(I know this is a VERY short chapter… but I don't have time to work on it much more than this. Just to let you know this story is not dead.)
The Invasion and occupation of the various sites now commandeered had been meticulously planed, down to the last detail. Akavir had been chosen as the sight of their first attack as it was located away from their enemies and it gave them an opportunity to build up their forces in secret.
The attack upon Mournhold too had not been chosen at random either. It was a perfect strategic centre from which to command the rest of the operations. Once the city had been secured, the air-ship fleet had divided itself into two groups.
The smaller group would head directly north to the Island of Vvardenfell and secure their old citadel on the top of Red Mountain. The larger group would, at the same time, head west across the Veloth Mountains into Cyrodiil. They had orders not to open fire on settlements, merely to fly overhead in their mass as a display of strength. A few would wait above the Imperial City while the others would quickly disperse from the centre of Tamriel to cover the land.
Combat was to be avoided. The Empire was much more valuable to them intact than crumbling.
King Helseth had been prisoner along with his mother, the Queen Mother Barenziah. The royal court had been taken also, mostly intact, although several courtiers had tried to resist and regrettable they had to be put down.
"Well?" General Kraganolac asked, approaching the group of guards outside the room where the royalty were being held captive. The officer in charge saluted once snapping to attention.
"The kind and the Queen mother taken. No indication yet of the girl." He replied. Kraganolac scowled.
"Have you searched the entire palace?" He asked.
The officer nodded.
"Yes sir; and I'm afraid there is no sign of her. We'll continue searching."
Kraganolac barged past him.
"Don't bother. I'll ask her mother myself."
Helseth had been deprived of his crown, his royal robes and any and all jewellery he had. He had been given rags to wear and chains still decorated his ankles and wrists and the royal mother was not much better. Barenziah's gown had been torn from her and she been left almost naked apart from the few coverings she had been able to find.
Stuffed into the small room with them were several of the courtiers and nobles taken prisoner trying to escape the occupation.
They all looked like frightened and startled rodents when the door opened and the soldiers marched in, Kraganolac moving to the front. Helseth stood up unbidden, still bearing the look of defiance on his face that he had been wearing ever since he had been taken prisoner.
"My greetings Lord Helseth." Kraganolac started with an overdramatic sweep of his arms. "I trust the accommodations we have arranged for you are comfortable?" The room the twenty courtiers had all been crammed into was a small guest room at the back of the palace and barely large enough to hold them all.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Helseth asked bluntly.
"Straight onto business eh? No formalities?" Kraganolac replied sounding a little hurt. "Very well." The general straightened his back and reach behind his head, unclipping the brass clips at the back of his helmet. The visor swung forward, allowing him to pull his helmet off, exposing his pale, almost albino, face and black beard.
The courtiers staggered back at the sight and even Helseth himself seemed alarmed at the sight.
"I am General Kraganolac." He announced. "I….we… are Dwemer." He gestured to his armed escort to copy him. They too unclipped their helmets and pulled them off, exposing their faces to the alarmed captive Imperials and Dunmer. "As I'm certain a king of your prestige has guessed; the reports of our races demise have been gravely exaggerated."
"So it would seem." Helseth remarked straining to keep a straight face.
"Well now that's out of the way I think you and I should sit down and have a something of a friendly chat." Kraganolac past his helmet back to one of his men. "First of all I believe that some of my soldiers may have already expressed their…. Displeasure… about Morrowind's decision to become part of the human empire." Helseth absently placed a hand on the bruise he had suffered when he had been struck during his arrest.
"Setting aside the cultural and political differences between our peoples, both Dwemer and Dunmer see this land of the east as sacred.
Yet you allowed a human worm by the name of Tiber Septim to subdue this fair land. That is an act we all consider disgraceful." Kraganolac paused to gently brush some dirt off the side of his gauntlet. "Many of my people hold the Dunmer personally responsible for the Imperial Occupation of the land.
