Bruma Castle, Bruma Cathedral: Reunions and word of God.
We decided to hitch the horses outside Rigmor’s apartment. The blacksmith and stables were still damaged from the siege. Apart from that the city looked remarkably unscathed.
We were about to enter the castle courtyard when Rigmor stopped and said, “Wulf, please wait…”
“Yes Rigmor. What is it?”
“What are we going to tell my Mom?”
“We can’t just go in there and say, ’Hey Mom, guess what, I’m pregnant with the Dragonborn’s baby!’”
“Are you ashamed? Because I am proud and excited and can’t wait to let the world know I am expecting a child with my soul mate!”
“Ah, I’m just worried I guess.”
“My mother’s first child was born out of wedlock. I am pretty sure I was conceived and born out of wedlock. The only place that seems to be an issue is in ‘Civilised Cyrodiil’. We tell her the truth and I ask for her blessing. Then I propose, you say yes and we have the white wedding you have dreamt about. Simple.”
“OK, let’s go then.”
We made our way into the castle and through the main hall. Every guard greeted Rigmor with a smile and hearty welcome. She was beaming by the time we reached the parlour and as expected, familiar faces were gathered around the table.
Sigunn leapt from her seat with a heartfelt “Rigmor!”
Rigmor replied with “Mom!” and they embraced in a rib cracking hug.
Malesam said, “Aaaaah, Yngol informed us of Leyawiin’s defeat. There seems to be some confusion as to the outcome of the… aah yes, the war.”
Rigmor disentangled herself from Sigunn’s embrace and replied, “We went to parley at the Emperor’s request. He, the Emperor, attacked Drag…Wulf.”
Sigunn exclaimed, “The Gods, what happened?”
Malesam said, “I think it’s plainly obvious. I take it thing’s didn’t end well for Sethius?”
Rigmor announced, “Wulf cut his head off. He is now the Emperor of Cyrodiil and the Empire.”
Gasps all around and stunned silence for a few seconds before Freathof said, “Your most Imperial Royal Majesty!”
Rigmor explained, “There will be a coronation after Blackwell makes the necessary arrangements. Come on, let us all sit down.”
We took our places at the table with me at the head. I felt awkward doing so in Sigunn’s own castle but it was protocol and I was too tired to fight it. I have had only a few hours sleep since escaping The Void and fighting our way to the Imperial City.
The conversation proceeded as follows;
- Malesam: Forgive me your… your Majesty as this has come as a bit of a shock.
- Rigmor: Pfft, you got that right.
- Freathof: Indeed, but what about you My Lady?
- Rigmor: I am the new High Queen of Cyrodiil. Seems there was something to that prophecy after all Freathof. Bruma is to become a Royal City. Nothing much needs to change here, apart from my name pfft.
- Freathof: Change your name child? What do you mean?
- Rigmor: To legitimise my claim to the crown Blackwell wants me to change my name to “Rigmor Mede” before the coronation.
- Wulf: I have demanded the name Rigmor Fjonasson be entered into the records as her birth name and Rigmor may use that name if she wishes. I also pledge to you Sigunn that Sir Ragnar Fjonasson’s good name will be fully restored, his coat of arms returned, his real exploits in the field be recognised and the false histories expunged.
Sigunn gasped and tears formed as she whispered a sincere, “Thank you.”
- Malesam: Might I make a small suggestion? As you know, Cerys and myself, and his Majesty of course, have worked tirelessly to protect and serve Rigmor as a descendant of Morgan of Winterhold as per the writ issued to the College by Titus Mede the first.
- Rigmor: Your point?
- Malesam: Morgan as you know was the first child of Titus Mede I. You could respect that fact and her memory by temporarily assuming the name of “Rigmor Morgan-Mede.” It also has a nice ring to it don’t you think?
- Rigmor: Thanks Malesam, yanno, I really like that.
- Wulf: Sigunn is now the Countess of Bruma as Rigmor can’t be as she is Queen. I will have to hand back my various Thane titles in Skyrim. I had Counts Leyawiin, Cheydinhal and Chorrol executed. The widows of Cheydinhal and Chorrol will now be the Countesses. Casius will be, if he accepts the appointment, the new Count of Leyawiin. Malesam, Tolfdir will now be Arch Mage of the College. It is apparent that nearly all of the New Imperial Army has fled fearing I would have them put to the sword.
- Malesam: That is all important news your Majesty but what I don’t understand is how all this is going to work out. If Rigmor is the High Queen of Cyrodiil then you must be not only the Emperor but also the High King?
- Wulf: Not so. Rigmor is High Queen by Divine right and does not have to be married to me as High King to use the title. It is hers and if we were to marry I would inherit the right to use the title High King from her. I know it is a shock to your system but it is similar to how it works in civilised countries like Skyrim where women are not subservient to men. It will be refreshing to have Countesses with power in Cyrodiil even if widows of my enemies don’t you agree?
- Malesam: Oh, um… mmm…
- Freathof: What of the prophecy child, are you… ?
Rigmor stood and said to Sigunn, “Mom, we need to talk.”
Sigunn could hear the worry in Rigmor’s voice and asked, “Rigmor, what is it, is there something wrong?”
Rigmor simply replied, “In private.”
We waited till mother and daughter had left the room before continuing the conversation;
- Malesam: What happened Majesty and what about Morag?
- Wulf: Short version is some Thalmor joined our ranks and together we fought our way to, inside and through Table Mountain. Morag was weakened when Sorella destroyed the Bridge of Sighs and I lopped her head off.
- Malesam: And my mistress?
- Wulf: The destruction of the soul gem caused a rift and Molag Bal stepped into Nagasel promising to drink from my skull.
