Walk with the Shadows Ch 6

  • Chapter Six: A Gajul-Lie



        Relaxing in her room, Lucina savors one of the house's special drinks, Velvet LeChance, as she flips through some of the old parchments from her nightstand. She is disturbed by a knock at the door. She quickly wraps up the bundle and stuffs it back in the nightstand and asks, “Yeah?” Keerava answers, “The jarl is here… again…” Lucina opens the door and sees Keerava is noticeably nervous. “You alright, Keerava?” she asks. Keerava responds in a hushed tone, “Where a Black-Briar walks, trouble follows close behind. Having Maven herself here… makes my scales crawl.”  Lucina pats her shoulder, “I’ll make it quick…” Keerava motions to the nook in the corner of the second floor then returns to the bar downstairs.


       Lucina approaches Jarl Maven and hands her the letter she took from Honningbrew, “This is all I found in Sabjorn’s books about his partner.” Maven takes the letter and quickly reads it, “This doesn’t tell me much. Only thing about his partner is this odd little symbol…” “Yeah,” Lucina replies, “I’ve seen it before. It was on the Goldenglow bill of sale as well. Brynjolf and Mercer are trying to track down who it belongs to.” Maven scowls at the paper, “Whoever this is, they’ll regret starting a war with me!” She looks up towards Lucina and hands her the letter, “You should take this to the Guild immediately. Now… there is the matter of your payment. I believe you will find this adequate for your services…” Maven hands Lucina an Iron dagger. Unimpressed at first, but on second glance Lucina sees the evidence of an enchantment. A warmth from a slight touch of the blade reveals a fire enchantment. Should fetch a good price in the markets.


       Maven begins to walk away but stops when Lucina says, “Oh, Jarl… Are you aware of a plot to steal your horse, Frost?” Maven pauses a moment then turns slowly, “Don’t tell me. Louis Letrush and Sibbi? Well… Sibbi is in jail and Letrush is more than welcome to try. My mercenaries are more than a match for him.” Lucina folds the honningbrew letter and places it in her satchel, “Actually, Letrush approached me for the job.” Maven’s posture becomes more rigid, “Really? Well now. That is interesting…. Tell you what. Go along with the scheme for now. Letrush won’t get far with Frost. I’ll show him the error of his ways soon enough.” The grim look on Mavens face tells Lucina that she doesn’t want to ask what that last bit meant. Lucina just shrugs, “Alright. If that’s what ya want.” Maven grins slightly, “In fact, you could do me a favor in the process. There are a couple guards out there that have gotten a bit too comfortable in my cottage. I’ll have them assigned to guard Frost. Kill them if you wish. If not, I will punish them for Frosts theft. Death would be a mercy… and I am not feeling particularly merciful today. And another thing. Bring this up to Mercer or handle it yourself. There is a Skooma dealer operating in the city. He’s based out of the warehouse on the docks. He has spies in the city guard. Run him off or kill him. I don’t care. I want that poison out of my city,” A guard walks upstairs, “M’Lady. A messenger from Cyrodiil has arrived at the Keep.” Maven groans, “What now? If you’ll excuse me. I have a city to run.”  Lucina watches Maven leave. When she exits the Inn, Lucina says, “That woman is scary…” then returns to her room and changes into her Guild armor.


       Entering the Cistern, Lucina finds Brynjolf in the training room resetting the locks on the training chests. “Rumor is poor old Sabjorn has found himself in Whiterun’s Prisons… How unfortunate for him.” Lucina leans up against a wall, “Yet very fortunate for Maven.” Brynjolf stands, “Exactly. Now you see how our little system works. Maven already sent word. Said you found something that would be of interest to the guild.” Lucina takes out the letter from Honningbrew, “Yeah… the same symbol I found at Goldenglow.” She hands the letter to Brynjolf. While he looks it over, something on the wall behind him catches her eye. Another odd symbol she has seen before in the old parchments she brought with her. Round with a black bird at the bottom and a black dot at the top. The first real sign that her journey to Skyrim was not in vain. Still uncertain if she can entrust personal matters with the guild, she looks away and tries to ignore the symbol for now.


