Loredas, 13th Hearthfire, 4E 201
to Middas, 17th Hearthfire, 4E 201
Loredas, 13th Hearthfire, 4E 201 to Middas, 17th Hearthfire, 4E 201
We were almost ready to head for Diamond Ridge. However, I wanted to speak to a couple of children first.
“Good morning, Lucia.”
“Good morning, Wulf.”
“I have some good news about your farm. I told you that the farm legally belongs to you as the only child of your mother.”
“Yeah, and you said it was illegal for my aunty and uncle to kick me out.”
“Illegal and morally corrupt.”
“Yep, I remember that part as well.”
“Well, they have been removed from the farm. We have arranged for an immigrant family from High Rock to run the farm until you come of age. They will keep most of the profits made to purchase a farm of their own. You may want to sell them yours. Whatever you decide, you have a few years to think about it.”
“What will happen with my aunt and uncle?”
“They sold their house when they stole your farm from you. They spent the money installing a new windmill and fencing on your farm. That means they are penniless. Perhaps they will have to beg as you did.”
“I don’t feel sorry for them. I didn’t even get to mourn Mama properly because of what they did.”
“You should feel no sorrow or guilt. They made bad choices and are lucky they were not imprisoned.”
“Can I visit the farm?”
“Yes, soon we can plan trips for you to the farm.”
“Thank you, Wulf.”
“My pleasure, Lucia.”
I approached Olette at the dining table.
“I have some news, Olette.”
“What is it, Cap’n?”
“When the dragons attacked Riften, Governess Kishirra was killed. No orphans were harmed, and the orphanage was undamaged.”
“Oh, that is terrible. Governess Kishirra was such a kind person. Is Constance the governess now?”
“She is now, but a horrible person called Grelod was the governess for some time. She beat the children and almost starved them to death. She even removed the privies and made the children use buckets.”
“Did you chop her head off, Cap’n?”
“No, Olette. Although I was furious at her, I had no right to kill her. I had Grelod arrested, and she will spend a long time in jail.”
“I hope somebody in prison is bigger and stronger than her and beats her up!”
“Other prisoners will not treat Grelod kindly if they discover what she did.”
“Today, we will rescue Rigmor’s mother from the slavers.”
“Will it be dangerous?”
“Nearly everything I do is dangerous, Olette. But I shall have Rigmor, Inigo and Celestine with me.”
“Cool! I hope you find Rigmor’s mum alive and healthy.”
I gathered the group for the day.
Then we teleported to Kynareth’s Pillar.
I said, “I am about to summon Nahfahlaar. Beware of his downdraft and landing, or end up on your rump!”
Nahfahlaar quickly responded to my summons and appeared out of the ether. Rigmor said, “Cool!”
The famous dragon landed quite gracefully. That is something he rarely does.
- Wulf: It is good to see you, old friend.
- Nahfahlaar: And it is good to see you, Wulf. I know how busy you have been, so I won’t even complain about you ignoring me.
- Wulf: Nahfahlaar, this young lady is Rigmor Ragnarsdottier.
- Nahfahlaar: I have learnt all about you from Silah, Rigmor. It is a genuine pleasure to meet you.
- Rigmor: Silah? Oh, one of the other dragons that Wulf has yet to introduce.
- Nahfahlaar: Yes, and she explained what was happening.
- Rigmor: She?
- Wulf: Silah is a female dragon. They are called Jills and hardly ever visit Nirn. Lord Akatosh sent Silah to aid me.
- Rigmor: I still have lots to learn about your friends and colleagues, right?
- Nahfahlaar: He has left the most fun ones to last. Inigo hadn’t met you when we talked a couple of days ago.
- Wulf: I am glad you like the colour Ko’rassa chose for her robes.
- Nahfahlaar: I still feel like I must atone for what happened to Ja’darri. Inigo is on a similar mission of atonement. But I was pleased to see Ko’rassa wear Ja’darri’s colours. She is a brave and honourable Khajiiti, as Ja’darri was. It is a pity her choice of mate is poor.
- Inigo: I thought dragons had excellent eyesight.
- Nahfahlaar: We do, but unfortunately, our sense of smell is just as keen.
- Celestine: So, Rigmor, what do you think of our handsome friend?
- Rigmor: Well, I can honestly say that you, Nahfahlaar, are the most handsome dragon I have ever met.
- Wulf: Before your ego grows larger, Nahfahlaar, you are the only dragon Rigmor has met.
- Nahfahlaar: So, Talos’ Crotch Goblin, why have you summoned me? I was about to bathe in my gold, so it better be important!
Rigmor had a giggle fit over Nahfahlaar’s nickname for me.
- Wulf: We will rescue Rigmor’s mother from some slavers and The New Order. They are inside caverns containing Azura’s Black Diamonds. They have turned the caverns into a mine.
- Nahfahlaar: I know where that is. It must be them that have desecrated one of Azura’s shrines.
- Wulf: Desecrated?
- Nahfahlaar: It is not as large as the one near Winterhold, but still impressive. The temple underneath has been demolished, and Azura’s statue has sunk into the ruins.
- Wulf: We think The New Order have something hidden from us, as their invasion plans can not possibly succeed as they are.
- Celestine: If they are allied with a Daedric Prince, that may explain the temple’s destruction.
- Wulf: Possible, but a bit extreme. Retaliation strikes would occur, and Dark Lords would find their devotees and temples decimated.
- Nahfahlaar: Where is Lunch? I was keen to say hello.
- Wulf: Hashire is not keen on saying hello to you!
- Rigmor: We want to approach the mine quietly, and horses can be noisy.
- Nahfahlaar: I will do it telepathically if I have anything to report.
- Wulf: That is a good idea. Rigmor should be able to hear you.
- Nahfahlaar: Okay, I shall start scouting. I hope you find your mother alive and healthy, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: As do I, and thank you.
Nahfahlaar lifted off, and we headed to where we first encountered Aedriath.
Rigmor asked, “Who cleared the bodies?”
I replied, “Aedriath may be an arse, but some of his troops aren’t.”
“And before you ask, Dragonbum, this is not bringing back horrible memories.”
“I hope this place isn’t bringing back any horrible memories.”
“I hate you.”
We passed the cage we rescued Mr Bear from. The Legionnaire who had been abusing him was somewhat bloated and smelly.
After a steep climb, we were close to the valley where we tracked Aedriath to.
Nahfahlaar warned us telepathically.
- Nahfahlaar: There is a camp ahead. A lone Dunmer is standing on a cairn.
- Rigmor: The cairn where I threw my latest tantrum.
- Wulf: It wasn’t your best one, though. You have to improve the name-calling and contempt.
- Rigmor: Do not doubt that I will do so, Dragonbum.
- Celestine: If she travels with you, Wulf, Rigmor will have plenty of chances to practice and perfect her tantrums.
- Wulf: Help me out here, Inigo.
- Inigo: And take sides against those two ladies? Ahh, my friend, I shall remain silent and perhaps live to see another day.
- Wulf: Looks like it’s just me and you, Nahfahlaar.
- Nahfahlaar: I am brave, not suicidal.
- Wulf: Are you positive there is nobody near apart from the Dunmer?
- Nahfahlaar: Why have you asked me to scout, Wulf?
- Wulf: Because you are very good at scouting.
- Nahfahlaar: So, don’t be surprised when I say I am positive there is nobody near apart from the Dunmer.
We crested a hill, and I looked towards the cairn with Zoom Vision. The Dunmer was facing away from me, so I could not see his face.
As I approached, I said, “Turn around slowly. You will die if you reach for a weapon or prepare a spell.”
The stranger turned toward us. It was Tendril Sethri, the thief from Windhelm.
I said, “Rigmor, stay behind me. Inigo, train your bow on him.”
Sethri kept calm, and I admired his discipline.
I stopped a few feet from Tendril and asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Well met, Dragonborn. Fear not. All is about to be revealed.”
“I don’t fear anything, apart from blood-sucking leeches. I hate those things! I am not one for mumbo jumbo, Tendril. You had better tell me in clear and precise Tamrielic words, who are you, and what are you doing here?”
“I am merely a messenger and have been sent to guide you.”
“I have a map, and it doesn’t speak nonsense. Who sent you on this wasted trip to provide unwanted and unnecessary guidance?”
“As I said, all will be revealed, but I must speak with Rigmor.”
“Inigo, keep your bow at the ready. Celestine, prepare to give Tendril a Fireball enema is he gets out of line. Rigmor, stand at least six feet from him.”
Rigmor stood eight feet from Tendril. She did not trust him any more than I did.
Nahfahlaar hovered overhead and said, “That is a good distance, Rigmor. I can fry him to a crisp without danger to you.”
I said, “Tendril, we are tired of ambushes from those seeking the bounty on Rigmor. Therefore, we do not trust you. If you do anything I regard as threatening, you will die. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Dragonborn. I understand.”
I stepped to the side.
- Tendril: Rigmor of Bruma, Child of the Twilight.
- Rigmor: I’m sorry, but who did you say I am?
- Wulf: She is Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, child of Ragnar and Sigunn.
