Mirrored from Sythyry.
Me: “Good evening! I am glad to see you — particularly Zascalle and her family, whom I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see again. O wizards of Oorah Thrassen, the concern was less in your cases, for you are reliable.”
Zascalle: “How did you get here? How did you even find us? Thiane! You told me that no mage, no matter how good, could cast a spell beyond the spell’s power in miles!” Which is an approximately fundamental law of magic. My best spells have a power of about a hundred and twenty, which is adequate for a wizard. It is, of course, seven or eight thousand miles from Eigrach to Oorah Thrassen. Few wizards can routinely achieve a power of a single thousand, much less several of them — and by “few” I mean “none that I know of”.
Me: [quietly] “Did you really think that would slow me down?”
Thiane: “But … a fundamental law of magic, no obstacle?”
Me: [quietly] “I am a wizard of the line of Glikkonen.” Carefully calculated to flatter Saza, too, who is precisely as much a descendant of Glikkonen as I am.
Kzip La Hish and Nangbang stared at me, eyes wide with alarm and calculation. They were surely thinking that:
- I knew how to get around a fundamental law of magic, or maybe
- I had a very clever approach to the problem (which I do — I thought of how to do it while I was trying to fall asleep on the way — of using a lot of Tempador to follow their track in the past; it should work somehow or other), or maybe
- I can somehow cast a spell with the Power of eight thousand or so — actually add another thousand and some, for safety — thereby achieving power ratings an order of magnitude more than the best wizard ordinarily does.
Saza came to my aid.
Saza: [delightedly] “You can do that?”
Me: “So it would seem!”
La Hish: “What was it?”
Saza: “A family specialty; pay it no mind.” The family speciality being, of course, careful manipulation of the family reputation. We would leave the other wizards uncertain about what ‘that’ is, about whether it would help me in a battle against them, and, of course, whether Saza could do ‘that’ too.
Saza: “Coz! Your ex-clients here have dropped by with the most remarkable story, and we were wondering about it. Particularly about the part that tells whether this boy Feralan is safe to allow in a city.”
Me: “Well, in fact, I do have somewhat of a story to tell about them, too.”
Nangbang: “And does this story of yours concern my daughter and her marriage to that … that … thing?”
Me: “If that ‘thing’ is my adoptive daughter, yes, it more or less begins with an attempt to buy her a present.” Which lead to an extended reading from my journal, though stopping well short of the parts that explain how I tracked the fugitives up here..
La Hish: “That’s not precisely what Zascalle told us.”
Me: “Out of curiosity, what did Zascalle tell you?”
To start at the end, Zascalle was discovered trying to, perhaps, doorway a monster into Oorah Thrassen, by means of illusion spells. She identified the monster as her son (true) merged with a Locador elemental (true). Neither sort of being would be excluded from a city (true, though in the case of Locador elementals, that is a practical matter rather than a preferred policy, as we cannot sensibly exclude the servitors of a god), so of course the combination should not be excluded either (which does not follow). Some wizards were called upon to look into the situation and make a judgment of what to do. This is where I showed up.
The Story According to Zascalle
To start at the beginning:
- I and my pet nendrai were much given to wizardous experiments concerning the preservation and mutation of the spirit, with the ultimate end of transforming Lithia into some shape which avoids her horrible birth defect. (We have, indeed, done such experiments.)
- My pet nendrai abducted Quendry, Feralan and Ochirion for doubtless-evil purposes of her own. These purposes included an assault on Jinteros, although that was repulsed, with casualties. (I won’t argue this much.)
- Vae exhibited the greatest recklessness getting the victims back to Eigrach. Feralan was merged with a Locador elemental, perhaps due to the great speed of the trip. (No, to keep him alive. I have no idea why Zascalle was lying about this. The rest of her lies at least made sense.)
- Sythyry was eager to heal Quendry, delegating several adventurers and a great deal of money to getting a Grace of Mircannis for the Cani lad. Her (Zascalle’s) own children got no such special treatment. In particular, Sythyry was doing next to nothing to treat Feralan, whose case was much more serious than Quendry’s. For Quendry, the worst that would happen could be death. For Feralan, it could be much worse indeed. Still, Sythyry refused to even try anything. (I wrote to lots of people in Ketheria for advice! Including Saza! I don’t want to do random dangerous things!)
