Sea of Ghosts: Battle, How could they?
I was woken by a loud knock on the cabin door. I delicately climbed over the still fast asleep Rigmor. I don’t think she is going to handle today very well. I tried convincing her not to board the Akaviri slaver boat but she insisted she wants to help the prisoners. I might try again later.
I opened the door a little and a crewman, I refuse to think of them as pirates, said, “Captain says the Akaviri ship is just ahead.”
OK, I’ll be out in a minute.
My brief look outside told me it was near midday. I thought we would have made the rendezvous point earlier and since when do I sleep in till noon? The answer to the second question was lying in bed.
I closed the door quietly and checked Rigmor. Fast asleep and oblivious. When we are not in danger and both enveloped in our quietness we sleep and recuperate. I believe I am in synch with my lady. I will sleep as long as she needs and give her that relief from destinies noise. I know that once we are back in Cyrodiil we will be swept along the current of our shared destiny with little pause and few quiet moments.
I exited the cabin and approached the bow were Casius and a crewman watched the Akaviri ship.
“There it is Dragonborn. The ‘Akavir’. It is not as big as I expected and I am betting you already killed half of them back on the island.”
(I looked but I am no expert on ships. It did look a bit top heavy and probably not as manoeuvrable as Casius’ ship.)
Your men will find the remainder bad enough Casius. We seem to be closing at a good rate. I will wait with Rigmor in the cabin.
As I headed for the cabin the Marines were ordered below deck so the ship appeared to be a normal trader. Other orders were rapidly given and followed. It was like a well-oiled machine and I was impressed.
I slowly shook Rigmor on the shoulder, “Wake up beautiful lady. We have caught up to the Akaviri ship.”
Rigmor quickly got herself ready and I asked, “Are you good to go?”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
Stick by me OK. I’ll draw their fire and keep them from draining you.
“OK, I have got your back.”
Rigmor, you don’t have to do this. You can stay in here till it is over.
“No. I am well enough to fight Dragonborn!”
And I suppose I can’t talk you out of entering the hold? I can take care of any survivors Rigmor.
“I need to help them. I need to see what evil we are facing.”
As always I respect your decision beloved.
“I know you are just looking out for me. I love you too.”
We heard the ships collide and the start of battle. We left the cabin with weapons drawn.
The boarding ramp was far less congested than the last battle and I was soon aboard the Akaviri ship with Rigmor following.
I saw their leader near the ship’s wheel. The remnants were getting peppered with arrows without much effect. I yelled, “You have to hack the bastards to bits. Your arrows are tickling them!”
I used Cyclone to lift those before us and we hacked them to death as they were still in the air or just landed. Their leader took no longer to kill than the others.
By the time we had cleared the stern the battle was over. I healed few injured, including Kales. I searched their leader and found some keys then headed for the cargo hold with Rigmor.
She turned to me and asked, “The Cyclone thingy. How far does it travel?”
Several hundred yards. It is fun against a mass of men charging at you. They fly into the air and any followers and I simply run in and chop them up as they land.
“Our enemy really have no idea how to handle you do they?”
I try not to give them time to think of a way. I run at them using different the spells and Shouts each time and they start to panic and that reduces losses on my side.
“I had to run to keep up and then you had killed most before I could get to them.”
That is what The Divine need me to do. That is what I need to do to protect you.
“It must be hard when others only see ‘Tamriel’s best killing machine’.”
I am what I am Rigmor. We are about to enter hell through this door. Just remember, I am with you and this is now, not years ago in the Thalmor Embassy.
“I’m ready Dragonborn.”
I said to Casius, “Rigmor is coming in with us. Stay with her as far back from the cages as you can. I will free the prisoners. If there is no room in there to treat them we will bring them out on deck.”
“OK but this will not be pleasant.”
I opened the door and the smell of piss, vomit, excrement, blood and decay enveloped me.
Then the pitiful cries of fear and horror drew my eyes to the poor wretches in the cages. Zan stood frozen and stared at the scene of horror.
They screamed. Some of them scrambled to the back of their cage and curled up into a ball. Like they wanted to be invisible. One, a Khajiit, shook his cage door and yelled, “Take Khajiit! He give you bad stomach. Lots of Skooma!”
Casius was just as disturbed as the rest of us but soon recovered and said aloud, “We are not the enemy. You have been rescued. Please come here when freed and we will administer an antidote for the sickness they gave you. My crew will bring fresh water and food for you soon. You will need to stay here in this holding space while the antidote does its job. Please try to remain calm. We will be travelling to Torval and safety shortly.”
Casius then ordered Zan to take the helm of the trader and Karles the helm of the Akaviri ship.
As I approached the cages I could hear Casius whispering to Rigmor. I wanted to go back and drag her out of this hellhole but she was determined to help these people.
… Dunmer, Khajiit…
… Food is food to these animals. Somehow I felt better that they were not targeting any particular race, ethnic or religious group. Non-discriminatory cannibalism.
Rigmor was handing out the antidote and speaking softly to those we rescued. They recognised a survivor and listened to her and grasped onto the hope and reassurance she also dispensed. I could not help but think, voluntary or not, she would be the Queen that Tamriel needs.
I talked to Casius, “I have spent years fighting and stopping evil that wants to hurt people like these. Normal people who have simple ambitions and pleasures. Morag and her puppet husband are troubling me more than any that came before. They have been doing this for years, decades even, and nobody has stopped them or even tried to. They trouble me more because Rigmor is with me and witnessing the evil as well.”
“Look at her Dragonborn. So much compassion yet she is a killer like you. You are a match and one we all need. You two are going to do the dirty work but come out the other end still caring. I have known many fine warriors who have lost their capacity to care. Their emotions stripped away by the brutality of war. Your love for each other is like armour against such.”
