Sundas, 26th First Seed, 4E 205
I was almost finished dressing when there came a polite knocking on my door.
“Come in, Inigo.”
Inigo entered and came up to me whilst shaking his head.
“Is there something wrong, my Second?”
“Your Imperial Highness needs to be more careful. I could have been a polite assassin.”
“If it were a person that I did not know that stepped into the room, I would have prepared a spell. But no assassin would dare impersonate Inigo the Brave. Plus, I know most of your fleas by their first name, and they greeted me.”
“There is a bit of a problem.”
“What kind of problem?”
“Tasha can tell you more. A large number of smelly bandits, once called The New Imperial Army, have gathered near Fort Pale Pass.”
“That didn’t end well for the Stormcloaks that did that.”
“I was not with you that day. It was a precursor to what you did to the Leyawiin army.”
“Yes, it was. But that is history. How many troops and who is dealing with it?”
“Tasha was gathering more details from the mages assisting the Imperial soldiers.”
“Okay, I will have a quick talk to her when I come down.”
“So, Your Majesty, how do I look?”
“That outfit suits you. I am looking forward to seeing my friends in something other than armour.”
“The Primate banned Mr Dragonfly from the ceremony.”
“Well, he was very noisy during rehearsal.”
“Saint Alena is keeping him company.”
“Mr Dragonfly is welcome to come to the banquet.”
“He will like that, as long as no roasted or fried insects are on the menu.”
“I have no idea what Her Royal Highness has organised.”
“I know she brought in some Khajiit chefs to do several versions of Elsweyr Chowder.”
“You will have to be quick, or Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar will consume all that is made.”
“I am looking forward to meeting such a prestigious Khajiit.”
“He is an impressive person, Inigo. Very impressive.”
“I shall wait for you downstairs, my friend.”
Inigo left the room whistling some ditty he had made up. He is still keen to join The Bards College with Olette and me.
I checked myself in a mirror and decided I was presentable. Then I made my way downstairs.
I walked over to Tasha and Inigo.
- Wulf: What is happening, Tasha?
- Tasha: Many New Imperials have resorted to their old profession. They are in Pale Pass and preparing to take the old fort.
- Wulf: The number of Legionnaires guarding it has increased, I hope. How many New Imperials have banded together?
- Tasha: There are about three thousand, according to Nubaree. Some Sentinels are working with Legate Hadvar Haranssen.
- Wulf: Which Sentinels?
- Tasha: Iona, Jordis, Ghorbash and a couple of the College Mages.
- Wulf: They will not be attending the wedding?
- Tasha: No. We could not spare any of those assigned guard duty for the wedding. They are sad to miss it, but they may save many lives.
- Wulf: I know Hadvar from Riverwood. He was on the execution squad, and we helped each other when Alduin attacked Helgen. What is his plan?
- Tasha: He wants The Sentinels to find the leaders of the New Imperials and kill them. Then, hopefully, the rest will not fight.
- Wulf: That sounds like Hadvar. He would want to minimise deaths on both sides. I am sad they will miss the wedding but proud they can help in this way.
- Inigo: There is a worry that some New Imperials may have hidden amongst the large number of citizens that have flocked to Bruma for the wedding celebrations.
- Wulf: Assassination attempts are always going to be a danger. But I doubt any of that rabble would have the skills even to get close.
- Inigo: Maybe not, but Rigmor plans to fool them anyway.
- Tasha: It was supposed to be a surprise, but Rigmor has been cleaning up…
- Wulf: Highreach. Yes, I know about that place.
- Tasha: Well, she had the keep cleaned, and that is where the wedding banquet will be held.
- Inigo: There is a permanent portal there, but the mages have not had time to make a permanent portal in Bruma. Instead, they will summon temporary portals to get to and from the keep.
- Tasha: After the wedding, people will enter buildings but never leave. They will be teleported to Highreach.
- Inigo: After the wedding, you will be teleported to Highreach from within Bruma’s Cathedral. Rigmor will be teleported from her apartment. Anybody spying will have a long and futile wait for Rigmor or you to emerge.
- Tasha: Rigmor says Highreach is secure. The Sentinels can join the banquet later.
- Wulf: It will take some time to get used to delegating, or accept Rigmor delegating, like this.
- Inigo: We spent three years doing many dangerous things when you were lost. We are very good at what we do.
- Wulf: I know, Inigo. I have to be careful not to involve myself in others’ decisions.
- Inigo: My friend, let us get you married and away from these worries for now.
- Wulf: Lead on, my furry Second. And thank you for doing this.
- Inigo: I am honoured to be asked.
- Wulf: Do you have the ring?
- Inigo: Yes, and Primate Uravasa threatened to boil me alive if I lost it.
- Wulf: Let’s go.
Nearly all guests were already inside the Bruma Cathedral, so The Sentinels had positioned themselves around it in a protective ring. Most Bruma residents stayed inside, as was requested to help with security. They would emerge when the wedding was over. Then the streets of Bruma would be full of tables of food and entertainers, all paid for out of my pocket. I did not want to burden the coffers of Bruma or The Empire. A good number of residents were standing at a distance, hoping to see ‘Their Rigmor’ in her wedding finery. Sentinels were mingling with them in the off chance an enemy marksman had slipped into the city.
The market stallholders were setting up in the hope of making some trade. The Sentinels were buying their morning coffee from them.
As we walked through the streets to the Cathedral, the few visible citizens shouted greetings and congratulations and best wishes. One elderly gent admonished me with, “You look after our Lady Rigmor, or you will answer to me!”
The people of Bruma were easy to like. They showed great courage during the recent events and seemed unfazed that Rigmor was now their High Queen. She was their Rigmor, and that is all that mattered.
My friends understood why they couldn’t all attend the ceremony. But still, I felt guilty as I passed them and entered Bruma’s Cathedral. All of them at the front smiled and wished me luck.
Inigo waited for me at the top of the stairs.
“Are you ready for this, my friend?”
“This is Rigmor’s day and will make her smile. I am more than ready to make that happen.”
Inigo laughed, and we entered the Cathedral.
It was fantastic to see my friends from Skyrim mingling and chatting with those from Cyrodiil. Not everybody I invited could come. Tolfdir was very disappointed, but there was a problem with rogue mages he had to stay in Skyrim to sort out.
Lydia, Celestine and Serana were the only Sentinels in attendance. Iona, Jordis and several others who should have attended were with Legate Hadvar sorting out the rouge New Imperials.
Standing next to Sorella was Olette. They had the bond of being orphans and now adopted.
The local priest graciously stood aside to let Uravasa Mona, Senior Priestess and Primate of the Great Chapel of Mara in Bravil, conduct the ceremony. In return, he has been awarded the great honour of spending some time in that revered place of worship where he will help supplicants to Lady Mara.
Primate Uravasa and Saint Alena are kind and gentle souls. Alena and Rigmor have become friends, and I think that bond will grow as both experience pregnancy for the first time.
