The haunting moon stood on the top of the monastery, beckoning the Empress with its unwholesome rays of moonlight. Dales had always felt a certain kinship to the moon. Look how lonely it is. Though it's not so bad, at least Secunda has Masser. The moon is associated with femininity and fertility, maybe there like me, and my beloved. She gazed outside of her window, the darkness surrounding the outskirts of her vision, as more snow continued to fall. She knew Skyrim was snowy, but she never expected she would be staying this far up on the mountain, under the pale moonlight, and blistering snowstorms. The greybeards were gracious hosts, but they really unnerved her, and was glad most couldn't speak to her. So much power...And yet, according to that wise old drake, her teacher's power was almost impossible to break. Maybe it was a mistake breaking the binding... she would face his arduous wrath.
She would endure. She always has. Gracchus would support her. She knew it. And the other generals would support Gracchus, if it came to that. She hoped anyway...
Nay. Even if she had Gracchus's support, the support of the Imperial Legion, and the common folk, Krojun would never respect her. She needed something else. A symbol to rally behind. That would inflame Cyrodiil with cries of her name.
Here pale blue eyes gazed at the stars, and she was quite unsure of what to think of the current situation. She, thought anyway, had discovered a new ally from an unlikely source, the young prince from High Rock. She was still unsure of if he was like his father, but he had proven to be oddly pleasant. And right now, they were united with the same goal, have Baldur crowned High King.
He was the only option. The only one she would respect. The only other candidate was that beast.
She shrugged, and leaned out from her bedroom window, letting the cold air, and snow throw itself against her. It did little, to make her feel any discomfort. The cold did nothing to her anymore...
What she saw...when laid asunder and broken on that mountain would forever send chills down her spine that no arctic wind could compare too.
As soon as anything entered her mind, she dispelled them, and forcibly relegated them to the deepest depths of her mind. She unconsciously forced herself not to to glimpse what she knew she saw in her mind's eye, less she replay the pure horror.
"I miss you Elan." The young girl said, bitterly, as she placed her head into the stone windowsill. She knew going back to Skyrim would conjure memories of the one Dales wanted to forget, but couldn't. Her lustrous brown locks. Her cherry lips. Her infectious smile. Dales could still see her, as flesh. Down to every last detail. Her image was practically Phantom Pain to her mind.
She needed something to fill this growing hole of sadness.
There was no way in hell she could find some female company up her, no way.
It would be damn improper to try and seduce Jarl Elsif (if she was even here), and there was no Nordic tavern wenches in sight. Dales had decided long ago no relations, romantic or sexual, with any of the woman serving under her. Mixing duty with pleasure was a bad idea.
It seemed, she had nothing but the two moons to keep her company.
Her hands fell to her neck, and the silvery chain around it, for a small measure of comfort. She never took any stock in the divine. The world was too cruel, but perhaps it would bring some joy. The Nords would consider this sacrilege to carry this in here. Hell, I can see them throwing me off the mountain. She turned around, to see if anyone was watching. Knowing she was in the oblivion of isolation, she gently held an object underneath her sleeping wear, and lifted it up, for the pale moon to shine it's lonesome light upon on it in her palm.
A sparkling, blue amulet lay in her pale hands. It shone the lovely light of a Welkynd Stone, the depths of the water reflected in it's lapiz lazuli glow. The blue mineral itself was a nameless mineral, something that seemed so otherworldly, and forgotten in the eons that surrounded it. Inside the middle, pure, almost-white silver formed in the shape of a dragon, which held two amethyst gemstones for eyes, and a strange, darker gem, deep like the abyss of the ocean, acting as crystal breath from its jaw . Not the Imperial Dragon, no, the silvery drake depicted on the amulet was Auriel, the elven variant of Akatosh, the Chief god in the Imperial Nine Divine.
At the thought of whom had gifted her this, a deep shaded blush former on her face, as if she was a schoolgirl again.
A vast visage of power lay inside the amulet, as it carried a strong enhancement of some sort. Most amulets depicting the divine had some kind of paltry spell placed on it by a priest, but this. This was different.
It would no doubt be taboo for an imperial Empress to carry it, in place of one venerating Akatosh, so she had shown no one that she had it with her. Akatosh meant nothing to her. After the Oblivion crisis, Akatosh had abandoned the Empire to it's fate of decay. He deserved no worship, from her, or anyone. Perhaps her attention should be placed on a god who did show her favor...
She gazed outside once more, remembering the night she had received it. She was...so beautiful...so bittersweet...
Imperial Palace, Sparring Room
"The best leader is a constant student.”
Dales repeated the quote in her head, as she made sure to remember how her soldiers fought, and incorporated into her stance, which she used against them.
