Bruma: Real and surreal battles.
I followed Rigmor out of the Castle and was full of trepidation.
We walked silently towards Captain Grimbold and my unease grew. There was something deeply troubling my beloved. I will have to wait for her to open up before I can help.
We stood on top of the ramparts and I studied the structures Robere’s men had constructed.
It was obvious they expected us to sally forth. They had two lines of archer walls and several towers. They expected any force we sent to travel up the road and come under withering bow fire from both sides of a break in their defences. Those that survived the initial rain of arrows would then be subjected to a solid wall of archers facing the break.
Sound tactics if only facing infantry but I was a mage and Dragonborn. There were several rock outcrops I could use as cover while I take out the archers on one side of the road with fireballs and be safe from those on the other. I could then pick off the archers on the other side with fireballs and be subjected to minimal exposure. I would clear the roadway so our forces could rush the break with minimal casualties. Then the close combat would start and my ability to inflict mass casualties reduced due to the risk of friendly fire. I would supplement our troops with a couple of Dragon Priests. They will draw fire away from our men whilst inflicting great damage. I am confident we will do enough that Yngol’s men would soon break through and Robere’s fate would be sealed. He will taste total and absolute defeat.
I approached Captain Grimbold and asked, “What can you tell me about the situation?”
“Well Sir, I have placed the garrison on high alert, placed sentries on both the gates and spread the men out on the East Wall. If they are going to attack this is where they will have to try and breach the city.”
We noticed enemy patrols on the Applewatch road. Milady Rigmor say they are there to cut off supplies from Skyrim.
“We are cut off not just from Skyrim Sir but the rest of Cyrodiil as well.”
How many are there?
“A few Sir. Leyawiin has sent most of his garrison and a company of New Imperial legionnaires. Robere himself commands the field.”
It sickens me to have bandit thugs call themselves legionnaires. I guarantee his garrison are far more effective fighters than that lot of clowns. As for Ser Robere, I have just looked at his deployment and it is full of flaws. He has read a “How to be a Soldier” book but has no idea. Has he read chapter two yet and sent a small force to test our defences?
“Not as yet Sir. They did send some range finders the other night and we returned fire. Since there was no follows up attack I am guessing they are waiting to get those trebuchets built.”
We forgot to remind you at the meeting Captain. As soon as Yngol begins his attack you are to have the Cathedral sound its bell. We want all non-combatants safely inside stone buildings.
“Your order will be carried out Sir.”
What troops have you been able to muster?
“All fighting age men have been called to arms. Women of age without children have been absorbed into the shield maidens.”
Are there any more we could possibly recruit Captain?
“As a matter of fact Sir there is. Perhaps you and the Countess could talk to the Fighters Guild. See if they want to blow the cobwebs off and fight.”
Who should we speak to?
“Ser Gregor has been asking about you Sir. He would be the man.”
Thank you Captain. Yngol would have been quite a few hours behind us so will not attack this morning but the next. I am about to send a signal to let him know Milady Rigmor and I are in the castle.
“Understood Sir and may I say it is a relief to see the Countess back and looking so well.”
Captain Grimbold stood stall and gave a formal military salute. I returned it and he continued his staring over the wall.
I stood a few feet away and fired there fireballs vertically up in one second intervals.
I turned to Rigmor and said, “The drinks and talk will have to wait. Let’s go see if we can recruit some old bones for Captain Grimbold.”
We made our way to the Fighters Guild and I hoped they were nothing like “The Companions.” Those glorified mercenaries that would not rescue their own mother from a bear attack unless she paid them upfront or agreed to an easy payment plan over 48 months. They did not even help in the Battle of Whiterun!
We entered and so started a lengthy conversation.
- Ser Gregor: Countess, it’s an honour to receive you here at the Guild. Please let me introduce myself. I am Ser Gregor and spokesperson for the knights in residence here. How can we be of service?”
- Rigmor: Well met Ser Gregor. As you know our city is under siege. The Dragonborn and I are here to ask you, all of you, for your help in the battle that is to come.
- Ser Gregor: As you know, the Guild is nowadays a refuge for homeless veterans and Lordless wanderers. Some of us here consider ourselves ‘retired’ and although well mastered in the art of combat, might be a little rusty, and wary to run headlong into battle. Especially against such odds.
- Tish: I like those odds.
- Ser Gregor: Thank you Tish.
