Morndas, 20th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 205 to Middas, 22nd Sun’s Dawn, 4E 205
“Hey, Rigmor, perhaps I should visit Floki and see if my boat came back. It might be a Homing Boat, you know, like a Homing Pidgeon?”
“Climb the ladder, you idiot!”
“Alright, your darling Dragonborn is climbing the ladder. Notice how Bostin didn’t float away? I well moored her!”
“I am going to belt you over the head with something heavy if you keep this up.”
Rigmor giggled as she followed me onto Bostin’s deck.
After entering Bostin’s cabin, I went to the map room and set course for Falkreath
I walked over to Rigmor and noticed something strange.
“Ahh, did Zan do your makeup this morning as well as your hair?”
“Did she put something around your eyes?”
“Yes, a cream made out of Sabre Cat scrotum and Chaurus Eggs. It is supposed to stop crow’s feet and bags under the eyes.”
“Something made from a scrotum is supposed to stop wrinkles?”
“Of course! Can you see the difference already?”
“Ah, my dear Rigmor, you are only twenty-two years old. So no, there isn’t a difference except a slight glow, like how Chaurus Eggs glow.”
“So, what do you want to do while we wait two hours for Bostin to teleport?”
“Are you hungry? I could make something quick if you are.”
“Oh, I have a terrible craving, but not for food.”
“What are you suggesting, Countess? I am your Guardian and cannot partake in any naked romps!”
“Our bedroom is that way. I shall head there and insist my Guardian accompany me.”
“Oh, you evil woman. I was going to remain chaste till I marry!”
We went to our bedroom, and our armour and weapons were soon a disorganised pile on the floor.
I held Rigmor’s hands and asked, “Do you know what this reminds me of?”
“No, my darling, what?”
“Your bedroom floor! How do you even make it to your bed without tripping?”
“Ha de haha!”
I picked Rigmor up.
“We can’t risk you getting injured before the fun starts!”
I threw Rigmor onto the bed then joined my giggling beloved.
We made ourselves presentable not long before the bell rang. Bostin automatically glided into place.
Rigmor said, “I am worried. Asking Yngol to help fight is one thing, but Sorella?”
“She is going to be surrounded by guards. I will not let her approach the Bridge of Sighs unless the enemy has been cleared and she can get a clean shot at it. Yngol should see reason. However, I have a feeling Sorella will already be aware of what she has to do.”
“No, but more Xenia. If she contacted you, I expect she had contacted Sorella.”
“Xenia is a bit like you, isn’t she? Her willpower must be strong.”
“She probably made Molag Bal say naughty words in frustration.”
“Hahaha. Come on, let us go see your favourite Stormcloak.”
We climbed down Bostin’s ladder and entered Falkreath.
Then we entered the Jarl’s hall.
Yngol saw as and stood.
I noticed Rigmor did not run to Yngol and give him a friendly hug as she gave Casius.
- Yngol: Well, well, well… as I live and breathe. The Guardian General and Rigmor!
- Wulf: It is good to see you, Jarl Yngol Storm-Blade. I have seen you have gone up in the world, but there is no way, ever, I will address you as ‘My Jarl’.
- Yngol: You have often been a topic of discussion with Her Majesty and the other Jarls. It seems you are a Thane in every Hold.
- Wulf: Among many titles, yes. Please, call me Wulf.
- Yngol: Wulf Septim, so I have been told.
- Wulf: By Grom, no doubt.
- Rigmor: Grom?
- Wulf: Ser Robere’s bodyguard.
- Rigmor: No way!
- Wulf: Yngol, I assume Grom removed himself from Ser Robere’s service?
- Yngol: Grom barely escaped with his life. When Ser Robere was given command of the besieging forces, he wanted to cut loose ties to Rigmor. That included Grom and his little friend, Tiny.
- Rigmor: Tiny as well?
- Yngol: Rigmor, look at you, a Countess! You are a fine young woman now, and you have no idea how much it pleases me to see you safe and well. You have warmed an old warrior’s heart… truly.
- Rigmor: Oh, Yngol, thank you. Now tell me, how do you know Grom and Tiny?
- Yngol: Grom is one of mine and an old friend of your father. Tiny works for Malesam.
- Rigmor: You have both been spying on me all this time?
- Yngol: Rigmor, that old Khajiit, Rar Bendar or whatever the hell his name is, wanted it that way once he knew about Ser Robere. He rightfully didn’t trust him one bit. They are chaperones.
- Rigmor: And Tiny was Malesam’s spy?
- Yngol: Yes. Malesam wanted to make sure you were safe as we all did. You are like a daughter to me, and we have to look out for each other.
- Rigmor: Wulf, you knew all along, didn’t you?
- Wulf: Grom and I recognised each other at the Roxey, and he warned me about Ser Robere as he walked by me. They risked their lives for you, Rigmor, so please, do not get mad at Grom and Tiny or those who only wanted to protect you.
- Rigmor: Ahhh! Okay, I just wanna drop this subject right now!
- Wulf: So, I shouldn’t tell you Cerys’ actual name is Sven and that he is under a constant dweomer?
- Rigmor: Yngol, ignore this idiot for a minute. I am sorry, but this isn’t just a surprise visit.
- Yngol: There is no need to explain, Rigmor. You are both fugitives again and need my help, so come, let’s sit and talk.
As we followed Yngol, Rigmor asked him, “Where’s Angi and Sorella? How has Sorella been? She must have grown up quite a bit. What is she, eleven or twelve by now?”
“Haha! Sorella just turned twelve. Angi has taken her hunting in the mountains, and they will be gone for some time. She’s very good with the bow now. ‘Storm-Bow’, that is what I have named her.”
“Do you have any more children?”
“Not through the lack of trying. Who knows, maybe one day.”
We sat at Yngol’ dining table.
- Yngol: Okay, Wulf, what brings you two here, and how can I help?
- Wulf: We are not just fighting for Bruma, Yngol. We are fighting for the freedom of every person on Nirn. The New Order invasion was a diversion to their fundamental objective, so is this skirmish amongst the Cyrodiil counties.
- Rigmor: The New Order wanted to open an Oblivion Gate for Malacath to pass through. Morag Sethius is trying to open an Oblivion Gate for Molag Bal to pass through.
- Wulf: Molag Bal will enslave all mortals as well as drag cities and their populations into Coldharbour. Molag Bal is constantly at war with other Dark Lords and would demand the enslaved mortals in Coldharbour fight for him against invaders.
- Rigmor: Not only that, Morag has been planning an invasion of Tamriel from Akavir.
- Wulf: The Tsaesci of Akavir have an army of ex-Legionnaires turned into vampires. An invasion would probably involve their enslaved Red Dragons as well.
- Yngol: Grom only knew what Ser Robere would let slip in his bragging and occasional mistake. All I heard was that Bruma was besieged and that you two have been stirring up a whole hornet’s nest over there. I have sent my old guard to keep an eye on the border.
- Wulf: Lifting the siege of Bruma is our first step in thwarting Morag Sethius and Molag Bal. Rigmor and I will sneak back into the city. I have already strengthened the garrison with The Sentinels and some mages from The College of Winterhold. But more reinforcements would guarantee Bruma could resist a siege for years if need be.
- Yngol: We could do that! We just have to break through the ring, and my men are raring to go. Many of them have family and friends in Bruma.
- Wulf: Once the siege is lifted, Rigmor and I have to travel to Hammerfell. Morag’s coven is in a mountain near the Brema River. Casius will meet us in Chorrol and lead us over the mountain pass.
- Yngol: Haha! That old goat is still alive?
- Rigmor: Casius worked as a captain for the East Empire Trading Company until accused of being a pirate!
- Wulf: Casius gave us a ride back from Roscrea when we had a couple of sea battles against The New Imperial Navy and the Akaviri.
- Rigmor: The New Imperial Navy was taking live people to the Akaviri to be used for food. That is the type of evil we face.
- Yngol: I look forward to hearing the long, probably very long, story from Casius’ mouth!
- Wulf: There is something else, Yngol. Sorella needs to accompany us to Hammerfell.
As expected, Yngol was not too pleased with that concept. But that did not excuse how he talked to Rigmor.
- Yngol: That, I cannot do. You will have my men, and I will personally lead them if I must. But I will not put Sorella in danger!
- Rigmor: Casius will guide us over the border along the Brena River to Table Mountain. An artefact, a unique soul gem, needs to be destroyed. Sorella has been marked by these vampires and must be the one to fire a silver arrow from Xenia’s Wrath. That is how we destroy the soul gem and defeat Morag Sethius.
- Yngol: Enough! I have welcomed you into my house, but now you have crossed the line!
- Rigmor: I’m sorry.
- Wulf: Yngol, you had better sit down before I knock you down. Rigmor, you have nothing to be sorry for.
Yngol sat back down with crossed arms and stared at me.
- Wulf: Yngol, has Sorella had dreams?
- Yngol: Yes. I told her to keep wearing the ring that you gave her, but she can be stubborn. In the dreams, she fires an arrow to save many children.
- Rigmor: Yngol, she will be well protected. The unique soul gem holds the souls of many children that disappeared from all over Tamriel during the last ten years. It must be destroyed.
- Yngol: I don’t know…
- Wulf: I go out of my way to save even a single mortal life. Do you think I would ask this if it wasn’t vitally important?
- Yngol: No. Your exploits, well, some of them, are well known.
- Wulf: Did you know Rigmor was with me on many of those exploits?
- Yngol: No, and I doubt many people do.
- Wulf: You said Sorella is stubborn. She risked her life searching for Rigmor, so don’t you think she would try and rescue the souls of all those children?
- Yngol: Yes, she probably would try and reach Hammerfell by herself.
- Wulf: Don’t you think the parents of those children deserve the solace of their children waiting for them in the afterlife? They loved their children as much as you love Sorella.
- Yngol: Of course.
- Wulf: We are going to provide the safest possible way for Sorella to accomplish her task.
- Yngol: Okay, but I don’t like it one bit.
- Rigmor: We didn’t expect you to.
- Wulf: But first, we must lift the siege.
- Yngol: Do you even have a plan?
- Wulf: You attack the rear of Ser Robere’s forces. We sally forth. They all die. Simple!
- Yngol: They will send more. A bigger army will besiege Bruma.
