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> Clark in Skyrim, A continued report from across the border.
ghastley
post Sep 12 2014, 12:10 AM
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If mALX is back, then Clark should return too.

We left him in Evergloam at the beginning of the 4th Era, where Nocturnal had just inducted him and Minx as Nightingales, to join Dralsi. The two other members of the first trinity had been slain by Ogrim the Restless, who was the original occupant of the cave complex that became the Twilight Sepulchre.

He's about 225 years old now. Nocturnal and Azura made him immortal, rather than risk having to train a new one. He retired as a Nightingale some time ago, and went back into business managing brothels, and other enterprises that remain profitable in times of war. Much of the other intervening history should emerge as this unfolds.

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Part 1 - Over the border

"So Gilda, have you been into Skyrim before?" Clark asked the young woman sitting next to him. Ahead of them, the horse plodded onward, pulling Clark's carriage along the road towards Helgen. He gave the reins a jiggle, but the horse's gait didn't change. It only knew slow and steady.

Gilda wasn't really paying attention. She was busy looking at the scenery, which is why Clark had asked. "Oh, what? No, I barely got a mile from our farm before now. Mother didn't like me wandering off; she was scared I'd run into bandits."

"Is that how your nose got broken?" Clark guessed.

"Yes, the one time I did get away, she turned out to be right. When the bandits found out I didn't have anything valuable, they ... well, you can imagine what they had in mind. I gave the first one who tried anything my knee, and he did that in return. The others didn't stop me when I ran off, they were too busy laughing at our discomfort."

"How long ago was that? It looks like it's been that way for a while."

"About five months, I think. One day was much like another at our farm, and I lost track of time. I can't thank you enough for getting me away from there."

Clark wasn't sure what had made him offer to take her with him. He did need a new apprentice, that was true, but why he'd suddenly decided it could be her was beyond him. It wasn't her looks, for certain. Apart from her nose, she had crooked teeth, and looked like she never ate anything. Her mother was the exact opposite, so it was clear where all the food went in that household. She was wearing one of her mother's hand-me-down dresses, which fit her like a sack.

But he'd stopped at the farm for directions when he left Bruma, and she'd caught his eye. Before he knew it, he'd told her mother she could have a good career as a merchant's apprentice, hinting that she might be able to send some of her earnings home.

And if she'd persuaded him to do that, she probably had some speech talent, so she might work out well. He'd need to heal her nose, and fix her teeth first, and that would need more magicka than he had. Once he got to Whiterun, he'd be able to use the Alchemy lab at his house to make some fortification potions, but until then he couldn't do anything.

"We'll be in Helgen before long," he told her. "It's just over there, where you can see the smoke rising..." Clark's voice trailed off, as he realised that there shouldn't be that much smoke. Something had apparently set part of the town on fire, if not all of it.

They soon met a ragged bunch of imperial soldiers coming the other way, telling of a dragon attack on the town. Clark didn't think there were any dragons in Tamriel.

"Nor did we, until that one swooped down on us," the legionary told him. "We were preparing an execution for Ulfric Stormcloak and some of his men, when it was interrupted by a blast of magic. Threw everyone around like dolls. We'd heard that Ulfric could use the Thu'um like that, so we had him gagged, but a beast that size doing it was something else entirely."

"General Tullius and the Thalmor Ambassador were there too," one of the other men put in. "We have no idea if they got out."

Nobody knew if it was safe to try passing through. There were trails to Falkreath that might be preferable, as long as you weren't hauling anything heavy.

"But watch out for bandits if you go that way," another soldier advised. "That applies any time you leave the main roads in Skyrim."

Clark had heard much the same from legionaries in Cyrodiil. In his opinion, the roads weren't any safer than any other route, just better paved. He let his horse continue down the road.

Helgen was deserted when they got there. Most of the population seemed to be lying dead in the streets, scorched by the dragon's breath. Anyone alive had presumably fled, and the dragon itself was nowhere around. Clark decided to continue down into Riverwood and let them know what had happened. If the dragon didn't attack there next, of course.

---

Riverwood was intact, but they'd seen the dragon fly over. Gerdur, the mill-owner, told Clark that her brother Ralof had escaped from Helgen, and she thought that Hadvar, the legionary from the town, had too. Ralof had brought a stranger with him, and she'd gone on to Whiterun to warn the Jarl.

Clark knew from his earlier trips that Ralof was a Stormcloak, and he asked Gerdur if he'd been one of the men the soldiers had mentioned as due for execution. Ralof hadn't mentioned that part, just that he'd escaped from the dragon. But now it made sense why Hadvar had been there at the same time. "I'll make sure Ralof stays well hidden," she told Clark.

She turned back to what she'd been doing when they arrived. "When the dragon flew over, I was so startled, I dropped this firewood I'd just split in the river. I was trying to dry it out with a flare spell, but it looks like I'll just have to split some more."

"There's an easier way, you know," Clark told her. He took one of the pieces of firewood and stood it on a stump. "Cast a frost spell on it," he told Gerdur. She did so, until Clark told her to stop. "Now dispel the ice"

Gerdur didn't know that spell, so Clark taught it to her. "Now try the flare."

The wood caught immediately, and she quickly dispelled the flames. "I hardly used any magicka doing that. It was a lot easier than the way I was trying."

"Right, especially as the frost comes easily to you. Here, I'll help you finish these."

"You make it look so easy," Gerdur told him. "Are you sure you're an Imperial, not a Breton?"

"It's all practice, not magicka reserves," he told her. "It looks easy because I'm using less magicka than you would. Just like you know how to roll a log instead of doing it the hard way by lifting. But some spells are beyond my normal reach. That's why I have to wait until I get to Whiterun before I can heal Gilda's nose."

Gerdur noticed Gilda for the first time. "I can help her with a good meal, and you too. I owe you for that firewood trick."

"I hoped you might. Cooking is where you show your skill."

---

"Looking at her, I expected she had no appetite," Gerdur whispered to Clark. "But she's on her third helping of the stew already."

Clark told Gerdur that he suspected her mother had been starving her. Whether that was to keep her thin, or just because the mother ate all the food, he didn't know, but the mother was really fat. "She didn't think enough of Gilda to get her teeth straightened, so I doubt she had any positive feelings for her."

"If Gilda eats like that all the time, she might take after her," Gerdur warned.

