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Born of the Reach - Part IX

Started by Harlwystyr
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Daggerfall Covenant
Part IX

"So what are we doing here, risking our heads so close to the executioners block? Nobles who've run afoul with the monarch seek their lands, wealth, and influence back and sense an opportunity to reclaim it. The reachmen burn and loot the far east to carve out dominance there for themselves. I've even seen a few folk from Shornhelm who desire the same, and some merchants from Wayrest ache to seize lands in eastern Daggerfall or seize lucrative trade routes to make quick coin from. The very same reason draws many of the merchants of Daggerfall to this meeting."

Malenar leaned in and lowered his voice so that only those standing nearest might hear his next words. "But what of me? Rebellions and conspiracies throughout history has seen plenty of hired swords and mages to work violence for promised rewards, but no such things have I been promised by any man here, and so I fear less treachery from anonymous men this evening who seek my help in seizing the throne but who'd also claim what I've been promised. Why am I here?"

His lips slipped into an impish smile. "Well, I see Daggerfall as a mighty citadel of lore and magic - crown mage magic - that I, who reside in this kingdom as no threat to anyone right now, can use to greatly expand my knowledge of the Arcane Arts without years of toadying to arrogant wizards in return for second rate spell-scraps hesitantly tossed my way. In this very room are not a few like me. Our numbers, plus crown mages rushing to maintain magic for themselves once the monarch is dead, and the fear and hatred peasants and commoners of the kingdom hold for those same oh-so-benevolent crown mages - a lot of farmers will draw hidden steel or pitchforks through every sorcerer they see! - will keep us from forming a truly established threat. Those with wits will get what magic they can and get out."

Harlwystyr frowned. "If I happened to be one of the leaders of this Righteous Conspiracy, I wouldn't want to see any mages here unless I trusted that my powers - or that of my allies - were mighty enough to smash these down... or we could all die so that the current king might be replaced with a cruel wizard, no?"

The spell-shrouded high elf gave a nod. "Which is why I have reasons to believe that a mighty sorcerer is behind this great assembly, one who intends to control the next king as his puppet. He can then control the kingdom without any of the dangers of reigning - at all, just as I like to think the current Court Wizard does. All it takes for a person in this position is spells enough to keep a king in mind-thrall! Why, this hidden sorcerer could even be hiring the Fighters Guild here High Rock to venture out to find him scrolls, riches and other magical trinkets in other lands, too!"

Summerset would be your 'mighty sorcerer,' young Gilsorin thought, and Daggerfall would then swiftly, unbeknownst, become a farflung northern vassal-state of the Aldmeri Dominion - and, just as you note, a stepping stone to reach out for other cities and kingdoms. Keep any hint of his thoughts from his face, Harl nodded, ran two fingers down his chin thoughtfully as he narrowed his eyes, and said, "Divines, this is why the thought of joining any conspiracies so far has been beyond my wisdom. All this intrigue, scheming and quiet thinking about what others are thinking hurts my head!"

Plenty of nods and chuckles arose from the crowd around him. Harlwystyr was aware of the close and thoughtful scrutiny the false Malenar sent his way. Swiftly, he called to mind the faces of the two Wrydwoods he knew - one of them Nilasine, sitting with a fond smile in her bed after their tryst...

The disguised high elf's spell-probe was like a flung spear; as swift and fierce as it was sudden, but rather than let it shatter against his mind-ward, Harlwystyr allowed it to slide in and catch glimpse of a welter of memories for Gilsorin to see, particulary those of Nilasine's mirth.

The mage froze and kept very still. Ah, yes, the image of supposedly rampart incest among decadent nobles. Some men might indeed have shooked in disgust and pried no more, but some high elves viewed the purity of bloodlines differently than man. Young Gilsorin was evidently one such elf.

It takes great willpower to steer and maintain the activity of such a mind-probe, and the false Malenar departed as swiftly from Harlwystyr's thoughts as swiftly as he'd invaded, his face now barely hiding a pale expression as his hand shook in excitement.

"All's well, wizard of Shornhelm?"

"I-yes. Merely felt a streak of exhaustion," Malenar replied curtly.

"More wine?"

"No, that's the last thing I'd want right now. I need to sit and listen for a time, letting others say what they want!"

With much confusion amongst the drunken attendees, the mass of people moved toward a pillar that was encircled by a stone seat, and indeed many saw their chance to break away from the conversation and join the dancing that had now broken out in earnest, imperiling the waiters who tried their best to step between the guests with their trays of savory tarts.

Harlwystyr ducked his head under such a tray that was well on its way to the floor, only to see it rescued in his wake by a delighted merchants with nearly as many quivering chins as wrinkles - and turned from that impressive sight to find himself nose to nose with a stunningly attractive woman in a splendid gown adorned with embroideries of gold. Or rather - Harl dragged his sight with some difficulty away from a hungry grin, swirling blonde hair, and knowing, blue eyes - the embroideries curling up repeatedly into a fair symbol. A sword crossed upon a shield, the arms of a noble house of Daggerfall... Drelgorn, that was it. A very old family with few relatives left to bolster their ranks.

Regal Lady Drelgorn - for this must be their heiress apparent of her house, there was no doubt - yielded to him an even wider smirk, displaying the edges of a fine row of pearly teeth, and asked suggestively, "You have the bearing of a nobleman who's tasted the world, lord. How do you find the hospitality we spill here, this night?"

Well, that invitation was not to be mistaken. Harlwystyr returned the smirk with a valiant smile, a bow firmly linked to an older court style of the realm to signal that he was of a long-established house, too (though of course the Wrydwoods would have berated for such a claim by the 'real' oldblood families of the kingdom), and the words, "Lady most fair, I've beheld so very little of what's been offered here - yet confess myself truly impressed thus far by any measure. Perhaps we can share words of this at a later?"

Crookedly, her smile broadened. "Perhaps."

Her steps were light as feathers as she stepped toward him a trifle, ignoring the two hard-eyed bodyguards shouldering her, and added quietly, "Discretion is a trait to be admired. Lady Gillian Drelgorn sends her greetings to-?"

Harlwystyr smiled at her again. "Lord Exiled Wrydwood, at your service."

One brow came up. "Exile is a matter for scorn lest there be a good reason for it - but you must introduce me to your reason before I pass my judgment on it. Later, as you say."

In a whirl, she had turned away - with her revealing-at-places gown giving Harlwystyr a quick look of a ruby-studded sword tattooed high on her thigh - and left Lord Exiled Wrydwood facing a growling bodyguard... and feeling very warm indeed. Damnable illusionary disguises, they keep the heat so.
This post was last modified: March 18th 2014, 03:16 AM by Harlwystyr
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