Cyrodiil Wilderness, Nagasel, Nayasel: Another Akatosh stuff up.
It was about 1:30 in the morning when I rode out of the Bruma gates. I had been going non-stop since 6:00AM the day before so in reality I had less than six hours sleep since escaping The Void. I don’t know if it because I was technically dead for six or seven days but I had done much longer stints with no sleep without being this fatigued.
I decided the take the route Sorella, Rigmor and I used the first time I went to Table Mountain. It took less effort to remember the way than to look at maps and figure out another route.
I found one of the Ayleid ruins I remembered from that walk and knew the treehouse was not far.
When I reached the treehouse I realised I could go no further and tethered Boy making sure he had plenty of grazing within reach.
After climbing to the first level I cast a lightening rune spell. It would fry anybody who tried sneaking up on me and the noise of it triggering or the accompanying screams would wake me.
On the second level I lay my bedroll out, extinguished my lamp and fell asleep on top of the thick hide and fur. Worse thing you can do if alone is climb into your bedroll as it is hard to defend yourself in a cocoon.
When I woke about 1:00PM I could hear Boy below so obviously no thief had claimed him. The lightening rune was removed on the way down and I felt I was back to full fitness.
Boy enjoyed some oats even though he seemed to have grazed well. It is a long ride and he needed to have the extra energy.
With my back to the tree I sat and wrote the journal entry for yesterday.
At about 2:00PM we set off once more. I felt no urgency. The chance of Camaeus not already being in possession of the diamond was pretty slim. Even though he was with us till the morning of the parley with Sethius he would have had some troops searching Nagasel as soon as all Imperial Troops had left or even before. They might have volunteered to retrieve bodies etc.
His troops had a week to find it before I even set out last night.
I should have figured it out. His eagerness to be at the front all the time was suspicious. I don’t think Camaeus had time to find it between Sorella destroying the gem and everybody scrambling to get out before Molag Bal arrived. It is a large chamber and full of fairly deep water. I knew a diamond was needed for the Amulet of Kings in Morag’s plans but did not reach the logical conclusion it would remain behind after the Bridge of Sighs was destroyed. If I had made the connection and stayed to search I would have collapsed somewhere in that chamber rather than at Quintus’ camp with unknown repercussions.
Logically the Thalmor must have the diamond. My main interest was the ring. Why was that important? Was it an artefact of power or just bait to get me back to Nagasel for some yet to be revealed reason?
I saw regular patrols of mounted Imperial Troops so any smart bandit would stick to the wilderness. So a smart Emperor would stick to the roads and that is what I did rather than continuing to follow the route I walked with Sorella and Rigmor.
Many of the troops saluted me as General. A few stood dumbfounded as their Emperor trotted past without an escort. I had to adamantly refuse an offered escort on more than one occasion. I could protect myself against the bandits. The small outlying farms are a prime target for desperate men. The patrols in the vicinity of any holding were their best defence.
Myriads of things crossed my mind on the ride and it flipped from subject to subject at a rapid rate. I started to take more notice of the beauty around me and once again felt Cyrodiil was more home than Skyrim ever was.
I reached the ridge where Casius had looked down upon the spot Ragnar and the Sons of Talos had rescued him and tens of thousands of refugees. They were being systematically slaughtered by the Thalmor. Barbaric yes but the Snow Elves, Ayleid and Minotaur did not die out of natural causes. Man and Mer are both capable of mindless slaughter.
In the far distance I could see Quintus’ camp and some smoke indicated it still had troops stationed there as the patrol leaders had informed me. I would not be surprised to find Quintus in residence. With the New Imperials returning to banditry the Hammerfell border region was probably going to be swarming with them. Quintus was using the camp as a convenient staging area for patrols. Technically he is trespassing on foreign soil but I doubt anybody would object.
Fog rolled in and cut visibility to a few meters. Ideal ambush conditions so I slowed Boy down and proceeded with extra caution.
The sound of the waterfall reached me and curiosity got the better of me. I rode down the track where Rigmor and I had hurried in anticipation of some intimacy what seems like a long time ago. Instead of celebrating our love we had The Divine attempt unholy rape only to be thwarted by Kintyra already in residence. Father then berated me like I was actively planning against them or trying to stop them. Why they thought that is still a mystery to me.
The shrine to Lady Mara stood pristine and well maintained as Rigmor had observed. A few dark spots of my blood and that of Rigmor were on the steps and the sand close by. I wonder how long ago she had instructed her followers to build this shrine. How long ago she agreed to participate in the rape.
I turned Boy away with tears streaming as I realised why Rigmor could not just accept my faith in my Gods. Rape is an unforgivable sin yet I probably seemed too blasé about what they did. The love I felt from my Mother after escaping The Void was true and strong and washed away all doubt I had about the purpose of their meddling. Rigmor had no such insight. Just the man she loves seemingly brainwashed by anonymous Gods who never spoke to her and would probably discard her once she had incubated their Chosen One. I owe her an apology. We are so much alike Rigmor and I. Full of self-doubt and low self-esteem.
I quickly turned my thoughts to others things as darkness threatened to cloud my mind once again.
I approached the gates to Quintus’ compound which opened to a cry of, “All men to attention. Emperor in residence!”
The few men there, including those who came running from the privy still pulling their pants up and another with a half shaved face, formed a ragged line which soon straightened under the command of a sergeant who looked like he ate recruits for sustenance.
Quintus came running out of the command tent, came to a screeching halt and somehow managed to execute a perfect salute.
I used a bit of Thu’um to emphasise, “At ease men. You are dismissed.”
A few looked uncertain till the sergeant shooed them along.
Quintus stood erect with his hands behind his back waiting. I saluted him and told him to meet me in the command tent and continue his meal if I interrupted it. The clue was in his hands behind him. He was trying to conceal a half-eaten lamb chop.
I dismounted and walked boy to one of the paddocks and proceeded to give him a good rub down and a healthy serving of oats. I could have told him he was going to the knackery and he wouldn’t have cared once he eyed the oats and started munching away.
I have no doubt the Emperor looking after his own mount would be a matter of discussion over the fires at night and the tale embellished over time to something heroic. The same would probably happen if I used the privy and took a dump. Of course it wouldn’t smell and probably be made of gold.
I entered the command tent and Quintus went to rise so I waved him down and sat wearily into a chair. Maybe I overestimated my health after that sleep earlier in the day.
“Okay Quintus, I am the same Wulf you knew before I became Emperor and I know the importance of the chain of command was needed to be displayed in front of the troops but they can’t see or hear us so can we please cut the formal shit and just talk.”
Quintus laughed, poured me a mug of, Talos forgive me, milk which I happily swilled down as if it was the finest mead.
“This is a lightening visit as I have to search Nagasel for some important artefacts. So let me summarise what has happened for you;
- Sethius ordered Blackwell and the Penitus Oculatus troops to kill Rigmor and I. That would have broken the sacred laws of parley so Blackwell refused and so did the troops.
- Eventually Sethius took matters into his own hands and attacked me in his desperation. I duly cut his head off and am now Emperor.