       After reading the letter, “This is more than coincidence. Someone is trying to take us down by driving a wedge between Maven and the Guild.”  “Well,” Lucina says, “I assume that’s bad… So what can we do?” Brynjolf folds the letter and hands it back to her, “Mercer thinks he’s found a way to identify this new thorn in our side. Go see him. If I were you, I’d hurry. I’ve never seen him this angry before.” Brynjolf goes back to resetting the chests. Lucina gives a quick glance at the symbol on the wall again before walking out into the Cistern and looking for Mercer. She’s been avoiding the man as best she can, but she doesn’t really have much choice here. Before seeking him out, she makes a detour to the Flagon. “I’m going to need a drink if I am going to deal with him…” While she enjoys an Ale, Vekel tells her about some books he’s looking for. Journals of a dangerous mage out in the pale. He promises her a cut of the profits if she can get the mage’s journals for a collector willing to pay handsomely for the books. The Pale is far to the north, but she tells him that she will look for them if she is in the area.


       After her drink, Lucina returns to the Cistern. Mercer is leaning on his desk, studying some papers. Papers he covers up as Lucina approaches. “Ah, there you are.” he says. “I’ve consulted my contacts about Goldenglow Estate, but no one can identify that symbol.” Lucina adjusts her daggers on her belt, “Yeah… I found the same symbol at Honningbrew.” She hands Mercer the letter and he scowls as he reads the parchment, “It would seem our adversary is trying to take us down by angering Maven Black-Briar… Very clever.”  Lucina smirks, “Maybe we should recruit them.” Mercer is not amused, “You jest, but they have been able to avoid detection for years. They’re obviously well funded, driven, and cautious. Whoever they are, they are going to pay dearly for messing with the Guild…” Lucina just looks at him, “And how exactly can we make them ’pay’?” “Because,” he says, “Even after all their caution, they’ve made a mistake. The deed to Goldenglow mentioned a Gajul-Lie. According to my sources, that’s an old alias of one of our contacts at the East Empire Company in Solitude named Gulum-Ei. I want you to head out there, shake him down, and find out what the slimy bastard knows. I’m betting he can finger our buyer.” Mercer walks off toward the Flagon. When he’s out of sight, Lucina peeks at the papers on the desk. A report from an unnamed source about the “East Empire contact” holding out on the Guild.


       Lucina looks for Brynjolf and finds him sharpening his ebony dagger. “Hey, Bryn… Got a question for ya.” Brynjolf stays fixed on his blade at the grindstone, “What’s that, lass?”  Lucina raises a hand to block some of the sparks flying up, “What do you know about an Argonian in Solitude called Gulum-Ei?” The grinding stone stops and Brynjolf looks up, “Gulum-Ei? I can’t believe that lizard is involved in this. Don’t get me wrong. He could scam a beggar out of his last Septim, but he’s out of his depth here.” Lucina folds her arms, “Think he’ll give me trouble?” Brynjolf chuckles to himself, “Trouble? He’s one of the most stubborn lizards I’ve ever met. You have your work cut out for you.” “So…” she says, “How do I get him to talk?” Brynjolf sighs, “You’re going to have to buy him off. It’s the only way to get his attention. If that fails… Follow him. If I know Gulum-Ei, he’s in way over his head and you can use that as leverage.” “If he is behind this,” she says, “He’s going to owe us for this betrayal.” Brynjolf strokes his goatee, “Aye, he will. And with his fingers in the East Empire Company’s pie, we’ll make good use of that debt. If I’m not being clear enough, that means we DON’T want him killed. Just stay on his tail and he’s bound to step into something he can’t scrape off his boot.” They discuss Gulum-Ei and the East Empire Company a bit further before parting ways.


