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I Have a Little Plan - Part XV

Started by Harlwystyr
Post #108326

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Daggerfall Covenant
Part XV

"No," Thalric said patiently, "Sheogorath hasn't claimed me and I am not - I believe - mistaken. I do mean Harlwystyr."

"Did he call himself that?"

"He did, as did others. Including Lord Burrath Irlen, a dark-haired woman who calls herself Durana Emhardt and certainly looks like the Durana Emhardt of legend, and-"

Ulth raised a hand to wave dismissively. "Shapely, tall, eloquent, strikingly beautiful, and impossibly comely dark hair? I can make you look like that, or myself, for that matter, with a simple illusion. You have been deceived, young captain. Threats to invade the mind are usually just that: threats. The spellcraft is simple enough, but the dangers lurking for the caster far outweigh any benefits. Competent practitioners of magic don't splash in such waters."

"Sir Ulth," Thalric said cautiously, "I don't care if my mind or that of my lady is imperiled by an incompetent sorcerer or a competent archmage of peerless power. I have heard his voice escape my beloved's throat, have spoken in lengthy terms with him - her, that is, but with him in her head - on topics I could never have had with... my beloved were he not present, and he tries to press me to allow himself entry to my mind. After what I've seen and heard, I know he can do this, whether he is truly Harlwystyr or not. I also don't care if he's taken the name Harlwystyr to impress me or half of Tamriel - it's what I've seen him do that I care about, not the name he uses."

Ulth tangled his fingers on the table and leaned forward with a bored expression. "And just what have you seen him do?"

"Well," Thalric began, "I... uh... the..."

Ulth gave him a distasteful frown that might have been meant as a grin. "Precisely, Sir Camry, it seems to me that you are wasting my time. Yet, you are determined to try and hire my services?"

Thalric let a sigh roll out. "I am. You hardly seem interested or eager, though."

"I'm neither." Ulth touched the silver amulet hanging from his neck, and there was a sudden singing in the space between them. "Come no closer to me, or you will be harmed."

"What? Lord wizard, I assure you-"

"No, Captain Camry, I will assure you of something, now. You are my prisoner and will remain so until it suits my purposes to let you go."


Thalric flew up from his chair, the chair toppling, and drew his sword.

"Behold the usual response of arrogant young fighters to anything they dislike. Hence the protective wards I just raised."

"But- but why are you doing this? Are you in league with Harlwystyr?"

"There is no such person, anymore. The real Harlwystyr is long dead, along with Durana Emhardt. There most certainly are scores of charlatan sorcerers using that name, trusting in the effect of the name to intimidate those they swindle and trick. I'm not interested in such buffoons. I am, however, interested in you, Sir Camry."

"Why?" Thalric snapped. "Do you consider me an attractive prisoner?"

Ulth weaved his fingers in elegant gestures as a small, wintry smile rose onto his face. It lingered there for a moment, as if uncomfortable to find itself in such an unaccustomed spot, and swiftly faded away again.

"Not as a person, no. Don't flatter yourself, Camry - though I know most of you young men rarely do anything else."

The sorcerer rose now and strolled across the room. Thalric felt an invisible wall press against his entire front, pressing him back. Ulth's shield moved with its caster.

"No," the sorcerer continued, briefly examining the symbols on the panels all around them with his eyes. "I know you to be the leader of a loose, yet relatively powerful mercenary company, and believe you to belong to one more cabal of scheming factions in High Rock, of the various groups circling like vultures around any signs of weak rulers. This 'Harlwystyr' business is just your less-than-candid way of acquiring my services for your cabal. Which in turn means you can be a valuable captive in any bargains I may need or want to make with your group. If they deem you disposable, I'll at least have a new test subject, or a slave to trade with the Telvanni of Morrowind for secrets."

"Mage," Thalric asked angrily, "are you mad?"

"All mages are mad, young man. Or seem so to thick-skulled clods like yourself, who see Tamriel as a place of coins and willing wenches, swords and threats, and can never know the glories of magic."

"I see," Thalric backed away from the shielding magic. "And just whom do you work for? Yourself, I know, but which cabal do you belong to?"

"None of them. I stand above all of these tiresome thronestrifes. Should any representatives of other factions come to my door in the days head, I may well capture them, too, and assemble a collection."

