Dragonborn Saga - Chapter 607 - That Can Be Arranged
Chapter 607 - That Can Be Arranged
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After Alina's appearance at the gate, the murky waters of Solitude started shaking at a disturbing rate.
She wore an ocean blue sleeveless dress and covered her back with a beast hide taken from some fierce animal. Her head was decorated with two mighty horns taken from a bull and her eyes and arms were covered in blue paint. Still, half of her face remained veiled.
This appearance struck no one as deep as it struck the Nords who saw it reminding them of names of the Ancient Nord Gods, not their Imperial counterparts.
Meanwhile, Jarl Elisif was the first to arrive at the gate thanks to the information she was provided by Thane Bryling and the eyes Falk Firebread planted around the town. The entire city gate was opened just by her command to allow the guests in.
But that wasn't the end of the drama. Following Elisif was an attachment of Imperial Troops who immediately started stationing themselves left and right to make a path towards the Castle and General Tullius stood in the balcony overlooking the side entrance of the castle as he sent Legate Rikki to invite Alina in.
If that was the end of it then this wouldn't be called drama. High Priest Rorlund of the Temple of the Divines joined the masses with a number of minor priests and priestesses who clearly seemed very unhappy with the appearance of the Cult of Kyne.
To add more to the mix, the Thalmor would never stay out of this one, would they? There is always a Thalmor attaché in Castle Dour to keep the "relations" with the Empire and so once they got wind of why the town was turning upside down, they were already flocking around Tullius about how he is going to let a Stormcloak traitor in.
For all its worth, Tullius was waiting to see how Alina is going to play this one out. After all, he was the one who threw a ball into their playground and led them here.
Between this and that, Jarl Elisif was burdened by the fact that the Imperial Legion wants to receive the political guests rather than leaving that job for the official court of Solitude. She knows the words that are being said about her that she is a puppet of the Empire and all that crap so if for a moment she would back down from this scene, her reputation will definitely take a massive hit.
"Lady Alina." Immediately, Jarl Elisif was the first to jump down off her horse with all her aides following her descent.
"Jarl Elisif." Alina replied to the greeting.
Two women of great beauty and power yet in the two aspects, Alina was simply superior. It would send a woman like Elisif into an instant fit of rage and jealousy of course but the current situation was very disadvantageous to her.
She came here seeking support from House Dare and she would lower her head if she had to.
"I welcome you to Solitude, it must have been a tedious journey." Elisif said.
"No, we just teleported into the ship when it arrived at the dock." Alina shrugged her shoulders.
"Amazing!" Elisif joined her hands together, "Winterhold feels so close yet so far away at the same time."
Alina could only smile at that statement and then cleared the way for the warriors who were carrying the palanquin that holds the Lord's Mail.
"Lady Elisif, I, Alina of Winterhold, officially request entry with my aides to the City of Solitude and then to the Temple of the Divines. I, Alina Moonblade, carry this statement not as the Thane of Winterhold but as a humble Priestess of Kyne. My official purpose is to perform a Purification Ritual over a sacred artifact associated with the Goddess of the Storm."
"And I, Elisif of Solitude, grant Lady Alina and 4 of her Aides official access to my city. As for the access to the Temple, an official response should come from Castle Dour as the Temple of the Divines is located within Castle Grounds."
An official exchange finally happened to convey both respect and acknowledgment between the two parties. It still can be called a victory that Elisif was after since she has finally made a connection with a popular faction between most of the Nords. Moreover, Falk Firebeard and Thane Bryling have been encouraging her to do that move for a few days now since they had prior knowledge of Alina's visit.
In the end, Jullanar and Isha as well as Mirren and Miranda switched places with the four sergeants carrying the palanquin and followed Alina in the city.
If the city entry was smooth then this is the only smooth thing that will happen during this sudden visit. The Empire and many other factions were already measuring their gains and losses in this situation.
General Tullius never seemed to be happy with Elisif stepping out of line but what happened next made him feel a bit irritated. As he ordered his men to form a troop all the way to the castle's side stairway, Alina seemed to have stopped and caused the entire parade to go silent. She then approached Legate Rikki and the two started talking with Rikki being at the wrong end of the conversation.
Even the Imperial Soldiers forming the lines were frowning once they heard the conversation going on between the Legate and Alina.
