Chapter 3: Life's Greatest Illusion
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Road to Solitude, Asmund XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
As he walked down the road towards Solitude, Asmund thought about how he was going to handle General Tullius. He couldn't deny the truth in Ulfric's claim regarding the Imperial General. The man was definitely not going to look kindly upon Asmund's demands.
The man shook his head somewhat relieved that the situation managed to work with Ulfric at least. Despite his disagreements with the man's methods, Asmund didn't hold any resentment against Ulfric. He was thankful that the Stormcloak leaders had enough common sense to not refuse his claims. He was a Dragonborn…it was his life, his duty, and his destiny to remake the Empire for Mankind.
The Empire had grown weak in the absence of the Dragonborn rulers, and the elves had become too powerful. Asmund was not about to stand for it any longer. All of this built up to his reason for existing. Not only would he be getting justice for the fates of his parents, but he would be securing and leading mankind into a new age.
"So, I hear you talked to Ulfric about some stuff. The word around Windhelm was you told him to support you as Emperor. Were you ever going to tell me about that or what?" Serana piped up anxiously. They had been traveling in relative silence ever since they departed from Windhelm, and she was particularly on edge.
Asmund shrugged, "I was just thinking about everything that's happened recently. I'm a Dragonborn…like Reman Cyrodiil and Talos. I succeeded in defeating Alduin, but now I'm left with nothing to really strive for. I have a lot of power…and I want to put it to better use for the world. Nothing is worse in this life than wasted potential."
"You don't want to settle down at all? I'm surprised that thought never crossed your mind. It seems like you never relax or take things easy. Don't you ever get tired of the struggle?" Serana said curiously.
"I can't help it. I want more out of life than being a farmer, a guard, a soldier, or a politician. Settling down would drive me crazy. There's so much out in the world to do and see. Secrets to find…knowledge to learn…power to gain. After everything that's happened to me, I could never go back to the way things were before. I want to carve my name into history and do some justice for my lineage. Besides...there's still some people I need to kill," Asmund explained.
Serana frowned, "Makes sense I guess, but people that end up living that way turn out like my father. We had all the wealth and power in the world, but even still…he couldn't be sated with mortality. Hopefully that doesn't happen to you. You're a good person at heart. Try not to lose your humanity in the process of achieving your dreams."
"Coming from a vampire that's kind of ironic. I'll be fine, Serana," Asmund said dismissively as they continued walking. She frowned at his remark, but chose to keep her thoughts to herself.
After a long silence, Serana spoke up again, "Those Dunmer in the city were calling you the Champion of Azura. Mind explaining that to me? How did you get in touch with a Daedric Prince?"
"Same way your father probably did I guess. I got their attention and spoke to them," the man shrugged.
Serana deadpanned, "Would it really kill you to tell me?"
"You really want to hear the whole story?" Asmund clarified.
"Honestly, I don't really care how it happened…I'm just more curious about why it did, and what your allegiance is to Azura. Are you really her Champion?" Serana asked.
Asmund shrugged, "I guess so, but that doesn't really mean anything to me personally. I only told those Dunmer so that they would be more receptive to what I was saying."
"Azura is a dangerous Daedra…and one of the last princes you should consort with," Serana stated seriously.
The man gave Serana a stern look, "That's ridiculous coming from a follower of Molag Bal. From what I've learned about him, he sounds way more evil."
"Molag Bal isn't really evil in the way mortals percieve it. He's cruel, but his actions are usually straight-forward and honest. He also values his followers even if he does treat them like an abusive overseer. He rewards loyalty better than most princes would. Molag Bal is typically only abusive to the rebellious, the weak, and the indomitable," Serana drifted off.
"You sound like you have a high opinion of this Daedric Prince. Weren't you given to him as an offering by your father? How could you not hate the Daedra for that?" Asmund wondered.
Serana frowned, "You wouldn't understand. It's just easier to serve a master whose intentions, no matter how cruel, are easy to understand. Molag Bal just wants loyalty…and he rewards those who obey him. There's never any strings attached or false promises with him. He won't betray you if you don't betray or challenge him."
"Oh is that it? So just be his slave and everything is all good huh? That's complete and utter weakness. How could you possibly be okay with that? And how exactly does that make him better than Azura? She seemed somewhat nice despite being a Daedric Prince," Asmund countered.
"I don't pretend to understand how things work in Oblivion, but I know for a fact that Molag Bal isn't as bad as some of the other princes. The ones the Dark Elves worship are all manipulative liars and are definitely some of the most evil. Dark Elves are also pretty evil too. It seems weird that you like their gods. The humans from my time hated dark elves," the vampire stated.
Asmund gave Serana a serious look for a moment before finally speaking, "I have a question for you. I understand your family is several thousand years old…but what gods did you worship in those times? Was this before or after the Dragon Cult existed?"
"We knew about Ysgramor's descendants and the different Dragon Cults that lived around ancient Skyrim. But my family lived at Castle Volkihar away from those types of people. Humans from that time were called Nedes. It's difficult to really classify who worshipped what god. Personally, I never really thought about that kind of thing until my father started contacting Daedra," Serana explained.
"So you're still loyal to Molag Bal then?" Asmund finally asked directly.
Serana looked down shamefully, "Well…it's not like I really have a choice in the matter. A Daughter of Coldharbour is bound to it. Whenever I die, that's where I'll end up."
"Can't you just get cured of vampirism though? That'd solve that problem wouldn't it?" Asmund wondered.
Serana glared at him somewhat offended, "I get it...me being a vampire still bothers you doesn't it? You saw for yourself how my mother and I are...not all vampires are bad, Asmund. I don't think it's really your place to judge us. I thought after everything we went through you'd be a little more understanding of my feelings about this."
"I don't care if it's my place or not, I just think it's best to be straightforward and honest about this. I had no idea you were loyal to Molag Bal still," Asmund shook his head.
The vampire frowned at him, "Look...things are more complicated than that. Just please give me some time to think about it alright? You know I would never lie to you, Asmund...you can always trust me."
"It's not about that, Serana. I appreciate all the help you gave me in stopping your father, but I think it's best if we part ways now," Asmund said looking away.
"W-what?! Why?" she asked confused.
Asmund shook his head, "Like you said, it's complicated. Besides, I'm a Dragonborn…I don't know if you really understand what that means, but to the people of Tamriel, it means I'm a symbol. There's things I intend to do that you might not want to be a part of."
"Such as conquering Tamriel? Becoming emperor? Hmm…I guess that doesn't really leave much room for a vampire at your side huh? Staying with me isn't enough for you?" Serana said somewhat sadly.
"No...it's not. I didn't want it to be like this, but you and I both knew that we'd have to part ways eventually. This is probably the best thing for both of us. Trouble always follows me, and I don't want to see you getting caught up in that kind of strife. You deserve to live in peace for a while," Asmund explained.
"But...what about you?! Don't you deserve peace too? You don't owe the world anything else, Asmund. Why is this so important to you? Why pursue war and death?" she asked somewhat desperately.
