Chapter Twelve: Two Old Fools
The High Crest Haelosther DuVulk was relaxing on his seat of spheres. He stroked his lustrous silver beard with one hand as his burning bright eyes stared at a large ball of mirror that hovered in the air above him. The room he was in whispered with power of sealed spherical artefacts in spheres lodged in the walls.
On the mirror ball was the image of a haggard man, another aehi, almost a skeleton, he looked like he hadn’t slept in days, deep black rings around his brown eyes of which he curiously had three, a third resting in his forehead. His fair brown hair was a mess, a round fat amber bird with a creamy breast was sitting on it too, sleeping. It was in a number of ways like what you would have gotten had you made an owl out of a ball, or a ball out of an owl.
The bird was supposedly one of a kind, not only that perhaps because of that, the bird was actually a homunculus, an artificially created being. It was the artefact that this man, Zamelnah, had found on his quest when he had been younger. He called the bird Golobos.
Zamelnah was one of the mages beneath Yagmalral. He had one duty in particular, that of watching those of House Vulk who had left to seek out spherical artefacts. The job even had a title. Head Monitor. Zam even had a few mages under his authority, after all even Zam’s spells could not keep up with all that happened. He was certainly not the best Head Monitor House Vulk had seen.
“…Silralve ran the chlan that was pretending to be the ambassador through, but only she and her companions were aware of the fell being’s true nature so they had to flee. Though a while afterwards the council figured it out, particularly when the inquisitor they ordered to investigate the matter attacked one of the council members right in front of them. That council member turned out to be a twisted being as well. In all there was four chlan, one got away and a few of the council members were slain by the chlan in panic. Only three members of the original council of the holnhold Dreadbroken remain. We will have no diplomatic issues with them I suspect.”
Zam finished explaining. He normally just sent a report to the High Crest, but sometimes it seemed that Haelosther’s idea of relaxing was hearing about the adventures of the questing members of House Vulk from him directly. Zam supposed it was also faster to just listen to someone’s summary than watch the whole records too. It was a bit of a waste considering that the High Crest was one of the few people permitted to watch the records.
Haelosther laughed, it was a genuine jolly thing, rumbling from deep within his belly. Zam had been surprised the first time he had heard it. Then, his respect for the High Crest increased.
Haelosther you see, was both feared and loved, and much of the reason for this was that he actually cared about House Vulk, collectively and individually.
“Silralve’s perceptions are brilliant, but she has such trouble thinking the consequences of her own actions through. Hopefully she will learn to direct that mind towards herself, now who is next on the list, Zamelnah?” Haelosther asked.
“Ah, let me see, yes My High Crest, it would be Ivakilnah, son of Faerlogga and Tylinn”
“Ivakilnah, I shall hear this one from Yagmalral” Haelosther commanded.
“High Crest? Head Mage Yagmalral does not generally pay much attention to these matters, she has a habit of turning reports I send her into animate paper birds, even if the reports were not paper. Ones which go after Golobos I might add. Golobos doesn’t mind, but it is quite distracting, I don’t send her many reports.” Zam said.
“She will have paid attention to this one, I believe”
“Because it is Ivak, High Crest?”
Ivak was well known in House Vulk, though most thought him relatively unimportant. It was however, a comfort to the members of the house to see him painting happily with Claroosa peacefully by his side.
“Yes” Haelosther said.
With that, Zam questioned no more and his image simmered away, leaving Haelosther looking at himself.
“Sometimes, this room feels more like a prison than a seat of power” he whispered.
“Oh dear, you aren’t breaking on me are you old man?” Yagmalral’s sharp voice cut through.
Her hatchet face followed shortly afterwards on the mirrorsphere, starlit black hair spilling over a red fur coat.
“No, not at all Yagma, I just get a bit tired these days, things would go badly for House Vulk were I to stretch my power unthinkingly.”
“Good, cause the elders would likely panic and toss the position to me if something suddenly happened, and that’d really be the end of our House. So Twitters was saying you want to hear about little Ivaki, from me.”
“Yes, I owe it to his mother, and the sacrifice she made leaving him with us”
“Not much of a sacrifice if you ask me, she ditches the kid and gets to go continue adventuring about with Faerlogga, and you haven’t said why you think I’d be watching Ivaki.” Yagma sniffed.
“You are so terrible at being honest with your feelings Yagma, you know that she wished to take the child with her, she might have done so had he been born crestless”
“Fine life that would have been!, she could have given up adventuring, stayed here.”
