[I finally gave up and cheated after about six incidents of what appeared to be instant-kill spells and getting swarmed by summonses.
Incidentally, OOO's spectral warriors seem to use the dremora voice set, which resulted in an unexpected exchange, but I'm not changing it.
Now I need to write the epilogue...]Chapter 30: Mannimarco's Funeral
Traven was there. I've no idea how I knew, but the old ratbag was there. It was the only explanation for why the lich sort of twisted from the waist, as though somebody grabbed it by the shoulders, and zapped the spectre, who didn't approve at all.
That left the ghost, the skeleton, Wormy, and me.The scum's wearing powerful robes,
I distinctly heard Traven's voice between my ears, with strong reflection enchantments. I –
then he shouldered me aside as the dead elf fired off a nasty looking spell that blew the skeleton apart like a cobweb of bone.
So I charge in with my mace ready and Mannimarco's eyes widen as he realises he's getting bailed up in a corner. I manage to get a smack in on his shoulder, but like Traven said, I ended up briefly joined to the sod by an arc of lightning.
And my matching shoulder didn't like it either.Moving a bit fast are we?
Traven asked sarcastically. Perhaps we should have spent a year working on our spellcraft instead?
I didn't answer, since the King of Worms had smacked me with one of his spells as he fled. I collapsed to the floor under paralysis magic, unable to even take a swing at him as he passed, raising a hand filled with red.
Then he yelled in pain as Traven's spirit grabbed his ears.
I didn't bother laughing as Mannimarco flailed at his head; I grabbed the old Mace of Jolts and went to take a swing. Since he was dead, he tended to need a lot of tenderising.
As I swung, he managed to forget his ears long enough to try and kick me. So I altered my swing; it hurt, but his knee was more bung than mine now. As he tried to right himself, I chugged a health potion and turned to the approaching spectre.
I wasn't expecting the creature to halt and lower its claymore though.
“I've seen you before, haven't I?” it asked in decidedly daedric tones.
“Markynhaz Gadaz'tor?” replies I, “I didn't recognise you.”
“I'm not surprised,” says he, “oh, and there's a few Kyn who're grateful to you.”
“Wait a minute...” one moment I'm fighting the King of Worms, now I'm talking to a dremora in a ghostly shell. “Are you saying all those spectral warriors are trapped dremora?”
“Yes,” replies he, “we don't know how, but sometimes the Kyn find themselves imprisoned in these cold bodies in the mortal plane. It's bearable if there are others with you, but eventually the Pull becomes too much... defeat in battle is the only way.”Well bugger me!
Traven said in wonder, live and learn.
And I sneak a glance over my shoulder; Mannimarco's got to his feet but he's catching flies. Nine know he has the gob for it.
“Well, you're not spontaneous,” says I, “and that thing in the robes is the one who summoned you. Want to help me kill him?”
Spectral teeth flashed as he cried, “Sounds like a plan!”
What followed was ugly. Gadaz'tor charged in with absolutely no regard for his safety while I attempted to juggle getting my own blows in, swigging health potions, and keeping out of the Markynhaz's way.
Between my mace and the dremora's claymore, Mannimarco was in trouble. So were we, unfortunately, thanks to the reflection powers of his gear. Every time we landed a blow or a spell, it bounced back on us. Soon I could feel my sweetbreads screaming, backed up by my arm joints, accompanied by the shaking of weakened legs, and there was a wetness inside my helm matching where the Mace of Jolts had ripped away a chunk of his scalp.
Gadaz'tor bellowed in triumph as he raised his claymore for an overhead strike guaranteed to split the King of Worms down the middle; Mannimarco himself was wobbling on his knees, staring concussed up at the Markynhaz.
So of course
the bloody summons wore off right then and there!
I didn't hesitate to finish the job. Up comes I and down comes the mace, sending chunks of face flying. My vision clouded with reflected pain and blood but I kept swinging until I simply fell where I stood, twitching as the shock magics dissipated.That,
Traven remarked, was the most bloody disgraceful exhibition of macecraft I have ever seen.
And I said nothing. I was too busy trying to work out if I was dead or not.Maybe you should join the Fighters' Guild? You know, learn how to actually kill people without getting killed yourself.
The shock-caused quaking subsided, but the anguish in my face didn't. Several of my teeth felt loose, my eyes were filled with blood, and I suspected my nose was broken. That sort of thing makes it difficult for a man to remember his healing spells.Then again,
Traven went on, I know you didn't ask me, but maybe you should think about introducing some warcraft classes into the curriculum. Nine knows I've dragged my heels on that.
I spat out a glob of bloody spit, coughed a prayer to Stendarr, and felt his mercy wrap about me and take away some of my pain. Now I could see, through a red fog, a lump of cloth surrounded by dark fluid.Maybe I was too impatient,
Traven spoke again, maybe I should have let you develop your skills more. Gods know you need to, since I won't be around to hold your hand from now on. But hang it all, this was a crisis! Hey – are you listening to me, fur-licker?
I wasn't. Instead I was fumbling for a vial in my pack, scattering potions of shielding and poisons of all sorts as I groped for a particular sort; deep pinkish-red, with a meaty scent. I finally found it, jerked out the stopper, and somehow managed to put the bottle to my lips – which hurt – and swallowed the contents – which also hurt. Silver relief spun from my stomach to my skin, and I was finally able to open my eyes and make sense of what I was seeing.