Primate Uravasa was one of the religious witnesses to my parentage. She, along with several others, asked their deities and got confirmation. It would be a foolish person who challenged the testimony of Priests of The Divine and those of several Daedric Princes.
These thoughts crossed my mind as I walked down the aisle and looked into the faces of friends. They have all shaped my life since awakening on the carriage outside Helgen.
I was astounded by the colourful outfits of Freathof and Malesam. I hope they are genuine fashion statements and not a bad joke by some amused tailor.
I stood at my appointed spot with Inigo to my right as I faced Primate Uravasa.
Uravasa said, “Welcome, Your Imperial Majesty. It is a privilege and an honour to be the officiant in such a prestigious union. Are there any questions before we start?”
“No, Aunty Uravasa, I am eager to begin.”
“Then let us begin.”
Music from somewhere filled the Cathedral, and the doors opened.
I caught my breath as my beloved entered, holding hands with a beaming Baa’Ren-Dar.
As they slowly walked along the aisle, many smiles and greetings were momentarily replaced by frowns and a few gasps. Balin wept. Rigmor’s beautiful dress and veil did not cover her scars, and many may have heard of but never seen evidence of Thalmor brutality. That it should appear on the body of one so loved and loving is an indictment on them for all eternity.
Our eyes met, and my heart leapt. On the very spot I stood, she had felt the overwhelming love of our Lord Akatosh. It is but a fraction of the love my Rigmor, and I share.
Baa’Ren-Dar was full of pride for his adopted daughter. Although no official paperwork was ever signed, that is what she is to him. He looked at me with a huge smile which I find charming though all those sharp canines perturb some. His fur and whiskers looked like they had been oiled, and his hair was in the colonial style that many senior Khajiit adopt. His clothing was of the finest cut, and it was a shock to see him not wearing a robe of some sort. Amused, I quickly looked at Inigo, who had also noticed Baa’Ren-Dar’s clothing was of the same style as his. He smiled and shrugged, and I turned my attention back to Rigmor.
Baa’Ren-Dar let go of Rigmor’s hand then passed behind her to stand at his designated spot to her left.
Rigmor stopped, and we faced each other. She was beaming, and her beauty consumed me. I held one hand while her other hand lay on my chest. Our silence enveloped us.
The music stopped, and Uravasa waited for the murmurs, coughing and sniffling to cease.
“We are gathered here today to witness this holiest union. To join in matrimony His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Wulf Septim the First, Dragonborn and Champion of the Divines, to Her Royal Highness, Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, High Queen of Cyrodiil, daughter of Sir Ragnar Fjonasson and Countess Sigunn Frostreaver of Bruma.”
Via Saint Alena as a go-between, we had discussed Rigmor’s preferred surname. There was no way she was going to be Morgan-Mede for her wedding! No political crap was needed in front of friends.
Uravasa solemnly pronounced, “If any amongst us should wish to bear false witness or object to this union, then let it be heard now or forever hold your peace.”
Uravasa waited half a minute, then continued, “It was Mara that first gave birth to all of creation and pledged to watch over us as her children. It is from her love of us that we first learned to love one another. It is from this love that we learn that a life lived alone is no life at all. Under Mara’s loving gaze, we gather here today to bear witness to the union of two souls in eternal companionship. May they journey forth together in this life and the next, prosperity and poverty, and joy and hardship. Do you agree to be bound together, in love, now and forever?”
As per the protocol of Lady Mara’s sacred ritual, I answered first, “I do.”
Then Rigmor answered, “I do.”
Uravasa then said, “His Imperial Majesty has requested the exchange of rings occur before the exchange of vows. I consulted with Lady Mara, and she said he has his reasons, and she did not object. So, this is a first for me in hundreds of years of conducting the marriage rites.”
Rigmor laughed then said, “The Divines have learnt how stubborn my Dragonborn can be.”
This quip was met with laughter and good humour. Uravasa joined in and then waited for it to subside.
“Rigmor, would you please present Wulf with your chosen ring.”
Baa’Ren-Dar handed her the ring, and then Rigmor placed it on my finger with the words, “I give you this ring as a symbol of my undying love. With no beginning or end, it is a token of my commitment and devotion to you.”
I looked at it, gasped, and then asked, “Is this Ragnar’s ring? How?”
“He threw it to my mother as they dragged him away.”
I turned to Sigunn and said, “I am humbled, Countess! I now feel that he is at least with us in some way on this day of celebration.”
I turned back to Rigmor and declared, “I will wear this with pride and honour.”
I could hear more weeping from Balin. He has a good soul. I knew without looking Yngol would be giving him a death stare for being a “Milk Drinker.”
Uravasa looked in Balin’s direction, smiled, then prompted, “Your Majesty?”
Inigo passed me Pilvi’s ring.
I turned to Rigmor, and she held out her hand. I was careful to conceal the ring’s identity as I slipped it onto her finger. I moved my hand away, and she stared at the ring then gasped as I had done moments ago.
I quickly spoke via the rings, “Shh! Do you feel his presence?”
“Yes, why is that?”
“Very few people know the ruby is a Chim-el Adabal and contains the blood of Lord Akatosh. That is why you can feel his presence.”
“Oh my, we have to keep that little secret, don’t we!”
“We certainly do. I will tell you Pilvi’s story soon, but for now, we have a ceremony to finish.”
Using a small amount of Thu’um, I said, “I present to you the ring of the Ayleid Princess, Pilvi-Hinnesh. It was gifted to Pilvi by Lord Akatosh to symbolise his love for the mortal woman who owned his heart. They have gifted it to me to present to the woman who owns my heart. Let it be a symbol of the unbroken and unbreakable love between us. I wanted you to wear it before our vows, so you know both Divine love and that of your Dragonborn as I say what is in my heart.”
Both Primate Uravasa and Saint Alena had talked about Pilvi’s ring with awe and religious fervour during rehearsals.
Uravasa said, “Now the exchange of vows. They are sacred, and The Divines expect only truth to be told in this, their house. Your Majesty, as protocol states, you are first. Please proceed.”
Rigmor grasped both of my hands while Uravasa looked to the heavens.
Once again, I used a bit of Thu’um as I said, “I met a ‘Nordling with a destiny’ and was instantly mesmerised by her. As you revealed your family’s story to me, my heart wept not only for the injustices done but the attempt by those inferior to you to break your spirit and turn you into something less. I admired you and was honoured to be called your Guardian and to gain your trust slowly.”
I had to halt a few seconds and compose myself. The ‘Blubbering Barbarian’ was trying to take over.
“We were sitting in a tavern in the bleakest of places, the City of Windhelm during the Civil War. You proceeded to tell me more of your story, and my anger and respect built with every sentence. We talked about Baa’Ren-Dar, how you named your horse after him, and how Khajiit growl when angry. Then you laughed for the first time since I met you. It was not one of your sarcastic ‘ha de ha’ but a full-blown belly laugh. I heard pure joy from a place where it shouldn’t exist. You looked at me with a smile on your face, and my heart was yours from that moment onwards.”
There was a chorus of sniffling going on that now had weeping to harmonise with it.
