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Entry 60: Runa is NOT the Dragonborn


EnragedBard

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Hey, this is Runa.  I'm in the Imperial City and last time it became apparent that they want to make their Empire a thing again and not just Cyrodiil + High Rock.  Rigmor signed the Noble Decree and Ser Robere proposed to her to shield her from whatever the other Counts and the Emperor were planning.

 

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Robere wanted to speak with me in private again - off to the side of the audience chamber.

"I found out what's going on.  There's a ventilation shaft behind the wall that you can crawl into and listen to the others' conversations.  Last night Morag Sethius was discussing Bruma's fate with the Count of Chorrol.  The plan was to set Rigmor up for a fall after she signed the decree.  Mercenaries were to raid Chorrol and Cheydinhal.  They'd blame Bruma for not guarding the borders.  Then they'd call for a vote of no confidence in the House of Bruma and divide up the assets between them."

"That is dirty," I said, "I'd never want to be a part of this organization.  I guess that's why they stormed out."

"I'm going to tell my father about Morag's motives after the coronation."

"What do you know about her anyway?  She was with the bandits, right?" I asked.

"She's always been with Ariel, from the time they joined up with us.  On rare occasions, she would disappear, no one knew where, but she always came back looking more youthful and powerful.  Ariel Sethius and my father didn't even want to usurp the throne, but she convinced them," Robere explained, "She's got some sort of power over him.  But for the moment, it doesn't matter.  We're safe.  Thanks for talking to her."

"Your plan worked, good idea Ser Robere," I replied.

"Call my Bobby.  My friends do," he said, then the people started to disperse.

 

We went back to the room.

"You did pretty good out there.  How do you feel?"

"Sick to my stomach.  I want this to be over," Rigmor replied, "What did Bobby say?"

"Chorrol and Cheydinhal were plotting.  Maybe with the Emperor, maybe with Morag.  Blackwell thinks I came up with the plan for Bobby to propose," I chuckled, "I can be tricky, but politics aren't my thing."

"Yeah.  All this bullshit makes me want to go knocking on the Emperor's door and just tell him I have a royal bloodline.  Asshole.  You know, it's a kind of violence, saying and doing things that make you have to react.  Cause fear.  Make you sick with worry."

"You never know who to trust.  I don't like this game," I replied, "But hey, also.  I found out about some ventilation ducts behind that banner over there."

I pointed, "I'm going to go snooping around."

 

I walked over to the banner, "If a head other than mine pops out here, hit it with a heavy blunt object."

"You're hilarious," Rigmor replied.

I went into the ducts, which were actually quite spacious.

 

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I listened to the Chorrol's first.

Lady Chorrol said, "You're going to have to tread carefully.  Who knows?  With the Leyawiin boy marrying that common strumpet, the real nobility in this land could be squeezed out completely.  I don't trust any of them - least of all Morag Sethius."

The Count replied, "We'll have to wait and see.  The Count of Anvil's daughter is marrying our son.  With their ties to Skingrad, the West will be much more secure."

"I can't imagine why the Countess of Bruma would change her mind now?  All she had to do was buff Sethius off  I would have sent Blackwell packing with an arrow up his arse," the Lady said.

 

Just gossip.  I moved on to Leyawiin's room.

"Well, my boy," the Count said, "I would never thought you'd make such a proposal in front of everyone!"

"Is it an issue that I love Rigmor?" Robere asked.

"I had hoped you would marry into nobility.  We're not exactly from noble stock ourselves.  And you said yourself, she's hard work.  She had baggage, boy.  And she's not even a native of Cyrodiil."

Robere shook his head, "You're wrong, and I won't hear it.  She was born in Bruma to respected parents."

"You're just a young fool blinded by love," the Count chuckled, "She's a Nordling.  Just because a dog is born in a stable doesn't make it a horse.  She's no thoroughbred."

Really?  This guy wants to talk about breeding?

"You really want to count icicles on that mountain the rest of your life?" the Count asked, "Love doesn't create empires, boy."

"Lady Rigmor will be my wife.  End of story," Robere replied.  Go Bobby.  I was really starting to warm up to the guy.

 

Next, the Sethius'.  

"Blackwell, enter," Ariel said, "You'd better have something good for me.  Who is she?  What is she doing here?  How did she manage to surface out of thin air and be such a problem?"

Though Ariel Sethius seemed to be a bit agitated, Blackwell maintained his usual even tone, "Is My Lady present?  I'm sure she would like to hear."

"She will be back shortly.  Needed to visit her father.  Please continue," Ariel replied.

"Little is known from the time she met the Countess.  She's been seen in the company of the newly crowned King and Queen of Skyrim, and was seen several times in many provinces, but most reports are very scant with details.  It's as if someone is keeping her identity secret."

 

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Thanks, Brotherhood.

About that time someone appeared in the room, which I could only assume was Morag.

"After the events with the breakaway sect of Thalmor known as the New Order, Titus Mede II bestowed upon the girl the title of Countess of Bruma.  Then the two parted ways."

Ariel replied nervously, "I don't like it, Blackwell.  Do you think they're plotting with Leyawiin?"

Blackwell replied evenly, "The balance of power in Cyrodiil is constantly changing.  It is prudent to have friends such as Leyawiin.  Your position relies on fealty.  There is no evidence of subterfuge."

"Why would the Emperor bestow such a noble title on a wretched Nord girl?  Why would he do that?  What is so special about her?"

 

I wanted to rip these guys eyes out.  Being a noble is not special.  Those who are born with it just won the lottery.  If anything, those who had to work for it (including these bandits, Tiber Septim and Titus Mede) should be more revered.

 

"So special to have at her side the most dangerous killer in all Tamriel," Morag said.  Well, I felt flattered, but there were many more deadly people than I.

"It's all so clear now," Morag continued, "She's been hiding it for years.  Cursed by her blood, a product of a liaison that produced a royal bastard... In her veins the royal blood of the dynasty we usurped.  She is a pretender to the throne."

"We need real evidence before we could accuse her.  A confession, or a testimony," Blackwell said flatly.