"I don't expect she will. I'll get Lydia to look after her, and she'll keep her fit, not fat."

Lydia was Clark's housecarl in Whiterun. She'd been part of the deal when Jarl Balgruuf made Clark a Thane of the city, for his services to its people. He'd forgotten what he'd done for them; nothing major, just a lot of small things that added up. And the Jarl had noticed his effect on the local economy. Even the Khajiiti caravan that camped outside the gates seemed to be more prosperous after Clark had arrived.

They'd be at his house, Breezehome, by the end of the day, if there weren't any problems on the road.

---

"Oh, It's you, Thane," the guard at the gate knew Clark, even if he didn't know the girl. "Is she with you? I have orders to keep strangers out, with dragons sighted in the area."

Clark vouched for Gilda, and the guard opened the gate for them.

"That's a new development," Clark remarked. "The only ones not allowed in before were the Khajiit traders. They have an unjustified reputation as thieves. Well, maybe it's partly justified, but they're not the worst. They just have a more sharing attitude to property than the Nords are accustomed to, and it's often misinterpreted."

---

"What have you got in the sack?" Lydia asked.

"That's not a nice thing to say," Clark admonished. "Even if that is a good description of her outfit. This is Gilda, my new apprentice, and we'll be exchanging that 'sack' for something better-fitting as soon as we can. She's about your height, so is there something in the wardrobe she can try on?"

"You know I only keep a few changes of armour. If you're looking for a dress, you're probably out of luck."

"Leather armour might be more comfortable, if it fits."

Gilda took a look in the wardrobe, but there weren't any dresses, and the leather was loose, even with the straps tightened all the way. She put the "sack" back on, and tied the string back around her waist.

"We have to go to Belethor's in the morning anyway. We'll find you something then. Come out to the back room while I brew up some potions, and then I'll see what I can do about your nose," Clark told her.

Lydia was already back at the cookpot, stirring up some food. She could see that the poor girl needed feeding, even if Clark couldn't.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Oct 2 2014, 07:52 PM


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Acadian
post Sep 12 2014, 01:39 PM
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How delightful to see Clark made it to Skyrim! And it seems he’s done well for himself. I loved how you opened with a wagonride – like the game does, then flirt with the early game events. It makes the story feel very comfortable but different at the same time. You also did a fine job of ‘showing’ us what Clark has been up to with the manner in which you introduced his occupation as merchant/Thane.

I got a nice chuckle over his firewood drying technique. wink.gif

"What have you got in the sack?" Lydia asked.’ -- This was priceless, and Lydia at her best! laugh.gif


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haute ecole rider
post Sep 12 2014, 04:28 PM
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I find that Lydia is a bit of a whiner in-game, but good with the cook pot. I also like how she says things in that superciliously sarcastic manner that only Lydia can pull off.

I'm with Acadian in how I enjoyed the start with the wagon ride then the divergence from Beth's beginning. I loved that Clark somehow took on the "sack" and gave her a job away from her doughnut-eating mom!


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Grits
post Sep 12 2014, 05:20 PM
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I love how you used the familiar Helgen opening but sidestepped your characters getting involved. That was excellent!

"What have you got in the sack?" Lydia asked.

laugh.gif Perfect.

Yay for Clark’s adventures in Skyrim!!


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SubRosa
post Sep 15 2014, 03:06 PM
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"It's just over there, where you can see the smoke rising..."
Uh oh...

As the others have said, it is nice to have an introduction to Skyrim that does not include the Empire trying to kill the protagonist for change. The 4th Era Empire might be more likeable, if not for that habit they have of trying to chop off everyone's heads...

Neat to hear that Ralof and "some mysterious stranger" came through Riverwood. That is a nice way of establishing that Clark is not the Dagonborn Dragonborn, but keeping the events of the main quest going in the background at the same time.

I loved the sack remark as well. It took me a few moments to realize Lydia meant Gilda, though! laugh.gif


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Darkness Eternal
post Sep 16 2014, 07:53 PM
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Great. Nice. I can now see Clark and company in Skyrim. I have read some of his adventure in the other book, particularly his involvement with the Daedra and visiting Moonshadow. I'll be here to stay, Ghast.


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And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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ghastley
post Sep 16 2014, 09:50 PM
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Acadian: Clark may have learned from Thernd. Practical magic is what appeals most.

haute: Sweetrolls, not doughnuts. But if they had a deep-fryer in Skyrim, they'd be doughnuts. laugh.gif

Grits: Lydia's going to be a character character, if you know what I mean.

SubRosa: Clark is never the main character of the game, he just reports on the events, and gets involved in the peripheral quests. Hopefully, by the end of this, they'll be ones from my mods.

DE: This will make quite a few references back to the Cyrodiil part. Good that you've been there.

All: I'm off to Merry Olde England for a couple of weeks, and probably won't get much internet, so this piece is a bit early, and the next will be a bit late.

----------------------

Previously Clark has picked up a new apprentice in Cyrodiil - a skinny young woman with a broken nose and crooked teeth. He's taken her back to his home in Whiterun.

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Part 2 - Whiterun

"Do you know any alchemy?" Clark asked. "If not, I'll explain the properties of each ingredient as I go."

"Only a little," Gilda replied. "We didn't have any equipment for it, but I'd learned about a few things I could eat to cure diseases or poison. And I know that wheat will restore my health, if I can ever hide it from my mother."

"Well, what I need to make is Fortify Restoration and Fortify Magicka potions. There aren't any ingredients with both effects, so I'll have to make separate potions. Longfin and Salt for Restoration, and Jazbay Grapes and Ectoplasm for Magicka." Clark made her watch how he ground and mixed the ingredients, and used the alembic to refine the mixture. "Now you try. Your potions won't be as strong as I can make, but you'll get there with practice."

He let her make a few more potions that she'd find useful. She wondered how he knew the recipes for some of them. Wouldn't only a woman need those? And did teaching her that last one mean anything? Not that she'd object. He was a kind, good-looking man, and she owed him for everything.

"Sit down in that chair," he instructed her, and he drank the two potions he'd made. "Now hold still for a few moments. This is a relatively simple procedure, because you don't have any nose muscles to pull it back out of shape. That means I don't need to use paralysis, as well."

