High Hrothgar, Dushnikh Yal, Raven’s Nest, Pale Pass: A mortal enemy of Nirn returns.
It was about 2:00AM when we docked at High Hrothgar. First thing I noticed was a small camp near the stairs that were not there on our recent visit.
Lydia and Celestine accompanied me into the bastion. I knew Arngeir would be awake as I am yet to find him asleep!
He was more than a little surprised to see me.
“Dovahsebrom, I see you are in your Imperial General armour. Is there something amiss I can help you with?”
“Have you heard of a group who call themselves “Guardians” who are supposedly protecting five fragments of the original Red Diamond?”
“I am afraid not. I assume this has something to do with Dov otherwise you would not ask me.”
“Yes, the information I have is that a Dovah’s fire can fuse the fragments. I know the fragments exist as I recovered one from a Guardian just after he was assassinated by the Morag Tong. I need not tell you what either the old or new Red Diamonds could be used for by enemies of Akatosh and The Divines.”
“I am sorry I can’t help with that at all. Maybe the Blade historian might know something?”
“Yes, he was going to be my next visit. Can I ask what that camp is near the steps?”
“I asked him and he claimed to be a pilgrim yet asked no questions. We often get pilgrims visiting and camping after the climb but not once have I encountered any who do not have questions.”
“Thanks for your assistance Arngeir.”
He bowed and we made our way outside. I approached the camp and although two tents were pitched only one person was there. He was a Nord wearing a very expensive piece of armour associated with a Boethia cult but often found on bandits.
I approached him and said, “Good morning citizen.”
“I saw you get out of the fancy flying ship. Doesn’t that belong to the Emperor? It has been all over the news-sheets.”
“I am Commander Marcus of the Penitus Oculatus investigating a crime on behalf of his Majesty. It is a murder most foul by hired Morag Tong assassins. Information I received says dragons might be involved so I came to ask the Greybeards if they know anything. May I ask your name?”
“My name is Argus. I thought I would walk the steps like many other pilgrims. Nice view but a bit chilly. Surely a senior officer like you does not go flying around the countryside for a simple murder no matter how violent?”
“I am trying to find a group of people who call themselves ‘Guardians’. They are being hunted by the Morag Tong and it is urgent I find them.”
“Guardians you say. Can I ask the name of the victim?”
A brief flicker of recognition crossed Argus’ face at the name. He would not be very good at cards.
“I can see you are being careful but Morag Tong do not walk around in the outfit of the Penitus Oculatus. If you are one of these Guardians or know where we can find them it may save lives, including your own, so tell us what you know.”
“Was there anything on the victim?”
“Yes, a shard of a red gem. He was grasping it in his hand when the assassins killed him. Unlucky for them a patrol of the Imperial Legion saw what happened and killed them all.”
“Okay, I trust you. I am a Guardian of Akatosh and am relieved you managed to recover Byron’s shard and keep it out of the hands of the enemy.”
“Do you know who hired the Morag Tong? Who is this enemy?”
“All we know is they are Dunmer Daedra worshippers trying to stop us reforging the Amulet of Kings.”
“And what do you wish to do with a reforged Amulet of Kings?”
“We hope it will help us solidify Martin Septim’s sacrifice and forever seal Oblivion away from the world. And obviously cutting the Daedra Lords off from this world doesn’t sit well with many Dunmer who worship them.”
“Has not the new Emperor said everybody can worship who they choose? Don’t the Khajiit also worship some Daedric Princes? There are many Nords, Imperials and Bretons who worship the Daedric Princes. I personally have a liking for Lady Azura. I think you would have far more than the Dunmer to worry about! What makes you think it is them? Are you withholding information because that is not good for your freedom citizen?”
He is completely wrong about what the amulet could do. A bit strange for a Guardian of Akatosh!
“No, no, just guessing.”
“The only person on Nirn who could use that amulet is Emperor Wulf Septim. You know the killer of Alduin, Divine Champion and all that? So why have you not approached him or us with the problem?”
I could see him struggling for an answer. It was time to see if he really was a ‘Guardian of Akatosh’.
“Don’t worry I can see why you would be scared and paranoid. It is true there are five shards? And that each Guardian has been in possession of them since they were smuggled out of the Temple in the Imperial City during the Thalmor occupation?”
So he is not a Guardian. I would guess he is not associated with the mob hiring the Morag Tong. He is most likely a third party.
