Sundas, 26th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 205
Rigmor and I enjoyed sitting amongst The Sentinels while breaking our fast. It was like the many times we had done similar in Silverpeak Lodge. The laughter and banter relieved the tension, and nobody would have guessed we were about to engage in a significant battle.
Rigmor returned to our tent while I attended to last-minute preparations. The troops had already gathered at the muster point.
Bostin had arrived and docked.
I entered the cabin and spoke to J’zargo, who I had placed in charge of the four College Master Mages.
“This one is pleased to see the Arch-Mage still has all his limbs and head.”
“The battle hasn’t happened yet.”
“J’zargo knows that. But the Arch-Mage always finds things to fight, even in friendly camps.”
“Just like J’zargo always finds small, magical things carelessly left unattended.”
“Yes, this one is a good friend to all, keeping such things safe from thieves.”
“So, do you know what to do during the battle?”
“You will get the large blue Orsimer to carry a beacon. When you have turned the enemy into piles of offal and ash, the Arch-Mage will set the beacon and summon Bostin. We shall arrive on foot and wait for the injured and young Sorella to be placed aboard. Then this one will fly Bostin to here and set course for Falkreath. We shall spend the waiting two hours attending to any injured and afflicted.”
“Good. After delivering Sorella to Falkreath, ask Casius what he wants to do. He and his marines may want to help defend Bruma.”
“This one advises that Bruma needs more help, Arch-Mage. Cheydinhal forces have joined with Leyawiin’s. Yngol has had to retreat into the city. The enemy has built longer-range trebuchets and catapults. The Mages have to travel slowly and far from the city to destroy them. J’zargo is no coward, but it may be too hazardous soon as the enemy has learnt how to deal with invisible pests.”
“I will ask one or two dragons to hang around and take care of them. I don’t want dragons to attack masses of troops, but after a few get roasted by Dragonfire, the enemy will soon learn to run when they swoop on the catapults and trebuchets.”
“This one thinks that is an excellent idea. The walls of Bruma can withstand many times the enemy attacking. However, the random rocks and piles of burning things landing in the city are doing damage and risk killing the innocent.”
“Anything else before I leave for battle?”
“Oh, yes, Arch-Mage. Lord Chancellor Blackwell has asked to borrow Bostin.”
“Well, we shall still crew it. Blackwell sent a messenger to Lady Sigunn asking to allow a parley with that one, Arch-Mage and Rigmor. Lady Sigunn, Freathof and Malesam said we must trust Blackwell.”
“Yes, it would be under the rules of Truce and Parley that he boarded Bostin with however many men he deems necessary.”
“This one has the details of where to pick up Blackwell and where to place him nearby. That one will walk to this compound alone for the meeting.”
“You have my permission to transport Blackwell and his party. However, this will not be mentioned to anybody in this compound, or I shall have a new Khajiit rug adorning my cabin.”
“This one understands. For the safety of Blackwell, quiet is needed.”
“This one has heard you might have to fight with Boethra against that god for which Khajiit have no name.”
“Yes. If this happens, look out for any small magical objects they may drop during the fight. This one would be happy to protect such things from thieves until asked to return them.”
“I think I will be too busy staying alive to do that.”
“Pity, such opportunities are not often happening.”
“How about if I give you Boethra’s Browneye after I have finished with it?”
‘Even J’zargo can resist such a thing!”
I made my way outside and summoned Silah, who, thank goodness, appeared in Argonian form.
After I dragged her away from The Sentinels and food, we talked.
“I didn’t summon you for gossip and bacon.”
“Don’t ask about your Father and whatshisname. I am not allowed to tell you anything.”
“I don’t want to talk about assclown, so relax.”
“That is what Rigmor named him.”
“So, why am I here then. You always go off-topic every time!”
“You haven’t given me a chance to get on topic.”
“You just wasted a chance by complaining about not getting a chance.”
“I should have summoned Durnehviir or Odahviing. The conversation would have been over by now.”
“Don’t you want to know how it went?”
“The mating flight with Durnehviir. It is amazing how eager one is after being in the Soul Cairn for thousands of years with no Jills to help with the urge.”
“I am just about to go into battle and maybe have to fight a god! So, no, I am not interested in how you and Durnehviir got on with knocking boots.”
“Dragons do not wear boots.”
“Or much else when in Argonian form.”
“The way that officer is staring, he doesn’t mind my outfit.”
“Quintus? He has probably read The Lusty Argonian Maid and is wondering what his chances are.”
“Zero unless he can fly thousands of feet in the air. Even then, he wouldn’t have the right-sized equipment.”
“Can we PLEASE get on the topic?”
“It was quite good, by the way. Thanks for asking.”
“Great, I shall now struggle to rip that unwanted image out of my head.”
“On topic, remember!”
“Okay, you know I don’t want Dov involved in the war.”
“Yes, and I agree with your reasons.”
“However, there is something a couple of you could do, with, I hope, minimal killing involved. I want you and one or two other dragons to help defend Bruma. You are to destroy all enemy trebuchets and catapults. Hopefully, after one or two go up in flames, the enemy will flee when they see you coming. Give them a chance to flee.”
“But don’t hesitate to destroy the trebuchets and catapults if they insist on staying nearby.”
“Yes, that is it.”
“Okay, Wulf, we will do a warning flyover and wait a few seconds before destroying the targets. We will not attack the barricades or clumps of soldiers. I understand what you want, so don’t fret!”
“Feel free to taunt the enemy.”
“I will leave you to talk to The Sentinels for a few minutes, but please, get to Bruma and help them soon.”
I walked over to Quintus.
“Wulf, who is the lovely Argonian.”
“Her name is Silah, and she is a huge dragon.”
“I have asked her to gather another couple of dragons. They will head for Bruma, and their role is to destroy the trebuchets and catapults of the enemy, not to kill masses of troops.”
“Has the situation changed in Bruma?”
