Erikur was happy to tell me all the details regarding the Necromancers we were heading towards. Strange lights and sounds coming from a cave had freaked out the locals, eventually word got out as a Thalmor patrol was heading by and for some reason they volunteered to check it out.
Obviously they didn’t actually clear out the cave, otherwise we wouldn’t be headed there ourselves, but they had passed the word on to the Vigilants how there were likely a coven of Necromancers after they ran into a few skeletons. Erikur had talked to someone else in the Palace who overheard the Altmer discussing checking on the cave when they were leaving Solitude.
I thought it was strange they would want to check on a cave they reported and decided not to clear the first time, but I said nothing. These two wouldn’t be able to tell me why anyway so it would just lead to uninformed speculation. That question could be answered later.
Anyway, Erikur had talked to Jarl Elisif about the cave and it was decided since they apparently didn’t have the manpower for the Legion to investigate, Erikur would make sure the cave was either cleared out. By himself and any companions he brought or by the Legion if he couldn’t handle it.
I listened carefully to everything he said and came to the conclusion that we were about to deal with one of the three issues I decided needed a personal touch while I was in Skyrim. I would get to the other two when they became relevant, but Potema the Wolf Queen was one of those issues that I knew would be a massive problem if left alone. It was one of those ‘minor quests’ that the Dragonborn could skip over fairly easily despite the level of threat Potema posed to the rest of Tamriel.
She wasn’t as immediately threatening as some of the other issues, Alduin and Harkkon were more in that category, but she was fully capable of threatening the world if left alone. Should she be revived then pretty soon there would be an army of the undead marching across the Empire as she attempted to claim the throne.
Since I enjoyed not being surrounded by rotting corpses, I was going to make sure she never got the chance to set foot on Nirn again.
I debated pulling the seer card again to let the other two know what we were heading into, but there was one thing that made me rethink that.
Seers were incredibly rare. So much so that even hints at ones often caused various orders to send agents to investigate.
I was able to get away with it at Helgen simply because the town was destroyed and any hints of a seer would be ignored by the news of a dragon if the barmaid even survived. But if another report made its way to the Thalmor without something more urgent to focus on then there was no doubt hunting parties would be scouring all of Skyrim until the reported seer was captured or dead.
It was also possible my temporary companions might tell the Jarl about that and I would be… ’invited’... as a guest for Solitude and the Legion. And while I didn’t mind visiting the city, I was not about to have restrictions placed on my freedom to leave.
So once Erikur finished sharing all the details he had I shifted the conversation to learning more about the two of them.
Erikur seemed almost eager to share his history. The son of a wealthy merchant and minor noble, he had plenty of opportunity to train with the best tutors money could buy. He sheepishly admitted he had gotten a bit arrogant about his status and might have been a spoiled brat for a few years until he met Jordis in a local youth fighting tournament where she promptly flattened him.
Being the immature hormonally driven creature all younglings are, Erikur blamed the loss on Jordis and that she must have cheated somehow and challenged her several more times. Yet the result was the same no matter what.
He danced around the specifics but from what I gathered from several stories was that at some point his feelings of frustration changed into a deep crush and he was left unsure how to pursue it. He told me that he decided to model himself after the greatest Thanes in the land to make sure he would be worthy of the one he was interested in and would only announce his feelings when he was.
Probably the best thing about his story was that Jordis was constantly looking away from the two of us with an expression of jealousy on her face.
When it was her turn to introduce herself she kept the details fairly light.
She was an orphan brought up in the care of the priests in the Temple of the Divines after her parents were killed by bandits. She was given a chance to train with the Justicars that stayed there between patrols and discovered she was a natural prodigy with a sword.
Because of this, she was offered additional training and the opportunity to eventually become a housecarl in the future as long as she impressed her teachers enough. She devoted herself to training and studies to ensure that she could pay back the kindness the priests had shown her and was determined to be the best she could be.
There was naturally some overlap with Erikur’s story since they did grow up together so she skipped a good portion saying she was hoping that her skill would eventually win her the attention of the one she admired and that he would accept her as a housecarl since he was from a good house and couldn’t marry her. And since she was looking at me she missed the expression on Erikur’s face.
Once she was done it took all my willpower to not burst out laughing at the two of them. Both of them had feelings for the other and were too oblivious to realise it!
I was tempted to interfere but I’m sure others had tried and presumably failed to get the two to realise the other’s feelings. It would be less frustrating if I just remained an observer. Funnier too.
“So what about you?” Erikur asked once Jordis had finished sharing.
“We told you all about us, but what about your history? How did you learn to fight and what are you hoping to achieve?”
I leaned back at the question. Talking about my past wasn’t really something I was interested in, but it was only fair I suppose.
“There’s not much to say unfortunately,” I partially lied. “I grew up in a small town in Cyrodiil. And like most children I wanted to be the next big hero. The best archer, mage, or swordfighter around going out to defeat the evil Deadra plot threatening the land.
