A Shack on the Waterfront

"You haven't been back to your apartment since you 'died', have you?" asked Taminwe.

The reporter acknowleged that he hadn't. He'd wanted to, but it didn't seem like a good idea. He never spent much time there anyway, and he didn't really have anything stored there that he couldn't replace. Some of it he really should replace anyway. He needed a better sword, and his spare armor needed repairs.

Taminwe reminded him that he hadn't paid the rent on it either. They probably had a new tenant already. She told him he needed to get a new place, and she had heard that there was a shack up for sale in the Waterfront district, behind the harbor wall.

"That den of thieves! Why would I want to live there?" he protested.

"Because it's the most heavily patrolled part of the city. Because the crime rate is actually the lowest there - really! I don't know if it's all the extra patrols by the Watch, or if there's just nothing worth stealing, but you hardly ever hear of an actual crime down there. Yes, they find stolen goods from time to time, but they're a lways stolen somewhere else."

He remembered that he'd met quite a few of the people who lived down there already. They'd been at the Bloated Float when he went there with Sugar. He'd liked those people. Methredhel, Adanrel, Carwen, Praxedes - no wait, she lived somewhere else, didn't she? And he wasn't sure if Minx had gone there after she got out of jail. Selene and Ormil, too. That meant that he was known, in return, so it didn't seem to be a good place to hide.

Taminwe contradicted him. As the stronghold of the Thieves Guild, it was just the place to go. Someone could disappear there if they wanted to, and knew the right people. They way she said it suggested he already did. They weren't the kind to rat on their friends, and he had got to know a lot of them very well. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea.

He set off for the Market District, and the Office of Imperial Commerce.

Vinicia Melissaeia accepted his 2000 Septims, and handed him a key. "I assume you don't want this sale registered in your real name. Nobody in that district ever does. Traditionally, we enter the owner as Emer Dareloth, without a signature. Will you be doing the same?"

That sounded like a good idea. "I won't break with tradition," he told her. "That's never good for your luck."

Vinicia reminded him that the place had minimal furniture at present, just a bed and a table. "I'm not sure if there's even a chair to sit on. But you can get the furnishings at the Three Brothers store when you need it. They'll deliver it, too!"

He thanked her, and set off for his new home. He wasn't sure if he'd need anything major in the way of funishings, just a few chests to store things in, but he would need a least one chair! Vinicia had told him that there was a basement, maybe he'd find something down there that he could bring up and use. Maybe a stool that would serve until he bought something better.

When he opened the door, he saw that she hadn't been exaggerating at all. The bed was a single one, and there wasn't room for a larger one there , without blocking the doorway. A small round table occupied most of the other half of the room, and there was nowhere to sit but on the bed. There was at least a solid-looking fireplace and chimney, so he wouldn't be cold.

There wasn't a trapdoor in sight to access the basement, which was a good thing, as it wouldn't restrict where could put any chairs or chests he added. He assumed that there must be a door on the outside, probably round the back.

Sure enough, there was a double hatch door covering the entrance and the same key as the front door fit the lock. He glanced behind him at the level of Lake Rumare, and noted that there wasn't a lot of depth available for a basement. He hoped he wouldn't find standing water down there.


The last thing he expected to find was the two young women that rushed to him as soon as the doors opened. One of them looked like a Breton, but with a Nord's flaxen hair. The other was unlike any race he'd encountered before. She had red skin, horns like a Dremora, and hooves and a tail!

They were both eager to get out into the sunlight, but their eyes were blinking furiously as they'd obviously spent some time in the dark. In the bright light of day, he could almost see through the blonde's dress, which was made of white lace. While he couldn't quite make out the interesting details, it was clear that she wasn't wearing anything under it.

The darker woman wore only tatoos and chains, if you didn't count the hair on her lower legs. Her ample breasts held up well on their own, but were also supported by chains that ran between her pierced nipples, and a spiked collar around her neck. There were a few other piercings and chains in intimate locations. And on her back, she carried a pitchfork.

When she finished rubbing her eyes, she introduced herself as Diablita, and the other was her sister(!) Angeline. She corrected herself. "Half-sister, that is. We have the same father, but different mothers. We're sort of twins, too, born on the same day."

He asked how they came to be locked in his basement. "Well, of course it wasn't locked when we went in there. We'd just got off a ship in the harbor, where we'd been stowaways, and it looked like a good place to hide for a while."