(Tish was wearing the armour of The Blades and carrying one of their standard issue Katana. She was an Orsimer of unknown years and even sitting down showed the grace of a warrior. She would scare the shit out of Bobby’s boys as she carved a bloody swathe through their ranks.)
- Rigmor: Dragonborn?
I addressed Ser Gregor.
- Wulf: There are many veterans of more advanced age already armed and prepared to fight beside Milady Rigmor’s side. You must have heard of her heroic deeds during the Battle for Whiterun. She led the famous ‘Sons of Talos’ that day and I have never seen a more glorious site than your Princess sitting upright astride Ben, her most valiant steed. The enemies’ balls shrivelled up and tried to hide when their owners saw their death approaching in the form of a Warmaiden of old. We defeated a force many times our own number that day Ser Gregor. In the upcoming battle the odds are smaller. We also have help arriving who will smash into their flank and make the milk drinkers cry for their mothers.
- Ser Gregor: So a simultaneous strike. The flank is attacked and we sally forth?
- Wulf: That is the plan and I do not expect those bandits in fancy dress will be much of a challenge to Yngol Storm-Blade and his veterans.
- Ser Gregor: Aha! I know of this man. A formidable field commander.
- Wulf: Do you think these vermin are a match for the man who defeated Alduin in the hallowed grounds of Sovngarde itself?
- Ser Gregor: Well, no now you come to mention it.
- Wulf: Even if you only buffed your armour and shined your boots and stood growling you would give the people hope.
- Ser Gregor: Hope?
- Rigmor: The citizens, all none combatants and children, would be sheltered in the Cathedral once the bells toll. That is the signal that Yngol has arrived and begun his attack. We hope that will give them sanctuary and safety before the battle begins. We also pray to the God the enemy does not fire their trebuchets on all gathered there.
- Wulf: So do I Milady but remember the slaughter they inflicted upon the previous Count and citizens of the home they have stolen like the common, murderous bandits they are? Unarmed men, women and children killed in such numbers even the Gods wept.
- Rigmor: Yes Dragonborn, they must one day atone for that travesty. Ser Gregor, the mustering point will be at the main gate.
- Ser Gregor: How thoughtless of me. Please join us at our table. Let us introduce ourselves. Help yourselves to refreshment. We brew our own wine. Please try some.
(Rigmor and I sat at the table. When I looked her way she rolled her eyes at me. What? Once a bard always a bard. I don’t think I overdid it. Well, maybe a little.)
- Ser Gregor: I am from the West Weald initially. My father owned one of the largest vineyards South of Skingrad. His father before him was one of the last Knights of The Nine. I entered the service of the Count of Chorrol after Lady Anna or Skingrad married Chorrol’s eldest son. When Ariel Sethius marched his army towards the Imperial City after the sacking of Leyawiin, Skingrad and Chorrol marched down the Green Road to join with Bravil’s forces who were waiting for Sethius at Fort Nomore. It was a brilliant strategic position as we also held the bridge on the West side of the Niben Bay to the Citadel. Sethius made camp below us and for two days there was a stalemate and we prepared for a decisive battle. The next morning they were gone. Sethius had taken his army into Elsweyr and went around us. By the time we had marched back to Bravil, the Imperial City was lost. Skingrad and Bravil wanted to push onwards, but Chorrol abstained. He wanted to protect his wealth and assets and with Cheydinhal struck a deal with Sethius. I could not continue in his service, it was a matter of honour. I had heard that Bruma was still holding out and had declared itself a free city. So I made my way here. Sadly the old Guild had long been boarded up, the Mages Guild too. After an audience with Lady Sigunn she allowed me to reopen the Guild as a hostel, or ‘free house’ from veterans and Lordless Knights. Anyway, enough about me, let me introduce you to the members…
(Rigmor nudged me in the ribs gently. Then a bit harder. Then really hard and I finally woke.)
- Ser Gregor: Ahem….
- Wulf: Sorry, um, you were saying something about being born in the West Weald. Oh, I remember. They fought no more at Fort Nomore! Hahaha!
- Rigmor: Please forgive the Dragonborn. He recently fell off his own ego and damaged his brain.
- Wulf: Hey… not fare!
- Amon: I am Amon Vynar, Knight and former servant of the Lord of Rihad who died during the ‘March of Thirst’ after the city fell to Arannelya. I spent many years wandering the land for coin for my services. I finally retired here in Bruma as it would be dishonourable for me to return home.
- Ser Gregor: And this is our newest Member, Tish the Blade.
