Part 3 - Markarth

"My brother and I are among the few that still use the patronymic," Gorza gra-Bagol was telling Clark. "Most Orcs are living in the strongholds these days, where everyone's the same family, and it's obvious who your father is."

"Or roaming around the wilderness as a bandit," her brother Moth concurred. "Those Orcs don't want anyone to know about their family origins."

"But we persuaded our father to let us join the legion," Gorza continued. "The Orcs owe them something for bringing us to safety after the sack of Nova Orsinium. At least, that was our pitch, and he bought it. So we use his name from pride, and gratitude for our freedom. If I'd stayed in the strongholds, I'd probably have ended up as some lowly chief's third wife by now."

She didn't need to point out that she wouldn't have had the choice of which chief it was. Clark was quite familiar with Orc society, and how it had changed after Orsinium fell.

He'd lost touch with Uzgash when that happened. He knew she'd escaped, as he'd had one last transmission on the flash telegraph about a couple of days after it happened. She, and their young son, were on their way to the Wrothgarians, where Ulicetta's hideout was. Presumably the apparatus had broken after that, as he never received another transmission. They were fragile, and not suited to use on the run.

Gorza was telling them how using her father's name helped her feel part of the tribe still, even though they were living in Markarth. "But what's going to help you remember your mother? Women's names don't get used that way."

Clark disagreed. He pointed out that Gortwog's children had all gone by the name gro- or gra-Marghak, after their mother. "She was a Guild head, after all. It was a name to be proud of."

She was surprised that Clark knew that. Orcs themselves recalled little of that period, remembering only the disaster of the sack. Perhaps that was because most of their records were destroyed at the time. She'd done some delving back into her own past, using Understone Keep's archives, but that's where her research had hit a wall. "I know we're descended from one of Gortwog's daughters, the middle one, but I haven't found out her name. And I'd read about Marghak, but didn't know she was her mother. That's another step closer to our past, and I'm grateful."

"Her name was Uzgash, and I'm even more pleased than you are. My own research has been from the opposite end, and you've just closed an important gap for me, too. The Empire has surviving records, but they don't cover the Orcish diaspora, and there are only details of Gortwog's family because of dealings with the provincial court, and guilds."

"Do you know who Uzgash's husband was? The family's oral tradition says it wasn't an Orc."

"My investigations have suggested she didn't want his identity known. Perhaps, like her mother, she never married? Whatever her reasons, she seems to have maintained that secret. It certainly hasn't turned up in any books."

"You Imperials and your books! Thank you for bringing that one for my apprentice Tacitus, by the way. It does seem to have helped him understand what I'd been telling him about forging. Why he can't just watch what I'm doing and copy it, I don't understand. But he only gets it if it's written down!"

And thank you for changing the subject. Clark thought. "Has he read Cherim's Heart? It's a good companion to the one I brought you. I'll look out for a copy, if he hasn't."

Vicuņa at the Markarth brothel.

"You're not from around here, are you?" Clark asked.

Velith Telvanni wasn't a Nord, but she wasn't exactly your average Dunmer, either. Her dark skin and white hair gave her a striking appearance on their own, and those breasts were just incredible. It wasn't their size, significant though they were, so much as the fact that they didn't droop in the slightest degree. Gravity just didn't seem to affect them. Her outfit was almost non-existant at the front, and certainly offered no physical support.

"You like them?" she asked, noticing Clark's gaze.

"Depends. Is Alteration or Illusion involved?" he replied. "They do look literally incredible."

"Which would you prefer?"

Clark had experience of both, and Illusion just left him feeling cheated. If she was only using Alteration to keep them supported, that would be perfect.

"Of course, I have used some Alteration magic, but just to regulate their growth. With my mother's guidance, too. I might have let them grow too much, without her restraint. I have enchantments on my clothing that helps keep them up. Especially the amulet, which I don't need to take off. I suspect that's what you noticed. Levitation is one of my family's specialities, and this much is legal, even in Cyrodiil."

