Sitting in the rickety cart looking back on her life, Elana was surprised she had lasted so long.

She had been a merchant. She kept her nose clean and never did anything to jeopardize herself. Other than riding out alone that one time.

Being mistaken for a bandit after being robbed blind by bandits was just a sad joke.

But Elana had to drag herself back to the present, as the blond Nord across from her was trying to make friends.

Whatever. It wasn't as if she'd give herself away just yet. The Nord was still calling her 'brother.' That was an advantage she had long learned to keep.

She tuned out the world as the blond and substandard thief snapped at each other, and Elana turned her thoughts to Gonnstar, her business partner. He hadn't been with her when she'd been attacked, luckily, or else they both would be dead. He could be dead now; he had caught ill and she'd decided to go alone.

She hoped he wasn't dead. Then she'd have to find another friendly sellsword who wouldn't mind a-

"-you're speaking to Ulfric Stormcloak, the rightful High King!"

"Ulfric Stormcloak?"

Elana would have repeated his horrified and awed sentiment had she not been playing mute. Nothing good could come from being in the same cart as the Jarl of Windhelm.

She thought of the amulet the bandits had stolen. Her one act of rebellion in her whole life had been to keep wearing the sign of Talos around her neck. She felt stronger somehow with it on, as if it let the Ninth Divine reach into her very soul and lend her power.

"A Nord's lasts thoughts should be of home."

She needed to stop losing focus. It was probably those blows to the head. First the bandits, then the Imperials she thought would help.

Sithis take them.

Elana managed to drag her mind back to the world at the horse-thief's prayer.

Damn elves indeed. Elana had known plenty of decent Dunmer, Bosmer, and even some polite Altmer. But it seemed that once you put them in groups they became snobs who tried to control things that weren't their business.

As if Elana could do anything about it and live.

She wanted to burn these walls down and rip every stone apart. Then she could run to a quiet cabin and live there, alone, not hurting anybody until she died.

Who lets the child out the door when soldiers walk by with prisoners anyway?

Her thoughts were scattered like the wind as a headache blossomed in her skull. It was the piercing eyes of the blond and his strong, "Let's go," that brought her back in time to stand and leap from the cart.

The Jarl was called first.

Then the blond. Ralof was his name. A good, strong name for what seemed a good strong man.

And Lokir the fool thief went running. No wonder he had been caught. He must have been a lousy thief and he was a poor judge of the Imperials. He may have been a Nord, but there was no place in Sovngarde for such cowards.

Oh no.

"You there. Step forward."

The arrow filled corpse of Lokir rose to her mind's eye as she reluctantly stepped forward.

"Who are you?"