- Rigmor is the High Queen of Cyrodiil and will be Empress and High Queen of Tamriel when we marry next week.
- I had the three ringleaders executed and two of their wives are now Countesses and Casius will be the new Count of Leyawiin if he accepts my offer.
- You will remain on the border of Hammerfell for now as the New Imperial scum have returned to banditry and we expect further instability in this region as the politics get messy.
- I understand you are using this as a central point for new patrols protecting a large area against the now very well armed, thanks to Sethius, bandits. I have no objection to it being just inside Hammerfell and unless asked by the authorities in this region to skedaddle it will remain so.
Any questions and if so make them brief as I must move onto Nagasel straight away. Oh, and call me Wulf inside this tent and anytime the troops can’t see us!”
“Nothing that won’t wait your Majes… I mean Drag… ahh… Wulf…”
“Have the Thalmor troops been active inside Nagasel since the battle.”
“Yes. A platoon was left behind after you collapsed and we left to start the campaign against the Counts and Sethius. They apparently took almost full responsibility for gathering the enemy dead for burning and our troops for burial or return to their homeland. The last of them left two days ago.”
“You have no troops stationed near Nagasel?”
“No. After the casualties inflicted there and during the recent march on the Imperial City I could not waste troops guarding an empty building against tomb raiders and the curious. Is there a reason I should have?”
“No Quintus, none at all. I am just preparing myself for what I might encounter there.”
“Do you need some men to accompany you?”
“No Quintus. I am more efficient working solo on such things. I doubt there will be anything to trouble me much and I can call on allies, including Dov, if I need to.”
“Can I ask why you never used them in battle while in Cyrodiil?”
“I could have unleashed the full force of a Dragonborn on the enemy but innocents would have got caught in the carnage. Counts who were sitting on the fence may have joined the coalition against us. I deliberately involved as few troops as possible to avoid it escalating into a larger conflict. Even then the best Leyawiin could throw against us was quickly decimated by me and Yngol’s troops slaughtered the New Imperials like they were raw recruits. You know they were no match for your troops no matter their numbers. The best trained infantry in the world against town guardsman and common bandits in pretty uniforms.”
“Yes, you kept emphasising that when we were talking strategy. You seemed very relaxed about multiple fronts or being flanked.”
“It is not just training Quintus. We were fighting for justice and home. They were fighting for greed and the whims of their commanders. If the Akaviri ever land that is what they will be up against.”
“We will have to harden our men against the horrors of fighting the undead and the vampiric troops. They did well in Nagasel but they did not have time to think and the horror was of short duration as we slaughtered them. A long campaign though?”
“We will address all this soon Quintus. I must go to Nagasel now. I have to return to pick up my horse and do not expect to be more than a day. If two days go by I request you send a sizeable force to come look for me.”
“Will do and good luck my Majesty for that is who you are as well as being my friend.”
“If duty calls and you are stuck out here and miss the wedding and coronation don’t worry, I will send cake by courier.”
Quintus laughed and I headed out of the compound.
It was about 7:30 and the fog was still fairly thick so ideal conditions for sneaking. I wish I had my old armour with me as the Guardian General getup was not as good for this sort of undertaking.
As I slowly walked past the muster point for the attack and then through the now empty defences my mind decided to replay the screaming and shouting and cries for help and pleading to Gods and the calling of mother’s names as the slaughter followed me up the mountain. Casius never revelled in describing the violence. Yngol did. I would just rather forget it but I can’t and that is good as it keeps me focused on minimising the bloodshed.
I passed the point where I killed a young man and my mind had listed him as number 3000 on the list of mortals I had killed to that point. No idea how accurate that was as fireballs and cyclones and chain lightning etcetera kill many that I never notice or see. He was the 3000th whose face I could recall in graphic detail as my weapon or magic or gift from Akatosh sent them to the afterlife.
I am afraid that as Emperor I will have to order troops into battle without me being there. All I will know is an objective on the map and not be able to control the amount of collateral damage and unnecessary violence that will occur. We can instil particular values into our troops but when they see and experience death all around them they can lose their compassion and all members of a region, territory, country, religion or race become the enemy if they bear arms or not. The extinction of the Minotaur, Snow Elves and Ayleid show what that leads to.
My mind was dangerously wandering when I needed to concentrate. The appearance of a statue of Lord Akatosh brought me back to the here and now.
I listened as I slowly crept up the stairs and heard voices. When I reached the top I saw men huddled around a fire. They would be night blind from the flames and were making way too much noise.
I contemplated using a shout or magic but decided to minimise the risk of alerting any nearby enemies so knocked an arrow and started the slaughter.
I killed seven with seven arrows in seconds. The last dropped dead feet in front of me. I had not used my bow much recently and was mildly surprised at how efficient a weapon it was. I searched the bodies for information but nothing useful like assassination orders or letters to friends and family.
I stood at the entrance to Nagasel and cleared my mind of any questions about why I wasn’t told this or that or my mini breakdown and unfair treatment of Rigmor in the cathedral and zoned in on my ‘Most lethal killing machine in all of Tamriel’ mode. I knew there would be no Thalmor but how many tomb raiders were in there? There was only one way to find out.
The place was eerily quiet but I kept my crouch and moved slowly. It was not long before I found evidence of Thalmor activity. A makeshift bridge had been made where the stonework had collapsed after the Bridge of Sighs went boom.
If they hoped to find the diamond on the platform where I battled Molag Bal they would have been disappointed. There was the first explosion when Sorella shot the crystal and another when I hit Molag Bal with Scourge. A small item like the diamond would have been flung far and ended up in the deep water that filled the cavern under the platforms and bridge. I think it would have been a long and frustrating search.
Once again bandit type scum gave me all the advantages by announcing their presence with loud and unnecessary banter. It seemed they were looking for some woman or girl. Probably another tomb raider who cheated them I thought at the time.
Five of them, five arrows, all dead in seconds. I searched them and around the platform and found nothing useful.
I heard the unmistakable sound of somebody crossing the makeshift bridge. I gave pursuit and saw a small woman standing on the opposite side. She had rigged the bridge to release its anchors at my end so it fell and limply hung on her side. She decided that was the end of the pursuit of the big guy in the Imperial Officers uniform and turned and walked away.
She had not drawn a weapon even though she was carrying a bow so I did not shoot her in the back. Instead I did a full strength Whirlwind Sprint and tapped her on the shoulder.
She turned and to her credit did not flinch or show fear. She was a young Dunmer girl and if she was man and not mer I would estimate to her age to be late teens, early twenties. However a Dunmer could be many times that and appear no different.
She fired an opening salvo with, “Hey! BACK OFF! ‘cause you’d look completely fuckin’ stupid with an arrow sticking right out the middle of your face bucko.”
“Umm…you just witnessed me slaughter that lot in seconds and I had a clear shot at your back. If I wanted you dead we would not be talking so cut the bullshit OK?”
“Yeah? Well just keep your hands where I can see ‘em.”
“I don’t need a weapon or my hands to kill you but relax. I only wanted to ask you for some information, that’s all.”
