Continued from: Chapter 14: A Season Ended Part II
A note to the readers: you might be lost if you haven't read Chapter 2: Her Mother's Daughter and Chapter 8: The Scar. Also, I've put in a lot of screen art. The story's not over till you see Fini.
The hike had been arduous. The cold and ice had done nothing to make the journey any easier, but Ondolemar had traveled this treacherous pass before and knew the path was always long, always dangerous, and always unfathomably cold. As he climbed toward the summit, he thought about her. She was a trickster, a showman, a beautiful woman with a gift of sleight of hand. But now things were different. She was to face a foe of unimaginable power. He knew that this battle would be unlike any of the other they had faced—and she would be facing this creature alone.
When Ondolemar ascended the last of the Seven Thousand Steps to the Throat of the World, he looked over at the perch that housed the ancient dragon Paarthurnax. He approached the dragon, unsure if the great beast would deign to speak to him as he played no part in this drama.
Paarthurnax stood as still as stone on the perch that overlooked the world below him. He moved not a fraction as the unrelenting winds blew through his torn wings. He was a monolith, a statue, and for a moment Ondolemar thought the creature dead.
“Paarthurnax?” Ondolemar asked with some trepidation. For a moment the dragon did not stir, but then his eyes opened and his mouth blew fire on the on a rock behind the mer.
“For warmth,” Paarthurnax offered. “You mer quake in the cold. I’d rather you quake before my presence.”
“Well put, dragon,” Ondolemar said as he warmed himself before the glowing stone.
“So the savior of Skyrim is now flying on the back of that rebel Odahviing to the land of the dead. And all the hopes of the living are flying with her.”
“I take it you’ve spoken to Arngeir,” Ondolemar commented.
“Yes, to him or one of the Greybeards. My eyesight is failing, mortal, and they all wear robes and beards; hard to tell them apart nowadays. You’re now wearing one of their robes and have a small beard. I wouldn’t have known you weren’t a Greybeard but for your voice and sallow skin. So why have you come?”
“I was tired of chanting. Mediation does nothing for my soul. And I wanted to speak to you as one who knows where my love is going.”
“I have been to many places, mortal, but I have not been to the home of the Nord dead. I have no interest there and no ties.”
“Then you have no idea what she is facing?”
“Of course I do, as do you. She is facing Alduin. But don’t despair, Ondolemar; the dovah Marceline is not alone in her travels, or soon won’t be.”
“You say that with some confidence, dragon.”
“I have been alive for a long time. In my life and travels I’ve come across a multitude of creatures, both human and mer and countless kinds beyond. And in my great age, I found that life goes on long after we do.”
“Are you saying you commune with lost souls?”
“No, but I know they exist. I know that Sovngarde houses a good many of them and some are waiting with baited breath for your beloved’s arrival.”
Marceline woke to a soft mist of water gently caressing her face. She had fallen asleep on Odahviing and woke to him passing over a bank of clouds. She marveled at the sights around her. She could see the craggy peaks of the mountains below.
“You are awake then, dovah?” Odahviing chortled.
“Yes,” she answered quietly. “I am.”
“I never would have expected that mortal could fall asleep on the back of dragon.”
“I was sleepy.”
“You’d better be awake now; we’re nearly there.” As Odahviing landed, Marceline gasped at the colossal Skuldafn Temple that loomed large in the distance.
“Not exactly the most welcoming place,” she muttered.
“There are much worse places in Nirn, Dragonborn. Have you ever ventured to Akavir?”
“No, I can’t say that I’ve personally traveled to that lost land, but I know that my great grandmother, the Nerevarine had. After defeating the self-made god Dagoth Ur, she later went on to battle the Akaviri natives. Wait, you’re laughing. And now you’re choking. “
Ehh eha cough. “I’m sorry, Dovakiin.”
“What’s so funny? My life is hanging in the balance and you’re over there guffawing. This is no laughing matter!”
“Battling Akaviri natives. Oh, that’s rich. That’s a great story. Not a word of truth to it, of course, but I digress.”
“You know, Odahviing, until Alduin resurrected your miserable self, you were busy taking a rather large dirt nap. So, in all that time you were dead, how do you know she didn’t?”
