Fredas, 17th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 205 to Morndas, 20th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 205
We entered the Captain’s Cabin then sat down on the bed to talk.
Rigmor said, “Wulf, I am having a hard time taking in all this prophecy stuff. Could you explain what the hell is going on because I don’t like it one little bit!”
“Like the prophecy of The Dragonborn and that of Auriel’s Bow and the one we dealt with in Evermor, it is a prediction, nothing more. If you meet all the criteria, then the prophecy may come to pass. A prophecy is not a predictor of an inevitable future, just a possible future.”
“Yes, you have said that before. And prophecies can also be false.”
“The one that predicted Alduin and me was from an Elder Scroll. Whoever wrote it had seen the series of events leading up to The World Eater’s and my appearance. It was written in the future and therefore seemingly a predictor of the future.”
“Oh, when it wasn’t, was it! It just listed known events of the past by its author.”
“The wording was such that only after events happened could you then tick off the required prerequisites. The Skyrim Civil War was the last of those, and most scholars missed that fact. It should not have been a surprise when Alduin and I appeared.”
“The one about Auri-El’s Bow was false, and that was on an Elder Scroll.”
“It’s promised outcome was false as Auri-El’s Bow could not be used to block out the sun for extended periods. But the events to fulfil the prophecy were met. I still have no idea how Arch-Curate Vyrthur managed to place that prophecy onto an Elder Scroll.”
“The one in Evermor was false.”
“Yes, it was not written down and very obscure. Namira invented it, and it was designed to spread chaos.”
“And this one about The Chosen Queen isn’t written down and seems to be different amongst those who know it.”
“Yes, and I believe The Divines deliberately made it that way. With a bit of manipulation, they can make it seem a predictor of events.”
“Like the rubbish about Sorella and Xenia’s bow.”
“There are way too many random events that had to line up for it to be a genuine requirement. I am sure a mathematician could figure out the odds of all the prerequisites being met, and it would be billions to one.”
“We still don’t know why we have to be together to resolve this Divine Task.”
“I don’t think we know the Divine Task as yet. We know one part of it, stopping Molag Bal’s plan, but I doubt that is all there is to it.”
“As per usual, you don’t know the plan of The Divines. However, your life is being dictated by it.”
“No, that is not how I see it. I am dedicated to protecting the mortals of Nirn and preventing the destruction of this planet and Mundus. I have free will and can walk away anytime I wish.”
“What if I don’t want to go along with it, and they can stick their grand plan?”
“You are not compelled, Rigmor. But if The Divines have said that only we can save all those we love from death or enslavement, could you refuse to cooperate and leave the burden to me? Even knowing that I would fail no matter what?”
“No, I couldn’t. So even though you say we have free will, we are compelled to cooperate by who we are.”
“And that makes perfect sense! Miraak was supposed to defeat Alduin but refused to cooperate. He was an egotist who put his own needs above all else. Only people with compassion and a willingness to self-sacrifice would be crucial to whatever The Divines plan is. And, as you said, we still don’t know why we have to be together to resolve the Divine Task.”
“What if you’re wrong?”
“Then everything I believe in is false, so let Molag Bal win!”
“You are getting angry.”
“The et-Ada sacrificed much to create all that you see! The Divines have continued to sacrifice to preserve what they created and love. Yes, you are uncomfortable with it all, as I have been since I awoke on the carriage to Helgen. But the alternative, telling our creators to get fucked, would make me more than uncomfortable. That choice would make me the most selfish mortal that ever existed! Do you want that label, Rigmor?”
“No, of course not.”
“We don’t even know what ‘The Chosen Queen of Whatever’ entails. Your duties might only involve cutting a ribbon when opening a new bridge for all we know.”
“Allie told me not to feel sorry for myself.”
“That is good in theory but difficult in practice. I know you want a simple life, but for whatever reason, that is currently denied us. However, you also want your mother, friends, citizens of Bruma and others to live the lives they desire and deserve. You and I live to serve. That is the sign of nobility, not of social rank but the mortal spirit. There is no greater calling than to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of others.”
“Wulf, please, don’t be angry with me or disappointed.”
“For the gazillionth time, I never get angry or disappointed with you. I get frustrated at how this burden weighs you down and my failure to instil the same clarity of purpose I enjoy. But there is something you should realise by now.”
“Morag should be afraid because The Dragonborn is coming for her, and Molag Bal cannot protect her from my wrath! She is just another list of those who will fall before me.”
“Wulf, I love you.”
“And you know I love you with every fibre of my being.”
“Wulf, will you hold me close tonight?”
“Yeah, it might take a bit of squirming, but I am sure we can both fit on the bed.”
We managed to get ourselves comfortable. Rigmor fell asleep almost immediately, and I was not far behind.
I had been up for about one hour and finished my journal entries when Mikael knocked on the door, and I let him in.
“We’ve got company, Valdr.”
“You figured out who I was!”
“Local lad becomes the defeater of Alduin. Now that will shock them in The Fishermen’s Friend.”
“So, what company do we have?”
“You had better come and see.”
Rigmor was still fast asleep.
I followed Mikael on deck.
A ship was on our tail.
Zoom-vision showed the Black Flag. They were Pirates.
“Mikael, they are pirates and not the Akaviri.”
“Yes, the vessel looks like it once belonged to the East Empire Company.”
“Can we outrun them?”
“We have encountered a weak wind, which means they will catch us in due course. The best thing to do is hide in the cabin.”
“It would not be healthy for them if they tried to harm you or this ship.”
“I can believe that. I’ll try and parley with the pirates and offer some trade. Once they realise that I’m just a fisherman, they might leave us be and go on their way. It is not the first time I have had to deal with their like.”
“I could just summon a dragon and turn their ship into kindling, but for the sake of any innocents aboard, I will go and play mouse in the cabin.”
Mikael laughed when I squeaked as I made my way to Rigmor.
Rigmor was up and about to leave the cabin when I entered.
“Good morning, Countess Snore.”
“I think being at sea is very calming. Perhaps after a few days of this, I will be less whiny.”
“There is a surprise outside!”
“And what would that be, my Dragonborn?”
“What? No way!”
“Yeah way! Mikael, who recognised me as his childhood friend, is going to try and bluff them.”
“Okay. If he can’t, what then?”
“As usual, I will give them a chance to slink away unharmed. I will summon Odahviing, Silah and Durnehviir to convince them that it is an offer they can’t refuse.”
‘Hehehe…that would be amusing!”
‘Let’s break our fast while we wait. I have some cheese and bread that is almost chewable.”
We sat and enjoyed our simple fare. About forty-five minutes later, there was a crunch as the pirates grappled the fishing vessel and lowered a gangplank.
A few minutes after that, Mikael entered his cabin.
“So, Mikael, I take it your bluff didn’t work?”
“Don’t ask me how or why, but they know you are here, and both of you are required on deck. The pirates promise safe passage for Wulf, The Dragonborn, and Rigmor, the Countess of Bruma.”
“We are worth far more alive than dead, and they would be wary of my Thu’um. We might as well see what they have to say.”
“I’m sorry, I could not outrun them.”