"I'll make the girl confess, even if I have to do it myself.  As for her protector..." Morag turned towards me, looking right toward the concealed grate, "Aren't you supposed to be protecting your beloved Rigmor, Listener?"

 

Oh shit!

I ducked down, scrambling back to our rooms.  

When I got there...

 

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"Halt!  Hold your weapons!" The Imperial guard shouted at me.

"The Countess of Bruma is charged with treason, and will stand trial.  She will be taken to the Imperial City prison to await the arrival of her attorney."

"Treason is awfully bold for someone who's complied with everything the Emperor has asked.  I thought there was a justice system here in the Empire," I folded my arms, still standing on the bed.

"It's ok, Runa.  I'm kinda glad it ends this way.  I knew good things in life weren't going to last forever.  Tell Malesam to take care of things for me," the girl said dejectedly.

 

They escorted her out, Blackwell walking in.  

"You made a very serious misjudgment coming here.  I know it's no consolation, but no one knew about her ties to the Mede dynasty," Blackwell said.

"Do you have documents proving it?" I asked, "Or is this testimony from a beggar on the street?"

"I'm a stumped as you are.  Molag seemed to be making random unfounded accusations, but she admitted to it," Blackwell said, sitting in the chair across from the bed.

I slapped my forehead and said under my breath, "What a fool."

"Please, sit," Blackwell said, and I sat down on the bed.

"What do you want, anyway?" I asked.

"Actually, I came to ask you the same thing. Why would the Countess come down from the mountain and pledge her support?  She was protected under international law, however much the Emperor demanded it.  She was well within her rights to ignore his demands."

"Maybe the girl believed in Cyrodiil.  You guys make it really hard to want to ally with you.  Bunch of vipers.  I can see why the Empire is falling apart."

 

Blackwell seemed to ignore my angry words with emotionless analysis.  He thought for a moment, then said, "She thought we knew, didn't she?  Perhaps she thought our reasoning was a Mede signing the Noble Decree would be in-effect handing over the dynasty.  Was the Leyawiin boy's proposal your form of insurance?"

"There was no plan.  Ser Robere's proposal was seen as protection, but the two really are in love.  We were signing the decree because the nobles of Bruma seem to believe in Cyrodiil, as I said.  Nothing more," I replied.

 

"Obviously, you don't share their sentiments," Blackwell stated.

"I'm here to represent Skyrim, actually.  And General Jura represents Hammerfell.  Escorting Rigmor was a side job for a friend.  We wanted to pursue an alliance against the Thalmor."

 

"To be honest, I'm certain the Emperor would much rather regain control of the Empire before the loss of all her provinces, rather than form alliances," Blackwell said.

"Wanted being the operative word," I added.

"Yes, quite.  The trial will take place tomorrow.  I've already sent word to her court advisor.  He will arrive in the morning.  She'll be interrogated tonight.  If she tries to escape, she'll be given the harshest punishment possible and have her land and titles taken away.  If she is found guilty, she'll most likely be banished to our prison on Roscrea."

I raised an eyebrow, "Why are you telling me this?"

"I have my reasons," he stood, "My loyalty is to the seat of the Imperial Throne, not who occupies it. I will pursue the bidding of the Emperor, no matter my personal opinion on the letter of the law.  It's vitally important that we understand each other.  I'm also to escort you to the audience chamber.  Lady Sethius requires an audience."

 

I entered the audience chamber behind Blackwell.

"My Lady, Runa Fair-Shield," Blackwell announced me, "Protector of the Countess of Bruma."

 

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"Technically, I'm also a Princess, but okay," I muttered.

"Come forward."

I walked to the foot of the dais and Blackwell left us.

"I summoned you here because I wanted to see you up close, in the flesh.  To look upon your face," Morag said.

 

"Well, here I am," I replied.

"Don't tell me you're like the rest of them, play acting the good, high and mighty champion of the poor downtrodden.  Good does not always mean right, but you of all people should know that, if you could call yourself a person," Morag said.

"There are so many things wrong about what you just said.  I'm not a good person, I've never claimed to be.  I champion the downtrodden when I can, because I am downtrodden.  And how am I less of a person than you are?  I'm just a regular-ass human," I folded my arms.

 

"What are you, a half-breed, or a half-beast?" She asked.

"Half human.  The other half, also human," I said back.

"Are you not the Dragonborn?" She asked.

"No.  My mother is the Dragonborn.  Also, I'm pretty sure she'd disembowel you for calling her a half-beast.  Do you even know what Dragonborn means?  It means you were blessed by Akatosh.  Tiber Septim was a Breton, 100% human.  Well, some percentage human, some mer.  But he was mortal.  For someone as old and powerful as I've heard you are, your information is very wrong," 

 

"Nevertheless, you are a cold-blooded killer, who would take more notice of a pain in your little finger than the destruction of an entire nation.  You are one in the same, you and I," she started to pace around me now.

"Not really.  But not because I'm pretty sure you're a Vampire Lord.  I lump you in with the nobility here in just why I don't like you."

"Oh really?  How many men, women and children have you slaughtered without a second thought?"

"I don't kill children," I sneered.

"You killed my children, murderer!" Morag said angrily, "My brood.  Did they not have the right to live, to grow and multiply?  You took it upon yourself to execute them all."

"I remember I've helped kill two groups of vampires.  One when we were protecting Sorella, and one named the Crimson Scars."

"Both," she replied.

"Both were trying to kill us.  As Blackwell would say, it wasn't personal."

 

Morag smirked, "It's such a pity we're on opposite sides.  I could make you my Emperor and discard that weak fool.  He has already outlived his purpose.  Is the Black Widow wrong to devour its mate the instant it has copulated?  It's within the nature of the beast.  The endless cycle of life and death, played to a backdrop of a world that couldn't care less.  Surrounded by a void that considers it an intruder."

"Not wrong.  But we're sentient creatures.  We can go against our natures," I said, "Also, you give a good example of treason."

"I piss on treason.  I could crush Blackwell's skull like a chicken's egg.  Did you know before I was married I was called Morag Bal?"

"Real original," I chuckled.

