Hey, still Destana. Last time, we drove the Thalmor back and I defeated their leader (Viranir). Unfortunately, she escaped via strange ghost powers. Then we partied for a week while rebuilding, rendering aid and fixing most of the Jarl positions. Falkreath is still vacant (temporarily General Jura of Hammerfell). Ulfric called the moot for me, including:
High King Ulfric Stormcloak (and Jarl of Windhelm)
Queen-General Destana Stormblade (That's me!)
Jarl Skald of Dawnstar
General Jura of Hammerfell, Representing Falkreath
Jarl Madanach of Markarth
Jarl Sorli of Morthal
Jarl Maven Black-Briar of Riften
Jarl Elisif of Solitude
Jarl Baalgruf of Whiterun; with Vidnar (who also represented the Companions)
Jarl Korir of Winterhold
Serana of Volkihar
High Council Members Nazir, Dagri’Lon and Thongvar Silver-Blood.
Archmage Tolfdir of the College
Listener Runa of the Dark Brotherhood
Brynjolf of the Thieves' Guild
Arngeir of the Graybeards
Grandmaster Delphine of the Blades
General Sialius for the Mede Empire in Exile and the Defense of Skyrim
Commander Balfhe for the Defense of Skyrim
Commander Hrolf Witch-Slayer for the Defense of Skyrim
Commander Fenrir Stormcloak for the Defense of Skyrim
Damien Guivenne for the Defense of Skyrim. He said, "A title isn't necessary, I just want to be there."
Most of the Housecarls and Stewards didn't include themselves in the meeting this time, electing to stand off in the distance rather than crowd the discussion, except Maul, who stood just behind the stalls for part of the meeting. He wanted to hear and was not very stealthy about it.
We had a challenge and fight over the Markarth Jarldom. Igmund is in prison for trying to dishonorably assassinate Madanach with poison, awaiting execution. And the last thing I said...
"The Dominion is on the run. But they still hold Alinor, Valenwood, Elswyer and some of Black Marsh (nobody has ever conquered the inner swamps, because, why would you want to?) Cyrodiil is in turmoil. We now have the start of an alliance in Hammerfell, and we could pursue an alliance with High Rock and Cyrodiil."
"So what are you proposing?" Ulfric asked.
"We're going to invade the Dominion," I replied.
Everyone looked at me for a moment. They'd looked at me like this before - like I'd grown a second head.
"Before you get your shots in with 'you're crazy,' 'have you lost your mind?' and 'we don't have the resources.' Let me tell you what I'm thinking. The Khajiit and Argonians were duped into working for the Dominion. I know in my heart the Dominion made the moons disappear, via magic, or whatever, which got them Elswyer. And I'll bet they're the ones who cut the Argonians off from the Hist. A lot of them are still vehemently against working with the Thalmor. The Wood Elves, I'm not so sure."
I started pacing now, "What I'm proposing is not a war of conquest. It's a war of liberation. This is a dream I've had since I was small. Every person has the right to freedom. Every nation has the right to self-determination. This cycle of one nation destroys another or conquers another can end if we let it. That is, with the exception of Alinor. They need to have the guidance of the other nations of Tamriel for a while before they can be set off on their own again."
"This dream... has merit," Baalgruf replied. I could tell I had their attention, at the very least.
I continued, "This war will take several moves. The first place we need to hit is Valenwood. If we can conquer them (for now), or get them on our side, we convince the Khajiit they're not beholden to the Dominion (and I think I have a couple friends who can help with that), we practically have Alinor. Before that, we need Cyrodiil in our court. Everyone knows Cyrodiil is in turmoil. A Bandit King sits on the throne, which is fine. He earned it. If he is effective, then so be it. But from what I've heard, the houses are infighting and can't put up a fight against the Thalmor if they wanted to, which is why they let the Dominion roll over them to get to us."
General Sialius grumbled when I said that, but didn't add anything.
