Midnight, 12th of Heartfire
I tip-toed carefully up the steps of the Solitude Lighthouse. I’d expected there to be a lock on the door—but there wasn’t even a door. I’d expected the first floor to be a residence with a light keeper past whom I’d have to sneak. There had been nothing on the first floor. I was surprised when I reached the top and found the light completely unattended—surprised and offended. Swims had promised me I’d find this job well suited to my abilities. Apparently, his sense of humor had developed a bit of a bite in the last few months. I can’t say I was pleased.
Anyway, putting out the light was a simple matter of pushing most of the fuel over the edge into the sea, and covering the cinders with a cheap blanket. It smoked, but not so you could see it at night.
I ran back to the docks to meet Swims. “The Light’s out,” I told him.
“I can see it is,” he agreed. “Well timed. The Icerunner was just coming in, and it’s run aground on the ice flows. You can head on out there and find my sister to claim your reward.”
“And the sailors?” I asked again. “They got off safely?”
“The sailors have been well taken care of,” he assured me.
“That means a lot to me,” I told him. “Where will you be?”
“I’ll be organizing the storage of the loot,” he said. “I’ll see you later, after the job’s been done.”
“OK, I’ll see you then. Hey Swims, it’s good to be working with you again.”
Swims seemed to hesitate a moment, then said, “I’m glad you found me.”
I took a rowboat out across the channel to the opposite bank, moving carefully between the ice flows, then followed the trail to where the ship, its decks glowing with lantern light, leaned against the rocks. I was challenged on the trail by an armed man, but when I told him who I was, he said, “Oh yes, you’re expected. You’ll find Deeja below decks.”
It was not until I ran up the brow onto the weather deck that I realized something was wrong—the decks were littered and stained by the bodies of sailors and soldiers. These men had not died in the grounding, either. They’d been slain. I saw more of the same below decks. Divines and Daedra, I thought. Swims doesn’t know what kind of people he’s gotten mixed up with. Swims and I would have to look elsewhere for an organization to join. What about Deeja? I wondered. Was she a part of this?
I found Deeja down in the deep stores, where the brackish, smelly bilge-water pooled along the keel. When she saw me, she greeted me, “Ah yes, you are here for your payment. Well here you go!” And she drew a knife and tried to kill me! I defended myself; what else could I have done?
I stood over her corpse in a panic. I just killed Swims’ sister, I thought. The one that saved his life! What am I going to tell him? Thinking fast, I searched the body, looking for anything that would explain why she’d attacked me, anything I could present to Swims to prove to him that I’d had no choice. When I found a note, I knew I’d found what I needed.
I opened it up and read it, and my blood turned to ice.