- Rigmor: Bruma can hold out indefinitely. Wulf, Sorella and I will meet Casius in Chorrol. Once over the mountains, we will meet with Quintus.
- Wulf: Casius was confident that Quintus would join us in assaulting Table Mountain. If not, I can call on other resources.
- Rigmor: We will carve our way through the defenders. Sorella will only be allowed to join us when the coast is clear.
- Wulf: I won’t let Sorella near us or the soul gem if I think there is any danger to her. Once the soul gem is destroyed and Morag dead, we will return to Bruma at the head of an army. Either Quintus’ or one of my own. I will not let Bruma fall.
- Yngol: Okay, but Angi will need some convincing. I will talk to Sorella and let her know what is going on. It would be best if you two snuck into Bruma.
- Wulf: That is our plan. Grom has been reporting to you, so there must be a way in that hasn’t been secured.
- Yngol: Yes, there is a cave that needed a bit of clearing. But now it will bring you out on the other side, directly north of Bruma. I’ll mark it on your map.
I handed Yngol my map of Skyrim, and he marked the entrance of the cave.
- Wulf: Ahh, it is near Fort Neugrad. Have the Imperials taken that back from the Bandit King who occupied it last time I was in Skyrim?
- Yngol: It might be the last one to be done. Not significant enough to risk lives over, I assume.
- Wulf: Thank you, Yngol.
- Yngol: Thank me for what? You come here and deliver a blow to my heart, and now I want you to go. I don’t want you to be here when they return. Now go!
- Wulf: How dare you!
- Rigmor: Wulf, just let it be.
- Wulf: Yes, you love Sorella. But I love Rigmor and The Sentinels just as much, yet time after time, we put our lives on the line for you, Sorella, Angi and the whole fucking world! You would not be alive if it weren’t for us, and all we ask for is respect.
- Rigmor: Wulf!
- Wulf: Relax, Rigmor. My Dovah is content to let me deal with this.
- Rigmor: Okay.
- Wulf: You might be fond of Civil Wars, but I am trying to prevent one. How many of your men would follow me over the border if I went out your door and declared myself Ysmir, Dragon of the North?
- Yngol: Is that what you are?
- Rigmor: Yes, I was there when the Greybeards named him that.
- Wulf: You supposedly revere Talos, and Ragnar’s men were called The Sons of Talos. What would happen if I stepped outside and declared that not only am I Ysmir but also a Septim? Can you imagine how many from all over Skyrim and High Rock would flock to my banner?
- Yngol: And are you a Septim? Grom said you were willing to prove it.
- Wulf: Rigmor, tell Yngol who my father is.
- Rigmor: Wulf’s father is Tiber Septim.
- Wulf: I am the son of Talos and could cross into Cyrodiil with real Imperial Legions then crush Sethius’ dressed up bandits in weeks. I could call on Dragons to decimate those murdering pieces of shit. But I won’t, as I don’t want to risk a large number of civilian casualties. Plus, I don’t want to weaken The Empire for The Dominion or Akaviri. Therefore, I am trying to win this little war with the least possible number of troops. But that places me, and Rigmor, and my friends in far greater danger. I risk losing loved ones and my life once more so that you and Angi and Sorella can keep on living in your comfy home and not face the horrors we do. Let us go, Rigmor.
I left Yngol with a stunned look on his face. I understand his feelings about putting Sorella at risk, but I would not stand for his insult to Rigmor and me.
As soon as I stepped outside, I headed for Bostin at a rapid pace. Rigmor followed in silence.
When near the front gates to Falkreath, I summoned Durnehviir. He popped out of the ether seconds later.
“Ah! The free air of Vus, once again. I hear you spent time as a lost soul, Qahnaarin.”
“Yes, it was not pleasant, and The Soul Cairn would be preferable to The Void. I am undecided about Sovngarde compared to The Void, though. It is difficult deciding which place is the duller.”
Durnehviir laughed, which made many residents of Falkreath look upwards. The citizens of Skyrim were pretty blasé about dragons, but I heard a few shocked gasps as they saw the ancient, undead Durnehviir for the first time.
“Am I to escort you, or do you wish to fly upon me?”
“I will be using our flying ship. I need you and Silah to be our scouts.”
“I have not had tinvaak with her for many thousands of years.”
“I am sure she would love to hear any gossip from The Soul Cairn.”
“She will probably just fly circles around me and show off. Even in my prime, Silah was faster and more agile.”
“Silah claims she is faster than any male dragon.”
“That is not an idle boast, Qahnaarin.”
I summoned Silah, who jumped out of the ether almost immediately.
“Wulf, you have either summoned me to complain, or you haven’t met your father’s other avatar as yet.”
“We just need an escort to the border, and since you sit around doing nothing important, I thought you might do.”
“Durnehviir, it seems your experiments with Alok-Dilon did wonders for your skin and complexion!”
“A miscalculation on my part. But despite your smarmy remark, it is good to see you again, Silah.”
“If you wish another mating flight, I will need to fly a lot slower than last time and fear your bones may snap from the exertion.”
“We shall see after we have escorted the Dovahkiin.”
I said, “If you too have finished arranging a date, I need you to pay attention. You know, guard The Guardian?”
Silah laughed, and this time when the residents of Falkreath looked up, I heard sighs and comments on her beauty.
Rigmor held off talking to me till we were aboard Bostin.
“Well, that went better than expected. It is still a leap in the dark, and I don’t blame Yngol for not being too happy about it.”
“That is to be expected, but I find myself less and less tolerant of anger and disrespect being directed towards us. The miserable old git is lucky I didn’t deck him.”
“If Angi disagrees, they had better lock Sorella in a room and not let her out. She will try and help the children, no matter what. That is why I think The Divines want us to take her and not because she is the only one who can destroy The Bridge of Sighs.”
“I will stay with Sorella and protect her.”
“You, me, a whole army, Casius and The Sentinels, will protect her. I wouldn’t be surprised if Angi came along so she can shoot the bad guys in the head.”
“Hahaha…she would say that, wouldn’t she!”
“If Quintus doesn’t want to help, I will have to decide what to do. I must try and avoid bringing in too many people outside of Cyrodiil into this.”
“Yes, the scenario you just told Yngol is terrifying. You crossing the border as the leader in a civil war would tear The Empire apart.”
“I would have no choice but to become Emperor, and that is not on my wish list.”
“And I do not want to be The Chosen Queen.”
“We still don’t know what that entails. It might be a life of luxury with no worries or stress.”
“You know, I don’t think I could just stick my feet up and do nothing.”
“Perhaps you can join Silah in her gossip circles.”
Rigmor laughed, and the world became a bit brighter.
“I have a Beacon for Bostin in Helgen, but I think it would be more fun to fly there. How would you like to do the flying?”
“Really! I would love that. But why have you placed a Beacon in that burnt out old town?”
“The old Jarl of Falkreath refused to pay for Helgen to be rebuilt. Some veterans from The Great War approached Elisif to see if she would fund the rebuild. She mentioned it to me, so we made a deal with the veterans. We would give them rights to some mines, there are a couple under Dragons Keep, and Elisif had some unused ones dotted around her Hold. They had to work the mines and pay for the rebuilding of Helgen that way. The mines also provided raw materials for the rebuild. The reports I read whilst recuperating in Aetherius said they are almost finished. They have a well-trained garrison and are self-sufficient.”
“Do they have a tavern?”
“Yes, but we will be getting there late and will not be stopping to say hello.”
“This Fort Neugrad is near Helgen?”
“Yes, not far. It holds no real strategic value, but I am surprised the bandits have not been wiped out yet.”
“I am surprised Yngol found a way through the mountains that I didn’t know about!”
“It must be an old route that had not been used for a long time. Yngol said it had to be cleared out.”
“Well, show me how to fly Bostin!”
We walked to Bostin’s wheel.
“You don’t have the Magicka to control Bostin’s speed or height. Therefore, you will steer, and I will do the rest.”
Rigmor enjoyed the flight, and we managed to dock without incident.
We climbed down the ladder.
Rigmor asked, “Have the survivors of Alduin’s attack returned to Helgen?”
“I don’t know. I would love to meet a few people and see what has happened here. However, that will have to wait.”
Our winged escorts flew overhead as we made our way out of Helgen.
We passed a Dawnguard patrol.
Durnehviir called out, “Dovahkiin, the fort is full of people firing bows and not being friendly. I think I might enjoy this!”
The ancient dragon dived, and the slaughter began.
Durnehviir landed in the middle of a group of bandits. He then summoned some undead and proceeded to bite a few people in half.
His Thu’um is strong, and his Unrelenting Force disintegrated his enemies.
Between us, we disintegrated over thirty bandits in seconds.
Silah came swooping in and said, “Some archers are crouching on a tower roof, trying to hide. Too bad for them!”
Dragonfire kills almost instantly. The screams of those on the tower roof were brief.
Overall, we wiped out over fifty bandits in minutes.
Rigmor said, “Imagine half a dozen dragons swooping down on Bobby’s army. They wouldn’t stand a chance!”
“I am hesitant to use them against large armies because, if we lose, they will hunt down the dragons.”
“That is why you are only allowing a few mages from The College of Winterhold. You are afraid if we lose, they will suffer.”
“Yes. We are going to have to win with sword and bow plus better commanders and tactics. I am not worried about the odds.”
“We were greatly outnumbered at Whiterun and kicked their arses!”
“I have no doubt the inexperienced will bemoan the odds. Just ignore them.”
“You mean Freathof and Malesam, don’t you?”
“I will have Lydia sit in on meetings. She won’t hesitate to tell them the facts if they speak crap.”
“I bet Grimbold has enjoyed having The Sentinels around. They would calm the place down instead of panicking at every bit of news.”
We reached the cave marked on the map.
I yelled, “Thank you for the escort, Durnehviir and Silah.”
Both dragons roared then vanished into the ether.
I said, “Rigmor, this cave might be full of smugglers or bandits.”
“That is why you will go first, my Guardian.”
“How did I know you were going to say that?”
“It is protocol. Do I have to explain everything to you peasants? Now, on you go and don’t scream if you get hit by an arrow. I have a headache.”
We entered the narrow cave.
After some time, Ayleid architecture appeared and increased in density as we proceeded.
“Wulf, these blocks look Ayleid.”
“Yep, we must be close to entering Bruma.”
