THIS N’ THAT

Sundas, 15th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 202 & Morndas, 16th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 202

The walk from Rados’ hometown to Evermor was slow as I battled to keep my emotions under control. I don’t think it would have been possible to do so without Rigmor and our quiet. We discussed tactics as we enjoyed the scenery.

  • Wulf: Okay, how should I tackle Sigmayne?
  • Lydia: I think you should be as arrogant as possible. The Emperor gave you a big stick. Use it!
  • Rigmor: I agree. They think governors and lords are royalty and blessed by The Divines. Even Mede isn’t that arrogant! The only person I know who can be more arrogant is you, my beloved.
  • Wulf: Why do people confuse confidence with arrogance? I am not arrogant!!!
  • Rigmor: But you can be when arrogance is of use. Be the snotty, sneering, plumb in the mouth, stick up the arse noble that makes Thalmor look humble.
  • Wulf: Pretend I’m you?
  • Rigmor: Beg your pardon?
  • Wulf: I bet your voice changes when speaking to other Cyrodiil nobles. No swearing or slang, or common colloquialisms.
  • Rigmor: It is an act, so they don’t just regard me as some barbarian Nordling!
  • Inigo: Wulf is baiting you, Rigmor. Careful not to swallow the hook.
  • Wulf: I am quite happy to play an obnoxious noble, but you all have to play along.
  • Rigmor: We can do that by forcefully asserting your rank when required.
  • Wulf: Ahh…no lopping heads off!
  • Rigmor: Don’t worry, lower-class scum is allowed at least one chance to grovel before we do that.
  • Lydia: I think Rigmor will enjoy this charade.
  • Inigo: My friend, doing it this way allows you to point out truths and deliver insults while still being diplomatic.
  • Wulf: Okay then. Rude, arrogant, upper-class snob it is!
  • Rigmor: Now, walk and stand straighter. You have a stick up your arse.

I stood staring at the castle, which made three guards rather paranoid. They drew their swords when I cast a Mark on the walkway.

Even the slime that serves Sigmayne knew not to question a squad of Penitus Oculatus. We walked to the castle entrance without a challenge.

We entered, and Rigmor whispered, “Why aren’t the carpets straight? I could not sit on my throne for more than five minutes with wonky carpets in front of me!”

I replied, “I would have servants whose only job is to make sure the carpets are straight.”

“What about paintings hanging at an angle and vases not centred on tables?”

“I would have vase and painting adjusting servants as well!”

I smiled at my beloved. She smiled back, and the world got brighter.

Rigmor advised, “Protocol says we stop just before the steps leading down and wait to be announced.”

We made our way there. On the left of us was a statue of Lady Mara. On our right was the familiar statue of my father, crow’s feet included.

We listened in on a conversation Sigmayne was having with Kegor, his advisor.

  • Kegor: Your Majesty, we’ve seen the Orcs procuring more weapons from an unknown supplier. The Orsinium’s Sons would not be this powerful without some external help.
  • Sigmayne: And who, Kegor, do you suspect this illusive group is? Do you have any hard leads rather than theory?
  • Kegor: Forgive me, but it’s simple logic that dictates that such a ragtag militia of Orcs can’t resupply and arm themselves this fast without help. Every time they sustain massive losses, they seemingly come back with a force sporting even more numbers and weapons than before.
  • Sigmayne: Those damn Orcs…Ahem, beg my pardon. I shouldn’t air my grievances for all to hear. Well, keep to your investigation. And Kegor, whatever details you find, make sure to voice them with Horustair as I have my own matters to deal with currently.
  • Kegor: I will, and thank you for hearing me. I’ll have my leave and return to this case. Hopefully, I can find someone else to help as well.

Kegor walked towards us and stopped at the bottom of the stairs with a very unwelcoming look on his face.

  • Wulf: Kegor, would you like our assistance in investigating the Orsimer?
  • Kegor: It’s considered treason to listen in on the King’s affairs. Lucky for you, I’m not the king. So, I can let it slide.
  • Rigmor: Lucky for you, Envoy Valdr did not introduce himself before speaking. So perhaps he will be generous and ignore your impertinence.
  • Celestine: It is simple logic that dictates we are the prescribed distance from the throne as protocol demands.
  • Inigo: It is also simple logic that dictates visitors are not required to stand with their fingers in their ears while waiting for an audience.
  • Lydia: Simple logic also dictates that a squad of Penitus Oculatus are not citizens of Evermor and cannot, therefore, be accused of treason. Our oath and loyalty are to His Imperial Highness, not some minor king!
  • Rigmor: Kegor, this is Envoy Valdr. When you speak to him, you speak to His Imperial Highness, Emperor Titus Mede II. Be cognisant of that from now on.
  • Kegor: My apologies, but I am not one for protocol. I do need help with a particular task.
  • Wulf: You need somebody to spy on the Orsimer and gather evidence of collusion with a third party.
  • Kegor: If collusion means helping those bastards re-arm, then yeah, that is what I need.
  • Wulf: Do you have some idea where we should start our investigation?
  • Kegor: Yes, we had a tip from one of our scouts. The Orcs congregating around the old Direnni ruins of Umbasir are running low on gear and food.
  • Wulf: Umbasir is marked on my map. We will investigate for you.
  • Kegor: Whoever is supplying the Orcs hasn’t joined the fray for selfless reasons. They’re enacting their motives through the Orcs. And we are not sure why.
  • Wulf: I have my suspicions on who and why. But let’s gather the evidence before I lop off heads, shall we?
  • Kegor: Can you investigate Umbasir without being seen?
  • Rigmor: Envoy Valdr is a Master Mage. He could cast a spell and stand in the middle of a thousand Orsimer, and they would not know he is there.
  • Wulf: Or I could use The Voice and a Shout to go ethereal as another way of remaining undetected.
  • Kegor: The Voice? Are you The Dragonborn?
  • Inigo: His Excellency has been here for a week, and the advisor to King Sigmayne did not realise who he is? It is a wonder disgruntled rats haven’t overrun this kingdom.
  • Lydia: They might be planning an attack soon, judging by the numbers I have seen.
  • Kegor: I did hear that somebody matching your description routed the Redguards near The Bog.
  • Lydia: It seems demonstrations of efficient violence are the only way to earn respect in Evermor. So, we wiped out the corsairs without Jackos or his crew even getting their swords bloodied.
  • Kegor: Jackos, huh? I haven’t spoken to that wily dog for a while. The report of that action must be amongst my letters. Thanks for reminding me of my mounting paperwork.
  • Wulf: I would be concerned if my advisor was incapable of reading a report delivered almost a week ago.
  • Kegor: Yeah, well, if what you say is true and those Redguards are gone…
  • Rigmor: Kegor, we can accept a lack of protocol, but if you question our integrity once more, we will have a severe problem on our hands.
  • Lydia: The Redguards are gone!
  • Kegor: Okay… once again, no offence meant. Well, that means we can commence the next stage, which means ridding them for good.
  • Wulf: I doubt the corsair problem will be so easily eradicated. Not when this kingdom’s idiocy handed them Wayrest. Think of the corsairs as the navy of a powerful neighbour rather than a bunch of pirates. That way, the absurdity of your statement will be abundantly clear.
  • Rigmor: Kegor, cut the rhetoric and tell us what needs doing.
  • Kegor: There are scouting posts up the river, serving to guide whatever red ships come sailing our way. We would have dealt with them already if it wasn’t for the hazards such confines bring. Any skirmish could quickly flip to slaughter in a heartbeat.
  • Rigmor: Oh, we wouldn’t expect mere guards to handle such a dangerous task. They might split a hair or crack a fingernail. Maybe even get a splinter! I shudder at the thought.
  • Wulf: This small band before you will accomplish the task faster. And Kegor, they are Redguards. Don’t use xenophobic terminology near me!
  • Kegor: Oh, ah, it is apparent that you have got a mind for strategy. Since our scouts are hawking other targets, then you may need to undergo this without their assistance.
  • Wulf: Do I know strategy, or am I an expert in tactics? I get those two confused.
  • Inigo: Your Excellency is expert in both, as proven when leading armies into battle and small squads when doing tasks such as this.
  • Wulf: Splendid! I do amaze myself sometimes.
  • Kegor: If you hand me your map, I will mark the known locations of the three outposts. Burn whatever equipment that may exist and pacify any hostile threat in any way you see fit.
  • Wulf: Inspector Inigo, do we need permission to pacify any hostile threat in any way we see fit?
  • Inigo: No, but I am sure Advisor Kegor was not implying he was permitting us.
  • Rigmor: I have told you. Your Excellency that we must be tolerant of the backward ways of these tiny kingdoms. This one, in particular, is yet to discover soap.
  • Celestine: Your Excellency, may I suggest Fireballs? We can roast the corsairs and their equipment simultaneously.
  • Wulf: Maybe, but meteors are so much more fun and spectacular.
  • Lydia: Don’t use dragons as there would be nothing left for us to inspect, and they get all the fun.
  • Wulf: We might use a variety of slaughter methods. That might save us from boredom.

Kegor was staring at us with his mouth open. Rigmor waved her hands in front of him.

  • Rigmor: Ahem, Nirn to Kegor, are you in there? Are your hands clean?
  • Kegor: Ahh…why do you ask?
  • Rigmor: I will not pass His Excellencies map to you if it is to be made grotty!
  • Kegor: It looks pretty bloodstained as it is.
  • Rigmor: Yes, His Excellency likes lopping off heads, and the arterial spray can be dreadful.
  • Wulf: Inspector Betty, you can wipe the map down before I touch it.
  • Rigmor: Of course, Your Excellency.

Rigmor handed Kegor the bloodstained map, and he marked the locations of the three scouting posts. He then handed it back to Rigmor, who held it up to the light and made a show of wetting her fingers and rubbing at an imaginary smudge. Then she returned it to my map case.

  • Wulf: Are we finished here? I have to speak to King Sigmayne.
  • Rigmor: Yes, we are. Kegor, you are dismissed.
  • Kegor: Shouldn’t I announce you to the king?
  • Wulf: I think I can remember my name! And if I don’t, one of the others will.
  • Inigo: You can do it if you try, Your Excellency. We have faith in you.

Kegor left in a hurry and didn’t look back. We walked up to Sigmayne.

  • Rigmor: Your Excellency, this is King Sigmayne of the Kingdom of Evermor.
  • Wulf: Are you positive this is him? He doesn’t look very kingly. It could be one of his valets.
  • Rigmor: It is him, Your Excellency. Remember your archery practice yesterday?
  • Wulf: Let me look…yes, your right. I just imagined big holes in his head, and what do you know instant recognition!
  • Rigmor: King Sigmayne, I present to you Envoy Valdr, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines, Champion of Azura, Champion of Boethia, Champion of Sheogorath, Champion of Hermaeus Mora, Champion of Meridia, Hero of Solitude, Thane of Haafingar, Thane of Falkreath, Thane of Hjaalmarch, Thane of The Pale, Thane of The Reach, Thane of The Rift, Thane of Whiterun, Thane of Winterhold, Thane of Windhelm, Arch-Mage of The College of Winterhold, Commander of the Penitus Oculatus, Wizard Lord of House Telvanni, Lord of Dragons Keep and Lord of Silverpeak.
  • Wulf: And I won the annual Riften Sweet-Roll Consumption Trial three years running!
  • Sigmayne: Must I remind you that before royalty, one must bow?
  • Wulf: I bow to my superiors who, at this point, numbers only one other, that being His Imperial Highness. Are you so ignorant of noble ranks?
  • Rigmor: Forgive him, Your Excellency. I doubt anybody of your rank has visited this, umm, kingdom since Sigmayne first sat on that rather dull throne of his.
  • Sigmayne: Our Bishop relayed the message that your actions, along with your cohorts, halted the advance of a powerful Daedric entity from invading.
  • Wulf: What did he say about Daedra? It sounds like he has a plum in his mouth and had his balls cut off.
  • Rigmor: He called Namira a powerful Daedric entity.
  • Wulf: That is a bit like calling a tornado a bit windy.
  • Rigmor: Haha, your wit is excellent as usual, Your Excellency.
  • Wulf: Siggy, it is okay if I call you that I hope?

I waited three seconds. Sigmayne looked like a fish gasping for air.

  • Rigmor: Siggy seems okay with that convenient truncation, Your Excellency.
  • Wulf: Siggy, let me put this in terms you may be able to understand. We closed a fucking Oblivion Gate and prevented the slaughter of everybody in Evermor!
  • Lydia: We killed hundreds of Namira’s minions that would have been knocking on your door by now.
  • Wulf: In short, you owe us your life and kingdom. There is no need to thank us.
  • Sigmayne: When such an event occurs, it calls for an even rarer opportunity to award a knighthood. Although your shoulders have already carried the burden of an entire town, I am sure they can also carry the unparalleled importance of being a knight.
  • Wulf: Did Siggy say that being a knight is more important than being Champion of The Divines?
  • Inigo: Siggy said being a knight is unparalleled in importance. That absurdity implies none of your titles is as important as being a knight.
  • Wulf: Poppycock!
  • Rigmor: Balderdash!
  • Celestine: Codswallop!
  • Lydia: Hogwash!
  • Wulf: Tell me, Siggy, would this knighthood involve an oath?
  • Sigmayne: Of course.
  • Wulf: Recite the oath.
  • Sigmayne: Pardon?
  • Wulf: Inspector Betty, am I speaking too quickly for this local?
  • Rigmor: No, Your Excellency, but I don’t know if all his sheep are in the paddock.
  • Wulf: Oh, I had an aunty like that. She thought she could fly and launched herself into the air with a trebuchet. She was doing quite well till the castle wall got in the way. Very messy!
  • Rigmor: Perhaps Your Excellency might want to try once more?
  • Wulf: Siggy…recite…the…knight’s…oath.
  • Sigmayne: Is that necessary?
  • Lydia: It was not a request and in no way negotiable.
  • Sigmayne: Thousands of men would murder for a chance of knighthood without having to endure decades of work as my guard, yet you seem content to mock it!
  • Wulf: Recite the oath. I will not ask again!

