Skavild has rejoined his old Stormcloak brothers-in-arms in an attempt to enter Windhelm and rescue Second Archivist Eldaline, a senior Thalmor dignitary. When Eldaline was delivered to the Stormcloaks, she was carrying a family heirloom called the Book of Fate, which Ulfric Stormcloak has read, and become upset with.

There was fairly little to say about Eldaline at this particular time; Ulfric Stormcloak was convinced that the Book of Fate was a thing created by the Thalmor to make him nervous, as it claimed that Second Archivist Eldaline would replace him as Jarl of Windhelm. But she had never read the book, and despite the insistence of Windhelm's jailors, could not tell Ulfric her sinister plot, because on this occasion she didn't have one.

Skavild was becoming quite anxious. He had lost two very important knapsacks, containing among other things, a sinister decoy packed lunch full of poison, and all of Eldaline's important documents citing him as a Library Assistant to a senior Thalmor dignitary. This information, if discovered by the Jarl's household, was bound to impact his progression through the Stormcloak ranks, and also remove his head in an unnecessarily painful way.

"Has anyone seen Arki?" Said Skavild. "I want to ask him if he found any bags on my horse when he stabled it."

"He won't be back tonight." Said Aeslaf. "He's going to get himself locked up for a week, what he's planning."

"What's that, then?"

"He's set off through the sewers. Said he had something incredible to show the Jarl himself. Where are you going, Skavild?"

"I have to stop him... from ruining his career prospects."

Skavild hurried down the hill.

The docks were guarded and there was no boat. Skavild intended to get around these problems by being a guard and having a boat.

"You might want to look away, O Mighty Talos." Said Skavild. "I'm not going to make you very proud for the next day or so."

"Ugh." He said. "Here goes."

"Hey! Over here! You!"

"Who, me?" Said the dock guard.

"Hey, you! Yes, you!" Shouted Skavild.

"He probably means someone else." Said the guard.

"Come over here!" Called a mysterious beckoning figure over the river.

"I'd better go and see what it wants. But it's never for me."

"That's right, go to the boat... no, why aren't you getting in the boat, you got anvils for brains or something?"

"What do you want? And what do you mean, we've got anthills in the drains? We just cleaned the damn things. It took three whole days and we had to send out for special shovels."

"Anvils for brains! I've been yelling at you to come here for ten minutes and take an important message, you miserable bucket of horker blubber!"

"Say that again, you half-witted fetid mudcrab!"

"Come over here and call me a mudcrab again, why don't you, you gutless chicken liver!"

"Fine! I will!"

"Finally." Said Skavild. "Better put my helmet on."

"See? I told you I'd come over here and call you a mudcrab again! You're a mudcrab! There!"

"Glad you finally made it, soldier." Said Skavild. "Is your cousin Sven?"

"No."

"Gregir? Garm? Fruti? Bjarni?"

"No?"

"Ogmug? Snedbal? Nogbad? Gisnar? Hjoldar?" Said Skavild.

"Hjaldir?"

"Well, make up your mind, soldier, is it Hjaldir or Hjoldar?" Skavild demanded "How am I supposed to know you're who you say you are if you don't even know your cousin's name?"

"Hjold... I mean Hjaldir!" Said the guard.

"Speak up, man! Is he stationed in Kynesgrove? Where is he stationed? What's the name of this so-called cousin of yours?"

"My cousin's name is Hjaldir, sir! He's stationed in Kynesgrove." The guard shouted.

"Well, he needs you over there right now. Urgent family matter. Don't worry, I'll see that your captain knows I sent you."

"Thank you, sir!" Said the guard.

"Heh. Thanks for the boat." Said Skavild.

He rowed the boat back across as nonchalently as possible, but he couldn't stop his eyes darting up to the walls of Windhelm.

The guards saw him all right, but all they saw was a Stormcloak in uniform rowing a boat over the river into the fog, and a Stormcloak in uniform rowing back out again.

But Skavild still waited in the boat for a few moments, waiting for a clear path to the sewers. For strategic reasons I can't show you where they are.

Ugh. He thought, once underground. Just cleaned the drains, my backside.

It was dark and even with a lantern, Skavild could see no sign of Arki. Or his bags.

Silence and stealth wouldn't serve him here, he thought. Arki had worked it all out. So Skavild tried undignified pleading instead.

"Arki, I know this doesn't look good, and normally I'd say you were doing the right thing."

He heard footsteps on a staircase and followed the sound. "Can you hear me, Arki? Come on, just hand over the bags. I can explain everything. Them bags aren't yours."

"Take them! Just take the bags!" Said the Dunmer.

"What th- These aren't my bags. And you're not Arki. These bags are full of skooma. The bags I'm looking for are full of poison."

"Please don't hurt me, sir! I wasn't selling it!"

"Yes you were, and that's no way to make a living. You can be on your way. I'll be holding onto this skooma, though." Said Skavild.

"All right, Arki. Come back here with those bags and I'll only hit you over the head a little bit."

He climbed one staircase and went down another, and arrived in a warren of ancient underground canals.

"Oh, gods." Said Skavild. "This is all my fault."

"You poor stupid nitwit, Arki. Never eat a Thalmor picnic."

Skavild picked up his knapsack from where the fallen warrior had dropped it, and also Eldaline's knapsack, and quickly checked that all the documents were accounted for. Then, muttering: "I'm a bad man, I'm a bad man, I know, I know." he replaced them with the bag he had confiscated from the Dunmer.

And he darted around the corner into an alcove. Not a moment too soon, for he heard voices approaching.

"By the gods!" One shouted. "It was Arki who tricked the guard and stole his boat!"

"It all makes sense!" Said another. "Look at all this! He was the dreaded skooma baron of the Grey Quarter all along!"

"That means he was probably the Butcher of Windhelm as well!" Said a third voice.

"Three crimes solved in one evening. Good work, lads." Said the first. "Let's go and have a drink."

"I'm a bad man." Repeated Skavild.

"Did you catch up with Arki?" Said Aeslaf.

"Nope." Said Skavild.

"Well, no damn wonder, brother, 'cause he's dead. You won't believe this. He was a powerful skooma baron!"

"Is that so?"

"And an Imperial spy, a Thalmor spy, and a Forsworn agent."

"All of those?" Said Skavild.

"He was double-crossing 'em all. And it turns out, they caught the Butcher of Windhelm. Guess who it was."

"I can't guess."

"Arki!" Said Aeslaf.

"Well I never." Said Skavild.

"It gets better." Said another Stormcloak warrior. "You know the Dark Brotherhood? Well, he was their leader! Listener, it's called. Bet you didn't know that."

"And Prince of the Thieves' Guild. And the Champion of Boethiah." Said Aeslaf.

"I'm not sure a normal person could be all of those things at once." Said Skavild. "He wouldn't have time."

"That's 'cause he was a vampire." Said the other Stormcloak. "I heard he was bringing dragons back from the dead."

"You think you know someone." Said Skavild.

To be continued