Unabridged Journal of Nerussa, Book Nine, Part One

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    5th Sun’s Dusk

    “One of the guards made some smart comment yesterday about ‘conjuring him up a warm bed’… I’m starting to think a spell like that might actually be worth…” he shuddered “studying.”

    Nerussa screwed her eyes up, hoping they’d feel better when she opened them. It didn’t work. It appeared that spending the night in a tent was actually less restful if you were wrapped in a lover’s arms. Seemed unfair, that.

    She supposed the nightmares hadn’t helped, although they hadn’t seemed quite as strong as on the previous few nights. She couldn’t quite get the memory of them to coalesce beyond a lingering unease, or perhaps foreboding. She wasn’t sure she wanted to, though. A vague memory of her grandmother blowing smoke rings and talking about prophetic dreams tickled at the edge of her mind, but she couldn’t catch that, either.

    In any case, it was time to return to the Cistern with what she had found. She thought she’d offer the bee statue to Delvin, if nothing else, it might make him laugh. She hadn’t shown the strange gem to Vex the night before, and spent the walk back to town debating the wisdom of doing so today, having succeeded with the Goldenglow job.

     

    6th Sun’s Dusk

    Nerussa grimaced. “Is this really necessary, Rumarin?”

    “Who’s the one with the stage background? If you want him to think you’re a rat catcher, you can’t show up all shiny and clean, can you? Plus, it’s playing up your skin tone, he’ll probably take you for Bosmeri. You don’t want him to be able to give a good description, if it comes down to it… Besides, you can head straight for the steam room when you get back.”

    “I’m tall for an Altmer, surely he won’t think I’m Bosmeri!”

    “Nerussa, do you really think Nords pay attention to our heights? Dark eyes, not yellow or grey-skinned? Bosmer! If you’re really worried, just stoop a bit.”

    He finished daubing the mud on her face, and handed her a set of breeches and a tunic that he had prepared the afternoon before. They reeked, and she wished she had eaten a lighter breakfast, but she had to admit, they did make her look like she crawled around in sewers for a living. Probably because he’d gone off to prepare them in the Ragged Flagon while she had spoken with Vex. She wasn’t entirely sure she believed this story about some crown belonging to Barenziah, but the stone was obviously something special, and it couldn’t hurt to keep an eye out for any more on her travels.

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    Sabjorn wrinkled his nose as the door to his meadery swung open. Gods, what a stench! He picked up his broom, preparing to shoo the woman – no, not a woman, a she-Elf! – out, but she put up her hands and for some reason he felt inclined to listen to her.

    “Having any trouble with skeevers?”

    “Skeevers? I run a clean establishment, I… By Zenithar, fine. Yes, I am dealing with a… small infestation, ordinarily my assistant, Mallus, would deal with it, but that lazy, good-for-nothing oaf decided to visit one of the local taverns last night and I don’t have time to wait for him to deign to show up for work. I certainly can’t go crawling around in skeever nests, I’ve got a mead tasting to prepare for! The captain of the guard, no less.”

    “So, you pay me, I rid you of skeevers, all is well?” Strange accent, obviously a foreigner. One of those revolting cannibal wood Elves, from the look of her. He didn’t bother to hide his sneer.

    “Fine, but don’t expect payment until the job is done. Here, I bought this poison from Arcadia, in the city, thank goodness she’s so discreet.”

    “Oh, I think you pay me first. There was guard outside, if you don’t pay me, perhaps he would like to know about skeevers, hm?”

    “Why, that’s extortion, you knife-eared little bitch!”

    “Sure, extortion. So, you want me to kill skeevers with gold in my purse, or tell guard?”

    He blinked. He did not have time for this. He counted out the gold and passed it to her, along with the vial of poison. “Now, hurry up! The captain of the guard will be here at noon, and I’ll have to draw the mead from the vat in good time.”

    She made a show of biting one of the coins, grinned at him, and headed to the cellar.

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    Oghma’s Tits! Nerussa was seriously considering swearing off Honningbrew Mead, the place was disgusting. At least the Black-Briar place was kept clean. Strange, Honningbrew had a good reputation for a relatively new meadery, but she didn’t think much of either the owner or the sole employee she had met so far. She wasn’t especially happy about any of this, truth be told, and she was certainly not particularly keen to help Maven, but she had to admit she was curious to find out whether there was some connection with the papers she had found in Goldenglow.