“No apology needed, old friend. You did what you could to aid us, even before knowing who we are. Thank you for your help.”
“I’ll tell them you’ll be out shortly.”
“We shall come out with weapons sheathed.”
“Oh, they seem a bit rattled. Apparently, there is an Imperial War Galley on their tail.”
“The Imperials are most likely hunting for us as well. I wonder if the Akaviri are following them?”
“You always were popular, Valdr.”
I turned to Rigmor as Mikael left the cabin.
“We shall talk to them, but if they try and disarm us, well…it won’t be pleasant.”
“This should be interesting. After you, so that you can be my shield if the pirates start firing arrows.”
“Glad to be of service.”
We exited the cabin, and the most annoying idiot on Nirn greeted us.
“Hey, you two, step aside. I’m waiting for some VIP’s, and I don’t want them hassled by aggressive begging, okay? Now scram!”
“If that was supposed to be funny, then you are stupider than you look, which, on reflection, is surely impossible. My armour alone would buy a fleet of ships, my sword two more fleets. So, try again, you moron!”
Mikael guffawed, Rigmor sniggered, and I could hear laughter from the pirate’s ship.
“Hahaha. I’m only kidding with ya! Follow me.”
We boarded the pirate ship, and I noticed something not quite right. Half of the crew were Imperial Marines!
The idiot said, “Hey Zan! I got a little buddy for ya. You ain’t the only girl on this ship anymore. Although I’m not sure if it’s a girl or a boy?”
My Dovah asked, “May I?”
“Okay, but no killing.”
I drew my dagger and, in a flash, had the idiot pinned against the stairs with blood pouring out of a cut on his ear.
“What is your name?”
“This knife is made from one of Alduin’s scales. I have had it for months but was waiting for a special occasion to use it for the first time. You lucky bastard, your blood is the first to wet its blade! You do know who Alduin is, don’t you, Karles?”
“Why aren’t you looking at my face?”
“The eyes of a dragon. Were you not told who we are?”
Zan said, “He was made aware of who you are and ordered to be civil.”
“So, Karles, let me tell you about the woman I love. She is, as you know, Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, the Countess of Bruma. What you might not know is she helped me defeat The New Order, Alduin and many others. In other words, you owe your miserable life to her. Say thank you to the nice lady, Karles, or lose your ear.”
“Thank you for what? Use her title!”
“Thank you, Rigmor, Countess of Bruma, for saving my miserable life.”
“Rigmor is one of the, if not the, most beautiful women on Nirn. She could also carve you into pieces with her greatsword. Apologise for your insult!”
“Countess Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, I apologise for my insult. I meant nothing by it!”
Rigmor said, “Apology accepted. Put the knife and your Dovah away, Wulf.”
I growled, “Karles, we don’t care what gutter you emerged from. We give respect and in return, demand respect.”
Zan said to Rigmor, “Take no notice of that arsehole, kid. Go on in. The Captain is waiting.”
I wiped my knife on Karles, sheathed it, put my Dovah away, then entered the captain’s cabin with Rigmor following.
Casius Varon, dressed in an outlandish pirate outfit, was waiting for us. Rigmor exclaimed, “CASIUS!” then ran full pelt towards him.
Casius managed to say, “Hello, little lady.” before Rigmor rammed into him so hard, he staggered, and then she engulfed him in a bone-breaking hug.
He pleaded, “Whoa, put me down. Hahahaha.”
“By the Gods, it is so good to see you again. What are you doing here? Are you a pirate?” asked Rigmor.
“All in good time, all in good time,” he replied.
Casius greeted me, “Well met, Dragonborn. We’ve been looking for you for a few days now. You’ve been leading us a merry chase, or should I say a right royal merry-go-round. Hahaha.”
Rigmor responded, “Pffft! Not you too….”
Casius said, “Haha! I see you have moved up in the world. Please sit and help yourself to refreshments.”
Rigmor giggled, “Hehehe! How did I know that was coming?”
- Wulf: Nice greeting. Better than ‘And where the hell have you been?’ I can’t remember getting a flying hug either.
- Rigmor: I promise that if you go away for more than, let’s say, three days, I will pretend I have missed you and fly into your arms!
- Wulf: And I promise I will catch you…maybe.
- Rigmor: Casius, how did you become a pirate? Oh my, this is so cool!
- Casius: Haha. After the Battle of Whiterun, I made my way to the Solitude Docks. I took a few odd jobs, tried a bit of fishing, and learned how to sail a fishing vessel. I then got myself a job at the East Empire Trading Company. I shipped linens, silks, all sorts of commodities from Solitude to Torval.
- Rigmor: But how did you become a pirate?
- Casius: Haha, hold on, little lady, I’m getting there. The shipping was very lucrative, but the company was experiencing problems with piracy. I told them to give me a bigger ship and pay me enough gold to have my own company of marines on board. I was promoted to Captain, and some of my very best sergeants and loyal men joined my crew, and we stopped company ships from being attacked virtually overnight. Then one night, we got into a storm which blew us off course a hundred nautical miles. After ad-hoc repairs at sea, we made our way to Solitude Docks a few days late. The ship had been reported missing, and I had been accused of piracy and outlawed.
- Rigmor: Accusing you of being a pirate is the stupidest thing I have ever heard!
- Casius: It is pretty common for a ship to go AWOL. If you don’t show up in time, they assume you went Black Flag.
- Wulf: Stupidest is not strong enough. You are accused of going Black Flag and were dumb enough to turn up at their homeport in the ship you were supposed to have stolen!
- Casius: They wouldn’t think about that, Dragonborn. They were losing a lot of ships because you could make so much more gold illegally. So, I was a pirate, sad but true.
- Wulf: No, I doubt it is that simple. The last word on the matter would come from Vittoria Vici. She would never sign such paperwork unless Sethius strong-armed her. How convenient, having one of the most experienced and respected field commanders made into a bad guy.
- Casius: I hadn’t thought of it that way.
- Wulf: It pays to be suspicious in the world-saving business.
Rigmor stood up and excitedly asked, “This is so cool! Casius, can I go look around your ship… pleeeease?”
Casius replied, “Yes, of course, but don’t get in anyone’s way and keep away from the sides!”
I added, “Rigmor, keep your sword sheathed. I am sure Casius is fond of his crew, even the stupid ones.”
Rigmor laughed as she made her way outside.
As the door closed behind Rigmor, I said, “It is good to see you, Casius. How did you find us?”
“Baa’Ren-Dar sent me. He has been very good to us on this ship. We are allowed free passage in the waters around Elsweyr and have access to Torval Docks. He is trying to cut us some slack with Solitude and to clear my name. He has also been keeping me informed on what had been going on in Cyrodiil. A soothsayer from Corinthe advised him to locate you.”
“Azura has got her sticky fingers in it this time. Sometimes I wonder how much she and The Divines are voluntarily cooperating. They haven’t tripped over each other yet. She sent Sethri as well.”
“I will leave all that god stuff to you, Dragonborn. I like to know the political and military information, and Baa’Ren-Dar explained that well enough for me.”
