Grazhir :: Skyrim :: Yvara :: 23

24042015-25042015

6.7

Dovahkiin

Alduin’s Bane
Morning Star, 21st, 4E 202

I dismissed Luggage and hugged the Elder Scroll to me. “You said Dragonrend was used to cripple Alduin. But he seemed fine to me. What did you mean, then?”

“Krosis. Dragonrend causes a dov to feel the weight of tiid as a joor would. Dov do not die except in battle. That weight forces a dov to the ground for a time and to become temporarily weakened.”

Oh. So it aided them greatly, but they were forced to use an Elder Scroll because . . . they weren’t doom-driven heroes fated to defeat Alduin for real?

“Go then. Fulfill your destiny. Take the Kel to the Time-Wound. Do not delay. Alduin will be coming. He cannot miss the signs.” He swung his head around to indicate the spot.

I looked and after a moment could see a distortion, almost like a column of heat rising from the snow. I went to it and took a deep breath, then opened the scroll. As before everything about my vision went strange, but this time after seeing something superimposed on normal vision I was abruptly seeing red-tinted events of the distant past, of a battle. Gormlaith, Hakon, Felldir, fighting a dragon, killing it, to be just another corpse littering the battlefield.

But then Felldir said something. “You do not understand. Alduin cannot be slain like a lesser dragon. He is beyond our strength. Which is why I brought the Elder Scroll.”

What did that mean?

They continued to talk as they kept an eye on the sky, and then Alduin arrived and perched on the word wall. “Meyye! Tahrodiis aanne! Him hinde pah liiv! Zu’u hin daan!”

“Let those that watch from Sovngarde envy us this day!” Gormlaith yelled.

Then the three of them, as one, Shouted, “Joor Zah Frul!”

The Words burned themselves into my mind along with the sheer hate and malice that permeated them, wrapped them, but it was directed at Alduin.

Alduin was caught in the Shout, a warped blue aura surrounding him. “Nivahriin joorre! What have you done? What twisted Words have you created!? Tahrodiis Paarthurnax! My teeth to his neck! But first . . . dir ko maar. You will die in terror, knowing your final fate. To feed my power when I come for you in Sovngarde!”

Alduin could travel to Sovngarde. Right. Not good.

“If I die today, it will not be in terror,” Gormlaith asserted. “You feel fear for the first time, worm. I see it in your eyes.”

Fo Krah Diin!” Felldir Shouted, unleashing a torrent of frost at the dragon.

“Skyrim will be free!” Gormlaith yelled.

They fought, with Gormlaith eventually being snatched up in Alduin’s mouth and thrown aside to die on impact.

Felldir had had enough or knew the fight was futile and grabbed the Elder Scroll from his back and opened it. “Hold, Alduin on the Wing! Sister Hawk, grant us your sacred breath to make this contract heard! Begone, World-Eater! By words with older bones than your own we break your perch on this age and send you out! You are banished! Alduin, we shout you out from all our endings unto the last!”

“Faal Kel. . . !? Niikriinne. . . .” Alduin got out before he vanished.

“You are banished!” Felldir cried.

“It worked—you did it. . . .”

“Yes, the World-Eater is gone. May the spirits have mercy on our souls.”

And then I was back, holding the Elder Scroll, Paarthurnax nearby, with Alduin approaching through the storm. I quickly slipped an arm through the strap and slung the scroll across my back, and prepared.

“Bahloki nahkip sillesejoor. My belly is full of souls of your fellow mortals, Dovahkiin. Die now and await your fate in Sovngarde!” Alduin said as he hovered overhead.

‘But I’m Breton!’ I wailed to myself. ‘We don’t go to Sovngarde!’

“Lost funt,” Paarthurnax retorted. “You are too late, Alduin!”

“Suleyki mulaag, Paarthurnax. My power has waxed, while yours has waned.” Alduin flapped his wings harder and rose in the air, preparing to attack.

“Dovahkiin! Use Dragonrend, if you know it!”

I looked up, straight at Alduin, breathed in deeply, and Shouted. “Joor Zah Frul!”

A pissed off Alduin landed heavily, encased in the warped blue aura I had seen in my vision of the past. I summoned a lich without conscious thought and started arcing lightning at Alduin as quickly as I could manage it.

