Tirdas, 23rd Hearthfire, 4E 201
While enjoying a good soak in the spa, Rigmor asked, “Is the number of times we made love last night normal?”
“Last night and this morning, your mean? Why ask? Did you get bored?”
“What do you think?”
“Since you are the one who kept attacking me, no, I don’t think you were bored.”
“Well? Was the number normal?”
“No, it was way more than average. I don’t think my ability to do that is common. However, there is nobody I am comfortable enough with to ask.”
“Ahh…you aren’t mentioning anything about it in your journal, I hope.”
“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 must remind you how it went.”
“I will mention we made love, Rigmor. It was a special moment in both our lives.”
“Yes, of course. It was beautiful, and we got pretty good at it. But we need more practice!”
“We have many things to do, so don’t get funny ideas!”
“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, 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 approached 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 and unblock more memories. I was starting to suspect what those memories were.
I told Rigmor, “The girl is the key to more memories. Sooner or later, you will figure out what she wants.”
“Nah, 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 have to see General Tullius, but then I thought you might want to speak to Jarl Elisif. She can advise on the countess position.”
“Do you think she would?”
“I am certain she will. Elisif will be High Queen. Therefore, she is vested in who is in charge of Bruma. She is only twenty years of age, Rigmor. However, she was trained from a young age to deal with politics. She deliberately acts naïve, which has proved effective against those who underestimate her. She can turn from a giggly airhead to a snarling predator in a split second.”
“Elisif might be able to tell us about Count Carvain. Knowing what happened to him and his family might help me decide if I will accept Mede’s offer.”
“Okay, then, let’s get dressed and stay dressed. Then we will have a new treat for our morning meal from the Solitude Market. I need to see a couple of book vendors and then General Tullius.”
“What kind of treat?”
“The yummy kind.”
“That takes us to midday, then what?”
“I want to visit High Hrothgar to inform The Greybeards of what is happening. I also want to visit Kyne’s shrine and ask a few dragons if they will act as scouts for us.”
“I would like to see Nirn from the summit.”
“I will summon you a few feet from the very top. The last bit is too hazardous to climb.”
“Okay. And after The Throat of The World?”
“A suit of armour is waiting for me in my Aetherius Room. You can see Aetherius through its windows.”
“Ahh, is it safe for me to visit Aetherius?”
“If you stayed there too long, you would die. But that would take days, not the short time we are there.”
“Will Lord Talos be there?”
“He might pay a visit.”
“Believe it or not, Wulf, some of us are uncomfortable meeting gods.”
“Have you ever met one?”
“Then how do you know you will be uncomfortable? Father will appear as an old grizzled warrior with grey hair and a beard. You will soon forget he is The Ninth Divine.”
“I doubt that. But anyway, what is after the visit to Aetherius?”
“Your choice. Casius first or The College of Winterhold?”
“Then we shall visit Casius, followed by The College of Winterhold.”
“Do you plan on visiting Yngol?”
“Only if I need to. At the moment, there is no need.”
“You don’t like him much, do you?”
“Yngol is a traitor and misled you about Ragnar’s motives. However, he may regret his decision when I tell the truth about Ulfric. I hope many Stormcloaks go home because they will die if I meet them on the battlefield.”
“Okay, I am turning into a prune. Time to get dressed, my dear.”
“The leather riding gear again?”
“Yes, I quite like it. Does it come in different colours?”
“Yes, apparently, but I haven’t looked amongst the women’s clothes. None of them would fit me!”
A while later, we were ready to head for Solitude’s market.
The first place we visited was Books of Skyrim.
I approached the proprietor.
“Good morning, Arnora.”
“And a good morning to you, Lord Welkynd. May I ask when The Dragonborn Gallery will be opening?”
“It will open when the civil war ends and the moot makes the right choice. I promised Jarl Elisif the opening could be one of her first official acts as High Queen.”
“I managed to get a copy of The Tsaesci Creation Myth. I read the first chapter after spending ages translating from Tsaesci, and it makes no sense whatsoever.”
“It is one of the most allegorical texts ever written. You need a few other books on Tsaesci religion to aid its understanding.”
“Is it for your private collection, or should I send it to Auryen?”
“Send it to Auryen and ensure you have a good markup. It couldn’t have been easy to find.”
“No, and don’t worry, I am sure Auryen will happily pay the price one he recovers from the shock.”
“Have a good day, Arnora.”
Rigmor laughed when she saw the sign for Solitude Sausages.
- Wulf: Good morning, Arrectus. How is business?
- Arrectus: Very good and growing. New patrons hear friends rave about my sausages and try them. Then they tell others and so on. I might licence out a few carts in other Holds and maybe a couple of Counties in Cyrodiil.
- Wulf: Lady Ragnarsdottier, would you like to peruse the menu?
- Rigmor: What are they?
- Wulf: Different types of sausages with condiments and other things inside a bun.
- Rigmor: Okay…let me look.
Arrectus handed Rigmor a menu, and as expected, she giggled.
- Wulf: What is so amusing, Milady?
- Rigmor: These names are meant to be rude, as is the sign.
- Arrectus: The crudity of the names and the sign is a product of the consumer’s mind, Lady Ragnarsdottier.
- Rigmor: Are they all the same size?
- Arrectus: All of them can be ordered in six-inch or twelve-inch servings.
- Wulf: For your first sausage, I recommend a six-inch Beefstick. Twelve-inches might make you gag.
- Rigmor: Wulf!
- Wulf: The crudity of the suggestion is a product of your mind, Lady Ragnarsdottier.
- Rigmor: Okay, I will have a six-inch Beefstick.
- Wulf: And I shall have the same. Thank you, Arrectus.
Arrectus prepared two Beefstick. I put mustard on them and handed one to Rigmor.
She took a tentative bite, smiled, and then scoffed down the rest. She then burped equal to anything I could achieve.
- Rigmor: Oh, pardon me!
- Arrectus: Lord Welkynd and his friends made it fashionable to burp after a sausage. I regard it as a compliment and free advertising.
- Rigmor: It was delicious. I wouldn’t mind another.
- Wulf: Another sausage for Milady so soon after the first? That sounds familiar.
- Rigmor: Keep that up, and you will get a kick where it hurts.
- Wulf: It would be uncouth to display such affection in public!
- Rigmor: Arrectus, can I please have a six-inch Weiner?
- Wulf: One for me as well, thanks.
Arrectus prepared two Weiner.
Rigmor gobbled hers down and did a very impressive belch. I ate mine slower and belched with a bit of Thu’um applied. Everybody looked our way and laughed.
I paid Arrectus and then headed for Listens-To-Letters’ stall.
“Good morning, Listens-To-Letters. Do you have anything interesting in stock?”
“Yes, Lord Welkynd. I have a pristine first edition of Corpse Preparation, Volume 3.”
“The one with the practical joke?”
“That’s the one.”
“Splendid! Send it to The Dragonborn Gallery, and Auryen will deposit the payment into your account.”
“It is always a pleasure, Lord Welkynd.”
Rigmor asked, “What was the practical joke?”
“If you follow the embalming instructions in the book, the corpse comes to life.”
“I should be horrified, but I find that very amusing. It must be your influence, Dragonbum.”
Just as we headed for Castle Dour, Rorlund approached us.
- Wulf: Good morning, High Priest Rorlund.
- Rorlund: Good morning to you, Lord Welkynd.
- Wulf: I am honoured to introduce Lady Rigmor Ragnarsdottier of Bruma.
- Rorlund: It is a pleasure to meet you, Lady Ragnarsdottier.
- Rigmor: You and Priestess Freir were courageous when confronting that vampire!
- Rorlund: You heard of that?
- Wulf: Lady Ragnarsdottier accompanied me when we destroyed Queen Potema in the catacombs.
- Rorlund: Are you a mage, Lady Ragnarsdottier?
- Rigmor: I was once a warrior but have given up the sword for more peaceful pursuits.
- Rorlund: Then I wish you all the best in your endeavours.
- Rigmor: Thank you.
- Rorlund: Lord Welkynd, three layers of bricks were used to seal the breach into the catacombs. The same precaution was taken with the doorway from the catacombs into the orphanage.
- Wulf: I hope every septim was covered by my donation.
- Rorlund: There were excess funds, so I wonder what to do with them.
- Wulf: Use them for the needy, High Priest Rorlund.
- Rorlund: Blessings of The Nine on your both.
- Wulf: Blessings of The Nine on all the people of Solitude.
We made our way to Castle Dour and entered the War Room.
Legates and other senior ranks surrounded General Tullius. They were discussing the probable tactics of The New Order.
When I approached General Tullius, a legate was standing next to him.
- Tullius: I recognise you from Helgen, plus all the news sheets and cheap novels. It is a pleasure to meet you again, Lord Welkynd.
- Wulf: I wish it were under better circumstances, General Tullius.
- Tullius: Are you ready to take the oath?
- Wulf: That is why I am here.
- Adventus: Mede must be insane to make you a General! Don’t be surprised if Legion field commanders ignore you and do things right!
- Wulf: What is your name, Legate?
- Adventus: Legate Adventus Caesennius.