- Malesam: My word…
- Wulf: I am rather fond of my skull and wished it to stay in place so used the “eye” to summon Boethiah. Together we fought Molag and his minions. When I had the chance I hit Molag with Scourge and both he and Boethiah vanished and several Oblivion Gates were destroyed. In hindsight it was foolish of me to summon Boethiah and trust she would leave when Molag Bal was defeated. But it seems she had what she wanted, both sexually and appetite wise, and left. Or she was truthful about the requirements of the summoning and when one of the components, another Daedric Prince, was no longer present the summoning ended. It is not like I had much choice. If The Divine thought I should not have used the ‘eye’ they would have provided another means to banish Molag Bal.
- Freathof: The Dragonborn and Boethia vs Molag Bal and his minions. Who would ever conceive of such an epic event? What then Majesty… I take it you went straight after Leyawiin?
- Wulf: Rigmor and the other’s did. I was slightly delayed for a few days but eventually caught up with them.
- Malesam: You mentioned the Thalmor?
- Wulf: They were sent by the Elder Council and other dignitaries. Their leader was a Count Camaeus.
- Malesam: I know him. Of course I haven’t been back to the isles for many years but the family is well known. Lillandril I think, yes… that is where his family hails from. Very well respected.
Malesam look startled when I issued a loud raspberry to that claim. Cerys giggled but the frivolity was short lived. Freathof stunned me with the question, “What about the Red Diamond? Did you pick it up?”
No matter how knowledgeable Freathof is there is no way he would know of the Red Diamond. I smelt more immortal intervention;
- Wulf: How do you know about the Red Diamond and what has it to do with the Bridge of Sighs?
- Freathof: Jonte was telling us about… oh.
- Malesam: Aaah, yes. Apparently the destruction of the Bridge of Sighs would ultimately cause it to collapse in on itself and a Red Diamond would be produced.
- Wulf: There is no way on Nirn Sethri would know this. This was unique and there would be no books or manuscripts to pass on this knowledge as it has never occurred before. Not unless a reading from an Elder Scroll revealed these facts or Azura did. She may even have been told by Molag Bal. Let me guess from what Morag told me. If allowed to reach its summit the Bridge of Sighs would have not only created a rift but a Black Diamond as well. Because it was destroyed before that a Red Diamond was created instead.
- Malesam: Morag revealed this to you? Did she hint at what you could use the Black Diamond for?
- Wulf: She did not tell me directly but talked of outcomes that must involve a New Amulet of Kings and hence a new diamond.
- Malesam: Correct, it would reverse the sacrifice of Martin Septim and allow Daedric Princes and Coldharbour onto Nirn.
- Wulf: No Malesam, that is incorrect. Martin Septim’s sacrifice allowed a new barrier to replace the one lost when the Dragonfires were extinguished. As part of the Sacred Covenant between Saint Alessia and Lord Akatosh the barrier is designed to prevent any of the Gods having physical access to the mortal plane. We can still talk to them and sometimes an avatar may appear but not the Gods themselves. With great effort The Divine can physically interact via magicka but not in a corporeal body. Allowing Daedric Princes into the mortal realm is not reversing something the current barrier allows for The Divine. Similarly the Daedric Princes are not entirely banished from communicating with mortals. Completely banishing The Divine is not reversing something the current barrier does to Daedric Princes. Coldharbour would not appear on Nirn. It is a separate realm and could not coexist in the same space as Mundus. Great magicks are needed to bring even a small part into Mundus as happened during the Umbriel Crises during Titus Mede I’s reign. Easily maintained bridges between the realms would be possible.
- Malesam: What about an amulet made with the Red Diamond? We are not entirely sure.
- Wulf: Morag was willing to betray her “Daddy” as she called Molag Bal. Understandable if you know what she went through, and all women go through, to become Daughters of Coldharbour. She hinted that we could banish all Gods from Nirn. The Divine, Daedric Princes, Magna Ge, Saint Alessia etc.
- Freathof: Only the Chosen One could wear it. Whether the diamond was black or red, it make no…
- Wulf: STOP! Both of you are stating speculation as fact! I just showed how flawed Malesam’s ‘facts’ were. How would you know what the Red Diamond is capable of or who can use it? What books have you read to cover this unique set of circumstances? Unless information is given to you by a God or a Moth Priest or verified by reliable resources then I do not want to hear it presented as fact. Do either of you even know what the diamond contains? I do and my knowledge of both Gods and the barrier exceeds both of yours combined by a very large margin yet I can only speculate on the powers of the Red Diamond and who can be its wielder.
Both looked embarrassed and so they should be. Neither knew what was in the Red Diamond. I knew because Morag told me. It contains part of my mother’s soul. When she fought Molag Bal for the souls of the children over the last ten years it was not physical but a battle of wills. If Saint Alessia had finally lost that battle her soul would have turned black and joined part of Molag Bal’s to create the Black Diamond. Logically the Red Diamond may contain parts of Molag Bal’s soul. What powers it may have I do not know and am not interested in ignorant speculation. Whether its use is restricted to Kintyra or not I do not know and if so, the reason why completely eludes me. I am not going to mention this information about the souls in front of Malesam. I do not want Boethia to know if she doesn’t already.
I continued the discussion;
- Wulf: I would like to think I can still utilise you two as advisors but I warn you that I only want to hear what is verified unless you pre-empt you ramblings with, ‘I speculate’ or ‘I think’. I will assume you both understand. Let us continue.
- Malesam: Forgive us Majesty for our lack of clarity on presenting fact versus speculation. However the question still stands. Did you recover the Red Diamond?
