Samuel slid open the secret door to Delphine's basement. She was filling a quiver with arrows. "I figured out how we're going to get you into the Embassy," she said.
"You're not coming?" asked Samuel.
"That would be a bad idea. I'd be too likely to attract the wrong kind of attention. But they don't know you at all, yet."
"So what's your plan? How to I infiltrate the Embassy?"
"The Thalmor Ambassador, Elenwen, regularly throws parties where the rich and connected cozy up to the Thalmor. I can get you into one of these parties. Once you're in the Embassy, you get away and find Elenwen's secret files. I have a contact inside the Embassy. He's not up for this kind of high-risk mission, but he can help you. His name's Malborn. Wood elf, plenty of reason to hate the Thalmor. You can trust him. I'll get word to him to meet you in Solitude, at the Winking Skeever, you know it? While you're doing that, I'll work on getting you an invitation to Elenwen's little party. Meet me at the Solitude stables after you've arranged things with Malborn. Any questions?"
"See you in Solitude."
Solitude is the capital of Skyrim, and is the capital of Haafingar Hold. The Blue Palace is home to the High King. The last king, King Torygg, was killed by Ulfric Stormcloak. His widow, Elisif the Fair, is now Jarl of Haafingar.
He walked through the gates of Solitude. It certainly looked impressive. It was as large as the Imperial City in Cyrodiil, and it had that air of royalty and class.
He walked inside the Winking Skeever. Malborn, a wood elf (or the proper name Bosmer) was sitting at the small table in the corner, looking nervous.
Samuel sat down, making Malborn jump.
"My mutual friend sent me," said Samuel.
"You're who she picked? I hope she knows what she's doing. I can I only bring in something small. A sword and some potions would be about it. You can something else up inside. The Thalmor have strong armor."
Samuel unclipped his sword and scabbard and put some healing potions in a pouch. "Here."
Malborn put them in a crate with some wine. "Delphine is at the stables. Talk to her."
Samuel left the bar and jogged to the stables.
Delphine was standing by a windmill. A carriage was parked on the road near her.
"The lady's already paid the fee. We leave when she gives the word," said the driver.
Delphine was holding some expensive-looking brown robes and black boots with gold lining.
"This should make you look like rich royalty, at least until you open your mouth. Put it and get in the carriage. Lydia will have to stay with me at the inn until you're back."
Samuel ducked into the windmill and hastily put on the robes. He climbed in the back of the carriage.
"Alright Bjorlam," said Delphine. "Off you go."
The gates of the Thalmor Embassy swung open. Samuel climbed out of the carriage and walked to the main building entrance. A guard by the door held out their hand.
Samuel handed the invitation to them. He hoped Delphine's handwriting matched Elenwen's close enough to fool the guard.
"It checks out. Go on inside."
Several important people were here.
General Tullius and Legate Rikke, Jarl Balgruff and his steward Proventus Avvenici, Maven Black-Briar, Erikur, a wealthy businessman, and several others Samuel didn't recognize.
A High Elf in black robes walked up to Samuel.
"Hello, I'm Elenwen. I don't believe we've met."
Samuel gulped. "I'm Samuel Strongsword, cousin of...a member of...the Emperor's Elder Council.
"Oh? Have you met Titus Mede II?"
"Erm...briefly, I doubt he remembers me."
"Hmm. Pity. He is a charming man. Have you--"
"Madam?" called Malborn, who was a at the bar table.
"What now, Malborn?"
"We've run out of the Alto Wine. Do I have your permission to bring out the--"
"Yes, yes, I told you not to trifle me with such things."
She turned back to Samuel. "I'm sorry. We'll have to get better antiquated later."
She walked away, and Samuel ran up to Malborn.
"Let me see if have another bottle of that!" Malborn said loudly. "We need a distraction. I'll be waiting by the door when you have one."
Samuel looked behind and saw man forced onto a bench.
"Sir, you've had too much to drink, please sit down."
"I have NOT! Let go of me this instant!"
Samuel turned to back to Malborn. "Give me a drink." He looked back at the man. "A big one."
Malborn handed him a large bottle of Cyrodiilic Brandy. Samuel sat down next to the man.
"I brought you a drink."
The man took and downed half of it in one gulp.
"Thank you. If you need anything from--" he hiccuped. "--me, do not hesitate to ask."
Samuel looked around. "I need that favor. I need a distraction."
The man cracked his knuckles. "You asked the right man."
He stood up. "Gather 'round all! I have a toast to make to our dear hostess--Elenwen!"
Samuel ran over to Malborn, who was standing by the door to the kitchens.
"Nice job. Let's go, before anyone sees us!"
Samuel and Malborn ducked into the kitchen, the elf closing the door quickly.
The Khajiit cook stood over a pot.
"Who is this, Malborn? You know I don't like strange smells in my kitchen."
"A guest, feeling ill."
"Guests are not allowed in the kitchens."
"Oh, really?" said Malborn. "Because I didn't realize eating Moon Sugar was permitted. Maybe I should tell Elenwen--"
She hissed. "Get out of here. I saw nothing..."
Malborn brought him into a closet.
