"You were the one who got me into the Thieves Guild in the first place," Minx reminded him. "I admit that Amusei wasn't the greatest competion I could have had, but your help gave me the confidence to win that contest."

"And then you took to me to Carwen to get me some training. You could have just taken me back to your shack for a celebration, but you didn't. You were thinking of me, not yourself, and I appreciate that."

He pointed out that he got two for one that way, and she laughed. "That wasn't your decision, if I recall."

She'd thought, at the start, that thievery would just be a job to do, but she liked the Guild. Especially that they frowned on killing people. The other thieves were nice folk to work with, helpful and cheerful. And she'd learned quickly. She seemed to have a talent for it, and she'd taken to heart what Methredhel had said at the Bloated Float, that a thief thrived on distractions.

He confessed to being completely and delectably distracted. "What were you saying?"

Minx continued telling him about her rise through the ranks of the Guild. "And all that time, I hadn't killed anyone. That ended when they sent me to Skingrad, to find a lost book. The beggars there said that Amusei knew where it was, but he was in jail. I bribed the guard, it only took money this time, and got let into the dungeons. When I went looking for Amusei, his cell was empty and there was a trail of blood leading from it, down to the cellars."

"I didn't know Amusei well, but I remembered that he was the other candidate when I joined, so I was kind of grateful to him for losing that night. And I don't like people getting hurt, so I followed the trail, hoping I could do something. I found the blood wasn't Amusei's, but it soon could have been joined by his. There was a Vampire taking prisoners from the jail and killing them, and he was her next victim."

"I suppose it made me angry, and that's why I fought her. I'll admit I didn't expect to win, either, it was just something I had to try and do for Amusei. I did remember that Vampires have a weakness to fire, and that helped. "

"Was that when Amusei joined the guild?" he asked. "He mentioned to me that you saved him in Skingrad."

She nodded. "Soon after, anyway. He came right back here with a new determination to try again. He'll never be a good thief, but he's an excellent messenger."

"The only other time I had to kill was another Vampire," she continued. "I'd learned a spell to make myself invisible, so most of the time I could just walk past people, instead of fighting them. Some of the men I didn't want to pass by, of course. There were much more pleasant ways of dealing with them. Fathis Aren, in particular, although that tower of his isn't the most comfortable of places for it."

"But Jakben Imbel was a different proposition. What he wanted, I wasn't prepared to provide. So we ended up fighting, and you probably know the rest. I let the Watch kill the other vampires, they needed the exercise!"

"And all this was because the Grey Fox was sending you on these missions?" he asked. "How did you meet him? And when did you discover that he was Count Umbranox?"

"Well, to answer the last one first, I didn't know who he was until right at the end. I couldn't have known, because if he took off that cowl, nobody knew who he was! That was the curse he was trying to lift. It stopped even his own wife from recognising him. He told me that he'd sat in her court every day, and she'd treated him like a stranger. He WAS a stranger, until the curse was removed."

"And I met him, as the Grey Fox, when Methredhel sent me to him. That day in Bruma, when you gave me directions to the Temple of the Ancestor Moths. He'd been at another Guild member's house, and given me that task."

"That reminds me, I need to thank you for that help, too."

He was relieved that her story-telling was giving him just enough time to recover between her showing her gratitude. She'd become really good at that part of her skill too. She took a deep breath and got back to the tale.

"The hardest quest was the last one," she told him. "The Grey Fox had determined that the only way to undo the curse was to rewrite the Elder Scroll that recorded it. You can actually change history that way, because of the magic they contain. So he needed the one that had the right events in it, and the things he had me steal were the ones we'd need to obtain the Scroll."

"The stone I took from the monks let him see into the Palace, and find the secret way in. Fathis Aren had the key I'd need, and the Earl of Imbel had boots that would provide me extra jumping ability. I couldn't have reached the goal without them."

