5th of Sun’s Dusk, 4E 171
The Imperial Legionnaire nodded. “You have a few days in the city while we get a few things in order. Feel free to bunk at the barracks. Present your Conscription Paperwork to the sergeant there. Do you have any questions?”
“Well, do you have a preferred lodging?” asked the Nord. “I enjoy my lodgings at the Temple of the Nine. But if you prefer to keep an eye on us it’s understandable.” The Imperial shrugged and shook his head.
“I also have a home here,” said Kang.
“I … think that was seized by the crown when you were arrested,” said Astius. Martine half-stifled a snort.
“Oh no! That’s unfortunate, Kang. Can we help you retrieve it?” said Adrielle.
“Hmph … legal theft,” said the Orsimer. “The law is where the weak make everyone think that being controlled is for their own good. I’ll deal with that later.” Martine nodded in agreement then saw Astius doing the same and frowned.
“Okay, let me know and I’ll be glad to help,” said the Dibellan.
“The barracks it is then,” said Kang.
“As for me, I’ve got what I need,” said Martine. “Except a bed and a door I can close. And, Divines willing, lock.”
“Will we actually be outfitted now that I am a Legion man, or will I need to spend the next few days dealing with that?” asked Kang.
Astius nodded again. “You will be outfitted, yes. The quartermaster will get you set up.”
“I’m good then. Come get me when we need to start getting bloody.”
“Be at the SpecGold office an hour after daybreak on Middas. We’ll have your orders by then.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “Of course, if you change your minds and decide to go AWOL. Well. May the Divines have mercy upon you, because the Legion will not.” He smiled pleasantly.
“Oh, Dibella forgive me if something like that were to happen!” said Adrielle. “But no, I’ll be glad to help out, see you then!” Martine nodded, fastidiously avoiding eye contact with Astius.
“Don’t worry. I’ll honor the agreement. Until I don’t.” He smiled, just as pleasantly.
Astius chuckled. “Until then.” He saluted and turned to leave.
Adrielle saluted back. “Thank you!” she called after him.
Martine started to salute but dropped it once she realized that Astius wasn’t looking. “I may never get used to that,” she muttered to herself.
Adrielle’s turned to her two companions. “So, have any of you been in the Imperial City before? I’ve been here a couple of times in my pilgrimages for Dibella. We’re free, let’s go and see what there is to see!”
“This is my first time here,” Martine lied. “Please, let the way.”
Kang made a sour face. “What are the damn odds that it would be the two of you that I’d get stuck with? If I believed in higher powers I’d think this happened for a reason.”
“The Nine never act randomly,” said Adrielle. “The Daedra maybe. But I see it as a gift from Dibella that we all found each other again.” She started walking toward the market district, and the others trailed behind her.
“A gift! Right. Exactly,” said Martine.
“Well might as well make the best of it,” said Kang, bringing up the rear.
They passed a number of shops with a variety of offerings, and Adrielle took on a lecturing tone. “Down there is the Three Brothers Trade Goods and Jensine’s ‘good as new’ merchandise,” she said, gesturing to the left. Then, she drew her companions’ attention the other direction. “And here is Divine Elegance, Mystic Emporium, Slash N Smash…”
“This would be the best city to have some money in,” Martine groused.
“That’s what I was thinking,” said Kang. “Not too big on window shopping.”
“Someday,” she said, lingering a bit at Divine Elegance’s window.
“Oh, well do we want to try visiting the Elven Gardens District?” asked Adrielle, putting her hand beside her mouth. “Lots of rich people there. Or the Arena, Talos Plaza District? The city is a circle, so if we just keep going we’ll cover it all.”
“How about we head over to the Arena district,” suggested Kang. “I know a tavern keeper there that will set us up. He was a big fan. It’s been too long since I got my hands on good beer and better meat.”
“Okay! Drink is always a good go to,” said Adrielle. As Martine followed, she truly smiled for the first time in days.
