Fredas, 21st Sun’s Dusk 4E 201
to Sundas, 23rd Sun’s Dusk 4E 201
I was surprised when Rigmor contacted me the day after we met in Bruma.
She asked, “Can I spend a few days with you?”
“Sure, as soon as Cerys learns the spells.”
“She has learnt them. We have been practising summoning and teleporting small distances.”
“Wow, that was quick. The spells are complex, so I thought it would take Cerys longer to learn them.”
“She said your spellbook was the best she has ever read, which made it easier.”
“What about the three days of court that was scheduled?”
“Mum said she will handle the last days. It is only minor disputes and other boring stuff. However, Cerys wants to ensure the spell works over a longer distance.”
“It will, and logically, Cerys knows that. But to ease her worries, tell her I will summon you, and then a minute later, she can summon you back to Bruma.”
“Okay, she is here, and I will tell her.”
A few seconds later, Rigmor said, “Okay, you can summon me now.”
I summoned Rigmor, who stood before me a second later with her arms crossed.
She said, “I blame you!”
“Blame me for what?”
“Last night, Freathof was seen walking arm in arm with an elderly widow and entering her house. He returned home just after our morning meal and sheepishly went to his room.”
“Good on him! I hope he didn’t hurt his back! And why is it my fault Freathof got to bump nasties with the widow?”
“A common saying from the backwater in which I was raised. Anyway, that sounds like gossip. Who tattled on Freathof?”
“Guards gossip. I just happened to overhear some of it.”
“Yes, of course.”
“And how is it my fault?”
“You asked a question that reminded him of his past boot-knocking.”
“Then I plead guilty.”
“Oh, I am being summoned.”
“Well, off you go. I will follow in a second.”
Rigmor faded from view. I used Mara’s Rings to teleport to her.
- Wulf: I am impressed, Cerys. They are complex spells, and you mastered them quicker than most mages I gave them to.
- Cerys: Nearly all spell books are full of; what was that word you told me, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Mumbo-Jumbo.
- Cerys: Yes, that’s it.
- Wulf: I’m not too fond of superfluous words. I much prefer the KISS method.
- Cerys: KISS method?
- Wulf: Keep It Simple Stupid. By applying that method when writing anything, I try to be concise or risk looking stupid.
- Cerys: Why was the magic lost?
- Rigmor: Wulf told me once that a Dragon Break probably caused it.
- Wulf: Yes, that is the standard theory. When Jills repair a Dragon Break, they stitch together the best set of parallel timelines that will produce an acceptable single timeline. That can cause anomalies, such as much of Cyrodiil being covered by a jungle in one set of histories and typical deciduous forests now. If teleportation was only known by a few mages in one of the combined timelines, that might become the dominant truth after the stitching.
- Cerys: That makes me dizzy thinking about it.
- Rigmor: What’s the word, Cerys?
- Cerys: Gobblygook.
- Wulf: The Psijic Order never lost the ability to teleport. They can do it better than me as they don’t cast a spell but will themselves from location to location. I gained some clues on the metaphysics of teleportation from observing them and figured out the spells from there. I know a lot of mages have been researching teleportation with different levels of success. The next thing I must tackle is portals.
- Cerys: I have heard many conflicting stories about The Psijic Order.
- Wulf: They are primarily Altmer, so, therefore, they have a natural arrogance. But they have Nirn’s and Mundus’ best interests in mind despite their seeming elitist attitudes. They were invaluable advisors to Nirn’s rulers until magic and mages started getting blamed for all the woe besetting this world.
- Rigmor: So, where are we going?
- Wulf: We shall spend today pottering around my farm in Whiterun’s tundra. Tomorrow, I think a day at Dragon’s Keep would be fun.
- Cerys: Dragon’s Keep is your new orphanage.
- Wulf: Yes, it is half full already. It helps that General Tullius agreed to provide a garrison of Legionnaires. They will be rotated every few months and are preferable to private guards.
- Cerys: Is it in a dangerous area?
- Wulf: During the civil war, the Whiterun tundra became bandit territory. Many bandit groups on the fringe, near the main roads, have been eliminated. However, thousands are still inside their caves and old forts. Several dragons act as guards, so I am confident the children are safe.
- Rigmor: Okay, I must be back on Sundas morning as some trade delegation from High Rock is visiting.
- Wulf: Well then, let us be off.
- Cerys: Thank you for trusting me with the spells, Wulf.
Cerys handed me the spell book. I handed her a ring and said, “Put this on.” When she did, she gasped in surprise.
- Wulf: I make those rings and give them to any mage who joins The Dragonguard. It increases the effectiveness of all spells, reduces the Magicka required to cast them, increases your Magicka reserves and accelerates Magicka recovery.
- Cerys: It must be worth a fortune!
- Wulf: It is. But no mage would sell it for, as you now know, it makes them far more powerful.
- Cerys: I would never sell it, Wulf.
- Wulf: I wasn’t suggesting that, Cerys. I trusted you with the spells, didn’t I?
- Cerys: Sorry, I am not used to receiving praise or presents.
- Rigmor: I think the only reason Wulf agreed to your father being my advisor is you, Cerys.
- Wulf: Partly. I trusted Arch-Mage Savos Aren had spent considerable time selecting your advisor. However, I guessed that you, Cerys, would prove invaluable as Rigmor began her new duties. Imagine if you weren’t here!
- Rigmor: I would have resorted to my sword by now!
- Cerys: Haha, I can believe that.
- Wulf: Come, Milady Hjoydis the Stout, let us be off.
- Rigmor: Hjoydis the Stout?
- Wulf: You need a new name each time you visit.
- Rigmor: Are you suggesting I am a bit short and wide?
- Wulf: Not at all. Well, how about Rigif Brittle-Leg?
- Rigmor: How about I break your leg?
- Cerys: Ahem.
- Wulf: Do you have a suggestion, Cerys?
- Cerys: Rigmor’s accent, especially since she has been back in Bruma and surrounded by her people, is not that of Skyrim. She should not pretend to be a Skyrim Nord. I suggest a more Cyrodiilic name.
- Rigmor: Do you have one in mind?
- Cerys: What about Ingun Berg? I had a friend from Cyrodiil named Ingun, and Berg is quite common in Bruma.
- Wulf: Yeah, a lot of people are called Ice Berg.
- Rigmor: Ignore the idiot. Cerys. That is an excellent suggestion. We could have been here all day while Wulf listed more stupid names.
- Wulf: How long before I dump Ingun Berg for being annoying?
- Rigmor: Won’t your stewards at the farm recognise me?
- Wulf: We can’t fool everybody, Rigmor. Besides, you are Ivanitchy Ramsbottom to them.
- Rigmor: Okay, let’s get going!
- Wulf: Didn’t I say that not so long ago?
- Rigmor: Wulf!
- Wulf: Okay, we shall stop at Aurane first.
Cerys giggled as Rigmor and I teleported to Aurane. Meeko was with the children and barked to inform them that I was home.
Rigmor quickly changed into her favourite kimono. Just before we got to chatting, there was a knock on my door, and I permitted Sakura to enter.
Sakura, one of the teenage girls sold by Grelod into enslavement, entered and stood next to Rigmor.
She and the other rescued girl, Zoe, had a hardness to them. Even if older than the other orphans, below the surface, were young girls subjected to horrors similar to Rigmor’s.
- Wulf: Good morning, Sakura.
- Sakura: Good morning, Wulf. Are you Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Yes, I am.
- Sakura: You are one of the secrets I have to keep. Olette explained why, so don’t worry, my lips are sealed.
- Rigmor: Hopefully, one day soon, such secrets won’t be needed.
- Sakura: Only if Wulf kills all the bastards like Grelod!