“Would she have coped, staying here? Tylinn was a wanderer when Faerlogga met her, and she was one afterwards, it is a wonder she even joined with Faerlogga, that she stayed as long as she did” Haelosther challenged.
Yagmalral was silent for a time.
“I thought not, but why must we have this argument every time they come up? You know why you have ill feelings for Ivak’s parents, why I know you will have watched Ivak, and why I wish for you to tell me how his journey fares”
“I do, but you’ll not get me to say it from my own lips”
“You never have had a child yourself, you love Ivak as a mother loves her child, but you could never be a mother to him, not with your duties, not when you had not born him yourself, you perhaps could have been a sort of a mother, had Tylinn not resisted her wanderlust as long as she did.”
“Why do you do this to me Hae? Show me my vilest and brightest bits together?”
“I do not fear you, I remember the cheeky girl who would find her way to my knee, and ask for stories of older times, you could not be stopped”
“You could have stopped me”
“Yes, but I must relax sometime, It would be unfortunate for House Vulk to have a madman for High Crest”
“Ah! House Vulk is over! I didn’t even know it! A madman is High Crest!”
Haelosther laughed, and soon Yagmalral was cackling with him.
*huueh* Yagmalral drew breath “I call you an old coot, but really we’re a pair of old fools”
“Perhaps we are… now, tell me of Ivaki, for I also owe this to Claroosa Mjorn, for disturbing the peace that she asked for when she returned from her journey, bearing that glorious hard won prize for house Vulk”
“I still don’t get why she wanted to settle down, even crestless, she could have founded her own House for Mjorn, and with Vulk’s full support”
“She offered to do so for Mjorn, but their elders felt it was better that after all she had been through, she ask for a boon that was deepest in her heart, aside from that if Mjorn wanted to form their own house, I believe they would do it, our support or not. If not for Claroosa’s own words, Ivakilnah would never have left, or at the least, would have left alone. Mjorn may be branch family but they do not lack for mettle”
“No, I don’t think anyone could accuse them of that, and I didn’t know that, about Claroosa, I had always thought it a bit odd that she just quietly became the servant of Tylinn and Ivak. After what I saw her do, I have to say it gave me weird feelings seeing her pretend to be horse for the child”
“Actually she pretended to be a cow, she even mooed”
“She handled it very well, after all, it wasn’t as if he knew what sort of slur that is for huldre, he was very embarrassed when he discovered that particular truth when reading a book years later”
Yagmalral cackled “Why do you even need me to tell you how his journey fares when you already know everything, I hadn’t even heard that one”
“I only know most of what goes on here, still have no idea where your predecessor is, or what his research is… that one gives me a few sleepless nights actually.”
“You mean you didn’t know? Huh, well, I’m holding that for ransom for more stuff you haven’t told me”
“Agreed, but first tell me of Ivakilnah, and Claroosa” Haelosther demanded.
“Ok, you have me, so it begins with him getting the bright idea to try buying an artefact…”
So Yagmalral told Haelosther of all that Ivakilnah and Claroosa had gone through.
“…so they vanished from my sight for a while inside Galshea, I got a little worried to be honest, but then they appeared again in Awarth.”
“Well, that is interesting, that there is a… well I suppose it couldn’t be called safe, a way to Awarth inside Galshea, still, I’d prefer not to get involved with that place, though I shall ask Rimlasnathines a few pointed questions I suppose, he is sure to know something, Lathinles being his domain. I am pleased with Ivak’s progress, you can see the effects of Claroosa raising him”
“Yes, Mjorn mettle eh? Oh one other thing, you know the merchant? Turns out the thief was in league with him, double crossed him to boot, left a rather large note pinned to his tent. Nobody could prove anything but it seemed that he had annoyed or cheated enough people that the town just gathered together to run him out. Though, what was surprising was that when they came to his tent, it was mostly empty only a few goods left behind”
“That merchant should hope that he never crosses paths with House Vulk again”
“I could always track him down or send something nasty after him!” Yagmalral suggested hopefully.
Then Haelosther spent the next hour convincing Yagmalral not to send something nasty after the merchant, mostly because he didn’t want to encourage that sort of behaviour from her.
Yagmalral had a single question for Haelosther when she was about to get back to work.
“Why did you assign Claroosa to Ivak knowing that she would likely join him on his journey when he got older?”
Haelosther simply grinned and replied.
“Tylinn failed to resist her wanderlust”
Yagmalral cackled, and her image was gone, and Haelosther, High Crest of House Vulk, was left, looking at his own face once more.