Asmund stared into her eyes and shook his head, "Unlike you and your mother, I can't simply hide away forever and hope the world's problems go away. Nothing will ever change unless people like me do something about it. Go home, Serana...you're not like me."
Serana couldn't really find the words to respond as the man began to take his leave.
Serana simply stood there frowning at his statement. As Asmund made his way further away, the woman called out to him, "I'll be at Castle Volkihar if you ever need my help! It was...nice traveling with you."
After he finally left, Asmund let out a brief groan, 'Saying goodbye to people is always awkward. But this is for the best. I don't want her getting caught up in what I'm about to do in Solitude.'
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Solitude, Asmund XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
After a several day journey, Asmund finally reached the capital of Skyrim. As he approached the gates, the nearby guards greeted him. Strangely enough, the whole western half of Skyrim's population was much less informed about his true identity.
These guards had no idea he was the Dragonborn. The fact that they were Imperials was by no means coincidental. The man dismissed the thought as he entered the city and made his way down the market row street. As he passed in front of the Winking Skeever, Asmund noticed something unusual. There was a lot more soldiers in the city than he remembered from his last visit.
By the looks of it, Solitude had a large influx of new Imperial troops. Many looked fresh-faced and inexperienced which immediately led him to assume that they were new recruits sent to Skyrim from Cyrodiil.
Nearby citizens and soldiers all parted way as Asmund walked down the middle of the street without even bothering to go around the various groups walking. His towering, heavily armored frame caught the attention of nearly everyone in the market as they parted ways for him to pass. He could hear many whispers which mostly wondered about his black armor and golden white bow. Of course in every major hub he went to, someone always had to comment on the woad tattooed to his face. He simply ignored the gossiping as he continued past the crowds.
He didn't get much further before an Imperial Officer was quick to call him out, "You there, citizen, who granted you permission to carry weapons and armor in the city walls?! Are you here on business? If not, then I am going to have to ask you to leave. We have no need for mercenaries in Solitude at this time."
Asmund looked over and stared at the man blankly. The officer was on horseback and was looking down at him like he was a common criminal. Asmund sighed, "I'm not a mercenary, but I am here on business. I have never been questioned before when wearing my gear into the city."
"Times have changed. There's already been two assassination attempts on General Tullius' life, and we have Thalmor ambassadors in the city. By their order and that of Jarl Elisif, nobody except guards and the Thalmor are allowed to carry weapons in the city. I'm going to need you to relieve your arms and possibly your armor as well," the officer ranted.
"Fus," Asmund spoke quietly.
A moment later, a brief but unexpected force knocked the officer off of his horse and onto the ground. The nearby Imperial Soldiers and guards all jaw-dropped in confusion as they watched the scene intently.
"Sir what happened? Are you alright?" one of the officer's men asked as they helped the officer to his feet.
"Fus," Asmund said again, but slightly louder this time.
The force scared the officer's horse away as it began to run. The officer stared at Asmund seriously, "What was that?! Magic?"
Asmund stared down the now worried looking soldiers, "General Tullius knows who I am. Send word to him or Legate Rikke that Asmund Snake-Tongue is here and that I would like to speak with them. My business here concerns the dragons."
"Men, arrest him at once!" the officer growled angrily still confused.
As the Imperial soldiers moved in closer, Asmund took a deep breath, "Fus Ro Dah!"
The entire platoon was sent flying in various directions into walls, on the ground, and even into the now gathering crowd. One of the Nord Imperial soldiers was quick to state the obvious, "He summons the Thu'um!"
"The what?" the Imperial officer asked confused.
His question was quickly answered when Asmund spoke up again, "As I said, my name is Asmund Snake-Tongue. Most know me better as Dovahkiin. I'm the Dragonborn. Anyone else want to try and arrest me for no reason?"
"Dragonborn?! That's preposterous…the Septims are all dead. I don't know what that was, but this man clearly assaulted us with magic. Soldiers form up for advance, archers ready bows!" The officer began shouting commands at his recovering platoon.
The scene was quite the spectacle to all of the surrounding onlookers who watched with a mix of shock and anxiousness. Some even looked fascinated. Asmund looked around at the timid soldiers who were clearly not in favor of attempting to subdue him again. They cautiously circled around him, and several archers readied their bows with arrows.
"Captain, what do we do? We can't just take his weapons if he can shout us to death," one of the Nord soldiers asked. The Imperial Officer seemed truly stumped on how to handle the situation as he stared intensely at Asmund wondering what to do.
The Dragonborn seemed relatively calm despite the situation, which likely intimidated all of the surrounding people even more. Asmund looked around at the soldiers briefly before speaking, "If I wanted…I could kill every last one of you and walk away from here unscathed. I suggest you back off…"
"You're bluffing!" the officer tried to counter with confidence.
Asmund held up one of his hands much to everyone's surprise and looked around, "Am I?"
A moment later, a fireball erupted around his hand. As he held up, it continued to grow in size. The nearby civilians began to distance themselves as the soldiers backed away fearfully.
"He's a mage?!" one of the soldiers gasped disbelievingly as Asmund continued to channel the fireball overhead. It grew much larger as he held it overhead.
A dangerous and somewhat evil expression plastered his face as Asmund growled, "Don't think I'm bluffing! I will kill you if you don't back off!"
The surrounding crowd backed away with panicked expressions. Before the situation could esculate any further, the sound of reinforcements approaching caught everyone's attention.
"Everyone stand down right now!" a female voice sounded through the crowd. It quickly parted ways as the elven black-clad Thalmor made their way to the scene. Upon seeing them, the soldiers lowered their weapons and bows, and Asmund receded his fireball.
Asmund was shocked upon seeing the leader of this particular group of Thalmor. At the front of their group of Justiciars was none other than Ambassador Elenwen herself.
She looked over the crowd for a moment before speaking, "Return to your posts, everyone. Move along citizens…the Dragonborn has my permission to carry his gear in the city."
"Ambassador Elenwen, you know this man?" the Imperial officer gasped, "Is he truly Dragonbo-"
"Move along! Asmund Snake-Tongue is under our jurisdiction." she repeated with a hand wave quickly gesturing for the soldiers to go away. They did as commanded, but many eyes still remained glued on Asmund as Elenwen and her Justiciar escort walked up to him.
They appeared particularly wary of his bizarre appearance and public use of magic in front of the market moments prior. The Thalmor Justiciars stared at him with unblinking eyes as Elenwen made her way directly in front of Asmund.
Much to the surprise of the Justiciars, Asmund was actually taller than the altmer ambassador. Not many humans matched the height of high elves, but the Dragonborn certainly did. That added to his Ebony Mail and other assembly of gear made him look quite dangerous in their eyes.
"You…what are you doing here?" Asmund asked defensively.
"I didn't realize it at first when I saw you at High Hrothgar, but you and I met before during my party. It is rather unfortunate how things turned out there, for I actually enjoyed your company for the brief time we spoke. Perhaps we can continue our conversation if you would like. You told me that you were a noble from Winterhold," Elenwen said aristocratically.
Asmund simply stared at the ambassador cautiously and chose not to say anything at first. He wanted to see what kind of game she was playing at before committing to any course of action.
