Middas, 17th Hearthfire, 4E 201
to Fredas, 19th Hearthfire, 4E 201
I looked at the route Aedriath, and his Elite Guards took. They had destroyed a walkway! After the deadliest poison and two stabbings, did they worry that I would still be after them? Maybe I haunt Aedriath’s dreams?
“Son, you have no idea how relieved I am that you have returned to Mundus.”
I turned and walked to Father’s avatar. I could not hug it, as it was a form of projection, not flesh and blood. However, in every other way, it was Father, and the relief on his face matched his words.
“What were my chances, Father?”
“Very slim. As we told you, your shared love with Rigmor and your will is a mighty powerful force.”
“I did as you asked but was failing. Another god whose name I don’t know visited me. It pointed out I had doubt and that The Void was not preventing me from returning.”
“If that entity spoke to you for over a minute, it was probably not et-Ada. We are vulnerable, especially so within The Void. There are entities, gods if you will, that roam The Void and are not benevolent. You are fortunate to have encountered one that was benevolent.”
“Its avatar was that of a younger Rigmor.”
“What did you doubt, Son?”
“I didn’t know at first what I doubted or feared, for it was the same thing. Then I realised that I thought Rigmor would think I had failed her. Perhaps I was not the best choice for mortal champion or Rigmor’s protector.”
“And this entity steered you towards that realisation?”
“Yes, as you and Mother, and now The Nine, often do. The entity said that self-realisation is the best teacher.”
“Do you need further convincing of Rigmor’s faith in you?”
“No, for she left a trail of red mountain flowers for me to follow. After seeing me shot and stabbed, she still had faith in me that cut through her terror and left that path.”
“I will leave you now, Son, to do what is needed to get Rigmor back.”
Father’s avatar vanished. He didn’t say, but intuition told me the god I encountered did not reside in The Void but could visit that realm without peril.
I willed myself to the camp near Angi’s. Vayu’s smile was wide as I approached him.
He said, “Silah told us you were sort of dead but fighting to return from The Void.”
“I was stabbed twice and poisoned with Jarrin Root. Lady Azura kept a small part of my Lifeforce attached to my body. I had to will my consciousness from The Void to Mundus and my body. I met an interesting god in The Void. I will tell you about it soon.”
“You are probably the only person in history who has survived Jarrin Root Poison.”
“I am very weary, Vayu. I hope that after I rest, somebody can tell me where Rigmor is.”
“Yngol visited. He and Baa’Ren-Dar broke the news to Angi, Sigunn and Sorella. Yngol returned to his troops as they prepared for The New Order. Valminoor has been guarding this place today. Nahfahlaar will take over from him tomorrow.”
A loud bark let us know that Meeko had detected my return.
My lifelong companion came bounding towards me at full speed and almost knocked me down with his greeting.
“Yes, Meeko, I am dead. I thought I would visit before I became mouldy and smelly.”
“I am glad to see you as well.”
“I have no doubt they have all been sad. Sorella will understand you couldn’t promise that Rigmor was okay. Everybody knows I am here thanks to you, so they will be impatient to hear the news.”
“I don’t know where Rigmor is. Come, and I will tell you and the others what happened.”
Angi, Sigunn, Baa’Ren and Sorella waited for me to approach.
Baa’Ren-Dar said, “Dragonborn, we thought you were dead or captured.”
“The Divines would tell my friends if I died, and they would tell you.”
Sigunn asked, “Rigmor! What happened to Rigmor?”
“I am so sorry, Sigunn. The New Order captured Rigmor.”
Sigunn’s face went pale as she exclaimed, “Oh no!”
Sorella’s face hardened, and she yelled, “I hate you! I hate you!”
The little girl ran into Angi’s shack sobbing.
Angi left to comfort Sorella.
Sigunn asked me, “Do you think Rigmor is still alive?
“Lady Azura thinks they need Rigmor alive but doesn’t know why. I cannot say for certain that she is.”
I didn’t mention to Sigunn the more likely reason they would keep Rigmor alive. They want to display the ‘Daughter of the Beast of Hammerfell’ and prolong her suffering by re-enacting what happened to Ragnar.
“But why her, Dragonborn? I don’t understand.”
“All I know at the moment is there are forces behind The New Order that reside in Oblivion. Their intentions were not as we have thought up to now. We will have to gather more information to understand it all.”
Angi rejoined us.
“I will continue to believe Rigmor is alive and will try and calm Sorella.”
“Before you go, Sigunn, know this.”
I used my Thu’um, and my words would have been heard for miles.
“I WILL DO MY BEST TO RESCUE RIGMOR, AND FEARFUL BE THE GOD OR MAN OR BEAST THAT STANDS IN MY WAY!”
Sigunn gasped at the power of The Voice, which echoed for several seconds. She then nodded before heading for Sorella.
The little girl’s sobs tore at my heart. A child’s laughter is the most precious thing on Nirn, and their cries the least wanted.
I told Baa’Ren-Dar, “We have to talk!”
“This one suggests we retire to Rigmor’s tent as Khajiit thinks some things are better discussed privately. Yes?”
“I will be there soon, Baa’Ren-Dar.”
As Baa’Ren headed for Rigmor’s tent, I listened outside Angi’s hut.
- Angi: Don’t cry. Everything is going to be okay.
- Sorella: I hate him!
- Angi: You don’t mean that.
- Sigunn: Sorella, you told me that Wulf loves Rigmor. Is that true?
- Sorella: Yes. They love each other lots!
- Sigunn: Don’t you think he tried to stop them from taking Rigmor?
- Sorella: Yes.
- Angi: We don’t know the whole story, Sorella. Poor Wulf looks sad, and we shouldn’t make him sadder.
- Sigunn: Wulf will find her.
- Sorella: I want Rigmor to come home.
- Sigunn: We all do, Sorella.
- Angi: You heard Wulf say he would try to find her.
- Sorella: I think everybody heard him!
- Angi: Part of the problem, young lady, is you are tired. Off to bed now.
I entered Rigmor’s tent and sat.
I told Baa’Ren, “Despite your warnings, Aedriath outmanoeuvred me. He sacrificed people, Baa’Ren, and that sort of strategy is foreign to me. But I will have to start thinking like my enemies to survive.”
“Was that one stuck in the rubble for all this time?”
“No, Baa’Ren. I was in The Void. My love for Rigmor strengthened my will to return, and the aid of gods kept me alive.”
“Dragonborn must have been close to death to be in The Void.”
“Yes, a crossbow bolt made from a Black Diamond hit me on the neck. The bolt was covered in Jarrin Root Poison. When that failed to kill me outright, two of Aedriath’s Elite Guard stabbed me through the armpits.”
“How did gods help Dragonborn?”
“The Nine gave me a blessing that will prevent me from dying in many, but not all, circumstances. It repaired the damage from the swords and the immediate effects of the poison. However, it did not remove the poison. My body expelled that over several days. Lady Azura anchored a small part of my soul to my body as I fought to return from The Void. Two gods spoke to me in The Void. Lord Talos and another whose name I do not know. Their advice helped me summon the willpower to return.”
“Dragonborn said his love for Rigmor strengthened his will. Did Rigmor and Dragonborn end their confusion?”
“Yes, Baa’Ren-Dar. Rigmor wants to stay with me, no matter what the future holds.”
“This one does not know much about the workings of the gods. This one does know the power of love, so Khajiit is heartened to hear you both came to your senses.”
“I am at a loss as to what to do next. Lady Azura is probably waiting on something from her seers. The Nine will not know. What happens in Oblivion is hidden from them.”
“This one brought Sigunn here because he thought it would be safe. But nowhere is safe.”
Read these documents, Baa’Ren. Make sure those who need to see them do so.
I handed Baa’Ren the letter to Aedriath and his journal. He read them almost as fast as I could. That is a handy skill in the games of politics and espionage.
Bar’Ren-Dar looked at me grimly, then said, “This one would never have believed it. Tamriel is in grave danger!”
“If a Daedric Prince manifests in Mundus, then everybody on Nirn is in danger. However, we don’t know what The Entity is, so we cannot counter it.”
“Dragonborn doesn’t think the New Order’s establishment is needed for The Entity to manifest on Nirn.”
“An army already in a position of power and ready to conquer more territory would be desirable. However, The New Order need not be established for an Oblivion Gate to work. They have constructed one, but I do not know how they will open it. That usually takes some metaphysical mumbo jumbo disguised as a ritual. I think that is The Revelation the letter mentions.”
“Is that why The New Order needs Rigmor? Is she important to The Revelation?”
“I don’t know. The New Order tried very hard to kill us, Baa’Ren.”
“Khajiit thinks Aedriath had great faith in Dragonborn. That one assumed Dragonborn would make it to where his trap was with a live Rigmor in tow. Aedriath removed you and captured Rigmor. He is as devious as any foe I have encountered.”
“If they need Rigmor for some ritual, then let’s hope I have time to find her. If Aedriath wants to re-enact Ragnar’s fate with his daughter, as his journal suggests, I have more time to find and rescue her.”
“This one will need to travel to Cyrodiil immediately with these documents, so you must stay here and protect the women and child until my return.”
“I need to find Rigmor!”
“Dragonborn does not know where to start. Khajiit knows where to find that one if he remains here. This one thinks that makes sense.”
“Yes, you are right, and I am exhausted. Being dead for three days is not the rest my body needs.”
“Dragonborn must put aside guilt and think straight. Khajiit can see the guilt, so do not deny it.”