“You continued to show me how to enjoy what we have and not dwell on the difficulty of our duty and past. Your simple joy of picking flowers, looking at Skyrim from above, wondering at the stars and moons, and the beauty and wisdom you saw in light bouncing off a lake were all confirmation of the goodness The Divines have provided us. Your spirit shone when speaking of these things and your love for your parents and friends. Your childhood stories have become my stories, and you let me live a part of life I couldn’t recall. Your compassion for others is limitless, and I have endeavoured to emulate it with all my actions and undertakings. You stopped the dragon in me from making me less than what I have become.”
I coughed to clear my throat. I was finding it difficult not to choke up.
“My vow to you, Rigmor, is simple. I never have and never will lie or deliberately deceive you. Gods marvel at the strength of our love, and I am blessed and happy to be consumed by it. We have shared and will continue to share one destiny, soul, and love for eternity. This pledge I swear before The Divines in this, their home. Equally, I swear it in front of those gathered here today. Our friends and loved ones.”
I looked at Uravasa, who smiled and nodded her head. Then she prompted, “Your Royal Highness, it is your turn.”
I turned back to Rigmor and steeled my emotions. I knew this would test my composure.
Rigmor said, “I love you more than you could ever know. You are my best friend, my life’s companion, saviour, and champion. My heart beats so fast when you are near me that it sometimes hurts. But I would give up my life for you in that heartbeat, no questions asked, without a second thought. My love for you always has and always will be true. You are my soulmate, oh my sweet, wonderful, beautiful Dragonborn. Forgive me for my fleeting moments of mistrust. You did not deserve that, and I know you only ever speak the truth. I will try my hardest to remember that at all times. But even if I throw things at you, know that I love you!”
A beaming Uravasa announced, “With authority granted by Lady Mara, the Divine of Love, I declare this couple to be wed. They must now seal the marriage with a kiss.”
I swear it was Rigmor’s fault. What was supposed to be a single, loving but chaste kiss turned into a snogging of epic proportion! The first kiss drew polite applause.
The second and third kiss garnered some amused laughter.
I heard Sorella say to Olette, “He has put his hand on her bottom!”
Olette replied, “I know. Watch and learn how to do a real kiss. Most boys have no idea!”
“Have you kissed boys?”
“Yeah, like DUH!”
The fourth and fifth kissed earned a few embarrassed coughs. When Rigmor leapt on me, and I held her off the ground as we mashed lips, I heard Yngol tell Sorella to turn away.
I ended with kissing Rigmor on the hand like a gentleman courting his lady. Then the applause started, and Sorella whispered, “Olette, you will have to tell me what I missed.”
Olette replied, “Wulf kissed Rigmor on the nape of her neck. It was so cool!”
Primate Uravasa laughed, then said, “This concludes a most unusual ceremony that I am sure you will all agree was beautiful and that we are blessed to have witnessed. When our Queen regains her breathe, she has an announcement to make. I have to rush back to Bravil but will be back for the Coronation. I am sure that will be unique as well.”
Rigmor said via our rings, “I love the ring, Wulf. But Lord Akatosh’s presence?”
“I will explain soon, Rigmor. It is a wonderful but sad story. Loona did a good job not telling you.”
I looked at Ragnar’s ring, and my heart lurched at the thought of Sigunn passing it on to me.
“To give me Ragnar’s ring. That is… I am beyond honoured. I truly am.”
Rigmor smiled, turned to those attending and said, “Everybody, thank you all for being here for Wulf and me on this wonderful day, especially my Mom and, of course, Baa’Ren-Dar. It means so much to both of us. Many could not join us as duty called to those who want to make this world safer for all. I am sure Wulf and I will find ourselves missing out on such events as this for that very reason.”
Rigmor turned to Uravasa and said, “Primate Uravasa, you and Saint Alena have represented Lady Mara with all the grace and patience she displays when dealing with us awkward mortals. I thank you for making this day even more special than I had hoped.”
Uravasa bowed, and Rigmor asked via our rings, “Do you know where the banquet is to be held?”
“Yes, I will explain it to Baa’Ren-Dar if you have not.”
“We will be safe there and can relax.”
Rigmor turned to the guests, then announced, “Wulf and I invite you to our first meal as husband and wife. For those who may arrive later, including you Balin, don’t fear, as some cake will be saved and I am sure there will be plenty of food left. Kitchen staff will be available to cater for latecomers. For those who have never teleported before, it is perfectly safe. Please obey The Sentinels who await outside to escort us.”
As people started to leave, bells began tolling. Rigmor informed me, “I am going to my apartment with some of the ladies, where we will freshen up a bit before the feast. Baa’Ren-Dar would like to speak to you. I will meet you at Highreach.”
A gaggle of gigglers joined Rigmor as she made her way outside. When the door opened, there was a loud cheer as her people greeted their Queen.
Inigo looked back and claimed, “Inigo the Brave’s many fans await him!”
“In your dreams, Inigo the Flea-ridden.”
“I shall go and retrieve Mr Dragonfly and meet you at the banquet. I hate it that you force me to lie.”
“Oh, how so?”
“I will have to do a speech and say nice things about you.”
“And I will have to be polite and stay awake during your speech.”
Inigo laughed as he left. To my surprise, he did receive a cheer from the locals!
As the last wedding guest exited, J’zargo appeared in front of me.
He then summoned a squad of Sentinels.
“This one is to zap His Imperial Majesty and Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar to Highreach Keep.”
“I need to speak to the Emissary first.”
“Of course, this one will wait here.”
I approached Baa’Ren-Dar who asked, “Azura’s blessings upon you. Is there is a change of plans, Your Imperial Majesty?”
“Yes, Your Excellency. Some New Imperial troops are causing issues. Therefore, we are making it hard for them to keep track of our whereabouts. Now we have used our official titles, can we please get back to normality, Baa’Ren-Dar?”
“Of course. Rigmor warned this one that Wulf does not like the ‘stick up the arse noble crap.’”
“It is good to see you, old friend.”
“This one has been waiting for a good time to visit my child. Khajiit didn’t want to interfere in Rigmor’s life too much and visited to advise privately every few months. I received word from Lord Chancellor Blackwell of the imminent coronation and an invitation to this union from Sigunn. This one travelled swiftly from Elsweyr so as not to miss the ceremony and is very happy with the union and your rise to the Ruby Throne.”
“Thank you, Baa’Ren-Dar. I tried to learn as much as I could about Nirn politics after my return from being lost, but alas, I am ignorant of how things stand in Elsweyr.”
“Elsweyr has not changed. For a time that is long, two tribes, two factions. There is a growing resistance to the Thalmor that cares not for north or south, desert or jungle. Those you and Rigmor aided have a common desire to rid our homeland of the Dominion and regain independence. However, even if the Dominion were gone, I am afraid the division would continue unless The Mane is accepted as ruler by all.”
“I assume there are powerful Khajiit who make much money from the Dominion.”
“Yes, and as that one found out in Evermor and here, nobility will ignore atrocities as long as their coffers increase.”