- Wulf: I was chosen by His Imperial Majesty for several reasons. I have extensive experience as a field commander against opponents more formidable than The New Order. I am sure if we compared notes, I have been in more battles than most Legionnaires, including you.
- Tullius: That is true.
- Wulf: As The Dragonborn of legend, I am a neutral and heroic figure to Stormcloak and Legionnaire alike. Can you name another person acceptable to both sides, Legate Adventus?
- Adventus: Well…ahh…
- Wulf: And did you suggest Legion officers would disobey the orders of a superior?
- Adventus: But…I…
- Tullius: You did suggest that, Adventus. I don’t think some of your fellow Legates would like that insinuation.
- Wulf: I am also Champion of The Divines. Lord Talos, via His Imperial Majesty’s religious advisor, recommended me for the position. Are you saying that your Emperor and Lord Talos are mistaken?
- Tullius: Answer wisely, Legate.
- Adventus: No, Lord Welkynd. Neither is mistaken, and I apologise for my inappropriate words.
- Wulf: Good, then perhaps we can proceed, General Tullius.
Tullius and I moved away from the pale and shaking Legate Adventus. I looked at Rigmor, who was grinning and gave a slight nod. People seem to enjoy watching others get their comeuppance.
General Tullius said, “You will be in charge of all the forces assembled to combat The New Order’s invasion. Your commission will be for the duration of the war against The New Order. I have been ordered to ask, do you intend to fight for The Empire in the civil war?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Then your commission will be extended till the end of the civil war. You will then be placed in reserve. Do you understand and agree to those terms, Lord Welkynd?”
“Yes, General Tullius.”
“In joining the Legion, you’ll be taking an oath binding you to the service of His Imperial Majesty and thus to every citizen of The Empire.”
“I understand, but His Imperial Majesty would be aware I serve every citizen of Nirn, regardless of borders.”
“Well then. Could you repeat after me? Upon my honour, I do swear undying loyalty to the Emperor, Titus Mede II…”
“Upon my honour, I do swear undying loyalty to the Emperor, Titus Mede II.”
“…and unwavering obedience to ranking officers of his great Empire.”
“Upon my honour, I do swear unwavering obedience to ranking officers of his great Empire.”
“May those above judge me, and those below take me if I fail in my duty!”
It was archaic to think of Aetherius above and Oblivion below. However, I wasn’t there to debate metaphysics, so I said, “May those above judge me, and those below take me if I fail in my duty!”
Tullius continued, “Long live Emperor Titus Mede II! Long live The Empire!”
I used a bit of Thu’um and made the room shake.
“LONG LIVE EMPEROR TITUS MEDE II! LONG LIVE THE EMPIRE!”
Tullius grinned and said, “Come and meet my liaison officer, Legate Rikke Frostreaver.”
We stood at the map table where Imperial and Stormcloak disposition was shown.
- Tullius: General Wulf, Legate Rikke, His Imperial Majesty doesn’t intend to attack the enemy fleet. We will be allowing them uncontested beachheads in Skyrim and Cyrodiil.
- Rikke: Why?
- Wulf: We want The New Order to keep thinking we are ignorant of their plans. His Imperial Majesty will lure them into a trap and not let any leave alive.
- Tullius: That is correct. We intend to make an example of them and give pause to any others who contemplate an invasion.
- Wulf: Vayu, The Grandmaster and Shaman of The Dragonguard, will soon join you. He will explain the tactics we employed to significant effect in Akavir. By using dragons as scouts, we will know their every move. My mages can teleport, which means when a dragon tells us where the enemy is, their leaders will die soon after. A half dozen Masters of Destruction Magic will kill many in seconds and then vanish.
- Rikke: Will the dragons fight for us?
- Wulf: Some would if I asked. Nahfahlaar is a Legate who fought beside Tiber Septim and would be keen to join us in battle. But I won’t ask Dov to do so, as they have lost too many brethren to battle, and I will not risk more. They will scout for us, and that alone will save many lives.
- Tullius: Will Vayu accept orders?
- Wulf: No, General Tullius, but he will listen to suggestions and coordinate if necessary. He must save civilians and reduce collateral damage. The civilians will take precedence if that duty contradicts a desired tactical move. I understand His Imperial Majesty’s desire to inflict maximum losses on the enemy, but my friends and I cannot accept excessive collateral damage.
- Tullius: Is that even possible?
- Wulf: Yes. We did it all over Akavir. We did it when defending Skyrim’s cities and towns against dragons. Crippling enemy forces by removing their officers is the easiest way to save civilians and infrastructure.
- Rikke: Ulfric will not return all his troops to pre-truce positions when we win.
- Wulf: No, he won’t, but dragons will be watching, so he will not surprise us. Ulfric will position Stormcloaks in preparation for a siege on Whiterun. I hope there is a decent amount of time before neighbours start killing neighbours once more.
- Tullius: What is your opinion of General Tilar Aedriath?
- Wulf: He is devious but no field commander. I doubt The New Order have many if any, quality officers. They could outnumber us four to one, and we would still trounce them.
- Tullius: Our remaining Battle Mages will be keen to watch and learn from your friends.
- Wulf: They will see coordinated attacks where surprise, magic, and sword work seamlessly together.
- Tullius: Anything else you can tell us?
- Wulf: Yes. The New Order has no hope of conquering The Empire. They thought they would have a Daedric Prince fight by their side. However, I entered Oblivion and closed the Oblivion Gate constructed for that purpose. I expect moral to be low once their initial objectives after landfall are not met and their leaders are killed. I am not one to dictate overall tactics, but they will most likely target Whiterun and blockade Solitude and Windhelm.
- Tullius: I agree with that tactical assessment. We will not waste men trying to lift the blockades. Once their main armies are destroyed, I expect the remainder to try and flee or surrender. We shall not allow either.
- Rikke: Once again, General Wulf, the people of Skyrim are in your debt.
- Wulf: Nobody is in my debt, Legate Rikke. Please listen to Vayu as his wisdom and battle knowledge come from many generations of Tsaesci Shamans.
We made our way to The Blue Palace and entered.
The extra guards were still evident as we approached Jarl Elisif.
Elisif watched Rigmor closely and smiled in recognition. I bowed my head as I stepped close to the Jarl.
- Wulf: My Jarl, it is a pleasure to see you.
- Elisif: Greeting Lord Welkynd and Lady Ragnarsdottier.
- Rigmor: You recognised me?
- Elisif: Even in that beautiful leather outfit and not a suit of armour, you move like a warrior. Your short hair does not disguise that beautiful face.
- Wulf: The New Order’s invasion will happen soon. I don’t think they will attack Solitude, although they may try blockading it and Windhelm.
- Elisif: Who is in charge of the combined armies in Skyrim?
- Wulf: I am, my Jarl. My official title is General of the Skyrim Allied Defence Force.
- Elisif: But you are not wearing the appropriate armour.
- Wulf: No, I will pick that up from Aetherius soon.
- Elisif: Aetherius?
- Wulf: Yes, my Jarl, I have a room there, and Lord Talos has prepared a suit of armour for me. He was somewhat influential in gaining me the position.
- Elisif: You are a remarkable person, Thane Welkynd.
- Wulf: I am what is needed to protect the mortals of Nirn, my Jarl.
- Rigmor: Wulf still has to put his trousers on one leg at a time.
- Elisif: Oh, and you have witnessed this?
- Rigmor: Umm…
- Wulf: Your face is a lovely shade of red, Rigmor. It matches your riding outfit.
- Elisif: Is this a social visit, which means we can retire to my dining room for lunch or business, which can also be done while eating?
- Wulf: It concerns something best spoken about in private.
- Elisif: Then let us retire to my chambers. There are no supplicants booked for this time of the day.
We entered Elisif’s chambers. I didn’t want to rearrange the furniture, so the ladies sat while I stood.
- Wulf: I hope you don’t mind me standing, my Jarl.
- Elisif: I am in danger of getting a cricked neck, but please proceed.
- Wulf: Do you know what happened to Count Carvain and his family?
- Elisif: Yes, I do. Just over a month ago, Count Virellus Carvain died when his horse was spooked, and he was thrown down an embankment. His only child, Sofia, then became Countess at the age of twelve. The Count’s Consort, newly widowed Lady Aviefre Carvain, became Regent of Bruma until Sofia came of age. That is eighteen in Cyrodiil.
- Rigmor: At eighteen, Sofia was supposed to be mature enough for the position of Countess?
- Elisif: Yes, and I thought she would make a fine Countess one day.
- Rigmor: Were you close to the Carvain family?
- Elisif: Very close, so what happened next broke my heart.
- Wulf: I am sorry to ask these questions if they pain you, my Jarl.
- Elisif: I know you well enough, Thane Welkynd, to realise this is of some importance.
- Wulf: Indeed, it is important, as we shall explain shortly.
- Elisif: About a week after Count Carvain’s passing, Sofia vanished. Professor Freathof Pulonicus, the Carvain tutor and advisor for over sixty years, was adamant that nobody kidnapped Sofia and that she wandered away from the castle after having many nightmares. He said the young girl told him people were whispering to her in her dreams and told her to come to them as they could help bring her father back. He dismissed what she said because she was grieving for her father, and he expected nightmares as a natural effect.
