Sundas, 14th Hearthfire, 4E 201
& Morndas, 15th Hearthfire, 4E 201
We made our way to the spa just before 7:00 AM.
I was enjoying a good soak when Rigmor looked over and asked, “Is your, you know, big or small?”
“We have just spent all night exploring every nook and cranny of each other, and you are still embarrassed to call things by their correct name.”
“Which parts are the nook and cranny?”
“It means every part!”
“Oh. Well, is your penis big or small?”
“It is bigger than some, smaller than others. Why does it matter?”
“No reason. I was just curious.”
Another five minutes passed before Rigmor asked, “The number of times we made love last night, is that normal?”
“Last night and this morning, you mean? No, it was way more than average.”
Another five minutes went by, and then Rigmor asked, “Are you worn out. I mean, could you do it again?”
Rigmor reached under the water, grabbed a part of my anatomy and exclaimed, “Well, there is the answer!”
After Rigmor had her wicked way and we finally left the spa, we sat, and each ate a large plate of eggs, bacon and sausages.
After helping wash the dishes, Rigmor asked, “Can I read your journal?”
“Yes, of course. The journal I carry with me covers my time in Skyrim. I have others that cover my time in Akavir. I will answer any questions, and I think it will be good for you to know what has been happening in my head.”
I sat in the chair across from Rigmor.
“Wulf, I had another dream last night. It was more vivid this time. The little girl was waiting for me on the battlefield outside of Whiterun. It was pouring with rain, and the fighting was over. The dead and wounded lay everywhere. She laughed and skipped through the butchered and cleaved, scaring off the crows. When she saw me, she came over to me and picked up a sword from the ground. It was very heavy, but she smiled at me and lifted it as high as she could above her head. Then she shouted at the top of her voice, ‘Freedom!’”
“Did the little girl do anything else?”
“Yes, she drew a line in the dirt with the sword. Then she held it out for me to take. As I tried to take it, she held out her other hand. She wanted something in return. But I didn’t have what she wanted, so she stopped smiling. Then it went dark. I heard her sobbing again, but I couldn’t find her.”
I knew what the girl wanted, but it was up to Rigmor to figure it out, thereby unblocking more memories. I was starting to suspect what those memories were.
I said to Rigmor, “The girl is the key to more memories. Sooner or later, you will figure out what she wants.”
“I don’t know what she wants and probably never will.”
“No, Rigmor. You will figure it out. Of that, I am certain.”
“Okay. I won’t worry about it for now.”
I handed Rigmor my journal and sat watching as she read it.
After some time, she looked at me and remarked, “I have been nasty and very unfair on occasions. How you handled my mood swings demonstrates great patience and understanding. What you wrote in this journal mirrors that. Not once have you raised your voice to me nor wrote anything bad about me.”
“If I didn’t understand your darkness, how could your laughter lift my spirits as it does?”
Rigmor handed me my journal.
She said, “I don’t have any questions except about my noble blood. You have not written about what the Arch-Mage had to say in your journal. Have you learnt more?”
“You are a great time four Granddaughter of Emperor Titus Mede the First and a First Cousin, five times removed, of Emperor Titus Mede the Second.”
“They wanted to sacrifice me because I have noble blood and was a virgin?”
“Yes. That is exactly why The New Order religious nuts put you on the table and were going to drink your blood.”
“And if I wasn’t a virgin?”
“Aedriath would have taken you to Alinor and renewed his depravity.”
“Any you think that virginity was an unnecessary requirement?”
“It is a ridiculous requirement based on associating chastity with purity. Your Mede blood was also not required, and there is nothing special about it.”
“There are hundreds of people with Mede blood.”
“Yes, and many of them are closer relations to one or both emperors.”
“You said in your journal that the whole ceremony was just to impress the devotees and unnecessary.”
“I didn’t listen for long, but the High Priest of Trinimac spouted mumbo jumbo and acted as if something mystical was about to happen. He could have just plunged the dagger into you without saying a word, and the Life Force transfer would have happened.”
“What about drinking my blood?”
“Total nonsense that would accomplish nothing.”
“And there weren’t ten knives?”
“Oh, did Boethia lie? What a shock! While I was still in her realm of Oblivion, she also said that you were already on the altar. Considering it took nearly four hours to reach you, that was another lie, or the priests managed four hours of the mumbo jumbo!”
“And a little boy was supposed to be sacrificed, not me?”
“I wonder if he was a Mede and how they could tell if he was a virgin? I suppose if he were young enough, it wouldn’t be a concern.”
“That argument I heard. Aedriath thought he had his ‘toy’ back, and his superiors told him they needed me?”
“The noble blood and virginity stuff answers the ‘why me?’ question I kept asking myself.”
“The perplexing question is, why have gods taken notice of you?”
“Celestine and others think it is us combined attracting attention, even if the Daedric Princes don’t realise it.”
“Father says The Nine have come to a similar conclusion.”
“That means all I have to do is get rid of you, and they will leave me alone!”
“If you keep attacking me like last night, I will die from nookie!”
“If you are going to be good at something, you need to practice no matter how tedious it gets.”
“Oh, I suppose I can handle the boredom if it is for a good cause.”
“All jokes aside, Wulf, it was special.”
“It was, but how do I describe it in my journal?”
“It was a historically important event. Future scholars will want to know the details to discuss it for hours while drinking wine and eating cheese.”
“If you dare, Wulf Septim, I will…I will…”
“You will what? Rip my clothes off and ravish me?”
“Only if you get some details wrong, and I have to remind you how it went.”
I was silent as I contemplated telling Rigmor about Mede’s offer.
After a few minutes, Rigmor stated, “That staring into infinity thingy you accuse me of seems contagious. You, my dear Guardian, are worried about something.”
“Okay, I think you can handle it, and I want to give you more time to think about it.”
“I don’t know why or how, but the County of Bruma has no count or countess. As compensation for the treatment of your father and family, His Imperial Highness is offering you the position of Countess of Bruma and all associated titles, lands, rights and properties.”
“It is an offer, Rigmor. You are free to accept or decline. Discuss it with your mother and Baa’Ren-Dar.”
“Can I talk about it now with you?”
“Yes, but there is more. Your father’s noble rank will be reinstated, and he will be exonerated of all blame for the Brenan River massacre. He won’t be pardoned as he committed no crime. This reinstatement will happen whether or not you accept the position of Countess.”
“And the lies about him will be taken out of the libraries?”
“Yes, Rigmor. The real story will be the official history.”
“If I refused to be countess, we could still return to Bruma as minor nobility?”
“Yes. I assume there would be some compensation paid as well.”
“I am eighteen years old, Wulf. How could I run a county?”
“Your empathy is the most important qualification. Advisors would assist with the day-to-day responsibilities.”
“I just want a normal life! What about our farm, Wulf? No, I couldn’t do it and won’t do it.”
“When we talked about a farm, I never doubted we would find the time to enjoy it. Being Countess would not require you to sit in a castle every day. You could do it, Rigmor!”
“What makes you think I am capable of being the Countess of Bruma?”
“When you see a beggar, what is your first impulse?”
“To do what you do. I want to give the beggar some money so they can have a meal.”
“What do you think when you see a beggar?”
“Why, when there is wealth all around them, are they forced to beg?”
“And there is the empathy I said is your most important qualification. It is impossible to eliminate homelessness as mental illness is often involved. However, a few charitable coins are a temporary solution. As countess, you could make changes in Bruma to reduce the need for people to beg. But if you provided shelter for those who can’t earn a living, the insane and mentally ill would also benefit. You could be a real noble.”
“A noble who serves the people. That appeals to me.”
