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
Back With The Priests, Final Plans, and a Killing or Two is Reported...
(Enter Prologue, the Adventurer, Ortho, Nephron, the Five Armorers, and Prologue)
PROLOGUE: Our roguish Dark Elf, the Adventurer has plummeted before our stunned eyes, from the king of the spider web of intrigue to a pathetic, crawling lump of Argonian excrement. In the quest for Fools' Ebony, that substance that all would kill for, the Adventurer attempted to play Mage against Priest with the help of the merchant Nephron. Alas, that is to say, alackaday, the five armorers have trapped Nephron and the Adventurer and taken over their scheme. The hulking Ortho now watches the Adventurer's every move. But I get the feeling -- to be honest, don't you? -- that beneath the Adventurer's defeated quivering jelly lurks a jungle cat of such cunning and resource to shatter all his enemies when the time is right. Of course, I could be wrong. Ah, I see one of the priests of Akatosh who believes himself a friend of the Adventurer. I, Prologue must away.
(Exit Prologue) (Enter Lheban, a Priest of Akatosh.)
LHEBAN: Evening there, mind if I join you?
ADVENTURER: Well ... since you already have - no. And where is our esteemed brother Komon this chill evening?
LHEBAN: You mean you haven't heard -- Oh, I guess you have been busy with the ... preparations?
ADVENTURER: Right, right, very busy...
LHEBAN: Then let me tell you -- Oh, what a bad business. What trouble ... Oh Dear ... Well ... you doubtless recall that poor Komon had this ... er ... problem -- overwork of course!
ADVENTURER: Oh yes -- you fellows do work exceeding hard, seems to me.
LHEBAN: Well ... recall how Komon left, somewhat erratically as it were, and ... er ... made off with that young blondie under the lamppost outside? Well -- in his ... er ... state of confusion - he grabbed the wrong blondie - Oh My, indeed the wrong one ...
ADVENTURER: They all look pretty much the same to me, but of course, I do not look too hard!
LHEBAN: Oh My! Well, to cut a short tale to the bone, old Komon grabbed a Contessa, who had thought to 'disguise herself.' Oh Dear!
ADVENTURER: Well -- did she get away? Did they catch Komon? What happened?
LHEBAN: Well, old Komon, tipsy as he was, was quick as spit in a gale. Eluded all pursuit, took the lady to a small private ... retreat house that we have. Oh Dear Me! Well, the City Guards, Palace guards, half a dozen Royals, all caught up with Komon 3 days later. One day too late for the poor Contessa -- I hear that they had a hard time locating all the ... er ... bits and pieces. Komon was there, passed out cold. And another body, some common blond lamppost girl. And by now he is cold -- permanently, most likely at the bottom of the Bay.
ADVENTURER: Oh well. Serves the Contessa right, coming down to this area. But I suppose that there are repercussions?
(Enter two more Priests, Raic and Stete of Julianos, and four armed City Guards.)
RAIC: Evening, Lheban. Evening, Adventurer. And --
ORTHO: Me am Ortho.
RAIC: Yesss. Charmed. And Lheban, you indeed have my sympathies ... if there is anything we can do to help -- our Temple of Julianos, that is ..? But really, you should have kept Komon on a tighter leash - or preferably a noose!
ADVENTURER: Hello Raic. And hello to you, Stete - how's your sister?
STETE: Oh, she's great.
(Raic sets Stete on fire, but it goes out)
LHEBAN: Yes, I know I know. Oh the repercussions! Do you know that the Priests of Akatosh to Daggerfall Castle, Wayrest Palace and just about everywhere else have all been thrown out? That the Royal tax exemption for the Chantry has been revoked? That the Akatosh Chantry has just received a 'past due taxes' bill? Oh My!
ADVENTURER: Well ... I suppose that we could help somewhat, maybe? Maybe a small loan from Julianos for that tax bill? With, say, a Temple as security? Oh -- are not the taxes based on the number of the Priests of Akatosh? So, maybe ... the School of Julianos could take over a ... significant number? Reduce your tax bill? You realize that this is not the best time for this -- just as we need a lot of funds for that expedition that I am arranging for you.
