Marghak's coming to town

One of the first of the new communicators had gone to the Iron Fortress, in Orsinium. They'd presented it to Marghak, Uzgash's mother, in her capacity as Head of the Orsinium Guild of Prostitutes, as a gift from the Red Dragon Club. They couldn't give one directly to Gortwog, as he might have been suspicious that it was in some way a spying device. He had reason to suspect everything, as there was considerable evidence of a growing threat to Orsinium from Hammerfell and High Rock. There may not be much unity between the quarreling little kingdoms in those areas, but they did concur in their hatred for the Orcs.

Marghak was pleased to know her daughter was alive, if not surprised. She'd raised her children to be independent and resourceful, and they'd inherited a lot from Gortwog. If Uzgash couldn't look after herself, she'd have been worried, but she knew better than that.

So when Marghak announced that she'd be coming to Cyrodiil, Uzgash couldn't believe it, especially that she'd be visiting the Red Dragon Club. She'd thought that her death in the bridge collapse was well-established as a "fact", and it appeared that her mother was blowing that wide open.

Taminwe set her straight. Marghak was the head of the Guild of Prostitutes in Orsinium, so a visit to a successful brothel like the Red Dragon Club was a perfectly normal thing for her to do. It also got her out of the way of any troubles that might erupt back at home, at least for a while. The Empire's relationship with Gortwog was much better than formal arrangements implied. The lack of full Provincial status was not a real issue, as it would not bring any benefits to Orsinium. That was more the desire of Queen Elysana, who wanted the indirect support of the Empire through her alliance with the Orcs. Since she was an inveterate trouble-maker, constantly plotting against the other local rulers, Ocato wasn't likely to help her in any way.

So for Marghak to be the guest of the Potentate for a time would give Gortwog one less worry. They had let it be known that this was a mission of apology for the incident of Ambassador Gorthag's fake wife - coveniently another excuse for Marghak to visit the Club - and to mend relations that really had never been broken. She'd be here to interview Brienne, and to see how the capital city's best brothel was run. All strictly business, and unrelated to any Orc that might be working there.

And she'd be given another communicator to take back for Gortwog. He now understood how they worked, and Marghak could oversee the enchantment of the crystals, and be sure that only two were linked. Only then would he trust that the link was secure.

Uzgash still was unhappy about the idea. Nobody likes their mother coming to check up on them, and the possibilities for embarassment didn't bear thinking about.

Taminwe already had a dossier on Marghak, of course, but Uzgash related her background for Clark's benefit.

She was an orphan, brought up by a coven of witches somewhere in High Rock. Obviously her mother had been an Orc, but her father could have been any race. Uzgash suspected Dwemer, as all her siblings had a tendency to tinker with mechanical things. She'd left the witches' coven some time in her late teens, presumably when she got to the rebellious age, and they couldn't handle her. Orcs aren't blessed with much inate personality, which would only have made things worse.

She'd lived the adventurer's life for a while, relying on the spells she'd learned from the witches. She didn't have the Bretons' capacity for magic, and needed to supplement that with weapon skills she hadn't learned as a child. So she'd gone into town, and traded her favors for lessons with blades and blunt weapons. That brought her to the attention of the local Guild of Prostitutes, who insisted on her joining up, and paying her dues.

The Guild gave her speechcraft training, as a matter of necessity. She worked in the brothels as often as a bouncer as in any other capacity, but she was learning from everything she saw. And the Orc customers naturally preferred one of their own, so she made a reasonable income, and she settled into that trade for a while.

Later that year, 3E399, Gortwog fought his duel with Lord Bowyn and secured the land of Orsinium. He chose to celebrate his victory in the very brothel where Marghak was working, perhaps because it was one of the few that employed an Orc, and the two met for the first time. Not having been brought up in Orcish society, she had no idea who he was, and just treated him like any other customer. It appeared that they each made a good first impression.

Marghak was pleased to find an Orc who actually used his brain, and not just his muscles. Gortwog liked her because she was different, too. She knew spells, she'd had training in speechcraft. Her upbringing in the witches' coven had made her open to new ideas, as was clear from her current choice of career. Most Orcs assumed they'd become mercenaries, or something similar. And he'd never seen an Orc woman dance like she did. That was another thing she 'd learned from the witches, who spent most of their time dancing naked in worship of the gods.