“The politics of Cyrodiil are infamously dirty and convoluted. The Mede dynasty has reduced the open warfare between counties, but His Imperial Highness has no heirs. He has lost two sons under the age of twenty. His daughter was only ten when she and his wife were lost at sea. The future stability of Cyrodiil and The Empire will depend on who His Imperial Highness names as Heir Apparent.”
“You think I would not have much to worry about politically while Mede still lives?”
“I think he will protect you but would have to be careful when doing so.”
“If others think I am a favourite, they may start plotting my downfall.”
“See, there is nothing wrong with your political sense. You would do fine in that department.”
“And you would be there to help me!”
“Rigmor, I would be like a fish out of water concerning the politics of Cyrodiil.”
“If I can ever bring myself to wield a sword once again, I could introduce diplomacy with a greatsword. That would be far more interesting!”
“Yes, the ability to chop political opponents in half is an essential skill of any young countess.”
“When would my farts start smelling like roses?”
“You could dictate what songs can be sung in Bruma inn and taverns.”
“No more Ragnar the Red.”
“Did you know the name given to your father’s mother?”
“No. I know hardly anything about my ancestors.”
“Then read this….”
I handed Rigmor the information from the Arch-Mage.
After a few minutes, Rigmor started to laugh. Then she said, “Fjona the Red! No wonder I hate that song. It combines Dad’s and Gran’s names.”
“Jonte Malesam seems to be the nominated advisor and protector on behalf of The College. His daughter, Cerys, is only a few years older than you. She is a Master of Restoration and seems quite nice. You will probably like her. I will talk to the Arch-Mage and find out what qualifications Malesam has.”
“He is a devotee of Boethia!”
“That is only of concern when it comes down to loyalty. Boethia showed interest in your rescue because it benefitted her to do so. She even hinted that she would let you die if it benefitted her. Where would Malesam’s loyalty lie if Boethia demanded he does something against your best interests?”
“Well, the Arch-Mage is probably a smart arse like you and therefore has excellent reasons for making Malesam my advisor. As for being my protector, that position is already taken.”
“By somebody that I know?”
“Yeah, he is weird and has a terrible sense of humour.”
“I have heard he has great stamina.”
“Do you know that coverture laws apply in Cyrodiil?”
“What are they?”
“In Cyrodiil, when a female of any rank, except empress, marries a male, she forfeits all titles and lands to her husband. If we were to marry, you would no longer be Countess of Bruma. Everything given to you as compensation for what was done to Ragnar and your family would become mine to do with as I pleased.”
“But we would trust you!”
“That is not the point, Rigmor. It is wrong, no matter how legal it is. If you married a woman, she would not take anything from you. Why should having a penis give me the right to take away your family’s inheritance?”
“Oh, that would be difficult for you to accept, wouldn’t it?”
“We would have to be de-facto. However, that complicates things if we have children. We did not take precautions last night, Rigmor. Perhaps we should till you decide on the appointment, and we make plans from there.”
“No! A child with you, wedded or not, would be wonderful, marvellous. Anyway, who says last night will ever get repeated? I have sated my lust for you, Wulf, and must move on to other conquests.”
“So, I am shit on your boot once more?”
“I am afraid so.”
“If Lady Ramsbottom is ready, we will go forthwith and visit Legate Casius Varon.”
“Are you summoning any others? I am not wearing armour and not carrying a sword.”
“You have that pretty dagger I gave you in your leg holster. If a dragon was kind enough to stand still for a day, you could do real damage with that!”
“Wulf, I am serious.”
“Rigmor, I want us to spend time together. Something is troubling you, even if you don’t realise it. You may think all your memories have returned, but the dreams with the little girl prove otherwise. So no, I will be your only protector so we can figure out what it is. We are not travelling far on horses. Plus, I can always summon help if needed.”
“Have you stopped blaming yourself for my capture?”
“No, and probably never will. Come on. Ben will be bored of Hashire’s tall tales by now.”
“Do I get a kiss before we go?”
“No, Milady. You would end up molesting this poor servant on the floor!”
“Hey, we haven’t tried it on the floor yet!”
I quickly escaped before Rigmor pounced.
Ri’saad’s caravan had arrived earlier that morning and had just finished setting up their campsite. I envy their lifestyle and carefree attitude.
I walked over to talk to my friend.
“Hello, Ri’saad. How is business?”
“Very good. All of my caravans have sold a lot of our wares to soldiers even before we reach the cities. We have seen something strange that you might explain to this Khajiit.”
“Imperial and Stormcloak soldiers not trying to kill each other?”
“Yes, this is an inquisitive thing.”
“I can’t say too much, but I will warn you that things in Skyrim may become very chaotic very soon. If the danger I fear happens and you are near Whiterun, seek shelter inside. Any offer made to Jarl Balgruuf to man the walls would be appreciated.”
“It is not the dragons. They have been quiet since you killed the one nearby. Since the soldiers seem to be drinking together and not trying to slaughter one another, it is not Ulfric.”
“Sorry, Ri’saad. All I can say is that being outside the city walls will be dangerous.”
“A surprise attack would have all defenders behind the walls until an organised counter-attack sallies forth. Khajiit thinks you expect a battle, and as the defenders, you have chosen the ground. Khajiit thinks these grasslands will be the battlefield.”
“Did you hear that, Ri’saad?”
“This one heard nothing.”
“Good, because that is all I have to say about your supposition.”
“I understand. Emissary Baa’Ren-Dar has warned my people a similar thing but has been careful not to divulge too much.”
“Is there only one of him? He seems to pop up all over the place.”
“This Khajiit thinks he has some ancient device that helps him do his duties more efficiently.”
“Oh, he has his secrets purchased with much gold.”
“Khajiit needs to try harder to separate the Emissary from some of that gold.”
“Alas, I have no gems to trade today.”
“Thank you for taking care of our fallen.”
“Oh, I would have done more, but a dragon attacked.”
“That one did enough.”
“Kha’jay siirithse jer draqo.”
“Kha’jay krimir iso jer.”
Rigmor asked, “I know kha’jay means moons. What was the rest?”
“I said to Ri’saad, ‘Moons will light your path.’ That means your travels will bring success. He replied, ‘Moons smile upon you.’ That tells me that I am lucky. He tilted his head in your direction and quickly looked at you when he said it. He was implying I was lucky to be with you.”
“And are you lucky to be with me, Wulf Septim?”
“Ri’saad didn’t imply it was good luck.”
“You hate me?”
“Yes, well, not all parts of you.”
Light rain continued to fall as we collected our mounts.
The roads were busy with pilgrims, travelling salespeople and their guards.
Some idiots attacked us from the other side of the river.
I told Rigmor, “Take yourself and Ren behind Hashire. He will raise a magic barrier.”
Rigmor did as instructed.
The biggest problem with concealing oneself and shooting Fireballs at people is they give away your position. The attacking mage soon discovered his mistake.
I killed the five attackers with Unrelenting Force.
Then we continued on our way.
We rode past a Thalmor patrol who owed their lives to Rigmor being unarmed and unarmoured.
We stopped briefly to have a look at a giant’s encampment.
I remarked, “Four mammoths and an elevated camp. They must be giant nobles!”
“You are weird. No matter how often I say it, I feel the need to express that fact.”
Just as we reached Casius’ camp, snow started to fall.
Casius was sitting at his table and waved at us.
We sat down, and the idiocy began.
- Rigmor: Hey, Casius.
- Casius: Well met, Rigmor. It is so good to see you looking so well.
- Rigmor: We’re going to The College of Winterhold. I’m hoping to learn about my family.
