Although he still mourned his father, Dolff found that being Jarl of Windhelm wasn’t as difficult as he had feared. His days were filled with business, but everyone knew his or her job and was generous with their guidance. For the most part, the prominent citizens of Windhelm, whom he had expected to approach him with demands and unsolicited advice, gave him the time and space he needed to ease into the job. A couple of them came to the Palace of the Kings with such tidings, but Dolff let them know right away and under no uncertain terms that he would not be bullied, and they left him alone.
Although he spent a fair amount of time in meetings, he still managed to get out to the yard and train with Rowan and Ben for several hours each day. When he decided it was time to take a break and go, there were few protests, if any. He was the jarl, after all, and his constituents had been used to serving him even before Ulfric had died.
He didn’t move into the master suite right away but instead opted to keep his old room for the time being. He just couldn’t make himself go through his da’s things and replace them with his own yet. Rowan offered to do it, but he declined. When he was ready, he would do it himself.
When he wasn’t training, Ben spent most of his time tinkering around in the mage’s quarters and conversing with Quintus Navale, the alchemist. Dolff hadn’t officially offered him the job of court mage yet, but he was settling into it as though he had been doing it for years. Naming him was really only a formality at this point, and nothing was holding him back except more pressing matters.
Rowan spent her days training, reading, and sitting with Dolff in the great hall, offering whatever advice or encouragement she could. At night, she shared his bed, comforting him when things quieted down and he had time to grieve. He noticed, though, that she seemed to have taken a step back from him. When they were in bed, things were normal; but whenever they were in the great hall, the conference room, or even sitting around their chambers in the evening, she was respectful, almost reverent at times, speaking to him like she was no more than one of his subjects—or worse, his staff. The hardest part about his first week as jarl was hearing Rowan call him “my jarl.” He couldn’t have that.
Dolff sent Jorleif to the marketplace to retrieve a special item, and when the steward came back, he put it in his pocket for later. He and Rowan had dinner alone that night; Ben was off at Candlehearth Hall, chatting up some voluptuous city guard he was having a flirtation with. As they sat by the fire with drinks after they dined, she tried to talk about business, but Dolff wasn’t interested.
“You’ve grown distant in the past few days,” he said, cutting her off while she was talking about some edict or another that he was planning to make.
“What? No, I haven’t.”
“Aye, you have. You’ve pulled away, and I don’t know why.”
Rowan took a sip of mead and considered for a moment, weighing her words. He was right: there was something going on.
“It’s just that you have all these new responsibilities,” she said finally. “You have enough to worry about without me hanging on your arm all the time. I want to help you in any way I can.”
“You can help me by loving me.”
She reached out and took his hand. “I do love you, Dolff. I just . . . I don’t know what to expect now that you’re Jarl.”
“Then let me clarify for you.” He pulled the item Jorleif had bought for him from his pocket and clasped it around his neck. It was an Amulet of Mara. “Marry me, Rowan.”
Rowan’s eyes widened, and she reached out and touched the amulet that now rested on his chest. A single tear slid down her cheek. “I love you so much, Dolff. But are you ready for this? Are we ready?”
“We’ve said a hundred times that we wanted to marry someday, perhaps after we were done adventuring. Apparently, I’m done. You don’t have to stop—I wouldn’t want you to stop if you didn’t want to. We’re young, I know, but we’ve also grown up a lot lately. I just want to continue to grow together.”
“I don’t want you to feel like you have to do something you’re not ready for because you believe it’s expected of you. Or because you don’t want to lose me.”
Dolff’s heart sank. She was going to say no. “I don’t want to lose you. But that’s not why I’m asking. I’m asking you because there will never be anybody else, because we belong together, and because I’m ready. But if you’re not, I understand, and I can wait. I’ll wait for you forever if I have to.”
“You’ve really thought this through?”
“I’ve been thinking it through for months.”
“I don’t want to be an ornament. I want to work for you.”
“You can continue on as an operative if you’d like, or do whatever you want. Just please stop calling me ‘my jarl.’”
Rowan finally smiled, then leaned in and kissed him. “I would be thrilled to marry you.”
Elated, Dolff grinned and pulled her onto his lap. “I’ll make you happy, Ro. Every day for the rest of our life together.”
“You already do, you silly boy,” she chuckled. “You silly jarl. What do they call the jarl’s spouse?”