- Wulf: No and Sethri never mentioned it. He probably had every intention of passing on Azura’s message but that was knowledge The Divine did not want me to have. If I was to confront Sethri with the fact he did not tell me about the diamond he would either swear he did or be totally mystified why he didn’t. I do not blame him in the slightest. I knew a diamond was essential to Molag Bal’s plans but had no idea it would be in Nagasel.
- Freathof: If it can only be used by the Chosen One it would be useless without the fulfilment of the prophecy… and we talked about that before Majesty.
- Wulf: Rigmor is with child. My child.
Freathof almost exploded as he yelled, “By the Gods… Majesty!”
Cerys immediately stood and left the room. She would find Rigmor and provide support if needed.
I waited for her to exit the room and continued;
- Wulf: Not by the Gods Freathof. By the love of two individuals whose souls and destinies are entwined for eternity.
- Malesam: Well that’s all rather inconvenient… What happens next?
- Wulf: What do you propose Malesam? Do you think it makes the slightest difference to her ability to be Queen or to be accepted by the people? It does not! What was Morgan? Wife or lover or beloved? Rigmor’s line derives from a child born out of wedlock. Saint Alessia had two children out of wedlock although the history books only list one at the moment. It is not an inconvenience. It is something to cherish and celebrate!
- Malesam: Ahhh… umm…
- Wulf: I am going to ask Sigunn for her blessing so I can propose to Rigmor. We will marry not to protect Rigmor’s reputation or legitimise the child in any way. Neither are necessary except in the minds of those who have no right to judge others. I will marry Rigmor because we love each other. Understand?
- Malesam: Yes Majesty.
- Freathof: No one need know Lady Rigmor is pregnant before the wedding. We keep this to ourselves.
- Wulf: Did you not just hear what I said. Why would we hide the fact except to cater for those I have no time for. For the last fucking time, a child out of wedlock is not inconvenient, not embarrassing and not a slur on a woman’s morals! Too late anyway as every soldier, both Imperial and Thalmor, who made it to the entrance of Nagasel knows. By now the Elder Council would know as well as the Dominion leadership. Soldiers talk so the news would have grown exponentially and will be doing the gossip rounds in the Inns and Taverns of Nirn. Few people would go “Tsk Tsk”. Most would not care or would rejoice as the news of any expectant mother is good news. I can’t believe the weird morality you live by. Especially you Malesam. If you heard what your mistress said to Molag Bal you ears would melt! So stick your barbaric morals where the sun doesn’t shine and if either of you suggest Rigmor has done something wrong again I will punch you in the mouth.
- Freathof: Majesty… does lady Rigmor know what fate awaits her?
- Wulf: Yes and it is not what you think.
Just then Rigmor came into the room and sat down despondently. I asked, “Is there something wrong my Queen?”
“Wulf… I, I’m going to the cathedral to gather my thoughts for a little while. Maybe… I dunno, will find some solace. When you are done here would you come get me?”
I replied, “Of course, I will try and be as quick as possible.”
Rigmor gave a forlorn “OK” and shuffled out of the room. I felt like running to her and walking her to the cathedral. However I decided to give her time alone to pray or whatever it is she needed to do.
After a few seconds the discussion continued;
- Malesam: Poor girl…Master Freathof, what fate awaits her, please do share.
- Freathof: Majesty?
- Wulf: No mortal woman has ever given birth to a Dragonchild and lived.
- Malesam: Well no wonder the poor girl needs to find solace…
- Wulf: I have the ear of the Gods and they have assured us not to worry.
- Freathof: What… how…?
- Wulf: You mentioned our talk about the prophecy but I bet you do not remember all of it. Do you recall that I told you I have spoken to Talos on several occasions?
- Freathof: Yes, of course. Hard to forget somebody telling you they talk to a God.
- Wulf: I also told you that you were wrong and that I have met my mother and she had not died as you assumed . Remember that?
- Freathof: No, I don’t think so. I don’t know. Up to a point my memory is clear then nothing.
- Wulf: So you don’t recall telling me to go to the Cathedral and speak to the priest there?
- Freathof: No Majesty. Not at all.
- Wulf: Welcome to the world of subtle manipulation by The Divine. They can’t make you do something bad but occasionally they seem to put thoughts in people’s heads. Several times I have been given instructions this way.
- Freathof: That is… disturbing.
- Wulf: I went to the Cathedral and Talos’ avatar appeared and spoke to me. I asked him about the prophecy and he assured me that Saint Alessia would not let Rigmor die and neither would The Divine.
- Freathof: Do not get upset Majesty but can you believe what they say?
- Wulf: I believe my father. Especially when he told me the same thing on the way to Casius’ camp.
- Freathof: What do you mean?
- Wulf: My father is Tiber Septim. My mother is Saint Alessia. This is fact and I need offer no proof. Other mortals knew before I did. I have only recently found out. I am sure your mistress would confirm it if you asked her Malesam.
- Malesam: You would understand if I did. Walking in as Emperor was one shock. This is entirely, ahhh… unprecedented.
- Freathof: Are you a God?
- Wulf: No, I am as mortal as you. I have died twice so I know that for a fact. Listen, I know you will have a million questions but I wish to do something then see to my Queen. Hopefully we can sit and talk about this in length soon.
- Freathof: Of course. It must be a trying time for both of you.
- Malesam: Majesty, let us hope the Gods keep their word, for all our sakes, and in the meantime I’ll sent that ruffian, that scoundrel, that rapscallion Jimmy Ten Fingers to search Nagasel for the diamond. It should still be there unless…
- Wulf. Unless somebody else knew about it. Somebody did. Camaeus was told by a representative of Lord Akatosh. A being who has directed his whole life. A being he believed may have also been a God. I had great pleasure telling this most important Thalmor that his life had been directed by Talos. But once again we use time when Rigmor will be waiting for me.
