Bruma Cathedral, Bruma Castle: Wedding.
I was woken by knocking on my door and after a few second Casius barged in. I have warned people before that they risk getting turned into pulp or a pile of ash or have their head removed if they do not allow me to fully awaken. If I do not say to come in it is not safe to do so.
Lucky for Casius the green blur in front of me sounded so cheerful I hesitated stabbing it through the heart. I hate morning people!
“Rise and shine you most Royal Majestic Highness of Highnesses!”
“Yeah, wait for me downstairs Casius.”
“Will do. Make sure to wear something nice.”
He left the room and I staggered over to the piss pot but a particular part of me was looking forward to the wedding night which, any man will tell you, makes your morning constitution fairly difficult.
Did he really suggest I wear something nice? No Casius, I will risk life and limb by turning up at Rigmor’s dream wedding in rags.
I finally got Rigmor’s Best Friend to participate in his second most important duty, washed my hands and opened the parcel delivered yesterday afternoon.
It was a lovely outfit but I refused to use public money to pay for it. I am stinking rich in my own right and don’t need to leech of the taxpayers. I had a quick shave, donned the garb and headed downstairs.
Casius greeted me with a cheerful, “Excuse me good sir, have you seen the Emperor anywhere?”
“Have any of your troops ever tried to murder you? No? That is a surprise!”
“OK your Majesty, onto the business at hand. Cerys handed me the ring Rigmor wants to give you. Don’t ask to see it because that would ruin things. So hand me the ring you have for Rigmor.”
I handed Pilvi’s ring to him and said, “That ring is one of the most valuable artefacts on Nirn. Lose it and I will make you live with Balin for a month.”
“Hahaha. I will guard it with my life then!”
You can’t but help catch Casius’ good moods. It is like catching a yawn.
“Majesty, I just want to take this opportunity to wish you and Rigmor all the best.”
“Thank you Casius. I have received the report you did on needed repairs in Leyawiin and recommended ship building. The money will be forthcoming.”
“I understand a lot of stolen goods were ferreted away.”
“A lot of valuables that were taken from the people slaughtered by the border guards. We are setting those aside and hope to return them to family members. The next person I hear say Sethius was a good Emperor will join Robere and the others exhuming the bodies.”
“A grim subject just before your wedding Majesty.”
“Sorry, you are right. This is a day for joy and to make my beloved’s childhood wish a reality.”
“Everyone is waiting. Are you ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be. Thank you Casius for being my second. Meeko was my first choice but he would have swallowed the rings.”
“Majesty, it will be my honour. Meeko even allowed himself to be bathed. So a day for miracles it seems.”
As we walked through the streets to the Cathedral many citizens shouted greetings and congratulations and best wishes. One elderly gent admonished me with a “You look after our Lady Rigmor or you will answer to me!”
The people of Bruma were easy to like. They showed great courage during the recent events and seemed totally unfazed that Rigmor was now their High Queen. She was Rigmor and that is all they cared about.
We entered the Cathedral and it was fantastic to see my friends from Skyrim mingling and chatting to those from Cyrodiil. Not everybody I invited could come as the short notice meant the orphanages would have been left understaffed. They have all promised to be at the coronation.
Lydia, Celestine, Kharjo, Serana, Tolfdir and Urag were there. Right up the front and looking whiter than I can remember was Meeko. Sethri and he better behave. They can continue their flatulence wars elsewhere. Sethri has been impressed by Meeko’s mastery of the ancient art of ‘Silent but Deadly’.
The local priest has graciously stood aside to let Uravasa Mona, Senior Priestess and Primate of the Great Chapel of Mara in Bravil, to conduct the ceremony. In turn he has been awarded the great honour of spending some time in that revered place of worship where he will help supplicants to Lady Mara.
I had spent some time weeping with Uravasa yesterday as we sat and talked about what The Divine had planned at the waterfall. She told me that Lady Mara, in fact all of The Nine, were frightened of what the Akaviri invasion might mean for the mortals of Nirn.
I know The Divine are remorseful for that plan of Divine Rape. Rigmor is just starting to show so I think conception was the night in the cave full of ancient paintings. A beautiful place to make love and Rigmor felt free of all burdens for a while. A fitting place to create our daughter.
I did not ask why I had not been told about the Red Diamond. That is the past. Securing it is the future and she told me Lord Akatosh is adamant Camaeus had been instructed to hand it over.
I don’t think he would listen to The Priest anymore since I told him who it was. Not only that, he is a Thalmor full of typical arrogance. He would think he knows better than those he is supposed to worship.
I had thanked Uravasa profusely for the sage advice I received when at a loss on how to handle Rigmor and “Bobby”.
Uravasa was also one of the religious witnesses to my parentage. She, along with several others, asked their deities and got confirmation. It would be a foolish person to challenge the testimony of not only Priests of The Divine but also acolytes of several Daedric Princes.