Clark was already squeezing and bending her broken nose back to where it should be as he spoke. He didn't have much time before the potions' effect wore off, and he wanted to do a good job the first time. "There, that does it. Take a look at yourself, and see what you think."

Gilda looked puzzled. How can anyone look at their own face? But Clark was holding something out to her. Something shiny and polished. It was a mirror, the first she'd ever seen. And when she held it right, her own face was reflected. That brought out a smile, but the sight of her teeth made it disappear just as quickly.

"I'd better straighten those teeth, too. Hand me the potions you made. This won't take as much magicka as the nose."

A few minutes later, she had a smile that was worth seeing. Her face was still gaunt, but well-proportioned, and with a bit of Lydia's cooking to fill out her cheeks, she could be quite pretty.

"Soup's ready" Lydia's voice called from the kitchen, as if on cue.

---

The soup was just the first course. Lydia had prepared grilled salmon steaks, potatoes, and leeks, and there were sweetrolls to follow. After all the stew she'd eaten at lunch, Clark didn't expect Gilda to finish it all, but he saw her reach for a second sweetroll. Lydia noticed, too.

"I expect you'll want me to help her with her weapons training and fitness," she asked Clark. "If I don't, she'll be filling that sack before long."

Gilda looked horrified at the thought, and took a long second look at the sweetroll she was eating. But she ate it anyway, took a swig of the wine to wash it down, and burped contentedly. "I think I'll know when to stop," she told them.

---

After another bottle of wine, they were ready for sleep. Lydia took Gilda upstairs. "This is my bed, but you can have it tonight," she told her.

"Where will you be sleeping?"

"I'll work something out," the housecarl replied with a wink.

---

"I really thought you'd lost all your taste in women when you came in with that one," Lydia told Clark, "but she's a lot prettier now you've fixed her face. Or she will be when she's got some meat on her. So do you want me to train her hard like a fighter, or softer like a whore?"

Clark ran his hands appreciatively over Lydia's naked body. "You know I like both kinds, and I've got a fighter already, and more whores than I can handle. So let her decide. She's going to train as a merchant, and that needs a bit of both. I have no idea what weapons she knows, if any, and that might make a difference, too. You need to be lighter and faster for one-handed, compared with two-handed, and archers need all their strength in their arms."

"But you like strong thighs, don't you?" Lydia reminded him.

---

Clark took Gilda into the market after breakfast the next day. He needed to check with Belethor about the Mammoth Tusks he'd asked him to find, and now he needed a dress or two for Gilda.

The Breton trader had a dozen tusks, more than Clark had expected. And the price didn't seem to be any lower, despite the supply. Clark didn't mind too much, and just made sure he got a better deal on the dresses. Belethor had a style that laced up, so it would fit her now, and could just be slackened off as she filled out. Clark bought one of each colour, and some nice boots to go with them.

Then they went next door, to Arcadia's, to restock Clark's alchemy lab. Clark sold a few potions, too, which let him pay for some Alchemy lessons for Gilda. He let her haggle with Arcadia over the potions she'd made last night. Clark was pleased to note that she got a fair price, even before he'd started training her in that skill.

The smithy was the other side of Breezehome so they checked in with Lydia to see what weapons Gilda would need to train with. Lydia already had a few stowed away, but she told Clark to get the best dagger Warmaiden's had. A merchant should always carry a good dagger.

---

Clark left Gilda with Lydia while he went to Warmaiden's. When he came back, Gilda was wearing one of the new dresses, and the two women were ceremonially burning her old one in the firepit, to mark the end of her old life. Gilda looked a little less starved in her new outfit, but she was still way too thin for Clark's liking. Still, her hips and shoulders weren't too narrow. If she could fill out her frame, she had promise.

She could make a start on that while he was away in Markarth. He had to go and negotiate with the Jarl, and the Guild of Prostitutes, for a permit to open a new brothel outside the city. There were a number of mines in the area, and the workers would need somewhere to relax. He had little expectation of taking over the one inside the walls, at least not yet. The Silver-Blood family had a stranglehold on trade inside Markarth, and that would have to be broken first. They were cunningly playing off everyone's fears of the Forsworn to keep out all outsiders, and Clark hadn't found a way to remove himself from that category.

"Aren't you taking either of us with you?" Lydia wanted to know. Clark had revealed to her long ago that Nocturnal and Azura had made him immortal, so she knew he wasn't going to get killed. But he still needed someone to protect him from injury and pain, and that was her job. And if he didn't need protection, shouldn't he be taking Gilda along for the experience?

"No, I need to negotiate with the Guild, and their officials are always women. I'll do better alone."

"Jarl Igmund's a man, don't you need help with him?" Lydia persisted.

"You'd only get into a fight with Faleen again. And Gilda's not ready for that level of work yet." Clark didn't have to explain what he meant by that. "Besides, the Jarl's almost on my side already. He's not one of the Silver-Bloods, and I think he resents their influence."

---

Clark departed for Markarth the following morning in his carriage. Lydia was still asleep when he left, and Gilda found her sprawled across Clark's bed when she went looking for her. "Isn't sleeping with the boss a bit unethical?" she asked her.

"No, it's fun! You should try it, once you've got something to offer. You won't get anything from him that way except experience, but that's valuable, too. You'll learn a lot from my Thane."

"I need to learn from you, first. Clark said you'd teach me weapon skills."

"I can make a start on that, and at least find out what you'll be good at, but I'll need to hand you over to a proper trainer, once I do. The main things I'll be doing are to help you practice, and keep you fit."

This post has been edited by ghastley: Oct 2 2014, 07:58 PM


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Acadian
post Sep 17 2014, 03:21 PM
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Have a great trip to the UK!

Nice explanation and details of how Clark uses alchemy. His foray into cosmetic plastic surgery and restorative orthodontics turned out well, it seems! I loved Gilda's reaction to what was obviously her first encounter with a mirror.

Gilda’s probably in good hands with Lydia, and it looks like she’s a pretty good fit for the merchant trade.


Nit: ...Clark was holding out something out to her.' - - Using 'out' here twice is redundant and probably unintentional. Maybe take a look at dropping one?


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haute ecole rider
post Sep 17 2014, 04:25 PM
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First the nit:

QUOTE
He let her haggle with Arcadia over the poitions she'd made last night.
There's an extra 'i' in there.

