Morndas, 22nd Hearthfire, 4E 201
I woke and expected to see Rigmor in bed. To my surprise, she wasn’t.
I stood and stared, and unpleasant scenarios came from a rampant imagination.
Then I worked hard to calm myself. It would do Rigmor no good to see me panicking.
When I entered the living area, Sigunn was stirring the day’s stew.
I asked, “Sigunn, do you know where Rigmor is?”
Despite my efforts, some panic remained in my voice.
Sigunn smiled and said, “Relax, Wulf. Rigmor is sitting on the porch with many competent guards nearby. She has calmed down overnight and seems to have regained some memories. I think you should speak to her.”
“She knows who Baa’Ren-Dar and I are.”
“But not me?”
“Don’t worry, Wulf. She will remember your love. It will not be diminished.”
“How can you be sure of that?”
“A mother’s intuition.”
I smiled at Sigunn and headed for the exit.
As I walked by Baa’Ren-Dar, he said, “Please, tell us of any progress.”
“I will do, Baa’Ren.”
After stepping outside, I briefly glanced at Rigmor before Silah spoke to me telepathically.
She said, “Wulf, three large bandits gangs have joined forces. Their leaders are on a small island doing some reconnoitring. We were unsure what to do about them as they plan to attack.”
I ran to its edge and looked across the lake. Three bandit leaders signalled to others near the bridge.
I asked, “How do you know what they are planning?”
“In spirit form, I listened to their meeting last night. They are guessing Rigmor is here because they saw you.”
“Well, I think the best thing is to talk to and kill their leaders if need be. Hopefully, the others will get the hint.”
“We could kill them all.”
“I am tired of the bloodshed, Silah. If I kill the leaders and the bandits still attack, we shall kill them all.”
I Blinked till I was near the small island, then walked across the water. As I did so, I used my Thu’um and said, “I AM LORD WELKYND, THE DRAGONBORN. SILAH, MY BEAUTIFUL DRAGON FRIEND YOU SEE OVERHEAD, TELLS ME YOU ARE PLANNING AN ATTACK ON OUR FARM. I WILL NOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN!”
I stepped onto the island, and the three bandit leaders attacked.
Seconds later, they lay dead.
I used my Thu’um again and said, “YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!”
I then Blinked to the farm.
As I approached them, I heard Angi explaining how to identify and remove weeds to Sorella.
- Wulf: Good morning, ladies.
- Sorella: Did you just beat up some bad guys?
- Angi: I think Wulf did more than beat them up, Sorella.
- Wulf: They attacked me, so I killed them.
- Angi: Were they after Rigmor?
- Wulf: Yes, but they had no hope of getting to her.
- Sorella: Are there more bad guys?
- Wulf: Yes. However, they were the leaders I just killed. I doubt the others will attack the farm now.
- Angi: Meeko has been growling at them for ages. It is frightening when he does that.
- Wulf: When Meeko is in battle, he is an efficient killer. Then he is as gentle as anything the rest of the time.
- Sorella: Like Wulf, his friend.
I looked up at Silah and asked out loud, “What are the bandits doing?”
She replied in her beautiful voice, “A couple of them argued. Weapons were drawn, and several lay dead. The others scattered in three directions back to their bases. I don’t think they will return.”
“Thank you, Silah.”
I walked over to Meeko and said, “Thank you for being a noisy guard.”
“Yes, I am sure your growling stopped them from attacking.”
“Would I lie to you?”
Meeko remained silent, and I laughed as I headed towards Rigmor.
My beloved was staring across the lake. I doubt Rigmor could have seen much of the minor skirmish.
As I got closer, I realised Rigmor was staring into infinity. She didn’t notice me approaching.
I startled her when I coughed and asked, “Do you mind if I join you?”
Rigmor’s scrutiny was intense as I gingerly lowered myself onto the chair, which didn’t protest too much.
I looked into her eyes, and my Rigmor, her soul intact, looked into mine. Externally, Rigmor looked very healthy.
Rigmor smiled, then said, “Celestine says I am healthy. Lucky she is a woman with the questions she wanted me to answer!”
“Celestine is one of the best Restoration mages on Nirn. I am not too shabby myself. I am relieved to see you looking much better this morning.”
“I’m sorry about…you know….”
“I understand completely. There is no need to apologise.”
“Mum says that you faced many dangers and came for me. She says that you are my Guardian.”
“I rescued you with the help of some friends, and now you are safe. That is all that matters.”
“Will they come for me again?”
“I have killed many already and will destroy all that try!”
“Like those on that little island?”
“There is a large bounty on you, and they hoped to claim it. Bandits like them have no hope of getting past my friends. However, I thought I would scare them away by confronting their leaders and hopefully avoid further bloodshed.”
“I wasn’t sure if I was seeing right. You moved incredibly fast to get close to them and then walked across the water. Then you moved incredibly fast back to the farm.”
“You didn’t imagine it, Rigmor. Perhaps you will remember why I can do such things. However, that is not important right now.”
“What did they want with me? Why is there a bounty on me?”
“When you get your memories back, we can discuss that. You will probably tire of me saying that, but it is necessary.”
“Guardian, I kept having this dream last night.”
“A recurring dream?”
“Yes! There is a little girl that I can hear crying. She’s all alone in the dark. I can’t see her, so I follow the sound of her sobbing. When I find her, she has her back to me. I approach, and she wants me to hold her hand. I take it, and then she leads me to a battlefield. The sky is black, and the rain is pouring down. It is a terrible storm, but she keeps pulling me forward. I don’t want to follow her. I’m scared and let go of her hand. Then I wake up every time.”
“Do you recognise the girl?”
“No, but I have this feeling she wants to show me something, but I let go every time because I am afraid.”
It was not a night terror or nightmare. I doubt it was a fever dream. I think the Girl God from The Void was trying to guide Rigmor towards essential memories. Rigmor was not ready for such gobblygook or speculation.
I reassured Rigmor, “You have been through a lot. It might make sense as your memories return.”
“Yes, I am having trouble remembering things. Everything is vague. I can’t remember my past. Before, when I was a little girl? All that is gone.”
“Have you spoken to your mother or Baa’Ren-Dar about this?”
“Yes, but I am finding it hard to connect with them, no matter how much I love them in my heart. I feel something is wrong, and I feel guilty, but I don’t know why. All we have to connect us is…this…uncertainty? Ahh!”
“How do you feel about me?”
“Comfortable…protected…safe, I guess.”
“Then I have done my job as Guardian and will continue to do so.”
“Right now, I think I need that, a Guardian.”
Rigmor’s gaze was intense. I felt like a puzzle she was trying to solve.
“When I woke, you were sitting close to my bed. You were asleep but smiling. Mum said you do that all the time. Not smiling, I mean sitting in a chair close to me while I sleep.”
“My presence helps calm you and keeps your nightmares at bay.”
“The little girl is not a nightmare. So why am I afraid?”
“I don’t know, Rigmor. As I said, some things will make sense as memories return.”
“It is all a jumbled mess of things I can’t put in order!”
“Do you remember what I told you last night?”
“Just before I barged past you?”
“You told me I should look inside my heart, and I will find you waiting there.”
“Sometimes what the mind forgets, the heart remembers.”
“I…I’m sorry. I guess I am about to rediscover many things, right?”
“Yes, the memories will return gradually and hopefully in an order that makes sense.”
I let uncertainties intrude. Rigmor knows that she loves her mother and Baa’Ren-Dar but not me. Perhaps our love is part of the trauma her mind is shielding her from.
Rigmor looked at me with a worried frown. My façade was slipping.
She asked, “Is there something wrong? Your smile is gone.”
I replied, “It’s okay, Rigmor.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll walk and look at the lake. That might help me clear my mind.”
“That is an excellent idea.”
I watched Rigmor walk towards the edge of the lake. I knew my friends would discretely guard her, so I entered the farmhouse.
Baa’Ren-Dar and Sigunn were sitting in the far corner, breaking their fast.
I fought the dark thoughts and restored my smile as I approached them.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Wulf, did Rigmor say anything? Is that one’s memory coming back?
- Sigunn: She does know who we are, doesn’t she?
- Wulf: Yes, Sigunn, she remembers you are her mum. She also knows she loves you both dearly. But it is not a matter of no memories and then all memories. We must gently remind her of things and let the memories return that way.
- Sigunn: Everybody is optimistic that it is a temporary thing.
- Wulf: It is temporary, and now we must figure out what will help Rigmor recover her memories. It is not just the trauma. Whatever the concoction she swallowed was, it contributed to her memory loss. I also think there are some memories Rigmor doesn’t want back, and we have to be careful with those. But it is not all or nothing.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Some say that you must sometimes go back to move forward. Sometimes to remember who we are, we need to start from the beginning.
- Wulf: The most uncomplicated memories to recover will be the newest. Rigmor will be sure of those, while older ones might seem vague. She might be unsure of the accuracy of older memories. We must start with something recent that would be an important and cherished memory. Ultimately, all memories must have a context to be placed in order. That allows for their significance to be understood.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Why don’t you take Rigmor to revisit some of the places you have recently been to?
- Wulf: That is an excellent suggestion. We have visited many of my properties, but they are busy places, and I think quiet is essential now. The hot springs area is too exposed. However, the lookout is an excellent option to start with. Depending on how that goes, I might take Rigmor somewhere new, like Whiterun or The Throat of the World.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit thinks they are excellent choices!
- Sigunn: What about you, Wulf? Does Rigmor remember who you are?
- Wulf: She knows I am her Guardian because you told her. Apart from that, I am a stranger.
- Sigunn: Oh, I am so sorry!
- Wulf: Rigmor is alive and well. That is the most important thing.
- Sigunn: Is there anywhere else you might take Rigmor?
- Wulf: She liked Casius, so we will probably visit him. The mages want to discuss something with Rigmor. Celestine will retrieve some information the Arch-Mage was preparing for me. I want to read that before I take her to the College of Winterhold.
- Sigunn: Do you know why the mages want to speak to Rigmor?
- Wulf: Partly. It concerns why The New Order was so interested in Rigmor. As I said last night, I will not discuss it until Rigmor is ready to understand everything.
- Sigunn: I understand. Wulf, please be careful.
- Wulf: I failed her once. I will never do that again. She will be safe with me, Sigunn.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit hopes Dragonborn stops thinking he failed Rigmor. This one cannot imagine anybody else who would survive two trips to Oblivion to save her.