She took the comment and said, "I am a Daughter of Coldharbour.  But you know that.  That's boring.  Do you know why I'm here?  I'm afraid there's no real reason, no divine subterfuge.  Sorry to disappoint.  I'm having fun, that's all.  Sethius is just one of many hosts that led me to this Palace.  What if I chose you instead?  Imagine what we could do together.  Empresses of all Nirn.  We could fulfill the Alessian prophecy, and I would be the Queen of a new golden age, and you would be my consort.  I would make you immortal like me.  Father would be very proud.  We could preside over Nirn for a millennia."

 

"You're starting to sound a lot like Lord Harkon.  I hope you're not planning on something ridiculous like blotting out the Sun."

 

"Adaptation to sunlight isn't difficult.  It just takes time and dedication.  I heard of Harkon's plans.  He was a fool," Morag replied, "But I understand.  I foiled your plan, exposing Rigmor's secret.  I would have never guessed, but daddy did help me a little bit.  But now, I'm done with you.  You must be tired.  You should go rest.  I'm sure you must be looking forward to the trial tomorrow.  I promised I'd pay Rigmor a visit."

I exhaled, "Do what you're gonna do.  But you'll get yours."

"Guards!" She shouted, and they were there, "Escort Runa back to her room.  The only way out is to play the game.  Get it right and you both go home."

 

The soldiers flanked me, "Sorry ma'am, but you must return to your room."

"No need to apologize.  You're just doing your job," I replied.

 

We started walking back and the right guard said, "We were with you in Whiterun, Quintus Legion.  You was just a little thing then, but you had the same pretty face.  Now you're all grown up.  Got sent home as I got myself wounded, heavy fighting on the border.  I took an arrow..."

"Took an arrow in his arse," the other one chuckled, "Heard how you guys fought off the Thalmor."

"Sod off Crispus.  You're just jealous of my medal," the other said back.

"Gods!  Your bloody medal again.  If you're so important, Aeneas, why haven't you been promoted yet?"

Aeneas replied, "Crispus is a bit salty we got stiffed with punishment detail."

 

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"But Aenas got us sent here for drunkenness," Crispus said.

Aenas said, "We went down to the market district after some of Tessio's special brew and ended up in a fight with some sweets.  Y'know... civilians."

"Been bolstering the guard lately.  They're shitting their pants.  Something's got them rattled," Crispus said.  We we got to the room, they turned to Calleius, "Oi, lad.  Who's this?  Nice armor y'got there."

"Legate Tyroni Calleius, at your service," he replied.

"This young man's a Legate?  Now I know we done fucked up," Crispus put his hands on his hips, "What Legion you with?  I should ask to transfer there.  Get m'self a shiny new promotion."

"Sialius Legion," Calleius replied.

"Oh, I'll be damned," Aenas slapped him on the back, "You're one of the lot that jumped ship to Skyrim ain't ya?"

"Yes, though I was given a long assignment to guard Runa until we prepare for our next conflict," Calleius replied.

"Not much of a job," Crispus said, "I've seen this woman in action.  And that was years ago.  Bet she got better with age."

"Thanks guys, I'll head into the room now," I said.

"No problem, ma'am," Aenas replied, "So Calleius, is your legion looking for real veterans?  You know, not like this jumped up new lot."

 

Jura had already taken Rigmor's bed, as it was about 10 pm by this time.  

"I heard," he said, "Best be ready tomorrow."

Ready for what, I wasn't sure.  So I went to sleep.

 

In the morning, Malesam and Cerys walked in, waking us up.

 

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"Good morning, guardian," he said, sitting at the table, "I'm here to defend Rigmor.  The trial will begin soon.  However, the Lord Chancellor has requested we meet in the Temple Gardens."

"Is that a good or bad thing?  Can't ever tell with him," I said.

"Good if you're discussing state affairs.  Bad if the information you tell him is detrimental to the Emperor's continued reign.  Watch what you say."

"Seen Rigmor?" Jura asked.

"They won't let us see her until after the trial," Cerys replied.

"Let's get the ball rolling, shall we?" Malesam suggested, then we walked out to the palace gardens.

 

"Well met, Chancellor," Malesam said.

"Court Advisor Malesam, Runa, let's walk," he said.

 

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"The Emperor's coronation has been postponed to make way for the trial.  It will begin shortly.  Charges will be read and the prosecution will make its case.  Sitting on the jury will be the six houses of Cyrodiil, a prerequisite if the defendant is a noble.  It will be a fair trial," Blackwell explained.

"I don't trust any of you," I said.

"It's the law.  I'll be presiding over the proceedings, and will advise the Emperor, who has the last say.  Court Advisor Malesam will put the case for the defense.  Morag Sethius will be prosecuting on behalf of the Emperor.  The Counts will hear statements from the prosecution and defense, then the defendant, Rigmor, will be questioned.  The court will deliberate, then Rigmor will have a chance to make a statement.  She might want to make a confession, say her piece, or nothing at all."

"Was she harmed or tortured in any way to get a confession?" I asked.

"I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to discuss..."

"Well that's telling, since you said it's against the law to torture her," I folded my arms.

"Poppycock," Malesam said, "We need to prepare Runa for the worst."

Blackwell folded his arms, "She was interrogated by the prosecutor, standard procedure.  We don't allow torture.  They took her into the cell, she was made to sit, then her hair was shorn and she began to cry."

 

"That's stupid.  Why?  Remind me to come back here and accuse a few people of random crimes later so I can shave their heads.  Morag'll look great bald," I said.

 

"It's standard procedure to humiliate the accused, to break down any self respect and dignity.  Nothing personal."

"Oh, it's personal," I said angrily.

"Please, try to compose yourself," Blackwell said.

 

Malesam cut me off, "Runa, Rigmor is a tough girl.  Be thankful it's illegal to use traditional.... interrogation methods."

"So what happened?" I asked.

Blackwell had started pacing, and he stood just behind me, pausing, "The prosecutor stood behind her and tore her dress asunder, exposing her back...  And she just stood there, staring at the scars for what seemed an eternity. 

He turned back to face me, throwing up his hands a little, "Then she just left.  She stormed out."

 

He shook his head, "I tried to console the Countess and had her placed in a comfortable secure room, giving her prison attire to protect her modesty."