A bit further on, we exited the cave, crossed a crevasse, and entered Ayleid ruins.
The Ayleid used natural gases to light braziers, and they were still burning thousands of years later.
We entered a room that was quite dark.
Night-vision showed it to have been used as a camp in recent times.
I knelt and lit a fire with Magicka.
As soon as the flames illuminated the room, Rigmor exclaimed, “I knew it!”
“You knew what?”
“I know where we are. Loona and I used to come here when we were kids.”
“And the name of this place is?”
“Rielle. Come on, sit and talk.”
I sat next to Rigmor on a very uncomfortable stone block.
“Are you sure this is Rielle?”
“Yep! I remember that one of those stone blocks fell on my foot, and Loona had to fetch my dad. He had to carry me all the way home. He was so angry with me as he forbade me to enter Ayleid ruins because they are so dangerous.”
“From our travels, you know these places attract bandits, necromancers, undead and other nasties. But as a child, your curiosity would have been immense.”
“I cried not so much because of the pain, which was a lot. I cried because I had disappointed my dad.”
“You probably frightened him as well. Loona would have left you alone in here while she ran to Bruma for help.”
“It was just after that incident that dad made me my first wooden sword. I remember him saying, ‘Rigmor, the world is a dangerous place, and I might not always be here for you. You must learn to take care of yourself.’”
“Maybe Ragnar knew he would be a target of The Thalmor.”
“Yeah, I have thought the same over the years since.”
“We are now in Bruma, and you are in charge, Countess. So, do you want to travel in the dark and get everybody out of bed, or do you want to leave at first light?”
“Yanno, it’s quite cosy in here. Maybe we should stay the night?”
“As you command, Milady.”
“You know, we might not get another chance for some time.”
“Another chance for what?”
“Let me show you….”
After making love, Rigmor slept like a log while I kept guard. There was a sense of unease to Rielle that I could not quite place.
I made some coffee and porridge before waking Rigmor.
We chatted about inconsequential things as she ate and drank.
After Rigmor donned her armour, we headed where Rigmor thought the exit was.
As we passed a set of stairs leading down, I stopped.
Rigmor asked in a worried voice, “Wulf, is there something wrong?”
“I don’t know. Wait here for a moment.”
I headed down the stairs to an archway blocked by debris. I stood and listened but couldn’t hear anything beyond the blockage. However, my sense of something wrong had increased.
I made my way back to Rigmor and said, “There is something not quite right about Rielle. But we don’t have time to worry about it. For now, let’s just get out of here.”
We soon exited to a bright morning.
“Okay, Milady, where to now?”
“Well, we might be able to reach a sewer outlet unnoticed. It comes out west and leads directly to the keep. You wouldn’t notice it if you weren’t looking.”
“We get to step in Malesam’s shit!”
“Well, I have been listening to it for years.”
“Point the way, and we shall proceed henceforth to thy humble abode.”
Rigmor pointed and said, “That way, idiot, and turn left when we reach the road.”
“Left? Let me think. Oh, that is the hand I don’t use to wipe my arse. Got it!”
Rigmor laughed, and we set off on the last leg to chaos.
When we saw the road, I put my hand up and signalled for silence. Rigmor still remembered the hand signals I used with The Sentinels.
We could hear talking and laughter coming from the left.
We snuck along the road till we saw four men dressed in Leyawiin uniforms. The idiots were gathered around a large fire, and their sentry had his back to us.
Four arrows later, they lay dead.
We inspected the bodies.
Rigmor explained, “They’re only blockading the east side because of the ridge. If they want to starve us out, they need to stop supplies to Bruma from Skyrim. These troops must have been patrolling the route to Applewatch.”
“They can’t do anything about mages teleporting supplies in or even Bostin bringing in huge amounts of food every few hours. I think we should have the troops on your battlements consume large meals where the enemy can see them!”
“That would be fun! Showing the enemy how unconcerned we are is a good tactic.”
“Yes, it is. If we get the enemy angry?”
“They will make mistakes!”
“Yes, the tactic works for individuals as well as armies.”
We soon found the sewerage outlet, and the smell was not the most pleasant.
We entered and were extremely careful where we trod.
There was a hatch that led inside the keep. I went first then helped Rigmor.
I cleaned the muck off our boots with a bit of Magicka, and then we made our way to the dining hall.
Sigunn and the others had just finished breaking their fast. Rigmor and me entering was a surprise.
Rigmor said, “Mom, I’m back!” and everybody jumped.
Then Sigunn and Rigmor hugged.
Sigunn said, “Oh, the gods have looked down on us today. My baby girl, what have they done to you?”
Sigunn turned to me and said, “Wulf, how can I ever thank you?”
“Seeing your joy at Rigmor’s return is all the thanks I need, Sigunn.”
Rigmor said, “Come on, mom, let’s sit down.”
Lydia came in from the far entrance and sat at the far end. I was given the head of the table position, which I found amusing and heart-warming.
Malesam was about to say something, but I put up my hand.
- Wulf: Cerys, please sit. You represent the mages in these discussions.
- Malesam: Wulf, I take it you were not seen entering the city?
- Wulf: We came flying over Ser Robere’s army on dragons while I sang ‘Believe, believe, The Dragonborn comes!’ Then I got one of the dragons to poop on the command tent, but I don’t think they saw us!
- Lydia: Somebody is in fine form!
- Rigmor: Wulf, behave!
- Wulf: Yes, Milady.
- Rigmor: Malesam, we got in through the sewers. I don’t think they saw us.
- Wulf: They didn’t see us. Malesam, what is the situation?
- Malesam: Two days ago, Robere de Medalius arrived under a white flag of truce. He demanded we surrender the city. When we refused, he cut off our lifeline to Skyrim and has sat there ever since. He has had to construct his trebuchets and log ram elsewhere as the mages destroyed them as soon as they were half constructed.
- Cerys: But soon as we saw new ones being placed, we would go invisible, get within range and blow them to pieces with fireballs.
- Lydia: He would not dare attack without them.
- Rigmor: That bastard!
- Malesam: We assumed that they discovered your survival and rescue of Rigmor. Now they are behaving exactly as we expected.
- Cerys: Robere said you had perished in the fire, but luckily Rigmor had already sailed for exile. He said he would speak to the Emperor and implore for permission to marry Rigmor and that his love was still true. Morag Sethius called for calm and that she would get to the bottom of the reasons for the fire. She said it was a sad day because so many lost their lives.
- Lydia: Then Celestine repeated to Ser Robere what he told you when trapped, word for word. Then she asked how his new teeth were, and he left fuming.
- Wulf: Now you all know that Ser Robere is working with Morag Sethius and planned to kill Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Where is Morag? Her arse and my sword have a shared destiny.
- Cerys: She has not been seen by anybody for two days. Who needs spies in the palace when our mages can wander around the Imperial City undetected and just listen in on the local gossip?
- Freathof: We fear she may have left for Table Mountain. Sethri, Serana and Celestine informed us of everything, so now we know the truth.
- Wulf: Then I hope you all realise this is far more than just a fight for Bruma. Like the invasion of The New Order, it is a fight for the freedom of all mortals.
- Freathof: What a wretched world it has become!
- Wulf: It is as it has always been, Freathof. The occasional spurts of greed and violence do not obliterate the abundant beauty and joy to be found.
- Rigmor: When Yngol is in place, he will attack early in the morning. We will sally forth with the first objective being the destruction of the trebuchets. I advise we take control of the road into Cyrodiil, which we can defend from the heights. The mountains behind our back are impassable and offer us natural protection. Once we gain control of that road, any attempt by the enemy to take the high ground would funnel their troops into the withering fire from our archers and mages. That would also give us time to reinforce the city, if need be, and open a trade route with our friends in Skyrim. We can fill our stores for a long siege if we have to. Then we…ahh, then we…Wulf?”
- Wulf: Milady, you are doing so well. Please, continue.
- Rigmor: I…I’m sorry. I didn’t know my place…I…
- Malesam: Poppycock! You are where you belong, which is leading your citizens.
- Freathof: Please continue, child. We are all so very proud of you.
- Lydia: Rigmor, what you have outlined so far is an excellent strategy.
- Grimbold: Indeed, Countess, it is faultless.
- Rigmor: Well, then we hold them off as long as we can until Count Bruce de Medalius brings his main force to bear. This time we are many with The Sentinels and mages. Yngol and his veterans will also be amongst us. He can direct small groups of resistance fighters into the mountains and behind the enemy. That would make it impossible for the Count to assault the city by conventional means, and he would have to starve us out with a long siege of attrition.
- Wulf: But he can’t starve us out. We can bring in as much food as we want with our mages and airship!
- Cerys: Any assault on Bruma’s walls would be destroyed with mages lining them and firing Destruction spells in great numbers. It would be a massacre!
- Rigmor: Yngol will have Sorella with him. When the city is as secure as possible, Wulf and I will escort Sorella to Chorrol and meet up with Casius.
- Wulf: Casius will guide us over the mountain passes to the border of Hammerfell.
- Malesam: Ahhh! Casius Varon! I do like it when things appear to be coming together. I like reunions.
- Wulf: Malesam, I don’t think you ever met Casius.
- Malesam: No, so it isn’t a reunion for me, is it?
- Rigmor: As Wulf said, Casius will guide us over the Colovian Highlands, and mountain passes into Hammerfell. With luck, he will already have secured the support of Quintus and his army.
- Wulf: Celestine should soon report progress on that. I don’t think we will have trouble convincing Quintus to join in the assault, if there has to be one, on Table Mountain. Marching out of Anvil to aid Rigmor is another matter. That would be an act of treason.
- Rigmor: With or without Quintus, we take Table Mountain. We then destroy the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, and that Morag bitch is history!
- Freathof: Will Quintus march his army down the Gold Road to The Imperial City?
- Rigmor: We don’t know, but hopefully, yes.
- Malesam: If he did, the Count of Leyawiin would be forced to lift the siege of Bruma or risk splitting his force to protect The White-Gold Tower. Depending on the circumstance, we would have to decide what to do next.
- Wulf: It is a dynamic situation reliant on who supports what side. I am afraid I have no idea how the Counties are split on this matter.
- Malesam: Yes, who would join the Emperor’s side and who would abstain is critical. There are so many scenarios. It all depends on Quintus and how quickly he can move from Anvil to Skingrad and then place his army outside Chorrol.
