Grazhir :: Skyrim :: Yvara :: 17




Evening Star, 21st, 4E 201

I was up early, fed, and outside lounging with relative inconspicuousness in the shadows and covered with invisibility. The spot I chose just so happened to be on the fringes of a wide open area in the town with a marvelous decoration of a headsman’s block at the center. It wasn’t too terribly long before I could hear the approach of wagons. It made me wonder just how many people the Imperials had caught in their ambush.

There were plenty enough soldiers gathered by the time I heard one of them call out toward the lead wagon, “General Tullius, sir! The headsman is waiting!”

“Good,” an imposing grey-haired soldier replied and dropped down to the ground. “Let’s get this over with.”

‘Hm, he must have sent someone on ahead to get here before the convoy,’ I thought. ‘Probably to ensure that everything was ready.’

A ratty-looking Nord in the second cart started praying frantically. “Shor, Mara, Dibella, Kynareth, Akatosh. Divines, please help me.”

A blond Nord in the same cart looked at the reception and scoffed. “Look at him, General Tullius the Military Governor. And it looks like the Thalmor are with him. Damn elves. I bet they had something to do with this.”

There were times I blessed my keen hearing, and this was one of those.

“This is Helgen,” the blond continued. “I used to be sweet on a girl from here. Wonder if Vilod is still making that mead with juniper berries mixed in. Funny—when I was a boy, Imperial walls and towers used to make me feel so safe.”

“Who are they, daddy?” questioned a small boy over on one of the porches. “Where are they going?”

“You need to go inside, little cub.”

“Why?” the boy protested. “I want to watch the soldiers.”

“Inside the house,” the father said harshly. “Now.”

The lead wagon stopped not far from the chopping block as the child obeyed, the other wagon coming to a halt as well.

“Why are they stopping?” asked the ratty Nord.

“Why do you think?” said the blond. “End of the line. Let’s go. Shouldn’t keep the gods waiting for us.”

It was then I realized that the gagged man in the second cart must be Ulfric Stormcloak. He was handsome enough, I supposed, but after seeing his city for myself, well, no amount of looks could make up for that.

As the prisoners were jumping down the ratty one started in again. “You’ve got to tell them! I wasn’t with you!”

I actually felt a bit bad for that one. He probably wasn’t a Stormcloak and had just been caught up in things. It did seem a bit odd he was there, but perhaps he had committed some crime worthy of execution?

“Face your death with some courage, thief,” the blond said a bit disgustedly.

“This is a mistake!” Ratty cried.

One of the soldiers, an important-looking female, called out, “Step toward the block when we call your name. One at a time!”

“Empire loves their damn lists,” the blond muttered.

“Ulfric Stormcloak. Jarl of Windhelm,” said a dark-haired Nord Legionnaire holding a parchment list.

“It has been an honor, Jarl Ulfric!” said the blond as the Jarl took his place.

“Ralof of Riverwood,” the list-holder announced. Then, “Lokir of Rorikstead.”

“No, I’m not a rebel!” the ratty-looking Lokir cried desperately. “You can’t do this!” He made a break for it, still bound at the wrists, and went racing awkwardly off away from the gathering.

“Halt!” cried the female soldier.

“You’re not going to kill me!” Lokir called back as he continued to run.


Sadly, for Lokir, he went down in that single volley.

“Anyone else feel like running?” the soldier asked.

I was really starting to dislike her. Her manner was everything a person could ask for if you wanted someone smug and arrogant.

Other names were called, until all the prisoners were lined up and waiting. Then General Tullius stepped forward.

“Ulfric Stormcloak. Some here in Helgen call you a hero, but a hero doesn’t use a power like the Voice to murder his king and usurp his throne.”

Ulfric grunted; it rather sounded like he was protesting something.

“You started this war, plunged Skyrim into chaos, and now the Empire is going to put you down, and restore the peace.”

Before he could say more a very peculiar roaring sound could be heard from the nearby mountain. Not a bear, or a sabre cat. . . .

“What was that?” List-Holder said sharply.

“It’s nothing,” Tullius said. “Carry on.”

“Yes, General Tullius,” Smug responded. “Give them their last rites.”

A priestess stepped forward; she wore the symbol of Arkay. “As we commend your souls to Aetherius, blessings of the Eight Divines upon you, for you are the salt and earth of Nirn, our beloved—”

“For the love of Talos,” said one of the Stormcloaks as he stepped forward and right up to the block, “shut up and let’s get this over with.”

