ROSCREA

Turdas, 9th Suns’ Dawn, 4E 205 to Sundas, 12th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 205

After an hour of figuring out the sheets, sail and tiller, the boat became second nature to me. I must have learnt how to sail similar craft but have no recollection of when and where. A snowstorm made it almost as dark as midnight. Therefore, I used night-vision to navigate the ice that dominates the water for many miles north of Skyrim.

Hours later, I was leaving the coast of Skyrim and heading for open water. A fog bank ahead was of no great concern as the icefields would be behind me.

The map that Floki supplied was excellent, and small islands were accurately marked. There was no easy, straight path to Roscrea. I had to keep alert, even when it seemed I was in the middle of an endless ocean.

I could not see the stars, so I could not hear the murmuring. It would have been good to look up and know that Lord Mor’Bel-Harza added to the cacophony with his laughter as he flew amongst them.

In many ways, the travel across the open sea was similar to my time in The Void. Water slapped on the boat’s hull. The sheets hummed as wind plucked them like the strings of a lute. The sail made many sounds as the wind filled and emptied it. These noises became the background, like the silence of The Void. Sea creatures, including whales, dolphins, sharks and others, would break the surface and make various noises from splashes to blowing air from blowholes. Then a bird would fly overhead, and its flapping of wings or cry would pierce the background noises and grab my attention.

All of these encounters were like the drifting souls of The Void. They came and went and told me I was not as static or alone as it seemed. I was moving, but not as quick as I desired.

It was about 9 PM on the 11th when I spotted the minor island off Roscrea where the prison was housed. It took fifty-one hours, and I still had two or three hours of skirting the coast to reach my destination. But the Divine Task was not urgent, even if my wish to see and hold Rigmor was.

All that I could see was ice. This island didn’t have a name. It is called Roscrea, along with the other islands dotted around the central, large island. It took three years for Uriel Septim V’s Expeditionary Force to conquer the main island, which indicates how large and densely populated it is.

This island is snow and ice, till a dividing mountain range allows a more temperate zone beyond. There are not enough residents to attract bandits! Small villages and isolated farms are widely spread throughout the forested area, and as far as I know, no patrols from Solitude are needed.

About an hour later, the Divine Task became urgent. I could not make the boat sail any faster, and my visibility was limited by fog and snowfall.

As I approached the final leg of my journey, the sky temporarily cleared. In the distance was a ship. It wasn’t an Imperial Galleon but an Akaviri merchant vessel. I recognised it from diagrams in books covering the various Akaviri invasions of Tamriel. But I also felt a familiarity with it. In my mind, I could picture its several decks and cargo hold. Things that are not illustrated within those books.

A ship from Akavir in waters banned to Imperial ships. Something started to stink like a Morag plan.

I considered lowering the sail and rowing the last hour or so to avoid being spotted by lookouts. However, I smelt smoke, and instead, I concentrated on trimming the sail as best I could to maximise my speed.

When I turned a corner, the source of the smoke became visible. Outlying buildings of the prison complex were burning. I could see bodies spread along the path from the jetty.

I used zoom-vision to inspect the path. The bodies were civilian, and Legionnaire and I could see no enemies.

Using zoom-vision on the Akaviri ship showed no watchmen on duty. It was anchored as close as it could get. Although it had a shallow draught, the waters were not deep enough for anything closer.

The lack of watchmen told me the Akaviri were confident of their mission being successful with little chance of enemy ships interfering.

As soon as the boat reached the jetty, I leapt off. The ground swayed as I slowly became used to solid land.

It was close to midnight, pitch black, and the foul weather had closed in once more.

I used night-vision and quickly surveyed the scene.

Amongst the civilian casualties were a mother and daughter. If the Akaviri were willing to slaughter such innocents, what have they done to Rigmor?

I saw the enemy outlined by the fire they stood in front. That would not do their night vision any good!

Heat-vision told me they were undead and most likely vampires.

I crept closer and aimed my bow at the first enemy. They wore armour similar to Blades.

He died screaming, and others streamed towards me. They were night blind. To me, the enemy might as well have been in the midday sun.

One after the other, they ran into my sight and died.

