Joined: 14-August 10
Chapter 6: A-Hunting We Shall Go
Calvus wanted to get some sleep before his evening bodyguard duties, so I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Bazaar, buying provisions and window-shopping. In one of the more up-market traders’ shops, I bought some imported Cyrodiilic goods as presents for the Sarethi family: a bottle of flin for Athyn, a tortoiseshell bowl for Domesea, and some fine doeskin gloves for Varvur. I briefly wondered if I should send a letter along with them: “Am enjoying the sights here in sunny Mournhold. Weather is fine, shame about all the people trying to kill me! Wish you were here, love Ada.”
The shop owner, Sunel Hlas, was well-dressed and polite but looked a bit depressed, and I asked him if business was going well. “Ah, fine,” he said with a sigh. “Azura knows there’s little else in the world worth doing. None of the rest of it matters... adventuring, fame, women. It’s all pointless.”
“There’s no happiness to be found – no lasting happiness, anyway. It’s all a sham. Oh, I didn’t always think so,” he added, as I opened my mouth to reply. “I had a wife once, and was madly in love with her. But then my foolishness took her away, and now here I am. Bitter, alone, and tired of life.”
Eeesh. “I’m… very sorry to hear that,” I said, a little startled. “Er, what happened to your wife?”
“The folly of youth,” he said with a sigh. “Had dreams, aspirations. I foolishly followed them, and took her to Vvardenfell for what was supposed to be a ‘great adventure’. I paid for my foolishness, paid in full – unfortunately, my wife was made to pay as well. She caught the Blight shortly after arriving, and her frail constitution couldn’t handle it. I lost her to the damned disease, and it ruined me.”
“Gods.” I didn’t know what to say. “How… how long ago did this happen?”
“A few years now.” He shook his head. “No one could replace her. None of the women I’ve ever known could ever replace her.”
“Really?” A sudden thought struck me. “Hmm…”
Hlas was looking at me through narrowed eyes. “What of it, Imperial? You think there’s anyone that could ever compare to my Dralasa?”
I hesitated for a moment, picturing Marena Gilnith in my mind’s eye. At first sight they certainly didn’t seem like an obvious match: the young, optimistic Marena and the middle-aged, embittered Sunel. On the other hand… he was wealthy and successful, and could offer her a comfortable home away from her life of drudgery. And the age gap might not matter as much to Dunmer; after all, they’d still have hundreds of years together.
“Possibly,” I said at last. “If… if I were able to arrange for you to meet her, would you do it?”
“Not sure. Who is she?”
“Marena Gilnith is her name.”
He screwed up his face. “I don’t know her. Don’t particularly care to either. But fine… if it will get you to leave me alone, then I’ll meet her. It’ll be a waste of time, though.”
Not quite the enthusiastic response I’d hoped for, but never mind. I’d see what Marena herself had to say about it.
Luckily it wasn’t difficult to find Marena; she was hanging around the Bazaar in the same spot where I’d met her for the first time. Her hopeful expression cut to my heart; she must have been coming there every day, hoping I’d found someone for her. I really didn’t want to have to disappoint her.
“Have you met someone, Ada?” she asked, looking a bit nervous all of a sudden. “I have to tell you up front that I’m very apprehensive about all this. I’m taking a big risk here, not to mention that I need to leave work for a bit. So you’d better be right about this.”
But no pressure or anything, right? Suddenly I felt almost as nervous as she was. “If you’ve found someone who’s all wrong for me, I’ll simply never forgive you,” she went on. “You sure you want to do this?”
By now I really wasn’t, but I owed it to Sunel to at least try. “Well, let me tell you a bit about him first,” I said hastily. “His name is Sunel Hlas and he owns one of the shops over there in the market. He’s a bit older than you,” I confessed, “but not elderly or disgusting or anything… anyway, you said you wanted someone worldly, and he definitely fits the bill. He’s travelled around all over the place.”
“Sunel Hlas, you say?” She paused. “Hmm... I think I’ve heard the name before, but can’t remember where.”