"Guardian, she needs you to be strong.  If she's found guilty and exiled, we'll worry about that when the time comes.  When the trial starts, you must control yourself.  To not do so would end in dire consequences."

"Any attempt to subvert the proceedings with violence will result in her death with immediate effect.  Do I make myself clear?" Blackwell asked.

I nodded, slowly and angrily.

 

"The facts:  the charge is for treason.  If the verdict is four against, she will be acquitted.  If they fail to reach a verdict, she will be acquitted.  If it's hung, I get the final say on the evidence provided.  With no evidence or credible testimony, I will advise the Emperor to acquit the Countess.  But know this, if there is evidence, I will pursue a guilty verdict."

 

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"Thank you Lord Chancellor, you have been most helpful," Malesam said, and Blackwell nodded and walked away.

 

"Anybody get the impression even the Chancellor's iron resolve is faltering here?  Like this is all bullshit.  Morag is definitely up to something beyond what we can see.  She's only barely following the rules.  Anyway, this doesn't bode well for us," I said.

"We need to get through this.  It's time for Rigmor to stop running.  We need to put this whole thing behind her for good or ill.  Guilty or acquitted," Malesam was wringing his hands.  I could tell even he was getting angry at this.

"She's already confessed," Jura added, "I'm not sure there's much we can do at this point.  Best thing is probably we take a vacation... to Roscrea."

I smirked.

Malesam nodded, "Right.  At the northern tip of Roscrea is an old fort Sethius turned into the prison.  If she's exiled, I'll return to Bruma and Cerys will accompany Rigmor as her lady in waiting.  I must confess I don't know the resupply routes to Roscrea.  Perhaps out of Dawnstar would be best?  Anyway, it's almost time.  Shall we proceed?"

 

As Malesam and Cerys walked away, Jura stepped up next to me.

 

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He said quietly, "Put your armor on.  I'm getting those old soldier vibes that something bad is about to go down.  You know, beyond this farce of a trial."

 

I rushed to the room and did so, showing up to the audience chamber in moments.

 

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"Court is now in session," Blackwell announced, "The Empire versus the Countess of Bruma:  the accusation is of treason on two counts.  To assess her royal bloodline as a pretender.  To usurp the Imperial Throne by subterfuge.  I call the prosecution to make their case.  Proceed."

Morag started, "The Countess is not who she claims to be.  She has been harboring a secret.  We are here today to fully expose the trail of lies and deceit she has woven, and prove beyond doubt her reasons for signing the Noble Decree did indeed have ulterior motives.  That she intended to infiltrate the Houses of Cyrodiil to cause dissent via intrigue and subversion so as to place herself in a position of power to make her claim to the Mede Dynasty."

 

She paused, then began pacing, "A dynasty that has been legally passed on, to our great Emperor Ariel Sethius by right of combat.  I put it to the jury, the Countess Rigmor of Bruma, is a pretender to the Imperial Throne.  She wants to usurp the throne, which would be an act of treason.  And that you should find her guilty, so that she spend the rest of her days in exile, and the House of Bruma be dissolved."

 

"I call the defense to make their case," Blackwell said.

 

Malesam said, "The Countess of Bruma is innocent of the charge brought against her, and I put this to the jury, that they think very carefully of the implications a guilty charge would bring.  I put it to the jury that they will find before them not a subversive, power hungry pretender to the Imperial Throne, but quite the opposite.  They will witness the truth about Rigmor of Bruma.  That she signed the noble decree because she has faith in the land of Cyrodiil.  I implore you to find the accused not guilty and be acquitted, so she can simply return home, where she belongs."

 

"I call Rigmor of Bruma to the stand," Blackwell said.

A gentle murmur washed over the crowd.  She was flanked by two rows of guards, so most the crowd could see her before I did.  I thought I was prepared, but it made me angry all the same.  

 

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A gentle call of, "Silence," came from Chancellor Blackwell as she walked.  And I could tell by the crowd's tone how much they disapproved of this treatment of a noble, even if she was of 'common' blood.  And it seemed like this was not 'normal' treatment at all if their shock was any indication.  I agreed that this was unnecessary.  To treat anyone this way because of a simple accusation...

"Silence!" Blackwell said again, more insistently. 

 

Blackwell said to her, "Countess of Bruma, you have been brought here today to hear the charges against you.  You are accused of treason.  How do you plead?"

"Not guilty," she said with a broken voice.

"Permission to interject, Lord Chancellor?" Malesam requested, "As you can clearly see, the Countess of Bruma is in poor health, and is clearly disoriented.  Before questioning, I would like to speak with her directly, as to clarify her position, so she knows just what is actually going on."

"No objection," Morag said.

"Granted," Blackwell nodded.

Malesam turned to her, "Rigmor, don't be afraid, as today you will be free.  No more running away, no more hiding.  I want you to listen carefully.  Whatever questions the prosecutor asks, you must tell the truth.  You have nothing to hide.  Do you understand?"

Rigmor nodded.

Malesam turned to Morag, "Prosecutor.  No need to accuse, interrogate or intimidate.  Ask her what you want to know, and she will comply."

"Proceed," Blackwell said.

 

Morag turned to Rigmor, "Are you a direct descendant of the Emperor Titus Mede I?"

"Yes," Rigmor replied.

"How did you acquire the title and deeds to the county of Bruma?"
"Emperor Titus Mede II bestowed them upon me," Rigmor replied.

"Did you plot to usurp the Imperial Throne by subterfuge?" Morag asked.

What a canny questioning.  Much skill.

"No," Rigmor replied.

"Do you admit that by your lineage, you are a pretender to the Imperial Throne by default?" Morag asked.

"Yes," Rigmor replied.

The crowd erupted into loud murmurs.

Oh my gods!  I wanted to scream, 'You are not a pretender!  That's not what that means!'

"Court advisor Malesam, you realize that the Countess has by her admission brought these proceedings to an abrupt close?" Blackwell asked.

"I do.  But I still have the right to advocate clemency," Malesam replied.

"Objection!" Morag shouted.

Blackwell narrowed his eyes, "What are you even objecting to?  Objection denied.  Continue, Court Advisor."