A novel use, Clark thought, and one he should learn, if he got the chance.

"My mother and father are both Telvanni wizards, and are still in Morrowind. They moved nearer to Blacklight after the eruption of the Red Mountain, and are growing a new tower. That takes time, of course, and I came to Skyrim while it developed. Maybe I'll move back once there's room for me, maybe not. By that time, I might want a place of my own."

Clark knew what Dunmer maidens were like when they were young, and Velith, or Vicuņa, as she preferred to be known, was clearly past the indiscriminate stage. She was into the much more enjoyable one where she had enough self-control to choose her partners, without blunting the desire. Which made her the perfect whore, and she knew it.

With her Telvanni intelligence, and magical skills, as well as that incredible body, she'd risen fast in the Guild's ranks. Like Marghak in the early years, she'd seen that the top jobs were jealously guarded and fought over, and had taken the less contested position of traveling inspector. She had enough autonomy to go where she chose, except when there was an inspection to make, and those were largely on her own schedule. The Guild had a bed for her, anywhere she went, and it was her decision whether to share it or not.

His dossier on her told him she usually did. She had a reputation as a hard bargainer, but most likely it was because of her use of her feminine methods of persuasion. It covered the visual impact of her appearance, although it failed to go into all the details Clark was noticing. Nowhere did it mention that she didn't shave, like most of her colleagues, but flashed a bright white tuft of pubic hair like a deer's tail. Clark had managed not to spend too long looking there.

She couldn't have (un)dressed like that on the streets, of course, but here in the Markarth brothel, she was free to flaunt everything, and distract Clark from his negotiations in any way she pleased.

She obviously had a dossier on him, too. She'd brought in wine from Skingrad, although it was only Surilie Brothers, and not the Tamika's he preferred. Her chances of finding that in Skyrim were slim to none, he thought ruefully. Nobody would ship it to the provinces when they could keep it and drink it. He had a few bottles stashed at Breezehome, but he'd brought those from Cyrodiil himself.

"Bring it to the bedroom," she told him, "We might as well be comfortable while we discuss things."

Clark followed her, watching the sway of her hips, and wondering if she walked like that out of habit, or as a conscious ploy. Either way, it was worth watching.

Vicuņa reminded Clark of Goldie, the Aureal at Gweden all those years ago. She was a visual feast, too, and an incredibly skilled lover. But her only objective was the shared pleasure, with no ulterior motives. He'd learned a lot from her, which had helped when he met ...

Clark hadn't thought about Taminwe for a century and more. She'd wound up the spy operation at the Red Dragon Club when Ocato was assassinated. The Club went back to just being a gentlemen's club, and Taminwe went to join her distant cousin Medora at Direnni Tower on the Isle of Balfiera. She hadn't told Clark she was expecting his child, and he'd never have known if she hadn't involuntarily called out to him, telepathically, during the birth.

He almost wished she hadn't shared that with him. He felt the pain, as well as the joy.

"Reman for your thoughts?" asked Vicuņa.

"You're not telepathic, at all, are you?"

She shook her head. "That's an Altmer thing, not a Dunmer one. Why do you ask?"

"I am, slightly, and sometimes I catch stray thoughts from faraway places. It can be quite distracting."

"Then I should make sure I have your full attention, shouldn't I?"

"I think you deserve that," he agreed.

The young Dunmer was nowhere near as skilled as Taminwe when it came to negotiating. The pleasure was just as intense, but she just couldn't take advantage of her partner as much as the Altmer could. And she hadn't had anyone like Clark turning the tables on her before.

She knew she was giving ground on Clark's proposal for a brothel at Left Hand Mine, and she really ought to stop before she conceded more, but she didn't want him to stop, especially now. He sensed that, and knew he had all that he needed. And he knew what she needed, and it had nothing to do with this deal.