Unlike most of those children, I put effort into my dream. I took lessons from retired soldiers, because they knew how to fight. I studied magic so I could either use it myself or know how to defend against it. I learned how to forge and enchant my own equipment, because the heroes in the stories did.” I smiled. “Well that or they found a lost artifact that belonged to the gods.”
The two humans seemed stunned at the array of skills.
“Shor’s breath, you did all that? Where would you even find the time?”
I shrugged. “Perks of being a mer. Longer lifespan remember? I am a bit older than the two of you combined.”
Jordis was practically burning a hole in me with the intensity of her stare. “And you were practicing swordsmanship for that whole time?” Ah, she was hoping I could teach her something.
“Well not the whole time. My interests wandered over the years, but if you are looking for a spar after the investigation I would be happy to.”
My offer got a small smile from the stoic Nord that quickly disappeared.
“So you’re a hero down south then?” Erikur asked in an excited tone.
I had to laugh at that.
“Not really. Sure there are likely a few people thankful to me for clearing out some bandits, goblins, or the like but it's not like throngs of people chant my name in the streets. As it happens without that Daedra plot, doing all those things just makes you a very successful adventurer.”
“Haha well maybe you will have a chance up here! Rumors are coming in that the Dragonborn was summoned by the Greybeards.”
“Perhaps.” I demurred. “Though it is late and we have some distance to cover tomorrow. Wake me when it’s my turn to take watch.”
With that I cleared my plates and settled in for the night.
In the distance I could see Erikur and Jordis still conversing by the fire as thoughts long buried rose to the surface. The biggest lie in my story was wanting to be a hero. The real reason I strived to be as skilled as I was, was out of a simple fear of how dangerous the world was. When the Oblivion crisis ravaged the land I was content to remain in my hometown and fend off the Daedra attacks.
I always had very little desire to explore too far from home. If I was being honest I would probably still be there if I wasn’t focused on hunting down Silline and perfectly content to just let the dragon business sort itself out. Half the reason I ditched Thor at the first opportunity was because I didn’t want to become a widely recognised person following the hero saving the world. If I did then there was no chance of me simply disappearing into the background again. Although there was still a chance I would get dragged into that anyway.
With a resigned sigh I rolled over and closed my eyes. The future could wait for now. I’d just need to adapt as it arrived.
The front of Wolfskull Cave is actually incredibly unremarkable.
By the name I was actually hoping that there would be a rock structure that looked like a wolf head or something, but it was just another hole in the ground.
“No sign of guards?”
“Not that I can see, but if there were obvious signs of trouble the Legion would’ve investigated.
“Probably hidden. Surroundings or inside?”
“My guess is inside. I doubt they have a way to warn anyone even if they did hide out here.”
“I’d rather tether a magelight to the both of you.”
“That works I suppose. Just warn us when they are about to dispel?”
“Hmph, what do you think I am, an amature? I can hold a magelight for hours easily.”
The mood grew more serious as we sneaked up to the mouth of the cave. A quick glance down the tunnel didn’t reveal anything particularly helpful. No guards, no sign of people inside, and nothing else out of the ordinary for a cave entrance.
Jordis, being the only one with a shield, is the first through the entrance with Erikur and myself following shortly behind her. As soon as the light of the surface starts to fade I attached a softly glowing orb of light to the two of them. A sad necessity when dealing with humans. Afterall mer weren’t nearly so blind in the dark.
We silently crept through the cave. There were little signs everywhere that people, probably bandits, had been using the cave as a shelter for some time. Discarded tools, bones from old hunts, and more obviously the firelight coming from around the corner up ahead.
“Two bandits ahead.” Jordis reported peeking around the wall. “Haven’t noticed us yet.”
“No they definitely know we’re here.” I commented. Behind us three skeletons had made their way out from behind several rock formations. It was actually somewhat clever. The necromancer had hidden them behind some deer carcasses so that if the odd bone was spotted it would be dismissed as part of the deer unless the intruder went looking behind the rock. Or knew for a fact there were necromancers hiding out here.
Erikur hefted his greataxe. “I’ll take those three. You deal with the two ahead.”
He rushed off before I could say anything. I wasn’t worried though. Even if I could’ve killed them faster, a couple skeletons didn’t stand a chance against a heavily armed Nord warrior. Especially one that saw them coming.
“Fine then,” I muttered, turning back to Jordis. “Let’s go. The bandits are probably zombies if they have skeletons guarding the entrance. I’ll deal with any necromancer we run into.”
Jordis nodded and we rounded the corner. Jordis split off to deal with the two bandits and I moved forward to confront a Dunmer necromancer that had been hidden from our previous location.
The necromancer wasn’t anything special. An icicle of frost magic splintered against my warding spell and that was all he could do before my longsword removed his hand. The Dunmer grabbed his maimed arm and screamed in pain but was interrupted when I punched him in the face and placed my sword at his throat.
“Hello friend. Would you mind answering a few questions?” I asked darkly as Erikur and Jordis finished their opponents and walked up behind me.