The next morning the blizzard from the Sea of Ghosts was still going strong. If they had to ride in it Nora might have decided to wait it out. That wasn't a problem to someone who could teleport, and after gathering up their equipment and loading up the horses she made ready for the first jump. But first she needed to figure out where they were going.
“If I remember right, and memory serves,” said Eldawyn, looking down at their map of Skyrim, “I'm thinking North Skybound Watch. It fits the description in the passage. The only problem we're likely to run into is Hags. And of course, a Hagraven.”
“Is that the place Danica wanted us to go to pick up the special knife?” asked Sofia, eyes narrowed as she looked at the spot on the map. “Bad news that place. Lot of people go in there and don't come out.”
“Well, shit. I wanted to avoid that place for that very reason.” Nora had settled on using her monomolecular blade to do the same job as Nettlebane. Hagravens still freaked her out. She had little defense against their dark magic, and a couple of good hits could bring her, or any of her people, down. But she had some new spells, and she was thinking that Shroudwalk would allow her to get close and strike from the shadows. “I guess that's where we're going.”
“It'll be fine,” said a cheerful smiling Elesia, back to her old bubbly self.
Nora was very happy that they had snapped the woman out of her funk. Now it was up to Elesia to note when she was feeling down and seek the company of others to pull her out of it.
“Well, let's get going. I want to stop at Valkyrja first, to unload some stuff and get us resupplied for a long road trip.”
“I could do with a little down time in the castle,” said Eldawyn.
“Only a couple of hours,” said Nora firmly. “I want to get this quest over and done with, and I can't really rest with one of the quest targets in sight.” , she thought, realizing that Eldawyn and Sofia could be wrong. But their conjecture seemed to point in the right direction.
The first landing spot was still within the blizzard, snow blowing in the fierce wind to obscure all sight of anything nearby. Nora had to assume she was where she had wanted to appear, and cast the spell again. This time they were in an area that was cold and clear. She could see the clouds of the storm to the North, that region of Skyrim getting hammered. The way the wind was blowing it was coming this way, and she didn't intend to be there to greet it. Four jumps later and they were at the road junction, looking down the thoroughfare leading to Whiterun and Castle Valkyria. Four more jumps and they were there.
“Leave the horses loaded up,” she ordered the others. “If we tried to unburden them now we would just be loading up again in a couple of hours.”
The horses looked at her with mournful eyes, and she felt guilty for not unburdening them. Still, they were led to their stalls by the castle staff, where oats and hay, along with troughs of water, awaited them.
“Mamma. You're home,” cried Sofie as she spotted Nora coming into the manor. “Are you home for long?”
“I'm afraid not, Sofie. We're for the road again as soon as we can gather some things and get a meal in us.”
“Oh,” groaned the child. “Blaise and Lucia will be so disappointed that they missed you.”
, thought Nora, holding back the tears. She had given the children a warn place to stay, food and shelter, everything but her own time. She resolved that after she solved the riddle of the tome she would be back for a long stay. If something else didn't come up.
“Let's go kill some Hagravens, Dragonborn,” said a bubbly Elesia, standing near the black horse that had been her long-time mount.
Nora wasn't sure where the horse had originally come from, but she had a notion it hadn't been Nirn. The beast was hardy, intelligent and loyal, and was never far from Elesia when needed.
Nora had never been to North Skybound Watch or she could have made that the final teleport destination. As was, she had been to the crossroads outside of Helgen Keep, so that was the destination. At a hundred and twenty miles away it took eight jumps to get there, and Nora had to spend an hour resting and eating before moving on. She wanted to be at the top of her game when approaching the Hagravens, and it was still late morning when she and party moved out, using Thundering Hooves to advance up the road at a rapid pace.
“That's it,” said Sofia, pointing up the vale that led to the North. It was about a mile wide, and according to what Eldawyn and Sofia had marked on her map it was seven or eight miles to the ridgeline where the Watch sat.