When people first meet Uravasa they mistake her for late teens at the most. She is several hundred years old!
All these thoughts crossed my mind as I walked down the aisle and stared into the faces of friends. They have all helped shape my life since awakening on the carriage outside Helgen.
I stood at my appointed spot with Casius to my right. I could hear Meeko’s whine which is his “Hello”. I turned and said to him, “You look good boy.” He just grinned a goofy grin.
I turned back to Uravasa who said, “Welcome Majesty. It is a privilege and an honour to be the officiant in such a prestigious union. Are there any questions before we start?”
“No Primate, I am eager to begin.”
“Then let us begin.”
Music from somewhere filled the Cathedral and the doors opened.
I caught my breath as my beloved entered holding hands with a beaming Baa’Ren-Dar.
As they slowly walked up the aisle many smiles of welcome and love were momentarily replaced by frowns and a few gasps. Balin wept. I guessed Rigmor’s beautiful dress did not cover her scars and many may have heard of but never seen evidence of Thalmor brutality. That it should appear on the body of one so loved and loving is an indictment on them for all eternity.
Our eyes met and my heart leapt. On the very spot I am standing she had felt the overwhelming love of our Lord Akatosh. It is but a fraction of the love my Rigmor and I share.
Baa’Ren-Dar was full of pride for his adopted daughter. Although no official paperwork was ever signed, that is what she is to him for all intents and purposes. He looked at me with a huge smile which I find charming though some are perturbed by all those sharp canines. His fur and whiskers looked like they had been oiled and his hair was in the colonial style that many senior Khajiit adopt. His clothing was of the finest cut and it was a shock to see him not wearing a robe of some sort.
He let go of Rigmor’s hand and passed behind her to his designated spot to her left.
Rigmor stopped and stood next to me and our silence enveloped us. No pull of destiny or fate to remind us of our duties. She was beaming and her beauty consumed me.
The music stopped and Uravasa waited for the murmurs and coughing and sniffling to cease.
“We are gathered here today to witness this most holy union. To join in matrimony the Emperor, Wulf Septim, Dragonborn and Champion of the Divines, his most high majesty of Cyrodiil and the Empire, to Rigmor Fjonasson, High Queen of Cyrodiil, daughter of Sir Ragnar Fjonasson and Sigunn of Bruma.
We had discussed Rigmor’s preferred surname. There was no way she was going to be Morgan-Mede for her wedding! No political crap was needed in front of friends. On our travels she had expressed the wish to use her father’s surname and not the traditional “Ragnarsdottir” if she ever had the opportunity.
“If any amongst us should wish to bear false witness or object to this union then let it be heard now or forever hold your peace.”
Uravasa waited half a minute then proceeded, “It was Mara that first gave birth to all of creation and pledged to watch over us as her children. It is from her love of us that we first learned to love one another. It is from this love that we learn that a life lived alone is no life at all. We gather here today, under Mara’s loving gaze, to bear witness to the union of two souls in eternal companionship. May they journey forth together in this life and the next, in prosperity and poverty, and in joy and hardship. Do you agree to be bound together, in love, now and forever?”
As dictated by Mara’s sacred ritual I answered first, “I do.”
Then Rigmor answered, “I do.”
Uravasa then said, “His Majesty has requested the exchange of rings occur before the exchange of vows. I consulted with Lady Mara and she said he has his reasons and she did not object. So this is a first for me in hundreds of years of conducting the marriage rites.”
Rigmor said, “The Divines are slowly learning how stubborn a Dragonborn can be.”
This was met with laughter and good humour. Uravasa joined in and then waited for it to subside.
“Rigmor, would you please present Wulf with your chosen ring.”
Casius handed her the ring and Rigmor placed it on my finger with the words, “I give you this ring as a symbol of my undying love. With no beginning or end, it is a token of my commitment and devotion to you.”
I looked at it and gasped then asked, “Is this Ragnar’s ring? How?”
“He threw it to my mother as they dragged him away.”
I turned to Sigunn and said, “I am humbled Countess! I now feel that he is at least with us in some way on this day of celebration.”
I turned back to Rigmor and said, “I will wear this with pride and honour.”
I could hear more weeping from Balin. He has a good soul. I knew without looking Yngol would be giving him a death stare for being a, “Milk Drinker.”
Uravasa looked in Balin’s direction, smiled then prompted, “Your Majesty?”
I turned to Casius whose jocularity slowly turned to concern as he frantically frisked himself in search of the ring.
I whispered to him, “Balin’s house is near the Roxey. It is next to the lake. I have heard his mother makes the best pies but the abode is small so you may have to bunk with him. I hope he can find room amongst his Dragonborn memorabilia.”
“Now your Majesty, let’s not panic. I had it a moment ago… where… aha!”
He handed me the ring with relief on his face and a nervous, “Here it is… hehehe!”