“What sort of information? Come on, spit it out, I haven’t got all day!”
“I came here looking for a Red Diamond.”
“Uhuh, didn’t see nothing like that, although if I did you’d be the last to know about it.”
“Did you observe the Thalmor. Do you think they may have found it?”
“Well, they were sniffing around till a few days ago. Watched ‘em make that bridge over the drop. Many of them ended up diving in the waters and eventually one of them seemed to find whatever they were looking for as they all patted each other on the back and left.”
“Do you know how long they were here?”
“I arrived and watched them for five days. I don’t know how long they were here before that.”
“Thanks. That was useful information.”
“So… now I’ve answered your questions, you can go back the way you came and forget you even saw me.”
“No can do. I need to find the fabled city of Nayasel and as far as I know, you don’t own this place. It was…”
“… buried underground by Molag Bal’s lackey King who was spurned by the Ayleid princess Pilvi-Hinnesh.”
“So not your average tomb raider then. You can read!”
“What are you? An archaeologist or just some chancer looking for a quick septim?”
“Look at my uniform. I am a General of the Imperial Army. Look at my gold and silver sword. It is worth more than you will earn in a lifetime. Look at my bow. Made from Dragonsteel and once again priceless. Do I look like I need a quick septim?”
“I am also not an archaeologist but I bet I have been in more dusty tombs and crypts and visited more planes of existence than you have. Now who are you and what is your name?”
“Who wants to know?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“You never know ‘til you try.”
“I am Wulf Septim, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divine. Emperor of Tamriel and fiancée of the High Queen of Cyrodiil.”
“Hahaha! Nice try… hahaha. You and I… we’re gonna get along…”
“Your right. I’m actually Sheogorath on holiday. Actually he was quite nice apart from threatening to flay me for all eternity. And you are?”
“I’m an archaeologist… come on, this way.”
We walked into the cavern full of shallow water were we had encountered Morag’s crack troops and slaughtered them days earlier. She stopped and pointed to a huge tree as if I might not have noticed it.
“See that tree? It has something to do with the old legend. Nayasel was built around a “Tree of life”. Yeah, I know, not exactly original as far as legends go.”
“It looks almost identical to the Eldergleam Tree. It gave me a sapling to replace the dying Gildergreen in Whiterun. It grew so fast it is probably this size now after just a couple of years.”
“My guess is if there’s a way below into the old city, if at all there is one, we should look for some kind of opening or break in the wall or floor.”
“Genius! Pure genius! I would never have thought of that! I was going to look for a sign that said, ‘This way to Nayasel’”
She didn’t respond to the sarcasm and simply said, “You check over that side. I’ll check over this side.”
When she turned her back I gave her a precise salute then crisply turned and headed for my designated search area.
After couple of minutes she yelled out, “Hey Dragon Boy, I think I found something.”
I walked over to find her standing in front of a cave entrance.
“See this. This could lead to somewhere. You first, I hate caves!”
“An archaeologist who hates caves? A bit like a dragon who hates heights or a pirate scared of water or a Nord who dislikes mead. Perhaps this is not your calling? By the way, don’t call me Dragon Boy.”
“I am Dragonborn!”
A Dunmer who likes crawling around in Ayleid ruins and talks like my beloved. Can’t be many of them around. Could it be her?
“You remind me of somebody.”
“Oh yeah, who?”
“Someone very special to me. My fiancée.
“Rigmor, High Queen of Cyrodiil.”
“Rigmor huh… That’s some fancy name.”
The way her eyes briefly widened was the clincher. She knows Rigmor. This was Loona, her childhood friend. I was willing to play the game for a bit longer.
She pointed to the cave and said “Let’s get moving.”
After few steps she made the brilliant observation, “This is promising, this could be our way in. That way, follow the eternal flames.”
“Do I have to? I thought I would turn left through the solid rock or right though the other solid rock. Straight ahead along the tunnel it is then. See the spider webs. Stand back a bit as I will be casting lightning to take care of them and I am pretty immune to their poison. You, I assume, are not immune to electricity or poison.”
So we moved along at a good pace with me zapping the spiders as they came and making the air smell like ozone and with roast arachnid.
We eventually came to a cavern with plenty of Ayleid architecture at odd angles.
Suspected Loona said, “I think we’re on the right track.”
“So you never said why you are here… looking for the lost city I mean.”
“To find a ring.”
“I heard of that. The white gold, diamond and ruby encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid princess Pilvi-Hinnesh.”
“Try saying that after a few bottle of ‘Ye Olde Special Brew”! But yeah, that’s the one.”
“Are you some kind of treasure hunter?”
“No, although they are opening a museum in Solitude in my name to display all the artefacts I have found. Lord Akatosh sent me but really I want it for Rigmor.”
“Wow, she must be really special to you.”
“I love her with all my heart. We are one. One heart, one soul, one destiny.”
“Where’s she from, this Rigmor?”
“She’s from Bruma.”
“Are you for real?”
This was fun so I played along a bit more.
“Why, is that a problem?”
“Nothing. Forget it. Come on.”
“Watch out for those loose Ayleid stone blocks archaeologist lady. I know a little girl who got her foot stuck under one. Her Daddy had to come rescue her and he was so mad.”
We continued down another short corridor and came to a large cavern with a destroyed Oblivion Gate dominating one corner of it.
Loona ran up to it and exclaimed, “Shit man, look at all those dead. There must have been one helluva battle here… but what could have the power to do that?”
I took a close look at the corpses. Their skin melted together then they were almost instantly carbonised. I had seen the same when I had called Durnehviir or Odahviing to fight by my side.
I said to her, “I have seen similar. Dragonfire did that. A very powerful dragon I would say. Looks like they were Molag Bal minions from Coldharbour. Pilvi and her tribe had some powerful allies come to their aid.”
She then walked up to a shimmering barrier of some type and said, “Here it is! Wow! Check this out. There must be something we’re missing. This is totally so fucking amazing.”
I walked up to the shield and tried to detect any dweomer. There was none but if it was Daedric I would not know. I took a risk and placed my hand on it. I recognised the same power that hummed through Auri-El’s bow.
I said to Loona, “This wall was made by Lord Akatosh. Nobody can pass through it. He would have had to be here to create it. Back then he could have appeared as an avatar quite easily. No brave Martin Septim using his Dragonblood and Amulet of the Kings in a sacrifice. His presence would also explain the dead piled up over there. That would have pissed of Molag Bal!”
There was a large symbol of Auri-El on the floor. Similar in design to what the Snow Elves use. I walked up to it an instinctively knew what it was. I had encountered one before.
“To ensure only himself or one with Dragonblood blessed by him could lower the field he made this, a Blood Seal. Watch.”
Loona looked on fascinated as I pulled out a knife and cut across my palm. As soon as my blood hit the symbol a light appeared and the shield vanished.
Loona ran up to a solid stone wall with “Fus Ro Dah” written in Dragon Runes.
She asked, “You know anything about these ancient runes?”
