Imperial Palace, Cyrodiil countryside: What’s next?
Blackwell moved slightly so he was equidistant between the two thrones. Always the diplomat with that move he signified how he regards the ruling authority to be evenly split.
He said, “Your Majesty, my Lady, there will be a small interim phase so correspondence can be sent to those that need to know of the change of rulership. This includes international dignitaries and the rulers of the various provinces of Tamriel. Invitations shall be sent inviting them to the coronation which should be a dual affair that also crowns Rigmor the High Queen of Cyrodiil.”
I replied, “I am ignorant of much of the political landscape on Nirn although I have intimate knowledge of that in Skyrim. You may need to brief both of us on some of those attending prior to the event.”
“As you will Majesty. But first I believe we need to protect the integrity of our Queen and the child. I suggest my Lady takes up the name of the House of Mede.”
Rigmor scoffed, “’Rigmor Mede?’ Yeah right.”
I turned to her and said, “Beloved, it is a political move that clearly states your royal bloodline. Your father’s surname will be entered into the records and you can use that or adopt my name after our marriage. You are Rigmor Fjonasson and that is a name to be proud of.”
I addressed Blackwell, “You know very well our distaste for these political games but we will take your advice so as to minimise friction during the transition period. Her father, Sir Ragnar Fjonasson, will have his reputation restored and his family name will take its rightful place amongst the most respected in Tamriel. That is something I will pursue with utmost vigour I can assure you.”
Blackwell bowed to acknowledge agreement.
“Now comes the question as to what name I will use. First I must ask you, why abandon Sethius in favour of me.”
He looked straight at me and replied with honesty, “I did not abandon him. I simply refused to break the rules of parley. He made the decision to further insult those sacred and necessary rules by attacking you. You were within your rights to defend yourself. I did not think you would attack him but if you had we would have defended him for the same reason. Parley must be obeyed. Even with our numbers I doubt that outcome would have been in our favour but your rule would have been tarnished.”
“You are being honest, as always, so I ask further, did you hope the scenario would play out as it did?”
Once again he stared into my eyes and replied, “You, as the last Dragonborn, are the rightful heir to the throne. As soon as I heard of your accomplishments I knew it was fact. That not only were you gifted the Thu’um, but also with the ability to absorb the souls of Dragons. That meant you were anointed by Akatosh himself as the rightful heir before even taking the crown by right of combat. Even so, I was sworn to protect whoever sits on that throne even if I wished, and hinted on several occasions, that it could be you I obey with unwavering loyalty.”
“You already knew I was declared Ysmir and wearer of the Storm Crown before the trial but did not consider me a usurper did you? Do you believe the claim I made at Quintus’ camp. That I am the son of Tiber Septim? That I was in fact a usurper by birth the same as my Queen.”
This obviously made him uncomfortable and for the first time I could recall he dropped his piercing gaze. He stated, “I am no expert on the powers of The Divines. Such a claim by you could result in declarations of blasphemy or, even worse, people regarding you as a God King. I believe you but what possible proof could we provide to the masses of such a thing?”
“The sworn testimony of Priests and Priestesses of Lady Mora, Lady Dibella and Lady Azura. They have direct communication with their deities even with Martin Septim’s barrier in place. Followers of Molag Bal and some other Daedric Princes also have the ability to communicate with their deities but I doubt they would get confirmation from those Gods. I intend to rule as Wulf Septim and for our daughter to rule as Kintyra Septim. Not just as an adopted name like Sethius tried to do with Mede. We will rule as Septim related to Tiber and not his brother like the majority of Septim Emperors/Empresses were. This is the desire of The Divine. This is also my desire.”
Blackwell stood thinking and I knew he would see the advantage of such a claim backed by holy testimony. After a few seconds he asked the next logical question, “And who should the lists say was your mother?”
“Saint Alessia, Slave Queen and founder of The Empire.”
Blackwell staggered back shaking his head and with his mouth agape.
Rigmor laughed and as per usual that was the sweetest of music to my ears.
“So I am half-brother to Emperor Belharza the Minotaur and Emperor Pelagius Septim. I am son of Empress Alessia and Emperor Tiber Septim. As for our child, she is the Chosen One of prophecy and will be, like myself and Rigmor, a ruler by Divine right. I will soon ask for my beloved’s hand in marriage, not to satisfy some outdated concept of respectability or even worse, the blasphemous use of Lady Mora’s sacred ceremonies for political gain. I will do it as our souls and destinies are already entwined and I love her with an intensity even the Gods cannot comprehend.”
