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Chapter Fifty-nine – Ragnvald



“There's an evil to the north, friend, and its name is Ragnvald,” had said the Markarth guard Nora had asked that morning. “A tomb like so many in Skyrim where the dead have found no peace.”


The day was beautiful for a change. A clear sky, very few clouds, and no rain. Still a little chill in the air. That seemed to be a given all across Skyrim, but it wasn't the killing cold of the northern part of the kingdom. They had killing cold soon enough when a pair of dragons descended screeching from the sky.


These were blues, almost twins, and their breath was killing cold. The party reacted well, riding to the compass points to dismount. Nora was still on her horse when the shout of one of the monsters knocked her off Queen Alfsigr, to land hard on the ground, the breath leaving her lungs. The dragon lunged with its long neck, large mouth open, to close around the body of the screaming horse and lift it off the ground. With a violent shake of its head it killed the mount, then tossed it away. Its eyes locked on Nora, still struggling to get her breath and get off the ground. The mouth opened again and started to lunge.


“Get away from her,” screamed Eldawyn, as a fireball struck the head of the dragon with a roaring explosion. Two more struck as Nora got to her feet, calling up her own spell and launching Fire Storm at the dragon. The spell lasted for about ten seconds, causing damage to the target within it for the entire time. She scrambled away, glancing sadly at her loyal mount. The dragon was in a bad way, trying to flap its wings and get off the ground. The wings were not acting in synch as it struggled. Nora threw another Fire Storm at the beast. Several seconds later the head hit the ground, the dragon dead.


“Keep it off her,” shouted Eldawyn, and Nora could hear the sound of more fireballs rising into the air.


The power of the dragon soul hit her, lifting her into the air as the twin feelings of pleasure and pain washed over her. She landed with the blast of the overflow, shaking her head to clear it and drawing Dawnbreaker. Looking up, she saw the second dragon circling overhead, trying to hit party members with cold. J'Zargo was down on a knee, struggling to get up, and as she watched Valdimar was caught in a stream for a moment. The man fell over with a cry, but struggled back to his feet.


If not for the enchantments they carried against frost several of her people would have died that day. They still would have died if not for the actions of them all, hitting the dragon with spells and arrows. This one refused to land, seeing what happened to its partner. Nora didn't know anything about the relationships of dragons. If they were male or female, and if so did they mate? Whatever the case, the one in the air was pissed over the death of its running mate, and seemed determined to destroy the party. It would have been better served to fly away, but dragons didn't think that way.


It was a tough fight. Eldawyn and Nora used the time the dragon gave them to turn around and come back to send healing energy into J'Zargo and Valdimar. Just in time, as the dragon came at Nora and the Housecarl with another blast of cold. If not healed, it would have killed the man. As it was it injured them both. The other mages, J'Zargo joining in, sent spells at the dragon, fire and shock. Nora cast a quick heal on herself, then one on Valdimar, and then threw lightning at the dragon. It was flying through the air, blood on its scales, a dozen arrows sticking from it. Dragon scales were tough, and most bows wouldn't penetrate. The bows her people had were strong and enchanted, with powerful arrows. Where they hit they not only penetrated most of the time, they pushed fire or shock into their target. Even when they didn't penetrate they hit the target with their magical effect.


The dragon landed heavily, barely able to keep itself from crashing. Nora ran toward it from the side as it blasted Eldawyn and Elesia with its cold breath, as strong as ever. She leapt into the air and landed on its back, pushing her sword down with both hands through a gap in the scales. Blood spurted, proof that she had hit something vital, and she ripped the sword out in an upper cut, then plunged it back in. More arrows hit the dragon in the neck. With a final croak it raised its head as high as it could. The head crashed into the ground, and Nora jumped clear before she could be thrown. Again she absorbed the dragon soul, the power flowing though her until she thought she might catch on fire. She used one to unlock a shout, draining its power.


Eldawyn and Elesia were both on their backs, breathing heavily. Nora healed the Altmer first, wanting her friend to be able to heal others. After everyone was on their feet Nora walked over to Queen Alfsigr and looked sadly down on the horse.


“We need to get the saddle and bags off of her and switch out with one of the pack animals,” said Lydia.


