Wedding Bells and Drums of War 7
Nero grumbled as he knelt down and tried to scratch under the cuff of his boots earning a laugh from Lydia as she watched, leaning against a wall in the hallway.
"Having some issues huh?"
Nero quickly shot Lydia a glare before returning to scratching his leg, "I hate this armor. The fur is too itchy. The cloth is too starchy. The gold parts are too big or too small. And all the ivory makes it really heavy."
"But at least you aren't complaining."
Another glare, "How would you like to chaperon the Thalmor?"
Lydia smirked, "the armor is gaudy, but it can't be that bad. Sure you aren't just nervous?"
Nero rolled his eyes, "Lydia I've face down dragons, gods of destruction, vampire lords and giant were bears. In a few minuets I'm just going to be walking down an aisle to get married…so no I'm not nervous. I could use a drink…or three."
With a sigh, Lydia knelt down next to Nero and pulled him to his feet and went to work straightening out his armor making sure he was presentable, "Just think of how satisfying it'll be when your new bride rips that boot off."
Convinced she had done all she could do, Lydia picked the up the short cloak Nero had laid out on a table and tied it on, completing his regal gold and ivory look. As she stepped away, two legionaries walked up to them. They gave Nero a quick salute before one spoke up, "Sir, ma'am. We will be escorting you to the ceremony hall."
Smiling, Lydia pushed Nero forward, "lets get you hitched already, before you think about bolting."
Nero shook his head as he walked, "are you kidding? Serana would hunt me down and kill me. And that's if I was lucky."
Following the guard Nero walked through the great hall of the Blue Palace, where the reception and feast would be held after the vows were taken. The large tables were already lined with food and drink for all the people who were attending. Nero noted quite a lot of sugary treats mixed in with the food. Clearly Serana's request, or demand, for treats had been heard.
The guard opened the large doors to the courtyard, bowing slightly as Nero and Lydia walked past him. The courtyard was filled with people. A lot of people. Nero was slightly taken aback by the crowd. Everyone was wearing their best clothing. Nero wasn't sure the last time anywhere in Skyrim had seen this much color. The guards and Legionnaires all wore armor that practically glowed in the sun. Even the Companions, who stood in rank and file on both sides down the walkway, wore highly polished armor. As Nero walked up the steps to the podium he was flanked by Vilkas and Farkas who joined Lydia at Neros side.
Nero gave both brothers a once over, "guys, you're cleaned, groomed, polished. Its disgusting."
Farkas groaned, "I feel like a woman's pampered pet."
Vilkas clearly felt the same way, "you should be very grateful we're putting up with this."
Nero smirked, "at least you don't have to wear this."
Whatever snide retort the brothers had for Nero was cut off as above a roar reminded everyone that the dragons were present for the ceremony too. A few, seeing their leader now outside landed on the roofs and towers of the palace. Oadaviing landed on a perch just over the main doors to the court room.
An amused chuckle escaped Neros throat, "have a seat friends." Looking around Nero was impressed that most of people in the court room didn't fall into a panic. The people of Skyrim had already adapted to the presence of the giant monsters. A few of the Empires councilors did look a few shades paler than before though. But the guards were able to keep the people calm.
Absently Nero's gaze turned up and he spotted a balcony where Jarl Elisif sat so she could over look the ceremony. She was turned slightly talking to a man at her side who sat in a much bigger, and much fancier chair. He was an older man, who wore elaborate robes of navy blue and red. He was flanked by several very impressive guards, who looked ready to pull him away at a moments notice. It didn't take Nero long to realize who the man was. The emperor himself, Titus Mede II.
At some point, the Emperor noticed Nero looking up at him. Both men looked towards the other, neither moving. Elisif blinked when she saw that the Emperor was no longer listening to her. She quickly followed the Emperors gaze to Nero. Soon however the Emperor turned his gaze back to Elisif and the two leaders continued in their discussion.
To Nero's side Lydia spoke, "so that's the emperor huh?"
Nero nodded, "I suppose so." Before Nero could continue scanning the court yard, the soft sound of bells and chimes fill the air signaling that the ceremony was about to begin. As everyone began to settle down, the doors to the ceremony opened and the priest of Mara, who would be conducting the ceremony walked to the stage. The Redguard took his place before the altar of Mara before turning to face Nero, "Good day my child. I am Maramal. I hope you are prepared."
Nero nodded, not entirely trusting himself to speak. With the priest and Nero ready, the chorus of different instruments filled the air with more music. Soon the flower girls walked down the path, dropping their petals.