“Because I know Akavir. And I know if you’re great-granny set one arthritic toe on the sands of Akavir, she would have been annihilated. There are unimaginable horrors that lie east of Tamriel, across the Padomaic sea."
“Maybe it was all a lie,” Marceline said as jumped down off of Odahviing. “But she did have a secret weapon.”
“Oh really?” Odahviing retorted.
“She had this,” Marceline said as she slipped the Nerevarine’s robe over her head. “Now you see me…”
“What?” Odahviing peered over his shoulders, yet it seemed that Marceline had vanished completely.
“Over here, cranky,” she said as smacked dragon’s scales.
“Ouch! Vile little beast!” he choked, releasing a plume of smoke.
“Ha, ha! Didn’t see that coming did ya?” Marceline laughed, pulling the hood down.
“Pretty little trick, Dovakiin, and it may help you in this world, but the afterlife is a different story.”
Marceline wrapped her arms around her chest and looked at the dragon. “Yeah, I know.”
Aela watched the steam rise from her tea as snow billowed and danced softly outside her window. She had arrived at the Thalmor Embassy in Solitude just a few days prior. Thus far, she had been treated well; she had plenty food served to her by polite servants and a soft bed to sleep in at night; not the dungeon that she had anticipated at all.
She looked out her window, watching merchants and soldiers weave in and around each other, their movements forming a tapestry, when she heard a knock.
“Excuse, madam, you have a visitor,” stated the Thalmor guard. Standing behind nameless guard was General Tullius.
“Send him in,” Aela replied cheerfully.
“It is good to see you, Aela.”
“The pleasure is all mine, General. Please, have a seat.”
Tullius pulled up a high-back chair beside the huntress. “How have they been treating you?”
“With the upmost respect. They feed me well and provide a soft bed, though little in the way of conversation. Has there been any word of the Dragonborn?”
“No, no, at least nothing that has come across my desk. People are starting to worry.”
“I’m not,” she said as she poured Tullius some tea.
“Yes, for I can still feel her presence; it’s becoming stronger and stronger with each passing day. And there have been no recent dragon attacks. The World Eater must be busy summoning his minions.”
“I hope you’re right, Aela.”
“I am, but I know that’s not why you’re here, General. You want to talk about what happens next, after all of this is over.”
“You’re quite perceptive.”
“As you well know, the Companions will not take a political stance—it’s just not going to happen.”
“We’ll see about that. It’s difficult not to raise an axe when one is coming down upon you.”
“We’ve managed to stay out thus far, but you’re right, who knows what will happen if Whiterun falls under siege.”
“Perhaps if the Dragonborn becomes involved—
“Tullius, don’t look to the Dragonborn to solve your problems—at least not yet.”
“What do you mean?” Tullius asked nervously.
“She won’t meddle in your civil war. In fact, after she defeats the World-Eater, she will be off to her home land; that was the condition of her husband’s release.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Now you do.”
“So you’re saying that after all this, after everything that’s happened, Marceline will simply disappear?”
“For now maybe, but not forever,” Aela mused. “General, our world is changing; the Empire is crumbling and set to choke under the heel of Aldmeri Dominion. If the Empire is to survive, we need new leadership; a Septim should retake the throne.”
“What you’re saying is treasonous.” When he saw the huntress chuckle, he said, “I see you laughing, this is no laughing matter.”
“General, what I say in here doesn’t matter; right now you need me to live. Besides, I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard murmurs and whispers of Titus’s ineptitude.”
“No, sadly, it is not.”
“Tullius, soon this civil war will be over and the real battle will begin. You would be wise to pick a side that can win.”
Tullius nodded mutely, as he stared out the window while Aela poured them both more tea.
Marceline peered into the hole that stretched on without end. She had easily slipped past the endless lines of draugr and dragons. Now the real challenge lay before her in the form of a portal that would carry her to the land of the dead. She hesitated out of fear—not for journey, but the fear of encountering all those whom she had previously dispatched. Would they be waiting for her? Did the dead hold a grudge?
Taking a deep breath, Marceline took the plunge. Bright lights and the sound of swirling wind surrounded her. She felt a strange tingling sensation envelop her as she fell effortlessly into death.
