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When Magic Fails - Part I


Started by Harlwystyr
Post #114173
Writer

310
Faction & Race:
Daggerfall Covenant
Breton
Part I

"Lords and ladies, hear me now, as I unfold this splendid tale of love and murder, betrayal and heroes.
It befalls in a kingdom splendid and near, that has not known for many a year:
The event when magic fails."


Said by Tolrick the Troubadour, Act I of the play "Misrule in High Rock"
Written by the bard Uthwryn Kreath.
First staged in 2E 562

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2E 554

With behaviour fitting a mage, Harlwystyr was running his fingers over the page of a dusty tome.

It was a few days after the Old Life Festival in Wayrest, when the people of the Iliac Bay celebrated the dawning of a new year, and priests were in an uncharacteristically generous mood; performing certain services free of charge . That is to say, most priests. Harlwystyr was spending it in his home within the city, seated in a creaking chair by a warm hearth, his long calabash pipe alight. He let out another hopeless sigh and turned a page. A useless grimoire of a lich that had perished in a duel with a Dunmer adventuring wizard.

He had, of course, been utterly insane, Harlwystyr decided early on, and paranoid to boot. The little knowledge the necromancer had dotted down was warped by the occasional ravings of fleeting clarity and by clueless messages of paths through a torturous maze of symbols, signs, dull-witted jargon, deliberate necromantic propaganda, and the spiritual gibberish of the Order of the Black Worm. It was more than obvious that the author had desired for his would-be readers to be left like drooling idiots. Well, he was too late - in Harlwystyr's case, at least. Supposedly the reason Harl spent the festival alone.

Well, almost alone.

"Any good?" the voice of his friend and lover, Durana, rang out. She came from the stairs with two plates of spice marinated boar with roasted garlic, spotting an amused look on her face. She'd seen Harl's disapproving frowns a couple of times by now.

"Not entirely. It'd do just fine to keep a family of five warm," He replied, judging the book's weight in his hand before darting a meaningful look towards the hearth. He sniffed, looked at the book, and then shook his head.

"Eighty-six pages," he mumbled, "And only two worthwhile spells so far, one of them horribly confusing at that. Yet, 'tis my hope that the dolt who wrote this might have hidden a little gem or two amidst all this gobbledygook. Ye may have discovered by now that I hold some foolish. everlasting hope in life."

Harlwystyr made a rude sound, struck a hand of acted annoyance through the air towards Durana, and flipped another page. For a moment it also seemed like his pipe had made a rude sound.

Durana giggled in reply and placed the plates on the table. Harl watched her with a fond look. If he didn't know her better, he'd say that when she wasn't serving food or crafting spells, she was picking up on rumours, gathering herbs, or reading books. A real wizard, that one.

There was an old saying amongst the thieves of Wayrest proclaiming that anticipations and truths are often as far apart as one's mind can place them. With the precision and elegance of any dancer, Durana bolted around to face Harlwystyr. Following a sharp, metallic sound she'd heard a sudden, most curious draw of sobs - a noise she with clear memory had never heard Harl make before.

And then the sorceress stood completely still, plates with food dropping forgotten from her hands. The old breton's gaunt limbs were bathed in tiny, ringing motes that shone in a pale-white aura. He flared up for a moment, his eyes widened in terror; eyes that stared at Durana - or straight through her.

The tome drummed against the ground a few times as it fell from Harl's hands. She didn't have to weave a spell to realise that something was terribly wrong.

Durana fell back, clawing out at a satchel abandoned by the hearth. Harl always had a few vials and flasks for emergencies. He had told her they held antidotes and remedies for poisons and such. But even as her nimble fingers clutched the fragile necks of the many flasks, Durana knew she hadn't the faintest idea of what to do. The warmth of the hearth had almost died down, and it felt like there was a great weight hung above them.

The two mages did share what they heard, however: a silky voice that was calm and yet taunting, enthused with mockery. Even though she did not know the nature of the speaker, it was clear that someone was far-speaking Harlwystyr with magic loudly enough for her to hear. It was a voice that snapped in gloating triumph.

"And this is where your meddling ends, Harlwystyr," it announced with a deliberate pause. "Oh yes, you're done guiding people this way and that, arrogant as you move men and women like useless pawns on a chessboard. This is where all your plans and schemes come to an end."

The flaring of magic intensified, and the old breton gasped for air.

"Yes, this is the moment I have been waiting for, Harlwystyr of Daggerfall. However, I am above all a reasonable man. I will not deal death to you, no - instead I shall take away that which you treasure the most. All of your spells and wards blasted away from your body. Most were slowly being drained away, you unwitting fool, as you read the book. Besting you, arrogant Ealthar. Your demise will be dealt by lesser men - but know that it was I, Arthaurak, who brought you low!"

Behind Harlwystyr, his chair shriveled into pieces - pulled apart by invisible hands and claws - and fell into a large heap for him to land on as he lurched back.

Durana cowered in fear as motes started to grow; burning at Harl's robes for a moment. She got up to run towards him, but he gestured for her to stay back, his hair blowing backwards as if he was battling a strong wind on a mountaintop.