“There’s one more thing I should mention,” I said, bracing myself. “Sunel’s wife died of blight disease a while ago, and he’s… still rather sore about it. I think he’s ready to move on, but… I just thought I’d warn you so you’ll know to be a bit tactful with him. Okay?”
“Whew. Okay.” Marena shook her head. “I’m really trusting your judgment, Ada. Tell him to meet me at the Winged Guar two days from now. I do hope he’s nice...”
Feeling less confident every minute, I went back to tell Sunel the good news. Why the heck did I let myself get talked into setting up a blind date? I knew these things almost never worked out.
If Marena’s response had put me on edge, Sunel’s made me grind my teeth in frustration. “I don’t know why I’m even discussing this,” he muttered. “There’s no way this is going to work out. It’ll just end in heartbreak. Oh, very well, I’ll meet her.”
I looked at him in disbelief. “Why? If you’ve already decided it’s going to be a disaster, why even bother?”
“Don’t know.” He wouldn’t meet my eyes.
“Look, Sunel,” I said in exasperation, “couldn’t you at least try to be optimistic? For her sake, if not for yours? She’s taking a risk too, you know.” He said nothing. “Look at it this way: you’ve nothing to lose. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be proved right; if it does, well, it could be the start of something really special. Either way, you win.”
He didn’t say anything, just stared mulishly at the floor. Heaving a weary sigh, I turned to leave, wanting to kick both him and myself. Oh well: if the date crashed and burned, which it probably would, at least the worst that could happen was that both of them would be a bit annoyed with me. You can’t win ’em all, I suppose.
When I got back to the Winged Guar in Godsreach, a Bosmer was pacing angrily up and down outside the door. “Damn that villainous, clay-brained Nord!” he snarled, as I passed. “I hate him! I swear by the teeth of Molag Bal himself I’ll have revenge on that corprus-licking ignoramus.”
I looked at him through narrowed eyes. “Can I help you?”
“Why, yes!” he exclaimed, and I instantly regretted my choice of words. “My name’s High-Pockets. I came in here for a drink, minding my own damned business, when that guar-loving drunkard Holmar started raving and making fun of me. He grabbed me by the shirt, slid me across the bar, and then kicked me out the door. He’ll be singing all of Saryoni’s Sermons at once when I’ve had my revenge!”
Having had first-hand experience of just how annoying male Wood Elves could be, I suspected this might not be the whole story. “And how do you plan to get your revenge?”
“Well, I’ll – I’ll…” He paused. “Listen, Imperial. How would you like to help me go in there and teach that flea-bitten, dampworm-infested Nord the lesson of his life?”
I winced; the last thing I needed today was to get into yet another fight. “Well, I’m not going to beat someone up just on your say-so,” I told him. “I’ll have a word with this Holmar, okay? But I’m not promising anything.”
“Fantastic!” He began to make for the door, and then hesitated. “Um… you’re bigger than me, so I’ll follow you. He’s right inside the bar there.”
I found Holmar the Nord on the upper floor of the tavern, swaying gently on his feet with a mug of sujamma clutched in his hand. He didn’t look capable of walking straight, let alone picking someone up and throwing them out of the bar, but I knew from experience that drunkards could be surprisingly strong. I wished I’d thought to put on my enchanted gauntlets before tackling him. I didn’t want to use a sword on an unarmed man, and I didn’t fancy my chances in a fistfight – even if he was blind drunk.
“Evening, Holmar,” I said, trying to appear tough but non-threatening. “My friend here says you’ve been bullying him.”
“Wha’s that?” He hiccupped several times. “Who… who’s there? Gimme another drink, you cockamamie bastar…” He blinked, and his eyes focussed on the little Bosmer. “Hey ... Hey, this mus’ be about that blasted Wood Elf I just tossed out of here, right? Hehehehe.”
High-Pockets shrank back as Holmar took a lurching step towards him. “Stupid little Wood Elves,” he muttered. “Back for another round, eh?”