Sigmayne cleared his throat and said,

  • “Revere The Nine and maintain their temples.
  • Serve the King in valour and faith.
  • Protect the weak and defenceless.
  • Give succour to widows and orphans.
  • Obey those placed in authority.
  • Guard the honour of fellow knights.
  • Never refuse a challenge from an equal.
  • Never turn your back upon a foe.
  • Eschew barbarity, malevolence and disorder.
  • Above all, keep the faith.”
  • Wulf: Does knighthood place the individual above others?
  • Sigmayne: Peasants are forced to respect a knight. Nobility accepts them as equals.
  • Wulf: Did you knight Sek and Mek?
  • Sigmayne: Yes, fine warriors both, and they have done much good for the kingdom.
  • Wulf: What kind of good? Murdering unarmed civilians at Munstor, or bringing underage children to you, or perhaps you refer to them terrorising the citizens of Arnima for years?
  • Sigmayne: I care not for your rank, do not cast aspersions at our knights!
  • Wulf: I killed Sek and Mek. We killed a few dozen Aventurier.  I don’t care about their rank or false oaths; any law breaker will be punished by me legally and without mercy.
  • Sigmayne: Oh…
  • Wulf: Tell me, Siggy, what did you think of that frumpy one? What was her name?
  • Rigmor: Her name was Merosa, Your Excellency.
  • Wulf: Yes, Siggy, what did you think of Merosa?
  • Sigmayne: She was somebody who was undeservedly burdened with what she governed. But she took it in her stride. It was a shame she couldn’t overcome her antipathy with Mortifayne. Oh, I remember her days within these very walls and how my father mentored her to become the leader she was destined to be. Fortunately, I’ve inherited my father’s love for the young and the want to nurture them for a prospective future.
  • Wulf: No wonder Merosa turned into a crabby old spinster. Molestation does terrible things to a child.
  • Lydia: That doesn’t excuse her oath-breaking, Your Excellency.
  • Wulf: No, it doesn’t. If Mortifayne hadn’t made her head fall off, I would have removed it. I must learn that spell! Quite spectacular and a lot of fun at parties, I’m sure.
  • Rigmor: ‘Come here, little girl. Undo my fly, then sit on my lap as it is time for more nurturing.’
  • Sigmayne: What are you implying?
  • Wulf: Not implying, Siggy, but stating facts. Your daddy was a child molester and must have been so proud you followed in his footsteps. You went to war because a father would not let you molest his child and put you in a cell to protect her. I have no proof that you have been harming children since then. You had better hope I don’t find any.
  • Sigmayne: Look all you want. There is no evidence!
  • Wulf: Back to more platable business. What will happen to The Divide now?
  • Sigmayne: A transient council has been assembled to ensure order there. You may have met them. Fenig, Entemon and Helga. We are having deliberations on Merosa’s replacement. No people should be without a shepherd for long.
  • Wulf: You see, Siggy, that is where you have it very wrong. People are not sheep and do not need herding. They need leaders who teach by example. If you want your people to work hard, show them how it is done. You want your people to worship The Nine, try doing it yourself.
  • Sigmayne: We are faithful followers of The Nine. Have you not seen our magnificent temples?
  • Wulf: Do not dare tell me you follow the teachings of The Nine! If you did, the war with Wayrest, the massacre at Munstor and the invasion by Namira would not have occurred. You use blasphemous teachings about The Nine to control the population.
  • Sigmayne: That is…
  • Wulf: King Sigmayne, I am not interested in your lies and excuses. I advise you strongly to refrain from trying to defend the indefensible. Just answer my questions like a good boy, okay?
  • Sigmayne: How about you answer me? Why are you in my kingdom?
  • Wulf: I have been running around for more than a week fixing things, and you still don’t know why I am here?
  • Rigmor: His Imperial Highness and Lady Mara asked Envoy Valdr to stop Evermor from disappearing up its butthole.
  • Wulf: There is great evil in Evermor, and I will root it out. The citizens need protection from this evil. It is bad enough they have to worry about the dangers outside the cities and towns!
  • Rigmor: Do you need a drink of water, King Sigmayne? You are turning quite red and seem to have difficulty breathing.

We waited for a few seconds and struggled not to giggle as Sigmayne’s outrage battled with his self-preservation. He was a politician and knew the game well. He soon controlled himself so we could continue.

  • Wulf: Siggy, what did you think of ol’ Morty?
  • Sigmayne: He was a tragic figure. I enjoyed having him as my vanguard in The Reach, despite his vicious temperament.
  • Wulf: Why didn’t you remove him earlier?
  • Sigmayne: Mortifayne was no different from those who preceded him in that land, although his application of power may have been a tad more extreme.
  • Wulf: He butchered his citizens for two decades!
  • Sigmayne: If only he didn’t interfere with the merchants and let them on their merry way to this city, he would still be alive. Such a shame.
  • Wulf: Inspectors, you heard the truth from King Sigmayne’s mouth. He cared not for the people but only the gold. Evermor nobility does not worship The Nine. It worships wealth.
  • Sigmayne: Cease with the melodrama lest you incense me! Merchants have brought inordinate wealth to this kingdom. These funds have raised the prominence of the east so that it may compare to that of Daggerfall even. We are no longer the ‘Uncivilised Hinterland’ but rich and proud now! And we will stay that way. Besides, the people of Raven Spring have grown strong and full of conviction even after all they’ve gone through. Our greatest soldiers are pooled directly from The Reach, if you haven’t noticed. We need them as much as they need us.
  • Wulf: Incense you?
  • Rigmor: Your Excellency, please control yourself. We are in parley.

I used The Voice.

“KING SIGMAYNE, YOU HAVE MADE THE CITIZENS OF EVERMOR SLAVES. YOU HAVE ALLOWED THE TEACHING OF FALSE HISTORY, AND YOUR WORSHIP OF THE NINES IS BLASPHEMY AT ITS WORST. YOU ARE A CHILD-ABUSING PIECE OF SHIT, AND IT IS ONLY THE SANCTITY OF PARLEY THAT STOPS ME EXACTING JUSTICE HERE AND NOW!”

I turned and walked away with The Sentinels trailing.

Two guards responded to a silent signal from Sigmayne.  They drew their weapons and approached. I growled, “You will both die if you do not sheath those weapons and step away.”

They moved towards me, so I cut them down.

The three guards from outside entered, and we quickly dispensed with them.

With my back still to Sigmayne, I yelled, “That was a breach of parley. But still, I let you live as I may need more questions answered. If you want any of your guards to remain alive, tell them to leave us alone.”

We stepped outside and were not concerned that Sigmayne would send more guards to their death. He still had a slim chance of surviving, but only if he bided his time and planned vengeance.

We decided to have a wander around and have a closer look at Evermor city.

A spirit of a little girl manifested in front of me. Before I could talk to her, she pleaded, “Stop them. Please stop them!”. Then she vanished.

I quietly replied, “Yes, little one. I will stop them. Even if I have to kill them all, I will stop them!”

Rigmor said, “We must remain focused. We need to find out if Namira has further plans. We can take care of Sigmayne and the others after we have made the citizens safe.”

“Then let us find the Imperial Advisor, Vaeser. He will not recognise you, will he?”

“No, I did some research before joining you. Vaeser has been in Evermor for quite some time.”

We asked some guards who pointed us to Vaeser’s residence. He was standing outside.

  • Wulf: Are you Advisor Vaeser?
  • Vaeser: Yes, and you must be Envoy Valdr. I received paperwork informing me of your visit several days ago. But if the rumours from Raven Spring are correct, I can understand the delay in this meeting.
  • Wulf: If the rumours say an Oblivion Gate opened in the middle of the town, then they are correct.
  • Vaeser: Are you aware of my duties in Evermor?
  • Rigmor: Your Excellency, Advisor Vaeser has a seat on The Council. He relays word from The Empire and serves as a conduit for their dealings with Evermor.
  • Wulf: Advisor, how is The Empire regarded in Evermor?
  • Vaeser: High Rock is the last stable province that has held loyal to Cyrodiil since The Great War. Although people like me used to confer our skills to the many states throughout the province, we now limit ourselves to one. I hate to admit that The Empire is becoming weaker, but the recent fracturing of alliances with High Rock displays The Empire’s inability to control.
  • Wulf: Your subjective opinion of The Empire needs revision. I ended Skyrim’s civil war with minimal casualties and damage. The armies of The Empire easily defeated The New Order. High Queen Elisif has the full support of all Jarls and is a popular and adept leader. There are currently seven Imperial Legions ready to defend The Empire and put down any hint of insurrection.
  • Lydia: People thought Ulfric and his Stormcloaks had a chance to defeat The Empire. They never did.
  • Rigmor: His Imperial Highness did not want widespread destruction, so he kept the number of troops deployed in Skyrim to a lower level than General Tullius requested.
  • Wulf: I am tired of politics, Advisor Vaeser, and will gladly leave that excrement to you. However, I am concerned about a Blade who is in hiding. The Thalmor are trying to find him. I cannot allow that.
  • Vaeser: I wouldn’t put it past Naruman to try and recruit you for that task.
  • Wulf: He did try.
  • Rigmor: Envoy Valdr is The Dragonborn, and all Blades are sworn to his service. There was zero chance he would hunt down one of his own.
  • Inigo: Especially not for The Thalmor, who are not his favourite people.
  • Wulf: Where is the Blade, and what is his name?
  • Vaeser: He is in Dissenter’s Peak, and his name is Titalo Brolicius. He is originally from Cheydinhal.
  • Wulf: I see that Dissenter’s Peak is on my map. We should be able to get to it tomorrow sometime.
  • Vaeser: Then I can tell Naruman this his sighting was a fib.
  • Wulf: No, I will tell Naruman that Titalo is now safe with the other Blades I have hidden from The Thalmor.
  • Rigmor: His Excellency will teleport Titalo to Skyrim.
  • Vaeser: Naruman will be displeased, and he can be a dangerous person to cross!
  • Wulf: I am already on his list of people to be assassinated. I might just kill him. We shall see.
  • Vaeser: You suspect The Thalmor of other interference, don’t you?
  • Wulf: I have seen no evidence of them trying to eradicate Talos worship in Evermor, have you?
  • Vaeser: No, none at all.
  • Wulf: So, what are they doing here? What did you say High Rock was?
  • Vaeser: The last stable province? Ahh, they are trying to steal it from The Empire.
  • Wulf: Or at least make it break away.
  • Vaeser: Do you have proof of this?
  • Wulf: No, just a hunch. But they are never subtle. I am sure if they are up to something, it will become evident.
  • Rigmor: And then they will deny all responsibility. Well, the leadership of The Dominion will.
  • Wulf: They will claim rebels working against Dominion orders were the problem.
  • Vaeser: Like The New Order!
  • Wulf: And a Thalmor agent at The College of Winterhold that was very close to destroying Nirn.
  • Vaeser: I wish you and your team the best, Envoy Valdr.
  • Wulf: Blessings of The Nine, Advisor Vaeser.

We exited Evermor city and started our journey to Umbasir.

I decided to cross over some mountains rather than stick to the winding roads through the valleys.

What looked like a picturesque and quaint village from the top of a mountain was everything but. It had been taken over by Exiles, who are just bandits with a fancy name. We killed them all.

No villagers had been left alive by the bandits.

We continued without further incident and stopped once the walls of Umbasir came into view.

I told The Sentinels to stay where they were.

I then went invisible and entered the grounds of Umbasir.

Many Orsimer occupied the area around the ruins.

I could see a Thalmor agent in the distance.

I jumped down to approach him when I felt a familiar presence nearby. Hermaeus Mora’s avatar was somewhere in the immediate vicinity.

I approached the entrance to the Umbasir ruins, and I knew that through the door, I would find Mora.

That annoying Dark Lord has nothing to do with my current task. Therefore, I approached the Thalmor instead.

  • Artnil: Urk-Magzor, I hope you are still keeping to our schedule. It’ll be a shame for your kind to lose their momentum now.
  • Urk-Magzor: You worry too much, Agent Artnil. Just give us the gear, and we’ll do the rest. You don’t like speaking to us, and we sure don’t like talking to you.
  • Artnil: A mutual sentiment, I assure you. Have you spoken to your friends at that outpost?
  • Urk-Magzor: The imperial one? Nah, the big chief over there hasn’t sent someone over in weeks. Dunno what’s wrong with ‘im.
  • Artnil: As usual, your kind behaves like your goblin cohorts in the first week of an organised occupation. You will send for that Imperial Warchief and speak!
  • Urk-Magzor: Listen, hurry and bring those supplies. As I said, we’ll do what you lot want, and you pay us. Simple!
  • Artnil: If only it were ever that simple with your kind. The gear will be here in the next day or so. Remember, you must leave one witness from Dunlain alive. Do what you do with the rest.
  • Urk-Magzor: Hah, don’t you worry. We’ve sharpened some brand-new spikes just for em’. We got a bet going for how high we can leave ‘em hanging before they slide down.
  • Artnil: You are such a morbid race. Anyway, we’ll speak again after the contract is completed.

I debated killing them all. The mention of a possible traitor within the Legion stopped me from doing so. I needed to weed them out, and if I killed the Orsimer and Artnil, I might lose that chance.

I made my way back to The Sentinels.

