During Episode 167, the small assault team clearing Castle Kvatch’s royal wing discovered a survivor! It seems Lady Odalys Goldwine had been magically entombed within a shroud of arcane ice and sealed inside the castle’s gold storage vault by the court’s mage. Buffy dispelled the protective magic and healed the chilled noble. Savlian then assigned one of his soldiers to escort the Countess safely to the chapel.Rihanae-
Thank you! I’m so glad the Countess’ first words captured your imagination. Rider-
Buffy certainly felt like she was more useful in this past episode than during that confusing mess out in the bailey! Thank you. mALX-
I’m so glad you liked our twist of having the Countess survive! As you can imagine, we’re beginning to foreshadow the future of Kvatch. KC-
Thanks! I’m gratified that you also approve of our decision to introduce Lady Kvatch. SubRosa-
I’m humbled by your kind words. Stahlrim is a term that eludes Buffy, but it was certainly on my mind as I deviously sealed up Lady Odalys. Hopefully, I was vague enough to avoid any precise lore concerns about the nature of our ‘azure arcane ice’. ghastley-
Heh, given how Buffy dries her clothes, I too am glad we didn’t end up with a noble raison instead of a countess!
Buffy’s a whiz with poisons but she, well, sucks when it comes to brewing potions. She generally has to buy them from more skilled potion makers and normally limits her pink vials to dispel, restore magicka and restore health. In this case, it took all her magicka and then some to dispel the icy shroud and heal the countess within. Grits-
I thank you so much for, despite the short introduction, already seeing that Countess Odalys is one of Cyrodiil’s few nobles who is fully worthy of their title. Darkness Eternal-
I so hope to show Odalys as a grand lady, and very much appreciate your kind words here. We are indeed drawing close to concluding the battle for Kvatch. The city will be free in two more episodes (including today’s). Buffy will then require an additional seven or so episodes to wind down Book 1. McBadgere-
Regarding the length of Kvatch’s siege, you did not blink or miss anything at all, my friend. I have always been intentionally vague on the small number of years the siege has lasted. Buffy met Savlian very shortly after the Kvatch Oblivion Gate opened. On one hand, I don’t want to shortchange the time it took for Buffy to subsequently earn her fantastic Arcane University education. On the other hand, I've always been concerned about the calendar ticking away with poor Savlian standing his deadly watch and waiting for the substantial help that Buffy took so long in delivering. By such measures as invoking the protection of Akatosh over his chapel, shrouding the Countess in arcane ice and having Jauffre assassinated before he could act on what Buffy shared about an heir, I’ve tried to somewhat manage the impact of the long time frame.
Ideally, Buffy would have completed her University training before the crisis ever began so we could pace our story better but, for better or worse, we chose to somewhat more closely follow the sequence one sees in the game. I also like to think that Daedra Lords perceive time quite differently. Perhaps Dagon was satisfied to simply allow the trapped Martin’s human lifespan to expire in a few short decades - ensuring the Dragonfires would never be lit. It has not occurred to Buffy that the brave actions of she and her hero at Kvatch may be akin to kicking a nest of hornets. Sorry for building a watch when you asked what time it was.
Thanks for your patience. TheBrume-
Given that the situation in the royal chambers was pieced together by Buffy’s knowledge of the arcane, combined with some disoriented memories shared by the Countess, I’m so pleased it was clear. Thank you.
* * *
168 You’re Soaking Wet
With the two Anvil swordsmen trailing almost a dozen paces behind, Savlian and I continued deeper into the castle. We had not gone far when I reported, “I see three glows ahead at quite some distance. I’m sure one is a scamp and another looks like a Dremora. The third is large like a frost atronach, but appears to have a long muzzle and tail.” I closed my eyes, allowing countless pages of University study to flash before them until I found reference to what I sought. With a small gulp, I looked up at Savlian. “The only Daedra I’m aware of fitting that description is called a Daedroth. I’ve never seen such a beast, but texts I’ve read infer they may know some simple magic.”
“The four of us should be able to handle three foes,” replied my Imperial. “If not, we’ll lead them back to the awaiting teeth of Lucilius’ reserve in the great hall.”
Savlian navigated us through the confusing maze of narrow corridors until he stopped and pointed down a straight section of passageway that loomed before us. “This hall ends with a pair of tall double doors that open to the royal quarters.”
I replied, “That’s where the life signs I’ve been watching appear to be.”
“You still make them to be three Daedra?” After I nodded, he continued, “Inside, we’ll find a large sitting area and smaller adjoining bedchamber.” Turning to the two swordsmen behind us, Savlian signaled the number of foes ahead and for the soldiers to maintain their following distance.
We then crept forward.
