The Silver Fox - Arc 1, Chapter 11




    29th Last Seed 4E 201


    I heard the door creaked open and a tall shadow loomed over my bed. Knowing who it probably was standing at the doorway, I quickly turned away and wrapped myself in my fur blanket, covering my entire body except for my face.


    It was six-thirty in the morning (if you’re asking how I know this, that’s because I had several clocks installed in the house/store. It’s a pretty nifty thing to have if you’re living in the canal). At seven, I would be up and awake, all dressed, and having breakfast at the Bee and Barb. But nope! This time I’d decided to sleep a bit longer. Why? Because I don’t feel like waking up early today. And no, it has nothing to do with a deal I made with a certain redhead Breton in the Ragged Flagon yesterday.


    I heard the light tap tap sounds of footsteps coming from the door with each step growing louder and closer to me. I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. Usually that works. Heavy emphasis on ‘usually’.


    A finger poked my back. “Go away, Kat.” I mumbled, playing the act of a drowsy man. “Wake me up when the sun rises.” There was a moment pause, then she poked my back again, three times. Okay, now she’s just pushing my buttons. I waved an arm at her as a not-so-subtle way of me telling her to leave my room.


    I heard Kat’s foot stomp against the wooden floor, a tell-tale sign that she’s not happy. She probably has her arms folded and cheeks puffed up too. Then I heard her leave my room. Hopefully that meant I could finally get some shuteye.


    Though I soon quickly underestimated Kat’s persistence when I heard the tap tap sounds of her footsteps once again, this time it was accompanied by the sloshing sound of—water? Oh shit… I immediately knew what was going to happen next, but before I could even do anything—


    Gaahh!” I jumped up from my bed as I was splashed in water—cold water!—and landed, face first, on the floor with a loud thump along with my blanket. I untangled myself and looked up, only to be greeted by a scowling Kat in her usual apparels, holding an empty bucket.


    “Go get ready,” She angrily gestured with one hand. “or…” She raised the bucket above her head, threatening to throw it at me.


    I let out a low snort. So much for getting some extra shuteye.




    “Morning, guys!” Varik greeted as he entered the store. He was dressed in his usual reddish-brown tunic and vest that he wore for work with a brown fur cloak draped over his shoulders.


    “Hey, Varik!” I hollered back from inside the storage room where I was preparing my equipment kit. Due to the layout of the house/store, every room was small and crammed with furniture and other utilities. Almost every space was used to ensure maximum capacity. Some might compare it to a hoarder’s den, but hey, at least I know how to organize.


    “By the way, Boss, there was someone standing outside the store when I arrived.” Varik mentioned.


    “Huh, I didn’t recall having any early customers today unless—”


    The doorbell rang again, and someone greeted, “Helloooo everyone!” 


    Oh, just great.


    “Roses?” I called out. There was no mistaking that voice. It was her alright, and she sounded unusually happy, which was no surprise. “What in Oblivion are you doing in my shop this early? I told you to wait for us at the stables.”


    “Well I wanted to see if you’re all set and ready for today’s great adventure!” She said with much enthusiasm. “Also I needed to make sure you didn’t forget about it, and try to weasel your way out.”


    “And what makes you think I would?” I asked her, even though I had originally planned on doing the exact thing if not for Kat.


    “I just don’t trust your words, that’s all. And where are you anyways?”


    “In the storage room,” I replied. “I’ll be out in a minute.”


    It was actually five minutes. I came out from the storage room with a burlap roll slung over my shoulder, a bow in my hand, and a quiver full of arrows buckled to the side of my belt along with a shortsword.


    Elise was sitting by the corner with Kat. She wore yesterday’s green-and-black robes and had her staff leaned against the wall. “Finished already?” She asked when she saw me. “Katlynn and I were waiting for ages for you,”


    “Ha ha,” I feigned humor. “I needed to do a double-check on everything before we—wait a minute, how do you know Kat’s name?”  


    “She told me,” Elise said.


    I looked to Kat and she lifted a small writing slate from the table while brandishing a cat smile. There was a single word written on the board: ‘Problem?’