'This is it," Nero thought. 'She's going to be here any second. She's about to walk down the aisle and…damn this itchy boot. What am I supposed to do now. I can't just scratch…scratch…oh wow.' Nero suddenly couldn't care how itchy his boot was anymore, since he could now see Serana as she walked down the aisle.
Serana's hair was pulled back and delicately braided, showing off her slender neck. Atop her head was a small tiara that held a very sheer veil over Serana's face. Around Serana's neck were several strings of pearls and ivory beads. Her silk dress left her shoulders bare as it flowed over her form and on her arms she wore long white gloves. Finally as she glided down the aisle her long sheer cape draped behind her almost like an aura.
Behind Serana, Aela and the other brides maids followed, wearing dresses of a soft faded pink. Aela immediately noticed the looks of shock and wonder her fellow Companions gave her, and as she past them gave them a quick stern glare of warning. Her hand tapping the ornamental blade that hung to her side. Her one victory in a line of losses she had had as a brides maid.
Soon Serana stood next to Nero, and she turned to face the priest. Nero turned as well, after a quick nudge from Lydia reminded him to turn, and to stop gawking at Serana. This didn't go unnoticed, by either Serana or Aela. Serana smiled, while Aela just rolled her eyes.
Maramal held his arms out as he spoke to the bride and groom, as well as all those in attendance, "Ah here are the blushing bride and proud groom. Together at last. Let us begin the ceremony. It was Mara that first gave birth to all of creation and pledged to watch over us as her children. It is from her love of us that we first learned to love one another. It is from this love that we learn that a life lived alone is no life at all. We gather here today, under Mara's loving gaze, to bear witness to the union of two souls in eternal companionship. May they journey forth together in this life and the next, in prosperity and poverty, and in joy and hardship."
Lowering his arms, Maramal turned towards Serana, "Do you, Serana, agree to be bound together with Nero, in love, now and forever?"
"I do. Now and forever," answered Serana. She glanced over at Nero and gave him another smile. Her rosy red lips inviting Nero to kiss her right then.
Maramal smiled and then turned towards Nero, "Do you, Nero, agree to be bound together with Serana, in love, now and forever?"
"I do. Now and forever." Around the court yard, the air and stone vibrated softly from Nero's thu'um as he answered. His voice was his power, even now. It left no question or doubt.
Maramal reached out to both of them, "The under the authority of Mara, the Divine of Love, I declare this couple to be wed. Ringer bearers, will you pass the rings you hold to the bride and groom."
Aela handed Serana a ring, while Lydia handed hers to Nero. Serana took Neros hand and slid the ring onto his finger, Once done Nero did the same to her.
"May these matching rings, blessed by Mara's divine grace be an eternal symbol of your union. May they protect each of you in your new life together. And now, you may kiss the bride."
Nero stepped forward towards Serana and lifted her veil. With both hands cupping Serana's chin, and her arms around his neck, both leaned in and shared their first kiss as husband and wife.
The reception was in full swing. People were feasting, drinking and enjoying themselves. Nero sat at the main table, watching as a member of the companions tried to convince a winterhold mage the advantages of a good sword to a lengthy spell. The poor mage looked to be at the point of just giving up but the swordswoman wouldn't let the old man out of her sight. Chuckling Nero returned to his plate, which showed a great deal of evidence that he had fully taken advantage of the large assortment of meats the table had.
Serana sighed, "your plate is a grave yard Nero. Look at all those bones. I swear there's enough there to have come from a small mammoth."
"Says the woman who practically leapt on top of the deserts when she saw them."
Serana turned back to her plate, choosing not to respond.
"Honestly Serana I'm a little jelous. I thought I was the only one that could get you that excited."
With a huff, Serana turned back to hear meal, deciding not to give Nero the satisfaction of seeing her blush.
Before Nero could go back to eating a guard had moved behind him. Leaning down and tapping Nero on the shoulder the guard spoke in a low voice, "excuse me, but your presences is required outside."
Nero sighed, "now? After the feast I'll be sure to make nice with everyone."
The guards placed his hand on Nero shoulder, trying to make sure he did not make a scene, "I must insist you come now sir."
To their side, Serana finished cutting a piece of meat and without looking over at them spoke very calmly and softly, "take your hand off my husband, or the next thing I cut will be you."
The guard quickly pulled his hand back. Aela seated besides Serana chuckled as she tore into a drum stick, "smart boy."