“So what can we do to help?”
“I’ll entrust my fragment to you. It and I will be safer that way I think. They would be insane to attack the Penitus Oculatus. I’ll remain here in hopes that the remaining Guardians show up and in the meantime perhaps you can try and find one of them for me?”
“Of course we will try Citizen Argus.”
“She was apparently heading through Pale Pass from Cyrodiil and should have gotten here before me in fact.”
“Pale Pass is blocked by an avalanche. She would have to be going through one of the smuggler routes.”
“Yes, it is called Pale Cave and is further west from the old border gates. Let me mark it on your map. Be careful, that place is treacherous.”
“Okay Argus. We will head off soon. Don’t worry, we will find the other Guardians and shards.”
“Here is my shard.”
I was wearing my Imperial armour and it did not have gauntlets. I held out my hand with the handkerchief holding the other shard open and he placed his in there.
We boarded Nafalilargus and went below to the cabin. I said to Lydia, “He is not one of the Guardians. He had no idea a Septim was needed to use the amulet and did not know the shards were stored in the White Tower, not the Temple.”
“But he gave you his shard?”
“He knew I was getting suspicious. It was a gamble that I would be fooled and either get killed by his associates or return with the shards and he can somehow kill us. Also, since when would five people hiding agree to meet at one place out in the open like a camp at High Hrothgar?”
“So what are we going to do?”
“You lot are going to stay on board. I am going invisible and do some pick pocketing. If he detects me and attacks I will kill him.”
“Have fun Wulf.”
I went on deck, cast invisibility and approached the camp. He was sitting staring into the fire.
I snuck up behind him and cut a bag dangling from his belt. It felt like a book inside so I returned to the cabin to have a look.
The bag contained his personal journal. When I opened it a letter fell out. The journal read,
“It seems like years have passed chasing these fools around the northern territory, though it’s only been a few months. Chasing down these silly shards had better be worth it in the end.
Ezra and I were lucky enough to have come across two of the parts before reaching Skyrim. I managed to track one down. That book worm from the Imperial Library, Delonius Calver, before he could reach the College of Winterhold and took his shard.
Ezra found her quarry hiding in some Ayleid ruins in Bruma before crossing into Skyrim.
When we got here however it seems our luck ran out as news came in that the Morag Tong managed to find the setting and were well fortified in some old Nordic ruin called Raven’s Nest. They were also quick on the trail of some Breton named Byron who had a shard. Tried as I might I couldn’t find him and he’s likely already dead.
Then there was the final guardian, an Orc called Ulgarg who was quite the slippery swine and was laying low in the western reaches. Apparently he was in Evermore when it became too dangerous for his kind and he fled to Skyrim.
I tracked him down and could have sworn that I had him cornered but he managed to elude me twice. Perhaps when Ezra finally makes it out of Pale Pass we can manage to get to him then we just have to figure out how to weasel the setting away from the ash bastards. I hope whatever treasure she is on about in the dungeon beneath Fort Pale Pass is worth it.
She says the Pale Pass has a cave that leads to somewhere in the foothills of the southern Jerall mountains. I suppose I will just have to wait for her. I hope she gets here soon, High Hrothgar is a nice view but I’m freezing my sweet rolls off.”
Why do idiots have this urge to write down all their secrets in a journal?
So Ezra will be last on the list to find since she is his ally. First will be the Orsimer called Ulgarg. If he was in the Western Reaches and a refugee from Evermore he was probably looking to the Dushnikh Yal stronghold for protection. Chief Burkuk is a good friend of mine. I performed many deeds for his people including finding and returning several artefacts important to them. An Orsimer from his tribe, Ghorbash the Iron Hand, is a Sentinel. So I will head there and see if Chief Burkuk knows of Ulgarg.
Second will be Raven’s Nest. Argus was truthful about the Dunmer being involved but I doubt it is because they are worried about a strengthening of the barrier. They would want to use it somehow for whatever Daedric Prince they are listening to.
Pale Pass is not far from Bruma. It is the site of the first Empire fort where the Akaviri invaders were defeated by Reman Cyrodiil. I am also intrigued about what treasure would make Ezra delay her hunt for the shards. If all goes well I will retrieve the last shard from her corpse.
The letter that fell from the journal read,
“Argus, I am pleased with your overall progress but if you choose to double cross the Morag Tong and it gets back to them I will do nothing to protect you. It’s a fool’s errand and they will have no mercy whatsoever.