“Unslaad hakoron! Never again!” Paarthurnax yelled as he fought against Alduin, as well.

“You will pay for your defiance!”

Every time I could feel the strain on my throat ease I Shouted again, to keep Alduin grounded, even though it increased my risk of death. And every time my summon was destroyed or recalled I brought out another. I danced around what space there was, staying out of range of Alduin’s teeth and tail.

“You may have picked up the weapons of my ancient foe, but you are not their equal!”

I was really starting to regret that I had not done the enchantments on my armor differently when Alduin finally appeared to be, if not dead, beaten down.

“Meyz mul, Dovahkiin,” he said. “You have become strong. But I am Al-du-in, firstborn of Akatosh! Mulaagi zok lot! I cannot be slain here, by you or anyone else! You cannot prevail against me. I will outlast you . . . mortal!” With that he launched himself skyward and flew away.

The Fallen
Morning Star, 22nd, 4E 202

“Damn it,” I muttered. My breathing was ragged, my heart was pounding like mad, and I was feeling more than a little dismayed. I staggered over to the word wall and summoned Luggage so I could store the Elder Scroll, then leaned against the stone to recover my breath and allow my heart to settle back down to familiar patterns.

Paarthurnax came to settle in his original spot and did not seem in any hurry to speak, so I just focused on calming myself. And then I started chuckling. Alduin had said “mortal” like it was some kind of insult.

“Lot krongrah,” Paarthurnax said. “You truly have the Voice of a dovah. Alduin’s allies will think twice after this victory.”

“Well, a partial victory.”

“Ni liivrah him moro. True, this is not the final krongrah. But not even the heroes of old were able to defeat Alduin in open battle. Alduin always was pahlok—arrogant in his power. Uznahgar paar. He took domination as his birthright. This should shake the loyalty of the dov who serve him.”

“I hope so. The fewer dragons I’m forced to kill the better. He can travel to Sovngarde. I saw him say it then and he said it now, too, assuming he spoke truth and not a falsehood to demoralize his foes. But how to get there? Assuming that’s even where he went.”

“Geh. One of his allies could tell us. Motmahus. . . . But it will not be easy to . . . convince one of them to betray him. Perhaps the hofkahsejun—the palace in Whiterun—Dragonsreach. It was originally built to house a captive dovah. A fine place to trap one of Alduin’s allies, hmm?”

‘Oh yes, that would go over well.’ I chortled a bit giddily. “The Jarl of Whiterun might not think so. Trapped, huh? Is this related to Numinex? I read a poem about that once.”

“Geh. This was ages ago, you understand. There were more of us then. Before the bruniikke—the Akaviri—came and killed all my zeymah. I used to visit him from time to time. Nearly crazed by loneliness and captivity. Tiiraz sivaas. He did not even remember his own name. I do not know how he came to be caught. But the bronjun, the Jarl, was very proud of his pet. Paak! The hofkahsejun has been known as Dragonsreach ever since.”

I exhaled slowly. “You’re the Master of the Greybeards. Do others come here to train?”

“I have taught the Way of the Voice for centuries and the Thu’um since long before that. But no, Dovahkiin. Others do not come here to train anymore. Saraan. You are the first in over a hundred years. I meditate on the Rotmulaag—the Words of Power. I counsel in their use. It is enough for me.”

That must mean that Ulfric had never met Paarthurnax. In truth, I had no idea how old he’d been when he trained with the Greybeards, nor how long he had stayed. “You meditate on the words?” It seemed a somewhat strange thing to do for a being that spoke the language as its very own.

“Knowing a Word of Power is to take its meaning into yourself. Contemplate the meaning of a Rotmulaag. You will become closer to that Word, as it fills your inner self. Shall I teach you, Dovahkiin? What Word calls you to deeper understanding. There are three you can choose from: Fus, Feim, and Yol.”

“Hm.” I already had spells for fire, so I wasn’t particularly interested in that one. What little I understood or had guessed about Feim—Fade was interesting in the possibilities, but also not something I was presently concerned about. That left Unrelenting Force, which could be used as a type of crowd control. True, there were spells that could be used. Fear, Turn Undead, Paralyze, but. . . . There was something poetic in the idea of using Unrelenting Force against those skeevy Deathlords. “Fus,” I said.