“‘The jarl’s spouse.’ If on the off chance I become High King, you’ll be Queen.”
“Oh, sweet Talos, I hadn’t even thought about that.”
With a grunt, Dolff said, “I never stop thinking about it. Scares the crap out of me.”
“You’ll do fine, and you’ll make your da proud. And me. I love you, my jarl.”
Dolff cringed. “Will you please stop calling me that? Even in jest. I don’t care who’s even around; just call me by my name. And if you ever call me ‘Your Grace,’ I’m going to turn you over my knee.”
“Promises, promises,” Rowan replied with a giggles.
“What, you don’t think I will?”
“I don’t think you have the stones.”
“Ha, I’ll show you.” He stood up, gathering her in his arms, and carried her to the bed as she kicked and flailed against him.
“Put me down, Dolff!” she cried.
Dolff sat down with her and turned her over as she fought him, unable to control her giggles, and slapped her bottom half a dozen times. She squealed with each strike. “Still think I don’t have the stones?” he dared her.
“You call that a spanking, ya milk-drinker?”
“Oh, it’s too soft, eh?” He swatted her a few more times, harder, his hand actually stinging. She continued to squirm, protest, and giggle until he gave up and lay back on the bed, pulling her with him, and they clung to each other, laughing hysterically.
“I needed that,” he said when he finally caught his breath.
“I thought you said I needed it,” she teased.
He leaned in and kissed her, but just as the kiss deepened, a knock came at the door. “Enter,” Dolff barked impatiently.
Kira, Ralof’s wife and Dolff’s steward-in-training, opened the door and stuck her head in. “I’m sorry to bother you, Jarl, but you just received an urgent letter from Selene Stormblade.”
He got of bed and went to the door, where Kira was hovering. “Let me see it.” He opened the letter, but it was in the dragon language, so he would have to translate it. “Thank you, Kira. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Jarl. Rowan.”
When she had gone, Dolff took the letter to his desk. “It’s my first coded letter,” he told Rowan.
“Can I help?”
“You’ll have to. Otherwise, it’ll take me all night to translate it.”
She came over to the desk and sat on his lap, taking the letter and studying it. “Looks like Mama made it as simple for you as possible,” she noted. “‘Sword found. See Serana at Castle Volkihar. Prepare for difficult journey.’”
If the possibility of Rowan’s rejection made his heart sink, this news made it plunge to new depths. She would want to go and likely wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. “‘Prepare for difficult journey,’” he repeated. “That doesn’t sound good.”
“But they found it, and that’s good news. It’s the last piece, love; we can finally get this over with. I’ll get Ben, and we can leave at first light.”
Dolff swallowed hard. “I knew you were going to say that. I could send Coranil, you know.”
“No, it would take too long. You’d have to send for him, and even if you just sent him a coded letter instead of having him come here, it would add several days to the mission. Ben and I can leave right away; it just makes more sense to send us. Besides, we know Serana and Coranil doesn’t. You know you’ll have to send me on missions if you let me stay on as an operative.”
“It’s not going to be easy.”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“To stay safe? Not for a moment. You can be a daredevil, Ro. I just want to be sure, when I send you on a mission, that you’re going to come back to me in one piece.”
“I’ll do my best, love, I promise.”
Dolff peered past Rowan at the Jagged Crown, which sat on a side table. He still hadn’t put the thing on; he had seen what wearing it did to his father, and just touching it sent disturbing tingles of magic up his arms. He wasn’t about to take unnecessary chances by wearing it. “I’ve been thinking,” he remarked. “I may send for Coranil and have him go to the College of Winterhold. I want to know what we missed.”
“The lore we have on the Coat of Storms is either incomplete, incorrect, or an outright lie. Maybe the wizards at the college can shed some light.”
“But Coranil isn’t a member of the college. You could wait till we get back and send Ben.”
He shook his head. “I don’t want to wait that long. While you and Ben are getting the last piece, Coranil can be doing research. I’ll send him up there with letters from me and from Ben. Hopefully, that will be enough.”
He took her face in his hands and kissed her. “If you’re leaving tomorrow, I can think of better places for us to be than sitting in this chair.”