- Sigunn: Tell Rigmor there is a set of hunting furs she can wear instead of that flimsy dress. It should fit with all the straps and laces for adjustment. Ask her to come inside, and I will help her put it on.
- Wulf: I don’t think Rigmor should wear a set of furs that Tendril Sethri stole from who knows where! Instead, I will ask the ladies, and perhaps they know of a suitable outfit in our clothes collection. Most of it is brand new, and I am sure there will be something suitable.
- Sigunn: Where did you get all the clothes, Wulf?
- Wulf: Many girls and women live on my estates. They purchase outfits with the money I provide them. Also, many deceased estates are sold as one lot for convenience and expedience. We purchase deceased lots to obtain rare items. We then distribute most items to charitable organisations and keep some new or newish items. Thus, we have quite a collection of apparel and armour for both genders.
- Sigunn: How wealthy are you, Wulf?
- Wulf: Very.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Khajiit doubts there is anybody richer in Skyrim than Wulf.
- Sigunn: And you are of noble birth?
- Wulf: Yes, but I also gained noble titles in Skyrim.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Wulf is Thane in nearly all the Holds. Dragonborn is a Lord because of the large castle he is turning into a school and orphanage.
- Sigunn: That is impressive! Was your wealth inherited?
- Wulf: Partially. My task as Champion of The Divines is to aid the mortals of Nirn. Sometimes that is via battle, other times through charity and education. I have found many items of worth when searching for artefacts. I do not take things from burial tombs, but I have no guilt about taking treasure elsewhere. I live in luxury in an inherited estate but have invested most of my wealth into my museums, orphanages, and charitable work. I also pay my friends a generous stipend and staff above-average wages.
- Sigunn: Sorry to be so nosey. It is just that you are not what a wealthy noble is supposed to be.
- Wulf: On the contrary, I am what they are supposed to be, Sigunn. Nobles should be servants of the people, not power-hungry beasts with no compassion. The Empire was built on The Commands of The Divines. I see little evidence of adherence to those principles among the elite.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Dragonborn said museums. Khajiit only knows of the one in Solitude.
- Wulf: Well, the other is an aquarium, but it will educate visitors on the importance and history of fishing, breeds of fish and so on.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: I must leave for Cyrodiil.
- Wulf: Please, if you meet with His Imperial Majesty, ask about restoring the family’s nobility and clearing Ragnar’s name. In some ways, Mede is responsible for what happened by allowing The Thalmor to tell lies and arrest Ragnar. Many are willing to vouch for Ragnar, including Casius.
- Sigunn: Oh, do you think that is possible, Baa’Ren?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Mede already owes Wulf an outstanding debt for saving us from Alduin and uncovering The New Order’s plot. If Khajiit plays the guilt game with that one, Mede will restore the family’s nobility and Ragnar’s good name.
- Sigunn: That would be a blessing.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Safe travels, Guardian.
- Wulf: Same to you, Emissary.
I made my way to my friends.
- Wulf: Good morning ladies. Celestine, did you visit the Arch-Mage?
- Celestine: I will in a minute.
- Wulf: I am taking Rigmor to a lookout we visited in the hope that it will jog some recent memories. I think they need to come before some of the earlier ones.
- Celestine: Rigmor will be surer of later memories, so that is a good plan.
- Wulf: Where is Iona?
- Lydia: Watering some plants.
- Wulf: Oh.
- Celestine: Silah says the bandits have all run home and won’t bother us.
- Lydia: Some seem to have argued against that and were killed.
- Wulf: I am not surprised.
- Jordis: Silah says you spoke to your father and another god in The Void.
- Wulf: Yes, and I think that god has visited Rigmor when she sleeps. I think it tries to make Rigmor remember things she is subconsciously repressing.
- Jordis: Such as?
- Wulf: I have an idea, but it is speculation. So, let’s wait and see.
- Celestine: If you think your love is one of the things being suppressed, you are wrong!
- Wulf: As I said, let’s wait and see.
- Lydia: Any plans after the lookout?
- Wulf: Rigmor has repeatedly said she wants to see more of Skyrim. If all goes well at the lookout, I thought I might take her to Whiterun. It is my favourite city, and she would surely like it.
- Celestine: Whatever you do, Silah will let us know where you are.
- Wulf: That is disturbing when I think about it.
- Celestine: You know why that is necessary, Wulf.
- Wulf: Yes, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing!
- Jordis: Are you taking anybody with you?
- Wulf: Hashire and Meeko. They will give us plenty of warning if danger approaches.
- Celestine: Have you spoken to Valminoor?
- Wulf: Not since Alduin appeared. He refuses my summons.
- Celestine: He guards us well when it is his turn but never gets close enough for us to see him. Silah says Odahviing scarred Valminoor, who is ashamed.
- Wulf: I think Valminoor needs to sort that problem out himself. Telling him he fought well against one of the most powerful dragons will not ease his dented ego. If he wants guidance, he will seek it.
- Celestine: Silah also said you should ask Odahviing if he has considered following as an ally once more. You asked him once, and he has had time to consider your offer.
- Wulf: If he follows to help and not because my Thu’um is stronger, I will gladly accept his aid. So, I will ask him again.
- Jordis: Will dragons continue to behave?
- Wulf: Most will, as they suffered significant losses in The Dragon War and at the hands of the Tsaesci. The war between the Ka’Po’Tun and Tsaesci also cost the lives of many dragons. I will not use them against The New Order or Stormcloaks for those reasons. Minor skirmishes, such as that near Angi’s, are the greatest danger I will subject them to. In time they will be respected and not feared.
- Jordis: But you expect that some will go rogue.
- Wulf: Yes, and that is why I need to build up The Blades. They need to be able to kill rogue dragons without my assistance. That way, the offending dragon is not wiped from existence.
- Lydia: Rigmor is sitting on a bench next to the lake.
- Wulf: She needs some travelling clothes. Do you ladies know of something suitable within our collection?
- Jordis: There is a beautiful leather riding outfit that we have all admired.
- Celestine: I know the one, and there are several sizes and colours. I will collect a red one in Rigmor’s size on my way back from Winterhold. The Arch-Mage should have the information ready for pickup, so I estimate ten minutes or so for the trip.
- Wulf: Okay, there is no need to summon a substitute for such a short time while I am here.
- Celestine: Vayu will stop by to get the latest information. Is there anything you need him to do?
- Wulf: I plan to make The Dragonguard available as shock troops that coordinate with whoever is in command of the combined forces. We cannot allow any Holds, villages, and towns to fall under New Order control. I want him to study previous invasions and determine where the first strikes will likely occur.
- Celestine: The same tactics we used in Akavir will work in Skyrim. If we target their leaders, the rabble will bog down with indecision.
- Wulf: There is very little they can do against dragons acting as scouts. Invisible mages who attack and then teleport away will be the death of all New Order commanders. Soon, being promoted to replace leaders we have slain will be feared.
- Lydia: I hope I get to defend Whiterun, Wulf.
- Wulf: I will need people by my side, but Rigmor will also need protecting. I see no need for her to experience the battlefield.
- Lydia: Whatever you decide, Wulf, I will do my best.
I was deliberately noisy on my way to Rigmor, and she turned to watch my progress.
When I reached her, she asked, “Hey, Guardian, are you checking up on me already?”
“Yep. I am just making sure you haven’t grown an extra head. Can I sit beside you once more?”
“Only if you promise not to make any more jokes.”
I sat beside Rigmor, and we spent half a minute staring at the lake. It was a pretty spot to have a farm.
I looked at Rigmor, and when she turned her head, I almost gasped at the love I saw. But it was fleeting, and my uncertainties arose once more.
Rigmor said, “I love it here by the lake. It fills me with a wonderful sense of freedom. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Me and you together, I mean?”
“Yes, we talked a little further up. Just outside the southern gate of Riften.”
“I wish I could remember what’s been going on. It’s peculiar, for instance, Angi, Sorella, Celestine and the others. I feel like I have known them all my life, but I don’t recall any of the moments. Like a book with nothing on the pages.”
“You have known me longer than most of them.”
“Sorry, I am unfair. I am letting my mouth get ahead of my better judgement.”
“I don’t know why I said I didn’t know you last night! I look at you, and I am confused. It is not like looking at any of the others. I don’t know. I am not making much sense, am I?”
“Do you feel different when I am close to you?”
“Yes, apart from feeling safer, I am less confused. I guess there is less pressure to think about things, but when I do, they make more sense. I dunno, it is hard to explain.”
“That is a good explanation, as it is hard to explain. Something special between us seems to work, if you remember it or not. We call it Our Quiet. It is what helps you sleep well when I am close by.”
“Our Quiet? Does it concern what I will find inside my heart?”
I nodded, then asked Rigmor, “How would you like to visit one of the places we have been that you enjoyed? That might help you remember things.”
“Hey! I would like that. Can we take the horses?”
“Yes, but that dress is not suitable. Celestine is bringing back a leather riding outfit for you.”
“Is she visiting a market?”
“No, she is stopping at one of my estates. We can move around quickly using teleportation.”
“I have no idea what that is.”
“We will teleport to Ivarstead, which may jog your memory. Then we can ride our horses from Ivarstead to the place we visited recently.”
“Can I ask you some things?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I was not shocked at dragons hovering over the farm. I trusted them, and I think I know them. Is that correct?”
“You have met the big red one. He is famous and called Nafaalilargus in Tamriel and Nahfahlaar in Elsweyr. The smaller, darker dragon’s name is Valminoor, but you have only seen him from a distance. The pretty blue and silver dragon is called Silah, and she is the only female dragon to visit Nirn for thousands of years.”
“You thanked Silah for her help, but I never heard her talk to you before that.”
“She uses telepathy.”
“Telepathy, and guess what?”
“I will understand when I remember.”
“Your dog is huge!”
“His name is Meeko, and he is not a dog.”
“Ahh, he barks, growls, licks his nether regions, plays fetch the stick with Sorella and slobbers. If he is not a dog, what is he?”
“He has been with me all my life, and I don’t know what he is. All I know is that he is not a dog.”
“Is that word for weird stuff that I must accept and not try to figure out?”
“Yes, and I am surprised you remembered that.”
“If I travel with you, it is an important word.”
“That it is!”
We heard Celestine behind us say, “I am back!”
When we walked over to her, she handed me a book.
- Celestine: Here is your book, Wulf. I suggest you read it as soon as possible.
- Wulf: It must have taken the mage ages to do this for me.
- Celestine: He spent many hours last night doing it. He thinks it is essential you understand what it contains. I read it, and it is vitally important.