“One thing puzzles me, Bar’Ren. Why has Lady Azura taken such interest in Rigmor?”
“Maybe Azura has seen into Rigmor’s heart like Khajiit and Dragonborn?”
“You have shown to be a warrior as well as a diplomat. Is bard on your list of previous occupations?”
“Ask Rigmor when you find her. I was never allowed to sing lullabies.”
“Travel safely, Bar’Ren-Dar.”
“Take care of them, Dragonborn, if they find us here….”
“You know I will protect them with my life. I can, if need be, take everybody to the safety of one of my properties. However, you know where most of them are, so we must assume The New Order would also obtain that information.”
“Khajiit does not know where Wulf’s palace is.”
“There are many people there I do not want to risk by involving them. However, it is an option.”
We exited the tent. I then watched Bar’Ren-Dar run out of the compound like he was a quarter of his age. How old is he, anyway?
I quietly entered Angi’s hut. Sigunn was standing near the curtained entrance to the bedroom.
I whispered, “Is Sorella okay?”
Sigunn turned and replied, “She’s asleep. Don’t worry. She’ll be fine.”
“Do you want to discuss what is happening?”
We sat on chairs in front of the fire.
Sigunn stared at me, and the guilt surfaced.
I said, “I am sorry, Sigunn. I was overconfident and should not have pursued Aedriath without others to help.”
“Baa’Ren explained why it was important for Rigmor to confront Aedriath. It is what she wanted and needed to do, Wulf. Do not apologise for risking your life for Rigmor.”
“How are you, Sigunn?”
“Okay, I guess. It’s just weird, you know. After all that time, we are finally reunited. And now Rigmor is gone again. It is like a curse.”
“I will try my hardest to find Rigmor and bring her back, Sigunn.”
“Celestine never questioned your survival. She told me about how you find Rigmor when she needs you most. She was a fourteen-year-old girl in the hands of those monsters. It is the same, Wulf. Rigmor has been taken from me once more and is afraid. She is again in those monsters’ hands, and like last time, your love will help you find her.”
“We are a product of our upbringing. I can see you mirrored in Rigmor, Sigunn.”
Sigunn smiled, then said, “Rigmor was such a good little girl. She wanted to be a teacher one day, then a singer the next. I hardly recognised her, you know, at the prison. I feel guilty about that. How could I do such a thing?”
“I suspect that every day, over and over, you replayed conversations and other memories of Rigmor and Ragnar. The last time you saw Rigmor or heard her speak, she was fourteen, had her hair and was probably dressed in some finery. Fourteen is not exactly a little girl, but certainly not the woman you saw in that prison. She is now inches taller, bigger in certain places, and dressed in a suit of armour! But you did recognise her! You knew it was your little girl! Even if you said, ‘Who are you?’ and Rigmor had to tell you, it would have been a special moment!”
“I saw your face and tears and knew Rigmor had found love.”
“I knew how much Rigmor yearned to find you. Yes, the tears were from love, but also relief. I did not know how Rigmor would have reacted to your death or if they had hurt you.”
“You are right about replaying those memories. One special one is when Rigmor was about seven. Ragnar had made her a doll. It was just dowling for arms and legs with a sackcloth dress and string hair. But Rigmor’s face lit up with the biggest smile when Ragnar handed it to her. She wouldn’t go anywhere without it.”
I didn’t want to explain an unnamed god showing me a similar doll while I floated amongst the dead. If Sigunn saw the temporary shock on my face, she didn’t pursue it.
I coughed, then said, “I bet Rigmor valued that doll more than spoiled rich children value the bedrooms full of toys they have. It was a symbol of Ragnar’s love for his daughter. Please, tell me more about Rigmor.”
“Rigmor would play rough, tumble with the boys, and fight in the snow. They would throw snowballs at guards until they chased them off.”
“No wonder her hands started twitching when we walked through Windhelm!”
Sigunn laughed, and it was an echo of Rigmor’s. Ragnar never stood a chance!
“One day, the doll she called Jenny went missing. One of the boys told her a new neighbour, a Dark Elf girl, had stolen it. I took Rigmor to their house, and the girl’s father apologised and returned the doll. Rigmor saw the little girl hiding behind her father, crying. She handed the doll to the little Dark Elf girl and said, ‘Why don’t you keep it?’ then ran home. Ragnar made her another one, and the girls became inseparable.”
“What was the girl’s name?”
“LoonaShadow. Rigmor called her Loona for short.”
My traitorous eyes teared up. I quickly turned from Sigunn.
I waited a few seconds to compose myself, then faced Sigunn again and said, “That sounds like the Rigmor I know.”
Sigunn continued, “You were right, Wulf. Memories like that kept me alive. I knew that while I was alive, there was a chance that she was alive too. I knew a day could come when we would be together again.”
“Both you and Rigmor have such incredible strength. I am truly in awe.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar explained to me how he rescued her. I am forever in his debt.”
“Rigmor is a fighter. She has been on the brink of death several times and has been too stubborn to die. But people help her and quickly learn to love her. As you have seen with Sorella.”
“She didn’t deserve this, Wulf. She deserved a normal, happy life. Little girls grow up to be mothers. The gods have cursed my family and corrupted her innocence. How can she ever have a normal life now?”
“The Thalmor seeking revenge on Ragnar is not the fault of gods, Sigunn. They did not tell them to rip your family apart. The Nine have sacrificed much to create all you see and continue to do so. No little girl would have a normal life if it weren’t for them and people like me who aid them.”
“Celestine said you are Champion of The Divines.”
“Yes, I am, and I help them stop evil, such as The New Order. I have stopped Alduin, who wanted to enslave all the people of Nirn. But I can understand why you blame the gods. Not everybody gets the same insight as me.”
“Sometimes, I wanted just to give up. Get it over with and see my beloved Ragnar again. But I would always see that little girl playing, trying on dresses, or chasing the boys.”
“Were red dresses a favourite even then?”
“Yes, they were! She was wearing one when they came for us. I tried to hold onto her. She was crying when they wrenched her from me. She kicked and screamed, and I couldn’t do anything. I tried to reassure her. I told her everything would be alright and to go with them. I wanted to die.”
In my head, Rigmor’s voice cried out, “Dragonborn! No! No! Dragonborn help! No, please, leave him alone. You have me! Help me! Mercy!”
Sigunn saw my tears streaming and asked, “Wulf, what’s wrong?”
“Rigmor needs me, Sigunn, and I don’t know how to help her. The Nine gave me powers and blessings, and I couldn’t stop the monsters from taking her.”
“Please forgive me. I need to rest.”
I exited and then rushed past Angi. Meeko whined but did not immediately follow me into Rigmor’s tent.
I needed to sleep but did not need to sit on the chair, for there was no Rigmor to guard. I could not sleep on her bed, as Rigmor’s scent would not allow rest.
I lay on a musty bedroll and wept until Meeko lay beside me. His presence comforted me, and sleep soon took pity on me and hid me within its depths.
Just over eight hours later, I was woken by a loud knock on the frame of Rigmor’s tent and a frantic, “Wulf, wake up!” from Sigunn.
I stood and said, “Please enter, Sigunn.”
Sigunn entered and looked worried.
I asked, “What is the problem?”
“Sorella is missing! Angi has gone to look for her. Sorella took one of her bows. We think she might have gone to try and find Rigmor.”
“How did she sneak out?”
“We don’t know.”
“Okay, I will take Celestine with me. I will also take Meeko, who could track Sorella halfway across Tamriel. You will be safe here with my friends guarding the path. I can also hear a dragon nearby who will also guard you.”
“Yes, Vayu explained about the dragons.”
We exited Rigmor’s tent. Sigunn sat and watched, fascinated, as I summoned Celestine.
I told Celestine, “Sorella is missing. We think she is trying to find Rigmor. Angi is looking for her.”
“Oh. Well, let’s go find Sorella then!”
Meeko joined us as we rushed over to Vayu and the others.
- Vayu: Angi came past and called us rather unflattering names.
- Wulf: So, you know that Sorella is missing.
- Vayu: Yes, and that little girl managed to sneak past four Dragonguard.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Celestine: It doesn’t matter how she managed that. Meeko might be able to find her scent, and we need to move fast.
- Wulf: And no, Meeko, it was not your fault. You kept me company and had no reason to suspect Sorella would sneak off.
- Vayu: Nahfahlaar said there is a large contingent of Thalmor with trackers and Legionnaires in Falkreath. He will let us know if they come this way.
- Wulf: Don’t hesitate to summon another squad or two if need be.
- Vayu: What do we do if Legionnaires demand to pass us?
- Wulf: Tell them you protect civilians against rebels wearing Thalmor uniforms and turncoat Legionnaires. Tell them this was requested by His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Titus Mede II. Inform them that without orders from General Tullius, they cannot pass.
Celestine and I followed Meeko.
When we exited the trail leading to Angi’s, Meeko picked up Sorella’s scent.
We followed him at a running pace and soon came upon Angi. She was standing on a hill, calling Sorella’s name.
Meeko yipped, and Angi turned to face us.
- Wulf: Meeko has Sorella’s scent.
- Angi: That is good. Many caves and ruins are nearby. We could spend forever searching for her.
- Celestine: Have you been following her tracks?
- Angi: Yes, but she is light, and the footprints were shallow. The recent snowstorm has obscured them. This hill is as far as I got.
- Wulf: Come, time is of the essence.
Angi mounted her horse, and we followed Meeko to a forbidding and familiar fort.