Rowan got up and took his hand, leading him over to the bed. As they made love, the fervent possessiveness he had felt after they had saved Coranil came over him once again. Although he would never act on it, at times like this he had the strangest compulsion to tie her to the bed so she couldn’t get away, or lock her in a tower and never let her leave. But he had to let her go; he knew that. He couldn’t be overprotective, he couldn’t smother her, and he couldn’t rule her. She was too strong, too vital, too . . . too Rowan, for him to even think of restricting her like that. If he did, he would only alienate her, and eventually he would lose her altogether.
But letting her walk out the door with only the warning, “Prepare for a difficult journey,” was going to be the hardest thing he’d ever had to do.
* * *
Coranil knew he was dreaming, but the pain certainly seemed real as the torturer severed his ear. Sometimes he could wake himself up before the actual injury, but this time he felt the scrape of the knife, the splash of blood, and the burning agony as his ear was sliced off. The sound of chaos out in the hallway drifted into the room, and his torturer ran to the door to meet his death. Usually at this point in the dream, Rowan, Dolff, and Ben came in and helped him out of the shackles before the dream faded into other images and musings. But this time he got a surprise: his dream rescuer was Kaawenyth.
He awoke with a gasp, opening his eyes and sitting up to find Kaawenyth lounging next to him, beautifully naked, munching on a sweetroll and reading a book, just as she had been doing every day for the past week. The morning after they had made love for the first time, he had awakened to the blessed sight after fearing it had all just been a happy dream. But there she had sat, sweetroll in hand, and had quipped, “So are you still planning on sending the guards after me, or what?”
“Morning, lover,” she cooed, leaning in to kiss him. “You didn’t seem to be as distressed by your nightmare as usual. I was just about to wake you up, but you calmed before I could do it.”
“At times, the dream plays itself out. It is odd, but those are less traumatic, perhaps because there is closure.”
“Bite?” she asked, holding a piece of pastry toward him. He opened his mouth, and she fed him the morsel. She turned and reached for something on the nightstand behind her, then produced a sealed letter and handed it to him. “Courier came early this morning.”
He took the proffered letter and broke the seal. “Dovahzul,” he noted. Despite Kaawenyth’s protests, Coranil climbed out of bed and went to his desk to translate. His tiny elven lover padded over and took a seat on his lap as he worked.
“You know, this would be much easier if I did not have to work around you,” he grumbled.
“Do you want me to move?”
He placed a kiss on her cheek. “No. No, I do not.”
“Besides, don’t you know most of this stuff already?”
“I do have a working knowledge of the language, but I use my reference books so as not to make any mistakes.”
“Well, what does it say?”
“‘Sword found. Sent Rowan and Ben to Castle’ —it says ‘victor,’ but I think he means Castle Volkihar.”
“The vampires’ castle?”
“It is likely. There are vampires who worked for Ulfric from time to time. ‘Need you to come to Windhelm to discuss options.’ Ill news—looks like I am off to Windhelm.”
Kaaley wrapped her arms around his neck. “Nope, not gonna happen. You have to stay here and love me; you can never leave again.”
He smiled and ran his hand up her leg and over her curves. “You know, eventually we will run out of sweetrolls and starve to death.”
“But we would die happy. Maybe we could have Anoriath deliver meats for me and have Mila bring vegetables for you. Ysolda could send over some wine, and we could just stay up here and make love forever.”
He glanced at letter and then looked back up at her with a sigh. “That sounds lovely. Unfortunately, I do not believe our distinguished jarl would condone that.”
“Okay, but one more time before you go.”
“Oh, if I must,” he joked.
* * *
5E 20, 25 Midyear
Rowan and Ben arrived at Castle Volkihar in the middle of the night, and the great hall was bustling with activity. She tried to stay back near the door, but the vampire who had let them in showed them to the balcony—for shock value, she was sure. Trying to ignore the vampires who were feeding on the human cattle tied to the table was bad enough, but it was impossible to block out the lustful stares some of them were giving her and her brother.
“Serana is busy at the moment,” said the vampire. “You’ll have to wait.”
“Tell her Ben and Rowan are here,” Ben requested.
The vampire raised an eyebrow. “Ben? Well, that makes a difference. Wait here; I’ll announce you.” He left them on the balcony and rushed through the hall to a door leading out the back.
Rowan turned to her brother. “Seeing all this, do you still want to become a vampire?”
Ben shrugged. “It’s not like I don’t know what’s involved. The way I see it, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.”