The priestess was extremely put out by the interruption judging by her body language. “As you wish,” she said stiffly and stepped back out of the way.

“Come on, I haven’t got all morning,” the Stormcloak said cockily.

Smug hesitated for some reason, then walked over and forced him down into position.

“My ancestors are smiling at me, Imperials. Can you say the same?”

The headsman hauled his axe back, held it there for just a second, then slammed it down. The Stormcloak’s head fell off into the wooden box below and I wondered why it was so small in comparison to the number of people they intended to behead. Smug pushed the body aside with her foot.

One of the waiting Stormcloaks shouted, “You Imperial bastards!”

Two of the townsfolk yelled out in support of the execution. Ralof, that blond Nord, said, “As fearless in death as he was in life.”

“Next prisoner!” Smug called.

Another strange roar rang out down the mountainside, that time much closer. I refreshed my invisibility and twisted around so I could look, but nothing was visible.

“There it is again,” List-Holder said. “Did you hear that?”

I worried for the man’s intelligence, to be honest.

Smug said with irritation, “I said, next prisoner!”

List-Holder got himself together and announced, “Vigdis of Shor’s Stone.”

A Nord female took a faltering step forward.

“To the block, prisoner,” List-Holder said almost gently. “Nice and easy.”

She appeared to be murmuring under her breath and moving as slowly as she could manage without the Imperial soldiers hastening her on her way. Could it be that she was hoping that odd roaring sound would become a visible reality and save her somehow?

She was forced into position and the headsman’s axe went up. A large creature swooped by, too quickly to be properly seen.

General Tullius said disbelievingly, “What in Oblivion is that?”

Just then the axe fell and the girl’s head hit the box.

“Sentries!” Smug yelled. “What do you see?”

“It’s in the clouds!”

And then it became clear. The creature—massive, black, and winged—was a dragon, and it had just landed on the tower behind the headsman.

“Dragon!” yelled a soldier.

Just then the dragon shouted something I couldn’t catch, but the immediate result was the fiery death of the headsman. And then fire began raining down from the sky. Chaos erupted as bodies went flying and stones from the walls and towers began to fall and hit the ground.

“Don’t just stand there,” I heard Tullius say, “kill that thing! Guards, get the townspeople to safety!”

I swear, I had never in my life been so frightened, not even—I had also never in my life so quickly summoned Luggage and hauled out a set of armor. Mage robes were all very well, but this needed something a little more. There was so much fire and smoke and noise that I doubted anyone noticed in their haste to flee or fight that beast when I stripped off my usual garb and got into the armor I found in Blackreach as quickly as I could, mask included. As an afterthought I pulled off one of the gauntlets long enough to slide on the ring. Best if it wasn’t known that the Arch-Mage had been running around wearing real armor instead of just mage armor.

I dismissed Luggage because I could not be seen with it (and I was afraid that a dragon’s fire could melt the little guy) and looked for a way to escape the chaos, but there was so much raining down from above and so much smoke that I couldn’t see clearly. I finally just picked a direction and ran for it, praying I was headed in the direction of a gate. Instead I ran into List-Holder, an old man, and the boy from earlier.

“Haming, you need to get over here now!” List-Holder ordered. “Thataboy. You’re doing great! Torolf!”

I had to assume Torolf was the man who had just been roasted.

“Gods—everyone get back!”

The dragon swooped by again breathing yet more fire as it went.

“I don’t know who you are,” List-Holder said to me, “but keep close to me if you want to stay that way. Gunnar, take care of the boy. I have to find General Tullius and join the defense.”

“Gods guide you, Hadvar.”

‘Ah, so that’s his name,’ I thought a bit giddily. I realized I was shaking.

Hadvar took off and I followed, hoping he would lead me to a gate or something similar. We had just reached something akin to an alley when I could see the dragon’s shadow catching up to us. “Stay close to the wall!” Hadvar said, then flattened himself against it.

I did likewise just as the dragon landed on the wall we were plastered against. It bellowed again, but that time I could hear the words.

Vor Toor Shul!”

Fire started raining down again from above.

“Quickly, follow me!” Hadvar ordered.

‘Vor Toor Shul,’ I thought as I followed, seeing a set of gates ahead. ‘Horror Inferno Sun.’