- Wulf: Did you retrieve the outfit for Rigmor?
- Celestine: Yes, it is in Rigmor’s room in the farmhouse.
- Rigmor: Then I will go and put it on!
- Celestine: You might need help with the buckles and so on. After they are adjusted, you should have no problems getting in and out of it. Do you want my assistance?
- Rigmor: Mum would probably have less idea of adjusting the outfit than me. So yes, please assist and thanks.
- Wulf: I will sit and wait. I love it here by the lake. It fills me with a wonderful sense of freedom.
- Rigmor: Hey, I said that a few minutes ago!
- Wulf: Did you? I must have forgotten. Perhaps a visit to somewhere I have been before will restore my memory.
- Rigmor: Is he always this infuriating, Celestine?
- Celestine: I am afraid so.
Celestine and Rigmor chatted while heading for the farmhouse. I placed the Arch-Mage’s book into my Journal Case. If Malesam is involved, I might not like what it says. I did not want my mood spoiled and needed to concentrate on assisting Rigmor. Therefore, I did not want to read it before visiting the lookout.
I sat on the bench and looked over the lake. I then closed my eyes and tried to apply logic to what I knew.
The Girl God told me the doll was a symbol of love. That did not narrow down why it was important. I didn’t have enough information, and as the god said, I would understand at the appropriate time.
I was told that only the upper echelons of The New Order know about Malacath. Could I use that information if The New Order uses troops that are not Altmer? Knowing they would be killed if The New Order succeeded would demoralise them. However, if there are Orsimer amongst them, I must be careful. Destroying their faith in Malacath could harm all Orsimer, not just those who fight for The New Order. Therefore, it is probably not wise to mention it to enemy troops.
Who will lead the combined forces? I would be a logical choice, but would His Imperial Majesty dare appoint me? If he wishes to do so, he had better hurry and make that decision. I am an effective field commander. However, logistics and provincial-wide tactics are beyond me.
I opened my eyes once more and stared into infinity.
Sometime later, I heard, “Hello, I am getting closer and am about to stab you in the back!”
I laughed, stood, and approached Rigmor.
I told her, “I can see you have remembered that pissed-off crossed arms deadly stare stance.”
“Ha de haha! Were you asleep?”
“No, I was staring into infinity. You do it as well. However, I am usually aware of approaching danger. You are not dangerous…ah…usually.”
“What do you mean by usually?”
“Nice outfit! Do you like it?”
“Yes, I do, and don’t change the subject!”
“I was jesting, Rigmor. I have that greatsword I prepared for you, and you liked.”
“I remember it. I replaced it with Dad’s sword, which was used to make another sword. As nice as it is, I can’t carry a sword, Guardian. I don’t want to carry a sword.”
“That is okay. You don’t have to carry a weapon. The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable or feel pressured.”
“I want to remember. I do…really. So, do what you gotta do, and I’ll follow, okay?”
I telepathically told Hashire, “I will teleport Rigmor to Ivarstead and then summon you. Rigmor will have forgotten how to summon Ren, so you must do it.”
“Then we are going to the lookout.”
“You listened in on my talk with the ladies!”
“Duh! How else would I know what is happening since you always forget to tell me!”
“Don’t try and talk to Rigmor until she remembers how it feels.”
“Do you think I am stupid?”
“I don’t think. I know!”
Rigmor and I gathered Meeko.
I told her, “We will be in the dark and cold for less than a second. Then we will appear in Ivarstead.”
“I trust you, Guardian.”
When we appeared in Ivarstead, Silah landed atop Vilemyr Inn, which startled a few locals.
I said telepathically, “If you damage that roof, Wilhelm will bill me for the repairs!”
“Relax, I am not Nahfahlaar!”
“Something must be important for you to stop guarding the farm.”
“Lord Talos says that Mede has announced you will be in charge of the Skyrim combined forces. That news should reach General Tullius’ ears by tomorrow via Baa’Ren. If you accept the position, you will be sworn in by Tullius in Solitude.”
“And how did His Imperial Majesty decide on me?”
“Well, he was discussing it with his advisors. The decision was made when his religious advisor told Mede that Lord Talos thinks you should be the leader.”
“And did Father suggest this to the priest?”
“Yes, of course, he did! Tullius would have made that choice eventually. Your father sped up the process.”
“Logically, I am the best choice as a hero to all. But I hate this manipulation by gods!”
“If Lord Talos had suggested something that Tullius was not contemplating, that would be manipulation. A slight nudge to speed up the process is not.”
“Is that so? I would debate that with you if you weren’t making the locals nervous. I will visit General Tullius tomorrow.”
“Lord Talos says a suit of armour is waiting for you in your Aetherius room. It is nothing fancy, but your father will explain.”
I turned to Rigmor.
She asked, “You were talking telepathetically to Silah, weren’t you?”
“The word is telepathically, and yes, that is what we were doing. Silah said that I am to be made a General of The Imperial Army and lead the combined forces in the defence of Skyrim.”
“You have fought in battles before.”
“Yes, quite a few in Akavir. But enough of war, what do you think of teleportation?”
“That was cool! But I only forgot about it as not many people do it.”
“That’s correct. Baa’Ren-Dar does, but he uses relics, not spells, to do it.”
“The big mountain looming over this town is The Throat of The World, isn’t it?”
“Yes, and I promised to take you to the summit one day.”
“I would love that!
“You would meet many dragons there.”
“Cool! Ah, where are the horses?”
“I will summon Hashire, and he will summon Ren.”
“How can a horse summon another horse?”
“Hashire is not a horse.”
“Do you own any animals that are what they look like?”
“I don’t own Meeko or Hashire. They are friends.”
“Can we get moving before I am gobblygooked to death?”
I summoned Hashire, who then summoned Ren.
Silah said out loud, “See you later, Lunch!” and then took off.
Rigmor laughed and asked, “Who was Silah referring to? The locals look even more worried.”
“It is a nickname Nahfahlaar has for Hashire. Silah was trying to lighten the mood.”
“It is easy to tell she is female when she speaks.”
“Silah loves to gossip.”
As we rode, Rigmor was silent. Hashire, on the other hand, had plenty to say via telepathy.
He stated, “Rigmor was almost fully recovered from her two falls. But the concoction seems to have made her wearier.”
“Yes, but I am amazed how quickly Rigmor recovered once I lay her on a bed and Sigunn attended her.”
“She is confused. There is an advantage to ears that rotate like mine, and I have been listening. That is how I know her memories are incomplete and fragmented.”
“Rigmor remembers she loves Sigunn and others but not me, Hashire.”
“And you have made up terrible scenarios in that empty head.”
“Rigmor said she is not ready to use a sword. If she rejects that part of her past, am I also rejected? Is Rigmor taking this chance to discard aspects of her life with which she wasn’t happy?”
“Why would she be unhappy with you?”
“What happens when she remembers I failed as her guardian? What happens when she remembers I am the son of gods and have all these weird abilities?”
“If I were a brain trying to repair itself, I would leave the most life-changing revelations to last. That way, they can be placed in context with the other memories. Logically, Rigmor might accept that she once loved you, but it would seem hollow and abstract without other memories leading up to that love blossoming.”
“That is very observant of you.”
“Not really. Rigmor said, ‘Like a book with nothing on the pages.’”
“Has anybody ever told you it is rude to listen to private conversations?”
“I did it to help you, so forgive my rudeness!”
“I am not mad at you, Hashire. And that did help, so thank you. I hope Rigmor can cope with emotions that might accompany a rush of memories. It might be like standing before an avalanche.”
“Memories must have context. It is smart starting with later ones, but Rigmor will also have to sort through earlier ones. Otherwise, she would have no idea why some memories are important and why she acted a certain way in those memories.”
“Yes, I must be patient and not think the worst.”
“Isn’t that something your parents and friends have tried to teach you forever?”
“No, only for twenty-two years.”
I stopped at a waterfall, and Rigmor asked, “You like waterfalls and rivers, don’t you, Guardian? Something to do with your childhood.”
“Yes, Rigmor. I grew up near rivers and waterfalls. They remind me of my childhood and appeal to me as an adult.”
I had hoped we could reach the lookout without an encounter. Unfortunately, some Imperials and Stormcloaks hadn’t heard there was a ceasefire. A troll approaching the melee was killed as I watched.
I rode to the dead troll and observed the melee. The Stormcloaks were being slaughtered.
I leapt off Hashire and said, “Stay here, Rigmor. Meeko and Hashire will guard you.”
I ran to the melee and only needed to cut down one Stormcloak. An Imperial Battlemage had turned the tide with his spells and killed the last two just after I arrived.
A passing Legionnaire said, “Dragonborn, we were on our way to the muster point when ambushed. Some Stormcloaks refuse to accept the temporary ceasefire. It is a pity, as we did not want to fight them.”
As the Legionnaires reformed to continue their journey, I looked at the dead Stormcloaks with anger. They disobeyed orders and deserved no pity.
I returned to Rigmor and mounted Hashire.
No words were said as we proceeded past the corpses and blood.
We were soon surrounded by beauty and left the carnage behind.
When the camp came into sight, Rigmor leapt off Ren and ran laughing to its centre.
She stopped, looked at me, and then exclaimed, “I remember this place. Oh, my, it is all still here!”
Rigmor ran to the edge of the lookout. I followed at a more sedate pace.
I stood beside my beloved for half a minute, staring at her, not the view.
She caught me and turned.
I said, “That is quite a view.”
“Me or the scenery?”
“This is the last place we came before it went wrong.”
“It is the last place before our actions were driven by chaos and not by choice.”
“You gave me a dress to wear, it was red, and you watched me pick flowers. I kept them, and…and when you got hurt, I left you a trail in case you came for me.”
“I found them, and I have kept them. The flowers are special to me. But you were gone by the time I got to the last one.”
“He tricked us, didn’t he?”
“Yes, he did. I failed to protect you.”
“No, don’t think that. I can’t remember the details, but I know Aedriath tricked us. Is he still alive?”
“We saved Sorella from a dark place, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we did.”
“Wait…there’s something else….”
Rigmor looked at me intently as she asked, “Were we…yanno?”
Tears came unbidden.
Rigmor whispered, “Oh, I’m sorry, Wulf.”
“That is the first time you have used my name. I think I will sit by the fire. You can look at the scenery for a bit longer.”
I needed time to compose myself, and Rigmor needed time to process returned memories. I walked dejected to the campfire.
