“...and her beautiful golden hair shown through the dark fortress like a beacon of light! Illuminating the battlefield with her presence and driving the foul necromancers from the shadows with her heroic blade! Why, even as she cut down several- no! -dozens of the fiends with her comrades, the dashing Thane of Solitude, Erikur, who bravely charged the foul undead wherever they appeared and never hesitated from rushing to her aid in the few moments where the duplicity of their foe managed to dishonorably distract the fair Swordmaiden and the elf mage who assisted them…”
I did my best to ignore the ramblings of Erikur as he narrated our adventure -again!- to several members of the Bard’s College and tried focusing on reading the journal of the Ritual Master. It was rather hard since every mention of Jordis launched him into praising some aspect of her. Not that anything he said was completely false, they were just exaggerated in the normal manner for Nords. But it was getting harder and harder to ignore as Erikur went on and concentrating on the book in front of me was next to impossible.
With an irritated sigh, I snapped the journal closed. Clearly I wasn’t going to be able to focus on that for the moment.
I left my table and made my way through the throngs of people looking for a good story from the ‘local hero’ and headed for the bar. If I wasn’t going to be able to read in peace, I might as well try and listen to the rumors going around the city.
“What can I get you?” the imperial behind the bar asked by way of greeting.
“The best fruit wine you have and the latest gossip if you can.”
“Hmph, I’d be a pretty lousy innkeeper if I didn’t keep an ear to the ground.” the barkeeper said as he went about getting my drink.
“I won’t bother you with the events down in Wolfskull Cave, you’d have to be deaf not to have heard it five times by now.”
I nodded in agreement.
“Let’s see… are you looking for work or just the news going around?”
“Just the news for now. Outside the city too.” I had enough gold to last a few years, especially after the last few weeks, but there was no need to let him know that.
“You and everyone else.” The barkeeper said wryly. “Not too surprisingly most of the rumors trickling in are about the appearance of the Dragonborn. People are saying he went to join the Dawnguard, but no one knows for sure. Other than that the Legion and the Stormcloaks are skirmishing out by Fort Fellhammer and the Thalmor are poking around more and more old ruins. To be honest, most folk are still too scared to travel with the dragons suddenly out in the wilds. I’m sure they will risk going out soon enough but for now most news is pretty slow.”
That idiot joined the Dawnguard? Why?! He should be focusing on dealing with the 40-ton lizard problem, not going off to investigate a bunch of blood sucking corpses that have a very high chance of killing him!
“I-I see…” I trailed off uselessly. “Any ideas on what the Thalmor are looking for?”
The barkeeper shrugged. “The normal things. Talos worship cults, ancient magical artifacts, breaches of the Concordat. And the Thalmor themselves naturally won’t say anything about it. Though one of the guards did overhear Justicar Aedifeth mention they were after some old scroll or something.”
There were too many coincidences piling up again. Some God, Destiny, or Fate was pushing me and the Dragonborn together again if things were going to be anything like Helgen again. That Silline was conveniently overheard when I had been unsuccessful hunting her down for years was not natural.
My hands clenched hard around my goblet.
Which meant I was about to get dragged into the role of making sure the Dragonborn doesn’t commit suicide by hubris again, wasn’t I?
“Other than that, not too much out of the ordinary, thank the gods. Can I get you anything else?”
I shook my head, “No, that's fine for me.”
The barkeeper nodded and moved on to help another patron and I nursed my drink for a bit.
The worst thing about this is I didn’t really have a choice.
If I ignored this, there was a very good chance Silline would run across Thor and the stupid bitch would no doubt jump at the chance at killing the Nord and pinning it on the Legion. The death of a figure like him would set Skyrim against the rest of the Empire permanently and she was too short sighted to care about the dragons or vampire army that would follow without someone to stop them until it threatened to spill out of the province.
I was so lost in my thoughts I barely noticed when Jordis sat down next to me with a plate of food and a tankard of ale.
“Something wrong?” she asked in her deadpan tone.