- Tendril: Take heed. This chapter is coming to a close, and what you seek is not far from here. But what is sought is the same as what you will find at Diamond Ridge. You must follow the cairns at dusk or dawn. They will light the way to the heart of a mother’s love and your final destination.
- Rigmor: Wait, how did you know about…?
- Tendril: Makes haste, child. Time is running out!
- Wulf: If time is running out, you should have spoken plain Tamrielic, you fool! Waiting till dusk or dawn would waste many hours when you told us to make haste.
- Tendril: I say as instructed, Dragonborn. If I deviate from the script, I might get something wrong. Follow the cairns, and they will lead you to a cave which leads into the mines. Simple!
- Wulf: It is evident with the mumbo jumbo about dusk, dawn, and twilight that you are a devotee of Lady Azura. Rigmor, this is more evidence of who the meddler is.
- Rigmor: Lady Azura.
- Wulf: Yes, and Lady Azura is harmless if you don’t prove she isn’t omnipotent. She has helped save Nirn several times via her mortal champions.
- Rigmor: And Baa’Ren-Dar worships her.
- Wulf: Okay, Sethri, what else will we find apart from the mine?
- Tendril: Rigmor will find her destiny.
- Wulf: Bollocks! Cobblers! Balderdash! Undiluted bullshit!
- Rigmor: If you can’t tell, Wulf is not a fan of predetermined destiny.
- Wulf: Predetermined destiny implies mortal free will is worthless, and events are unavoidable. However, that is a discussion for another day.
I stepped up to Tendril. Celestine stepped between him and Rigmor.
- Wulf: I dislike being misled or manipulated, Tendril Sethri. If Lady Azura wanted our help, she should have asked.
- Celestine: Then her temple might not have been demolished.
- Tendril: How do you know of that?
- Nahfahlaar: I told him!
Tendril looked up at Nahfahlaar and shuddered.
- Wulf: If we meet again, Tendril, and you have a message from Lady Azura, you had better speak plainly.
- Tendril: I told you that I say as instructed, Dragonborn.
- Rigmor: Is Tendril a mindless puppet like that mad mage?
- Wulf: He is acting like it. But no, Rigmor, Tendril has all his faculties but thinks what his mistress asks is an order, not a request.
- Rigmor: Heed Wulf’s advice, Tendril.
- Wulf: Okay, we shall follow the cairns in broad daylight and go to the mine. I wonder if Nirn will vanish because we don’t do it at dawn or dusk.
- Nahfahlaar: Following the cairns is not the only route but the easiest. You will pass the destroyed temple on the way.
- Wulf: It seems Lady Azura’s seers didn’t foresee the desecration. But I bet Lady Azura says she saw and sees many other details.
- Rigmor: Bye, Tendril. I hope we don’t have to hunt you down and kill you.
Tendril looked shocked and quickly turned around. He headed for the steps that led to the tent that Rigmor briefly occupied at a rapid pace.
- Wulf: That was very well done, Rigmor! My bastard lessons are going well.
- Rigmor: Does he keep looking behind him?
- Wulf: Yep.
- Rigmor: Haha!
- Inigo: My friend, you do not like mumbo jumbo much.
- Wulf: Not one little bit.
- Rigmor: Rigmor will find her destiny. Yeah, right, pffft!
- Celestine: It seems even more likely that The New Order have allied with a Daedric Prince.
- Wulf: I wonder if they are using the Black Diamonds to power a portal, an Oblivion Gate.
- Celestine: That sounds suspiciously like speculation.
- Wulf: There is nothing wrong with speculation. I get my knickers in a knot when it wastes time or is presented as fact.
- Rigmor: Roscrea weirdness?
- Celestine: Yes.
- Rigmor: Why not say undies in a knot?
- Wulf: Knickers is a common term for female undergarments in Roscrea. ‘Knickers in a knot’ flows. ‘Undies in a knot’ doesn’t flow.
- Rigmor: So, Wulf, do you wear knickers?
- Wulf: Yes, but they are not as pretty as yours, and I can’t get my hips to wriggle as you can.
Rigmor turned bright red as laughter erupted. Her stare promised retaliation, and that made us laugh more.
Steep climbing was needed to follow the first few cairns.
- Wulf: Tell me if you get tired, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: I am eager to find Mum, Wulf.
- Celestine: You will do Sigunn no favours by collapsing, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: I promise, if I feel tired, I will let you know.
- Inigo: Doesn’t anybody care if I feel tired?
- Wulf: No.
- Rigmor: Nope.
- Celestine: Not in the slightest.
A bit further on, Nahfahlaar asked via telepathy, “Can you see it, Wulf?”
“Yep. I will tell the others.”
I pointed and asked, “Can you see Azura’s arm and her star?”
Rigmor replied, “Wow, the statue must be a decent size!”
“Yes, and I wonder why I didn’t know about it. I made sure to record all the different religious sites in Skyrim. That is a big one to miss.”
“Well, that is as good an answer as any.”
After more steep climbing, we reached the desecrated shrine and temple of Azura.
- Wulf: It would have taken a lot of effort, and many people, to damage it that badly.
- Rigmor: But why do it, Wulf?
- Wulf: Allegiances are constantly made and lost amongst the Daedric Princes. I don’t know which ones might be warring with Azura, but their devotees could have done it. However, I am only guessing as I don’t know.
- Inigo: My friend, it looks like she is weeping.
- Celestine: If the statue is half buried, the temple must have had many floors. A lot of devotees may have been killed.
- Wulf: Rigmor and I will get closer and see if there are any clues as to who desecrated the shrine. Inigo and Celestine, wait for us at the base of this rock in case there is an area of effect trap or something similar.
- Rigmor: Wulf, this is scary!
- Wulf: You have nothing to fear from Azura. Just don’t believe everything she says.
- Rigmor: Does she lie like Hermaeus Mora?
- Wulf: What did I tell you about gods?
- Rigmor: All gods lie, but with Daedric Princes, it is sacrosanct when they give their word.
- Wulf: Azura is a god that likes mumbo jumbo and makes claims of dubious honesty within it.
- Rigmor: Why use mumbo jumbo?
- Celestine: It makes things sound more mysterious and godlier.
- Wulf: Oakayeth my ladyeth. Woulds’t doweth accompany thy humble batman to yonder fucked up temple?
- Rigmor: I am tired. Can my lovely batman carry me to yonder fucked up temple?
- Wulf: This batman adoreth thee, but is nay that subserventeth. He humbly suggests my ladyeth suck it up and walketh herself to yonder fucked up temple.
- Rigmor: It seems my batman needs a good thrashing.
- Wulf: My ladyeth always promises such delights but does not deliver. Me thinketh that thee is a fibber!
- Rigmor: Guess what?
- Wulf: Weirdeth?
- Rigmor: Extremely.
- Inigo: Celestine, if Ko’rassa and I ever get that bad, please drown us.
- Celestine: Gladly.
We made our way to the temple.
I felt a probe at my mind’s barrier when close to some steps leading to an altar. I did not think Azura meant to harm me, but nobody except those I chose was allowed in.
At the bottom of the steps, Azura spoke with a voice that seemed to surround us. It was not loud, but it was impossible to ignore.
- Azura: Rigmor, my child, come closer and place your hands on the altar so I can join with you and touch your soul.
- Rigmor: Wulf?
- Wulf: Wait there, and I shall make sure it is safe.
I climbed the steps and checked the altar. I could not detect any dweomer upon it. I did wonder why they trashed the place but left the altar intact.
I looked up and said, “We shall trust you, Lady Azura.”
I signalled for Rigmor to join me.
Rigmor tentatively climbed the steps and stood before the altar. I nodded, and she placed her hands upon it before standing straight and terrified.
Nahfahlaar swooped and said telepathically, “Don’t worry, Rigmor. If Azura does anything you don’t like, I will crap on her head!”
Rigmor laughed and then looked into Azura’s face.
- Azura: Ahh! Yes, my wonderful, beautiful child. Daughter of Azura.
- Rigmor: I… I don’t understand what…?
- Azura: Ever since you were born, I have watched over you. I have influenced the destinies of many and entwined them to bring you here to this moment.
- Rigmor: But why me? I didn’t ask for any of this! I’m scared.
- Azura: Don’t cry, my child. Don’t be afraid. My Guardian has helped protect you well, but mortal danger awaits both of you at Diamond Ridge. The forces of darkness conspire to wreak havoc at the behest of a usurper. From Oblivion comes a new danger. One who seeks to reside in the world of mortals. The Entity has not shown itself yet! But it cannot enter this world until a new order exists.
- Rigmor: But surely you have powers! What could I possibly do?
- Azura: Oh Rigmor, pure of heart, you have something special. A power no lords or gods could ever hope to wish for. You are blessed with a mother’s love! Until now, I have used all my powers to thwart the forces of darkness and weaken their intentions. I have shielded you from harm, shrouded you in my robes and delivered you from the abyss. But now, my powers are weakening. I will eventually fade into The Void.
- Rigmor: But why?
- Azura: Black arts are being used by necromancers to fuse Daedric steel with Black Diamonds. They are attempting to forge weapons and armour from these diamonds. The armour they forge will make them invincible. The diamonds allow a connection between my plane and yours.
