Part 41 - Journey to Solstheim

As Vicuņa and Clark left Candlehearth Hall to go down to the docks a couple of days later, a guard spoke to them.

"Can you believe it? The mages have blown up Winterhold again."

He didn't have a lot of detail, just that the Arch-mage had been killed, and several other mages injured. None of the townspeople had been hurt, this time, but they'd been terrorized by some kind of wisp-like creatures that seemed to have been summoned by the explosion.

Clark hoped that Brelyna hadn't been one of those injured. Mjoll was with her, and the guard had only mentioned mages being hurt, so perhaps this happened before the two of them arrived at the College. Their ship was waiting, so there wasn't anything they could do right now, but he'd want to find out as soon as they returned from Solstheim.

The Captain of the Northern Maiden, a Nord by the name of Gjalund Salt-sage, was pacing on the dock.

"Climb aboard. It's not a long trip, but I'd like to get there before dark. We've already got all the cargo stowed, so we can leave right away."

During the short voyage, Gjalund told them how he'd almost quit making this trip. There never was much traffic, with the mine in Raven Rock being closed, and then there was the incident with the masked cultists. He remembered them coming on board on Solstheim, but the next thing he knew, he was back in Windhelm and they'd disappeared. He'd been really shaken up by that, and vowed never to go back.

"But then that Dragonborn woman, the big red one with the horns and everything, came and persuaded me. The ones in the masks had attacked her, and she told me I owed her for it. I still don't know why I agreed at the time, but I'm glad I did. She's got the mine back open, and trade's picked up again."

"So you're bringing ebony back?" Clark inquired.

"Yes, and the unusual Dunmer foods that they like in the Grey Quarter. They don't grow too well around here, but the soil on Solstheim suits them. Makes sense that Ash Yams would do better in ash, doesn't it? That was about all they had to trade before the mine re-opened. A few gemstones, too, but not often."

"So what goes the other way?" Vicuņa asked.

"Just about anything. Cloth, foodstuff, books, other metals, both ores and refined, and the odd passenger or two. Now there's work available, some of the Dark Elf men from Windhelm have been going over to dig the ores."

"I think the Dragonborn has a house in Raven Rock, now. I've seen her in town a few times, in the Retching Netch. That place is busier than it used to be, too, now that everyone has more to spend."

"She does have a house there," Clark confirmed. "We'll be staying with her for a few days, and then visiting a couple of other places on the island. I reckon we'll probably be ready to come back in about a week. Are you still doing this trip on the same schedule?"

"Yes, Morndas to Raven Rock, Tirdas back to Windhelm, Middas To Raven rock, Turdas return, and again on Fredas and Loredas. The only day I don't sail is Sundas. Just find me at the dock, and I'll bring you back."

"I may stay a little longer," Vicuņa reminded Clark. "It all depends on Master Neloth. If I decide to study with him for a while, then I won't be in any hurry to return."

Diablita was waiting for them at the dock. "Shall we go for a drink first, or do you want to drop your packs at the house? We'll be going past the Retching Netch on the way."

"I'd prefer to go the house, and change first," Vicuņa answered. "You're making me feel rather over-dressed."

"I'm not sure anyone else would get away with wearing that little," Clark added. "They'll expect you to act like a Dunmer, not like ... whatever Diablita is."

"But if we're going for a drink, it will be a more relaxed atmosphere. I'm sure I can find something that's comfortable, but still acceptable."

They walked through Raven Rock, and Diablita pointed out the stores. "There's the Retching Netch, then the next building is the Alor House. Fethis Alor sells general goods, and he's always looking for East Empire Company pendants, if you find one. His daughter Dreyla assists, but she'd much rather be back in Morrowind."

"At the Ilenth Farm, Garyn sells food, and his wife Milore is an alchemist, selling ingredients, and potions. Glover Mallory, on the other side, is the local smith."

"Mallory?" Clark asked. "That's not a Dunmer name. Is he any relative of Delvin Mallory, in Riften?" Gilda had mentioned him several times as one of the Thieves Guild.

"Ask him. There he is now."

It turned out that Glover was Delvin's brother. He'd learned to repair bonemold armour from a Dunmer named Vanryth, and there wasn't much call for that particular skill in Riften, so he'd come to Solstheim instead. Work was steady here, repairing the guards' equipment and miner's tools, so he'd stayed. "I'm the only member of the Guild here on Solstheim, not that it means much any more. I'm just a smith these days."

"Did you put that Ancient Nordic Pickaxe to good use, Diablita?", he asked as they left. "You haven't brought me any Stahlrim yet."

"Well, I'm not the armour-wearing type, as you've probably noticed, and the Bloodskal Blade takes Silver, not Stahlrim. If I decide to make something for my friends, I might go find some."

Diablita explained to Clark and Vicuņa that Glover had given her the pickaxe after she persuaded Gratian Caerellius to return it. He'd borrowed it from Glover to use in the ebony mine, but Glover felt it was being wasted there. You could mine ebony with a regular pickaxe, but only an Ancient Nordic one could mine Stahlrim. Glover wasn't going anywhere out of Raven Rock, so he'd given it to her. "I think that it's all on the north side of the island, where it's colder. They certainly know about it at the Skaal village."

Clark knew a little about Stahlrim. He'd once seen the Chrysamere, which had been forged using Adamantium and Stahlrim, two very different materials whose properties complemented each other. He suspected that Chillrend had used it also, as it had the same distinctive blue sheen, and the frost enchantment made it even more likely. "But that tempers like glass, and it's shaped that way, too."

Vicuņa suspected that Stahlrim had been used to make it hold more enchantment. "It would be Stahlrim that brought Neloth here. Enchanting is his field, and that's always been the material of choice, if you could get it."

"That and heartstones," Diablita added. "They're something new, only since the Red Mountain erupted. Neloth thinks they have some of the power of the Heart of Lorkan. He's experimenting with both, in ways that weren't possible in earlier eras."

"Did he enchant your sword?" Vicuņa asked Diablita. "I've never seen that enchantment before."

"No, it already had this when I found it. Neloth told me he'd heard of the Bloodskal Blade before, but it hadn't had the same enchantment. He thinks it may have absorbed the power over time, being buried where it was."