“Gods, what has happened to Skyrim?” Polemistis shook her head in dismay. A Breton woman then approached Polemistis, “His name was Roggvir and he helped Ulfric escaped.” She spat on the ground, “Traitor.”
“You’re all heart, Vivienne.” A Nord added as he strolled past them with a young girl.
“Best this stranger and your daughter know.” Vivienne sneered.
“C’mon.” Hadvar pulled Polemistis arm. “Let’s find General Tullius.” They took a ramp on the west side of the city, just past the shops and market. Past the blacksmith, under an archway, they found the Caslte Dour at the left. When they entered, they could hear General Tullius’s voice questioning a woman. In the room past the entryway, they could see the general hovered a map of Skyrim, dotted with blue and red flags. The woman was across from him, dressed in Legate armor, her helmet next to her on the table.
“He’d be insane to try. He doesn’t have the men.” General Tullius said.
“That’s not what my scouts report, sir.” The woman, whose voice was very brawny, replied with surprise, “Every day, more join his cause. Riften, Dawnstar, and Winterhold support him.”
“It’s not a cause.” Tullius corrected, “It’s a rebellion.”
“Call it whatever you like, General. The man’s going to–” They turned to see Hadvar and Polemistis in the doorway.
“Are my men now giving free reign to anyone who wanders into the castle?” General Tullius’s tone was forceful. “Do you have some reason to be here, citizen?” He collected himself, standing upright to assert his authority.
“Yes, I believe we’ve met.” Polemistis was sure to not hide her fury. “Are you commanding an army of soldiers or jesters now, General?”
“Do I know you?” Tullius angrily replied to her insult.
“You should. I’m Legate Wolfguard.” She furrowed her brow. How could he not keep up with his soldiers? “Your men mistook me for a Stormcloak spy.”
“I do apologize for the mistake then.” General Tullius said with little sympathy, and returned to his map. “Is there anything else you need…Legate?” He asked with doubt.
Polemistis’s fury burned hotter, “Yes! There is. That dragon that attacked Helgen is headed north.”
“Yes, I know this. Is there anything else?”
“I’d like to claim my things confiscated by your…soldiers.” She returned the doubt.
Tullius looked in her direction, “I can’t hand over your items without your credentials.”
“My credentials were with my things.”
“You’ll need to see Captain Atheneus.” The name sent a shock up Polemistis spine. Captain Atheneus was in Solitude? Which means he survived the raid and hopefully came here to inform General Tullius of their failure. “I have a war to win. I don’t have time for these trivial problems.” Tullius waved her out. He looked to Hadvar, “Hadvar. Glad to see you have returned, sir. You’ll be taking your orders from Legate Rikke once again.”
“Yessir.” Hadvar looked back to Polemistis. “I guess this is until we meet again.” He smiled, offering her a handshake, which Polemistis gripped tightly in her smaller hand.
“I’m sure we’ll meet again before long. Thank you for your company.” Hadvar nodded and Poelmitis exited the Castle Dour to locate Captain Atheneus. She found him in the training grounds just north of the dour. She recognized him immediately; he had aged somewhat, but his hair was still a dark brown, almost black. He had his thick beard with a few strands of grey poking out.
“That’s it, men. Eyes on the enemy. Cancel out the surrounding distractions. Focus on your targets.” He stood, broad shouldered with his bulging arms crossed across his chest, turning his head from left to right as he observed his soldiers training. Polemistis’s heart began to race.
“Atheneus…” Polemistis could hardly believe it was him. She had been gone for far too long. He didn’t hear her, so she called out to him; she could feel her emotions rising, a knot in her throat, “Atheneus!”
He turned around, his large brown eyes piercing her soul, “Polemistis?! Is…it…no, it can’t be!”
“It is!” She pulled her lips back to reveal a pearly white smile, sprinting towards him, and leaping up, wrapping her legs around his waist, and throwing her arms around his neck. He lifted her off the ground, spinning as he hugged her.
“I can’t believe it’s you! Praise Stendarr, you’ve returned though!” She could see tears filling his eyes. “Praise Stendarr!” He pressed her face into his shoulder. “I feel as if I’m holding a ghost…”
“I do too.” she mumbled into his shoulder pad. “I’ve missed you so.”
“How? No, when?! I have endless questions!” He grinned back, setting her feet back on the ground.
“I have endless answers!” Polemistis still gripped his hands. Her best friend looked much older than she originally noticed. She couldn’t remember his age when she escaped, but it didn’t matter. She had been reunited with her former lover. She had all but forgotten his face when she fled to Bruma, and as she squeezed his large, scarred hands, her heart pounded (she thought) loudly beneath her armor.
“Polemistis…you have no…idea…” Atheneus grabbed her face and in a instance, pulled her to him, and kissed her passionately, yet gently on the lips. She grabbed the back of his head, feeling his hair between her fingers. “how much I’ve missed you.” he finished.
“Thank Mara…” She said when he pulled away, “I thought you’d found a new lover.”
Atheneus chuckled, “Look, I still have to train for another hour, but I could meet you at the Winking Skeever and you can answer all of my questions.”
“Of course! I have some trading to do anyways.”
* * *
An hour later, Polemistis entered the Winking Skeever and found Atheneus at the right, sipping a pint of mead near the furnace. She joined him as he pushed a tankard towards Polemitis, “Here. This one is on me.” He took another swig, “Now tell me. What happened at Northwatch Keep?”