- Rigmor: Then everything will have been for nothing! How can we hope to stop an invincible army? There is a way, right? Is that why I am here?
I am glad Rigmor did not look my way, for my anger at the outrageous lies was tremendous, and I could not hide it.
- Azura: They are successfully forging armour, and every time they do, it weakens me in this world. But they cannot forge the weapons! Their efforts won’t work, and they are at a loss as to why.
- Rigmor: So, there is still hope!
- Azura: Only a Daedric weapon forged from my diamonds can void their invincibility. And it can only do so if the diamonds have something extraordinary, the essence of a mother’s love from two sources wrought from bane. One source to fuse it, one to wield it, and both must be blessed.
- Rigmor: A mother’s love?
- Azura: Place your mother’s ring, and the necklace Casius Varon gave you on the altar.
Rigmor did as requested.
- Azura: Now place your sword upon the altar.
- Rigmor: OF COURSE!
What a load of bullshit! Azura was trying to manipulate Rigmor, but I decided to see how it played out and not interfere. I will prostrate before the altar if my sword can’t penetrate their ‘invincible’ armour and beg forgiveness for doubting.
The essence of a mother’s love? I almost burst out laughing at the absurdity. Love is intangible, not an object that can be refined or distilled. It is undoubtedly a powerful force.
A bright light enveloped the three objects.
Azura’s avatar floated above the objects and chanted,
- I am the Goddess, Azura, Mother of the Rose, Queen of the Night Sky, The Dusk and Dawn.
- Behold Rigmor of Bruma, Protector of the Pure of Heart, Daughter of a Mother’s Love.
- I am the Bane of Azura, the Poisoned Chalice of Woe, and Vanquisher of the Forces of Evil.
- Behold Rigmor of Bruma, Child of the Twilight, The Chosen Champion of Azura.
Azura finished her chant, and the light faded. A new two-handed sword lay upon the altar. I suspect it isn’t a fusion of the three donated items but a weapon already prepared by a mortal craftsman. Along its length are Daedric runes matching the chant just delivered. I placed my hand near it and could detect a relatively strong dweomer that caused fire damage. The dweomer was far weaker than I had placed on the sword that vanished in this display of outright lies and manipulation.
- Azura: Go, my child, quickly, and smite the Forces of Evil with my blessing. Only my Champion can wield Azura’s Bane. Make sure it never leaves your side. Go with my blessing and love, and may the Guardian watch over you.
- Rigmor: Wait…do not go!
- Azura: Your destiny awaits, my love. Your mother is waiting.
- Rigmor: AZURA!
There was no reply. I signalled, and Celestine and Inigo came running.
Rigmor picked up Azura’s Bane and did some sword forms with her prowess in evidence. My beloved laughed as she did so, then sheathed her new sword, pleased with its balance.
My friends waited on the steps.
I turned back to Rigmor.
I said, “They are two impressive titles. Daughter of Azura and Champion of Azura!”
“Yeah, I would never have believed it.”
“Do you have any questions about what Azura said?”
“Just about all of it is confusing. Azura called you her Guardian.”
“We need to talk about what Lady Azura said. However, I don’t think we should do so before her altar.”
“You look angry.”
“More than a little.”
“Okay then, we had better get moving.”
As we walked, we discussed what Azura said.
- Wulf: Inigo and Celestine, did you hear what Azura said?
- Celestine: Azura’s voice was loud enough for me to hear and understand.
- Inigo: My excellent fluffy ears heard Rigmor, so I told Celestine what she said in reply.
- Wulf: What do you think, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Azura said nothing but lies!
- Wulf: For example?
- Rigmor: Azura called you her Guardian.
- Wulf: Lady Azura had absolutely zero to do with us finding each other. I found you via ethereal travel because of our Entwined Souls. She did not send me to Skyrim, where I found you again. I was sent here at a particular time to combat Alduin by The Nine.
- Rigmor: Azura claimed to have influenced the destinies of many and entwined them to bring me there at that moment.
- Celestine: That is impossible, Rigmor. Every action creates an infinite number of subsequent timelines. Lady Azura may know of possible events due to her seers. However, they are only possibilities. She may influence some people to do particular things to make a preferred possibility more likely, but she can’t guarantee the outcome.
- Wulf: The key word there is influence, not control or guarantee. Azura will know of some possible future events by gathering information from seers. She can plan for advantageous outcomes based on those possible future events by whispering the right things to the right people. Her influence on Tendril was to ask him to steal the ring and meet Baa’Ren-Dar or us in Windhelm. If Tendril could not or would not do those things, she would have tried to find somebody else who would.
- Rigmor: That is no different than the political games Baa’Ren-Dar has to engage in. He will say something, hoping to gain an advantage in a trade deal, but there is no guarantee.
- Inigo: I can understand that analogy, so it must be good!
- Celestine: There is something fundamentally wrong with your logic, Inigo.
- Wulf: The best way to think of it is a game of chess. You plan many moves, hoping the other player will move their pieces in the predicted manner. If they don’t, your whole strategy may fail.
- Rigmor: I like that analogy.
- Celestine: The trouble starts when people think they must do as a god tells them. They forget they have free will or think a god can somehow punish them if they disobey.
- Rigmor: That is why Hermaeus Mora made a puppet out of that mage.
- Wulf: Exactly. Hermaeus Mora dislikes free will and will try and suppress it via domination. Lady Azura never does that.
- Rigmor: What about Azura’s claim that she has shielded me from harm and delivered me from the abyss?
- Wulf: Did Lady Azura stop you from being whipped?
- Rigmor: No.
- Wulf: Did Lady Azura share your pain during the last whipping? Did she say to you, ‘Please, give them what they want. Scream out, beg for mercy. It will be a hollow victory for them. Surely you have something to live for?’
- Rigmor: No, you did those things and not because she sent you.
- Wulf: Did Lady Azura stop your family from being torn apart, which hurt you as much as any whipping did?
- Rigmor: No, she did not.
- Wulf: What did the goddess say when we visited Riften’s Temple of Mara?
- Rigmor: She said The Divines couldn’t see much unless it was close to one of their shrines.
- Wulf: Therefore, the gods who created Nirn and Mundus can’t see or influence the things Lady Azura claims she can.
- Rigmor: It was my will and the actions of Baa’Ren-Dar, Angi, Rose, Celestine and you that saved me, not Azura.
- Wulf: Correct. I bet if you ask Baa’Ren-Dar, he was not forewarned of your predicament by any seer. He was at that embassy for political purposes, not because Azura asked or manipulated him.
- Inigo: My friend warned you that Lady Azura would claim things she did not do.
- Wulf: Although I respect what she has done to protect Nirn, Lady Azura acted as predicted. However, unlike Hermaeus Mora, there was no malice in her lies.
- Rigmor: But why lie to me?
- Celestine: Because she is trying to manipulate you. She needs you to fight those who desecrated her shrine and are mining her diamonds.
- Rigmor: If she knows me as well as she claims, she would know I would help if asked.
- Wulf: I told you how Daedric Princes came to be.
- Rigmor: Yes, during the chaos of building Mundus, some Et-Ada became Daedric Princes.
- Celestine: The Daedric Princes lost most of their free will during creation. They are constrained by nature forced upon them.
- Wulf: I do not like to call them good or evil. They are what they are.
- Celestine: Wulf’s favourite analogy is a wolf. If a wolf brings down a child and kills and consumes it, does that make the wolf evil?
- Rigmor: No, it is not evil. The wolf did what it was supposed to do. It was a natural action, not an evil one.
- Celestine: Hermaeus Mora’s instinct is to gather and trade knowledge. He craves it like a wolf craves fresh meat. He will do what is necessary to gather knowledge, and the question of good or evil does not factor into his decision-making.
- Wulf: Every Daedric Prince’s behaviour is dictated by cravings and instincts forced upon them. However, the question of good or evil is relevant when discussing their devotees. They have free will and decide on a course of action, knowing if it could be considered good or evil.
- Rigmor: If somebody had a caged wolf and placed a child within that cage, they are evil, not the wolf.
- Celestine: Okay, I think you understand that concept. It is difficult as children are taught to think of Daedric Princes in absolute terms. Molag Bal is evil. Azura is good.
- Rigmor: Azura lied, but that is how she typically behaves, and it is not malice.
- Celestine: Exactly!
- Wulf: Some previous Champions of Azura have thwarted or helped thwart the plans of other Daedric Princes and megalomaniac mortals. It is a title to be proud of!
- Celestine: We are telling you these things so you know the truth, not to belittle Azura.
- Rigmor: How are you supposed to fight the enemies wearing the diamond-infused armour?
- Inigo: Unless the armour covers every inch of their bodies, they will not be invulnerable. We will have to find their weaknesses.
- Celestine: The armour will not protect them against Magicka unless combined with powerful dweomer.
- Wulf: Nothing but natural resistance will protect them against my Thu’um. I also doubt the diamond-infused armour could stop my sword or any good-quality katana. Remember, The New Order wasted a lot of time and resources to replicate your father’s sword, which was nowhere near as powerful as our katana and kai-katana. This diamond-infused armour is another waste of The New Order’s resources.
