I was unable to stop by and see my Mer-kin. A shame, I was really looking forward to it. Instead, I was stopped by one of the young Companions and told I must hurry back to the hall.
Naturally, I had assumed something had happened which required my assistance, though I knew not what a bard can do on short notice. Then again, Nords have strange ideas as to the usefulness of Mer of any kind. For all I knew, they might have wanted a spell to seal away the undead. Stranger things have certainly happened.
Pleasantly, I found myself at a sort of surprise party for which I was a guest of honor. Apparently the head of the Companions was pleased by how much morale I lent the group and decided to make me an unofficial part of the companions. I was also offered, should I like, to take the initiation into the little wolf cult of theirs. I graciously declined, excusing myself on the grounds of being a bard and more inclined to non-martial styles of art.
It was a rather nice affair, for a Nord party. Someone had gotten “elf drink” on my behalf. It was a couple bottles of Altmeri wine, vintage and grape both unknown. As I said, to them it was all “elf drink” so of course no one bothered to look into it. The vintage was not awful and the taste was fine when paired with smoked meats and apple pie.
The party lasted into the night and, at the insistence of some influential persons, I found myself asleep in the guildhall instead of back in my own bed. No one stole from my person, so of that I can be thankful. But it meant having to leave in the morning with a group of groggy and hungover Nords. I had to promise I would return later and finish the songs, but that I had to sleep off my own hangover in a real bed.
Well, I needed a bath and to clear my head, so I went again to the stream and washed myself and then decided a moment’s meditation would do me some good. And who should appear soon after, but the same guardsman from the day before. I’m not sure if he was coming for me or just to do the ritual again, but he smiled at me the way one rarely sees except on the village idiot. He wished me a good morning and heaped his thanks upon me before asking if he might join me again.
I feel Mephala is testing me, for again he was there, wanting me to take every part of him, including his life. Grief certainly makes some people desperate for dangerous things. Maybe his years as a guard told him there was something dangerous about me and that was why he was so drawn to me. I tried very hard not to do anything about it, just concentrate on my task of meditating and cleansing. He kept clumsily making sure to brush a knee or hand against me as we poured the cold water on ourselves, but still I did not give him a reaction. Nords, however, are not known for their patience, and he grew bold enough to take my hand and set it upon his shoulder.
At that point I knew I could not turn him down. His thick cold fingers were not going to let me go until he got something out of me. I asked him what he wanted of me and his expression told volumes. I told him when we finished the ritual we should go somewhere more private. He could not have looked more pleased.
Only a Nord would think that more private meant somewhere that was still public. I admit, I appreciated getting to see the city’s battlements from the inside, but I dare say, I don’t think the highest lookout tower in the city to be the best place to have your one off affairs. Yet the thrill of being caught seemed to be his purpose. He was being reckless, as he was with all his desires. That self-destructive side of grief was clearly the hand behind his behavior. I am sure that the rough rock was not the most pleasant feeling under his back, but still, he kept asking for things to be rougher. Were I a good person, I would have stopped when I saw him take such a course, but as it was, I just asked, “are you sure?” in as innocent a tone as I could stoop to using and then obeyed.
When at last we were finished, he cried. Wept, really. I stroked his ridiculously bright gold hair until he was done. So many secrets he let flow from his lips. I don’t know why he should pick me to tell. Truly, it was foolish of him, but I suppose he did not care. He was like a child, sad and angry and ready to destroy himself or the world.
When he seemed done, he thanked me for all I had given him and asked what he could offer in return. I knew he wanted an end to his life, but I am not reckless enough to do that in a place like this, even had I wanted. Instead I told him he had given me more than enough. Still he continued to persist in his inquiries of what he might give. When I grew tired of telling him no, I told him if he could find out anything about my husband, for my peace of mind. I told him that my husband was Khajiiti and had grown ill. I told him how the priestess was the first to say she could help. I explained how she would not let me in the room during the treatment and that shortly after that visit he had started to act strangely. I even went so far as to explain about how I had returned to find a message from the innkeeper that he was gone and that the room was paid only until the next morning. I told him how I had gone looking where we had first agreed to travel next, but that I had not been able to reach it because of enemies.
The guard asked about Qau-dar’s appearance and when I gave it to him, he looked perturbed. Apparently my own Daelekil was caught for the crime of the healer’s death. Mah, Azura, what punishment have I been dealt! My own actions leading to such a thing. Why was he there? Had he followed me? Does he know what I have done? Surely he must, he is very clever. N’chow! I know not what to do.
I begged the guard for any more information. He said there was an Altmeri merchant who had paid his bail and proved his innocence. What is Tamriel coming to? The man who nearly got me killed, is the same man who saved my Daelekil’s life, after my Daelekil took the blame, and nearly the chop, for my own murder. Arghen, you are a cruel and petty one. What have I done to deserve such a terrible run of luck, Azura? And now that fetching Altmer has run off with my Daelekil! When next I see the Bosmeri merchant, I shall tell him what I have learned. He may have insight into the man’s character to know where he might have taken my Daelekil. I will track this man down, and if need be, spill his vile blood upon the ground. I could even offer to bring back the corpse for his master to feast on.
This trip may be a long one, Azura only knows how far the Altmer may have taken Qau-dar. I will have to wait for my lute to be finished. I don’t know how long it may be until I can return here.
Looks as though I may have a need to find that Skooma brained bodyguard of ours again. Altmer are dirty fighters at the best of times. The more help I have on taking him down, the better. Don’t worry, Qau-dar, I will come to save you. I won’t let that stinking scum keep you for his own miserable uses. Azura, give me the strength.