Rowan, Ben, and Dolff had little trouble on the road north across Solstheim. Aside from a handful of ash hoppers and one insane mage babbling about learning to fly, they didn’t meet any hostiles on the trip. They arrived at the village after two nights on the road and approached a woman kneeling in the snow outside a cabin. She was in her mid-forties, with darkly tanned skin, golden hair, and piercing blue eyes.
Standing in the great hall of the Palace of the Kings with Rowan and Ben, Dolff gaped at his father in shock. Ulfric had aged fifteen years, practically overnight. His hair, which had been silvery and shiny, was now a dull, creamy white. His skin was ashen and grayish, and the lines and age spots on his face were much more pronounced. He had lost weight, and his flesh seemed hang off his bones. Even his eyes, which had always glimmered with spirit and intelligence, were milky and dim, peering back as if he didn’t recognize him. The Jagged Crown didn’t so much rest on his head as grip it in a stranglehold.
Selene spent the entire half-day trip to Raven Rock vomiting into the sea. When land appeared on the horizon, she thanked Kynareth for small favors, but just because they were near land didn’t mean they were stopping. They continued on for another hour past miles of ash-covered shoreline. To the south, the Red Mountain puffed away, continually spewing smoke and ash into the gray sky. Occasionally they saw creatures like none Selene had ever seen floating above the ground or water. They were the size of a house, covered with a something like a tortoise shell that came to a long point at the back, no visible heads, and six long, blue tentacles that hung toward the ground. They bobbed and drifted, thrumming softly like a heartbeat while their underside pulsed with light.