by AJ Marks
Zoe worked on the enchanter hoping to create a new piece of armor with some cool attributes to sell. Something she had started doing as a hobby for the Suite but was a money maker. Enchanted armor sold even better as too many didn’t know how to do it, or even cared.
Enchantments had helped her out tremendously in her travels. With the defeat of Alduin it seemed as if her grand adventure days were now over. She privately hoped there wouldn’t be any new adventures, and she could settle down again helping out people here and there.
“Still working,” Leah stated, walking up behind her.
“Yeah, just trying to figure out which enchantment I should use with this piece of armor,” Zoe said, holding up a piece of paper which she had used to work out some enchantments on. “Currently thinking increased armor, it’s a light piece of armor.”
“It’s always good to have,” Leah stated looking at the paper.
“Anything happening?” Zoe asked, looking at Leah, she had her long black hair back in a ponytail and wore her typically short dress much to her delight.
“Nope, we’ve introduced a few new pastries based upon Brandis’ recipes,” Leah said.
“Ah, how is that going?” Zoe asked, picking out a soul gem to use.
“Well, he really knows what he’s talking about,” Leah said. “I think they’ll do quite well.”
“Good, only enhance our business, and if we mention him anyone going there will help him out as well,” Zoe said.
“Yeah, help your side business I see,” Leah said, wrapping her arms around Zoe as she watched. Zoe continued her work shifting things around in preparation for the final incantation to create the enchantment.
Everything was now ready, she concentrated on the enchantment and in seconds the soul gem was used and the piece of armor now held the enchantment as Leah picked it up.
“You’re getting better at this,” she said examining it.
“Been practicing,” Zoe replied.
“Come on, let’s grab something to eat,” Leah suggested.
Zoe didn’t argue as she headed downstairs along with Leah handing the piece of armor to Rayna to be sold. They made a nice profit for the suite, especially armor made by the Dragonborn. Sometimes she would get custom orders but mostly it was her tinkering with armor and enchantments.
Making her way over to a table which Leah set down two glasses waiting for Zoe to join her. Zoe took a sip.
“Nice, Honnybrew isn’t it?” Zoe asked.
“Yeah, one of their new stock,” Leah said, taking a sip herself.
“Feels nice not to have some adventure to be on, but I don’t want my skills to rust,” Zoe said.
“Feeling restless?” Leah asked.
Wyla set down two plates and moved off to help some other customers, flirting slightly with one of the guys at the other table. Zoe watched slightly amused at the blonde as she worked shaking her head wondering if the guy knew what was happening. Flirting to get a guy to spend a bit more, and it usually worked.
Even as she took a bit the door opened allowing a new person in the room. Zoe glanced over and noticed something about him seemed familiar to her. He was an older guy, worn armor yet had been well maintained. He seemed to stop a bit and look around before heading to the bar.
“Anyone you know?” Leah asked.
“Don’t think so,” Zoe replied, but there was something about him, she had seen him before from somewhere. She just couldn’t place him.
“Well, with so many people you’ve met I’d be surprised you could remember anyone,” Leah replied.
“But you can recall people who visit,” Zoe said.
“Yeah, interactions with them, talking to them, not passing by,” Leah said back to her.
The stranger now spoke to OMB behind the bar who merely looked on before stroking his beard. After a few more words he looked and pointed over at Zoe.
“Looks like he knows you, or wants something with you,” Leah said as the stranger started her way.
“Could be asking for you,” Zoe replied, but knew better as OMB had pointed in her direction. Whatever it was couldn’t be too bad considering he got by OMB.
The stranger walked over and stopped at the table looking at her for a few seconds before finally asking if he could have a seat.
Zoe glanced at Leah before motioning to the empty chair.
“You don’t recognize me,” he said finally.
“You look familiar, but in the past year I’ve seen a lot of faces,” Zoe replied causing him to chuckle slightly. “Somewhere up in Riften?”
“Nope, think dungeon diving,” he replied as Zoe suddenly went from thinking about someone in Skyrim to before she came up north. Suddenly she knew exactly who he was.
“Renold,” Zoe stated. “I don’t believe it, what are you doing up here?”
With that she stood to give an old friend a hug, sitting back down seeing Leah look on.
“Ah, Renold, my lover Leah,” Zoe said, motioning towards her.
“Pleasure,” he said giving her a smile. “You’re tastes have improved.”
“Flatterer,” Zoe replied back to him.
“Only telling the truth,” he replied as Leah looked back and forth between them both.
“I knew him back before I came up here,” Zoe said. “He tried to keep me out of trouble.”
That caused Leah to chuckle.
“Ah, I see you understand the problem there,” Renold replied. “Always was trouble.”
“Me, I was just trying to survive,” Zoe replied.
“Is that what you call it, running all over Skyrim on this adventure or that adventure,” Leah replied back to her.
“Well, that was different, I was trying to figure out what was going on,” Zoe replied.
“I’ve heard stories, the Dragonborn,” Renold replied, sounding impressed. “What else have you done?”
“Oh, a little bit of everything, from working for the Companions to the College of Wiiterhelm,” Zoe replied.
“I see, you’ve been busy,” Renold replied. “Stories of the Dragonborn have reached even Imperial City. Though I was surprised to learn the stories were about you.”
“I was surprised as well,” Zoe said.