That said, I don’t honestly care what means people choose to use in the end. I will pay whoever provides me the shards as requested, no questions asked.
So ‘O’ hired the Morag Tong to find the shards. I thought they only took assassination writs. Or maybe the Morag Tong are working under an intermediary for ‘O’ and not independently. Either way it sounds like they subcontracted Argus and Ezra to help with the search and provided them the information on the five Guardians. Argus and Ezra have taken that information and gone rogue. They are either very brave or very stupid. I vote the later.
No matter what, ‘O’ is the one who wants the shards.
I called The Sentinel and the two Master Mages to the table and informed them of my findings and what we will be doing about it.
I decided to fly Nafalilargus to Dushnikh Yal. I did not change altitude and anybody looking for the airship would not see us as dusk was hours away.
I found flying the airship at night to be calming and my mind always seemed less frantic under the stars. I listened and still the murmuring and almost understood words were there.
I can only imagine what it would be like if the Amulet of Kings is fully restored. Every memory of every Septim Emperor would be mine and their advice invaluable. I would know the truth about my father. How accurate is the Arcturian Heresy? But then again I would only know the Tiber Septim who wore that Amulet in whatever time-stream that was. Contemplating Dragon Breaks too much risks gobblygook overdose.
I anchored Nafalilargus just outside Dushnikh Yal and The Sentinel joined me on deck soon after the bell rang. It was early in the morning but I had no choice but to wake Chief Burkuk. Ulgarg’s life could depend on us finding him quickly.
I left The Sentinel outside the front door to the Longhouse and unlocked it with the key I had been provided. I quietly shook the chief awake. He grinned and stood to talk to me,
“Who would have thought that our blood-kin and friend Wulf would become the biggest chief of them all? You are wearing your Legion armour so I assume you have woken me for a reason other than catching up with an old friend?”
“Unfortunately yes Chief Burkuk. Has an Orsimer from Evermore called Ulgarg been in contact with you? Rest assured he has not broken any laws and is not wanted for blood money. He is in grave danger and I must find him quickly.”
“Is this to do with Evermore? He could not believe how differently we are treated here. I must thank you for what you have done for the poor wretches from there.”
“It has nothing to do with Evermore. Hired assassins are after him for something he carries. It is a thing of my Gods and by taking responsibility for it he has shown more nobility than any of his suppressors in Evermore. Needless to say it is of vital importance to the Empire and therefore desired greatly by our enemies.”
“He was here for several days but left without saying a word yesterday. He mentioned some bandit trying to get to him but no mention of assassins. He used to sleep outside as all the beds in this longhouse are taken.”
‘Thankyou Chief Burkuk. I will have a look outside and see if I can find a clue as to his whereabouts.”
“Before you go Wulf, I need to know if the rumours are true. Did the Bretons breed slave Orsimer like cattle?”
“Yes they did. I found them in one of their mines. They are now being slowly educated about the outside world by Orsimer Legionnaires. When ready they will be escorted to New Orsimer and hopefully find long and rewarding lives there. The mine was under the control of a Dremora Lord who I slayed in Oblivion. That crime was one of many that cost the Evermore King his head. The normal citizens of that kingdom were slaves in everything but name. Do not mistake this atrocity for normal Breton behaviour.”
“But we both know their racism has been rampant over the centuries.”
“Yes but that is the sad story throughout Nirn. Races hating other races has to stop!”
“How is Ghorbash doing? Is he getting fat in his new role?”
“Being a guard to my wife when she is in a foul mood is not cushy I assure you. Also standing guard in the throne room trying to keep alert while people with petty problems drone on and on and on is a challenge. He is doing well. Remember he is one of only sixteen warriors I trust with Queen Rigmor’s safety.”
“Thank you for being honest as always Wulf. Malacath guide you!”
I left the longhouse and we started looking around. It did not take long to spot a letter on a table just outside the longhouse entrance. It read,
“Thanks for the food and the warm bed brothers but I best get on my way. There are Many Morag Tong bastards on my heels and if I stay any longer I could endanger you all. Malacath smile on you all. I’ll be heading east so if anyone comes looking, send ‘em west will you?
We started walking along the path heading east from Dushnikh Yal and before long came across some drying blood. There was no blood spatter indicating a person had been attacked at the spot. More likely an injured person collapsing against the rock.
