TES5 Skyrim: Alduin’s Wall

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Esbern

I’ll need this… No, no, useless trash… where’d I put my annotated Anuad?

One moment, I know, time is of the essence, but mustn’t leave secrets for the Thalmor… there’s one more I must bring…

Well, I guess that’s good enough… let’s be off…

(as I escort Esbern from his hideout into the Ratway, we are attacked by more Thalmor soldiers. Among them is the Nord Gissur, whom I first saw at the Thalmor Embassy. Judging from the note I found on his dead body, it appears he has been informing the Thalmor of our activities in Riften. Perhaps its best that we hurry out of this city before attracting more unwanted attention. But before we leave the Ratway for good, I pull Esbern aside for some more interrogation)

Player

What’s so important about me being Dragonborn?

Esbern

Not yet, not yet. When we get to Riverwood… with Delphine… I’ll tell you both then, when I’ve collected my thoughts.

I never expected… well, suddenly here you are and now I’m too muddled to explain myself.

I still need some time to get used to the idea that there might be hope for us after all.

Player

Who are you? How do you know Delphine?

Esbern

Hasn’t she told you? We were both Blades, back when that still meant something.

Now we’re just fellow fugitives from the Thalmor. I didn’t know she was still alive, but I’m not surprised. She was a survivor.

Player

Why are the Thalmor so interested in finding you?

Esbern

Well. They’ve been hunting down Blades since the Great War, on general principle.

But if you mean me, now, in particular… maybe they’ve started to get an inkling of what the return of the dragons means.

I don’t suppose they want the world to end any more than we do. Or at least, they’d prefer to end it on their terms.

Player

What happened on the 30th of Frostfall?

Esbern

It was a cold day. The end of Frostfall is nearly winter in the Jerall Mountains.

We heard the news at Cloud Ruler by courier, riding hard from the Imperial City.

30th of Frostfall, 171. Thirty years ago. The Great War started on that day.

The Thalmor ambassador delivered his ultimatum to the Emperor Titus Mede: the heads of every Blades agent within the Aldmeri Dominion.

I knew, that day, that it was truly the beginning of the end.

Shavari

And now you pay for meddling in the Thalmor’s affairs.

(as we exited the Ratway and made for the Riften stables, we were attacked by a Thalmor assassin; a Khajiit named Shavari. From the orders we found on her body it looks like she was sent by Ambassador Elenwen herself. Not looking to take any chances, I hired a carriage to take us directly to Whiterun from which we could make the short hike to Riverwood. We found Delphine at the Sleeping Giant as usual)

Esbern

Delphine! I… it’s good to see you. It’s been… a long time.

Delphine

It’s good to see you, too, Esbern. It’s been too long, old friend. Too long.

(to me)

Well, then. You made it, safe and sound. Good. Come on, I have a place we can talk.

Orgnar, hold down the bar for a minute, will you?

Orgnar

Yeah, sure.

Delphine

This way.

Now then. I assume you know about…

Esbern

Oh yes! Dragonborn! Indeed, yes.

This changes everything, of course. There’s no time to lose. We must locate… let me show you. I know I had it here, somewhere…

Delphine

Esbern, what…

Esbern

Give me… just a moment…

Ah! Here it is. Come, let me show you.

You see, right here. Sky Haven Temple, constructed around one of the main Akaviri military camps in the Reach, during their conquest of Skyrim.

Delphine

(to me)

Do you know what he’s talking about?

Esbern

Shh!

This is where they built Alduin’s Wall, to set down in stone all their accumulated dragonlore.

A hedge against the forgetfulness of centuries.

A wise and foresighted policy, in the event.

Despite the far-reaching fame of Alduin’s Wall at the time – one of the wonders of the ancient world – its location was lost.

Delphine

Esbern. What are you getting at?

Esbern

You mean… you don’t mean to say you haven’t heard of Alduin’s Wall?

Either of you?

Delphine

Let’s pretend we haven’t. What’s Alduin’s Wall and what does it have to do with stopping the dragons?

Esbern

Alduin’s Wall was where the ancient Blades recorded all they knew of Alduin and his return. Part history, part prophecy.

Its location has been lost for centuries, but I’ve found it again. Not lost, you see, just forgotten.

The Blades archives held so many secrets… I was only able to save a few scraps…

Delphine

So you think that Alduin’s Wall will tell us how to defeat Alduin?

Esbern

Well, yes, but… there’s no guarantee, of course.

