One of his favorites.
One of the first of the favorites he had. One of the few he had cared for. She had been different from the start; a young girl, beautiful and alone, surviving by warming the beds of lonely soldiers far from home. He had discovered that she had been orphaned when she was in her seventeenth year and had turned to the only trade she could to survive. She didn’t talk about her deceased parents, but gathered that she had had some form of education as she was learned enough to be able to read and write.
He Shouted at a practice dummy, his Thu’um ripping the straw dummy apart; he glared at the exposed wood of the post, his anger boiling to a dangerous tipping point. He had taken Mila from working the taverns in whichever town she found herself in and had brought her into the palace, giving her the safety of his walls, the protection of his guards, a warm bed, fine clothing and jewelry, anything that a woman could possibly desire. She had been happy for a while, but a few years later she had become withdrawn and prone to bouts of depression. He had seen his own mother slip into the same darkness when he was a young child before he had been sent away. That’s when he understood why his father had taken a mistress, just as he had taken Rory to his bed more often when the shadows that plagued Mila overtook her.
He found his axe resting heavy in his hand, gripping it tightly as he advanced on the next practice dummy. Instead of seeing the burlap wrapped straw mannequin, he saw Mila’s big brown doe eyes looking up at him. He swung viciously, cutting into the burlap, his mind dwelling on how he had trusted her and how he could have fallen in love with her.
His axe bit deep inside the wood, splitting the post. His Thu’um bounced off the walls again, the anguish filled Shout echoing around him. He was beyond angry with himself for Mila having been so successful at pulling the wool over his eyes so successfully.
The sound of approaching footsteps caused him to glance behind him; irritation in his eyes. The petite Breton met his eyes warily, her steps cautious. Once again, he felt his breath catch at the innate beauty that was this Breton thief. He was both suspicious and intrigued by her, and that made her more alluring to him. He glowered at her as she made her way to him. “I said I was to be left alone.”
“And I told you that I don’t follow orders well,” she quipped back with a tentative smile on her face.
“This is not the day to test my boundaries, thief,” he stated harshly.
A slight frown appeared on her face for a moment then disappeared as she reported, “Mila’s in a cell, restrained. We’ve also removed her clothing in an effort to avoid a repeat of Appius’s suicide.”
He replaced his axe upon his hip and looked at her. The amber eyes, they drew him in, they had a sense of warmth about them. He felt the foul mod lifting. “Has she given up any information?”
She shook her head. “Nothing of much value. She has been abusive to Galmar every chance she gets and if I might take the liberty to speak freely, she talks like one who has lost their mind.”
Confusion set upon his face as he looked at her. “What do you mean?”
She shrugged slightly as she answered, “She speaks in riddles, blabbering on about some nonsense of sons being denied their fathers so fathers are denied their sons.”
Even more confused, he shook his head. “I would like to believe I know what she’s talking about but I’m afraid I didn’t know anything about her at all.”
She cleared her throat hesitantly. “Sir, if I might be so bold again, but what about, what was the redhead’s name again?”
“Yes, what about her? What do you know about her? I hate to say it, sir, but we don’t know who all might be involved and what they had hoped to accomplish.”
A half a smile appeared on his face. “You sound like Galmar.”
“I’m not sure if I should take that as a compliment or not; I don’t think Galmar likes me.”
“Galmar doesn’t like many people at all so I wouldn’t worry about it,” Ulfric responded dryly.
She raised her own eyebrow, returning his gaze. “Well, I just got to listen to him rant and rave about he doesn’t understand how you can trust me when you’ve just discovered Mila’s betrayal.”
The jarl smirked as he held her eyes. “He does make a point; there’s very little reason for me to trust you, yet I have afforded you a small amount of my trust. But, him and I have already had our discussion about you and while we might disagree, I am the jarl and he will do whatever is asked of him.”
“He seems to think that Mila will speak to you, but he doesn’t trust her any more than he does me at this point.”
Nodding, he responded, “She’ll speak to me, whether or not she likes it. And you’re going to ensure that she starts talking.”
“Me?” she questioned. “How do you figure?”
Deadpanned he answered. “We can forego the prayer to the Night Mother and just get down to business. You’re a member of the Dark Brotherhood; you’re going to get the information from her and you’re going to use any means necessary.”