        She makes her way back to the Bee and Barb to prepare for the journey to Solitude. As she exits Riften, she pauses a moment remembering Letrush’s scam. She looks off into the distance and sees Maven’s Cottage in the woods. “Hmm….” she thinks, “This could all be a trap… I have to admit, I’m interested in what the old lady has stashed in that house… and if things go sideways, my business in Solitude will keep away till the heat dies down… Why not.” She puts off Solitude and creeps her way through the forest. When she reaches the cottage, it does have well armed Mercenaries roaming the grounds, but something is wrong. Their armor is too shiny. Too clean. These guards have the armor and weapons of warriors, but they haven’t seen a fight in a long time. Looking over to the stables in front of the house, Lucina spots a beautiful white stallion. “You must be Frost.” she says, “Be back for you soon, Love.” then sneaks around to the side of the house. The guards are more interested in mindless banter than keeping an eye out for intruders. She can only hope the guards inside are as inept.


       Moving through the house is not as difficult as she feared. The guards inside are dressed in the same armor as those outside and are in the same condition. She finds one guard off to herself fixing a snack in the kitchens. Lucina slips up behind her and picks her pocket for a few Septims and a set of house keys. She backs away slowly and proceeds through the house searching for the lineage papers of Frost. As she moves from room to room, Lucina comes to the master bedroom and spots an oddity she has seen before. An open golden box with a floating  gem in the center. This gem faintly glows as the other did. As she approaches, the glow brightens slightly. Lucina feels that strange pull again the closer she gets to it. The sound of boots approaching breaks her from the gems trance. She snags the gem and hides behind the door to the bedroom until the guard leaves. She gives the odd gem another look holding it up to the other gem, she found in Windhelm, before stuffing the boxes in one of the pockets of her Cuirass.


       It takes a bit, but Lucina finds the lineage papers in a chest in the basement and sneaks back out to the stables. She could easily kill the guards, but she doesn’t want Maven thinking the Guid can be used as an assassin squad. She looks around for a distraction to draw the guards away, but there’s not much she can do without damaging the house itself. Then she hears the roar of something very large in the distance. The sound is unfamiliar to her. She looks around, but sees nothing. Suddenly a large green dragon flies overhead. Down the road comes riding the two steel armor clad warriors she saw back in Whiterun. The Dragonborn halts his horse and unleashes a thunderous shout. Though unknown to her, the Thu’um of Dragonrend is specifically designed to bring a dragon down from the skies. Followed by his trusted housecarl, the Dragonborn draws his flaming blade and charges towards the beast. The battle between the monster and the famed hero draws the guards away. Lucina stands up and looks around, “Huh…” She walks freely around to Frost, saddles him, and then walks him out to the road. WIth the booming roars and shouts, Lucina doesn’t even have to worry about making noise as she leads Frost away from the cottage. She mounts Frost and looks back to the fight and sees the guards hiding behind stones and trees as they ogle the dragon and the Hero. “I love this province…” she says as she rides off to meet with Letrush.


       Reaching the field agreed on, Letrush is sitting on a rock waiting. As Lucina rides up shouts, “Hey! Louis…” He perks up, “HA!... You did it. I didn’t think you could pull it off, but you’ve more than earned your pay.” As Lucina dismounts Frost, she says, “Speaking of my pay… You better have all of it, old man.” Letrush holds up a fat purse, “It’s all there, I assure you. Let’s get this over with. I need to get out of the Rift before Maven finds out what happened.” When Letrush rides off, Lucina sits down to count the gold. Out of the corner of her eye she spots a dark figure hurrying through the woods after Letrush. It’s not a Guild member, but someone is shadowing the old man. The figure is sporting a distinctive red and black light armor. An armor she recognizes as the fabled Dark Brotherhood’s Shroud armor. “I guess that’s Maven’s retribution… Farewell, Letrush...” She ties up the purse and makes for Riften to stow away the gold and trinkets she snagged from the cottage. Then heads for the stables to hire a carriage.


