The Song of Deirdre – Chap. 47

 

Tiid-Ahraan

 

I whooped with elation as we stepped onto the familiar path above the Seven Thousand Steps, with High Hrothgar not far away. The sun was just setting far to the west, turning the rocks and snow about us a deep red. I turned to look back at what we had just climbed. “See, Lydia,” I said. “We made it, and shortened the trip by two days.”

“Shortened my life by two days, don’t you mean?” she said, pausing to catch her breath.

We had just accomplished what none had done before: climbing straight up the western face of the Throat of the World to High Hrothgar. Lydia had called it a mad idea, but after an extra day in Whiterun, I had insisted on making for Paarthurnax’s retreat by the straightest route possible.

It had been two days since we emerged from Blackreach. We had awoken that next morning to find ourselves on a high ridge, not far north of Whiterun, amazed at how far we had come in such a short time.

“Blackreach must create some sort of warp in the fabric of existence,” Brelyna said. “I think we all felt it in there, the way we would seem to walk forever toward a landmark, and then suddenly it was right on top of us.”

I proposed that we split up then, my three friends returning to the college, where J’zargo could have his eyes looked after. Brelyna looked disappointed. “You are right, I suppose. Someone will need to help this invalid back to Winterhold.” She was bathing J’zargo’s eyes with a damp cloth in the light of the sun that had just risen over the Velothi Mountains.

“But what about your horses?” Onmund asked hopefully. “I could fetch them for you from the Winterhold stable, then meet you somewhere along your road.”

“My friend, there’s no need,” I said. “We will purchase new mounts out of our share of the treasure. Or perhaps Jarl Balgruuf will want to aid us when he knows that we have a weapon with which to defeat Alduin.”

His face fell, but he did not disagree.

“Are we friends again?” I asked.

He looked at me and nodded. “Last night, seeing you near death, I realized I would rather have you in this world and my friend than … not.”

Then Lydia and I watched as our three friends disappeared down a path heading north, J’zargo leaning on Brelyna’s shoulder.

We reached Whiterun easily by noon, where we were met with an unexpected hero’s welcome. We were trying to steal quietly into town when Adrianne Avenicci recognized us, despite our cloaks and hoods. “The heroes have returned!” she exclaimed, and soon a crowd had gathered around us, chanting our names and lifting us onto their shoulders.

“But wait,” I called out. “What have we done to deserve this treatment?”

“Why, stopped the dragons, of course!” Adrianne replied. “There hasn’t been an attack on Whiterun in all of six weeks, nor not so much as a sighting of one during all of Evening Star. And we’ve all heard how you slew two dragons at once. If you didn’t stop them, who did?”

Then the crowd bore us on their shoulders all the way to Dragonsreach, where Jarl Balgruuf greeted us with many boons. I was sorry to disappoint him by telling him that Alduin still lived. Yet he was pleased with the number of dragons we had slain, and even more so with our escape from the Thalmor. “Setting fire to the Aldmeri Embassy!” he said. “That was a bold move, and one I approve of greatly.”

Lydia had insisted that we take an extra day of rest in the city, as I was still weak from my encounter with the chauruses in Blackreach. It was while resting on the back steps of my house – our house, as I already thought of it – that I spotted the snow chute leading directly up the west face of the great mountain above me. Its edges stood out clearly in the light of the westering sun.

Lydia had gone to Warmaiden’s, where Adrianne had been making alterations to a new suit of steel plate armor Jarl Balgruuf had given her. When she returned, armor slung over her shoulder, she found that my mind was made up and none of her sensible arguments would dissuade me.

By the middle of the following afternoon, we found ourselves sitting on a flat shelf of rock next to a chute that had ended in a blank cliff-face. Lydia looked doubtfully up at the rocks above us. “‘This chute will lead us straight to High Hrothgar,’ you said. ‘We’ll cut two days off our journey,’ you said. Really, my thane, sometimes you should just listen to your housecarl.”

“We’ll still get there today,” I protested.

“I don’t see how,” she said. The cliff above us was beyond vertical, with countless daggers of ice hanging from it, now dripping in the afternoon sun. “The day is far advanced, and if we retreat here, we won’t have time for a second attempt – if a chunk of ice or a rock doesn’t kill us first,” she added as an apple-sized rock broke free somewhere far above and whizzed past us, nearly hitting her head.