- Malesam: Then why were you not told Majesty?
- Wulf: Once again I will discuss it later but let me quickly address probably the stupidest idea you have ever had. Send a two bit crook across the breadth of Cyrodiil after I told you the New Imperials have fled who knows where. Then he is to enter a place of death that is probably full of Thalmor if not tomb raiders by now. So this frail man is to do all that and retrieve the most powerful artefact currently on Nirn. You planned to put all of this stupidity into action without even asking your Emperor for permission. Please don’t apologise. Can I just hope you two will try harder? Your Queen and I have huge responsibilities and good, sound and well supported advice is welcome and needed. Give us that advice and leave the decision making to us. Speculate but let us know it is speculation.
- Malesam: Then who will you send to retrieve the Red Diamond?
- Wulf: The person best equipped to survive and find it. Me.
- Malesam: Majesty we couldn’t allow it. You are far too important a person to risk yourself where bottomcrawlers might be lurking.
- Wulf: I just told you I fought beside Boethia against Molag Bal. I killed Alduin amongst other beings far more powerful than I would face on the way or in Nagasel. Please tell me Malesam, what is going to oppose me? Then tell me why I need your permission to do it?
- Malesam: Aaaaaaaahhhh….
- Wulf: Forget it. I am going. Now if you don’t mind I would like to do what needs doing. Goodnight gentlemen. Ponder this though. I may be called upon to do battle as is my duty as Emperor. If their leader is not willing to risk his life in battle, why should the common soldier?
With that I left the table and headed for Sigunn’s room. I hope they listened and from now on they provide the support I know they are capable of. It was a bit of a shock suddenly sitting at the table with an Emperor but to suggest sending Jimmy to get the Red Diamond? Not his finest moment. As for their weird values when it comes to women and out of wedlock birth? They are victims of the environment in which they grew.
As I approached Sigunn’s door I felt something I rarely experience. Foreboding and fear! What if she tears strips off me for getting her little girl pregnant? What is she decides I am a lowlife for doing so and refuses her blessing? I think I would rather face two Alduin’s but I opened the door and was relieved to see Cerys there. If I have to I can hide behind her! But then again she would probably join in with the abuse.
Cerys wisely vacated the room with, “I’ll leave you two alone and wait outside in the hallway.”
After the coward left Sigunn politely said, “Please, take a seat.”
I did as ordered and sat neatly in the chair and then she asked, “Now what is it Drag, I mean Wulf, or should it be your Majesty? Please continue.”
“In private please call me Wulf. In public it has to be Majesty or your Majesty. Protocol.”
Sigunn laughed. That eased the tension a little. Or was that an evil cackle?
“It is about Rigmor and I. We have always been close. More so recently. Some may even say too close. Haha. Umm… and I…”
Sigunn rescued me from tripping over my own tongue by interjecting, “I have noticed how Rigmor looks at you. Follows you around like a lost little puppy.”
“I have only ever wanted the best for her, and because of you, we can now live normal happy lives.”
I wondered to myself if Sigunn missed the part about her daughter being a Queen about to marry an Emperor.
“Don’t be afraid to ask.”
Me, THE DRAGOBORN, SLAYER OF ALDUIN AND HERO OF WHITERUN, afraid? Yep!
“It would be an honour (and a great relief) if you were to give us your blessing so we can be married.”
Here it comes. Brace yourself Dragonborn, I mean Wulf.
“You are, and always will be, part of our family. Of course you both have my blessing.”
“I do? We do?”
“Thank you Sigunn.”
“This is so exciting, have you decided where you’ll get married? I know of a small chapel…”
“No chance of that. Rigmor has always wanted the wedding to be here in Bruma, at the Cathedral.”
“That’s so lovely. We can hold the banquet and celebrations afterwards here at the castle.”
Fantastic! Not far to the bedchamber! I didn’t say that aloud did I?
“I have quite a lot of preparing to do. It must be perfect…or I’m done for.”
“It’s a pity Ragnar isn’t here to give her away. He would be so very proud of you both.”
“He was a great man Sigunn. His approval of me would be icing on the cake so to speak. But who to have walk her down the aisle? I think we both know the logical answer to that and it is an honour he deserves. Rigmor owes him much and so do I.”
“Don’t worry, leave him to me. He will be thrilled. Now go, make sure you choose the right dress, the best places are at the Imperial City. She will also need a veil and tiara.”
“Another back to front tradition. A Skyrim bride would not let their fiancée anywhere near such a decision!”
“Who is to be your man of honour?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“Please don’t invite that obnoxious elf.”
“Don’t worry Sigunn. I can assure you, if he does come to the wedding he will be on his best behaviour. I am so looking forward to seeing my friends from Skyrim again.”
“Then go with my blessing and prepare for the big day.”
“Thank you again Sigunn. This means so much to me.”
I left the room far more relaxed than I entered. Cerys had been waiting for me to exit. She curtsied and asked, “Majesty, is there anything I can do to help?”
“Please, no need for all the formality, Call me Majesty if you wish but I would not be offended at Wulf. Just don’t curtsy or bow OK?”
“As you wish Maje… sorry… Wulf.”
“Thank for the offer Cerys but I think I’ve got this.”
“Please, let me help. I know exactly the dress she would want to wear to the ceremony. I have to travel to the Imperial City to speak to Blackwell and pick up some items for my father anyway.”
“So Rigmor has appointed you her lady in waiting. Is that why you need to speak to Blackwell?”
“Correct. I need to arrange my quarters ready for when she has to move to the Imperial Palace. I could pick up the dress. That would save you time.”
“You realise I am placing my life in your hands. Wrong choice and I won’t even make the Coronation!”
