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Generated: Jun 18, 2020 2:48 PM
Post last updated: Jun 18, 2020 2:48 PM
a false face and a good line
Jamie does the Thieves Guild
Permalink Mark Unread

Wow, he thinks, coming through the gates, What a shithole.

Given the guards' pathetic attempt at a hustle, he shouldn't be surprised. Clearly Riften has seen better days. 

Or maybe it hasn't, he muses, peering down at the canal from the bridge to the market, This place looks kinda like it was built to be a smugglers haven or something.

 He's here looking into rumours of the Skyrim branch of the Thieves Guild. Even if they don't make their base here, he's not surprised people think they do. Though some of the conversations he's been overhearing do suggest certain things. 

He glances disinterestedly at a pair on the bridge, arguing about the corruption in the city, continuing on past them and into the market. 

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It is a wretched hive of scum and villainy! 

Though, admittedly, most of the shopkeepers just look tired. The place is pretty run-down. The stands themselves are sad-looking, chipped paint showing where colours used to go, untidy repairs to what he can see of the shelf doors underneath, and the merchandise on display is lower quality than is usual. 

Marketgoers keep a close eye on anyone passing by them, and the default personal space bubble seems to be 'as wide as I can get away with'. Pickpocketing in this city must be a real challenge! 

While he's looking around, someone else is eyeing him back. 

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"Never done an honest day's work in your life for all that coin you're carrying, eh lad?"

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Gaemir turns, surprised, and surprised to be surprised. It's not every day someone sneaks up on him. 

He grins at the man's words, though, "It's like you know me," he says cheerfully. 

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He smirks, "Hm, it's all in the way you walk, lad. It's a dead giveaway. You're experienced in the shadow business, or I'll eat my hood."

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He gives a short laugh, "Flatterer," he accuses. He gives the man a longer look, taking in the leather armour, the plethora of pouches and pockets, the sword at his waist. Definitely what he's been looking for.

"I doubt you came over here just to complement me on my catfoot, though," he states leadingly. 

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"And you'd be right about that." He agrees, "I've got a bit of an errand to perform, but I need an extra pair of hands." 

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Sounds like a recruitment test. Either that or he needs a scape-goat, but there's no prison that can hold him, so if it is the man'll just owe him one. 

"Alright, what do you need?"

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Well, that was easy. "I'm going to cause a distraction and you're going to steal a silver ring from the strongbox under the Argonian jewelry seller, Madesi's, stand. Once you have it, I want you to place it in Brand-Shei's -the Dunmer - pocket without him noticing."

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Gaemir raises a brow, "Wow, what did Brand-Shei do to you?" He asks jokingly. 

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He chuckles, "It's nothing personal. Just a contract, to remind Brand-Shei not to meddle in affairs not his own. Since we're not the Dark Brotherhood, we're not about to kill him, but a short stint in prison should get the message across."

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Contracts, eh? Jackpot. 

"I'll watch for your distraction, then." 

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With a pleased nod, he makes his way to the northeast entrance to the market, where the Guild has a stand leased permanently, for all it is rarely used. 

Reaching under the counter, he pulls out a box of liquid-filled bottles. Setting them on top, he turns to call out to the market, "Everyone! Everyone! Gather 'round! I have something amazing to show you that demands your attention! Gather 'round all! No pushing, no shoving. Plenty of room!"

He starts collecting quite the crowd. Casting his gaze out across it, he notes both Madesi and Brand-Shei among his watchers. Good. He turns his attention to talking up the benefits of his 'Falmerblood Elixer'. Maybe he can make this scheme even more profitable than just the promised contract payment. 

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Once the Argonian and his surrounding stalls' owners are gathered around the friendly thief, Gaemir gets to work. 

The locks on the cabinet and strongbox are child's play, so he picks out a pretty little silver thing engraved with curling vines and relocks them. Then, casually as you please, as though he's a late comer to the crowd, he sidles up next to the Dunmer and slips the ring into his pouch. 

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Once Brynjolf sees the little thief wandering away from the crowd again, he wraps up his sales pitch and leaves the stand to a guildmember he beckons over from where she's lurking nearby. Then, he ambles after him, slowly catching up as they leave the market until they reach a quiet side-street from which they have a good vantage point to watch as a pair of guards accost Brand-Shei and lead him away. 

"Looks like I chose the right person for the job." 

He pulls out a pouch of coin, tossing it over to the young Breton, "Here you go- your cut. The way things have been going around here, it's a relief that our plan went off without a hitch."

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He catches it, tucking it into his belt pouch.

"Thanks- you've been having trouble lately?" 

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He snorts, "My organization's been having a run of bad luck. Never mind that, you did the job and you did it well. Best of all, there's more where that came from... if you think you can handle it."

He eyes the kid up and down - he's armed and armoured similarly to most of the Guild, leather armour, blade, and an abundance of pouches. There's a bow and quiver peeking up over his shoulder, and a pair of slim daggers tucked into his bracers. He certainly looks like he could handle their work. 

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Gaemir smirks under his gaze, "Oh, I think I can handle it," he says, leaning in a bit. 

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He huffs, amused, and shakes his head, "I'm sure you can," he says, "But let's put that to the test. The group I represent has its home somewhere beneath Riften... a tavern called the Ragged Flagon. Get there in one piece and we'll see if you've really got what it takes."

That said, he ambles back out into the market, leaving the lad to find his own way - or not. 

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Well, alright then. 

He wanders back out of the side street, making his way over to the people he'd passed earlier, who are still standing on the bridge discussing the corruption of Riften. Must be an extensive subject. He leans back against the railing, listening in. 

"...So called 'Gutter Saints' live in the sewers beneath," says the man.

The woman beside him nods, "I suspected as much. The real question now is do we do something about it ourselves or do we speak to the Jarl?"

"I say we go down there and clear the place out, just like old times," the young man says, gripping his sword hilt. 

The woman shaks her head, "No, my friend. That would be reckless. We have to help, but help in a way that doesn't directly place anyone in harm's way. For now, give this 'Ratway' a wide berth."

Humming, Gaemir wanders off, leaving the two to complement each other in peace. The 'Ratway', is it?

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Thirty minutes later he steps through a door in the sewers, finding himself across a cistern from a tavern half-built over it. He makes his way around the edge and steps up onto the wooden platform, wiping the blood off his sword, coming to lean back against the friendly thief's table as he sheathes it.

"Nice place you've got here," he says, sarcastic. 

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"Isn't it just," he agrees, amused. "Have any trouble on the way down?" 

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"Nah," he denies, breezily, "Nothing I couldn't handle." 

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"Hah, reliable and headstrong? You're quite the prize." 

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Gaemir grins, "That I am," he agrees. "Anything else I can do to prove my qualifications?" 

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He looks at him, thoughtful, "Well," he says, "How about handling a few deadbeats for me?"

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"Deadbeats? What'd they do?" 

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"They owe our organization some serious coin and they've decided not to pay. I want you to explain to them the error of their ways."

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"Alright. Who am I shaking down?"

