I found that the warrens were occupied by three madmen other than Esbern: Salvianus, the Imperial Legionnaire whom the Great War drove insane; Knjakr, the Sweeney Todd-like chef; and Hefid the Deaf, a poor beggar woman who mutters a kind of OCD litany. Salvianus, while clearly insane, was a gentle soul who only wanted to try to explain the hopelessness he felt, so I listened to him as long as I could before moving on. Knjakr attacked me the moment I tried to speak with him, so I had to kill him in self-defense. Hefid, however, presented me with an unexpected challenge.
When I interrupted Hefid's incessant listing of common objects, she completely freaked out, drew a dagger, and ran away from me. I would have been happy to let her go, but for one problem: she ran straight to Esbern's door and continued to brandish her weapon no matter what I did. When I tried to talk, she didn't respond, preferring instead to throw herself at the heavily bolted door to Esbern's room.
I now had a real dilemma on my hands. Opening Esbern's door (assuming I could do so), would send an armed madwoman into the deadbolted cell of a paranoid ex-Blade. At best, he kills her, and probably attacks me as an accomplice. At worst, she kills him, and the last remaining hope to defeat Alduin is gone. Because I could not think of a scenario which didn't end with her death, I decided to kill her as quickly and mercifully as possible.
After gaining Esbern's trust and hearing his tale, we set out to find Delphine. We didn't take two steps outside his door before we were set upon by more Thalmor agents. We killed them, but poor Salvianus got caught in the crossfire -- his worst nightmare finally coming true. I paid my respects, then escorted Esbern back to Riverwood.
I don't feel good about killing Hefid, but once I had spoken to her, I don't see how I could have avoided it. A quick FUS might have pushed her aside, but would probably also have provoked her to attack me. Furthermore, even if she had survived the initial encounter, what would have happened during the fight with the Thalmor? And, if I'm being completely honest here, what kind of life did she have, tormented by her obsessive list in her dank, dark cell? Might she be better off dead?
|"Knife. Yes. Book. Yes. Bucket. Yes. Inkpot? No." R.I.P. Hefid the Deaf|