Me: So let me see if I have the gist of this plan straight. You have secured an invitation to some swanky wine and cheese party at that Thalmor embassy.
Me: You want me to use that to infiltrate said embassy.
Me: But before that, you want me to journey to Solitude to meet with another one of your agents, Malborn, who is currently working as a servant in said embassy.
Me: When I meet with him, I'm to give him any equipment I think I might need and he'll smuggle it inside the embassy.
Me: Once that is done, I'm to meet with you, where you will give me my invitation, a fancy outfit for the aforementioned swanky party and deliver me, by carriage, to the aforementioned embassy.
Me: Once there, having gotten into the party, I am to create some sort of distraction, sneak off in the confusion, retrieve the equipment I had smuggled in and search the embassy for evidence that the Thalmor are behind the dragons being awakened and set upon Skyrim.
Me: This is somehow, for reasons that have not been explained to me, preferable to my using the vast array of illusion magic available, to say nothing of my own not inconsiderable talents for stealth and getting into dangerous, heavily guarded-places where I'm not supposed to be, to simply break into said embassy like a -pardon the expression - common thief.
Delphine: Yes. You have it perfectly.
Me: Okay. I do have one question.
Me: If you already have a man on the inside who is free to travel all the way from the Thalmor embassy to Solitude, who is also capable of smuggling all 300 pounds of my arms, armor, potions and various other bits of adventuring equipment into the embassy, why not just have him look for the evidence and smuggle it out?
Delphine: Err... he is too valuable a resource for us to risk being discovered!
Me: More valuable than your Chosen One? Kin of Dragons? Eater of Souls? Beater of Ass?
Delphine: Well...no. But we only have the one fancy outfit and it is in your size.
Me: ... can I keep the fancy outfit after I'm done with this?
Delphine: I suppose so.
TWO DAYS LATER...
Elenwen: Welcome. I don't believe we've met. I am Elenwen, the Thalmoe Ambassador to Skyrim.Me: I am King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda.
Elenwen: Really? The only Breton I have on our guest list is a fellow named Matthias the Bastard...Me: Ah. Yes, that is me. I was just joking just now.
Elenwen: Indeed. That's a very unusual surname. "the Bastard".Me: Yes, it's an original. I had it changed.
Elenwen: You had your family name changed TO "the Bastard"?
Me: Well, it used to be de Faquwad.
Elenwen: My, how amusing. Well, if you'll excuse me I must find someone else to talk to. Perhaps those guards over there. Do enjoy yourself... for however long you have left.
Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone: I did not expect to see you here, young Thane..
Me: Ah... yes... uh... uh.
Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone: Jarl Ravencrone? You saved my city from vampires?
Me: Oh yes! I remember now.
Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone: Oh, I suppose I cannot fault your forgetting. You do help so many, after all. But bold as you are, Dragonborn, I cannot help but think you foolish for attempting to sneak into the Thalmor embassy using a false name so close to your true one. Even in the far north, the Thalmor have heard tales of "The Bather Of Riverwood".
Me: That's not my fault! One of the Blades got me an invitation so I could look for evidence of the Thalmor corruption. She might have told me that there was a guest list that had... an obvious alias on it.Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone: Yes. If this is the Blades idea of subterfuge, this explains why their order is dying.
Me: Tell me about it. I don't suppose you could aid me, your Jarlness? Create some sort of distraction?
Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone: For you, oh Thane of Thanes? Of course. Just let me get to the center of the room and then you do what needs doing.
Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone: Quail, people of Skyrim!.
Elenwen: No, I think that's turkey and beef on the kabobs.
Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone: Repent! Repent! Rue! Rue! The hour of the awakening is upon us! Beware the serpent in your midst! Beware, oh people of Skyrim!Elenwen: By the Eight, what now?!
Malborn: Psst! Matthias! Back here behind the bar!
Me: And... out.
THREE HOURS OF SKULKING AROUND CORNERS, DODGING GUARDS AND GLANCING THROUGH EVERY BOOK IN THE EMBASSY LATER...
Me: Ugh. I've checked every single office and library in this godsforsaken building, and nearly used up all my invisibility potions trying to stay undetected. The only place left is in the basement. But what are the chances they'd keep sensitive intelligence down there?
Rulindil: And you are sure this Esbern is hiding in the sewers of Riften?
Etienne Ramis: I know A Esbern is hiding in the sewers of Riften. He could be the Esbern you are looking for. He's old and seemed kinda crazy. That's all I know.
Rulindil: Indeed? Then I have no further reason to keep you alive. Torturer, finish him.
Me: *muttered* Oh, HELL no!
Etienne Rarnis: Eh? Who are you?
Me: The guy who just saved your ass. I'm also, potentially, the guy who is going to kill your ass depending on what you say next.
Etienne Rarnis: Bah! You wouldn't save me from the Thalmor only to kill me yourself.
Me: Do you REALLY want to test me on that?
Etienne Rarnis: ... what do you want?
Me: Information. Who is this Esbern and why do the Thalmor want him so bad?
Etienne Rarnis: No idea.. but the Esbern I know is this man who lives in the Ratway in Riften. They wrote down everything I told them in that book there.
Me: Hmm... interesting. Better grab that and these other volumes. Let's see... blah blah blah... loremaster of the Blades... blah blah blah... believed to be hiding in Skyrim.... blah blah blah... great knowledge of dragon lore. May know why dragons are being brought back to life now. Huh. Guess the Thalmor are innocent after all.
Thalmor Agent: Listen up, spy!
Thalmor Agent: We know you are down there and we have your accomplice! Surrender immediately or you both die.
Me: Just keep talking, elfie... it will give me time to draw a bead.
Me: Malborn, are you alright?
Malborn: No, I'm not.
Me: You look healthy enough to me.
Malborn: For now. But the Thalmor will be hunting me for the rest of my life. I sure hope this was worth it.
Me: You know, I DID just save your life...
Malborn: And what kind of life is that? To be on the run forever, living in fear?
Me: Oh, I can solve that problem for you easily enough.
Malborn: Oh really? How?!
Me: Right. You. Get up. Any idea how to get out of this place?
Etienne Rarnis: Come on, this way. I've seen the guards use it to get rid of bodies. It must lead somewhere.
Me: Somewhere besides a dank, smelly cave full of rotting corpses, you mean?
Etienne Rarnis: Well, I heard the roars of some great beasty coming from it.
Me: That's hardly comforting.
Etienne Rarnis: Ah, but it is so big it couldn't possibly have fit in through that trap door, which means it must have gone in there from somewhere outside.
Me: Right. Tell you what -as you've not smelt fresh air in longer, I'm going to let you go on to freedom first.
Etienne Rarnis: That's awfully generous of you.
Me: Well, that's why I'm a hero.