  • Wulf: I know this is hard to believe, and it will come as a shock. The Thalmor are supplying food and weapons to Orsinium’s Sons!
  • Inigo: My friend, you must be mistaken. Our kind and caring Thalmor friends would never do such a thing!
  • Rigmor: Are they organising them as well?
  • Wulf: I think they hire them to do particular jobs but leave them to their own devices most of the time. They are planning on attacking Dunlain and will leave one witness alive.
  • Lydia: They will school the survivor on what to say.
  • Wulf: Yes, to report who did it and the atrocities committed. They plan on placing everybody on spikes, whether alive or dead.
  • Celestine: Dunlain?
  • Wulf: Yes, where the Augur of Dunlain is from.
  • Rigmor: That is the weird energy person you told me about.
  • Wulf: Yes, he lives under The College of Winterhold.
  • Lydia: When do they plan to attack Dunlain?
  • Wulf: The weapons will be supplied in a day or two. How quickly after that, I don’t know.
  • Rigmor: This attack is meant to make the Legion look incompetent.
  • Lydia: I suggest we let Commander Drugo know so he can hide Legionnaires throughout Dunlain. The Orsinium’s Sons will be caught by surprise and slaughtered. The Legion are heroes, and The Thalmor plan is ruined.
  • Wulf: Lydia, that would be the logical thing to do but for one huge problem. It seems somebody senior in the Legion is a traitor. Most likely, that traitor is Commander Drugo.
  • Inigo: Is that why you left the Thalmor agent and Orsimer alive? We saw quite a few Orsimer coming and going. We thought you would end up killing them all!
  • Wulf: Yes, I was tempted to summon the squad and start killing. However, I thought we would lose the chance to find the traitor if we did that.
  • Rigmor: So, what do you want to do about the threat to Dunlain?
  • Wulf: I don’t know as yet. Let’s discuss it after we report to Kegor. Maybe Lydia’s idea is best.
  • Rigmor: Okay, that sounds sensible.
  • Wulf: Something is disturbing about the ruins of Umbasir. I sensed that Hermaeus Mora was just inside the entrance.
  • Rigmor: You gonna speak to your tentacled friend?
  • Wulf: At the moment, I don’t know if Umbasir and Mora are related to the problems in Evermor. I might ask somebody what they know of the ruins before potentially wasting time exploring them.
  • Celestine: There is one other group of troublemakers we haven’t addressed, the necromancers.
  • Wulf: Okay, we will ask the Arch-Faker about them as Fenrig suggested.
  • Lydia: None of this sounds like Namira is involved.
  • Wulf: At the moment, we have no idea where to look next for Namira’s plan or discover if she has one.
  • Rigmor: If we can eliminate the Redguard threat and the necromancers, two factions are no longer in the mix. I doubt we can resolve the Orsimer problem as quickly, but we have a chance to make the Legion’s position stronger and save the people of Dunlain.
  • Wulf: We will do what we can for the people of Evermor as opportunities to do so become available.
  • Lydia: I understand. In a way, dealing with corsairs and necromancers seems kind of relaxing and normal.
  • Inigo: Yes, this particular blue Khajiit could do without meeting any more of those long-armed Daedra.
  • Rigmor: Those Crawlers are your kind of monster!
  • Inigo: Yes and no. They are spider type things, but they didn’t make wonderful crunchy sounds when hit.
  • Wulf: Okay, let’s talk to Kegor.

I Recalled to the Mark outside the castle. Three new guards kept their position. A lesson was learned, I think.

The others joined me, and a few nervous guards pointed us to Kegor. It seems the lesson from the morning was very well learned.

  • Wulf: Advisor Kegor, as I suspected, The Thalmor are supplying Orsinium’s Sons.
  • Kegor: Woah now, don’t go making those types of accusations so soon. What were they wearing? And what did they say?
  • Rigmor: Once again, Advisor, you question the competence of His Excellency.
  • Wulf: Kegor, I have killed hundreds of Thalmor. I have fought them on the battlefield and infiltrated their embassy in Skyrim. I butcher their patrols who are searching for Talos worshippers. I know a Thalmor when I see one, and I know them when I smell one!
  • Inigo: I doubt there is another person on this planet that The Thalmor hate more than His Excellency.
  • Wulf: Thalmor Agent Artnil spoke to Urk-Magzor. The Thalmor will provide food and weapons to the Orsimer at Umbasir but not for free. The Orsimer are to attack Dunlain and have been instructed to kill all but one witness. The rest are to be placed on spikes, dead or alive.
  • Kegor: That is grave news, to know the Thalmor are implicated in the making of this extremist group. I had the slightest hunch that it was possible.
  • Wulf: You are making an assumption not supported by fact. We know Thalmor aid is being given to Urk-Magzor’s rabble. We do not know if Thalmor influence is widespread throughout Orsinium’s Sons.
  • Kegor: Maybe so, but directly giving any Orcs munitions and directives on where to attack and how is disturbing. Gods, we don’t want this news becoming public!
  • Wulf: What is your concern, Advisor?
  • Kegor: We can’t have what happened in Skyrim and its civil war happen in High Rock. There is enough animosity towards The Empire’s lack of action here.
  • Wulf: Excuse me, but dozens of Legionnaires died protecting Arnima! Thousands of them have given their lives for the people of Evermor over the decades. They are not responsible for law and order. That responsibility and failure belong to people such as you.
  • Kegor: You must promise me not to tell anyone else who you saw there. And pray tell, is the agent still alive?
  • Wulf: The agent is still alive because there is more to this than I will disclose to you. The attack on Dunlain is designed to throw doubt on The Empire and the Imperial Legion’s ability to protect Evermor. We will use this opportunity to show their competence instead! I want the attacking Orsimer to be killed by Legionnaires. I will order Commander Drugo to secretly populate the town with Legionnaires and have others close by.
  • Kegor: But…
  • Wulf: We will let everybody know the Empire wiped out the corsairs and repelled the Daedric invasion.
  • Kegor: Okay, I get the idea. I will speak to Sir Horustair and decide whether to inform King Sigmayne about this news. This case has become very worrisome indeed.
  • Wulf: Did you have dealings with Mortifayne?
  • Kegor: Seldom, if ever. I had others talk on my behalf as the whispers of his paranoia were enough to have me avoid him. That’s one of the great merits of bureaucracy, getting those beneath you to undertake tasks you wouldn’t. Sigmayne was far too lenient on the tyrant. The allure of greater prosperity can keep the eyes away from any atrocity.
  • Wulf: Siggy didn’t do anything until his coffers were threatened.
  • Kegor: Siggy?
  • Wulf: Oh, that thing knows I will not call him king, so, Siggy it is.
  • Rigmor: Please don’t pretend to be offended, Kegor. After all, you are worried about how that abuser of children would react to Thalmor interference. You also have reservations about his competence.
  • Kegor: It is true. Almost as soon as the news was spread by the merchant’s of Mortifayne’s meddling, the decree was inked to have his lordship revoked.
  • Wulf: Is there anything else we should look out for when taking care of the corsair scouting posts.
  • Kegor: Well, I hesitate to ask, but you are out that way.
  • Wulf: Just ask, Advisor, we don’t bite.
  • Rigmor: Why use your teeth when you carry a sword?
  • Kegor: We are overdue for reports from three crucial assets. The first is from Deepcrag, which was recently liberated and is presently under repair.
  • Wulf: Inspectors, why wasn’t I told that Deepcrag had been liberated?
  • Celestine: Your Excellency, we did the liberating. Remember, you lopped the heads off their champion and their Warchief.
  • Wulf: I lop off lots of heads in combat. Give me more to go by.
  • Celestine: The Warchief’s head went tumbling just after the naked rapist’s head.
  • Wulf: Oh, I remember now. How could I forget that we had liberated Deepcrag? Silly old me!
  • Rigmor: Your Excellency, I think sarcasm might be wasted in this instance.
  • Wulf: Oh, of course.
  • Rigmor: Yes, Advisor, we shall obtain the report from the Legion Officer at Deepcrag. From where are the other two reports to be collected?
  • Kegor: You lot don’t pull punches, do you?
  • Rigmor: The other two reports?
  • Kegor: Second report needs collecting from Lonely Griffon’s Retreat. That is a fine appellation for our most remote outpost bordering the northern wastes. You’ll have to find a man called Tyyr. Please don’t kill him even if he is a bit short of temper and manners.
  • Wulf: Not everybody can be a beacon of tolerance and forbearance, such as myself. Don’t fear for the man. Perhaps his teeth but not the man.

Rigmor lost it and started snickering and then giggling. After I gave her a snotty, disapproving stare, the giggling turned into guffaws as tears rolled down her cheeks.

  • Lydia: Please continue. I am sure Inspector Betty will regain control, eventually.
  • Kegor: Ahem, yes, lastly, there’s the mines within the southern mire. ‘The Bog’ for short. There is an overseer there who keeps the labour in check. He’ll have our report.
  • Wulf: I am curious as to why money is suddenly being spent. Much of the damage seen in our travels has been there for a long time.
  • Kegor: The principal reason is that we’ve, sorry, you’ve taken care of our most significant hindrances within the realm. Therefore, our gold wouldn’t be wasted where it would soon be looted again.
  • Wulf: Perhaps Siggy has a forlorn hope that a trickle of gold will make the silly Envoy forget the poverty, injustice, blasphemy and child molestation.
  • Kegor: Perhaps, but you must also consider the following. The provincial merchants are filling the treasury, so there is no need to hoard such wealth when half the land is in ruin.
  • Wulf: Does Siggy want to return to the days of the Direnni Hegemony where the holy clinking of gold coins smothered all morals and empathy?
  • Kegor: Yes, it seems that the merchant’s whims are the King’s whims. The merchants have grand plans, worrying plans. Especially those pertinent to New Orsinium and the trade route it borders.
  • Wulf: So, they have finally discovered its location.
  • Kegor: Not precisely. There has been many an enclave that’s been mistaken for their capital. Yet we know the Orcs aren’t content with scant dwellings. We are sure that they’re close to the Imperial road, leading out from The Divide through the valleys to Cyrodiil. That is a major trade route, and therefore their presence threatens the merchants.
  • Wulf: And what do you know of the plans of the merchants?
  • Kegor: As a military man, I’ve been sought for advice. Tactical aid and the like. And the plans drawn for the ‘Orc Problem’ are terrifying.
  • Wulf: That bad?
  • Kegor: From what I’ve seen, this could be the final epoch of the Orc race. It is only a matter of time until those enclaves in Skyrim are under threat. Eventually, there won’t be one hole the Orcs can call their own.
  • Wulf: New Orsinium has been gifted to the Orsimer by His Imperial Highness. It is a protectorate of The Empire, and any military action would be treason and met with the full might of the Legion. Any planning of such military action is sedition if I am generous, treason if I am truthful.
  • Kegor: I do not want any part of what they plan. It is wrong!
  • Lydia: The Nord’s of Skyrim respect their Orsimer countrymen. Any force threatening that relationship would have to get past berserkers and shield walls first. No, Kegor, the Orsimer of Skyrim shall always have their homes.
  • Wulf: Lisrier Gulinds.
  • Kegor: Pardon?
  • Wulf: Advisor Kegor, is Lisrier Gulinds one of the merchants planning to attack New Orsimer?

Rigmor had quickly recovered from her jovial state when she heard my tone of voice.

  • Rigmor: We have been playing games up to now, Kegor. I advise you to answer swiftly and honestly.
  • Kegor: They are a ruthless lot. They would do anything for coin!
  • Wulf: How would they know who our informant was? We talk to lots of people. So, answer me or be locked up until you do. Is Lisrier Gulinds guilty of sedition?
  • Kegor: Yes, he is one of the more vocal and racist of the lot!
  • Wulf: Thank you, Kegor.
  • Rigmor: Your Excellency, I think Kegor told them to stay away from him once he realised what they planned.
  • Wulf: I agree, Inspector. And he has placed himself in danger by telling the truth.
  • Rigmor: Lucky for Kegor, no charges will be laid against him.
  • Wulf: Yes, it would serve no purpose for Kegor to spend decades making little rocks out of big rocks in a quarry.
  • Rigmor: Shall we go blow up some corsairs now? We have been looking forward to it.
  • Wulf: We shall return the reports to you as soon as we can, Advisor Kegor.

We left Kegor ashen and shaking.

By using Soul Stones and teleporting, the trip to The Bog did not take long.

We approached a well-dressed Breton, assuming he was the foreman or overseer of the mine.

  • Wulf: Are you the foreman?
  • Orreon: Overseer.
  • Wulf: I am Envoy Valdr. Is there a situation here?
  • Orreon: You are the ones who saved Raven Spring from the demons!
  • Wulf: Yes, with the assistance of the Legion, local guards and the brave people of the town.
  • Orreon: One of the greenskins has got loose and is holding a reserve hostage. Dumb grock, he knows exactly how this will end if he dares go for blood.
  • Celestine: It sounds like the overseer has had an impoverished upbringing. Breton of quality would never use racist terms to describe Orsimer.
  • Wulf: Overseer, what is your full name?
  • Orreon: Why?
  • Wulf: Because I asked, and by law, you have to answer. What is your name?
  • Orreon: Orreon Frernius.
  • Wulf: Let’s try again, Overseer Frernius. Is there a situation here?
  • Orreon: Ah, one of the Orsimer has got loose and is holding a reserve as a hostage. Dumb Orsimer, he knows exactly how this will end if he dares go for blood.
  • Wulf: I will enter and speak with the Orsimer and see if we can negotiate our way out of this.

I handed my sword, shield and bow to Rigmor, then entered the mine.

I put my hands up in the air and slowly approached the Orsimer and hostage.

“Halt! Have you come to finish me off? You had better think twice. I’ll kill this man if you come any closer!”

“I am Envoy Valdr, and I speak with the authority of our Emperor. What is your name, and why have you taken a hostage?”

“I am Baggmar Gatol. I have taken a hostage ‘cause there ain’t no change while in chains. They are breeding my brothers to work in those damn mines and quarries. They are broken Orc who dare not speak, like beaten dogs!”

“They breed slaves?”

“Supposed to be against the law, ain’t it? Perhaps them laws don’t apply to us Orcs?”

“Baggmar, the laws against slavery apply to all citizens of The Empire. Those who committed this most heinous of crimes will swap places with the enslaved Orsimer, I can assure you of that. But we have to do this carefully. Otherwise, they may decide to eliminate the evidence.”

“They would do that as they are animals!”

“I am bloodkin to the Orsimer of Skyrim and count many as friends and allies. I swear on my gods, The Divines, that this travesty will soon end and the guilty brought to justice. Do you accept this oath, Baggmar Gatol?”

“You came here unarmed and talked with respect. Yes, Envoy Valdr, I accept your oath.”

“Reserve, what is your name?”

“Mebesis Hawkon, your lordship.”