- Casius: On second thought, you don’t look the best. Is something wrong?
- Wulf: Rigmor was poisoned by The New Order and suffered a very traumatic experience. As a result, she suffers from memory loss and is far from well, Casius.
- Casius: I see.
Casius did not see. He ignored my explanation and dragged up the very things most likely to reverse the excellent progress Rigmor had made.
- Casius: I noticed you no longer wear your armour or a weapon. You will need them shortly, so I hope this isn’t permanent.
- Rigmor: Hey! I don’t want to go back there, okay? As far as I know, my part in this is done.
- Casius: Rigmor, there is the threat of an imminent invasion. Have you forgotten that?
- Rigmor: I’ll just let you all take care of that. Armies fight armies, not young girls.
- Wulf: You are correct, Rigmor. There is no need for you to be on the battlefield. And Casius, I told you that Rigmor is not well. Stop harassing her!
- Casius: What if this young girl was to lead an army?
- Wulf: What are you talking about, Casius?
- Casius: I don’t know how or why, but scores of old Nord warriors have arrived at Yngol’s camp. They have come from all over Tamriel for the last few days. They want to see Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Why would they want to see me? Why are you telling me this?
- Casius: They are your father’s old brigade, the Sons of Talos. They have come to pledge their swords and lives to you. They have sworn loyalty to you and you alone, like it or not.
- Rigmor: They don’t even know me. I won’t do it! I can’t do it!
- Wulf: This is ridiculous! If they think they are fit to fight, their loyalty should be to saving their friends and family and not some warped reverence for their old commander’s daughter!
- Casius: You need to get a grip on yourself, young lady. These men? We will need them in the coming battle. The fate of Skyrim, no, Tamriel even, could depend on you.
- Wulf: All your battle plans were based on what we already have. You are now saying we would have failed, and only the late addition of these geriatrics gives us hope. That is bullshit, Casius! I don’t want troops on my side whose loyalty is to a dead man’s daughter. We need men who will fight for their home, country, and loved ones!
- Casius: You need to sort this out, Dragonborn. Whatever it takes, she needs to address these men.
- Rigmor: Hey! I’m right here, okay. I’m not invisible…and the answer is no!
Rigmor ran off, saying, “I won’t do it. I can’t do it. You can’t make me!”
Rigmor stood sobbing in the snow, and my rage was immense.
I said to Casius, “Don’t you fucking move!”
I then made my way to Rigmor.
She heard my anger in my footsteps and turned to face me, wiping tears from her eyes.
I whispered to her, “I am sorry, Rigmor. That was thoughtless of Casius.”
Rigmor sniffled, “Your yellow dragon eyes are showing, Wulf.”
“I won’t hurt Cassius, but neither will I go easy on him.”
“It is stupid! Those soldiers either fight for what is right as my father did or stop calling themselves Sons of Talos.”
“You are an adult, Rigmor. You make your own decisions, yet Yngol and Cassius seem to think you are a child.”
“Go and speak to Casius. I want to get out of here and visit Winterhold.”
“Okay. I will be back soon.”
I strode angrily towards Casius. He quickly stood. My fists were clenched as I stopped inches from his face. He stared at my dragon eyes in fear.
I growled, “I do not tell Rigmor what to do. She is a grown woman and can make her own decisions. And you have no right to demand she does anything. Rigmor is not under your command!”
“I didn’t realise she was in such a bad way, Dragonborn.”
“My name is Wulf. I have the courtesy to use your name!”
I was unconsciously flexing my hands. Casius looked at them, then returned to staring into my eyes.
I inched closer, then said, “You have no idea what Rigmor has endured! You have no idea how hard it has been for her to crawl out of the darkness where evil had tossed her!”
“Please forgive me.”
“If you have dragged her back to that darkness, forgiveness will be a long time coming, if ever!”
“I will go and apologise.”
“No, I don’t trust you to shut the fuck up and not harass her even more! If Rigmor does not speak to those men, I will. If the Dragonborn can’t get them to fight, then I will make sure their reputation is forever tarnished. They would not be worthy of the title Sons of Talos! They would have offended Ragnar with such stupidity! If you think they are sorely needed, get together with Yngol and develop a better plan that does not include them!”
I stormed out of Casius’ tent and found that Rigmor had moved further into the camp.
I walked up to her and whispered, “I swear by The Divines, the next person to upset you like that will get my mailed fist in their face.”
“Forget it. Can we go now?”
“Whatever you decide concerning the Sons of Talos, you have my full support.”
“I know, Wulf, I know.”
“We will ride to Whiterun. It will give us both time to calm down!”
“I might stay awake that far but I doubt I will last a mile on the carriage.”
“Perhaps you should have had more sleep?”
Rigmor was weary when she dismounted.
I laughed and said, “Yeah, I doubt you will last a mile.”
I hired the carriage for the long ride to Winterhold. I no longer used a lead for Ben as he was content to follow Hashire.
We hardly made it a mile before I was asleep. Rigmor had beat me to it and lay with her head on my lap when I succumbed.
The Winterhold stables were excellent, and the groomsmen knowledgeable and polite. Surprisingly, most of them were mages! I did warn them that the horses might vanish if I summoned them.
As we walked towards The College, Rigmor exclaimed, “So it is true! Part of the town did fall into the sea!”
“Yes. It is a mystery what caused that great storm and The Great Collapse. The locals blamed the mages because their buildings were mostly undamaged.”
“Do you think the mages caused it?”
“No, I don’t. The College’s buildings survived because of Dweomer placed on them. I would like to solve the mystery of that night and not just out of curiosity. The tragedy caused resentment towards mages when they used to be respected. That resentment was mainly directed towards many Dunmer mages who attended The College. Perhaps if I showed it was not the fault of mages, some of that resentment and racism would vanish.”
When we got closer to the bridge, Rigmor exclaimed, “Whoa! Is that The College of Winterhold?”
“It certainly is. Maybe we can have a quick look in the library while we are here.”
Master Mage Faralda guarded the bridge.
When we approached, she asked us, “None may pass without permission. Why do you seek entrance?”
“I am Wulf and the young lady is Rigmor. I believe Arch-Mage Savon Aren is expecting us?”
“Yes, he said you may visit, but he wasn’t sure when. He wants to speak to you on the roof of the main tower. Make your way there, and I will inform him of your arrival.”
As we followed Faralda across the bridge, I said to Rigmor, “It is good to see what I paid for finally.”
“What did you pay for?”
“Repairs to this bridge. The College and the Jarl had been bickering over whose responsibility it was since The Great Collapse. I read in a newssheet about the death of a young mage blown off by a sudden gust of wind. When I investigated, I found that half a dozen people had lost their lives, and it didn’t seem the bickering was ending soon. So, I sent an anonymous donation to the Jarl for the express purpose of fixing the bridge.”
“You should have told him who you were. They could have named it The Dragonbum Bridge.”
“I should have said the donation was from you. They could have named it The Bitchy Bridge.”
“We shall call that round a draw.”
“What? My jest was the better!”
“Yeah, right. Pffft!”
As we walked through the entrance, Rigmor asked, “What are those rock thingies called again?”
“Storm Atronachs. The College use them as guards.”
When we entered the courtyard and looked at the central tower, Rigmor whined, “To the top? My poor legs will drop off!”
“Sadly, Rigmor, that whine only deserves a six out of ten.”
We walked past a Thalmor Justiciar who was giving a Master Mage a hard time in the usual condescending tone used with us ‘lesser beings.’
We entered the main building, and I explained to Rigmor, “What you don’t see of The College is far bigger than what you do see. It is mostly inaccessible to the public and most students.”