"Thank you, Lord Chancellor.  Gentlemen of the jury.  What you see before you is no usurper, no threat to the Imperial Throne.  Until recently she was considered a commoner.  She didn't come to sign the Noble Decree to cause dissent, she came to sign because she was scared.  Her ancestry was something to be hidden.  Why, you might ask?  Because it would eventually lead to a day like this.  Her ancestry should have been cause for celebration, ties to a dynasty was something Titus Mede II held dear.  He himself bestowed the title of Countess upon her.  And it should be therefore noted, in your deliberations.  I ask for your clemency, and that she be able to keep the titles legally awarded her by her former Emperor, and I ask you to be merciful.  She is, after all, an Imperial Princess."

 

Blackwell walked around, getting the rulings of each Count.  Rigmor was looking at me, and I gave a sad smile.  That seemed to give her some form of reassurance, like I was going to save her.  

 

When Blackwell passed us, I heard the Count of Anvil say, "Guilty on the first count, not guilty on the second.  Clemency approved."

Then Chorrol, "Guilty on the first count, not guilty on the second.  Clemency approved."

 

When Blackwell had nearly finished his rounds, Jura raised his hand.

"Yes?" Blackwell asked.

"May I make a statement?" He asked.

"The verdict has already been rendered.  But if you wish, I will allow it," Blackwell replied.

He stood up, and walked toward the dais.

 

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"Good morning.  I'm General Jura of Hammerfell.  Here on a diplomatic mission from my homeland.  I was asked to escort the Countess as a favor for a friend.  That's beside the point, just an introduction.  My statement is thus:  has anyone here explained what a 'pretender' to the throne actually means to Lady Rigmor?  And Court Advisor Malesam, give my apologizes to Freathof, who I don't believe taught her about legal terminology.  But, do the houses of Cyrodiil understand what a pretender to the Imperial Throne means?"

Blackwell replied, "A pretender to the throne is someone who has, or invents, a claim to the throne which they assert to be superior to that of the incumbent monarch; in other words, they think they should be king or queen instead of the current monarch."

"Exactly," Jura said, "Rigmor, do you believe your claim to the throne to be above that of Ariel Sethius?"

"No," Rigmor replied.

"In Hammerfell's court, intentionally leading the witness to give false testimony is called witness tampering, and is not just against the law, but manipulative and a mockery of justice.  After all, why would she sign away her right to a throne if she wanted it herself?" Jura said, then he sat down, "Food for thought."

"Are you kidding?  I'm not responsible for educating the defendant on her position!" Morag replied.

"I do believe the good general has a point," Malesam replied.

"I agree, although there is not a mechanism for changing this decision once it has been rendered.  Perhaps we should change this system," Blackwell mused to himself, "Mal-trial?  Mis-trial?"

"What is the verdict?" Ariel demanded.

Blackwell sighed, silently cursing being beholden to this system, "Countess Rigmor is found not guilty of the charge to usurp the Imperial Throne by subterfuge.  The Countess is found guilty of the charge to assert her royal bloodline and is sentenced to be exiled to the island of Roscrea for 25 years."

"Twenty-five years?!" I said, but my voice was drowned out by the clamor of the soldiers and court members who hadn't made the decision.

"If this is how they treat the nobles and royals I'd hate to see the actual criminals," I muttered.

 

"Silence!" Blackwell continued, "As is the unanimous wish of the Houses of Cyrodiil, she will retain her noble titles and deeds.  The County of Bruma will be administered by her family in her absence, and it is the express wish that she be cared for, as befitting an Imperial Princess."

 

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Malesam walked over to me as Rigmor was taken away and court dispersed, "Believe it or not, that was the minimum sentence."

"Well, I gave it my best shot," Jura shrugged.

"Nice try, grandpa," I said.

"I knew it was coming.  I needed to secure Bruma for Sigunn," Malesam said.

"Sounds like you have a plan," I smiled, but only just a little.

"Of course I do.  I told you where the prison is, didn't I?" Malesam smiled.

 

"Guardian!  We must do something!" Robere ran up to me, shouting.

"Bobby, it's over... for now.  I'm sorry," I replied.

"No, I won't hear of it!  I can't lose her now, I love her.  I'll join her on the island.  I'll have father talk to the Emperor, I am not giving up.  You might want to, but I will not!"

"Ser Robere, there's nothing we can do at this point," Malesam said.

"Rigmor said she'd marry me, and she is still Countess.  How can you all just give up?  Why are you all so calm?" Robere said, emotionally.

"Don't worry, we have a plan," I said, "No more questions."

He stormed off, angrily.

 

"Cerys, it's time for you to go.  Tell the guards you are Rigmor's lady in waiting.  They should let you pass through immediately.  Present yourself at the prison," Malesam said. 

Cerys left, and we started walking back towards the rooms, keeping it quiet.

Malesam continued when we were out of earshot, "Prepare for a siege, dear girl.  Leyawiin is not going to be happy about this.  If Robere's motivations are genuine, we will be protected."

 

We had a short meal, and about thirty minutes later, we heard a guard crier running down the halls, "FIRE!  FIRE!  The prison is on fire!"

Malesam, Jura and I sprinted toward the prison.

"Bet you're glad you put your armor on, huh?" Jura asked, "Knew there would be something foul here."

 

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We pushed past support workers running the opposite direction.  When we reached it, guards were bucket brigading the massive blaze on the outside, as well as a couple Imperial mages blasting it with plumes of water.  

"She's still in there!" Cerys shouted, "The holding cells on the lower floor!"

 

I got low and shoulder-checked the doors open, Jura following me.

 

Bobby was shouting into the inferno, "Rigmor!  Rigmor!  Where are you?!"

"I'm here!  Help me!" Her voice shouted back.  But the wall of fire seemed impassible.

I turned to Bobby, "Get back outside.  We'll save her."

Jura tossed me a Fire Resist potion and chugged one himself, "Time to save the day, Runa!"

 

I led the charge, bursting through the fire first.  It was still painful, but we made it to the stairs without incident.  Jura kicked down the blackened door covered in flame.

We reached the lower level of the prison, both of us sprinting through fire.

