The Helm of Tiber Septim

The reporter arrived back at the Red Dragon Club, and Taminwe was there, waiting to debrief him in her usual way.

Uzgash had told him that the Orc adventurers, that Gortwog had sent out to scour the dungeons of Tamriel for treasure, were sending back less magical items recently. They'd also reported finding dead Altmer in the traps in the ruins, and it looked like someone else had copied Gortwog's idea. It appeared, however, that they were only interested in enchanted items, and were ignoring anything else.

She'd also passed on a rumor that Tiber Septim's Helm had been in Sancre Tor, with the rest of his armor. They'd heard that the Champion had retrieved everything else, but not the Helm. Those Altmer would be especially interested in that, as the legends said it had multiple enchantments. Gortwog didn't trust Altmer, and if his men couldn't find the Helm, he'd prefer that it be reunited with the rest of the armor.

Taminwe decided that she wouldn't just pass that all on to Ocato, but she'd tell the Champion, too. He'd probably be the one who'd go look for it, as he knew the layout of the place, and would have a reasonable idea where he hadn't looked before. If he found the Helm, it would be a good indication that Gortwog was playing things straight with them.

The Altmer, or some of them at least, were up to something. That plot against the Mane, that Enilwen had been caught up in, was another indication that there were problems brewing in the Summerset Isle. Ocato had reminded her that the Altmer are anything but united, and that this was probably a particular faction among them, although it wasn't yet clear which one.

"It could be the same bunch that's stirring up trouble in Valenwood. They haven't taken any direct action yet, but we're keeping an eye on them, just in case. They seem to be trying to act through proxies, rather than expose themselves to any retaliation, so they'll be a hard nut to crack!"

Taminwe wanted to know more about Uzgash herself. They hadn't expected that Gortwog would send his own daughter. That must indicate that he doesn't trust anyone else, which might mean that relationships between High Rock and Orsinium were breaking down. The failure of Queen Elysana's ploy with the Ambassador's "wife" would only have made things worse.

SInce Taminwe was a lot more fun when she was just a bit jealous, he painted a glowing picture of Uzgash for her. Not that he had to embellish it at all, as she'd inherited a lot of admirable qualities from both her parents. He'd experienced a little of her skills at intrigue and diplomacy that she'd got from her father, and quite a bit more of those abilities she got from her mother, and they were germane to their current .. er ... intercourse?

Taminwe was quite aware that he was attempting to manipulate her. She'd been training him to do that, and reaping the benefits of his progress. And awareness didn't confer immunity, so he was getting what he wanted, too.

She found his description of their performance for the listeners in the tavern rather amusing. She'd always prided herself on her ability to stay silent under extreme conditions. The thought of deliberately doing the complete opposite was a great novelty.

She was careful not to tell him that, or he might have considered it a challenge. With the training he'd got from Sugar, and now Uzgash too, she wasn't so confident of having the upper hand.

Now she was more concerned with getting a good profile of Uzgash gra-Margak, as they'd be dealing with her on important matters in future. The fact that she used her real name, and preferred to use selected truth rather than lies, was a good sign. As long as they knew which way her interests lay, they could probably trust any information she provided. She might not tell them all she knew, but if his training paid off, the reporter would get more than she wanted to reveal.

As he'd only spent a day and a night with her, she wasn't expecting a lot of detail, and he'd impressed her considerably with the amount he had discerned in that brief time. Of course, it had been a rather close encounter, aided by Usgash's need to win him over to her side. He was probably exagerating a bit to try and make her react, but it was all based in reality from which she could draw a valid conclusion.

He interrupted her thoughts with the same idea she'd just reached. "Gortwog didn't send Uzgash just because she was the best woman for the job. He has another purpose in mind."

She concurred. Her conclusion was that Gortwog was dispersing his children to make them less vulnerable. Uriel's sons had been slain together in the Palace, and Gortwog would have learned from that. But a solo patrol in the Wrothgarians wasn't any safer for Uzgash, so that wouldn't be the end of the story. Establishing contacts for her in Cyrodiil was part of it, but they'd have to wait and see what developed.

"How many children does Gortwog have?" he asked.

"Officially none. He's still an eligible bachelor, if politics requires an alliance." Taminwe replied. "But we know he has seven with Marghak, four sons and three daughters. Uzgash is the middle one. We have no reason to believe there are any other consorts or offspring, but can't rule it out. That's probably the way he wants it."

"And what do we know of the other six?"

"The eldest son commands an army based as far from Orsinium as you can get, within his province. Another is ambassador to Elsweyr. The others have no specific duties, or locations, and have been reported all over Tamriel. Cyrodiil's representative at Gortwog's court has not seen more than one in the Iron Fortress at any time. That's making more sense now."

Taminwe continued "I'm assuming that Plan A was to have you fall for Uzgash, and become her protector. She does appear to have made a good first impression, doesn't she?"

"But they won't have counted on that, would they?" he responded. "They didn't know who we'd send to Falkreath, and it could just as easily have been a woman. And frankly, I don't consider myself the protector type."

"They knew that we knew why Falkreath was chosen, and that we'd expect a Bear Rider as their contact. That made you, or someone like you, the most likely candidate, and their plans would include that detail. I don't see their Plan B being much different, either. You are willing to work with her again, and both sides know that. It's not you personally that they want as a protector for her, it's the service you work for, all of us. We just wait for their next move, and see what direction it takes."

"And in the meantime, she's on the move, with a bear to look after her."

"Yes, she should be safe enough for now." Taminwe agreed. "But I'd be a lot happier if we knew where the threat was coming from. This Altmer faction appears to prefer acting indirectly, so she's probably in more danger from the Bretons and Redguards. For all we know, the bandits on the roads might be their agents."

"I can't see bandits being any worry to her," the reporter replied. "The Frost Shield on her outfit must make her nearly invulnerable to their weapons. She's got the strength to make good use of her battleaxe, too."

"Still, I don't see Gortwog having her make a predictable patrol for too long. It would keep her out of touch with her intelligence sources for longer that he'd like, as well as making her easy to locate. Expect to see her at Falkreath again, before much time elapses."

That reminded the reporter to mention his negotiations with the Jarl of Falkreath over joint patrols. He'd like Taminwe to bring it up with Ocato, when he next visited.

She chuckled. "I think he'll agree to that without my persuasion. It can only enhance border security, and a local agreement is all it really needs. The prospect of increased trade with a safe route isn't a bad thing, either"

Taking of trade routes reminded her that a ship had arrived in Anvil from the Summerset Isle, the first since the Oblivion crisis had ended. Newheim the Portly, as harbormaster, had to report the comings and goings of all vessels in Anvil. The Black Horse Courier would want a report on events from the Altmer province, and since none of the Imperial agents had returned on the vessel, so would Ocato.