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
Scene 1: In The Adventurer's suite at the Dead Daedra Inn.
(Enter Prologue, the Adventurer, and Ortho. Ortho climbs into bed.)
PROLOGUE: Thank you for allowing us the time to change the meager set, while our bard sang that old favorite, "Hail and Farewell." Now then, imagine, if you will, the luxuriant and langorous suite of that Dark Elven rogue, the Adventurer, at the Dead Daedra Inn. The time is shortly after the last scene, which if you've forgotten, ended with our hero and his partner-in-crime, Nephron, making some arrangements to swindle from the mages, priests, and armorers. All are interested in getting their hands on a lode of Fools' Ebony, a miraculous burning mineral, and the priests and mages each consider the Adventurer their ally. The Armorers know better and have assigned one of their apprentices, Ortho, to watch the Adventurer's movements. Now, as Ortho slumbers, the Adventurer has his first moment of peace in days. I should mention that in the interest of common decency, this scene has been abbreviated from the original by order of the Guild of Playwrights, Actors, and Dramatists. It now contains little material of relevance. A full copy may be obtained from the playwright after the show for a mere 50 g.p. copying fee. Now is the time for poor Prologue to shuffle away.
(Exit Prologue) (The Adventurer begins to get undressed)
(Tap-tap at the door. Adventurer jumps, startled) (Snore from Ortho)
ADVENTURER: Who's there? I'm coming!
(Opens door - carefully) (Enter CONTESSA)
ADVENTURER: Er, well ... er ... Come In! Please.
(The Adventuer steps back, tripping over his trousers around his ankles ...)
CONTESSA: So sorry to surprise you, but I thought that we might find something in common ... Oh! You poor man, you have a wound! Here, let me fix that bandage ... it looks very fresh.
(Fixing bandage, properly this time)
ADVENTURER: Well, I ... just opened it up again. Evening exercises, calisthenics, so on...
CONTESSA: How did you get this cut - if you do not mind me asking?
ADVENTURER: No, not at all. I was ... in a fight, earlier. These three crazy people jumped me.
CONTESSA: Really? This cloth looks like part of a Mage's robe.
ADVENTURER: Well, yes, two of them were Mages.
CONTESSA: Oh My! You must have been very good, to defeat them.
ADVENTURER: Oh, ah, well, I've been in one or two fights. Not to be rude, but who are you?
CONTESSA: Oh, I am so sorry, I quite forgot the proper introductions. I am the Contessa Aveet Videspreed—call me Ave. From the Court at Daggerfall.
ADVENTURER (aside): By Oblivion, what now?
CONTESSA: Here, help me off with this robe, these inn rooms are always ... so hot. And let me check that bandage again, poor man. Ooh, you are wearing an ebony belt of stamina, and bracers of strength. Ooh, a bracelet of endurance. This is my lucky night.
ADVENTURER (aside): Help.
CONTESSA: Here, let me help you off with that old shirt - got to check you for any more cuts - they can go bad so easily, you know.
ADVENTURER (aside): Well, its not the Armorers this time. Maybe my luck has turned.
CONTESSA: Well, everything seems all right...very all right, in fact...
ADVENTURER: Er...well, Ave - tell me about ... er ... yourself.
CONTESSA: If you want - just for a bit -
ADVENTURER: Here, have some wine ...
PROLOGUE: Here our worthy playwright's speech has been heavily edited by the Guild of Playwrights, Actors, and Dramatists. I will endeavor to fill in those removed passages. I should first mention that the Contessa is not meant to be a relative of any noble currently in Castle Daggerfall. The Contessa Aveet regales the Adventurer with tales of the peculiar and hearty members of her royal family. She has many brothers and sisters. They are all very—close.
CONTESSA: I think I must have been a bastard. I was the only one with red hair, and an affinity for magicka. Everyone else tried to hide this skill of mine. I remember one spanking very well ...
PROLOGUE: The Contessa relates further differences between her siblings.
CONTESSA: While my sisters were learning to curtsey in ten different modes, and my brothers were learning flower-arranging, I used to sneak off into the woods or town. I soon learnt how to get what I wanted, from just about anyone. Just for example, there was this merchant who had three sons ...
PROLOGUE: The Contessa goes into detail about her training.
PROLOGUE: The Contessa relates an amusing anecdote, and then continues.
