In Episode 92, Buffy learned that the gro-Baroth brothers from Chorrol would be part of the Fighters Guild contingent trying to qualify for the tournament the following day. She then discovered that Nordinor would be running a bookmaking operation for the tournament using Aradroth as his 'subject matter expert' on archery. Rider-
Aww, thank you! It was great fun to write Lum's observations as a visitor to the Bravil FG, and a good way for Buffy to get an indirect glimpse at a couple of the larger than life characters there. I'll bet Julian has indeed given that hard-nosed lesson plenty of times to whiney young'uns! Thanks for enjoying how we closed the episode with Aradroth. Buffy the blond Bosmeri Bravilain bowgirl use alliteration? Hee! Saqin-
Thanks for those kind words on that line of Nordinor's. It is great fun trying to portray what Buffy sees in so many of the NPCs. TK-
Lum didn't stand a chance when Buffy backed up Teresa's thinking about staying focused during training.
Buffy surely is a chatterbox, but she does sort of manage to keep her counsel when it comes to the secrets of others - a little more on that in this next episode. We'll get to see some more of the bookmaking operation later in the tourney. Thanks! ghastley-
I'm so glad you enjoyed Buffy's 'big orc = redundant' tongue-in-cheek comment. Thank you. SubRosa-
Ooh! A red-headed archeress at the Bravil FG! You can bet Buffy will be curious about that! Thanks for the kind words on the flashback. You nailed our intent. Even though Pappy and Teresa's actions came to Buffy probably third hand, she understood them perfectly. Heh - the underlying politics of what makes the Court of Bravil tick are way beyond her though. As you know, she tries to avoid that castle so she will only be able to share a few small snippets from her limited perspective. King Coin-
Thank you! Nilawen is wonderful and kind all right. She even helped Buffy's mother deliver our little bowgirl one Rains Hand dawn about a score of years ago! Ceidwad-
Thank you! We touch upon five other fanfictions during the Tournament. The two largest cameo roles (Teresa and Aradroth) have already been introduced. Buffy's only real dealing with Count Bravil was being humiliated by him when she bought her house. If she can avoid dealing with him, that's fine by her! mALX-
Welcome back! Yes, we do miss our Winter Wolf. Thank you for your encouragement of our temporary excursion into some subplotting for the Tourney. There will be several themes, a couple dead ends, guest appearances, a touch of mystery and even some archery! Zalphon-
Thanks. Buffy's getting better at knowing when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em and when to shoot 'em.
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93 The Tournament of Archers, Part 9- The Game is Afoot!
"I want you to tell me what you know about closing an Oblivion Gate," I said bluntly to Ungarion after the last customer left his shop for the evening.
The Altmer blinked and stared down at me. He stepped to the door of A Warlock's Luck and locked it before replying, "Funny you should ask. I was quite hoping you would stop in." He gestured toward a chair. "Please sit. Wine? Tamika's if I recall?"
"Tamika's would be lovely, thanks." I removed Slayer and my quiver, then slid into the chair.
In between the rich tapestries lining the walls of the magic shop were numerous yellowed sheets of parchment on display with a variety of languages represented. I could recognize some of the scrolls as written in Daedric, others in Ayleid. Some, however, bore unfamiliar script. From beneath a cabinet covered in arcane oddities, the Altmer retrieved a bottle bearing the distinctive shape used by Tamika's winery.
After pouring for each of us, Ungarion eased his long frame into a wooden chair across the small table from me. "First, Buffy, a toast in honor of your return to our fair city." After the soft ring of silver goblets faded, he continued with a practiced smile, "I think we may be able to do business."
"I'm broke, Ungarion, but I was hoping for your help. I'm going to try and close that gate at Kvatch. There are brave soldiers risking their lives trying to stem the flow of Daedra from the Deadlands."
"I care not for Kvatch but you, my dear, are another story." The oily merchant smoothed a hand over his auburn hair. "Somehow you manage to move comfortably and discretely in many incompatible circles. You traffic in dark soul gems and black market goods, yet you are a respected member of the Mages Guild. You are well aware of the pathetic enterprises of Nordinor, but you do not surrender him to your friends in the city guard. I understand that Count Leyawiin has knighted you, yet you associate with Aradroth, whom I expect is of the murder-for-hire persuasion. Yes, you are a valuable ally indeed."