“Mebesis, are you a reserve?”

“Is that what they said? No, I am a conscript.”

“And how did you become a conscript?”

“A noble girl accused me of saying lewd things to her. They beat me up badly and then made me a soldier. I didn’t say a word to her, your lordship. Some fine gentlemen nearby did, but they would not believe me and beat me more for telling lies about fine nobles.”

“You have experienced injustice. Do you think that breeding Orsimer as slaves is right?”

“Not at all, your lordship. If you worry about me overhearing what you said, I promise I will not say a word. I would do nothing to help the bastards that made me a conscript.”

“Run home, Mebesis, I will write you a pardon. Now go!”

Baggmar released Mebesis, who ran to the exit.

I stood before Baggmar and was appalled at what I saw.

I asked, “What is the cage on your head for?”

“They put chains through them and lead us like cattle. They hit them with their batons, and as you can see, it goes through my jaw. So that banging with the baton does not tickle.”

“What was your crime, Baggmar?”

“I was guilty of having green skin and being caught by the press-gang.”

“You are here without being charged with a crime or time in court?”

“Yes, but at least I can talk. And I don’t want one of them pardons.”

“Why is that?”

“I can help my kin by being with them. But only if the Manmer don’t just kill me for revenge.”

“I will do my best to stop that from happening, Baggmar. Let me talk with Overseer Frernius. I will be back soon.”

I approached the overseer, and The Sentinels immediately knew my mood was foul. Inigo stood next to Orreon.

  • Wulf: Overseer Frernius, Mebesis is free and no longer a conscript. Baggmar is to be returned to the mines unharmed.
  • Orreon: Unharmed? Ha! Talking to greenskin scum like they ain’t animals is a good way to get mauled. That grock is going to taste the hook.
  • Inigo: And what is the hook?
  • Orreon: Ain’t you ever seen a hookin’? You place the hook right under their bottom rib and let them hang for a good couple of days. Normally the flies get to them, and normally we let them fester for a while before giving the grock a good whack to get rid of them.

Rigmor walked up and handed me my sword and shield. Orreon was oblivious to the significance of that action.

  • Orreon: Here, since you helped out, you can pick a spot where this greenskin will hang.
  • Wulf: Don’t you think torturing Baggmar will only incite the other Orsimer to rebel?
  • Orreon: Hopefully, then we’ll just bring out the crossbows and have em’ all swimming in their own blood in no time. The only way savages learn is through blood. You, of all people, should know that.
  • Wulf: As Envoy, I speak with the authority of His Imperial Highness. With these Inspectors as witnesses, I order that effective immediately, no Orsimer miner or prisoner is to be subjected to torture, beating or maltreatment in any form. Do you understand and agree, Orreon Frernius?
  • Orreon: Fuck off!
  • Wulf: Inspector Inigo, kill this piece of shit.

We drew our swords simultaneously. Orreon was surrounded by those with the lawful right to cut him down.

  • Orreon: All right! All right! I agree. But mark my words, that Orc will see a blade another day.
  • Wulf: I will have the Legion check on the health of Baggmar at random intervals. If he should die of anything but old age, you will be held responsible.
  • Rigmor: An intelligent overseer would realise that is not an empty threat. A short-lived overseer would think it a bluff.
  • Wulf: Overseer Frernius, you said that the only way savages learn is through blood.
  • Orreon: It’s true!
  • Wulf: Then I hope you learn from your own.

I smashed the pommel of my sword into Orreon’s nose. The crack was audible, and the sprayed blood was substantial in volume. He fell like a sack of wheat.

I said, “Celestine, heal that bastard just enough so he is conscious. Don’t do anything about the pain or broken nose. Oh, before you bring him to, check if he has the report on him.”

Celestine searched Orreon and found the report, which she handed to me. Then she did some minor healing, and Orreon started rolling around in agony. I despise torture but breaking his nose was just punishment. It is a pity Celestine’s merciful healing did not stop the agony.

I looked at the report then quickly walked back into the mine. In the usual costs column, along with building materials and wages, were the deaths of eleven greenskins. Value was estimated at 110 septims. No cause of death was given. I could guess.

“Overseer Frernius has sworn to stop all illegal punishments. I broke his nose to seal the oath. Return to the others and tell them with confidence that they will soon be free.”

“I thank you, bloodkin.”

When I exited the mine, Orreon called for help and claimed we had tried to kill him. Nobody came to his aid.

To save travel time and a lot of back and forth, we decided to wipe out a nearby corsair scout outpost next. The weather conditions gave everything a blue tint which made a nice change from green. The Sentinels knew something had upset me. Rigmor knew via our rings that I was livid.

I looked up at the moons then sighed.

  • Rigmor: Okay, my beloved, share it with us.
  • Wulf: I am glad Ghorbash is not with us. He would have started killing, and I wouldn’t have blamed him.
  • Inigo: My friend, you exited the mine and were furious before you spoke to that idiot. What did Baggmar tell you?
  • Wulf: They breed Orsimer to work in the quarries and mines. Baggmar said they couldn’t even speak. He stayed in that mine even though he knew I could set him free. He wants to help his people survive. A press-gang caught Baggmar. He, too, is a slave.

There was silence. And then there was weeping from Celestine. Lydia held her and let the young mage sob into her shoulder.

  • Rigmor: Mede will not tolerate this!
  • Wulf: He has no choice but to appoint a governor and send in a Legion or two. These people cannot remain in power. This kingdom needs new leaders and priests.
  • Rigmor: I could go home and then ride to the Imperial City. Get an audience and tell Mede what is happening.
  • Wulf: No, we have to be seen to have fixed more issues. That way, more people will accept military rule. I can’t do this without you.
  • Inigo: We must be careful. Otherwise, evidence may be destroyed.
  • Rigmor: What evidence in particular?
  • Wulf: Slaves and children that can testify.
  • Rigmor: They wouldn’t dare!
  • Wulf: Rigmor, they dared to breed and capture slaves. They slaughtered half the kingdom’s serfs and their families at Munstor. Who knows what they have done with the children and in what numbers? We are dealing with immoral monsters capable of anything.
  • Rigmor: So, what can we do?
  • Wulf: We investigate and accumulate evidence. Then we co-ordinate raids to catch as many criminals as we can unawares. Then we go back home and let the Imperial Governor and soldiers deal with the aftermath.
  • Inigo: Then we take many, many baths and maybe get rid of the filth and stench of this place.

Celestine and Lydia had been listening. Celestine was now able to contribute. We all felt like holding her tight and telling her everything would work out okay.

  • Celestine: I am sorry, but this kingdom’s horrors keep compounding. I have difficulty with the reality that other people think all of this is normal.
  • Wulf: The slavery, the child molesting and many other unforgivable actions of this kingdom have nothing to do with gods. It is all mortal free will creating evil.
  • Lydia: A perfect place for Dark Lord’s to recruit and scheme.
  • Wulf: Let’s keep moving. We are not going to solve these issues by chinwagging.
  • Celestine: Or crying.
  • Wulf: Celestine, crying helps. Never hold back the tears!

We swam to a small island where the first corsair scout outpost was situated.

I told The Sentinels, “Wait here. Let me have a look, and if I need help, I will ask for it.”

Only a handful of corsairs manned the outpost.

A few fireballs later, they were dead.

The corsairs sent messages via a code using a light being turned on and off in rapid succession. The light was concentrated via crystals and lenses, and a button was used to send the code sequence.

A Flames spell reduced the apparatus to ashes.

We swam from island to island but decided it was not wise to try and sneak past an Orsimer outpost.

We eliminated the Orsimer with flame and arrow.

We approached the second corsair scout outpost, and once again, Fireballs and Flame spells destroyed it and the corsairs.

The third corsair scout outpost was an easy target for Fireballs.

Once the corsairs were eliminated, Flames was once again used to destroy the apparatus.

I used the Mark at the Forlorn southern bridge, and then we rapidly made out way to Deepcrag.

Sentries directed us to where their commanding officer was situated.

We entered the command tower and made our way to his office. The Lieutenant was familiar to me from the embassy. He stood and saluted as soon as he saw us.

“At ease, Lieutenant. We are here to pick up the progress report on the repairs.”

The Lieutenant handed me a hefty sheath of papers. The Bog report was one page with penmanship and grammar that would embarrass a young child. The Imperial report was several dozen ruled pages. The calligraphy, grammar and all other aspects were perfect. It was a prime example of Imperial efficiency. I wondered how neat the page was where my name, Wulf, was entered at Helgen.

I said, “This bundle of bureaucracy feels like The Empire!”

“Oh, there is more to be sent in coming days.”

“You are an evil man, Lieutenant.”

“Sigmayne worries so much over every septim. It is my pleasant duty to alleviate his stress by having countless cross-references for each one spent.”

“Keep up the good work. And I hope the cost of the parchment is billed to Siggy.”

“Of course, Your Excellency, I have even charged him for ink!”

I was still laughing when we exited the command tower.

I teleported to the Soul Stone near the Dwemer ruins. The others soon joined me.

We were heading further north than ever before.

A blue shimmer from my dweomer that detects books and notes led us to a Witchmen obelisk. In a basket next to it was a notebook which I read to the group,

“The ancient king will govern these lands again, with a new deity for all. Any who don’t bend their knee to our dreaded mother will know misery!

PELENIAL FALLS.

ALLESIA ROTS.

THE WHEEL WILL BURN

THE KING WILL COME FOR THE BONES OF THE REBEL.

AND THE EIGHT WILL BE NONE.”

  • Wulf: I hate to break it to you, author of garbage, but none of this will come to pass.
  • Lydia: Besides, there are Nine Divines.
  • Rigmor: Ah, who is the rebel?
  • Wulf: No idea. Rebel’s Cairn in Skyrim is the resting place of Red Eagle, a legendary Forsworn hero. But I doubt that is whose bones are to be collected.
  • Celestine: The Wheel is Aurbis viewed from the side. It looks like a wagon wheel with the spokes separating the realms.
  • Rigmor: Wulf tried explaining that to me once. I think I fell asleep.
  • Wulf: Yes, you did. But I whispered, ‘Sweet Roll’, and you instantly awoke.
  • Lydia: The author believes the story of Pelinal and Alessia being involved in the Direnni Hegemon battles.
  • Wulf: Well, it seems even the Witchmen are victims of false history.

We were now deep in Witchmen territory.

We quickly disposed of wolf sentries and a few witches.

To our surprise, we encountered an Aventurier attacking an Afflicted.

I quickly disposed of the Aventurier.

I walked over to the Afflicted.

“What brings you this far north?”

“We have a settlement nearby. The Witchmen tolerate us and act as a barrier to the Aventurier. The one that just attacked me was the last of a platoon of eleven sent to destroy our settlement. He must have been hiding for days waiting for a chance to burn one of us!”

“Well, you are safe once more.”

“We have heard of what you have been doing for us. We have not lost faith in The Nine.”

“Hopefully, we will have a cure soon. Lady Mara’s blessings to you all.”

As the woman walked away, Rigmor asked, “Are we still going to visit the College and check on their progress.”

“Yes, we shall do that soon.”

We soon came upon Lonely Griffons Retreat. I had no idea why they needed a settlement this far out.

We expected to be challenged by sentries, but that was not to be.

A still-warm Witchmen corpse suggested somebody was awake.

Just as we entered the gates, Inigo yelled, “Visitors! And I don’t think they were invited!”

A dozen Witchmen attacked the settlement. Celestine swore when a poisoned arrow hit her.

Unrelenting Force knocked the closest Witchmen down. A couple of them turned to dust.

Spells and the Destruction dweomer on our weapons lit the night as we quickly eliminated the Witchmen.

When we finished, a guard approached.

  • Wulf: Are you Tyyr?
  • Tyyr: What if I am?
  • Rigmor: Well, we know what name to put on the prison admission form for a start.
  • Tyyr: What are you talking about?
  • Rigmor: Show respect to Envoy Valdr, or I will punch your lights out!
  • Tyyr: Hmph! Anyway, great work! We thought that was a done deal until you lot came along.
  • Wulf: Well then, it is fortunate we were here to save your arses.
  • Tyyr: Aye, now go back to those high walls and tell them of your good deed for the day.
  • Rigmor: Can I punch him now?
  • Wulf: Not yet.
  • Rigmor: I am tired of you, Tyyr!
  • Inigo: Tire of Tyyr. Excellent Inspector Betty!
  • Rigmor: Tyrr, you have one more chance to change your tone.
  • Wulf: Tyyr, I’m here to retrieve a report on how this hamlet is fairing.
  • Tyyr: This outpost fares well enough without any poncy types like you coming and sticking your nose in things.
  • Rigmor: Ahem!
  • Tyyr: Ah, I can’t knock ya after you stuck your neck out for us. Here, take it.
  • Wulf: See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
  • Tyyr: Listen, while youse hero type is here, you might be interested in something.
  • Wulf: And what would that be?
  • Tyyr: We got word from The Exiled that something of value is stowed away within the caverns. For a share of its value, would you lot be interested to see what those degenerates have been talking about?
  • Wulf: Sorry, we have more important matters than delving for trinkets.
  • Tyyr: Fair enough, you coward, there could be a fortune within those depths. I’ll just rope in some other suckers who can swing a sword.
  • Rigmor: Now?
  • Wulf: Yes, it is only fair since I took care of the overseer.
  • Tyyr: Now listen, missy, I don’t want to hurt you.

Rigmor flattened Tyyr with a punch to the stomach then a beautiful uppercut.

As the woozy Tyyr tried to sit up, I teleported us to The Maw Soul Stone. We used that Soul Stone to teleport to another closer to Dissenter’s Peak, where a Blade was reportedly hiding.

It was approaching dawn, but that was hard to tell in the shadows of the mountains.

After walking some winding tracks to flatlands beyond the mountain, we were greeted by a foggy vista.