       It’s sunset the next day before the carriage from Riften arrives at Solitude. Approaching the main gate, a guard she passes says, “You’re just in time to say goodbye to Roggvir.” Lucina looks at the guard confused, “Roggvir? Am I supposed to know who that is?” “He was the gate guard that let Ulfric escape after he killed the king.” the guard says, “Only one punishment for a traitor. Best you keep your nose clean while you're here or you may face the same fate.” He returns to his patrol and Lucina enters the city. As she enters, a crowd is gathered around a platform near the main gate. A man in rags is being led to a waiting headsman. She doesn’t stick around for the spectacle. In her line of work, she’s seen enough people lose their heads.


       She enters the Winking Skeever Inn and asks the barkeep about Gulum-Ei. “The Argonian? Works at the docks, right?” he says, “Oh sure. He comes in for almost every meal, I think. He should be in the nook over there.” She looks around and approaches cautiously. Before she can say a word, Gulum-Ei says, ”Hmmm… Well, what do we have here? From your scent, I’d say you were from the Thieves Guild. But that can’t be right. I already told Mercer I was done working with them.” Lucina stares at the Argonian coldly, “I’m here about Goldenglow Estate.” Gulum-Ei looks down at his wine, “I don’t deal in land or property. Now if you’re looking for goods, you’ve come to the right place.” “Oh please,” she says, “Drop the act… Gajul-Lie.” Gulum-Ei sits up, “Oh uh.. Did you say Goldenglow? I’m sad to say I know very little about that um.. Bee farm? Was it?” Her patience wearing thin, Lucina says, “You acted as the broker to the new owner.”  Gulum-Ei shrugs, “Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. I can’t be expected to remember every deal I handle.” Resisting the urge to carve the scales off his face, Lucina just groans, “You’re wasting my time… What will it take for you to tell me the buyer's name?” Gulum-Ei smiles, “Well… now that you mention it… There is something I’ve been trying to get my hands on. A case of Firebrand Wine. A case was delivered to the Blue Palace recently. Get it for me and we’ll talk about Goldenglow Estate.”


       Getting the case of wine isn’t difficult. Despite being in the midst of a civil war, the palace guards are remarkably lax. No one stops her when she walks in nor seems to question the sight of her carrying the case out of the kitchen. As she leaves the courtyard she looks back, “Boobs… This country is run by boobs...” She returns to the Winking Skeever and drops the case in front of the Argonian. “Ah… good. Don’t want my buyer getting impatient and looking elsewhere, now do we… Here. I suppose I have to pay you something for this. I’m sure you could use this far better than I.” Lucina folds her arms, “Trying to bribe me now? We had a deal.” Gulum-Ei smirks as he lays out some soul gems and gemstones, “I consider it an investment… in prolonging my life. As far as Goldenglow Estate goes, I was approached by a woman. She flashed a bag of gold in my face and said all I had to do was pay Aringoth the money. I gave him the gold and walked away with her copy of the deed. That was that.” Lucina eyes him and can tell the lizard is holding back, “That’s it? No name?” Gulum-Ei shrugs, “People rarely use names in this business. The only identity that matters is how much coin we carry.” “I think you’re lying to me.” she says. Gulum-Ei rolls his eyes, “Look, I told you what I know. I never promised to have all the answers. Our transaction is done. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” He picks up the wine and heads for the door.