I turned to Rigmor and she held out her hand. I was careful to conceal the identity of the ring as I slipped it on her finger. I moved my hand away and she stared at it and gasped, “Is that? I can feel his presence Wulf!”
“I present to you the ring of the Ayleid Princess, Pilvi-Hinnesh. It was given to her by Lord Akatosh himself as a symbol of his love for the mortal woman who owned his heart. They have gifted it to me so I could present it to the woman who owns my heart. Let it be a symbol of the unbroken and unbreakable love between us. I wanted you to wear it before our vows so you know both Divine love and that of your Dragonborn as I say what is in my heart.”
More sniffles. I turned and had a quick look. Virtually all the women, Balin and surprisingly Urag were teary. Tish looked back at Urag and they both shrugged.
Uravasa was staring at Pilvi’s ring with awe. She looked at me then nodded letting me know to do my vows. Even she had tears in her eyes.
“I met a ‘Nordling with a destiny’ and was instantly mesmerised by her. As you revealed your families story to me my heart wept not only for the injustices done but the attempt by those inferior than you to break your spirit and turn you into something less. I admired you and was honoured to be called your guardian and to slowly gain your trust.”
I had to halt a few seconds and compose myself. The ‘Blubbering Barbarian’ was trying to take over.
“We were sitting in a tavern in the bleakest of places, the City of Windhelm during the Civil War. You proceeded to tell me more of your story and my anger and respect built with every sentence. We talked about Baa’Ren-Dar and how you named your horse after him and how Khajiit growl when angry. Then you laughed for the first time since I met you. Not one of your sarcastic “ha de ha” but a full blown belly laugh. I heard pure joy from a place where it shouldn’t exist. You looked at me with a smile on your face and my heart was yours from that moment onwards.”
There was a chorus of sniffling going on that now had weeping to harmonise with it.
“You continued to show me how to enjoy what we have and not dwell on the difficulty of our duty and destiny and past. Your simple joy of picking flowers, looking at Skyrim from above, wonder at the stars and moons and the beauty and wisdom you saw in light bouncing off a lake were all confirmation of the goodness The Divine have provided us. Your spirit shone when speaking of these things and your love for your parents and friends. Your childhood stories have become my stories and you let me live a part of life I can’t recall. Your compassion for others is limitless and I have endeavoured to emulate it with all my actions and undertakings. You stopped the Dovah in me making me less than what I have become.”
I looked my beloved in the eyes and held her hand as I said, “My vow is simple. Gods marvel at the strength of our love and I am blessed and happy to be consumed by it. We have shared and will continue to share one destiny, one soul and one love for eternity. This I swear before The Divine in their temple. Equally I swear it in front of those gathered here today. Our friends and loved ones.”
Uravasa smiled at me. She turned to Rigmor and prompted, “My Queen… “
Staring at me was my other half and I knew this would test my composure.
“I… I love you more than you could ever know. You are my best friend, my life’s companion, my saviour and my champion. When you are near to me, my heart beats so fast… so fast it sometimes hurts… But I…I would give up my life for you in that heartbeat, no questions asked, without a second thought… My love for you has always, and always will be… true… You are my soulmate, oh my sweet, wonderful, beautiful Dragonborn… my love.”
We both turned to the beaming Uravasa who announced, “”Under the authority of Mara, the Divine of Love, I declare this couple to be wed. You must now seal the marriage with a kiss.”
I swear it was Rigmor’s fault. What was supposed to be a single, loving but chaste kiss turned into a snogging of epic proportion! The first kiss drew polite applause.
The second and third some amused laughter. The fourth and fifth a few embarrassed coughs. When Rigmor leapt on me and I held her off the ground as we mashed lips I heard Yngol tell Sorella to turn away.
I ended with kissing her on the hand like a gentlemen courting his lady. Then the applause started and Sorella asked her mother, “What did I miss?”
Uravasa shook her head and announced, “This concludes a most unusual ceremony that I am sure you will all agree was beautiful and that we are blessed to have witnessed. When our Queen regains her breath she has an announcement to make. I have to rush back to Bravil but will be back for the Coronation. I am sure that will be rather unique as well.”
Rigmor asked me quietly, “I love the ring Wulf but his presence?”
“I will explain soon Rigmor. It is wonderful but also terrifying.”
I looked at Ragnar’s ring and my heart lurched at the thought of Sigunn passing it on to me.
“To give me Ragnar’s ring. That is… I am beyond honoured. I truly am.”
