Part 4 - Markarth Temple

Of course, the agreement wasn't final until it was put in writing, and signed. They went to the Treasury House, where such things were recorded, and had the scribe there lay it all on parchment.

Vicuņa read through her copy before signing. She'd been sure last night that she was surrendering everything, but this seemed like a very fair and even contract. "What's this clause at the end?" she asked. "The one about re-negotiating at regular intervals, not to exceed half a year?"

"Things will change, and I don't want the deal going stale because it doesn't get renewed. I'm sure you'll see other benefits, if you think about it."

"Do you expect me to do the negotiating again?"

"Of course, and I can offer training if you think you need it."

Clark's price for training was the secret of that breast-levitating enchantment. There were women in several of his establishments that could benefit from it. Even the ones who had less to carry would look firmer and younger.

Vicuņa took off her amulet and handed it to Clark. Her breasts settled slightly, as their full weight took effect. They were still admirably firm, and held up well on their own, but she didn't look quite as comfortable without the magical help. "I'm going to my room to get another, you can use the enchanting station in the corner to learn how it was done."

It made sense that she'd have enchanting facilities here, as well as spare amulets,. He wondered how many of the other women here were using them. The merchant side of his mind was already considering the market for soul gems.

He quickly understood when he disenchanted the item, that he'd need a lot more skill before he could reproduce this one. There were two parts to the effect, one being the familar Fortify Carry Weight, but the other made it specific to its use, and that was the difficult part.

Vicuņa was back at his side, watching him. "You'll want to visit the Temple of Dibella while you're in Markarth," she told him. "They know a lot there about how to make magicka especially for a woman. There are ways to focus the enchantment, that only they can teach."

"Is that what brought you here?" Clark asked.

"Yes, they know about the Temple as far away as Morrowind. Dibella's not worshipped much there, but the Telvanni are a bit exceptional in that regard. We don't reject any source of knowledge, no matter how foreign. And the Dwemer connection, here in Markarth, is a draw too."

Clark knew the priestesses at Dibella's temple well. He often sent young women he'd recruited for his establishments there for training in the erotic arts. His business and theirs overlapped in many ways, but they weren't exactly in competition. As the Guild required, any payment for actual sex had to go to a Guild member, but erotic displays, training, and other services that stopped short of that were permitted to non-members.

The Dibellans were equally insistent that while what they did would certainly arouse, it was an offering to the goddess. And that should be considered separate from anything it might lead to. If they did anything afterwards, it was because they wanted to, not because someone had just paid them to dance. It wasn't a secret that they got just as worked up by a good performance, but the Guild was tolerant, and let them have their fun.

He'd never really considered them as major magic-users, though, except the common uses any woman would make. But there was a fine line between using it consciously, with an obvious casting like you'd do with a fireball spell, and the way that charm and speechcraft worked. And you could definitely describe some of what they did as a "casting motion", just one that continued as it mesmerised its target.

He resolved to go over to the Temple and make inquiries as soon as he'd given Vicuņa her first lesson. "What you need to learn is how to concentrate on two distinct things at once. One is the pleasure you're sharing with your partner, and the other is the information you're trying to extract, or the argument you're trying get across. So you're going to read this book, while I try and distract you. At any time, I may stop and ask you questions about the content, and I expect the correct answers."

She lay face-down on the bed with the book on the pillow. He let her turn the first page before he started to run his hands over her back, and around to her breasts. She propped herself up on her elbows, to give him better access, and continued to read. She could manage this. The story was interesting, and Barenziah was in a similar situation, so he was just reinforcing what she was reading, and helping her get immersed in the tale. Was he reading over her shoulder? She didn't really care, as the next part looked like something she'd like to do, too.

He couldn't be reading with her now, though. Not if that was his tongue. And the book was telling her about guarding a caravan, and fighting off bandits, just as she was doing the exact opposite and letting him have access to her valuables.

At what he judged was a good moment, Clark rolled her over and asked her what was on the last page. Barenziah had just reached the Morrowind border with Straw, and slept with some of the soldiers. She got that part right, but a lot of the details she added were what she'd just experienced, and weren't in the book at all. Clark let her read it again, and pointed out the differences.

"But that's just volume 1. We'll do another volume tomorrow, and by the time we finish the series, you'll be a lot better at it. Meanwhile, we have something else to finish."

Orla hides.

"There's a man in the Sanctum!" exclaimed Orla, as she hid herself behind a pillar. Her shapely leg stretched out towards her robe, which lay on the floor not far away, and she tried to drag it to her with her foot.

Hamal laughed, and walked over to give Clark a hug. "He's seen the rest of us before, many times, haven't you Clark?"

"In intimate detail." Anwen agreed, taking her turn to embrace him.

"But didn't you tell me we don't let men down here?" Orla asked, peeking around the pillar shyly. She had a nice face, Clark thought, and at least one nice leg, why did she think the rest was anything to be embarrassed about?

He heard the door open behind him and Senna came to join them. She tossed her robe onto the bench next to him and walked around the other side of the pillar to push Orla out into the open. "You've got to get used to showing yourself, or you won't make it past acolyte."

Orla reluctantly lowered her hands and let him see her properly. She was a Nord like Hamal, with the more voluptuous build that usually meant. Senna the Breton was a little smaller, as were the Redguards Anwen, and ...

"Where's your Sybil?" Clark asked. The women looked sad.

"Lost to us recently, I'm afraid," Hamal replied. "We have just performed the Exalted Protocol of the Dibellan Sybil to try and locate her successor. The goddess has revealed to us that she lives in the small mining town of Karthwasten, to the north. If you're travelling that way, could you let her know, and have her family send her to the Temple?"

Clark hadn't intended going that way, but Hamal and the others were good friends, and he had something to ask them in return. "If I do, would you help me to use a new enchantment I just learned?" He didn't ask further about the loss. It was clear to him from the way Hamal said it that she couldn't, or didn't want to, explain.

"Yes, you know I provide Enchantment training," Hamal agreed. "I take it this one is a special one for women?"

Clark explained about the breast leviation enchantment he'd got from Vicuņa's amulet. "Dibella would approve, if she didn't create that herself," the priestess told him. "But without our new Sybil, we might not have the full extent of her blessing."

They explained further how Clark would know when he'd found her. "She's a child? I'd have thought it was a job for a fully-developed woman."

"She does need to be pure when she joins us. So we need to recruit her before she loses..."

Clark understood now. The priestesses would make sure her first time was special, with plenty of ceremony, and probably supportive company to make sure it was done right. And it wouldn't be until she was fully ready for it. She'd have a few years to watch and understand what was involved before she'd be expected to participate. And until then she'd be protected, and trained for the honor of being the Sybil.