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  1. Hey there. Destana here. Update to our ongoing war with the Thalmor: we drove them back to just Riften and Shor's Stone. Right after I reported this to Balfhe, General Sialius told me we would be attacking Riften within a few hours. Damien was already making preparations. I gathered Runa, Serana, Fenrir, Shirley, Ulfric (who wanted to come for the triumphant ending), and Jura (who was still with us from the 'peace talks') and we teleported off to Iverstead, making our way on horses to a safe distance away. I went off on my own for just a bit and Serana shrugged as she knew there was no stopping me. This city was locked up tight, with all the Thalmor's remaining presence in Skyrim. Seems like they pulled back everything they had. My thought was as before: get into the city and get some cooperation with the Thieves Guild. However, my presence was noticed when I tried to enter the south district by a random Goblin attack that put the guards on high alert. I did however, beast call an ogre that was with them and send him over to my attacking forces. Then my presence was noticed by the docks. I tried to teleport in, but a dozen Thalmor guards happened to be passing by the graveyard and I knew I needed to get out of there when they saw right through my invisibility. Then there were a ton of them running around the central area. I crested a hill with all my friends and family, "Well, sorry to say this, but I might have just alerted the Thalmor." "Why would you do that?" Balfhe asked. "Oh, you're here. And Sialius. And Hrolf," I said. "Last battle, I think," General Sialius said. Damien was standing at the top of the hill. He folded his arms, "The Stormcloaks and Imperials are set. We're ready to start." A few people talked about how to approach the gate, and finally Fenrir said, "I think Mom and Damien should go up on that ridge and double blast them with your best magic to knock down the first line. We rush over the ridge and join the army, breaking through the barriers. If things get bad, mom can call her dragon friends. It looks like they might be thinking about trying a siege. But they may not know there are a lot of entrances." "Right," I said, "Besides the three they know of, there's two sewer entrances. Riften is not the most defensible city." Ulfric and Jura both patted Fenrir on the back, meeting eyes in the middle. "Guess you're a grandpa now you old codger," Ulfric chuckled. "You're older than me!" Jura said back, exasperated. "I think that's a great plan," General Sialius said, "A few of us can travel straight north up the ridge and get a clear shot at them. Balfhe, take a small group of Stormcloaks and assault the southern gate." We broke, and Damien and I ran up to the ridge, both in Invisibility. "You ready?" I whispered. "Feel like I've missed a lot of the actual fighting. I'm excited," he whispered back. Sialius, Ulfric and Jura all shouted for the soldiers to charge, and Damien and I were already charging up Black Winter. The Thalmor peaked their heads over the next ridge, a couple dozen of them coming down to meet our warriors. But they were blasted to pieces by the dual annihilation dealt out my two master Destruction wizards. It only took a solid two seconds and we both broke concentration, and then our men were stampeding through the frozen corpses of Thalmor. Damien moved to the right while I got out my bow and continued forward, stealthily, backing up the soldiers. Further up the ridge I raided one of the watchtowers while the armies moved past me. I found Runa, already assassinating one of the archers. When the other turned their attention to her, I backstabbed the other one. I gave my girl a high five. She leapt down and I used the watchtower as a vantage point to snipe Thalmor for a few minutes. Project 16_03-03-2022_15-57-21-940.mp4 Minutes later I found Shirley and Damien to the far right side of the gate, battling a group of Thalmor. Ulfric burst into the scene just before me, shouting, "YOL - TOOR!" Blasting them with fire. "You're been practicing!" I shouted as the rain started to come down, "YOL - TOOR!" I joined him. "Doing my best to keep up with you!" Ulfric shouted back. We battled our way up to the gate and I heard a thundering, "FUS - RO!" From Runa as she came from the gate's left with a group of Imperials. We hit them from both sides, and while the others were trading blows with the mer at the gate, I slashed at the barricades, collapsing them. More Thalmor poured out of the gate and in unison, "FUS - RO!" The three of us, and "- DAH!" Me and Ulfric, blasting all of them backward and the gate open. More Thalmor poured out. Some of them Ulfric and I chased, while Runa and the others held the line. When I returned to the gates, I found the two groups still struggling against one another; us prevailing. Archers were shooting at the men, so I jumped up on the roof of the stables, jumped up to the tower over the gate and blasted them back with an Unrelenting Force. We spent a lot of time chasing after running Thalmor, and eventually it was over with us the victors. We ran the Thalmor soldiers out of town, and seeing as how Laila Law-Giver was no more, I installed Maven Black-Briar as the new jarl (at least, for now). I figured it it was good enough for General Tullius, it might be a good move. We all returned to Windhelm and mustered in the Map Room. Sialius wasted no time, "Good. We're all here. Let me start off by saying well done in Riften, all. That was the Dominion's last stronghold in Skyrim. With that, all Dominion forces have fallen back out of Skyrim. But it's not over. We have one mission left. The Dominion's leader in Skyrim will ensure the collapse of their armies. They were really putting a lot into this assault. Balfhe?" "Thank you sir. Information on her has been scarce, however the Dominion were sloppy in their retreat. We found her identity: an Altmer by the name of Viranir." Jura, Ulfric and Sialius all exchanged glances. "Yep, that Viranir," Balfhe said, "She was a prominent leader in the first war. And we know where she is. When the Dominion fled south, unhindered by Cyrodiil..." General Sialius furrowed his brow visibly. Balfhe continued, "She stayed behind with a small staging group in the Jerall Mountains. Our scouts have found the actual location." "Just point me in the right direction," I said. Balfhe traced a line of a pass through the Jerall Mountains. "I think I know the area. But they'd see you a mile away. Especially if you brought an army with you," General Jura said. "That's why I think Destana should go and take care of Viranir, alone," General Sialius said, and smiled, which was a rare sight, "You've been our greatest asset in this war. If not you, then who?" I cracked my knuckles, "Finally a chance to prove I'm back at full power." "I wouldn't be so excited," Ulfric said, "She was extremely powerful, even in the Great War. I think you should take someone to back you up." "He's right. This may be one of the greatest challenges you've ever faced," Jura said. I raised an eyebrow, "Did she kick all your asses or something?" Jura chuckled out loud, while the other two just hung their heads. Then Jura said, "Gave us all a walloping at the same time, and Valerius, Marcus Jannus, and all our men. The fact that the five of us got out alive was a wonder. I can accept when I'm beaten." "So why shouldn't you go then?" I asked. "Simple," Jura said, "You may not be as strong or as experienced as me, but you're damn close in strength. And you're half my age. AND you're the dragonborn. From what I've heard you've made a business of killing things stronger than you." "Who'll be my backup?" I asked. Nobody wanted to, of course. Serana looked at me, wondering if she should, but thinking there were better warriors amongst the group than her. Almost everyone else had a similar thought. "I'm abstaining to give a shot to one of the younger generation," Jura folded his arms, eyeing the kids. "I'll go," Balfhe said. General Sialius blinked, "Are you sure? I don't like risking one of my best men on this. I'll leave it up to her." "Why the hell not," I said, "You know anything about stealth?" "I'm not bad at it," he said. "I'm going too," Damien said. "Didn't we say you can't send too many?" Sialius asked. "I'm not asking. If there's a powerful mage, best fight fire with fire. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm half-daedra and kind of a magic prodigy. Also, I can become invisible. You need me," he said. "Alright, but no more," I said. "Time is of the essence. If she retreats further into the mountains we'll never catch her. We need to strike at her before they realize we're coming," Sialius said. I kissed Serana and Ulfric, hugged everyone else, and we got ready. Damien grabbed Balfhe and I and we teleported to Falkreath. Before we headed out we saw the dragon leaving, as the Thalmor occupation was over. "Farewell, Dovahkiin!" We traveled up the path using low flight and found ourselves face-to-face with a small contingent of Thalmor. We leveled them with magic and rushed inside the cave behind. The Thalmor inside were capital E Elite and were having none of our stealth and invisibility. We fought our way in through fire and lightning, matching their magics with our own. Finally we came to a large open cave filled with natural pillars. An Altmer woman dressed in red and black armored robes threw up her arms, activating a forcefield that locked Balfhe out. "Damn it!" Balfhe said. She started speaking calmly, but her voice seemed to carry, "So you're the one I've been hearing so much about. I didn't anticipate you'd find me. At least, not this quickly. You're here to kill me I suppose. You, the great hero of the Civil War and now this one as well. I'm afraid that isn't going to happen." The power coming off her was notable, her buff spells warping space and casting radiance around her. She knew we were coming and saw this as a challenge. She continued, "I have mastered every school of magic over hundreds of years of study. The very fact that you consider yourself on my level is insulting. I have been looking forward to crushing you for quite a while. Ever since you became involved you've been a thorn in my side. The Stormcloaks and Imperials should've fought for several more years. The weakened Empire would've been better for us. When they told me of a single warrior moving from battle to battle I didn't believe it. Stories of war. But then - the same thing happened here, and here you are. Your reign ends here today. I'm not just going to kill you. I'm going to destroy you." She started casting a spell, "There won't even be ashes for them to recover." I drew my bow, heart pumping in anticipation. I switched to Ebony Arrows. Better use the good stuff. Viranir cast her spell and Damien matched her motions exactly, cancelling her out. "The old move on," he said, smirking, "Detritus gets cleared away for the new." "Not today, young one. Meet the mage that invented the chromancy assault technique," she waved her hand and Damien froze in place, then he rewound, moving backward to the point when he was in the door way, locked out of the forcefield arena Virinir had created for us. I nocked an arrow and shot it at her, but she knocked it aside with a ward. Then she shot a fireblast in my direction, which I dodged. I knew I wasn't going to close the distance with her so I continued using my bow. We traded shots; her of magic, me of arrows, strafing and not dealing a lot of damage to each other, using pillars as cover. Then when I lost sight of her, she vanished. I'd been in a tunnel vision with her: I just noticed a large forcefield at the far side of the room which she was now behind, casting a large conjuration spell. I activated the Nerevarine's Bow and went invisible. A dozen seemingly random figures materialized: a Ghost, a Troll, a Fire Atronach, etc. I hid and sniped, piercing each one in the eye, the heart, the brain. They fell like wheat before a scythe. I activated the Nerevarine's Bow again, and when she materialized back inside the barrier, I noticed she was looking around for me. I aimed for her head and shot an arrow. At the last second she dodged, but it slashed her in her eye, dealing massive damage. She teleported outside the barrier, healing herself to full. We did this song and dance a few times, her getting the drop on me once and nearly killing me with a lightning blast after guessing where I was hiding. I chugged an Ultimate Potion. After the third time, I led with my sneak attack arrow and when it hit, I immediately shouted, "TIID!" Filling the space between us with arrows. Unfortunately, about half of them hit air when she vanished again. Damn! This time I knew I would need to kill her in a single attack. One thing I knew about teleportation is it was never perfect. You never know which way you're going to be facing, and usually even the master conjuror is disoriented, even if for a split second. I killed her adds again and when she materialized, I hadn't even gone invisible, but she was turned the wrong way. Before she could get her wits about her I shouted, "WULD!" Whirlwind Sprint. She turned, I was in her face. I activated the Nerevarine's Bow as I was dropping it to the ground. She whipped around as I dodged behind her, trying to figure out where to blast. She blasted a high-powered Flames infront of her, but it was wrong. I drew my claw and dagger and slit her throat. She fell to the ground, dead. Seconds later the barrier vanished and my guys rushed in. A pale vision of Viranir appeared next to her corpse - a ghost. I picked up my bow. "Hmm..." She said, "Perhaps you were more powerful than I anticipated..." "Don't look so surprised. Did you really think I would just die? I think not," Viranir said, "I'm warning you now. Tamriel hasn't seen the last of me. And neither have you." And with that, she faded away. I looted her armor, because it looked cool! "Wow. That was intense," Damien said, "Guess I'm not as indispensable as I thought." "You did it! You actually did it! C'mon, we need to get back to Sialius and tell him what happened!" Balfhe said. We teleported to Windhelm. "Holy shit, you're back," Sialius said, "It's done?" I nodded. "I knew you could do it. All of Skyrim is in your debt. But the war is not over. They may be out of Skyrim, but they still hold most of southern Tamriel." "My thoughts exactly. Call everybody back in. I want to plan our next moves," I said. A few minutes later amidst hugs and cheers of joy from my family and friends, Balfhe, Sialius, Hrolf, Calleius, Agrippina, and pretty much all the Thanes and residents of the Palace of Kings, I called everyone to order. "So we won the war. We need to put out decrees, tell everyone. The Thalmor are pushed out of Skyrim, their forces shattered. I want to say it like this: Skyrim belongs to Freedom. So what's next?" I asked. "We celebrate!" One of the Stormcloaks shouted. Everyone cheered. There was a nationwide party once the word got out. For days the command group traveled around to each hold (Damien and me teleporting them) and handed out war aid, assigned men to help rebuild what'd been damaged, and generally drank and partied their way through the holds. We went to Whiterun first, and Serana and I peeled off. Baalgruf was sitting in the Jarl's seat. He said Vidnar was spending most his time in Jorrvaskr. When we walked in, it was pretty empty (accounting for the parade and feast going on outside). Vidnar smiled up at us. "Well, you made it through all this. I do believe a promise was uttered," I smiled. Serana gave me the sideeye, but she's already said she was going to follow through. "I have an um... weird request," Vidnar said. "What's that? I feel like I'm already doing a lot here," she folded her arms. "Could we do this in the Jarl's hall?" Serana shrugged, "Fine." Baalgruf was conveniently no longer present when we got there. I sat at the table. "You just going to watch?" Serana asked. "Yep," I replied, taking a drink of ale. "Something tells me you think this is hot," she said. "Maybe," I said back. When he finished, he said, "This old man can die happy." I patted him on the back, "Don't die yet. You'll want to hear what comes next." As we walked out, Serana asked, "What did that mean?" "I'm going to tell everyone at the same time. I feel like my royal decrees have been small so far, but this one is going to be big." We kept going. In Solitude, I visited Elisif and everything seemed a little unusual. I always get the feeling that she's really lonely. I keep telling myself I'm going to visit her more, but I'm always so busy. "Hey Serana, I'd like you to meet Elisif the Fair," I said. "I think... we've met, Dragonborn," Elisif said. "Not formally. Not in a friendly capacity. Elisif, this is Serana, queen of the Volkihar Vampires." She gave me the sideeye again, then she said, "Pleased to meet you." "Her castle isn't far from here. I think you guys should become friends," I said, awkwardly. "I mean, I can just teleport here from the telepads when we want to have lunch or something. I don't think she'd want to come to the Castle," Serana said, "They'd probably think she's a snack." Elisif grinned at the snack comment, which is exactly how to respond to it when she says it. Then she asked, "Are you inviting me to lunch?" Serana smirked, "Sure. That sounds lovely." Later Serana whispered to me, "Are you just pimping me out now?" "Maybe. But it's just a friend thing!" In Riften, the party continued, but we gave the Thieves Guild our condolences. "Buddy, sorry I wasn't able to come get you before we took back Riften," I said. "No worries, love," Delvin replied, "Ain't gonna bring 'er back. I hope you know we did make this occupation hell for them. And got quite a lot richer in the process. She'd have wanted it that way." "Argh! I miss being just a thief. I bet that was a lot of fun shaking down the Thalmor!" I said back. As a side note, Riften was now governed by Jarl Maven Black-Briar (which I already mentioned). Winterhold and Dawnstar hadn't really seen any of the damage, completely unchanged by the war. But I did have business there. I left the rest of my group to celebrate a little more while I talked to the mages, the shipwrights, and inquired about Innsmouth. Morthal was not extremely changed by the occupation. We still offered aid and celebration. The Thalmor took Morthal by sweeping in through the night and then when we took back Markarth and Falkreath, the Thalmor fled out of Morthal to reinforce other holds. Pretty much, a bloodless transition. As a result, Sorli the Builder hadn't been executed and she returned to her position as Jarl. Easy. Falkreath was still without a Jarl. We took the party there, gave heaps of aid and celebrated, helping rebuild. I put it down in my journal to find a new Jarl. Helgen hadn't been severely damaged (and wasn't a hold in itself). But since it lied close to my heart, I insisted we take the party there and give what little aid was needed. Marcus Jannus was happy to see his old war buddies and catch up. They also told him I'd killed Viranir. "I can't believe it. Valerius would be stunned. That woman kicked all our asses!" Marcus chuckled. It was night of the third day of traveling when we got there but the Helgenites didn't care. They danced in the streets with lights strung up. "It doesn't hurt that it's also nearly the new year. Only a couple weeks," Marcus said. Jura turned to Ulfric, "C'mon, I think we should pay our respects to Valerius' grave." While the others partied in the streets, I was curious, and being a woman of world-renowned stealth, I snuck out and perched on top of a building while they talked. They talked about Valerius and Marcus for a while, but then they got off subject. "So you think it's true?" Ulfric asked. "Seems that way. I was in Gilane around that time. And she looks so much like her mother. But with my hair and eyes," Jura replied. "Hmm... well. Nice work, I guess?" Ulfric replied. "Man, what are you talking about. You were always so awkward. I guess that means what else I was talking about is off the table. I only suggested because I know she's free-spirited, like me. But this would be too awkward," Jura said. "Oh, you mean, you and me? Like the old days?" Ulfric asked. Suddenly Jura turned toward the building I was perched on, and I ducked back into hiding. I was invisible though, so I was pretty sure they didn't see me. Jura nodded. Then Ulfric smiled a little bit, "That would be so awkward. I don't know how I would approach this." "I'll drop it for now. You think about it. I'm not a jealous person, and I'm sure, neither is she," Jura said. I slinked off back to the party, Ulfric and Jura returning a few minutes after I did. Ulfric stood next to me, handing me a drink just before he took a drink of his. I turned to him and stood on my toes, kissing him. He smiled, "What was that for?" "You remember what I said to you when we got together?" I asked. "What do you mean?" I didn't elaborate on the subject, then I said something else, "I think you and Jura should go ahead back to Windhelm. I'm going to stay here tonight. I'll get Damien to take you." I peered into his eyes. He looked confused for a second, then not sure if I'd figured out what their relationship had been. Then, I could tell he was debating saying anything explicitly. 'But why would she specifically say me and Jura?' I smiled, nodding slightly. It seemed to dispel his worry. He still looked confused, but then he said, "Well, sure. Anything else you need from me?" "If you wouldn't mind, could you call the moot? I have some big things I want to discuss with the Jarls." "Same people as before?" Ulfric asked. "Yeah, but we can have it at Highreach. In one week. Add Jura, the high council, and the command war party." (Spoiler: Gay Stuff) I walked over to Damien, who'd been drinking alone. "What's up kid?" "Well Runa and Fenrir have dates. I'm not sure if Meru decided I was too uninteresting to keep bothering. But whatever. I stole a boatload of books and scrolls from Viranir's private stash and I'm going to read and learn. Maybe go back to the College and do that tonight," he replied. "Well, good. Would you mind taking Ulfric and Jura back to Windhelm before you go do that?" "Heh, old guys tired of the several day long party?" Damien chuckled, "Sure." I walked over to Runa, who was dazzling a group of soldiers from both sides (Imperial and Stormcloak) with her huge greatsword. I peered over to Calleius who'd been stuck to her all night. I whispered to him, "You really like her, don't you?" "Why yes, I do, ma'am. But we're only still getting to know each other," Calleius replied. I gave him an icy glare, "Don't forget, she's my baby girl and you better not hurt her. Otherwise, be safe." Calleius shivered a bit, "Yes, ma'am!" I walked over to Fenrir, but this time I faded into the crowd. I could tell him and Agrippina were deep in conversation. "All I'm saying is, you don't have to go back to Cyrodiil just yet," he said. "It's my home," she replied, "I go where the knowledge and money is." "The College of Winterhold is in Skyrim. You could go there." "Still," she sighed, "If there's any chance of paying off my parents debts, I need to do it in Cyrodiil so I can set them free." Fenrir shook his head, "You know I can help you with that." "But then I'd be beholden to you!" She clenched her fists, "I need to get out from under everybody else." "Let me give you a loan. No interest. You buy your parents' freedom. You go back to Cyrodiil and spend time with them. You earn your money in Cyrodiil, and come back here when you want to see me again, and pay me back. How much is it?" "6000 Septims," Agrippina replied. "Six thou~!" He started, but then he took out a big bag of coins, "Shor's bones! What did they do, kill six people?" She smiled and grabbed the bag, both of them holding it now. "Just give me one day in Windhelm, away from all these people," he said. Agrippina seemed to think about it for a second, then she said, "Okay." I have a feeling he's never going to see that woman again. And then we all went back to our respective homes for a little bit. In the intervening week, Serana and Ulfric both approached me for my usual wifely duties, several times. It looked like both of them wanted this to be like a honeymoon. She'd been staying in Windhelm, and the two of them had sex with each other a few times. After several rebuffed attempts, Serana caught me in the Jarl's throneroom as Ulfric was finishing up court business. She asked me again, "Hey, do you wanna have sex now?" I said, "Oh, no... you guys go ahead." She narrowed her eyes at me, "What's going on here?" "What do you mean?" I asked. "You used to love sex. It's been ages. You keep pushing the both of us onto other people or each other," Serana motioned to Ulfric. "Tell me how I can help," Ulfric said. Serana continued, "I feel like... you haven't wanted to have sex since..." "Oh," she covered her mouth, "What did they do to you in there?" I closed my eyes, "I told you before, I don't want to talk about it." "But you must realize you need to do something to heal from this. Was it the poison? Damien said it would kill any normal person, through excruciating pain." "Please..." I started, and I could feel water flowing from my eyes, "Not today." They held me in their arms as I sobbed. "Would you like to try something... hands off? Do you want to watch us?" She asked. "...Okay," I said. So we went up to Ulfric's room and they had their fun. I got aroused, but I didn't want anything to touch me there... still. I even touched some. I helped them both get off. But that was all I could muster for now. After a week, just a couple days before New Years, the moot was called to order at Highreach, outside on the plaza. "First, I call this second moot of 4E 210 in Skyrim to order," I said. "Should we change the calendar?" Elisif asked. "First point of the moot. Yes, I motion that at the beginning of the new year we advance Skyrim's calendar to 4E 216 to match the rest of Tamriel's calendar," I said. Mostly ayes. It passed. "There's a lot to discuss," I said, "First of all, in the absence of a formal vote, I appointed Jarl Maven Black-Briar to replace Jarl Laila Law-Giver. I motion to make this official." Mostly ayes, and it passed. "Vidnar has formally renounced his title, as Jarl of Whiterun, as discussed in the last moot. I motion to reinstate Baalgruuf the Greater officially the Jarl of Whiterun." Unanimous ayes. "Following the death of both Siddgeir and Dengeir of Falkreath, there is no replacement for Jarl as of yet. In the interim, General Jura of Hammerfell has been directing the rebuilding." "Rebuilding is complete," Jura said, "I can stay on as interim Jarl if you wish, but I have no desire to make it my permanent job." "If anyone has any suggestions," I said, "We'll discuss." We discussed it for a solid half hour, nobody really coming up with a definitive answer. "For now, let's move on," Ulfric said. "Side note: I motion we officially declare our independence from the Cyrodiilic Empire, but any refugees from Cyrodiil, or any citizens from High Rock or Hammerfell are allowed to pass through our borders. I feel this will open up trade and foster relationships between our peoples." Mostly ayes. Another pass. "Okay, all the easy stuff out of the way," I said. I made sure I had Thongvar Silver-Blood, Igmund and Madanach in my field of vision as I said this, "I've appointed Madanach, leader of the Forsworn as the Jarl of Markarth. This is a variation on what was discussed at the last moot, but I found it was the best, most stable way to ensure the Forsworn come into our society. Also, Madanach has proven to be an excellent leader. I'm not going to put this to a vote unless it's going to pass. Does anybody have any qualms with this being a permanent appointment?" Igmund started to speak, and Thongvar cut him off rudely, "I had my doubts that you'd be able to convince the Forsworn to work with us. But they were instrumental in taking back Markarth. I had my doubts that your new Jarl would actually govern the Reach effectively. But then I saw him in action. And then I remembered - he governed the Reach as an independent country for years. I had my doubts that you making Cidhna Mine a free mine was the best move. But truth be told, we actually get more silver out of that mine than we used to, because people get bonuses. Of course, we have to pay the workers some of that, but it ends up being more overall." "Thinking about this all," Thongvar folded his arms, "You really do know what the hell you're doing here. And anybody who disagrees with this decree is going to have to answer to me." There were mutterings of assent and agreement. After a minute, I nearly made started the vote, and Igmund said, "I challenge Madanach for right to the Jarl's throne by way of combat." I could see Madanach start to grin. "Alright," Ulfric said, "Give them some room. I guess we'll do it right here." Igmund drew his sword, and Madanach summoned a Frost Atronach, readying a ward and drawing his axe. "You might not know this, but I've fought all my life. I'm a shaman and a warrior," Madanach said, "You've been sitting in your palace most of yours." Igmund seemed to shrivel at that, "Wait. Wait. I give up. You can have the Jarldom." "After what you did to the Forsworn when you took back Markarth you're lucky I'm letting you go back on your challenge," Madanach said, putting his axe away. But when Madanach had dismissed his Atronach, and turned away, Igmund took something out of his pocket. He raised his arm. "TIID!" I appeared in front of Igmund, moving faster than his eyes could see. "What the fuck are you doing?" I gave him a withering gaze, an inch from his face. "Nothing, nothing!" He shook. He tried to put it away, but I grabbed his wrist. "Ow! Talos' beard you're strong for a woman!" Igmund said. Standing there with his wrist in my hand, I said, "I motion to appoint Madanach Jarl of the Reach." All ayes. "Now," I continued, "What's this in your hand, that you're trying to threaten your Jarl with?" Igmund didn't say anything. I grabbed it out of his hand and tossed it to Runa. She sniffed it, "It's poison." "Poison, huh? What'd you think we would do, invite you to be Jarl again? The conquering hero gets his damn chair back? Well it doesn't work that way," I said. "That man doesn't deserve to be Jarl. They're all savages! They'll turn against us someday!" Igmund looked at me like he wanted to strike me, kill me or something else, but my reputation and what I'd just done made him shrink back. "Guards! Take him away," I looked at Ulfric, "The penalty for attempting to assassinate a Jarl?" Ulfric shook his head. A long time ago they'd been friends. But Igmund had fallen low in this new age. Ulfric replied, "By order of the High King, the prisoner is to be put to death." Balfhe and Hrolf grabbed him and dragged him off, handing him to two Solitude guards, him shouting all the way. After the air cleared a bit, Madanach stepped up to the center and said, "I hope this doesn't tarnish my time in this group. I appreciate what Thongvar said. I am doing my utmost to provide for the people of the Reach., and the people of Skyrim. I owe my undying loyalty to Queen Destana. I will never betray this country." I took a deep breath and let it out. "Believe it or not, that was not the most controversial thing I'm going to put to the moot today. Maybe," I said, "Last point, as far as I'm concerned. We won the war against the Thalmor." Generally there were positive responses to this and everyone wondered where this was going. "We are strong, like I said we needed to be. We have the Forsworn. The Giants are helping with the defense of Skyrim. The dragons have established a pecking order and they even helped defend Falkreath." I continued, "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.
