Charts of the Southern Seas

Phintias' bookshop, the First Edition, was the obvious place to look. As the only book store in the Imperial City, he took pride in having a copy of just about any book you could think of. They browsed through his extensive collection, and found a few books on Alchemy and Mysticism that the sisters found useful, but no copies of the "Charts of the Southern Seas."

They paid him for the ones they wanted, and set off for Leyawiin. There was a shop in Cheydinhal that sold books, and another in Chorrol, but it made more sense to look in a port town, even if it wasn't much of one these days.

The owner of Southern Books was a grumpy Orc by the name of Bugak gro-Bol. "If I've got it, it will be on the shelves somewhere," he told them. "No I don't keep the inventory in my head, go look for it. And make sure you buy something, don't just waste my time!"

Phintias' books had been neatly arranged by subject, and author, so it was easy to find what you wanted. The books here had just been stacked randomly on the shelves with no discernable pattern. You'd find a romantic tale next to a manual of armor repair, or a catalog of alchemical ingredients.

"Are we looking for a large book, or a small one?" Angeline asked. The reporter guessed that charts would need to be fairly large to be useful, but that was no guarantee. Varulae hadn't mentioned size when she asked him.

"Found it!" exclaimed Diablita, but she hadn't. That was another volume in the same series covering the South-west. It took nearly an hour before he found it at the back of a shelf, behind a row of trashy novels. He found himself thinking that he should tell Ontus Vanin about those.

Bugak wanted an arm and a leg for it, but the reporter haggled him down to something more reasonable, and they left the shop with their precious find. They walked down the road to the Five Claws Lodge to celebrate with a cool ale.

"Is our island on those charts?" asked Diablita. He assumed it must be, as they covered the right general area. They didn't know what anybody called it, so they couldn't consult the index. They'd have to search every page, and see if anything looked right.

He opened the book up on a table in the room at the back of the bar. There were numerous small islands on every page, but none of them looked quite right. That cluster was almost the same as they remembered it, and the shape of the main island was correct, but the small islands to the west were missing.

"I remember vaguely when the furthest one came out of the sea," said Angeline. "We'd been used to seeing a column of steam rising from the western horizon. It seemed to be rising straight off the water. But then one night we could see fire, too. We all watched the glow at the 'edge of the world'. It was like a second sunset for a while."

"And in the morning we could see a little bump on the horizon where the glow had been," Diablita continued. "There was still a lot of fire and steam and smoke, so it wasn't easy to make anything out. After a few days it stopped, and we could see there was another lttle island out there, the same conical shape as our own, but smaller."

The reporter turned back to the front of the book, and looked at the date it was published. If the charts weren't all new when they were bound together, then it was likely that some, including the one they'd just been looking at, were older than the sisters. It was probable that this really was their Island, mapped before the newer volcanoes erupted.

But it didn't have a name. Just a note in the margin that there was safe anchorage there from storms. That suggested that it had been uninhabited when the chart was drawn, or they'd most likely have named it for whoever lived there. So it was reasonable to assume that the two magical mothers had only arrived shortly before they gave birth. A year or two at the most. Did they all arrive together? Did their father find them there?

They needed to go back to Anvil to deliver the book. The reporter remembered that an old Khajiit sea-caption called S'shani lived there. It was worth asking him if he knew anything about the island, or even their parents.

S'shani was in the Count's arms talking to Varulae about the island when they walked in. Talk about coincidence! He'd passed it many times, but never had to stop there for bad weather. He didn't recall hearing about anyone living there either, but it was twenty years ago now, and he wasn't completely certain of his recollections.

The names Diabla and Angela were familiar, though. He'd heard that they had a shop in Senchal, selling alchemical equipment and potions, and all sorts of magical stuff. He'd never met them, because that wasn't what he dealt in. It was all a bit too fragile, and he preferred cargoes of cloth or timber, and weapons and armor when it was legal to carry them.

Anyhow, there was another merchant in the city that dealt in the same goods, and the rumor was that he was determined to put them out of business, by any means fair or foul. Some had said that the Dark Brotherhood had been involved, but he didn't know any details. The next time he went back to Senchal, the two women had disappeared, and the time after that, the other merchant had gone, too.

"Did your mothers look like you?" he asked, even if it was a silly question. Girls always looked like their mothers. "I see that I missed a great opportunity back then." The way he said that, the reporter knew that their father hadn't been around in Senchal.

He saw two possible scenarios. Either Jak'l had been the Silencer himself, and he'd decided to keep the women alive, or else he'd killed the Silencer. Either way, it looked like Jak'l had killed the merchant, and probably fled from the law after doing so.

Now they'd delivered Varulae's book, they had nothing to do but wait for the monument to be finished. The Serpents Wake had returned to Anvil, leaving Varulae's crystal ball with Terranis. When the work was complete, he'd send her a message, and the ship could come and pick up the crew.

It was time to see if the sisters could sleep in their rooms at Arborwatch, so he sent them there while he returned to the city to check in at the Red Dragon Club. When he went back his Waterfront shack, he found Islief waiting with a note. "This came from Anvil," he told the reporter.

S'shani had remembered another detail after they left. There had been a fence he'd met in Senchal that brought stolen goods down from Leyawiin to sell in the bazaar. He'd often buy things from S'shani to take back with him. He was an Argonian named Dar-Jee, and he was only a youngster then. S'shani suspected he'd still be doing the same today. He might have known Diabla and Angela, too.

Now he wished he'd brought the sisters with him. He considered going to Leyawiin on his own, but if Dar-Jee did know anything, he'd want them to hear it first-hand. He set off for Chorrol to fetch them.