Soldiers were firing arrows at the beast in vain as we got closer. One girl shrieked out, “Tell my family I fought bravely!”

“Hadvar!” I heard Tullius call. “Into the keep, soldier, we’re leaving!”

Hadvar veered off, but I made for the gates only to find that they were blocked by debris and could not be opened. I turned around quickly and raced off in the direction Hadvar went, and caught up with him.

“It’s you and me, friend, stay close!”

I think we ran clear across the town. What I assumed was the keep came into view, but so did Ralof.

“Ralof! You damned traitor, out of my way!”

“We’re escaping, Hadvar! You’re not stopping us this time.”

“Fine. I hope that dragon takes you all to Sovngarde.”

Ralof took off back in the direction we had come from and I just followed Hadvar. I had the feeling he would know better where to go, but who knew? He whipped open the door and ran through, then said, “Looks like we’re the only ones who made it. Was that really a dragon? The bringers of the End Times?”

‘End Times?’

“We should keep moving. That thing is still out there. Come on, this way.”

Along the way (and after having to regrettably kill several Stormcloaks) we came to what was obviously a torture room, where the Imperials were fighting several more Stormcloaks. Hadvar and I joined in and quickly enough killed them. I felt a bit sick at having to do it. They were only trying to escape, too, but they raised weapons against me.

“A torture room,” Hadvar said quietly. “Gods, I wish we didn’t need these.”

“You fellows happened along just in time,” the fellow wearing torturer garb said. “These boys seemed quite upset at how I’d been entertaining their comrades.”

“Don’t you even know what’s going on?” Hadvar nearly shouted. “A dragon is attacking Helgen!”

“A dragon? Please. Don’t make up nonsense. Although, come to think of it, I did hear some odd noises coming from over there.”

I rolled my eyes. ‘Wonderful. The sadistic bastard has been so caught up hurting people he hasn’t been paying attention to anything else. I really hope he dies to that dragon.’

“Come with us,” Hadvar said. “We need to get out of here.”

“You have no authority over me, boy,” the torturer said menacingly.

“Didn’t you hear me? I said the keep is under attack! Oh forget it. Come or not, on your head be it.” He headed off and I followed.

“There’s no way out that way, you know,” the torturer called after us.

Following the stream we came to was a dead end so Hadvar chose a different way. Through a den of spiders.

“What next, giant snakes?” he complained.

A bit farther on Hadvar suddenly stopped and crouched down. “Hold up,” he said as I stopped next to him. “There’s a bear just ahead. See her? I’d rather not tangle with her right now. We might be able to sneak by. Just take it nice and slow, and watch your step. Or if you’re feeling lucky, you can take this bow. Might take her by surprise. Go ahead. I’ll follow your lead and watch your back.”

I was certain at that point that Hadvar was either brain damaged or just so overcome by everything that he came across as stupid. The man had seen me fight. I rolled by eyes and stood up, stepped forward, and blasted the damn thing with fire.

Hadvar seemed surprised for some reason. I took off along the stream running through the cave and toward what I thought had to be the exit, Hadvar following.

“This looks like the way out! I was starting to wonder if we’d ever make it.”

We had just stepped out of the mouth and into daylight when Hadvar ducked down and pulled on my arm. “Wait!”

The dragon flew overhead, its shadow struggling to keep up with it.

“Looks like he’s gone for good this time. But I don’t think we should stick around to see if he comes back. Closest town from here is Riverwood. My uncle’s the blacksmith there. I’m sure he could help you out. I wouldn’t have made it without your help today. Listen, you should go to Solitude and join up with the Imperial Legion. We could really use someone like you. And if the rebels have themselves a dragon, General Tullius is the only one who can stop them.”

Before the Storm
Evening Star, 21st, 4E 201

On the way to Riverwood, after I’d had a chance to completely settle my nerves—wolves along the way? Pfft!—I realized that I had caught some of those other words the dragon had said. Fus—Force. I had watched as it Shouted and saw the ripple effect in the air, and how people went flying. In all actuality, it was Fus Ro Dah—Force Balance Push. The dragon had also breathed fire, a variant on the one it used to rain fire down from the sky. Yol Toor Shul—Fire Inferno Sun.