  2. Hey, it's Destana again. I was captured for a while (3 months for me, 3 days for everyone else). 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 helping us in the war. General Sialius is here, helping direct the fight. We lost Riften, Falkreath, Morthal, Markarth and Helgen (and all associated forts). But we won at Whiterun with two dragons. Then we used the elves' own magic against them (thanks to my genius son Damien, who grew horns) using a combination of Stormcloaks, Imperials, Forsworn, and my own stealthy assault to take back Markarth. We talked about a deal with Hammerfell. Before General Sialius left, he said, "We're going to continue the campaign and reclaim Falkreath tomorrow. Damien said he's ready. But our soldiers need to rest." Hrolf had said after the battle he had more work for me, so I headed to Solitude with Fenrir and Runa (Serana had vampire business to attend to). When we got there, Damien and Hrolf were making small talk. "Oh, hey Destana," Hrolf said, "I have an idea concerning this possible alliance. A little while back Hammerfell sent us a letter asking for help in dealing with a certain problem that's beyond their reach. Seems that before the Dominion withdrew from Hammerfell, one Thalmor officer named Ortranil comitted a number of atrocities against civilians. Sadly, he was never brought to justice. Infact, he how captains a scouting vessel, the Wizard's Whisper. Coincidentally, some fisherman off a village called Innsmouth reported seeing that vessel trapped in ice north of the coast. You see where I'm going with this?" "I get it," I said. "Leave no witnesses. Not a single one," he replied, "Speak with Gorth the Well Spoken on the northern coast between Innsmouth and Dawnstar." "Who's coming?" I asked. Runa and Fenrir nodded, like, 'Of course we're coming.' "I'll come this time. It's been a while since I went on a proper adventure," Damien said. "Cool. Ever heard of Innsmouth?" I asked. "Nope. Maybe it's a new village," Damien replied. We split the teleportation to Dawnstar, hopped in small boats and traveled down the coast. Not a long way. Down the coast was the unknown village of Innsmouth. When we reached the boats, they were shoddily moored at posts (no docks to speak of). Strange Ice Giant-like men (but in blue crystal armor) moved loaded boxes onto ships. Didn't know the seafarers up here were so friendly with the giants. I approached Gorth the Well-Spoken and said, "Did you spot the Thalmor ship? Can you take me to it?" He grumbled something incomprehensible and then said, "Let's go." It seemed like no time and we we making icefall. Runa and Fenrir leapt off the boat while Damien and I stayed up and fired spells at the ship. We fought and won, then we scoured the ship for more Thalmor. They never saw it coming. I went into the hold and found a bunch of naked Khajiits. Two of them were fucking. Okay. I left them to do their business. We teleported back to Solitude and reported completion. He sent us to kill some Draugr after that - which was easy. Damien went back to Solitude to report completion and the rest of us went back to Windhelm. We'd made a lot of progress in the remainder of the day after the Hammerfell meeting. For the first time in a while I decided I would sleep with the rest of the world and wake for the battle. I got up very early, before dawn. "So they made you High King, eh?" "Jura! I saw you with the delegation. How have you been? It's been years. Been since the Battle of the Red Ring." "Too bad you didn't stick around for Part 2 in Hammerfell. Valerius Artora and his guys came and lended a hand," General Jura replied. "I heard he was living in Helgen. Sadly, killed by Thalmor. But Destana killed that cell," Ulfric said. "I see you also have General Sialius, Commander Balfhe and Commander Hrolf on your side in this fight. It's a regular reunion of the last Great War. Some of the best military minds here. In Hammerfell we're calling this the 'Second Great War," Jura said. "It would all be for nothing if not for the Dragonborn on our side. Making this possible against the damned elves and their overwhelming numbers and their damned magics." "She's your queen too. She's really something. Heard a lot about her," Jura folded his arms, his expression a mix of stoic and judging his friend's reaction. "Destana is a force of nature. She reminds me of you in the old days - you know how we would sneak off and tackle ruins while the other men slept? And that one time we brought some others you swept through that Ayelid Ruin filled with ghosts like a wildfire, leaving the rest of us in the dust? She does that with our Ancient Nord ruins with the draugr. She dragged me along a few times and damn. She was the one who convinced the Jarls to moot. She was the one who finally cemented me in this position. And she forced me to marry her. Not that I would argue with that woman. Beautiful too," Ulfric explained. Jura raised an eyebrow, then calmly said, "Really? I do remember you were pretty 'fond' of me. You're attracted to power, aren't you?" Ulfric grinned, "I always feel like I need someone to challenge me to get better. But that was ancient history. But she's a big believer in free love, just like you were." "I heard she's also with some vampire princess," Jura replied. I stepped in through the side door, "I heard my name a couple times. You guys talking about me?" "Yeah. Mostly about how amazing you are," Ulfric replied. "I thought you were heading back to Hammerfell," I said to Jura. "I took the diplomats to the border, and I heard about how you swept through Markarth, and how you got rid of that Thalmor ship for us. By the way, those Khajiit slaves stole the ship, currently in High Rock somewhere. I figured you were probably going to go after Falkreath next. And I asked the Alik'r if any of them wanted to come back with me and help out. Naturally, about half of them wanted a chance to see some real action with me, and you." I nodded, "Glad to have you." The kids and been gathering around as we talked, so I started. "This one's not going to be the same as the others. It's not a completely walled city. We're going to sweep through in multiple directions, just like the Thalmor did," I said, leading everyone to the map room, "We have men positioned from the east, ready to attack. Our group, and the Alik'r are going to storm the main entryway to the west." "Our old sanctuary is just outside Falkreath. It got refurbished. Want some of my guys to soften up the Thalmor commanders?" Runa asked. "Sounds good. Coordinate with them to take out a few targets just before we arrive," I stamped my hand on the table, "This is going to be another sweep. We can save Damien's magic for Riften." I teleported the group to a town down the road to the west of Falkreath (and had to make another trip for the ten Alik'r), Runa peeling off to the Sanctuary to give some orders. We carried on down the road while she prepared. On the road, still clear out of range of the city, we found a Thalmor patrol, so we hid to the side. "Do you use stealth a lot?" Jura asked. "Often, yes." "I'm just used to wading in, spells blazing, sword swinging," Jura replied. Before they reached us, though, a Giant and Giantess burst from the forest and started to completely level the group. We stepped up and helped out. These were giants I'd never met before, but the Giant turned to me and bowed his head, "You Des.. Dest..." "Destana," I said. "We here, fight battle," the Giantess said. Jura smiled big, "You're friends with the Giants?" "Mom's friends with everybody, eventually," Fenrir slapped Jura on the back, "Or they end up dead if they try and mess with her." "Well then, follow me to the city!" I smirked. In little time, it was ready to start the assault. Still before dawn. I heard several yells, signaling Dark Brotherhood arrows hit their marks, or daggers as the case may be. "Charge!" I shouted, the Alik'r and my kids on my heels. The giants tore open the gates and we waded in. The Stormcloaks entered the city from the east at the same time. Though planned, this was much more chaotic. Small pockets of fighting broke out throughout the town. Townspeople rose up with us and stabbed their Thalmor occupiers in the back. A pocket of Thalmor gathered between a building and farm to the north, peppering us with attacks. Seconds later I heard a mighty roar from the sky. "Dovakiin! Dova Aav Kiin!" Oh gods, now is not the time. "Paarthurnax sends his best!" The dragon shouted, and blasted the pocket of elves with a cone of flame. I smiled as my brain did the legwork. He said, "The dragons join the war." Runa, Fenrir and Jura were all taking on groups of Thalmor by themselves, the Stormcloaks still fighting the major force at the east end. I alternated healing and buffing, sending arrows to every enemy I could. As the Thalmor broke, Stormcloaks flooded in, and I noted Imperial Legionnaires sprinkled amongst them, now unabashedly working together. In only moments, the battle was over. This town, made of mostly wood, was now on fire. The Alik'r, Stormcloaks, Imperials, and mine all pitched together to put out fires. "Wait..." I suddenly said. "STRUN - BAH - QO!" I shouted, the skies filling with clouds, rain beginning to pour. Jura smiled at me (only a little), "I've heard about the power of the Dragonborn. Most impressive." "Well that sounded genuine. Nothing really affects you does it?" I smirked. "I'm 60. Seen four large scale wars. Probably killed ten thousand monsters," he smirked back. "Well, maybe this will move you," I said, "The Dead Man's Drink looks like it's relatively undamaged. Drinks are on me." I bid the giants and dragon farewell, and we walked in. Unfortunately, the barkeep seemed to have flown the coop while the Thalmor were occupying. Door unlocked, but nobody home. I hopped behind the bar and noticed the whole army was starting to file in. "So what're you drinking? Nevermind. They seem to only have Ale." I started serving up to everyone and I left a large sack of coins in the lockbox when we were done. After a couple hours, the men were mostly returning to their duties, leaving the area. Runa, Fenrir, Jura and I sat around a small table in the middle of the room. "You've been around," I said, "Care to tell me about some of your adventures?" "I've been all over. Spent my early years in Hammerfell. Joined the Legion, fought in the Great War. Helped reconcile the Crowns and Forebears. After I semi-retired, I went north and helped High Rock with some of their problems (mostly monster hunting) and was made an honorary knight. Spent a few years in Skyrim (that's where I got the dragonbone for my armor, dragons were nearly extinct in the old days) then traveled around Morrowind, Black Marsh and Elswyer before I returned home and took a desk job with the Hammerfell military. I get called (or I take it upon myself) from time to time to handle the random problem, like this fight here." "So you're itching to get out and do things, that's why you helped us?" Runa asked. "I do get bored being behind a desk," Jura replied. "We're all pretty well-traveled in Skyrim here," Fenrir said, "Runa's been to Cyrodiil for a few years." "Not great down there right now," Jura said. From there the conversation seemed to deflate. After a while, I decided I would ask. "Tell me, General Jura," I took a long drink of ale, then continued, "Around the end of 181, were you in Gilane, in Hammerfell?" "Hmm..." He stroked his chin, "That was a couple years after second Stros M'Kai. I think I might've been." "Ever meet a woman named Ronona?" "Hmm..." He thought, almost like a growl, "It was a long time ago. But I remember, at the time I was a Commander and we were moving troops through there to patrol the southern border. Ronona was a barmaid, but she also helped with the local garrison. Not really a high ranking person, but she was very good with bows. Showed me a thing or two at the time. We were only there for a couple weeks while we resupplied. But yes, I knew her. I went back about 20 years ago (195), but she'd passed." The kids were silently listening, not sure what to make of this, but forming their own opinions. "Yeah, I'd already started living on the ship by then," I replied. Jura stared at me for long moments, he started to say something, but I cut him off. "By the look in your eye you may be thinking what I'm thinking. Ronona was my mother. The hair, the eyes. You and I look the same. And you were there in 181. You know, I never met my father. My mom said he was killed in the Hammerfell civil war after second Stros M'Kai, but I've read something like a thousand books. From what I can gather, the ongoing civil war in Hammerfell ended because of the cooperation in the Great War, and it wouldn't have been possible for him to have been killed by a war in that timeframe. Has your hair always been that color?" "Since the day I was born. Not all my brothers and sisters have it, but they always said I was special. I never really took much stock in destiny," Jura replied. "Given the facts, I'm starting to wonder, are you my father?" "Probably," he chuckled. I smiled, "You're not very sentimental, are you?" "I wager I have quite a few crotch spawn running around. I've already met a few," he said, and finally he cracked a bit of a smile, "But by far, you seem to be the best one. So what, do you want me to give you about 33 years worth of allowance?" "Thirty three..?" I chuckled, "Oh yeah, it's 215 out there. We should really think about getting the dates changed in our calendars in Skyrim. I'm only 29." Then I shook my head to his earlier question, "I have plenty of money. You seem like you've seen a thing or two. I'd like the chance to get to know you is all." Runa got up, pulling Fenrir to his feet, "I think this is a private conversation." "No, no. It's fine," Jura said, "I guess this means I need to learn about your kids as well. Well, that's fine. I can shirk my desk job for a good while. First thing, I gotta ask. What is with the shirtless thing?" I smirked, "Of all the things you could ask. A few reasons. I brought peace between the Forsworn and Nords in Skyrim's side of the Reach. I joined them and I wear this to show that. A lot of the females go topless." "Yeah, but you're a warrior. Aren't you worried about getting gutted?" He asked. "I have a few things going for me. Suffice to say, my skin is hard as iron and armor only slows me down. Also, it's kind of like the berserker thing. It either distracts or freaks people out. At least, that's the theory," I explained. We passed a few hours there, drinking to contentment (nobody ever came back to tend the bar). We learned a lot about Jura's many exploits and adventures, but he told his tales without boast or hyperbole. Just the facts. He also learned about all I'd accomplished in my time in Skyrim. When we were about to leave for Windhelm, I mused, "You know, the Thalmor have been executing the Jarls in these cities. We were able to save Madanach and replant him in Markarth, and I don't feel like Riften is going to be a problem, but Falkreath had Siddgeir and Dengeir. Both were living here and both were killed. I'm not sure who I would install as the new Jarl here." "If its not too unusual for me to say so," General Jura said, "Technically, this could be counted as aid from Hammerfell. I could stay and help them rebuild until you find a new Jarl. I'd say the locals might not take too kindly to that, but they do have a Redguard queen." I nodded, "That would work. You have a lot of experience with leading. Also, if the Thalmor do come back, you can lead the defense." I called a town meeting and told the locals Jura would be the interim, and I emphasized not permanent, Jarl. They seemed fine with it, especially since there was a lot of rebuilding to be done and Jura immediately went outside and started working. We traveled back to Windhelm and relaxed for a while, slept for the night. And in the morning, Balfhe woke us up and told us the Dominion was striking back at Falkreath. We teleported in and I found the same dragon perching on one of the parapets. "Still watching over the town?" "Ah, dovahkiin! Yes, I am," he replied. "Thank you!" I shouted. There's... not a lot to say. This attack was desperate, their forces smaller. We mainly utilized the troops that'd been quartered there from the night before. Between General Jura already having established a local defense and the dragon helping, it mostly amounted to me running around shooting elves with my bow. Project 14_03-02-2022_14-21-15-871.mp4 Anyway, we blew them out. Jura came back with us to Windhelm, and Balfhe immediately gave us more news. "After that defeat, the Thalmor sent a letter via courier. They're desperate." "What did they want?" I asked. "They want to discuss a truce," Balfhe said. "Heh, a truce. Funny," I said. "Apparently they want to end the war," Balfhe said. "Just like Hammerfell," Jura chuckled. "The Dominion are many things, but they aren't stupid. They know when they're beaten. This seems like a last ditch effort to maintain some dignity," Balfhe explained, "I have no doubt they'll spin the story differently in their territory but as long as the war is over I don't really care. You should attend the negotiations. The Dominion fear you. It'll give us an advantage. They're coming to us for the negotiations, which means we're the ones with the bargaining power." "This is probably a trap," I said. "It's under a peace banner. Even the Dominion respect that tradition," Balfhe said. I looked over to the map, "Well they're not coming to us physically. Fort Greenwell is one of their only held locations, along with Shor's Stone and Riften." "Oh hey we got Helgen back," I said. Jura nodded, "Yeah, Marcus Jannus told me all about it. He came to Falkreath when he heard I was heading up the rebuilding. His boys were driven out by a small force that peeled off the Riften attack, and they retreated to the caves below Helgen Keep, and some of them your private tower. When we took back Falkreath, the Dominion took their soldiers from Helgen to strike back at us. And the Helgenites seized the opportunity to take Helgen back. Total win. He told me you helped rebuild. The people of this land really respect you." I smirked, "Thanks." "I'm coming. This is definitely a trap," Jura said to Balfhe. The group walked towards the door with me and I got ready to teleport to Shor's Stone. "Mom, you're probably right," Fenrir said, "Probably a trap." We all nodded, and I finished the teleport. A large group of armed people materializing in would scare the mightiest warriors, and the occupying Thalmor kept their hands on their weapons, but we outnumbered them and they let us pass. We traveled to Fort Greenwell. Thalmor everywhere. We made our way to a common area. We were joined by our mixed soldiers and a Stormcloak commander. I approached the Thalmor commander. "Hey, you're Mithlian aren't you? Current governor of Riften," I asked. He nodded, "The woman herself comes to greet me. I'm honored. Shall we begin?" "Sure." "Very good," he replied. The Stormcloak commander said, "Greetings. Let everyone know that the terms of the peace banner are in effect." Mithlian had been slowly walking around the table. He said, "Yes, yes. Of course. I must say, you have quite a few guards. A reasonable man would be suspicious." "The same could be said for you. Are you ready to start?" The stormcloak asked. "Indeed we are. Are all of your men present?" Mithlian asked. "Yes, are yours?" "More than you know..." Mithlian replied, smirking. "What do you mean~" The commander said. And a dozen Thalmor assassins appeared from invisibility, swinging at us. "FUS!" Runa blasted several assassins to their knees. "FUS - RO - DAH!" I turned to my assassin, blasting him away, and as a bonus, blasted Mithlian against the wall behind him. Of course, I had two assassins to myself and the other one dodged and started swinging on me. Everyone drew weapons and a classic melee ensued. After we cleared the room we went through the whole fort, destroying them. We rushed to the exit, Fenrir and I reaching the door guards first and while he distracted them, I backstabbed the first one. Jura, Runa and Fenrir took down the other. When we got to the exit door, Thalmor from outside filed in one by one and were cut down by us. I swung down to the prison and let out their one captive - a single Stormcloak. We met up in the common room again to loot the elves. The commander said, "Those bastards. You should get back to Windhelm and inform Balfhe. We'll secure the fort." I smirked - a Stormcloak man and Imperial woman were 'celebrating' in the corner. So I teleported us back. "We were deceived," I said to Balfhe, "Told you so." Balfhe sighed, "How?" "They attacked us during the meeting," I replied. "Godsdammit. I should have known better than to trust them." "Especially since I told you not to!" I said. "Under a peace banner too! It was naïve of me to think they would honor such an agreement," Balfhe continued. "Especially since all of us said it was a trap," Fenrir said. "Yep," Jura said. "Well, they're going to burn in Oblivion, if they weren't already," Balfhe said, "At least we know they're desperate. We just need to keep pushing." "We're agreed on that!" I said.