“Valdimar, Lydia, stay with the horses. The rest, follow far behind. I don't need you giving me away. Elesia, stay close, but stay under cover. If a shot presents itself, take it.”
There were nods all around. Everyone felt anxiety at approaching these creatures. They had fought them in the past and it had always been sketchy. All trusted the judgment of their leader, so there were no arguments, something rare for a group made up mostly of Nords.
Nora cast Shroudwalk and moved out. She had to hope that no one in the vale had beast sight, or they would pick up her infrared image and invisibility would do her no good at all. With a shake of her head she moved ahead in a crouch, bow at the ready, making as little noise as a summer breeze. She turned at one point to see if Elesia was still on her. The woman was all but invisible behind her, keeping to the foliage and using her superior woodcraft to move ahead unnoticed.
The sound of voices alerted her to the pair of Hags ahead. Nora shifted her bow and drew the ultra-sharp Wakizashi she was using as a backup, moving forward on cat's feet. One of the Hags must have noticed something since she turned and peered into and through the invisible form of Nora. A moment later the short blade was through her heart, Nora was visible in front of her, and the Hag sagged and fell dead to the ground. The other Hag opened her mouth to shout. The shout turned into a gurgle as the short blade sliced through her neck. A moment later Nora was invisible again.
A bow twanged, followed by a short gasp, and the Dragonborn turned in time to see another Hag going down with an arrow through her neck. Turning, she caught sight of Elesia, holding a thumb up before notching another arrow.
Nora recast Shroudwalk, figuring that last casting was just about to run out of time, then moved toward what looked like a barbaric altar built on a copse, wooden stairs and a rickety bridge leading up to it. And movement. Followed a moment later by bolts of dark magic coming down and striking Elesia.
The magic looked wrong, felt wrong. It carried a taint of evil. A form of magic that Nora would never use, and one she had little defense against. But it wasn't targeting her, and she needed to take the caster out before her friend went down.
Nora sent a roaring fireball at the Hagraven, hitting her and burning away her concentration. The creature turned toward a now visible Nora, hands moving to cast dark magic. To take another fireball, then a third. The Hagraven went down, feathers aflame, a burning corpse. The feeling of evil left the area, and Nora was at the side of her friend, sending healing energy into her.
“God, but I hate those things,” said Elesia, groaning, then sighing as the pleasurable healing swept through her body.
“Well, let the looting begin,” said Nora with a smile, patting the woman on the back.
There was some good loot in the Hagraven's nest, including gems, potions, some various pieces of enchanted armor and weapons. And Nettlebane. No longer of any use to Nora, it would still make a good display piece in the castle museum. The horses were brought up and the party rode for the ridgeline, getting there in less than an hour. Then it was a long climb upwards, above the snowline, to find the unimposing Watch. There were some bandits camped out within, and it turned out to be an awfully bad day for them.
Nora placed the tome on the stand, a mirror image of the last, and cast as cold spell on the book. She hurriedly opened it and found a page with glowing words outlining the next step.
Over western river waters,
By Karth bounded, south and north
On mountains sits a humble crown.
Sky's wrath on this stand bring forth
To shake these snowcaps down.
“So, another riddle,” said Elesia in a huff. “Why can't these people just come out and give clear directions?”
“Any ideas?” Nora asked of the others.
“The Karth to the south and north,” said Lydia, concentrating. “Sounds like Four Skull Lookout. Just to the north of Sky Haven Temple. Maybe we can drop in on Delphine and Esbern while we're in the area.”
“Like hell we will,” muttered Nora. She still didn't like the Breton Blade, and also didn't want to report that she hadn't spoken to the Greybeards. But she was thankful for her people. Without them she would be wandering blindly through the wilderness without any idea of where she should be going.
The party landed near Red Eagle's Redoubt, the closest point to the Lookout she could teleport to. And right into a fight between Forsworn and a dragon. The beast was making another run on the barbarians, a jet of flame catching a Briarheart and sending the undead man to fall smoking to the ground. Powerful Forsworn bows sent arrows into the red dragon, which bellowed in rage and pain as it wheeled through the sky.