‘How can I understand all this?’ I asked no one in the privacy of my own mind, while my head nodded of its own accord in response to whatever Hadvar was saying. ‘End Times? Dragons? What does it all mean?’

“See that ruin up there?” Hadvar asked. “Bleak Falls Barrow. When I was a boy, that place always used to give me nightmares. Draugr creeping down the mountain to climb through my window at night, that kind of thing. I admit, I still don’t much like the look of it.”

I rather absentmindedly replied, “There are. Draugr, I mean.”

“You’ve been in there?”

“Yes. There are draugr inside that can Shout like that Jarl from Windhelm.”

“Oh.” He went silent again until we came halfway down a switchback. “These are the Guardian Stones, three of the thirteen ancient standing stones that dot Skyrim’s landscape.”

I nodded and kept on, being careful not to go too fast for him.

“I’m glad you decided to come with me. We’re almost to Riverwood.”

And indeed, just a few minutes later we reached the town.

“Things look quiet enough here. Come on, there’s my uncle. Uncle Alvor! Hello!”

I followed him over to the blacksmith.

“Hadvar? What are you doing here? Are you on leave from—Shor’s bones, what happened to you, boy? Are you in some kind of trouble?

“Shh, uncle,” Hadvar said with quiet intent. “Keep your voice down. I’m fine, but we should go inside to talk.”

“What’s going on?” Alvor asked more quietly. “And who’s this?”

“She’s a friend. Saved my life in fact. Come on, I’ll explain everything, but we need to go inside.”

“Okay, okay,” Alvor conceded. “Come inside, then. Sigrid will get you something to eat and you can tell me all about it.” The three of us went inside, with Alvor calling out, “Sigrid! We have company!”

I must have been really tired because I could not understand why the man was nearly shouting when his wife was standing right there.

“Hadvar! We’ve been so worried about you! Come, you two must be hungry. Sit down and I’ll get you something to eat.”

“Now, then, boy. What’s the big mystery. What were you doing, looking like you lost an argument with a cave bear?”

I nearly snorted at that; it was the cave bear who lost an argument with fire and Hadvar had nothing to do with it. I realized I was still feeling a bit giddy and politely declined when Sigrid tried to serve me some food.

“I don’t know where to start. I was assigned to General Tullius’s guard. We were stopped in Helgen when we were attacked—by a dragon.”

“A dragon? That’s—ridiculous. You aren’t drunk, are you, boy?”

“Husband, let him tell his story,” Sigrid said with a sigh as she hovered there.

“Not much more to tell. This dragon flew over and just wrecked the whole place. Mass confusion. I don’t know if anyone else got out alive. I doubt I’d have made it out if not for my friend here. I need to get back to Solitude and let them know what’s happened. I thought you could help us out. Food, supplies, a place to stay.”

“Of course,” Alvor said almost gaily. “Any friend of Hadvar’s is a friend of mine. I’m glad to help you in any way I can. Like I said, I’m glad to help.”

‘And here it comes.’

“But I need your help. We need your help. The Jarl needs to know there’s a dragon on the loose. Riverwood is defenseless. . . .” Alvor shot a fiercely protective look his wife’s way. “We need to get word to Jarl Balgruuf in Whiterun to send whatever soldiers he can. If you’ll do that for me, I’ll be in your debt.”

A child I hadn’t even noticed piped up with, “Hadvar, did you really see a dragon? What did it look like? Did it have big teeth?”

“Hush, child,” said Sigrid. “Don’t pester your cousin.”

“Well, I better get back to work,” Alvor said as he hefted himself up from the bench. He was not a man with extra flesh, but he was well muscled from his time at the forge. “You two can make yourselves at home.” He trundled back outside and I could shortly hear the ring of metal on metal.

Hadvar finished off a bottle of mead and said to me, “It’s nice to be back in a friendly spot, huh? Listen, I’m going to lay up here for a while. You can make your own way to Solitude from here. I recommend heading to Whiterun, just down the road from here. From there you can take a carriage to Solitude.”

I honestly did not know what to think at that point. I wasn’t a fugitive, merely an unknown at present, garbed as I was in a raiment of concealing armor. A sidelong look at Sigrid revealed her expression to be of deep worry and not a little fear. The child was unaware of any danger and began pestering Hadvar again. There was no reason for me to stay there, not really, so I slowly stood up. “I’m going to deliver that message,” I said, glad for the mask’s effect on my voice—or perhaps the band had its own effect, as well. “The sooner the better for Riverwood.”