“The Thalmor did not bring back Masser and Secunda. It is unknown what caused The Void Nights, but The Dominion’s claim of possessing powerful Dawn Magic is a blatant lie. They never demonstrated it during The Great War or since.”
“This is long suspected. We should have just withdrawn from The Empire, not joined the Dominion.”
“Was there something specific you wished to talk about?”
“Khajiit’s belly rumbles and walls have ears that stretch over borders. Dragonborn might walk and talk with Old Khajiit to Bruma’s castle where this one can wine and dine?”
“There are many Sentinels around this building and several Master Mages. This Cathedral is as secure a place as any. Plus, the banquet is not being held in Bruma. Teleporting is required to reach a place once owned by The Mages Guild. Be patient, as Rigmor has hired some respected Khajiit chefs to create several types of Elsweyr Chowder.”
“If we take too long, Inigo will consume it all!”
“Kharjo is a fan as well. So is J’zargo, Ashni and Anahbi. There will be much competition amongst the Khajiit guests for the Elsweyr Chowder, but most of them will not arrive till later.”
“As you know, it is the job of this Khajiit to keep abreast of the realms Elsweyr deals with. The disappearance of Emperor Titus Mede II was to cause the chain of events that led you here.”
“In a way, but gods do not control choices made using mortal free will. There was no grand plan by The Divines or other gods that foretold of the many events leading me here. However, Mede’s disappearance did open the door for me to become Emperor.”
“Rigmor says you know the killer and that he was part of The Dark Brotherhood.”
“There were two assassins who survived my culling of their Falkreath Sanctuary. Cicero also survived the culling of the Bruma Sanctuary in 4E186 and then was the last member alive in the Cheydinhal Sanctuary before relocating to Skyrim. Although the other survivor, Babette, could have done the deed, I believe Cicero killed Mede. Babette is an ancient vampire in the body of a pre-pubescent girl.”
“This one believes their hiring can be directly laid at the feet of The Elder Council.”
“If I had proof of one or more conspirators, I would hunt them down. Alas, I do not.”
“If they had taken more care, they would not have found themselves in exile. But it afforded The Elder Council some distance from Blackwell’s scrutiny.”
“I think Sethius would have exiled them no matter what. Morag’s plans weren’t good for business. It is hard to enjoy your wealth and power if vampires eat your children and put you in a cage for a midnight snack. The Elder Council would have moved against Sethius and Morag very quickly when they discovered what was happening. However, by the time they found out, delayed due to their exile, the Emperor was too entrenched.”
“Yes, you are right. It upset many people that Sethius was making a success of his rule, and The Elder Council feared to intervene because of Morag. Then you turned up, and all that changed. Now they fear you.”
“The Divines planned for my appearance to be a surprise, which it was. That gave very little time for the enemy to respond. But I am sure Rigmor explained that to you.”
“Yes, remember that I provided Rigmor with reasons to be away from Bruma?”
“Oh, forgive me. Some memories are still difficult to recall after my two trips through The Void.”
“This one understands.”
“Sethius’ rule was smoke and mirrors. He could not hide his and Morag’s crimes for much longer. An Empire-wide civil war was inevitable. Now The Elder Council are playthings of the Thalmor and hiding behind their skirts like frightened children behind their mother.”
“Yes, but not at first. Count Camaeus presented himself, and they could not resist sending him to Table Mountain. Part of their deal was to eliminate Blackwell and reinstate The Thalmor. Your Majesty, did you not suspect anything untoward?”
“Yes, I did. Assclown knew too much about what we were doing and conveniently turned up just before the battle. Where had his army been hiding? But I wanted him and his Silver Swords where I could see them. It was either allow him to fight beside us or eliminate them all. Your signature was one deciding factor. The other is what I told Rigmor. Thalmor bodies stopping enemy arrows was better than Legionnaire bodies.”
“The Thalmor presented half the story to High Queen Elisif and others who had no idea of their ultimate goal. They wanted to have a puppet on the throne. They thought it was going to be Rigmor seated upon the Ruby Throne, and she would have to destroy Blackwell to do it.”
“They should have known Rigmor would not march an army through the Imperial City to claim a throne she did not want.
Even if we removed Blackwell, Rigmor would have never been a puppet!
Rigmor would never allow The Elder Council to return as she suspects them of plotting Mede’s assassination.
Rigmor would never allow the reinstatement of The White-Gold Concordat as she knows the real reason why The Thalmor oppose Talos worship. Plus, she knows for a fact that Talos is the ninth Divine.
Rigmor would still have me and many others to help her rule. As I have made Rigmor automatically the Empress Regent when I am not available, she could have made me Emperor Regent under the same circumstances. The situation would be the same as now, with the two of us ruling.
And, knowing her well, I doubt Elisif was fooled. She would have seen through such a shallow plan.”
“They knew of your suspicions. Hence, of all those signatures, they knew this one’s signature was the most important to Rigmor and yourself.”
“We agreed you would not sign it without reason.”
“Azura thought Camaeus was crucial to the plans of The Nine but did not know why. She sent a seer to advise Khajiit to sign the paper. Although Camaeus appears to represent The Elder Council, he plays them at their own game. Do you know why that may be?”
“Assclown thought Lord Akatosh favoured him. His life was manipulated by what he thinks is Lord Akatosh’s messenger or avatar. Ironically, that senior Thalmor’s entire life has been directed by my father.”
“Does Camaeus know this?”
“No, but I demonstrated to Camaeus that much of what he thought he knew was wrong. Very wrong.”
“Was he part of The Divines’ plans?”
“Yes, and The Divines had given Camaeus two sacred tasks. One was to ensure Rigmor survived as she carried the Chosen One. As far as he knew, she was just an incubator as per the prophecy and discarded after the birth. He cared nothing for Rigmor at all.
I suspected a second task, but I could not figure out precisely what it was.
When the Bridge of Sighs collapsed, a Red Diamond was created. It contains part of Molag Bal’s soul and my Mother’s. Even The Divines are unsure of the powers of that Red Diamond. They suspect it could be used to manipulate the Liminal Barrier.
Camaeus’ second task was finding that diamond and giving it to me. He has found it, but he has not given it to me. I doubt he will as he is Thalmor, and such a powerful artefact can be used for their ultimate purpose, the destruction of The Nine.
Lord Akatosh has made a big mistake. He wants me to have that Red Diamond, but his use of Camaeus as a puppet has backfired. All who deal with me as Emperor will soon learn I am determined to do the bidding of The Divines as long as it has benefits for the mortals of Nirn. I have been sent before to fix their mistakes. Trusting Camaeus was a huge one and has played into the hands of The Thalmor.”
“This one thinks that there is more to this. Khajiit suspects some unpleasantness between The Nine and their champion.”
“Yes, I was unstable and unpredictable. But still, Camaeus keeping the Red Diamond is their mistake. I think they hoped he would be idealistic and help heal the rift between Man and Mer. You don’t become such a high rank in The Thalmor without believing in their ultimate purpose.”
