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Tellie
Authors note: This first post will be an intro written by me for our 'NPC' Njaal, and will effectively be the start of our RP, read it well as all the information we need is right here (for the most part).

City of Anvil, Year 425 Third Era, The Flowing Bowl.

Njaal Mead-Brewer was a man on a mission, WAS being the keyword here as he was at this very moment quite unconsolable and perhaps more than intoxicated than your average drunkard in a Tavern. He had travelled all across Cyrodiil in search of a few lucky men or women to help him (and coincidentally earn a good bit of gold doing so) but none were willing "Payment up front" they all said.

You see Njaal was a (perhaps not famous yet) mead brewer. His mead so good that it would rival even the Black Briar's own mead, had the blasted Black Briars not hired mercenaries to raid his brewery and stolen the dwemer plates upon which he had carved the recipie in coded language.

He knew the sellswords were still in Cyrodiil as due to growing discontent in the province the borders were all tightly controlled and descriptions of the mercenaries had already been given to the guards. He only hoped that perhaps here in Anvil he might find someone to track down the plates, he had already given the innkeeper a handsome tip to 'refer' anyone who might be on the lookout for quick (and dangerous) credits, so now he just had to wait.
Tellie
Athyn, The Flowing Bowl

Athyn let out a sigh of relief as he entered the small inn. His last contract (escorting a snobbish nobleman from Bruma to Anvil) had really tested his dedication and there had been more than once he contemplated simply caving the blasted Breton's head in and leave him in a ditch, seriously, who cared if some mud got on his shoes? The blasted man-child should excpect that traveling on the roads would invariably lead to him getting dirty.

Still he grit his teeth and moved on, shuffling a pair of hungry wolves and a trio of bandits off the mortal coil. Truly the only amusement he'd had was when the man had been thoroughly seduced (and robbed) by a pair of lovely wenches when they stopped at Kvatch, regaining said money by turning the tables on the the two maids (he had his doubts about that status) had been most satisfying, and the remaining trip to Anvil was most satisfactory, knowing that his pockets was full of the man's coin and that he'd recieve more when they reached the man's father in Anvil (he'd warned him not to enter that establishment after all).

Heading towards Maelorn who was as ever found behind his trusty bar Athyn stopped briefly to surreptitiously lift the coin purse from a Nord that was so deep in his cups that an invasion could occur with him being none the wiser. Sliding a pair of coins over the bar to Maelorn he grimaced as he was provided with a drink of ale and a bowl of what looked suspiciously like leek soup.

"Really Maelorn? When are you going to learn that no one likes your leek soup?" he asked.

"Ah but this one's different", Maelorn said with a grin. "Twice as many leeks in it, this week only".

Athyn viciously resisted the urge to slap his forehead, being twice the amount of leeks in it further exacerbated the situation, not that the blasted Bosmer would ever admit to it. "So, any work around?" he asked.

Athyn had always made a point of getting to know three kinds of people in the world. Innkeepers, maids/servants and beggars. Coin (or a rougish grin to wenches) was usually enough to make them part with information and those three types of people knew most of what was going on in a town.

"There's a Nord there who is looking to hire someone who are not afraid to get their hands dirty", Maelorn said, pointing at a rather...portly man with long brown hair and a truly impressive beard.

Having nothing better to do, and in need of money (he had more than a few children and grandchildren scatered about Tamriel as a direct result of his dalliances over the centuries, and while he had his doubts about some of them, he did try his best to take some responsibility...and really, who could resist grandchildren), so he made his way over to the Nord who was seated in a corner, gleefully picking up a stray coin on the floor as he did.

Alright folks, let's get started, Uleni will come when he/she does
Callidus Thorn

Edril all but collapsed into the rich upholstery of one of the chairs at The Count's Arms, relishing the comfort after days of sleeping rough and traveling. The sensation was even powerful enough to counter the mild unease caused by the absence of his armour. Over the decades he'd grown accustomed to wearing it even when he wasn't expecting any danger, having heard that Divayth Fyr was rumoured to do the same. But his recent misadventure had resulted in some close-quarters combat, resulting in the armour requiring the ministrations of Morvayn, who had assured Edril it would be ready by the morning.

With an imperious gesture, Edril summoned the proprietor. Wilbur had gotten used to Edril's habits, the expense and the promptness of payment more than making up for the arrogance, and Edril always stopped short of actually being rude, even if only just. "The usual, Wilbur." He said to the balding Redguard. "And I'll be needing a room for the next day or two."

"I thought you'd intended to stay longer? Did the expedition go badly?"

"About as badly as it could have gone. Not only had Garlas Agea been plundered of anything Ayleid of significance, but it had become the lair of a Necromancer coven. I was forced to slay them and their creations, and the proceeds from selling what I could salvage of their possessions won't even cover the cost of repairing the damage to my armour. Anvil is bleeding me dry, and I must head west while I still have the coin to do so."

Wilbur glanced around, failing to be casual in Edril's eyes, though the effort probably fooled the other patrons. "I keep an ear open on my customers' behalf from time to time, and I've heard something that might interest you. While you were out of the city, a Nord arrived, a portly fellow, with long brown hair and too much beard. He's set himself up at the Flowing Bowl and has asked the brothers to put the word out that he's looking for some skilled help. The sort that can look after themselves, for a job that promises to pay well, for those that can survive it."

Edril grimaced, the burn on his cheek pulling the corner of his mouth into an even more distinguished sneer. "I'm not sure which sounds the less appealing prospect; entering The Flowing Bowl, or trusting to rumour."

Wilbur shook his head. "No rumour this. Azzan was in here yesterday, collecting a new shipment of wine for his Guild. He mentioned that this fellow had approached him, but that the Guild had had to turn it down. Nothing illegal, you understand, I think the fellow was just a little too vague for the Guild."

Edril stroked his goatee, eyes gazing through the opposite wall for a moment, before he reached a decision. "Wilbur, fetch me a better vintage for tonight, will you? If I'm to head to The Flowing Bowl I'll need to properly prepare myself."
Acadian
IPB Image

The Flowing Bowl was a bit rough, being located on the docks of a harbor renowned for its exotic mercantile trade, fishing and history of piracy. Maenlorn’s evening ‘catch of the day’, however, made dinner there something Buffy enjoyed during her visits to the Gold Coast. Having crossed the Strid River from Valenwood and arrived within the hour, she had hastily groomed and stabled her mare. Still wearing buckskins, she had foregone a courtesy call upon the local guild of mages and ordered her dinner shortly after the day’s catch had been delivered to the tavern. The grilled slaughterfish steak she had just finished offered no disappointment.

Lifting her goblet and slowly swirling the ruby Tamika nectar within, she noticed Maenlorn speaking with a Dunmer. The dark elf looked hardened enough to fit in at the waterfront but, unlike the other men, mer and tailed-folk of the docks, did not appear to have a seagoing air about him.

Overhearing only parts of their conversation, she gathered that the very large bearded Nord seated in the corner was looking to hire mercenaries. Buffy concluded the Dunmer was interested, as he made his way toward the Nord.

As Maenlorn came over to clear away Buffy’s plate, she tilted her head toward the Nord in the corner and questioningly lifted an eyebrow.

The fellow Bosmer’s ever-cheerful reply was subdued in volume. “Yes, sister. No idea of the details, but he said he needs some help righting a wrong. From folks that are no strangers to violence.”

Buffy produced a small metallic card from the pouch at her hip and passed it to the innkeeper. “Would you be so kind?”

Maenlorn nodded and took the object. As he headed over to deliver it to the bearded Son of Skyrim, he read the fancy engraving upon the rectangle of thin mithril steel that fit easily in his hand. The silhouette of a rider upon an armored horse was depicted above the words, ‘Have bow, will travel.’
Darkness Eternal
It was a silent, gentle, pristine time of day in the Gold Coast, and as the evening sun shone pale through the dews and the plains that hovered around Kraven in the summer birdless quiet, it was like the morn like the sharing of the et'Ada with the breath of creation fresh upon it.

From the rocky sides of Fort Strand, Kraven got a clear and open view of the countryside, including several of the farmhouses that dotted the landscape. He heard the seagulls sing and behind him was the serenity and stillness of Anvil. The gulls would fly about in the sky. Fishermen in boats, far out, would call to each other in hymning voices until all was still. And in that stilness, with a red new world beneath his feet that spread out before his eyes, gorged upon blood and insides, he shivered with the knowledge of mortality.

A young deer lay at his feet, torn asunder by the Tiber's hungry jaws. His pet wolf-dog had chased the fawn out into the open, tackling it down and feasting upon it. Kraven didn't mind that his quarry was saliva-ridden; Tiber deserved a good hunt, and the spoils that came from it. As for Kraven himself, the young man happily sucked on an open orange as he watched his loyal canine eat away. For over an hour he lay there in the grass, taking a nap. After his hound nudged him with his snout, Kraven woke up, packed, and descended the hills onto Anvil.

His uncle had been staying with his mother while his father was away at the docks; Kraven had an argument with them regarding his father's state. She should've left the man when she had the chance yet she clinged to the notion that he could change. Kraven breathed in the fresh air he needed after agressively voicing his opinion.