Nero glanced back at the guard, and noticed that his armor was the same he had seen earlier. The same as the other guards that had been standing next to the emperor. Slowly Nero stood from his seat, "I'll be right back." Nero leaned down and kissed Serana's cheek, "hold down the fort."
Nero followed the guard as he led him out into the court yard. Since the party had moved inside the palace the court yard was all but empty. Save for four more guards, and emperor Titus himself.
The guard bowed, "I have brought the Dragonborn sire."
Titus nodded, "good now leave us."
Nero raised an eyebrow at that, while the guards looked at each other unsurely, before slowly the bowed and stepped away, leaving the two men alone.
"I must admit, after everything I've heard abut you, I expected…someone taller."
Nero shrugged, "I can be plenty tall when I'm riding a dragon…sire."
"Yes, I'm sure. Though I doubt you don't need one to play the part of a tall man."
Nero crossed his arms, "With all due respect Emperor, why did you bring me here? This…secret meeting doesn't give you much of a chance to play to the crowd."
A thin smile crossed Titus' lips, "you aren't one for subtlety, are you?"
Nero shrugged, "I'm many things. I'm a warrior, companion, mage, a dragon and now a husband. Non of those things really give me much practice at the art of subtlety."
"Perhaps that is what our empire needs. To many of us are ready to make deals and compromises. Our empire has a great deal of practice at the art of subtlety."
"Sir, what is it that you want of me?"
"I am unsure. As I'm sure you are aware yourself, many consider you a hero. A defender of the people and a conqueror of monsters. There are even those who speak of you as a liberator, that you are going to march into the Dominion and bring them to heel. But I have heard others speak of you too. They say you are a danger to the empire. That your thirst for war and Thalmor blood will bring nothing but death to my people. Or worse, you plan to take over and rule us with your legion of dragons. So what I want is to know, who you are. Are you someone I can trust, or are you a threat?"
Nero nodded in understanding, "I suppose my history would give some people cause for…concern."
"To put it lightly," agreed Titus.
"Then let me say this. I am not a warmonger. I do not go looking for battles, though I wont deny that I have a habit of finding them."
"And what of the Thalmor? You made your opinion of them quite clear recently. With the forces you control, how do I know you wont drag the Empire into another war."
Nero frowned. It was a fair question after all. Nero supposed that from the Emperors perspective he was a serious threat to the peace.
"I hate the Thalmor. But even so I would not throw the people into another war, just to sate my own feelings."
"You may not be the one to start the war, but I think we both know that when the war comes, you'll be at the center of it. You almost were."
Nero shrugged and looked up to a pair of circling dragons overhead, "to be fair, that was before Emissary Elenwen learned I had an army of dragons at my back. Now I have a hard time seeing anyone trying to start anything, any time soon. Though, if anyone is going to start a war it's going to be her."
Titus sighed, "That woman is more trouble than she's worth. I hope that the Dominion will start to see that as well. Both of our kingdoms are still recovering from the war. I suppose I have to trust you Legate. I get the feeling that not keeping you on good terms would end very bad for me."
There was a small bite of dry humor to Emperors retort. At least for now, Nero thought, he had the Emperors support.
"Before I let you go back to your feast, I have one last question for you."
"I have heard that there are factions of dragons that do not follow you. One in particular that is actually hostile to you. How do you plan to deal with them? General Tullius said you feared a war would leave Skyrim in ruins."
Nero said nothing for a long time. He was suddenly very aware that more ears were listening to him than just Emperor Titus. Nero was also now very aware that in the span of only a few days, learning about everything that had happened with the dragons; that he had absolutely no idea what to do.
"I will do what needs to be done."
It wasn't a answer. But for Nero it was better than saying he didn't know. Titus sighed, "I suppose that you will. Well that's enough of this. We have a celebration to get back to."
"I do hope your speech in my honor will be less stressful than our talk.
With a bow Nero departed and returned to the feast, taking his seat next to Serana.
"So, what was that all about?"
Nero shrugged, "just business as usual."
Serana frowned, "you didn't hit anyone did you?"
"I met with the Emperor."
Serana took a sip of her wine, "I'm sure that was fun."
"Just questions about loyalty and what kind of danger I pose."
"Oh so the usual bull shit. Good to know."
Man things got really out of control these last few months. I know before in the update chapter I said I wasn't planning splitting this chapter but now that I'm working my free time has been cut even more than its been. So instead of making you all wait even more, I went ahead and found a good place to cut off. So yeah one more chapter and the wedding arc is over. But just so you all know, this is no the last arc. There will be more. So yeah really sorry and i hope you all like the new chapter.