The cloth was the robes and hood of Mannimarco, but now they cloaked a shapeless mass of bones and decomposing flesh. My nose still being pretty stuffed up, I was grateful I couldn't smell anything. As I watched, the unnaturally fast disintegration of the corpse finally concluded in dust and ugly stains. From inside the hood, the caved-in skull of the King of Worms goggled crosseyed at its jawbone in front of it.
My legs finally agreed to support me again as I managed to pick myself up. “We did it,” I said thickly, then hawked up more bloody phlegm before groping for another potion. “We bloody did it.”Bloody's right,
Traven remarked, seeing as if it wasn't for me and that dremora –
“What's done is done,” snarls I, anger shoving aside pain. I stomp over to Mannimarco's corpse and yank off hood, robes, his staff and also a daedric dagger still in its sheath.
I still have them, trophies of my, Traven's, and Markynhaz Gadaz'tor's victory over the King of Worms.Well then,
Traven said almost sadly, this time from a point in front of me and to my right, one last thing I need you to do.
“What?” is my intelligent response.Take that club of yours to that big soul gem. Just in case someone gets ideas about stepping into Mannimarco's shoes.
“Not to mention the rubbish said about trapping souls,” That made sense. I placed the gem on a handy rock, braced myself, then let the revolting artifact have it.
Bards are encouraged to embroider on the fact that the gem basically shattered with a loud crunch.Righto,
and Traven's voice was more distant now, and now we part. Well, until you fall off your perch anyway. Don't hurry.
“What?” is my intelligent response.Mannimarco was the only reason I stayed around, you idiot,
says he, and now he's finally finished, there's no need for me to hang around, is there?
“But what will I do about the Guild?” asks I, “I've no idea what to do, I –”Oh, stop whining!
Traven's voice was getting fainter. You can read, can't you? Here's a hint: speak to Carvain about all this. Polus too. I'm not sticking around, I'm not allowed. Besides,
adds he with his old irritation, I told
you to lead the Mage's Guild as
And his spirit left.
Slowly, I retraced my steps through the caverns until I found a bedroll, then passed out for a little while.
Later in the day, I arrived at the walls of Bruma. It occurred to me that I should let the Countess know that the necromancer threat was gone.
So later I'm in the throne room waiting my turn to address her ladyship when I recognise the voice of the mage addressing her.
“...thus at the very least, the building should be repaired to save face and,” and here Raminus pauses, “prevent unkind allegations against your rule.”
“I am sure
you have my
reputation in mind,” the Countess Carvain responded waspishly, “but seeing as it was my
city that was violated, and that it was my
guardsmen who risked their
lives to –”
Which I took as my cue.
“What about me?” says I striding up, “Here I am, the poor bloody Arch-Mage, nearly getting killed a dozen times over, not including about five minutes before the King of Worms finally bit the dust?”
And the two stare at me.
“Which was about five hours ago,” finishes I, “so how's about you get your people to refurbish the guildhall while I get my people to fill it?”
And the Countess does a pretty good imitation of a landed slaughterfish while Raminus manages to get his brain into gear.
“Arch-Mage! Mannimarco is defeated?”
“Am I dead?”
“Well in that case, he is. He was still dead when I stripped his bones and left.” And I have a little think, scratch my nose as casually as possible and add, “Setting a good example for the other lidgies I offed in there as well.”
“Where's 'there'?” asks the Countess.
“Echo Cave,” says I.
“Well, not that I... don't believe you...” and she looks my battered self up and down, “but I think I'd best send a party out to investigate for myself before I decide.”
“Suit yourself,” shrugs I, “me, I'm going home and having a well-earned collapse.”
“I've a better idea,” says Raminus, “have you tried the Jerall View?” And he blinks and adds, “My apologies, Countess, by your leave?”
She waved us away and the last I heard she was calling for a bird or something.
“Got another room free?” asks Raminus to the innkeep. The Jerall View was a homely place, warm and cozy. And as it turned out, he did have another room.
Raminus escorted me downstairs into a well-appointed room and quizzed me about what had taken place as I divested myself of my gear prior to diving into bed for another nap.
“So,” says he at last, “that's the end of the King of Worms. Stay as long as you need in the morning; I want to go on ahead and prepare for the ceremony.”
“Ceremony?” is my enquiry.
“You'll need to be formally sworn in as Arch-Mage,” says he, “I've been doing some research into the matter. As far as I can tell, the Emperor will ask you a lot of traditional questions, and you just say 'I will' or something like that. Then I'll send messages to the other guildhalls letting them know you're the new Arch-Mage. That's another formality,” grimaces he, “since the Black Horse Courier will get there first.”
“Then can I go home?”
“I can't stop you. Just be there by noon tomorrow, all right? We don't want to keep his Imperial Majesty waiting.”
“Fine,” says I, about to remove my greaves, “but before that, if you don't mind, I have a meeting with some nightmares.”
“If you need anything just scream,” says Raminus and leaves before I can heave a boot at him.
With the greaves off I finally crawled into bed and passed out for the second time in one day.This post has been edited by Cardboard Box: Apr 5 2011, 09:09 AM