  3. 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, Stormblade." "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." Hiding. Right. "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."
  4. It's Destana. Damien was poring over stacks and stacks of notes. "Did you... go back in the Fort?" Serana asked. "Yes. Everything inside is dead. Some kind of poison. I tested it, and it wasn't anything from this world. Different from Solaire's world, or any of the beasts I've seen yet. I may consult a professional Alchemist to figure this out. From my testing on Skeevers, proximity makes them hypersexual, contact usually paralyzes them, causes excruciating pain, then death. I'm not sure what this alien substance is, but it is powerful. I was just digging into the notes left in that place, want to help me?" Damien handed her a stack. Serana sighed, "I'm just glad she's okay. Pretty amazing how you found her." "It was a fluke. I'm not that powerful most of the time," Damien replied. Then he thought, 'Not going to be able to do that many more times before some Daedra takes an interest in me. Dad spent so much time in Nirn he can't really come here for the next century or so. So no protection for me.' "Besides, I don't know that she's okay," he continued, "From what I'm reading, and the Chronological displacement I sensed, that fort was displaced. More time passing inside. She may have been in there for months, when it was only a few days for us." He flipped through the notes, "The Thalmor have been really leaning into their research of dimensions and time." I just laid there, listening, not feeling like I had anything to add to this. Could I move? Probably. Damien lifted up my foot, "You can see where they tried cutting her tendons. Achilles, knee, elbow. And they drew gallons of blood every day. Numerous abrasions, scars, they ripped off her fingernails. They slashed her through the left eye. But because she's a VL, or from being a werewolf, or the Dragonborn, or a score of other things, she regenerated from everything they did to her. Some of it is still healing, but it'll heal." "What about the old scars?" Serana asked. "Those were from when she was human - before she even came into her power as a Dragonborn," he replied, "They'll never heal." "Furthermore," he continued, "That poison is so painful I'm certain the Skeevers died from pain, if that's possible. Even if she did survive months of this treatment, this poison would destroy anyone. I... don't know how she survived. I wonder what it would do to a Daedra." "Turn you into Hermaeus Mora?" I asked flatly. They just looked at me for a few seconds. Damien looked at Serana, "Can you understand what she's saying?" The look on her face... pure anguish. She covered her face, starting to cry. Guess I won't talk anymore. I touched her on the leg. She grabbed my hand, uncovering her teary, beautiful red eyes. Damien put his hand on Serana's shoulder, "Listen. Don't worry about her. She's going to pull through." Serana took a deep breath and then said, "But what kind of world is she going to come back to? We lost Morthal and Markarth. We're about to be without a home." "We can always go to Cyrodiil," Runa said from the doorway, "The Brotherhood has a presence there. Or maybe Hammerfell." Fenrir and Ulfric passed Runa. Ulfric rested his head on my lap, "We need to get those bastards. Look what they did to her!" Damien was still shuffling pages, "So that's how they were moving so many troops so fast." "How?" Fenrir asked. "It's all right here. They were using time manipulation. Forces massed at the border are getting replenished via teleportation from Elswyer, Summerset and Valenwood via switch points through Cyrodiil (teleportation does have a maximum range based on your level of power and number of targets). Then every four or five contingents has a chronomancer, which they use to move huge masses of troops to their destinations in Skyrim. But there are only six chronomancers, so their strategy is to retreat once the force is in place. Still, one of them died at Riften, by mom's hand. One died in Markarth, shot by Fen. One was assassinated by the Brotherhood on our contract by simple dumb luck. And the fourth was killed by... Bandits? Seriously? No, this description. A man in a long flowing wig, another in a hooded cowl and several more in leather armor. Strange." That's the Thieves' Guild, I thought. "So that leaves us with two?" Runa asked. Certainly, my daughter was thinking what I was thinking. To find and kill the other two. "But! Moving such a large force requires magicka batteries," Damien continued. Then he reached for his bag and dumped out all the batteries that'd been filled in my little tentacle excursion. And Damien started to chuckle. "What are you thinking, brother?" Fenrir asked. "I'm thinking I know enough about chronomancy, and I have books on books of procedures right here telling how the Thalmor are doing this. And I have a LOT of magicka batteries. Tell me, where do you think they're going to attack next?" "Solitude," Ulfric said. "No," Fenrir retorted, "If they have two more, and the batteries they originally planned on using, I bet they'll converge on Whiterun. Windhelm and Solitude are candidates for the soul of Skyrim, but Whiterun sits at its heart. Break our spirits. Break Skyrim." “Even if they do have some of the Time Magic left, we reasonably have a couple days to prepare,” Serana said. I stood, and everybody silently looked at me. I rifled through my things that Damien had found. I started putting on my Forsworn clothes. “Honey, what are you doing?” Serana asked, putting her hand on my fur skirt. I pulled it away from her, putting it on. “I think she wants to help,” Damien said. I put my finger up, showing them, yes, but wait. Then I formed a mountain with my hands. “Going to High Hrothgar?” Ulfric asked. I nodded. “At least let someone go with you,” Serana said. I pursed my lips, then I nodded again. I pointed to Runa. Serana tilted her head. I’m sure she was thinking, ‘Why not me?’ But also being careful not to make this about her. She smiled, “Be safe.” I hugged her, teleporting Runa and I to Riverwood. Then we made the long climb to High Hrothgar. Arngeir was sitting in the main room, looking at the statues when we walked in. “Dragonborn. What brings you here?” He asked. Runa replied, “She’s been through a lot. I think she wanted to come here to clear her head. Or maybe… something with shouts. When she speaks… we can’t seem to understand what she’s saying.” “Hmm…” Arngeir scratched his beard, “Say something.” “I’m a meat popsicle,” I said back. “Interesting. Try an Unrelenting Force for me,” Arngeir said. “FUS!” I said. At least, it sounded to me like the tried-and-true word I knew well. But it did nothing. “Come. Sit with me. I will meditate with you,” Arngeir said. Then he looked up at Runa, “You’re free to bother the other Graybeards for advice with your voice, but please leave me be with the Dragonborn.” Runa nodded and walked out. We sat there for a while, trying various voices. But my shouts didn’t work. My beast calls didn’t work. He sat there for what seemed like hours, just watching me. Finally, he said, “A dragon’s, and thus, dragonborn’s Voice comes from the soul. It seems to me the encounter you had with this creature may have been damaging to your soul. Perhaps when it kills its victims it steals their soul as well – but yours is different. A normal mortal would be dead, and you might well have been dead after repeated encounters.” Arngeir stood, “I believe I have reached the limits of my ability. You must go see Paarthurnax. I will explain to Runa, who can explain to him.” Runa and I made the trek up to the peak of the mountain. Dragons circled overhead, but Paarthurnax perched at his normal place. “Aaah! Dovakiin! What brings you to this windy peak?” He asked. “She’s lost her voice. Arngeir said something about her soul being damaged,” Runa explained. Paar blinked and stared at me for a moment, “Yes, it appears so. Hold, Dovakiin. And listen to my words.” “VOKRII!” He shouted at me, his dragon breath blasting me in the face. We paused there for a second. “Did it work?” I asked. Runa looked at Paarthurnax, “Still gibberish.” “Intriguing, most intriguing.” “What’s that?” Runa asked. “I can now understand her perfectly. She asked if it worked,” Paarthurnax said. “That’s a start,” I said. “Perhaps, dovakiin, you should return to your old devices and it will return naturally. I believe your dragon soul has begun the healing process,” Paarthurnax said. I sighed, “That’s the most comforting thing I’ve heard. While I’m here could I~” Paarthurnax cut me off, “I thought you’d never ask. I’d love to parley with my favorite mortal.” I smirked, “So I noticed the dragon attacks have nearly stopped.” “Yes. There are a few outliers. But I believe the remaining dragons have come under my sway. They have accepted the Way of the Voice,” Paarthurnax said. “Well, we’re kind of in a real bind down there,” I said. “Yes, the Thalmor have made themselves quite unwelcome on this part of the continent,” Paarthurnax replied, “And I imagine if Skyrim falls, they’ll begin to hunt us, even if we have finally embraced peace. Tiiraaz.” “I agree. Something’s going to be done about this. You have my word,” I clenched my fist. Runa and I came down off the mountain, heading back to Windhelm. We spotted Fenrir and Serana, talking in the plaza near the Talos statue, and they rushed over. “Someone do something!” A woman shouted, and people started to get out their bows. I turned to find a revered dragon raining down fire on the city. With a smirk, I pulled out the Nerevarine’s Bow, but Fenrir was already Machine-Bolting the thing with his Dwarven Polybolos. The thing hit the ground in seconds, wasted. I blinked, and Fenrir smiled, “They’re going to think twice when they see this thing.” It started the normal disintegration process, and the dragon soul flowed into me, as it always had. I could hear the chanting and beating of drums, and it was familiar. It made my heart swell. Maybe there was a shot for us to win this thing. And maybe I could be fixed. I looked over to Serana, who was wearing one of the dresses I’d given her. She usually reverted to her Vampire Armor, and it made me smile. “Somebody looks a little better,” Serana said. As we walked inside, Ulfric came over (not in his armor, I might add), hugging and kissing me, “If I were a little younger and still strong like in my heyday… maybe I could go out on all these adventures with you.” “You know, I could just make you into a vampire,” Serana smirked. Ulfric blinked, then chuckled, like he actually considered it for a minute, “I don’t think Skyrim would accept a vampire king.” “That’s the only thing stopping you?” Runa asked. Ulfric chuckled, “Clearly you’ve never gotten old.” “I know this is pretty morbid, but have you ever thought about what happens if you die?” Serana asked as we walked back over to the throne. “Destana will take over,” he replied, “At this point I handle the day-to-day government and she mostly travels around making wild decrees and handles the military.” “What if she’s going on adventures?” Serana asked back. “Well, I imagine my son can fill the role. One day he’ll be the High King for real.” “Fenrir?” Runa asked, looking at him. “No, my other son. From my secret family,” Ulfric smirked, then he laughed, “Of course! Fenrir Stormcloak.” A Synod mage stepped up to our conversation. She asked, "Fenrir?" "Hey Agrippina! I wasn't sure if I was going to see you again. You ran off after..." He avoided the subject and I immediately knew what he was thinking. I eyed her with only the look a mother can have, and even without saying anything, the girl knew I was being judgmental of her. She shrugged off my icy look and said to him, "Sorry, I was nervous. Now I hear you're going to be king someday... and I feel like that was not the best way to approach royalty. But anyway, my boss, the man I'm apprenticed to, Panthius, has asked me to approach you again for more help." "What is it?" Fenrir asked. "Some of the Synod mages took staves and artifacts and ran. They said they were going to sell them to the Dominion for amnesty," she said. He put his hand on her shoulder, "You were right to come to me." I smiled at the kid, looking the hero. He turned to us, "Who's coming with? I probably can't handle a bunch of casters my own." "I dunno, that crossbow could probably win the war for us," Serana smiled. Fenrir laughed, and I raised my hand. There were a few doubting looks, but then Runa said, "Paarthurnax said she should keep doing what she does and peace will come back to her." Ulfric scratched his head, "Well if the Graybeards' leader says she's alright..." "Be careful," Serana hugged me again. We headed to the lake where they were supposedly going to meet - in the mountains south of Windhelm. It was dark by the time we arrived. After walking around a few minutes, we came upon them. I approached in stealth, listening to what they were saying. The man was indeed pleading for his groups' lives. I walked up behind him - invisible, and decapitated the Thalmor. "Wow!" Fenrir said. Then he turned to the Synod mage, "Do you want to be next?" "No!" The man cowered. "Tell us where your accomplices are!" He shouted. He led us to a rock outcropping that hid a very small cave. "This is Aberius," the man said. "That's far enough, friend. Let me guess, Panthius sent you? Does he think he can frighten us?" "Aberius, you might want to listen to them..." the other mage said, nearly back in pleading state. "Your threats won't work here. Compared to the might of the Dominion, you don't scare us," Aberius said, "You're wasting your time." Fenrir piped up, "The Dominion are playing you for fools." Then he handed him a letter the Thalmor agent had on his body. "Those bastards," Aberius said as he read the letter. He shook his head, "I'm heading back to Windhelm. I just hope Panthius can forgive us. Thank you for this, truly." I smirked and patted Fenrir on the back. When we got back to WIndhelm, Runa was talking with Balfhe. "He was visiting the camp," Balfhe said. "How can I help?" Runa asked. "According to Legate Calleius, they're holding the Commander Falced Caro prisoner. We can't afford to lose another commander," Balfhe said. "I'll go see." "Take Calleius with you. He's just outside the office," Balfhe said. Runa turned and saw me, "Keen on a quick rescue mission? It'll be a lot faster with your teleport." I nodded, motioning for her to lead on and we walked around the corner. "Oh hey! It's you!" Runa smiled, "You're the one who helped me out with one of my Thalmor targets a few days ago. You said you were going to gather Imperial troops to our cause, but you never gave me your name." "Legate Tyroni Calleius, at your service, ma'am," the man bowed formally. "Yeah! Runa Fair-Shield." "A lovely name for a lovely woman," he replied. I raised an eyebrow. Runa smiled, "Tell me the truth, was it you who got General Sialius?" "Indeed, ma'am. He was in hiding and I informed him Windhelm would accept him if only he used a little diplomacy," Calleius said. She smiled. We walked out into the Windhelm hold, then I grabbed both their hands and put them on my shoulders, charging up a teleport to Morthal. We dodged the Thalmor there and went to the old Imperial camp, recently rebuilt, but also deserted. I went in first, being stealthy. A voice called out of the command tent as a Thalmor aimed a lightning bolt at me, "Not so fast. You don't look half as intimidating as I had imagined based on the stories we'd heard. The mythical Redguard who's nigh unkillable. Well, this was a trap for you alone. Don't worry, I'm going to kill you and make it quick. I've no time for the foolishness Orthar put you through." At the mention of that name, my face transformed into unyielding rage. Several Thalmor soldiers and assassins appeared behind me, but in a flash I had already jammed my claw and dagger into their leader, lifting him off the ground. Runa and Calleius fought off the men while I dumped him on the ground. It was over fairly quickly. "This is insulting," Runa said, taking the words out of my mouth. We teleported back to Windhelm. I noticed I'd let the blood pour onto my body as I held him over my head. Also, I did that thing I do often and hadn't realized a whole night passed. Fenrir had retired with Agrippina after our short mission and it was nearly time to wake up. After they told Balfhe the news, Calleius turned to Runa and said, "Fancy a bit of breakfast, ma'am?" I elbowed her, motioning for her to go ahead by herself. I also motioned to myself, displaying the obscene level of gore on my chest and stomach. Runa nodded to me and said to him, "Stop calling me ma'am." "My apologies. I come from a very formal family," he said as they walked out. I grabbed Serana by the arm and motioned to her that I was going to teleport. Serana shrugged, "Okay, I'll go with you." I teleported to Highreach, threw my clothes off and dove into the hot spring. She joined me. We had some fun together and relaxed for a while. "Say, this might not be the best time, but do you want to go on a date with me again?" She asked. I nodded. "How about to the Bannered Mare?" She asked, "We can wait out the Thalmor." Feeling much more casual than I think I should've about the direness of the situation, I agreed. We dressed and I teleported us to Whiterun. About five seconds after I got there, a passing horse splashed me with mud, getting it on my stomach. Fucking figures. We walked into the mare. It was nearly time for the lunch rush. Serana went over to the wench and started ordering for us. I immediately noticed a gruff-looking female Imperial Captain with one eye slashed through. She looked over to me. "Well met," she said, "Hey! I know you. I should - I was on the other side in the Civil War. Gotta say, I'm really glad we're on the same side this time. You're really sticking it to the Dominion. Good on you, my friend. Name's Captain Vinicia Matius." She shook my hand, flapping nearly my entire body back and forth. She took my silent smile as justification to continue. "If you'd told me a year ago I'd be fighting with Stormcloaks I wouldn't have believed you. But we need every sword we can to deal with those bastards. Say, would you mind helping me out with something?" I shrugged, then nodded. "While the majority of your comrades have agreed to support us and fight side-by-side, there are some that aren't so happy about it. Refusing to fight if any Imperial soldiers take the field. Cowards, looking for any excuse not to fight. I got tasked with dealing with them and I don't know crap about the Stormcloaks other than how to fight 'em. Maybe you being a hero of them, could talk some sense into them? Whaddya say?" "Oh! You have fine wines here?" Serana asked, then she looked over to me, "Are you really picking up quests while we're on a date?" "Uh-oh," Vinicia said. I patted her on the back, nodded, and she seemed to get the picture. She marked on my map where the men were skating off to. Serana handed me a drink and said, "The mare's best wine. Keep 'em coming. My treat." She took a drink and started to talk. It sucked not being able to contribute anything to the conversation. Eventually she got tired of talking to a wall, and I suggested through hand signals we should go talk to Vidnar and the companions. We walked up to the large stairs that led to the upper city and found Runa and Fenrir there. "Mom, Stepmom (I guess), did you hear?" Runa asked. We shook our heads. "The Thalmor are massing," Fenrir said, "Maybe they wanted to catch us offguard." "Is Damien ready with his time thing?" Serana asked. "No. He teleported us here. But he said it's not ready yet," Runa said. Guess we're going to have to deal with this on our own. I charged off and the others followed me. I burst into Dragonsreach first, while Runa and Fenrir peeled off to Jorrvaskr. Vidnar was there, sitting on the Jarl's throne. "Dragonborn!" He shouted, "I've just gotten the report. I was just enjoying the throne one last time." I shook my head, wanting to tell him not to throw his life away. Serana said, "I can tell Destana doesn't want you to die, old man. So you do your best to make it through this." Vidnar replied, "I must have a warrior's death. Defending my hold. Unless you have some incentive to offer me to keep my old bones still living." "What could I offer a Jarl?" Serana asked. He looked at me for a few seconds, "Forgive me, Dragonborn, but I've been dumbstruck by your now-wife since I saw her at the moot." "By the gods, are you suggesting..?" Serana asked, then she looked at me. I shrugged, then I wrote directly in my journal for her to see, "It's your choice. I believe in free love." Serana threw up her arms, "Fine." Vidnar smiled big, "Now that's incentive to stay alive!" We jumped from Dragonsreach to the Skyforge and walked into Jorrvaskr. Nearly all the Companions were massed in the mead hall, getting a last-minute feast and strapping on their armor. "Don't worry, Harbinger, we're with you!" Farkas, Vilkas, Aela, Ria and Njada joined Fenrir, Serana, Runa and I as we walked out. The sky opened up almost immediately as we stepped outside, and I found a familiar face standing in front of me. "Irileth!" I said, but everyone just heard garbage, I guess. She shouted back to me, "No way I'm going to let you fight this battle alone. This is my damned home!" I clapped her on the back and we all charged, en masse, to the gates. The Battle for Whiterun started. They were here! I went with the ranged magic folk and we stood on the walls, shooting at them as they approached. After a minute, I hopped down to join the melees, and immediately got paralyzed by a stray blast. But this was not the horror I was used to. Everybody ignored me while they fought. I got back up and continued the fight. Project 13_02-25-2022_14-28-13-818.mp4 As before, this was a real, bloody battle. And I could feel the desperation in the Thalmor. But something was different, like they were coming in smaller strike groups. Had so many of their commanders or their chronomancers been killed that they were making poor decisions with smaller forces now? They continued to hammer us, trading blows with us, but we stood fast. Then I saw it, cresting the hill was a much larger force. The last bit of chronomancy they had up their sleeve. "Go! We must fall back!" Fenrir shouted. I clenched my fists. "Mom! We need to fall back!" Runa said as she started to withdraw with the others. No. I'm not going to stand down this time. I'm not going to run. I'm drawing a line in the sand here. "D..." I started to try my Voice. I ground my teeth... "D-D-D-D..." "What is she doing?" Serana asked as the force had reached the stables and was now firing magic and arrows our way. "I'm not letting you have any more!" I shouted. I'm sure it was garbage speech. My kids paused. "What did she say?" "DUR-NE-VIIR! OD-AH-VIING!" I shouted. An undead dragon burst from the ground, taking to the sky. "Dovahkiin! I wondered when you'd call me again!" Durneviir shouted. I heard cowering screams from behind me. "Don't fear! He's our ally!" Serana shouted over the torrential rain. "Dovahkiin!" Odahviing finally emerged from the sky, "I come to your aid in this war! Who must I destroy today!?" "That's the dragon from Dragonsreach!" One of the Stormcloaks shouted. "Yes!" Vidnar yelled, "The Dragonborn has called him to fight for us!" The massed forces shouted in triumph and frenzy, charging forward. My two dragon friends nipped at the Elven army's heels, blasting them with cold and fire, keeping their backlines busy while we plowed through their front lines. It was a bloodbath. We utterly destroyed them. After the fight, we thanked the dragons and they were on their way. My group and the Companions amassed in the torrential downpour, blood and mud falling off of us as we properly celebrated. "Can you... can you talk?" Serana whispered. "I dunno, can you understand me?" I asked. Her face screwed up like anguish again. In the rain I couldn't tell if they were tears, but then her mouth twisted into a smile. "Thank the gods," she said, and I kissed her. Though I had my doubts whether I was completely back to normal. Farkas and Vilkas lifted me on their shoulders and I shouted over the rain, "Let it be known that this is where the Thalmor were stopped! Now we take back the lands we're already lost and show them the true heart of Skyrim!" Cheers rang out like thunder. Mods
