Book and Monument

When they got back to the mainland, the sisters went back to Chorrol, while he hurried off to see Taminwe and Uzgash at the Red Dragon Club. Taminwe thought she might have a job for him soon, but he should wait at his shack until the time was right. There was still a chance that people would remember the reporter he'd been before his "death". That would give him some time to get on with writing his book.

She'd sent Lathenil back to Tsarrina and Silanu. He'd turned invisible before he left the club, and she'd opened the door for him. He was still living in fear of the Thalmor.

Taminwe was inclined to believe that they did pose a threat - to Lathenil. "He's clearly a target for them," she told him, "but I don't think it's any more than a local Summerset Isle dispute. They're rational people down there, and it should all sort itself out without us worrying about it."

He went back to the Waterfront, where all the talk was about the new captain of the watch, a man by the name of Servatius Quintilius. He didn't believe the Thieves Guild existed, and was a lot easier to deal with than his predecessor. Being new to the job, he didn't want to cause any waves that might get the attention of his superiors.

"What happened to Hieronymus Lex?" he asked.

"Re-assigned to Anvil," he was told. "He wasn't too happy about that."

"Serves him right," one of the dockworkers interjected. "I lost a whole day's pay when they threw that curfew on us last week." He remembered that happening before, but all he'd lost out on was a night with Carwen, and he'd made up for that later. This had apparently been a much bigger deal, with all the shacks searched, and watchmen drafted in from all the other Districts.

He asked around and found out that the Thieves Guild had taken advantage of the lack of security in the rest of the city to pull a few big robberies. One of the targets had been the Arcane University, where they'd stolen Hrormir's Icestaff from the Arch-mages quarters. The Mages Guild weren't happy about that. Raminus Polus had sent a summoned Dremora to the Waterfront with a message for Lex, the first time anyone there had seen one. Lex been ordered to call off his manhunt for the Grey Fox, and things had returned to normal.

Nobody knew if that incident had anything to do with his re-assignment, but the timing was suspicious.

He continued with his writing. It was a collection of short tales about the Imperial Legion Mountain Riders, each one focusing on one of the Bear Riders.

He'd started with Claudia, because she was the first one he'd met, and her story had been the inspiration for the book. He'd written down the one she'd told him. The one with the Champion in it, and the Watch Captains, not the one with a reporter on his way to Falkreath. That might be more memorable, but it was also more personal.

Unna's story of the Oblivion Gate and the death of her first bear was a sad counterpoint to it, but it all resulted in the Champion of Cyrodiil closing the Gate, and her getting a new bear, so the ending was just as happy.

Now, should he tell Pala's or Svana's account of the building of the Lodge? They'd both been involved, and had told him different parts of the narrative. He'd think about that, and work on Ystrel's next.

That one was going to take some careful narrative. He didn't want to make the Newlands Lodge sound like a dangerous place. A young woman could get indecently propositioned, without trying too hard, if she wanted. And yes, there were fights there, but Dervera didn't allow any weapons to be used, and everyone ended up drinking together afterward. The guards weren't as bad now that Ulrich Leland wasn't running things, and they'd keep things in check without arresting everyone.

He'd interviewed the Orc she'd hit. "When I came round, I didn't know if I was in pain, or in love," he'd said. "She certainly made an impression! My fault for starting it, not that anyone listened."

A few days after that, Amusei knocked on his door. The Argonian was better dressed than the first time he had seen him, in a respectable, and dark, suit of leather armor. Amusei was looking for Minx. He had a message for her from the Grey Fox.

"Yes, I joined the Thieves Guild eventually," Amusei told him. "It did take me several attempts. Perhaps that's why they use me as a messenger, rather than give me actual thieving tasks."

His wry smile admitted he was grateful for any employment. Amusei told him that Minx had rescued him from a Vampire in the Cheydinhal jail, while she was looking for a book she had to recover. He was even more grateful to her, and he'd like to thank her again, now he was a Guild member, too.

He didn't know where Minx was, but he assured Amusei that he'd tell her to look out for him, if she did turn up.

He ran into Minx again in Bruma, of all places, when he went to get some missing details for Pala's story. He'd not been able to remember which fort the book was in, although he knew it was somewhere along her patrol route. Since the Champion had traded that book with Ocato for the Lodge, it was an important part of the story.

Minx asked him if he knew where the Temple of the Ancestor Moths was. He'd never been there himself, but he had a good idea how to get there. Svana's regular patrol ended at the foot of the path up to the Temple, and she'd described the area to him in good detail. It was easy to find if you just followed the road out of town towards Cheydinhal, but turned north and took the trail through the mountains.

She wouldn't tell him why she was going there. "Guild business" was all he got. He asked if Amusei had found her. But she was already on her way and didn't answer.

It was about a month since Terranis and his men had started on the construction work. He'd told them that the crab invasion didn't slow them down at all, so it should be finished by now. He wondered if he should contact Varulae to see if she'd had any news. He'd given back the little crystal ball. It hadn't been as useful as they'd expected the first time, as it couldn't convey much of a message.

First, though, he needed to check in at the Club. "This just came for you," said Brienne, handing him a note. It was from Varulae. She'd sent another to the sisters at Arborwatch, so he should come directly to Anvil, and they'd all meet at the Count's Arms.

Varulae had seen the completed monument already. Terranis had held up the crystal ball so she could look through. The view was obviously a bit distorted, seen that way, but ...

"No I shouldn't tell you anything now. You need to go see it for yourselves. Go see Zishara on the Serpents Wake."

When they stepped out of the rowboat onto the little jetty, the sisters rushed up the path towards the shrine. They'd seen it being built, of course, so they had some idea of the scale, but that was on a cluttered building site, and it had all been cleared and tidied up. It just looked bigger and more magnificent this time.

Terannis and his men were waiting to greet them. He led Angeline and Diablita to the bench seat just inside the ring of columns. That was something new. It wasn't on the rough drawings he'd shown them when he started. Nor was the big bowl-shaped planter in the middle. He'd carefully dug up the flax plants from the graves, and replanted them there, so that the ground inside the ring could be paved over. He'd used local rock for that, so it blended perfectly with the surroundings.

The three simple gravestones they'd erected when they buried the parents were gone, and in their places were three tall stone obelisks, each marked with a name. He noted that Terannis had copied his lettering style from the originals. A nice touch.

There were a lot of other thoughtful details. The paving had also been laid in a ring around the outside of the circle of columns, but then covered up again with the sand. "That will stop anything but grass from taking root there," one of the workmen told them. "That way, it won't need any maintenance to stay looking this way."

The centre paving was slightly higher then the ring of stone that surrounded it, and it was almost imperceptibly domed, so that rain would run off. The centre was open to the sky, like the original in the city, with just a ring capping the columns, so sunlight and rain could get to the planter in the middle. The gaps between the pavers had been filled with a very fine sand, too, to make it more impervious to the weather.

"Actually, that's not sand," Terranis corrected him. "We ground up the shells of those Giant Mudcrabs for that. It will harden into a mortar that will be completely rain-proof, but flexible enough not to crack in the tropical sun."

He was glad to find that the Giant Mudcrab incident hadn't been a complete waste. There wouldn't have been enough of the small ones to do this.

Terranis and the girls went back to the Serpents Wake arm in arm. He had a shrewd idea that the mason was going to be well rewarded for his extra efforts.