The reporter asked if all this meant he was going to Chorrol next. No, just that when he did have reason to go there, he'd know what to watch and listen out for. There were more urgent issues that might need his attention right now. One was the rumor of a plot to assassinate the Mane. He hadn't heard anything about that in Leyawiin, had he?

Since he hadn't, they'd have him ask around in Bravil. The Champion was already on his way to Skingrad to investigate there. Little was known at this stage. It was assumed that the conspiracy originated outside Elsweyr, as the Mane was almost universally respected as a uniting influence by the Khajiit themselves. While they still had differences between their tribes that caused periodic friction, none of them blamed any of that on the Mane. Rather, it was his mediation that kept it down.

However, any outsiders with designs on Elsweyr's territory would love to see civil war break out there, and the removal of the Mane could let that happen. Valenwood was the first "usual suspect" but they wouldn't act from there, or the war might not become a civil one if direct Bosmer involvement was found out. It could also be part of a more elaborate plot to start another war between Valenwood and Elsweyr, but that scenario was less likely to target the Mane in particular.

Taminwe herself couldn't take any part in the investigation, because she'd be busy with the representative from Shornhelm - the kingdom that Andorak Septim had been granted when he renounced his claim to the throne held by Cephorus II. The royal family there were distant cousins, but the Septim line had all but disappeared. The more remote fragments warranted some time, especially if the ambassador was worth her attention. He was here as a result of the Elder Council's formal request; Ocato was hoping she could make him a useful source of future information from High Rock. That province had been peaceful since the "Warp in the West", but no-one really knew if that could last.

That was a lengthy briefing, and he began to wonder if Taminwe really needed to tell him that much, or was just prolonging their cover activity. Not that he minded.

Bravil turned out to be an exercise in futility. The talk down there was all about the Archery Tournament, either the results of the last one, or else speculation about the next. There was a sprinkling of scandal at the extent of the skooma trade, which wasn't surprising with a den in the city itself, and the Count's son an addict. None of that was anything new, and the Mane didn't get a mention. There weren't any strangers in town, and all citizens were present and accounted for.

He returned to the Club to report that nothing, and was intrigued when Shurgak steered him to a new member of the staff. "Give her a try," he said, "I think you'll like this one."

Enilwen took him down the hallway and into the last room. She was a Bosmer, but fuller in the chest than most. Not to the point of making Nords jealous, but she wouldn't get overlooked among the others here. The rest of her was just as slender as you'd expect, which made them more noticable, especially in the Red Dragon Club uniform.

She explained that she'd just joined the staff and Taminwe had wanted her to introduce herself as one of his briefing crew, by giving him the details of the Mane plot. That had all gone down in Skingrad while he was covering Bravil.

It turned out that she also had a wicked sense of humour. When she had him in a particularly vulnerable situation, she told him that she was the one who had been recruited as the assassin!

They'd wanted an archer for the job, and naturally most of the best candidates were Bosmers. It would also be preferable if he or she were skilled enough in Alchemy to make poisons powerful enough for a single hit to be lethal. If necessary, the assassin could carry those in ready-made, but that was a risk they'd prefer not to take.

The problem with killing the Mane was that the thick covering of other Khajiit's hair that he wore was as effective as the best armor against any attack. It would stop any arrow, absorb any spell, and cushion any blow from a sword, mace or axe. But he had to breathe and eat, so his face was uncovered. A skilled enough archer could deliver a poisoned arrow that would do the job. One arrow only, as his guards would never allow a follow-up.

And the assassin would then have the problem of escaping. Invisibility gets the archer into position for the shot, but it dissipates immediately when the arrow is released. Only Chameleon would continue to protect the archer, and so she'd been working on that. She could cast the standard spell, and she'd found a leather cuirass enchanted at the same level. Not quite enough, but adding a ring or amulet would make all the difference.

Her contact, a Khajiit who refused to give his name, told her he'd try to get one for her. His master had a large network of agents he could call on. Again, she had no name for the master, but she knew he was male, and things the Khajiit said about him made her think he was of a different race.. She was curious, and pressed for more information, even sleeping with him in case that would loosen his tongue. It had helped, but not as much as she'd hoped.

He'd told her some of the things his master said. He obviously considered all Khajiiti to be inferiors, but there wasn't any suggestion that he was a Dunmer that wanted them back in slavery. The way the Khajiit refered to her made it obvious that she and the master were not the same race. He'd told the Khajiit at one point that he had more intelligence in the "tips of his ears" than her contact had in his head. That ruled out all the races of men, as well as the Argonians, and Orcs just wouldn't use that kind of language, because they didn't prize intelligence. So he must be an Altmer.

But back to the Chameleon. While the Khajiit, who she just called "Messenger", was off trying to get hold of her ring or amulet, she had a visit from the Champion of Cyrodiil. He'd found her practicing her archery out by the castle wall. She was shooting at long range, which was best done outside the city. He'd asked her if she'd ever used a Detect Life spell. She hadn't, as a good huntress doesn't need it. There are enough indications of prey or predator if you knew how to look and listen. She'd also heard that it made everything look fuzzy and unclear, not what an archer wanted.

He'd given her a scroll, and had her try it out. That's when she saw the flaw in her Chameleon strategy. The spell would not only make her visible, but they'd be able to see her lack of a tail, so she couldn't just merge into the crowd to escape. She didn't like the idea of being set up for a suicide mission, so she agreed to help the Champion instead.

They went back to the Two Sisters' Lodge in town, to wait for Messenger. He normally found her there when she ate her evening meal, so it was the logical place to start. He was already in there, and he had a ring for her.

She left the tavern following the Khajiit out to the sheep pasture beyond the vineyard. He wanted her to test out the new ring in combination with her cuirass and spell. If he judged it strong enough, she'd get her next round of instructions. The Champion followed at a distance, keeping her just barely in sight.

But the cat had keen eyesight, and spotted him. He attacked the Champion, expecting her to help. When she didn't, he commited suicide with a ring that set him on fire. They got no useful information from his corpse, either.

The Champion had quizzed her about how she was selected, and why she agreed to be the assassin. Messenger had seen her at archery practice shortly after she came into town and asked her if she wanted a well-paying job. He'd suggest that she join the Fighter's guild and get some training to further polish her skill - at his expense. Parwen has a good reputation as a trainer, although it's said she's not got the eyes to be a great marksman herself. "And it's true, she noticed little flaws in my technique right away." With the Khajiit, or rather his Altmer master paying, she took all the lessons she could.

It was quite a bit later that she found out what her target would be. As a Bosmer she didn't have any concern for the affairs of Elsweyr, unless it threatened Valenwood or the Empire. Messenger had implied that the Mane was a threat, but she was no longer sure who he meant was endangered. Probably just his master's interests.

Anyway, it appeared that the way she answered the Champion's questions, and her identification of the master's Altmer race, made him think she'd fit in here. He sent her up to the city to Taminwe, who had Ocato interview her for the job. She apparently made a good impression, enough for Taminwe to worry that she might not be Ocato's favorite any more!

Taminwe had told her that it was likely that there would eventually be an attempt on the Mane's life, but it would be harder for them to recruit another assassin once the Courier had published an appropriate report. It had to be made obvious that it would always be a suicide mission, and the brothers, all loyal Khajiits themselves, were composing an edition now. They could make it ring true for their own kind far better than any Imperial.

So the reporter had no immediate duties, apart from keeping Enilwen happy for a while longer, and getting to know her better.