- Tish: I’ll fight. I was born to fight. Just point me in their direction.
- Ser Gregor: Thank you Tish but you know the rules. All members must agree.
- Tish: Gah! By the time you came to some agreement, the fuckers will be inside our walls already. You have my sword Countess Rigmor for having the balls to stand and fight. It would be an honour to fight under your banner. Won’t it B, yeah, harghhh!
- Bercilak: Grrrrr!
- Tish: Kill B, kill!
- Bercilak: ROARRRRRRR!
(B or Bercilak or whatever he is stood and started smashing things with his two handed hammer.)
- Tish: HAHAHA! GO ON B! KILL KILL!
- Bercilak: BEE KILL!!! Hrarghhhhh!!! Hrarghhhhh!!! Grrr!
- Tish: Hahahaha! I fucking love that guy!
- Ser Gregor: You’ll have our answer by tomorrow.
Rigmor and I left the Guild.
Rigmor asked, “Dragonborn, what the fuck just happened in there?”
I don’t know but if Robere has any inanimate objects in his army they had better start running before ‘B’ slaughters them all! I think they will fight. Let’s go tell Captain Grimbold we spoke to them and then we can have a beer and chinwag.
I really could not get into a light mood despite my jesting. My beloved was not right and I was worried.
I climbed up to ramparts to talk to Captain Grimwold. I said, “We spoke to the Fighters Guild. I think they will fight for their city Captain.”
“That is good Sir but can’t you feel it?”
Feel what Captain?
“I’m not sure Sir. The fog is closing in and I got a funny feeling something is about to… “
There was an almighty crash as the gate splintered. New Empire troops came pouring in.
Rigmor and I leapt down from the ramparts and found Trish and B had joined with the Bruma Guards to defend the breach.
There were missiles from a catapult landing randomly in the city so I left the skirmish and headed outside.
I threw some fireballs at the catapult and soon put it out of action.
The survivors of its crew charged at me and died before even getting half way.
The skirmish at the gate was finished and we mopped up some other enemy troops in quick time.
Leyawiin’s troops were no match and their dead were sprawled out for Robere to see.
I used my Thu’um and yelled, “HEY BOBBY! HAD ENOUGH PLAYING SOLDIER YET? FAKE NOBLE. FAKE SOLDIER. ARE YOU READY TO DIE? I WILL BE LOOKING FOR YOU ON THE BATTLEFIELD. FUCKING LOSER!”
That got a cheer from some of the Bruma garrison!
The gates were heavily damaged; a few fires were still burning and corpses littered the ground.
I saw Captain Grimwold. I approached him and said, “Captain Grimbold. The garrison and volunteers fought bravely. Tell them Countess Rigmor and General Wulf are pleased.”
“Will do Sir. Gave them a thrashing eh Sir?”
That we did. What is the situation?
“The gate is damaged but nothing we can’t fix. A couple dead and they were victims of the initial catapult attack on the gate. I don’t think we even got a scratch in the melees. Thanks the God we managed to repel their attack.”
Thank the men Captain. The Gods were too busy fucking up Milady’s life to participate in the battle.
“If you say so Sir. I had heard of our Countess’ prowess in battle but to witness it… I am at a loss Sir.”
Countess Rigmor is amazing at many thing but yes, seeing her wield that hand and half sword like it was made of wood is an unforgettable sight.
“Ser Robere now knows you and the Countess are back. I bet that was a surprise. He probably shat his britches Sir.”
Yes. He was just testing our defences and did not expect us to wipe out his force so quickly. I put that damned catapult out of business within seconds of its opening volley. He will be out of his depth Captain. He will not change his already flawed fight plans. If I was him I would go crying home to father and ask to get reassigned to the kitchen.
“I had better organise this lot Sir. I hardly ever get to be Sergeant so this will be fun.”
Also inform Lady Sigunn at your earliest convenience of what has occurred and assure her all is well.
“It will be done Sir.”
Captain Grimwold then started issuing orders like he was three sergeants in one body.
I saw Rigmor talking to Tish and walked over.
Rigmor said to Tish, “Thank you for helping us out. It looks like you enjoyed the fighting.”
“You bet girly! I haven’t had so much fun since a guy broke a bottle over B’s head in a bar fight North of the border.”
Rigmor asked, “What the hell happened?”