  5. Disclaimer: The first half is mostly vanilla. The second half goes to some pretty dark places, thus the NSFL tag. Fenrir at the helm. The Thalmor are here and we’re at war. Though the remaining sensible Imperials are helping, we’re losing. We lost Riften, Falkreath and Helgen. It seems like they’ve got a presence in Morthal, as well. No fighting, just swept through in the night. I got up early and experimented with moving troops around on the map a bit before General Sialius, Commander Balfhe, King Ulfric and Listener Runa walked in. Made me feel like just a guy until Sialius said, “Hail Prince. What do you have here?” “It all depends on what they do,” I replied, “I hope that even without mom the Forsworn are in this.” “This is not a bad idea, Fenrir,” Balfhe said. “I have more targets for assassination, if the Brotherhood is in,” Sjard poked his head in. Runa nodded and started, “Gotta find~ “Sir!” A nord courier ran in the room, out of breath, handing Balfhe and Sialius a piece of parchment. My heart sank. I knew what was coming. Balfhe read, “A large force of Thalmor are forming in the Reach. They’re massing to attack Markarth!” “Dammit!” Ulfric said, “I bet they’re going to sweep north through Solitude next. If they control the port, we’ve lost!” “Runa, Fenrir, take whatever you’ve got and go to Markarth!” “Damn. Where are Damien and Serana?” I growled. Runa shook her head, saying to me, “No time. I’m going to use the tunnel to Highreach and get backup from Hrolf Witch-Slayer in Solitude.” “Right. I’m going to Druadach to get Madanach’s guys,” I said. We both passed through Highreach and stepped out near Solitude. Runa told Shirley to head to Markarth. “Take Shadowmere!” Runa yelled as she ran into the city. The black steed’s hooves beat as fast as they could. I leapt from his back and headed into Druadach Redoubt. The cave was dank, but huge and well-lit with torches and a red sacred tree. I happened upon Borkul immediately, surrounded by a group of rough-and-tumble Forsworn warriors. “Hey! I know you! How’s your mom?” “Not great. I know you guys don’t get the news up here. The Thalmor took Riften, Falkreath, Helgen and Morthal.” “By the damned spirits, kid!” Uraacen shouted from the cave. “I can bet where they’re going next,” Borkul said, “C’mon guys, gear up!” They hastily threw on their weapons and armor and headed out on a group of horses that couldn’t keep up with Shadowmere. “Hard to believe we were breaking out of this place a couple weeks ago and now we’re defending it,” a woman said. “Yeah well, the big D set up our king in Markarth and gave us rights. Better this than the Thalmor,” Borkul shouted over the hoof sounds. “Who are you?” I asked. “I’m Ralya. Are you related to Destana?” She asked. “I’m her son.” “Wow, how old is she?” Ralya asked. “Almost thirty,” I replied, “It’s a long story.” She smirked while she was thinking about mom. Gods, how many hearts has my mother captured now? I shook my head. We stampeded up to Markarth’s gates and dismounted. The guards looked like they were on edge at our presence, but Runa calmed them. “Damn Forsworn! Here to kick us while we’re down?” One of them shouted. “We’re here to defend your sorry asses!” Borkul chuckled. “Back off, we need all the help we can get,” Runa said from the group of Solitude soldiers massing to the side. Benna was wading in the nearby river, looking forlorn. I’m not really a giant speaker, but I walked over to the edge, “Hey, where did Bol and the Mammoth go?” She growled a little, then she picked me up, raising me up high so I could see down the hills where the Thalmor were gathering. I pursed my lips, “Those fucking bastards.” “What?” Runa asked. I shook my head. At the Thalmor camp was a slain Mammoth. They’d already chopped him up for meat. “The Giant was the one who saw them first,” one of the soldiers said, “He and the Mammoth were patrolling the area. They got the pet, but I haven’t seen the master.” I met eyes with Benna, “We need to give these guys hell.” Runa and I walked into the city with Shirley, leaving the combined forces to get ready. I ran into Markarth’s map room to find Madanach standing on the map, pointing out strategic points with his toes. He looked over to me, “I heard the news, kids. Sorry ‘bout your mom.” Hlofgahr the Brave (the guy from Riften’s failed defense) piped up from the corner, “The Dominion are here! We’d better get down to the front lines!” Madanach jumped down from the table. “You’re coming too?” Runa asked, “Usually the Jarl stays put while the battle is going on.” “Maybe that’s why we’ve been losing! C’mon! I’m going to defend this city with my life!” And with that everybody scrambled out, being joined by guards scrambling to the gate. One of the guards put his hand on Runa’s forearm as we passed, accosting her across the stream by the gates. “You remind me of someone,” the guard said, “But there’s no way. Do you have a younger sister?” Runa tilted her head, “Are you H.K?” “Harod of Kozanset,” he replied. She pulled out a gold-colored helm and handed it to him, “Here. I borrowed this a few years ago.” “What the… There’s no way…you’ve got to be messing with me. You were that stick? You had to have been a girl and now you look full-grown,” he looked down at her chest without thinking. Runa smirked a little, “In Cyrodiil, several years passed. Thank you for your act of kindness. I hope you make it through this day.” He took off his Stormcloak helm, revealing a Redguard. He stepped up to her, “Gods, you got tall.” Runa pulled him up out of the stream, showing their height was nearly even, then kissed him on the cheek. “That’s for luck,” she smiled. I was watching this display, and I smiled. Maybe there was hope here. We walked out the gates and Borkul grabbed Madanach in a bear hug, “My King! My Jarl!” Madanach chuckled as the Forsworn all piled on. “Everyone!” Madanach shouted, “It would warm Destana’s heart to see us working together! Markarth has the heart of both the Nords and the Reachmen! Do not let them breach the walls! Do not let her sacrifice be in vain! For the Reach! For Skyrim!” Stormcloaks, Imperials and Reachman alike raised weapons and shouted. I turned to Runa, “Does he think mom’s dead?” “I mean, she might be,” Runa replied. “Don’t say that…” I said back. “They’re coming!” Hlofgahr shouted. Large firebombs or meteors or fireballs started to rain down on our gathering area and the soldiers scattered. Forming up, the Forsworn behind Madanach and Borkul; the Solitude Stormcloaks and Imperials behind Runa and Shirley, and the other Stormcloaks behind me. We charged. The other fighters crested the hill just below the first barricade and I got up on the walls. I knew this would expose me, but I figured I was going to make the largest difference before they knew what I was packing. I took out the Dwemer Cheiroballista and loaded took aim. Runa charged into the fray. A swarm of bolts pelted the back lines of the Thalmor forces, and as they turned to me, aiming their most powerful magics, I heard the thundering roar of, “FUS-RO!” The second word! She’d been working on that one! Runa knocked a whole gaggle of them from horses and forestalled the casters blasting me from the walls. I ducked behind some debris, reloading, and letting a second volley fly. I must’ve taken out a dozen archers and casters before they started blasting me with fire. A massive form interposed itself between me and the blasts, tanking the damage meant for me. “Benna!” The giantess roared, pulling a boulder she’d carried and lobbed it into the crowd. But for all our decimation of their forces, more of them were pouring from the road down the hill. We were pushed back. “How did they move so many troops here without us noticing?” Runa asked as she rounded the corner. “I have no idea!” I said back, now fighting with axe and shield against auxiliaries. They kept pushing and eventually we were back against the walls. Men were falling left and right, and the skies opened up, coating the ground with blood and mud. “Godsdammit! Defend the gates!” Hlofgahr shouted. Madanach shouted, “Archers on the wall, fire! Defend the switches!” I ran up into the walls and positioned myself between the few still-living archers and switches, using my crossbow to mow down countless Thalmor from the murder holes. Shirley and Borkul came with me and fended the Thalmor now getting dangerously close to my back. “For the Reach!” A briarheart fought and died in a swarm of Thalmor. “Just how many men do they have to throw at us?!” Borkul said as he cut a Wood elf’s skull in half. “We might need to retreat!” Shirley said back. Then it happened – a Khajiit assassin clubbed me in the back of the head as I was reloading. He reached down and threw the switch. Borkul took off his head and Shirley stabbed him through the chest, but it was already done. Thalmor had already poured through the gates, breaching the wall. I fell unconscious. Markarth became a scramble of chaos. With all the new Reachmen living in the city, many more Thalmor died that day. When I woke up, I was in a dark, stone hallway. Runa was sitting beside me. Madanach casted a light spell, illuminating the area. “We carried you here,” Borkul nodded to Shirley. “Dammit. This is not going well,” I groaned from the ground, “Where are we? Is us five all who made it?” “The Markarth Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary,” Runa replied, “There’s a secret hatch in the Warrens and one in the stream flowing through the city. Madanach suggested the mine, but I knew they’d eventually look there. But this place is secret.” “Curse the Damn Thalmor. I finally get to live in my city again like a normal man and they take it,” Madanach growled, “I want to go out there! My people are dying!” “You know I’m not going to let you do that,” Borkul said. “Yeah, we’re already two (or three) Jarls down,” I said, “They’ll execute you if they find you.” Runa said, “We’d do best to get the hell out of here and regroup.” “If we had hid in the Dwemer escape tunnel from Cidhna mine we could be traveling the vast complex beneath the city and get out of here,” Madanach said. Borkul chuckled out loud, a good hearty chuckle. “What’s so funny?” I asked. “If any of the Forsworn survived, they’re probably going to be taken to Cidhna Mine to work!” Borkul laughed again, “The godsdamned irony!” “I’d wager the Thalmor are going to convert it back into slave labor, but for any non-Thalmor,” Madanach said, “So what’s the plan?” “We can wait until Nightfall and use the back tunnel. It leads to the stream, which we can follow to the outside of the city,” Runa said. So, we waited there for a hew hours, contemplating our lives and our next move. I know what you may be thinking, that it might be very hard for us to slip out, but we came out of the back tunnel and found only one patrol of two Thalmor. Between the five of us, and getting the drop on them, they didn’t make a sound. We each leapt from the edge and landed in the pond Benna had been wading through earlier. Speaking of Benna, among the corpses I didn’t see hers – and that would have been noticeable. So I hoped she got out of there. We all traveled north and retired to Highreach and we found Hrolf, Sialius and Balfhe there. “What the hell happened?” General Sialius asked. “There are just too many of them,” I replied, “I don’t know how they got that many troops to Falkreath from the border in hours, then to Markarth in just a couple days…. WITHOUT us fucking noticing!” “Gods,” Balfhe said, “Some kind of teleportation? Some kind of magic?” “Not teleportation,” a voice said, and we turned. Before us was a haggard and bloodied man, his staff broken into two pieces. He took off his mask, and his eyes were black holes like a Daedra. “Damien… what happened to you?” I asked. He said, “Time magic.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is… Destana. “Now, just what are you doing?” I heard a familiar voice, but hanging there in the dark, chained up, blood and dirt covering my body… I either couldn’t or didn’t want to open my eyes. “You know you could really use a bath.” “The service around here is terrible,” I said back. Then I laughed, slumping against the chains. “What are they doing to you? You’ve lost your fire,” the voice said. “Oh, you know, torture. Draining my blood. For three months now. I must be going crazy. I’m even hearing voices. Of course, you know that, because you’re one of them.” “I’m not in your head. Open your eyes you rube!” He said. I blinked, trying to clear whatever had been in my eyes that was making my face sticky. “I can’t see very well right now. I’ll have to get back to you. Tell my assistant to find a place in my schedule,” I chuckled again. Apparently, my laughing was enough to wake a nearby guard, who walked over to me. “Who are you talking to?” He asked. “Just the voices in my head,” I replied. He sighed as he walked away, “Fuckin’ looney.” “He’s right,” the voice whispered, “If you opened your damn eyes, you’d see it’s the image of your Ex-husband trying to help you even though he is dangerously low in his ability to influence Nirn!” My eyes shot open, and there he was. “I must be crazy,” I said, “I’ve barely seen you in ages.” “Look, I don’t have a lot of time,” Sanguine said, “You hang in there. I’m going to tell the kid where you are. But when they storm in here, you be ready.” And his image vanished as Orthar passed through it. He grabbed my boob again – like he did every time. But this time he twisted my nipple. “Ow! What are you, twelve?” I asked. “Just making sure you’re awake. Do you even remember all the fun things we’ve been doing? What we’ve discovered?” Orthar asked. “Gods, no. But I’m sure you’re going to remind me,” I groaned. “No, I’m going to tell my boss on the council what we’ve been doing here. But that’s later. For now, a courier finally arrived with this hefty stack of rituals from my contacts.” “What are do they do?” I asked. “Well, this whole time we’ve been probing into the universe next door. Come to find out the denizens are a lot different than ours. I’m going to make first contact with them, offering you as our diplomat,” Orthar had started drawing a ritual circle under me during this time. “I hate to tell you this, but I’m not exactly the one to sing your praises,” I said. “Oh, you misunderstand,” Orthar continued drawing the circle in meticulous detail, “These denizens don’t speak as far as I know. They’re not like your friends from the other spheres. I got a glimpse into this universe, and it’s filled with horrors.” “So why probe into this place?” I asked, starting to get nervous. “Well, the council feels that while your energy is finite and you will eventually be used up, having an entire universe to draw from will allow us to do anything we want. We could conquer this whole world. Just think about the amazing things we can do. You’re so tough, I believe you may be one of the few mortals in this realm who could handle first contact with them,” Orthar smiled, then he slashed my wrist again, letting my blood fall into the circle. He raised his hands, channeling some kind of long cast spell. The floor started to change – it looked the same, but the consistency was like jelly. I felt queasy, my feet battling with the strange malleability of the stone. Orthar took several steps back and turned a knob on the dwemer battery he’d been using to gather the energy of my blood. And just from being on in the presence of this reaction, it started to fill with power. I held myself up by the chains on my wrists causing me to bleed more. Orthar casted a restoration spell, closing my wounds, “We wouldn’t want you to die. Now, get ready to greet your new friends.” And tendrils reached out from the jelly-like facsimile of the floor. One of them gripped my neck, many others shredding the chains like ribbons from my body. My brain thought I was free for a few seconds, but then half a dozen more tendrils leapt out of the floor. They grasped at my arms, my legs, my waist, one of them cushioned my back as another one slid across my unprotected crotch. “Oh! No! NO!” I screamed, “You are not going to sit and watch this happen to me, you sick piece… of….” “The Estrus Beast,” Orthar started to read his notes in a journal before he started adding to them, “Fosters sexual receptivity in normal mortals of this plane. It also excretes a highly toxic paralytic poison. We’ve done some small tests with other subjects, but they died instantly. You are one of a kind, Dragonborn.” I went slack as the thing forced a meaty tentacle into my vagina, sliding back and forth like it was fucking me. “You may be asking yourself how things like this exist. You see,” Orthar started, but a tentacle flew in his direction, and it was rebuffed by the circle’s shielding effect. He cleared his throat, “Everything in their world is either tentacles or pods to put the tentacles. The Estrus eat each other. So it has two things it can consider you – are you food or a potential sex partner?” I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t make a sound. My vocal chords were paralyzed. Project 12_02-22-2022_17-1-20-789.mp4 Orthar continued writing in his notebook as the thing fucked me. Eventually it finished, shooting a hot, sticky load of… something into me. It touched the barrier a couple more times, then it descended back into the goop of the floor. The magic circle dissipated and I was dumped onto the cold, hard stone, fighting to breathe but barely able to. I twitched as I lay there, helpless. “Don’t worry about having monster babies or anything. The Estrus’ biology is not compatible with yours. You’ll pass it harmlessly in a few minutes. I’m sure you’re familiar with how semen flows out after sex – I know all about you,” Orthar said. In a blinding fit of rage and powerlessness I started to weep, still unable to move my limbs. “Oh, by the gods,” Orthar bent down next to me, “It seems I have finally broken you, Destana Dragonborn. You’ve certainly lasted longer than anybody else. I do believe I shall celebrate. Guards!” Several Thalmor came in with new chains and devices. One of them readied a new gag – not as good as the old one, and they got the chains ready. One of them – a red-haired woman, put her fingers up inside me and tested it with some sort of alchemical bottle. “Clear, sir,” she said. “Thank you,” Orthar stripped off his robes (but not the hood, strangely) and slid his dick inside me. He started to thrust and laid there, limp. It was at this moment that I realized the creature had pushed the crystal out. I could feel my magicka was nearly full now. My body was broken, and my spirit nearly there. With one more bout of rage, I started to channel a spell, even with Orthar violating me. “Wait what is she~” the female guard started, but she was cut off by a massive blast of cold to her face. The four guards in front of me drew their weapons, but two of them exploded in shards of ice and frozen body parts within seconds. Orthar put his hand around my neck and squeezed. His other hand jabbed me in the side, paralyzing me. I fell limp again. “Perhaps~” He continued to thrust as my spell fizzled, “I spoke too soon.” “By the gods!” One of the still-living guards shouted, “She killed three people instantly and wounded half a dozen more in the next hallway! We should chain her back up NOW!” “No. See, I’m rather pissed now. After I finish~” Orthar groaned, emptying his balls in me. FUCK! I could’ve been draining him! He dumped me on the floor, and started redrawing the magic circle, “You see, I’m feeling vindictive now. Get me more magicka batteries. We’re going to see just how long you can last, Dragonborn!” In just under a minute the circle was drawn again and six guards were now in the room, curious as to what was going on. Orthar opened the goopy gate again, and I could feel the tears streaming down my cheeks as the thing entered our world again. This time it was a different beast. Only four tentacles, but the base inched its way in, looking like a pink flytrap. Various appendages like cilia grabbed my body, while two of the tentacles spread my legs wide. This time several of the short tentacles inserted themselves into my ass, my pussy, rubbed against my crotch, folding and feeling where it could get a hold to implant its seed. I kicked and screamed until the thing's paralytic took hold again and then I went limp - powerless. "Ugh," one of the she-elves could barely hold back her puke and left the room, but the men seemed to be stroking themselves to the perversion. All the while Orthar was laughing, filling his batteries one after another. This one dumped me on the floor like the last, and the process continued. Orthar had one of the other Thalmor wizards take a turn (after I was tested) and fucked me raw. Then he summoned a third Estrus, and a fourth, letting his men have turns with me. When finally all his batteries were full, Orthar looked down on me and smiled, "You belong to me now. Your only purpose is to charge these, that will fuel our weapons, that will allow us to roll our war machine across all of Nirn." I made no response, as I'm pretty sure at this point I was in a catatonic state. He chuckled, and started to walk away. Orthar turned the corner, and I couldn't see what he could see, but he was taken aback by whatever it was. "What are you fools doing?" He shouted, "Get back to your posts!" Did the creatures have this effect on people? I could hear the sounds of distant moaning of men and women, but my brain just would not concentrate on what was happening. I felt the floor begin to undulate again and I felt like I was going to weep. Not again... The tendril grabbed my arm and I braced myself for the horror, but instead... it wiped my hand in the blood, then it rubbed my hand vigorously across the magic circle. And the creature emerged again. It let me go, and formed its huge body into a tube as it wormed its way through the small opening in the circle It'd made for itself. The Estrus scurried off. Seconds later, I heard screams. I laid there for what seemed like hours as several more of the creatures did the same, wriggling through the narrow channel made by my arm. I rolled over. I crawled across the circle (that was no bane to me, only the Estrus creatures) and when I was able to drag my body around the corner, I found an elven woman locked in a pink pod like the one I'd been in earlier - only shaped more like a long tulip. Another one was grabbed by the first Estrus type I'd been grabbed by, and another by the large pod. The hallway was filled with screams for nearly a minute, then they were mostly corpses, falling limp, including the men. But one voice rang out over the squelching. "Please! Help me!" Orthar was being grabbed by the first Estrus type that was all tentacles. He was the last to be grabbed, and thus the last to be alive. I stood, and walked over to him, smugly silent as he screamed again. The tentacles tore into his asshole. "Why the fuck would I do that?" I asked, "You tortured me for months. And finally you're getting some of your own medicine. I hope you die a painful death!" I limped out of there and opened the door to the outside. It was daytime, and I'd forgotten that the place was crawling with guards outside too. I hadn't found my things amongst the chests in the fortress, only a prisoner's dirty garb and a few melee weapons. I gritted my teeth, and even though I was feeling weak from all the horror downstairs, I drew a dagger and sword and yelled, "C'mon!" The four Thalmor rushed me, and I evaded and slashed for a solid couple minutes. I figured more reinforcements would come, but then I noticed in the distance - this fort was being attacked by Bandits at this very moment. "Skyrim belongs to the Nords!" One of the bandits yelled. It seemed even the common rabble were fighting against the Thalmor. The bandits and Thalmor surface guards tore through each other - causing mutually assured destruction. The combat spilled over into my fight, the two sides killing each other. I slashed out at every person there. When all was said and done, one Thalmor remained. And like one last goddamn stick in my eye, he got the drop on me. I was exhausted - not having slept a good sleep in months now. He choked me out, and I passed out. He may have realized he was the last Thalmor left here. He may have been influenced by the Estrus' aura of sexual perversion. All I know is I woke up with his dick in my mouth and my hands tied again. Seconds later he was cumming on my face. I looked up. "That's how we treat women where we come from," he chuckled. I was looking behind him. A giant club came down on him, exploding him into a frosty, bloody mess. I started to beast call at him, but the Frost Giant nodded at me and walked away. The... spirits? I was left standing there, alone. I dropped to my knees in the frosty cold, letting myself weep for real this time. I realized the Estrus may be coming any minute and I sprinted the fuck out of there. And just a bowshot away, I found them. "By the gods!" Serana shouted, Damien by her side. "Please! Teleport away! Now! Let's get out of here!" I screamed, grabbing at his robes. We appeared in Highreach. Serana carried me, naked, to the hot springs. I gripped her and she sat down with me in her arms, still clothed. I put my head on her chest, shivering, and fell asleep.