Angi dismounted and followed us to the entrance.
- Wulf: I have been here before. This fort is The Bloodlet Throne, home to an unusual vampire clan.
- Angi: Oh my!
- Celestine: We shall take care of any vampires, Angi. It would be best if you didn’t get in front of Wulf.
- Wulf: I will use The Voice to kill vampires and their mortal guards. If you get in my way, my Thu’um could kill you.
- Celestine: Wulf is also immune to their Blood Magic, and they will waste time trying to harm him if he leads us.
- Angi: Why are you immune to Blood Magic?
- Wulf: I have Dragon Blood and a Dragon Soul.
- Angi: Ahh…
- Celestine: Accept Wulf’s weirdness, Angi.
- Angi: Okay, but you sound so sure you can kill vampires.
- Wulf: I killed dozens inside The Bloodlet Throne a few months ago. They have no chance against Celestine, Meeko, and me.
- Celestine: I will cast some protection spells on you, Angi. Use your bow and stay as far away from the enemy as possible.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Okay, Meeko, I know you are keen to find Sorella, but you know the rules. Please don’t get in front of me!
We opened the door and entered.
Leaving Angi in the dark was unfair, so I equipped my lantern.
I warned, “Beware of the trap on the floor.”
We were only a few steps in when we heard the high-pitched scream of a child.
“Sorella!” Angi called out, then tried to run toward the heart-breaking sound.
I restrained her and said, “Your only hope of survival is to stay with us. We will get to Sorella and slaughter anything that gets in our way. But I don’t want to lose you as well. Rigmor was enough!”
Angi nodded, and we proceeded with speed. My anger was great.
I allowed the first vampires we met to close in. They looked perturbed when their Blood Magic failed to harm me. I then killed them with Unrelenting Force.
Angi yelled, “Fuck!”
I explained, “I am sorry that startled you.”
“I heard The Voice last night, but it was different than that!”
“I used my Thu’um to amplify my voice last night. It is more jarring when I use it in a Shout, the magic of a Dragonborn.”
“I never thought I would witness such a thing. But won’t that tell the vampires where we are?”
“Not always. Can you hear the echoes? It is difficult to pinpoint The Voice, and many enemies ignore it.”
“I meet very few smart bad guys.”
As we approached a pair of gargoyles, I warned Angi, “Get ready.”
A gargoyle came to life and attacked. Angi once again yelled, “Fuck!”
I injured the gargoyle, which fell to its hands and knees.
I said, “This is for scaring Angi!” and then broke its neck with a kick to its head.
Angi asked, “What was that?”
“Why isn’t the other one attacking?”
“Sometimes, they are just statues.”
“I hate this place!”
We continued without pause. All enemies were killed quickly by Meeko and me. Angi didn’t have to use her bow, and Celestine’s Destruction spells were unnecessary.
We came to a raised portcullis. On the other side were Sorella and many wolves attacking a couple of vampires, who they quickly overwhelmed.
I pulled a chain to give us entry.
A vampire sitting on a throne demanded, “Who dares intrude? No matter, the fools will be the show’s next act.”
I ignored him and walked up to Sorella. Meeko stood next to her.
“Hi, Sorella. It seems your friends are keeping the bad guys away.”
“Yeah, they were supposed to eat me but didn’t.”
“Probably because you are smelly and need a bath. That is how Meeko found you!”
“Hey, that’s not true! I am a Wolf Friend, and that is why they didn’t eat me.”
“Yeah, your right. Now, you need to leave with Angi, Meeko and Celestine.”
“You won’t hurt the wolves, will you?”
“No, Sorella, they are your friends, so they are also mine.”
I approached Angi.
I told her, “Take Sorella home. Meeko and Celestine will protect you both.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Wipe out a nest of vampires.”
Angi said, “Come along, Sorella. Let’s get you home. And you are a bit pongy!”
Sorella whined, “Angi, I told you I would drown if you made me have a bath!”
“Okay, Meeko, you can stay with me and stop this vermin from following them.”
As Celestine, Angi and Sorella left, the vampire leader said, “How far do you think she will get? The Broodmother has chosen the child.”
“Did The Broodmother want a live child, or were you supposed to deliver her as wolf turds?”
That question stumped their leader and produced much murmuring amongst the others.
I continued, “Kyne and I, The Dragonborn, protect the child. She will get very far, and your Broodmother will die if she persists in hunting children.”
“You are weak and alone. Prepare to die, you fool!”
“Didn’t you hear the part about me being The Dragonborn? Who do you think wiped out this coven a few months ago? You are like cockroaches, and I will crush you every time you show up.”
Unrelenting Force destroyed many of those who had been watching the show. I don’t think they enjoyed this act much at all.
Dozens more appeared and leapt into the pit. Accompanying them were two Death Hounds.
Meeko and I were unharmed, but the wolves were killed by mages who didn’t enter the pit. I killed them with Unrelenting Force.
I then returned to the pit and searched the corpses and piles of ash. I found the following note on the leader, which I read to Meeko.
“To the Master of The Bloodlet Throne.
Word is a vengeful Redguard has discovered your coven. Be wary of strangers and keep the wolves loose. They will at least warn you of any impending danger. Do not underestimate this woman, for she is the mother of the girl who died when she fell into the pit.
She has on her person a cursed bow and a ring of protection. Do not touch these items! The bow is fused with the bones and ash of our brothers and sisters, and to touch it brings death. The ring will cause any vampire who wears it to descend into madness.
I don’t need to impress on you the importance of maintaining absolute secrecy in our activities and remember, I need them alive. Once or two more will suffice.
I said, “This note says they need one or two alive. I assume they meant children. The ‘Master of The Bloodlet Throne’ said that the Broodmother chose Sorella. So, as I asked earlier, was she supposed to be delivered in small, brown smelly piles of wolf turds? Perhaps this ‘Master of The Bloodlet Throne’ couldn’t resist some entertainment.”
“No, I don’t think this is the only coven. As with the last time I visited, the vampires are of mixed types. Cyrodiilic and Volkihar mainly. That suggests M.S. is recruiting vampires outside of Skyrim’s borders.”
Meeko and I proceeded to hunt for more vampires.
We soon came across the body of a Redguard woman dressed in Alik’r attire.
“Yes, this is the Redguard woman mentioned in the letter. It seems they used wolves to kill her. I don’t think she was a member of the Ash’abah tribe but a mother searching for her daughter.”
“Hunting undead of any sort makes you a pariah in Redguard society. They have a tribe, the Ash’abah, who deal with the undead. They do this for all Redguards and are shunned for their service.”
“Unfortunately, Vayu and Rayya would be shunned for helping us kill the undead.”
I searched the body and found her vampire-hunting bow, Ring of Mind Protection, and a journal.
The dweomer on the ring was protection against mind attacks. Similar to how I protect myself but useable by those not trained in such things.
I told Meeko, “Her name is Nemiel Flarnta. The journal is in Tamrielic, with a few Yokudan words sprinkled throughout. It says…”
“The Calling invades our children’s dreams. In a stupor of nightmares, they disappear into the night. Hammerfell has cried rivers of tears for the lost. One day you wake up to find they are gone. That is what happened to Xenia.
I have made it my life’s work to search, hoping I might find her and hunt down the monsters responsible. The Vampires take the little ones into the depths of Hammerfell. I will find them, and I will bring them death.
My bow will burn them and cleanse their evil souls in the hellfire, and my silver arrows will drive into their black hearts. Xenia’s Wrath shall never rest until the last demon is nought but a pile of ash.
My ring will keep them from my dreams and protect me from their sorcery. Finding Xenia’s necklace will let me know. I cannot rest until I find it, so I continue the hunt.
I have tracked them down to their lair, The Bloodlet Throne. Here is the coven of witch devils infesting Hammerfell. Here is where they operate at the behest of their masters.
Here is where they will meet their death and forever burn in the fires of Oblivion.
I have found their place of abomination, their table, and I am close to their resting place. I can feel it in my bones.
Once the job is done and I have found you, we will be reunited.
Not long now, Xenia, not long now, my love.”
I said over the body, “If I find Xenia’s necklace, Nemiel, I will bring it to you. It will confirm she was here, but she died accidentally and that they did not corrupt her soul.”
“Yes, there is at least one other coven in Hammerfell. I wonder how long Xenia’s mother had pursued the vampires. How many years had they been gathering children via The Calling? How many children never made it to the Broodmother as they fell victim to the many dangers of travel?”
“I have no idea why they want children. Perhaps they are turning them, but that can be done here, so why send them to Hammerfell to be turned? We don’t know enough, Meeko.”
Xenia’s Bow had a strong dweomer that caused extra damage to vampires. It had another dweomer that would kill most vampires that touched it. I placed it into my Journal Case along with a quiver of silver arrows.
I told Meeko, “There is a badly hidden secret door. I assume we will find more vampires in that area of The Bloodlet Throne.”
A barred door led to another section of The Bloodlet Throne.
Behind a fluttering tapestry was a cupboard with a false back.
“Yes, Meeko, an empty wardrobe in a small alcove is suspicious. These are not the brightest vampires I have encountered.”
The false back of the wardrobe led to the main living quarters of the vampires.
As with my last visit, corpses were in a pit.
We came upon a gathering of vampires, and I contemplated how to dispose of them.
I used a Cyclone Shout, followed by Fireballs.
Meeko and I then leapt down and disposed of other vampires attracted by the noise.
