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I Have a Little Plan - Part XI

Started by Harlwystyr
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Daggerfall Covenant
Part XI

It had been, Harlwystyr decided, a very long week.

This young woman whose body he was controlling was more fit and supple than he'd ever been, but right now she was footsore and weary.

Her legs complained at every step; she'd now been in the stumbling stage for a while; and if her life suddenly required her to sprint somewhere farther off than, say, yon tree stump... well, Jalinda's life would come to an end right then.

He had now found a new appreciation for the views of upland country of the Wrothgarian Mountains situated between Evermore and Camlorn. It was wild country filled with orcs, and seemed to go on forever.

Harl knew better, having walked across the terrain a time or two before and magically teleported himself over it often. But, traversed this way, step after clambering step in the thinning air of the mountains, it certainly seemed endless.

The cozy cabin they had stopped at lay two days of trudging behind them now, in the more dense forests of the eastern lowland. A walk that would take place on the morrow, being as night had fallen while they were tarrying and discussing directions, would begin their journey further west, to Camlorn.

"Clean jakes," Durana reported dryly, in a tone that underlined her desire to stop and rest for the night.

Thalric gave her a displeased look that went around to grace Harl as well. "So, I take it you have decided?"

"Look ye, young man," Harlwystyr replied, waving at the hills and trees further along the path. "Can thine eyes see clearly through this darkness, to avoid deadly steps? Or to always spot space enough to swing thy blade in a good clear strike, so as to slash any orcs that might menace us tonight? Because I've fought up here in these mountains for far more than a few centuries longer than ye have - and I know I can't, when nightfall falls this thick."

"I don't expect you too either, in your dotage," Thalric mumbled, but halted his next words in a sigh, rolled his shoulders, and nodded loosely. "You're right. We camp here."

Durana chuckled. "Well, we can go on arguing about the life Harl and I lead - and our dreaded attempts to ensnare you and Jalinda in it - just as well here, around a fire, as we can stumbling on blindly amidst these hills in the dark."

Thalric sent her a look.

All day long, as they had trudged through the rough terrain, they'd debated the ethics and morals of the life Harl and Durana had led for the better part of the last century. Thalric was obviously more interested in what they'd done than he cared to admit, but he held several reservations about him and Jalinda joining in that life, not to mention the rest of the Camlorn Blades.

"Couldn't we just have stayed in Evermore to fight those traitorous to the Crown, like Blaurdred and his ilk barehanded?" he asked. "Or informed the duke of his fellow nobles' intent?"

Durana smiled. "It wouldn't be safe, Harl's current condition taken in consideration, and there's always a chance Erold is one of those traitors, although I doubt that. You could ask Jalinda, she is the one who has dealt with him the most, I hear."

"I can't ask her," Thalric pointed out bitterly as they begun to stack up the firewood needed to get a small fire going. "Not while old Leatherjaws rides her mind."

From the far side of their makeshift camp came Harlwystyr's dry chuckle, higher pitched than it would have been, had it come from his own, older throat. "I may be ancient, lad, but thine lady can has well functioning ears. Ah, that reminds me, I should be granting her control for now so the two of ye can kiss and cuddle and try to pretend ye're alone."

Thalric glared at Harl, or at least he tried to. He found it difficult to favour his beloved with a properly withering scornful glare, even when she was wearing the lopsided grin Harl liked to decorate her face with.

The mercenary captain gave up trying, sighed again, and began tending to the firepit alongside Durana. He'd never been good at this, and usually left that duty to Halwend or Thegryn, but they were back in Evermore, gods blast. All he knew was that the wood shouldn't be piled in a heap.

Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Durana get up and stroll over to Jalinda; the two of them embracing. Thalric watched, facisnated, as whirling motes of magic suddenly flowed from Jalinda's mouth, ears, and nose, dancing like tiny stars in purposeful lines down Durana's cheek and neck, to vanish into her bodice.

Then he blinked, nigh forgetting the firepit. "Did you just-?"