"What I propose is we send a delegation to Cyrodiil and help them sort out their problems. Show them both that we mean business, that we're strong and not a target for reconquest, and that we want to be their allies. At the very least against the Thalmor, but also going forward. If we can do that, High Rock is still under Cyrodiil, technically."
"So what about Alinor?" General Sialius asked. He looked like he was getting into the idea, but still judging how well I'd thought this through.
"Well, I have spoken to shipwrights in Solitude and Dawnstar, and I'm planning on speaking with those in Haafstad. We're going to build ships. With Cyrodiil's, Hammerfell's and Elswyer's Navy we will launch an amphibious assault."
"I hate to be the voice of reason here," Maven said, "But I assume that's why you made me a Jarl. Who's going to pay for all this?"
"That is a good question," I said, "I assumed the government of Skyrim would pay for a lot of it..."
There were a lot of groans at that.
"..But also, I'm going to be putting forth several hundred thousand septims for the cause," I said.
"And all this is going on while Hammerfell is at open war with the Dominion," General Jura said, "I just got communication from the homeland. Hammerfell is going to do everything we agreed to, so you will have our help in this effort if you pursue it."
They stood there for a minute, side conversations going on.
Balgruuf was the one to speak first, "Destana. Dragonborn. Old friend. We think your idea has merit."
"The logistics need to be worked out," Thongvar elbowed Maven.
"Exactly. Also, our boys have seen the horrors of war firsthand. We're not sure how many of them will want to jump face-first into another war. Especially if we don't get any spoils out of all this," Balgruuf explained.
"Who said we weren't going to take spoils?" I smirked, "We're not going to rob them blind, but I do plan on taking some things. I was a professional thief after all."
They all chuckled.
"But seriously though," I said, "I think if we remind them of who visited the pain and suffering on them they'll be more keen to retaliate. Remind them of their dead. Off the top of my head, Vex, Ralya, Laila, Dengeir, Siddgeir and a lot of Stormcloaks, Imperial troops and Forsworn, many of whom I didn't learn their names. Also in that vein, I think we should set up a memorial. In Riften, the first place they conquered."
"Dammit, we should!" Maul said. Vex was one of his good friends. Then he realized he didn't really have a voice in this discussion and backed away, realizing he was the only housecarl standing there.
Maven nodded, "I think my housecarl hiding back there shows Skyrim's spirit. A lot of people are going to react emotionally to their dead friends. We can use that to motivate them to the Queen's war."
Damn Maven, how did you find a way to make something I believe in sound icy cold?
Generally the gains/profit minded in the group seemed to bend to my war idea when she put it like that, keeping in mind I mentioned spoils.
"Similar to my thoughts," I said, then I whispered to her, "I'm glad you're on my side."
Maven smirked, whispering back, "After all these years, I realized you have the same goal-oriented mindset that I do. You just go about it differently, and you have different strengths. You making me a Jarl was one of the smartest decisions you ever made."
I chuckled nervously.
"So a vote then?" I said, "I motion that Skyrim declares open war on the Aldmeri Dominion, details of the strategy to be revisited at a later date."
"Aye," Madanach said, "So long as the Forsworn get to participate in the war."
"Of course," I said.
"Aye," said Skald, Maven, Korir and Balgruuf.
"Nay," Sorli the Builder said, "I've seen enough war in my time, though I think my vote will not overturn the decision."
"I abstain, if I even get a vote," Jura said, thinking it proper.
"After some thought, I think... Aye," Elisif said. The others were a little taken aback by that.
"What? The war didn't make its way to Solitude, but I saw some of the tortures inflicted on my men by those Thalmor. I think they need to sow the seeds of their wrongdoing."
I think I realized in that moment she had become friends with Hrolf. Don't ask me how - maybe that they were standing together and their body language. Maybe he'd put some ideas into her head.
"You do realize building ships and planning a campaign is going to take a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of money," Balgruuf said.
"Yeah, I think we should be ready to go in a few months," I said, "We're going to make sure we have Cyrodiil on lock at the same time we're planning the Amphib."