“Please, call me by my name. Dragonborn is what I am, not who I am.”
“I apologise, Wulf Septim.”
“I greatly admire Baa’Ren-Dar, and it is comforting to know he has our backs in all of this. So, he gave my name to you, but what else did he tell you?”
“Something I am having difficulty in believing. The son of Talos?”
“It is true. I was born and raised on that small island we just left. But I am not ancient. Talos was once a mortal and risked his life returning to that form for some time. I am not much older than Rigmor.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar was so pleased you two were together again. Are you, um, together again?”
“Yes, Casius. Did Baa’Ren-Dar tell you I was missing for three years?”
“Yes, he said something about you dying.”
“Yes, technically I was dead, but I was too stubborn to stay that way. It has nothing to do with my father. I am as mortal as you.”
“I am sure there is a tale to tell there.”
“So, even you and Yngol knew about Rigmor and me.”
“It was obvious to all, Wulf. Nobody mentioned it because it was none of our business, but we were all happy for both of you. Then you sent her to Cyrodiil, and when I heard that, I could not understand why. Baa’Ren-Dar recently filled me in on how selfless that was, Wulf. How Azura, through her soothsayers, told him to let it be and just comfort Rigmor when he visited.”
“You are now knee-deep in a war between good and evil. Some of this will be sorted out on the battlefield with swords and shields. Some of it will be fought with ancient prophecy and magic of immense power. The outcome is not who controls bits and pieces of Tamriel but the freedom from slavery for all mortals. If we do not win, Molag Bal will own you very soul, Casius.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar says you have saved the world far more times than most people know. Why keep it a secret?”
“Rigmor has helped on many of those occasions. The average mother, father and child find life hard enough. They do not need to know how often everything they cherish is threatened. Alduin caused enough worry and strife without adding the others to the pile.”
“Yes, I can see the wisdom in that.”
“How did you know we were on that fishing boat?”
“As per Baa’Ren-Dar’s instructions, we arrived at the prison first. We saw the carnage and presumed you two went on foot. We traversed the island and came across the Akaviri War Galley. That led us to believe you wouldn’t be far. When it left, we anchored off the coast near the fishing village and rowed to the docks. Sethri saw us and informed us you had boarded Mikael’s boat and were heading for Dawnstar. So here we are!”
“I figured out who the Tsaesci were when I encountered them at the fort. The Remnants were a mystery till Sethri filled me in. We will encounter many if we travel to Table Mountain.”
“No doubt that will be the case, Wulf. These are dark times we live in.”
“We will be visiting Jarl Yngol Storm-Blade. I am hoping he can help us cross the border and provide support for Bruma. We are trying to minimise involvement from Skyrim and High Rock as we do not want this turning into a civil war. Rigmor and I will have enough trouble with the shifting alliances within Cyrodiil itself, and I don’t want large numbers of civilian casualties. If I can eliminate Morag Sethius, the war will end.”
“I almost choked when I heard that old fox was made a Jarl!”
“I was busy being dead when that happened.”
“The old Jarl was arrested and removed from office after being charged with corruption. I think he thought he could get away with more because a bandit king is Emperor. He did not take into account High Queen Elisif. She was with the troops when they marched in and arrested him and gave him a lecture as they bundled him into the wagon in shackles.”
“He was corrupt long before Sethius usurped the Ruby Throne.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar said his citizens well like Yngol. It took him some convincing to persuade Angi to agree to the move and position, but in the end, they both thought it best for Sorella. She is growing up quick and a fine young girl.”
“There was something special about Sorella from the day we rescued her. Kyne has blessed her, so she is a wolf friend. When gods take notice like that, they must see something as well.”
“Well, they have certainly taken notice of Rigmor!”
“More than you know, Casius. What happened to the Sons of Talos? Did they just disband?”
“Some joined various city garrisons. Many are serving under Yngol in Falkreath. Yngol will be pleased to see you both again.”
“He may be happy to see Rigmor, but I cut the head off Ulfric and showed him to be a traitor. How is Yngol going to feel about that, I wonder?”
“He, like many others, believed what Ulfric told him. If he did not resign after the Battle of Whiterun and ended up killing Imperial soldiers for that bastard, I think that would have destroyed him. I know him well, Wulf. Believe me on this and do not judge him harshly.”
“Enough people had died needlessly for that traitorous arsehole! I had to end the war as soon as I could after defeating Alduin.”
“That came as a shock to all! You stopped the Civil War with far fewer casualties than fighting to the end would have produced. The news sheets were full of praise about how you gave him a chance to enter Sovngarde. You could have just struck him down with no danger to yourself.”
“I know how the Thalmor work, Casius. Rigmor withstood their mental and physical abuse, but she is an exception. How many good men have caved in like Ulfric? What he did was unforgivable, but sometimes, you have to consider the circumstances leading to the crime when passing a sentence. I think allowing Ulfric a chance to enter Sovngarde made a lot more Stormcloaks give up the fight. General Tullius does not understand Nords. He would have had a lot more mopping up to do if he had stormed in and summarily executed Ulfric. I met Ulfric in Sovngarde. Did you know that?”
“Yes, but not what he said.”
“Even before we defeated Alduin and cleared the way to the Hall of Valour, he was remorseful for all he had done. Galmar, on the other hand, was as defiant as he ever was. After Alduin’s defeat, they both graciously praised me and those who helped.”
“What did you think of Sovngarde?”
“The most boring afterlife I could imagine.”
“I had better go and check on Rigmor.”
“Was there a problem?”
“Karles insulted her. I threatened to cut his ear off if he didn’t apologise.”
“Karles is a true pirate. He is as rough as hell but a good man in a fight and loyal to boot.”
“Then let us hope our favourite Countess hasn’t cut him in two!”
I left a chuckling Casius behind.
I stood for a second to allow my eyes to adjust. The brightness of day contrasted severely with the dimness of Casius’ cabin.
Taking a guess where Rigmor would be, I headed for the prow of the ship. She would want to look ahead, not behind.
As expected, my beloved was staring ahead. I walked up quietly and stood behind her.
“Hey, beautiful, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I was just letting the sound of the waves take my thoughts out to the sea.”
“Quick, you don’t have many. Get them back!”
“Ha de haha. Idiot!”
“Did Karles or any other pirate say anything?”
“Nah, they looked at me as I passed, but they didn’t say anything. I suppose it took the wind out of my sails a bit. For a moment, I forgot where I was.”
“His comment hurt you, and I could not stand by and let that be unanswered. You have been recovering from your ordeal, and I was afraid that he dragged you back, and he did!”
“He brought me down to Nirn with a bump, I guess, but you took a great risk pulling a knife on him.”
“My Dovah asked permission, and I have always let him lose occasionally. I had seen the Imperial Marines and knew this was not an ordinary pirate vessel, so I guessed a bit of harsh discipline was acceptable. I chose my knife over my sword so the ones with brains would know I was not looking for a fight.”
“Thinking several steps ahead, as usual, even when angry.”
We were silent for a few seconds, just enjoying our quiet and that of the sea.
“Ahh, breath in that sea air, Wulf. This? This is something I could get used to.”
