Tirdas, 7th Frostfall, 4E 201
I am writing these journal entries in Breezehome, Whiterun, on the evening of Turdas, the 9th of Frostfall.
I spent the afternoon in Solitude with Rigmor, Olette, Wujeeta and Lydia. Endarie and Taarie of Radiant Raiment were happy to spend a few hours outfitting the ladies. Olette was shocked by how many outfits I agreed to purchase for her. Each outfit made her smile, so they were worth every septim.
After doubling Radiant Raiment’s profits for the month, we had supper in The Winking Skeever, where any conversation was almost impossible over the din.
The Winking Skeever went silent when the bards took a break, and I started singing. My companions were stunned but soon joined in the dancing and clapping. After four songs, I handed the room back to the regular bards, who urged me to join The Bards College.
As the others returned home, Rigmor and I teleported to Breezehome. My beloved is sitting close, and Our Quiet surrounds us. Rigmor is content to remain silent and read. She knows I need to write these words for the same reasons I needed to spend the afternoon with an orphan, my lover and friends. Their company and these words remind me why I have to kill and remove the lingering guilt.
I will expand on these more pleasant activities later in my journal.
On the morning of the 7th, I teleported with four of The Dragonguard mages to the stables of Whiterun.
Nafaalilargus said, “The Stormcloaks will arrive here at about one-thirty at their current speed. It has been a brutal forced march, and they will be worn out. Many of their best troops are veterans of The Great War and weary with age. I have been dispensing with their couriers, so no dispatches have been received or sent.”
Nafaalilargus landed gently on the roof of a farmhouse. Most farmers have heeded Jarl Balgruuf’s advice and moved inside Whiterun’s walls.
- Wulf: Without teleportation, messages to and from Windhelm take far too long.
- Vayu: The Stormcloak commanders would have been issued final orders by Ulfric, and they will endeavour to follow them.
- Wulf: Yes, and the forced march is probably due to strict timelines within those orders.
- Celestine: What is the plan?
- Wulf: We shall divide into four teams of four. I will have a fifth person with me since Inigo can’t look after himself.
- Celestine: You two have become firm friends.
- Wulf: Yes. Inigo finds ways to keep my Dovah personality at bay. I think our matching sense of macabre humour is the key.
- Vayu: You have a sense of humour?
- Wulf: A better sense of humour than yours, as just demonstrated.
- Vayu: Ouch!
- Wulf: Anyway, two Dragonguard must remain behind and guard Wujeeta and Olette.
- Bashita: Kharjo is not keen on battles, so I think he will volunteer to remain. Jin was looking under the weather, so he would probably be the other who stays behind.
- Wulf: My squad will join the defenders at the entrance to Whiterun. When the first enemy troops enter this road, they will be ambushed. The other three squads must be ready for battle.
- Celestine: Are we using Mark and Recall spells for the ambush?
- Wulf: Yes. Vayu will remain here and hidden. When the time is right, he will summon Bashita and Sakiya. They will Recall to their Marks and then summon their squads. Vayu will summon his squad, and The Stormcloaks will find themselves flanked on both sides.
- Vayu: They will have no choice but to engage us.
- Wulf: The defenders of the entrance will then attack. The Stormcloaks will be tired and confused, and I predict they will quickly become a disorganised rabble.
- Bashita: If they were all Legion trained, the Stormcloaks could quickly recover from such a tactic. However, they are a mixture of veterans, ex Legionnaires and locals with little or no military training.
- Sakiya: They will not be a cohesive fighting force.
- Wulf: Exactly! And that is why our small numbers will route a much larger force.
- Vayu: It will be similar to how we defeated The New Order. Once we killed their leaders, they stalled.
- Bashita: They wouldn’t be stupid enough to all march towards the Dragonborn down a straight road!
- Celestine: They will split their forces. It will be a two-pronged attack. Some will come along this road, while others will come from behind the stables.
- Wulf: Vayu, you are to ignore any troops who move behind these stables. Our troops at the entrance will deal with them. We can expect multiple waves of attackers.
- Vayu: Okay, I will remain hidden till troops come marching down this road.
- Wulf: We have done this before. We know we can be outnumbered by five to six to one during a melee and win. They will have waves of attack, which is prudent when you are unsure of the defence. Therefore, we have to kill the first wave quickly or risk being overwhelmed.
- Vayu: We witnessed that in Akavir, Wulf. We left our Swordmasters behind when overwhelmed. We will not allow that to happen here.
- Wulf: I want the only uniforms on the corpses to be Stormcloak. I don’t want a single Legionnaire or Whiterun Guard to die. The more we crush these attackers, the more people will abandon Ulfric. Now let’s pick your ambush positions.