“Strike!” Dales deflected the blow from the first soldier’s jab to her left with her own wooden sword, before grasping the blades handle in two hands as she delivered a lightning strike to his neck, causing the blade to snap in half at the force she put it into it, causing the soldier to scream out in pain. Dales quickly got her wooden spear to bear, and used its tip to knock another soldier onto his feet, before a sharp pain erupted across her shoulder, a guardsmen wooden sword landed. For a girl so small, Dales was really strong. And not just from her magical enhancements she sent through her body, a constant, yet very potent strength enhancement spell.
Dale’s formerly skinny limbs were broadened with muscles, and well toned skin, as was her legs, marks and cuts of scrapes from dagger blows and sword slashes lingered. Hours of training had turned her body into a well-honed machine, helped by all the animal protein she consumed. Her pale, beautiful skin, had taken a disturbing white hue colored like the snow, marred by the many scars across her body. The only when she really bothered to hide was the branding on her stomach, which she kept as a reminder of what she was exactly fighting. Perhaps it was her teacher's dark magic tainting her skin, twisting it. It was something she needed to deal with, and a small price to pay for. The freedom she lacked was a bigger deal, than some measly pale skin. She lamented the fact her cutesy, adorable (The Empress was still fond of using those kinds of words) body had turned into this, but it gave her a brutal edge in combat. She had conquered the limitations brought on by being a woman, and forged a body that would allow her to fight against any combatant!
Well, except on her period, were she also got really cranky, anyway.
Damn it. I should have been born a Nord...or at least a Colovia.
...Actually, nah. I’m glad who I am.
Maybe once she would think the gods were being cruel by putting her in this body, as Dales Moitre. But that was a distant memory. She was an Empress. This was a gift. She could help so many people, and do what she wanted to do! She was the ruler of Cydoilli, and the Defender of the Empire!
The room itself was rather spacious, big enough for several soldiers to engage in mock battle, filled with training dummies, and marksmen targets. Racks of wooden weapons sat comfortably, holding the mock weapons well. A large, unsettling amount of dust sat on the corners of the room, as it wasn’t used as often as Dales liked. Especially the marksmen targets. While Lorgar had tried to teach her how to use the bow properly, it just wasn’t for her. She’d much rather impale people on her spear. The Palace Guards kept their skills up by doing joint training sessions with the Imperial Watch, and Second Legion, so they didn't frequent the training room as often as they could. Dales herself, too busy, had to make time to visit the grounds, one of the few ways to keep herself trained and well prepared for an assassin's dirk.
"Adhere to the style that defeats your opponent." Her fighting style usually prevailed against the guardsman's own.
The soldier launched a punch into Dales guts, flattening her stomach, and knocking the wind right out of her. Gasping, Dales was thrown to the ground, as two other soldiers got up, and pinned her in place, as they started unloading punches into herher. The Imperial soldiers were members of Dales elite Palentina, sporting leather jerkins, and shaved hairstyles of brown. Screaming out a battle cry, Dales kicked one in the face, throwing him backwards, before getting back up, and throwing a punch into the same soldiers stomach, throwing him backwards with the delayed burst of force rippling around her strike, faints wisps of magic lingering on her hand. Lorgar had always drilled the importance of hand to hand combat into her thick skull, mixing close quarters hand to hand with swordplay, though Dales had taught herself to mix magic into her fighting style. The young girl sank her teeth into her opponent's arm, the metalic taste of blood filling her mouth, causing him to scream out in pain, and drop his weapon, before Dales finished him off with a massive kick with her foot to his downward face. Such combat was...exhilarating. Dales turned around, and pointed her wooden spear at the four imposing guards struggling to get back to there senses. She spat the crimson blood from her mouth, a cruel grin forming on her lips, as she prepared for more.
Dales had started taking on multiple guards on in sparring practice, to sharpen her skills. Taking on multiple assassins would be a common occurrence for a monarch after all. She couldn’t rely on her bodyguards. She had survived two previous assassinations attempts, but luck always ran out, and she needed to fight better. To no one's surprise, while Dales could easily take down a single guard, fighting four at a time ended in a lot of bruises. No pain, no game.
"No duel should last longer than eight seconds" Already, she had failed one of Gaiden Shinji’s tenants.
The four guards relaxed, there sweat drenched bodies having taken a horrible beating, even more so than the Empress, whom was literally wheezing in exhaustion. They raised their hands in surrender, as the one farthest to the left, muttered in a tired voice, “You take this round, your majesty!” As afforded by her position and the fact they adorned her, her guardsmen always took on the Empress half heartedly, despite her orders to do otherwise. Still, Dales was a whirlwind in combat, a fiery ball of blonde hair, daggers, and swirls of magical energy. Instead of using her magic to cast destruction spells, she tended to pour her magika reserve into enhancing her killing ability with her spear. She was quite adapt in alteration, and was considered by her former teachers, a prodigy in the subject.
