Ystrel's Tale

The Hero of Kvatch paid a visit to the new Riders' Lodge, to see what came of his dealings with the High Chancellor. Magnus, the barkeep, sent him up the stairs to introduce himself to Gudrun, the new Captain.

"Well met," she beamed, sensing that this was someone she should get to know. "I gather we have you to thank for getting Ocato interested in the Mountain Riders. We wouldn't have this place if you hadn't found that book for him."

The Hero couldn't help noticing that Gudrun's version of the Riders' uniform was even more revealing than the lesser ranks'. When he met her eyes again, she remarked that it was all part of the recruiting effort. It was her job to project the glamour of the job, not the dangers and the arduous conditions of the patrols. The well-appointed Riders' Lodge was part of that same plan. It also served to keep up the morale of the Riders.

Gudrun was happy to admit that she was making the most of the opportunity. As a Nord, she didn't regard Bruma as particularly cold, and she had a nice comfortable office indoors anyway. She got to pick her own furnishings, recruit her own staff, and the duties were light. She really only had to look good, and accept any applications to join from suitable candidates.

"And talking of recruits", she said, "we found one already. She's gone through her training. The Legion let her have a few days off to go back to her home town before she reported here."

High Chancellor Ocato had asked her to set up patrols in the Valus Mountains, as well as the Jerrals. She wasn't sure if it would work out. There's no snow in those mountains, so wouldn't they need brown bears? Well, the first step was to get someone from the area.

"Ystrel should have been here two days ago. If you're heading to Cheydinhal, could you ask if anyone there knows where she is?" the Captain concluded.

The Hero was indeed headed in that direction, so he agreed to Gudrun's request.

The Hero described Ystrel to the guard at Cheydinhal's West gate. He remembered her armor, at least. "The girl in the strange uniform? I heard she got tossed into jail. Ask Dervera Romalen about it, over at the Newlands Lodge. She'll tell you all about it."

The Lodge was right there by the gate, so that was easy. The Dunmer innkeeper remembered her somewhat better than the guard had. "Yes, she was in here for a drink the other night. Spent her last Septim on wine, and then some stupid Orc tried to fondle her buns. Got himself slapped right out the door onto the street! She's got a really nice backhander, that one!" laughed Dervala.

Then a frown came over her face "The guards put her in jail for that."

Several of the other people in the town told him tales of the fines the guards were levying these days, so it wasn't hard to figure out that Ystrel just hadn't been able to pay. In that case, getting her out should be simple enough.

The fine was more than he expected. Weren't fines supposed to be the same across the whole of Cyrodiil? He'd have to find out more about that later. The guard opened her cell and let her out.

She confirmed Dervala's account. "I was in the Newlands Lodge having 'one for the road' on my way out of town. I'd just spent my last bit of gold on some wine, when an Orc took my skimpy uniform as an invitation. I gave him such a backhander, he went flying out the door into the street! But that brought the guards in. They usually don't care what happens inside the bar, but when it gets outside, they take action. Everyone said it was the Orc's fault, even he admitted that, but the guards said I hit him, so it was a fine or jail for me. Since I'd just spent all my money, here I am."

"And you should be in Bruma" he reminded her. "Get your uniform on, we need to go".

Back outside Bruma, Gudrun was waiting for them. "Good, you've brought Ystrel just in time to meet her bear. He just arrived from Skyrim. We should go out and get them together right away!"

They all went out to the side of the lodge, where a white bear was waiting. It sniffed at Ystrel, and backed away from her.

"I have a problem" said Ystrel."The bear won't let me get onto his back. He seems to understand I'm Legion, but he doesn't think I'm a proper Rider."

The Hero had noticed the bear sniffing at her, and thought he might know the problem. First he asked Gudrun what she liked to eat. "Beef, onions and potatoes, washed down with a good beer. Of course, I have to watch how much of that I eat, or get more exercise."

Ystrel's answer confirmed his suspicions. "Ham and cheese, with lettuce, tomato and a loaf of bread. I prefer a wine with it, but it doesn't have to be anything special, like Tamika's. I'm not really choosy, that's just what I was brought up on."

He explained to Gudrun that bears have a keen sense of smell, and Ystrel just didn't smell like the Nords he was used to. You are what you eat, and Ystrel hadn't been eating the Nord diet, so her scent was ... foreign.

"So you're saying that bears want their riders to smell of stale beer and radish farts?" asked Gudrun "That's what most of the men around here smell like."

The Hero pointed out that a woman wasn't going to smell like a man, any more than a Dunmer would have the same scent as a Nord.

"So we just need to feed Ystrel the local diet for a while, you think? Couldn't we just get her to dab some ale behind her ears?" Gudrun pondered a monent "We'll do both!"

A week later, he was passing Bruma again and looked in at the Lodge. He met Gudrun first.

"We had Ystrel eat like a Nord, drink like a Nord, and sleep with a Nord" she told him "Actually that last part was her idea. She is a Dunmer, after all. But finally the bear likes her. Let's hope he doesn't think the Valus Mountains smell strange!"

Gudrun smiled broadly. "Go talk to Ystrel, I think she has something for you."

The Hero walked into the bar to find Ystrel sitting at a table with a mug of ale, rather than her usual wine. "There's more to that scent thing than I realized. After a few days of Nord diet, the Nord men seemed a lot more attractive than before. I mean, more than just a few days without would account for. I hope it hasn't put me off everyone else! Anyway, I think I owe you something for all your help. I hope you like this!".

Ystrel handed him one of the toy bears. Somehow, it was just the right reward.