Uncle was right, he reflected. It is best I take some time off from my duties and go my way.

Anvil was a city ripe for merchants, pirates, sailors and sea-loving folk. With a heavy Redguard presence, Kraven thought it best to visit there to get in touch with his Redguard roots. He said as much to Tiber, who snorted at his comment. Kraven stiffled a chuckle. "Ah, and I heard women here are beautiful, too, this time of year. Lots of em' come for the summer."


After several miles, the young man arrived at the docks. Merchants, sailors, and other folks of the ocean trade scrambled about in their various tasks; selling their fishy wares, carrying crates for the markets, proclaiming their wares in loud voices that announced good luck charms, ill-smelling nostrums, mystic talismans and small carved statues of Divine and Daedra that promised a safe travel at sea.

Kraven bumped into several folks as he made his way to The Flowing Bowl, keeping a smart hand on his knapsack as Tiber followed beside him. Pickpockets are everywhere in Cyrodiil. Anvil attracted dishonest sailors, and in most cases, pirates. While he could go in the city, his hunger and above all, thirst and need to rest pointed him toward the nearest establishment. He entered.

The Flowing Bowl wasn't too large, but had quite then number of patrons. From dark elves, to imperials, to wood elves. The latter was in abundance. The owner of the place was a wood elf named Maenlorn. Kraven knew him from the first few times he's visited Anvil. A short trip, those were. He never overstayed his welcome. He paid no attention to Tiber as he was accustomed to the animal's presence. Tiber never left any gifts while inside.

Kraven walked up the counter, greeted the owner, and ordered a meal for the night. He had enough coin for a bed and some food. I'll get more coin later. Maybe someone is hiring for some work around here. Pay me a few septims to help carry crates to the ships, or sweep something.

After ordering two loaves of bread, cheese-wheel, mutton and cheap wine, Kraven fumbled about in his knapsack for his coin purse . . . only to discover that it was missing!

Damn, what in Oblivion? He checked his pockets, his shirt, even his boots. He had nothing.

He turned to look at Tiber and saw that the beast was nowhere near him. Gazing about the Imperial at last found the wolf-dog, standing on his hind legs and begging at the lap of a petite blue-eyed Bosmer woman whom just had finished eating her slaughterfish. Tiber was sniffing at her satchel. She must of had something he liked.

No, no, no, Kraven thought as he rushed over to the animal. "Tiber, down!" he approached the table, apologizing at once "Sorry. His belly seems to have no end. He just ate not long ago."

He pulled the animal, and as he sought to leave, he turned and went face-to-face with Maenlorn, who smiled at him with a full platter and said, "Here's your food. That'll be seven septims."

Kraven looked at his hound, and made one last desperate attempt to conjure the lost coin he needed to pay for his food. His hands searched pockets he knew were empty. His face flushed a deep red, and he looked at the Bosmer woman for a fleeting moment.

An Imperial ordering food with no coin. How I look the beggar now. Should've ate that deer, and camped out by the fort. Nevermind the dangers.
Acadian
IPB Image

Buffy lost sight of Maenlorn, as the tavern was crowded and most of its patrons were taller than the Bosmeri innkeeper. She would let her calling card do her talking and if the Nord wanted to contact her, Maenlorn knew she would be staying at the local Mages Guild for at least a couple days.

Her mind wandered to crafting a mental shopping list of items she needed to restock her provisions after several weeks in Valenwood. After all, Anvil was rivaled only by the Imperial City when it came to shopping.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the heavy breathing and cold nose of a large dog – well, he looked more like a gray wolf actually, whose attention went straight to the magic satchel at her hip. She couldn’t repress a smile as her hand went instinctively to pet the dog’s head. She suspected his interest was in the small bit of slaughterfish steak she had slipped into the pouch for her own vixen familiar to share with Thauron’s pet imp, Sparky, later at the guild hall.

“Tiber, down!” Tiber did as directed. The Imperial behind the voice wore roughspun clothes and black hair that danced over his shoulders. His hazel eyes and next words carried an apology for Tiber’s intrusion, mentioning that the dog had only very recently eaten.

Before Buffy could reply, Maenlorn appeared with what was clearly the man’s dinner and named his price for the meal.

As the Imperial fished for coins in his knapsack, then pockets, his face reddened. He looked at Tiber as if for help, then briefly at Buffy.

If the man was acting, he was more skillful at it than most of the bards Buffy had trained with. But his youth, calloused hands and sun-bronzed skin spoke more to the outdoors and familiarity with hard work. More to non-urban naiveté perhaps than to skillfully running confidence games. Ultimately, she decided he had likely fallen prey to one of the docks’ highly skilled pickpockets. Producing the seven septims necessary to free the Imperial’s dinner, she motioned for Maenlorn to place the meal on her table. “I shan’t let a man who takes care of his animal’s needs before his own go hungry. Join me?”
Darkness Eternal
“I shan’t let a man who takes care of his animal’s needs before his own go hungry. Join me?” was the sound of his salvation. A soothing voice, coming from the miniature sized wood elf who's buisiness Tiber stuck his nose in. He appraised the blond Mer with a quizzical look, and after a moment he had to smile at her generosity.

In this day and age, how difficult was it for a person to trust anyone, let alone offer a kind hand and empty their own pockets to fill another's belly. What goes around, comes around, was the popular saying and the Imperial saw that his selfless care of his companion had more or less had a hand in the woman's charitable act.

Kraven swallowed, scratched the back of his head and nodded to Maenlorn before taking a seat across from the young woman. From there he was given a better view of the lady before him; she was young as he was, perhaps, and judging by her race alone and the buckskin shoes that covered her feet, he guessed she might have been a hunter or something. He didn't see a bow, however, and so he dismissed this notion.

An adventurer, he reckoned. Looks to be the sort. Probably makes good coin. Tamika wine sure isn't cheap.

Maenlorn had placed the food he ordered on the table, and Kraven broke a loaf of his bread with the meat within and gave it to Tiber, who wolfed it down with a single bite. The young man turned to the woman before him.

"Thank you, for your help. You didn't need to pay for this food. Really, you didn't. I either forgot my coinpurse or someone's unwanted hands did. I will repay you, I promise." He said, and began eating. "Tiber will too, won't you boy?"

The wolf seemed to ignore his master's words, and focused more on the last piece of crumbs that littered the ground. Kraven sighed, and tapped his fingers on the table. "Nice place, this. Never ran into trouble here. Aside from me not being able to pay for my food." He cleared his throat, and tapped his foot now as he slung his wooden bow behind his chair.

You're small, he wanted to say. I've never seen one so small.

Without anything special to say, he had to ask the basic question born out of genuine curiosity. "What brings you here?"
Acadian
IPB Image

The man scratched his head, smiled and, after seating himself, thanked Buffy with the promise to repay her for his meal. He then wasted no time enjoying himself, sharing part of his food with Tiber. She smiled, mostly to herself, deciding to suppress her chatty nature long enough to let the man enjoy his dinner.

Between bites, the hungry Imperial opined that he either forgot his coinpurse or that it was now in the hands of a cutpurse. Buffy still suspected the later, for this man looked like everything he owned was either in his knapsack or on his back. In surveying his possessions, she noticed the simple bow slung over his chair. A hunter perhaps? She did not see a melee weapon displayed. Was there a dagger in his knapsack? Or did he rely on the obviously powerful wolf-dog to back up his bow? She found herself staring at the man’s raven tresses, then chiding herself for imagining how she might style them.

“What brings you here?” he asked when it seemed his hunger had been reasonably sated.

“Dinner,” she replied. “While one does need to guard their coinpurse down here on the docks, the grilled fresh catch of the day is well worth it.” She tilted her head slightly. “I’m Buffy. By what name does Tiber’s traveling companion call himself?
Darkness Eternal
“Dinner,” said the wood elf. “While one does need to guard their coinpurse down here on the docks, the grilled fresh catch of the day is well worth it.”

Kraven Desselius had to laugh at that. He scratched Tiber behind his ear, and the dog's tongue slipped past his jaws as he began to pant. "Aye, food is a good enough to bring one here. Never fails. Second only to the Feed Bag."

He's heard of Valenwood's cuisine, and wondered if she was from Tamriel's garden or native to Cyrodiil. He didn't ask at first, pondering more on the former. He's heard many of Valenwood's denizens were cannibals and were forbidden to harm the jungle itself by some sacred law. Weird people they were.

With eyes like deep pools, small stature and sweet behavior he couldn't imagine her partaking in such a thing. She must be a civilized elf, thought Kraven. Like Maenlorn and his brother, the one in blue. Baylorn? Forlorn? Caenlorn?

“I’m Buffy. By what name does Tiber’s traveling companion call himself?"

"Kraven," said the man as he reached out, and in a second noticed just how mirred his hand was in grease. He pulled his hand back. "Desselius," he finished.

"I'm just passing through," he confessed, leaning back in his chair. He pulled aside stubborn strands of hair as he gazed about the establishment. "Looking to rest my head somewhere pleasant for the night. I've been sleeping in the wild for the past three days and I'm just now feeling the call of a warm bed and a blanket. It isn't safe out there, y'know. The wild is packed with wild beasts and while Tiber is a tough one . . . I won't put him in a situation where he might be overwhelmed." He took the tip of the wine bottle into his lips and took a sip. "Animals aren't the only thing looking for blood. Men can be just as vicious."