Two Akaviri waited for me, and still, they died without viewing their killer.

A father and son lay dead in front of their burning home.

I drew my sword and approached the prison entrance.

I burst through the door and caught the enemy by surprise.

A full-strength Unrelenting Force disintegrated all but one, a Tsaesci. He was bipedal, similar to a large Argonian, but they were not the same species. There is also another type of Tsaesci with a snake-like lower half that slither rather than walk but remain upright.

The Tsaesci healed itself then charged. It did not survive a second Unrelenting Force.

I didn’t spend time investigating but immediately made my way upstairs.

It always amuses me that I can use deafening Shouts that rock the foundations of a building, yet still, I catch nearby enemies by surprise!

Akaviri vampires charged with one of them preparing blood magic. Should I tell him it won’t work on me or keep it as a surprise?

I used Slow Time and cut them down in seconds.

I opened the door to the next floor and yelled ‘Boo!’, forgetting that it would sound like a loud mouse due to the relative speed I moved compared to the enemy.

I cut down one Akaviri then retreated down the steps, wondering how stupid my opponents were.

Idiotic was the answer as they all ran headlong into my shield and blade.

I looked behind me and saw why I prefer fighting to politics. I am much better at it!

I entered the next room and was faced by a Tsaesci Swordmaster.

He said, “Die with honour!” in his native tongue. How did I understand him? I had no time to contemplate that mystery as he drew his Kai-Katana and charged.

I knocked his sword aside with my shield then thrust mine through his centre. If he is their best, The Sentinels will slice through hundreds in no time if we face them in numbers.

I searched him and found a key.   

It opened the cell door.

I walked in and found Rigmor behind a modesty partition. If this is the accommodation for a Countess, I would hate to see the peasant suites!

Rigmor looked up, ran while yelling, “Dragonborn!” then flew into my arms. My Divine Compass vanished.

Tears streamed freely from me, but Rigmor still seemed distant. The advice from Lady Mara was sound. Both Rigmor and I need time to heal before returning to the chaos.

I asked, “My beloved, are you hurt?”

“No…no, I think I’m fine. I heard your Shouts and knew you were close.”

“Were you treated well?”

“Yes. The guards were all lovely, and their families even came to say hello. When the prison was attacked, they shoved me in this room and vowed to protect me. Wulf, who the hell are these guys? What is going on?”

“They are from Akavir. I recognise the ones with the tails. They are Tsaesci. The others are a type of vampire. Once Man but now something else. Man has not lived on Akavir for centuries, so I am confused as to their origin.”

“Akavir? At they invading again, and why start here?”

“Empire ships were banned from the waters near the prison on orders from Sethius. There is an Akavir merchant vessel anchored offshore. Vampires attack the prison where you are. What does that tell you?”

“Morag?”

“That is the logical conclusion. We can figure it out later, but we must leave before the Akaviri send more soldiers. I have a boat we can use to stay close to shore where their large ship can’t go.”

When we exited the cell, I took a few seconds to inspect the Swordmaster.

I removed its helm.

Rigmor commented, “It looks like a big Argonian.”

“The armour it is wearing is not metal but lacquered wood. Very strong, very light and extremely expensive. He was a Swordmaster, the leader of a platoon. I think they are called Oxi.”

“Creepy!”

“Not as creepy as the ones with snake tails.”

“Ugh!”

Rigmor saw the many dead Akaviri on the steps then said, “Wulf was here!”

Ordinary looking citizens populated the prison cells.

Rigmor explained, “They were all jailed for being political activists. Nearly all of them had asked what happened to loved ones coming from Skyrim.”

“We know the answer to that. But why did the Akaviri kill them? They were locked in cells and harmless.”

“Wulf, did you drink too much seawater? I have been told that can make you insane. If I mention the word ‘witnesses’, does that mean anything?”

“Of course! They don’t want anybody to know Tsaesci attacked an Empire outpost, even though, technically, this is a Solitude outpost.”

“Were these piles of ashes and dust Akaviri?”

“Yes, it seems random if enemies disintegrate to ash or dust when I use Unrelenting Force.”

We exited to a pitch-black night. No starlight penetrated the low clouds.