- Wulf: I assume a thorough search was undertaken.
- Elisif: Have you heard of Lord Chancellor Liottus Blackwell?
- Wulf: Yes, for he is infamous for not following the letter of the law when pursuing threats to the arse on The Ruby Throne.
- Rigmor: Wulf! Language, please!
- Elisif: Well, Blackwell decided there might be a threat to the arse on The Ruby Throne, so he oversaw the investigation. He didn’t believe Freathof and thought the old man was involved in some plot with The Elder Council. A plot that Blackwell said would hand Bruma to somebody with the ambition of putting their arse on The Ruby Throne.
- Wulf: That sounds a bit paranoid to me.
- Elisif: Paranoid or not, Freathof was in danger of torture until His Imperial Majesty reminded Blackwell that many parents had reported the same behaviour as Sofia’s. Only because Priests and Priestesses across The Empire discussed issues that might be Daedra related did the widespread problem get recognised. The Penitus Oculatus have an open investigation across all three provinces of The Empire. A report I read said that for several years, children have reported voices telling them to come to a particular spot which is different for each individual. The voices occur during the day as well as at night. Many children have vanished across Cyrodiil, High Rock and Skyrim.
- Wulf: I know a child this has happened to.
- Rigmor: Sorella! When we were breaking our fast, she told me what she did, Wulf. She came looking for me and ended up with the vampires and then had those voices in her head. She was worried I might hear the voices and offered me her ring if I did.
- Wulf: What happened to Rigmor and Sorella is a long story for another day, my Jarl. I believe the children are being lured by a Vampire Clan led by somebody they call a Broodmother. I am not surprised to hear it has happened across several provinces. It has probably occurred outside of The Empire as well.
- Elisif: Is Sorella safe?
- Wulf: I gave her a unique ring. It prevents her from hearing the voices. Therefore, as long as she wears it, she is safe.
- Elisif: Perhaps you should tell The Vigilants of Stendarr of your suspicion.
- Wulf: I would rather discuss it with The Penitus Oculatus.
- Rigmor: Poor Regent Carvain. Her husband died, and then her daughter vanished.
- Elisif: Indeed, Rigmor, it was a double blow from which she never recovered. Last week, she also passed away. All who saw her in the days beforehand said grief claimed her.
- Rigmor: They were lovely people, Jarl Elisif! Wulf would say they were proper nobles who cared for their citizens more than wealth and prestige.
Tears welled in Rigmor’s eyes, and she sobbed for the Carvain family. Elisif handed her an expensive silk handkerchief, with which Rigmor ritualistically dabbed her eyes and blew her nose into.
- Rigmor: Oh, I am sorry, Jarl Elisif!
- Elisif: Just Elisif in private, Rigmor. And why be apologetic about empathy?
- Rigmor: But your handkerchief!
- Elisif: You helped save my city from Potema. That is worth more than a single piece of silk.
- Wulf: My Jarl….
- Elisif: Elisif in private, Wulf!
- Wulf: Elisif, who is to replace Count Carvain?
- Elisif: It would have been his brother, Plautis Carvain. He and his wife, Lady Salonia Carvain, and their single Legionnaire escort were robbed and murdered just outside Dragon Bridge a fortnight ago. Lady Vittoria Vici says they planned to stay with her and attend her wedding next month.
- Wulf: They travelled to Skyrim with a single guard?
- Elisif: What is safe to do in Cyrodiil is foolhardy in Skyrim, but they ignored all advice. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but Plautis was not a noble you would admire, Wulf. He was a self-centred stick-up-the-arse snob who thought the sun shone out of the aforementioned arse.
- Wulf: Which is impossible with the stick in the way.
- Elisif: Precisely!
Rigmor laughed, which was the turnaround that Elisif hoped for.
- Elisif: The news about the Carvain family has been remarkedly quiet, considering the political consequences. I suppose the people of Skyrim had far more to worry about than the death of a Count.
- Rigmor: What! Civil war and dragons attacking are more important than a dead Count?
- Elisif: It was mentioned in the more popular and believable news sheets.
- Wulf: Plautis is dead, so who is next in line?
- Elisif: Nobody. That was, unfortunately, the end of the automatically eligible Carvain line. Like the Septim lineage, it has ended despite there once being many of them.
- Rigmor: Last time we met, I told you I am the proud daughter of a hero. His name is Ragnar Fjonasson. He was knighted and given a noble title by His Imperial Majesty for his service during and after The Great War. Then, when it was politically convenient, Emperor Titus Mede II allowed The Dominion to accuse my dad of war crimes and arrest and execute him. My family was stripped of its noble status, and my mum and I were enslaved.
- Wulf: His Imperial Majesty will reinstate Ragnar’s title; therefore, Rigmor will be nobly born again. He has also offered Rigmor the vacant position of Countess of Bruma. His official reason will be compensation for what happened to Rigmor’s family, but I doubt other nobles within Cyrodiil will accept that explanation.
- Elisif: So, you have a choice, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Yes, but I doubt I have long to choose.
- Elisif: You do not. Bruma needs a central point of administration. Bruma’s citizens and trading partners will demand an appointment soon. His Imperial Majesty does not have to justify or explain his choice. The Elder Council cannot interfere with it nor reverse it upon his death unless crimes against the crown, insanity or negligence are proven in court.
- Rigmor: Would my firstborn inherit the title on my death?
- Elisif: Yes, but only if legitimate, which means you must be married. Unlike High Rock, Skyrim, and most other provinces, Cyrodiil has a Coverture Law.
- Rigmor: What is that?
- Wulf: Coverture defines the legal status of a married woman if their spouse is male. The married woman’s identity is subsumed or covered by her husband. The married couple is regarded as a single legal entity. You would no longer be Countess of Bruma but Consort.
- Rigmor: That wouldn’t be bad, as such a role should be a shared responsibility.
- Elisif: Shared control is how it works in Skyrim and High Rock. Under Cyrodiil’s Coverture Law, you would lose all control over Bruma, your assets and your children. You might guide your husband privately but could never sit beside him at court. You are also convicted if your husband is found guilty of a crime. You cannot defend yourself or enter a plea if you are accused of a crime. You would rely on your husband to do those things.
- Wulf: I meant to speak to you about his, Rigmor.
- Elisif: May I be frank?
- Wulf: Yes, of course. We would not have asked for it if we did not value your knowledge and advice.
- Elisif: The first time I met you, Rigmor, I could see the love you two shared and felt a pang of jealousy, as that is what I lost when Ulfric murdered Torygg. But jealousy was quickly replaced by an honest and heartfelt wish for you and Wulf to find happiness. I prayed to Lady Mara for it to be so. However, even without Wulf beside you, I think you would be a popular and deserving Countess of Bruma. With Wulf beside you, you would still be Countess in everything but name.
- Rigmor: But why? I still don’t understand why Mede chose me. I don’t feel worthy or prepared for such a high noble position.
- Elisif: Gods have shown an interest in you, Rigmor, and I think His Imperial Majesty may have been told the same thing.
- Rigmor: How would you know about the gods and their interest in me?
- Elisif: Would you like to hazard a guess, Wulf?
- Wulf: Your Court Wizard, Sybil Stentor, is hundreds of years old. I recognised what she was the moment I first spoke to her. However, there is no darkness in her soul, just the taint of Molag Bal. We spoke candidly to one another, and Sybil knew I would keep her secret, and there was no animosity. She told me that much of the advice she provides to you comes from scrying and necromantic magic. She provided the same service for High King Torygg and many generations of his ancestors. Sybil may know that gods show interest in Rigmor but not why.
- Rigmor: You have a vampire as Court Wizard?
- Wulf: Vampires have free will, and not all of them are devotees of Molag Bal.
- Rigmor: Oh, I remember now. You have vampire orphans living in your palace.
- Elisif: We hide Sybil’s vampirism due to the general population’s ignorance, not out of shame. People suspect but do not know for sure.
- Rigmor: And you think His Imperial Majesty is also aware of this godly interest in me?
- Elisif: Wulf said that Lord Talos influenced the decision on who should lead the combined armies. Perhaps similar advice was given concerning the vacant position in Bruma.
- Wulf: It is one thing to say Lord Talos advised on a military matter. I doubt His Imperial Majesty would dare say The Divines influenced his choice of Rigmor.
- Elisif: I agree, but as I said earlier, he does not have to justify his choice.
- Wulf: Not legally, but unless the other Counts and Countesses believe his compensation story, there may be resentment and even opposition.
- Rigmor: My concern is for Bruma and its people. My decision to accept the position of Countess will be based on several factors, and competence is one of them. I don’t give a stuff what the other nobles think!
- Elisif: I expect I will eventually be the High Queen of Skyrim. I know how crucial the relationship with Bruma is to this province. Therefore, let’s pretend I speak as High Queen when I say that you, Rigmor, would make a fine Countess. How easily you bear the burden and responsibility will depend on the competence of your advisors.
- Rigmor: I have difficulty imagining myself in that position.
- Wulf: You have had little time to consider the pros and cons, Rigmor. That is why I told you as soon as you were well enough. His Imperial Majesty will await your decision and will not expect it till after The New Order is dealt with.