"Yes, Harl's no longer in me," Jalinda murmured in her own, silky voice, reaching out for him, "if that's what you were going to ask. Is there anything to eat?"

Durana smirked sharply. "Trust me. The foresters of the various kingdoms bordering these mountains rarely make camping spots, but Harl and I are sure this is one of them. They usually hide food in spots nearby. All we have to do is hope that it's not foresters of Evermore on the lookout for us, but then - I'd rather rangle with them than I would orcs."

Wrinkling his nose, Thalric's reply came quickly in the form of a nod. "Agreed, but I have another question. Why in Oblivion are you and Harl committing crimes of theft all around High Rock, and does our journey to Camlorn have anything to do with this? And just who are you?"

Durana lifted a brow, but Thalric pressed on before she could reply.

"Oh, you've borrowed grand reputations from folk out of legend, I'll grant, but there are no nobles or kings standing here to impress now. I've heard tell you're really Malandra Throsk, and Harlwystyr's really Edwin Throsk, your cousin? Older brother? Father? The two of you are supposedly longtime lowly castle servants who were caught stealing magical items in various castles across High Rock and dismissed for it. Some say you're outlander spies for the Cyrodilic Empire. I... well, I don't know what to think. It's just the four of us out here, so let's be honest now, shall we?"

Durana Emhardt studied him for a while, her black hair resting on her shoulders, and her eyes piercing like steel. "I don't expect you believe anything at all, Sir Camry. I've noticed your opinion of us changes like the weather, but I hope you're sensible enough to arrive at clear judgements of folk, given enough time. So now that we're together, you'll watch and listen to us and draw your own conclusions accordingly."

Thalric stopped, knit his brow, and gave her another frown. "Very well," he said cautiously. "In the interest of mutual trust, let us assume that the answer you're about to give me is utter truth and that I'll believe it. So who are you, really? You and that undead pile who calls itself Harlwystyr?"

"I am Durana Emhardt. Some eighty winters ago, I was the Sorceress of Wayrest. Harlwystyr is... Harlwystyr. The Scholar of Daggerfall, the Old Meddler of repute. We are wizards, although Harl to a far lesser degree than a century ago, thanks to machinations of others. We're seeking to remedy that."

Thalric frowned. "Lady... Emhardt, will that do? I don't believe we've quite finished establishing where we stand. Harlwystyr steps into the mind of my beloved whenever he pleases, and is forcing her to..." He felt a sharp slap against his shoulder.

"Sir Camry," Jalinda said pointedly, "you have just witnessed Harl leaving my body, and will stop making assumptions about me, and from thinking I'm some sort of goat or pet snail, docile and mindless, whom you can speak about as if I was not here."

"I'm sorry, Jal, but that's just it," the young breton said earnestly, staring into her eyes. "I don't know if your mind is your own, right now, or if that old sorcerer is still inside your body, forcing you to think one way or another and even keeping you from realising it!"

"Oh don't be foolish!" Jalinda flared. "Do you think for one momen-"

"Easy now, lass," Durana interrupted, one hand reaching out to hold the redguard's shoulder. "He can't know. He hasn't shared his mind with Harlwystyr or anyone, and so can't feel what it's like or-"

"Oh no, I'm not letting-!" Thalric roared.

"No one is suggesting you'll have to," Durana told him gently. "I was merely soothing Jalinda by pointing out to her that you have no way of knowing what it's like when Harl is in your head. Let me tell you both right now that I am deeply unsettled about his access to Jalinda's mind, and I would have fought him to try to prevent it had I not thought it was necessary. His... ah, invasion makes it very hard for us to trust each other... but that's all we can do now."

Thalric was astonished to hear grief in her voice.

Durana's lips curled back up in a smile, and she added, "Sir Camry, you should be thanking us. A week ago you were bored and wandering through life, chafing at the meaninglessness of your existence and desperate to find some purpose. We've taken care of all those things. Welcome to the grandest life of all. Welcome to saving the world."
This post was last modified: November 15th 2013, 10:13 AM by Harlwystyr
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