Walk with the Shadows Ch 2

  • Walk with the Shadows

    Chapter Two: The Guild

       Lucina wakes and is unsure of her surroundings for a moment. “Oh… right. Riften…” She yawns and gets up to check her barricaded door and her stash under the floorboards. Everything is as she left it. She takes fifty gold and puts it in a small purse before getting dressed. After a light breakfast, she steps out into the streets of Riften. She has a task to perform.


       Her first stop is the general store to try and find an outfit that actually fits her properly. Being let around the store to try on outfits in the back, she gets a good look at the store’s layout and a number of valuable goods on display. She settles on a green dress with a matching hood and shoes. Also a silver ring and locket catch her fancy. It consumes all the gold she has on her, but the outfit makes her look like she belongs in Skyrim. The store keeper is blissfully unaware of who he is price gouging, but she doesn’t mind. She knows she will be getting it back later.... And then some.


       Lucina wanders the streets and picks a few pockets before approaching the beggars. If one thing has always proven true for Lucina; if you need information on something in a city, ask the beggars. She hands out a few gold she has pinched from people she passed on the street to ingratiate herself to the beggars and get information on the targets the man in the bar last night had told her about and the name of the man himself. Brynjolf. She learns he is well known to be connected to the Guild in Skyrim, but the beggars are light on details. As for Madesi and Brand-Shei, she learns they are both merchants with stalls in the center of town. Madesi is an Argonian Jeweler and Brand-Shei is a Dunmer operating a stand selling and buying general goods. She makes no headway in discovering why these two are being singled out by the Guild.


       After walking the streets for a few hours, observing guard patrols and citizens moving about their day, Lucina approaches her targets as a prospective shopper. With little but a gentle smile she gets them to chat her up a bit. She learns a little about their businesses and personal stories. Still no hint of why they are the centerpiece of the scheme Brynjolf has cooked up. Satisfied she has gathered as much information as she needs to carry out the plan, Lucina goes to find Brynjolf. He is spouting some nonsense about a “Falmer Blood Elixir” he’s trying to shill out to the town from a stall in the markets. His claims of its abilities are beyond asinine. “Live for thousands of years!” he says. “See into other people's thoughts!” he says… Lucina leans against the back of the Bee and Barb rolling her eyes, “Who would believe this shit?” she asks herself. Just then she perks up as a guardsman walks up to Brynjolf. She figures he’s about to get hauled off, but the guard looks around and passes Brynjolf a coin purse for a bottle of the Elixir. “You have GOT to be kidding me? The guards here are murderous AND stupid...” she thinks to herself with a dumbfounded expression on her face.


       Around midday, the market clears out a bit as most return home or go to the tavern for a meal. Lucina approaches Brynjolf. He lowers the bottle of his Elixir and says, “Okay, Lass. Ready to make some coin?” She picks up one of his Elixir bottles as if she is a potential customer, “Alright, Brynjolf. Let's get to work.” At the mention of his name, he does not hide the fact that he is impressed she learned his name and smirks as he says, “So you do know how to gather intel… Alright then. I’ll start the distraction while you do your part.” She puts the bottle back and walks away as he raises his voice and calls everyone to him for an unbelievable sales pitch even more ridiculous than the last. Once everyone is suitably occupied and the guards are out of range, she begins picking the lock on Madesi’s stand. The stand has a substantial lock on it, as one would expect from a jeweler, but a novice could have picked the old lockbox inside. Inside the box she finds a saffire, a silver ring, a purse with 500 gold, and a gold jeweled necklace. She pockets everything. Ordinarily she would close everything back up tight, but in this case, the idea is that Madesi knows immediately that he was robbed.