“My Divine Compass told me you were not in danger, so I relaxed and enjoyed my time in the small sailboat. I can see the appeal of a sailor’s life.”
“I wonder if we sail far enough, would we fall off the edge?”
“The world isn’t flat, Rigmor. Surely Freathof has shown you a globe of Nirn.”
“Yeah, I know, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could fall off!”
You would be the only one yelling ‘Cooool!’ amongst all the screaming and cries for ‘Mummy!’”
“Every time I think I couldn’t possibly love you more, you break out that laugh and prove me wrong!”
“There is no use getting too romantic, Dragonborn. There is nowhere to knock boots aboard this ship.”
“That is why sailors are a hazard when they get shore leave!”
“Maybe we can get a ship of our own one day?”
“That sounds like fun. We might be on this one for a couple of days, so why don’t you have a chat with the pirates and make new friends?”
“I dunno. They all look comfortable together, and I don’t want to interfere.”
“It must be difficult for Zan since she is the only woman on the ship.”
“Haha, yeah, I bet after a few weeks at sea, she has to beat them off with a stick! I suppose I could try talking to Zan. There is no harm in trying.”
I stood on the railing and watched Rigmor approach Zan. Karles noticed me watching.
Rigmor has never been timid. So, it indicated what Karles did to her confidence that she stood for a few seconds before tentatively saying, “Zan?”
Zan cheerfully replied, “Hey, kiddo.”
“How did you end up here, on this ship?”
Karles said, “Hey, Zan, the kid….”
I coughed, Karles looked up at me, and I shook my head.
Karles said, “Hey, Zan, the Countess want to discuss female stuff with you.”
Karles looked at me, and I smiled.
Then he said, “Countess, don’t be fooled. Zan’s got a bigger set of balls than the Captain! Hahahaha!”
Zan responded, “Hey, why don’t you fuck off, Karles.”
I called down, “Do you need another lesson in respect?”
I took out my knife, then started inspecting its edge. Karles saw what I was doing and sat back with a worried look on his face.
Zan said to Rigmor, “Come on, Rigmor, let’s go talk in private, away from this arsehole.”
They both headed for the prow. I looked towards the stern and pretended not to be listening to their conversation, which I accidentally overheard and somehow recorded in this journal. Oops!
“So, Rigmor, you know the Captain, huh?”
“Yes, but I haven’t seen Casius for some years. It is great to meet up with him again. Did he say anything about us, yanno, me and Wulf, the Dragonborn?”
“No, the Captain doesn’t talk about his past. Some of the Marines have been talking non-stop about both of you since you boarded, and I would love to get the story from you one day. The guys on this ship are super loyal to our Captain.”
“What about you, Zan? Are you one of Casius’ veterans?”
“Nah, I was in Solitude training to be a Royal Bodyguard. I served the High Queen for a couple of months. I saw Wulf there for dinner with Her Highness a couple of times. It was nice and paid well, but I yearned for adventure and figured it would be a change of pace working for the East Empire Company guarding their shit. That is where I met Karles, down at the docks.”
“Are you and Karles… yanno?”
“Hell no! Karles isn’t my type, and he is such an arsehole! I only tolerate his shit because he’s good with the ropes and a bow. You have to put aside any differences in our line of work, and he has had my back many times since we went Black Flag.”
“What is your type?”
“It is… complicated. Hey, what about you? Captain says you’re a Countess. You don’t much look like one.”
“What, a boy or a girl?”
“Hahaha. You look fine, kinda cool and sweet at the same time.”
“Looks can be deceiving, which is the case where I am concerned.”
“Is there somebody special in your life, Rigmor?”
“Yes, my Dragonborn, my Wulf. I don’t know what I would do without him.”
“Like a ship, steady and sure. Even if the storm blows you a hundred leagues off course, the ship always makes it home.”
“We’ve got a long way to go. Sometimes I don’t know if we’ll ever make it home.”
“Rigmor, make anywhere you’re standing at any time your home, and you will never be homeless.”
“Thanks, Zan. Hey, is that your real name?”
“You wanna know my name? I have never told anyone my real name.”
“Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”
“That’s okay. I’ll tell you as long as you promise me one thing, and that is, you don’t tell anyone! Especially that arsehole, Karles or I will never hear the end of it.”
“It is Louisharee.”
“That is such a beautiful name!”
“I was an only child, a miracle baby as they thought my mother could never conceive. She was late middle age when she had me. My father was a Breton Luthier and fell in love with my mother, a Nord, while they were both at the Bards College in Solitude. They had this brilliant idea of combining their names, Louis and Sharee.”
“Thanks, Zan, for the talk.”
“We haven’t even got onto the subject of you yet!”
“Hahaha. Fire away. First question?”
I was so pleased that Zan was dragging back the real Rigmor. I hope she doesn’t ask about Zan’s complicated preferences!
I returned to Casius.
“Wulf, are my crew still intact?”
“Yes. Morag cut Rigmor’s hair. It set her back quite a bit, similar to when I rescued her from that sacrificial altar. We have deliberately taken the slow route back to Bruma, so we both have a chance to heal. When Karles commented on her looks, it shook Rigmor’s confidence. But Zan is talking to her now, and I think that will help.”
“Oh, I see. I remember when I pushed Rigmor too far after you rescued her. I thought you were going to kill me!”
“Was that the first time you saw the dragon in me?”
“Yes, and hopefully the last time.”
‘At the moment, you are falsely accused of piracy. If you help Rigmor and me, you will be outside the law when we cross into Hammerfell. After defeating Morag, anything else may be considered treason.”
“There is no need to explain. Once I drop you and Rigmor off at Dawnstar, I’ll be sailing to Anvil. Once there, I shall see Quintus and ask for his favour. Most of the Western Legion soldiers are my old veterans.”
“We don’t have the months it will take you to sail to Anvil. Plus, we are unsure what side they may take, if any, in this dispute. They may very well seize your ship and arrest you and your men!”
“Do you have a suggestion?”
“I have an airship. You may have seen it over Solitude.”
“Yes, I always wanted to have a good look at it. It was often docked at your museum.”
“I suggest we use my airship and ferry your men to somewhere near Anvil, or if Quintus has a camp on the Hammerfell border, to there. But you had better talk to Quintus first and make sure he is willing to aid us against Morag.”
“That makes more sense. I can enter Anvil without attracting attention.”
“Once we establish a route with the airship, it can take you anywhere in two hours.”
“Two hours from Solitude to Torval?”
“Yep. Better than several months, don’t you think?”
“How come the East Empire Company doesn’t have a fleet of those?”
“If everybody stops trying to kill each other, we may be able to set up the manufacture of them in co-operation with Elsweyr.”
“Baa’Ren-Dar says you rediscovered teleports and portals.”
“Yes, it was knowledge lost during the last Dragon Break. But our furry friend has been using them for years.”
“I did visit your museum. It is amazing!”