I was subjected to whining and complaints as we tackled the seemingly endless stairs. They were replaced by silence when we entered the library.
Rigmor looked with her mouth open in astonishment at the many thousands of books on display.
I told her, “This is a tiny part of their collection. The College of Winterhold has many scrolls and books not in The Imperial Library.”
“Do they edit them to make the Dominion happy as the Imperial Scholars do?”
“Never! Many mages are also historians. They like to search for the truth in all things.”
“Can we just live in this library for a couple of years?”
“When I join The College, I can get you visiting rights.”
When we finally reached the roof, I approached a statue of Shalidor. It was a smaller version of the one in the courtyard.
Rigmor asked, “Who is that?”
“Shalidor, one of the greatest mortal mages. He lived in the first era. Unfortunately, much of what he accomplished has been exaggerated over time. It is hard to tell history from fantasy.”
“But you said The College is full of historians who search for the truth?”
“It is, but Shalidor’s writings have been lost. He locked himself in a place called Labyrinthian for decades while he studied many aspects of Magicka. Whatever is in those writings could prove invaluable. That is if they still exist.”
“And you, my dear Wulf, would dearly like to search for them.”
Something tugged at my conscience, so I looked over the edge.
Rigmor asked, “Is there something wrong, Wulf?”
“There is a Dragon Mound down there. It is not on any maps or within The Atlas of Dragons. The buried dragon remains are aware. I did not know that was possible.”
Rigmor looked and said, “It appears to be some sort of temple. Perhaps the dragon was worshipped?”
“All of them were when they ruled Nirn. But you are right, that is an ancient temple. It is strange, and I need to investigate it. So, it is another thing to put on my task list.”
As I contemplated the Dragon Mound, The Arch-Mage arrived.
- Wulf: Greetings Arch-Mage. I am Wulf Welkynd, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines.
- Rigmor: And I am Rigmor.
- Savos: Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, descendant of Emperor Titus Mede the First.
- Rigmor: Apparently.
- Savos: It is a pleasure to meet you both. Before we speak further, let me welcome you, Wulf, as a new member of The College of Winterhold and present this symbol of your rank to you.
Savos handed me a Master Mage amulet.
- Wulf: I am honoured, but surely you don’t hand these out, or even accept admittance to The College, without testing an applicant’s abilities?
- Savos: Usually, no. However, I listen when Master Celestine, the best Restoration mage to train here in a thousand years, vouches for somebody’s talents. I am curious what kind of spells The Psijic Order would allow being shared.
- Wulf: I can demonstrate a few spells for you. Before I do that, what can you tell us about Jonte Malesam? Why did The College decide he would be the one to be Rigmor’s adviser and protector?
- Savos: Jonte is no mage, but his legal knowledge and political savvy make him an ideal candidate. His adopted daughter, Cerys, is a competent mage and would be tasked with protecting Rigmor. She would also provide advice and friendship from a young female perspective, which is not an area of Jonte’s expertise!
- Rigmor: If I accepted the post of Countess, are other advisors already in place, and how did the position become vacant?
- Savos: Count Carvain lost his life in a riding accident almost one year ago. His wife was given the title of Countess. Several months after the loss of the Count, their only child, Sofia, vanished without a trace. She was last seen by her mother, who kissed her goodnight. Sofia complained about voices in her head telling her to go somewhere. It is thought the young girl, who was only thirteen years of age, wandered out into the wilderness that night and perished to a predator or exposure. Extensive searches found no traces of her. Not a scrap of clothing, hair or anything else.
- Rigmor: Wulf, do you think it was the vampires?
- Wulf: There is a chance it could be. We would have to know more to say Sofia was a victim confidently.
- Savos: Vampires?
- Wulf: There is a clan of vampires existing in several provinces. They cast a dweomer on children who then try and reach one of their lairs. Sofia’s voices in her head could have been caused by them or, more likely, a sign of mental illness.
- Rigmor: The poor Countess! What happened then?
- Savos: After several months of relentless grieving, the Countess took her own life.
Rigmor burst into tears. And I hugged her till she stopped. I offered her a clean kerchief, and she composed herself.
- Savos: I can see you would make a fine countess, Rigmor. The Carvain family was well-loved and ruled Bruma for centuries, using empathy and compassion as their cornerstones.
- Rigmor: Thank you, Arch-Mage. You were going to tell us about exiting advisors I would inherit with the position.
- Savos: As far as I know, only one has shown interest in remaining and only if there was a young person they could aid. His name is Freathof, and he is a scholar of renown.
- Wulf: Yes, I have read some of his books. He doesn’t seem to specialise but has a broad spectrum of interests.
- Savos: Indeed. He was a tutor to Sofia and has taken her loss to heart. It would be good to give him purpose again.
- Wulf: You seem well informed of the goings-on in Bruma.
- Savos: The College has a duty, as do you, Dragonborn, to the people of Nirn. We have our informants to keep us appraised of political situations and alliances.
- Rigmor: Wulf has concerns about Jonte Malesam’s loyalty to me, whether I accept the position in Bruma or not.
- Wulf: His devotion to Boethia may prove detrimental to his duties, Arch-Mage.
- Savos: We considered that and many other factors before choosing him. Cerys is not a devotee of Boethia, and we have seen no actions by Jonte to question his dedication to the Royal Decree.
- Wulf: I have. But I will not second guess your choice, Arch-Mage.
- Savos: Speak to me after you have talked to Jonte and have decided he is not appropriate. Your dedication to Rigmor is unquestionable, and I think it goes beyond the role of guardian. It is only fitting that you two have the last say on who The College appoints to fulfil the position.
- Rigmor: Agreed. We shall speak to you after visiting him if we think he is not suitable.
- Wulf: Now, I can demonstrate a few spells if you wish.
- Savos: That would be most enlightening.
- Rigmor: I haven’t seen many of your fancy spells either.
- Wulf: Spells take time to cast. The Voice is quicker.
- Rigmor: Yeah, we are mostly reacting to something nasty already attacking us.
I stood back and said, “The first spell is from the Restoration School. It is called ‘Guardian Circle.’ The caster is constantly healed whilst most undead who enter it will flee.
I cast the spell, and Savos examined it with expert eyes. He asked, “How much of your Magicka reserves does the spell consume?”
“I can detect a person’s Magicka reserve. You have exceptional levels, Arch-Mage, but it is still less than twenty per cent of mine. Thanks to Dweomer on my armour, this spell consumes about one point three per cent of my Magicka reserve.”
I dismissed Guardian Circle and said, “There are no Master Destruction spells I can safely demonstrate. Instead, I will show you an Expert level spell called Bombardment. Each ball of fire does twice the damage of the Inferno spell. The mage can keep firing the balls, multiples per second until their Magicka is depleted. I could fire them indefinitely as could most Masters of Destruction if they regenerate Magicka fast enough.”
I prepared the spell, faced upward and released two seconds of fireballs. They could be seen for many seconds, which demonstrated their range.
Savos exclaimed, “I dread to think of the damage the Master Level spells can do!”
“They are not pleasant, Arch-Mage. The trouble with normal Invisibility is that many actions, such as opening a door or casting a spell, will dispel its effect. Now for a Master Level Illusion spell called Shroudwalk. Watch the difference!”
I cast Shroudwalk and became invisible.
I then cast Fireball into the air. Each time, I became briefly visible before becoming invisible once more.
I said to the Arch-Mage, “Shroudwalk will automatically recast invisibility five times. The Psijic Order restricted it to that number to protect those with lesser reserves of Magicka. Theoretically, you could make it recast Invisibility unlimited times.”