Elenwen seemed unfazed by his silence and continued to speak, "Well, I was rather surprised to learn that you actually were a noble from Winterhold. I visited that city once in its prime. It used to be the capital of this country, you know?" Elenwen said casually.
Asmund felt extremely uncomfortable in this situation. All of the nearby citizens were staring at him, and he could tell there was definitely some odd rumors that were going to start up because of this. Elenwen's lack of hostility had many confused. Out of the corner of his eye, Asmund could see two Altmer merchants debating rather loudly about how unusual it was that Elenwen seemed to know him.
Elenwen noticed the onlookers as well and quickly offered a solution, "Would you please come with me to the Blue Palace? There are some things I would like to speak with you about."
"Is that an order or an invitation?" Asmund countered as he crossed his arms. The nearby Justiciars all reached for their weapons with aggressive glares, but Elenwen quickly stopped them with one raised hand.
"An invitation of course. I am an ambassador after all. Come, walk with me," She gestured for Asmund to walk alongside her.
Reluctantly, he did so and began to walk alongside Elenwen down the street. The Justiciars all walked behind them, and Asmund could feel their stares drilling into the back of his head from behind. He never really got the chance to examine Elenwen yet, but she was quite regal looking in her current black and gold dress. He knew she was about middle aged or older for an Altmer, but she looked quite nice. If it wasn't for his dislike of Altmer, he might even say she looked pretty right now in her regal attire.
As they walked, Elenwen looked over at Asmund seriously, "The summit meeting at High Hrothgar was your doing I assume? It was very surprising, but also noteworthy. The dragons were becoming a major threat. What surprises me the most though is the fact that you were a neutral party between the Empire and the Stormcloak Rebellion. I find it curious that you aren't aligned with either side. Most significant Nords I've met feel strongly about one side or the other. Where do your loyalties truly lie I wonder?"
"My loyalties lie with Skyrim and its people. The dragons were a much larger threat at the time. The wars of men and mer mean nothing in comparison. Not to mention, most Nords and Imperials don't see the big picture in the civil war. They're fighting foolishly against each other while the real enemy waits for the opportunity to strike. Ulfric doesn't realize he's following the path you laid out for him, Tullius doesn't have the foresight to realize what will happen if he manages to kill Ulfric, and Elisif is a naïve girl who can't make a decision for herself. They're all pawns of yours," Asmund stated factually.
The Justiciars all jaw-dropped at Asmund's fearless and disrespectful accusation against Elenwen. One of them was quick to move in front of the two and draw his blade, "Such treasonous words must be punished! You will not make such accusations against the Thalmor!"
"Zun Haal Viik," Asmund said resoundingly. A moment later, the justiciar was disarmed as his blade flew a considerable distance away and impaled a wall.
The justiciar stared at Asmund shocked before gritting his teeth, "You will pay for that, you-"
"Know your place, justiciar!" Elenwen glared at the over-eager Thalmor.
He immediately backed down but looked angry still, "Madam Ambassador…such words cannot go unpunished."
"Show some respect…the Dragonborn is not a normal human," Elenwen said dismissively as she gestured for the justiciar to fall back in line. The others all had intense looks focused on Asmund and were now starting to second guess their capabilities in bringing him down as easily.
Part of Asmund was surprised that Elenwen didn't seem offended or upset by his remark.
"You are very insightful Dragonborn. That is an astute observation. The fact that you are aware of this is what makes the matter even more interesting. I admire your courage…not many would have the gall to accuse us, specifically me, of something like that face to face. Most men are afraid of the Thalmor…and rightfully so," Elenwen replied with a snide grin.
Asmund shook his head at her as if disgusted, "I've been to Cyrodiil…I see how the Elder Council and that worm Titus Mede bend to your kind. It's rather pathetic if you ask me. Nords may not be as sophisticated or long lived as Altmer, but my people aren't afraid of Elves. We have a long history of killing them. The Falmer, the Dwemer, the Dunmer, and even the Ayelids all underestimated the will of men. It's more accurate to say that elves are afraid of men."
"The Thalmor do not fear men…Altmer society is the pinnacle of mortal achievement in this world. The ancient men were perhaps dangerous, but clinging to such legends does not grant you the same claim to power in today's age. As a general whole, men have always been inferior to mer," Elenwen stated somewhat condescendingly.
"Perhaps they are in a general sense…but inferiority in that aspect isn't really weakness. It's a strength. Those who have to overcome short-comings end up devoting themselves even more to their goals in life. Sure elves can live hundreds of years and have natural affinity for magic, but how many of those years are empty and wasted? How many do you spend lavishly sitting in power growing comfortable and complacent? Your power is your own weakness…it makes you stagnant and unsatisfied with your own lives. Those who always consider themselves the best will never work at becoming better. While the person who is always second best will work harder each time until eventually he or she surpasses the person at the top. That is how men defeat your kind," Asmund countered intellectually. Elenwen seemed completely blown away by his counter argument and went silent for a few moments.
Elenwen seemed as if she didn't have anything to say in response and decided to change the subject, "My Dossiers went missing from the Embassy…I assume you read them and found the Blades in hiding? They're fugitives you know…from the Thalmor and the Empire. I was rather displeased to see them at High Hrothgar."
"Well then…you should go find them. They are no friends of mine. Don't let me stop you," Asmund replied bluntly.
"You would not oppose their capture and execution?" she asked.
"We went our separate ways for reasons I do not care to discuss. Needless to say I was not interested in being a figurehead for their agenda. What happens to them is not really my concern anymore," the man said stoically.
Elenwen shook her head and chuckled at his demeanor, "You are quite well spoken for a Nord. Almost unusually so..."
"How do you figure?" Asmund asked.
"I knew when I first met you at that party that there was something different about you. You're not a simple minded man like the rest of the Nords I deal with on a regular basis. I can tell just from our conversation that you have great insight into the minds of others. It is good you shed the company of the Blades. It is also good you do not support the Empire or the Stormcloaks. The ability to form your own opinions and think independently is too often forgotten by today's masses. It's a shame you left before we really got a chance to speak properly."
"I can tell you lost a lot of sleep over it," Asmund said sarcastically.
"Would you care to properly introduce yourself to me this time?" Elenwen requested.
"Asmund Snake-Tongue…Dovahkiin," was all he said as he briefly looked at the Thalmor ambassador.
"Snake-Tongue…I knew I had heard that clan name before. I actually spent a few decades at the College of Winterhold when I was much younger. I came to appreciate this country in all its primal, simplicitic ways. There was a noble clan that went by the name Snake-Tongue. If I recall correctly, they were not fond of the College. I take it you are their descendant?" Elenwen deduced coolly.
"And this matters to you why?" Asmund asked.
"I wanted to trace your lineage and see if there was any correlation that made you Dragonborn. You're obviously not related to the Septims," Elenwen said truthfully.
"The Greybeards told me it was simply a gift from Akatosh," Asmund said conclusively.
Elenwen shook her head, "He would not have given a dragon soul to a simple man. There's something particular about you that he likely saw."