- Wulf: Hey, I didn’t kill her.
- Sakura: Exposing Maven Black-Briar was a death sentence for Grelod whether you did the dirty deed or not.
- Rigmor: Would you have killed Grelod if given the chance?
- Sakura: What do you reckon?
- Rigmor: Yes, you would, and I understand. Only those who have been enslaved fully comprehend how it changes you.
- Sakura: That is why I wanted to meet you. I didn’t know you would be here today. I was going to ask Wulf when you would be visiting.
- Rigmor: Well, Sakura, how can I help?
- Sakura: Zoe and I had each other. Olette cried when she told me your story. I can’t imagine living through enslavement without another person sharing the burden.
- Rigmor: My mother said the same, and she was enslaved for four years. However, not long before we rescued her, they moved her away from those she was close to. She made some new friends, but it became much more challenging for her as she didn’t have those close bonds.
- Sakura: Do you know what happened to her old friends?
- Rigmor: No, they are enslaved outside The Empire, and we don’t know where. When we rescued her, the people with Mum returned to their homes. They came from many different provinces.
- Sakura: Wulf, will they find the other’s that Grelod betrayed?
- Wulf: The Penitus Oculatus had a list of six orphans sold into slavery within Evermore by Grelod. Farmer Montitte provided that list. They rescued four of them. The other two have run away and most likely perished trying to return to Skyrim. We don’t know how many children Grelod betrayed, but she was only in charge of the Orphanage for a short time.
- Sakura: Zoe and I know we were fortunate to be sold to Farmer Montitte and not a brothel owner.
- Rigmor: Is Farmer Montitte a Breton?
- Sakura: Yes, and Zoe and I tried hard not to feel pity for him, but we did. We didn’t get to see many other people, but we believed the horror stories Farmer Montitte told us. The way the farmers are treated there is terrible. Many of them are starving despite having very productive farms. He always apologised, kept us fed and clean, and provided good bedding and clothes. But we had no freedom, and even if we escaped the farm, we had no idea where to go.
- Rigmor: I had no rights, no life. I had no hope, and I was scared. I remember asking myself repeatedly, why can’t I go home?
- Sakura: That sums it up. I knew you would understand. But why has The Empire allowed this to happen?
- Rigmor: I know that His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Titus Mede II, is concerned about that part of High Rock, but The Empire is fragile, and he dares not intervene in internal politics. However, when told about slavery in Evermore, he may risk intervention.
- Wulf: King Tristynak inherited a kingdom of chaos from Queen Arzhela. The nobles were racist and isolationist. Despite the evidence to the contrary, they believed the suppression of commoners and other races was the best way to maintain wealth and power. They cared little for their citizens.
- Rigmor: Wulf hates nobles like that!
- Wulf: King Tristynak tried to change things and was assassinated for his efforts. The official story is he died of natural diseases, but they burnt his body before Imperial mages sent by Mede could examine it. Since his death, they have resumed their suppression of the masses. I don’t think it can be left as it is for much longer. Large numbers of Orsimer are fleeing Evermore into Hammerfell and Skyrim. The Reachmen, for the first time in decades, are starting to make alliances between tribes. Oh, excuse me for rambling on, Sakura. This history is probably dull and irrelevant to you.
- Sakura: On the contrary, Wulf, my parents, although farmers, were well-read and provided a good education for me. They didn’t want me to be a farmer or a good wife and were saving to send me to college or elsewhere to learn a trade. They were waiting for me to make up my mind on what I wanted to be. Then those Stormcloaks attacked.
- Rigmor: That must have been terrifying.
- Sakura: You know what it is like, Rigmor. I wanted to help protect my parents, but they hid me in a small room under the floor. I didn’t know it was there until they opened a trapdoor, and I had no time to ask questions. We would have been caught unawares if our Khajiiti farmhand, Dharri, had not screamed when they plunged their swords into his belly. The last thing I said to Ma and Pa was the promise to stay hidden and that I loved them. Then I was in the dark, and I heard everything.
- Rigmor: Oh, Sakura….
- Sakura: They knew about the money my parents had saved and threatened to harm Ma unless Pa told them where it was. He didn’t hesitate and opened the secret panel on the kitchen wall where it was stashed. The Stormcloaks laughed and told him he was a fool. Then they asked where his little girl was, as they needed some entertainment. Pa lied and told them I was visiting my cousin. I had never heard Pa lie before, but he must have been convincing because The Stormcloaks didn’t come looking for me. Instead, they…they…
- Wulf: There is no need to relive it, Sakura. We know what they did. Kishirra was in charge of Honourhall Orphanage till the dragons attacked Riften at the beginning of Hearthfire. Yet you were enslaved for six months or more.
- Sakura: Grelod acted as a placement broker for Kishirra. Nobody suspected anything as letters would arrive from the placed orphans. I bet those letters weren’t found when the orphanage was searched.
- Wulf: No, they weren’t. So, Kishirra trusted Grelod.
- Sakura: Yes, and so did Zoe and me. Farmer Montitte ordered us to write fake letters, but we refused. We knew the purpose of the letters and that he would not harm us. He knew we would not run away. The fear of Evermore and its surroundings was as effective as prison bars or shackles. You said others seem to have perished, which suggests our choice was wise.
- Wulf: Have you decided what you want to do?
- Sakura: Zoe and I will try different things. The cooks will teach us if we are willing to do the kitchen chores. We can learn some alchemy and see if that suits us. We don’t want to be farmers, but growing reagents might be interesting. At the moment, we don’t know, Wulf.
- Wulf: Take your time, Sakura. There is no age limit here, unlike the orphanage. I also have other properties, so another placement is possible if you find nothing suitable in Aurane.
- Sakura: Thank you again, Wulf.
- Wulf: When I see you smiling, which won’t be far in the future, that will be all the thanks I need.
- Sakura: You laugh. Rigmor laughs. So perhaps I will again.
- Rigmor: Oh, you will. The Dragonguard and others in Aurane are lovely people.
- Sakura: Olette is special. Meeko is a big softy.
- Rigmor: I call Wulf a big softy.
- Sakura: I had better get to the kitchen. I promised to help with lunch and scrub some pots.
- Rigmor: You and Zoe can talk to me whenever I visit, Sakura.
- Sakura: Thank you, Rigmor. And yes, Wulf is also a big softy.
Sakura ran off, and Rigmor looped her arm through mine.
She asked, “Where to, my Guardian?”
“Let’s enter the chaos of Aurane and see what is happening before we head to the farm.”
I introduced Rigmor to our new Khajiiti Dragonguard.
- Wulf: S’in Dunestride and Do’Qua’Der, I am honoured to introduce Countess Rigmor Ragnarsdottier of Bruma.
- S’in: Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar’s lost cub is known to me, although she may not remember.
- Rigmor: I am sorry. I met so many people in Baa’Ren’s palace in Torval.
- S’in: Many of them would have been me! I visited often but wore disguises.
- Rigmor: I hope you didn’t shave off that fabulous mane!
- S’in: It was a minor sacrifice compared to what others have done for New Elsweyr.
- Rigmor: You, Do’Qua’Der, should also be proud of your mane.
- Do’Qua’Der: Oh, I am. Although I often think how much easier life would be without it. Many hours go into grooming that could be spent on drinking or other activities.
- Rigmor: And how are both of you handling Wulf’s weirdness?
- S’in: Baa’Ren has often commented that Wulf is unique. He might not know all of Wulf’s secrets, but he suspects he is far more than a Dragonborn. I know he will be curious, but I understand that some things must be kept from him. That is the most significant adjustment, Countess.
- Rigmor: I understand. Some people close to me are also ignorant of some things.