“What do you want to do?” asked Eldawyn as the party looked on from the distance.
“Anyone got popcorn?” asked Nora, to the blank expressions of her people. “I say we enjoy the show, and the winner gets the prize. Us.”
There was some laughter at that. She thought the dragon was going to win this fight, though it would come out the other side badly injured. After another minute of combat the dragon fell dead from the sky, while the much-reduced group of Forsworn cheered and yelled, rallying around the dragon corpse.
“That's ours,” shouted Nora in a loud voice, turning the attention of the Forsworn their way. The fire storm she sent at them captured their attention to an even greater extent, and they started running toward the party. Only a few got within bow range, the rest taken down by offensive spells along the way. Elesia, Lydia and Jordis took out the last few with arrows, and the way to the dragon was clear.
“Would that they all would be that easy,” said Jordis as they approached the form of the dragon, which started to smoke and burn as Nora got close.
“Don't get too arrogant,” she cautioned the young Sword Maiden. “These people...”
The quickening struck, her body rising into the air as orgasmic pleasure ran through her body and the soul of the dragon entered her. She cried out her pain and pleasure, then landed on the ground with a blast of overflow.
“You were saying, my Thane?” asked a smiling Jordis.
“Treat your enemies with respect, Jordis,” said Lydia, putting Nora's thoughts into words. “They can and will kill you if given the chance. Right, my Lady?”
“Correct,” said Nora, looking over the smoking corpse of the dragon, now devoid of most of its flesh and scales. Her eyes landed on the scaly capsule in the chest, what had to be the covering for the heart that had once beat there.
As a test she tried to cut some of the scales away with her knife, watching in amazement as the ultra-sharp blade made not a dent to the hard material. Kahvozein's Fang sliced through the scales like they were paper.
“How many do you need?” asked a curious Jordis as Nora went to work cutting scales and gathering them in a small sack.
“I don't know. So I'm going to take all this monster has.” Satisfied that she had gotten them all she mounted and led the party to the north, in search of Four Skull Lookout. It wasn't difficult to find, since the bandits yelling and gesturing at them outside of it drew their attention right to it. The bandits gone, Nora made her way through the Lookout to the familiar pedestal, placing the tome on it. She called up Chain Lightning and sent the spell into the tome, then pulled the book down with anticipation. There was now another page of multiple lines, chilling in their implications.
Elemental magic wielded,
Elemental thoughts displayed.
Havoc wrought as if for sport,
Efforts to impress fall short.
I'll merely use a blade.
Seeking study, wanting learning,
Recklessly aroused my rage!
My pupil you would be, or more?
Presume not of Shalidor,
You feeble, foolish mage!
Quickly dispatched, worthless weakling,
Though this tome I gladly claim.
A diamond in the rough, I find,
Shining gem from feeble mind.
Now die, and curse my name!
, she thought as she waited for something bad to happen. Instead, the knowledge of a spell entered her mind, a more powerful version of Firestorm. And Faralda would have further spells for her.
“That's a grim sounding verse,” said Eldawyn, looking over Nora's shoulder.
“It is. But I'm now a Master of Destruction, and the first of the Master level spells is mine. Now, back to the College so I can unlock that damned teleportation spell.”
Her followers cheered, then made ready to move out. The horses had not been unloaded, so there was little to do. Nora cast the first teleport spell and they were on their way.
It was a long and tiring trip. Over six hundred miles as the bird flew, but unfortunately she hadn't touched down in all the places in between, and had to angle out of the way in some places. That made the trip more like eight hundred miles, over fifty jumps. After about twenty, building on the ones she had already done that day, Nora was exhausted. She had the magicka, but with a fatigued mind felt it unwise, unsafe, to do more that day. She thought of an inn that was about twelve miles from where they stood, and with a quick cast had them there. Her vision was blurring, her stomach rumbling, and her legs felt weak.
