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> Clark in Skyrim, A continued report from across the border.
ghastley
post Dec 3 2014, 04:15 PM
Post #41


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Acadian: Gilda's got to compensate for her ... archery limitations, so destruction magic is her ranged attack. She'll continue to prefer one-handed with a sneak bonus, though, when she gets the chance.

Grits: Gilda's going to be doing that again this time, with variations. Lydia being more audible has nothing at all to do with her being left behind on the next trip. Just coincidence, really!

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Previously: Clark and company cleaned up their loose ends in Markarth.

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Part 12 - Road to Riften

They returned to Whiterun to drop Lydia off, and Gilda and Clark headed towards Riften.

Clark hadn't heard from his daughter, Karliah, in ages, and he was beginning to get worried about her. She'd followed in her mother's footsteps, as one of Nocturnal's Nightingales, and the last he'd heard was heavily involved with one of the others, an Imperial called Gallus Desidenius. The third Nightingale was Mercer Frey, the current head of the Thieves Guild, which had its headquarters in Riften.

Gilda had shown promise with her stealth, and the two places you went to train that further were the Thieves Guild or the Dark Brotherhood. It wasn't a difficult choice between those. And if Gilda was going to become a successful merchant, she needed to know how thieves operate. If she did well, she might get some level of immunity, too.

The other attraction was the uniform. She knew she looked good in tight leather, and theirs would make the most of her assets. For the journey, however, she was wearing a merchant's dress, and looking just like the apprentice she was.

---

Their wagon was stopped by a bandit demanding a toll, outside Valtheim Towers. Clark got down from the wagon, and put himself between the bandit and the horse, while he argued with her. Gilda could see another bandit out on the bridge, so she moved the wagon into the shadow of the tower where it would be safe from archers.

The one on the ground saw her do it, and broke off her conversation with Clark to draw an axe. Clark sent a lightning bolt through her at close range, then cast his Ebonyflesh spell in case any more bandits came down. An arrow flew past him, fired from the top of the tower.

Gilda and Clark rushed into the base of the tower and ran up the stairs. "If we meet more archers, stay behind my ward, and use that Ice Spike to shoot back," Clark instructed.

They met another axe-wielder first, coming down the stairs. Clark blocked and Gilda thrust past him with her sword, before the man could react. One more down. Clark peeked through the window slit and saw an archer waiting on the bridge, with his bow half-drawn, and aiming at the door. He cast a strong ward and stepped through the door, with Gilda firing Ice Spikes past him. The archer went over the side of the bridge, but not before Clark had taken an arrow. They retreated into the tower as Clark removed it and healed the wound.

"We'd better clear this tower first, or we'll just get shot in the back trying to get over the bridge," he reasoned. "Didn't you say there was another archer at the top of this one?"

Gilda nodded and was first up the stairs towards the top. She was sneaking up, hoping to catch the archer unaware, as she usually preferred. She found him peering over the edge, wondering when they'd come out onto the bridge. She struck silently. If he hadn't already been dead, the fall would have killed him.

When they got back to the bridge level, two more were coming across looking for them. Neither carried bows, and the bridge was too narrow for them to dodge Gilda's Ice Spikes. But her magicka reserves ran out just as the lead one dropped. The other stepped over his body triumphantly, and ran towards her. Clark pulled her back into the tower where they could both engage the man with their swords. Lydia had taught her well, and as she dodged back, Clark struck the man's side. When he tried to retaliate, Clark stepped back, and the bandit's swing missed him. Gilda stepped forward and thrust her sword at his flank. He flailed at the two of them alternately, each time getting hit by the other.

"That's the way to do it," Clark smiled over the corpse. "If you find yourself in the opposite situation, just keep going after the same one, and don't let him recover. Especially if you have a shield facing the other one."

"I'm putting on some of their armour before we cross to the other tower," Gilda responded. "Close tactics are one thing, but they'll have the same advantage I just did while we're on the bridge."

"Except that you'll have your magicka back, and will be able to return fire." Clark handed her a restorative potion. "In case you run out again, drink this. Oh, and since they'll have room to dodge, use the lightning instead of the ice. It's faster, even if it doesn't hit so hard."

Clark went first, running across the bridge. He couldn't zig-zag, but he varied his speed so the archers couldn't predict where he'd be so easily. Gilda noted that, and copied when she followed, at one point stopping completely to make the archer try to duck a bolt of shock. She was pleasantly surprised when he failed to do so, and staggered back from the parapet. She didn't think she'd killed him, but he wouldn't have much left.

She found Clark just inside in a mages' duel. Both parties had their wards up, and spells weren't getting through. Gilda stepped around and used her sword instead. Scratch one mage.

She let Clark know about the archer at the top of the tower. "Better go up there next before he can heal."
They had to go out onto the ramp, and came under fire from someone on the rocks. But the ramp circled around the back of the tower and they were quickly out of reach of the arrows. The archer at the top got off his knees as they appeared, and drew a dagger. It didn't help him, as Gilda gave him another dose of shock before he got close.

"Just the one on the rocks?" Gilda asked. Clark hadn't seen any more than one, but he'd been more interested in getting behind the tower than in counting. He peeked over the edge of the parapet, and saw the archer still watching the ramp. "He knows we have to come down."

Gilda drank Clark's potion and cast a lightning bolt with both hands. "Now he can stop waiting."

---

The bandits didn't have a lot of gold stashed in the various chests around the towers. Presumably the tolls hadn't been making them much. A few restorative potions, and discarded weapons were the only other things they found. Since they had a wagon, they collected all the bandits' armour and weapons. Usually they'd be too heavy to be worth taking, but this time was different.

"Are there any more places like this between here and Riften?" Gilda asked. "If there are, I'll stay in armour."

"No, not until we reach Fort Greenwall, just before Riften. And I want to stop at Darkwater Crossing tonight. There's a small mining village there, and they welcome traders. We'll trade at Shor's Stone tomorrow as well, but that's not far from Riften, so we'll not need to stay the night there."

---

They reached Darkwater Crossing without further incident, unless you count wolves. They were always a nuisance, wherever you went in Skyrim, but not a real threat to a competent traveller. Gilda thought she heard a bear, too, but it didn't come onto the road, and they didn't stop to look for it.

After trading with the miners, mainly food and trinkets for ores and ingots, they put the boards across the wagon to make their bed for the night. "Before we turn in, come this way," Clark told Gilda, and led her north past the smelter.

Clark led her down a slight slope to a pool. "Feel the water," he said.

"Ooh! It's warm! I wasn't expecting that."

"The water here bubbles up out of the ground hot, not far from here, and the pools around the edge are just right for soaking in. You don't want to stay in too long, as there's a lot of dissolved minerals that will start to make your skin itch. But it's just the thing for a dip before bedtime."

They luxuriated in the warm waters for a while, floating easily on their backs. It seemed that the heavy mineral concentration in the water buoyed them up more than usual.

Clark wasn't sure, but he thought he saw a dragon fly over, heading toward the Throat of the World. There were rumbling sounds coming from that direction, too. Perhaps the Greybeards were practising their Shouts.

They were just climbing out and towelling off when Annekke and Verner walked down the slope. "Oh, it's you two," Annekke said. "If it was the other miners, I'd be worried that the water would be dirty. They'll all probably be here in a minute."

The two Nords stripped off and took Clark and Gilda's places in the pool.

"Mining must be good exercise," Gilda remarked, as she and Clark climbed into the back of the wagon and pulled the furs over themselves. "Verner's in excellent shape. And I know you were peeking at Annekke."

"We'll probably meet their daughter tomorrow in Shor's Stone. She's a miner there."

"Really? They have a grown daughter? I didn't think they were that old."

"Let's just say that Annekke may have been a bit adventurous when she was young, and wasn't very old when she had Sylgja. She'd still be happier as an adventurer than a miner, but when she found this place, it was too good an opportunity to miss. With Verner's family being mining folk, and Sylgja on the way, they settled. Since her daughter grew up and moved out, though, she's getting restless again."

---

Verner and Annekke gave them a letter to take to Sylgja, since they were going that way. "And ask her why she hasn't been to visit," Annekke added. "She's probably found herself a man, and forgotten her parents."

Gilda would have liked to forget hers, but she said nothing.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Dec 8 2014, 07:56 PM


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Acadian
post Dec 3 2014, 08:28 PM
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Clark and Gilda did a great job vs those toll-grubbing bandits. Super teamwork again. goodjob.gif

I see that Gilda is now comfortably augmenting her magicks with blade and even considering armor (tight leather armor of course). I love how she dealt with Clark and the other mage locked in a ward vs spell standoff. Indeed, those wards make a fine target for a blade (or arrow).

This whole day of travel felt wonderfully familiar to what Buffy and I experience during a typical day. I was intrigued by Verner’s request regarding Sylgia so I looked things up on UESPwiki – and, how neat to discover a new quest! Given that we often stop and chat with folks at DW Crossing, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know of it before. Perhaps because we don’t visit with the folks in Shor’s Stone as much. As Clark says, it’s so close to Riften that there’s generally not much reason to stop there long enough to chat much.


