The young reporter from the Black Horse Courier was still at Gweden helping to test the slippery stuff. When the first edition of his report arrived, he missed the Champion reading it. He was sharing the bathtub with Darwen at the time.

Tsarrina told him that the Champion had asked her about the article, just before someone delivered a letter from Ocato. He'd looked a little annoyed about having another Courier edition mentioning him, but Tsarrina had done her best to make sure it was all about Gweden, so he couldn't be too mad about it. And the letter distracted his attention even more.

All Tsarrina could tell him about the letter was that the Champion had been asked to expand into the Imperial City, and take over a men's club there. He'd left immediately to go and talk to the High Chancellor.

She was sure he'd tell her more once the deal was sealed, and her role, if any, became clearer. She hoped she wouldn't have to run both places, this one was quite enough work for her.

She did have a name for the place - the Red Dragon Club - so he decided to track it down when they finally recalled him to the office. He thought he had a little time left, as they hadn't published his report on potion #9 yet, and he was still writing the one about the slippery stuff. He'd had to re-write that a few times already, as it was hard to describe the possibilities in a way that wouldn't cause outrage in some parts of society. That might also be holding up the printing of his previous report, come to think of it.

When the inevitable recall finally came, he asked around the Market District if anyone had heard of the Red Dragon Club. Only the men told him anything, and they just knew it was somewhere in the Talos Plaza District, but it was closed now. Count Goldwine of Kvatch had run it, and he'd died in the siege.

He had to go looking for it on his own time, as this wasn't an official assignment. Fortunately Urjabhi thought he was looking tired, and gave him the weekend off. If Urjabhi had only known why, he might not have been so lucky.

Even with clues given to him by the people who lived in the Talos Plaza District, it wasn't easy to find the right alley that lead to the door to the club. You couldn't see the red light outside from the street, and the alley itself looked like all the others. He realized that it must be right behind the Tiber Septim Hotel, although the two were probably not connected in any way. And if it had been closed, it wasn't now.

The door opened onto a flight of stairs that wound down to a corridor in the basement. In one direction was a closed door, and in the other he could hear the sounds of a lively bar. But between him and the bar was a large Orc who wanted to know who he was.

Showing his press card was not the right thing to do, and he was on the brink of being forcibly ejected when an Altmer with the longest legs he'd ever seen intervened. Her name was Taminwe, and she was obviously in some position of authority here, as the Orc put him down. She asked if he was the reporter who'd written the Gweden dispatch.

He decided to admit that, which was apparently a better decision than his earlier one. She then asked about all the other details that hadn't made it into print. What did he know about the women at Gweden?

She led him away from the bar, through the closed door. He saw now that it led to the bedrooms, and she took him to one of them, instructing the Orc to have some wine sent from the bar.

It was quickly apparent to him that he had a lot to learn about getting information from others. He was answering far more of her questions than she was of his. And he felt lost without a notebook while she was completely confident in her memory.

But he had to admit that it was anything but an unpleasant experience. The wine, when it arrived, was Tamika's. They clearly had good taste in common. He remarked on that, and how Tsarrina at Gweden kept it on hand. "A couple of glasses will loosen lips" said Taminwe, "and a few more will loosen other things. But we really don't need to drink that much, do we?" She kissed him briefly. "I want you to show me your prostitute-interviewing technique, and if I'm not mistaken, you'd like that too."

He didn't feel quite so over-matched in the next part, but she was definitely impressive, and continued to catch him off-guard with questions when he wasn't even expecting her to talk.. But he was learning fast, and got more from her than he had earlier. He found out that there was more to the Club than met the eye. Yes, it was the brothel he'd expected, but it was something more.

Taminwe seemed to be on the brink of revealing what it was, but he couldn't talk, let alone ask questions, in that position. Her reactions gave him hope that she would later, as she did seem to like what he was doing.

Later she told him that she was quite impressed by his performance. No, not just the sex, but the way he'd only told her things she should know anyway, or could get from other sources. He'd revealed little about himself, other than his tastes in wine and women. "Both excellent, but then I'm biased, aren't I?." So she'd decided that he could be trusted with some additional information. He'd have to agree to her conditions before she'd reveal what that was.