They'd brought bedrolls with them, and they'd found barrels of food stored in the basement, so they'd survived well enough. They were running out of wine and beer, though, and didn't like the idea of drinking from the little pool of water in the corner. There were a couple of stools, too, which was all the news he wanted.

Except that he needed to decide what to do with these two. They pleaded with him to let them stay for a while, as they had nowhere else to go. "We can be useful," said Angeline. "I'm a pretty decent archer and spell-caster, and Diablita's fork is like a mage's staff. It produces a nasty fireball."

Diablita admitted that she'd rather swing a sword or hammer than use the pitchfork, but she didn't have either right now, and it was good to have a ranged attack as well. "We can heal ourselves, too, and aren't much affected by diseases or poisons."

They weren't mentioning what else they could do for him, but they had cuddled up to either side of him to make it obvious. He found himself thinking that they were both fairly small, so they wouldn't take up much room, and Freija had suggested he get a bodyguard, and ...

"Just for a while," he consented. "This is a pretty tiny shack, and we'll find it's a tight squeeze for all of us. Don't expect it to be a permanent solution."

He was a little worried that such a conspicuous pair of companions would draw attention to him. He had also wanted to draw on his waterfront contacts to appear to be a long-term resident of the area. Having these two in tow might make it harder to pick up where he left off with the Bosmers, and Minx.

On the other hand, they'd be a distraction, and he did need a bodyguard, to keep any assassins at bay.

He carried the two stools up to the ground floor, and sat down on the bed to talk to the "twins". They ignored the stools, and sat on the bed, too, either side of him. It was becoming obvious that they worked as a team, and each knew what the other was thinking. He interrupted their plans by asking them where they'd come from. They'd mentioned being stowaways, and they obviously weren't from around here.

The two exchanged glances, and apparently elected Angeline to do the talking, while Diablita continued to entwine herself around him and nibble his other ear. She explained how they'd grown up on a volcanic island somewhere in the seas south of the Topal Bay. They'd lost their parents, and the island's only source of fresh water, when the lava dome their house had been built on collapsed into the bottom of the crater.

She didn't want to go into any details right now, there would be time for that later. But they'd been in the basement for a long time without a man, and some needs were just more urgent than story-telling.

There may have been enough room in the bed for the three of them to do that, but there certainly wasn't room to sleep afterwards. The girls fetched their bedrolls from the basement and laid them out on the floor. There was only just enough room to do so, and it wasn't going to be a workable arrangement once he had a few chests added.

He'd only just moved in, and already he was in the market for a larger house! He'd want to keep this one as a City base, but he should be on the lookout for something that had enough bedrooms for each of them. That wasn't going to be cheap, but It would be their home, and they could help him raise the gold.

Adventuring around the countryside might be another good way to stay out of public view for a while, too. He'd not done that before, as he wasn't so confident of his ability to survive that kind of life, but maybe they'd be safer as a team. He'd discuss the idea with them when they woke up tomorrow.

Of course, they jumped at the idea of living in a home with room to move. Their home on the island had been a bit bigger than this place, but it was almost as cramped with its five inhabitants. Their parents' bedroom had been no larger than this one, although it did have a bed large enough for the three. The girls had slept in bunks in a small room on the other side of the house that was not much more than a closet. The room in between served as dining room, kitchen, workshop and everything else.

Their father had built it from the wood from a shipwreck, and there wasn't much that came ashore. Some of the interior walls were made out of crates that had washed up with it, so they were thin, and not very strong. He'd built it in the crater of the dead volcano, so that it would be out of the wind, because it probably couldn't have stood up to much. That was also where the only fresh water collected in a small pool.

The soil of the rest of the island was too sandy for the rain to stay on the surface, but the volcanic ash in the crater was more fertile, and they managed to grow a few vegetables up there. There were fish and clams in the bay, which had been the crater of an earlier eruption, and formed a natural harbor.

They told him how ships would shelter in the bay whenever there was a storm threatening at sea, and they'd get to trade with the sailors for goods they couldn't make for themselves. They had produce from their little garden, and some fruits grew wild on the slopes of the island, too. The sailors would appreciate something fresh, after living off preserved food while they were at sea, and they got a fair deal. Gold was useless, with nowhere to spend it, but timber and nails, and needles and thread were even better. Sometimes they'd have ingredients that could be used for Alchemy.

