Hi there, it's Destana again. I feel like the spotlight will be mine for a little while. We've been fighting an ongoing war with the Thalmor, who seek to conquer Skyrim. Cyrodiil is in turmoil, and a sizeable portion of the Imperial Legion are taking refuge here. But they're also helping us in the war. General Sialius is here, helping direct the fight. So far we lost Riften, Falkreath, Morthal, Markarth and Helgen (and all associated forts). Things were looking pretty bad and I was captured for a while.
But now I'm back, and we won the Battle at Whiterun!
I headed over to Kynesgrove on my way back to Windhelm to bother the Stormcloaks refusing to fight because the Imperials are involved (from Captain Vinicia Matius). Of course, Serana came with me (because she's pretty worried about me now). I approached a man chopping wood, wearing Stormcloak armor with the pelt in the back.
"Hail friend! What brings you here? Have you come to join our cause?"
"What is your cause?" I asked.
"Loyalty. We're the only true Stormcloaks left in Skyrim. The rest have welcomed those Imperial milk drinkers back into our lands. We don't need their help to fight these elves. So what do you say friend, are you with me?"
"No," I replied, "I'm here to convince you to stop this."
He replied, "After everything you did for the cause, you're going to go crawling back to those Imperial dogs?"
"We're barely winning even with the Imperials!"
"Hah! You really have gone soft. What kind of help could those pathetic saps possibly offer us true sons and daughters of Skyrim? They told me you were some sort of fearless warrior, yet here you are doing the bidding of those cowards. If you ask me, it's them we should be fighting."
I looked down at my skin, being a Redguard.
"Don't be stupid," I said.
"Watch your mouth. Say we do help them, what happens if we win? There'll be Imperial soldiers all over Skyrim, it'll be the civil war all over again. Balfhe letting them in is a crime in itself."
"We trust them. Besides, the Empire itself has already fallen apart. These are the remnants of the old Empire. The new one is far more untrustworthy. They're more likely to ask for our aid than try and conquer us," I replied.
"Well, that's touching. But the feeling isn't mutual. What's the advantage to be had here?"
"We just don't have the numbers, man," I replied, "Hey! If they fight, less of us need to die."
"You... have a point there. I suppose they need to be taught by true warriors as well," he said.
I rolled my eyes.
"Fine. I'll go to Windhelm. But if they betray us, it'll be on your head," he continued.
We also went back to Windhelm and contacted Balfhe.
"You up for another job?" He asked.
"Eh, sure," I said.
"Might not want to overdo it," Serana said.
"Hey, Partysnax said I should push through to get better," I said, "He's an ancient immortal dragon. Probably knows a thing or two."
Serana shook her head, "Fine. What's the job Balfhe?"
"We want you to rescue some prisoners for us. You know the reputation the Thalmor have for dealing with their prisoners. As if we don't have enough problems, we don't want the man losing morale. Lead the attack. I'll send some men to the Fort to support you. Fort Sungard."
I nodded, then I gathered Fenrir and Runa. Then I approached Agrippina. She seemed more nervous than last time.
"Uh... hi. You're Fenrir's mother right? Now I know you're the Dragonqueen... I mean Dragonborn," she said.
"Hey, I see you cut your hair. It looks cute," I played with one of my flyaways, "I'm overdue."
"Go easy on her, Des," Serana smirked.
"I am! Hey, do you wanna come with us on a rescue mission?" I asked.
Agrippina smiled nervously, "Sure."
Then I turned to Legate Calleius, standing on the other side of the hall, "Want to come with?"
"Of course, ma'am!" He said back.
Fenrir sidled up to me, whispering, "What, are you just messing with the people interested in us now?"
Runa raised an eyebrow, looking at Calleius, and he gave her an innocent shrug and a smile.
"Maybe I'm testing their resolve. You should trust your mother," I said.
"What about Damien? Does he a get a free pass?" Fenrir folded his arms.
"Damien's not here," I replied, "C'mon. It's a simple rescue mission. C'mon Serana! Triple date... of murder!"
Serana couldn't help but chuckle.