He stopped there, for he realized at once that he never knew who this woman was; her trade, her backround, her buisiness here. He could ask, and she could tell him, but it could be a lie. Appearances fooled anyone, and she might just as well have second thoughts on him, too. But then again, who was he to judge?

Tiber was a good judge. He always knew who were trouble, and who weren't. The way the hound wagged his tail in her presence and licked her boot spoke volumes about her.
Tellie
Athyn had quickly been informed about the task the nord had, and while it could potentially be a lot of work the rewards were well worth it. The mead the Nord was going to produce was a definitive guarantie for success and the offer of a thousand drakes and part ownership for everyone involved was more than enough for Athyn to not only sign up but also help the Nord with the recruiting. Already they had one interested party as Maenlorn had arrived with a small mithril badge with the silhouette of a rider upon an armored horse was depicted above the words, ‘Have bow, will travel.’

Seeing the Bosmer that Maenlorn pointed out, Athyn shook hands with the Nord and walked over to their table.

"May I join you"? he asked.
Acadian
IPB Image

Buffy preferred the elven simplicity of one name. Not that her own was either typical or common among her kind. But at least it was just one name. She realized that many humans – particularly Imperials – went by two names. She had to admit that Kraven Desselius did strike a pleasingly melodic tone to her long ears.

His ‘Passing through’ comment was no less vague than her own ‘Dinner’ reply as to why each of them was there. She smiled at the truth in his words about how harsh life in the wilds can be. When he said he was looking for a warm bed, her eyes narrowed only for a moment before she concluded he was not flirting with her. He was clearly travel weary and simply looking forward to sleeping a real bed. And after all, she had heard that most Imperials would rather sleep with a horse than a wood elf. Ironically, she spent most of her own nights sleeping under the stars and watchful gaze of her precious mare, Superian.

“Please don’t misunderstand me,” Buffy said. “I’m in no hurry to recover the modest handful of septims I spent to enjoy watching you and Tiber enjoy a good meal. But if you intend to enjoy a roof over your head and are not a member of one of the guilds, it sounds like you need to either find or refill your coinpur-“

“May I join you?” The interruption came from the graying Dunmer that Maenlorn sent over to talk to the bearded Nord when Buffy had first arrived at the tavern. As she looked up at him, she could clearly see now that a large scar had marred the left side of his face, leaving the eye on that side gray and, she imagined, sightless.

Remembering that it was her table, she motioned to an available chair and replied, “Certainly. Forgive me, but I did notice you speaking with that large bearded Nord in the corner who is rumored to be seeking mercenaries. My name is Buffy and I would be pleased to hear anything you can share.” Unsure if Kraven was interested or wanted his name shared, she added, “I do not speak for my new friend here. Or his dog.”

Tellie
QUOTE
Remembering that it was her table, she motioned to an available chair and replied, “Certainly. Forgive me, but I did notice you speaking with that large bearded Nord in the corner who is rumored to be seeking mercenaries. My name is Buffy and I would be pleased to hear anything you can share.” Unsure if Kraven was interested or wanted his name shared, she added, “I do not speak for my new friend here. Or his dog.”


Athyn sat down with a groan, he was starting to feel his three centuries of life lately, but when the alternative was retirement he was more than willing to continue to fight for gold. Looking briefly at the young Imperial who looked green enough to piss grass he imediately placed him in the 'no threat' box he held in his mind.

The Bosmer however was another matter entirely. At first glance she seemed to be a pleasant young woman in clothing that should be illegal due to how well they fit her frame, but as he let his eyes wander a bit he could see the 'hidden' steel that lay within her. SHe was definately dangerous, and as such would no doubt make a useful asset to the quest.

Absently reaching behind him he was rewarded with a sharp 'crack' and a painful yelp as he broke the wrist of an unassuming breton who had tried to liberate his coin purse. "That Nord is named Njall apparently, and he is offering one thousand drakes...septims I think they call them here in Cyrodiil and part ownership in his future mead business to track down eight inscripted dwemer plates", Athyn took a long drink from his goblet of ale before continuing.

"I have here a sample of the mead he will be producing", Athyn placed a flask of mead that was about three fourths full. "This, is what he will be producing, as soon as we get the plates back from the Mercenaries who stole them that is, have a sip and try for yourself". Athyn said as he caught the faint smell of grilled fish.
Uleni Athram
"The secret's all in the bottom part of your body, lass - most of your punches' power comes from your hips and ass. Like this!"

Rufrius Vinicius executed a left hook and the resulting impact was thunderous, ringing out through the busy halls of the Anvil Fighters Guild and temporarily silencing the establishment's buzz. He had rotated his hips clockwise and his left leg had pivoted over to the side simultaneously as his left fist slashed across. Dilemma noted how different her trainer's hook was from hers - in fact, her hook wasn't even a hook at all, according to Rufrius. Apparently it was more of a classless haymaker that couldn't crack a glassjaw on its worst day.

Whatever a glassjaw was.

Dilemma nodded to the hulking Imperial and took his place before the straw dummy, readying herself in a pugilist's stance. She remembered how the man executed the punch - rotation of the hips, the pivoting of the lead foot, and the slashing motion of the elbow - and pistoned her own hook that, while not as powerful, was a marked improvement over her earlier disaster.

Rufrius guffawed and almost broke her back as he patted her in approval.

"Nice one, kid! You learn fast - but always remember to keep those hands up. You throw your left but you drop your right, and in a fight the winner is the one who keeps his defenses tight."

Dilemma tilted her head to side and looked at him.

"It's an old rhyme of mine - and one that teaches you best in it's simplicity! Now, since you have a nasty left hook and an even nastier right cross, let's teach you the uppercut. After that, we'll have a little sparring session - I'll put you up against Cocesta, she's more your size- and we'll end the day with some defensive drills."

-------

The training today was especially brutal and lasted thrice as usual - when all was said and done, Dilemma's body had taken a severe beating, and all her muscles ached for rest. The sparring with the Redguard Cocesta had been a lesson in humility, but one she took gladly. The Redguard afterwards had given her a single vellum; when she had looked at it, it was full of exercises and drills that she can do on her own. It even had illustrations for the more difficult ones. Dilemma shook Cocesta's hand and bowed her head in gratitude, and would've given her thanks to Rufrius as well were it not for the ringing of the noon bell. With a friendly wave of goodbye, she gathered all her things and sped out of the Fighters Guild, leaving Rufrius and Cocesta to shake their heads at the silent and strange girl who took their free lessons with a passion not seen even in their veterans.


----


When she reached the back of the Count's Arms, she was greeted by the sight of Queen the Dog sleeping on her back to the ground, with King the Imp snoring quite shrilly on the hound's belly. Princess the Cat was nowhere to be seen, though their telepathic bond afforded her a sense of predatory glee from Princess' end, so the damnable cat must be hunting mice somewhere.

Come back soon, she telepathically said. And be careful around the docks. She did not receive any reply, but was unperturbed by this; Princess acted like a snobby variant of her namesake anyway.

Without further ado, she entered the backdoor of the Count's Arms and found herself in a busy kitchen. Her apron hanged from a hook by the backdoor and with deft movements she picked it up and wore it and was immediately washing plates, pouring wine and helping the elderly cook in her duties.

Wilbur came by a moment later, and hailed her.

"Oh, there you are! I'm glad you're here; Sasfiel took a day off, the layabout, and we're short on waitresses today. You're going to have to take her place."

Dilemma nodded in acquiescence but took a moment to lighten the elderly cook's load. When a certain amount of dishes were done and some of the goblets were pre-emptively filled with wine, she went swiftly to the dining area and began taking orders from the various patrons. She worked swiftly and efficiently, keeping her mind in a tunnel vision on her current task.

When she a brought a harsh-looking Dunmer a fairly high quality vintage of wine and a key to his room, Dilemma thought that maybe the kinship they shared as fellow Dunmer would allow him to tip her a few coins. After all, what's a few septims to man such as him?

She stood in mute eagerness, looking at the other elf with an expectant smile.
Darkness Eternal
Kraven Desselius, The Flowing Bowl



“Please don’t misunderstand me,” Buffy was saying. “I’m in no hurry to recover the modest handful of septims I spent to enjoy watching you and Tiber enjoy a good meal."

The hunter knew where this was going. If indeed someone had spirited his coin purse away, he hoped deep in his heart he would be able to pummel him or her to the dirt. That's of course assuming it didn't fall in on his way to Anvil. Either way he must have left an impression that he was completely and utterly dependant on another, and this was simply not the case.

"But if you intend to enjoy a roof over your head and are not a member of one of the guilds, it sounds like you need to either find or refill your coinpur-“

Kraven was more than ready for a retort, but his answer was cut short the moment the wood elf's words were. They both turned their undivided attention to a voice interrupted them with, “May I join you?”

