October 28, 2016

The Thief in the Snow - Entry XIX: The Skooma Trade

The Thief in the Snow
Entry XIX: The Skooma Trade
Location: Riften, The Rift
Date: Morndas, 1st of Heartfire, 4E 201

My excursion back to Riften went smoothly. I encountered very little in the way of danger name but a few wary Nords who cursed me for being in their lands. I felt as unwelcomed in the Rift as I felt welcomed in Whiterun. Though I recalled that when I first arrived in Skyrim, I was looked upon with disdain, it had taken some time for the people to not only tolerate me but to embrace me as well. Still, there were many in Whiterun that disliked my presence, after all, Catfolk were members of the Aldmeri Dominion which made them instant enemies to the Nords. I was no lover of the Elves though and disliked the Aldmeri Dominion almost as much as the Northerners did. I wondered if I ever would be accepted completely in Skyrim. I thought back to Amren in Whiterun who to this day, is still seen as a foreigner even though he had lived almost all of his life here.

It was early morning and the sun shone brightly but there was a nip of coldness in the breeze. It was only Heartfire but here in Skyrim; winter came early to the southern holds and never left the northern ones. My plan was to stop in Riften to resupply and then continue north to Windhelm for a visit to Aventus Aretino’s house. I was not expecting to stay in Riften long but when I saw Wujeeta, high on Skooma and wandering the docks, I knew I had to intervene. Even though I never dealt with the substance, I still felt a sense of guilt that my people were the ones that often peddled the highly addictive narcotic. I gave the Argonian another Potion of Healing to try and stem the side effects before I attempted to learn the identity of her supplier. Her thoughts were broken and her words were muddled but I managed to discover that Sarthis Idren was her supplier.

I left Wujeeta where I found her and inquired around the docks, hoping to locate Idren. I went to the marketplace and found Snilf at his post near Marise Aravel’s stall. I queried the Nord for information on Idren and a location. At first he slyly avoided specifics until I jingled a pouch of Septims, only then did he give me the information I sought. Sarthis Idren was a Dunmer bandit who had taken up residence in an abandoned warehouse near the docks. Snilf warned me that I had to be careful though, Idren had a few guards in his pocket and if they knew I was after the Skooma dealer, he would be informed and would disappear. I asked him why the Jarl had not done anything about this but the old Nord just shrugged his shoulders. I thanked him for his time with the pouch and then left to find this warehouse.

It only took me a couple of tries to pick the lock of the Riften Warehouse. When I entered, I startled a Dunmer and Nord into attacking me. I quickly surmised that the Dunmer must be Sarthis Idren and the Nord was his bodyguard. In the cramped quarters of the warehouse, the two suppliers could not maneuver as deftly as I could. The Nord was clumsy and practically fell on my daggers while Idren was a much more skilled fighter. Nonetheless, I was able to dodge his swinging sword and sink my dagger into his neck. With my two adversaries dead, I was able to explore the warehouse thoroughly. The warehouse was grimy and filled with trash, but there were no signs that Idren was making Skooma here. Then, I examined the dusty floors and saw footprints leading to one of the walls. Upon closer examination, I could see that the wall was actually a hidden door with a small keyhole. I went back to the Dunmer’s body and found a key in his satchel. I unlocked the door and discovered a small room with a wood table, an alchemy lab, and various supplies for creating Skooma. On the table, there were four bottles of Skooma and pouches filled with Moon Sugar and Nightshade. I collected the items with the intent to hand them over to the Jarl. I knew I could not trust any of the guards with these items nor could I leave them.

I hurried to Mistveil Keep, home of Jarl Laila Law-Giver and her family. She was one of two female Jarls in Skyrim, the other being Jarl Elisif the Fair of Solitude who inherited the title after her husband High King Torygg was killed. The guards were hesitant to let me in until I told them that I had located Sarthis Idren. They were familiar with the name and knew that the Jarl wanted him eradicated. When I entered the throne room of Mistveil Keep, I was surprised to be greeted by a Bosmer steward since the eastern holds were not especially fond of outsiders. The Wood Elf introduced herself as Anuriel and demanded why I had come to visit the Jarl. I told her that I had information about the Skooma supplier in Riften. The Jarl heard this and commanded me to approach and share what I knew. I made a slight bow as I drew near. Laila sat on her throne in a relaxed manner, much like Balgruuf did in Whiterun. I actually laughed in my head at how much Laila reminded me of Whiterun’s Jarl. While her hair was more reddish than golden, her mannerism and tone of voice were very similar to Balgruuf’s. I had to remember that while I had rapport with Balgruuf, this Jarl was unknown to me.

I explained to Jarl Laila that I met a few Skooma addicts and persuaded them to give me the name of their supplier. I purposely left out Wujeeta’s name for fear that she may be punished for buying the illegal substance. I then told the Jarl that I learned of Sarthis Idren’s involvement and was able to track his whereabouts to a warehouse near the docks. I entered with the plans to confront him but was attacked instead. After defeating the Dunmer, I collected his cache of Skooma supplies and brought them here to Mistveil Keep. I opened my satchel and placed it in front of the Jarl, the bottles of Skooma clinking as I did. Anuriel quickly called for the court wizard Wylandriah to take the satchel away and dispose of it.

Jarl Laila thanked me for the service I rendered to Riften and stated that she was glad to hear good news for a change. Then, she asked me if I would finish what I had started. I tilted my head quizzically and the Jarl motioned for her steward. As Anuriel approached, she was handed a letter which in turn, she gave to me. The Jarl explained that Sarthis Idren was just a spoke in the wheel and to truly stamp out the Skooma trade in Riften, I had to find the dealer. Jarl Laila declared that if I was able to exterminate these dealers, that she would consider allowing me to purchase property and become a citizen of Riften. I gave another bow and swore to do everything in my power to stop the Skooma trade. Outside of Mistveil Keep, I opened the note and read its contents.

Just got in a shipment of Moon Sugar from Morrowind. We are refining it now, and the Skooma should be ready by the time you get to Cragslane Cavern. Bring the gold or do not show up at all.

Now I had a destination and a name in my quest to stop the Skooma trade and while I promised the Jarl I would complete this task, I still had my main goal to accomplish yet. I decided to leave Riften and set my sights on Windhelm in the hopes of tracking down Aventus Aretino and putting an end to Grelod the Kind.