I stopped to have a closer look at one of the vampires. He had a split nose and lips reminiscent of feral, primitive vampires.

As we walked, Rigmor asked, “Were there any dead Akaviri when you got here?”

“No, I killed all of them that you can see. The Akaviri attacked in numbers and overwhelmed the Legionnaires. I can’t see any sign of a planned resistance. There are no barricades and no shield walls formed.”

I could see trouble before we reached the jetty as my boat was gone. The only consolation was I saw no Akaviri rowboat approaching.

Rigmor took one look, then stormed off a little way, swearing to herself.

I approached and should have dropped night-vision as it only highlighted her angry demeanour.

“Wulf, where is the boat?”

“It must have drifted off.”

“Great. Just great! Bravo, Dragonborn!”

“If you keep calm and wait, I can explain.”

Rigmor yelled, “Wait? Hello! Our only transport off this damn island just disappeared into thin air, so I guess waiting is something we’re going to be doing plenty of unless you have another great idea.”

“I was in a hurry and didn’t secure it.”

“I can’t believe you lost the boat. Can’t you do anything right?”

I growled, “Not another word! Follow me!”

We walked up the path, and I pointed to the mother and little girl.

“You said the families of the soldiers came to visit you. Do you recognise these two? Their fate puts your problems in perspective, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, little Suzy coloured my nails. I…Oh, the poor people!”

“Rigmor, I sailed for two days in the middle of the ocean, miles from safety. I saw the bodies along this path and the fires as I approached the jetty. My Divine Compass told me to hurry, so I rushed ashore because I was worried about you! I cut down dozens of enemies to reach you, and that Oxi had a key to your cell. If I had spent the time to secure the boat, I would have found a corpse, not my grumpy but loveable Rigmor.”

Rigmor wiped away tears and asked, “So, what do we do now?”

“The Akaviri ship is still anchored out there. It is only a matter of time before they send more troops to investigate. Therefore, we must head inland and hope they don’t follow. The map I used to navigate to this island showed a fishing village at the other end. That is where we will head, and we must leave a soon as possible.”

“So, you want to hike all the way there in this crappy weather? We will freeze to death out there!”

I conjured flames and explained, “How the hell will you freeze to death with a Master Mage with you? Rigmor, this is not like you. Think of this as an adventure, something different. Embrace it.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I am not kidding. What I am trying to be is supportive and understanding. You have been through a lot, so that is why I am not yelling and calling you names. Isn’t that nice of Wulf, the man who can’t get anything right?”

“Aaargh!”

“Rigmor, I know I let you down. But trust me, please, trust me.”

“Wulf, you didn’t let me down!”

“Yes, I did. I didn’t rescue you from the cell in the Imperial City. Now let us go and see if there are any useful supplies inside.”

“We will talk about that idiocy later. Now get moving! I’m right behind you.”

We entered the jail then I told Rigmor, “Go have a look around. I assume they brought a chest of your stuff with them. There might be warmer clothes in cupboards etc. I will check the Governor’s office.”

“Sure.”

Rigmor left to scavenge, and I picked to lock to the Governor’s office.

Upon the wall was a crude map of the island. Two camps and a mountain pass were listed. I estimated a twelve hours march between each waypoint in the snow. Three days to reach the mountains. Our speed through the forests should be a bit better.

The Governor wore the armour of a Penitus Oculatus Commander.

On a table was a note.

“Loredas, 11th Sun’s Dawn 4E 205

They are attacking the prison and are murdering everyone, even the prisoners. I have managed to barricade myself in my quarters. I can hear them trying to break into the noble room upstairs where the Countess is kept.

Now they are trying to break down my door. It is only a matter of time. I dread to think what will happen if they catch my wife and me alive. They are monsters, beasts from another world. But they shall not take what is not theirs to take.

Long live the Emperor.

Commander Crociele Gallal.”

The Commander has slit his own throat. His sword lay before the door to his bedroom.

I entered the bedroom and found the body of the Commander’s wife. He had slit her throat before his own.

As I re-entered the Governor’ office, Rigmor entered wearing her old armour.

She exclaimed, “Hey, look what I found!”

“Remember, you asked Blackwell to retrieve your stuff from the Tiber Septim?”

