Loredas, 11th First Seed, 4E 205
Blackwell relaxed as he realised Rigmor and I were happier being informal.
- Blackwell: Your Majesty, Milady, there will be a small interim phase so correspondence can be sent to those that need to know of the change of rulership. This list includes international dignitaries and the rulers of the various provinces of Nirn. They will receive invites to the coronation, a dual affair that will also crown the Countess as High Queen of Cyrodiil.
- Wulf: I am ignorant of much of the political landscape on Nirn, although I have intimate knowledge of that in Skyrim. You may need to brief both of us on those attending before the event.
- Blackwell: As you wish, Majesty. But first, I believe we need to protect the integrity of our Queen and the child. I suggest Milady takes up the name of the House of Mede.
- Rigmor: Rigmor Mede? Yeah, right. Pfft!
- Wulf: Rigmor, it is a political move that clearly states your royal bloodline. Your father’s surname will be entered into the records, and you can use that or adopt my name after our marriage. You are Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, Daughter of Sir Ragnar Fjonasson, and that is a name of which to be proud!
- Rigmor: Rigmor Septim would be my choice after marriage.
- Wulf: Lord Chancellor, you know our distaste for these political games very well, but we will take your advice to minimise friction during the transition period. Emperor Titus Mede II restored Ragnar’s noble title and reputation. However, our Thalmor friends might find it uncomfortable if we insist Rigmor use her family name at the coronation. Therefore we will use Mede.
- Blackwell: As you wish, Majesty.
- Wulf: Now comes the question as to what name I will use. First, I must ask you, why abandon Sethius in favour of me?
- Blackwell: You know that I did not abandon him. I refused to break the laws concerning Truce and Parley, which you pointed out to Sethius. He decided to further break those sacred and necessary laws by attacking you. You were within your rights to defend yourself. I did not think you would attack Sethius, but we would have defended him for the same reason if you had. Parley must be protected! I doubt such a clash would produce a favourable outcome even with our numbers. However, your right to rule would have been tarnished.
- Wulf: You are being honest, as always, so I ask further, did you hope the scenario would play out as it did?
- Blackwell: You, as the last Dragonborn, are the rightful heir to the throne. As soon as I heard of your accomplishments, I knew that was a fact. That not only were you gifted the Thu’um but also could absorb the souls of dragons. That meant Akatosh himself anointed you as the rightful heir before even taking the crown by right of combat. Even so, I was sworn to protect whoever sits on that throne even if I wished and hinted on several occasions that it could be you I obey with unwavering loyalty.
- Wulf: Even before I declared my family name at the trial, you must have realised that I was a far greater threat to Sethius’ rule than Rigmor ever was?
- Blackwell: I advised Morag that any attempt to try you as a usurper would end in civil war. For once, she listened.
- Wulf: I have no doubt you have heard I claim Tiber Septim to be my father.
- Blackwell: I am no expert on the powers of The Divines. However, such a claim by you could result in declarations of blasphemy. Even worse, people may regard you as a God-King. I believe you, but what possible proof could we provide to the masses of such a claim?
- Wulf: The sworn testimony of Priests and Priestesses of Lady Mora, Lady Dibella, Lady Azura and others who directly communicate with their deities. That will be your proof.
- Rigmor: You must admit, Lord Chancellor, that very few people would argue if different gods from different pantheons supported Wulf’s claims.
- Blackwell: Yes, they would risk insulting religious leaders, which is not a wise political move.
- Wulf: I intend to rule as Wulf Septim and our daughter as Kintyra Septim. People will realise it isn’t an adopted name like Sethius tried to do with Mede. We will rule as Septim of Tiber Septim’s line, not his brother’s like most Septim Emperors/Empresses were. This outcome is the desire of The Divines and is also mine.
- Blackwell: And who should the lists say was your mother?
- Rigmor: Wulf’s mother is Saint Alessia, Slave Queen and founder of The Empire.
Blackwell staggered back, shaking his head and with his mouth agape. Rigmor laughed, and as per usual, that was the sweetest of music to my ears.
- Wulf: Lord Chancellor, I am half-brother to Emperor Belharza the Half-Minotaur and Emperor Pelagius Septim. I am the son of Empress Alessia and Emperor Tiber Septim. Rigmor is The Chosen Queen of The Alessian Prophecy. Our child is The Chosen One of The Alessian Prophecy and is blessed by Lord Akatosh. Kintyra and her descendants will be rulers by Divine right.
- Blackwell: Was Morag aware of your parentage?
- Wulf: No, because gods are not omnipotent despite claims to the contrary.
- Rigmor: Morag was unaware of many things.
- Wulf: I will soon ask for Rigmor’s hand in marriage, not to satisfy some outdated concept of respectability or, even worse, the irreverent use of Lady Mora’s sacred ceremonies for political gain. I will do it as our souls are entwined, and I love her with an intensity even gods admire.
- Blackwell: I understand, Your Majesty.
- Rigmor: Lord Chancellor, Wulf and I shall return to Bruma for the time being and leave you in charge as the caretaker. We will, of course, comply with anything you ask of us.
- Blackwell: As you desire, Milady. Once inaugurated as High Queen, the title of Countess of Bruma will automatically be passed onto your mother.
- Wulf: Is that strictly necessary, Lord Chancellor? Her Royal Highness, High Queen Elisif, retains the title of Jarl of Haafingar.
- Blackwell: It is not required by law but a prudent political move.
- Rigmor: I don’t mind handing that title to Mum. What will change if I live in Bruma rather than here?
- Blackwell: Bruma will become, by default, a Royal City and Imperial place of residence. There are small matters that need attending to, but they can wait for the time being. I am sure both of you need time to adjust to the new situation you find yourselves in.
- Wulf: I expect the wedding to be held two weeks after announcing our engagement. It will be held in Bruma’s Cathedral and a family and friends affair with a few dignitaries invited. I propose the coronation take place one week after the wedding.
- Blackwell: There will be a list of political invites for the coronation. There is sufficient room for personal invites to be quite generous in numbers.
- Rigmor: Have the Counts been transferred to The Imperial Jail?
- Blackwell: They will arrive within the next few days. What about Ser Robere?
- Wulf: I will have Robere de Medalius escorted to the cells by a squad of Sentinels.
- Blackwell: I doubt any of them will bother with a trial. They seem to have accepted their executions as just punishment.
- Wulf: We need them to admit their crimes publicly, and a court of law is the most neutral place to do so.
- Blackwell: Very well, they can declare their guilt in court.
- Wulf: Will the widows cause future problems? My father would have wiped out every single member of those families, but I could never be that ruthless. Sons and daughters should not pay for the sins of the father. Wives may not even know the actions of their husbands or be able to prevent them if they did. Not in Cyrodiil anyway, where they seem far more subservient than in Skyrim.
- Blackwell: Your Majesty, the widows know how the game is played. Or how it was played as I assume new rules are in order. They will also be made aware your mercy has kept them alive. They may curse every breath you take but should fall in line. They could lose everything otherwise.
- Rigmor: What about the County of Leyawiin?
- Blackwell: A you know, Milady, Leyawiin needs a new Count or Countess. I suggest Casius Varon as we must have someone we can trust implicitly. His naval expertise would suit the county and help protect the Niben Bay, especially as most of the New Imperial Army will likely flee as the news of Sethius’ death circulates. I have no doubt they will return to the border regions of Black Marsh, Elsweyr and Valenwood. That is where they found most profit under Sethius and Morag. Of course, Quintus was another option to consider, but with the growing tensions in Hammerfell, it would be prudent for him to remain there for the time being.
- Wulf: Rigmor, you are the expert on how to run a county. You even managed to do it in-between visits to your favourite inns.
- Rigmor: Ha de ha. Leyawiin is key to protecting Cyrodiil if the Akaviri launch an attack. Casius is also used to overseeing the logistics of an Imperial Army. Therefore, I think he is an excellent choice as Count of Leyawiin. You will have to look into getting the charges of piracy dropped, though. We just disposed of a Bandit King. We don’t want a Pirate Count.
- Blackwell: I shall get onto it at once, Milady.
- Wulf: We cannot have other provinces impacted by the dissolution of The New Imperial Army. New Imperial troops that reside in the counties that did not fight to overthrow Sethius should be granted amnesty and offered the chance to join city garrisons or The Imperial Legion. They will be stripped of rank and start as raw recruits. Those that participated in the fighting are to be declared outlaws.
- Blackwell: A prudent move.
- Wulf: For now, Quintus is to remain in position. I want one Imperial Legion from Skyrim, and two from High Rock sent to Cyrodiil. The military leaders who fled Cyrodiil are to return and coordinate the transition from New Imperial Army to the Imperial Legions.
- Blackwell: I will arrange informal notification of the offers of recruitment. You will have to sign the official orders to get the legions moved in the next few days and approve the recruitment policy.
- Wulf: I shall assign Master Mage Onmund to be your assistant. He can teleport to and from Bruma with paperwork that needs our attention. I will return here after resting in Bruma for a day or so. When things are settled, I will see about getting portals installed so that you can personally travel around the province instantly.
