by AJ Marks
Zoe and Leah headed away from Solitude, on the way back to the Suite and home. The past couple of days had been interesting to say the least. The Thalmor were typical, always trying to impose their views on everyone else due to some superior moral values on everyone else.
She felt glad to be leaving all this politics behind her, especially Valis. If she never saw him again it would be too soon. However part of her knew she hadn’t seen the last of him. He didn’t seem able to let go of something.
“You didn’t hurt anyone, I’m impressed,” Leah said.
“I’ve got restraint if I need it,” Zoe replied back to her.
“Yeah, glad I wasn’t there,” Leah said, having spent the time back at the house learning some new recipes she hoped to introduce to the Suite.
“Well, those thugs did allow me to blow off some steam,” Zoe said, recalling the night where they had some visitors.
“Stupid thugs if you ask me,” Leah replied.
“That they were,” Zoe agreed. “They must not have known who they were facing.”
“Makes them even dumber,” she said, before stopping and looking at the trail. Standing before them was a figure who appeared waiting for her and it took Zoe a few moments to recognize who it was. “Guess they are dumber than I thought.”
“Yeah,” Zoe agreed, as they continued on stopping in front of the man. Zoe recognized the man from the leader of the thugs who were trying to get more money out of Brandis.
“Now little girl, you’re on my turf,” the man said.
“Really,” Zoe said, looking around. “Actually, I’d say you’re on mine now.”
“Oh, a cocky one,” the man stated with an air of confidence. “You think I’m alone?”
“Nope, I’d be surprised if you were,” Zoe replied, using the shout to detect life and spotting the entire group. “You’ve got two in front of and two behind.”
“That’s right, you’re surrounded,” the thug leader said, smiling at her. “You see, you don’t know who you’re messing with. I’m taking over and nothing you can do to stop me.”
Zoe looked over at Leah, who merely nodded indicating she was ready for the fight. Both were dressed in armor which the leader didn’t seem to notice, or was blind to. Either way she easily drew her swords.
“Nothing?” Zoe stated calmly, taking a step forward. She’d take care of the ones in front while Leah would deal with those behind them. “Are you sure about that? If I was you I’d be walking away.”
“That’s why you’re not me,” the leader said. “Oh, you surprised me, but I was given some information about you, you’re not that strong.”
That bit caused Zoe to wonder what he had heard and from who.
“If you heard correctly you’d know more,” Zoe said, getting bored with the conversation now as she stepped forward readying herself for the upcoming battle.
“My source knew you very well,” the man replied.
“Sounds more like he didn’t know me at all,” Zoe replied.
“Sure this isn’t insane?” Leah said, having move back.
By now the others stepped out into the open, probably hoping to intimidate her or something.
“With this we should be able to easily overwhelm you,” the man said.
“What, four men and you?” Zoe replied wondering what type of terrible information he got, or had he been purposefully misled? “If that’s all you have, then you were either lied to, or the information was false.”
“I doubt it, talk, that’s all you are,” the leader sad. “Take them!”
Zoe moved quickly, using a disarming shout which stunned the two attackers before using quick slashes at the weak part of their armor. The first man fell as he turned to the second one, quickly dispatching him before turning to see how Leah was doing. She had dispatched one and now was using fire on the second.
Zoe turned her attention back to the leader who seemed stunned at how quickly they had taken out his men.
“As you said, you’re new here,” Zoe said, now close enough to attack. “But, who gave you this ‘information’?”
She watched him falter for a second even as Leah walked up beside her.
“You got bad info, why protect him?” Zoe asked.
“He’s got power behind him, said you’d be easy to intimidate,” the thug said.
“Sounds like whoever this is doesn’t know you at all love,” Leah said.
“Or thought he did,” Zoe said, as an idea of who formed in her mind. She watched as fell back stepping. Zoe walked up to him and bent down. “Let me guess, an elf?”
“I, well, he said if I ever spoke of who I’d be a dead man,” he replied.
“Seems to me you’re already at my mercy,” Zoe said realizing who it probably was, and sounded like something he’d say.
“Better tell her, she doesn’t have much patience,” Leah said earning a look from Zoe. “It’s true.”
“Yeah, but let me guess, this elf was a Thalmor, wasn’t he,” Zoe said.
“You don’t think?” Leah asked.
“Yeah, I do,” Zoe said, “it’s just like him to have others do his work.”
She watched as the thug’s eyes darted back and forth between her and Leah, exactly where she wanted him.
“Tell me,” Zoe said, raising one sword watching him squirm.
“All right, but he never said his name, only that he was a Thalmor,” the thug said. “Said he knew you from some time ago.”
“Valis,” Zoe said.
“Don’t know, all those elves look alike to me,” the thug said. “Only said he had several plans to get to you.”
That sent chills down Zoe’s spine.
“Get out of here, and don’t let me hear of you bothering Jordis or Brandis,” Zoe said to him, sheathing her swords and watching as he scrambled to his feet. She turned to Leah as he went running off to the city.
“Problems?” Leah asked.
“Valis burned down my shack, he might make a move against the Suite,” Zoe said.
“Then we should hurry,” Leah said.