"I had to enter the Palace through an old catacomb, and the only entrance to that was in a locked section of the sewers. The ironic thing was that the whole chain started in the Palace, only a few floors from where I needed to go. The only way to unlock the sewers was to activate an hourglass in the basement."

She described her long and dangerous journey through the dark catacombs beneath the White Gold Tower. They were filled with undead, and she'd had many close calls when she had to operate buttons, or open doors, and lost her invisibility for a few moments. She clung close to him when she recalled those scary parts, and it was his turn to interrupt the story. Minx was grateful for that.

She resumed by telling him the end of the story, when Corvus Umbranox was finally able to go back to Anvil and be reunited with his wife. She'd been there to see it, and it was quite the most romantic experience she'd ever witnessed.

That was the first time she was able to know who the Grey Fox really was, Count Umbranox of Anvil. The mention of Anvil tickled a thought that he'd had at the back of his mind since she started. She hadn't mentioned Heironymus Lex's re-assignment there, and he was sure now that it had been part of this.

"You know, I do vaguely recall going to Anvil for the Grey Fox," she responded. "It had something to do with a letter, but I just can't remember most of it. I had to meet somebody there, but that part's a complete blank. Sorry."

Well that at least told him he hadn't imagined it. He still had access to the Black Horse Courier's archives, so he could find out more later.

"So does this all mean that there isn't a Grey Fox any more? That he's now a respectable Count again, and the secret identity isn't needed?"

"Oh no," she explained. "Nocturnal's Cowl hasn't changed. Whoever wears it still becomes the Grey Fox, and can't be recognised as anyone else. That means that any thief can use it to become completely anonymous. I probably won't make any use of it, except to keep the legend alive. If the public starts to forget the Grey Fox, I'll pull some spectacular heist, and you'll report it."

That reminded him that he wasn't a reporter any more. He had a story that she needed to hear, too. But first....

Of course, when he told her that he was "dead", she had to mention Falanu. He was too tired to react. He'd have to get used to that anyway.

He told her about the two sisters he'd found in his basement here at the Waterfront. Carwen had told Minx about them, but she'd reported that they were his sisters, of course. "No wonder you could manage Carwen and me together, you'd had practice!"

He admitted that, but decided that he wouldn't mention any of the ones before his "death". The sisters were a part of his current life and she deserved to know about them. He'd told her he was writing a book about the Bear Riders, so she could assume what she wanted there.

And she'd mentioned Fathis Aren, and other unnamed encounters she'd had. He wondered if any of them had been blind monks at the Temple. Minx appealed to all the senses.

The next morning, she woke before he did, and went downstairs to see to Thieves Guild business while he slept on. The first thing he knew was Methredhel bringing him a tray of breakfast goodies, and a note. It was from Angeline and Diablita.

They wanted to know what they were going to do with all the gold they'd accumulated.

"We could have it stolen, if you'd like," Methredhel told him helpfully. "That way it will go to people who really need it, not to the local Count in taxes."

She meant that. The Thieves Guild had always looked after the beggars, and made sure the truly needy ones got enough to live on. "Most of the ones you find sleeping in alleys aren't homeless, they're just afraid of sleeping indoors," she explained. "For example, Wretched Aia, down in Bravil, had her house burn down around her. Lost her whole family in the blaze. She hasn't entered a building ever since."

He knew most of the beggars of Tamriel, and he'd alway pass them a few coins when he could. They had been very useful sources when he'd been a reporter, and they were still useful to a spy. He hadn't done much of that recently either.

But he had a feeling the sisters were writing about more gold than Methredhel imagined. He knew how quickly they'd raised the asking price for Arborwatch. They'd already bought another place in Skingrad, and furnished it, so who knows how much they had now!

That's when he noticed the ebony diamond ring on Methredhel's finger. She didn't usually go for fancy items, being much more likely to wear a copper or brass ring. After all, they can all hold the same enchantments, which was the only reason she'd she'd wear one. But this one looked expensive, and it was on that finger. Did it mean...?

"Yes," she beamed. "And he didn't just buy it for me, he stole it!"