Part 61 - Dark Brotherhood, Dark Armour

"This makes thirteen, doesn't it?" Clark asked Gilda, back at Honeyside.

"Fifteen," She corrected him. "I just found another up north in a nordic ruin called Yngvild."

"Why were you up there?"

"Vekel asked me to look for a set of books that were supposed to be hidden there. I owed him a favour, so I agreed to take a look. I found a nasty old necromancer and the Stone as well as the books he wanted."

"And the other one?"

"Mjoll just brought me that. Wouldn't say where she found it, but she knew from Brelyna that I was collecting them. Perhaps you can get the story from her."

Clark was better suited to persuading a woman to talk than Gilda was, and Mjoll soon confessed how she came to find the Stone. The part she was most embarassed about was Grelod.

"The old woman who runs the orphanage? What about her?"

"I killed her," Mjoll replied. "I didn't mean to, but I caught her beating one of the kids, and I put her across my knee to see how she liked it. I didn't even hit her, she just clutched her chest and went limp. Of course, the kids all cheered when that happened, the disrespectful little urchins. It took all I knew to calm Constance down, but when I reminded her that she'd be responsible for the orphans now, that seemed to get her back to rights."

"And the stone? Don't tell me they had one in the orphanage."

"No, I got that later. A courier delivered me a note with a handprint on it, and the words 'we know'. Nothing else, no signature or anything. Then that night I woke up in a shack miles away with a masked woman telling me I'd stolen a victim from the Dark Brotherhood. She wanted me to repay them by killing one of the other people she'd dragged to the shack. There were three of them, tied up with sacks over their heads. I don't kill anyone who can't fight back, so I killed the woman instead."

"She was Astrid, head of the Dark Brotherhood, and one of the Solitude guards told me I should report her death to the Penitus Oculatus in Dragonbridge on my way back here. So I did, and they asked me to finish the job by killing all the others at their hideout near Falkreath. That's where I found the stone, in their Sanctuary."

"Just like that. You killed them all, and found the stone."

"Well it wasn't that easy, but now I have Grimsever back, and improved, it's easier than it used to be. I didn't even need Brelyna and her magic this time. They came at me one a time, or I might not have succeeded, but I guess assassins aren't used to teamwork."

"I picked up this book for Brelyna, too. I don't know if she's read this one, but it has the symbol for alteration on the cover. She usually likes those."

If Mjoll was going to do that sort of thing on her own, Clark thought that Brelyna's idea of making her a set of ebony armour was a good one. And Iona wanted to improve hers, too, so a visit to Narzulbur and Gloombound Mine seemed like a good idea. Perhaps Mjoll would want to come along and help dig the ore.

"Almost didn't recognise you with your top on," Chief Mauhulakh greeted Iona as they entered the stronghold.

"What's that about?" Mjoll wanted to know. Iona had to tell her about her bout of fisticuffs with the Orc to gain Blood-kin status.

"Great strategy," Mauhulakh added, "She had me totally distracted. Doesn't just fight well, that one. She can think, too."

"I take it she beat you?" Clark inquired.

"Let's just say I conceded. It's all about putting up a good fight, rather than the outcome."

"We've come to ask if we can mine some more ebony, so I can improve my armour," Iona told him. "Can Mjoll help?"

"Maybe I should ask her to mine topless. It should be just as good from my point of view, and it hurts a lot less!" the Orc laughed, "No, just mine a bit more than you're using, and that will pay us back. There's plenty of ore down there, and every bit of effort digging it is appreciated."

"Can we use the smelter and forge too? It will save us carting it all the way back to Riften."

"Of course, if Dushnamub isn't using them. Give him your surplus ebony when you're done."

With all three of them swinging pickaxes, it didn't take too long to extract the ore Iona needed. There were a few iron veins there as well, and although they didn't need any for their current project, they took some of that up to Dushnamub, too.

"No need to smelt the iron. I don't know if I'll use for steel yet," he told them. "Most of my work is repairing pickaxes, and they use a lot of it."

Iona got busy making Mjoll's equipment. "I'll do all the forge work first, and then improve it all at the workbench afterward, mine and hers."

Pretty soon, Iona realised she didn't have enough leather strips for everything. "I have those," Dushnamub said. "What have you got in exchange?"

"How about my banded iron armour?" asked Mjoll. "I won't needing that any more."

Clark had enough gold to pay for the leather, but Mjoll was already taking off her cuirass, and he wasn't about to stop her.

Mjoll and Iona
The forge at Gloombound.

Iona wasn't going to be upstaged by anyone, so of course her armour had to come off to be taken to the armorer's workbench.

"It's a Nord thing," Clark explained to the incredulous Orc smith. "Mjoll's always saying how she finds the cold exhilarating. I notice neither of them is venturing too far from the forge, though."

"I hope you're not making mine too tight in the chest," Mjoll was saying. "I need more room than you do."

"You do not," Iona argued. "Mine are just as big as yours. Clark, settle this for us!"

"You're both smaller than Gilda, so why debate who's second? If it's just an excuse to argue, I'll find you a pit of mud to wrestle in, and charge admission."

That made both of them laugh, and Dushnamub grinned at the prospect, too.

As if to settle the question, Iona found that she couldn't remember which armour was which, but it turned out that it didn't matter. They really were the same size, at least when it came to the armour fitting them.

Dushnamub didn't do Daedric either. "Although we mine ebony here, I don't even use that. Orcish takes Orichalcum, and tradition's more important to us. I can improve that to the point where ebony's no better, anyway."

Back in Riften, Clark asked Serana about the Fort Dawnguard smith.

"Gunmar? If you want a suit of armour for your dog, or a troll, he's your man. A bit weird, but a great smith. About the only one in Skyrim who knows about making crossbows, too."

"Do you think we could get him to temper Rayya's scimitars?" Clark asked. "There aren't many smiths that can work on Daedric items. I have the ebony it would take, but not the skill."

"Well the problem would be getting to him," Serana pointed out. "I could go there, but I wouldn't want to, given that you-know-who is probably there. They wouldn't let you in, because you're not a member of the Dawnguard. The same with Iona, if she wanted training, she'd have to join them first."

"I know what you mean," Clark agreed. "Eorlund Grey-Mane is the only other smith I know who can train at that level, but you have to be a Companion before he'll do that."