  • Rigmor: Wulf, look at the farms!
  • Lydia: I don’t see any with a veranda for a perverted farmer’s wife.
  • Wulf: Have you been telling everybody about your obsession with a sweaty Dragonborn?
  • Rigmor: Only the ladies and Lydia it is not perverted!
  • Celestine: Not compared to some fantasies we have discussed.
  • Inigo: Oh, would you like to share some with your favourite Khajiit?
  • Lydia: You are not our favourite, and, although smallish, you have a penis. So that excludes you from such discussions.
  • Inigo: That is okay. I am content knowing I am the central character in many of them.
  • Celestine: Only your own, I am afraid.
  • Rigmor: Much of this kingdom is beautiful. There is plenty of good farmland, productive mines, good river ports. There has never been a need for a shortage of income or bickering over land.
  • Wulf: You could say the same for many provinces that have such conflicts. Perhaps Evermor is the worst, but I had no idea how bad, and I don’t think Mede did.
  • Rigmor: Nothing I read before joining you here hinted at this mess. I certainly didn’t see any mention of Munstor.
  • Wulf: Well, I think the days of the current regime are numbered. Hopefully, after a few years of an Imperial Governor, some Breton will be found that deserve to rule here.
  • Lydia: And who would you recommend as governor?
  • Wulf: Legate Rikke. I think she learned a lot under General Tullius and would soon knock this place into shape.
  • Lydia: What about Tullius?
  • Wulf: He deserves his semi-retirement. He has done a lot for The Empire and told me he has no desire to return to Cyrodiil.
  • Rigmor: Plus, he is excellent at organising military parades. Elisif loves her parades!
  • Celestine: Would the other kingdoms of High Rock object to an Imperial Governor?
  • Wulf: Not if they accept the truth of what we uncover.
  • Celestine: Well, the evidence is clear enough.
  • Wulf: Rigmor, what will Mede do after hearing about the slavery, Priest Circle, lies about Munstor, etcetera?
  • Rigmor: As you suggested, he will send in a governor with thousands of troops that will squash any opposition. It won’t take long for the citizens to realise they have the same rights as others of The Empire.
  • Wulf: I am not looking forward to this rescue.
  • Lydia: Why? I thought you would find satisfaction in saving another Blade from The Thalmor.
  • Wulf: Yes, but if I take him to Sky Haven Temple…
  • Rigmor: You will have to speak to dumb and dumber.
  • Wulf: Precisely.

As we walked through one particular farm, Rigmor looked at it wistfully. Then she pointed and said, “Chopping block there and veranda there. Perfect!”

We came to a gate that told travellers they were leaving civilisation for the wilds. As usual in Evermor, there were no guards to stop the wilds from entering civilisation.

Dissenter’s Peak nestles on a mountainside. It was nowhere near the peak which made a lie of its name. The mountains cast their shadows, and everything seems gloomier than the farmlands.

I quickly neutralised two sentries.

I killed a few more on the way to the entrance.

Once inside, even the occasional rogue knight quickly fell to our onslaught.

I felt a bit guilty killing all the bandits after seeing a dead Thalmor prisoner. Perhaps they weren’t so bad after all?

After disposing of several dozen bandits, we reached the highest level and the fugitive Blade.

  • Titalo: Halt! Who are you? Speak clearly, or your following words may find you an early grave!
  • Wulf: He doesn’t even have a bow equipped.
  • Rigmor: Perhaps he is going to overcome us with idle threats?
  • Inigo: Show some compassion. The man cannot see. Otherwise, he would recognise we are Penitus Oculatus.
  • Lydia: Your Excellency, you had better talk to him before he throws more threats our way. I only just ducked out of the course of the last one.

I used The Voice, but gently, I was not sure of the structural integrity of the place.

“TITALO BROLICIUS, I AM WULF, DRAGONBORN AND CHAMPION OF THE DIVINES. I AM COMING OVER TO SPEAK TO YOU. SHEATH YOUR WEAPON UNLESS YOU INTEND TO BREAK YOUR OATH.”

I walked toward Titalo, who seemed a bit stunned at the sudden turn of events.

“Titalo, I assume we are the first friendly faces you have seen in some time?”

“I am constantly running and am very tired. If you were here on behalf of The Thalmor, I might even have welcomed death.”

“Now you have a chance to enjoy retirement. Do you know Delphine and Esbern?”

“Of course! We, ahh, worked together, rather closely, on many a mission!”

“Well, they are alive, and I have allowed them to live in Sky Haven Temple. Would you like to join them?”

“I am sure there is a long story behind their survival and how they came to live in that place of legends. Perhaps you can tell me about it on the long trip there?”

“You can be there in seconds. I can teleport you there.”

“The stories I have heard about Alduin, are they true?”

“We defeated him at The Throat of The World and Sovngarde. He will not be eating any worlds for quite some time.”

“How did you know I was here?”

“A Justiciar tried to recruit me to hunt you down. After politely rejecting his kind offer, I asked Advisor Vaeser if he knew your whereabouts.”

“So, we still have people in The Empire who don’t kneel to their Elven overlords?”

“Nobody does, including His Imperial Highness. There are many reasons he signed the White-Gold Concordat, and none of us is in a position to judge him harshly. He saved lives, and The Empire, by doing so. Remember that when you enjoy the freedoms that his burden has purchased.”

“I would not be so self-absorbed to think you are in Evermor to rescue me.”

“No, I am not. But that is a long story, and I would rather get you safe and then continue my mission.”

“Okay, how does this teleport stuff work.”

“Hold my hand. I will do the rest.”

“What about your companions?”

“They will join us when I summon them.”

“Are there many dragons left to kill?”

“The Blades are forbidden from combating any dragons unless I give permission. There are many dragons in the skies over Skyrim, and nearly all are passive. I deal with the aggressive ones. Esbern and Delphine did not have to swear to this as their oaths as Blades means I am to be obeyed. You are also to refrain from aggression towards Dov unless you wish to resign your position.”

“I have never seen a dragon and know nothing about them!”

“Well, perhaps I can introduce you to a few. I count Alduin’s two lieutenants as close friends.”

“It seems I will have to educate myself on recent history.”

“Yes, educate yourself. Don’t listen to the bullshit Esbern and Delphine will tell you.”

I held my hand out, and Titalo grabbed it with enthusiasm.

Seconds later, we were in Sky Haven Temple, and I summoned The Sentinels. Rigmor popped out of the ether soon after.

I said, “Nobody here. They are probably in the courtyard. Follow me.”

Just as we were about to exit out into the courtyard, a startled Esbern came inside.

  • Esbern: Dragonborn, you will give this old man a heart attack the way you pop in and out unannounced.
  • Wulf: You said the same thing when I landed in the courtyard aboard Odahviing.
  • Esbern: He did ask you if he was allowed to eat me!
  • Wulf: Yes, he has a great sense of humour!
  • Esbern: You told him no because I needed a bath!
  • Titalo: I think Odahviing would find you too stringy, you wrinkly old fart!
  • Esbern: Is that you Titalo?
  • Titalo: In the flesh.
  • Esbern: How? Where?
  • Wulf: You can swap stories soon as I can’t hang around for long. Is Delphine in the courtyard?
  • Esbern: Yes, she still does hours of sword work each day.
  • Titalo: Will she be happy to see me, Esbern?
  • Esbern: There has been no other, Titalo.

I immediately stared at Rigmor. She was bursting to say something but would risk being recognised. She turned red and clenched her fists with the effort to keep it in.

  • Wulf: Well, I am glad to do Lady Mara’s work once more, even if unintentional.
  • Esbern: Is there something wrong with your companion? She looks red in the face and seems to be in pain.
  • Wulf: Don’t worry, it is just morning sickness. Inspector Betty is such a delicate flower. If only she could remember who the father is, I would make him sorry he took advantage of her!
  • Esbern: It seems to be getting worse, and why is she staring at you like that?
  • Wulf: Come on, Titalo, you can meet Delphine, and Inspector Betty can get some fresh air.
  • Esbern: Are you sure it is not something contagious? The others appear to be exhibiting the same symptoms.

We exited the courtyard, and Titalo hid behind The Sentinels.

“Delphine, I have a surprise for you!”

“If it is another dragon about to crap all over the courtyard, then no thanks.”

Titalo gushed, “You are as beautiful as I remember!”

The Sentinels parted, and Delphine stared in disbelief.

Before Rigmor exploded, I said, “Well, have fun, see you soon!”

I then teleported to my room at The College of Winterhold before summoning The Sentinels. Rigmor quickly followed.

  • Rigmor: I didn’t even know that bitch had a heart!
  • Lydia: I wonder how long before they are knocking boots?
  • Wulf: He would have to break through the cobwebs.
  • Rigmor: WULF! Sometimes I worry about you.
  • Inigo: The mention of cobwebs usually makes my heart beat a little faster. I anticipate saying hello to the spiders that made the cobwebs. This time, I have no desire at all to visit their abode.
  • Rigmor: As for morning sickness? You are lucky I didn’t put boot to cobblers!
  • Wulf: Now, Betty, there is no need to get upset. I am sure you will remember the father’s name eventually.
  • Celestine: If we are here to see Tolfdir, then let’s find him!
  • Wulf: Relax, Celestine. I am not in that much of a hurry.
  • Inigo: Moving gonads are more challenging to target. Take Celestine’s advice.

I smiled at Rigmor. Lucky I am immune to the Glare of Death. I raised my eyebrows, and she burst out laughing.

We entered The hall of Elements which was packed with Mages training and practising.

Rigmor said, “I love Cerys. Otherwise, I would take any of these mages over Malesam!”

Tolfdir was summoning and dismissing various creatures, including a huge Frost Atronach.

“The College is busier than ever, Master Freathof.”

“Yes, Arch-Mage. We are overflowing with returned mages and new apprentices. It’s wonderful!”

“I can’t stay long. How is the work on the affliction affecting the Afflicted? And try saying that ten times in a row!”

“The alchemists say it is a very complex formula, but the reagents are common. They will be ready to test it soon. About another week, I would say.”

“That is good news.”

“What is Evermor like?”

“If the grossest animal you can think of ate the most revolting thing you can think of and then had explosive diarrhoea, that is Evermor.”

“So, I shouldn’t think of holidaying there?”

“A few days ago, I was in Scuttling Void. That is a better holiday destination. Not because of the scenery, as most of Evermor is quite stunning, but you have less chance of dying in Oblivion.”

“Oh.”

“I hope to visit again soon.”

“Be careful, Arch-Mage.”

I cast Recall and selected the Mark outside Evermor’s castle.

The others joined me, and we walked to Vaeser’s house. Rigmor put her arm through mine. My life and gonads were no longer in danger!

I knocked on the door, Vaeser opened it and let us in.

“Advisor Vaeser, Titalo is now safe in Skyrim and amongst other Blades.”

“And you are going to tell Naruman you did this?”

“Of course! It will be quite fun!”

“Is there anything I should be aware of?”

“They breed Orsimer slaves in Evermor, and they also press-gang Orsimer. The Thalmor have been supplying and directing Orsinium’s Suns. The Priest Circle teaches nothing but blasphemy, and the king molests underage girls.  I am sure I will uncover more charming secrets.”

“I swear, I was unaware of any of this!”

“I know. Those involved are very good at hiding things. We are the best at finding things.”

“What will happen?”

“King Sigmayne will not be on the throne for much longer.”

“Perhaps I should use some of my outstanding leave and head for home?”

“That is an excellent idea! Blessings of The Nine, Vaeser.”

A guard directed us to the stables when asked for Kegor’s whereabouts.

  • Wulf: Advisor Kegor, the corsair outposts are no more.
  • Kegor: It is truly a marvel to have someone as skilled as you lot serve this kingdom.
  • Wulf: We serve The Empire and The Nine.
  • Kegor: Sigmayne was quite troubled by your refusal of knighthood.
  • Wulf: And why have you not been knighted?
  • Kegor: We both know the answer to that.
  • Wulf: You are too honest, Kegor. How will you ever climb the ranks by being honest?
  • Rigmor: Your Excellency, don’t forget the reports.
  • Wulf: Oh, yes, hang on a second.

Kegor looked on in amazement as I pretended to search through my journal case. I pulled out a pile of books, and each Sentinel ended up with one or two. Then I said, “Aha, there you are, you sneaky bastards!”

I handed Kegor the reports the placed the books back into my journal case.

  • Wulf: There you go, Advisor, all three reports, as requested.
  • Kegor: I hope you didn’t have difficulty with Tyyr.
  • Rigmor: I think he learnt his lesson. He was still a bit dizzy and trying to get off the ground when we left.
  • Kegor: Envoy, did you hit him?
  • Rigmor: No, I did!
  • Wulf: It was a wonderful one-two knockdown. Right in the belly and then a huge uppercut.
  • Rigmor: His Excellency allowed me to have a turn since he got to break the Overseer’s nose at The Bog.
  • Wulf: You knew I would find that dirty secret, didn’t you?
  • Kegor: I hope you can do something about it. I am ashamed to be part of this kingdom. I am not the most tolerant of Orcs and Witchmen and others outside these walls, but slavery is an affront. Breeding Orcs like cattle is simply wrong.
  • Wulf: They torture the Orsimer slaves in ways that would make Witchmen shudder.
  • Kegor: I think Sigmayne is trying to save his neck. He wants you to be an escort.
  • Wulf: And who will I be expected to escort?
  • Kegor: There are children soon to depart Raven Spring. Their destination is here. Sigmayne will elaborate.
  • Wulf: This must be a jest, surely?
  • Rigmor: If that child diddling excrement thinks we would bring children within a hundred miles of him, he is insane.
  • Lydia: But, Your Excellency, we should at least see what is involved and why it is necessary.
  • Wulf: Yes, yes, you are right.

We moved away from the stables.

  • Rigmor: What do we do?
  • Lydia: We play it by ear. There is no use making a plan without knowing any of the specifics.
  • Rigmor: No matter the specifics, we are not bringing children here!
  • Wulf: Stay calm, Rigmor. No children will be delivered into potential harm by us. Can you ever envisage me doing such a thing?
  • Rigmor: No, you wouldn’t and couldn’t. You would tear this place apart before allowing a child to be hurt.
  • Wulf: I am not in the mood to play snobby noble. Let’s just see what he has to say and get out before I kill him.