Rigmor smiled, turned to those attending and said, “Everybody, thank you all for being here for me, no… for us, Wulf and I on this wonderful day, especially my Mom and of course Baa’Ren-Dar. It means so much to both of us. Freathof, Sethri haha, who has behaved himself, and even you Malesam… only joking. Balin, don’t ever stop being you. Kharjo and Celestine, Wulf has often spoken of your friendship. My bodyguards turned friends Lydia and Meeko, it is so good to see you again and thank you for keeping an eye on my beloved. Serana, your story is an inspiration and I look forward to speaking to you more. Master Mage Urag and Arch Mage Tolfdir, you have honoured us with your presence. Sorella, you are my little sister and I am so glad you were here. LoonaShadow, you were the icing on the cake and I love you my friend. Cerys, Tish and B. Casius, Zan, Yngol and Angi. It’s been quite a ride huh? Thank you all.”
Rigmor turned to Uravasa and said, “Primate, Wulf has told me of how he helped Lady Mora and how in return she has helped him. Please tell her I found it impossible to reconcile what they did to us at the waterfall until Lord Akatosh spoke to me and now I understand the fear and love and even regret felt by him and the other eight Divine. My faith is strong and I am honoured to have had her traditional ceremony on this day. Thank you for conducting it in such a beautiful manner.”
Uravasa bowed and Rigmor turned back to the others.
“I know some have to go and conduct urgent business for my husband. Wow, that is the first time I got to say that! Don’t fear, cake will be saved and I am sure there will be plenty of food left and kitchen staff will be available to cater for you when you return. As for the rest of you, let us head on up to the keep for the feast. I might need some help getting through the crowd but gently OK Yngol.”
Bells began tolling and everybody started to leave. Rigmor turned to me and said, “I am going up to the keep with the ladies and we will freshen up a bit before the feast. Baa’Ren-Dar would like to speak to you so I will meet you there soon.”
With that she joined a gaggle of giggling girls and headed outside where there was a roar of approval at her appearance.
I felt a cold nose on my hand and knelt down to give Meeko a good pat and I told him, “You were very well behaved my friend. Can you please go look after our lady for me?”
With that he bounded off and just made it outside before the doors shut with a thud and all was quiet.
I turned and stared up at the window of Akatosh and did a silent prayer of thanks.
Baa’Ren-Dar patiently waited and when I was done I walked to him and said, “Well met old friend. It has been a long time.”
“Azura’s blessing Majesty. As expressed in my letter, this one is very happy with the union and your rise to the throne.”
“Thank you Baa’Ren-Dar. How are things in Elsweyr?”
“Elsweyr has not changed. For a time that is long, two tribes, two factions. There is a growing resistance to the Thalmor that cares not for north or south, desert or jungle. They have a common desire to rid our homeland of the Dominion and regain independence. Even if the Dominion were gone I am afraid the division would continue.”
“They lied to your nation when they claimed to have Dawn Magic. They did not return the moons to the skies of Nirn. Dawn Magic is powerful and they would have demonstrated it to demoralise their enemies if they had it.”
“This is long suspected. We should have just withdrawn from The Empire, not joined the Dominion.”
“Was there something specific you wished to talk about?”
“Khajiit’s belly rumbles and walls have ears that stretch over borders. Dragonborn might walk and talk with Old Khajiit to castle keep where this one can wine and dine?”
“Of course Emissary. I doubt these holy walls have ears but let us see if the crowd have followed Rigmor and we can escape unmolested. Plus those bells are giving me a headache! You will be glad to hear some Khajiit chefs have prepared what they guarantee is Nirn’s best Elsweyr Chowder.”
“Then we better hurry before your friend Kharjo eats it all!”
“You are well informed aren’t you? Bet you can tell me what colour undergarments he is wearing today.”
“I cannot but perhaps his lover Iona might know?”
I laughed at how comprehensive this wonderful Khajiit’s knowledge of my life was even though he professed in his letters he knew little of my exploits.
We stepped outside into snow but the sky was clear. A few people greeted me but apparently the excitement was over once ‘Their Rigmor” entered the castle.
“As you know it is the job of this Khajiit to keep abreast of the realms Elsweyr deals with.”
“Yes, you said that in your letter.”
“The disappearance of the Emperor was to cause the chain of events that led you here.”
“All part of the design of The Divine. Such an intricate weaving of destinies to achieve that outcome. It was all mortal free will that led to that chain of events.”
“You said you know the killer and that he was of the Dark Brotherhood. This one believes his hiring can be directly laid at the feet of the Elder Council.”
“If only I had proof I would gladly hunt them down. But alas, we only have suspicions.”
“If they had taken more care they would not have found themselves in exile. But it afforded them distance from Blackwell’s scrutiny.”
“I think Sethius would have exiled them no matter what. The plans Morag had were not good for business. Hard to enjoy your wealth and power if Vampires eat your children and put you in a cage for a midnight snack. They would have moved against him and his bitch wife very quickly indeed but by the time they found out, delayed due to their exile, the Emperor was too established.”
“Yes you are right. Upset a lot of people it did that Sethius was making a success of his rule and they feared to intervene because of Morag. Then you turned up and all that changed. Now they fear you.”