Cerys giggled and things jiggled. Not that I noticed.
“Thank you Cerys, that would be a great help. I know you can defend yourself but perhaps take a guard or two with you. The New Imperial Scumbags have gone back to banditry for a living.”
“My father said the same thing. He called them scallywags. So I will ask a couple of the lady guards who would enjoy some shopping I think. Do you have a ring in mind?”
“Not as yet. Lady Sigunn did not berate me about the baby. Did Rigmor talk to her about it?”
“Yes, they talked about it. I think Lady Sigunn’s fears for Rigmor and the child would now be a lot less after you have asked for the blessing and shown intent to propose. They also spoke about your pledge to restore Ragnar’s good name. That is something Lady Sigunn always dreamed about so thank you Majesty, that is most kind of you.”
“It has been on my mind ever since Rigmor told me her story. Any injustice disturbs me. What they did to Ragnar and his reputation, all for political gain on Mede’s part, is the biggest injustice I have encountered.”
“Lady Sigunn might not show it but with all that has happened lately, it has taken its toll on her.”
“And now she is Countess in name as well as duty to add to her burden. Please take good care of her Cerys and reassure her everything will be alright.”
“I will. Did Rigmor tell you she was going to try and find solace at the cathedral?”
“Yes. I think I know what is disturbing her so. I am on my way there now.”
“How about your Majesty, are you coping with all that has happened lately?”
“To tell the truth Cerys, I have never been so tired. I have my duty as Dragonborn and Champion of The Divine and I must cope for the sake of us all. Rigmor shoulders her share of the burden which has prevented me being overwhelmed so far.”
“I am happy for you both Majesty. No more hiding what was right from the beginning.”
“Thank you Cerys for you concern and offer to help. If anything else comes up I think could do with your expertise I will let you know. Now I had better hurry to Rigmor or I will get a ‘Where the hell have you been?’ and one of those in a lifetime is one too many.”
As I approached the entrance to the cathedral I could not help but wince at the memory of the fight we had about who she loved and who she thought she had to marry. I still do not think I could have done my duty if it meant watching her marry another. Not when I knew with 100% certainty it was not the right thing for her.
That was ancient history and I entered looking to help Rigmor with our future.
She was sitting on the exact pew I sat on when I spoke to my father about the prophecy. I approached and without looking she knew it was me. The noise of prophesy and destiny vanished when I was close to her.
“Hey Wulf, what took you so long?”
I sat where my father had sat and asked her, “Rigmor, are you OK?”
“I was just thinking about… yanno, how we ended up here. It is strange because all that we just went through, just seems like… Ahh, I dunno, a long time ago.”
I just listened as Rigmor needed to express whatever it was disturbing her. I was guessing she did not have the same faith in the promises of The Divine as I did. That means she also had no faith in me otherwise she would trust what I say.
“I came here because it might help stop the thoughts in my head from just racing around and around. But it just keeps going on and on, all this noise… And it won’t stop Wulf, it won’t stop.”
“You do not mean the noise that we block out by being close like this? Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not that noise. My own thoughts. My internal voices. Hah, it’s not like you haven’t probably got the same thing happening to you right. And here I am going on as if I’m the only one in the world with some kind of Divine burden.”
“Rigmor, we share the same burden. As for those nagging thoughts, I took the advice of my father when he sat right here and I sat where you are. He told me ‘When you carry the load of others as well as your own The Nine shall help carry your burden.’ It meant I needed to trust in The Divine more than I had and I have and it helps. But I realise your faith is not as strong as mine.”
“I came here because I thought…I thought if I prayed, if I asked for mercy then…then maybe the Gods might let me live.”
“I wish I could gift you my trust in not just The Divine but Saint Alessia as well. You must be terrified.”
“Wulf, I don’t want to die!”
“Do you think I would sit quietly if I thought that would happen? You are not going to die. Everything is going to be OK.”
“OK? Shall we ask them!”
Rigmor stood and I could tell by her tone it was going to be similar to the breakdown at her childhood den. I silently prayed to The Divine to help her. Give her the faith she needs to carry the burden they have placed upon her. Maybe after Table Mountain it is harder for them. But they are the creators of this world. Surely they can find a way?
“I mean we’re all here right!”
Rigmor faced the shrine and window of Zenithar.
“Hey! Yes you! Gods! Here I am, your Chosen Queen. Rigmor Morgan-Mede, High Queen of Cyrodiil…”
She moved to the central font and faced the shrine and window of Lord Akatosh.
“Here I am, right here so don’t be shy! I dare you to show your faces here! What are you afraid of?! Why won’t you show yourselves?!”
She moved back to face Zenithar once again and her voice became shriller. I was afraid for her, for both of us and our child if she did not get something, anything to acknowledge her pleas before she hit the peak of despair she was spiralling towards.
I no longer prayed silently or sat on the chair. I stood and clasped hands as if that made any difference to The Divine. I spoke aloud to my Gods, my Father and my Mother, “Your Chosen One needs your help. Azura, a Daedric Prince, has spoken to her and answered her prayers when called upon. Yet you remain silent. In this temple consecrated to you all where the devout come to pray. Where you Father have aided me. Surely you can help my beloved now. Help her now or lose us both. She will be broken and I will not forgive you.”
As I prayed I was aware of what Rigmor was saying and doing.
In front of Zenithar once again she growled, “Haven’t you taken enough? My childhood, my future and now you want to take my life! I want to live! I won’t let you take my baby! I won’t let you mess up her life like you did mine! She never asked for any of this!”
