...Where We Are Least Alone

 
Previously: The Headquarters

As it turned out, Psylina wasn't kidding about there not being much to explore. And it wasn't just the Headquarters; unless you were a noble (or someone making money off the nobles), Solitude wasn't just wasn't all that special.

It was beautiful to be sure; the Imperial influence was evident in every stone in every street, manor, and castle. Of course, she had memories of growing up in a much finer city. She remembered having more to do in Cyrodiil; with the war going, entertainment options in Solitude seemed extremely limited.

That all being said, it was nice to be out of the mountains and off the great road. Skyrim's wilds were beautiful indeed, but Indrathel found herself in desperate of some civilization. She could still enjoy the beauty somewhat, from watching the sun rise or enjoying the salty smell of the Sea of Ghosts. But the high city walls kept most of the winds at bay, along with the mountains, and she could hear the harbor bells all the way up at Castle Dour.

And since there wasn't much else for her to do, Indrathel walked.





When she wasn't training or attending mind-numbing briefings, she walked. Walking cleared her head, helped her forget about all the horrors she'd just end up remembering all over again when she slept.

She walked the grounds of Castle Dour, observed the soldiers in training, even brought messages to General Tullius himself from Commander Mirnor. She walked to the temple but never attended services (because, like...why?), and on sunny days, she walked the city. Solitude seemed a lot smaller once she got used to it, and soon, she had visited almost every public building or area in the city.

Almost.




As fate would have it one morning, Mirnor needed her to deliver a message to Commander Atirion, the Thalmor liaison to the Blue Palace. Indrathel was actually growing tired of being used as a messenger, but she knew why the task often fell to her. Despite her height and her standard Thalmor robes, she was the least "scary" Thalmor; the humans in particular seemed to respond to her better.

The Blue Palace's architecture reflected the rest of Solitude, but there was an added air of prestige and exclusivity. While nobles in silk and velvet flitted about the halls, she had to be escorted to the throne room by a guard. She didn't know if it was because she was "common" or because military matters were considered priority.

As she climbed the central stairs, she noticed the the ceilings were so high they made her realize just how suffocating the Thalmor Headquarters--and Embassy--felt. The air seemed cooler and more fragrant at the palace as result.

Her arrival in the throne room turned a lot of heads, as she expected, but even after they acknowledged she was a Thalmor agent, they kept staring. They were doing that thing where they were trying to "figure her out", no doubt to explain her darker skin and more "human" eyes.

"Commander Atirion, I presume?" she stiffly greeted the liaison. He was doing the staring thing too, but there was a slight look of appreciative curiosity in his eyes. "I am Indrathel."

Atirion's eyes widened. He was like most Altmeri, olive-skinned with slender eyes. "Ah...the Indrathel, Hero of Northwatch Keep."

Indrathel remained uncomfortable. "One and the same."

"I was hoping I'd get to meet you," he mused, tilting his head slightly. "You're quite famous in some circles."

And just like that, the palace lost its charm and her curiosity was sated. She wanted to get back to her walking.

"I bring a message from Commander Mirnor." She handed the seal scroll. "And with that, I'll be on my way."

He nodded absently, unsealing and skimming the note. "Yes, yes," he murmured, finally distracted. "That will be all."

Indrathel stiffly turned on her heel, eager to escape the stares. Staring was evolving into whispering and she was rapidly realizing that even though the Blue Palace was admittedly something out of a dream, it wasn't the place for her.

The guard led her back down to the palace entrance and she briskly exited, crossing the courtyard and fleeing back into the city.

She stopped by the Winking Skeever for a few pints and didn't return to the Headquarters until well after dark. When she arrived, Psylina was waiting for her with a smirk.

"Well, there she is," the tall soldier drawled. "Belle of the ball."

"What do you mean?" Indrathel asked, resisting a yawn. She was tired from walking all day and aching for a warm bed.

"Apparently, you made quite the impression at court today," Psylina teased. "Atirion came by looking for you."

Indrathel was too confused to cringe. "For me? Not Mirnor?"

"No," Psylina shook her head. "Just you. He spoke of some sort of social event at the Blue Palace tomorrow, to which you are invited."

Confusion gave way to surprise. "He wants...me...to attend a ball?"

"Something like that," Psylina chuckled. "Do you have anything to wear among such elevated company, by chance?"

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