- Do’Qua’Der: I have found the Ka’Po’Tun the hardest thing to adjust to. They are Khajiiti but are not Khajiiti. It is a strange thing. However, they are wonderfully warm and patient with me as they chip away at my ignorance.
- Rigmor: Very few people in Tamriel get to meet people from Akavir.
- Do’Qua’Der: They have piqued my interest in the other races of their homeland, though they are not complementary of the Tsaesci.
- Wulf: I wonder how my friends are doing with the airship?
- S’in: Vayu, another of your slightly odd friends, told us that Miraak shaped some Star Glass crystal from one of your estates into the correct shape. The carved crystal perfectly fits into the Dwemer boiler and now powers the machinery and dweomer.
- Wulf: Professor Marassi and Madras are probably doing more gawking than helping.
- Do’Qua’Der: Vayu said Madras’ help deciphering the Dwemer diagrams has been invaluable. Madras reluctantly conceded that the Dwemer copied much of the airship’s design from the Ayleid.
- Rigmor: A Welkynd will fly an airship powered by a Welkynd!
- Wulf: That is like you flying one powered by hot air!
- Rigmor: I think that was an insult. What do you say, S’in?
- S’in: Ahh, I think we had better…um…go over there. Yes, that is it. Come along, Qua’Der.
The Khajiiti made a rapid, tactical retreat while I lost a staring contest with Rigmor.
While Rigmor basked in the glory of her victory, we chatted with other household members.
I wanted to speak to Zoe and was told she was on the roof with Olette, so that is where we headed.
I looked up at Mother’s statue.
And then we approached the girls.
Zoe stood to talk to us. She always did it and probably regarded it as polite.
- Wulf: Good morning, ladies.
- Olette: Zoe, that is Rigmor. She is now the Countess of Bruma.
- Zoe: Good morning, Wulf and Countess.
- Rigmor: Please, Zoe, call me Rigmor.
- Zoe: We came on the roof to look at Saint Alessia’s statue. She is beautiful!
- Wulf: Indeed, she is. That was what Mother looked like when she started The Slave Rebellion. She was still beautiful when she died many years later.
- Zoe: Olette said her hand is grasping for freedom.
- Wulf: Saint Alessia often had visions of possible futures. She is trying to reach for one that shows her people free of enslavement. However, she knew it would be hard to achieve, and prayed to the gods to help her.
- Zoe: But even with the help of Lord Akatosh, it was many years of war and effort before they won their freedom.
- Wulf: That’s right. Did you learn about Saint Alessia at school?
- Zoe: Like Sakura, I was home-schooled. It is uncanny the similarities between her upbringing and mine.
- Rigmor: Are you missing Wujeeta, Olette?
- Olette: Yeah, but she deserved the governess position.
- Wulf: I haven’t decided yet.
- Olette: Didn’t you hear me? I said that Wujeeta deserved the governess position!
- Rigmor: Lady Olette Septim has spoken!
- Wulf: I haven’t signed the adoption papers!
- Zoe: You are right, Olette. Wulf needs more training.
- Rigmor: Olette also needs to perfect her technique. I suggest practising whining, pleading, pouting, and puppy dog eyes.
- Olette: Wulf, you will give the governess position to Wujeeta, won’t you? I would be oh so pleased if you were to do so.
- Wulf: Good try. I suggest you practice in front of a mirror.
- Zoe: Sakura told me she talked to you, Rigmor, so I hoped you would find us.
- Rigmor: If you ever need to talk to me, tell Wulf, and I might be able to come and chat with you.
- Zoe: That would be good. Olette is a great help, but….
- Olette: But I have never been enslaved. Therefore, I don’t fully understand Zoe’s experience.
- Zoe: Olette and I are going to do some archery practice. She would hit the target more often if she didn’t stare at Oliver.
- Wulf: If Olette hits the target too often, the Bowmaster might say she doesn’t need to practice. Then what would she do?
- Zoe: Olette could become another blacksmith apprentice!
- Rigmor: All that hot metal and a distracted Olette would not be a good combination.
- Wulf: It was bad enough when she almost burnt down the kitchen.
- Olette: Excuse me. It is rude to gossip about a person when they can hear what you say.
- Wulf: It is rude to lip-read when people are talking further away, my little street urchin.
- Olette: Don’t you ever get annoyed at him, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Why do you think I left my sword at home?
- Olette: A wise move, future Mother.
- Rigmor: Do you think I will marry that lower-class barbarian?
- Zoe: But Wulf is of higher nobility than you.
- Olette: We are being sarcastic, Zoe.
- Zoe: Oh, of course. Haha.
- Wulf: Okay, ladies. I will be back in a couple of days.
- Zoe: Come on, Olette. Oliver is probably hot and sweaty by now, which is a perfect time to gaze upon such a fine specimen.
As the girls snickered, I teleported Rigmor and me into Tundra Homestead.
We did a quick tour of the house, which is not large but comfortable. Then we headed outside, and Rigmor fell in love with Tundra Homestead.
She yelled, “Chickens!”
I explained, “There is a basket over there with mixed grains. Spread some over the grass. Then the chickens will be your best friends.”
As Rigmor got the basket and fed the chickens, Sharava approached me.
“Have you settled in, Sharava?”
“Yes, indeed we have, Lord Welkynd. Is that Lady Ramsbottom?”
“Yes, it is.”
“We had some excitement a few minutes ago. A big reptile thing walked into the farm and claimed this was its territory. It was difficult to kill, but Eutei paralysed it with a spell, and then I hacked into it. She is just rolling it into the river. The crabs and Slaughterfish might enjoy a snack.”
“It sounds like a Draman. I will check before it floats away.”
As I rushed past, I told Rigmor, “Keep feeding the chickens. I have to check on something.”
The dead Draman was slowly drifting down the river. It has been some time since I last encountered one. Hopefully, they will die out as they encroach on populated areas.
When I returned, I looked inside the chicken hutch. The chickens were good layers.
Rigmor had been chatting with Eutei.
- Wulf: The chickens are productive.
- Eutei: Yes. This farm might be small, but it produces lots of excellent produce.
- Rigmor: Eutei said they have had problems with bandits crossing the river.
- Wulf: I see a new tower has been constructed. I think Legionnaires, not Whiterun guards, will utilise it. That should provide some deterrent.
- Eutei: I have enjoyed roasting them with Fireballs, and Sharava is not too bad with the bow.
- Wulf: The Dragonguard and I will start wiping out the larger bandit gangs. They have had it too easy during the civil war. The gang across the river hides in an extensive cave network and preys on pilgrims heading for Whiterun.
- Rigmor: If you clear them out, it won’t be long before others replace them.
- Wulf: Legionnaires will stop that. I must let General Tullius know when a place has been cleared, and squads will be placed at the entrances. That is how it used to be before Ulfric fucked things up.
- Eutei: The fishing is excellent. Did you see our little camp?
- Wulf: I wanted to see if it was a Draman you killed and rushed past.
- Eutei: It was a rather rude thing. Are they Daedra?
- Wulf: Yes, but I don’t know which Daedric Prince created them. They only appeared after Alduin returned. They try to claim territory and kill anybody who objects.
- Eutei: The flowers will be ready to harvest soon. Then, we shall plant the next crop of wheat.
- Rigmor: Flowers?
- Wulf: Yes, red mountain flowers. The Temple of Kynareth’s flower garden was destroyed when Ulfric’s army attacked. With a bit of Magicka, we grew them quickly enough to cover the temple’s needs until their flower garden recovers.
- Rigmor: Come on then, Lord Welkynd, show me around.
- Wulf: Yes, milady.
I should have guessed Rigmor would head straight for the flowers.
She asked, “Why only red ones?”
“That is what Priestess Danica wanted, so that is what she gets.”