- Rigmor: I thank you for your advice, Elisif.
- Elisif: Rigmor, I am only a few years older than you. Yes, I had a lot of training in politics, but effectively governing for the people needs common sense and empathy. I am pleased to have provided some advice, but only you can confidently decide your answer.
- Wulf: If we leave you be, Elisif, you might get a few mouthfuls of food before the first supplicants of the afternoon grace your court. We shall teleport from here, so don’t be startled.
- Elisif: It must confuse those who hunt Rigmor and you when you enter a building but never exit.
- Wulf: I think most enemies now know I can teleport. But still, they have no idea where we are going.
- Rigmor: And where are we going?
- Wulf: High Hrothgar and then The Throat of The World.
I did a quick head bow, and as Elisif rushed to the dining hall, we teleported into High Hrothgar.
Rigmor said, “This place looks terribly dull!”
“It is a celebration of grey and all its myriad shades.”
“Thanks for taking me to visit Elisif. She had given me a lot to think about.”
“Other people, including me, can provide advice and opinions. However, as Elisif said, only you can decide the correct choice.”
“I think, when within Our Quiet, I can sort through it all and make a proper decision. Otherwise, I would automatically refuse the position out of confusion and fear.”
“Come, the quicker I speak to Arngeir, the sooner we can do something more pleasant.”
Arngeir saw us and approached.
- Arngeir: Welcome, Dragonborn. Can I assist you?
- Wulf: I came to inform you of an impending invasion. A group of renegade Thalmor called The New Order has assembled large enough armies to attack Cyrodiil and Skyrim simultaneously. I doubt they would assault High Hrothgar, and I am not asking for your aid. But you should be aware of events within The Empire.
- Arngeir: We have been ignorant of many things we should have known. Thank you for this information.
- Wulf: I will ask Paarthurnax for his aid. I do not want Dov to do anything contrary to The Way of The Voice. Those who do not follow your tenets will not be asked to fight. I will ask them to scout for us. They cannot be harmed and will help save many lives.
- Arngeir: Ultimately, it is Paarthurnax’s decision, but I can’t imagine him objecting.
- Rigmor: Their assistance would help the citizens of Skyrim accept dragons as allies, not enemies.
- Wulf: Master Arngeir, let me introduce Lady Rigmor Ragnarsdottier.
- Arngeir: It is a pleasure to meet you, Lady Ragnarsdottier, and you are correct. Although several dragons aided in defending Skyrim against Alduin and his allies, most citizens consider all Dov evil and dangerous. Visible aid not involving fighting and death would help change their perspective.
- Wulf: Breath and focus, Master Arngeir.
- Arngeir: Breath and focus, Dragonborn.
We made our way to Kyne’s Temple.
We entered the small alcove with a bed and statue of Father.
When I approached the statue, Father talked to us.
- Talos: Rigmor, I look forward to meeting you.
- Rigmor: Ahh…okay…umm…
- Wulf: The incredible powers wielded by Mighty Talos have made Rigmor speechless! It is a miracle!
- Rigmor: I am still capable of kicking you where it hurts!
- Talos: Ha, that was one of Alessia’s favourite tactics when a mortal.
- Wulf: Mother taught me several techniques of bollock kicking.
- Talos: An Amulet of Talos is on the altar for you, Rigmor. It will protect you against the Lifeforce draining of Aetherius.
- Rigmor: Those bastards stole my amulet again, so I am grateful for your gift, Lord Talos.
- Talos: Please, call me Hjalti.
- Wulf: We shall see you soon, Father.
I handed the amulet to Rigmor. She looked at it with awe and then placed it around her neck.
Rigmor followed me into the main chamber and gasped.
She exclaimed, “I have never seen Kynareth look like that!”
“That is an Old Nord representation of Kyne.”
“Are they birds flying around her?”
“They are projections of miniature hawks and not real. The trees are real.”
“Are you going to pray?”
“I will thank Lady Kynareth for the permanent Kyne’s Peace I am blessed with.”
“Oh, I didn’t know it had become permanent.”
“Yes, I noticed it a few days ago.”
“Okay, I will stand back and promise to be quiet.”
I approached the shrine and said, “Lady Kynareth, thank you for the Kyne’s Peace blessing.”
“Dragonchild, that blessing occurred after you improved the focus of your Thu’um to a high enough level. I did not have to enable it manually. Please be aware that animals often detect danger before you do and attack enemies far too powerful to survive. I know you would feel guilt at their demise, but be cautious and do not rush to their aid without knowing what you face.”
“That is wise advice that I shall heed.”
“Greetings, Rigmor. You are an enigma to The Nine, but there is one thing of which we are certain. You and Wulf are a formidable pair and are meant to be together. Notice I did not say destined or fated, for Wulf hates those terms. But you are meant to be together like fish with water, birds with the sky, and mother with child. It is a natural thing not of manipulation or design by The Nine. If another god or gods have deemed this to be, we do not know.”
Rigmor did not say a word. I felt Kynareth’s presence recede and approached my beloved, who looked slightly surprised.
I asked, “So, are you the fish or the water?”
“Ha de haha!”
“I find it comforting that my gods do not know all.”
“Some would find it terrifying.”
“It might be a bit chilly at the summit.”
“Wulf, I am a Nord.”
“Okay, but if you get snoticles, don’t blame me.”
“Weird. Just weird.”
I decided that suddenly appearing in the middle of dragons was not advisable, so we teleported to just below the summit.
Valminoor was enjoying the updraft with Odahviing. I hope he has been convinced there is no shame in the defeat he experienced.
I used my Thu’um.
“OD AH VIING!”
Odahviing spiralled down and landed with some grace.
“Do you wish to tinvaak, Dovahkiin?”
“Yes, Odahviing. I want to know if you have contemplated my offer.”
“Yes, and I want to aid you as a comrade, not because of the power of your Thu’um.”
“Then I am pleased to accept your aid.”
“That is good, for Valminoor has told me of the invasion. Are we to fight side by side?”
“No, Odahviing, I will not ask Dov to fight in mortal battles. Aid in smaller skirmishes poses little risk, and my Dov companions have provided valuable support. However, I need as many Dov as possible to act as scouts. Silah will coordinate that part of the defence.”
“Ha, if Silah were mortal, she would be a bossy and high-ranking officer of The Legion. I will meekly do as she commands.”
“Is Valminoor still ashamed?”
“He is, but voluntarily being in my presence is a substantial step forward. He will soon regain his confidence and pride.”
“Good, for I miss our discussions of obscure matters.”
“Yes, he has a fascination for useless facts.”
“Enjoy the thermals for a while longer before reporting to Silah.”
Odahviing lifted, and his downdraught blew Rigmor onto her bottom. She saw my grin, refused my hand and warned, “Don’t you dare laugh, Dragonbum!”
I laughed as I approached Paarthurnax.
“Drem Yol Lok. Greetings, Paarthurnax.”
“Greetings, Dovahkiin. You are wise not to use Dov in battle. We have lost too many brethren fighting in large conflicts. However, you are not so wise to ignore Rigmor’s warning.”
“Not asking Dov to fight in battle is a decision I made long before setting foot in Skyrim. I read the reports of Ka’Po’Tun and Tsaesci battles where many Dov fell. Yet their war is still raging, so those deaths were for nought. Perhaps one day I can restore the fallen Dov.”
“Did you learn Alduin’s restoration Shout?”
“Yes, and it uses four Words of Power. I think it can be done with less use of Lifeforce, which I would provide without the need to absorb it from souls. I must research that possibility when circumstance allows me the time.”
“The Dov on both sides were mad with battle lust. That may prove a problem upon their restoration.”
“We cannot say what the thoughts of each individual will be. Therefore, if the opportunity arose, I would risk their restoration.”
“You must ask each Greyscale if they will scout for you. Nothing within The Way of The Voice prevents such a thing. However, it is a personal decision and not one for the Master of The Greybeards to command. I will assist and will gladly allow Silah to give instructions.”
“We could not call them Greybeards, but Greyscales is acceptable. Arngeir suggested the name after he stopped staring dumfounded at our recruits.”
“Breath and focus, Odahviing.”
“Careful, Dragonborn, or you may wake one morning with a flea-infested beard and grey hair.”
I asked each Dov in turn.
“Toormaarfeyn, will you aid in defence of Skyrim by scouting for the mortal armies?”
“It would be an honour, Dovahkiin.”
“Hevnofokriid, will you aid in defence of Skyrim by scouting for the mortal armies?”
“Yes, for this is our home, and we should aid in its defence.”
Gaafkrokulaan said, “There is no need to ask me, Dovahkiin, as my answer is yes for the reasons already expressed by others.”
I said, “I thank you all, and so will the citizens of Skyrim when they learn of your aid.”
It was Nahfahlaar’s turn to protect the farm, so I was not surprised to hear Silah say, “Wulf, please speak to me before you leave.”
Her perch was a fair distance from the male dragons. When we got closer, Silah said, “Rigmor, please step forward.”
Rigmor did so, and Silah stared at her for several seconds.