When we turned the final corner to the prison block, Morag was there.  

She smiled and said in Rigmor's voice, "Oh, please save me!"

Then she threw a lever and the floor opened up underneath us.  We fell into a deep pit, collapsing onto a mountain of bone.

 

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"Son of a bitch," Jura lay on his back in the bones, "It was a setup.  But I didn't see this coming."

 

Two figures peeked out over the pit.  

Morag... and Ser Robere.

He said, "I'm sorry, guardian.  General.  I truly am.  But it's nothing personal.  When you said you had a plan, I figured we should go ahead and get you out of the way.  You gotta look out for number one, right?  I only want Bruma County, nothing more.  Rigmor means nothing to me.  She never did.  What's more, she never shuts up.  Would just go on and on and on.  Did she ever do that with you?  Yes, of course she did.  I would smile and feign interest.  When all I really wanted was to just punch her in the fucking mouth.  Whiny little cunt."

"Thank you Bobby," Morag said, "Now go.  Tell them the Countess is alive and well, and luckily she'd already left for Roscrea.  We will arrange the wedding as soon as possible.  Once you become Count of Bruma we'll arrange a nice assassination or accident for her.  Then you can get yourself a proper wife."

 

"You know, I was just starting to like you," I said, "But thank you."

"Thank... you?" Robere asked.

"All this court intrigue is so boring.  Stabbing in the back with words.  I prefer stabbing in the front, with swords.  Now when I get out of this pit I finally have somebody I can decapitate," I replied.

"Do you... usually decapitate all your enemies?" Robere asked.

"Not always decapitate.  It's a problem, I know.  But I'm working through it," I replied, "You can bet I'll be seeing you later."

 

He backed away from the pit slowly, then left the room.

"You know, we have a lot of powerful friends.  They're going to notice we never came back," Jura said, still laying in the bones.

 

"As I said to Runa earlier, I'm just spreading chaos.  Let them come.  So what if this dynasty crumbles?  I'll just find a new one.  Also, I must remember to give Bobby a slow meaningful death after this."

"Nothing really is sacred with you, is it?" I asked.

"Not the brightest candle in the stack, are we?" Morag asked, "You were way out of your depth the moment you stepped foot in Cyrodiil.  Funny that one of Tamriel's most powerful killers is reduced to this shameful wretch.  Sadly, this is where we say goodbye.  Don't worry about Rigmor.  She's in safe hands now.  Here: to remember her by as you're dying in this pit."

She dropped a lock of Rigmor's hair down and I caught it.

"Strange," I said, putting it in my bag.

"By the way, these labyrinths under the city are ancient, but this one has a particular something special.  One of a kind, literally.  I do hope you brought a torch with you.  You'll need it.  Here, take mine just in case.  When you do come face-to face with death I'd hate for you to not see it coming," Morag pressed the button and the grate started to shut.

 

Jura, still laying down, outstretched his hand and shot a Fireball, exploding on the roof of the room Morag was in.  She peeked her head back over the edge, "You missed!"

"Fuck off," Jura said as the grate shut.  

I sat down, sighing, "I didn't know you were a spellcaster."

 

"Mostly restoration.  I'm a paladin of the Order of the Scarab in Sentinel (Hammerfell), and Knight of the Flame in Anticlere (High Rock).  But an old man has a few tricks up his sleeve, including Candlelight," Jura cast his light spell, trying to sit up.

"It's ok.  Let's take a break," I said. 

He was slowly casting restoration spells on himself, trying to correct his aching back.

"What are you doing over there?" He asked, "I can't see."

 

I took out a dagger.

"Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear," I said slowly, stabbing the effigy.

 

He finally sat up and found I'd arranged bones and flesh (of which there was a copious amount in the pile).  I had oil (which I used with the bones to fashion candles), nightshade and my special sleep dagger handy, and I was now performing the Black Sacrament.

"Who's it for?" He asked.

"Ser Robere.  In case we don't get out of here," I replied.

"Not Morag?"

"I don't want to risk them sending people to their deaths needlessly.  She's a Vampire Lord.  May need to do it ourselves," I replied, "Bobby though, that's personal."

"Aren't you the Listener?" He asked.

"Vala Amatius can hear The Night Mother and dispense jobs in my absence.  That's kinda why I'm free to take time to fight a war and go on a diplomatic mission," I replied.

"Truly a terrifying organization," Jura finally got to his feet.  I snuffed out the candles and cast my own light spell.

 

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"Ready?" He asked.

"Sure.  Say, where's Calleius?" I asked.

"I sent him to secure as a ride to Dawnstar when Malesam started talking about Roscrea," Jura replied.

"You really are on top of things.  From the armor suggestion to the fire resist," I said as we started into the labyrinth.

"Sure I am.  I've been doing this shit for fifty years."

"Ever think of settling down?" I asked.

"Nah!" He chuckled, "You know what I also have a lot of experience with?"

"What?"

"For one thing - labyrinths.  They're rare in Cyrodiil, but they're all over High Rock and northern Hammerfell," he said.  We passed into the first tunnel and everything was silent.  We came upon the body of an Imperial soldier and I looted his gold and arrows.  Then a blood trail.  Then another body, leading us in a path.

"Seems like we're expected," Jura commented.

 

After a few minutes, I said, "You said 'for one thing,' what else?"

"Oh yeah, right," he said, both of us recasting our light spells, "I know about relationships."

"Ah gods, I'm sure what you have to say to me my mom has already said.  You going to tell me to loosen up?  Take a chance?"

Jura shrugged, "Your mother sounds like she knows what she's talking about.  If you want to experience life, you should just take the plunge and experience it."

"Grandpa.  You're telling me to have sex with somebody, aren't you?"

"I'm telling you to find somebody you trust and throw caution to the wind.  It's one of the greatest experiences in life," he said, "Who do you trust?"

 

We continued on for a while, passing more corpses.

 

"Alright.  Alright," I said, "Calleius.  I don't know what he thinks of me, but I know he'd treat me well."

"Girl, he has a huge crush on you," Jura replied.

"Does he?" I asked.