"C'mon everybody! We're saving people!" I teleported us to Rorikstead (Damien taught me all the minor towns too, I just don't get to use the that much).
We approached a bunch of men crouching by a rock just a stone's throw from the fort and I knew it must be them. Dang Stormcloaks never were good at stealth.
"Hey Astien," I replied.
"The way I see it, we have two options. We can bust in there, or you can sneak in and release the prisoners and we attack as the prison break is happening."
I cracked my knuckles, "Been a while since I got a good stealth mission in."
Serana looked at me with a bit of worry in her eyes.
"With the battle and the travel, nightfall is only in an hour or so. I'm going to wait for the cover of darkness," I said.
I waited. In the meantime, we saw something unusual: a centaur. I must admit I'd never seen one before. He was wearing Imperial Legion armor. Then, a dragon attacked and we fought him a safe distance away from the fort. Just a few renegades from Paarthurnax's rule, I guess.
Ok. Night time. I snuck around the corner and jumped onto a ruined part of the wall. I hopped up and climbed to the highest point, using the vantage to get a few good shots. I watched the patrols for a minute, then I started picking them off with arrows one-by-one. The soldiers jumped the gun and rushed in after I'd only gotten a few, but we didn't lose anyone. We made our way inside without alerting the fort in general and we kept our distance, raining arrows on every guard we saw.
"You're pretty good with magic, Agrippina," I nodded to her as she picked off a guard by lodging a huge frost shard in his chest.
She smiled with my approval.
"Seems like we lost Calleius," I said.
"He went to the dungeon to free the prisoners," Runa replied.
"Mission focused, I like that," I said.
We scoured the last of the fort and found no more Thalmor, then found the prisoners rushing past in their armor with Legate Calleius in tow. As a group we went out and told Astien it was all clear.
"Good work. You should report back to Windhelm," he slapped me on the back, "We'll secure the fort and refortify. This baby's ours now."
I teleported us back to Windhelm again, "Good first foray."
It was morning and I was sure people were tired, so I let them go.
Unfortunately, when we stepped in to inform Balfhe, he said, "Good work, but no time for congratulations. We're striking while the iron is hot. Damien's ready and he's about to send a force from Solitude for a surprise attack on Markarth. Then he's teleporting here and sending another force from here."
"I been waiting for this!" Madanach stood up from the table, "The Forsworn reinforcements are camped south of Markarth. Just need to add some Stormcloaks to them."
"Hell yeah! Time to get our city back," Borkul said.
"Excellent," I said, "Runa, . Go with the group."
Serana raised an eyebrow, "What are you going to do?"
"Well, you're not going to like this. But I have an idea," I replied.
"What kind of idea?" Serana asked.
"Well, I still have the ability to teleport into the city. And Invisibilty."
"Maybe... I should come with you?" Serana asked.
"I'm a lot stealthier than you are," I said.
"Can you..." Serana had this slightly angry look on her face, "Look, I understand and agree with your logic. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it!"
I grabbed Serana and kissed her. Then I teleported to Markarth by myself.
"What a godsdamned badass," Balfhe said.
"Don't encourage her!" Serana shouted.
I materialized on the upper ring of the city, immediately noticing citizens fighting against the Thalmor guards. I kept to the shadows and made my way to the front gates, hopping down as I went.
I could not tell you why, but there was a naked woman leading the charge in the city. I threw on Invis and walked out the front gates. I refreshed Invis and snuck up to the switches, throwing them both. I looked down the murder holes and it was clear we were sweeping into the stables area like a force of nature. We were using the same blitzkrieg tactics they'd been using with the added sauce of my stealth. I backstabbed an archer, then I slit another one's throat on the northern balcony.
I made my way to the southern balcony, finding three ranged attackers.
"FUS - RO - DAH!" I sent them all flying to the ground. For a minute I sniped with the Nerevarine's Bow, then when they started to notice me, I pelted them with Elemental Blasts to mess up their ranks.
