I was mostly just numb this morning. Tired, and numb. I didn’t sleep well, and when I did sleep, I dreamt of ‘home’. I saw Druadach, but all of the people who lived there were dead except for me. My old Briarheart, Eriilde… all of them. I stood in darkness near Frosysch’s old tent, Dawnbreaker in my hand, blood dripping from her golden blade.
So I was quite relieved when I awoke with a start, if somewhat… sweaty.
Esbern was already awake, having breakfast at a table at the centre of the ‘bedroom’. I went and joined him, only really half-listening to his ramblings about the quality of the architecture in Sky Haven. That man really likes his carvings.
Day: Fredas Date: 16th day of the season of Frostfall Year: 201st year of the Fourth Era Location: Windhelm, Eastmarch
I awoke early. I had less than three days to locate and neutralise the threat posed to my Thane by the Dark Brotherhood, those same assassins of legend who’ve toppled whole governments throughout Tamriel’s history. With that in mind, it would have been… difficult for me to justify having a lie-in.
The inn remained empty at that time of morning, the drunkards of Windhelm seemingly under no such time constraints as I, so instead I made my way to Windhelm’s market, that other infamous source of local gossip. It was clear to me by then that “I need to find Aventus Aretino so that he can lead me to the Dark Brotherhood” was a foolhardy question to go around asking of people, so I adopted a more… casual approach.
I posed as a prospective resident of the city. I was thinking about moving there from Whiterun (as if anybody in their right mind would do so willingly), and I was just perusing the quality of the city’s services and asking about local goings-on as part of my ‘vetting process’. Apparently I’m a better actor than I’ve given myself credit for, as despite the idea of moving to that dismal, frigid, filthy city being deeply unpleasant to me, even though it was merely a ruse, nobody seemed to catch on to my distaste.
The smith was nowhere to be found so early in the morning, but several other market stalls were already open. The first, owned by a high elf woman, proved futile, but I found a much more pliable gossip at the second stall, a produce stand owned by a fellow Nord.
I woke up this morning with a knot in my stomach. I had a sneaking suspicion about what was causing it, but I had more immediate concerns to fret about.
Delphine and Esbern had gone! They were nowhere to be found! They’d left me! I couldn’t quite believe it! First my own clan, then my best friend, then those two ‘Blades’ who’d promised to help me? I’m going to develop issues at this rate. At least Meeko was still with me. He’s such a good dog.
I hurried out into the main room of the inn but they weren’t there either. Mralki, the innkeeper, said they’d left in a hurry hours ago, but hadn’t said where they were going. I could only assume they were heading to that Sky Haven Temple place they were so obsessed with.
Day: Turdas Date: 15th day of the season of Frostfall Year: 201st year of the Fourth Era Location: Windhelm, Eastmarch
It was with a heavy heart, but great purpose, that I abandoned my Thane today. We returned to Riverwood from Riften, where that Breton woman and her somewhat-unbalanced old companion decided that an old Blades fortress – some place in the Reach – contained some information they needed. I would not be accompanying them, though.
Even to me it was obvious that my Thane was less than enthused by the prospect of visiting the Reach, a place she left after her own people turned against her. She didn’t say anything, but I could see it in her eyes. But fond of her though I may be, my task as Housecarl is clear – her safety must be assured. So she must face this difficult burden alone, for my duties in that regard take precedence.
Today was the day – we finally got to leave Riften. I hope I never have to see that awful city again. I’m just amazed that none of my things were stolen while we were there!
We hurried out of the city after breakfast, during which I unsuccessfully tried once more to crack Esbern, and checked on Frost and Eira. They were both still there, waiting for us at the stables, and they seemed pleased to see us. We gave them some food, then mounted up and headed back to Riverwood the same way we’d come from.
We couldn’t travel too quickly as Esbern was still on foot, and that was fine by me. I was still getting used to the idea of sitting on the back of a horse as he moves around. I have stopped squealing quite as much though. For the most part, I was fine whenever Lydia rode ahead, as Frost seemed content to follow Eira’s speed and direction, but as soon as Lydia let Frost and I take the lead, things typically went downhill.
Day: Middas Date: 14th day of the season of Frostfall Year: 201st year of the Fourth Era Location: Riften, The Rift
Since my last entry, my Thane and I have travelled to Riften, where we rescued a member of the Blades who was in hiding out from the Thalmor down in the Ratway. This has hardly been a dream assignment for a housecarl, either; to plunge into the sewers of the filthiest city in Skyrim, dodging Thalmor soldiers and trying not to arouse the attentions of the Thieves Guild, while simultaneously keeping my Thane safe throughout it all, isn’t what many of us had in mind when we signed up.
It hasn’t been easy, but my Thane is doing the Divines work. This Esbern fellow, while quite deranged from his isolation, believes that Alduin himself, the World-Eater of legend, has returned to Tamriel just as the prophecies of old predicted he would. My Thane may well be the key to everybody’s salvation now, so it remains my honour to guard her with my life. I’m not sure if even she realises how much so.
I was even less enthused at the prospect of being abandoned with Esbern in a grotty Riften inn, while she went off on a crusade to liberate a horse. Perhaps in the years to come, someone may find this journal and think it to be a work of fiction, but that was indeed what my Thane sought to do before we left Riften – she put the entire dragon crisis on hold so that she could liberate an ‘enslaved’ horse.
I started today with great determination to leave Riften and hit the road, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. Inasmuch as we’re still here.
We had breakfast as usual, and while I was collecting my things from my room (relieved that they hadn’t been stolen) I tried talking to Esbern. I was hoping to get some answers out of him. He wasn’t having any of it, though. I asked him about being Dragonborn, and about the return of the dragons, among other things, but each time he said that he wouldn’t say anything until we were in Riverwood with Delphine.
I don’t think he quite trusts me yet. Perhaps that’s the result of living underground for so long? Maybe it’s made him paranoid? I think that fighting off a small army of Thalmor soldiers to save his life should have earned me a little trust, to be honest, but he won’t be swayed.