“It is called ‘Force’ in your tongue,” Paarthurnax replied. “But as you push the world, so does the world push back. Think of the way force may be applied effortlessly. Imagine but a whisper pushing aside all in its path. That is ‘Fus’. Let its meaning fill you. Su’um ahrk morah. You will push the world harder than it pushes back.”

Something of what he said, or how he said it, made a certain kind of sense. I would have to contemplate his words with due diligence. It made me wonder if I could simply do the same for the other words I had learned, but had not yet . . . unlocked, so to speak, by finding the deeper understanding from within an absorbed dragon’s soul. Definitely something to spend time on, with what time I had.

The sun would be coming up shortly if my reading of the sky meant anything. I rather hoped that the Greybeards were asleep and undisturbed by the battle, but I knew that was unlikely to be the case. But there was a curious side effect of my training. Talent in certain magical arts actually helped to mask my use of Shouts. A person would have to be fairly nearby to actually hear the words, though they would certainly see the effects. Well, not Aura Whisper, but that was unique anyway. Either way, it was probably still best not to chance using them unless I was wearing my disguise.

“Thank you,” I said. “For the lesson and the help. I should go down to High Hrothgar now and let the Greybeards know what transpired. And then get some rest.” At least I was no longer worried that using Dragonrend would somehow turn me into a cesspool of hatred, for dragons or anyone else, or that it would hurt me, rend my own soul.

“Geh,” was all he said.

I skittered back down the mountain as quickly as I could, Shouting away the hazardous mist, until I gratefully slipped back inside High Hrothgar. Arngeir was awake, meditating, but he rose as soon as the door thudded shut.

“Alduin. . . . We heard the Dragonrend Shout from here. You defeated him?”

“Sort of,” I admitted, not particularly wanting to verbally confirm that Paarthurnax had been my ally in the fight to a pacifist Greybeard. “He fled, I think to Sovngarde.”

Arngeir nodded. “I feared as much. I thought it was him we saw flying east after your battle. The old tales say that he is able to travel into Sovngarde to devour the souls of the dead. But they don’t say how he does this.”

“I am going to ask Jarl Balgruuf if I can trap a dragon at Dragonsreach, to obtain the information that way. I doubt he’ll like it, but I don’t see what else I can do. I just—Sovngarde? I hope I don’t have to die to. . . .”

“If it is a portal of some kind, I doubt that measure of sacrifice would be required, merely that you have the courage.”

Well, that was sort of comforting. “I need to get some sleep before I go try to convince the Jarl.”

“You are welcome to rest here, as always,” he said.

“Thank you, Master Arngeir,” I said with an incline of my head. I slept for about six hours before I popped awake again, so I headed off down the mountain. I needed some time to think about what had happened and what could, so I wasn’t going straight to Whiterun.

It was sad, really. There were only four Greybeards and no one had come to study with them—to stay, that is—in a hundred years or more. Would anyone else ever make that journey? Or were the Greybeards a dying breed?

I recalled something Esbern had babbled about and once I got down to Ivarstead I set out to find a place called Broken Oar Grotto, the last known location of one of the Blades. But along the way I stumbled over an unfortunate Nord propped up against some rocks outside a cave. Valdr was his name, and he was badly in need of healing, which I provided. He and his fellow hunters had encounter a slight problem, it seemed, inside the cave. He knew his friends must be dead, but asked if I would be willing to go in and take care of the beasts.

Inside were three spriggans and a bear, plus his two dead friends. I left the corpses alone out of respect, but killed off the creatures. I went back out to let Valdr know it was safe in there for the time being and he gave me his “lucky” dagger as thanks before going in to see about transporting his friends for a decent burial. I don’t think he had any clue who I was, which was just as well.

Morning Star, 23rd, 4E 202

I found the place. It was quite nice, actually, though the bears and wolves and spriggans were somewhat annoying. After they were all dead I had the chance to look around and admire the place. It had a little waterfall and pool for fresh water, a shrine to Talos, and a note left behind by that Blades member, Bolar. With it was his blade, which I took to later stick on a display.