- Silah: Your recovery is astonishing, Rigmor. When you sat on the porch yesterday, darkness was inside you. Now you are physically well. How are your memories?
- Rigmor: I feel things are missing, but I believe they will return.
- Silah: Forgive me for staring at you. I assume I am not the first to find you fascinating. I know I am not to first to find the connection between you and Wulf equally fascinating.
- Rigmor: I do not mind, but I think answering some questions would detract from what prompted them. You all seek to label and define something rather than rejoice in what it is. Do you know Saint Alessia’s folklore about the origin of auroras?
- Silah: Yes, I do. It is of Nedic origin and has been told for thousands of years. Alessia found it of great comfort when she peered through metal bars at the night sky as an enslaved child.
- Rigmor: Wulf says there is a scientific explanation for them, which reduces auroras to a known and understood phenomenon. If reduced to a scientific explanation, Saint Alessia would have found little comfort in the aurora’s beauty. I do not care why gods have an interest in me. As for the love between Wulf and me, it is a thing of beauty that needs no explanation. Our Quiet, that calmness between us when close, is a result of our love and needs no other definition or analysis.
- Wulf: I am going to risk life and limb with this analogy. People have pet dogs and cats. They feel calm when their cat sits on their lap, or their dog lays at their feet. That calmness is a product of love, like Our Quiet.
- Rigmor: Wow, before you asked if I was the fish or the water and now, I am a pet!
- Silah: Lure him to the edge and push him off. Wulf will have many seconds to contemplate his error before going splat.
- Rigmor: That would be okay if he returned in spirit form to apologise.
- Wulf: My dear Rigmor, I am the faithful mutt at your feet!
- Rigmor: What do you think, Silah?
- Silah: That was grovelling enough. Let him live for now.
- Rigmor: So, do you understand my thoughts on this, Silah?
- Silah: Yes, but I know Wulf finds comfort that The Nine do not know everything and display curiosity.
- Rigmor: They can contemplate all they like, but I don’t think I want some answers.
- Wulf: Some things should remain gobblygook.
- Rigmor: Yep!
- Wulf: I answered good, so do I get a rub on the tummy?
- Silah: Wulf, you have recruited enough Dov as scouts to cover all of Tamriel and far out to sea. Vayu has provided me with things that need immediate reporting, which are obvious but good to have defined. I think The New Order will not enjoy their time in Skyrim.
- Rigmor: What about Cyrodiil? Won’t Mede need some scouts?
- Wulf: His Imperial Majesty knows their plans. No variance is possible as they are invading by sea and not from another province. Therefore, he will wait, knowing The New Order will walk into his trap. Skyrim is a different matter. There are many options for The New Order within this province. We assume they will try and capture Whiterun as a priority. Dov scouts will let us know if they have a different plan in time for us to react.
- Rigmor: That makes sense, which is always a worry when you explain something to me.
- Silah: I had better get the males organised with simple instructions. I don’t want the poor things to get confused.
- Rigmor: We must be sensitive to male inadequacies.
- Wulf: And I was about to summon you to the very top. Now I am inadequate and incapable of such a thing.
- Rigmor: Is that my faithful dog baring his teeth?
- Wulf: No mistress.
- Rigmor: Then get climbing!
- Wulf: Who said anything about climbing?
I Blinked to a ledge about fifteen feet below the pointed top.
I summoned Rigmor and watched as she stared in one direction and then another.
After twenty minutes, I said, “Woah, if you keep turning around, you will get dizzy and fall off!”
Rigmor faced me, and a huge smile told me this detour was worthwhile.
She said, “Yanno, on a clear day, we could probably see The White-Gold Tower from here!”
“I would love to have seen that before Daedra during The Planemeld and Thalmor during The Great Ware destroyed much of it. Mother said it was originally white marble with gold trimming and veins.”
“I always felt a sense of awe when I got close to it. The mood was spoiled somewhat with the many guards staring at you with a promise of violence in their eyes.”
“How are you feeling, Rigmor? I have been dragging you around all day.”
“It has been half a day. Considering you didn’t let me sleep much, I am doing okay.”
“Are you nervous about visiting The College of Winterhold?”
“No, but I am astounded that the original plan was for a stranger to tell me about Mede’s offer and my bloodline.”
“I don’t know how much more you will learn.”
“Well, as long as I learn where the Daedric artefacts come from, I will be content.”
“It is time to visit Aetherius. I don’t have to cast a spell but can will us there. I have started doing that with other places. The Psijic Order always did it and told me I would eventually develop the ability.”
“I can’t handle much more gobblygook at the moment. Therefore I won’t ask you about the Psijic Order.”
“Good, because I still don’t understand them.”
Rigmor kissed me, held my hand and said, “I have enjoyed today so far. We have been safe, and you haven’t had to kill anybody.”
“I wish we could have spent more days like this, as I think chaos will soon take over once more.”
“Celestine explained why we are at the farm and not one of your properties. I feel safe with the dragons flying around and the guards in place. Angi is bonding with Sorella, and that pleases everybody.”
“It is a pretty place to have a farm. However, I would prefer a flowing river and a nearby waterfall. That is what my new property near Whiterun is like. If allowed to purchase adjacent property, I would make it a proper farm.”
“Our farm is something we can plan for together, Wulf. I don’t care where as long as it is not in some remote place on an island near Roscrea.”
“No, we wouldn’t want our children born with two heads.”
“Haha, weirdo. Do your whatever to get us to Aetherius.”
I willed us to my Aetherius Room.
Rigmor exclaimed, “When you said you had a room, I didn’t expect something the size of a castle!”
“Well, I didn’t make it. Father did. Anyway, let’s look at the armour.”
We stood before the armour, and I recognised it from histories of battles Father fought and dramatised paintings.
Rigmor said, “It looks pretty intimidating!”
“It is a replica of armour that Father once wore. He had the original armour made after discovering he was Dragonborn.”
“Can you please explain the symbols and other bits?”
“The silver symbol is a combination of an hourglass and infinity. The hourglass is used to denote Lord Akatosh. Infinity is used to denote time.”
“Okay, I understand that bit. Do the dragon wings represent the status of Dragonborn?”
“Yes, and the black crest was used by Colovian armies to denote the rank of general. Some Legions still use it. The Red Diamond is self-explanatory.”
“Why the face mask?”
“Enemies cannot see fear or pain or any other emotion. What they see is an expression of disinterest or disdain. They are to be killed by a heartless warrior who cares not if they live or die.”
“Are you going to put it on?”
“I will place my usual dweomer on it first. Why don’t you wander around and look at Aetherius through the windows.”
“I might do that to relieve my eyes. It is very bright in here!”
The armour did not need honing and was of superb craftsmanship. Therefore, I started on the enchanting. I looked over at Rigmor occasionally and saw the look of wonder on her face. Few living people get to see the splendour of Aetherius.
Intuitively I placed an extra Dweomer on the helm. Like the mask of the Akaviri Field Armour I sometimes wear, it will disguise my features and race from those who see me for the first time.
Rigmor saw me disrobe to don the new armour and sauntered over.
She purred, “Wulf, there is a nice-looking bed over there!”
“Control yourself, Rigmor. Father could pop in any moment.”
“Oh, that would be awkward! I will stare out some more windows and think pure thoughts.”
“You shouldn’t think about those twelve-inch Weiners and Beefsticks!”
“The crudity of the suggestion is a product of your mind, Lady Ragnarsdottier.”
“Yeah, right! Pffft!”
“Seriously, what do you think of Aetherius?”
“Its beauty is impossible to describe, but I hoped to see some spirits.”
“They surround us, Rigmor. But as a mortal, you cannot see them.”
“Oh, so if we had got busy on the bed, we would have had an audience!”
“Yes, and they would probably have told Silah, and billions of souls would know in no time.”
“And here I am, worried what Mum would think.”
“Why would Sigunn care if her daughter is no longer a virgin? Many people likely think we made love days ago since I spent some nights in my private rooms with you.”
“Yeah, you are right. Still, I don’t want dead perverts watching!”
“We are the intruders in Aetherius, Rigmor. The dead would probably complain about the indecency of living people.”
“Okay, back to staring at Aetherius while thinking pure thoughts that do not involve sausages or other long, wobbly things. Or not so wobbly. Oh my…um…pure thoughts…pure thoughts….”
I laughed at my beloved as I donned the armour.
Thirty minutes later, I called Rigmor over.
I asked, “Well, what do you think?”
“It is intimidating but also provides an air of authority. But you like the flexibility of your Akaviri armour, and that looks much more cumbersome.”
“Surprisingly, it isn’t. The materials Father used are unlike any I have worked with.”
Rigmor moved around a bit to look at me from different angles.
Father appeared in front of her, and she squeaked in fright.
Father said, “Sorry, Rigmor. I can’t stay. I just wanted to check how the latest Imperial General looks.”
“You look like a well-known Colovian Warlord, just a bit taller and wider.”
“And much more handsome when I remove the helmet.”
“That is debatable. Lord Akatosh is demanding my attendance, so I must go.”
Rigmor said, “Well, he was not as I expected him to be.”
“That is Lord Talos as my father. He can be quite different when being The Ninth Divine.”
“I thought you said that gods can do multiple things simultaneously.”