“Me and B had been dungeon crawling, looking for Dwemer treasure. Man, we could hardly carry it all. So we sold most of it in Whiterun and headed for the Bannered Mare. Thought it would be safe seein’ Whiterun is full of sweets. A local was telling me about an incident where the Dragonborn and his lady friend got kicked out of the pub after she threatened to shove the bard’s flute up his chute. The thing was the Dragonborn was the Thane. Some poor Guardsman almost pissed himself after he told them to scram and then realised who he was speaking to. We had a good laugh and then Bee was so shit faced he dropped his sack of gold on the floor. Its side split and some coins spilled out. As he bent down to gather his gold some arsehole hit him over the head with a heavy wine bottle. Man…boy oh boy!”
Rigmor gasped, “You didn’t kill them all?”
“Don’t get me wrong. B’s a crazy fuck but kill, no. Let’s just say we won’t be going back there anytime soon.”
Rigmor said, “I feel better about the upcoming battle. With the Guild on our side, how could we possibly lose?”
“We’re gonna take the vote later but hey, you didn’t do too bad yourself. If we do win it’ll be because of this guy hey Dragonborn?”
(I would have loved to talk to Tish. Ask her if she knew of the surviving Blades in Skyrim and the temple but I really wanted to see what was bugging Rigmor. So I just did a nod of my head.)
Rigmor asked, “The Dragonborn and I are gonna grab a beer. You wanna join us?”
“Agh, I can’t, I got go take care of B but sure, another time.”
As Tish wandered off I looked at Rigmor and melancholy stared straight back. With some hope of igniting some enthusiasm I said brightly, “Come on Princess, I could murder a beer right now!”
I got a monotone reply, “OK. Let’s go.”
We entered the Tap&Tack and Colin greeted Rigmor, “Milady, over here.”
“Hey Colin, don’t worry, I’m not here to cause any trouble.
Colin said, “We heard all about the trial.”
He then said to me, “I see you have found Rigmor and brought her home friend.”
Rigmor replied, “This is the… er, my Guardian… my knight in shining armour.”
“Well this is a cause for celebration. Go sit down and I’ll bring some drinks over on the house.”
Rigmor replied, “Thanks Colin, come on Dragonborn, let’s sit over there.”
We sat at the corner table and I said, “You mentioned you wanted to get ‘some things’ off you chest.”
“Yanno, there has to be another way… “
Another way to do what?
“All this prophecy crap! The ‘Chosen Queen of Tamriel’. I mean come on Dragonborn, I’m not even Imperial, both my parents were full blooded Nord’s. Do you think the nobility would even consider it?”
Not a single Dragonborn in history has their parentage recorded in any book yet they were accepted as Emperors. Reman Cyrodiil was supposed to have been fathered by King Hrol who fucked a hole in the side of a hill thinking it was my mother! There has been an Akaviri Emperor. I could lay claim to it and I am half Nedic and half Atmoran! There has even been a Minotaur Emperor! By the laws of the land you are entitled to be Empress. If prophecy wants to call it Queen then so what. The Nobility have no say Rigmor. It is not an elected position.
“Now we face unsurmountable odds… again.”
What did we do against those ‘insurmountable odds’ last time? We routed them and slaughtered them! Nothing is insurmountable about what we face here. If we win the battle of Bruma against Robere we have taken the head of the serpent.
“But this isn’t a serpent, it’s a monster. Born of a monster. Even if we can defeat her there’s still Sethius, his Leyawiin backed army. Six legion’s Dragonborn not forgetting Blackwell’s grip on the Nobility. They fear him and not without good reason.”
How do you think Morag stacks up against Alduin? Against Miraak, the other Dragonborn I killed? Against ‘The New Order’ and Malacath? She is nothing compared to the two most powerful Vampires that have ever existed that I faced and defeated. She is the weakest ‘monster’ I have had to face Rigmor.
Sethius is a bandit king who could only muster two hundred men until Morag joined him. He has not been making the decisions. He has no council to advise him once we kill Morag. He will flounder like a fish out of water.
As for the Six Legions. You saw how pathetic the New Empire troops were this morning. They are bandits of no higher fighting or military ability than the common thugs they are. They have no great military leadership. We have some of the finest fighting men in the Imperial Army led by Casius and Quintus. Do you forget your Father’s legacy? He routed the enemy on many occasions when outnumbered by similar odds.
You give Blackwell way too much credit. He could do nothing when he thought we had allied with Leyawiin. He could have done nothing if you had refused to sign the Decree. He is ruthless and may get away with low key breaches of the law but he is just one man constrained by the laws of the land to a great extent.