It was about then that the Thalmor decided I was a HUGE threat and started sending all the forces they could up to the balconies, but it was too late for them. I gave them an Unrelenting Force to stagger them down the ramp just as Fenrir and Runa had the path between the balconies (the main gate) with scores of Imperials, Stormcloaks and Forsworn at their back and they were ripping through the remaining Thalmor. I added to the assault peppering them with arrows.
After the fight we met up with Borkul, Madanach and Serana and had a feast with the army in Understone Keep. There was no rain today, so somebody was going to have to wipe up all this blood. We teleported back to Windhelm and when I found Damien, I slapped him on the back, "That worked beautifully!"
He chuckled, "Excellent!"
"Damien, what the hell is on your head?" I asked.
"What?" He felt his forehead. Then he said, "Ah, it appears I've developed horns now. Perfect."
I blinked, "Maybe we should talk about these changes you're going through. Is this natural? I don't really have a lot of experience with half-daedra."
"I dunno," Damien shrugged, "Dad said the eyes weren't a big deal."
"So we have the Reach?" Balfhe interrupted.
"We blew them out," Fenrir said.
"Gave them a taste of their own medicine!" Runa said.
I turned to Serana, "So, do I have your approval to handle myself again?"
"Eh... maybe," she grabbed me, "Just be careful."
General Sialius folded his arms, "If you're done, I have something to discuss with you lot."
We walked into the map room, and Ulfric was waiting there as well.
"What you got for us?" I asked.
"Let me ask you a question. Do you know what happened to Hammerfell at the end of the Great War?"
"They left the Empire. They got the Dominion to stalemate," I replied.
"That's right," Sialius said, "They believed the Empire abandoned them when we recalled all of our legions to the Imperial City for the Battle of the Red Ring. They refused to accept the terms of the White-Gold Concordant. You can hardly blame them. Since then, the Reguards have been very tight on their exports to the Empire. They're very reluctant to engage in political matters, something about them not being comfortable negotiating with 'Thalmor Puppets.' A bit dramatic if you ask me. Though they're not totally wrong. Especially about the Bandit King who refuses to even render aid. Makes my blood boil."
"So what's the plan?" I folded my arms.
He continued, "Anyway. I've managed to secure a meeting with some diplomats from Hammerfell. Very prominent figures in Redguard leadership. We're going to meet with them and discuss what we can do about this Dominion threat, together. We're going to meet in Understone Keep, since they refuse to travel any further in Thalmor-occupied, war-torn lands. Could you escort them? The threat of a Dominion ambush is too great."
"Sounds like a good plan. I'll go along with it," I said, "Though they might think we're pandering, since I myself am a Redguard."
"Yes, but everyone knows you. Sending one of Skyrim's greatest warriors to protect and escort them, that can't hurt. And I assumed you'd want to be at the talks."
"Of course. You coming, Ulfric?" I asked.
"You're more the foreign policy type," he replied, "But yes, I'll see you there."
I grabbed Fenrir and Runa (more to calm Serana, but also to give me some backup). I teleported us to a Forsworn site near the border, and ported right on top of a camp of red orc/ogre looking creatures. They attacked us and we fought them off. More otherworldly creatures? They'd certainly taken a liking to dwemer gear. I later learned they were called Bolguns.
Just over the next ridge we saw a group of Redguards fighting Dawnguard - for some reason. Have they gone completely mad? While we were running over a group of Thalmor ambushed them. But they had half a dozen Alik'r and what looked like a heavily armored bodyguard. We made short work of them.
"You there! Do you lead this group? Thanks for your help. Could you point us in the direction of the city of Markarth? I fear we've gotten quite lost," one of the diplomats said.
"Actually, we've come to escort you to the city," I replied.
"You have? Who are you? Who sent you?"
"General Destana Stormblade. These are Fenrir and Runa. I was sent by General Sialius," I said, going with that title among many for today.
"Ah, I've heard about you. Been giving the Dominion quite a bit of trouble. Though I didn't realize you were a Redguard. I imagined a blond-haired Nord man."
Huh, wonder if this is how the Nerevarine feels?
"So Sialius sent the best to escort us. I'm flattered. I have the honor to be Kalort and my companion here is Jartod. Behind us is General Jura. We brought him because we're diplomats, not warriors. I trust you know the way to Markarth?"