“If you say so.” She shuddered when she witnessed one of the vampires biting into the wrist of some hapless wood elf, glad Dolff wasn’t here to see it. She missed him like crazy, but their last visit to the castle had been so hard on him that she was happy he didn’t have to repeat it.
After a few minutes, Serana came through the great hall with a tall Nord vampire trailing behind her. When she first saw them, a broad smile crossed her face. She ascended the stairs to the balcony and took Rowan in her arms. “It’s so good to see you.”
“And you, Serana.”
The beautiful vampire turned to Ben and wrapped her arms around him, holding him a bit tighter and longer than she had Rowan.
Ben held her, too, burying his face in her hair. “Did you miss me?” he asked breathily.
“More than I should.” She pulled back and regarded the two of them. “This is Orthjolf,” she said, pointing to the other vampire.
Orthjolf extended his arm, and Ben grabbed his wrist in greeting, then Rowan did the same. “Well met, mortals,” he said. “We assume you’re here about the sword?”
“Aye,” said Rowan. “We heard you had found it.”
“Well, ‘found’ might not be the right word,” Serana commented. “Follow me.” She led them down the stairs to the hall, then out a side door that opened onto a laboratory with an alchemy table, several shelves of books and ingredients, and a table in the center that had shackles and some sort of head clamp bolted to it. They went through the room and up a short flight of stairs to a mezzanine, where an arcane enchanter stood in the corner. A churning nimbus hovered above the enchanting table, and through it, Rowan could see what appeared to be another world. The nimbus was a portal of some kind.
“And where is ‘there’?” Ben inquired.
“It’s Coldharbour,” Serana told him.
A bitter chill ran down Rowan’s spine. From everything she had ever heard, Coldharbour was absolutely the worst plane of Oblivion, a desolate place where the damned were imprisoned and tortured, atronachs roamed free, and soulless zombies wandered everywhere. “Shadows preserve us,” she whispered.
“How in Talos’s name did it get there?” Ben demanded.
“Vingalmo—this is his lab—found the sword in the ruins of Northwatch Keep,” said Serana. “After doing some experimentation on it, he felt that the best place for the sword was somewhere that no one could get to it.”
“I’m thinking we should leave it there,” Rowan declared. “Dolff has pretty much decided the Coat of Storms needs to be destroyed. The fewer pieces we have, the easier it should be, right?”
“Coat of Storms?” Orthjolf echoed.
“It’s a collection of artifacts that is supposed to confer great power on the user, but we’re beginning to believe that our intelligence was faulty.”
“What is it, Orthjolf?” Serana asked when she noticed the big Nord’s pensive expression.
“Something I heard Vingalmo say once. Come with me.” He started to lead them from the room but stopped short. “Serana, how much of the castle do you want these mortals to see?”
“I trust them implicitly, Orthjolf. Blanche is their godmother, and their parents are friends to our kind. We have nothing to hide, and they’re welcome here.”
“Then prepare for a shock, mortals.”
“You know, we do have names,” Ben reminded him.
Orthjolf glared at him. “Fine. Prepare for a shock, Rowan and Ben.”
He led them past the great hall and through a few connecting rooms, some of which contained wall shackles and bloodied skeletons.
“Serana—” Ben began.
“With the Divines as my witness, Ben,” said Serana, “I swear to you I was telling the truth when I said we had nothing to hide. We take bandits, some necromancers, and any Thalmor we come across—and we still do come across Thalmor, by the way. If we do have to feed on an innocent, we take only what we need and leave the person alive. That is the law, and if a vampire does not abide by it, the penalty is death.”
He reached out and caressed her cheek. “I believe you, Serana.”
“Let’s move,” said Orthjolf.
They finally came to the dungeon, where cells containing piles of bones lined the walls. A few prisoners languished in the cells and a human thrall wandered through, placing food and water at the doors. The odor wasn’t as bad as Rowan would have anticipated. The stench of body odor and feces was prevalent, but there was no smell of rot and decay. She had no idea how old all those bones were, no one had died recently in this dungeon. Of course, that could just mean the vampires didn’t leave them here when they died.
Orthjolf stopped at one of the cells and peered in at the prisoner, a white-haired high elf. He was different from the others, cleaner, healthier. Instead of the rags the others wore, he was dressed in full leather armor similar to the set Orthjolf wore. Then Rowan realized: he was a vampire. He sat in the corner between two piles of bones, looking bored. His hands were bound behind his back. When he saw them, he struggled to his feet and approached the cage door.