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ghastley
post Dec 10 2014, 03:33 PM
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Acadian: Gilda's preference is sneak & blade, but needs magicka for range, as she can't use a bow. But mostly, it's a case of fitting the offence to the enemy's weakness.

It was Sylgja's mention of being healed, but still unable to walk far, that prompted this part of the story. It fit well with Gilda's nose, and Clark's history. The fact that Riften has a face-sculptor is barely hinted at, but I'm assuming that's known. My take on magical healing is that you still need to understand anatomy to know what you're fixing, or you just treat symptoms, not causes. It also gives me another opportunity to link back to Clark's past in Cyrodiil.

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Previously: Clark and Gilda had stopped off at Darkwater Crossing, and Verner and Annekke had asked them to take a letter to their daughter Sylgja at Shor's Stone.

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Part 13 - Shor's Stone

At Shor's Stone,they found Sylgja and the other miners sitting around a table in front of one of the houses. It was about the time for an evening meal, so that wasn't too odd. But the conversation soon told them that the miners had been there all day.

"What's wrong with the mine?" Clark asked.

"Spiders, that's what! We went in there a couple of days ago and found the bottom of the mine infested with them. No idea where they got in, but they've been moving gradually up, and it won't be long before they're up in the village, attacking us!"

"Can't the guards deal with them?" Gilda asked.

Filnjar spat. "They're as useless as a fifth wheel on a wagon. Spend all their time looking for enemy soldiers out on the roads. It seems they're more worried about Riften than this place."

Gilda looked over at Clark. "How big do the spiders get around here? I've seen them as big as a wolf near the farm, but they don't go around in packs, so they're not bad."

"They vary," he replied. "I have seen them bigger than a bear, but those are rare. And if two that size meet each other, they'll fight. You just have to keep out of the way and finish off the victor while she's still weak."

"She?"

"The big ones are female. The smallest ones are male, and the middle sized ones could be either. All just as venomous, but the big ones bite harder."

"There aren't any cracks in the rock large enough for the giants, if that's any help," one of the miners offered.

Gilda and Clark headed for the wagon. They needed a few things if they were going to clear the mine. Potions to replenish magicka were the main ones; but they were out of those. Clark rummaged around and found a scroll. "I can use this to summon a flame atronach," he told Gilda. "Spiders hate flame, so use that in preference to your other spells. And keep your sword in the other hand, in case one gets close."

A couple of the spiders spat their venom as soon as Clark and Gilda entered the mine, but Clark already had a ward up, and it did little. While Gilda sprayed flames to keep the spiders back, Clark summoned the flame atronach to finish them. It headed down the spiral ramp, looking for more. They followed, listening to fireballs flying ahead of them. Then there was a pause, and a larger explosion signalled the end of the atronach.

"Let's hope it got most of them," Clark muttered, and readied a fireball spell of his own. He couldn't cast many of those, but they could hit a whole cluster of targets at once. "If there's one, you hit it with your flames; if there's more, then keep back and let me do it."

"There's one!" Gilda announced, and turned on the heat. Clark put up a ward briefly, as he saw the creature try and spit, but it collapsed before it could do so. He looked over the edge, and saw two more starting up the ramp.

"My turn!" he called, and sent a fireball down to meet them. "I don't have enough magicka for another, I shouldn't have used the ward."

"It doesn't look like you'll need it. I can't see anything else moving."

They crept carefully down, watching in all directions, including up. The bigger spiders were especially fond of hiding in a web above you, and dropping behind after you'd passed. But they really were all dead. There was a gap in the rocks where they'd probably come in. It was too small for them to crawl into, but enough for the spiders.

"Do you have a magicka potion?" Clark asked. "I'd like to send a fireball in there, just in case."

"No, you'll just have to be patient. Didn't you tell me that magicka regenerates faster if you relax?"

Clark waited for his fireball to recharge. He kept his sword ready in case anything emerged, but nothing did. Then he fired into the gap, and was gratified to hear the sound of falling rock as the small tunnel collapsed.

"I think we can tell Filnjar his spider problem is over."

---

"We almost forgot," Clark told Sylgja. "Your mother sent this. She was wondering why you hadn't been home to visit."

Sylgja took the letter. "I couldn't go anywhere for a time. I took a bad fall in the mine, and broke my leg, and there was nobody here that knew enough healing to fix it. I was fortunate that a priest of Mara came by and healed it, before it set crooked. It still feels sore, though, and I wouldn't want to walk all the way to Darkwater Crossing on it yet."

"I wrote a whole bunch of letters while I was laid up, though. If you're going back the same way could you take them?" She held up a satchel that was overflowing with letters.

"Why didn't you get a courier to take them?" Gilda wanted to know.

"The couriers may be able to find you when they have a delivery, but have you ever tried to find them?" Clark retorted. "You have to go to a city to send a courier, and Shor's Stone isn't a city yet. Even in a city, you can find the office, not the couriers themselves."

"I met one on the road once," he continued. "Since he wasn't looking for me, he ignored me and just kept walking. One job at a time, no exceptions."

Clark turned back to Sylgja. "We'll take the letters. It will give us an excuse for another dip in the hot springs. But I'm concerned about your leg. If it still hurts, it might not have been healed properly."

"Clark's a good healer," Gilda assured her. "He fixed my broken nose, even after it had set wrong."

Sylgja was convinced. "Come inside, and you can take a look at it. I'm not giving all the men a free show. I get enough attention with my clothes on."

Inside the house, Sylgja slipped her heavy mining pants down and stepped out of them. Clark sat on a low stool and ran his hands over both her thighs. "They feel the same, and I can't detect any trace of the break. If you still have any discomfort, it's probably not there."

"But that's where I feel it," Sylgja answered.

"Did you get any other injuries at the same time?" he persisted.

"Bruises all over, but they're gone now, too."

"Any on your back?"

"Yes, why?"

"Take your shirt off, I need to check your back, too."

Sylgja was hesitant, but did so. She wasn't wearing anything underneath, which accounted for her reluctance.

Clark managed to ignore the front view, even though Sylgja took after her mother, and turned her around to run his hands down her spine. Sylgja winced as he touched a couple of sore spots. One was low down, near her buttocks. "I think your bruises were deeper than you imagined. This should feel better." Clark sent a healing spell into the damaged tissues, that the priest had missed.

"How did you know to do that?" Sylgja wanted to know.

"Well, I read a lot, and I've been lucky enough to have access to the Mystic Archives, back at the Cyrodiil Arcane University. They had a lot of books there that you just can't find anywhere else, and an archive of research notes from the mage scholars. The College of Whispers and the Synod raided the Archives after the Mages Guild split up, so a lot of that material disappeared."

"But among what remained was material from Ulicetta gra-Kogg*. She was falsely expelled from the Guild at one point for suspected necromancy, and her notes locked away from general use. When she was reinstated, nobody thought to release it. I found it, and read it all. It appears that she was working on transplanting body parts from the recently dead to the living. She'd had problems with limbs attaching, but having no feeling, or being paralysed, and that had led her to research what made sensation and control work. I found it all fascinating, and it explained so much, such as why a spine is hollow."

"I don't have the magicka pool to be a full-time healer. I've invested more in health and stamina, because they're more useful to my lifestyle. What I do have is the skill and learning to make the most of my limited magicka. Some of it is obscure stuff like I just used."

"So that's why you needed fortifying potions to work on my nose?" Gilda asked.

"Yes, and it's why you won't see many healers that do face-sculpting, because the secrets have been lost, and it takes too much magicka. I'll tell you a story about that later."

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

*See The Gweden Report for more explanation of Ulicetta gra-Kogg


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Acadian
post Dec 14 2014, 05:45 PM
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This was a neat episode. I liked Clark’s insights into sexing the spiders based on size. I agree that fighting them with fire is fun.

I chuckled at Clark’s observation that the shirtless Sylgia took after her mother - and it wasn't just the outfit. Those miner outfits really make any woman look busty – Buffy almost fell forward onto her face when she tried one of them on. laugh.gif

Wow, Clark was very clever to figure out that Sylgia’s leg pain probably originated in her lower back.

I like how you touched on the fine line between restoration and necromancy. I does indeed seem that a serious healer would want to study the ‘restorative’ aspects of necromancing dead or damaged tissue back to vitality. I know that Grits has also had Abiene exploring those aspects of necromancy.


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Grits
post Dec 16 2014, 02:43 PM
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Excellent teamwork at Valtheim Towers. I love the way Gilda ended the mages’ duel. That was fun to read.

I’ve really enjoyed the exploration of healing. There’s so much more to it than the game mechanics can show, and reading about it in stories makes the game world feel richer.