"By all means share your theory…" Asmund sighed.
"Ever since I returned from High Hrothgar, I've uncovered every record of your family that I could. I discovered that your father's lineage appears to be descended from an ancient warrior called Yngol." Elenwen stated.
Asmund's eyes widened seriously, "What?! Yngol? That's not possible...he was Ysgrammor's son and he died in a storm. What kind of evidence do you have for a claim as preposterous as that? My father's line served as Thanes in Winterhold. How could you have traced my father's line to Yngol?" Asmund wondered.
Elenwen shrugged, "We have our ways...Ancano found out about Saarthal and the survivors. The Nordic history claims only three survived the Night of Tears. Ysgramor and his two sons Yngol, and Ylvar. That's not entirely true however...Yngol had an illigitimate daughter who he brought with the Companions on his voyage back to Tamriel. She and her descendants survived creating an alternate line. Records of this line were well protected and entrusted to ancient wise-men and mages by the order of Ysgramor. As the centuries passed, they were eventually left forgotten and would one day be kept for safekeeping in the College. Quite interesting wouldn't you say? From what Ancano says, you're a descendant of the ancient Nord Kings...and you have a far greater claim to the throne than either Ulfric or Elisif."
"That sounds like a load of nonsense...even if it were true, why would you tell me something like that?" Asmund wondered.
"Because you would make a far better leader than either of them. It would legitimize you as the heir to Skyrim's throne no? Who among your Moot would challenge the claim of such a lineage?" Elenwen stated.
"I don't need to cling to the glory of my forefathers for justification to rule...I could rule in my own right regardless of whether or not such a thing were true," Asmund said shaking his head.
"Indeed you could I imagine. Such a thing could prove beneficial to all of Tamriel," Elenwen noted.
Asmund was not sure what to say about her remark. Considering how infamous he was to the Thalmor, the man had a very hard time believing her. He gave the Altmer woman a doubtful look, "The last thing you Thalmor would want is someone strong like me in power..."
"On the contrary...someone like you could easily bridge the relations between Men and Mer in Tamriel. Elisif is a naïve fool as you have stated, and Ulfric is too tribal in his thinking and shortsighted in important matters. It is not our intention to rule over men or to be allied in a central authority. You should be free to run your own affairs...we simply just do not want foolish leaders perpetuating hedonism, heresy, or ignorance when it is detrimental to Tamriel as a whole. Political reasons aside, you being a mage ruler would do well to shatter certain prejudices among Tamriel's people. I simply care for the larger picture...and I believe you do as well," Elenwen rambled on.
"If that were true, you would not have instigated a Civil War in MY homeland." Asmund said shaking his head.
Elenwen sighed, "Sometimes for a new plant to grow, all the weeds must be plucked from the garden. The worship of Talos is very much a tribal and heretical practice. As mighty as he might have been in life, there is no way any mortal could achieve divinity. The Gods are literally part of our world...Talos was simply a man who conquered Tamriel, and used the terrible powers of the Numidium to subjugate the Altmer as well. I see it as no different than the Dunmer worshipping their Tribunal...were they still around we would be dealing with them just the same."
"How did Talos come to possess this Numidium? What is it exactly?" Asmund asked curiously.
"It was a terrible Brass Giant created by the Dwemer that fell into the possession of the Dunmer Tribunal. As I understand it, the Tribunal gave it to Talos in exchange for autonomy from the Empire. It is how they retained their slave trade as well as their own heathen religions of Daedra worship," Elenwen explained.
"So you're simply heroes doing all of this heretic smiting for the greater good of Tamriel? How noble of you..." Asmund said dryly.
Elenwen frowned at his disapproval, "Not all among the Thalmor share the same visions. Some do want to wipe out mankind's power, but I am not so foolish as to believe that such a thing is truly worth doing. What mankind needs is to simply progress and become more receptive to the wisdom of the Mer. Is such a thing truly terrible? I know it is difficult to accept considering your...past history, but Altmer care for progress more than anything."
"Past history? What else do you know about me then?" Asmund asked.
"A lot more than you might think..." Elenwen paused as Asmund gave her a widened stare, "Your mother was a mage was she not? Our representative at the college, Ancano, did a lot of the groundwork for me. He told me about your mother, Anneka Snow-Blood. Apparently, she was talented in both destruction and restoration schools of magic. She studied beneath Archmage Savos Aren and was good friends with Master Wizard Mirabelle Ervine. Quite an interesting family history you have. You yourself know some magic I saw. I understand it's quite frowned upon in your society," Elenwen continued.
"I've heard enough of this…if you're trying to manipulate me with this in-depth mind game then you can just give up now," Asmund interrupted annoyed.
"Now now…don't jump to conclusions, Asmund. I simply wanted to know more about you. Our intentions were cautious yes, but I think your arrival during this time is quite fortuitous…especially considering the situation with the Dragons and the dispute over the throne," Elenwen replied diplomatically.
"So what do you want from me then...to claim the throne and bend my knee to your masters? To hand you Skyrim on a silver platter and help you subjugate my own people?" he asked.
"Not necessarily. We can discuss what our plans for you are later. For now I would like to know what happened after the summit meeting at High Hrothgar. Did you stop the dragon threat?" Elenwen asked anxiously.
"I did..." Asmund said with a sigh.
Elenwen smiled, "I heard rumors that you flew out of Whiterun on the back of a dragon. Would you mind sharing that story with me?"
Asmund felt like this was an interrogation, and was beginning to think about his escape strategy for when things went wrong.
"The dragon flew me to Skuldafn…there I found a portal to Sovngarde and fought Alduin. I managed to defeat him," Asmund decided to tell her. Despite the fact that she was a Thalmor, sharing the information with her wasn't exactly detrimental to him. Besides…she already knew most of what happened due to her presence at the High Hrothgar meeting.
"Sovngarde…refresh my memory, but where exactly is that?" Elenwen asked curiously. She seemed genuinely interested in what he was saying much to his surprise.
"It's the Nord afterlife…not really something you would know about," the Nord responded.
The justiciars behind them were beginning to gossip about their conversation. Asmund had good hearing, and could vaguely make out their debate. They seemed to be having various discussions about whether or not Asmund was actually Dragonborn. One of them seemed shocked that Asmund was the most legitimate heir to Skyrim's throne.
The thalmor he disarmed from earlier was talking about Asmund's shouting power with the others.
Elenwen nodded, "I see. Well that is most certainly impressive if it is in fact true. Not that I'm calling you a liar…but that is quite unbelievable."
"I don't care whether or not you believe it…all that matters is Alduin was defeated," Asmund replied as they made their way closer to the palace.
"Alduin? Now is that the same dragon that attacked Helgen? The large black one?" Elenwen confirmed.
Asmund nodded, "Yes."
For some reason, he fought the urge to try and kill his way to freedom, because he wanted to properly try and convince General Tullius to surrender. Asmund began to wonder if he'd be better off killing the Thalmor as a show of proof at how serious he was. Though he wasn't really in any position to fight his way out of the city afterward. He weighed his options they continued onward.