We made our way to the castle and along the wonky carpet.

  • Wulf: Siggy, I was informed that you have a favour to ask.
  • Sigmayne: First of all, let me apologise for the abhorrent behaviour of my guards. I don’t know what came over them.
  • Rigmor: Well, if you know any excellent necromancers, we could contact the dead guards and ask them.
  • Wulf: I don’t think that is a good idea, Inspector Betty. The Emperor has made it clear that dead people cannot be used as witnesses in Imperial Courts.
  • Lydia: Only after one of them got loose and ate an attorney’s brain before they could stop it.
  • Sigmayne: That as it may, I think we will have to just forget about the guards for now and concentrate on whatever important thing Siggy needs doing.
  • Sigmayne: Yes, I need something important done, and I immediately thought of you. Yet I worry, after hearing about your feats through the kingdom recently, that I ask too much.
  • Wulf: Fiddlesticks! Ask, and we shall decide together whether or not our frail bodies can take the strain.
  • Sigmayne: Very well. There is a group of children…

Sigmayne stopped mid-sentence. A sly smirk turned into a smile as he stared at something behind me.

I turned and watched a handsome young man approach.

  • Sigmayne: Son! My, how much you have changed in such a short time.
  • Damian: And how much wider you’ve become! The chef must have been busy!

What stood before me was not Sigmayne’s son. It was Ambition, and I doubt Damian is still alive. I could not risk giving a hand signal to The Sentinels. I would have to pretend all was okay till I could talk to them.

  • Damian: I see that my throne is still occupied! Down with the usurper!
  • Sigmayne: The messages told of you returning with Elain. Has your mother distracted herself in the markets again?
  • Damian: I have many virtues, father, yet patience was never one of them. Crises heralded my return, and I came. And well I did, for if I were gone any longer, the people would forget the face of their future king!
  • Sigmayne: Come here, son, it’s been too long. I have sat in this hall all alone, with nought but the guards to humour me.

I pair hugged, and the contrast between the two was stark. Ambition is a square-jawed, blond-haired prince from a pubescent girl’s fantasy. Sigmayne was the balding, creepy uncle who was rarely invited to family get-togethers. I wish Ghorbash were here to let go a decent fart.

They finally parted, which was good, as I was getting nauseous.

  • Damian: The longing was mutual, father. I had sought to return home ever since I had arrived in Daggerfall. Yet this kingdom grows further! And soon Evermor will provide all the west, and more!
  • Sigmayne: Soon, I hope. I wish to see the day where they look up in deference while I still live.

Ambition turned, and recognition flickered. He knew who I was.

  • Damian: Father, I see a small audience graces us. It is not like you to forgo introductions.
  • Sigmayne: He is not anyone of prominence. A servant of the Emperor running errands. Though this servant did thwart a great threat within Raven Spring. However, the tales from that place are spurious at best.
  • Rigmor: King Sigmayne, you set a poor example to Price Damian!
  • Damian: Who are…
  • Rigmor: KEEP QUIET! This insult to Envoy Valdr will be reported. Expect an official reprimand from His Imperial Highness.
  • Damian: But who…
  • Rigmor: PRINCE DAMIAN, YOU HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN PERMISSION TO SPEAK!
  • Wulf: It is okay, Inspector Betty. The Prince’s etiquette training is lacking. How else would you explain him entering unannounced and interfering with parley?
  • Rigmor: Your Excellency, it is unheard of! Prince or not, he deserves time in the cells.
  • Wulf: Now, now, let’s not be hasty. No harm done as long as Prince Damian has learned from this embarrassment.
  • Damian: Oh, I have learnt a great deal!
  • Wulf: There is no need for further chastisement, Inspector. Prince Damian will do better, I’m sure.
  • Damian: Goodness, the rabble finally found some truth to their ravings then? The Reach is host to much ill-will, but the twisted schemes of a god? Yet with all their power, a mortal crew has prevailed over their plot. Not many can boast of similar feats.
  • Wulf: I wouldn’t be so sure the Dark Mother’s schemes are thwarted. I suspect that I will find more evidence of scum escaping Scuttling Void. And when I do, I will crush it under my heel like a cockroach.
  • Damian: Such a trial lifts you above most others. So, forgive my father’s impertinence. Unlike him, I value that conviction.
  • Wulf: A young prince with ambition would certainly value conviction over useless things like doubt or compassion.
  • Damian: Know this of me, Envoy Valdr. I do not respect those who grovel! We are comrades, and I want your respect, not your fear. However, I have matters to discuss with the King. Much time has passed during my stay west, and now Evermor demands my focus.
  • Wulf: I have confronted gods, Damian. You are far from being something I would fear. As for respect, an inherited title does not automatically gain it. You must earn respect! If you genuinely wish to become a worthy king, you must first learn your place. Inspector Betty, if you will please introduce me properly to Prince Damian.
  • Rigmor: Prince Damian, Envoy Valdr is visiting Evermor on behalf of His Imperial Highness, Emperor Titus Mede II. You are to show due deference to His Excellency, for when you address him, you are addressing His Imperial Highness. Your noble ranking is insignificant to the man with whom you have been conversing. Yet, you speak as if he was a commoner.
  • Wulf: I will forgive your father’s insolence, but my patience with him is wearing mighty thin. Now, Prince Damian, if you would kindly remove yourself from the throne room, I wish to continue the parley you interrupted. Inspector’s Lydia and Celestine, please escort Prince Damian from the room. Make sure he doesn’t enter again until I have finished speaking with his father.

Ambition looked perplexed as Lydia and Celestine promptly stepped to either side of him. He marched out of the room without looking back. Sigmayne slumped onto this throne.

  • Wulf: That was a short-lived victory, Siggy. There was a gleam of triumph in your eyes when the boy first walked in. It was soon replaced by a smile that unsuccessfully covered the smugness underneath. Did you expect a beginner in this game of politics would get the better of us masters? Do you think His Imperial Highness sends buffoons to be his envoys?
  • Rigmor: Perhaps if Siggy had introduced you correctly, it wouldn’t have looked so bad?
  • Wulf: Yes, too bad all his son saw was a pathetic shell of a man without manners or etiquette.
  • Rigmor: I think Siggy was going to ask a favour before we were so rudely interrupted.
  • Wulf: Siggy, what do you require from us? Don’t worry. We won’t be interrupted this time. Damian will have to wait for permission to enter.
  • Sigmayne: There are children from Raven Spring who seek refuge within these walls. And as this kingdom is more than charitable, we have arranged for a new slew of young to be harboured here until the plague subsides. Or when a semblance of order is fully restored to that town. An order which I think my son will be eager to see facilitated.
  • Wulf: And where will these children be housed?
  • Sigmayne: The Bishop has all the details.
  • Wulf: A word of advice, King Sigmayne. Press your son on the whereabouts of your wife.
  • Sigmayne: Why would you suggest that?
  • Wulf: Your son has changed far more than you realise.

We exited the castle, and Damian rushed back inside. There were no guards to be seen.

  • Lydia: So, Celestine, have you found a new face for your fantasies?
  • Celestine: More proof that Breton males are the most handsome.
  • Wulf: Too bad he is not Breton. He isn’t even mortal.
  • Rigmor: I saw you scrutinising him like a specimen in a jar.
  • Wulf: Inigo, what do you think?
  • Inigo: He is a Daedra of some kind. My nose never fails me.
  • Wulf: You have met him before, Inigo. Damian is dead. That is Ambition wearing his skin.
  • Celestine: Well, there goes that fantasy. I had the lingerie picked out and the wine selected.
  • Rigmor: Did he recognise you?
  • Wulf: Oh yes, as he said he would when we met in Scuttling Void.
  • Rigmor: So, how do we deal with Damian?
  • Wulf: We feed his ambition. I want to know how he got into Damian’s skin, plus I want to discover what he knows about Namira’s plans. We also need to know how he intends to thwart her.
  • Lydia: If he has any plans, that is.
  • Wulf: I had him marched out of the throne room for a reason. I wanted to test Ambition’s reaction to the unexpected. He seems a creature not of impulse but confident his plans will work. I don’t think he is capable of dealing with something that goes astray.
  • Rigmor: He is ambition and ego. He lacks humility and could never be humble.
  • Wulf: Exactly! He has left those things with Husk.
  • Lydia: Is he working alone?
  • Wulf: I don’t know. But there is a tentacled god who might.
  • Rigmor: You aren’t going to talk to him, are you?
  • Wulf: Why not? I am Mora’s champion. I am sure he will want something in exchange. It might be worth seeing what that is.
  • Inigo: What now, my very arrogant, snobby, and stick up the bottom friend?
  • Wulf: We give a certain Penitus Oculatus Commander a chance to save his neck. After that, we deal with the children.

We teleported to the grounds of the Procul Praesidium then made our way inside the embassy.

  • Wulf: Commander Drugo, I apologise for not visiting earlier. Every time I plug a hole, another leak appears. This kingdom is determined to sink in a sea of corruption.
  • Drugo: There is no need to apologise. We all understand how busy you are.
  • Wulf: How many soldiers did we lose?
  • Drugo: Forty bodies found. Ten unaccounted for. Small numbers as far as Legion battles go, but almost a quarter of those stationed in the Procul.
  • Wulf: I will ensure the units here get the highest commendations from His Imperial Highness. It is almost a certainty they will be granted, except for one sticking point.
  • Drugo: Oh, and that is?
  • Wulf: I am hearing rumours of a traitor working with the Orsimer. Now, I would generally dismiss such as idle gossip and inconceivable. But the rumours are out there, and we must squash them with action!

Drugo paled. He would not make much of a card player.

  • Wulf: Aren’t you interested in how we will squash the rumours?
  • Drugo: Oh, of course.
  • Wulf: Our friends from the Aldmeri Dominion have been supplying Orsinium’s Sons with weapons and supplies. They have also been directing some of their activities. The Orsimer have been instructed to attack Dunlain soon, where they will place all villagers on spikes, whether alive or dead. All except one villager chosen to be a witness. Do you know what this witness will say, Commander Drugo?
  • Drugo: No, not at all.
  • Wulf: The lucky survivor will be schooled in what to say by his cruel captors. When found, he will tell all who will listen how The Empire failed miserably to protect the people of Evermor. The thousands of lives lost over the years, including the fifty the other night, will not be measured by public opinion. Dislike for The Empire will increase and add to the instability of Evermor and the other kingdoms of High Rock. Meanwhile, The Thamor will be waiting to explain to High Rock leaders how The Dominion can protect their citizens and, more importantly, wealth. At worst, the Aldmeri Dominion thinks The Empire will fracture even more. At best, they believe they may convince another province to join them. So, the importance of protecting the little village of Dunlain becomes paramount.
  • Drugo: Yes, yes, of course.
  • Wulf: I want you to co-ordinate with Sir Horustair. We need fully armed troops well-hidden near Dunlain and some of Breton heritage in civilian clothes within the village. When the Orsimer attack, a combined force of Evermor troops and Legionnaires will save the day, our reputation will be enhanced, the opposite of what The Thalmor intended. This action will also quash any rumours of a traitor amongst our ranks. So, Commander Drugo, can I leave this with you?
  • Drugo: Yes, Your Excellency. What are you going to do about The Thalmor?
  • Rigmor: What His Excellency always does.
  • Drugo: Oh…is that wise?
  • Wulf: Probably not, but it is justice.

Unless Drugo was a complete fool, which he isn’t, he knew I suspected him. He will do an excellent job defending Dunlain.

We found Naruman near the front entrance to the embassy.

“Ahh, just the person I wanted to see!”

“If you don’t mind, I have more important things to do than talk to apes.”

“We found the fugitive Blade, and he is now safe with the others where The Dominion can never reach them. Isn’t that just the best news ever!”

“We will find them eventually.”

“I have some other wonderful news. Believe me. It is to die for!”

“Please hurry so I can do anything but listen to you drone on.”

“We uncovered proof that The Aldmeri Dominion, or more precisely, The Thalmor, have been supplying Orsinium’s Sons with weapons and other essentials. Those naughty people also direct the Orsimer to do nasty things like killing everybody in the village of Dunlain.”

“How dare you! You will hear from our government if such libel is heard outside this room!”

“I have all the proof I need to name The Thalmor in Evermor as enemy combatants. I kill enemies.”

“You wouldn’t….”

A mid-strength Unrelenting Force threw Naruman against the door. It was enough to kill him.

I shoved Naruman’s corpse out of the way with my foot. We then exited the embassy and Procul Praesidium.

We headed towards Raven Spring in silence.

As we crossed the bridge before the entrance, Inigo stood in front of me.

He said, “My friend, all this zapping around and using portals, we have accomplished a lot of tasks. But we are getting tired. We need to trust that Evermor will still exist after we have slept.”

“A few more hours, Inigo. I will know when I have reached a point where I can sleep. I can’t stop until then. I hope you understand.”

“You could not rest yesterday. I wonder if the thing that saved you is the cause. A few more hours we can do for you.”

“Not for me, Inigo. For the people of Evermor. For the innocents that are still in great danger.”

“Rigmor is worried for you. We all are.”

“Let us deal with the children, and perhaps that is the point where I can stop.”

Rirrard was not at the front entrance but one leading from the marketplace. The carcases of dead animals still lay in the mud. I was thankful they were the only ones I saw.

A little girl was pleading with an adult not to be sent to Evermor city.

  • Wulf: Rirrard, I have been asked by Sigmayne to escort some children.
  • Rirrard: I was wary of who they would be sending, but I’ve seen you stalwart in the face of the corruption that gripped this town. I am at ease trusting you with this task. The King has taken a liking to you as well if he’s this confident with your competence.
  • Wulf: Let me guess, all of the children to be sent are orphans. Whilst others with immediate family remaining are kept here, for now.
  • Rirrard: Isn’t it better that they receive the care provided by the King’s generosity instead of being confined within these dreary abodes?
  • Wulf: Who are these adults? Aunts and Uncles? Cousins?
  • Rirrard: They are blood relatives of the children.
  • Wulf: Are they compensated if they house the orphans?
  • Rirrard: No.
  • Wulf: So Sigmayne’s generosity does not cover what is best for the children. It has been shown repeatedly in many countries and over thousands of years that children thrive more when left in familiar surroundings with relatives. But Sigmayne would know this. He wants children sent to Evermor city, not for their benefit but for his and some sycophants.
  • Rigmor: He prefers orphans as they have no nosey parents asking where their children are.
  • Lydia: The relatives, who are struggling to feed their own families, are more than pleased to hand over the children to those who promise to care for them.
  • Wulf: Children are wise. Listen, Rirrard, to what they think about this idea.

