Juliana Galena

Tsarrina decided that it was getting a bit late for more interviews, and the reporter should have a quick tour of the place before he turned in for the night.

First, she took him across the yard to the main Lodge, so he could pick up a snack in the dining room and meet some of the customers. They were all busily engaged chatting with the women, so he just took an apple from the table, and followed Tsarrina into the next room and up the stairs.

The upper floor was one big dormitory, where the women could sleep, eat a quiet meal and generally relax between clients. Each of them had a well-appointed bed, and a chest for her personal possessions. Few of them were locked, and Tsariina showed him a few of the momentos they kept.

Prizna's held a solitary Daedra Heart. Was it Kothet's? Virgilia's held that skimpy armor she'd told hiim about.

Tsarrina's own room was on the same floor, with a double bed in it. But they were just looking right now, and she quickly closed the door, and took him back downstairs. Nobody was using the bed in the main room, but a lot of negotiating was in progress. A Bosmer girl was dancing in one corner, and attracting quite a lot of attention. She might have just taken something off, as there were approving sounds coming from the crowd. He wished he could see better.

They left the women to their haggling and went back over to the farmhouse.

"This is the original building this one bought when she came to Anvil," Tsarrina told him. "At first there was just one level of basement, with three beds. That was quickly filled, even with Maeva sleeping at her own farm, and the boss had a second level dug out beneath it."

They'd gone down to the first level while she was telling him that. It was just a single room with the beds around the walls, and a few tables and chairs around. The beds weren't as plush as the ones in the newer building, but they looked comfortable enough. Each had its private chest, and there was maybe a little more space for each of them over here. Tsarrina told him that many of the women preferred the coziness of the old place, even if the new one was a bit better furnished.

The lower level was just a little larger, with four beds in one room and a big stone bathtub in another. The tub looked large enough for two. There was a chest against the opposite wall to keep clothes dry in case there was any water splashed around. The damp floor suggested that happened a lot. There was a drain in the corner, and several buckets of water, some with steam rising from them. A table held some candles, and some bars of soap, one of which had a rather suggestive shape.

Tsarrina led him back upstairs, where he found a very pretty Breton woman sitting on his bed waiting for him. Tsarrina introduced her as Juliana Galena, and then left them alone together. Juliana wasn't wearing much, just a thin wisp of lace blurring her details, and some ribbon to keep it in place.

"I'm pleased to meet you," she said brightly. Then a huge grin broke out on her face. "And I can see you're pleased to see me."

He tried to explain to her about professional detachment. How he wanted to keep himself out of the story he was writing, and not form any personal opinions.

"Looks to me like it's not working," she giggled, pointing.

Juliana then showed him her idea of detachment, detaching all his clothes, and hers. "It's the same for us," she told him. "Most of the men who come here need to pay for it, because they're not likely to get it for free. We have to put our opinions aside and act like professionals, too."

"So when we get someone like you coming here, it's a welcome change. We can forget the business side, and have fun. Why don't you just do the same?"

He had to agree that she was making a compelling argument. And there was no way he could put this in his article for the courier anyway!

If you want to learn to swim in a hurry, dive in where it's deepest.

He had second thoughts about those words as soon as he wrote them. It was an accurate description of his experiences the previous evening, but perhaps in more ways than he'd intended.

This morning was full of double-entendres . He'd said he felt like a new man. "I want one, too," she'd said before pouncing on him.

He liked Juliana. Apparently it was her special task to start things off with a new customer, or something like that. And he was a customer, even if he wasn't handing over any gold. They were getting repaid with a favorable story in the Black Horse Courier. An honest one, he reminded himself, these girls really were that good, at least Juliana was.

He'd leave last night out of the story, he decided. The girls' own tales were interesting enough and nobody needed to know about him.

But back to Juliana. She was on top of him now, and if she didn't quit doing that, he'd never get any reporting done. He reached over for his notebook, and announced that if she was going to do her work, he'd do his too. She didn't exactly stop, but she slowed down enough that he could write legibly. He crossed out that first line and started again, just writing down what she told him in her story of the Champion of Cyrodiil.

I was working Chorrol at the time, dividing my time between the Grey Mare and the Oak and Crosier. Most nights, if I didn't have a customer, I'd sleep at the Grey Mare.

I'd eat my meals at the other place, just because I like the spicy dishes Talasma serves. They remind me of the food in the south, where my sister and I come from. Luciana didn't get any further North than Bravil, and works in a tavern there, behind the bar. She's probably doing other work, too. A bar's a good place to do business.

One evening, while I'm eating in the Oak and Crosier, Modryn Oreyn comes over to me. I'm a bit surprised, because he's not the type that needs to pay for it. But it's not for himself, it's a new recruit to the Fighter's Guild. Now that makes sense, because I do have a reputation for being good with the first-timers.

This new recruit turns out to be Viranus Donton, the younger son of the Guildmaster, and Oreyn's trying to "make a man of him". He thinks a session with me will make a difference. Well, he was right about that, but it wasn't quite the difference he had in mind.

For a start, Viranus turns up at my room with another young man. He and Edouard are both ambidextrous, or whatever the term is, and I'm getting double-duty tonight. I don't think I showed them anything they hadn't already tried, but I learned a few new tricks from them!

I wasn't complaining. Not only was that more fun than I'd had in months, I got paid triple! Each of them paid me and I got another payment from Oreyn afterwards.

Well, it wasn't all good news. Just after that, I noticed an itchy rash down there. No idea when I picked it up, but there was a good chance Viranus and Edouard had it too. I decided discreet was the watchword, so I didn't take it to the chapel healer. I got a recipe from a book and made up a cure myself.

I wanted to let Viranus have some of the potion, but I couldn't get near him. His mother keeps him in the house most of the time, except when they're both over at the Fighters Guild. I needed someone else to act as a middle-man.

By the time I found someone, the potions had gone off, and I needed to make up another batch. I didn't have any more of the ingredients, either. Dreugh Wax and Ogre's Teeth aren't easy to get, unless you're Fighters Guild, maybe, and I couldn't ask them for obvious reasons. Aloe Vera's plentiful in the South, but there wasn't any left for sale in Chorrol.

Well, you can guess who agreed to help me. We're in his establishment now. He was a Fighters Guild member himself, and had all the access he needed to Viranus. Plus, he was travelling south on a contract, so he could look out for the ingredients. How's that for convenient!

It was a while before he came back with the bad news. He had all the ingredients for me. He'd killed the Ogres and Land Dreugh himself. But there wasn't any point in making up the potion, because he'd found Viranus and Edouard dead in Forsaken Mine.

It wasn't the Itchy Pox that took them, either. They'd been killed by Trolls, or possibly by the Blackwood Company, who'd interfered in their contract. His next job was to find out which it was.

I was devastated. Those two fine young men dead! I couldn't stay in Chorrol now. There was too much there to remind me of those two boys. So at his suggestion, I came down here to Gweden.

I love it here! No itchy pox, and such nice customers! Especially you.

He put his pen down and asked her "Off the record, can you show me some of those new tricks you mentioned earlier?"

"Only if you've got two" she giggled.

He opened a drawer beside the bed and took something from it "We can improvise."