Part 47 - Ragged Flagon

Serana wasn't in the Bee and Barb when Clark went there, but Sapphire was. Clark beckoned her over to his table, and ordered a couple of drinks from Talen-Jei.

"I've been meaning to ask you ever since I saw you in here; what's your real name?"

"Look, I don't really know you. I don't even really know anyone here. Why do you care anyway? It's not like we're family. This is a business. Look, you want to know about me? All right, I'll tell you. I'll tell you about the time I was a young girl, barely out of her teens... living on a pig farm in the middle of nowhere. Didn't have a coin to spend between our entire family. Ate the same slop we fed our livestock."

"That sounds horrible," Clark responded.

"Oh, wait... it gets much better. How about the fact that our farm was attacked by bandits, and that they killed my entire family who didn't even brandish a weapon against them. Here's the best part. They took me as a prize, and violated me for a fortnight. Tossed me from bandit to bandit like... like..."

"You don't have to go on."

"It's fine... I had to tell someone I suppose. Carrying around a weight like that... it hurts after a while. Cuts you inside like a dagger to the heart. Over time, I managed to gain their confidence. Then one night I grabbed a knife, waited until they fell asleep and cut their throats. I never returned to that pig farm you know. There's nothing for me there. So that's my sad story. What do you think?"

Clark reached into his pocket and pulled out Glover's letter, and laid it on the table in front of Sapphire.

"What's this?" she asked.

"Read it, and find out."

She did, twice. "I... I can't believe it. All those years on the farm, and my mother never told me about any of this. Words can't even begin to describe how much I appreciate you bringing this to me. Here, take this. I used to carry it for good luck, but I think you deserve it more than I do." She offered Clark her namesake gemstone.

"No you keep it," Clark told her. "Your father paid me well enough to bring the letter. But you can help me find Serana. I was expecting to see her here, too."

"She's probably still at the Ragged Flagon. Doesn't usually come here until it's a bit darker outside. Come with me, I'll take you down there."

Sapphire knew that Clark wasn't a member of the Guild, even though Karliah amd Gilda were. The Ragged Flagon was open to anyone in the Ratway, if you had the coin, but if he went there alone, dressed the way he was, he'd be the target of every pickpocket, or maybe worse. She didn't doubt Clark could take care of himself, she was more worried about those who might get hurt trying to rob him.

Serana was sitting at one of the tables, chatting to Delvin Mallory.

"Good evening, Uncle Delvin," said Sapphire.

"I ain't your uncle, so don't call me that. I may be old enough to be your father, but that's no reason to give me any lip."

Sapphire said nothing, but put Glover's letter in front of him.

"Glover's your father? I really am your uncle? Well, I'll be..."

Clark left Sapphire with Delvin, and took Serana back to the Bee and Barb. "I'm ready to help you get your mother out of the Soul Cairn, if you're ready to show me the way. What do we have to do to get there?"

"There's a portal back at Castle Volkihar. It used to be a lot harder to get to when the place was full of Harkon's vampires, but it's easier now they've been wiped out. We still have to go around the side of the castle and in the back way, as the passage through to the main entrance is blocked. It's probably a shorter route, anyway."

"And where's the castle? I've never heard of the place."

"Off the coast, west of Solitude. There's a jetty with a rowboat near the Thalmor fort. It only takes a few minutes to row out there."

"But getting to the jetty's going to take a few days. Do you need to travel at night?"

"No, I'll be all right if I just put my hood on. I'm weaker during the day, but my spells aren't, and I can look after myself."

"We'll take my carriage as far as Solitude, then, and I'll leave it at Katla's. Is there anything I should take to prepare me for the Soul Cairn?"

"Nothing special, but you might want a few health potions to use after we go through the portal. I suspect that it will drain you pretty drastically. The bonemen and wrathmen that prowl the place aren't any more dangerous than any of the draugr in this world, and you won't need any special equipment against them. The only real problem will be convincing my mother to come with us."

"You said that she refused to believe that your father, Harkon, was dead. Is there anything we can take as proof?"

"Not really. When he died, he turned into a pile of ash. I have his sword, and his armour, but they aren't unique, and anyone could have stolen them without killing him. In principle, anyway. I can't really imagine anyone getting away with it, while he was alive."

"You'd better take me to where he fell, and if the ashes are still there, I can at least tell your mother I saw them. I assume they're somewhere I couldn't get to if he were alive?"

"That's true. If you can describe the Volkihar Cathedral to her, then she'll know you've been there, at least."

"Watch the gargoyles," Serana told Clark. "I think those are just stone, but sometimes they turn out to be alive." There were a couple of them lying dead on the ramp up to the main door, and two more sitting on pedestals.

Another was in the entrance hallway, looming over them as they walked through to the dining hall. The corpses of several vampires, and one or two in Dawnguard armour, lay around the floor.

"Through there, at the back. There's a door into the cathedral, and Father's ashes should still be by the altar, if these bodies remain."

Clark stepped over the remains of a large hound-like creature, and followed Serana to the rear corner.

Serana pointed at a passageway blocked by rubble. "That used to lead through to the courtyard where my mother tended her garden. I imagine she'll want to clear that if she moves back."