“Come to let me out?”
“You know we can’t do that, Vingalmo,” Serana told him.
He peered at the humans. “So you brought me lunch, then?”
“This is Rowan and Ben. I’m sure you remember them.”
Recognition dawned on his face. “Ah, yes, you wanted our vampire dust. What can I do for you now? Want my blood?”
“I’ll be glad to separate it from your body if you want,” Ben growled.
“There was a story you told a while back,” Orthjolf said. “You mentioned five or six unrelated items that a Daedric Prince combined to make one powerful weapon.”
“What about it?”
“It was cursed, yes?”
“Oh, yes. The Mantle of the Wight, cursed by Mephala. Why do you ask?”
“It seems there may be another one,” said Serana.
“Wouldn’t surprise me. Seems she creates a new collection once every two or three hundred years. She puts it together, curses it, spreads a few lies about it, and sits back to watch the carnage. I believe she finds human suffering very entertaining.”
“What happened to the Mantle of the Wight?” asked Ben.
Vingalmo shrugged. “The wielder was a king who used its power to lay waste to half of Valenwood, as I was told, and then he went incurably mad. It was never said what happened to the Mantle afterward. It just faded into oblivion, so to speak.”
Rowan looked up at her brother. “So what do we do?”
“We need to get a letter to Dolff. If we can leave Stormthorn where it is, all the better, but I don’t want to go all the way home and have to come all the way back.”
“And do what? Go into Coldharbour?”
“Gods, I hope not.”
“We can get a message to the jarl in a couple of days,” Serana told them.
“You can get a message to Windhelm in two days?” Ben asked incredulously. “How?”
Serana didn’t answer him. Instead, she said, “In the meantime, you’re welcome to stay here; or if you would rest easier, you can go back to Solitude.”
“Do you have a place for us to sleep?”
“Of course. Not all of us sleep in coffins. If you can get used to the vampires and their habits, the castle is actually quite comfortable.”
With a shrug, Rowan said, “As long as we can get a message to him quickly, we’ll wait it out.”
Orthjolf and Vingalmo rolled their eyes, but Serana grinned joyfully. “I’m so glad. And I’ll tell the vampires to behave themselves. No one will give you any trouble.” She turned to Vingalmo. “Thank you.”
“Whatever gets me out of here as soon as possible.”
* * *
5E 20, 28 Midyear
Coranil was frozen to the bone, having been pelted with snow and ice for the last several hours, and he was finding it increasingly harder to keep his mind on business. Before, he had always known what he had to do and had done it. But now, all he could think about was finishing the job and getting back to the warmth of Kaawenyth’s arms. He knew she was a distraction, and distractions would get you killed, but no power in Nirn or Aetherius would convince him to part with her. As he fingered the bite mark on his neck, which still hadn’t completely healed, he figured he couldn’t leave her if he wanted to. He would just have to train himself to force her to the back of his mind when there was work to be done. It was with great effort that he turned his thoughts to the College of Winterhold, which loomed before him.
He was coming to the college better informed than he had originally anticipated. A dubious-looking courier had arrived at the Palace of the Kings with a letter from Rowan not half an hour before Coranil had left for Winterhold. It said that one of the Volkihar vampires had taken Stormthorn to Coldharbour because its power had disturbed him. The same vampire had mentioned a collection similar to the Coat of Storms called the Mantle of the Wight, claiming it had been created by the Daedric Prince Mephala. Rowan and Ben were now awaiting word from Dolff on whether to enter Coldharbour and retrieve the sword or just leave it there out of reach. Hopefully, Coranil would bring good news home from the college.
He left his new horse at the town’s guard barracks and ascended the ramps to the college, finally meeting up with a mage in the central courtyard. She was a pretty Altmer with pinkish-red hair and sharp eyes, and she folded her arms and glared at him imperiously.
“The college is closed to visitors,” she told him. “The students are involved in final exams, and we cannot have strangers roaming about, providing distractions.”
“I am here at the behest of the Jarl of Windhelm. I have a letter announcing me, as well as a recommendation from Ben Stormblade, who is a member.”
“You know Ben? Hmm. Let me see what you have.”
Coranil retrieved the letters from his pack and handed them to the woman, who looked them over and then gave them back. “You’ll need to go to the Arcaneum. Speak with Urag. He should be able to help you.”