“Very well, let’s sit here and think for a moment,” I suggested, and sat down with my feet dangling over the edge of the shelf. Lydia sat down next to me, but a little farther back. We sat in silence as we munched apples and enjoyed the view. I found it thrilling to look straight down to the gorge of the White River, and then up again to the summits of the Brittleshin Mountains, now on a level with us. But not so for Lydia. She could only look in trepidation at the drops all around us.

Just then a white-tailed eagle soared past us to light in a grove of pines a distance farther along the cliff. Then I noticed that those pines grew out of a level bench across the chute from us.

“That’s it!” I said, jumping to my feet and coiling the rope connecting us so that it would feed out rapidly without snagging. Then I stood on the very edge of the shelf.

Lydia reached for my arm. “By Talos, it scares me when you stand that close to the edge.”

“Oh, that scares you does it?” I said, winking at her. “Watch this. Wuld-Nah-Kest!” The Whirlwind Sprint shout carried me across the chute to the plateau, where I skidded to a halt in deep, powdery snow. I laughed at the exhilaration of it. “See,” I said, “it was easy!”

I couldn’t quite hear Lydia then, we were so far apart, but I thought she said, “Oh, my thane, you are such a child sometimes.”

From there, it hadn’t taken us long to scramble up snowfields and over rocks to this spot on the pathway, with High Hrothgar a short walk away. Yet Lydia was still cross with me for this unnecessary adventure.

“Well,” I said, putting an arm around her, hoping to lighten her mood, “after this, Alduin will be a bit of child’s play, won’t he?”

“Hubris will bring you to a quick end, young lady.”

We spun around to see Arngeir standing behind us.

“Master Arngeir! We didn’t see you there!”

“I’ve been expecting you since I heard your shout. Do you have it?”

“It’s here in Lydia’s pack.”

“Well then, our doom approaches. Come inside and rest yourselves for the trial ahead.”

“But I thought to go straight to the summit. I would not delay this battle a moment longer.”

He looked us both over carefully. I tried to stand straight and strong, to show more energy than I felt. The day of rest in Whiterun had done much to restore me after the events in Blackreach, yet I could not deny that it had already been a long day.

“You have just climbed the western face of the Throat of the World, a feat no one else has accomplished. If Paarthurnax is right that Alduin will come as soon as you bring that Elder Scroll to the Time Wound, then you will need all of your strength, and that of your companion. Too, it will do no good to face Alduin in the dark. The Battle at the End of Time can wait until morning.”

And so we followed the old master up the steps and into the ancient hall, to spend what could be our – and all of Creation’s – last night on Nirn.

 

*~*~*

 

A light snow fell as we set out the next morning – it seemed too much to ask that the run of good weather continue for one more day. We carried no packs, just what weapons we would need. Lydia had her axe and shield, and her bow and a quiver full of the arrows made for her in Windhelm. I carried a second quiver for her, for I carried no bow, just the Staff of Jyrik Gauldurson slung across my back. It would deal more damage to a dragon than the Staff of Magnus. On my hip, I bore the Sword of Frost, more for show than anything. My pockets were stuffed with potions and scrolls, and I held the Elder Scroll in its metal casing in my left hand. We were as ready as we could be.

Once again I used the Clear Skies shout to open the way to the peak. In two hours of climbing, we neared the summit plateau, where the snow fell harder, swirled by the wind whipping over the mountain. I pulled Lydia into the shelter of an overhanging rock and hugged her to me.

“What is it, my thane?”

“We’re back to ‘my thane,’ are we?” I said. “We go to what may be our deaths, if not the end of the world. Just once before then I would like to hear you say ‘I love you’ unbidden.”

“Of course I love you, my … love.”

I sighed. “Somehow that’s not very satisfying.”

“Don’t I prove it to you every day and every night?” She grinned. “Especially every night.” She leaned down and kissed me.

Once again, I decided to let it go. She showed she loved me with her every action and her every look – why was it so important to me that she say the words? I thought of the Amulet of Mara, stored safely in a chest in my house back in Whiterun. I had thought about wearing it for her the night before we left, to finally propose that we plight our troths together for all time. But then I thought, it could wait until after we faced Alduin. Either we would go to our deaths and the world would end – and then none of it would matter – or we would vanquish Alduin and then decide what to do with the rest of our lives.

