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I Have a Little Plan - Part XII

Started by Harlwystyr
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Daggerfall Covenant
Part XII

Thalric had to admit to himself that he was pleased to see his realm of birth once more.

Their feet had carried them far the past two days, down from the dangerous terrain of the Wrothgarian Mountains without any encounters with the orcs and down into the borders of Camlorn.

"Here," Jalinda said suddenly, interrupting his thoughts as she ducked into a gate. "This is private enough!" She dragged Durana into the gateway with her and flung her arms around the older woman.

"Jalinda," Thalric hissed, still panting from having just jumped down from a low wall, a numbing feeling spreading up from his toes as they struck the cobblestone beneath them, "What're you doing? This is the duchal gardens! They're guarded at night, and-"

"No harm done, lad, if your lasses come no farther in," the calm growl of a veteran guardsman came out of the gloom on the far side of the gate. "Unless - ahem - you're in need of some trifling assistance in, ah, handling them-"

"That won't be necessary," Thalric snapped, tugging a little tentatively at the two embracing women. He had hold, he discovered, at Durana's elbow. In response to his pulling she made an ardent moaning sound, setting Jalinda to helpless giggling.

He instantly let his and fall, remembering Harlwystyr had shifted from Jalinda to Durana a few days before. He had no doubt he still held sway over the redguard too, however.

"Damn you, wizard," he said under his breath, catching himself just in time to avoid announcing to the guard - and all his fellow patrolmen; they never took shifts alone - that a sorcerer was involved in this.

"The castle is open for an audience with the duke at this hour, I suppose?" he asked sheepishly, already knowing the answer.

"No, sir," came that firm confirmation, out of the night. "I am going to pretend like you aren't trespassing here, however. Were I you, I'd take yourselves well away from here with all haste. If you or anyone tries to get in before morning, we've orders to resist. Forcibly."

"Ah, I... understand. My thanks, loyal guardsman."

"Fair even to you, sir," came the seemingly friendly reply.

Thalric let out a sigh and tugged at Durana's elbow again. This time she and Jalinda came willingly back into the street with him.

"You're a native, Thalric, know you of any warm bathwater?" the redguard asked sweetly.

"It just so happens I'm on good terms with a local noble, Lord Burrath Irlen. Saved his life once, as a matter of fact," Thalric replied proudly, setting a brisk pace down the street towards the brightly lit stretch where it swept around the imposing front of the duchal castle. "And while we're all sitting comfortably in splashing waters, I'll be having some words with a certain Harlwystyr."

"Oho, ye're saving words, lad?" Durana muttered in Harlwystyr's voice. "Are ye now short of words, for some reason? I hadn't noticed any lack of them!"


The Irlen Manor watchman, to Thalric's utter amazement, turned out to be Halwend Thorne, come riding hard from Camlorn via the old Reman roads and thus intercepting them by quite a bit. Knowing his captain would eventually seek the hospitality of his old friend Lord Burrath, he had painstakingly convinced the noble to allow him the honour of greeting their mutual acquaintance.

Glad to finally meet a fellow sane person, Thalric had stepped forward and shared handshakes with a man he had never been so happy to see before in his life.

"Aye, Thegryn and I are here. Duke Erold has dismissed us the moment you were gone, and the rest are packing and on their way. We just came to greet you!"

"Don't get me wrong Halwend, I am glad to see you," Thalric interrupted his friend. "I just find myself in need of a short stretch of privacy, here and now, and I don't think Burrath would mind if you took to the kitchens for an early morningfeast."

The Shornhelmer rubbed his hands a trifle cleaner on his belt linen, looked Jalinda up and down, sent her a smile, and gave Captain Thalric Camry a broad wink. "But of course, master! I know-"

"Thorne," Thalric snapped. "you will apologize to Jalinda for what you were just about to say, and amend your thinking. We're all weary from travelling, and in need of discussing our future together. So banish all thoughts of, ah, trysting from your head, and-"

Halwend studied the companions through the light of the torch he held and spotted Durana - who chose that moment to open one tired eye, notice him, and give him a playful smile and a similar wink. Leaning forward to examine her more closely, he noticed a rope hanging from her shoulder, and looked back at Thalric, then at Jalinda, then at Durana again, and back at Thalric.

And winked.