“Your child being called the ‘Chosen One’ via prophecy will, in itself, pose a danger to Rigmor and the baby.”
“The danger is amplified while others possess the Red Diamond. If our child is the only one who can use the power of the diamond, she will be a kidnapping target.”
“When Camaeus arrived back in Alinor, he told The Elder Council you had become Emperor and not Rigmor and that you had maintained Blackwell as your Lord Chancellor. They flew into a furious rage. He laughed in their faces.”
“Like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum when they realise that they are powerless to make their parents do as they bid!”
“Yes. The Dominion care not for The Elder Council. They only want the White-Gold Concordat reinstated. I suspect Blackwell would like to get his hands on the council members. Maybe they intend to use them to win over Blackwell’s influence?”
“The White-Gold Concordat was never about religion. The Thalmor know Talos is a Divine, but he stands in the way of their target of destroying linear time. To become immortal once more, they need to remove The Nine and let AKA, the oversoul of Akatosh, Alduin and other shards free to roam the Aurbis.
The Dominion know who I am, yet they will still dare approach me to allow such blasphemy as the concordat? Even with the bargaining tool that Camaeus has given them, they must realise the response.
As for Blackwell, he dares not do anything not approved by myself or Rigmor! He is under a lot tighter constraint than with Mede or Sethius. He knows there will never be a deal to reinstate the concordat no matter what they place on the bargaining table.
The Elder Council are free to return to Cyrodiil once I remove their banishment. I have not done that yet and am waiting to see what happens at the coronation. But if they return, they will not be my advisors or have the power they once possessed.”
“You are well aware of the enemies you and your daughter will create as religion gets mixed up with politics. The Elder Council’s power is based on money. That often wins the hearts of more men than religion. Take my advice and surround yourself with friends!”
“All of The Sentinels have decided to remain as our protectors. Rigmor and I will have guards chosen by us and not Blackwell or anybody else. I will be assured of their loyalty and eliminate the chance of spies. The kitchen hands, maids, and many others will be chosen from those trained in my orphanages. I will surround us with love as you suggest. It will be an impenetrable shield.”
“Bruma is such a wonderful city, don’t you think?”
“Indeed, it is, and the people are remarkably robust and kind. I have found myself regarding Cyrodiil as more my home than Skyrim ever felt.”
“The previous Count of Bruma and his wife were wonderful warm people who Rigmor would have befriended had she been allowed to lead a normal life. Same with the previous Count of Leyawiin before the troubles. The Emperor bestowed the titles to Rigmor to lessen the guilt for abandoning Rigmor’s family to the demands of the Thalmor and The Elder Council.”
“Mede did much to support Ragnar and the others who helped the Redguards after the war. He was always finding ways to bypass The White-Gold Concordat.”
“This one cannot predict the future, but you have a friend in Elsweyr.”
“I can tell you this, Baa’Ren-Dar. If we do not stop bickering between ourselves, the Akaviri will conquer us nation by nation. For that reason, the retrieval of the diamond has to be done swiftly. If Camaeus does not bring it to the coronation, I will go and get it.”
“The Dominion would be fools to test your resolve on this matter.”
“Thank you for all you have done, Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“For you and Rigmor, nothing is too much.”
Rigmor contacted me via our rings, “My husband, please just enter the keep and don’t have a look around. There is still work to be done. I want you to see Highreach in its prime.”
“Does it have a tavern?”
“Yes, and before you ask, I had it fully refurbished, and people recommended by Colin now staff it.”
“Do they stock Ye Olde Special Brew?”
“Ahh, Bostin might have been used on an urgent mission to pick up a few hundred bottles.”
“I am glad to see you have your priorities right!”
“Anyway, get your arses over to the banquet!”
“Yes, my Queen.”
I hadn’t realised I had my eyes closed as I spoke to Rigmor. I opened them to an amused Khajiit.
“Rigmor told this one about your rings when you were first gifted them. Now their power is within the wedding bands?”
‘Yes. The dweomer is a priceless gift from Lady Mara.”
“Did she tell you to hurry up before her favourite Khajiit misses out on Elsweyr Chowder?”
I smiled and called to J’zargo, “Portal to Highreach, Master Mage J’zargo.”
J’zargo summoned the portal then walked through it.
Baa’Ren-Dar and I followed and found ourselves in Highreach.
“This is an impressive town.”
“I told Rigmor I would not look around. So, let us head into the keep.”
“It is good to see Rigmor has that one trained. It will make your married life very much happier.”
“So says the ancient bachelor.”
“I have many lovers. Why pick one course when you can have a smorgasbord?”
“This one is joking. Sadly, Khajiit has never met the love of his life.”
“I think the good work you do for Elsweyr is the love of your life.”
“Yes, this is true. Chowder time!”
The old Khajiit practically ran into the keep and smacked his lips at the food laid out.
He honed in on the several different Elsweyr Chowders and sniffed in their aroma with a contented sigh. He grabbed his first bowl of many and headed for the wedding party’s table.
I did a quick tour of the hall and greeted many friends as I passed by.
Then I sat next to Rigmor.
- Wulf: Rigmor, the cooks have done a fine job.
- Rigmor: Yes, but it is sad to see the empty chairs where some of The Sentinels should be.
- Wulf: They will come later and enjoy the food without suffering boring speeches.
- Rigmor: Hey, my speech will not be boring.
- Inigo: Ahh, am I expected to give a speech?
- Rigmor: Yeah! Like duh, Inigo!
- Wulf: Inigo knew that. He is just having difficulty thinking of something nice to say about me.
- Rigmor: Well, your farts don’t smell as bad as Sethri’s.
- Inigo: Ahh, an excellent beginning. Wulf Septim the First, the non-stinky Emperor! Thank you, Rigmor.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: That one needs confidence, and the speech will come.
- Inigo: I am confident I will stuff it up.
- Wulf: How is the Elsweyr Chowder?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one has started with a bowl of Elsweyr Chowder of the desert style. Very spicy and excellent!
- Inigo: My ability to taste would be burnt away with that recipe. I have started with a milder version more popular in Riverwood, where I grew up. It, too, is excellent.
- Wulf: Rigmor, I am glad to see Malesam and Freathof have changed into less colourful clothing.
- Rigmor: Yngol told them they looked like a dragon had eaten a rainbow, then them, and got the trots.
- Inigo: Oh, and they were the unfortunate colourful excrement?
- Rigmor: In not so many words, but yes, that was the implication.
- Wulf: Well, I will have to thank Yngol for saving my eyeballs from further torture.
- Rigmor: They have been arguing whose fault it was they trusted the tailor in Bravil.
- Wulf: And where is my number one fan?
- Rigmor: Balin’s mother is suffering from some stomach flu that is doing a tour of Tamriel. He went home to check on her, accompanied by Erandur. If his mother is well enough to be left alone, Erandur will bring him here.
- Inigo: This Highreach is quite a place, my friend. The Sentinels I have spoken to would be pleased to call this place home. They can share a house or have their own. I think this dining hall will become a central part of their lives.