I stepped between them before he could get any closer. “Hey, calm down,” I said, raising a hand soothingly, and quickly cast my Voice of the Emperor power on him. “No need to get nasty, OK? How about you leave my friend alone, and I buy you another drink?”
To my relief, it worked. Holmar’s bleary eyes swung away from High-Pockets’ face and towards mine. “Wha?” he murmured, and then his face lit up as the word ‘drink’ filtered through to his brain. “Well, ’m not one to turn down a drink. Barkeep! Gimme two more s’jammas, now! I like one in each hand.”
I paid over the extortionate price of sixty septims, and we both watched Holmar gulp down the two sujammas. I guessed that another drink or two would be enough to wipe him out, and I was right. As he drained the last few drops from his tankard, a glazed expression came over his eyes and he slowly keeled over, hitting the floor with a satisfying thud.
High-Pockets let out a yelp of delight. “Yes! I’d have liked to bash his kwama-cuttle-infested head in, but I have to hand it to you. That was some smooth handling.” He fumbled around in one of his many pockets. “I don’t have much to give in thanks, but here, take this money.”
He dropped a handful of coins into my hands – to my surprise, rather more than I’d spent on the drinks – along with yet another enchanted ring. I felt a bit guilty about taking a reward from him when I’d hardly even done anything. “That’s OK, I don’t – ”
But he was already heading off towards the bar. I turned back to see Hession, the owner of the tavern, looking in my direction.
“Nicely handled,” she said approvingly. (I think that’s quite possibly the first approving look I’ve ever had from a High Elf.) “You dealt with that very well. Might you be interested in helping me with some work I need taken care of?”
“Hmph.” It was getting late, and I was tired and hungry. “What sort of work?”
“Well, you see, my usual bouncer Grub didn’t show today.” She pursed her lips in annoyance. “Probably got lost in the Pavilion again, the Orcish ninny. Anyway, would you be willing to stand in for him? All you would have to do is make one sweep through the bar crowd. If memory serves, we don’t get too many people coming and going this time of day.”
I’d never worked as a bouncer before. Most of them tend to be hefty, muscle-bound Nords and Orcs – if you can intimidate people with your sheer size, you’re halfway there already. “What will you pay me?” I asked, too tired to bother dancing around the subject.
“A thousand gold, if you handle it well. And a meal and drink on the house,” she added, correctly guessing what was more important to me right now.
Pretty good pay for one evening’s work, I had to say. Even with the wealth I had now, a thousand gold wasn’t to be sniffed at. “Okay, I’ll do it,” I said recklessly.
“Fantastic! Here’s all you have to do: Go around and talk to everyone in the bar. If they’re too drunk, or unruly, or just a bad character, throw them out. Report to me when you’re done.”
Reluctantly I began a slow tour of the bar, looking out for potential troublemakers. Most people seemed to be behaving themselves well enough, but one guy in particular drew my eye – another Bosmer, funnily enough. He was standing in the middle of the room with a black scowl on his face, rambling loudly about ‘foreigners’ to no one in particular, and swearing viciously at anyone who passed too close to him. My heart sank – this guy showed all the signs of being about to turn nasty, and if that happened, I’d already used up my Mr. Nice Guy option.
I approached him cautiously. “Everything all right, sir?”
With some effort, the man focussed his rather glazed eyes on my face. “Hey, hey, watch it there.” He hiccupped loudly. “Why’re you harass…harass…harassin’ me? I ain’t done nothing to you. *Hic!*”
“I’m not harassing you, sir, just – ”
“Damn you, you dirty Imperial!” he snarled, before I could finish. “Always…. *hic!* …always causing problems.”
Uh-oh, this wasn’t going well. “I’m not the one causing problems, sir,” I said mildly. “I think you should calm down a bit.”
This just made things worse. The Bosmer shoved his face up close to mine – well, as close as he could get given that he barely came up to my shoulder. “Not for the likes of a dirty Imperial like you, you… you… bubble-faced puke!” he spat, giving me a whiff of breath that smelled like Oblivion’s brewery. “I can say whatever I want to say, and nobody can stop me. NOBODY!”