Savos replied, “Battlemages would find that of tremendous use when facing a large army. As soon as they cast a spell, a wall of arrows and enemy spells head their way!”
I explained, “This next spell is one that I would be hesitant to share as its overuse can unbalance the natural order of things. It allows a mage to control the weather.”
I made it rain.
Then I made it snow.
Then I returned the weather to the sunny day it was supposed to be.
Savos exclaimed, “That is remarkable! But yes, it is not a spell that should be widely known.”
“If it is a minor change, such as making it foggy, it has tactical use. Unfortunately, once learnt, you have access to all weather types.”
“I am surprised the Psijic Order taught you anything at all. They have been reluctant to share their knowledge in the past.”
“They only taught me snippets, and that was after a major row within their council. They rightly believe that their knowledge cannot be trusted outside of those who cannot remain neutral.”
“It is easy to remain neutral when you vanish for hundreds of years, thereby remaining ignorant of Nirn’s problems.”
‘The Psijic Order would help in a crisis. That is why they agreed to teach me. They have information on future events via their library of Elder Scrolls. They decided I would be trusted and trained to handle these future events better. I am not guaranteed to be successful, and any Elder Scroll read would suddenly reflect the actual outcome for this timeline.”
“The study of time is guaranteed to make even the smartest mage dribble.”
“Which floor is Jonte’s quarters?”
“Head to the bottom floor and ask for directions. Otherwise, I might send you completely the wrong way!”
“Unless we come and tell you otherwise, assume we are happy with your choice, Arch-Mage.”
We walked down the many flights of stairs. Rigmor complained how going down hurts her thighs as much as going up.
We were directed to a door leading to Malesam’s quarters.
We entered and went down more stairs to a long corridor.
All the doors on the right were closed, so we continued to the end of the corridor.
An open door revealed Cerys seemingly asleep on the only bed in the room.
We entered the room, and Malesam sat waiting for us to approach.
I stood back as Rigmor walked up to him.
Malesam said, “Ahhh! Rigmor’s Guardian, and the famous, or should I say infamous, Rigmor of Bruma. I am honoured to make your acquaintance at long last.”
Rigmor replied, “Hi, I’m hoping to find out about my ancestry.”
“Ahhh, yes! Rigmor, why don’t you go with Cerys. She will take good care of you and explain a little about all that. She also has some heirlooms left in good keeping at The College for your perusal.”
Cerys walked over and stood next to Rigmor.
Rigmor looked at me and asked, “Dragonborn?”
I asked Malesam, “How far away will Rigmor and Cerys be?”
“In the room at the end of the corridor. A few doors away.”
“It’s will be okay, Rigmor. The doors will remain open, so I am only seconds away. Go with Cerys while I discuss some things with Jonte.”
Cerys said, “Come this way, Rigmor. There is so much to talk about.”
As they walked down the corridor, Rigmor said to Cerys, “This place is so cool!”
“Cool? Are you cold?”
“Cool means great from where I come from.”
“Oh! I have never heard of that. How interesting.”
I sat in the chair opposite Malesam and said, “We are here as you requested. What did you want to tell us?”
“It is a rather long story.”
“Malesam, if I am to keep Rigmor safe, I need to know all.”
“A long time ago, two hundred years to be precise, there was a mercenary by trade known as Rigmor of Cyrodiil. She had a pretty uneventful early life taking petty contracts until she joined an army of outlaws. The same outlaw army led by Titus Mede, the Colovian Warlord.”
“He started the Mede Dynasty when he ousted Thules the Jibbering in 4E 17.”
“Yes, and it was a sad tragedy then that after giving birth to a baby girl three years later, Rigmor of Cyrodiil became gravely ill and died shortly afterwards, aged thirty-eight. Physicians attributed her death to an unwanted pregnancy at a late age.”
Malesam dates did not coincide with the tree I was given. I will have to investigate the discrepancy later.
I asked, “What happened to the illegitimate child of The Emperor and Rigmor?”
“So, you have guessed already. Titus Mede was beside himself with grief, and arrangements were made for the child to be adopted by The College of Winterhold by Royal Decree. The infant was duly adopted and her belongings kept in storage therein.”
“An unusual arrangement, to say the least!”
“The child was named Morgan. Morgan of Winterhold was summoned to the Imperial City at her coming of age. She was made Imperial Court Mage to the Mede Dynasty and became a very powerful influence. Before she left to take up her newly appointed duties, it is rumoured she had used her late mother’s armour to create an Amulet of Talos.”
“It is in the shape of an Amulet of Talos but does not carry his blessing. The Dweomer on it is average.”
“She also used a Daedric ceremonial blade her mother had kept as a souvenir to strengthen a bastard sword’s properties.”
“That was impressive work! Its blade was keen, and it was a fine weapon when I placed Dweomer on it. However, it was no better than many swords I have in my collection and what Akaviri warriors wield.”
“The New Order could not reproduce her work.”
“It seems Morgan was a fine mage, and I assume she became quite influential in court?”
“The Emperor would always seek Morgan’s guidance in the Empire’s affairs. She was overshadowing the Heir to the Dynasty, Attrebus Mede. Attrebus was fiercely jealous of the foreign ‘Witch’. So much so, at the event of the Emperor’s death, Attrebus Mede struck. Morgan and her husband, a Palace Guard Captain, were accused of a plot to usurp power. Her husband was slain, and Morgan escaped fleeing Cyrodiil with their only child.”
“I do not believe that of Attrebus Mede! He was a hero of the people before he came to power and had no reason to be jealous of Morgan. However, his early hero status was false. His father had propped him up with staged heroic events. Later on, Attrebus became one of the greatest heroes in Tamriel’s history! He travelled to Oblivion and helped defeat Lord Umbriel, thereby saving Tamriel from utter devastation! Attrebus married a commoner against all convention. They named their first child and future Emperor after an Argonian who had helped against Lord Umbriel. Attrebus was a man of high morals who believed in service to the people. If anybody accused Morgan, it would have been the Elder Council. They would not want Attrebus to have a strong advisor. They would have wanted a puppet emperor.”
“Even if what you say is the truth, Morgan’s disappearance only confirmed the rumours that she was the bastard child of Titus Mede I and Rigmor of Cyrodiil. She and her child, Morganna, were never heard from again.”
“Attrebus was not a bastard but try and find his mother’s name in the records. There is something strange with that whole era of the Mede Dynasty. Please, continue.”
“One fine day, Morgan’s heirlooms miraculously surfaced. The Thalmor had found them in a chest belonging to Ragnar of Bruma. The identity of Rigmor, his only heir and her history became known to The College. Unfortunately, we were too late to intervene. The College you see is duty-bound to protect and serve the descendants of Morgan of Winterhold.”
“The College has no political power. It could not have intervened, and it has done an abysmal job of protecting or serving Rigmor.”
“Before she leaves here, it is my duty to tell her of her ancestry. Emperor Titus Mede II is to restore her name and accept her family as part of the Mede Dynasty. He is also offering her the position of the recently vacated Countess of Bruma if she desires it. All she has to do is accept, and it is hers.”
“You don’t know Rigmor’s mental state or what she had been subjected to! Telling her of her Mede blood may impact her recovery.”
“I am afraid this doesn’t concern you anymore, Guardian. Tell her I must.”
“I made a sacred oath to Rigmor to be her guardian. Only Rigmor can release me from that oath. I have risked my life many times upholding that oath. Yet you dare sit there and tell me some ancient pledge of this College somehow trumps that oath! If I think this information is detrimental to Rigmor at this time, and you try to tell her, what do you think I will do?”