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"Keerava, Bersi Honey-Hand and Haelga. Do this right, and I can promise you a permanent place in our organization."

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"Sounds like a deal," he says with a sly smile, "Any more instructions?"

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"Hm," he nods, "Honestly, the debt is secondary here. What's more important is that you get the message across that we aren't to be ignored. A word of warning though... I don't want any of them killed. Bad for business."

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"You've got it," he says, "Consider it done." 

He straightens, turning back towards the entrance he'd used to get in here. Presumably they have a more convenient one somewhere, but he probably won't be granted access to it until he's an official member of the Guild.

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"If you need any more information on your marks, feel free to ask," he comments as the lad walks away.

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He offers an acknowledging wave as he reaches the door. He'll figure it out. 

 

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It takes him the rest of the afternoon.

He overhears Keerava's sweetheart, Talen-Jei, mentioning to the jeweler Madesi that he's looking for three flawless Amethysts. Amethysts which Gaemir happens to have on him - stolen, but who can tell? He offers to sell them to him, and from there manages to get a bit of useful information about Keerava's family. A mention here, a bit of pressure there, and the Argonian lady hands the coin over easy as pie. 

 As for Bersi, a quick glance around his shop lets him pinpoint his prized possession in no time. From there, all it takes is a pointed look to get him cooperating. 

 Haelga is no harder than the last two. He ambles into her bunkhouse casual as can be, leans back against her shrine to Dibella, and lets the silence speak for him. 

He comes back with a pouch of gold, which he drops on the table as he takes a seat across from the other thief. 

"Bit tedious," he muses, "Need anything else?"

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He shakes his head, "That'll be all," he says. He tugs the pouch over and counts out a handful of coins, sliding them across the table, "And here's your cut." 

He leans back in his chair, giving the lad a smile full of satisfaction, "A job well done, and not a feather ruffled. You'll fit in here just fine. The name's Brynjolf, little thief, and a pleasure to meet you."

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He grins back, "Gaemir," he offers, sliding the coins into his hand, and from there to a pouch in his jacket, "The pleasure's all mine, I'm sure," he adds, eyeing him from under his lashes. 

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What a flirty one this is.

"I think it's about time you meet the Guildmaster, then. Follow me." So saying, he stands from his seat and heads over towards the cabinet in the back, triggering the false back to open and the leading the little thief into the cistern. 

Mercer is contemplating something in the center when Brynjolf ambles up to him with Gaemir in tow. 

"Mercer? This is the one I was talking about. Our new recruit."

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Ooo, secret panels. How fun!

He follows, coming to stand at Brynjolf's right before 'Mercer'. 

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"This better not be another waste of the Guild's resources, Brynjolf." He turns to give the kid a long look, "Before we continue, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. If you play by the rules, you walk away rich. You break the rules and you lose your share. No debates, no discussion... you do what we say, when we say."

He scowls at Brynjolf briefly; always bringing in strays, that one. Then he turns back again, "Do I make myself clear?" 

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"Crystal."

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"Good." He glances up in thought, then smirks, "I think it's time we put your expertise to the test."

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He starts, "Wait a moment, you're not talking about Goldenglow, are you? Even our little Vex couldn't get in."

 

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"You claim this recruit possesses an aptitude for our line of work. If so, let him prove it."

He turns to the kid, "Goldenglow Estate is critically important to one of our largest clients. However, the owner has suddenly decided to take matters into his own hands and shut us out. He needs to be taught a lesson."

He pauses to wait for any protests. When none are forthcoming, he nods, turning to head towards his desk, "Brynjolf will provide you with the details."

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"Mercer, aren't you forgetting something?"

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"Hmmm?" He turns back, "Oh yes. Since Brynjolf assures me you'll be nothing but a benefit to us, you're in. Welcome to the Thieves Guild." That done, he continues on his way. 

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Wow, what a grump. Well, you can't win 'em all. He turns back to Brynjolf. 

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"Well, there you go." He says, "Welcome to the family. I'm expecting you to make us a lot of coin, so don't disappoint me."

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Family, huh? He smiles wryly. 

"You can count on it."

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"Aye. As to the Goldenglow Estate - I can give you the overview, but you ought to talk to Vex before you begin. Imperial-Redguard girl. You'll find her in the training room," he gestures to the passage to the right, "Or back in the Flagon." 

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"Alright," he agrees, "How about that overview?"

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He explains the situation - Goldenglow Estate is a bee farm, they used to pay the Guild protection money, then they stopped and hired a boatload of mercenaries. They also stopped supplying Maven Black-Briar, one of the Guild's most important patrons, with honey for her mead. It's a bad business all around. 

The contract is this: burn down some of the hives, empty the safe, and don't burn down the whole place while he's at it. They'd prefer he not kill any of the mercenaries, either, but so long as he doesn't get caught at any point he'll be golden. 

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"How about the owner?"

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"Aringoth. Smart-mouthed Wood-Elf. Maven prefers him alive, but if he tries to stop you, he's expendable."

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"So, Maven Black-Briar, huh?" 

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"Mmm. We had an arrangement with Maven. We keep an eye on Goldenglow - rough up the workers if there's a dispute, steal the shipments if he tries to sell to someone else, that sort of thing - and she let us extort Aringoth."

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"Sounds lucrative. She seems to run the show around here." 

 

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"She might as well be the Jarl of Riften. Nothing happens in this town without her consent."

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"So how dangerous is it to cross her?" 

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He raises a brow, "Let me put it this way - one word from her and anyone in the city could spend the rest of the fourth era in prison." 

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"I guess Aringoth must be pretty crazy, then." He nods, "Thanks for answering my questions. I'll go get the specifics from Vex."

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"You do that, lad - and good luck."

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So he goes. 

First, the training room. Any Imperial-Redguard girls around here?

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There is! She appears to be in the middle of beating someone up. Or perhaps sparring with them. Either way, she seems to be winning.

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He'll wait for her to finish up. In the meantime, lockpicking! There's a bunch of locked chests in the corner of the room, presumably for practise picking different locks. 

 

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She finishes pretty quickly, getting in a particularly sneaky punch and throwing them down. She laughs and helps them up, and then moves over to Gaemir.

"You're the new guy?"

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By then he has two chests open and is working on the third. He glances up when she comes over and grins, "I am! Gaemir - Brynjolf sent me over to get the specifics on the Goldenglow Estate."

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"Ah. Fun. I was thinking about having another go myself, but Brynjolf convinced me otherwise. A shame."

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"So what am I dealing with? Any tips? Secret passageways, guard animals, particularly seduceable mercenaries?" 

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Vex laughs. "All mercenaries are seducible with enough time and talent. But your best chance is to go through the tunnel. It's old and should still be unguarded." She dips into one of her many pockets and pulls out an incredibly detailed map of Goldenglow Estate and it's surroundings. "I drew this up from memory. Should get you where you need to go."

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Wow! He is impressed by her memory! He takes it and looks it over, noting the position of the passage entrance and hives in particular. 

"Looks doable," he hums, "Anything in particular you want from the estate, since you've been so helpful?" 

