It was his first visit to Solstheim after taking care of Miraak—not to mention other miscellaneous problems with the island largely populated by Dunmer, including the ash spawn threat (in multiple ways) and threats against the First Councilor’s life. He’d ultimately had to return to Skyrim to continue his quest to defeat Alduin and stop the end of the world, but, recently putting the dragon down once and for all, he had sought out new adventure. He knew he hadn’t explored everything Solstheim had to offer, and he wasn’t about to help Delphine and Esbern murder the only dragon that had helped him—and was continuing to help by pacifying the remaining dragons—so he recalled the old island and decided to return.
His name was Almorri. He was a High Elf mage, and had recently become the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold. He’d reformed the school in multiple ways, mostly in the form of leadership; basically, he kicked the Thalmor out and didn’t care how many agents they sent against a member of their own race. All of them fell to his Voice, and after the murder of the last Arch-Mage at the hands of the power-hungry Ancano, they were not getting back in to potentially endanger not only his life, but more importantly the lives of his students. All they wanted was information on what they were doing, anyway, which was knowledge he’d made available to the local Nords in an attempt to ease tensions between the College and the rest of Winterhold.
Almorri, of course, was well-versed in many forms of knowledge, being the head of the only school in all of Skyrim for those wishing to pursue studies in magic. He had mastered the highest level destruction spells, and continued to expand his wisdom in the other schools; another topic he had extensively studied and improved upon, being the Dragonborn, was his Voice. The only trouble with learning most of the shouts that Skyrim had to offer, with the help of the Greybeards and their leader, Paarthurnax, was that his Voice grew so powerful that he had difficulty speaking at a normal volume, much like Wulfgar, Borri, and Einarth. Unlike the three Greybeards, he could still whisper, but mostly refrained from it for fear that he may lose control; if he spoke at a normal volume he shook the foundation and rafters of buildings like his mentors.
He had remembered Solstheim after returning home to Whiterun, his first house, where he mused over the path he’d taken in life. He’d gone from a frightened refugee fleeing from his homeland to the mighty Dragonborn, savior of Tamriel. After Alduin’s defeat, he’d focused on his magic studies, and returned to the college, where he’d been learning spells at a slow pace thanks to his quests; now able to focus on his skills, he’d defeated Ancano, restored order to Winterhold, and reformed the college into an organized place of learning for all those wishing to excel in the schools of magic. Then he’d returned to Whiterun to visit, since he’d been in Winterhold for months, and discovered the treasure he’d left behind in his home. He was looking through old things when he found an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe he’d found while liberating Raven Rock’s mine, a quick quest to help an old man before he continued on his path to stop the First Dragonborn.
It was remembering his quests in Solstheim that he vowed to return, meet with old friends, and make new allies and adventures in his travels. He returned to Windhelm, where he’d helped solve a murder what felt like a lifetime ago, and paid Gjalund for passage. The trip was both as long and as calming as he remembered—of course, it was only calming because he had brought a few tomes along, and skimmed over the dusty old pages as the sailors worked, occasionally offering his help, though they would never take it. His coin was enough, they kept insisting, though he knew the true reason for their reluctance was his identity. He had saved all of Tamriel—who were they to make him do a lowly sailor’s work? In truth, he’d been asked far worse in his earlier life.
The arrival to Raven Rock brought a smile to his face. Thanks to the reopening of the mine, and the loss of the ash spawn threat, the town was bustling with work and commerce; dark elves ran to and fro, with successful businessmen and women selling wares and services alike on the clean streets: they had an excess of guards present for their protection and an inn with rooms available for rent and warm food and drink available for purchase. When he’d first arrived to investigate the cultists and their motives, the the town had been miserable, but since his intervention, it seemed the quality of life had improved so much that some elves from the Gray Quarter in Windhelm had even come to live there. He recognized multiple new buildings meant to house those that could afford it; his heart swelled with pride and joy.
Whenever the Northern Maiden came in, Adril Arano, the Second Councilor, came over to check whatever shipment of supplies had come in from Skyrim. Today, his brow was furrowed in concern.
“Gjalund, there was no shipment scheduled,” he said cautiously.
“Relax,” the Nord chuckled, “it should be a pleasant surprise.”