I came out in time to see a Thalmor patrol and quickly ducked behind some rocks until they got out of range. Just in case. When I started moving again I realized there were a lot of people on the road for it being midnight. I would arrive at Whiterun soon and could get some (uneasy) sleep.

After I woke up I checked in with Lydia for messages and swore. ‘Why do people send requests for me to take care of bandits and feral beasts in homes when the Companions are right up the damn street? Do they expect their legendary Nord hero to do the jobs with a smile and no expectation of reward?’

I walked in on Avenicci and the Jarl’s brother, Hrongar, having a conversation, right there in plain sight and hearing of Balgruuf. Hrongar was trying to get Avenicci to persuade the Jarl to effort in the war and Avenicci basically told him to say it himself and not try to go through him.

Avenicci, of course, was all about avoiding the war, even to the point of having protested aid being sent to Riverwood because it might have caused Jarl Siddgeir in Falkreath to get the wrong idea. But really? To advise denying people of your own hold necessary aid? Avenicci was a coward and didn’t even seem to bother to understand the Nord people. I can’t blame him for wanting to avoid the civil war or being the mouthpiece of someone whose views he disagreed with, but. . . .

The Jarl greeted me when I approached and I responded with, “I am in need of your help. I need to trap a dragon in your palace.”

Balgruuf’s expression went blank for a moment. “I must have misheard you. I thought you asked me to help you trap a dragon in my palace.”

“You heard correctly. I hope you know I would not ask something so outrageous were it not so important.”

“. . .Of course. You already saved Whiterun from that dragon. I owe you a great deal. But I don’t understand. Why let a dragon into the heart of my city when we’ve been working so hard to keep them out?”

“Ah. The threat is worse than just dragons. Alduin has returned,” I said, hoping that as a Nord he would know what that meant.

“Alduin? The World-Eater himself?” Balgruuf sat up properly for a moment, then subsided. “But . . . how can we fight him? Doesn’t his return mean it’s the end times?”

“Yes, the World-Eater. And maybe it is, but I plan to go down fighting, and to do that I need to be able to find out where he went before it’s too late. That means trapping a dragon.”

“Spoken like a true Nord,” Balgruuf said, making me frown a bit beneath my mask even though I knew he meant in a good way. “I’ll stand beside you, Dragonborn. And Whiterun will stand with you. But I need your help first. Ulfric and General Tullius are both just waiting for me to make a wrong move. Do you think they will sit idle as a dragon is slaughtering my men and burning my city? No. I can’t risk weakening the city while we are under the threat of an enemy attack.”

“So first that needs to be dealt with,” I almost muttered. “Perhaps a temporary cease fire.”

“Getting both sides to agree to a truce will be difficult at this point. The bitterness has gone too deep. Maybe . . . hmm . . . what of the Greybeards? They are respected by all Nords. High Hrothgar is neutral territory. If the Greybeards are willing to host a peace council . . . then maybe Ulfric and Tullius would have to listen.”

I nodded. It wasn’t a bad idea. “Leave that to me. I’ll speak with Master Arngeir about hosting a peace council.”

“Aye, Dragonborn. Maybe you can stop the dragons—and this war into the bargain.”

‘That might be a bit much,’ I thought. ‘I expect nothing more than a temporary cease fire, but that’s all we need right now.’ I gave him a respectful incline of my head and hastened off, unhappy that I would have to climb the mountain again so soon, and knowing that if they agreed, I would be back down, to either end of Skyrim, and back up again.

Five hours later and I was outside High Hrothgar, tired and cranky. I never used to be this cranky or prone to anger. Maybe it was the dragon souls? It wasn’t a will to dominate, not like those Dragonborn in the stories, Reman and Tiber, just crankiness, irritation, anger—a base dislike or loathing of stupidity and being discounted. But I had always been like that to an extent, ever since I was infected. Being a vampire did things to your way of thinking. Being Dragonborn exacerbated certain of those traits.

I tracked down Arngeir and sighed. “I’m afraid I need your help in capturing that dragon.”

Before I could elaborate he replied. “We are not warriors. What is overlooked in the Dragonborn is not permitted to any other followers of the Way of the Voice.”

