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Born of the Reach - Part XIV

Started by Harlwystyr
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Daggerfall Covenant
Part XIV

Dwyna stiffened once more and very slowly turned around. Why was she surrounded by silence... and why had all the searchers veered away from this area as she moved towards it?

Moving her torch around proved to be in vain, and darkness continued to be a thick mass of emptiness wherever she looked. Annoyed at its inefficiency, she flung the torch as high as she could, following with her eyes, and before the torch bounced and trailed out of view she saw that the ceiling was high. If her pursuer was still after her, now would have been the ideal time to strike, but no such attack came.

Instead, that person reached down and picked up the torch from somewhere in the distance - and rose it gently into the air - fires crackling into life once more - and stepped over to Dwyna. Its flickering radiance was quite sufficient to show the thief of Wayrest the half-smiling face of Captain Riancielle Fralena.

Dwyna bit down and raised her hand in salute - and caught the torch in her other hand, hoping that Riancielle hadn't placed explosive enchantments on it or somesuch.

The torch did not menace her, however, and with a sigh of mingled relief and resignation Dwyna looked back at those shimmering motes of magic she had seen before.

A few strides onward she looked over her should to see if Riancielle was following her. Once more, nothing awaited her but darkness, although a very dry voice murmured in her ear, so seemingly close that she couldn't help but jump: "Lead on, Dwyna of Wayrest, and let us see what unfolds."

Dwyna hardened her expression and looked to the unseen ceiling overhead, half-mumbling a curse at Nocturnal, hefted the torch in her hands... and stepped forward again.

The archway was very close now, perhaps a score of strides ahead to her right. In front of her, she held the torch as low and as far to the left as possible, and she walked in that direction, creeping along the wall towards the edge of the arch. Sure, the torch gave away her position - but perhaps there was light and strife enough in the room ahead to keep attention away from her. Perhaps...

Going down to her knees and ducking her head as low to the wet stone floor as she could, the daughter of the Reach peered around the edge of the archway.

The room held only two men - and their spells. One was the old sorcerer, her only way out of her current predicament. The other was a high elf who hung gabbling fearfully in midair, gripped in a glowing, swirling cloud of blue radiance.

So she was caught between the slowly and cautiously advancing Riancielle of Daggerfall - herding her as deftly as any shepherd crowding sheep into their pen - and the old wizard who'd so casually defeated her. No doubt Captain Fralena was walking with layers of protective spells raised in great wards around her... and the power of the old wizard was obvious.

The very air sounded like it was going to crack and split open, and a pulsing so mighty it almost hurt her ears hung between them.

"Ye didn't have to pick the hard road, ye know," Harlwystyr told the sweat-drenched, trembling high elf squirming in the air above him. "Yet, I'm a gentle tyrant and will need only a few breaths of thy precious time - an interference in thy joyful rush to rule the world, I'll grant, yet it will give thee a chance to boast and practice clever jests and phrases about thy might and skill to come... but no, Gilsorin, ye had to resist. And I thought the Altmer understood the proper roles of master and slave. Ye disappoint me." His tone sharpened. "So speak. Ye are-?"

"G-Gilsorin of House Alquaren, mage of Alinor."

"Thank ye. So, Gilsorin, ye came all the way to cold Daggerfall - not the nearest port of call from the shores of Summerset Isle - merely to enjoy a revel with some strangers in a cellar, is that it?"

"Y-yes-uh-ah - I mean no!"

"Thine thoughts are troubled; a bad trait for one who seeks to master the Arts." Harlwystyr shook his head. "The day of ye ascension to the rank of High Mage seems distant indeed. Ye came to join or at least scout this Righteous Conspiracy, did ye not? Or is the Dominion already behind it, and ye were but carrying out an assigned mission?"

Gilsorin's face rippled and contorted as he fought against the terrifyingly strong prying that stabbed into his mind and memories like a chef jabbing a roasted pig over a fire. Unwillingly, his lips moved at the bidding of a second inexorable spell to blurt out the truth. "Y-yes."

"Yes which, most eloquent Gilsorin? Speak up, that all might year ye insightful words!"

Dwyna froze at the old sorcerer's words - then spun around to look at Riancielle. The captain of the crown mages' face was as wryly astonished as her own.

"Yes," the high elf gasped hastily, "I was assigned this task... many agents of the Dominion involved... a test for each of us... Shornhelmers sponsoring this conspiracy... begun by exiled malcontent nobles of Daggerfall, of course... we of Alinor are keeping hidden, as much as possible, thus far..."

As Harlwystyr's fiercely tightening will penetrated memory and precious secret, peeling the Altmer's mind as some folk onion, layer by later, Gilsorin of House Alquaren started to sob forth phrases more and more openly.

"And your cordial mention of hiring mercenary companies? Is this a part of the plot? Under way or a future effort?"

"I-I-I- 'twas my own idea... Lord Narcarndor was very pleased... praised me..."

"I am quite happy to hear that," Harlwystyr said in dry tones. "He might even award you a noble title or two, if ye're still alive by then."

Gilsorin was already weeping in fear, bright streams of tears running down his cheeks. His teeth now began to chatter, and the old wizard sighed, waved dismissively, and said scornfully. "Sleep then - for now - and keep thy wits, such as they are. All this fainting and fumbling of words... when will these children learn that being a wizard means facing the possible consequences beforehand, and realising them, and acting mindful of their gravity? Or is thinking ere merrily throwing spells of destruction to all side left only to old fools, these days?"

He whirled around abruptly, and an unseen, irresistible force snatched out and took hold of Dwyna's throat and wrists, lifting her off the ground before she could so much as gasp.

"And ye, little thief? How much did ye think, ere plunging blindly through that portal, hmm? Or are ye so young of mind that adventure dazzles ye into lunging after it?"

Dwyna shrieked as she found herself hanging in the open air with faint blue mists of sheer power roaring around her. As she looked down, she saw the amused smile of the old mage.

Gasping for breath, she suddenly knew she was sweating terribly. Was that creeping numbness around the back of her head his magic looking at her thoughts? Was she going to end up sobbing and helpless, teeth chattering, voice not her own? Would he kill her or leave her insane, ruined by his spells?

"I-I a-am-"

"Far too upset, lass. Working slaying spells is no particular desire of mine - especially not in front of a captain of the Royal Crown Mages of Daggerfall, who would then feel a duty to do something that could only lead her to harm. I merely seek something that should please us all - a sharing of the truth."

Gray-green eyes narrowed and peered at her. "The truth is a prized thing. Acute, yes, all too rarely used, aye... and therefore all too prized. Are ye willing to deal in it?"

Dwyna stared down at him, struggling to find words with which to reply as she swallowed.

The old wizard man smiled softly, returned her look, and asked calmly, "Or do ye prefer death?"
This post was last modified: March 18th 2014, 03:16 AM by Harlwystyr
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