“I haven’t been there for three years, anyway, back to business. I need to take Sorella with me from Bruma to Hammerfell but discreetly. This trip will only happen if we lift the siege of Bruma or at least give them a bloody nose, so there is a pause in the fighting. I could use the airship, but for the same reason we took it slow and walked the length of the island, I think we will need the time to recover before entering chaos once more.”
“From what Baa’Ren-Dar told me, you leapt from crises to crises with hardly a pause.”
“I am still recovering from my ‘death’. Otherwise, I would just teleport all over the place. But Rigmor is also finding this all a bit too much. It can be a difficult thing to accept, being the target of a prophecy. Quiet time is what we both need between bouts of violence. Deal with the siege, then move onto Hammerfell, but slowly.”
“What if time is of the essence?”
“I am sure The Divines will let me know. I can always get us there quicker if need be.”
“Okay, the road from the Imperial City to Skingrad will be perilous and no doubt heavily patrolled by the New Imperial Army. Therefore, I will wait for you near Chorrol and guide you over the mountain pass into Hammerfell. We can follow the source of the Brena River to Table Mountain.”
“Have you been near there since the massacre?”
“No, it will be difficult. I am sure memories will come unbidden.”
“You will be escorting Ragnar’s daughter and not The Son’s of Talos, but the son of Talos.”
“Yes, that is an interesting turnaround. May I ask, what is your father like?”
“You must understand I haven’t seen his god form. No mortal brain can handle such a sight. That is why, when I visited Sovngarde, Shor was present but invisible. So, I have seen one of his avatars or aspects. He appears to me as he was when commanding the Colovian armies. That is what he looked like when bringing me up. I am going to meet another of his avatars soon. This one is not as friendly, or should I say, not as human. My father tends to bend the rules a bit and does not blindly follow the ‘advice’ of Lord Akatosh.”
“What is the true history of your father? The various ones I have read disagree in many areas.”
“I assume the truth is a mixture of them all. Or all of them may be true. All I know is the man who brought me up is not capable of many things attributed to him.”
“I will set up a small base camp at the foot of the ridge on the border with Hammerfell. So, cut across the Orange Road from Bruma, and use The Great Forest for cover. I’ll meet you there.”
“Hang on, and you can mark it on my map.”
I opened my journal case, which is bigger on the inside than the outside. I placed several scrolls and my journal on the table as I searched for my Cyrodiil map. When I found it and handed it to Casius, he was staring at the pile of things that came out of the small case.
“Casius, just mark where your camp will be. Then I can put all this back, and you can pretend what you saw never happened.”
Casius marked the map, and I quickly placed everything back into my journal case.
‘Hello, Casius, anything else?”
“Oh, ah, yeah, I will send word to Bruma when I am ready to receive you.”
“Thank you. When we know more about what the situation is, you can sort out the logistics of using my airship with one of my mage friends.”
Rigmor came bursting into the cabin and said, “They’re here! Quick, come and look!”
I followed Casius to the stern and saw a ship at full sail.
I used zoom-vision.
I said, “It is flying an Imperial flag and is called Colovia. It is not the Akaviri ship.”
Casius replied, “Yes, it is an Imperial War Galley. It has been following us since we passed Solitude about a week ago.”
“Is it crewed by real Imperial Marines, or have the New Imperials taken over the navy as well?”
“New Imperial Marines mans that one. I don’t know who the captain is on this voyage.”
Rigmor asked, “Can we outrun them?”
Casius chuckled then said, “Oh, I have no intention of running.”
Casius barked an order, “To your battle stations! Maintain a speed of ten knots! Archers, form up on the starboard palisade! Marines, you are to gather on the main deck! Wear full armour and prepare to be boarded!”
I used my Thu’um and said, “ALLOW ME TO LEAD ONTO THE GANGPLANK. I WILL KILL MOST OF THEM IN THE FIRST FEW SECONDS IF YOU DO NOT GET IN MY WAY!”
Casius added, “You heard The Dragonborn. I have seen him in battle, do not get in his way!”
He then said to Rigmor and me, “Come into my cabin until the ships are grappled together. If they fire trebuchets or harpoons, it is the safest place to be. Once the hand to hand starts, that is when we join the fray.”
As we headed to Casius’ cabin, Zan took command, “Come on. You heard the Captain. Move! Archers on the palisade, marines on the deck. Move it, people!”
We entered the cabin then Rigmor asked, “You mean to fight them? That ship is huge, so how many of them are there?”
“Not enough to take on a company of Imperial Marines, and of course, us!”
I said, “Rigmor, they will be crowded together and trying to cross the gangplank. Their archers will be crammed together on deck. They are dead and just don’t know it yet.”
“Yeah, they are not expecting The Dragonborn.”
“Plus, once they see Casius’ pirate uniform, they will be too busy laughing to fight back.”
Rigmor did a huge belly laugh then giggled uncontrollably when she saw Casius’ hurt looks.
About twenty minutes after entering the cabin, the ship shook as the Colovia grappled it and pulled up alongside. Then we heard the gangplank being lowered.
We rushed outside, and then I Shouted Slow Time.
I started slaughtering the New Imperial Marines.
I had already killed half of Colovia’s crew when I came out of Slow Time. I used the Ice Form Shout to immobilise the remainder, allowing Casius’ crew to dispatch them quickly.
The last resistance was a few archers in a crow’s nest.
Fireball took care of them. The fight was over in less than five minutes.
I searched two officers, on one of them I found a key.
Casius, Zan and Karles were waiting for me at the locked door to the captain’s cabin.
I said, “You are in charge on your ship, Casius, but I am not just a General, I am also a Commander of the Penitus Oculatus, and this is an Imperial vessel. Nobody is to harm the captain of this Imperial vessel. That is my order.”
Casius replied, “You heard the Commander. Leave the captain to him.”
We entered the cabin and were immediately abused by the captain.
“You’ll hang for this, Varon! Traitor! You and your filthy criminal scum will swing from gibbets until the ravens pick your bones clean. How dare you defy your Emperor!”
Casius replied, “It is you who is the traitor here, my good sir. And he is not my Emperor.”
I used Whirlwind Sprint and was in the captain’s face in a flash.
“I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. What is your name?”
“Captain Sirulus Drusus!”
“Captain Drusus, are you calling me a thief, a pirate and a murderer?”
“And who has Casius Varon murdered?”
“Ah…he must have. He flies the Black Flag. And what about my dead men on the deck?”
“I killed most of those in self-defence. Now, we will search your logs, safes, under your bed and your cargo hold. If I find you have been breaking Imperial Laws, I will kill you, legally, as a Commander of the Penitus Oculatus. What do you say to that, Captain Drusus?”
“I am only obeying orders.”
“We shall see.”
I pushed Captain Drusus to the side and then studied a map on the wall.
Casius joined me.
He said, “The map shows shipping routes from Akavir to outer Tamrielic island chains. And look, he’s marked points of interest along the coast at High Rock and Black Marsh.”
“Well, if I were planning an attack on Tamriel, I would grab some islands closer to our mainland. It would be logistically easier to supply and launch fleets from those than across the vast distance to Akavir. Of course, the Akaviri taking the islands would give us more warning of their intentions.”
“So, the crosses are possible invasion routes?”