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Vex tilts her head and taps her lip. "I heard tell that old Aringoth has a moonstone locked up in his safe. I could make something with that."

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He smiles, "It's all yours," he promises. 

He gives the map a more thorough look, then hands it back, "Probably won't have time to pull it out and look through while I'm there, I'll have to do with my clearly less impressive memory. Thanks! If I'm not back by morning tell Brynjolf I'll miss him!"

And he's off. 

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Vex laughs and goes back to beating up sparring with her fellow guild members.

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That ladder out in the cistern is probably the back entrance... Yep! He pulls the chain to get the coffin above to move aside and finds himself out in a graveyard. Spooky!

There's a door to the docks nearby, so he heads out there. The Goldenglow Estate is on an island out in the lake - it's late evening, so he can see the lights from the Riften docks.

He pays a fisherman for use of his boat and then takes it out. He leaves the boat, his vest, boots, and bag inside, tied to a stand of trees on one of the little islands right up next to the Estate. 

Then, it's into the water for him! His favourite part! 

He climbs out next to the secret entrance scowling and shaking the water out of his hair. Nothing worse than a cold bath on a crisp autumn night. He does his best to squeeze the water out of his clothes, but his pants are a lost cause for now. He's not willing to infiltrate a hostile Estate pantsless, though, so he makes do.

 Into the sewers he goes!

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The sewers: are sewers. Inside he finds a few fun traps, some guard skeevers, and the remains of a squatter. He squints at one of the bottles of mead littering the little alcove, but decides to leave it be. Who knows what's actually in that thing. 

The door on the other side lets out right in front of a side entrance. He pauses before going in, though - he thought he'd seen... Back inside the tunnel, he squints up at the ceiling. There's a hole. 

"Huh. The map didn't mention that..." he murmurs. With a shrug, he jumps up, catching the rim of the hole and pulling himself up. There's another door down a short hall -he carefully pulls it open. 

Well that was easy. The door lets out directly in front of the safe. Silent as a shadow, he creeps over and picks it open. 

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Loot inside the safe: one large pouch of coins, two smaller ones, a pouch of jewels, and a letter. He grabs all of them, slipping them inside the small oilcloth bag he'd brought with him, and then closes the safe - leaving it unlocked, this time. 

Back outside, he swims back to the boat to stash his spoils, and only then heads back to the Estate for the second part of the job. He comes out just behind the hives, scrambles silently up the rocky shore, and then pauses to listen for any nearby guards before creeping out between the them. 

A quick series of fire spells later and he's out of there, swimming back to the boat for the last time that night. He's going to go to an inn after this and order a hot bath, see if he doesn't. 

He shudders in his coat all through the trip back to the docks, leaving the boat to the fisherman with his thanks, and then heading back into town. 

It's probably only been a couple hours since he set out. He fights with himself over whether to go get that bath now or after he reports in, but eventually the latter wins out. He wouldn't want to make Vex confess his undying love to Brynjolf unnecessarily! 

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Brynjolf is waiting for him when he climbs down the ladder. 

"Word on the street is Goldenglow's been hit," he says as the lad comes up to him, shivering and soaked, but grinning. He smiles, "Good work, lad." 

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"Yep," Gaemir tells him, passing him the oilcloth bag of loot, less one moonstone, "And here's the spoils. Vex wanted a moonstone, hope you don't mind." He adds. He stalks over to the nearby brazier to warm his hands over the fire.  

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"Fine by me." He goes through the contents of the bag, pulling out the letter with a frown, which worsens as he reads it. 

"Aringoth sold the Estate?" He mutters, "What the hell is that idiot thinking? He has no idea how furious Maven's going to be, but I'm sure he'll find out. Too bad there's no name for the buyer... Just this symbol." 

He scrutinises it a bit more, before offering it to Gaemir, "Recognise it, lad?"

 

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He looks it over, "Nope," he says, "Never seen it." 

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"Blast. Ah, well, I'll check my sources and speak to Mercer." He folds the letter up and slips it in a pocket. 

"Go get some rest, lad. And maybe a warm bath. You've earned it."

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"Don't have to tell me twice," he says. 

 But first: Vex. Is she still in the Training Room? 

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She's actually in the kitchen, cooking up something delicious smelling.

"You didn't die!"

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"I didn't!" He agrees, "I live another day! Or at least I will if I don't get pneumonia. Also: I bring gifts!" 

He offers her the large moonstone he'd found in the safe, "Right where you said it was." 

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She smiles at him and swaps the moonstone for a bowl of hot soup.

"Eat. You look like a drowned skeever. And thank you. Did you run into any problems? Leave behind any love struck mercs that will never forget the time they spent with you?"

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He hugs the bowl close, breathing in the steam, "Thanks," he says, "And no lovestruck mercs, unfortunately - actually I pretty much entirely bypassed the lot of them. Did you know there was a secret tunnel inside the serect tunnel?" 

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" -- I must have missed that. My ego will never recover. Damn. You've got a good eye."

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"Eh, it was pretty dark," He shrugs, "I only barely caught it myself, and I have better vision than average." He shrugs again, then takes a sip of his soup, "-This is really good!"

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"Thanks. I like to give Vekel -- he runs the Ragged Flagon -- a break now and then. Or give us a break. I'm pretty sure he's a Dark Brotherhood associate and poisoning us all slowly with his stew."

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More soup! He drinks down half of it, sighing with happiness at the warmth in his stomach.

"I'm a pretty good cook, too, but I suspect people would rather not eat my food until they know me better," and also trust him not to slip meat from his enemies in. That would be very rude to do without asking, but he's known Bosmer who do it. Then again, everyone assumes he's a Breton. (Maybe they'd deserve it- no, bad Gaemir).

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"You seem friendly enough. Though don't think you're gonna replace me. I'm the best infiltrator in this Guild. Also the best cook. If you wanna stick around and rise up in the ranks, you best listen to what I have to say. You don't have to act on my advice, but you have to listen. Thems the rules."

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He nods, "I'm the newbie," he agrees, "At your service, and in your care." He gives a flowy bow of his head and upper back, but his words are serious. He wants to succeed here, and paying attention to the experts and the rules is part of that. 

He drinks the rest of the soup, "But right now I want to go get out of these clothes. What do I do with the bowl? Individual washing or do we take turns, or?" 

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"We have a roster. Put it to the side and Rune will get to it later. I'm sure someone will add you to it eventually, but for now, you are chore-free."

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So he does, "And I will take advantage of that to go get a room and order a bath at an inn, in hopes of warding away anything I might have caught wandering around in the freezing cold while wet," he says, "Thanks for the food! And the advice." 

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"You're welcome. Feel free to wander by again. Maybe I can teach you a few tricks. With a lock or with my fists."

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He salutes her as he backs out, heading back to the back entrance. 

The first inn he walks into - not the Bee and the Barb, he has no desire to poke Keerava so soon - does in fact do baths, thankfully. He wipes himself down with the washbasin once the process of boiling and carrying is over with, and then sinks into the tub with a pleased sigh. Settling in for a soak, he goes over his day.

