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Born of the Reach - Part VIII

Started by Harlwystyr
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Daggerfall Covenant

Harlwystyr restrained himself from rolling his eyes. How many centuries had these cries sounded at his ears, now? ‘Twas as if Daggerfall was a stage with a set script all treacherous nobles and conspiring rebels came to consult ere causing unrest once more.

“And what brings you to this table?” the one-eyed warrior asked. Harlwystyr stiffened for a moment before slowly turning, his eyes displaying a sense of bred haughtiness – only to discover that the question had been directed at the merchant and not the scarred noble striding past.

“Coin,” the red-nosed merchant replied flatly, punctuating his enthusiasm with a loud belch. “The men of this conspiracy want some of mine right now to equip their mercenaries with good steel, and to hire more men in Rivenspire, and so on, and in return they promise to hand out privileged contracts on future trade in the region; enough to compensate my… investment ten times over, once a king of their choosing is on the throne. Of course, they haven’t told me who that is to be,” – he hiccupped once – “but I really don’t care.” He performed a careless gesture and moved the oversized goblet to his lips, only to take a careful sip, and added, “It’ll matter little, anyway. It’s just that we’ll be on the good graces of the throne-warmer, looking at all the lovely deals rolling in.”

The warrior sent Harlwystyr a glance and snarled, “What’re you listening to, lord high and mighty?”

“Tongues too fond of being loose,” Harlwystyr grunted, “if the crown mages have cast spying spells or there’re knights of the realm lurking amongst us. I’m a little on edge because this-“ He rolled out a hand to motion at the revelry all around. “-might be a way for the crown to corner all conspirators in one place and deal with them, instead of eliminating us one by one.”

The veteran nodded grimly. “I’ve had such dark thoughts, too. You belong to the nobility, right?”

“Noble by birth, exiled by deed,” Harlwystyr replied with a smirk. “Call me: Exiled Wrydwood.”

The veteran flashed a smile and grinned. “Aha! Some of your family members are already here.” His index finger pointed directly into the largest crowd. “Somewhere over there.”

The fat merchant staggered before straightening up to face Harlwystyr. “W-well met, lord exile. My name is Peloch Wedelain. Gods am I, I am… am I … glad to make you’re a-acquaintance. Should you ever be in need of – ahem – ready coin, or a load of such, I’m your man. Most coin at the best rates in all Daggerfall, and fine wares from far Elsweyr too! Why, allow me to-“

Harlwystyr looked at the warrior and winked wryly. “Drunk as a nord in a mead hall,” the one-eyed man mumbled, “but still manages his act. Divines bless greedy merchants.”

Master Wedelain blinked twice at him. “I cry: ‘greedy’? Excuse me, but I couldn’t help but hear you say ‘greedy,’ sir. Realise that you are far from the truth. To stay in the business – to supply the fair kingdom with wealth – you have to be shrewd! Why-“

Harlwystyr and the veteran warrior took a step in opposite directions, leaving the merchant to mutter in his own, lone presence. The moneylender, however, had already deemed the one-eyed man good company, and went on to pester him with a flood of anecdotes, allowing Harlwystyr to escape.

Or rather, escape into the arms of two excitedly squealing ladies wearing low-cut, scarlet dresses with revealing cuts.

“Divines above,” a male voice growled from Harlwystyr’s right, “if I had to wear one of those dresses, I’d squeal too.”

“Well, I can ship one your way,” another voice said slyly. “The price is steep, mind you, but…”

Harlwystyr left the embrace at the first opportunity, and missed out on the last part on that particular converse. A tightly knit group of men was heatedly discussing the wisdom and follies of going with this and that “what has to be done next”-stratagems of the conspiracy. The voice rang out clearly enough, until Harlwystyr came a stepped into their midst.

“Ho, sir! This conversation is private!” one of them snapped.