“Yes, but let us concentrate on this battle first. What is the situation here?”
“Everything is ready. Sethri has joined Casius and his unit to help protect Sorella. They await at the muster point and will follow in your wake. Count Camaeus and his men are in position. All we need to do now is join them.”
“Okay, I will have one squad of Sentinels with me. Only one squad will enter the ruins. The other squad will help guard Sorella and help load any wounded.”
“Shouldn’t you have both squads with you at the front? There are many enemies!”
“No, one will be enough. Head to the muster point. Rigmor and I will only be a couple of minutes behind.”
I walked over to Inigo.
“Okay, my furry blue friend, we get to fight together once more.”
“You have left some for us to kill?”
“I haven’t ventured to the mountain. There should be plenty of smelly bandits and other undesirables for you to slice and dice.”
“Good, because I would hate to disappoint Mr Dragonfly again.”
“Inigo, I am confident I will survive, but if I don’t, I want you to protect Rigmor. Until you have to go and get squashed by the Dream Strider, that is.”
“My friend, The Sentinels will always surround Rigmor. But none of this doom and gloom talk. Who could hurt The Dragonborn?”
“Daedric Lords, two of them, both sworn enemies of The Divines. That is who.”
“But you have faced an angry Rigmor and survived!”
“Well, we are ready to go. I will fetch Rigmor.”
I stopped to give instructions to Meeko.
“You are to help guard the camp while I am gone.”
“It is an important job, so don’t whine!”
I gave Meeko a good scratch, and he accepted his role with no more complaints.
I knew, via our rings, that Rigmor was worried, which was confirmed by the look on her face when I entered our tent.
“It’s time to go.”
“Wulf, what’s going to happen? I mean, if, when….”
“If and when what, my beloved?”
“If we do manage to defeat Morag and march into Cyrodiil and defeat Count Bruce de Medalius and the nobles who turn against us and manage to get to the Imperial City, fight our way across the bridge, and fight our way through to the palace and the guards to the throne? What then?”
“I don’t think either of us would want to fight through the streets of the Imperial City. Why should the citizens suffer?”
“Can we leave Sethius on the Ruby Throne?”
“Who so ever takes off the head that wears the crown…reigns supreme.”
“Oh, that’s easy then. You can do it.”
“Let us hope he takes the field and I can kill him in combat, but I will not assassinate him. I could have done that weeks ago if it was acceptable to me.”
“What if he doesn’t come out and fight and stays hidden in the White-Gold Tower?”
“Then we see what The Senior Council in exile want. If they demanded the real Imperial troops to stand down, there would still be enough New Empire troops to make a fight to the White-Gold Tower unacceptable to both of us. If there is no clear direction from the Senior Council, you and I may have to parley and negotiate.”
“That would involve walking into his nest. What stops him killing us or putting us in jail?”
“I would not stand by if he or anybody else breached the rules of Truce and Parley. I doubt real Imperial Legionnaires or Penitus Oculatus would obey such an order, but New Imperials would be fighting for their very existence.”
“If you do kill him at some stage, what do we do?”
“I would purchase a large cushion because the Ruby Throne looks uncomfortable!”
“I don’t want to be Empress! You do not want to be Emperor! Can’t we just walk away and get married and live a normal life?”
“I don’t think that would be an option. If we left the Ruby Throne empty, there would be a Tamriel wide war to claim it. If Kintyra is to bring the peace and stability The Divines have promised, then she must be Empress one day. It would be better if one of us occupied the position and abdicate when Kintyra is ready.”
“The Divines have forced us into a corner, haven’t they? This nightmare never ends, and I can’t see any way out. I’m falling into a black fucking hole that goes on forever, and I can’t make it stop!”
“I am going to need your help today, Rigmor. I need to know you trust me more than ever because I am doing this sort of shit without full faith in The Divines for the first time. I am not the Dragonborn the people need without your love. Just give me that today and I will be unstoppable.”
“And they shall come to know your name and tremble, be it Gods, Demons or Kings. The Dragonborn comes.”
“And they shall come to know your names, Rigmor and Kintyra, and that love that conquers all.”
“Let us go do this, my Dragonborn, and know my love is with you always.”
We made our way swiftly to the muster point.
As we passed an Ayleid Well, I stopped for a moment.
Rigmor asked, “Wulf, what is wrong?”
“Magicka. Huge amounts of Magicka. Far more than can come from that Ayleid Well.”
Celestine added, “I can sense it too. It is enough to make my skin crawl.”
“We haven’t time to investigate. Let’s keep going.”
Back from the main force was Casius and those protecting Sorella.
As Rigmor and The Sentinels looked for Quintus, I spoke to Casius.
“A Sentinel Squad will join you shortly. I doubt the opposition will last long, despite their numbers.”
“Lydia came over and had a chat with us last night. She said what you did to Ser Robere’s army was terrifying.”
“For the first time, I unleashed the full power of a Dragonborn. It is not something I ever wanted to do, and I doubt that level of brutality will be needed today. But I will use a spell that makes the opposition kill each other. That is not the evilest of my powers, but still, I despise it.”
Sorella said, “Wulf, you are doing what is needed to protect people.”
I walked over to the young girl.
“Yes, Sorella, but if I use evil to defeat evil, have I won? Many of the most terrible people in history started using dark powers to defend their families and people. They then started using those powers for trivial things when other solutions were available.”
“Rigmor said you were the kindest person she knows. You are not like them.”
“I would like to think I would not become like them, but I have met another Dragonborn who did.”
“Oh, what happened?”
“I had to fight him, and when I defeated him, a Dark Lord killed him.”
“You are not like them, Wulf!”
“Now, Sorella, do not hesitate in obeying Casius!”
“I know, and I shouldn’t worry about you and Rigmor.”
“That’s right. You will be home with your Mum in a few hours. The children will be free, and Xenia can rejoin her mother.”
“Then this is all worthwhile.”