A small clapping arose from the side, as Pentiulas Ocultus Agents watched the training session, taking a single moment to rest for a moment, enjoying the spat. There black leather imperial armor, a small variation on standard light imperial armor, trimmed with crimson cloth, with dark chainmail underneath, looked rather uncomfortable, alongside their leather helmets. The ones with her were trained battle mages, wielding a steel gladius in one hand, and a flaming spell in the other. A small, golden dragon symbol sat on there left pauldron, signifying them as members of Empress Draconius personnel guard, which most Imperia Paltentia, and Grey Wolf Agents wore as well. Dales had retained the uniform they wore during the time of Titus Mede II, having kept them in a place of honor, despite their failure to protect the previous two Emperors, having slayed the latest, before Krojun.
In total, Dales had taken about thirty members of the Occultus into her personal bodyguard corps, not including her Grey Wolf Spectres. They hungered for the blood of the Dark Brotherhood, and that vengeance would serve the Empire well. Although, to their shame, but bitter understanding and acceptance, much of their previous roles as guardians of the monarch, had been taking over by the Empress’s palace guards, the Imperia Paletina. They were all skilled warriors, spectres, adept in magic, blade, and bow, but there skills were better spent on espionage, policing, and threat detection, then guarding the already defended, and cable, Empress of Tamriel.
Oh and Emperor, of course.
The Occultus were some of the best soldiers in the Empire, and no one denied that.
Dales turned to face her men, giving a sky grin, as she placed her hand to her hips, sassing them “Not bad boys not bad. Need to work on your awareness though. You totally left yourselves open for my teeth!” A sinister smile sprouted, as she grabbed a leather waterskin one of her soldiers offered her and downed it in one gulp, letting the water slowly fall from her greedy mouth as she drank the waterfall. One of her guardsmen gently rubbed his hair, saying,
“Well your majesty, not many of us expect to be bitten by a lady…”
"The best techniques are passed on by the survivors." She survived that, but it was a pretty clumsy battle. Maybe people shouldn’t look to her for combat advice, even if she considered herself pretty adept at fighting the way she did
“I am no lady, Arminius.” She sent a strand of her honey hair to the side. Dales wanted to cut it shorter, but she needed to keep royal appearances, and apparently longer hair was more “regal”. Yeah, for a beautiful lady of court, that look would be very appealing to men (and Dales) but the Empress wasn’t that, even in function. She was a warlord! A warrior Empress, like Alessia and the Wolf-Queen! She wanted to bash some skulls in! At the same time though...she did treasure her femininity. She did appreciate all the various forms that women took, but her favorite were pretty, perfect young ladies, with big rears. And without boast, Dales could call herself pretty! They were a major weakness though, as when a lady met that criteria, Dales had to focus her entire willpower to ignore them!
Oh gods, I get so giddy at the thought. Dales shivered. Yeah she had a really big problem.
A few minutes later, an Imperial soldier offered her a fresh towel, which she accepted gracefully with a nod. She took another swing of her waterskin, before she began to wipe the sweat off her face, and than her arms, and then her legs. The four other soldiers she faced we’re doing the same, and chatting with their comrades, in contrast to the now stoic soldiers of the Occultus, whom hauntingly guarding their posts, and took up position quietly on the side. She threw down her wooden sword, letting it clang on the ground. “Well gentlemen” She said, wearily, “I think that’s enough for today, wouldn’t you agree?”
“As you say, Your Majesty.” The lead one said. Prelate Apollo, a grizzled middle aged guardsmen. Apollo had served in the Imperial Watch for twenty years, before joining the Palace Guard. Not only was the incentive for legionaries, and Imperial Watch Guards better pay, but being in the Palentina was considered an honor, and a privilege, as was serving the monarchy. “Lad’s let's hit the baths!”
Another privilege the Palace Guards had. They didn’t have to pay to go to a public bathhouse.
Dales nodded before heading off on her own, two female palace guards trailing behind her.
Of course she wasn’t going to be bring male guards with her to bathe.
The young Empress walked through the halls of the Imperial Palace, her honey hair fluttering in the wind. A chill breeze from outside caused the bitter bite of cold to stab her skin, but she ignored it. Winter is getting colder. Flanked by her Imperial Palentina guardsmen that trailed behind the Empress like her own shadow. Underneath there white-gold plate mail, they wore chainmail, with purple adornments. The Empress always prefered the Legion Lorica Segmentata to the ceremonial plate of the Imperial Watch, being very fond of the ancient armor style of Ancient Akaviri. A symbol of Imperial might. Perhaps when she had time, she could send a request for some high quality sets, and give them to her most treasured guards, though favoritism like that would be unfair. Dales had taken inspiration from the old Septim styled guardsmen from the days of yore for her palace guards kit, wearing traditional cyrdoillic watch plate, albeit forged with rare white-gold, and lustrous silver, Dales couldn’t see there faces underneath there full helmets, but she noticed there eyes trailing around for danger to intercept.