Delphine

Sky Haven Temple it is, then. I knew you’d have something for us, Esbern.

(to me)

I know the area of the Reach that Esbern’s talking about. Near what’s now known as Karthspire, in the Karth River canyon.

We can meet you there, or all travel together, your call.

Player

What’s the best way to get there?

Delphine

From Riverwood? The road south through Falkreath is the most direct route.

Or you could catch the carriage from Whiterun to Markarth and then approach from the west.

Either way, the Reach is wild country these days. The Forsworn are everywhere. Best be careful.

Player

Let’s travel there together. Are you ready to go?

Delphine

Always. Let’s go see if we can find this Sky Haven Temple.

(I approach Esbern to ask a few more questions)

Esbern

You’ll have to speak up. I’m a little deaf in my right ear.

Player

Tell me about Alduin’s Wall.

Esbern

Alduin’s Wall was created by the ancient Akaviri Dragonguard, the forerunners of the Blades.

One of the lost secrets of the Blades. Where they recorded all they knew of Alduin and his return. Part history, part prophecy.

Its location was lost for centuries, but I know where it is: Sky Haven Temple, an ancient Blades sanctuary, hidden within the crags of the Reach.

Player

How do we get to Sky Haven Temple?

Esbern

Ah, yes. The entrance seems to be near what’s now known as the Karthspire. We’ll have to see what we find when we arrive.

Player

What’s so important about me being Dragonborn?

It’s the prophecy, don’t you see? Only a Dragonborn can stop Alduin and avert the end of the world!

But… I don’t yet know how you can stop him. The prophecy doesn’t say. But Alduin’s Wall does. I hope.

(as we are leaving, Delphine takes a moment to speak to Orgnar)

Delphine

Orgnar, this is it. The inn is yours. I’m probably never coming back here.

Orgnar

Well, now. That’s something to think about.

Delphine

Take care of yourself, Orgnar. Goodbye.

Orgnar

Yeah… sure. You, too, Delphine. You be safe.

(and with that we begin our journey heading south from Riverwood and then west through Falkreath Hold, past Lake Ilinalta. It’s a dangerous journey, but after killing a powerful blood dragon in the Reach, we find ourselves outside a Forsworn encampment close to the Karthspire)

Esbern

(as I absorb the dragon’s soul)

Alduin cannot ignore this for long.

(I approach Esbern)

Player

How do we find the entrance to Sky Haven Temple?

Esbern

The entrance must be past the Forsworn camp. Look for a canyon or cave entrance into the Karthspire.

(after we storm the Forsworn camp, we find a cavern leading into the Karthspire. After killing the few Forsworn within, we come across ancient Akaviri ruins deeper within the cave)

Delphine

This looks promising.

Esbern

Yes. Definitely early Akaviri stonework here.

Delphine

We’ve got to get this bridge down.

These pillars must have something to do with it.

Esbern

Yes. These are Akaviri symbols.

Let’s see… you have the symbol for “King”… and “Warrior”…

And of course the symbol for “Dragonborn.” That’s the one that appears to have a sort of arrow shape pointing downward at the bottom.

(I start turning the center pillar until the symbol for “Dragonborn” is facing us)

Yes, that’s it. The symbol on the middle pillar.

(I turn the remaining pillars so that all the forward facing symbols are for “Dragonborn.” On cue, the ancient stone bridge lowers and allows us passage over it)

Delphine

Whatever you did, it worked. Let’s see what else those old Blades left in our way.

(as we continue deeper down the path, the cavern opened up into a room with a peculiar floor. Esbern calls us to a halt)

Esbern

Wait.

Delphine

Why are you stopping?

Esbern

We should be careful here. See these symbols on the floor?

Delphine

Hmm. Esbern’s right. Look like pressure plates.

Esbern

We’ll cross once it’s safe.

Be careful.

(knowing my cue, I confidently step onto one of the pressure plates carved with a “Dragonborn” symbol. When nothing happens, I navigate my way across the room by following the “Dragonborn” symbol and when I reach the far side I pull a chain to disable the trap)

Delphine

Looks safe now. Let’s move.

Esbern

Yes, yes! I think we must be close to the entrance.

(We continue down the winding passageway and over more stone bridges until the cavern widened again into a broad room under the open sky. Ahead of us, adorned with an unknown visage, was the ancient stone edifice of Sky Haven Temple)

Wonderful! Remarkably well-preserved, too.

Ah… here’s the “blood seal.” Another of the lost Akaviri arts. No doubt triggered by… well, blood.