“Since I am half dragon I would hope so. They are the Words of Power that make up the ‘Unrelenting Force’ Shout.”
Loona was starting to catch on I was actually Dragonborn.
“You heard me use the Thu’um when I crossed the gap when you ruined the bridge. It was still echoing when you threatened to put an arrow in my face.”
I used a bit of Thu’um and said, ”daar los drog bormahu miiraad. Bo!”
Loona said, “What?”
I replied, “That was Dovahzul, the dragon language.”
“That is Lord Akatosh’s door. Move!”
“If you do not want to end up an interesting smear on the wall then please move out of the way. Preferably stand behind me for your safety. Oh, and I would advise holding your hands hard against your ears.”
With that Loona said, “Fine” and moved to stand behind me and blocked her ears as well as she could.
After studying a word with Paarthurnax and gaining some knowledge from one of the Black Books my Unrelenting Force Shout was about four times its original strength. It was enough to disintegrate most mortals hit by it. I used everything I had on the wall.
Loona fell to the floor behind me and the cavern resonated for many seconds. I expected to see a blasted pile of rubble in front of me. Instead a huge stone slab slowly slid upwards into the ceiling.
I helped Loona up and she shook her head and exclaimed, “Whoa! Holy fucking shitballs Dragon Boy. You weren’t shitting back there. You ARE Dragonborn!”
“Duh! I am also the Emperor in case you forgot and your friend is the High Queen of Cyrodiil.”
She did not acknowledge me as she stared open mouthed into the lost city of Nayasel.
We both stepped inside a small distance and stood still and took in the vista for a minute or so. Then we slowly headed further in.
Loona suddenly stopped and said, “Dragonborn, wait.”
I turned to her and asked, “What is it?”
“I’m sorry I denied you.”
“Forget it. Some random person you just met in a dingy, dusty tomb says, ‘Hi there. I am the Dragonborn and the Emperor’. I wouldn’t believe me either. But that would be talking to myself and that is the first sign of madness. Have you met my invisible rabbit George? Say hello to the nice lady George.”
Loona laughed and it echoed my beloved in its sincerity.
She said, “I’ll follow your lead yah? But let us take it slow and careful OK. If there is any truth to the legend of a lost Ayleid Princess you will probably find her in that temple. That’s where I would look.”
We slowly walked along the walkway and it was evident a great catastrophe had occurred. There was no damage to the buildings that I could see but there were thousands of graves.
Loona exclaimed, “By the Gods, look at this place. They survived, and must have decided to stay down here. Look at the Graves Dragonborn, so many graves. This is the saddest thing I ever saw.”
Gone was the levity of minutes before. Laughter probably fled this place in despair millennia ago.
I was staring straight ahead at the temple. Trying to harness strength from the symbol of Lord Akatosh on its summit. The idea of taking a ring from some desiccated corpse of an ancient princess was not appealing. Finding her grave and digging her up even less so.
A woman appeared briefly at the summit of the steps, turned and entered the temple again. Loona gasped, “What the… Did you see that? Was that a ghost or something?”
“It seems not all of them are dead. Are you coming to meet her or what?”
Loona sat down on a block, put her satchel to the side and firmly said, “I’m gonna stay here. You go ahead. I’ll wait for you to come and get me OK?”
“OK but if they turn out to be cannibals I am going to tell them how good Dunmer tastes slow grilled with mushroom sauce and an apple in their mouth.”
Loona tried but her death stare needed a lot of work to get anywhere near matching Rigmor’s.
I walked up the long flight of stairs and was met with an ancient tapestry depicting the Tree of Life. I asked, “Hello. Anybody there? Do not be afraid. I will approach with my hands away from my weapons OK?”
There was no reply so I stepped past the tapestry into a small throne room.
I stood still. I am a big man so it is hard not to look dangerous when standing there in armour bristling with weapons but I tried.
A timid voice in perfect Cyrodiilic whispered, ”Wait… please…”
An exotic looking mer emerged from behind a column. She had pale skin unlike all other mer I have seen. Not albino white like the Snow Elves. Like the most perfect skin artists like to paint portraits of princesses with. As she spoke my heart ached to hear such loneliness, such despair, such guilt and above all, forlorn hope.
“Are you a God? Is it you, have you come back for me Auri-El?”
She stood staring at me. I was at a loss for words as I stared into her eyes, her soul, and saw a flicker of hope.
She pleaded, “Should I be afraid?”
“There is no need to be afraid of me gentle lady. I mean you no harm. I am no God.”
“I waited… I waited like you said…”
I knew the answer before I asked. But my mind needed confirmation of the tragedy before me.
“May I ask, how long have you been waiting?”
She said “Oh….” and after a long pause said the word I dreaded, “Millennia.”
“You are Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh?”
Tears came unbidden. She did not have to tell me her story as it was self-evident but I would listen anyway and store it word for word with all her inflections and emotions and replay it repeatedly in my head as a way of preserving it.
“They are all gone now… a long time ago. What of the world outside?”
“You homeland is no longer jungle. It is grasslands and mighty forests and snow covered mountains. Not long after your city was buried the Daedric Prince worshipping Kings started turning on each other. King Anumaril attacked King Cenedelin who worshipped that traitorous bitch Meridia. King Anumaril and his follower were butchered and his cities were destroyed.”
A small flicker crossed Pilvi’s face. Confirmation enough that Anumaril was her insane suitor.
I continued, “Auri-El contacted my mother, a mortal slave of the Nedic race, and told her if she took up arms against the Ayleid he would aid her. The slaves revolted and many Ayleid nobles tired of the barbaric ways of their leaders joined her rebellion. Auri-El also provided her with two Demi Gods, one of the Minotaur race and another of man. Free people of the Nordic race from Skyrim also assisted and were terrible enemies of all mer. They had driven the Snow Elves, another Auri-El loving people, to extinction such was their insane hatred. Together they defeated the Daedric Prince kingdoms and united the lands under one Empire founded by my mother. This was less than 100 years after Nayasel was buried. Sick of the meddling of Gods on Nirn my mother asked a boon granted by Auri-El even though it hurt Aedra and much as Daedra. He created a barrier that stopped any God from manifesting on the mortal plain. We could still speak to the Gods, all of them, but the only real influence they had was persuasion. Mortal free will was the catalyst for the evils that plagued the lands after that and to this day. My Mother now resides with Magnus and others in Aetherius. The people of my Empire mostly worship Aedra but Daedric worship is permitted. There are nations of mer who are mostly peaceful and they worship nothing but Daedra. Akatosh is our name for Auri-El and he is chief amongst our Gods.”
I did not have the heart to tell her that Ayleid are basically extinct after the persecution by the Alessian Order. The cult that ruled for 2000 years after making up stories about what my Mother told them after her death.
She asked, “Did Auri-El send you to free us from this place? Because if he did… You are too late.”
“He sent me here but I did not come looking for your people. Nobody suspected there may still be living Ayleid here. Only a recent battle in Nagasel where Molag Bal was defeated and finally purged from his city were we able to look for and find Nayasel. Akatosh blessed me and I have his blood in my veins and was therefore the only mortal alive who could have removed his seal and opened the door.”