From what Tullius could hear from that distance, Alina seemed to be refusing to enter the castle through the side stairway. She said a few words that caused even Legate Rikki to fall silent.
"What is she planning?" Tullius could feel the situation going somewhere dangerous way too early but at that moment, Alina turned towards him from the middle of the street.
"General Tullius!" She called, "Are you really going to see us, the one who returned your Empire's treasure, from the side entrance and not open the main gates for us? I thought better of our friendship."
Tullius really wanted to cuss at that shameless Nord woman at this moment but he silently let out a sigh. This sure is a headache!
Seeing the woman who is rumored to be both intelligent and beautiful taking advantage of his situation, Tullius decided to fight fire with fire. He simply signaled for the soldiers to open a way to the main entrance and walked into the castle to receive the Parade from the other direction.
"Tell the High Priest to be present before that Nord cultist desecrates the grounds of his temple." Tullius spoke to one of his personal guards before walking in.
Meanwhile, Alina and Elisif personally walked the street ahead of the parade. They crossed the city to its main avenue all the way to the front gate of Castle Dour.
The Gate opened slowly without making them wait and General Tullius stood far inside leaving much space between himself and the parade.
"This heresy! This sacrilege!"
And here it comes, the High Priest of the Temple of the Divine.
"And good day to you too, High Priest Rorlund." Elisif replied as she seemed to be willing to take a bullet or two for Alina.
"Jarl Elisif, the Gods are disappointed in you. How could you let the heathens all the way to our sacred temple?" Rorlund couldn't wait and immediately walked to Elisif.
He was a man of average height and had a bald spot on top of his head with long hair on the sides. His eyes, however, carried a lot of contempt but his appearance was sloppy for a High Priest.
"High Priest, please don't mix between your opinion and that of the Gods. If you were to speak on their behalf, you would be the one caught with sacrilege." Thane Bryling fired the gun right off the bat making most of the Priests present in the scene almost jump in fear.
The Divines in this world are known to be less talkative than the Daedra but their signs are always clear and not meant for one person to decipher.
"Thane Bryling! This absolutely has nothing to do with me speaking for the Gods or not. I speak for the good people of Skyrim and the Empire. No Gods fearing man would bluntly allow the followers of an outcast cult into their holy ground. This is not…"
And here she is, the woman of the hour.
Everyone turned to Alina as she stepped ahead facing the priest as she is taller than him and has much more aura.
"Rorlund, I assume. We've met before." Alina spoke.
"I don't remember you." Rorlund looked at Alina not remembering meeting the wife of Jon Dare.
"11 years ago, I was 9 and I was on a visit to Windhelm to the Temple of Talos with the Priestesses of Kyne. You and your Imperial followers crashed the ceremony while I was being announced as a guardian of Kyne's Grove and the people of Windhelm were giving me their blessings. I remember you saying that a little midget will guard nothing and ours is a dying cult." Alina recited one of her memories.
Rorlund couldn't put his hand on the certain accident since he has a long history of animosity with the Old Cults but this particular scene was slipping off his mind.
"And you were drunk back then." She added.
"A High Priest of the Divines never dri…" Rorlund wanted to quickly get back at Alina but all the people gathered at the gate and even the minor priests around him all looked at him as if they believed Alina instantly.
Yes, he's a drunkard. He reeks of booze all day long and a few of his famous sermons were under the effect of liquor.
"A High Priest of the Divines is a Priest of all the Divines. So he's a Priest of Dibella as well. Of course he can drink all he wants for the pleasure of the lady of life and joy." Alina added while justifying the fact that he's a drunkard to rub the salt on his wounds.
Not only was she looking down on him but she was also humiliating him by mocking his action then justifying it to him.
"Rules are Rules, Lady Alina. No ceremonies of a cult outside the Imperial Sect are allowed on the grounds of an official temple."
And here where General Tullius had to step up.
"The Gods are forgiving, General. But since when did the Empire have claims over the Temples of Gods? Do temples exist to worship the Empire, perhaps?" Alina asked.
This was a trick question and General Tullius, despite being the genius tactician he is, failed to see the trick.
"The Temples are extensions of the Empire. Those who worship our Gods are the people who support the Empire and vice versa. The unification of the Empire is a tough task if the people don't pray to the same Gods." Tullius may have casually spoken those words but his words made all the priests and many of the people around him tense up.
