48: The ordinary day
It was important to be noticed, so I paused on the seemingly endless climb up the ramps of the foreign quarter to swap gossip with an Ordinator. It was not much of a trade. I gave him a vague 'outsider's view' of the turmoil in Telvanni territory, filled with 'as I heard it' and 'from what I saw' disclaimers. In return he gave me a description of the escaped prisoner. I was appropriately shocked.
"Escaped?" I exclaimed. "I had heard her name, and was thinking she could be a distant relation. I wonder if my steward had a chance to check on that for me."
"She did," I was told. My source paused, recognizing that he was slipping beyond common gossip and divulging information about an investigation. My former services to the Ordinators no doubt stood me in good stead. "Just between us Archmage, Malven was the last person to visit the prisoner, and initially there were some questions about that raised."
"Yes. But the guard who was on duty at the time is sure that nothing was passed to the prisoner, and didn't think the conversation went particularly well for the prisoner either."
"Malven had some simple tests. Not likely that we are related, and if not it would have been a short interview."
"That would be it then. Apparently she was only there for a few minutes."
"You said there were questions. Is Malven a suspect?"
"No. Like I said, the guard on duty was very sure."
"But, he would never want to admit that she might have slipped the prisoner a lockpick or something, so I don't know if that really means anything..."
"True enough. But there was a thorough search on the next shift as well. There were questions at first, but Malven has been cleared. No lockpick, by the way, she teleported out of the cell."
"Teleported? I thought that all prison cells were enchanted to drain magicka?"
"They are. Most likely someone slipped a magicka restorative into her food."
"Ah." I paused. "I'll have our records checked. See if any of our alchemists has sold such a potion in the last few days. Maybe they would remember something unusual about the buyer. You might suggest to whoever is in charge of the investigation that they could check with me about that."
"Good idea, Archmage."
I grinned. "I'm sure they would think of that themselves, but it never hurts to have a suggestion." It's hard to guess a facial expression behind the stiff Ordinator mask, but his eyes were smiling. I continued on to my office.
Just a typical day in the office. I gave Craetia a heads up that the Ordinators may be inquiring, and she set about auditing the alchemy records. I reviewed the summaries of financial and training records from the guild halls, and sent off brief comments to the stewards. Mostly just encouragement, though profits are slipping again in Ald-ruhn. Edwinna sometimes gets too wrapped up in her research and needs to be prodded, gently.
Word went out quickly through the guild guides that I was in the headquarters, and by noon a stream of reports marked 'personal attention' was flowing onto my desk. I do not spend many full days in the office, but when I have the chance I encourage as much direct correspondence from the membership as possible. It is a very 'informal' system, which works for everyone. I might make a couple of margin notes, and usually write 'thanks' at the bottom of the messages, then they are resealed and returned. Knowing their note will not be filed somewhere seems to make people more comfortable about sharing their opinions. From the multitude of brief notes I can get a sense of the halls that I might not get passing through. As in any organization, hardly anyone is completely satisfied, but I get to hear things before anyone is seriously upset.
In the afternoon I met with Skink. Not surprisingly, the notes from those assigned to Telvanni territory conveyed a lot of concern. What I had not realized though, and passed on to Skink, is that in the lower ranks of the guild the upheaval in the Telvanni council is heightening the usual anxieties. Fore-warned is fore-armed, and he will be letting his people know that there is every reason to believe the changes will improve the guild's relationship with the Telvanni. Obviously he won't be going into great detail, but it will reduce the strain. For his part, Skink brought me up to date on progress in the council. Baladas, Aryon, and Neloth compromise a majority, and they have started easing the Telvanni into preparation for war. They have suggested that a visit to Therana will be in order soon, but it is not called for yet.
Late in the day the message I was waiting for came from Ald-ruhn:
Initial payment on your mercenary contract has been received. Prospects will be available for interview in the Ald-ruhn hall during normal business hours. Thank you for choosing the fighter's guild.
Sometimes things work out.