“Well remind me not to run my sword through his guts, because if I ever get a chance… “
Blackwell is not the real enemy here and he is rather fond of you. You are the legitimate heir to the throne and he knows it. If Sethius had an ‘accident’ Blackwell would name you Empress. Of that I have no doubt.
“Blackwell likes me? Yeah right.”
He could be a powerful friend if you ever…
“Uhuh! Not gonna happen. I know what you are suggesting. I could never be that person… I… just don’t have what it takes.”
You are capable of compromise to secure the welfare of normal citizens. You were willing to give up the Free City status of Bruma for instance. You are capable of playing their games. i.e. telling Robere you would marry him knowing full well you had no intention. You are more than capable of dealing with the enemy and those you may detest and play the political game for the good of your people.
“No. The Gods are just going to have to come up with plan B.”
We discussed over a meal what each of us would do if we were Emperor or Queen. You came up with many fantastic law and social reform ideas. Things that would help the commoners and not enrich the nobles. Maybe a Rigmor on the throne is what it would take for a new golden era of peace and prosperity.
“That is not fair Dragonborn. I only want to do what’s right for Cyrodiil. Kill that monster because Sethius is not the problem here. He is just another pawn, another fool in the big scheme of things. I’m quite happy to do a deal if the opportunity arises so we can all just go back to normal.”
So now you are saying you can be that person. Negotiate with the detestable. I have said I want to kill him but I would only do so if the normal people I have gone out of my way to protect would not be harmed. What about the evidence of collusion. If the Elder Council declared him unfit and asked for him to vacate what then? I have no idea what normal is going to be. Do you? If you think Sethius is under some sort of spell who else are you going to pardon? Those troops who killed and raped children at the border post? The ones who slaughtered half the population of Leyawiin? The Captain and crew of the Imperial Naval festival delivering Tamriel citizens to the Akaviri for dinner? The man who you found out, without me saying a word, wanted to marry you just to get his hands on Bruma?
“Maybe he is under her spell, like all of them. I know Bobby, he is not a bad person… no really.”
Miraak was a Dragonborn. To control the minds of the citizens of Solstheim he had to have a huge amount of infrastructure in place. Even then he could not have controlled citizens acting like normal people. I am telling you as a Master Mage that Morag can’t control that number of people. I am telling you I know for a fact that Robere is rotten to the core.
“How do you know? You have only been here five minutes! I have known Bobby for over a year now. He has always shown me respect and listened to my ramblings with good heart and kindness. No, I am sure that bitch made it sound worse than it is.”
How do I know? I would be well and truly dead by now if I could not smell a rat. You think you knew Robere? It is obvious you did not! Why was the aborted meeting to sign the Decree the first time you ever met his father? I heard his father’s thoughts about you. To him you are common Nord stock and way below the level of nobility Robere should be aiming for. Did Robere ever tell you how many people he robbed, raped and killed for the decade or so he was a common bandit? Or did he not participate in what the other thousands of bandits around him were doing? Did he help slaughter the Count and family and half the population of the place he now calls home? He led me into a trap. He spoke to Morag so I could hear their plan as he thought I could not rescue you. He was going to force you to marry him. Who could have stopped them all the way out at Roscrea especially if the Emperor signed the papers and made it official. Morag was going to kill you after so Robere, the poor widower, could marry somebody more suitable. Then when he was gone from the room she told me she would kill him slowly for the disgusting and venomous things he said about you.
“What… what did he say about me?”
No Rigmor. To tell you is to hurt you. Can’t you just take my word for it?
“Dragonborn tell me… tell me what he said!”
I can’t. You do not need to hear the foulness spoken with all the spite and hatred Robere could muster. It will not change the facts. It will just hurt you. No Rigmor, no. Just go on thinking he is under her control. Please.
“Dragonborn, tell me what he said!”
(What do I do? She will not move forward and will be fixated on this one issue. I can’t lie to her. Never again will I lie to her! May The Divine forgive me. Rigmor needs to face the truth.)