Now the review:
I liked how this story incorporates two different kinds of female roles one tends to see in stories of this ilk. I also enjoyed the use of alchemy to perform cosmetic surgery. I bet Clark has different fees than the Face Changer in Riften?

This has to be my favorite line:
QUOTE
You'd only get into a fight with Faleen again.
This hints at a history that has already happened, and places the relationship between Lydia and the other NPC's in a clearer light.


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Grits
post Sep 18 2014, 08:42 PM
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I hope you have a great trip!

I love how Clark explains everything as he’s fixing up Gilda. I expect his interactions with her will be full of teachable moments.

Fun to imagine Lydia mixing it up with Faleen. biggrin.gif


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ghastley
post Oct 1 2014, 04:36 PM
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Grits: It was a good trip. Mother's 86th birthday, and nephew's 16th a week apart. English weather cooperated for once.
Clark will explain a lot of things to Gilda, and to others in this one.

haute: I'd had Taminwe and Ocato change Clark's face after his faked death in the Oblivion series, so having him boost his skills to do something less to Gilda made sense. He wouldn't have the magicka that two Altmer could muster.
Faleen always struck me as over-protective of the Jarl, and Lydia just has too much attitude, so I'd expect friction if they got together. It was also a useful way to point out that Clark has been to Markarth before.

Acadian: The reason they don't have mirrors in the game is that they're a complete pain for the rendering system, but I didn't see any problem with a small hand-mirror. They'd need to be solid silver for their technology, and require regular polishing to work. I'm thinking that Clark might get involved in the invention of the silvered glass variety at some point in this story, so I'm introducing them early.

---------------

Previously Clark has fixed Gilda's nose and teeth, and left her with Lydia for training. He's gone to Markarth alone to see about starting a new brothel there. It's by no means his first visit, and he already knows a number of the people there.

This part is mainly to connect the current tale to the old one, and fill in a bit of what happened in between.

---------------

Part 3 - Markarth

"My brother and I are among the few that still use the patronymic," Gorza gra-Bagol was telling Clark. "Most Orcs are living in the strongholds these days, where everyone's the same family, and it's obvious who your father is."

"Or roaming around the wilderness as a bandit," her brother Moth concurred. "Those Orcs don't want anyone to know about their family origins."

"But we persuaded our father to let us join the legion," Gorza continued. "The Orcs owe them something for bringing us to safety after the sack of Nova Orsinium. At least, that was our pitch, and he bought it. So we use his name from pride, and gratitude for our freedom. If I'd stayed in the strongholds, I'd probably have ended up as some lowly chief's third wife by now."

She didn't need to point out that she wouldn't have had the choice of which chief it was. Clark was quite familiar with Orc society, and how it had changed after Orsinium fell.

He'd lost touch with Uzgash when that happened. He knew she'd escaped, as he'd had one last transmission on the flash telegraph about a couple of days after it happened. She, and their young son, were on their way to the Wrothgarians, where Ulicetta's hideout was. Presumably the apparatus had broken after that, as he never received another transmission. They were fragile, and not suited to use on the run.

Gorza was telling them how using her father's name helped her feel part of the tribe still, even though they were living in Markarth. "But what's going to help you remember your mother? Women's names don't get used that way."

Clark disagreed. He pointed out that Gortwog's children had all gone by the name gro- or gra-Marghak, after their mother. "She was a Guild head, after all. It was a name to be proud of."

She was surprised that Clark knew that. Orcs themselves recalled little of that period, remembering only the disaster of the sack. Perhaps that was because most of their records were destroyed at the time. She'd done some delving back into her own past, using Understone Keep's archives, but that's where her research had hit a wall. "I know we're descended from one of Gortwog's daughters, the middle one, but I haven't found out her name. And I'd read about Marghak, but didn't know she was her mother. That's another step closer to our past, and I'm grateful."

"Her name was Uzgash, and I'm even more pleased than you are. My own research has been from the opposite end, and you've just closed an important gap for me, too. The Empire has surviving records, but they don't cover the Orcish diaspora, and there are only details of Gortwog's family because of dealings with the provincial court, and guilds."

"Do you know who Uzgash's husband was? The family's oral tradition says it wasn't an Orc."

"My investigations have suggested she didn't want his identity known. Perhaps, like her mother, she never married? Whatever her reasons, she seems to have maintained that secret. It certainly hasn't turned up in any books."

"You Imperials and your books! Thank you for bringing that one for my apprentice Tacitus, by the way. It does seem to have helped him understand what I'd been telling him about forging. Why he can't just watch what I'm doing and copy it, I don't understand. But he only gets it if it's written down!"

And thank you for changing the subject, Clark thought. "Has he read Cherim's Heart? It's a good companion to the one I brought you. I'll look out for a copy, if he hasn't."

---

"You're not from around here, are you?" Clark asked.

Velith Telvanni wasn't a Nord, but she wasn't exactly your average Dunmer, either. Her dark skin and white hair gave her a striking appearance on their own, and those breasts were just incredible. It wasn't their size, significant though they were, so much as the fact that they didn't droop in the slightest degree. Gravity just didn't seem to affect them. Her outfit was almost non-existant at the front, and certainly offered no physical support.

"You like them?" she asked, noticing Clark's gaze.

"Depends. Is Alteration or Illusion involved?" he replied. "They do look literally incredible."

"Which would you prefer?"

Clark had experience of both, and Illusion just left him feeling cheated. If she was only using Alteration to keep them supported, that would be perfect.

"Of course, I have used some Alteration magic, but just to regulate their growth. With my mother's guidance, too. I might have let them grow too much, without her restraint. I have enchantments on my clothing that helps keep them up. Especially the amulet, which I don't need to take off. I suspect that's what you noticed. Levitation is one of my family's specialities, and this much is legal, even in Cyrodiil."

A novel use, Clark thought, and one he should learn, if he got the chance.

"My mother and father are both Telvanni wizards, and are still in Morrowind. They moved nearer to Blacklight after the eruption of the Red Mountain, and are growing a new tower. That takes time, of course, and I came to Skyrim while it developed. Maybe I'll move back once there's room for me, maybe not. By that time, I might want a place of my own."

Clark knew what Dunmer maidens were like when they were young, and Velith, or Vicuña, as she preferred to be known, was clearly past the indiscriminate stage. She was into the much more enjoyable one where she had enough self-control to choose her partners, without blunting the desire. Which made her the perfect courtesan, and she knew it.