“How quickly can you grow them?”
“They were planted less than a week ago.”
Eutei walked over and started attending to the flowers.
Rigmor followed me to the waterfall.
We stood and watched the cascading water for a few minutes
Rigmor turned and asked, “Is this like your childhood home?”
“Yes and no. The waterfalls are larger and feed into lakes. The rivers that lead from the lakes are shallow rapids with few calm sections. They are what pass by my old home.”
“Oh, like that river near Ivarstead.”
“I can see why you like the homestead. It is a tranquil place.”
“When Draman and bandits are not attacking it.”
“Give it time, Wulf. Normal patrols are back, and with your help, many of the bandit gangs and other miscreants will be eliminated.”
“Yeah, if we put in a concerted effort for a few weeks, we can eliminate most of them. The Legion has taken back and garrisoned nearly every major fort, so that helps keep the roads safer.”
We returned to the farm where Rigmor enjoyed gathering honey from our hives.
The wind was not strong, and there was a lot of wheat to be ground. Hence, I decided I must do the work that Lady Kynareth neglected. Rigmor supervised as I spent a couple of hours pushing the grindstone. I pretended it was hard work to see if I could extract some pity from her. When that wasn’t coming, I took my hands away and sped up as I pushed it with my midriff. Rigmor stood with her hands on her hips and called me uncomplimentary names.
We gathered produce from all over the farm, including salmon that Eutei had caught. Then we started a fish stew that would take a few hours to slow cook.
At dusk, Eutei and Sharava came to their camp and seemed pleased with the stew’s progress and aroma.
- Wulf: Keep stirring, Lady Ramsbottom!
- Rigmor: If you say that again, you will wear this damn stew!
- Wulf: Did I protest when you bossed me around while I used the grindstone?
- Sharava: He has you there, Lady Ramsbottom. You were pretty bossy.
- Rigmor: You were male once, so understand they must be closely supervised.
- Eutei: She still has male habits.
- Sharava: I do not!
- Wulf: Diplomatically changing the subject, do you have problems with the Slaughterfish or crabs?
- Sharava: After a couple of them were made examples of, neither species bothers us anymore.
- Eutei: We feed them scraps, and they understand that is better than ending up in our cooking pot.
- Wulf: What kind of fish have you caught?
- Eutei: Salmon, Cod, Carp, and Catfish.
- Wulf: Do you eat Carp?
- Sharava: Oh yes. We know other people don’t like them, but the muddy taste doesn’t bother us.
- Wulf: I am trying to convince Lady Ramsbottom that fishing is fun.
- Eutei: I can’t comment on rod and line fishing, but we enjoy the chase.
- Rigmor: You are delusional, Lord Welkynd, if you think I would ever enjoy fishing.
- Wulf: We shall see.
We sat on the river bank and chatted with Eutei and Sharava while enjoying the excellent stew. Across the river, we could see many torches as pilgrims and their bodyguards headed to and from Whiterun. They were in numbers large enough to deter the bandits.
When we entered the farmhouse, Rigmor dragged me to our bedroom and attacked. After all, it has been over a month since we made love.
We broke our fast the following day with fresh eggs and bread that Eutei had baked. Then we headed for the river.
Rigmor whined, “Why haven’t you got a spa in the house?”
“I have told you several times that I didn’t want one. I used to bathe in rivers all the time in Roscrea and Akavir.”
“I will freeze to death.”
“The river is not snowmelt. Therefore, it will be cold at first but soon pleasant.”
“Yeah, right. Pffft!”
We arrived at the riverbank and discarded our kimonos.
Rigmor warned, “I am trusting you, Wulf. If I start shivering, you are in big trouble!”
“Ooh, I am so scared!”
We entered the water, and as I promised, Rigmor was soon enjoying it.
We sat down to chat.
I told her, “Wulf, once again, is proven correct, and Rigmor is forced to eat humble pie.”
“And Wulf boasts to his legions of supporters. Look, there is nobody to share your false glory with.”
“But you know I was right. That is all the reward I could wish for.”
“What are you planning to do after I return to Bruma?”
“I must visit Keeper Carcette and see if there are any suspected Daedric Prince activities. She is a Breton from High Rock and was given the unenviable task of reforming Skyrim’s Vigilants of Stendarr. I think she has been met with passive but stubborn resistance. The local Vigilants are content with harassing innocent locals and reluctant to pursue large vampire clans or organised necromancers.”
“Then how can they claim to be Vigilants?”
“I suspect the head of the order in Cyrodiil might force the issue and reiterate their responsibilities. They will be instructed to do as the order is supposed to or be expelled. Ten years ago, a breakaway group called The Dawnguard started recruiting new members and persuading disgruntled Vigilants to join them. They deviate from Lord Stendarr’s wishes while still claiming to uphold his Commandment. I fear they may become vigilantes and target all vampires, lycanthropes, and necromancers.”
“Aren’t there already vigilantes who hunt werewolves without mercy?”
“Yes, they are called The Silver Hand. They attacked us once for no reason, so we killed dozens inside their fort.”
“What about the bandit gangs?”
“I will discuss them with The Dragonguard. If they are willing to eliminate them, we shall move from gang to gang as quickly as possible.”
“We both know The Dragonguard will be keen to do that.”
“It is always polite to ask.”
“Do you think Keeper Carcette might know of Daedric activity but cannot motivate the local Vigilants?”
“Yes. Keeper Carcette could probably order them to do things, but that could prove disastrous. I don’t think the local Vigilants are all that skilled in combat. There were Vigilants in Morthal when I eliminated the local coven of Cyrodiilic Vampires. They had not lifted a finger to investigate the strange goings on.”
“I am going to ask a favour, and you are not to laugh or make disparaging remarks.”
“Can’t that wait till tonight? Give me a chance to recover!”
“Okay, listening and not mocking.”
“Can you teach me how to swim?”
“Why would I laugh at your inability to swim? I don’t suppose you had much warm weather in Bruma, and most rivers there are snowmelt.”
“I can paddle like a dog. I think that is a natural survival instinct.”
“Many people can also swim quite well on their back.”
“Yes, I can do that. But I want to learn the forward swimming on the tummy swimming I see others do.”
“It will be my pleasure to teach you how to swim.”
I was unsurprised when Rigmor coordinated limbs and head to become a proficient swimmer in just over an hour. She was rightly proud of herself, and so was I.
Eutei stopped and watched for some time. Then she clapped with genuine appreciation.
- Rigmor: It must seem strange to see adults having to learn to swim.
- Eutei: Not at all. All species are different. You set out to learn something unnatural to your kind and accomplished that task. I admire that.
- Wulf: Lady Ramsbottom is one of the only Nords who has learned to bathe!
- Rigmor: Thank you, Eutei. Get stuffed, Lord Welkynd.
- Wulf: We will be leaving soon, Eutei. Lady Ramsbottom wants to see my newly opened orphanage.
- Eutei: Do you have any Argonian hatchlings?
- Wulf: There are several I rescued from bandit gangs. They were using them to search lakes and rivers. Every species is represented in my orphanages. Poverty and misfortune are not the province of only one species.
- Rigmor: Lord Welkynd has vampire orphans in his establishments.
- Eutei: That is remarkable. Perhaps one day, Sharava and I can visit and see about adopting a hatchling. But not while we do this service, Lord Welkynd, for this place will always be on the border of civilisation.
- Wulf: It is sad to admit, but I think there will always be Argonian hatchlings in the orphanages.
- Eutei: I can hear Gerty whining, so I had better milk her.
- Rigmor: That is an unusual name for a cow.
- Eutei: We had to name her something. Gerty suits her.
- Rigmor: Have you named the chickens?