“I don’t know, Casius. They would be suicidal to take on the Argonian in their homeland as a first step. Mehrunes Dagon found out how tough they are!”
“It certainly seems suspicious. Akavir is steeped in mystery, and there has been no contact since the disastrous invasion by Uriel Septim V in the third era.”
“I wouldn’t say there has been no contact. But it seems that the idiocy of Uriel Septim has provided the Akaviri with an undead army. The Remnants are mostly Uriel’s defeated Legionnaires.”
“Let’s consult the ship’s logs.”
Casius moved to the log and started flipping through it.
He explained, “Okay, the ship arrived in Black Marsh three months ago to pick up what I think were supplies. The log says, ‘Arrived with contact and cargo acquired’. Then they sailed to these waters and met with ‘Ship X’ a week ago. The log says, ‘Cargo delivered. Correspondence delivered and accepted.”
“What was the cargo, Captain Drusus?”
“You tell me.”
“What ship did you rendezvous with?”
“You tell me.”
“Casius, I think it was the Akaviri war galley they rendezvoused with.”
“Yes, I agree.”
“I doubt that even if the Akaviri saw your ship that they would attack it. I wiped out dozens of them at the prison. Rigmor and I killed plenty on the way to Sonje, then a couple of dozen in Sonje. There can’t be many Akaviri left aboard their ship.”
Just then, Zan, who has been searching the rest of the cabin, came over and said, “Captain, here are what look like some kind of official letters. One of them is in a language I have never seen before.”
Casius took the letters then read the first one aloud,
‘M.S. to Captain Drusus, Colovia.
Under no circumstances must you attempt to dock at the prison.
Deliver the cargo and inform Oxi-Amura to eliminate the Dragonslayer at all costs. He is to leave no witnesses and bring the Countess, dead or alive, to your rendezvous point.
Use the recall scrolls to bring the Countess to Table Mountain as soon as you have her.”
Casius said, “Morag had the Akaviri war galley make a detour from its reconnaissance of the island chains to the prison. Oxi-Amura seems to be one of their best champions, and he was to kill you.”
“He was a Tsaesci Swordmaster. He challenged me and died in seconds. Why do they think these people can do what dragons and worse have failed to achieve? Rigmor or any of The Sentinels would have made short work of their ‘champion’!”
“I can’t read the other letter.”
“Pass it to me.”
Casius passed me the letter, and I groaned.
“This is written in very bad Tsaesci by Morag. You would think she would hire a scribe. I can make out some details, but the grammar is all wrong.”
“You can read Tsaesci?”
“I spent six years on Akavir being trained by the Dragonguard and Psijic Order.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that.”
“Neither did I till a few days ago. But my parents taught me Tsaesci, not the Akaviri. It is a long story, and I will tell it to you over a few meads one day soon.”
“Okay. What does the letter say?”
“Morag Sethius is angry that the Tsaesci won’t have their ships ready. She wants to move the plan forward, but the Tsaesci leadership have told her it is going to take years.”
Casius speculated, “An invasion fleet of a suitable size would take four to six years to complete.”
“Assuming they are planning to invade, we don’t know how long they have been building their fleet or what size their existing navy was. Therefore, we have no idea when the fleet will be completed and can’t assume we have four years to prepare for an Akaviri invasion.”
“No, we can’t.”
“But we can assume Morag has been conspiring and planning this for some time. Well before they usurped the Ruby Throne.”
“And then you came along. You are a fly in the ointment, the stone in the shoe. Rigmor being outed as a pretender was not part of their plan. They want her badly and will go to any lengths to capture or kill her.”
“Casius, you will find no official records naming The Guardian General and The Dragonborn as the same person. It was planned by The Divines that I would be something the followers of Morag Bal had not planned for. Rigmor is not a pretender to the throne and that is not why they want to capture or kill her. The Dark Lord wants Morag Sethius to be The Chosen Queen. The Divines want Rigmor to be The Chosen Queen. That is why they will pursue Rigmor relentlessly and why I will kill them all.”
I turned to Captain Drusus.
“Captain Drusus, you dared call Casius Varon a traitor, yet you are colluding with the Akaviri and Molag Bal! After we have inspected the cargo hold, I will be back to pass your sentence. I think we both know what that will be. You are a traitor to both The Empire and The Divines!”
Casius and I exited the captain’s cabin and entered the cargo hold.
I looked down from an overseer’s platform, and my Dovah immediately came to the fore without asking.
I growled, “Casius, make sure that Rigmor does not come down here!”
I climbed down to inspect the atrocity closer.
Casius barked, “Zan! Under no circumstance is Lady Rigmor to be allowed down into this hold.”
Zan answered, “Aye, Captain.”
Casius approached, and he flinched when I turned to talk to him.
“Casius, the cargo was people. Not slaves but food for the Akaviri. Every Akaviri I searched had human flesh, neatly packaged for three meals a day.”
“We must save them. We have a duty to try and rescue any survivors.”
“That is why I exist, Casius. I was placed on Nirn to protect the mortals from the evil of other mortals. Don’t go thinking a god is making them do this.”
“We have the rendezvous coordinates for their next meeting.”
“Then set course, and we shall rescue who we can.”
“I say we burn this ship, this place of evil, and use the trader to approach them. They’ll probably think we are off course from the shipping route and won’t suspect anything until it’s too late.”
“Then sail as an East Empire Trading Company vessel. Replace your black flag.”
“Thanks for reminding me. That would not have worked, a pirate vessel just being a bit lost.”
“What will you do with the survivors?”
“I will get some of my men to sail the Akaviri ship to Torval with the survivors.”
“Mmm, we might have to make other plans. I don’t think survivors should spend months aboard their prison. I will go and talk with Rigmor and then Captain Drusus.”
“What about Bruma, Wulf? It may already be under siege.”
“How long will it take to reach the rendezvous point?”
“Between ten and fourteen hours.”
“There are eight Masters of Destruction Magic as well as The Sentinels. The Bruma garrison is equipped with ebony weapons with excellent fire Dweomer on every one of them. Bruma could hold off a couple of legions of those bandits playing to be soldiers.”
“Thank the gods you’re on our side.”
“Yes, you should thank The Nine. We all owe them a great debt.”
Zan pointed to the prow when I exited the cargo hold. As Cassius started barking orders, I approached my beloved.
Rigmor sensed our quiet envelope her, and turned to greet me.
“Hey, Milady, I didn’t get a chance to see if you were okay after the fight.”
“Yes, not a scratch as they were not very good fighters. Anyway, you and Casius spent some time in the captain’s cabin and then went down into the cargo hold. Your Dovah is at the fore, Wulf, so tell me, what is going on?”
“The Imperial ship picked up a cargo of people and handed them over to the Akaviri, as live cattle!”
“Are you telling me those bastards have been…been giving the Akaviri people to eat?”
“Yes, and we know where they were supposed to rendezvous next, so we are going to make a sneak attack and rescue any survivors of this atrocity.”
“If any of them are afflicted, I still have some of the cure.”
“You look worn out, Rigmor. Wait for me in Casius’ cabin, and I will join you soon. I have to deal out some justice in this ship’s captain’s cabin.”