"I've never claimed to be of virtuous character, but I actually do know how to keep my own counsel when the secrets of others are involved." Ungarion knew enough about my history with black soul gems to get me kicked out of the guild. I, on the other hand, could have him imprisoned based on my knowledge of his high-end black market operations. Yet, I had known the Altmer all my life and did not believe him to be as unfeeling as he professed. "Can you help me, please?"
He studied me for a moment behind long steepled fingers before replying, "I believe so, Buffy. I will tell you what I know of Oblivion Gates."
"Thank you, Ungarion." I expected that he had a reason for helping me, but I needed his assistance. "I know the gate is held open by a sigil stone similar to the ones you used to make my rings of detect life. Where within the plane would I expect to find this stone?"
After taking a sip of wine, Ungarion set his goblet down. "I should believe near the center, perhaps in a tower of some sort and probably well guarded."
Now we were getting somewhere. I recalled Ilend Vonius describing a large tower after Savlian rescued him from the Deadlands. "How do I turn the sigil stone off and what happens to me since I'll be inside the gate when it closes?"
"I don't think you turn it off, Buffy." Ungarion smiled, as if indulging a child. "I expect rather, that you remove the sigil stone from whatever it may be powering. As far as what happens to you, I don't know. I do believe however, that some of the ancient sigil stones I occasionally manage to get my hands on must have come from inside such portals. That would lead me to think that you could live through the process of closing one."
His last words echoed as I stared into my goblet searching for the moments I needed to compose myself. Could it be possible to survive? I had assumed that my life would be forfeit upon closing the gate. My head spun with excitement over the chance of a future after Kvatch - perhaps with Savlian. I forced aside the swirling possibilities with the promise to think on them later. Doing my best to manage a calm response, I replied, "That's wonderful news, and certainly more knowledge than I had. I thank you, Ungarion. Is there anything else you can think of that might help me?"
"Needless to say, I would be most interested in purchasing the stone from you for a very hefty sum should you succeed. I presume you are prepared for the Daedra that surely defend the approach to the sigil stone?"
I nodded grimly.
"Yes, I would imagine so. It seems you have tuned your fine arcane education and bow skills to the life of an adventuress." The Altmer refilled our goblets. "I'm retired from that business of course, and content now to deal in exotic trinketry and secrets." Ungarion smiled and placed his folded hands on the table. "Now, I have in good faith provided what knowledge I have about your gate to Oblivion. My hope is that you might entertain a similar request from me. Should you oblige, I have some information about your tournament that I'm sure will be of interest to you."
I cautiously replied, "How can I help you, Ungarion?"
The smooth talking Altmer rubbed his hands together. "I am interested in the profit potential inside that mysterious door in the middle of our bay. They say that anyone who enters either never returns or comes out completely insane. Over an ale or three however, one of your guard friends, Gaius Prentus, let slip that you seem to be an exception." Ungarion looked at me expectantly.
"What you hear is true. Beyond that door is a very different world. From what I can gather, it's the Oblivion plane of the Daedra Lord Sheogorath, called Shivering Isles."
"A portal to Sheogorath's realm? Amazing." The Altmer rose, then returned to his chair after, placing bread, fruit and cheese on the table. "Please, eat and tell me more. Why do you think that you
are able to enter and return with your sanity intact?"
"Gaius teases that it's because I'm a blonde and have nothing to lose," I said between grateful mouthfuls. I hadn't eaten since Daenlin and I shared an early lunch right after shooting for qualification. "In truth however, I suspect that it is simply because I was invited. When I approached the mysterious door, an oddly accented voice asked me inside with words about becoming his champion. I didn’t think much of it at the time and entered only out of curiosity."
"Buffy, this is fascinating. What did you find inside?" Ungarion lifted the bottle of Tamika's. "More wine, dear?"
Shaking my head, I continued, "A large outdoor area called the Fringe surrounded by high walls. I found a couple ruins of some sort and a small village named Passwall. Both the vegetation and creatures are unique. I haven't explored deeper into the realm."