“Yes, it has been some time since we hunted together. You are enjoying this.”
“They might taste yucky, but are they as bad as Draugr?”
“You are wrong, and there are things that taste worse than Draugr. What about Lydia’s Apple Cabbage Stew?”
Meeko started to gag.
I laughed and said, “Thank you for helping me sleep and keep positive.”
“I will find Rigmor, but not if we stand around lollygagging. First, we must find Xenia’s necklace so that she may guide her mother to their afterlife. We have killed all the vampires, so let us search for it carefully.”
About half an hour later, I found a necklace on top of a set of drawers. Upon its back was writing in Yokudan. It is a language I have not learnt fully, but I assumed it was Xenia’s.
I held it up and said to Meeko, “Let’s take this to Nemiel and see if it is what her soul seeks.”
We made our way to Nemiel, and I held out the amulet as I approached her.
Meeko barked, and near him stood Xenia’s spirit.
Nemiel’s spirit appeared and approached her daughter.
They embraced, and then Xenia waved to Meeko. He barked, and she smiled.
Mother and daughter walked towards a barred exit, then turned and waited for me to approach.
I stood before them.
Nemiel said, “Valdr, your mother fights for the victims of The Calling.”
Xenia added, “I am helping Perrif and the children. I am not trapped like the others. Thank you for helping us, Valdr.”
The only other person I have heard call my mother Perrif is Father. Before I could ask any questions, Xenia waved goodbye.
And then the spirits vanished.
I asked Meeko, “Did Xenia recognise what you are?”
Meeko just stared at me with that idiot grin that endears him to all. He wouldn’t answer me, for he refuses to discuss his origin.
We went outside, and then I teleported to Vayu’s camp. He was not there.
Nahfahlaar flew overhead and said via telepathy, “There is a platoon-sized group of Thalmor and lackeys approaching the trail to Angi’s. They have dogs and trackers with them. Vayu is waiting for them at the end of the trail. They will arrive soon.”
“Do not attack them until they attack us. Then you can fry them, barbeque them, bite them in half, and stomp on them.”
I approached Vayu and his squad.
- Vayu: Celestine returned with Angi and Sorella. She said you and Meeko were eliminating the vampires.
- Wulf: They are all dead, but there is more to these vampires than a single coven. I will tell you about it soon. First, I must ensure Sorella is protected from them.
- Meeko: Woof?
- Vayu: Yes, Meeko, we discovered how an eight-year-old girl managed to sneak away. She is quite an adept climber and scaled the slope surrounding Angi’s camp. Valminoor was watching the main roads and did not notice her and you were snoring next to Wulf. That is how Sorella escaped.
- Wulf: Delay the hunting party. We do not know if they are New Order or Thalmor.
- Vayu: I bet I can separate them. The tracker and his dogs will be the first to arrive.
- Wulf: Do as you wish, but let them attack first. Meeko, Sorella will need your company and protection.
Sigunn was standing outside Angi’s hut.
I asked, “Sigunn, how is Sorella?”
“Angi is with her. The little girl is terrified! Poor thing.”
“Is she hearing voices?”
“Yes, terrible voices inside her head.”
“I have something that will help her.”
“Thank the gods!”
“Please, follow me in for a minute.”
We entered the hut. Sorella and Angi were sitting before the fire.
I asked, “Angi, can I please sit and talk with Sorella?”
“Oh, certainly. I will make myself busy elsewhere.”
“Please join Sigunn for a minute. Sorella, I will be with you soon.”
I stood before the ladies.
- Wulf: Nahfahlaar said that some Thalmor and trackers are heading this way.
- Sigunn: Oh my! What will we do?
- Wulf: We don’t know if they are Thalmor or New Order. Either way, unless they have orders signed by General Tullius, they will not get near this cabin.
- Angi: I shall shoot the bastards in the head!
- Wulf: They won’t get close enough. We will not attack them unless they attack us, nor will we allow them to approach.
- Sigunn: How many are there?
- Wulf: A platoon, so two or three dozen. Don’t worry, Sigunn. They could send hundreds, and still, they would not get close to you or Sorella.
- Angi: Well, I will stand with my bow knocked whether or not you think they will get close.
- Wulf: Angi, please, keep your distance. There is no need for you to risk your life. Now, I need to speak to Sorella before they arrive.
Angi and Sigunn left the hut, and I sat next to Sorella. Meeko lay on the floor behind the child.
I told her, “Sorella, you are the bravest little girl I have ever met!”
“I’m sorry. I just wanted to find Rigmor.”
“I know you did. That is the sort of thing you do for the people you love. And everybody loves Rigmor.”
“I know you do. Lots!”
“And that is why I will try hard to find Rigmor and bring her back to her friends and family.”
“I don’t hate you, Wulf.”
“Sometimes we say things we don’t mean when upset and angry. I understand, Sorella, so please, do not worry about that.”
“That was brave of you to climb the cliff.”
“It was easy with many hand and foot holds.”
“Are you feeling alright?”
“Yeah, I think so. Will the bad guys come to hurt me?”
“None of the ones there will ever hurt anybody ever again.”
“I won’t run away again, I promise.”
“Nobody is mad at you, Sorella. We were just worried.”
“Like I was worried about Rigmor?”
“Exactly. Now we must talk about what happened in that horrible place.”
“Did you walk into that place thinking Rigmor was in there?”
“A nice woman saw me walking near there and asked what I was doing. She said Rigmor was hurt and recovering inside a nearby fort. I believed her, but she was a vampire’s thrall. That’s what Celestine said the mortals who work with vampires are called.”
“Some of the thralls are volunteers, but many are enthralled. That means magic was used to enslave them and make them obey. I want to be able to distinguish between the two, but I can’t, so I have to kill all of them when attacked.”
“You don’t like killing things. Meeko told me that.”
“I don’t like it but have to so innocent people like you can live a happy and normal life.”
“Like a soldier.”
“Yes, like a soldier. Were you surprised the wolves didn’t hurt you in the pit?”
“No, because you and Meeko explained what being a Wolf Friend means.”
“What happened when the wolves didn’t attack you?”
“The bad guys got angry at the wolves, and the wolves got angry at the bad guys. Two bad guys jumped into the pit and hit the wolves to make them attack me. The wolves killed them, and I screamed because it was horrible.”
“We heard your scream. That was some time before we found you.”
“The bad guys were arguing about what they should do. Some wanted to send me to something called The Broodmother. The bossiest bad guy said he wanted some entertainment. When he won the argument, he pushed two of those who argued with him into the pit. The wolves soon killed them.”
“Meeko followed your scent. We might still be looking for you if he hadn’t.”
“When you were talking to Angi and Sigunn, Meeko said he would not leave me alone until he knows I am safe.”
“He helped me last night when I was very sad.”
“He isn’t just a dog, is he?”
“No, he is a gift from my gods, The Divines or, as some call them, The Nine. I am not sure what he is. He has been my friend since I was younger than you.”
“That is so cool!”
“Are you hearing voices in your head, Sorella?”
“Yes. The voices keep talking and asking me to go somewhere far away.”
“Do you know where the place is they want you to go?”
“No, they will give me directions as I travel.”
“That is what those bad guys do. They talk to children in their heads. Eventually, each child gets tired of the voices and does as they ask. They will not come to get you. They will wait for you to go to them.”
“I am scared of them, Wulf!”
“I am going to give you a very special ring. You are to wear it all the time and never take it off. It will stop those scary voices asking you to go to them. You must wear the ring even when you have a bath, sleep, or at any time. Can you promise me you will never take it off?”
“I will explain the ring to Angi, so she knows its importance.”
I gave Sorella Xenia’s ring, and she slipped it on. A smile of relief crossed her face. Children should only ever have to smile and laugh.
Sorella asked, “Do you want to know something really cool?”
“When Baa’Ren came to tell us about you and Rigmor, a big Nord warrior was with him.”
“Yeah. And when Yngol saw Angi, he got a funny look on his face. And when Angi saw him, she had a funny look. They talked lots, and Yngol promised to visit again when he can.”
“Rigmor’s father, Ragnar, was one of Yngol’s closest friends. They fought together in many battles. I am sure he was very sad about Rigmor, and I am glad Angi helped him with that sadness.”
“When I asked Angi about him, she turned bright red and told me to collect some firewood, even though we had plenty inside already.”
“Angi probably has a lot of feelings to sort through before she is ready to speak about it.”
“That is what Meeko said.”
“Don’t share gossip with Meeko! He can’t keep secrets.”
“Well, you can’t!”
I heard Nahfahlaar’s wingbeats approaching. He hovered briefly and said telepathically, “Wulf, the Thalmor have arrived. We know they are New Order as they have no orders from the Dominion Embassy or a senior member of the Imperial Army. A Dunmer is approaching the hut. Vayu let him through.”
I told Sorella, “Some bad guys are at the end of the path. Meeko will stay here and guard you. Don’t be afraid. They can’t reach you.”
“Are they vampires?”
“That is a good idea, Meeko. I am sure Sorella will love to play I Spy with you.”
Sorella laughed and said, “Okay, Meeko, but make it harder than last time.”
I think Meeko deserved to be a saint. Perhaps Father can put it to the other Divines.
As I exited, Sigunn joined Sorella and Meeko.
I approached Tendril and said, “Why did Vayu let you pass? The last thing I need at the moment is bullshit mumbo jumbo!”
“I have important information, Dragonborn. Celestine told Vayu about the annoying Azura follower so he knew who I was.”
