Uzgash and Meija

That reminded Uzgash why she'd come here. The Orc adventurers that Gortwog had scouring Tamriel for treasure had reported finding less magical items recently. Someone else was apparently doing the same thing, and they weren't interested in the gold, or unenchanted items. Only the magical was disappearing.

They had their suspicions that the searchers were Altmer, as they'd found a few victims of the Ayleid traps, and Altmer seemed to be over-represented among them. Those that had fallen on their way out of the ruins had enchanted loot on their corpses, but little gold or other items.

One piece that Gortwog was sure they'd want was the Helm of Tiber Septim. He'd heard that the armor had been recovered from Sancre Tor, but no mention had been made of the Helm. That was supposed to have multiple enchantments, and would be a prime target for these Altmer dungeon-divers. If his own people couldn't retrieve it, Gortwog would prefer that it be reunited with the rest of Tiber's equipment, rather than fall into the wrong hands.

The reporter took note of the distrust of the Altmer here. He'd heard stories of plots and scisms among the people of the Summerset Isles, and this fit in with those all too well. Gortwog would naturally want to be seen as an ally, so facts would need to be checked, and the first would be the Helm. If it still remained at Sancre Tor, that lent credence to the whole story Uzgash had outlined.

He also got the impression that the alliance between Orsinium and Wayrest was strained, and Gortwog was looking for support elsewhere. The recent fiasco with the Ambassador's "wife" would not have helped

When he walked into the tavern with his arm around Uzgash the look of relief on Kintyra's face told him the whole story. He wished her every happiness with Jokull, and asked if the room was available. "There's only a single bed," she reminded him. She didn't charge him for the room, but she did let him pay for dinner. "I'll bring it over when it's ready," she told them.

Uzgash and the reporter found a bench in the corner. She leaned up against him and he put his arm around her shoulders. If anyone looked in their direction he squeezed her affectionately. When their food arrived they made a point of feeding each other, like the pair of lovebirds they wanted everyone to see. When Meija came in to eat, they beckoned her over to join them.

She sat down rather reluctantly on the seat opposite. Uzgash told her that she'd be leaving tomorrow, and she wanted her to take care of her partner while she was gone. Meija's expression was one of mixed shock and joy. "But you're an Orc." was all she could spit out.

"Yes, and now I'm a Bear Rider too. It wouldn't be honorable to make promises to him that I can't keep, so I don't expect any from him. All I can do is leave him with someone like me, so he'll still have the same tastes when I return." Uzgash was a genius, he thought. That was the perfect hook for this fish.

They'd concocted a story about how they met in Hammerfell, carefully contrived to be after his last visit here, but giving each enough time for their trip home. It established the idea that they'd have little opportunity to see each other, so they'd make the most of the time they had together, and that this was the convenient mid-point where they'd do so. Meija seemed to be buying it.

He'd arranged a day trip further into Skyrim that would have him return here tomorrow night, which would be his chance to work further on Meija. Then he'd be going back to Cyrodiil.

They bought her a drink when they left the bar to go their room, so she'd still be in there to listen to their performance. Kintyra would be behind the bar, and a few others could be expected to drop in during the evening.

He didn't have any potions with him but Uzgash wasn't as wild as he'd feared. That's not to say she was meek and mild either, and he didn't benefit from Sugar's training. She didn't seem to be faking her enjoyment either. He wondered if she could do it quietly when she wanted to, or if this was all spontaneous and involuntary. He was at liberty to express himself, too, of course, and that all added to the fun.

"Why did I tell Meija I'd be gone tomorrow?" She asked him afterward. "I want to do that again."

He told her he'd need weeks to recover before he could manage it, and she laughed. "Me too, but I can't tell you that. I have my Orcish reputation to think of."

He helped reinforce that the following day when he bought a few restoring potions from Dro'bari. Ashara, Dro'Bari's wife, was the source of most of the town gossip, and this would be common knowledge in a couple of hours at the most. He hoped Meija would understand the significance.

He headed north out of town and found the wayshrine he was looking for. It was both his excuse for remaining in Skyrim, and an aid in what he had to do next, which was planting the story with Meija. Dibella's Kiss to boost his persuasion skills, a charm spell when she was distracted, that should do it.

The only problem was that they'd been too successful last night. Meija was reluctant to use the room at the tavern, as she didn't want the whole town to hear her. The charm spell got her past that, but now he didn't have it for later, and he needed her to do that one thing, so he could associate it with Uzgash.

He need not have worried. She was on her knees as soon as he closed the door to the room, possibly because the charm spell hadn't completely worn off.. He told her she was even better at it than Uzgash, which wasn't a lie, after all. He hoped she was paying enough attention to what he said, and not just what she was doing. Her reaction was a great relief. "You let her do this? Brave man!"