"An elf with your curiosity?" The Altmer cocked his head. "Pray tell, why not?"
"Ungarion, you don't understand. The mayor of Passwall took me up to the passages that lead deeper into the Isles. The gates are guarded by a giant manlike beast that is perhaps three times my height and outweighs me tenfold. His right arm ends in a massive sword instead of a hand. I watched as he easily slew a group of steel-clad adventurers." I shivered as I recalled the slaughter wreaked by the gatekeeper.
I also remembered my guilt and anger after later seeking out Sheogorath's shrine. It was well south of Bravil along the Elsweyr border. What began as a harmless prank on the Khajiit of Borderwatch had turned out to be quite the cruel joke. Finally, I continued to Ungarion, "I know of no way to defeat the gatekeeper, and I surely don't care enough for the crazy little Daedric Prince of Madness to die trying. Besides, I have more pressing business in Kvatch." I reached for an apple and took a bite.
"Hmm," Ungarion rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment while his eyes traced across the ceiling, "have you come across any trinkets that might fetch a profit? Items that can only be found inside the Shivering Isles?"
"Well," I set down the apple, "the manner of dress over there is different, but I don't think you could make much gold from that." I decided not to share the lethal alchemical possibilities I had discovered. "There are gray-skinned creatures in the Fringe called grummites that remind me of goblins. They seem to have a tribal structure and are clever enough to make their own weapons and shields. Except for their bows, the items they make are heavy and crude." As I swirled my goblet, I remembered something else. "Oh, the general store in Passwell sells several varieties of wine that I've never seen in Cyrodiil."
"Wine?" The Altmer lifted an eyebrow. "I'll tell you what, Buffy. When your travels take you back there, I should love to see some samples of this grummite equipment. I also know a collector in Skingrad and another in Weye who would be quite interested in those wines you mentioned. I expect I could make it worth your while and quite appreciate you enlightening me some about the mystery." He raised his goblet.
"You're welcome, Ungarion." I smiled and once more we touched goblets. "Now, your turn again. You mentioned some information regarding the tournament?"
"Ah, yes." Ungarion frowned slightly. I thought I detected a slight squirm as the Altmer continued, "I recently sold a piece of merchandise - at a hefty profit I might add - that I believe might be of interest to you. Not that you would want the item of course, but rather that you will no doubt be concerned at the possible mischief it could cause."
"You have my attention, Ungarion," I set the goblet down, "go on."
"Well, truth be known, Buffy, I am not without affection for some of my friends here in Bravil such as yourself and Daenlin. I also know that this archery tournament is important to both of you." Ungarion shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "The item in question is a very powerful magic scroll that will temporarily drain the marksman skill from its target."
I glared at the Altmer and almost came out of my chair. "Ungarion, how could
you?!? You know as well as I how difficult the use of such a scroll is to detect! In the wrong hands, it could sabotage the results of this tournament. I don't really care about the event, but it's important to Daenlin." I narrowed my eyes and hissed, "Now, who did you sell it to?"
"I sold the scroll over a week ago," the Altmer replied sheepishly, his eyes grazing the floor. "It was only when the town began to transform for the tournament that the scroll's potential occurred to me. I must confess a quite unfamiliar twinge of guilt now. In my business however, revealing the name of a customer has lethal consequences."
"You, of all people, should know better and I'm furious with you! I-" Shutting my mouth, I continued to glare at the black marketeer. Calm down, Buffy. At least you know about the scroll. I took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. "All right, Ungarion, I don't want Daenlin's tournament getting sabotaged. I also don't want you or anyone else getting killed over it."
"Look, Buffy, I can't share the name of my customer. It could mean my life." His eyes met mine and I assessed his fear as genuine.
Ungarion was an accomplished mage. He was not without the ability to defend himself, yet he clearly feared this 'customer'. Whoever he had sold the scroll to was both ruthless and formidable. That was the only lead I had. "Very well, Ungarion," I finally replied, "the information you gave me about sigil stones will be helpful, and I do appreciate that. I'll ask around discretely and see if I can come up with anything about sabotaging the tournament - without revealing your involvement."
* From Buffy's scrapbook: ScreenshotThis post has been edited by Acadian: Apr 3 2011, 08:11 PM