Meeko sat by the fire, and I was glad of his company.
I used Zoom Vision and wondered what Rigmor was thinking. I had to be careful, as melancholy threatened me with horrific scenarios.
After fifteen minutes, Rigmor approached, humming a tune I did not know.
My beloved sat on a stump, and there was an awkward silence for several seconds.
Then Rigmor said, “Look at me, Wulf.”
I did as Rigmor asked and fought my traitorous emotions once more as love washed over me.
She said, “I found it hard to sort out all I remembered when you walked away. Now I am sitting near you, and it is starting to come together. Is it Our Quiet that is helping me?”
“Yes, Rigmor. It helps us think clearer.”
Rigmor turned her head. It is a habit she has when deep in discussion.
She whispered, “We were about to enter the fort after rescuing Mum and ended up laughing about something silly. We often laugh about silly things, don’t we?”
“Some people who see us in fits of giggles or laughter think we are slightly insane.”
“I said, ‘Let’s go kick the arsehole in the arsehole!’”
“And I replied, ‘I can see all that proper noble lady training has been worth it.’”
I was rewarded with a laugh, as I was at the time.
Rigmor’s face would change, and she would silently mouth things as she sorted through the memories.
“Later on, I was scared and upset, and I asked you to promise you would never let me go.”
“Yes, you did. I replied, ‘I can’t promise, but I will try. I will not stop out of choice. I hope that is good enough.’”
“That wasn’t the first time you said those words to me, were they?”
“No, it wasn’t.”
Rigmor continued, “I was laughing at something again. Then I told you, ‘My dear, Wulf. I love you and will always love you.’”
“Seconds later, they were dragging you away from me. I could not stop them and heard you cry for mercy. Rigmor, it was the worst moment of my life!”
“I am sorry I have been calling you Guardian, not Wulf.”
“That is not your fault.”
“But you are not a Guardian. You are my Guardian! You are also my Dragonborn, Dragonbum and weirdo.”
Rigmor was still to tell me she loved me. Meeko sensed my anxiety and whined while looking my way.
My beloved continued, “I remember the love in your eyes, Wulf. Then the bolt struck, and I watched you die. I could have killed them all easily. Instead, I dropped my sword and watched as they stabbed you. But you didn’t die. I could still sense you somehow. And even though I was terrified, I knew you would come and get me, and they would pay for what they were doing. Therefore, I dropped the flowers, and you followed them and found me.”
“Lady Azura held a part of my Lifeforce within my body, but my Consciousness floated in The Void. I used our love to strengthen my will and find my way back from The Void and into my body. That took more than three days.”
Rigmor looked at me, and as with previous stares, I knew she loved me even if she hadn’t said the words.
She said, “I remember much of our time together, but not all of it.”
“You wrote me a song. When we were last here, you sang it to me.”
“Yeah, right! In your dreams.”
- There is a small child lost in the dark. In my dreams, she’s still there.
- She has fallen, and she waits. Will someone come? Might someone care?
- Her heart, she’ll give you, her love be true. Where’s her Dragonborn, to save her, to never let her go?
Rigmor smiled and said, “You told me how much you liked it, held my hand, kissed me, and… grabbed my arse!”
“I was checking for splinters.”
“Yeah, right, pffft!”
“Anyway, you kissed me just as passionately.”
“I think we were tempted to make love there and then but didn’t. Have we ever…umm…you know?”
“No, Rigmor, we have never you knowed.”
Rigmor’s upbeat mood was short-lived as she recalled, “We talked about my mum and how she was a schoolteacher and how everything changed….”
“I am pleased that this place has triggered many memories.”
“They killed my dad, Wulf! I don’t know if I want to remember.”
“All memories, good or bad, make you who you are. You have many people who love you and will help you face them but in your own time.”
“They make me who I am? How much about me do you know?”
“Tell me when I have bored you enough with my extensive Rigmor knowledge.”
“If I yawn, take that as a hint. If I hit you, you didn’t take the hint.”
“Okay, let me think….
- You breathe fourteen times per minute, like clockwork, when asleep.
- Your heart beats between sixty-five and seventy times per minute when asleep.
- You love red mountain flowers and red dresses.
- You named your horse after Baa’Ren-Dar.
- You had a best friend you met when she stole Jenny, a doll your father made you.
- That best friend’s name is LoonaShadow. Loona for short.
- You threw snowballs at the Bruma Guards and played rough and tumble with the boys.
- You loved to go to the relatively warm Imperial City, take your coat off and enjoy the sun on your face.
- Your mum taught you how to read and write.
- You loved to read for hours and were mute for months until you discovered Baa’Ren-Dar’s library one day.
- You studied fine art, poetry, and song.
- You have to sleep on your side because of the pain from your scars.
I stopped even though I could have gone on for ages. Rigmor had to face her demons, and I knew which memories contained them.
Rigmor said, “Keep going. I am not bored yet.”
I told her, “Ragnar taught you how to use a greatsword and made you use a bigger and heavier one each time you got used to the one you had. Swordmasters taught you more skills because Baa’Ren-Dar hired them at your request. You believe you should be like a son because your father said you had to be. I know Ragnar would be proud of the warrior you have become.”
“I don’t know about that, Wulf. I know there’s a part of me that fits the term warrior. But it seems so long ago I was ever that. I can’t envisage it right now. I don’t even want to.”
“You need to remember what you have done, but that does not mean you have to be what you were. I see no need for you to take up arms right now. Others may expect that of Rigmor, daughter of the ‘Beast of Hammerfell.’ You can tell them to shove that notion up their backsides. Being good with a sword is one tiny part of Rigmor Ragnarsdottier. It does not define who you are!”
“Can we change the subject? What else do you know of me?”
“You know how to wriggle your hips and posterior to maximum effect.”
“The hot springs! You pervert!”
“See, you are doing good, although I question which of us was the pervert.”
“Ahh…Mum and Dad…Cyrodiil. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to go home?”
“I told you I would take you wherever you decide is home. That is if you decided to leave me and….”
“Shush! I love you, and we have discussed this several times. I will always be there for you. I want us to experience life together, no matter the dangers or difficulties.”
“Yes, but you don’t remember all my secrets.”
“I knew them when I made that commitment. Therefore, the secrets that I am yet to remember are irrelevant. I want us to experience life together. I love you! How many times do I have to repeat those three words?”
“I have been so scared, Rigmor.”
“I know, my weird but beautiful Dragonborn. But there is no need to be scared any more. You are stuck with me, so get used to it!”
“That isn’t fair, Meeko. Wulf had every right to be sad and mopey.”
I laughed and said, “Once again, you have no idea what you just did.”
“What did I do?”
“Oh, I heard Meeko speak telepathetically!”
“The word is telepathically, and you didn’t realise you could do it the first time. Do you remember?”
“Yes, my memories are coming together, for good or worse. I guess I’ll have to face truths as they present themselves.”
“There are many who love you and can help.”
“I know some things I would rather not remember and some things about me I would rather forget for which I carry the scars.”
Rigmor was doing so well. Woe to anybody who drags her back into the darkness from which she has emerged!
Rigmor continued, “I know there are some things I have done that I am not proud of, but at least I don’t feel angry anymore. I just feel exhausted.”
“Why don’t you rest in the tent? I’ll watch over you.”
“You were humming a song as you walked towards me. I don’t think I know that one.”
“Oh, it is just something I picked up some time ago.”
“Please, would you sing it? For me?”
“Sing it? No…I don’t know….”
“There is nothing wrong with your voice. Please, it may help loosen some more memories.”
“Do you mean it about my voice?”
“I don’t do false flattery. I don’t lie. You have a fine voice.”
Rigmor sang, and her voice was exquisite.
- Come sail away with me, out of the darkness and into the light.
- Come sail away with me on a river of tears I’ve cried.
- Into the promised land, we can begin again.
- Lift up our hearts, and build a new society.
- Come sail away with me, out of the darkness and into the light.
- Come sail away with me on a river of tears I’ve cried.
- And we’ll have no fear of their swords and spears.
- Together, we’ll stand proud and tall, or together we will die and fall.
- The true price of freedom.
I waited for a few seconds, then said, “Like the last time you sang for me, that was truly amazing. Did you write that one as well?”
“No, it was a song I learned in Valenwood from an old Redguard. He’d been there since, I dunno, like forever.”
“Can you remember his name?”
“Don’t worry. His name might pop into your head when you don’t think about it.”
“I suppose I will have to get used to that!”
“As I said, you don’t have to face this alone.”
“Thank you, Wulf.”
I stood and placed another log on the fire.
I then said, “Why don’t you have that rest now? A good hour or two of sleep will help.”
“Will you sit close while I sleep in the tent?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Okay, I will. Just for a little while.”
“When you wake, we shall visit Whiterun and eat at my favourite inn. You will like that city.”
“I have said I wanted to see more of Skyrim.”
“Yes, you have, but riding the long roads has been too dangerous for us. But I think Whiterun would be a safe place to visit.”
“I am very hot, Wulf.”
“The concoction they gave you is still in your system.”
“Celestine said I have to purge it. I am not sure what that means.”
“Sweating, peeing, and pooping will remove the toxins.”
“Charming. I will sleep in my undies if that is okay. I don’t want to get my new outfit stinky with sweat.”
“Meeko and Hashire will give me warning of approaching danger. I will keep an eye on your things.”
“I had better not wriggle my hips.”
“No, that would be terrible!”
Rigmor laughed, removed her new outfit, and crawled into the tent.
A minute later, she was in a deep, untroubled sleep.
I contemplated moving the chair closer but realised Our Quiet was working.
I looked around and was confident nothing could sneak up on us.
I retrieved the book Savos had prepared for me from my Journal Case. Then I sat and read it.
The first part was Rigmor’s ancestral tree.
Emperor Titus Mede the First and a commoner called Rigmor of Cyrodiil had an illegitimate daughter, Morganna, in 4E 48. Rigmor of Cyrodiil died during the birth.
Ysolda was the only daughter of Morganna and was born in 4E 80. She was known as Ysolda the Witch or just The Witch.
A daughter, Fjona, was born to Ysolda in 4E 115. Ysolda died in 4E 115. The records are unclear if she died birthing Fjona.
Fjona was an imposing, red-haired mercenary warrior over six feet tall with long, curly red hair. Hence, she was known as Fjona the Red.
Fjona died birthing Ragnar Fjonasson in 4E 145. It seems that dying in childbirth was an unwanted trait of the lineage.