"Just because your parents fought in the Great War doesn't mean you and I have to be enemies you know. Contrary to popular belief, the Thalmor do not hate all men...just the foolish mongoloids who cannot see reason. That is why you would make a better High King than Ulfric or Elisif," Elenwen stated bluntly after a brief silence.
Asmund glared at her upon hearing mention of his parents and the war. He almost lost his cool, but quickly collected his emotions as he took a deep breath. The man gathered his thoughts and shook his head confused, "You speak as if we're potential allies already. I'm pretty sure I'm on the Thalmor's hit list right now. Why would I ever trust you?"
"You don't have to be our enemy though…like I said earlier, I trust that you would be more reasonable than most human leaders. Also, some of our leaders have caught word of your exploits in Skyrim. Many are unsure of what to think about another human Dragonborn. They want to meet you in person. Depending on how you approach them, you could make or break the relations between Men and Mer for generations," Elenwen finally got to the point.
The Nord deadpanned at her, "You're kidding me right? What makes you think I'm stupid enough to agree to meeting them in person?"
"Well, one of them is in the Blue Palace right now, speaking with Jarl Elisif. You can refuse his offer in person if you wish...though trust me when I say that you're better off not doing so," Elenwen elaborated.
"So one of the leaders from the Aldmeri Dominion came all the way to Skyrim? Why?" Asmund asked surprised.
"He will likely be more than happy to tell you himself," Elenwen said vaguely.
"If you try anything…you're all going to die," Asmund threatened.
"Calm yourself, Asmund…we have more civility than that," Elenwen immediately followed. It was good she did, because all of the Justiciars perked up ready for combat.
As they made there way into the Blue Palace's courtyard, Elenwen looked more closely at Asmund's gear and cocked her head curiously.
"What are you looking at?" Asmund was quick to ask when he saw her gaze lingering.
"That bow on your back…it is Aldmeri is it not? Beautiful craftsmanship…I haven't seen one quite that unique before. Where did you acquire such a fine weapon? For a man with such a strong resentment against Mer, you certainly have no qualms with using an elven bow. Why is that?" Elenwen asked as she looked at Auriel's Bow. It's golden white form was a heavy contrast to Asmund's Ebony Mail.
"I found it…" was all Asmund chose to tell her.
"That bow is finer than any I've seen in Alinor…and I have seen many crafted by the finest artisans. It belonged to someone important. I don't see any inscription on it…most master craftsmen inscribe their names on such creations," she said deep in thought.
Asmund drew the bow and held it up for Elenwen to see. Upon doing so, a golden white glow seemed to radiate from the weapon. The man looked at her for a moment as she stared at the weapon more closely.
Some of the justiciars moved in closer and looked at the weapon as well. One of them shook her head disbelievingly, "Where did a human get a bow like this?"
"Who did you kill to get something this valuable?" another one of the justiciars asked Asmund as she stared at the weapon's subtle glow.
"If I didn't know any better, I would think that was Auriel's Bow," the second female justiciar said obliviously.
This caused a brief debate between them, but Asmund didn't really confirm or deny the theory as he placed the weapon back on its holster behind his back. Elenwen couldn't help but gawk at Asmund upon hearing the mention of Auriel's Bow.
"Is that Auriel's Bow?" Elenwen asked after an awkward silence.
"Yes…I use it to kill Vampires, draugr, and daedra," Asmund replied. He didn't know why he was being so openly honest with the Thalmor about these things, but at this point it didn't really matter. They already knew a lot about him, and he really had nothing to lose by them knowing about him carrying a legendary weapon. If anything it would serve to make them more wary of his potential power.
"You continue to surprise me, Dragonborn. Truly…Auriel's Bow is a legendary weapon. They say that Auriel himself used it to shoot the heart of Lorkhan into Red Mountain in ancient times. The fact that you're Dragonborn and you wield this weapon only confirms that Auriel favors you," Elenwen deduced.
"Isn't Auriel an Elven God? What does he have to do with me being Dragonborn?" Asmund asked.
"Auriel is the true name and aspect of the dragon god that men know as Akatosh…" Elenwen answered right away.
"That can't actually be Auriel's Bow can it?" one of the Justiciars asked disbelievingly.
Another shook his head, "I cannot believe that…how can we be sure that is actually THE Auriel's Bow?"
"It's impossible...he's just messing with us." another justiciar stated doubtfully.
"Somehow I doubt the Dragonborn is lying about this," Elenwen stated towards her underlings as she focused back on Asmund.
"You found some rather unusual armor as well it seems. Ebony is very rare in this part of Tamriel," Elenwen noted as she examined the Daedric inscribed runes on the Ebony Mail.
"What's your point?" the man grunted.
The high elf moved slightly closer to him and leaned over towards his ear, "Tell me, Dragonborn, what gods do you worship?"
"I'm not really the temple going type. Imperial religion never really made sense to me. According to my father, my mother was more mainstream in her beliefs. She favored Jhunal or Julianos as the Imperials call him. My father however, carried the ancient Atmoran beliefs that have been passed down through my family for generations. The only gods my father truly favored were Kyne and Shor. For me personally, however, Shor, Kyne, and Akatosh are the gods I like the most. The snake, the hawk, and the dragon," Asmund said plainly.
"Shor…that is Lorkhan correct?" Elenwen confirmed.
Asmund nodded, "That's what elves call him I think."
"You have an interesting allegiance to opposing gods. Lorkhan and Auriel are mortal enemies and you favor them both? That isn't normal," Elenwen noted as she found it strange that Asmund would favor both the dragon and the trickster god.
He gave her an unusual look, "Why does it matter to you anyway?"
"I wonder…are you a Talos worshipper too?" she asked slowly.
"Not really in all honesty. I respect him as a hero, but I have always had more reverence for the Old Ways. Even if I did worship him, why would I ever tell you? You seek to remove all Talos worshippers," Asmund said shaking his head.
"Yet you don't seem to be opposed..." she said suggestively.
He shrugged, "It's a complicated issue. Do I think he's an actual god? No I do not, but he is most certainly divine in some way. Do I think he deserves reverence or worship? Maybe. I myself don't really care what he is in death...but he was not in Sovngarde, and I don't think he would have fallen into Oblivion. Talos is undoubtedly somewhere else...maybe Aetherius. I honestly don't know or care."
"You have good insight and that is a fine point not far from the truth," Elenwen nodded approvingly.
Asmund said nothing as they continued walking.
As they got closer to the palace, Elenwen noticed Asmund's defensive posture. "I see you do not trust me still, Asmund. Do not fret…you are very much on my good side at the moment. We have no intention of arresting you or killing you."
"You might have to depending on whatever conditions you're about to tack onto that," Asmund interrupted rudely.
"If you don't mind my asking, why did you come to Solitude in the first place? What was your actual business here today?" Elenwen changed the subject.
"I came to tell General Tullius and Legate Rikke that I succeeded in defeating Alduin. I already informed Ulfric," Asmund replied. His answer was partially true, and he figured it was enough to throw off Elenwen's interrogation while he thought about what he was going to do.
