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I Have a Little Plan - Part XVI

Started by Harlwystyr
Post #108792

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Daggerfall Covenant
Part XVI

"There!" Jalinda shouted. "I knew he'd seek out a mage. I just knew it!"

"Fighting fire with fire never gets old, does it?" Durana replied from just behind her, closely followed by Harlwystyr in a much younger body. He had gained complete control of the body now, only with occasional rusty movements to imperil the facade.

"Aye, and he became paralysed by magic. I've seen it done often enough. He was likely frozen midstride by the same mage he sought out. It seems negotiations went poorly."

"It seems so. It must be Dunayre Ulth, standing up there. Rumor declares him to have a personal army of summoned dremora, so he's probably watching over Thalric until they can collect him."

"So, we collect him first," Jalinda hissed, lurching forward again and dragging Durana along with her, "without using Thalric as our shield against Ulth's spells, no matter how foolish he is."

Durana grinned impishly, her eyes scanning the surroundings now and then, half-expecting something terrible to smite them.

Jalinda was too determined to worry about such. She simply tucked Durana under one arm to keep the breton on her far side from the sorcerer's mansion, took a hold of Thalric's legs and began to track him away in haste.

The first spell struck them about five paces later, as Jalinda was busily turning Thalric to keep him from facing the shattered window.

It sent them all to the cobbles blow in quick-striking pain and sent lightning sizzling away across the street.

As the snarling bolts faded from life, Durana - who was chin-down on the cobbles, tingling everywhere she wasn't numb - looked over at Jalinda, then Harlwystyr.

The redguard's hair was all on end, her face was smudged, and smoke curled up lazily from her leathers. Or whatever was left of them, anyhail.

Harlwystyr's young face was no longer calm and thoughtful. It was alert and angry.

"Harl?" Durana whispered.

"Who did that?" the Old Meddler's familiar voice snapped, out of Oswyn Balwick's young lips.

"Ulth. The most powerful archmage in the city, probably in all Camlorn. He's standing in yonder window."

"Is he, now? Well-"

A second spell flashed into view, slamming into them with so much force that it plucked them off their feet and hurled them like leaves in a gale down the street, tumbling and cursing all the way.

"Enough of this," Harlwystyr spat, when they were all lying on the ground again. "With my Art being trapped in those damnable artefacts, you must support me, Durana!"

"He's sending his dremora guard after us-"

"Then start supporting me now."

Durana turned her head. "Jalinda, help me. We need to get around that corner, then find a doorway or an alcove for me to use, while you gallantly hold off all the dremora until I've channeled enough magic into Harl."

Jalinda gave her a wordless, tired "best of luck" smile, then started crawling. "I must warn you," she said as she wormed slowly past Durana, looking more like a cat than a human in her advance, "that it's been a while since I've fought against daedra!"

"All we need you to do is hold them off long enough," Durana replied, crawling to where she could reach Thalric and roll his stiff body over. With a gesture of her hand, she mentured Jalinda over.

"Huh," Jalinda sighed, reaching out to help roll the frozen mercenary captain. "The older I get, the longer 'long enough' seems to get."

"I've noticed that, too," Durana agreed, scrambling forward to catch and cradle Thalric's head before it crashed against the cobbles. "Progression in character, I guess some would call it."


"If you could hurry with whatever you're doing, Durana, now would be a good time to do so," Jalinda called from the mouth of the alcove.

"Dremora?" Durana asked, not moving from where she lay pressed against Harlwystyr, forehead to forehead. She was so close...

"Yes. A dozen or more. They're charging down the street!"

Durana closed her eyes. "How far off?"

Harl was almost ready. Almost.

"About eight strides. No, five now. Too damn close-!"

Jalinda grunted that last word as the foremost of the daedra descended onto the cobbles in front of him and swung its greatsword, a fire burning in its eyes.

Steel rang on steel as Jalinda parried, momentarily shaken by the impact. She dared not duck aside with Durana and Harl behind her needing to be protected. The dremora swung again as a second one came down to the cobbles.

Jalinda shook her head. The moment it flanked the first one, she was a dead woman. "Durana?" she growled. "Any magic to help me at all? I need it now!"

"Aye," came a familiar older, more gruff man's voice from behind her. "I believe I do."

Jalinda sighed in relief and sprang aside. As the dremora promptly stepped forward into the spot where she'd just stood, to swing its sword again, Harlwystyr muttered something - and the night exploded in raging sapphire flames.

Or was it lightning of some sort? With a weird ringing sound that was part jubilant song and part keening saw, it spiraled down the street in a quickly widening, blazing cone, plucking the daedra off their feet as it went. Every last one of them.