The quiet click under Savlian’s boot barely preceded a rumbling from above us. Before I could react, he drove me ahead and to the floor. His body covered mine just as the roof behind us began to collapse. I heard him grunt with pain and felt more weight added to his as several pieces of stone fell upon us.
Moments after a quiet stillness rejoined us, Savlian was struggling to his elbows so I could better breathe the dust-laden air. He then managed to free us from the heavy debris, get to his feet and pull me to mine. Most of the trapped roof had fallen behind us and our retreat was now blocked. We could hear muffled groans from the completely buried pair of Anvil soldiers. Before our hands could even begin to move some of the rubble, I had to report, “We’re too late. Their glows have faded away.”
Savlian’s right eye barely twitched, but it was my business to understand him like no other could. An almost imperceptible slump visited his broad shoulders. So much death – that he no doubt felt responsible for. Promising myself that I would pleasure away all his cares when this day was done, I forced my attention back to our predicament.
Elven fingers quickly traveled along Slayer’s staff and silk string, verifying the bow had not been damaged. I then lifted one fist and summoned an ethereal spirit. “This ghost will keep watch, scanning for foes during the few moments it will take me to heal us.”
Savlian nodded, adding, “And I’ll check our armor for major damage.” As I eased our bruises, he removed a gauntlet and ran one hand over me. About halfway down the inspection, his voice picked up a sharp edge of concern. “You’re soaking wet. Are you bleeding?”
I didn’t feel injured, so my first thought was that perhaps I had peed my greaves. After careful self-examination however, I replied, “No, but all my potions were crushed by that falling roof trap.” As Savlian tugged his gauntlet back on, my quick check inside his pack revealed the two healing vials he carried for us had also been broken.
My ghost mournfully lifted its wispy arms and dissipated as Savlian trained his gaze on the double doors ahead of us. Rippling jaw muscles and narrowed eyes betrayed what I knew to be righteous fury at the terrible cost exacted by this long day. Old battle-scars marking the face I loved, and countless others hidden by his mail, reminded me that this man was capable of bold or even rash action. I had learned to trust his wisdom and judgment though – particularly when it came to my welfare.
Finally, he slowly shook his head and announced, “Too damn much attrition. We need to clear enough of this rubble to retreat, then come back with reinforcements and conduct a proper breaching operation.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and vigorously nodded my agreement.
Savlian continued, “Given all the noise created by that trap, those Daedra inside the royal quarters have to realize we’re out here. Perhaps they’ve chosen to defend rather than attack, mistakenly believing themselves to be outnumbered by the force at their door. To be on the safe side, I’d like you to seal them in there while I begin moving debris.”
I promptly did so. No sooner had the pale golden light of my warding spell faded however, when the double doors illuminated again – from the other side. A moment later, they burst open to reveal an angry scamp.
Once my command spell swirled into the small Daedra, it turned and loosed the ball of flame it had formed back into the royal quarters – presumably at one of the other two glows.
I was stunned to see the fireball instantly answered by one the size of a small house! As the inferno subsided, it revealed the hapless scamp’s charred and smoking remains.
“Savlian,” I urgently whispered, “that much fire could have only come from the hands of a very powerful Dremora mage.” Acutely aware of my understatement, I nervously added, “You saw how easily the warding I placed on the doors was dispelled. If my magic gets cursed, I-I have no potions to remove the effect.”
“I know, my elf.” The stones he had been lifting were back on the floor. Legion steel and Kvatch shield once again filled his gauntleted hands. “Our foes have now chosen to engage though, and our retreat is blocked.”
I pointed. “That mage’s glow is moving cautiously. Our other target – the big one with the tail - is farther away and stationary.”
From the recesses of the room ahead we heard the deep gravel of a Dremoran voice, “You will not survive, mortals.” The pink glow was augmented by the sight of black robes only for a moment. Then a wall of fire billowed our way.
The approaching flame was too large, and the passageway too narrow, for us to dance aside. “Behind me, Buffy!” ordered Savlian as he lifted his shield and lowered his head.
I did so, and even managed to cast a spell that surrounded us with more fire protection.
Flames completely engulfed us, then mercifully dissipated after but one or two long seconds. I frantically healed us. Thanks to my spell, the burns were minor and neither Savlian’s surcoat nor my hair had been set ablaze. I knew I was outclassed though; this mage’s destruction skill rivaled that of Delphine Jend!
“His glow keeps moving out of the doorway,” I lamented. “I can’t get a clean shot.”
Savlian made our choice. “If we stay out here, he’ll kill us long before help can get through the rubble behind us. Our only chance of surviving is to go in after him where I can put steel to flesh. Follow behind, and let me draw his fire.”