I can bring her back, Tara.
Tara woke with a start.
Pale light shone through the window of her room. Dawn announcing another day without Katla.
I can bring her back.
What was that? Who was that?
Tara rubbed her eyes and tried to hold on to the fading dream.
First, there had been the premonition of Rigmor. She’d dreamt about Rigmor every night since Katla left. The premonition felt like a comfort. An old friend, greeting her nightly.
A destiny she was somehow headed towards. One she’d known about for over two years now, since her time with Freta.
I can bring her back to you.
After the premonition, she’d dreamed something else. Someone else.
She’d been running after Katla. In a dark forest. Running along a trail. Katla was up ahead, barely in sight. She’d sprinted to catch up.
Just as she’d reached her, been about to touch her shoulder…
Fire. She’d been enveloped in fire.
Another woman had stepped into view and whispered to her, “I can bring her back to you, Tara.”
Tara climbed out of bed, stretched, and shook her head, trying to remember more details.
What did the woman look like?
Shorter than Katla. Wearing…robes? Armor of some kind.
And her hair…nothing. Tara didn’t know. No facial features, either.
The dark forest in the dream. It could’ve been anywhere in Skyrim. Or Cyrodiil. Even High Rock.
Had it been The Great Forest?
Was this some other premonition?
After cleaning herself up, grabbing a quick bite in Windpeak Inn, Tara stepped outside and took in the sights of Dawnstar.
Morning mist hovered over the area. Buildings floated in and out of focus as the fog shifted its thickness. The sound of gentle waves from the port waters hitting the shoreline soothed her.
Dawnstar was a port town, Tara counted twenty ships and boats of various sizes docked in the bay. The smell of the sea dominated, the salt of the water and air cutting down on the lingering smell of freshly caught fish.
The town should’ve felt perfect. Maybe the rumors from the townsfolk were true. Maybe that’s why she’d had a strange dream. Maybe the place was haunted.
She’d gotten in yesterday afternoon. To say every citizen she’d met looked tired was an understatement. Collectively, everyone seemed to have nightmares and disturbed sleep.
Tara had shrugged it off, but…well, the forest dream might give truth to the rumors.
Fortunately, she wasn’t staying here another night. She needed some fresh supplies and could get on the road to Morthal, then, eventually, to Dragon Bridge.
If Katla wasn’t there, then on to Solitude. The road to Solitude went through Dragonbridge, unless Tara wanted to cross through the swamp and marshlands surrounding Morthal alone.
She did not. How long since she’d been alone on the road in Skyrim? She’d met Katla the day after she arrived. Within a few days, they were traveling together. And falling in love.
How was that less than two years ago?
Best to stick to the roads. Hit Dragonbridge first, then Solitude. Katla had to be in one of those towns. If not, then what?
She made her way to the apothecary shop, The Mortar and Pestle. The owner, Frida, was pleasant, and Tara stocked up on the various healing potions she had. Plus, a few cure disease ones. By giving up magic, and hope of gaining any more skill with restoration magic, she’d need to keep potions on hand, and work on her alchemy skills.
She stepped out of the store and put her hand up to shield her eyes from the now bright sunlight.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
“By Dibella!” Tara yelped. Her free hand flew to her axe before she realized the man who’d suddenly appeared in front of her was a courier.
Gods, how did they do that?
“I’ve got something I’m supposed to deliver,” the young man said. He rummaged around in his satchel. He looked road weary, his face and clothes covered in the dirt and grime of traveling.
“Ah, here we go,” he said. He smiled at her and handed over a letter. “Your hands only,” he added. “Oh, one more thing.” He dug around his satchel again. He pulled out and handed her a key. It was iron, richly carved. “It came with the letter.”
“Thank you,” Tara said. She gave him a few coins as a tip. Maybe he’d stop and take a bath at the inn and get himself a decent meal.
Tara looked down at the letter. The delicate writing on the front was Katla’s. Without thinking, Tara pressed the letter to her nose and inhaled. Did she catch a little of Katla’s scent, that blend of wood and leather that surrounded her? Tara decided she did. She stared at the key. Too big for a chest. Had to be a house key, or something significantly large. She put it in her pouch, where she kept all of Katla’s letters.
She’d already closed out her tab at the inn, given up the room. Where to read the letter?
Tara headed to the nearest empty dock and sat on its edge, letting her feet dangle deliciously close to the water. The tide was in, for her feet to be so close.
She opened the letter and read. At first, it looked like nonsense, jumbled letters that could be from an ancient, dead language.
Code. Katla had written in code. Of course. Tara closed her eyes and breathed in the salty air. The waves lapping the shore were louder here. A sweet lullaby she could listen to all day.
She’d memorized the code, reciting it quietly to herself every night. She opened her eyes and looked back at the letter. It made sense now.
The key unlocks a home for you.
Yes, I bought you a house.
Oh, to see the look on your face right now. If only I could be there when you arrive, but I won’t be.
By Talos, I miss you. Every night, when I lay my head down, I fall asleep remembering our first night together in my tent, up at High Hrothgar. Remembering your eyes when you first woke up that morning.
I love you.
The house is in Solitude. Above The Winking Skeever. Have you been to Solitude before? I guess not. The inn is near the gate into the city. Take stairs up to the city walls to get to the house. I hope you love it. You’ll be safe there. Tons of Imperials around. Did you know the army is stationed in Solitude? Things with the Stormcloaks are heating up. I think a full out war will break out soon.
I’ve not had trouble with any assassins, but I’m sure they, or at least spies, are around the city, looking for me. Stay alert. With us separate, though, you should be safe.
I’ve left it for you. I think you’ll figure out where it is in the house.
Keep it close. Please. I know it’s a burden to carry, and I’m sorry, but this feels right. Even if they do find me, I won’t have what they want.
Don’t try and find me.
Kill every necromancer you find.
I’m following some leads.
Write me when you’re home.
I love you,
Tara read the letter two more times. Tears rolled down her face slowly. They felt like a caress from Katla.
She’d bought her a house!
She was gone.
She’d left the red soul gem. Katla intended for them to stay separated for some time, if she was leaving it.
Tara put away the letter and stood. Time to go.
Nothing had changed. The road led to Dragonbridge, then Solitude. She’d stick with that path. Write Katla when she arrived in Solitude. Write Mira, too, so she knew where Tara was.
Search for clues to where Katla had gone, of course. She wasn’t giving up on finding her.
The sky stayed bright and cloudless as Tara made her way to Morthal.