    She wiped cobwebs from her face with her sleeve, then remembered where her sleeve had apparently been. She gagged as quietly as she could, casting her rune, and vanishing from sight. Carefully, she snuck past a skeever, its nose twitching as it tried to make sense of the conflicting sensory input. Her soft-soled boots let her move almost silently, but clearly she was far from scentless. She passed through a hole in the cellar wall, and into a tunnel, just barely high enough to crouch in. Thankfully, the tunnel broadened out into a small cavern after a few minutes, less thankfully it was populated by a number of both skeevers and spiders. Very, very carefully, she moved past the verminous creatures towards another tunnel opening on one side of the cavern. Her job was not to exterminate the creatures personally, but to poison them, and she was not especially keen to aggravate the spiders after her experience in the tomb of Jurgen Windcaller. She had a feeling there was something odd about the skeevers, as well.

    She considered the idea of putting Vipir’s lessons into practice, from the day before. He’d sidled up to her and offered to teach her a few tricks. She wasn’t sure at first whether he was attempting to flirt, but it turned out he’d been speaking to Delvin, who’d mentioned that she seemed to… lack confidence in taking fishing jobs. She had come away with a much better grasp, so to speak, of the basics, at least, of pickpocketing. He’d also mentioned something that he could teach her when she was a bit more practiced – a way of poisoning a ‘mark’ by placing a fragile vial of something deeply unpleasant in their pocket. He’d also suggested that, if it really came down to it, that particular trick could be accomplished by a less skilled fisher, provided they weren’t aiming to be undetected, and didn’t mind giving the target a good slap on the arse. The man – she thought it was a man – ahead of her did not look like someone she wanted to go up against without a bit of an unfair advantage. Generally speaking someone who lived in a hole in the ground, and talked lovingly to his skeever friends might not appear to be much of a threat, but she was fairly certain that his ragged garb had, at one point, been a set of College robes – not the strongest enchantment, but indicative of some level of skill beyond that of the typical bandit or wandering madman. That was probably not something to take lightly.

    Still, she was unsure. He was clearly up to something nefarious, but then… so was she. Perhaps it would be better to wait for the job to be done and suggest to Mallus that he hire a Companion or three to clear the cellar out… After some debate, she decided to do her best to sneak past. She scanned the room. The man was standing by an alchemy lab, muttering to the largest skeever she had ever seen. The nest was...right next to it. Damn. What were her choices? Attempt to poison the mage, and hope he was too addled to put up a serious fight, or cast her rune here – she was nearly sure the range would cover her in reach of the nest – turn invisible again, sneak over, poison the nest, and hope she could turn invisible again before the mage or his… pet noticed her from the corner of their eye? Of course, she couldn’t be sure from here if he even had pockets… Oh, to Oblivion with it. She charged the rune spell...

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    Well, at least the ratcatcher had been quick, Sabjorn thought, as he prepared the cask of mead for Commander Caius to inspect. He’d heard a few odd noises that had seemed to be coming from beneath his feet, but she had emerged after only an hour or so, with several skeever tails that she was apparently planning to sell to the local alchemist. His stomach turned at the memory, but - praise Zenithar! - when he’d entered the brewhouse, the place had been free of the vile creatures.

    He found himself humming as he strolled back to the main building of the meadery. His business had been doing well, and with the final payment, and promise of assistance from his… patron… and the successful inspection by Caius, he was looking forward to going into full production, and really giving that Riften lot a run for their money. The free labour didn’t hurt, although lately Mallus had not been pulling his weight. That would have to be… dealt with.

    “Ah, Commander Caius, I trust you haven’t been waiting long? Please, do come in, I think you’ll enjoy sampling this latest batch, it’s a new recipe, with a little something extra!”

     

Comments

2 Comments   |   The Lorc of Flowers and 1 other like this.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 8
    I can almost hear Nerussa go "ewwww".
    • Gnewna
      Gnewna
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      I can almost hear Nerussa go "ewwww".
        ·  October 10
      Blargh, yes!