Part 7 - The Warrens

Vicuņa ignores the book.

Vicuņa was lying on her back on the bed, studiously ignoring the book next to her. "How do you know I haven't cheated, and memorised the book while you were out?"

"You can cheat as much as you like," Clark told her, "but if I catch you out, you'll have to persuade me to forgive you, as well as completing your assignment. ... And how do you know I won't switch books?"

"Well I haven't read it, so it wouldn't matter," she replied. "My plan tonight is to let you tire yourself out before I start reading, so you won't be able to distract me so much."

"But now you've told me, won't I just take it slow and easy?"

"I hope so, that's what I'm in the mood for tonight, after all the fighting today."

"Yes, I'm sorry our little outing got spoiled by the Forsworn. I could have done without them too."

He didn't mention the incident outside the shop. That had been Forsworn again, if the guard could be believed.

"Since you didn't get round to reading last night, you can do it now," Clark said,as she lifted her head from his shoulder and yawned. "Yes, it's morning already."

"But don't I get any credit for that? You wanted me to read it last night, and I put it off until morning. So I got my own way on one thing, at least."

"That's not what I'm trying to teach you. You get what you want if you ask nicely, and you know how to do that already. What you need to learn is how to concentrate on two things at once. We're just using a book as one of them, and the other is something you should able to do without having to think."

"But I can't just ignore you, It would spoil it for both of us."

"I'm not asking you to do that, but to broaden your attention to include the book as well. You had the right idea the first night, although you didn't quite get it right. The story in the book, and what we were doing, became merged in your mind. You need to keep them separate, but pay attention to both."

"That sounds difficult."

"It is, but it's very rewarding when you master it."

Clark placed the book on the low cupboard beside the bed and had her bend over it. "Read it out loud if you find that helps," he told her, "or better yet, tell me what you're reading in your own words. That will help you concentrate on the meaning, not just the marks on the page."

"This is the part where Straw and Barenziah are in Riften, but it's spelled differently in the book. Is that a mistake?"

"Did I miss my target?" Clark asked, innocently.

"Not you, silly, the book. It's says Rifton, with an O, not with an E. Is that the same place?"

"Yes, but the spelling may have been different back then. This is all at least five hundred years ago, and things change. Even that book. You may notice I found the older edition with the next part intact."

"Oh, yes. I see what you mean. Barenziah's offered to bed Therris if he sponsors her as a member, but the version I read before didn't say what happened next. I always assumed she went to his room, but they're doing it right there in the bar-room! With everybody watching."

"So tell me what's happening."

"She's sitting on his lap, and he's undone her shirt and pulled it down around her waist. It doesn't say if she's got big ones, but apparently the Khajiit likes them. I think he's just looking at them, not licking them, or squeezing like you are." She paused to move his hands slightly. "Just there, that's where I like it."

"And then she's undone his pants, and he's inside her, ... "

"Keep going," Clark urged. "What are they doing now? This, perhaps?"

"This is almost as disappointing as the newer editions. It says she blacked out, and then just resumes with her doing her shirt back up. Oh! now I see why. I didn't know Khajiit were different."

"Really? You've never tried one?"

"No, and I can't imagine what it would feel like. I mean, I know most of it would feel just like this, but the barbs have to make a difference."

"So take a few moments to imagine, and tell me how you think it would be."

"Well it's got to be more intense. I don't know if it would actually hurt, not if she was as wet as I am."

"Do you think she really blacked out?"

"No, I expect the author of the book was a man, and she just couldn't explain it to him. I couldn't put what I'm feeling now into words. But I do know that I'm not going black out and miss any of it! I just might have to stop talking for a bit while I ..."

Clark couldn't have agreed more. He didn't say anything either.

"You were much better that time. It's just a question of keeping your mind on what you want, and not getting distracted. It might not take all five volumes after all. "

"Oh yes, it will. I insist on my full course of training, even if it's just for practice. If I've got the basic idea, there will still be subtle stuff I need."

"We'll see. I have to go down to the Warrens today and look around a bit. I'm trying to find out more about the Silver-Bloods' connection to the Forsworn."

"Be careful, the Silver-Bloods can get away with anything they like in this city. It seems like they own everything, and that might include the Jarl."

"If the Thalmor don't own him. I've noticed they have a presence in Understone Keep, and the Silver-Bloods don't. No, if they had that much influence, there wouldn't be a Shrine to Talos." Clark was undecided about Jarl Igmund.

As Clark had expected, the Warrens were almost deserted during the day, but he used his invisibility as a precaution. Just as well, as there was still someone left behind. Cairine appeared to be too sick to work. She just sat on the floor, moaning in discomfort, and didn't hear Clark creep past her. He checked all the rooms, not knowing which one was Weylin's, and of course that was the last one, right at the back. All that he found was a note telling Weylin to attack someone in the market. It didn't mention Margret by name, but he might have already been given his target in an earlier note. And the only signature was the single letter N.

Not much of a clue, but maybe it would mean more to Eltrys. Clark headed back towards the door out of the warrens.

"What's that?" A Breton in good-quality leather armour was standing by the doorway, clearly not a resident. "I'm sure I heard something." He cast a detect life spell, and saw Clark's shape at the back of the hallway. Clark let his invisibility dispel, and walked over to reason with the man. It didn't work, and a fist-fight broke out. "No weapons, or the guard will come," Cairine warned them.

Dryston was a tough customer, but Clark's blocking was better, and he didn't land any significant punches. Before long, he was taking a knee, and cursing his luck, and Clark.

"Who sent you?" Clark asked.

"Nepos the Nose. The old man hands out the orders. He said you were getting in the way. That's all I know, I swear!"

Clark bribed Cairine to silence with a cure disease potion. He presumed she was really sick, as she'd been moaning even before she knew there was someone to hear her. Dryston knew what he'd get if he told anyone.

Nepos' house was on the North cliff, at the other side of town. The door wasn't locked, so everyone was probably at home. Clark cast his invisibility and crept into the house.

A couple of servants were working in the kitchen, clearing up after a meal. An old man, who he assumed was Nepos himself, was dozing in a comfortable chair by the fireside. A journal lay on the table next to him. Clark picked it up and put it in his pocket, then re-cast his invisibility. He slipped back out of the house and opened the journal.

It appeared that Nepos was just a conduit for the orders, which actually came from Madanach, King of the Reachmen. Clark had believed that King Madanach was dead, killed when the Nords reclaimed Markarth, but the journal said he was alive in Cidhna Mine, which the city used as a prison. Clark needed to get this information to Eltrys.

Eltrys would be waiting in the Talos Shrine every evening around the same time, in case Clark had anything to tell him. To anyone else, it would appear that he was making his daily visit as a worshipper. Talos worship was just as common among the Bretons as it was with the Nords.

As he entered, Clark heard voices, and decided that invisibility was a good idea. It was; several guards were standing over Eltrys' body, and Clark got the impression he was expected.

"If he turns up, we arrest him for this murder, and let Cidhna Mine do the rest. Nobody gets out of there!"

With Eltrys dead, there was no point in Clark staying to get arrested. He crept back out and went back to the brothel, staying invisible all the way.

There were worse places to hide from the guards, and he did have Vicuņa's training to complete. Eventually, however, he'd have to leave Markarth, and go back to Whiterun.

A few days later, Clark crept out of the brothel in the middle of the night, invisible, and with muffle enchanted on his boots. He made it as far as the stables, where he was arrested as soon as he tried to hitch his horse to his carriage. They had a guard equipped with Detect Life waiting for anyone to try and move that horse.