Harlwystyr shrugged. “Really? Because it sounds a lot like what I’ve heard in plenty of bedchambers belonging to the nobility from here to Wayrest when their owners thought they were alone. Which leads me to believe: when we plot our moves, we put our trust in our own magical trinkets to keep spying crown mages at a distance. Have we taken such repercussions this night?” He looked around and gesture at a wine glass one of the men was holding. “Or checked whether what is being served has been poisoned or tampered with in any way?”

The gathering of men narrowed their eyes, and sharp looks came now all around him. “Did you not hear the Lord of Shadows’ assurances?” the man in the silkiest garments asked suspiciously. “Where were you then?”

“Yes, yes,” Harlwystyr snapped back in equally reprimanding tones, “but did any of you actually see these spells being woven at any point? Words are easy enough to let fly; ‘tis deeds I trust in.”

“Well spoken, newcomer,” put in a short, friendly man with a melodious voice. “However, know that I have already cast a warding spell to shield myself from being spied upon by meddling wizards, and I have seen others who have woven similar incantations in this room. This spot was chosen because any guardsman foolish enough to venture near these filthy docks at this hour would have to fight their way through three posts of stationed mercenaries, all well equipped. Ah, allow me to introduce myself – the name is Malenar of Shornhelm. And you are-?”

“Exiled,” Harlwystyr answered firmly, his gaze locked with the man’s penetrating eyes. Familiar eyes. The current appearance of the man was one he had not seen before, but the person behind it was one he had met a few winters back. “Exiled Wrydwood.”

Grunts and laughs came from around them, and someone said, “You’re welcome in this circle, as long as you’re not like young Daringlen, who spent much on his breath lecturing us on how only the high nobility understand Daggerfall and so only high nobility is fit to take the throne or command any effort to remove the royal family from it!”

Harlwystyr grunted his disapproval. “Who is this pup?”

“The blossoming lad with his nose buried in Edrianna’s bosom,” another man mumbled then added hastily, “Ah, no offense meant, lord.”

Harlwystyr sent the man a smile and grinned. “None taken. Using only your wits and sword to survive in the most dangerous corners of Tamriel strips away any arrogance of high birth rather quickly… or that’s what I’ve experienced, anyway.” His eyes trailed back to the short man – a minor agent of the Aldmeri Dominion, Gilsorin, he was sure, in quite a good illusionary disguise – and asked, “So why now? This ‘Righteous Conspiracy,’ I mean? Plenty of people who have hated the royal family have lined up down the years, only to be exiled and worse, and there’s always been supporters from outside the kingdom who are happy to throw coins to all malcontents here, in hopes of gaining something in return, but: Shornhelm? I’ve met others here, who come from stranger places, too. Why now?”

“Well, Exiled,” the disguised agent said, “folk who can see the obvious outcome are backing us. This revel is a genius move on our part, making the ridiculously rich excited in being part of something secretive and destiny-driven important, and bringing them together to shield those who really give the orders. We all get to form contacts here, and forge little friendships that might come in handy, so everyone feel like they benefit in some way… and this has worked so far. It is a very dangerous game, yes, but all treason is dangerous, but there are plenty who do not look kindly upon the royal family here in Daggerfall, and we outlanders have other reasons to be here.”

Heads were bobbing up and down in feverish agreement around the circle. “The king’s a damn fool for signing up with Emeric of Wayrest, selling our kingdom to future that would cast us aside when victory is won. If this wasn’t enough, there are plenty of threats existing in High Rock that must be taken care of, and this is a concern; weakness. If there’s ever been a good time to take up the fight, it’s certainly now.”

A round of disgruntled sounds of agreement rang out, and Malenar went on. “Take a moment to look around. Just one more revel in decadent Daggerfall, yes, but behold who is present: old seacaptains, coinlasses, and royal-hating merchants, but also exiled nobles like yourself; nobles who are still very much welcome in the kingdom, but who still bear a hatred for what the king has done; ambitious warriors seeking positions at court, and outlanders like me who see gain in a stronger, fairer Daggerfall. Behold the diversity.”

The disguised high elf raised his goblet and smiled widely. It held no content, Harlwystyr noticed.
This post was last modified: March 18th 2014, 03:15 AM by Harlwystyr
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