Lurren was leaning against a pole reading her notes on the various bandits when Dirge returned with a trail of men behind him.
Not only did Dirge bring the ex-bandit, he brought the entire crew from the Cistern to watch. Even Mercer Frey attended the gathering and finally got a look at the woman that drove Brynjolf to drink.
She felt the room filling up, some of the men walked by, giving her body the once over with roaming eyes before blending in with the rest of the members. Her eyes stayed glued on the notebook but her senses were on high alert. From what she saw of the males that past her this was the spot to be for the men with looks. If all the men of Skyrim looked like these, she could reconsider leaving immediately and take her time instead.
Brynjolf walked over to her and interrupted her important thoughts. “Well, lass, the person you are looking for is here.” One of his thumbs pointed sharply over his shoulder.
She looked around his body then back to face him directly. “According to my mission notes, there is only one I need to speak with. That is far more than one ex-bandit, just how many of them do you have?”
He was sliding into a chair nearby the pole she was using. “That will be for you to figure out.”
Vex was sitting at the same table with Brynjolf and echoed his words, “We aren’t here to hold your hand, figure it out on your own.”
Lurren looked at the room again, trying to determine which one could be the ex-bandit. Clearly it had to be one of the two wearing hoods since they are probably in hiding from former partners for leaving the clan. She tucked her notebook back into her knapsack and approached the closest hooded man.
“Looking for some marksman training?” The first man asked when she got near him.
“No, no, I am fully trained in marking men, got an uncanny ability of zeroing right in on them but I do appreciate your offer. While we are on the subject, did you provide training to any female bandit members?” She decided notes would be good during her interviews; never know when one needs to refer to back some conversation. The man seemed a bit slow in answering she thought while digging around in the knapsack for the notebook and quill.
Niruin looked confused and turned to Dirge for help.
“Not my problem.” Was the response from him as Niruin was handed a bottle of mead.
Lurren flipped open the book to a new page, dipped the tip into the ink pot still on the table where Brynjolf and Vex were sitting then looked Niruin. “Did you or did you not provide training? I’m waiting…”
Brynjolf stood up and removed the bottle of mead from the frozen Niruin’s hand, popped it open with his teeth then replaced the opened bottle back into Niruin’s hand.
Before Brynjolf got back to his chair, the bottle was half gone. “No.” was all he could say while deciding silently his days as an archery trainer were over.
“Though the idea sounds interesting, I have never been involved with any bandit groups. I’m actually from Valenwood, being a rich wine merchant was too boring for me. Luckily, I met Delvin years ago and he offered me a place here in Skyrim. With my skills as a top notch marksman gave the guild an edge since I’m a natural, with me in the woods as back-up and one of the oth…”
“Stop!” She had her right hand up in the air indicating for Niruin to please muffle it. “Gosh, if you aren’t the chatty one but if you aren’t who I need, I must move on.”
Niruin smiled, “Oh you need me all right, you just don’t know it yet.”
Lurren rolled her eyes and moved to the next masked man.
He was chewing on a piece of straw while leaning one arm against Vekel’s counter. “I think you are all right. In fact, I’m kind of impressed with your body and looks. You want to work with me on lockpicking skills? I can stand behind you, help steady your hand while you slowly turn the lock to reveal the hidden treasures behind it.”
Lurren tilted her head at this one, mulled him over in her mind, analyzing his words and movements.
“Maybe some other time I will be in your destiny.”
Vipir the Fleet was next up and he was ready for his turn. “You’re making waves around here, like waves of mead flowing freely. I like that. So, you want to talk to me? Master pickpocket right here and I offer training, private lessons as well. Some times I even waive the fee especially when the student needs extra special attention. Need any special private pickpocket training?”
She honestly had to think that one out. It’s those men who know just how to coo out some words that make a woman melt. This one would work, just have him repeat those magical words and she will be fine. “I’ll take this one!” Lurren pointed at Vipir and turned to Brynjolf, who only shook his head no. “No?”
“Sorry, lass, not him.” Brynjolf replied while Vex was chuckling under her breath.
She sniffled at the disappointment of not getting to bring this smooth talker along her. It was clear per Indigoblade that she was not limited to just the one ex-bandit helping so maybe later she could add this sweet one to her expedition and get those private lessons for free. There was always the possibility of switching the mystery person for this one, that’s an option she must keep open.
Following Vipir was some Imperial kid who seemed to be an expert at mind reading. “Name’s Rune. Yeah, rune… just like you’re thinking.”
She had been making references in her journal about each of them.
Archer boy – out
Lockpicker – out
Pickpocket – In
Mind reader –
Brynjolf jumped up and raced over to Rune, “Lad, best not to say that…the thinking part. Trust me on this, you do not want to think like her.”