He felt that he trusted her, even though there was a nagging doubt that he was being manipulated by a better operator than himself. He agreed to consider her terms.

"We'll need you to become part of our organisation, before you get the whole story," she told him. "As you probably guessed by now, I'm not just one of the whores in a city brothel, and this isn't just a brothel. And you aren't going to be just a reporter any more. You already work for the High Chancellor on the Courier. Now you'll have other duties in his employ."

"The main one will be information-gathering, just like you do now. You'll need to decide whether that information is for public consumption or not. Judging by the way you worded that article about Gweden, I think you understand that well. But instead of just keeping the unpublishable parts to yourself, you'll pass everything back to us for analysis. In return, you'll get leads that aren't available to others."

"From time to time, we'll also need someone who can persuade a woman to provide more information than she's comfortable with, or even take actions that she otherwise wouldn't. I believe you can be particularly useful there. Even for an Imperial, I haven't seen that kind of natural talent often."

She'd already told him enough to fill in the gaps. They wanted him to join their den of spies, for which the brothel was just a cover. He agreed and she told him more.

He'd need to become a regular customer at the Red Dragon Club, coming in whether he had information to report or not. She herself, or one of the other designated women she'd introduce him to right after this, would take him to one of the bedrooms and "swap notes" with him. If he had nothing for them, then any of the other staff would just serve their client as usual. Shurgak, the bouncer, had special greetings to let him know when there was something they needed to tell him, and then he'd select the appropriate woman for his session.

The Courier would get instructions from Ocato through their own channels to send him where he was needed. He'd have to provide news for the Courier as well as whatever other information was sought, but that would not often be a problem. The Khajiit brothers could be trusted to filter his reports correctly and pass anything on that they thought of higher interest, but his was the first cut.

They would not know that he was working directly for the High Chancellor, so leaving a liitle in his reports that was too hot to print would not be a bad thing.

He wondered aloud if potion #9 had become a state secret, as he hadn't seen anything in the Courier yet, and it now seemed certain that Ocato knew about it. Taminwe had to laugh at that idea. Her theory was that Ocato wanted to leave that decision to the Champion of Cyrodiil. After all, he had to run this place as a viable brothel, and not send all its trade to Gweden, or else there would be no cover for them. She suspected that he was negotiating with Tsarrina on the equitable merger of the businesses right now. Once Tsarrina felt that the Red Dragon Club was part of her domain, she wouldn't mind having #9 here, too. And then it could be announced to the world.

"You don't seem to need it," Taminwe remarked, looking down.

"With you, of course not." was his chivalrous reply.

Taminwe thought about that remark for a few moments before slipping on a black robe and cracking open the door to the corridor. He heard her call to another woman who answered and came over to speak to her, Then she closed the door and took the robe back off. Shortly there was a patterned knock on the door and Taminwe let in the others.

"I was just thinking of the short introductions right now," Taminwe told him, "but since you appear to be ready for the full ones, why don't we get started?" She beckoned to the blonde Imperial."Miranda, you go first."

He was fortunate that Miranda had to be back on duty in the bar very shortly, so she "passed the baton" to Tilasa before he was completely exhausted. The young Dunmer was not in any hurry, did not have any of the bizarre tastes of the Hlaalu cousins, and slowed to his pace contentedly.

Taminwe put her robe back on and slipped quietly out of the door. She'd just remembered that Ocato was due here for a briefing in less than an hour. She needed to freshen up.

After Ocato left, she went looking for Tilasa, but didn't find her. The door to the room where she'd left the reporter was still closed, so she assumed he was in there asleep. Perhaps Tilasa was too.

When the two of them finally emerged, if was Tilasa who looked tired. She reported to Taminwe that he didn't talk in his sleep, and was clearly more of a morning person than she. That made Taminwe and the reporter laugh, as it was quite late in the evening, but they knew what she meant. Since Tilasa had the night shift in the bar, her idea of time was the opposite of everyone else's.