Ulfic Stormcloak was yelling at the top of his lungs at Galmar when a robed and hooded figure slipped into the Palace of Kings to be intercepted by his steward. "Yes, Doomsday is avoided thanks to the Dragonborn, but we have no idea who they are or where they are living. Perhaps they want it that way, but how can they sit by while Skyrim tears itself apart in war? How can they not fight?"
"Perhaps they do not know why they should."
"Why fight? Why fight! I fight for the men I've held in my arms, dying on foreign soil. I fight for their wives and children, whose names I heard whispered in their last breaths. I fight for we few who did come home, only to find our country full of strangers wearing familiar faces. I fight for my people impoverished to pay the debts of an Empire too weak to rule them, yet brands them criminals for wanting to rule themselves! I fight so that all the fighting I've already done hasn't been for nothing. I fight because I must!"
His steward's stammering introduction of the figure simply slipped through his ears. "What is it you need?"
The figure softly cupped their left hand around a closed right fist and dropped into the flat back of a mage's bow. "I wish to offer my services as a battlemage to the Stormcloak army."
Ulfric shot a glance at Galmar. Years of leadership had taught him some reading of people. This stranger radiated power in her decorated robes and precise bow. Her voice had a highborn accent, though roughened with years of study around common folk. She was unafraid in his presence. His glance at his advisor confirmed his suspicions with the man's mouthed word: "Archmage."
"I thank you for your offer, Archmage. Please accept my condolences on the passing of Savos Aren. He will be deeply missed."
As she straightened, her hands reached up to brush her hood back. "I wonder that that is the title you have fixated on." At his barely contained disgust, she smirked. "Unless you did not pay attention to a word your steward said."
Ulfric was staring into the golden, cat-like eyes of a High Elf.
"And what would I want with a Thalmor spy in my army? Why should I seek my own destruction?" Galmar stiffened, but Ulfric was unrepentant.
She cocked her head. "And here I thought the Thalmor had the monopoly on being racist bastards." Ulfric straightened in rage but she lifted a hand to cut him off. "But no matter. My offer still stands. I am an Expert in Restoration magic, and a master of Alteration, Conjuration, and Destruction. I would be a valuable asset." She bowed again, hands once again showing she meant no harm to Ulfric, though not as deep or long as before.
"I reiterate: I have no need of Thalmor in my army. You can include that in your report about the College."
"And I am deeply insulted that you would kin me to the man whose actions and lack thereof brought about the death of Savos Aren and Mirabelle Ervine. He has been dead the past two moons. The College belongs to itself now."
"You'll understand if I do not take your word for it."
She smiled like a cat. "Then I will take my leave. Krosis, dii jun. Guur, hind nisejun."
Ulfric leapt to his feet before she could fully turn away. "What was that?"
Her grin stretched wider. "I must cry your pardon again. I forgot the dovahzul, the dragon tongue, does not come so easily to those without the dovahsos." Her face turned to his ceiling, she said one word: YOL and a plume of fire leapt from her lips.
"Dovahkiin," she corrected with the look of a contented feline. "Now it is your turn, and I know you have access to words of power. The elder speaks first. Or do you wish to reject my offer of tinvaak?"
Fuck. She had him trapped. He could insult her, again, when he knew full well she was the hero of Skyrim. Or he could accept that she placed him in a subordinate position, and quite securely.
The Word that had in part slain the last king of Skyrim rolled over her like a summer breeze. She rocked into its power, breathing deeply. "You honor me, Ulfric Stormcloak."
"Your presence honors us all, Dovahkiin," he replied. "I would be glad to fight next to you against the Imperials."
She purred. "I am a mage and an elf. Do not try to lie and say you welcome my kind of strength. But I will fight with your army. Provided you can tell me my name. Just my name, not my house or all the titles I hold. Three little syllables."
Ulfric scrambled through his memory, trying to find her name. But there was nothing. "Forgive me, Dovahkiin."
"It is not in a dragon's nature to forgive. But perhaps an elf can." She bowed, slightly, not taking her eyes off him. "Farewell, Ulfric Stormcloak." She turned on a heel and glided from the hall, pulling her hood up as she went.
When the doors closed, the Jarl sunk into his throne as his advisor cuffed his arm. "She's the Archmage! What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking she's an elf, and a high elf of that. How was I supposed to consider her other than as a threat?"
"And would Savos choose as his successor someone unworthy?"
Ulfric sighed, leaning into his hands. "I know. I know. I was distracted and paid for it dearly. But the next high elf that walks in here won't be the Dragonborn. Am I supposed to forget my imprisonment?"
"By the Nine, Ulfric, I hate them as much as you. I just hide it when someone walks in here radiating so much power you could strike a match off the aura she puts out. Damn it, Ulfric."
"I know. I messed up. But maybe she'll come around later."
Galmar scoffed. "She just said it is not in a dragon's nature to forgive."
"But she's still a mortal, with the touch of Talos in her. She's not entirely dragon. If I play my cards right, she might forgive at least some of the disrespect in time."
"As you say, Ulfric. Keep your optimism. I've got plans to make."
Ulfric settled down to think for a while yet. Technically, petition hours were not yet over. Though after his reinforcement of the Grey Quarter's boundaries, he had seen less requests as the citizens gave up an accepted how things were. Though in light of today, perhaps he should reconsider. Or at least do something to lessen the stories of assault and abuse filtering out of that side of the city. Skyrim belongs to the Nords, yes. But maybe he ought to investigate claims of less-than-moral Nords taking advantage of the refugees. After all, several boons to the Hold's economy did not come from Nords.
The Jarl rose and made his way towards the front of the hall to ask about Archmages from his own court mage when there was a soft thump from outside followed by screams from guards outside. Drawing his sword, Ulfric burst out of the doors and almost drew back in horror.
A headless body lay in the middle of the courtyard, its head rolling listlessly several feet away. Sheets of paper fluttered in the air, falling slowing from the air. He snatched one from the air and read "BEWARE THE BUTCHER" in large letters, with the 'butcher' crossed out and replaced with the name of a shop-owner in the city, one who had sold "curios" as he called them.
"Gentlemen, the Butcher has been caught and delivered. I would have preferred him alive, but it seems our vigilante is prone to vengeance and showy displays."
A high and clear laugh rang out from above the roof of the palace. All turned to look up, but all the Jarl saw was a smear of black vanishing across his roof with the swirl of a long midnight cloak.
A/N: No, Not A Lad isn't finished. Yes, I shouldn't be starting a second multi-chapter fic. But the internet died for a while and I couldn't look up stuff so I could write the next few chapters. So this happened. I intended the dovahzul to say "Deepest apologies, my jarl/king. Farewell, wishful not-king."