It was early in the afternoon, so there was a good lunch crowd when they walked in. A brotherly cheer went up when the other patrons saw Kang walk in. The former Arena Champion bellowed out his signature roar, and the crowd cheered. “Weren’t you tossed in the clink for murder or summat?” someone asked jovially.
“Nah, it were for knockin’ boots with the Emperor’s Mother!” said another.
”Your Mother!” retorted a third. A fight broke out. To Kang, it felt just like old times.
A table was cleared for the trio, before the Orsimer saw a familiar face sitting at the bar. “I’ll be back,” he told the ladies. See an old friend I need to catch up with.” He headed over.
“I-” Martine watched Kang depart then turned to Adrielle. “Do you know why he was imprisoned?”
Adrielle shrugged. “Actually no. But maybe we were put in his way to help him out with his reasons or consequences.”
A waiter arrived, forestalling the conversation and said, “What can I get you ladies to drink?”
“Oh, what a boisterous place!” said Adrielle. “Have you any mead?” A moment later, three varietals were brought for her inspection. She ordered a tankard of Honningbrew, and Martine chose a fine Alto Wine.
The Breton wrinkled her nose. “More of that pickle juice, Adrielle?”
“Pickle juice? You mean that sweet taste of honey and nectar down your throat with just enough of the good stuff to loosen up. I’ll never understand how you can enjoy Alto Wine over fine Nord mead. But I would never judge you for it. Most sacraments at the temple use wines so it’s good for that.”
Adrielle took a large couple of gulps from the tankard, which was almost small in her gargantuan hand. “Ahhhhhh. Taste of home,” said the Nord.
Martine’s eyes widened at the sight. She moved a little closer to Adrielle. “Truth is, mead is so sweet it’s easy for me to drink too much, too quickly. No telling what I might do in such a state.”
“Heh. Well, as long as you do not regret what you do in that state, it is no problem.” Adrielle took another large pull at the tankard then put a hand over her Dibellan holy symbol. “Bless this night and these friends.” Then she drained the last of her tankard.
Over at the bar, Owydon gave Kang a solemn look. “Glad to see you out, son. Thought I’d seen the last of you when I heard about your arrest.”
“I’m not really out,” said Kang. “Just traded imprisonment for enslavement really. You are looking at a bona fide soldier now. Can you believe they were stupid enough to do that?” he laughed loudly.
The Redguard snorted. “Soldier, eh? Strange times.” He seemed to have something on his mind, like he wanted to say more.
“How have you been?” Kang asked. “Still spending your time working around the arena, I see.”
Owydon shrugged. “Well enough. Someone’s gotta run the place. Buncha young bloods coming up, full of piss and vinegar and not much sense.”
“Sounds familiar. Why don’t you come join us at the table and tell us about it? I’ll introduce you to my ‘unit’. Whatever that means.”
The older man hesitated. “I don’t know. Gotta get back to work soon…”
“Oh come on. It’s not every day your favorite monster gets out of prison. Just have one drink with us.”
“One drink,” Owydon agreed.
“Great! You’re buying.”
After getting their ale from the barkeep, the two men walked back over to the table where the ladies were drinking. “Adrielle, Martine, meet Owydon. He’s the man who taught me how to ‘pretend’ to be civilized when I first came to town.”
“I will drink to that,” said Martine. “Well met, Owydon! That must have been quite a challenge.”
“I’ve had more difficult tasks, but that was in the top five easily,” he replied. She laughed a bit too brightly at that and looked down into her cup. The old Redguard, with his warrior’s build, reminded her of Tralen.
“Hello Owydon! Glad to make your acquaintance!” Adrielle stood and reached out to shake his hand.
He looked up (and up) at Adrielle then took the Nord’s hand, shaking it firmly. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“I actually met these two at different times before I arrived in the Empire. Adrielle is one of the few people I can say who have ever knocked me on my ass. Martine and I met under less appealing circumstances. Still trying to figure her out.” Martine attempted an enigmatic smile.
“Knocking on your ass was only out of necessity,” said Adrielle. “It wasn’t an easy feat.”