Many wish to see your entire race tried for war crimes. A trial which admittedly would end in a sentence of…" He paused for dramatic affect. "Genocide."
The hush that followed was pregnant with suspense.
"What do you want from me?" Helseth asked.
"Several things." Kraganolac replied holding up his fingers. "One, the complete and utter demilitarisation of Morrowind's standing armies in each house and the Ordinators of the Temple.
Two, jurisdiction and control of their provinces resources and wealth.
Three, political control of your government.
And four, information…"
That list have be devastating enough to Helseth's ego.
"Terrain knowledge so you can better enslave my people?" He asked coldly. Kraganolac chuckled lightly.
"Nothing so drool and commonplace." He replied. "You see…. I require the location of a certain… girl. Someone I believe you are familiar with." He looked the defeated king right in the eye. "Your sister."
The reaction of Helseth's face was tremendous. The look of defiance was transformed instantly to seething hatred.
"I will never... NEVER… tell you where Morgiah is!"
"Morgiah?" Kraganolac repeated raising an eyebrow. "Oh dear me, I'm afraid you have misunderstood. I am not looking for something as common as an escaped princess.
I am referring to your other sister."
"I have no other…" Helseth started but then froze in mid sentence, sudden realization coming into his eyes.
"Ah you must be Barenziah." Kraganolac started addressing the Queen mother.
"What do you want with her?" The Dark elf woman asked almost cutting him off.
"Mother, shhh." Helseth muttered.
Kraganolac crossed his arms behind his back and stepped forward.
"Personally… nothing. She is little to no military or strategic value. The Dark Dragon however expresses great interest in the daughter of Jagar Tharn." There was a soft murmuring around the capture courtiers that Helseth silenced with stern glare back over his shoulder.
"Now, would you be so kind as to tell me where I might find her?" Kraganolac words were civil but his tone was anything but.
"I can't do that." Helseth remarked in reply slowly.
"Really?" The general asked and suddenly his escort appeared a lot more menacing, their fingers tapping the outside of their projectile rifles in an intimidating fashion. "Are you sure?"
"I can't… meaning I do not know where she is." The dark elf king added. "When she was born she was given to a Cult worshiping the Daedra Prince Azura to be brought up as a priestess. During the Oblivion crisis, the order vanished; presumably fearing reprisal for worshiping a Daedra. Where she is now is anybodies guess."
Kraganolac did not appear pleased by this. His grim smile drooped into a frown and he slowly straightened his back and squared his shoulders.
He glanced at Barenziah for a second and read her face, as if trying to estimate if this was true. Receiving the confirmation he muttered something in Aldmerish and rolled his eyes.
"Very well." He said eventually. "Tell me the name of this cult."
"And why should I do that?" Helseth asked. Kraganolac looked him square in the eyes.
"Your majesty, your government has been toppled and we now own Morrowind. Your people still resist and as long as they do, they put themselves in harms way. Some may even ignore the terms of surrender and continue to fight. Those subjects I may not be able to save.
Such as a certain Dark Elven Princess who even as we speak, rides into Cyrodiil to petition to military aid from the Elder Council."
Helseth's eyes sparked with fear. Kraganolac regained his grim, gallows humour, smile.
"You have made your point." The king sighed after a moment or pregnant silence, accepting defeat. "The Cult was called the Order of the Rose Mother. It was based in Wayrest when she was born."
"Then Wayrest is where we will start looking." Kraganolac stated and bowed in head low, a few inches above the required angel to mock the defeated king. "Thank you for your time Sire."
"Wait!" Barenziah started before the Dwemer could leave. "Why doses your Dragon want her? What's he going to do to her?"
"I don't know and quite frankly I don't care." Kraganolac replied.
"And just what is the Dark Dragon? Who or what is he?" Helseth asked. The Dwemer general paused and widened his smile as if admitted to a private joke.
"You call him the Doom Drum."