“Yes, it is.”
Quintus and Camaeus were at the front.
“General Quintus, is everything ready?”
“General Septim, the men are in position and await the call. As I expected, the enemy has noticed small detachments moving, but they have ignored us. We will have the element of surprise.”
“I doubt that is so. The enemy may pretend not to have noticed this considerable force within shouting distance, but that is an old trick. However, they will be surprised by me.”
“I will go alone, invisible, to their front ranks. I will then cast a spell to make our enemy fight amongst themselves. Then I will summon The Sentinels and Rigmor, and the slaughter will begin.”
“Oh, that is not how I envisioned this battle.”
“There will be no hard slog up the slopes against volleys of arrows raining down. As I said, it will be a slaughter. When we have reached the summit, I will tell you to bring up Casius and the reserves.”
“Will I hear you?”
“Oh, believe me, you will hear me.”
“Do you wish to address the troops?”
“Yes, in a minute.”
I moved over to Camaeus.
“Count, you heard what I told General Quintus. Do you have any questions?”
“The Silver Swords and Imperial Legion are to advance as one?”
“Yes, and perhaps this is a glimpse into the future when we face a common foe.”
“You know of them?”
“Yes. The Elder Council would also know of them since we handed over the relevant papers to High Queen Elisif.”
“They said nothing of the Akaviri to me.”
“You already knew, but The Elder Council wouldn’t have known until after you left Alinor. Your leaders said nothing to them! These political games will need to cease if The Alessian Prophecy has a hope of succeeding.”
“That is where, hopefully, you and I can assist the prophecy.”
“I am about to invite somebody to help. It is to boost the confidence of the Imperial troops. Do not regard it as an insult.”
I did not wait for a reply from Camaeus but instead made my way to the front.
All eyes were on me as I Shouted Dragon Aspect.
I heard gasps and whispered exclamations about The Thu’um and The Voice.
I used a small amount of Thu’um so all could hear me.
“I am Wulf Septim, son of Tiber Septim, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines!”
That announcement caused an uproar. Sergeants and officers spent several minutes calming the troops down so I could continue.
“I wear this armour today as I represent The Nine. The gods who sacrificed much to create all that you see and keep on sacrificing to keep us safe from Dark Lords such as Molag Bal, Morag Sethius’ master.
But other gods are with us. Lady Azura and Lady Boethia have both aided in my endeavours. Here is another god who will fight beside you today.”
I then Shouted, and Shor’s Avatar appeared.
A few Nords amongst the troops recognised him and called out his name.
“Yes, this is the Avatar of Lord Shor or Lorkhan for our Mer comrades. He, too, will fight for our cause, which has far more significance than the elimination of Morag and her minions.
Today’s battle is the first of many that will be fought as Men and Mer fight side by side to achieve everlasting peace on Nirn. Future generations who live within that peace will look back and thank all of you for your contribution to that peace.
No bugle call will be needed to start this battle. I will soon vanish and make my way up the hill. When you see the Countess and The Sentinels vanish, you will know the battle has begun. Then you attack and show no mercy to an enemy that has forfeited the right to live.
No battle has ever been lost to the side with a Dragonborn in their ranks. Today will not be the first!
May your gods be with you!”
Even the enemy at the very top would hear the cheering and banging of shields.
I turned and cast invisibility.
I made my way to the front battlements then cast Mayhem. Those enemies who did not die from the burst of Magicka started killing other survivors. I summoned Rigmor and The Sentinels.
There was another roar as our army made its way towards the battle.
Many of the enemies were already dead as we made our way forward. Their friends and comrades killed them.
We sliced and Shouted through the remainder without pausing.
The Elven Renegades and Orsimer troops had not been in the radius of my spell.
Cyclone Shouts killed those who hid behind barriers and those who charged at me.
A statue of Lord Akatosh caught my eye. My logical brain immediately wondered why, in front of Ayleid ruins, it was not a statue of Auri-El.
I put that question away as I continued the massacre of the helpless enemy.
Inigo ran past saying, “Mr Dragonfly says you are being greedy, my friend!”
Ingo managed to shoot one and slice and dice another before the fighting ceased.
Rigmor came up to me.
“Wulf, we just destroyed their army in minutes!”
“Yes, we did. Hence I get narky when non-combatants like Freathof and Malesam go on and on about the odds.”
“You had better tell them to bring up Sorella.”
About a minute after we arrived at the ruins, the first Silver Swords joined us.
I used my Thu’um, and it echoed for miles around.
“ALL THE OUTSIDE DEFENDERS ARE DEAD. THE PATH IS CLEAR!”
I watched as Sorella and her guards started to make their way past dead enemies to the summit. Shor’s avatar vanished.
As the others trudged up the hill, I placed a beacon and summoned Bostin. It immediately appeared as the Master Mages were not inside. They will be making their way to the ruins on foot so that it doesn’t take two hours for the airship to arrive. That is why it will be flown down to Quintus’ camp. It can sit there safely for two hours before teleporting to Falkreath.
I looked at the statue of Lord Akatosh. I don’t know the Ayleid name for the ruins we call Table Mountain, but there is a mystery to be solved. Of that, I am certain.
Eventually, all the troops had assembled at the top.
- Wulf: General Quintus, Imperial casualty report.
- Quintus: General Septim, I think we have one sprained ankle from too much enthusiasm and not enough care when running to join the battle. That is the extent of it.
- Wulf: Count Camaeus, Dominion casualty report.
- Camaeus: General Septim, we have no injuries apart from bruised egos. What I said about you needing my Silver Swords is exceptionally foolish in hindsight.
- Wulf: Using the Thu’um and speed outside is far more effective than within cramped and twisting corridors. Plus, as you say, The Sentinels made light work of the bandit and mercenary scum. However, I think we will all have blood on our blades once inside the ruins.
