Attention to all: I've decided to retcon Vulindinok, I was going to do a whole story arc around him, but considering this story is rapidly nearing 200K words that seems unfeasible. I might go back at a later date and edit the chapters accordingly. So as of now I'm just not going to mention him in future.
As for the lack of updates, numerous reasons, finishing exams, pre-uni stuff, etc.
And yes this is a short chapter, I thought I'd post it anyway though.
"I will never support a false king!" roared Balgruuf the Lesser.
The Jarl of Whiterun was a very angry, but also a very short man. For a Nord anyway.
The Jarls of Skyrim sat in one of the larger rooms in the Blue Palace. The same room had been used for many centuries for the Moot to elect the next High King after the post was vacated. One wall was taken up solely by windows, giving the Jarls and their attendants a view out over the Sea of Ghosts and the northern coastline. The walls themselves held an assortment of banners of the various holds, each above the respective place of the Jarls, the bear of Windhelm, the crown of Winterhold and the wolf's head of Solitude among others.
"I am a godly man!" the Jarl continued, "And never will I sit here and talk while the true heir to the Jagged Crown, to the Ruby Throne even, has revealed himself to us."
The Jarl sat down in a huff, glaring round the table, daring any of the others to accuse him of the very real treason he spoke.
Sigurd kept the agreement off his face, standing slightly behind his father before the banner of Winterhold he accepted that the Jarl of Whiterun was entirely right, Harald was indeed the rightful heir to Skyrim and the Empire, some, judging by their expressions, disagreed, after all, it was more complicated than just that.
"If the Stormcrown does not declare himself he is no king." Reasoned Harlon, the Jarl of Markarth, he turned to Balgruuf, "I too am a man of the gods, and I hold that there cannot be a king elected whom did not put himself forward for election."
"Hmpf." Snorted Balgruuf scornfully.
Sigurd considered the argument. Harlon was right, but so was Balgruuf, Harald, as the Stormcrown, did hold the most legitimate claim to the Empire, and by default, the High Kingship of Skyrim, however, said Nord had not actually addressed this claim, yes there had been some talk of him being happy to serve Winterhold, however no one believed it. Sigurd included, and he thought that the only thing stopping Harald from taking the throne was the respect he had for both Sigurd's father, and Istlod the next most probable King.
This in turn was a problem; Istlod had tried to manoeuvre away, very skilfully, yet the other Jarls, tired of Solitude's dominance had brought up the Stormcrown again and again. Every motion was questioned, every suggestion from Imperial-supporting Jarls shot down in flames.
Sigurd slipped his hand into his pocket, feeling the cool touch of the stone Harald had given him. No doubt Harald had foreseen this, and thus the device, but Sigurd would rather not use it, not at least in front of all these people, the last thing Skyrim needed now was instability.
Istlod glanced toward the Winterhold contingent. Sigurd nodded back.
"I see then we are at an impasse." Said the Jarl of Solitude after looking back.
"Aye, we are." Growled Balgruuf.
"I suggest then we adjourn for an hour for refreshment."
Murmurs of assent came from the table and Istlod led off, beckoning for Kjark and Sigurd to follow him.
They passed down a narrow corridor and into a large sitting room with a balcony. Istlod called for refreshments and bade them sit,
"We have a problem my friends." Istlod told them, sipping at his wine.
Neither Sigurd nor his father said anything, Sigurd thought about calling Harald on the magic rock, but it was his duty to let his father speak first.
Kjark sat without any wine, uncomfortably upright in his chair, frowning, he eventually drew a long breath. "I see two options." He said, "First you call Balgruuf out, and then call for a vote, which Solitude will likely win."
"But it's not certain." Noted Istlod.
"No." continued Kjark, "But I didn't think you'd want to summon Harald here."
"You don't think he'd support me?"
Kjark and then Istlod turned to Sigurd who took up the thread, "It's not that…" he told the Jarl of Haafingar, "Harald doesn't want the throne, he told us that and we believe him. But we are relatively sure that he has other reasons than that that he hasn't told us."
Istlod sat pensively, hand cupping chin, the other lolling off the side arm of his chair. "You will not put forward a claim?" he eventually asked, gazing out the window.
Kjark shook his head, "No, we are happy with the current set of affairs." He told the other Jarl.