"Of course. It's just north of here."
"See?" Kalort said to Jartod, "Not southeast. If we listened to your directions, we'd be halfway to Elswyer by now."
Jartod grumbled, then he said, "So tell me, why did Sialius send you? He has plenty of men. Why waste the best walking us to Markarth?"
"The General thought it would be a kind gesture. Can't be too careful here these days," Fenrir spoke up.
"Maybe he thinks flattery will win us over in these talks. I'm afraid we're not that easy," Kalort said.
The kids walked ahead with the group, and as their general walked over the hill I narrowed my eyes at him.
He stopped and returned the same stare at me. I looked up him up and down - he was as tall as Fenrir, broad and strong. He was old with white dredlocks and beard clad in a mix of plate and dragonbone. His eyes were gray, nearly white, with one of them long since slashed through. He had an Imperial Dragon Tower shield on his back, carrying several weapons to supplement it's use, with a bow, a greatsword, a greataxe and a onehanded sword.
"What you looking at?" He asked.
"Well, first of all not so much as a hello. But, you seem very familiar."
"I'm not much for talks such as these. I'm here to make sure what you're asking is feasible. Not much else," he replied.
We started to walk side-by-side at the rear guard of the group. The Alik'r and my kids were doing all the heavy lifting of mowing down creatures at the front.
"Not much call for platemail in the desert of Hammerfell," I said.
"Not much call for bare-chestedness in the bracing cold of Skyrim," he said back. I raised an eyebrow. This guy was a smartass, just like me.
"General Jura you said your name was?" I asked, "Quite an arsenal you have there."
"Yeah, well. When you've been fighting wars as long as I have you pick up quite a few skills. Magic. Bows. Two-handers, one-handers. Doesn't matter. I enjoy a challenge. I like new experiences."
I frowned, nodding in agreement, "I understand the sentiment."
We didn't say anything else on the trip, him being a man of few words without being poked for information.
When we got to Markarth I went and got Jarl Madanach while the others assembled in the map room.
"I figured I'd wear something more formal to this meeting," he said.
"That is a great idea," I said back.
I changed into a casual wine-colored dress and my silver crown, to look more official, then I walked in last.
"My, my," General Sialius said, "You clean up well. I don't think I've ever seen you without being covered in a thick layer of mud and gore."
"S'hup," I said, "That was my field gear. I have to look the part sometimes."
"Yeah, yeah. Anyway, let's begin. Please, sit," Madanach said.
Jartod started, "We don't want to remain here any longer than we need to."
"Were you attacked?" Sialius asked.
"Indeed," Kalort said, "I assume you seek Hammerfell's aid with this war of yours?"
"War of ours? If I may say so I believe this war encompasses us all," General Sialius said.
"Really?" I don't see any Dominion soldiers in Hammerfell," Jartod said.
"Right, but we're here now. What do you propose?" Kalort asked.
"I was thinking we could discuss terms mutually. There's no reason we both can't come away from this meeting happy," Sialius said.
"Make your proposal," General Jura folded his arms.
"What kind of aid would you be willing to give?" Sialius asked.
"I'm all ears," Madanach said.
"Depends on what we receive in return. This is your war. Us helping would only strain our relationship with the Dominion," Kalort said, "Word has it the Emperor has gone into hiding and the Elder Council are either all missing, dead or captured."
"The Legion's Army is scattered and broken," Kalort continued, "Simple first term. When the war is over, so long as the Empire survives, it will begin trading openly with Hammerfell again. Your borders will be open to Hammerfell citizens. But we remain not a part of the empire. We don't pay taxes to you, we don't supply men to you, we don't answer to you or the Emperor."
"What do you think?" Sialius turned to me.
"Seems reasonable," I said, "I mean, I would vote for the same deal between Skyrim and the Empire."
"Ugh, you're breaking my balls," Sialius said to me, then he turned back to them, "Alright. I accept."
"Excellent," Kalort said.
"Anything else?" Sialius asked.
"Well," Jartod said, "If you want aid, the money has to come from somewhere."