Pilvi registered no emotion at this news but simply said, “Come.” and then walked out onto the balcony.
Down below she saw Loona sitting and staring up at her. She asked, “Who is your little friend?”
“She is an Archaeologist and friend of my fiancée. She helped me find the city.”
“Well that’s wonderful. I haven’t spoken to anyone in such… such a long time. I would love to meet her.”
I pondered what that meant. Does she still think I am a God and she means she has not spoken to another mortal for a long time?
She made a gesture and Loona came sprinting as fast as she could towards us.
“Hahaha, look how she runs, the divines bless her little heart.”
I knew something was translating languages and had a good idea what. The divines she spoke of is a generic terms for Gods. Khajiit refer to their Gods as divines even though they worship both Aedra and Daedra.
That was probably the first time Pilvi had laughed in Millennia and it was pure joy at something so normal to you or I.
Loona finally reached us and her excitement was contagious. She gushed, “As I live and breath… by the Gods… oh. Please forgive me Princes, er, my lady. I didn’t mean to sound disrespectful.”
“Hahaha. That’s perfectly fine. Now… what is your name and where are you from?”
I think Loona and Rigmor speaking together when they are excited would be like two Skeever on Skooma chittering at each other.
Loona blurted, “My name is LoonaShadow I’m from Morrowind actually I was born in Bruma and my Dad owned a stable and I had a big thing with horses but he wanted to get rich so sold everything and we moved out many years ago but it didn’t help because he died…”
“Oh, I am so sorry to hear. You are an archaeologist?”
“Yeah well I studied in the library n’ everything and the scholar took me under his wing and he was also an archaeologist and taught me everything he knew then I bumped into the Dragonborn… and he was like ‘FUS RO DAH!’ and the gate opened but we thought a big fight had happened and all those dead burned bodies in the chamber and I always wanted to find the lost city of Nayasel and the city of life…”
“Well, now you seem to have found it… LoonaShadow.”
“… and I was kinda hoping you could tell us what happened.”
“Oh…you want to hear my story LoonaShadow? I am afraid it is not a very happy one…Many millennia ago my people forsook their Gods. The world as we knew it began to change. They turned to the Daedra for the power and riches they promised. As a result they became corrupt and perverse. Auri-El came to me in a dream and told me to lead the last of his truly devoted out of Cyrodiil and to build a new city away from the madness, away from the chaos and cruelty. We came here to Hammerfell and discovered the tree of life. It had wonderful, magical properties and we decided to stay and build our home on the top of the mountain. We called the city Nayasel, the ‘City of Life.’ And from the heights we could defend our new home. No one could touch us, no one could torture us or burn our children for sport. You see, my people had descended into darkness… Auri-El was broken hearted.”
Pilvi looked out upon her domain and continued, “This, what you see here, is all that’s left of our city after a mad King called upon his lord, Molag Bal, who buried us deep into the ground when I refused to accept his love. Molag Bal even sent his minions through an Oblivion Gate and we fought them heroically. But I wasn’t enough, the earth quaked as the city was forced deeper and deeper into the ground and it seemed all was lost. As we prepared to do what had to be done so all would not be taken alive… Auri-El appeared as a flame God, and avatar of a Dragon and he breathed fire down onto them, destroying the Oblivion Gate and the minions. Petrifying them into scorched effigies of rock. Forever frozen in time.”
Pilvi’s story was coming to its tragic end and I knew another catastrophic fuckup by a God had occurred. All because the First Dragonborn rebelled and Akatosh later helped my Mother with the Sacred Covenant.
Pilvi’s voice faltered as she concluded, “He created a seal to protect us and promised he would return to free us when it was safe to do so. He gave me this ring with a ruby containing a drop of his blood. As long as I wore the ring within the seal I would live forever.”
I may not have the New Red Diamond but that ring contains a Chim-El Adabal. Like the one given to my Mother, it could form the central stone of a new Amulet of Kings. One that could light Dragonfires and maintain the barrier if Martin’s should ever fail. Few laymen realise the original Red Diamond was in fact a soul gem as is the ruby in Pilvi’s ring. The New Red Diamond is also a soul gem but not a Chim-El Adabal.
Loona asked, “What about the others?”
“They all perished over time. We had no desire to live here trapped under the ground, not knowing if we would ever be able to return to the surface. If anyone knew we were alive down here, they would probably have found a way to capture us. A fate worse than death. So to save any suffering we had no children. It was better that way…But it was a self-inflicted wound. I realize that now. Auri-El had wanted us to flourish and I failed him. I betrayed us all and he cast me aside to forever suffer in remorse as punishment for my crime.”
Loona spoke before I and said, “You don’t know that. Maybe he couldn’t reach you…Isn’t that right Dragonborn?”
“I told you of the barrier made by Akatosh at the request of my Mother. That barrier prevented him returning to the mortal plane as effectively as it stopped the Daedric Princes. But he had mortal champions on Nirn like myself. Blessed with his blood and given the powers of the Dov. The first of these, Miraak, rebelled against his Lord and then was seduced by the power offered by Hermaeus Mora. He was probably the last Dragonborn who could have freed you but would not have obeyed Auri-El’s pleas to do so. My father was Dragonborn but either did not know of your existence or could not reach you. The battle with Morag Bal I mentioned only occurred about a week ago. Only after his defeat was the city once again reachable and Lord Akatosh sent me here at the first opportunity. If he knew you were still alive I do not know. He did not speak to me but my fiancée, my Queen, my beloved. He was full of such sadness and regret Pilvi. He is not a vengeful God. None of the Aedra are apart for that traitor Meridia. You were not being punished and you were not forgotten. You are free to leave now and once again speak to Auri-El and he will be most pleased.”
“So I can go home now?”
Loona replied, “Things have so changed now. Cyrodiil is totally different. You could come with us…couldn’t she Dragonborn.”
I did not say it aloud because Pilvi would be aware. She could come with us but by breaking that seal I had made her mortal once again. I had no idea if the years would catch up with her or if the ring will still protect her somehow but I knew she was mortal. If I replaced the seal she could remain immortal.
Loona did not wait for my reply but continued, “There’s peace in the world now… well mostly… Dragonborn can find you a place to live in the Imperial City, yanno… the Citadel.”
“Hahaha. You are so kind LoonaShadow. But I would probably stand out and get some strange looks in this robe.”
I answered, “Cyrodiil is very cosmopolitan. You would find robes based on that style suddenly adorning the wealthy who waste money on the latest fashion trends. But yes, at first it would be a curiosity.”
Loona piped up, “I have a spare rogue’s outfit… in my bag, dang it, I left it over there… wait here, I’ll be right back.”
Before I could say, “Pilvi is about two feet taller than you!” Loona was off on a mission to retrieve the clothes.
“Bless her. Yet she calls you Dragonborn. Are you an avatar of Auri-El?”
“No Pilvi. My parents were mortals but are now Gods. I was born a mortal and remain so. I am as corporeal as you. Auri-El has given me his blood but I am not him.”