When she opened her eyes, Marceline found herself in a land of indescribable beauty. The sky was awash in soft pastels and ethereal light as shimmering snow fell all around her, though she was not cold. And despite being in the land of the dead, she felt safe, for how could anything bad happen in a place of such splendor?
And then she heard it; the unmistakable shriek of the World-Eater. There was no safe haven, she thought, not even for the dead. Marceline walked down the stairs of the shrine into a deep fog. She startled as a hand reached out to her.
“Who’s there?” Marceline called out.
“The one who was born to carry your burdens.”
“Lydia!” Marceline cried as the specter took shape. “You’re here!”
“Where else would I be?” she laughed.
“Alive most likely,” Marceline answered softly. “Had Balgruuf not assigned you to be my housecarl.”
“You don’t know that, my thane,” Lydia said with a shrug. “Nobody knows that. I could have been eaten by a dragon, or I could have perished in the civil war, or a pie cart could have run me over.”
“You did like pie,” Marceline said with a sheepish smile.
“You must stop blaming yourself. We all have our roles to play in this comedy. I was meant to die in order to help guide you through the land of the dead.”
“Still, Lydia, I cringe at what the Thalmor must have made you suffer—and frankly I feel guilty for it.”
Lydia sighed. “In death there are no memories of pain. It boils down to this, Marceline: one minute I was alive and the next I was here. I harbor no ill will toward you or those who brought me to this place.”
“It is a strange place, Lydia and I am confused. Do I seek out Alduin?”
“No, I am sure he will come for you. We must make sure you are prepared to meet him, and while I enjoy your company, I have no desire for you to stay. So come quickly, my thane, for the World-Eater waits in the mists for his prey.”
“Where are we going?”
“To the Hall of Valor, the realm of dead heroes,” Lydia said as she looked over at Marceline, who had stooped down to gather the dirt from the dusty road. “Whatever are you doing?”
“I have a feeling I’ll need this.”
The path was long and winding. Occasionally, Lydia and Marceline would see figure appear out of the mists. Some looked straight ahead into nothing while others stopped to speak. As they made their way toward a clearing, Marceline saw a man regally dressed and wearing a crown; they stopped and faced each other. Without speaking, Marceline knew who this man was.
“Your Highness,” Marceline said, and then curtsied at specter this with his a long face and vacant-eyed stare.
“You know me then,” the man said.
“You’re High King Torygg,” she said simply.
“I am…or was. And you…you are you the savior of all men and mer? The one destined to vanquish the World-Eater?”
“So they say,” she uttered. “Sire, you look like a man with a question.”
“Here, there are few questions to be asked. But there is one concern that still haunts my soul. When Ulfric tore my flesh asunder with his Shout, the last thing I remember was my wife crying out to me. Dragonborn, my greatest regret was leaving my Elisif, frightened and weeping. How does she fare?”
“There is a great sadness in her countenance, milord. When I met her and looked into her eyes, I saw that they still called out for you. Only time could heal those wounds; though, for all the pain she has suffered at your loss, I can say with some certainty that you would be proud of the jarl she has become. Elisif is a fearless advocate for her people and has even stood up to Ulfric Stormcloak.”
“Has she?” Torygg asked, as his eyes lightened. “That is good to know. Thank you, Dragonborn; and I, along with all the living and all the dead, wish you success in your endeavor to destroy beast that plagues both realms.”
“And I wish you peace, milord,” Marceline said as she watched as his figure disappear in the mist.
Marceline and Lydia continued on for some in the darkness before they came to a clearing. Beyond the clearing was a great bridge, made from whale bone.
“My Thane, Shor’s hall is just beyond that clearing.”
“I see it and the bridge. There is man standing there. Who is he?” Marceline said as she studied the giant looming ahead as they grew closer.
“His name is Tsun. He is the guardian of the Hall of Valor. You must face him if you wish to be granted access to the hall. I can offer you no help in this, my thane.”
“I was afraid of that, but I have a plan, Lydia. There is no way, at least not in my condition, that I can risk battling him head on, but…when there’s a will, there is a way.” Marceline then pulled the Nerevarine’s cloak over her head and approached guardian at the gates.
“What manner of being approaches?” Tsun thundered.
Marceline stopped and pushed the cloak back from her face. “So, you can see me.”