“You’re right, of course,” I said. “It’s just that I would not have you face what could be your end without knowing I love you.”

She took me by the shoulders. “I do know it, and you are silly to doubt that I love you in return, with all my heart.” She kissed me again. “Now let’s go slay this bastard, if he dares show his face, for we both have much to live for!”

I stepped back out onto the path with gladness in my heart. A lifetime with Lydia was the only reason I needed to stop Alduin from destroying the world. I felt my anger rising within me at the thought of the World Eater putting an end to our love, which had barely begun.

Then Paarthurnax was speaking to us. We nearly missed seeing him where he sat atop a crag at the edge of the plateau, he blended so well with the swirling snow. “You have it, the Elder Scroll. Tiid motaad ahst niil qalos. Time shudders at its touch. There is no question, you are doom-driven. Kogaan Akatosh! The very bones of creation are at your disposal. Go then, fulfill your destiny.”

“What must I do?”

“Take the scroll to the Tiid-Ahraan. Open it and look on what is inscribed within. Do not delay. Alduin will be coming. He cannot miss the signs.”

“Very well, Master Paarthurnax.”

The Time Wound was farther along the plateau past the word wall, a spot where the air itself swirled and shimmered and seemed to bend, with tiny motes of light joining the swirling snow.

Before opening the Elder Scroll, I handed Lydia a scroll of protection and several potions. “Take these,” I said. “The potions will protect you from fire and frost. I suspect Alduin will use both. And you have only to read that scroll to grant us both extra protection should I be blinded.”

“But if you are blinded, how can we hope to defeat Alduin?”

“I do not know. Perhaps J’zargo’s Khajiit eyes are more sensitive to light and it will have less effect on me. We can only hope. Are you ready?”

She nodded, axe and shield in hand.

I grasped the metal rod that held the edge of the paper and pulled. For an instant I saw what looked like a star map imprinted on the scroll, and then there was a blinding flash and the map was imprinted on my vision. A whirl of color surrounded me and I grew dizzy. When I regained my footing, I saw that I was still on the Throat of the World, but everything was tinged in red, and it was as if I was seeing through that star map. Lydia and Paarthurnax were gone, but the mountain was littered with dragon and human bodies. I knew that I had traveled to the other end of the Time Wound, to the closing of the Dragon War in the Merithic Era.

Then I saw a Nord warrior before me. I tried calling to him, but I could neither move nor speak.

A dragon landed before him, taunting him in the way dragons do.

“For Skyrim!” the warrior shouted and struck out at the dragon.

Then there was a shout from behind me and a woman warrior hurled herself at the dragon, slashing and weaving with a strength and agility I had seen matched only by Lydia, among women fighters. Then she vaulted onto the dragon’s back, shouting, “Know that Gormlaith sent you down to your death!” Her axe clove the dragon’s skull and the great beast slumped to the snow.

Gormlaith was still boasting about the kill and her partner, Hakon, was warning her about her cockiness when an old mage approached. Then the three fell to arguing about whether Alduin would come, whether their new Dragonrend shout would kill him, and whether to use the Elder Scroll the mage carried. It all seemed too familiar. All the while I kept wondering if Alduin had arrived in my own time while I wasted precious moments here observing ancient history. When would they use Dragonrend so I could learn it and return to my own time?

Then a roaring came from far up in the sky and Alduin was descending upon them. “Fools!” he taunted in the dragon tongue. “Such treachery! Your hopes wither. I am your doom.”

Gormlaith would not be cowed. “Let those who watch from Sovngarde envy us this day!”

Then Hakon shouted. “Joor-Zah-Frul!” I felt the shout, both the form of its words and their deep meaning, enter the very core of my being: “Mortal-Finite-Fleeting!” I felt the fragility of life as I never had before. Forcing that understanding on a dragon, who had no concept of mortality – yes, that would be devastating. Yet I could not understand why Master Arngeir had called this evil. To give immortal beings an understanding of the fleeting nature of mortal lives, of those whom they treated as playthings – it seemed to me a valuable lesson for the dov. A lesson I had been teaching them all this time, for while I lived no dragon was safe from permanent death, not even Alduin – or so I hoped.

