by AJ Marks
“Talos worshipping is not negotiable,” Valis said, standing up at the table and glaring at the others.
Zoe waited a few seconds to see how the others would react.
“And I said its all but impossible to enforce without losing our ability to lead. Its one of the problems which led to the Stormcloak uprising,” Tullius replied to him.
She could see that Valis was being as stubborn as ever with this point. He wanted absolute verification that no Talos worshipping was happening anywhere in Skyrim. She slightly smirked knowing that she had a couple of shrines of Talos at the Suite. Surprisingly it was Elewen who spoke up next placing a hand on Valis’ arm to silence him.
“The general is correct, we must tread lightly,” she said to him. He looked ready to say more when she merely glared at him for a moment. He seemed to stop looking at her before finally sitting back down, anger written all over his face as Elewen continued. “I’m sorry, perhaps you can try to prevent any further Talos worshipping?”
“We can try, but like Skoma, its hard to eliminate,” Elisf stated.
“As long as you are trying,” Elewen stated forestalling any further outburst by Valis.
Zoe waited quietly as they discussed it some more while she went back to the conversation last night. Should she tell Valis? Part of her wanted nothing more than to just ignore him and hoped he got what was coming to him. Still, a part of her knew the right thing would be to remind him at least. If he didn’t take the warning then it wasn’t her fault.
They called a recess and people went out for a drink or just t stretch. Zoe looked around spotting where Valis went and went after him. Much to her dismay he saw her approach.
“So, reconsidering?” he asked. “I have lots of power.”
“And I’m a Thane in most cities up here, head of the Companions and Archmage of the College of Winterhold, you have nothing to offer me, but I might to you,” Zoe said back to him.
“I doubt that,” he stated, trying to hold an air of superiority over her.
“Do you recall the day I left? The day you rigged that fight,” Zoe said deciding to tell him, maybe.
“You have no proof,” he replied back smugly but the fact he still could remember meant he had some part in it. “Holding a grudge still?”
“Hardly, you can deny it, but we both know the truth,” Zoe said, inwardly smirking because she knew the truth. “But that’s beside the point.”
“Oh, I thought that would be the central issue for you,” he replied. “You had a lot of bad luck that day.”
“No, I had some good luck that day,” Zoe replied watching as he appeared shocked. “I received a letter to come up here and met a seer.”
His blank face meant he had forgotten it, not that I surprised her.
“A seer, what nonsense.”
“No, she mentioned that the World Eater had returned, meaning Alduin who I defeated and that I had powers in me. She meant I was Dragonborn,” Zoe said to him.
Valis peshawed the statement showing how little he valued what had been said that day.
“She also mentioned a vision to you, don’t come to Skyrim or you will die,” Zoe said.
“What, are you going to kill me?” Valis said.
“No, but I thought you deserved a reminder, guess I shouldn’t have bothered,” Zoe said, knowing it didn’t matter what she said to him he would dismiss it. His large ego wouldn’t allow anything else.
“Concerned about my health?” Valis asked.
“Don’t flatter yourself, I’ve got a lover who is much better looking,” Zoe replied back to him watching as he seemed to consider that. “And if you lay a finger on her, there is no where you can hide that I won’t find you.”
“You forget my position,” Valis said smugly.
“And I wouldn’t care,” Zoe replied back, looking him right in the eyes watching as he stepped back. “You’re dealing with someone you don’t know or understand anymore. I’m not the weak, easily bullied girl you knew. I’ve fought dragons on this plane of existence and beyond, battles you could only imagine, battles for the bards and won. What makes me think you’re any better? I’ve slashed though small armies on my own and only grown more powerful. I’d be careful.”
“Is that a threat?” Valis asked his smug expression.
“No, merely a warning, take it for what you wish, not that you’ve ever cared what anyone else has to say, especially if they are not a Thalmor,” Zoe replied back to him, then turned and walked away from him. She gave her warning and if he chose to ignore it that was his problem not hers.
Moving over to grab a drink she drank half of it in one swig before noticing Elewen heading her direction. Zoe wondered what she wanted.
“Seems like you and Valis have quite a lot to talk about,” Elewen stated.
“Old history from before I came to Skyrim, but he hasn’t change a bit,” Zoe replied, trying to be diplomatic.
“He does hold quite a bit of power now, a rising star within the Thalmor,” she said, but something about the way she said it indicated she had some reservations about him.
“Then he was a fool to come up here,” Zoe said. “If the seer was correct, he will die up here.”
That got her attention real fast.
“Yeah, a seer who told me the World Eater had returned, and that I had a great power within me,” Zoe replied to her.
“That’s my thought, but she also said that if Valis goes to Skyrim he’ll die,” Zoe said.
The look Elewen gave her wasn’t what she expected, almost as if she was thinking of something herself.
“Still, it looked intense,” Elewen said.
“He’s made threats against me, and done things which I won’t tolerate anymore, Thalmor or not,” Zoe replied back calmly watching Elewen’s reactions. “He has some sort of obsession for me as well.”