- Wulf: I think the other Counts realise that Count Bruce de Medalius and Ser Robere want Bruma so they can make a move for the Ruby Throne. The western counties are not going to aid him in that endeavour. They will most likely join us or sit on their arses and watch.
- Malesam: It had been known for an army just to sit and do nothing on the battlefield.
- Wulf: No way! Did you know that, Lydia?
- Lydia: No! Luckily, we have such a renowned military strategist to guide us.
- Cerys: Yeah, sarcasm! We never have enough sarcasm around here.
- Malesam: That is enough, Cerys!
- Wulf: Cerys is the more senior mage between you two, Malesam. Therefore, she has the right to comment on things concerning the Royal Decree to protect the descendants of Morgan of Winterhold. As Arch-Mage, I am the only one with the right to silence Cerys.
- Rigmor: Ahem! If Cheydinhal and Bravil side with Leyawiin, we will have problems. Bruce de Medalius could halve his forces, effectively keeping Bruma in check, and still mount a three-pronged pincer attack on Quintus’ army. We would be defeated.
- Wulf: To borrow a phrase from Malesam, I say poppycock! We are talking about one of the best field commanders with elite Imperial Legionnaires versus bandits with piss poor commanders.
- Lydia: The New Imperial Army consists of what we call Chocolate Soldiers. When the heat is on, they will melt away.
- Wulf: Legionnaires are the best trained, most disciplined and best-equipped soldiers on Nirn. But being outflanked is never ideal. Therefore, I think Casius and his men would win, but the casualties would be high.
- Rigmor: Then maybe the best way forward, if we get that far, is to relieve Bruma, attack the Count of Leyawiin’s army directly from the south. Then have Yngol sally forth on his flank and crush the army.
- Freathof: Count Bruce de Medalius will move, my child. He will sit on the banks of Lake Rumare and guard the Imperial City. He would wait for the Counts of Cheydinhal and Bravil to reinforce his army and strike, and then the odds would overwhelm us all. The best we could hope for would be to relieve Bruma with Quintus’ army and force a stalemate.
- Malesam: Bear in mind any peace deal would only last as long as it takes Sethius to bring Chorrol, Anvil and Skingrad into the fold. There really isn’t any other way than to fight to the bitter end.
- Rigmor: Wulf?
- Wulf: What a load of speculative bullshit! What if I attacked the enemy with a dozen dragons or more? What if I brought over dozens of Master Mages from Winterhold? What if I proclaim myself as the legitimate Emperor, which I am, according to tradition, The Greybeards and The Divines, and start a civil war with the genuine Legions under my banner? What if I walk into The Imperial Palace right now, slaughter Sethius and sit my arse on the throne?
- Lydia: You all throw this crap at Rigmor when what Wulf says is true. Bruma will never fall with him protecting it! However, we are trying to minimise the casualties in all this. We don’t want another massacre like what happened in Leyawiin, but if we turn this into an Imperial Empire civil war, that will happen!
- Wulf: We must win this with the minimal number of troops necessary and very little assistance from outside of Cyrodiil. Not only to stop it escalating but to make sure we don’t leave ourselves vulnerable to The Dominion or Akaviri.
- Lydia: You are all thinking too far ahead and seem to forget the odds we faced against The New Order.
- Wulf: Rigmor, what do we always do?
- Rigmor: We always focus on the task at hand.
- Wulf: And if that method didn’t work in the past, you would all be dead or enslaved by now.
- Grimbold: And on that sage advice, I ask to be excused, Countess, as I need to go and check on the defences.
- Rigmor: Of course, Captain Grimbold.
- Wulf: If you don’t mind, Captain Grimbold, I will stop by and see if you require anything.
- Grimbold: I look forward to your visit, Sir, if only to discuss the price of chickens in Solstheim
- Freathof: I want to study some old manuscripts, so I will also excuse myself.
- Sigunn: I want to sort out what stores are needed in the Temple and am meeting with The Priest of The Nine, so I must also excuse myself.
When I looked over to the exit, I noticed Olette standing there, so I hurried over.
“Olette, why are you in Bruma?”
“I wanted to protect Rigmor’s home, and The Sentinels could find no reason I shouldn’t. So here I am!”
“I will not allow you to man the walls!”
“I am learning to be a statue like Cap’n Grimbold. We stand here, all silent like, and bite our tongues even when what we hear is idiotic or bullshit. That has been the hardest bit, and Cap’n Grimbold says I have done well because the idiocy and bullshit have been in large amounts.”
“I suppose being in here is safe enough.”
“Cap’n Grimbold says that me being here lets him do other stuff like he is doing now and checking on things.”
“Don’t you find it boring?”
“Well, now you are here to liven things up a bit! You will be glad to know you and Rigmor’s relationship was the hot topic for a few days.”
“If only they knew the young girl listening in used to be an information broker.”
“Yeah, Sethius pays a fortune for the stuff I give him!”
“Well, don’t give him a discount. He can afford it.”
I returned to the table leaving a giggling Olette behind me.
- Malesam: I take it Sethri informed you of the consequences of destroying the soul gem?
- Wulf: A potential consequence, Malesam. What do you say, Cerys?
- Cerys: I say it is a unique artefact with nothing similar being encountered before. Therefore, even with superior magical knowledge, it is impossible to be sure of what will happen.
- Wulf: Exactly. We speculate that the crystal matrix must be very strong, and the amount of energy it contains could, on release, be powerful enough to open an Oblivion Gate. It is not a given.
- Cerys: They would not listen to any of us mages on this matter.
- Wulf: Okay, Malesam, continue.
- Malesam: Ahh, yes, let me explain. I have spoken to my mistress, and she is very interested in our endeavours to thwart Morag Sethius, or should I say Molag Bal. So much so, she has taken it upon herself to become directly involved if need be.
- Wulf: It is a bit creepy how Morag calls her Dark Lord husband her daddy! Anyway, how will Boethia help?
- Malesam: Let’s just say it is personal. If an Oblivion Gate opens long enough for a certain Daedra to appear in person, then things will get terrible, very quickly for not only you but all of Tamriel.
- Wulf: Malesam, I deal with Daedric Princes all the time! Don’t you think I know the seriousness of any of them manifesting on Nirn? And it is not just bad for Tamriel, but for the entirety of Nirn and maybe even Mundus itself. So, stop the dramatics and just tell us how Boethia plans to shove a big one up Molag Bal’s rectum!
- Olette: That is a good metaphor, Cap’n. I knew things would be more enjoyable with you here!
- Wulf: You are supposed to be a silent statue.
- Olette: Oh, yeah. I am entering into statue mode now.
- Malesam: Hahaha! My mistress has instructed me to give you this.
With a flourish, Malesam placed an eyeball on the table while saying, “Behold, Dragonborn, I present to you ‘The Eye of Boethia’!”
Rigmor, Cerys, Lydia and a certain young statue all started tittering.
I looked at it and commented, “Malesam, it is brown.”
“Yes, it is.”
“So, shouldn’t you have said, ‘Behold, Dragonborn, I present to you, Boethia’s Browneye!’?”
The ladies, and the not so silent statue, burst out laughing.
Malesam looked so sad, and I felt pity for him, so I cut the hilarity short.
- Wulf: Okay, Malesam, what does it do?
- Malesam: It allows you to summon Boethia, but only if you are near an Oblivion Gate and another Daedra is present.
- Wulf: Boethia expects me to summon her to the mortal plane? That is something she has been trying to do for thousands of years and is no more desirable than having Molag Bal here!
- Malesam: If Molag Bal enters the rift, you must summon Boethia, who will fight him to the death.
- Wulf: Daedric Princes can’t die.
- Malesam: Okay, it is an everlasting battle that can never end until you strike either one with this.
Malesam placed Scourge on the table.
- Wulf: I want your word, on behalf of your Mistress, that if I banish Molag Bal with Scourge, she will also be expelled from Mundus.
- Malesam: That is what she told me will happen, and as you know, they do not lie. So yes, I swear that Boethia will also be expelled from Mundus.
- Wulf: That is good enough. Now all I have to do is avoid being stomped on by either Dark Lord. I have no doubt Molag Bal will have a few minions to keep him company.
- Lydia: You can always summon The Sentinels.
- Wulf: No, Lydia, it is far too dangerous. I shall be the only one to risk it. I can summon immortal minions if need be.
- Malesam: Boethia is very fond of you, Wulf, and Rigmor.
- Wulf: Her hate for Molag Bal is greater than her hate for Malacath. So, Malesam, don’t try and make it sound like Boethia has altruistic reasons for aiding us.
- Malesam: True, there always has to be an ulterior motive for her to become involved at such a personal level.
- Wulf: Is there anything else that needs mentioning, or this is meeting over?
- Malesam: Oh, I forgot to remind Captain Grimbold about the new bells we had installed. They are to be rung once Yngol starts his attack. That will tell the civilians to gather in the temple.
- Wulf: I will remind him.
- Lydia: Malesam, where did you hide Scourge? I don’t remember seeing you carrying it.
- Malesam: Under my robe.
- Lydia: Oh, that explains the bulge. I just thought you were happy to see me!
Uncontrolled laughter and Malesam’s attempt at a dignified exit, with a giggling Cerys in tow, signalled the end of the meeting.
Lydia said, “I will return to the wall. It is my squad’s turn to stand on the battlements and look formidable.”
Olette said, “And I had better check on Meeko. He has been chasing the local children till they fall over, giggling, then licks them all over. They need a break and probably proper baths.”
I put Boethia’s Browneye in my gem bag. I can hang Scourge from my belt as it is exceptionally light and not too cumbersome.
Soon, only Rigmor and I remained in the dining room.
“Rigmor, that is another step in our cunning plan done. We have arrived in one piece and survived a meeting without me losing my temper!”
“They wanted you to lead them, Wulf. They let you have the head of the table for that reason.”
“Yes, I know, and the gesture humbled me. But you did very well, and I saw the Rigmor of old presented to the doubters. There is no denying that you are a fine leader, my beloved.”
“Pfft, yeah right, I don’t know what came over me.”
“What came over you? Nothing came over you. That was you in your natural form!”
Rigmor stood then walked over to the fireplace. She stared at her portrait, the one that I hate. I joined her.
Rigmor sounded worried as she said, “Remember how I have said in the past that you can’t run away from your destiny?”
