Djarfskald couldn't figure out how she was talked into such a predicament. 'No,' she thought, 'I know exactly how this happened. Damn Delphine and my incessant need to help people.' A slight frown tugged at her lips as she stood nervously by the bar in the Thalmor Embassy. She was uneasy to say the least, not only being surrounded by the enemy but by the clothes she wore. Delphine had wonderful taste but what she wouldn't give to be in her armor.
"Try not to look so nervous," Malborn, the Bosmer behind the bar, said softly. Djarfskald noted that he should do the same; he was supposed to help her. Malborn gave a curt nod. "I could make you a drink if that will calm you. We have some nice mead from-"
"I'd rather not," Djarfskald hissed. Pushing herself off the bar and holding her head high she decided to mingle. That would be the only way for her figure out how to cause a distraction. With her mind going to work and eyes scanning the crowd it took Djarfskald to notice the familiar face. She whipped around, hurrying back to the bar the moment those amber eyes glistened with recognition. "I think I'll take that drink, NOW."
Malborn's eyes grew wide as he looked past Djarfskald, no doubt seeing the person she had made eye contact with. "R-right away."
In the back of her mind Djarfskald cursed the Bosmer for not moving faster. She didn't know what to do. Walk away and avoid the man? Act like they never met? The tankard was finally placed before and the moment Djarfskald touched it she felt a hand fall on her shoulder.
"It's been some time since we've seen each other, Thane."
Before she turned around Djarfskald took a long swig of the mead. Leaning against the bar she looked up at those amber eyes and smiled. "Ondolemar, what a pleasant surprise. And, please, the title is no longer needed."
Ondolemar snorted, "Why is that?"
"What, with the Stormcloaks overrunning Markarth and all," Djarfskald chuckled, praying that the Altmer was buying her story.
"My apologies but I was under the impression that you were a sympathizer."
"Looks can be deceiving," she replied with a wink. The gesture seemed to stun Ondolemar, breaking through the man's poise. Djarfskald smiled into her drink as she watched him take a sip of his own. "Though I should be the one apologizing. Most gatherings I've attended have been thrown by my countrymen, so it's a little more boisterous than this."
Ondolemar gave the barest hint of a smile, "Of that I have little doubt."
Djarfskald froze as Ondolemar reached towards her. His fingers went straight for the chain around her neck. Steeling herself, she looked at the elf and let a slow smile crawl across her lips as he pulled the amulet free. There was a slight change in Ondolemar's complexion and all Djarfskald could figure was that the man was blushing.
"Wasn't what you were expecting?"
"I suppose not," Ondolemar replied, his gloved hand still holding the Amulet of Dibella. "Am I to assume-"
Holding a finger to her lips Djarfskald moved away just enough to pull the amulet out of Ondolemar's hand. "That's a secret."
Ondolemar's eyebrows twitched slightly as he took another drink from his cup, "Your people never cease to amaze me."
"Tell me," Djarfskald said in a low voice, "what can one do for fun at a party like this? No offense to anyone, but this place seems a little stuffy."
"I'm not too sure I follow."
"Drinking is all fun and good, but if I wanted to sit around and chat I would have found an inn and done so."
Glancing over his shoulder Ondolemar gave the shadow of a smile as he drank the last of his drink. "Perhaps I can find something to entertain you."
Djarfskald watched the elf put his cup down and wander into the group of people. He singled out a man, obviously drunk, and began to make outrageous accusations. She frowned at the sight. If it wasn't for her mission she would have put a dagger through the elf's back in an instant.
That hissed word brought Djarfskald's thoughts back to the present. Downing the last of her mead, she dashed behind the counter and followed Malborn through a door. The two hurried through the building's kitchen without as much of a glance at the cook nor her annoyed cries. He took Djarfskald by the hand, something that caused a jolt of fear to strike her, and lead her through one last door.