  6. This is Runa. I messed up, really bad. My mom is captured… or worse. Also, the Jarls of Falkreath and Riften are dead and in dominion hands. We’ve heard about streetfights between concerned citizens and Thalmor, but they’re winning right now. “Runa, she wouldn’t have just disappeared without saying something…” Damien said. I closed my eyes, “I know. She’s flighty. She runs around at warp speed, doing more things than any one person should be able to do. Usually at least one of us knows where she is, even if she doesn’t stay there for long. We searched the battlefield after it was over for hours, but couldn’t find her body. And even with the best trackers available, there’s so much blood and guts and dirt and everything… We couldn’t even get a trail.” “Her chess analogy rings true. We cannot lose our queen this early in the game,” Ulfric said. “I agree,” General Sialius said. “There’s no way they wouldn’t have captured her if they knew who she was. Too large a bargaining tool,” Fenrir added. “Yes, but what if they saw her as the biggest threat and realized if they killed her now, we’d be significantly weakened,” Damien retorted. “SHUT UP! Just… shut up!” Serana shouted, “Destana is the woman I love. While you’re sitting here talking, she’s probably being tortured. Or she’s lying dead in a ditch somewhere.” “What would you have us do?” I asked. “I don’t know. Just stop talking about her like she’s a commodity. She’s a person,” Serana growled. We could see something was happening with her skin, like a monster was ready to burst from this beautiful woman. “What are you going to do?” Ulfric asked. Serana clenched her fists, grinding her teeth until blood started to pour from her palms, fighting the Vampire Lord transformation, “I’m going to go find her.” She discorporated into bats, appearing at the door. She threw open the doors to the Palace of Kings, turning back to us. Serana burst into her Vampire Lord form, for the first time any of us had ever seen. “You can have your damn war,” she said in bestial tones, “I’m going to go find my wife.” She cast a flight spell on herself and flew off. Guards outside took a couple shots at oh-my-god-what-is-that-thing, but nobody found purchase. The couple dozen people in the room that’d been mingling and going about their business were now frozen in fear or just shock. The half dozen guards, Thane Alarik, Thane Skjorta, another half-dozen imperial soldiers, Jorlief, the random Stormcloak commander and Balfhe looked at Ulfric and us, the blessed children, for some sort of confidence. I could tell tension was running high. “She’s on our side,” Ulfric spat. A few people chuckled, shocked out of their worryful stupor. But I realized it wasn’t going to be enough. I cleared my throat, “Yeah, the damn elves took Riften and Falkreath. We expected some losses here. But we’re going to get them back.” Fenrir added, “We have forces in Solitude, and here. We have the volkihars. And damn the elves if they ever take the Reach, because we have the forsworn on our side. They don’t like us – but they hate the Thalmor.” That seemed to quell the overwhelming sense of dread falling on people. At least, for now. Balfhe looked over to me, “I have an idea.” We all turned to him. I asked, “What’s that?” “We should all be playing to our strengths. Now that we don’t have our strongest… contender with us, I think we should focus on taking out some of the targeted threats.” “Meaning?” I asked “You’re an assassin. I need you to do some assass~ing.” “Actually, the correct term is assassination,” Damien muttered. “Anyway, go see Sjard the Bloody. I think he’s waiting on the bench in the Jarl’s Throneroom. He has some targets for you.” “Right. One thing my mom did in the battle was stealth and take out a bunch of the high priority targets, like the commanders and the casters. With any luck it might’ve set them back a few days at least. And this might be able to set them back more,” I replied. “I’m going to gather our forces and figure out the assets we have,” Fenrir said. He turned to General Sialius, “I want to take over for my mom while she’s away. But you have a lifetime of experience on me. All I have is exercises and combat. I’ve never commanded a real force.” “Don’t worry son. I’ll help you find your way,” Sialius said. “The Thalmor only have so many secret prisons,” Damien said, “I think the mages and I can come up with something. I’m going to Winterhold.” “What the…” Fenrir clamored as he looked at the map table, “They got Helgen?? I’m going to go check out what’s going on down south.” I stepped up to Sjard. “Ah, so you’re the one Balfhe sent,” Sjard smirked, looking me over, “Well I won’t beat around the bush, let’s get down to business.” “To defeat… the elves!” Fenrir sang in the distance. He smiled a dopey smile, “Sorry, I wanted to lighten the mood.” Sjard looked back to me, “Here’s the deal. I collect bounties, you get the most top priority targets.” “If you give me the lower priority ones, I have a few friends who can take care of them,” I smiled. “Don’t worry, Listener, I got this covered,” Nazir appeared from around the corner. “Geez! You burst right out of the shadows. I’m glad I’m not on your list!” Ulfric said from the throne. “Were you just hanging out?” I asked. “Your mother left a tunnel between here and Highreach. A great many of the brotherhood are waiting at Highreach Keep are awaiting your command.” “Good, good,” Sjard said, “For Runa, I’ve got a nord named Viguri. He was giving secrets to the Thalmor. That’s going to stop. According to my sources, he usually makes the trade in Ivarstead.” I made my way to Ivarstead straightaway. Shadowmere seemed to be extra fast today, like he was mad. I’m certain he knew what was going on. This guy was a pushover. I walked up to him in the crowded Inn and slashed him through the chest. Everyone stopped and looked my way. “He’s working for the Thalmor,” I said. “Good riddance,” somebody else said, and nobody stopped me. I rode back to Windhelm, getting there midmorning. Sjard nodded to me, “You do work fast. I gave Nazir a few more targets. Here’s your next one.” A Synod mage woman kept standing between me and Sjard, and she didn’t seem to understand personal space, so I just let him read off his dossier on the other side of her. “There’s a Khajiit named Jo’Rokha that’s been stealing from our shipments. Steals anything that isn’t nailed down. Also sells Skooma to our men. Every time he gets locked up, when he gets out he just starts again. Not associated with the Thalmor, but he’s a thorn in our side. Make him disappear. And word of advice, he’s a criminal, so he will not be missed,” Sjard said, “He’s working out of Kynesgrove.” This time was as easy as the last. I was starting to wonder when the high priority targets were going to start showing up. I walked up to him in Braidwood Inn, and stabbed him with my greatsword. Easy. I traveled back to Windhelm, it being about noon now. Next, the head of the Thalmor’s cartography divison. “Cartography? Like maps?” I asked. “Terrain plays a crucial part in any military engagement. And Skyrim is full of mountains and rough terrain,” Sjard replied, “Last sighted at dragon bridge.” “Alright,” I said, heading back out. This time I used the tunnel to Highreach and traveled down the road, not taking much time. She was waiting on a porch at the Inn with one guard. Very tall, and wearing heels, I noted. Definitely not a warrior. I beheaded the guard, and then stabbed her through the chest, taking her maps in the process. “What’s the next target?” “Shor’s bones, you’re good at this! That was like half an hour!” Sjard replied. “I’m coping. Give me more to kill,” I said. “This, this one just came across my desk while you were gone. Urgent written in red ink. Usually I hate that, and it makes me put it off for longer. But I know who it’s from. Velfhedi. He’s a veteran of the civil war, and he’s talking up the Empire, saying Skyrim should rejoin the empire.” “Fuck that,” I said, “I mean, no thanks.” “No need to temper your words around me, girly. But my thoughts exactly,” Sjard said, “He’s staying in Windhelm.” I strolled down to Candlehearth and found the guy. Supposedly he was a warrior in his heyday. Maybe I should’ve given him a fair shot, but I didn’t. I Marked for Death, then I caused his death. "Sorry for the mess!" I went back. “Here’s another. Supposedly you have a counterpart in the Dominion.” “So, you want me to assassinate the assassin?” “Exactly. Last seen in Morthal,” he said, “Be careful. This one will be a little harder.” “This’ll take a little longer, I’m sure,” I said. And Sjard was right. The bounty hunter was smart. As soon as I entered the town, he fired an arrow at me from one of the new two-story buildings’ catwalks. And it seemed I was right in the middle of one of the streetfights I’d been hearing about. A retinue of Thalmor were fighting the still-present guards in the hold. I focused my attention on the fight for a while, helping where I could. In the confusion, I managed to sneak up two the second story of the building and get the drop on the hunter. Of course, he actually put up a fight. I blasted him off the roof with a solid, “FUS!” And then finished the job on the ground. By the time I got him, the Thalmor were dead. Of course, so were several guards. I returned to Windhelm to find Sjard had no more jobs for me. I sat with him for a while, but my mind was elsewhere. I decided with Serana and Damien looking, I should retire for the night. I trained with Shirley at Highreach and went to bed. “Aventus, I hope you’re alright in Cyrodiil,” I sighed, then I said, “And mom, I hope you return to us.” I’d never wanted to pray more in that moment. ---------------------------------------------------------- “Excuse me, are you Fenrir?” A man in robes asked. He’d accosted me in the street as I was walking to Windhelm’s gates. “Yeah. Who’re you?” “I’m with the Synod. My name is Panthius Vanin. Have you heard of us?” “Ehh… mages?” “That’s right. Specifically, we collect magical artifacts for the purpose of research and preservation. I know you’re busy with the war, but I wanted to ask your help with something that relates specifically to the war itself. When the Dominion moved through Cyrodiil, we decided we would move some of our artifacts here for safekeeping. We wanted to keep them out of the Dominion’s hands. And now…” “Let me guess. The Dominion are here, and they’re about to or already have stolen your artifacts,” I said. “Yes. We lack the resources to move such a large number of artifacts in such a short time, so we made a deal with the Legion – letting them use our artifacts for war. The Dominion attacked one of our caravans and took the contents to Fort Greenwall. We need to get them back.” “Well, magic weapons in the hands of the Thalmor is pretty bad news,” I said, “I’ll help you.” I sighed, “That’s all the way over by Riften. Gods, I need to learn some magic and learn teleport.” “Speak with the Imperial Battlemages in the palace. They want to help,” Panthius said. “Amazing,” I said, I approached them, “Do you guys know how to teleport to Riften, or somewhere near?” “Listen, guy. I know you think all mages are good for is conjuring water and teleportation, but we can do other things. But, not for you of course. Piss off,” one of them said. “Geez, lighten up. I’m here to help you get your artifacts back,” I explained. “Oh! Sorry about that! You a Stormcloak? Don’t seem very magical.” “I’m Fenrir Stormcloak,” I replied, “I am not magical. But I do have a repeating crossbow and a lot of rage to get out.” “Good, you’ll need it.” They teleported us to right outside of Riften. I turned towards the city. “Whoa, kid. You don’t want to go in there. All Thalmor. Let’s just do the job,” one of the battlemages said. We gathered with a group of other mages, and the one in charge said, “When they said backup was coming I didn’t think they’d send you. Maybe Damien.” “Sorry, do I know you?” I asked. “Galis Romoren. Here’s the situation. The Dominion troops stole the artifacts. We’re going to storm the place and kill everyone inside.” “Wow.” “What, don’t like my plan?” He asked. “No, it's fine, I guess. Just, I’m used to flying with a group that prefers subtlety. I mean, look at that ruined part in the wall. I bet my mom would love to just jump up and climb into the fort and start sniping people.” “You think you can do any better?” Galis asked, “How about this – you sneak in and when the party starts, we’ll storm in.” I shrugged. It wasn’t really my style, both in my skillset and my way of doing things. But I figured I could get a good vantage point for the crossbow from the tower. I walked over to the break and climbed on a rock to get inside. Then I walked up a path to the high tower and watched the comings and goings of the guards for a few minutes. I took aim, and fired a shot at a patrol, plugging her in the neck. Unfortunately, I am not a stealth person. Most the guards in the Fort turned to the source of the bolt and saw my bronze-shelled dwemer-clad ass on the top of the tower. I continued raining bolts down on them, and the mages started blasting through the front gates with fire and ice. After a few minutes, I came down and hacked a few guards with axe and shield. The Imperial Battlemages and Synod were storming into the interior and I was pulled along. One of the battlemages was dual-wielding staves, while Galis and one other were wielding greatsword in close quarters. The rest only used magic. While they battled on, I ran down into the dungeon. All the Thalmor had been called into the fight, so this was going to be easy. I took out my lockpicks and popped each lock down the line open, freeing a couple Stormcloaks and several Imperial Legionnaires. “The fight’s upstairs! Get your gear and let’s bust you out of here!” They did so, and helped us finish off the Thalmor inside. I looted what I could, then we all headed outside, where three high ranking Thalmor wizards and their guards were waiting for us. One of the battlemages summoned a Dremora Lord, and in the courtyard there was much blasting. (I’m glad I have a magic resistance shield). Turns out the wizards who’d shown up were delivering the artifacts for safekeeping. So we grabbed them and headed back to Windhelm. The Synod thanked me, and I decided I would train with the Stormcloak guards for a little bit. We all knew the strike on Windhelm was coming. But we weren’t sure where they would strike next. When I came back into the Palace of Kings, it was dark and most the faces who seemed to never sleep were vacant. Only Sjard was sitting in the hall, reading over his dossiers. My dad, Balfhe, General Sialius, all the subcommanders, all the Legionnaires, everybody. When I turned the corner near the throne, I spied a lone woman sitting on a bench that I couldn’t see when I walked in. She looked up from her book. “Oh, hey. Your name is Fenrir, right?” She smiled at me. I felt my heart skip a beat. Imperial, with dark hair. She was wearing what could’ve at one time been Synod robes, though they were cut into a short-skirt and showing healthy cleavage. Realizing I was staring and not saying anything, I finally replied, “Uhh… yes. Fenrir Stormdrain. I mean Stormcloak.” She giggled at me, “I’m Agrippina Clavius. I wanted to thank you for helping us out.” I shrugged, sitting on the bench next to her, “I feel like I didn’t do much. All the mages shooting energy at each other and I’m just a man with a shield.” “Don’t discount your contribution. Most of us need men like you. I’m not one of the greatsword types. Though, I mean, I know my way around a shortsword,” she grinned. Was she saying what I think she was saying? She responded to my silence with, “You know, I haven’t been on many campaigns. I’m just a Synod, not a Legionnaire like the battlemages. I hear a lot of the time when soldiers come through towns the women are very happy… for a time.” I blinked. I’m pretty sure she was. She grabbed my hand and held it for a minute. Then she put it on her leg casually. Our eyes were led over to one of the female legionnaires sitting down next to Sjard on the far side of the hall. They were loudly talking about old times with the legion, getting boisterous. “Apparently, they know each other,” I said. She slid my hand up her skirt and I could feel wetness. Velvety wetness. A Stormcloak man and the other greatsword Imperial Battlemage (female) walked into the big doors, loudly arguing about something, but joking and chuckling. In the meantime, Agrippina slid her hand up my tunic parts and was returning the favor to me. We watched the two pairs getting heated – one arguing and one reminiscing. Sjard looked at me, dead in the eye, and saw what was happening. He grinned at me. Then he took the Legionnaire woman in his arms and kissed her. She slapped him, but then she kissed him back. They sat down on the bench and started making out. When I looked over to the stormcloak and battlemage she said, “Ever had a real woman twist your club?” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that and then Agrippina sat on my lap, facing me and putting her breasts in my face. All bets were off at this point. The three couples all started to undress and do what comes natural in front of each other. It was a singular thrill to have other people watching, and be doing this in a public place where we could get caught. She pulled me to the floor and started to suck me off, then pushed me down and got on top of me. I lost sight of everybody else while she straddled me with her creamy thighs. In nearly half an hour, it was over. I sat up, and realized the guards had been changing and were now back in the room. And dad had walked in the door by the map room and was just standing there, unsure of what to do. The other couples finished before the onlookers walked in and were now acting like we were the only ones who’d been fucking. As we pulled our clothes back on, collectively the crowd clapped. I felt like I was blushing, but Agrippina just smirked. “We should do that again sometime,” she said, and disappeared into the Upper Floor, losing me immediately. Ulfric patted me on the back, “All I have to say is – that’s my boy!” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I may have stormed out and flew off. I may have transformed, and I never use this transformation. I see it as uncouth, like I’m accepting the gifts of that experience. I’m not. I’m just pissed. Hi, this is Serana. This is what I did today. My first thought was – I know of at least five secret Thalmor prisons in Skyrim. Why not work my way through them and exterminate everything inside? Except the prisoners, of course. Destana would be having a fit about how many prisons are in Skyrim. It strains logic. How have the Nords allowed the number of secret Thalmor places to get so out of control? First – the Thalmor prison by Helgen. Destana had cleared out this prison a while back, and sure enough it was full of the new Thalmor from the invasion now. I ripped through them all with blood storm. I’ve no time to mess with these fools. No prisoners, though. I flew a bit north to find Greywater Grotto – a cave-based prison cleared out during the re-establishment of Helgen. Or so I thought. All I found there were a bunch of Imps, trolls, and a hunter woman named Fjona who I caught singing at the top of her lungs deep in the cave. There were no Thalmor here to repopulate, and she saw me in VL form, but I was able to hide, vanish and calm down enough to go back into my natural state. I could push the rage down enough to ask question at least. “Hello. I feel I may have caught you at an embarrassing time,” I said. “A quiet song of glory. Loudest of tragedies. My name’s Fjona.” “Serana. Pleased to meet you.” “I sing this song when I’m alone. I longed to be a companion, a part of the circle. But you see, one must give up a part of their humanity. I was not willing to give it,” Fjona said, “I’d ask what brings a beautiful woman to a dank cave like this. But I’ve seen the gargoyles and vampires running around killing Thalmor. Now that you’re in human form, I see you’re not a threat to me. Thought I’d have a heck of a fight on my hands.” I cleared my throat, “In a way, I am. I’m also looking for the woman I love.” “Sorry, I haven’t seen any women in here. Or Thalmor. Just cave things,” Fjona replied. I sighed, wanting to know more, but not wanting to delay, “Strange. Why would you be just spending time in a cave full of dangerous monsters, alone?” “I’ve grown weary of saying goodbye.” “You know, Kodlak has died. There’s a new Harbinger. She abolished the old rules.” Fjona blew a breath through her lips, “I’ll take that into consideration. That’s the reason I left. But not the reason I won’t return. Seven years ago, there was a tournament. Eorlund Grey-mane vouched for me and I was allowed to participate. Isn’t that wild? I was a girl then. Sixteen, maybe. But Eorlund had seen me grow into a skilled archer from atop the forge. I was better with a bow than another that day. I beat out Irileth and Aela. She wasn’t at her best, but I’d never done better. But the hate they threw at me for that – accused me of cheating. They apologized of course, but I’d been with the companions even as long as I could hold a sword. And now I’m here. Wandering and killing rats and imps.” “Well, I’m sorry for all that. You really should pay your respects. Actually, the new harbinger is who I’m trying to find. And I must go.” “Again,” Fjona said, “I’ll think about it. Bye, lovely.” Next, it was on to the secret prison Dreynos’ had been held in (Runa told me about this one). But, no, nothing. Not even repopulated. Empty. I flew on over to the Thalmor Embassy now, which was also surprisingly deserted. They probably figured that would be the first thing we’d burn to the ground when they started to invade. And they were probably right. No peace could be had now. I had been following a path northward. Finally, I got to my last stop: Northwatch prison. I prayed to the gods this would be the place. Sure enough, there were Thalmor. Or at least I thought there were. A handful of Thalmor were fleeing the prison as I arrived, and I struck them down, stupidly, thinking there would be many others. I pressed forward to the next room and… a bunch of Stormcloaks just sitting in what looked like a bar for guards. They turned to me, but didn’t draw blades. Strange, seeing as how I was in my Vampire Lord form again. “Hey, uh, you here looking for Thalmor?” One of them asked. “Yeah,” I replied. “When we got here, they were all running away. Most of them teleported out. If you killed those elites that were doing the last-minute packing – feel free to check out the spoils. There are four of us and most of us are pretty green. We knew we couldn’t handle them. So, thanks.” “You’re welcome,” I replied, confused. I moved deeper into the prison. Three warlocks had taken up residence in the deepest parts, which attacked me on sight. And I ended their lives. I had a look around. I wondered why the Thalmor would flee so quickly. There were dead prisoners. A Khajiit and a few others. And a whole room full of dead Thalmor guards. Maybe ten. I looked at the wounds. Several were stabbed with different cutting instruments. Some real daggers, and one here was from a Bound Dagger. One wizard had his face burned off. And this one… I blinked. He’d had his blood drained from the neck. I put my hands over my mouth, shifting back into my human form. Daggers, magic, bound weapons, vampire. FUCK. I could feel tears coming to my eyes. I slumped in front of a wall with chains hanging freely, dried blood coating every surface. I tasted the blood, and besides being unsanitary and mixed with my tears, I could taste something familiar. Like a meal I’d fed on a couple times now. She was here. ------------------------------------------------ It’s only been about a day. When Damien said the Thalmor were researching strange, dimensional magics, I wasn’t certain how this could all be connected. High Inquisitor Orthar Alkinius had been doing the villain thing and monologuing, so I may have gotten as much information out of him as he’d gotten from me. “Of course, it won’t matter, my sweet