Sigurd had helped his father with that decision. Perhaps Sigurd himself might make a bid for the throne, in many many years, however for the present they had neither the support nor the strength to make any sort of claim, and were thus contented with the status quo.
"Hm." Istlod grunted. Then he sighed, "There's nothing for it I suppose. Damn. I was hoping to avoid this."
Harald meanwhile, was sitting atop Mount Anthor, meditating. The smooth black stone that he had given a copy of to Sigurd began to emit a periodic high-pitched chime which alerted him, deep in a trance that he was.
The Last Dragonborn had been reading a semi-historical, semi-legendary account of the Battle of Red Mountain in which Jurgen Windcaller had participated. Though Harald had no respect for Windcaller's life choice after the battle he was very interested in how the man managed to (as the book noted) 'swallow' the Voices of at least a dozen other Tongues. Given that both dragons and 'the First Dragonborn' (a person of whom Harald could find virtually nothing on) used the Voice Harald though it prudent to find a method of combatting it.
It was all terribly logical in Harald's opinion, the Dragonborn was the best dragon hunter around, therefore it would be ridiculous for the Divines to give him that power without there being dragons around for him to hunt. Similarly, Hermaeus Mora had done a lot of foreshadowing regarding the First Dragonborn, and given Harald's immortality it was certain that the First would show up at some point.
Furthermore, he could think of no way to conventionally combat another Dragonborn, one that had actually made a study of the Thu'um rather than Harald's fairly brief time at High Hrothgar. A few weeks ago he'd flown out across the sea to test some of the Shouts. By far the most devastating had been the Storm Call, sending up waterspouts and almost creating a hurricane before he dismissed it. There was no way, other than with a more powerful Voice, which Harald could think of to combat someone who could summon tornados.
The stone was still going off, Harald opened his eyes, partly frosted shut by the cold wind of the mountains and stretched, his bones cracking after his long sit. He passed a hand over the stone and a ghostly image of Sigurd appeared. "The Moot had stalled, someone is questioning the legitimacy of the vote given my title and you require my intervention." He stated without preamble, it was a fool's hope to really expect the Jarls to ignore the circumstances after all. "I'll be there soon."
An hour later Harald was waiting invisibly on roof of the Blue Palace, trying to figure out how he would make his entrance. While appearing in a puff of black smoke would certainly be impressive, it might give the wrong impression; he certainly had to portray power, as to exact the proper measure of respect that would be required for the future, but not in such a way that the Jarls feared him.
He could always Feim through the roof, but again, that would make him look like a ghost.
Harald's eyes glowed briefly and the roof melted away before the spell, he could see the Jarls as though through water, sitting and chatting amongst themselves, both this 'Balgruuf' and Istlod sitting silently, equally frustrated expressions on their faces. He noticed a place left open at the end of the table, there would be where he materialised, whatever he did.
Black eyebrows furrowed over green eyes. Harald was quite vexed at the lack of preparation and research he had managed to do on the various officials before he had been summoned. One thing that he had learnt from the various political institutions he had dealt with previously was that preparation could win you the battle without even having to fight.
Perhaps he would play on the general superstition of the Nords. That might work, if one made magic look 'natural' enough the Nords tended to assume Divine providence, rather than spells. Mages were almost hated in some of the Holds, but priests were allowed to freely perform magic.
The best course of action decided, Harald began an illusion to darken the window, as if storm clouds were moving in, then he checked to see if his destination was clear, and Apparated, preparing a Shock spell as he went.
The arrival was as impressive as he was able to make it, the darkness being illuminated by a sudden radiance as a thunderbolt slammed into the floor leaving a starburst of soot, Harald appearing as if transporting himself through lightning.
"Shor's Bones!" and such other exclamations flew from all sides of the room as eyes blinked away the flash and beheld the Dragonborn.
Harald stood resplendent in his iridescent dragonscales, hand on ivory swordhilt and his new dragonhide cloak hanging regally from silver dragon's head clasps on his shoulders.
He had thought about adding more jewellery and shiny things to his new look, going by Siva's recommendations of attempting a heroic persona, however he had eventually decided against it, deeming it garish.
