would receive a pension if they should die. It also meant they could be declared medically fit again and reenlist in the Legion later if that was their wish.
- Wulf: Are many of your current command those who were able to get medically fit and reenlist?
- Casius: Yes, quite a few.
- Wulf: I am sure many such reenlisted men are on both sides of this civil war. Forgive me for interrupting. Please continue.
- Casius: I found myself commanding a battalion, primarily volunteers. We had been attached to the Fifth Army and became stranded in the enemy-held territory when the treaty was signed.
- Rigmor: So Redguard and Imperial soldiers had been fighting Dominion Forces when the withdrawal order came?
- Casius: Yes.
- Rigmor: Were the Legionnaires fighting beside the Redguards expected to abandon their comrades?
- Casius: Yes, but the bond forged with those who fight beside you can’t easily be broken.
- Wulf: The exception is a megalomaniac who wants to be the High King. Once again, I apologise, but I want Rigmor to understand why men like you, like her father, voluntarily returned to the horrors of war. Yngol would have her believe that Ragnar did it because of the ban on worshipping Talos.
- Rigmor: I told Yngol that he did it to help the Redguards. Not because he had the chance to fight ‘elves’ and not because of the Talos ban.
- Casius: Your father never hated the Altmer, Rigmor. The Thalmor are a different matter.
- Rigmor: Please, continue.
- Casius: We had been ordered by the Redguard High Command to withdraw from Dominion-controlled territory but found our retreat cut off. Panic started to set in, and it became a rout. The Dominion forces descended on us and began cutting us to pieces. Men, women, and children.
- Rigmor: Women and children?
- Casius: Dark days, Rigmor. The baggage train was five miles long, and the rivers ran red with blood. It was a massacre! The army was scattered, and we had taken on thousands upon thousands of refugees, all running for their lives.
- Wulf: Did you have to cross the Brema River to reach safety?
- Casius: Yes, but we were stranded on the bank fighting a desperate rear-guard action. It seemed there was no hope, and the despair was almost too much to bear. I was at the helm of my men. About two thousand fighting men were left trying to protect at least a hundred thousand refugees. Boats were slowly coming across, and women were throwing their babies into them. Grown men were sobbing on the bank. Some just gave up and waited to be slaughtered. The Dominion troops hacked and cleaved their way freely through the mass of bodies.
Rigmor was on the verge of tears. I, too, felt like weeping for the parents as, once again, that most precious of things, family, was taken away when it should be sacrosanct.
- Casius: Then we heard it, and everything stopped. Suddenly, everything was quiet. Even the children stopped crying, and The Dominion troops held their swords. All heads turned in the direction of the sound. It was like a pulsating rolling thunder, as if the sky itself was being torn apart. Then we saw the banner of Ragnar the Red, coming over the crest of the hill, two golden gilded longhorns on each side that sounded like the anger of the gods. The thunder was the Nords bashing their swords against their shields. Then came the battle cry of six thousand Berserkers as they charged into the mass of Dominion troops even though they were outnumbered three to one. There was a roar and cheer from both sides of the river. And The Berserkers slew and slew and slew. The Dominion forces routed, and oh, how they ran! They were shown no mercy, and no quarter was given, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. Ragnar rallied the remaining Redguard and held the rear guard until every survivor safely reached the other shore. I owe your father a debt of gratitude I could never repay.
- Rigmor: And then they blamed him for that massacre!
- Casius: Rigmor, if ever you need me to testify to clear your family’s name, I will be there in a heartbeat. You should be very proud of your father. He was greatly feared by his enemies and loved by his friends.
- Rigmor: I now know why he never talked about the war. And thank you, Casius, I will remember that offer.
- Casius: Now it seems things have come full circle, and total war could again be upon us. It is such a pity that fool Ulfric appears to think it wise to pitch brother against brother, and for what, freedom from The Empire?
- Wulf: No, Casius, he uses that reason to recruit. He is simply after the title of High King. It would be a short-lived reign, for The Dominion would soon invade a weakened Tamriel. But first, we must deal with The New Order in a way that does not undermine Skyrim or Cyrodiil.
- Casius: Hopefully, many Stormcloaks will realise that Skyrim needs The Empire. What is it they shout?
- Rigmor: Skyrim is for the Nords.
- Casius: I wonder what he has in store for those poor souls who are not Nords. The Stormcloaks and the Thalmor deserve each other.
- Wulf: But the citizens of The Empire and Dominion do not deserve to die for other people’s bigotry and ambitions. Your experience at Brema River was repeated countless times as the Nords wiped out the Falmer and as many nations wiped out the Ayleid. As I said before, these are not dark days. They are regular days on Nirn.
- Casius: Once, we all fought the same common enemy together, side by side. The enemy of my enemy…
- Rigmor: Is your friend?