Destana Dragonborn,” Orthar ran his hand on my cheek, “If you’re dead or perhaps worse after this, then you won’t be able to reveal our secrets to anyone. So I’ll let you know what the high command is cooking up.” “Bigger than Ancano and the Eye of Magnus?” “You speak of such things as if you understand them,” Orthar smirked, then he grabbed one of my breasts, kneading it painfully, “This is fun, no? I imagine all the boys want to paw your huge cow tits.” “It’s annoying. Are you an incel or something?” I spat back, “Just make your damn statement. Ask your damn question.” “Oh, no, don’t rush things. I haven’t even begun to torture you yet. How about this – if you will freely give me information, I won’t need to permanently disfigure your beautiful body.” “Aww. You think I’m beautiful?” I snickered. He grabbed me by the chin, forcefully, then he said, “Yes. Basics. Tell me everything about yourself.” Then he let go. “Okay, well I was born in Hammerfell, spent a lot of time on a ship…” “Just present day Destana. What are you now?” “Can any one person be defined by labels?” “Yes. That’s what I’m telling you to do,” he took out a very sharp, very small dagger and pressed it to my wrist. “Please, if you slash me there, I’ll bleed out. So go ahead.” Orthar laughed, “No, no. That’d be too easy. If you don’t answer I’m just going to slash the tendon in your right leg, so you’ll never walk again. The next time, your left. We’ll see where we get from there. I haven’t even started using magic yet. I guess I could make you answer with compulsion, but it’s more fun this way.” “I’m guessing your leaders don’t want any of this in a timely manner?” I smirked, then said, “I’m Queen of Skyrim, General of the Stormcloaks, Dragonborn. Former Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild. Member of the Dark Brotherhood. Member of the College of Winterhold. Harbinger of the Companions. I’m a mother of three. Two by birth, one adopted. Married to Ulfric Stormcloak, Serana of Volkihar, and…” “And..?” “Sanguine the Daedric Prince, though we’re separated. Also, I’m a disciple of Sanguine, Dibella, a shaman of the Forsworn, a member of the Marses forsworn tribe.” “That’s… a hell of a resume,” Orthar said, “How can I tell if you’re telling me the truth?” “I dunno,” I shrugged, “This is the easy stuff. Oh yeah and I’m a vampire. That’s why my eyes look like this. Like Serana, I have special vampire eyes.” “Alright,” Orthar said, “Take a vial of her blood. We must be sure.” A Thalmor soldier stepped up. “Be careful. I bite,” I laughed. “Do it!” Orthar said. The soldier cut me, pouring it into a bowl. “What are you testing for?” I asked. He poured a concoction in, and swirled it, and the blood wafted a coppery smell. “Well, it seems you’re a dragonborn and vampire,” Orthar said, “Excellent.” “So what do you want to do to me?” “I see no harm in telling you, my little blood sack,” Orthar continued, “You may have noticed the weakening of the dimensional fabric. Or perhaps not. You are sort of a dullard, aren’t you?” He slapped me on the cheek. “Please. I’m a mage. At least talk to me like I know what you’re talking about, because I do,” I replied as I turned back. “Alright. All the monsters coming from different worlds. In some small part, that is due to the death of the World Eater. But it doesn’t stop there. What has been done to the world by the death of a god will heal itself in time. Some true geniuses on the High Council have been experimenting with time and dimensional manipulation. Chief amongst them wants to turn it into a weapon. Some think that this meddling will cause permanent damage to our world.” “Why do you need my blood? Skyrim is lousy with dragons. Just take one of theirs,” I said. “Well, first of all, I’ve been present for a dragon killing before. When you kill them they fade into their spirit form to rejoin their brothers. If you are present, some small part of their power gets absorbed into you.” “I always wondered if those assholes got to go to dragon heaven if I killed them. Guess so,” I said. “But you,” Orthar said, “You have real blood we can take. What’s more, how may dragon souls have you absorbed at this point?” “A lot. I use them to powerup my shouts. I still have about 50 in reserve. Haven’t been word wall hunting for a looong time,” I replied. “There’s the crux. We want to extract your stored power through your blood. And use it to power our experiments.” I sighed, “Is there any way I can contribute to your research without being dead at the end of this?” “Possibly, if you play nice,” he replied, “In fact, one such experiment is ready to begin as we speak.” He slashed my wrist with his knife, but it didn’t penetrate my skin. “Uh oh,” I said, chuckling, “My skin is hard as iron. Better get something better.” He pulled out a thinner blade and made a production of sharpening it, then he sliced my wrist. I winced and the blood flowed into a jar that he collected. He walked over to an apparatus on the wall and placed it inside. A mechanical whirring occurred, then he took out the jar as it had separated into parts. Then he poured it into a much larger pipe system. “We had all this installed just for you,” Orthar said, “Don’t you feel special?” “I mean, I am. But what does the pipe system do?” I asked. “We studied the barrier for years and came up with this. Want to know how we get so many troops across continents in so little time?” “Mass teleportation?” “Time dilation,” he replied, “It’s still in it’s infancy, and we were bumbling around with other power sources before now. Call this your first test run. There’s a device in this fort that slows down time when active. Your blood is powering it right now.” “What’s the… conversion ratio?” He fiddled with some dials, “Going to start off at 1:30 ratio. This’ll give us more time to have fun. I don’t know if you noticed, but we already moved you once.” “Dang, all these prisons look the same,” I said, “Hey, how the hell do you have like six prisons in Skyrim anyway?” “That’s the thing. We just do things, and people just let us. Nobody wants to stop us. They say they’re scared, and rightly so. Mankind is a race of children without the time to grow up and figure out how to live their lives properly.” “Here we go~” “Elves just have so much longer, we know what we’re doing. In truth, what you people have been saying isn’t true. We don’t want to exterminate you. We just think you need to be looked after, cared for. Perhaps you can do a few tasks for us.” “Like animals.” “Not going to beat around the bush here. Yes,” Orthar said, “We’re going to have so much fun, you and I. How long do you think it’ll take them to find you in a secret underground prison?” “I mean, there are so many, it might take a few days,” I chuckled. “Yes, but what if every day they’re looking for you is thirty days down here of me extracting?” He started a low chuckle, which turned into a loud a raucous laugh of triumph. So that was my day 2 of captivity. A whole month of extraction and torture if I got out of line. They kept me well fed so I could provide them blood, but my body ached from being chained up constantly. Near the end of the third week, I found an opportunity. Orthar was taking a breather from toying with me (to sleep, I assume) and two guards (one male, one female) were making their rounds. "Hey, how dead to the world does this woman look?" The she-elf asked. This woman? Heh, they don't know who I am. I intentionally kept a vacant look in my eyes. "I bet if we paralyze her we could have some fun with her." I rolled my eyes. My greatest weakness. Paralysis. They gave me a paralytic poison, and when they let me down, I slumped to the ground, unable to do anything now. It was agonizing knowing freedom was within my reach, but yet still so far. "Hey what's this in her snatch?" The woman asked. "Don't take it out!" The man exclaimed, "Orthar said it keeps her from killing us with magic." "You know we could get in a lot of trouble for what we're doing," the woman said, "How are you gonna fuck her if she's full like that anyway?" "Psh, you have no imagination," he replied, "She looks pretty slack-jawed." He forced his dick in my mouth and thrusted for a little while. "What about her ass?" The woman asked. Thanks. You're going to be the first to die. He threw me over a table and slid in behind me, and it was tight. Even tighter because of the soulgem insert. I let him do it... not as if I had a choice. Then I got to thinking amongst the rhythmic pounding. Vampiric Drain doesn't take magicka. And I can perform spells without my hands. I started to form an idea. I could barely move my mouth, but I think I was smirking. I started to drain him through the plane of contact. I think he was too distracted enjoying my ass to notice. When he finally came, I smiled and found my power. I nearly drained him to death while he was going, but it was the first time I'd tried that so it was imperfect. But I got enough magicka to cure my paralysis with a no-hands spell, even with the constant drain. "She's starting to twitch! Put the chains back on her!" I sat up and used telekinesis to grab a rusty length of chain from beside me and wrapped it around the elf man's neck. The woman took out her sword and slashed for me, but I used the man as a shield. "Oh gods!" She yelled as she stabbed him in the chest. Then she yelled out, "Guards! Alarm!" I let go of his corpse, pulling the insert out of my vagina and throwing it across the room. Through with vengeance, I started casting a teleport spell with the scant borrowed magicka I had. But it was not to be. Orthar stepped in, immediately interrupting me with a paralysis spell. His guards quickly wrapped me up and chained me how I had been before. "You will never escape here," Orthar groggily said. "Your guards are idiots. You should train them bett~" one of them stuffed the rod into my mouth. "Good. I like her better that way," Orthar said, then he looked at the offending guards, "As for you..." He stepped forward and put his hand on the woman's shoulder, then he ran his dagger slowly and casually into her abdomen. "Take out the trash," Orthar said. So here I wait.
  7. Hey, it's Destana. I woke up early to hover over the hills and witness the barrier coming down. On my way I fought three dragons, who all seemed to be working in tandem and taunting me the whole way, but I'm a pro at this point. I also saw a strange giant shelled beast, a deer made out of plants, and a tribe of goblins. Damien said more and more strange creatures would be slipping into our world. Damien had picked Solaire's brain about other worlds and his in particular. "I come from a world of wholly shattered time, able to slip between other worlds by design. I can offer you guidance, because your world seems like it is nearing this outcome." It seemed Solaire had either left our world, or decided to explore for a while. In either case, he said he would return later with his ability to move between worlds. The timestreams slipped into one another like two lovers. I returned to Windhelm, which was again assaulted by a small mob of Thalmor (maybe trying to soften us up one more time). Two gargoyles and volkihar vampires acting in the daylight (overcast) helped the Stormcloaks and random adventurers fend off the attack. When you've got the vampires on your side, you know things are looking bad. I knew the real assault was coming when a courier handed me a note just a stone's throw from the Palace of Kings. I noted a nonzero number of Imperial troops in the city. I stepped up to Commander Balfhe at the map room, with Serana, the kids, Ulfric, and a few others standing around. And one person I didn't recognize. "Who is this guy?" I asked, balking at the man next to him, wearing Imperial officer's armor. "This is General Sialius. I worked under him when I fought for the Legion years ago." "Please, I can speak for myself. I'm the General of Cyrodiil's forces," Sialius replied. "What's going on? Why are you here?" I asked. "Our defeat was absolute to the south. Our new lord wants us to continue to bow to the Aldmeri and pay them tribute, hoping they will leave us well enough alone, but I know better. They will not stop until they hold all of Tamriel and have wiped men off the face of this world. I was waiting for the barrier to come down to step across. I came here to rally the Imperial troops. I came here to help the Stormcloaks drive back the Dominion, once and for all." "Hmm..." I stroked my chin, "Are you suggesting an alliance for the time being?" "Yes, absolutely," Sialius said, "You're the Queen here, right? Are you the General of the Stormcloak forces?" I pursed my lips, "I tend to get my hands dirty a lot more than generals or royalty tend to, but yeah, I guess so." Sialius bowed his head, "In that case, I would like to declare my allegiance to Skyrim, and to you. I will command Imperial forces under your banner." "I remember him," Ulfric nodded to me, then turned to him, "You fought well at the Battle of the Red Ring. You have my blessing. We need all the help we can get." "I agree," I said, "Balfhe, why did you send for me? Has the assault begun?" "Yes. Our scouts report they have already started moving toward Riften and Falkreath," Balfhe said. "Alright," I cracked my knuckles, "Damien, take Fenrir and Serana. Teleport to Solitude and inform Commander Hrolf, then go to Falkreath and support the army there." I turned to Runa, "Runa, we're going to Riften." "Why send almost everyone away?" Serana asked. She looked... mildly perturbed, nervous. "Easy," I turned to the group, "You guys are all strong. I feel like together you stand a good chance to keep them out of Falkreath. Riften has the Thieves' Guild. And they'll have me. I'm not trying to act like a big badass here, but I woke up early this morning and killed three dragons, a goblin tribe, a giant snail, and half a dozen Thalmor right at our front door. Oh, and befriended a giant. You guys are the knights, bishops and rooks, and I'm the queen from chess. We need to put me in a place where I can do the most damage unabated." Serana sighed, "If you think it's best." Ulfric smirked, "You haven't seen some of the things I've seen this woman do. She led every major charge in the civil war. And she's only gotten stronger since then." "Gods, don't you think I know? She killed the lord of all vampires, my father, and I know what he's capable of. And not only over sixty dragons, but a literal god. But you're not invincible." "She's right, mom," Damien said, "From what I hear the Thalmor are dipping deep into powerful magics, even more than they are known for." Fenrir folded his arms, "I saw how much that Thalmor Justiciar was ripping through you with magic. You're not resistant to magic. And these guys are no joke. But I think you can do it." Runa slapped me on the back, "And she's got me to watch her back." "Good luck everyone," I said, then I teleported myself and Runa to Riften. First thing I did was go to the graveyard and open up the sliding grave entrance, stepping into the Ragged Flagon Cistern. "Whoa, there are a lot of new recruits here," I said. A Khajiit noticed me immediately, turned and shook my hand, "The old guildmaster. It is an honor. I am called Gnives. You are light on your feet." "Sneaking is a habit, I guess," I said. "Impressive. Others develop bad habits, being noisy one day and quiet the next. It is best to always walk softly, so stealth is natural as breath." "You have good ears," I said. "Twenty paces to the east, a thief scratches his ear. Fifty paces further, a beggar sighs and counts his few coins. Two stories above, a couple shares vows, while underneath in the catacombs, a widow weeps for her husband. The cat hears, the mind knows." "Lass, how you been?" Brynjolf had gathered a group of people around him while I spoke with the cat, in the middle of the cistern. Runa stepped up to the middle and said, "Alright, I spoke to you guys earlier. The day has come. The Thalmor are at our doorstep. Anybody who doesn't want to help, stay here. I'm sure you can hide under the Thalmor in these sewers if they've taken over." "Of course, that time I got Esburn out of here it was from the Thalmor. So they probably know something is down here," I said. "I'm in," a woman said. I'm pretty sure I'd seen her before, but I couldn't remember. Definitely not one of the guys from the old days. "Methredel," she said, "I know you don't know me very well." I nodded. Brynjolf added, "I'll come. I'd rather steal from the current residents." Coming from the main room of the flagon, was Vex and Delvin. "You in?" I asked. "Hell, I guess. You know I don't like you very much," Vex put her hand on my shoulder, "But I hope you don't die out there." "Oi, time for a real dust up with the Thalmor. Finally get to make my mark on history," Delvin said. We went topside. They went to the main gates, and I went to Mistveil Keep. "Hey, who's in charge of the defense?" I asked. Laila pointed to a man sitting behind her. "Let's get to it. What's your name?" "Hlofgahr the Brave. You're Destana Stormblade?" "Yep. Let's get out there." "So you're the great warrior I've been hearing so much about. I hear you did some great things in the civil war. Hopefully you carry them forward here," he said, "Come on. Let's join the men on the front. Seeing you should help boost morale a bit." I shook my head as we jogged through the city, "I've done a lot since then." I grabbed my group, threw down a Call to Arms, and we walked out the doors with the guards. Amassed were a healthy fighting force of Stormcloaks, Imperials, town guards, hunters, and now, thieves. Hlofgahr shouted to the assembled, "These elves think they can stroll in here and take our lands. Take our lives. Well, we need to stop them here. For Skyrim!!" "For Skyrim!" The force shouted. "Here they come!" Somebody shouted. We rushed forward, me jumping over the barricades to get to the furthest ones and meet the front line of defenders as the forces smashed together. The Thalmor troops opened up with fire and lightning, arrows and bound weapons, ripping through the first barricade in seconds. Our forces fell back, and the Thalmor pressed on. An actual full-scale battle is a bloody, confusing, violent mess. My thieves and I fought with stealth and grace, killing wantonly as the actual warriors stood toe-to-toe. I killed men and women left and right, but the Thalmor's forces were monstrous. After the first wave, a second force crested the hill that dwarfed ours. And we fell back. Every time Runa cleaved through a Thalmor warrior, two would take their place. "They've been preparing!" She shouted to me as I used her for a distraction and stabbed her opponents in the back, "Gods, we need to fall back more!" I furrowed my brow as I looked at her, "You support the army. I'm going to pray to Nocturnal." "What are you...?" She started, but then I finished casting Invisibility. Runa fell back, regrouping with the thieves, "I'll keep them off you, just make sure you stab them in the back." I weaved between the Thalmor forces. This was risky, even for me. I revealed myself, decapitating a summoner Thalmor wizard. Then I recasted Invis. The dozen mer that turned towards me threw out wild swings, but I leapt over them and planted myself in a completely different place. I repeated this a few times with some of the most devastating targets: a Wood Elf casting Destruction spells on our lines, the archer captain, another summoner. The Thalmor's back lines were on high alert now, so I knew I only had a couple more uses of this tactic. I spied the commander in the very back. Using my most stealthy moves, I crept up behind him. I grabbed him about the shoulder, putting my off-hand dagger to his throat. "Do what you will, savage!" The Thalmor shouted, "If I am killed, there will be another! Men are a blight on this~" I stabbed him through the neck, but before I could recast my spell, three agents were on me, ripping the weapons from my hands. "FUS-RO-DAH!" I blasted them back, though the one behind me got me in a full nelson. I struggled, kicking the Argonian in front of me and flipping behind the one holding me. I grabbed the Steel Dagger on his belt and stabbed him in the back. I raised my hand, using telekinesis to collect my weapons from the ground. A mountain of Thalmor and auxiliaries were bearing down on me now. I readied invis, and started to cast it, but one of the mer in front of me casted a small firebolt and knocked me out of my concentration. I'd trained in this ability myself, though I'd never gotten a chance to use it - the ability to interrupt spellcasting. Welp, guess I need to use something that can't be interrupted. "TIID-KLO!" I shouted, slowing time. I hoped Riften would be okay with the damage I'd just done. I sprinted away from the battle, enemies still on my heels. "It's the Dragonborn! Capture her!" One of them shouted when time returned. "WULD!" I shouted, Whirlwind Sprinting to put more distance between us. "Time to get back to Riften," I said, readying Teleport: Riften. I warmed up the spell - a five second cast, and I was hit by an arrow. Then another, and another. There were at least a dozen of them still following me. I guessed running wasn't going to be an option. And I was out of sight of the city now. I flexed and transformed into a Vampire Lord. I was met with a flurry of arrows and lightning spells. When the soldiers got to me, I chewed through them with Blood Storm. But damn, these guys were still elites. I discorporated into bats, for a few feet... then... ran out of magicka. The damned arrows had some kind of magicka poison. And it was daytime. I could feel my stamina not returning, my blood burning in the sunlight. I reverted my form. "TIID!" I rushed for the archers, who were still peppering me with arrows. I reached them as the Slow Time ended and decapitated one of them. As I rushed and fought one archer after another, I could feel myself running out of everything. The casters alternated blasting me with ice and lightning. Then... it happened. An arrow pierced my knee, causing me to crouch. One of the archers grabbed me by the arm and stabbed for my chest. I pulled back and took it in the shoulder. "FU~" I started, but the lead caster blasted me with paralysis, knocking me to the ground. An archer grabbed me by the hair and stabbed me in the belly. My blood gushed onto the ground as my vision started to blur. I remember thinking that I was going to die here. Finally, after all this time, in the defense for the first city in Skyrim I called my home. I kicked and screamed, my fluids flowing freely until I fell unconscious. ------------------------------------ "Runa! We're losing! We have to flee!" Hlofgahr the Brave shouted as they fought up against the gates. "I know!" I replied. "This city wasn't made to defend against attacks!" Delvin said, "One of them got in through the docks and opened the gates." "Dammit!" I shouted, "Where is my mom?" "She'll be okay. She has a million getaway schemes, lass," Brynjolf replied. Small pockets of fighting led to groups of Riften's forces falling back to inside the city and beyond. When a group passed by, Delvin yelled, "Where's Methredel... and Vex?!" "Methredel fell back already," Brynjolf said, "We should too, lad. We need to keep to the shadows like thieves." "But..." Delvin started. Brynjolf put his hand on the man's shoulder. "We need to go!" Hlofgahr shouted. "I'm going to look!" Delvin slipped into the shadows, and then was gone. Hlofgahr gathered the men he knew and they fled the city, while the thieves and I regrouped in the Ragged Flagon. Hours later, Delvin walked into the flagon. With a look of pure rage and malice on his face, he stabbed a green glass dagger into the bar. Vex's dagger. "Whatever the Stormcloaks and Dark Brotherhood need," Delvin ground his teeth, "They'll fucking have it. I'm going to murder every single last one of these bastards." Tonilia said, "I know I want to get them back. For Vex." "For Vex!" They all raised glasses. I nodded, "I need to find my mom. She wouldn't just vanish without a good reason." Cynric Endell stood up, "I'm good at tracking, how are you at stealth?" "Pretty good," Runa said. Then she turned to