- Nafaalilargus: Do you want my aid in this battle?
- Wulf: No, my scaly friend. I want any report Ulfric receives to mention mortals defeated his army. He will have no excuse for their failure.
- Nafaalilargus: Your strategic and tactical mind is as nimble as your father’s.
- Wulf: But I am different, Nafaalilargus, in that I could never be as ruthless as Father.
- Nafaalilargus: Let us see if that is a valid claim after another few years of battling evil. Some of my allies in Elsweyr were the sweetest people on Nirn until necessity made them something else.
- Wulf: I hope my claim remains valid, but fear it won’t.
- Nafaalilargus: I will fly around in a spiral from here and look for threats. If you don’t hear from me, I didn’t find any.
- Wulf: I don’t know which Hold General Tullius wants to tackle after Whiterun. Otherwise, I would ask you to scout ahead.
- Nafaalilargus: Let me know tomorrow, as I doubt this battle will be over before sunset.
The right flank was the most exposed. Bashita volunteered to attack from there.
A wooden platform was chosen for Sakiya and Vayu’s squads as their point of attack.
Vayu, Sakiya and Bashita returned to the Safe House to organise their squads. Vayu would soon return and remain hidden, ready to spring the trap.
I teleported into Dragonsreach and summoned the rest of my squad. Celestine, Iona, Lydia, Jordis and Inigo would fight by my side.
We approached Jarl Balgruuf.
- Wulf: Good morning, my Jarl.
- Balgruuf: When will they be here?
- Wulf: Between one and two, according to Nafaalilargus. Once the Stormcloaks start marching down the road past the stables, The Dragonguard will appear from the ether and attack their flanks. Our forces at the gates will deal with the Stormcloaks who attack from behind the stables. I doubt we will have many Stormcloaks attack from the other flank.
- Irileth: There aren’t many Dragonguard.
- Wulf: The Stormcloaks are a mixture of veterans and unblooded. The speed and efficiency with which Stormcloaks are slaughtered will be nothing like you, or they have ever witnessed. The surprise flanking attack by The Dragonguard will destabilise our enemy. We have used similar tactics in Akavir with excellent results.
- Balgruuf: I will be observing from the battlements. Irileth will be with General Welkynd defending Whiterun’s entrance. Proventus, you will be aiding the civilians by joining their bucket brigades in case fires are started.
- Proventus: Bucket brigade, my Lord?
- Balgruuf: You are a high-ranking Imperial within my court. You can hide within the solid walls of Dragonsreach or display a genuine concern for us mead swilling barbarians. Guess which is the best for diplomacy, Proventus.
- Proventus: I shall happily stand beside our citizens, my Lord.
- Balgruuf: Thane Wulf, I found I could not sleep. You tell me that Ulfric’s troops are about to try and take my Hold from me and hurt my people. In my mind, I find that hard to reconcile. You may think that the information provided by General Tullius and yourself should be sufficient, but….
- Wulf: But after much gnashing of teeth, you want confirmation via the ancient methods of the Nords. What do you want me to take to Ulfric?
Jarl Balgruuf handed me his family heirloom axe.
- Wulf: I shall take it, and he shall return it, my Jarl. Let’s hope he has some honour and does not break parley. He will die if he does, but that would not be ideal.
- Balgruuf: He wouldn’t dare break the rules of parley. That would make him a pariah!
- Wulf: He murdered his High King. If that didn’t make him a pariah, then nothing will.
- Irileth: Is this wise?
- Wulf: No, it is a foolhardy and significant risk. However, it gives Ulfric one more chance to reconsider his actions and save many lives. Therefore, it is worth the effort.
I stepped away from Jarl Balgruuf, and I could see Inigo was not pleased.
- Inigo: My friend, this is not necessary.
- Wulf: I think the chances of Ulfric defying the international rules of parley are very slim, Inigo.
- Celestine: Take Nafaalilargus with you. A colossal dragon hovering over The Palace of Kings will incentivise Ulfric to behave.
- Iona: Incentivise?
- Lydia: Remember, Iona, that Celestine is a mage. They all talk like stick up the bum nobles.
- Wulf: Somebody has been influenced by Rigmor.
- Lydia: At least Rigmor’s colloquialisms make sense.
- Iona: Colloquialisms?
- Wulf: Do I have to ban all words over six letters for the sake of the Nords amongst The Dragonguard?
- Lydia: Hey, that is a bit racist!
- Wulf: Damn, I was trying for hugely racist!
- Inigo: It is very amusing to watch Nords accuse others of racism!
