The morning started the same they always seems to: wake up, eat a quick breakfast, and start off on my journey to where ever I am going. My travel pack was close to bursting though, so my first stops were at the merchants of Ald'Ruhn. I sold off a good quantity of supplies I had previously thought to be required, but had not used them since, so away they went.
While bartering with them, several of the merchants asked if I was looking to earn some coin on the side. I had rebuffed the first and second, but after Bivale asked me, I mentioned that two other merchants had asked similar of me. She sighed and revealed that a rich, young nobleman had purchased many fine goods after the death of his family, but was now late in paying the Ald'Ruhn merchants. The coins Bivale offered was to have me act as a go-between for the merchants and the young man in an effort to either collect the payment owed or retrieve and return the merchandise.
Bivale did give me a good amount of money for my own wares yesterday, so I agreed to help. I must admit the possibility of getting in good relations with several merchants through such a simple task was also a factor. She gave me a list of individuals whom she knew was owned money by the nobleman, a Ienas Sarandas.
Rather than talk to each merchant and likely get the same story, I asked a guard for directions to Ienas's house to speak with him directly. A dejected voice answered my knocking on the door and bade me to enter. I found a young Dunmer bent over his table, the smell of alcohol radiating from him and the empty bottles scattered around his chair. He immediately set upon a spiel of his misfortune and bad luck, ending with the fact of being so poor as to be unable to buy another bottle of drink.
I had been carrying a flask of Flin with the intention of selling it at some point, but I offered it to the man and he gratefully accepted, complimenting me on my generosity and quality of the vintage. Then he broke down, sobbing about how he ruined his life and squandered his family's money. He had sold off most of his furnishings and all his family heirlooms in an effort to make ends meet, but his desires outpaced his budget and he had little left, save for the simple furnishings in his home and the clothes on his back.
The clothes on his back lasted for all of about five minutes. After confessing to his gambling problem and realizing he had no hope of continuing his present lifestyle, he stripped the offending clothes from his body and asked that I return them with his apologies. As for the man himself, he declared he would start a simpler life and dedicate himself to the Temple. I'm just glad he didn't owe anyone his pants.
My fiendish plan to earn the merchants' goodwill worked perfectly. They were all grateful for the items returned, but also for the change in Ienas, who was actually quite popular around town, which explains the amount of credit he was able to leverage. They thanked me for "saving" him, but he was his own salvation. Himself and a bottle of Flin.
No one in the Ald'Ruhn Mages Guild could tell me anything about the magical portals at the two Dunmer fortresses, so I teleported to Balmora, was immediately propositioned by Ajira in some money-making scheme of hers and compromised by selling her a bunch of potions that I couldn't see myself using soon. But no one in the Balmora guild knew anything either, nor in the Vivec guild, which was surprising.
With little to do and unwilling to keep bouncing from one guild to another, I made the Walk again between Vivec and Ebonheart in order to report the witch's death to Kaye. He was unusually cordial and seemed glad to see me return, fretting about how difficult the assignments are getting. I hadn't the heart to tell him how quickly the witch was taken care of and he handed me a simple ring that would enable me to shoot flames from my fingers. This would undoubtedly burn the fur right off my hands and I'll be selling it as soon as I can.
For my next job, Kaye has tasked me with tracking down an Imperial Cult possession: The Silver Staff of Shaming. An Imperial Cultist, Linus Iulus, disappeared some years ago near Molag Mar with one of the staffs of Shame. The Imperial Cult Oracle had a vision of the staff and now needs it retrieved. According to Kaye, the Oracle was responsible for sending Linus out to Molag Mar to execute a traitor, but the man never returned and the Oracle has been feeling guilty about his apparent demise.
Unfortunately, her guilt is clouding her crystal ball (or whatever she uses) and Kaye could only tell me that the staff was either to the west or east of the Mount of Fear, another name for Mount Kand. Kaye apologetically gave me a ring to help detect enchanted items and wished me luck.
I know I swore not to take boats anymore, but I wound up sailing out of Ebonheart to Tel Branora, which I skipped visiting, sailing immediately to Molag Mar, which I arrived at late in the evening. The entire outpost is built exactly like a Vivec canton, only without a roof on the top level. The local tavern, Saint Veloth's Hostel, offers no accommodations at all. It is assumed that if you're at Molag Mar, it's either at the service of the Temple or for a pilgrimage and that such services will be found with them.
As I neither work for the Temple nor am on a pilgrimage, I paid ten Septims to sleep on the boat. Ah, the simple joys of adventuring.