The words came from another Mer. This one was a dark elf. Kraven's scanned him from his head to his toe and back again. The man's long hair was going grey, and his chin sported a rough stubble that had to be introduced to a blade(though Kraven himself couldn't say much on that matter). There was also a vicious scar on the left side of his face that ran over an eye that was the color of his hair.

Gods, is he blind? Never seen a dark elf's eye any other color than red.

The scar, the armor, and all other assortments told Kraven that this one was no stranger to combat. The elf offered a quick, passing glance at him and seemed more interested in Buffy. Kraven did not like the way he looked at him. He wasn't the first dark elf that looked displeased with his presence and he certainly wouldn't be the last. There could've been a number of reasons; elven pride, racism, a sense of superiority over a humble non-threatening farm lad.

The wolf hybrid's ears pulled back, and his lips peeled to reveal a row of sharp fangs. Tiber growled at the presence of the man, but Kraven's calloused hand ran across the animal's back, calming him at once.

“I do not speak for my new friend here. Or his dog.” Buffy said to the dark elf, who sat anyway with a loud groan that bespoke of long winters. Just how old is this fossil?

"That Nord is named Njall apparently, and he is offering one thousand drakes...septims I think they call them here in Cyrodiil and part ownership in his future mead business to track down eight inscripted dwemer plates. I have here a sample of the mead he will be producing. This is what he will be producing, as soon as we get the plates back from the Mercenaries who stole them that is, have a sip and try for yourself".

First, Kraven deduced the man wasn't native to Cyrodiil. He lacked the common certainty of local currency. Must be from Morrowind. Terrible land, Kraven heard them say, full of slavemasters and bigoted, provincial folk. Kraven was seldom wrong in his impressions of others, but there had been cases here and there where he was. But this man didn't sit well with him. Must be because he's a Dunmer. Worst, a Dunmer from Morrowind.

I'll never set foot on those lands. Ever.

Secondly, he was a sellsword or an adventurer. Kraven heard magic spew from the man's lips like honey; drakes, septims. This man was on buisiness and somehow Buffy was involved. He contained a smile as fortune may have graced him. There could be an opportunity here. One thousand septims . . .

One thousand . . .

"One thousand . . ." Kraven said aloud, and realized he had done so. "Quite a lot of gold. Gold like that isn't given. Not for something as simple as getting back dwemer plates. Seems dangerous."

Too dangerous, Kraven imagined. I'm no fighter, I'm no warrior either. But I can help. Somehow. I'll just have to stay clear from the fight. Can't afford to die. What would my mother do without me?



Acadian
IPB Image

No sooner had the grizzled mer sat down when an unassuming Breton paused behind him. She heard a sharp crack, then the Breton quickly scurried away, moaning and holding his wrist. Buffy could not suppress a cold smile of approval. For she had no tolerance for cutpurses and could not recall one ever being dealt with in such an. . . elegant – yes, that was the word – fashion. It was quite clear that the Dunmer seated at her table had amassed, even mastered, a great deal of skill during his many years. As the mer explained the proposed item recovery task, it became clear that he was authorized to speak for the bearded Nord who needed assistance.

The tension among the three males at the table was palpable. Kraven calmed Tiber with a touch but it was clear the dog was reacting to his master’s perceptions. She admitted that the older man’s glance toward Kraven could be perceived as dismissive. Buffy felt woefully inadequate and ignorant when it came to understanding what seemed be confusing and competitive interactions she often observed when men got together.

The Dunmer placed a flask of mead on the table – a sample of what the Nordic mead crafter was capable of should his recipe be recovered. Buffy sometimes drank mead when in Skyrim, as wine produced north of the Jeralls seemed inferior to that of Colovia. And she preferred mead's sweetness to ale or beer. Yet she fell far short of being able to discern a Honningbrew from a Black Briar. So she ignored the flask for the moment, hoping that Kraven might know more about mead than she.

Kraven commented that the large sum offered was likely indicative of commensurate danger – and he was probably right.

Buffy looked at the mer. “If you've not yet eaten dinner, feel free to summon Maenlorn. The grilled slaughterfish this evening is fresh and delicious.” She paused for a small sip of wine. “My potential service as a mystic archer is more contingent upon a just cause than gold.” After flashing her most disarming smile, she continued, “I hope you won’t break my wrist for asking, sera, but who is responsible for the theft our potential employer has suffered – that is who does he suspect hired the mercenaries that robbed him and does he know why someone would steal his recipe? Another meadery perhaps?”
Callidus Thorn
As Wilbur hustled away, Edril frowned momentarily. Magic spiraled down his arm, before rippling back up, a purple haze hanging before his eyes momentarily before fading away. With his detect life spell now active, Edril closed his eyes and relaxed, paying no attention to any of the life-shadows that weren't approaching him, savouring the warm comfort of the padded chair. He shifted a little to find a more comfortable position, and began running through several of the mental exercises he'd been taught as a child to keep his mind sharp. He'd long since gotten into the habit of ensuring he didn't nod off in any unsecure location, even one such as The Count's Arms, and the few hours of sleep he'd snatched during his expedition had not been nearly enough.

A life-shadow moving towards him dragged him from his reverie. It was small, seeming more that of a child than anything else, but it stopped right in front of him. Edril opened his eyes and looked her over briefly. A small and scruffy Dunmer, no taller than a Bosmer, her face marked with crude tattoos and a scar. Edril had no doubt that her normal place was in the kitchen, and that one of Wilbur's staff was absent again. He recalled one waitress, seldom seen, who was pretty enough to brighten the place a little further. Edril sneered at the girl as she loitered, feeling the faintest tug of envy as the scar on his cheek pulled tight, reminding him that he could never smile like she could. He waved a hand towards her, a sharp, dismissive gesture. "Set them on the table and back to the kitchen with you, child. Wilbur knows better than to harass me for coin, and so should his staff. And none of your servants' tricks! It would go ill for you if I had to explain to Wilbur that he is losing my business on account of his staff."
Tellie
"Quite a lot of gold. Gold like that isn't given. Not for something as simple as getting back dwemer plates. Seems dangerous."
Athyn was forced to raise an eyebrow. Who would have guessed the Imperial had more between his ears than the basic instincts to eat sleep and try (most likely unsucessfully) to mate through the rather odd human courting rituals (he himself preferred the easy approach, either someone was interested or they weren't).

“If you've not yet eaten dinner, feel free to summon Maenlorn. The grilled slaughterfish this evening is fresh and delicious.” The Bosmer's words shook him out of his musings and he paused for a small sip of wine. “My potential service as a mystic archer is more contingent upon a just cause than gold.” After flashing her most disarming smile, she continued, “I hope you won’t break my wrist for asking, sera, but who is responsible for the theft our potential employer has suffered – that is who does he suspect hired the mercenaries that robbed him and does he know why someone would steal his recipe? Another meadery perhaps?”

All pertinent questions of course, but the one thing that stood out in his mind the strongest was her first statemen. "You mean to tell me that I've eaten the same stinking Leek soup for over twenty years when he as a matter of fact had other meals available? Never mind", he finished quickly while throwing a dark glare towards Maenlorn that promised divine retribution one day.

"As you both surmised these plates didn't just wander off by them selves. They were stolen from Njaal's meadery by the Red-Skulls, one of High Rock's mroe infamous sellsword companies...in case you didn't know, they have the habit of collecting the skulls of their kills, paint them red and use them for decorations, banners, and the like", Athyn grinned slightly at the Imperial, if the boy was still interested after hearing that tidbit...then he'd give him a chance at least, besides someone had to carry the baggage.

Taking another sip he turned his gaze back to the Bosmer. "They burn't his meadery to the ground and headed towards Skyrim, which points to the Black Briar's being involved, though no evidence. Fortunately the border is closed for now, so we have to find them...and if they're smart they'll be scattered about, as there are six plates, and more than enough men to protect them all".

Finishing off the mead in his glass he raised an eyebrow. "Any questions?"
Uleni Athram
Well.

That went right.

Dilemma's eager smile slowly eroded to a blank expression of contempt and she would've given the other elf the Bravil salute were she not hailed by a customer who wanted another helping of beer. With a shake of her head, she marched away from the older Dunmer imperiously and put his sour expression out of her mind, quenching the urge to give his cutboard-looking face the hook she just learned a few minutes ago. In fact, so focused was she on squashing her anger and indignancy that she did not notice that the patron who had called for her was none other than Ylenno himself with a bunch of his fellow gangsters! A jolt of happy surprise coursed through Dilemma as she grinned widely and punched the tattooed Bosmer's shoulder with all her might.

"...and I said to the guy, 'look pal, unless you want to go sleep by your papa Luca with the slaughterfishes I suggest yo- OW! Kinky Alessia, do you know who the fu-"

Ylenno stopped midway when he finally realized who it was that punched him. With a grin that equaled her own, Ylenno reached out and pulled Dilemma in a massive hug.

"Twiggy! It's you!"

The tattooed thug, even after all these years, still smelled of violence, sex and a touch of inner oblivion. He smelled like his home. He smelled like Bravil. The familiarity of it, alongside his embrace, comforted her. She hugged him back.

"Let me take a good look at you," he said then, and held her a little at arm's length. His ever-smiling eyes went up and down in the fashion of a big brother inspecting a sibling, and what he saw apparently he approved of.