LHEBAN: Oh, I am so sorry about Komon! But, yes, maybe if good brother Raic could -- I hate to say this -- take over a greater share of the financial burden ..? In return, of course, for ... er ... considerations ..?
RAIC: Hmm. Like a good number of 'permanently' loaned priests? A long look at your books? At your cellar? Your name-lists? A Temple as security on our loan? And, of course, a bigger cut in the proceeds of this ... expedition? Names of your ... er ... suppliers ..?
LHEBAN: Oh. I foresaw something like this, talked a bit about it with old Mucky-Muck - livid, he was. But, as I am a Senior Brother, he finally authorized me to 'take care of it.' Those weren't his exact words, mind you, which were quite a bit ...longer, more explicit ... but the gist, at least.
ADVENTURER: Of course, Lheban. If -- and note I say 'if' -- if we are successful, why then you can easily get back into good graces at the Palace. Merely sell them the goods, as a good low rate! With first refusal on any shipment you have? What's one Contessa to them, anyway?
LHEBAN: Yes, yes! That could work! Worth a try. But how? Royals will not talk to anyone from the Akatosh Chantry now.
ADVENTURER: Leave that to me, I can make ... approaches to certain ones. Yes, I can probably persuade them to let up on the Chantry, in return for... future favors ...
LHEBAN: Oh, Oh how can I thank you?
ADVENTURER: Well, I need a fair amount of gold to finish setting up my little trip. Maybe 10,000? Special horses, reinforced carts, cartiers, guards ... the list goes on and on. And the cost of keeping our little trip quiet is really quite high.
LHEBAN: Well, yes, we can afford it, I guess -- you do have the map now, don't you? I know we can afford 8,000 gold. Given the potential profits ...
ADVENTURER: Rest easy! - it's all here in my cloak -- show you in a bit. I've also managed to ... hire some good young hefty fellows, like old Ortho here, to manage the carts, dig and load, act as guards, and so on ...
LHEBAN: Good, good - I can relax a bit. Oh my, the fellows back at the Chantry will be so relieved. We really owe you, the Brotherhood does -- Oh, I mean the Akatosh Chantry, of course!
STETE: Brotherhood ..? What about our sisterhood, eh?
(Raic grapples Stete, allowing Lheban to hit Stete with a large mallet)
ADVENTURER: Well, Raic, what about you and the School? How much are you good for, the extra 2000? And maybe some more - always lots of last minute expenses on a trip like this, you know.
RAIC: Well now. Since we seem to getting a whole extra sect of Priests, and ... other considerations ... Certainly!
ADVENTURER: Well, gentlemen -- Oh, and Stete -- here it is!
(The Adventurer pulls out a map, gives it to Raic)
Oh, by the Arms of Zenithar, did I ever have to work hard for this! Those cagey Mages! But, in the end, just greedy old fools! ... Oh, just in case you or your, er, Head Priest, hasn't seen the goods -- here's a sample. Play with it.
(The Adventurer hands Raic a small leather bag)
RAIC: Thank you, thank you. I must admit, I had some ... well, some doubts. You know - dealing with a stranger, so on ... No more. Partner!
ADVENTURER: Good, good!
STETE: Say, you fellows ever hear this one -- what's a Priest keep under his robe? Haha -- His sister! Haheheha!
(The Adventurer, Lheban, and Raic beat Stete into unconsciousness)
RAIC: You know, I fear that we really have to do something about young Stete here ... his sister thing ... ugh!
ADVENTURER: Yes, he could be another Komon -- just what don't need!
LHEBAN: Hmmmm. This sister of his -- does she really -- exist?
RAIC: Oh yes. My. Oh yes. We know her well - I mean, we have often seen her ...
LHEBAN: I think, Brother, that she should be made to see the errors of her ways. So she is no longer an influence on Stete ...
RAIC: Yes, most certainly ... Hmmm ...
LHEBAN: A somewhat Dibelytical theological point -- Oh, please excuse the technical discussion here - Raic, if we are to make her see the errors -- well, how shall I put it -- we first have to know just what the ... ways ... are, correct?
