Pairings: Ulfric x Dragonborn; Brynjolf x OC; Cicero x OC
Summary: An alliance has been struck and the tides of the war is about to shift as a result.
Warnings: Descriptions of violence and gore; Skyrim takes on a bit of ‘Game of Thrones’ feeling; May contain controversial themes
‘To the one that receives this message, the offer was finalized and another banner joins ours.
I depart for the Base today and ask for you to meet me there so we can formulate a plan to defeat the enemy.
I’ll go into more details once everyone is in the same room.
Ayla folds the two pieces of paper and pours some melted, red wax on the edge before stamping her symbol on it. A dragon surrounded by fire.
She lets the wax dry as she stares at a portrait on the wall in front of her, biting at her lips. It is late into the night and they were going to leave to the base that houses her rebellion in the morning.
She lets out a sigh as she taps her fingers on the surface of the desk, traveling into her thoughts. She just made an alliance with the Stormcloaks. The chances of winning this war against the Thalmor just went up.
She smiles to herself just as the wooden door to her room swings open, revealing a joyous Xaliyah, laughing at herself and on the way to being drunk.
“Whata you smiling bout?” Xaliyah asks, leaning against the door.
Ayla looks down at her desk before meeting her friend’s gaze, “just today’s success,” she replies and Xaliyah stares at her in silence for a few seconds before walking forward and grabbing Ayla’s wrists and trying to tug the Dragonborn onto her feet.
“Then celebrate it at the bar,” Xaliyah suggests as she tries to pull Ayla to her feet, “Bryn and Kharjo are there as well,”
Ayla sighs and shakes her head, sending the brunette an apologetic smile, “as much as I would like to, Xal, I got a few more things to do before I go to bed,”
Xaliyah sighs as she drops Ayla’s wrists, “you’re such a workaholic, Ayla,” Xaliyah says with an eye-roll, “have some fun tonight. You’ve earned it,”
“I’ll celebrate when we have won some victories against the Thalmor,” Ayla responds, walking over and grabbing her cloak, tossing it over her shoulders and putting the hood over her head before picking up the two letters on the desk.
“Who are those for?” Xaliyah asks, following the raven-haired female out of the room.
“Athena and Tal,” Ayla replies as she walks past the bar where Brynjolf is ordering a few more drinks.
“Aye, Ayla, joining us for a few drinks, are ya?” Brynjolf asks, holding up a tankard filled with ale. Ayla turns around when she reaches the door.
“Not tonight, Brynjolf,” she replies as she holds up the two letters in her hand, “got business to take care of,”
“It’s going to be a big blizzard tonight, dear,” the owner, Elda, says from behind the bar as she hands Brynjolf another mug of ale, “don’t stay out too late,”
Ayla smiles politely at the older woman, bowing her head in respect, “I’ll be fine,” she says before glancing over at Xaliyah and Brynjolf, who is now walking up the stairs and to the second floor, “don’t be afraid to yell at them if things get too wild,” she adds to Elda before opening the door and stepping out into the wind.
She hears the howling of a pack of wolves outside the city walls and the footsteps of someone walking past her. She gives them a friendly nod before heading towards the city gates in search for a courier at the stables. But she slows to a stop after taking three steps.
A courier is the most common mode of sending messages in Skyrim. Ayla knows that the Thalmor intercepts any couriers they come across. These messages will not be safe from the Thalmor, or the empire for that matter.
So she turns around and heads straight towards the Palace of Kings. She jogs up the steps, cloak flowing behind her as snow starts to fall. She needs to hurry or risk being stuck in the Palace. Not that she would complain; it would be heated and she would have food and shelter, but she would probably be given a bed meant for the soldiers to take a quick nap on. She much prefers the comfortable beds of Candlehearth Hall.
She pushes the door open and shuts it behind her. As she gets used to the silence of the hall compared to the windy weather outside, she turns around and examines the room. Empty. Of course. She had no idea where the ravens are kept and knew that poking around would be unwelcome.
Just as she was about to walk back outside, a cough and footsteps stop her. She looks over her shoulder to see the steward of the Palace, “excuse me, sir,” she calls out, removing her hood and walking forward several steps. The man stops walking and looks over at her.
“May I help you at such a late hour?” he questions, obviously confused, as Ayla stops a few feet in front of him, “I’m afraid Jarl Ulfric is asleep right now-”
Ayla shakes her head, “I’m not here to talk with him,” she explains, “I’m actually wondering if you have any ravens I can borrow to send a few letters,”
The man furrows his brows, “why not find a courier?”
“Too risky, especially now in the times we live in,” she explains and the man slowly nods, “now if you could point me in the right direction-”
“We keep what ravens we have up in the tower with the court wizard, Wuunferth,” he explains, nodding over at a door to the left of the entrance to the Palace, “but seeing that it is so late at night, I assume that he is asleep as well,”
Ayla sighs in disappointment. She hoped to get these letters sent tonight so the two they are addressed to receives them in the morning, “Oh, I’ll just come back tomorrow morning then,” she says, stepping back a few steps, “thank you for your help,” she adds with a smile and turns back towards the door.
“Ma'am,” the man says and Ayla looks back at him, hoping that he will take her to the ravens instead, “it’s snowing pretty heavily at the moment. I would suggest that you stay here for the night,”
Of course, that is what he says. She wasn’t in the palace for that long, how fast did this snowstorm pick up? Ayla opens and closes her mouth, trying to think of an appropriate way to decline his suggestion.