“Well, whatever the information is, it will have to wait till I take care of other visitors.”
When I approached Angi, she turned with a worried look.
I used Zoom Vision to see what was happening. Vayu let the tracker and his dogs through but stopped others from following. The tracker was not brave enough to approach by himself.
I told Angi, “That is an Imperial Tracker with his hounds.”
“There’s only one of them. I bet I could take him out from here with my bow.”
“There is a platoon with him, but Vayu and his squad are not letting them pass. Plus, I will not attack until they do.”
“We could stand here for hours!”
“No, Angi. Those idiots will think they outnumber The Dragonguard and have the advantage. They will soon attack.”
“What about the dragon?”
“They don’t know he is our ally. He speaks to us telepathically.”
“Here, Angi, take this bow. It is called Xenia’s Wrath and is deadly to vampires.”
I handed Angi the bow and silver arrows.
“I shall teach Sorella how to use it.”
Just then, the sound of battle reached us.
I warned, “Block your ears, Angi.”
Angi quickly did as advised.
Unrelenting Force travelled quickly to the tracker. He and his hounds died.
I blinked halfway to the skirmish as I knew what was next.
Nahfahlaar roasted the enemy. Their screams were loud but brief.
My friends cut down any enemy that took too long to die.
A Bosmer archer missed the roasting.
I rushed her and then sent her head rolling.
As I did so, Nahfahlaar sent down another blast of Dragonfire.
Vayu yelled, “You stupid scaled moron. They were already dead!”
Nahfahlaar laughed, then replied, “I thought you looked a bit cold. You should thank me for providing an abundance of warmth.”
The dweomer I placed on my friends’ armours ensured they didn’t burn to death, but Dragonfire hurts, and Nahfahlaar knew it.
I noticed Tendril had summoned a Flame Atronach. It didn’t make it halfway to the skirmish before it was over.
I searched the smouldering corpses and recovered a slightly singed order which I read angrily to the group.
“Captain, New Order Security Squad.
It has come to my attention that that accursed Rigmor and her Guardian were given haven at some worthless Huntress camp South of Falkreath. Now that the Guardian is dead and Rigmor is in captivity, we must eliminate loose ends.
Take some trackers and a detachment of my troops, find this camp, and burn it. Execute anyone you find there. Leave no stone unturned.
General Tilar Aedriath.”
There was no need for words, for the anger in my voice was reflected on my face.
I growled, “Leave them for the Skeevers.”
Nahfahlaar hovered and said, “There are just as many left in Falkreath.”
“Then I shall visit and eliminate them.”
Nahfahlaar flew away to continue guarding Angi’s camp.
I approached Tendril, and my anger must have been evident. He said, “Lady Azura assures me you are nice, sane, and not overly violent towards allies. So, I will assume your anger is directed elsewhere.”
I handed him the order from Aedriath. He quickly read it and then handed it back.
I said, “If Azura has spoken to you, then you must know that rescuing Rigmor is more than a little important to me.”
“Yes, Azura mentioned how you and Rigmor feel for each other. She says it is a special bond. She has never seen such commitment before and is a god!”
“Believe me, Tendril, there are many things the gods have never seen. Now, tell me why you are here. I warn you that if you dare say, ‘All will be revealed,’ I will punch you!”
“Not all will be revealed, but some.”
“Let us start with the important information. Do you know where Rigmor is?”
“Not exactly, but I know a man who does.”
“Tell me what you know.”
“Rigmor is being kept at the same location as an Oblivion Gate. Azura can sense Rigmor is safe at the moment.”
“Do not pass on Azura’s lies and expect me to remain silent, Tendril. To know the health of Rigmor, she would have to sense her soul. To sense her soul, Azura would have to know where she is. However, the assumption that Rigmor is in the same location as the Oblivion Gate is valid, as that is logical, not mystical.”
“Plus, the term ‘safe’ is meaningless. Safe from rabid skeevers? Safe from the temptation of Sweet Rolls? She is in the hands of her worst nightmares, which is far from safe!”
Tendril showed no reaction to my dismissal of Azura’s crap.
He continued, “Lady Azura said some New Order soldiers are searching the massive evacuation site in Markarth.”
“Well, that is a waste of time. The Dwemer artefact market is flooded! But there are many large excavation sites in Markarth, so a bit of a narrower clue would be appreciated.”
“My Mistress did not know what they were looking for.”
“I will file that information in the useless pile for now.”
“Azura mentioned you were dead for three days.”
“Well, technically, I was alive since my soul did not completely leave my body, thanks to Lady Azura. In The Void, I used my love for Rigmor to empower my will. My willpower, in turn, enabled me to re-enter my body. But I was close enough to dead as it makes little difference.”
“Does the name Jonte Malesam ring a bell?”
“Seer and Mage to Tilar Aedriath. He is another New Order lackey who needs killing.”
“He got cold feet when The New Order desecrated Azura’s Shrine…filthy dogs! So, he legged it and is now in hiding.”
“Is he a source of useful information? That would make a change.”
“Yes, but he won’t spill the beans to me. He says he will only speak to you.”
“Are you for real? You’re the talk of every Stormcloak and Empire camp in Skyrim. I wonder why that is?”
“I am the Nord hero of song and prophecy called The Dragonborn. I very recently saved everybody from Alduin. Walk into any tavern or inn, and you will find I am the talk of every citizen.”
“Storm-Blade and Varon were disciplined because all-night drinking parties were held in your and Rigmor’s name.”
“They were not told we were dead.”
“Yes, but everyone assumes you’re dead, including The New Order. But you don’t roll through Diamond Ridge without it getting noticed.”
“Noticed by who, Tendril? Very few people knew of the place, so who would notice? And I didn’t roll through it. I died!”
“Well, they’re so rattled they even sent people to ‘mop up’ a Huntress and some orphan kid out here in the arse end of the world.”
“That has zero to do with being rattled. Aedriath is simply getting rid of loose ends that may come back to bite him on the bum! I bet Malesam wants to meet me in some dim, dark cave miles from pesky guards and patrols. Am I right?”
“Well, Malesam knows you are alive.”
“Seer was part of his title. I bet he is also a disciple of some Daedric Prince. It is so easy to get promoted when people think you have foresight.”
“Ahh, so that is why he would know where the Portal Gate, I mean Oblivion Gate is. Find that Dragonborn and you’ll find Rigmor.”
“You are so much like your Mistress and use many superfluous words to make sentences that sometimes make sense. But I have to dig to get the information amongst the refuse. Please, mark on my map this ‘secret location’ where I am to meet Malesam.”
Sethri marked my map, and then I had a look and laughed, “Boulderfall Cave. It is a dim, dark cave miles from pesky guards and patrols! I must be a seer! How much is the pay?”
“You’ll need to convince your newfound family to find greener pastures if I were you.”
“I started thinking about that as soon as this lot appeared. My properties in the cities are not ideal, as snitches already watch them. The same with my country properties. I have a secure place only reachable by a portal, but I do not want to compromise it if another option is available.”
“As it happens, I got an old farm where they can stay. It’s a bit derelict, but they could get it in ship-shape in no time.”
“Where is this mansion?”
“Just outside Riften. That kid probably hasn’t seen a summer, a proper tree, or a spring flower. Or even another kid. Ever thought about that one?”
“You have a good heart, Tendril, and I appreciate your help. I think about every child I see. That is why I own several orphanages. I just rescued Sorella from vampires who prey on children. If I could drop everything else right now, I would spend my time hunting them down and wiping them out!”
“For Rigmor’s sake and your own, just do what is needed to get her back.”
“Here is my map once more. Please mark the location of your farm.”
Sethri did that and handed my map back to me. I looked at it and said, “Well, it is not far from Boulderfall Cave. It is Stormcloak territory, so Thalmor, even fake ones who call themselves The New Order, would find it difficult to approach. Angi and the others will be teleported to your farm. I cannot afford the time needed to escort them there by horse or carriage. Also, many snitches are looking for Rigmor and me. As soon as we come off this mountain, the enemy would know within hours and soon find your farm. I have many enemies, Tendril.”
“Other than The New Order?”
“I am Champion of The Divines. Do you think that makes me popular with some Daedric Princes? I eliminate criminals, vampire covens and other undesirables. That doesn’t endear me to some people.”
“Do you have assassins after you?”
“Many have tried to claim a bounty and died. Baa’Ren-Dar will need to know where we are.”
“Leave that old Khajiiti up to me.”
“Thank you, Tendril. I will get these people settled on your farm as quickly as possible. Then I will meet this Malesam. He was working with the enemy and had better have a good excuse!”
“We are all counting on you to get Rigmor out of wherever she is alive.”
“Believe me, Tendril, nobody is more capable or would try harder than me.”
“That I can believe, and without Azura telling me.”
“Has she told you I am her Guardian?”
“Yep. But Lady Azura is not the only Daedric Prince to claim me.”
Sethri laughed, handed me a key, and then ran off. I went to tackle Angi.
I walked into Angi’s hut.
I whispered to Sigunn, “Sigunn, we killed that lot, but The New Order know where we are. We have to leave here before they send more. They want to wipe out anybody who might know their plans, including Sorella.”
“I don’t think Angi is going to like this. If she stays, so will Sorella.”
“I am not going to leave Sorella here. Therefore, Angi will listen if she wants to be with her.”
“Where will we go?”
“There is a farm located near Riften. No Thalmor or New Order troops will dare show their faces in The Rift.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Ask Angi and Sorella to come here, and we will explain the situation. Angi might listen to you and will unlikely put an arrow in your head.”