“No, I can sense you, creature. I can smell you.”
“Well, this may prove to be a bit more of a challenge then. Guardian, I am the Dragonborn, who seeks to enter your halls and commune with the dead.”
The giant of a man sighed. "Ah! It's been too long since last I faced a doom-driven hero of the dragon blood."
“I am not doom-driven, Tsun, as I have no intention of dying.”
“We shall see,” Tsun said as he swung his massive axe at Marceline.
“No, you shall not.” Marceline ducked as she threw a handful of dust in the air, then Shouted “Ven Gaar Nos!” The cyclone Shout blew the dust directly into Tsun eyes. He cried out as he dropped his axe. In that split second, Marceline parted his head from his torso. Instantly, Tsun rematerialized.
“Dragonborn, I cannot say you fought well as trickery is a far call from valor, but you have bested me and so I grant you access to the Hall of Valor. May Shor’s favor follow you and your errand.”
“Thank you guardian,” Marceline said as she took Lydia’s hand. “Must you stay out here?”
“Oh, no, I bested him as soon as I arrived,” Lydia answered. “You know what they say, my thane, the bigger they are…”
“…The harder they fall. Yes, let’s hope that saying holds true for Alduin.”
Atvir Dres had spent the better part of the day cleaning Breezehome. He stopped for a moment and toyed with the piece of glass he found on ground from a shattered mirror. As he studied glass, he heard the door open.
“That’s quite a consolation prize you have here, my friend.”
Atvir sighed at his friend standing in the door way. “You can pick up a broom can’t you Athis, or are you too scared it will hit you?”
“Aye, you bloody bastard, I’ll do it, but you should have Ria in here doing it for you.”
“No, she moons over me too much as it is,” Dres said, shaking his head.
“She moons too much over everybody, you pompous ass,” Athis said as tossed a rag at Dres.
“Well, I don’t want her getting any funny ideas about staying here. This place is mine.”
“How do you figure?” Athis said while sweeping up the floor.
“Marceline and I spoke about it after we reached High Hrothgar. Per her deal with the Emissary, she will vacate Skyrim for a while. She stated the place was mine, as gift for everything I had done for her.”
“I see. So if you can’t have the girl, you get the house. It’s a shame a woman like her took up with that pissy Thalmor.”
“You know, Athis, I was angry at first. I was furious,” Dres mused. “But then I saw him confront Elenwen. I watched him as he gave his life for the woman he loved. Can’t say for sure if I would have done the same for her, or anyone for that matter. So, let him have her and be happy. But no matter what, I will always fight beside her.”
Athis stopped sweeping and looked over at Dres. “What do you mean by that, sera?”
“Exactly what I said. The world is changing, Athis,” Dres said as stared at his friend intently. “Marceline, Aela and I spoke of this. It’s time for a Septim to retake the throne. A half-Dunmer Septim. What do you think of that?”
Athis leaned against a chair as he glared at Dres. “There’s only one thing to say: The Emperor Titus is dead. Long live Empress Kaushibael.”
“I thought you’d say that.”
“Be on your guard, my thane,” Lydia said as she and Marceline crossed the whale-bone bridge and entered the smoky, great hall. Upon entering, Marceline ducked, as a flagon of mead smashed against the wall, just missing her head.
“I see what you mean, Lydia.” Marceline took a deep breath as she entered the fold. In the center of the hall was a great table, filled with food, mead and laughing Nords. All around her were the sounds of laughter and fighting. A true Nord’s hall, she thought, though something was off. In the distance, she could hear the reedy sound of man’s voice, singing what sounded like an old Dunmer lullaby.
As Marceline grew closer to the source of that sound, a pang of pain clutched her heart. She knew that song, and what’s more, she knew that voice.
“Saryoni!” Marceline called out to the handsome men singing to a crowd of doting women. He dropped the lute and turned to face her. There could be no doubt. This was Saryoni, Marceline’s long-dead brother. Marceline collapsed into pool by his feet.
“Marcy!” Saryoni cried as he caught his sister. “We can’t have you falling all about, love. Now here, take my hands and let me look at you!” Shaking, Marceline reached out him as tears fell fast down her face.
“Oh, no. What’s this?” he grinned. “Did a Spriggan grab your tongue, little one?”