RAIC: Indeed, an astute observation! Hmmm ... so you are suggesting that ... in a nut, we should first determine her ... ways, so as to be able to then show her the ... er ... errors?
LHEBAN: Precisely! Mind you, a difficult, ardous, tiring project, I fear. One that will take all our ... will and energy.
RAIC: Hmmm, true. But challenging, eh? Take all our time - but then, we shall have some time, while friend the Adventurer here is off hauling and carting.
LHEBAN: And ... I personally, would feel far safer if we were ... in retreat maybe. Studying the ways ..?
ADVENTURER: Yeah -- be a good idea for you two to, maybe, disappear? For a while, of course. Cut down on the chances of a ... rival faction catching on? Or catching you?
RAIC: Very well! Lheban, why don't you and I take his sister off with us on a ... theological retreat, as it were? Study the ways in details, and so on ...
LHEBAN: We could go to that unused little Temple, up on that shoulder of Edward's Mountain ... out of the way, quiet ...
RAIC: Door has locks ...
LHEBAN: Thick walls ...
RAIC: A big cellar ...
LHEBAN: Good! It's settled then. A theological retreat! Oh goody!
RAIC: Of course, once we know the ... er ... ways in detail, we can of course tell old High Mucky-Muck, and let him take care of the ... er ... showing of the errors ..? Yes, that would improve his mood quite a bit ...
LHEBAN: Then it's agreed. Let's start, say, day after tomorrow?
RAIC: Yes! Adventurer, why don't I meet you at, oh, that horrid ugly statue of ... what on Tamriel is it? - a harpy and a gargoyle? Called something silly like 'Vendigao and Her Lover' or some such? Up in the north west corner of the town. Oh, and can I keep the map?
ADVENTURER: Sure, keep it, I have a copy. And you will pass me a small bag, there at that nasty statue?
RAIC: Have it all ready for you -- say, ten o'clock sharp? Oh, Lheban, another thought about young Stete here. He really needs some ... seasoning in the field, one might say ...?
LHEBAN: Hmmm. Good point ... I know! The priest who handles field assignments is coming by tomorrow. We could arrange an ... educational ...assignment for Stete?
RAIC: Very good! But where ... hmmm ... Winter's coming soon now. There's a vacancy up in Solitude, far north Skyrim, I believe. Night collections at street corners, or some such. Very Good! Come on, Lheban. We have accounts to work on. Good night to you then, Adventurer. Ten tomorrow morning! (Lheban, Raic rise to leave, picking up Stete)
Lheban and Raic (Together): ... have to arrange some supplies ... ... leather, rope ... holy wine .... ... lots of that pink powder ... I prefer the green, myself ...
(Exeunt Lheban, Raic dragging Stete, and City Guard)
ADVENTURER: Excellent. Went just as I said it would. Got 5000 gold from them. And, thanks to your work with that Contessa ... we have the screws on the Chantry. And the School of Julianos is going to be ... otherwise engaged ... on a theological retreat. More like a Sanguine retreat!
NEPHRON: And those Mages Shub and Shub seem to have disappeared ...
ADVENTURER: So we are set?
NEPHRON: Yes, you can come by my warehouse tomorrow afternoon. Have the heavy carts waiting.
ORTHO: And Ortho ...
NEPHRON: Oh yes, must not forget you fellows. How kind of you to ... volunteer your services ...
ADVENTURER: Tomorrow, then!
(Exeunt omnes) (Last person to leave looks just like a Royal in disguise ...) (Enter Epilogue)
EPILOGUE: Well, we only have one part left to this play and I've run out counting the number of loose strings. Either Part the Sixth is going to be eight hours long, or we're going to leave some parts unsolved. I for one hope that they don't chose to drop the character of the Wanton Contessa. For Jephre's sake, she's been on the Dramatis Personae since Part the Oneth. Ah, well. Nobody leave your seat. Your gold will not be refunded. Any gold you can spare to tip your friendly wenches will be greatly appreciated. We just have a quick costume change and a set to put together and we'll be back. In the meanwhile, enjoy our bard's rendition of the Nordic classic "Alas, The Fleeting Years Glide By."
So Endeth Part The Five