"Why have I been summoned?" he asked powerfully, adding just a touch of Thu'um to his speech, and looking about the room imperiously. He had read accounts of men being unable to look Tiber Septim in the eye, seeing instead a dragon. Until that particularly quality presented itself, Legilimency would have to do.
"To decide the fate of Skyrim." Replied Istlod from the end of the table. "We would have your reason for not putting forward a claim to the crown."
Harald deliberately raised an eyebrow, his face portraying the precise emotions he wanted it to portray. Despite his previous thoughts of just how fun fooling all the Jarls would be with theatrics, he was swiftly growing tired of it all. It would be so easy just to wipe their memories and implant what he wanted them to think.
However Harald was perfectly aware this would lead into Dark Lord territory and should therefore be avoided on principle.
"It is said in ancient lore," he began, "that General Talos served Cuhlecain, King of Colovia. As commander of the armies of that nation Talos could have easily rebelled against his lord and ursurped the title, yet he did not."
And so Harald spoke, it was not a particularly brilliant speech, he mentioned all the right things, national pride, true Nordic race, tradition, long history, Ysgramor. The general gist of it was that he, Harald was content in his station and did not wish to unnecessarily upset the balance of power for no good reason; he leant his full support to the most honourable Istlod and wished him good luck with his rule. Then he disappeared in another flash of light and went to Istlod's study, sat down with his feet up on a stool and started on a bowl of fruit that had been left there.
After a while he got somewhat bored and amused himself in planning his next set of armour, he liked wearing a dragon, as strange as the concept of walking around in something else's skin was it was surprisingly comfortable, but that was probably more to do with the enchantments he'd put on it than anything else. He was hoping for the next dragon he killed to be a decent colour, preferably red, as that would match the Imperial flag, iridescent scales were all well and good, but they had no greater symbolism in heraldry.
In the middle of eating a bunch of grapes the future High King of Skyrim entered the room.
"Afternoon your Majesty." Said Harald drolly, popping another grape into his mouth.
"Not yet," replied Istlod, apparently not too surprised at Harald's presence, "the Moot concludes tomorrow."
"Is the vote in question?"
"Not after your speech," replied Istlod, "You are very skilled in speaking without saying anything, though I'm not sure if anyone else noticed."
Harald laughed, "What else could I say? 'No I don't want to be King, I'm too busy, stop being so petty all of you?' Yes, I'm sure that would have gone over well."
"Is that the real reason?"
"Partly." Shrugged Harald, "How much time to you normally spend each day dealing with the complaints of farmers and fishermen? Or the countless minutia of running a Hold? I have far too much to do already."
Istlod nodded, considering the point, "What is it you actually do? The reports I've been getting are… sporadic at best."
"Any number of things…most of which I should probably get official permission to do, declaring war and so forth."
Istlod was looking incredulous. "I wasn't aware of any war going on."
"Yes well…" Harald said and got up, striding to the window, the sun was just cresting over the western mountains. He was planning to have set off by now and be in Whiterun by nightfall. "To the point then." He said, turning to face Istlod. "In the future I will require royal decrees from you, understand that the events these decrees pertain to will happen anyway, however I thought I would do you the courtesy of allowing you to give a statement on them before the news got to the general population."
"Proceed." Replied Istlod, seemingly understanding his new situation.
"The first decree would be similar in type to the Decree of Gifting of 4E 16, the Dwemer have returned and have taken back their holdings beneath Skyrim, it would be magnanimous of you to formally give them back." Harald explained.
"I was under the impression the Dwemer were all dead?"
Istlod frowned, "Well I don't see anyone having a problem with it, the Dwemer ruins are death-traps. And the legends say they were great inventors and craftsmen, which will certainly stimulate trade… Do they have an ambassador I could speak with?"
Harald nodded, "I'll send him here."
"Will you be staying for my coronation?"
Harald quickly considered the political ramifications of his appearance, "No," he said eventually, "I'm meeting with the Blades in Cyrodiil. When are you going to swear allegiance to the Emperor?"
"Within the month."
"Hm." Acknowledged Harald, "I'll probably still be there by then, come round and we'll talk, I'll send you a message at some point.
Harald checked the sky again, he really needed to see if the Dwemer could make him a watch or something, "Well then, that just leaves me to wish you a long and prosperous reign, Your Majesty."