- Wulf: Back to the matter at hand. I will walk through Windhelm and enter the snake pit without fear, Inigo. Some Stormcloaks may witness this and go home. I am determined to do what I can to reduce the numbers killed over the following days.
- Inigo: We shall be ready to aid you if needed.
I teleported to Windhelm’s stables, then called Nafaalilargus. He came out of the ether seconds later.
He asked telepathically, “Are you here for parley?”
“Yes, and I think your presence will guarantee nobody breaks the rules.”
“It would be advantageous if Silah walked in with you. I know there are time anomalies as I can sense several as I fly over them, but I doubt they are related to each other or need such lengthy investigation.”
“I think Silah’s absence has to do with avoiding awkward questions, Nafaalilargus.”
“You are probably right, Dovahkiin. Anyway, doing my menacing huge dragon impersonation should be fun!”
“Ahh, where is the impersonation? You are not a fluffy kitten!”
“Of course not! Fluffy kittens can’t fly, and it is disastrous when they attempt to do so.”
I laughed as I walked towards Windhelm’s entrance.
Bells, acting as alarms, rang throughout the ancient city. The guards I passed didn’t say a word.
The only witness to my entrance was Ysgramor’s statue. The masculine demeanour of the statue did not match the effeminate voice I heard in Sovngarde.
I did not see a single civilian on my long walk. Silence except for pealing bells made the dreary streets of Windhelm seem even colder.
I entered The Palace of the Kings. Several Thanes and other nobles sat silently at dining tables.
I approached Priest Lortheim. He is one of the most senior priests in Skyrim.
He didn’t show the courtesy of looking at me as he said, “Dragonborn, I’ve spent my life serving Talos. I don’t plan to stop now, no matter what the Empire says.”
“The Empire is not using resources to stop his worship.”
“Someday, all of Skyrim will worship Talos openly, as we do here.”
“If you travelled beyond the grey walls of this city, you would know the worship of Talos throughout Skyrim is as strong and as open as it ever was. There is a huge statue of Talos in Whiterun, and Jarl Balgruuf allows free worship of Talos. Yet later today, Ulfric’s Stormcloaks will attack and kill innocent Talos worshippers in his bid for power. Months ago, I placed a Shrine of Talos in The Temple of The Divines in Solitude, and there it remains. It is frequented by many Talos worshippers, openly and without fear. There are dozens of large and visible statues and shrines of Talos all over Skyrim, and nobody has tried to remove them.”
“Jarl Ulfric asked me to tell the people of Skyrim that you were wrong and that Lord Talos wants us to fight for the right to worship him openly. I refused. However, I cannot do as other senior priests and priestesses have done and denounce the Stormcloaks. Not while my wife and I live amongst the most loyal of Ulfric’s supporters. Therefore, silence on the matter is best.”
“I understand, as will Lord Talos. Blessings of The Nine on you and Priestess Jora.”
I looked at Ulfric’s throne and the banners beside it. There was nothing to signify that Talos was important to Ulfric in this room.
I walked into Ulfric’s map room.
Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced stood near the map. Galmar Stone-Fist and Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak were sitting and discussing Whiterun.
- Galmar: Whiterun will be yours.
- Ulfric: Whiterun is only a means to an end.
- Galmar: I’ve toured our camps. We’re ready, Ulfric.
- Ulfric: Is any man ever ready to give the order that will mean the deaths of many?
- Galmar: No. But neither is every man able to give that order when he must. But you were that man, Ulfric. You’ve been that man before, and you’ll be him again. And these men and women call themselves Stormcloaks because they believe in you. They are the meanest, toughest sons of bitches Skyrim has to offer. And they want this. They want this as much as you do. Perhaps, they want it more.
- Ulfric: You’re certain we’re ready? Whiterun’s army will no doubt be bolstered with Legionnaires. And those walls around Whiterun are old, but they still stand.
- Galmar: We are ready. And I might be old myself, but I’ll kick those damn walls down with my bare feet―if you would only ask me to do it!
- Ulfric: Ha. And I’m sure you could do it, too. Alright. Today is the day!
- Galmar: Yes! That is more positive!
- Ulfric: A new day is dawning, and the sun rises over Whiterun.
- Galmar: Aye and the sons of Skyrim will greet that dawn, teeth and swords flashing.
- Ulfric: And so, it begins.
- Wulf: When the dawn rose this morning, your soldiers were still miles from Whiterun. They will get there between one and two. And you have both neglected the fact your troops face The Dragonguard and Dragonborn.
I walked over to the table, and Ulfric stared at me with his mouth agape.
Ulfric was quick to stand!
