Well, on one hand, this magic cloak is basically the textbook definition of “backfire disastrously”. Long-lasting invisibility might increase your chances of getting into the Mages Guild unspotted, but if anything at all goes wrong during the break-in, like you take too long or Sigrid wakes up and dispels your invisibility somehow, the cloak is only going to make things a thousand times worse and probably shatter any hope you’d have of salvaging the situation or even escaping alive. And on top of that, this is a general store; you could just as easily use your earnings to get some quieter, darker-colored clothes and maybe even that short invisibility scroll in case of an emergency. It would certainly be more reliable than some finicky magic cloak made by an eccentric enchanter.
On the other hand, though, a fully-fledged invisibility cloak would…
No. On the other hand, you don’t actually have to go through with the break-in at all.
With Rajirra out of the picture, you just earned 170 septims. That’s enough to buy a new copy of the book you ruined, stay at the inn until Asotil comes back, and return to Quill-Weave having accomplished absolutely everything she sent you to Kvatch for. While the shopkeeper might want to pay you in store credit, she’s stood by her bargain thus far and would probably give you your payment in raw gold if you asked.
You could just… walk.
Sure, it wouldn’t be glamorous. There’d be no big, triumphant return where you reveal to Quill-Weave that you’ve gone above and beyond her simple courier job and are able to pay her back for all the damage you did to her home. You’d be costing the shopkeeper a lot of money, holding her to your original agreement even after destroying her entire storage room. And Sigrid… well, you’d leave her be, and just become another one of the many people she was able to rob and abuse without consequence. But in exchange for these things, you could succeed. For the first time in your life, you could make it through a simple, stupid job without fucking it up by trying to make everything a little better.
I’d like to know more about the cloak, please. Like, what type of invisibility spell does it use? I remember there being a few types, some breaking easier than others.
The shopkeeper nods and says it’s a good question. From what the enchanter told her, it’s the sturdier type of invisibility. What’s it called, the one that makes a tight suit of light that bends around your body? She can’t remember the spell’s name, but she distinctly recalls that it’s not the traditional Invisibility spell, which just creates an easily shattered illusion that the place you’re standing in is empty.
Well, okay then, what about the blindness, you ask? You said it lasts up to an hour, depending how long you stay invisible – could a healer or potion cure it ahead of time? Will the blindness take effect immediately if the cloak falls off or something? And, if I’m an Atronach, could I possibly resist the blindness?
The shopkeeper admits she hasn’t tested the cloak too extensively – she might be living in Cyrodiil, but this deep-end magic stuff still gives her the heebie-jeebies. To answer your questions, though: first time she tested the cloak, she had a healer on-hand for emergencies. Traditional healing spells didn’t do anything for the blindness, but Oleta did manage to chip away at its duration a little with Dispelling magic. Taking the cloak off seemed to trigger the blindness the same as deactivating the spell any other way. And as for Atronachs being able to absorb the blindness, she’s not sure. She’s only ever known a few people born in the Atronach’s month, and the last of them died of old age years ago. Basically, back when inns started giving out free condoms on Heart’s Day, your kind instantly went from half the new births to none of the new births.
That makes sense, you guess. You confess you’ve only ever met one other Atronach, and he was long-dead too. The shopkeeper asks what you mean by “was long-dead”. You say it’s complicated. It’s a thing.
So, if someone were to, say, wear the cloak for thirty minutes, take it off, then put it right back on again, would the invisibility reactivate for the rest of that hour, while they were blind? Could they spend the next thirty minutes blind and invisible while the cloak recharges the first thirty minutes, after which they repeat the process, near-permanently invisible but spending every other half-hour blind? Alternatively, if you wore the cloak for forty minutes, then put it back on to become blind-and-invisible, would the twenty-minute blindness merge with the forty-minute blindness such that they’re invisible and sighted for forty minutes, invisible and blind for twenty minutes, and visible and blind for only twenty minutes more?
The shopkeeper explains, again, that she hasn’t tested the cloak too extensively, let alone that… pathologically. From what she’s determined, though: when the cloak blinds its user, it turns completely inert for just as long. Even if the invisibility spell was deactivated early, any attempts to reactivate it won’t work until enough time has passed for the blindness to have worn off. So, crazy plans to circumvent the enchanter’s weird caveat probably won’t bear fruit. Is that everything?
