20 -High Hrothgar

"Wait a moment," I said. "You mentioned talking to someone called 'Prizna', and it sounded like you were talking about a woman who used to belong to me. Does she have her own name now? I've got used to the mortals naming their women, but she was Dremora."

"Yes, didn't you know? Oh, no, I suppose you haven't been back to the Deadlands since all of that happened, have you? Of course it was a mortal that gave it to her, and she needed it because she was going to be living in Tamriel, where all the women have names."

"You'll be living in Tamriel, too, if I'm still stuck here. Did Dagon say if my exile is over?"

She shook her head. "No, he didn't tell me anything about that. I think he wants you to work that out for yourself. Maybe you have the choice of staying here or going back."

"And of course, I don't know Dagon's terms for my return, so I have no way of knowing if I want to do so. If it meant losing you, I wouldn't want it." I thought for a while. "And if I'm staying here, you'll need a name, won't you? Do you already have one?"

"No, and Dagon didn't say anything about one. Does that mean he doesn't expect me to stay here?"

"No, just that he wasn't telling you something that we have to work out for ourselves. I think you need a name, so we should choose one."

"I'm glad you said we should do it together. You've been here among the Nords long enough that you'd give me one of theirs. You know the kind I mean. Like Uthgerd the Unbroken, except that I'd probably end up as Jane the Jiggly, or something rude like that."

"Well, if I called you something as common as Jane, they'd have to explain which Jane they meant, and they'd add on whatever's memorable about you. But you need a proper Dremora name, which will avoid that problem."

"But there aren't any Dremora names for women," she reasonably pointed out.

"There are words in the ancient tongues that might be suitable," I countered. "What about 'Zahra', which means flower, or beautiful like a flower? Then you've got a name, and it already describes you."

She seemed to like that one, and I perhaps shouldn't have spoiled the mood by musing further. "Soft pink petals, overflowing with nectar ... why are you hitting me like that?"

This was the last thing I'd been waiting for: now I had my Daedric Armour, and she had a name, I could go and introduce us to the Greybeards. Of course, she wanted to know what she should wear. She didn't have any Daedric Armour, and we didn't have the materials to make her any.

"You're a mage, so wear mage clothes. Do you have something a bit more formal than your usual outfit?"

"You think that might be a bit too much for a bunch of old men?"

"Too little, maybe?"

She cast a small spell, and a black silk robe, trimmed in red, appeared around her. It covered her completely, but clung close to her curves.

"Is that warm enough for the top of a snow-covered mountain?"

"Of course. It's enchanted with frost resistance. They'll see that it's thin, and be able to work that out for themselves."

"And so, a Dragonborn appears at this moment in the turning of the age. I am Master Arngeir; I speak for the Greybeards."

"You call me Dragonborn, but how can a Kynaz, who was never born, be one?"

"Because that word is but a poor translation of 'Dovahkiin'. The Nords aquire their kinship through birth, which is why they use that term. Kin, Kyn, kiin - it is all the same word. You have a familial connection to the dragons, the same as you do to other Dremora."

"But what does that mean?"

"One aspect is that you learn the dragon language more easily than others. You have already learned 'Fus' and probably more. Let us taste of your voice."

I assumed that the old man knew what he was doing. I shouted "Fus" in his direction, and he staggered backward.

"It is true, then. You do have the power of the Voice. But it needs to be trained, if you would reach your full potential, and fulfill your destiny."

"What is my destiny?" I asked.

"That is for you to discover. We can show you the way, but not the destination. Master Einhart will teach you the next word of Unrelenting Force."

Another Greybeard stepped forward and spoke a single word "Ro". It didn't knock anyone around, perhaps because it was spoken alone, without the preceding "Fus". It did, however, cause a glowing word to appear on the floor, so I could read, as well as hear it.

Arngeir explained that it took them years of meditation to fully understand a word of power, but the Dovahkiin could learn one in moments, absorbing that knowledge from a dying dragon, as I had with Murmulnir.

I didn't have to kill any dragons to learn "Ro", as Einhart let me tap into his own knowledge of the word. It was much the same experience, and the understanding was just as complete.

They tested me further, creating phantom targets on which to use the greater two-word shout. When Arngeir deemed my progress enough, we went outside for the next stage. He wanted to see if I could learn a completely new shout.

Master Borri taught me the first word of Whirlwind Sprint, "Wuld", in much the same way as Einhart taught me "Ro". Then I had to demonstrate that shout, too. Finally, Arngeir sent me to collect the Horn of Jurgen WIndcaller from his tomb. I suspected that this would require me to use these shouts, in a practical trial of my ability.

"So, Zahra, what did you think of the Greybeards," I asked her.

"I prefer them to spiders, but they're still a bit creepy," she responded. "They way they look at you, but don't say anything, apart from that Arngeir."

"That reminds me of someone else," I pointed out. "And it's because their voices are too powerful, now. They don't want to blow us off the mountain."

"Where do we have to go to get this horn? I didn't recognise the name of the place."

"It's just a bit north of Morthal, and the vampires' lair we cleared out."

"The place where the guard said there were spiders out in the swamp?"

"Yes, but they wouldn't be any bigger then the ones you killed at Shor's Stone. It's too cold up there for the larger ones. What is your problem with spiders, anyway? You aren't afraid of anything else, even when you should be."

"It goes back a long way. I've always found the spider deadra a bit disgusting. When somebody told me about them sucking the insides out of their victims, and then putting on the skin if it was prettier than the one they had, it freaked me out completely. Especially as he implied I'd be a prime target for them."

"Well he was right about you being prettier than any of the spider daedra, but they don't actually feed like that. Or change their skin," I explained. "Real spiders, the ones here on Nirn, do feed that way, because they don't have any alternative. They don't have any way to bite, or chew. All they can do is stab with their fangs."

"Spider deadra just look like them, but they're not the same thing at all. They're not women, either," I continued. "And being ... cautious ... of spider deadra is just sensible. They're a mean and unpredictable lot at the best of times."

"You're making Nirn spiders sound worse than the deadra ones," she pointed out.

"They're less intelligent, can't do magic, and they don't like fire. What have you got to be afraid of?"

"Well, put like that, nothing but my own imagination. And I can get past it if I make myself angry enough. I just don't like them, and never will."