Rigmor was born in 4E 182 to Ragnar and Sigunn.
Rigmor is a great-time four Granddaughter of Emperor Titus Mede I.
Rigmor is a First Cousin of Emperor Titus Mede II, five times removed.
Rigmor of Cyrodiil was a mercenary who became a hero during the Oblivion Crises. She aided The Hero of Kvatch in closing an Oblivion Gate. She exited back to Mundus just before the Sigil Stone was struck. She also helped defend Bruma against waves of Daedra that emerged from three lesser Oblivion Gates. The strong defence of Bruma forced Mehrunes Dagon to open a Great Oblivion Gate that Martin Septim and The Hero of Kvatch then entered to retrieve, not destroy, a Sigil Stone.
Arch-Mage Savos Aren wrote that much more information would be forthcoming when I met with Jonte Malesam.
I was left with a mystery.
Rigmor is a distant relation to two Emperors of the Mede Dynasty. That does not make her unique enough for the gods to take notice. Other people I know have closer blood links to both emperors. For instance, Jarl Elisif is Emperor Titus Mede II’s niece via an illegitimate half-sister. Vittoria Vici is a well-known Solitude noble. She is a great-time three Granddaughter of Emperor Titus Mede I and a First Cousin, one place removed from Emperor Titus Mede II.
Mede blood carries no blessings, unlike my Septim blood, which is that of Saint Alessia. It would not be what makes Rigmor of interest to some Daedric Princes.
Rigmor’s Mede bloodline was interesting. However, what came next was a shock!
The College of Winterhold accepted a Royal Writ from Emperor Titus Mede I. They are to protect the descendants of him and Rigmor of Cyrodiil, maintain records of the bloodline and keep certain family heirlooms in storage.
According to the Royal Writ, representatives of The College of Winterhold are to be made available to descendants of Morganna as protectors and advisors. Jonte Malesam and Cerys have been allocated that position if Rigmor accepts the post of Countess or not.
The college has done as poorly as Azura regarding the protection of Rigmor.
The shocks were not over, and it is no wonder that Celestine urged me to read the book.
His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Titus Mede II, wants to offer the title of Countess of Bruma to Rigmor as compensation for the treatment of her family under his rule. Ragnar’s titles are to be reinstated and entered into the Book of Lists even if Rigmor refuses the title of Countess. Ragnar will not be pardoned because the accusations of The Dominion will be recorded as false and without merit. The edited histories will be corrected, and The Sons of Talos will be recognised as the heroes they are.
I looked over at my sleeping beloved and wondered what she would decide. Would it mean our farm is closer or further away from being? I will tell her as soon as she is well enough to handle this new twist to our story.
I allowed Rigmor’s body to decide when she woke. I wrote some journal entries as she slept.
Just over three hours since she lay down, Rigmor began to stir.
I offered my hand and helped her out of the tent.
Rigmor didn’t need my help to dress, and I stood before the fire waiting for her to finish.
Ten minutes later, Rigmor was ready to go.
She asked, “Are we going to the farmhouse?”
“Oh, yeah, you said that before I went to sleep. Cool!”
“Let me explain to Hashire what we are doing.”
“I am sure your horse will not care what we are doing.”
“I told you earlier that Hashire is not a horse.”
Hashire must have used those big, swivelling ears to listen in again. He had changed into his unicorn form.
Rigmor stared at him and exclaimed, “Hashire is a unicorn!”
I asked, “Does that bring back memories?”
“Yes, at Angi’s place. I saw him then.”
I said out loud, “Okay, Hashire. Normal horse and saddle, thank you.”
Hashire changed into a black horse.
- Hashire: Can you hear me, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Oh, more telepathetic stuff! Yes, I can hear you, Hashire.
- Hashire: I am delighted to see you making progress. However, I am concerned that you still love Wulf. Perhaps that stuff they gave you has scrambled your brains more than we thought?
- Rigmor: I remember that Wulf has a poor sense of humour. It seems you have caught his bad joke disease.
- Wulf: Ha, Dog Food, take that!
- Hashire: Rigmor insulted you at the same time.
- Wulf: Yes, but I don’t have an easily bruised ego.
- Hashire: Bastard!
- Wulf: Nag!
- Rigmor: Children!
- Wulf: Hashire, please return to the farm and summon Ren and Meeko.
- Hashire: I will, and Silah will be delighted with the gossip.
- Rigmor: Wulf, will a unicorn blab to a female dragon about us?
- Wulf: Yes. It will soon be all over Aetherius.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Rigmor: You like gossiping as well?
- Wulf: They have seen how sad and uncertain I have been. All my friends will be relieved, so it is more like important news than gossip.
- Meeko: Woof.
- Rigmor: Yes, I suppose if we had mated in the tent, that would have been gossip. But we don’t call it mating.
- Meeko: Woof.
- Rigmor: Meeko! They are rude and crude words for something that can be beautiful!
- Hashire: I haven’t heard some of those, Meeko. We shall have to make a list of all known words for mating.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: There is no way you know that many synonyms for mating.
- Meeko: Woof. Woof. Woof…
- Wulf: Okay, maybe you do, but we don’t need to hear them right now.
- Rigmor: I am famished, so let’s go!
We teleported into Breezehome.
Rigmor said, “I just had a conversation with a unicorn and a dog that isn’t a dog about gossip and rude words. Somehow, that seemed normal!”
“And your point is?”
“Well, did I used to think such weirdness was normal?”
“You were well on your way to being gobblygooked. It won’t take long to catch up to where you were.”
Rigmor shook her head, which was another quirk of hers.
She asked, “Are you going to show me around the house?”
“Nope. It is called Breezehome, and I’m not too fond of it as it is. It is too crowded and dim, and I have plans to renovate it. Till then, it is useful for entering Whiterun inconspicuously.”
“I remember bits and pieces of other places we have stayed.”
“Did Celestine talk to you about your memory?”
“Yes, she told me that the memories will return, and we shouldn’t try and force them. We have been doing the right thing and just letting them come.”
“Let’s get something to eat and drink. We can relax and make new memories.”
When we exited Breezehome, Rigmor looked around and remarked, “I’m falling in love with this place already.”
“Yes, it is beautiful, but I sense fear. The civil war weighs heavily on the people here, who are probably aware of The New Order. Usually, many children are playing in the streets. Even the market seems too quiet.”
“Whiterun has often been besieged, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, to conquer Skyrim, Whiterun needs to be taken as a priority. There have been some sizeable battles during the civil war. However, everybody knows that a siege of Whiterun would begin Ulfric’s final push for victory. Similarly, The New Order will also target Whiterun early in its campaign.”
“Is that the inn at the end of the street?”
“One of the inns, there is another one closer and another near the stables I frequent. But I prefer that one. It is called The Bannered Mare.”
“Come on then. Stop lollygagging!”
Rigmor rushed ahead. When I entered The Bannered Mare, she had already claimed a table. The inn wasn’t as crowded as usual, but that was a miracle!
I sat and had a quick look around. Nobody looked like bounty hunters, and most of them were familiar faces.
I relaxed and turned to Rigmor.
I remained silent as she did her familiar stare into infinity. The light and shade caused by the open firepit and moving people played across her face. I was still concerned for her, as I instinctively knew she was suppressing some things she didn’t want to remember.
About three minutes later, Rigmor turned to me with a worried expression.
She said, “It is nice and warm in here.”
“Do you want me to get you some food? A drink?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“You look worried.”
“I still feel a little confused, but I think all that before, you know, the anger. I think it has all gone now.”
“You only demonstrated your anger once, which is surprising considering how strange it must have been for you.”
“I was angry underneath, but I knew everybody was trying to help me and didn’t deserve another tantrum.”
“Have you remembered more since your sleep?”
“Yes, a lot more.”
“How about I throw a few yes and no questions at you? That will give me an idea of what you have remembered.”
“I just say ‘yes’ if I remember and ‘no’ if I don’t?”
“That is the idea. You can add more details and ask questions if that helps you confirm the memory.”
“Your father’s arrest?”
“The Bosmer gangmasters?”
“Your time in Torval?”
“Mostly. Is that alright to say?”
“Of course. I don’t expect you will have full recall.”
“Bruma Embassy before Baa’Ren-Dar rescued you?”
“Bruma Embassy when you sought revenge?”
“The time Angi found you and looked after you?”
“Your leap into the tree?”
“You were in and out of consciousness, so a vague memory of Rose is unsurprising.”
“I remember you and Celestine and others after my undies tantrum.”
“I was relieved because that tantrum indicated you would be okay.”
“Like the one at the farm was a relief to you?”
“Yes. Do you remember Fort Black?”
“Yes, and how you shot all those New Order sentries from a mile away in the dark.”
“I know you remember we found Sorella in a cell.”
“Oh, that scared me. I was terrible to you later because of that.”
“And I understood some of why that happened. However, I didn’t know your full story then.”
“No, you didn’t. I had to tell you piece by piece.”
“Our first trip to Riften?”
“You ignored my protests about that red dress. And you got a bit mad at Baa’Ren-Dar. And we were attacked by some Argonian mercenaries.”
“The hot springs?”
“Oh, I remember Mr Tibbs and that nice fossil lady.”
“Windhelm and Sethri?”
“What a dump!”
“Yes! He was so cute and cuddly.”
“She is adorable and very mature for a girl her age.”
“Please tell me he is blue, and that is not a false memory.”
“Yes, he is blue.”
“He is a close friend of yours.”
“I have many close friends that I have known far longer than Inigo. But he has become very special to me, and I think it is because of his limitless humour and compassion despite the darkness in his life.”
“Not unlike somebody else you know.”
“Careful, I bite!”
“Yes, and the pack of lies she said.”
“Everybody was terrified of her, and we walked in and wiped her out.”
“The New Order?”
“It is not surprising you don’t remember the altar. You were unconscious. The New Order did something to you, making your memory wobbly.”
“All over the place like a buckled carriage wheel.”
“Yes, it is wobbly. I like that word.”
“It is a good word, but not superb like Albatross!”
“If you say so, weirdo.”
“Do you remember what happened after you dropped the last flower?”
“We heard and felt most of the place collapse shortly after the bolt hit you. The place creaked and groaned as we quickly made our way outside. Then, as we descended, more of the place collapsed in a big cloud of dust. They hadn’t blindfolded me, and I could look around. I remember seeing a huge city carved into the rocks.”
“That would have been Markarth.”
