Part 82 - Ingun

When Ingun came back the next day, Brynjolf handed her an apron, and a small starched hat. "Try these on, and we'll see how you look."

He was a bit surprised when she took them into the next room to do so, but even more when she came back wearing nothing else!

Ingun wants the job

"You really want this job, don't you, lass?"

"I really NEED this job," she replied.

"That's a nice bribe she's offering," said a voice behind him. Clark and Gilda had just come in from Honeyside.

"But accepting it would be corrupt, wouldn't it?" Gilda mused, giving Clark one of those looks.

"Certainly, if there's a quid pro quo involved. And that would get her in trouble with the Guild of Prostitutes, too. She's not a member," Clark pointed out.

"So she's not offering you anything, Brynjolf," Gilda resumed. "Just letting you know what kind of talent she has. In case it influences your decision to hire her."

"I'm not?"

"No you're not," Clark agreed. "If you've got the skills you say you have, they'll be enough without resorting to this sort of thing. So no cheating; go mix a few drinks, so we can check out the results. That's what the job requires, and not what you're showing us now, informative though it is."

Ingun re-appeared a few minutes later with a tray of wineglasses. She'd put her dress back on, under the apron.

"This one is flavoured with Snowberries, which means you can't taste much else," Ingun explained. "It can be as weak or as strong as you need, ... or even poisonous." She looked over at Brynjolf as she said that. His glass was already half-empty.

"You wouldn't, because you need this job," he decided, and finished the glass. "And if you did, it would be Gilda's, not mine," he continued, grinning at the Guildmaster.

"I'm tasting something else, even past the Snowberry," Clark remarked. "What else is in it?"

"Some Jazbay, which doesn't cause any reaction with the Snowberry, just smoothes out the taste a little. The base is a light wine, which doesn't contribute a lot, just makes it a bit alcoholic. You can mix in brandy if you want it stronger, and it will taste about the same."

"So you can make them progressively stronger, or weaker, and nobody would notice?" Brynjolf inquired. He could see the advantages of doing that.

"The other thing that would be useful is a drink to sober someone up in a hurry," Gilda added. "Do you have one for that?"

Ingun nodded. "The pale green one. If he's really far gone, he might have trouble keeping it down, but that can help get the cure started. Flush out the stomach and then this gets a chance to work without competition."

Clark took a small sip. It didn't taste bad, but then, he wasn't drunk, either. Again, some of the flavours were familiar. "Some of this is a regular Restore Health, isn't it? What did you add?"

"There's a bit of a Resist Poison effect to counter the alcohol, or skooma. I use both Blue and Yellow Mountain Flowers, which is why it comes out a bit green."

"Where do you get Yellow ones from?" Gilda wanted to know. She'd seen Red, Blue and Purple just about everywhere, but not Yellow.

"Serana found them in Dayspring Canyon, which isn't far from here. There's isn't a large supply of those, but they are useful for the special potions.

Ingun had a number of other mixtures, all of them good to drink. Well, except one. As she explained, only Argonians like the Nightshade tea. Its effects on the other races were unfortunate, to say the least. Mostly just nausea-inducing, but apparently High Elves had a particularly bad reaction to it, perhaps because of their weakness to magic in general.

"So do I get the job?" Ingun asked.

"You've impressed me as much with your clothes on as you did with them off, lass," Bryjolf replied. "But it's the Guildmaster who has the ultimate decision-making authority. I just advise."

Gilda looked over at Clark. "So, which do you think? Better with them off, or with them on?"

"I think she deserves the job," Clark replied, avoiding the question. "She'll have to keep her clothes on until Vicuņa gets here and signs her up, or her motives will be suspect, anyway. However, if she really wants to clinch it, I have one more thing she could do."

"What's that?" Ingun asked.

"You know Niluva Hlaalu? The Dunmer with the skooma problem? If you can help her clean up her act, you both get jobs. Mix her up a batch of Fortify Resolve potions, because that's what she needs."

Gilda and Clark had just returned from visiting Vex, to find out more about the Stones of Barenziah. Her story about the thief breaking up the Crown to cover his tracks seemed a bit suspicious. How did she know about that? Did she have any connection to that thief? Best not to ask. It can't have been long ago, and it might have been a member of the Thieves Guild. Mercer Frey came to mind, although they couldn't see any reason for Vex to cover for him.

Whatever the truth was, Vex had pointed them to Tolvald's Cave, not far to the north, which was reputed to be full of Falmer.

"Not unlike Irkngthand," Gilda noted. "I'm getting even more of an echo of Mercer Frey here."

"And so it's going to be a job for the sneaky, rather than clanking tanks like Iona and Mjoll. Neither of them are Thieves Guild members, either, so there's no reason for them to help."

"Other than Iona being your housecarl, and Mjoll her best friend," Gilda reminded him.

"Still, it might be better to ask Brynjolf and Karliah to accompany you again," Clark reasoned.

"Aren't you coming?"

"Yes, of course. This whole collection is as much my project as yours. I just meant that I wasn't there the first time, in Irkngthand."

"It would have been much easier if you were," she replied, ruefully. "We really could have used some wards when Mercer was tossing his Illusion spells. The Falmer mages were a major pain, too."