- Quintus: General Septim, we just eliminated the enemy with no more than a sprained ankle when we expected piles of casualties. Can’t you admit what was accomplished is astonishing?
- Rigmor: Quintus, Wulf did not expect mass casualties on our side. Can we just move on to the next part, as talking about such slaughter does not sit well with him?
- Quintus: Of course, Countess.
- Wulf: The Sentinels, Rigmor and me will take point. I suggest Camaeus’ Silver Swords follow because their weapons are more effective against vampires. Then the Legionnaires follow. Casius, Sorella and her guards will remain outside until we clear a path.
- Rigmor: I expect we will soon all be fighting side by side as we break up into smaller melees.
- Wulf: Yes, Countess, as has been our experience in the past.
- Camaeus: I did not expect to have us follow before the Imperial troops.
- Wulf: This is war, Count, and petty rivalries must be put aside. I led Imperials and Stormcloaks in a battle to defeat The New Order. Enemy of my enemy and other such nonsense.
- Camaeus: Yes, but when that threat was over, The Stormcloaks were still your enemy.
- Rigmor: Believe me, Count Camaeus, we are well aware of that fact.
Rigmor gave Camaeus such a stare of hatred he turned away.
I turned to talk to Casius and Sorella.
- Wulf: Casius, the airship is here, and mages will soon arrive to crew it. The Sentinel Squad will remain outside to help protect Sorella.
- Casius: Okay, we will await the signal.
- Sorella: Wulf, I just saw lots of dead bodies. I saw the dead civilians and the Raiders that did it killed when we walked to the compound. None of this has upset me like those first soldiers near the treehouse.
- Wulf: Your mind tries to protect you by making horrible things seem ordinary and mundane. For some soldiers, that never happens, and they cannot function in battle and war. Each individual is different, and it says nothing good or bad about you.
- Sorella: Will the dead vampires look different?
- Wulf: The low-level vampires have horrible, pallid faces. More powerful vampires look no different than mortals. The Tsaesci look like large Argonian. But all look the same to me when dead and their soul flees their flesh. Then they are just meat, not a vampire or mortal. That is how I cope with the many I see. I cannot spend time feeling sorrow for the fallen. But you, Sorella, are free to feel pity for the slain, for that is natural and as it should be.
- Sorella: I asked a lady Sentinel where Serana was. She laughed and said she was Serana. We sat and talked, and she told me about The Dawnguard and how there are many different types of vampires. I thought they were all the same monsters as those who captured me, but they are not. You told me that, and Serana proved it to me.
- Wulf: Did Serana say anything about you wanting to be a vampire hunter?
- Sorella: She said they will always be needed, but I must use unbiased judgement when determining the fate of vampires I hunt.
- Wulf: I can assure you, the ones inside these ruins are the type that deserves elimination. Now we must finish this task.
I used the Thu’um so all could hear.
“We are about to enter a den of rabid dogs. Inside are creatures that would prey upon your loved ones with a savagery that responds to neither reason nor compassion.
As you would with rabid dogs, you will kill them without mercy. None will ask for mercy, so the decision is easy. Kill every single one of them and make the world just a tiny bit cleaner.
Wait for General Quintus’ orders. Silver Bloods will precede Legionnaires.”
There were muted cheers as the adrenaline surge before a battle had waned. Now they knew another bloodbath was close.
I turned to Rigmor
“Do not approach the Bridge of Sighs. Do not hesitate to leave when I tell you to. Do not worry about me as I can take care of myself.”
“Do I look worried? Let’s go make Morag’s life miserable!”
We entered the ruins, and the beauty of Ayleid architecture contrasted with evidence of cannibalism and depravity. But then, depending on which Ayleid once lived here, that might have been a common sight.
Rigmor sighed and said, “This reminds me of Evermor, yet it is in my backyard, so to speak.”
“Rigmor, we saw such things all over Skyrim. I have no doubt we could find the same dotted around Cyrodiil.”
A few levels lower, we encountered a raised portcullis blocking progress.
I pulled a chain, and they lowered.
I laughed and said, “Stupidity reigns supreme. Let us slow them down by raising a portcullis. But instead of locking it, we will let the enemy pull a chain and lower it. Delay created is five seconds. DUH!”
The Sentinels and Rigmor laughed. I am sure anybody following us who heard would think us insane.
I warned, “Watch the mist. It is vampires.”
A group of Defilers waited down two flights of stairs.
I said hello with Unrelenting Force and continued to destroy any that tried to pass through an archway.
The Defilers were no longer in mist form. When all those below were exterminated, I joined the others in their merciless rampage. The Defilers had no armour, poor weapons and no skill. It was like cutting through unarmed and drunk civilians.
We eliminated them all, with the most significant danger being the slippery blood and entrails coating the floor.
After the last Defiler died screaming, I asked, “Are then any casualties?”
Rigmor replied, “No casualties, Wulf. These vampires were weak!”
“Yes, as Serana and I said, they are no better than feral vampires. These vermin are pathetically underpowered compared to the vampires of Volkihar Castle. Serana, her mother or father, could have eliminated this lot solo without breaking a sweat. Not that vampire sweat anyway.”
We came to another portcullis.
I called out, “The chamber ahead is full of Akaviri, both Tsaesci and Remnant vampires. Do not enter the chamber till I do, or you will get in the way of The Voice. Upon entering, close quickly to reduce the time they have to use Blood Magic.
There is also a Life Tree. None of your weapons can damage it, but arrows will rebound off it, so be careful!”
Celestine whispered, “A statue of Akatosh and a Life Tree. What is this place?”
“I don’t know, Celestine, but if I survive today, I am going to find out!”
I pulled the chain, the portcullis lowered.
The Akaviri, including General Oxi-Amaka, were kind enough to stand in a line, waiting for Unrelenting Force to wipe them out.
Another group charged towards me.
I knocked them flying then ran into the chamber yelling, “Attack!”
General Oxi-Amaka challenged me in Tsaesci. I laughed and accepted.