“Yeah, I did. And the Penitus Oculatus brought it here.”

“Now, you look like the teenage Nordling who kept getting me in trouble throughout Skyrim.”

“Just me and you against the whole word again, huh?”

“Just like Lady Mara wanted. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!”

“Me neither. I…I wanted to ask you about Bobby.”

“When we are a safe distance from here, I will tell you about Ser Robere, the toothless.”

“You didn’t?”

“I did, and you will congratulate me. But right now, we need to keep moving!”

“Do you see that map on the wall? It looks like the places on it will shelter us. Once we reach the forest, we can head for the village.”

“It will be a twelve-hour hike between each place marked this side of the mountains. Walking through the forest should be a bit quicker.”

“Twelve hours, in the ice and snow and….”

“You never would have whinged three years ago. Being a Royal Princess has made you soft!”

“Do not, ever, call me a Royal Princess. Wait till I talk to Malesam about that!”

“He was only looking out for you, Your Highness.”

“Wulf!”

“Yes, Princess, do you need your pillow fluffed? Perhaps some grapes need peeling? Or is your royal potty full?”

“Potty?”

“A princess would never call it a piss pot.”

“I will hit you!”

“And I would gladly accept a royal beating. Shall we go now, before more baddies arrive?”

“Hey, I’m sorry I yelled at you back there. I didn’t mean any of that.”

“Rigmor, I understand. I always understand. Yell and scream at me as much as you need to. It does me no harm and does you some good.”

“Twelve hours?”

“Yep.”

“Well, I am as ready as I’ll ever be.”

We made our way to the southern exit of the prison compound.

I turned to Rigmor.

“They have put up a spiked fence to keep things out, like that giant spider.”

‘I didn’t think anything would survive out there!”

“For there to be Frostbite Spiders, there must also be prey for them to feed upon.”

“You take me to the nicest places.”

‘I know. I am so excited!”

“Weirdo.”

“Our voices will carry across the icefields, so we must travel as quietly as possible. I don’t think our tracks will last long in this wind, but if there are pursuers, we don’t want them hearing us.”

“Okay.”

Rigmor coped well for the first four hours, then I heard, “I hope you know where you’re going. It’s so cold, we gonna die out here!”

I turned to Rigmor and said, “Remember the fire in my hands earlier? Watch!”

I had heard the chittering of Frostbite spiders.

When I used heat-vision, they stood out against the snow.

I spent a minute blasting them with Fireballs.

As we inspected them, I said to Rigmor, “Next time you are cold, let me send a Fireball your way!”

“I hate you! Well, almost. Give it another two hours in this, and that will be definite.”

Three hours later, Rigmor whined, “I knew you’d get us lost, just like last time. I can’t believe you lost the boat! How can anybody lose a boat? Pffft…whatever, Dragonborn.”

I turned to Rigmor and said, “I did not lose the boat. I know where I left it, but it has floated away. That, my dearest whinger, is not losing it.  And when have I ever got us lost? Tell me about the last time.”

“Well…um….”

“As I thought, so pfft, whatever, Princess.”

“Yep, hate. That is what it is. H…A…T…E. Hate!”

Almost three hours later, I heard, “Hey! I’m freezing my arse off back here. How can anyone lose a great big…? Pffft, oh yeah.”

I turned to Rigmor once more.

“How warm do you think it was sailing across the Sea of Ghosts?”

“I dunno.”

“No warmer than this. We will arrive at some shelter and get warm. You would not have had that option on the boat, which cost me a lot of money, by the way. If I needed to pee, I could stand and pee over the side. You would have had to hang your arse over the side. Imagine all the poor fishes looking up and seeing that view!”

Rigmor laughed then said, “I’m just so cold, okay, and I am exhausted.”

“You are doing great, Rigmor. We are travelling a bit faster than I thought, and in about two hours, we will reach the first camp.”

“Okay, I suppose I can make it.”

“You have to if you want to experience my ‘whatever’s in the box’ stew.”

“I wonder if I can make it back and surrender to the Akaviri?”

As promised, it wasn’t much more than two hours before the shelter came into view.

When close to the camp, Rigmor turned to me and asked, “I wasn’t all that bad, was I?”