He'd taken her back with him to his camp in the foothills of the Wrothgarians, where he intended to build the city of Nova Orsinium. She listened to his grand plans for a fortress with walls of iron, and other military emplacements to make it impregnable. Then she pointed out that he hadn't planned any of the infrastructure to support it. Where would everyone live? Where would the food come from? Where was the tavern, the shops, the brothel?

Gortwog believed that if he provided a safe refuge, then all that would grow up on its own. But he listened to her argument that it all required as much planning as the fortress. The people living in the city outside the fortress would need easy routes to retreat into its walls, but that could also make it accessible to enemies. The houses could be barriers to an invading army, or they could provide them cover. Too little urban planning could make the city weak, and too much could put people off from moving there. It needed balance, and Marghak seemed to be the right advisor to help him keep it.

"Uzgash is making it sound like her mother just moved in and took over," laughed Taminwe. "It wasn't that easy in reality, and she got a lot of resistance from Gortwog's existing retinue at first. But that training she got from the Prostitutes' Guild made her a much better persuader than most of them had ever met. Once she was generally accepted, it was time to seal her position with an heir."

Uzgash explained further. "My mother told me that she'd discussed that with Gortwog very early on. She saw that an heir might dash the hopes of several nobles who might otherwise inherit his position. She didn't want to make any extra enemies that way. It's probably why they didn't marry then, although they still didn't later when they could have done so. She always told me that it left Gortwog free for a strategic alliance, if he ever needed it. It could also have kept that inheritance issue open, for those who thought it important."

Marghak had been visibly pregnant when she founded the Orsinium Guild of Prostitutes. She had a number of reasons for that timing. She needed more women to handle the men of the court, especially while her own activities were limited. The "den mother" image would be particularly useful to her, and becoming a real mother made it more convincing. It was also good for her to take a position of her own, independent of Gortwog, at a time when they were obviously close. And the Breton Guildhall in Camlorn was trying to assert jurisdiction over the area, and Gortwog wanted that to stop. Orsinium needed its own guild. Now!

Gortwog made the most of the situation, and issued a proclamation setting up Orsinium's own guilds in all the trades. That conveniently gave him a number of Guildmaster positions to bestow where they would be useful, as well as establishing Marghak's parity among those so chosen.

Uzgash recalled the part the Guild had served in her upbringing. Marghak understood the value of the training it could offer, as well as making sure her daughters didn't think of themselves as princesses. Her younger sister had never really let go of that, and she'd done all her whoring around the court, instead of at the brothel. The elder sister was a tomboy, who preferred fighting, and thought that sex was just a way to celebrate after a victory.

The Prostitutes Guild had prospered under Marghak's hand. She quickly got a reputation for giving the women their fair share of the income, and protecting them from abusive clients. Soon it wasn't just Orcs that wanted to work in the Orsinium area, although they did remain a majority. That created some friction with the neighboring provinces' guilds, who were concerned that they'd lose staff, and Marghak was quick to mend those fences. Soon she was a major player in setting up an all-Tamriel council to regulate inter-provincial trade. Consistent guild rules between provinces was an early outcome, and that tended to be adoption of Marghak's Orcish ones.

She had the sense not to contest the position of chairwoman. Orsinium was a minor guild, as it didn't represent a full province. It made more sense for one of the others to take it, and she wanted to spend more time with Gortwog than that would have allowed. She accepted a lesser position that suited her better, and let her travel around the country as the Guild's representative.

"Which let her gather intelligence for Gortwog, of course." Taminwe pointed out. "Whores know as much about what's happening as the beggars do, in most places. Especially what's going on behind closed doors."

Somehow she'd found time to have six more children with Gortwog. They'd apprenticed with the guilds when they were old enough and all learned a trade or two. Uzgash's youngest brother was an accomplished smith, and had learned to enchant his own work, too. Gortwog now had them scattered across Tamrielfor their own safety, and Uzgash was officially considered dead. "If we'd thought of it at the time, my brother could have pulled the same ploy with that ship fire," thought Uzgash.

Taminwe wasn't so sure. That attack seemed designed to fail, but to throw the blame on the Bretons. She was sure that he'd have been killed in battle if the expected retaliation had ensued, probably by "friendly fire" from an infiltrator on his own side. That would ensure that the incident escalated further.

"Having Marghak visit here might prompt an attempt to do something similar, although I don't expect them to use the same play more than once," Taminwe suggested. "So I think the ship bringing her is safe. If they do try anything, it might be after she reaches the City."