- Eutei: Three of them. They are called Roast, Fried and Casserole.
Eutei laughed and walked away as Rigmor spluttered with indignation.
We went to our bedroom, and Rigmor complained, “I would like to look like a lady for our visit to Dragons Keep.”
“Well, look in the cupboard. I believe I have placed just the outfit you need inside.”
“You plan for everything, don’t you?”
“Some things are predictable.”
Half an hour later, I wore my Lord outfit, as Rigmor calls it. She was wearing a dark red dress and a ponytailed wig.
She asked, “Well, what do ya think?”
“Stunning. Absolutely stunning!”
“So, who am I to the people at Dragons Keep?”
“We will stick with Lady Ramsbottom.”
“Okay, Lord Welkynd, let us be off.”
We teleported into Dragons Keep’s entrance, and Rigmor was shocked.
She exclaimed, “This place is huge!”
“I have added to it, so it is larger than it was.”
“Lead on, peasant.”
When we reached the main hall, Rigmor whispered, “Little dragons! You didn’t tell me there were little dragons!”
“They are called Mel Zeymah, which means Little Brother. They are small but have the pride of their larger brethren. Do not regard them as cute!”
“Why are they so small?”
“When mortals and dragons cohabited cities, making every room and corridor suitable for full-sized dragons was impractical. Mel Zeymah are weaker dragons who could not survive if challenged by a more powerful adversary. They volunteered to be shrunk using magics long lost to Dov and mortals. That enabled them to traverse the mortal proportioned corridors and enter their rooms. They found a purpose and acted as couriers and trainers.”
“Where did they come from?”
“I found several in a cave near one of my properties. Others have come from all over Skyrim. After Alduin was defeated, Valminoor and other dragons guarded them on their flight to Dragons Keep. They now act as guards and mentors.”
“They have spied on mortals since the end of The Dragon War. They can speak and translate all the common languages and have observed history unfold. The orphans, staff, and guards ask questions and get answers.”
Dominic rushed past us as he headed for the library. He then realised who we were and stopped to chat.
- Dominic: Hello, ahh, who are you at the moment?
- Rigmor: Lady Ramsbottom.
- Dominic: Hello, Lady Ramsbottom and Lord Welkynd.
- Rigmor: Hello, Dominic. Have you settled into your new home?
- Dominic: I liked Aurane, but this place is pretty good. It helps that Wujeeta is here. She is bossy, but we know she loves us.
- Wulf: Do you think Wujeeta would make a good governess?
- Dominic: You had better not give the position to anybody else!
- Rigmor: Don’t worry, Dominic. I have already told Wulf that Wujeeta will be the governess.
- Wulf: Has anybody said negative things about your vampirism?
- Dominic: Nah, children don’t care. As long as you are not a bully, everybody lets you be.
- Wulf: Were you headed for the library?
- Dominic: Yes. I have just finished an alchemy class and was hoping to read about some reagents.
- Rigmor: Are there lots of books, Wulf?
- Wulf: I have furnished the library with thousands of books. They are primarily in the bookcases, leaving the bookshelves a bit empty.
- Dominic: It looks a bit bare, but it isn’t. Inday has been very busy making a catalogue.
- Rigmor: Is Inday the librarian?
- Dominic: Yep. Now I had better hurry, get the books I want, and then claim a comfy spot in front of the fire. It is always a rush for those places!
I approached Krinbritrah and gave a slight bow. At first, we spoke in Dovahzul.
- Wulf: Drem Yol Lok, Krinbritrah.
- Krinbritrah: Greetings, Dovahkiin. Is that Countess Rigmor Ragnarsdottier?
- Wulf: Yes, but here we shall call her Lady Ramsbottom.
- Krinbritrah: Should we speak telepathically?
- Wulf: No. Use Tamrielic and speak normally.
- Krinbritrah: Introduce me to your mate.
- Wulf: Lady Ramsbottom, this handsome Dovah is called Krinbritrah.
- Krinbritrah: Lady Ramsbottom, have you come to see this incredible structure?
- Rigmor: Yes, Krinbritrah. Lord Welkynd has been keen to open its doors and aid the unfortunate. I am keen to see what he has spent a fortune on.
- Krinbritrah: Any of the Dragon Priests would have wasted money on elaborate decorations. Lord Welkynd had paid for high-quality, functional furniture and equipment for staff and orphans. There is a stark contrast.
- Rigmor: Oh, I didn’t mean to attach any criticism to Lord Welkynd’s spending.
- Krinbritrah: Then forgive me. The nuances of this language are slowly revealing themselves.
- Rigmor: Well, for what it’s worth, I think you are doing quite fine with Tamrielic. It is a language full of contradictions and discrepancies.
- Wulf: Knowing milady, she is likely curious about how you spied on mortals for thousands of years.
- Rigmor: I am not! Well, maybe a little. Okay, if you don’t mind telling me, how did the Mel Zeymah hide from mortals and spy so well?
- Krinbritrah: The Dovahkiin can do the same. We can exist simultaneously in Mundus and the ether. That makes us invisible to mortals unless they can detect auras. Since all Dov are capable of this and can detect other Dov doing so, it could not effectively hide us from our larger brethren.
- Wulf: Alduin detected me when I went back in time. Too late, I realised other Dov could do so. I do not like going ethereal and prefer other dweomer to make me invisible.
- Krinbritrah: We thank you, Dovahkiin, for giving us purpose once more.
- Rigmor: Have all the Mel Zeymah come to Dragons Keep?
- Krinbritrah: No. Some may find their way to the courts and palaces of Mundus and offer their services. I have no doubt some will find mages and wizards keen to utilise our knowledge of obscure magics. But do not worry. We realise that aid to certain mortals may endanger ourselves and Mundus. We have learnt our lesson.
- Rigmor: How have the children reacted to your presence?
- Krinbritrah: Once the novelty has worn off, they regard us as friends and are not ashamed to ask questions on any topic. They often want to tinvaak, and we are not disagreeable with that.
- Wulf: I am sure Lord Akatosh is pleased more of his celestial sons survived The Dragon War. It was pleasant to see you again, Krinbritrah.
I quickly said hello to Uthfaasnu. He is not as pleasant as Krinbritrah but friendly enough to the children.
Then, we headed for the general studies classroom. It is where the orphans are taught history, languages, calligraphy, geography, and mathematics.
Alexxi introduced us to the class. They all knew who Lord Welkynd was. However, Lady Ramsbottom was a mystery to them and, in their typical unabashed manner, asked questions that made Rigmor blush. Alexxi laughed as the curious children probed our relationship’s character.
As the children put their heads down to concentrate on calligraphy, we approached Alexxi.
- Wulf: I have been told that orphans are still arriving each day.
- Alexxi: Not every day, but often enough. We will be at capacity within a month or two.
- Wulf: There is plenty of room for more beds. Dining tables can be placed in the entrance foyer.
- Alexxi: Lady Ramsbottom, I apologise for the forthright nature of the children.
- Rigmor: They are curious and perhaps protective of Lord Welkynd. I wasn’t offended.
- Wulf: I am going to make Wujeeta the permanent governess. Do you think anybody will have issues with that decision?
- Alexxi: Nobody will object. Everybody likes Wujeeta, and she is fair with both praise and criticism. More importantly, she is very calm when drama strikes.
- Rigmor: Her story is inspiring.
- Alexxi: Indeed, it is. Wujeeta’s journey from Skooma addict to governess will become a tale told for as long as Dragons Keep exists.
- Wulf: Thank you for allowing us to interrupt your class. Now, we need to interfere with others!
We entered the library. Although I knew thousands of books were in the bookcases, I was not pleased with the empty shelving.
Gladys yipped, so we walked over to say hello.