Hadvar and Sigrid both looked relieved. I shook my head when Sigrid tried to press food and drink on me for the trip, and left. As I jogged down the road to Whiterun it came to me that too many people might be aware of my fighting style. I had donned a new look, but—that same look required something different for so long as I wore it.

Summoning atronachs instead of the lich. Switching to shock spells.

When I had delivered the message and was able to go back to my usual in privacy, so would the spells. I cut across the countryside—rather, down the steep hills—as soon as I could to shave time off my journey.

I garnered quite a few looks as I walked quickly through Whiterun toward Dragonsreach through the Cloud District. Urgency was good, but I didn’t want to full on sprint through town. I got the impression that the armor I found and wore was a bit intimidating.

The Jarl’s housecarl, a Dunmer woman named Irileth, certainly seemed to think so, as she drew her weapon on seeing me and approached cautiously. “What’s the meaning of this, interrupting the Jarl’s meeting?”

“Alvor of Riverwood sent me to request aid against the dragon that just destroyed Helgen,” I said flatly.

Her eyes widened and she sheathed her weapon. “I see. The Jarl will want to speak with you personally. Approach.”

When I stepped up to the spot at the base of the low flight of steps leading up to Balgruuf’s throne he said, “What’s this about Riverwood being in danger?”

“A dragon destroyed Helgen. Alvor is afraid Riverwood is next.”

“Alvor? The smith, isn’t he? Reliable, solid fellow. Not prone to flights of fancy. Were you personally at Helgen?”

“Yes. The dragon came from the nearby mountain and caused the sky to rain fire shortly before Jarl Ulfric of Windhelm was to be executed. From what I could see in the resulting chaos many of the buildings were in the process of burning to ruin and the stone walls and towers were being knocked to pieces like a child’s plaything of blocks. It flew off roughly to the northeast and at least one woman in Riverwood saw it flying by overhead.”

The Jarl shifted uneasily in his chair. “I should have guessed Ulfric would be mixed up in this. By Ysmir, Irileth was right! What say you now, Proventus? Shall we continue to trust in the strength of our walls? Against a dragon?”

“My lord, we should send troops to Riverwood at once,” Irileth counseled. “It’s in the most immediate danger. If that dragon is lurking in the mountains—”

“The Jarl of Falkreath will view that as a provocation! He’ll assume we’re preparing to join Ulfric’s side and attack him! We should not—”

“Enough!” Balgruuf thundered. “I’ll not stand idly by while a dragon burns my hold and slaughters my people! Irileth, send a detachment to Riverwood at once.”

“Yes, my Jarl.” She immediately turned away to go arrange that.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Proventus said stiffly, “I’ll return to my duties.”

“That would be best,” Balgruuf replied with a noticeable edge to his tone. As Proventus walked away the Jarl turned his attention back to me. “Well done. You sought me out, on your own initiative.”

‘Well, no, not really.’

“You’ve done Whiterun a service, and I won’t forget it. Speak to Proventus in a little while; he will have a small token of my esteem for you. There is another thing you could do for me. Suitable for someone of your particular talents, perhaps. Come, let’s go find Farengar, my court wizard. He’s been looking into a matter related to these dragons and . . . rumors of dragons.”

‘Suitable?’ I thought as the Jarl rose and began to walk to the side rooms where Farengar kept himself. ‘In what sense? All you know I’ve done is escape a dragon-terrorized town and could run here in a timely manner to report about it.’

Bleak Falls Barrow
Evening Star, 21st, 4E 201

“Farengar, I think I’ve found someone who can help you with your dragon project. Go ahead and fill her in with all the details.”

Farengar eyed me and adopted a supercilious expression. “So the Jarl thinks you can be of use to me? Oh yes, he must be referring to my research into the dragons. Yes, I could use someone to fetch something for me. Well, when I say fetch, I really mean delve into a dangerous ruin in search of an ancient stone tablet that may or may not actually be there.”

‘Oh gods, he really does have a stick up his ass when he’s speaking to strangers, now doesn’t he,’ I thought. ‘He wasn’t this bad the first time I met him. It must be the armor making him worse.’ “What does this tablet have to do with dragons?” I asked, hoping to deflect him from his erroneous assumptions.

