by AJ Marks
Zoe stretched as the meeting was finally adjourned. The Thalmor wanted to head back to their embassy for the night. She stood and made her way to the small balcony which overlooked the entrance to the palace and felt someone else approach.
Turning she found herself looking at the one person she didn’t want to see at the moment, Valis.
“I said it before, that armor doesn’t look good on you,” Valis said.
“That’s your opinion, which is wrong” Zoe replied back taking a look at the elf. He obviously was doing well for himself by the look of his clothes. He had moved up if he was the ambassador for the Thalmor in this discussion. He also was as arrogant as ever, thinking he was always right and could never be wrong.
“You know, you could have had wealth and power with me,” he said to her. She still couldn’t figure out what his obsession with her way.
“Why, I have that now, and without you,” Zoe replied back to him watching as he seemed to falter a bit.
“Is this power to you, I can command legions of soldiers at a whim,” he said to her.
“And yet you’re still the same ego filled jerk,” Zoe replied back to him, watching as he flinched at the word. “Yes, I always thought of you that way. Now, I have the confidence in my abilities to tell you that. And I know you’re power isn’t what you claim it is.”
“I’ve destroyed humans for saying less,” Valis growled. “I’d be careful, you are not invincible, even if you are the Dragonborn.”
“You realize the statement also applies to you as well, even with all your contacts and positions within the Thalmor, you are venerable.”
She watched as he almost shook from rage.
“Are you threatening me?” he asked.
“Only if you were threatening me,” Zoe replied back calmly, waiting to see what he’d do next. If he did anything physical she had no doubt she could handle him.
Instead of doing anything he fumed slightly and stormed off, quickly speaking to someone else as they walked out of the palace. Zoe flexed her hand trying to relax from the effort of not backhanding him.
“Well, that went about as well as I expected,” Falk said, as he walked over to where she stood. “I know the Jarl appreciated your being here.”
“I’m honored she thought my presence would help so much,” Zoe replied. “Though, I want to just toss them all out more than anything else.”
“You and everyone else,” Rikke said walking up to join them. “Though, I really get the feeling you and that Valis know each other.”
“We do,” Zoe said. “From before I came here.”
“He does seem unpleasant,” Falk said.
“Big ego, thinks everyone is there for his pleasure,” Zoe replied back to him. “All he knows is his position of power, thinks he’s the most important person around but doesn’t like to get dirty himself.”
“Ah, the type which would be eaten alive up here,” Falk said.
“Yeah,” Zoe said, watching as Jordis walked over. “Ready to head back?”
“Whenever you are my thane,” she replied.
They left the palace heading to her house.
“So, you know him before coming here?” Jordis asked.
“Valis, yeah,” Zoe replied back to her. “We had the displeasure of knowing each other.”
“Oh, something from the Dragonborn’s past?” Jordis asked.
“Something like that,” Zoe replied, as they reached the house and entered. She quickly found Leah working in the kitchen with Brandis.
Leah gave her a hug as Zoe looked on to see what they were making.
“Brandis is teaching me a new recipe for the Suite,” Leah said.
“That’ll be good,” Zoe said.
“Go get changed, and we can talk,” Leah said, shooing her out of the kitchen and upstairs. Zoe obliged and headed up to change.
Zoe listened as Jordis and Leah talked politics about the situation. They were a bit better at such things than she was. Perhaps Leah should be there instead of Zoe?
“So, what’s up between you and that Thalmor, Valis?” Jordis asked.
“Yeah, you don’t talk much of your past,” Leah replied.
Zoe looked at them both before sighing, a part of her hoped they would have forgotten but no such luck.
“Well, he has some sort of obsession with me,” Zoe finally said. “I’m not sure what it is, but he tried for years to make me his personal slave.”
“A Thalmor interested in a human?” Jordis replied.
“Not really their style,” Brandis said.
“Yeah, well, he tried for years, from the moment I arrived in the Imperial City,” Zoe said, having never understood his obsession of her.
“Well, he can’t have you,” Leah said, “you’re already mine.”
That caused Zoe to smile a bit. Her journey north had brought her a lot of things, including a lover.
“Well, it all blew up on my last day there,” Zoe recalled. “I lost almost all my coin betting on a fight, which I lost. Rumor was someone set it up as the champion didn’t fight like he normally did. A lot of people complained. Now that I think about it Valis seemed to know about what was going on, he bet against the champion.”
“What happened next?” Leah asked.
“Ironically it was while leaving that I was handed the note about the Suite, at the time I thought it was some trick so I ignored it,” Zoe said, then pausing as she thought about that day. “I also ran into a seer, she mentioned that the World Eater had returned. Seemed like some strange woman at the time.”
“Sounds like something else happened as well,” Jordis asked.
“Yeah, I went back to my shack, only to have a couple of thugs appear and burn it down. While they were talking they mentioned they were doing it for someone else, that someone else was probably Valis,” Zoe said. “Its strange, now, I’d have just confronted them.”
“And won,” Jordis said.
“No doubt,” Leah agreed.
“I wasn’t much of a fighter back then, had to learn quickly after arriving here,” Zoe said recalling that the first person she ever killed was a Stormcloak soldier in Helgan.