“When we reached the bottom, Aedriath was furious! He had a big argument with some other New Order officers. They outranked him and issued orders. I don’t understand Aldmeri, so I had no idea what was happening.”
“They should have executed him!”
“The others placed a sack over my head, and then we travelled for ages. I remember a boat trip, and then they placed me in a cell and removed the hood. I was alone and in the dark and called for you. Why did I do that, Wulf? How could you help me?”
“I will know why I called for you when particular memories return.”
“Aedriath was not with them when they came for me.”
“Aedriath was trying to hold onto his toy and threw a tantrum when the grownups took it from him. He was not at the island stronghold when I got there.”
“Is that how he regarded me and why he was not with them? Do you know who the others were?”
“Aedriath had different plans, but they were his superiors in The New Order and overruled him. We can review that later when you are ready because some things are unpleasant.”
“What happened next?”
“I tried to struggle, but they hit me and forced me to drink something. Then all went black. That’s about it until I….”
Rigmor stared into infinity once more.
I was worried she was heading for a dark place within her thoughts, so I brought her back with a question.
She turned to me.
“I need to understand why you don’t want to carry a sword anymore. I have a theory, but please explain it to me to ensure I am correct.”
“I want my life back. I realise now that it was all a lie and that my life has never been mine. Not really. I want to discover myself without the point of my blade in someone’s guts, without blood in the dirt. I want to discover why I have this dream I keep having. What is she trying to tell me?”
Rigmor’s anger grew, and her voice became louder as she continued, “I don’t want to live with a killer inside me! I don’t want to have a ‘destiny’ or be the son I never was or could be!”
Rigmor was furious when she said, “I don’t want to care about that bastard anymore! I don’t want to be afraid or have to keep looking over my shoulder!”
Rigmor growled as she exclaimed, “I want to feel the sun’s warmth on my face again and go home. I want to be free, Wulf, and I don’t want to play this game anymore!”
Most of the people inside The Bannered Mare looked our way, recognised me and then pretended what was happening was none of their business.
I laughed, then said, “And there is the determined, confident Rigmor I adore. Welcome back!”
“By the gods. I feel sick. I remember everything!”
“Your memories, good and bad, make you who you are. Without them, you are somebody different and a shadow of the real you.”
“So, how do we move forward? What is next for us?”
“I don’t know, Rigmor. You don’t want to live with the killer inside you. How can you live with the killer opposite you?”
“No, we are not going there again, my silly Dragonborn! I love you!”
“I never want to leave your side. However, that is impossible if I am to continue as Champion of The Divines.”
“As long as you are by my side when you can be, that is all I ask of you. I thought you realised that we need each other, and that is all that matters?”
“I never want to break your heart. I never want you to regret our love.”
“I can’t think of anybody I would rather be with now or in the future.”
“Even if that is in small chunks as I get dragged all over the many planes by chaos? Even if you have to sit and wait as I enter the unknown with no certainty that I will return? You would be saying goodbye to me far more often than the wife of a soldier or sailor.”
“I will repeat my commitment to you a million times if I have to.”
“Not to me, Rigmor. The commitment is to us.”
“Yes, we need to be together.”
“I am glad we came here. Why don’t we relax and enjoy the music for a while?”
“Okay, but if that bard plays that Ragnar the Red song once again….”
“You will shove his flute or lute up his chute? At least Wilbur is better than Mikael, but I will go and warn him his anus is in danger!”
Rigmor laughed that laugh as I stood.
The inn became deadly quiet. Even if many tried to be discreet when snooping, I knew everybody watched and listened.
I quickly moved to Wilbur and asked, “Excuse me, Wilbur. Can I please make a request?”
“Certainly, Thane. What will it be?”
“Anything but Ragnar the Red.”
“Can I ask why? That is one of my most popular tunes.”
Rigmor yelled, “Because, arsehole, if you sing that song again, it will be your head rolling across the floor.”
Wilbur shouted his reply, “I’ll sing any song I jolly well like!”
Rigmor retorted, “Is that so? We will see about that!”
Rigmor got out of her chair and started walking towards Wilbur. He was stupid enough to stand there and stare at her with crossed arms. I quickly rushed to intercept Rigmor. Nobody tried to be discreet in their snooping any longer. This confrontation was first-class entertainment!
Vivienne, a young barkeep, stepped from behind the counter and stood defiantly before Rigmor.
She told Rigmor, “Get out! The Bannered Mare is a fine establishment, so get out before I call the guards!”
“Hey lady, get out of my face!” was Rigmor’s not-so-polite reply.
“Guards, guards!” yelled Vivienne.
There are always guards posted near the entrance of The Bannered Mare. They are quite happy to act as bouncers, and one soon came storming through the front door as Vivienne, Wilbur, and Rigmor stared at each other.
Murmurs rose in volume and swiftly ended as people wanted to hear what was happening.
I quickly stepped between the guard and Rigmor. She would kick him in the cobblers if he touched her.
“What is the problem, Vivien?” the guard asked.
“Get them out of here. They are both barred!”
I protested, “Hey, what did I do?”
The Whiterun Guard said, “Okay, you two, you heard the lady. Out you go!”
Rigmor replied, “Hey, this place stinks! We don’t care.”
The guard finally recognised me and stared in horror. He was evicting a Thane and thought that was not a brilliant career move.
I told him, “Relax, Guard Alfarnesson. You fought bravely beside me against the dragon. You are simply doing your duty and doing it well.”
“You remember me, Thane?”
“I made it a point to record all the names of those who faced that dragon. I apologise for Rigmor. I just rescued her from The Thalmor, and she is a bit disorientated.”
“Oh, I will ensure that Vivienne knows, but for now….”
“I had better remove Rigmor before she starts a riot.”
Rigmor waited at the door for me. Just as we were about to exit, Vivienne yelled, “I am disgusted. That is not how a lady is supposed to behave!”
Rigmor turned and replied, “Who said I was a lady?”
I whispered, “Come on, Lady Ramsbottom, before you get into a catfight.”
“I still owe you for that name, you peasant.”
We made our way outside and stopped halfway down the steps. Rigmor looked at me while trying valiantly to suppress a laughing fit.
I told her, “Thanks, Rigmor! I am probably the first Thane in the history of Skyrim to get tossed out of his local inn.”
“Hey, don’t mention it!”
Rigmor laughed, and I stood mesmerised.
When she finally calmed down, I said, “You are something. I am unsure what, but yes, you are something.”
“Where shall we go now?”
“I think we should stay the night in my Safehouse in Solitude. Tomorrow, I have to see General Tullius, and I might visit Thane Elisif the Fair. We will be safe there. However, while we are in Whiterun, I want to warn my friend, Ri’saad, about the possible invasion. Baa’Ren-Dar might have already warned him, but just in case, it won’t take long to visit him.”
“Ri’saad is a Khajiiti name.”
“Yes, he owns most of the Khajiiti caravans in Skyrim. He should be camped just outside the city gates.”
“I have seen many Khajiiti in Whiterun. Why is he camped outside?”
“Khajiiti are allowed in all the cities apart from Windhelm. However, they prefer to use their campsites outside the cities for trading as there are fewer time wasters and more space. If somebody tries to see them, they are likely a legitimate customer. I also think some of Ri’saad’s people are used to a nomadic life and find the cities noisy and crowded.”
“There is a spa bath in your Safehouse, right?”
“Yep. You can have a bath while I cook dinner.”
“Can you cook?”
“I have cooked you meals that you have enjoyed and survived.”
“Then lead on, banned from The Bannered Mare Thane of Whiterun.”
We held hands as we walked to the exit of Whiterun. Many local gossipers stared and whispered as we passed them. Rigmor raspberried a few, and I managed a rather loud fart as we passed by two elderly ladies giving us judgemental looks. They started gagging, but I am sure they will recover.
We soon made our way to Ri’saad’s caravan.
Before I could talk to him, Rigmor turned and said, “Wulf, follow me!”
I waved to Ri’saad as I chased after Rigmor. Kyne’s Peace was in effect, but it would only protect my beloved if I were close to her. There was also the risk of bounty hunters as we were not discreet.
Rigmor stopped on a ridge and stared across the plane.
I scanned the area and saw no danger. The tundra of Whiterun was different from The Rift. I suspected there was hidden beauty that Rigmor could spot and bring to my attention. However, that was something for the future. For now, we had to keep moving.
After a few seconds, I asked, “What is it, Rigmor? We have never been here, so it can’t be a memory.”
Rigmor turned to me and said, “It was here!”
“What was here?”
“The battlefield in my dreams. I remember Whiterun’s walls, and there was a storm.”
“Is this where the little girl brought you in your recurring dream?”
“But you never complete the dream, do you?”
“No, because when she tries to show me something, I get scared, and the dream ends. Has there been a battle here before?”
“Not for a long time. But this is where I expect one of the major battles with The New Order will happen soon. If they don’t fight us on this plane, then they will march at us along the main road near the stables. They may even try a two-pronged assault.”
“Then why the dream?”
“Most people with foresight can’t make much sense of their visions. That is why a lot of them turn to Azura for guidance. But yours seems different. It is like you are having a repeating premonition rather than a dream.”
“I’m sorry, what…?”
“The little girl is trying to tell you about the battle that may occur here soon. Only by looking at what she is pointing to will you know what that is.”
“But why? I don’t want to be in the battle! That is for soldiers, not me!”
“Can you remember what I have told you about premonitions and prophecies?”
“They are possibilities, not certainties.”
“Correct. However, even if you are nearby during the battle, you might not be fighting. You could be watching it unfold. But this is speculation. Once again, we might have to wait to figure it out.”
“You want to be here and fighting if this is where the war comes. Don’t you?”
“I don’t see how The New Order hopes to win since we have shown we are ready, but they will try. They are predictable and will attack Whiterun, as every other invader of Skyrim has done. I never want to fight, Rigmor. However, defeating The New Order at Whiterun will shorten the war and reduce the number of casualties. I kill quickly and efficiently so others survive. Therefore, I will fight The New Order here and not leave one of them alive!”
Sadness dominated Rigmor’s face.
“I am sorry, Rigmor. I didn’t mean to sound so bloodthirsty.”
“I know you hate killing, Wulf. It saddens me to think of you in the midst of a battle. Come on. I need a long bath and food!”
We teleported into The Safehouse.
Rigmor exclaimed, “Wow, so many memories all at once! This place is where you told me your parents are Saint Alessia and Lord Talos!”
“Yes, we were sitting in front of the fire.”
“You explained a lot of meta stuff to me.”