I leapt at him then slammed my shield into his face.
As he staggered back, I sliced his throat open. That was the end of General Oxi-Amaka.
Camaeus said from behind me, “That was their best?”
“Tsaesci Sword-Masters trained me. The trick is, don’t let them settle into their sword forms. They are not so easy once you cross blades.”
Soon all the Akaviri lay dead. I said, “Runner, inform Casius they can move into this chamber. Sentinels and all the others, this is as far as you go. I can sense the Bridge of Sighs not far from here. The Countess, General Quintus, Count Camaeus, and I can handle any enemy that remains though I doubt there is any. Their leader was here and died here. There should only be Morag, and a couple of gods left to fight. We should be back by lunch!”
All the Legionnaires and Sentinels laughed. I think Altmer, who became Thalmor have their funny bone surgically removed.
The light from the Life Tree made everything artificially bright.
Rigmor asked, “What is that tree?”
“They call them Life Trees. They are supposed to be the oldest living things on Nirn and one of the first things created by the et-Ada. There is one in Whiterun, called Gildergreen. There is another in a small cave near that natural hot spring in which you bathed. It is called Eldergleam and was brought to Skyrim by the Atmoran. They all have names, but I don’t know what this one is called.”
I walked over to General Oxi-Amaka and removed his helm.
“Meet our enemy. It will be Oxi’s that lead the Akaviri invasion. I think it would be of benefit if we taught our troops how to fight them and lesser master swordsman.”
I walked over to Lydia. Casius had appeared at the entrance to the cavern.
“Lydia, as soon as you see Rigmor running this way, get out of here! I have no idea what will happen or what the area of effect will be when the Bridge of Sighs’ energy is used to open an Oblivion Gate.”
“Okay, Wulf. You go off blindly into incredible danger once more, and we will patiently, with no worries at all, wait for your return.”
“Somebody has to do it, Lydia. The Divines placed me on Nirn for this sort of thing, and I will keep doing it while I still breathe.”
“We will always be around to protect Rigmor, no matter what.”
“I know, and I love every one of you and wish we could just have some peace together.”
I turned, drew my sword and headed towards who knows what!
There were no more enemies.
We came to another portcullis.
I warned, “The Bridge of Sighs is over the bridge ahead. The amount of Magicka being generated is impressive. Not as much as The Eye of Magnus, but enough to open an Oblivion Gate. Nobody is to approach the crystal, the soul gem.”
I lowered the portcullis, and we made our way across the bridge.
We came to a set of stairs and could see the Bridge of Sighs ahead of us.
I put my hand up to halt everybody, then used zoom-vision to have a closer look.
I commented, “The crystal looks similar to a Welkynd Stone at first glance.”
Rigmor asked, “Aren’t those the things that mages accidentally set off and destroy buildings!”
“Yes, and they are all around us, lighting this entire structure. I think cracking this crystal will make one impressive boom!”
“You are looking forward to the boom, aren’t you?”
“I like booms!”
“Get moving, idiot!”
We entered the chamber.
- Rigmor: There is it, The Bridge of Sighs!
- Camaeus: Careful, I have a feeling we are not alone.
- Wulf: We aren’t alone. Morag will do her dramatic entrance in a second. Then she will bore me to death with claims I will die blah blah blah.
- Rigmor: Wulf gets that all the time just before he kills the boaster.
- Quintus: You can feel it, like a tinderbox ready to explode.
- Wulf: Non-mages are usually unaware of Magicka. You sense it, Quintus, which indicates how dangerous it is. I have encountered stronger Magicka, but that was in a device far from fragile.
- Rigmor: Wulf, we can just take it. Take the soul gem! There is no one here.
- Wulf: That would be suicidal, Rigmor. The amount of Magicka generated would render all dweomer on my armour useless.
As predicted, Morag made a ‘surprise’ grand entrance.
- Morag: I underestimated you, Dragonborn. It pains me you have come all this way just to die. We could have made such…such a lovely couple.
- Rigmor: Over my dead body!
- Morag: That will happen, you peasant wench. I shall enjoy disembowelling you and devouring your entrails, just to make sure, after my children have had their fill of ravishing you again and again.
- Quintus: Countess, do not move any closer!
- Wulf: Morag, you are one of the weakest and most pathetic enemies I have faced. So stop the boasting so I can dispose of you.
- Morag: You, Dragonslayer, have my full attention. You see, we have reached a stalemate, you and I. But I have a proposition that would benefit us all.
- Rigmor: Don’t trust her, Wulf!
- Morag: Quiet whelp! Know your place lest it is on the board of Molag Bal!
- Wulf: Unlike some pathetic vampires, Molag Bal does not consume mortal flesh. You are boring me already, Morag.
- Morag: Come forward, Dragonslayer, so that we can speak intimately. Let me enlighten you on the questions you have always wanted answered.
- Wulf: Did you hear that, Rigmor? Morag will tell us who lights all the candles and torches in dungeons and ruins. You know, the ones not visited by mortals for hundreds of years!
I approached Rigmor.
I looked into her eyes but spoke through our rings, “My beloved, you have had your say. Now please, I need to concentrate, so remain silent. I don’t trust her. You know that. But she has made a mistake by letting me get closer to her.”
“Okay. But remember, it is my sword that goes up her arse!”
“Can you imagine Lady Azura asking what the brown stain is on the sword she gave us?”
Rigmor laughed aloud as I turned and approached Morag, who stood with arms crossed and the superior countenance of the delusional.
I said, “Morag, so far, you have been full of empty and predictable threats. I don’t think I can be bothered talking further.”
“That’s not exactly what I had in mind. You see, Father would never allow it.”
“And I am supposed to care what your Daddy, Husband, Rapist allows?”
“You must ask yourself, is the mortal realm worth saving? Just look around you. Mortals are weak, pitiful creatures who will know nothing of lasting peace while the gods meddle and plot in their affairs. They continue to murder themselves in the worst way. Commit atrocities in the very name of their foul gods.”