I was ready to return to my own time, but I had no control over my travel through the Tiid-Ahraan. What if, I thought then, I could slay Alduin now, in the Merithic Era, so that he would never return in my own time? I didn’t stop to think that this would make my own existence moot, but it didn’t matter. I could not move, I could only watch as Alduin landed, the shout having forced him to the snow-covered plateau.

“What have you done?” he said in the Common Tongue. “What twisted Words have you created?” And then he said something truly terrible. “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? No, it could not be, though now I remembered he had said something about it in one of my dreams. And the souls of the Nords would feed his power? I was horrified, yet how could I judge him? How many dragon souls had I devoured? It was the way of the dov.

Gormlaith still was not frightened. She advanced on the great dragon, lashing out at him with her axe as she lashed him with her tongue. “If I die today, it will not be in terror. You feel fear for the first time, wyrm, I see it in your eyes. Skyrim will be free!”

But she was too sure of herself and her power. Alduin dodged a mighty swing of her axe, then lunged at her while she fought to regain her balance. His jaws clamped around her, then he shook his head from side to side, finally flinging her lifeless body against the nearby word wall.

Hakon looked on in disbelief. Then he called to the mage. “Felldir, use the scroll! It is our only choice!”

While the warrior distracted Alduin with a series of feigned strikes and dodges, Felldir unfurled the scroll, then recited an oath of banishing upon it. “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!”

“Gaal kel? Nikrinne…” Alduin said as a blue light began to whirl about him. “An Elder Scroll? Cowards…” Then he seemed to merge with that swirling light and he was gone.

“It worked, you did it,” Hakon said.

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

Then the red-tinged gauze through which I saw this ancient scene began whirling and I felt the dizziness once more. The spinning ceased and I regained my balance, but now all was white, as if I had been blinded. And now I heard voices.

“My thane, are you all right? You must recover yourself. Alduin is here!”

The next voice I heard was Alduin’s, and now it was as if I was looking through his eyes, down at Lydia and myself. I stood down there, staring blindly around for the beast.

“My belly is full of the souls of your fellow mortals, Dovahkiin.”

So that explained where Alduin had been all this time – hiding in Sovngarde! How such a thing could be, I knew not. But I had a greater problem: How could he force me into his own mind?

As if to answer, Alduin spoke again. “This is how the dov communicate, Dragonborn, by speaking into each other’s minds. This is how I sent my dragon allies against you, even as I had my way with the mortal souls in Sovngarde – the more mortals my dov killed, the more souls to feed my power. You have this ability as well, but you know not how to master it. And so, your mind is my plaything.”

I tried forcing my mind out of his, to see from my own eyes and body, but it was no good. Alduin only laughed. “I see you have learned Dragonrend, those foul words created by the ancient Nords. And you have the Elder Scroll! Both were used before, to little purpose. For none can defeat me, not even the Dovahkiin.”

“Then I will use the Elder Scroll to cast you adrift once more on the currents of time. Let another age deal with your villainy.”

He laughed again. “Break Time where it is already broken and you will break Mundus itself. This world will come to an end, and my goal will be achieved, with your aid. What could be more fitting? Our father Akatosh was wise, dooming us to come into this world together!”

Then I heard Paarthurnax. “Dovahkiin, time is running out. Use Dragonrend if you know it.”

“Joor-Zah-Frul!” I shouted from within the mind of Alduin, and I felt a shudder go through him. “You have heard those words before, World Eater, but now you understand them in your deepest being, for you heard them from one who can make them good. Soon you will walk the death-road.”

As Alduin roared in horror, I felt myself cast out of his mind, returning to my body as the mists were clearing from before my eyes. Just as I regained my vision, the World Eater came crashing down beyond the word wall.

“That shout will do you little good, Dovahkiin. You cannot defeat me. I will kill you and your little friend, then I will sunder the World, here where the Nords first entered it, using the Tiid-Ahraan they created.”

“Little!” Lydia exclaimed. “I’ll show you little, foul wyrm … little mercy!” She advanced on him, axe held ready to strike.

“Lydia, my love, do not close on him! I saw him make a plaything of one as strong and valiant as you!”

“Then I will die a good death, my thane. Let us throw everything we have at him while he is vulnerable.”

These Nords and their lust for a good death!