Mila laughed as Ulfric walked into the jail, a cackling that bounced off the rock walls somewhat frighteningly. She saw the Breton following behind him and sneered; she had seen the woman when she had brought a bound Appius into the Palace of the Kings. She knew she should have left Windhelm right then and there but in her thirst for bringing ruin to this man, she stayed. Against her better judgment, Mila wanted to finish what she had started. She did not think the Breton had known about her; she realized too late that she had been wrong.
Ulfric approached her, his eyes narrowed wuth hatred; she sneered before spitting at him. He looked down then back at her and with no sign of hesitation, backhanded her. Her eyes widened in shock. He snarled at her, “Do not think that I will afford you the luxury of mercy, wench.”
She laughed the she spat at him again, hitting him on his chest. “You wouldn’t know mercy if it came up and sucked your cock.”
He grabbed her below her jaw and pushed her up against the wall. “The only reason I have not killed you is because you have information I want.” He looked at her with disgust in his eyes.
“Why should I tell you anything?” she spat. “You’re going to kill me anyhow.”
“You know what, Mila?” he asked as he took her chin in his hand, “there are far worse punishments out there than death.” He glanced back toward the Breton. “Meliandra, are you ready to begin?”
That was when Mila saw that beneath the black fur cloak the Breton wore was the robes of the Dark Brotherhood and began to watch with the dawning realization that her death was going to be drawn out, not just days or weeks or even months, but years, perhaps decades, with growing dread she watched as the woman laid down a backpack and removed a set of torture devices of various sorts and then removed her cloak as she approached her, a glint in her eyes, and replied to the jarl, “More than ready.”
Torbjorn sat fuming y the fire on the second floor. It wasn’t enough for him to have his daughter taken from him and his family in such a horrific and brutal way, it wasn’t enough that a constant gloom had overcome his wife and surviving daughter, it wasn’t enough that his beloved wife spent most of her days in the bottle, but to have his precious Friga’s best friend betray them by stealing from them in their time of grieving was beyond his limits. The damn Breton girl might have been friends with his girls when they were all children, but obviously her friendship wasn’t anything but a façade to be close to the wealth his family held, waiting for the opportune time to steal from them.
Muiri had tried to convince them that she hadn’t done anything wrong, but he wouldn’t hear any of it, he had seen her before with the man he had seen fleeing his home, the family’s warhammer on his back. If Tova had not stopped him, he would have killed the Breton himself, but his wife prevented him, cursing the girl and banishing her from their home forever.
Now, hours later, a drunk Tova lay passed out in their bed, Friga’s baby blanket clutched in her hand. Nilsine could be heard softly weeping in her room for her beloved twin sister. Torbjorn glowered as he stared into the flames. What more would he be forced to endure?
The conspirator lay strapped to the rack, her head restricted from movement by a thick leather strap secured on her forehead. A bucket with a sieve through the bottom sat perched above her head. Ulfric had seen this water technique years before when he was a prisoner of the Thalmor; it was a very effective method of torture. He had heard the admissions Mila made, he listened with a hardening cold heart as she confessed to the things she had done to attempt to bring ruin to the jarl. His anger rolled to a boil, building up pressure to a point of frenzied rage.
He watched as the Breton used her skills to shock Mila’s wet body with arc magic. At one time he would have killed anyone who harmed this favorite wench of his, but as her crimes were admitted, the less he felt. As he listened to her confessions he realized the meaning behind her ‘blabbering nonsense’, the pain of it striking him deep in his chest. He stood up from his stool across the jail where he had been watching and walked angrily toward his former lover.
“You killed the child I put into your womb?” he shouted.
She laughed at him. “Bring to ruin the Stormcloak name, leave none alive,” she cackled. “An elixir of herbs to bring on the monthly waters and expel the demon inside.”
He clenched his fists, a wave of emotions overwhelming him. His chest rose as he took a deep breath and tuned his attention to Meliandra. “Do what you will with her, but do not kill her.”
She looked at him, confusion written on her face. “Let her live? She just admitted she killed your unborn child!”
He nodded. “A fact she wished for me to live with while she escapes a life of regret for doing so through death.” He looked back at the bound traitorous wench. “Death is not always the optimal punishment. Sometimes being forced to live a long life means having to deal with the consequences of one’s actions, torturous punishment in itself.” He looked back to the Breton. “Make is so no one will ever desire her again.”