"He's such a gentleman.  So proper.  I've been trying to get him out of his shell since we set out on this trip," Jura replied, "Also trying to improve his shield work.  For a Legate, kinda garbage.  You don't just use a shield for defense.  You use it for positioning, for offense...  Anyway, I'm getting off topic.  Just do what comes naturally.  And be safe!"

 

Finally, the body trail reached an end with a huge pile of fresh dead.

 

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"I do believe they've been trying to kill whatever is down here for a while," I said.

"Morag probably figured whoever dies between us and it, they'd benefit," Jura added.  

We pulled out our weapons and stepped into the next room.  

 

A large man sat in the shadows, making no threatening motion.  

"Dovahkiin.  Come forth into the light," he said.

"Not a Dragonborn," I replied, but I did as he asked, sheathing my greatsword.

"Dova means dragon, but kin can mean either born, or child," he replied.

"You called me Dragonchild?" I smirked, "Who are you, shadow man?"

 

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"I am Lord Mor'Bel Harza.  Al-esh has smiled upon me this day.  She promised me you would come.  I am a Lord of Minotaurs," he explained, "The King of all one Minotaur."

"Who is Al-Esh?"

"She is my celestial mother.  She is waiting for me to return to the stars."

"I thought minotaur were extinct," Jura said.

"I am the last," Mor'Bel said, "One we were many, thriving across Tamriel.  We lived here in peace, and flourished.  Our wings carrying us up high and to far off lands.  Like winged horned gods we played amongst the stars.  But the hearts of men became dark, and they came to fear us.  We were shunned, reduced to the status of beasts and monsters, and we retreated into the dark caves and forests of the land.  For thousands of years we watched empires rise and fall.  The Elven Kingdoms.  The Dwarven Citadels.  We became trophies - sport for the arena, hunted down relentlessly, without mercy.  I gathered the last of us, and we rose up to defend our very existence, but they were too many.  We were too few.  They tore off our wings and made us slaves.  Put us down in labyrinths such as these.  Al-Esh heard our cries and cursed this land.  All that sought the peace of this land would never find it until her children were free.  Akatosh pleaded that she release the curse, while Molag Bal laughed.  I am the last.  Al-Esh is calling and I have been waiting for one with the blood of ancient kings of men, to set an ancient king of minotaurs free."

 

I looked over to Jura, then back to Mor'Bel Harza, "Me?"

"It was foretold by Al-Esh.  My blood is screaming to me that you are the one.  I know not how, nor do I care," he replied, "When you free me, you free your kind as well.  The arrival of the chosen queen of Tamriel is foretold with my freedom."

I didn't know what this prophecy meant, but I unlatched my greatsword and leaned on the hilt, "I would be honored to deliver you from this hell."

"Yes, Dragonchild.  Allow me to soar the heavens again amongst my brothers and sisters," he said, "Take my heart and place it in the fire once you do."

 

I stepped forward morosely, taking out my sleep dagger.  I stabbed him with it in the leg, causing him to slump in his throne.  Then I carved out his heart, giving him a quick, painless death.  

He slumped, sliding off the throne, but Jura caught him, "Sleep now, ancient king."

Then he laid him down softly.

I put his heart in the brazier and it burst to life, consuming it immediately.

 

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The door to the labyrinth slid open and we emerged into the Cyrodiilic countryside under gray clouds.  

 

"Why is this world so godsdamned cruel?" I asked.

Jura sighed, putting his hand on my shoulder.

"I don't know," he said, "C'mon.  Best keep going forward."

 

We took a quick walk up to the docks on the nearby river. 

Calleius ran up to us and hugged me, picking me up, "Runa!  Jura!  I was beginning to get worried!"

"Told you we'd make it," Jura said.

Then he put me down, realizing what he was doing.

I grabbed his face, pushing the ever-present helmet off his head and kissed him.

When I pulled back, he looked paralyzed.

"Sorry," I said, "I think I just needed that point of hope.  I don't know what I'm doing."

"Don't apologize.  I just... was caught off guard," he said.

"Runa," another voice said.

I turned to find Aventus, one foot on a supply boat and another on the dock.

I was unsure if he'd seen that or what he would think, but I was happy to see him.

"Aventus," I smiled at him, "It's good to see you."

He looked a bit confused, a bit happy.  Then I pulled him to me and hugged him.

"I managed to find a friend shipping some goods to Dawnstar," Calleius said after he returned from his shock.

"We can cast off whenever you like," Aventus said.

 

I got on the boat, then I spied a figure.

 

A shadowy man was standing there at the edge of the dock, cloak billowing.

"Listener, you're alright," he said, "I've been monitoring your movements in the Imperial City per our mutual friend's orders.  What is your need?"

"Send a message back to Stabby and the Cyrodiil chapter.  Keep a low profile.  I just performed a Black Sacrament.  The target is Ser Robere de Medallius of Leyawiin.  If you get him, I want him alive.  I want to kill him myself."

 

 

Spoiler

This mod loves to have a single thing happen then assume you're going to bed.  It happens nearly every court event so far.  I've been justifying/glossing/ignoring it and changing dialogue accordingly.

 

Also, this mod likes to explain things in a way that makes them make no sense.  I threw out some of the dialogue, because I have no idea what these dudes are talking about and their logic makes no sense.  

 

And all the half-beast stuff I included just so I could call it out on how wrong the mod author's conception of Dragonborn is.  Or maybe it's Morag being fantasy racist against another fantasy creature?  I'm not sure.

 

Also, not sure what the author thinks 'pretender' or 'pretender by default' means, but in actuality, it is a debate whether or not their lineage is eligible for the throne.  If they're of royal blood, then they're eligible.  That's it.  End of discussion.  A pretender is someone who claims they have royal blood, but then it is found this claim is false.  It seemed to me like this story could be explained as the Sethius' knew what they were doing and tricked Rigmor with the wording into admitting something she hadn't been guilty of.

 

Also, Morag is played for peak weirdness and I'm not into it (and I also don't get it).  I smoothed that down a little bit.

 

That scene with Jura was inspired by the fact that before the trial I told Jura, 'You should hang around here,' the Multiple Followers version of 'Wait here,' that makes them sandbox.  He just walked across the dais in the middle of the trial, so I figured I had to.  It was fate.