Clark’s intuition that Sylgja’s leg pain had its origin in a back injury was a little too real for Grits! wacko.gif Very well done! I grinned at the family resemblance. Most of my characters have been unable to carry off that miner’s outfit look.



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ghastley
post Dec 17 2014, 02:55 PM
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Acadian: The mages' duel scene is standard Clark tactics. He'll keep them busy with futile attacks on him, while his partner finishes it. Gilda catches on fast, which is why she became his apprentice.

Yes, it was Abiene that started me down the road to comparing healing and necromancy. That, and building the back-story for Ulicetta, Mucianus Alias and Mariette Rielle in his Oblivion story. When I read Traven's Black Arts on Trial, I found myself agreeing with Ulicetta completely, and it was hard to believe that she was really a necromancer, so her story came out of those two components.

Grits: It's always been a problem to combine the instant full-spectrum healing of TES's magic with its apparent limitations (scars, blindness, etc.), so I've taken the approach that it depends on the knowledge of the caster. You can't heal what you don't know needs fixing. Sylgja was one of the loose ends the game leaves demanding resolution.

Swinging a pickaxe is clearly good for the pectoral muscles. tongue.gif I've noticed the same thing in Orc women who use big axes and hammers.

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Previously: Clark and Gilda had cleared the spiders from the mine at Shor's Stone, and finished healing Sylgja. Now they've reached Riften.

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Part 14 - Riften

"Later" was that night, in their room at the Bee and Barb in Riften. He told Gilda about the time Taminwe and Ocato gave him a new face. Gilda had enough trouble believing that Clark was really as old as he said. Lydia had told her that Clark was immortal, although she hadn't explained how, or why. That seemed possible, if you did a big favour for the right Divines or Daedric Princes. But now he was claiming that the Potentate of All Tamriel had been his personal physician?

"It wasn't like that. They had good reasons of their own for doing it, and it was their idea, not mine. Besides, Taminwe did all the face-changing, Ocato just helped out with the paralysis, because of the extra magicka it needed. They were both Altmer, so you can imagine what it took."

"And she made me look older, so I wasn't actually as old as I looked when becoming immortal stopped me aging. Yes, I'm older than I look, but not quite as much as it appears."

Gilda's head was starting to spin. "I'll probably regret asking, but tell me how the immortality thing happened."

"It was a joint decision by Azura and Nocturnal. They're sisters, as far as that applies to the Daedric Princes, with all the usual sibling rivalry balancing the closeness. When my good friend Minx became Guildmaster of the Cyrodiil Thieves Guild, Nocturnal summoned her to visit her realm of Evergloam for some tasks, and persuaded me to accompany her."

"I have an idea what it takes to persuade you," Gilda mused. "Are you saying that she..."

Clark nodded.

"I'm starting to feel inadequate. And you haven't got to Azura yet."

"Then I'd better stop, and reassure you, hadn't I?"

---

"So Nocturnal has a connection to the Thieves Guilds, right?" Gilda asked as they walked through Riften the next day.

"Yes, she usually recruits her Nightingales from their ranks. It seems that thieves are the best suited to the tasks she wants done. It's a matter of having the right skills."

"Is that why you want me to train with them? Because the skills are those that Nocturnal wants?"

"Not directly. Nocturnal recruited me, and I wasn't a guild member, and didn't have the sneaking and lock-picking skills. The ones I did have were useful for getting secrets a different way, by persuasion. I can teach you that part, but I can't teach the other. I've filled the gap with larcenous partners in the past, but I want you to be more of a well-rounded merchant."

"Yes, I know you like well-rounded. But do I really need to join the Thieves Guild to get training? You want me to be an honest, fair trader, don't you?"

"The Thieves Guild aren't the cut-throat rabble you probably think they are. They have rules, handed down from Nocturnal. They help the beggars, because they get information in return. And they're one path to becoming a Nightingale."

"Your daughter's one of those, isn't she?"

"Well she was the last time I saw her, which is quite a few years ago. Karliah was a member of the Guild here, but she disappeared a while ago, along with Gallus Desidenius, the Guildmaster at the time. Mercer Frey was the third Nightingale, and he took over as Guildmaster, and presumably still holds that position. If you can find out anything about Karliah, I'll be grateful."

Clark noticed Brynjolf at his stall in the marketplace, selling his Falmer-blood elixir. He took Gilda over and introduced her. She seemed to make a good impression, but there would still be a test before Gilda could join the Guild.

"Show me you can pick the lock on Madesi's strongbox, and put the ring you find in Brand-Shei's pocket. I'll provide the distraction, while you demonstrate your skills."

That seemed reasonable, and Gilda felt she had the ability to do that. The two traders weren't guild members, who'd be watchful for those tricks, and she half-expected her second test would be to put it back. She was rather surprised when a guard was summoned to arrest Brand-Shei.

Clark wasn't expecting that either. "You go with Brynjolf, and see what he wants next. I'm going to see what's going on with Brand-Shei."

---

Gilda walked into the bar at the Bee and Barb and joined Clark at his table. As Talen-Jei brought her a drink, she told Clark about her afternoon.

"First off, Brynjolf tells me to meet him down in the Ragged Flagon, at the back of the Ratway, and then leaves me to make my own way, while he goes in via the secret entrance I'm not allowed to use yet. That's apparently the next part of the test. I don't know if I was supposed to sneak past all the low-lifes who wanted to cut my throat, or deal with them permanently, but I ended up doing a bit of both. It's a real maze of tunnels down there, so I guess they were testing my navigation skills, too."

"And my next test is to collect loan repayments from some of the merchants. That's why Brand-Shei was the target today. He was late with his payment, and needed to be taught a lesson. I have to do the same for Haelga, Bersi Honey-Hand, ... and Keerava here."

"That matches the story I got about Brand-Shei. You don't have to get anyone else arrested," Clark pointed out. "Just persuade them to honour their debts. Reasonable people know what they owe."

"The way Brynjolf explained it, they don't feel like they do owe anything any more. Debts to the Thieves Guild don't count, aren't legal, or something." Gilda looked worried that she'd have to threaten them with violence, which just wasn't her way.

Talen-Jei was back at their table. Clark asked him if he knew that Keerava had borrowed from the Thieves Guild. He didn't, and looked alarmed; he didn't want any harm to happen to her. Clark didn't believe that the Guild would do her any harm, but Talen-Jei did. And it seemed that Keerava would, too. "Just tell her you know about her family in Morrowind," Talen-Jei told Gilda. "She'll be frightened, but at least she won't risk her own safety that way."

Clark shrugged. It wasn't a real threat, after all. He told Gilda to do that, if she thought it would be effective. She could make it seem like she was concerned for the family's well-being, too.

Gilda went up to the bar, to talk to the Argonian, and returned a couple of minutes later with a small purse of gold. "She paid, but I don't think she likes me."

"I have an idea how we can make it up to them," Clark offered. "Talen-Jei's been looking for some flawless amethysts to make an engagement ring. He wants to marry Keerava, and that's an important part of the rituals. I can get him the gems for that."

Gilda cheered up a little at that idea. But there were still Haelga and Bersi to deal with.

"Those can wait until tomorrow," Clark told her. "We'll think of something."

---

Clark had met Svana Far-Shield outside the Bunkhouse the previous day. She'd told him about her aunt's devotion to Dibella, and the shrine she had in her room. Clark wasn't sure if Svana was scandalised by Haelga's practice of the Dibellan arts, or the fact that she wasn't getting paid for it. He'd declined Svana's request to embarrass Haelga with proof of her promiscuity. Only three different men in a month sounded quite restrained to him, and he was sure Haelga felt the same.

Clark and Gilda went into the Bunkhouse to look around. Clark noticed a statue of Dibella, standing on a table in the corner. It was different from the ones he'd seen in Markarth, and he wondered if it had been made by the same people. He picked it up and looked for a maker's mark on the bottom.

"Be careful with that!" Haelga rushed over to make him put it down. Gilda noted her concern and asked her what she'd do if it got lost or damaged.

"I can't even think about that," the Nord replied. "That statue's really important to me."

"More important than paying back your loan?"

Haelga paled, adding two and two in her mind and getting worried. "Here's what I owe, now just leave."

---

Bersi Honey-hand had apparently heard that Gilda was collecting, and just paid up without any fuss. He looked very relieved to have done so. He was clearly concerned about something, but nobody had told Gilda what it was, and she really didn't care now. All that mattered was that she'd done what the Guild had asked her to do, and maybe now she'd be a full member, without anyone getting hurt.

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Acadian
post Dec 17 2014, 11:11 PM
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I think the area around Riften is beautiful – PermaAutumn. wub.gif

That was a nice review of Clark’s history with the Cyrodiil TG, Nocturnal, immortality and such.

All the Skyrim TG stuff is unknown territory for me, so it’s fun to see some of it courtesy of Clark and Gilda.