Er, no, you say. You apologize for all the questions; you just think you’re about to do something really stupid and, since there’s pretty much no talking yourself out of it, you’re trying to come up with an approach to it that’s as un-stupid as possible. So the vibe you’re getting about this Cloak of Gray Tomorrow is that it’s not too dangerous if it’s used in short bursts so you can get to a safe place and let it recharge, as opposed to trying to get everything done in one go and having it blink out on you as soon as an hour is up. What about offensive uses? Could you, like, telekinetically throw the cloak over someone, and then pull it off a few seconds later to blind them?
Okay, the shopkeeper warns, you’re getting a little too far into magethought now. If you want to blind someone in a fight, you throw a regular sheet over them. That way, they’re instantly blinded and you don’t have to worry about an angry, invisible aggressor.
Oh. Right, you say. You forgot that was a thing too.
Any other questions, she asks? Or are you ready to make your call on the payment?
Can I try it on?
She points out that “can I try on the invisibility cloak” is one of those lines they very specifically warn students about in Shopkeeper College.
Do you trust me?
Well, worst case scenario here is that you silently accept your payment for the imp job, leave, and she can go to bed. Anyway, she supposes it makes sense that you’d want to get a handle on the cloak’s nuances; make sure it’s something you can deal with and all that.
You half-chuckle. Please, you say, you’re no stranger to weird magic, you just want to make sure it still works. For an invisibility cloak that’s actually within your budget, you’re pretty sure you can handle whatever weirdness this Cloak of Gray Tomorrow throws at you.
Oh what the fuck!
This isn’t even gray. What is this color scheme even called? It’s like… festive holiday disaster.
Well, it’s called the Cloak of Gray Tomorrow, the shopkeeper says. The implication isn’t necessarily that the cloak is gray, but that tomorrow is gray. As far as she figures, the name makes sense.
Sure, it makes technical sense, you say, but there are still rules of good taste when it comes to naming things. If you’re gonna put “gray” in the something’s name, you can’t just carry that theme halfway and then dump it by the side of the road.
She shrugs and says you don’t have to call it that if you don’t want to. It’s not like it’s written on the cloak anywhere.
Maybe… maybe it’s called gray because of that particular silver lining?
What, the shopkeeper asks. It was a joke, you say. Like, the fact you can change its name is a silver lining, and silver is like… you know what, nevermind, everything about this joke was a mistake.
But seriously though, I was kinda hoping it’d be dark gray or something, so I’d be a little less obvious if I have to hide in a corner, blinded, waiting for the invisibility spell to recharge. The waiting periods with this are going to be kind of tense, though. Do you have, like, maybe a book I could read?
A book to read while blind, the shopkeeper deadpans.
Maybe something in nightwriting, you ask? You can read the basic type and some of the Level Two stuff. It’s kinda something you pick up when you have extremely fickle and self-destructive magic powers built into your eyeballs.
She… honestly, nobody’s ever asked before. She vaguely recalls a traveler once pawned one here, and can’t remember anyone ever buying it . She’ll check to see if it’s still on the shelf.
So, how do you, like… turn it on?
The hood, she calls over to you. Flip it from down to up.
Woah. That’s, ah, weirder feeling than I was expecting. The blindness makes everything turn black, though, not gray. That name was just really fucking awful.
Better than “Festive Holiday Disaster”, she says. So you’re good with the cloak as payment for the imp job?
It, ah, is kind of growing on you. Yeah, you… think this might actually work. You’re still looking for some new, quieter clothes and were serious about maybe getting a book to read, if that’s a thing she could throw in or-
“Throwing in” isn’t her style, she says. Go for the “or”.
Or barter for. Right.
Well, she’s got a nice, low-key outfit in what looks to be your size. Anything else you’re looking for – assuming it’s not a mirror – she could probably scrounge up. For the right price.
You do have some things to sell, you say. At the very least, you want to get some basic, ah, danger escaping supplies. Like a center punch.
… Did you just change in front of me, the shopkeeper asks.
Yes, you admit. But it was like… really fast, so it wasn’t weird, right?
No, she says, it was still weird.