- Wulf: Relax, Jarl Ulfric. Weren’t you informed of my arrival?
- Ulfric: No. But I was wondering why the bells toll.
- Wulf: I must congratulate Windhelm’s citizens on how quickly they cleared the streets. You, however, should ask yourself why nobody told you I was approaching this palace.
- Galmar: Why are you here, traitor?
- Wulf: Traitor? I could argue that point. However, I am here to speak to the Jarl, not one of his unimportant underlings. Why don’t you join your brother and threaten innocent civilians while I speak to Ulfric? Perhaps you want to accept the challenge to a fight that I issued so long ago?
- Ulfric: Why are you here, Dragonborn?
- Wulf: Jarl Balgruuf the Greater has difficulty believing you would attack his city and kill his Talos worshipping citizens. Therefore, he asked me to deliver this.
I held out Balgruuf’s axe.
- Ulfric: Oh. What’s this? Ahhh… You’re quite brave to carry such a message. It’s a pity you’ve chosen the wrong side… You can return this axe to the man who sent it. And tell him he should prepare to entertain… visitors. I expect a great deal of excitement in the city of Whiterun in the near future…
- Wulf: There is nothing brave about expecting the laws of parley to be observed. My scout, Nafaalilargus, has observed your army’s every move and regularly reported to me. We are prepared, Ulfric, and history tells you the side led by a Dragonborn has never lost a battle. Yesterday we eliminated your troops at Korvanjund without a single injury. I predict that today, we will eliminate your army without the death of a single Legionnaire or Whiterun Guard. I won’t even use my dragon allies to do this.
- Galmar: Ysmir’s beard, what a load of bullshit!
I turned my back on Ulfric and walked over to Galmar.
In an even tone devoid of emotion, I said, “I am no seer, Galmar, but I can predict your future. The next time I enter The Palace of the Kings, it will be to complete the utter destruction of The Stormcloaks and Ulfric’s reputation. Your head will roll that day when my sword slices through your neck. You will die for Ulfric’s ambitions, not to protect the worship of Talos.”
I said out loud and telepathically, “Are you ready to defeat the blasphemous rebels, Nafaalilargus?”
Nafaalilargus’ roar shook the palace.
“Come then, before Jarl Ulfric and the others drink all the good mead! We have a couple of hours before the tired Stormcloaks commit suicide.”
I said to Galmar, Ulfric and Yrsarald, “Nafaalilargus is a Legionnaire and served under Tiber Septim. He is more than a little pissed off about the lie you fight for his old commander!”
I teleported directly into Dragonsreach.
I signalled The Dragonguard, and they followed me to the map room.
I handed Balgruuf his axe. He took it from me, and his face revealed a deep sadness.
He then leant on the table with a sigh.
- Wulf: Ulfric was not told I was approaching The Palace of Kings. I think many were hoping I was there to challenge him to a duel, again.
- Balgruuf: I once considered him a friend, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: Are the defenders ready, my Jarl?
- Balgruuf: Yes. Hadvar, Irileth and a handpicked squad will join you in defending the entrance.
- Quentin: Dragonborn, after Nafaalilargus demolished the Stormcloak catapults and trebuchets, our enemy cooperated with the bandits occupying Fort Greymoor. Scouts report a couple of trebuchets are being wheeled from that fort.
- Wulf: Legate Quentin, I want this victory to be accomplished without using dragons. Therefore, I won’t ask a dragon to demolish these new trebuchets. Send three platoons to take them out and take Fort Greymoor.
- Quentin: Yes, General.
- Wulf: Now we wait.
We sat and ate lunch while talking and laughing. The demeanour of The Dragonguard was in stark contrast to that of Jarl Balgruuf and Hrongar, his brother. They picked at their food and said little. Farengar was on the walls of Whiterun in case his Destruction spells were needed.
I was standing next to the map with Jordis when a scout came running in. The Stormcloaks had arrived!
I turned to Legate Quentin Cipius.
I said, “Legat Quentin, today we will wipe out Ulfric’s main army. After today, we will meet very little resistance.”
My squad accompanied me to the entrance of Whiterun.
The troops sent to demolish the trebuchets encountered stiff resistance. The occasional bundle of burning pitch landed inside Whiterun and at the front entrance. However, the rate of fire indicated a minimal number of trebuchets were in enemy hands.
We leapt down in front of the barriers and drew our weapons.
I could see our trap had worked. The main Stormcloak advance had halted when flanked left and right by The Dragonguard.
As predicted, a smaller force had taken the route behind the stables.
Whiterun’s catapults lobbed burning bundles of pitch soaked hay amongst the main enemy force, adding to their confusion.
