He stowed his travelling gear in the chest in his room at the Tap & Tack, and set the little crystal ball Varulae had given him on the table next to the bed. This one was cloudy, unlike the big clear one they'd rescued from the spectral sailors. So you couldn't see anything in it, but she'd told him to come back to Anvil if it glowed. He recalled Uzgash describing ones like this for calling her to Falkreath.

He changed his mind about leaving it there. He didn't really trust that Ongar didn't have access to this room. That man would steal anything that wasn't nailed down, even a low-valued item like this. He put it in his pocket instead. It may not be worth much to anyone else, but it was important to him.

He headed out of the city gate and up the road towards the Riders' Lodge. None of the Riders was in the bar when he arrived, and Timo wasn't to be seen either. That could mean he was busy with Gudrun, or else he'd gone into town for the day. Someone had told him that Lyra Rosentia had an occasional need for Timo's recharging services.

Gudrun's door was open, so he wasn't interrupting anything. But he couldn't see her for a pile of small boxes on her desk. She heard him come in, and came around the heap to greet him.

"These are all gifts from that Hafid Hollow-leg in town," she explained. "Ever since he found out that I'd danced at Olav's, he's been trying to persuade me to do it at his place. He sends flowers, wine, sweetrolls, all sorts of stuff. All with a little note attached."

The reporter confessed that he'd probably heard it from him. "Oh, don't blame yourself for that," she said. "Everybody in town knows who I am, so it would have got around anyway."

"Has Uzgash been getting the same treatment?" he asked.

"No, I don't think Hafid is the kind who'd want an Orc in his place at all. He's always treated Bumph gra-Gash as if she didn't exist, so I reckon he'd want a dancer who wasn't an Orc."

"Plus, he has no idea where she's living. She appears out of nowhere at Olav's every Loredas, and leaves the following morning. Everyone thinks she has a farm outside town somewhere, but she's not giving any clues. And most townsfolk don't venture outside the walls these days, not after that Draconis woman was murdered. About the only one who goes out is Honmund, and I'd swear that man doesn't notice any woman except Alga!"

"Of course, it's my job to get noticed. That's one reason I didn't mind stepping in for Uzgash that night. I'd do it again, if she asked me to. But that's for her, not for Olav, and certainly not for Hafid. He can promise me all the gold on Nirn, and it won't do him any good."

"But how do I get him to stop? He just won't take No for an answer!"

The reporter had an idea. She'd mentioned Bumph gra-Gash, who trained Heavy Armor over at the Fighters Guild. It made sense that Gudrun would know her, as that was an essential part of a Bear Rider's training too. It was said that she'd only train Fighters Guild members, but he wasn't sure if the Legion were an exception to that.

He'd met a couple of Orc brothers in Chorrol, who were also members of the Fighters Guild. Kurz and Lum gro-Baroth were as big as they came, and quite an intimidating pair until you got to know them. He wondered if Bumph knew them, and if they'd all like to help out a fellow Orc.

She didn't, but she'd like to. And his plan appealed to her sense of justice, too. She could send a message to Chorrol and invite them to visit, if they weren't busy on a contract. The offer of free training might help them make up their minds.

A couple of days later the three Orcs were enjoying an ale or two at Olav's when the reporter came down from his room. He sat down at the table opposite them; the two brothers were either side of Bumph, and vying for her attention. He explained his idea to them.

They were going to pay a visit to Hafid and explain how his plans for a dancer of his own wouldn't be in the best interests of their Orcish cousin at Olav's. "There's no need to mention a name. He'll know who you mean." And if it wasn't good for her, then it might not be good for Hafid, either.

"Hafid's got a big guy working as a bouncer. Logvaar's a good man, and we wouldn't him getting involved. He could get hurt if he tries to stop us leaning on Hafid." Bumph gra-Gash liked the big Nord. He didn't treat her like Hafid did.

"Don't worry about him. I'll keep him calm." The reporter demonstrated that he could cast that spell without being noticed, by using it on Alval Uvani, who everyone knew for his bad temper. "How delightful to meet you all!"

Hafid understood what he was being told. The stream of gifts to Gudrun dried up as swiftly as it had begun. But she was still concerned about Uzgash. "Even though he doesn't know who she is yet, Hafid's still a threat to her anonymity."

Just then, Uzgash herself came in to the office. She'd heard that the reporter was in town, and wanted to say hello. Not to mention catching up with all the intrigue she'd missed from the capital. "I could put up with being out of touch when I was on patrol on the Wrothgarians, because I knew I'd get all the news as soon as I got back to the Iron Fortress. Here in Bruma, nobody knows what's going on outside the city walls."

"I make a point of picking up the strangers in town, when they come into Olav's, but they're not in the know either. I haven't heard a thing from Orsinium in weeks, and little of what's happening in Cyrodiil."

"I've trained Timo about as far as I can. He's enthusiastic, but not a great scholar of the art. Journeyman is about as far as he'll get."

"And the patrols I make are just enough to keep the bear exercised, not really anything useful. I thought I'd be able to settle in here for a few years, until it all blew over, but I'm restless already. I need my finger on the political pulse, and I don't have that here. I can't go back to Orsinium, not until my father calls me back. And I don't even know if he thinks I'm really dead!"

Uzgash would rather be in the Imperial City, where she could keep an eye on events. "I could take your old job," she suggested. "They need another reporter, don't they?"

Sadly, he'd already been replaced, by another Khajiit. A cousin, this time.

But the Red Dragon Club didn't have an Orc, or a dancer. He'd take her there, and introduce her to Taminwe. "And Gudrun can take over at Olav's. She was a rousing success when she performed, and she tells me she needs the exercise." The reporter ducked as Gudrun threw one of the boxes at him.

She picked up another. But she didn't throw it. Her expression changed to a more thoughtful one. "You know, maybe it's not such a bad idea. It would serve Hafid right if Olav still had the only dancer in town. I did enjoy doing it, even if I will have to stay in shape. I think I'll start riding the spare bear the rest of the week to exercise both of us. I assume you won't be taking him to the City, Uzgash?"

"I'd be happy to leave him with you, but you'll have to get a different outfit for riding. You know they can't stand plate, even as little as you wear." Uzgash pondered for a moment, while the reporter pleasantly imagined Gudrun riding naked. "I can leave you mine. If the stripper clothes fit you, then the uniform should too."

That accounted for all the clothes Uzgash had here in Bruma. Gudrun, on the other hand, had a full wardrobe from her shopping trips to the city office, so she let Uzgash try some on, while she checked out Uzgash's outfit.

They let him watch.

Of course he had to repay their kindness, and to make matters worse, Uzgash wanted to leave Bruma before daybreak, so that nobody but the guards would be about. He was still yawning as he collected his things from Olav's and met her out on the Silver Road. "Why is your pocket glowing?" she asked him. In the half-light, he could see it too. It was Varulae's signal ball, but this was way too soon!

Well, he'd have to pass through the outskirts of the city to get to Anvil, so it didn't make much difference to the first part of his journey. It just meant he'd not be able to stay after he dropped her off at the Club. He wouldn't be able to get to Chorrol first, either, to pick up the sisters.

He explained to Uzgash what the glowing ball meant. That in turn required him to tell her all about Angeline and Diablita. By the time he'd finished the whole story, they were crossing the Talos Bridge.

Taminwe welcomed Uzgash to the club, and the two women went off planning how to add dancing to the entertainment in the bar. Enilwen was getting interested in that idea, too. Perhaps it was a Bosmer thing?

He hurried to get back on the road. Varulae wanted him down in Anvil early, and he had no idea why.