“Let me guess. Are they now tools of the Thalmor and hiding behind their skirts like frightened children behind their mother?”
“Not at first. Camaeus presented himself and they could not resist sending him to Table Mountain. Part of their deal was to eliminate Blackwell and reinstate the Thalmor. You suspected him from the first as you said in your letter.”
“Yes and it is true your signature was the only reason Rigmor even listened to me and allowed him in the gate. That was a clash between my dedication to The Divine and my love for Rigmor. I just knew I had to find out what he was up to even if it meant making my beloved upset and uncomfortable.”
“As I said in my letter, they presented half the story to High Queen Elisif and others who had no idea of their ultimate goal of having a puppet on the throne. They thought it was going to be Rigmor seated upon the Ruby Throne and she would have to destroy Blackwell to do it.”
“They did not do their homework did they! They should have known Rigmor would not march an army though the Imperial City to claim a throne she did not want. I understand why Azura urged you to sign. Like me she suspected Camaeus was important to the plan of The Divine but not what.”
“Yes, and he was playing them at their own game. Help me understand what he wanted once again.”
“He thought he was favoured by The Divine and they had given him two sacred tasks. One was to ensure Rigmor survived as she carried the Chosen One. He cared nothing for Rigmor at all. She was just an incubator as per the prophecy and to be discarded after the birth. A second task was suspected by me but I could not figure out exactly what it was. I mentioned the possibility of a new Red Diamond in my letter. His second task was to find that diamond and he has done so. All who deal with me as Emperor will soon learn I am determined to do the bidding of The Divine as I always have. Lord Akatosh has made a big mistake my friend. He now wants me to have that Red Diamond but his use of Camaeus as a puppet has backfired. I have been sent before to fix their mistakes. This was a huge one and has played into the hands of the Thalmor.”
“That is grim news indeed! Since our recent correspondence I have learned more. When Camaeus arrived back in Alinor he told the Elder Council you had become Emperor and not Rigmor and that you had maintained Blackwell as your Lord Chancellor. They flew into a furious rage. He laughed in their faces.”
“Like a two year old throwing a tantrum when they realise they are powerless to make their parents do as they bid!”
“Yes. The Dominion care not for the Elder Council. They only want the White Gold Concordat reinstated. I suspect Blackwell would like to get his hands on the council members. Maybe they intend to use them to win over Blackwell’s influence.”
“The White Gold Concordat was never about religion. They have never had a message from Lord Akatosh or any other Divine telling them that Talos worship is wrong. It is all about their ego. A man, Tiber Septim, became their nemeses and blocked their ambitions to rule Nirn. He defeated them in battle after battle and had the support of Lord Akatosh. To admit that man and not mer was favoured by The Divines was not compatible with their boast of being the superior race. I am sure it came as a shock to the Snow Elves as well! The Ayleid were not surprised as they had turned their back on him. Now the Thalmor know who I am yet they will still dare approach me to allow such blasphemy as the concordat? Even with the bargaining tool Camaeus has given them they must realise what the response will be. As for Blackwell, he dare not do anything not approved by myself or Rigmor! He is under a lot tighter constraint than with Mede or Sethius. He knows there will never be a deal to reinstate the concordat no matter what they place on the bargaining table.”
“You are well aware of the enemies you and your daughter will create as religion gets mixed up with politics. The Elder Council’s power is based on money. That often wins the hearts of more men than religion. Have you taken my advice about surrounding yourself with friends?”
“Yes indeed. To my surprise many of my friends have said they will leave Skyrim and move here to help protect my family. That is a term I will have to get used to my friend. I have a family! I will have guards chosen by me and not Blackwell or anybody else. I will be assured of their loyalty and eliminate the chance of spies. The kitchen hands and maids and many others will be those rescued and trained in my orphanages. I will surround us with love as you suggested. It will be an impenetrable shield.”
I had not realised we had been standing still for several minutes as we concentrated on our discussion.
Baa’Ren-Dar said, “We had better keep moving if I am to claim any of that Elsweyr Chowder. Bruma is such a wonderful city don’t you think?”
“Indeed it is and the people are remarkably robust and kind. I have found myself regarding Cyrodiil as more my home than Skyrim ever felt.”
“The previous Count of Bruma and his wife were wonderful warm people who Rigmor would have befriended had she been allowed to lead a normal life. Same with the previous Count of Leyawiin before the troubles. As you suspected the Emperor bestowed the titles to Rigmor to lessen the guilt for abandoning Rigmor’s family to the demands of the Thalmor… and the Elder Council.”
“Ragnar was another Tiber Septim to them. A man who had humbled them on the battlefield but this one they could get their hands on.”
“Indeed. This one cannot predict the future but be reassured; you have a friend in Elsweyr.”
“And your spies would have told you the Khajiit have always had a friend in me.”
The old Khajiit chuckled.