Nit: ’He'd declined Svana's request to embarass Haelga with proof of her promiscuity.’ - - I think embarrass is the correct spelling? My doubt is simply to allow for the possibility of a British spelling variant I am unfamiliar with. smile.gif


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ghastley
post Dec 23 2014, 03:03 PM
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Acadian: Unfortunately, you're only going to get brief overviews of the TG quests as Gilda reports back to Clark, without a lot of detail. He'll be doing a few of the other Riften ones, to establish a base there.

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

Previously: Clark and Gilda arrived in Riften, and Gilda did some minor tests to gain admission to the Thieves Guild. She wants training, and Clark wants to find his daughter, Karliah.

This part is a bit early because of the holidays.

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

Part 15 - Meeting Mjoll

When Gilda told Clark what they wanted her to do next, he knew something was wrong. The only beneficiary of that assignment would be Maven Black-Briar, whose Black-Briar Meadery stood in town, overlooking the docks. He told her to go along with their plans for now, while he asked around the market.

"Is that your new Thieves Guild uniform?" he asked. "I like the tight pants on you, but I think you're overdoing the top. Isn't it supposed to do up more than that?"

"It would if they'd had one in my size. This one's too tight, and some of the straps just don't reach. They tell me I'll get a better one after a couple more jobs, so not to worry for now."

"I'm not worrying, if you're not."

---

The woman in the banded iron armour, with the axe on her back, wasn't someone he knew as connected to the Thieves Guild, or the meadery, so he went over and started a conversation. Mjoll introduced Clark to her "saviour" Aerin, a young Nord who owned a property in town. To Clark's shrewd eye, Aerin appeared to be one of those minor sons of someone wealthy, who didn't have to work for a living. He wondered how these two were connected.

Mjoll told Clark how Aerin had found her wounded outside a Dwemer ruin, where she'd gone in search of treasure. He'd healed her wounds, and brought her back to Riften to convalesce. She'd found the city to be a cess-pit of corruption, and sworn herself to do what she could to clean it up.

Aerin didn't seem to be too concerned about the corruption, but he did seem genuinely worried that Mjoll might come to harm if she tried to oppose Maven Black-Briar. "She has the Thieves Guild in her back pocket, and undue influence with the Jarl. Much more than Mjoll can safely take on."

"Come on over to the Bee and Barb, and tell me more," Clark invited. "I'm sure you each have an entertaining tale for me."

Mjoll's story came out in a disjointed set of anecdotes that Clark had to piece back together. He could understand why she became an adventurer, not a bard, because she didn't seem to be able to keep more than a couple of sentences on the same subject. The only thing she could keep on track about was her sword, "Grimsever". She'd lost it in the Dwemer ruin where Aerin found her, and she felt helpless without it. Presumably it was the sword her mother taught her to swing. It certainly didn't have anything to do with hunting cliff-racers in Morrowind with her father. Seriously, who goes looking for those things?

They were all drinking heavily as they chatted. That seemed to be something all Nords did, and Clark had to admit the local mead was very repeatable. It might have accounted for Mjoll's incoherent tale, too, but Aerin told him she was always like that.

"I think it's the stress of nearly dying in that ruin. She won't be herself until she gets that sword back."

He went on to tell Clark his version of how he found her outside Mzinchaleft. Her armour had been ripped apart by the Dwemer constructs, and he could see that she was worth saving. His healing talents were meagre, but he did what he could at the scene, and brought her home with him. The priests at the Temple of Mara were able to do a better job, and she was quite recovered, apart from her pining for her sword.

"I hope she's rewarded you properly," Clark remarked.

"Quite vigorously, and often," the young man grinned. "But I wasn't expecting her to stay as long as she has. I'm quite worn out."

They told him what they knew of the Black-Briars. Maven the matriarch, running the whole town. Hemming, her son and deputy in all things shady, and his two children, Ingun the would-be alchemist and probably poisoner, and Sibbi, who was currently jailed for murder.

Clark was astonished at a custodial sentence for murder. Either you paid the family a blood-price, or became their servant, or you were executed. Jail was for thieves, debtors, and the like. Maven must have wanted Sibbi safely out of the way for a while, and would have him released when it suited her.

They also told him that Jarl Laila Law-Giver was totally ineffective, except for providing the Black-Briars cover. The guards did nothing to limit the Thieves Guild, which appeared to work for Maven. They could easily be bribed, although it was cheaper if you were a Guild member. Laila was nominally on the Stormcloak side of the Civil War, although it was common knowledge that one of her sons espoused the Imperial cause. Mostly, she stayed out of the way in Mistveil Keep, and let Maven run the city for her.

---

One thing Aerin and Mjoll hadn't covered was the skooma trade. It was clear to Clark that several of the dock-workers were using it, especially as one of them had told him as much. Wujeeta, an Argonian working at the fishery, had begged a healing potion from him to take away the withdrawal symptoms. He'd given her that, one that had a cure disease effect, too. Perhaps it would cure the addiction. He'd ask her tomorrow how she felt, and maybe get a clue as to where the skooma was coming from.

---

Gilda was back from her trip to Goldenglow Estate. She'd stolen the bill of sale from the safe in the house, but she wasn't happy about the vandalism of the beehives they'd had her do along the way. "Apart from the wasteful destruction, it meant more of a chance for the mercenary guards to detect me doing it. I ended up having to kill a couple of them."

"And I talked to Vex when I got back - she's the master lock-picking trainer - and she told me that she'd been there and failed to get in. I wish I'd known that before I went. Still, I got a burglary commission from her for the next time we're back in Whiterun. Which will be soon, as they want me to get my next job from some guy at the Honningbrew Meadery."

"OK, get Lydia to help out with that job, if you need her, but do the burglary on your own. She's no good at sneaking in that plate she insists on wearing."

"Aren't you coming?" Gilda wanted to know.

"No, I want to find out if the Black-Briars are connected to the skooma trade. They seem to be in control of everything here in Riften, just like the Silver-Bloods were in Markarth. And I still haven't found Karliah. Which probably means she doesn't want to be found."

---

Wujeeta pointed Clark at the warehouse as the source of her skooma. She'd never been inside it, always buying her skooma at the door, from a man called Sarthis Idren. Jarl Laila would have a key to the warehouse, of course, as the guards needed access to all the dockside premises.

Jarl Laila Law-Giver did have a key, and she was already aware of Sarthis Idren's skooma dealings. "But he's bribed enough guards that we can't get proof. Here, you try." She handed Clark the key.

This wasn't exactly what he wanted, but Clark took it anyway. He considered asking Mjoll for help, but he'd rather get her sword back before he did that. She didn't seem confident enough without it.

He visited the warehouse that night, hoping there would be nobody there. Of course there was, and he'd forgotten to cast invisibility. Sarthis fought viciously, knowing that he had no choice. It was a close call, and Clark had little strength when his body guard came up from the basement to see what all the noise was about.

However, he did have the magicka for a fireball. Clark was glad that the bodyguard wasn't another Dunmer, with resistance to fire.

Clark found several bottles of skooma, and a supply of raw moon sugar, in the basement, but no sign of any production equipment. They must be making the skooma somewhere else, and shipping it here, probably by boat. Then he discovered a note in a back room that confirmed it.

He took the note to the Jarl, who unsurprisingly asked Clark to deal with it. It was outside the city, so it was outside her jurisdiction. Or in other words, she couldn't be bothered.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Aug 5 2016, 02:14 AM


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Acadian
post Dec 24 2014, 08:09 PM
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No worries on the TG. After Oblivion, I ‘outgrew’ the need to do every questline. I do get the impression that the Sky TG is not as. . . light and whimsical as the OB TG. Mostly I was just letting you know that I won’t really have a framework of game reference regarding the TG – that has both pros and cons when reading fics I’ve found. smile.gif

Wow, that’s some TG outfit Gilda’s almost wearing! I can imagine the young lady is grateful for the alteration assist she received not too long ago. tongue.gif

Yay for Mjoll! She and the Priests of Mara are about the only folks in Riften Buffy gets along with.
’He could understand why she became an adventurer, not a bard, because she didn't seem to be able to keep more than a couple of sentences on the same subject.‘ - - How true! goodjob.gif

I don’t know this Jarl Laila well at all, but already she reminds me of Count Bravil. laugh.gif


Nit: ’He wonder how these two were connected.’ - - I'm sure that you meant 'wondered'. wink.gif


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ghastley
post Jan 1 2015, 12:54 AM
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Acadian: Laila's just lazy, she lets Maven run the town for her. If Maven becomes Jarl because of the Civil War, she's a much better match for Terentius.

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

Previously Clark had given Wujeeta, an Argonian worker at the fishery, a healing potion, and she'd given him a clue to the skooma trade in Riften. He'd gone to the Jarl, who'd asked him to do the dirty work of investigating. So while Gilda was away on guild business, he made a trip out of town.