- Blackwell: Lost knowledge returned.
- Wulf: Which reminds me, The Synod and I will have a friendly chat as they do not own much of what they took. It would be different if they shared knowledge instead of hoarding it.
- Blackwell: As I arrange the necessary correspondence announcing the change of dynasty and forthcoming coronation to be sent to ‘Whom It May Concern’, you can expect an immediate interest and requests for parley, especially from The Elder Council and the Aldmeri Dominion. The latter will want to discuss the restoration of the White-Gold Concordat.
- Rigmor: Pffft!
- Blackwell: Lady Rigmor, take this opportunity to relax as best you can. Of course, return home to Bruma, but soon, whether you like it or not, you will need to adapt and come to terms with your new situation. Once the news has reached the far corners of Nirn, and you address the foreign dignitaries and your subjects, you must respect expectations and act accordingly as befitting a Queen.
- Rigmor: Hey, I am not Emperor, and I put up with this kind of crap off Malesam long enough, so drop it, Blackwell!
- Blackwell: But you will be High Queen and rightfully so, as his Majesty is the rightful heir to the Imperial Throne by right of combat. I realise this situation is not perfect or even expected. I am sure it comes as a surprise to all of us, but here we are. It is not the first time in the history of monarchies that things have turned out…exceptional, but we must all agree that the recent events bringing us here are indeed exceptional.
- Wulf: Lord Chancellor, I expected this all along. The Divines need me to sit on this throne for two reasons. They want me to prepare The Empire and its neighbours for the upcoming Akaviri invasion. There is far more at stake than just the existence of Tamriel. The Akaviri are no different than The New Order, who worked for Malacath.
- Blackwell: And the second reason is?
- Wulf: The second reason The Divines wanted Rigmor and me to rule is to ensure The Chosen One, Kintyra III, an Empress carrying the blood of Alessia, Titus Mede and Tiber Septim, also sits on this throne when she comes of age. The Alessian Prophecy is only partially complete until then, and every sane person on Nirn should pray for its successful completion.
- Blackwell: This is new territory for me, Your Majesty. I am used to dealing with the greed and selfish ambitions of nobles.
- Wulf: You will need to understand that I was placed on Nirn to protect all mortals. I am Champion of The Divines, which is my sacred duty. Our goal is to make the promise of eternal peace on Nirn a reality, as foretold in The Alessian Prophecy. Foreign policy and diplomacy will be based on that singular fact, which will be made clear from the beginning. The sooner others realise that they can cooperate or suffer the consequences. I need not spell those out for you. Understood?
- Blackwell: Yes, Your Majesty. I may need your assistance in getting up to speed on the politics of immortals. I would also like to understand more of your accomplishments. I assume much of your achievements are not publicly known.
- Wulf: The politics of the immortals are not much different than the game you are used to in Cyrodiil. Only the stakes are much higher. The gods play not for some lumpy, uncomfortable throne but the very existence of Nirn and the free will of mortals. As Champion of The Nine, and given my parentage, there is no possible way I would accept the ban on Talos worship. It is blasphemy and not desired for the reasons The Thalmor put forward. As for my achievements, everything I have ever done is for the good of mortals, not just the gods. I will make them known in good time and the covert actions of some previous Emperors and citizens that deserve recognition and their place in history.
- Rigmor: Ahh, I’m sorry for my little outburst before, Lord Chancellor. I’m very worried, I guess. I don’t know….
- Blackwell: Milady, I have been at the receiving end of your, ahem, diplomatic parley. You have proven, beyond doubt, your ability to lead and strategise. To hold your shoulders back and head high in the face of overwhelming odds. You can accomplish much with The Dragonborn. I mean His Imperial Majesty. If it’s peace you want, if it’s a home to go to where you can raise a child in safety, you have a place alongside His Imperial Majesty to make this a reality, to make it a success because no one is going to make that success for you. So please, take the time to return to Bruma, appoint a Lady in Waiting and send her to the palace to arrange the new Royal Suite.
- Wulf: I think we have talked enough for now.
- Blackwell: Yes, so if you permit me, I have matters which need attending. I shall send word if something important comes up and your presence is required. A personal mage will make that so much easier.
- Wulf: Then wait for a few seconds, and I will summon Master Onmund.
Onmund appeared within ten seconds of me summoning him.
- Onmund: Yes, Arch-Mage.
- Rigmor: The Arch-Mage is now Emperor Wulf Septim the First.
- Onmund: Ah…congratulations, Your Imperial Highness?
- Wulf: That is too early to tell, Master Onmund. However, the success of my rule will be very dependant on my advisors. Therefore, I assign you to be Lord Chancellor Blackwell’s assistant for the time being. You will need to explain to him how you can use Mark and Recall and teleportation. I will install portals when the opportunity arises, so include those in your discussion.
- Onmund: Lord Chancellor, I am honoured to meet you and be your assistant.
- Blackwell: Master Onmund, I am honoured to meet a defender of Morgan Mede’s descendants. The College of Winterhold has performed that task with unwavering loyalty and expertise.
- Onmund: The four of us allowed to participate in Bruma, oh, plus Cerys and her father, are proud to have been chosen by His Imperial Majesty.
- Wulf: The Lord Chancellor will fill you in on the details, but the Countess will be my Queen and joint ruler of The Empire. This outcome was not foreseen when The College of Winterhold accepted the Royal Decree to protect Morgan Mede’ descendants. However, it means that we can show mages in a far better light as distrust at this level of governing has tarnished their reputation. By visibly protecting the throne, trust can be renewed, inevitably leading to more students attending the College.
- Rigmor: We will need all the Master Mages we can train before the Akaviri arrive.
- Blackwell: Your Majesty, may we now leave and commence the vast amount of work ahead of us.
I nodded my approval. Blackwell bowed his head to both of us, then said, “Your Imperial Majesty, Milady Rigmor, we have a fascinating future, I am sure. Come along, Master Onmund and tell me about what you can do to help make my life a bit easier.”
As Blackwell and Onmund turned and left the room, Rigmor asked me, “Wulf, what do you feel about all of this?”
“I feel fantastic as we now have a chance to improve the lot of the ordinary citizen and pave the way for Kintyra. I was worrying that I would have to be the aggressor and take the throne at some stage. Now I do not have to.”
“Ah, what about the manipulations of The Divines?”
“I am not going to claim I am a victim as I have accepted the necessity of all that has occurred. We both agreed we would rather have suffered the machinations of The Divines than the alternative of all mortals suffering worse. We did not volunteer, but it is what it is. Some things I have to resolve. The Divines are not infallible, so we must always be firm and do things our way.”
“I know. You are probably the only person who could. We have been through a lot, haven’t we?”
“I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there for me. You have been there for all of us. I know I am not perfect, but you’ve always been there to carry me when I fall, to put me back together when I am broken. I would do the same for you in a heartbeat. I will always share your back, and I want you to know, you are kinder and stronger than you realise. You may be Wulf, but you are also MY Dragonborn, and I’ll protect and love you always.”
“You have kept me kind, my beloved. Without your influence, my Dovah half would have been dominant. You did not let the darkness surrounding you overcome your beautiful nature and seemingly infinite compassion. Without the example, you set we would still have reached this exact point, but I would not be somebody you could love. So, I thank you, and you should know with no uncertainty, I love you.”
“Wulf, can you take me home now?”
“Yes, but first, the downside. We both need to be surrounded by security. Get used to it, and please, don’t make escorts feel like a burden. We have good friends, The Sentinels, to do it for now. However, they deserve to get on with their own lives if they wish. That means we might have to recruit others, and you should have a say on who becomes our guards.”
Rigmor and I walked to the top of the stairs, removing ourselves from the vomit and a slightly not alive Sethius. Then I summoned The Sentinels who had accompanied and fought beside Rigmor from Quintus’ camp to The Imperial City.
Inigo asked, “My friend, is that the Emperor over there?”
“Yes, that was Emperor Sethius.”
“I heard he was short, but I thought he would be at least a head taller!”
“He attacked me during a parley. He is dead, and I am now The Emperor.”
“Yes, the news reached Quintus and his soldiers very quickly. There was great cheering from all except Count Assclown and his grumpy Thalmor friends.”
“I don’t think this was the outcome he was expecting. How sad that I made the Thalmor sad.”
Inigo chuckled then said, “Oh, I see Sethius’ head landed in the middle of a red diamond. Well done, my friend, you deserve extra points!”
“Alas, the only thing they gave me was an Empire.”
I turned to Jordis, who was sitting on The Ruby Throne.
“Nope. This throne is not comfortable at all!”
“Try being the Empress. Issue an order.”
“Inigo grabbed and ate the last piece of bacon this morning as I reached for it. Off with his head!”
“Yeah, I could get used to that.”
Celestine teleported to Bruma with the news we would be back in a few hours. She told them we had won the war but did not tell them about the parley or new Emperor. She zapped back then we exited The White-Gold Tower.