I jerked slightly at the sound of her voice. “What are you doing here?”
Jordis simply raised an eyebrow and motioned at the food in front of her.
“I meant why are you doing here with me specifically?” I retorted.
“Quieter over here. No hags around.”
I turned back to the main room and saw Erikur chatting boisterously with a couple women who were staring with star-struck eyes. Ah… someone was a bit jealous I see… Something I didn’t really understand since if Jordis simply walked over, Erikur would be too busy waxing poetic around her to notice anything else.
As if drawn by that thought Erikur suddenly disengaged from the swarm of admirers and made his way over and directly to Jordis’ side.
“Ah, Jordis Sword-maiden! It must be a lucky day for those in this establishment to be graced by your beauty, why, I would dare say you would be fit for only the finest of feasting halls. If you find the fare here unworthy, then I would be happy to accompany you elsewhere to a place more fitting.” I was mildly impressed Erikur had the gall to insult the inn we were at with the owner not ten steps away.
Jordis apparently didn’t mind that at all. “Oh? Are you challenging me to a duel?”
Ah. That was right, Jordis had declared she wouldn’t be in a relationship with someone who couldn’t beat her. Apparently she was excited by the thought of Erikur challenging her.
“There would be no greater honor than meeting you on a field of battle, but this is just a simple request for your time. Though I would…” he tried to deflect.
“Tomorrow morning at the training field. Ten bells.” Jordis interrupted. Immediately after she made her demand, Jordis shut out the rest of the world and focused on her food so she didn’t see Erikur slump in defeat. I snickered into my wine at the odd courting dance, even for Nords, that these two insisted on doing.
My laughter was noticeable enough to shift his attention to me and he straightened up like the last conversation simply didn’t happen.
“Ah, Thalin, so this is where you went. Apologies, I did want to ask you something before we were approached to relay the tale of our adventure.” Erikur was about as serious as I had ever seen him. Also seemingly forgetting I played no part in ‘relaying our adventure’.
“Do you plan on waiting here for the one you seek to return?” he asked.
That was certainly my plan before the news I had just gotten. Now I had information that meant I would be heading East as soon as I finished packing up any odds and ends still in the room I had rented and resupplied.
“I don’t.” I answered. “I’ll be leaving the city in a day or two by the looks of it. Why?”
“I want to go with you.”
Huh? I straightened up at the sudden request and Jordis stared at the Thane with an unusual intensity.
“I’m sorry what?”
Erikur stared at me with steel in his eyes. “I haven’t found anything about the supposed backer for that ritual in the city. The only option left to me would be to scour the countryside in search of a lead, but to wander aimlessly would be a waste. But you have experience with this and you are no doubt still investigating, so I wish to offer my services.”
Well, while it was true I was still going to look into whoever was behind the Potema summoning. I wasn’t exactly going to be prioritising it.
Before I could say anything, Erikur turned and started walking off. “I will go prepare for our journey. And may the gods smile on our endeavour!”
“Wait I…” ’never agreed to you coming with me…’ I failed to protest before he was too far to hear. In the meantime Jordis had finished off her meal and suddenly stood up.
“I’ll prepare a travel pack.” She declared and headed out the door without another word.
I could only watch in bemusement as I gained another traveling companion without any say so on my part. I didn’t really mind though. Both of them were capable enough that I wouldn’t need to babysit them in a fight and I would probably need the help if Silline decided to leave her own companions behind and flee when I did manage to catch up with her.
That and there was almost no chance that they were working with the Thalmor.
Certain Nords might be willing to cooperate with those Altmer due to their loyalty to the Empire, but outright subordination to the holier-than-thou bastards was nearly unheard of.
And it would have to be subordination because there is no way the Thalmor could stand letting a public figure like a Thane run around with knowledge of their plans and not have complete control of him. For once their paranoid tendencies were working in my favor.
“Well then, I should go restock what I need before the shops close. No telling how long we’ll be in the wilderness this time…” I mused aloud.