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

Part 16 - Thaned again

Cragslane Cavern was an invisibility job, if ever there was one. But just to make it harder, the place was full of captive wolves, who could smell Clark, even if they couldn't see him. Fortunately, they were all caged, being used for pit-fighting contests that people would bet on. And nobody paid any attention to their agitation, except maybe to raise their bets.

The ringleader of the bandits running the place, however, detected Clark as soon as he entered the room at the back where he was making the skooma. With most of the others between him and the exit, Clark decided he needed a distraction. He pulled the lever that released the pit wolves, and mayhem began.

Clark resumed his invisibility, and dodged back into the crowd of gamblers. The wolves were biting at anyone they could, and the bandits were swinging wildly at an enemy they couldn't see. Only the boss bandit had any idea where Clark was, and there always seemed to be someone else in between them. After a couple of blows from his warhammer hit the wrong targets, he was fighting his own men.

All the action was now happening down in the pit area, with everybody fighting everybody else. Clark crept up to the entrance, overlooking the battle, and waited for it to thin a bit. He didn't expect it to be long before the boss bandit, the man he heard someone call "the butcher", had the chance to come looking for him again. When he did, he was severely weakened by all the fighting, and Clark was waiting with a fireball. He still needed his sword to finish the man off, but he was down to his knees at that point.

Clark had picked up a few wolf bites, and cuts from a gambler's dagger, so he stopped to heal himself before searching the cave.

There wasn't much, except for skooma and moon sugar, but he did find a copy of a book on lockpicking. "Gilda could use this," he thought, and put it in his backpack.

---

The Jarl was delighted with his success, especially as it hadn't needed any help from her guards. She rewarded Clark with the privilege of buying property in Riften, and the title of Thane was available if he did.

It appeared that his dealings with the merchants of the city had already brought him to her attention. The fire salts for Balimund, the gem materials for Madesi, the Ice Wraith teeth for Marise, had all helped trade, (and increased the tax base, or she wouldn't have cared). He put in a good word for Brand-Shei while he had the chance, and got him released from jail.

Clark wanted a base in Riften, so he talked to the steward. "Honeyside is available, if you have the coin. It has access to the docks, and its own garden. Quite a nice little property. And as Thane, you'll get a housecarl to guard it, too."

It was worth the 5500 septims he paid for it. She'd asked for 8000, but settled for less, as he didn't have any more gold on him, and he might have changed his mind. Clark could quickly raise more, as his wagon was still full of weapons and armor from Valtheim that he hadn't yet sold. Balimund had bought some, but couldn't afford to buy them all. He'd told Clark to come back the next day, when he'd have done some deals and got more cash. Bersi would probably buy some of it, too.

He looked in at the house, on his way to the wagon. A young Nord woman, dressed in the same basic steel armour Lydia had been wearing when they first met, was waiting inside. Standard housecarl uniform, he presumed.

"I'm Iona, your housecarl. Sworn to protect you and your property, carry your burdens, but not to sleep with you, unless I'm in the mood for it."

That was pretty much the same little speech that Lydia had given him, too. He'd bought the furnishings for Breezehome at the same time as the house, so she'd moved into a well-furnished place with a comfortable bed. That might have been what put Lydia in the mood right away.

"Then come and carry some burdens right now. I need to bring some things from my wagon to sell in the market. Then this place needs cleaning up, and refurnishing, before I move in."

"And don't worry too much about protecting me. I'd prefer not to have any pain, but it won't kill me. I'm immortal, so save your own skin first."

Of course, Iona wanted to know how he became immortal, but that explanation could wait. It was a long story, and they needed to get busy on the shopping, and housework.

---

Clark collapsed onto the bed. He and Iona had hauled weapons and armour from the wagon to Balimund's and Bersi's shops and gone to purchase furnishings at Mistveil Keep. They had tidied up the cellar, ready for adding the Alchemy and Enchanting facilities. Clark still needed more cash for those, but he'd cleaned out the merchants. They did have the essentials - bedroom, kitchen, garden, balcony. The last wasn't really essential, but it was relatively cheap, and it did add to the comfort.

Iona came and flopped exhaustedly onto the bed next to Clark. She had her own bed, down in the basement, so this was probably an invitation. "Help me out of my armour, I don't think I have the strength left to do it all myself." Yes, definitely an invitation.

Clark had to be very careful not to call her Lydia. The similarities were so many between the two of them. Same fit body, same youthful enthusiasm. Lydia now knew a few things that Iona still had to learn, but this was just like putting the clock back a year.

---

The next morning there was a knock on the door, and Clark found Gilda standing outside.

"You've been busy while I was away," she accused, looking pointedly at Iona. "They told me you'd bought this place when I asked around the Ragged Flagon."

Of course the Thieves Guild would know everything. Clark hadn't looked for new shadowmarks by his door, but he knew they'd have already been updated.

"I assume you've been busy, too," he countered. "Tell me about it."

"After putting Honningbrew out of business for Maven," Gilda began. Clark's eyebrow went up, but he didn't interrupt. "They asked me to go to Solitude and talk to someone called Gulum-Ei. It appears that the Guild's activities have been closely entwined with Maven's for some time, and someone's trying to stop that. The Goldenglow and Honningbrew jobs were primarily to investigate the interference, and everything pointed to the Argonian. But it turned out that he was just acting as an agent. For your daughter, Karliah."

"Mercer Frey told me that she'd killed Gallus, and then disappeared. That she was apparently waging war on the Guild and had to be stopped. I just don't know what to believe any more."

"Let him think you believe him, and go along with whatever they decide. Just let me know what's happening before you take any action yourself," Clark replied.

"Then I'm telling you now. Mercer has asked me to meet him at Snow Veil Sanctum, up near Winterhold. He thinks Karliah may be hiding out there, and he wants to kill her."

"Do you need my help?" Iona asked.

"Gilda will have to go with Mercer on her own, but the two of us should be in the area in case we can do anything. We can't let Mercer know we're following, and I don't know how to contact Karliah. This one could get messy very easily."

---

Clark and Iona stood by the road, staring intently down towards the entrance to Snow Veil Sanctum. They'd seen Mercer and Gilda go inside a couple of hours ago, but nobody had emerged yet.

The ruin was just about as far as they could see, and flurries of snow had obscured their view a couple of times. It was possible that someone had left during those, but surely they'd have seen them as soon as it cleared.

"Is that someone coming out now?" Iona asked. Her younger eyes had detected something Clark's couldn't. But yes, that did look like someone, dragging something out of the ruin. They decided to go and investigate.

The someone turned out to be Karliah, and the something was Gilda's unconscious body.

"What happened?" Clark asked.

"I shot her, Father, to save her life. Now help me revive her. I have the andidote to the poison I used, but I could use some help healing her."

Karliah was talking in riddles, but Clark was sure she'd explain before too long. He cast a healing spell over the unconscious Gilda, as Kalrliah poured the contents of a small vial down her throat. Gilda coughed, and opened her eyes. "Did you just shoot me?" she asked Karliah.

"Yes, and it saved your life. It slowed your heart, and stopped you bleeding to death when Mercer stabbed you in the back. I was intending to use that poison on Mercer, to paralyze him, so I could capture him alive, but it didn't work out that way."

"So he got away? After all that?"

"We didn't see anyone else leave, but there were times we couldn't see properly. He may have slipped out then," Clark offered.

"That doesn't matter too much," returned Karliah. "He's played his hand now, trying to kill the two of us. Maybe this is the time to go back to the Thieves Guild and let them know the truth. Then we'll have a better basis for hunting him down."

"Do you have any tangible proof?" Clark asked. "It will still be your word, and that of a recent recruit, against the Guildmaster's."

"I think we do," Gilda said. "There's this journal I picked up. The cover says it belonged to Gallus, but I can't read anything written in it."

Karliah took a look. "I recognise Gallus' writing, but this is in a language I don't know. Enthir in Winterhold is a scholar of ancient writings. He's a member of the Guild, and he knew Gallus from before I met him. There's a chance this is in a language he knows."

This post has been edited by ghastley: Jan 1 2015, 10:08 PM


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Acadian
post Jan 1 2015, 08:20 PM
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I love how Clark cleared Cragslane Cavern – start a big fight, disappear, then take out the wounded survivor(s). evillol.gif

Thane of Riften, with a Honey of a House and a new housecarl to go with it! I see Clark is never one to waste time. . .
’Clark had to be very careful not to call her Lydia.’ - - I haven’t met Iona yet, but this definitely sounds like good advice. ohmy.gif

"I assume you've been busy, too," he countered. "Tell me about it." - - Smooth as ever, Clark doesn’t miss a beat as he deftly deflects Gilda’s accusatory inquisitiveness.

Very interesting what happened in Snow Veil Sanctum with Karliah and Gilda. Glad they’re both okay.

So, it’s off to the College it seems. It makes perfect sense that Enthir there would likely have some sort of ties to the guild of thieves. emot-ninja1.gif


Nits:
I don’t want to quote a large block, but if you look at your fourth paragraph into the episode, it looks like you missed a paragraph break.

