Part 28 - Stones

"So why are you in Solitude?" Clark asked when Gilda lifted her head off his shoulder the next morning.

"Guild job. They actually sent me to rob this house, or rather, to take a specific item from it. A golden model of a ship. Since I haven't found it in the rest of the house, I assume it's in here, somewhere."

"If it is, I haven't seen it. But then I haven't really looked the place over in any detail. This is only the second day since I bought it."

Jordis opened one bleary eye, and pointed. The ship was on a shelf on the other side of the room, next to a small jewel case with a glowing red gem in it. Gilda got out of bed and went over to take a look. Jordis cuddled up closer to Clark, in case he needed her.

"I haven't seen one of these before." Gilda said, picking up the unusual gem and bringing it back to the bed to show Clark.

"But I think I have," he replied. "There was one just like it at the Blue Palace." He didn't mention that he'd seen it in Elisif's bedroom, or why he'd been there. He had enough complications without introducing that one.

"Other than that, I don't recall seeing any others. That glow alone would make me remember. I have no idea if they're valuable, or just a curiosity, either. But the fact that you found one here just lying around suggests the latter."

"Good point," Gilda agreed. "But do you mind if I take this one to show them at the Guild? They have experts on every kind of merchandise there."

"That would be a good idea. You've got to take them the ship, so you'll be going there anyway."

Gilda gathered up the ship and headed out the door. "I'll start breakfast. Come down when you're ready."

Jordis had already decided what she wanted for the first course.

Clark and Jordis joined Gilda about half an hour later in the dining room. Clark handed Gilda her leathers, that she'd left in the bedroom. She put them on, but didn't bother doing the jacket up until she left the house.

"Is she going to appear every time we do it?" Jordis asked as soon as the door closed behind her.

"No, it could be someone else next time. Who would you like?" Clark replied. "Like I told you, I have two more housecarls. And did I mention the brothel in Markarth?"

"No you didn't. I'm not sure I want to know."

"Information is useful, even if it's not what you want to hear," Clark insisted. "So I'll tell you anyway. We may need to go there soon, to find out what the change of Jarl has meant to business."

When he described Vicuņa, Jordis looked depressed again. "You like really big-breasted women, don't you?"

"Yes, but I like variety, too. Yours are just the perfect size for a housecarl. Did you know Gilda can't use a bow, because hers get in the way of the bowstring?"

Jordis thought about that for a moment. Would she rather have have breasts like Gilda's, or be able to use a bow? She thought of the times her bow had kept her alive, and it wasn't a hard choice. And Clark did seem to like hers, which is what really mattered.

"Get your armour on," Clark told her. "I want to go exploring today, and let you show me how you fight. We need to learn to work together, and a bit of cave-clearing should do it."

He reminded her that she didn't have to worry about him getting killed, but he needed to find out what support she'd need in a fight. "I don't wear physical armour, but I can cast a strong spell, Ebonyflesh, and wards, so not much will get past that. What I don't have is the pool of magicka that an Altmer or Breton would have. So I don't normally do destruction spells, except for an occasional fireball. I'll use my sword, which has the same enchantment as yours, but mainly I'll block while you attack. Understood?"

They left the city and walked down the road towards Dragon Bridge. Before they got there, however, Clark decided to take a turn to the north and look for a cave or something. They were bound to find one in the hills between here and the northern shore.

A pack of wolves on the path gave them a chance to fight together against a weak opposition, and Clark got an idea of which way Jordis would attack, and how likely she was to jump in front of him. A little too likely at present, but that was the way she'd been trained. And he'd not complain when it was a bear or troll, instead of wolves. If he'd been an archer, he'd be cursing her for blocking his aim, but he wasn't, so they could easily adjust.

"Look, a cave!" she announced. Just off the road ahead was a dark opening that probably was the mouth of a cave. Clark cast his armour spell and entered, with Jordis close behind him.

The cave was small, and there only seemed to be one occupant. That, however, was a frost troll, and it had seen them. Jordis rushed the creature, and set it on fire with her first swing. That suprised her as much as it did the troll, as she wasn't used to the enchantment yet. Those wolves had died in one swing, so she hadn't seen how the fire enchantment lingered. But she saw her advantage and kept the troll off-balance with a well-timed flurry of further blows. The flames grew as she did so, doing increasing damage each time. The troll turned, and tried to flee, but Clark cast a fireball in its path. Jordis thrust her sword into its back one final time, and filled a soul gem.

Clark showed her how to recharge the sword, before taking a look round the cave. Among the bones littering the floor, he found the remains of a conjurer, with another empty soul gem in his pocket, and a small satchel of alchemy ingredients. Lying next to him was a spell book, unfortunately one Clark already knew, so he handed it to Jordis. Then he noticed a small jewel case, like the one Gilda had found at Proudspire. There was a glowing red gem in this one, too.