In Thread Four we continue Julian’s adventures with Chapter 19. Brace yourself!
For those joining the party late, here are links to the previous three threads:Chapters 1 through 7Chapters 8 through 13Chapters 14 through 18
******************Chapter 19.1 Leyawiin Mages GuildJenseric would have found out by now that his name is cleared with the Watch.
My mind returned to my interview with Hieronymus Lex. After I returned to the Imperial City with Seridur’s armor and claymore, I had reported the situation to Lex. He had agreed to send a messenger to Jenseric’s cabin to let the man know the outcome. Then I had sought healing from Jeelius in case I had contracted porphyric hemophilia.
That had been yesterday. I did not linger long, but instead returned to Paint and the Yellow Road south from the east coast of Lake Rumare. We had spent the night at the Imperial Bridge Inn before resuming our travel along the east side of the Niben Bay.
Paint threw his head up, his hooves clattering to a halt on the cobblestones. I looked down the twisting Yellow Road. The rain reduced visibility to less than a couple hundred meters. I dismounted when Paint remained tense, his ears flicking back and forth, his nostrils fluttering. What is it? Wolf? Troll? Spriggan?
His reaction suggested it was something he had never seen before. I stepped forward, my katana ready.
A sizzling sound reached my ears, then a swirl of sparks coalesced in mid-air between me and Paint. The gelding tossed his head and stepped back as the will o’wisp solidified into its visible form. Cacat!
Reflexively my katana leaped toward its glow, passing through it without any visible effect.
Paint whinnied and reared as a crackling bolt of orange lightning joined the will o’wisp to him. Flame-colored reflections sparked off the hilt of Daedra Slayer
, attached to the cantle. I sheathed the katana and called on Domina Incendia
to try and distract the insubstantial creature. As the will o’wisp slowly rotated in response to the flame atronach’s fireballs, I ran past it to Paint, who backed away, trembling violently. I laid a soothing hand on his shoulder and reached for my enchanted katana. Sliding it out of its scabbard, I turned around in time to see Domina Incendia
dissolve from the will o’wisp’s counterattack.
Fortunately, Daedra Slayer
proved as effective against the flame-shaped monster as it did against the vicious Dremora I had faced in the Deadlands. A few swings of its fiery blade dissipated the last energy of this foe, leaving behind softly glowing embers on the cobblestones.
A groan behind me spun me around. I watched horrified as Paint slowly crumpled to the slick surface of the road, his labored breaths loud in the pouring rain. “No!” As I ran to him, his head lowered to the stones, and his respiration slowed. Falling to my knees, I dropped Daedra Slayer
at my side and laid my hands on his arched neck, tangling my fingers in his mane. I felt the overpowering weakness in his body as I called on my remaining magicka. The convalescence spell drained the last of my energy, and all I accomplished was a mild improvement in his stertorous breathing.
Frantically I searched in the saddle bags for the vials of magicka restoration I had purchased in the Imperial City. Finding them, I fumbled one out and hastily drank it down. Feeling the surge of energy in my core, I forced myself to calm, laying my hands on Paint’s still trembling form. I leaned my cheek on his smooth coat. “Paint, stay with me,” I whispered, concentrating on another convalescence spell. His breathing smoothed out, but the tremoring and weakness persisted.
It took all my willpower to fight back the terror I felt when I realized I might lose my traveling companion. Don’t die, Paint. You have to get up. You have to walk with me to Leyawiin. We can’t stay here in the wilderness.
I drank another potion and cast another spell to help him recover.
Six vials, my entire supply of restore magicka potions, lay empty on the cobblestones, and I was shaking with the repeated spell-casting before Paint attempted to rise. His first attempt was unsuccessful, and left him blowing hard. The second try was better, and he swayed on his feet, muscles tremoring as if from a hard gallop over a long distance. Paint was too weak to lift his chiseled head, and his round brown eyes were half-closed and sunken into his skull. I rose to my feet, my hands on his shoulder as if trying to hold him up. When I was certain he wouldn’t collapse again, I gathered the empty vials, stowing them into the saddlebags. I strapped my plain katana to my back, and removed the scabbard for Daedra Slayer,
attaching it to my belt at my left hip. My plain steel bow was traded for Akatosh’s Fury,
which I strung and made ready in case of more of these dangerous creatures.
I led Paint off the road down to the river bank. The mud crabs clattered away from us as I gathered wood. Paint drank from the Niben, then stood motionless, his head low, while I made a rough hearth and built a fire. I watched him anxiously as I added wood to the flames. I have some restore health potions in the pack, but how to get him to drink them? How many potions would be effective for a horse his size?
I could feel my magicka slowly replenishing. As Paint did not seem to worsen, I decided to wait until my energy was fully returned and try another convalescence spell again.
The night passed with agonizing slowness as I sat with Paint. Every time my magicka replenished to its full strength, I would cast a convalescence spell on him. I dozed fitfully in between, torn between the need to reach Leyawiin as quickly as possible and my promise to the deceased Prior who had so generously given me such a wonderful traveling companion. The rain soaked me to the skin, but I paid it no mind.
By the time the overcast sky lightened with the dawn, Paint was no longer trembling, and was able to walk, albeit slowly. His head remained low, and his eyes did not sparkle with his usual humor. He showed little interest in the grass at his feet, and did not snatch at the edible forage as we slowly walked back to the road.
Though I cast convalescence on him whenever my magicka replenished, I could not restore Paint’s vigor or strength. To spare him, I walked down the Yellow Road, leading him behind me and stopping often to let him rest.
The shadows of Leyawiin appeared through the rain a few hours later as we trudged along the Yellow Road. The city, built on the west bank of the southern Niben, seemed to disappear within its surroundings of black oaks and bald cypresses draped with tillandsia - better known as hangman’s moss, according to the Guide to Cyrodiilic Flora.