"You're putting quite the muscle on yourself, Twiggy - pretty soon I won't have to call you that anymore. How about Scrappy? Scrappy Dilemma?"

A brunette Nord wearing copious amounts of make up and a shining set of armor snorted disdainfully. This Nord was Genericus Bloccus and the sister-figure that taught Dilemma how to use her feminine wiles expertly, even though Ginny, as the Nord was called by his friends, was a man.

"Idiot, she doesn't need anymore of your tasteless nicknames," Genericus said, laying down the mirror he was currently worshiping to give a catty look of fondness at Dilemma. "Her name's fitting enough; because you're a dilemma everywhere you go, aren't you, girly?"

Genericus winked beautifully at her and Dilemma mimed laughter, but Ylenno placed a hand on his heart, an expression of mock-hurt rending his debonair features.

"Oh, but I thought you liked my nicknames, Ginny! Didn't you like the one I gave you? 'Ginny Blow, Best Hand in Bravil for only Five Septims!'"

Dilemma crinkled her nose and closed her eyes in scandalous delight, remembering how Ylenno's childish nature always brought her a smile. Genericus was having none of it though.

"Up yours, buddy," the Nord said in retaliation, a sneer poisoning his androgynous face.

"You've been saying that ever since we left Kvatch. I'm starting to think you're a little too interested at that deed. Should I be worried? Should I keep my back to the wall when you're around? Keep myself locked up in a room to prevent you from 'forcibly entering'?"

The righteous fury that Genericus showed was astounding and terrifying at the same time. It didn't stop Dilemma from laughing.

"The only person who's going to touch you is probably a blind prostitute with no teeth, you bosmer scum!"

"Hey, you say blind prostitute with no teeth like its a bad thing! I demand satisfaction from that mockery, my good sir!"

"Go satisfy yoursel-"

"So you can watch?"

"Fuc-"

Dilemma's ears were suddenly covered by a pair of green hands that were almost the size of her head. She looked towards the source and found a hulking Orc gazing back at her with the most gentle expression one can expect to see from his race.

"They talking bad words," the giant said with a heavy Orsinium accent. "You no want hear it no more."

Alongside the now bickering Ylenno and Genericus, this Orc, who called himself Balabog Palemaw, had a hand in making her time in Bravil bearable. He had taught her how to read and write, how to maintain basic armor and even how to cook. The last part was the most enjoyable activity she had had with the kind and grizzled Orc, and memories of it resurfaced with a glow.

"You take Ylenno order now - your hairless boss go angry with lazy Dilemma."

Sure enough, when Dilemma glanced a look at the bar, Wilbur was looking at her with narrowed eyes. He was tapping the counter with his fingers, and near him was a tray of steaming food that was in the process of becoming cold. Dilemma stood on her toes and gave Balabog a peck on his pale cheek; the Orc then watched her rush off to take the tray to the table it belonged to.

Which, coincidentally, was the earlier Dunmer's.

With a mental huff, she set the tray on his table with just the barest hint of politeness (just barely managing to avoid dropping the whole thing on his lap) and scampered off to refill Ylenno's beer. As she was in the process of filling his mug, an electric pop of connection buzzed in her mind and she heard the voice of Princess, lackadaisical and sultry.

You won't believe what I found today, elf, the feline said in their telepathic bond.

What did you find, Dilemma asked, carefully trying to fill the mug as much as possible.

A better paying job for you, was the laid back reply. Two jobs, actually, but one is seriously suspect.

Lay it on me.

Well, there's this fellow calling himself Oedipus Nebraska trying to rally people in an Expedition of sorts. To the bowels of Sutch, I believe.

Sounds interesting. What's the reward he's offering?

Certainly not fish sticks and balls of yarns, which is unfortunate, because fish sticks and balls of yarns are an emotionally satisfying pay. But I suppose your feeble elvish mind can't possibly comprehend the-

Princess. What's. The. Reward.

An indignant mewl echoed before the cat bothered to reply.

Ten thousand gold up front. With sixty thousand more per completion of the quest, artifacts and loot found during the Expedition notwithstanding.

Dilemma was stupefied into silence. So paralyzed was she at the amount of gold that Princess specified that she had kept filling the mug and now it overflowed. She gritted her teeth in annoyance and began the process of cleaning it up and filling a new one.

That's seventy thousand. We could buy a house with that and still have enough left to admit me in Cheydinhal's University of Swords for a whole semester! Where is this Oedipus?

He's in the docks. Without a shirt on and wearing his trousers on his head.

... What?

I told you one of the jobs was suspect. The man's literally pants-on-head crazy! You should've seen how he drooled and ranted.

Annoyance and anger bloomed in Dilemma and when she next spoke in the link, it was with the voice of thunder.

Damnit, Princess, stop playing around! The free training's gonna end tomorrow and we need the damn money to get off from this place!

The mischievous laugh she received was wholly unrepentant. Dilemma sent an image of baths and soap to terrify the feline into submission and it worked, as much as intimidation can work with the fearless Princess.

Okay, okay, no need to resort to violence, elf. Here's the deal; a Nord with the most magnificent mane in his face -so magnificent in fact, that I thought he glued two of my most hairy kin on his face!- came by the Flowing Bowl and spread the word that he was hiring help.

Go on. What kind of help does he need?

He needs help finding his missing silverware.

Dilemma had had enough of the cat's antics. She was about to shut off the link when Princess felt her annoyance, and a sense of urgency came from the cat's end.

No wait, I'm serious! Even now he's talking with an armored Dunmer about its little details. Here, take a look.

Dilemma's body froze and her eyes rolled up. She went blind for a second and her mind rang loudly before her sight returned. When she looked up, she looked up in a different place. This time, she wasn't in the Count's Arms. This time, she was looking through the eyes of Princess, and the cat's vision afforded her the sight of a bearded Nord conversing with a Dunmer in a low-class inn that was undoubtedly the Flowing Bowl. She watched as the two talked, finished their conversation, and went their separate ways. Actually, the Dunmer was the one who went on his way to another table filled with a blonde elf and a young Imperial. The Nord just stayed where he was.

An explosion of sound in her brain, the image of the Flowing Bowl clearing away like a smoke being swept away by a wind, and a moment later Dilemma was back in her body, back in the Count's Arms.

Looks like you're right, Princess. Keep an eye on the Nord and that Dunmer. When my shift ends I'll go straight to them.

On your way here, can you bring me a couple of fish sticks? I think I deserve a little reward for this.

Dilemma gave her a chuckle, shut off the telepathic link and resumed her duties as a waitress.
Darkness Eternal
Kraven Desselius, The Flowing Bowl.


Mystic archer, mused Kraven. What the hells is a mystic archer?

From what the Imperial gathered from both Mer is that a man had his property stolen. To be more specific, his mead recipe, and he was in process of hiring able-bodied men and women to recover his lost goods. A wealthy fellow, no doubt, to make such an annoucement with considerable coin involved for the fruits of the participants' labor. How blessed it would be, thought the young man, to be rich for just a day. I'd pay the Dark Brotherhood or anyone to stick their blades up that thief's bunghole.

The dark elf made some comment about leeks, and the like, and it went through Kraven's ear and passed out the other as he was momentarily distracted by the tavern's patrons. One was a Redguard sailor and his young boy, sitting at the far corner of the tavern. The older man had a beer that was brown, and his son had a loaf of bread that was white, accompanied by stew that was creamy white. On another table a khajiit woman swirled her spoon in a bowl of soup. It was thick with leeks, carrots, barley, and turnips white and yellow, with local clams and chunks of fish and crabmeat, swimming in a stock of heavy cream and butter.

It was the sort of stew that warmed a man right down to his bones, and Kraven saw that the dark elf wasn't the only one dissapointed with his meals. I'm still hungry, Kraven thought.

Tiber sniffed around the table for crumbs. Kraven learned on that innkeeps and taverners were tolerated the animal's presence because he seldom begged, barked, growled and bit. He was a quiet beast, just as his master was. Kraven broke a small piece of bread and brought it under the table with his hand. After a few seconds he felt a cold nose, and a wet tongue followed by a nibble grace his fingers, and the bread was no more.

Giving some explanation on how the plates vanished, the dark elf gave Kraven a dark look with his red and grey eye that came harsh with a grin. A grimace that, Kraven guessed, was made to draw a reaction or expression of fear and concern. Kraven didn't mind. In fact, he didn't care. Men tried to intimidate him many times over and he doesn't fall prey to their threats, subtle or no. Women, on the other hand . . .

"Any questions?"

Desselius shot a look at Buffy, and then at Tiber, before turning back to the dark elf. He had many questions to ask, including some to Buffy(the mystic archer). But first and foremost, "Aye, I do have a question. What's your name? And when do you embark on this journey of yours?"

He did not know any dark elves intimately as friend, and so he would keep himself as distanced from this man as possible. The prospect of gold, however, was enough to keep him interested. The dark elf should be aware he was no fighter. He could use his bow, and there was a first time for everything but in the meantime he could clean any chamberpots, keep their horses fed, carry knapsacks and fold out bedrolls and hunt food for them for a modest fee. But he'd do no fighting. He wouldn't risk his skin for another person, or for gold.
Callidus Thorn
As the diminutive Dunmer stormed away Edril poured himself a glass of the wine, closing his eyes and savouring the first sip, all the more exquisite for his time away from the city. The key he slid into one of the capacious pockets of his robe, before returning to his repose.

