Walk with the Shadows Ch 5


    Chapter Five: Windhelm


       The carriage ride to Windhelm was uneventful. Not surprising as Lucina was the only passenger. After passing several guards spouting off about how she should join the Stormcloak Rebellion, she rents a room at the Inn, Candlehearth Hall, near the main gate. She gives Vex’s letter another look. It says her target is the general store in a part of the city called the Gray Quarter where the Dark Elves reside. It details the changes that she needs to make in a shopkeeper’s ledger. After a hot meal, she heads out into the streets to scope potential exit strategies if the job goes bad.


       When she gets down to the Grey Quarter, she finds the ground is covered in refuss that has fallen down from the upper levels of the city. Many of the buildings are run down, as well. “What a bucket of piss this is.” she says. She walks the streets and alleys for a while before she notices there are no guards patrolling this section of the city. The Nords truly do not care what happens to these people. An easy target for the guild, but a sad statement of this ancient and proud city. A young orphan accosts Lucina trying to get her to buy flowers. Clearly a street urchin, the young Nord Girl is trembling in the cold air. Lucina offers to trade her cloak and a bread roll for the girl’s flowers. An exchange the girl gladly accepts and runs down an alley. Lucina frowns then continues evaluating the area.


       She gives the General store a once over and maps out an escape route. A strange, but pleasant, scent drifts on the air. Still too early to do the job she came for, Lucina follows the smell to a tavern, or “corner club” as the Dark Elves call it. When she enters, there are a few elves patronizing the establishment. “Smells better than the alley.” she thinks to herself before stepping up to the bar to wait out the day. The barkeep asks, “Don’t get many Imperials in here. What can I get you?” She looks around, “What do ya have?” He proudly replies, “Don’t let the slums fool you. We got the best imports from Morrowind. Emberbrand wine, Matze, Some of the best Sujamma to ever cross your lips. We also have some local drinks, but personally I don’t think they’re worth buying. If you want some food, we got horker and venison and even some Elsewhere soup. Dumplings and a fresh Juniper Berry Pie fresh out of the oven. You name it, we got it.” Lucina leans on the bar, “Well, that is quite a selection… How about some horker stew and a flagon of that Emberbrand wine. Been a while since I’ve had that. Might take a slice of that pie, too.”


       After receiving her wine, she turns to find a table to wait for her meal. She spies someone as out of place in the club as she. A Breton man she finds quite handsome.  She walks over, “Mind if I join you?” The man looks up at her and his eyes fill her with a strange sensation. There is a hunger to them that sends a shiver through her. He smiles and says, “An Imperial in Windhelm? What a rarity, you are. Please, sit and tell me what brings you?” Lucina sits down, “I could ask you the same thing. You don’t really fit in down here… Neither do I, come to think of it.” The Breton holds up his tankard, “Only place in Skyrim you can find a good Sujamma.” She gives him her most flirtatious smile, “ I’m Lucina. You are?” The Breton nods in kind, “Sebastian Shaw… I admit my understanding of the female mind is somewhat limited, but you seem to hold a bit more interest in me than pleasant company for drinking conversation.” Again she smiles, “That’s rather presumptuous of you… A presumption that I would be lying if I said it was wrong.” Sebastion smirks, “I’m flattered, but I’m afraid I’m taken.” The voice of a woman behind Lucina says, “By ME…” Lucina turns and sees a rather imposing Dark Elf standing over her and says, “Oh… uh… Sorry? I guess… can’t really blame me.”  The Elf Scowls, “No, but if you make another pass at him, I will thrash you all over this club.” With that, Lucina gets up and goes to another table and quietly eats her lunch. “Come on, Jen.” Sebastian says, “A bit rough on the girl weren’t you?” Jenassa turns her head slowly to look at him, “... I can’t leave you alone for a second, can I?” Sebastian just takes a drink of his Sujamma. Jenassa sits down and pours a tankard of Sujamma for herself and asks, “How long till the ship is ready?” Sebastian leans back in his chair, “Dock worker said it would take another hour for the East Empire Company to clear our… Cargo. We have some time.”