"Strange that you would come personally to do so. Certainly a courier could have delivered such a message. Though luckily for you, they are both in the Blue Palace as well right now," she said eagerly.
Finally, they were at the entrance to the palace. The guards were quick to open the door when they approached. As Asmund walked inside next to Elenwen, he noticed a large gathering of nobles moving up the stairs and some talking.
The crowd moved aside upon noticing Elenwen, Asmund, and their escort. When they reached the top of the stairs, they walked past several more significant nobles before arriving at Elisif's throne room.
"Jarl Elisif, I understand your hesitation in accepting our aid…but rest assured that the Thalmor only wish to bring about peace. It will not be any type of occupational force," an Altmer man was speaking. Asmund took a close look at him and immediately figured he must have been one of the leaders that Elenwen was referring to.
"With all due respect, Chancellor, I do not think Skyrim would react well to Thalmor reinforcements. Ulfric would use it to fuel his cause even further. More Imperial reinforcements would be-" Legate Rikke stated seriously but was interrupted mid sentence.
"You already have legions of Imperial soldiers here...and the war is still unresolved. We're offering to speed the process along. It would also lessen the burden on your men. Our army would be well equipped to deal with those heretical savages," the elven chancellor stated coolly.
"It may take longer, but the people would not react well to a Thalmor army coming into Skyrim. I'm telling you, it's only going to rally more to Ulfric's cause," Rikke insisted.
General Tullius shook his head and sighed, "That may be true, but we haven't gotten anywhere in months…this war needs to end before it destroys more than it already has. Not to mention this campaign is wearing heavily upon the men."
"General Tullius is most astute in his observation. Besides...were any to join Ulfric Stormcloak's cause after Thalmor troops arrive, then it would only draw out the hidden traitors and supporters. Any true and loyal member of the empire would understand our arrival and welcome it with open arms," the thalmor chancellor convinced.
Rikke sighed, "It's your call, Jarl Elisif, General Tullius and I will support you no matter what you decide."
"I appreciate your support Legate Rikke," Elisif nodded.
"Jarl Elisif, believe me when I say that the Thalmor only wish to assist you in putting down these heathen rebels. Their unwillingness to reason or surrender is proof enough that they must all be dealt with for the good of the Empire…no the good of Tamriel itself," the elven chancellor spoke over-dramatically.
Elisif frowned as she looked down somewhat timidly, "This isn't what Torygg would want…"
"The man who killed your beloved husband is uniting your people against you for the sake of his own pride. The longer you refuse aid, the more deaths you will cause. As General Tullius has eloquently put it, the war must end before it destroys your beautiful country," the chancellor tried to drive his point home.
Elisif seemed as if she was stuck between a fork in the road as she looked around at the room's inhabitants. It was clearly evident that she was concerned about whether or not she was going to make the right decision. Several of the nobles began to argue in the crowd about their various opinions, but all of them were drowned out when Elenwen and Asmund made their way to the very front of the crowd.
The Chancellor turned his gaze upon Elenwen and did not seem surprised by her arrival. Asmund's arrival however, was one that had the entire room staring. Legate Rikke and General Tullius were the first ones to address him.
"Dragonborn, you're alive?! What happened? We heard rumors you rode out of Whiterun on the back of a dragon!" Rikke said anxiously.
"They're not rumors…I rode Odahviing the red dragon all the way to Skuldafn and defeated Alduin," Asmund announced calmly.
This news shocked everyone greatly. General Tullius went wide eyed for a moment, "You…brought down that black dragon? The one from Helgen?! He's truly gone?"
"He did indeed…and the Dragonborn came to bring us all this wondrous news in person," Elenwen cut in.
Rikke and Tullius seemed somewhat surprised that Asmund was in her company, but were wise enough to not say anything about it.
The Thalmor Chancellor looked at Asmund up and down with a curious expression, "So this is the famed Dragonborn I've heard so much about? You certainly are a sight of intrigue."
"Yes, Lord Keldorn…this is Asmund Snake-Tongue. He is a minor noble from Winterhold, but is a Dragonborn nonetheless," Elenwen introduced Asmund.
Asmund had a blank glare on his face as the various Thalmor guests eyed him up with suspicious curiosity. The Chancellor smiled as he walked over towards Asmund. The two were matched in height, but Asmund was more muscular by comparison.
Before either one could say a word, Elenwen quickly spoke up, "This is Chancellor Keldorn…Grand Wizard of the Aldmerri Dominion and one of the famed Knights of Auriel."
'Knights of Auriel!?' Asmund thought furiously. He would never forget the name of the Altmer order that killed his mother.
"Snake-Tongue? Sounds familiar," Keldorn wondered aloud.
The elf stared at Asmund for a moment before his eyes widened, "Hmm…I remember an Imperial Legate from the war who also went by that name."
"It must just be a coincidence. Nord names can get similar from time to time," Asmund shrugged. He had no intention of letting this altmer know who he was just yet. He wanted to do some investigation before making any brash decisions.
Although part of him wondered if Elenwen already knew and was purposely trying to instigate the situation. If she knew, then it was possible this Chancellor Keldorn knew too.
"So what exactly is a Knight of Auriel?" Asmund asked curiously.
"Ah, you don't know? Allow me to elucidate you on that topic. The Knights of Auriel are a holy order founded long ago by the ancient Aldmer. It's technically a part of the clergy, but most of its members have always been the most esteemed warriors and mages of the Summerset Isles. At any given time there are eight members total. We are the most elite military unit in all of Tamriel as well," Keldorn rambled on proudly.
'Eight members huh? What a weird number…I think I read somewhere about elves loving the number eight. Oh yeah...eight divines and all that,' Asmund thought to himself.
"Sounds impressive. I'll bet you're quite the fighter aren't you?" Asmund questioned.
The altmer nodded with a proud grin, "Why of course...one does not get to my position without earning the trust and prestige of the Aldmeri Dominion."
"Elenwen said you wanted to meet me...why?" Asmund asked seriously.
"Ah yes...it recently came to my attention that there was a Dragonborn in Skyrim. Ambassador Elenwen has said nothing but good things about you and your support in dealing with the dragon threat. It is a great honor to meet you in person finally. I'm sure you have quite the tale to tell about stopping this black dragon, yes? What was its name again, Madame Elenwen?" Keldorn asked.
"Alduin the World Eater. Asmund claims to have defeated it in Sovngarde," Elenwen clarified.
Rikke, Elisif, and all of the other Nords present gawked at Asmund as if it was a lie. There was a brief silence that passed before the man finally shrugged, "I don't care what you people choose to believe...the dragon threat is dealt with for now. That's all that really matters."
"Sovngarde...you saw Sovngarde?" Rikke asked amazed. She actually seemed to believe him.
"Most impressive, Asmund Snake-Tongue. You shall be given a merit of great honor for your service to the people of Tamriel and your commitment in helping the Thalmor. As a Chancellor of the Aldmeri Empire, I graciously offer you an honorary position in the Aldmeri Court. A person of your expertise would be most welcome among the nobility. Word shall also be sent to Cyrodiil, Valenwood, and the Summerset Isles of your great deeds. We shall commission a statue in your honor, Lord Asmund," Keldorn said eagerly.