- Rigmor: What about The Entity?
- Wulf: From the start, we said something was missing from The New Order’s plans. Now we know what that is. They are working for a powerful being. Maybe an immortal, or lich, or a god. That is what the plans of His Imperial Highness have not considered. I doubt it is another Daedric Prince as they tend to know each other’s plans.
- Rigmor: Okay. I am ready, my Guardian.
- Wulf: Oh, are you claiming me back from Azura? I love it when the gods fight over me.
- Rigmor: I am not a god.
- Wulf: You are a goddess to me.
- Celestine: Yes, it looks like Rigmor has successfully trained Wulf!
- Inigo: I will mourn your loss, my friend. Rigmor has consumed your free will!
- Wulf: It won’t be long before Ko’rassa has you trained.
- Celestine: Especially when Rigmor and I give her advice.
- Inigo: Do you feel any pain, Wulf?
- Wulf: No, so you might as well surrender and get it over with.
We reached the entrance to the cave, which was supposed to lead to the mines.
- Wulf: We don’t know what to expect in the mines. There may be enslaved people mixed up with overseers and even New Order troops. That will require careful melee combat and no use of The Thu’um or area of effect spells.
- Inigo: My friend, do we expect much opposition?
- Wulf: We can expect far more New Order troops than were at the harbour or Fort Black.
- Rigmor: What if we encounter Aedriath?
- Wulf: That is up to you, Rigmor. We will immediately attack and kill Aedriath unless you want us to give him a chance to surrender.
- Rigmor: I would like to say something to him. I want to convince him and myself that I no longer fear him.
- Wulf: Okay, if we get that chance, I will stay my sword till you say otherwise.
- Celestine: This was not always a mine.
- Wulf: No, it was a deposit of Black Diamonds. When I looked at them, they store Magicka like Welkynd crystals. They act as a conduit for Lady Azura and her seers.
- Rigmor: I wonder what the story is behind Casius’ mother’s necklace. You hadn’t seen Black Diamonds before, so they must be rare.
- Wulf: Yes, and it was an obscure and rare book that mentioned them.
- Celestine: We now know that The New Order are in league with an entity from Oblivion. We must be on the lookout for information on this entity.
- Inigo: Otherwise, we won’t know how to deal with The Entity.
- Celestine: Champion of Azura is a prestigious title, Rigmor.
- Inigo: Remember, Rigmor, that Wulf said other people named Champion of Azura have helped defend Nirn.
- Celestine: I am sure we have some excellent books on them at the Safe House and museum, ah, Dragonborn Gallery.
- Wulf: Lady Azura has recognised something in you she values, Rigmor. Even if the way she recruited you is suspect, that recognition is valid and should give you courage and determination.
- Rigmor: It does, Wulf.
- Celestine: You give us courage and determination, Rigmor.
Rigmor was taken aback by what Celestine said, but it was true. Those who learn Rigmor’s story and spend time with her are inspired. She looked at me, so I nodded and smiled. Rigmor mouthed a silent, “Oh!”
I called up to the hovering dragon, “Thank you for your help today, Nahfahlaar.”
“We must go flying together soon, Wulf.”
“I look forward to it.”
“I think one of my scales is tarnished. I need to bathe in my gold for a few hours.”
Nahfahlaar flew away at tremendous speed.
I turned to Rigmor, who said, “He is quite impressive, isn’t he.”
“Yes, and a great hero as well.”
“I won’t lie, Wulf. I am a bit nervous.”
“So am I, Rigmor. I want things to turn out as you want them.”
“Well, standing here talking about it will do us no good. Get a move on!”
“Yes, Lady Rigmor Ragnarsdottier.”
Not far in, we came across a bear blocking further progress.
- Rigmor: Wulf, do you have Kyne’s Peace active?
- Wulf: Nope.
- Rigmor: Well, do you trust me when I say I know I can calm the bear?
- Wulf: Yes, I do, so do your bear thing.
- Inigo: Ah, what is this bear thing?
- Wulf: Lady Kynareth has blessed Rigmor, so she is a bear friend.
- Inigo: Should I stop aiming for the bear?
- Wulf: Yes, but keep your arrow knocked, just in case.
The bear noticed Rigmor approaching. It stood to face her and issued a warning growl.
Rigmor took no notice and continued her approach. She did not flinch when the bear charged.
She stared the bear in the eyes, and it abruptly stopped.
In a calm voice, Rigmor said, “Hey there, we are your friends! Don’t be afraid.”
The bear replied with a snuffle, turned around then strolled back to where it was before.
I led a grinning Rigmor and the others around the dozing bear.
I pointed to the remains of people who were not bear friends.
We entered a larger cavern.
I told the group, “I will use Heat-Vision. How about it, furry one? Are we safe?”
Inigo replied, “I can’t hear any mining or smell any animals. I think we are safe for now.”
We walked briskly and soon found ourselves entering another section of the mine.
- Celestine: Pew!
- Rigmor: Wulf, I smelt the same pong in the mine near Fort Black.
- Wulf: I smelled nothing, but you may be right, Daughter of Azura.
- Rigmor: But I am not her daughter!
- Wulf: That title is metaphorical.
- Rigmor: Metaphorical?
- Wulf: Something that doesn’t exist but is referred to as if it does.
- Celestine: Lord Akatosh is Wulf’s celestial father, but he did not sire him. Azura is your celestial mother, but she did not birth you.
- Rigmor: It is kinda confusing.
- Inigo: Is it my imagination, or does darkness taint everything?
- Celestine: I can sense it as well. I think it is a form of dweomer that makes creatures hostile.
- Wulf: Correct, and it made spiders, rats, and skeevers swarm us in the mine near Fort Black.
- Celestine: Chain Lightening?
- Wulf: That is the easiest way to eliminate them. I don’t want to use The Voice unless I have to.
- Rigmor: The bad guys will ignore it. It is like they hear claps of thunder underground all the time. Why is that?
- Wulf: That is one of many questions without a logical answer, my dear Rigmor. Therefore, the answer is Albatross!
- Rigmor: Not gobblygook?
- Wulf: Nope. In this instance, the answer is undeniably Albatross!
- Rigmor: Celestine, can you cure Wulf?
- Celestine: No, his weirdness is part of him and can’t be surgically removed.
- Inigo: The part of my brain that Skooma scrambled thinks my friend makes perfect sense.
- Wulf: Thank you, Inigo.
- Inigo: That is only a tiny part of my brain. The rest of it thinks you are weird.
- Wulf: Well, I was going to mention the spider sacks and cobwebs and offer to leave some spiders for my friend to squish. But now I am too weird to do such a thing.
- Inigo: It has been ages since I enjoyed spider squishing.
- Rigmor: Please explain.
- Celestine: Inigo is obsessed with the crunchy sounds of giant spiders when you hit them hard.
- Rigmor: I can see why Inigo and Wulf get along so well.
- Celestine: Twin weirdoes.
- Rigmor: Yep.
I used Heat Vision and said, “Lots and lots of spiders ahead.”
To prevent whining, I let the others kill a few larger ones. They did make satisfying, crunchy sounds.
A bit further along, we came across our first rats and Skeevers.
After killing the first wave, I told the group, “There are trolls ahead, but I think we have to navigate many twisty tunnels to reach them.”
I drew my sword as Chain Lightening was monotonous. I wanted to enjoy some spider squishing as well.
After killing many giant spiders and tiny spiderlings, we found submerged tunnels.
I said, “I hope your fleas can hold their breath, Inigo.”
“They can hold it longer than I can. But your dweomer will stop me from drowning.”
“Theoretically, yes. Let’s find out!”
“My friend, you are joking, I hope?”
We spent a few minutes underwater, navigating the submerged tunnels.
When we emerged, I had to zap dozens of rodents.
We continued and hardly slowed down as we disposed of spiders, rats and Skeevers.
We eventually came to the trolls I warned about earlier.
I turned them into ash piles with Chain Lightening.
We finally arrived at the mine.
I turned to the group.
- Wulf: There is a miner just past the doorway. Many more people are moving around further in. I would say half of them are miners.
- Rigmor: Please, everybody, be careful. A miner you accidentally kill might be my mum!
- Celestine: Wulf and The Dragonguard have done such rescues in the past without harming the innocent. We outclass any guards they have so we can spend the time planning their death with minimal risk to the miners.
- Wulf: Nobody is near the first miner, so we might have a chance to gather some information if we are quiet.
When we entered, the sole miner stopped working and turned to us.
He looked at our armour and weapons, then asked, “Are you here to rescue us?”
“We are looking for a Nord woman from Bruma and believe she is enslaved here. Have you seen her?”
“Do you mean Sigunn?”
Rigmor gasped. I reached over and held her hand. I was not sure what the following answer might be.
I said to the miner, “Yes, that is her. Can you tell me if she is okay and, if so, where she is?”
“Sigunn was very healthy when some Thalmor visited and made the Enslaver Foreman take her away two days ago. She is most likely in the fort above the mines or, less likely, the dungeons.”