What he said means that the Empire is both a faith and a nationality.
It sounded fine to him since the Empire also speaks about the freedom of worship (excluding the majority of the Daedric practices). Even Cyrodiil itself has its own folk gods such as Remanada and Saint Alessia. It is even said that a new sect has formed over there around the figure of Martin Septim as a new saint.
But Tullius' mistake was that he never imagined the hidden meaning behind his own words.
The Empire uses religion as means to control the masses.
The Cyrodilic Empire is by no means a theocracy but the matters of the Gods are too dangerous to be left unattended and so the Elder Council keeps a close check on all matters of religious affairs and heavily supports the Imperial Sect whose worship revolves around the mainstream Eight Divines.
Sooner or later, these words will be used against him but at the moment, Alina was satisfied with the fact that she can cause a widespread misunderstanding in the Imperial Camp which will benefit the old cults.
"Either way, I didn't come to the Temple this time to argue about the Gods." Alina dropped her case slowly and pointed to the Lord's Mail carried by her companions, "We are here to return this Armor to the Empire since you guys were clumsy enough to lose it."
"You surely jest, Dame Alina."
And as if the scene needed more players, someone interfered right away. Coming out from the temple wearing some of the most expensive clothes money can buy, an Imperial brunette lady walked to Alina as if they were always close.
"Miss Vici." Patiently, General Tullius greeted the Emperor's cousin.
"Lady Vittoria." Alina as well as Elisif and the people after them greeted her as well.
"I am sure I wasn't jesting though." Alina continued where she was talking.
"Really? But that's the Lord's Mail, the treasure of the Empire! I am sure such a thing can't just get lost." Vittoria said.
"Truly?" Alina asked as if she was on a script with Vittoria, "I wonder how could we stumble on such a thing?"
"I am sure it is Fate. Right, General? High Priest?" Vittoria asked the two men while clasping her hands.
"Sorry?" The General felt like he was being dragged into some sort of a trap so he seemed like backing down from the conversation.
"What Fate do you mean, my lady?" However, High Priest Rorlund asked casually.
"Well… I am no woman of the Gods or anything but I've read that many artifacts tend to get lost and appear in the path of those who are worthy."
At this point, the High Priest and the General realized that they were played by the two women.
"Absolutely not! This is a treasure of Kynareth. We are thankful for the fact that it was returned to us by you people of Winterhold but that thing will be handled by the Priesthood of the…" High Priest Rorlund started running his mouth immediately but it was then the General stepped in.
"Who found it?" Tullius asked.
"Sorry?" Alina asked.
"Who found the Lord's Mail?" He asked again with clear patience.
"Lord Dragonborn." Alina replied.
And the silence was never this heavy.
The Dragonborn whom Winterhold has a monopoly on is now in the picture. Some people shuddered from the thought while many rejoiced. Among those who rejoiced was the General himself.
"Alright." The General seemed okay with what he heard, "The Imperial Authority has appointed me as Guardian to the Lord's Mail thus I will officially announce that the Empire shall lend this armor to the Dragonborn as a sign of friendship. Moreover, all religious sects should try and lift the curse off that armor, that includes the unofficial cults but it has to happen in the Temple of the Divines." The General said.
"General! That's unthinkable!" The High Priest exploded immediately, "Allowing them to roam unchecked is dangerous to the…"
"It is final." The General said and poured his presence into those words.
For a second there, everyone in the castle almost yielded to the might of the Imperial General. No one expected General Tullius to comply this easily with the demands of the outsiders.
"Thank you, General Tullius. I'll make sure the Dragonborn receives the armor and…" Alina acted all grateful while calculating the General's behavior slowly.
"Not so fast." He spoke.
This time, however, the General seemed to have arrived at the goal of his scheme.
"If the Dragonborn wants this armor, he must collect it personally from the Temple." General Tullius seemed proud of his scheme as he said so.
He can finally draw the mysterious Dragonborn to the light. It was written all over his face and he was so proud of it.
On the other hand, everyone was waiting for Alina to respond and suddenly, she removed the veil off her face.
What appeared was the beautiful woman whose beauty would ruin nations and she was smiling as wide as the general.
"Oh! That can be arranged."
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