To his credit Blackwell soon composed himself and said firmly, “Understood Majesty.”
Rigmor said, “Councillor” and Blackwell turned to listen.
“My Lady?” he enquired.
She said, “The Emperor elect and I shall return to Bruma for the time being and leave you in charge as caretaker. Maybe…maybe Titus Mede II will return someday. We will of course comply with anything you ask of us.”
He replied, “Of course my lady. As you are the former Countess of Bruma that title will automatically be passed onto your mother Sigunn. Bruma will become, by default, a Royal City and Imperial place of residence. There is a small matter that needs attending to, but that can wait for the time being. I am sure both of you need time to adjust to the new situation you find yourselves in.”
I turned to Rigmor and said, “That is a forlorn hope Rigmor. As I have told you before, I know who killed Titus Mede II. Something I will discuss with the Councillor in the near future.
I then addressed him, “You were right to suspect the Dark Brotherhood Blackwell. However you picked on the wrong chapter of their abhorrent cult.”
Blackwell answered, “I look forward to that discussion Majesty. As per your approval the traitors Leyawiin, Cheydinhal and Chorrol have been dealt with, permanently, and the houses of Chorrol and Cheydinhal for the time being have been passed onto their next of kin.”
“I assume you mean their widows. Will they be trouble Blackwell? My father would have wiped out every single member of those families. I could never be that ruthless. Sons and Daughters should not pay for the sins of the father. Wives may not even know the actions of their husbands or be able to prevent them if they did. Not in Cyrodiil anyway where they seem far more subservient than in Skyrim.”
“Majesty, the widows know how the game is played. Or was played as I assume new rules are in order. They will also be made aware your mercy has kept them alive. They may curse every breath you take but should fall in line. They could lose everything otherwise.”
Rigmor asked, “What about Leyawiin?”
“Leyawiin is in need of a new Count or Countess my Lady. I suggest Casius Varon as it is imperative we have someone we can trust implicitly. His naval expertise would suit the county and help protect the Niben Bay, especially as the majority of the New Imperial Army seems to be fleeing as the news of Sethius’ death circulates. I have no doubt they will return to the border regions of Black Marsh, Elsweyr and Valenwood. That is where they found most profit under Sethius and Morag. Of course Quintus was another option to consider but with the growing tensions in Hammerfell it would be prudent for him to remain there for the time being.”
Rigmor looked at me and I decided she had better start the sharing of command, “You are the expert on how to run a county. You even managed to do it in-between visits to your favourite inns.”
“Ha de ha. Leyawiin is key to protecting the Citadel if the Akaviri launch an attack. Casius is also used to overseeing the logistics of an Imperial Army. So I think he is an excellent choice as Count of Leyawiin. You will have to look into getting the charges of piracy dropped though. We just disposed a Bandit King. We don’t want a Pirate Count.”
“I shall get onto it at once my Lady. As I arrange the necessary correspondence announcing the change of dynasty and forthcoming coronation to be sent to, ‘Whom It May Concern’, you can expect an immediate interest and requests for parley. Especially from the Elder Council in exile and the Aldmeri Dominion who I suspect will want to discuss the restoration of the White Gold Concordat.”
I was not surprised that got a, “Pfffft, yeah right.”
Blackwell then risked life and limb by saying, “Lady Rigmor, take this opportunity to relax as best you can. Of course, return home to Bruma, but soon, whether you like it or not you will need to adapt and come to terms with your new situation. Once the news has reached the far corners of Tam…Nirn, and you address the foreign dignitaries and your subjects, you must respect expectations and act accordingly befitting a Queen.”
Rigmor heatedly replied, “Hey, I am not the Emperor and I put up with this kind of crap off Malesam long enough so drop it Blackwell.”
“But you are still the Queen and rightfully so, as his Majesty is the rightful heir to the Imperial Throne by right of combat. I realize this situation is not perfect or even expected. I am sure it comes as a surprise to all of us but here we are. It is not the first time in the history of monarchies things have turned out… exceptional but we must all agree the recent events that have brought us here are indeed exceptional.”
