In Episode 55, Buffy successfully tested a new spell she had crafted to help her employ poison more effectively -even against normally immune foes - while preserving her stealth. She then caught up with friends at the Bravil Mages Guild and requested some advice on what to wear for Countess Leyawiin's dinner party. Ever the fashionista, Delphine quickly offered to help. Foxy-
Thanks! You're right that when Buffy first started using such spells, they severely drained her magic. We consider the synergy of such spells chased by poisoned arrows to be the pinnacle of mystic archery, so please allow me a touch of 'watchbuilding' here. Readers not so interested in the specifics should feel free to skip over the next two paragraphs:
The spell Buffy used in this previous episode was her first and simplest version: Weakness to poison on target 100x4 seconds + Drain speed on target 100x1 second. It cost her a boatload of magicka to cast back then. As you know, casting cost goes down with skill in the relevant school of magic. That's a destruction spell, and Buffy's destruction skill is now 90; therefore it would now cost her a miniscule 18 magicka to cast.
She has dramatically upgraded the spell as her skills have grown and has several variants now. Her fave is this: Weakness to poison on target 100x8 seconds + Drain speed on target 100x1 second + Soul trap on target x35 seconds + feather on self 3x8 seconds + fortify fatigue on self 3x35 seconds. The longer weakness duration gives her more time to get off her poisoned shot. The last two effects only add 1 magicka each to the cost of the spell and simply serve to give her little 'timer' icons (as they are active effects on self) to let her know how much time remains on her weakness to poison and soul trap effects. Because soul trap is the single most powerful effect in this version, the spell overall is assigned to the mysticism school. With 100 skill in mysticism, the spell now costs Buffy a manageable 58 magicka. Chasing such a spell with a poison that includes several damage effects is devastating.MyCat-
Thanks for the help fixing Kud-Ei's name! Yes, the poor ghostie only lasted a few seconds after that screenshot. hazmick-
We miss Haa-Rei as well! Thank you. Buffy does indeed love her Bravil guild mates - each in their own way. She is getting ready for an expedition to Leyawiin to do Sanguine's quest. Please bear with us though because, oh my goodness - what a huge production we will make of it!Destri-
Wow! Such high praise from the master of spellbinding action sequences. Thank you! SubRosa-
Yes, long range target ID of pink glows is a challenge for Buffy, but she's found that the 'zoom in' marksman perk, arming a max range telekinesis spell or sometimes briefly deactivating detect life can help.
-Well, you know Buffy and puddles. . . .
-I'm afraid the next episode is quite a bit more hair and clothes, lol.
-Thanks for the nit. You'd think the spellmaking altar would surely prevent me from altering the spelling of altar. Grizzly-
Mara has never 'pushed' Buffy; I think that may be one reason Buffy loves her. The name Acadian - My family did indeed migrate from France to the eastern US/Canada border, so I suppose the name Acadian may be somewhat appropriate. Honestly though, in my case it was inspired by the role of Mathayus (played by The Rock) as the last true Akkadian mercenary in the movie 'The Scorpion King'. Big guy, big bow, big sword. Live free, die well. mALX-
Thank you! Yes, the episode is similar to BF 1.0. The main differences:
1. We 'bridged' Buffy from Kvatch to Bravil with the previous chapter, so popping up in the undercroft in Bravil to test her new spell should not have been a surprise (as it surprised treydog in 1.0).
2. We added some explanation regarding ghosts in undercrofts as a result of Buffy constantly asking me 'why?' in 2.0.
3. We enhanced Buffy's interaction with Ardaline just a little, to hopefully better 'show' that they really are very comfortable as peers and best friends. Grits-
I'm so glad you enjoyed Buffy's dance with the ghosties as we tried to display a bit of mystic archery! There will be a touch of girl talk amidst plenty of dress up in this next episode. Thank you for the kind words, and I'm so delighted you are sharing Jerric's wonderful story with us! Wolf-
G'day and thank you for the wonderfully kind words! We miss you and our Bravilian neighbor, Aradroth. I'm so glad you dropped in!
* * *
56 What's a Girl to Wear?
I had no sooner removed my blouse to try on the first dress, when Delphine's eyes fell upon my bare left shoulder and she exclaimed, "Buffy! What happened to you?" Her eyes flashed anger. "I swear if someone's been hurting you, I'll make them explode!"