With her Telvanni intelligence, and magical skills, as well as that incredible body, she'd risen fast in the Guild's ranks. Like Marghak in the early years, she'd seen that the top jobs were jealously guarded and fought over, and had taken the less contested position of traveling inspector. She had enough autonomy to go where she chose, except when there was an inspection to make, and those were largely on her own schedule. The Guild had a bed for her, anywhere she went, and it was her decision whether to share it or not.

His dossier on her told him she usually did. She had a reputation as a hard bargainer, but most likely it was because of her use of her feminine methods of persuasion. It covered the visual impact of her appearance, although it failed to go into all the details Clark was noticing. Nowhere did it mention that she didn't shave, like most of her colleagues, but flashed a bright white tuft of pubic hair like a deer's tail. Clark had managed not to spend too long looking there.

She couldn't have (un)dressed like that on the streets, of course, but here in the Markarth brothel, she was free to flaunt everything, and distract Clark from his negotiations in any way she pleased.

She obviously had a dossier on him, too. She'd brought in wine from Skingrad, although it was only Surilie Brothers, and not the Tamika's he preferred. Her chances of finding that in Skyrim were slim to none, he thought ruefully. Nobody would ship it to the provinces when they could keep it and drink it. He had a few bottles stashed at Breezehome, but he'd brought those from Cyrodill himself.

"Bring it to the bedroom," she told him, "We might as well be comfortable while we discuss things."

Clark followed her, watching the sway of her hips, and wondering if she walked like that out of habit, or as a conscious ploy. Either way, it was worth watching.

Vicuña reminded Clark of Goldie, the Aureal at Gweden all those years ago. She was a visual feast, too, and an incredibly skilled lover. But her only objective was the shared pleasure, with no ulterior motives. He'd learned a lot from her, which had helped when he met ...

Clark hadn't thought about Taminwe for a century and more. She'd wound up the spy operation at the Red Dragon Club when Ocato was assassinated. The Club went back to just being a gentlemen's club, and Taminwe went to join her distant cousin Medora at Direnni Tower on the Isle of Balfiera. She hadn't told Clark she was expecting his child, and he'd never have known if she hadn't involuntarily called out to him, telepathically, during the birth.

He almost wished she hadn't shared that with him. He felt the pain, as well as the joy.

"Reman for your thoughts?" asked Vicuña.

"You're not telepathic, at all, are you?"

She shook her head. "That's an Altmer thing, not a Dunmer one. Why do you ask?"

"I am, slightly, and sometimes I catch stray thoughts from faraway places. It can be quite distracting."

"Then I should make sure I have your full attention, shouldn't I?"

"I think you deserve that," he agreed.

---

The young Dunmer was nowhere near as skilled as Taminwe when it came to negotiating. The pleasure was just as intense, but she just couldn't take advantage of her partner as much as the Altmer could. And she hadn't had anyone like Clark turning the tables on her before.

She knew she was giving ground on Clark's proposal for a brothel at Left Hand Mine, and she really ought to stop before she conceded more, but she didn't want him to stop, especially now. He sensed that, and knew he had all that he needed. And he knew what she needed, and it had nothing to do with this deal.


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Acadian
post Oct 1 2014, 08:00 PM
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So glad you had a good trip to the UK and got to celebrate your mother’s 86th!

I’ve always included small hand mirrors into my TES fic. The technology certainly seems simple enough even without magic.

How delightfully comfortable to read about the familiar Ghorza and Tacitus of Markarth in the first segment of this. I loved how you included Ghorza’s in-game thinking about Imperials and their books.

Then on to the mysterious Telvanni breasts and snowy tufts of Vicuna. She seems to be quite skilled and adapted to her profession.

And a welcome reminder of Taminwe here -
’She hadn't told Clark she was expecting his child, and he'd never have known if she hadn't involuntarily called out to him, telepathically, during the birth.’ - - Even though this short passage is quietly ‘slipped’ in to the story, it speaks volumes about both Clark and Taminwe. Well done!

What a great idea to set up brothels to support the mines! tongue.gif


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Grits
post Oct 3 2014, 02:37 PM
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I’m glad you had a good trip. smile.gif Welcome back!

I loved hearing about Uzgash and Taminwe, especially the family connections with Clark.

A levitation charm! Love it. biggrin.gif How fun to meet the incredible Vicuña in the story.


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Destri Melarg
post Oct 6 2014, 08:06 AM
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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



Everyone else already commented on the divergent opening so I can only echo what they’ve already said. I like the decision you’ve made to narrate the dialogue rather than give us all of it, but I am also left wondering if you’re not going to that particular club a bit much and robbing yourself of opportunities to show us your vision of the world through details.

One place where this is apparent is on the road into Helgen. As readers we need to really see those first Imperial soldiers Clark encounters. Everything about them points to what they’ve just experienced as the first victims of a dragon attack (and not just any dragon, as it turns out). We need to see the fear in their eyes. We need to see their burns and the quality of their clothing. We need to see limping, and broken bones, and those whose bodies may be whole but whose minds have been broken by the sight muttering to themselves (for example). We also need to see/hear/smell/feel the wreckage of Helgen itself. Not really a nit, more of an observation.

In Riverwood I loved that Ralof neglected to mention his own attempted execution to his sister. I also liked the detail that you put into Clarks lesson regarding the drying of firewood, and that he was able to use the lesson as currency to secure dinner for himself and the ‘sack.‘

You also have a wonderful understanding that not every scene needs to be filled with action. H.E.R pointed out the delicious detail of Lydia’s history with Faleen, and the gro/gra-Bagol’s continued use of the patronymic allows you to distinguish them as individuals in the first sentence of Part 3. Just the fact that Gorza is comfortable using a word like ‘patronymic’ makes his character come alive for me.


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ghastley
post Oct 8 2014, 02:38 PM
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Acadian: I think I also mentioned mirrors as signalling devices back in the Cyrodiil story, as the source of the code for the crystal ball telegraph, so it helps keep my world consistent. The polished silver mirror is high-maintenance, so most folk wouldn't bother, and it would be a luxury item. Clark is a merchant, so he'd have one, at least as a trade sample.

Grits: More Vicuña coming up! She was fun to play, and I hope I can sustain her character as an NPC.