I escorted Rigmor to Casius’ cabin.
I made my way to the captain’s cabin, tossed my helm on the floor then threw open the door.
Captain Drusus said, “Hang on, my life for information!”
“Wulf might have considered that deal, but not me, for I am a dragon!”
I ran towards Captain Drusus and sliced through his neck. My sword caught slightly on the rim of his neck guard, and such was the strength of my anger, his headless corpse bounced off the roof, against a wall and ended up a crumpled heap under his table. His head landed on the table with a dull thud.
My Dovah was satisfied as I turned and left the room. I picked up my helmet and made my way to Rigmor.
When I entered Casius’ cabin, Rigmor was fast asleep. I pulled up a chair and was her Guardian once more.
The progress toward the rendezvous point was slower than expected due to poor winds.
After ten hours, I woke Rigmor, and we had warm food to break our fast.
After a couple of hours, Rigmor crawled back onto the bed and fell asleep.
About three hours later, there was a knock on the cabin door. I opened it slightly, and Zan requested I join the Captain at the prow.
I approached Casius and could see the Akaviri ship in the distance.
He said, “There she is, Wulf, the Akaviri war galley. It’s not as big as I expected, and as you said yesterday, you and Rigmor have killed most of their soldiers.”
I used zoom-vision.
“It is the same ship that was anchored near the prison and what we saw in a small bay a few days later. They are flying a flag with a variant of The Empire’s red dragon symbol on it.”
“You can see that?”
“I have the eyesight of a Dragon, Casius. I can also see in the dark and can detect body heat even through walls.”
“That would be useful!”
“Same thing as yesterday, Casius. Warn your people not to get in my way. Since we are boarding them, they should be packed rather tightly near the ramp. I could probably kill most in the first few seconds.”
Casius grinned then shouted, “Marines, get out of sight under the bow of the ship. The boarding ramp is to be kept clear for The Dragonborn!”
“Casius, in case they have people with spyglasses, I will wait in your cabin until the ships are grappled and boarding ramp in place.”
As I headed for the cabin, Casius and Zan were barking orders and getting ready for battle.
I entered the cabin and gently shook Rigmor on the shoulder, “Wake up, Milady, it is time to board the Akaviri ship.”
Rigmor slowly stood, stretched and then yawned.
“Are you awake now?”
“Barely. I think the slow rocking of the ship kinda makes me a sleepyhead.”
“Kinda? Sethri could have farted, and you wouldn’t have stirred.”
“Hahaha! Anyway, my Guardian, how do you plan to keep me safe?”
“Well, I was contemplating casting Paralysis on you, but that would only get me killed after the battle.”
“You would never stop me fighting when I want to!”
“No, I wouldn’t. Anyway, I will clear as many as I can with Unrelenting Force, and then you charge into the survivors while they are still recovering.”
“Just like the old days! Oh, just like weeks ago for you, hahaha.”
“I love you, my darling Rigmor.”
“And I love you!”
About fifteen minutes later, the sound of grappling hooks, ships crunching together, and the lowering of a ramp told us it was time to kill.
We ran out of the cabin and up the steps of the boarding ramp.
Akaviri were quickly assembling to try and stop our boarding.
Unrelenting Force killed most of them.
Rigmor came running past yelling, “For Talos!”
Rigmor and I cut through the enemy at a rapid rate.
An Oxi, a Swordmaster, faced me.
I knocked him to the deck with my shield.
When he stood up, I killed him with Unrelenting Force. So much for another ‘champion’.
Rigmor and I killed every single enemy by ourselves. The battle was over before any of Casius’ crew could help.
When the fight was finished, I heard cheering from the pirate vessel. I suppose it would have looked impressive, but still, it was just more deaths at my and Rigmor’s hands.
I searched the bodies and ash piles till I found a set of keys.
One key opened the cargo hold.
When we entered, we were greeted with screams and sobs. The people must have thought we were Akaviri come to collect another meal.
I used my Thu’um to project a whisper around the room, “We mean you no harm. We have killed your captors and are here to rescue you.”
I said to Casius, “All yours, Captain.”
Casius yelled, “Please be patient as your cages will soon be opened. Make your way over here where my crew shall give your food and water. We will attend to your wounds, and if need be, administer an antidote.
Please try to remain calm, but you will have to remain in this holding space for now. You will soon be travelling to safety.”
Before I headed for the cages, I said, “I doubt the antidote will be needed. If any of them were afflicted, they would be asleep or dead. It only took a few hours to knock Rigmor out!”
The amount of blood on the floor was evidence of killing and butchering in full view of the prisoners.
As I approached the cages, I heard Casius order Zan to take the helm of his ship and Karles the helm of the Akaviri vessel.
I released the six survivors. They looked pretty healthy and well-fed.
When they were assembled, I told them, “Don’t panic. I am going to cast a healing spell, and it will not harm you.”
I cast the spell then turned to Casius.
“What is your plan, Casius?”
“We commandeer this ship, and I’ll have it set sail to Torval with some of my crew. The rest of us will head straight to Dawnstar in my ship.”
“Torval is way too far! These people should not have to stay aboard for that long. I have a better plan.”
I summoned Celestine, who popped out of the ether in seconds.
- Rigmor: Celestine! It is so good to see you!
- Celestine: I hate ships. But hey, it is good to see you too, Rigmor!
- Wulf: Celestine, this is an Akaviri vessel, and we have just rescued these people. They need assistance so they can return home. I need you to go to Solitude and organise things with Her Royal Highness, High Queen Elisif.
- Casius: Is that wise, involving Skyrim in this?
- Wulf: I am not involving Skyrim. Roscrea belongs to the Jarl of Solitude, Elisif, and is not legally part of The Empire. I will write a letter to Elisif, and she will be discreet. Her Royal Highness has every right to investigate foreign incursions on her island! Fly a flag on this vessel, indicating Elsweyr as its place of origin. Anchor far away from Solitude, Celestine will summon Bostin, fly to Solitude, and inform Elisif of what has occurred. Elisif will send Imperial Marines to seize this ship legally. Celestine can use Bostin to take these people to wherever Elisif suggests for repatriation.
- Casius: I see. It might be to our benefit to have this vessel available for inspection. We can learn its draft, capacity and other capabilities.
- Wulf: Any paperwork we found and will find should be handed to Elisif.
- Casius: I was going to suggest we give it to Baa’Ren-Dar.
- Wulf: We have no quick way of reaching him. Her Royal Highness has excellent diplomatic ties with Elsweyr and will share anything relevant with their Envoy if he makes an appearance, which he inevitably does thanks to Lady Azura.
- Casius: And all this can be done in time for me to get to Anvil via the airship?
- Wulf: Yes. Just tell Celestine what needs doing.
- Rigmor: Celestine, what is happening in Bruma?
- Celestine: Ser Robere tried making his trebuchets and catapults further away and then wheeling them into place, but we destroyed them as soon as we saw them. I doubt they will try to assault Bruma without them.
- Wulf: At some stage, we need to let him have his toys. I want him to attack when Rigmor and I are there so we can crush him.