Not a single word from their mouth, but the heavy breathing underneath their helmets.
Her paletnina guardsmen had eyes like a hawk, and ears of like a fox. Every watchful, as if they acted as her own shadow. Still, as much as she appreciated their diligence, and loyalty did they always need to follow her around? It’s not like I have a Morag Tong writ on me.
Always on their blades pommel, their gauntleted hands lay, ready to strike like a viper. They were both her loyal followers, and hungry watchdogs.
Dales walked for a good few minutes, occasionally stopping to give salutes to the various soldiers on patrol. Yeah, it might be a lot, but she appreciated the legionaries service to her cause, as well as the friendship she shared with them. Might as well seem as grateful and approachable as possible, doing small things like asking how their day was, or how was their family is doing, established a connection with a soldier. Little things add up, and as fast as you know it, you can recognize them, and remember all their names. If you have a relationship like that with the soldiers that serve underneath you, the already strong loyalty a legionary had for their monarch was further increased, and they would go to impressive lengths to serve their Empress. In the name of loyalty and honor.
In Dales experience, anyway, this had proven true. She wouldn’t have gotten this far without the support of the soldiers following her. They were her greatest treasure, and the best claim to Throne she could have. Her Palentina would follow her anywhere. Through the flames of Oblivion, if need be.
Normally, she would retire at this time, as it was Sundas, and have a tutor be brought up, and lecture her for the rest of the day, but today was a little different. She had requested a specialist for a little history lesson. “So, Quelas, how is-”
A large booming voice, interrupted the Empress’s own voice, cutting her off “And then, I took my sword, and slashed at the Minotaur! The horned beast was damn strong, but no match for my might, oh by the gods you should have seen how big it was, twenty feet tall I reckon, and could throw giant bolts of golden lightning, as if Kynreath herself had possessed it!!”
A small smile formed on the young woman’s face, as a trio of men came into view. The first one was a massive Imperial, clad head to toe in old fashioned, heavy legion-styled armor, with a great wolf cape. It was an odd mix of the plate the Imperial Watch would wear, and regular, lorica legion armor. He had a massive grey beard, and wore a large claymore on his back, which was simple, and very bare, only having a ruby embedded into it's crossguard. He was flanked by two guards, wearing crimson, light legion equipment, made from leather. They carried iron shields, and iron gladius, in contrast to regular Legion steel, which identified them as a household guards. As his sparkling green eyes caught sight of the Empress, he roared, “Your majesty!” He fell onto one knee, while his escort did the same.
It was Dux Lupus. The Old Wolf prowls. She hadn’t seen him since that little incident in court.
She had heard strange...rumors, that explained his massive size, which was about six and half to seven feet tall. When Palentina Guardsmen that had served with him for several years claimed his father was a minotaur, another servant said he had Frost Giant’s blood in him. Maybe he had some kind of rare illness? Whatever the case, he greatly entertained the Empress with his presence. She considered him an ally, and a friend as well. Reminded her of a much more cheerful, and way less insane Lorgar.
“Greetings councilor Lupus, how do you do?” She nodded her head in greeting.
The grey haired Dux laughed heartily, getting up from the kneeling position, which his household guards followed in suite “Quite good in fact. Though please, call me Viatilion. Although... “ He scratched his head with an apologetic smile, “It ain't councilor anymore. Thank Kynreath!”
Dales smiled faded, as she crossed her arms, “Explain, Dux.”
He rubbed the back of his head guilty, as he put on an expression of both shame, and happiness, speaking in a bombastic tone, “Well, as you know...I really didn’t take the position of Elder Councilor serious. I inherited it from my brother after all. All it was, was talking. And more talking. And taxes. And unimportant stuff. Especially since we’re on the verge war! And so I skipped a lot of the meetings, until last week, where I received a letter informing me they booted me off the council!” He began to laugh. Well, maybe only slightly less crazy than Lorgar…
“But being on the council is an honor, and a highly respected position!” Dales half meant it. Sure, there was plenty of good people on the council, and had several prominent members throughout the Empire’s illustrious history, including one of her idols, Potentate Ocato of Firsthold, but to be honest...it was pretty much a den of snakes. At least in her opinion. The Empire always needed a delicate balance between the Monarchy, and the Elder Council, which annoyed her. She should command all the power, and they should follow her!
“Bah, for my family, maybe. Why should I suffer, when they already live wealthy, and pampered lives. It already enough for me to be a Dux, as well as a Legate in the Second And that little bastard wont be a pansy like his father. He’ll be tough! A soldier!” He pumped his chest. Guess he was referring to the orphaned bastard child he kindly took in. “Yeah, and me and him will fight in many battles together, as grandson, and grandfather!” He practically shouted.