“Weak and pitiful? Step away from the Bridge of Sighs and let Rigmor show you how weak she is!
The only meddling The Divines do is to preserve the Sacred Covenant. To stop your Daddy and his kind from crossing into Mundus from Oblivion.
Men and Mer will always commit evil acts, and gods do not make them do so. It is free will and free choice. Greed, jealousy and hatred are part of who we are. You can exercise your free will and deny Molag Bal, and there is nothing he could do about it. He could not stop Serana, his favourite Daughter of Coldharbour, from turning her back on him and becoming mortal once again. You could do the same right here, right now.”
“What would you not give to curse and banish the gods for what they have done to you and Rigmor? The screams of your mother as she brought you into this filthy world. To die in a bloody fucking mess. Tainted by the seed of Talos. Are they not cruel and relentless foul spirits of woe already trembling in their nests of filth they have made for themselves!”
“You believe Molag Bal knows all but, in reality, he is blind compared to Lord Akatosh. My mother did not die giving birth to me. I will not say her name here for you to befoul.
I am born of two gods. I am not a Dragonslayer. I am a Dragonborn blessed by Lord Akatosh with powers beyond your feeble comprehension. Therefore, I am of three Gods, and I serve The Nine from choice. I am not forced to obey. You, however, are nothing but a second-rate vampire with no more power than hundreds of your kind I have slaughtered.
All that was done to Rigmor was the doing of mortals, not gods! That was up until Malacath got involved, and he, you moron, is not one of The Divines or even an Aedra. All that was done to me was give me the tools to save the world from weaklings like you and that depraved foul creature you call Daddy. Does he ever rape after the first time? Just to cement that loving relationship?”
“We can be as one. I want you. I always wanted you. I lust for you and would have you inside me in a heartbeat. I would carry your Dragonchild without the risks a lesser mortal has and many others.”
“I am one with Rigmor, and she will safely give birth to our daughter, Kintyra. Rigmor was never in danger due to Kintyra being a Dragonchild. Once again, your Daddy does not know all, and you spout your ignorance for all to hear.
Kintyra will rule over a united nation of Men, Mer and beast races where her absolute power will guarantee the peace you only promise. You are too late, but you never stood a chance anyway. You have never loved and have no concept of what it is or its power. As if I would betray a real woman for a wrinkled old corpse like you. The prophecy will be fulfilled without you, Morag.”
“Rigmor and all your friends can live and embrace their new home in Coldharbour. That is my promise to you. I would kill that false Emperor and place you on his throne next to mine. I would forge a new Amulet of Kings and relight the Dragonfires, not to banish the Daedric Lords, the true and deserving gods. You will have your revenge as that rank, and wretched Akatosh will drown in his tears forever writhing in the agony of his failure as he and his kind are banished.”
“What a load of poppycock!”
Rigmor giggled behind me.
“You only exist because of the selflessness of the gods you blaspheme! When Mundus and Nirn were created, the et-Ada who sacrificed and survived their construction became the Aedra, including The Divines. The et-Ada who refused to sacrifice and did not aid in construction became the Daedric Princes and Magna-ge. Tell me, Morag, how the fuck are the Dark Lords true and deserving gods? They are nothing more than thieves!
But I am intrigued. How would an idiot like you who doesn’t even know how the world was created hope to make a new Amulet of Kings?”
“Did you not know? The Bridge of Sighs holds the very essence of Molag Bal and Alessia. The radiance is the battle within. The children’s souls a catalyst to a fountain of youth. To keep the children’s spirits alive, Alessia must battle night and day. She wants her children back. But she is weakening, and her soul has become tainted black. To destroy it now…“
To destroy The Bridge of Sighs now would ensure Alessia’s soul returned to purity. Destruction now would stop you from using Alessia’s blackened soul in a warped Amulet of Kings.
You wish to replace the Liminal Barrier of Martin’s sacrifice with a new one that somehow restricts the influence of Aedra, including The Divines, in Mundus. Any Daedric Lord who creates a portal to Nirn would be unchallenged by The Nine or other Aedra. That would not bring peace! Imagine Boethia and Molag Bal sharing Nirn? Many combinations of the seventeen Daedric Lords would war upon each other and rip this world apart.
Some Daedric Lords do not want Mundus and Nirn to exist. They would destroy them and leave nothing but more of The Void for your Daddy to rule. But where would he get his mortals to control and enslave? What an idiotic plan!
You are stupid enough to think peace would prevail because you have no idea of Molag Bal’s real intention or how the Liminal Barrier works!
Saint Alessia is my mother. Talos is my Father. Rigmor is my love and my daughter Kintyra the future Empress and the Chosen One of prophecy. You have failed and will die knowing the fool you are, Morag! Not only is death and misery the inevitable outcome, but you are asking me to sacrifice my Mother’s soul for this madness.“
“Come with me, my love….”
Morag tried to penetrate my mind and mesmerise me.
I laughed and said, “Did you think you could mesmerise me? I have stood before Malacath, Boethia, Sheogorath and Hermaeus Mora, and they could not do so. What chance a pathetic and weak vampire like you?”
Molag finally looked worried. She understood her failure would not please ‘Daddy’.
I growled, “The prophecy says somebody will be The Chosen Queen. Well, Morag, you know who does the choosing, don’t you?”
I used my Thu’um.
“I, WULF SEPTIM, CHOOSE RIGMOR RAGNARSDOTTIER TO BE THE CHOSEN QUEEN!”
Morag gasped as I snarled, “Now, feel the power of Lady Kynareth!”
I used a full-strength Unrelenting Force.
Morag screamed as she bounced up the stairs. The screaming was cut off with a loud crack as she hit an inactive Oblivion Gate on the top platform. She was protected from death while basking in the Magicka emanating from the soul gem, but she was not immune to pain.