- Wulf: They are not friends! They are convenient allies against a common enemy. The differences continue to fester under the false veneer of a temporary friendship. Individual soldiers may forget their enmity when fighting together, but their leaders will stoke hatred once more at the first opportunity.
- Casius: I will talk to Tullius and start making the necessary plans.
- Wulf: I have faith he will obey the orders of His Imperial Majesty.
- Casius: Your problem will be convincing Ulfric Stormcloak. I hope Yngol can knock some sense into his thick skull.
- Rigmor: Shouldn’t we be going before any Stormcloaks turn up?
- Casius: Yes, let’s head back to camp.
When we exited the tavern, Night Vision revealed a trail of corpses. It was easy to see where Wulf had been. Finding the glory Casius mentioned amongst the deceased or in my memories was impossible.
When we neared the entrance to Casius’ encampment, bounty hunters attacked.
Legionnaire sentries had spotted them and were ready for trouble, so they were soon cut down.
Casius asked, “What kind of idiots attack so close to a major Imperial stronghold?”
I dismounted and inspected the bodies. On one of them was a wanted poster for Rigmor. I handed it to Casius and said, “There is a fifteen thousand septim reward for Rigmor, dead or alive. But these weren’t just bounty hunters. They were Stormcloak defectors. Look at their shields.”
“Why is there such a large reward?”
“They fear Rigmor as they feared her father.”
I remounted, and we rode to Casius’ tent.
On the patio of his tent, Casius said, “Rigmor, before you go, I have one more thing for you. As I said, I owe your father a debt of gratitude for my life. I would like you to have this.”
Casius passed a beautiful necklace to Rigmor. The darkest of gems were set in onyx.
Rigmor gasped, took it gently from him, and then exclaimed, “Oh my, Casius, it’s gorgeous!”
“It was my mother’s, and I want you to have it. Please say you will take it.”
Rigmor examined the precious gift and asked, “The stones are beautiful! What are they?”
“Black Diamonds? I have never seen or heard of them before.”
Casius’s reply was strange. He said, “When the time comes, Rigmor, you will know what to do with them.”
Cassius wandered off to have a meal with his men. Rigmor stood transfixed by the necklace.
I stood in front of Rigmor and waited. Eventually, she noticed me and looked up.
I asked, “Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah. Where are we going?”
“We shall stay in Heljarchen Hall tonight and head for Riften tomorrow after I check something out.”
“A devotee of Hermaeus Mora wants to open a Dwemer Lockbox. I am going to help him do so. I don’t want what is inside to be taken by that Dark Lord.”
“What is inside?”
“I don’t know. But whatever it is, The Gardner of Men will not take it.”
“Will it take long?”
“I don’t know. If it seems like it might, we shall head for Riften and see if Baa’Ren has the information needed. What the Mora devotee is trying to do may endanger many people, so I can’t continue to ignore it.”
“I hope no more Argonian goons want my head inside The Bee and Barb!”
“Baa’Ren is staying in Mother Cat’s temple.”
“That is the name some Khajiiti have given Lady Mara.”
“Rigmor, what is the name of the place we need to visit?”
“Diamond Ridge Mine.”
“Casius just handed you a necklace containing Black Diamonds.”
“And then he said that creepy thing about me knowing what to do with it when the time comes.”
“I think a god has been fiddling, not one of The Divines. Priestess Frier warned of such interest.”
“Well, that’s disturbing.”
“Isn’t it exciting!”
Rigmor shook her head as I prepared to teleport.
When we arrived in Heljarchen Hall, Tsubaki insisted on cooking us a meal. It looked like an innocent pasta dish, but I knew better. When Rigmor took a mouthful, she coughed and spluttered. After that, she took more dainty bites and enjoyed the meal despite the heavy spices.
We discussed the day’s meetings, and Rigmor knew why my anger flared at Yngol. He lied about Ragnar’s motivation for fighting in Hammerfell. He also made that stupid comment about dying beside Rigmor. Idiot!
I told Rigmor about Lord Naarifin, The Culling and The Forgotten Hero. She agreed it was not the time to tell Casius of the deception.
I inspected the necklace and came to an exciting conclusion. The Black Diamonds are a depository of Magicka, much like Welkynd Stones. However, the method of injecting Magicka into the gems was unknown to me. Welkynd Stones converted starlight, but the Black Diamonds did not.
I lay next to the exhausted Rigmor, who soon fell asleep. However, I was disturbed by the Black Diamonds. I keep an excellent library in each of my houses, and as luck would have it, the ancient tome I needed was in Heljarchen Hall. It described the powers each Daedric Prince maintained on Nirn after the Liminal Barrier was erected. Most of them have no power at all. Lady Azura has the power to listen to and disassemble the foresight of her seers. To do so, she relies on the Magicka stored within Black Diamonds.
Priestess Frier told Rigmor that gods other than The Divines might show interest in her. It seems one of those may be Lady Azura.
After putting the book down, I soon joined Rigmor in a deep, untroubled sleep.