The Nord simply stared at him confused, 'Why are the Thalmor kissing my ass right now? What kind of joke is this? Wait a second...did he just say Elenwen said nothing but good things about me? What in Oblivion?! Thalmor support?! Something strange is going on here.'
He briefly looked over at Elenwen who wrapped her arm around his and smiled. She stealthily whispered in his ear, "Go along with it..."
The man wasn't sure what to think as everyone in the room began to clap and cheer for him. He looked around at the people in the room, 'Idiots...all of them. Like damn cattle. I don't trust these Elven bastards. What the hell kind of game are you playing, Elenwen? Did she not tell them about me breaking into the Embassy?'
"May I just say that it is a great honor to meet you in person, Dragonborn. I never thought there'd be another human one after the last Septim died. Hopefully, we can remain strong allies. It speaks volumes about your character to know that you have been instrumental in helping the Thalmor," Keldorn said as he extended his hand to shake Asmund's.
Against his bitter pride, Asmund decided to play along with Elenwen's charade and shook the Chancellor's hand. Tensions seemed to disappear completely as everyone in the room went back to their normal states talking about the previous topic of the war.
"I hear that you are not aligned with the Stormcloaks or the Empire, is that correct?" Keldorn asked after they broke their handshake.
Asmund nodded, "I am not. The dragon threat was far more important of an issue...and then there were vampires I had to deal with."
"Truly a paragon of mankind...you look to greater issues than simply satisfying your own pride. I look forward to hearing all of your exploits in due time, Asmund Snake-Tongue. However, my pressing concern at the moment with the court must be dealt with," he stated.
"I'll leave you to it then," Asmund replied as he attempted to leave.
He was stopped by Elenwen still holding his arm, 'This is some kind of political trap...she is trying to set me up somehow.'
"Ah, but I was wondering where your opinion on this matter would lie. I am trying to convince Jarl Elisif to allow us to put more Thalmor troops in Skyrim in order to put a swift end to the rebellion once and for all," Keldorn added.
'Why would they want the war to end quicker? This must be the best way for him to get an army into the country...the war's gone on for a long time. They're probably ready to attack now that the Stormcloaks and Imperials have been exhausting each other,' Asmund concluded.
"Why are you asking me?" he deflected cautiously, "I'm no politician."
"Your word carries great weight whether you believe it or not, Dragonborn," Keldorn replied.
Elisif stared at Asmund desperate for him to make the call instead of her. He looked her in the eyes briefly, 'She's so weak...ughh. I'd sooner put a Khajiht kitten on the throne than somebody as indecisive as her.'
He took a deep breath as he thought about what to do, 'I don't know how strong this guy is...and it's probably not a good idea to do anything until I figure out what Elenwen's game is. I'll go along with this for now...traps work both ways. If he brings an army here...I could call a few dragons to wipe out their army in Skyrim. Hmm...actually that's a great idea. We could ambush them...I could lead them into a trap! HAHA!'
"I believe that Thalmor reinforcements are a great idea, Chancellor Keldorn. The safety of Skyrim and it's people must be a priority. Although I wouldn't let my decision affect the opinions of anyone in the court," Asmund stated.
Tullius and Rikke seemed completely shocked by Asmund's answer. Rikke in particular looked as if she couldn't believe Asmund was siding with the Thalmor. Her jaw dropped as she simply stared at him. It was clear to Asmund that she was hoping he would come and "rescue" the situation.
'Don't you worry, Rikke...I know what I'm doing,' Asmund thought as he briefly made eye contact with the woman.
"Hmm, very well. I see Ambassador Elenwen did not exaggerate when she spoke of your loyalty to the Eight. You are quite a delight if I do say so myself. I always appreciate sensible and respectable men such as yourself," Keldorn said approvingly.
'Shut up your arrogant elven bastard! I can't wait to gut and skin you. If you have a family I'm going to kill them too...' Asmund thought venomously behind his warm smile.
Elisif immediately gave in, "I believe the decision is right if the Dragonborn does as well. I will allow it, Chancellor Keldorn. After all, the Dragonborn is a hero, and the people will support this decision if he does as well."
'I know she's just barely a woman, but Elisif has got to be the weakest person in this room. I've seen little girls tougher than her. She'd probably kiss my feet if I told her too...have some damn pride woman! You're a Nord!' Asmund fumed mentally.
Elenwen gleefully waved to the crowd, "Well I wish to present, Lord Asmund with a boon, Chancellor. We shall see you tomorrow night at the Grand Ball."
'Grand Ball?! What in Oblivion have I gotten myself into now. C'mon Asmund just grin and bear it. You can kill them all later...' the man thought to himself as he faked a warm grin.
"Of course, Madame Ambassador. It was a great honor to meet you, Asmund. We'll speak more later," Keldorn waved with a smile as Elenwen dragged Asmund away from the court.
Her Thalmor Justiciars followed behind them as well. They were all quiet as Elenwen led Asmund outside and to a Thalmor building further down away from the Blue Palace. Upon entering with her and the justiciars, Asmund immediately ripped his arm from her grasp and grabbed the Altmer woman by the throat.
He began to choke her as he slammed her against the wall. The justiciars looked like they were about to attack, but Asmund charged a fireball in their direction with his free hand. He glared at Elenwen furiously, "What in Oblivion was that nonsense in there?! Does he not know that you've been hunting me?!"
Asmund loosened his grip so Elenwen could speak, "Calm down, Asmund...stand down justiciars. I'll explain everything."
Reluctantly, everyone lowered their spells and weapons as Asmund let go of Elenwen. He glared at her furiously, "What the hell are you playing at, Elenwen?!"
"I'm covering my own failures, Asmund...you've been nothing but a complication for me this past year. I'd be sentenced to death or stripped of my position for my failure in controlling the situation here. So I decided to lie...nobody outside of this room, except Ancano, knows about what happened at the Embassy or with you and the Thalmor. You're officially recognized as a hero by the Aldmeri Dominion just so you know..." Elenwen explained.
The Nord gave her a perplexed look, "Are you kidding me? What the hell would you gain from that other than keeping your position and your life a little longer?"
"I wanted to contact you again so that we could make a deal...Keldorn is one of the eight Knights of Auriel. I understand you want revenge against them. I am perfectly fine with that...they're nothing but arrogant aristocrats anyways. However...I am his direct underling. If he were to perish, then I would assume his position as well as the command over the army he is sending to Skyrim. I could help you," Elenwen explained.
Asmund briefly looked over at the three justiciars in the room with them, "Are these three in on your little plot too?"
"Yes...they're the only survivors from your raid on the embassy. They and Ancano from the College of Winterhold are the only Thalmor that know. You might recognize them from the party...they were the guards in the reception hall with me. My own personal bodyguards," Elenwen continued.
The man glanced over the three other elves and scoffed, "What do I have to gain by helping you get a promotion? You must think I'm an idiot if you believe I would EVER trust you!"