"No no, Delphine. I was hunting ghosts in the undercroft this morning and had to do some diving and rolling."
"Really!" Delphine shook her head and clucked disapprovingly. "Someday you're going to get hurt skulking around in dark places like that. If you can't manage 'Enemies Explode', you should at least let me try and teach you Adrienne Berene's 'Fire Storm' spell."
My fingertips applied white magic to the shoulder injury. As my bruises began to fade, I giggled. "I don't think Mara would appreciate one of us fire storming her chapel."
My home soon had clothes everywhere and I was getting dizzy from trying on so many outfits. The bottle of Tamika's that Delphine and I shared probably didn't help. Finally, I blew several stray wisps of hair from my face and complained, "We need a break."
"Here," said Delphine as she laid three gowns on the bed, "it will be one of these. Yes, let's sit down for a moment." The Breton took a seat at my small table, smoothed her skirt and channeled excess energy into plucking imagined lint from her blue velvet sleeve. "Tell me, Buffy, how are you getting to Leyawiin?"
I drained the last of the Tamika's into our goblets, then gratefully plopped myself onto a chair across the table from Delphine. "Well, I can't swim there like Kud-Ei does, silly."
"The roads are dangerous," sniffed Delphine. "I had to go to Leyawiin once for my University recommendation, and traveled by ship. Why don't you try that?"
"I'll ride my mare, of course," I said. In response to her disapproving expression, I added, "Between my detect life rings and the bursts of speed that Superian's capable of, we've learned to travel pretty safely together."
Delphine glanced toward the ceiling as a delicate finger came to rest upon one cheek. Knowing my guild mate, I was pretty sure her busy mind had already migrated beyond my travel arrangements. "Say, don't I recall seeing lots of Khajiit in Leyawiin?"
"Yes," I replied, "and Argonians too. It's quite sad actually, to see the way they insult and tease each other there." I drained my goblet, got to my feet and started sorting through more outfits. "Why do you ask?"
"Buffy, I have a dear friend who was a classmate at the University. She and I are as close as you and Ardaline. I haven't heard from her in ages, and that's quite unusual. I worry that perhaps something's happened."
I was tugging a green silk skirt up over my hips as I paused. It was unusual to see Delphine not bubbling with cheerful confidence. As she drummed her fingers on the table though, it was clear she was troubled. "Is this friend of yours a Khajiit, and would you like me to keep an eye out for her in my travels?"
Delphine nodded. "Would you please? Her name is Maxical. You can't miss her. She's a pretty little thing with white fur and a mane of strikingly red hair. Like you, she insists on carrying a weapon - a sword instead of a bow though. A wise choice for her I suppose; poor dear can't aim a spell or arrow properly to save her life.
"I'll keep an eye open, Delphine. She sounds easy to spot."
The Breton's look of concern faded somewhat, as she got to her feet. "I'm glad to see you selecting more clothes for your trip than just ball gowns and animal skins." She freed my hair from the neckline of the white peasant blouse I had just pulled over my head. "Oh, this childish ponytail will simply not do for a formal dinner."
"Delphine, do you remember how you helped put me together for my graduation party? Could you teach me how to do some different ponytail styles?"
Delphine puffed up some and smiled. "Turn around and face the looking glass. You can have such a hairstyle and still impart a softer line to your face. The secret, whether your ponytail is high, low or just accents a loose flow, is to not gather all your hair together. Now watch how I do this, then we'll have you try."
After paying close attention and a few failed attempts, I was able to arrange my hair in several styles while still retaining a ponytail. "How's this?"
"That's much more attractive," said Delphine approvingly, "but it's not what you want for a castle dinner. When you get to Leyawiin, see Agata. Yes, yes, I know she's a Nord, and many of them rely on their breasts instead of fashion. Agata is different though; although you wouldn't know it to look at her, she really does know clothes and hair. Have her help you put it up into a stick twist. It'll show off that pretty neck and make you look elegant."
"Stick twist?" I grimaced. "Do you think it's wise to lift my hair up away from my big ears?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Delphine admonished. "If you had little ears you wouldn't be a wood elf." As if her logic should have evaporated my concern, she gestured toward the dresses on my bed and continued, "Now, for your dinner party, take all three of these with you and decide there. It would be helpful if you could somehow figure out what the other ladies will be wearing. You're usually pretty good about wearing matching footwear, so just make sure you don't forget to pack shoes for each gown."
