Lathenil of Sunhold - part I

Taminwe had told the reporter that when the Oblivion Crisis started, the seas around the Summerset Isle had seen their worst storms for centuries. Sailors who turned back to the mainland to avoid them reported seeing wreckage floating on the ocean from the vessels that had been caught up when they started. The storms had ended when the Avatar of Akatosh sent Dagon back to the deadlands, but it seemed there were no sea-worthy vessels left to cross the Abacean Sea from the ports of the Summerset Isle.

The ship that had berthed in Anvil had started its voyage in Hammerfell, probably from Hegathe or Gilane. It was likely moving on to Valenwood and Elsweyr, and they might see it again at Leyawiin. If the crew were still in Anvil, he was to ask them what they knew of the conditions in the port cities of the Summerset Isles. Any news from Hammerfell would not be unwelcome, either.

The reporter had just walked onto the docks at Anvil, when he was accosted by a robed Altmer, with a deep tan and an angry expression.

"You there, have you seen Rynandor?"

"Who's Rynandor?"

"Like me, he's a Master Wizard, not the sort of person you just don't notice. But everyone here denies having seen him! Why are they all lying?"

"Perhaps he's just not here?"

"How could he not be here? He was on the ship before mine. I'd have been on the same vessel if I hadn't just missed it at the port. When they sentenced him to exile I was determined to accompany him, but I didn't account for their haste."

"Yours was the only ship that's come here from the Summerset Isle. Apparently Rynandor's didn't arrive yet. Was it sailing directly here?"

"Yes, that was the sole purpose of the voyage, to take Rynandor into exile. Why would they go anywhere else? Those accursed Thalmor must have done something to prevent it getting here. They're behind all of this!"

"Who are these Thalmor? I've not heard that name before."

"The Thalmor are one of the syndicates of wizards in the Summerset Isle. They're clearly trying to seize control of the province. They claimed to have defeated the force of invading Daedra that toppled the Crystal Tower, and they've got most of the people believing them. More likely they brought it down themselves, just so they could destroy their opposition among the other mages."

"The Crystal Tower has fallen?"

"Yes, the Tower of Crystal-like-Law, and the University it housed, with its library and laboratories, all gone! And no sooner had the Tower fallen, than the Daedra all disappeared. The Thalmor claimed responsibility for the latter. If they had that power, why didn't they use before the Crystal Tower was lost? Because it didn't suit their plans! And if they could dismiss the Daedra like that, what's to say they didn't summon them in the first place?"

"The Mythic Dawn did that. And the Daedra were banished when Martin Septim defeated Mehrunes Dagon in the Imperial City. Presumably from all of Tamriel." The reporter recounted what he knew of the Mythic Dawn.

"So the Thalmor were in league with these Mythic Dawn people? Was Mankor Camoran an Altmer? Not that it would have mattered. The Thalmor will deal with anyone to further their ends. And then stab them in the back when they have no more use for them!"

The reporter continued his conversation with the agitated wizard for a few more minutes, trying to calm him down enough that his rantings would make sense. He considered using a Calm spell, but he knew that he didn't have the skill to do so without it being noticed. He found out that the Altmer's name was Lathenil of Sunhold, and that he'd been among the defenders of the Crystal Tower. He guessed that the stresses of that battle had rather unhinged the wizard.

The Daedra had opened a Great Gate just outside their defences, just as they'd done at Kvatch, and Bruma. The Siege Crawler had emerged and attacked the Tower, which toppled quickly, as if it had been held up by magical forces that had been dispelled. Fortunately, most of the defenders had evacuated before the collapse, but the contents of the library and laboratories had been lost.

Lathenil blamed all the misfortunes of his people on the Thalmor. He denied that they had the power to defeat the Daedra, yet attributed them equal power to afflict their own kin. The reporter had little idea what was fact, and what was exaggeration, and what was just plain supposition on Lathenil's part. He was clearly not a neutral observer, but just where his loyalties lay was unclear, other than his opposition to the Thalmor. He tried to get Lathenil to make statements that other agents could verify, but most of it was just a stream of accusations of Thalmor duplicity.

The conversation was interrupted when Lathenil glanced over the reporter's shoulder, and swore in Aldmeris. (At least it sounded like he was swearing, the reporter didn't know the language that well.) The wizard's glance was swiftly followed by a fireball, but when the reporter turned to follow it, he saw no-one.

That changed when the fireball struck someone. An outline of flame appeared where nobody had been standing a moment before, and a man's voice expressed considerable discomfort. As the flames died out, a slight shimmering in the air replaced them. Whoever was there was using a chameleon spell or equipment, and presumably still a threat. Now that his attention had been drawn to the invisible adversary, he could detect the distorted outline of a Bosmer (he was too short to be anything else).

The reporter backed away, not letting his eyes leave the Bosmer, or he'd have never found him again. He heard the angry shout of an Anvil Guard, as he ran to intervene, and saw another fireball strike. This time, its target fell, and the chameleon dissipated.

The guard bent and examined the body. The Bosmer was holding a silver dagger, enchanted with Drain Magicka, clearly a weapon for use on a mage. He'd approached undcer chameleon, too, and had he struck first, Lathenil would have found it difficult to respond. That didn't matter to the guard. Lathenil had attacked first, so he was under arrest. He could argue his case later, in a court, but not now.

The reporter advised Lathenil not to resist. There were other guards running towards them, and the odds were not in his favor. Remarkably, the wizard was rational enough to agree.

The reporter found a note on the Bosmer's corpse that confirmed that he'd been hired to kill Lathenil. Naturally, it gave no clue who'd sent him. The Altmer may be deranged and paranoid, but he did at least have some justification for it.

He decided that he needed to know more, so he'd go pay a Lathenil a visit in jail. But fIrst he'd ask around the docks for any other news from the ship.

As he expected, the ship Lathenil arrived on had already sailed on for Valenwood. There were no other passengers, and all the goods they'd unloaded had come from Hammerfell. Nobody had any information on the missing vessel with Rynandor. There was nothing to say he wasn't an invention of Lathenil's.

Lathenil was a lot less agitated behind bars, and talked quite rationally to the reporter about what he knew. He admitted feeling a lot safer in the jail, although he wished the guards had let him keep his ring of life detection. The reporter suggested that he ask the jailor to wear it, just in case, and that idea seemed to cheer Lathenil considerably.

The reporter had shown the Bosmer's dagger, and the note that he found, to the magistrate, and got Lathenil's sentence reduced. That got Lathenil worried again, as he'd be back in danger when he was released. He needed somewhere to hide from the Thalmor.

Perhaps it was the earlier mention of the Mythic Dawn that put the idea into his head, but the reporter saw a similarity with Silanu's case. Gweden farm was a perfect place for her to take cover, and maybe it would be just as good for the Altmer. The fact that he wouldn't mind visiting there if he needed to question Lathenil again had nothing to do with it.

He mentioned Silanu, and he could tell that Lathenil was intrigued by the idea. Perhaps a taste of her discipline would do him some good, too.

His time with the prisoner was up, and he left the Castle. He skirted the town wall and joined the road up to the farm. He'd better let Tsarrina know that she had a guest arriving shortly. He had no doubt that Lathenil would pay hansomely for the protection (and other services), but it was just the courteous thing to do.

The Breton girl he met just outside the farm wasn't one he knew, but she came right up to him and kissed him as soon as she saw him.

That was the last thing he remembered.