“I know it must be you. Please don’t deny me…”
“I have always loved you. Why are you forsaking me?”
I tried hard to stop her but Pilvi was not listening. It would have been so easy to lie to her to ease her pain. But that would have been morally corrupt. I tried again, “Pilvi…”
“Have I not suffered enough? Please say you have come to take me home… Auri-El I beg you, please don’t leave me here alone.”
“Pilvi I just explained all of this. I am so sorry but I am not Auri-El and he is not punishing you and did not punish you. We are not going to leave you alone. We will wait till you gather some things and we can leave together. Please don’t cry. You will see I am correct.”
“I… I’m sorry, forgive me.”
“There is nothing to apologise for. Once we leave here you can decide what you want to do. I will do everything in my power to help you. I even know others who have worshipped Auri-El for millennia in isolation and are now free to roam Nirn once again. It can work Princess.”
“Did you break the seal?”
She was still confused but I will repeat things as many times as needed by Pilvi.
“Yes, and it is the gifts Auri-El blessed me with that allowed me to do so. Only his blood in my veins allowed the opening of the Blood Seal. I am the only mortal that could do so and was sent by him.”
“Then I must give you this.”
She offered me her ring. I did not know what would happen to her without it. I had already made her mortal. I stammered, “My Lady, no I couldn’t… not now…”
“Please… Pilvi is fine… Auri-El said I should give the ring back to him when he returned to me, or whosoever breaks the seal.”
I reluctantly took the ring and could feel the essence of Lord Akatosh within it. I placed it in the safest place I could, the magical satchel that held my journal.
“Your little friend returns… wait here while I gather my things.”
Pilvi walked past the tapestry and I watched Loona approach.
When she reached the top she ran right past me and behind the tapestry whilst blurting, “Pilvi, Pilvi! I got you something to wear, hahaha, you won’t get any strange looks with this on… Pilvi…”
Then Loona let out a cry of anguish, “NO!!!”
I rushed into the small throne room and Loona was standing over the body of Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh.
She exclaimed, “Fucking… fuck! Noooo!”
She turned with tears in her eyes and I stepped aside so she could leave the small throne room.
I knelt down and examined Pilvi. He skin was dry and brittle and there was little or no flesh underneath. I had seen many a similar mummified body in tombs and crypts over the years. It seemed that in the time it took to make these few steps her body caught up with the millennia of ageing held back by the ring and barrier. I had no doubt she was aware this would happen when she handed me the ring.
I gently opened the red pouch attached to her belt and it was empty except for her last testament which read,
I am the last and carry the burden of my people’s crimes but in my dreams I live in a paradise so real, so amazing. I am not alone and I am surrounded by those who love me, liberated from my lonely isolation, shrouded with happiness, warmth and laughter.
I walk among the meadow and let the grass gently brush against my feet. I watch the sun rise over the horizon casting long shadows through the trees. The stars the shone so brightly now fade into the azure of blue, born from a melting pot, two urns of silver and gold poured into a raging furnace.
My white gold city, untouched and shining, is alive while I reside in my desolation. I am comforted by the joy I shall feel to one again return home to the loving rapture of my kin. They call my name and I soar through the clouds, freed from the chains of my mortal realm. Exalted in my righteousness by my people left behind that carry me forward to endure the unendurable.
This then, my cruel fate I have learned to embrace, and rejoice in my wretchedness, my trembling despair.
I carry this testament for a time when I shall be free.
Let it be known I have waited for this moment all my life. To the weary traveller, or the anointed, whosoever that may be, who have found me undone…
Do not weep for me.
As I have ascended as promised to sit upon a gilded throne, united for eternity with my one true love.”
I did not weep as she, like the Half Brother I slaughtered, is now reunited with those she loves and soaring in Aetherius with them. Pilvi is an example, along with Knight-Paladin Gelebor and Areana Lenith, of the strength that comes from total belief in your chosen God. I think I will need such faith as we prepare for the Akaviri but how do I get it when so full of doubt.
I decided that it was disrespectful to leave her body, her shell, slumped in front of her throne for all eternity. The soul may have left but her physical remains still deserved due care.
I walked onto the platform and looked to my right. The glow told me what I wanted to know. There existed one of the greatest treasures of the Ayleid. A Great Welkynd Stone. It would have provided the energy to grow food, the medicines needed and even protect again unwanted pregnancies if that was the wish of the residents. It was the pinnacle of Dawn Magic and one of the rarest and most sought artefacts. Nobody was going to get their hand on it unless they were Dragonborn. I was going to seal the city again.
I walked toward Loona carefully looking left and right. I saw what I wanted on the left and quickly approached the young woman.
She stood to greet me and finished wiping some tears from her eyes.
She sniffled, “Why does everything I touch turn to shit?”
“None of this is your fault Loona. Lord Akatosh sent me here to release Pilvi from her suffering. She willingly handed me her ring as Auri-El had told her to do so. She knew it would kill her and she does not want you to weep.”
I held out Pilvi’s testament but Loona refused to take it.
“I can’t read it now Dragonborn. Maybe later when I have calmed down a little.”
“You won’t be able to read it later Loona. It is written in Ayleidoon. Pilvi has been speaking to us in that language and we have been speaking Cyrodiilic back to her. The Dawn Magic to enable this is powered by a Great Welkynd Stone. That was the magic that kept them alive, warm and fed. Not the Tree of Life.”
I held out the testament again and Loona took it.
I waited till Loona had finished reading and she handed me back the document then I asked her, “What are you going to do now?”
“I dunno, bum around?”
“I can take you back to Bruma with me. Rigmor would love to see you. You can even come to our wedding if you wish.”
“You’re kidding right?”
“Not kidding at all Loona but first I wish to check something out. Just wait a minute please.”
I made my way down to the tomb and it was empty. I yelled up to Loona, “I am going to place Pilvi’s body in this. I can’t leave it crumpled on the floor like that. Make your way down here if you wish.”
As Loona did that I went and collected Pilvi’s body.
Loona stood silent as I carefully placed Pilvi into the tomb then pushed the lid closed with a satisfying ‘thud’ as it locked into place. I then said a prayer to Lord Akatosh and bowed low before the final resting place of a remarkable woman.
We made our way to the entrance to the city and I asked Loona to be careful as I was going to seal it away again.
I did a less powerful Unrelenting Force Shout on the doorway and it slowly fell into place.
I then cut my palm and let the blood drip onto the Blood Seal.
The light went out and the barrier returned.
I said to Loona, “Safe from any tomb raiders once again. I am pretty sure the Welkynd stone had enchantments on it to protect against such lowlife but still, I hate the idea of anybody even corrupting that place with their presence.”
Loona nodded her agreement and we made our way out into the sunshine. Well, the fog.
We stopped in front of the statue of lord Akatosh and I said to Loona, “I bet many have tried to destroy it over the years and found it impossible. More than likely more Dawn Magic involved. After all, they did make my new home, the White Gold Tower.”
Loona was very subdued after reading the testament and the internment. I was sure she was full of questions and hoped she would feel comfortable asking.