“It is good news that she was healthy. How do we get to the fort?”
“You will have to go through The Forge. That leads to the dungeons. The Thalmor hardly ever come down here. No mixing with the inferior races! Sigunn must be important for them to offend their delicate noses.”
“Sigunn is very important. This young lady is her daughter.”
The miner looked at Rigmor and asked, “Are you Rigmor?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Sigunn talks about you all the time. Be warned, Rigmor, black arts are being done in this place. The route to The Forge is heavily guarded.”
I replied, “We must destroy The Forge and stop them using the diamonds you are mining. It may cause explosions and cave-ins. Therefore, if you want to escape, you had better clear out of here before we do that. How many of you are there?”
“There are not many of us left. Most have been worked to death.”
“This is an evil place, and we gladly help you. As we clear each cavern of the overseers and guards, gather your people and direct them to this exit. We have cleared out all the trolls, spiders, rats etc. Please don’t hurt the bear on the way out! When you see the bear, you are almost free. When you exit, head for the Shrine of Azura. Follow the path from there, and you will find your way to Skyrim.”
“Okay, I will do as you say. Be careful. There are many guards and overseers.”
We moved forward a bit and stopped. We could hear people, but it was safe to talk.
- Wulf: Rigmor, Sigunn was alive and healthy two days ago!
- Rigmor: Thanks for asking the hard questions, Wulf. I don’t think I could have.
- Celestine: Are you afraid, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Yes. It is good to know Mum was alive, but why would they move her?
- Wulf: She is the sugar.
- Rigmor: Oh, and we are the flies!
- Inigo: Buzz. Buzz.
- Rigmor: Once more, they are ahead of us. How?
- Celestine: Who did Azura say the real enemy is?
- Rigmor: A usurper from Oblivion she called The Entity.
- Wulf: The Entity could be another Daedric Prince, Demi-god, Lich or one of the myriad other powerful beings such as a mortal necromancer.
- Celestine: The Entity would unlikely be powerful enough to give Aedriath information allowing him to prepare for your next move.
- Wulf: Most likely, Aedriath may have figured it out himself. On the slavers’ list, what was unique about Sigunn’s entry, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: She was the only one whose surname wasn’t listed.
- Wulf: Even the name Fjonasson scares the crap out of them!
- Inigo: This Aedriath knows that Sigunn is your mother. He probably arranged for her to be moved to this mine.
- Rigmor: Yes, he is very clever, according to Baa’Ren-Dar.
- Wulf: Okay, let us dispose of the guards and tell the miners where to go.
We travelled through the mine and killed every overseer and guard. We did this without harming a single enslaved person whilst informing them where to go.
I was surprised when we encountered Dwemer ruins. I know of no Dwemer cities anywhere near the border of High Rock.
- Celestine: Dwemer architecture!
- Wulf: I had no idea The Forge was inside Dwemer ruins.
- Celestine: It makes sense if the smelting and forging require superior kilns.
- Rigmor: Does that mean there will be no more miners?
- Inigo: I think we will encounter only enemies from this point forward.
- Wulf: I am free to use The Voice, and we can speed up our progress.
- Rigmor: Good! My new sword has an appointment with Aedriath’s rear end, and doesn’t want to be late!
- Inigo: That is a very long sword. Only half of it would fit before the point comes out of Aedriath’s head.
- Rigmor: I don’t care as long as he screams while Azura’s Bane makes it that far.
Heat Vision gave us a warning of a room full of guards.
It was quicker to eliminate a dozen of them with Unrelenting Force.
Inigo dispatched a wizard who had survived the Shout.
As usual, nobody came running to check on the loud noise
We decided the roof didn’t look solid enough. Therefore, we chopped down the next guards rather than use The Voice.
We surprised a guard at the end of a long corridor.
Unrelenting Force killed him.
Surprisingly, other guards came to investigate. When they saw us, some tried to run away. We soon disposed of them.
In front of us was a very solid Dwemer door.
I said, “I think we are near The Forge. There are many guards beyond that door.”
Inigo said, “Shh, my friend. I think we have company coming up the corridor.”
We waited and listened, and then I laughed. I whispered, “Inigo, it is Baa’Ren-Dar, Casius and Yngol. They are allies.”
- Baa’Ren-Dar: The Dragonborn is now using The Voice. But the echoes make it hard to tell from how far away.
- Casius: It has not been a challenging trail to follow.
- Yngol: Yeah, we just followed the bodies.
- Casius: The fleeing miners spoke of a giant in black and gold armour who seemed to decapitate every guard and overseer in his way.
- Yngol: That has to be The Dragonborn, as he did that when we cleared the bandits.
- Casius: He killed over sixty in minutes when we cleared the fort. I have never seen somebody move so fast or kill so quickly.
- Yngol: It makes you proud when you hear of Rigmor’s kills.
- Casius: She cleaved many of them in half!
- Yngol: A true Nord. But it is hard to believe such a small woman can wield a greatsword like that. We have many greatsword Swordmaidens, but they are muscled and much taller than Rigmor.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn says Rigmor is the best exponent of the greatsword he has ever seen.
- Casius: Baa’Ren, you said you know the mage with them.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: From the description of the enslaved miners, Khajiit thinks it is Celestine. That one helped keep Rigmor alive after her grave injuries. She was responsible for many enemy deaths during The Great War and should have been a hero like many Blades. Instead, she had to flee and hide from The Thalmor.
- Yngol: You are sure the miners weren’t hallucinating about the Khajiiti?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Inigo and his brother Fergus were well-known and respected in mercenary circles. Those two did many good deeds without accepting payment. Then Fergus was killed by racists whose existence is not restricted to Skyrim.
- Casius: But they seem to be more concentrated in certain areas.
- Yngol: Not all Stormcloaks are racist, Casius.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Gentlemen!
- Casius: My apologies. What were you saying about Inigo?
- Baa’Ren: After Fergus was murdered, Inigo turned to crime and Skooma. The Dragonborn has given him a chance at redemption. Celestine and Inigo fought beside The Dragonborn against Alduin on Nirn and Sovngarde.
- Yngol: They are true heroes.
- Casius: I take it the feathered bodies are Inigo’s handiwork.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Indeed, that one is an expert with the bow, as are all intelligent people.
- Yngol: All milk-drinkers, you mean.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: That one can stand a hundred yards away and attack, yelling all the Berserker war cries. Khajiit will be the one to walk away and drink more milk. You may drink some mead, but it will pour out all the holes Khajiit made.
- Casius: He has you there, Yngol!
I approached them and declared, “You are noisy enough to wake the dead!”
Rigmor ran and almost broke Baa’Ren-Dar’s ribs with her welcoming hug.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one is pleased to see his child, but he also likes to breathe!
- Rigmor: Oh, sorry.
- Wulf: Did Azura send you?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes. Khajiit visited Azura’s shrine near Winterhold, and she asked this one to gather help. This one brought only people Khajiit could trust.
- Wulf: Even though we visited the lookout and slept in my palace overnight, we still travelled here faster than you could, Baa’Ren-Dar. Did you reveal some secrets to these two?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Yes, as necessity meant secrets needed to be revealed. Wealth buys many valuable items and attracts the sellers of such. Khajiit carries many Waystones for places in Tamriel, but not all return this one to the point of origin when removed. Khajiit has to plan trips carefully to minimise travelling by foot.
- Yngol: I met with Ulfric, and he has agreed to the truce. Negotiations are underway concerning the next phase.
- Rigmor: How did Baa’Ren contact you?
- Yngol: In the middle of a city where they are banned, on the steps of The Palace of Kings, an elderly Khajiiti walked up to me without hesitation. He introduced himself as Baa’Ren-Dar. It did not take much convincing for me to come and help Rigmor. He asked me to place my hand on his shoulder, I did so, and without warning, I was in pitch black and freezing, and a second or so later, in the middle of Solitude, surrounded by Legionnaires!
- Rigmor: Oh, my! What happened then?
- Yngol: I thought I had been tricked. I was reaching for my hammer when Baa’Ren-Dar and Casius started laughing. A few of the Legionnaires welcomed me, and then they all walked away while these two bastards continued to laugh.
- Rigmor: And how did Baa’Ren contact you, Casius?
- Casius: Baa’Ren-Dar had accosted me when I left my meeting with General Tullius. He was chatting with First Emissary Elenwen near the entrance to Castle Dour.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Elenwyn was travelling to discuss our mutual enemy with General Tullius when Khajiit accosted her. Sometimes diplomacy is difficult, for Khajiit would like to scratch her eyes out!
- Casius: After Baa’Ren-Dar introduced himself and explained the situation, I agreed to accompany him, and we concocted the plan to get Yngol. It was too good a chance to miss, and his surprised expression will remain a fond memory forever.
- Yngol: It might take me years, but I will have revenge.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: From Solitude, we hurried on foot. This one was surprised and saddened to find the destroyed Azura shrine.
- Rigmor: Wulf said from the start that there was more to The New Order’s plans.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn has found the missing pea?
- Rigmor: Pea?
- Wulf: The pea that is never under the shell you pick.