They were eager to get started with earning their keep, so the three of them walked around the shoreline to a cave they could just see from the back of the shack. They could take a look inside and see if there was any treasure hidden there. The reporter knew that bandits often stashed their loot in caves like that, so there was a decent chance for it.

Naturally, there was also a chance to find the bandits, but they'd cross that bridge when they came to it.

Which was a few feet inside the door. A shout from above them told them they'd been spotted, and an arrow flew past the reporter's head. Angeline returned fire with her own bow, and Diablita's pitchfork sent a fireball to chase the arrow. A singed and pierced bandit fell from the ledge above, injuring himself further in the fall. To compound his problems, he fell on a trip wire, and a large log swung down just as he was trying to pick himself up.

They weren't so lucky with the next bandit. He came running down the pathway with a large hammer raised above his head. The log was between him and the three adventurers, so they moved around it to keep things that way. Without a ranged attack, and unable to reach them, he eventually fell, too.

Now they had some better armor and equipment from the first two, they could deal with the remaining bandits as they came to them. By moving slowly, and healing themselves as they went, they could out-fight each individual they encountered. They found a few chests with gold and other items as they progressed, but the main value seemed to be in the armor and weapons they were taking from their adversaries.

The last bandit was a tough one, presumably the leader of this bunch, and they noticed a glow on the man's armor. Probably enchanted with something, they thought. There was a better haul of gold and gems in the chest in this part of the cave, too. His sword was of better quality than the one the reporter had been using, and defied his attempts to repair it. Most likely enchanted too, he thought.

They had just about as much as they could carry as they worked their way back to the cave entrance. The sky was beginning to darken as they emerged, and they knew they wouldn't get to the Market district before the shops closed. They'd just have to stow their haul in the basement and sell it the next day.

There were a few bottle of quite decent wine amongst the other stuff, and that wasn't going to bring them a lot of cash, so they decided to drink some before they turned in for the night. Perhaps that made it easier for the women to continue their tale of life on the Island.

Diablita, this time, took up the narrative. "When we were small, our father kept us in the house whenever there was a ship in the harbor. Our mothers would go down and do all the trading with the sailors. Father told us that they were much better at it than he was, and we assumed he meant haggling for a good deal."

"Eventually we noticed that our mothers sometimes came back really late, even the following morning. Usually only one of them, but as we grew up, it seemed more likely that they'd both stay out late. Father didn't look too happy when that happened."

"After a while we figured out that they had more to trade than he did. Until they brought the captain of one ship home with them. She was an elf of some kind, Bosmer I think, and she was really pretty. Father seemed to think so, anyway. They all disappeared into the adult's bedroom, and we heard laughter and other noises for a while."

"Our mothers went back down to the dock shortly after that, leaving her behind. We didn't see any of them until morning. Father looked a lot happier on that occasion! He looked a bit tired, though, and so did she."

"It wasn't long after that Angeline went into the adult's room, and found one of our mothers' toys lying on the bed. We hadn't ever seen one of those before. It was pretty obvious what it was, though. Very realistic, though maybe a bit smaller than the only example of the real thing we'd ever seen."

"Of course, she tried it out before she told me anything about finding it. Eventually I started wondering where she was and went and found her, still playing with it. I only got a turn by threatening to tell her mother."

"We left it where Angeline found it, and it got put away again, but a few days later there was another one in the same place. This one was a bit bigger, and made out of laquered wood. It wasn't as life-like as the first one, and the end was more tapered. I found it this time, so I got the first try."

"When we found the third one, we guessed that they'd been left out for us deliberately, so we asked our mothers about it. Angela - that's my sister's mother - said nothing, but she handed us a small key and sent us off to their room. We found that it fit the lock on a small chest with all the rest of the toys."

"Some of them were made for two people. That made us think. It meant that our mothers could use them together, with or without Father's help. They'd never spoken about their life before we were born, and we'd assumed that they'd always been together. Perhaps that wasn't true."

The reporter asked if they'd kept any of the toys.

"No, they were lost with the rest of the house, when it fell down the crater. If we still had them, we could have lasted a lot longer in your basement!"

That appeared to be Angeline's cue for wanting the real thing again, so the story was shelved for the night.