- Wulf: The dining at Silverpeak Lodge was always lively and fun. Olette was very sad to lose that part of her life. I told her that The Sentinels would probably still eat together quite often, if not all the time.
- Rigmor: Olette came and saw me after visiting you. She knocked on my door, and when I opened it, she grabbed me in the biggest bear hug and cried. I wondered what the sad news was, and then she told me you had blabbed about her adoption. Iona and Jordis were on guard duty outside, and they also cried.
- Wulf: She was so down, Rigmor. I needed to cheer her up.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one sat the cub down and explained how she could not call herself Olette Septim in public.
- Wulf: I was going to have that talk with her but decided it might dampen her happy mood somewhat.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Olette is very smart and streetwise. She often tailed me when I visited Riften. She knows what danger that name may put her in. So, she has asked to be known as Olette Dartwing.
- Wulf: Dartwing was her mother’s nickname for her. It is very suitable for a bard.
- Rigmor: So officially, she is Olette Septim, but her legal alias will be Olette Dartwing?
- Wulf: That is correct, Rigmor Septim.
- Rigmor: Oh, I might pre-empt the Lord Chancellor and call myself Rigmor Morgan-Mede-Septim.
- Inigo: Olette is like a little sister to all The Sentinels. It played on her mind the last couple of years, so I am glad she was finally adopted.
- Baa’Ren-Dar: Inigo, has that one ever tried to find its birth mother?
- Inigo: She was made a pariah by my birth den and driven away. I doubt she survived the ordeal. But if I had some clues, I might try following her trail. Who knows, she may be alive?
- Baa’Ren-Dar: This one would like to offer resources to help with that quest if you ever decide to pursue it.
- Inigo: That is a most generous offer, revered one.
We continued our conversation for some time. After three bowls of Elsweyr Chowder each, Inigo and Baa’Ren-Dar signified their contentment in traditional Khajiit style. They looked at each other and did synchronised belches that echoed throughout the dining hall to the amusement of the other guests.
This expression of contentment was a sign to Sethri that it was time for less eating and more social mingling.
Sethri stood up and said, “Ahem, a toast to the happy couple!”
Everybody lifted their goblets and mugs full of various alcoholic beverages, except Sorella and Olette, who had to be content with mugs of milk with honey.
Sethri said, “To Rigmor and that person she married.”
I replied, “Did you know The Emperor can jail a person for up to a year without any formal charges?”
Sethri laughed, then said, “To Rigmor and Wulf. Skol!”
Everybody made a valiant effort to down their drinks without pause. Some ended up with coughing fits, while others challenged the supremacy of my Khajiit friends with their epic burps.
Somebody had placed several bottles of ‘Ye Olde Special Brew’ and gold goblets in front of our seats. I could tell Rigmor was keen to drink the guests under the table but was constrained by the protocol. We both drank straight out of the bottle.
The hall was filled with conversation. Up to that point, most guests had been concentrating on filling their stomachs with dish after dish.
As everybody started talking, often with mouths full of food and drinking, often with mouths full of food, people relaxed and started moving around and forming clusters that would last for a while, then disperse to form new clusters. It was fascinating to watch, and Rigmor was one of the most sociable and flitted from place to place.
I wandered around and had my fair share of short conversations.
Freathof was fascinated by the dragon-themed wedding cake.
After a good dent was made in the food and alcohol supply, Baa’Ren-Dar raised his voice and requested everybody to return to their seats for some formalities to be observed. He assured them they could continue their mingling after.
When all the seat scraping and shuffling finished, Baa’Ren-Dar stood to the right of Rigmor and started his speech.
“We are all here to celebrate the union of Wulf and Rigmor. Tradition usually calls upon a father figure to make a speech in honour of the ceremony. This one hopes that Khajiit can speak for both of you, and it would be an honour for me to do so.”
Rigmor exclaimed, “Of course Baa’Ren-Dar, but no stories about a bratty, rebellious teenage me!”
I added, “Oh, but I want to hear those!” and was rewarded with an elbow to the ribs.
Everybody laughed, and the old Khajiit nodded his acquiescence to Rigmor and smiled at my discomfort.
Inigo asked, “Does that mean since you are already talking about both, that I don’t have to do a speech?”
Rigmor replied, “I am afraid you do, Inigo. It is tradition to speak about both marriage participants.”
“Oh, well, that is easy when it comes to you.”
Baa’Ren-Dar was used to public speaking, and his voice demanded attention. He said, “All of us have known Wulf and Rigmor for many years. We have laughed, cried, fought alongside each other and overcome many situations. When Khajiit first met Wulf, this one knew their heart was just and true. Khajiit owes them a great debt, as we all know that without their bravery and sacrifices, none of us would be here today. So first, let us celebrate Wulf, Champion of The Divines and Emperor of The Empire by Divine Right.”
What followed was lots of cheering and clapping and banging on the table combined with cries of ‘Wulf’, ‘Majesty’ and ‘Dragonborn.’
I stood and bowed to acknowledge genuine admiration and respect that, as usual, I felt uncomfortable receiving. I knew similar praise was to be expected in my new role and that it made other people feel closer to the almost mythical being called Emperor. Therefore, I will learn to accept it with grace when offered.
When I sat back down, the cacophony slowly abated, and Baa’Ren-Dar continued.
“Now onto our Rigmor.”
Baa’Ren-Dar turned a bit and looked at Rigmor.
“My child, this one has witnessed you come of age in a terrible time of change. You have suffered the insufferable, Khajiit should know, finding you when all was lost. But it fills this old Khajiit’s heart with joy to see you flourish. When you laugh, this one wants to cry, but not the tears of anguish. Rather, they are the tears of the proud father whose heart is consumed with pride of what has been accomplished and what has been overcome to bring into your life the only thing you ever wanted, which is to live in happiness among friends and family and loved ones. Rigmor, may all your dreams come true and may the gods look favourably down upon you.”
The old Khajiit sat down and looked pleased with the cacophony of cheers and well wishes directed towards Rigmor and me.
Inigo stood and whispered, “My friend, can you please ask them to be quiet so I can start before my nerves get the better of me because I will start to ramble in long sentences without pause and go on and on and on then people will leap out of windows to escape my tedious narration, and we wouldn’t want that to happen would we as it would be sad when this is supposed to be a happy occasion so will you please do that for me?”
“Wow, Inigo, you had better take a breath before you turn blue. Oops, too late.”
I used a bit of Thu’um and said, “Quiet, please. Inigo wants to say a few words.”
There was an instant hush.
Inigo coughed then said, “Unlike His Excellency, Baa’Ren-Dar, I never have to speak in public. As a matter of fact, this is my first time so please, go easy on me.”
Lydia piped up, “Relax, and it will stop hurting after a few minutes. Then you will enjoy it and want to do it all the time. Well, that is what the Blacksmith’s apprentice in Whiterun told me when I was fifteen.”
Laughter rang throughout the room. When it finally died down, Sorella said, “I don’t get it. Was that a rude joke?”
That produced more laughter than the joke. Olette took pity on the girl and whispered in Sorella’s ear. Sorella just nodded her head sagely, and soon, all was quiet once more.