“I see,” said Owydon. “Kang mentioned you’re part of a Legion unit?”
“Oh, we are,” said Adrielle.
“They mentioned the name of the group we are with, but I wasn’t really paying much attention,” said Kang.
“Oh! It’s the Friends of the Empire Guild,” the Nord said brightly.
“I wonder if they’d entertain a change,” said Martine. “What’s Cyrodiil for ‘We Who Are About to Die’?”
“Arena Chum,” Owydon deadpanned.
“Ha! Arena Chum. Always got caught between my teeth,” said Kang.
Owydon nodded at the ex-gladiator then addressed the women. “Were you volunteers? You don’t look like typical Legionnaires.”
“I’ve chosen to think of it as community service,” said Martine.
“Yes, community service is about right,” said Adrielle. “But they could have just asked, I’d have been glad to help either way!”
“So, you were conscripted, too,” said the Redguard. Adrielle noticed him glancing surreptitiously at Kang, His expression looked a little guilty.
Martine snapped her fingers. “That’s the word! Right. Conscripted.”
The Nord grinned. “So how do you know each other Mister Owydon?”
“Well, when he came to the Imperial City, all he had was rage and raw talent. I helped him become a gladiator. Then he helped himself become Champion.”
“Shame he ended up in prison, I mean if he was Champion.”
“That makes it a real rags-to-rags story,” said Martine.
“Aye.” Owydon looked down at his drink.
“I was getting bored anyhow. Not much left after you kill the reigning champ. And besides, the riches were nice but even the prison was a step up from where I lived most of my life. Didn’t bother me. I knew I wouldn’t be there long.” Owydon looked up at the Orsimer, expression thoughtful.
“By the Nine such a shame,” said Adrielle. “Surely you both invested so much time and effort. We’ll have to get all of ourselves back up on top.” Martine spit-took into her cup and excused herself to get a refill from the bar. Adrielle snerked at the outburst.
“SpecGold!” Kang cried out suddenly. “That’s what it was. What a dumb name.”
“Yes!” Adrielle exclaimed. “Not Friends of the Empire Guild. However, we are friends of the Empire. Just not a guild as such.” When she returned, Martine set another tankard of mead in front of the Nord. “Dibella bless you, Martine.” She smiled and took a large gulp.
Kang looked over at Owydon again. “What’s the Arena action these days? Anything interesting?”
“Well, there’s a new ‘Champion’, for whatever that’s worth.”
“Anyone I know?”
“I doubt it. New guy outta the highlands. Fergus.” The distaste on his face was evident.
“Fergus the Champion!” said Adrielle. “Well, not quite the ring as Kang.”
“Sounds like a pussy,” said Kang.
Adrielle blushed. “Language.”
“A pussy isn’t weak,” Martine said into her cup. “She’ll push a whole baby out.”
“How does Fergus having female genitals make him weak anyway…?” wondered Adrielle. She drank down her mead and thunked the tankard onto the table. “Another please?”
“Already? What are you doing with it?” asked Martine.
Adrielle giggled. “Drinking it!”
Kang laughed loudly. “You two are definitely not the kind of women I’ve usually brought into this place.”
Owydon shook his head, bemused. “Will you be sticking around the city?”
“For the next couple days,” said Kang. “After that I don’t know.”
“Until they shuttle us off on our first task,” said Adrielle. “Which will probably be tomorrow.”
Owydon nodded and emptied his glass. Then he stood. “Ladies, a pleasure. Kang.” He leaned down near the Orc and said something in a tone not meant to carry. Martine cocked her head to the side and managed to overhear.
“Pretty sure Fergus is on the take. I know you’re no innocent, but you didn’t kill the man they say you did. I think you might have been framed because you wouldn’t take a fall. You didn’t hear it from me, but you might ask around about a merchant named Tristane.”
Kang’s eyes flared up for a moment. “Thanks for the info. If any of it were true, heads will roll. Literally.”
Owydon nodded. “Take care of yourself, son.” He clapped Kang on the shoulder and walked away.