Lord Rhaltan Vichnar proved to be a short, smooth dunderhead. He and the effete, oh-so-sophisticated Lord Wrelth had been as easy to conquer as Ulston Mreldvar had been.
Easier, if truth had to ring, as both were straining for any chance to win greater influence and dominance in a Daggerfall teeming with wealthier, more arrogant, and far more powerful nobles.
However, Imkrusar - controlling and using the body of Ulston Mreldvar - felt his smile escaping him when he found Lord Garon Denworth hunched over a gleaming platter of skewered roast quail in his private dining hall. Two steely-eyed hired mages were seated on either side of the duke, staves ready a hand's length from their chairs as they stared watchfully at the diners all around. One shifted his scrutiny to Imkrusar and sharpened it into a baleful challenge.
Servants hovered nervously in distant doorways, and no wonder. This particular household had been busy investigating the origins of the mysterious fires that had occured not long ago, and everyone felt their bodies and minds on constant edge; if only not to irritate the lord of the manor. Any misunderstandings could mean disaster.
"Come no closer," one of the mages told Imkrusar in tones of soft menace.
The advancing future lord of the realm took no notice of the man; his slow, deliberate stride continued without hesitation, and his urbane, slightly bored expression never left his eyes.
"Denworth," he asked in the gentle purr an indulgent lover might emit, as he bent over the quail-chewing lord, "are these lackspells yours? I was unaware your standards had been lowered."
"As my standards seem to tolerate mindless servants in here," Denworth replied without looking up, "I suppose they can keep up with my own hired mages."
His tone was dismissive, even bored, but Imkrusar noticed the man was clutching his just-emptied skrewer like a dagger. A ring on the duke's hand had begun to glow fitfully.
Ah, Denworth's rings had detected his mind dominance over Mreldvar.
Imkrusar sighed, sat down in the vacant chair across from Denworth, and spoke softly, "I'd like to speak a little treason with you, advantageous treason, mind."
A sharp singing, tinkling sound marked a mage's use of his staff - and the twisting of whatever magic it had unleashed into otherwhere, along a ribbon of blue fire. Imkrusar felt one of his rings of protection crumble to red dust in the wake of that defending, its destruction taking the mage's deadly magic with it, and he suppressed a sting of annoyance. Such rings were not exactly cheap these days, nor readily or easily replaced.
"You are delectably direct, master of minds," Denworth grunted, turning to greet Imkrusar's gaze for the first time. "Perhaps you'd be able to be as refreshing in convincing me not to end you with this skewer. Quickly."
The hired mage on Denworth's right sent a glare at Imkrusar and then moved his attention to the room, surveying it for other perils. Such as accomplices.
Imkrusar bit down on the pea he'd been carrying in one cheek, let its cargo of unpleasant dust fill his mouth, then turned and blew it directly into the face of the mage next to him, who'd been the one to use his staff and was now brandishing it again.
The mage started to cough helplessly, unable to breathe. Not a surprising result, given what the dust was, and the mage was not protected against poison.
Imkrusar went back to ignoring him. Denworth chose to follow this example, but lifted the skewer meaningfully.
"I have plans for the future rulership of Daggerfall that include you, Garon Denworth. As chancellor of the realm, you will oversee all the knightly and military activities within the kingdom," Imkrusar told him.
"A splendid dream," Denworth said in a drawn-out tone, though not before a flash of his eyes betrayed his exhilaration. "And you are, O granter of dreams-?"
"Your master," Imkrusar purred. He leaned forward until they were almost nose-to-nose, and launched the spell that wrapped around his mind, and hurled it into Denworth's.
The skewer started to thrust... then fell back. The nobleman shuddered and spun around in his seat to strike away the staff the startled mage behind him was trying to aim. "Fool! Do you want to ruin everything?"
"You're doing something to the Lord Denworth!" that mage snarled at Imkrusar, springing up from his chair to back hastily away and aiming his staff again. "You're
doing it, usurper!"
The man's voice rose, and the servants turned their heads. Imkrusar smiled crookedly, shook his head, and made Denworth turn to him and do the same, and cast a swift and simple spell.
The mage's head exploded in a welter of flying gore. Just before the shouts rang across the room, Imkrusar rose from his seat, produced a dagger from his sleeve, and stabbed it quick and firmly into the throat of the second, still-coughing mage, and walked away.
Had he been wearing his own face, being seen by so many servants would have been a grave and fatal mistake.
As it was, Denworth's mind was now his. And it was the mind of an accomplished conspirator and felon, who had already been thinking and working much treason without any help from dominating Imkrusar at all.
As he smirked at a servant and made the man recoil in fear, backing out of his way in stammering horror, Imkrusar started to hurry. Not out of any fear of guards on their way; he'd be half way across Daggerfall before any such bodyguards arrived.
No, his hurry was for another course. There were still three nobles he wanted to dominate - and with Daggerfall crowded with ambitious feuding nobility and their suddenly vast amounts of hireswords at the ready, finding and reaching his quarries was going to take time.
Lord Jalkan Haldanton and Lord Morglan Dralven. Blasphemy and godsfrown, but they even sounded
like arrogant idiots...