Sigunn laughed, then said, “Okay! I will try to talk sense into her.”
Sigunn quickly gathered Angi and Sorella.
- Sigunn: Today, we were attacked and got lucky, but Wulf says more will come.
- Angi: Lucky? I didn’t even get a shot in before all the enemies were killed!
- Sigunn: The enemy is trying to cover its tracks, so we must leave here and move elsewhere.
- Angi: Nah! This place is my home now. Let them come. I am staying!
- Sorella: Yeah! If any bad guys come, we will put arrows in their heads.
- Wulf: There are more troops in Falkreath. They will be sent, and if they fail, more will come. Why should my friends and I risk our lives for stubborn pride?
- Sigunn: There is a farm located in The Rift. We will all be safe there. Angi, you and Sorella are in grave danger here, and they won’t stop until…
- Angi: I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I am staying here, and so is Sorella.
- Wulf: Well, that is too bad because we are moving and you will discuss it! I am Thane of this Hold, and you do not yet have legal guardianship of Sorella. I will not allow a child’s life to be endangered because of pure stubbornness and stupidity! Please do not make me take her away from you, Angi. This place will still be here after we defeat the New Order.
- Angi: Gah!
- Sigunn: Angi, listen to Wulf. It is our only chance, and he has to go and find Rigmor.
- Wulf: As I said, Angi, we are moving, and I do not have time to argue over your only choice!
- Angi: So where are we supposed to go?
- Wulf: As Sigunn said, it is a farm in The Rift, not far from Riften. It is one of the safest places if The New Order invades. It will be safe from Thalmor and New Order patrols and hunting parties.
- Angi: Okay, but it is only temporary until all this is over. I’ll gather some things, secure the old place, and prepare for the journey.
- Wulf: Wise choice.
- Angi: Wulf, could you do something for me?
- Wulf: Rigmor is in danger, and I do not have time for frivolous favours.
- Angi: I promised Sorella I would get her a pony. She will need one for the trip. Mathias in Falkreath has one he is trying to sell.
- Wulf: Sorella, do you know how to ride a horse?
- Sorella: No.
- Wulf: If I get the pony, will you spend time learning to ride while at the farm?
- Sorella: Yes. I have always wanted a horse.
- Wulf: Angi, we will not be travelling by horse. But I planned on visiting Falkreath before we left, so tell me where I will find Mathias.
- Angi: He spends most of his spare time drinking in ‘Dead Man’s Drink.’
- Wulf: Okay, I will see a man about a horse, and you can pack everything up.
- Angi: As I said, I will board this place up, pack Rigmor’s tent and make sure Sorella is prepared.
- Sigunn: How will we get to the farm if not on horseback?
- Wulf: I will ensure guards are in place at the farm and teleport you there.
- Sorella: What’s teleport?
- Wulf: I cast a spell, and you will travel from here to the farm within seconds.
- Sorella: Cool!
- Angi: No way!
- Wulf: It will happen that way, Angi, as it will save me hours and avoid detection. I can use the time saved to find and rescue Rigmor. Of course, you could fly on a dragon’s back instead.
Angi went pale at that suggestion while Sorella and Sigunn laughed.
I exited Angi’s hut and summoned Celestine, Iona, Lydia, and Jordis.
As we warmed ourselves around the fire, I handed the order from Aedriath to Celestine. It soon did the rounds and returned to me.
- Wulf: I have decided to relocate Angi, Sigunn and Sorella to a farm near Riften. It belongs to Tendril Sethri.
- Celestine: That mumbo-jumbo-speaking devotee of Azura?
- Wulf: Yes. I trust him and think they should stay at a place not associated with me.
- Lydia: That makes sense since all your properties are probably watched constantly.
- Iona: Why not take them to Aurane?
- Wulf: I don’t think Angi would be comfortable there.
- Celestine: And you don’t want to risk the security of Aurane.
- Wulf: Correct. If The New Order proves to be more resilient than I expect and is a problem for some time, they may come looking for where I live. If their patron is a Daedric Prince, the chance of Aurane being discovered increases.
- Iona: Do you want us to be the guards there?
- Wulf: Yes. It is Stormcloak territory, so the chances of another ‘New Order Security Squad’ appearing is slim. There are some large bandit groups around that area, but nothing you four and a dragon can’t handle.
- Celestine: What is the plan?
- Wulf: First, we will visit Falkreath as Nahfahlaar says more New Order troops are there. Plus, I am going to buy Sorella a pony.
- Celestine: Are they riding to the farm?
- Wulf: No, I will teleport them. But after the trauma of the vampires, learning to ride on the farm will be a good distraction for Sorella. There is somebody that Angi knows who is selling a suitable mount.
- Celestine: Okay, Falkreath to kill scum and buy a pony. Then what?
- Wulf: We bring the pony back here. Hashire can teleport the horses to the farm. However, we must find our way to the farm first. Therefore, we shall teleport to Riften and walk to the farm. Once there, you four can prepare a camp, and I will summon the ladies.
- Celestine: Can you summon Sigunn? You hardly know her.
- Wulf: She resembles Rigmor so much, I should not have a problem.
- Jordis: At least the farm will be warmer than here!
- Wulf: It is next to the river, and that area is quite picturesque.
- Celestine: Do you know where Rigmor is?
- Wulf: Nope, but near the farm is a cave where an informant waits. I will stop by the farm if there is information that I think you should know.
- Celestine: You are going to meet this informant by yourself?
- Wulf: Yes, Celestine. Just because I fucked up and let Rigmor get captured doesn’t mean I am incompetent!
- Celestine: That is not what…
- Wulf: Sorry! I am genuinely sorry. I am not myself.
- Celestine: That is evident, my dear friend.
- Wulf: Come on, Rigmor is waiting, alone in the dark.
We teleported to the entrance of Falkreath and surprised half a dozen guards.
One said, “Oh, it is you, Lord Welkynd, ahh, Dragonborn…oh, I meant to say Thane Welkynd.”
“Why are you all standing outside in the cold? Is there a problem that needs so many guards at one gate?”
“The other gates are just as crowded. Some of us are not on duty, but the inn contains Thalmor and Imperial arse lickers. I greatly respect Legionnaires, but the lot in there are scum.”
“You would rather stand in the cold with your fellow guards?”
“Do you fear violence if you visit the inn?”
“It would be inevitable. But our Jarl is too beholden to his Imperial masters to kick them out.”
“We are quite thirsty, so I think a visit to Dead Man’s Drink is in order.”
“Well, enjoy your drinks, Thane and ladies.”
“Be prepared to remove several bodies. We don’t want people slipping on the blood.”
“They are traitors to The Empire and The Dominion.”
“A group of them left Falkreath a few hours ago. Can we expect them to return any time soon?”
I turned to my friends and said, “We shall not start a fight, and I will give them a chance to surrender. But spread out and be prepared to end trouble swiftly if it starts.”
We entered Dead Man’s Drink, and I quickly scanned the room.
It was telling that two New Order officers sat whilst a Legion Captain stood behind them like a servant.
A few New Order troops and turncoat Legionnaires were spread around the room.
As I approached the bar, three Legionnaires were hassling any female of any race that caught their eye. They were crude, unfunny and a disgrace to their uniform. Although I would have liked to punch their lights out, I had more important things to do.
Bard Delacourt recognised me, waved, and then sang “Tale of The Tongues.”
- Alduin’s wings, they did darken the sky.
- His roar, fury’s fire and his scales sharpened scythes.
- Men ran, and they cowered, and they fought, and they died.
- They burned, and they bled as they issued their cries.
- Dovahkiin Dovahkiin naal ok zin los vahriin
- Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal
- Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan
- Dovahkiin fah hin kogaan mu draal
- We need saviours to free us from Alduin’s rage.
- Heroes on the field of this new war to wage.
- And if Alduin wins, mortals are gone from this world.
- Lost in the shadow of the black wings unfurled.
- But then came The Tongues on that terrible day.
- Steadfast as winter, they entered the fray.
- And all heard the music of Alduin’s doom.
- The sweet song of Skyrim, sky-shattering Thu’um.
- And so, the Tongues freed us from Alduin’s rage.
- Gave the gift of the Voice, ushered in a new Age.
- If Alduin is eternal, then eternity’s done.
- For his story is over, and the dragons… are gone.
- And so, the Tongues freed us from Alduin’s rage.
- Gave the gift of the Voice, ushered in a new Age.
- If Alduin is eternal, then eternity’s done.
- For his story is over, and the dragons… are gone.
Valga greeted me, “Lord Welkynd, it is an honour to have you visit my inn. Can I get you a drink?”
“Maybe later, Innkeeper Valga. I am looking for Mathias. Is he here, perchance?”
“He is sitting to your right. I think his arse is nailed to that stool.”
There were three mugs in front of Mathias. Two were empty, and he was consuming a third full of mead at an impressive rate.
I sat down and hoped Mathias was sober enough to discuss the pony. The wary look he gave me wasn’t promising.
“Good evening, Mathias.”
“Well met, Thane. Have you come to wet a parched throat?”
“I am here on business. I have a small child and want a suitable mount for her.”
“Well, you’ve come to the right place. My brother recently brought his young daughter a pony. But before my niece knew about it, she fell gravely ill. She cannot ride any horse for quite some time, so my brother has decided to sell it. Any money will help him and his wife, Indara, pay for my niece’s medication.”
