Part 81 - Riftweald Club

"We stil have Ingun to deal with, not that she's ever done anything. Her love of alchemy, especially poisons, has me worried that she might, though." Karliah said, when they got back into town.

"And we just removed all her family, so if she is going to do anything, it might be now." Clark agreed. "But I think we're just going to have to wait for things to work out. Gilda needs to find out from Vex what to do with the Stones of Barenziah, now we have them all, and we also need to do something with Riftweald Manor. It's a waste having a property like that lying empty in the middle of town."

"Did you have any ideas?"

"Well, we could make a start on moving the Guild back into normal society. You've run games of chance before now, dice, cards, that sort of thing. Run them fairly, and people will pay for the entertainment, even if they know the odds are against them."

"So we open a gambling club?"

"Maybe not just gambling. The Guild of Prostitutes might want to join in, and add their services to the mix. Though I suspect most of the profit will come from selling drinks."

"Won't the Bee and Barb object to having extra competition?"

"They'd get a different crowd. Keerava prefers the renters and diners to the drinkers. And they'd probably welcome the loss of Maramal's diatribes. He'd be one of Riftweald's regulars, for certain."

"You've run a brothel or two before, haven't you, Father?" Karliah asked. "What does it take to get one running?"

"First thing is a licence from the Guild, and I can get Vicuņa to come here from Markarth and do the official inspection. We'll need staff, and I know a few likely recruits. Security is less of an issue, and the Thieves Guild will provide that for the gambling side anyway."

Threki was all for the idea. "I'm innocent, not naive. You get me out of this jail, round up some customers, and of course I'll do it."

"What did they put you in here for, anyway?" Clark asked.

"Supposedly being an Imperial supporter, but probably for Sibbi's benefit. I think they were supposed to put me in the cell next to his, so there would only be the bars in the way, if you get my drift. I did have a bit of a reputation, so ..."

"And if they had...?"

"Not with Sibbi. A girl does have standards, you know."

Svana Far-Shield wasn't hard to recruit either. Her aunt Haelga was just a slut, because she didn't ask for money. Letting men have it for nothing was just wrong. Didn't she think she had any value?

Clark was a little worried that Svana had an inflated idea of her own fair price, but she was apparently content to accept Guild guidance on that. She knew that she wasn't allowed to trade without their licence, so she hadn't tested those waters yet.

"But you have ...?"

"Well I had to thank the man that brought me here to Riften when my parents died, and before that, there were a few young men who taught me how. That's before I knew there was gold to be made, or I'd have saved myself, and got a premium."

Niluva Hlaalu would have to do something about her skooma habit before she'd be suitable, but Clark let her know it was a possibility. That might be the only incentive she needed. She did seem surprised that he thought her attractive enough for the job.

"You're not, but that's because of the skooma. Nobody looks their best after doing that to themselves. I think you could be, once you're clean."

When the Riftweald Club opened, nobody was expecting the first applicant for a job. Ingun wanted to know if they had an opening for a bar-tender. "I mix a really good variety of cocktails, and no, they're not poisonous."

Brynjolf was suspicious. "How did you find the time to learn that side of things? You seemed to be spending all your time learning to create poisons."

"Well, if you're going to make poisons, you need to make the antidotes first, in case you have accidents. And so you learn to make beneficial potions at the same time. There's also the issue of taste. A successful poison is one that the victim drinks completely, not something he spits out because it tastes foul. So you learn what flavours go together, and what makes something taste innocuous, when it isn't," she responded.

"My grandmother naturally thought that everyone should be drinking her mead, so she didn't exactly encourage me in any of it, although she did pay for my alchemy training. Now she's not around, those funds have dried up, and I need to put my skills to use earning my keep."

"Ah, so Elgrim and Hafjorg have kicked you out?" Brynjolf asked.

"No, but they weren't paying me, and I can't afford more lessons if I don't have an income. They don't need anyone else to help run the shop. It barely does enough business to support the two of them."

"Hmm, we weren't actually planning to have a bar as such. It takes up a fair bit of space, and we want as much as possible for the gaming tables. All the rooms upstairs will be in use for other services, of course. Drinks would be brought out on a tray from the back room, so we could use a waitress to do that."

"So I'd be taking the orders, making the drinks out back, and then bringing them out and delivering them?"

"Right. That way the gamblers don't have to get up from the games to go fetch their own drinks. They'd never leave their cards behind, and the others wouldn't trust them not to come back with a better hand, so they'd only be able to do that between rounds. And you couldn't deal another until they got back, so it would slow play down."

"Won't the gamblers think a waitress is just another of the ... upstairs women?" she asked, slightly worried about where this was leading.

"I won't try and pretend that won't happen. But it's your choice whether you play it that way or not. If you choose to join the Guild, and I don't mean the Thieves Guild, then you'd be allowed to combine the jobs. If not, you're strictly serving drinks, and we'll make sure the customers know that. Maybe give you a uniform, so they can easily tell the difference."