Delvin, "You guys stay here. We need eyes in this city." "Maybe some assassinations too," Tonilia said. So when night fell, Cynric and I left the flagon at the entrance by the stables. Dodging the Thalmor, randos burying and burning dead, the scavengers and thieves robbing corpses, it was pretty much impossible to get a trail. Hundreds of bodies, blood, equipment... it was a losing proposition. We looked for hours, but came up short. I sent Cynric back home, stopped by the Falkreath Sanctuary. Alexstrasza, and quite a few new faces greeted me before I found Arnbjorn, who'd taken up leadership here for the time being. "How did the battle go here?" I asked. "Not well. We lost," Arnbjorn replied. "We lost in Riften too. For now, gather information. Keep an eye and ear out in the city," I replied, "I'm going to regroup." Then I left for Windhelm. Shadowmere was fast, but it still took until morning. When I regrouped with Damien, Fenrir and the others, I found out just how crushing the defeat at Falkreath had been. We were ill prepared for their sheer numbers, and the years of training they'd undergone in oppression of the entire continent. To cement their holdings, the Thalmor publicly executed Jarl Laila Law-Giver and Jarl Dengeir and installed Justiciars to replace them. That day came to be known as the Day of Defeat. "Wait, where the hell is my wife?" Serana asked. "I... don't know," I replied. --------------------------------------------------------- "Let's begin, what is your name?" "Destana." "Not going to lie or spit or generally be a savage?" "I don't really see much reason to lie. The truth is, you're going to die. Soon. And I'm getting out of here," I said. A torch flickered to life in the hallway, revealing my surroundings. I was in a cell with several other prisoners, already dead. One of them had already started to smell. I was dressed in shabby brown sack clothes with none of my equipment, but also not chained or bound in any way. I checked my wounds, and they'd been bound and healed. "My, this seems familiar," I said. "So you're familiar with being imprisoned, then?" The mer said condescendingly. "I don't know if you know this, but Skyrim's pretty brutal," I replied, gripping the bars in my hands, "You know it took you guys about twenty to take me down?" "It takes a lot of handlers to take down a rampaging bull. But rest assured, things will right," the Thalmor said. He was clothed in Thalmor robes and approached the bars to speak to me closely as two guards patrolled the hall behind him. "Do you know who I am?" I asked flatly. "Someone said you're Dragonborn. Like some kind of Tiber Septim wannabe," he replied, "Do you expect me to be impressed?" "No. I expect you to die," I said. I grabbed his robe through the bars, casted Bound Dagger and stabbed him in the neck. He collapsed, dead. I unlocked the door with the Unlock spell. The guards rushed over, stabbing me with polearms. They backed me into the cell then into the corner. I got ready to shout, when I was stabbed through both shoulders and pinned to the wall. I took a breath again, and another Thalmor wizard rushed over, throwing a paralyze spell on me. "You...... fuc..... king...... git...." I squeezed out. "Kill her! Now!" The wizard shouted. "DO NOT!" Another wizard entered, speaking softly, "She is an extremely valuable and dangerous prisoner. We are waiting for the lead Inquisitor to come in from Falkreath. For now, you idiots keep her under control. She does indeed have dragon blood and is one of the most dangerous, most wanted persons in this godsforsaken country." While I was still paralyzed, they chained my hands to the ceiling and stripped me naked, forcing me to stand for the time being. Fortunately, my wounds healed quickly. I think I may have fallen asleep standing up, because I was started awake by two of the guards talking. "You think she's as dangerous as people say?" One asked. "Nah, I doubt it. What's taking the damn Inquisitor so long anyway? Falkreath isn't that far from here," the other asked. "Supposedly he's in Elswyer, interrogating some insurgents. I think a Nord woman, a few others... and a blue khajiit. Then he's going to teleport to Falkreath and come here. When I asked, they said he'd be here in the morning," the first one replied. "Hey guys," I said, "Just wanted to let you know I'm awake. I'm getting awfully hungry. Mind giving me something to eat?" The first one sighed, "Yeah. The Interrogator likes to have them at full strength before he breaks them." He grabbed a bucket with a gruel-like substance and walked over to me, "I'm going to pour some of this in your mouth. Open up." "Oh, I'm a vampire," I said. I pulled myself up by the chains and wrapped my legs around the man's neck. "No! Please! I have a wife and son!" The mer shouted. I snapped his neck, then I brought him up to me, latching my fangs onto his neck. I drank my fill and dumped him on the floor. "By the fucking gods, I guess the stories are true," the other one said, surprisingly calm. "You're awfully calm about me killing your friend," I said. "Well, he was kind of a dick. I'd prefer if you didn't kill me. But you're still chained up and I'm not coming close to you," he smirked. "What's your name, guy?" I asked. "Saulet." "When I bust out of here, I'll do my best not to kill you," I smirked. Just then a group of Thalmor soldiers and the high ranking wizard from before rushed in. "What happened here?" The wizard asked. "This guy got too close. I'm not as much of a fool." He sighed and casted another paralysis spell on me, "Alright. Chain up her legs." He did so, and then a changing of the guard happened. A couple hours later (I presume, I don't have any way to tell time), more soldiers came by. I was just hanging out (literally), resting my eyes, when a couple more guards happened by. "Hey, fellow guard, what say we have some fun with this prisoner who cannot fight back?" "Honestly, who talks like that?" The other guard asked, "Act normal you weirdo." He looked upon my naked, dirty, bloody form, "Although, you do have a point. She's got a pretty nice body." They thought I was asleep. I was only pretending to be asleep. They opened the door. They started pulling down their trousers. I opened my eyes and smiled at them. "That's right, woman. I don't know why you're so well chained up," the first one said, "But we're going to have some fun with you." "Your funeral," I replied. "What was that?" The second one grabbed my chin and spat in my face. "I said... most skilled casters can still cast spells even when their wrists are bound." "Wait.. what?" I flicked my wrist, improved Telekinesis lifting the elven dagger off the unattended guard's belt, and it stabbing him in the back of the neck. He fell on the floor, dead. The second one rushed away, but I gripped my hand and the door slammed shut. "Lock," I said flippantly. "Who the hell are you?" The second guard asked. "I'm the actual devil," I replied as the dagger chased him around the room. He turned to grab the thing, and he fought against the force of the blade as it slowly slid into his eye, killing him. When the wizard once again rushed in with his pocket guards, I had already telekinesis'd the key and was freeing myself, but again, they fell back on paralysis. I tried throwing up a ward, but I was too slow. "Alright, this is getting out of hand. This time I want her in mittens, chained and bound all parts of her body. Call a muster. I'm going to brief everyone in this fortress about how fucking dangerous she is," the wizard said. When they'd set me up in my new digs, and I had recovered from paralysis, I finally replied to him, "You should probably kill me now. I have a feeling you're going to run out of guards." The wizard gripped me by the hair, "What are you going to do now?" "The most dangerous part of me," I said, "Did you forget I'm dragonborn?" I leaned in so my nose was nearly touching his and then shouted, "YOL-TOOR!" And blasted Flame Breath in his face. He grabbed his face, "MY EYES!" I was chuckling when they started beating me about the body. "FUS-RO-DAH!" I blasted the guards away from me. I laughed again, "You guys are fucking amateurs! You think you can conquer Skyrim? I am a dragon that was born in the crucible of this harsh land and I WILL BREAK YOU EVEN FROM CAPTIVITY!" "Gods!" The wizard shouted, still gripping at his face, "Put a fucking gag on her!" "NAAK DII GOLT!" Not a shout, just me telling them to eat my ass. With some trouble on their part, they finally got a facemask on me with a hole at my mouth. One of them inserted a plug that went into my mouth and screwed into the face of the mask. Even without the plug, it was very hard to enunciate enough to shout, but with it I couldn't speak at all. I figured I'd done enough damage by that time. It was time for some sleep. In the morning, I was woken with a slap by the wizard who I'd blinded. He unscrewed the plug and pulled it out of my mouth. My jaw was sore from having it in my mouth all night. There was another Thalmor wizard there now. "Who the hell are you?" I asked. "Aerandil. Aldarilar. Tilar Aedriath. Ondolemar. And I hear your son killed Ancano. And how many more Thalmor have you killed? My name matters not. But if you must know, I am the High Inquisitor Orthar Alkinius. Several of those I mentioned before were my friends." "Why should I care?" I asked. "Oh, I wouldn't imagine you would. I'm just establishing a background. At the end of this, you will be screaming to tell me all your secrets. And I wish to learn a great many things from you. First," he turned to the blind wizard, "First, have your bravest guard insert this." He turned back to me, "This soulgem insert in your vagina will continuously drain your magicka. I know you can cast some spells without your hands. A rare and powerful technique." Orthar smirked at me, "You were holding that back to surprise us again, weren't you? Shame. You will find that unlike most the people you've fought, I've done my research."
  8. Hey there, Destana again. Last time I made the last few preparations for the Thalmor invasion, went through some training, rescued some people, fought some Thalmor insurgents. The morning of the 29th day, Fenrir came to me along with Runa, Damien, Ulfric and Serana. “Mom, we have two primary commanders with two forces so that if either major city is taken, we’ll have a reserve. In Windhelm, Balfhe Hard-Heart. In Solitude, Hrolf Witch-Slayer. They’ve been running independent operations. You may notice a few groups of Imperial Soldiers, many of which are stationed in Solitude. They’re defectors to the Bandit King. Still Imperial, but they came here to join the fight against the Thalmor, or because they were trapped here by the Time Break.” “Hmm… maybe I shouldn’t have killed those Imperial troops on the way out of Markarth,” I muttered. “What’s that?” “Nothing!” I smiled. “The Thieves’ Guild and Dark Brotherhood are ready,” Runa said. “As are the Vampires,” Serana said. “All right. Let’s go see Balfhe,” I said. Ulfric and Serana stayed in the throne room for now while the kids and I went to the map room. Balfhe looked over to me, wearing similar armor to Ulfric. He stood and shook my hand, “Nice to finally meet you, Stormblade.” Then he whispered, “I know your station now, but are you still up for missions? You fought in the civil war. The people look up to you, respect you. You helped free Skyrim.” “Of course. They couldn’t keep me away from doing this kind of dirty work.” “Good. I finally have a lead on the staging point for the Thalmor.” “Is it a prison?” I asked flatly. “A hidden old fort. The embassy was never where the true leadership lied, it was a cover. This is the true nerve center.” I smirked, “Sounds like something I can sink my teeth into. I won’t leave any of them alive.” “Great. I knew I could count on you. And don’t tell anyone. The Thalmor have spies, and it’s better if they don’t know you’re coming,” Balfhe said. I turned to the group, “Alright, who’s coming?” Runa nodded, “I’m in.” “Me too,” Fenrir said. “I’m sure you guys can handle this,” Damien said, “I’m going to head to Solitude and talk to Hrolf, establish what we’re up to there.” “Sounds good. Do your best, son,” I said. Damien teleported to Solitude, and we traveled on our fast horses. It wasn’t but an hour’s ride from Windhelm, on top of a plateau and hard to see from the road; tucked away. The door was coated in a strange magic, which I was able to dispel without a great deal of effort. But as we stepped inside, a portcullis slammed shut behind us. “I should’ve known,” I said. “It seems we have a fresh catch,” a Thalmor said from behind a gate in front of us, “I am Aldarilar, and you are?” “Destana Stormblade. Runa Fair-Shield. Fenrir Stormcloak,” I replied flatly, “Let us out of here.” “And why would I do that? It appears the Stormcloaks have finally found us, I hadn’t imagined it would take so long. You must be the agents they sent to take us out, hmmmm? Well, it seems this is the end of your journey. I think I’ll send your heads back to your leaders in Windhelm. That’ll send a message. Any last words?” “C’mon then. Let’s see what you’ve got,” I drew my claw and dagger. “Such arrogance! I doubt anyone will miss you with an attitude like that!” He said, and the gate started to pull away. Runa had drawn her Goblin Bow and Fenrir his Dwemer Crossbow and they fired a couple shots as I ran in (how backwards). I slashed at the mer in the doorway until they passed by me. The kids drew their melee weapons to engage and I took on the next couple. Runa and Fenrir slashed through the first ones in record time, and I threw up invisibility, letting the third and fourth go for them as well. I took the opportunity and slit one’s throat, but Runa caved his chest in at the same time, and for the fourth one I FUS-RO-DAH’d him to the far side of the room. This gave me an opportunity to rush into the room, the others following. Aldarilar was ready with powerful sprays of lightning, cutting through my vitality quickly, even as I slashed at him. I strafed him about a pillar and healed myself while Runa and Damien flanked him. “TIID!” I shouted as I emerged at hyper-speed, slashing him in the back. But he was very slippery and hard to pin down, backing away as he sprayed the kids with fire. Even alone, he was no joke. I threw a Nemesis on him, cutting through his life force with a baleful illusory copy of Aldarilar, while Runa gave him the last few strikes he needed to go down. I breathed a sigh of relief and threw down a group heal. Clearly, these were the elites. Their leader could even give me trouble with support. Project 07_02-03-2022_18-55-36-761.mp4 We proceeded to use maximum stealth to clean out the rest of the secret fortress, all of us using our ranged attacks. “That is a nice crossbow, Fenrir,” I said. “I’ve been studying the construction and pieced together a few schematics, built them all myself. This one is a very rare later dwemer bowgun that uses magazines; an autoloader.” “You mean you don’t have to reload after every shot?” I asked. “Here, give it a try,” he tossed it to me. I shot the next Thalmor with precision accuracy and it loaded the next bolt itself. “You can have that one. I know it’s not magical like the Nerevarine’s Bow, but it might come in handy.” “Don’t you need it?” “I have two more,” Fenrir pulled out a similar looking one with a beefier looking barrel. “What’s that one do?” I asked. He aimed around the next corner and shot, it blasting five bolts at once. “WOW!” I blinked, “That could tear through an enemy.” “Only problem is it eats through ammo, and I have to reload one of these magazines after every shot. But it’s not any slower than a normal crossbow.” Runa sighed, “You and I need to find something to nerd out about together. You guys have this, you and Damien have magic. I use heavy armor and greatswords and you use small weapons and… no armor. Or clothing… I guess.” “I mean, you could probably pull this off too,” I smirked. “Mom!” Runa groaned. “We could get our hair done! I like your hair!” She smiled, twirling her braid, “Thanks.” Later as I was breaking into some footlockers, Runa said, “You know you don’t need to open every single lock in here. How much is actually in those?” “Only about 20 gold in each locker.” “How much gold do you have?” “Like… 270K I think. I donated a bunch to the war effort. It’s hard to keep track when you can just stuff it in the dimensional bag,” I chuckled, “And to answer you – I’m thorough!” When we were done, Fenrir asked, “Could you drop me off at Solitude before you go back to Windhelm?” “Sure.” “I’m going to stop by the Dawnstar Sanctuary,” Runa said, “Only a bit north of here.” When I got back to Windhelm, I was alone, and the teleport puts me in the Gray Quarter. So I walked up to the Palace of Kings. Suddenly – the sounds of a mass teleport. The plaza was covered in Thalmor troops, but it had already been loosely populated with Stormcloaks and armed citizens who joined the melee. I joined the fray and after a few minutes we took them all down. A few guard casualties, but all the Thalmor casualties. Project 06_02-03-2022_18-53-5-801.mp4 “They’re getting bolder,” I said as I walked into the Palace of Kings. “How did it go?” Balfhe asked. “It’s done. No survivors. Those guys were surprisingly tough. Maybe that’ll make it harder for them to coordinate an attack once they get here, but I doubt it.” “But in the short term, it’s good.” “What’s the latest?” I folded my arms. “Just like you predicted, they’re massing at the Cyrodiil borders. We’re struggling to get supplies where we need them. You’re pretty good at getting places fast right? Mind looking for our last convoy?” “Sure. Mark the map,” I held out my quest book’s map. I teleported to a Forsworn site and flew there. I approached the convoy in stealth to find it being ransacked by Thalmor. I shot them down. They put up a good fight with magic, but I won. No survivors, for or against me. I teleported back to Windhelm and gave him the news. “Damned Thalmor. We need to change up our routes. Do you mind doing another small job?” “Sure, shoot.” “This is probably beneath your station and job description, but with your mobility… also, durability, I know these will get to their destinations,” he handed me two packets of official battle plans and orders, “We all know you can look after yourself.” “Fine. Where?” Fort Neugrad in Falkreath Hold and Fort Greenwall in the Rift.” I took the first to Velfrid, and we were immediately assaulted by two assassins headed right for the commander. I used stealth and stabbed the first in the back and fought the second off with Commander Velfrid’s help. Then I took the second to Commander Savild. Nothing interesting there. And I was back in Windhelm. “That’s all for now,” Balfhe said, “We have a covert op we’re putting together tonight. Be back here later if you want in. At the very least, try to be back here in the morning. Everybody knows when that barrier comes down it’s going to be Thalmor city over here.” “I’m going to Solitude,” I said, “Be back in a few hours.” I appeared at the gates and headed over to Castle Dour. I walked in to the map room there and found a man in Stormcloak armor, pouring over the map. “Ah, I recognize you. Stormblade, right? I saw you with Ulfric before the battle for Solitude. Great day for Skyrim. I’m Hrolf Witch-Slayer,” the man shook my hand, “I’m sure you have all sorts of wild stories to tell. I’d love to hear them when I have the time. You come here to help in the defense effort?” “As a matter of fact, I did. Seen my boys?” I asked. “Yeah, I already put them to work. A local warlock making it hard for us to muster defenses in the Pale, and a man dueling half the countryside.” “What you got for me, commander?” I asked. “I do have a small job for someone of your…” He looked me up and down, “Talents.” “What’s that supposed to mean?!” I asked. “A supply convoy got ransacked, we think it was by Forsworn. What did you think I meant?” I blinked, “Honestly, I don’t know. Just mark it on my map. I bet it was the damned Lost Tribe.” I teleported to a nearby town, and found it was under attack by a dragon, the first I’d seen in a couple weeks at least. This one was colorful and powerful. They must be weeding out the lesser boys, or at least getting them in line. I hovered, peppering him with arrows, then threw down a Dragonrend to get him on the ground. “Balaan hakoran! You are brave, your defeat brings me honor!” The dragon shouted. Him and I fought hand-to-hand for a while. A large white bear and hunter joined in, and the dragon was downed. I thanked the hunter and his pet, and made my way to the convoy site. I found dead Stormcloaks, a wagon driver, and a few Imperial auxiliaries, and a dead Forsworn. Yep, definitely the Lost. As I finished my investigation, I was attacked by bandits, probably figuring they’d scavenge what the Forsworn hadn’t taken. But I took them down. I followed the trail of blood from an injured Forsworn and it led me to a cave to the South with another dead Forsworn. I stepped inside. A shirtless Forsworn n a headdress greeted me at the entrance, “Our chieftain, Chlodio, wished to speak with you. Please, come this way.” I walked through the cave, finding only maybe a dozen emaciated forsworn, more than half noncombatants and children. I stepped up onto a rock plateau and he said, “Greetings. I knew you would come. Saw it in the blood. It never lies, you know? More truth in the dead than in the living?” “You a shaman? They still haven’t taught me everything,” I said. Chlodio tilted his head, unsure what to make of me. “I know, a Redguard woman in Forsworn garb representing the Stormcloaks is kind of confusing. I strive to be the peacemaker amongst the tribes and the holds,” I replied. “The blood said – a great hero of the blue ones. Those who would bury us under their boot heels. Ironic that you’re this tribe’s last hope. You’re the one who put Madanach back on the throne?” “Yes.” “Be advised – not all the tribes swear fealty to him.” “I know. Hagravens and the human witches under them work with us, but I hear they have a shadowy mistress called the Night Matron. And the western reachmen in High Rock aren’t with us. Then there’s the Lost,” I said, “Your name, not mine.” “I must admit, that was my pet project. But it may have spiraled out of control. Many of them are independent now, roving and pillaging as they please. As you can see, now, this group is in no shape to resist you. Thank you for staying your hand.” “You’ve seen what I can do. I like to take the weak and build them back up. Because…” I paused, “Because I used to be weak. I know what it’s like. So, what brought you to this lowly state?” “We’re cursed. Some time ago a Stormcloak patrol found our original home, burning, killing and pillaging indiscriminately. My own wife was dishonored, maimed. She took her own life later. Shaming us was not enough for them though. They took our most precious heirloom. Betrana’s Jug. It was used by the great hag, Betrana. She would pour the fresh blood of screaming enemies into the vessel, chanting to the old… actually that’s not important. Without the jug, we’ve grown weak. The curse weighs heavily on us all. If you manage to return it, my tribe will be in your debt.” “First of all, can you blame them, after how many your tribe has killed?” I asked, “But an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. I aim to end this cycle of hate. Where was your camp and how long ago was this?” He marked it on my map, and I followed the trail, covering large stretches of land by flight. I found a small warparty in the afternoon, fighting off a group of wolves just outside their camp. When I set down, they were divving up spoils from their earlier hunt. “Who goes there?” One of the men said. “Fool, that’s Stormblade,” the man looked me up and down, “I heard you’d gone native, but I didn’t expect this. I remember you wearing Nightingale armor, or maybe it was dragonbone. Who remembers after ten years? Either way, it’s an honor. Please, sit and drink with us. Surely you have some stories to share.” “I do. But you know the Thalmor are going to invade tomorrow. I’m on a timetable. I heard you