Erandur, sure - he's friendly, interesting, and complex, with an intriguing backstory and a lot of dialogue. There's a reason I have a partly-finished story about him in my WIPs.
But Ondolemar? The leader of the Thalmor Justiciars, whose job is to arrest people for their faith? The arrogant religious fanatic Elven supremacist with just a handful of spoken lines and NO backstory beyond what we can guess from his rank? WTF?
It's Tumblr and YouTube's fault. They introduced me to a few voice lines I'd never heard before, because I'd never helped him arrest a guy for worshiping Talos.
After the hostility, condescension, insults and murder attempts I'd gotten from pretty much every other Thalmor I'd ever encountered, I was surprised to find out that:
1. If you've helped him, Ondolemar greets you as "my friend," no matter what race you're playing as.
2. If you've helped him AND you have a high enough speech skill, you can get him to cause a distraction for you during a party. In the Thalmor Embassy, no less. He'll even lie to Elenwen for you.
3. When his distraction gets an innocent human in trouble, he'll immediately take the blame for the incident rather than get said human thrown out of the party, despite his belief in Elven superiority and his moon-sized ego.
This, and the fact that he seeks proof before arresting a "heretic", is a surprising contrast to the Justiciars who label you a heretic and try to kill you just because they don't like you.
(Sure, you could argue that he isn't legally ALLOWED to arrest Ogmund without proof, but the Thalmor have no problem trying to have the Dragonborn illegally assassinated, so clearly extralegal options aren't off the table for the people Ondolemar works for.)
4. Sometimes he'll comment, "There are so few pleasures in life as fine as your company" - once again, regardless of what race you are. And if you think it's because he's a skilled manipulator, clearly you haven't heard his other voice lines.
If you want a brutally honest opinion from a Thalmor officer about the Empire or the political situation, he's the place to find it. This dumbass has precious little filter between his mouth and brain.
5. Whether you've helped him or not, he is happy to chat with you, both in Markarth and at the party. He also seems very sincerely focused on the religious aspects of the Talos ban and the civil war, whereas the other Thalmor make me suspect that it's more of a means to a political end.
Combine all of that with my observation that Talos' shrines and amulets follow the same game mechanics as the implements of the divines that the Thalmor recognize, and it made me wonder what would happen if this unusually friendly Justiciar were to be told - VERY tactfully - about the evidence that his faction might be lying to him about a matter of religion.
Over a century of indoctrination, his whole self-flattering worldview, and the risk of being killed for questioning his totalitarian government, vs. the evidence. FIGHT.
When I first started writing, I'd expected it to be one quick conversation that I just wanted to get out of my head and onto the screen. But then it grew. And grew.
I saw a picture of Ondolemar being captured, and I felt that would bring a great new level of emotional tension to the story. So I added it in.
While I was writing a scene in which Ondolemar tried to defend his point of view, I realized I was knocking down a strawman. So I looked deeper into the lore about the Thalmor and their rationale and goals. And the story grew some more.
Next thing I knew, I'd written almost 35,000 words about a character I never thought I'd give a crap about, and gotten into his head far deeper and more effortlessly than I'd ever thought I would. And the story was still growing.
I never would have guessed that he'd be a character who practically wrote himself, but he is, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing him.
Now the story is finally done, and you can read it on this website here.
And you can read it on Archive of Our Own here.