59: The slowest house
"We have been very busy Arvil Bren," he said. "I am really surprised at how much this council business has cut into my time. I hardly get any research done."
"There won't be any research done at all if Dagoth Ur's ash vampires take over your tower." Moon and Star tugged in its pouch, and I was sure that if I slipped it on my finger the glow would be blinding...and angry. "Baladas, the Hlaalu have confirmed me as Hortator. I need to get out in the Ashlands and get the support of the tribes. I don't really have much more time for games with your house."
"I understand," he said, "and so does Aryon, and Neloth. Working with Gothren is hopeless though. I know you want his power aligned against Dagoth Ur, but I don't think there is any solution to his obstruction but the Telvanni solution."
"Meaning kill him," I said to clarify.
"What about Therana?"
"That's another problem," he said.
"You said that she would listen to Neloth."
"She will, and she does...mostly. But she also listens to Gothren. She also listens to spiders."
"Yes. Spiders that only she can see. Spiders that she remembers would be more accurate I suppose."
The conversation was drifting. The ring was getting even more impatient, and I must admit that it was drawing me along. "Will I get her support or not?"
"You will if you ask for it."
"So if the rest of the council is united how can Gothren disagree?"
"He says that Therana is not competent to decide such an issue. True enough, really. Therana no longer really recognizes what the Hortator is. Her vote makes no difference, but she has powerful retainers that will be very useful against Dagoth Ur, otherwise I would have supported Trerayne Dalen's claim to Tel Branora."
"Trerayne Dalen? Who is that?" I asked.
"She is an Oathman of the house," he said. "She has gotten embroiled in a feud with Therana; a feud which Therana is completely ignoring, or perhaps is not even aware of. Dalen would certainly support you if she were elevated to Therana's seat on the council, and Aryon and I gave it some consideration. She just does not have enough to offer."
"Enough to offer? Now you sound like the Hlaalu, selling council seats at auction."
"I'm not talking about gold, Arvil Bren, I'm talking about power. She and her retainers do not have the power to take Tel Branora without help, they would be of little use against Dagoth Ur."
"Better something than nothing," I mused.
"True, and Therana herself is of no use at all; but her retainers are loyal not just to her, they are loyal to the house, and they are very strong. If Therana would allow it they would crush Dalen and her rag tag band. They will be very good to have on our side, but with the uproar in Tel Branora we aren't getting anywhere."
So I am once again at sea, rounding Vvardenfell on the Grytewake. This time I have no need for the guise of a trader. As claimant to the title of Hortator it is my responsibility to make peace between the conflicting factions in Tel Branora...one way or another.