55: Unable to attend
After meeting Nine-toes at his house in Balmora I set out for Suran. Nevena Oles manor is not far out of town. She agreed immediately. Like Velanda Omani she is accustommed to doing what she is told. It is hard to have any confidence in this council. Perhaps if Dram Bero emerges from hiding he could turn out to be a leader.
I ended the day in Vivec City, with another discouraging view of the Hlaalu.
Yngling Half-Troll is a Nord. Crassius Curio, the perverse Imperial, does not provide a great recommendation for awarding council seats to other than Dunmer, but with the realities of the political situation it at least makes sense. A savage Nord, ancient enemy of the Dunmer, makes no sense at all.
Word travels fast. I was met at the door. Yngling manor is on the plaza level of Saint Olms canton and I was glad to be spared the scene, although smashing doors with the Foeshocker is certainly amusing. I was ushered directly into a lavish office. It was hard not to notice that the Nord councilman has no Dunmer on his staff. If I had not noticed the Moon and Star on my finger would have pointed it out. Nerevar was not far removed from the bitter bloody wars with the Nords. The voice of the ring immediately began whispering "Just kill him."
"So, I understand you are arranging a meeting of the House Council," he began.
"Yes. It is time for the council to take responsibility. There are pressing matters that have to be dealt with. War with the forces of Red Mountain is imminent."
"So what? My time is valuable. To attend this meeting my fee is two thousand drakes."
The ring got louder, but I tried to ignore it. "Just who do you think should pay a council member for attending a council meeting?" I asked.
"You, Velanda Omani, tax the people; I don't care. Since I don't really want to attend, I certainly don't care where you get the money...or if you do. I'll profit as well from this war on my own as I would with those spineless creatures. Now, as I said, my time is valuable. If you have anything more to say, set an appointment."
He turned his attention to some documents on his desk. Clearly I had been dismissed. The ring was roaring in my ears. As I rose I reached for the sword on my back. A field of sparkling blue magicka flooded the room, pouring off the hands of a Nord clad in bonemold armor. "No lightning today, Breton," he grated. The Foeshocker slid from the scabbard, but the spellsword's damping field negated the enchantment. He drew his own claymore of Dwemer metal. "Let us see how you are as a swordsman, without your blade's enchantment."
The idea of a 'fair fight' between two hacking brutes armed with huge swords did not really appeal to me, especially since the Nord was as huge as the sword. It also wasn't likely to happen. Half-Troll rose from behind his desk with a dagger gleaming in his hand, and the rest of his staff showed no inclination to stay out of the fight either.
I backed towards a corner of the room. "Councillor, if you are going to hire a spellsword," I began, "you really should see the mage's guild." I waved my hand casually, and the haze of magicka that had taken a solid count of ten to pour out of the Nord disappeared in an instant. "You could have done so much better than this half-witted Nord." Foeshocker erupted in a flash, and I immediately crossed it with the steel longsword of an Orc bearing in from my left. There was a boom of thunder and a sickening stench.
The spellsword and a leather clad Bosmer stopped their advance, looking doubtfully at Half-Troll. "This is ridiculous. Dunmer politics! Great houses! This council is meaningless and I have business to tend. Get someone else!"
"I suppose Dren sold you your council seat," I said.
"Of course! I was negotiating a contract with the temple, and it helped. Well worth the price. The deal is made now, I don't need to be involved in this. Tell this council that I will be unable to attend and they can get someone else."
"That would be satisfactory," I said. I let the tip of the great sword drift slowly down from the ready. "It would be, but for one thing that Dren neglected to tell you. Appointment to a House Council is for life. It is a posting of honor, not convenience." The outraged voice of the ring was in full cry now, and not much I could do to stop it, even if I had been inclined. I drove the desk back with a huge kick of my heavy Dwemer boot, sending the Nord sprawling, then turned on his remaining minions. "Spellsword, in the time it takes you to cast a spell there will be nothing left in this room but me and the stench of burning flesh. Disgusting as you both are I have no quarrel with you. Get out."
"Wait!" wailed the Nord behind the desk, but his cry fell on deaf ears.
"A council seat is an appointment of honor, Nord, and so is their personal guard. You bought your post, and your guards. As you can see, in this, Imperial coin is no substitute for honor."
He hefted to his feet and crouched with the dagger weaving in front of him. "Honor? And you claim to have honor Breton, with your armor and your mighty blade against my dagger?"
I lifted the visor of my helm so he could see my face. "You dare stand on honor with that in your hand? You think I don't recognize the enchantment of a jink-blade?"
"The Archmage?" he stammered.
"Yes. Archmage. Redoran. Hortator. Nerevarine. I am a man of many commitments. I'll pass on your regrets that you will not be keeping yours." The boom of thunder shook the canton as I split him in half.