I kept my cool. “Sir, you’ve had quite enough. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“No, I’m not coming with you, you dirty Imperial!” He wrenched away from my grasp as I laid a hand on his arm. “Who knows what revolting tricks you’ll pull when we’re alone… *hic!* GET AWAY FROM ME!”
Before I could react he had lashed out suddenly with one of his small fists, hitting me square on the nose. I have to say, for such a little guy he packed quite a punch. I backed off a couple of steps, momentarily stunned, and he ran at me with fists flying. “You won’t take me in… you CAN’T! Victory or… VICTORY!!”
This time I managed to dodge the clumsy blow and grabbed him by the collar, shoving him back into a wall. Behind me, Hession the bar owner let out a shriek. “Please don’t kill anyone! Knock him out if you must, but don’t kill him!”
I’d no intention of killing anyone, but what stumped me was how to deal with the guy without hurting him too badly. I really really didn’t want a repeat of that night on the road near Cheydinal, and this man was a lot smaller than the one I’d accidentally killed. I tried casting my Star of the West spell, and he staggered heavily but didn’t fall. Gods, this little guy was tough!
As he started to beat at my chest with his fists, I grabbed his arms with both hands to hold him back and kneed him hard in the groin. He let out a wail of anguish and sank to the ground, whimpering, as the spell finally did its work.
I tasted blood on my lip, and realised that it was trickling down from my nose. Sighing, I cast a quick healing spell and cleaned myself off as best I could with a rag from the bar. As Hession sighed with relief, and a couple of other patrons carried off the unconscious Wood Elf, a Breton barmaid sidled up to me.
“Are you filling in for Grub?” I nodded. “Could you do anything about Galms Seles? He’s a hustler just moved here from Vvardenfell. He thinks he can out-distance his reputation, but a friend in Sadrith Mora tipped me off. I wish he would leave – he’s put a damper on the action.”
I followed her gaze to the nondescript Dark Elf sitting at a nearby table. “Okay, I’ll see what I can do.”
As I walked up to Seles, he gave me what I guessed was his most charming smile. “Hello there, Imperial. Up for a game of shells?” He indicated some pieces of shell on the table in front of him. “I’ll put this coin under one of these three mudcrab shell pieces I have here, and then mix them up – ”
Gods. I can’t believe people still fall for that old trick. “I know how it works,” I interrupted him, “and I know how you make sure nobody ever wins that bet. People here are on to you, Seles. You’d better clean up your act before you end up like our Bosmer friend back there.”
His face paled. “Damn! Who told you? C’mon, buddy, don’t be too hard on me – I was just trying to make a few extra gold!” I narrowed my eyes. “Look, if you let me stay, I promise I’ll give everyone fair odds. If anyone complains of me cheating, they can tell Hession and I’ll be out of here in an instant. Okay?”
I doubted I could trust him to keep that promise, but I couldn’t really be bothered to take it any further. I couldn’t help thinking people had only themselves to blame if they let themselves be fooled so easily. “Make sure you do,” I said, fixing him with my sternest glare. “I’ll be back to check.”
I did another quick round of the bar to make sure no one else was causing any problems, then spoke the barmaid to check on Galms Seles. It seemed that he was behaving himself, at least as long as I was nearby. Satisfied, I went back to Hession to claim my reward.
“Fantastic!” she exclaimed, once I’d given her a run-down of the situation. “Grub couldn’t have done it better himself. Here’s your payment – and thank you.”
She hurried to the bar to order my free meal and drink from Ra’Tesh the bartender, then left me to enjoy it in peace. I wolfed it all down as quickly as I could and then went back to my room, where Calvus was just waking up. “There you are,” he said, stifling a yawn. “Been having fun?”
“You could say that. I set up a blind date and filled in for a missing bouncer.”
“Oh? You do get around, don’t you?” He yawned again. “Okay, I guess I’m back on sentry duty. Sleep tight.”
