Last night I should perhaps have listened to my own apprehensions.
In light of losing 10% of my earnings to the tavern owner, I decided to mix up one of the old netch musk tonics. The bull netch has a musk that tends to attract both men and mer when mixed with guar pheromones and selected floral oils.
It has admittedly been a while since I made it last and I was in a bit of a hurry. The result was a way too powerful concoction which I unknowingly went to apply and, thinking it seemed off but had assumed I had made too weak, applied very, very liberally.
Azura preserve me, as soon as I started to play it was like moths to magma. It was as much attention as I get around my name day, only, without being as in control of their actions. I do not like to be crowded like that, I had take a break before they might make a scene.
When I went for my break, the tavern owner stopped me. Of course, she was not unaffected by my cologne, and so made her own demands for my person. Luckily it was as fast as it was unpleasant and messy. I would have been far happier to throw myself naked into a pit of Lamia.
In the end, I agreed to continue to play just to get away from the tavern owner’s wandering hands and vile words. I went back out to the overeager crowd. I made an absorbent amount of money off of the Nords who vied for my rendition of their favor ballads of Nord bravery. At one point the argument became so heated between two of them that I feared that violence might occur, me at the center of it.
I quickly began to play Ikalaam Muhri Yi Talul, a bawdy parody of the song Almsivi Muhri Yi Talul. I was commissioned for the original song by the Tribunal Temple when I had first been sent to work there and was only too happy to alter the lyrics to be about moral depravity. The song was different enough that the Nords were quiet. I think they spent a while trying to figure out if they had forgotten common tongue or if I was singing in Dunmeri, the latter of which of course being truth. I hardly do the song because there are rarely enough Dunmer present to make it enjoyable. But I had seen a few Dunmer in the back of the tavern when I had done my previous set, so I hoped that at least they might enjoy the tune.
I played until the tavern closed for the night and the owner was only too happy to get her grubby hands on her share of my coin. She made me count it all out in front of her to make sure I wasn’t cheating her and still insisted that I was. Not that I hadn’t, but just not in a way for her to see. In the end I managed to get away with only giving up about six or seven percent. She asked me back again the following evening, but I told her I was planning leaving in the morning and she looked disappointed. I felt great relief to be free of her and hurried straight to the docks and took the icy swim to remove as much of the overpowering cologne as possible. I also washed with the basin and several types of soaps when I returned to my room. I swear I can still smell it on my skin, though.
I slept in late, then went to the market to meet J’darzi. He greeted me kindly and made mint tea and offered candied dates and orange peel. I admit a feeling of nostalgia for the cuisine that Qau-dar used to make. J’darzi must have noticed this, for he asked me of my melancholy look. I told him how much the spices reminded me of the treats Qau-dar sometimes served in camp. When I mentioned sugared crickets and his eyes lit up. He said he had not eaten them since his last trip to Elswyer.
We talked about his home a little and of my own, though of course it was my story of growing up a musician in Vvardenfell, as opposed to the truth. He told me if I ever needed a place to stay, he would give me a cheap price for a room in his home so I would not have to deal with Nords and their harsh words. I thanked him honestly for it.
J’darzi also warned me that my performance the night before had caught the attention of the Guild. News I was not happy to hear. Apparently they had never heard of even many of the locals of high acclaim receiving such attention. I mentioned that I had accidentally dropped a good portion of cologne I had bought along my travels and that the result had been frightening. He did not seem entirely sure of it, but sniffed at my wrist and seemed to agree that the fragrance remained somehow. He warned me to leave for a while until my face could be forgotten enough by the locals.
I thanked him for his advice and promised to send a letter if I was to come visiting again. He told me not to be a stranger and apologized that he still could offer me no more information except that those I were searching for left via ship and did not return through town, nor made any arrangements to return through Riften’s ports. I decided I would leave town tonight.
Yet fate had other plans for me. For who should I run into on my way back from the market, but the tavern owner and her boy, heading to the market to shop for groceries. After a brief exchange of words, it has been determined that I shall play again at her tavern tonight, or risk having a mark placed upon my person with the guild. Azura, please tell me how I have offended you.
So tonight I shall return to that wretched crevice of filth to play again for her patrons and try to avoid her wandering eye. Tomorrow morning I shall indeed take my leave. I am going to head back to Whiterun in case that fetching Altmer has returned to the shop. I need to gather information in a place where the guild is not so prevalent. I need to call on some old contacts. Azura, guide me.