This book is part of a six-part series on Fools' Ebony, as follows:
- Fools' Ebony, Book I
- Fools' Ebony, Book II
- Fools' Ebony, Book III
- Fools' Ebony, Book IV
- Fools' Ebony, Book V
- Fools' Ebony, Book VI
- Random locations
In The Mages' Guild, One to Three Days Later
PROLOGUE: We are now at the halfway point of our disjointed epic. If you are just arriving, you have missed little. The Adventurer, our rogue Dark Elf, has joined with a quadripartite (that's a triumvirate plus one) of priests intent on discovering a burning metal called Fools' Ebony and becoming wealthy. The priests have given our hero some gold for bribing merchants, but the only people who know where the Fools' Ebony is are the mages of the Mages' Guild. As the Epilogue pointed out at the end of Part the Twoth, there is no such thing as Fools' Ebony and real Ebony is not mined. Something our playwright apparently did not research. Well, accept it as high fantasy, if you will. Or whatever. Hark, here comes our hero now. Imagine the miasma (if that's the word I want) of magical elixirs, bubbling cauldrons, hovering balls of sparkling whatnot. And now, the Prologue must depart.
(Enter the Adventurer and SHUB)
ADVENTURER: Ho! Anyone around?
SHUB: Over here, young man, in the corner ...
ADVENTURER: Morning. Do I call you ... Shub ..?
SHUB: Oh yes, Shub is my name, Shub it is ... How on Tamriel did you know?
ADVENTURER: Can we have some ... privacy ... I have a somewhat ... er ... delicate matter to discuss..?
SHUB: No need for privacy here! We Mages do not hide anything!
ADVENTURER: Fools' Ebony?
SHUB: Quick through this door ..! Turn right ... Turn left ... Ah ... just let me throw a privacy spell around us ...
(Loud zap sounds) (Enter SHUB)
Good! Now Sir—Oh, by the way, meet my fellow Mage, Shub.
SHUB: Now, you mentioned Fools' Ebony ..?
ADVENTURER: Well, I fancy myself a bit of an expert in ebony. Had quite a bit come and go through my hands in my time, I have ...
ADVENTURER: Hands off the toys, gentlemen, please!
SHUB: Forgive us—but we so appreciate such fine items ...
SHUB: ... collect them too ...
ADVENTURER: Well, the other day, just by chance of course, I just happened to hear two priests of the Temple of ... er ... Stendarr, I think it was ... They were a bit high in their cups, I think, a bit loud, and never noticed me skulking—I mean, standing—there. They were going on about this Fools' Ebony - stuff like the real thing, only no magicka at all. None. But it burns like wood, only longer, hotter, no smoke, nice even heat.
SHUB: Yes ... we have heard similar rumors. Seen a bit of that stuff—lumps from a sack or two that some crazed delver dragged up, that kind of thing. Right, Shub?
SHUB: Oh - Oh yes, right, that kind of thing ... right ...
(aside) I must remember to keep the secret, whatever it is.
ADVENTURER: Well, these fool priests seemed to talk as if they knew a location for lots, I mean piles, of that stuff—somewhere up in the Wrothgarians...
SHUB and SHUB (Together): Where! Who! Did they say? How? When? Where?
SHUB: You didn't let them know you were listening, did you?
ADVENTURER: Of course not! What do you take me for, a priest lover?
SHUB: Calm yourself, my lord ... that's better...just don't go fiddling with that katana so much. Makes us nervous.
SHUB: Yes, nervous, very ...
SHUB: Here, sit down. There. Want some mulled wine? No? Oh well, just have to finish it myself.
SHUB: So they seemed to know the location.
(aside) Hmmmm. This means we have to act fast, quickly, speedily, and with great rapidity.
ADVENTURER: Oh yes! They were talking like they were going to get a load in a few weeks or so ...
SHUB: Oh My! Oh Dear Me! Ohhh...
SHUB: Now then. Seems you know a fair amount about this Fools' Ebony. And you realize the potential—just think, big warm fires in all our study rooms ...
SHUB and SHUB (Together): ... Selling it to the Palace... selling it to those stupid Alchemists ... the Armorer's Guild would be good for a lot ... ...keep out familiars nice and warm ... ... and our posteriors ..! ... just think how Daedra Seducers love a nice warm fire ... Giving smoldering lumps to the peasants to warm their hovels with - in return for some gold, of course ...
SHUB: ...just think of all that gold...
SHUB: Trouble is, son - we would like to get that stuff by the cartload, bring it down here ...
SHUB: Have some trustworthy merchant ...
SHUB: Put a spell on him!
SHUB: ... Have some merchant act as sort of, middleman, for us ...
ADVENTURER: But ... then why the delay, gentlemen?
SHUB: You seem like an honest fellow. We'll tell you—mind you, you let out a word of this, and there will be a Fire Daedra in your bed ... but no threats between gentlemen, right!