I have to say that I felt a lot safer with him guarding the door – though no one tried to attack me that night either. I still wasn’t willing to let my guard down, but it looked like Helseth might have given up, at least for the moment.
The next morning I went back to the Ebonheart Council Chambers to find Llerar Mandas. I gave him the presents I’d bought for the Sarethis and asked him to have them couriered to Ald’ruhn as soon as possible, telling him they were important documents. I think he might have wondered why the ‘important documents’ were gift-wrapped, but he didn’t say anything.
I planned to take up the Goblin Hunt again that day, but first I wanted to do some research and find out where they actually were. This was easier said than done, however – I couldn’t just walk up to someone in the street and go “Seen any goblins lately, mate?” Instead I had to try and strike up conversations with shopkeepers, guards and street cleaners, and find a way to bring up the subject without seeming suspicious.
A lot of people had heard the rumours about goblins in the city, but none of them seemed to have any idea where they might be. I was about to give up when I ran into a shabby-looking, barefoot Nord man near the Winged Guar. He smiled at me, his expression friendly but rather vacant. “Hello, nice lady!”
“Hello,” I said cautiously, suspecting that he was a beggar.
“You see Dilborn?” he went on. “Dilborn my friend! Dilborn gone three days now, and Thrud sad.”
I guessed from this little speech that the Nord’s name was Thrud, and that he was a few icicles short of a glacier, if you know what I mean. “No, I haven’t seen your friend Dilborn,” I said, speaking slowly and clearly to make sure he understood. “What does he look like?”
Thrud’s face lit up. “Dilborn big and mighty wizard! Dilborn read books to Thrud… all the words, big words, two, maybe three times. Now Dilborn gone, no one read books to Thrud.”
He looked so sad that I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. Quite the gentle giant, clearly – despite the ebony war axe strapped to his back. “Where did you lose Dilborn, Thrud?”
Thrud thought for a moment. “Thrud see Dilborn go down in sewers near here. Dilborn go to sewers lots to meet friends, Dilborn says. Most times, Dilborn back soon, and happy, happy. But Dilborn not back soon now.” He paused, fixing hopeful puppy-dog eyes on my face. “You help Thrud find Dilborn?”
Oh gods, not again. I don’t want to sound heartless, but this was getting ridiculous. I was about to tell him that I really didn’t have time to search for his friend, when suddenly an idea came to me. “Thrud, did you see any goblins down in the sewers? You know, goblins? Ugly little green things with sharp teeth and pointy ears?”
The big Nord pondered this for a long time, literally about half a minute. I could practically see the cog-wheels slowly grinding around in his brain. “Yes, goblins in sewers,” he said at last. “But Dilborn say we stay away from goblins. Goblins VERY nasty.”
“The goblins are here in Godsreach? Underneath these houses?”
He hesitated, then nodded. “Okay Thrud,” I said, still speaking as slowly as possible. “I will help you find your friend Dilborn, if you show me where the goblins are. Okay?” He nodded again. “I’m just going to find my friend Calvus, then I’ll come back and we’ll look for Dilborn. All right?”
I left the cheerful-looking Thrud nodding enthusiastically and hurried back into the Winged Guar to wake up Calvus. “I’ve found out where the goblins are.”
“Oh? Good.” He didn’t look hugely enthusiastic, I have to say. “So we’re going after them now, are we?”
“Soon. First we’re going to rescue a missing wizard.”
Caius raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. I think he was getting used to my habit of doing unnecessary favours for random strangers. We took some time to eat and prepare our weapons and equipment, then went back outside the Winged Guar, where a much more cheerful-looking Thrud was waiting patiently for us. When he saw me, a huge grin spread over his face.
“Thrud happy, happy, nice lady.” He waved his axe enthusiastically in the air, making both of us instinctively shrink back a little. “Find Dilborn now, yes?”
“Yes, we’ll find him now. Can you show us the way, Thrud?”
Thrud led the way to the sewers, singing loudly and tunelessly as he went along. “I hope he’s not dangerous,” Calvus muttered behind his back.