Inigo continued, “I don’t want to bore you with what everybody already knows. Rigmor and Wulf are extraordinary individuals whose compassion, empathy and generosity know no bounds.
Rigmor’s story touched the hearts of all The Sentinels. We never felt pity, but we all admired her outlook on life and infectious need to enjoy it.
Rigmor is like a sister to us. A big sister with a big heart who not only comforts us but needs comforting on occasion.
No matter the gloom that surrounded us, Rigmor always found beauty. When walking behind her in enemy territory, you always had to be prepared to stop suddenly. Rigmor would halt without warning as a flower or animal caught her attention. She would look at the object of interest with childlike fascination.
We fought many battles and saw much carnage and suffering during the journey from the Hammerfell border to The Imperial City. Rigmor would spend any free time attending to her Dragonborn, her Guardian, her soulmate. She would regale any who were nearby with stories of her and Wulf. The love they share goes beyond the norm, and I wish to tell you all a tale that few know, told to me by Rigmor as she watched over her Dragonborn.
Just over three years ago, we were in Evermor, fighting the evil that plagued that kingdom and threatened all of Nirn. Wulf had to enter Oblivion on several occasions whilst we were there. His soul was damaged and flung into The Void on the last of those trips. Like we witnessed after Table Mountain, his body was an empty husk with a spark of life only powerful mages could detect.
While travelling through the infinite black of The Void, Wulf’s soul found itself yearning for the love of his parents. One memory surfaced of his father reading him a story as he lay underneath heavy furs. His mother was hovering in the background tidying the small hut they called home.
Such was the love for his parents, and so strong is Wulf’s will, his soul left The Void and entered the body of his nine-year-old self. The boy Wulf had to be protected from the future memories of adult Wulf. Lord Akatosh hid Wulf’s adult memories from the child Wulf. So even though his adult soul merged with his child soul, the young Wulf remained unaware of that event.
Not long after Wulf turned eighteen, he was asleep when he reacted to the distress of someone in despair. Wulf’s spirit arrived in a dark cell where a young girl, dressed in rags with many scars on her back, lay sobbing. He could not see her face, just the scars. He did not know the girl but knew she needed his help.
Wulf had found Rigmor when she was fourteen years of age and imprisoned inside a Thalmor Embassy. The Thalmor had whipped Rigmor day after day for their amusement. Many of you saw Rigmor’s scars for the first time today and wept. But I am telling you this not to upset you. You all need to understand the strength of the bond between my two friends.
Wulf’s spirit said to Rigmor, ‘Hush, little one. You are not alone. I am your witness and will share your pain. I cannot rescue you, but I will not leave your side. Sleep, let your body rest. I will watch over you. Let me be your Guardian.’
Wulf’s spirit made no sound for mortal ears to hear. Wulf’s words were spoken to Rigmor’s soul, and she heard.
Rigmor asked Wulf, ‘Will you always be my Guardian?’
Wulf replied, ‘I can’t promise, but I will try. I will not stop out of choice. I hope that is good enough.’
Rigmor told Wulf, ‘Yes, we can only try our hardest. My dad used to say that. The worries of tomorrow are gone, and I feel peace. I can sleep now. Goodnight, my Guardian.’
So, my friends, before Wulf even knew who Rigmor was, his soul found hers in her hour of need, and he became her Guardian.”
This revelation resulted in many discussions.
Inigo said, “Please, let me finish, for there is more to this tale.”
“A while later, in spirit form, Wulf witnessed the same whipping of Rigmor that Baa’Ren-Dar witnessed!
Rigmor was chained to the floor with a heavy wooden stock splaying her arms wide. She was helpless as a Thalmor soldier prepared to whip her with a horse crop.”
Baa’Ren-Dar started to weep. Inigo looked over and asked, “Your Excellency, I can stop if this tale distresses you too much.”
The old Khajiit replied, “No, Inigo. This one can see the important lesson you are teaching here. Please, continue.”
Rigmor said to me via our rings, “Inigo asked me for permission to tell this tale. So do not stress that it may upset me.”
“I can understand why he is doing it. The strength of our love will be the foundation on which this new dynasty will grow.”
“Yes, he wanted others to realise what The Sentinels already know. Our love is stronger than any god or mortal enemy.”
Inigo waited for Baa’Ren-Dar to compose himself, then continued, “Even at fourteen, Rigmor was feared by The Thalmor. Her refusal to beg for mercy infuriated them. In charge of Rigmor’s mistreatment was Aedriath. The same scum who hunted her years later in Skyrim.
Aedriath was putting on a show for Baa’Ren-Dar. He was pretending not to be afraid of this petite young girl, the daughter of Ragnar Fjonasson. He seemed proud that the mighty Thalmor had her trussed up and at their mercy.
The crop came down, Rigmor flinched but did not make a sound.
Rigmor sensed Wulf’s spirit and stared into the space he occupied. Wulf could see love in those eyes. Love from a Nordling he had not yet met.
Stroke after stroke, Rigmor’s flesh was torn from her body. Through their mental bond, Wulf accepted much of Rigmor’s pain as his own and silently screamed at the agony Rigmor refused to acknowledge.
The Thalmor torturer was infuriated at the young girl’s refusal to cry or beg for mercy. He attacked her back with more vigorous and more frequent strokes.
Wulf realised that Rigmor was willing to die rather than give The Thalmor satisfaction. He said to her, ‘Give them what they want. Scream out, beg for mercy. It will be a hollow victory for them. Surely you have something to live for?’
Rigmor decided she did have something for which to continue living. She wanted revenge. She wanted to find her mother. She wanted to meet her Guardian. She nodded to Wulf then yelled, ‘No more! Please! No more!’”
Rigmor fell forward. The Thalmor all laughed. Baa’Ren-Dar growled.
That very night, Wulf witnessed Baa’Ren-Dar rescue Rigmor from The Thalmor. He heard Baa’Ren-Dar say, ‘The nightmare is over, Rigmor. I shall take you to my home, and you will be safe. Nobody will ever hurt you again.’
Rigmor’s name made Wulf aware of who he was. He knew he was Rigmor’s Guardian and that she needed him. His love for Rigmor and willpower enabled Wulf’s adult soul to detach from his child’s soul and enter his body in Sovngarde, where his father, Talos, was waiting for him. When Wulf was well enough, he returned to Nirn and crossed into Cyrodiil to help Rigmor.
When we say Wulf was lost for three years, you now know where he was.
So, my friends, instead of heaping praise on Rigmor and Wulf, I thought it was more important you all realise how powerful the love is between these two wonderful people. They are souls entwined for eternity, and the strength of their bond will be the strength of The Empire. They are my dear friends, and I am so very proud to be part of today’s events. And Lydia, thank you for staying awake.”
Inigo sat down with a grin on his face.
In a mocking voice, I said, “Do I have to do a speech. I don’t know what to say.”
“I had you fooled, my friend.”
“Yes, you did. It was a good speech, Inigo.”