There was more blood spatter on the road indicating the wounded person had kept going. If an Orsimer they could probably go for miles. Other men and mer would collapse soon.
A huge blood stain suggested they had dragged themselves from a prone position onto a rock. It was near a small cliff but there was no sign of the bleeder when I looked down so we continued on.
There was a turn to the left and some blood on a column so we followed that track.
The blood led to the entrance of Reachcliff Cave. I knew this place. It was the dining hall of the cannibal cult I wiped out.
We entered and I said to The Sentinel, “Watch out, this place was full of Draugr once. Then it was full of cannibals so if anybody approaches you looking hungry and drooling, kill them.”
Lydia joked, “Lucky Calder is not with us then!”
Not far in we found the corpse of Ulgarg. We approached and I could see a red aura emanating from his abdomen.
I asked, “Can anybody else see the red aura?”
Negative all around so I checked the outside of Ulgarg first and found no shard.
Whenever my hand got close to the abdomen I could sense Lord Akatosh.
“Okay then. Anybody squeamish better look away. He swallowed his shard so I am going to cut it out. Keep your bows at the ready in case any Morag Tong make an appearance.”
I cut through the surrounding tissue, then his stomach. I spotted the shard and pried it out with my knife then poured water from my canteen over it. When clean enough I opened the handkerchief with the other shards in, rolled the new one onto it and folded it up.
We quickly checked the rest of the cave to make sure no Morag Tong were hanging around. It was empty. Not even a Draugr or starving cannibal.
We left the cave then headed back to Dushnikh Yal. I showed Chief Burkuk the note and informed him where Ulgarg’s body was. He exclaimed, “You make sure you kill them all Wulf!”
“Ulgarg was a very brave Orc. He is not the only good person they have killed. I will let my inner dragon play with them.”
“Good, make sure they scream.”
We left the stronghold, boarded Nafalilargus and flew to Raven’s Nest.
I anchored the airship near the entrance.
Before entering I warned The Sentinel, “Morag Tong in here. Watch out for traps and murder holes.”
We entered and could here pick on rock to the left. I knocked an arrow and we crept along till we saw the noise maker.
A Morag Tong was trying to widen a gap that led further into the complex. I do not know why he/she was bothering as it was already wide enough. A pretty poor lookout was about to die.
It took a couple of arrows but the Assassin died without raising an alarm.
A portcullis led to a corridor full of fire traps. A few well-placed arrows set them off as Morag Tong approached. A couple made it close to us but many died from arrow and fire within the corridor.
Among the dead was a Mythic Dawn priest.
I searched his corpse and found the setting for the new Amulet of Kings and a shard. His name was on a piece of paper that read,
“This setting is accurate according to the craftsman. He died to keep our plan secret so I hope it is. Keep it with you at all times Camorac!
I said to The Sentinel, “His name is Camorac and not the ‘O’ that seems to be the boss. The Mythic Dawn are supposed to be extinct. Mehrunes Dagon wanted me to kill the last member he knew of, an Imperial by the name of Silus Vesuius. You know I hate hidden history so with my help he opened up a museum to the cult in Dawnstar a few years ago. He is proud to be related to the assassin who killed Uriel Septim VII. His shock when Mehrunes Dagon showed complete contempt for him and the cult was priceless. When I refused to kill the idiot Dagon sent a few Dremora Lord to punish me. I think we may have to speak to Silus and if I find out he has anything to do with this lot I will not be gentle.”
Iona asked, “Is that out next destination Wulf?”
“No, lets us get all the shards first. So it is Pale Pass next and Argus’s friend Ezra.”
We arrived near the cave a few hours later but I had to anchor the airship a bit of a distance away due to dense trees and many boulders.
“Do you know this cave Wulf?” asked Jordis.
“No, Rigmor and I used a different one to enter Bruma. It led to an Ayleid ruin. We expected Sethius, being the bandit he was, would have known of it and had troops protecting the exit to Cyrodiil. He didn’t so I think the smuggler paths are more numerous than we assume.”
As soon as we entered we were attacked by an Ice Wraith.
We encountered several more before emerging into Pale Pass and into the middle of a battle.
A large number of bandits were attacking the ancient fortress and the small garrison that manned it. You could tell this was a low priority posting as the Imperial Legionnaires did not have the new uniforms I had standardised on. The New Imperials sullied the old ones in the eyes of many citizens. Similarly Blackwell had been nagging me to replace the City Guards uniforms as the real Imperial troops were still being abused by those who put up with Sethius’ thugs for months.