- Nor was Vae at all restrained or pacified. She remains at liberty — a terrible danger to everyone on Strayway, and indeed everyone on Srineia! (Actually, Vae is under all the social restraints I can manage. I have no other means of restraining her.)
- So, Zascalle and Thiane, as responsible parents, were obliged to remove their children from the dangers of Strayway. (A fair and reasonable point.)
- As a corollary, they were obliged to collect a quantity of money sufficient to pay their expenses — these expenses to include the disenchantment of Feralan. Since that could be fairly expensive, they took a substantial sum as their share. Similarly, they have a substantial grievance against me and Vae: we have worked an incomprehensible, even infinite, injury upon Feralan. The monies collected represent, in part, an out-of-court settlement for that injury. (I do not think that ’share’ or ’settlement’ are strictly applicable here.)
- They were coming to throw themselves on the mercy of Nangbang and La Hish, knowing full well their undying and endless justice and mercy. (La Hish and Nangbang found this concept distinctly amusing and implausible.)
- Knowing full well my vicious and vengeful nature, they took a circuituous path and laid several false trails on their way here, but they were somehow discovered or betrayed. (Much laughter by the judges.)
- They continue to throw themselves on the mercy of Nangbang and La Hish. (Nangbang: “Do you have the mercy today, Kzip? I’m sure I do not!”)
Me: “Their story is two parts truth, four parts falsehood, and six parts misinterpretation.”
Zascalle: “Sythyry is attempting to present everything in a much better light than actually is true!”
Me: “Kzip La Hish, have you a truthspell at your disposal?”
Zascalle: “What is this? Infamous! Only a vile scoundrel such as Sythyry would demand the use of Mentador magic upon me!”
La Hish: “I do. Who would you propose I use it on?”
Me: “Me. Zascalle and Thiane if they want, too. I would pay for the cley, but someone has stolen all my money.”
La Hish: “I shall charge it to the city guard, as a form of civic defense.”
Me: “Vae hasn’t quite understood about Mentador. So I’m somewhat used to it, myself.”
So I explained which parts of my journal were literally true (most of it), and which parts were somewhat exaggerated for dramatic effect but were largely true (most of the rest) and which were purely fabricated (a few conversations that were not actually reported to me, but even there I get the substance of them as correct as possible).
Kzip cast her truthspell. Saza, Nangbang, and Thiane stared intently to make sure I wasn’t doing any sneaky wizardly cheating on it, which I was not.
La Hish: “Zascalle? Would you care to undertake a similar experiment?”
Zascalle: “I shall not be coerced into being the subject of mind-magic!”
Thiane: “There’s no need to endure that indignity. They know things now, will we or nill we.” She wagged her tail, eager to try to balance some overstrained loyalty to Zascalle with some scanted loyalty to me. Or, eager to appease me as much as possible, and thereby get the best treatment available. “I’ll explain. Most of the facts we said are true. We did need to get Feralan and Ochirion away from Vae; she’s far too dangerous. But we did need to have Feralan healed, and Sythyry really wasn’t doing much. So we stole a lot of money so we could pay for whatever he needs.”
Me: “And if what he needs is a wizard and enchanter working for a few years on him, as seems likely…?”
La Hish: “La hush!”
Me: “And that’s not the whole of the story. The banks said that some of the transactions had been in the works for two years — long before Feralan’s accident.”
Thiane: “… yes … we’d been thinking about it for years … and … skimming off a little here and there.”
Zascalle: “Thiane! Be quiet!”
Me: “Remarkably foresighted, since Feralan was abducted last month. If you were that foresighted, though, why not stay in Vheshrame, where Feralan was safe from Vae?”
Thiane: “… We were’t going to do it. I mean, we were doing it, but only just a little bit. We just had some plans in case everything went horrible.”
Me: “Which, given my history, was certain to happen in a matter of weeks or months!”
Saza: “Well, the situation is now clear, and our course of action is plain. This is a matter of crime among the citizens of Vheshrame — so, let us let the citizens of Vheshrame deal with it among themselves.”
La Hish: “The situation is not so clear. Should Feralan be allowed in the city? “
Nangbang: “The situation about these visitors, that is. They are all insane and malevolent, and it matters little who does what to whom. What is not clear is, what we shall do about it, and how Dorze and Whatever-Eyes … and her horrid fiancée … enter the picture. Sythyry has a substantial amount to answer for!”