Part 13 - Shor's Stone

At Shor's Stone,they found Sylgja and the other miners sitting around a table in front of one of the houses. It was about the time for an evening meal, so that wasn't too odd. But the conversation soon told them that the miners had been there all day.

"What's wrong with the mine?" Clark asked.

"Spiders, that's what! We went in there a couple of days ago and found the bottom of the mine infested with them. No idea where they got in, but they've been moving gradually up, and it won't be long before they're up in the village, attacking us!"

"Can't the guards deal with them?" Gilda asked.

Filnjar spat. "They're as useless as a fifth wheel on a wagon. Spend all their time looking for enemy soldiers out on the roads. It seems they're more worried about Riften than this place."

Gilda looked over at Clark. "How big do the spiders get around here? I've seen them as big as a wolf near the farm, but they don't go around in packs, so they're not bad."

"They vary," he replied. "I have seen them bigger than a bear, but those are rare. And if two that size meet each other, they'll fight. You just have to keep out of the way and finish off the victor while she's still weak."


"The big ones are female. The smallest ones are male, and the middle sized ones could be either. All just as venomous, but the big ones bite harder."

"There aren't any cracks in the rock large enough for the giants, if that's any help," one of the miners offered.

Gilda and Clark headed for the wagon. They needed a few things if they were going to clear the mine. Potions to replenish magicka were the main ones; but they were out of those. Clark rummaged around and found a scroll. "I can use this to summon a flame atronach," he told Gilda. "Spiders hate flame, so use that in preference to your other spells. And keep your sword in the other hand, in case one gets close."

A couple of the spiders spat their venom as soon as Clark and Gilda entered the mine, but Clark already had a ward up, and it did little. While Gilda sprayed flames to keep the spiders back, Clark summoned the flame atronach to finish them. It headed down the spiral ramp, looking for more. They followed, listening to fireballs flying ahead of them. Then there was a pause, and a larger explosion signalled the end of the atronach.

"Let's hope it got most of them," Clark muttered, and readied a fireball spell of his own. He couldn't cast many of those, but they could hit a whole cluster of targets at once. "If there's one, you hit it with your flames; if there's more, then keep back and let me do it."

"There's one!" Gilda announced, and turned on the heat. Clark put up a ward briefly, as he saw the creature try and spit, but it collapsed before it could do so. He looked over the edge, and saw two more starting up the ramp.

"My turn!" he called, and sent a fireball down to meet them. "I don't have enough magicka for another, I shouldn't have used the ward."

"It doesn't look like you'll need it. I can't see anything else moving."

They crept carefully down, watching in all directions, including up. The bigger spiders were especially fond of hiding in a web above you, and dropping behind after you'd passed. But they really were all dead. There was a gap in the rocks where they'd probably come in. It was too small for them to crawl into, but enough for the spiders.

"Do you have a magicka potion?" Clark asked. "I'd like to send a fireball in there, just in case."

"No, you'll just have to be patient. Didn't you tell me that magicka regenerates faster if you relax?"

Clark waited for his fireball to recharge. He kept his sword ready in case anything emerged, but nothing did. Then he fired into the gap, and was gratified to hear the sound of falling rock as the small tunnel collapsed.

"I think we can tell Filnjar his spider problem is over."

"We almost forgot," Clark told Sylgja. "Your mother sent this. She was wondering why you hadn't been home to visit."

Sylgja took the letter. "I couldn't go anywhere for a time. I took a bad fall in the mine, and broke my leg, and there was nobody here that knew enough healing to fix it. I was fortunate that a priest of Mara came by and healed it, before it set crooked. It still feels sore, though, and I wouldn't want to walk all the way to Darkwater Crossing on it yet."

"I wrote a whole bunch of letters while I was laid up, though. If you're going back the same way could you take them? They're in this satchel."

"Why didn't you get a courier to take them?" Gilda wanted to know.

"The couriers may be able to find you when they have a delivery, but have you ever tried to find them?" Clark retorted. "You have to go to a city to send a courier, and Shor's Stone isn't a city yet. Even in a city, you can find the office, not the couriers themselves."

"I met one on the road once," he continued. "Since he wasn't looking for me, he ignored me and just kept walking. One job at a time, no exceptions."

Clark turned back to Sylgja. "We'll take the letters. It will give us an excuse for another dip in the hot springs. But I'm concerned about your leg. If it still hurts, it might not have been healed properly."

"Clark's a good healer," Gilda assured her. "He fixed my broken nose, even after it had set wrong."

Sylgja was convinced. "Come inside, and you can take a look at it. I'm not giving all the men a free show. I get enough attention with my clothes on."

Inside the house, Sylgja slipped her heavy mining pants down and stepped out of them. Clark sat on a low stool and ran his hands over both her thighs. "They feel the same, and I can't detect any trace of the break. If you still have any discomfort, it's probably not there."

"But that's where I feel it," Sylgja answered.

"Did you get any other injuries at the same time?" he persisted.

"Bruises all over, but they're gone now, too."

"Any on your back?"

"Yes, why?"

"Take your shirt off, I need to check your back, too."

Healing Sylgja's Back.

Sylgja was hesitant, but did so. She wasn't wearing anything underneath, which accounted for her reluctance.

Clark managed to ignore the front view, even though Sylgja took after her mother, and turned her around to run his hands down her spine. Sylgja winced as he touched a couple of sore spots. One was low down, near her buttocks. "I think your bruises were deeper than you imagined. This should feel better." Clark sent a healing spell into the damaged tissues, that the priest had missed.

"How did you know to do that?" Sylgja wanted to know.

"Well, I read a lot, and I've been lucky enough to have access to the Mystic Archives, back at the Cyrodiil Arcane University. They had a lot of books there that you just can't find anywhere else, and an archive of research notes from the mage scholars. The College of Whispers and the Synod raided the Archives after the Mages Guild split up, so a lot of that material disappeared."

"But among what remained was material from Ulicetta gra-Kogg. She was falsely expelled from the Guild at one point for suspected necromancy, and her notes locked away from general use. When she was reinstated, nobody thought to release it. I found it, and read it all. It appears that she was working on transplanting body parts from the recently dead to the living. She'd had problems with limbs attaching, but having no feeling, or being paralyzed, and that had led her to research what made sensation and control work. I found it all fascinating, and it explained so much, such as why a spine is hollow."

"I don't have the magicka pool to be a full-time healer. I've invested more in health and stamina, because they're more useful to my lifestyle. What I do have is the skill and learning to make the most of my limited magicka. Some of it is obscure stuff like I just used."

"So that's why you needed fortifying potions to work on my nose?" Gilda asked.

"Yes, and it's why you won't see many healers that do face-sculpting, because the secrets have been lost, and it takes too much magicka. I'll tell you a story about that later."