Rigmor slowly transitioned back to face Akatosh. Deep in my soul it hurt to realise she did not believe me or trust me. That she had lost faith in me like The Divine had. Otherwise she would not have to do this. She could end up losing all faith in my word and that of my Gods. Then what? Then I would become what The Divine fear. If they will not help perhaps a Daedric Lord might. If it eases the pain Rigmor is going through then fuck the rest of Nirn.
“Come on you cowards! Where are you hiding? Are you afraid of me?”
Rigmor’s fury was giving way to despair. Exactly like outside the den. I had not had to fight my Dovah side for a long time. I thought I had fully come to terms with it. But its creator had better do something or I would unleash his gift on his own sacred ground. My beloved was hurting because she lost faith in me. Why believe me when even The Divine have lost faith in their own creation? A creature who can’t even be trusted with his own memories or the Red Diamond.
I stared at my beloved as she started to plea. Gone was her anger. I ached to hold her and tell her all is OK but I can’t lie to her anymore. It was all a lie.
“I only wanted to live a normal life… I… don’t want to… die! I don’t want to die!”
I had to briefly close my eyes as a Divine light shone from the window of Akatosh and enveloped my beloved. My inquisitive mind immediately noticed the light emanated from the window but Rigmor’s shadow was that of a midday sun. Why is that important? It is not. It just stopped the poisonous thoughts that consumed me seconds earlier. I concentrated on my Queen and listened with fascination.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“But I’m scared.”
“Yes, I understand.”
“I love him.”
“I think I already knew that.”
The light went and I sat back on the pew as if I had not moved. Rigmor walked over and took up her previous position on the other pew.
Rigmor looked at me and said with conviction, “It’s alright Wulf. Everything’s going to be alright.”
“Did you see Lord Akatosh?”
I gave her time to transfer into words what must have been a most unusual experience for her. After a while I asked, “Did Lord Akatosh just speak to you?”
“What?…I can’t explain it… I…”
This time I was determined not to ask anything as the questions were not registering. She would tell me in her own time and words.
“I was filled with a sense of overwhelming love… and that everything was going to be alright and not to worry… But there was also something else, I could feel sorrow, no… remorse…I felt a deep sadness Dragonborn…”
“I am glad you found the faith I have. I will not lie Rigmor. It hurts that once again my words were not good enough. That you thought I was wrong to trust The Divine and that I would let you die. I can’t blame you. You do not know a fraction of the experiences I have had that forged such faith. You have not had to deal with all sorts of Gods and so be able to distinguish the good from the bad and the truth from the lies. The Divine lost faith in me. Why not you as well?”
“It happens over and over. Maybe it is a remnant of when I failed you and died that day at that damn diamond mine. I died again when you needed me most at Casius’ camp. I wasn’t here to help you when you needed me the last three and half years. Perhaps I am just at a loss as to why The Divine have done what I am now going to have to fix. Maybe I have lost faith in myself. Don’t let me transfer my inner demons to you. Forgive me.”
“What have they done?”
“Please Rigmor, let me worry about it for now. Let us sit back and contemplate what just happened. Akatosh spoke to you. As far as I know that is the first time since the Arch Curate of the Snow Elves lost his faith. Several millennia! So he blessed you with that gift and it, above anything else, tells you of your importance to them. The compassion and love were real Rigmor. No matter how much we curse what they have done to us it is not out of spite. It is for the good of all. I would not be surprised if Saint Alessia threatened him with a kick in the goolies if he didn’t do something.”
Rigmor looked shocked at such irreverence. Then she remembered Allie and who she was. It had the effect I wanted. She laughed and that helped fight the despair that threatened to overwhelm me. Rigmor thinks she is difficult sometimes. I am sure my random darkness is pretty hard to deal with.
She surprised me when she asked, “I noticed you praying. Do you think they answered your plea or mine?”
“I think they would have answered you earlier if they could and my prayer made no difference. Something has happened that my Dragonblood detects but I am at a loss as to its meaning. I think at the moment I am going to be bereft of any guidance from them. I think it took a lot more effort than it should have to answer your plea. I have a theory but a talk to a Dragon is needed to clarify it for me. None around here though I could go out into the country a bit and call one to me.”
“Do you think it has to do with The Bridge of Sighs collapsing?”
“Yes, the rift that opened and two Daedric Princes on this plane at once! Yes I do.”
“Be careful my love.”
“Just remember Rigmor. I am here for you and always will be.”
“Wulf… I love you.”
I dropped to my knee and in the time honoured fashion I looked up at my beloved and held out a red flower, one of the ones that led me out of the void, and proposed.
“Rigmor Fjonasson, would you give me the honour of becoming my wife?”
“I…Yes! Yes of course.”
I handed her the flower and sat back on the pew. I did not want Rigmor to see how fatigued I was. Sitting was the safest way to mask it.
“Have you spoken to my mother?”
“Yes but she said, ‘Over my dead body and you should be castrated for molesting my little girl!’”
“No! Why would she do that? She seemed OK and not surprised or disappointed when I told her of my pregnancy.”
I got a well-deserved thump in the right shoulder which will probably bruise.
“In truth I spoke to her and she has given us her blessing.”
“You know I want a white wedding right. In this cathedral?”
“Yes, don’t worry. I will have everything arranged.”
“Yeah, well, I will need time to choose a dress.”
“In this backwards land, is it not customary for the groom to choose the dress?”
“Are you kidding? Wulf, if I am going to get married, it has to be done right… no… it has to be perfect!”
“But surely the Queen of the Barbarians should adopt the quaint customs of her people?”
“OK, only joking! Maybe Cerys might help?”
Rigmor arose and so did her excitement level. She started walking along the central aisle when she turned and exclaimed, “Oh I am so looking forward to the ring.”
“You do have an idea for the ring right?”
“Oh, lots of ideas. Just leave it to me.”