“I suspect that when they meet with Lord Akatosh, they concentrate on that one thing.”
“That makes sense. We have been here for some time, Wulf.”
“Mere seconds back on Nirn. I can control the flow of time in this room.”
“It is the only way I could learn everything I needed between leaving Roscrea for Akavir and arriving in Skyrim.”
“Do you age in here?”
“No, because of my Dragonsoul.”
“So, you are older than twenty-two years.”
“Yeah, if you add the time I have spent studying in this room, I would be closer to thirty. However, physically I am twenty-two.”
“There is a name for thirty-year-old men who seduce innocent teenagers!”
“Come on, pervert, let’s go see Casius.”
“Okay, we will walk from Heljarchen Hall.”
“Weren’t there many things to kill along the way the first time we visited Casius?”
“Yes, but that wasn’t long ago, so hopefully, the things are still dead!”
I willed us to Heljarchen Hall and startled Oriella.
- Wulf: My apologies, Oriella.
- Oriella: Normally, I wouldn’t be so jumpy, but we are all on edge. Silah visited and said the invasion was imminent.
- Wulf: We expect their fleet to be sighted within the next few days.
- Oriella: Tsubaki says we will go into lockdown, so she had taken the carriage to bring back supplies.
- Wulf: There is a chance the enemy will pass close to Heljarchen Hall. Altmeri troops, even those of The New Order, will be well disciplined. However, we don’t know if they use troops from Dominion provinces and mercenaries. Many Dov are acting as scouts, and they will let you know if somebody is heading this way. If so, lock yourselves in the cellar and let them loot if they wish. However, make sure you spike any supplies so they have the trots.
- Oriella: Tsubaki told me how villagers in Akavir would do that and cause havoc with the enemy.
- Wulf: Army latrines are unpleasant at the best of times. Hundreds of troops with the squirts make them unbearable.
- Rigmor: Trots and squirts?
- Wulf: Flux, runs, the shits.
- Rigmor: Diarrhoea?
- Wulf: Oh, that must be the polite noble term.
- Rigmor: As opposed to the obscure barbarian terms.
- Oriella: We have noticed a significant number increase at the nearby Imperial compound.
- Wulf: Yes, they are waiting for orders. We expect The New Order to attack Whiterun, and if that seems imminent, those troops will join some Stormcloaks to defend that city.
- Oriella: By the looks of your impressive armour, you are an Imperial general.
- Wulf: I am in charge of Skyrim’s defence.
- Oriella: Are the invading bastards the ones that were hunting you, Rigmor?
- Rigmor: Yes, and they managed to capture me.
- Wulf: After I failed to protect you.
- Rigmor: Ignore him, Oriella. It was not his fault, and he entered Oblivion twice to rescue me.
- Wulf: The New Order built an Oblivion Gate, and a Daedric Prince was going to fight beside them. They wanted to sacrifice Rigmor in a needless ceremony. I rescued Rigmor and destroyed the portal from inside Oblivion.
- Oriella: I am sure your journal will have a detailed description.
- Wulf: What is with the jewellery and flower crown? That is a bit fancy for indoors.
- Oriella: There is a young sergeant that expressed interest in some horizontal dancing. So, if I will soon be stuck inside for who knows how long, I will visit him before then.
- Rigmor: Horizontal dancing?
- Wulf: Boot knocking.
- Oriella: Nooky.
- Rigmor: Oh. I wonder if they are on Meeko’s list.
- Wulf: Okay, we are about to visit the Legion Compound. Keep safe, Oriella.
A light fog gave way to a snowstorm as we walked.
Our only encounter was with a troll that ignored us due to Kyne’s Peace.
Many soldiers saluted as we passed them. I was not used to such subservience but saluted back as protocol demanded.
Casius saw us approaching and stood as we entered his tent.
As we approached the table, he said, “Sit and help yourselves to refreshments.”
We sat, and the idiocy started.
- 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 there something wrong?
- Wulf: Rigmor was forced to drink a concoction by The New Order and suffered a very traumatic experience. As a result, she suffers from memory loss and is far from well, Casius.
- Rigmor: Wulf has taken me to several places to help with my recovery. Today I met lots of dragons and Lord Talos.
- Casius: Lord Talos?
- Rigmor: Yes, and he made Wulf’s armour. It is a copy of what Tiber Septim wore when Lord Akatosh made him a Dragonborn.
- Wulf: I am now a General of the Imperial Army, Casius, in charge of Skyrim’s defence.
- Rigmor: Lord Talos told Mede to do that.
- Wulf: This is a courtesy visit, Casius. Rigmor is still unwell but wanted to visit you.
- Casius: I see.
Casius ignored what we said about her illness and started speaking to Rigmor as if she was a soldier under his command.
- Casius: I noticed you no longer wear 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 wear armour or carry a weapon. You do not need to fight in the upcoming battles. 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: 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 their friends and family, not some warped reverence for their old commander’s daughter!
- Casius: You need to get a grip on yourself, young lady. We will need these men in the coming battle. The fate of Skyrim, no, Tamriel even, could depend on you.
- Wulf: All the battle plans that have been and will be discussed are based on what we already have. You are saying we will fail, and only the addition of these geriatrics gives us hope. That is bullshit, Casius! I don’t want troops who are only loyal to a dead man’s daughter. We have enough troops willing to 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 stood and faced Casius.
Her voice quivered as she yelled, “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!”
I watched Rigmor exit, and then she stood and sobbed. My rage was immense.
I bellowed, “Stand to attention, Legate, and don’t drop your salute till I say so!”
Casius stood straight with a perfect salute. He looked worried as I towered over him.
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.”
“I didn’t realise she was in such a bad way, General.”
I was unconsciously flexing my hands. Casius looked at them, then returned to staring into my eyes.
I told him, “It seems you think of everything in military terms, so I am happy to comply. Stand at ease while I deal with Rigmor.”
I then made my way to my beloved.
She heard my angry footsteps and turned to face me, wiping tears from her eyes.
I took a deep breath and let Our Quiet soothe my anger.
I whispered to her, “I am sorry, Rigmor. That was thoughtless of Casius.”
“It is stupid! Those soldiers either fight for what is right or stop calling themselves Sons of Talos. Dad would be ashamed of them!”
“Yes, it is stupid. I know that some Sons of Talos proudly wear Legion armour and serve in whatever capacity they can. The fact those idiots ended up in a rebel camp says much about them.”
Rigmor sniffled, “Why do people want me to kill and fight? I am more than that, Wulf!”
“You are so much more, and I understand, for I also want to be seen as more than a killer.”
“Casius has filled me with doubt. Should I address those men even if we don’t need them?”
“You are an adult, Rigmor and make your own decisions, yet Cassius seems to think you are incapable of doing so.”
“Please, speak to Casius. I want to get out of here and visit Winterhold.”
“I won’t hurt Cassius, but neither will I go easy on him. I will be back soon.”
I was a few feet from Rigmor when my anger returned. I stomped towards Casius and stopped further away than before. He looked worried and stared at me fearfully.
I told him, “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, I will ensure their reputation is forever tarnished. They would not be worthy of the title Sons of Talos! What would Ragnar say about such idiocy?”
“He would say the same as you. If they think they can fight, they should do so for the right reasons.”
“They will not be part of our battle plans as they are unnecessary. However, they have a chance to demonstrate that Ragnar’s troops in Hammerfell were honourable and not murderers, as the false records claim. You are dismissed, Legate. And in the future, I expect you to treat Lady Rigmor Ragnarsdottier with the respect she deserves!”
I walked towards Rigmor with more restraint, even though my anger was still great.
She said, “You didn’t use The Voice, but I still think every soldier heard that dressing down.”
“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. If you do decide to visit, that will be tomorrow sometime. We have more important matters after The College of Winterhold.”
“Oh, and what might that be?”
“I think we need more practice.”
Rigmor giggled as I teleported us to Winterhold.
As we walked down the main street, Rigmor asked, “Is it true that part of this city fell into the sea?”
“Yes, although not much of the terrible damage can be seen here as new buildings have been erected. It is a mystery what caused the 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 the dweomer placed on them. I want 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 the 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. We might as well look at the library while we are here.”
As we crossed the bridge, I told Rigmor, “I am glad I paid for this.”
“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 news sheet 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 to fix 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. Then it could have been named The Bitchy Bridge.”
“We shall call that round a draw.”
“What? My jest was the better!”
“Yeah, right. Pffft!”
A bit further along, Rigmor asked, “What are those rock thingies called again?”
“Storm Atronachs. The College use them as guards.”
“They are a bit rude, and one shoved past me.”
A small bird ran ahead of us.
I asked, “Rigmor, can you remember what those birds are called.”
“Yeah, but that one is a Bridge runner.”
“One day, you will say a pun that makes me laugh, and The Divines will proclaim it a miracle.”
We entered the main building.
Rigmor said, “I hope you know where we are going?”
“Didn’t you look at the maps as we entered?”
“No, and neither did you!”
“I had looked at a map before we came. Malesam’s room is near the Arch-Mage’s rooms. We only have to climb about a dozen floors.”
“Oh, but I am so tired. Can’t you go up and then summon me?”