We made our way through the city. It was coming back to life slowly as fear rescinded. Sethius was dead, and The Dragonborn was Emperor! Nobody took much notice of some soldiers even though one of them was wearing the armour of Bruma. A few could be overheard passing on the gossip.
We headed for a small hill where I summoned Bostin.
On deck, I looked over to the White-Gold Tower.
Inigo asked, “When can we climb to the top?”
“I will return in a day or so. We shall go there together.”
Rigmor was exhausted and went inside the cabin to sleep. I decided to fly Bostin manually to Bruma. It gave me time to think.
It was dark by the time I moored the airship inside Bruma. The Sentinels gladly joined their comrades while Rigmor and I headed for The Cabinet Room.
Rigmor suddenly stopped and said, “Wulf, please, wait!”
I turned to face her and asked, “Yes, Rigmor. What is it?”
“What are we going to tell my Mom?”
“We can’t just go in there and say, ‘Hey Mom, guess what, I’m pregnant with Wulf’s baby!’”
“Are you ashamed? Because I am proud and excited and can’t wait to let the world know I am expecting a child with my soul mate!”
“Ah, I’m just worried, I guess.”
“My mother’s first child was born out of wedlock. I am pretty sure I was conceived and born out of wedlock. Martin Septim was born out of wedlock. The only place bastards seem to be an issue is in ‘Civilised Cyrodiil’. We tell Sigunn the truth, and I ask for her blessing. Then I propose, and you say yes and then we have your dream white wedding. Simple.”
“It seems like a lifetime ago when we argued outside the Cathedral.”
“I thought I had lost you to somebody not deserving of your love. I was terrified, Rigmor.”
“Robere will be executed, won’t he?”
“Yes, and I will watch. I will watch all three Counts executions as well. Robere will be executed for crimes against Sethius, not for what he did to you, to us.”
“Okay, let’s go then.”
We made our way into the castle and through the main hall. Every guard greeted Rigmor with a smile and hearty welcome.
She was beaming by the time we reached The Cabinet Room, and as expected, familiar faces were gathered around the table.
Sigunn leapt from her seat with a heartfelt “Rigmor!”
Rigmor replied with “Mom!” They embraced in a rib-cracking hug.
Malesam said, “Aaaah, Celestine informed us of Leyawiin’s defeat. There seems to be some confusion as to the outcome of the… aah yes, the war.”
Rigmor disentangled herself from Sigunn’s embrace and replied, “We went to parley at the Emperor’s request. He, the Emperor, attacked Wulf.”
Sigunn exclaimed, “Oh, the gods, what happened?”
Malesam said, “I think it’s obvious. I take it thing’s didn’t end well for Sethius?”
Rigmor announced, “Wulf cut his head off and is now Emperor of The Empire.”
Gasps all around and stunned silence for a few seconds before Freathof said, “Your most Imperial Royal Majesty!”
Rigmor explained, “There will be a coronation after Blackwell makes the necessary arrangements. Come on, let us all sit down.”
We took our places at the table with me at the head. I felt awkward doing so in Sigunn’s castle, but it was protocol, and I would have insulted her if I protested.
We sat with Malesam, Rigmor and Cerys to my left.
Sigunn and Freathof sat to my right.
- Malesam: Forgive me, Your Majesty, but this has come as a bit of a shock.
- Rigmor: Pfft, you got that right!
- Freathof: Indeed, but what about you, My Lady?
- Rigmor: I will be the High Queen of Cyrodiil. It seems there was something to that prophecy, after all, Freathof. Bruma is to become a Royal City. Nothing much needs to change here, apart from my name pfft.
- Freathof: Change your name, child? What do you mean?
- Rigmor: To legitimise my claim to the crown, Lord Chancellor Blackwell wants me to change my name to ‘Rigmor Mede’ before the coronation. Wulf says Rigmor Ragnarsdottier will be recorded in the official documents with the Mede name marked as an alias.
- Malesam: Might I make a small suggestion? As you know, Cerys and I, and his Majesty, of course, have worked tirelessly to protect and serve Rigmor as a descendant of Morgan of Winterhold as per the writ issued to the College by Titus Mede I.
- Rigmor: Your point?
- Malesam: Morgan, as you know, was the first child of Titus Mede I. You could respect that fact and her memory by temporarily assuming the name of ‘Rigmor Morgan-Mede.’ It also has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
- Rigmor: Thanks, Malesam, yanno, I really like that.
- Wulf: Sigunn will become the Countess of Bruma as Rigmor can’t remain in that position when High Queen. That is in accord with unwritten Cyrodiil protocols. I will have to hand back my various Thane titles in Skyrim. The Counts of Cheydinhal and Chorrol are imprisoned and awaiting trial for High Treason. Robere de Medalius will be transported to The Imperial City to join his father, Bruce de Medalius, in prison. They will stand trial for High Treason and Sedition. They will also be tried for the murder of Leyawiin’s civilians and wanton destruction of Imperial property.
- Malesam: Who will govern the Counties?
- Wulf: For now, the wives of the accused will govern Cheydinhal and Chorrol. If they are widowed, they will most likely be permanently appointed as Countesses.
- Rigmor: We will offer the position of Count of Leyawiin to Casius Varon.
- Wulf: Malesam and Cerys, Tolfdir will now be Arch-Mage of the College. We are still deciding what to do with The New Imperial Army. Some will be offered a chance to join the Imperial Legion or county garrisons. Those who fought for Bruce de Medalius and his cartel have been declared outlaws.
- Malesam: All of that is important news, Your Majesty, but I don’t understand how all this will work out. If Rigmor is the High Queen of Cyrodiil, you must be the Emperor and the High King?
- Wulf: Not so. A king or queen rules a country or province. A high king or queen rules over a country or province consisting of several kingdoms. An emperor or empress rules over several countries that, in turn, have high kings or queens or just kings and queens.
- Cerys: What if you were to marry?
- Wulf: Before we marry, I intend to abolish the Coverture laws. But even if they were in place, Rigmor would become Consort to The Emperor. I would be Consort to The High Queen of Cyrodiil. Consorts do not gain any right to govern via marriage. Sethius had to give Morag the rights she abused.
- Rigmor: Wulf will have the last say, as he is Emperor. But I will have Empress’ powers when he is away or otherwise indisposed.
- Freathof: What of the prophecy child, are you…?
Rigmor stood and said to Sigunn, “Mom, we need to talk.”
Sigunn could hear the worry in Rigmor’s voice and asked her, “Rigmor, what is it, is there something wrong?”
Rigmor replied, “No, there is nothing wrong, but please, let us talk in private.”
We waited till mother and daughter had left the room before continuing the conversation;
- Malesam: We have had reports from various mages, but can you tell us precisely what happened, Your Majesty?
- Wulf: Short version is some Thalmor joined our ranks, and together we fought our way to, inside and through Table Mountain. Morag tried to control me with her mind, which even gods have failed to do. I used The Voice on her and sent her flying. Sorella destroyed the Soul Gem, there was an explosion, and Morag appeared out of the flames. The Bridge of Sighs was no longer keeping her young, so she looked like a wrinkly old hag. Molag Bal sacrificed Morag to add to the energy of the destroyed Bridge of Sighs.
- Malesam: And my mistress?
- Wulf: The destruction of the soul gem released a massive amount of Magicka. This Magicka created an energy beam that tore a small hole in the Liminal Barrier. Molag Bal used that hole to open three Oblivion Gates, then stepped into Mundus and threatened to drink from my skull.
- Malesam: My word…
- Wulf: I am rather fond of my skull, so used Boethia’s Browneye to summon Boethia. Together we fought Molag and his minions. I hit Molag on the knee with Scourge when I had the chance, and Molag Bal was returned to Coldharbour, and the Oblivion Gates were destroyed. Boethia was, as expected, truthful about the requirements of the summoning. When one of the components, another Daedric Prince, was no longer present, the summoning ended, and she also returned to Oblivion.
- Freathof: The Dragonborn and Boethia vs Molag Bal and his minions. Who would ever conceive of such an epic event?
- Cerys: We were told that you were cursed by Molag Bal and saved by an ancient vampire.
- Wulf: Yes, Valerica and other vampires discussed my condition and came up with a spell to counter Molag Bal’s. Valerica is a powerful Daughter of Coldharbour and Serana’s mother. It took twelve days to find my way back from The Void. I rejoined Rigmor and the others for the final push to the Imperial City.
- Malesam: You mentioned The Thalmor?
- Wulf: They were sent by The Elder Council and other dignitaries. Their leader was Count Camaeus.
- Malesam: I know him. Of course, I haven’t been back to the isles for many years, but the family is well known. Lillandril, I think, yes… that is where his family hails from. Very well respected.
Malesam looked startled when I issued a loud royal raspberry to that claim. Cerys giggled, but the frivolity was short-lived. Freathof stunned me with the question, “What about the Red Diamond? Did you pick it up?”
No matter how knowledgeable Freathof is, there is no way he would know of the diamond. I smelt more immortal intervention.
