Part 19 - Honeyside

"It looks like we get a decent supply of ingredients thrown in with the furnishings," Clark remarked to Iona. "And some recipes, there on the table. I'll show you how the apparatus works, and you can try making some potions."

"What sort of potions should I be making?" she asked.

"Right now, any you can. You need practice, to gain experience, and making anything will help. Once your skill improves, you'll probably want potions that restore or fortify health, or let you carry more. A mage would want to fortify magicka, or magical skills, and an archer might make poisons for her arrows, but I'm guessing you're a sword and shield person."

"I can use a bow, but I'm not the sneaky sniper kind of archer," Iona replied. "And my only magical skills are some restoration, and enough destruction to light a fire."

Clark had heard the same from Lydia. Housecarls must all come from the same school.

He helped Iona with her choice of ingredients for her alchemy, as he already knew a lot of their effects. Since she wasn't wasting items on failed mixtures, she advanced quite quickly, and soon had a decent supply of useful potions. "We'll sell the ones you won't use to Elgrim's Elixirs, and re-stock the shelves with ingredients later. Before that, let me show you how the enchanter works, and make that dagger for Gilda."

Clark handed Iona a black robe that he'd taken from a bandit mage. "There's a cheap enchantment on this, that boosts magicka regeneration. You can learn that enchantment by taking the robes apart, and then use a filled soul gem to put it onto something else. Your skill will improve when you disenchant things, enchant new ones, or recharge a weapon using a soul gem. You can destroy weapons, to learn their enchantments, too, but the only one you have at the moment is Chillrend, and it wouldn't be a good idea to destroy that!"

"So are the enchantments for weapons different from the ones for armour and clothing?"

"Mostly," Clark replied. "The weapon ones will usually add damage, each time you strike with the weapon, and those get used up and need recharging. The ones you put on armour are fortifying ones that work continuously, and don't need feeding with soul gems. I prefer the latter, as I can't be bothered with soul-trapping and collecting gems."

Clark made Gilda's dagger, to show her how it worked. He knew that the fire element of the enchantment was fixed, and he could only vary the duration of the soul trap spell. Since he was putting it on a dagger, he considered a short duration to match the fast weapon, but he had second thoughts. "Gilda will probably switch to her other weapon after using this, so I'll give her enough time for the switch and a couple of swings of that." Finally, there was the choice of soul gem. A larger one would provide a larger number of charges, but since she'd be collecting them quickly with this, it wasn't an important factor. Clark made a reasonable guess at how often she'd use it.

"Now it's your turn," he told Iona. "Disenchant that robe I gave you, and then see what you can use the effect on."

"I can't put that effect on my old sword!" she complained. "Only on my armour."

Clark was expecting her to use a ring, or a necklace. It appeared that Iona didn't have either. She wasn't the type to decorate herself, and not knowing enchantments, jewels just weren't of any interest. He gave her a simple silver ring to use.

"You'll probably get better weapons and armour anyway. That ring should be useful to carry around, even after you find better ones," he suggested.

Gilda re-appeared that evening wearing a suit of dark armour that looked like tooled leather. Over it all was a cape, with a hood that incorporated a mask. The only way Clark could recognise Gilda, was the way the top buckles were straining to burst open.

"I take it that's the new Nightingale uniform?" Clark inquired. "It looks a bit tight on you."

Gilda nodded. Maybe she'd said something, too, but the mask muffled her voice.

Clark and Iona helped her out of the armour. Gilda took a deep breath, apparently her first since she squeezed herself into the cuirass. "It's nice armour, but nobody seems to make things to fit me," she complained. "I'll wear my Guild stuff instead. At least I can let out the straps on that."

"I'd keep the boots if I were you. These have a really good Muffle enchantment. And what have you got on the gauntlets?"

"Dual fortifications: lockpicking and one-handed. That's a bit better than the Guild ones, too."

"We didn't have this when Dralsi, Minx and I were Nightingales. I wonder if it's something Karliah developed?" Clark mused. "What do you use to improve it?"

"Void salts. If you can find them. They come from Storm Atronachs, and most of those you'll see are summoned, so you can't collect."

"I think we got some with the furnishings for this place. You didn't use them up, did you, Iona?"

"No, I didn't have any recipes that called for them, and I wasn't going to experiment using the expensive stuff," she replied. "Let me go down and see what we have."

She came back up with three bowls of void salts. "That will improve the boots and gauntlets, and leave one to spare. What does the hood do?" Clark asked Gilda.

"Fortify Illusion. I don't really make any use of Illusion spells, so there's probably no point in using it."

"Not even Invisibility?" Clark was astounded. That was one spell he thought indispensible.

"Not as a spell," Gilda replied. "I carry a potion or two for when I need it. Remember, I can get past most people just by sneaking. Plus, invisibility means your allies can't see you either, and Karliah's an archer."

Clark understood that point. Invisibility was for going in solo, or following someone, out of their line of fire. Gilda would likely be in the lead on her next mission. "Where are you going to look for Mercer?" he asked her.

"All evidence suggests that he's headed for Irkngthand, to get the Eyes of the Falmer. Since it's a Dwemer ruin, we expect automata and Falmer, and maybe bandits outside. A real mix of opponents, and we have to deal with Mercer at the end of it all."

"He'll have all the same enchantments on his gear, and most likely know invisibility and a few other Illusion spells. Do you know Detect Life?"

Gilda didn't. Clark checked his stocks, and the bookshelves in Honeyside, and couldn't find the spell tome for that. They'd have to see if Wylandriah had a copy in the morning.

Gilda, Brynjolf and Karliah set off for Irkngthand together. Clark was a bit happier now that they'd upgraded Gilda's equipment a bit, but still disappointed that he couldn't go with them. He made sure Brynjolf knew he was responsible for Clark's daughter and apprentice. "They'll more likely be looking after Brynjolf," Clark thought to himself. "I should stop worrying, and let them work this out themselves."

He left Iona to look after Honeyside, and keep watch on what Maven and her family were up to, while he went back to Whiterun. Now that Gilda had the Thieves Guild almost sorted out, it was time for him to find out more about the dragons appearing. The only place he knew that had any information on them was Whiterun.

"I don't think that was us," Clark told Lydia."I definitely felt the ground shaking. And that rumbling noise is still going on."

Lydia reluctantly put some armour on, and followed Clark outside. Several other townsfolk were out in the street, peering into the distant mists at the top of the Throat of the World. Something major was obviously going on up there, as they could see flashes of lightning, flames, and perhaps wings, although it was too far to be certain.

The sound of it all was undeniable. If that was really dragons fighting, they were using Shouts that carried all the way to Whiterun.

Then it all subsided, and they saw a black dragon flying north-east away from the mountain. There seemed to be another, that remained circling the peak, so presumably that one had driven the other off. The black one wouldn't be flying over Whiterun, so everyone relaxed, and went back inside as it disappeared from view.

Lydia dragged Clark back into Breezehome, too. He still had work to do.