“Nora,” cried Eldawyn, the smile on her face from seeing the inn turning into a look of panic.
“So tired. So hungry. So....”
The blurring turned into blackness, and her legs gave out underneath her.
The setting was familiar, the cloud home of Kynareth. She still felt tired, but her spirit was revitalizing with each second. And then the Goddess was there in all her elfin beauty, holding out a hand for Nora to take, then leading her on to a glade. A pool of sparkling water shimmered under the boughs of great trees. The Goddess looked into Nora's eyes with orbs that reflected the stars, then gently pulled her down to the soft sward.
Nora sighed as the Goddess kissed her with the softest lips ever. She gasped as a hard member probed at her vagina, realizing that the deity was now in the body of a male. The gasp turned into a cry of pleasure as the most perfect cock she had ever felt buried itself to the hilt within her.
“I am very pleased with you Dragonborn,” said the still female face of her lover.
Nora wasn't able to speak, her total concentration on the rapturous pleasure of being fucked by the Divine. She rode what seemed like an endless series of orgasms before she felt the cock swell, the seed spurting into her womb. It had a quality all its own, energizing, relaxing, the end of the perfect coupling.
Later they lay beside each other, Kynareth back in her very feminine body, her hands playing with Nora's breasts as she smiled. “I am proud of you, my champion. To have mastered four schools of magic faster than anyone has ever mastered one. But you push yourself too hard at times. If not for your friends to take care of you, you might have died. Your wonderful metabolism is a boon, but also a burden.”
“Am I in danger? Out in the real world?”
“And why would you think that world any more real than this?” asked the laughing Goddess, gesturing at her summoned glade. “But no. You friends have seen to your welfare. And now for the reason I have visited you this night.”
“I thought you wanted to make love to me,” said Nora with a smile. “Now I'm disappointed.”
The Goddess laughed again, the most musical laugh the Dragonborn had ever heard. “It was very pleasant indeed. For me as well as you. But I have a message of more import. Soon you will be ready to face Alduin.”
Nora's spirits fell. While she still missed home, she had come to enjoy her life here. And a confrontation with the Dragon God could cut that life very short, very quickly.
“I am afraid, Kynareth.”
“Of course you are. You would be a fool to not be. But you have it in you to face him, to defeat him. Never doubt that. Go to the College, see some of your friends. But soon you need to talk to the leader of the Greybeards, who will give you direction.”
“Can't you just tell me?”
“That is not my role in this drama, my sweet. Now, your time here is near an end.” They made love once again, Nora wondering how she had ever been satisfied with sex with mortals. However, mortals were what she had to work with while she was still a mortal. The last orgasm took her to new heights, and she awoke gasping her pleasure in a soft bed.
“The Goddess again,” said Eldawyn, lying beside her and running her hands over Nora's body. “So, I guess this poor mortal is not needed tonight?”
“Sorry,” said Nora, the smile still stretching her face. “Give me a day and things will be back to normal.”
“You need to watch yourself, Nora,” said Eldawyn, her voice taking on a scolding tone. “I know you wanted to get to the college so you could gather up your new toys, but you pushed yourself too hard. You are incredibly good at magic, and have a powerful store of magicka, but casting can tire you just as readily as swinging your blades.”
“I know,” said Nora, feeling a flush of shame. “And you are right. I wanted to get those new spells so I could play with them. I've always been a sucker for new and better weapons.”
“You aren't a Goddess, my sweet. Well, maybe a Demigoddess. So, do us all a favor and remember your limitations.. Now, we have some hours before the sun is up, and I want you to sleep through that time. We will see at breakfast if you are ready for travel.”
“And if I'm not?”
“Well, I don't think any of us can stop you if your mind is set on hitting the road. But it would be foolish to start off if you are not fresh and ready. So promise me that you will listen to your friends.”
“Agreed,” said Nora with a smile, closing her eyes and fading back into a dreamless sleep, secure in the knowledge that she had people looking out for her.