Before I could get a word in, she went on, "Oh, now don't forget to take a nice amulet with you. That copper thing you wear most of the time may be enchanted, but it certainly doesn't go with a formal gown. I'm surprised it doesn't stain your neck the color of a Dunmer."
My head was spinning. "Thank you so much, Delphine. I'll take all that stuff with me, look up Agata, and let you know if I see a white Khajiit."
"Buffy, you look positively frazzled."
"What a day, Nilawen," I said with an exaggerated sigh after closing the door of The Fair Deal behind me. "I spent a good part it getting fashion advice and learning new hairstyles from Delphine. Then I rushed out to reload my quiver and say good bye to Daenlin before I travel to Leyawiin. I'm glad I made it here before you closed."
The dark haired merchant rolled her eyes. "Delphine's a dear, and I understand she's quite the prodigy with destruction magic, but just watching her flit about makes me tired. Your hair looks nice though, with some of it not being gathered into your ponytail. When are you leaving?"
"Thank you," I said, twirling a blond lock. "I still have to finish packing this evening. I'll leave tomorrow before sunrise."
Nilawen wiped both hands on her apron. "Well then, what can I get for you this evening?"
"I was hoping the new journal I ordered might have come in? My current one is getting quite full."
"Well, you're in luck," came the reply as the Bosmer reached under her counter and produced a small book. "It arrived today with my newest shipment of supplies, which you'll be happy to know included a case of Tamika's and some fresh strawberries." Her eyes sparkled as she bent down and lifted a bag up to the counter. "I set some aside for you."
I giggled, then replied, "You know me well." After gathering up my goods, I pressed some gold coins into Nilawen's hand.
Her fingers lingered on mine as she said, "I know Daenlin will miss you. I once asked him if he regrets teaching you the very skills that now allow you to roam so far and freely from Bravil."
"What did my master say?" I asked.
"He simply told me that if you hold onto a butterfly, it cannot survive." Nilawen smiled as she released my hand. "Safe travels to Leyawiin, Buffy."
Well, after what Nilawen told me, I couldn't help but stop at The Archer's Paradox for a second, tearful goodbye to Daenlin. Finally however, I returned to my little house.
After picking up all the clothes still strewn about, I settled in for an evening of packing. I sang softly to myself and Acadian as I carefully inspected everything from bowstrings to poisons to blue velvet shoes.
As I began carefully placing items into my pack, I tried to remember everything that had been pushed into my head during the day. Don't forget to ask Agata for help, I reminded myself. What did Delphine mean about Nords not knowing much about fashion? Sigrid of Kvatch was a Nord, and she was both elegant and beautiful. I frowned with a pang of jealousy, wishing I hadn't remembered that.
I quit singing, in favor of chattering to Acadian. "How are we going to get into Countess Leyawiin's dinner party? I've only ever been inside a castle long enough to buy this house, and that didn't go so well. Count Bravil told me it was against his better judgment to allow forest creatures to even buy houses, and that I should feel lucky he was even willing to take my gold. I was in tears before I left."
Finally, I was packed. Before starting my bedtime spell practice, I said to Acadian, "Here's a question that I really would like an answer to: Say we do get into this castle, and even somehow manage an invitation to dinner. I don't know anything about royalty. How do I act? What do I say? I'm just a simple elf. Nobles scare me."
I couldn't imagine what he might be able to tell or show me, but I had learned not to underestimate the old paladin. I was hopeful as I closed my eyes and tried to clear my mind.
Sure enough, an image began to form. The face looked familiar - it was an older man, gray hair, white collar, purple. . . Uriel Septim! The image spoke: 'But in your face, I behold the sun’s companion.'
The Emperor then faded away.
"Acadian!" I squealed. "I could kiss you! Well, ok actually I can't, but you know what I mean. You're right, the Emperor of all Tamriel was kind to me. He as much as told me I was a Child of Dawn even before Azura did. I felt like more than just a simple elf when he talked to me." A touch of pride and confidence entered my voice as I added, "If I'm good enough to walk and talk with Uriel Septim, I'm good enough to consort with the Countess of Leyawiin. Besides," I shrugged, "she might even be nice, like the Emperor was."