"Rumor has it that a famous aprax called the Mother of Rats lives in the city, but I've never met her. Even if I did, we're forbidden from speaking with her. That sounds awful, doesn't it? It's just the way things are here, I'm afraid."
"Well, well ... you made it. You'll forgive me if I don't stand to greet you. I have a thing about social niceties. My spies told me you were coming, but neglected to say why. You're the recent arrival to the isle, yes? I'm intrigued. What brings you?"
I'm looking for a High Elf named Arathel. Do you know anything about that?"Ah, Arathel. The reluctant idealist. Yes, I know him a bit. He's a friend of ours. I heard he was in a spot of trouble, so I sent a few of my children to collect him. Unfortunately, he bumbled his way into a prison cell. That was ... ill-advised."
He wasn't in a cell for long. Did you take him?"We had nothing to do with it. That boy has run afoul of some very dangerous people, and they're not about to let him go. Arathel's a valuable commodity down here. He's young, impressionable, and most importantly, he has access to the Sapiarch."
Arathel insisted that he was involved in a plot to kill the Sapiarch when he turned himself in."Well, he wasn't lying. A rival of mine, Mirulon, swept Arathel away from us. Lured him in with promises of adventure—convinced him that killing a Sapiarch would start a revolution. Of course, they boy got cold feet. Now they have him."
So do you know where they took him?"No. But I know someone who does. I have sent one of my children to keep an eye on Mirulon's operation—a Khajiit named Zan'hi. He'll know where the boy's kept. Explore the tunnels west of here. You'll find Zan'hi. Or more likely, he'll find you."
Who are you, exactly?"I'm the Mother of Rats. You know that already. Are you looking for an autobiography or something? Speak plainly."
I just want to know a little more about the person I'm working with."That's fair. I guess. I'm what the clods in the kinhouses call apraxic—an Elf criminal. There are other High Elf misfits called ousters, but the fortunes of an apraxic are a little more severe."
What did you do?"I forged a document"
That's all?"Well, the ensuing dispute sent forty-three mer to the funeral pyre. It was a patent of lineage, you see. Kinlords take that sort of thing very seriously. Insufferable. Anyway, they shattered my calian—my praxic talisman—and sent me packing."
Why did you do it?"For the most foolish reason of all—love. Hilarious, right? Anyway. Everyone here knows my past, but they accept me as I am. They even look to me for leadership. As if they need it. Hierarchy's bad joke, cerum. Remember that."
How well do you know Arathel?"Well enough. He's young—which is to say he's bull-headed and self-righteous. Good for a laugh if nothing else. He came looking for a relief from strictness, you know? All these rules and expectations .... They can drive an Elf mad."
Do you think he'd be capable of killing a Sapiarch?"Fifty years of exile have taught me many, many things, but the most important lesson is this—anyone is capable of anything. A snot-based kynd would murder his most beloved dog with a shovel if you gave him a good enough reason."
Do you think Mirulon gave him a good enough reason?"Clearly, he didn't. And I thank the fates for that. Arathel wouldn't make it a week as an aprax. Too much of a people person. It's lucky for us too. If someone killed a Sapiarch, we'd be blamed. Guaranteed. Just another fringe benefit of exile."
What can you tell me about Mirulon and his group?"Mirulon's recent arrival. He's not an aprax or an ouster, but he tries to act the part. I've twisted more arms than I can count trying to find out where he's from, but so far I have very little to show for it. That's why Zan'hi's where he is."
Do you know why he'd want a Sapiarch dead?"Because killing the Sapiarchs will provoke that elusive revolution we're all supposed to be pining for. The Sapiarchs, the Divine Prosectuion, the Ascendants ... they're the masters of the deranged system of the oppression. Who wouldn't want a bit of a pay back?"
Dou you believe in all that?"Of course not! Revolutions are just fairy tails for idiot children. Killing a Sapiarch will do nothing but bring the Divine Prosecution down on our heads. The more I learn about Mirulon, the more I think that might be exactly what he wants."
After the boy is saved and evidence of his innocence is presented to Talerion, she will thank the Vestige for his actions:
"So you found our lost sheep. Well done. As you can see, I've sent for Arathel's mother. She won't speak to me of course., but she seems appreciative enough. Perhaps this will be a teachable moment for the both of them. One can hope, I assume."
What will happen to Arathel?"Difficult to say. The fact that he's been fraternizing with apraxics won't reflect well on him. But you at least proved he's not a murderer. That's something, right? You've done far more than rescue a stray High Elf, cerum. Take this, and my thanks."
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