Destri: I have to disagree about those soldiers. The ones that got out were those who fled at the first sight of the dragon, like Tullius and Elenwen. But my main reason for not dwelling on them is that Clark isn't the Dragonborn, and won't get very involved with those quests. Besides, in-game, soldiers are either completely healthy or dead. tongue.gif

-----------

Previously

Clark has travelled to the ancient Dwemer city of Markarth, where he's met Vicuña, the travelling inspector of the All-Tamriel Guild of Prostitutes. They've negotiated an agreement for a new establishment outside the city.

--------------

Part 4 - Markarth Temple

Of course, the agreement wasn't final until it was put in writing, and signed. They went to the Treasury House, where such things were recorded, and had the scribe there lay it all on parchment.

Vicuña read through her copy before signing. She'd been sure last night that she was surrendering everything, but this seemed like a very fair and even contract. "What's this clause at the end?" she asked. "The one about re-negotiating at regular intervals, not to exceed half a year."

"Things will change, and I don't want the deal going stale because it doesn't get renewed. I'm sure you'll see other benefits, if you think about it."

"Do you expect me to do the negotiating again?"

"Of course, and I can offer training if you think you need it."

---

Clark's price for training was the secret of that breast-levitating enchantment. There were women in several of his establishments that could benefit from it. Even the ones who had less to carry would look firmer and younger.

Vicuña took off her amulet and handed it to Clark. Her breasts settled slightly, as their full weight took effect. They were still admirably firm, and held up well on their own, but she didn't look quite as comfortable without the magical help. "I'm going to my room to get another, you can use the enchanting station in the corner to learn how it was done."

It made sense that she'd have enchanting facilities here, as well as spare amulets,. He wondered how many of the other women here were using them. The merchant side of his mind was already considering the market for soul gems.

He quickly understood when he disenchanted the item, that he'd need a lot more skill before he could reproduce this one. There were two parts to the effect, one being the familiar Fortify Carry Weight, but the other made it specific to its use, and that was the difficult part.

Vicuña was back at his side, watching him. "You'll want to visit the Temple of Dibella while you're in Markarth," she told him. "They know a lot there about how to make magicka especially for a woman. There are ways to focus the enchantment, that only they can teach."

"Is that what brought you here?" Clark asked.

"Yes, they know about the Temple as far away as Morrowind. Dibella's not worshipped much there, but the Telvanni are a bit exceptional in that regard. We don't reject any source of knowledge, no matter how foreign. And the Dwemer connection, here in Markarth, is a draw too."

Clark knew the priestesses at Dibella's temple well. He often sent young women he'd recruited for his establishments there for training in the erotic arts. His business and theirs overlapped in many ways, but they weren't exactly in competition. As the Guild required, any payment for actual sex had to go to a Guild member, but erotic displays, training, and other services that stopped short of that were permitted to non-members.

The Dibellans were equally insistent that while what they did would certainly arouse, it was an offering to the goddess. And that should be considered separate from anything it might lead to. If they did anything afterwards, it was because they wanted to, not because someone had just paid them to dance. It wasn't a secret that they got just as worked up by a good performance, but the Guild was tolerant, and let them have their fun.

He'd never really considered them as major magic-users, though, except the common uses any woman would make. But there was a fine line between using it consciously, with an obvious casting like you'd do with a fireball spell, and the way that charm and speechcraft worked. And you could definitely describe some of what they did as a "casting motion", just one that continued as it mesmerised its target.

He resolved to go over to the Temple and make inquiries as soon as he'd given Vicuña her first lesson.

"What you need to learn is how to concentrate on two distinct things at once. One is the pleasure you're sharing with your partner, and the other is the information you're trying to extract, or the argument you're trying get across. So you're going to read this book, while I try and distract you. At any time, I may stop and ask you questions about the content, and I expect the correct answers."

She lay face-down on the bed with the book on the pillow. He let her turn the first page before he started to run his hands over her back, and around to her breasts. She propped herself up on her elbows, to give him better access, and continued to read. She could manage this. The story was interesting, and Barenziah was in a similar situation, so he was just reinforcing what she was reading, and helping her get immersed in the tale. Was he reading over her shoulder? She didn't really care, as the next part looked like something she'd like to do, too.

He couldn't be reading with her now, though. Not if that was his tongue. And the book was telling her about guarding a caravan, and fighting off bandits, just as she was doing the exact opposite and letting him have access to her valuables.

At what he judged was a good moment, Clark rolled her over and asked her what was on the last page.

Barenziah had just reached the Morrowind border with Straw, and slept with some of the soldiers. She got that part right, but a lot of the details she added were what she'd just experienced, and weren't in the book at all. Clark let her read it again, and pointed out the differences.

"But that's just volume 1. We'll do another volume tomorrow, and by the time we finish the series, you'll be a lot better at it. Meanwhile, we have something else to finish."

---

"There's a man in the Sanctum!" exclaimed Orla, as she hid herself behind a pillar. Her shapely leg stretched out towards her robe, which lay on the floor not far away, and she tried to drag it to her with her foot.

Hamal laughed, and walked over to give Clark a hug. "He's seen the rest of us before, many times, haven't you Clark?"

"In intimate detail." Anwen agreed, taking her turn to embrace him.

"But didn't you tell me we don't let men down here?" Orla asked, peeking around the pillar shyly. She had a nice face, Clark thought, and at least one nice leg, why did she think the rest was anything to be embarrassed about?

He heard the door open behind him and Senna came to join them. She tossed her robe onto the bench next to him and walked around the other side of the pillar to push Orla out into the open. "You've got to get used to showing yourself, or you won't make it past acolyte."

Orla reluctantly lowered her hands and let him see her properly. She was a Nord like Hamal, with the more voluptuous build that usually meant. Senna the Breton was a little smaller, as were the Redguards Anwen, and ...

"Where's your Sybil?" Clark asked. The women looked sad.

"Lost to us recently, I'm afraid," Hamal replied. "We have just performed the Exalted Protocol of the Dibellan Sybil to try and locate her successor. The goddess has revealed to us that she lives in the small mining town of Karthwasten, to the north. If you're travelling that way, could you let her know, and have her family send her to the Temple?"

Clark hadn't intended going that way, but Hamal and the others were good friends, and he had something to ask them in return. "If I do, would you help me to use a new enchantment I just learned?" He didn't ask further about the loss. It was clear to him from the way Hamal said it that she couldn't, or didn't want to, explain.