"Well then, aye," Balgruuf said, "Vignar should help with the planning. You know he's bored out of his mind in Jorrvaskr."
Vignar chuckled, "Well, I'm in."
"Speaking of which, I want to talk to you after this," I said, "And I think we should move our war planning here, out of the public eye. Sialius, Hrolf, Balfhe, Vidnar, Fenrir. And all the minor commanders who weren't invited for fear of this becoming too public."
"Sounds good," General Sialius said.
"Okay, last last thing to discuss. Who are we going to send to Cyrodiil, who will we send to Elswyer to contact my friends?"
There was a minute of discussion about sending an envoy, but nobody came to clear conclusion again.
"Maybe I should go," Sialius said, "They do know me there."
"Well, you're kind-of high profile. You have a history with the old Empire, and you did just help us fight a war. You swore your allegiance to Skyrim. They might see it as an act of aggression. We want to offer them an olive branch."
"I can go," Runa said, much to my surprise.
I turned to her.
"I lived in Cyrodiil for five years. I have contacts there. Though I think things have changed some in the past couple months, a whole level of society just being gone, I bet the mid-level people are mostly still the same."
"That's pretty normal during a regime change. You have to keep the people onboard who know how to carry on the day-to-day operations. Otherwise, your government will just crumble," Vidnar said.
"Alright. We'll write a letter to Emperor Ariel Sethius and you can use that as a springboard to speak with him, and the Elder Council, if it exists in any form," I said, "If you can, get him to meet with us."
"I can reach out to some of my contacts I know via trade," Thongvar said, "Might be a help to you."
"Excuse me," General Jura said, "I'd like to go with her."
"Why's that?" I asked.
"I'm empowered to act as a delegate for Hammerfell. I have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. Also, sending her alone may not be safest. I know she's strong, but we have no idea what we're going to see out there."
"Well, I'm fine with it. Not that I could stop you. You're not a citizen of Skyrim," I said, "This isn't an official decree or order, so I'm not going to put it to a vote. Runa, you have your orders."
She nodded, "I will see it done."
We handled a few nonessential tasks before the group, including revitalizing some old towns that'd gone into disrepair, then Vignar approached me.
"Hey, you've been a Companion for longer than most the members have been alive. I think you should be Harbinger," I said.
Vignar replied, "Well, I appreciate the honor, but I've been a part of the Circle for a matter of days."
"Yes, but you were only barred because of a dumb rule I did away with. You should've been a Circle member decades ago. I'll tell the rest of the Companions. You know I don't have time to advise the Companions with my other responsibilities. It'd be better if I was just a Circle member," I said.
I didn't expect this, but Vignar hugged me, "Godsdamnit. I've never realized how much I wanted this until I was given it. Bless you for this honor!"
After that, the moot dispersed to side conversations and Runa and Jura walked up to me.
"Wait, before you say anything. I can see your bare legs. What is that?"
"Tattoos. All over my body," Runa replied.
"I'm kidding. I have been thinking about getting a couple. I just drew on my skin to test them out. I figured nobody would notice because I wear full ebony platemail. But you can see the barest sliver of my legs," Runa chuckled.
"If you do it, don't get anything like this," I pointed to my tally marks, "Consult a professional,"
Then she said, "By your demeanor, it sounds like you have a general idea of where to start in Cyrodiil."
"Well, it was a lot more recent for me than it was you. To me, the end of 209 (when it happened) was only about seven months ago. In my reckoning, I killed Alduin and Harkon about four months ago. I mean, the dates are getting a little confusing for me."
"Stop beating around the bush, mom. Who are you talking about?" Runa asked.
"I'm talking about how we know the Countess of Bruma," I replied, "And we made her the countess. She kinda owes us. To her (and you, it'll have been about five to six years ago."
"Oh yeah. Rigmor," Runa said, "I actually visited her a couple years ago. In my reckoning. But I did a lot of travel around Tamriel before I came back here. Gods, this is getting confusing."
