Nocturnal - Part I

"Can I borrow Clark tonight?" asked Minx.

"Is this business or pleasure?" Taminwe laughed. "If it's business, then it will cost you. And if it's pleasure, then that's business. This is a brothel."

"Oh, I just want him to sleep with me, not sleep with me," Minx answered in kind.

Clark came into the room in the middle of this conversation, so naturally it didn't make any sense to him. He asked Minx to explain.

"Last night, I got a visit in my bedroom, my locked bedroom, from a woman dressed in a black hooded cape. She was surprised that I was alone, and asked me why there was no man with me."

"That surprises me, too," Taminwe interrupted. "I'd have thought that you could at least steal one!"

Minx went suddenly pale, which isn't easy for a Dunmer. "That's just what she said! Then she disappeared in a puff of dark smoke, leaving a raven feather fluttering down to the floor where she'd stood. I think it was Nocturnal!"

"So how does this involve me?" Clark asked.

"Well, I know you have experience of Daedra women, so I was hoping you'd be with me if she came back tonight."

"It's not the same thing! They were ordinary Daedra, not Daedric Princesses! The Mazken, Aureal and Dremora are just like us, even if they do get restored when they die. No special powers, just more experience because of their endless lives. And I know Nocturnal's statue is of a woman, but aren't the Daedric Princes supposed to be able to choose sides at will?"

"She was definitely a woman last night!" Minx replied. "Bare-breasted and larger than life, if you know what I mean. I felt like I was really in her shadow."

"If she was expecting to find a man in charge of the Guild, that could explain why she came as a woman," Taminwe reasoned. "So you might get a different visitor tonight."

"If Clark's with me, we'll have both options covered, won't we?" Minx pleaded. "I'm usually not afraid of anything, but I'd still feel better if I wasn't alone when she comes back."

"So why me?" asked Clark. "You already mentioned the Daedra, but I get the feeling it's more than that."

"That part about stealing a man," Minx replied. "That's something I would never do. It just doesn't fit my idea of what the Thieves Guild is about. We take things that the rich people will never notice missing, and give them, or the gold from selling them, to the poor. Or we'll stop a corrupt merchant from cornering the market, by liberating his hoard. That kind of thing."

"I still don't get it," Clark insisted.

"I don't have to steal you. And any of the other men I could just invite, I'd have to tell them about Nocturnal too. Who'd want to get interrupted by her?"

"So you're basically telling me that I'm the only man you think might agree to this? Are you questioning my sanity?"

"Well you did just visit the Shivering Isles," Taminwe reminded him. "That's not too unreasonable an assumption."

Clark rolled his eyes. Taminwe was not being helpful.

"Let's just think about this for a moment. What if Nocturnal's purpose is to steal from you? I don't want to find myself transported to another realm again. I did that once to get a woman's soul back, and it scared me witless, even though I wasn't alone."

"I can't believe she'd do that. Not without giving me a way to steal you back." Minx was trying to be reassuring, but she wasn't succeeding.

"If she does want to steal you, she might try it the old-fashioned way," Taminwe suggested. "Don't tell me you wouldn't enjoy that!"

Strangely that did make Clark feel a bit better about it. If Taminwe wasn't worried about losing him, maybe he wouldn't be in any real danger. And he couldn't help being curious about what Nocturnal would look like. Her statue at the shrine was somewhat featureless, and probably didn't represent anything anyone had actually seen.

"What time did it happen last night?" Clark asked.

"I'm not sure. I went to bed about ten, and I'm sure I'd been asleep at least a couple of hours. So I think it was around midnight, or maybe a bit later."

"Do you think we need to be asleep before she'll arrive?"

"I haven't a clue. For all I know she was hoping to catch me having fun, so she could watch from the shadows."

They decided their best strategy was to be naked in the bed together, so Nocturnal would think she'd got there afterward. Clark wasn't sure that would work, but the prospect of being interrupted by Nocturnal kept a damper on things, even with his arms full of Minx.