"Yes, you know I provide Enchantment training," Hamal agreed. "I take it this one is a special one for women?"

Clark explained about the breast levitation enchantment he'd got from Vicuña's amulet. "Dibella would approve, if she didn't create that herself," the priestess told him. "But without our new Sybil, we might not have the full extent of her blessing."

They explained further how Clark would know when he'd found her. "She's a child? I'd have thought it was a job for a fully-developed woman."

"She does need to be pure when she joins us. So we need to recruit her before she loses..."

Clark understood now. The priestesses would make sure her first time was special, with plenty of ceremony, and probably supportive company to make sure it was done right. And it wouldn't be until she was fully ready for it. She'd have a few years to watch and understand what was involved before she'd be expected to participate. And until then she'd be protected, and trained for the honour of being the Sybil.


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Acadian
post Oct 9 2014, 03:39 PM
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I chuckled as I remembered the ‘negotiating’ session. laugh.gif

Woot! Clark learns the handy boob levitation enchantment! By using the enchanting station, it really brings home that this is indeed a Skyrim story.

Interesting understanding between the Dibellans and the Guild to avoid conflict.

Nice job of changing the Sybil quest for Dibella into your own. Clearly recognizable, but with the typical well-reasoned twists we’ve come to expect from Clark. Clark’s motivation for that quest is perfect: The Dibellans are his friends and they need the quest done before they can fully help him.

goodjob.gif


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Destri Melarg
post Oct 12 2014, 02:32 AM
Post #17


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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



QUOTE(ghastley @ Oct 8 2014, 06:38 AM) *

Destri: I have to disagree about those soldiers. The ones that got out were those who fled at the first sight of the dragon, like Tullius and Elenwen. But my main reason for not dwelling on them is that Clark isn't the Dragonborn, and won't get very involved with those quests. Besides, in-game, soldiers are either completely healthy or dead. tongue.gif

Fair enough.
QUOTE
He wondered how many of the other women here were using them.

A rough estimate? I'd say all of them!! laugh.gif

Clark does not discriminate when it comes to coin. And Acadian already pointed out the terrific explanation of the differences between the Guild and the Dibellans.


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ghastley
post Oct 15 2014, 01:58 PM
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Acadian: I just couldn't see Clark trying to steal anything from those folks. The Cyrodiil story established the Dibellan/Guild relationship, so I have to stay consistent.

Destri: They'd all want to need it, anyway. biggrin.gif

-----------------

Previously Clark learned a new enchantment from Vicuña's amulet, but couldn't use it without some extra training. Hamal, the priestess of Dibella, had a favour to ask in return. And it sounds so simple...

-----------------

Part 5 - Broken Tower

Karthwasten wasn't far, the road was safe, and you could make the round trip easily in a day. Clark invited Vicuña to join him. "We'll take my carriage, and maybe do a little trading while we're there." She agreed. Her type of trading might be a little different from Clark's, but there was a chance she'd find an opportunity, too.

They arrived a little before lunch, and were surprised to see the miners milling around outside the mines. The Orc told him they'd been kicked out by mercenaries sent by the Silver-Bloods "to protect them from the Forsworn". She sent Clark over to Enmon's house when he mentioned his quest. "He's the only one here with a daughter. But I haven't seen her for a few days, I hope she's all right."

Enmon and his wife Mena told him that he'd arrived a day too late. Their child, Fjotra, had been kidnapped just yesterday by Forsworn, and now the mercenaries had come and taken the mine, too. "I don't think that was a coincidence. either," he told them.

Ainethach, the owner of the mine, confirmed his suspicions. "The Silver-Bloods want me to sell the mine to them. I'm convinced that they have some kind of control over the Forsworn, and yesterday's raid was a set-up for today's occupation."

Clark was inclined to agree, but getting Fjotra back had to take precedence over reclaiming the mine. He could use reinforcements for that, too.

"Does anyone know where they might have taken Fjotra?" he asked.

The general consensus was that they'd have taken her to Broken Tower Redoubt. It wasn't far, just the other side of the river. If she really was the next Sybil of Dibella, the Forsworn might have known that. They had their own shrine to Dibella there, and it wasn't exactly like the one in Markarth.

Both Enmon and Vicuña wanted to come with Clark. He wasn't convinced that either of them were suitable for the task. Neither had any armor, or a decent weapon. "But I don't need them," Vicuña pointed out. "I have spells I can use instead." Enmon shrugged, and agreed that it might be better if he stayed behind. "It is my daughter they have, but I wouldn't want her to see her father getting killed. I'd rather she didn't have to see anyone die, but you'll do what you have to, to get her back."

"What about you?" the Dunmer asked Clark. "I can see a sword and shield on the wagon, but I don't notice any armor."

"Ebonyflesh enough?" he asked her.

"Really? The same as I use, but you don't look like a mage."

"Well, I don't do destruction, so I've been able to spend more of my time on restoration and alteration. And while I haven't the protection from my clothing I once did, I've enchanted my sword with both fire and soul trap, so it will feed its own charge."

"You have the skill for dual enchantments? I thought you told me you didn't."

"No, I was lucky enough to find an item that had both as a single enchantment, if that makes any sense. They were combined as one, just on the wrong weapon for me."

They left the horse and wagon in Karthwasten. Clark didn't want the horse getting killed if they ran into the Forsworn unexpectedly, as he didn't fancy walking all the way back to Markarth. The walk over the bridge to Broken Tower was a much shorter distance, and anyway, they'd want to be on foot to be ready for any hostilities.

Broken Tower was a fortress built into the cliff at the side of the road. Ranks of battlements stepped up the steep slope, giving good cover to archers. There was a single skirmisher outside, a woman dressed in skimpy furs, and paint. What she lacked in armour, she made up for in aggression, and ran screaming at them with a jagged sword in each hand. Vicuña's fireball met her half-way and sent her flying.

Clark had already cast his armour spell, and now she cast hers. Just in time, as an archer popped his head over the wall above them and let an arrow fly in their direction. Another fireball went back in return, but the archer just ducked out of its way.

