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When Magic Fails - Part II

Started by Harlwystyr
Post #115536

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Daggerfall Covenant
Part I
Part II

In the iron cold and early mists of the dawn, Harlwystyr rolled his shoulders a couple of times under the heavy cloak around him. He had left his home quietly, not desiring to meet Durana should she desire to teleport there, and thus know of his departure through the dew which cloaked the forest further outside the city.

Restless eyes peered on ahead. He felt thin and wailing like a banshee this morn, not really present at all. It hardly came as a surprise to him, given his lack of sleep.

Masser and Secunda had gone down long before the late-night guards began to seek respite from their replacements. Wayrest was a city in heavy demand of rest, worn out from the day's labours. The entire capital seemed wrapped in a warm, calm fur - the occasional snoring whenever one came near the tavern providing slumberous harmony to the streets.

He had spent the last few hours sipping a spicy wine from Hammerfall, sighed in a steadfast chorus, and thought much.

Solutions and directions seemed more subtle than ever, but Harlwystyr had opened the door with determination. There he caught hold of the scepter tugged into his belt, directing it out in the dark and whispered softly. Fickle wisps of light crackled and lit up his path. Enchanted objects still understood him, at least.

He stopped at a nondescript but specific rock, kneeling down to push it aside. It felt heavy as if rooted to the frosty ground. In a hole underneath rested a small, beaten bag hidden for a couple of years, just as he had left it. Mild satisfaction rushed to mind as he picked up two plain copper rings and put one on, and went down the path again.

He was about to pull forth his pipe when he remembered the hour. In usual habit, he had taken more and more to smoking earlier. This had to be changed soon.

Much like how his magic had changed, the dry amusement rose unopposed. He pushed it aside and sighed.

So the night had passed, light gradually snapping away the thick darkness. Heavy-hearted by his current condition, Harlwystyr trudged alone as the dawn came. As they always had, a nearby, dense forest drew him closer in a welcoming display of snow and aged bark. Silently he walked amongst the trees for what seemed like hours upon hours as the morning began to awake around him. Animal noises rose in the distance, most likely stags, tiny bugs and the like scuttered in the underbrush, and high-rising breezes rippled up the fallen leaves.

Drawing in some air, he spread a warm smile upon his lips and looked around at it all. It was more than a long time since he had last taken the time to properly see the forest. An unexpected call from a child interrupted his thoughts.

"Hold there!" a young, high voice commanded.

Giggles and running could be heard, followed by a loud reply: "I go where I wish!"

He recognised the voices. They belonged to several children living in a farming community just between the capital and the forest; a farming community he had visited often, more than once together with Durana. They had woken early to help their parents, no doubt, and were now left with a measure of time on their own, playing. The old breton sniffed carefully, shook his shoulders and stood up against a tree to better listen.

The voice of the blacksmith's son stood out amongst the rest and it was clear that he was the leader of the group. He proclaimed with confidence befitting any king, "I am Harlwystyr! I can whisk you away to Morrowind with but a gesture!"

There was a slight noise of play thereafter; several branches being slammed against the ground and breaking on occasions. Harlwystyr tilted his head to get a better look and saw that his impersonator wore a stained sheet over his shoulders as a cape, hands outstretched.

The boy made a bold gesture towards a girl in muddy clothes. She was tiny and brown-haired and couldn't be have much more than seven or eight winters on her belt. To compensate for her playmates' height she was standing on a tree stump.

She stuck out her tongue and yelled in a high-pitched reply, "But I am Durana, and I am beautiful. Also, Harlwystyr loves me and has to do what I want!"

What had Durana been telling those kids? Harl let an involuntary chuckle escape from his lips. With that, scorching tears burned his cheeks and he lost his sight.

He took a moment to wipe away the tears before deciding to leave very quietly.


Even for the most seasoned of hunters it was easy to fall into the trap of paying no heed to that which one has grown accustomed to, Harkwystyr mused quietly, darting an eye down to his long fingers.

But a few months ago these hands could have woven elaborate webs of Art with the right words to accompany them, but now they couldn't even muster a flame to keep him warm.

Very much like the hands of most people, he reminded himself. Very few are indeed so lucky to stride through life with the magic he'd called forth. Bah, its use has grown on him like moss!

What had he done to deserve this?

For a moment he stood still, but then Harl raised his head in defiance and studied his surroundings. "Why me?" he grunted, then replied to himself. "Because that whelp knew it was one of the best ways to hit me, no less."

"I may not be able to rely on the forces that I have mustered in the past, but I still have the experience and wits of many a lifetime, and I still have the ability to walk and swing a sword. Sure I'm old, but with what I have see and done I can still marshal some sort of wisdom. Not too shabby with the blade either, and there's still a few tricks I can show these flegling sword-fumblers. Perhaps my journey should lead to a friend to practice the sword? Nay, it would likely endanger those few I'm able to rely on."

"But I can't stay around these parts either. The more time I spend around here, the more chance for someone to ask assistance and then learn of the ill-tide that has befallen. Should word get out I'll soon have a dozen or so magelings and necromancers to blast at me, and the people here would be victims to as much magic-dealing as I would. I have to leave. Sneak away like a coward and skulk a chance to regain what is lost. But if I can't, what then?"

The surrounding world erupted in explosions of laughter. Blinking twice, Harlwystyr peered down. Sure enough, he had walked a narrow path this morn which slid into the wilds with enough roots sticking forth from the ground to send any easy-stroller to the ground. And yet the urchins he had spotted playing before, joined by newly arrived children, had cut him off through other tracks. He couldn't give the scenario any more thought before glee and innocense sparked in their voices as they began tugging at his arms.

He forced himself to give them a weak simle and suddenly froze, his gaze set - and dragged at, much like fish being drawn to an angler - in a pair of deeply green, very lovely eyes. They belonged to the very same girl who had earlier impersonated Durana. Around her nails he saw crumbs of dirt - it was quite clear that she had fallen or been pushed - as were her feet, but she looked up at him with an oblivious smile. She waved a hand at him.

Harl stared at her for what seemed like minutes, strangely touched by this, and drew in a more sincere smile. He knew that the gesture had been without the obsequious ways attached to most formal greetings these days. He praised Tamriel a moment for not allowing a young girl to be drawn into that mess just yet. In return be bowed deep, sweeping a hand over his chest to portray a gallant knight.

The youth stood dead still for a second and then, very slowly, her cheeks flushed. She clenched her fists and turned around to bolt, but stopped at the sound of another child's voice ringing out in complaint.

"Daleen, we dared you to ask him! You promised!"

Daleen sniffed and looked at the other girl who had protested, then back to Harlwystyr, looking absolutely lost and terrified. He gave her an inviting smile.

Then she swallowed and ask loudly, "Mister Ealthar. Please make some magic for us, please?" Her voice died down in the ocean of suggestions coming from young lips. She joined in herself happily with the addition, "Hovering lights, please?"

As he felt tears beginning to well up again, Harlwystyr made it to his knee and embraced her gently, trying his best to hold a steady voice. "Perhaps another day, Daleen," he managed to whisper hoarsely. "Magic's like coins, see? Some times ye have to set some aside to save up."

She struck a quick frown in disappointment, but nodded in what seemed like understanding. Then she turned to leave with her friends. Harlwystyr had already left in his own, slow pace.
This post was last modified: December 8th 2013, 12:34 PM by Harlwystyr
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