- Wulf: I knew about a Black Diamond. How do you know about a Red Diamond, and what connection does it have with the Bridge of Sighs?
- Freathof: Jonte was telling us about… oh.
- Malesam: Aaaah, yes. If the soul gem were allowed to reach its zenith, destroying itself, it would indeed have caused the hole and the subsequent Oblivion Gates. It would also have left behind a Black Diamond.
- Wulf: There is no way Sethri would have read about this or figured it out himself! The Bridge of Sighs was unique, and there would be no books or manuscripts containing this knowledge as it has never occurred before. Not a single mage in the entire College of Winterhold suggested this possibility. Azura may have been told by Molag Bal or figured it out herself and passed that knowledge onto Sethri.
- Freathof: Did you not suspect a Red Diamond would be created, Your Majesty?
- Wulf: I speculated that if allowed to reach its summit, the Bridge of Sighs would have not only created a hole in the Liminal Barrier but a Black Diamond as well. Because it was destroyed before reaching its summit, I assume that a Red Diamond was created instead. Morag hinted at the creation of the Black Diamond. She did not mention the creation of a Red Diamond.
- Malesam: Did Morag tell you for what purposes the Black Diamond could be used?
- Wulf: Morag didn’t understand how the Liminal Barrier works, so what she claimed made no sense metaphysically, tactically or logically. She talked of outcomes that required a new Amulet of Kings using the Black Diamond in place of the Chim-el Adabal.
- Malesam: An Amulet of Kings made from the Black Diamond would have been able to reverse the sacrifice of Martin Septim. It would allow Daedra to pass into the mortal world along with Coldharbour and banish the gods.
- Wulf: Cerys, what do you think?
- Cerys: Father, that is not how the Liminal Barrier works!
- Wulf: When the Dragonfires were extinguished, and Mehrunes Dagon manifested on Nirn, Lord Akatosh could only use an avatar or aspect of himself to battle the Dark Lord! The Aedra have not been able to manifest on Nirn since The Convention! The Liminal Barrier, both the one that relied on the Dragonfires and the one created by Martin’s Sacrifice, do not allow the Aedra to manifest on the Mortal Plane. It is one of the sacrifices made by the et-Ada who created Mundus and Nirn. They cannot physically visit the thing they created!
- Cerys: The Liminal Barrier is designed to stop Daedric Lords from manifesting on Nirn. It does not allow Aedra, including The Divines, to manifest on Nirn.
- Wulf: For thousands of years, the Dark Lords could wreak havoc on Nirn while the Aedra could do little to stop them. Lord Akatosh’s Covenant with Saint Alessia was made at her request to stop this travesty. The Liminal Barrier made the influence of the Daedra equal to that of the Aedra. It did not give an advantage to the Aedra.
- Cerys: This is fundamental metaphysics, and anybody dealing with gods should know this!
- Wulf: Coldharbour is a realm within the plane of existence called Oblivion. It cannot exist within Mundus, another plane of existence! So that was wrong as well!
- Cerys: I can’t believe you didn’t know that, Father!
- Wulf: I dread to ask. What do you think an Amulet of Kings made from the Red Diamond will do?
- Malesam: An amulet made with the Red Diamond? We are not entirely sure.
- Freathof: Only the Chosen One could wear it. Whether the diamond was black or red makes no difference, but we can assume it could be used to relight the Dragonfires, resulting in many outcomes.
- Wulf: I doubt that I could not wear it. What outcomes do you think are possible?
- Freathof: Banish both the Divines and Daedra from meddling in the affairs of mortals completely. Maybe it could equalise their influence, but at a reduced amount, strengthening the sacrifice of Martin Septim.
- Wulf: I said Morag had no knowledge of the Liminal Barrier and what it does. Both of you are just as ignorant.
- Cerys: Rigmor has talked to me about this on several occasions. The only meddling The Nine do is to keep the Liminal Barrier as it is.
- Wulf: If the Daedric Prince’s stopped trying to break through the Liminal Barrier, The Divines would not need to meddle! And how do they meddle? They ask mortal champions such as myself, The Hero of Kvatch, The Forgotten Hero, The Vestige, plus others, including Rigmor, to do work upon Nirn that they can’t do. If The Divines could manifest on Nirn, why did they send me to fight Molag Bal? If The Divines could battle The Dark Lords in Oblivion, I wouldn’t have had to travel through it several times at tremendous danger to myself!
Malesam and Freathof looked embarrassed, and so they should. But there was no anger in my voice, just frustration at the fundamental lack of knowledge of those who advised Rigmor.
- Wulf: Freathof, which god was responsible for the greed of Bruce de Medalius and those who supported him? Which god was responsible for the Skyrim Civil War or The Great War? Which god is responsible for the bandits, pirates and raiders of this world?
- Freathof: None.
- Wulf: Correct, so how would stopping all gods from having any influence make the slightest bit of difference to the evils of this world?
- Freathof: It wouldn’t.
- Wulf: I will say this one last time, and you two had better understand it. If the Daedric Lords stopped trying to break the Liminal Barrier, The Divines would not have to meddle. Do you understand, Malesam?
- Malesam: Yes, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: Do you understand, Freathof?
- Freathof: Yes, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: If The Divines did not meddle, then Mundus and Nirn would be destroyed or all mortals killed or enslaved. Do you understand, Malesam?
- Malesam: Yes, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: Do you understand, Freathof?
- Freathof: Yes, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: Also understand this, Malesam. There are things about the Red Diamond that I suspect. But I will not mention them in front of you as Boethia could use that knowledge to try and break the Liminal Barrier. Who knows what she mines from your mind when you contact her? So intentional or not, you could be spying for an enemy of The Nine.
- Malesam: You must do what is best for The Empire.
- Wulf: No, I must do what is best for all mortals.
- Freathof: You didn’t recover the Red Diamond. But that doesn’t matter as without the fulfilment of The Alessian Prophecy, it would be useless. And we have talked about that before, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: Rigmor is pregnant with our daughter, Kintyra, The Chosen One.
Freathof almost exploded as he yelled, “By the gods! Majesty!”
Cerys immediately stood and left the room. She would find Rigmor and provide support if needed. I waited till the door closed behind her before continuing.
- Wulf: Not by the gods, Freathof. Two individuals deeply in love and whose souls are entwined for eternity expressed their love physically. This lovemaking is precisely what Lady Mara and Lady Dibella teach and approve. Nowhere in the teachings of The Divines is marriage a prerequisite to motherhood!
- Malesam: Well, that’s all rather inconvenient. What happens next?
- Wulf: Inconvenient? Why is that, Malesam? Do you think Rigmor being pregnant makes the slightest difference to her ability to be Queen or be accepted by the people? It does not! What was Morgan? Wife or lover or beloved? Rigmor’s line derives from a child born out of wedlock. Saint Alessia had two children out of wedlock, although the history books only list one at the moment. It is not an inconvenience. It is something to cherish and celebrate!
- Malesam: Ahhh… umm…
- Wulf: Rigmor and I have planned to marry and have children for years. I will ask Sigunn for her blessing so I can propose to Rigmor. We will marry not to protect Rigmor’s reputation or legitimise the child in any way. Neither are necessary except in the minds of those who have no right to judge others. I will marry Rigmor because we love each other. Understand?
- Malesam: Yes, Your Majesty.
- Freathof: No one needs to know Lady Rigmor is pregnant before the wedding. We keep this to ourselves.
- Wulf: Did you not just hear what I said? Why would we hide the fact except to cater for those whose narrow opinions are outdated and not supported by any pantheon of gods, including The Nine! For the last fucking time, a child out of wedlock is not inconvenient, not embarrassing and not a slur on a woman’s morals! So once again, I ask, do you understand, Freathof?
- Freathof: Yes, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: By now, The Elder Council will know. As will the Dominion leadership. Soldiers who campaigned with us would know. Soldiers gossip, so the news would have grown exponentially and will be doing the rounds in the inns and taverns of Nirn. Few people would go “Tsk Tsk”. Most would not care or would rejoice as the news of any expectant mother is good news.
- Freathof: Your Majesty, does lady Rigmor know what fate awaits her?
- Wulf: Yes, and it is not what you think.
Before I explained further, Rigmor entered The Cabinet Room and walked over to me.
“Yes, my Queen. Do you need something?”
“No, I just came to tell you I am going to the Cathedral to gather my thoughts for a little while. Maybe, I dunno, find some solace. When you are done here, will you come and see me?”
“Yes, of course. I shouldn’t be much longer.”
There was no smile. After a couple of hours in Bruma, Rigmor has reverted to her unsure, sad persona. It is like Bruma sucks the real Rigmor out of her body and sticks it in a cupboard somewhere.
I waited for Rigmor to be out of earshot before continuing the conversation.
- Malesam: Poor girl.
- Wulf: Rigmor is a woman long past the girl stage. But she has had to put up with a lot recently.
- Malesam: Master Freathof, please tell me, what fate awaits Rigmor?
- Freathof: Your Majesty?
