Thieves Guild: Misdirection
Once you have fenced 300 gold worth of stuff, you'll get a journal entry telling you to check in with S'krivva again. If you took my advice about lifting and fencing the warhammer and armor out of Castle Leyawiin, this will not be an issue. You'll notice that the "Gray Fox" topic is lit again when you talk to S'krivva, too. This is another tidbit for that storyline. Anyway, on to the mission.
Hieronymus Lex has invaded the Waterfront District in force. Although he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of actually catching the Gray Fox, he has certainly put a damper on the Thieves Guild activities in the district. Methredhel is coordinating the response to the invasion and you'll need to talk to her to get your instructions. S'krivva, however, doesn't tell you where to find her; just that she's in the Imperial City somewhere. So it's off to the beggars you go. Unless you go hit up one of the beggars that already has a high disposition (Puny Ancus is effectively out of the picture for this one), it will cost you 15 gold to find out that she's staying at Dynari Amnis' house in the Talos Plaza District.
Methredhel's plan is simple. Since Lex has pulled guards from other sections of the city to support his operations on the Waterfront, the Guild is going to stage a few high-profile heists to put a little high-level pressure on Lex to call off his dogs. Your job is to break into the Arch-Mage's quarters at the Arcane University, snag Hrormir's Icestaff and leave a nice note from the Gray Fox taking credit for the theft.
Like the Untaxing the Poor quest, fast fingers will do you much more good than a good Sneak skill. If you are already a member of the Mages Guild, so much the better. Depending on your rank within the guild, you may not even be tresspassing most of the way and can waltz right in. Remember, Sneak is not invisibility so much as it's looking like you belong there, which you do.
So hop on over to the Arcane University. Use the teleport pad in the Arch-Mage's Lobby to go to the council chambers and then use the other teleport pad to get into the Arch-Mage's quarters. If you are not a member of the Mages Guild, your best tactic is going to be waiting until the wee hours of the morning, when the Arch-Mage is asleep. Irlav Jarol will probably be in the Council Chambers during this time, so you'll have to move quickly into the Arch-Mages quarters, but he is usually looking the other way. Even if you are seen, you should have about 30 real-time seconds of "freebie" tresspass time before anyone in the Council Chamber will come looking for you.
The staff is right in front of you, so it's easy to snag. Move over to the nightstand on the left side of the bed and activate it to place the note. Future Arch-Mages beware -- the Note From The Gray Fox remains in the nightstand and never stops being a quest item. If you remove it from the nightstand later, you won't be able to remove it from your inventory without using the console or a plug-in that fixes the problem. While you're here, look on top of one of the bookcases to find "Fragment: Song of Hrormir," which is another piece of Gray Fox info. Now beat feet out of here and report back to Methredhel.
Methrehel now wants you to go keep an eye on Hieronymus Lex to see whether the plan worked or not. There is no need to be stealthy about this, although you can if you want. You'll find him in the Waterfront District, pretty close to where he was standing for "The Elven Maiden" quest. Once you get close enough, your controls will lock and you'll see a Dremora appear a bit to the north that will deliver a note to Lex. If you're standing close enough, you'll hear that Lex is not terribly impressed with the Mages Guild sending a Dremora to do something that any footman could have done just as easily, but more importantly you'll hear that he has been ordered to call off his search and send the guards back to their normal posts. Lex drops the note after reading it and your Journal suggests retrieving it after he's gone.
If you read the note, you'll understand why this quest was so easy. Four guards were removed from their normal posts at the Arcane University, so there wouldn't have been a guard to respond to your theft, even if you had been caught. Anyway, take the note and report back to Methrehel again. Now that Lex is out of the Waterfront, she wants you to return the staff to the Mages Guild, but not by putting it back from where you got it. Now that the guards are back at the Arcane University, there would be someone to respond to your tresspass.
Instead, you're to put the staff in a "safe chest" in the home of Ontus Vanin, a retired researcher/instructor from the Mages Guild who lives in the Talos Plaza Disrict in a house on the outside wall. This is not as difficult as it may seem. Vanin is hardly ever home. He spends his time wandering the city, especially in the afternoon. So just make sure there are no guards who can see you, pick the lock on the door, pick the lock on the upstairs door and then activate the chest on the other side of the room to deposit the staff.
Now report back to Methredhel and then report to S'krivva to collect your 300 golds reward, a promotion to Cat Burglar, and access to a new fence: Luciana Galena. Galena lives in Bravil, has 1000 gold and an 80 Mercantile skill.
OK, now for the Gray Fox trivia that you collected on this mission: