|Posted on June 19, 2014 at 11:30 PM|
The silt strider to Balmora finally arrived, and I paid twenty gold pieces to the caravaner. The journey took an hour, and by the time I arrived it was already twilight.
"Do you know where the South Wall Cornerclub is?" I asked Balmora's caravaner. His eyes twinkled.
"I wouldn't know, sera," he said. "I'd try asking around town."
I eventually found the South Wall Cornerclub. The inside of it smelt like burnt sugar and something else...something I couldn't quite identify. I had smelt it before, I just didn't know where.
A man approached me several minutes after I entered, holding out a hand and giving me a huge grin.
"Welcome to the South Wall Cornerclub, if I can be of any assistance -"
"I'm looking for Caius Cosades," I said quickly, not wanting to remain any longer than I had to in this place. The strong smell of burnt sugar was starting to make me want to choke.
"He lives in a little bed-and-basket just up the hill on the north edge of town," he said, sounding a bit disappointed. "Go out the front door then right up the stairs, then left at the top of the stairs and down to the end of the street."
"Thank you," I said, then followed the man's directions and knocked on the front door of what I assumed was Caius's house.
A tall Imperial man answered the door. He wasn't terribly old, but his hair was grey and balding. He was also shirtless.
"Are you Caius Cosades?" I asked.
"Yes," he answered, raising his eyebrows. "Is there something you want?"
"I'm Ulina Therayn. I was told to report to you," I replied.
Caius gestured for me to enter the house and then shut the door behind him.
"What on Nirn are you talking about? Report to me?"
I coughed. I smelt it again. The smell of burnt sugar, only a bit fainter than it was in the Cornerclub.
"I have a package for you," I said. I gave him the brown package and he tore it open at once, before reading it's contents with interest. Then, Caius turned to me with a grim nod.
"So, your name is Ulina Therayn, and it says here the Emperor wants me to make you a Novice in the Blades. And that means you'll be following my orders."
I gulped. "But what if I don't want to?"
Caius shook his head. "You refuse, you can walk out now and they'll be a bounty on your head for treason within the hour, and you'll never see the light of day again. However, if you do as the Emperor says, then you'll be a free woman.
"Are you ready to join the Blades and follow my orders, as the Emperor commands?" Caius asked.
"I don't think I have a choice," I said grimly.
Caius narrowed his eyes. "There's always a choice, Therayn."
"So what are your orders?"
Caius gave me a glance and then shook his head. "First thing, pilgrim. You're new. And you look it."
I'd probably always look new around here. It just showed.
"And what do you suggest I do about that?" I demanded.
Caius rolled his eyes, muttered something about me being insubordinate, then handed me a coin purse. "Here's 200 drakes. Go get yourself a decent weapon. Or armor. Or a spell."
I nodded. That would be easy enough to do in this city.
"You said there was a second thing," I reminded him
"Yes, second thing…" Caius began. "You need a cover identity."
I raised my eyebrows. "I wouldn't know the first thing about what to -"
"Around here, 'freelance adventurer' is a common profession," said Caius. "Sign on with the Fighters Guild, or Mages Guild, or Imperial cult, or Imperial legion, advance in the ranks, gain skill and experience. Or go out on your own, look for freelance work, or trouble. Then, in about a month or two, come back and I'll have some work for you."
The next day, I went shopping in Balmora and visited the outfitters. Clagius Clanler and his young assistant, Rin sold me a lot of clothing that would be useful in the coming days.
Then, I visited the armourer to buy a decent enough weapon. I knew how to use a sword, but I didn't know much else.
And then I went to the Eight Plates for dinner and a room for the night. The food in Vvardenfell was much different from the food I was generally served back in Cyrodiil. Spicy and made from lots of exotic ingredients like Scrib Jelly.
I also heard a lot of the inhabitants talk about their daily lives and the latest rumors about Vvardenfell and beyond. I also heard something about a missing Ashlander boy - whatever Ashlander meant - and a reward for finding him in Ald-ruhn. There was a lot more about Ald-ruhn, too. The opportunities despite the Blight.
Either way, I decided to pack up and leave for Ald-ruhn the next morning.
Dust blinded my eyes as soon as I arrived in in Ald-ruhn, and I opened my mouth without meaning to, causing me to swallow a great deal of the dust. This caused quite a bit of coughing. When I finally stopped, I made my way to the local inn.
The Ald Skar inn was packed. I let out a sigh of annoyance and made my way upstairs, and ordered a mug of a sweet beverage I had discovered while staying in Balmora called sujamma, careful only to have little sips of it at a time.
"...hey, there's someone who went up to Ghostgate a few days ago. How about two hundred drakes to find him?"
There was a Dunmer man holding out a coin purse at the other end of the room, but most people he proposed the offer to shook their heads in disgust and ignored him. He then turned to me and grinned.
He was fast approaching me and then looked at me.
"Freelance Adventurer, are we?" he asked.
It was on the tip of my tongue to say no, but I remembered what Caius had told me about keeping my cover.
"Yes," I said. "Is there something you need? I'm just relaxing now."
He dropped the gold on the table.
"I don't care if you actually find the Ashlander boy or not, just take the gold so I can tell my daughter someone's looking."
I scowled. "What are you talking about?"
"My daughter...she cares for this boy, although I never actually approved. But she pleaded with to do something when he said he was going to Red Mountain…"
I had no idea what Red Mountain was, but from what the man was saying it sounded dangerous.
I crossed my arms over my chest.
"Fine," I said. "I'll go see what I can do."
That's when I stalled out of the inn, this time fully prepared for the dusty storm outside.
Ghostgate wasn't too far from Ald-ruhn, perhaps half an hours walk. I relaxed when I got nearer, expecting to find someone waiting.
There was someone there, but he wasn't expecting me.
He was too busy fighting three clannfears.