- Wulf: Our daughter, Kintyra, will be a Dragonchild. Kintyra will carry Lord Akatosh’s blessings during gestation. This is different from a Dragonborn, where Lord Akatosh’s blessings are given sometime after birth. According to Freathof’s interpretation of The Alessian Prophecy, no mortal woman had ever birthed a Dragonchild and survived.
- Malesam: Well, no wonder the poor girl needs to find solace!
- Wulf: Freathof’s interpretation of the prophecy was flawed in many places. Rigmor was never in danger from birthing a Dragonchild. Several Divines have told me so.
- Freathof: What? How?
- Wulf: Freathof, you implied my mother died giving birth to me. For a start, I was not a Dragonchild but received Lord Akatosh’s blessing at eight years of age. Not only that, my mother is not a mortal. She is Saint Alessia, and my father is Tiber Septim. Before my coronation, Blackwell will obtain proof of this claim from Priests and Priestesses of many gods, not just The Divines.
- Freathof: But Rigmor is not a god even if your mother was!
- Wulf: No mortal woman has EVER given birth to a Dragonchild. So, you could argue no mortal woman has survived such childbirth. But Talos and Lady Mara have assured Rigmor and me that she is in no danger because our daughter is a Dragonchild.
- Malesam: Your Majesty, let us hope the gods keep their word, for all our sakes.
- Wulf: Are you implying The Divines lie?
- Malesam: No, ahh, no…of course not, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: If I ever hear you say such a thing, I will tie you up and stick you on the next ship to Alinor. And again, because these are verbal agreements, I ask you, Malesam, do you understand?
- Malesam: Yes, Your Majesty.
- Wulf: Good. When you insult The Divines, you insult my father and me.
- Malesam: In the meantime, I’ll send that ruffian, that scoundrel, that rapscallion Jimmy Ten Fingers to search Nagasel for the diamond. It should still be there unless….
- Wulf: That has to be the stupidest thing you have ever said! You want to send a frail two-bit crook across the breadth of Cyrodiil after the New Imperials have fled who knows where and through Raider territory? Then he is to enter a place of death that is probably full of Thalmor if not tomb raiders by now. This frail old man, who didn’t even own a pair of shoes till recently, is to survive all that and retrieve the most powerful and probably the most valuable artefact currently on Nirn. The obtaining of which requires much climbing and swimming in freezing water. You planned to put all of this stupidity into action without asking your Emperor’s permission!
- Freathof: I have to agree with His Imperial Majesty on this one. That was not your finest moment, Malesam.
- Malesam: Then who will you send to retrieve the Red Diamond, Your Majesty?
- Wulf: I will go.
- Malesam: Your Majesty, we couldn’t allow it. You are far too important a person to risk yourself where bottom crawlers might be lurking.
- Freathof: Uh oh!
- Wulf: For a start, I have not appointed you as an advisor. Secondly, if you were my advisor, do you think you would have the authority to tell me what I can and can’t do?
- Malesam: Oh…umm.
- Wulf: Forget it. Listen, gentlemen. You two have good brains and can more than likely be of service to Rigmor and me in our new roles. But it would be best if you thought about what you say before your mouth flaps nonsense. If you are going to speculate, then present things as theories, not facts. I have said before, utilise the resources around you. Once again, Malesam, you did not confer with Cerys or the other mages on matters pertaining to magic.
- Malesam: No, and I am sure Cerys will tell me off once more.
- Wulf: One thing you did say of interest was the name of Tabletop Mountain. Nagasel is Ayleidoon for Hall of Death. A famous dagger, The Fae Crystalline, was given the shorter name of Nagasel due to its ability to store an almost infinite number of souls. It was like the ultimate Black Soul Gem. Now I have a name, and I can research the place. There is something peculiar about Nagasel. Ayleid ruins with a statue of Lord Akatosh out front and a Tree of Life in the middle of Morag’s nest do not make sense.
- Freathof: I have done some research on Nagasel.
- Wulf: Then I may ask some questions, but first, I have a task to do and then attend to Rigmor.
I left the table and headed for Sigunn’s room. I hope they listened, and from now on, they provide the support of which I know they are capable. It was a bit of a shock to find The Emperor sitting at the same table. However, suggesting the sending of Jimmy to get the Red Diamond was not Malesam’s finest moment. As for their weird values when it comes to women and out of wedlock birth? They are victims of the environments in which they grew.
As I approached Sigunn’s door, I felt something rarely experienced. Foreboding and fear! What if she is angry at me for getting her little girl pregnant? What if she thinks that I am a lowlife for doing so and refuses her blessing? I would rather face two Alduin’s!
I knocked on Sigunn’s door and was invited in. When I opened the door I was relieved to see Cerys there. If I have to, I can hide behind her! But then again, she would probably join in with the abuse.
I approached my, hopefully, future mother in law.
“Sigunn, I need to ask you something important.”
Cerys said, “I’ll leave both of you alone and wait outside.”
I watched as Cerys left the room.
The door closed, then Sigunn startled me, “Wulf, I mean, Your Majesty, please, sit down.”
I sat down, and looking for anything to delay the tricky bit, I said, “Please, in private, call me Wulf. Titles are for when we are in public. Protocol and all that.”
Sigunn laughed. Or was it an evil cackle? Damn mind, leave me alone! It is only Sigunn.
“Oh, ahh, it is about Rigmor and me. You see, we have always been close. More so recently. Some may even say too close. Haha. Umm…and I….”
“Come on, Wulf. You can do it!”
“Well, I would like to marry your daughter, and not because I put a bun in the oven. Oh…that was not appropriate, was it?”
Sigunn was enjoying this. Just like a cat will play with a mouse before tearing it apart and devouring it!
“As I announced a while ago when I stood up and grumbled at everybody, Rigmor and I are deeply in love and have been for years. So, Sigunn, I would like to marry Rigmor and seek your blessing.”
“I remember when you first rescued me, and then Rigmor was captured. You asked me for stories about Rigmor’s childhood. As I told you them, your tears flowed. Then you ran and fell asleep on Rigmor’s bed. But sleep did not come to you until after heart-rending sobs heard by all. It must have been hard for both of you when you were lost for three years. We did not support Rigmor as we should have and did not realise the reason for her unhappiness. Rigmor was so happy when we moved here, and that was because you were still in her life.
She is pregnant before marriage. It is not as uncommon within nobility as people think, and it matters not to me.
What I have always wanted is the best for her, and because of you, we can now live normal, happy lives.”
“Yes, Wulf, apart from the fact you are both going to be running The Empire.”
“Yeah, I thought you might have missed that minor point.”
“Your love for each other is tangible. It is in the way you look at her and the way she returns your gaze. It is in the tones of your voices when conversing with each other. It is a strong love that can survive the most terrible of circumstances.”
“Gods are in awe of our love, Sigunn.”
“You are, and always will be, part of our family. So, for the reasons mentioned, you both have my blessings for your marriage.”
“Thank you, Sigunn. That does mean a lot to me.”
“This is so exciting! Have you decided where you will get married?”
“Rigmor has always dreamt of getting married in Bruma’s Cathedral. So that is where it shall be with only people important to us invited. There will be no freeloaders who have just come for the food and cake!”
“That is so lovely. We can hold the banquet and celebrations afterwards here at the castle.”
“There is quite a lot of preparation to be done right, or Rigmor will never forgive me.”
“It is a pity Ragnar isn’t here to give her away. He would be so very proud of you both.”
“He was a great man, Sigunn. His approval of me would be the icing on the cake. But who do we ask to walk Rigmor down the aisle? We both know the logical answer to that, which is an honour he deserves. Rigmor owes him much, and so do I.”
“Don’t worry, leave him to me. He will be thrilled. Now go, make sure you choose the right dress, the best places are at the Imperial City. She will also need a veil and tiara.”
“Another back to front tradition. A Skyrim bride would not let their fiancée anywhere near such a decision!”
“Who is to be your man of honour?”
“I have so many good friends, but Inigo is my choice. Imagine that, Khajiit with places of honour at such an event. Some Nords in Skyrim would choke on their mead!”
“Please don’t invite that obnoxious elf.”
“Don’t worry, Sigunn. I can assure you, if he does come to the wedding, he will be on his best behaviour.”
“Then go with my blessings, and I look forward to the day Rigmor’s wish is fulfilled.”
“Thank you again, Sigunn. This means so much to me.”
To Sigunn’s surprise, I gave her a deep bow before leaving the room.
I walked over to Cerys.
“Look, I still have all my limbs, and there are no stab wounds!”
“Lady Sigunn’s fears for Rigmor and the child would have lessened after you honoured her by asking for her blessing.”
“You weren’t listening in, were you?”
“Of course not! Rigmor tells me everything, so I knew that is why you wanted to see Lady Sigunn.”
“Yes, everything. Rigmor even has to draw diagrams sometimes. You are very athletic.”
“Oh, I forgot who you are, Your Majesty.”
“I have only just got you lot calling me Wulf instead of Dragonborn or Guardian. So please, Cerys, continue to call me Wulf when not in public.”
