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
Mercantile Dealings, The Armorers Involve Themselves. After some general discussion and verbal dancing around, finally the topic of Fools' Ebony is explored ...
Somewhere near the market, in the back of a store called "Nephron's General Mercantile."
The day after.
(Enter Prologue, the Adventurer, and NEPHRON)
PROLOGUE: Whilst the actors playing the Adventurer and the merchant Nephron dramatically move their mouths to pantomime a conversation, it is on poor Prologue's shoulders to update the audience on the play's actions in its first three acts. The Adventurer, a rogue of a Dunmer, has been hired two different groups—four inebriated priests and two greedy mages—to delay the other group, and find the lost cache of Fools' Ebony in the Wrothgarian Mountains. Now, picture this clownishly decorated set as the back room at a prosperous merchant's shop. And before the Adventurer and Nephron develop lockjaw, Prologue will leave you thus.
ADVENTURER: So you see, friend Nephron, just what an opportunity we have here. We have this new commodity, for which you agree there will be a huge demand.
NEPHRON: Especially from the Royals—once one of them has something new, they all want it, of course.
ADVENTURER: And do not forget the Armorers for their forges, and the Alchemists for their retorts and whatnots...
NEPHRON: You seem to have the Mages lined up nicely, got their location, memorized the access map, and so on - you know, we merchants have had a suspicion for quite some time that those old twits had some deep dark secret of interest to us... Now, the priests - the School of Julianos we already work well with, hand and glove, you might say. But of course we shall cut them out of the major profits—maybe let them distribute some to their flocks? And their Temples make good, how can I say? -- storehouses? But the Akatosh Chantry is a problem, always running off and doing things on their own initiative, no cooperation, just crazy people ... we really need to do something about them, to ... er ... ensure their cooperation ...
ADVENTURER: I have a suggestion that might help ... you recall how old Komon left and apparently dragged off some little blonde lamppost girl ... just suppose, that just by chance, in his state of ... befuddlement ... he dragged off someone important by mistake..? Might be a lot of trouble for the Chantry, if word got out?
NEPHRON: Hmmm. Indeed ... there's this silly little blonde Royal who's all excited by the 'real life' down in these parts of town. Disguises herself (or so she thinks), comes on down here and plays at being poor. Stupid little twit ... Komon is still in hiding with his blonde, right?
ADVENTURER: Yes, in that 'retreat' the Priests have, down near the waterfront.
NEPHRON: Oh yes, I know that place - often sell them some 'spiritual powders' and so on ... Good ... you see, just imagine what would happen if Komon, by mistake, had grabbed this slumming little Contessa ... Akatosh Chantry would have no end of trouble from the palace if something nasty happened to her ... and then we could move in, offer to 'help' the Chantry during their hard times ... Hmmm. Yes! Leave it to me, I shall contact a few of my ... er ... business associates, as it were ... make some arrangements.
ADVENTURER: And I'll keep up chatting with the priests, get them to support our little business venture?
NEPHRON: Right! And I should introduce you to some of the more senior members of our Brotherhood... excuse me, Guild. Let me contact you in a few days, when everything is all set. You are here every evening?
ADVENTURER: Yes, not particularly safe outside after dark these days.
NEPHRON: I see. We shall have to arrange some ... protection for you. Well, in a few days, then.
(Exit Nephron, inconspicuously) (Enter FIVE ARMORERS)
(Armorers and the Adventurer fight) (The Adventurer falls)
(The Armorers tie the Adventurer up and then wake him up)
ARMORER 1: OK, fellow. Lets not spriggen-foot around! We know about this Fools' Ebony thing. And about the Mages who apparently discovered the location. And we have been watching you dance around with the Priests, the Mages, the Merchants. Just about everyone with two feet!
ARMORER 2: And how you are really working with Nephron.
ARMORER 3: And how you are double-crossing the Priests and Mages ...
ARMORER 2: You and Nephron are really doing a good job on the Akatosh Chantry, we must admit.
ARMORER 1: But now, we want that Fool's Ebony supply. We need it to increase our production, our quality—and our prices. We can work with Nephron and his gang, we need warehouses and distribution anyway.
ARMORER 4: We could torture it out of you ...
ARMORER 3: We could let the Priests know about your plans—they would throw you to the Afterdark Society in a flash!
ARMORER 5: We could let the Mages know—they would send you to Oblivion for a very, very long time!
ARMORER 1: But we would rather you 'joined' our Guild. We cannot afford to leave Daggerfall for some hairy wilderness trip. Too much demand these days, for our services.
ARMORER 2: But we can send a group of our apprentices along to keep you company.
ARMORER 4: Our apprentices usually test all our products ... and will be just itching to test out there.
ADVENTURER: Gentlemen, gentlemen! Please - I really was going to give the whole deal to you, once I had gotten gold from everyone else.
(Armorer 5 slaps the Adventurer with a hot poker)
Ohhh ... well, I thought of it...
ARMORER 5: Sure! And I'm a Nymph!
ADVENTURER: Yes, Yes, Yes, you are very persuasive. I would welcome an ... er ... escort and guard of such tough gentlemen. Be very handy out there.
ARMORER 1: Good. Thought you would see it our way! Some of our other members are presently having a little ... chat with Nephron. We can handle him. And from now on, two of our bigger apprentices will always be close at hand. Protection, of course - this town can be quite dangerous at night ...
ARMORER 3: So continue with your arrangements, work with Nephron. You can always leave word about your departure date with any weapons shop. And about any problems you may have ...
ADVENTURER: Certainly, gentlemen. Yes, you are indeed very persuasive. I shall keep you up to date. And, er...thanks for the protection.
(Enter ORTHO, the very large apprentice) (The Adventurer is untied) (Exeunt Five Armorers)
ADVENTURER: Hello, who are you?
ORTHO: Me am Ortho!
ADVENTURER: My ... protection?
ORTHO: Me am Ortho!
ADVENTURER: You look very familiar to me for some reason. Have you every been to Morrowind?
ORTHO: Me am Ortho!
ADVENTURER: Fine then. (aside) My old man used to say the very worst thing that can happen to a fellow is an evening spent in the company of an earnest politician. This, I think, is a close second.
(Exeunt the Adventurer and Ortho) (Enter Epilogue)
EPILOGUE: Our play has six parts, and we've just finished the fourth. It's interesting I think that the Lusty Contessa has not made an appearance yet. You don't suppose our playwright forgot he put her in the Dramatis Personae, do you? Well, you'll only know if you come back for The Fools' Ebony, Part the Fiveth. And if your neighbor decides not to return, don't tell him what happened. We actors have to make a living too, you know. Don't forget to tip your wenches while we change the scene.
So Endeth Part The Fourth