The Bosmer closed the door behind them, pushing past Djarfskald as he reached for a chest. Throwing it open he began to pull out the equipment that she had given him days earlier. "I was beginning to get worried about hiding these things here, but they're safe," Malborn muttered.
"Thank you!" Djarfskald didn't think twice about pulling off her clothes, hastily working at her shoes and the ties of her dress. Malborn flushed slightly and turned around, clearing his throat nervously. "Sorry," she mused, "but I can't really wait for a private room, can I?"
"A warning would have been nice."
Djarfskald knew the buckles and belts of the Brotherhood's leathers like they were part of her. It took little time for her to slip everything on, adjusting them just so that they would fit snuggly against her. Slipping the hood over her hair Djarfskald let out a sigh, speaking before pulling up her cowl, "Now how am I to get out of here?"
Malborn turned around and froze for a moment with eyes wide, "You're-"
"Hush," Djarfskald hissed, voice muffled through the fabric. "There is no time to wonder what I am or what I am not. The longer you drag this on the more likely you'll get caught!"
"R-right," Malborn stammered. He brushed past her and opened an adjoining door. "Through here. You should be able to find your way about."
Djarfskald stood in the doorway for a moment and looked at Malborn, smiling beneath her cowl, "Calm your nerves. Everything will be fine. "
'Direct contact remains a possibility. . .'
Those words echoed in Djarfskald's mind as her fingers trailed over them. She shook her head, rereading the dossier for the fifth time. Djarfskald was hunched in a darkened corner somewhere on the property of the embassy. Time had become lost when she stumbled across Ulfric's name scrawled across the file and curiosity won out.
'. . . was assigned as an asset to the interrogator, who is now First Emissary Elenwen.'
"You son of a bitch," Djarfskald murmured, shutting her eyes against her own growing anger. With a shuddering breath she opened her satchel and shoved the dossier into the deepest recesses it held. "We will have words," she hissed, wiping away the forming tears with the back of her hand. It wasn't until that moment that Djarfskald realized the sound of the two chatting Altmer had long disappeared. In their places was low, pained sobs followed by the sound of jostling metal.
Djarfskald followed the sound, creeping down a flight of stairs and clinging to as much of the shadows as she could. A room filled with barred cells opened before the Nord, all but one closed. Her heart raced as she crept towards the sobs. There was no place to hide, no shadow for cover. Luckily, though, those sobs were the only sounds echoing through the room.
A man sat, chained to the wall with arms pulled over his head. He had been beaten, multiple times no doubt, and his body was colored with an array of bruises and wounds. His body shook with his soft sobs as he pulled at the manacles binding him with great force. Raising his face to cry out he noticed Djarfskald before him and he froze. His tear stained face contorted into a new look of fear.
"The Thalmor are in league with the Dark Brotherhood?" The man's voice was raspy and his teeth were stained with blood. He pushed himself into the wall looking away with a sad resignation. "So it's come to this. . ."
Djarfskald felt her heart ache at the sight and quickly produced the tools she needed to free the man. "I'm not here to kill you," she whispered, standing over him, "and I'm certainly not working for those damned elves." His eyes snapped up as he felt Djarfskald working on his binds. In a matter of seconds his arms feel free and the sensation brought on a new sense of pain. "We need to get out of here, now."
The man rubbed his arms, trying to regain feeling in them as he slowly stood, "Thank you. . ."
"You may call me Snow-Hammer. You?"
"Etienne." There was recognition in his eyes when he had heard Djarfskald's title. "I've heard of you. You're a Stormcloak. . ."
"As much as I'd to chat, Etienne, we need to move. This whole mission of mine is a damned failure."
"You weren't sent to free me?"
"How long have you been here?"
Etienne shrugged, "I'm not too sure anymore. The Thalmor tortured me whenever they had a moment."
"Why were you here?"
"They wanted information on a man and thought I knew him."
"Stick beside me and tell me what those bastards were trying to find out."