I did not have time to gloat.
I yelled, “Everyone, move away! The power coming from the Bridge of Sighs just increased dramatically!”
Just as I finished the warning, a surge of Magicka sent me flying through the air.
Rigmor screamed, but I was soon on my feet. However, Molag Bal had used the Bridge of Sighs to lay claim to my soul. My life force was slowly draining away. When gone, I will die, and my conscience will reside in Coldharbour.
I could not tell Rigmor this. There were still things to be done, and I had a few hours left at the draining rate.
I raised my arm and waved it twice. Then I used my Thu’um once more.
“CASIUS, BRING SORELLA!”
I walked over to Rigmor.
She asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, just a Magicka surge. The Bridge of Sighs is unstable. My mother must be close to losing the battle of wills.”
“What Morag said, is that possible?”
“I don’t know. This thing is unique, and I have no prior knowledge to let me judge such a possibility.”
“So, will some sort of diamond be made?”
“Once again, I don’t know. I assume the diamond would only be produced if Saint Alessia lost.”
“You would think The Divines would warn you about such a diamond?”
“I think they have lost faith in me.”
“That is unfair! You have always done the right thing.”
“The fate of Nirn and Mundus is at stake. They can’t afford to take risks. But we are speculating when time is of the essence!”
I could feel panic rising, but then Casius and Sorella appeared on the platform above.
I said, “Sorella, show Molag Bal what a mortal child can do!”
Sorella laughed and replied, “Will do, Wulf!”
I turned towards the Bridge of Sighs and watched its destruction.
The arrow flew true and shattered the soul gem.
A beam of energy shot upwards. It was only a matter of time before a tear was made in the Liminal Barrier.
Morag Sethius came staggering out of the flames and looked her three hundred years of age!
She croaked, “What have you done?”
“Fucked up your plans, and you, by the looks of it.”
“Daddy will come, and he will kill you!”
Rigmor asked, “Wulf, can I shove my sword up her arse now?”
Morag turned to Rigmor and replied, “There is no need. Daddy has called me home.”
Morag dropped dead. Her corpse slid down the stairs.
Rigmor complained, “Well, that was disappointing! You look forward to shoving your sword up somebodies’ arse, and then they are rude and die on you first.”
I rushed over to Quintus.
“Quintus, run! Take Rigmor with you, even if you have to carry her!”
“What is happening now?”
“The power contained within the Bridge of Sighs has been released. It is creating a small hole in the Liminal Barrier. Once it does, Molag Bal will use that small hole to open an Oblivion Gate. Then he will step through.”
“And you will fight a god?”
“With the aid of another god, yes. Now take Rigmor to safety. I will rely on many people to take care of her if I don’t make it. You are one of them. Camaeus is another. The Sentinels will never leave her side. Now go!”
Rigmor cried out, “No, Wulf, don’t you dare!”
I walked over to my beloved and said, “Rigmor, you agreed to leave when I said so. Molag Bal is about to open an Oblivion Gate and step through. You will die if you stay. Kintyra will die if you stay. So please, I beg you, leave now.”
“I just want you to know I love you.”
“Yes, and our love will help me kick Molag Bal back to Oblivion.”
“I can’t kiss you with that damn helm on!”
“Blow me a kiss, and I will catch it, then store it in my pocket.”
“Hey, I remember that from when I was a kid!”
“Hundreds of years ago!”
Rigmor blew a kiss, and I pretended to catch it. I am glad my helm hid my tears.
I called over to Camaeus, “I am trusting that you, Count Camaeus, want the peace promised by The Alessian Prophecy. Therefore, I implore you, look after Rigmor. Do not betray her, for to do so is to betray all of Nirn!”
“Wulf Septim, I will honour what Lord Akatosh has asked of me.”
“Good enough, now go, all of you, before I have to watch you die needlessly!”
They ran, and I watched as they crossed the bridge.
I stood far back from the pulsating energy and waited for the inevitable breach of the Liminal Barrier.
About two minutes later, there was a massive surge of power.
Morag’s body vanished.
A domed barrier appeared over the chamber. It would require less energy for Molag Bal to maintain his Oblivion Gates within a small area of Mundus until it stabilises. It also meant no help would be coming from the outside unless they could teleport into such an environment.
More worrying was that our rings could not function through Molag Bal’s barrier. Rigmor might panic, as I had not thought that this would occur.
Molag Bal stepped through, and like all Dark Lords, seemed to think bigger is better.
His voice, dripping with hatred, echoed in the dome.
“Morag! You have failed me, but your sacrifice will not go in vain.”
Bal used Morag’s life force to add to the energy of the destroyed soul gem. What a charmer!
Molag Bal continued, “Akatosh! Hear the last dying screams of your world as you witness my revenge. I shall turn day into night and the living into the undead.”
I felt like asking what he was seeking revenge for but decided that remaining quiet was the healthier option.
“Watch and tremble in your nest of filth as I drag your cities into Coldharbour and weaken your pathetic barrier to breaking point.”
Because I like to scare myself silly, I used zoom-vision to get a close up of Molag Bal.
That was a mistake as he stared at me then said, “I will drink to my victory from the skull of your half-breed champion!”
I became concerned as Molag slowly walked towards me.
I held Boethia’s Browneye in my hand and suddenly knew a summoning spell. I cast it and was both relieved and surprised it worked.
Boethia popped out of Oblivion.
- Boethia: Yes, Champion, it worked!
- Wulf: That is wonderful, Lady Boethia. It is terrific to see you, but please, stop that bastard from drinking out of my skull!
- Molag Bal: Boethia! You sick, twisted, spiteful bitch!
- Wulf: He knows you well!
- Boethia: Molag, my dear, I never said I wasn’t.
- Molag Bal: You dare challenge me!?
- Boethia: The thought of devouring you has made me…Well, let’s just say I am in rapture!