CONTESSA: And on bad days, I used to dig in my father's library. He had a marvelous collection of old texts. I was fascinated by Old Dwarvish, managed to learn it quite well, I think. Of course, no one has seen or spoken to one in years and years. So its probably perfectly useless knowledge. But I've always had an interest in collecting new knowledge. At the Mages Guild, they taught me an old High Elven tradition. You spread this potion all over your body...
PROLOGUE: The Contessa relates her current state of boredom.
CONTESSA: The life up at the Palace bores me so. My sisters ...
PROLOGUE: The Contessa's sisters are entertaining some visitors.
CONTESSA: And my brothers are now studying Advanced Floral Theory, so I come down here, do a little ... er ... business. I keep all my relations supplied with their favorite vices—so I can blackmail the whole rotten lot.
ADVENTURER: But isn't it dangerous, down here? Did I not hear that some young Contessa got killed, recently?
CONTESSA: That little twit was my cousin, and as far as I'm concerned, she got what she deserved. She thought she could just borrow a maids dress, muss up her hair, and pass for commoner. She was spotted the first minute she left the Palace gates. Now, I use illusion, craft, guile—and I carry weaponry. By the way, that was a neat scheme you and Neph cooked up.
ADVENTURER: Well, lets change the subject, can we? ... Just what do you carry? I can't see anything ... like a weapon, I mean ...
CONTESSA: Here, let me show you ...
ADVENTURER: Oh my, those are nice ... knives...
CONTESSA: And there're more ...
ADVENTURER: Oh yes...
CONTESSA: But we don't need these silly nasty weapons now, do we?
ADVENTURER: My, my—now those are what I call weapons ... Oh yes ... heavy duty, high class ones too, my ...
CONTESSA: I think its time that we put that ebony to the test ... to say nothing of your Mages Staff ...
PROLOGUE: At this point, extensive material has been removed. However, please remember that any scholar who truly wishes to peruse this material can obtain a copy for only 50 g.p. - hand-drawn illustrations are of course extra. The Contessa, after a bit of fun, volunteers to be a part of the Adventurer's party to find the fools' ebony lode. I know, I know. It didn't make much sense in the original draft either, if you want to know the truth.
ADVENTURER: Sure you want to go out there in the wilds?
CONTESSA: Oh, yes. I am so bored here. Well, not right here and now, but generally. And I can really be of assistance. I'm pretty good with woods survival, knife work, hand-to-hand ... and it gets cold out there at night, even for big ebony-wearing men like you ...
ADVENTURER: All right, then. Do you know where and why we are going?
CONTESSA: Oh, of course. It's all over Daggerfall. Everyone is watching and waiting to see what happens. There is even a lottery or two running ...
ADVENTURER: On what ..?
CONTESSA: Oh, your life.
ADVENTURER: Oh dear Oh dear! Oh my!
CONTESSA: Look, don't worry—I know all about the double-dealings with mages, priests, merchants, those crude armorers. And I intend that we come out on top. I love being on top. With the goods and the profits. I'll have yet another vice to sell to my stupid relatives in their boring palaces.
ADVENTURER: But won't it be us two against hordes?
CONTESSA: Oh no. Most everyone is waiting here in town to see what and who comes back. And I will have a surprise arranged for our 'escorts' - Ortho included. Out in the wilderness, they can be dealt with easily.
ADVENTURER: Tell me more.
CONTESSA: Certainly. But first ... lets see how many uses you have left in that ebony. Mmm, your Mages' Staff is in good shape ...
PROLOGUE: Exactly. Sorry to interrupt again, but we're going to have to stop this scene right here. After a frenzied night comes the placid dawn, tripping onto the sky like a budding rose. And then another day doth dawn, and then another. Ten dawns and ten frenzied nights pass as our wily Adventurer, the wanton Contessa, the clever and naughty Nephron, the loutish Ortho, and an assemblage of randy armorers and backsliding maidens take to the road. Imagine now that we are in the wildy wilderness of High Rock near the Wrothgarian Mountains.
(Enter Nephron and assorted lads and lasses) (Exit Prologue)
CONTESSA: I do so love a bucolic frolic.
ADVENTURER: It's getting pretty wild now. I guess the dangerous part is coming up tomorrow...?
CONTESSA: Yes, one last stop tonight, at that old inn up here—Minnie's Inn.
ADVENTURER: Minnie's Inn? Oh, those two old scholars who gave it all up, came to run the inn out here. they must get all of two customers a year.
CONTESSA: I think they like the solitude. It gives them time to study. They know a lot about old Dwarvish stuff - get them started on that, they will wear you ears out.
ADVENTURER: Er ... when does your surprise happen? I should probably know.
