Black Queen - Interlude

"How did you get past Shurgak?" Taminwe asked the Argonian.

"Can I mention using the rear entrance, or will you take that the wrong way?" Amusei smiled. "I don't want you charging me for services I haven't had!"

She laughed, but nobody was supposed to know about the way in and out through the sewers. Still, the Thieves Guild knew a lot about getting into places they weren't supposed to. She'd asked them to provide a good messenger to take the signal apparatus to Morgiah and Rinnala in Mournhold, and Amusei was the one they'd sent. He'd just proved his worth in that respect.

He must have picked the lock on the outside grate, too. That was no ordinary lock, and she was impressed. Amusei told her that Minx had insisted he get extra training on his lock-picking. She'd noticed that he was good at knots and his dexterity should be an asset. He followed orders well, too, and he could execute a plan if someone else made it. He just wasn't much good at making plans of his own.

"Knots?" Taminwe asked. She knew about Minx's little fetish from Clark. Argonians can't blush, but Amusei did look a little uncomfortable.

"Amusei does perform a few services specifically for the Guildmistress," he admitted. "Perhaps that is why she takes an interest in his training. Apparently it is not just his rope-work that meets with her satisfaction."

He'd aroused more than just her curiosity. "I think you'd better tell me more about that."

Clark had told Taminwe all about Rinnala and Morgiah and the Khajiit bandit. She knew he'd be as eager as she was to know what their first message on the flash communicator would be about.

"I'm betting that she won't mention Amusei," Taminwe said. "After all, they'll be sending it to you."

"Well, I think you're wrong. Morgiah won't want anything too important in the first communication. But she'll want to tell us a secret that she can check up on later. Amusei may be the perfect subject for that."

"I see what you mean. If she hears the same story from anyone but you, she won't trust this channel of communication with anything major."

"Precisely. So I really hope that Amusei doesn't want to brag about his adventures in Morrowind, assuming he has some. No, I know Rinnala, he'll have them. And if Morgiah knows about it, then he may get a lot more than he expected."

It took a few days for the Argonian to reach Mournhold. A few more before he got access to the intended recipients. It was over a week before they'd let him leave again. Despite that, Amusei was back in the Red Dragon Club to report the success of his mission before the ball first glowed. He was there in person when it did.

" Was M or R first with K ?" That was the challenge question that would reassure them that it was really Clark at this end.

" R, but only first ." he replied.

" M first with this apparatus. R first with A ."

Everyone turned to look at Amusei. Again he looked embarassed, but he just nodded.

Clark asked Morgiah why they'd waited so long before using it. She replied that she'd wanted to practise the code before sending her first message. It wouldn't be good to send something garbled, because they messed up. So she and Rinnala had used tankards and candles, just like he'd described the inventors using, until they were confident enough.

" R here. M busy with A, too. There was a lot of silk rope involved ."

Amusei explained that a thief carries silk rope because it's quieter. That's important when you're trying to scale the outside wall to an upstairs window.

"And it can be useful after you get there?" Taminwe raised an eyebrow.

"Perhaps. It depends on who you meet."

Rinnala wanted to know who to thank for sending Amusei. Her first Argonian, and according to her mother, more than just an ordinary one.

"Does she know about Minx?" Taminwe asked Clark.

Clark didn't recall mentioning her at all. He decided to avoid Rinnala's question.

" Thanking Amusei himself was enough ," Clark sent. " He's here, if you have any message for him ."

" Just remind him to be discreet ." It was clear that Morgiah was back at the key. She soon signed off without passing on any more details. Now Amusei was back, they could get it all from him.

"So who do you prefer?" Taminwe asked. "Does Minx have some competition now?"

"The one you are with is always the best," he replied. "And unless she knows otherwise, she's the only one!"

A few days later, the little ball was flashing again, and this time it was Rinnala. Once she'd established that it was Clark at the other end, she posed her question.

"If I told you I was pregnant, how would you react?"

Taminwe was watching, and she'd caught that last transmission. The look on her face was of total horror.

"I'm no Tiber Septim. It would all depend on how you felt about it," Clark responded.

"How can you take this so calmly?" Taminwe was almost shouting. "If Rinnala's expecting, we have a major problem on our hands!"

"That was a hypothetical question," Clark assured her.

"I don't see how you're so certain. Dunmer don't know when they're becoming fertile, and it usually comes as a surprise."

"They may not see it coming, but that doesn't mean that others don't. Morgiah had noticed that she'd gone from her early phase of wanting all the men to have sex with her, to wanting them to fall in love with her first, and then have sex. Apparently I was the first one she'd gone back to for more, and she'd remembered that turning point from her own younger days. Barenziah naturally had her own reasons for telling her daughter all about that. So Morgiah had been extra-vigilant in making sure that Rinnala was being careful, before she needed to."

"Oh, right Barenziah's there in Mournhold! So that's what the Tiber Septim reference was about."


Rinnala couldn't hear what they were saying, of course. She still wanted to know if that would affect how Clark felt about her.

"Of course a man feels differently about the mother of his child," he replied. " And he might feel another way about a woman who was pregnant with somebody else's. And it matters whether he has a wife already, or if he's an Emperor or a beggar."

"Stop teasing her," Taminwe told him. "She doesn't want general answers. This is about you and her."

"Not if we're discussing pregnancy," Clark corrected her. "Once she admits that she isn't, we can get personal again. And she's the one who started the teasing, so she can take the consequences."

"Not the best turn of phrase in the - hypothetical - circumstances. Don't tell her that!"

"I'm not, but I've been talking to my grandmother about her young days, and the first time she was expecting."

"Told you so."

"And I imagine your mother knows that," Clark sent. "Did she suggest your line of inquiry?"

"I'm assuming that Morgiah wants her to move on to the next phase, of wanting men to fall in love with her, so she can control them. That's where Morgiah herself seems to be stuck," he told Taminwe, as he waited for Rinnala's response.

"So that Rinnala can control them, or does Morgiah expect to be doing that?"

"Good point, but there's not a lot of difference until she starts to assert her independence."

"Actually it was both mother and grandmother. I think they both see some advantage in having a string they can pull in Cyrodiil. Or is it Orsinium? Who do you work for, anyway?"

"I'm never sure if it's Sanguine or Dibella," he replied. "The Red Dragon Club pays me, but my loyalty is to my friends."

"Am I a friend?"

"Now you've stopped pretending to be pregnant, you are."