It was strangely easy to keep track of the girl's lifeshadow as she moved about The Count's Arms, and in doing so he was able to check if she tampered with his meal, though he wasn't surprised when she didn't. Her clothing seemed more like that of a street urchin than a waitress in a quality tavern, so he knew she wouldn't want to risk losing her job. And a small part of him had enjoyed the impotent anger in her eyes, particularly when she delivered his meal.

-----

Edril was glad he'd spent the extra for the better vintage at The Count's Arms, as he stood outside The Flowing Bowl. Whenever he could he avoided the dock area of Anvil, having no interest in associating with the sailors and drunkards that couldn't afford the prices in the main part of town. But the meal had been good, the wine had been very good, and it had put Edril in a good enough mood to suffer low company without complaint.

No sooner had he stepped in than he began to regret doing so. the Flowing Bowl had none of the quality and taste of the Count's Arms, and the same held true for its clientele. He cast an eye about the dingy place, ignoring with practised ease the sort of people he'd expect to find in a place like this. Two individuals caught his eye; a finely-dressed Bosmer and an armed and armoured Dunmer. And a third at a nearby table, a Nord; portly, with brown hair and an absurd quantity of facial hair.

Edril made his way through The Flowing Bowl, a glare and a sneer more than sufficient to move aside any that crossed his path, until he stood before the Nord. He looked down at the seated figure, his face flushed, clearly deep into his cups. "Waste of my time" he muttered to himself, as he turned away, and headed back towards the entrance.
Tellie
"Aye, I do have a question. What's your name? And when do you embark on this journey of yours?"
the Imperial asked.

"Mt name, is Athyn Lymdremni, Archer, Sellsword and expedition leader. I intend tojourney out once I feel we have an adequate sized party".

Spotting a strongly built fellow Dunmer storm away from Njaal muttering to himself about a Waste of my time Athyn took action. Waiting until the Dunmer had almost reached the door to the in he threw his dagger so that it was buried in the doorframe, turning back to his table Companions he grinned.

"Looks like we might have another one there".
Acadian
IPB Image

The old Dunmer began by cursing Maenlorn for feeding him leek soup instead of suggesting the grilled catch of the day that Buffy had learned to prefer. He then proceeded to answer her questions, emphasizing the threat this ‘Red Skull’ mercenary band represented.

By the time he asked for further questions, Buffy was convinced the cause was reasonably just. She was familiar enough with the Black Briar family to know of their reputation for extortion, bribery, smuggling and other unsavory activities.

She did indeed have several more questions, but held them for the moment. She had no idea if Kraven was interested in this proposed expedition. If he was not, then he might want to excuse himself before more details were discussed. If he was interested, then he likely had questions of his own. Well-skilled at nursing a single serving of Tamikas all evening, she slowly swirled the goblet before bringing it to her lips and barely wetting them.

The Imperial did indeed have questions – which Buffy took as a sign that he might be joining this adventure. She found it curious that he asked the Dunmer’s name but did not yet volunteer his own. His other questions were quite similar to those remaining on Buffy’s mental list. She remained curious about where Athyn might begin their search.

Kraven seemed both interested and undaunted, despite the hazards painted by Athyn. Buffy was unsure why that pleased her. She smiled as the answer briefly rested its muzzle on the edge of the table with a hint of pink tongue protruding between sharp fangs.

Her focus returned to Athyn when she saw him suddenly produce a dagger and, in a single smooth motion, throw it. She turned to see and hear the weapon impale the tavern’s door frame, apparently, arresting the exit of a bulky Dunmer with dark hair trailing down the back of his robes.

Athyn turned back to Buffy and Kraven as he announced with a grin, “Looks like we might have another one there.”
Callidus Thorn
Edril had been about to leave The Flowing Bowl when a thrown dagger thudded into the doorframe a moment before he reached it. While he muttered a brief spell of telekinesis, his mind worked. The Bosmer had been unarmed, but the armoured Dunmer had had the look of a mercenary, so Edril guessed him to be the thrower.

As he turned back to face the armoured Dunmer, the dagger wrenched itself from the doorframe and hurled itself back across the room, slamming point first into the table he was seated at with a solid thud. Edril stalked over to the table, unhurried, casting a powerful shield spell as a precaution.

"You have my attention. Whether or not that goes ill for you is dependent on your next words. I advise you make them count."
Darkness Eternal
Kraven Desselius, The Flowing Bowl.



"My name, is Athyn Lymdremni, Archer, Sellsword and expedition leader. I intend to journey out once I feel we have an adequate sized party".

The more the merrier was the known saying, but to Kraven that could help or hinder him. More people meant more protection and a higher chance of this being a success. On the other hand, more people meant more service that could prove to be beyond his capablities, and thus possibly make the travelers quite unhappy. A sword in the rump from either direction.

The Imperial heard the dark elf out, and watched dumbfounded as he tossed a blade right at the entrance. Kraven and Tiber followed the movement of his weapon, the former expecting it hit home in some unsuspected person's body . . . only to find that it struck against the door, impeding another man from exiting.

“Looks like we might have another one there.” Athyn said, with his trademark grin.

Glancing back at the door, the young hunter saw the weapon dislodge from the wood as invisible hands threw it back with force into the table where he was seated. Kraven ventured in imagining if that blade struck some unfortunate passerby in this grand display of recklessness. Amazed but only momentarily, Kraven realized this was a work of magic. The spellcaster was no other than a dark elf, who's threatening words sounded off in the tavern.

"You have my attention. Whether or not that goes ill for you is dependent on your next words. I advise you make them count."

The Flowing Bowl went quiet: Athyn managed to get patrons' attention too, as all eyes drew to those in the table and the elf at the door. This must have been a Dunmer thing.

Kraven held no love for mages; he didn't understand magic, he didn't know any schools of destruction, conjuration, or alteration. And being strange to him, he feared it to a point where he avoided it whenever he could. He assumed that Buffy and Athyn were spellcasters. Usually most elves were, whether they were born in jungles, amidst ashes, or in distant islands.

This newcomer had hair like his own, but everything else was a direct contrast; he was physically stronger, built like a fighter, a gaunt countenance with a hint of nobility and a terrible burn scar that drew over on one side of his cheek. Strange, thought Kraven. I thought it was hard for dark elves to burn. He must have suffered this burn by arcane means. Probably.

Kraven sat quiet as he watched for Athyn's response. His eyes searched any place where he could find cover from flying forks, knives and chairs if this conversation turned out to be a violent confrontation.
Tellie
"You have my attention. Whether or not that goes ill for you is dependent on your next words. I advise you make them count."

Athyn was hardly surprised when his dagger was returned, though having it returned With Telekenisis was a welcome surprise, mages were always useful.

Observing that the inn had gone quiet and everyone were staring Athyn slowly removed a pipe from his Pocket and added a small amount of tobacco before lighting it With the help of a voracious Fireball in his left hand. Loosening one of his axes in his belt as well served its purpose in making most of the patrons realize that they had far better Things to do than to listen in.

"The drunkard you saw fit to walk away from in dusgust, which is quite understandable believe me, has a very lucrative offer", Athyn took a puff from his pipe and released a foul smoke from his mouth while he felt the tobacco and small amount of moon sugar ease the tension in his body and sharpen his senses.

"Everyone who signs on will recieve a thousand septims as well as five percent ownership in his mead brewery upon the Return of the engraved dwemer plates that holds his recepies . The plates were taken by the mercenary Company known as the Red-Skulls, due to the current political situation they are stuck in Cyrodiil, giving us a chance of finding them...so, you in?"
Callidus Thorn
Edril sneered at the cavalier manner in which the other Dunmer lit his pipe with a fireball, the scarred flesh of his left cheek pulling taut for a moment. His sneer only deepened as he smelt the tobacco smoke, with the faint undertone to its smell that suggested the addition of a pinch of moon sugar. The practice had been common enough back in Vvardenfell, though it had been frowned on by House Telvanni.

so, you in?

"Hmph. I'd hardly call a thousand septims 'lucrative', but necessity does present something of a leveling force." Edril extended his left hand, and a nearby chair leapt to his grasp. "I'm interested, but I'll need some questions answered before I say one way or another. For a start, how many have signed up so far? What do you know about those mercenaries? And just who am I dealing with here? You, or the drunken Nord?"
Acadian
IPB Image
Buffy squirmed a bit in her seat, grateful that her small size and magicks could allow her to slip under the table and disappear if the flames and daggers progressed beyond show and bluster. She also began to realize that she might well not be the most accomplished mage in the room. Each of the two Dunmer looked like they had centuries of experience on her. And from their casual displays for effect, they had used their years to garner some impressive abilities.