       Moving back over to where Brynjolf is spinning his yarn about his sludge, she spots Brad-Shei sitting on some crates. She notices a gap in the crates behind him, just big enough to slip her arm through and into his back pocket. It also provides good cover so she won’t need to worry about being seen. When she is sure no one is looking, she ducks behind the crates and peeks through the opening. She spots the purse on the back of Brand-Shei’s belt and slips her arm through the crates. With an almost graceful touch, Lucina gently drops the silver ring inside the purse. She pauses a moment to listen to the line of lunacy Brynjolf is spoon feeding the crowd. Lucina just stares in awe at the high grade level of belligerence coming out of the man and thinks, “He’s definitely a criminal. No way he could make an honest living telling these absurd tales.” She stands and gives a nod to Brynjolf. He quickly wraps up and the crowd grumbles as they disperse. “What a waste of time” one says. Another just throws a wad of paper at the Nord before walking off.


       Brynjolf meets Lucina on the boardwalk outside the marketplace, “Looks like I chose the right person for the job. And here you go. Your payment.” He hands her a purse with a hundred Septims and says, “With the way things have been going around here, it’s a relief this went off without a hitch.” Lucina counts up the coins in the purse, “Oh? What’s been going on?” Brynjolf rubs the back of his head, “Eh… My organization has been having a run of bad luck. But never mind that. You did the job and you did it well. Best of all, there’s more where that came from. If you think you can handle it.”  Obviously trying to bait her, she just looks at him mockingly, “Oh I can -handle- it.” He lowers his brow, “Alright then. The organization I represent makes its home in the Ragged Flagon down in the Ratway below Riften. Get there in one piece and we’ll see if you really have what it takes.” He walks away and nods to a guardsman. The guard rushes to Brand-Shei’s stall and demands to see the contents of his pockets. Lucina walks away with the knowledge that Riften’s guards are able to be bought… But for how much? A question for another time. She returns to the Bee and Barb as Brand-Shei is hauled off to the Keep for theft.


       After retrieving her gear, she dumps her gold into her pack except for the hundred she got from Brynjolf and replaces the floorboard. She inscribes a small fire rune on the floor just inside the door to her room. Not enough to kill anyone, but will make a loud pop and give someone a serious case of hot foot for breaking into her room. She proceeds down to the lower level of the city after again speaking to one of Riften’s beggars about how to reach this Ragged Flagon. Down to the city's lower level and into the sewers, she goes. She holds her nose, “Oh for divine’s sake… just when I thought this place couldn’t stink any worse… This better be worth it…” The first thing she runs into is a pair of thugs. They bicker about their lack of fortune. While they are engaged with each other, Lucina sneaks around them, pilfering their pockets as she passes. She doesn’t find much. 5 gold pieces and a few lockpicks. Looking at their meger holdings, she thinks, “You two really are rubbish thieves…” then moves on.


       Further down the path, she finds a gap in the walkway and a raised drawbridge. The drop isn’t too far, but she can hear something moving in the dark. There is a light however, so there may be a way around. She draws her blades and drops down as silently as she can. She finds a larger Skeever waiting for her. She puts the critter down quickly then heads for the light. She finds a gate and a staircase leading up. The lock on the gate is challenging and she breaks a few picks trying to get it open. After the third pick snaps Lucina backs up and her right eye twitches in frustration. A flame forms around her balled up fist as she whispers, “You are going to open to me or I will melt you down for slag…” She kneels back down for a fourth attempt and finds success, “There, was that so hard?”


       She looks up the stairs and sees a man’s shadow pass above. She crawls up the staircase until she can see the next obstacle in her path. Another brutish looking Nord. He is glaring at a book attempting to read. From his expression, it’s clear he’s having trouble. Lucina notices a small sign reading “The Ragged Flagon” below it, a note pinned to the mortar between the stones of the wall by a dagger reading “Only real gold, no trades”. Nords are not known for their anger management skills. The brute picks up the book and throws it at a far wall. With his back turned, Lucina scurries through to the flagon.