I quickly disposed of the first two Stormcloaks to reach me.
Then the next in line doubled over with an arrow in his belly.
The Stormcloak cried out, “Mercy. I have a wife and child. Mercy!”
I growled, “So do many of the people in Whiterun!”
Then I cut his head off.
A Stormcloak Officer attacked while yelling some annoying war cry.
I quickly blocked her axe and then stared into her eyes. I saw fear.
With a loud, “Haya!” Inigo lopped her head off from behind.
Then he yelled, “Help Lydia!”
I turned and saw Lydia and Jordis had been knocked to the ground by an axe-wielding berserker.
Iona and a Whiterun Guard came to their rescue. Neither was injured, so we advanced toward the Stormcloak army.
I ran through the centre of the primary melee and attacked the second wave with Unrelenting Force.
While The Dragonguard demolished the main attacking force, I took on the survivors of the second wave by myself and cut many of them down.
We polished off the last of the second wave when a much larger third wave crashed into us.
In amongst the pandemonium, I saw the Dragonguard mages heal and kill in equal measures. I saw Dragonguard katana and kai-katana flashing in the sunlight, dealing death with each stroke. The Stormcloaks were beginning to buckle.
We were soon mopping up the remnants of the third wave. So far, all my friends were alive, but there had been a few close calls.
Some Stormcloaks sheathed their weapons and attempted to walk away.
We didn’t allow them to. Once a Stormcloak attacked Whiterun, their life was forfeit while the battle still raged.
I Blinked to the front gate to check if all was okay there. It was, with Irileth and Hadvar looking on in amazement as The Dragonguard continued their slaughter.
Another small wave attacked and was being eliminated.
A line of archers provided one of the few chances for me to use Unrelenting Force.
Yet another wave of Stormcloaks arrived and awaited the order to charge. I Blinked to get behind them.
I stabbed a Stormcloak in the back, and then they knew The Dragonborn was amongst them.
There was instant chaos, and a young officer tried to stem the panic.
I Blinked to the other side of the main enemy force. There I cut down an officer and two veterans.
The officers and veterans were our priority and as their numbers dwindled, so did the effectiveness of the Stormcloak army. Many young Stormcloaks stood confused amongst the killing
No mercy was shown, and the enemy was routed.
As we ran the fleeing Stormcloak down, we noticed another large force of Stormcloaks in a rapidly deployed camp.
I Blinked to the enemy and engaged them while The Dragonguard ran to help.
I wanted the chance to use Unrelenting Force and finally got it.
Half the Stormcloaks died with a single Shout.
Once again, the inexperienced panicked, and many Stormcloaks tried to flee. I sent them to Sovngarde.
Once the enemy was scattered, their fate was sealed. We quickly and efficiently disposed of them.
Celestine healed the other Dragonguard mages many times during the battle. The other mages had been concentrating on Destruction magic and were often targeted by Stormcloak archers.
As soon as wiped out the Stormcloaks at the camp, we returned to the entrance to kill any stragglers.
After more than five hours of relentless killing, The Battle for Whiterun was over! We had destroyed Ulfric’s army!
I had seen Nadara a few times during the battle, and she was severely wounded.
I healed her, and then she headed for Riverwood.
Seiko was chasing a Stormcloak officer.
He ran past me and got a sword in his back. That was the last death in The Battle for Whiterun.
I searched the battlefield looking for the injured. Now the fighting was over, and I would heal any Stormcloak that needed it. Alas, all I found were hundreds of bodies. Amongst the dead was Severio Pelagia. Several Stormcloak arrows took his life. He was unarmed and a non-combatant. However, Severio is Imperial, and I could not dismiss the notion that his murder was racially motivated.
I joined Jarl Balgruuf as he addressed the small number of defenders who had fought outside the castle walls.
Balgruuf said, “Revel in your victory here today, even as the gods revel in your honour! They already sing of your valour and skill! The halls of Sovngarde are no doubt ringing with your praises! In defeating these Stormcloak traitors, you have proven the hollowness of their cause and the fullness of your hearts. The citizens of Whiterun are forever in your debt! But Ulfric will not stop here. No, he will continue to strike out against any true Nord who remains faithful to The Empire. He will continue to sow discord and chaos wherever he can. And so, we must each one of us, continue to fight this insurrection, lest our fallen brothers have died for nought! Lest our honour is lessened should we allow these bloodthirsty beasts to prowl our lands! Carry on, men, my gratitude and blessings go with you! For Whiterun! For The Empire!”
As the expected cheering erupted, I jumped down and walked to Hadvar.
“It is good to see you survived, Hadvar.”