We joined in the fray and soon had piles of bandits spread around the place.
A young Legionnaire came up to me, saluted then asked, “General, do you know what these idiots are up to? They do not stand a chance against seasoned troops.”
“At a guess they have been told of a great treasure somewhere within the old fortress. The person who told them is most likely hoping to sneak in while they are being slaughtered.”
“Some have made it into the fortress so what you say rings true.”
We rushed to the fortress and saw two intact entrances. Not much work had been done over the centuries to repair the damage the Akaviri inflicted. We took the right most one and entered.
A staircase spiralled down and we could hear no sounds of combat so sheathed weapons and casually walked down to see where it went.
We rounded a corner and were confronted by a female mage.
I said to her, “It is a long way from home for one of House Telvanni.”
“You are well educated for an outlander.”
“I happen to be a member of the family, adopted into it you might say by Mage Lord Neloth of Solstheim. Do you know him?”
I was guessing this was Ezra. Neloth’s actions in adopting the current Emperor into his House would have rattled all the Great Houses and regarded as a master move in their deadly game of politics.
Ezra gasped and I could see fear on her face. I let my Dovah take over. She saw it in my eyes.
“I have four shards with me and will take the fifth from your corpse. I also have the setting that I removed from a Mystic Dawn Priest after we slaughtered the dozens of Morag Tong guarding him.”
“I was working against them. I was getting the shards so I could give them to you!”
“That is not what it says in Angus’ journal or the letter to him from ‘O’.”
She looked around in panic. She could not get past me and The Sentinel. The fact she did not run downstairs led me to believe they ended in a dead end.
“Do you know what might have happened if the Mystic Dawn managed to recreate the Amulet of Kings? They might not have the knowledge to use it but their Dark Lord would. You risked every single mortal and even the very existence of Nirn and Mundus for what? Some shiny gold coins? You are a fucking Telvanni Wizard and filthy rich already you stupid bitch!”
“I…I know things. I can tell you things.”
“The worst part is you murdered somebody in my mother in law’s lands. She would nag me something terrible if I let you live!”
I drew my sword and Ezra cowered in fear.
“I hope your black soul spends eternity in The Void!”
She screamed as ‘The Sword’ sliced her from shoulder to sternum.
Celestine said, “I will never get used to that other you Wulf!”
“There is no other me Celestine. The Dovah and man exist in equal parts. It has taken me a few years to control when one or the other acts and speaks. A Berserker is not two people. Neither am I.”
I searched Ezra’s mangled remains and found an ancient key and the last shard. Unfortunately there was no paperwork or anything else to tell me who ‘O’ was.
I admitted to The Sentinel, “Perhaps I was a bit hasty killing her. She might have known who ‘O’ was.”
The stairs only continued for a short distance then terminated before a solid brick wall.
I announced, “Ezra had this key on her. I am guessing the other doorway will lead to the thing she halted her shard hunt to find. Let’s go have a look shall we?”
The other doorway led to a very intact and large part of the fortress. It was certainly capable of holding far more troops than were stationed here. I admit I am ignorant at to the significance strategically or otherwise of the place. I will have to make enquiries when we get back.
We spent some time helping the garrison kill the surprisingly large number of bandits who had made it inside. When all was quiet we searched for the door the ancient key fitted. Turns out it was the entrance to the dungeons and mortuary.
To my surprise there was an officer on duty. He saluted and I asked, “Why have you locked yourself down here when the battle was upstairs?”
“My men and I agreed it would be a good idea to lock the entrance so the enemy would gather and try to open it whilst they were cut down from the back. I meant to be on the other side but was swarmed and had no choice but to make a tactical retreat. Ask my men and they will tell you I killed plenty of the bandits. I was not running from the fight.”
“Relax soldier. I have no doubt your story is true. I am going to look around and see if I can spot what they were searching for.”
“Good luck General, there is nothing but empty cells and brick walls.”
We walked up and down the aisles and it was cell next to cell and all back to back. Except for one squared off section right in the centre of the middle row. I banged one of the walls with the hilt of ‘The Sword’.
“Sounds hollow to me!” said Jordis.
“Yes, there must be a lever or switch or something to get inside.”