“Thank you Baa’Ren-Dar. For all that you have done. I have thanked Azura on many occasions but I have a surprise that will delight you and Sethri. After you have had your fill of Elsweyr Chowder all will be revealed.”
This wonderful person gave a small bow and simply said, “Majesty.”
We entered the castle and were immediately assaulted by laughter and the sounds of many simultaneous conversations. The cacophony was often interrupted by the shouting of names across the room as people were eager to drag others into their undoubtedly superior subject of debate or reminisce.
Rigmor was already seated and therefore as protocol allows, so was everybody else. As Baa’Ren-Dar and I entered she stood to stand beside me and so everybody else stood like a well-oiled machine. I kissed my wife and said, “Please my friends, be seated and pretend I am just Wulf and not the Emperor. Eat with your fingers, laugh out loud, guzzle the mead and let the conversations flow.”
They all sat, followed by Rigmor and I.
Sethri stood up again and said, “Ahem, a toast to the happy couple!”
They all lifted their large Nordic goblets full of mead and other alcoholic beverages. All except Sorella and Baa’Ren-Dar whose smaller cups were full of warm milk.
Both Yngol and Casius sculled their goblets and belched. I could tell my lady was keen to drink them under the table but was constrained by protocol. Somebody had placed several bottles of “Ye Olde Special Brew” and gold goblets in front of our seats. We both drank straight out of the bottles.
Everybody got stuck into the repast before them. Baa’Ren-Dar not only claimed a good sized bowl of the Elsweyr Chowder, he dragged the entire pot of it closer to him. I heard Kharjo chuckling at that.
As everybody started talking, often with mouths full of food, and drinking, often with mouths full of food, people relaxed and starting moving around and forming clusters that would last for a while then change to form new clusters. It was fascinating to watch and Rigmor was one of the most sociable and flitted from place to place.
I sat and watched all of this with a lightened heart. My Skyrim friends mingled easily with those of Cyrodiil. Nobody intruded on me as all could tell I was content observing.
Freathof and Malesam were elsewhere discussing with Urag and Tolfdir several projects I had underway. I gathered from what I overheard that Tish was attending to B who disliked the crowded Cathedral and would certainly not like the noise in the room. It was far more than even the busiest tavern.
After a good dent was made in the food and a bigger dent in the alcohol reserves Baa’Ren-Dar raised his voice and requested everybody to return to their seats for some formalities to be observed. He assured them they could continue their mingling after.
When all the seat scraping and shuffling finished Baa’Ren-Dar stood to the left of me and started his speech.
“We are all here to celebrate the union of Wulf and Rigmor. Tradition usually calls upon a father figure to make a speech in honour of the ceremony. This one hopes that Khajiit can speak for both of you and it would be an honour for me to do so.”
Rigmor exclaimed, “Of course Baa’Ren-Dar but no stories about a bratty, rebellious teenage me! OK?”
I added, “Oh, but I want to hear those!” and was rewarded with an elbow to the ribs.
Everybody laughed and the old Khajiit nodded his acquiescence to Rigmor and smiled at my discomfort.
“All of us have known Wulf and Rigmor for many years. We have laughed, cried, fought alongside each other and overcome many situations. When Khajiit first met Wulf, this one knew their heart was just and true. Khajiit owes them a great debt, as we all know that without them, Rigmor, in fact none of us, would not be here today. So first let us celebrate Wulf, Champion of The Divines and their most high majesty by Divine Right.”
Lots of cheering and clapping and banging on the table combined with cries of ‘Wulf’, ‘Majesty’, ‘Dragonborn’ and a loud howl from Meeko. He had been quiet as he lay in front of the roaring fire intent on demolishing a huge bone the kitchen staff had given him. He still knew what was going on. I am more sure than ever he is not entirely a dog. Like the young girl I rescued with a very un-catlike cat.
I stood and bowed to acknowledge genuine admiration and respect that as usual, I felt uncomfortable receiving. I knew much more was to come in my new role and that it made other people feel closer to the almost mythical being called Emperor. So I will learn to accept it with grace when offered.
When I sat back down the cacophony slowly abated and Baa’Ren-Dar continued.
“Now onto our Rigmor. My child, this one has witnessed you come of age in a terrible time of change. You have suffered the insufferable, Khajiit should know, finding you when all was lost. But it fills this old Khajiit’s heart with joy to see you flourish. When you laugh, this one wants to cry, but not the tears of anguish. The tears of the proud father their heart consumed with pride of what has been accomplished, what has been overcome to bring into your life the only thing you ever wanted. To live in happiness among friends and family and loved ones. Rigmor, may all your dreams come true and may the Gods look favourably down upon you.”
I quickly stood and grabbed the surprised Khajiit in a rib crushing bear hug. Then I quickly sat down as he did with a look of astonishment on his face.