“I doubt it.” Even so, I had to hope that Thrud’s friend Dilborn was still alive and well, or the scene that followed wouldn’t be pretty. I hated to think what would happen if we found his remains in a goblin’s stew-pot.
The Godsreach sewers looked pretty much like the ones in other parts of the city, with dank passages half-blocked by the occasional rock fall. We hadn’t gone very far before we heard voices in the distance. “Hold up,” I said to the other two. “I’m going ahead to scout out the place. Thrud, you must be very quiet, okay? Shhh.”
I slipped on the Amulet of Shadows and hurried out into the sewer intersection, leaving the others in the shelter of a large boulder. Behind a rusty grate, I could see three figures: some tough-looking Dunmer and a scrawny Breton with slave bracers on his arms. He was completely naked and flanked on both sides by two of the men, who were clearly guarding him. Could this be the ‘big and mighty wizard’ Thrud had described?
I slipped back behind the boulder and pulled off the amulet. “Thrud, what does Dilborn look like?” I whispered. “A Breton man, about this high, shoulder-length brown hair?” He nodded. “Well, he’s here in the sewers. Some bad men are holding him prisoner.”
Thrud let out a low, rumbling growl, and reached for his axe. “No!” I whispered urgently. “If you just run out there and attack them, they might hurt Dilborn.” He hesitated, and I beckoned him and Calvus towards me. “Okay, I think I have a plan. Listen very carefully to what I want you to do…”
I had to explain the plan three times over before Thrud understood it, but eventually he got the idea. I handed the Amulet of Shadows to Calvus, who slipped it on and disappeared into the intersection. Thrud and I followed, weapons at the ready, walking slowly along in plain sight of the Dunmer until we were close enough to speak to them. The nearest of the three – a wiry, tattooed man wearing glass boots and bracers – stepped forward to greet us.
“Well, well, look what the scrib dragged in.” His gaze flickered from me to Thrud, and back again. “Drathas Neras, at your service. I suppose you’re here to rescue our little Dilborn, eh? Then I suggest you don’t make any sudden moves. You see, when people owe me money, I get a bit touchy.”
“And I take it Dilborn here owes you money?”
“That’s right. We indulge in a bit of gambling down here from time to time – away from the prying eyes of the guards, you know? And Dilborn is one of our best customers.” His lips twisted into a mirthless grin. “Attack me, and my men have orders to kill Dilborn first – poor, naked, defenceless Dilborn. But if you’re here to settle Dilborn’s debts… well, we may be able to work something out.”
I sighed. “Okay, let’s not beat about the bush. How much does he owe you?”
“He currently owes… if my memory serves me right… yes, 3,000 septims. And he’s not leaving here until he pays his debts.”
“Well, I’m not paying you 3,000 for that idiot.” Beside me, Thrud let out a grunt of protest. “Shut up, Thrud. Okay Neras, make it 1,000 and you might have a deal.”
Neras’ smile grew even nastier. “I really don’t think you’re in any position to negotiate, Imperial. Remember, any sudden moves on your part and Dilborn dies instantly.”
“Look behind you,” I said. His eyes narrowed slightly and he half-turned towards his guards, making sure to keep both me and Thrud in sight.
Under cover of the amulet’s Chameleon spell, Calvus had snuck up behind the two men guarding Dilborn, and paralysed them by just pricking their skin with the tip of his glass jinkblade – the one he’d ‘liberated’ from the wizard Gavis Velas. After that he had dropped one of them to the ground with his own Star of the West spell, and pressed the tip of his blade right up against the other’s throat. Drathas swallowed hard and turned back towards me, an expression of baffled rage on his face.
“Still sure you don’t want to settle?” I asked. “Look at it this way: at least you’ll get some money rather than none. And you’ll be alive, of course.”
Neras ground his teeth, but he had enough sense to know he was beaten. “All right,” he said at last. “But only because I can’t abide his constant whining. Give me the money, and I’ll let him go.”
It was a good thing I still had that thousand given to me by Hession, I thought, as I counted out the money. I wouldn’t have liked to leave Drathas here with only Thrud as a guard.
