Part 25 - Proudspire

As Clark and Lydia walked up to the main gate, back at Whiterun, the guards were excitedly gathering on the battlements and pointing towards the Throat of the World. The two joined them, and saw a number of dragons flying around the peak. They could hear the great beasts chanting, all their voices in unison. They couldn't understand what was being said, but it was clear that some important ceremony was taking place. Did this have anything to do with Diablita and Alduin?

A visit to Dragonsreach confirmed that she hadn't returned that way. How long had she been gone now? A week?

"Time in Sovengarde may not pass as swiftly as it does here," Jarl Balgruuf reminded him. "Eternity's a long time, no matter how fast or slow it goes. And I'm certain that she prevailed, or Alduin would have been back for vengeance before now."

Clark needed to report back to Elisif, so he didn't wait for Diablita's return. She might not go back to Whiterun, anyway. Clark couldn't imagine her not telling Balgruuf what had happened; not after he'd put Dragonsreach at risk for her. But she might have other tasks to attend to before that could happen. He just didn't know.

Elisif the Fair.

He handed Elisif the orders that he'd taken from the Justiciar's corpse. They named the agent as Lorcalin, not a name she recognised. But the signatory was Elenwen, the Thalmor First Emissary. They didn't mention Elisif, or Clark, but just told him to kill anyone going to the shrine.

Elisif passed the orders to Falk Firebeard. He read them, too, and put them in his pocket. Nobody said anything. "I'm considering making you a Thane of Haafingar," Elisif announced, as Falk nodded his agreement. "You'll need to purchase property here in Solitude, but I already have reports that you've done enough to help my people. Proudspire Manor is available, isn't it, Falk?"

"It is, if you have the 25,000 gold for the building. It comes with a housecarl, of course, since you'd become Thane. There's only a minimum of furnishing there at the moment, enough to be able to use the place while you upgrade. I can supply better furnishings when you have the funds."

"Then let me pay you for the building now, and we can do the formalities. I'd like to see the place before I know what needs changing," Clark decided.

"Jarl Elisif, Clark is now a property owner in your city. There is no longer any impediment to his becoming Thane, and you have my recommendation."

"Then by my authority as Jarl, I pronounce you Thane of Haafingar. You'll have duties here at the court, but those will be shared with Bryling and Erikur, my other Thanes. We'll let the guard know about your new status, so they won't treat like you were one of the common rabble. And I'll give you a tour of the Blue Palace, so you'll know your way around."

"You're most likely only familiar with the entrance, hallway and the audience chamber, the one we're in now. Follow me to the private sections."

Clark followed Elisif into the corridor at the side.

"The rooms here belong to Sybille Stentor, my court mage, Falk Firebeard, the steward, and Bolgeir Bearclaw, my housecarl. My own is the one at the end." Elisif paused to make sure Clark had registered that.

She turned and led him down the back stairs. "On this level, you'll find the staff quarters, the kitchen and the guest quarters. Bolgeir often sleeps down here, I suspect he likes being close to the kitchen." They walked along the corridor, to emerge at the hallway. Elisif pointed. "Across there is the Pelagius wing. We normally keep that locked, as it's supposed to be haunted. The staff go in and clean from time to time, but reluctantly."

Elisif turned and retraced the corridor to the stairs. "There's one more level below here. We have guests from Markarth staying there at present. Ex-Jarl Igmund and his immediate retinue relocated here after the peace conference. Let's not disturb them right now."

They walked back up the way they'd come down, and Elisif pointed out where Bolgeir usually stood when he was on duty. "He's quite dedicated. Sworn to protect his Jarl, and his wife, and continuing to do so, even now she's a widow. He makes sure nobody disturbs her rest."

Clark got the distinct impression that the arrangement wasn't entirely to Elisif's liking. She made several references to Falk and Bryling's relationship, and the fact that he might not be sleeping at the Palace every night. Sybille was a bit of a night-owl, sleeping most of the day, but you could rely on her staying in her quarters at night.

The final hint was that Elisif's door was never locked. "The Jarl should never be shut away from her people, should she?"

"I'd better go and take a look at Proudspire Manor before I do anything else," Clark reminded her. "I presume my housecarl will be waiting to give me the tour there."

Jordis the Sword-Maiden was a blonde version of Iona or Lydia. She had the same basic steel armour that they'd worn when he first met them, and the same introductory speech about protection and burden-carrying, but it stopped there.

That was because she had to show him around the house, and the opportunity for the other part would unfold as she went. She opened the door at street level, and handed him the key. "We're entering at basement level," she told him. "There's not a lot down here at present, just my little room here on the right. Single bed, not enough room for two. On the left there's space for an alchemy lab, and enchanting facilities, if you choose to have them installed."

The housecarl's room was clean and tidy, if a bit sparsely furnished. Comfortable enough, if you only wanted somewhere to sleep, and stash your gear. The other side was piled with crates and barrels, and straw was scattered everywhere.

The stairs led up to a main floor with an entrance hallway, dining room, and living room. The main door led out to a stairway down to the street, but there was another door that led out to a patio, overlooking the harbour. Most of this floor was devoid of furniture, with just a few broken crates lying among the cobwebs.

On the upper floor was a small living space, with the bedrooms leading from it. The smaller one was empty, and the larger contained just a simple double bed. This floor, too could do with a good cleaning.

"This is the only double bed in the house." Jordis pointed out, sitting on it. "So I assume you'll be using it. Where would you like me to sleep? There's nothing fixed in my duties, but I'm amenable to persuasion."

"Your choice, of course. I should point out that I am Thane in Whiterun and the Rift as well as Haafingar, so I won't always be here. I'm also likely to have duties at the Palace that may continue into the night. In addition, I'd like to get this place cleaned up and refurnished first. That bed looks like it may already have occupants. Ones that bite."

Jordis got up quickly from the bed, and dusted off her posterior.

"So what would you like me to do for you now?"

"Just come with me to the Palace, and we'll arrange for the upgrades. I doubt that it will take long for them to move everything in. While they're doing that, we'll go to Beirand's and see what he has. You'll need better equipment than you have at present."