He completed his main objective, joining the Thieves Guild, which is great - he thought it would take much longer to get an in there. Meeting Brynjolf was lucky. 

Speaking of which, woah. That older professional rogue look really does it for him. And that brogue. Gaemir wonders where the man is from, since it's a little different from the standard Nord accent. 

He likes everyone he's met so far - even if Mercer was a little standoffish, wariness can only be good in a Guildmaster, so it speaks well of him. And Vex is clearly excellent. He's definitely going to take her up on her offer - he can't wait to get beat up by some tips from her! 

 Once the water goes lukewarm, he climbs out, pulls on a sleepshirt, and heads out of the bathing room to get some rest. He suspects tomorrow will be just as busy as today. 

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Late the next morning he wanders back down into the cistern, refreshed and ready for another day. 

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Brynjolf waves him over, "Maven wants to see you, lad." 

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He pauses, confused, "What did I do?" 

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He snorts, "Nothing like that. She wants to talk business."

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"Sure," he says, "But will I come out of her business talk alive?" 

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"Ha ha. If it was like that she wouldn't be asking for you, she'd be calling on the Dark Brotherhood." 

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He smirks, "Well, alright. Any idea what she wants from me?" 

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"That's between you and Maven. Now get going. She's waiting for you on the second floor at the Bee and the Barb." 

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Great, he didn't want to bug Keerava again any time soon but he supposes that's just how it goes. 

Back out he goes, and down to the B+B. Is there someone idling on the second floor?

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Not quite idling. More possessing, filling the space around her. It's obvious who he's looking for - a Redguard woman, dressed finely, style balanced carefully between a wealthy merchant of Skyrim and Hammerfell nobility. She's older, the harsh lines of her face well-worn.

"You would be Gaemir, I suppose," she says, voice low, when he's shown in by her bodyguard. 

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"I am," he agrees, wary. "Brynjolf said you wished to speak with me." 

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"Yes. You did well, with your last commission. I have another for you."

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"I'm listening." 

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"One of my competitors is getting quite... Irritating. I would like you to investigate their business practices. See if they're doing anything they shouldn't be. I'd hate for the people of Skyrim to be being misled about their mead, after all."

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He nods thoughtfully, "Which competitor? Honningbrew?" He ran into a couple of very drunk farmers who offered him a bottle on the way to Riften. Also, as far as he can tell from the drinking habits at various taverns he's passed through, Black-Briar and Honningbrew might as well be the only two meads in Skyrim. 

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She nods. "I have an agent in Whiterun who will update you on what we know."

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He nods briskly, "Do they have a preferred meeting place?" 

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"The Bannered Mare. You're looking for Mallus Maccius."

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"Description? Any further instructions?" 

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She describes him, briefly, and then says, "Be discreet."

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"Of course." 

And if the bodyguard will let him out? 

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The bodyguard will.

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Then he goes, offering her a respectful nod as he does.  

Well! That was stressful. Dealing with important people who expect to be treated as important doesn't come naturally to him, but you learn some things when you've been on the job a while. 

Back to the Guild to let Brynjolf know he'll be out of town for a while on that contract. And maybe say hi-and-bye to Vex? If she's around. 

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She's halfway out the door, actually. But pauses when she spots him.

"You taking off?"

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"Yep! Be out of town for a week or so on a contract. You too?" 

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"Mhm. I'm heading over to Markarth. Something shiny calls my name."

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He grins, "Good luck! I'll take you up on your offer when we're both back here," he adds, "If you're still interested in beating some skill into me then." 

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She raises an eyebrow. "I'm always up for it. Just say the word."

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He has just the lightest of blushes, "Will do." 

 And off to the stables. The hostlers bring out his Sweetroll and then he's off to Whiterun. 

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Whiterun! He's been here before - it's the first city he checked when he got to Skyrim, on the theory that it's the capitol of the central hold, and therefore probably a trade center and a good spot for thieves. No luck there, but he did make a few friends.

He pulls into the city just past midnight two days after leaving Riften. He checks the Bannered Mare for Maven's contact, but he's not around. So he heads up to Jorrvaskr to see if Linnea will put him up for a while. 

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She has no objections. So long as he'll spar her at some point. 

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Fine by him. 

He checks back at the Mare the next day. Anyone of Mallus' description around? 

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Sure is. He's alone at a table, drinking Black-Briar.

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Poor guy. 

He heads over to hear what he has to say about the contract. 

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"So you're the one, then? I'm going to keep this short 'cause we've got a lot to do. Honningbrew's owner, Sabjorn, is about to hold a tasting for Whiterun's Captain of the Guard and we're going to poison the mead."

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"Will you be supplying the poison?"

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"No, no. That's the beauty of the whole plan. We're going to get Sabjorn to give it to us. The meadery has quite a pest problem and the whole city knows about it. Pest poison and mead don't mix well, you know what I mean?"

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"And how are we to get him to hand over the poison?"

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"You're going to happen by and lend poor old Sabjorn a helping hand. He's going to give you the poison to use on the pests, but you're also going to dump it into the brewing vat."

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"Clever. Where does he keep the vats?"

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"Both of the buildings are connected by tunnels made by the pests infesting the meadery. There's an entrance to it in the basement storeroom of the warehouse that used to be boarded over. I've already removed the boards so the meadery would get infested. That's where you should start."

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"Alright. I'll get to it." 

He passed the brewery on his way into Whiterun. It's simple enough to walk back - no point in fetching Sweetroll from the stables when he'll just have to board her again in a couple hours. He's not made of money. 

Sabjorn is more than happy to have a helping hand with the skeever infestation. He hands over a sizeable jar of poison and tells him to empty it all out on the nest, when he gets to it. Then he unlocks the cellar door and waves Gaemir in. 

Time to get to work. 

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Shit, they're venomous?! 

He downs a general health potion after he takes care of the latest swarm, suddenly in much more of a hurry than he was earlier. He's halfway down the tunnel at this point, just coming into a larger cavern of some sort. Hopefully the nest is just up ahead. 

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It is! So is this large swarm of venomfang skeevers! And this random dude, now attacking him and screeching about skeevers and the college of winterhold for some reason. 

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Motherf-

He handles it. Staggering a little, he pours half the bottle of poison on the nest, before leaning against the skeever guy's table to down another potion and catch his breath. He pockets the journal left there automatically - he'll look it over later to find out what in oblivion all that was about. 

The tunnel up to the brewery is shorter, at least. He climbs the stairs to get to the right vat and nudges the lid aside so he can pour the remainder of the poison in. Then it's back down the tunnel to the other building to let Sabjorn know the job is done. 

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Mallus is there when Gaemir comes back. He nods to him when Sabjorn isn't looking.

"You can stick around for the tasting, if you want," Sabjorn offers. 

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Sure, he could, or he could head back to Whiterun so he can get his hands on an antidote before he runs out of health potions. 

"Thanks, but I've got somewhere to be pretty soon." Whiterun, an apothecary, as soon as possible. 

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Sabjorn waves him off gratefully. Mallus pulls him aside before he can get out the door.