“Not at all. And to think, we get to do it again tomorrow!”

“You are insane.”

“Insanely in love with you!”

Rigmor laughed and entered the shelter. I soon followed.

I knelt and lit a fire with some Magicka. The place immediately started to heat up.

Rigmor sat on a bed, sighed, then said, “Ahh! I am so tired I could sleep for a hundred years.”

I laughed. She asked, “What is so funny?”

“You always sit on beds even when chairs are nearby.”

“Well, you sit on the chair, and that usually ends up your bed.”

“Except when you molest me.”

I sat on the chair and stared at my beloved. Hair or nor hair, she is beautiful.

Rigmor asked, “So, what happened back there, yanno…after they exiled me to Roscrea?”

“There is a lot to discuss, and it is best if we start from when you were arrested.”

“Okay.”

“They took you away, then Blackwell and I talked. Do you know how they discovered your Mede blood?”

“No, they never said.”

“When they thought we were planning something with Ser Robere, Morag asked Molag Bal who we were. Until then, they had no idea I was The Dragonborn or that you had Mede blood.”

“You said from the very beginning they would have no idea about my Mede blood, and we know The Divines hid your identity.”

“Blackwell didn’t understand why you agreed to sign the Noble Decree or give up the Free City status of Bruma. Several others said the same thing. You could have said no to Sethius, and he couldn’t and wouldn’t have done anything about it. The other counties would have protected you.”

“We were scared.”

“But Freathof and Malesam did not offer that option to you, did they? Malesam was ignorant of the protection offered to Bruma via international laws. Neither did you reach out to the other counties for their opinion on the matter. You were poorly advised, and we did not have to be there.”

“Did you point this out to Malesam?”

“Not very gently, but yes. Malesam did well at the trial, but it was all so unnecessary.”

“If we had not gone to The Imperial City, we might not have learned about the Divine Task.”

“Maybe. I have a better idea what that is and will talk about it later.”

“What else did Blackwell say?”

“It is what he suggested with clever words but didn’t say that was the interesting part. He is loyal to the Ruby Throne and hinted that loyalty would extend to me if I were to take it. He emphasised that I was Dragonborn, hinting that I have a right to the Ruby Throne. That is also what the Greybeards said, but as I explained to Blackwell, unless The Divines want me to take the throne, I won’t.”

“Emperor Weirdo the First.”

“Blackwell will not protect Morag. Her arse does not sit upon the Ruby Throne.”

“Anything else from Blackwell?”

“No, he took me for a one-on-one visit with Morag, and I could see he dislikes her. He does show emotion on occasion.”

“You were left alone with Morag?”

“They had you in custody and knew I wouldn’t harm her.”

“So, did you get some idea of what this is all about?”

“She wants to fulfil what is called The Alessian Prophecy. I don’t want to talk about that right now as I am still sorting through its implications. Silah advised me to be careful about jumping to conclusions. It is not written anywhere but passed on verbally from scholar to scholar.”

“Anything else useful from Morag?”

“Not really. Morag did the usual routine of thinking she knew all about me and telling me how powerful her god is blah blah blah. What was amusing is she spoke of killing Sethius. While you were in prison, waiting to be tried for treason, the prosecutor was contemplating the enactment of that very crime.”

“And your Dovah behaved himself?”

“Yes, it was me in control when I lifted Morag by the throat and told her she only lived because they had you.”

“I hope she peed herself with fright!”

“What do you remember of the trial?”

“Nothing much. Not until you stood and talked on my behalf. It was all like a dream happening to somebody else.”

“Malesam did an excellent job, and the result would most likely have been the same without my bit. But I couldn’t allow those people to judge you without knowing more about you. All they knew was the courtly Rigmor. The snotty noble they occasionally saw on formal locations. I told them about the real Rigmor and why Mede gifted you Bruma.”

“So, what happened after the trial?”

“Everybody was discussing it when Ser Robere came running up yelling, ‘Guardian! Guardian, we must do something!’”

“Arsehole!”

“I walked up to him and used my Thu’um so everybody could hear. I told all in the Imperial Chamber that the engagement was off. That you never intended to marry him because we knew he was just after Bruma and did not love you. I warned the others to beware of the bandit from the mountains.”