Rune wasn’t sure what he meant but Brynjolf was the boss so he decided another approach. “Brynjolf caught me trying to pickpocket him in the market. Any one else, I would have gotten away with it.”
Lurren shook her quill at him and firmly disagreed. “No, no, in my notes there is another master pickpocket among us. Now, had you tried to pick his pocket while he was trying to pickpocket someone else’s pocket and you succeeded, who is the real master would be up for debate. Therefore, had you failed to achieve the level of success that you were trying for while attempting to remove coin from the man you referred to and had been trying to pickpocket the master pickpocket at the same time, one cou…”
“Stop!” The room cried together in unison except for one big man who just stared at her with those large over-sized arms crossed leaning against the wall.
Vex, Tonilia, Dirge and Niruin handed Rune a bottle of mead at the same time, which Brynjolf proceeded to open with his teeth and help drink.
“Wow.” Was all Rune said as he downed one bottle quickly before grabbing the second one.
That leaves two men left by her estimates unless there are more hiding or coming later. However, that red haired man did say whom she needed was among the group ushered in so if that is the case, things aren’t looking too bright.
One man who seemed more on the nervous side and edgy in his voice, walked over to Byrnjolf. “This appears to be another waste of the Guild’s resources, Brynjolf.” He then turned to Lurren zeroing in on her face and laid out the facts to her. “Before you continue, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. If you play by the rules, you walk away with whom you need. You break the rules and you lose that help. No debates, no discussions… you do what we say, when we say. Do I make myself clear?”
Lurren tapped her chin while gazing at the ceiling then looked back at Mercer. “I’m not sure that will work.”
The reply was, “”If you’re not sure maybe you don’t belong here. I’ll ask again, are we clear on all of this?”
She flipped open her notebook, scanned a page, flipped a page, scanned another page then closed it and leveled her eyes on the hostile man. “Are you hiring me to work for you?”
“Oh for the love of Mara, Brynjolf…will you explain it to her!” Mercer was in no mood for another Brynjolf’s “look what I found” recruits, especially one like her.
“Mercer, go on back to the Cistern, I’ll take care of this.” He handed Mercer two bottles of Black-Briar Reserve and motioned for Dirge to steer him back. “Will have it cleared up shortly.”
Archer boy – out
Lockpicker – out
Pickpocketer – In
Mind reader – out
Leader – out
“You better.” With those two last words, Mercer stormed off with Dirge following but he wasn’t going to stay in there with Mercer, didn’t want to miss the final showdown.
Closing the notebook after making the last entry on the leader and still no former bandit listed, it was time to leave. She remembered the last man from the marketplace, he came with Dirge to retrieve Brynjolf and judging by the size of him, she decided it was best to avoid since he didn’t fit the bandit look and appeared more like a heavy hitter.
“I must take my leave.” She told Brynjolf while gathering up her knapsack and replacing the notebook and quill into it.
The whole room except for that one man turned their attention to Brynjolf in surprise.
“It is apparent to me that no such person resides in Riften.” She smiled at Brynjolf as she adjusted the knapsack on her shoulder. “Wild skeever chase, I guess.”
“You aren’t going to speak with him?” Tonilia pointed to the large man who never moved after planting himself against the wall.
She didn’t want to look at him. She didn’t want to talk to him. She only wanted out of Riften, out of Skyrim.
Delvin Mallory stepped up to offer his advice, “Look, I know the others think I’m a bit dull for sayin’ this, but I’m gonna give it to you straight. If you are really looking for someone then you won’t walk away without speaking to everyone.”
Lurren wanted to say something back but one finger just shook in the air before she spun around and approached the brute. She hated people who made sense so welcome Delvin to her dislike list.
His eyes followed the woman approaching, no smile appeared on his face, no muscles twitched and one wondered if he even was breathing the way he stood there like a statue.
Before she even got close to him or said a word, his voice resounded like the blast at the tower when the dragon broke through back in Helgen. “Yeah, guess I have a minute, what do you want?”
Lurren stopped dead in her tracks and pondered this one over. She raised one finger and asked, “Could you excuse me for a moment?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
She walked over to Brynjolf, leaned in close while pointing back at the man, “Is that the…”
“He is, lass.” Brynjolf just beamed at her with a strange lopsided grin.
“Could you excuse me for a moment?” She pulled away from Brynjolf and went to Vekel.
“Vekel, my man, is that…” Motioning her head toward the large man for Vekel to deny or confirm.
“That’s him, all right.” He kept sweeping while figuring out in his head how much mead he needs ordered to replace his stock.
Lurren was growing concerned with these confirmations and decided to try one more person after all third time is a charm. “Could you excuse me for a moment, Vekel?” When she looked up most of the thieves nodded their heads and pointed at the man who still remained in the same spot.