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Born of the Reach - Part XV

Started by Harlwystyr
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Daggerfall Covenant
Part XV

"That's hardly much of a choice to hand me - or anyone else - is it?" Dwyna hissed bitterly, anger rising along with her fear. "Do as I say, or I'll utterly destroy you or turn you insane. How can you trust truth under such conditions?"

The old sorcerer shrugged. "'Tis merely the same ruthless choice most folk of might in this world provide to others. Ye strike me as a bit too mature - considering the weight of thy trade - to yet hold Tamriel as a fair place. If ye truly do, ye're already insane, whether ye admit it or not. I simply word my intentions more clearly when I'm not inclined towards tongue-fencing and frivolity. I'm not inclined in such a way right now. I love Daggerfall and have seen far too many of these foolish rebellions in the making: the 'making' nearly always seems to involve the deaths of many good and even innocent folk. As to how I can trust thy honesty, my magic will tell me if ye speak falsely or not."

"And that's supposed to make me more willing and obedient?" Dwyna snarled.

"No, but ye desire to survive this night should. 'Prudence,' I believe some call it. Ye went down into the cellar in the hopes of finding my portal and thus a way home, did ye not? I'm the only way through it, am I not? In my experiences, I'm a trifle more willing to be helpful to people who tried to rob and slay me in the streets if they then try to deal with me in a more civil manner.

The reachwoman drew in a deep breath in defeat. Despairing yet still furious, she sighed, swallowed once again, and growled, "So ask your questions. I'll try to be honest."

"Prudent," the mage agreed calmly. "If, that is, ye wish to keep on truth-reading everything in ye mind, as I started to do to Gilsorin, there. He saw wisdom quickly."

Dwyna tossed her head. "Ask," she hissed quietly, hanging helplessly in the air before him.

The mists around her suddenly shimmered in a difference hue, but the flash of radiance quickly died out as abruptly as it had come.

The old wizard turned his head to send a look into the darkness. "Riancielle, please just observe and listen and pretend ye're not here for a bit, eh? King Casimir will be most annoyed with me if I destroy one of his best servants without good cause - and ye may well know that thy reckless probing at my wards is doomed to fail."

Nothing but silence came from the darkness, but after a long, stagnant time the bearded old man added softly, "Thank ye."

He then returned his attention to Dwyna and asked, "Thy full, proper name, lass, is-?"

Divines, his eyes are even grayer than mine. Dwyna looked down into those dancing, gray-green eyes now, as his magic surged around them - and said steadily, "Dwyna. My mother was Edralaine, of the Reach. My father I never knew."

Bushy brows arched. "Edralaine, eh? I knew an Edralaine of the Reach, years back - an alchemist of no small skill." He studied his floating captive thoughtfully. "'Tis not a common name. Describe her, as she appears in these times."

Dwyna showed him her fury as she spat, "A few bones, some dust, and probably a tangled mess of what's left of her hair - in a burnt village in the Western Reach. She's dead, mage."

The old man's face was unreadable. "I see. Yet in life, she had dark hair and brown eyes?"

"Yes," Dwyna said flatly, volunteering nothing more.

"How did she perish?"

"Slain in cold blood by bretons seeking to expand their dominance into the Reach, probably sent by a lord whose name I do not know - or he would be dead now."

"I see. Have ye kin?"

"None. Unless my father yet lives."

"And what do ye know of him?"

The young woman shrugged. "Breton - a powerful mage, I was told."

"By whom?"

"Those of my village, who're all dead or have fled. They said he'd stayed with them for a while."

"Mother dead, acquaintances gone - where d'ye live now?"

Dwyna shrugged. "Alleys, rooftops - any place that provides shelter. Wayrest, where we... met."



"And ye eat by coined earned through-?"

"Thieving, as you well know."

"Thieves Guild, or for a client?"


"Any friends?"


"Any fences you sell stolen goods to?"


"Names, please."

Dwyna stared directly into the old mage's eyes and said evenly, "The docks hold many men who ask no questions about where objects come from - and rarely question who brings them such objects. If the City Guard confronts them, they've always got a story. In turn, I do not pry into their names and lives. 'Tis the accepted way of such business dealings."

The wizard yielded a nod, as if agreeing upon her words with experience. "Truth rides thy tongue well."

"Reward me, then."


"My freedom and passage home."

The old sorcerer grinned. "That's a high payment ye ask for a few civil answers. I'll have more before we're moving into the territory of handing out rewards, hmm?"

Dwyna shrugged once more. "By all means, Lord Pry."

The mage chuckled heartily, and from the darkness came a faint, swiftly suppressed sound that might have been Captain Fralena's giggling.

"Got any sentences?"


"Do you pay taxes?"

Dwyna made an incredulous sound that drew a smirk from the old man, who asked, "D'ye know who I am?"

"No. I can see and hear that you're an old and powerful wizard, yes, but nothing else."

He nodded, strolled a few paces away, then whirled about, and snapped, "How do ye spend ye days?"

"Stealing, sleeping, spying on those who have things that can be stolen. Then I sell what I've gained and use the coin to buy food, which I eat. I occasionally flee from the City Guard, too, and then I steal some more."

The mists crackled once more and whirled around Dwyna with more force than before, sparks flying to and fro and melting midair, but the old mage was merely watching. He drew a sigh as the roaring stopped, and then peered into the darkness again. "I did warn ye, Riancielle," he said quietly. "Do not interfere with my spellcraft."

Dwyna did her best to follow his eyes and managed to see that Riancielle was on her knees, struggling against what looked like great chains of crawling, white fire that held her wrists down and away at her sides, looped around her neck, and kept her from moving.

"Will ye just be calm, and work no more magic?" the old man demanded.

The captain of the Royal Crown Mages of Daggerfall glared up at him over the arcane flames and said flatly, "No."

The wizard drew back a shrug and turned to look at Dwyna, snapping, "Did your mother ever speak of your father?"

"No. Look, sir mage, she's dead, and I've given you all the information you've requested, from her name to my own, but yours remains a mystery to me. So what is it?"

"Harlwystyr Ealthar, though I am commonly known as 'Harlwystyr of Daggerfall,' the 'Old Meddler,' the 'Conjurer of Crosswych,' and plenty more names that are less polite. Wiser now?"
This post was last modified: March 18th 2014, 03:17 AM by Harlwystyr
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