Vorstag and Lydia had stayed up discussing what course of action they were going to need to take to get Meliandra out of the Windhelm jail.
He had been sitting at the bar when a guard came in, sat down beside him and began drinking while rambling on about how monotonous his job was. Vorstag was about to get up and leave when the guard had started talking at length about the little Breton sitting in the jail. Paying for the man’s next drink, he began to piece together enough information to figure out he was speaking about Meliandra. He made sure he plied the guard with plenty of mead, ensuring he was so drunk that he could barely stand, then he went and woke up Lydia, telling her what he had learned.
The housecarl was furious. She was having a problem with the fact that Meliandra would go out by herself regardless of any perceived dangers to herself. She wanted to demand the release of her thane but Vorstag reminded her that Meliandra did not want anyone knowing that she was a thane of Whiterun, especially if she had been caught stealing from the jarl of Windhelm on a job from the Thieves Guild.
They finally decided that they were going to break her out, but neither one of them had an idea of what the jail looked like or even where it was in the palace. “Well, what do you propose we do?” Lydia snapped. “Walk right in?”
Vorstag looked at his boots in the corner, a muffling enchantment on them as strong as the day Meliandra had put the enchantment on. He smiled as he looked back at the housecarl. “Something like that.”
Galmar stood in front of his longtime friend, frustration and confusion growing as the morning had gone on. “Why have the lad talk to her?” he inquired.
Ulfric sat at his table, a goblet filled with Nordic Mead in his hand. “She’s the one who helped him escape Helgen. From how he spoke about her I could tell that they had shared an experience that bonded them.”
Galmar snorted. “You mean he fucked her.”
Ulfric half smiled but shook his head. “I’m not going to venture into that discussion, but if he did, do you blame him?”
Galmar’s eyebrow rose as he eyed the jarl. “Pussy is pussy. I really don’t care one way or another what the bitch looks like; as long as she makes me cum, that’s all I care about.”
Ulfric said dryly, “It’s a wonder you don’t have an army of your own running around, nipping at your heels.”
Again, he snorted. “No, I’ve been lucky enough that the Divines haven’t cursed me with a bastard yet.”
“You’re all heart, Galmar.” He took a long drink of his mead as he gazed toward the window, the midday sun shining brightly through. “At Helgen I had a heavy heart not just because we had been captured and facing death, and not because I thought our cause was going to die that day. But because I had no son to carry out my legacy, my name. I’d be nothing but a notation in the history annals of Skyrim.”
“But you are the jarl. You are expected to have an heir. Anyhow, you think she’ll talk to Ralof then because of Helgen?”
Nodding, Ulfric answered. “That is my hope, that he can convince her to tell me what I want to know without it coming down to me having to use… other means.” He took another drink. “I have a feeling that little thief can be of use to us.”
The imprisoned guard laid upon the hay pile, nothing but some rags covering his groin. Even though he had been stripped of his duties and his position, he felt no remorse for his actions. His fellow guard had also been relieved of his duties but since all he had done was skip out on his duties, he would retain his position. He also wasn’t sporting a broken nose.
Despite these things, he had made it a point to continue to harass the Breton thief whenever he had the chance, which was what he was doing at this moment. “You really are lucky, bitch, you know that?” He laughed. “I was going to pound that sweet ass of yours if Ulfric hadn’t walked in when he did. And you know what?” He paused a moment before continuing. “There’s nothing your pretty little ass would have been able to do about it.”
He heard a chuckle from the next cell and for some reason it gave him the chills. “You think so, little man?” he heard her ask icily. “I bet I’d surprise you.” And then she laughed and it echoed off the walls. “I would definitely knock you on your fucking ass.”
Vorstag and Lydia slipped below through the passageways below the Palace of the Kings. They had made their way into the palace by means of the sewers. Lydia had turned up her nose at the idea but after hearing Vorstag’s argument and saw his logic, she reluctantly agreed. Lydia’s nose was cringed as they made their way through the foul-stench of the underbelly of the palace and he could tell that she was fighting a bout of nausea. He teased her about it a little, but picked up quickly that she was not in a jovial mood.
“I just want to find the jail and find a way to get Meliandra out,” Lydia was complaining. “Then I want to get this stench off me.”
He nodded as he moved ahead. He had long ago tuned out her complaining but was starting to realize that the housecarl seemed to know how to do nothing else.