"To what end? Do you think you can bargain with every power in High Rock? All of whom have hired mages and can gather more with coin, so you'll end up facing an army of sorcerers?"

"Ah, spoken like a true fighter. Power is something to be fought for and used to fight with, is it not?"

Thalric frowned. "Power lies in being able to get what you desire without seeking conflict to obtain it."

Ulth smirked. It looked no healthier than his earlier smile had. "Well well, you do hold some intelligence after all. Unless someone is foolish enough to assault my home, I do not seek to fight for or against any man or woman."

He continued to advance until his warding spell forced Thalric to retreat again. "I've decided to take no sides in the constant political scheming in High Rock, until the time comes when all surviving groups are eager to bid huge sums and concessions for my services." He performed an elegant bow.

"I'll then look for the best deal and accept it, aiming for no less than a peerage and court rank, and ideally, a place of actual power behind the throne comparable to that enjoyed by real, influential court wizards. Yet, without any of the responsibilities or need to obey royalty that accompanies such a title."

He studied Thalric for a moment from head to toe and sneered. "I suppose I'll be on my way to being as low and brutish as you then, Sir Camry."

"I should feel insulted," Thalric replied coldly, "but I find, rather, that I feel ill, Sir Ulth. I came to find aid against Harlwystyr and was prepared to pay well for it, but it now seems Harlwystyr is a lesser evil than I'd thought him to be."

"Well, we can't stay ignorant to how the world works forever." The archmage sneered, taking another step forward.

Thalric yielded more ground than he'd care to, then suddenly turned, vaulted over the table, and ran along the panels toward the door he'd come in by.

The sorcerer uttered a quick word and was suddenly right in front of the door, hands held high to cast another spell.

"That," Ulth said severely, eyes hardening, "was not wise. I will summon my dremora guards to take you elsewhere. It would be very unwise to dispute with them."

Thalric peered around for other exits. What of the panels? He turned and dashed across the room again, using his shoulder to ram into the panel Ulth had come through.

It gave a little, so he sprang at it again, putting his full weight into the charge. The panel thundered, yielding more than a little this time.

Ulth was moving his fingers to cast something, a tired frown on his face, by the third time Thalric struck the panel.

It gave a groan and rebounded open like a sprung door - revealing another room with a window beyond!

A large, square window of the most expensive sort that it took real money to buy. Framed by frilly, feminine draperies and a matching banner!

Thalric used his arms to shield his eyes and throat, clutching the pommel of his drawn sword foremost, and flung himself at the window, hoping there were no protective wards cast upon it that would slam him back.

It didn't.

The crash was thundering.

Thalric was vaguely aware of glass shards hurtling out in all directions, a strip of garden about as wide as three men standing in file, a dark Camlorn street beyond it - and between garde and street, a high iron fence that looked quite sturdy.

It was.

He crashed against it and fell down, trapped between the large mansion and iron fence. A fence that could no doubt project lightning or fireballs if Ulth had time enough to activate those spells.

In frantic effort, Thalric snarled and leaped up, caught hold of the upper reaches, and launched himself up and over, landing with a crash and the ringing clang of his dropped and bouncing sound.

A noise that should bring a late night watch patrol in his direction, in a good neighborhood like this.

He rolled, snatched up his sword but didn't waste time trying to snatch his breath, found his feet, and started to run.

No patrol, of course - why were there never any blasted guards when you actually needed them?

"A rather frosty converse," he heard Ulth announce gently. "Late night bargainings seldom go well. However, I can't allow an energetic and talkative young man to escape this place, knowing what he now does. So, a simple spell will hold you, Thalric Camry, until my dremora collect you."

Thalric bolted to one side of the street, trying to hide himself from where the archmage could see and direct his magic. Did paralysis spells work like that? He couldn't recall; he'd only seen it once or twice, and-

Something struck his shoulder, something not quite solid.

"Oh, damn," he cursed, suddenly feeling much slower than his surroundings, his limbs growing numb. "Oh, no! No..." It was like trying to stride through a neck-deep pool of tar.

He tried to fight his way onward but slowly became aware of his condition. Even though his heart was pounding to no end and his limbs were straining, his surroundings just weren't changing any longer.

He was standing still.

Oh, damn.
This post was last modified: November 15th 2013, 10:14 AM by Harlwystyr
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