"I think I know where he'll be keeping that information Maven wants. Come back tomorrow and I'll hand over everything I can find." 

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Sounds good. He acknowledges the Imperial's words with a nod, and then heads out the door. 

It's a twenty minute walk to Whiterun. He's regretting not taking his horse now. Well, nothing for it. He downs another potion, and starts off down the road. 

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Some time after he passes out:

There's a hand on his shoulder, a voice murmuring, and the feeling of ugh fades a bit dramatically.

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He groans, rolling away from the hand, "Ah- Wha? 'Nea?" 

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"Not exactly," says an androgynous voice, dryly, with the husky purr typical to Khajiit.

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He scrambles to his feet, reaching for his sword. He halts when he realises the situation. 

Side of the road, friendly Khajiit who must have found him passed out. Why was he passed out? Oh right, skeevers. Venomous skeevers. 

"I've been defeated by rats," he mutters, shaking the fog out of his head. The ultimate indignity. The Camoran spirit is probably disgusted. 

He looks up at his rescuer, "Uh. Thanks for the save," he says, sheepish.

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They grin, showing a flash of teeth. Their fur's a silvery white, streaked with darker gray stripes, their eyes large and blue, a mane woven with colorful beads spilling down their back.

"This one is welcome," they say. "Rats are rather vicious at times."

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Pretty! 

 "I like your beads!" He says, briefly distracted, then, "They were venomous. That shouldn't be allowed." Is he whining? Maybe a bit. 

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"Thanks. And perhaps this one can submit a complaint to the Rattish Business Bureau," the khajiit says.

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He laughs, "Maybe I will!" He looks around; how far to Whiterun did he get anyway? 

"What were you doing before you stumbled on me? Anything I can help with? As thanks." 

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He's pretty close! The stables are in sight, though he'd rolled off the side of the road, closer to the stream, so it's reasonable no one ran out to help him immediately.

"This one was going out to redirect some wolves who had become too aggressive with farmers," they say. "This year has been hard on everyone, and this one was hoping to explain to the wolves where better food is found. Wood elves can speak to animals, yes?"

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He blinks in surprise - pleased surprise. Most people don't realise he's a half-elf. 

"Yeah! Well, some of them - some animals, some mer. I can do wolves. Probably. I can't guarantee they'll listen, though - and compelling is a different matter, I'm not great at that branch of Illusion." 

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They laugh, a bit husky. "This one has a talent with wolves."

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He thinks back to last night (hopefully) and smirks, "So do I." He shakes his head, "Between the two of us, we should have it covered, then! Lead the way," he pauses, realising he hadn't gotten their name yet, "Oh, and I'm Gaemir." 

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"Tasha'es the Silver. Most Nords call this one just Silver, though."

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He motions for them to lead the way.

"I'm not really much of a Nord," he points out, "I can call you Tasha'es if you prefer it?"

 

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"Certainly." They begin walking again.

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"Alright!" 

And so onwards to the wolves they go. 

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The farmer's rather grateful to see them, filling them both in on where the wolves have been coming from.

Tasha'es, apparently, is an experienced tracker, and quickly picks up a trail from the chicken coop out into the wilderness. They reach the wolf den rather quickly, and Tasha'es pauses outside of it. "They are wary of us," they say, "But they know we are here."

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He frowns, "Do you have a plan? I don't like the idea of entering their den without permission, and I doubt they will either."

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"This one was hoping to convince one of their elders to emerge. Sometimes this takes very long, though, if this one does not have their speech."

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He nods, "Alright."

Speaking to animals doesn't actully involve speaking, exactly, in the way the two-legged races do. If he's doing it himself, it's more body language than anything, usually just presenting himself as unthreatening, so long as unprovoked, so he can pass through unmolested. For something more complex, like this, he'd usually call on his House spirit to interpret, but... 

He glances over at Tasha'es. Actually, they probably won't mind this one, he thinks. 

"Camoraan," he states, conversationally. 

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What. Demands a deep 'voice' from above. Except they're not hearing it with their ears. 

When they look up, they'll find a small, striped and spotted cat with enormous eyes settled in a tree. They eye Tasha'es with mild interest before turning back to Gaemir. 

You called me, kitten?

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He looks over at Tasha'es, "I usually ask for Camoraan's help when I'm trying to communicate something more complicated than 'just passing through'," he explains. 

He turns up to Camoraan, "We're trying to convince this wolf pack to move elsewhere, so they can find better food sources and stop taking the nearby farmers'. Would you mind interpreting?" 

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They make a soft 'whrr'ing noise, then hop down from their branch to settle closer to the pair. 

...For you, kitten. They agree.

They look up at Tasha'es, somehow giving the impression of looking down instead, An elder, yes? I will assist. 

They twist about and pad into the cave. Their paws leave no marks on the ground. 

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"Very helpful," they say, grinning.

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He grins back. Camoraan is the best of all House spirits. 

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They come padding back a few minutes later. A wolf follows them out of the cave just as they reach the two. 

He is obviously old - the colour of his muzzle has faded entirely, a contrast to his dark fur. He's wary, his hair standing on end to make him look about half again as big, but he's here. 

 I have told him what you want, Camoraan says, He wants to know where you suggest they move. The food here is easily gathered, so long as they avoid the farmers. 

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Tasha'es has suggestions! They're perhaps weirdly familiar with where the best hunting and dens for wolf-shaped beings are around here, with notes about which areas sometimes have werewolves (those usually have less competition, though, and Tasha'es is fairly sure the werewolves won't attack non-prey, and they rarely come out, anyways); they also offer to help get the pack established in their new home, when they next get a chance to swing by. And they also have warnings that the farmers have allies, who might be less reasonable about the limited food problem.

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The idea of farmers having allies is familiar to the wolf. He has survived several wolf hunts in his time. He listens to Tasha'es and then eyes them for a long moment, before turning back towards the cave. 

He will discuss it with the pack leaders. He is respected, but can not guarantee anything, Camoraan says. 

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Huh. They must spend a lot of time out of the city. It's possible he should mention to the Linnea that someone might have figured the Companions out? Then again, if they haven't blown the secret open they probably aren't going to without good reason. 

"You must do a lot of hunting," he comments while they wait. 

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"This one does, yes," they rumble, laughing a bit. "For the Companions, as well as alone."

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Oh! Well, that explains it. 

"I didn't realise you were a Companion," he admits, "We must have just never run into each other; I've been staying with the Companions when I'm in Whiterun." 

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"This one is often rather far afield, unfortunately. It would not be strange, if we had never seen each other."

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The elder approaches them again, a younger, larger wolf in his wake. Camoraan confers with them for a moment, and then peers up at Tasha'es. 

 They are willing to listen. They say, They will send scouts to examine the territory you suggest. If it is satisfactory, they will return to collect the rest of the pack. 

The wolves return to the cave, and Camoraan leaps up onto Gaemir's shoulders, the better to examine his new friend.

Your gods had good taste, They say, eyeing the other's appearance. 

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They laugh. "Thanks."

