After being incredibly rude to everybody, Eldaline and her staff have been poisoned. Her library assistant Skavild is trying to persuade her to wake up.

Skavild was too tired to remain angry with an unknown poisoner, or several unknown poisoners.


He carefully moved Eldaline so that her head sat more comfortably on a lower cushion. "There we go." he said quietly. "You shouldn't slide off that quite so easily, you silly elf."


"I don't know what to do with you when you're like this."


"Anyway, I reckon you're going to be pretty angry when you wake up, so I hope whichever poor idiot did this is on the other side of Hammerfell by then."


"Though," said Skavild. "You're taking longer to wake up than I'd like. It's been three days now, you know, Eldaline."


Then he attempted bribery.  "If you wake up, you can have a soft boiled egg for your breakfast."


"By the Nine, you should be awake by now. There's not an assassin on all of Nirn who can get the better of you." He said, again, against all available evidence.


Skavild sat down. He knew she wouldn't like outdoor shoes on the bed, but he also hoped she would notice and jump up and shout at him.

"I should know how hard it would be, 'cause I tried myself."


"I'm glad it didn't work, you know, Eldaline. I'm glad we got to travel together."


Eldaline slid back off the pillow. Skavild moved to put her back, but instead pressed his head against hers in a most over-familiar manner.  She did not object.


"Oh, gods, please get better, my little elf." Skavild said. "I can't think about a world where you don't get better. Anything else could happen, just not that. Please, not that."


Skavild raised himself onto his shaking knees. "Did your ear twitch?"  He examined the ear. "Or is it just my eyes being cruel?"


Then Skavild surprised himself. He pushed his nose into Eldaline's hair and kissed her on the head.


For a few moments, nothing happened.


"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean nothing by it, honest, I mistook you for someone else." said Skavild, being very earnest about it.


"Mortal!" shouted the Daedra whose true or at least preferred form was materialising before him in a red cloud. "How dare you attempt to eat my head! I will feast upon your heart! And your head! And your arms! And your-"


"Now, calm down, will you, there's no need for that, there's a nice Daedra. I wasn't trying to eat you, I was kissing you." said Skavild. "It's not the same thing."


"Kissing?" said the Daedra. "You will tell me more of this mortal practice called Kissing!"


Skavild stumbled upright, which was difficult on bedding, and after being frightened by a Daedra. "All right, what's going on, Daedra? Where's Eldaline? What's going on? Who are you? Where's Eldaline? What's going on? Where's Eldaline? What about her staff? Are they Daedra too? What's going on? Was Eldaline ever real? What's going on?"
"I am her sister-in-law, in your soft mortal language! The clan-twin of her husband! My Xivikyn have taken the place of her servants! The mistress bade me lie here in her place while she went to do something more interesting!"


"More interesting, is it? Tsun's Ribs and Shor's Eyebrows! I'm going to put that Elf over my knee! I'm so happy! Damn that blasted Elf! By the Nine, I'm so relieved! Thank you! Wait till I catch her! Where did she go?"


"I do not know! She said only somewhere forbidden! A dark and ancient place of death!" said the Daedra, apparently a Xivilai, making herself comfortable again.


"Tell me when she left, Daedra." ordered Skavild.


"She never returned here after the bath in the city, Mortal! I did! Now I have told you all I know, you will reveal to me all the secrets of Kissing!"


"Not now, you silly Daedra, I have to get after Eldaline before she gets everyone killed. Put your face back on and get back to bed."


The Xivilai appeared displeased. "I demand that you show me all that you know of Kissing, Insolent Mortal!"


"Nope." said Skavild. "I'm in a hurry. You'll have to learn some manners if you want something."


"You can't just go demanding everything and wanting the moons on a stick."


"All right, just this once, then I really have to go."



"Your apology is welcome, but unexpected." said Cyrus the Librarian, a short time later. He was none the wiser, despite the strange noises of earlier from upstairs, and Skavild intended for it to stay like this. "I understand that you have some unexplained loyalty to Second Archivist Eldaline, but I do not like to be accused of murdering guests in my home."


"Oh, yes. I can understand that. And I wanted to say how sorry I am. You know, after thinking about it for a bit, it doesn't even make any sense. Obviously you didn't poison 'em. And neither did any of your fine combat-librarian colleagues, so I'm sorry I said you all did. I was just a bit upset."


"Then, think of it no more! I am happy to hear I am no longer a suspect in your investigation!" said Cyrus. "Be assured, Skavild the library assistant, we are doing all we can to discover the assassin. I expect my friend the Alchemist of Stonemoor in the next days. We shall share our findings with you."


"Well, I can see the Elves are in good hands. Sorry they were so rude to everybody. Damned silly of 'em to start fires in the middle of the viper's nest, I thought, and they can't be surprised when it bites 'em."


"Er, not that the Redguards are vipers, you know what I mean. So, what do you do for fun out here, apart from reading? I'm sure there are plenty of sights worth seeing. If we imagine for a moment that we weren't confined to the house and under armed guard."


"No offense was taken, honoured guest. Lainlyn is a fine town, and also a wider barony blessed not only with the bounty of the sea, but the beauty of the desert and the majesty of the mountains."


"I wish you could see more of it!" said Cyrus, becoming quite enthusiastic. "But I hope you will be able to see glimpses of its magnificence upon your return journey. Remind me, by which route did you come here?"


"By the Haafstad border crossing near Solitude, through the Western Reach, and into Hammerfell south of Evermore." said Skavild.


Cyrus was momentarily perplexed by this story, but he was a man who found descriptions of other people's routes fascinating. "A strange way to make the journey. But of course! You will have been hindered by the wave of avalanches that have closed the mountain pass from Skyrim. Such a shame for you."


Skavild did not know about a wave of avalanches in a mountain pass, and had nothing to add to this conversation. But he was listening.


"How confused you must have been by the planning of this journey! What an almost overwhelmingly funny story!"
"Yes." said Skavild.
"I cannot wait to tell my library assistant! She will be incapacitated with laughter! But I should explain. Normally, the journey would be considerably shorter, and safer."


"The Dragontail mountains are patrolled, and the pass guarded. Only not this winter, for the pass is blocked by fallen snow and rocks. Here, let me show you on my detailed map."
"I understand why you were laughing, now." said Skavild. "That's a great story."


"Oh, where is my rare map of the Dragontail Mountains between Skaven and Markarth? It is always kept in here."


Skavild didn't know anything about the Dragontail Mountains, but he felt that he was probably going to become intimately acquainted with the blasted things over the next few days. It was a strong and irritating feeling.


"Skavild? You look thoughtful." said Cyrus. "Do not be disheartened. I have a copy upstairs, which you may look at."


"This big X up in the mountains, with a skull drawn over it, and all the writing that says 'here be necromancers'," said Skavild, a short time later. "Is there anywhere nice up there to visit?"
"Oh, you must mean Scourg Barrow. A notorious haven of evil and unnatural practices for centuries." said Cyrus. "You wouldn't want to go there. But there is a museum of cake in Hallin's Stand."


"Yes, that sounds much nicer." said Skavild.
"Would you like an apple?"
"No thank you, I'm fine."




continues.