guys looted a jug from the forsworn. Could I have it?” “I have it,” one of the men said. “Look at this!” The first man said, “You came here for some junk we took off a savage wench? You have gone native. And soft. “She can have it, I don’t care,” the other man said. “No, don’t give it to her. Look at you, groveling and pleading. It sickens me you ever wore the same uniform as we did, coward,” he turned to pick up a piece of the meat. “You know, I can see why so many people hate the Stormcloaks,” I said. When he turned back, I’d already touched the Nerevarine’s Bow and gone invisible. They shrugged and went back to their feasting. I took the easiest path forward: I pickpocketed the jug off the man’s belt, they didn’t notice, and I went on my way. I flew back to Chlodio and gave it to him. “There it is, Bretana’s own vessel. We are forever in your debt. If we are capable, I and what’s left of my tribe will gladly fight by your side,” he sighed, and continued, “You’ve already done so much. But I must ask you one more favor. Deeper in this cave, beyond the barrier we made, is a deep Falmer hole. They’re at our throats.” “Killing Falmer? Fine. It’ll probably take the afternoon, but I can do it,” I said. I ventured deeper, casting a Perpetual Light spell because it was extremely dark down here. I used my normal method: stealthy archer, until I got to the end which reminded me of the Pit of 100 Battles. Waves of Falmer assaulted me until the chief came in. But I transformed into a Vampire Lord and blasted them all with Blood Storm. I gave the forsworn the news, and they pledged their undying loyalty to my cause. Then I went back to Solitude. “I ended up helping the small group of Forsworn. They want peace now,” I said, “Got to kill a bunch of Falmer.” “I’m fairly skeptical about the whole ‘forsworn joining the cause’ thing. But I’ll trust you on this,” Hrolf said. We waited there for a while for the boys to come back. Eventually sitting around the table we got to talking. “So what are you going to do if we survive this war?” “You mean like after we’ve secured Skyrim and the Thalmor are no longer a threat? Not sure,” Hrolf pondered, “What about you?” “I dunno. There always seems to be something for me to do. Maybe go to Solstheim? Maybe go back to Hammerfell for a little bit? Or I could enjoy being a queen.” “Well, I love hunting. Always have. I like the outdoors, and … being alone. I don’t like being with people. I know most people don’t want to admit that but I like solitude,” Hrolf said. “I can understand that. I do my best work alone,” I said. “If I had my druthers I’d just live in a cabin in the woods, hunt some deer every now and then, read, and, I don’t know, maybe other things.” “What kind of other things?” I asked. “The kind of things you don’t freely share with fellow Stormcloaks,” Hrolf said, “I’m going to tell you, but I swear to Talos if you tell anyone, I’ll cut your throat. I mean that.” We paused, and finally he said, “I like to paint. I love the vistas and the views outside. I like to sit up on the mountains and paint the world as I see it. Obviously not the kind of hobby you talk about when you’re supposed to be a bloodthirsty Stormcloak officer. The natural world fascinates me. I love animals. I mean, I hunt them, but just the bare minimum to survive and keep myself sharp. Besides, if I couldn’t hunt, it’d be just one more thing for the ‘nord’ nords to criticize me about. They’d say the Breton was coming out and I was weak, so I hunt the animals. But I respect them, no question.” “I understand. I play the Lute, I like to build buildings. I read and write. I enchant. They’re all art. Runa loves to cook,” I said. “I’m quite the smith and I love dwemer construction,” Fenrir said as he walked in. Hrolf stared daggers at Fenrir, “Private conversation. What do you have for me, prince?” Fenrir smiled, “I fought the man. It took hours, but I won. But let me tell you the details…” --------------------------------- Hey, this is Fenrir. I’m pretty damn excited to finally let my voice be heard here. Runa gets to do this, why shouldn’t I? Anyway, I approached Hrolf first. He looked me up and down. “Hey, I’m Fenrir. Got any tasks for me before tomorrow?” “You know, from your letters and what I’ve heard, I pictured you differently,” Hrolf said, “Doesn’t matter. I got something. You a good fighter? One-on-one?” “Sure.” “For all its faults, the Empire has a sound legal system that offers a uniform code of law for all of Skyrim. But now, there are problems,” Hrolf said, “For instance, the revival of the Holmgang, also known as a trial by combat. It’s a traditional method to resolve disputes between Nords. Rare under the empire, only really used by independent Nords like the Sverd. However, it is apparently back in fashion. A man named Gunnarr has been roaming Skyrim, challenging Nords to duels. By doing so, he’s able to intimidate people into giving up their assets. Only a handful have face him and all perished. He is abusing the tradition and mocking our laws. He has to be stopped.” “So you want me to fight him?” I asked. “Yes, we need proof that there’s justice in the Holmgang. You will prove this by challenging Gunnarr to a duel and defeating him.” “Well, what if there’s not justice in the Holmgang? Whoever has the strongest man is just right. I know, I know, the theory is the gods will decide. But you think the gods really take such a personal interest in our petty squabbles?” Hrolf sighed. “Alright, alright. I get your point. Can’t have a guy going around beating everybody up. I’ll take care of it.” “He’s rumored to be loitering at the Nightgate Inn. If he’s a traditionalist it shouldn’t be much trouble to goad him.” When I got to Nightgate (which took me a couple hours, Runa let me borrow Shadowmere) I found a few colorful characters. A man wearing draugr armor called Moris the Draugr because of his prowess on the battlefield. A hunter with a white snow bear, and then Gunnarr. I walked over to him. “I heard you’re quite the duelist.” “You heard right. Wait, I know your face. You’re that big Stormcloak leader aren’t you? Stormdrain? I have to say you’re … underwhelming.” “Yep. That’s me. Fenrir Stormdrain,” I said. “What do you want, a drink? Stick around and we can bottle up some piss for you, Stormdrain.” “Actually, I came here to pick a fight,” I said. “Well, you’ve got it. It will be my honor to beat you up. Go to where the three roads meet and we’ll let the steel do the talking.” I went straight there and found him in the middle of a snowstorm, making the afternoon pretty dang overcast. He took out his sword and shield and I my axe and shield and we spent an very large amount of time feinting, blocking and striking, feeling each other out. Don’t get me wrong, he was tough and a master swordsman, and I would’ve lost within a few minutes if I hadn’t adjusted my strategy. First, when I got hurt, I chugged a potion, then I swapped to my old Stormcloak axe that sends my target flying onto their back after they take so many hits from it. When I got him down the first time, I swapped to one of my Dwemer Crossbows (the one that fires five shots at once) and buried the shots in his chest. When he got back, I was ready for another round of shield tag. This went on for a while until the ground was coated in our blood and it was afternoon. Finally, he yielded. Surprisingly, pretty boring. But I learned a few things about using a shield from fighting the man for hours. He saluted me, “You did well. I knew it would be a Stormcloak in the end that would beat me. I only ask you hear my request before you send me to Sovngarde.” “Honestly, I don’t see the need to kill you. Just stop dueling people,” I said back, “What’s your request?” “I fought for the Legion. I fought well. Earned my retirement just before Ulfric’s rebellion. I was sick of war, so I stayed out of it. Never thought that pompous blowhard would pull it off. He’s doomed us all, you know? Skyrim, all of Tamriel. The Dominion will destroy us. I figured I’d join in old Nord traditions with the Holmgang, and I made a killing. No shortage of cocky Stormcloaks willing to duel. Wasn’t trying to get rich, though. Trying to prove the stupidity of the tradition for one thing. For another, I used it to smuggle people out of Skyrim. Up until a few months ago, that is.” “Why, though?” I asked, “Ulfric is my father. He’s changed since the old days.” “Boy, you might be your father’s glowing diamond in the rough, but he sees you and your mother as exceptions to the rule, mark my words. Anyway, don’t matter now. I want no part in Ulfric’s Skyrim. I’m no position to ask you this, but will you help my family escape?” He asked. “I can help you to the border so that when the times line up you can step across. That should be tomorrow morning.” “You’re serious? No tricks? You’re an honorable man. Certainly more honorable than I’d have expected from a Stormcloak,” Gunnarr said, “Time is of the essence. Meet me outside Riverwood, and we’ll depart for Hammerfell. The Cyrodiil border is too risky right now.” “Agreed.” I rode with him to Riverwood. We picked up his family and their scant belongings, and took our leave. Near the border, we were ambushed by Bounty Hunters and they brought a few with them. While Gunnarr, Shadowmere, and I were fighting with the hunters, we were all ambushed by a large group of bandits. To protect the children, I knew it was time to pull out the third crossbow, and I set it on autofire. Project 10_02-07-2022_23-18-59-37.mp4 After mowing through the bandits and hunters, and looting them for what they had, I showed Gunnarr and his family the border. They thanked us and I made my way back here. “You didn’t kill him, though?” Hrolf asked. “Well, no. But I didn’t need to.” “Get off the kid’s back,” Mom said, “He dealt with the problem.” In the meantime, Damien had walked in and was ready to tell his story. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello, audience. This is Damien Guivenne and now I will tell my story. Unfortunately, Meru is off doing whatever (she doesn't really tell me where she goes, probably back to Oblivion) so this story will be a little light on the titillation. "I'm here for the Stormcloaks. I'm Fenrir's older brother," I said. "Your family is confusing," Hrolf said, "Anyway, I have a job for you. An ex-Stormcloak named Einarr Broad-Axe is positioning himself as a warlord in the Pale. To his credit, he is efficient in dealing with outlaws. He was a fine soldier, and might've been a good jarl... but Skald if Ulfric's man in the Pale. He's an idiot, but he's a loyal idiot. More importantly, we can't have regional strongmen popping up and taking the law into their own hands. There would be chaos." "I mean, that's kinda what Ulfric did, though I guess he did use a legitimate challenge for the kingship," I said. "You done?" Hrolf asked. "Please, continue," I replied. "We have to be united, no matter what. We have to show we're united behind Ulfric and his laws. We cannot afford to be seen as lawless barbarians. Talk to Einarr, try to convince him to step down. If that fails, do what you need to." I teleported and flew to Einarr's cave, and you know how I said there would be no titillation? Well, two guards were having sex on a spare bedroll when I came in. I crossed a snow-covered bridge across a (somehow) bottomless pit and found Einarr sitting on a wooden chair flanked by guards, nearby a cage. I approached Einarr. "What's with the Thalmor in the cage?" "Oh, he's a little project of mine. My unit snatched him before he could flee Skyrim, let me keep him in exchange for some mead. Cut his tongue and broke his hands to make sure he couldn't hex us with that filthy elf magic. Beat him when we get bored." I looked down at my hands, robes, staff, but said nothing. He continued, "Found out he tortured some Nords to death back in that keep of theirs. I make him watch when we kick his comrades into the pit." Gotta wonder which keep they're talking about... the Thalmor have so many secret prisons in Skyrim somehow. "We'll put him out of his misery someday, but first I want to see him crack. I told him I'd make it quick if he acknowledges Talos. But he's a stubborn elf." "So what'd you do in the war?" I asked. "I scouted and hunted Thalmor. They had free reign in Imperial territory, hurt a lot of people, made others disappear. All for worshipping Talos. We mostly worked as scouts until the latter part of the war. Then the Thalmor panicked, most tried leaving Skyrim. Some got away. Others... not so lucky. We bled some, burned others, crushed a few. That was my favorite, hearing them break apart under the stone. Bad way to go." What a delightful man. I asked, "So you aren't worried about the Thalmor?" "Individually, no. As a group? Definitely yes. They've had years to bleed out the Empire and take their riches, building up their forces. Here we are at the top of the continent, completely unprepared to fight them. We're vulnerable... at the moment. Though I don't think the Thalmor are as strong as they let on. Even so, we have to be vigilant. I wouldn't put it past the Empire to align with the Thalmor out of desperation. I don't know. Crazy times. By the way, who are you?" "You told me all that without knowing who I was? I'm Damien, here on behalf of the Stormcloaks. We need to talk," I replied. "I know who you are! You're Stormblade's son! In the flesh! This must be serious. Welcome to my keep. Help yourself to the fire or the vittles lying about. We came about them honestly, if in a roundabout sort of way. Down to business though, what can I do for you?" "You're undermining Skald's authority here in the Pale." "Skald's authority? Ulfric should know better. You know what his authority is? Sitting on his ass and groaning about giants. That's it." "You're not wrong." "I fought for the Pale... fought for Skyrim. I bled, only to come back and see chaos taking hold of my home because of Skald's stupidity. So I acted. I get results. I lead by example. I can't help it if people come to me for help. Maybe if Skald got off his pampered ass... I'm not stupid. I know how this will play out of if I resist. However, I have made certain commitments. I want to see this thing through. Help me finish what I started, and I give you my word I'll step down and... take up farming." "First job, a man named Grettir. No nickname. He's killed six men in the pale and just won't die. One of mine said they saw him fighting with a sword in his guts. Still, I need somebody who can think outside the box." I made my way to the bandit fort and approached like a mobile artillery platform, blowing them all to Oblivion. Strangely, I knew exactly where he and the bandit captain were, but they refused to come outside. I used invisibility, and mark and recall. I stepped inside, and they saw through my invisibility nearly immediately, so I recalled. I tried again by summoning a couple creatures, and the Grettir and his two captains chewed through my summons in seconds. I noticed their wounds were closing unusually quickly. I recalled again. This time, I casted invisibility, snuck to the back of the room, blew them to the front door with a blast of air and spent the five seconds (an eternity in combat) casting Flame Tempest. They were all three engulfed in flame, and HITTING ME THROUGH THE TORRENT OF FIRE! Fortunately, they all became charred corpses. I healed myself and returned to the cave. "They were vampires. Strong ones, too," I said. "Makes sense. Second job is a man named Cato. He was an Imperial soldier that we captured some time ago. After questioning him and... utilizing him for manual lagor I ordered some men to dispose of him. I underestimated Cato, because he somehow escaped. Now he's leading what I believe is a band of bloodthirsty Imperial partisans who attack Nords on sight. Men, women, children - doesn't matter to Cato. They kill them and rip them to pieces. And eat them." "That got dark quickly. I'll take care of it." I used the clues given, followed the trail and eventually it led to a road and I was rushed by a werewolf. "Who are you? You're not one of Einarr's men. You have his scent, but it's faint." "I'm Damien. Hey, have you been eating children?" I asked. "Those Nords captured me, beat me, burned me, made me work for weeks. Then they went to kill me. If not for the werewolf in me I'd have perished. That is why I hunt them." "Yeah, I understand. But... did you eat the women and the children?" I asked again, "And I'm a mage. I'll know if you're lying." That was a bald-faced lie. I'm actually better at illusion then destruction, but this seemed like a destruction kind of day. "Yes." "I can empathize with you. But, now, you have to die," I said, and I blasted him with a double-handed Elemental Blast, then I finished him off with a Custom version of Flames. I returned to Einarr, "He's dead." "Good. There's one last thing. Someone is burning travelers in the Pale. I suspect a rogue pyromancer." I nodded. This job seemed more aimed towards me anyway. A spell duel. Again I followed the clues - burned corpses and scorch marks leading up to a Vigilant of Stendarr. "A vigilant? Why would you burn those people?" I asked. "Come to admire the handiwork of Stendarr's faithful? Iniquity is always cleansed by fire, you know. They mocked us after the hall was destroyed by those fanged devils, called us useless, weak. So many brothers and sisters killed. The attack on the hall was punishment for our weakness, our irreverence. We will return to the true path of righteousness." "You're quite mad," I replied, readying my casting hands. "Your charred corpse will make a fine monument to the might Stendarr!" "I'm sure this isn't what he had in mind," I said. He flung a fireball at me, but I blocked with a Greater Ward. I threw a Calm spell at him, and he stood there for a second, unsure of what to do, just walking around like an idiot. I summoned a Dark Seducer, powered up a Black Winter, and by the time he was realizing I was an enemy again, he was a frozen corpse. It might've been overkill, but people who use magic for such things to terrify innocents annoy me. I returned to Einarr again. "As if those fanatics don't have enough problems, now they're roasting random travelers," he said, "Well, you took care of all my loose ends. Now I'll honor my part of the bargain. I'll return to farming, I guess until the hold needs me again. If Ulfric wants Skald, he can have him. As for me, I'll be in Falkreath. I don't think the Pale will be safe for me without armed men around. FOr what it's worth, thank you. I didn't expect you to follow through, but maybe I've grown too cynical." Then I came back here. "Damn, Damien. Excellent work." "I wonder what Runa is doing?" ---------------------------------------------------------------- Well, here I am. I showed back up in Windhelm. This is Runa. "Hey, Balfhe, where did the others go?" I asked. "They're helping the other Commander in Solitude." "Oh yeah." "Hey, since you're here. do you have a moment to help me out?" He asked. "Sure." "You're Stormblade's daughter and she swears by your loyalty," Balfhe leaned in and whispered, "We have a spy in our midst. Since you're something of a spy yourself I thought you might help me out. It's the only way they keep finding out convoys. And one of our high ranking officers was assassinated at a Stormcloak camp in the reach." "Well I did pit the Crimson Scars and Morag Tong against each other through trickery." "Sounds like a party. It's one of the Commanders. I'm going to take a little trip. Meet with the three senior officers and tell them I'll be traveling to a small camp away from the major cities. Tell then I'm only going to have a few guards." "So what's your plan? Tell each one of them a different location?" "Yeah, actually. You're clever," Balfhe replied. So I did it. I told Debent he would be going to the Pale. Clagius I told he would be going to Hjaalmarch. Hodlin the Brave I told he was going to Winterhold. And I went to the camp in the Pale. "Anything happen yet?" I asked Grisveld, the captain there. "Not really. A farmer walked by about an hour ago, Hrongvir here almost put an arrow through his heart but I stopped him." "Well, best be ready," I said. "Hopefully it won't be necessary and the Thalmor are just that good," he said, "Anyway, while we're waiting is there a Mister Fair-Sh ~ Oh shit what is that?" A small group of lightly armored Khajiit and Altmer began firing on us, but they didn't plan on this force being this well trained, and having me at their back. We iced them quickly. Grisveld said, "Well fought. You should go to Windhelm immediately. Balfhe will want to hear about this." I traveled back (god, I miss Shadowmere). Balfhe was waiting with bated breath, and had apparently changed to lighter armor, "Good. You're back." "Debent is the spy," I said flatly. "Dammit! Thanks for figuring this out. Do you want to deal with him or should I?" He asked. "I'll do it." "I can see the look in your eye, Runa. Try not to kill him if you can help it. And go immediately. Don't want him getting wind of this." "Right," I said as I walked up to the Palace bedrooms. "Hello again, what can I do for you this time?" Debent asked. "You're under arrest," I said. "By who's authority?" Debent asked. "Balfhe. We know you work for the Thalmor." "How could you possibly have come to that conclusion?" "The Pale camp was attacked." "By the gods, is he okay?" "I lied," I said, "It was to flush out a spy." "It must've been Catanius. He's a slimy bastard!" Debent said. "I only told you that I was going to the Pale. I told the others different things." "Uhh... I... " "Give it up." "Fine! It was me. What are you going to do about it? I could crush you like an insect." I laughed out loud. When I was done, I said, "This doesn't need to end in one of us dying." "I suppose you think I'm going to go quietly?" Debent asked, drawing his sword. "If you want to keep your head you will," I smiled acidly. "Hah! We'll see about that!" "KRII!" I shouted, marking him for death. I drew the Moonlight Greatsword up and came down with great force, and a Windhelm guard rushed into the room, jumping in front of my blade. I stopped my stroke just an inch from his head. "What the fuck are you doing?!" I shouted, "Out of the way!" "FUS!" I staggered both of them, then slashed Debent across the chest. He got one good swing on me and then I brought my greatsword down on his head, crushing his skull. Then I reported back to Balfre with the letter he had on him, from the Thalmor. "I see he's not with you." "Yep, and he had this note. I think it's time for me to use my skills as an assassin to take out his informant. He's waiting for this letter at the Nightgate Inn," I said. "My thoughts exactly," he replied. I traveled to the Nightgate and found him easily. A Thalmor in a cloak. When I approached him, he knew what was happening and tried to defend himself. Just like before, a man rushed in to help me, but this time he was in full imperial armor, not a guard, and he stabbed the Thalmor in the back, which was helpful. "Umm.. hi," I said. "Ma'am, I was a Legate in the Imperial army, trapped here by the Time Break. I was watching that Thalmor all evening, and I knew he was up to something. Are you by any chance with the Stormcloaks?" "I am. Are you going to challenge me to a fight or something?" I asked. "On the contrary. The Imperial troops still in Skyrim are scattered, and I want to know that if I bring men to Windhelm you know we're there to help you. We hate the Thalmor as much as you do," he explained. "We already have some Imperial troops working with us. At least one of our commanders, Clagius, is a former Legion Commander." "Good. I will off to fetch them!" He shouted. "Wait, what is your name?" I said, but he'd already charged out the front door. Well, back to Windhelm. At this point it was night and time for bed. When I walked in to the Palace of Kings, Fenrir, Damien and Mom were there, already talking strategy for the morning. "The informant is dealt with. Also, more defector Imperial troops want to join our cause." "Good," Mom said. "Oh and Fenrir, gimme back my horse!" Mods
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