Dales gave a pained smile, he was being a little over enthusiastic, she asked, “What, your going to make him your heir?”
The man’s expression became serious, his large beard partially hiding the scowl, he spoke to the Empress quite casually, “Heck no! Now, don’t get me wrong, me and my wife love the little bugger to death” She could tell by his tone he meant it, “But he’s a bastard! My living son, Theodosius, will inherit my lands, titles, and status before I croak.” He said, with pride, in his voice, “Was never prouder of the lad when he joined the Order of the Inferno!”
Dales crossed her arms, “I thought you weren’t a religious type.” Some say that “order” had its roots in religious fanaticism during the Second Era, even today it was very close to the Church of Stendar. Dales never liked Templar orders like that. She prefered her brave knights entirely Secular.
“Now, now, the days of them being religious nutcases is, long, long gone. Now there a proper knightly order. And once the warhorns sound, he will lead the charge alongside his knights!”
“As you say, Dux.” Dales laughed deadpanly,
“Well then, If you excuse me, your majesty, I must be off to a meeting! Good day to you, Empress Draconius!” With a final bow, he passed the trio, alongside his two guards. What a strange man...The Empress thought, before passing on her way.
After about five minutes going down the dark hallways of the Imperial Palace, she had found her destination, her humble study (which had been her unofficial bedroom for the last two months). With a heavy sigh, Dales gripped the door handle, and pushed the reinforced wood forward, entering the room as the duo of soldiers moved into position to guard the entrance, and as she did, she caught a glimpse of her dear little bird.
A small girl melodically hummed to herself, as she did a waltz around the heavily cluttered, room. Her braided, raven hair hung behind her, as her small freckled face filled with happiness; the sparkling, Lapiz Lazuli eyes, deep as the watery depths of the oceans, glanced at the sunlight emerging from the window. Dales heart fluttered a little like a blue lilly, feelings of confusing nature; but before they could emerge, she pushed them back to the depths of her subconscious.
Slip, and sly, like a panther, the Empress predatory sneaked her way into the room, invisible to the humming, dancing girl. Almost as if she was a dark shadow, she made her way across the room without making a single noise, until she was right behind the small girl. The Empress slowly leaned it, and whispered into her ear, “What a lovely dance, my little dove.”
The small girl managed to stutter out, while her face became consumed by crimson, “Your-Majesty-?!” She pushed herself to the Empress’s desk, and tried to cover her face to hide the escaping blush, “I-didn’t-see-you.”
The Empress gave her a sly grin, as she patted her on the top of her head, “I’m always watching, young lady.” Helen gave a warm smile, as she tried to get past the Empress, whom was getting uncomfortably close to her. Not that a part of her didn’t enjoy such close contact to her personal goddess, but the conscious part of her was suffocating, and drowning heat if the Empress got any nearer. The Baroness cleared her throat, saying,
“Forgive me for slacking off, your majesty.” She bowed her head deeply, her ebony braids falling to the side. Upon closer inspection, the Empress noticed some odd traits for an imperial high born lady to have. Especially considering she was one of those famed “flower of chorrol” She wore her hair in braids for one, uncommon, but not unheard of, with purple ribbons. But oddly enough, her back posture was really, really bad, almost always a constant slouch. Her face was freckled, and she wore silver glasses, which gave her a very mousy appearance, even more so than her cousin, Millnerius.
But her eyes. By the gods, her eyes. She bore the gorgeous, Lapis Lazuli eyes of the Quentas’s.
No matter what the Baroness told herself, Dales considered her beautiful.
“That’s a Crimson Waltz correct?” The Empress eyes narrowed. The young girl giggled, saying,
“No your majesty, it’s an Emerald Waltz. It’s Breton in origin, I think.” Helen moved a few paces back, putting her hands behind her back, as the blush on her face remained ever present. She always got this way around the Empress.
Dales smiled, “Forgive me, Helen. I didn’t know you liked dancing so much. It suits you, well.” Dales smile, turned to a seductive grin, as she said, something possessing her “Who you were you dancing with in your mind?”’
The young girls scarlet face deepened, as she managed to stutter out, “No one!!!” Helen withdrew, the blush on her face growing further, as she managed to stutter out, "I..I...I...I....I can never get close to you like this. You're like a goddess, someone to be watched, and worshiped far away."
At the sound of her voice, Helen embarrassment skyrocketed, as she lifted up her arms, shouting, "Ignore what I just said!"
The Empress smirked, a seductive smile, her pearl lips looking suggestive and inviting. A voice told her to stop, but she ignored it. This is...very improper. The Empress knew, but...she wanted too. Certainly, the spymaster would be enraged if she knew Dales was making these...kinds of advancements to her beloved niece. As she turned around, an idea forming in her head. She dramatically spun around, startling Helen, who gasped. Dales placed a hand to her heart, as she got onto one knee, “In that case my lady, may I share a dance with you?”