       Lucina looks at the couple from across the room and thinks, “Figures. The first guy I take an interest in is off limits. Those eyes put me in a mood too...” The waiter delivers her order and she savors the food while eyeing the movement of the staff and the club’s regulars. Lucina can’t help but wonder how the club came to be in such a rundown state as it seems to have plenty of business. A few hours later, the general store owner enters for his dinner, “Showtime.” Lucina whispers as she quietly makes her exit. The store's door lock is all too easy to pick. She pockets a few trinkets that won’t be quickly noticed going missing before making the requested alterations to the store's books then makes her way to the Inn and lays in bed confident that even if the theft and alterations are discovered, none of the guards will care.


       After a peaceful night's sleep, Lucina has a light breakfast and considers giving the wealthy homes a visit. After finishing her food, she wanders the Stone Quarter markets and eyes an old man in fine attire. She deftly picks his pocket, relieving him of his house key. Lucina calmly makes her way up to Valunstrad, the housing Quarter of the wealthy families. The street is heavily guarded, but there are gaps in the best armor. She bides her time and patiently tries the house key on each door until a lock opens. Lucina slips around the large house, finding several silver trinkets to pocket, but her attention is captured by an oddity on a shelf in the master bedroom on the second floor. “What are you?” she asks as she approaches a floating gem hovering over a golden jewelry box. She closes the box and places her treasure inside her vest. Just as she pockets the strange jewel, she hears the front door open.


       Lucina pulls up her hood and slips around to the top of the stairs. She hears the light footsteps of the lady of the house. The footsteps approach the stairwell and Lucina looks around for a place to hide, but then stops and slowly looks up. Lucina climbs up into the rafters and struggles to remain silent as Tova Shatter-Shield walks over to a chair and sits in front of the second floor fireplace. Mere feet away from the stairs. Lucina is straining to hold herself up when she hears Tova begin to mumble to herself looking at a locket. The woman is ensnared in a memory of someone. Lucina doesn’t know who, nor does she care. She takes the moment of distraction to ease down from her perch in the rafters and move silently down the stairs. Feeling she has pressed her luck enough for one day, Lucina gathers her things from the Inn and quickly heads for the stables to catch a carriage back to Riften.


       When the Carriage arrives, the driver pats Lucina on the shoulder to wake her, “Hey… We’re here.” Lucina stands and stretches, “Ugh… you need some cushions back here…” then hops off the back. She grabs the big bag of Honningbrew mead and makes her way to the Bee and Barb. “Keerava!… Got ya something.” she says as she enters. Keerava stops cleaning the bar and walks over. Lucina puts down the heavy bag and opens it up, “This should keep the mead flowing in here for a while.” Keerava shakes her head, “If Maven finds out about this…” Lucina shakes her head, “Don’t tell her… I’ll put this down in the basement. Just have Talen bring it up in unmarked kegs.” Keerava pauses a moment, “Well… Alright. And… thanks. We might actually make a profit this month.” 


       After coming back up from the basement, a balding man approaches Lucina. “You there” he says, “You looking for some work?” Lucina has noticed the man hanging around for a few days, “Depends… what’s the work?” The man goes on to explain that he and one of Maven’s sons had a deal to sell Maven’s prized horse, Frost. The horse is worth a small fortune, from his telling. His problem is that the son killed a man a few weeks ago and Maven had him locked up before the exchange could happen. The man already paid half the asking price and was determined to get the horse. Not being stupid enough to cross Maven, Lucina just smirks as she lies, “Sure… I can get that horse for ya. I’ll go have a chat with this... Sibbi guy…” While she has no intention of stealing the horse, she can’t help but be curious. She heads out and goes to one of the guards on the Guild’s payroll and has him alert Maven that “the job’s done”. She stops in to the Keep’s jails to see this Sibbi. Not her favorite place, but that’s where the boy is.