“I understand that,” I said. “And I would never think to ask any of you to fight. That would be blatantly disrespectful. To capture that dragon I need is your help to stop the war, even temporarily.”

“You misunderstand our authority,” he said, kindling irritation within me at his misapprehensions and failure to give me the chance to explain fully before jumping in. “The Greybeards have never involved themselves in political affairs.”

I nodded. “This I also understand. However, Jarl Balgruuf cannot help me while the war rages and both sides are just waiting for an opportunity to attack Whiterun. He thought perhaps that your reputation and that of High Hrothgar might provide a neutral setting for both sides to convene, to get them to agree to the cease fire needed. Both sides respect you.”

Arngeir was silent for a time. He seemed pleased that I did understand their limitations—ones they imposed on themselves—but also uneasy at actually taking part in even a small way. “Paarthurnax has made the decision to help you,” he finally said. “This is the road we have to walk. Even the Greybeards must bend to the winds of change, it seems. So be it. Tell Ulfric and General Tullius that the Greybeards wish to speak with them. We will see if they still remember us.”

“Thank you, Master Arngeir.”

The Fallen; Season Unending
Morning Star, 24th, 4E 202

Windhelm was a problem for me. The absolute last thing I wished to do was appear before Ulfric as the Dragonborn, not after receiving more than one entreaty to join his damn army. But—ah, now there was an idea. Jorleif knew me already, from having handled the issue of the Butcher. It was with that reasoning that I had ended up at Candlehearth the night previous as myself and rented a room.

I entered the Palace of Kings and immediately noticed Ulfric was on his throne. I swallowed in distaste and went to Jorleif and, wearing a half annoyed, half perplexed expression, offered him a note I had thought up the night previous. “I was waylaid on my way into the city to do some shopping and more or less ordered to come here,” I said, letting exasperation colour my voice. “I figured I would come talk to you, because at least you know me and would have some idea what to do.”

He read the note and frowned, then glanced back at Ulfric. “Wait a moment,” he said, then went over to speak with the Jarl quietly. After a bit I was motioned over.

“You have a message from the Greybeards, the note said,” Ulfric said to me. “It’s about time they turned their gazes from the heavens, back to our bleeding homeland. What do they want?”

I glanced down at a different piece of parchment I’d prepared, then looked up and said softly, trying my very best to ensure any rumbling of power was not present in my voice, “They want to negotiate a truce until the dragon menace is dealt with.”

“I have the greatest respect for the Greybeards, of course,” he said, implying that he did not. “And the dragon attacks are a growing plague. But the political situation is still delicate. Not all the Jarls are fully committed to supporting me as High King. I can’t afford to appear weak. I can’t agree to this unless Tullius himself will be there.”

Ulfric was a Nord, so—“Please forgive my impertinence, Jarl Ulfric, but politics mean little when Alduin has returned.”

“Alduin? The World-Eater of song and legend?”

“I was assured that this is the case,” I said earnestly. “That Alduin was the black dragon at Helgen.”

“If that’s true,” he said, “well, it changes the situation doesn’t it? Even Tullius may be forced to talk sense in the face of such a threat. Who stopped you and gave you the message to deliver? Describe them.”

“A woman in armor; it made me think of dragons to look at it. But I could not see her face,” I said with a shake of my head. “Her voice was like a rumble of thunder.”

Ulfric looked displeased that the Dragonborn had been so close and had chosen to avoid him rather than deliver the message in person. “I see. You may go.”

I inclined my head and stepped away, hearing him give orders to one of his men as I departed. He would be coming, so I just had to get to Solitude and convince Tullius.

Morning Star, 24th, 4E 202

I arrived late and went to Proudspire Manor. Though I could go to Tullius in the morning and get it out of the way, I wanted to give Ulfric an extra day or so to get to High Hrothgar so that the two parties would absolutely not meet up on the way. I had made sure to dispatch a courier to Jarl Balgruuf with the news on the way.

Morning Star, 25th, 4E 202

Lucia would like to be a bard; who knew? She was living in the right city for it. Blaise still wanted to be in the Legion. I gave them each toys I had picked up along the way and spent some time with them. I might not be their mother, but I tried to be kind to them above and beyond having given them a decent home. Jordis had nothing of note to discuss with me, so things were fine, and I made sure she had plenty of coin to keep the place running.