Alduin opened his jaws wide as Lydia rushed at him. Before they closed with each other, Paarthurnax launched himself at Alduin. “Hi fen dir dahsul, wuthiik zeymah,” he shouted, striking Alduin with his talons and then flying away. Lydia got in a blow with her axe as Alduin launched himself into the air. Too late, I thought to use Dragonrend again. My Thu’um had restored itself more quickly than I expected, but now Alduin was swooping this way and that, chasing his brother.

The two dragons battled across the sky above the Throat of the World. In the swirling snow, it was often difficult to distinguish the two, so much of the color had washed out of the day with the gray light. Lydia sheathed her axe and drew her bow now, looking for a clear shot at Alduin. Yet none presented itself and she was loath to waste an arrow, as I was loath to waste my magicka. And in any case, while in flight Alduin seemed impervious to our attacks.

Finally Paarthurnax tired and retreated to his original perch. “Ah, brother,” said Alduin, “you have grown weak sitting up here all these years, while I have returned as strong as ever.”

“Now!” shouted Paarthurnax. “Use Dragonrend once more. It is now up to you and you alone.”

Alduin had made the mistake of hovering in the air to taunt his brother, and I hit him with the Dragonrend shout before he could move off. He came crashing back to the plateau, and I cast a frost atronach directly in front of him. I had learned the spell while in Whiterun, in hopes that it would provide a better distraction for Alduin than my fire demon. It didn’t last long in the face of Alduin’s fire breath, but that was long enough for Lydia to get off an arrow that pierced him behind the front shoulder while I launched two ice spikes at him. I cast my flame atronach a bit farther off, hoping to keep him busy that way. He stretched his wings to take flight once more, and I hit him with Dragonrend again, pinning him to the snow.

The battle went on in this manner for several more rounds, yet Alduin didn’t seem to weaken. “How many arrows can this bastard take?” Lydia asked. She had already gone through all of her own and had taken up my quiver.

“Ah, you are worthy opponents,” Alduin said. “But none can withstand my Dragon Storm Call. Die now, and I will see you in Sovngarde. Strun-Bah-Yol!” It was like the Storm Call shout the masters had used on me in Ustengrav, but instead of lightning and rain, burning rocks the size of melons fell from the sky. This was the shout Alduin had used to destroy much of Helgen.

Lydia had no choice but to shelter beneath her shield, rendering her unable to attack. I ran to an overhanging rock, seeking what shelter I could while still within view of the World Eater. He began advancing on Lydia, but I blocked him with another flame atronach, then began blasting him with the Staff of Jyrik Gauldurson to preserve my magicka, which had run quite low.

Alduin spread his wings to fly once more just as a flaming rock landed in front of me. He was in the air before I could recover enough to shout at him. I followed him out from my shelter, hoping it would give a clear path for my shout, but another meteor, a small one this time, hit me in the right shoulder. It knocked me to the ground, and I dropped my staff as a searing pain shot through my back and down my arm. I was sure my shoulder was broken. I crept back to the shelter, casting a healing spell on myself with my left hand. Even after that, my shoulder was stiff, and I could barely raise my arm.

Alduin had his way with us for a while then, swooping and diving on us with his breaths of fire and frost. I drank potions of resistance to each and struggled to center my mind, concentrating on the words of his shouts. Lydia had no recourse but to shelter beneath her shield. Sometimes he swooped on her with jaws or talons, yet her shield was too large for him to get a grip with either, and he was only able to knock her to the hard-packed snow. She bounced back up quickly at first, then more slowly as Alduin’s game tired her.

I grew tired of seeing her knocked about as well, and felt my anger rising within me. I had kept it in check all this time – I could not let it overwhelm me. The fire storm had ceased, and I stepped out from my shelter. Alduin could not help but notice me standing there, virtually defenseless. He swooped toward me, blasting a great breath of fire as he came. I took that breath, turning it to nothing but a warm breeze in my mind, then shouted, “Joor-Zah-Frul!” full in his face just before he reached me. I ducked and rolled forward and he passed over me and crashed into the snow beyond.

Instantly I was up and firing ice spikes at him. Lydia was up too. I looked on in fear and dread as she charged at the World Eater, axe held high once more. Paarthurnax would not be coming to save her this time. I cast my frost atronach, which advanced on Alduin from the left while Lydia charged from the right. Yet Lydia was the quicker, reaching Alduin first, with a cry of “For Mundus!” He was ready for her, greeting her with a gaping maw. But she was too wily a fighter to rush in unprotected. She bashed at his snapping jaws with her shield, using the speed of her charge to push his massive head back, then lashed out with her axe, drawing a line of black blood across his throat. For the first time, the great dragon howled in pain and fear.