“Do it,” said Nora, shaking her head. “She was a good horse, and I'll miss her.”


There were agreements all around. Horses were expensive, and relatively few people in the kingdom had one. A well-trained horse like the Queen was a treasure, and the pack horse Nora would use for the rest of the day did not have the same training. She was ride-able though, and that was all the Dragonborn could ask for at the moment.


They came up on Ragnvald an hour later, two and a half hours out of Markarth. Again they hadn't pushed the horses, since they were on little more than a path, and there were many dips in the ground and vegetation laying across, including some tree trunks. Nora didn't think it worth saving an hour to break an animal's leg and the trouble that would ensue. If the bone was out of place, a likely event, they would have to set it before healing, and doing that to a more than thousand-pound animal was a risky proposition.


The ruin had a long wide row of steps leading up to a plaza, and more steps going from there to the entrance. A pair of Draugr were outside, along with a couple of dozen skeleton archers and several of the winged bony things with the powerful shouts. Nora halted the party a hundred yards from the lower steps, her people joining her. An arrow came from the upper plaza, a seemingly impossible shot for an undead archer, and one of the pack horses fell with an arrow through the chest. More arrows came in, fended off by the shields of the three female warriors, while Nora and the mages sent fireballs at the archers, blasting them apart. The one-sided battle of bows against spells went on for a half minute, until only one of the Draugrs and one of the winged horrors was left.


“Cover me,” yelled Nora, on her feet and running toward the steps. The winged horror stepped forward, arms back and head forward, just before letting loose a powerful shout that staggered Nora. She replied with Slow Time and went up the steps, avoiding a strike from the Draugr and cutting through its lower leg, dropping it growling to the steps. She continued up, getting to the horror just as it made ready to shout again. Dawnbreaker sliced down into its shoulder and it exploded with holy flame.


Her people came up as fast as they could run, to find the fight finished. Nora looked back at the horses, growling low in her throat as she saw the pack animal lying dead on its side. Hard day to be a horse, she thought regretfully.


“J'Zargo, Lydia. Gather the horses and bring them up to the plaza. You're the guards this day, and try to get the equipment off the dead horse. If you can figure out how to get the equipment distributed among the other horses, do so. Anything that doesn't fit we'll leave behind.” She hated the idea of that, and expected that they would find much of value in the ruin. They could only do so much though short two horses.


The first chamber of the temple was large, with a great deal of rubble on the edges where the ruin had collapsed. There was a large dais in the center of the chamber, with a Draugr laying on top. The party approached cautiously, bows and spells at the ready, but the Draugr never moved. They searched the chamber, finding potions, a few books, and gems, soul and mundane.


On the east side of the room was the dark entrance to a tunnel. Nora and Elesia led down this way, bows ready, and came to a T intersection. To the left was a chest, to the right another tunnel. Nora went for the chest first, picking the lock to the disappointing sight of some mundane armor and fifty Septims. She shook her head, realizing that not all chests would contain items of great value. Lacking any way of knowing what was inside, she was forced to open them all, lest she leave behind a great treasure that would help her down the road.


The path turned several times, and Nora could make out the sound of swinging blades somewhere near. They continued into a large room, the raised pathway leading off into the distance. She could make out the shadowy form of a Draugr ahead, and heard the rattle of one moving around below the walkway. Holding up a hand to halt the party, she crouched and aimed in on a hanging pot on the path far ahead, With a clever shot she cut the cord, the pot fell and burst, and the entire area ahead went up in flame, destroying the Draugr. The one below started coming up the wooden steps, and Nora cast Bone Spirit at it, the ring of holy light moving slowly over the draugr and exploding, downing it. It was a spell she didn't use often, since it was so much more efficient to just take them down with arrows or Destruction spells, but she liked to use all the schools when possible to aid in her advancement.


Going down the steps, Nora moved to the west wall and found an opening. The tunnel went around several bends, the sound of the swinging blades getting louder until she reached them, four of the scythes going back and forth. There's got to be something valuable in that chest, she thought, seeing it through the blades. And a Draugr, waiting for someone to come through the trap, greatsword in hand.