“Dragonborn or not, this weather is not suitable for travel, even if your destination is down the road,” he adds firmly and Ayla sees no point in wasting her breath arguing with him. With an irritated sigh, she runs a hand through her hair before crossing her arms over her chest, sending the steward a pointed look.
“Fine,” she sighs, the exhaustion slowly getting to her, “where do I sleep?” she figured he would reply with a simple 'in the barracks’ since that would be a simple and easy solution.
“If you’ll follow me, I can show you to your temporary quarters,” the man says with a warm smile before walking to the door that he said lead to where the wizard was.
“Wuunferth has a room in this section of the Palace,” the man explains as they walk up a set of stairs, “there are several other rooms here where we let our more esteemed guests sleep,” he rounds a few corners before stopping in front of a door, unlocking it and swinging it open for her, “this will be your room for the night,” he adds as Ayla walks in.
It was a modest room with a large bed in the middle, a window showing the dark outside, and a fireplace surrounded by wooden chairs. A set of table and chairs sit in front of the window, a bottle of wine and a tankard sitting on the table.
“Thank you, Mr…” Ayla says, turning back to the steward, who smiles in response.
“Just call me Jorleif, ma'am,” he says, grabbing the door handle to close it, “and if you need any help in the morning, please come find me,” and with that he shuts the door, leaving Ayla alone in the foreign room.
She takes her cloak off and drapes it over the back of one of the chairs before sitting down on the bed, listening to the crackling of the fire over the windy storm outside. Just one night. Tomorrow morning, she will send the letters and then be off to her base.
Ayla couldn’t find Wuunferth. She checked the only spot she could think of that a court wizard would be, but he wasn’t there. And the only other people in the section that she was in were the three people who seem to hate her so much. After putting her cloak back on, she descends the stairs and returns to the main hall.
The three people are seated at the table, eating and conversing with each other in hushed voices. Ayla glances at the throne and sees it still empty. She blinks as she looks to the right of the throne and sees Jorleif standing there. She smiles as she approaches him.
“How may I help you today, ma'am?” he questions and Ayla glares over her shoulder at the blonde woman who had scoffed at Ayla.
“I can’t find the court wizard anywhere,” she explains, fingers running across the letters in her hand, feeling embarrassed that she can’t find someone as simple as a court wizard, “I was asking if you could help me,”
Jorleif nods in response, laughing a bit, “of course,” he says, leading his way back towards the door she just walked out of. Ayla follows close behind but looks back at the table when she overhears a commotion.
“Are you just going to let that hag Maven remain the Jarl of Riften?” the blonde woman says angrily, standing up and staring or glaring, Ayla couldn’t tell since the woman’s back was towards her, at Ulfric as he approaches his throne, “it’s been days, Ulfric. You said I’ll have Riften back by now,”
“And I am working on that, Laila,” Ulfric replies with a sigh as he sits down, giving the woman a tired look, “there are more important things at the moment. Riften will still be there,”
Laila Law-Giver. That’s her name. Former Jarl of Riften. Exiled when Ayla agreed to give Riften to the Empire at the cease-fire meeting between both sides of the Civil War so long ago. It was a decision she regrets. She would have preferred if the Imperials stayed out of her favorite city and especially if Maven wouldn’t have been made Jarl in place of Laila.
Maven Black-Briar. A name and person Ayla hates and one day hopes to rid the world of. When she first met Maven, Ayla could tell all the woman cared about was benefiting herself. No one but her and her family. Xaliyah’s own hatred fueled Ayla’s even more. If the Empire put people like Maven on the throne, then that is all the more reason to rid Skyrim of them.
She is pulled from her thoughts when Laila sits back down. Ayla stares at the blonde for a few seconds before looking over at Ulfric, who is already staring at her. Ayla’s gaze hardens before she closes her slightly opened mouth and looks back at Jorleif as they finally reach the door.
“Wuunferth, you have a visitor,” Jorleif says and an elderly man turns around and smiles when he sees Ayla.
“Ah, the Dragonborn,” he says, still smiling, “I heard that you were visiting. It is an honor to meet you,” Ayla returns his handshake with a smile and a 'thank you’, “now, what brings you here today?”
“I have a few letters I need to send by raven,”
Wuunferth raises his brows at her in shock at such a request, “ravens? What for? What happened to the couriers?”
Ayla smiles, knowing that question would be asked, “these letters hold valuable information, ” she explains, “I will not give them to a courier with the risk of them being intercepted,” she watches as Wuunferth studies her for a few seconds before nodding.
“We live in a time filled with so much war that it is no longer safe for a courier to bring letters to people,” he says before walking towards the back of his room, where Ayla can hear a few caws, “two letters, two birds,” he says, unhooking a cage and letting a raven step onto his wrist, “tell them the location and person and they’ll be off,”
Ayla rolls the letters up and ties one of them to each bird’s feet. She watches as they both fly out of the open window beside them, “thank you, sir,” she says, turning away from the window as Wuunferth closes it. The two walk out of the back room and into the main area of his room.
“Anything to help the Dragonborn in these trying times,” he replies as he goes back to his work. Ayla takes that as her cue to leave and retreats back into the main hall of the Palace. It barely changed in the ten minutes she was gone. Laila continues urging Ulfric to go liberate Riften from the Empire’s grip and the Jarl dismisses her words with a wave of his hand.
Ayla turns her attention back to the door and lifts her hood over her head as she nears it. She needs to hurry to the stables so she can get to her base in a few days time. When she arrives, that is when this war gets deadlier than it was before.