Look at my face Rigmor. If you turn away I will stop and never start again. I will keep my tone neutral and I will not inject the venom into my voice that he used. Here are his exact words, “I’m sorry Guardian, I truly am but it is nothing personal. I hope you appreciate that? You gotta look after number one right? I only want Bruma County, nothing more. Rigmor means nothing to me and she never has. Used to get right up my nose. She would just never shut up. The amount of shit I had to listen to! She would just go on and on. Did she used to do that with you? Yes of course I am sure she did. Haha, and I’ll bet you felt the same as me, yes, she would ramble on and on and I would smile and feign interest…
(Tears were rolling down my cheeks. Rigmor was stony faced.)
… When all I really wanted to do was punch her in that fucking mouth. It took everything in me not to stuff her fucking mouth with my fist. She always was a whiny little cunt. I am sure you will agree.”
(You make choices all the time Wulf. Get one wrong and the world ends. Did you get this one right?)
“Oh the Gods, no! I can’t believe he would say that. Why would he say that?”
Come on Rigmor. You figured out all by yourself he was only after Bruma. He was playing the game and you know people die because of it. They think it is OK because it is so much more civilised than stabbing somebody in the stomach with your sword. You were an ends to a mean. You were to die. Just like Kintyra II. A victim of their civilised game.
“Why would you even tell me that?”
I want to protect you. I can’t do that if you don’t face the harsh reality of who the enemy is and what they are capable of. You demanded to know. You gave me no choice!
“I thought of all people you would have some moral integrity.”
Show me when I haven’t Rigmor. Just once! Take as long as you like.
“You know what Dragonborn… didn’t anybody ever tell you some things are better left unsaid? You of all people should know that.”
I don’t understand Rigmor. What happened to all the love we have discovered and shared when travelling together? Are the long and beautiful discussions we had about our shared destiny to be forgotten because you can’t face the reality of who Robere is? Why all of this Rigmor?
“Because I know Bobby would never say that!”
If you are scared or worried or confused or just angry. Shout at me. Scream at me. Hit me. Get it out of your system. I am so sorry Rigmor but the reality is what I said. The reality is just outside your walls with an army to knock down your gates and slaughter your soldiers and any civilians that cross their path. Robere has trebuchets. You don’t aim them Rigmor. He will order rocks or piles of wood covered in burning oil be loaded in them. He will order them to fling the rocks and burning wood high into the air and over your walls to land randomly on houses, shops and people. If he is lucky he will hit the Cathedral where all your non-combatants are hiding and screaming with terror and huddling over the equally terrified children. The roof will come crashing down and fire will engulf the innocent and they will all say as they die, ‘Couldn’t have been Bobby. Our Countess says he is a nice guy!’ Prophecy and the plans of the Gods mean nothing right now Rigmor, Countess of Bruma. Your feelings about Robere must be put in the background and dealt with later. He is the enemy and your citizens are relying on you.
“I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to feel! I don’t even know if you will always be around. Sometimes I’m so scared to love you. I’m so scared that I am going to lose you. I don’t know what to think anymore. All I know right now is I have to endure all this… this fucking shit that’s been thrust upon me. I don’t think I can take it anymore. I am at a breaking point Dragonborn. I don’t have what it takes!”
Look at me my beloved.
“No! I don’t want to look at you!”
Look into my eyes Rigmor and tell me if I would ever leave you. Remember who I am and what you mean to me.
“Aaaah! I’m sorry.”
No Rigmor. You have nothing to say sorry for. We have worked through such doubts before. It is understandable. You never have to save sorry to me ever. Understand?
(Rigmor needed time to think and calm down. We hadn’t even touched the beers now lukewarm on the table. I decided to give her a few seconds at least to compose herself. I know I am going to suffer for what I have needed to do. Undeserved guilt will plague me.)
Rigmor I am here for you and I am not going away even if you throw things at me and say, “Shoo!” Stay seated and I will get us some cold beer.
I walked up to the bar and said, “Hey Colin.”
“Is everything alright? Is Milady Rigmor unwell?”
You have known her since she was a little girl Colin. She just wants to be that happy again but she has to endure so much it is a struggle. She will pull through though for the people she loves. She is their Princess.
“I hope so Drag… I mean Guardian.”
Haha. Could you please bring us over a couple of cold beers Colin.
“Coming right up.”
(I sat back down at the table and the warning signs were there. Rigmor was far deeper into the doldrums than a minute ago. I had to tread carefully.)
I cheerfully said, “Hey! Drink up. I got some more coming. Might make you feel better.”
“Nah…I don’t feel like it.”
(Colin arrived with the beers, looked at Rigmor and wisely went back behind his bar.)
This was a bit like at the den. The pressure is getting to you Rigmor and I am worried for you.
