Previously: The Embassy

Despite seeming large on the inside, the Thalmor Embassy seemed like such a small compound on the outside. The guards who patrolled and guarded the whole complex had a separate barracks, and despite never having visited them, Indrathel already they were even more underwhelming than the main building.

Why do they live like this? she wondered as she slowly crossed the courtyard, her boots crunching in the snow. Indrathel was visibly dismayed to see the vaunted Thalmor existing in this manner. These weren't the Thalmor she knew, whose stories she'd grown up on.

As she delved deeper into her own thoughts, new memories formed, welling up inside her like a spring. She had memories of much more exalted venues, of classes at a fine university and training days on a warm southern island. And with the new memories came new realization.

The Thalmor can never conquer Skyrim.

Even with access to forts, a fully staffed embassy, and vast sums of money, life in this distant northern province was contrary to the very core of Thalmor.

The sun was out, and admittedly, it was a beautiful day in Skyrim. The map showed she was in the northwest hold of Haafingar, and she climbed over the hills to reach the northernmost road. It led ever westward, flanked by the frosty Sea of Ghosts.

The air was so crisp, so cool, so clear. Indrathel inhaled deeply, feeling oddly purified with each breath. Her boots scraped against the stone road, she listened to the wind, the distant lapping of waves, and the gentle patter of hooves in the snow.

Time passed, she didn't know how much; eventually her feet brought her to a mark of civilization. It was a fort, broken and rundown, and probably ancient. Curious, she approached, wondering if it was manned by Imperial soldiers or Haafingar guards.

The arrow that whizzed past her left ear swiftly reminded her Skyrim had a bandit problem.

"That's far enough!" a voice yelled from atop the front gate. The archer was poised and ready, and some of the other bandits were crossing the courtyard, coming forward. They were all clad in fur or leather, with a healthy layer of dirt. Indrathel was fleetingly confused; weren't they near a sea?

Her feet kept moving, despite the warning, and when the archer fired again, Indrathel raised her right hand and returned the the form of a fireball.

Whoa. That finally stopped her. She stared down at her left hand as though it wasn't a part of her. I can do magic.

The bandits hesitated also, but recovered quickly. Apparently, squaring off with mages wasn't new for them.

The ones on the grounds rushed her; one was an Orc. Without missing a beat, Indrathel reached for the dagger strapped to her side and started slashing.

Whoa, she blinked. I'm a warrior.

She towered above them; she was faster than they, stronger, and her blade was enchanted to burn her attackers with every slash.

It's Daedric, she fleetingly realized. How had she not noticed that before? It had to be expensive!

"Fall to the Thalmor!" someone roared. It took her a split second to realize the powerful voice was hers.

The whole experience was surreal. Indrathel was herself, and yet she wasn't herself. She'd gotten into fights before; one didn't grow up on the streets of a great city unscathed. But this wasn't the fighting of her childhood, this was the highly efficient, ruthlessly disciplined movement of a Thalmor.

She cut a bloody, fiery swath through the bandits with ease until she stood atop the highest point of the fort, surveying the carnage left in her wake.

I did that, she stared, wide-eyed and stunned. Her blood was pumping, her heart was pounding, and she clutched her blood-dripping dagger. Mara be praised.

The sun was still high, the air crisp and clean. She could rest here if she wanted to, now that the fort was hers, but Indrathel decided to move on. She had a ton of energy and the massacre left her oddly invigorated.

And there might be more bandits on the road to Northwatch Keep.

She exited to the fort and headed back towards the main road, her breathing fast. It was a heady, this feeling, this strength. What she remembered of her old life was pride in being quick and clever, but she'd never known what it felt like to be strong.

Mara didn't just rewrite my memories, Indrathel realized. She rewrote all of me. The tall elf was suddenly aware of just how physically fit she was, how muscled her body felt beneath her robes. She hadn't noticed it before, but now that she'd felt it in action, she realized this wasn't the same body from before.

Illusions become reality, a voice teased from the back of her mind. It sound somewhat like the goddess herself. Indrathel knew what it meant; the longer she was this version of herself, the more "real" this life would become. There could be no going back after this.

She reached the main road, where a corpse awaited her. It was clad in leather armor and had an arrow through the back. Confused, she looked up to see an Imperial patrol traveling eastward on the road. They were escorting what appeared to be Nord prisoner, forced to walk barefoot and in rags. The lead soldier acknowledged her presence with a brief nod as he and his men marched on.

As she resumed her trek, Indrathel spied a slew of Stormcloak bodies left behind by the Imperials. In that moment, she remembered that bandits weren't Skyrim's only problem; there was the tiny issue of a Stormcloak rebellion.

Yes, she blinked. Them too. There's a whole infestation.

It suddenly occurred to her that there was no shortage of people to kill in this country.


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