Nora shouted Become Ethereal and stepped through the blades unharmed, making it to the other side. The Draugr swung its sword, off balance as it met no resistance. Nora positioned herself, waiting for the shout to wear off, then slammed her shield into the undead creature, driving it back. Another shield bash and it fell back into the blades, which sliced deeply into it. The Draugr tried to get out of the death trap, but Nora bashed it back and it came apart under two of the blades. The Dragonborn pulled the lever to lock the blades, then turned to the chest, which had a very advanced lock.


“Cute,” said a disapproving Eldawyn when she and the others were in the room. “But why not just finish it with your sword. Or shout it into the blades. You take too many risks, Nora.”


“I needed some work with my shield,” Nora said with a smile. “Besides,” she growled as she snapped a pick. “He was really no sweat.”


“And one mistimed block and you could be lying on the floor bleeding out. And we would have had to come through that death trap to get to you. If we even could.”


“Sorry,” said Nora, snapping another pick. “Won't happen again.”


“Until the next time,” said Eldawyn, clearly very angry.


“Yep,” said Nora, finally getting the lock to click open, then looking up at her friend, the anger leaving, concern staying on the Altmer's face.


“Please take more care. I don't want to have gone through all these dirty, dusty ruins, only to see the hope of the world die before my eyes.”


“I, I'm sorry. I know I'm a risk taker. It's in my blood, and I can't help it.”


“Well,” said Eldawyn, crossing her arms over her chest. “Just take your risks when it's not so, risky. Like in a room where we can attack whatever it is that's kicking your ass.”


“Point taken,” said Nora, realizing that her friend was right. The smart play would have been to swing Dawnbreaker into the draugr over and over until the shout wore off and the blade was solid. The undead creature would have stood no chance. Nora groaned as she looked into the chest, which contained some ragged unenchanted clothes.


“What the fuck. Why put something like this behind a trap, and have a Draugr standing guard.”


“Just the way things are, my friend,” said Eldawyn, laughing. “Remember, the world is not set up for your enrichment. And not everything is a conspiracy to frustrate you. Just a random event, my dear.”


Nora had to admit her friend was right. Just as in the Commonwealth, not everything had been placed there as a test for the Sole Survivor. There was a lot of randomness in the world, there and here. The party backtracked and found some loot in the main chamber, gems, potions and a great deal of alchemy ingredients. She wished she had Lydia with her, so the budding alchemist could assess them, tossing what wasn't valuable and keeping the rest.


They found a couple of doors that wouldn't open no matter how hard they tried, probably barred from the other side. And two that did open, revealing paths leading off into darkness. Nora decided to see what was ahead first, and walked down some steps, then back up another set, along the raised walkway to a dais with a sarcophagus on top, and two unusual recesses that looked like they accepted round objects. Some kind of a key? Different than anything she had run into before.


“We have to find whatever fits into those things to open those bars ahead,” she told her followers.


“And probably release that thing in the sarcophagus,” said Sofia, trepidation in her tone.


“Of course,” said Nora. “More fun.”


She cast Clairvoyance, seeing the smoke go either way depending on what end of the sarcophagus she was closest to. She thought for a second, then headed to right, down the steps, then around some fallen stones to find a path leading in. They went down this until they came to a door and entered a long room with a canal filled with water in the center. There were several bridges over the water, and a room to the north with the recognizable sounds of Draugr.


The party went to the entrance to that room and took down the pair of Draugr, then looted everything they could find of value. They were able to cross one branch of the canal on a wooden bridge, but another forced them into the water. Like most water found in ruins this was very cold, and sent a chill up anyone who found themselves waist deep in it. Nora spotted a strange looking chest at the far end of the canal and made her way there. It was compact and shiny, looking as if it were brand new. The lock resisted all efforts to pick it, and trying to pry it open with a blade failed as well.


“See if you can get it open, big guy,” she ordered Valdimar. The Housecarl swung his ebony hammer hard into the chest, normally something that would spring any recalcitrant lock. The chest didn't budge. He smacked it a few more times with no result, and Nora couldn't see a mark on the chest. It was magical, and would only open with the proper key, which they didn't have.


“That stirred something up,” complained Eldawyn.