 

 

Edited by EnragedBard

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And more courtly intrigue with Runa and Rigmor.

Before I forget an FYI to EB: The screenshot during the sceen with Aeneas and Crispus is not showing up for me. 6th from the start.

 

I got the distinct impression, that Runa was groaning inwardly and grinding her teeth throughout much of this part. All these shadowy games of backstabs and daggers aren't really her style. Which is certainly ironic, given her own profession.

Of course, certain characters, Morag Bitch... Err Bal chief among them, didn't exactly help with making this trial part less frustrating. She really is the embodiment of what I like to call a "sucky sucker". Even more so then Hakon was. No offense to Destana, Serana or Valerica, of course.😁

So, personally, I can completely understand, that by the end of the chapter, Runa was ready to do the Black Sacrament on a certain someone.

 

The whole thing with the term "pretender" never really caught my eye. I probably would have used "contender" myself if asked, but since I am not a native speaker, I am not really sure, if that would have been correct either.

 

Even though I have played at least three times through this mod, I was only able to detect some of the dialogue-changes you made. Anything referring to the PC as Dragonborn, obviously. But I really can't say what dialogues of the various characters "make no sense", so you left them out. All in all, well done blending everything together quite nicely.

 

Sidenote: I am not sure if the mod-author changed it or if this is EB's doing, but I like, that poor Rigmor has at least some clothes on during the trial. With the last version of RoC that I played, she showed up in her birthday-suit during that sceen. Talk about humiliation and such.

 

Personally I find it abit regrettable, that the Minotaur King only showed up to die. I would have found it way more fun, to see him stay alive, at least long enough to witness, how Rigmor's story plays out. Oh, well.

 

Finally: Jura once again showed his badassery by (almost) giving Morag a good sunburn. I definitely approve of that. And the little sceen with Runa at the end. I think that was some much needed positivity after all of the intrigue.

Overall, big thumps up from me.👍

 

p.s. Morag reminds me of (early game) Edea Kramer from FF8. Looks as well as haughty attitude.

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Edited by HM1919
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It might be another mod you have (or a different version of RoC) that makes Rigmor naked. I changed nothing. 

 

As far as dialogue, I made everyone less long winded and repetitive, and slightly changed wordings  when I wasn't sure people's motivations and just made it sound like what I thought they were trying to say. 

Edited by EnragedBard
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Older version of RoC, for sure. Since I am assuming you are playing the reboot. Which I haven't touched yet. Everything else seems to be identical though. So far.

And the dialogue being longwinded... Yeah, I can see that. After all, Pretty much everything in RoC so far was traveling and talking. So I see your point.

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Great story, not sure how much is the mod and how much comes from you dear agitated Bard, but it's a great story. Reading your notes I guess it's mostly you, getting 'inspired' (and at times exasperated) by RoC. At any rate, so far it gives the impression that RoC is more like a movie with some limited interaction, rather than your average Skyrim mod. Makes me wonder if the entire mod will be more or less storytelling, or if it contains some actual 'adventuring'.

 

And yes, would've been nice to have the Minotaur King join or little rag tag band at least for some time. Well, you can't have everything, I guess.

It appears certain ... 'knacks' indeed run deep in the blood of HighQueen Destanas line. It's not every day a girl gets told by her grandpa (in the nicest of ways, of course) that she needs a good shag. ;)

But then the end ... Runa, Runa, Runa <shakes head> that really is foolish of you.
While you might not be the model of an Evil Overlord, you are nonetheless the head of a preeeetty dark organization, so allow me to educate you on some basics.
Evil Overlord Rule #78: I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."
And more to the point, as well as more important:
Evil Overlord Rule #117: No matter how much I want revenge, I will never order an underling "Leave him. He's mine!"

 

You shall be very lucky if your decision to violate those rules does not come back to haunt you, dear Listener.

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9 hours ago, Talesien said:

Makes me wonder if the entire mod will be more or less storytelling, or if it contains some actual 'adventuring'.

Without spoiling anything, let's just say, that Runa and company will get some "elbow-room" to move around more freely soon. However, don't expect too much of it. Our heros certainly won't start picking up side-quests left, right and center. Like they would in Skyrim. In that sense RoC will remain quite linear. Basically, it is like a movie, where the heros get to explore the area abit during certain segments.

 

And without wanting to diminish EB's work as an author here, he is following the story of RoC quite closely. Not much creative license to be found thus far. Except anything that relates to his own characters of course.

 

As for Jura and his "knacks": They really must be quite strong, considering that Runa is adopted and doesn't share J.'s blood. Still, his tendencies seem to have rubbed off on her already. Somewhat.  After all: She pretty much admitted, that she would consider legate Tyroni C. as a possible sex partner. (No, I am still not over that name.😁 ) Her being so open is almost certainly a recent development. I guess, she has "adopted" her new-found grandpa already. Which is a good thing in my book.

Edited by HM1919
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39 minutes ago, HM1919 said:

As for Jura and his "knacks": They really must be quite strong, considering that Runa is adopted and doesn't share J.'s blood.

Yeah ok, I worded that badly. I was more playing at the similarities between D. and Jura. Runa and D. are ... distinguishable enough for sure. ^^

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7 hours ago, Talesien said:

Yeah ok, I worded that badly. I was more playing at the similarities between D. and Jura. Runa and D. are ... distinguishable enough for sure. ^^

Oh, I understood what you meant perfectly. Still: It seems Jura was the one, who managed to "convince" Runa to loosen up a little within what? A few weeks? That's quite remarkable when you consider, how she usually reacted to anything sexual.

In other words, he must appear quite persuasive and trustworthy to Runa, despite his naughty hobbies. Even more so then Destana by the looks of it. So, he seems to combine Destana's attitude towards sex with a noteworthy ability to put people at ease and open up to him. Which, I would imagine, has helped him to no end in the past when it comes to finding hook-ups.

Edited by HM1919
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I see, agreed one wonders if the powers that be actually gave thought to who they send with their Skyrim delegation and actually picked someone that has an unusual amount of people skills from among their higher ranking military.
"I've heard about you and your honeyed words." ^^

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