“And I have told you in the past that I do not believe in destiny.”
“Yeah, well, I said you have to face it head-on and don’t let it control you.”
“That is doing what I say. You use your free will and just don’t accept something because it is supposed to be destiny.”
“Yes, destiny and prophecy are just possible outcomes. I do listen to you, my dear Guardian. I just want this to be over.”
“We will work towards that desire one step at a time.”
“At least there were no questions about our relationship. I thought Sigunn might have given me a hard time.”
“She might when nobody else is around. But only out of concern for the daughter you have corrupted.”
“Oh, the molestations aboard Bostin and in Rielle were my doing?”
“Hehe. They were totally your fault!”
“I am so proud of you.”
“Well, I am trying. It’s not easy.”
“At least I am here to help, unlike the last three years.”
“Thank you, and I love you.”
“And I love you.”
“Hey, wanna go grab a beer? We might not get another chance. Have you visited the Tap &Tack yet?”
“Yeah, I helped poor Colin glue together the furniture you smashed. Anyway, aren’t you barred from there?”
“Hahaha! The Countess of Bruma does not get barred, okay.”
“The Thane of Whiterun does not get barred, okay. Oh, wait, yes, he does when he is with the Countess of Bruma!”
“Come on, after all this recent crap, I need a stiff drink. Plus, there are some things I want to get off my chest.”
“We will visit Captain Grimbold on the way.”
As we headed for the exit, I saw Iona and Urdr on guard duty.
“Iona, just like being a guardsman again!”
“Yeah, but I am handling the tedium a lot better than Urdr.”
I turned to Urdr.
“Urdr, you are a mage. You should be contemplating the mysteries of the universe and not getting bored!”
“I have contemplated throwing Fireballs at some of the people Lady Sigunn has to deal with.”
The Sentinels were visible all over Bruma. They are not significant in numbers, but they exude confidence that can only help morale.
Meeko was, as expected, in the centre of town where the most people could pat the cute little, well huge, doggy.
“It is good to see you, my furry friend.”
“How would you like to go on a long walk with Rigmor, me, and Sorella?”
“Okay, it’s a deal. We could do with your nose and ears protecting us.”
“Yes, and we like your company as well.”
Rigmor asked, “Do you really understand what Meeko says?”
“Of course, doesn’t everybody?”
We climbed the battlements, and I noticed Celestine was on watch.
Ghorbash said, “It is good to see you, Wulf. When are these guys going to grow some balls and attack?”
“I think if the mages stop destroying their toys, they will attack.”
Celestine said, “I am having a break from transporting Casius and his lot. J’zargo is doing it with Inigo along for the ride at the moment.”
“Is Quintus with us?”
“Yes, he has an encampment on this side of the border, not far from Table Mountain. He will help to deal with that, even though it is on the Hammerfell side, but will think about marching down the Orange Road.”
I approached Captain Grimbold.
“Captain Grimbold, what is the situation?”
“Sir, I have placed the garrison on high alert and placed sentries inside and outside both gates. Most of our troops are spread out on the east wall. If they are going to attack, they will have to try and breach the gate here.”
“We disposed of a patrol that the Countess believes was patrolling the Applewatch Road.”
‘They are part of the blockage that keeps out of range of our archers. The north and west side is impassable for them as we can pick them off from the walls. They have cut us off from the rest of Cyrodiil and Skyrim.”
“But they didn’t take into account our mages or airship. I jokingly said to the Countess that those manning the walls should eat their meals in the open.”
“That would be fun, Sir. While they eat rations, the supposed people cut off from the world eat fine dining in full view. That is guaranteed to make them question the wisdom of their boy general.”
“He has no field experience and is but a common bandit. How many men are under his command?”
“Count Bruce de Medalius has sent most of his garrison plus two cohorts of New Imperial Legionnaires.”
“That is not enough soldiers to take Bruma.”
“No, Sir, it is not. It seems the Count is wary of committing too many men till our measure has been taken.”
“The garrison soldiers will be, like yourself, mostly retired Imperial Legionnaires. They are guaranteed to be better and more disciplined fighters than The New Imperials.”
“Yes, Sir, that is why I have told our archers and mages to kill them first.”
“Has Ser Robere tested our defences?”
“Well, I think Ser Robere would have difficulty finding volunteers to try again. You see, with the first few incursions, they thought they were out of bow range. However, they were well within Fireball range. Terrible screams they were, Sir.”
“This fog is rolling in, and we have not destroyed their trebuchets. Therefore, I would be on heightened alert.”
“I agree, Sir. These are ideal conditions for testing our mettle, as it were.”
“Oh, and Advisor Malesam asked me to remind you about the bells.”
“Yes, Sir. The first sign of Jarl Yngol Strong-Arms’ attack, we will ring the bells signalling not only the mustering of our forces but the evacuation of citizens into the temple.”
“Apart from The Sentinels, who else have you added to Bruma’s garrison?”
“The Sentinels are amazing, Sir. And they have been free with their time and training the Bruma guards on the fine art of killing. All while smiling and jovial in their outlook!”
“They have faced every kind of foe you could imagine, Captain Grimbold.”
“All fighting males and single females of age have been called to arms. The females have been incorporated into the Shieldmaidens. The males, especially the more senior of age, have mostly been made pikemen and spearmen. They will be very effective at skewering any of the rabble that manages to reach the battlements.”
“Is there anybody else you would like to defend Bruma?”
“There are a couple of slackers in the Tap&Tack who have told me to fornicate off. They are mercenaries who think they should be paid to protect their home. I haven’t heard from The Fighter’s Guild, who are small in numbers but large in age and experience. Those retired veterans would invariably boost morale with their presence, and they are all younger than me, Sir.”
“The Countess and I shall visit The Fighter’s Guild and perhaps advise the mercenaries.”
“Speak to Ser Gregor at the guild. He has been asking about you and The Sentinels.”
“And thank you, Captain Grimbold, for taking young Olette under your wings.”
“She is keen to learn and is incredibly inciteful. Her stories of life on the streets are horrific!”
I gave Grimbold a quick salute, which he returned with a smile and a straight back.
Rigmor seemed very subdued on our walk to The Fighters Guild. It was like the return to Bruma was slowly undoing the confidence she gained on our deliberately slow voyage back.
We entered the Guild, and so began a lengthy discussion.
- Ser Gregor: Countess, it’s an honour to receive you here at the Guild. Please, let me introduce myself. I am Ser Gregor and spokesperson for the knights in residence here. How can we be of service?”
- Rigmor: Well met, Ser Gregor. As you know, our city is under siege. The Dragonborn and I are here to ask you, all of you, for your help in the battle that is to come.
- Ser Gregor: As you know, the Guild is a refuge for homeless veterans and Lordless wanderers nowadays. Some of us here consider ourselves ‘retired’ and, although well mastered in the art of combat, might be a little rusty and wary of running headlong into battle, especially against such odds.
- Tish: I like those odds.
- Ser Gregor: Thank you, Tish.
- Wulf: Many veterans of more advanced age are already armed and prepared to fight beside Milady Rigmor’s side. You must have heard of her heroic deeds during the Battle for Whiterun. She led the famous ‘Sons of Talos’ that day, and I have never seen a more glorious sight than your Countess sitting upright astride Ben, her most valiant steed. The enemies’ balls shrivelled up and tried to hide when their owners saw their death approaching in the form of a Warmaiden of old. We defeated a force many times our number that day, Ser Gregor. In the upcoming battle, the odds are smaller. We also have help arriving who will smash into their flank and make the milk drinkers cry for their mothers.
- Ser Gregor: So, a simultaneous strike. The flank is attacked, and we sally forth?
- Wulf: That is the plan, and I do not expect those bandits in fancy dress will be much of a challenge to Yngol Storm-Blade and his veterans.
- Ser Gregor: Aha! I know of this man. He is a formidable field commander.
- Wulf: Do you think these vermin are a match for the man who defeated Alduin in the hallowed grounds of Sovngarde itself? Who has traversed Oblivion on many occasions and faced down gods as close as you are now?
- Ser Gregor: Well, no, now you come to mention it.
- Wulf: Even if you only buffed your armour, shined your boots and stood growling, you would give the people hope.
- Ser Gregor: Hope?
Rigmor addressed all the guild members and once again showed her ability to lead and guide her people.
- Rigmor: The citizens, all none combatants and children, will be sheltered in the Cathedral once the bells toll. That is the signal that Yngol has arrived and begun his attack. We hope the Cathederal will give our people sanctuary and safety during the battle. We also pray to The Divines that the enemy does not fire their trebuchets on all gathered there.
- Wulf: Milady, remember the slaughter they inflicted upon the previous Count of Leyawiin and his people? The enemy now lives in the homes of the innocent dead and within the city that they stole like the common, murderous bandits they are. Unarmed men, women and children were killed in such numbers that The Divines wept!
- Rigmor: Yes, Dragonborn, they must one day atone for that travesty. Ser Gregor, the mustering point will be at the main gate.
- Ser Gregor: We are still standing, and that is thoughtless of me. Would you please join us at our table and allow us to introduce ourselves? Help yourselves to refreshment. We brew our wine, so please try some.
As Rigmor and I sat at the table, I looked her way, and she rolled her eyes at me. I don’t think I overdid it. Well, maybe a little, but it was fun.
Ser Gregor said, “I am from the West Weald initially. My father owned one of the most extensive vineyards South of Skingrad, while his father before him was one of the last Knights of The Nine.
I entered the service of the Count of Chorrol after Lady Anna of Skingrad married Chorrol’s eldest son. When Ariel Sethius marched his army towards the Imperial City after the sacking of Leyawiin, Skingrad and Chorrol marched down the Green Road to join with Bravil’s forces waiting for Sethius at Fort Nomore. It was a brilliant strategic position as we also held the bridge on the west side of the Niben Bay to the Citadel. Sethius made camp below us, and for two days, there was a stalemate, and we prepared for a decisive battle. The following day, they were gone. Sethius had taken his army into Elsweyr and went around us. By the time we had marched back to Bravil, the Imperial City was lost. Skingrad and Bravil wanted to push onwards, but Chorrol abstained. He wanted to protect his wealth and assets, and together with Cheydinhal, they struck a deal with Sethius. I could not continue in his service as it was a matter of honour. I had heard that Bruma was still holding out and had declared itself a free city. So, I made my way here. Sadly, the old Guild had long been boarded up. After an audience with Lady Sigunn, she allowed me to reopen the Guild as a hostel, or ‘free house’ for veterans and Lordless Knights. Anyway, enough about me, let me introduce you to the members.”