“Have you heard of the legend of the White Gold, Diamond and Ruby encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh?”
“Of course I have. What merchant can I buy that from?”
“Wulf! Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of the legend of the White Gold, Diamond and Ruby encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh!”
“Oh that ring. I thought you asked if I had heard the legend of the White Gold, Diamond and Sapphire encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pelvic-Rash! Of course I have heard of the other one that you said twice and please don’t ask me to repeat it back.”
I suddenly had a suspicion that Rigmor knew nothing of this ring before Akatosh got into her head. If there is a legend Freathof might know of it.
“This is going to be the best wedding ever. I am so excited. You know I love you more than anything right?”
“Of course and as I said no more than three minutes ago, I love you too. It is so good to see you happy.”
“So…who’s going to be your second?”
“My Man of Honour? I haven’t decided yet. Maybe Balin?”
“I am not taking the bait again Wulf! You do know, now that you have proposed, we can’t see each other until our wedding day?”
“You’re kidding right? We no longer have to hide our affection and you are going all celibate on me? It has been a while Rigmor. I am finding it difficult to pull my pants on in the morning!”
“If that is how the barbarians do it then no problem. At least give me a kiss to celebrate.”
“Uhuh! None of that. I have a lot of organising to do… well actually, you have a lot of organising to do. When you have everything ready and arranged send your appointed second to talk to Cerys.”
“Before you go traipsing off to the Imperial City with Cerys I ask you to comply with what I asked her. You are to take a couple of guards with you. Not because you can’t protect yourself but a larger group might deter any attackers. Ask Lady Sigunn if you can borrow the sword maidens. I am sure they would not cramp your ladies shopping expedition. Perhaps then you can dump the tin can and go in something more comfortable. I am sure it would make any trying out of dresses a lot easier as well.”
Rigmor stared at me and a smile crossed her beautiful face.
“You know Wulf. Sometimes, just sometimes, you suggest something smart. Bye!”
“Take care of that flower Rigmor. Don’t let it go droopy droop droop.”
“And you make sure on our wedding night you don’t go droopy droop droop!”
“Pfft, I am no lady!”
With that my beloved smelt her flower, turned and almost skipped out of the door.
I resisted the urge to plead my case to The Divine. They must have a reason for this Red Diamond farce which I have a feeling has not gone as planned. It is not like I haven’t had to clean up their mess before. Mortals make mistakes but for monumental fuckups we can’t compete with the immortals.
It had crept past midnight. My second day as Emperor and I had a feeling it was going to be on horseback. Boy was looking a bit fat after a few weeks grazing so it will do him good.
I won’t have time to send invites to my friends. I will make sure there is enough time before the wedding for them to get here.
These were my thought as I left the cathedral and ambled towards the castle to wake up Freathof. Ironic that after the tongue lashing I gave them I still think he would know about Pilvi’s ring. I do not question their knowledge. Just how they present everything as fact when it is not.
I heard giggling and turned just in time to catch a glimpse of Rigmor and her co-conspirator running down the road towards her apartment. I wonder if Cerys is a follower of Boethia? It just does not gel with her compassion and joy.
I felt a bit guilty knocking on Freathof’s door. But I did not wake him. He quickly opened it when I identified myself and the room was well lit with manuscripts strewn all over the place. We quietly made our way outside as I felt like standing under the stars for a while. I could still hear their voices but not the words. One day they may come to me.
We stood on the rampart overlooking what was a battlefield not long ago. Freathof had been silent and waited for me to start.
“It is not why I brought you out here but the stars. They sooth me and they speak to me. My mother told me that one day I would be able to talk to her and others in Aetherius but for now they are just murmurs, like in a busy inn or tavern.”
“I must say your Majesty that your life is full of wonders. Speaking to Gods, travelling to other planes of existence, seeing things few mortals will ever witness.”
“I would give it all up in a heartbeat if it meant Rigmor and I could enjoy a quiet life on some small farm somewhere. Even wonders start to pale when you are looking over your shoulder all the time. Wondering who is next to try and kill you or those you love. I have had so many assassins try their hand and that was before I was Emperor.”
“I can’t even begin to imagine such a life Majesty.”
“But yes, I have seen wonders. The Forgotten Vale where I met the last Snow Elves. The Soul Cairn where the mysterious Ideal Masters deal with mortal and immortal Necromancers for knowledge. Apocrypha which is in essence an endless realm full of countless books and manuscripts. So many places and you will be able to read about them all Freathof as I have kept a journal of every day of my time as the Champion of The Divine. I will be asking for my original copies to be sent here for Rigmor to read before we marry. She needs to know more about what has shaped me.”
“I imagine there is a lot that is not general knowledge Majesty?”
“The average citizen may have difficulty sleeping at night if they knew how often mortals like myself thwart the plans of immortals who would enslave or kill them all. But I have decided people have the right to know. I can’t stand knowledge being hidden. For many reasons I will not go into now.”
“Is there something you wish to ask about Majesty?”
“Yes and I hope this proves I do value your advice and knowledge. Have you heard of Pilvi-Hinnesh?”
“That is quite a story to tell. I am sure you are aware of this history but please Majesty, I need to go though it to remember details that may be important.
Now then, Pilvi-Hinnesh… yes. She was an Ayleid Princess when the Wild Elves ruled Cyrodiil during the middle Merethic period through to 1E243 when Saint Alessia’s slave revolt finally controlled the province.
Originally the Ayleid worshipped the Aedra and their main god was Auri-El. But slowly over time the majority of Ayleid ended up worshipping the Daedric Princes. Pilvi-Hinnesh remained loyal and devoted to Auri-El and took the last of the Aedra worshipping Ayleid out of Cyrodiil and settled in Hammerfell.”