’She had her own bed, down in the basement, so this was probably a invitation.’ - - I expect you want ‘an’ instead of ‘a’ preceding invitation?


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Grits
post Jan 6 2015, 02:18 PM
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Part 14 – Like Gilda and Clark I was also surprised when the guards came to arrest Brand-Shei in my game. That was the first hint that Skyrim’s TG questline was going to be a bit darker than Oblivion’s. Good job to Gilda on getting the payments without violence. smile.gif

Part 15 – Wow, Gilda looks great in her too small TG outfit. I especially like her low-riding leather pants. I love Clark’s impressions of Aerin, Mjoll, and the Black-Briar clan. Clark’s view of Mjoll’s scattered chatter made me grin.

He went on to tell Clark his version of how he found her outside Mzinchaleft. Her armour had been ripped apart by the Dwemer constructs, and he could see that she was worth saving.

rollinglaugh.gif I wonder if Aerin reconsidered once she started talking. It sounds like she’s keeping him happy, though. Lol.

It sounds like Clark had a tough time in the warehouse. All of my previous relatively pacifist thieves sympathize!


Part 16 – It was worth the 5500 septims he paid for it. She'd asked for 8000, but settled for less, as he didn't have any more gold on him, and he might have changed his mind.

I love it! I don’t think I’ve ever tried that in a game.

Snow Veil Sanctum, yikes. Neat to see the outcome of that quest through Clark’s eyes.


ETA: I forgot to say, I love the illustrations! goodjob.gif

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ghastley
post Jan 8 2015, 03:04 AM
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Acadian: As we'll find out later, it's the housecarls that are in a hurry. Clark is just easily persuaded. Iona and Lydia have different shades of hair, but I think it's styled the same, and they are the same size, and start in identical gear. Since Jordis also has the same outfit, I assume it's the uniform they get at housecarl school.

Grits: The price of Honeyside is anything from 5000 to 8000, depending on how much you have. There's no way to haggle, if you have the full 8000, you pay it. So you give all but 5000 to your follower before talking to the steward. biggrin.gif I think one of the other homes is priced like that, but most are fixed-price.

Clark is not going to get involved too much with Mjoll. Like Neloth, his ears are sensitive.

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

Previously: Clark became Thane of Riften and bought Honeyside. He and Iona, his new housecarl, then followed Gilda and Mercer Frey to Snow Veil Sanctum, where Mercer hoped to find (and kill) Karliah. He failed, but disappeared into the blizzard. Gilda had found Gallus' journal, and they've taken it into Winterhold to see if Enthir can help them translate it.

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

Part 17 - Gallus' Journal

Enthir met them in the Frozen Hearth. Neither Gilda nor Karliah were members of the College, so they weren't permitted into its grounds. "You've got a fair amount of skills in the magical arts, aren't you a member?" Gilda asked Clark.

"Not here." Clark replied. "I learned most of my spells in Cyrodiil."

"College or Synod?" Enthir queried.

"A bit of both. The local guildhalls weren't divided between them when I picked up most of mine. And I've learned most of my summoning spells from other sources."

Clark was glad he didn't have to explain all of those. He could only summon Aureals and Mazken in the Shivering Isles, and he suspected none of these folks had ever met one of those. Winged Twilights and Daedra Seducers were just as foreign. He'd summoned them in Tamriel before, but not here in Skyrim.

"Show Enthir the journal," Clark prompted, to change the subject.

"This looks like Ancient Falmer to me," the elf told them, after a quick perusal. "Not a language I know."

"So who does?" asked Karliah. "We need that journal translated, before I can show it to the Guild."

"The expert on this is Cancelmo, in Markarth, but you won't persuade him to do it. He'll be too busy with his excavations. He never was much for cooperation. Didn't want anybody else taking credit for his work, even if they did most of it."

"So what do we do?"

"Search his laboratory, see if he has a dictionary, or anything like that. I can probably make sense of this if I just know what the words mean. The elven languages do have similar sentence structures and grammar, even if the words are different."

---

When he entered the Markarth brothel, Clark was astounded to find Rhiada, in her final month of pregnancy, sitting naked at the desk. She stood up and strode, not waddled, across to greet him.

"Did Vicuña make you an amulet to take the weight off your feet?" he guessed.

"The amulet just supports my breasts," she replied. "The shoes are carrying junior for me. Separate enchantments makes more sense, as I'll need the amulet until he's weaned."

"And your clothes got too tight?"

"Actually, I do have a loose robe I could be wearing, but here in the brothel, nobody minds me being nude. Especially the men."

"And since she's a member of the Guild, they can pay her to pat her belly, and give her a squeeze." Vicuña told him.

"They do that?"

"Oh yes. It's considered lucky to pat an expectant mother's baby bulge, and make her baby feel welcome. The friendly squeeze makes Rhiada feel good, and a generous tip helps, too."

"So Rhiada's settled in nicely, how about Betrid?"

"To start with, she was difficult. She thought she was worth more than she was getting, being Temple-trained and all. And she tended to perform, rather than do what her client wanted. But then one of them got impatient with her and slapped her butt and told her exactly what she was going to do for him. Nobody had ever done that to her before, and she was shocked, but discovered that she liked it. Not too hard, of course, real pain would be against Guild rules. I've told all the men they can spank her if she misbehaves, and it will only cost a little extra to do that. So now she's making more gold, and everyone's happy."

Vicuña had a question for Clark. "Did you ever open that other brothel outside the walls? The one we negotiated over?"

"No, but I've made an offer for this place. Thongvor's not interested in commerce. He's not like his late brother, at all."

---

Gilda returned from Understone Keep late in the evening with a large piece of paper she'd used to take a charcoal rubbing from a stone in Cancelmo's laboratory. "I had to give Cancelmo's nephew Aicantar a rubbing to get this, if you know what I mean. I hope it was worth it."

"I hope you pointed him in our direction if he likes that sort of thing," Vicuña added. "He's not one of our regulars."

"I doubt he gets the chance to leave the keep," Gilda replied. "His uncle has him working full-time on the excavations, or examining the things they find. I bumped into him in the laboratory, taking a Dwemer spider apart. He was surprised to find me there, but quite helpful ... after I'd persuaded him a little."

"Oh, and I picked this up on the way out. Any idea what it is?" Gilda held up a bronze cube, that seemed to be made up of pieces that slid or turned in various ways. You could probably take it apart, if you moved the parts in the right directions, in the right order. Clark fiddled with it for a while, and handed it back.

"See if Delvin Mallory has any use for it," Karliah suggested. "He collectes oddities like that, and he might give you a decent price for it."

Gilda already knew that. She'd sold a bee sculpture she'd found at Goldenglow to him, and a couple more items from her other jobs.

---

They travelled back to Winterhold together and took rooms at the Frozen Hearth. They found a group of young mage apprentices carousing in the bar, clearly celebrating something, perhaps a birthday?

"No, better than that. They happen every year, and this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. We found a huge magical Orb in Saarthal, and they're calling it the Eye of Magnus. The Arch-mage thinks it's extremely important, perhaps the greatest magical find ever!" the Nord told him.

"It wasn't 'we' that found it," The Khajiit corrected him, "It was Brelyna. You and this one were collecting minor artifacts in the rest of the ruins, Onmund."

The young Dunmer looked embarrassed at being the center of attention, but she nodded assent to the Khajiit's version. "Thank you, J'zargo. I couldn't have done it without Tolfdir's help, of course."

Clark couldn't help thinking that if she didn't want attention, she should have kept more of her clothes on. Then he saw the dice on the table, and guessed what they'd been playing. He wondered which of the others could do telekinesis, and whether Brelyna knew that.

---

"It looks like the same text in Falmer and in Dwemer. Fortunately I know the latter, so it should be straightforward to match up the words. Give me a couple of hours, and I should have the Journal translated for you."

Enthir took the paper and the journal and sat at a table in the Frozen Hearth's basement.

He was working on the last page when he called Karliah over. "Does this make sense? I've never heard of a Twilight Sepulchre, so I'm not sure if I've got that part right."

"Let me see." she replied. "Oh, no! if this is what really happened, then Mercer has the Skeleton Key!"

Gilda looked puzzled, but Clark had heard of the Skeleton Key before. Dralsi, Minx and he had used it to open the Ebonmere, the portal between Evergloam and the Twilight Sepulchre, so that Nocturnal and the Nightingales could pass freely between the realms. If Mercer had taken the key, that would now be sealed, and Nocturnal would not be happy. The portal near her shrine outside Leyawiin had been closed long ago, and the Ebonmere had taken its place.

"If I were you, I'd check the vaults at the Guild. If Mercer turned on Nocturnal, he'd have done the same to the Guild." Clark didn't know that the Guild had any vaults, (he hadn't been there,) but it was a reasonable assumption.