“The exercise will help with your flabby thigh problem.”
“I don’t have flabby thighs! They are muscly and toned.”
“Then you will have no problem climbing the steps!”
“You tricked me.”
When we walked past his desk, I said, “Good evening, Master gro-Shub.”
He replied, “What’s good about it? There are apprentices in my library!”
We climbed another story and entered the library.
Rigmor looked around in awe and loudly exclaimed, “This is so cool!”
That was met with disapproving looks and a lot of shushing.
I whispered, “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 like the Imperial scholars?”
“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 few years?”
“You can visit here as my guest whenever you want. The library in my museum is also quite large.”
“I assume the grumpy Orsimer doesn’t allow food in here.”
“He would feed you to angry Daedra if you dared.”
“Then I will rely on you to drag me out before I starve the next time we visit.”
“Only a couple of floors to go.”
“A gentleman would not make his lady climb all these steps.”
“You told everybody in The Bannered Mare that you are not a lady.”
“No, I asked that bitch, ‘Who said I am a lady?’”
“Vivienne is not a bitch. Now, stop the whining and exercise those muscly and toned thighs.”
“I will show you how toned when I kick you in the knackers!”
“I would demand you kiss them better.”
“Oh, just a dim memory from last night.”
Rigmor was in the throws of a seemingly endless giggle fit as we quickly exited the library before we were lynched. A few minutes late, we reached The Arch-Mage’s rooms.
I looked at Rigmor and said, “A bit of decorum now, Lady Ragnarsdottier.”
“Okay, I promise to be well-behaved.”
I knocked on the doors, and they automatically opened.
We entered, and Savos said, “Welcome, Lord Welkynd and Lady Rigmor Ragnarsdottier. Please come to my desk so we can get some formalities out of the way.”
Rigmor asked, “How did you know it was us before opening the doors from that far away?”
“I wouldn’t be much of an Arch-Mage if I didn’t know some magic, Lady Ragnarsdottier.”
Savos sat and said, “Now, let me enter the details of this visit in the register. While I do that, here is your Master of Winterhold amulet. Please wear it when on college grounds.
I placed the amulet around my neck, ensuring it could be seen over my armour.
I said, “I am honoured but feel odd for being so readily promoted to such a lofty position.”
“Nonsense. Two people I admire, Master Mage Celestine and Loremaster Quaranir, explained to me how you had done more to uphold The Royal Decree than any current member of The College. You are a Master of all Schools of Magicka and a powerful Tongue. Nobody is more worthy of that amulet than you, Lord Welkynd.”
“You spoke to Quaranir?”
“He just appeared one day and started talking as if we had kept in touch over the centuries. I hadn’t seen him since I was an apprentice long ago.”
“He is an insufferable arsehole.”
“That he is, but other Psijic Monks are less palatable.”
I handed him a book and said, “I had my museum’s scribes make a copy of this book. It describes how the disciplines of magic study can be applied to The Voice. It was written by a Master Mage who also became a powerful Tongue. His name was Hodir Thunder-Fang.”
“Ahh, yes, many college resources were utilised in his research. It is fitting we finally get to see the results of that investment. I thank you for the gift.”
Savos finished writing, stood, and approached Rigmor and me.
- Savos: Do either of you have questions?
- Wulf: Arch-Mage, can you tell us about Jonte Malesam? Why did The College decide he would be Rigmor’s protector and potential advisor?
- Savos: Jonte is no mage, but his legal knowledge and political savvy make him an ideal candidate. His adopted daughter, Cerys, is a very competent Master Mage of Restoration 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. Recently she demonstrated more willingness to stand up to Jonte and correct him if required.
- Wulf: That might be due to my influence the first time I met the pair.
- Rigmor: Please, tell us what you know of the Carvain family’s demise.
- Savos: Count Carvain died in a riding accident about a month ago. His only child, a daughter called Sofia, inherited the title of Countess at twelve. Count Carvain’s wife, Lady Aviefre Carvain, was named Regent until Sofia came of age. Shortly after Count Carvain’s accident, Countess Sofia vanished without a trace. She was last seen by her mother, who kissed her goodnight. Sofia had been complaining about voices telling her to go somewhere. It is thought the young girl 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. The losses took a toll on Lady Carvain, who died of grief. As a Restoration Mage, Master Welkynd, you would know that is possible and not as uncommon as it may seem.
- Wulf: Indeed, a mortal can lose the will to live. Equally, the will to live can overcome much deprivation and injuries, as Lady Ragnarsdottier has demonstrated on several occasions.
Rigmor started to tear up even though she already knew the sad tale.
- 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. Can you tell us about existing 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: Professor Freathof Pulonicus. I have read some of his books. He doesn’t seem to specialise but has a broad spectrum of interests. Jarl Elisif told us he was a suspect in Sofia’s disappearance until His Imperial Majesty intervened.
- Savos: Freathof has been with the Carvain family for decades and was a tutor to Sofia. He has taken her loss to heart, and 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, as Dragonborn, to the people of Nirn. We have our informants to keep us appraised of political situations and alliances.
- Rigmor: Wulf is concerned about Jonte Malesam’s loyalty to me, whether or not I accept the position in Bruma.
- Wulf: His devotion to Boethia may conflict with 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 some doubts and will ask him to answer a few questions, Arch-Mage.
- Savos: Speak to me after you have talked to Jonte and give me your verdict. 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. After visiting him, we shall speak to you if we think he is unsuitable. If you don’t hear from us, we have no objections.
- Savos: That sounds reasonable.
- Wulf: Will he be in his rooms?
- Savos: As soon as you crossed the bridge, I had an apprentice find him and inform him of your imminent arrival.
- Wulf: It has been a pleasure meeting you, Arch-Mage. I look forward to contributing to this college and its students.
We exited the Arch-Mage’s rooms and entered Malesam’s.
At the bottom of some stairs was 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, 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, “Wulf? Should I go with Cerys?”
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 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, to keep Rigmor safe, I must know everything.”
“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’s dates did not coincide with the family 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 were stored 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 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 proved 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.”
“The New Order are morons. However, it seems Morgan was a fine mage, and I assume she became quite influential in court?”
“Emperor Titus Mede the First would always seek Morgan’s guidance in the Empire’s affairs. She overshadowed the Heir to the Dynasty, Attrebus Mede. Attrebus was fiercely jealous of the foreign ‘Witch.’ So much so, at the event of his father’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! Before he came to power, he was a hero of the people 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, saving Tamriel from destruction! Attrebus married a commoner against all conventions. 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 serving 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 true, 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 Sir Ragnar Fjonnoson 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 has done an abysmal job of protecting or serving Rigmor. I am sure Rigmor has many cousins, which The College has also failed to protect.”
“Before she leaves here, it is my duty to tell Rigmor of her ancestry. Emperor Titus Mede II is to restore her name and accept her family as part of the Mede Dynasty. He also offers her the recently vacated Countess of Bruma position if she desires it. All she has to do is accept, and it is hers.”
“You don’t know Rigmor’s mental state, overall health or what she had been subjected to! Telling her these things at the wrong time may severely impact her recovery.”
“I am afraid this doesn’t concern you anymore, Guardian. Tell her I must.”
“I swore to Rigmor to be her guardian when she was fourteen. 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 The College somehow trumps that oath! If I think this information is detrimental to Rigmor at this time, and you try to tell her, I will stop you by whatever means necessary.”
“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 drew my sword. Malesam’s arrogance was immediately replaced by fear.
“I slaughtered Boethia’s champions and am now her sole champion. Even if you don’t respect my other myriad titles, some respect to The Champion of Boethia is due, don’t you think?”
I pointed to the visible Master’s 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.”
Silence from Malesam.
I sheathed my sword and continued, “I never suggested that Rigmor was never to be told. As I said, you have no idea of Rigmor’s mental and physical health or what The New Order did to her. If you tell her about Mede’s offer or her Mede bloodline, it may impede her recovery and even reverse her progress. That could harm Rigmor, and as per 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 advise you to answer truthfully. Deception will prove you are untrustworthy and unfit to be assigned to Rigmor as The College’s representative. Tell me the truth, and we shall discuss the situation further.”
“Okay, ask your question.”
I positioned a chair close to and directly in front of Malesam.
I sat, stared into his eyes, and said, “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 continued to stare into Malesam’s eyes for ten seconds more. To his credit, he did not look away. He showed no signs of deception, and I believed what he said.
I told him, “You are not lying, Malesam, and you had no chance to tell me of Rigmor’s location.”
“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.”
“I did not lose my temper, Malesam. I don’t need to be angry to kill someone threatening a person under my protection. I have done so thousands of times! However, as you witnessed in that unpleasant cave, I don’t take kindly to arrogance from the ignorant. Now tell me 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 Mede 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 His Imperial Majesty 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 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 Titus Mede II no longer sat on The Ruby Throne. His three children died, and so has his wife. If His Imperial Majesty were to die before naming an Heir Apparent, The Elder Council would select his replacement. Rigmor, due to her Mede bloodline, could be regarded as a threat to those aspiring to sit upon The Ruby Throne. People who knew of her bloodline would tell others, and Rigmor’s life would again be in grave danger whether or not she knew of her Mede blood. 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 that 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. It also seems I must remind you that I am a Master of The College and don’t have to do anything you say.”