CONTESSA: Don't fret, dear. At the Inn tonight. Just sit back and enjoy the show.
PROLOGUE: Time passes, the carts roll, things happen in the backs of the carts. And there are strange furtive movements unnoticed by all, on the high ridges around. When next we see our players, they are at Minnie's Inn, home of Minnie and Crunn, the philosopher- innkeeps. Imagine, if you will, the rather dusty dining room of Minnie's Inn.
(Enter MINNIE, CRUNN, and GURNSEY) (Exit Prologue) (Gurnsey goes to Orthos' table with more ale for him. She sits down suddenly. She stares into Orthos' eyes, Ortho stares into hers. Mouths drop open.)
MINNIE: ... er ... Crunn ...
CRUNN: ... yes ... Minnie ...
MINNIE: ... I was thinking ...
CRUNN: ... yes, you were thinking, Minnie ...
MINNIE: ... er .... thinking ...
CRUNN: ... yes ...so was I ....
MINNIE: ... can't remember now ...
CRUNN: ... yes, Minnie ... Minnie ...
MINNIE: ... Yes ..?
CRUNN: ... Shut up ...
GURNSEY and ORTHO (Together): Moo ... oooh ... moo.
CONTESSA: See, Adventurer, Ortho's fixed.
ADVENTURER: Is he?
CONTESSA: You just watch.
ADVENTURER: And what about the other armorers?
CONTESSA: Any minute now.
(Ortho and serving girl arise, approach Adventurers' table. The floor shakes.)
ORTHO: This Gurnsey. Ortho love Gurnsey, oooh.
GURNSEY: Gurnsey love Ortho ... moo ...
ORTHO: We go get marry, we is.
ADVENTURER: Well, congratulations! And that was a fine long speech, Ortho!
ORTHO: We go raise piggies.
GURNSEY: Grows animals too, farmers be we.
(Exit Ortho and Gurnsey)
ADVENTURER: Extraordinary. Ave, I think that you must have been up here before.
CONTESSA: Oh yes. I often come up here to get away from the Palace and talk dwarves with Minnie and Crunn.
ADVENTURER: You mean that these two ancient ... er, Scholar-InnKeeps can actually talk and about dwarves?
(All but Adventurer, Contessa, Minnie, and Crunn fall asleep in their meat pies.)
CONTESSA: Oh yes, you must just be very patient. But look over at our other escorts ...
ADVENTURER: By the Lady!
CONTESSA: Minnie was an Alchemist before she met Crunn, and knows a lot of old forgotten Dwarvish potions.
ADVENTURER: But what do we do with the bodies?
CONTESSA: Wait ...
CONTESSA: Adventurer, meet Major Bloodnok, head of my own ...private little bodyguard. He's been with me since I was a mere girl. Served me very well, haven't you, Major?
MAJOR: We give our all, milady.
ADVENTURER: Pleased to meet you, Major.
CONTESSA: How are my other men?
ADVENTURER: (aside) Other men?
(Enter Other Men in Khajiit suits)
MAJOR: All present and accounted for, milady. Had a spot of bother with what looked like a party of Merchants following you. But they are out of the picture now, down a ravine. Only one thing.
MAJOR: Me and my men, we've been noticing sort of furtive movements, up on cliffs, on ridges—always just out of the corners of our eyes. And we keep getting this feeling of being watched. Now, me and my men, we're the best but there's something out there. Don't like it, not one bit.
CONTESSA: Oh Dear - and just when it was getting to be fun.
CRUNN: Where? ... oh ... Minnie ... you mean ... up ... there ... here ...
MINNIE: ... Dwarves, up there ...
CRUNN: ... How exciting ... mmmm ...
MINNIE: ... There, there, Crunn, calm down ... just dwarves ... I knew that one day they would ...
CRUNN: ... Wake up ..?
MINNIE: ... Come back ...
CRUNN: ... But ... I didn't go anywhere ...
MINNIE: ... The dwarves, Crunn ...
CRUNN: ... Oooh ... Back ... So excited ... Dwarves! ... oooh ...
CONTESSA: Well Major, is it possible?
MAJOR: Anything's possible, especially up here. Dwarves? I don't know. Me and my men, we'll get rid of this lot. There's a good deep mine shaft out back.
(Exit All, but the Adventurer and Contessa)
ADVENTURER: Dwarves, Ave! Is that trouble? I mean, they sort of own all the ebony down here, don't they?