"We'd better get inside, where I can use my sword," Clark said, pointing at the only door he could see. It wasn't locked, and they rounded the first couple of corners before they met anyone coming the other way. There was one archer in the corridor ahead, and another up the stairs to the right. Since she didn't have a clear shot at the latter, Clark ran that way, hoping the Dunmer would take out the other. He blocked an arrow with his shield and took out the archer with a couple of swings of his sword. Same negligible fur armour on this one, too. Nice body, such a waste.

He heard the explosion of another fireball below. He hoped that Vicuña had a spell without the area effect for closer quarters, but right now it was working well enough.

The next Forsworn they encountered was a man with an axe and a sword, and he popped out of a doorway too close for her to use her fireball. It took a second to ready a different spell and Clark had to deflect a massive blow from the man's axe with his shield. He staggered a little, preventing him from counter-striking with his sword. A bolt of lightning crackled over his shoulder and the Forsworn jerked back. Before he could swing again, Clark had recovered his balance, and the offensive. A slash from his enchanted sword set him on fire, and captured his soul.

Further in, a mage slowed Clark's advance with her frost, but that just kept him safely back from the fireball that flew past him. He cast a healing spell, and shivered off the rest. Then they were outside again, on the ledge above the road, trading fireballs for arrows. Not a fair exchange, really.

"This tower looks like the only part we haven't been in," Clark said, pointing to the door ahead. "I do hope Fjotra's in there, after all this."

They crept in as quietly as they could, and saw a man in furs, with a horned head-dress, making offerings to a statue of Dibella. A statue just like the ones in the temple, except that this one was smeared with blood. Human remains lay on an altar before it.

The wind blew the door shut behind them, and the man turned to see what had made the noise. They could see a hole in his chest where his heart should be, filled with some kind of plant material. He raised his hands to cast a spell.

The briar-heart had his own fireballs for them, so they quickly split up to approach him from opposite sides of the room. Vicuña was using her most powerful lightning spell, to try and drain his magicka, as well as damage him, and Clark was trying to get close enough to swing his sword. Both were wondering where Fjotra was, and if the fireballs were endangering her.

Clark was feeling rather warm by the time he got into sword range, and the Forsworn didn't seem to be letting up with his flame attack. But he faltered as Clark struck, and fell back. Clark didn't let him regain the initiative and continued swinging his sword as quickly as he could. The force of the blow wasn't as important as keeping his opponent off-balance and unable to fight back. But he had to keep out of the lightning coming from his companion at the same time, and that wasn't easy.

She ran out of magicka just as Clark's sword struck. The briar-heart's head rolled across the floor and stopped at the door of a cell. Clark took a key from the man's corpse, and hurried to open the cell door, pushing the severed head away before Fjotra could see it.

He couldn't stop her from seeing the headless body, though. Or the remains lying on the altar before the bloodied statue of Dibella. Or all the other dead bodies on the way down to the road.

Enmon and Mena were delighted to have their daughter back, but surprisingly, eager to let her go again. Becoming the Sybil of Dibella would be such an honour, and a much better life than she could look forward to in Karthwasten.

The three of them arrived back in Markarth around sunset, and they took Fjotra to the Temple right away.

"Have you brought me another acolyte, too?" Hamal asked Clark, nodding towards Vicuña.

"The nice lady helped rescue me from the Forsworn," Fjotra told her.

Clark had to tell Hamal the whole story, including the details of the shrine they'd found in the tower. "They'd clearly sacrificed someone on that altar. You don't think it could have been..."

"Our previous Sybil? It wouldn't surprise me. And that would mean that Fjotra was next in line."

"We found a few small statues, as well. Are you missing any from the Temple?"

"No, and they're quite common around here. The gilded ones are popular with women who've visited here, as mementos of their pilgrimage. Men seem to like them, too. You might offer them to Lisbet at Arnleif and Sons Traders, I know she deals in them when she can get them. "

Hamal led Vicuña to the altar in the middle of the temple. "Prostrate yourself, and then drink from the basin. Dibella will grant you her blessing."

Clark's reward was the Enchanting training he'd requested, free of charge. Not only was Hamal able to reveal the secret of the enchantment, but with the extra skill levels he gained, he could make the charge more powerful. Now he could make an amulet that might help more than a slender Bosmer.

"I don't know what Dibella gave me, but I do feel different," Vicuña told him.

"Most women are convinced that they have larger breasts," Hamal told her. "I don't believe she ever actually does that, but their posture improves, and so does their self-confidence. The result is probably the same."


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Acadian
post Oct 15 2014, 06:58 PM
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Nice that Clark has fiery soul trap on his blade. Too bad it's not so easy to find.

Loved the bits about trying to keep Fjotra from seeing dead bodies. I remember how she reacts pretty strongly to seeing them in game once you rescue her.

Also, a good explanation for what may have happened to the previous Sybil. kvright.gif

’Now he could make an amulet that might help more than a slender Bosmer.’ - - Hey! Nobody likes a smart-astronach! laugh.gif


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Darkness Eternal
post Oct 17 2014, 07:48 PM
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Part 2: Alchemy for some reason is always an interesting craft. You made it more interesting by your descriptions alone. Clark's use for it is indeed unique. Hmm Lydia and Clark hubbahubba.gif

Part 3: Markarth has many travelers and it would be the ideal place to build a brothel. Vicuña proved to be a fine woman and Velith's gravity defying breasts was a delight to read too. I look forward to seeing Clark in his quest here.

Part 4:
QUOTE
Clark's price for training was the secret of that breast-levitating enchantment. There were women in several of his establishments that could benefit from it. Even the ones who had less to carry would look firmer and younger.


This right here caught my attention. I never thought about it. How clever is it to alter a woman's body in a professional work environment made for that sort of thing? Hmm. The Dibellens here are a fine addition, as expected with this wonderful sort of story. I'm glad you took time to delve into their religion and erotic teachings.


Part 5: Ah quite the battle we had here.

QUOTE
Broken Tower was a fortress built into the cliff at the side of the road. Ranks of battlements stepped up the steep slope, giving good cover to archers. There was a single skirmisher outside, a woman dressed in skimpy furs, and paint. What she lacked in armour, she made up for in aggression, and ran screaming at them with a jagged sword in each hand. Vicuña's fireball met her half-way and sent her flying.


This was a wonderful description here. I love it! Vicuna has some fire-power indeed. A woman who is sexy and powerful is a good combination, no? They make a fine team, her and Clark!


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And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 20th July 2019 - 03:45 PM