I brought out my gem bag and found a good-sized emerald worth at least five hundred septims. Way more than the pony is worth.
“Will this do? It is worth at least five hundred septims if you sell it to one of the Khajiiti caravans.”
“There is one that parks just outside the front gates, but that is far more than the pony is worth.”
“I didn’t hear that last part properly. I thought you said, ‘You are robbing us blind only offering five hundred septims for that fine mount. But I will take it, you evil bastard!’”
“Yeah, right. That is what I said!”
“It is a deal then. Can you take me to it?”
“Sure, follow me. It is just around the corner at the back of the tavern.”
“Wait and finish your mead. Do you mind answering some questions for me in the meantime?”
“Sure. What do you want to know?”
“What is with all the Thalmor and Imperials?”
“The Imperials are a bunch of drunks on leave. They think they are above the law! They’ve been drinking all day, bragging, and hassling the womenfolk.”
“I know some excellent people in the Legion. That lot is a disgrace to the uniform!”
“The Thalmor are Special Squad Officers. There should be five of them, but one has gone into the mountains. He took a detachment of troops to deal with some terrorists.”
“Terrorists? That is amusing.”
“I hope the one who went up the mountains returns soon. Once they leave, Falkreath can get back to normal. It feels kind of edgy with all these soldiers here. Like a tinderbox ready to explode.”
‘He and those travelling with him won’t return, Mathias.”
“Oh. Is that tinderbox about to go up in flames?”
“If they are foolish, yes. It might be a good idea for you to lead me to the pony and remove yourself from danger.”
“Sure, follow me.”
The three loudmouths decided Lydia was female and, therefore, a fair target.
The lead drunk said, “Nice armour, but I bet you look better without it.”
Lydia stared at him and replied, “I do, but I like to know my lover’s name before peeling it away.”
“Oh, I am Hreidur Flat-Beard. Sergeant Hreidur Flat-Beard.”
“If you speak to me again, Sergeant Hreidur Flat-Beard, I shall knock you out. The next time you see your teeth, they will be inside one of your turds.”
Lydia’s stare spoke of instant and great violence, and Hreider wisely shut his mouth. Lydia ignored him and seemingly returned to enjoying the music and a good mead. I knew she was fully alert and ready for action.
Desperately looking for some way to save face, Hreidur picked Mathias as his next target.
- Hreidur: Hey, you! I don’t suppose you know where the mountain girl is that they’re looking for? Me and the boys want to get re-acquainted. Hahaha!
- Drunk 2: Hell yeah! Put up one hell of a fight. Lucky for her, she got away. Hahaha!
- Mathias: I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re on about. Mountain girl?
- Hreidur: Yeah, you do! The crazy lady who lives in the mountains harbouring those terrorists.
- Drunk 3: Had a bit of fun with her back in Helgen a couple of years ago, didn’t we, boys?
- Hreidur: I’ve still got her necklace as a souvenir.
Lydia hissed, so I quickly intervened and placed my arm on hers. She looked at me and whispered, “Angi?” I nodded my head.
Sensing trouble, Jordis positioned herself behind the drunks.
Hreidur looked at me and then asked, “I don’t suppose you know anything about her, friend?”
I replied, “You are not my friend. But yes, I know of her. I heard Imperial drunks murdered her family.”
“Yeah, well, she was resisting arrest, and they got in the way.”
I leaned forward, then whispered into Hreidur’s ear, “Don’t you mean they refused to stand by and watch her get raped by a pack of degenerate morons. We protect Angi and those with her. We killed the first squad sent to murder her and a little girl.”
Hreidur stood with his mouth opening and closing like a landed fish.
The inn had gone quiet as the patrons sensed the tension rise. All eyes turned towards Hreidur and me.
The Imperial Captain yelled, “By the Eight. That is Rigmor’s Guardian!”
I used my Thu’um, and the inn shook.
“I AM THE DRAGONBORN AND CHAMPION OF THE NINE DIVINES. WE GUARD ANGI, SIGUNN AND A LITTLE GIRL NAMED SORELLA. RIGMOR AND ME RESCUED SORELLA FROM THE DOMINION TRAITORS YOU HAVE JOINED. THEY WERE GOING TO KILL SORELLA BACK THEN. THEY TORTURED HER PARENTS TO DEATH. THEY WERE GOING TO KILL HER EARLIER WHEN THEY ATTACKED ANGI’S CAMP. AN INNOCENT, SWEET EIGHT-YEAR-OLD GIRL! YOU ARE A TRAITOR, AS ARE THESE THREE COWARDS. THEY RAPED A YOUNG WOMAN AND KILLED HER FAMILY WHEN THEY TRIED TO INTERVENE. THAT IS WHO YOU LEAD, CAPTAIN.”
Delacourt started to sing, and most of the inn’s clients joined by the second line.
- Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honour, is sworn,
- To keep evil forever at bay!
- And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s shout,
- Dragonborn, for your blessing, we pray!
The inn was once again deadly quiet. I saw the captain reaching for his weapon.
Again, my Thu’um rattled the inn with its power.
“I AM A THANE OF THIS HOLD. ON BEHALF OF HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY, EMPEROR TITUS MEDE II, I HEREBY PLACE ALL LEGIONNAIRES IN THE DEAD MAN’S DRINK UNDER ARREST. THE CHARGE IS SEDITION. I ADVISE YOU TO SURRENDER.”
Somebody yelled, “What about the Thalmor?”
“THEY ARE NOT THALMOR AND DO NOT REPRESENT THE DOMINION. THEY ARE TERRORISTS WANTED BY THE DOMINION AND ARE ALSO UNDER ARREST.”
I drew my sword, and so did my squad. Unsurprisingly, many of the patrons also drew their weapons.
I did not hold back, and bottles shattered as I growled, “SURRENDER AND STAND TRIAL OR DIE!”
Hreidur looked nervously toward the captain.
The captain drew his sword. The choice had been made.
As Hreidur reached for his sword, I removed his head.
I then stood back and watched strangers and friends eliminate the other enemies. It was brutal and swift.
Absolute silence followed. I think some people were shocked they could kill.
I didn’t use The Voice but shouted, “Nobody should feel guilt for what just happened. The Legionnaires were traitors. The Altmer were terrorists. You have defended your family, friends, and country.”
I didn’t search the corpses except for Hreidur’s. From him, I retrieved Angi’s necklace. It was a locket, and inside were portraits of who I assumed were her parents. An inscription indicated it was a coming-of-age present.
Mathias had wisely made himself scarce after the bloodshed. As we exited the inn, Falkreath Guards entered it.
We found Mathias near a pitch-black pony.
I approached him and said, “I am sorry you had to witness such violence, Mathias.”
“Rigmor’s Guardian is also The Dragonborn! Who would have believed it? I take it you ran into the troops on the mountain.”
“They are dead, as are hundreds of others who have tried to harm Rigmor, Angi and Sorella.”
“So, it was Angi’s camp they were looking for? Don’t worry. Everybody around here knows about Angi.”
“Angi likes Falkreath but says the Jarl is an arse.”
“She has been quite the talk of the city recently, but we didn’t know about Sorella.”
“That is the type of enemy that has been hunting Rigmor. They would have no qualms about killing a little girl. Rigmor’s mother is also living with Angi. We rescued her from those bastards a few days ago. She had been enslaved for four years!”
“There are Stormcloak sympathisers in this Hold. They will point to those Legionnaires and say that is why we need to leave The Empire.”
“The people of Falkreath are not stupid. They know that most Legionnaires are willing to die to protect them and their families.”
“I hope Sorella enjoys the pony.”
I patted the petite horse and asked, “Does she have a name?”
“The horse master my brother purchased her from named her Svinnr.”
“That is Old Nord for swift and wise and an excellent name! Now, don’t be shocked when my horse appears out of nowhere. And then vanishes with Svinnr after we do.”
I summoned Hashire.
- Hashire: Oh, hello, Celestine.
- Celestine: Hello, Hashire.
- Wulf: This young filly is called Svinnr. Can you please gain her confidence? I will summon you, and then you can summon her.
- Hashire: Okay. Is she for Sorella?
- Celestine: Yes. Sorella has been through a traumatic experience.
- Wulf: Add to that, we have to move to a farm near Riften, and Svinnr will help Sorella cope.
- Hashire: Okay. Svinnr seems keen to talk to me. I think she will be okay.
- Wulf: Get ready, ladies. We will teleport to Angi’s in a second.
Mathias was standing with his mouth wide open.
I said, “I hope your niece recovers, Mathias.”
We then teleported to Vayu’s camp.
I told Vayu, “We are moving to a farm near Riften. After Angi’s is empty, you can return home.”
“Sigunn came and told us, as she thought you may have forgotten to do so.”
“Yes, sorry. I am not myself.”
“The other New Order troops?”
“Dead. Most of them were killed by Falkreath’s citizens.”
“I look forward to hearing that story. Go on, Wulf. Do what is needed so you can find Rigmor.”
Angi, Sorella and Sigunn were waiting for us. Rigmor’s tent had been packed away, and Ren was burdened with it.
I introduced Sorella to Svinnr, and it was instant love.
Everybody then gathered around to hear my instructions.
- Wulf: Celestine and my friends will come with me to Riften. From there, we shall make our way to the farm. Vayu and his squad will remain on guard here.
- Sorella: Were there other bad guys in Falkreath?
- Wulf: Yes, Sorella. I gave them a chance to surrender, but they fought instead.