“We hardly did a thing. You and The Dragonguard killed nearly every Stormcloak in Ulfric’s army. It was fascinating and disturbing to watch.”
“The tactic used wouldn’t have worked against Legionnaires as each one is trained to think for themselves and not panic. Too many of the Stormcloaks were unblooded and undisciplined. Once their leaders were removed, they did not know what to do. It was the same with The New Order. A handful of Dragonguard stopped them overrunning several towns and cities by eliminating their officers.”
“General, say what you wish, but what I witnessed was amazing.”
“Keep safe, Hadvar. There is still more fighting to be done.”
Jarl Balgruuf was waiting for me.
He said, “You and The Dragonguard have saved my city once more, Dragonborn.”
“Your men and Legionnaires would have won without us, my Jarl. But we did what I intended. We defeated Ulfric’s army with minimal casualties. It is too bad they got to fire their trebuchets a few times.”
“The only building severely damaged is Heimskr’s house. The roof was caved in and the insides gutted by fire.”
“How ironic. The house of Whiterun’s most vocal Talos and Ulfric supporter is the only one destroyed.”
“He is claiming it is Talos’ punishment for his blasphemy.”
“Somebody should explain to him that The Divines don’t do punishment.”
“We suffered no casualties.”
“I found Severio Pelagia dead near his farmhouse. Murdered by The Stormcloaks. Please ensure his body is collected before scavengers start chewing on it.”
“I will. What are you planning next?”
“We shall check on Fort Greymoor and ensure it is firmly in The Empire’s hands.”
“It is. A runner informed me minutes after the battle ended.”
“Then we shall visit General Tullius and discuss who we should slaughter next.”
I gathered my squad, and then we teleported to Castle Dour.
General Tullius was seated when we entered the map room.
He stood when I approached.
- Wulf: General Tullius, Ulfric’s army was utterly destroyed in The Battle for Whiterun. If any Stormcloaks managed to escape, I doubt they would run to Windhelm to rejoin the failed rebellion.
- Tullius: Casualties?
- Wulf: Not a single Legionnaire or Whiterun Guard lost their life. The Stormcloaks murdered a farmer, and a single house in Whiterun was destroyed. Fort Greymoor was also captured.
- Rikke: You tell us that we had no deaths on the battlefield?
- Wulf: Yes, that is what I am telling you! I expect minimal resistance in the other holds. Taking Whiterun was Ulfric’s only hope of winning this war, and it took just over five hours to demolish that hope utterly. But he never had a chance anyway, did he, General Tullius?
- Tullius: No, he didn’t. I could always ask for another Legion or two and overwhelm the Stormcloaks. However, we did not want to open the door to uninvited guests.
- Wulf: His Imperial Highness was worried about The Dominion taking advantage of a less defended Cyrodiil.
- Tullius: Yes.
- Wulf: What is our next target, General Tullius?
- Tullius: We need the Rift. We need to gain control of it before marching on Windhelm without worrying about our rear guard.
- Wulf: We will need to control every Hold if we want our flanks and rear protected. Show me on the map where our camp is for the Rift Campaign.
Tullius pointed to a spot on the map.
- Wulf: We shall teleport to Riverwood at dawn and walk from there. We should reach the camp by midday.
- Rikke: I will travel all night and be lucky to be there by midday!
- Wulf: That is why I should spend time teaching Imperial Battlemages how to teleport!
- Tullius: Most of them were wiped out at Helgen. But we can worry about that after Ulfric is no longer a problem.
- Wulf: After taking care of Ulfric, I am afraid I might be in Solstheim for an extended period.
- Rikke: But that isn’t even part of The Empire!
- Wulf: I am Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines, Legate Rikke. Both those titles encompass more than the concerns of The Empire. The danger developing in Solstheim threatens all the people of Nirn, not just Morrowind citizens. However, even if it were an isolated Solstheim problem, I would still have a duty to help.
- Tullius: And what is that threat?
- Wulf: Another Dragonborn who plans to enslave all the people of Solstheim and then the entirety of Nirn.
- Tullius: Is he capable of doing such a thing?
- Wulf: His name is Miraak, and he has been alive since the Dragon War. He has had thousands of years to plan and is now executing that plan without opposition. So yes, his capability matches his ambition, unlike Ulfric Stormcloak.
- Celestine: Now you know why The Dragonborn is keen to end the civil war as soon as possible. Ulfric’s ambitions made Alduin stronger. They are also making Miraak stronger.
- Rikke: Ulfric’s ambitions threaten more than just The Empire.