“Yeah, that stuff. And…oh my…you are a Septim and the legitimate heir to The Ruby Throne.”
“Some would think that.”
“But you don’t want to be emperor.”
“That lofty position would hinder what I do, and I can’t stand politics.”
“There is still something about us, Wulf, that is on the peripheral of my memory. I feel it is important.”
“I will not give you a clue, Rigmor. I think your subconscious is controlling the flow of your memories. It is protecting you by releasing bits and pieces.”
“That sounds like gobblygook.”
“There is a bit of science in there as well. I am a Physician.”
“Are there any of those comfy clothes I wear sometimes?”
“I have your kimono and sandals.”
“That’s the name! Umm, some clean undies would be good!”
“Follow me and select what you want from our collection.”
Rigmor followed me into the storage room.
We stood before some trunks, and I said, “The top two trunks contain an assortment of undies and brassiere. I am sure there are matching sets if that is of concern. All are brand new, and most were purchased by the ladies amongst The Blades, Dragonguard and Housecarls. We keep a large selection of clothing at each of my properties.”
“Okay, my loyal servant, you are dismissed while I select my undergarments. Please have the spa ready for me.”
“Yes, Lady Iva Ramsbottom.”
I entered the spa room and turned on the jets. The water being circulated was warmed by hidden Dwemer boilers.
A few minutes later, Rigmor arrived.
I told her, “The water will now be warm enough. I will leave your kimono and sandals on the bed. Take as long as you want, as preparing supper will take a while.”
I exited the spa room and closed the doors. I then changed into my kimono and headed for the kitchen.
My mother got me interested in cooking at an early age. I don’t indulge in it as often as I would like, so I thoroughly enjoyed preparing the night’s meal.
I finished and set the table just before a clean and refreshed Rigmor arrived.
I had made a spicy stew served in a bread trencher, which Rigmor enjoyed.
After discussing more memories, I decided that Rigmor was ready for the news about Bruma.
I told her, “Many things happened while you were with The New Order. I will not go into details yet, but I was told that The College of Winterhold wants you to visit and learn about your family history. You told me that you thought the Daedric Amulet of Talos and the sword had something to do with the college and that your mother didn’t know they existed.”
“Yes, that is one of the reasons I wanted to visit Skyrim. I wanted to go to the college and find out more information.”
“The college has a lot of information that I doubt either of your parents were aware of.”
“That sounds ominous, Wulf. Are you positive I am ready for this?”
“Yes, and I think the earlier you learn of it, the better informed and thought out will be your choices.”
“Okay. What is it?”
“I was only told part of it, but then I asked Celestine to visit the Arch-Mage and get more information. The Arch-Mage has written a book with much of what you need to know. We will learn more when we visit the college. I want you to read the book while I sit with you, and we can discuss what it says.”
“Okay, but let me help you clean up first. That might settle my nerves so I don’t vomit everywhere!”
“I cheat and use Magicka to clean the plates.”
“That is not cheating, Wulf. That is sensible!”
A few minutes later, we moved to the chairs before the fire. Rigmor sat, and I handed her the book the Arch-Mage had prepared. I then sat on the furs in front of her.
She said, “I am scared, Wulf. The last time we sat here, I learnt your secrets. Now I have secrets in my family that you say even my parents didn’t know.”
“It is nothing terrible, Rigmor.”
“Okay. Do I have to read it all, or can I ask questions as I go?”
“Do as you wish and ask as many questions as needed.”
“Okay, here goes!”
I watched many emotions cross Rigmor’s face as she read the book. At some points, she stopped and then read slowly, tracing the words. To my surprise, she read the entire book before asking a question. I was even more surprised at the first things she asked.
“Wulf, why did The New Order want me alive? Why was I fed that concoction? Has it something to do with what is in this book?”
“From the beginning, we suspected there was something more to The New Order’s plans.”
“Yes, and Lady Azura said they were working with a usurper from Oblivion.”
“That usurper is Malacath, and The New Order made an Oblivion Gate for him to enter Nirn. I am sure you have seen the remains of several Oblivion Gates around Bruma.”
“Yes, and I was taught about them by Mum.”
“And now you know your namesake, Rigmor of Cyrodiil, helped to destroy them and defend Bruma.”
“Yeah! That is cool!”
“Malacath was once an et-Ada demi-god called Trinimac and a warrior of Auri-El, much like I am a warrior for Lord Akatosh. Trinimac wanted to lead some Mer to a new land, and Boethia didn’t want him to. Subsequently, she defeated him in battle and turned him into Malacath.”
“I dimly remember a lesson about that. I wasn’t interested in that ancient history, and now you tell me I am knee-deep in it.”
“More like neck height at its shallowest.”
“Malacath could have stepped through the Oblivion Gate as he is, but the plan was to restore him. He was to enter the mortal plane as Trinimac. To enable him to do so, they needed a soul he could use and its Lifeforce.”
“Those arseholes wanted to use my soul! Were they going to sacrifice me?”
“But why me? Wouldn’t any soul do?”
“I think any victim that was prepared using the concoction would suffice. However, to attract devotees, they made up religious mumbo jumbo. The leaders of The New Order believed they needed a virgin with noble blood as the sacrifice. Originally, they were going to sacrifice a noble boy child, but he recently died in an accident. I think they knew of your Mede blood when they arrested your father. I am guessing a snitch within The College of Winterhold told them. After the death of the boy, you became their preferred sacrifice.”
“Could they tell if I am a virgin through some spell or other magic?”
“No, Rigmor, they would have to do a physical inspection. The condition of the maidenhead is a poor indicator of virginity, so it was senseless along with all the other religious mumbo jumbo.”
“So, they invaded my privacy for no logical reason. I am glad I was unconscious for that part.”
“Can you remember what Aedriath warned the Bosmer gangmasters?”
“They were warned not to rape me. That is when they started to beat me instead.”
“What does that suggest?”
“Oh, they must have considered me a potential sacrifice back then!”
“And you became expendable when they obtained the young noble boy.”
“How close was I to being sacrificed?”
“I rescued you from the sacrificial altar while the head priest chanted. At the most, you were minutes away from death.”
“Mum said you faced great dangers to rescue me.”
“I had to enter different parts of Oblivion and kill many Daedra and mortals. That is a story for another day.”
“Aedriath didn’t want me to be the sacrifice, did he?”
“No, he did not. I recovered his journal just before you were captured. He wanted to replicate what happened to Ragnar. He is insane, Rigmor, and thinks he will become a god.”
“He wanted to parade me through Alinor and publicly execute me as he did to Dad. No wonder Aedriath was annoyed when his superiors took me from him.”
“So, in a roundabout way, your Mede bloodline led you to that sacrificial altar.”
“And Lady Azura didn’t rescue me. You did!”
“Lady Azura didn’t even know who the usurper was. Lady Boethia told me about Malacath and where to find you. She lied as much as all other Dark Lords and only knew of your whereabouts because she has spies amongst The New Order.”
“All the bits of the puzzle are starting to fit together.”
“We still don’t know why Lady Azura showed such interest in you. There is a chance she knew about your Mede bloodline, but that is not unique. Many other people are closer relations to Mede emperors. And unlike my Saint Alessia blood, there is nothing special about Mede blood. It carries no blessings or powers.”
“Two hundred years means many generations before me carried Mede blood. Why not show interest in Dad or his ancestors? Why would gods show interest in me and not others?”
Rigmor is intuitive, and I think Our Quiet lets her read my mood with uncanny accuracy.
Rigmor asked, “Wulf, is it because we have Entwined Souls that gods are interested in me? You think that might be the case, don’t you?”
“Lady Boethia did not know I was The Dragonborn. If she didn’t know that, then it is obvious that Daedric Lords would be ignorant of your bloodline unless told, and there is no way they could detect our Entwined Souls. Lady Azura may have known of your Mede heritage via her seers and not some non-existent ability. She is the only god we know for certain that has shown interest in you, Rigmor.”
“But still, Lady Azura showed interest in me and not the many other people with Mede blood.”
“We don’t know that. Lady Azura may have been trying to manipulate hundreds of lives. We must concentrate on what we know and put aside some unanswered questions.”
“My Dad’s name and reputation will be restored. That will make Mum very happy.”
“And His Imperial Majesty will do that even if you reject the position of Countess.”
“What happened to Count Carvain?”
“I don’t know.”
“What about his wife and Sofia, his daughter?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps we shall find out when we visit The College of Winterhold? The vacancy in Bruma must be very recent. Otherwise, we would have heard about it. Maybe if I ask Jarl Elisif, she will know.”
“I am eighteen years old, Wulf. How could I run a County?”
“Your empathy is the most important qualification. Advisors would assist with the day-to-day responsibilities.”
“I just want a normal life! What about our farm, Wulf? No, I couldn’t do it and won’t do it.”
“Being Countess would not require you to sit in a castle every day and would leave plenty of time for us to enjoy the farm. You could do it, Rigmor!”
“What makes you think I am capable of being the Countess of Bruma?”
“When you see a beggar, what is your first impulse?”
“To do what you do. I want to give the beggar some money so they can have a meal.”
“What do you think when you see a beggar?”
“Why, when wealth surrounds them, are they forced to beg?”
“And there is the empathy I said is your most important qualification. It is impossible to eliminate homelessness as mental illness is often involved. However, a few charitable coins are a temporary solution. As a countess, you could make changes in Bruma to reduce the need for people to beg. But if you provided shelter for those who can’t earn a living, the insane and mentally ill would also benefit. You could be a real noble.”
“A noble who serves the people. That appeals to me.”
“The politics of Cyrodiil are infamously dirty and convoluted. The Mede dynasty has reduced the open warfare between Counties, but His Imperial Majesty has no heirs. He has lost two sons under the age of twenty. His daughter was only ten when she and his wife were lost at sea. The future stability of Cyrodiil and The Empire will depend on who His Imperial Majesty names as Heir Apparent.”
“You think I would not have much to worry about politically while Mede still lives?”
“I think he will protect you but would have to be careful.”
“If others think I am a favourite, they may start plotting my downfall.”
“See, there is nothing wrong with your political sense. You would do fine in that department.”
“And you would be there to help me!”
“Rigmor, I would be like a fish out of water concerning the politics of Cyrodiil.”
“If I can ever bring myself to wield a sword again, I could introduce diplomacy with a greatsword. That would be far more interesting!”
“Yes, the ability to chop political opponents in half is an essential skill of any young countess.”
“My farts would smell like roses!”