I silently wished that the rest of them had shorter stories.
Ser Gregor said, “The man to my left is Ser Bercilak of the Green.”
Ser Bercilak said, “Grrr!”
I replied, “Grrr…grrr…grrr.”
He replied, “Grrr…grrr.”
“I couldn’t agree more, Ser Bercilak.”
Ser Gregor looked concerned as he said, “Ahem…Ser Amon of Rihad.”
Ser Amon was reasonably old for an Alik’r warrior. They tend to die young in battle but usually with many enemy corpses surrounding them.
He said, “I am Amon Vynar, Knight and former servant of the Lord of Rihad who died during the ‘March of Thirst’ after the city fell to Arannelya. I spent many years wandering the land, earning coins for my services. I finally retired here in Bruma as it would be dishonourable for me to return home.”
“It would be an honour to have you fight by my side, Ser Amon.”
Ser Gregor said, “And l am pleased to introduce Tish the Blade.”
Tish was wearing ancient Blade armour and carried one of their standard-issue Katana. She was an Orsimer of unknown years, and even sitting down showed the grace of a warrior. When Tish stood up, I could tell she was a formidable swordsman. Tish would scare the shit out of Ser Robere’s troops as she carved a bloody swathe through their ranks.
Tish growled, “I will fight. I was born to fight. Just point me in their direction.”
Ser Gregor stated, “Thank you, Tish, but you know the rules. All members must agree.”
“Gah! By the time you come to some agreement, the fuckers will be inside our walls already. You have my sword, Countess, for having the balls to stand and fight. It would be an honour to fight under your banner. Won’t it B, yeah, harghhh!”
Ser Bercilak replied, “Grrrr!”
“Kill B, kill!”
Ser Bercilak stood and roared, “ROARRRRR!”
He then proceeded to slaughter defenceless, inanimate objects with his two-handed hammer.
Ser Bercilak stomped off, looking for more enemy plates, fruit and cups.
Trish sat back down with a rather endearing and toothy smile on her face.
She said, “Hahaha! I fucking love that guy!”
I replied, “Ser Robere’s inanimate objects are dead. They just don’t know it yet.”
Ser Gregor said, “You’ll have our answer by tomorrow.”
I growled, “I would find it insulting not to see you on the battlefield when those less skilled or experienced are fighting for their freedom. You wouldn’t want to offend me in such a way, I can assure you.”
Rigmor and I stood then left the building.
“Wulf, what just happened in there?”
“I don’t know. A few too many knocks on the head, maybe.”
“Do you think they’ll fight?”
“Three of them, yes. I am unsure of Ser Gregor. He seems to have lost all enthusiasm for battle.”
“Well, let us go tell Captain Grimbold that we spoke to them.”
“And then, Milady, we can grab that beer or two.”
As we approached the front gate, Meeko was carrying on with growls and yips. Ghorbash yelled, “Everybody, be prepared. The enemy has moved up a single trebuchet.”
Captain Grimbold shouted, “They are going to test our mettle. Let’s make them cry for their mothers!”
I summoned all of The Sentinels. The mages came running. From somewhere, Olette made an appearance.
Before I could tell her to get inside, the gates were smashed open by a lucky shot. Trebuchets are not so easily aimed.
I ran ahead and could see Leyawiin guards to the left of the entrance.
As I approached them, a panicked horse ran in front of me and was felled by arrows meant for me.
Arrows with a fire dweomer were already hitting the Leyawiin guards when I killed them with Unrelenting Force.
A cheer came from the Bruma defenders. The legendary Dragonborn was decimating the enemy.
As I ran to take care of the trebuchet, I could hear Lydia telling some of The Sentinels to take care of approaching New Imperials.
The troops manning the trebuchet used it as cover from Unrelenting Force.
That tactic only prolonged their lives for a few seconds.
I ran back to the entrance and witnessed a couple of squads of Sentinels making short work of many New Imperials.
I stood and watched so I could assess the quality of the opposition. The New Imperials were, as I thought, not comparable to real Legionnaires at all.
A lone guard had hidden behind a wagon and finally built up enough courage to attack me. The commanding officer of the New Imperials lay dead behind me.
I growled, “Come on, die for your Count like a good man!”
I cut him down, and the fight was over.
Rigmor came over to me.
“Wulf, not a single one got anywhere near entering Bruma.”
“They are pathetic, and I hope Ser Robere is now shitting himself!”
I turned, and using the full strength of my Thu’um, addressed the enemy.
“YOU WILL ALL DIE AND LEAVE WEEPING WIDOWS AND CHILDREN WONDERING WHY. I WILL TELL THEM THAT YOU DIED FOR THE SELFISH AMBITIONS OF THAT PRETEND NOBLE, SER ROBERE. I AM SURE THEY WILL BE CONSOLED BY THAT SAD FACT!”
I walked through the gate and saw Olette on a stairway.
I approached her, and she looked worried.
“Olette, did you draw blood?”
“I killed a few with my bow. It was too crowded for me to get into the melees.”
“I am proud of your courage and willingness to help, but I mourn the loss of Little Dartwing.”
“She is still inside me, Cap’n. But she wants to fight for all the other Little Dartwing.”
“What about being a bard?”
“I was waiting for your return so we can do that together.”
“Okay, Olette, if I survive all of this, we shall front up to The Bards College as a team. Oh, a trio, as Inigo also wishes to join.”
“So, you will let me fight?”
“Just be aware that brute strength can overcome your skills. Fight with your brains as well as swords and bow.”
“I will still be a statue with Cap’n Grimbold, but I will kill any enemy that enters Rigmor’s city!”
I managed a smile for Olette, but it was fake. There is something fundamentally wrong with a world where children like her have to kill.
I climbed down the stairs and found Captain Grimbold.
“Captain Grimbold, the garrison and volunteers fought bravely. Tell them Countess Rigmor and General Wulf are pleased.”
“Will do. We gave them a thrashing, eh, Sir?”
“Yes, and perhaps many of Ser Robere’s troops may desert if they are wise. What is the situation?”
“The gate is damaged but nothing we can’t fix. A couple of dead, but they were victims of the initial catapult attack on the gate. I don’t think we even got a scratch in the melees. Thank the gods we managed to repel their attack.”
“It was not gods that made this victory. Rather, it was skill and determination driven by a love of home and fellow citizens.”
“Very true that is, Sir.”
“The enemy did as we predicted. As soon as we let them have their trebuchets, they attacked. It was as if Ser Robere had read a book on tactics and thought he had to follow recommendations as if they were essential steps. His force was exactly the size such books would recommend to test an enemy’s defences.”
“He is a child moving around toy soldiers on a carpet in front of a comfy fire, Sir.”
“Clean up the mess, fix the gate and inform Lady Sigunn that all is well.”
“One of The Sentinels already ran to tell her that, Sir.”
I saluted Captain Grimbold, and he returned a perfect and crisp one in return.
As I approached Rigmor and Tish, I heard Captain Grimbold in full Sargent Major role, “Okay, look lively and put out that fire, reinforce the barricade and get that gate fixed. Move it!”
Rigmor said, “Tish, thank you for helping us out. It looks like you enjoyed the fighting.”
“You bet girly! I haven’t had so much fun since a guy broke a bottle over B’s head in a bar fight north of the border.”
Rigmor asked, “What the hell happened?”
“Me and B had been dungeon crawling, looking for Dwemer treasure. Man, we could hardly carry it all. So, we sold most of it in Whiterun and headed for the Bannered Mare. We thought it would be safe seein’ Whiterun is full of sweets. A local told me about an incident where the Dragonborn and his lady friend got kicked out of the pub after threatening to shove the bard’s lute up his chute. The thing was, the Dragonborn was the Thane. Some poor guardsman almost pissed himself after telling them to scram and then realising who he spoke to. We had a good laugh, and then B was so shit faced he dropped his sack of gold on the floor. Its side split and some coins spilt out. As he bent down to gather his gold, some arsehole hit him over the head with a heavy wine bottle. Man…boy oh boy!”
Rigmor gasped, “You didn’t kill them all?”
“Don’t get me wrong. B’s a crazy fuck, but kill, no. Let’s just say we won’t be going back there anytime soon.”
Rigmor said, “I feel better about the upcoming battle.”
“We’re gonna take the vote later, but hey, you didn’t do too bad yourself. If we do win, it’ll be because of this guy, hey Dragonborn?”
Tish looked my way.
I replied, “We will win because we are fighting for home, friends and family. Plus, the enemy is weak as piss.”
Rigmor said, “Tish, Wulf and I are gonna grab a beer. Wanna join us?”
“Agh, I can’t. I gotta go take care of B. But for sure, another time.”
I said, “Tish, I would love to hear about your time with The Blades.”
“You might not like what you hear, but it’s a deal.”
As Tish wandered off, I looked at Rigmor, and melancholy stared straight back.
With some hope of igniting some enthusiasm, I said brightly, “Come on, Princess, I could murder a beer right now!”
In pure monotone, Rigmor replied, “Okay, let’s go.”
We entered the Tap&Tack.
Colin greeted Rigmor, “Milady, over here.”
“Hey Colin, don’t worry, I’m not here to cause any trouble.
Colin said, “We heard all about the trial.”
He then said to me, “I see you have found Rigmor and brought her home, friend.”
Rigmor turned to me and replied, “This is the… er, my Guardian… my knight in shining armour.”
Colin laughed, then said, “His friends are not quiet after a few ales. He is Wulf, your Dragonborn and your sweetheart. Even without overhearing it, I can see it in your eyes.”
I remarked, “That is a nice shade of red, Rigmor.”
Colin laughed once more, then declared, “Well, this is a cause for celebration. Go sit down, and I’ll bring some drinks over on the house.”
Rigmor replied, “Thanks, Colin. Come, Dragonbum, let’s sit over there.”
“I’ll be there in a minute. I have some more recruiting to do.”
I approached a Dunmer wearing leather armour and carrying a bow.
“I am Wulf, the General in charge of Bruma’s defence. What is your name?”