       The smell does not improve much inside the Ragged Flagon. The place is built out of a sewer cistern. A pool of sewage is in the center surrounded by stone walkways and platforms. She sees Brynjolf already talking to a group of people at the bar at the back of the chamber. From the banter, it seems things are worse than Brynjolf let on. Lucina sits at one of the tables and looks around hoping there is more to the Thieves Guild of Skyrim than a run down bar and a few sods drinking their days away. Brynjolf notices Lucina and walks over, “Well well, color me impressed, lass. I didn’t think I’d see you again.” Lucina looks up at him, “That’s what impressed you? Getting here was easy.” Brynjolf folds his arms, “Reliable AND head strong? You’re turning into quite the prize… Now that I’ve whetted your appetite with our little scheme in the markets, How about you handle a few deadbeats for me?” Lucina sits up, “Deadbeats, eh? What’d they do?” Brynjolf scowls, “They owe us some serious coin. I want you to go and convince them of the error of their ways.” She stands up from her chair, “Sounds good. Who are they?” He responds with a list of people. “Keerava, Bersi Honey-Hand, and Helga. Do this right and I can promise you a permanent place in our organization.” Again Lucina looks around uttelry unimpressed with what she has seen as yet, but she has come this far. She adjusts the daggers on her belt, “So, how do you want this handled?” Brynjolf replies, “Honestly, the debt is secondary here. You need to get the message across that we AREN’T to be ignored.” She looks at him, “I assume I’ll be getting a cut here…” Brynjolf holds up a hand, “Of course you’ll get a cut. We take care of our own. Now, if you need some details on your marks, ask. Otherwise, get going.”


       After getting some additional information on the targets, Lucina visits all three targets and has little trouble getting the job done. As she walks out of Helga’s Work House, Lucina looks at the gold she has collected and thinks about keeping the gold and giving up on this ‘“guild” and going off to another hold, but other holds won’t have what she came for. “...Balls…” she says to herself and heads back down to the Ragged Flagon. She finds Brynjolf sitting at a table and she drops the three purses in front of him. He looks up, “Well now… jobs done and you even brought back the gold… And you did it clean. Dropping bodies can get expensive. Now, it seems I owe you something in return.” He hands her several expensive looking potions and several lockpicks. Lucina looks them over, “So? What’s next?” Having proven herself, Brynjolf welcomes Lucina into the Guild and leads her to a hidden passage in the back of the Flagon.


       Following Brynjolf through a series of tunnels, they come out in a large chamber with a vaulted ceiling. Several other thieves wander about. She can feel them all eyeing her. Sizing her up. She’s introduced to the guild master, Mercer Frey. A fellow Imperial, but there is no kinship to be had. Lucina finds the man to be obnoxious, but conceals her distaste for him. Calling the man a self righteous, entitled, asshat on their first meeting would be a distinctly bad idea. After an ingracious introduction, Mercer says, “I think it’s time we put your skills to the test.” Brynjolf buts in, “Wait a moment. You’re not talking about Golden Glow are ya? Even our little Vex couldn’t get in.” Mercer looks at Brynjolf, clearly annoyed, “You claim she possesses an aptitude for our line of work. If so, let her prove it. Golden Glow Estate is critical to one of our largest Clients. However, the owner has suddenly decided to cut us out. He needs to be taught a lesson. Brynjolf will tell you the rest.” Mercer turns and Brynjolf says, “Mercer, aren’t you forgetting something?” Mercer pauses, “Hmm? Oh...yes. Since Brynjolf assures me you’ll be nothing but a benefit to us, you’re in…. Welcome to the Thieves Guild”


       Lucina and Brynjolf walk over to a table, where he explains the job. “Golden Glow Estate is a bee farm. They raise the wretched little things for honey. The place is run by a snotty little Wood Elf named Aringoth. We need you to teach him a lesson by burning down three of the hives and clearing out the safe in the main house.” Lucina can tell he’s holding back, “Alright… What’s the catch?” Brynjolf leans back against the table and looks across the cistern, “The catch is, you can’t burn the whole place to the ground. That important client Merer mentioned would be furious if ya did.” Lucina pulls out one of her daggers, “Alright… What about this Aringoth?” Then Brynjolf lets it slip, “Maven prefers Aringoth stays alive, but if he gets in your way… kill him.” Lucina has heard the name Maven before. She owns the meadery and is the current ruling Jarl of the Rift. She lets it go for the time being, “So where can I get details about the Estate?” He directs her to Vex and Delvin back in the Flagon then wishes her luck.