I moved away and left Rigmor and the others to chat while I wrote my letter to Elisif. I placed my seal on the envelope then returned to the group.
I handed the letter to Celestine.
- Wulf: Celestine, please help settle these people down here and clean up the evidence of the depravity, so they don’t have to see it.
- Celestine: Yes, that won’t take long.
- Wulf: Then you need to inform Sigunn and the others of what is happening. After that, head back here, collect the evidence and then go to Solitude. You should have no problems being granted a meeting with Her Royal Highness after showing my seal on the letter.
- Celestine: She will want a gossip session anyway. After that, do I make my way back to this ship?
- Wulf: Yes. Summon Bostin when it is anchored off Solitude.
- Casius: We won’t reach Dawnstar till after sunrise. I will have a hot meal sent to your room.
- Wulf: Come, Rigmor, let us eat and rest and sleep before we enter the chaos once more.
- Rigmor: Wulf, what about these poor people?
- Wulf: Celestine is the best Restoration Mage I know and will take care of them.
- Rigmor: Okay, but I worry about Bruma.
- Celestine: Rigmor, we will not let them take Bruma from you or harm your people. Captain Grimbold is an excellent tactician and uses his resources, including the mages and Sentinels, to maximum effect. What we face are thugs and an inexperienced field commander.
- Rigmor: I know, Celestine, but I need to be with my people.
- Wulf: We will be there soon, Rigmor. But I will not rush there for reasons that you know.
I sent Rigmor ahead as I wanted to speak to Karles. He was at the helm of the Akaviri ship.
“Karles, there is a young mage aboard. If you do not treat her with respect, she will set fire to your balls. Do you understand me?”
“Hey, I have learnt my lesson. The Captain pulled me aside called me all sort of inventive names that insulted me, my mother and my manhood all at once!”
“You’re lucky he didn’t make you listen to one of his tales.”
“Ahh, I would rather be keelhauled.”
“So, you have experienced them. You have my sympathy.”
Casius is a superb leader at sea as well as land. His crew are very efficient when given orders, so I was not surprised to find a hot meal already delivered to his cabin when I arrived.
“Wulf, I can’t get their cries out of my head, and I thought I had seen it all.”
“Yes, it was pitiful.”
“They thought we were them, didn’t they? They thought we had come to take another poor bastard away.”
“Rigmor, they didn’t take them away before butchering them. They killed and sliced them up in front of the others.”
“Oh, that explains all the blood. But why would the Imperial Navy supply those monsters with people?”
“I didn’t say anything this morning as I was waiting on more proof. That wasn’t the Imperial Navy but Morag Sethius’ stooges. She is colluding with the Akaviri as they plan an invasion of Tamriel. This whole thing has become far more dangerous and complicated than just Table Mountain. The Divines’ plan has worked, and we have unexpectedly turned up to wreck her party.”
“Well, I, for one, am quite happy to be Morag Sethius’ party pooper.”
“Agh! I am pleased to be the person who takes a great big shit from a great big height on Morag’s happy day, alright?”
“Well, I suggest a bowl or two of Elsweyr Chowder beforehand to improve the viscosity and amount of poop.”
“We must deal with one thing at a time, but whatever we do, we must now consider this new information when making decisions.”
“I don’t get it, Wulf. If the portal opens at Table Mountain, why would an invasion of the Akaviri be needed?”
“I have no idea if the Akaviri are part of a Molag Bal scheme or Morag Sethius’ agenda. She may have plans to deceive him. It wouldn’t be the first time a mortal has turned against their Dark Lord and gained a lot of power for themselves. Miraak is a recent example.”
“This pasta is delicious!”
“Yes, mine isn’t bad either.”
“So, do you think the plan for invasion is part of the Divine Task?”
“If so, then it may be years before we end the threat that worries The Divines. Table Mountain and the Bridge of Sighs might be one small part of it.”
“How long before they invade?”
“That’s the trouble. We don’t know how long the Akaviri have been building their fleet. Casius says it would take from four to six years to build a big enough fleet, but they could be only weeks or months away from completing it.”
“Oh, Wulf, what if Sethius is allowing this to happen!”
“The Akaviri would conquer The Empire quickly and then the rest of Tamriel. It would explain why he replaced proper Legionnaires in Cyrodiil with those pathetic bandit armies. It might require a combined effort between The Empire and Aldmeri Dominion to defeat the Akaviri and with the best troops from both. That is not going to happen under Sethius.”
“Let’s talk about something else while we eat. Then you can snuggle up to me, and we will worry about the Akaviri after we have dealt with Bobby then Morag.”
“I won’t hesitate to cut Ser Robere down if I see him on the battlefield.”
“I wouldn’t either, Wulf. Nobody endangers my city and my people and lives!”
We chatted about other things for a couple of hours, including a few memories of my childhood.
Not long after going to bed, we were both asleep, buffered from the world by our quiet.
My internal clock has been working better, and I awoke when I wanted for the second day in a row.
Rigmor left the cabin for some time, saying she promised to have a chat with Zan. When she returned, she joined me for a quick meal. Just as we finished, there was a soft knock on the door. I opened it and let in Zan.
‘Captain Varon has a sailboat for you to use as we don’t want to get any closer to the coast.”
“Not a problem, Zan. I can handle a sailboat.”
Rigmor laughed and said, “He just doesn’t know how to moor them securely. Honestly, Zan, do you know anybody else who has lost a boat?”
Zan raised her eyebrows then replied, “That sounds like it took some skill. You will have to tell me the story when we next meet.”
We followed Zan outside.
- Wulf: Farewell, for now, Casius, we will see you in Chorrol soon.
- Casius: Give my regards to that fat old fox.
- Rigmor: Be careful, Casius.
- Casius: Likewise, Rigmor, and farewell.
- Rigmor: Zan, I am going to miss you.
- Zan: Hey, don’t you worry about a thing, okay. You have so many people around you that love you so much. Take care of yourself until we meet again.
I used zoom-vision and could see The College of Winterhold.
I turned to Rigmor.
“It will take about three hours to reach Dawnstar from here. Then another hour for me to secure the boat with all the ropes I can find.”
“Just get on the boat, you idiot!”
We climbed aboard the boat and set sail.
We disembarked just over three hours later, and Rigmor watched with amusement as I secured the boat.
When I finished, Rigmor asked, “Hey, Wulf, guess what?”
“Ahh, you are amazed at my boat tying skills?”
“Nope. Guess what is under my cap?”
“A few inches of some dense bone surrounding empty space?”
‘Hey, this is my big reveal, so try again.”
“My dearest Rigmor, whom I adore and worship, I have no idea what is under your cap.”
With a loud, “TADA!”, Rigmor removed her cap.
I couldn’t help but smile, even as a tear or two rolled down my cheek.
“I am so happy for you! I quite like that short bob style.”
“Yeah, Zan did it for me this morning.”
“Bostin is still here!”
“Well then, my dear Dragonborn, let’s head for Falkreath.”
I offered my hand, and Rigmor took it. We walked in no great hurry towards the chaos.