“All right, he can go,” he said, once he’d counted the money I’d given him. “Alam, remove his bracers.” Calvus had released the second guard, having put his weapon well out of reach, but he was still watching him like a hawk with his blade at the ready.
The guard unlocked Dilborn’s bracers, and he slowly backed away from his captors, keeping as far away from Neras as possible. As he edged nervously round to join us, Thrud let out a cry of joy. “Dilborn back! Dilborn back!”
“Oh, shut up, you witless man-child.” Neras turned towards Dilborn. “Dilborn, never show your face to me again, or I’ll slice it off with a rusty spoon, you hear me? Now get lost, all of you.”
We left, making sure the thugs weren’t following us. Once we were safely out of the sewers, Thrud practically fell on me, enveloping me in a huge bear-hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thrud happy, Dilborn happy, ALL happy!”
“That’s… okay… Thrud,” I wheezed, hoping my ribs weren’t broken. “You can let go now.”
Dilborn gave me a rather embarrassed smile. “Thank you, Imperial – I am in your debt. Alas, in my present financially embarrassed condition, it is a debt I cannot repay. I fear that, under the circumstances, your own virtue must be sufficient reward.”
I was about to speak when Thrud, who had been scrabbling about in the large pouch on his belt, thrust a dog-eared book into my hands. “Here, Ada. Take Thrud’s favourite book. It is very good… many words… on both sides of pages.”
“Thank you, Thrud,” I said, trying to keep a straight face. “Dilborn, Calvus and I are looking for goblins in the sewers. Do you know where to find them?”
After Dilborn had helpfully explained – even drawing a rough map showing the layout of the sewers – Calvus and I set out once again on our goblin hunt. When we entered the western part of the sewers, we were faced with a choice of two passageways: one wide and well-lit, the other dark, narrow and twisty. “What do you think?” I asked Calvus. “Which way?”
He thought for a moment. “Let’s try the cave. At least there’ll be more cover.”
He was right about that, as it turned out; unfortunately there was also a half-flooded cavern with a waterfall. By the time we’d waded through, we were so soaked with spray that we had to stop and dry ourselves off. There was no sign of the goblins so far, but I couldn’t help feeling glad about that.
A short way on we found ourselves back in the main part of the sewers. Just where the cave widened into the sewer passage, behind some huge stalagmites, we came across an heavily-armoured Nord man sitting on a bedroll. When he saw us he leapt up with an exclamation, hefting a massive warhammer in our direction.
“Hold it!” I took a step backwards, lowering my sword slightly. “We’re not here to fight.”
The man eyed us suspiciously, still grasping his hammer. “What do you want?”
“We’re just here to hunt goblins.” I glanced around at the Nord’s makeshift bedroom, which was scattered with empty bottles and bits of old food. “What are you doing here?”
He scowled, but lowered his weapon slightly. “I’m Hloggar the Bloody, and what I do here is my business.”
“Okay, fine. You leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone, all right?” He nodded, and stood aside to let us pass. Then, without the slightest warning, the roars started.
“Sh*t!” Hloggar’s head snapped round. “They’re coming – ” He got no further, because two goblins and a war durzog were barrelling down the passage towards us.
Now the goblins I’d fought in Cyrodiil were fairly tame opponents – nasty, but nothing to strike fear into the heart of an experienced warrior. These were different. These ones were huge and muscle-bound, more like Orcs. Even with one of us matched against each of them, and Hloggar fighting the durzog – like an attack dog, only twice as big and twice as mean – that battle was a damn close call. The goblins weren’t exactly skilled fighters, but they were so bloody tough – no matter how many times you hit them, they just refused to go down.
When all three were finally vanquished, the three of us retreated to lick our wounds, bruised and battered. “Phew.” Hoggar wiped away the sweat that was streaming from his brow. “Wasn’t expecting that. Guess I should think myself lucky you guys were here.”
Calvus and I said nothing, but exchanged worried glances. It looked like this goblin hunt was going to be rather tougher than we had thought.