- Inigo: Oh, I get the metaphor.
- Casius: Yes, I see. That is entirely appropriate.
- Celestine: The three-shell and pea game, Rigmor. You must have seen it at carnivals or inside a tavern.
- Wulf: Rigmor has most likely seen it in many taverns. A great many taverns, most likely.
- Rigmor: Careful, Wulf!
- Wulf: Yes, Milady.
- Yngol: It looks like we are too late to save Wulf.
- Rigmor: I understand the pea reference now. Wulf, tell them what Azura said and what the plan is.
- Wulf: We are heading for The Forge. That leads to the dungeons and a fort. Sigunn is either in the dungeons or the fort.
- Rigmor: Mum has been there for two days. We think she is the bait and that The New Order expects us.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one warned Dragonborn that Aedriath is a master of subterfuge.
- Wulf: The New Order is working with a being from Oblivion. Lady Azura does not know its identity. She refers to it as The Entity.
- Rigmor: Azura told us The Entity, what she called a usurper, was trying to manifest on Nirn. She said the entity couldn’t manifest unless The New Order succeeds.
- Wulf: I think The Entity will be able to manifest even if The New Order invasion fails. However, it will need an army to survive, no matter what kind of being it is.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: You spoke to Azura, my child?
- Rigmor: Yes, and she named me Champion of Azura.
- Wulf: And Lady Azura claimed Rigmor as her daughter. Unofficially adopted, you might say.
- Yngol: Rigmor, that sword you carry, is that from her?
- Rigmor: Yes. It was made from my father’s sword, my mother’s ring, and Casius’ mother’s necklace. Only I can wield it.
- Wulf: As you noticed on the way in, it is perfect for cleaving bad guys in half.
- Rigmor: This mine is for harvesting Black Diamonds. They allow Azura to communicate with her seers and disciples on Nirn.
- Wulf: The New Order uses the Black Diamonds to create armour supposedly impervious to mortal weapons. But unprotected flesh is still vulnerable. I also bet a Sweetroll that the swords I brought from Akavir slice through it with ease.
- Yngol: My hammer is not a precise weapon. I will keep hitting them till they stop moving.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Another advantage of a good Khajiiti bow!
- Rigmor: Your name is Storm-Blade, so why do you use a hammer?
- Casius: He was a foundling. The Cave Trolls are still looking for their lost child.
- Wulf: We will not worry about all this god and Oblivion stuff till later. We must concentrate on two things. The highest priority is retrieving Sigunn and getting her out of here safely.
- Rigmor: The second is the destruction of The Forge.
- Wulf: The Forge must have a strong dweomer on it to allow the smelting of the Black Diamonds. I don’t know how much energy may be released if it is destroyed.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: We get Sigunn out to safety first. Then destroy The Forge.
- Yngol: What about that Aedriath scumsucker?
- Wulf: If we do not encounter and eliminate him doing the first two tasks, Rigmor and I will find and eliminate him. There is a fort above The Forge and dungeons, and he is probably in there with the specially equipped troops and may not come out to play.
- Casius: Is that wise?
- Rigmor: I MUST KILL HIM!
- Wulf: He must die for what he has done to Rigmor. It is best if she makes the killing. If you don’t know what Rigmor suffered at that bastard’s hands, ask Baa’Ren-Dar.
- Rigmor: I will never feel safe until he is dead.
- Wulf: He has managed to hide the real purpose of The New Order till now. So as Baa’Ren-Dar keeps saying, he is a master of subterfuge.
- Casius: What about Celestine and Inigo?
- Wulf: Celestine can help Sigunn. Even if we find her relatively healthy, four years enslaved will not have been good for her health. And Inigo will be an extra guard for Sigunn.
- Casius: Okay.
- Yngol: What would be the purpose of allowing The Entity into Nirn?
- Wulf: Any answer would be pure speculation as we do not know who or what The Entity is.
- Rigmor: As Wulf said, let us concentrate on those first two tasks.
- Wulf: The Forge is beyond those Dwemer doors. Let’s go.
- Rigmor: Don’t go running in front of my Dragonborn! You saw what his Thu’um does.
- Wulf: I will try and get ahead of you all to use Shouts freely. There will be plenty of scumsuckers left behind me to keep you busy. There are many waiting beyond that door.
- Yngol: How do you know there are enemies behind that door?
- Rigmor: He is part dragon and can see people’s body heat. Duh!
- Yngol: Yeah, of course.
- Casius: Don’t worry, Yngol. I shook my head at some of these things as well.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn’s powers are not well known for a Nord hero. Khajiiti heroes are described with much precision.
- Inigo: It will take pages for Khajiiti scholars to describe my great looks.
- Rigmor: And several books to name all your fleas.
- Wulf: Inigo, it seems that Rigmor makes a suitable Lydia replacement concerning insults.
- Inigo: Indeed she does. But you are worried, aren’t you, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Yes, I am very worried. It would be good if everybody kept up the banter and humour. It helps.
I opened the door and then sprinted ahead.
I did a Single Word Unrelenting Force to get the guards’ attention.
Then, when they conveniently grouped and charged, I killed them with a full force Unrelenting Shout.
After the initial encounter, my Thu’um thundered Shout after Shout, room after room.
The group quickly dispatched any opponent who survived The Voice.
We did not pause and killed dozens in a few minutes.
A single necromancer was enjoying his last meal. I quickly dispatched him and his skeletons.
Rigmor sniffed and asked, “What is that pong?”
“The Forge. We will likely face far more New Order troops from now on.”
We quietly approached the forge and observed the activity for some time.
After a few minutes, I whispered, “The Forge workers are employees, not enslaved people. It is safe to use The Voice. I will say hello to our friends. Watch how they run towards me and die.”
Unrelenting Force raced across the room and killed several people.
I then used my Thu’um and yelled, “GENERAL AEDRIATH SHAGS SHEEP!”
That let the enemy know where I was.
There was great laughter behind me as I proceeded to slaughter dozens.
Eventually, the enemy stopped committing suicide by charging me. I said, “Some smarter ones will not have entered the open. We will have to hunt them down.”
We raced into The Forge room.
Within seconds, all enemies lay dead, and we stopped to catch our breath.
- Yngol: Wulf, Baa’Ren said you and several dozen Dragonguard fought many battles in Akavir.
- Wulf: The Tsaesci are trying hard to eliminate or enslave all other species on Akavir. If they succeed, then Tamriel will be in grave danger. But we fought for any repressed people, no matter their race. There were large-scale battles where The Dragonguard proved the winning factor. However, there were far more infiltrations on forts, as we do here.
- Casius: It is incredible how effective The Voice is!
- Wulf: I never used The Voice till a couple of weeks ago. We had hoped to keep my identity a secret till Alduin appeared. Unfortunately, he already knew I was waiting for him.
- Yngol: Are all The Dragonguard as skilled in combat as you?
- Wulf: Most of them are close. A line of Swordmasters equipped with katana is an unstoppable force in enclosed spaces.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: The Nine speak to Dragonborn.
- Yngol: Which ones?
- Inigo: I have seen Talos as close as you are speaking to him.
- Wulf: I speak to Lord Talos quite often. I have a place in Aetherius where we meet, but sometimes his avatar will visit me on Nirn.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit heard Mara speak to Dragonborn and Rigmor.
- Wulf: I am Champion of The Divines, so them speaking to me should not surprise anybody. Let us keep moving, for Rigmor struggles to control her worries.
As the others gathered in a group, ready for the next phase, Rigmor whispered, “You did not want Yngol to ask about Talos and Ulfric’s claims.”
“This is neither the time nor place to denounce Ulfric. Let Yngol think his leader is morally correct for now.”
“And you were right about my worries. We must be getting close.”
“Do you want to know a secret?”
“I love you!”
“I love you!”
“Wow, what a coincidence!”
“Come on then, hurry it up, my dear, weird Dragonborn.”
I found a journal on an enchanting table and read it to the group.
“Journal of Jonte Malesam,
Seer and Mage to Tilar Aedriath.
We had known of the rumours of the fortifying properties of Black Diamonds, but whether the vein existed or not wasn’t proven true until recently. These very rare gemstones are apparently in abundance here at Diamond Ridge.
General Aedriath ordered the Shrine of Azura to be destroyed to ward off disciples and tourists. Still, there is a more sinister, more profound reason for the desecration of the shrine.
The Forge should be able to pick up where production left off after the failure of Joror to mass-produce Daedric and steel armour and weapons.
However, one thing still escapes us, the weapons. The armour we can make, although we haven’t refined it enough for complete invincibility yet. Twelve units have already been produced and delivered to General Aedriath’s personal guard at Fort High Rock. It is extremely tough, so we are on the right track.
But the weapons? Something is missing and eluding us, and if we are to pull off this imminent invasion and take on Mede’s army, we need them.”
I told the group, “This journal demonstrates the limits of Lady Azura. She thought they had perfected the armour, but according to this mage, that is not the case. You must remember gods are not omnipotent on Nirn, even if they act that way. In their realms, they are. Very rarely does any god, The Nine or otherwise, speak to me with absolute certainty.”