“Not that it is any of your business, but I am Erremir Lattelin.”
“Captain Grimbold informed me you refuse to fight for Bruma.”
“It is simply business, General. Hand over the coin, and I will fight.”
“How about this. I see you lining up with the others when Bruma is attacked, or I break your arms and legs and let everybody know what a coward you are. That wouldn’t be good for you or your business.”
“Alright, alright. I will fight, but it better not get around that I did it for free!”
I approached an Orsimer sitting at the bar.
He said, “My name is Tulgan, and I heard what you said to Erremir. I will fight because, to tell the truth, I was feeling a bit guilty seeing all those invalids take up arms.”
I joined Rigmor, and as I sat, Colin plonked two meads on the table.
“Here you go, on me.”
As Colin wandered back to his bar, I looked at Rigmor. She seemed cheerful enough.
“Rigmor, you mentioned you wanted to get ‘some things’ off your chest?”
“Yanno, there has to be another way.”
“Another way to do what?”
“All this prophecy crap! The ‘Chosen Queen of Tamriel’. I mean, come on, Dragonborn, I’m not even Imperial. Both my parents were full-blooded Nord’s. Do you think the nobility would even consider it?”
“Reman Cyrodiil was supposed to have been fathered by King Hrol, who fucked a hole in the side of a hill thinking it was my mother! There has been a Tsaesci Emperor! There has been a Minotaur Emperor! There have been Reachmen Emperors. By the laws of the land, you are entitled to be Empress. If prophecy wants to call it ‘Queen’, then so what? The Nobility have no say Rigmor. It is not an elected position.”
“Now we face insurmountable odds… again.”
“What did we do against those ‘insurmountable odds’ last time? We routed them and slaughtered them! Nothing is insurmountable about what we face here. If we win the battle of Bruma against Ser Robere, we have taken the head off the serpent.”
“But this isn’t a serpent. It’s a monster, born of a monster. Even if we can defeat Morag, there’s still Sethius and his Leyawiin backed army. Six legion’s, Dragonborn, not forgetting Blackwell’s grip on the nobility. They fear him and not without good reason.”
“Morag is no monster. She is a second-rate vampire! How do you think she stacks up against Alduin, Miraak, The False King of the Ayleid, The Underking and many others? She is nothing compared to the two most powerful Vampires that have ever existed that I faced and defeated. She is the weakest ‘monster’ I have had to face Rigmor.”
I took a breath then continued, “Sethius is a bandit king who could only muster two hundred men until Morag joined him. He has not been making the decisions and has no council to advise him once we kill Morag. He will flounder like a fish out of water.
As for the Six Legions. You saw how pathetic the New Empire troops were earlier. They are bandits of no higher fighting or military ability than the common thugs they are. They have no outstanding military leadership. We have some of the finest fighting men in the Imperial Army led by Casius and Quintus. Do you forget your Father’s legacy? He routed the enemy on many occasions when outnumbered by similar odds and against seasoned and well-trained Dominion troops.
You give Blackwell way too much credit. He could do nothing when he thought we had allied with Leyawiin. He could have done nothing if you had refused to sign the Noble Decree. He is ruthless and may get away with occasional breaches of the law, but he is just one man constrained by the laws of the land to a great extent.”
“Well, remind me not to run my sword through his guts because if I ever get a chance….”
“Blackwell is not the real enemy here, and he is rather fond of you. You are the legitimate heir to the throne, and he knows it. If Sethius had an ‘accident’, Blackwell might suggest you as Empress to The Elder Council. Of that, I have no doubt.”
“Blackwell likes me? Yeah, right.”
“He could be a powerful friend if you ever….”
“Uhuh! Not gonna happen. I know what you are suggesting. I could never be that person… I… just don’t have what it takes.”
“We don’t even know what ‘The Chosen Queen’ is supposed to be. But if it means Empress, then you are more than capable of being that. You compromise to secure the welfare of normal citizens, such as giving up the Free City status of Bruma, for instance. You have the most important attribute of any leader, which is unlimited empathy for all people.”
“No. The Gods are just going to have to come up with Plan B.”
“What if there is no Plan B? What if you are pivotal to obtaining thousands of years of peace and prosperity? Would you enjoy your quiet life knowing the wars, famine and misery in the news sheets could have been avoided?”
“That is not fair, Wulf. I only want to do what’s right for Cyrodiil. Kill that monster because Sethius is not the problem here. He is just another pawn, another fool in the big scheme of things. I’m quite happy to do a deal if the opportunity arises so we can all just go back to normal.”
“So, now you are saying you can be that person and negotiate with the detestable!
What then if the Elder Council declared Sethius unfit to rule and demanded he vacates the Ruby Throne? I have no idea what normal is going to be. Do you?
If you think Sethius is under some spell, who else are you going to pardon? Those troops who killed and raped children at the border post? The ones who slaughtered half the population of Leyawiin? The Captain and crew of the Imperial Naval festival delivering Tamriel citizens to the Akaviri for dinner? The scum who wanted to marry you just to get his hands on Bruma and then murder you?”
“Maybe he is under her spell, like all of them. I know Bobby. He is not a bad person… not really.”
“Oh, bullshit, Rigmor! You know as well as I that Morag can’t control a single person, never mind all those I mentioned. Ser Robere is rotten to the core and of his own free will!”
“How do you know? You have only been here five minutes! I have known Bobby for over a year now. He has always shown me respect and listened to my ramblings with a good heart and kindness. No, I am sure that bitch made it sound worse than it is.”
“I heard it from Ser Robere’s very mouth, Rigmor, and Grom warned me.
Why was the aborted meeting to sign the Noble Decree the first time you ever met his father? I heard his father’s thoughts about you. To him, you are common Nord stock and way below the nobility Robere should be aiming to marry.
Did Robere ever tell you how many people he robbed, raped and killed for the decade or so he was a common bandit? Or did he not participate in what the other thousands of bandits around him were doing?
Did Ser Robere help slaughter the Count and family and half the population of the place he now calls home?
He led me into a trap. He spoke to Morag so I could hear their plan as he thought I could not rescue you. They were going to force you to marry him. Who could have stopped them out at Roscrea if the Emperor signed the papers and made it official? Morag would kill you after the marriage so Robere, the poor widower, could marry somebody more suitable. He would have killed your mother and your advisors or just kicked them into the gutter.
You knew there was something strange about him. That is why you never took him to your childhood places.
I have said all of this before, yet now you doubt my word.”
“What exactly did he say about me?”
“Rigmor, you don’t need the details. Some things are better left unsaid.”
“Wulf, tell me! Tell me what he said!”
“I can’t. You do not need to hear the foulness spoken with all the spite and hatred Ser Robere could muster. It will not change the facts, but it will hurt you. No, Rigmor, no. Just go on thinking he is under Morag’s control if that is how you can deal with this. Please!”
“Dragonborn, tell me what he said!”
“It seems you will not move on until I do. So, Rigmor, look at my face. If you turn away, I will stop and never start again. I will keep my tone neutral, and I will not inject the venom into my voice that he used. I ask for the last time, is this what you want?”
“Then here are his exact words,
‘I’m sorry, Guardian, I truly am, but it’s nothing personal. I hope you can appreciate that? You gotta look out for number one, am I right? As you figured out, I only want Bruma County, nothing more. Rigmor means nothing to me, and she never has. She gets right up my nose and never shuts up. The amount of shit I had to listen to! She would just go on and on and on. Did she ever do that with you? Yes, of course, I am sure she did.’
I’ll bet you felt the same as me. She would ramble on and on, and I would smile and feign interest. When all I really wanted to do was just punch her in the fucking mouth! She always was a whiny little cunt. I’m sure you’ll agree.’”
Tears rolled down my cheeks. Rigmor looked pale, then she abruptly stood and walked away.
I followed with a heavy heart.
“Oh, the Gods, no! I can’t believe he would say that. Why would he say that?”
“Come on, Rigmor, you figured out all by yourself he was only after Bruma. He was playing the game, and you know people die because of it. They think it is okay because it is so much more civilised than stabbing somebody in the stomach with your sword. You were expendable. Just like Kintyra, you were to be another victim of their civilised game.”
The hurt on Rigmor’s face tore at my heart.
“Why would you even tell me that?”
“I want to protect you. I can’t do that if you don’t face the harsh reality of who the enemy is and what they are capable of. You demanded to know and gave me no choice!
“I thought of all people you would have some moral integrity.”
“Don’t you dare call into question my morality! And I thought you, of all people, would be able to recognise a raping, killing, lowlife bandit. After all, you have killed hundreds just like Bobby when fighting by my side!”
“You know what, Dragonborn… didn’t anybody ever tell you some things are better left unsaid? You of all people should know that.”
“I don’t understand what had happened to all the love we have discovered and shared when travelling together. Are the long and beautiful discussions we had about our shared dreams to be forgotten because you can’t face the reality of who Ser Robere is? Why are you insisting on this delusion, Rigmor?”
“Because I know Bobby would never say that!”
“If you are scared or worried or confused or just angry, shout at me. Scream at me. Hit me. Get it out of your system. But you have to face the facts.
I am so sorry, Rigmor, but the reality is what I said. The reality is just outside your walls with an army to knock down your gates and slaughter your soldiers and civilians who cross their path. Ser Robere has trebuchets, and you don’t aim them at specific targets. He will order rocks or piles of wood covered in burning oil to be loaded in them. He will order his soldiers to fling the rocks and burning wood high into the air and over your walls to land randomly on houses, shops and people. If he is lucky, he will hit the Cathedral where all your non-combatants are hiding and screaming with terror and huddling over the equally terrified children. The roof will come crashing down, and fire will engulf the innocent, and they will all say as they die, ‘It couldn’t have been Bobby. Our Countess says he is a nice guy!’
Prophecy and the plans of the Gods mean nothing right now, Rigmor, Countess of Bruma. Your feelings about Ser Robere must be put in the background and dealt with later. He is the enemy, and your citizens are relying on you.”
“I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to feel! I don’t even know if you will always be around. Sometimes I’m so scared to love you. I’m so scared that I am going to lose you. I don’t know what to think anymore. All I know right now is I have to endure all this… this fucking shit that’s been thrust upon me. I don’t think I can take it anymore. I am at a breaking point, Wulf. I don’t have what it takes!”