“I…I wasn’t…you’re here! I can see you…”
“Well, of course you can see me. And I can see you,” he laughed. “By the gods, Marcy, you got tits! You’re all grown up and you’re more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.”
“I’ve wished for so long to see you…I’ve prayed and wished upon every new moon…”
“I know, my little love,” he said, leading her to a chair. “Oh, don’t cry. It’s making your face all red. You know I could never stand to see you cry.”
“It’s just…I’ve missed you so much. There’s so much…I love you.”
“I know, but you need to calm down, and godssakes don’t be sad. We’re here now…together. At least for a while.”
For a time they said nothing. He held her close; she could smell him; his scent was a mixture of juniper, snowberries and sweat. She could touch his long, dark hair and look in to his eyes of deep indigo with flecks of red fire; his face so much like their father. After a time she finally regained the ability to speak. “How is it that you’re here, Saryoni? This is not our dead’s home.”
“I don’t know, Marcy; I really have no idea. I can’t tell you where I was before or where I’ll be after. The last thing I remember was a dragon… a bloody dragon…and then nothing…and then here. I’m sorry; I can’t tell you anything else. Well, actually I can,” he said looking down—the same look he had on his face whenever he and their parents fought. “Look, I don’t know if any of this real, if you’re really here or if I’m really dead—I am dead, right?”
“Yes,” Marceline answered softly, nodding her head.
“Then I want to tell you this before this all goes away and there’s never a chance again. I want you to know that I’m sorry for any pain I caused you, Mom and Dad. I’m sorry for all the ill I’ve done.”
Marceline put her finger to her brother’s lips. “No, don’t apologize. You gave us all such joy. You were a bright spark in all our lives. Your spark was too bright for such a dark place as Raven Rock. You belong amongst the stars.”
A smile that could light an entire galaxy spread across Saryoni’s face. “I see in my absence, you’ve become something of a poet, Marceline. That gladdens my heart.”
“I want to say so much now, but I can’t think,” Marceline uttered. “Do you know why you’re here? Why I’m here?”
“I know I am here to help you. And I know I’m not the only one.” Marceline looked around, she saw Lydia smiling with a nod. Marceline then turned toward the great table; sitting on the end and staring up at Marceline was a young woman with striking red hair, wearing Imperial armor—Marceline knew this had to be Fura Morrard, Angela’s daughter.
“There’s just one I can’t figure,” Lydia said, motioning toward the window. There, in the soft light, stood an Altmer woman, small in stature with long, golden ringlets cascading down her back. The woman turned from the window and looked at Marceline, with large, round, green eyes. In her arms she cradled a newborn child.
“I know her,” Marceline murmured. “Please excuse me.” Marceline walked slowly toward the woman.
“Psylia?” Marceline asked. Psylia nodded, though said nothing as she approached Marceline and placed her hand on the Dragonborn’s stomach. Marceline closed her eyes as she felt a kind of warmth radiate from her womb, a warmth that spread throughout the rest her body.
“Thank you,” Marceline said as she opened her eyes, but Psylia was gone. In her place was a golden amulet. Marceline picked it up and fastened it around her neck.
“Who was that?” Lydia asked.
“Someone my husband once knew. Someone who is trying to right a terrible wrong.”
“Wait, you have husband?” Saryoni asked, dumbfounded.
“Don’t sound so shocked!” Marceline shot back.
“Tell me about him; I mean I’m just curious.”
“He is an Altmer…former Justiciar of the Thalmor.” Marceline said the last part really quickly in hopes Lydia wouldn’t catch it. No such luck.
“You married Ondolemar! Ugh! I can’t believe you!” Lydia shouted.
“Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one with bad taste in men!” Saryoni laughed. “Tell me, little sister, do you sing him the song…Marceline, Marceline pees in the snowberry trees!”
“No!” Marceline roared, rounding on her brother. “Shut up, Saryoni!”
“No, don’t shut up, Saryoni,” Lydia retorted. “I want you to sing more songs about the thane’s Thalmor lover.”
“Ok…here goes: Oh, there was once a girl from Solstheim who married a piss-colored bloke from the—“
“Just shut up!’ Marceline shouted before turning to Lydia. “And you, housecarl, quit encouraging him. Besides…don’t we have a dragon to kill?”