On one shelf where a coffin should be there was a high quality ceramic pot.
I moved it out of the way and discovered a pull chain. I gave it a tug and a stone doorway slowly opened with the very loud grinding noise of rock on rock.
In the small alcove thee was a statue of Shalidor holding a shield. Above it was a relief showing Kyne. There was writing all around in the same script used in the Shalidor journals I had retrieved for the College of Winterhold. I reached out to take the shield and was temporarily blinded by a bright red light that radiated from where I stored the shards.
“Did anybody else see that pulse of light?”
The Sentinel all shook their heads.
Lydia asked, “Who do you think owned that shield?”
“Pure speculation but I bet a sweet roll I am right. Can you remember your history any of you. Who became famous here in the first era?”
Celestine replied, “Reman Cyrodiil. He defeated the Akaviri here and when they heard him Shout they proclaimed him Dragonborn and pledged to follow him.”
“Yes and with their help he conquered nearly all of Tamriel and created the Reman Dynasty. Many mistakenly think he was Emperor but he never took that title. What he did do was create the ritual involving the Amulet of Kings that all Emperors undertook during coronation until it was destroyed as part of Martin Septim’s sacrifice. His son Kastav was the first Emperor with the Divine Right to rule according to that ritual. That did not stop the Elder Council declaring him unfit to rule and putting Reman Cyrodiil II in his place. He was not a bad Emperor but suffered for trying to drag those into The Empire who did not want to be part of it. Why so many Emperors did this is beyond my comprehension. He died fighting the Dunmer when The Empire was doing quite well without Morrowind. The Morag Tong eventually ended the Reman Dynasty with a couple of assassinations.”
Lydia said, “Wulf, you are in one of your history lecture modes again.”
“Blame the Dovah in me. I enjoy a good tinvaak. Where was I? Oh that’s right, the shield! My guess is this is a shield that belonged to Reman Cyrodiil and was placed here as a tribute after his passing. What Shalidor has to do with it, that is the guy that was holding the shield, I have no idea.”
Celestine asked, “Do you think other parts of his armour are spread around Tamriel?”
“He is buried with several Reman Emperors in Sancre Tor so I assume a piece or two might be there. Just speculation but Auryen at the museum might know or be able to find out. What is really spooky is he might be my half-brother. Maybe I will get to ask Saint Alessia one day.”
Celestine sounded puzzled and asked, “Is he not regarded as a God by some? Why do the Thalmor allow that?”
“Many regard him as the ‘Worldly God’. Not a God-King as such but a God-Hero. Saint Alessia and the Tribunal were mortals who became Gods. The Thalmor pretend to object to Tiber Septim becoming a Divine, not just a God. But it is race, not Divinity that they really object to.”
“How do you keep up with all this…this…”
“Gobblygook? I don’t. I have learned it is better just to accept the unexplained. Let us head to the Museum and see if Auryen can un-gobblygook some of it for us and give me an idea what to do next as I have no idea.”
When we exited the fortress the fighting was over and we were unmolested to the cave, through it and back to Nafalilargus.
Once in the cabin I called Brelyna over and asked her if she knew a Telvanni mage called Ezra.
“Vaguely, if I remember right she went a bit rogue when she wanted to marry a man well below her station. One thing the Great House of Telvanni is expert at it is ignoring and never talking about the seedier side of the family. I thought I was going to get that treatment when I left home and dared join that primitive College of Winterhold.”
“Now you are a Master Mage and entrusted with the task of protecting Rigmor on behalf of the College! Another piece of one-upmanship in that game of politics they play. I will tell Tolfdir I need two Mages to be aboard Nafalilargus at all times. That means we will need at least another two to rotate through the duty to Rigmor. Do you know if there are any suitable candidates?”
“I think you will find there are a few to choose from. We seemed to have a surge of students after you left. We have recently had quite a few Dunmer return as the mood of Skyrim becomes less anti-mer. It would be great if you could resolve the mystery of the destruction of Winterhold though.”
“I also think that is important, just so we can get Winterhold some funding for a proper rebuild and to ensure something like it can’t happen again. I can’t promise when I will get around to it though.”
“I know Majesty. You will probably build quite a dossier of things that need attending.”
“Many will come out of nowhere like this one. I want you to ether Nafalilargus to High Hrothgar for me while I study the shield and shards. Can you do that?”