She breathed a sigh of relief as things deescalated and turned back to business. She quietly listened as the new arrival – ‘scar face’ for lack of a name yet - began to quiz Athyn about their prospective quest. Indeed, his questions included a couple she hadn’t thought of.
Uleni Athram
The shift ended had ended mercifully quick when Alorius Nystican, another employee of Wilbur, came in unexpectedly. He eagerly took over Dilemma's job, and the Dunmer was sent to her original position as an assistant chef. The work was rote since the menu (and the patron's appetites) didn't change much and she and the main chef knew each other well enough to work as one, spatula-swinging entity. In under thirty minutes they had already finished today's workload, prepared plates and utensils in a way that will allow a quick serving for any unexpected orders and still got time enough to prepare for tomorrow. When all was said and done, Dilemma was quite gassed but to her it was all worth it. A quick shift meant less pay, but she needed the time. She got places to be.

Bidding farewell to the elderly chef with a wave of her hand, Dilemma hang her apron by the backdoor and went outside. The sea breeze, salty and penetrating to her ashen and sweaty skin, was a delight. For a minute she just stood there, eyes closed, letting the wind embrace her and sweep the humidity of the kitchen off of her.

A pop of electronic connection buzzed in her mind and she knew that King the Imp and Queen the Dog had finally woken up from their slumber. She needed no eyes to know that they now approached her from behind. King flitted hazily around, before settling on her left shoulder.

Good afternoon, mistress. Did you have a good day?

I did. How was yours?

Queen stretched on her legs before letting out a yawn that Dilemma thought bordered on a howl.

I think Wilbur puts something on the feed he gives us; I've never had a good sleep like that since Chorrol!

Dilemma smiled; she knelt, eye-level with the still sleepy Queen, and tickled the canine's furry cheek.

After what you did to that drunken Orc in the Oak and Crosier, I think you deserve all the rest you can get, honey.

Queen licked her nose in response. She made a move to tackle Dilemma but stopped and sniffed her arms and chest instead.

Immediately her tail lowered and she bared her fangs.

I smell the stench of that Ylenno on you. Did he do anything untoward? I'll give him a bite on his 'Cavefish Shanker' if he so much as-

Dilemma hugged Queen's neck and immediately the hostility faded. The motherly instinct of the dog was the closest she had ever got to a real mother's affection, but sometimes it was just too much. Queen sensed this, and whined softly.

Ylenno's a friend, Queen. He made us stay in his home when we were in Bravil, remember?

Queen snorted.

He acts like the typical pack runt not knowing its place; boisterous and showoffish. Such braggadocio will make him have his day, I promise you.

King yipped a little yawn, before flying slowly towards the direction of the docks. Dilemma gave Queen one last pat on the head before following the sleepy Imp.

Princess told us what she found for you when we woke up earlier. I can already tell you are decided on this, Mistress. But... Are you really sure? It sounds to me that this... Silverware retrieval holds more danger than it seems.

Dilemma shrugged, the motion of it sending a little sting on her overworked muscles.

Every thing is dangerous for us. We have to risk it though; we're running short and the free training ends tomorrow. We have to have atleast three thousand gold to book a ship for Hammerfell.

Queen whined again as they exited into the cobbled streets of Anvil, the spray from the sea sprinkling the stones beneath their feet with a wet light. Dilemma had to watch her balance as Queen's motherly instinct yet again reared its head.

I worry for you, Dilemma. You run too wild for your own good. Is there anything I can say to you to convince you to cancel this trip to Hammerfell? These.. Sword-Singers that you seek could be dead, for all we know.

If they are, well... I wanted to see Hammerfell anyway.
Darkness Eternal
Mages. Mystic Archers. Kraven half expected a staff-wielding wizard walk through the tavern to sign up for the task at hand. In mere minutes Kraven saw two schools of magic in play. Destruction and Mysticism. Athyn lit his foul-smelling pipe with a fireball, and the other dark elf's display of telekenetic used to pull himself a seat was not amiss. What? You can't use your hands grab a seat like the rest of us?

Heh, came a passing thought. If any of them practices alteration and can turn my [censored] into gold, I'd be the happiest bastard alive.

Gold was a welcome thing in his life. Nay, in fact a nescessary thing in his life. He needed a bed to rest.

"Hmph. I'd hardly call a thousand septims 'lucrative', but necessity does present something of a leveling force." The scarred, ill-mannered dark elf said. His methods for communication seemed brute, and not without tones of violence. Kraven would prefer to stay clear of him. Though temptation was loud enough to make him utter a word to the conversing dark elves, Kraven only narrowed his eyes, but didn’t rise to the bait.

Judging from those words, Kraven assumed the man was rich beyond measure. He'd often heard some dark elves in Morrowind preffered magics and ancient knowledge rather than material wealth, which many considered a simple means to an end. He's heard of the Great Houses in Morrowind and their strange named which he could not remember. Could this dark elf be a member of one of those houses?

He wondered the same about Athyn. The only one decent enough so far, as far as impressions go, was Buffy. She remained ever so quiet in the company of an axe-caressing dark elf and sneering stranger. So small that she could just as easily slip away from thought.

Athyn explained nothing knew to this stranger, and as he did Kraven could feel his tired mind and body eager to drift into deep and dreamless sleep. Athyn might even give the same story about the Red Skulls and their love for cadaverous pieces and macabre artwork. None of which scared Kraven. He knew a man like the mage was not intimidated easily.

Getting up, Kraven took a sip of his drink before nudging his pet canine in the head. He looked at Athyn before he spoke to the dark elf. "I'll be outside if you need me. I'm interested." He turned to Buffy, and nodded his thanks to her with a smile. He averted his gaze then to the dark elf and nodded as well. He left the tavern with Tiber following him outside.

Outside of the Flowing Bowl, Kraven breathed the fresh salty air and looked around for a nice corner to sleep in. Maybe the beggars know.

Tellie
"I'm interested, but I'll need some questions answered before I say one way or another. For a start, how many have signed up so far? What do you know about those mercenaries? And just who am I dealing with here? You, or the drunken Nord?"

"Valid questions", Athyn agreed.

"If you yourself were to agree there does appear to be four of us so far, though I do hope we can get more if it proves neccessary. As for the mercenaries themselves, I used to know a few of them so I know how they work".

Athyn took out a worn map of Cyrodiil as well as a quill and ink and started to mark off locations. "They are for the most part exiled Bretons, or otherwise on the run from High Rock for one reason or another, and hide their crimes through a thin veneer of respectable mercenary. These locations are the locations they normally use when in Cyrodiil...or at least they did fifty years ago, but I figure it is a good starting point".

Looking back and forth between the others at the table Athyn grimaced slightly, "They are also not only good with their blades, but they are also quite fond of fighting dirty, so take no chances. Njaal over there has agreed to let me run things, so you'll be dealing with me".
Callidus Thorn
"Hmph. At least the drunkard has the sense to stay out of this business." He threw a disdainful glance at the Nord before continuing. "Breton mercenaries are a problem though. They're better sneaks than fighters usually, if they're not using magic, but they take a lot of killing with spells, directly, at least. But, it's not an insurmountable restriction." He paused a moment, stroking his goatee as he thought. "But four of us? Your qualifications are clear to see, and I've never met a Bosmer who carried a bow they couldn't use, but what's the Imperial for? Managing supplies? I doubt the boy's of much use for anything else."
Acadian
IPB Image

Kraven rose, confirmed his interest to the pair of Dunmer, smiled his thanks (for the meal, she assumed) to Buffy and excused himself. He and Tiber then stepped out of the tavern.

Athyn then proceeded to answer the other, still nameless, mer’s questions. Buffy learned that Athyn was indeed in charge, that he knew of numerous possible locations to search and that his party currently consisted of up to four.

The newcomer wisely concerned himself with the abilities of his prospective fellow questers.

“My name’s Buffy.” She hoped that advancing her own name again might prompt the discovery of this new Dunmer’s name, lest she begin thinking of him as ‘scarface’.

“The bow is indeed my primary asset. I use a summoned one that is backed up by supportive magicks and stealth.” She glanced briefly toward the tavern’s door. “The young Imperial who just stepped outside calls himself Kraven and I just met him this evening. I’ve learned that he is presently broke. Judging by the calluses on his hands he is no stranger to hard work – so I tend to believe his story that a cutpurse is responsible for his lack of coin. I bought him dinner and learned that his appetite rivals that of my mare.” Buffy didn’t really expect much reaction to her little attempt at humor from this pair of somber Dunmer.

“From his mannerisms and outwardly visible gear,” she continued, “I would guess that he is perhaps more at home hunting or farming than fighting. I know nothing of using a sword, so cannot opine regarding how he might fare with a blade in hand. I do know animals though, and would not discount the man’s companion, Tiber. I expect the wolf-dog has the lupine senses, cunning and physical abilities to locate, close with and effectively engage foes in close quarters combat. Particularly if backed up by those of us with ranged ability.”
Callidus Thorn
Edril was surprised that the Bosmer had replied in place of the mercenary. He turned an unhurried, appraising gaze upon her, unconscious Telvanni habits seeking to gauge how dangerous she might be. "A dabbler in the arcane as well as an archer? Impressive for one so young. Your kind tend to have no great talent for magic, so I assume your father was not a Bosmer? A Breton would be my guess, if he were an Altmer you'd be taller." Edril paused a moment stroking his goatee in an unconscious gesture as he pondered. "Or perhaps you were simply born at an exceptionally fortuitous time."