“If you so desire, Your Majesty. May I assist you with preparations for the marriage?”
“Well, we figured out how to make babies already. But I am a bit stumped about what kind of dress Rigmor would like. I don’t think a red one would be suitable.”
“Oh, please, let me help. I know exactly the dress RIgmor would want to wear at the ceremony.”
“Is it easy to remove?”
“Aha. Gotcha back.”
“I have to travel to the Imperial City to speak to Blackwell, so it is not much of a detour to pick up the dress.”
“Yes, you are to do all that Lady in Waiting stuff. Thank you, Cerys, that would be of tremendous help and probably save your new Emperor from being murdered by his Queen.”
“Do you have a ring in mind?”
“I will probably try and find something to match the ring that Lady Mara gave her.”
“Oh, I thought that was a present from you. It is gorgeous!”
“Lady Sigunn will be Countess, not just part-time. With your duties as Lady in Waiting to Rigmor, I worry what support Lady Sigunn will have.”
“Yes, Lady Sigunn might not show it, but with all that has happened lately, it has taken a toll on her.”
“I can imagine. Being in charge of a city under siege couldn’t have been easy. If you have any suggestions on who we might be able to bring in to help, can you please discuss them with Lady Sigunn and Rigmor?”
“Of course. How about you, Wulf? How are you coping with all that has happened recently?”
“My life has been like this for years, and I am used to it. However, Rigmor is struggling. Therefore, I am off to see her in the Cathedral.”
“About Father and Freathof….”
“Don’t worry, Cerys. I told them both they can be of service, but they must think and ask and not put forward theories as facts.”
“Father does try hard.”
“Yes, and believe it or not, and don’t you dare tell him, I am quite fond of him. He is like an embarrassing uncle at a party. He is always good for a laugh if somewhat cringeworthy.”
“Hahaha. Father hardly swears, but you have got him cursing like a sailor!”
“Cerys, I sincerely thank you for all you have done for Rigmor and Sigunn.”
“Shoo, and see to Rigmor, Your Majesty.”
As I headed for the Cathedral, I looked up to the stars and said, “Hello, Mother. You had better warn Father, I have some questions, and I will get him in a headlock until he answers them!”
I entered the Cathedral.
Rigmor was sitting on the exact pew I sat on when I spoke to my father about the prophecy.
I approached, and without looking, she knew it was me. The noise of prophecy and expectations vanished when I was close to her.
“Hey, Wulf, what took you so long?”
I sat where my father had sat and looked at my beloved. It seems that I was right. Bruma has replaced the real Rigmor with one that worries and frets.
I asked her, “Rigmor, are you alright?”
“I was just thinking about… yanno, how we ended up here. It is strange because all that we just went through just seems like…ahh, I dunno, a long time ago.”
I listened as Rigmor needed to express whatever was disturbing her. I guessed she did not have the same faith in the promises of The Divines as I did. That means she also has no faith in me, or she would trust what I say.
“I came here because it might help stop the thoughts in my head from just racing around and around. But it just keeps going on and on, all this noise. And it won’t stop, Wulf, it won’t stop.”
“You do not mean the noise that we block out by being close like this? Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not that noise. My thoughts. My internal voices. Hah, it’s not like you haven’t probably got the same thing happening to you, right. And here I am going on as if I’m the only one in the world with some kind of Divine burden.”
“Rigmor, we share the same burden. As for those nagging thoughts, I took my father’s advice when he sat right here, and I sat where you are. He told me, ‘When you carry the loads of others as well as your own, The Nine shall help carry your burden.’ It meant I needed to trust in The Divines more than I had, and I have, and it helps. But I realise your faith is not as strong as mine.”
“I came here because I thought that if I prayed and asked for mercy, then maybe The Divines might let me live.”
“Rigmor, you heard what Lady Mara said and felt her love. The Divines do not lie! I wish I could gift you my trust in The Divines and Saint Alessia. You must be terrified.”
“Wulf, I don’t want to die!”
“Do you think I would sit here quietly if I thought that would happen? You are not going to die. Everything is going to be okay. Even your short time with Allie instilled you with a sense of love from my Mother.”
“Okay? Shall we ask them! I mean, they’re all here, right?”
Rigmor stood, and I could tell by her confrontational tone it would be similar to the breakdown at her childhood den.
I silently prayed, “Father, please, give Rigmor the faith she needs to carry the burden The Nine have placed upon her.”
Rigmor faced the shrine and window of Lord Zenithar.
“Hey! Yes, you! Gods! Here I am, your Chosen Queen. Rigmor Morgan-Mede, High Queen of Cyrodiil.”
Rigmor moved to the central font and faced the shrine and window of Lord Akatosh.
“Here I am, right here, so don’t be shy! I dare you to show your faces here! What are you afraid of? Why won’t you show yourselves?”
She moved back to face Zenithar, and her voice became shriller. I was afraid for our child and us if Rigmor did not get an answer to her pleas before she hit the peak of despair towards which she spiralled.
I prayed to my parents, “Mother, Father, Rigmor needs your help! Why remain silent in this temple where the devout come to pray? Where you, Father, have aided me. Surely you can help my beloved now? Help her now or lose us both. Rigmor will be broken, and I will not forgive you.”
As I prayed, I knew what Rigmor was saying and doing.
In front of Zenithar once again, she growled, “Haven’t you taken enough? My childhood, my future, and now you want to take my life! I want to live! I won’t let you take my baby! I won’t let you mess up her life like you did mine! She never asked for any of this!”
Rigmor slowly transitioned back to face Akatosh. It hurt to realise she did not believe me or trust me and is suddenly blaming The Divines for things they did not do! Rigmor has lost faith in me as The Divines have. Otherwise, she would not have to do this. She could end up never believing The Divines or me. Then what? Then I would become what The Divines fear. If they do not help, perhaps a Daedric Prince might. If it eases the pain that Rigmor is suffering, then fuck the rest of Nirn. My Dovah was stirring.
Rigmor snarled, “Come on, you cowards! Where are you hiding? Are you afraid of me?”
Rigmor’s fury was giving way to despair. Exactly like outside the den. I decided that Rigmor needed me, not my Dovah, so I fought hard to keep him at bay. Lord Akatosh had better do something, or I would unleash his gift on his sacred ground. My beloved was hurting because she had lost faith in me. Why believe me when even The Divines have lost faith in their creation? A creature who can’t even be trusted with the Red Diamond.
I stared at my beloved as she started to beg. Gone was her anger. I ached to hold her and tell her all was okay, but I couldn’t lie to her anymore. It was all a lie.
Rigmor was reduced to pitiful sobs in between words, “I only wanted to live a normal life…I…don’t want to die.”
I was about to join Rigmor in despair after she cried out, “I don’t want to die!”
I had to briefly close my eyes as a Divine light shone from the window of Akatosh and enveloped my beloved.
My curious mind immediately noticed the light emanated from the window, but Rigmor’s shadow was that of a midday sun. Why is that important? It is not. It just stopped the toxic thoughts that consumed me seconds earlier. I concentrated on my Queen and listened with fascination.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“But I’m scared.”
“Yes, I understand.”
“I love him.”
“I think I already knew that.”
The light vanished, and Rigmor turned towards me. The transformation was astounding.
She looked happy and at peace as I hurried over to her.
Rigmor smiled then said, with utmost conviction, “It’s alright, Wulf! Everything is going to be alright!”
“Did you see a vision of Lord Akatosh?”
I gave her time to transfer into words what must have been the most unusual experience for her. After a while, I asked, “Rigmor, did Lord Akatosh just speak to you?”
“What? I can’t explain it… I….”
This time I waited as the questions were not registering. Rigmor would tell me in her own time and words.
After a few seconds of staring into infinity, Rigmor told me, “I was filled with a sense of overwhelming love and that everything was going to be alright and not to worry. But there was also something else, I could feel sorrow, no, more like remorse. I felt a deep sadness, Wulf.”
“I am glad you found the faith I have. I will not lie, Rigmor. It hurts that once again, my words were not good enough. That you thought I was wrong to trust The Divines and that I would let you die. I can’t blame you, for you have not the fraction of the experiences that I have had and which forged such faith. The Divines lost faith in me, so why not you as well?”
“It happens over and over, Rigmor. We talk and talk, and I think we have an understanding. And then it turns out you don’t believe a word I say. Maybe it is a remnant of when I failed you and died that day at that damn diamond mine. I was lost for three years, then died again when you needed me most at Casius’ camp. Perhaps I am at a loss as to why The Divines have done what they did. Maybe I have lost faith in myself. Don’t let me transfer my inner demons to you. Please, Rigmor, forgive me.”
“No, you are right. I lost faith in all you said, and I have no justification for doing so.”
“It hurts, Rigmor!”
“I am truly sorry, Wulf. And don’t you dare say I never have to say sorry! For this hurt I caused, I do have to say sorry.”
“This moment is about you and our daughter. Not me.”
“What have The Divines done that confuses you?”