Bronson had a prime spot in front of the fire. We had rescued him from a bandit gang near Falkreath.
- Wulf: I see you still wear your furs, Bronson.
- Bronson: I might change when they have more variety of the clothes they offer.
- Wulf: We did order a more extensive variety, but the dull colours are what were supplied. So, keep wearing your furs and see what the next delivery provides.
- Rigmor: I am Lady Ramsbottom. Wulf was too rude to introduce me.
- Wulf: Hey, I was getting to it.
- Rigmor: Yeah, right. Pffft!
- Bronson: Hello, Lady Ramsbottom.
- Rigmor: Is that tribal paint on your face?
- Bronson: Yes, I lived amongst The Foresworn for a few years. That is until the bandits killed most of the tribe and enslaved me.
- Rigmor: Would you like to return to The Foresworn?
- Bronson: No, because they killed my parents, which meant they were no better than the bandits who killed them.
- Wulf: Not all Foresworn are cold-blooded murderers. But once a tribe heads down that path, I do not pity them.
- Bronson: Should they have a Hold, Lord Welkynd?
- Wulf: Yes, they should have a Hold or a new province. They could be given a large part of The Reach without adversely affecting Markarth or Evermore.
- Bronson: Then I hope that happens one day so the killing stops.
- Wulf: So do I, Bronson.
D’Usha entered the library. He was another rescue from a gang of bandits. I said a quick hello to him, and then we headed downstairs.
I told Rigmor, “The Legionnaires will be rotated every three months. When they are off duty, they wear different armour. The standing orders from General Tullius are unless they are sleeping, they must wear armour and carry weapons.”
“Who would attack an orphanage?”
“I could spend the rest of the day making a list.”
“No, there is no need. I understand both your and General Tullius’ concerns.”
When we entered the bustling kitchen, we observed Wujeeta for several minutes. She commanded her staff with authority but politely.
Rigmor whispered, “Wujeeta is very good at this!”
We approached Wujeeta, and she gave us a toothy grin.
- Wujeeta: Lord Welkynd, and whoever you are today, welcome to my domain.
- Rigmor: Today, I am Lady Ramsbottom, Wujeeta.
- Wulf: Wujeeta, you are Governess of Dragons Keep from now on.
- Wujeeta: I thought you would spend more time thinking about it.
- Rigmor: Several influential females threatened to nag Wulf to death.
- Wujeeta: Yourself and Olette?
- Rigmor: Yep.
- Wujeeta: So, I can ask you for things, Lord Welkynd.
- Wulf: You can always ask, Wujeeta.
- Wujeeta: An assistant would be good. Somebody who can be Governess or Governor if need be.
- Wulf: Erandur has shown interest in becoming a religious tutor. I think he would make a good assistant.
- Wujeeta: I never thought he was suited to travelling beside you and smashing things with his hammer. He would be an excellent choice.
- Wulf: I need to find priests and priestesses for the other pantheons.
- Wujeeta: I am sure you will find who you need. Now, please excuse me. They are basting the pig wrong, and the crackling will be ruined!
We continued our tour, and I showed Rigmor the many vacant beds awaiting orphans.
Legionnaires have all the training equipment and trainers needed to keep battle-ready.
Young and old mages can practice spells without danger of injury thanks to protection dweomer.
Rigmor was impressed by the large pool.
She said, “I bet you have the record for the biggest splash.”
“It was a draw between me and Meeko.”
“Oh, I bet he was popular with the children.”
“He was a distraction, so I promised not to bring him here when classes are being held.”
The College of Winterhold recommended several mages as potential tutors, and I hired them.
Boren Djaldssen is an excellent addition to the faculty.
Morgan is a brilliant alchemist and Restoration mage.
There were six mages, all keen to teach children interested in magic.
We made our way to the chapel.
Rigmor observed, “Apart from Auri-El’s, all the shrines are of The Nine.”
“We need priests and priestesses to consecrate other shrines. We will soon fill this place up with many shrines of many pantheons.”
Rigmor was very impressed with the play area and dormitories.
The private living quarters are extensive. About fifteen adults can be accommodated.
We entered our private quarters, and Rigmor stared at the bed.
Then she asked, “Wulf, why is the bed so big?”
“I dunno. Perhaps you can think of a use for all that extra space?”
“You are a pervert.”
“Yep. Guilty as charged.”
We heard a dragon roar and explosions while showing Rigmor the private spa room.
We rushed onto one of the balconies and saw Strunmahwuld battling a mage on a nearby tower.
I decided to cast Fireballs and hasten the mage’s demise.
When the brief battle ended, Strunmahwuld landed on a roof and fell asleep.
Rigmor and I then spent some time admiring the view of Whiterun’s tundra.
We made our way through the keep and out the front door.
Rigmor was fascinated with a telescope and finally understood how my Zoom Vision works.
Strunmahwuld greeted me from atop the Governess’ house.
We reached the stables.
Rigmor asked, “Can the children ride safely in the Tundra?”
“Strunmahwuld and Nolokhovrilaak fly as scouts and protect them. Still, it would be better if the local bandits were eradicated.”
“You have mentioned that several times. Are you going to try to do that?”
“Yes. The Dragonguard and I can do it with far less risk than Legionnaires.”
“I worry when you subject yourself to more killing.”
“If we didn’t have Mara’s Rings and could not be together, then the worry would be justified. I can handle the darkness as long as I can enjoy some light. Also, just being around these children lifts my spirits.”
‘That is obvious, but you still wouldn’t live here, would you?”
“I designed the private living quarters with the naïve intent to live here. However, I realised that would make the orphans targets. The large number of soldiers stationed here is a deterrent to bandits but not a determined assassin. When we teleport here, stay a few hours and teleport out, there is little risk to the children. If I lived here, the situation would be different.”
We entered the Governess’ House.
Rigmor enquired, “So why are the orphans from Aurane living in this house?”
“It is only temporary, and they will eventually move into the dormitories. I had this house made for orphans like Sorella. She had never lived in a real home. Many of the orphans haven’t either. This house will allow such children to learn domestic skills and behaviours we take for granted.”
“Oh, I see. Some children might not be adopted if the potential parents think they are wild and uneducated.”
“Yes, that is the reality. It is also why we want the children to dress in clothing and give up the armour and furs. However, we will not force that change on them.”
As we headed upstairs, Lucia intercepted us.
- Rigmor: Hello, Lucia. How do you like Dragons Keep?
- Lucia: I am slowly getting used to it. It is strange having so many children around.
- Rigmor: Are you waiting on Wujeeta?
- Lucia: Yeah, sometimes she gets here on time for us to help cook dinner. Sometimes, she and a few soldiers bring dinner here. Sometimes we are asked to eat in the main hall.
- Rigmor: What do you like learning?
- Lucia: I like history. The mages at Aurane liked history and were fun to learn from. They are a bit more serious here.
- Wulf: Can I show Rigmor upstairs?
- Lucia: Yeah, Wulf, of course you can.
We followed Lucia onto the top floor and talked to the children.
I then showed Rigmor the workroom I had built.
She remarked, “I can see how much you wanted this to be home.”
“Yes, but it can’t be. Aurane is safe. We would know if anybody tried to breach its protections, and even if they did, fewer children are at risk.”
“Come on, Dragonbum, show me more of this wonderful place you have built.”
“I had it modified. It was mostly here already.”
“Fiddlesticks! You turned Dragons Keep from a private castle to something that helps many children. I can’t imagine how much that cost!”
“A lot, but I am nowhere near broke, my dear Rigmor.”
“That’s good. I can keep pretending to like you then.”
We exited the workroom and headed down the path towards the tundra.