"Best not to worry about it too much. I went back to Windstad to check my mail after not having checked it for about a year in Skyrim time and I had about forty letters. Most of them were about holidays and people dying. One of them was a letter from Bruma, sent right before the barrier came down."
I opened it and handed it to her.
If you are reading this, then we have at last managed to find you. You must have heard of the recent events in Cyrodiil, and although some stability has returned, freedom has not. We must speak in private, and certain names have been omitted in this correspondence, but I am sure you know to whom I am referring. She did try to write you, but you could not be located and gave up on ever seeing you again. I don't think she ever got over losing you in her life. But she's fine and has moved on. You know her, never one to sit still, always looking for trouble if it doesn't find her first. And trouble has found her. Of course she just waves it off, talks tough and I do realize you have moved on with your life, but I have no choice but to contact you for help. We fear she is in grave danger. Please come visit us at our residence so we can talk further. Show the border guards the official pass.
Sigunn of Bruma.
"Heh, official pass. Last time Aventus and I crossed the border we had to go through the caves going under the gates," Runa smiled.
"Who is this Rigmor of Bruma?" Jura asked.
"Oh, well," I said, "To summarize, in 4E 209 Runa and I started adventuring together before she became the Listener (to start her training) and we found a wounded girl in southern Skyrim. Ends up she has noble blood, related to the count of Bruma. Also, she's some kind of 'chosen one,' like different from being a Dragonborn or the Listener, a chosen of Azura. Why it's not a Dunmer, not really sure. Anyway, we ended up fighting a splinter group of Thalmor, called the New Order who wanted to harness her power for ill purposes. Imagine an even more extreme group of Thalmor. And we fought against Malacath. At the end, she went to Bruma and we went back to our off-the-grid lifestyle we were enjoying at the time."
"So she knows Runa too?" Jura asked.
"Yeah. Kinda whiny, but I like her. I can empathize because she's had a hard life," Runa said, "If mom hadn't adopted me when she did my life probably wouldn't have been so great."
"Runa and Rigmor were both 15 then. Now she's 20. She was a few months older," I said, "Come to think of it, your birthday is at the end of the year, isn't it?"
"Yeah, well, that's what the orphanage decided. When I showed up on their doorstep without any identification or anything. Still don't know my actual birthday."
Damien and Fenrir approached.
Fenrir said, "I guess I could go to Elswyer. I've never been out of the country before, unless you count the ocean. Or other planes of existence."
"You know we don't!" Damien chuckled.
"Sure," I said.
"How do I get to Elswyer?" Fenrir asked.
"There's a caravan that leaves out of southern Bruma county, though I think they were going to start making stops in Falkreath now that the barrier is down. And the war is over," Runa replied.
"I can give you the details for your mission later. You're going to be looking for Sofia and Inigo and getting an update from them, then we'll plan our next moves," I said, "But you're a tough guy. I know you can handle yourself. And I'm going to send Shirley with you if she wants to go."
"Might want to reconsider your armor choices in Elswyer. Lot of swamps and deserts," Jura said.
"Yeah, I switched back to Light Armor for that part," Runa said.
"Well, maybe I could go barechested like mom does. Show off my manly pecs. I guess I need to figure out how you got so tough," Fenrir said.
"I'd rather not explain right now," I replied.
"What does that mean?" Fenrir asked.
"Maybe when you're older!" I said back.
"I think for now I'm going to delve deeper into Viranir's work," Damien said, "What're you gonna do, mom?"
"Direct shipbuilding. Rebuild Skyrim. Honestly, I think I need a vacation from adventuring. Maybe I'll do something from time to time, but I need a rest before the invasion."
"First time I think I've ever heard you say that," Runa said.
"Maybe I'm starting to get old. Maybe I should act like an actual General or Queen for a while, not just like the one in chess that kills the other side's King directly," I replied.
Serana sidled up to me, "That sounds amazing."
I took a deep breath, looking at them.
"Geez. A lot has happened this year," I said, "All you kids grew up. We fought the Thalmor and won. I fought Alduin and Harkon. I made peace with the Forsworn. And now 211... I mean 216, seems like we're going to be doing a lot of traveling."