“No Blackwell, I expected this all along. The Divine needed me to sit on this throne for two reasons. They want me to prepare Tamriel for the upcoming Akaviri invasion. There is far more at stake than just the existence of Tamriel. The Akavri and us with our allies are the forces on opposite sides of the eternal war between the Gods. Some Gods want Nirn to exist and ruled by mortals and on the other side are those who want it under the control of Daedric Lords or destroyed. These Akaviri are no different than the New Order who worked for Malacath. It is not a simple matter of Aedra vs Daedra either as some have crossed sides over the millennia such as Azura and Meridia. There are many Gods of neither persuasion involved including Saint Alessia and I assume some of the Demi Gods of old may make an appearance. I warned my Queen that if we accepted Sethius’ proposal it would be temporary. That The Divine would put me on this throne one way or another. I was willing to sit back and see what their plan was. I did not have to wait long. My Lord Akatosh probably knew what you were going to do Blackwell although I think any predicted events after Table Mountain would be more educated guess than certainty. Oh, you may not know that I fought beside Boethia to defeat Molag Bal in armed combat. I believe Lord Akatosh is rather blinded at the moment. Not a Dragon Break as such but still, having two Daedric Princes on the mortal plane for a time seems to have caused a disturbance in the timelines. My Dragon blood lets me know this and I must discuss it with some Dov to understand fully what it means.
But I digress. The second reason The Divine wished me on this throne is to ensure The Chosen One, Kintyra III, an Empress carrying the blood of Alessia, Titus Mede and Tiber Septim, also sits on this throne when she comes of age. The Prophecy is only partially complete until then and every sane person on Nirn should pray for its successful completion.”
We were in a territory foreign to Blackwell. He was used to the greed and ambitions of mortals being the catalyst for policy decisions. This was the beginning of an era where the will of The Divine will be a factor in such things. I said to him, “Get used to the fact that I am Champion of The Divine. That is my purpose and my sacred duty. That includes making the promise of eternal peace on Nirn a reality as foretold in The Prophecy. Foreign policy and diplomacy will be based on that singular fact and that will be made clear from the beginning. The sooner others realise that the sooner they can choose to co-operate or suffer the consequences. I need not spell those out for you. My Queen and I have already suffered greatly to fulfil The Prophecy to this point. Understood?”
“Yes Majesty. I may need your assistance in getting up to speed on the politics of the immortals. I would also like to understand more of your accomplishments. I assume much of your achievements are not publicly known.”
“Believe me Blackwell, the politics of the immortals are not much different than the game you are used to in Cyrodiil. Only the stakes are much higher. Not some lumpy uncomfortable throne but the very existence of Nirn and/or the free will of mortals. As for my achievements, everything I have ever done is for the good of mortals, not just the Gods. I will make them known in good time as well as the hidden actions of some previous Emperors and citizens that deserve recognition and their place in the histories.”
As Blackwell stood contemplating this fact Rigmor chimed in, “Ahh, I’m sorry Councillor Blackwell. I’m just worried I guess. I don’t know… “
I could have reassured Rigmor once again but it was better to let a third party tell her what I have said all along. Blackwell replied, ”My Lady, I have been at the receiving end of your… ahem, diplomatic parley. You have proven, beyond doubt, your ability to lead and strategise. To hold your shoulders back and head high in the face of overwhelming odds. With the Dragonborn, I mean his Majesty, by your side? If it’s peace you want, if it’s a home to go to where you can raise a child in safety, you have a place alongside his Majesty to make this real, to make it a success because no one is going to make that success for you. So please, do take the time to return to Bruma, appoint a Lady in Waiting and send her to the palace as to arrange the new Royal Suite.”
Blackwell looked at me and I gave him a nod of approval. He gave a slight nod back then asked, “I take it you have dealt with Ser Robere?”
“Ser Robere no longer. He is no more a noble than a stable dog. I have promised Robere a long life full of the best medical care possible. He will have many years to contemplate his actions and there is a slim chance he could redeem himself in the future. I already have plans for one step towards that possibility. I hope he is good with a shovel.”
Although a puzzled look quickly crossed his face Blackwell did not ask for elaboration but said, “Then I leave his fate to your Majesty. If you will permit me, I have matters to attend to. I shall send word if something important comes up and your presence is required.”
I nodded my ascent and he bowed his head to each of us as he said, “My Majesty, my Lady.”
As Blackwell turned and proceeded to leave the room Rigmor asked me “Why do you think Robere has a chance at redemption?”
“Of all the scum I have had the displeasure of dealing with, he was the first and only one to fully admit his guilt. He did not blame his upbringing or Gods or orders or anything else but his own free will. That is a huge step towards redemption.”