“I shall ignore the threat, Guardian. You see, killing me would serve no purpose. She will eventually come to know. Unless you intend to lock her away in some dark dungeon or gallivant around the wilds of Tamriel like a common bandit.”
I stood and told Malesam, “Stand and place your hand on my shoulder. Do that right now, or I will make it so you can’t tell Rigmor anything. You will even forget your name!”
Malesam wisely did as I instructed. I pressed his hand to my shoulder, and try as he might, he could not remove it.
I said, “Hold your breath. This trip should take about three seconds.”
I willed myself to my room in Aetherius.
We materialised a little over three seconds later, and I let go of Malesam’s hand. He gripped his head and said, “What have you done to me? Where are we?”
I growled, “I have done nothing to you yet. We are in Aetherius, and your headache is from the absolute cold of the ethereal plane.”
Malesam looked up into my yellow dragon eyes and recoiled.
“Relax, Malesam. I advise you not to run. The only way out of here is by me teleporting you back, or you can leap out one of the windows. Since that would leave you floating in Aetherius, I wouldn’t advise it.”
To his credit, Malesam controlled his fear, stood upright and met my eyes.
He asked, “Why have you brought me here?”
“My Dovah wants to speak to you. He does not know pity, Malesam, and is very good at detecting lies. I brought you here as a precaution. I don’t know what hooks Boethia has in you. Can she see and hear everything you do? It has been known for Daedric Princes to use such Dweomer. You might not even know if she did such a thing to you. You take a risk when you open your unprotected mind to a Dark Lord. But here, in Aetherius, she could not see or hear through you. Similarly, The Divines cannot see into Oblivion. Sit down, and we will have a nice, private chat.”
Malesam sat. I noticed a mempo on the table. I picked it up and felt the same Dweomer on the helm of the armour The Nine had made for me.
I walked over and placed it with my usual armour.
I then returned and sat opposite Malesam.
I asked, “How are you feeling?”
“Queasy. There is something not right about this place.”
“You are alive and do not belong in Aetherius. Your Life Force will slowly drain until you drop dead. Your Consciousness will then enter The Void and remain there until a god collects it, a necromancer uses it, or the Kalpa ends.”
“How long have I got, and haven’t you left Rigmor unprotected?”
“Don’t worry, Malesam. We will be finished here well before you drop dead. I have also slowed time in this room, so we shall return to The College a few seconds after we left. And if you are wondering why I can survive in Aetherius, I will remind you, I have the soul of a dragon.”
“What do you want to talk about?”
“I slaughtered Boethia’s champions and am now her sole champion. Even if you don’t respect my titles of Champion of The Divines, The Dragonborn or Azura’s Champion, some respect to The Champion of Boethia is due, don’t you think?”
I held up the Master Mage Amulet.
“Also, as a Master of The College of Winterhold, you are my underling. I like that term, don’t you?”
“I didn’t know!”
“Of course not. Boethia didn’t tell you! You know fuck all, Malesam, yet your arrogance would suggest otherwise. Look where it has got you. Suggesting I would be a common bandit was the stupidest thing you could have said!”
Silence from Malesam.
I continued, “You have no idea of Rigmor’s mental state. If you tell her about Mede’s offer or her Mede bloodline, it may impede her recovery and even reverse her progress. That would be harming Rigmor, and per both the Royal Decree and my oath to Rigmor, I would be justified in killing you and would not hesitate to do so!”
“You believe you would be protecting Rigmor by killing me?”
“Absolutely. But that is not my only concern, Malesam. I will ask you a question, and I advise you to answer truthfully. Deception will prove you are untrustworthy, and you will not be sent to Bruma as The College’s representative. Tell me the truth, and we shall discuss the situation further.”
“Okay, ask your question.”
“When I defeated Boethia’s champions and returned to Nirn, you knew where Rigmor was and had organised a boat. The organising of a boat strongly suggests prior knowledge of Rigmor’s whereabouts. If you did know and didn’t tell me, you failed in your duty to protect Rigmor by withholding that information from me. Therefore, Jonte Malesam, I advise you to answer truthfully. Did you know where Rigmor was being held before I entered Oblivion to fight Boethia’s champions?”
“No, I did not know Rigmor’s location before you entered Oblivion. Boethia asked me to organise a boat, any boat, from Dawnstar. That leaky old rowboat was the best I could do at short notice. No captain would let me charter their vessel without giving the destination first. Some of them threatened to toss me off their vessel when I tried. Boethia told me Rigmor’s location moments before you materialised in front of me.”
I stood and walked around the table. Malesam looked at me worriedly.
“See my eyes, Malesam. I have put my Dovah away as his job is done. Stand and place your hand on my shoulder once more.”
I willed us back to Nirn, and Malesam sat.
I informed him, “We have been gone less than ten seconds.”
“Dragonborn, if we had continued the conversation past the point of your anger flaring, I would have agreed that now is not the time to tell Rigmor.”
“Your arrogance was responsible for my anger flaring, Malesam. However, I am interested in why you would have agreed to delay telling Rigmor.”
“With an imminent invasion looming and all that, it would be prudent to await the outcome of such an event. We would, after all, need to make sure the Emperor is still in residence at the Imperial City.”
“So, in your expert opinion, Rigmor would need to be kept ignorant of her Mede blood if The New Order wins and the Emperor is deposed?”
“The New Order targeted Rigmor because of her noble blood. We might have been better prepared and done things differently if you had done the right thing and told us weeks ago about her noble blood. Instead, Rigmor has suffered once again and asked herself why? You failed in your duty to protect Rigmor by only telling me this information now. You would fail in your duty to protect her again if Rigmor was not told because Emperor Mede II no longer sat on the Ruby Throne. His three children died, and so has his wife. There is no Heir Apparent. Rigmor, if she was Countess of Bruma, could be regarded as a legitimate heir to the Ruby Throne. People who knew of her bloodline would tell others, and Rigmor’s life would again be in grave danger whether she knew of her Mede blood or not. It does not take The New Order to depose Emperor Mede II for this to occur!”
“Oh? Is that all? You are not proving to me you know how to protect Rigmor, Malesam.”
“Give me your word of honour that as soon as she is fit and well, you will deliver to Rigmor her legacy.”
“I would be derelict in my duty as her sworn Guardian if I did not tell her for the simple reason, as I just explained, ignorance has been and would be a danger to her. No Malesam, you will not get my word as I am already bound by oath to tell Rigmor for her protection. You made the suggestion earlier that I would never tell her. That proves to me that you are ignorant of who I am. I will also remind you I am a Master Mage of The College and don’t have to do anything you say.”
Silence from Malesam.
I asked him, “Ragnar was of the same Mede bloodline as Rigmor. How many generations before him were of the same Mede bloodline? You said it was her noble blood that made the gods take notice of Rigmor. You have no idea how many other descendants of Rigmor of Cyrodiil and Emperor Titus Mede the First exist! Why did the gods show interest in Rigmor and not those before her with Mede blood? Even if regarded as royal, her noble blood is not why the gods have taken notice of Rigmor. The Daedric Princes cannot know such things and any claim otherwise is a lie.”
Malesam looked disturbed once more. When will he realise Boethia is not to be trusted?
Eventually, Malesam said, “I don’t have much choice, do I?”
“No, Malesam, you don’t. I am a Master Mage of this College. I am telling you that to protect Rigmor, as is the duty of The College, she must be told of her royal blood and legacy no matter the outcome of the invasion. As Rigmor’s sworn Guardian, I am telling you that I will decide when Rigmor is told.”
Rigmor came running into the room and excitedly said, “Dragonborn, you have so gotta see this! Come on, this way!”
Malesam and I walked to the other room at a more dignified pace than Rigmor’s mad dash.
