"We should be upon Skyrim in just a few days, Your Majesty."
Naarifin nodded, the crown heavy upon his head. He lowered his shoulders while his steed slowed upon the hill of the camp that had been ready for him, away from the army. The Regent did not want to sleep with that ruckus when the land of the Nords was so close. He wanted his full wits about him.
Down the hill, there was a cluster of tents, maybe twenty, surrounding the Regent's own. It was a small little place, only around half a mile away from the forty-thousand Dominion soldiers. The mountains loomed over them, reminding Naarifin of the place they were headed.
"Take me down." Naarifin ordered.
His servant nodded, and on his own horse, led him down. It was only a five minute trot until they were level with the camp, and greeted by the guards. Fifty Thalmor Justiciars were waiting for him, and around twenty or so Wizards protecting the outskirts. Naarifin made sure to give a nod to each of them. Most had served under his command for years, with the Altmer's long lives.
After dismounting, his servant opened the entrance flap of the tent for him. Naarifin caught a glimpse of Lady Larien Nenharma and Ab'Tesh as he walked in. The beautiful Bosmer frowned as she always did, and the Khajit leaned back in his chair, holding a golden chain in his paws.
"Your Majesty, we thought something had happened." Larien said, donning a fake smile.
"Ab'Tesh was ready to start a search." The Khajit joked.
"We lost our way somewhat, the hills were foreign to me." Naarifin replied, slow steps taking him to the command table. He was not in the mood for battle talk, leave that to his generals.
"The night is dark." Larien pointed out, "We should ride soon. Masked by the night time."
"The Aldmer did not enter unknown territory until the safety of the sun was on their side." Naarifin replied, his servant placing the book Miraak had given him on a shelf.
"Ab'Tesh knows that the Khajit always take risks while being guided by the moon." the cat said, "It has done the Khajit well in the past."
"Allalian always talked about the troubles of blending three cultures," Larien Nenharma spoke, "He wasn't wrong."
"There is no trouble, we ride in the morning." Naarifin claimed, "Skyrim is close enough for us to be there in three days. We will not bicker on what time we leave, either way we'll get there at the same time anyways."
"True." Larien said, "A senseless thing to debate."
"Ab'Tesh shall follow wherever the King leads, as will his soldiers." The beast spoke. Naarifin wondered what he would think had he been aware of what the Aldmeri Dominion's true goal was.
"The Dragonborn has been in Skyrim for days now." The Regent told them, sighing. "He already has an advantage on us. The Skyrim natives will take his side and bolster his numbers to perhaps match ours."
Naarifin had weighed that possibility in his head for some time. The Dragonborn had gone to Skyrim for reinforcement from the Legion no doubt, and that he would get. But now he's trapped on two sides, and Morrowind will soon answer our call, if they're not fools.
"Well there's still the soldiers in High Rock." Larien said, "They should be entering Skyrim from the west in a week or two."
"The Dragonborn will already be on the defensive by then." Naarifin said, "Which puts us at a disadvantage."
"Ab'Tesh has led the Shurhi through worse odds." The Terrorist chimed in.
"And he will again." Naarifin raised one eyebrow, "I'm sure that your soldiers are ready for the cold of Skyrim? It's quite different from Elsweyr."
Ab'Tesh bared his teeth. "The Shurhi can face anything that come's their way."
"Hope so." Larien Nenharma sipped her red wine, "Those Nord's are scary from what I've heard. Feasting on each other's flesh and bathing in dirt."
"Don't let those silly tales consume you." Naarifin said, "They're no different than any men. Only they're fiercer, more battle hardened. These are not the Imperial soldiers we'll be facing."
"Nord's cannot defeat the Aldmeri Dominion."
"Tiber Septim was a Nord." Naarifin told her.
Larien Nenharma shut her mouth, and Naarifin wished she would more often. Ab'Tesh stared at a golden cup that was on one of the Regent's shelves, lust filling his slanted cat eyes. Naarifin grabbed it quickly and ordered his servant to fill it with the finest wine from Alinor.
"We have our hands full them." Lady Larien broke the silence.
"No, I do." The Regent corrected her, "Unless you are considering riding off into battle with us."
"Of course." Larien said, "In Valenwood, the woman must learn to wield a bow as well. Me most of all."
"Your life will not be in my hands." Naarifin warned her, "You will have guards, but I will take no responsibility if you fall."
"So courteous, You're Majesty." Larien smiled, "I don't need your men. My own Bosmer guards will serve."
Naarifin almost chuckled, had he not been intending to keep an intimidating look about him. He had never heard praise for Lady Larien Nenharma's ability in battle. But perhaps she would surprise him; it would not have been the first time.
"Ab'Tesh will join the battles to come." The leader of the Shurhi growled, his paw slowly gravitating towards his sheathed dagger. He smiled.
"We'll need your talent for killing." The Regent told him, "I have heard you have a knack for it."
"Yes, Ab'Tesh has spilled the blood of many enemies. So red, its crimson makes Ab'Tesh feel alive."
He'll be a good ally to have around. Any man who was as wide of an ex-convict as he was must've been ruthless in his killing. Naarifin wanted warriors like him by his side when a battle was commencing, in order to feel safe. The Divines knew he didn't with his other men.
"It'll be a long night, you two should rest." Naarifin told them.
The two rose and headed towards the tent opening. The Elven Regent did not waste his time with farewells; he would see them again in the morning. His servant rushed to make sure they had a glass of wine to take with them, and Naarifin finally sat down on his bed, about to lie down. Until he saw a shadow of a figure at his entrance.