- Wulf: Can’t we just say it has made you hungry? The other option is rather disturbing.
- Boethia: Be careful and don’t get squashed, my champion.
Molag Bal drew his mace. I thought he might use his shield, but no, it vanished, and he gripped his mace with both hands. I think he realised that a one-handed mace is too slow against the golden katana wielded by Boethia. I shook my head and drew my weapon. I did not have time to critique their martial skills!
There was a flash of energy, and Molag Bal charged Boethia. Dremora Lords poured through the Oblivion Gates.
Unrelenting Force destroyed the first wave of Dremora Lords.
I had a chance to watch the gods and was disappointed. If Rigmor were twenty-foot tall, she would thrash both of them. Boethia’s stance was wrong, with too much weight on the front foot. Even though a two-handed mace grip was faster, Molag Bal spent his time parrying the even faster blows from Boethia.
The gods started to spend more time in defensive positions, like boxers waiting for an opening. I have seen more exciting sparring between children with wooden swords!
My entertainment was interrupted by another power surge. More Dremora Lords poured out of the Oblivion Gates and attacked.
Unrelenting Force took care of many, but far more of them had stepped into the battle this time. Therefore, I ended up using my sword.
I was concentrating so much on surviving the mass of Dremora Lords that I lost track of Molag Bal. I looked over, and Boethia was busy with another mass of Dremora Lords.
I helped Boethia by disintegrating most of her attackers.
Suddenly, I thought if Boethia is over there, and Molag Bal is not in front of me, then….
I turned just in time to see Molag Bal aim and swing his mace at my head. It was no use trying to block it with my shield, so I dived out of the way.
We destroyed the second wave of Dremora Lords, then a flash of energy signalled the third wave.
This time I kept an eye on Molag Bal as I cut down the Dremora Lords.
I finished off the last of the third wave, then decided to try Scourge.
I hate maces as they just seem so cumbersome. But Scourge was well balanced and light, so I found myself wielding it with considerable skill.
Molag Bal recognised my weapon and decided I was the more significant danger.
I had to dodge Molag Bal’s mace several times. Then he took too long of a backswing.
I whacked him on the kneecap with Scourge, and its dweomer worked. Molag Bal was banished back to Coldharbour, and his control over the Oblivion Gates severed. They exploded, which resulted in me gracefully flying through the air once more. Too bad the landing was not as graceful.
I slowly got to my feet, Scourge still ready to banish any nearby god.
I soon realised I was alone as Boethia was banished simultaneously with Molag. The dome was gone.
“Rigmor, I am alive!”
“Thank The Divines. It has been hours!”
“It has? There must have been a time velocity difference in the dome Molag Bal created.”
“Gobblygook! All I want to know is, did you hit him in the balls?”
“No, he was too tall for that. I got him good on his right kneecap. It made a wonderful crunchy sound!”
“Wait in the compound, and I will be there soon.”
“Okay, I will let everybody know you are alive.”
“Yeah, tell Blackwell I look forward to our parley.”
“How did you know he was coming?”
“Mages, my dear, they know all.”
“Some of them think they do.”
I groaned. The bridge had been destroyed.
“Ah, Rigmor, I might be a bit longer. There is no bridge, so I will have to find another way. Or I might just teleport.”
“No teleporting until you have a good look for another exit!
“Okay. Did Casius leave with Sorella?”
“Yes, J’zargo said that as soon as they finished taking Sorella home, they took Casius and some of his men to Pale Pass. They hoped to gather some intelligence and figure out how best to help us. Then J’zargo was to head to the point agreed with Blackwell for pickup.”
I climbed the stairs.
“All three Oblivion Gates are destroyed. It was quite an explosion!”
“Any sign of a way out?”
“Mmm…remember that Ayleid Well where Celestine and I both commented about strong Magicka?”
“Well, I think that is the way out. But I will have to leap into the underground lake. If it isn’t the way out, I will have to teleport.”
“I can sense your very tired. Is that why?”
“Yes, Rigmor. I just want to rest.”
I was slowly dying, and my only hope was to reach Serana. I thought about summoning her, but my Magicka reserves were drained and weren’t regenerating for the first time that I can remember. I could not let Rigmor know. I had to deal with Blackwell, and then I could tackle my life force issue.
I dived into the water.
I surfaced then swam to the outlet. I dived under some metal bars.
I made my way to the surface and onto the bank.
When I turned around, I could see the Ayleid Well and the track to the muster point.
“I am out. I should be there in less than half an hour.”
“I can’t believe you fought a god and survived!”
“Yeah. I will tell you all about it when I get back.”
“Lots of people want my attention. I will talk to you soon.”
“I love you, my Chosen Queen.”
“You were right about that all along. You got to choose.”
“Yep and Morag hoped I would choose her. It was a close decision. I mean, did you get a good look at her hips?”
“Rigmor, what do you feel through our rings?”
“Love. Nothing but love, exhaustion and a craving for bacon. Now, I had better talk to the queue of people.”
I was halfway back to the compound when Rigmor warned, “Watch out for a white streak coming your way!”
A minute later, Meeko came running towards me.
I thought he would bowl me over, but he stopped dead and sat down.
“I am glad to see you too, my white fleabag.”
“Yes, we killed all the bad guys.”
Meeko whined and sniffed me.
“Yes, Meeko. I am not well. Don’t tell Rigmor, okay?”
Meeko disagreed, and we continued on our way.
We entered the compound. Rigmor came up to me. I wasn’t wearing my helm, so she stepped close and stared me in the eyes.
“Wulf, you look pale and sleepy.”
“That fight took it out of me, Rigmor. It was very intense.”
Rigmor stepped back a little, and I almost blacked out.
“I am okay, like I said, just fatigued.”
“Well, perhaps you should speak to Celestine or Serana.”
“Sure. Then I will come and talk to Blackwell.”
Rigmor walked to the command tent. Meeko was not happy keeping the secret.