It is not just that Casius. Ragnar surrounded himself with leaders like himself. Soldiers who still cared for and enjoyed the normal things when the fighting is over. Soldiers like you. That would help to stay focused on the goal and not the killing. Rigmor is a product of Ragnar and Sigunn’s love and lessons taught by example. He must have been a mighty man Casius. I do not think I could wade through the blood and guts as long as he did and remain human.
“He was an incredible man Dragonborn.”
What do we do now Casius?
“We commandeer this ship and some of my crew will sail it to Torval. The rest of us will head straight for Dawnstar in the trader. Then I will make my way to Torval and hand all the evidence over to Baa’Ren-Dar. He will know what to do with it. Then I’ll travel to Anvil.”
I turned to Rigmor. She was looking pale. I said to her, “Come on Milady. You have done as much as you can for them.”
“But Dragonborn… these poor people.”
If you will not listen to the man who loves you then listen to your Guardian. These people are in good hands and food and water has just arrived. You do not look well and you need to rest. We will soon be in Dawnstar. It is not a short trek from there to Falkreath and then the border. Who knows what we will face when we get into Bruma. So please Countess, let us go rest for a while.
“OK, you’re right.”
We made our way to and entered the cabin and sat at the table. Rigmor said, “I can’t get the cries out of my head and I thought I had seen it all.”
We saved those people Rigmor. Let us concentrate on the good we just achieved and not the evil that put them there.
“I am trying Dragonborn but as soon as we entered it hit me. The fear! They thought we were them didn’t they? Thought we had come to take another poor bastard away. It must have been terrifying. Why, why would the Imperial Nave be supplying these monsters with… with…”
I reached over and held her hands and replied, “The only person of the Imperial navy on that ship was the captain. The crew were all New Imperial. Morag’s goons. We now have evidence of collusion and Casius will soon hand it over to Baa’Ren-Dar in Torval.
Morag was planning an Akaviri invasion of Tamriel. It must have been a backup plan in case this Bridge of Sighs thing doesn’t work for them. There would be no need of such an invasion if Molag Bal appears on Nirn. It would be all but over and if he did not destroy it and even Mundus we would all be cattle for his pets.
“And we blind-sided them just as you said.”
Yes but now there is another issue. If we do not stop Molag Bal then game over. We know that. But what if we do and Sethius is still in power? Morag will most likely die when we destroy the Bridge of Sighs leaving Sethius without direction. He could be unpredictable. Not only that, when Baa’Ren-Dar shows the Elder Council the evidence of collusion they will ask him to step down. If he doesn’t we will have a Tamriel wide civil war!
“Factions Tamriel wide, not just within Cyrodiil, who think they will get kickbacks will support Sethius. That could be enough to generate years of war.”
A Tamriel wide war for years with the Dominion waiting to sweep away the survivors.
“So you are saying that for the sake of the Empire we have no choice but to remove Sethius as soon as we can?”
We are already amassing a sizeable force. We will have momentum while he panics and tries to recover from the loss of Morag. The situation will be so dynamic that many of Cyrodiil’s Counts will be frozen by indecision.
“So who sits on the Ruby Throne Dragonborn and don’t you dare suggest for a second… “
They can’t force you Rigmor and I would not even suggest it. Let the Elder Council find somebody who wants it.
“I just want us to go home and live quietly and not be chasing monsters.”
You were so good with those poor people Rigmor. It was like watching my orphan children when a new child arrives. The empathy they show is astounding and the new child recognises kindred souls. They recognise others who have survived the dark and are still caring, loving individuals. You did not have to tell any of those people your story Rigmor. They knew you had survived the dark and took heart just by the fact you still cared.
Then I realised something and simply said, “Oh…!”
“What? Dragonborn you have gone pale. Dragonborn…”
I told you the children in the orphanages around Skyrim would leave at sixteen and unless they had family to go to they would be apprenticed or similar.
“Yes and that many of them were never heard of again. That you found evidence they were being sold to slavers.”
I thought they were forced into slavery or prostitution but what if…
“What if they were Morag’s slavers?”
You should see these wonderful, beautiful children Rigmor. They are full of life, wonder, creativity and love. Some of them have scars like you. Some have been raped and sodomised for years. Some have lived in the dark with the only light to shine on them being accompanied by further abuse. Some have simply lost their parents, like Sorella, and just need new love in their life. How can anybody harm them? How can anybody bring them up for years in an orphanage and not feel the slightest love for them? Just ship them off to slavers? How?
“We both need to rest Dragonborn. You know there is no answer to that question. Come to bed and cuddle me and let us gather our strength. We can at least stop Morag and I for one am quite happy to be Morag Sethius’ party pooper.”
“Pooper, yanno… poop… “
“Agh! Someone who takes a great big shit from a great big height on someone else’s happy day alright!?”
So you want to be a Minotaur?
“Hahahahaha! Come on my silly, daft and slightly whiffy Dragonborn.”
You warm the bed up, both sides, and I will be there after I do today’s journal.
“I will probably fall asleep before my head hits the pillow.”
I promise not to wake you. Unless you pinch the entire blanket again.
It was early evening. Way before we usually think of sleeping but as I wrote earlier, I am in synch with her needs and have no doubt will fall asleep as quick as she.
Rigmor had been so confident. After her breakdown at the ‘den’ she became more determined and sure of herself. A slight hiccup when I first mentioned Robere’s plan but apart from that she is totally different than when I first arrived in Bruma. I hope she keeps it up and does not revert to worrying about ‘what is expected’. Just be yourself Rigmor. They will see you exceed all expectations simply by being who you are.
Rigmor has just woken long enough to tell me to ‘stop writing in that fucking book and come to bed!’
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know I was freezing as somebody had claimed the whole blanket again.