“Yes, but singing terrible songs about you is infinitely more fun,” Saryoni purred.
“I guess we should round everyone up,” Lydia sighed as she turned to Fura, signaling her to join them. “Are we ready?”
“I feel like we’re forgetting something,” Marceline said as turned toward the door. “Oh, yeah, I need to talk to that group of people standing over there by the door. I think they’re supposed to be a part of this.”
“They do look like they’re feeling a bit left out,” Saryoni added. The group then approached the Nord heroes of old: Gormlaith, Hakon, and Felldir.
“Okay. Everyone have their weapons?” Marceline asked as the group drew their blades, bows and axes…everyone except Saryoni. “Brother, are you planning to sing Alduin to death?”
“Well, I could try, but I think this would be more useful,” he said as he pulled out a Daedric longbow.
“Well played, sir,” Marceline laughed. “Well, let’s go.”
“Wait, milady,” Felldir said. “Shouldn’t we have a plan?”
“You’re right,” Marceline replied. “Ok, I’ll Shout Dragonrend at the bastard, while Lydia, Gormlaith, Felldir and Hakon hack ol’ Aldie to bits. Saryoni, you and Fura hit him hard with your bows and I take the final blow to heart. Everyone clear?”
“Yep,” they all replied in unison.
Twenty minutes later, the World-Eater lay in pile of smoldering ash.
“Shouldn’t you be going now, Marcy?” Saryoni asked as he, Lydia, Fura and Marceline gathered snowberries by a statue of some unknown monk.
“Not yet,” Marceline answered. “I just…I know I’ll never see any of you again and I’m not ready to let go, not yet at least.”
“Well, before you go, Dragonborn, I’d like to thank you,” Fura said. “For all that you’ve done for my people…and my family.”
“Fura, it’s you I should thank. Through you, I met your mother. Angela is dear to me.”
“It is a comfort knowing she has you, Viv and Aldis,” she said as she rose. “I’m going back to the hall now. Could you tell them that I am settled and happy. But Marceline—“
“Just don’t tell Aldis what I told you about earlier, ok?”
“Your secret is safe with me,” Marceline said as Fura walked toward the hall.
“What did she tell you?” Lydia and Saryoni asked in unison.
“That’s she’s met a nice spirit that she spends much time…uh…communing with. Didn’t know you spirits…uh…joined giblets with each other in the afterlife.”
“Humph, not me,” said Lydia. “I mean, would either of you really want to commune with any of the spirits in that hall?”
“Nope,” Marceline and Saryoni answered in unison.
“But give it some time, Lydia,” Saryoni shrugged. “One day you meet a nice dead Nord of your dreams.”
“Alright, I’m leaving now,” said Lydia as she tossed some snowberries at Saryoni. She then embraced Marceline. “My thane, it was a joy to serve you and I will miss you; though, I hope not see you for a very long time.”
Marceline nodded as she watched Lydia’s figure disappear into the hall.
“So now it’s just us,” Saryoni said, as he gathered his sister to his side. “What will you do now?”
“Go home for a while. Have this baby. Enjoy the peace and quiet that is Solstheim.”
“Ha! You’ll be bored in a week,” Saryoni said, rolling his eyes. “You’ll need more to do than that, Marcy.”
“Yeah, well perhaps I can come up with a solution to make Solstheim more livable.”
“Oh, ho ho, good luck with that,” he said shaking his head. “If the villagers aren’t starving, then they’re drunk. If they’re not drunk, then they’re bickering about being too poor to get drunk. And if they’re not fighting about that, they’re—“
“Yeah, okay, I get that. But there must be something I can do. But it will have to be done quickly.”
“Why, what else do you have up your sleeve?”
“Well, as you know, our great-grandmother, the Nerevarine, was a documented bastard of Uriel Septim. The Septim blood courses through my veins and I am the Dragonborn—
“So you’re planning to retake the bloody throne—the Imperial throne? Wow. That’s crazy, but on the upside, perhaps I’ll see you sooner than you think.”
“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, big brother.”
“Honestly, Marceline, I believe you can do anything you set your mind to. And I have faith,” he said softly. “But hey, Marcy, can you do me a favor when you go back? “
“I told you I’d tell Mother and Father everything, Saryoni,” Marceline said as she stroked his cheek. “I’ll tell them that you loved them and don’t blame them for anything.”
