"So once more our kingdom crumbles; foes on every hand and every lord a traitor,
Who can save the bright throne now, the cry goes up once more.
Worry not my lords, for I have a little plan."
Said by Owain Etrick of Evermore, Act II of the play "The Bright Throne Falls"
Written by the bard Galland Vran.
First staged in 2E 112
Thalric Camry prided himself on a certain commanding presence whenever he strode, steps that were only taken meaningfully. Although he was not the oldest mercenary captain in Tamriel, he was already a veteran in his own right through battles, and commanded respect from his men.
This had only helped him in acquiring the patronage of duke Rolorn Erold of Evermore. To supplement the guards stationed at the castle, the elderly duke paid the Camlorn Blades quite handsomely to regularly patrol the lower halls as well as his family crypt. Most of the hired mages seemed to take a delight in sending a frown at him whenever he met them, though.
Not that he minded the one currently right in front of him, seeing as she was far from a trial on the eyes. Best described as "simply lovely", she had a long, glossy fall of black hair - a strong midnight colour - and large, liquid, dark eyes to match.
"I am Thalric Camry, captain of the Camlorn Blades," he said with a smile. "What's your
"Lysyna," she replied, adding a friendly smile and a brief wave of her hand that told him that his come-hither gesture was wasted, and that she was more than used to the admiration of men both young and experienced. "Are you looking for someone?"
"As a matter of fact yes. I am seeking a colleague of yours," Thalric told her. "The most senior of you hired mages whom the duke told me to report to. A Ysayne Tullon by name?"
The beauty inclined her head and motioned towards a nearby door. "I am not sure where she can be found at this moment, but if you wait in yon chamber, I can guarantee she'll be there soon. We always find her there, sooner or later."
Camry managed a bow and nod of thanks, and made his way to the door. Sure, he was a mercenary, but it never hurt to treat women - attractive women - right. As he opened the door, it revealed a chamber that proved to be a little office - and an old, bearded man closed a secret panel behind himself on the far wall of that office, turning to face Thalric.
Who closed the door behind him, keeping his eyes in a fixed stare on the stranger, who soon spread a crooked smile across his old face.
"Well met, Lord Camry," he said, going straight to the desk situated in one end of the chamber - ignoring the ceremonial suit of full steel plate standing grandly against the wall - and deftly chose a decanter. "Care for a drink?"
"I am not a noble. Who are you?" Thalric asked, dismissing the offer with a wave. "A hired mage?"
"Aye," the old man replied, "and I'd like to have something of a chat with thee. I've heard your band has been hired to guard these halls and the magical heirloom of the family, the Flamesteel Blade, and I'd like to know what ye know of such matters. What's the word amongst the brave mercenaries of High Rock, hey?"
Camry stared at the old man in bewilderment. "Ysayne?" he asked, frowning. "Is it you? Is this some sort of test? These constant games begin to tax me-"
"Ah, fighters, fighters!" Harlwystyr lamented mildly, sipping from the tallglass he had just filled. "So important. Never have time for anything of consequence; so busy with finding excuses to poke with swords and be impatient-"
Thalric sighed. "A tune I've heard more than a few times before, sir, not now
! This job must go perfectly
"Or thy head will be served up on the next feast platter? Well, if ye don't lend me an ear, it will go rather less than imperfectly; 'twill be disaster, likely throwing the realm into several deaths of the old nobility."
Thalric arched an eyebrow. "My, my, so dramatic..."
He strode across the room towards one of the two closed doors at its other end from the desk. "However, you don't seem to be the mage I'm looking for, so I'll just be-" He reached out, hesitated for a moment, and then chose the handle of the left-hand door.
"Dead in about five breaths from now," Harlwystyr finished his sentence for him briskly, "if ye step blindly through yon door. The duke's wife, Lady Erold, is changing her gown in the room beyond, and her guards are very
swift with their blades. Their poisoned
blades, may I add, despite household law."
Thalric whirled around. "What? They'd not dare
Harlwystyr shook his head. "Ye are blind indeed, young Camry. Nigh every last noble in High Rock have always been breaking one rule or another - and not only in terms of guards, trust me. Are ye sure
ye're well? Know ye nothing
Thalric stared at the old sorcerer, eyes narrowing. "You're... you're Harlwystyr of Daggerfall, aren't you?"
Harl smiled, nodded - slumped into a rather stiff parody of a courtly bow that left Thalric rolling his eyes and grinning.
Then he shook his head, still smiling, and said, "Well, I know I can't walk around the castle asking for your advice and warnings at every second step without half-a-dozen hired mages and guards pouncing on us both!"
Harlwystyr sent the younger man a grin of his own and walked to the suit of armor. Plucking off its visored helm, he slowly cleared it of a dead rat and its ruined nest inside, lowered it onto his head, and replied emptily from inside it, "That's why ye're about to get yeself a bodyguard. Help me on with the rest of this steel. Rolorn's father Arel was about my size, I see, and he's far too long dust to be wanting it all back now."
"About your height
, maybe, but from what I have seen of the paintings, he was twice your girth and even larger in the shoulders," Thalric sighed, "but I doubt we dare tour the castle looking for a better fit."
"I guess not," Harlwystyr agreed jovially. "Besides, this is the suit with the enchanted codpiece - and it just so might happen I'll need it. Ye never know."
His grotesquely broad wink left Thalric rolling his eyes again, but Harl was already sliding open the secret panel and waving Thalric through it. The captain hesitated for a moment, but then stepped into the gloomy space beyond, and Harl followed.
The instant the panel closed behind them, the right-hand door at the end of the room opened to reveal Ysayne Jyl and a man wearing a duchal crown whom half of Evermore knew at a glance: Duke Rolorn. They had been listening, and their faces were grim.
"So Harlwystyr is after the Flamesteel Blade and is together with Camry," Ysayne said gloomily.
The duke nodded. "He must not gain it. If he does, we must be swift in taking it back from him. Thalric can help us with that."
"Can, yes," Ysayne muttered, "but will he?"
Rolorn sighed. "Distasteful as it seems, it's high time to compel a few of our oh-so-loyal hireswords to demonstrate their loyalty to Evermore. Do whatever you must."