“Do you have a horse nearby?”
“No, I was hoping to make some money out of this expedition to buy one.”
“Come on then. We will walk to the Imperial camp that is just over the river and you can choose one to ‘borrow’. If you like it after riding to Bruma I will sign it over to you as payment for your expert advice.”
“You can do that?”
“Emperor remember. Like DUH I can do that!”
“You will also get paid an extra consultation fee so you can go dress shopping for the wedding.”
“Pilvi wouldn’t have fitted in my spare set would she?”
“It would have been funny watching her try. She appreciated the gesture Loona. You made her laugh several times and that was a priceless gift in her last minutes. So thank you again.”
Loona was stuck for words which I thought might have been rare for her. She said nothing as we made our way to the camp where once again the men mustered to greet their Emperor. I dismissed them and we made our way to the stables. Quintus was off doing a patrol.
There was section where they placed horses whose riders had died in action. Loona looked at them and then to me and asked, “For real?”
“Yes, choose one.”
“Which one is yours?”
“He is over with the cows. He would not like this stuck up bunch of trained killers. They are war horses Loona.”
I could see she had an expert eye as she inspected a few that she fancied. She picked one with a shaggy brown coat, probably Skyrim stock. His name was “Kendov” according to the Cavalry Officer on duty.
“That means ‘warrior’ in the dragon language. Also means loyal and brave by inference.”
Loona was most pleased with her new horse and she selected a normal traveller’s saddle for him. She waited outside the gates while I collected Boy.
We mounted and I said to Loona, “Ask any questions you want as we go. About Pilvi, me, the places I have been. Anything you wish but I will let Rigmor tell you of her life since you last met OK?”
It was about 10:30AM when we set off for Bruma. There was a scream and a ‘whoa’ behind me. Kendov had reared up and Loona barely held on.
I laughed and said, “He is controlled by the knees, not the bridle. Can you do that as you just told him to kick whatever is in front of him in the face!”
“Oh! I think I remember how to do that from some I used to exercise for my father. Does that mean I can shoot my bow from his back?”
“Yes but not when I am near OK?”
The ride was uneventful. Loona would pick places at random to see if I had been there and listen to the story involved if I had been. I told her some stories of her childhood Sigunn and Rigmor had told me. She was embarrassed about how they met when she had stolen Rigmor’s doll. I told her I had orphanages with many children and it was not uncommon and not to be ashamed of something that led to a wonderful friendship.
Loona soon realised there was a dark history her friend lived and would be revealed when we reached Bruma. I could see she was getting concerned and I reminded her that she gets to see the ‘happy ever after’ part of the story. That put her at ease and the questions and stories continued unabated.
We reached Bruma about 8:30PM and I decided to billet the horses in the outside stables. We handed them to the Stable Master and apprentice to brush down and look after as we were both saddle sore and Loona was eager to see her friend.
I looked Loona in her eyes and asked, “Do you remember what Pilvi said about the ring?”
“Yes. That Auri-El’s blood is in the ruby.”
“Listen very carefully Loona. You are never to mention that to anybody or talk about it to Rigmor where others can here.”
“OK Wulf but why? Is it dangerous knowledge?”
“What do you know about the creation of the Amulet of Kings. Think about that and then tell me.”
Loona started mumbling to herself some passages from a book I remember reading. Then she looked at me and said, “WOW!”
“We have enemies that would do anything to get their hands on that ring. Not just mortal enemies either. My blood would do them no good as it is tainted by my mortal half. But that ruby and what is inside…let’s just say it would be payday for certain Daedric Princes.”
“That is frightening. And you and Rigmor live this precarious life?”
“Constantly but you will find Rigmor is much the same as when she was a girl growing up in Bruma. I will take you to her old house. She is staying there whilst we prepare for the wedding.”
We stepped through the gates and there was Casius, in the colour of Leyawiin already, and my beloved who I am seeing once again before the wedding. I suppose if she doesn’t talk to me the taboo is not broken? I dunno. Stupid traditions!”
Rigmor was in her tin can outfit for some reason. She looked at Loona and she blinked several times, shook her head, looked again and decided it was not an illusion.
“LOONA! How? Why?”
“It’s a long story. Wulf said you are living in your old house at the moment?”
“It’s a long story, pffft yeah right. Come on…hahahaha…”
The girls ran off to Rigmor’s apartment which will reverberate to women’s laughter for many hours once again. I wonder how the neighbours are coping?
Casius said, “Majesty.”
“Well met old friend. Or should I say Count?”
“I received a message, actually an invitation, but I wanted to speak to you about something.”
“First can you answer me a question. How come you and Rigmor were waiting for me? I heard no fanfares or anything else announcing our arrival.”
“The same way we communicate in a fleet. Semaphore stations have been built around the province since I mentioned them to Sethri and he mentioned them to Freathof. We knew you and an unknown young woman were approaching half an hour ago. Freathof wanted it up and being tested before telling you about it.”
“’Unknown young woman.’ That would have peaked Rigmor’s curiosity. No wonder she was wearing her armour and sword!”
We both had a good laugh but it was probably true!
“What do you wish to speak about?”
“Blackwell summoned me to the Palace. Of course I have heard the news. It’s slowly making its way throughout Tamriel as you probably guessed. I just wanted to be sure about my new appointment.”
“It is official old friend if you want to take up the offer. Mind you it will be a while before the urge to ram my sword thought the guts of anybody wearing those colours stops.”
“Of course I accept and it will suit me well. With my naval experience it makes perfect sense but please, how thoughtless of me… congratulations are in order.”
“Thanks Casius. You do know we are marrying out of love, not some outdated concept of ‘doing the right thing’ by Rigmor and our child?”
“Of course. Your love for each other has always been apparent. No more so than the time you punched me in the face.”
“You were being a jerk. At least I took my gauntlet off first and the bruising was hardly noticeable at the Battle for Whiterun.”
“Yngol noticed and one of my men told him what he saw. There is nothing worse than that brute belly laughing at you.”
“It has not stopped you becoming one of my most loyal and closest friends Count Leyawiin.”
“You know you will always have a loyal and trusted friend with me. If there is anything else you need just ask.”
“Come, let us walk to the keep. I need to speak to Malesam about something. Not my favourite way to end the day.”
As we walked we continued the conversation.
“Had he done something to offend you?”
“He is a devoted follower of Boethia. I am the Champion of The Divine. I can’t fully trust somebody who can, intentionally or not, become a spy for the other side.”
“Hasn’t Boethia aided you on several occasions?”
“Daedric Princes are, except for Azura, always willing to help if they can see a profit in it. Boethia has weakened one of her main rivals, Molag Bal, by helping us. That is her sole reason for doing so.”
“So far our goals have suited his mistress. If she asked him to betray us? That is a test of faith and I do not know what the outcome might be. All I can do is hope he remembers what I keep telling people. The Gods have no control over our free will. In the meantime he must accept he will not be privy to some things and if he probes for information he will be dismissed.”
We walked into castle and into the parlour. The only person there for a change was Cerys.