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They purr, nudge Gaemir with their nose, and then vanish. 

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A pair of wolves stalk out of the cave and then lope off in the direction of the new territory.

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"Well," Gaemir says, stretching out a crick in his back, "Back to Whiterun for me, I think. I need to stock up on healing potions, since I used all of mine." 

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They nod. "This one needs to let the Companions know about the mission, as well. And this one does have some talent with alchemy, if you would like a less marked up source for potions."

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"That would be great! What potions do you make?" 

And they'll talk potions on the way back to Jorrvaskr.

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Tasha'es mostly makes healing sorts of potions - stamina and health and disease and poison cures (they make the most disease cures) - but has an at least theoretical knowledge of most things possible to make with ingredients native to Skyrim.

They'll leave Gaemir to find his own friends in the main hall of Jorrvaskr while they report their mission's completion, though they do note they'll be right back for actual relaying of potions.

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One of Gaemir's friends is in the hall when he comes in. He wanders over when Tasha'es leaves. 

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She looks up when he gets near her, "You're back late," she comments. It's already getting dark, "Or early," she adds. He's usually either out all night or back within hours. 

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"I, uh, ran into some trouble while I was out. One of your fellows saved me, so I ended up helping them with their mission." 

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She snorts, "Who should I be thanking for saving your ass?" 

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"This one!" Tasha'es says, cheerfully, emerging from the lower level.

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"Silver!" She greets, standing from her bench, "What did he get into this time? At this rate the Companions ought to have a standing mission to go rescue you," she adds to Gaemir, before turning back to the khajiit, "That's how I met him, too, you see!" 

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They laugh. "You should tell this one more stories like that, hm? This one hadn't recognized him at all! And the trouble seemed to have been venomfang skeevers."

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She turns back towards him, her eyes lighting up with mirth, "Skeevers?!

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"Hordes of them! Venomous ones! They're a menace!"

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She's too busy laughing to hear his excuses.

She calms down after a bit and waves Silver over to their table, "Come, sit with us! I'll regale you with more tales of his misfortune!" 

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"That seems enjoyable," they purr, heading over.

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So she engages them in the epic tale of her first meeting with Gaemir! It involves a quest for a sword, an old cottage full of bandits, and an idiot in over his head!

"-and then, would you believe it, it turns out the sword wasn't even in the bandits' hide out - they'd lost it in a cave not a ten minute walk from Whiterun's gates, so we had to go there and deal with the infestation of frostbite spiders! And then it turns out the whole reason he went out to find the sword was so he could use the reward to pay for a wedding ring he didn't even remember buying, so he could find out who the bride he didn't remember meeting even was, and of course I couldn't just leave him there, so-"

She goes on for a while. There's a lot to tell. 

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Gaemir pipes up with details wherever she forgets them, but is happy to let her tell the tale while he pretends to drown his sorrows in ale. 

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Tasha'es listens, mirthfully, laughing at all the appropriate moments.

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They pass several hours this way, Linnea's tablemates telling tales of their own as she winds down her first one, and soliciting Silver for theirs. Gaemir taps her on the shoulder once they've all told one, standing mostly-steadily from his place on the benches. When she looks up he gestures towards the stairs. 

"Sleep?" He asks almost plaintively. It's been a long day  

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She waves him off, "Go ahead, I'll be along eventually." 

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Tasha'es waves him off, then turns to Linnea. "An interesting friend, that one," they say, making an amused noise. "He smells like Riften."

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She shrugs, "He's been all over Skyrim since he got here," she says, "I wouldn't be surprised of he was in Riften last." 

Riften is rumoured to be pretty... shifty. Gaemir is pretty sneaky, she admits to herself. He's never really been the sort to fight straightforwardly. He's a slippery little bastard, she recalls fondly. 

She's not entirely sure how she feels about this.

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They nod. "He seems to get in trouble quite a bit..."

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She smiles, distracted from her thoughts, "Hopefully he is not often in the amount of trouble he was when we met him," she says. 

 

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They laugh. "Perhaps he has a string of kind strangers, all across Tamriel."

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She laughs along, "Someone must really be looking out for him if that's the case!" 

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They agree, and turn the conversation on to other recent matters.

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And eventually they head to bed. 

Gaemir is fast asleep when she gets there. Considering the story relayed to her of his day, she does her best not to disturb him as she falls into bed and goes to sleep. 

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He stirs, eyes cracking open as she gets in bed, but falls straight back to sleep when he recognises her. 

Next morning he gets up long before her, as well. Disturbing Linnea after a night of drinking is best summarised as 'a bad idea', so he just lets sleeping dogs lie and wanders up to the hall to grab some bread and cheese to tide himself over on the route to Honningbrew. 

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Mallus ushers him up to the rooms upstairs when he gets there, presenting him with a letter he'd found detailing the arrangement Sabjorn had made. The mark that was on the Goldenglow reciept of sale makes another appearance on this letter, linking the two incidents.

He also gives Gaemir a fancy decanter of Honningbrew Reserve for his own use, mentioning that Delvin would probably pay a great deal of money for it. 

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And it's back to Riften for him. He says his goodbyes to new and old friends, retrieves Sweetroll from the Whiterun Stables, and is on his way before the sun has reached its zenith.

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When he reaches Riften two days later, he checks the Bee and the Barb first of all to see if Maven is present before checking in with the Guild. 

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She's there, doing some kind of business. He has to wait a short while to see her.

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He can wait. Very quietly, trying not to draw the attention of the proprietess. He doesn't want to start drama here, though Keerava likely has the sense not to make a scene.

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And then he's summoned back.

"Do you have something for me?" Maven asks.

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He hands her the letter with the mark on it, "Just this." 

It details a deal between the unknown sender and Sabjorn. In return for offering proper competition for the Black-Briars, the sender had sent multiple payments and promised to do their best to keep Maven Black-Briar's agents from troubling him. 

"Sabjorn is dealt with," he adds, "Your agent in Whiterun has taken over the brewery." 

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"Good." She reads it.

"Tell the Guild that this is the same symbol as on that Goldenglow letter."

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"That's my next stop, ma'am," he agrees. He waits to see if she has anything else for him - and for payment, she should be paying him directly in this case, given it was a private contract. 

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Nothing else for him, except a rather generous pay, of course.

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And he nods again and proceeds out the door. He does rather get the impression Brynjolf will want to know about the mark. 

Down in the cistern, he goes looking for Brynjolf and eventually find him in the training room. 

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"Word on the street is that poor Sabjorn has found himself in Whiterun's prison. How unfortunate for him."

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"But good for Maven - and for us." 

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"Exactly! Now you're beginning to see how our little system works. Maven sent word that you discovered something else while you were out there. Something important to the Guild?"

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"That same mark from the Goldenglow Estate job was on the letter I brought back." 

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He frowns, "...Then this is beyond coincidence. First Aringoth and now Sabjorn. Someone's trying to take us down by driving a wedge between Maven and the Guild."

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"So what do we do about it?" 

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He hums in thought, gazing off into the distance. After a moment he looks bck at Gaemir.