“Rigmor told that story every night as the day’s battles were history, and she could spend time with you and Meeko. I think it reassured her how strong your willpower is and that once again, you will return to us. By the way, where is my sharer of fleas?”
“He wanted to be part of the security. Meeko is uncanny when it comes to finding people who intend harm to any of us.”
“Oh, it looks like Rigmor is to give her speech. So, shush!”
“Your Imperial Majesty, would you please be so kind as to pay attention to Her Royal Highness.”
“That is what I said. Shush!”
People noticed Rigmor standing and urged others to pay attention. Soon the room was quiet once more.
Rigmor said, “I have had the day of my life, and yanno, they say that a day like today is every little girl’s dream, right? Well, this little girl’s dream has today come true. No matter the mountains you have to climb, how many times you get knocked back down, pushed back, rained upon, I am living proof anything is possible if you believe in yourself. Don’t get me wrong. It is hard sometimes. I know that life isn’t always a sunny day, but above those clouds, above that storm, the sun is still shining forever. There is nothing we cannot achieve, no dreams we cannot aim for. So, thank you all for coming. I love every one of you.”
Rigmor’s was a simple speech spoken from the heart. It was greeted with much cheering and banging of tables.
Rigmor sat, and it was my turn to talk. I stood, and the room quickly became silent.
“I have many titles. Two new ones are Emperor and husband. I will be known by many, not as Emperor Wulf Septim the First but Rigmor’s husband, and I could not be prouder of that fact.
I look out at familiar faces, and memories come flooding. We have all played our parts in saving the people of Nirn from death or slavery. The bonds formed by this mutual endeavour are solid and lifelong.
Thank you all for your help, especially when Rigmor needed her Guardian, but I was not there.
As we feast and laugh, many of my friends, The Sentinels, are doing their duty with grace and dedication. When I was lost, they helped Rigmor until Sethius closed the borders. For three years, they did much good work for the people of Skyrim and Nirn when I could not. The only way today could have been better would involve them all sitting and laughing and wearing civilian clothes without a weapon in sight.
But alas, Nirn will be a place of turmoil for a few years more until one day, Rigmor and I can hand the Ruby Throne over to our child. Then peace will reign. Man, Mer, Khajiit, Argonian and Dov will be as one. The senselessness of war will be banished.
Until then, hold on tightly to those you love. Tell them what they mean to you. Listen to their concerns. Share your own. Accept that some may have to leave to fight for the freedoms we enjoy. Ensure they do so with love in their hearts.
For the last interruption of tonight’s eating, drinking and gossiping, I ask Olette to please join Her Royal Highness and me at the front of this table.”
Olette did not know this was going to happen. Either did Rigmor, but both guessed what I was going to announce.
Olette stood between Rigmor and me and seemed timid, which was not like her at all.
I said, “Rigmor and I stumbled upon our first orphan in a Thalmor controlled fort. Sorella has since found a home with Yngol and Angi, and we are delighted for her.
We have provided a home for hundreds of orphans, most of whom found themselves adopted into loving families. But there is one orphan, the second one I ever rescued, who waited long for that day when she could call people Mother and Father.
That orphan was a street urchin from Riften whose surrogate family has been The Sentinels. Well, she is an orphan no more.
Her name is now Lady Olette Dartwing, for she is the daughter of Rigmor and Wulf Septim.”
I hugged Olette, and then Rigmor squeezed her tight. As we made our way back to our seats, a crowd surrounded Olette, and she had to endure many minutes of hugs and congratulations. Sorella was smiling, for she knew the feeling of having new parents.
I was content to sit and watch the guests mingle, form groups, and dissipate to form new groups. I closed my eyes, and the sound was that of The Stars. The volume ebbing and flowing and conversations you can’t quite make out.
I was brought back to the moment by a familiar, gravelly yet feminine voice.
“Lydia said you are rebuilding The Blades.”
I opened my eyes to Tish standing close by.
“Yes, Tish. A Tsaesci Swordmaster, Yru, was my trainer and friend on Akavir. He is the Grandmaster of The Dragonguard and is now Grandmaster of The Blades. Esbern and Delphine have been demoted but given a chance to redeem themselves. I believe we will need expertise at fighting dragons if The Akaviri invade.”
“Me and B made it to the border when we were told of your wedding and how we were invited. Well, we made it back barely in time. B decided to help The Sentinels with those reformed bandits. He trusts The Sentinels, and it will be the longest he has been without me. It might be the first step towards some independence.”
‘I assume, even though The Blades are reforming, you still intend to go home?”
“New Orsinium is doing well, but I don’t want my clan to give up their tribal lands and move there. I think a large number of Orsimer ready to defend their traditional lands would be a deterrent even to Akaviri aboard dragons.”
“From the reports I read, the Orsimer of High Rock are still the scapegoats for problems caused by others. I sincerely hope you find your clan safe and that some semblance of the Old Orsinium can be preserved.”
“You are Bloodkin to all the Orsimer of The Empire, Wulf. You will always be welcome amongst us.”
“Thank you, Tish. Being Bloodkin is another honour I cherish.”
Just then, the far doors opened, and Brelyna entered.
I walk over to her, dreading to hear bad news about The Sentinels who accompanied Legate Hadvar.
“Your Majesty, the New Imperials were all combatants in the insurrection and therefore outlaws. Instead of killing the leaders and negotiating surrender, it was decided they were to be eliminated.”
“That is why I made them outlaws. If we do not stop them within Cyrodiil’s borders, they will become a problem for Skyrim or Hammerfell or another country.”
“I and the other mages spent hours discreetly teleporting more troops into Fort Pale Pass. When the New Imperials attacked the fort, they faced far more Legionnaires than expected. Legate Hadvar will let them waste troops with futile attempts to take the fort. When they give up and try to retreat, the rest of the Legionnaires will attack. The Sentinel’s, Meeko and B will arrive here within the hour. All are healthy and hungry.”
“Please, tell Tish that B is okay. I will thank The Sentinels and get a report from Legate Hadvar tomorrow.”
I spoke to Rigmor via our rings and said, “It is time for us to attend to other duties.”
“Okay. Let’s just go without a fuss. This place is secure, and we can be alone and relax.”
I walked over to Rigmor, and then we exited the dining hall.
Rigmor said, “I have had all new furniture placed into our room, which is very large. I think we may be spending quite some time here when we wish to speak discretely to visitors best hidden from prying eyes.”
I laughed as I walked over to a hot spa with Dwemer equipment filtering and heating the water.
Rigmor said, “I asked Lahar to come and repair the Dwemer mechanicals around Highreach. He found that most of it was in good order and needed basic maintenance. We must go and visit as we planned to do before you got lost.”
Rigmor led me through a couple of more doors. All sound from the banquet was eliminated. We might as well have been miles away.
Rigmor stood before the bed and said, “Well, how about we consummate the marriage?”
“I would rather just make love all night.”
“You idiot. Now, be careful when unbuttoning this dress. It cost a fortune!”
“Not my problem!”
Rigmor giggled, and no more words were needed.