ADVENTURER: Very well—I shall be the very soul of discretion.
SHUB: You see, we know where the stuff it, cartloads and cartloads of it. But we can't get there and back ...
SHUB: We are not the outdoorsy types.
SHUB: Far safer here in town.
SHUB: Much warmer too.
SHUB: Think of all the supplies we would have to take.
SHUB: All those nasty things out there.
SHUB: Did you know that seducers won't come to us in the wilderness?
SHUB: We'd have to hire guards, to keep those awful priests away.
SHUB: And the strain of dealing with all those coarse types ... the Merchants.
SHUB: The Armorers.
SHUB: The Royals.
ADVENTURER: Mmm. I think I comprehend. You want some—experienced explorer-hero type, someone used to the wilderness - to go get it for you, set up a supply line, so on ..?
SHUB: Exactly. And find us a nice, usable merchant. Someone we can control.
SHUB: With a big, big warehouse, delivery service, that kind of thing ...
ADVENTURER: Well, gentlemen. Let me volunteer my services! I have always admired you Mage gentlemen—so clever, so sharp. No fooling you in anything, is there?
SHUB: No, no fooling us ...
PROLOGUE: This, ladies and gentlemen, is irony.
ADVENTURER: Tell you what, I can probably arrange a suitable merchant or you. Take some gold though—those thieves know the value of a gold piece! As luck would have it, my last gold was swindled off me by a thieving priest, in some little town south of here. And I lost a lot of good stuff in a shipwreck just before that ...
SHUB: Well ... since you have agreed to help us ... we can spare some gold from the treasury, can't we, Shub?
SHUB: Oh! Oh yes, lots there ... always make more ...
ADVENTURER: Now, I do need to know roughly where this site is, got to pick the right breed of horse, calculate my supplies to the last drop, figure out what weapons I might need ... supplies, like food, little things like that ... diameter of the cart wheels in square yurts ... ambush points for the priests, in case they try to get up there ... mmmmm ...
SHUB: Tell you what - here is 500 gold. Go get things started.
SHUB: Yes ... we can always make some more.
SHUB: (aside, to Shub) Shut up!
(Shub fires a spell at Shub that burns him to a cinder and then reconstitutes him)
(to all) Excuse us ... where was I ... Oh ... get a merchant, guards, carts, whatever you think it will take. Come back if you need more.
SHUB: But what about those priests?
ADVENTURER: I've an idea or two there. Let me get friendly with them - maybe hire a couple of good lamppost girls, lay in a few cases of holy wine ... I'll have them eating out of my hand in no time. And if you show me where this Fools' Ebony is ... why, I can misdirect them, send them straight into an trolls' den or something.
SHUB: You're the expert! Here, let me show you on a map ... and I don't need to mention Fire Daedras, do I?
ADVENTURER: So ... seems to be ... hmmmm ... only thirty days there, this time of year. Maybe forty back, with the loads. Let me study this a bit more ...
SHUB: Can't take it with you, of course ... don't want this getting out now ...
ADVENTURER: Oh no. That's fine. Look, let me have a bit more gold. Going to need some heavy-duty carts. See here, this section ... cut by all these washes ... hmmmm ... the flummox there will be something terrible ... Oh, and these ruins, full of ghosts, I bet ... hmmmm ... and this pass, just full of willies too ...
SHUB: If you say so ... My, seems that we picked the right man, right, Shub!
SHUB: Oh yes, indeed.
ADVENTURER: So—why don't I make arrangements, get back to you in ... er ... say a week? Say—sure that you don't want to come with me. After all, there's nothing like the wilderness life. Waking up with the sun, shaking off the frost. Catching an orc for breakfast - ever have orc guts fried over stinkwood? Oh, that's a treat! Checking each stream for dead giant spiders - or live ones! Imp jerky for lunch! Scanning the ridges for dragonlings! Standing guard against Ice Daedra in a blinding snowstorm! Oh, what a life!
SHUB and SHUB (Together): No, no ... we, we better stay here at the Guild. Got our duties after all ... someones got to mind the store ... someones got to get the word out to selected customers ... No, thank you kind Sir, it does sound such a lovely life, but I think we best be here ... yes, indeed ...
ADVENTURER: A pity, gentlemen. Well, I'll be about it then. And don't worry if you see me with those priests—got to mislead and misdirect them, haven't I!
SHUB: One week, then!
(Exeunt Shub, the Adventurer, and Shub) (Enter Epilogue)
EPILOGUE: Shub and Shub, ladies and gentlemen. Implausibly retarded mages, yes, but perhaps there's something more to them than this act suggests. Do you think so, maybe? Well, if you are not in the theater for Part the Fourth, you won't know for certain, will you? Don't forget to tip your wenches and think on that while we change the set.
So Endeth Part the Three