    “No,” I replied, annoyed that she used the writing slate set that I had put on for sale. “It’s actually convenient for me since I don’t have to introduce you two to each other. Now Kat, please put that writing slate set back on the shelf. People aren’t gonna buy it if it’s already been used.”


    Instead of using the writing slate, Kat used her standard hand gestures and replied, “Says the guy who sells stolen goods.”


    I ignored the girl’s snide remark and moved on to the important matter at hand. “C’mon, let’s head to the stables. We’re already wasting time as it is.”


    “Hey, that’s supposed to be my line!” Elise exclaimed as she stood up from the chair and grabbed her staff.


    “Going somewhere, Boss?” asked Varik who was cleaning the counter.


    “Yeah, me and Kat are going out for the day to help this woman with something.” I said just as I opened the door and let Kat go through first.


    “Is it somehow related to settling our debt?”


    “Huh, what’s this about a debt?” Elise abruptly asked.


    N-nothing!! There’s no debt. I don't know what Varik's talking about. He sometimes says weird things!” I blurted out as I pushed Elise out of the doorway. Once she was outside, I shot a glare at Varik.


    “Sorry, Boss." He said with a regretful look. "Guess I should’ve kept my mouth shut.”


    “Just don’t talk about it out in the open like that again, okay?” I said. “Anyways, take care of the store while we're away.”




    It was dawn the moment I stepped out from the store. The sky was blue-orange, rays of sunlight spreading out from the Velothi Mountains. Some of the canal residents were already up and awake, mostly fishermen preparing to start another day of fishing in Lake Honrich. There was a slight chill in the air. The mornings in the Rift tend to be quite cold.


    I joined up with Elise and Kat and together we walked up to the surface. The Grand Plaza began to stir up as merchants opened their stalls and shops, bringing their wares out for display. I saw the glimmer in Kat’s eyes and gave her a light smack in the back of her head when Elise wasn’t looking.


    “Now, now, don’t you even think about it, Kat.” I whispered to her with a serious tone. “You dragged me into this, and I’m gonna make sure you stay for the entire ride. So that means no morning shoplifting, no pickpocketing, and no public mischief until we get the job done, got it?”


    Kat frowned and reluctantly accepted my terms. It was fortunate that she did because Kat can be like a kid sometimes. Wait, make that all the time. She had a drive for larceny, always wandering around the city, stealing whenever she feels like it. I had to constantly keep tabs on her ‘activities’, otherwise she might do something dangerous or stupid.


    That reminds me… “Hey, Roses!” I called out to the woman who was walking ahead of us.


    Elise stopped and turned her head around. “What is it?”


    “I think I have something that belongs to you.” Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a small leather bag and—


    My purse!” Before I could even react, Elise snatched the purse with the deftness of a cutpurse. Her hand just went like Swoop!. She caressed her purse like it was a pet before shooting a glare at me. “You! You stole it, didn’t you?! I knew it! You’re a thief! A no good untrustworthy—”


    “I didn't steal your purse, Roses.” I quickly explained while also urging her to tone her volume down. “I just so happen to stumble upon the guy who stole it from you and had kindly asked him to give it to me.” Behind me, I could feel Kat’s glare just boring through my skull. Why is she doing that to me? Well, because said ‘guy’ is actually her. I did mention that I keep tabs on her activities, and it just so happens Elise’s purse was one of the items she stole two days ago. She’s probably pissed that I stole something from her safe and didn’t tell her about it.


    “Care to tell me the name of this person?” Elise asked. There was malice evident in her tone.


    “And why do you want to know that, Roses?” I carefully asked.


    “Well I just want give him my personal thanks for returning my purse.” She smiled. “And by that, I mean beating him to a pulp with my staff!!


    Behind me, Kat’s glare intensified. By now, I suspect she was thinking on ways on how to kill me if I ratted her out. Not that I would since she was family, but still, the thought of it was obvious in her head.


    I was silently cursing myself now because I felt like I was in one of those romcom situations where the guy gets caught by two women whom he had relationships with, asking who the other woman was, and regardless what the guy says, he always ends up getting beaten to a pulp by both women.


    This is so not how I planned to start my day.