“Wait, that is not the history I know. The last Aedra worshippers fled after they were attacked in what was called the Scouring of Wendelbek. They fled to Black Marsh, not Hammerfell. That was 1E198, before the slave rebellion. That was the end of war between the Aedra worshippers and Daedra worshippers called the ‘Narfinsel Schism.’”
“That is why this is a legend and not in the history books fed to the masses. You know how that works Majesty.”
“Of course Freathof. There I was going on about hidden knowledge and then acting surprised when something is not in the official accounts. Please continue.”
“Those who fled to Black Marsh were the Barsaebic Ayleid. They were very martial in their defence of their Aedra Gods. I do not know if Pilvi-Hinnesh’s people had a tribal name but it is assumed they were pacifists and did not partake in the armed conflict. So soon after the end of the Narfinsel Schism she moved her people out of Cyrodiil and into Hammerfell. There they built a city for themselves away from the insanity of the King who was madly in love with Pilvi. Before you ask which King, as there were still many Ayleid Kings then, it is not recorded. However the involvement of Molag Bal indicates it was most likely King Anumaril of Abagarlas.”
“He came to a sticky end fighting King Cenedelin of Delodiil, a Meridia worshipper. That is what weakened the Ayleid so my mother’s slave rebellion had a chance. Deadric Princes and their worshippers always turn on each other. That is their nature.”
“As history shows repeatedly Majesty.”
“Have you even wondered why I call them The Divine and not The Divines?”
“As a matter of fact I have. I assume it has something to do with their nature?”
“The Daedric Princes form alliances, break alliances and fight each other constantly. They all have different objectives. Some want to subjugate mortals and live on Nirn as God Kings. Some want to eliminate all mortals and turn Nirn into a Daedric playground. Some want to destroy Nirn and Mundus altogether. The Divines work together towards one objective. That objective being Nirn and Mundus continue to exist and that mortals control their own destinies. During the ongoing conflict with the Daedric Princes they have had to shape destinies, such as mine and Rigmor’s. Even Saint Alessia told me she was at their mercy which, if you look at the slave wars, she was. Because they have one objective I do not consider them as individuals. By referring to them as a singular, ‘The Divine’, I remind myself they are working together. That is their strength and one I hope to emulate when preparing for the Akaviri invasion.”
“A mighty undertaking indeed. Petty self-centred politics are your biggest enemy to achieving that goal.”
“And don’t I know it. It will be a nightmare. Please continue Master Freathof”
“Pilvi and her followers built their city even as the King promised her everything if she would only come back. He even promised to forsake the Daedra if only she would love him.”
“That would be impossible then and an empty promise. There was no barrier to keep the Gods from exacting divine retribution. The Daedric Princes had no qualms doing so. I do not recall Aedra doing so.”
“Correct Majesty and that leads onto the fate of Pilvi and her people. The spurned King arrived at the city Pilvi’s people had built, Nayasel, and tried one last time to win her heart. Even throwing himself at her feet and practically begging for her to return to Cyrodiil with him. When she spurned him this time he called upon the powers of Molag Bal in his rage. Nayasel means ‘The Hall of Life’ and it is said Auri-El blessed the very ground Pilvi walked upon. In two nights Molag Bal buried the city deep beneath the earth. The ground shook and quaked and it is said tremors could be felt as far away as Morrowind.”
“Molag Bal has snatched complete cities before and transported them to Coldharbour. This would not have been much of an effort I would think!”
“And you hit him with a mace!”
“I have done more than that in the past to annoy him. But he can’t hate me any more than some of the other Daedric Princes. The fact I am still alive shows how people need not fear them at all if they refuse to obey or cower to them. Mortal assassins may be sent to punish you but that was the same when I upset the Thalmor and even The Synod. Please continue.”
“Nayasel, the ‘Hall of Life’ was buried, forever gone from this world and as a last deranged act of madness the King built another city on top of it. He called the new city ‘Nagasel’. The ‘Hall Of Death’”
“So it looks like my trip to Nagasel might have a dual purpose.”
“Please explain your Majesty.”
“I need to find Pilvi-Hinnesh’s ring. Rigmor suddenly wants it for her wedding ring but I think Lord Akatosh also wants me to find it. Normally I would be given a ‘Divine Task’ but I don’t think he can do that at the moment. So as usual some meddling has been done to ensure I go looking for it.”
“I have never taught her about the legend of the White Gold, Diamond and Ruby encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh. It is not in common texts. An archaeologist or treasure seeker might find reference to it buried in amongst dusty esoteric tomes of an ancient library. As you saw when you glimpsed into my room, I spend most of my spare time digging through such dusty tomes. In the pursuit of knowledge of course as I am not one to risk my life in ancient crypts and buried cities.”
“Thank you Freathof. You have been most helpful. I will immediately embark on my journey. If my Queen arrives back in Bruma before I do, tell her I am busy organising the wedding. That is sort of the truth is it not?”
“Close enough Majesty.”
“Goodnight and good luck Majesty.”
With that the old scholar went back to his dusty tomes or even some sleep. I wearily headed for Rigmor’s apartment where we had hitched the horses earlier in the day. I could hear laughter and merriment coming from more than two female voices. I hope the Imperial City can withstand their forthcoming shopping spree.
I quietly unhitched Boy who looked at me as if I was insane. I whispered to him, “Want to take a nice ride across the breadth of Cyrodiil?” He shook his head and stamped his feet in a display of negative enthusiasm. “Well too bad because neither do I. Just relax and think of the Queen.”
I wearily climbed on board and set off to find two artefacts. One whose importance and power I mostly knew. The other important to Lord Akatosh so might be just as powerful.