“Rigmor, please, let me worry about it for now. Instead, let us contemplate what just happened. Lord Akatosh spoke to you, and, as far as I know, that is the first time he has spoken to a mortal since the Arch-Curate of the Snow Elves lost his faith. That was several thousand years, Rigmor! My Lord Akatosh has blessed you with that gift, and it, above anything else, tells you of your importance to them. The compassion and love were real, Rigmor. No matter how much you wrongly blame them for things that are not their doing, they will accept such blame and understand. They have manipulated us, but it is for the good of all and not out of spite.”
“Hasn’t Lord Akatosh ever talked to you?
“No, I had to talk through his avatar, a huge orange dragon. We freed my mother from The Bridge of Sighs, so I would not be surprised if Saint Alessia threatened him with a kick in the goolies if he didn’t do something.”
Rigmor looked shocked at such irreverence. Then she remembered Allie and who she was. It had the effect I wanted. She laughed, which helped fight the despair that lingered.
Rigmor surprised me when she said, “I heard you praying via our rings, and I know you battled your Dovah for control. Do you think they answered your pleas or mine?”
“I think Lord Akatosh answered your pleas as soon as he could. Even standing before such a fine shrine, it would not have been easy for him to do so. Therefore, I doubt my prayers made any difference.”
“Wulf, it was just another dark moment. I trust you and believe you.”
“Another dark moment brought on hours after returning home. It is like Bruma wipes away the Rigmor I see and hear now with another.”
“We returned to a city that looks barely touched by war. I was so relieved when we flew over it. I have no idea how my people on the farms and small hamlets outside the city have fared, and I dread to ask. As soon as I started to think about that, well, it spiralled into what you saw. Doubts upon doubts.”
“And then I have doubts upon doubts. You think you are difficult sometimes, yet I am sure my random darkness is difficult! We make a fine pair!”
“Wulf, I love you!”
“Rigmor, turn around a bit so that Lord Akatosh’s shrine and window are behind you.”
“Okay, weirdo. Whatever makes you happy!”
Rigmor turned, and I dropped to one knee.
“Wulf, what are you….”
To my surprise, Rigmor shushed.
“My beautiful, wonderful, Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, would you grant me the greatest of honours and marry me?”
“Wulf, I…Yes! Yes, of course, I will marry you, my love!”
I stood and went in for the kiss.
“Oh no, you don’t! You do know, now that you have proposed, we can’t knock boots or even kiss each other until our wedding day? Strictly speaking, we are not supposed to see each other at all.”
“Rigmor, I told Blackwell we will need two weeks to arrange things and for our guests to arrive.”
“Good, you will be eager on our wedding night, and things won’t go droopy droop droop!”
“I do not go droopy droop droop!”
“Have you spoken to my mother?”
“Yes, but Sigunn said, ‘Over my dead body and you should be castrated for molesting my little girl!’”
“No! Why would she do that? She seemed calm and not surprised or disappointed when I told her of my pregnancy.”
I got a well-deserved thump in the right shoulder, which will probably bruise. Not me, as I am wearing plate armour, but Rigmor’s poor hand.
“Rigmor, in truth, I spoke to her, and she has given us her blessing. I found that very moving.”
“You know that I want a white wedding, right. In this cathedral?”
“Yes, don’t worry. I will have everything arranged.”
“Yeah, well, I will need time to choose a dress.”
“In this backwards land, is it not customary for the groom to choose the dress?”
“Are you kidding? Wulf, if I am going to get married, it has to be done right. No, it has to be perfect!”
“Maybe Cerys might help? You can make a trip to The Imperial City aboard Bostin.”
“Rigmor, you must have four Sentinels with you at all times. I suggest you take four of the ladies, including Lydia. They would love to help you shop and chop up any bad people.”
“Yes, I suppose I had better get used to being followed by a squad. Lydia and Celestine and the others are like a family so deserve to be involved.”
Rigmor, with excitement pouring through our rings, almost skipped down the aisle. The aisle where I shall watch my beautiful lady walk down in her wedding finery. Weeping friends and family will be in awe of her, and it will be a most glorious thing.
Rigmor stopped and turned towards me. I walked up to her.
“Yes, Rigmor. Is there something else?”
“Oh, I am so looking forward to the ring!”
“I have no doubt.”
“You do have an idea for the ring, right?”
“Oh, lots of ideas. Just leave it to me.”
“Have you heard of the legend of the White Gold, Diamond and Ruby encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh?”
“Hasn’t everybody? Ah, what merchant can I buy that from?”
“Wulf! Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of the legend of the White Gold, Diamond and Ruby encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh!”
“Oh, that ring. I thought you asked if I had heard the legend of the White Gold, Diamond and Sapphire encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pelvic-Rash! Yes, silly, I have heard of the other one that you mentioned twice and please don’t ask me to repeat it back.”
I had a suspicion that Rigmor knew nothing of this ring before Lord Akatosh got into her head. If there is a legend, Freathof might know of it.
“This is going to be the best wedding ever. I am so excited. You know I love you more than anything, right?”
“Yes, and as I said no more than three minutes ago, I love you too. It is so good to see you happy.”
“So…who’s going to be your second?”
“My Man of Honour will be Inigo.”
“He so deserves it and will be thrilled.”
Rigmor stared at me, and a smile crossed her beautiful face.
“Goodnight, my silly Dragonborn. Who cares about running The Empire? We have a wedding to arrange!”
With that, Rigmor made her way to the door and left me alone with my thoughts.
Rather than risk getting all morose, I left as well.
The last people I expected to see were Malesam and Freathof.
I walked over to them.
- Wulf: Gentlemen, were you looking for me?
- Malesam: Your Majesty, we were just concerned about Lady Rigmor. She did look somewhat worried earlier.
- Wulf: She was worried about our unborn daughter and herself. She sought assurance from The Divines that all would be well with mother and child.
- Freathof: I hope her prayers brought Rigmor some comfort.
- Wulf: Lord Akatosh spoke to her. His shrine lit up, and Rigmor went into a sort of trance. It was quite a spectacle.
- Freathof: Lord Akatosh?
- Wulf: Yes, and as far as I know, he had not spoken to a mortal directly since the days of the Snow Elves. That is how highly The Divines think of our Rigmor.
Just then, the unmistakable giggles and laughter of Rigmor caught my attention.
She had tried to sneak past with Cerys, but they ran laughing like children playing chasey as soon as I spotted them.
- Wulf: As you can see, her mood has lightened somewhat. She now carries her faith in The Nine like a shield against despair. I have been waiting for her to remember the love they give us when we listen. Now she has, and it is both a relief and a wonder!
- Malesam: I never sense love when speaking to my mistress.
- Wulf: Boethia is worshipped by hundreds of millions of Dunmer. They are the only people who do not demonise her/him/them. She must provide some sort of comfort. Has your mistress ever spoken to you as your master?
- Malesam: No, I think she likes to keep the gender constant for each follower. Too confusing otherwise.
- Wulf: Freathof, do you know anything about Pilvi-Hinnesh?
- Freathof: Aha, Majesty, that’s quite a story to tell. Please, may I suggest finding a nice, warm corner inside the Tap&Tack?
- Wulf: Okay. Care to join us, Malesam?
- Malesam: No, sorry, Your Majesty. A warm fire and plate of hot food are calling, and I cannot resist their allure.
- Wulf: Well, goodnight Malesam. I promise I won’t let any bottom crawlers get me.
- Malesam: That, Your Majesty, would be a tragedy.
- Wulf: Hey, Freathof, did you detect an attempt at sarcasm?
- Freathof: Yes, and not bad for a first attempt, Malesam.
- Malesam: Oh, the poor Empire. People have no idea what disaster has befallen it!
- Wulf: Mmm…better. Keep practising.
Malesam smiled as he turned and wandered off to his fire and food. Freathof and I made our way to the Tap&Tack.
Colin asked, “Wulf, what is this rumour about a new Emperor? And please, no scaring the customers with The Voice.”
“It is no rumour, Colin. I am the new Emperor.”
“Hahaha, that is so absurd it’s funny.”
I sat down with Freathof. I waved Colin away as he came over to take our order.
“I must say, Your Majesty, that your life is full of wonders. Speaking to gods, travelling to other planes of existence, seeing things few mortals will ever witness.”
“I would give it all up in a heartbeat if it meant Rigmor and I could enjoy a quiet life on some small farm somewhere. Even wonders start to pale when you are looking over your shoulder all the time. Wondering who is next to try and kill you or those you love. I have had so many assassins try their hand, and that was before I was Emperor.”
“I can’t even begin to imagine such a life, Majesty.”
“But yes, I have seen wonders. The Forgotten Vale where I met the last Snow Elves. The Soul Cairn where the mysterious Ideal Masters deal with mortal and immortal Necromancers for knowledge. Apocrypha is, in essence, an endless realm full of countless books and manuscripts. So many places, and you will be able to read about them all Freathof as the complete set of my journals get published. At the moment, only some of my travels have been printed.”
“I imagine there is a lot that is not general knowledge, Majesty?”