Suddenly, the motes swirled into a roaring chaos, bashing against his body in unforgiving waves. Searing agony rushed through his mind, and dagger-like spikes tore into his old body. He attempted to cry but could not.

In Harlwystyr's raging mind, the energy that had been hurled at him swept up before rushing down into his hands. They jerked and flailed mindlessly, and he was struck to the ground.

It had been more than many long decades since sheer strength and concentration of magic had blasted the breton to his knees. Memories of such barely scratched at his mind; although the present feeling of being overmatched by raw power reminded him of at least one occasion. He had known it would happen eventually, though.

Why do the worst of scenarios always arrive when one is poorly prepared? He heard a hysterical scream through the daze and strove to focus on its origins, wafting a hand before him to dissolve mist before his mind. As slow as a content horker in Skyrim, he crawled closer to the frantic shrieking, spotted Durana's disbelieving eyes come into view - and then realised the noise was coming from his own lips.

Harlwystyr looked down with a miserable sigh, struggled to his feet, and fell straight into Durana's comforting arms as strength failed his body.

Within the deepest paths of his mind, Harlwystyr summoned his concentration in an effort to expel the pain within. Cold realisation and chill clutched around his heart, and his throat grew thick and hoarse, choking his unspoken words.

There was nothing. The magic that had accompanied him through his entirely life had smouldered away. Every fragment of the Arts had taken flight from him. It was gone.

He looked up at Durana, cheeks burning with tears. "It's gone."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

He had been sitting outside for a while now, nonchalantly in the dirty grass, looking out over a lake.

"Lady most dear, I am happy in thy company," he said, letting Durana know of his appreciation.

"I know, Harl," she mumbled uncertainly. "I know."

He smiled to himself, curling his lips back into a tired smile before they fell. "I love ye."

"And I you, Harl. We're alone now, and you seem very... weak. What do you make of all this?"

A regretful grin followed. "I do not know. I..."

"I am sorry, it wasn't right to ask that right away. Should we go down to the lake? Perhaps the fresh air would-"

"Nay, lass." Harl's mind was set in stone, at least concerning around. "I need to think this over. It's a very dangerous position I've gotten myself in. I am sure my former apprentice would make haste in informing every person on Tamriel of my current condition."

"Harl, you're probably in the worst condition, and greatest danger, that you've ever faced. What are you going to do? Have you made any plans?"

Harlwystyr let a sigh flow into that of a weak grin. "No. I've done some thinking, but reached no decision. I was hoping-"

"That there was someone who'd plan your path for you and set you on your way?" came the dry reply. "No such luxury - or curse - is laid upon any of us, Old Meddler. You should be the first to recognise this." The rebuke quickly lost its charm in Harl's tired eyes. When Durana Emhardt spoke again, her tone was much gentler. "Will you come with me? I know safe place in Camlorn, a refuge of mine, that can be used."

"Nay, Durana." Harlwystyr's voice was set in the stern tones of certainty, at least. "This is a danger I have to face alone, without endangering thee. I'm sure every mage intent on seeing me dead, from certain Telvanni wizards to local magelings would deal death as readily to ye as they would me in their eagerness to reach me."

"Yes, but if you stay here, all foes who come to know of your misfortune will know exactly where to find you," Durana reminded him sharply. "Don't think already in a grave, Harl! I-"

"Durana, listen to me. Overly ambitious fools and foes are going to be attracted to me like nords to mead. The last thing I need is for you to face hourly visits from the likes of Falthoril of Telvannis; that redguard, Na'zafar of Stros M'kai; or Arthaurak, backed by all his minions. Just one of them might taste enough of Sai's good fortune."

"Well, what must we do, then?" Durana's tone trembled in her throat, and she seemed close to tears.

"If ye really want to help me," Harlwystyr said in a slow, careful manner, "watch over Duncan - and Lord Burrath Irlen in Camlorn - as I have done, and keep an eye out for news and help adventurers with noble intent. I need ye to do the tasks that I'm currently unable to do - if ye deem it necessarily and in line with ye principles, for I would not judge thee, or proclaim that I've been right in how I've done my tasks."

There was a grim silence, and then a soft reply. "I will, Harl."

And then she was gone.

He wasn't able to spot the soundless tears his lady unwillingly let fall in her home. Miles away, in Camlorn, Durana wept in open sorrow. She resented herself for leaving him now when he felt the most alone, but she could not conceal her pity any longer. Whatever happened, she wouldn't rob him of that last pride. She knew it was nearly all he had left.
This post was last modified: March 29th 2014 07:03 AM by Harlwystyr
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Post #114320
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243
Faction & Race:
Daggerfall Covenant (Breton)
Great story Harlwystyr!


The Archmage of the council of Arcanea.

We are openly recruiting, any Roleplayers in the Covenant who are looking for a Guild, this is the Guild for you http://www.tesof.com/topic-the-council-o...ying-guild
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Post #114321
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Great post! Keep it up!
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