“Ah, no mere brute mercenary, but a thinker—perhaps even a scholar? You see, when the stories of dragons began to circulate, many dismissed them as mere fantasies, rumors. Impossibilities.”

‘Who had been spreading stories like that?’ I wondered. ‘I’ve never heard any, and I’ve heard a lot of gossip.’

“One sure mark of a fool is to dismiss anything that falls outside his experience as being impossible. But I began to search for information about dragons—where had they gone all those years ago? And where were they coming from?”

“Where is this tablet you’re after?”

“I, ah, learned of a certain stone tablet said to be housed in Bleak Falls Barrow—a ‘Dragonstone’, said to contain a map of dragon burial sites. Go to Bleak Falls Barrow, find this tablet—no doubt in the main chamber—and bring it to me. Simplicity in itself.”

I nodded. “How do you know this tablet is in Bleak Falls Barrow?”

“Well. Must preserve some professional secrets, mustn’t we?” Farengar said coyly. “I have my sources . . . reliable sources.”

I nodded again. “Securing the tablet will not be a problem. I will return anon,” I said, then left. His source was obviously reliable to a point, but not reliable enough if they didn’t realize someone had already plundered the barrow. I would have to find a place to change so I could enter Elysium as myself, get the stone I’d been using as a damn decoration, and change back before returning to Dragonsreach.

I hastened out of the city and struck out in an as direct as possible route to bring me back up to the road to Riverwood, but diverted as soon as I could to a spot of privacy so I could summon Luggage. I would have to consider keeping my mage gear on me at all times. The pouch I had found ages ago in the Arch-Mage’s quarters had some peculiar properties and would allow for it, and I might not always be able to find a place private enough to summon Luggage and effect the swap.

Properly dressed as myself, I dismissed Luggage and angled back so I could drop down into Elysium from behind. I slipped into the cellar using the trapdoor out back and then up into the house proper. My housecarl gave me his usual greeting from his seat by the fire.

“Hello, Valdimar. I’m only stopping for a moment, I’m afraid. I trust everything has been quiet?”

“Yes, my Thane. Only the usual incursions of wolves and the odd bandit to deal with.”

“Excellent,” I said. “Carry on, then.” I hastened into my bedroom and found the stone, shoved it into my bizarre pouch, and hurried back on out via the front door. I jumped over the wall around the property and hurried back up the steep hill until I found a suitable spot, and after I checked around with my vampiric vision to ensure no one was in range, I swapped robes for the ring and armor again.

I was back at Dragonsreach quickly enough with the Dragonstone in hand. As I came up the steps to the level Farengar’s study was on I could hear him speaking with someone, so I slowed down considerably so I could eavesdrop.

“You see? The terminology is clearly First Era or even earlier. I’m convinced this is a copy of a much older text. Perhaps dating to just after the Dragon War. If so, I could use this to cross-reference the names with the other later texts.”

“Good,” said a female voice; she sounded mature, hardened, confident. “I’m glad you’re making progress. My employers are anxious to have some tangible answers.”

“Oh, have no fear. The Jarl himself has finally taken an interest, so I’m now able to devote most of my time to this research.”

“Time is running, Farengar, don’t forget. This isn’t some theoretical question. Dragons have come back.”

“Yes, yes,” he said a bit dismissively. “Don’t worry. Although the chance to see a living dragon up close would be tremendously valuable. Now, let me show you something else I found—very intriguing—I think your employers may be interested as well. Hmm?”

Farengar had spotted me approaching.

“Ah, yes, the Jarl’s protégé! Back from Bleak Falls Barrow so quickly? You didn’t die, it seems. Ah! The Dragonstone! Seems you are a cut above the usual brutes the Jarl sends my way.”

The woman with him eyed me from beneath the dubious concealment of her hood; she seemed to be sizing me up.

I refrained from rolling my eyes, or from explaining just how I had obtained the tablet so quickly, and set it gently on the desk.

“My . . . associate here will be pleased to see your handiwork. She discovered its location, by means she has so far declined to share with me. So, your information was correct after all. And we have our friend to thank for recovering it for us.”

“You went into Bleak Falls Barrow and got that? Nice work,” the woman said. There was some quality to her words that set me on edge. It made me wonder if she knew just how little time had passed before I had been asked to retrieve it and when I had turned back up with it. To Farengar she said, “Just send me a copy when you’ve deciphered—”