“The average citizen may have difficulty sleeping at night if they knew how often mortals like myself thwart the plans of immortals who would enslave or kill them all. But I have decided people have the right to know. I can’t stand knowledge being hidden for many reasons I will not go into now.”
“So, you wish to know about Pilvi-Hinnesh?”
“Yes, and I hope this proves I do value your advice and knowledge.”
“It is quite a story to tell. I am sure you are aware of this history, but please, Your Majesty, I need to go through it to remember details that may be important.”
“And I will need to say something, or else my head will explode with unexpressed thoughts.”
“This would probably have been better done over wine and cheese.”
“Next time, Freathof.”
“Now then, Pilvi-Hinnesh. She was an Ayleid Princess when the Wild Elves ruled Cyrodiil during the middle Merethic period through to 1E 243.”
“That is when Saint Alessia’s slave revolt took control of the White-Gold Tower and, therefore, the province.”
“Indeed, a famous year in our history. As you know, the Ayleid originally worshipped Aedra, and their main god was Auri-El. But slowly, over time, most Ayleid ended up worshipping the Daedric Princes. Pilvi-Hinnesh remained loyal and devoted to Auri-El and took the last of the Aedra worshipping Ayleid out of Cyrodiil and settled in Hammerfell.”
“That is not the history I know. The last Aedra worshippers fled after they were attacked in what was called The Scouring of Wendelbek. They fled to Black Marsh, not Hammerfell. That was 1E198, before the slave rebellion and marked the end of the war between the Aedra worshippers and Daedra worshippers called the ‘Narfinsel Schism.’”
“That is why this is a legend and not in the history books fed to the masses. You know how that works, Your Majesty.”
“Of course, Freathof. I should stop acting surprised when something is not in the official accounts. Please, continue.”
“Those who fled to Black Marsh were the Barsaebic Ayleid. They were very martial in their defence of their Aedra Gods. I do not know if Pilvi-Hinnesh’s people had a tribal name, but it is assumed they were pacifists and did not partake in the armed conflict. Soon after the end of the Narfinsel Schism, she moved her people out of Cyrodiil and into Hammerfell. There they built a city for themselves away from the insanity of an Ayleid king who was madly in love with Pilvi. It is not recorded which king, and there were still many Ayleid kings then. However, the involvement of Molag Bal suggests it was most likely King Anumaril of Abagarlas.”
“I know of him. He came to a sticky end fighting King Cenedelin of Delodiil, a Meridia worshipper. That is what weakened the Ayleid, so my mother’s slave rebellion had a chance. Daedric Princes and their worshippers tend to turn on each other.”
“As history repeatedly shows, Your Majesty.”
“The Daedric Princes form alliances, break alliances and fight each other constantly. They all have different objectives. Some want to subjugate mortals and live on Nirn as God-Kings. Some want to eliminate all mortals and turn Nirn into a Daedric playground. Some want to obliterate Nirn and Mundus. The Divines work together towards one objective. That objective being Nirn and Mundus continue to exist and that mortals control their destinies. The Nine Divines work as one whilst the seventeen Daedric Princes squabble amongst themselves and never show a united front. The strength of The Nine is what I hope to emulate when preparing for the Akaviri invasion.”
“A mighty undertaking indeed. Petty, self-centred politics are your biggest enemy to achieving that goal.”
“And don’t I know it. It will be a nightmare. Please continue, Freathof.”
“Pilvi and her followers built their city even as the king promised her everything if she would only come back. He even promised to forsake the Daedra if only she would love him.”
“That would be impossible then and an empty promise. There was no barrier to keep the Daedric Princes from exacting retribution, and many had no qualms doing so.”
“Correct, Your Majesty, and that leads onto the fate of Pilvi and her people. The spurned king arrived at the city Pilvi’s people had built, called Nayasel, and tried to win her heart one last time. Even throwing himself at her feet and practically begging for her to return to Cyrodiil with him. When she spurned him this time, he called upon the powers of Molag Bal in his rage.”
“Nayasel is Ayleidoon and means ‘The Hall of Life’”
“Is Ayleidoon a language you can speak and read?”
“Yes, I recently remembered how.”
“Okay, Your Majesty, I am sure that story is more wine and cheese time.”
“It is said Auri-El blessed the very ground Pilvi walked upon. In two nights, Molag Bal buried the city deep beneath the earth. The ground shook and quaked, and it is said tremors could be felt as far away as Morrowind.”
“Molag Bal has snatched entire cities before and transported them to Coldharbour. Sinking Nayasel would not have involved much of an effort, I should think!”
“And you hit him with a mace!”
“He can’t hate me any more than some of the other Daedric Princes. I am still alive, which shows how people need not fear them if they refuse to obey or cower. Mortal assassins may be sent to punish you, but that is the same when I upset mortals. Please, continue.”
“Nayasel, the ‘Hall of Life’ was buried, forever gone from this world and as a last deranged act of madness, the king built another city on top of it. He called the new city ‘Nagasel’. The ‘Hall Of Death’”
“It looks like my trip to Nagasel might have a dual purpose.”
“Please explain, Your Majesty.”
“I need to find Pilvi-Hinnesh’s ring. Rigmor suddenly wants it for her wedding ring, but I suspect Lord Akatosh also wants me to find it. Normally I would be given a ‘Divine Task’, but for some reason, he got Rigmor to ask me for it.”
“I have never taught Rigmor about the legend of The White Gold, Diamond and Ruby encrusted ring of the lost Ayleid Princess Pilvi-Hinnesh. It is not in standard texts. An archaeologist or treasure seeker might find reference to it buried amongst dusty esoteric tomes of an ancient library. I spend most of my spare time digging through such dusty tomes. In the pursuit of knowledge, of course, as I am not one to risk my life in ancient crypts and buried cities.”
“Freathof, I will give you full access to The Imperial Library, The Arcanaeum of The College of Winterhold, my museum in Solitude and The Elder Scroll Library.”
“I will need obscure research conducted from time to time. It is always advantageous to have parallel teams of researchers. But only if you want to be chest-deep in dusty, esoteric tomes.”
“I would probably never see the light of day!”
“Thank you, Freathof, you have been most helpful. I embark on my journey in a few hours.”
“Good night, Your Majesty.”
As I stood to walk out, a local came running in and yelled to Colin, “Our Rigmor is going to be the High Queen of Cyrodiil, and she is going to marry The Dragonborn, who is our new Emperor, because he cut off Sethius’ head!”
Colin looked at me with his mouth wide open. I just laughed and left.
I thought I would wander past Rigmor’s house on the way to the keep. I could hear lots of laughter from inside, including Lydia’s unmistakable donkey heehaws.
I visited the prison, borrowed the key from the jailor and entered Robere’s cell. He was finishing his supper.
“Robere de Medalius, you will be escorted to the Imperial City on the morrow. There, you will face two trials. The first will be for the murder of half the population of Leyawiin and the destruction of much of its infrastructure. Sethius had not yet been accepted as Emperor and issued no pardon after. There would be no charges if you and your father had merely conquered Leyawiin. But you systematically slaughtered captured civilians and burnt buildings as a lesson to others.”
“Who is Emperor? I heard cheering and so on, but the jailors have not said a word.”
“Morag is dead. Sethius attacked me during a Truce and Parley, so I legally lopped his head off. Therefore I am Emperor Wulf Septim the First. I am the son of Emperor Tiber Septim and Saint Alessia and rule by Divine Right.”
“Rigmor will be my wife and the Chosen Queen of The Alessian Prophecy. We are expecting a child who is The Chosen One of The Alessian Prophecy.”
“What has become of my father?”
“He will face the same two trials as you. The second is for High Treason and Sedition, as you planned to usurp Sethius. There are no charges for your attack on Bruma as that was a legal action.”
“We have no hope of acquittal, so why the trials?”
“That is the law. You can plead guilty if you don’t want your crimes described in detail by witnesses and survivors.”
“Are there any other Counts involved?”
“Yes, those of Cheydinal and Chorrol. They are charged with High Treason.”
“You warned us.”
“I was injured wiping out Morag and her coven. Without my assistance, Rigmor led armies across the breadth of Cyrodiil and to the outskirts of The Imperial City. I was healthy enough to assist my fiancée with the last few battles. The Nine were on our side, Robere, and I have just left Bruma Cathedral, where Lord Akatosh spoke to Rigmor. Gods, as well as the people, love her. Rigmor is a worthy High Queen of Cyrodiil, but you never recognised her greatness during your pathetic power play. Rigmor is the epitome of what nobility should be and will be.”
I left the silent Robere, locked his cell and threw the key to the jailor on the way out.
I made my way to my room and quickly removed my armour, knowing that I would need it for many years to come.
The new Emperor of Tamriel crawled into bed.
He does not know what time he fell asleep.
Talos stood and stared at Bruma’s castle. The Nine have done a disservice to his son, and Wulf may have to spill much blood to correct their error. There is no excuse, and Wulf’s mother is not pleased. But Wulf will understand as he knows that gods are not omnipotent. Will Wulf forgive? His father does not know and is afraid of the answer.