       After a small bribe to get past the guards, she finds Sibbi in a lavishly decorated cell. The lout eyes the woman outside the bars, “Well, well… Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes? I always have time for attractive ladies.” She immediately despises the fool, but says, “I was sent by Louis Letrush… You have a deal to make good on.” Disappointed, Sibbi scowls, “Let me guess. He wants his horse… Well that’s going to be a bit of a problem. See, I don’t actually outright own Frost.” Lucina closes and rubs her eyes, “You sold a horse you don’t own?” Sibbi shrugs, “That’s correct. Frost is a part of the Black-Brair Estate and the Estate is owned by my Mother, Maven. Still, I don’t want to cross Letrush… Tell you what. You steal the horse and it’s papers from our cottage outside Riften and you can have the other half of the payment.” She just smirks and says, “Sure… That’ll be easy.” She walks away and mutters, “Brain dead moron…”


       Returning to the Inn and still feeling soiled from her time in the Skeever cave, Lucina opts for an afternoon bath. It’ll be several hours before Maven can leave the Keep anyway. As she waits for Talen to fill the tub, Lucina sniffs the air, “Talen… what’s that smell?” Talen-Jei looks back, “Do you like it? It’s an oil Keerava has imported from Blackmarsh.” Lucina does find the scent pleasant, “What is it exactly?” He looks down at the tub, “I’m not sure, really. But Keerava likes it and pleasing smells are a rarity in this city.” He turns back and looks at her for a moment. She just looks back at him, “...... Talen…..” “What?” he asks. She puts her hands on her hips, “Thank you for the oil, but… go away…” Feeling foolish he says, “Oh… Right.” and hurries out. She pulls a table up to the tub and lays a bundle on it before getting in. “Ya know… just once, I would like a job that took me to a nice warm beach or a cosy little vacation spot. But noooo... I get the rat hole and a Guild based out of a sewer...” And she dunks down into the water.


       After her bath, she goes down stairs to chat with Keerava and catch up on the latest gossip in town. The latest rumor that has gotten around is about the owner of the Workers Bunkhouse, home to many of the city’s laborers, is a devout follower of Dibella, Goddess of Beauty. Seems she has been spreading the “blessings” of her goddess with several of the men in town. Then there’s Maven’s daughter, Ingun. She’s an alchemist of some skill, but she has been burning through her tutors stock of ingredients at an absurd rate and is looking for someone to help replace his stock.


       Talen-Jei comes up from the basement with an unmarked keg and sets it on the bar. He walks over to Lucina. With Keerava standing so close, he is furtive in his choice of words. “I was wondering,” he says, “ have you made any progress on those… items I asked for?” Lucina looks up at him, “Sorry, Talen. Those ‘items’ are pretty rare. I’ll let you know when I get my hands on them.” “Items?” Keerava says, “What items? What are you two up to?” Talen just smirks and Lucina says, “It’s a surprise. Never you mind.” Keerava closes one eye and glares at them, “Hmm… Not sure how I should feel about this.” Lucina just smiles, “I think you’ll like it when it’s all said and done.”


       A short while later, Lucina makes her way to the Ragged Flagon to speak with Vex. “So,” Vex says, “You get the job done or what?” Lucina rolls her eyes, “You ask that as if it was in question. The books are altered. You can send whoever to nic the shipment.” “Not bad.” Vex says as she tosses Lucina a purse of five hundred Septims, “Your pay for the job... Oh, word is Maven is looking for you. Shouldn’t keep her waiting.” Lucina nods, “Yeah, yeah, I know. Don’t suppose Brynjolf or Mercer have had any luck tracking down that symbol of the buyer of Goldenglow?” Vex shrugs, “No idea. It’s a touchy subject. Mercer gets angry whenever it’s brought up. I’d leave it be for now. When they find something, they’ll let us know.”

     After a quick stop by the Guild’s fence to sell off her haul of stolen goods, Lucina makes her way back to the Bee and Barb. When she enters, she overhears a hulking woman of a Nord talking to a young Nord man of slight build. He is clearly more interested in her than she in him. Lucina just thinks, “Poor fool. You don’t stand a chance.” Lucina, not yet ready to deal with Maven, pays Keerava her weekly sum for her room then heads upstairs. She relaxes in her bed and thinks on why she came to this frozen province in the first place. The reason is personal however. She doesn’t yet trust anyone in Skyrim enough to ask for information... yet.


    The story so far:

    walk-with-the-shadows-ch-1 Walk with the Shadows Ch 2 Walk with the Shadows Ch 3 Walk with the Shadows Ch 4


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