- Wulf: Correct. Therefore, The Dragonguard and I shall go home, have a good meal and sleep. Then tomorrow, we shall continue the destruction of The Stormcloaks.
- Inigo: My friend, you didn’t mention your visit to Windhelm.
- Rikke: Did you fly over it on the dragon again?
- Wulf: No, I walked through Windhelm and into The Palace of the Kings. I walked up to Ulfric, who almost shit himself when he saw me looming over him. I offered him Jarl Balgruuf’s axe, but he refused to take it.
- Tullius: What nonsense is that?
- Rikke: Really, Sir, you should be more aware of Nord traditions than you are. It is the traditional way of asking another Jarl if they are a friend or foe. If a friend, Ulfric would have accepted the axe and returned it the next time the friends met. He rejected the axe, thereby declaring himself to be an enemy.
- Wulf: It is so foreign to Jarl Balgruuf’s sense of honour he found it hard to believe that Ulfric would attack Whiterun. I didn’t see any danger in the visit, and the trip allowed me to make Ulfric aware of his impending doom.
- Rikke: What did Galmar make of this?
- Wulf: I told him to shut up as I was there to speak to Jarl Ulfric, not an unimportant underling.
- Rikke: Oh, I would love to have seen Galmar’s face.
- Wulf: I didn’t see it as I had my back to him. I was letting him know he was of little concern. I did speak to him before I left.
- Rikke: And?
- Wulf: I told him that the next time I visit The Palace of the Kings, I would cut his head off.
- Tullius: You could write a book on perfecting arrogance, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: My arrogance is a weapon as lethal as my sword, General Tullius. It instils fear and uncertainty in my enemies.
- Celestine: Wulf’s arrogance would be discarded as boasting if results didn’t back it. But it is a tool and not who he is. The Dragonborn is one of the humblest people you could ever meet.
- Wulf: I would agree, but that wouldn’t be very humble.
- Celestine: Too bad his humour is not as refined.
- Tullius: General, I asked the Penitus Oculatus to provide some background on you. They found nothing.
- Wulf: A prudent precaution by you as I have been handed much power by Emperor Titus Mede II. However, I have never met His Imperial Highness. His advice concerning me comes from the highest authority.
- Tullius: Oh, and who might that be?
- Wulf: The Nine, General Tullius. His Imperial Highness is a devout follower of The Nine, which people tend to forget due to the Talos restrictions within The White-Gold Concordat. He accepts the recommendations of his religious advisors as he knows they come from The Nine.
- Tullius: It is highly usual for a citizen of The Empire to be a complete mystery to The Penitus Oculatus.
- Wulf: Until I accepted the position of a Thane of Whiterun, I was not a citizen of The Empire. Until that moment, the highest civil authority I served was Jarl Elisif, as she owns Roscrea.
- Celestine: Wulf does not keep secrets out of spite or as a game. He already attracts enemies through his actions. Some information about him would attract many more enemies, including several Daedric Princes.
- Tullius: It seems my curiosity will have to continue without relief.
- Wulf: I will tell a person a secret when the situation requires that individual to know more about me. Do not be surprised if that is the case in your future, General Tullius.
- Tullius: Have your rest and meal, Dragonborn and Dragonguard. I look forward to hearing good news from Riften in the coming days.
My visibly exhausted squad walked in silence to the Safe House. When we entered, Inigo pulled me aside.
“There was a lot of killing today, my friend. How do you feel about what occurred?”
“I knew weeks ago it would come to this, Inigo. That is why I needed to stop relying on my Dovah personality and deal with the reality as Wulf, the mortal. I killed without enjoyment or taunting. Although each kill is etched into memory, I find them more palatable than even a month ago. I will not lose sleep over what was done today.”
“Yes, you gave Stormcloaks plenty of reasons to abandon Ulfric. You warned them of the consequences, and those who faced us today are like the dragons who challenge you. They chose their path and paid the price.”
“Very early on in today’s battle, a Stormcloak on his knees begged for mercy. I would have been tempted to give it to him even a month ago. Today I killed him without regret. Is this an improvement? I say it is, as I suffer enough without adding guilt not logical or earned.”
“Our first fight against Alduin lasted the same time it took to destroy Ulfric’s army.”
“Yes, that demonstrates how powerful Alduin was. However, today many of us became isolated and in great danger of being killed. We all survived, but that shows a large battle is far more dangerous than fighting against a single powerful adversary.”
“Who is going with you tomorrow.”
“You, as I need your help with the newest Dragonguard.”
“Jo’rassa and Daenlyn?”
“Yes. I observed both of them during the battle and their exceptional skills. However, they are not used to how we operate as a squad. So tomorrow, I will rely on you and Vayu to assist them if they have questions or seem unsure. Kharjo will be with us, and he is unsure of large battle tactics, so he may also need assistance.”
