When Luna and Wildfire arrived outside Skingrad, it was night and raining. Luna hated to be caught in the rain, and knew that her fiery mount hated it even more. "I am sorry, Wildfire. Hurry and dry out in Oblivion. I'll dry out as best I can here," she said miserably. She wasted no time in making her way to the Mages Guild, wanting a roof over her head with a passion. She did hope it lasted into the morning though, as Luna liked little more than she liked losing herself in a book while rain hammered on the windows. As much as she hated to be out in it, she loved to be warm and dry and enjoy the sound of a heavy rainfall. The Skingrad Mages Guild had a fine library, and she was hoping to stay a while to enjoy it.
Druja was still awake when Luna nearly flung herself through the door to the guild house "Luna!" she exclaimed happily. "It's good to see you. Sorry you were caught out in that... I know you hate the rain. I'm sure we've got a dry robe in your size, if you'll give me a moment."
"No need, but thank you. My pack is water tight, and I always carry a change of clothes. It's good to see you to, Druja." The old Argonian may not be friendly with strangers, but once her respect was earned, you had a friend for life. Luna was happy to see her friend, and sent a silent thanks to Azura that Druja was always up late. "Is there still a free room upstairs?" Luna asked.
Druja told her there was and Luna headed up the steps to change into something much drier than her current clothes. Once she was no longer dripping, she went back down stairs to catch up with the sometimes grumpy Argonian. Not much had changed, apparently. Adrienne still preferred to be left to her studies, and the other mages generally left her to it. Luna knew she wouldn't appreciate being interrupted tomorrow, but also knew that it was nothing personal. Adrienne was perhaps a bit more of a bookworm than was healthy, but the guild ran itself relatively smoothly anyway.
Luna headed back up the stairs to sleep until morning. When she woke, she found herself alone on the third floor, and so took her time dressing. She kept it a closely guarded secret, but the bag she carried was heavily enchanted, and she had nearly all the clothes she owned in there. She liked to be able to have variety on the go, and so brought most of her wardrobe with her in the tiny satchel. Decked out in fishnets and a spiked collar, she knew she drew attention, but Luna took pride in her appearance, and loved the way she felt in these clothes.
Walking down the stairs, Luna took a deep breath and tapped Adrienne on the shoulder. Adrienne jumped slightly, having been engrossed in a tome that looked quite ancient. "Hello Adrienne. Sorry to disturb you."
"What do you need, Luna? I'm quite busy as you can see," Adrienne stated bluntly, gesturing to the moldy book in her hand.
"Well, I've rejoined the guild, and am trying to regain my standing and rank," Luna explained. Adrienne looked blank until Luna explained, "I need your recommendation to get back into the University."
"Oh! Oh, of course." Adrienne looked flustered, which didn't suit her. "I'm a bit out of sorts, you see," she explained. "One of the mages here has some very important notes on my current project, and he seems to have just vanished. I don't have the time to search for him, but I'll tell you what. If you find Erthor... and my notes... I'll send along my recommendation" She glanced around, as if only just noticing the guild hall around her. "Ask around about him, and see what you can find. I've got to get back to my research..." Adrienne trailed off, her eyes on the ancient tome in her hand.
"Sure, not a problem, Adrienne," Luna said, smiling inwardly at Adrienne's near addiction to books. Well, obsession was perhaps more accurate, Luna mused, and she headed down the stairs in search of Druja.
Luna found the Argonian leaning against the wall near the door. Druja looked up when Luna approached her and smiled, showing many pointed teeth. "Druja, what do you about a mage named Erthor? Adrienne wants me to find him for her," Luna explained.
Druja lost her smile and her eyes narrowed slightly. "Of course she sends you after him," Druja said. "Can't be bothered to go fetch him even though she's the one who sent him off! I bet she's forgotten that. Adrienne sent the little bumbler off to Bleak Flats Cave to do his experiments. His last one caused a bit of damage. Nothing we couldn't handle, but she sent him off, and he hasn't been back in a while. The poor Bosmer's probably embarrassed. They both said some unpleasant things as he left." The old Argonian shook her head, and then looked Luna in the face. "Please remind Adrienne that she was the one who sent him off... and then go check up on him. I don't like caves a bit, and can't imagine Erthor does either," she said and then went off to her room, her mood somewhat dampened.
Luna groaned inwardly, and headed back up the steps to interrupt Adrienne again. "Adrienne," Luna began.
"Yes?" the Breton woman replied somewhat icily.
"Adrienne, Druja says Erthor is in Bleak Flats Cave, that you two had some unpleasant words about his experiments, and that you sent him off to do his experiments in the cave," Luna said slowly, hoping that Adrienne wouldn't get angry. Luna didn't want to fight over this, but she did think that sending the poor man off to work alone in a cave was a bit harsh.
Adrienne seemed to think for a moment, and then asked, distractedly,"Would you mind to go get him for me? I wouldn't normally ask, but it really has been a while sense he checked in, now that I think on it, and I really do need those notes back as well."