Nora could hear the cries of Draugr, their feet stomping the floor as they headed toward the party. The other side of the canal had an opening with wooden barriers across it, one of which looked like a drawbridge. There were stairs at the side, and some small openings on the end. And Draugr coming to the openings on both sides. Arrows and swords took care of them, though their bodies blocked the way until the party could wrestle then out and into the canal. Then it was up and into the room beyond, to the sound of more Draugr coming their way.


The party fought their way through a dozen of the undead. Through rooms and corridors, until they entered a large room with a gilded skull on a pedestal and several unopened sarcophagi, including a large one on the floor. Nora knew how this game was played, and had Valdimar and Jordis each stand by one of the upright sarcophagi, while Elesia and Sofia stood by the center one. All had weapons out and were ready to strike.


Nora removed the skull from the pedestal and all hell broke loose, all three of the sarcophagi popping their lids and releasing Draugr. The undead creatures were tougher than average, and the two Housecarl's held them at bay while cutting into them, while Elesia and Sofia attacked the toughest one of all in the center. Nora fired a lightning bolt at the one on the left while Eldawyn did the same to the one of the right. These Draugr had much more vitality than most, and seemed to refuse to go down, no matter how they were pummeled. Nora swung Dawnbreaker into the center Draugr, the toughest, and was pleased to see the sword hit him with holy light, sending his burning body to the ground. She then rushed to the aid of Jordis and cut that one down, while Valdimar smashed his to the ground with a mighty swing of his hammer.


Elesia stopped her cackling and looked around for a moment as if not sure they were out of the fight. “Let the looting begin,” she yelled when it was apparent that they had no more opposition.


They found many gems, lots of gold Septims, and a few empty soul gems. And some books, skill tomes of Destruction and Illusion, and one for Block. The mages all looked at the magic skill books, while everyone took a turn with the block book.


Casting Clairvoyance, Nora led them through an entrance at the back of the room and along a corridor, to stop in front of some swinging blades.


“Crap. Are these damned things going to plague me till the end of time?” She shouted Become Ethereal, hurried through the blades, and found the lever, this time unguarded. They found a door barred from their side, and were soon into the main chamber.


Nora hurried to the sarcophagus at the end of the chamber and fit the skull in a slot. A perfect fit, and she knew they had to find to other one to get those bars down and go further into the ruin, though she suspected that the center sarcophagus was going to disgorge an inhabitant Draugr when she put the second skull in place. Probably tougher than any of the ones to the side.


“You know,” said Eldawyn, holding up an empty common soul gem. “You can trap the souls of those Draugr while we're killing them. They fit nicely in the common gems, and they don't have any use for them.”


Nora thought about that for a moment, then nodded. “Anyone have a black soul gem.” Nobody had, and Nora was relieved. She was going to cast soul cloak, so everything they killed for a two-minute period would get trapped. The last thing she wanted was for one of her people to die unexpectedly and have their souls go into a gem. All deserved Sovngarde when they died, not the damnable Soul Cairn.


The party went through the second entrance off the main chamber, Nora casting Soul Cloak as they moved forward. She still didn't like the idea of trapping the souls of intelligent creatures, Thalmor excepted. But the Draugrs were another exception. From what she understood, they had been servants of the Dragon Cult in life, totally evil bastards. And they continued to serve it in death, She wasn't sure what kind of souls they possessed in undeath, but if a common soul gem could capture them they couldn't be all that much. Besides, it looked like they had chosen their afterlife, and it was her job to send them permanently on their way.


The party went through the door into another section of the ruin. The path split and they had a choice of left or right. Clairvoyance showed right, so Nora led the way in that direction. There were Draugr along the way, and Nora watched in satisfaction as the purplish energy of their souls drained away and into the small bag at her side. Common soul gems were easy enough to find, cheap to buy, and they could keep everything recharged with the energy from them, though they wouldn't power the really good enchantments of clothing and armor. They finally ended up in a large room of a similar layout to the final room in the canal section. A large sarcophagus in the center, more sarcophagi along the sides.


“Everyone ready?” Nora asked, just about to grab the skull. Receiving nods from everyone she jerked it from its pedestal, and the Draugr popped out of their containers, to fall quickly to the ready warriors and mages. They looted everything of value and headed back to the locking mechanism before the gate.