“You don’t expect further battles against Stormcloaks to be as large.”
“I think we will meet very little resistance in Winterhold and Riften. There may be some medium-sized skirmishes as redeploying troops meet each other.”
“I know Jo’rassa is very skilled, and I was never worried about Fergus when fighting. My friend, it may take some time to be as relaxed when fighting beside Jo’rassa. I did look for her in today’s battle, which was almost my undoing on one occasion.”
“This is where my logical brain helped with Rigmor. I asked myself if Rigmor was in trouble, could I intervene in time to help her? I could not intervene in time most of the time, which made such distractions unnecessary risks. Rigmor has no trouble calling for help when she thinks it is needed. Trust that Jo’rassa will do the same.”
“For the first time, I saw Lydia brought to her knees by an attacker.”
“Yes, I saw it was a berserker wielding a two-handed axe. It must have been an almighty swing to knock Lydia off her feet!”
“There were not many berserkers today. I think it is not a fighting style that creates veteran warriors!”
“Not generally, but Ragnar, Rigmor’s father, was clever in his deployment of berserkers. He ended up with many veteran berserkers in his army. Their ferocity and reputation were enough to make opponents route before the first clash of arms.”
“I will sit with Jo’rassa and the others and enjoy talking and good food. Wujeeta will have us all fat and round if we are not cautious!”
“I will join you soon. Celestine is waiting to speak to me.”
I walked over to Celestine.
She advised, “On the surface, you have accepted your role today. But I know you, Wulf Septim, and it is a façade!”
“The Divines knew Mother would be unavailable for some time, so trained you to be a temporary replacement.”
“Stop being flippant!”
“See, that was often said, or yelled, by Mother.”
“Saint Alessia doesn’t have to jump to grab your ear so she can twist it. With that, she has an advantage over me.”
I removed my helm, then bent over and offered my ears at a more convenient height.
Celestine sighed and lamented, “Wulf, I am worried for you. Do something to ease my worry and stop playing the clown!”
“I am sorry, Celestine, but I am okay. Honest! After a few days of killing Stormcloaks, I might not be so logical and matter of fact. My sanguinity may vanish, and I will seek help from those I love. I promise.”
“Okay. Please, join us for food and talk. We all need something to distract us from today’s events.”
“I will be there in a minute or two.”
Celestine joined the others in the overcrowded dining room. I contacted Rigmor via our amulets.
“Rigmor, my beloved. Can you talk?”
“Yes, I have again asked to eat in private as I knew you would want to chat.”
“We demolished Ulfric’s army without a single casualty amongst the defenders.”
“That is amazing and guaranteed to make Ulfric cack his dacks.”
“You do realise that is a colloquialism from that backwards island where I lived?”
“Perhaps I have been around you too long, and my brain is deteriorating?”
“Before you ask, I can honestly tell you I am perfectly okay with what we had to do today. I didn’t need my Dovah to achieve the level of brutality required. I feel no guilt over how many I killed or who they were. I showed no mercy as that was the promise I made and the right thing to do.”
“Okay, I believe you. However, I don’t think that attitude will last if the killing continues at a hectic pace. You still haven’t had enough downtime, and that is a fact, not an opinion.”
“I agree and will know when I need help to continue. I will not try and deal with the problem by myself, Rigmor. Not when my Rigmor and close friends all see the encroachment of darkness upon me.”
“How long did the battle last?”
“Just over five hours.”
“Have you had your supper?”
“I am just about to join The Dragonguard, Wujeeta and Olette. We need a bigger dining room!”
“Then go and eat and talk and drink. Talk to me again later.”
“Yes, milady. This shoe excrement is always ready to be commanded and obey.”
“Then shoo, shoe pooh!”
“Such eloquent speech and manors display your nobility to all who witness them.”
“Wulf, fuck off and join your friends at the dining table.”
“That is more like the Rigmor who got us banned from my favourite inn!”
I joined my friends. The banter was light and generated much laughter. Food and beverages were consumed at an alarming rate, even though many had to stand! Wujeeta displayed her fantastic smile as she relished making us smile. Olette held her own in conversations I thought would be beyond her years. Life on Riften’s streets was the catalyst for that. She was still a little girl but bypassed the fairy tales and dolls stage.
By the time everybody was talked out and couldn’t eat another bite, I decided we needed a home with a larger dining area.
I staggered to bed and fell asleep listening to Rigmor’s court gossip. She didn’t mind. It was better than her beloved being racked by guilt for the killing he did.