“They burned down your shack? What about the authorities?” Brandis asked
“Well, they were ruled over by the Thalmor, and Valis was one of them, not much they would have done,” Zoe replied. “I got mad, and headed out and ended up at a bar, spent my last coin there. While there a couple of others entered who had also bet on the fight earlier in the day. Drunk they started talking all types of things, what they would do and such.”
“Ah, drink which makes one seem bolder than one is,” Jordis said.
“Yeah, well, filled with this I went and confronted Valis,” Zoe said. “Actually attacked him, which wasn’t the smartest thing.”
“He arrested you,” Brandis said, a logical conclusion for what happened.
“Nope, I managed to break free and got into the Underground,” Zoe replied.
“Underground?” Jordis asked.
“The Imperial City has a large underground network,” Leah said.
“Yes, but the law doesn’t go down there, too dangerous, and the Thalmor ignore it, its beneath them to have any dealings with those down there,” Zoe replied. “It was the only place I was safe.”
“How long did you stay there?” Leah asked.
“About a day, while I was sitting there, in the dimly lit areas trying not to be noticed I came across the note again,” Zoe said. “I realized scam or not it really was the only option left to me. So I stole a knife from a passed out person nearby, under the cover of darkness snuck out and headed towards Skyrim.”
“And the rest, as they say, is history,” Leah said with a smile. “I can still recall you’re first visit. You were gorgeous and I wanted to make sure you came back.”
“Didn’t know I’d be the owner yet,” Zoe replied, giving her a grin.
“Nope, but glad you are,” Leah replied, as Zoe recalled how Leah mentioned she wasn’t who they expected as the new owner.
“So Valis had your home burned down?” Jordis asked.
“That’s what I figure, guess he thought if I had no place to go I come to him,” Zoe said giving it some thought. “He even mentioned that I could have had wealth and power if I had come to him instead of coming up here.”
That statement made both Leah and Jordis laugh a bit. However, Brandis looked a bit confused.
“I’m Thane in most of the major cities, the Dragonborn, head of the Companions, and Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold, just to name a few titles I’ve picked up on my journey,” Zoe told him explaining the laugh that they had.
“Not to mention the number of people she’s helped out,” Leah said. “Probably can’t go anywhere in Skyrim without hearing some story about the Dragonborn.”
“Oh, so, what could he offer?” Brandis asked causing Zoe to chuckle.
“That’s just it, he doesn’t think anyone outside the Thalmor is worth anything. He thinks it means everything, the ultimate power in his mind, the superior group,” Zoe said to him.
“But, aren’t the Thalmor the stronger side?” he asked.
“Its relative,” Jordis replied.
“They are strong, they did defeat the Empire, but they exhausted themselves against the Redguards, and coming up here isn’t close to their power base. It would only further weaken them,” Zoe explained. “They rule only due to a treaty.”
“And their rule isn’t popular,” Leah said.
“True, everywhere I’ve been people are unhappy with what they’ve done,” Brandis replied.
“It’s only a matter of time before a rebellion occurs in Cyrodiil, but whoever does that, it won’t be me,” Zoe said to them. “I have no interest in leading an army, fighting dragons was enough for me.”
“So, you really met a seer?” Leah asked, after a few minutes of silence of everything thinking about what they had heard.
“What, oh, yeah, said something which I didn’t understand at that time,” Zoe said. “Somehow she knew of my ability, that I was Dragonborn. She said I had great power within me.”
She gave that moment a bit of thought, then realized something else.
“She also gave another prediction,” Zoe said.
“Yeah, what?” Leah asked.
“That if Valis went to Skyrim, he’d die,” Zoe said to them, recalling that Valis had shrugged the Seer off as crazy.
“Well, he’s here,” Jordis said. “Perhaps someone should remind him.”
“He might go running back to where he came from,” Brandis stated.
“He might, but he wasn’t impressed with the seer, and dismissed her as crazy,” Zoe said, recalling it. Was there anything else, something she had missed? No, all she recalled was that part, if she said anything else it was before or after she was with them.
“Still, we might want to be careful, we don’t want him dying while in talks with the Jarl,” Jordis said.
Zoe had to agree, as much as she disliked the elf having him die at the palace wouldn’t help relations.
“Should you tell the others?” Leah asked.
“They might dismiss a seer’s prophesy,” Jordis replied.
“But what she said to me ended up to be true,” Zoe said, Alduin had returned and she did have a power hidden within. Had she been guessing, or were her predictions usually accurate. She had no idea who the seer had been.
They looked at each other before Zoe finally spoke up again.
“Who would’ve thought, I’d be giving a warning to an elf I hate.”
“Only shows how much better you are than he is,” Leah stated.
“Sounds like he only thinks of himself,” Brandis said.
“He was sure full of himself in the meeting,” Jordis said.
Zoe had to agree, he seemed to think he was the only one worth talking, an insult to just about everyone else. In that nothing had changed at all with him. He had been that way for as long as she had known him. What concerned her was the fact he had yet to move on from her for some reason.
Now she only hoped he wouldn’t do something stupid. Then again, perhaps he would and she could finally be rid of him once and for all. Then there was the problem with the fact he was now a high ranking Thalmor. She had to be careful when doing anything with him, not because of his abilities, but his position. He wasn’t untouchable, she just had to be careful.
End part 11