I first approached the girl who was pleading not to be sent to Evermor city.

  • Wulf: Hello, my name is Wulf. Can I ask yours?
  • Lhambi: My mummy says… my mummy used to say I shouldn’t talk to strange men.
  • Rigmor: Little one, Wulf told you his name, and he is a bit strange but very nice.
  • Lhambi: Well, I suppose it is okay to speak to ladies. My name is Lhambi.
  • Rigmor: What a beautiful name! I am Betty and very pleased indeed to meet you.
  • Wulf: You were asking that lady not to send you to the city. Indeed it is better than stinky Raven Spring.
  • Lhambi: That lady is my aunty. She is very poor and can’t afford to keep me. But children go to the city and are never heard from again. Even ones that aren’t orphans. Their parents get really sad, but they get beat up by those horrible knights or guards if they ask too many questions.
  • Rigmor: Are you are scared to go there?
  • Lhambi: Raven Spring will get fixed up. My auntie might get more work and be able to keep me. But it will be too late as I will be disappeared like the other children!
  • Wulf: I have a big castle where lots of orphans live. I know it is scary to ask, but would you trust me when I say no children disappear from there.
  • Lhambi: What do you say, Betty?
  • Rigmor: Oh, the orphanage is lovely. The children go to school and learn all sorts of things. There is a great big inside pool where the children splash and dive and never stop giggling and laughing. There are many guards and even dragons to keep everybody safe. People visit, and sometimes, if the child likes them, they become like new mummies and daddies. But the children don’t have to leave if they don’t want to.
  • Lhambi: And I could return to my auntie if we want that?
  • Wulf: Your auntie can write to you. She will never wonder where you are. And what happens in the future depends on many things, but the most important is that you are happy.
  • Lhambi: The other children would want to come to the orphanage. None of us wants to be disappeared.
  • Rigmor: We will speak to them, and if they want, they can also go to the orphanage.

Rirrard was silent as we went from child to child. They all voiced the same concerns about Evermor city and a preference to go to my orphanage.

To Rirrard’s genuine shock, the adults also expressed concerns about sending the children to the city. But the poverty enforced by the feudal system of Evermor made it impossible for them to afford food for an extra mouth or the other expenses incurred when raising a child.

Lydia helped Rigmor write and distribute paperwork for the adults. It explained who to contact and how if they have concerns about the children. We agreed with the adults that a monetary payment to keep the children in Raven Spring was not an option. All decided that it was better to remove the children from Evermor for the time being.

I pulled Rirrard to the side and spoke quietly.

  • Wulf: King Sigmayne is a child molesting parasite that deserves to rot in prison, if not shortened by the headsman. He oversees a kingdom where the worst excesses are accepted but hidden from our Emperor.
  • Rirrard: I am trying to atone. But the level of corruption is beyond imagining.
  • Wulf: Only you know your level of complicity in all of this. But take heart in what I tell you. I have friends who oversaw the slaughter of not just thousands or tens of thousands. They are complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. They do not blame gods. They do not claim to have had been choiceless. They have owned up to their choices and decided to do what they can to atone for their actions. The Divines gave us free will knowing we can use it for the betterment of others. We choose to categorise such actions as good. The Divines also know we can use free will to benefit ourselves to the detriment of others. We choose to label such actions as not just selfish but evil. Lady Mara, the real one taught everywhere else, loves all mortals no matter what category we care to place them in. Look to her for guidance. She does not ask for gifts or lavish praise. All she asks for is her beloved mortals to live by the Ten Commands of The Nine Divines. The tenth command, the pinnacle of all others, states, ‘Above all else, be good to one another.’ In other words, use your free will for the betterment of others.
  • Rirrard: You were sent by her, weren’t you?
  • Wulf: Yes, I was. Maybe one day I can call you Brother Rirrard without hesitation.
  • Rirrard: The Arch-Bishop will be expecting the children. What will you tell him?
  • Wulf: That the children are safe elsewhere. If he does not have ulterior motives, he will be content with that. Sigmayne will not confront me about this. He is a coward and knows his days on the throne are numbered.
  • Rirrard: Well, hopefully, his son arrives back soon, so if the throne is made vacant, we can have some continuity.
  • Wulf: Damian returned this morning. He will be taking over from Mortifayne. Do not trust him. He is not what he seems, even if his father is blind to that fact.
  • Rirrard: I would be foolish to question your assessment. That lesson I have learnt.
  • Wulf: I have no doubt he will charm the citizens. I may even seem to support him as I did Mortifayne. But we are watching to see who pulls his strings. I know who he is, and I doubt he can accomplish what he wants without the help of a powerful ally. If we act on Damian too early, his suspected powerful partner will likely select another.
  • Rirrard: You are trusting me with this information. Why?
  • Wulf: For you to atone, you must be willing to risk all. Knowing this information requires you to act in the interest of others and not self-preservation. You leapt into Scuttling Void. That shows you are capable of atonement.

We gathered the children, and Celestine and I made two teleports, each with a child in hand.

When all four children were with us in Dragons Keep, I sought Inday Erehrdottir, the orphanage’s Headmistress.

  • Wulf: Good afternoon, Headmistress Erehrdottir.
  • Inday: Wulf, you only use my title when bringing a young one and asking us to squeeze them in somewhere.
  • Wulf: You must admit, Inday, that it has been a while since I turned up with a child in need.
  • Inday: So, you have decided to make up for that by bringing four at once. A matching set, I assume?
  • Wulf: This castle has room for another three hundred children!
  • Inday: Oh, we can provide them beds and everything else. It is the dining room that is proving too small. But that is a problem for another day. What is their story? They look bewildered but also in awe.
  • Rigmor: Hello Inday!
  • Inday: Ahh, the person who is not supposed to be hanging around with another particular person. How have you been?
  • Rigmor: Not bad, but we can catch up on the gossip from that place I live another time.
  • Inday: How can this all be kept secret?
  • Wulf: The Divines have their mortal agents busy keeping it that way.
  • Rigmor: The children are from Raven Spring in Evermor, a kingdom in…
  • Inday: High Rock. I do teach history and geography, in case you forgot.
  • Rigmor: You remind me so much of the tutors my adoptive father hired in Elsweyr. Snarky and yet informative.
  • Inday: I wager they went grey before their time.
  • Rigmor: Yes, and that is not supposed to happen to Khajiit.
  • Inday: Students continually going off-topic is one sure way to accomplish that. The children?
  • Rigmor: They have witnessed many atrocities. Some were acts of mortals. Yesterday they all lost at least one parent to monsters from their nightmares. Daedra invaded their home town after an Oblivion Gate was opened. Some also lost siblings. Evermor is not a place where orphans can be safe.
  • Wulf: We believe that children have been disappearing there for decades. I have yet to assess the numbers, but I doubt just molesters are responsible.
  • Rigmor: But these children cannot stay there. They will become ‘disappeared’ as they call it.
  • Inday: You know we have the skills to ease much of their concerns. But we also have the best possible treatment of all.
  • Wulf: You have the infinite empathy of over one hundred children.
  • Inday: Yes, they will not stop grieving till they are ready. But shared experience is a beautiful balm.
  • Rigmor: They are not alone in the dark.
  • Inday: The children sing your song. They modify it, and they create pieces of art inspired by it. They sing it when memories threaten to overwhelm. It is a precious gift, and I thank you for it.
  • Rigmor: Wulf!
  • Wulf: Milady was not aware I had shared that song with others. But I am sure my life is not in danger for giving it to children in need.
  • Rigmor: I think it is terrific it is used to help. But Wulf could have done the gentlemanly thing and asked.
  • Wulf: And what would have been your answer if I did ask?
  • Rigmor: Yes.
  • Wulf: So, I saved time by assuming correctly!
  • Inday: He is using logic and appealing to your empathy.
  • Rigmor: I know. He still needs training. Others keep telling me that, including a dragon.
  • Inday: Some older girls have been asking if we can teach them how to train husbands and lovers. Some of the more optimistic want to know how to deal with both at once.
  • Rigmor: Did you tell them that is what embroidery circles and afternoon teas are for?
  • Inday: Yes, that is where you learn the best techniques.
  • Wulf: Anyway, before I feel any more like a cut of prime beef, I think Rigmor should introduce you to the children.
  • Rigmor: Prime beef?
  • Inday: They all have delusions.

The children from Evermor looked nervous and unsure. But older children came up and started chatting with them and The Sentinels. Soon there was the occasional laugh and giggle. Some would view that as miraculous after their recent trauma. I see it as proof that what The Divines teach is the natural state of mortals. If only adults didn’t lose sight of that simple truth, there would be no places like Evermor for us to fix.

I reluctantly left the sounds of children, the sound of pure love and life, and teleported to Evermor city.

In a way, the sexual attraction that some adults have for children attempts to grasp the magic they once had and lost. Nothing excuses what they do, but I can see some motivation is not just sexual gratification. The predators almost worship the children whose lives they ruin. However, I believe if these adults sat and talked with children, joined in their games, answered their questions, and listened to their perspectives and wild theories, they could experience what they once had and lost. And both the children and they would be better for the experience.

Rigmor stood close so we could be enveloped in our quiet. Speaking to the bishop was going to be as great a test as conversing with Sigmayne.

  • Wulf: Berlf, you await the delivery of children, I assume?
  • Artis: Yes, I have been told you will be bringing some here. Are you about to set off on the journey?
  • Wulf: What happens to the children once they arrive?
  • Artis: With every young batch this city receives, there is no higher priority than propagating our virtues to the next generation. And we priests are best fitted to carry out that education.
  • Rigmor: Why are you offering refuge for children and not adults equally in need?
  • Artis: For reasons unclear, the pox ravishing this land leaves those in their prime unharmed. It rampages among the old and the young, reaping both shortly after the initial signs of the disease. And I needn’t overstate the importance of coveting the children of the kingdom. It is an act that seeks to protect the future and engender favour from the gods so that this kingdom never wanes in strength.
  • Rigmor: Is there an orphanage? Where are they kept?
  • Artis: We have them washed down and deloused, meticulously seeking out any signs of plague through their bodies and their souls. As the nature of this plague isn’t fully understood. Surgeons work on the temporal aspect of the affliction, and priests banish the spiritual ailments that burden them. We have to be thorough. Else we risk having an outbreak within these very walls.
  • Rigmor: You didn’t answer my question. Where do they live?
  • Artis: The children are sent off to a few foster homes that will harbour them until the plague subsides. Once it does, physical contact will be re-established between the parents and the child.
  • Wulf: If that is so, you won’t mind that I will not bring you the children from Raven Spring. I have taken them to my orphanage, where they will live with over one hundred other children and receive the best of care and education.
  • Artis: That is most irregular, and you have put all those other children at risk of the plague!
  • Rigmor: We didn’t have time to tell you all of His Excellency’s qualifications the other day. We had to rush over to Raven Spring and save as many people as possible after your betrayal.
  • Celestine: Both His Excellency and I are Masters in the Restoration School of Magicka. We are also Master Alchemists.
  • Wulf: We know the nature of the plague, and we know it is a creation of the Daedric Prince, Peryite. I am also Arch-Mage of The College of Winterhold. I was informed they have the reagents for a cure sorted. They just have to figure out the exact recipe in terms of heat treatment, precise amounts etc.
  • Celestine: You are aware that children are the least likely demographic to catch the plague. You are also aware that when they do, they survive the longest with the least visible symptoms.
  • Wulf: Priests cannot banish any part of an ailment, spiritual or temporal. You are claiming powers imbued in Shrines of The Divines. I thought I had already heard the worst of the Priest Circle blasphemy. You just proved me wrong.
  • Celestine: If the best Restoration Mages on Nirn can’t ‘work on the temporal aspect’ of the disease, I doubt you have surgeons that can.
  • Wulf: Which do you prefer, Berlf?
  • Artis: What do you mean?
  • Wulf: Do you prefer little boys or little girls?

Artis tried to get away. Inigo drew his swords and blocked his escape.

  • Wulf: Can you control your lust when you meticulously seek out any signs of plague through their bodies, or do you rape them within minutes of the process commencement?
  • Inigo: Olette has told me of the child trade in Riften. Traffickers get to choose a small number of each…what did this excrement call them?
  • Rigmor: Batch.
  • Inigo: Yes, traffickers get to choose a small number from each batch or a set number of children if the batches are small. The traffickers can’t select some children, for instance, redheads or Khajiit kittens or girls who have not had their menses. The restrictions are dependent on who the delivery is expecting the delivery. Access to a few out of each shipment is like a bonus to any profits or wages they receive.
  • Wulf: Berlf, your head only remains attached as I am yet to prove conclusively that you are involved in child trafficking and abuse. But I will find it. That is why you are under arrest.

A local yelled to his friends, “A grock is about to speak in the city centre. I bet he gets stoned or stabbed!”

  • Wulf: Celestine, take this garbage to the Procul Praesidium. Use your authority as Inspector to have him locked in a cell for further questioning. If he resists, use your authority as Inspector to kill him however which way you choose.
  • Celestine: Berlf, give me your hand.
  • Artis: You can’t do this! I am the Arch-Bishop!
  • Wulf: If you are a priest of any sort, I am the High Queen of Skyrim.
  • Rigmor: And he is not the High Queen. She has much better fashion sense and less hair on her chest.
  • Inigo: You can reach over and take the Inspector’s hand, or I can cut it off and throw it to her.

Artis shrieked and grasped Celestine’s hand. She teleported with him while the rest of us rushed over to the city centre.

An Orsimer stood on stage. A small audience waited for him to talk.

