8:00 AM, approx. 4E 201

Northern Skyrim

Thorald Gray-Mane had lost track of the days long ago.

They kept the prisoners deep underground. This place was a ruin. The stone bricks were slimy with moss. The cold would have been unbearable for anyone but a Nord.

Two tall figures in elegant armor were dragging him by the arms down a corridor. It was the same every day. His feet had become callused where the floor scraped at his heels.

The corridor ended with a door. It was already open. Thorald's stomach turned. He knew what awaited him.

The figures took him into a room, around a bend. They fixed his wrists to the wall by iron shackles, and then left. The door closed behind them. Thorald was left crouching with his arms held above him. He lifted his head.

The interrogator sat with one leg crossed on a wooden chair. His pointed, elven face was barely visible beneath his hood. The torchlight was too dim. He seemed to be smirking.

"Good morning, Stormcloak," the interrogator drawled. Thorald instantly wanted to break his bonds and wring the elf's insufferable neck. That arrogant Aldmeri voice… He tried not to let it show.

The interrogator didn't seem to notice, or perhaps care. "Don't you ever tire of lying? We already know you support the Jarl of Windhelm in his little rebellion. We simply want you to tell the truth."

Thorald's voice shook, but his words held firm. "I am Thorald Gray-Mane, and my loyalty is my o-"

Searing pain. Magical sparks snapping into his chest. He tried not to scream. His sight went hazy.

The interrogator spoke once more. Thorald imagined the elf's skin being peeled off by angry Dremora. "Why must you do this to yourself? You and I both know that eventually, no matter how long it takes, you will admit which side you have taken in the war against the Empire. Everything between now and then is simply-"

The door opened. Two men stepped into the room. One was dressed in elven armor. The other wore the steel of the Imperial Legion. It was like a kick in Thorald's mouth. He knew the Empire deferred to the Thalmor, but… Not like this. This was too much.

"What…!" The interrogator snapped with righteous indignation, before he noticed the Thalmor agent escorting the Imperial inside. "Is the meaning of this?"

The armored elf replied, "This Imperial soldier has been sent from General Tullius. It seems our guest's loyalties are even more complex than we suspected."

The soldier spoke next. His voice was strangely familiar. Thorald didn't like it. "I recognized the name of your captive. It belongs to a sleeper agent of the Empire. I've come to identify him."

The interrogator nodded curtly. He rose from his chair and dusted off his fancy black robes. Thorald couldn't imagine why. "Raise your face, prisoner. Look at your supposed contact."

The Imperial soldier was wearing a helmet. Thorald couldn't see his face through the visor, not in this light. That eerie voice asked, "This is Thorald Gray-Mane?"

The interrogator seemed to be getting used to the idea of having another non-elf in the room. "Correct. Does he match your memory?"

The Imperial's response was to draw the sword from his belt, and in the same fluid stroke, slash open the side of the interrogator's neck.

Thorald couldn't believe that that had just happened. The Thalmor soldier didn't look like he could either. He began to draw his own weapon, but the Imperial knocked it out of his hand. The elven blade flew and clattered off the wall.

The interrogator clutched at his neck. His eyes were wide, his mouth was wide. Blood was everywhere. It had even sprayed out on the Imperial's armor.

The Imperial kicked the Thalmor soldier in the belly. The elf stumbled backwards into a cupboard. Cups and bottles knocked over. The elf had just long enough to look up as the Imperial lunged and impaled him through the chest.

By the time the interrogator fell to the ground, the Imperial had already wrenched his sword free. The steel was dripping red all the way down to the hilt. It had punched through that Thalmor armor like it wasn't even there.

Thorald didn't know what to say. He stared, open-mouthed.

The Imperial pulled off his helmet with one hand and looked at Thorald. This wasn't possible. That blond hair, that rugged face…

"It's me. Idolaf Battle-Born. The war is over. I'm here to rescue you."