“Yeah… Story of my fucking life, not that I have any say in it.“
But you do Rigmor. You accomplish what you want within the boundaries of your destiny. We discussed this several times on our travels and you were so enthusiastic at the possibilities. It seems that coming back here has turned back the clock. The confident, happy and determined Rigmor seems to have vanished once we left those ruins.
“What? What do you want me to say? That I don’t already know that I’m unstable? Bobby had it right. I’m hard work. Well carrying the fate of the world on your shoulders is hard work.”
I know Rigmor. I have been doing it 24 hours per day, seven days per week since I awoke in that carriage. I know what you are feeling. Let me help you with your burden.
“It is just pity? You pity me and that is why you stay around.”
I believe we had this discussion a few minutes ago. Do you want to go through the whole, ‘Stare into my eyes.’ routine again?
“You say you do but really, you do not know what it is like.”
Then please tell me Rigmor. Let me know so I can help you.
“Like you even care?”
(I am far from perfect. I do not have unlimited patience and my reserves just ran dry. Rigmor is drowning in self-pity and although understandable, it is no longer acceptable. People are relying on her being the woman who entered those Ayleid ruins with me. Not this. Years ago we agreed it was not worth fighting our destinies. Now we have one entwined destiny and Rigmor needs to help us survive to its conclusion.)
You know what my beloved, I do pity you. I pity you for the burden bestowed on you. I certainly wouldn’t care for it.
And I’m sorry for you, sorry your childhood was ripped apart, sorry for the cruelty you’ve suffered.
Sorry they scarred you, sorry you have to lie on your side when sleeping and sorry that you will never lead a normal life.
Sorry for all the times I say I love you which seems to go in one ear and out the other.
Do I even care?
“No, didn’t mean it… “
I would carry your burdens and you scars in a heartbeat if I could, without even a second thought… gladly.
I would soak up your pain… and your rage, your darkest moments and your tears as a sponge does water.
And I will cleave flesh and bone, and rend asunder all who would harm you. And turn rivers red with their blood.
Your burdens are now my burdens, you scars are now my scars, your tears are my tears, and your rage is now my rage.
And they shall come to know your pain, and they shall come to know your rage, your suffering will become their suffering
“Dragonborn, I’m so sorry… forgive me.”
And they shall come to know your name and tremble, be it God, Demons or Kings. The Dragonborn comes!
So say I, Wulf Septim, Champion of the Divines and Guardian of Princess Rigmor, Countess of Bruma and my beloved for now and for eternity.
“What have I done to you?”
You have done nothing to me Rigmor. This is how it has always been. You just needed me to spell it out for you. Come my Princess. Let me take you home.
We left the tavern in silence. We walked to Rigmor’s apartment in silence. We entered in silence.
Then Rigmor ran downstairs and threw herself on her bed and sobbed and I sat in a chair a floor away and sobbed just as hard.
After a while Rigmor stopped crying and when I opened my reddened eyes I was at the gates of Bruma.
I was ready to sally forth and deal with Bobby’s army.
The town bells were ringing and children were crying as they were hurriedly dragged to the ‘safety’ of the Cathedral. Beside me was Tolfdir and the other 5 Master Mages of the College of Winterhold. Several promising students were also present. In all there were twelve of the most powerful mages in Tamriel.
I called Odahviing. I called Durnehviir. I called two Dragon Priests. I enveloped myself with Dragon Aspect.
The horns blared and the slaughter began.
Bobby’s wooden palisades disintegrated when hit by dozens of fireballs from the mages and Dragonfire from above. Dozens of voices shouted out in momentary terror and pain before the flames and death consumed them.
I laughed loud and used my Thu’um and shouted, “BOBBY. I AM COMING TO GET YOU BOBBY. JUST AS I PROMISED WHEN I GAVE YOU THAT HEAD START IN THE LABYRINTH. YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE WASTED IT BOBBY.”
Then my housecarls and Meeko and two Dremora from each mage rushed though the gap in the burning palisades to start the systematic slaughter of the outclassed Leyawiin guards and the pathetic New Imperials.
The mages moved slower and picked off any survivors of the original barrage and destroyed the catapults and trebuchets and any towers.
As I approached the gap I looked to my left and there was a fairly large skirmish of Bruma Guards, Leyawiin Guards, New Imperials and Yngol’s men. It was chaos with weapons swinging and cries of pain and death.