    A sharp whistle suddenly cut through the razor-thin tension and drew the attention of all three of us, inadvertently saving my life. While I wanted to thanked who ever did that, it was not until I saw the person’s face that my relief turned to despair.


    “Well now, this is quite a sight,” said the Nord with brown-red hair, grey eyes, and sporting that peculiar accent.


    “Brynjolf,” I smiled happily while suppressing the urge to groan. This day just keeps getting better and better.


    “Nice to stumble into you today, Vulpin.” He added. Brynjolf didn’t wore his guild outfit. When he was outside the Ratway, he wore normal clothes. But today, he wore his merchant’s outfit—a rich navy-blue quilted coat with sheepskin pants and pleated boots—which struck me curious for a moment.


    “Oh, who’s this?” Elise asked.


    “Elise, Brynjolf. Brynjolf, Elise.”


    “A pleasure to meet you,” The Nord shook hands with her and smiled. “You must be Elise. Delvin had mentioned quite a few things about you.”


    “Oh really? I’m flattered.” Elise flatly replied. The moment he mentioned Delvin’s name,  her eyes grew suspicious. She’d probably already made a guess by now that Brynjolf was also a thief.


    “If you don’t mind, I need to speak with Renartus for a moment.” Brynjolf grabbed my shoulder, still smiling, and pulled me away towards the walkway.


    I leaned by the wooden railing, briefly looking down at the canal where small boats floated out to the canal gates. I then turned to Brynjolf and immediately dropped my facade, my face serious. “Okay, what is it, Bryn?”


    “Word is you and Katlynn are going exploring a Dwemer ruin. That true?”


    Dammit, Delvin. “Yeah,” I plainly replied.


    “Any chance telling me why?”


    “That Breton woman hired us to go help her retrieve some Dwemer artifact.” I lied. Half-lie, really. There was no way in Oblivion I’d let Brynjolf or the Guild know my true intentions. “We get to keep anything that we find as a reward.”


    “Sounds like a good job,” Brynjolf said, nodding thoughtfully. And just like that, he bought into my lie.


    “Yeah it is,” I smiled. “We’re hoping to share some of the spoils with the Guild if there’s too much for me and Kat to keep.”


    “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Brynjolf gave me a big playful slap in the back, sending my body jerking forward against the railing. “Always thinking about the folks in the Guild, eh?”


    “Yup, you know me. Always one for the Guild.” I let out a weary chuckle.


    A part of me felt ashamed after saying that. I really didn’t like lying to the Guild about my debt. These people had helped me start a new life here in Skyrim, and I’m grateful for it. But the Guild has hit rough ground in the past few years, and I don’t want to burden them with something as trivial as settling a debt.


    Looking for a way to lightened my mood, I popped Brynjolf a question, “So what’s with the gettup?”


    “Oh, this?” He gestured his hands over his clothes and grinned, “I think it’s already obvious to you.”


    “Another con?” I wasn’t surprised. Me and Brynjolf were conmen-in-arms. Dashing rogues with a silver tongue and a penchant for making quick coin. “So what is it this time?”


    “Troll fat salve.”


    “Troll fat—Oh gods...” I covered my mouth with my hand as I stifled a laugh. “Brynjolf, did you actually read that book I gave you?”


    101 Uses for Troll Fat? Yeah, I read it. What? It was a good book.”


    “You do know that only half of it is true while the other half is pure bullshit?” I said.


    “Yeah, I figured that out much. But hey, it’s not like people would even notice. As long as you got something to backed up your statement, people would be more convinced to buy your goods. You know the old saying, Vulpin: The key to a great con is—”


    “—making the people believe everything you say is real, yeah yeah.” I finished. That was a saying I had been following since I was a young kid hustling in the streets of the Imperial City. “So where did you get the troll fat?”


    “A conman never reveals his secrets,” Brynjolf answered. Tactful as always. “Oh by the way, I found out that Vipir’s in prison.”


    “So that’s where he’s been all this time? I figured he was spending the night at the brothels or something. How did he get caught?”


    “Some mage slowed him down with some kind of spell and the guards tackled him. Well, that’s what Vipir said when I visited him.”