Malhaankul said in passable Tamrielic, “It is good to see you again, Dovahkiin. There is a lot of bandit activity below, but none dare approach.”
“Strunmahwuld encountered a rogue mage earlier. I helped give the miscreant a warm welcome.”
“There will always be the foolish who think they are somehow immune to Dragonfire.”
Rigmor and I looked at the tundra and saw many bandits moving about.
We returned to the keep and enjoyed a meal with dozens of children talking and laughing.
A duo played several complex songs and did a fine job.
After dinner, a dozen children asked if Rigmor would read some stories for them.
When Rigmor said yes, four books were thrust into my hands, and they led us to the playroom.
I sat as transfixed as the children when Rigmor’s voice took them to faraway places.
There are many cliches such as soulmate, other half, etcetera. I have no words to describe the connection between Rigmor and me adequately. It feels as if it should be visible to all. It is an impenetrable shield that surrounds us and protects us from doubt and needless worry. Nobody can tell me how I received Lord Akatosh’s blessings while in vitro. Nobody can tell me who the goddess was I met in The Void. I can’t help but feel Rigmor, and I are champions of a god or gods unknown and that our entwined souls are crucial to a future task.
Even after four stories, it wasn’t easy to extricate ourselves from the children. It took several of the staff to rescue us.
The private quarters were quiet. The hustle and bustle of the keep was wholly silenced by several feet of solid brickwork.
Rigmor laughed, saying, “I have some ideas about all that extra space on the bed.”
“Oh, and what might they be?”
“I am so going to enjoy this!”
“And you call me a pervert.”
“I will have bigger blankets and sheets to wrap around myself while you freeze!”
“That is why you are excited about the bigger bed?”
“Perhaps, let’s see, shall we.”
Rigmor spent several hours proving the larger bed was a good investment.
The following day, we used the outside spa. It was warmed by Dwemer pipes and quite pleasant, even though the shadow of Dragons Keep fell on it.
I asked, “Have you enjoyed seeing two of my pet projects?”
“Tundra Homestead is nice, but Dragons Keep is magnificent.”
“It is missing something, though. I need to invest in a larger farm. Some orphans want to be farmers, and the rocky ground of Dragons Keep is not suitable.”
“Well, there are many farms dotted all over Skyrim.”
“But hardly any of them come up for sale. They are usually passed from one generation to another.”
“If you let the Jarls know, I am sure one will come up for sale sooner or later.”
“I get a feeling that chaos is just around the corner. When I feel anxious, and Our Quiet surrounds us, it should not be ignored.”
“We can handle whatever it is.”
“Are you ever going to grow your hair?”
“Not while I am wearing wigs. They are a simple but effective disguise.”
“The Explorers Society wants to start excavations. If I leave a squad of Dragonguard with them, they should be relatively safe.”
“I wouldn’t mind joining them on some of their excavations.”
“Days of sorting through buckets of rubble doesn’t sound enthralling.”
“It is probably more exciting than fishing.”
“I can’t wait for the day you beg to go fishing because you enjoy it so much.”
“Yeah, right. Pffft!”
We chatted for another half an hour before returning to the private quarters.
I retrieved a dress I purchased from Radiant Rayment in Solitude from my Journal Case. Rigmor fell instantly in love with it and was soon wearing it.
I teleported us into her bedroom in Bruma.
My beloved suddenly looked uncertain.
I assured her, “Rigmor, we will be okay. Our Quiet works through the rings, and we can always get together if need be.”
“I know, but your intuition is rarely wrong.”
“I shouldn’t have mentioned how anxious I was.”
“I could tell and was waiting for you to say something, so none of that, Valdr Septim!”
‘Just be careful. If you are dealing with Daedric Princes, you are at risk.”
“Unless I travel to Oblivion, I am fairly safe.”
“But if you are thwarting their plans for the Liminal Barrier, you may have to enter Oblivion.”
“Conjecture and speculation.”
“Yes, I know. We will deal with whatever comes along.”
I kissed Rigmor, then teleported into Aurane and walked over to Inigo.
He beamed, “Hello, my friend. How is Rigmor?”
“She is very well, Inigo and is proving to be an excellent countess.”
“Do you have any plans?”
“Yes. In the next day or so, I want to visit The Vigilants of Stendarr and see if they need help with anything.”
“I am sure they can hassle innocent citizens without our assistance.”
“No matter what I think of them, they are the most likely group to know of Daedric activity.”
“Yes, they probably have a list of things too scary and dangerous to confront.”
“I am glad my cynicism is spreading.”
“I encountered them enough times before retreating to Riften’s jail. I didn’t need any prompting on their comparison with the Vigilants in Cyrodiil.”
“Well, I am retreating to my room to do some paperwork. I might visit the museum and see if there is any correspondence for me.”
“Just let me know when you are visiting the Vigilants. I will pretend to have a seizure and skip the excitement.”
I was immersed in the endless paperwork when there was a knock on my door.
When I permitted him to enter, Miraak did so.
He said, “Wulf, we have finished the Dwemer modifications to Rava. Under supervision, I flew it to the museum. Then, I teleported Khulan to Priderock. Rakis awaits you in the museum to thank you once more on behalf of New Elsweyr.”
“What do you think of our Khajiiti friends.”
“They are an interesting people. Their struggles against Laatvulon and Kaalgrontiid are inspiring and display their courage and pride. I can understand why you favour them. Nahfahlaar, on the other hand, is an annoying, egotistical worm who needs an Unrelenting Force Shout up his rear end. However, the way the Khajiiti greeted him, it is apparent he did much to aid them in their struggles against those powerful dragons.”
“I honestly thought the work would take far longer.”
“Madras was invaluable in deciphering some of the Dwemer schematics. Professor Marassi aided in deciphering some of the information written in Ayleidoon. Khulan and Jo’ran squabbled together endlessly like master and apprentice. However, they figured out how to pilot the airship after installing the Dwemer updates.”
“I hope they left some instructions.”
“They did not think you would need any. Open your mind to Rava, and all will make sense. That is what they said. I detected Rava’s psychic link and navigated the airship with practice.”
“Okay, I had better go and look at it.”
“To ease navigation, I suggest we install beacons in each major location. It would not take long.”
“I shall discuss that with you when I understand what is involved.”
I teleported into the museum and found Rakis in The Hall of Heroes.
He said, “Greetings, Dovahkiin. Once again, our paths cross one another.”
“You know I am fond of Khajiiti. Especially when they come bearing gifts.”
“Rava is not a gift. You found it unattended and rightly took it into your possession.”
“I left it where we found it and killed those who possessed it.”
“It was and is yours. I am here to thank you once more on behalf of the Pahmar. Thanks to you and The Dragonguard, much progress has been made against The Thalmor quickly.”
“I think it will be many years before an uprising is possible.”
“True, and it will be interesting to see if Valenwood or Elsweyr are first to remove The Dominion’s shackles. I am sure one suppressed nation would aid the other in their endeavour.”
“Did equipping Rava provide valuable information?”
“Jo’ran and Khulan were like hungry kittens over a bowl of cream. The conversations between them, Miraak, Madras and Professor Marassi, were spirited and sometimes loud, but in the end, the Khajiiti mages were ecstatic over the results. They are positive they could reproduce the work if an opportunity arises.”
“Were you watching out of curiosity or as an Enforcer of The Vigilants of Stendarr? After all, Ayleid and godless Dwemer technology and magic were being utilised.”
“There are not many Khajiiti Vigilants. After all, we worship Aedra and Daedra. I understand that Vigilants in Skyrim are not respected, and rightly so. However, Vigilants elsewhere are more practical in interpreting S’rendarr’s desires. Hopefully, our misguided members in Skyrim are soon set straight and will also become valued community members.”
“Were you concerned about the magic and technology?”