“I will ask J’Zargo to help me. I have only done it a couple of times. Even if he does not have to tell me anything just his presence will boost my confidence.”
“Behind his boasting and habit of pilfering things he is one of the nicest people I have met. Same with Kharjo and Baa’Ren-Dar and virtually every Khajiit I know. I am sure he will help you. Don’t worry, if I open the hatch and find us at the bottom of the Sea of Ghosts I will attach no blame.”
The younger looking but much older than me Master Mage hunted down J’Zargo while I went to my room and placed the shield and shards, still wrapped in the handkerchief, close together. My blood and soul are attuned to the original Red Diamond. I am supposed to be able to know all thoughts of the Septim Emperors when wearing it and even discuss things with them. In its current state I surmise that such a link would not be healthy.
I could not detect any dweomer on the shield but I doubt a warrior of Reman’s status would have a shield with no enchantments.
If I left the shards on the table and approached with the shield I could detect no connection. If I left the shield on the table and had the shards deposited inside the handkerchief anywhere on my body I would detect a connection when approaching it. So the shards recognise my blood but must be in close proximity just like the original Amulet of Kings. At no time did the red flash occur.
When deep in thought I have no real sense of linear time. So it only seemed I had been experimenting and thinking for a short time before the docking bell told me it had been two hours!
Brelyna came below beaming with J’Zargo not far behind. She said proudly, “We are still above water and docked at High Hrothgar. J’Zargo even stopped praying to Masser and Secunda when we emerged from the ether!”
“Well done! It will be second nature soon. I really don’t think you can issue any commands that endangers it or its passengers. You might look a bit silly standing at the wheel waiting to go ether and nothing happens though!”
As the two mages moved over to the bar to have a celebratory drink or two I headed to my bedroom and changed into my father’s armour.
When I exited Lydia approached and asked, “Are you intending to confront Argus?”
“Yes, alone and with my Dovah in full control!”
“You will not stop us observing from the deck. Not unless you intend to wrestle each one of us and hog tie us.”
“Okay but do not interfere.”
I approached Angus with my sword sheathed. I was fairly close before he noticed me. His face went almost as white as the snow. His death approached.
“You are the fucking Emperor. I knew it!”
“You knew nothing and I bet you didn’t even notice this was missing.”
I held up his journal. He quickly patted himself and snarled at me when he realised what I had found out from it.
“So what are you doing here instead of gathering the shards if they are so important as to get your privileged arse off the throne?”
“I have them all already. I also have the setting which I took from the body of a Mythic Dawn priest. So I accomplished in less than twenty four hours what you and the other idiots could not do in months. You do realise that means I met your friend Ezra.”
“What did you do to her you cunt!”
“Only what she deserved. You should have heard her scream as my sword almost split her in half. It was very messy searching the corpse. Yuck!”
He came swinging hard and was visibly shaken by the speed in which I unsheathed my sword and casually blocked his two handed hammer with it.
“You call me privileged when Ezra was a stinking rich bitch of House Telvanni.”
He swung again and I blocked with my shield.
“What is privileged about me? I have spent years covered in blood and gore serving my Gods and saving every mortal on this planet more times than you would believe.”
He tried an overhead blow that would have turned me into Emperor Goo if I had not simply stepped aside. I could have easily killed him then and just smiled to let him know I was playing with him.
“The fucking Mythic Dawn. At least Ezra realised the stupidity of handing over the shards to that mob seconds before I sent her to The Void.”
Argus was catching his breath and trying to decide his next move when I showed no sign of attacking.
“Do you realise what would have happened? Is there anybody you love that you would hate seeing die or tortured and made a plaything of probably the most vicious Daedric Prince of them all?”
He growled and started swinging like he had a wood axe and I was some tree in his way.
“I will take that growl as a no then. What about a favourite inn or whore? Would you shed a tear over those?”
His swings were getting slower and far easier to avoid or parry than seconds before.
“Do you know how high up we are? I wonder how long you will fall before hitting the ground and exploding into chunks that everything from sparrow to skeever to sabre tooth will enjoying gathering, eating and eventually shitting out.”
He took one final desperate swing and I parried hard enough with my shield to knock his hammer flying over the edge. He then realised I had manoeuvred him so that a sheer drop to the valley below was only feet behind him.
“I wonder if you will run out of breath and stop screaming before you hit the ground. I am tired. I am tired of having to save this planet from greedy little useless pieces of shit like you. It is time for you to die and enjoy eternity in the cold black of The Void. Please try not to land on any villager or defenceless animal down there.”