"I value my life, and my power more than the Thalmor cause. I'm a politician, Asmund...I'm ill suited for dealing with renegade conquerers like you. I will forsake the Thalmor in exchange for reprieve from your inevitable retalliation against the Altmer," Elenwen explained.
Asmund glared at her, "That's cowardly and pathetic...you would betray your own faction for my mercy? I should kill you for that alone! Why should I believe this nonsense? Earlier you seemed too dismissive of me being a man. What brought on this change of heart?"
"The favor of Auriel that you hold. I believe you can remove some of the lunatics in charge of the Aldmerri Dominion...and if I just so happened to be there in order to fill a vacant position and hold sovereignty over the land for you...then perhaps things would be in all of our favor, no?" Elenwen said quietly.
The man gave her an intense stare, "Prove it to me...and I'll consider it."
Much to his surprise, she pulled out a journal of some kind. She handed it to the Dragonborn with a proud smile, "Thalmor secrets...they're all yours."
"Madame Ambassador, what are you-" one of the justiciars was about to ask, but he was immediately silenced by another.
Asmund opened the journal with a curious gaze and his eyes widened immediately upon reading some of the contents, 'This has a list of where all the current forces are stationed in Tamriel?! What is this?! Names? Pictures? This is a compilation of dossiers on all of the Thalmor leaders and their current whereabouts? And this...The other seven knights of Auriel are all listed right here. It even lists their specialties, strengths, and weaknesses?! What else is in this journal?! A layout of the Thalmor formations? This thing is a treasure trove of useful information!'
Elenwen was quick to notice Asmund's disbelief at all of the revealing information in the journal and spoke again, "I hope that's enough to get you to trust me. It would be most fortuitous for us to be allies."
The man looked down at Elenwen again somewhat skeptical still, "What about your army? I doubt all of them are going to be okay with this...hell I doubt even these three are either."
"I assure you of their loyalty...they are after all in the same situation as I am. As for the army, they will have no choice but to obey me. Altmer have a much greater respect for authority than humans do," Elenwen said coolly.
Asmund looked down at the journal briefly, 'Elenwen's good, I'll give her that, but she must think I'm a moron. She's lying to me...only a naive fool would fall for this. There's no way that Keldorn guy doesn't know what's going on either. This is all a big act so they can lure me into a false sense of security and attack us before I gain any momentum in conquering back Tamriel. It's likely that the army they're sending is only a distraction from the real invasion force. They're going to let me play my hand and then send in the Knights of Auriel to capture or kill me. If I were a lesser man, I'd have easily fallen for this.'
"Very well, Elenwen...we have a deal," Asmund said as he shook her hand. Though his back was turned to the justiciars, Asmund could almost sense them grinning at Elenwen as if they were playing him for a fool.
'I'll have the last laugh, Altmer trash...you think you're leading me into a trap. You're going to fall into mine.' Asmund thought as he kept his act up.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Peryite's Pits, Oblivion XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Molag Bal and Namira crossed a liminal bridge through Oblivion as they made their way into Peryite's Realm. Their arrival was quickly noticed by an array of lesser daedra, and it didn't take long for Peryite himself to arrive and greet his guests.
He spoke with a calm, soothing voice lacking any hostility, "Molag Bal...and Namira? Welcome to the Pits my esteemed peers."
Peryite's realm was very orderly, but it greatly resembled a large plagued landscape with a poisonous looking sky. In the distance, thousands of daedra could be seen building structures of all types.
True to his theme of pestilence, Peryite's realm was quite unsightly for Molag Bal's tastes, but it wasn't as gross as Namira's. The Lady of Decay herself seemed quite impressed by the plagued land as she looked around approvingly.
It was very much a dystopian looking, plague-ridden land, but the buildings were very well crafted and had strong hues of green. A very diverse assortment of lesser Daedra could be seen frantically going about on some task or another. At the very center of the realm a massive spire could be seen jutting out of a rather aesthetic looking city.
Namira spoke with a soft chuckle, "Your realm is as beautiful as I remember Peryite...though a bit bright still."
As the two Daedric Princes looked around, Peryite appeared in front of them spreading his large green wings. Despite his impressive four legged draconic appearance, he was still humble as he bowed his head to Molag Bal and Namira.
"Peryite...it is good to see you again. I come bearing an offer that I'm sure you'll accept," Molag Bal said with a wicked grin.
"Say no more, Molag Bal...I would be happy to join forces with you. After all, you and I stand for the same things. It would be an honor to assist you in establishing a proper, dominant power structure over the Tribunal and the rogue princes," Peryite replied immediately with eagerness.
Namira grinned as she glanced at him, "You're quite agreeable, Peryite..."
"Of course, Namira. I am even more pleased to see that Molag Bal has already brought you into our alliance as well. It has been quite some time since we last saw each other. I trust you two came here discreetly yes? What is our plan of action?" Peryite asked.
"Right now, I am simply gathering my allies. With you two, that only leaves Clavicus Vile as a final potential candidate. I do not trust any of the others to join beyond that," Molag Bal explained.
Peryite nodded, "Most wise. None of the others would align properly with us. What is the plan once we get Clavicus Vile?" Peryite wondered.
"You'll see, Peryite," Molag Bal cackled.
"There is one complication about getting Clavicus though...he's stuck in Skyrim in one of his statues last I heard. I believe it had something to do with him and Barbas...he's not fully in his realm currently," Peryite explained.
The Lord of Domination let out a low rumbling growl, "Ughh...damned idiot!"
"Well if he's indisposed for the time being, it might be better if we waited a while longer," Namira chimed in.
Molag Bal sighed, "It appears so...fine, keep in touch with us, Peryite. Take this sigil stone for a secure and secret Liminal bridge to Coldharbour. Let me know if you catch any news about his situation. I am going to send my vamprie worshippers to investigate this Shrine."
"Of course, Molag Bal," Peryite nodded as Molag Bal and Namira took their leave.
Well I decided to update this since I was in an Elder Scrolls kind of mood. So far we're just setting up for big events. Things didn't quite go the way Asmund expected. The Thalmor are particularly cunning and he knows it. He expected a simple solution to deal with Solitude, but now finds himself in a delicate plot that could prove beneficial or detrimental depending on how he proceeds. The real question is how true is Elenwen being? What does the Dominion intend on doing about Asmund? How will Asmund deal with the Thalmor Army coming into Skyrim?
That aside we saw some of our Daedric Princes meeting up. Molag Bal has minions on the way to investigate Clavicus Vile's shrine. Plenty more action is on the way, so stay tuned for an update in the *indeterminate amount of time* future.
As far as my plans for Asmund go, he's going to go full Game of Thrones mode with a bit of the Emperor of Mankind (from Warhammer 40k) sprinkled on top. Expect him to be a complete badass. That's not to say he won't have his fair share of mighty enemies...Tamriel is full of elite warriors, mages, and OTHER DRAGONBORNS. Not to mention there's the daedra...but somebody has to make Tamriel great again (pun intended). Thanks for reading guys. Let me know if you want more.