"Would you like some—" his servant began, stopping in his tracks when he saw the unmistakable mask of Miraak. Naarifin rolled his eyes for a brief moment before he got on his feet. He had not planned on dealing with Hermaeus Mora at the moment.
"Miraak," Naarifin cleared his throat, "Wasn't expecting your company…"
"You never are." The Masked Man told him, a voice that stung in the Regent's ears. And haunted his brain. "You will come with me."
"I have business to attend to at the moment."
Whether Miraak looked away for a moment, Naarifin couldn't know. The golden mask of tentacles continued to stare straight at him. Naarifin felt something inside his head tell him to obey, yet his natural instincts inclined him to run from danger. And no man seemed more dangerous than this servant of Hermaeus Mora.
Miraak said no more, as the Regent had taken steps unwillingly. Naarifin followed the Masked Man through the small number of tents that had accounted for his command camp. It was chilly outside. Naarifin shivered from the cold breeze, yet he did not have the urge to go back and dress in warmer clothes. He would not dare leave Miraak.
The Priest took him out to a small onset of trees. Not a forest, but a large enough area to cover whatever it was Miraak was taking him too.
It was then that he heard an odd sound. A sort of growl, yet as well he heard what could've been a roar. Along with that, he heard voices, rasped voices that sounded older than the very mountains that loomed over them. Deep and with a menacing tone, there were many and many of them.
We're a mile away from camp. I'm not safe.
Then, he saw them.
Ten…no, fifteen. Fifteen dragons. Gods be good…Naarifin had never been as close to a dragon as he was that minute. All of them stared him straight in the eyes. There were black scaled, green, red, orange, brown, white. But all of them had gashed on their necks or their wings. One of them, a large black on in the middle, held a gaze at Naarifin with his red eyes.
"Miraak…where did they come from?"
"A gift, from Hermaeus Mora." Miraak replied, "He is ever grateful of your loyalty. You have been rewarded once again."
"This is our leader?" one dragon asked.
Miraak walked forward, and turned his head back to the Regent. "Come, Hermaeus Mora has another gift for you."
The great dragons made a way or the Priest. Nervously, Naarifin pressed forth. Panning his head left and right, he saw that every single of the dragons had their eyes glued on him. The black dragon in the middle, whose eyes were like red flame, bared one long tooth at him. A growled menacingly. When he reached the middle, the Regent saw what was lying on the ground. A book.
More tomes and codes he's giving me? Naarifin had the utmost respect and reverence for the ancient Aldmer, but he had hoped to receive something better than a book for his service. After all, without Naarifin, the Dominion falls out of the hands of Hermaeus Mora.
Miraak picked it up and held it out for the elf. "Read."
When he held it, the leather seemed odd. It was now what most books were typically bound by; no, this had a familiar feel to it. The patches were different, as if it was made of individually cut pieces of fabric. All were the same color, a dark black that hid any possible title. Naarifin hesitated for a moment before even considering looking inside. He glared at Miraak one last time, before his hand grazed along the cover. And grasping the cover with his finger, opened.
He didn't get a chance to read.
Something came at him. He wasn't sure what it was, but some creature had grabbed him by the neck with its slimy arms. Forcing his head closer to the pages, Naarifin thrashed and wailed. He shouted and shouted, calling for guards and help. Has Miraak led me to a trap? Hermaeus Mora has betrayed me…
When his neck was released, he fell to his knees. Gasping for air, he finally re-gained control of himself. But it took a minute to see the eye floating over him.
"I've waited many years…to see you in my realm. Naarifin." A voice that sounded as if it came from all directions declared. Its sound made the Regent shiver. A cold breeze passed by him, and immediately after he felt as if the sun was shining bright on him. He began to sweat uncontrollably. Down below, he could see the endless libraries began to shift and move about over the acid oceans.
This must be Hermaeus Mora.
"I knew about you before your parents even met, Naarifin." The Daedra said, "It was written, in my library." His voice stopped and paused around certain areas. And the very sound of it made Miraak sound like an annoying brat in comparison.
Naarifin did not respond.
"Do not fear, you are still of…use to me." His voice claimed, "you've served me well, Naarifin. And as a reward, I have a gift for you."
The world around him faded to black. The libraries and long tentacles had disappeared, until all Naarifin saw was nothing. The eye stayed though, and no matter which direction Naarifin walked, it never looked away from him. Mora keeps a strong watch on his followers. For sure.
Finally, the world appeared before him again.
No longer was he in the libraries. This time, he saw something else. He was standing on a balcony of sorts. The air smelled foul, rank like the dead carcasses of slaughtered pigs. He heard growls, and even a hiss. But most of what he heard were the very load roars of something down below. Naarifin turned around, and the eye was still looking at him.
"Your gift, Lord Naarifin."
He looked down, and saw a mass of great large beasts. Green and black, while some others brown, the creatures were taller than two humans stacked on top of one another. They were otherworldly, and the sheer number of them present was enough to make Naarifin gag. They were Daedra of some sort.
"They can't come here…" The Regent said, "They cannot pass into Mundus…"
"Only a powerful enough conjurer can summon my minions." Hermaeus Mora told him, "Miraak."
So that will be his true purpose. Naarifin thought. If this were true…
"This will be my last gift to you, Naarifin." Hermaeus Mora said, as the world disappeared around him. "An army."
Got it done, and it hasnt even been a week yet :D
Lord knows what till do when theyre actually in Skyrim lol