"We need to get to Riften as fast as possible." Karliah told Gilda. "I'll see you at the Ragged Flagon. I need to get another horse along the way; Mercer killed mine."


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Acadian
post Jan 10 2015, 06:08 PM
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What a fun episode, spanning much of Skyrim!

Wow, Vicuña’s mind never strays far from filling the brothel’s coffers. wink.gif

How neat to see Enthir and the three amigo mage students! Poor naïve Brelyna was probably destined to fare poorly with strip poker. Actually, I think she was wise to surrender her robes before her hood - I've seen the poor thing's hairstyle without her hood. ohmy.gif

Then back to more thiefy guildy stuff like skeleton keys and such. emot-ninja1.gif

Back to Riften next, is it? I’d kill that Mercer fellow for sure for killing Karliah’s horse! kvright.gif


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ghastley
post Jan 14 2015, 03:04 PM
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Acadian: Vicuña's a high-ranking official of the Guild, so she tries to be mindful of their interests.

Brelyna's hairstyle will be seen and remarked on next time Clark meets her. She'll have to venture out of Winterhold to continue the College quest line, and their paths will cross again. Brelyna will also meet the Dragonborn, once I've tied in that part.

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

Previously: Enthir translated Gallus' journal, with the help of some text that Gilda obtained from Cancelmo's laboratory in Markarth. They met Brelyna, who'd discovered the Eye of Magnus in Saarthal, and then returned to Riften.

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

Part 18 - Riftweald Manor

Gilda came back to Honeyside, after she'd met with the Guild. "Karliah persuaded Brynjolf and Delvin to use their two keys to check the vaults, and they were empty, like you expected. Mercer couldn't have opened them alone, without the Skeleton Key, so that helped prove his guilt. And they believed me when I told them he'd tried to kill me. So we have the Guild behind us, but we don't know where Mercer went."

"Brynjolf wants me to break into Riftweald Manor. Mercer bought the place some time back, and now it looks like he used the Guild's funds to do it. He's got it sealed up tight, and guarded by some goon called Vald. There may be others inside, but we don't know for sure."

"We'll all go, just in case," Clark decided. That included Iona, but not Karliah, who had gone to try and contact Nocturnal. There was a shrine not too far from Riften that might let her do that.

Clark managed to persuade Vald that Mercer needed him in Markarth, and that they'd keep watch on the place in his stead. That only got them into the grounds, and the door at the back was just as locked and barred as the one at the front. "Do you have a bow?" Clark asked Iona. She nodded.

"Try and hit that mechanism up there under the balcony," Clark asked her. "I think it will release the ramp, and then we can try the door up there."

With a loud clatter, the ramp dropped, and they all ran up to the balcony. "I'm sure, if there's anyone in there, that they know we're coming. Be careful when I open the door."

Clark raised a ward before he did so, and they all stepped in after him. Iona still had her bow at the ready, and the first of the bandits inside was well-pierced before he could reach them. The second, however was close behind, and untouched by arrows. Gilda stepped forward and swung a dark blade at the man. The single blow dropped him, much to Clark and Iona's surprise.

"What's that enchanted with? And where did you get it?"

"Karliah gave it to me. She called it a Nightingale Blade, and it absorbs health and stamina, as well as being a pretty good sword. It looks like Ebony to me, but it has this special insignia on it, so it looks a bit different from a regular ebony sword."

"Do you know how to recharge an enchanted weapon?" Clark asked.

"With a soul gem? Yes, but I don't have many of those, and most are empty. How do you fill them?"

"You need a soul trap spell to do that. It's better to have it enchanted on the weapon, but only a real expert can put more than one enchantment on anything. If that blade has both absorb health and absorb stamina already, it was either enchanted by a powerful mage, or Nocturnal herself."

"Your sword has fire and soul trap together, doesn't it?" Gilda asked. "Did someone else enchant it for you?"

"No, actually there's a single enchantment that does both. I was lucky enough to find another weapon with it, and learned the enchantment from that. If you have a dagger, I could put it on that, and you'd have a way to capture souls, and it would still be a decent weapon."

Gilda wasn't sure. She preferred to use one hand for a blade and the other for spells, and to capture a soul would mean using a blade in each hand.

"But that's only when you need one," Iona pointed out. "If you find enough filled gems, you won't have to. I'd take it as a backup. You never run out of things until you need them."

"Good point, and a dagger's light enough to make little difference."

They continued into Riftweald Manor, looking for clues to where Mercer might have gone. They found nothing in the house, until Clark remarked. "Why aren't there any shelves in this cupboard?"

He felt around the back panel, until he suddenly triggered a hidden switch, and the back slid aside. There was a passage behind the cupboard, leading down to the cellar. Nothing was there, but the passage continued further, towards the temple next door, and the back entrance to the Guild.

"I suspect this passage will be trapped," Clark told the others. "Watch out for them, and any ways to turn them off."

"Pressure plate on the floor!" Iona pointed. They all skirted that without issues, but the floor ahead had a different kind. Iona had seen those before, too. "If you step on the wrong one, it will blast flames up at you," she told them.

"Mercer must have crossed this before" Gilda reasoned. "Look for the ones that are worn or dirty from footprints." Clark went first, partly from chivalry, and partly because he was immortal. He found the right path, and they followed.

The next trap was pendulum blades. Timed sprinting got them past those. Finally they reached a small room, with a desk and some shelves. Among the papers on the desk were some plans and a note. A bust of the Grey Fox stood at the back of the desk, next to a case containing a sword. The sword looked like a glass shortsword, but the blade was blue, and glowed slightly. Clark had seen it before.

"That's Chillrend," he told them. "I haven't seen that since the Champion of Cyrodiil showed it to me, a couple of centuries ago. It has a nasty frost enchantment, if I remember correctly."

He handed it to Iona. "I have fiery soul trap on my sword, Gilda has the Nightingale blade, so I think you need something better than your plain steel."

Iona's eyes widened. She'd never had a weapon like this before. "But what do I have to do to deserve this?"

"Just use it wisely," Clark replied. The way Gilda was looking at him, that's all he could have said.

Just around the next corner was a hole in the floor. Gilda dropped down to find herself in the Ratway. "Come on down, you don't have to go back past the traps this way," she told the others.

Gilda headed to the Ragged Flagon, and Clark and Iona went the other way, back to the canal entrance, and on to Honeyside.

---

"Gilda's taking her time, isn't she?" Iona remarked, and as if on cue, she stepped through the door.

"I need to go with Karliah and Brynjolf to petition Nocturnal for her help," she told them. "Karliah seems to think Brynjolf and I are good candidates to be Nightingales, to replace Gallus and Mercer. Mercer may not be dead, yet, but he's clearly no longer a Nightingale."

"What do you need us to do?" Iona asked.

"Nothing yet. I'll know more once we've spoken with Nocturnal. The Ebonmere may be closed, but Karliah thinks she can still reach Nocturnal through the shrine at Nightingale Hall."

"I need to go over to Mistveil Keep and arrange to have the Honeyside basement furnished," Clark added.

"Once we have Alchemy and Enchanting stations, I can show Iona how to use them, and make you that dagger I promised."

"I thought you'd wait to do that until we got back to Whiterun, but it makes sense to have the capability here as well. Does Lydia use the equipment in Breezehome?"

"She certainly makes her own health potions," Clark replied. "But we don't have our own enchanting lab there, remember?"

"Who's Lydia?" asked Iona.

"Clark's favourite bedmate, except for Vicuña, and the two of us." Gilda replied. "She's his housecarl in Whiterun. For all I know, he has one in each of the other cities, too. Maybe not Markarth; he has a whole brothel there."

"I'm only Thane here and in Whiterun," Clark clarified. "I've visited all the cities, and significant towns, of Skyrim, but those are the only places where I've had any significant business dealings. I've been avoiding Solitude and Windhelm because of the Civil War, and Falkreath, Winterhold, Morthal and Dawnstar don't have traders that deal in the same goods that I do."

"Belethor deals in Ivory, so I go to Whiterun a lot, and I came to Riften because of Karliah. I've dealt with the East Empire Company at the Solitude Docks, but rarely needed to go up into town."

Gilda had to leave, and go meet Karliah outside town. She didn't know where this Nightingale Hall was, so Karliah and Brynjolf were taking her there.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Jan 14 2015, 10:08 PM


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Acadian
post Jan 14 2015, 09:27 PM
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Sounds like Gilda’s rising fast in the guild of thieves.

Different characters collect different things, I guess. Leave it to you to introduce the concept of a housecarl collection. wink.gif

Nice to see Chillrend again, and I enjoyed Clark’s thoughts on enchanting and soul catching and such.


Nit: "Karliah sems to think Brynjolf and I are good candidates to be Nightingales, to replace Gallus and Mercer.” - - ‘Seems’ is missing an ‘e’ in the first part of this sentence.


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ghastley
post Jan 14 2015, 10:11 PM
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Oh, Clark's not trying to collect all the housecarls.