On the table was an ancient set of armour and a magnificent greatsword.
After taking a close look at the items, I stepped back.
- Wulf: Rigmor, what has made you so excited?
- Rigmor: Morgan of Winterhold, you know, my great times four Grandmother, left this armour. Cerys says it belongs to me. Isn’t it wonderful?
- Wulf: That is a fantastic suit of armour and sword.
- Rigmor: Did you learn more about my Mede blood and the offer from His Imperial Highness?
- Wulf: Some. For instance, some of the dates on the ancestral tree we were given might be wrong.
- Malesam: You said Rigmor was not ready to learn about all that!
- Wulf: I said it was not up to you when she learned about it and that as her Guardian, I would decide when Rigmor was ready. The day before yesterday, she wasn’t healthy enough to learn everything. Yesterday morning she was. And yes, I would still have stopped you if you had tried. I might not have killed you, but I doubt you would have enjoyed the alternative.
- Rigmor: If I learned of my noble blood or Mede’s offer earlier, it might have set my recovery back. Wulf was the only one who could judge when I was ready. I can’t believe a stranger thought they had a right to dictate what was best for me! Who do you think you are, Jonte Malesam?
- Malesam: I…um…well….
- Wulf: Rigmor, why don’t you try the armour on? You don’t need to touch or wear the sword.
- Rigmor: Do you think I should?
- Malesam: Please do, my child. We await with anticipation.
- Wulf: Please do, my grown woman who is not a child!
- Rigmor: Okay.
- Wulf: Jonte and I will wait in the other room while Cerys assists you.
We walked to the other room and stood, waiting.
I warned Malesam, “You will have to comfort Cerys.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just listen. Cerys is about to learn more about Rigmor in a few seconds than you think you know.”
A minute later, Cerys issued a loud gasp. Then she started sobbing uncontrollably. Rigmor started talking to her in soothing tones, telling her it was okay.
Malesam’s voice was worried as he asked, “What is happening?”
“Cerys just saw the scars inflicted on Rigmor by The Thalmor. Dozens of welts on her back that no healer has been able to remove. They are so painful that Rigmor cannot sleep on her back.”
“I didn’t know!”
“You know nothing about Rigmor! You know nothing of how she has suffered at the hands of The Thalmor. You failed to realise what it was like for her to fall into the hands of the same person who did such things to her. You said, ‘She is unharmed.’ She was poisoned! I swear that the love Rigmor and I share saved my life at Diamond Ridge and Rigmor’s life after they poisoned her!”
“I have been wrong about so many things.”
“That is because you believe everything Boethia tells you and are full of arrogance. If Rigmor accepts the position of Countess, The College will want to appoint a Court Mage, an advisor. You are the nominee for that position.”
“Yes, I am not a mage but have the relevant skills for the position.”
“I am a good judge of character. I have to be to survive. Cerys is full of compassion and empathy. That is why I foresaw her response when she would see Rigmor’s scars. Would Cerys be with you in Bruma?”
“Yes, as Cerys would be of greater help to Rigmor with some things than I ever could.”
“Rigmor and I know there may be long periods when The Divines call me away. If Rigmor accepts the position offered, I would be trusting the welfare of Rigmor to others in that rotten environment of Cyrodiil politics. The Arch-Mage wants to know my assessment of you. What do I tell him?”
“I would not harm Rigmor if Boethia asked me to. She has never asked me to do something that would harm another. I have nothing to fear from telling her no if she did ask.”
“Boethia may continue to show interest in Rigmor because she sniffs a potential gain along the way. If you remember that, you can better judge her motivations concerning Rigmor.”
“You will not speak against me to the Arch-Mage?”
“I am sure he was meticulous in selecting you, and I am not in a position to second guess him. I would be lost in that world of backstabbers and court intrigue. I assume you have excellent skills suitable for that environment, so I will not speak against you.”
“I hope you appreciate the trust I am showing in you!”
Malesam was silent once more and remained that way for another fifteen minutes.
Finally, Rigmor called out, “Ready, come and look!”
Malesam and I made our way to the other room.
Malesam and Cerys stared at Rigmor, and I knew what they saw. Rigmor was a Swordmaiden of old as if magically transported from a classic painting. She was regal, commanding and beautiful. With that armour on and a sword in her hand, Rigmor could command the world, not just the bunch of geriatrics waiting at Yngol’s camp.
- Rigmor: Well, how does it look?
- Malesam: Remarkable! It is a fine example of antique armour forged by the famous Khajiit armourer, ZZ’Jay.
- Rigmor: Did Morgan wear it in battle?
- Malesam: Yes, when she accompanied Emperor Titus Mede the First on a campaign.
- Rigmor: I guess I could get used to it. I love it.
- Wulf: Rigmor, it fits perfectly.
- Rigmor: Poor Cerys was shocked at my scars. I thought she would have been told about them?
- Wulf: They knew very little about you, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Cerys, could you please help me get out of this armour. I can’t see where most of the buckles are.
- Cerys: Yes, of course.
Malesam and I returned to the other room. He sat while I remained standing.
Malesam asked, “Did you make that room in Aetherius?”
“No, Talos did. It is in the section of Aetherius where Sovngarde resides. When at Boethia’s shrine, you saw me cast a spell to teleport. With my room in Aetherius, I just will myself there and back. The travel time is the same. It always takes a few seconds to travel between planes.”
“Do others know you and Rigmor are in love?”
“Yes, even Boethia. She tried to torment me about my love for Rigmor. Your mistress can be a nasty bastard, Malesam. Lady Mara says our souls are intertwined, and we would find each other in every Kalpa.”
“What problems are leftover from the poisoning?”
“It was trauma and fear combined with the poison that has caused issues. Rigmor lost all her memories but has regained most of them. She will not touch the sword, which is a symptom of the remaining issues. We are working through them but don’t expect Rigmor to fight on the battlefield against The New Order. She doesn’t want to and shouldn’t have to.”
“Will Rigmor accept Mede’s offer?”
“I don’t know. Rigmor will speak to Baa’Ren-Dar and her mother about it and then decide. She might even wait to see how our fight against The New Order progresses before announcing her decision.”
“What was Malacath like?”
“Delusional, probably insane. I felt sorry for Malacath, but he has no rights to Mundus. He was once a champion of Auri-El and deserved a better fate.”
Malesam went quiet and closed his eyes.
It took far less time to get the armour off than to don it. It was not long before Rigmor called out, “I am ready to go, Dragonbum!”
Malesam opened his eyes, and I said, “Attend to Cerys, Malesam. She will have lots of questions. It is terrible to realise there are others capable of such cruelty. Rigmor was only fourteen when they tried to destroy her spirit and failed!”
I saw Cerys exiting the room and said, “Thank you for helping her.”
“You look after her, Guardian!”
“Maybe you can help do that in Cyrodiil?”
Cerys smiled then went to join Malesam.
I walked into the room and said to Rigmor, “Let’s go.”
“I have made up my mind, Wulf. I will speak to The Sons of Talos.”
“Are you sure? I don’t like the idea at all.”
“I think I have to do it to heal.”
“Okay. Then we shall head for Yngol’s camp.”
“What am I going to say to them?”
“Make them scared of what The New Order is planning to do. Make them want to fight because it is the right thing to do.”
“Would they refuse to fight just because I am not leading them?”
“I would hope not. It would be a pity if I had to tear apart their reputation for such idiocy!”
“Dad would expect better of them.”
“I will be right beside you.”
“I know. So how are we getting there?”
“Let’s walk to the end of the bridge, so I am clear of any protections around The College. I will then teleport the horses and us to Windhelm stables. We will ride from there. I will carry the armour and sword.”