My beloved Rigmor was running towards that conflict and the danger was too high. Without a second thought I sent a Cyclone towards the centre of the melee. Dozens were dragged high into the air only to come crashing down in a pile. Many did not survive but there were still too many for my Rigmor to be safe. So I called a storm that hovered over the centre of the mass of dead and dying and those trying to stand to fight or flee. Lighting struck again and again and Rigmor stood at a safe distance and watched any movement slowly diminish till there was no sign of life.
Durnehviir hovered overhead and said there were many enemy running away in different directions. I asked him if he and Odahviing might be hungry. He also laughed and called his fellow Dovah to enjoy a rare meal.
A young mage ran up to me and said Meeko had found his target. I ran quickly to what appeared to be a command tent and on the ground was Bobby with Meeko pinning him down.
“Hello Bobby have you met Meeko? Of course you have, he has his mouth around your throat. Let him go Meeko, he is not much of a threat.”
Bobby stood and started raving about how he was a noble and we were all barbarians and how we would not dare kill him and then he mouthed off about Rigmor and called her fairly nasty names.
I smashed my mailed fist into his mouth and his jaw shattered and his teeth splintered and he started coughing up blood. I quickly healed him.
I said to Meeko, “We can’t have a noble die like that on us can we boy?”
I thought so too.
I healed Bobby who showed no gratitude at all. Ignorant bastard.
I lifted Bobby up by the collar of his very expensive looking toy soldier outfit. I laughed when I saw the insignia of a general on it. The battlefield was deadly quiet and the only noise was the fires consuming Bobby’s engines of war and the occasional cry of a fleeing soldier as a Dovah ended their life.
I was nose to nose with Bobby which meant his feet were nearly two feet off the ground.
I said, “Well Bobby, your second battle lasted barely longer than your first. Oh, did you like my experiment? Now I know you can shove your fucking fist down somebodies throat. Mmm, I am in a dilemma what to do with you.”
“You can’t kill me. I am a noble. The others will not stand for it!”
Now Bobby don’t lie. You are not a noble! Rigmor is as she is directly descended from Emperor Mede I. Me, I am a Septim so that makes me even nobler than Royal Princess Rigmor. You are right though. It would be very naughty of me to kill a fellow noble. But you are not a noble, you are a rabid dog born in some stables and under the delusion he is a thoroughbred. Meeko, take care of this rabid dog will you.
I dropped Bobby and stepped away. Bobby screamed as Meeko leapt. The scream turned into a gurgle and silence as Bobby’s throat was ripped open by my noble hound’s massive jaws.
I think you deserve a knighthood. Sir Meeko. Sounds good!
I walked through my troops who were all laughing and celebrating such a quick and easy victory.
I found my beloved Rigmor kneeling amongst a pile of assorted corpses.
I approached her and said, “See my Princess. Victory as promised.”
She slowly looked up at me and hate filled her voice as she yelled, ”Get the fuck away from me. What the hell is all this?”
Rigmor pointed to the pile of assorted corpses and I said, “You rage Milady. Delivered to your enemies as promised.”
Then she leapt at me and slapped me. I was about to yell when I realised I was back in Rigmor’s apartment. I mumbled to myself, “Must have nodded off Wulf.”
A deep baritone voice said from the other chair, “That was not a dream Dragonchild. That was a possible time stream courtesy of Akatosh. He and your mother are concerned about the oath you just swore. You are a good man Wulf. Do not go down the same path as me.”
You are Pelinal Whitestrake. Champion of Alessia.
“Did the armour or dashing good looks give it away? All jesting aside, what you just experienced is what happens if you abandon the empathy and sympathy you have grown and matured. It will be a switch. You will be giving yourself completely to the dragon. You can help Rigmor do what is needed as the man you are or the monster you can become. Restraint is always harder and slower but believe me, you will have far less regrets. If you wish to help Rigmor tonight then give her your silence. Figure out a way to word your oath better.”
Then he was gone. No noise, no flash, no pop. Just gone.
I quietly made my way downstairs. Rigmor was restless and muttering random things. Much like she was when recovering in Allie’s shack.
I quietly moved a chair next to my beloved and sat. She immediately went back into her normal breathing rhythm.
I wrote this journal entry and then sat and thought what I could do to reassure Rigmor that all is OK.
I developed an idea and put it into action.
Only tomorrow will tell if it was a good idea.
I did not sleep.
I watched my Princess then left her apartment just before daybreak.