“How did he react?”

“He went storming off to join his father while everybody laughed at him. You feel some pity for him. I can tell you honestly, don’t!”          ”

“I am still coming to terms with him being that much of a faker.”

“I will tell you more about Ser Robere in a minute that will remove all doubt, I hope.”

“What else happened?”

“I followed Ser Robere and scared the crap out of his father. I told him that if he ever makes a move on Bruma, I would kill him, Ser Robere and destroy his armies.”

“And your Dovah was not involved in any of this?”

“No, Rigmor, I have been in control all the way through but not without effort sometimes.”

“Did he know about Bobby’s plans?”

“Undoubtedly.”

“He is obnoxious. No wonder Bobby never introduced me earlier.”

“So, everybody is standing around chatting about the trial when a Commander of the Penitus Oculatus ran in and told me the prison was on fire. Cerys had already left to join you, and we thought both of you were in there.”

“I didn’t get to see anyone. They teleported me to the ship in Dawnstar straight after the trial. I told them we must wait for Cerys, but the Penitus Oculatus guards apologised and said they had to obey orders. What happened?”

“Ser Robere and Morag set the fire. It was a trap to capture me.”

“Bobby! No…Wulf, say it is not true.”

“Rigmor, he is working with Morag. Listen to what happened and know that the truth is undeniable.”

“I am not going to like this, am I?”

“Morag and Ser Robere knew I would come looking for you and set a simple trap, a trapdoor into a pit.”

“Idiots!”

“I deliberately fell into the pit then summoned Celestine, who hid in the shadows. I wanted her to hear what was said.”

“In case you didn’t make it?”

“Yes, you and your mother needed to know the truth, no matter what happened to me.”

“And what was said?”

“Ser Robere admitted he was only after Bruma and never loved you. He and Morag planned to have you married to him while you were in prison. Then they were going to kill you so Ser Robere could marry somebody else.”

“Wulf, I believe you, but I need to hear it from him. I want him to admit it to me.”

“I understand. Perhaps we will get that chance.”

“It must have been hard to keep your temper.”

“I teleported to Ser Robere, punched him in the face and froze Morag with a Shout. But it was me in control, Rigmor. And that short teleport proved to me that I should never do another, not until I am told it is safe to do so.”

“How hard did you hit Bobby?”

“Hard enough to make him lose a few teeth. I scared the crap out of him and let him go. If I had killed him, it could have given his father reason to attack Bruma.”

“You mean he soiled himself?”

“Yes, he shit his pants. He was so smug with the things he said when I was in the pit. So, I told him of some of the ways I could kill him. Petty revenge, you might call it.”

“And Morag?”

“I jumped back into the pit, which led into some catacombs. I wanted to know why Morag wanted me to travel through them. I waited for her to thaw out and tell me.”

“Well?”

“She boasted that I would be killed by something in the catacombs. But we both knew that was bullshit. Celestine let herself be known, which made Morag nervous as there was a witness to her scheme. Morag stormed off, Celestine went back to Bruma to report to Sigunn, and I made my way through the catacombs.”

“And what was the thing that was supposed to kill you?”

“Lord Mor’Bel-Harza, the last of the Cyrodiil Minotaur.”

“How did you survive?”

“Rigmor, if a single Minotaur Lord could defeat me, how would they have become extinct? He wasn’t a dragon or powerful Lich!”

“Did you kill him in combat?”

“No, he wanted me to execute him and put him out of his misery. He had been waiting for me as Saint Alessia told him I was coming and would do so. It is part of The Alessian Prophecy. Morag knew I would kill Lord Mor’Bel-Harza. She needed him to die!”

“But he hadn’t done anything to you!”

“He told me things about The Alessian Prophecy that have disturbed me tremendously. He pleaded with me, and I reluctantly agreed to end his suffering. I have never done that before, Rigmor. I have never killed an innocent. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.”

“Oh, Wulf, what a terrible burden!”

“Anyway, I killed Lord Mor’Bel-Harza, performed Arkay’s Rights, then made my way to Dawnstar where I purchased the boat and made my way to Roscrea.”

“I knew you would come for me.”