From there, everyone dispersed. Of course, this time Damien and I offered to play stagecoach with whoever wanted our teleportation services, and most of them took us up on the offer.
Runa, Jura and Calleius met with Fenrir and Shirley in Falkreath a few days later, had a breakfast and said goodbye.
"Say hi to Agrippina for me," Fenrir said, dejectedly.
"She'll come back. Have faith, kid," Shirley said.
"But I'll be in Elswyer!" He said back, "Why does Damien always get to do his own thing?"
Runa put her hand on her brother's shoulder, "Don't worry. I'll give her a talking to while I'm there."
Runa, Jura and Calleius set out from Falkreath for the border later that day and Fenrir and Shirley caught the caravan traveling to Elswyer.
I'd better write this down. This is Damien. Second day of Morning Star, 4E 216. Looks to be about 11 pm. Tolfdir is away on a diplomatic mission to the Synod and he's graciously let me use the Archmage's quarters (the only place where I have both absolute privacy and room to work, as well as protections built into the chamber). I've been experimenting with Viranir's novice and apprentice-level chronomancy spells for about four days now. I've happened upon one of the most advanced spells. From her notes she tried this spell a dozen times but was never able to work out all the problems with it.
It seems like she was trying to manipulate the past remotely. Project herself into the past and alter the course of history in the Thalmor's favor. If she's worth her salt, I assume she has backup notes, or can reproduce these, given time. And of course, chronomancy gives her whatever time she needs. Assuming, she has the ability to use magic at all in the spirit form mom left her in. I think I worked out how this ritual works, but it's a doozy. If she can do this, she can change the course of history and destroy everything we've built here.
Unless I'm able to get there first. I think I can project myself to the place she was trying to go and foul up her plans.
I drew out sigils in a circle. I used five magicka batteries (again, a doozy). I began the cast. I was surrounded by energy similar to conjuration, but different. When I regained my senses, I was in a small dressing room I knew not where, naked. It seemed my body had been projected... but none of my equipment came with me. I quickly threw on the first set of clothes I could see.
When I stepped out, I was in a bare hall, an imperial in royal clothes and an altmer in blades armor standing opposite me, with a throne and a small table.
When I stepped up to them, the Imperial said, "Excuse the gloom, but none may know of this meeting."
I pretended to know where I was and what was going on.
"The nature of my trouble is darker still. Over a year ago, King Lysandus of Daggerfall died, honorably, on the field of battle."
'Lysandus?' I searched my memory of history. Lysandus died in 404, which makes this 3E 405. Over two hundred years in the past. Before the Dominion even really came to power. I think?
The man continued, "He was a loyal subject, ally, and friend. As you are. I did grieve for him. But his spirit does not rest. With the spectral army, he haunts his former kingdom crying for revenge. I do not know why a good and loyal man would be so cursed, perhaps you can find the answer. And close the marble jaws of Oblivion bringing peace to his soul. I as this as your Emperor and your friend."
Emperor? That means this is probably Uriel Septim VII.
"I have one lesser request. Several years ago, I wrote a letter to the Queen of Daggerfall. It never arrived. The letter was of a sentimental and ... personal nature. If you find and destroy that letter, I will be grateful. Now, my champion, rest well this night, for tomorrow you sail for the Kingdom of Daggerfall."
"Before I go, your majesty, I have a question of Chancellor Ocato," I said, assuming that was the Altmer standing off to the side.
"Go ahead," the Emperor said, "But he is not the High Chancellor, only the Imperial Battlemage and a ranking member of the Blades. Although... I see no reason why he could not have that honor in the future."
I sucked in a shrill breath. Geez, less than five minutes here and I'm influencing the past.
"Is it true you are the one who thwarted the old Imperial Battlemage, Jagar Tharn's evil plot?" I asked.
"Yes," Ocato said, "Using an alias (Talin) I was able to travel the Empire with anonymity and collect the pieces of the Staff of Chaos and return the Emperor to his rightful place."