Nora was sure a powerful Draugr was going to pop out as soon as she inserted the second skull. She put it into place and was shocked when the ghostly figure of a Dragon Priest arose, shouting and firing walls of lightning out of a staff. Flashbacks of Labyrinthian came into her mind, one of her people dead while two more lay helpless. She attacked in a fury, hitting the thing with Dawnbreaker several times, doing major damage, before the Dragon Priest shouted Disarm at her and she no longer had her blade. A lightning wall came her way, burning her, shocking her almost senseless. She pulled the glass dagger and went on the attack, scoring hit after hit until the creature came apart, a ghostly residue remaining on the floor.


“Let me heal you,” said Eldawyn, a bit singed herself. The healing energy washed over Nora, her burns went away, and she returned the favor to her friend.


“Everyone okay?”


There were some minor injuries, soon healed, and Nora picked up the enchanted mask and the staff of the undead creature they had just slain. The connection with the mask let her know it had belonged to Otar the Mad. The mask conferred powerful resistances to all the elemental powers, Fire, Frost and Shock, though Nora couldn't see herself wearing the thing.


“Maybe you can transfer its powers into a ring,” suggested Eldawyn.


Nora went through the now open entrance, the wall calling to her. The word entered her mind as she approached, and she had another word of Kyne's Peace in her mind. While not her favorite shout, she was not about to spurn a gift from Kynareth. They looted everything not nailed down that had any value, including the two skull keys, which might fetch a good price from their uniqueness.


“What's everyone think about trying to get to Dragontooth Crater tonight?” she asked. From the reaction of everyone she thought they didn't like the idea, and decided to save that one for another day.


They came to the main entry of the ruin and were surprised to find Lydia, J'Zargo and all the horses there.


“What's going on?” she asked, angry that her people had brought the horses into the ruin. Add to that the fact that the pair had built a cook fire and were preparing a meal.


“I'm sorry, my Thane,” said Lydia. “A fierce storm blew in with wind and lightning. I thought we were about to lose everything when J'Zargo suggested that we take shelter.


“Understandable,” said Nora, going to the main door and looking out. The trees were still being whipped by a fierce wind, and lightning flashed almost continuously. Nora couldn't even see teleporting in this weather, since there was no telling what the conditions would be like where they appeared. “I guess we're staying here tonight. But I still want guard shifts through the night. I think we cleared the place out, but I would hate to wake up and find myself wrong.”


They still pitched tents for general privacy, and Nora was surprised to see Lydia lead Jordis and Valdimar to one. Well, unexpected, but it meant that Jordis was wanting to find out about men, of which Nora approved. Jordis could remain a virgin for all Nora cared, but knowing how to please a man wouldn't hurt her future prospects.


*     *     *


“Okay, ladies. I'm all yours.”


Valdimar lay back on the furs naked, the cool air flowing over his skin, looking into the faces of the two young women with him in the tent. Lydia was old hat at this, having pleasured the man several times orally while accepting his pleasure in return. She still didn't want penetration, and that was fine with the man. As long as he had her mouth and hands on his manhood, and could kiss and lick her delectable pussy, he was fine.


The wild card this day was Jordis. The young maiden had inquired of Lydia if she could join them. From what he had heard the two had been pleasuring each other quite regularly. But this was Jordis' first time with a man, and her wide eyes as she stared at his stiffening cock indicated her anxiety.


“Have you ever seen anything like that?” asked Lydia as her hand started stroking the length of the cock before her.


“I've, uh, seen them in the barracks,” said the young woman in a rush of words. “But never that big. Or hard like that.”


“It's not really hard yet,” said Lydia, smiling. “But it's getting there.”


Valdimar had to admit that both of the young ladies were beautiful. Their naked bodies were almost flawless. Lydia's face had more of a tan, while Jordis' was one that turned sunlight into freckles. The freckles were quite charming though, and the wide blue eyes were as well. Her licking her lips was also quite arousing, and Valdimar imagined those lips around his cock. All in good time, and he wasn't going to force anything on the innocent young woman.