Your blood, Dragonborn.

Delphine

If you need help drawing some blood, let me know.

Esbern

Look here! You see how the ancient Blades revered Reman Cyrodiil.

Amazing, eh? To be standing at the very entrance to Sky Haven Temple itself!

This whole place appears to be a shrine to Reman. He ended the Akaviri invasion under mysterious circumstances, you recall.

After the so-called “battle” of Pale Pass, the Akaviri went into his service. This was the foundation stone of the Second Empire.

(to me)

Gods above, what are you waiting for?

Delphine

Esbern’s probably right. Try using your blood on the carved seal on the floor.

(I kneel over the seal and use a dagger to cut open the palm of my left hand. Almost immediately, the seal begins to turn and glow with a pale light)

That’s done it! Look, it’s coming to life!

(In response, the large head of Reman lifts up and reveals the entrance to Sky Haven Temple)

You did it. There’s the entrance!

After you, Dragonborn. You should have the honor of being the first to set foot in Sky Haven Temple.

Esbern

There’s no telling what we might find inside.

(I enter Sky Haven Temple as the others follow. As we ascend the winding steps of a narrow corridor, Esbern ogles the ancient stonework)

Fascinating! Original Akaviri bas-reliefs… almost entirely intact!

Amazing… you can see how the Akaviri craftsmen were beginning to embrace the more flowing Nordic style…

Delphine

We’re here for Alduin’s Wall, right, Esbern?

Esbern

Yes, of course. We’ll have more time to look around later, I suppose. Let’s see what’s up ahead.

(we emerge from the corridor into a vast chamber. There before us is Alduin’s Wall!)

Shor’s bones! Here it is! Alduin’s Wall… so well preserved… I’ve never seen a finer example of early second era Akaviri sculptural relief…

Delphine

Esbern. We need information, not a lecture on art history.

Esbern

Yes, yes. Let’s see what we have…

Look, here is Alduin! This panel goes back to the beginning of time, when Alduin and the Dragon Cult ruled over Skyrim.

Here, the humans rebel against their dragon overlords — the legendary Dragon War.

Alduin’s defeat is the centerpiece of the Wall.

You see, here he is falling from the sky. The Nord Tongues — masters of the Voice — are arrayed against him.

Delphine

So, does it show how they defeated him? Isn’t that why we’re here?

Esbern

Patience, my dear. The Akaviri were not a straightforward people. Everything is couched in allegory and mythic symbolism.

Yes, yes. This here, coming from the mouths of the Nord heroes — this is the Akaviri symbol for “Shout.”

But… there’s no way to know what Shout is meant.

Delphine

You mean they used a Shout to defeat Alduin? You’re sure?

Esbern

Hmm? Oh, yes. Presumably something rather specific to dragons, or even Alduin himself.

Remember, this is where they recorded all they knew of Alduin and his return.

Delphine

So we’re looking for a Shout, then. Damn it.

(to me)

Have you ever heard of such a thing? A Shout that can knock a dragon out of the sky?

Player

No, I’ve never heard of anything like that.

Delphine

I was afraid you were going to say that.

I guess there’s nothing for it. We’ll have to ask the Greybeards for help.

I hoped to avoid involving them in this, but we have no other choice.

Player

What do you have against the Greybeards?

Delphine

If they had their way, you’d do nothing but sit up on their mountain with them and talk to the sky, or whatever it is they do.

The Greybeards are so afraid of power that they won’t use it.

Think about it. Have they tried to stop the civil war, or done anything about Alduin?

No. And they’re afraid of you, of your power.

Trust me, there’s no need to be afraid. Think of Tiber Septim. Do you think he’d have founded the Empire if he’d listened to the Greybeards?

Player

The Greybeards may have a point. Power is dangerous.

Delphine

Only if you don’t know how to use it. All the great heroes have had to learn to use their power.

Those that shrank from their destiny… well, you’ve never heard of them, have you?

And there are the villains – those that misused their power. There’s always a choice, and there’s always a risk.

But if you live in fear of what might go wrong, you’ll end up doing nothing. Like the Greybeards up on their mountain.

Player

I’d better go see what Arngeir knows about this Shout.

Delphine

Right. Good thing they’ve already let you into their little cult. Not likely they’d help Esbern or me if we came calling.

We’ll look around Sky Haven Temple and see what else the old Blades might have left for us. It’s a better hideout than I could have hoped for.

Talos guard you.

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