CONTESSA: Maybe. I guess we just have to push on, see what develops. I can try to talk to them, maybe? Oh, and Adventurer, you'll have to drive the first cart. I'll take old Nephron's. We'll leave the other here—Spares for later.
ADVENTURER: What, no more bucolic frolics?
CONTESSA: Sorry, but we've got to get to the site and out again before the weather goes bad.
ADVENTURER: Can't your Major and his men, handle the carts?
CONTESSA: Oh, no. They will cover us from all sides and make certain there are no surprises.
ADVENTURER: Oh well. All good things end, I guess.
CONTESSA: Not quite. If you have any charges left in your bracelets of endurance, we can go upstairs and see what develops.
PROLOGUE: Well, I guess we all saw that coming. Scene 3 takes place some time later at the site. Flanked by the Major's men, the Adventurer and the Wanton Contessa successfully follow the map of the dear, departed mages. Imagine great veins of glistening ebonyesque material piercing the surface of the ground, and a nice warm fire of Fools Ebony where the Adventurer and the Contessa sprawl. To the west are signs that the weather is turning and the first major snowstorm of the year is coming. For some time, they have been mining and the Adventurer is beginning to feel the strain of actual labor.
ADVENTURER: I've got blisters on my hands from shovelling that black rot, blisters on my rear from that cart bench, and we are running out of ale. My bracelet is running down and my fingers are getting frostbite.
CONTESSA: What, your bracelet is running down? Oh, now that is serious.
(Enter Major, running)
MAJOR: Dwarves! Milady, dwarves, dozens of the little buggers caught my men! I'm sorry, milady.
(The Contessa jumps to her feet)
CONTESSA: Major, get out of here now. If you get away, you can maybe help us later. I'll try to talk to them.
(Exit Major) (Enter DWARVES)
CONTESSA: Hhjgys jjvvu klpss Jjqqx zzyzx.
DWARVES (Together): Jjpoo Kalagloo gashnoo bibloo franoo Xxnadoo
CONTESSA: Jnik? Balpo?
DWARVES (Together) :Gabloo! Wazzikoo! Eppapupu!
CONTESSA: Glooky, glooky, glooky.
ADVENTURER: Ave, whats going on?
CONTESSA: Relax. I think I've impressed them by talking their language. I don't understand everything, but it seems that they have only just 'woken up' or something. And that they will not let us take any of this Fool's Ebony—it's somehow related to the real stuff or something. And it really belongs to the Lords of Oblivion -- the Dwarves are just care or something.
ADVENTURER: Very interesting. Now, what about us?
CONTESSA: I made a deal with them the only way I could see. I told them about Minnie and Crunn, how those two old ones know lots of dwarven tales and legends. The dwarves tells me that, having just 'woken up' or something, they want three things—ale, women, and us to leave the Fools' Ebony alone.
ADVENTURER: Ah, flog my log.
CONTESSA: Well, I told them about all the ale down at Minnie's Inn. And about the 2 redheads there. They are going there, leaving right now. We may take one empty cart, 2 horses. And they will keep us guarded all the way there. They also said that they will—I don't know how—destroy all the Fool's Ebony here. It shouldn't be on the surface like this, they say. (aside) Dwarvish is a remarkably compact language.
ADVENTURER: By the great roaring buttocks of Sheogorath! All these blisters and backache for nothing! Ah well. At least we are still alive. For now ...
(Exeunt) (Enter Prologue)
PROLOGUE: Farnoo Lickety Kanoo Gadfloo. Oh, I'm terribly sorry. As Scene 4 begins, we are back at Minnie's Inn, where the dwarves appear to be on holiday.
(Enter the Adventurer, the Wanton Contessa, Minnie, Crunn, and Dwarves)
MINNIE: ... ga ... sszx ... spnoo? ...
CRUNN: ... glurky ...
DWARVES (Together): Jotcha potchka lazzo lanni joopy hoopy qui me amat, amat et canem meam
ADVENTURER: Ave, any ideas? I can't seem to work my magical items. And when the ale runs out ...
CONTESSA: Your ebony material is useless against them. Dwarves fashion the ebony, so I guess they can suppress it or something. Don't worry - just think, these dwarves have been asleep or something for hundreds of years. And Minnie has a huge stock of ale. Not many customers come this way, and she knows how to salt the ale just right to keep from spoiling for decades.
ADVENTURER: Oh, that's why my tongue always looks like a chunk of leather after a pint or two.
CONTESSA: Dwarves apparently love ale. I expect them all to pass out in an hour or so.