- Sorella: Are they dead?
- Wulf: Yes.
- Sorella: Angi showed me my new bow. I will put arrows in their heads if any more try to hurt us!
- Wulf: Sorella, you do not want to kill other people. It is not fun! Once you have done it, you will be a different Sorella.
- Angi: Listen to Wulf. Killing people is not a game.
- Sorella: But can I carry my bow at the farm?
- Wulf: Angi will carry Xenia’s Wrath for now. You can use it when she is training you.
- Sorella: Okay.
- Wulf: I know this must be hard for you, Angi.
- Angi: We don’t have much choice now, do we?
- Wulf: No, we don’t. Is everybody ready to move out? It may take a couple of hours for us to reach the farm before I can summon you.
- Angi: We are ready, Wulf.
- Sigunn: How are the horses going to get to the farm?
- Wulf: Hashire is talking to them at the moment. When I am at the farm, I will summon Hashire, and then he will summon the horses.
- Angi: How does the summoning work?
- Wulf: You will feel my summoning in your head. Agree with it. Then you will be in darkness and utter cold for a second and appear at the farm.
- Angi: And you do this all the time?
- Wulf: Yes, and there is no danger, Angi.
- Sorella: If horses can do it, so can we! Although Hashire is not a horse.
- Sigunn: Sorella says that Hashire is a unicorn.
- Wulf: That is true. He is one of the last unicorns alive. He will help guard the farm along with Celestine, Meeko, the other ladies and a dragon.
- Sigunn: I should accept some things I thought impossible.
- Wulf: Many people didn’t believe in dragons until they attacked cities and towns. Anyway, I want to get moving. I need to do this and then start looking for Rigmor. I am to meet somebody who knows where she is. So, keep warm, and I will summon you soon.
We teleported to Riften’s stables.
Torrential rain was falling.
I noticed Ahkari’s caravan was in place, so I quickly visited.
- Wulf: Lovely weather, Ahkari!
- Ahkari: It is different than the hot sands of this one’s home, but we are warm in our tents.
- Celestine: Your caravan grows larger each time I see it!
- Ahkari: Indeed, as trade is good.
- Wulf: It is always a pleasure to talk and trade, Ahkari, but I am busy. However, one of my friends may visit tomorrow to do some trading.
- Ahkari: If they mention your name, Khajiit will only add ten per cent to the prices!
- Wulf: That is generous of you, as you usually add fifteen per cent when I shop in person.
- Ahkari: It is not this one’s fault you do not haggle.
- Celestine: Wulf is so rich you should be adding twenty per cent.
- Ahkari: Mages are always wise in their ways.
- Wulf: We better get going before Celestine suggests twenty-five per cent!
Several bandits thought that five heavily armed people were easy prey. They died.
About an hour and a half later, we entered the farm.
Celestine and my friends decided to use a hayshed instead of erecting tents.
I summoned Hashire, and he successfully summoned the horses.
I summoned Meeko, who did a quick tour of the farm. He growled when facing a nearby bridge.
“If the bandits enter the farm, they will regret it.”
I summoned Nahfahlaar, who proceeded to fly in circles.
I then summoned Angi, Sigunn and Sorella. Tendril had given me a key.
When I unlocked the door, Sorella barged past me and ran into a room with two beds.
The others entered at a more sedate pace.
Sigunn said, “This isn’t so bad. It could use a little decoration, though.”
Angi grumbled, “Gah! It has potential. I’ll take a look outside and see what needs doing.”
I walked into the room occupied by Sorella.
She said, “This is my and Rigmor’s room!”
“I am going to go look for Rigmor now. Please remember and never take that special ring off. Okay?”
“I promise. I explained the ring to Angi because you have been so busy. She will make sure I have it on. She said if she sees me without it, she will tie me to my bed so I can’t go to the bad people.”
“Do you think Angi would do that?”
“When you ride Svinnr, do not go far. Make sure grownups can see you.”
“Hashire will teach you to ride.”
“Can he talk to me like Meeko?”
“Do you think I could ride him?”
“You can always ask him.”
“I will see you soon, Sorella.”
“Wulf, when you find Rigmor, tell her how much you love her.”
“Grownups are weird sometimes.”
“Rigmor thinks I am weird all the time.”
I exited the bedroom and found that Sigunn had already lit a fire.
I told her, “I will look for Rigmor now.”
“Are we safe here?”
“You are safe from New Order people. However, some bandits might try their luck thinking a group of women are easy pickings. Meeko, Hashire and a dragon will give plenty of warning, and the bandits will die if they get too close.”
“This place needs a few things. There are some vegetables for a stew, but they are not the freshest.”
“Talk to Celestine in the morning; she will summon some of my friends to gather what you need from Riften.”
“I don’t know how long it will take me to find Rigmor and bring her home.”
“We all know you love her dearly. Angi, Sorella, Baa’Ren-Dar, and everybody else told me that Rigmor loves you as much.”
“I am sorry for my breakdown at Angi’s. Your story of how they dragged Rigmor away from you and how helpless you felt reminded me….”
“Hush, dear Wulf. I understand.”
“Rigmor is very proud of Ragnar. She never believed the lies written about him.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar said she met Yngol and Casius. They were good and loyal men.”
“They told Rigmor some stories of their time with Ragnar. That helped her understand her father a bit better. She now knows why he never spoke about his war experiences.”
“Ragnar told me once that only others who have experienced battle can fully understand.”
“I have experienced battles, Sigunn. I sympathise with retired soldiers who will sit drinking in groups while telling tales of their battles and wars but not mention a thing to their family.”
“Is Rigmor good with the sword? She practised so often with her father, and he pushed her more than I thought he should sometimes.”
“I have never seen better with a greatsword! But I hope she can put her sword away forever when The New Order is dealt with.”
“Do you and Rigmor have any plans?”
“Yes. Rigmor has expressed the desire to stay with me, no matter what I have to do in the future. She will be like the wife of a soldier, waiting for her husband to return and not knowing if and when he will. The difference is that I will always have enemies, and I doubt Rigmor could put her sword away. She would be in danger simply because of who I am.”
“Can’t you have any sort of normal life?”
“I don’t know, Sigunn. At the moment, I am reacting to events and can’t plan. I know of tasks I must do once we defeat The New Order, but who knows what other tasks will arise? Rigmor would have to endure constant uncertainty and danger if she lived with me. And as shown a few days ago, I am a mortal. I have faced and will face things far more dangerous than Aedriath and The New Order.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar said The Nine sent you to help all mortals, even those who hate you or are evil.”
“Yes, they have prepared me for the tasks ahead. I have no right to judge the worth of another mortal’s life.”
“Then surely The Nine will aid you.”
“They and other gods will be my allies. Some other gods will be my enemies. But as I suggested at Angi’s, you can’t blame everything on the actions of gods. Gods did not cause The Great War. Ragnar did not have to help defend Hammerfell because the gods caused problems there. The civil war is not the fault of the gods. Ysgramor and his murderers did not wipe out The Snow Elves because a god asked them to. Tragic as your family’s fate was, imagine that happening to hundreds of millions of families. That was the legacy of Ysgramor. The same happened to the Nedic, the Ayleid, the Minotaur and others. None of that slaughter and misery was the fault of gods.”
“Will such things ever end?”
“I have an ability called foresight. I saw a possible future where such things are no more. Rigmor was with me in that possible future. So yes, there is a possibility that such injustice and terror are no more. But I have no idea how that would be achieved.”
“Did you choose this path, Wulf?”
“Yes. The Nine did not force me to accept this role. Like Ragnar and The Sons of Talos who crossed into Hammerfell, I volunteered, as it was right. Rigmor is much the same, Sigunn. Her sense of duty, empathy and compassion is extraordinary. I told her the nobility awarded to your family is of the truest kind. It was earned by Ragnar placing the welfare of others before himself. Nirn would be better if all nobles practised the same simple philosophy.”
“Ragnar had to kill for peace.”
“As I do. Yet with The New Order and others, we will face foes who kill for greed, hatred, and other base reasons.”
“Go now. I have taken up enough time that you could be spending searching for Rigmor.”
“It was not wasted time, Sigunn. It is enlightening and heart-warming. When I speak to you, I see where Rigmor’s values originated. I only wish I could have met Ragnar.”
“And your parents? They must have taught you your values.”
“I am of noble blood, Sigunn, and my parents practised the true nobility I admire. They taught by living the Ten Commandments of The Nine Divines. They did not preach them without conviction.”
I left the farmhouse with Sigunn looking thoughtfully at the man who loved her daughter.
I approached Angi, who had been inspecting the property.
I asked, “Well, what do you think of the place?”
“Yeah, it’s good. We can grow crops and possibly get some livestock and chickens. It will do until it’s safe to return to my home in the mountains.”
I held out the necklace and said, “Angi, I believe this belongs to you.”
She took it from me and then gasped, “My necklace. Where did you get it? Oh, no!”
“They were feral animals and were put down.”
“They were part of the same New Order squad who found us. They would have been in the next group who attacked. All of them are now dead. Your family can rest in peace now.”
“Don’t tell anyone, please…I….”
“I swear on The Divines I will not mention what they did to anybody, not even Rigmor. You have nothing to be ashamed of, but it is up to you who knows the facts.”
“You killed them, but it will never be over! And once this stupid war is over, I shall be going home, and Sorella is coming with me…and no one had better try and stop us.”
As Angi ran towards the house, I turned and headed for Jonte Malesam.