“Dragonborn, how do you feel about all this?”
“Before I answer that my beloved can I please ask a favour. From now on call me by my name. I am Wulf. I know not my Nedic name but Wulf was a favourite of my father’s so that is who I am. Being Dragonborn is a part of me, it is not the whole. I did not mind Dragonborn when I was unsure of my identity. Now I am comfortable with my name please use it. It will be bad enough people calling me Majesty.”
“Oh my, I have never thought of the effect of calling you that all these years! How inconsiderate of us all. Please continue with Rigmor and not Milady or Queen. Beloved is okay though!”
“Agreed. As to what I feel about all of this? I feel good, on top of the world as we now have a chance to improve the lot of the ordinary citizen and pave the way for Kintyra. I was thinking at some stage I would have to be the aggressor and take the throne. Now I do not have to.”
“Ah, what about the manipulations of the Gods?”
“I am not going to claim I am a victim as I have accepted the necessity of all that has occurred. We both agreed we would rather have suffered the machinations of the Gods than the alternative of all mortals suffering worse. We did not volunteer but it is what it is. Some things I have to resolve. Why did they wipe my memory? Why did The Divine lose faith in me for that they surely did. Their willingness to commit Divine rape to ensure the existence of Kintyra is also contrary to their nature as I understand it. I can only think they are really afraid of what Molag Bal was capable of and what the victory of the Akaviri would mean. They are not infallible and just like you I have suffered unduly due to some of their questionable decisions. More so in many ways.”
“I understand, I really do.”
“I know. You are probably the only person who could. We have been through a lot haven’t we?”
“We share a destiny, I know that. We have both suffered from amnesia. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there for me. Been there for all of us. I know I am not perfect, but you’ve always been there to carry me when I fall, to put me back together when I am broken. I would do the same for you in a heartbeat. I will always share your back and I want you to know, you are kinder and stronger than you realise. You may be Wulf but you are also MY Dragonborn and I’ll protect you always.”
“You kept me kind my beloved. Without your influence my Dovah half would have been dominant. As my mother said to me, ‘I looked upon your face and saw you smile, from a place no smiles exist.’ You did not let the darkness surrounding you overcome your beautiful nature and seemingly infinite compassion. Without the example you set we would still have reached this exact point but I would not be somebody you could love. So I thank you and know this with no uncertainty, I love you.”
“I love you too Wulf. Can you take me home now?”
“Eventually this will be our home but come, let us go. I am not sure what news your Mother and the others have received but hopefully we can enjoy the countryside in peace for once.”
It was just on 3:00PM when we retrieved Boy and Ben from the stables. I handed the stable master several gold and thanked him for looking after our mounts for such an extended period.
We mounted and I could not help feeling some nostalgia. This time we were not riding into danger but the security of Rigmor’s home. The siege was broken some days ago so I hoped they had repaired whatever damage was done for my beloved’s sake. I want smiles, not tears to end this day.
The bridge loomed ahead and I thought what a barrier it had presented to Quintus when Sethius made his move for the throne. It would not be much help against the tools available to me. Cyclone, Unrelenting Force, Dismay and the terrifying Storm Call Shouts would decimate concentrated troops huddled behind barriers. Add Chain Lightening, Fireball and Mayhem spells and as a single individual I would destroy most defenders. If I used some of the weapons I have accumulated, such as Auriel’s Bow, and called upon dragons and members of the College of Winterhold there would be little impedance to my forces crossing into the city. I thank The Divine I no longer have to cause such death.
I planned to offer the members of the New Imperial Army a chance to become real soldiers. They would have had to be vetted by Imperial Officers but I am sure many could make use of their life serving the people rather than robbing them. I can understand why most have fled. They expect me to be as ruthless as Sethius and that a mass cull would be inevitable. One benefit is that the Counts and Countesses are now bereft of their private armies. No doubt however that their return to banditry will cause issues. They must be wiped out before a competent warlord turns them into more of a problem.
My mind raced over many subjects as we rode slowly to Bruma. Rigmor was silent in her own thoughts.
Despite my mind racing I still appreciated the beauty of this once foreign land. I was starting to feel at home.
At about 5:45 PM we reached the closed gates of Bruma. The guard on duty recognised Rigmor and with pleasant surprise yelled, “The Countess has returned. Open the gates!” With that my Queen and I entered. I knew today was far from over but the smile on Rigmor’s face made everything else unimportant at that instant.