As soon as we reached the end of the bridge, I teleported.
Then I summoned Rigmor and our mounts.
As we approached Yngol’s camp, Rigmor said, “I want to do this wearing Morgan’s armour. Can we find some convenient bushes where you can help me change into it?”
We found a well-secluded spot not far from Yngol’s camp. I can read Rigmor like a book. She was terrified of what she was about to do.
I asked her, “I don’t think this is necessary. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Just help me get into Morgan’s armour.”
It took about twenty minutes to get Rigmor kitted out.
I said to her, “We can just jump on our horses and ride away. You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, I do. Just hand me the sword.”
I reluctantly handed the sword to Rigmor, who winced and then sheathed it.
There was something wrong. I asked Rigmor, “How do you feel?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes. How do you feel?”
“I feel invincible. I am an unstoppable force. A born killer, a widow maker. A true Nord Warrior and my enemy’s worst nightmare. The scariest thing of all is it excites me, it invigorates me, it’s all I have ever known, and I feel good. But once this is done, know this. It will be over. So, don’t you ever ask me about it again! Do you understand me?”
“Rigmor, how do you feel?”
That was not what Rigmor expected from me. I was not going to pander to her mood this time.
“Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, the woman who I share my soul with, is none of those things! You certainly do not enjoy battle or killing, so cut the bullshit! Therefore, I will ask again. Tell me, my beloved, how do you feel?”
“Terrified. Sickened by the touch of the sword. Wondering why I am wearing this armour and what could I possibly say to The Sons of Talos.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“I am not doing this for Casius or Yngol, and I know you don’t want me to. I am doing this for my father. It is what he would have wanted. I owe him this much, considering my failure so far. You know, he might even forgive me.”
“You never gave up the search for your mother, found her and rescued her against incredible odds! You have fought beside a Dragonborn against dragons. You have wreaked bloody revenge on those who ripped your family apart. Despite all you have been through, you are compassionate, full of empathy and see the beauty in all things. Why would Ragnar’s chest not be bursting with pride? What is there to forgive you for?”
This trip to Yngol’s camp was a mistake. I have undone all the work since rescuing Rigmor by stupidly agreeing to this idiotic and unnecessary farce!
I pleaded, “Tell me why you should do this, and why should I stand back and let you tear yourself apart?”
“These men might be needed. They could make a difference to us winning or losing. That is what Cassius said.”
“That was bullshit on Casius’ part. But as I said at The College, make these men want to save their loved ones and fight for reasons other than following Ragnar’s daughter!”
“That is all anybody, including Ragnar, could ask for.”
We decided to walk through Yngol’s camp. The Sons of Talos were yelling out how they fought beside Ragnar and how they knew her father, etcetera. Young Stormcloaks wondered what the fuss was all about.
We were getting hemmed in. Yngol saw us and yelled, “Back off! Let her through. Back off and let the child through!”
As Rigmor climbed the stairs to a platform, I approached Yngol.
I said, “Rigmor, the woman, not child, you see climbing the steps, wanted to come. She insisted on addressing The Sons of Talos.”
“By the gods, she truly is her father’s daughter.”
“This has nothing to do with her being Ragnar’s daughter! This decision to come was Rigmor being herself!”
“That is rather distinctive armour, Wulf. Are you declaring what side you support?”
“It was made for me by The Divines. I can tell you Talos is not pleased with Ulfric’s claims that he is fighting for the right to worship him. Guess what side of the Civil War The Divines back? Has Ulfric ever provided proof that Talos wants all this bloodshed?”
I climbed and stood to the back and Rigmor’s right. The Sons of Talos saw Rigmor was ready to talk, and there was instant silence from them.
Rigmor did not hesitate even a second.
“You asked me to come. Here I am!”
Hurrahs came strong and loud.
“I know you all loved my father, and most of you here, sons and daughters of Talos, will have followed him and fought beside him with loyalty and honour.”
Those who watched stood transfixed. Rigmor will make a formidable Countess of Bruma if she accepts the offer.
“You are here today because a new wind blows from the north. And on it rides a new danger ready to sow the seeds of war.
This homecoming is a testament to your love for your homeland. This calling of arms, my brothers and sisters, is a testament to your love of our people.
The truce with our former enemy is a testament to the peril we face. For a short time, the enemy of our enemy shall become our friends.”
Rigmor sounded like a Stormcloak sympathiser when that is far from the truth. She may be better equipped for Cyrodiil politics than either of us thought.
“From the north, a new enemy is coming and waiting to strike at our homeland. A new danger, never before seen, where no one is safe.
A New Order comes not to take away our freedom. A New Order comes, not to occupy and enslave us…BUT TO ANNIHILATE US!
THEY COME TO SLAUGHTER OUR CHILDREN, OUR PEOPLE!
THEY COME TO DESTROY US AND BURN OUR LANDS!
THEY WANT TO DESECRATE OUR SHRINES AND TAKE AWAY EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR!
WELL, I SAY TO YOU…
LET THEM COME!”
There was more cheering and clapping. Rigmor was magnificent!
“WE WILL FIGHT THEM…
WE WILL THROW THEM BACK INTO THE SEA…
I SAY TO YOU…
LET THEM COME!”
All of the Stormcloaks, young and old, started cheering and banging weapons on their shields and calling Rigmor’s name.
Rigmor turned to me, and she was drained both physically and emotionally. I was ready to carry her out of there!
I said, “Come, my beloved. Let’s go to the farm, and you can rest.”
I walked over to Yngol.
I told him, “Do not tell me how magnificent she was or how she reminded you of Ragnar or any other fucking bullshit. This speech was unnecessary! It is unlikely Rigmor will be well enough to take the field against The New Order or even want to. Any Son of Talos who refuses to fight if Rigmor is not there will find The Dragonborn telling all of Nirn of their cowardice. It is an insult to Ragnar that Rigmor had to do this. It would be an insult to all of Nirn if they refused to fight!”
“Rigmor is ill?”
“I rescued her from a sacrificial altar after she was poisoned. Now I have to fix her again because of these idiots!”
The Stormcloaks made way for Rigmor and me. I would have punched any that didn’t.
We made it to the clearing then Rigmor ran towards a tree.
She vomited hard and long.
Rigmor finally stood and faced me. I gave her a water canteen which she gladly took and washed out her mouth.
I told Rigmor, “Come, my beloved. Let’s get you out of that armour. Then I shall teleport you to the farm, and you can get some sleep.”
“And for what it is worth, that speech was magnificent. Your father would be so very, very proud! Too bad it was wasted on that lot.”
Twenty minutes later, Rigmor was back in her clothes.
I teleported to the farm and then summoned Rigmor and the horses.
As we walked towards the house, I told her, “Straight to bed, Rigmor. Don’t talk to anybody.”
As we walked towards the house, I knew what memories Rigmor had yet to recover. She had forgotten Ragnar loved her as a little girl and his daughter. Ragnar did not want a son or daughter whose only skills were as a warrior! That is what the girl in her dreams wants Rigmor to remember. That is what she needs to remember.
The armour Rigmor wore when I first saw her was flat-chested and meant for males. The shaving of her hair was another sign of her trying to be the son she thought she should be. Her guilt at not being able to save her family at fourteen years of age is still with her. Ragnar wanted her to be a son in one sense, but he never wanted to lose his daughter. He made Jenny for his little girl. That is why Jenny is the key.
I stared at the door to the farmhouse and hesitated to enter. I didn’t care about The New Order or anything else. I wanted Rigmor to recover, but I knew that events would spiral out of my control once more as soon as I entered that door.