From there on, he just let her take him wherever she wanted. She wasn't as strong as Uzgash, but she was just as supple and athletic, and had a good repertoir to try and impress him. He somehow managed to find the energy to keep her happy too.

He left early the following morning, so that he'd meet Unna as she left the cave, and wouldn't have to spend the night there. He knew she'd be disappointed, and he knew what he'd be missing, but he needed some rest. She was thinking more clearly than he was. "A day's walk to Bruma is going to be restful?" she asked. "Go rest in the cave for the day, we'll go back to the Lodge tomorrow."

"I need to make my patrol to Lipsand Tarn, but I'll be back late tonight, and we'll see how you feel then." she argued. He was too tired to reply, so he just did as she suggested.

She returned to find him weak and incoherent, in the grips of a fever. That's why he'd been feeling tired earlier, it was just the early symptoms of something he'd caught. She searched in all the barrels and crates around the cave, hoping to find some Mandrake Root, but there wasn't any. She'd given the last one she carried to Thor, her bear, after they'd fought that Necromancer.

He'd summoned a headless zombie, and it had given Thor the Collywobbles, even though it didn't put up much of a fight. She didn't know that at the time, the bear didn't show any sign of being sick until today. He'd sneezed a couple of times, and that's what drew her attention. Had he sneezed on the reporter, and passed it on to him?

She had to do something, but the nearest chapel was over the border in Falkreath, and she wasn't supposed to go there. Well, she could ask the guard at the border crossing for help, and see what he said.

She helped the reporter to his feet, made sure he was wearing his ring to keep out the chill, and half-dragged, half-carried him along the trail. The guard saw them coming and ran over to help. He put the reporter's other arm around his shoulder, and the two of them carried him to the chapel.

Martine Petit, the priestess, was up on the top of the tower when they entered. She heard the door open and close and came down to assist. The guard smiled as he watched her descend the ladder. She didn't always have underwear beneath her robe.

They took the reporter over to the altar and called the blessing of Arkay to heal him. The reporter sat on a pew, and gratefully waited while his strength, endurance and speed slowly returned. Unna asked if she could buy some Mandrake root in town. She wanted to keep a stock in Sky's Edge Cave in case this sort of thing happened again.

The guard didn't know about the cave. He'd not been over the border at all. He wasn't allowed to do that. Unna admitted that she shouldn't be here either, but you did what you had to when someone needed help. She described the location to him, and told him about the traders using it.

He'd seen Jokull going in that direction, and had accompanied him as far as the border a few times, But he'd stopped at the border hut, and Jokull had continued without him. "Pity you weren't with Jokull when that Ogre stole his amulet," said Unna, and recounted the tale Claudia had told her.

"It would be better if that route got a patrol," he agreed. "But it's on both sides of the border, so I can't do it, and I assume you can't either."

Martine suggested that they go talk to the Jarl about it. Maybe they could work out an agreement for a joint patrol. The guard's eyes lit up at that idea. It was obvious that the idea of a joint patrol with Unna was very appealling.

The reporter was feeling much better by this time, and he told Unna and the guard to go find the Mandrake root, and he'd talk to the Jarl. Diplomacy was his trade, and if the Jarl saw Unna, he'd know what the guard's true motivation was.

It didn't take much persuasion. Jarl Ulfric saw the benefits, especially if it also helped keep the Ogres away from the town. He'd authorize the Riders to come as far as Falkreath, if his men could use the trail to Sky's Edge Cave in return.

He met Unna again in the middle of town. Dro'Bari did have some Mandrake, and she'd bought his whole stock. Then she'd gone to meet the other guards at their barracks. "Did you talk with the Jarl already?" she asked.

As they walked back to the cave he told her what the Jarl had agreed to. He needed to get it ratified by the Elder Council, but he didn't see there being a problem. Gudrun probably had enough authority to permit her crossing into Skyrim, but they'd better make sure it was allowed for the Falkreath guard to cross the other way.

Unna had told the guards about her colleagues. They already knew about Bear Riders, with Meija in town. They appreciated the show of skin, but Meija was off-limits to them. She was a resident of the town, and they weren't supposed to have any conflicts of interest in dealing with the citizens. Unna, Pala, Svana, Claudia and Ystrel weren't citizens, so this had a lot of potential.

They didn't have to worry about making Sky's Edge Cave more comfortable, there was a private room at the barracks where a guest could spend the night. The cave would be too chilly for Imperials anyway, especially without any enchanted rings to help them.

Unna was working it all out. The rotation Gudrun had aready approved for the run to the cave would still work. The extra distance to Falkreath being so short, they wouldn't have to make any adjustments. There were five of them, and only three guards, so they wouldn't find themselves always with the same partner.

"So no favorites?" he asked, as they entered Sky's Edge Cave again.

"Only you," she replied.

"And why me?"

"Because you're here, now," was her reasonable response.