       Lucina shadows the argonian back to the docks and into the East Empire’s warehouse. The warehouse is built into a cavern off the river that runs alongside Solitude from the Sea of Ghosts. A few ships are raised into dry dock for repairs and the cave walls are lined with goods of all kinds. She thinks to herself, “The entire Guild could hit this place for a month and still not carry all this junk out of here.” She keeps her focus though and stays with Gulum-Ei until he sits at a small desk in the back of the warehouse. He begins writing in a large book. The warehouse ledger, she figures. She looks around at the guards wandering the warehouse. Their armor is nicked and shows signs of recent repair. These guards are battle tested. She notices a small hut built on a high ledge and a staircase leading up to it. She whispers, “Well now… you certainly don’t belong here…” After looking back to the Argonian, Lucina hurries up to the hut. There are no guards up here and she still has a good view of Gulum-Ei. She looks around the hut and finds several stacks of gold coins and gemstones. Combined with what Gulum-Ei gave her for the wine, she now has the Flawless Amethysts for Talen-Jei. She smiles, “Well now… looks like Talen might just get his ring after all.” On a table she sees a map. The markings show every shipping route the East Empire company uses. “Old Delvin will find you VERY useful, my dear. Or at least know who to sell you to.” she says as she rolls it up and stuffs it in her backpack. She looks down and sees Gulum-Ei is on the move again. She hurries down and follows him behind some crates to a hidden door.


       Lucina loses track of the lizard walking through tunnels, but follows his tracks in the dirt. The tunnel opens up into a hidden waterway, There are several bandits wandering the area. This place is packed with stolen items from the warehouse. All the proof she needs the lizard has been holding out on the Guild. She loses the tracks, but the path is linear. Only one way he could have gone. Dodging several brutish thugs and simple traps, she reaches the end of the waterway. Only a few guards between her and the Gulum-Ei. The dimeaner between Gulum-Ei and the bandit he is talking to suggests that Gulum-Ei is not in charge here. Brynjolf was right. He has gotten in over his head with this lot. The problem she faces is that the bandits aren’t roaming back here. If she makes a move, they are all going to gang up on her. No way around it this time. She draws her daggers, “Going to get wet on this one…” She kills two of the three bandits quick and quiet. With only one left and no other bandit within hearing distance, She draws her crossbow and dips the bolt in a paralytic poison before loading the crossbow. She holds her breath as she aims for the bandit’s leg and fires. The bandit stumbles back and yanks the bolt out of his thigh. “Guard!!” he calls out. Getting no response, he draws his sword and tries to stand, but his leg won’t move. Then he feels it… The poison racing through his veins reaches his heart. He grips his chest and suddenly stops moving and falls to the ground. Gulum-Ei backs away slowly. His attention is drawn by the sound of Lucina reloading her crossbow. She steps out of the shadows and walks over to the bandit and fires another bolt into his skull.


       Lucina twirls another bolt in her hand and points it in Gulum-Ei's direction, “You got some explaining to do, lizard.” He holds up his arms, “This... This isn’t as bad as it seems. I-I was going to tell Mercer, I swear! Please… He’ll have me killed.” Lucina shrugs, “Mercer doesn’t have to know… if you make it worth my while.” Gulum-EI relaxes a bit, but keeps his eye on the bolt in her hand, “I see you, uh… you wish to be reasonable… Alright. The name you’re looking for is Karliah!” She just looks at him blankly, “You say that like I should know who that is…” Gulum-Ei appears genuinely surprised by the reaction, “Mercer never told you? She’s the one who killed the previous Guild Master, Gallus. Now she’s after Mercer” Lucina seems to take this information more direly. Her grip on the bolt in her hand tightens a moment before she slowly loads the crossbow, “Gallus?...And you’re helping her?!” Gulum-Ei backs away, “No no… I didn’t know it was her until afterwards. Honest. Please, you have to believe me.” With an odd rage clearly visible in her eyes, Lucina says very calmly, “Where… is… she…” “I-I don’t know,” he says, “When I asked where she would be, she just muttered something about ‘where the end began’. That’s all I know. I swear. Here, here’s the deed. Take it to Mercer as proof. And tell him, I’m worth more to the Guild ALIVE!” Lucina takes the deed and drops her crossbow. She grabs Gulum-Ei by the shirt and throws him to the ground then grabs his tail and holds a dagger to it, “You’re going to tell me everything you know about Gallus Desidenius’ murder. If I suspect for a moment you are lying or holding back, I will start carving your tail off until you are more forthcoming… NOW TALK!!!”


    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 Walk with the Shadows Ch 5


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