       As Brynjolf walks away, Lucina looks around. She is still not impressed, but there is at least some organization here. A potential for improvement. She stares at Mercer and knows the sickness of the Guild is the same that affects so many run down organizations… Poor management. She puts her dagger away and thinks, “Nothing to be done about it now. This Guild may be the only way I can find what I came to this province for…” After retrieving some brown leather armor, that she can tell is enchanted with powers to aid a thief, from the local Fence, she walks around and introduces herself to the other members of the guild. Amiable enough, but morale is down. Old Delvin even thinks the Guild is cursed. She takes her leave through the Guild’s hidden back passage. She comes out in a tomb in Riftens Graveyard. A bit morbid, but no one is going to go poking around a grave.


       Lucina arrives back in the Bee and Barb. The waiter gives Lucina a cross look as she walks by for extorting his beloved Keerava earlier in the day, but says nothing. Lucina enters her room and again bars the door before allowing a moment of levity. Once suitably closed off, she checks her stash and finds everything in its place. After replacing the floor board, she takes the bundle of old parchments out of the nightstand and flips through them…


    7th of Evening Star, 4E 173


       My worst nightmare came to be yesterday. One of the guild’s old fences showed up. Hadn’t seen him in over a year. He just said he had been laying low. With all the pressure from the College of Whispers and the Legion, many of our contacts have gone into hiding. He said he had information about how the College has been tracking Guild members. Something he called a “seeing orb” in a guard’s barracks in the Elven Gardens district. We have heard from the beggars that mages had been entering that barracks for a while now with no explanation as to why. “Grab that orb and the college is blind. And we can get back to business.” He said. His source was said to be a drunken legionnaire he met in a tavern in Anvil. There was only one way to know for sure if what he said was true...


       As the best infiltrator in the guild, I was chosen to make for this orb while others created a distraction. Everything was going smoothly. The boys set off a few small fire bombs in an alley drawing the guards away and I snuck into the barracks and up through the guard tower. Getting past the sleeping night’s watch was the most I had to worry about. When I reached the captain’s quarters, I found an orb floating over a table.


       I hadn’t made a single sound since entering the barracks, but when I touched the orb it shattered in a blazing light and released a thunderous roar. My ears were ringing, but I could hear the guards moving below. I struggled to get my balance and dropped a dresser on the hatch between the Captain’s room and the guard’s barracks below. I heard guards banging against it, as I attached a hook and rope to the captain's bed and climbed out the window. I almost made it to the sewers before a guard leaned out of the Captain’s window and shouted at me drawing the attention of the guards on the ground and they….


    [a portion of the passage is too smudged to read]


       …..was chased over half the damned city before I lost them in the market district. I hid in an alley and waited for the guards to rush by. Once they were gone I leaned against the wall and pulled my hood back to let myself breathe. Then I heard her say, “Roderic?” My body went completely stiff. I couldn’t breathe. I closed my eyes, “no no no… Not her. Anyone but her.” I turned and looked. It was Rena. Standing there in my Guild armor, there was no way to deny the truth of what she saw. Fool that I am, I tried anyway. But when I approached, she pushed me away. Told me if I touched her again she would scream for the guards… and I believed her. I’d never seen her so angry.


       Hearing another patrol stomping through the markets, I pulled up my hood and backed away slowly to a sewer grate. I pulled the grate up and when I looked back, Rena was gone. No use talking to her now with the state she’s in. Or so I told myself. I escaped the city through the sewer tunnels and made my way to a safe house in Cheydinhal. Only Dyrus made it to the safe house. The other four were captured or killed. The whole thing was a setup. We found out a few days later that the fence wasn’t laying low. He had been captured by the College. He set us up to save his own hide.


       Things are still too hot in the Imperial city for me to get home to try and salvage what’s left of my marriage. The way Rena looked at me… I have to get home… Soon.

       Lucina folds up the parchment and puts it back in it’s order in the bundle. She holds it tight to her breast and rolls over in her bed and blows out the candle on the nightstand.



    The story so far:



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