Silence from Malesam once more.
I asked him, “One of Rigmor’s parents carried the Mede bloodline. How many generations before them were of the same Mede bloodline? You said it was her noble blood that made the gods take notice of Rigmor. The College lost track of them, so you have no idea how many other descendants of Rigmor of Cyrodiil and Emperor Titus Mede I exist! Why did the gods show interest in Rigmor and not those before her with Mede’s blood? Under Imperial Law, a person more than three generations from an emperor or empress is no longer regarded as royal, and the terms prince or princess cannot be used. Unless recognised by Royal Decree, even the first generation of a bastard line is not regarded as royal. But even if mislabelled as a royal, Rigmor’s Mede blood is not why the gods have taken notice of Rigmor. The Daedric Princes cannot know these bloodlines via dweomer or innate abilities. Any claim to the contrary is a lie. For instance, Lady Boethia did not know I was Dragonborn till I told her, so how could she know Rigmor had highly distilled Mede blood in her?”
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 of The College of Winterhold and have decided 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.”
Malesam sat silent and deep in thought as I placed the chair in its original position.
Rigmor ran into the room and excitedly said, “Wulf, you have so gotta see this! Come on, this way!”
An amused Malesam and I walked to the far room at a far more dignified pace than Rigmor.
On a table was an ancient set of armour and a magnificent greatsword.
I stepped back and smiled at my beloved.
- Wulf: Rigmor, my love, 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 Majesty?
- Wulf: A little. 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 New Order used a concoction to prepare Rigmor for sacrifice. After rescuing her from the sacrificial altar and taking her to a secure location, it was found that she had severe memory loss. It was the opinion of several Masters of Restoration, including Celestine, whom Cerys knows, that Rigmor needed time to purge the toxins and recover. During that time, the emphasis was on gently restoring her memories. I know Rigmor better than most and, as a physician, the best qualified to judge when Rigmor should learn of her bloodline and His Imperial Majesty’s offer. When I judged Rigmor was ready, I disclosed the information to her, and we discussed it at length.
- Malesam: Would you have stopped me if I tried to tell Rigmor, even though she already knew?
- Wulf: That would have proven to me you were not a suitable protector and informed the Arch-Mage of my decision.
- Cerys: After observing them and speaking to Rigmor, I know they are deeply in love, Father. Wulf would most likely have punched you in the mouth before talking to the Arch-Mage. I don’t know if I would have healed your injuries or punched you as well.
- Rigmor: 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, Rigmor, who is a woman and not the child of a balding Altmer.
- Cerys: Father, Rigmor has endured so much that she can no longer be regarded as a child!
- Rigmor: Okay, it is only fitting that I try the armour.
- Wulf: Cerys, will you please assist Rigmor?
- Cerys: Yes, of course, Master Welkynd.
- Wulf: When did you notice my Master’s amulet?
- Cerys: From the moment I saw you as it is prominent. Did Father miss it?
- Wulf: Yes, he did. Anyway, Jonte and I will wait in the other room.
We walked to the other room, where I warned Malesam, “You may 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 talked to her in soothing tones.
Malesam’s voice was worried as he asked, “What is happening?”
“Cerys just saw the scars on Rigmor’s back. They result from multiple whippings inflicted by her Thalmor captors when she was enslaved at fourteen. There are dozens of welts that 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. We soon learned that the one who ordered and supervised the whippings was Tilar Aedriath. 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 when we first met, ‘She is unharmed.’ Rigmor witnessed me shot in the neck and gurgling as I drowned in my blood. Then she saw me stabbed twice. On top of that, the monster that has plagued her dreams for years dragged her away. She was reliving a nightmare and then forced to drink the concoction! She was far from unharmed, Jonte!”
“I have been wrong about so many things.”
“That is because you believe everything Boethia tells you and carry a false sense of superiority leading to arrogance. Whether or not Rigmor accepts the Countess position, The College wants to appoint you and Cerys as her protectors. You would be some of her advisors if she is Countess.”
“Yes, I am not a mage, but I 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 saw Rigmor’s scars.”
“Cerys would help Rigmor more than me concerning many matters. As a team, we could protect and advise her well.”
“For that to happen, you would need to respect Cerys more than what I have witnessed.”
“Cerys has made that clear since you first saw us.”
“Rigmor and I know there may be long periods when I am away performing my duty as Champion of The Divines. If Rigmor accepts the position of Countess, I would be trusting the welfare of Rigmor to others in that cesspool 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 not out of concern for her wellbeing but for potential gain. Remember that, and 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 am satisfied you did not delay telling me Rigmor’s location. 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!”
We made our way once more to the other room.
Malesam and Cerys stared at Rigmor, and I knew what they saw. Rigmor was a heroic warrior of old as if magically transported from a classic painting. She was regal, commanding and beautiful. With that armour and a sword in her hand, Rigmor could command the world, not just the geriatrics waiting at Yngol’s camp.
I was beginning to suspect that Rigmor’s potential to lead and earn loyalty was what attracted the gods.
- Rigmor: Well, how does it look?
- Malesam: Remarkable! It is a fine example of antique armour forged by the famous Khajiiti armourer, ZZ’Jay.
- Wulf: Rigmor, you look magnificent!
- Rigmor: Did Morgan wear it in battle?
- Malesam: Yes, when she accompanied Emperor Titus Mede I on a campaign.
- Rigmor: I guess I could get used to it. I love it.
- Cerys: It didn’t take much adjusting to make it fit 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. After all, The College lost track of those it was sworn to protect.
- Rigmor: Perhaps they mistakenly thought Lady Azura had it under control? We know how well she has looked after me.
- Wulf: Deciding which has done a shittier job would be impossible.
- Rigmor: Cerys, would 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 asked, “Do others know you and Rigmor are in love?”
“Many mortals and gods, including Lady Boethia, know. Your mistress tried to torment me about my love for Rigmor. Lady Mara says our souls are entwined, and one will seek the other in every kalpa.”
“What problems are left over from the concoction?”
“It was trauma and fear combined with the concoction that caused issues. Rigmor lost all her memories but has regained most of them. She will not carry a weapon, a symptom of the remaining issues. We are working through them but don’t expect Rigmor to fight against The New Order on the battlefield. She doesn’t want to and shouldn’t have to.”
“Will Rigmor accept Mede’s offer?”
“I don’t know. We spoke to Jarl Elisif, and Rigmor will speak to Baa’Ren-Dar and her mother about it before deciding. 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. As Trinimac, he was a champion of Auri-El and deserved a better fate. Lady Boethia is not kind to those she opposes.”
Malesam went quiet and closed his eyes. I got the impression he has done a lot of soul searching in the last hour.
It took less time to get the armour off than to don it. Rigmor soon said, “I am ready to go, Dragonbum!”
Malesam opened his eyes, and I remarked, “Cerys will have many difficult questions. Rigmor was only fourteen when they tried to destroy her spirit and failed! It is terrible to realise there are people capable of such cruelty.”
As we approached the room, Rigmor and Cerys chatted like old friends. They turned to us when we entered.
- Wulf: Thank you for assisting Rigmor, Cerys
- Cerys: Continue to protect her, Master Welkynd!
- Rigmor: Don’t worry, Cerys, he always does.
- Wulf: I will place the armour and sword in my Journal Case, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Watch this, Cerys. It is so cool!
Cerys and Malesam watched in bewilderment as I opened my Journal Case, and its entrance expanded to fit each item I placed inside.
- Rigmor: Wulf told me it is four-dimensional. That means it is bigger inside than outside.
- Wulf: It was a gift from The Psijic Order.
- Rigmor: Where to now?
- Wulf: Aurane. I want to speak to my friends about the invasion. Also, the children haven’t seen me for days.
- Cerys: Where is Aurane?
- Rigmor: It is an Ayleid palace and town. I don’t know where it is, and teleportation is the only way to reach it. It is pretty and peaceful and full of laughter.
- Cerys: Is it a reclaimed ruin?
- Wulf: No, until I moved there five months ago, it had never been lived in and is as it was when built millennia ago. I have given Celestine an Aylied house where she lives with her partner, Vayu.
- Cerys: Celestine is a lovely person.
- Wulf: She is one of my closest friends and the best Restoration Mage I have met. Vayu is the Grandmaster of The Dragonguard and our shaman.
- Cerys: Okay, Dragonbum, I am starving, so let’s get going.
- Wulf: In that case, I will teleport us into Aurane’s inn.
As soon as we appeared in the inn, Rigmor headed for the bar.
As she chatted with some people from a bar stool, I did a tour of the inn and chatted with others.
About an hour after arriving, Rigmor and I were left alone to enjoy a meal.
We talked about the various places we had visited, and, as per usual, Rigmor had noticed things I had missed and found beauty within them.
We avoided any discussion of The Sons of Talos, Mede’s offer or The New Order.
Close to 11 PM, we walked silently, hand in hand, to the palace.
As soon as we entered my bedroom, clothes and armour were quickly discarded. We were both eager for more practice and maybe some sleep.