    I had a feeling I knew who the mage was. Still, it was rather ironic for a man nicknamed ‘The Fleet’ to be taken down that way.


    “You’re not going to free him?” I asked.


    “You know the rules, Vulpin.” Brynjolf said with a firm look.


    Oh, and do I know them well. In the Thieves’ Guild, whenever a member gets caught, they had to spend a certain amount of time in jail. The time spent in jail depended on how many times you got caught in one month. The first time was a free pass; the second time was a four-day sentence; the third was a week. After that, the number of days spent serving time increased by two with each consecutive arrest until the end of the month. It was kind of the Guild’s way to discipline its members. The less you get caught, the more you’ll walk away free and rich. But to be honest, there’s lately seem to be more dead thieves than arrested thieves, so I guess Vipir got the lucky end.


    “Well, I’m going to head to the Grand Plaza and set up shop.” Brynjolf said. “Nice seeing you today, Vulpin. And good luck on your exploring.”


    “Yeah, you too, Brynjolf.” We exchanged a two-finger salute before I went back to Kat and Elise.


    “So were you two done with your little conversation?” Elise asked, her tone hinting at her impatience.


    “Yeah, I’m done. Let’s head to the stables.”




    At the stables, I made Kat and Elise wait as I talked to the stablemaster, Hofgrir Horse-Crusher (yes, he actually crushed a horse to earn that name), about preparing our horses.


    After a while, everything was set. I went back to the girls and said, “Okay, so the horses are ready. There’s one for each of us with four bags and half a day’s worth of supplies.”


    “I’m surprised you actually had one prepared for me.” Elise commented.


    “Hey, I’m not that cold-hearted, Roses.” I replied.


    Our horses stood in front of their respective stalls. There were three of them, all big, strong, and hairy, just like everything else in Skyrim. Hey, Morrowind has weird giant bugs and mushrooms, so why can’t Skyrim have its own special traits?


    “Wait a minute,” Elise suddenly stopped when she saw the horses. “You said there were three horses.”


    I looked at the horses and then back to her and I said, with a straight face, “Yes, yes I did. And they’re standing right in front of you.”


    Elise was baffled. “Wh-what? All I see are two horses and a mule...” It didn’t take her too long to put two and two together. “...Oh no,” She said, her face turning from confusion to shock at the revelation. “Oh no no no no, tell me that I’m not riding that.”


    “What you mean that horse?”


    “It’s a mule!” She argued. Her face was growing red now.


    “Technically a mule’s a horse.” I calmly explained to her. “They’re kinda part of the same family. I don't see why you're so mad about—”


    A strong gust of cold air suddenly knocked me off my feet and I was sent flying into a nearby pile of hay. It burst into fine yellow straws when I landed. I rubbed the  back of my head as I looked up. “What the heck, Ro—whoa, whoa, whoa!” Before I could even finish, Elise had walked up to me and was pointing the tip of her staff dangerously close to my face. The crystal started to glow a frosty blue. “Uh, Elise…” I slowly said, using her real name as opposed to the nickname I gave her. “I would appreciate if you could… move your staff away from my—”


    “I don't like being made a fool of, do you hear me?” She said, her voice dead and cold as her eyes. “You might think it's funny tricking a naive woman like me, but I’m not as naive as you think.”


    I felt like there was some kind dark aura surrounding her, and to be honest, it is scaring the shit out of me, but I wasn’t going to show that on my face. No, I can still salvage myself from this mess. Just gotta play it cool.


    “I’m not riding that mule,” Elise insisted.


    “That’s good and all, but the mule’s your only option. It’s either that, or you’re walking with us all the way to Bzhamkelt.” Play it cool. Play it cool.


    “Why don’t I just take your horse?”


    “Well you can’t, because—as you said it yourself—it’s my horse. I bought it with my hard-earned coin. You can’t just take somebody’s horse.” That’s right, keep playing it cool. Use reason to persuade her.


    “I don't care.” Elise said coldly. “I will ride a horse, and that’s final. So give me your horse or…” She grinned menacingly. “I’ll turn you into an ice sculpture.”


    Not cool! Not cool! “That’s a good one, Roses.” I laughed nervously. “Best joke I’ve heard from you so far.”