"Sure," Luna said, glad that there had been no argument, and she had been planning to look in after Erthor anyway. The whole situation was unpleasant, and Luna felt the need to make sure that the young mage was alright. She sighed softly, and walked down to Druja's door. She rapped twice on the door, then called out, "Druja?"
"Come in," Druja answered immediately Luna entered and found her friend propped up on her bed on a pile of cushions, above the covers, but comfy, with a book of her own in her clawed hands. Druja offered Luna a smile, but still looked slightly moody over all.
"Well," Luna said, sitting on the side of the bed, "I'm going to Bleak Flats Cave to check up on Erthor. I'd like to bring him back with me. Those two need to have a talk. I just hope they'll actually do it. This whole situation is unpleasant..." Luna sighed again. She hated to see unpleasantness and unnecessary conflict, and hoped that if she brought the young Bosmer back, he and Adrienne would work through their troubles. Either way, she would get the recommendation she needed. That was why she was here in the first place, she reminded herself.
Luna stepped out of the guildhall, pleased that it had stopped raining after all. She quickly made her way out of town, not stopping to chat with the people in the street, and soon found herself looking out at the vineyards just outside the gates. She took a shortcut through the Surilie field, and hopped over the low fence on the far side. She met nothing but a lone timber wolf on her way to the cave, a lowly fireball enough to dispatch the creature. She wished they wouldn't attack her. She would feel no need to kill the wildlife if only they weren't constantly trying to kill her first.
As she reached the cave, Luna felt an odd sense of unease settle into her, but couldn't say for sure why. "Okay, then..." she muttered under her breath, and entered slowly, not wanting to frighten the mage living within.
"Oh shit..." she breathed as she stepped inside, the scent of undeath and rotting flesh assaulting her nose. She quietly readied a fireball, knowing that fire would be stronger now than her preferred shock spells. She stayed in the mouth of the cave for a moment, thinking. She quickly cast Detect Life, seeing many faint wandering forms throughout the cave, and one strong, fully living soul at the back of the cave. "Good," she thought in relief. "He's alive. I've just got to get to him."
Luna didn't bother with invisibility, knowing that the Zombies' dead eyes wouldn't notice her if she kept to the shadows. She moved silently, for as much as she was a mage, she could be stealthy when she needed to. She kept her distance from the walking corpses, as much from not wanting to smell them any more than necessary as for stealth. From the shadows, she launched fireball after fireball, and the Zombies fell before they knew she was there. "Ugh... now it smells even worse," Luna thought to herself, as now it not only smelled of rotting flesh, but burnt flesh as well. Now only one soul was visible in the cave, and she dispelled her Detect Life spell, walking slowly into the small cavern at the back of the cave.
When she entered, she immediately saw Erthor, and sighed as she looked at him cowering at the back of the cavern. "It's okay," she said soothingly. "I'm from the guild, and I've come to get you out of here."
The young Bosmer looked up at her, relief plain on his face, and he asked her excitedly, "They're all gone? You've killed them all?"
"Yes," Luna replied. The Zombies are dead... well, deader than they already were. I'm not going to ask you how the cave became infested with them, and I won't mention it if you don't want me to. I just want to get you back to Skingrad," she said with a weary smile. Erthor looked around, seemingly at a loss for words. "Come on," Luna said kindly. "It reeks in here! Lets go. I just hope they don't smell this on us when we get to the guildhall..." He quickly gathered a few things, and then she led him quietly back to Skingrad. He seemed eager to follow, if only to get away from the cave.
When they entered the guildhall, Druja and Sulinus met them with huge smiles, and Sulinus hurried forward and pulled Erthor into a one-armed hug, glad to have his friend back in the guildhall after so long. Luna laughed in her mind at the awkward way most men displayed affection. What they had against a proper hug, Luna couldn't understand. Druja came forward and greeted them both, welcoming the Bosmer back, and locking eyes with Luna. Her nostrils twitched, and as Erthor climbed the stairs in search of Adrienne, her mouth opened in question. Luna cut her off gently with a simple, "Don't ask. He's back, he's safe, and listen: they're not shouting..."
Luna climbed the stairs slowly herself, and smiled to see Adrienne and Erthor deep in conversation, talking in hushed tones. She sat down and pulled a book from the shelf, content to wait for them to finish. When Erthor ascended the stairs to the living quarters, Luna approached Adrienne, catching her before she became engrossed in her research again. "Did he bring your notes?" Luna asked, already knowing he had.
"Yes, he did. Thank you for your help, Luna. I'll send my recommendation to Raminus as soon as I have time. You know I'm busy, but I'll be sure to get it to him soon." Adrienne smiled distractedly at Luna, and then wandered back to her book, left sitting on the nearby table. Luna grinned and headed for the door, humming softly under her breath. She waved to Druja and walked out into the afternoon sun.