Just the female ones. biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by ghastley: Jan 14 2015, 10:11 PM


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Grits
post Jan 19 2015, 05:47 PM
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What a great idea to give feather shoes to pregnant Rhiada. It must take a lot to surprise Clark with a sight inside a brothel, but she managed it! biggrin.gif

I had the same thought as Acadian about Brelyna’s remaining attire – with her original hairstyle she definitely should keep the hood for last!

Excellent gift for Iona. I really like Skyrim’s Chillrend, but I rarely get to see it.


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ghastley
post Jan 22 2015, 03:03 PM
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Acadian: Gilda's got to have a full-time job, because at the rate Clark's going to collect housecarls, he'll be too busy to devote enough time to her. Not that she'll let that stand in her way...

Grits: Iona needed a better weapon for a later chapter, so Chillrend will star then.

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

Previously: Clark became Thane of Riften, and bought Honeyside (with an Iona thrown in).

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

Part 19 - Honeyside

"It looks like we get a decent supply of ingredients thrown in with the furnishings," Clark remarked to Iona. "And some recipes, there on the table. I'll show you how the apparatus works, and you can try making some potions."

"What sort of potions should I be making?" she asked.

"Right now, any you can. You need practice, to gain experience, and making anything will help. Once your skill improves, you'll probably want potions that restore or fortify health, or let you carry more. A mage would want to fortify magicka, or magical skills, and an archer might make poisons for her arrows, but I'm guessing you're a sword and shield person."

"I can use a bow, but I'm not the sneaky sniper kind of archer," Iona replied. "And my only magical skills are some restoration, and enough destruction to light a fire."

Clark had heard the same from Lydia. Housecarls must all come from the same school.

He helped Iona with her choice of ingredients for her alchemy, as he already knew a lot of their effects. Since she wasn't wasting items on failed mixtures, she advanced quite quickly, and soon had a decent supply of useful potions. "We'll sell the ones you won't use to Elgrim's Elixirs, and re-stock the shelves with ingredients later. Before that, let me show you how the enchanter works, and make that dagger for Gilda."

Clark handed Iona a black robe that he'd taken from a bandit mage. "There's a cheap enchantment on this, that boosts magicka regeneration. You can learn that enchantment by taking the robes apart, and then use a filled soul gem to put it onto something else. Your skill will improve when you disenchant things, enchant new ones, or recharge a weapon using a soul gem. You can destroy weapons, to learn their enchantments, too, but the only one you have at the moment is Chillrend, and it wouldn't be a good idea to destroy that!"

"So are the enchantments for weapons different from the ones for armour and clothing?"

"Mostly," Clark replied. "The weapon ones will usually add damage, each time you strike with the weapon, and those get used up and need recharging. The ones you put on armour are fortifying ones that work continuously, and don't need feeding with soul gems. I prefer the latter, as I can't be bothered with soul-trapping and collecting gems."

Clark made Gilda's dagger, to show her how it worked. He knew that the fire element of the enchantment was fixed, and he could only vary the duration of the soul trap spell. Since he was putting it on a dagger, he considered a short duration to match the fast weapon, but he had second thoughts. "Gilda will probably switch to her other weapon after using this, so I'll give her enough time for the switch and a couple of swings of that." Finally, there was the choice of soul gem. A larger one would provide a larger number of charges, but since she'd be collecting them quickly with this, it wasn't an important factor. Clark made a reasonable guess at how often she'd use it.

"Now it's your turn," he told Iona. "Disenchant that robe I gave you, and then see what you can use the effect on."

"I can't put that effect on my old sword!" she complained. "Only on my armour."

Clark was expecting her to use a ring, or a necklace. It appeared that Iona didn't have either. She wasn't the type to decorate herself, and not knowing enchantments, jewels just weren't of any interest. He gave her a simple silver ring to use.

"You'll probably get better weapons and armour anyway. That ring should be useful to carry around, even after you find better ones," he suggested.

---


Gilda re-appeared that evening wearing a suit of dark armour that looked like tooled leather. Over it all was a cape, with a hood that incorporated a mask. The only way Clark could recognise Gilda, was the way the top buckles were straining to burst open.

"I take it that's the new Nightingale uniform?" Clark inquired. "It looks a bit tight on you."

Gilda nodded. Maybe she'd said something, too, but the mask muffled her voice.

Clark and Iona helped her out of the armour. Gilda took a deep breath, apparently her first since she squeezed herself into the cuirass. "It's nice armour, but nobody seems to make things to fit me," she complained. "I'll wear my Guild stuff instead. At least I can let out the straps on that."

"I'd keep the boots if I were you. These have a really good Muffle enchantment. And what have you got on the gauntlets?"

"Dual fortifications: lockpicking and one-handed. That's a bit better than the Guild ones, too."

"We didn't have this when Dralsi, Minx and I were Nightingales. I wonder if it's something Karliah developed?" Clark mused. "What do you use to improve it?"

"Void salts. If you can find them. They come from Storm Atronachs, and most of those you'll see are summoned, so you can't collect."

"I think we got some with the furnishings for this place. You didn't use them up, did you, Iona?"

"No, I didn't have any recipes that called for them, and I wasn't going to experiment using the expensive stuff," she replied. "Let me go down and see what we have."

She came back up with three bowls of void salts. "That will improve the boots and gauntlets, and leave one to spare. What does the hood do?" Clark asked Gilda.

"Fortify Illusion. I don't really make any use of Illusion spells, so there's probably no point in using it."

"Not even Invisibility?" Clark was astounded. That was one spell he thought indispensible.

"Not as a spell," Gilda replied. "I carry a potion or two for when I need it. Remember, I can get past most people just by sneaking. Plus, invisibility means your allies can't see you either, and Karliah's an archer."

Clark understood that point. Invisibility was for going in solo, or following someone, out of their line of fire. Gilda would likely be in the lead on her next mission. "Where are you going to look for Mercer?" he asked her.

"All evidence suggests that he's headed for Irkngthand, to get the Eyes of the Falmer. Since it's a Dwemer ruin, we expect automata and Falmer, and maybe bandits outside. A real mix of opponents, and we have to deal with Mercer at the end of it all."

"He'll have all the same enchantments on his gear, and most likely know invisibility and a few other Illusion spells. Do you know Detect Life?"

Gilda didn't. Clark checked his stocks, and the bookshelves in Honeyside, and couldn't find the spell tome for that. They'd have to see if Wylandriah had a copy in the morning.

---

Gilda, Brynjolf and Karliah set off for Irkngthand together. Clark was a bit happier now that they'd upgraded Gilda's equipment a bit, but still disappointed that he couldn't go with them. He made sure Brynjolf knew he was responsible for Clark's daughter and apprentice. "They'll more likely be looking after Brynjolf," Clark thought to himself. "I should stop worrying, and let them work this out themselves."

He left Iona to look after Honeyside, and keep watch on what Maven and her family were up to, while he went back to Whiterun. Now that Gilda had the Thieves Guild almost sorted out, it was time for him to find out more about the dragons appearing. The only place he knew that had any information on them was Whiterun.

---

"I don't think that was us," Clark told Lydia."I definitely felt the ground shaking. And that rumbling noise is still going on."

Lydia reluctantly put some armour on, and followed Clark outside. Several other townsfolk were out in the street, peering into the distant mists at the top of the Throat of the World. Something major was obviously going on up there, as they could see flashes of lightning, flames, and perhaps wings, although it was too far to be certain.

The sound of it all was undeniable. If that was really dragons fighting, they were using Shouts that carried all the way to Whiterun.

Then it all subsided, and they saw a black dragon flying north-east away from the mountain. There seemed to be another, that remained circling the peak, so presumably that one had driven the other off. The black one wouldn't be flying over Whiterun, so everyone relaxed, and went back inside as it disappeared from view.

Lydia dragged Clark back into Breezehome, too. He still had work to do.

This post has been edited by ghastley: Jan 24 2015, 02:47 PM


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Acadian
post Jan 23 2015, 03:53 PM
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’Clark had heard the same from Lydia. Housecarls must all come from the same school.’ - - I love it! When is your College for Housecarls mod coming out? wink.gif

Gilda made quite the entrance wearing her mask and buckle-bursting Nightingale armor. tongue.gif

I like that you brought up the hazard of friendly fire using invisibility (or stealth in general). To address the brightly-lit bound bow that Buffy uses, we pretend that only allies can see the blue flaming glow – which helps avoid Buffy getting hit by friends. Foes however can’t see all the blue glowiness so the bow doesn’t give her away to them.

’They'd have to see if Wylandriah had a copy in the morning.’ - - Oh, she likely does, but the big question is would the absent-minded court mage know where she put it? wacko.gif

What a neat glimpse of the main quest as Clark and Lydia observe what seems to be a distant dragon battle near the throat of the world.


Nit: ’Invisilibity was for going in solo, or following someone, ...’ - - Just spelling of invisibility.


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