“I suspect our scouts were Thalmor spies.” Polemistis gripped the handle of her mug, “Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to go hunting Altmer.”
Atheneus pursed his lips, “I suppose not, but you’re thinking in hindsight now that you’ve escaped. Remember, we had wiped out many of them before Northwatch.”
Polemistis and Atheneus were secretly driving the Thalmor out of Skyrim; only a handful of Legionnaires had joined them in the quest, as strongly as they agreed that Skyrim was better united with the Empire, the Thalmor had laid waste to many towns and families in the short time they had inforced the White-Gold Concordat.
“Well, now we have a mess to clean up.” Polemistis said, taking a drink of her mead. “The place is overrun with Thalmor, much more than we suspected. We’ll need many reinforcements if we’re going to save our prisoners–”
“Or, we could just tell General Tullius of our failure.” Atheneus said.
“No!” Polemistis barked in a hushed voice. “We can’t do that. We’ll be expelled from the Legion.”
“Then how? How are we going to gather men?” Atheneus wished she’d drop the idea altogether.
“I’ll just tell him…” Polemistis thought for a minute.
“Well?” Atheneus raised his eyebrows.
“We’ll tell him it was Stormcloaks.” Polemistis suggested.
“Legate Rikke knows every Stormcloak base in Skyrim. I don’t think it’ll work.” Atheneus shook his head, taking another swig, sure his answer would change Polemistis mind. He desperately wanted to avoid her returning to the fort.
“Not if we can get our hands on the next set of documents that list Stormcloak movements.”
Atheneus snorted his alcohol, “Are you suggesting forging Legion documents?”
Polemistis shrugged, “I made a promise.”
“A promise?!” Atheneus slammed his fist on the table. He looked across the table at his love, her face was unmoving; he knew she was adamant about this. He sighed, “Who did you make a promise to?”
“Thorald Gray-Mane.” Polemistis said.
“Gray-Mane…” Atheneus furrowed his brow, “Gray-Mane…where do I know that name?”
“He lives in Whiterun.” Polemistis added.
“Wait…that Stormcloak supporter?!”
“Yes, I suppose.” Polemistis ran her finger around the lip of the mug. “To me, it doesn’t matter when it comes to the Thalmor. You could be a stinking troll, but if you’re being held captive by the Thalmor, I’ll be there to save you.”
“Polemistis…” Atheneus shook his head, “Do you realize what you’re saying? Are you willing to risk your life for someone who isn’t even on the same side as you?”
“If someone is against the Thalmor, they’re on the same side as me.” Polemistis said.
Atheneus leaned back in his seat, covering his face with his hands, and then running them through his hair, letting out an aggravated groan. “Fine!” He couldn’t argue with her; she had made up her mind, after all.
Polemistis sat straight up, grinning with just her lips, “Good! First things first though, I need my belongings confiscated in Helgen.”
“Yes, of course. Come with me.” Atheneus and Polemistis stood up from their seats and grabbing each other’s hand.
* * *
Atheneus handed all of the belongings the soldiers had confiscated. After exiting the jail, Atheneus turned to Polemistis and after helping her fasten the straps of her armor in the back, asked, “So now what will you do?”
“I guess go back to General Tullius and see what my next step is. I’m hoping,” she fastened her enchanted dagger around her waist, “he won’t deploy me.” She missed having the small gift from Lerus, an elven dagger, with an inscription in Daedric lettering spelling her name. It glowed with red veins running along the blade and gave her enemies a nasty burn when stabbed.
Atheneus nodded, desperately trying to hide his disappointment, wanting to be supportive of her journey.
“Atheneus, it’s okay to be fearful or want me to stay.” She touched his arm gently and smiled, which he returned.
“Then I don’t want you to go.” Atheneus had forgotten how forgiving Polemistis could be; she was gone for far too long.
“I know, but I have to pay for my food one way or another.”
“Return swiftly, love.” He kissed her cheek and sent her on her way.
Polemistis watched him return the to barracks and then returned to the Castle Dour. She longed to ask General Tullius to deploy Atheneus with her, but she knew what his answer would be, “I need men here to protect Jarl Elisif.” She rolled her eyes at this thought, What’s one man?
“You’ve returned.” Tullius’s voice echoed. He was sitting at a small round table with Rikke, cutting a cooked slab of venison.
“Here are my credentials.” She handed him, though, she didn’t need them now, she just wanted to prove him wrong.
“You can go collect your things then.” He dismissed.
“Do I have any new orders?”
He looked to Rikke, “You’ll be taking your orders from Legate Rikke. She’s my second in command.”
“Nice to meet you, fellow Legate.” Rikke stood up and approached the larger table with the map, and pulled out an envelope from underneath a black book with a dragon emblem on the cover.
“Here. These are your new orders. We have a lead on the location of the Jagged Crown and we want you to lead the men into Korvanjund to retrieve it.”
Polemistis glanced over the instructions, realizing that General Tullius had these already made up for her, meaning he knew who she was, which angered her more. She huffed, and folded up the letter.
“Something wrong, Legate?” Rikke’s tone sounded scolding.
“Not at all. I’ll head there, sir.” Polemistis saluted.
“You have your orders then.”