The stuff was everywhere, giving the trees a sinister appearance in the rain.
As I approached this newest city in Cyrodiil, I caught my breath in dismay to find - not one, but two
- Oblivion Gates crackling ominously on the eastern banks of the Niben, across from Leyawiin. I was reluctant to bring my horse down to the eastern city gate, not with daedra swarming the road nearby.
After we backtracked up the river to a bridge, I brought Paint around to the far side of the city, where I found a stable. The Khajiit Atahba assured me that she would do the best she could for my weakened horse. She purred soothingly to the gelding as she led him within the shed. The knot of worry in my chest remained as I reluctantly put him out of my mind and focused on my mission.
When I entered the city, I decided to head to the Mages Guild first, and get a feel for the situation. I had never been to Leyawiin before, and knew next to nothing about its Count, Marius Caro.
Entering the Guild chapter house, I was glad to find it dry and not too warm. A young Nord, somewhat taller than me, turned around from the library table set in the center of the hall. After he laid the broadsheet down, he greeted me, putting his hands together and giving me a half-bow. “Greetings, ma’am. Kalthar, mage journeyman. How may I help you?”
I eyed him warily. Though his greeting seemed friendly enough, I thought I saw discontentment in his black eyes and beetling brows. “I’m Julian from Anvil,” speaking slowly, I watched him. This anger of his is not directed at me.
“I’ve just joined the Guild, and am gathering recommendations to gain admission to the University.” Aha, there it is.
Kalthar’s gaze turned even darker as his brows drew together into a furry caterpillar. “Oh, boy, good luck getting that,” he muttered. “You’d need to talk to Dagail about that. Only thing is, do you even want to?”
Schooling my face to remain bland, I frowned inwardly at his attitude. What’s with this Mages Guild? Open hostility and overt disrespect for one’s superiors? This would never last ten seconds in the Legion!
“Where can I find her, sir?”
He pointed up to a flying passage above the main floor, connecting the two wings at the second level. “She’s up there, pretending to read.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said to him, seeing the scowl ease on his face. Moving to the staircase at the back of the hall, I climbed slowly up the steps. When I reached the landing, I looked around. An aged Bosmer woman sat quietly, book open in her lap, her gaze on some distant horizon visible only to her.
After I set my pack on the floor some distance away, I walked quietly to the bench and sat down next to the old woman. “Dagail, ma’am?”
“Hmm?” she turned her head to me, her ancient gaze still remote. “You seek wisdom from me, child?”
“I’m Julian, from Anvil,” I began, uncomfortable with the way she seemed to stare through me. “I’m looking for the chapter head, Dagail.”
“No, you seek words,” the old mer spoke, her voice as faraway as her gaze. “Words are . . . difficult. I hear so many voices, so loud I can not hear the words they say.” Now her faded eyes seemed to focus on me. “Will you lift your hands to help another? Will you help me find the word?”
Puzzled, I considered my answer. A seer?
“Yes, I’ll help,” I said finally.
She smiled at me. “Then speak to Agata, child. She will see the path, and set you upon it.”
“Hello?” a more grounded voice reached me. I looked up at a plain Nord woman, her worn face showing a concern that I felt was not for me. I introduced myself and explained my purpose. She waved for me to follow her into the north wing. After retrieving my pack, I followed her through a heavy paneled door. As she closed the door behind us, she gestured for me to proceed ahead of her into a small room containing two beds. “Put your things there for now,” she said. “I’m Agata,” she continued. “I help Dagail with the administrative tasks. You may have noticed that she’s -” her eyes shifted uneasily, “- not well.”
“She mentioned voices, and trouble finding the word,” I said. “She did tell me to talk to you about it.”
Agata sighed and sat on the other bed, motioning for me to do the same. “She has visions, you see,” she looked down at her roughened hands. “They’ve been helpful in the past, but now they have become problematic. She had an amulet,” her fingers touched her breast, where such a piece of jewelry would lie, “a family heirloom that helped her focus these visions. Without it, all she sees and hears is chaos.”
“And she has lost it?” I asked quietly, fingering the Jewel of the Rumare on my little finger. It had become such a part of me, I never thought to remove it. It allowed me to swim long distances underwater without surfacing, and had served me well in Cheydinhal. It also reminded me of my good friend, who loved Paint as much as I did. Sadness at the thought of his condition choked my throat, and I forced it away with a swallow. Looking up in time to see Agata’s nod, I considered the situation. “Have you spoken to the other mages about it?”
“I’ve tried to keep it from them, for fear they would be less - accepting of her.”
“Of Dagail, or of her authority?” I asked, thinking of Kalthar.
Agata considered my words. “Both,” she said finally. “Dagail had a good reputation within the guild, and was valuable to the Council of Mages. But as she became older, she became less coherent. The Council sent her here.” She rose and paced to the leaded window, looking out at the rainy day outside. “There are some here who resent her presence, and wish she’d disappear.” She shot me a fierce glance. “I
do not. I am proud to help her with her daily tasks.”
“Well,” I said after a moment, “I promised Dagail that I would help her.” I rose to my feet and started pulling out my civilian clothing. Fortunately the bag had kept everything dry. “Let me change, and I can get started.” I glanced at Agata, already unbuckling the cuirass. “There are a couple of things I need to do in town,” I paused to shrug the armor off with a soft susurrus of mail. “But I keep my promises.”
“Talk to the other mages, see if they know anything about the Seer’s Stone,” Agata moved away from the window. “That’s what Dagail calls her amulet.”This post has been edited by haute ecole rider: Oct 13 2010, 03:17 PM