“That’s perfect, but I want you to do something else for me.”
“When you go back home I want you to find that bloody dragon that took a chunk out of me and I want you to Shout him to pieces.”
“Sounds like a plan,” she said, giving her brother a kiss on the cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. And gods, I will miss you.” Saryoni said as he held his sister close. “How ‘bout I pick you up and spin you around one last time?”
“You know, I’d like that.”
A loud Shout brought Marceline back to the world of the living. As she stood on the Throat of the World, she saw her beloved and Paarthurnax standing beside each other.
“So it is done?” Paarthurnax asked.
“It is. Alduin is no more and the wound in time has been healed.”
Marceline looked over at Ondolemar. “So this is what you’ve been doing while I’ve been gone?” Marceline asked as she embraced her husband. “Whiling the time away in debate?”
“I’ve kept good company, my love,” Ondolemar said as he kissed his wife. “We have been conversing on all matters of life and death. While you were playing with ghosts and vanquishing dragons, Paarthurnax has been teaching me the Way of the Voice.”
“And he has been a willing pupil,” Paarthurnax added.
“So what happens now?” Marceline asked.
“Drem, patience, my child. The dragons are gathering. Turn and listen to them speak.” As Marceline turned she faced dozens of dragons. They began to speak, and the deafening tone of their voices nearly knocked her over:
“Alduin fallen. Mighty overlord has been vanquished. Dragonborn is his slayer. His Thu’um is silenced. We are unallied.”
Marceline turned to Paarthurnax confused,“So they have given up their loyalty to a dead prince?”
“He was more of a king, Dovakiin,” Paarthurnax added sadly. “The dragons are unallied, but that doesn’t mean they will follow the Way of the Voice. Some will still challenge you. In time, maybe you’ll learn all their secrets, but not now, little one. Now is a time of rest and endings.”
“Almost, Paarthurnax. There’s just one thing I need to take care of—and there—there’s the dragon that will do it.” Marceline looked up into the sky and swirling mist. From mist came Odahviing. He crashed down beside her, inches from her face.
“So it is done, little one,” he said with a chortle. “Alduin is no more.”
“Yes, I have vanquished him.”
“I am surprised, but not disappointed. I am here to pledge my allegiance to you.”
“Good, for I need to set you to task.”
“And what would you have this dragon do for you?” Odahviing chortled.
Marceline walked over to a loose boulder. Carefully, she used her fire magic to carve message into the stone. “I have won the day. Return Aela to Whiterun.”
“Odahviing, I want you to fly this boulder to the Thalmor Embassy and see that is crashes through the top of Elenwen’s Solar. I want you to make a bloody mess. Think you can do that for me?”
“With pleasure, dovah.” Odahviing rose, took the boulder and flew beyond sight. Marceline then turned to Ondolemar. “Are you ready, my dear?”
“Yes, I am ready. Where to now?”
“Whiterun to gather our things and then to Solstheim for a time,” she answered. “I can’t wait to tell you about all those I saw in Sovngarde. Ondolemar, Lydia was there and so was my brother…”
“Really?” Ondolemar turned Marceline to face him, as he reached out and gently caressed the small, golden necklace that hung loosely around her neck. “That necklace...Psylia was there too, wasn’t she?” he asked, his voice barely above a murmur.
“She was. She gave me this necklace and I believe she helped protect our child in the battle.” Marceline decided to leave the part out about Psylia holding his first child. Maybe one day she would tell him, but not now. Now was a time of joy and reunion.
“So, it is finally over,” Ondolemar said as they walked hand in hand down the mountain of stairs. “We will be leaving Skyrim forever to be banished to the frozen rock of Solstheim. You know, I’m actually looking forward to it.”
“Don’t get too comfortable, Ondolemar. For now, I have agreed to stay out of Skyrim; however, I never promised Elenwen I’d stay out of Cyrodiil.”
“Ah, I see and I’m sure you’ll tell me all about the plan you’ve hatched, thane. But for now we are going west; walking in the direction of the fading sun.”
“Ondolemar, my love, we are going walk off into the sunset.”