"You? Not this, for now. I'll take this to Mercer, and the senior members of the guild will look into this mark. You can get started on doing some more routine jobs for the guild - talk to Delvin, he'll have some for you." 

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"Alright. Good luck."

He wanders back out into the cistern, taking a moment to chat up a few of his guild mates. A former bandit who had a crisis of conscience - not thay he blames him, it sounds like his band had been of the better sort before the incident; A man looking for any information on the runestone from which he gained his name; a former Valenwood winery heir, who despite his heritage doesn't recognise that Gaemir is half Bosmer. Probably has something to do with lacking a guardian spirit - most anything in Valenwood that could be called a winery would be on the outskirts, and run by those outside of the Green Pact. 

Eventually he heads back into the Flagon, looking around for a man matching the description Rune had given him: bald, Breton, and bored. 

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There is such a man. He gives Gaemir a long look as he walks up. 

"That Brynjolf, huh? Lemme guess. He plucked you off the street and dropped you into the thick of things without tellin' you which way is up. Am I right?"

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"That's about how it happened, yeah. Though I suppose it was more Mercer who dropped me in the deep end with the Goldenglow Estate." 

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"Well, you got the job done, and another big one besides, so I'd say you've figured out how to swim. How d'you feel about something a little more... mundane, to help the guild get back on its feet?" 

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He takes a seat at the table, eyebrow rising at the other's words, "Back on it's feet? I'd heard some rumours that we were going through some hard times," he mentions leadingly. 

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"Hah! Look around you. The Flagon, the Guild... it's all fallin' apart. A few decades ago, this place was as busy as the Imperial City. Now, you're lucky if you don't trip over a skeever instead."

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"So what happened?" 

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"Look, I know the others think I'm a bit daft for sayin' stuff like this, but I'm gonna give it to you straight. Somethin' out there is piss-drunk mad at us. I don't know who or what it is, but it's beyond just you and me. We've been cursed."

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"A curse," he repeats. Well, he's seen stranger than a cursed thieves guild. "So what do we do about it?" 

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"I'll tell you what we do. We spit in that curse's face and turn things around down here. Put things back the way they were. That's where you come in. I've got plenty of work available that could guide us down the road to recovery. All you need to do is ask and we can both come out of this smellin' like a rose."

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Ah, down to business. 

"So what have you got for me?"

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"I handle the fishing, numbers, and bedlam jobs - the ones with a more... personal touch. I've got some picked out as need doing, if you wanna take a look." 

He pulls a sheaf of papers out of his pouch, unfolding them to reveal a pile of written contracts, "Have at 'em." 

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He looks through them, soliciting explanations for a few terms here and there, and eventually selecting a few Windhelm contracts.

"These alright? I'll get them all done in one visit." 

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"Best take care they don't pin you as the culprit, doing a bunch in one city like that. Still, can't deny it'll be quicker." 

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Quicker is better, in case Mercer wants him to look into whatever they find about that mark, considering he's been involved with every other step. He nods, and stands from the table, "Thanks, I'll head out right away." 

It's early yet, he can rest at a village inn on the way to Windhelm and make it there by noon tomorrow.

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Over the next few months he completes several dozen contracts, and at Delvin's direction helps spread the guild's influence in Windhelm and Whiterun. He's not sure he likes working so closely with the Battle-Borns, given their ties to the Thalmor, but a job is a job, and there's no reason he can't keep an eye on them. The Windhelm mission, meanwhile, leaves him with no conscience pains whatsoever. Damn Altmer supremicists...

He keeps missing Vex, or only having time for a quick word in passing. It's quite annoying! He's on neutral-to-good terms with all the other members, however, and even Mercer looks less like he regrets allowing him entrance. 

Finally, four months after the Honningbrew mission, Brynjolf pulls him aside with new information. 

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"Mercer thinks he's found something - a reference to an old alias, used by one of our contacts. He wants you to look into it." 

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"Can do," he agrees, "Who am I looking into?" 

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"Gulum-Ei - our contact with the East Empire Company. Gajul-Lei, the name mentioned in the Honningbrew letter, is an alias of his. Mercer wants you to head to Solitude and shake him down for information on our mysterious enemy. We're betting he acted as a go-between in the sale of the Goldenglow Estate, too." 

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"Alright. Any advice on how to deal with him?" 

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"Gulum-Ei is one of the most stubborn bastards you'll ever meet. You won't be able to intimidate any information out of him - and we don't want him roughed up or dead. Your best bet is to bribe him. That lizard would sell his own mother if the price was right.

"If he thinks he'll get more out of our adversary, though, he'll hold back. I'd recommend you follow him when he leaves." 

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"Thanks." 

And he says his goodbyes, picks up a new pack of contracts to do on the way to and from Solitude, and heads to the back entrance. 

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Vex appears next to him, matching his quick steps.

"Off on a new adventure? Without me?"

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"Vex!" He grins at her, "I've hardly seen you lately! I'm off to Solitude - more of that case of the mysterious letter writer, from Goldenglow and Honningbrew." 

He pauses beneath the ladder, "Want to come with? If you aren't busy. I don't know anyone in Solitude, I'm sure it'll be very lonely, between the chases and heists and shaking down Argonians."

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"Sounds pretty miserable to me," she replies and smiles. "I just got back from a job. If you give me a few minutes to drop off my loot and restock I'd love to accompany you. Plus it gets cold up there, you'll definitely need another body to keep you warm."

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"I can wait," he agrees. He grins, "We can finally get in those lessons, too," he says, "Gotta keep the blood hot, out in the frozen north." 

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"You're definitely speaking my language. A few bruises and bloody noses will warm you right up."

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He smirks, a little red around the cheekbones, "I certainly wouldn't object to a few bruises here and there - I'm told 'black-and-blue' is my colour," he says.

He leans back against the ladder, elbows slipping into the space between two rungs. "I'll wait right here," he says. "Don't take too long," he adds, "I hear Mercer is in quite the mood. I doubt he'll tolerate me hanging around here forever." 

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"I'll show you my top-secret ways of avoiding the old man when we get back. I have many years of practice." She demonstrates this by ducking into a shadowy corner and disappearing completely. It's a few minutes before she returns, jogging over the cistern from the direction of the Ragged Flagon. She has a fresh backpack swung over her shoulder. "Coast is clear for now. But let's not take our chances."

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How does she do that?

"Right," he agrees. He turns and pulls himself up the ladder and into the crypt entrance. 

"Do you have a horse, by the way?" He asks as they head towards the city gates. "My Sweetroll is a sturdy boy, but if we have to share I'll have to rest him more often." 

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"I don't own one personally, I like walking most places. Well, running mostly. But when I'm working with someone else, or need to be somewhere quickly, my friend Sorian lets me borrow one of his. He keeps them stabled just outside the city."

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He nods, "Well, I always board Sweetie when I come into the city, so we can pick them up at the same time." 

"Sorian Black-Briar?" He asks, "Huh. That's good of him. Are all of the Black-Briars involved with the Guild, then?"