“Let me show you something,” said Lydia in a hushed voice, stroking the cock down, pulling back the foreskin and exposing the head. “Isn't that beautiful?”


“I've never seen anything like it. Can I touch it?”


“Please,” said Valdimar, watching as the delicate fingers rubbed his head, sending waves of pleasurable excitement up his body.


“Ew, what's that?” said Jordis as her fingers touched some of the fluid leaking from the head.


“That's precum,” said Valdimar, smiling. “A man extrudes that when he's excited. It helps to lubricate his cock inside the woman, and paves the way for the cum, the semen.”


Jordis got an idea.  She smiled and started to rub the head with the slick fluid, sending more waves of pleasure through the man.


“Don't forget the balls,” said Lydia, reaching down and playing with the scrotum and the heavy fruit inside. “Men love it when you do that.”


“Where did you learn all of this?” asked Jordis, giving some experimental strokes with her hand down the shaft.


“Ladies Nora and Eldawyn taught me,” said Lydia. “At first I wasn't sure, but now I like it. It's exciting to see a strong man shiver with pleasure, to have total control over him.”


Valdimar was having fun. Maybe these two weren't the most skilled, though Lydia was coming along nicely. But to have these earnest young ladies explore his body was quite arousing.


“Now it's hard,” said Lydia in triumph. “So I'll show you something you can do to a hard cock.”


Lydia started licking the head, swirling her tongue around it as she withdrew the foreskin. After licking for some minutes she put the head in her mouth, sucking while she swirled her tongue around it. She worked her way down until most of the shaft was in her mouth, the head at the entrance to her throat. With a gagging sound she forced her way down, until the cock was lodged in her throat. She couldn't keep it there long and came off it with a cough.


“That didn't look very comfortable,” said Jordis, still playing with the man's balls.


“It's not always about comfort, but what you can do for your lover,” said Lydia. “And if you get a good one, what he can do for you. You want to try it?”


“I don't know...”


“Just lick the head, then work it into your mouth. You don't have to go down far like I did. Come on, try it.”


“If she doesn't want to,” said Valdimar.


“What. You don't think I can do it?” asked Jordis. She grabbed the shaft and started licking the head, then forced it into her small mouth. The Maiden was clumsy, but it still felt good, and she tried her hardest to pleasure the man.


“Good first try, but let me finish him,” said Lydia. She went down on the cock again, this time in earnest, running her tongue over the shaft as she sucked. “Lick his balls,” she told Jordis with her cock filled mouth.




“I think she wants you to lick my balls, dear. Entirely up to you, but it is something I enjoy.”


Jordis shrugged her shoulders and went down to work on his sack, her tongue licking up and down. Again, it was clumsy, but the whole point of this was to get her used to doing this with a man. She might not be ready to fuck yet, but this would be good training for a future lover.


“I'm going to cum, Lydia.”


“Go right on ahead,” she said, withdrawing from his cock for a moment, then going back to it.


“What's happening to his balls?” asked Jordis, continuing her licking.


“They start to withdraw when a man is about to cum,” said Valdimar, just before he growled his orgasm and shot stream after stream into Lydia's mouth. The woman sucked and swallowed with relish, finally cleaning him off.


“Now it's time for reciprocation,” said Valdimar smiling. He loved eating the pussy of a lover who had just given him pleasure. To him it was one of the best parts of lovemaking. Lydia lay back, her legs open, and Valdimar moved into position. “I can do you next if you want,” he told Jordis, who simply shook her head. Someday, he thought, as he started to lick, kiss and nibble on Lydia's genitals. Lydia was crying out within minutes, her body responding to an expert lover. She had an orgasm, short and sweet, but the man kept working her, going for more. At the third orgasm she put her hands on Valdimar's head and lifted him away.


“That was wonderful. But now I wonder..” She looked at Jordis, who had an expression of deep arousal on her face.


Jordis lay back, opening her legs. “Me, please. I would like you to do that to me.”


Both Valdimar and Lydia laughed. They had both thought that seeing the result of the man's oral lovemaking on a woman would bring Jordis around. So Valdimar worked on the young woman, bringing her to four intense orgasms, and leaving her with a wide smile on her face. Valdimar was sure they would be doing this again, and soon.


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