“I should have rescued you before Morag got her filthy hands on you!”

“No, you couldn’t. The Penitus Oculatus were kind to me, so was Blackwell. You couldn’t risk killing those guilty only of doing their duty. And it would have been an admission of guilt which would have given them a reason to attack Bruma.”

“Still…”

“Don’t you ever get tired of saving me?”

“What? It is not like I have to do it often! But even if it was millions of times, how could I get tired of rescuing the woman I love?”

“You must think I am a real pain in the arse.”

“I might get a bit frustrated sometimes, but I never, ever think of you as a pain in the arse but more like a dull headache. But you know, Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, that I love you dearly and will always try and be here for you. Notice I don’t make rash promises anymore?”

“I wrote another poem while I waited for you. Would you like to read it?”

“How about I start cooking a stew, and you can read it to me as I practice my culinary skills?”

“Ahh, what is going into the stew?”

“There are frozen provisions outside. I shall grab some meat, vegetables, salt and spices, and before you know it, a stew is born! But really, it will be just a chunky soup, but don’t tell the Princess!”

“Malesam is going to pay for that!”

I went outside and found a good store of provisions, all marked with Imperial Legion insignia. They could last for centuries in the cold and probably have!

Rigmor sat amused as I prepared our meal.

When I put the soup on to simmer and sat down, she asked, “Do you wanna hear my poem now?”

“Of course.”

“Okay, it’s called ‘Sand, Ice and Blood.’

  • Bleeding is she, forgotten is he, deeds long past.
  • The gratitude of the people no longer lasts.
  • Blood drips from the guilt, innocents paying the price of what the wrongs built.
  • Sick of the Fighting, sick of the dying, pain our greatest teacher…and enemy.
  • Sands of time pass us by as we continue to die.
  • What will you shape yourself into?
  • What will you do?
  • Tyrant or benevolent, the world you shape is by your hand.
  • Through ice, we dice, through sand together we band,
  • through blood, tears and pain from those left….
  • …flood.

“You, my darling Rigmor, have a great talent. Perhaps you should gather your poems together and put them in a book?”

“Haha, if we ever get out of here, I will. I am going to call it ‘Loona Shadow’ after someone who was very specials to me a long time ago.”

“A childhood friend?”

“Yes, for many years, we were inseparable.”

“I was going to suggest another title. How about ‘Perfect Poems Penned by a Princess’?”

“I will hurt you! Anyway, you said I wasn’t a princess.”

“You are more than a senseless title.”

“The Sentinels are in Bruma, right?”

“Yep, all of them.”

“Won’t mum and the others ask them endless questions? It would be hard for them to keep our secret.”

“It never was a secret, Rigmor. They all knew we were lovers in Skyrim. And I told Malesam before the trial about our time together after you became Countess.”

“We planned on doing that. I suppose it will make things easier for The Sentinels.”

“It will make things easier for you. They will learn of the things you have done for others. It is about time they realised how wonderful you are.”

“Bobby never realised.”

“His loss.”

“I hope you will tell me more about The Alessian Prophecy.”

“Of course. It is the Divine Task. I am positive of that.”

Rigmor and I chatted about mundane things till wonderful smells told us the soup was ready.

I handed a bowl to Rigmor, who looked at it suspiciously.

She remarked, “Ahh, there are no spoons.”

“Slurp it down. It isn’t scalding.”

Rigmor took a tentative taste, then started slurping like an expert.

Soon her bowl was empty.

“Well?”

“That was very good! Where did you learn to cook?”

“I have no idea. I knew how to sail the boat as well but have no recollection of learning how.”

“What is that other wonderful smell?”

“Warm spiced wine, let me get you a goblet.”

I gave Rigmor her spiced wine, and she sipped it at first.

Then it vanished in record time!

I told Rigmor, “I will go and clean the dishes and pans, then sit by your bed as you sleep. We can enjoy our peace once more.”

I returned ten minutes later, and my beloved was snoring.

I sat and stared into infinity.

My mind would not shut up all night.

3 thoughts on “ROSCREA

  1. I got a surprise when I came to the end so engrossed in the story I was. Looking forward to the next journal, thank you Mark, that was great.

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