"Indeed, master!" he boomed. "I wronged you dearly, right as rain I did! Only one maid was I thinking of, and here you have two willing wenches! Not to mention bonda-"

"Thorne!" Thalric roared. "Bolt off! I don't want another word out of you! Just go!"

The Shornhelmer did as he was bit, although in a deliberately slow pace to stay within earshot for a while, and chuckled deeply.

Jalinda watched him silently as his figure disappeared into the night. "Puh, that's Halwend alright."

"I- ah, I'm sorry!" Thalric said hastily to the two women. "That was unforgivable! I-"

"Should think nothing of it," Durana told him, turning around to face him, "because you haven't time. We must discuss our battle plans."

Thalric felt in no mood for frivolities and led them towards the door with a simple wave of his hand.


The doors closed behind them. Lord Irlen had respected his friend's wishes for privacy after a quick greeting and left them in his study.

Thalric peered at Durana and narrowed his eyes. "So, talk."

Harlwystyr's voice rang out from Durana's shapely, red lips. "Lad," he began, "I trust have heard of the one who slew me, Arthaurak."

"Another centuries-old sorcerer. Once ruled large portions of land in north-eastern High Rock, met dragons, wasn't nice. Or so the old tales say."

"Those tales lie not," Harl agreed, "and tell ye almost all ye need to know about the man. Hear now the rest. there have been many Arthauraks. He is a necromancer and vampire of great skill, and has the ability to transfer his spirit over great distances into hosts he has prepared for such an undertaking. His magic is very strong, and with it he can easily conquer the minds of others and make them his slaves."

"Like you," Thalric said sharply.

"As I can, aye. Arthaurak is... far less considerae. Where I cozen-"


"I suppose that's one way to put it, aye. Where I manipulate, he coerces."

"And so?"

"The man loves not just to defeat and dominate - he lives to rule. He built mighty networks centuries ago that now reach far across Tamriel - literally scores of places, from waystop taverns to major cities and castles. To say nothing of Sentinel, Solitude, and far Riften. He isn't just here hunting me. Tired of a High Rock already seething with deceits, challenges, and coup attempts - a delight for him some decades or so ago but increasingly tiresome thereafter, he has set his sight on a brighter prize, the Ruby Throne."

"Isn't competition for that particular ambition a tad crowded already?" Thalric asked. "How can you be certain of Arthaurak's involvement, given all the plots and feuds and Crown-hatreds that has been nursed in these realms since the time of the Direnni Hegemony?"

"Therein lies the sport. Using various nobles and merchants as his minions, and remaining unnoticed until his chosen time to reveal himself. The Flamesteel Blade is one of his ploys to prevent me from, ah, foiling his plans once again."

"What do you mean?"

"Ye understand, Arthaurak and I have a long history that has been marked by my meddling in ruining his schemes and destroying his host bodies. Some years ago, he managed to work certain incantations, resulting in a great deal of my magic being locked in certain artefacts - aye, like the Flamesteel Blade - and scattered them across Tamriel. Durana and I have managed to recover all but one of these; the Eboneye Necklace here in Camlorn. And nay, just gathering the majority won't restore all powers."

Thalric froze for a moment, bewildered - then sighed and slumbed down into the high back chair. "Jalinda... what do you make of this?"

Jalinda sent him a nod. "Harl's right, as usual. Arthaurak is here in High Rock, and up to something. As much as you hate the idea of an evil necromancy slyly at work in High Rock, Durana and Harl have known this sorcerer and our realms far longer than we have."

"But... what are we to do?"

It was Harlwystyr's turn to answer him. "We're lost if we try to Arthaurak's mind-slaves among all the nobles of High Rock," he said slowly, thinking aloud. "They're all traitors, in tiny matters or large conspiracies. Every last one of them will seem as suspicious as they always do. Our attempts to meddle with them would warn Arthaurak that we know of him, and gives him endless opportunities to visit doom upon us."

He grunted from Durana's lips and made her lean back, seeing imagined disasters everywhere. "Nay, we shall rally the rest of the Camlorn Blades in time, along with mages of worth from across the kingdoms, and hunt for traces of Arthaurak, and his minions and allies among peasants and nobles alike, and everything in between."

Jalinda nodded vigorously.

Thalric sighed again.

Divines blast, Dagon spit, dragon's fire and damnable Daedra!
This post was last modified: November 17th 2013, 06:32 AM by Harlwystyr
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