My frost atronach joined the battle, smashing Alduin with an icy fist. Lydia took advantage of the dragon’s momentary distraction, tossing aside her shield and using one of the dragon’s curved horns to vault up onto his neck. He reared up, but she rode him as she had ridden Nahagliiv, clinging stubbornly to his horns. My heart was in my throat, fearing she would come flying off, yet no matter how he thrashed, she would not loose her grip. Every time he reared back I hit him with an ice spike in the chest. Meanwhile, my frost atronach was free to pummel him from the side, until Alduin turned and smashed it into a spray of icy shards with his tail.

Lydia must have sensed Alduin weakening, because his thrashings grew less and she planted her feet behind his horns to stand upright. Then she raised her axe with both hands, driving it straight and true into his brain. The great dragon’s body went limp, his head came crashing to the ground, and then he lay still.

Lydia pulled her axe from Alduin’s skull with some difficulty, then jumped heavily down from his back. “You see, that wasn’t so difficult,” she was saying as she walked toward me.

Then I was pointing in horror at what I saw behind her, too dumbfounded to speak or act.

“Wha…?” she said as she turned, but not quick enough. Alduin was not dead. He reared up and clamped his jaws around her, shaking her as he had done to Gormlaith. Lydia’s axe fell from her hand, but I thought I saw the other beating at his knobby snout. Then she was flying through the air, hitting the word wall and crumpling at its base.

It took every ounce of my will not to run to her then. Let us both perish by Alduin’s fangs, part of me said – if she was dead, I would be too. But another part, my dragon part, said, not without slaying this vile wyrm first.

“Krii-Lun-Aus!” I shouted, and my Thu’um staggered him as he advanced. Then I cast a fireball spell. I rarely used it since it spread fire across a wide area, and Lydia would often be in its way. But now she was out of range – or dead, I did not want to think – and so I risked it, using the last of my magicka. I drew my sword of frost, though my sword arm was still too stiff to raise it. I had little hope that it would do any good, after all that we had done to him already.

Yet it was enough. “You have become strong, Dovahkiin,” Alduin said, tipping his great head toward me. “But I am Al-Du-In, Destroyer-Devour-Master, Firstborn of Akatosh! Mulaagi zok lot! Though you have defeated me in this battle, I cannot be slain here, by you or anyone else. I go to Sovngarde, where I will become strong once again. I will outlast you, mey joor!”

Then he launched himself into the air, disappearing behind the mountain’s highest crag.

We had defeated Alduin, but we could not kill him? It made no sense. But I could not ponder these imponderables then. I could think only of one thing.

I ran to where Lydia lay crumpled against the wall, pulling potion bottles from within my robes as I went. I drank off an Elixir of Magicka, then cast a spell of Grand Healing as I reached her. With a cry of relief, I saw that she still breathed. Her steel plate armor was dented but not pierced – I would kiss Jarl Balgruuf’s feet a thousand times in thanks for the gift that saved her life.

Yet still she would not wake. I kept working on her, loosening her cuirass so she could breathe more easily, forcing some drops of healing potion between her lips. Perhaps only time could awaken her.

While I was busy with her, Paarthurnax flew over and landed on the word wall above us.

“You must track Alduin to Sovngarde. It is the only place he can be slain.”

I looked up at the ancient dragon, confident now that Lydia would live. “How am I to travel there? No mortal can visit Sovngarde, it is for the souls of the Nords’ honored dead.”

“I know not. Alduin did not travel to Sovngarde in my time with him. Yet maybe one of his lieutenants knows.”

I was distracted by Lydia stirring. I cast another healing spell on her for good measure, and she opened her eyes, smiling at me. “A healing spell! Are you a priest?”

“No, I am Lydia Ravenwood’s one and only true love, if she will but realize it. I will not let her die, much as she seeks a glorious death.”

“And Alduin – is he slain?”

I shook my head. “We stopped him from destroying the world. Time is not ended – for now. But we must track him to Sovngarde.”

“To Sovngarde! How is that possible?”

I had no answer for her. Yet if Alduin had gone to Sovngarde, then to Sovngarde I must follow.

End of Part III

(Part IV continues here. )

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