Although he knew very well how to get to the library, he asked, “And where will I find it?”
The mage pointed to the building behind her. “That’s the Hall of the Elements. Go inside and take the door to your right. The Arcaneum is upstairs. Just remember there are students in the hall, so please keep quiet.”
“I thank you.”
“When you see Ben, tell him Faralda said hello.”
“I shall do that.” Coranil made his way inside and up to the Arcaneum, where he found an old, white-haired orc sitting behind the desk. He walked up to the desk as the orc watched him with a grimace on his face. “Good afternoon.”
“Faralda directed me.” The orc didn’t get up from his seat, so Coranil walked around the desk and handed him Dolff and Ben’s letters. “Are you Urag? I am Coranil, and I hear you can assist me in my research.”
The librarian read the letters and looked up at him with what could have passed for a smile. “Sure, always glad to help. That’s what I’m here for, to help emissaries who come in to look at my books.” The words oozed sarcasm.
“I am searching for materials regarding a collection called the Coat of Storms, or anything similar. Possibly the Mantle of the Wight.”
“Coat of Storms, eh? Never heard of it. The Mantle of the Wight, however, I know well.” He got up, shuffled over to a nearby bookshelf, and retrieved a slim volume, which he handed to Coranil. “Can I assume the Coat of Storms is like the Mantle of the Wight? Several unrelated pieces coming together to form a powerful whole?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Then you want to stay as far away from it as possible. The Mantle was put together by the Daedric Prince Mephala, reportedly as a means of tormenting humans for her own enjoyment.”
“Do you know what happened to it?”
“It was destroyed.”
Urag’s eyes widened. “Are you telling me you already have this Coat of Storms?”
“We put the collection together after having received information that it was beneficial to the wielder. We have only recently learned we were misled.”
“Likely by Mephala herself. Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly how it was destroyed, except that it must have been some very powerful magic. And you have to have all the pieces, or the spell won’t work.”
“Are you certain about that?”
“Of course I’m certain. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have brought it up. The Mantle wasn’t the only collection like this. Mephala puts them together every so often, maybe when she’s bored, who knows? The only way to break the curse is to destroy the collection, and the only way to do that is to destroy all the pieces.”
“Blast,” he whispered with vexation.
“I take it you have some of the pieces but not all.”
“That is correct. The ones we possess have already begun to take their toll.”
“Wait, you’re here for the Jarl of Windhelm. Are you telling me High King Ulfric—that’s what killed him, wasn’t it? How much of the collection do you have?”
“All but one piece.”
“Well, you’d better find that last piece and destroy the collection as soon as you can. Because if only part of it killed the High King, and the pieces are still at the palace, your new jarl is in grave danger. Mephala thrives on human suffering, and I warn you, he will suffer.”
“Thank you, Urag.”
“Read over that book before you go, in case there’s anything I missed. And be careful with it!”
Coranil sat down and perused Urag’s book about the Mantle of the Wight, which mentioned that at least a dozen such ensembles had been created throughout the centuries. The pieces were harmless by themselves, or at least beneficial to the user. Often, even when they were brought together, they didn’t have any enhanced properties until they were used in conjunction with a catalyst, a certain artifact that bound them together and invoked the enchantment, like the Jagged Crown did with the Coat of Storms. It was originally thought that destroying the catalyst would work, but over time, it was discovered that once the pieces were brought together, the enchantment became permanent. Separating them would have no effect other than to spread the curse over several locations, and destroying only the catalyst had no effect whatsoever. The only way to break the curse was to destroy the entire collection, and all pieces must be present for it to work.
Unfortunately, any instructions on just how to destroy it were vague. It mentioned a few spells and incantations and suggested ways to combine spells, but there was nothing specific. It only said that the magic must be incredibly powerful, and the more pieces in the collection, the harder it would be to destroy.
With a heavy heart, Coranil took some notes, then returned the book to Urag. “If you learn anything new that might be helpful, please inform Jarl Dolff Stormcloak as soon as possible.”
“I’ll do some looking, see what I can turn up.”
“Again, thank you.”
Coranil stayed at the Frozen Hearth in town for the night and then set out for Windhelm the next morning, dread building in his heart with every beat if his horse’s hooves. He was not looking forward to telling Dolff he would have to send his lover and his best friend to Coldharbour.