We faced doors belonging to a Nordic crypt.
I told the group, “This is strange. We are going from Dwemer ruins into Nordic ruins. They rarely interconnect.”
We stepped through the door, and the grinding of bones could be heard.
Inigo whispered, “Skeletons!”
I replied, “I will use a less noisy Shout called Cyclone to eliminate them. Heat Vision shows one necromancer sitting and waiting to die. There is a spiral stairway ahead. We might have to fight many skeletons on them.”
The skeletons and necromancer were in a small alcove
Two Cyclone Shouts eliminated them.
We then fought our way upstairs.
I drew my bow as the closer we got to Sigunn, the quieter we needed to be.
We approached a door, and I whispered, “The Cyclone Shout and our fighting of the skeletons were relatively noiseless. There are three New Order troops in the next room. It is time for some target practice!”
I opened the door and eliminated the three enemies with three rapid shots.
- Yngol: Deadly with the bow as well!
- Bar’Ren-Dar: Angi said she had never seen such a marksman.
- Rigmor: I have seen him kill a dozen Thalmor, in the dark, from hundreds of meters away without missing once.
- Celestine: Wulf is also one of the most powerful mages alive.
- Wulf: There is no glory or pride in my ability to kill. It is one tool among many I use to protect the innocent. I would appreciate it if less discussion was held concerning it.
- Rigmor: Wulf dislikes killing! I am sorry to have added to the false glorification of it, my beloved.
We continued our stealth infiltration. I put my fingers up to indicate six enemies ahead.
I eliminated all six with six shots. Thankfully there was no discussion on the deadly skill demonstrated.
We came to a door, and Rigmor gasped.
- Inigo: You smell it as well.
- Rigmor: Yes, the smell of prison cells.
- Wulf: Several guards are sitting down. One person is lying down. I am guessing that is a prisoner as they are further to the right of the others.
- Rigmor: Mum?
- Wulf: It is impossible to tell. We must eliminate the guards quickly. They may have orders to kill Sigunn if we get close. I will take out the one closest to the prisoner first.
I opened the door and shot a Legion turncoat in the back.
I shot all the other guards as they ran towards the occupied cell.
As we walked towards the occupied cell, I said, “Stay back, Rigmor. Let me look first, okay.”
Baa’Ren-Dar held Rigmor tight as I walked to the cell. A woman lay on a crude bed of straw. She was unmistakably Sigunn. We had found Rigmor’s mother.
A key I recovered from the turncoat unlocked the cell.
Sigunn was filthy but looked well-toned and fed.
I cast Grand Healing on her, and she slowly stood.
I turned my back and said, “Sigunn, I am here with Rigmor. Get dressed and meet your daughter.”
I stood at the entrance to the cell and told the group, “Sigunn is well, but I healed her as a precaution. She is getting dressed, so be patient.”
Yngol dragged the turncoat’s body away.
A minute later, Sigunn said, “I am dressed.”
I moved away and watched as Sigunn walked slowly towards Rigmor.
Within arm’s reach, Sigunn stood and stared at her daughter.
Then Sigunn asked, “Rigmor? Is this a dream?”
Rigmor’s composure finally crumbled, and she cried, “No, Mum, it is not a dream. I am here. I am real.”
Mother and daughter collided and hugged as I watched with tears streaming.
The hug ended, and they stood apart. The pair looked at each other, and Sigunn touched Rigmor’s face. I am sure she was checking that Rigmor was real.
Rigmor said, “I thought I would never see you again!”
Sigunn replied, “Oh Rigmor, my dear child, my little girl, what have they done to you?”
The killing was finished, and Sigunn was found. So, Baa’Ren-Dar resorted to his sensible, practical self.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn, we must move on quickly before The New Order have time to regroup.
- Wulf: Okay, you all must escort Sigunn to safety. Rigmor and I have unfinished business.
- Celestine: I am a physician, Sigunn. I will check your health once we are away from here.
- Casius: After taking Sigunn to safety, Yngol and I will collapse the mine and rejoin you.
- Yngol: I had a quick look, and I think a few well-placed hammer strikes to the pillars will do it. The whole rotten edifice will come crashing down.
- Wulf: I remind you that a lot of energy may be dispelled when The Forge is destroyed. Be careful!
- Rigmor: Mum, I need you to go with my friends. Wulf and I must stop the people who did this to our family.
- Sigunn: Please come with us, Rigmor. I don’t want to lose you all over again.
- Rigmor: I am sorry, but we have to do this. Baa’Ren-Dar and the others will take care of you until I return.
I stepped closer, and Sigunn looked into my eyes.
She asked, “Are you, Wulf?”
“Wulf, please bring her back to me. Look after her and be careful.”
“Be assured, Sigunn, I will try my hardest to return Rigmor to you again.”
Rigmor had sought this reunion for four years but stood firm as she watched her mother leave.
After the last person had exited the cell block, I closed and latched the door.
Then I approached a sitting Rigmor.
I told her, “I could tell she was your mother as the resemblance is strong. Sigunn looked unharmed and healthy. No physical scars, well-fed and even muscle toned! I can see where a certain somebody gets their determination from.”
“You mean my stubbornness.”
“Yes. That is what kept you from The Void, not Lady Azura.”
“For a god that you don’t dislike, you are a bit harsh.”
“I am just as critical with The Nine. I expect certain standards from mortals and gods. But enough about them.”
“Knowing Mum, she would have worked hard at whatever tasks they gave her. There would have been no need for punishment or withholding of rations, and the work kept her fit.”
“I think these mines were different. I am glad we rescued all the enslaved.”
“How many did you add to your list, Wulf?”
“Not many. The Thu’um kills from a distance.”
“We have removed one head from the monster that haunts you. Let’s go remove the other head!”
Rigmor smiled, then said, “That is the most romantic thing you have ever said.”
She stood with Azura’s Bane at the ready, and I pitied any enemy who faced her.
Many skeletons could be heard when we approached the other exit to the cell block.
We walked through the door and up a short passage. Then we allowed the skeletons to rise.
I then eliminated them all with Cyclone.
More skeletons could be heard above us.
We climbed a spiral staircase.
When we saw a room full of Skeletal Warriors, Rigmor forgot the rule and ran before me as I unleashed the Cyclone Shout.
It eliminated all but one skeleton. Rigmor bounced off the roof.
I destroyed the last skeleton.
I then turned to Rigmor as she dizzily got back to her feet.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
She stared at me and demanded, “What is so funny?”
“Oh, nothing, my beloved.”
“I could have been seriously hurt!”
“Not with the dweomer on your armour.”
“It was not funny!”
“Oh, but it was.”
Rigmor suddenly became very serious.
“Wulf, I’m scared!”
I hoped Rigmor could not sense the dread I felt. We had to finish what we had started. I did not want Rigmor to worry about Aedriath after today.
I told her sincerely, “It is okay to be scared. It is our body telling us, ‘Don’t be so stupid!’”
“Sorry for what? For being afraid of the wild animal that mauled you? That is what Aedriath is. He is a rabid animal that we will put out of its misery!”
“I suppose I am ready to face him.”
“We have waltzed through everything thrown at us because we have stuck together. Nothing will be worse beyond the next door than what we have already overcome.”
“Well, we are about to find out, right?”
“I have no stupid jokes to lighten the mood. I am just glad I could help you and Sigunn.”
“I meant what I said at the lookout, Wulf. I am not going to leave you, ever! Whatever crap The Divines need you to do, I will be with you or waiting for you.”
“Are you ready, my beloved?”
“I still want to tell him how he no longer frightens me!”
“Okay, I will not kill him instantly. But we will kill him.”
“Then, my weirdo, beautiful, Dragonbum. Let’s go kick the arsehole in the arsehole!”
“Yes, I can see all that proper noble lady training has been worth it.”
I was rewarded with a laugh.
At the door, I said, “There are six troops, three left and three right. I don’t think Aedriath is there.”
We entered, and Aedriath was there, sort of.
I whispered to Rigmor, “He is using a projection. He is not physically in this room but must be close by.”
Aedriath’s projection stood at the back of the room. Six Elite Guards, three on each side, flanked it.
We stopped about ten feet in front of the nearest guards.
- Aedriath: You have a nasty habit of turning up where you are not wanted, Rigmor!
- Wulf: You have a nasty habit of running away and letting your men die for no reason. Do these pretty guards know how bravely you fought last time we met?
- Aedriath: I am glad you brought your pathetic Guardian to witness your final doom.
- Wulf: You guards must be asking themselves why, if I am so pathetic, are you using a projection?
- Aedriath: Don’t worry! Soon I will have your head placed on a spike next to Rigmor’s.
- Rigmor: Wulf has killed thousands in combat. He defeated Alduin, The World Eater.
- Wulf: Rigmor killed every Thalmor in the Bruma Embassy. Together, we killed every guard and New Order troop at Fort Black. We marched through the tunnels to retrieve the slavers’ list.
- Rigmor: We just killed hundreds of your guards and troops without sustaining a scratch. Now these six are supposed to stop us?
- Wulf: They are not good odds, Aedriath.