“I see, all I’ve ever seen is his thirst for power,” Elewen stated but peering at Zoe a bit more. “Are you sure we haven’t met?”
“Perhaps in passing, I’ve been all over,” Zoe replied, not saying they actually met when she snuck into the Thalmor embassy.
“Well, perhaps, and you are well known,” Elewen stated, “and you were against the Stormcloak rebellion.”
“Yes, but still, despite my, dislike, of Valis having him die while part of these meetings would look bad on us all,” Zoe said to her.
“You’re right, I shall take this seriously,” Elewen said. “Thank you for being honest, Nords need more like you in power.”
“I doubt that, thanks to Valis I dislike the Thalmor,” Zoe replied honestly causing Elewen to chuckle.
“Then things haven’t changed at all,” she said before walking away leaving Zoe wondering what she meant.
“Any problems?” Jordis asked, coming up to her.
“Did you warn him?”
“Yeah, but like the arrogant ass he is, ignored it,” Zoe replied back to her. “Come on, let’s get back before they miss us.”
Zoe felt more relaxed, things had been completed and now she could think about heading back in the morning. She had gone around making sure there was nothing else which she was needed for. Everything seemed to be back to normal. Sitting she heard a knock on the door and frowned but headed out to answer.
“Yes?” she asked, seeing two men dressed in leather armor and a third in fine clothes.
“Looking for someone, perhaps you’ve seen or heard of him. They say he’s staying here, name’s Brandis,” the man finely dressed said.
“He is, and you are?” Zoe asked, feeling herself gear up for a fight.
“None of your business,” the man replied.
“As my business partner, I’d say there is,” Zoe said, her patience running thin.
“He owes us money, borrowed too heavily, and we’re here to collect,” the man said with a slight smile, as the other two shifted trying to appear menacing to her. She looked at the two men, then the leader even as Brandis and the others appeared behind her.
“I paid you off Aaron,” Brandis said.
“That was just the initial fee,” the man in fine clothes, who Zoe assumed was Arron, said.
“No, you said it was paid in full,” Jordis said speaking up. “That he didn’t owe anymore.”
“I forgot about his other, expenses,” Aaron said as if searching for a word.
“Sounds like extortion to me,” Zoe said. “I don’t like that.”
“Oh, and what will you do, I’d be careful of pissing me off lady, I know people in high places,” Aaron said, giving his threat.
“And I am in positions of power, and I’m not a pushover either,” Zoe replied waiting for them to make a move, not surprised when they did.
Shaking her head she was already prepared for such a move. The two thugs were already drawing their weapons
Zun Haal Viik
Her shout quickly disarmed the men as they seemed to stagger slightly at what happened even as the others behind her were gearing up.
“You’re outclassed here,” Zoe said to them, walking up to the man. “I have no problem disposing of a few more thugs and lowlifes, and I don’t need a weapon to dispose of you. I know enough shouts to render you harmless to me.”
The leader seemed to hesitate.
“I trust my Housecarl more than you and she says Brandis paid you off. My word will count a lot more in court than yours,” Zoe stated. “Now, you’re starting to piss me off.”
The leader and two thugs backed down and started to leave.
“I won’t forget this,” the leader said.
“And next time I might not be in such a good mood,” Zoe replied back to him before heading back inside the house and closing the door.
“Jerk,” Jordis said, heading back to the table and sitting down.
“Not surprised, his types continue to extort who they consider weak,” Zoe said. “If they try again they either have a serious backer, or are stupid.”
“I’d vote for the latter,” Leah said.
“Or they saw three woman,” Zoe said watching Leah shake her head at that.
“They’d be eaten alive at the Suite,” she said. Zoe knew the truth as despite all the workers, aside from OMB, were women they were all very capable warriors and sorcerers.
“Well, hopefully they don’t make that mistake, but then again they could be that dumb,” Zoe said, not that she had any doubt of the capabilities of anyone there. Then you also had Farquar outside most days, a very capable warrior who took his duties to seriously.
“I’d feel sorry for them, I doubt Wyla would be so gentle,” Leah said talking about the blonde Nord at the suite. Her long blonde hair and blue eyes seemed to give off an innocence, until you angered her. Then the fact she was a fully capable warrior came out.
Zoe shook the image from her mind as she sat down.
“You know how to handle yourselves in a fight,” Brandis said to them.
“Lots of practice,” Zoe replied. “Of course shouts help as well.”
“Yeah, never seen anything like that before,” Brandis said.
“Its not a common thing, either takes a lot of work to learn, or like me, its in your blood,” Zoe said, though she never quite understood it all either as they sat back down at the table.
“Think they’ll stop?” Leah asked.
“Hard to tell,” Zoe replied honestly. “Seen both types, though I’m not really afraid of the Suite from them. A larger backer might be a problem, but I doubt they’ll want to tangle too much with us.”
She watched Leah nod her head in agreement. She wondered what tomorrow might bring.
End part 12