He had been standing out of breath and staring at me in horror since I disarmed him. Now he put this hand up in supplication.
He uttered, “Please…no…” before my half strength Unrelenting Force sent him plummeting to his death. I did not use the full force of my Thu’um because it would have killed him. This way he could enjoy the scenery on the way down. He was too out of breath to scream or he fainted so that was disappointing.
My Dovah went back to his cosy resting spot at the back of my mind and took all guilt and remorse with him. All I felt was satisfaction at a job well done.
I boarded Nafalilargus and headed to my room. Everybody knew not to say a word to me. They would never understand but Rigmor does. The last time I saw her exercise her dragon was when she tried to chop down that den with her beautiful sword. Swear words followed each stroke and in the end she prayed to a God for help. She made me promise I would set my Dovah loose on those who harmed her. I have made that promise several times.
I saw J’Zargo and simply said, “Ether to Solitude.”
I lay down on my bed and gave into the weariness. I did not lie when I told Argus I was tired of saving the fucking world. I just want it to be like yesterday and sit and talk and hold my beloved and enjoy it, not save it. Evermore would not let go yet.
The docked bell rang and I made my way on deck. To my surprise there were three ghosts standing at the entrance to the Explorer’s Guild. The Sentinel joined me and we slowly walked up to them.
When they noticed us they instantly turned hostile and we had to reduce them to piles of goo.
I said, “I have seen them before down below on one of the small islands. Locals say they died when their ship ran aground nearby. It looks like the extension outside the normal city walls has attracted their attention. They will be back as they have often been removed from the island and returned.”
We entered the Museum and soon found Auryen. He asked, “Surely you have not recovered the shards yet? It has been less than twenty four hours!”
“We have all five shards, the amulet mount and a bonus. I believe it is the shield of Reman Cyrodiil. We found it in the old Pale Pass fortress.”
“I don’t know why I still get amazed at what you can accomplish.”
“The airship, which I have named Nafalilargus, had been a blessing. The travel alone would have taken me several days without it.”
“Your father’s Dovah friend is the skeleton below it?”
“Sure is. I asked Odahviing and he told me and Paarthurnax confirmed it. They regard it as an honour, as the Khajiit intended, to have him flying with his friend’s son who is also a Dragonborn.”
“Here we go again Wulf. Off on tangents. Did you find out who is behind it all?”
I outlined the whole story of the day to him and he was as concerned as me about the implications.
“So the Mythic Dawn returns! I can’t imagine what their Dark Lord would want to use the amulet for.”
“Nothing good for us mortals we can be sure of that. In a way Ezra and Angus helped by being competent enough to get to shards before the Morag Tong but stupid enough to try and con me into helping.”
“Let me have a close look at that shield.”
I handed it to him. He turned it around and studied it from every angle.
Eventually he said, “Have you heard of the fabled Reman’s Wall? The intricate markings on this shield are, to my trained eyes, obviously done by the same artist. Being of dragon blood and soul you can sense some resonance between the shield and shards that I cannot. The place where it was hidden combined with these other facts makes it almost certain this is a shield that belonged to Reman Cyrodiil.”
“Is there anything tickling the non-indexed library of knowledge in that head of yours?”
“I do believe I have some more insight into this but I want to be certain. Can you come back in about 48 hours? I might even know who this ‘O’ is.”
“Of course I can Auryen. Rigmor will be delighted I can help with the courtly duties for a day or so.”
As Auryen went off muttering to himself we headed back to the airship.
I instructed Brelyna to take us a few miles out to sea and anchor for the night. At around 6AM I wanted her or J’Zargo to ether us to the Imperial City. I instructed that an alarm be used to give them a two hour warning to let them know we are coming.
I pulled The Sentinel aside and said, “After I disembark at the Imperial City you are to travel via ether to and from Dawnstar. While there you will invite our Mythic Dawn fan to visit myself and Rigmor in the throne room for an informal talk. He is not to be given any idea on what subject the talk will be about. He has a choice. He can come willingly and be given a nice comfy guest room to stay in or he can reside in the dungeon. Thanks.”
With that I headed for my room, sat and wrote this journal entry.
I crawled into bed, closed my eyes and relived the day with Rigmor at the overlook and natural spa.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know it was with a smile on my face.