The heat on her face had gotten so bad, that Dales could imagine steam blowing out of her ears, as the young girl could barely think straight, “Dance-with-the-Em-press?!”
“Well yes.” I really shouldn’t be doing this...it’s selfish. But she deserved to be selfish. "It would be lovely to share a waltz with you, baroness. You looked like you were swimming through the air before.”
The small girl withdrew, her shy face becoming even more with withdrawn then before, with a faint smile, the girl beamed, "I-I can't swim your majesty."
Such youth. Such innocence. Such purity. I want her….Predatory intent filed within her. As the Empress advanced, placing her pale white hands upon, the ebony haired girl’s cheek, which crimson color turned sanguine red. The Empress’s face remained emotionless, as her lithe fingers trailed down the young girls blouse, and entered into her own fingers, the cold touch from her hand sending shivers down Helen’s spine.
Dales and Helen’s hands intertwined, as Dales gently gripped her little angels small, fingers.
The Empress initiated the waltz.
Striding backwards, Dales placed her hands around the young girl's waist, wrapping her arms around, causing a luminous blush to form on Helen’s face. Dales, taking the role of the knight, gently outstretched Helen’s arm, placing her free hand inside Helen’s tiny ones. The Empress, gripping her tightly, twirled her around in a circular spin. She, following the melody set in her head, vibrantly moving across the studies wooden floor, with purpose and intent. The room itself was quite spacious, and Helen had moved the Empress's desk back to make room for her own solitary waltz. Their was plenty of room. She had taken dancing lessons when she was younger, and still remembered many of the moves she was taught. The Empress slowed down the speed of her stride, letting Helen keep up with her in her speed waltz. Their difference in fitness was...quite extreme. Already, the young girl was huffing and puffing, but she admirably kept distance with the Empress, and adeptly, despite the extreme embarrassment, set good pace with her. Dales previous instincts seemed correct, Helen was obviously familiar with dancing, and seemed to enjoy it.
Dales briefly circled around, causing Helen's hand to wrap themselves around her, Dales unwound the girls small arms, and engaged in a brief duet, intertwining her hands with Helen's once more. A brief sense of warmth filled Dales's cold body, a faint blushing forming on her face. She felt...good. Dales stepped to the side deftly, as Helen followed Dales's steps, timidly. She hadn't felt this way in a long time.
Dales had wordlessly chosen a Crimson Waltz, which Helen knew well, going by her mastery of the dance with Dales. A very vibrant, and colorful dance of Imperial origin. She had once, so long ago, done the waltz with Magdala Bathory. Ages ago. I miss Magdala. Dales thought sadly, closing her eyes. When she opened them however, the thought of the author left her, as she gazed at the face of the lovely little dove in front of her.
Their bombastic Red Waltz, slowly faded, as the two women danced for what seemed lie an eternity. In Dale's stupor, and euphoria...she hadn't kept time. And the vermilion hue outside, on her window told her, the hour of twilight had arrived.
How long had I been dancing for? Dales felt sleepy.
By now, the waltz had slowly unraveled, and the Empress and Helen Quetas we're simply holding each other. Dales gripped Helen's waste, Helen Dales's shoulder. They melancholy slow-danced, under the crimson, twilight sun.
"Helen..." Dales practically whispered,
"Dales..." Helen's close breath fell over Dale's face.
"You've finally called me by my first name..." Whispered the Empress,
It time to finish this....The Crimson Waltz had finished long ago, and now, the two had unconscionably chosen a different dance. Dale's knew it. And there was only one way to end it.
The Empress hand slid down as she gripped the young baroness, holding her tightly so she wouldn't fall, as Dales lowered. Helen's luminous blush had disappeared.
Their faces were inches apart, and Helen's gorgeous, Lapiz Lazuli eyes gazed hauntingly into the Empress's own, cold, icy eyes. Staring into her soul.
Helen closed her eyes, and her sweet cherry lips invited Dales to taste them.
The Empress's leaned in....
...and stopped herself, just as her lips nearly reached their destination. Dales imagined a dagger plunging inside Helen, and the shadowy mask of a Dominion Special force officer. Ebony hair turned to brown, and Helen's Lapiz Lazuli eyes, turned green, filled with sorrow. All cradled by sanguine.
No...I can't watch that again.
Helen stood their for a moment, waiting for the contact she had longed for so long. Nothing. Her eyes slowly opened, to see the Empress’s look of pain. Helen sheepishly called out, “Your-...your majesty?”
Dales slowly swallowed, saying, as she gently took Helen’s petite hands into hers, a dark expression forming on her face, “Helen...we can’t do this.”
With a surprising amount of force, Helen pleaded, yelling out with a shy voice, “Why not!?”