Zoe already knew of a way back quickly, but rarely used it.
“Come on, give me your hand,” Zoe said to her watching as she frowned but took her hand.
Zoe concentrated on the spell and within seconds they vanished off the road and appeared in a certain room under the Suite and standing before the Bride of Migul.
“Welcome Dovahkin,” she said.
“Hello Bride of Migul,” Zoe said to her.
“Where? This is the secret room,” Leah said. “What did you do?”
“A spell which will transport me here,” Zoe said.
“That’s how you’d suddenly appear when we weren’t expecting you back for a few more days,” Leah said.
“Yeah,” Zoe said. “Come on, we might have a problem headed our way.”
“Valis,” Leah said.
“Right, last thing I want is something happening to the Suite,” Zoe said as they headed out and made their way through the forging area and then upstairs where a few of the others looked at them strangely.
“Zoe? Leah, we weren’t expecting you back for another couple of days,” Trude said, who was working the bar.
“Ah, took a shortcut,” Zoe said making her way to a chair. “But I need to talk to you all, including Farquar and OMB.”
“Oh, did something happen while you were there?” Trude asked.
“Not what you think,” Leah said. “But we might have some problems with a Thalmor.”
“Thalmor? Those self-righteous hypocrites?” Elise said, a dark elf who worked at the Suite.
“Gather every around and I’ll explain it all,” Zoe said to them all. She watched as they gathered around for the ‘meeting’ as Farquar walked in as well.
“Sounds a bit serious,” Rayna said, more to Leah
“Eh, more to do with one person who has a problem with Zoe,” Leah said.
“Yeah, another enemy?” Rashaal asked.
Zoe waited until they were all there before saying anything.
“This Thalmor’s name is Valis,” Zoe said to them. “He has, well, an obsession for me.”
“So do many others,” Trudy said.
“His goes beyond that,” Zoe said. “When I lived in the Imperial city, I had a small shack outside the walls, not much but it was home to me. Well, one day he hatched up a plan to make me his and sent a group of thugs to burn down my house.”
“Why didn’t you fight?” Rayne asked.
“At that time, I wasn’t much of a fighter, I’d have been defeated back then,” Zoe said not able to fathom such a thing now. “I don’t have hard proof he actually did it, but it was two thugs and one Thalmor. They seemed to acting on someone else’s orders within the Thalmor, and as only Valis fit it makes logical sense.”
“So, what’s that got to do with this?” Farquar asked.
“While in Solitude I had another encounter with him, he’s here in Skyrim and knows I’m here as well,” Zoe said.
“So, you’re afraid he’ll try something against the Suite?” OMB asked from where he stood.
“Exactly,” Zoe replied. “He’s even more mentally unstable now than back when I last saw him. He’s still obsessive over me for some reason.”
“Sounds like someone needs to move on,” Elise said.
“No kidding,” Rayna said.
Zoe had to agree, it had been almost a year and he was still hung up on her for some reason. He also seemed to think whatever he had was better than what she currently had.
“In general Thalmor aren’t allowed in anyways,” Elise stated. It wasn’t a hard rule, but one which they had no problems spreading around.
Zoe knew that they would be on the look-out for any problems. This wasn’t like last time, she would defend her home and now had the skills and abilities to do that. Add in the fact everyone here would also defend the Suite along with certain clientele like the Companions.
Any attack by Valis against the Suite would have resistance.
“They do have a superiority complex,” Leah said. “And telling those lies to the thugs about us.”
Every looked at Zoe and Leah.
“Leaving we were ambushed by some thugs who were after a guy in Solitude who I helped. Valis told him some information he probably still believes and they acted on it,” Zoe said. “Wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. But Valis seems to think he still knows me so I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries something against the Suite.”
“Well, we’re busy pretty much all day long,” Trudy said.
“And he’d piss off a lot of patrons all around,” OMB said. “Since you’ve taken ownership word of the Suite has spread all across Skyrim, even have travelers from south staying here as they do business here.”
“It wouldn’t be an easy place to attack,” Leah said.
“I’ll be sure to keep an extra eye out,” Farquar said.
“Last time he did something like this he used a couple of hired thugs,” Zoe said.
“Thugs, no problem for us,” Rayna stated.
“And we’ll all keep an eye out for anyone suspicious,” Trudy said.
Zoe realized they all would fight for the Suite, it was their home as well. Something Valis probably didn’t even bother considering with whatever plan he was scheming. She only hoped that he wasn’t as stupid as she thought he was.
“If he does try something, we’ll be ready,” Leah said.
“Okay, back to work then,” Trudy said, as almost everyone stood back up and walked back to where they had been except for Leah and Elise.
“You really think this elf will try something?” Elise asked, something Zoe really had given thought to.
“He did try to have me attacked leaving Solitude,” Zoe said. “And from his past actions he’s stubborn, I’d say if I was wagering a fifty-fifty chance. The real question is if he does do something, will it be him or someone else?”
“Sounds like he’s not giving elves a good name,” Elise said.
“He is a Thalmor,” Leah replied.
“For now we wait,” Zoe said, privately hoping he didn’t do anything.
End part 13