“You could dictate what songs can be sung in Bruma’s inns and taverns.”
“No more Ragnar the Red!”
“Your grandmother was Fjona the Red.”
“Ragnar the Red combines the name of Dad and Gran. No wonder I hate the song!”
“Any other questions?”
“For some reason, the name Jonte Malesam seems familiar.”
“We found his journal when we rescued Sigunn, and I read it to the group. He was a spy for Boethia and acted as a liaison between his mistress and me. He abandoned his mission when The New Order vandalised Azura’s shrine.”
“What is he like?”
“I disliked him intensely, but his daughter, Cerys, is quite nice. Celestine knows her and says she is one of the kindest people she knows. She is probably a few years older than me and would be a helpful ally amongst the crusty old men who serve you as advisors.”
“Well, the Arch-Mage is probably a smart arse like you and therefore has excellent reasons for making Malesam my advisor. As for being my protector, that position is already taken.”
“By somebody that I know?”
“Yeah, he is weird and has a terrible sense of humour.”
“You have done very well, Rigmor. This information was a lot to absorb after being bombarded by returning memories. However, I thought you remembered enough to put it in context.”
“This information has helped me realise why certain things occurred in the past and now.”
“Can you remember why you thought the Daedric Amulet of Talos and the sword led to The College of Winterhold?”
“One of Baa’Ren-Dar’s soothsayers told us that.”
“The soothsayer may have had a vision that Lady Azura interpreted. She then instructed them to tell you and Baa’Ren. When she claims to manipulate people, that is how she does it. Father has used the same tactic to influence His Imperial Majesty on who to choose as general of the combined armies.”
“I will probably think of more questions later.”
“Then let us head outside. The moons will not rise for many hours, so the aurora should be spectacular.”
I didn’t mention Cyrodiil’s coverture laws. That is a discussion for another day.
We exited onto the huge balcony. From it, we could see over the city walls and for miles around Solitude.
Rigmor was fascinated by the people below. I asked, “Are you wondering what they are doing?”
“Yes, and I can see that some couples are moving slowly, with hands held or intertwined arms. They are lovers or married people. Many children are running around, as they probably have been doing most of the day. I am surprised to see them at this hour.”
“The streets of Solitude are safe. I can see a child I know is an orphan I sent to my orphanage here. The carefree attitude displayed is what a child’s life should be like, and adult worries and other problems should not intrude. I was saddened to see no children doing the same in Whiterun. The streets there are just as safe and usually full of laughing children.”
“My friends and I were the same in Bruma, Wulf. We would also range far and wide in the countryside as most predators had been removed and bandits were rare. I missed the transition between carefree child and adult.”
“Many people I see below are weary from their day’s labour and are heading for a well-earned sleep. All those normal, innocent people are what I fight for, Rigmor. Most are content to have a simple home, fair pay for their labour and safety for their family. The New Order wants to deny them these things and will not be the last who try to do so during my lifetime.”
“What about in Akavir?”
“Most people on Nirn do not want war, do not hate other races and support freedom of religion. The Altmer are a good people, and they have far more in common with Nords than differences. The same with the races of Akavir.”
Rigmor looked up and said, “The aurora is brilliant, as you said it would be! You once told me a tale about the aurora.”
“When I wrote it in my journal, I improved the grammar slightly. Would you like to hear my new version of the folk tale? It is a lot more flowery and poetic.”
“Yes, please, I would love that.”
“When souls ascend to Aetherius, their sorrow dissipates, no matter how arduous their earthly existence had been. They retain vivid recollections of their past and bask in the knowledge that they have reached their eternal abode, leaving behind all worries and tragedies. They remain aware of the suffering endured by those they left behind, yet also carry the solace that one day their loved ones will join them in Aetherius, where they too shall find serenity and release from burdens.
Those who were once aged, infirm, or afflicted with physical impairments find themselves rejuvenated upon entering Aetherius. Even the Minotaur, who had their wings cruelly torn from them by racist captors, are restored in this realm of boundless compassion.
Within the celestial realm of Aetherius, souls revel in profound joy, gracefully swaying with lanterns in hand that emit iridescent hues to colour the aurora. The lanterns sway to the rhythmic cadence of their enchanting dance, causing the waving of the aurora. Minotaur, now soaring freely, share in their mirthful laughter, traversing between the dancing spirits.”
“That is wonderful! Do you write poetry?”
“I did when a child, but for many years my writing has been academic. Although imbued with emotion, my journals are matter-of-fact and are not quality prose. Perhaps one day I will have the time to write purely for enjoyment once more.”
“What about the stars? You told me they talk to you, but what are they made of?”
“You would know that when you get away from the lights of a city, you see more stars. They are even there during the day, but you can’t see them because of the bright sun.”
“Some say that they are holes made by Magnus and the others when they refused to join The Divines in creating Nirn.”
“That is religious mumbo jumbo. The scientific explanation is far more interesting. The stars are other suns, like ours but far away. There are planets like Nirn with people so weird in looks and manners we can’t imagine them that orbit those distant suns. I saw some souls of beings from other worlds float by in The Void when I was…I was…”
“When you were on your way back to me.”
“Yes, if you want to look at it that way.”
“Well, the other sun idea is far more interesting than holes! What about the moons? It is a pity we can’t see them at the moment.”
“They are New Moons tonight, so they will only be skinny crescents. They are made of cheese.”
“Hahaha! You don’t believe that, do you?”
“Khajiiti, like all cats, love milk. But big round blobs of milk would not last long up there. The next best thing to milk is cheese. Therefore, the Khajiiti gods made big cheese balls that could survive. Khajiiti, being cats, love cheese, which is why they worship the moons.”
“I can tell you are lying, my Guardian.”
“Your mouth is moving.”
“Ouch, my wounded pride!”
“Do you like camping? We haven’t had a chance as it has been too dangerous.”
“I would rather sleep out under the stars than in some inn.”
“Well, we won’t be able to book a room at The Bannered Mare for some time.”
“That laugh! Remember when you were so angry in Windhelm, and then we talked.”
“Another of my ‘take it out on Wulf’ moments. Yes, I remember we sat and talked, and I laughed about naming my horse after Baa’Ren-Dar and his growls.”
“We had just finished talking about some of the darkest of times. You survived horrors that would crush most people and turn them bitter. You still didn’t know if Sigunn lived or where she was.”
“You cried as I told my tale. It wasn’t the first time, and I knew why. You were with me when I was that dark cell and when they flogged when I was fourteen. You came to me when I called after I fell near Angi’s. When I leapt into the trees near Riverwood, you came to me. That is why I called for you again when captured by Aedriath. But you couldn’t come, for you were in The Void. You loved me but were afraid I would reject you. That fear is still with you, my silly Dragonborn.”
“Yes, and that fear causes havoc whenever we are apart.”
“Wulf, will you make love to me?”
I turned and stared at my beloved.
After a few seconds, she laughed and said, “Don’t look so stunned. An answer would be nice.”
“Are you sure? That is a big step to take and.….”
“Shh! You have woken the woman in me. You found her and dragged her out into the sunshine. Now she is here, and I love and want you. I have never been so sure of anything in my whole life.”
I stood like an idiot. Mouth open, not knowing what to say.
“I will take that blank look as yes. Give me five minutes. I will wait for you in the bedroom.”
As Rigmor entered the Safehouse, I thought about what this meant.
Did I think this would be a mistake? Did I have reservations? Not for a second! I am not a slave to lust. I do not have this overwhelming need to experience the pleasures of the flesh. I do not judge those who pursue such things with willing partners. Rigmor and I are deeply in love. I knew she wanted and needed this for far more complex reasons than lust, and so did I.
The question of the life offered by Mede made me pause. Should she know of my reservations about marriage under Coverture laws before we take this next step? We have anticipated this moment, and if it weren’t for her capture, we would have made love days ago. No, this was the right time, and nothing changed that.
I waited a few minutes, then made my way to the bedroom. My beloved sat naked on the bed, her scar riddled back prominent in the bright lighting.
Rigmor said, “This is not the bed I once slept in.”
“No, I didn’t like it. It was too chunky.”
Rigmor was very nervous, and so was I.
I told her, “I am a virgin, Rigmor. I was positive I would meet you again after that first time when you were fourteen. I have had many offers from males and females I admire and respect, but I wanted you to be my first and only lover. Many of those I have told of that desire thought I was insane or naive. However, nobody else experienced the connection we had then and have rediscovered. Nobody understood my intuitive certainty that we would be together again.”
Rigmor answered, “That is beautiful, Wulf, but I was hoping you would know what to do!”
I laughed and suggested, “I could grab a couple of illustrated manuals from the museum library.”
“We shall learn together, Rigmor.”
I disrobed and walked towards my beloved.
She asked, “But I am wretched and ugly. How can anyone love me?”
“You are the most beautiful woman on Nirn, and I love you more than life itself.”
“But my body is scarred. I’ll understand if you don’t want to.”
“Your scars, temper, eyes, laugh, determination, and a million other parts go together to make the woman I love.”
I stood in front of Rigmor, but she was averting her eyes.
Finally, she looked, but not into my eyes.
She gasped and said, “Oh, my!”
Together, we unravelled the secrets of kissing and instructed one another on the precise placement, timing, and intensity of each tender touch.
Laughter and bashfulness gradually transformed into sighs, moans, and confidence as we embarked on a journey of exploration, discovery, and profound affection.
In the presence of my desire, Rigmor’s insecurities about her beauty vanished.
When her heart and body signalled readiness, Rigmor guided me gently, paving the way for our intimate connection to unfold.
Initial twinges of discomfort yielded to an insatiable longing, allowing us to proceed slowly, steadily, and blissfully.
And then, in perfect harmony, we merged as one.
All but we ceased to exist.
No sounds prevailed except for our synchronised breaths, our collective exhalations of pleasure and desire.
No fragrances lingered in the air except for the mingling scents of our hair, breath, sweat, and passion.
No flavours remained upon our tongues, save for the taste of our entwined lips, the sweat upon our skin, and the bittersweet essence of tears shed in ecstasy.
Every sensation revolved around exchanging pleasure, the simultaneous offering and receiving of delight.
Guilt had no place here, and doubts were banished, for we had willingly shared our bodies, souls, and love.
It felt undeniably right.
It was an exquisite beauty, unparalleled in its grandeur.
Rigmor’s climactic peaks served as a jubilant celebration of womanhood itself. And as fate would have it, her ultimate crescendo coincided harmoniously with mine.