(Dwarves fall into comas)
CONTESSA: If not sooner. Come on, Adventurer. Grab a sack and start collecting! When the dwarves wake up, they'll finish the ale, and then us.
(The Wanton Contessa and Adventurer pillage the dwarves)
ADVENTURER: South, as fast as our horses will take us in this weather.
CONTESSA: If we make enough distance before they wake up, we'll be all right - I don't think that they will leave their precious mountains. I hope not.
PROLOGUE: The wailing wintery wind whirls wickedly, wafts whipping, wading waist-high, oh never mind. The Adventurer and the Contessa get lost in the snow storm. Several days later, we find them desperate for warmth and exhausted.
ADVENTURER: The horses have had it. They can't go another step and its going to snow again. No ale left, and just one loaf.
CONTESSA: It will have to do.
(Suddenly, a party of giants leaps on our hero and heroine. But after some quick work with Bracers of Firestorm, really dead giants lie around in heaps)
ADVENTURER: Anything left, Ave?
CONTESSA: No, no more fire anything - just my daggers
ADVENTURER: Same here, just a common shortsword. Curse Sheogorath for those dwarves! Those oafs chewed up our horses! Do you think the Major made it out?
CONTESSA: If anyone can, it's him. Guess we'll find out in town. Interesting thought just occurred to me. Don't giants hunt in several groups? Is that more I hear?
(sound of grumbling and gargling offstage)
ADVENTURER: Yes, there are more giants out there. Quick, Ave. Help me with this one.
(The Adventurer starts to disembowel a giant's body)
CONTESSA: What on Tamriel are you doing? This is not the time for studying anatomy!
ADVENTURER: Don't argue, climb inside!
CONTESSA: Poppydash and Baldercock! Inside that smelly dead giant? My dear Adventurer, I'm a Lady.
ADVENTURER: It's our only hope! The giant smell will hide our scent, and live giants never touch dead ones. Quick!
(The Adventurer and the Contessa climb inside the steaming giant's body)
ADVENTURER: Here, help me pull the skin shut - and try not to throw up. Don't make a sound.
PROLOGUE: A few hour pass.
(Exit Prologue) (The Adventurer and the Wanton Contessa poke their heads out of the giant's belly.)
ADVENTURER: They've all left, but it's snowing hard. Definitely getting real cold. We better stay here.
CONTESSA: It indeed is warm.
ADVENTURER: It will keep us warm, safe from the storm and giants, for a day or so if we can stand the smell. Here, want some bread?
(The Contessa falls victim to nausea)
PROLOGUE: For this, the last scene of the play, please forgive us, but we need to change the set. Remove the "giant corpses" and whatnot. Please be patient while our bard performs the timeless classic "Whither Goest Thou?"
(Bard plays "Whither Goest Thou?" If the scenarists take too long, he also plays "For Further Consideration.")
PROLOGUE: Ah, here we are, back at the Dead Daedra Inn. The Contessa and the Adventurer made it, after all. They had to pay three times the normal rate, for they were very dirty and stinky. Now poor Prologue will bid you farewell, goodly people.
CONTESSA: Thank the Gods for hot water and soap! I thought I would smell like a giant forever.
ADVENTURER: Me too. Where did you go while I was bathing? And why no mages, priests, armorers, or merchants outside yelling for our blood?
CONTESSA: I took a quick trip to the Palace. I've fixed it so some cousins have told the armorers and merchants that we don't have cartloads of the Fools' Ebony.
ADVENTURER: Pity that that's actually true.
CONTESSA: But at least no one's interested in us anymore. Seems that some priests turned up dead in an old temple, up on Edward's Mountain. They were found with some girl, all dead from 'bad green powder' or something. And some old mages named Shub have gone missing ...
ADVENTURER: Now then, what did you stuff in those sacks that's so important?
CONTESSA: Here, dump them out, take a look.
ADVENTURER: By the Gods, just look at that!
CONTESSA: Yes, those dwarves were just loaded with ebony. Look. Rings, torcs, bracers, belts, helms All solid old ebony.
ADVENTURER: And this stuff feels just loaded with magicka. Why, I bet that this ring alone has a thousand uses... whatever it does.
ADVENTURER (aside): Help!
EPILOGUE: As I feared, all the loose threads of the play were ended by wholesale slaughter. More of the adventures of the Adventurer will follow, unless, of course, they don't. We thank you for your tempered patience. Don't forget to tip your worthy wenches on your way out this evening, and enjoy our bard's rendition of the Khajiiti classic, "It's A Matter of Luck." Goodnight.