Dales, with her strength, slowly lowered the young noble girl to the wooden floor. Helen went into a kneeling position, peeking out of her downcast postion, her small eyes filled with confusion. With her blonde locks illuminated by the crimson, twilight sky, Dales said, in a gentle voice, “Listen to me Helen. Sometimes...well, quite a bit to be honest, bad things happen to adults, or the people that they love. And then they hurt on the inside. Alot.” Her voice lowered, “And that pain, never really goes away. And often, we try to do things and heal those wounds. All that usually does is create new ones.”
Helen remained silent, before uttering, “But-”
Dale’s expression darkened, "You're young baroness. These...these feelings you think you have for me, will fade, just as the twilight sky disappears consumed by the moons. You're just confused. Sometimes girls you're age confuse feelings of strong admiration for other women, as love. Its just a phase."
Why I am saying these cruel words?
"But you asked me to dance-"
"I feel nothing for you. You're just a pretty little distraction. Nothing more. A plaything, for me to enjoy"
Tears began to form around Helen's eyes, as she sat up, throwing the Empress's hand away. Dales tried to grab them, saying, instant regret filling inside her. Not for her actions, but those overly excessive cruel words she used, "Helen-"
The small girl shoved the Empress to the side, tears finally steaming down her check, and wails of anguish left her mouth. Dale's words must have stung her like a swords bite. Without another world, but her agonizing screaming, Helen rushed outside, slamming the doors open, as she left, weeping.
Dales herself hadn't taken her first, of many, rejections well, so she couldn't blame the girl. This was for the best though.
Better she cut the red string that binded them in one, fast, if painful slash.
Helen was far braver, and stronger then she let on. She would be fine in a few days, and hopefully move on. The Empress...shouldn't have done what she did. Made her dance with her.
Given her false hope.
Dales swore, as she angrily, in a display of seething rage, punched the wall of her study, her knuckle smashing against the wall, just as she channeled a strength spell causing a small dent to appear in the stone work. Swearing again, and again, the Empress grabbed her desk, and moved it back into place, before taking a tired seat. She waited their for five minutes, doing nothing. She reached for a book to her right. I was having such a good day...
Just as she did, the doors to her study slammed open.
"What the **** is wrong with you bitch!"
It was Victoria. The brown haired maid entered into her study, throwing open the wooden doors. More like marched in. The two guards readied their blades on instinct (not that they would strike down the maid. They knew her and the Empress had a really....volatile. but very close relationship), but were stopped as Dales raised her hand. "No. Shut the door." The two guards gulped nervously, as they obeyed their Empresses command with a worried nod, just as they two closed the oak doors. They really didn't want to deal with this kind of drama. Dales rose above her desk, as her features darkened, her voice coarse and rigid. This wasn't going to end well "Victoria, lower you're voice. Don't refer to me like that again. I am you're Empress, before anything else. It undermines my authority, and makes me look weak infront of my men."
The maid placed her hands to her hip, as she angrily yelled, "Did it ******* look weak when you started wailing about loosing High Rock, began tearing down furniture?"
"Victoria!" Anger became visible on her face.
"Or maybe it was when you broke the window, and decided to end you're pathetic life!"
"VICTORIA ENOUGH!" The Empress gripped the wooden desk hard, as she seethed, dark breath reflecting as she breathed long and hard. A daemon had entered her. She relaxed slightly, "What do you want?"
"Oh what do I want?" The maid said. The anger replaced by a cold bitterness. "Helen's ******* wailing in the broom closest down the hall." Her voice became louder, "Damn Sergeant Scippo, and bloody Venus are consoling the poor girl, while i'm here! She told me everything you said to her!"
Dales displayed no emotion, but you could anger was rising within her. Her left hand began to twitch, as it was having spasms. "So?"
Victoria's green eyes narrowed, "I cant believe you would say all those hurtful things. All the things that other people told to you! How you felt in Helen's position right now!" She slowly approached the Empress, who was being stabbed by pain. "How could you be so cruel?"
The Empress swallowed hard, "The world is cruel, Victoria. Better Helen know that-"
"Don't give that nihilistic crap you've been spouting! You think you're tough shit huh? Helen helped saved you're life, Dales. Remember? When you we're going to plunge those glass shards into you're miserable wrists."
"She'll be happier when she gets a husband, and a family-"
"You really believe that?! Dales what the ****?!"
"It's always I!" She shouted, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself! It's pathetic! Didn't you care about all the people who love you! Did you think how they ******* feel when you wanted to kill yourself?!" Tears began to form on her eyes, but the venom was still their, "What would Elain have thought if she saw?" By now, she was just a few feet away from Dales.
The Empress's eyes filled with red hot fury. "Don't say her name again."