“Yes, at first. However, we soon realised that the technology and magic were Barsaebic Ayleid inventions. The Dwemer improved the efficiency of transferring stored Varliance from Meteoric Glass. That enabled the Ayleid dweomer to work faster with less Magicka required.”
“I prefer the term Star Glass. I assume the dweomer is Alteration based.”
“Yes, and we know The Ayleid were not just the inventors of the Alteration School of Magic. They were its unequalled masters.”
“Like the Psijic Order and Mysticism.”
“That is a School of Magic I cannot comprehend.”
“It is not so hard. You deal with conundrums and paradoxes by abandoning logic and embracing insanity. By observing Psijic Monks, I rediscovered the basic teleportation spells.”
“You have met Psijic Monks?”
“They trained me. The first Psijic Monk I ever met was Khajiiti. Do you know Yura?”
“Every member of New Elsweyr knows Yura. If we could harvest that one’s energy, great things would be possible.”
“Her mother, Zav’i, was a Psijic Monk.”
“Well, that explains that ridiculous hat she wears.”
“Did you search the treasure of the Argonian pirates for Daedric artefacts?”
“Yes, as was my duty. There were none, but it was fortunate we retrieved The Staff of Indarys. I see it is on display.”
“That is a replica made by our artisans. We keep the powerful relics in a pocket plane shared with The College of Winterhold. That way, they can be studied and not stolen or risk harm to innocents.”
“That is wise.”
“I was told that Miraak shaped Star Glass from Ayleid-grown crystals.”
“Indeed, and of all the people I have met in my travels, he is the strangest, with Vayu a close second. His story is almost unbelievable, yet others, including Nahfahlaar, supported him. I look forward to reading your account of those events.”
“I don’t think it was the most peculiar of things I have done. However, outwitting Hermorah was one of the most satisfying.”
“I had better catch a carriage to Falkreath. I am joining the Moonpath caravan for their latest trip.”
“I could teleport you to Falkreath.”
“Thank you for the offer, but I want to view Skyrim whilst I can. Who knows when I will next get a chance to relax.”
“Safe travels, Rakis.”
“Azura’s blessings, Dovahkiin.”
I had to laugh at a Vigilant Enforcer invoking the blessing of a Daedric Prince. Rakis knew my source of amusement and laughed along.
As Rakis went outside, I noticed a crowd forming for one of Auryen’s tours. The museum was still not officially opened, but the list of special guests was extensive.
As I wandered around, I encountered Madras.
He said, “Ah, Guildmaster, we have completed the work on Rava.”
“Yes, Miraak told me, and I just talked with Rakis.”
“It is a fascinating combination of Ayleid magic, Dwemer technology and Khajiiti ingenuity.”
“I am sure we can make use of it. I will see if I can figure out how to navigate and fly it.”
“Jo’ran and Khulan were positive you could. Miraak quickly understood how it works and flew Rava around Elsweyr without losing us in the ether and then to the museum.”
“Hopefully, all of The Dragonguard mages can do the same.”
“Professor Marassi is keen to start excavating Windcaller Pass or whatever it is called.”
“I shall visit him and get that started. There are two dragons guarding part of it, but Silah told me they will not trouble you. A squad of Dragonguard will protect the camp and clear any hostiles in the ruins.”
“I can’t say I look forward to Nord ruins, but I drag the others through seemingly endless Dwemer sites. Therefore, I shall suffer in silence.”
“Well, I had better look at Rava and then visit Professor Marassi.”
I stood on one of the museum’s balconies and looked down upon Rava. It was an impressive-looking vehicle and unique. That meant that people would suspect Lord Welkynd and The Dragonguard were probably aboard wherever it anchors. Occasionally, that may be an issue and must be considered when planning travel.
At first, I was concerned when I saw a dragon skeleton draped around the bow and hull of Rava. However, when I approached the airship from ground level, I realised it was not real but cleverly carved from wood.
Rava had a wheel like a ship but not a rudder. The wheel made wing-like structures tilt, turned the vessel and determined lift and dive. I assumed that beacons would negate the need for manual controls where available. I think, once I get used to the controls, manual flying would be enjoyable. I certainly expect Rigmor to find it so.
She sensed my amusement and contacted me via Mara’s Rings.
She asked, “Spill the beans. What has made you smile?”
“Just the thought of you, my dear and the large bed in Dragons Keep.”
“I know you are a pervert, but that is not what has amused you.”
“You are right. Rava, the airship, is now docked in Solitude. I wondered how much you would enjoy standing on its deck as I manually fly it.”
“I might scream and close my eyes till I am sure you won’t crash us into the ground or a mountain.”
“Ye of little faith!”
“How about you practice a lot before I fly with you?”
“But half the fun will be the near misses as I learn!”
“Ahh, no, I don’t think that would be fun. Anyway, I’ve got to go as I have another etiquette class with Freathof. This one is all about walking like a lady.”
“Does that involve a stick up the bum?”
“No, I have to walk, sit, and then stand with some heavy books balanced on my head. I didn’t do too well the last time we tried.”
“What a load of nonsense!”
“Mede is not too concerned about all this protocol and etiquette, but other high-ranking nobles are. Citizens of Bruma are regarded by many as knuckle-dragging Nords. I have to prove otherwise.”
“You could just draw your sword and ask them their opinion of Bruma citizens. I am sure they would say nothing but praise.”
“I try not to pass on my distaste when dealing with some of them, as I don’t want to upset your stomach. But I would gladly do as you suggest if it did not risk Freathof dying from shock.”
“Have fun, and don’t destroy any valuable tomes.”
“Freathof uses collections of romance stories. He says it is no great loss if I destroy them. Oh, he has arrived. I will talk to you later, Dragonbum.”
As I looked around Rava’s interior, I tried to understand the psychic connection needed to fly and navigate the vessel. To my surprise, it became logical and easy to understand. It helped that I had a mental map of Skyrim and soon knew how to set a destination. I was unsure how the beacons would work, but I assumed they would become known waypoints, like when I teleport. I will need to practice. Miraak mastered it quickly, and I knew I could as well.
The Varliance, stored Magicka created from starlight, within the shaped Welkynd Stone was familiar and comforting.
The only change I would make to the interior is my private room. I will have to exchange the single bed for a double.
After inspecting Rava, I made my way to The Explorers Guild Headquarters.
As soon as I entered, Latoria pounced.
She gushed in her usual enthusiasm, “Isn’t Rava marvellous! Latoria cannot wait to go flying!”
“I wonder if I can fly Rava upside down?”
“Guildmaster is joking, yes?”
“A generated field protects the insides. It doesn’t matter the orientation of Rava. Those inside would not be affected.”
“So, until Rava smashes into the ground, Latoria would not know of Guildmaster’s foolish flying.”
“That’s correct. Isn’t that comforting?”
“No, Guildmaster, it is not. Latoria is not a scaredy cat but does not welcome becoming a bloody smear amongst broken timbers.”
“It is time we started the excavation of Windcaller Pass.”
“That does make Latoria very excited! There is Professor Marassi. Please tell him so we can start our preparations.”
I walked over to Marassi, who asked, “Did I hear correctly, Guildmaster?”
“Yes, Professor. Head towards Windcaller Pass at your convenience. I will assign a Dragonguard Squad to protect you on the way there and another to protect you while there.”
“It will take about a fortnight to pack and travel.”
“Take your time, as the pass will still be there when you arrive.”
I teleported to Aurane and enjoyed a meal with my friends in the tavern.
When I retired to bed, Rigmor wanted to chat, so we talked till she fell asleep.
My sense of anxiety slowly increased as I drifted towards sleep. I wondered if I sensed the diminishing Liminal Barrier.