Part 35 - Leaving Markarth

As they left Markarth, a courier came up to Clark with a letter. It was from Diablita, in Raven Rock, letting Clark know that the ebony mine was back open. The East Empire Company had closed it as too dangerous to work, rather than because it was exhausted, and she'd cleared up the draugr infestation. She found herself a nice blade in the process, too.

It went on to say that she'd done a couple of other things for the folk of Raven Rock, including foiling an attempt on the life of the First Councilor. They'd given her the house that the plotters had owned, so she was now an official resident. There wasn't a lot of bed space, though, so Clark should come alone, or with at most one companion.

She was currently going around the island, restoring the standing stones for the Skaal. This was all tied up somehow with another Dragonborn from long ago called Miraak. He was trying to get back to Mundus from Hermaeus Mora's Apocrypha, and his attempt was disrupting the lives of everyone on the island. She'd got some help from an old Dunmer wizard called Neloth, who lived in a giant mushroom that he'd grown from spores from one in Morrowind.

"Vicuņa said something about her parents growing a new tower near Blacklight. That's a House Telvanni thing; none of the other Dunmer houses do that." Clark told Gilda. "Let's go back and let her know about Neloth. She might know him, and want to visit."

'You do that, I want to get back to Riften. I'm supposed to be inducted as Guildmaster, and I want to see who turns up for the ceremony."

"Maven and her brood, you mean? Does she still think she owns the Guild?"

"That's what I'd like to find out. She presumably owned Mercer Frey, but does she see his replacement as just part of business as usual, or what?"

"Be careful, then. She'll have the city guard backing her if it gets ugly."

"Well, of course I know of Master Neloth, but I've never met him myself. My father replaced Mistress Therana on the Council, when the Vivec Guild of Mages tried to have them all assassinated, and in a few cases, succeeded. Neloth, of course, survived, as did Master Aryon, but Mistress Dratha went missing. Master Gothren, the chairman, was at Ald'ruhn when the Daedra hordes sacked it. Nobody survived that."

"Does the Council still operate, now that Vvardenfell is uninhabitable?"

"No, which is probably why Master Neloth has moved to Solstheim. There's no need to be in any contact with the others. And there may also be something there to further his research. His speciality is enchanting, like my father's is teleportation, and my mother's is levitation. It's possible that he may have gone there for the Stalhrim, or some other material that takes enchantment well. Since Solstheim is Dunmer territory now, it would be much easier for him to set up house, even with House Redoran nominally in charge."

"So what's your field? All I know about your use of magic is that you throw a mean fireball, and you enchant amulets with a leviation effect that women love."

"I'm still dabbling in whatever I find useful at the time. It will take me years to decide. Perhaps talking to Master Neloth will give me some ideas."

"Does that mean you'd like to come to Solstheim with me?"

"If I may. I've never been there before, although I've gone to most parts of Skyrim."

"I need to do a few other things before I go there. Why don't I meet you in Windhelm, a month from now. Take a room at the Candlehearth Hall if I'm not there when you arrive."

Clark needed to talk to Madesi about the mechanical dildo. Full power on the prototype was probably a bit excessive, and if he was going to manufacture and sell them, it needed to be reduced. If the Argonian could manage that, he knew someone who might like the next one.

"Limiting the power range is a simple change," Madesi assured him. "In fact, I've already incorporated that feature into the latest one. Mind you, I wasn't actually thinking about the person using it, so much as not overloading the dynamo core. All I needed to do was restrict the movement of the control with a limit screw, ...."

Clark hadn't really been listening past the point where Madesi told him it was already done. He told the Argonian to start making them in quantity.

"I'll need additional workers for that. I can't produce more than one a week on my own."

"Then hire some. I suggest you have each worker produce a piece of the assembly, rather than make the whole thing. That way, they'll all end up the same quality, and you won't have to teach each person everything. And if it's fiddly work, hire women. They're better at that sort of thing, probably from sewing, and similar domestic work. Plus, they can test them for you!"

"Not if they're trying to work at the same time. You need all your concentration for that. And I don't know if Iona would let anyone else do her job."

"Oh, she's been helpful, has she? I'll talk to her about that, and make sure she's properly compensated."

"Madesi tells me you've been working on quality assurance for his latest product."

"Yes, well he brought it round to Honeyside to see if you were home. Of course, you weren't, but I was. So he told me what it was all about, and I'm sworn to carry your burdens, so of course I volunteered. After all, I'd imagine I'd be doing that if you were home."

Clark had to admit that it was a job only a woman could do properly.

"He left a number of them here, and asked me to let him know which one I preferred. They're all different colours, with the red one being the strongest, and the blue one the weakest. The red one's a bit too much. I like the orange one, the next one down."

Clark gathered up the others, and put them in his backpack. He'd be leaving for Solitude the next day, and he'd see if Madesi had another orange to restore the set.

Elisif surprised Clark by preferring the green one. "I need to be able to keep quiet," she reminded him. "The yellow makes me moan, whether I want to or not, and the red one would have me screaming!"

She was intelligent enough to know without asking that Clark wouldn't be around the court much in the next few weeks. "Where are you heading for?" she wanted to know.

Clark told her about Diablita's letter from Solstheim.

"She's the Dragonborn? I'm glad to hear she's left the mainland. The Thalmor are still stinging from the visit she paid to their Embassy a short time back. It seems that Elenwen was tricked into inviting her to one of her parties, and she slipped out through the torture chambers with some stolen dossiers. I believe a few prisoners got loose at the same time. Anyway, they're still hunting for her. That could be why you haven't been invited there yet. They're a lot more careful with their background checks these days."