- Rigmor: Did you think you would get away with it? You and your criminal organisation. The lives you have torn apart! And for what? Your plans are undone, and your crimes are exposed. You will never be able to accomplish your New Order now.
- Aedriath: Oh, you will see! There will be a New Order, and we will rule and take our rightful place above the lesser beings. Who will believe the word of a washed-up Khajiit emissary anyway?
- Wulf: Let’s see. So far, it is Emperor Titus Mede II, The Elder Council, The Thalmor, the real ones, not your fake lot, Ulfric Stormcloak and General Tullius, the Kings and Queens of High Rock and the leaders of both Anequina and Pelletine. It seems everybody believes one of the most respected emissaries on Nirn.
- Aedriath: Too bad you won’t live to see how wrong you are. I have no idea what that sword is you are wearing, and Rigmor’s Daedric toothpick is no match for my men in this armour.
We drew our swords.
- Wulf: My sword is infinitely sharper than Ragnar’s, and how much effort did you put into reproducing that? Your men carry no shields, don’t wear full-face helms and have no gorget. I will kill all six in less than ten seconds. Tell them about your sword, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: This sword is no Toothpick, Justiciar. Meet Azura’s Bane. Do you know what these Daedric runes say?
- Wulf: Aedriath might be brown-nosing a Daedra, but it doesn’t mean the moron can read Daedric runes.
- Rigmor: Then, I will enlighten him.
In a voice full of confidence and venom, Rigmor said,
“I am the Goddess Azura, Mother of the Rose, Queen of the Night Sky, The Dusk and Dawn.
Behold, Rigmor of Bruma. Protector of the Pure of Heart. Daughter of a Mother’s Love.
I am the Bane of Azura. The Poisoned Chalice of Woe. Vanquisher of the Forces of Evil.”
I used my Thu’um.
“BEHOLD, RIGMOR OF BRUMA. CHILD OF THE TWILIGHT. THE CHOSEN CHAMPION OF AZURA!”
The guards were startled. Rigmor grinned, then yelled, “I am Rigmor of Bruma, and you shall know thy bane. You shall know whence thy tears came. TALOS WILLS IT!”
I ran at the guard furthest on my left.
Aedriath screamed, “What are you waiting for? An invitation? KILL THEM. KILL THEM BOTH!”
Before the guard drew his weapon, I removed his head.
Aedriath watched as I did as I predicted. All six Elite Guards lay dead in less than ten seconds. Their heads were still rolling on the floor when his projection vanished.
I walked over to Rigmor.
She said, “I got one good swing in before you killed them all!”
“Sorry, I just wanted to prove a point to Aedriath.”
“So much for their invincible armour!”
“I didn’t have to test the strength of their armour. If I wanted some variety, I could have stabbed them in the face.”
“Why don’t you go find the arsehole. I will stay here and look for evidence.”
“I don’t like leaving you alone, Rigmor.”
“You just cut these asses down in seconds. I will stay alert. But I am afraid again, my Guardian. Bring him back here but ensure he can’t spew vitriol from his foul mouth. It drags me back there, and he knows it.”
“His projection would only work from a room or two away. That is as far as I will go unless you accompany me.”
“I will be okay. Now off you go.”
“That journal said they made twelves sets of armour. There are still six Elite Guards somewhere.”
I searched several rooms as Rigmor looked on shelves and amongst the corpses.
At one point, I looked down on my beloved from a balcony to ensure she was okay.
In a bedroom, upon a desk, I discovered a letter and Aedriath’s journal.
I read the letter first. It was written in Aldmeris.
“To General Aedriath,
New Order of Alinor.
The Order is no longer prepared to wait for the mass production of special weapons and armour. The contracts on the top-level targets have been revoked as two of them are too heavily guarded. It has been decided to take on a more direct and robust approach to our intended plans, and the time scale must be adhered to. The Entity is becoming restless, and we have continued manufacturing the portal gate, which is almost ready. The phases will proceed planned to coincide with The Revelation and the unleashing. Soon we will take control of The Isle, and you will oversee the Northern Invasion Force. Mede will have to march North, and we will strike in the South simultaneously. We will then be free to march on the Imperial City and take back what is rightfully ours. It is a pity you couldn’t even dispose of one girl.
Long Live New Alinor! Long live The New Order!”
The journal was Aedriath’s. I knew it would be full of crap and was not disappointed. These are the relevant entries.
“Journal of Tilar Aedriath.
This record is for Sharon, my loving wife.
The fools, how dare they question my loyalty. They sent me to Skyrim to deal with that annoying Nordling girl. If I had known how much trouble she would cause me, I would have ended her back in Haven when I had the chance. That meddling Khajiit will end his days at the point of my blade, I swear it.
I told them that work on secret weapons and armour was a waste of time, a fad, and a security risk, and we should invade the northern coast and burn Skyrim. But it’s them that falter, and they are the ones dragging their feet with inconsistency and doubt.
Is it my fault the assassins were incompetent, the bounty hunters useless fools? I think not, and The Order would do well to watch their poisonous tongues. This girl Rigmor has her father’s blood coursing through her veins. She also has The Dragonborn, who she calls her Guardian. That was not part of the deal!
The Dragonborn protects her night and day and is a formidable foe worthy of respect. It will take something more tactful to thwart this cosy little situation.
I will show them! Like her father, I will catch the girl and bring her back to Alinor in chains, and I shall enjoy the adulation and relish the subsequent execution. With Skyrim in chains, The New Order throughout Tamriel, and the destruction of the memory of Talos, I shall return a hero! Yes, they will erect shrines to ME! I will also become a GOD!
I shall prostrate myself at the feet of the One True God. The Restoration shall be completed at my hand, not theirs and The Revelation shall become the future of the new Dominion.
Your loving Tilar.”
I barely had time to process the journal before Rigmor yelled, ‘WULF! HELP!”
I ran to the balcony and leapt over it. Three Elite Guards surrounded Rigmor.
I would have come to her aid, but she yelled, “These are mine. Find your own!”
Rigmor needed to defeat Aldriath’s best as it would add to her confidence. There is no denying the Elite Guards were fine warriors, but everybody looked amateurish when Rigmor was in her stride.
I hadn’t held Azura’s Bane, but it must have been light, like a katana, as Rigmor quickly blocked the attacks of the Elite Guards.
The dweomer on it wasn’t the strongest, but it still set opponents alight at the slightest touch.
One of the Elite Guards was screaming in pain, so Rigmor put him out of his misery with an almighty downswing and reverse swing.
She blocked another guard’s attack so forcefully he lost balance.
Then she almost cut him in half, but he stepped back enough only to be grazed.
The guard swung his mace with all his might, and Rigmor stepped aside, easily dodging the blow.
Rigmor then attacked the mace wielder, who struggled to move his weapon in time to block her sword.
Eventually, Rigmor was too fast and cut him down. She used the momentum of her swing to face the last Elite Guard and block his blow.
Even though he was armed with a sword, the last guard had no chance of surviving the superior skill and speed of Rigmor.
Rigmor’s final blow sent the guard flying. He was dead before hitting the ground.
Rigmor nonchalantly sheathed Azura’s Bane and then stared at the corpses.
I was going to compliment Rigmor on her swordsmanship, but she asked, “Wulf, did you find Aedriath?”
“Oh no! By the gods, no!”
Rigmor ran away and started to sob.
I slowly approached Rigmor and turned her around.
I handed her a kerchief, which she used to wipe away her tears and blow her nose. She smiled as she tucked it into her gauntlet.
Rigmor then said, “I am sorry, Wulf. I want to end the nightmare.”
“I understand, Rigmor. We shall get another chance at him. He can’t keep running forever, and it seems nothing will deter their invasion.”
“I know, Wulf. But I can’t make plans for the future if he is still around to haunt me.”
“We can make plans, my beloved, if Aedriath is still breathing or dead. We can sit together and draw plans for a farmstead.”
“With a veranda around the house.”
“Near a lake or river.”
“With plenty of room for our tribe of children.”
“A tribe? We can always add extensions to our simple farmhouse until it looks like a mansion.”
Rigmor laughed, but the shadow of fear soon masked her face.
She pleaded, “Wulf, promise me you will never let me go.”
“You know I can’t make that promise, my beloved.”
“Please, Wulf! Promise me!”
“I can’t promise, but I will try. I will not stop out of choice. I hope that is good enough.”
“That oath was good enough in that dark cell, my Guardian. It is good enough now.”
Before me was my other half. I could never be whole without Rigmor, and I loved her beyond what I can express with words.
Rigmor laughed that laugh and said, “My dear, Wulf. I love you and will always love you.”
Before I could reply, something hit me on the right side of my neck. There was a door there I hadn’t checked. What a fool I had been.
I felt burning spread through my body. A crossbow bolt was protruding from my neck, and I guessed it was coated in poison.
I started to gurgle as my Dragon Blood threatened to drown me.
I fell to my knees, and Rigmor screamed, “Wulf, no!”
I slowly fell onto my side and found myself staring at nothing interesting. I would have liked to have changed my view, but I couldn’t move. The door was not open, so the enemy must have come from somewhere else.