"Your sword and potions are in that chest. The rest of the Embassy is in that door behind you. Good luck."
Samuel strapped the sword and placed the potions in his pocket.
He closed the Embassy door and heard some Thalmor soldiers talking from another room.
"There was another Stormcloak attack near Winterhold," said a soldier. "I do say, these Nord brutes--"
"Wait, I heard something," interrupted another Thalmor. "It sounded like a door closing..."
The three soldiers kicked open the door to face Samuel.
"Well what do we have here?" smiled a soldier.
"Looks like a guest," said a soldier.
"Shut up, Aldaril."
The three drew their swords and charged in.
Samuel shouted FUS RO DAH! and sent them flying down the hall.
He shot a flame spell before the one named Aldaril could get up, finishing him off.
He burned up the other two as well, and took their armor, which, to his enjoyment, was light enough so he could move freely, but still offered plenty of protection. He found some yellow flowers in the next room, ground them up, and smeared them on his face.
"There," he said. "I look like a Thalmor from a distance."
He took an Elven sword to complete the look and stepped outside to the Embassy courtyard.
A walkway surrounded the main yard area, and Elenwen's office/building stood to his right.
A guard yelled over at him, "You there! Where is your post!"
Samuel discreetly pinched his nose so his voice would have a Thalmor-ish accent.
"Over there, in Elenwen's office!"
"On torture duty, eh? Good luck. That rat from the Thieves Guild in Riften won't tell much more!"
Samuel gulped and walked into the office.
Inside, a Thalmor agent in black robes was handing a Nord a coin purse.
"I suppose we should compensate you for bringing in that thief, even though he won't tell us much more. Gissur, out of here. We don't want to see you here again!"
After Gissur left, the agent pointed at Samuel.
"You! Have some agents kill him before he gets back to Riften!"
"Can you tell me where the torture chamber is?" stammered Samuel.
"New eh? Down those steps and to the right. Here's the key. Also, Elenwen wants all of her paperwork moved out her office. Take care of that first. Kill that prisoner too."
The agent left.
Samuel walked into Elenwen's office. He saw a note on her desk labeled DRAGON INVESTIGATION: CURRENT STATUS. Samuel opened it. It read:
First Emissary Elenwen,
We anticipate a breakthrough in our efforts to uncover the party or power behind the dragon resurrection phenomenon. An informant has identified a possible lead, whom we have brought back to the Embassy for a full interrogation. The subject is obstinate, but by all indications is holding back the information we seek. I have authorized Intermediate Manual Uncoiling - I do not expect more will be necessary, unless you feel time presses.
I know you prefer to be present for the final questioning; I will inform you immediately when the subject is fully receptive. Two days tell the tale.
In the meantime, if you wish to audit our technique, your expertise is welcome, as always. I have placed the prisoner in the cell closest to your office stairs, for your convenience.
--Runindil, 3rd Em.
Samuel pocketed the letter and walked into the torture chamber.
There was a balcony overseeing the main room where various torture devices were held, and in the back of the room was a row of cells.
Samuel walked down into the cell area. All of them were empty except for one. Samuel opened the door and the man inside spoke before Samuel could say anything.
"I told you, I don't know anymore about it. If you're going to kill me, please just do it now. Quickly."
Samuel unlocked the chains around his wrists. "I'm not here to torture you. Let's go."
"Wha--yeah, yeah, okay."
"Hang on. Tell what you told them."
The man sighed. "There's some old guy hiding in Riften, name of Esbern. He's a member of the Blades, and an expert of dragons and some sort of people called the Akaviri. Let's go."
Samuel was about to respond when he heard some shouting on the balcony.
"So, Malborn, you've let someone loose inside the Embassy? Betrayed the Thalmor and the Aldmeri Dominion as whole in less than three hours. I'm not going to bother to set up your trial."
The Thalmor solider talking to Malborn stabbed in the chest.
Samuel threw his Elven sword into the Thalmor's chest, not killing him, but getting him down so he couldn't go after them.
"Is there any way out?" he asked the prisoner.
"Y-yeah. They use that trap door over there to get rid of bodies. It must lead somewhere."
"No! Not that way!" shouted the Thalmor soldier. "There's...a..." he died before he could finish.
Samuel pulled open the trapdoor and jumped down.
The door led into a cave that smelled worse than anything Samuel had smelled before. His vision was tinted slightly green, and the prisoner fell over and vomited.
Samuel grabbed his arm and hung it around his shoulder. "Let's keep moving."
The path lead to a small drop. Below them was a circular area with an opening to the outside world nearly hidden by the rocks. Samuel and the prisoner dropped down and a furry black creature stood up and roared. It was a troll.
"Run!" shouted Samuel.
The prisoner ran out through the exit and Samuel shouted FUS RO DAH! to buy them some time.
He stumbled out of the cave before the troll got up. Once he out, he cast a large fire spell at the exit and rocks crashes down in front of it.
He looked at the prisoner. "Where will you go now?"
"Probably back to Riften and continue with the Thieves Guild. Try and find that damn Gissur who helped the Thalmor capture me."
"They're sending agents after him, don't worry about it," chuckled Samuel.
He started walking back to Solitude.