Some distance ahead he could make out light coming from above, water flowing out from some kind of pipe. He motioned to the brunette then pointed toward the light. “What do you want to bet that that lead us to Mel?”
“If it doesn’t lead us to her, you’re going to be scrubbing all this shit off my armor.”
“If it doesn’t lead to her, I’ll buy you a new suit of armor.”
She raised her eyebrow. “That sounds even better. Let’s go.”
Ralof made his way through the passageways to the jail, a smile upon his face as his thoughts went back to that night in Riverwood at his sister’s house when the full impact of what they had survived had hit them. They had been sitting along the wall of the house, hidden by the pines and the face of the mountain, drinking bottles of Black-Briar Mead in an effort to calm the nerves that seemed to jump at every sound. He remembered how the light of the moon made her skin seem to shine; he had never seen beauty such as hers and was entranced with her. He had held her as the shock hit her and her body began to tremble; he remembered how it had felt to have a woman in his arms again after being alone all those months on special detail for Ulfric.
The last time he had seen her was the next morning. He had woken to the sounds of his sister cooking while his nose picked up the scent of Nordic coffee being made over the fire. He had gotten out of bed, careful to not wake the raven-haired Breton next to him, wrapped a cloak around his half-naked body, and went to sit at the table.
“Brother,” she had greeted him, a sly smile on her face. “You two were up late last night.”
“Did we keep you guys awake?”
She had laughed as she gave him some coffee. “That’s an understatement, Ralof. Frodnar can sleep through an earthquake, thankfully.” She paused before continuing. “Someone needs to go to Whiterun and warn Jarl Balgruuf about the dragon.” She had glanced at the sleeping woman on the bed then back to her kid brother. “Do you think you friend will do it?”
He had nodded and went to wake her, telling her that the danger of the dragon must be brought to the attention of the Whiterun jarl. She was in complete agreement with him and began to prepare to leave for the hold capital. Gerdur had given her enough supplies to see her through until she reached her destination.
An hour after he had woken her up, he stood at the door, his hands on her shoulders as he gave her directions to Whiterun. “You’ll come to Windhelm and join up with us?” he had asked her. When she had nodded he had cupped her face and looked into her eyes. “Good, because I want to see you again.” He had gently placed a kiss on her lips before she left for Whiterun.
He had waited for her, had begun to suspect that some unforeseen fate had befallen her, and then he had begun to doubt that he would see her again. Now to discover she was being held there in the palace sent him into a state of elation that was tempered by the confusion of why she hadn’t come sooner and why was she trying to steal from the jarl?
These were the same question that Ulfric wanted answers to. And that was what Ralof was going to do.
Meliandra had her eyes closed, concentrating on the sounds that were coming from the grate in the corner outside her cell along the wall. The sounds were gradually getting more noticeable and she began to place what she was hearing, footsteps treading water, hushed voices, one belonging to a male, the other a female. After a moment, she realized it was Vorstag and Lydia making their way through the foulness of the bowels of the palace. A smirk graced her face.
The sound of a bird chirping echoed off the walls as she whistled softly. She was answered by a similar chirping that echoed through the passageway below her feet and the smirk turned into a grin. They chirped at each other until she heard him just outside her cell. She stood by the cell door and spoke softly. “I told you that learning those would be helpful if we ever couldn’t talk to each other.”
“Yeah, yeah, Mel,” came the laughing voice of her companion. “What’s the deal then? What do you need us to do to get you out of here?”
“I need my gear that’s in the prisoner chest across the room for starters.”
“I don’t have your lockpicking skills, Mel, and I don’t think Lydia does either.”
“In my bag at the inn are bottles of lockpicking potions as well as some invisibility potions, you can use those,” she said exasperatedly. “Just get those and get back here. Bring me some lockpicks and I’ll get my damn self out!”
“That would probably be the best option, Mel,” he grumbled.
Meliandra began to say something when she heard footsteps coming down stone steps. “Ssshhhh…” she hissed quietly. “Sounds like one of the guards is coming down here.”
She laid on her pile of hay and closed her eyes to give the impression that she was sleeping, even making snoring sounds. She listened as the steps approached her cell then stopped. A moment later she heard a key in the lock and the sound of the tumbler turning. She concentrated on a spell, not knowing if she was going to have to conjure a sword or not, but she wasn’t going to be abused by a guard like the one had had in mind doing.
She sensed the guard’s presence by her feet; she tensed as she readied herself for a confrontation.