"Now, don't be modest Ocato, they've been calling you the Eternal Champion since you pulled off that act of major heroism," the Emperor smiled.
Well, mom's going to have a fit over this.
I chuckled, "Thank you, your majesty."
As I slept and passed time riding on the ship to Daggerfall, I reasoned to myself that I would need to make the smallest changes possible in order to find Viranir and stop her from doing whatever she was planning. I slept a couple times on the boat, and the second day I was woken by a large crash. A storm of supernatural strength boiled over the Iliac Bay like a malefic creature. The boat immediately capsized and the berth I was sleeping in was flooded with water. I swam for minutes, until I came to a rock, finding a cave. There was an old campfire, that I reached out to light with a regular Flames spell, and a mudslide sealed in behind me.
I sighed, saying out loud, "This is not going well. At least the path in front of me seems lit and unobstructed."
"Ah, gods," a voice said, "Just the person I didn't want to see here."
"What the hell?" I asked, readying my hands to cast a spell. It was Viranir, in her ghost form.
"I see you deciphered my notes," she said.
"You have about two seconds before I blast you. Any last words?" I asked.
"How about, 'You're wasting your time," she said. Not like a villain saying I'm too feeble to harm her. She seemed utterly dejected.
"At least put up a fight," I said, "C'mon!"
"No, you're wasting your time. Go ahead. Try casting a spell," she said.
I blasted Flames at the wall, "There. Satisfied?"
"Now try casting another spell," Viranir folded her arms, "Go ahead, I'll wait."
I tried calling up something. Anything else. It's not like I'd forgotten them, but somehow, I just couldn't cast them. I was as weak as a kitten.
"What's going on here?"
"It appears we came to the same conclusions and made the same mistake. We're both powerless," Viranir replied, "Me so more than you. Guess what ghosts can do?"
"Well, I've fought ghosts before, with ghost swords."
"It's not that simple. It takes most ghosts years to master their ability to manifest and hurt mortals. I've been a ghost for a matter of days. My magic was all that I could perform. And now, I can't do anything."
"Why're you telling me all this?" I asked.
"I can admit when I've failed. You may be able to regain your power back in time. But in a matter of months. For me, it will most likely take decades. As I am far more powerful than you at full power and as a ghost it will be much harder. And I don't have my body."
I took a deep breath and let it out. A matter of months, if she took an accurate measure of my power, then I could deal with that.
Thinking about it, my experience of about a day of 3E 405... an Agent sent by Emperor Uriel Septim VII to Daggerfall...
"How does this work? Am I projected into the experiences of someone else?"
"Projected? You dense clod. You have been transported into the past. You are stuck here. This was sloppy and I blame myself for your misfortune. Of course, I don't particularly like you. What did you say your name was? Damon?"
"Damien," I said, "Are you saying I might be the Hero of Daggerfall?"
"Umm... well..." Viranir replied, "Gods, how are you so positive?"
"I learned it from my mother."
I had an Ebony Dagger given to me by the Emperor, and a Flames spell. I cracked my neck, ready to venture out into the caves. I would figure out how to get home later. If I did the time spell once, I could do it again. Game on.
I feel like my presets are having a seizure, because Runa has Destana's tattoos. I'll fix it, I just randomly noticed it while chopping the screenshots and I didn't want to take them again.
In other news, my side characters are going to the following places/mods, if it wasn't clear:
Runa and Jura - Rigmor of Cyrodiil
Fenrir and Shirley - Moonpath to Elswyer
Damien - Skygerfall (High Rock, 3E 405)
Destana will be doing things behind the scenes for a little while, possibly going on side quests in Skyrim while the ships are built (a few months). Possibly also Solstheim.
I have just written a massive check for this story, and this is going to take a while before I get to the Invasion of Valenwood and Alinor, which I also have mods for.
Let me know how you would like the flow of the stories to go. I was thinking I would do a few entries of each at a time, then switch.
Also, how many sharks did I jump from now including actual time travel?
Edited by EnragedBard