18 Sun's Dusk
I may be the first and only Khajiit to spend a night at Suran's House of Earthly Delights. By the name I was expecting some kind of high-class eating place, but the main attraction of the place was the three barely-clad dancing girls at the side of the main room. Patrons could sit at their tables, eat the bar's cheap food, and watch them dance and spin. That was the so-called "Earthly Delight". I felt more out of place there than I did in the Telvanni canton in Vivec and spent all of my time there in the cheap room I had paid for. A double bed in a closet of a room just wide enough for the bed itself. Not the high-class place I expected at all. I hope I shed all over it.
Suran is not an especially large town and my hope of selling off the spare equipment I collected was also a disappointment. The blacksmith's shop there is run by an Orc and had a very good selection for sale...but a small wallet to purchase my own goods. I pressed a Dreugh staff I had liberated from somewhere on to the Orc and received two hundred Septims in return, plus one less thing hanging from my pack.
The town actually has an independent clothier run by a Dunmer named Verara. I am not sure how she manages to stay in business in such a small town, but she was willing to purchase my non-enchanted rings for a good price. My last stop was at the apothecary's shop and he was eager to buy whatever I wanted to be rid of. According to him Suran is not a popular stopping place for merchants and he depends on the surrounding plantations for his inventory. My stepping into his store netted him more inventory than he has received within the past six months. Quite a sad figure, honestly, but he should be able to make profitable use out of the ingredients I sold him, even if they were all the cheapest I had.
I took my time walking along the coast from Suran to Balmora. It was nice to feel a breeze that was not throwing thousands of bits of grit and dust at me.
Of course it would not be a day unless I found myself deep within the earth battling something or another. I found the cave conspicuously dug into the shores of the lake, no attempt at all was made in hiding it. Obviously a hideaway for smugglers. I was feeling refreshed and energetic from the lakeside walk, so I stepped inside.
They were slavers, with a little smuggling on the side, of course. Slavers occupying the Dunmer fortresses or caves dug into the ashland up north, those are challenges. Slavers along the lake...not so much. The two Nix-Hounds the slavers kept put up more of a fight than they did. I freed the slaves they were keeping, two Khajiit and an Argonian. I recommended they go to Pelagiad, but they probably looted the bodies after I left and escaped into the hills. One of the Khajiit, a young female, asked if I was part of the Twin Lamps and told me that if someone asks about them, I should respond that the Twin Lamps light the way to freedom. Some secret anti-slavery group? If so, I certainly support it, but I have no clue as to where this group is or if they really exist.
It is remarkable that I could not be outside for more than two minutes in the north without being attacked by a diseased Cliff Racer or foraging Kagouti, but I was able to walk from Suran to Balmora without being attacked by anything at all with the exception of the slavers.
I received a very warm welcome at the Balmora Mages Guild. Everyone asked me where I had been and were eager to hear about my exploits, which I faithfully recollected with an admirable lack of imagination, if I do say so myself. Galbedir was excited to show me the items I had left with her and even Ranis abandoned her aloofness to see Galbedir's small presentation.
First, she gingerly held up the strange bone-dagger I had brought. She announced to Ranis and I that it was the Fang of Haynekhtnamet. I had never heard of such a thing before today, but Ranis immediately offered me six thousand Septims for it! Heedless of Ranis's offer, Galbedir babbled on about the history of the weapon:. According to her, the dagger's "blade" was really a carved tooth from some beast slain in Black Marsh. The creature had the power to discharge lightning from its mouth and the dagger retained some of that power, shocking its victims with every strike.
I am sure there are many Khajiit who would love to have the dagger, but it is useless to me, powerful though it may be. Like most of the equipment littering my home in Ald'ruhn, it simply does not fit well with the fighting style I am accustomed with. I cannot think of anything on Vvardenfell that I would feel comfortable engaging at dagger-length. My short sword is about as close as I would like.
The two rings were powerfully enchanted as well. One, which Galbedir named the "Ring of the Wind", will boost the wearer's agility by a considerable amount. This would have been useful to me if I was not already wearing two rings with more useful enchantments on them. Galbedir advised against placing a third on my hands unless, in her own words: "...you did not care for one or both of them." Sage advice.
The second ring was a great deal more malicious-looking. This one I at least remembered where I had found it: on the Ash Vampire of Mamaea while searching for the son of Hassour in Ald'ruhn. Galbedir could not conceal the awe in her voice as she explained this ring to Ranis and I. Apparently it can dispel harmless enchantments put upon the wearer while strengthening her health and ability to focus magicka energy. It would also, for whatever reason, protect the wearer from paralysis and magical lightning. It is not so powerful a ring as to bequeath this protection constantly, one has to activate it by rubbing the jewelstone for the ring to have any effect. The look on Galbedir's face as I rejected the usefulness of yet another item was something I shall remember for quite some time!
The pair of gloves I received from the Redguard were enchanted only minorly, one with a Charm enchantment and the other with a combination of blinding and silencing. Being a Khajiit, the gloves are useless to me unless I felt like cutting the fingertips off.
I surprised Galbedir by giving the gloves to her, then further surprised the both of them by giving the second ring to Ranis. The Dunmer was obviously uncomfortable with thanking me, but I found the whole thing rather amusing for Galbedir thanked me more than enough for both of them, especially after I gave her a new set of items and a sack of Septims to fund the required research. Galbedir's "Ring of the Wind" went to Ajira and I am sure the wily Khajiit will make full use of the ring's feature.
I truly have no idea what I am to do with all of the things I have sitting in Ald'ruhn, but giving some of it away seems like a charitable thing to do.
With Estirdalin's help I was able to create a few powerful spells, most of them Illusions, to replace ones that were no longer a challenge for me to cast. Though I doubt I will ever be a great mage, challenging myself should be a boon for my spell-casting skill.
The story-telling and spell-making finally came to an end several hours after I arrived in the Guild and I bade everyone a farewell and paid Masalinie for my long-awaited trip to Ald'ruhn.
Despite living (more or less) in Ald'ruhn, I do not know the Guild members here very well and in stark contrast to my arrival at Balmora, no one at the Ald'ruhn Mages Guild commented on my arrival, even if I was only a very familiar face constantly seen heading for the teleportation room. How many Khajiit do they have coming through here anyway?
The weather was welcoming at Ald'ruhn: a light breeze and no dust in the air, the best one can hope for here.
My home was untouched and the door still magically locked, all of my junk still exactly where I left it. I dumped what I wanted to leave at home in a pile near the door and hurried to Under-Skar before the Redoran offices closed for the day. Galsa confirmed that the second stage of my stronghold's construction had been completed in my abscense, but the third and final stage could not begin until my ranking in House Redoran had risen some more.
That would have been nice to have known before I started plodding across Vvardenfell! I was too tired to argue that maybe being the Nerevarine was rank enough. This can wait until tomorrow.
I had only one last item of business before turning in for the night and that was to inform Hassour of his son's rescue. He was very appreciative, loading me down with five large chunks of uncut ebony ore and his personal blade.
I returned home as evening set in and simply enjoyed the peace and relative quiet of finally being done with my journey. I am not entirely sure of my next step. Do I pursue tasks for House Redoran? Should I resume my raids into Red Mountain? I do not know.