Almorri approached at that point, and delighted in seeing Arano’s face light-up upon seeing him. He crossed the dock in a few strides to clasp a firm handshake with the man who saved his best friend and his town, laughing.
“Dragonborn! I didn’t think we’d ever see you again. I heard of your victory over Alduin,” Arano spoke, “and I must admit, I expected no less of you.”
“Is that who I think it is?” came a second voice; Almorri grinned at the appearance of Veleth, who’d he’d saved from ash spawn and helped multiple times. “It is,” laughed the guard captain, marching over. To Almorri’s surprise, Veleth caught his old ally in a hug, which he graciously returned.
“Look at you,” Veleth chuckled as he pulled back, reaching up to rub at one of the gems of Almorri’s circlet, which he’d personally enchanted, “in your fancy robes. You upgraded them, huh? Figured it was a matter of time. You were deadly with those spells! Congratulations on controlling the lizard population, by the way.”
His comment earned a snort from Adril, and Almorri gasped in a silent laughter; it was with this that the two dark elves suddenly noticed his quiet and grew concerned.
“Serjo,” Adril murmured carefully, “are you alright?”
Almorri nods quickly before slipping a roll of parchment out of his robes; he’d written a letter at the first signs of the difficulty of controlling his Voice, and showed it to whomever displayed concern regarding the loss of his speaking voice. It read:
Do not be alarmed if I cannot speak to you. This is not the result of any injury; this is of my own doing. You know I am Dragonborn, and I have been studying the Thu’um; much like three of the Greybeards of High Hrothgar, I have simply learned so many Words of Power that my Voice has grown in power and volume, which, while giving me more strength, makes it harder to speak without Shouting. The more Dragon Shouts I learn, the more silent I become. Fear not; these are simply the consequences of my power.”
“Damn,” Veleth mumbled, looking up to the taller elf, “so you can’t talk because you’ll Shout us to pieces?”
Almorri nodded. Veleth whistled at the response. “Well, I don’t feel like being blown to Blacklight, so be as quiet as you need, sera.”
Almorri smiled at his friend and made a gesture towards the dock; the two dark elves parted to let him pass, and followed as he made his way to The Retching Netch.
“Let me know if you need anything, serjo,” Adril began as they parted, “it’s the least I can do.”
“Same goes for me,” Veleth confirms with a curt nod. Almorri smiled at both and gave a curt and respectful wave as they returned to their duties. Free from their companionship, he slipped into the inn and descended the stairs to the main bar, pleased with the business the establishment was receiving. Despite the influx of customers, of course, Geldis spotted him from across the room.
“You cheeky bastard,” the dark elf called, “are you just going to stand there without saying hello?”
Almorri silently laughed at the innkeeper’s tone and slipped through the crowd to join him. After another delightful bit of banter and a second flashing of the note—he was going to have to do that a lot, but at least he didn’t have to verbally repeat himself—Geldis pointed him in the direction of Teldryn’s room. Almorri wasn’t going to brave the wilds of Solstheim without his favorite dark elf companion, after all—though, to be fair, Teldryn was also one of his only dark elf companions, save for Brelyna back in Skyrim, but he would much rather have her focus on her studies than accompany him.
He creaked the door open to the room Geldis had pointed out to him, and heard him instinctively drawl “Teldryn Sero, at your service” before the mercenary actually turned to view the source of the intrusion.
“Almorri? I’ll be damned,” the companion gaped as he got to his feet, “where have you been? Oh, don’t answer, I already know—you’ve been murdering dragons without me!”
Almorri’s mouth moved in silent laughter; he’d be lying to himself if he didn’t think that he’d missed Teldryn’s sass. Now, the dark elf folded his arms, tapping his foot impatiently.
“I didn’t mean literally, you cow. Come on, say something.”
And so came the third flash of the note. Almorri watched Teldryn’s expression as he read over the parchment, realization dawning on his face.
“You lost your voice for power, you greedy bastard! How am I supposed to engage in witty banter with you? Do you expect me to speak for two people?”
You do that anyway, Almorri thought, snorting to himself. Teldryn scrunched up his nose indignantly at his patron.
“Fine, then. Just pay me and we can be on our way!”