“Maven Black-Briar wants to see you right away,” Brynjolf told Selene one afternoon as she passed through the cistern after a job.
Selene’s eyes widened. “What’d I do?”
He chuckled. “It’s nothing like that, I assure you. She wants to talk business.”
“What kind of business?”
“That’s between you and Maven, and I prefer to keep it that way. I wouldn’t keep her waiting, though.”
Selene had played in the Ratway once as a child after sneaking out of the orphanage with an older boy when Grelod wasn’t looking. She had enjoyed navigating the dark tunnels, throwing rocks at skeevers, and hiding from vagrants. The boy had even managed to pickpocket a bum lying in a corner. She had earned the beating of her life, and it was probably the stupidest thing she had ever done, but it certainly wasn’t the last dank labyrinth she’d explore. In fact, if not for that adventure, she might never have escaped Honorhall, because it had given her the idea of escaping permanently. She tried to think of the boy’s name as she drew her daggers and pushed open the door to the sewer—Victor, Viper, something with a V. She wondered what had ever happened to him.
Selene arrived at the Palace of the Kings late in the afternoon on her second day of travel and went straight to her room, plopping down on her bed. Liska was like an excited puppy, jumping into her lap and licking her face, practically squealing with joy. Selene hugged the fox and stroked her fur affectionately. “I missed you too, little one.”
The door burst open and Ulfric barged in, his face ashen and dark circles under his eyes. Selene set Liska on the floor and stood up, and he stalked across the room and took her face in his hands, kissing her almost desperately before wrapping his arms around her. “Where were you? I thought I’d—we’d—lost you.”
A courier came the next day with a satchel of intelligence reports. A couple of Ulfric’s other operatives had infiltrated Understone Keep in Markarth and one of the Imperial camps, and they had obtained loads of secret information. Selene’s job over the next fortnight was to cull through the pages, summarize, and figure out a way to use the data to their advantage. Unfortunately there wasn’t much in the way of useful information because most of the plans and schedules were out of date. After listening to an angry tirade from Ulfric about the speed—or lack thereof—of correspondence from The Reach, Selene found two items that were not time sensitive. Buried amid a long list of notes the spy had written about miscellaneous goings on in Understone Keep was a note questioning the loyalties of Raerek, the jarl’s steward. Though he was unfailingly loyal to Jarl Igmund, who was his nephew, there were hints that Raerek secretly worshiped Talos.
Although she would have been glad to sleep in the barracks, Jorleif set Selene up in a luxurious suite on one of the palace’s upper floors. He did everything he could to make sure she and Liska were comfortable and even assigned a servant to take care of the fox when Selene was away. She spent the next few weeks forcing herself to relax, although she did venture into the wilderness a couple of times, once to kill a dragon and once with a shield-brother to take care of a bandit problem for Jorleif. It was good to get out of the palace; relaxation was not for her, and she got bored easily.