Part 17 - Gallus' Journal

Enthir met them in the Frozen Hearth. Neither Gilda nor Karliah were members of the College, so they weren't permitted into its grounds. "You've got a fair amount of skills in the magical arts, aren't you a member?" Gilda asked Clark.

"Not here." Clark replied. "I learned most of my spells in Cyrodiil."

"College or Synod?" Enthir queried.

"A bit of both. The local guildhalls weren't divided between them when I picked up most of mine. And I've learned most of my summoning spells from other sources."

Clark was glad he didn't have to explain all of those. He could only summon Saints and Seducers in the Shivering Isles, and he suspected none of these folks had ever met one of those. Winged Twilights and Daedra Seducers were just as foreign. He'd summoned them in Tamriel before, but not here in Skyrim.

"Show Enthir the journal," Clark prompted, to change the subject.

"This looks like Ancient Falmer to me," the elf told them, after a quick perusal. "Not a language I know."

"So who does?" asked Karliah. "We need that journal translated, before I can show it to the Guild."

"The expert on this is Calcelmo, in Markarth, but you won't persuade him to do it. He'll be too busy with his excavations. He never was much for cooperation. Didn't want anybody else taking credit for his work, even if they did most of it."

"So what do we do?"

"Search his laboratory, see if he has a dictionary, or anything like that. I can probably make sense of this if I just know what the words mean. The elven languages do have similar sentence structures and grammar, even if the words are different."


When he entered the Markarth brothel, Clark was astounded to find Rhiada, in her final month of pregnancy, sitting naked at the desk. She stood up and strode, not waddled, across to greet him.

"Did Vicuņa make you an amulet to take the weight off your feet?" he guessed.

"The amulet just supports my breasts," she replied. "The shoes are carrying junior for me. Separate enchantments makes more sense, as I'll need the amulet until he's weaned."

"And your clothes got too tight?"

"Actually, I do have a loose robe I could be wearing, but here in the brothel, nobody minds me being nude. Especially the men."

"And since she's a member of the Guild, they can pay her to pat her belly, and squeeze her tits." Vicuņa told him.

"They do that?"

"Oh yes. It's considered lucky to pat an expectant mother's baby bulge, and make her baby feel welcome. The friendly squeeze makes Rhiada feel good, and a generous tip helps, too."

"So Rhiada's settled in nicely, how about Betrid?"

"To start with, she was difficult. She thought she was worth more than she was getting, being Temple-trained and all. And she tended to perform, rather than do what her client wanted. But then one of them got impatient with her and slapped her butt and told her exactly what she was going to do for him. Nobody had ever done that to her before, and she was shocked, but discovered that she liked it. Not too hard, of course, real pain would be against Guild rules. I've told all the men they can spank her if she misbehaves, and it will only cost a little extra to do that. So now she's making more gold, and everyone's happy."

Vicuņa had a question for Clark. "Did you ever open that other brothel outside the walls? The one we negotiated over?"

"No, but I've made an offer for this place. Thongvor's not interested in running commercial establishments. He's not like his late brother, at all."

Gilda returned from Understone Keep late in the evening with a large piece of paper she'd used to take a charcoal rubbing from a stone in Calcelmo's laboratory. "I had to give Calcelmo's nephew Aicantar a rubbing to get this, if you know what I mean. I hope it was worth it."

"I hope you pointed him in our direction if he likes that sort of thing," Vicuņa added. "He's not one of our regulars."

"I doubt he gets the chance to leave the keep," Gilda replied. "His uncle has him working full-time on the excavations, or examining the things they find. I bumped into him in the laboratory, taking a Dwemer spider apart. He was surprised to find me there, but quite helpful ... after I'd persuaded him a little."

"Oh, and I picked this up on the way out. Any idea what it is?" Gilda held up a bronze cube, that seemed to be made up of pieces that slid or turned in various ways. You could probably take it apart, if you moved the parts in the right directions, in the right order. Clark fiddled with it for a while, and handed it back.

"See if Delvin Mallory has any use for it," Karliah suggested. "He collectes oddities like that, and he might give you a decent price for it."

Gilda already knew that. She'd sold a bee sculpture she'd found at Goldenglow to him, and a couple more items from her other jobs.

Mages in the Frozen Hearth.

They travelled back to Winterhold together and took rooms at the Frozen Hearth. They found a group of young mage apprentices carousing in the bar, clearly celebrating something, perhaps a birthday?

"No, better than that. They happen every year, and this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. We found a huge magical Orb in Saarthal, and they're calling it the Eye of Magnus. The Arch-mage thinks it's extremely important, perhaps the greatest magical find ever!" the Nord told him.

"It wasn't 'we' that found it," The Khajiit corrected him, "It was Brelyna. You and this one were collecting minor artifacts in the rest of the ruins, Onmund."

The young Dunmer looked embarrassed at being the center of attention, but she nodded assent to the Khajiit's version. "Thank you, J'zargo. I couldn't have done it without Tolfdir's help, of course."

Clark couldn't help thinking that if she didn't want attention, she should have kept more of her clothes on. Then he saw the dice on the table, and guessed what they'd been playing. He wondered which of the others could do telekinesis, and whether Brelyna knew that.

"It looks like the same text in Falmer and in Dwemer. Fortunately I know the latter, so it should be straightforward to match up the words. Give me a couple of hours, and I should have the journal translated for you."

Enthir took the paper and the journal and sat at a table in the Frozen Hearth's basement.

He was working on the last page when he called Karliah over. "Does this make sense? I've never heard of a Twilight Sepulchre, so I'm not sure if I've got that part right."

"Let me see." she replied. "Oh, no! if this is what really happened, then Mercer has the Skeleton Key!"

Gilda looked puzzled, but Clark had heard of the Skeleton Key before. Dralsi, Minx and he had used it to open the Ebonmere, the portal between Evergloam and the Twilight Sepulchre, so that Nocturnal and the Nightingales could pass freely between the realms. If Mercer had taken the key, that would now be sealed, and Nocturnal would not be happy. The portal near her shrine outside Leyawiin had been closed long ago, and the Ebonmere had taken its place.

"If I were you, I'd check the vaults at the Guild. If Mercer turned on Nocturnal, he'd have done the same to the Guild." Clark didn't know that the Guild had any vaults, he hadn't been there, but it was a reasonable assumption.

"We need to get to Riften as fast as possible." Karliah told Gilda. "I'll see you at the Ragged Flagon. I need to get another horse along the way; Mercer killed mine."