Rigmor stood and waited for the cacophony to die down. Meeko honoured her with two howls. I looked at her and watched her bask in the love. Everything I had been through, what we had been through, was worth it to see her experience this moment, this day.
Finally she had to signal for people to be quiet so she could talk. They immediately did so.
All was quiet except for the gnawing sounds coming from Meeko. Then he looked around abashed and also fell silent.
I stood beside her as she said, “I have had the day of my life, and yanno, they say that a day like today is every little girl’s dream right, and this little girl’s dream has today, come true. No matter the mountains you have to climb, how many times you get knocked back down, pushed back, rained upon, I am living proof anything is possible if you believe in yourself. Don’t get me wrong. It is hard sometimes. I know that life isn’t always a sunny day but above those clouds, above that storm, the sun is still shining forever. There is nothing we cannot achieve, no dreams we cannot aim for. So thank you all for coming. I love each and every one of you.”
More applause, cheering, clapping and howling. I let it carry on for a few minutes before I tried Rigmor’s signal for quiet. They didn’t immediately stop like a well-oiled machine. More like a rusty one that had been neglected for a while. I looked at Rigmor and she just smiled and shrugged.
“OK, I do not know if this is a tradition anywhere in Tamriel or even Nirn and I don’t care. I am going to hand out some presents. Not for all of you because I could not think of anything suitable for you all but you know my gratitude is deep. I hope I do not offend anybody.”
A chorus of assurances that they would never be offended met my ears.
“Jarl Yngol, my journey began when my head was on an Imperial chopping block and Alduin saved me, to his eternal regret I am sure. He destroyed Helgen and killed many good people and I was inspired by the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers, guards and ordinary citizens.”
I looked at Lydia and she had tears in her eyes.
“I know you have found the coffers of Falkreath to be less than full thanks to the excesses of your deposed predecessor. You had done what you can, including the building of a much needed school, but are finding it hard to replace the income generated by Helgen. The Imperial coffers are better than I expected thanks to Sethius’ seemingly insatiable desire to accumulate wealth by whatever means. So I will pay for the rebuilding of Helgen. Hire the best architects and craftsmen and restore the town. It will help heal the wounds left over by the civil war and the terror of Alduin. It will boost your income and allow you to progress with other infrastructure projects.”
Yngol rose, bowed and said, “Thank you Majesty. I for one like this new tradition!”
That was greeted with laughter and I let it die down naturally.
“Sorella. Rigmor had claimed you as her little sister so you are my new sister in law!”
She gasped at that and then put her hand quickly over her mouth.
“You saw your duty and you pursued it. That is all The Divine can ask of any of us. You helped defeat a great evil and everybody in this room. No, every person you ever met or will meet since then, owes you a great debt. They owe you their very lives.”
Yngol and Angi beamed with pride as Sorella turned beetroot red at that proclamation and the cheers that followed.
“You expressed to Rigmor and I the desire to be a Vampire Hunter. There will always be vampires who practice the excesses approved by their Daedric Prince. There are others who live with their condition but refuse to accept the evil that does not automatically go with it. I urge you to speak with my good friend Serana. I preach endlessly that all you have to do to defeat a Daedric Prince is exercise free will. Serana did that and she was a far more powerful vampire than Morag and more favoured by Molag Bal. She is also older then The Empire!”
I managed to dodge the prawn head Serana tossed at me.
“I also urge you to speak to The Dawnguard. I have a letter of introduction for you. When you come of age and still wish to pursue that endeavour, and vampire hunters may be sorely needed if the Akaviri invade, I will lend you the very bow crafted and wielded by Akatosh himself. Even though Xenia’s bow is powerful, the weapon of Lord Akatosh is infinitely more so. Serana can testify to that and tell you the story of how we retrieved it. With Dawnguard to support you a formidable force could be possible and of great aid in such a war as we may face.”
Sorella stood and curtsied then sat down with a thoughtful look on her face.
“Sethri and Baa’Ren-Dar. Lady Azura’s assistance has been invaluable to Rigmor and I over the years. I know that in the recent past she sent her Champion to assist The Empire during a crises and he sacrificed himself to save us all. She used nearly all of her remaining power to save me from The Void so I could rescue Rigmor from that foul altar. I am proud to be called Azura’s Champion. The Shrine to her has stood proud outside of Winterhold since she warned the Dunmer of the imminent catastrophe of the Red Mountain and they fled to Skyrim. One devoted priestess stayed and lived in tents for over two hundred years as others left for Solstheim or other parts of Nirn. Aranea Ienith touched me with her devotion and currently works at one of my orphanages teaching the children about her mistress and other gods and assisting those who can see glimpses of the future. She still visits the shrine to maintain it every few months. I have told her I will fund the reconstruction and decoration of the temple below the shrine. If you wish some say in the matter Sethri, I have told her you might visit and offer assistance. If you can visit Azura’s main Shrine in Cyrodiil and let me know if repairs are needed at some point we can help out there as well.”