“Remember how I found you through time and across planes. Remember our quiet and our dreams. Look into my eyes, Rigmor, and tell me if I would ever leave you.”
“Aaaah! I’m sorry.”
“Rigmor, you have nothing to say sorry for. We have worked through such doubts before. It is understandable, and you never have to save sorry to me ever. Understand?”
“Rigmor, I am here for you, and I am not going away even if you throw things at me and say, ‘Shoo!’ Take a seat, and I will get us some cold beer since the others are warm by now.
I walked up to the bar and said, “Hey, Colin.”
“Is everything alright? Is Milady Rigmor unwell?”
“You have known her since she was a little girl, Colin. Rigmor wants to be that happy again, but she has to endure so much it is a struggle. She will pull through, though, for the people she loves. She is their Countess.”
“I hope so, Wulf.”
“Could you please bring us over a couple of cold beers?”
“Coming right up.”
As I approached the table, I could see Rigmor’s sadness.
I sat and suggested, “Maybe a cold drink will make you feel better? Colin will bring them over soon.”
Rigmor had turned her head to face the wall.
Rigmor replied, “I don’t feel like it.”
Colin placed the two cold drinks on the table, then said, “Here ya go! Bottoms up, haha…oh…uh.”
Colin walked away, worried for the woman he has known since she was a little girl.
“Rigmor, you are behaving much like that time at your childhood den. The pressure is getting to you, Rigmor, and I am worried for you.”
“Yeah… Story of my fucking life, not that I have any say in it.”
“But you do, Rigmor. You accomplish what you want within the boundaries of expectations thrust upon you. We discussed this several times during our travels, and you were so enthusiastic about the possibilities. We took our time returning here, but it seems the confident, happy and determined Rigmor seems to have vanished once we left those ruins.”
“What? What do you want me to say? That I don’t already know that I’m unstable? Bobby had it right, and I’m hard work. Well, carrying the fate of the world on your shoulders is hard work.”
“You don’t even know if the fate of the world is your burden! As I have said several times, you don’t even know what being ‘The Chosen Queen’ means or entails!
As for carrying the fate of the world on your shoulder…Since I awoke in that carriage, I have been doing it twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week! I know very well what you are feeling, so let me help you with your burden.”
“It is just pity? You pity me, and that is why you stay around.”
“I believe we had this discussion a few minutes ago. Do you want to go through the whole ‘Stare into my eyes’ routine again?
“You say you do, but really, you do not know what it is like.”
“Then please tell me, Rigmor. Let me know what it is like so that I can help you.”
“Like you even care?”
“You know what, my beloved, I do pity you. I pity you for the burden bestowed on you. I certainly wouldn’t care for it.
And I’m sorry for you! I am sorry your childhood was ripped apart and for the cruelty that you’ve suffered.”
Rigmor replied with a petulant, “Yeah, right.”
“Rigmor, I am sorry they scarred you and that you have to lie on your side when sleeping.
I am sorry that you will never lead a normal life.”
“I am desperately sorry for all the times I say I love you only to have my words enter one ear and exit the other.”
“Do I even care?”
“No, didn’t mean it….”
My Dovah took control, but it was different. The anger was not directed at an individual but the whole world. I held my head and groaned.
Rigmor gasped and said, “Your eyes, they are yellow!”
“I would carry your burdens and your scars in a heartbeat if I could, without even a second thought…gladly.
I would soak up your pain…and your rage, your darkest moments, and your tears as a sponge does to water.”
Rigmor looked so sad.
My Dovah could not be stopped.
“And I will cleave flesh and bone and rend asunder all who would harm you. And I will turn rivers red with their blood!
Your burdens are now my burdens. Your scars are now my scars. Your tears are my tears, and your rage is now my rage.
And they shall come to know your pain. And they shall come to know your rage. Your suffering will become their suffering!”
Rigmor pleaded, “Wulf, I’m so sorry… forgive me.”
All remnants of my mortal self were confined to a locked room at the back of my mind.
Rigmor gasped, “Your eyes, my Dragonborn. They are black and…and….”
I used my Thu’um strong enough to rattle the Tap&Tack and its occupants.
“AND THEY SHALL COME TO KNOW YOUR NAME AND TREMBLE, BE IT GOD, DEMONS OR KINGS. THE DRAGONBORN COMES!
FOR YOU, RIGMOR RAGNARSDOTTIER, ARE MY LOVE, MY SOUL-MATE, MY REASON FOR LIVING!
I, WULF SEPTIM, SWEAR THIS SACRED OATH ON THE NINE!”
Rigmor whispered, “What have I done to you?”
“You have done nothing to me, Rigmor. This is how it has always been, but you needed me to spell it out for you. Come, let me take you home.”
We left the Tap&Tack, which was utterly silent. Not a word was said as we walked to Rigmor’s house.
As soon as we entered, Rigmor rushed downstairs.
Rigmor wept, and I left her house.
I summoned Anahbi and Ashni and ordered them to guard Rigmor’s house. I had no idea what my eye’s looked like, but even the sanguine Khajiit looked shocked. They did not question me.
I Shouted Dragon Aspect then made my way to the front gate.
I then cast Invisibility and headed to the enemy.
I caught them lined up and pretending to be real soldiers while changing the guard.
I cast Mayhem, which is a spell I once swore I would never use against other mortals.
The power of my Magicka knocked them all flying, instantly killing many. The ones who survived drew their weapon and attacked the closet person. I used night-vision so that I could enjoy the carnage.
My Dovah laughed as he imagined doing this in the middle of thousands of enemies.
A platoon of New Imperials not under the spell arrived to stop what they thought was a brawl. They soon found themselves battling their comrades.
I picked one Leyawiin guard and marked him with the Stellar Extinction Shout. He glowed red to my eyes.
When I Shouted Stellar Extinction the second time, the power of the stars landed and killed all within its radius.
I saw another platoon of New Imperials approaching. I Shouted Storm Call, and random bolts of lightning struck enemies and killed them instantly.
The storm would rage for hours and kill friend or foe who entered it.
I found Ser Robere’s command tent, but he was nowhere to be seen.
On a table was a note from his father,
Here is a chance to prove yourself. With Rigmor exiled and her Guardian out of the picture, it’s up to you to take Bruma and claim the city for yourself. I have availed you of my garrison and two consorts of New Imperial Legionnaires. Make use of the catapults to place fear into the enemy while you construct the trebuchets. When completed, they will be able to strike the castle itself and force a surrender.
Make use of the city dungeon to house the fake noble squatters. We will deal with them later. Once we have consolidated our position of power, we can deal with them all. Don’t disappoint me, son.
I used a nearby quill and ink to write on the bottom, “Too late. I have already destroyed Bobby’s army. Your next, you ignorant oaf! The Dragonborn.”
I left and searched for more enemies. Several platoons of New Imperials noticed me. Random lightning killed a few as they attacked.
When they got close, Unrelenting Force killed dozens more.
Huge bolts of lightning and a few more Unrelenting Force shouts killed the rest.
Many enemies would flee from me on sight. I would laugh as lightning turned them to ashes.
I saw a couple of platoons of Leyawiin soldiers approaching. I used the Decoy Shout to create an illusion of me amongst their midst.
As they attacked the fake me, I stood back and hit the huddled mass with Chain Lightning, killing most of them instantly.
I cast Dragonskin on myself. Combined with Dragon Aspect, I was virtually invulnerable.
I drew my sword and casually walked around, killing at my pleasure. Arrow after arrow struck me and did me no harm as my skin was impenetrable.
I was laughing, and from the horrified words of my victims, I learned my eyes were black with flames in the middle. Many enemies simple crumpled in fear as I approached them.
I would lift the cowards and thrust my sword through their middle. Then I threw their corpses to the ground as I searched for others to kill.
The killing continued for just over two hours.
From the Bruma battlements, all they saw and heard was a violent thunderstorm.
I finally had enough and teleported to the basement of Silverpeak Lodge.
Something beckoned me from The Void during my teleport. I ignored it.
My Guardian General’s armour was in dire need of repair after my fun with Ser Robere’s army. I did not fancy wearing it anymore as I now represented The Divines, not The Empire.
Somehow the armour Akatosh had made for me had made its way into the basement. The sword my father had made was also there.
I changed into that armour, and it felt right. If I was going to kill for The Nine, I might as well be equipped by them!
I grabbed my present for Rigmor, Azura’s Bane, and an ancient set of Bruma Knight armour.
I changed the armour to suit Rigmor’s small frame, then placed my usual dweomer upon it.
I teleported to the front of Bruma’s Cathedral, to which I was going to pay a visit. Once again, a presence beckoned to me from The Void.
The streets were empty, except for the garrison guard, The Sentinels, and a blue Khajiit.
Inigo ran over to intercept me.
“My friend, it is good to see you!”
“You have finished transporting Casius’ men?”
“Yes, I accompanied J’zargo on the last couple of trips.”
“That is good. Now, if you will please excuse me, I have to talk to my gods.”
“Is there something wrong? You seem different.”
“Ahh, my helmet is currently opaque. Otherwise, you would not ask that question. There is nothing wrong, Inigo. I am simply doing what I was made to do.”
“Killing, in great numbers and without pity. We might have to do it again tomorrow, depending on what reinforcements arrive. Therefore, I suggest you get some rest.”
I made my way past the speechless Khajiit, who stared at me as I entered the Cathedral.
I stood before Akatosh’s Shrine.
“So, my Lord, did I do your bidding to your satisfaction? Some feedback on my prowess and killing technique would be appreciated.”
I waited a few seconds, then continued.
“No matter, I am sure you will let me know if I have done something wrong. It is a pity you did not bless me with wings, for I could kill so many more with a bit of a height advantage.”
I walked over to the Shrine of Talos and posed before it.
“Father, am I everything you wanted me to be? Should I take the throne and find a Numidium? Then I could crush entire populations from the comfort of home. Oh, well, nice to chat, but I have to go. There is more killing to do, and I must plan if it is done with maximum efficiency.”
I made my way to Rigmor’s house and dismissed Ashni and Anahbi.
They left whispering to each other, no doubt discussing the new and improved Dragonborn.
I quietly entered Rigmor’s house.
I placed Rigmor’s presents on her bed, next to her sleeping form.
I went upstairs, removed my helm, sat, and let the protesting mortal me from his prison.
Then I stared into infinity.