Kegor was standing behind me and said, “Fancy seeing you again. You’ll want to stay and watch this. It’ll be entertaining.”

I decided to join the Orsimer on stage.

  • Luther: I greet you, good people of Evermor, the most welcoming people in High Rock. None are more ready to accept progress than you. My name is Luther, and I am forever grateful that your proud city had permitted my speech. The topic concerns all here and beyond, and it regards the possible harmony between Breton and Orc. Tomes cover each atrocity committed in our racial feud. One can dwell over every page, or we could hope to stop the quill, with the resolution to this dreadful story a happy one! Forgo blood and forge peace. We are deserving of a better world.

I whispered, “You are doing well, Luther. I will handle any hecklers for you.” Luther gave a barely perceptible nod of understanding.

  • Luther: Yes, I know many here roll their eyes in light of my words. To sleep without one eye open, to reap the grain without worry. Dreams of peace. But only through our effort does that peace becomes real. Let’s break the cycle of revenge and banish that which haunts our relation, the phantom of a savage past.
  • Farisic: Ha! Peace with the grocks! Half expectin’ the jesters to come on stage now. And I hope you aren’t suggesting that we live among your ilk. I would rather be caught dead.
  • Wulf: What is your name? Luther has put his name to his words.
  • Farisic: Who the fuck are you?
  • Wulf: I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. I am the one who defeated Alduin and saved every persons’ life. The other day I entered Scuttling Void and closed the Oblivion Gate, once again saving your life. I could list at least half a dozen more instances where I have saved you from death or enslavement. So, who the fuck are you? Give us your name.
  • Farisic: Dragonborn? Pull the other one.

“WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO SUMMON A DRAGON? OR IS THIS ENOUGH PROOF?”

My Thu’um echoed around the city.

  • Spectator One: That was The Voice that was!
  • Spectator Two: I never thought I would ever hear it him being in Skyrim and all.
  • Spectator Three: Tell him your name Farisic! Oh, I already have. Haha.
  • Wulf: Farisic, we are here to listen to Luther, but feel free to yell out idiotic comments. I will respond to them on behalf of Luther in the forlorn hope you will listen to me because I am not an Orsimer. Please proceed, Luther.
  • Farisic: You should take a gander at Wayrest to see what race-mixing does to a city. One of the proudest kingdoms on the great Iliac was reduced to a degenerate, crime-ridden hole. All thanks to your kin.
  • Wulf: Take a look at every city in Skyrim and Cyrodiil. Take a look at every other city in High Rock apart from Evermor and Wayrest. Dozens of cities are far more extensive and more prosperous than this one and all mixed race. We all know what happened to Wayrest, and it has nothing to do with the Orsimer. Or are you going to ignore the history when it is inconvenient?
  • Luther: Farisic, much time has been dedicated to your concerns, for they are precisely why I arrived here. This is not a solo venture taken by myself. Daggerfall has committed many minds…
  • Farisic: Grock thinks he had class. He may be a cut above the average Orc, yet that’s still not worth the dung on my heel!
  • Wulf: Do you panic when that happens?
  • Farisic: Excuse me?
  • Wulf: When you look down and see dung on your heel, do you panic thinking you are melting?

Spontaneous laughter filled the city centre. Farisic was not so amused.

  • Wulf: I know an awful lot of Orsimer who are mages, officers, historians, advisors to kings and queens. What is your profession, Farisic?
  • Kegor: He is a full-time Neet. Not in Employment, Education or Training.

More laughter.

  • Farisic: Hey, I do not have to stand here and be insulted!
  • Wulf: Where would you like to stand and be insulted? Please continue, Luther.
  • Farisic: We put Wayrest out of its misery because uppity greenskins were getting ambitious. You should take heed, Luther!
  • Wulf: Farisic, if you are going to lie in public, make them believable lies. The Orsimer in Wayrest were not a problem and not uppity. Everybody here knows why Wayrest was sacked and innocents butchered. It wasn’t Orsimer raping the women and children and slaughtering the unarmed Breton. People like you carry hate in their hearts and can’t stand still and listen to the possibility of peace. It was people like you that destroyed that beautiful city and allowed the corsairs to invade.
  • Farisic: What about Luther’s friends who are raping their way through our very kingdom! The stench of death still lingers at Deepcrag, yet he has the gall to make demands.
  • Wulf: Luther has made one request, and that is for people to listen. Orsinium Son’s do not represent all Orsimer. No more than the people of Wayrest represented all Breton. No more than The Stormcloaks represented all Nord. And to the relief of all here, you do not represent all the citizens of Evermor. Who wants to hear what Luther has to say?

A resounding chorus of approval came from the audience.

  • Wulf: You have had your say, Farisic. It has been nothing but lies and racism. People like you would never let peace reign. You would prefer to hug your hatred because it is the only thing you have. Luther will now speak, and if you interrupt once more, I will leap down and knock you out.
  • Luther: The Orcs share a collective trauma, Orsinium and all the defeats since. As I stand before you, those like myself have been sent to the Enclaves of my Kin. And the demands made of the Orsimer are far heavier than I ask of you. In case anyone believes the Orcs will go without concessions of their own. However, honesty is needed. The Orcs do hate, but it is not hate inborn but learned. The old may shirk the desire for peace, but the young have hope. A hope that will be stymied if they remain isolated away from the wider realm.
  • Guard: Answer Farisic about the current violence. Show some respect!
  • Luther: A priority noted, soon to be addressed. Missionaries have been accepted by chiefs and elders alike, replacing beliefs in their wake. Malacath’s worship will cease to be. All of this, I promise, has one stipulation, a most precious prospect for the Orc. New Orsinium, to go without harm. The city will go without arms and malicious intent, in exchange for its sanctity, from now until we can live side by side.
  • Wulf: New Orsinium will be guarded by The Imperial Legion. Any attack on New Orsinium will be treason and dealt with accordingly. New Orsinium will flourish, and no backward, inbred morons like our wall leaning idiot over there will stop it.

I turned to Luther.

“You are courageous to do this.”

“We will not have peace unless we risk violence to oneself.”

“I am not so sure about the abandonment of Malacath worship. He does not make Orsimer go to war.”

“But he has become a symbol for those who like to fight. Those who want to die a good death.”

“I have met a few of them on the roads of Skyrim. Perfectly healthy Orsimer who can still contribute but wanting to die in battle. It is a waste, as is the best warrior being declared Warchief because he has killed the second-best and the third-best warriors. That weakens the clan, not strengthen it.”

“We have heard rumours in Daggerfall. Rumours of Orsimer being bred out of sight and into a life of slavery.”

“How do you want me to answer that? If I answered in the affirmative, then it will be more than Orsinium’s Sons baying for blood.”

“It is best it stays a rumour for now.”

“Peace for your people will come. If New Orsinium proves itself, it will be the start of a new nation. You will be autonomous but with the protection of The Empire.”

“And we will arm ourselves again. We cannot ask others to fight without standing beside them on the battlefield.”

A terrible scream pierced the air. A brothel girl ran towards Kegor and cried, “The girls. They’ve been butchered! I can’t go back in there…Mara, Mara, Mara. How could this happen?”

Kegor hollered, “There is trouble in the brothel. Everybody clear the area. Envoy, we could probably use your help.”

I summoned Celestine, then leapt over the railing and followed Kegor.

A sign above the door named the establishment “Dibella’s Warmth”.

We ran inside, and immediately I was suspicious of who was the killer. Celestine and I examined the scene and used our knowledge of anatomy to analyse what we saw.

A woman had been torn in half. She was not cut but ripped apart by a being of extreme strength and rage.

The woman’s bottom half stood in the water of a fountain with a statue of Dibella in the middle of it. Viscera had fallen onto the side of the fountain. It had not been placed there but fell from the upper torso.

A wooden stake had been driven, by force, through the centre of the lily held by Dibella. This feat required phenomenal strength as the statue was solid marble.

The woman’s upper torso was impaled on the stake. The woman’s arms have been twisted until bones shattered then ripped from the body.

  • Kegor: My gods. What a sick, twisted bastard.
  • Wulf: A Daedra.
  • Inigo: The stench, it is familiar.
  • Wulf: Yes, Inigo. It is him but let’s not mention names.
  • Kegor: You know who did this?
  • Wulf: Not who, but what.
  • Celestine: A Daedra did this.
  • Wulf: A Daedra from Scuttling Void. And before you ask, this one left Oblivion days before the Oblivion Gate appeared.
  • Kegor: How do you know it was a Daedra?
  • Wulf: Apart from Inigo’s excellent nose, the physical evidence is clear.
  • Kegor: Ah, not to me.
  • Wulf: This woman was torn in two so fast, the bottom half remains standing where she died.
  • Celestine: She was not cut with a weapon. Something held her bottom half with one hand and upper half with the other. Then using brute strength alone pulled upwards and tore her in half.
  • Wulf: The creature then rammed that wooden spike into the marble statue. Imagine the strength needed to accomplish that! The stake has pierced the lily held by Dibella, which is a symbol of female genitalia.
  • Celestine: The upper torso had been impaled on the stake. The arms were twisted till the bones broke and then ripped off.
  • Wulf: This was pure rage. Whether targeted at females in general or this specific woman, we don’t know as yet. The Daedra did this in seconds. It has dragged another woman away, either dead or alive, but I think its intent is clear.
  • Rigmor: It wants to spend time making a flesh sculptor!
  • Wulf: You didn’t need to see this.
  • Rigmor: Yes, I did. My sword now will travel that little bit faster when I cleave the thing in two!
  • Kegor: You figured all that out in a few seconds of looking?
  • Inigo: And sniffing.
  • Celestine: We are Masters in Restoration and know anatomy. We have delivered enough wounds and seen enough injuries to gain a certain level of expertise. But even if we didn’t, the evidence is clear to those who deal in death.
  • Wulf: When you see wounds administered by all sorts of creatures and weapons, you inadvertently become an expert.
  • Lydia: We would all rather be expert horticulturists, but you play with the cards dealt you.
  • Kegor: I have had to kill a lot but not in the numbers you have.
  • Wulf: If I told you my tally, you would start wondering who the real monsters are.
  • Rigmor: Are there any witnesses?
  • Kegor: Omid, are there any witnesses?
  • Omid: Kath, come here and tell them what you saw. You spoke of seeing the scum.
  • Kath: Please, I don’t want to look at it. I can’t see her like that.
  • Omid: KATH! Get here right now or…

I was across the room and in Omid’s face before he finished the threat.

I growled, “These women are not yours to command like whipped dogs! I am sure you have ways of beating them that doesn’t leave marks. After all, you wouldn’t want to make a dent in your profits by making dents in their faces. Houses of Dibella populated by priests and priestesses of Lady Dibella who are happy orgiasts and epicureans are welcome in many cities. On the other hand, Penitus Oculatus constantly have to close cheap brothels populated by forced labour. Dibella’s Warmth wouldn’t be such an establishment, would it?”

“No, no, I am just upset by the death, yeah, that’s it. I would never hurt my ladies, I mean, the ladies.”

“Go over there and don’t say another word!”

I walked over to Kath.

“Kath, you don’t have to talk to us right now. I suggest you leave this place until somebody comes in and cleans it. If, at any time, you feel like giving a statement, find Kegor and do so.”

“O…okay. But I can tell you that he ran into the storeroom. He was grinning!”

“Kegor, follow behind us if you want. Do not get in front of us.”

As we followed the blood trail, Kegor said, “It seems that death follows you everywhere. Just make sure it doesn’t catch up.”

“Yeah, I have been dead once. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Rigmor warned, “Don’t say it! DO NOT SAY IT!”

I laughed and said, “I wouldn’t recommend it. It was a real pain in the neck!”

The Sentinels laughed. Kegor looked confused, so I explained, “I was shot in the neck by some Thalmor. I was somewhat dead for three days. Talos and Azura helped me.”

Poor Kegor! Every time he thinks we have peaked at maximum weirdness level, we top it.

We stopped at a lift.

“Kegor, do your local constabulary stuff. We will take this lift down to The Cistern and continue the search. Hopefully, no beggars or Skooma addicts got in his way.”

“How did you know it goes to The Cistern?”

“You don’t think we entered Evermor city by the front door, do you?”

“You lot are not the upper-class arseholes you pretended to be?”

“But we had fun pretending, didn’t we, you small city inbred?”

“Get fucked!”

“Get fucked, Your Excellency.”

Kegor chuckled as he moved away.

Rigmor and I got on the small lift first. A chock had been inserted into the chains, so the lift stopped halfway to The Cistern. We could hear splashing and grunting as our quarry made its way through cramped, smelly and very slimy tunnels. We waited for the others before pursuing it. We had no idea how dangerous the Daedra was.

After travelling through the winding tunnels for twenty minutes, we came across some of the remains of the second victim. The upper torso was impaled on a vertical spike. It showed the same wound patterns like the one in the brothel. There was no sign of the lower torso, arms or head.

There were several bloodied rags on the floor, as well as pieces of flesh. One piece of flesh bore a familiar symbol. I picked up that piece of flesh and showed the others. Cut into the flesh with a knife, the symbol was an eye with the iris partly occluded by the upper eyelid.

  • Wulf: This same symbol as on the clothing of Witchmen.
  • Rigmor: I wonder what it means?
  • Wulf: I suppose we will find out eventually.
  • Celestine: I wonder if there is a connection between the two victims?
  • Wulf: He ran past Kath and those other women who ran outside screaming. That suggests he targeted the two he killed.
  • Rigmor: So, if we can find the connection between the two, we might see the motive?
  • Celestine: There is no doubt they were acts fuelled by great anger. He must have hated them for some reason.
  • Inigo: If it was Ambition in Damian’s skin, he took a tremendous risk. I would have thought anything that endangered his plans, whatever they are, would be avoided?
  • Lydia: If it was Ambition, then he may have been thinking about these women for years. His hatred overrode caution.
  • Inigo: He is missing many checks and balances that are with the other one, Husk.
  • Wulf: Let’s see if we can find where he went from here. 

We soon found some steps that led to a door and The Cistern.