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"Nah. Sorian's sister Lianda does her own thing, and his only real connection to the guild is through me. We don't, uh, really talk about work."

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"Ohh, I see." He grins, "I have a few friends like that." 

They get their horses from the stables and start down the road. It's a day and a half to Whiterun, where he has a few contracts to complete, and about the same distance to Solitude from there. They'll be taking the main roads, so they probably won't have to deal with bandits. Still, he double-checks his sword, making sure he can draw it easily. You never know when you'll encounter a troll or something. 

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"You have any daring adventures to dazzle with me? It's been a while since we've seen each other. I've heard all types of stories about you."

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"Oh no," he says, laughing, "They're telling stories about me? I'm sure they're all true," he admits.

"As for thrilling adventures... well, I'm sure you've heard about how we've expanded our influence in Whiterun and Windhelm? I was all caught up in that - had to arrange an identity change and a prison break-out, for the first one, and deal with this wanna-be thieves guild for the other. They were all Altmer - bunch of supremicists." He makes a face. 

 

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"Sounds like fun. Which is probably why they sent you and not me. One too many brawls on my record."

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"I could have used some back-up of the brawling kind on the Windhelm mission," he admits. "Ended up hunting them down and having to fight through the fort they'd taken over. It was not easy." 

He'd been lucky they were all spread out, it let him sneak from one to the other and deal with them mostly on their own.

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"Sounds like my idea of a good time."

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He shrugs, "I know my way around a blade, but it's not my best skill," he says. "It got a little dicey there a few times - but my luck has always been good." 

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"I tend to rely on my fists, if anything. Though my time with the Guild has curbed that a bit."

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"How long have you been with the guild? I get the impression Brynjolf picked you up, too, but not how long ago that was." 

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"I was a kid. He caught me running around in the Ratway. I kicked him and ran off with his coin purse."

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-He laughs.

"Oh no, poor Bryn!" He gets out, before laughing again, "Perfectly reasonable, but-" Nope, more laughter. He can just imagine what Brynjolf's face must have looked like. It must have been great. 

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She laughs too. "To his credit, he caught me a few minutes later. Then he took me in and I've been kicking people and stealing their coin purses for the Guild ever since."

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"Putting those hard-won skills to good use," he snorts. He shakes his head, "The guild in Cyrodiil picked me up when I was a kid, too. They taught me... oh, not everything I know, but a fair amount of it."

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"How long were you there? I've never been."

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"In Cyrodiil? From about age four to fifteen, when the Empire cracked down on the guild. Everyone who survived got out of the province while we could, then. Cyrodiil's not that much different from Skyrim, for a thief. More villages and less homesteads, and I'd say the average person with their own home is richer, but," he shrugs. "I think I like Skyrim better, all things considered. The land is gorgeous, the cities more interesting. Nords have a reputation for racism, and sure, I've met a few who are pretty bad, but I haven't found that it bears out across the board. I spent a few years in Dominion territory - I've seen far worse. Even Cyrodiil was worse, on average." 

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"I'm envious that you have all that.. insight. The ability to compare. I've never been outside Skyrim."

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"No? Why not? If you want to travel..." 

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"You might have noticed that our guild has been... having a bad time as of late."

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"I... suppose so. Delvin and Brynjolf mentioned it, when i joined up. We've been doing better since we reconnected with the contacts in Whiterun and Windhelm, though." 

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"Better, but not like we once were. I owe them too much to leave. Especially Brynjolf."

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"Debts, huh. Well, what say we pull this guild out of the gutter it's fallen into, and once we're all living like kings again I could show you some of the sights I've seen?" 

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"I'd like that. So long as we can fill our purses along the way. Once a thief always a thief."

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"Of course! We have to get travel funds somewhere," he laughs. 

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Solitude is nearly as far away from Riften as you can get and still be on mainland Skyrim. It takes them most of a week to get there, setting up camp at night and pausing here and there to complete a few contracts on the way. Eventually, though, they come up to the gates of the city, half-built into the mountain above the massive harbour there. The guards wave them through with a suspicious look and a warning not to break the laws of the High King. Gaemir promises very solemnly that they will be on their best behaviour, and then cracks a smirk when they're past the gates.  

"For a given definition of 'best'," he comments to Vex. He looks around, "Huh. This place looks more like Cyrodill than any other city in Skyrim I've seen so far."

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"Imperials have a lot of influence. Guess they wanted a little piece of home here in the cold depths of Skyrim."

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"Hmmm, it's a little nostalgic, I guess," he muses. "Anyway, time to sniff out that contact. Have you met him before? Gulum-Ei." 

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She nods. "Yup. Cute Argonian. He's usually lurking out at the Winking Skeever when he's not at home or working."

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He grins, "Cute, huh? Brynjolf seemed to think the only way to get him to cooperate would be to bribe him. Think he's vulnerable to more interesting bribes than gold?" 

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"Anyone can offer gold. We're much more creative than that."

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"Have you ever slept with an Argonian? They're a little... different, than Men and Mer are," he smirks. "Can be dangerous, too, if you don't come prepared - or rather, if he does." 

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"I had a thing with this Shadowscale a few years ago. I woke up in Riverwood with some new tattoos and completely naked two days later."

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He laughs, "Yep! That's a hazard! The first time I did it my partner left me tied to the bed the whole time, so at least I knew where I was when I woke up. There's an antidote, though, if you know where to go to get your hands on it." After a moment of looking, he fishes a vial out of one of his pouches. "Luckily I prepared for this sort of misadventure." 

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Vex laughs. "You're much more prepared than me. I tend to leave it to the fates. Your way is probably better."

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He coughs, "Yeah, that's me, prepared for anything." He definitely wasn't planning to seduce a certain other Argonian when he bought this, no sir, not this Mer.

He offers her the vial, "I've got one of my own," he adds. To the inn?

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To the inn! She keeps close, taking his arm. They have to keep up appearances, after all. They're just a pair of lovers going to an inn. Not two master thieves, nope, never.

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What, master thieves? Here, in Solitude? Certainly not. 

Inside! And is there an Argonian lurking in a corner somewhere? Perhaps more than one, even?

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There is an Argonian! He's settled in an alcove, observing the room, bottle of mead in hand. He notes them when they come in, but his eyes slip past them, not seeing anything unusual, yet.

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Vex does not laugh, and instead just squeezes Gaemir's arm and leads them both over there.

"Care for some company?" she asks the lone Argonian.

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He looks up in surprise, and then he grins, "Ah, Vex! Fancy seeing you here." He glances to Gaemir, back to her, "Hm... I wouldn't mind some company, no. So long as this isn't Guild business, at any rate. Who's your friend?" 

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"This is Gaemir. We were in the city and looking to pass away some time. My first thought was of you."

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Gaemir takes one of the seats, "She's been telling me all about you, and since we had the opportunity..." 

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He chuckles, "I'm flattered." He shakes his head, sobering, "But really, what are you here for? You must have heard that I'm not working with the Guild anymore." 

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"Which is why we're not here on Guild business. Well, not any that involves your direct involvement."