Weapons and bodies could be seen whirling around and around the moving, expanding glow, swept down it as it sputtered, darkened, sputtered again - and abruptly disappeared.

Leaving the street dark and empty, save for one blackened, bouncing helm that clanged on the cobbles and rolled unevenly over to Jalinda's feet, smoke rising from the padded inside.

Harl reached down with one of Oswyn Balwick's nimble-fingered, long hands, took a hold of the helm, and whispered something swift and simple over it that made its dark-red form shrink smoothly into an endless whirling sphere. Then he tossed it to Durana. "Keep this for later, when we need it."

He stalked along the street toward the corner. Jalinda followed silently, her steps short. Young body or not, he walked like an angry old wizard - and from what Durana had told, when Harlwystyr was angry, things tended to get spectacular.

Ulth was no longer at his shattered window, and the panel inside was closed across the room where Thalric had burst through.

Harlwystyr regarded the multitude of shards around the edge of the missing window for a long, silent breath, then lifted his arms and unhurriedly wove a spell.

The wall of the mansion facing them vanished with a roar, laying bare the innards of a dozen rooms or so and causing an overhang of suddenly unsupported roof-slates to groan, tilt forward - and fall, one by one, to break with loud clashes against the iron fence below.

Jalinda gasped, taking a step back in awe.

As the door at the back of one of the destroyed rooms flew open and an astonished Dunayre Ulth stared at the sudden ruin of one end of his home.

He glared at the young breton, who still stood with arms raised in the last gesture of his casting. Throwing wide his own arms dramatically, he began to snarl out an old incantation.

The air was suddenly full of lightning, rolling orbs of it that expanded with frightening speed as they rushed through the air at Harl. Jalinda rolled away for cover, flinging out an arm to warn Durana, knowing even as she did so that she would be too late to do anything, too late to-

Above them, the highest of the crackling orbs came to an abrupt, clashing halt in midair, as if it had crashed into a thick wall. Its angry white-blue sparks went emerald, then red, then dark - and fell away to nothing, plunging toward the street like spilled sand but vanishing utterly before they landed.

Curiously, Jalinda peered around the corner again.

This time it was Ulth who was gaping. His spell was gone as if it had never existed - and he'd watch it shatter before him, seen the angry young man down the street foil one of his greatest battle spells in an instant.

He couldn't do that. No one could.

"Who- who are you?" he spat, clicking a gemstone on his amulet in frantic haste to call up his strongest warding enchantment. Without waiting for a reply, he ran across the riven, open-to-the-city room, heading for where his mightiest magical staff awaited, behind a secret panel.

"The name," came the calm, almost insolent reply, "is Harlwystyr."

Harl's long fingers moved again - and even as Ulth flung open the panel and closed his grasp triumphantly around the gleaming black grip of his most powerful staff, feeling its power thrumming through him, Harlwystyr's next spell struck.

The sound was like a thunderclap, despite the clear night sky. This spell was no tidy removal of structures, but a series of explosions that blew apart several deeper rooms of Ulth's mansion, hurling their stones and plaster and everything high and far towards the stars in the general direction of the sea to the west. Plucking the groaning, angrily bending, and ultimately imploding staff from the wizard's hands in the midst of their punishing tumult, the explosions whirled it away across the sky along with the rest of the wreck... and left. As the last rolling echoes of the spell rolled between nearby buildings, and confused and alarmed folks started to peer out of their windows, a stunned and terrified Dunayre Ulth clung to the edge of the opened panel amid the smoking ruins.

His splendid black robes were shredded, and the remaining sparks of his warding spell winked out in mute memorial; their essence snuffed out. It had kept him alive but paid the price.

With a sound that began as a brief 'click' but ended as a sigh, the last remaining part of his abode toppled over into collapse.

Leaving Ulth clinging to nothing at all.

He fell to the shattered floor in a huddled heap, only his terrified stare telling Jalinda that he was still alive.

Above the fallen sorcerer, his four most powerful dremora remained, swords raised meaningfully.

At the sight of them, Harlwystyr sighed. Then he raised one hand and moved his fingers in a swift, complicated pattern.

For several pounding heartbeats, nothing seemed to happen. Then, the daedra began to shimmer from their feet up. One by one, they were banished back to Oblivion, leaving a quivering Ulth behind.

The sorcerer could only look, mewing in disbelieving fear every now and then, at surrounding ruins. By the time he'd swallowed twice or thrice, he realised he was utterly defenceless in the remnants of his home.

"You can cry now," Harlwystyr told the huddled archmage gently. "As mages seem to be all too fond of saying, these days: We can't stay ignorant to how the world works forever."
This post was last modified: November 15th 2013, 10:15 AM by Harlwystyr
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