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This is the autobiographical journal of Arvil Bren, a somewhat reluctant hero who has been placed on an unknown quest by powers that he barely knows exist. Follow his journey as it is updated daily, Monday through Friday, and enjoy! These are the most recent entries in Arvil Bren's third journal; Politics of the Redoran. His first journal can be found in its entirety here. His second journal, Trail of the Archmage can be found here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Five: The bitter end

Flacassia's eyes flew open wide when I appeared on her platform. She is an Imperial from Cyrodiil, and the guild guide in the guild headquarters in Vivec City. If there were only one mage in the guild still loyal to Trebonius it would be her. "You need to go back where you came from," she said, "or somewhere else." Mystical energies started to coalesce around her fingertips as she readied the spell. "Where to?"

"I'll be staying," I replied. I listened to my calm voice with a curious detachment.

"Do you want your retirement to meet a sudden end?" she asked. "Ranis was here a few days ago and said you were in seclusion, and I thought Trebonius was going to kill her. When he sees you he is going to explode!"

Craetia the alchemist chose that moment to appear around the corner. Craetia is of Imperial descent as well, but I was fairly certain she would be inclined to stay on in Vvardenfell, and completely certain she would be glad to see the last of Trebonius. "Flacassia who are you...oh! Arvil Bren!"

"Quiet!" Flacassia hissed at her. "Tell this fool Breton that he needs to get out of here before Trebonius sees him."

The ebony foot of my staff struck the floor with a distinctive sound, and I let a trickle of magica gather around my own fingers where they gripped the shaft. "Flacassia I appreciate your concerns, but remind your tongue that Trebonius is not the only master wizard in the guild. Nor is he the only one that is dangerous to offend."

Craetia's jaw dropped slightly, Flacassia's nearly hit the floor. In their experience I was the cheerful errand runner of the guild, popping through the dimensional doors of the guides, bringing rare ingredients to Craetia's lab, always with a laugh and a smile. As I surpassed the others in ability and rank I had always brushed it off, and thanked them for maintaining the halls at the expense of their own practicing. Today called for something more stern; alien to me, shocking to them.

Sirlonwe the Altmer mage, whose apartment lies close to the guide platform, arrived at the head of the nearby stair in the moment of surprised silence. "I heard that he was in seclusion, but surely you girls can't be that surprised to see Arvil Bren," she said. Her voice struggled to be light, but anything less than serious comes difficult for the Altmeri. Then she recognized the crackling magica dancing on the ebony staff in my hand and lapsed into more familiar gravity. "It is good to see you Arvil Bren. Perhaps these two have been carried away in their excitement."

"More than a bit," they agreed, almost in unison. "No disrespect intended Master Wizard," Flacassia concluded quietly.

"A bit unusual to hear ranks and titles in a conversation with Arvil Bren," said Sirlonwe. She had chastened me more than once about what she considered a frivolous attitude.

"Today is an unusual day, Sirlonwe, and I am feeling the weight of my rank," I replied. "No harm done ladies, or intended." The angry red glow receded into my clenched knuckles and I eased my grip.

"Weight of a rank you have neither earned nor deserve you squeezing of a mucksponge!" boomed an irate voice from the stair. "A rank I would gladly see stripped from your name over your scorched remains!" The junior mages scattered like leaves in the tornado of Trebonius wrath.

Again my staff struck the stone with an ominous crack. "Have a care Archmage. I respect your position, but I am a master also. I've earned that rank, and proper respect, even from you."

"Earned? You have the rank true enough, but to earn it calls for serving the guild. You serve nothing but your own ambition!" he roared. "Do you think I don't know how you've maneuvered behind my back? Do you think I don't know you covet my office? Do you take me for a fool?"

"I covet nothing!" I let my voice match his volume, but kept a note of respect. "I would not choose to lead the guild through the coming wars. That is a responsibility I would rather avoid. You might consider the weight of failing in that responsibility before you think about who might be wanting to take it off your head."

"Failing?!" he roared back, foam flecking his lips. "Are you saying I'm failing?"

"I'm saying nothing Archmage, but answer yourself. The Telvanni move against us almost openly. If the legions are withdrawn to Cyrodiil whose power will guard this hall? You are at the helm of the guild. Are we on a safe course?" I had lowered my voice to a level of reasonable discussion. "I would rather retire. Will you keep me safe?"

"You don't need to worry about the Telvanni," he grated back. "I will kill you myself." Flames and sparks coursed the length of his staff.

"Fool!" I shouted. "I accept your challenge, but battle here would destroy the hall you are supposed to be guiding to safety."

"The arena then." The destructive energies winked out as his voice dropped to ice. "I should have tracked you down and killed you before." He spun on his heel and stalked down the stair.

I went to the arena fairly directly, but could not outpace the rumor. I knew there was a lot of betting going on. I didn't ask who bet which way. I hope to never know. The stands of the arena were filling quickly, and arena officials held me in a small room below the arena floor for an hour before ushering me to a door.

This was no gladiatorial game. There was no pretense of handshakes. The doors on opposite sides of the arena floor opened simultaneously. I dove through and rolled quickly to my right as a bolt erupted into a raging ball of elemental energy that scorched the page who had opened the door. "You would be Archmage and you do not even bring your wizard's staff!" Trebonius taunted as he launched another bolt. "What sort of wizard are you, muckscum?"

I had to drop my spear as I quickly drew an egg of electrical energies about myself that protected me from half the blast. "I'm an effective wizard Trebonius. What Vvardenfell needs, not a pompous preener like you. I enchanted this spear and it serves me well, and it will pop your useless heart." The frosty energies of the Dwarven Icepick spear coursed along the shaft as I gathered it back into my hands. I was only slightly damaged by his previous spell, and calculated that with all my protective spells and the shelter of my heavily enchanted Daedric shield I could actually withstand a direct hit. I charged.

I did take that direct hit. The bolt exploded directly against my shield, but did not break the momentum of my attack. There was no second spell. I had taken away Trebonius' favorite spells by drawing too close. His huge blasts require some range, for his own safety. Our weapons crashed together in a fountain of elemental energies. Frost, flame, and great sheets of lightning danced and swayed over our heads.

Trebonius is a master of destructive magic, perhaps the finest in the guild, but he lacks diversity. Though his staff is powerful it merely duplicates his own elemental spells. I have seen him scoff at enchanters and alchemists. Today he saw first hand what skillful enchanting can do. My shield protects me constantly, and not just from physical attack. And while I knew that could not quite match his unarmored quickness he badly underestimated how quickly I would be able to move in my heavy ebony armor. He did not know that underneath the ebony leggings pulsed the enchanted energies of my pants of strongleg. They give me the strength to move the ebony as if it were the lightest mesh. He did not know, and he never will.

When Trebonius had fallen there was a hush, then an eruption of cheers. He was not popular in the guild, and certainly not outside of it. As the Archmage it will be my first task to mend some of the relationships he left torn asunder.

5 Comments:

Anonymous mikekearn said...

That was amazing! I knew it would eventually happen, but it was still incredible when Arvil beat Trebonius. You are a true master with words, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for all the events to unfold. It is good to know the heights of challenge that Arvil is up to meeting. Great job.

3:57 PM  
Blogger frootat31 said...

Very well written duel between mages. I particularly enjoy how you mesh the politics of Morrowind into the story as well. Very fine reading here!

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW ! !

- Angela

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Gothos said...

Wonderful. I could sit back and see the scene in my mind.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... splendidly written but yet, i wish it would show how he died like, the ice pick went through his Blue robes strait into his ribs. Or if u casted a spell and he EXPLODED

9:58 PM  

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