Sethri stood and beamed. “I think I might go visit soon. Maybe take her for a tour of my little farm. Thank you Wulf!”
Baa’Ren-Dar lent over and whispered, “Does she have a sense of smell? Your matchmaking is doomed if she does.”
“Lydia, Kharjo, Celestine. Please inform the others I will accept yours and their service as personal bodyguards to my family. As such I will commission a new style of armour to be made by the craftsman who did my Guardian General Armor. You will be part of the Penitus Oculatus but not answerable to Blackwell. A few Emperors have had such in the past. There is no hurry so find quality replacements for the orphanages. This is a two way gift. I get to have friends with martial skills and whom I trust implicitly guarding my family. Freathof and Malesam are not too good with the sword! And you all get to grow fat and lazy living in luxury.”
All three stood and executed a perfect and synchronised Imperial Legion salute.
“Next tonight is my newest friend but one of Rigmor’s oldest, LoonaShadow. I have some papers here for you. The first is Kendov’s ownership papers. He is now yours. The second is a requisition form for a proper cavalry saddle and barding to be custom fitted to Kendov. You will find controlling him with your knees is far easier with such a saddle. Third is a letter of introduction to the Imperial Library. It allows you access to all sections. Just ignore the dusty old relics. I refer to the librarians, not the books. Fourth is a letter of introduction to Urag gro-Shub. He was the bearded Orsimer gentlemen at the wedding. He is a Master Mage and the Chief Librarian at the College of Winterhold. He is one of most knowledgeable people I have ever encountered and this letter will give you full access to the college library. It has many unique books and scrolls that not even the Imperial Library possesses. Thirdly is an introduction letter to the Chief Librarian of the soon to be opened Dragonborn Gallery in Solitude. It will have displays of hundreds of artefacts I have found during my travels. This letter will allow you to study these artefacts. It also recommends you for consideration as a member of a team of archaeologists that will investigate and search for other potential artefacts.”
Loona stood and walked over to receive the envelope with the important papers inside. Rigmor hugged her and Loona then shook my hand!
I turned to Sigunn and said, “Me dear Countess of Bruma. Mum!”
Plenty of laughs and a shocked look on Sigunn’s face that was priceless.
“Sigunn. Here is the paperwork expunging all false claims of war crimes against Ragnar. Here is the paperwork reinstating his knighthood and the re-entry of your family Coat of Arms into the register of arms. These two books I am handing you are the original histories of Ragnar’s exploits during the Great War and in Hammerfell. Scribes are making more copies and they will quickly replace the false manuscripts in Tamriel’s libraries. Lastly you will find rolled up in your room the battle standard Casius first saw when Ragnar rescued he and tens of thousands of civilians from a Thalmor massacre. I found it in a room full of history that has been locked away until such a time we no longer care what the Dominion thinks. I showed Casius and Yngol and they both recognised it. Display it wherever you wish and show our pride in the hero that is Sir Ragnar Fjonasson.”
Rigmor walked around and hugged the openly weeping Sigunn. I lifted a bottle of special brew and uses a tiny bit of Thu’um, “A toast to Sir Ragnar Fjonasson. Let us make sure he hears it in Sovngarde.”
Then I used all of my Thu’um, “TO SIR RAGNAR FJONASSON. WE THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DID FOR TAMRIEL AND HAMMERFELL.”
As the echoes started to fade I sat down. People got the cue and started socialising again and soon the room was back to that pleasant cacophony.
Rigmor returned and sat next to me. Five minutes later she startled me with a squeeze on the leg. I looked at her and she winked and looked at the door leading to the corridor to her, I mean our, bedchamber.
I thought I would ignore her for the fun of it. A couple of minutes later l squealed when she squeezed me between the legs.
Everybody stopped talking and all heads turned in our direction.
Rigmor stood and said, “Silly Wulf, I told you that dish was hot. If you will all excuse me, I am feeling a little tired. I hope you will all stay here tonight and please, continue eating and drinking for as long as you wish. Dragonborn, can I speak to you in private?”
I followed my lady to her bedchamber and admired the way she and Cerys chose a cut of dress that did not hide her scars. It was symbolic. They were behind her like the memories of the animals that made them.
We entered the bedchamber and Rigmor excused herself as she went to remove the tiara and decorations that seemed to be held in place with a million bobby pins. As she was busy with her back to me I grabbed a blanket and pillow and made myself comfortable on the chair and pretended to have nodded off.
Rigmor walked up and asked, “What the hell are you doing?”
“You are tired and I am but your guardian doing his duty.”
“As your Queen I command you stand this instant.”
I did so and was promptly pushed onto the bed. The rest need not be entered into this journal but the consummation of our marriage was successful. Several times and in several ways. No droopy droop droop!
I fell asleep many times that night in the arms of my beloved.