Victoria stepped forward, "She would be ******* disgusted with you. How you spat on her wish of you being happy. How you crushed that girl who wanted to give everything to-"
Victoria was interrupted. Dales slammed her fist into Victoria's gut in a display of power and speed, before she could do anything. Dales grabbed her by the head, and smashed her into the wooden book shelf, causing the maid to be stunned, and thrown to the ground. Victoria's eyes opened to the Empress's hands going around her throat, her once pretty face completely marred by anger. Her mouth salivated in rage, and her voice expression of rage was to the point the maid could barely even recognize the Empress. Her voice..was hateful. So hateful. "Shut. You're. Mouth. You. No. Good. Whore." Her hands became tighter, as she began to strangle one of her oldest, and closest friends.
Even in this state, all Victoria could do was laugh, "Hows-it-feel-Dales-?-Huh?-Do you-think-you're-father felt the same-when he choked you're mother-and-slapped-you around..."
At those words, Dales grip on Victoria completely loosened. Her face softened, as she got up, and took a few steps back. She only managed to get a few feet, before she began to buckle, and nearly collapse to the floor. With a dawning look of complete horror, her face became filled with complete despair, "Victoria..." She said feverishly, getting into her studies corner. She stuttered out, "I'm...i'm so sorry...I-didn't mean to do that." She put her face to her knees.
Having recovered in an instant, Victoria, got up saying, "Yeah. Whatever." She turned around, feeling even worse then before she had entered. Dale's called out from behind,
"I...said those things, because I don't want her to end up like me. I don't want Helen to hurt like me... The ones closest to me get hurt....I can..only see Elain's blood when I look at her. It's my fault she died. Please...please forgive me Victoria. I didn't-mean to hurt...you or her. I'm so sorry..." The Empress began to sniffle. She wanted to cry, but she promised herself she wouldn't anymore.
The maid left without another word, leaving Dales to sulk in her study. The silence remained.
Work always made Dales feel better. She had cancelled her tutors for the evening after...those...encounters, and had buried herself into running the country. Right now, she had shoved everything that had just transpired into the back of her mind. Right now she was....contemplating her foreign manners, starring at a map of Tamriel.
Dales hand lingered on the map. Feeling the worn parchment on her leather gloves. Sinister thoughts filled her dark mind. She liked Baldur, and that was it. She had no opinion on the other foreign leaders, besides the hatred she felt for the pig king, and his horrid group of Bretons Jesters. Nothing to bind them together. Meaning they were expendable in the long run. Yes, she would cooperate with them in the Empire’s interest, but something inside her, a suicidal notion, desired Imperial Dominance. But alas, she had already conceded. Skyrim would be the ones to lead Tamriel against the Dominion, and the Empire would do its part alongside them. It's not like they would be undervalued. Or they better not be, or Dales foul mood would come along again. The Empire, alongside the Nords, would take the full brunt of the Dominion. The Imperial Legion, was without boast, the strongest, most well trained, and largest force the Allied human nations had to offer. Access to Dominion Lands, would primarily be through Cyrodiil as well. Plenty of glory to be shared. Between the Imperials, Nords, Redguards, and Bretons. A weakened Dragon still has flame and fang. And for that reason, I don’t need to be at the front and center.
Anything to protect her precious Cyrodiil. Her pride, and desires came after it's well being.
Maybe I should just read for the rest of the evening.
Her thoughts went from Cyrdoilli, to her current reading.
She glanced at the open book, sketches of the mad Breton poet Le Poor plainly visible, as his trademark styled filled the page. Instead of his infamous manuscript of Dragons, Dales was looking at the ancient Tsaesci of Akavari. Though the dreaded snake people were seldom seen in Tamriel, their influence was shown far and wide, with the current Imperial culture taking much from them, which included Imperial politics, and the Legions military structure; even Lorica Segmentata, had originated from them. Painted in black strokes, they took horrifying appearances, even further by the stylized imagery in the painting. Jagged fangs sprouted from their mouths, a perpetual grin visible, and there overblown bodies of green, reptilian flesh. While Argonians seemed to be more man than creature, these looked more serpent then man, even if there snakes eyes held a sparkle of intelligence, or so how the drawings depicted them. Dales took in their features, and found them...oddly appealing. What attracts me to this oddly enticing darkness? Dales could only wonder what they're females looked like.
Serpents...mighty and cunning beasts. Some call them “imperfect dragons”. The hunger to consume all flows through them. Such voracious lust sometimes ends in them eating themselves.
Dragons. The Empress was still drawn to those fabled beasts of legend. Was she a Snake, or a Dragon? Being an imperfect Dragon, was better than being no dragon.
Dales awoke with a cry of pain. Her dreams hadn't been pleasant. She got up from her couch, throwing off her blanket, and examining her darkened surroundings. The door...to her study was open. Instinctively, she drew the knife under her pillow, and brought it up into a fighting stance, her other hand conjuring a piece of magelight.
A voice suddenly called out to her. Entering her head...it was...coming from outside.
Should she follow it?