Edril shook his head fractionally.

"The boy's name is craven, you say? Hardly a recommendation on his part, even without him being pickpocketed on his way here." Edril turned to face the mercenary. "If neither of you know him, I would say that the boy needs to answer for his skills before you can consider his inclusion."
Tellie
Athyn looked back and forth between his fellow Dunmer and the Bosmeri archer before shrugging slightly. "Perhaps-" he started as he took another drag from his pipe, "e may be unskilled...but if nothing else he does provide the abilities of cook and pack mule, if he can't fight he'll have to do something else to earn his keep".

Returning a finger to the map he pointed out Skingrad. "I do know that they usually have a man in the Two Sisters Lodge who acts as a fence for them. Last I met him he was a snivelling craven, so he should probably yield us any information we want if we...ask him properly", he finished with a grin as he caressed the curve of his axe.
Uleni Athram
Dark looks, and dark intentions. Beneath the veneer of blue collar labor lay the bloodlust of fools, philistine to anyone they deem weaker than themselves. Ships come and go, and Dilemma suspected life did as well, in the back alleys and hidden places of the docks by way of the unsuspected dagger. Though the port of Anvil was hailed as the sea portal of Cyrodiil, Dilemma has no doubt that she entered a dog-eat-dog world as well. She kept her eyes straight ahead, one hand on her foil, the other on Queen's leash. King sat on her shoulder, scanning their surroundings for any hostile beings that might approach. Dilemma, underneath her worry, was relieved. This kind of world was one she was familiar with. She felt at home in the this dingy place, surrounded by stinking men and women who no doubt had ill intentions towards one another.

Finding Maenlorn's establishment was not that hard. One needed only to find the most noisome building in the docks (which was quite a feat, considering the business of the port) and enter.

The interior of the tavern was....

Well.

It wasn't anything fancy or unfamiliar, that was for damn sure. Whores, local toughs, seedy looking personages just waiting for a brawl to erupt; if the arena of the docks was her home, then the murderer's home that is the tavern was her playground. And play she did. She easily spotted the Nord her spy cat had marked for her earlier, and as Dilemma made her unassuming way towards him, she dipped her hands in pockets that were not her own and took gold that did no belong to her. It was natural for her, as easy as breathing. The mean streets of Bravil had taught her the proper techniques. Hunger gave her the motivation. And Ylenno gave her gimmicks that would better her chances. Using her pets as subtle distractions, Dilemma basically pick pocketed her way to the Nord. She stood before him then, a scrapyard dog's grin on her face, her pockets a little more richer than they were previously.

The Nord, for his part, focused more on his cups than anything else. In fact, he seem to regard them more intently than he did his purse; Dilemma lifted it in plain view and he did not see it. She placed it beside his cups and he did not pay attention to it.

She slapped him in the face, and he fell face first on the table, unconscious not from the blow, but from the spirits he imbibed.

I'm impressed, Queen said in the link. Not many are able to be asleep with their eyes open.

What a waste of time, Dilemma responded. Where the hell is that cat?

Over here, Princess said. To your left.

Her ire now fully spurned into being, Dilemma whirled to the direction Princess had provided and saw her cuddling up against the leg of a blonde bosmer. A moment later the irascible cat leapt to the woman's lap, and looked up at her with large eyes and a soft meow. Well nothing to it, Dilemma supposed.

She strode over to the Bosmer's table, noting the interesting characters seated there engaged in a heated conversation. She produced from her pockets her magical vellum and enchanted pencil. Upon its surface she wrote the words;

Hello. Can I have my cat back?
Acadian
IPB Image
The two Dunmer were discussing Kraven. Athyn seemed to conclude that he could carry equipment or perhaps even cook if nothing else.

As Athyn was explaining why Skingrad seemed a likely starting point for the quest, Buffy became aware of an animal brushing against her leg a moment before it hopped up into her lap. The small cat seemed friendly enough. Buffy was musing whether the feline smelled Superian on her buckskins when a young Dunmer lass appeared in front of the table.

Based on the girl's size - about the same as Buffy's - she appeared to be in her early teens. A pet imp sat on one shoulder and a dog at her side. The little mer had short white hair and her face was adorned with decorative ink marks or war paintings of some sort, along with cheap jewelry. Her clothing was well-worn. The girl busied herself with some sort of small tablet and scribe instrument for a moment, then displayed the results:

Hello. Can I have my cat back?

Quite surprised by the entire incident, Buffy did manage to surmise the girl was likely mute. Lifting the compliant cat up, Buffy offered it to the small Dunmer. "Well, hello back. What's your name, young lady?"
Uleni Athram
With a mere tap of the pencil, the vellum erased itself of any writings and became fresh once more. The enchantment of these ensorcelled stationaries never ceased to amaze Dilemma, even after all these years of owning them. Ylenno, with what meager money he had earned doing honest work, had gifted it to her years ago. The fact that Ylenno could actually labor legitimately had surprised Dilemma as much as the princely gift did.

Dilemma, she now wrote for the Bosmer, ignoring how sharp Princess' claws felt as the feline climbed her way to her left shoulder. Thank you for not adding her to your palate; other people would not have been so kind.

For some reason or another, this blonde elf looked familiar. A sense of one-sided connection buzzed in her head as she regarded her sun-kissed countenance. She reminded Dilemma of Bravil. Specifically, a building with a blue flag and unearthly smelling concoctions.

I'm not surprised, Queen said in the link, laying down on her belly near the Bosmer's feet. She's Buffy of that homely city's Mages Guild; you know, the spitting image of Ylenno's sister? Don't you recognize her scent?

She's not a mangy canine like you, quipped Princess from her perch, looking down contemptuously on her counterpart. Her snout is untrained and dry. Unlike yours..

Shut it, you. If I wanted your opinion I'll bite it out of you.

Oh my, you actually know what an opinion is?

She is indeed Lady Buffy of Bravil mistress,King the Imp remarked, utterly ignoring the telepathic hostility blooming between Princess and Queen. She looked more seasoned than I remember her for.

Hmm, Dilemma thought. Wait till Ylenno hears about this! She began writing a little remark when she realized that one of the people conversing was none other than that Dunmer who looked as if he mistook a piece of guar dung for Jaffa cakes. Irritation bloomed in her veins.

Look at that face, she thought venomously. His mother must've mistaken that craggy mess for her cutting board, if he has a mother at all.

I think I know you, missus, Dilemma wrote, sparing not one more glance in Cutting Board's direction. Aren't you Buffy from Bravil? Ylenno can't keep his mouth shut about you. In fact, he's here in Anvil.
Acadian
IPB Image
When next the girl held up for display another message, Buffy remembered. “Dilemma? Why the last time I saw you, you were waist high to an Imperial and cutting purses from the crowds visiting Bravil for the Tournament of Archers. Now you’re tall as a Bosmer – well, a small one anyway. Ylenno in Anvil? Oh my, I hope he’s not in jail.” The wood elf's blue eyes sparkled with mirth.

As the conversation regarding the brewery quest had slowed pending the recruitment of more adventurers it seemed, Buffy waved to a chair, indicating the girl was welcome to join her at the table if she wished. After all, Buffy reminded herself, it was her table. “What brings you to the Flowing Bowl, Dilemma?"
Callidus Thorn
Edril cocked an eyebrow as the mercenary fondled his axe. "Cowards are more easily intimidated with magic than with steel, though a little of both should make it easier." He paused for a few moments, scrutinising the other Dunmer, once more stroking his goatee as he pondered.

"To answer your question from before; I'm in. Provisionally. I reserve the right to withdraw should I find sufficient cause to do so."
Darkness Eternal
Kraven stared at the young man before him; he had long hair that fell to his neck, a face sprouting shadows of stubble growing underneath his chin and neck, warning him it was time for a shave. The water rippled, and the young man's face - for a moment- looked like that of a wolf. It was only after a second that Kraven saw Tiber walk up beside him from the water's reflection.

Tiber sniffed out the barrels for food, as he often did. He had quite the knack for finding meals. Kraven enjoyed bringing him in his travels for many reasons, and this was only but one of them. Tiber was young, and too curious. He supposed all young Highland wolves were like this at a young age. These wolves were common in Colovian hills and in the Great Forest, where wild packs were feared by farmers and shepherds. But some foresters have domesticated the beasts and, bred for size, use them as mounts in the ancient times.

He was a valuable friend.

Kraven sat up, patted the dirt away from his pants, and walked away from the ships. He looked hot and bedraggled as he made his way along the Harborside. Sweat had left dark rings beneath the arms of his light linen shirt, and he had the same sour look on his long face worn the time he arrived.

It was time to leave Anvil.

By staying too long, and waiting too long, he concluded that he would not work with the dark elves. It was best he took leave, and if any problems rise in the tavern, should anyone be stabbed, caught on fire or flown out the window as victims of telekenetic power, he wanted no part. He did not want to stand idly as some drunk mistaken witness points an accusing finger claiming, "Aye, I saw the lad with them, too."

No, not today. Kraven whistled, and Tiber followed.
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