“Good evening Cerys. I take it you have met Count Leyawiin, the pirate scourge of the Sea of Ghosts.”
“Oh yes. A pirate? That was never mentioned!”
Casius said, “No longer young lady. I have received a full pardon, apology and back pay from The East Empire Company. Blackwell made them eat humble pie I do believe.”
“Majesty, I have the dress already. All that needs to be done is arrange the ceremony with the priest.”
“What date has Blackwell put on the invitations?”
“The seventh. Is that enough time to invite your friends from Skyrim?”
“Plenty if I get onto it first thing tomorrow. How was the shopping trip?”
“Chaos. Everybody wanted the prestige of outfitting their new Queen. There was no way she could try on every outfit so the four of us would model together. It was fun but I pitied the merchants.”
“And the bill? What part of Tamriel will I have to sell to pay for it all?”
“That is the thing Majesty. Everything was offered for free as they would be guaranteed record orders.”
“Ahh, graft and corruption. Sort of.”
Casius piped up, “Allow me to arrange things with the priest. I want to be of some use now I am here.”
Cerys said, “The guests already invited should be arriving in the next few days. Is there anything else?”
“Thank you for your assistance Cerys. It is most appreciated. Can you please tell your Father I wish to speak with him.”
Cerys went to fetch her father and I sat to talk more with Casius.
“Do you have a second?” he asked.
“Not as yet.”
“It would be my honour, to bear witness and hold the rings.”
“It would be my honour to have you as my second. So thank you Casius. Now down to business, is there anything you need for Leyawiin?”
“As you know, we probably have about four years to get ready. Leyawiin needs gold. The docks need to be repaired, the ships built. It was badly damaged by Sethius.”
“Yes and the bandit he made Count spent money on luxuries and not rebuilding the city. He was a most obnoxious man. I would have liked to have seen him dangling from the gibbet.”
“I mentioned to Blackwell about the possible involvement from Black Marsh, and High Rock. Blackwell seems concerned about a Lord Malakai. You know of him.”
“No. As I explained to Blackwell I am fairly ignorant of international politics. Please enlighten me.”
“Since the High King is ailing, he had been muscling in on dynastic affairs. Indeed, he had the King adopt a young wastrel, convincing him she was related and nobility. Malakai was not a friend of the empire under Emperor Titus Mede II and you know me, I always put two and two together.”
“And hopefully get four” I quipped.
“I mean, there is a High Rock connection to the Akaviri. We should be wary of him, and his ward, the young Princess.”
“I assume Blackwell is already investigating the Princess and the connections?”
“Yes, he is looking at the evidence and seeing if there are possible connections between High Rock and Black Marsh.”
“A lot of this was put into action a long time ago assuming Sethius would be sitting on the Ruby Throne. Like my appearance beside Rigmor caused Morag to panic and make mistakes, we can only hope my sudden control of the Ruby Throne causes similar panic in any conspirators in those provinces.”
Just then Malesam entered the room, ”Aaah, Count Varon of Leyawiin. I do like a happy ending.”
He sat and Casius replied, “Malesam, It has been some time. Actually, I don’t think we have ever met.”
“In that case, pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Malesam then turned to me, “Now then Majesty… I would imagine you’ll be summoned soon after the wedding to the Palace for the Coronation. I do hope my advice is welcomed as I thrive in situations like these. You know, who to watch out for, who might be a problem, that sort of thing… Ahem, can we speak privately.”
Casius stood, “Don’t worry, I’ll take my leave and go see the priest.”
Malesam said, “Make sure you let him know to move the pews. We are expecting a considerable amount of guests.”
I couldn’t resist and chimed in, “Also teach his Grandmother how to suck eggs whilst you are at it.”
Casius was still chuckling as he left the room.
Malesam asked, “Now then, did you find the diamond.”
“Why do you think one of my most trusted allies, hence the Count next to his name, should not be privy to this conversation? Do you think I am so stupid as to not know who to trust? Do you think I sat him down with me and called for you because I wanted him not to be in on the conversation?”
“I am sorry Majesty. I am not doing well so far in your estimation am I”
“Let me put the facts to you so you realise my dilemma. I let him leave because he does not need to hear me tear strips off you! Let me state clearly. There are many people I trust more than a follower of that bitch Boethia. Do I need to remind you of The Culling? Her plan to kill every man, women and child in the Imperial City so she could build a damn gate to Nirn? That is not ancient history! That was during the Thalmor occupation of the Imperial City during the Great War! You are the one who will not be privy to some conversations because intentional or not, you are a spy for the other side. Not in the upcoming Akaviri war but that fought by the Gods for the very existence of free will and even Nirn itself. That will inevitably be wound around the Akaviri crises. Do you understand Malesam?”
“This gives me no comfort but you have not been tested Malesam. If your mistress asked you to do something harmful to myself or Rigmor or our war efforts, what side would you take? Do you have the fortitude to refuse her? You do not know and either do I.”
“I… I do not know how to resolve this.”
“Use your strengths. Sniff out the bad eggs amongst the fawning and falsehoods. Help Blackwell protect Rigmor and I from the political games that we are ill equipped to handle during the beginning of our reign. If you feel you are not privy to something that may hinder your ability to do that, ask Rigmor or I and we will decide what to tell you. Sniffing around where I have deliberately kept you at a distance will see you removed from Tamriel. Understood?”
“Yes your Majesty.”
“As for the Red Diamond, let me summarise it for you. Camaeus has it. He had a week’s head start to look for it. Whilst we were fighting our way to the Imperial City he had men already scouring Nagasel for it. He knew it was there because Lord Akatosh wanted him to find it and not me. I will not go into the reasons why that may be. Lord Akatosh would now want me to have possession of it. There is no bargaining in this. The Dominion hand it to me or I go take it from them. Understood?”
“I will inform Blackwell of the same.”
“Count Camaeus had been promoted to envoy of the Aldmeri Dominion and will be at the coronation. In fact most of the royal houses and our own noble houses will be there. So this will be a chance to repair any fractures with Chorrol and Cheydinhal.”
“See this is an area where Rigmor and I need good solid advice. How do you approach the widows of those I had executed? I look forward to your sage advice on such things Malesam. Please, do not think I do not value your skills but I am not only the Emperor, I am first and foremost the Champion of The Nine.”
“If I may suggest your Majesty take some time between now and the Royal Union to relax. I am sure Blackwell and I will have strategies ready that we can discuss between the wedding and the day of coronation.”
“I have been very harsh on you and Freathof on several occasions and not just the last few days. I do not apologise for this. I do what is necessary for The Divine, Rigmor, Tamriel and the whole of Nirn. Contemplate on that and ask yourself if I have been correct with my criticisms on those occasions. Good night Malesam.”
“Good night Majesty.”
It was about 10:30PM when I got to sit in my room and write my final entry in the old journals and the first one as Emperor.
I finally crawled into bed about 1:00AM.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know it was to the laughter of a Princess once against amongst her people and free of any guilt and misunderstanding. Lord Akatosh had gifted me the true ending to the story of Pilvi-Hinnesh.