"You want gold?" I asked.
"After all this business with the war is over of course. It only seems fair to me," Jartod replied.
"How much?" Sialius asked.
"I was thinking about 800,000 gold," Jartod replied.
"800,000? Have you lost your damn mind? Do you plan on giving each of your men gold plated armor or something?" Sialius asked.
"Think of it as a commission," Jartod said.
"How about half that?" I asked.
Sialius shook his head slowly, but seemed to think it was much better than 800K, "Alright. We are prepared to pay you 400,000."
"I suppose that will suffice," Jartod replied.
Kalort said, "So what would you have of us specifically?"
"Whatever aid you can supply. The more, the better," Sialius replied, "Soldiers, supplies. But I had something much more drastic in mind. You could declare war on the Aldmeri Dominion."
"Wha- have you gone totally insane Sialius? You would have us declare war on them?" Jartod asked angrily.
Kalort added, "That is utter madness."
Sialius retorted, "Think about it. The Dominion are taking this war one province at a time. It may be that they can't take two at once."
Kalort looked at me, "You should speak some sense into your General. We signed a peace treaty with the Dominion. The Second Treaty of Stros M'Kai works both ways. How do you think the Dominion would respond to us breaking it?"
"Well, they signed the White-Gold Concorat, which is a nonaggression pact. They don't seem to give a damn about it these days," I replied.
"I suppose you're right. Conquering Skyrim breaks that agreement. They do whatever they want, regardless of the treaty," Kalort said.
"Do you honestly think you're safe from the Dominion?" Sialius asked.
"In the last war you defended one border. But if they win here, they'll move on to High Rock," I said, "Then you'll have all your borders exposed."
Jartod turned to Kalort, "I think they're right."
Kalort said, "We're prepared to declare war on the Dominion. Let us discuss the logistics of supplies and men."
They both turned to Jura as he put his gauntleted hands on their shoulders and looked at us. He said, "We will aid you."
"Very well. The Empire will open its borders to trade and citizens of Hammerfell. And we'll pay 400,000 Septims after the war is done," General Sialius said.
As the diplomats and their men filed out, Sialius said to me, "With Hammerfell fighting them at the same time the Dominion's forces will be more strained."
I raised an eyebrow, "So who's actually footing the bill here? Pretty sure the new Emperor isn't just going to throw money at saving Skyrim. Especially since we're independent now."
"One problem at a time," Sialius smiled, "Maybe if we just tell him it's the cost of free trade."
"Maybe if you ask me, I can give the Empire a loan from my personal coffers," I chuckled.
At the base of the stairs, General Jura was waiting for me and I let the others pass as he cast his withering glance at me.
"What you looking at?" I asked.
"So you're a Queen, huh?"
"Yep," I replied.
"I think you're lying to us," he said flatly.
"What makes you say that?" I asked.
"You may have fooled the diplomats, but I'm not so easy. I know there's a 'new' Empire. I get around. They're so wrapped up in their own affairs I bet they don't give a shit about what's going on in Skyrim," he folded his arms, "All the same, I'm willing to not tell those pencil-pushers what's really going on. I'm willing to help you fight your war."
"Why's that?" I asked.
"Call it intuition. I don't know much about you, but you and yours have a certain warrior's spirit about you. I've heard legends about how nords are the strongest, toughest sumbitches around. Mostly what I see is - what's the term up here? 'Milk drinkers?' I can respect a warrior queen, though. Also, seems like something really changed their minds up here about how strong Redguards, Dunmer, and others can be. It's not just Skyrim belongs to the Nords anymore. Had to have been a Redguard Queen that did it. I do respect a strong-willed woman. Or anyone that fights on their own terms. Also, I don't particularly like the Thalmor. I fought in the Great War until Hammerfell's stalemate. Anyway, what I'm saying is, I'll be back. With an army," he turned, walking out, "Just don't fight all the best battles before I get back."
Another fun episode. General Jura is a Proteus addition of my own design. Why would the Redguards not bring a military leader with them if they're going to talk about sending soldiers? Also, what you may be thinking maybe true. Next time!
Edited by EnragedBard