    Elise swept her staff away and fired a frost spell at a nearby rabbit, freezing it in place. She quickly pointed the staff back at my face. Her eyes had remained serious. “Still think this is a joke?”


    Shit! Shit! Shit! My face turned pale. Okay so playing cool did not help. It’s fine, I’ll switch to Plan B. I’ll just ask Kat for...


    I saw said girl standing far away, looking up at the (imaginary) birds in the sky. She didn’t even seem to take notice at my current situation.


    She’s deliberately ignoring me!


    Well, there goes my backup plan. “Look, Elise…” I carefully said. “Maybe we can talk this out.”


    “No, negotiations are over.” Elise said, still bearing that dark look on her face. “You’re going to give me your horse in three seconds or I’ll freeze you right here on the spot. One,”


    “You know, that’s not a very reasona—”




    I slowly moved back. “Why don’t you just take—”




    “Okay, okay, you can take my horse! You can take my horse!!” I shouted as I cowered against the pile of hay behind me, shielding my face with my hands. “Just don’t turn me into a popsicle, you crazy woman!”


    Elise raised her staff away from my face. “See, that wasn’t hard now, was it?” She said, twirling her staff, her dark aura now replaced with a bright expression and a sweet smile. “Thank you for offering me your horse, Mr. Vulpin.” She bowed before moving away.


    “W-wa-wait,” I stammered as my brain tried to comprehend what just happened. “W-what was that?”


    Elise stopped and turned her head around, revealing a smug look and replied, “Oh, that? That was called a hustle, sweetheart.” She giggled as she left me staring dumbfound at her.


    I... just got hustled? It wasn’t long before a hand reached out for me. I snapped out from my thoughts to see Kat standing in front of me. She was wiping a tear from her eye. She had been laughing. Of course, she had been laughing!


    “Oh, so now you decided to help me out.” I said, scowling. I grabbed her hand and she helped lift me up from the haypile.




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8 Comments   |   Hworra and 3 others like this.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  June 28
    Nice to know it's not just Aela and Sotek who argues over horses. Can't comment on the rabbit, not with my track record.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 25, 2017
    Nice to get caught up with Vulpin. And Elise killed a bunny! 
  • Shadow Arm
    Shadow Arm   ·  October 24, 2017
    I just feel sorry for the rabbit who got caught in the way of batshit crazy mage's tantrum. This precisely why mage's are so dangerous :D Can't weasel your way out now, Vulpin. This was amusing, well done :)
    • A-Pocky-Hah!
      Shadow Arm
      Shadow Arm
      Shadow Arm
      I just feel sorry for the rabbit who got caught in the way of batshit crazy mage's tantrum. This precisely why mage's are so dangerous :D Can't weasel your way out now, Vulpin. This was amusing, well done :)
        ·  October 24, 2017
      This is probably one of my better chapters in terms of humor. Better expect more since this story's mostly comedy and action. And no, we're not talking about your  kind of comedy, Karves.
      • Shadow Arm
        Shadow Arm
        This is probably one of my better chapters in terms of humor. Better expect more since this story's mostly comedy and action. And no, we're not talking about your  kind of comedy, Karves.
          ·  October 24, 2017
        Ooooo. What's my kind of comedy, I have to know! :D
  • Hworra
    Hworra   ·  October 22, 2017
    Heheheheheh, about time Renartus had a bit of comeuppance. I can see this becoming a very interesting character dynamic.
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  October 22, 2017
    Guess who's back, back again!
    Sorry for the very long wait. Preparations for exams are killing my free time, that and lots of Destiny 2 and procrastinating. :P
    Anyways, I've decided to release this chapter before I resume my hiatus for anothe...  more
    • Hworra
      Guess who's back, back again!
      Sorry for the very long wait. Preparations for exams are killing my free time, that and lots of Destiny 2 and procrastinating. :P
      Anyways, I've decided to release this chapter before I resume my hiatus for another month just...  more
        ·  October 22, 2017

      *prepares devastating lightning bolts*

      Oh, and good luck with your exams! I'll be cheering on the sidelines as you revise!