“And this place?” Renold said, taking a look around, his gaze lingering on several of the other workers, including Trudy.
“Ah, seems I inherited it and am now the owner of it,” Zoe said.
“Yeah, its better than a lot of places I’ve seen, that’s for sure,” Renold replied. “And the, um, scenery, is very lovely.”
“Surprised me as well,” Zoe said with a slight chuckle at the scenery. They all knew what he meant. “Got a note about it the day I left the city.”
“Ah, the day your house burned down, probably something to do with Valis,” he stated surprising her. “Oh, don’t be surprised, I think everyone figured he had some sort of unnatural obsession with you. Then you up and disappeared the very next day and he seemed most irritated at that. The rumor was there was a shake-up within the Thalmor at the city after that.”
Zoe’s eyebrow’s rose at that not realizing how much Valis had gone through to go after her.
“A year goes by and then I get this job to deliver a message to you from a Thalmor of all people,” Renold stated.
“Message?” Zoe asked, wondering what this was about.
“Yeah, there is another big upheaval going on, rumor is a lot of infighting over something which happened recently, hush-hush stuff. You know, the stuff which you can’t keep rumors swirling about,” he said.
Zoe had a feeling she knew what those rumors were about, Valis’ death and his obsession with her.
“Anyways, this job comes up, they’re looking for some messenger to head to Skyrim, deliver a message to Zoe Scatlite, so of course I accepted. Said to look for the Bathing Beauties Luxury Suite, gave me directions,” he said to her. “And now that I’ve found you here is the message.”
Zoe accepted the scroll, wondering what the Thalmor had decided.
It has come to our attention that you were involved in the death of a high-ranking official, Valis.
After listening to eye-witness accounts and actions done that day it has been decided not to pursue any further actions and Valis’ death was the result of an accident.
No charges will be brought at this time, however it is advisable to stay clear of any further entanglements with any ranking Thalmor officials.
It was signed Elewen. Zoe gave a slight laugh knowing the real reason. They didn’t want the embarrassment of what Valis did to be public and ruin their image.
“So, what does it say,” Leah asked, as Zoe handed it to her watching her face as she read it.
“Pompous elves,” Leah finally said. “But, at least that’s over.”
“So, is the rumor true that Valis is dead? Most of what we can figure is he was transferred due to some incident,” Renold stated.
“Yeah, died right outside trying to attack Zoe,” Leah said speaking up before Zoe could.
She watched Renold shake his head at that bit of news.
“Talos, even I can tell you’ve changed, you have that air of an experienced warrior now,” he said to her. “I always saw it lurking there, hidden by your doubts and fears.”
“Yeah, I guess that was pushed aside when I got here,” Zoe said.
“Oh, what happened then?”
“Nothing much, got captured in a raid between forces in the brewing civil war, sent to the execution block,” Zoe said, watching his eyes go wide. “Even had my head on the chopping block when this dragon swooped down and started destroying everything in sight.”
“Whoa, close call,” he said.
“Yeah, but while escaping had no choice but to either push aside that fear and doubt or die,” Zoe said. “Then I went dungeon diving right after that for the mage of the Jarl which set me up on my second encounter against a dragon. That was a fight, and upon defeating it I learned I was the Dragonborn. Then got summoned by the Greybeards and the rest was history as they say.”
“I see,” Renold said.
“And since, fought a lot of dragons, vampires, and more. Even helped some of the divine nines in my travels,” Zoe said.
“And fought Alduin in Sovngarde,” Leah said speaking up watching as Renold’s eyes went wide.
“Explains why you’ve gained so much confidence compared to last time I saw you. Valis stood no chance, also explains the Thalmor’s position,” he stated. “Stories of your exploits are told in the inns all across the city, and beyond.”
That bit of news shocked Zoe.
“Probably can’t do anything to you without information about Valis’ obsession of you coming out,” Leah said.
“And it would put a blemish on the Thalmor’s ideology,” Renold replied. “It’s something which has been talked about in the shadows.”
“At least we don’t have to worry about them,” Leah said.
“Yeah,” Zoe said, hoping they never found out about her other activities, like freeing prisoners of the Thalmor, or her little excursion into the embassy shortly after she arrived. Of course only a few knew of that, and was already dead. “So, how long are you staying?”
“Ah, not sure, might stay around for a bit before heading back,” Renold said. “It’s interesting up here.”
“Yeah, it is,” Zoe said, looking around herself.
So much had changed for her in the past year. Before heading up here she was barely surviving, hunting and other such things, now she was almost a household name throughout Skyrim, knowing many personally. Add in the fact stories of her adventures had reached beyond Skyrim it all seemed amazing.
“Did you have any dragons close to the Imperial City?” Zoe asked, the question suddenly coming to her.
“There were rumors of a couple, but no towns were attacked that I know of,” Renold replied.
“Guess that’s good news,” Zoe said.
“They terrorized us up here, people were afraid to travel,” Leah said.
“Bet that affected business,” Renold stated looking around again.
“We did okay,” Leah said, “I do expect business to pick up even more now.”
“And what about you?” Renold asked, looking at Zoe. “Retired now?”
“Not really,” Zoe said.
“Know any good dungeons around here,” he asked.
“Yeah I do,” Zoe said smiling as Leah shook her head. Perhaps there was something to do.