Morning Star, 26th, 4E 202

I slipped out very early and under the cover of invisibility found a place to change identities. When it was late enough I headed to Castle Dour to speak with General Tullius. One of the guards pointed the way, and a guard at the door opened it for me.

Inside I heard Tullius and one of his people talking about a potential attack on Whiterun by Ulfric. Not good news for Balgruuf and I could see why he’d be hesitant to go with my plan without better assurances. Tullius was easier on my nerves to deal with, though still not immediately amenable. He seemed irritated that I would just walk in and interrupt his tactics meeting or whatever it was until I said, “I bring a message from the Greybeards,” taking care to let the rumble of dragon souls and power alter my voice.

“The Greybeards?” he asked skeptically. “What do those old hermits want with me?”

“They’re convening a peace council at High Hrothgar,” I said and was immediately interrupted.

“There’s nothing to discuss as long as that traitor Ulfric is in arms against his rightful Emperor,” Tullius said with only partly-masked heat.

“A truce is needed until the dragon menace is dealt with,” I stated.

“They are getting to be a problem,” Tullius admitted. “But I wasn’t sent to Skyrim to fight dragons. My job is to quell this rebellion, and I intend to do just that, dragons or no dragons.”

“There are several problems with that,” I said, and plowed on before he could object to what I said. “First, I have witnessed your Legionnaires bogged down in dragon fights, which neuters your effectiveness, though I expect the Stormcloaks are having similar problems. Second, the Empire cannot afford to snub the Greybeards, not while fighting in a Nord country. Third, though I expect you will not see it the way a Nord would, Alduin, World-Eater of legend, has returned, and that means that all of this is irrelevant if he holds the power legend assigns him.”

Tullius sighed and relaxed his stance. “You may have a point. It’s getting difficult to even move troops around without attracting a dragon attack. Even Ulfric might see the sense of a truce under these conditions. If I had the reinforcements I need—but most of the Legion is tied down at the border with the Aldmeri Dominion. The Emperor can’t afford to risk weakening Cyrodiil’s defenses. From the Imperial City, our war here is just a sideshow. An interlude before the main event against the Thalmor resumes.”

“You will come to the peace council, then?” I asked, making a mental note of his views on the Thalmor, though wondering why he chose to share that information with me.

“Yes. Yes, fine, I’ll come to this Greybeard council. For all the good it will do.”

Morning Star, 28th, 4E 202

As I was leaving the sleeping area I heard Delphine speaking to Arngeir. ‘What is she doing here?’

“So. Arngeir, is it? You know why we’re here. Are you going to let us in or not? We have as much right to be at this council as all of you. More, actually, since we were the ones who put the Dragonborn on this path.”

‘I must not kill Delphine,’ I thought. Just a few words and I was back to being angry and ready to kill. Gods above, the woman made me homicidal.

“Delphine,” Esbern said, “we’re not here to rehearse old grudges. The matter at hand is urgent. Alduin must be stopped. You wouldn’t have called this council if you didn’t agree. We know a great deal about the situation and the threat that Alduin poses to us all. You need us here if you want this council to succeed.”

‘Well, no,’ I thought. ‘Arngeir would prefer none of them be here to disturb their meditations or draw them into politics. He’s a pacifistic fatalist.’

“Very well,” Arngeir said after a long pause. “You may enter.”

I waited until they had walked away before fully emerging. “So, you’ve done it,” Arngeir said to me. “The men of violence are gathered here, in this hall whose very stones are dedicated to peace. I should not have agreed to host this council. The Greybeards have no business involving ourselves in such matters.”

‘For the love of Kyne,’ I thought. ‘Stop taking it out on me. You agreed because Paarthurnax chose to help me. Don’t make me the guilty one here and you the bullied and oppressed victim.’ “Without this, it’s like saying Akatosh made me Dragonborn on a whim, and teased the world with a false hope,” I said as evenly as I could. “This was the only way to get Jarl Balgruuf’s help.”

“Yes, yes. Which is why I allowed this . . . violation of all our traditions. But regrets are pointless. Let us go into the council chamber and take our places, and let us see what wisdom we can find amongst these warriors of Skyrim.”